Ring of Honor review (May 24): Silas Young, Caprice Coleman, Jay Lethal, Kevin Steen & Cliff Compton triumph in The Champ’s ROH debut

For years, I’ve been mildly intrigued by non-WWE wrestling, but never really pulled the trigger outside of TNA. I was sucked into an episode of Impact in 2009 and stuck with it for about two years, until one day I finally was fed up with the booking. I can’t remember what match it was, but I told my wife, “If so-and-so wins, I’m done.” So-and-so won, and I haven’t watched a minute since.

I first heard of Ring of Honor about five years ago. The closest I came to actually watching it was some episode centered around Matt Hardy this past winter. Yawn. Knowing the reputation it’s had as a launching point for many current upper-echelon WWE competitors, the intrigue finally got the best of The Champ this week.

The first impression? Meh.

The most recent episode felt like just another wrestling show. Coming off a couple major events with New Japan Pro Wrestling and a No. 1 contender’s match between Michael Elgin and A.J. Styles the week before, ROH didn’t have much in terms of storyline buildup for this hour. The closest we got was for the main event, in which Kevin Steen and Cliff Compton apparently form an odd-couple pairing to battle Outlaw Inc. None of the four matches were duds, but none were particularly great. It’s clear ROH saves its best stuff for special events, kind of like NXT has done for ArRIVAL and Takeover this year.

I like Silas Young as a “man’s man” heel, and Caprice Coleman as an athletic semi-evangelistic babyface. I’ve always been a fan of Jay Lethal‘s work when he shows up on the screen. But the characters don’t seem to have nearly as much depth as in the more mainstream promotions, and the production values, as expected, are a few steps below the major leagues.

Was an isolated, taped TV episode worth the years-long hype the company has built in my eyes? Not even close. Was the same episode worth giving ROH another shot? Oh, we’ll totally be back next week. After all, my first impression of NXT wasn’t all that great either.

Anyway, on to the stuff that actually matters.


ROH 052414 Silas Young


Young calls himself “Pro Wrestling’s Last Real Man”, and I tend to believe him. He’s from Milwaukee, he has the mustache of an ’80s Brewers infielder, he starts with a pair of side headlocks … he’s manly enough. Page no-sells a shoulder tackle, and Young gets angry enough to dropkick him and clothesline him. Fallaway slam attempt countered, and Page does the eighth-grade go-on-all-fours-and-trip-him-move, followed by an elbow drop. “Ego” gets tied up in the ropes, and Young hits a springboard clothesline, then it’s time for five elbow drops and a cover. Back to the side headlock, and Page breaks out, hits a backdrop, kicks Young and hits a cool DDT variation for 2. Since this isn’t WWE, I get the feeling I won’t be able to name half these signature moves. I can however, name a rolling senton where Young lands on his feet. He goes for a springboard moonsault but lands on his feet when Page moves, and Page climbs the ropes for a a jumping enziguiri. Want a manly finisher? Try a backbreaker/short lariat combo.

Time: 5:27

Technical Merit: Page still seems a little … green? But I was impressed with Young.

Artistic Impression: Pretty basic story. Manly wrestler beats less-manly, less-skilled wrestler.


ROH 052414 Silas Young 2

Kevin Kelly says Young has said some of the most politically incorrect things in professional wrestling. We’ll see right here.

Never again, never again will i be disrespected the way I was tonight with this opponent. It’ sreal simple: I’m the last real man in professional wrestling. I’m Silas Young, and I’ve spent too damn long being overlooked. So if Ring of Honor doesn’t want to give me the opportunities I deserve? Then I’m gonna make my own opportunity, and I’m gonna take it, whether you like it or not.

That was pretty basic, old-school, PC promo. Nice oversell, Kelly.


ROH 052414 Jimmy Jacobs The Decade

The guy in the middle looks about 130 soaking wet, so he must not be the one competing. In fact, it’s Tadarius Thomas. He’ll face an apparent real-life preacher man!

TADARIUS THOMAS (w/Jimmy Jacobs and Adam Page) vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN

Before the match, Coleman informs us that life’s about choices — today’s choices can affect the rest of our lives, and if you let the wrong people in your head, they’ll mess you up. He talks about Jesus, then tells Thomas he can be a legend in life … or he can listen to The Decade. He refers to Jacobs as a cross between Marilyn Manson and Prince, then calls him an “artist formerly known as talented.” That’ll get a boot to the gut to get this going, and Thomas is in control before the break.

On the way back, Coleman hits an STO and strikes T.D. into the corner. He hits a Northern Lights suplex, rolls over and hang on, hits a second, repeats and hits a THIRD with a bridge for 2. That was awesome. Inverted atomic drop is blocked, and Thomas hits what looks a like a rear exploder suplex. Thomas goes up top, but Coleman leaps up for the Frankensteiner, faceplants him and hits a sick top-rope leg lariat for the win.

Time: 4:11

Technical Merit: Great athleticism. Coleman has a different style than I’m used to seeing, and I like it!

Artistic Impression: Coleman beats Thomas, then tries to get him to leave The Decade. After all, why would you want to be in a group where the manager plants your head into the mat with his foot after you lose, then kicks Page in the gut WHEN HE’S NOT EVEN IN THE MATCH? Jacobs is a tool.



ROH 052414 Jay Lethal Truth Martini

This whole foray into ROH started because someone posted a picture of Jay Lethal on Twitter, and I said I missed him from TNA four years ago. Someone directed me to ROHWrestling.com, and in the first episode, we get to see the World Television Champion … and apparently a freshly-turned heel. Lethal wipes his nose with one of the customary entrance streamers to drive the point home.

His interesting-looking new manager, Truth Martini, said his job is to open the eyes of ROH wrestlers and lead them to greatness, but Lethal opened his eyes.

ROH 052414 Truth Martini

I don’t care … just give Jay the mic.

You can go ahead and stop clapping, because you fake guys are the same people who are gonna go home and tell everybody that I’m the worst wrestler in the world because I sold out. You guys are a bunch of fake sheep!

That’s how you start a promo.

ROH 052414 Jay Lethal Truth Martini 2

People are asking Lethal why. Right question, wrong people. We should ask ourselves why we turned our backs on him. He’s the 2012 Survival of the Fittest winner. He’s beaten Kurt Angle and Ric Flair, and on top of that he’s the ROH TV champ. He’s gonna make the TV title second to none … including the world title. So it’s open challenge time, and Cheeseburger, who makes Spike Dudley look like a Greek god, sprints in.

JAY LETHAL (c) vs. CHEESEBURGER, ROH World Television Championship

Let me guess … he’s called Cheeseburger because he needs to eat one? Kelly and Steve Corino talk about how he’s all heart, but heart won’t do a thing for the superkick with which Lethal leads off. It’s photo-op time on the apron …

ROH 052414 Jay Lethal Cheeseburger

… then Lethal pummels his 125-pound foe onto the floor. The beatdown continues, and briefly stops, when Brutal Bob runs down, but a Randy Savage-quality flying elbow drop later it’s … not over?! This must be where the heart part comes in, and the challenger even gets a few forearms in a strike exchange, then a couple chops and a crossbody, but even a fast count can’t keep Lethal down. Superkick to the gut from Lethal, then a backspring move attempt, but Cheeseburger counters with a rollout into a DDT for 2. Lethal goes back to the backspring for a cutter variation, the Lethal Injection. That’s a cool finisher.

A former TV champ, Matt Taven, runs in for another challenge, but Lethal declines and hits the runway. Tommaso Ciampa, the most recent TV champ, cuts him off, and this turns into a three-way brawl until the clearly more-competent-than-WWE referees break it up. Lethal is livid, and he challenges both men to a triple threat for the TV title next week to Truth’s chagrin.

Time: 4:20

Technical Merit: Basic, but effective. Surprised to see Cheeseburger get multiple offensive moves.

Artistic Impression: Fun little underdog story for 4 minutes that also establishes Lethal as a fighting champion. I’ve seen far worse.



Main event time, and speaking of guys I kind of miss from TNA, Homicide is in the house! But what’s with the silly-ass mask?

ROH 052414 Homicide

On another note, this is The Champ’s introduction to Kevin Steen, who must be good if he calls himself Mr. Wrestling. He has a chair, his teammate comes with a chair, and the Charm City Street Fight is on.

KEVIN STEEN & CLIFF COMPTON vs. OUTLAW, INC. (Eddie Kingston & Homicide), Charm City Street Fight

Late in the first minute, Steen, whose chair came from the crowd, uses a kid’s backpack to subdue Kingston. We also have a reference to an Orioles-Mariners brawl from about 20 years ago and about 10 namedrops. Various chair shots ensue, including Homicide crotching Compton with it and whipping him into the propped chair in the corner. Homicide, who’s wearing a tie for the occasion, dives out onto Steen. Back in the ring, Steen catches Homicide, then goes for the Go Home Driver, which looks like a Black Hole Slam, but goes into a White Noise variation. That was cool.

Break time, and when we’re back, Kingston is destroying Compton with the chair and Steen has a ladder. Steen is happy.

ROH 052414 Kevin Steen

He props it up in the corner, but Homicide turns the attention elsewhere with a tornado DDT. He tries to faceplant Steen into the ladder, but Steen blocks and the ladder bends. A back bodydrop later, Homicide’s body appears to finish the ladder off. Steen goes up top and waits for Kingston to get up, but he’s cut off. Compton slips inside and DDTs him as Corino and Kelly discuss Compton’s recent KFC commercial?! Interesting. More interesting: He sets up a chair and drop toeholds Kingston into it. Homicide comes in wearing a bunch of streamers, and Compton tosses him for a second ladder bump. Compton follows up with a Michinoku driver, then vacates the premises, only to return with a second, hopefully sturdier ladder. He DDTs Homicide, rolls him onto the old ladder, then sets up the new one?! Kingston stops the insanity by pushing it over and crotching Compton on the ropes as one of the announcers makes a “landed right on his ding-ding” reference. Steen’s back in, but Homicide hits the Ace Crusher on him onto the ladder. Steen fights off Kingston while Homicide is up top, uses Kingston to knock Homicide down and, while Homicide is in a predicament in the corner, Steen F-5s Kingston onto a ladder for the win.

Time: 8:58

Technical Merit: I mean … it was a street fight. A few cool spots and moves, though.

Artistic Impression: Chair shots, ladders, finishers onto ladders, etc. A cool story if you’re into that sort of thing.


Steen goes for a postmatch handshake with his partner, but Compton rejects it and leaves. Outlaw Inc. briefly ponders taking advantage of the 2-on-1 with Steen, who has a ladder in hand, but the heels dip out to finish the show. Wimps.

Check back next week for more ROH, and come back Monday morning for a review of WWE Payback. In the meantime, please place any thoughts/comments below, and follow The Champ on Twitter @jpetrie18.


NXT Takeover review: Adrian Neville retains his title over Tyson Kidd, Natalya and Charlotte show women’s wrestling is more than a show on E! Network, and Tyler Breeze steals the show with Sami Zayn

NXT Takeover Adrian Neville Tyson Kidd

I could’ve written three words on NXT ArRIVAL, WWE developmental’s first live special event: THIS is wrestling. The only question was whether NXT Takeover would follow up.

Was there another five-star match? No. That’s about all Takeover lacked, because the overall body of work raised the bar. I saw on someone declare on Twitter that NXT really is the “B” show in WWE, surpassing SmackDown. On nights like this, NXT is the pinnacle of professional wrestling in WWE.

Sami Zayn once again was in the best show on the card … though in defeat. Thanks to Charlotte and Natalya, we saw the best WWE women’s match at least since Trish Stratus and Lita were worthy of main-eventing RAW, and even those two couldn’t pull off the old-school mat-wrestling match the princesses of the Flair and Hart dynasties accomplished tonight. The NXT Championship match had to follow those, and Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd put on a title match that would’ve fit right in with the WCW cruiserweights of the late 1990s.

This was a professional wrestling show for professional wrestling fans. On a quarterly basis, NXT’s live specials will be the best wrestling a WWE fan can see.


One cool element of the Adam Rose Experience: It can start outside, then work its way into the arena. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of the opener.

NXT Takeover Adam Rose 1

The entrance has never been a question with Rose; it’s the ability. That question wasn’t entirely answered against a heel jobber who has shown glimpses of potential.


Full Nelson from Camacho, and Rose … um … grinds his way out. Don’t think that was a full twerk, but a valiant attempt. “Party pooper this!” from Camacho, then an impressive double underhook suplex. He has a decent power game for someone in the 230-pound range. Then he locks on what William Regal calls the single-arm necktie, but Rose works his way out and starts to get a little angry, but his burst of energy doesn’t last long, thanks to Camacho’s Chuck Taylors. Back to the necktie, and Rose starts to escape before Camacho heels on ’em and beats him down. Legdrop for 2, and Rose finally hits some offense with a kick. Leads with the jab, knockdown with the right. HUGE spinebuster, and Adam Rose looks a little more like Leo Kruger for a sec.

NXT Takeover Adam Rose 2

Crotch charge in the corner, then the Party Foul ends it. I’m still not sold on Rose, but that could’ve been much worse.

Time: 5:08

Technical Merit: Too much relying on the rest hold from Camacho, and we still only saw two actual wrestling moves from Rose.

Artistic Impression: But the crowd got behind Rose, which, I guess, is mostly what matters.



Cool video on Zayn’s journey to Takeover, starting with the best match I’ve seen in years. Zayn then explains just how different he and Tyler Breeze are. His resiliency and adaptability will be Breeze’s undoing.

Breeze, meanwhile, has entered the building, according to the lovely Eden Stiles.

NXT Takeover Eden Stiles

Well done, Cody Rhodes. Well done.


“Lucha! Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!”

This won’t be a squash for The Ascension, which automatically makes it feel like a big match.

NXT Takeover The Ascension

THE ASCENSION (c) vs. EL LOCAL & KALISTO, NXT Tag Team Championship

After being jumped, the challengers dump the champs outside. They go for stereo suicide dives, but receive stereo uppercuts instead. Once we get settled in, The Ascension are in control with quick tags and powerful offense. I wouldn’t mind seeing Viktor as a singles competitor somewhere down the line, maybe in a revamped cruiserweight/light-heavyweight division. He reminds me of Dean Malenko, not in the Man of 1,000 Holds way, but the light heavyweight who can straight-up kick your ass way. Kalisto is resilient as the babyface in peril, kicking out of a Viktor elbow drop as he’s stuck in the ropes. Konnor tosses Kalisto in the ropes from the outside twice, but counters on the second. That only seems to further anger The Ascension, as evidenced by a VICIOUS chop from Viktor. But an elbow and a hurricanrana from behind later, the hot tag comes to El Local, who isn’t quite at Kalisto’s level. Average-at-best moonsault for 2, and some 4-man chaos ensues. Kalisto does a nice roll-through and kick to Konnor, but it doesn’t matter since neither is legal. Once they exit, Viktor hits an STO that leads to the Fall of Man. Champs retain.

NXT Takeover The Ascension 2

Time: 6:17

Technical Merit: The Ascension can go. So can Kalisto. Lo siento, El Local.

Artistic Impression: Good story that felt like the faces would persevere.



Video on the most gorgeous man in wrestling. A WHOLE lot of selfies involved. He also touches on how he’s much more than a pretty face.

And with that, it’s time for the No. 1 Contender’s match … and the greatest entrance music in wrestling. No, not Zayn’s Mighty Mighty Bosstones inspired theme. I’m talking about a Tyler Breeze original.

But first, let him take a selfie.

NXT Takeover Tyler Breeze

SAMI ZAYN vs. TYLER BREEZE, NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s match

Slow buildup to start until an armdrag medley from Zayn at about 1:30. Breeze backs him down, but a kick puts the face (as opposed to The Face) back in control. Breeze charges Zayn while the latter’s on top. Zayn sticks out the leg, but Breeze blocks and pushes the leg (and Zayn) out for an apron bump outside. Another momentum swing results in a kneedrop and cover, then a bulldog variation, only he goes through the ropes and drive Zayn’s face into the second turnbuckle. Faceplant and cover, then a front facelock for a breather. Zayn finally, on the third lift, tosses Breeze forward to escape, then dumps him outside for a springboard moonsault variation that leads with the arm clubbing Breeze headfirst onto the floor. Back inside and a flying crossbody for 2. Blue Thunder Bomb at about 8:00 for 2 more.  Zayn goes up top, but has to leap over Breeze, then turns around into a kick to the gut and an impaler DDT for 2. Zayn grabs the ropes, but Breeze yanks him out of the corner into a sitout powerbomb?!?! for 2. This is Breeze’s breakout match right here. He is the wrestler people will talk about after this one. Well, at least until Zayn puts Breeze into the buckles with an exploder suplex. After a well-deserved breather, we enter the punch exchange portion of the program. Breeze ends it by trying to whip Zayn into the corner. Zayn puts on the brakes to avoid the ref, which turns into a rollup. Counter-reversal chain, and Breeze breaks free at the ropes and hits Sweet Chin Music on Zayn. Another count as both men are down. Breeze is up first for some strikes, and he tries to whip Zayn to no avail. Zayn sets up for a powerbomb, but Breeze rolls through. Zayn hangs on to the front facelock while Breeze straddles him and flips Breeze for a SICK powerbomb variation. Breeze dips out, and Zayn flip dives onto him. Zayn goes for a big boot in the corner, but Breeze ducks and Zayn injures his groin. That opens up the Beauty Shot and TYLER FREAKING BREEZE IS THE NO. 1 CONTENDER.

NXT Takeover Tyler Breeze 2

Time: 15:55

Technical Merit: That was not a WWE match. That’s a good thing in every way. So much innovation, great pacing and excellent work from both men.

Artistic Impression: We saw a different side of Tyler Breeze tonight — the tenacious, resilient heel who can beat the best wrestlers the company has. Zayn was excellent as always, but it’s hard to take him as a serious threat when he loses all his big matches.

TOTAL SCORE: ****1/2


This could be a huge night for this family.

NXT Takeover Natalya Bret Hart Tyson Kidd

Or they could come up empty. Either way, you know you’ll see two good matches.


I’ve never seen someone wave a flag so violently in my life. But nobody really cares because she’s here.

NXT Takeover Lana

She promos on how awesome Russia is or whatever. Rusev talks briefly, but it’s time to get hyped in the U…S…A… I mean, stay hyped. Mojo Rawley threatens to shove Rusev’s flag up his “Putin”, but Rusev beats the “Putin” out of Mojo. Regal: “Well, I’m on his side.” It’s not a bad place to be.

NXT Takeover Rusev Mojo Rawley



I just remembered, though I’m a Ric Flair mark till the day I die, I automatically hate Charlotte because she beat Alexa Bliss in the NXT Women’s Championship Tournament. Bliss is Kristen Bell cute … that will win my heart every time.

NXT 051514 Alexa Bliss

Back on topic, Natalya feels the pressure of being the trailblazer of the Hart family, being the first female grappler in the group. Charlotte, meanwhile, wanted to blaze her own trail separate from the Flair name, but has embraced it and become a completely different woman and wrestler since she began her wrestling career.

In addition to Flair and Bret HartPaige is here for this one, yet again debunking JBL‘s logic for stripping her of the NXT Women’s Championship. This will be two NXT matches and one live event appearance since losing that belt.

NXT Takeover Paige

Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

Quick promo time for the former champion, who says the next champion must be strong and have character, and the NXT title can lead to the WWE Divas Championship. Or, if Natalya wins, the reverse.

CHARLOTTE (w/Ric Flair) vs. NATALYA (w/Bret Hart), NXT Women’s Championship

New music for Charlotte as well … bit of a “2001” remix. I like it! It’s clear Nattie’s here to put Charlotte over, so we’ll see how competitive they can keep this match, as well as how much doubt they can preserve. Also, funny visual that shows Charles Robinson as the champion.

NXT Takeover Charles Robinson Charlotte

It’s only right “Little Naitch” is here for this one.

Charlotte slaps on a hammerlock, but Nattie reverses into an armbar. That’s reversed into a figure-four headlock before a break. This will be a WRESTLING match. Nattie headlock is escaped, and Charlotte puts on an armlock of her own. Nattie kips out and works on the left leg, which would neutralize the figure four. Charlotte uses the right to escape. Nattie goes for a kick, which is blocked, but Nattie rolls through and puts on a leg submission. Escape into the side headlock. This is SO old school. Reverse into a front facelock as Nattie “WOOO!”s at Ric. That leads to another reversal, and we get a whip sequence where Charlotte leapfrogs then goes for a faceplant, but Nattie gets the victory roll, only not for a victory. Nattie wraps her legs around the abdomen, then Charlotte resorts to a very non-wrestling maneuver: Pounding Nattie’s head into the mat. Then another, as each woman slaps on, well, a slap! Flair gets a knee to the gut and a knife-edge chop to the chest because she’s a Flair, and that’s what Flairs do. Ric “WOOO!”s back at Nattie, who rides Charlotte and eventually puts on the sleeper, but Charlotte escapes via backpack stunner for 2. A series of faceplants ensue, followed by some footwork in the corner. Back to the figure four headlock, and she turns for multiple faceplants. She rolls again, then flips Nattie over and covers. Abdominal stretch time, but Nattie reverses it and grabs the right leg. Backslide from Nattie, but Charlotte rolls out and short dropkicks Nattie for 2. Butterfly suplex from Nattie, clothesline, snapmare, then the stomp/short dropkick combo for 2. Different Flair, different method to get over the turnbuckle, same result: Flair on the floor. She gets the last laugh, though, as she legwhips Nattie out of the ring onto the floor. Nattie sells the knee as Charlotte covers the injured leg for 2, then goes up top for a moonsault. Different Flair, different move up top, same result: Flair in pain on the floor. Nattie gets back to her feet for a discus clothesline, then puts on the Sharpshooter. After an unsuccessful crawl to the ropes, Charlotte reverses directly into the figure four. Both women roll through twice, and somehow Charlotte is feeling the pressure. Another slap exchange, and Charlotte rolls out of the ring, still locked in, and replicates Bret’s leglock, only instead of wrapped around the pole, it’s a straight pull with Nattie on the apron. Charlotte introduces Nattie’s right knee to the steel steps, and it’s back to the figure four? Nope. One look at Bret, and it’s the Sharpshooter!

NXT Takeover Charlotte Natalya Sharpshooter

Natalya rolls out and tries to apply her own Sharpshooter, but Charlotte powers out and hits the flipping snapmare to become champion. All four parties embrace in the ring afterward, as well they should.

NXT Takeover Natalya Charlotte

And Ric Flair cries because, well, Ric Flair cries.

NXT Takeover Charlotte Ric Flair

Time: 16:48

Technical Merit: That was the best mat-based women’s wrestling match I’ve ever seen, and probably ever will. RAW and SmackDown would never allow a women’s match like this … at least until Total Divas dies a slow, painful cancellation.

Artistic Impression: The next generation of Flair vs. Hart carried that story, as well as that of just a great old-school wrestling story.



Adrian Neville video time. He fits the champion role well. He can outwrestle anyone who faces him, and each man is a different scenario. Tyson Kidd is a different scenario still, but he’s Neville’s biggest challenge because they’re similar. Neville’s stronger, faster and hungrier. The NXT Championship is his armor, and no one will get through his armor.

On another note, Neville can rock a shirt and tie.

NXT Takeover Adrian Neville

These men can also rock a formal look.

NXT Takeover Cesaro Christian

That one’s for the wife, even though she no-sold the pic when I showed her. She generally has a thing for thinning-haired physical specimens (which is why she likes me) and middle-aged Canadians. Happy wife, happy life, right?


Kidd comes out looking like he’s already had a match.

NXT Takeover Tyson Kidd

Neville comes out looking younger, stronger and in much better shape. Then again, TJ has about six years on him.

NXT Takeover Adrian Neville 2

We’ll get about 20 minutes for this one.

A minute in, a handshake and a challenge from Kidd for Neville to bring his absolute best. This is a ground-based contest to start as Kidd controls Neville’s head. Neville reverses, Kidd escapes and glares down at him, then pats Neville on the back. Subtle heel work, but damn, it’s effective. Kidd works the left arm, and Neville can’t kip his way out. In fact, it turns from an arm twist into an arm lock. Neville finally escapes via three kip-ups and a cartwheel. Armdrag from Neville into an armbar. Neville looks so much bigger than 194 … the man’s upper body is BUILT.  Keeps the armbar on, underhook suplex, keeps the armbar on still until Tyson reaches the ropes. Tyson tries to monkey flip Adrian, but Neville lands on his feet and hits an armdrag. Kidd responds in kind, they both kip up and simultaneously go for dropkicks. The mirror-image game stops when Kidd goes for high-impact abuse. Neville ends up in the Tree of Woe for a knee to the abdomen and a couple kicks to the back. Make it three and a short dropkick to the head. Kidd remains in control with a side chinlock as he implores the referee to ask Neville if he gives up. Neville gets out, but Kidd hits the Stun Gun, a dropkick and a flip dive outside. Kidd back in control as they return with the headlock … this has the typical longform face-heel feel. Neville gets free and, to seal the similarity bit, we have dueling crossbodies and both men down. Neville hits a couple axe handles and some kicks to finally gain some momentum, and he catches Kidd in the Tree of Woe for a receipt … only his dropkick looked more vicious because he hit the chest hard instead of the head. Springboard forearm for 2. Neville dropkicks Kidd out and goes for a dive through the ropes, but Kidd goes to the apron and kicks Neville in the head and covers. He goes up top, maybe for the Blockbuster, but Neville hits him with a forearm and tries for a superplex. Instead, Kidd tries for a sunset flip powerbomb … but Neville flips and LANDS ON HIS FEET, then hits an alley-oop sitout powerbomb for 2. Neville puts his feet to use, then appears to go for another springboard move, but Kidd runs behind him and hits a Russian legsweep from the second rope?! Damn. Kidd goes up top and Neville appears to block, but Kidd catches the feel and goes for a Sharpshooter. Neville rolls him into a small package, then Kidd gets up for an enziguiri, a short dropkick to the head and a suplex attempt. Neville blocks and reverses, and both men tumble outside. The count begins and nearly ends, but both men dive in at 9. After a breather inside, both men are up and Kidd briefly puts on the Sharpshooter. Neville tries to escape, but Kidd has the arm and the leg wrapped in what Regal calls the Dungeon Lock. It takes all of Neville’s energy to break. Kidd needs plenty of energy to get Neville back up, but kicks Neville and leaves him hanging between the ropes when he does. That leads to a 360 legdrop from the top and a cover. Frustrated, he goes back up, but Neville grabs a leg. Kidd kicks off, but Neville stops him again, only briefly. A third trip to the top turns into a top-rope Frankensteiner, then the Red Arrow. Neville … somehow … retains.

Time: 20:54

Technical Merit: That was as crisp, clean and fluid as it gets, complete with plenty of things we don’t normally see.

Artistic Impression: Kidd played his part well as a foil for Neville. The champ overcoming everything the challenger could possibly throw at him made for a tried-and-true story.


NXT Takeover Adrian Neville 3

The only things holding this match back were a relative lack of Neville offense and Kidd just not having “it” while he’s in the ring. The No. 1 contender’s match was better because both men applied plenty of offense, and people bought into both personalities. Kidd, though obviously a fantastic worker, just isn’t as successful conveying emotion and showing charisma while competing.

What did you think of NXT Takeover? Please comment below, or join the conversation on Twitter @jpetrie18.

WWE Midcard Report (May 26-27): To Bolieve is to win, Bad News Barrett asserts himself, D-Sizzle shocks the world and Luke Harper shows his potential

RAW 052614 Bo Dallas Tebowing


The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Be prepared, so when your moment of inspiration arrives, it won’t catch you by surprise. You just have to Bolieve!

*elaborate entrance, makes way to the ring*

Monday Night RAW is the summit on the top of the mountain of my dreams. On my journey to the top, I’ve learned that we don’t conquer the mountain. We conquer ourselves. All you have to do is Bolieve!

*defeats opponent*

Thank you so much, so much, to all of my Bolievers! I couldn’t have done it without you. But the truth is you don’t get satisfaction from just victories. You get the satisfaction from effort. If you gave it your all, and you gave it everything you’ve got, you’re already a winner. All you have to do … is Bolieve!

*hugs opponent, walks out*

If you’re keeping track, that was three motivational speeches from Bo Dallas. That’s the promo trifecta. That, my friends, is why you must Bolieve!

That also is how the Midcard Report should lead off. You know, some nice positive reinforcement before we trash about three-fourths of the matches on here.


Sidenotes: Bo’s T-shirt still has the NXT logo, and said T-shirt is absolutely soaking wet. Also, my feed was so moved by Bo’s words that it froze up. Hunicara with a top rope crossbody early, but Bo’s in control when they return. The announce team no-sells the entire match, which is a shame because it’s not half bad! OK, maybe half. Nice series of kneedrops — the first two with a rollout, the third with a thumbs-up and a delay — but Sin Cara responds with some kicks, an enziguiri, a springboard moonsault, a backspring elbow and a Samoan drop. That’s all for naught, because after snakeeyes and the Bo-Dog, it’s time to Bolieve.

Time: 2:54

Technical Merit: I like the less-botchy version of Sin Cara.

Artistic Impression: I also like this version of Bo Dallas.


This may actually have been RAW’s Match of the Night. Chew on that one for a second.


Good news: Both midcard singles championships are on the line in angles intended to mean something.

Bad news: We have to watch Rob Van Dam and his endless array of THE SAME MOVES THAT WOULD DO NOTHING IN REAL LIFE.

Bad News: Oh, he’s right here!

RAW 052614 Bad News Barrett

ROB VAN DAM vs. CESARO (w/Paul Heyman)

It’s the Heyman Invitational, as long as the No. 1 contenders for the Intercontinental and U.S. championships. But somebody’s afraid he’s got some more Bad News. It’s summertime, so people will throw on their swimsuits and find their stomachs have expanded to roll over their waistbands. The man has a point! He has another: RVD’s Indian Summer will be over after Payback. The good news? Bad News is on commentary! “It’s me! It’s me! It’s BNB!” I’m all for a subtle DDP reference. First thing to get me to pay attention to the actual match: RVD goes for an apron moonsault, but Cesaro catches him and deposits him onto the barricade. Naturally, now that our attention is finally obtained, we go to break.

As we return on Hulu Plus, Rolling Thunder shows up. Yay. This RVD match just had something different for once: A superkick to Barrett outside. That one was legit. Van Dam is feeling froggy, but Barrett provides the distraction and Cesaro hits the bridging German for the win.

Hulu Plus time: 4:27

Technical Merit: Same old stuff, though executed OK.

Artistic Impression: Face messes with heel, face gets got. I don’t mind it.


Then, for no real reason, Sheamus graces us with his presence for a Brogue Kick. That didn’t feel like babyface justice; that just felt like a lame excuse to get someone on TV.

Wait … he has a match in the third hour? That’s not logical! Ohhhhh Cesaro attacked him on SmackDown. (Logical) … but that would mean we would’ve had to watch SmackDown. (Not logical)

Anyway, it’s Sheamus-ADR, part 4,863.

United States Champion SHEAMUS vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO

The champ makes this look like a glorified squash for nearly 2 minutes, until ADR recovers after being rolled back into the ring and realizes what his feet are for. Again, it’s break time.

And would you look at that … we return just in time for Sheamus to hit White Noise! He sets up for the Brogue Kick, but his bell is rung. Del Rio rings it again with the enziguiri and the standing sidekick, but only gets 2. Sheamus sells concussion symptoms as ADR sets up for the cross armbreaker, but the redhead slips out and hits the Brogue Kick.

Hulu Plus time: 3:55

Technical Merit: Painfully basic and repetitive.

Artistic Impression: Dumb finish, though it sets up what happens next.


Heyman interrupts Justin Roberts‘ duties and promos just long enough for Cesaro to sneak in and give Sheamus a few more shots to the dome, then the Neutralizer.

What did I say earlier? Face messes with heel, face gets got. The only problem is this probably means the heel gets got Sunday. Guess we should be happy we get a halfway decent United States Championship match out of it. I’m far from sold on the Intercontinental Championship contest, but that’s because RVD’s involved. I haven’t actually enjoyed one of his matches since … Edge won a triple-threat on RAW to take his WWE Championship in 2006? Yeah, about that far back.


We lead off Main Event with a hometown boy!

You know what that means … hometown boy’s gonna lose. Sorry, Cody Rhodes.

Main Event 052714 Cody Rhodes

Speaking of losses, Curtis Axel informed The Brotherhood last night that they’re racking up more losses than Barry Horowitz in his prime. You know the third-generation guy’s gonna know his history!

CODY RHODES (w/Goldust) vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/Ryback)

If you want a decent basic mechanic — no more, no less — Axel’s your man. The man knows what he’s doing in the ring and doesn’t try to exceed his limits. Nice backbreaker with Cody tied up in the second rope early. Rhodes starts his comeback around 3:15 with a sunset flip, some strikes and the the trademark Ted DiBiase Jr. clothesline. He hangs Axel up in the ropes and hits a kick to the gut then, with Axel standing, he hits a moonsault for 2. For the second straight night, though, Cody Disaster Kicks someone on the apron (Ryback this time), and Axel chop blocks Cody, rolls him up and pulls the tights. The streak continues.

Main Event 052714 Curtis Axel Ryback Rybaxel

Time: 4:21

Technical Merit: Your basic 4-minute match where the heel wins. Nothing egregious.

Artistic Impression: I don’t like the story, but it’s being told OK.



You know where a Southern rapper is going to be over? Atlanta. That’s why WWE decided having not one, but two, was a good idea. This actually is the best gimmick I’ve seen in a minute!

Main Event 052714 Damien Sandow D-Sizzle

Yo, I roll with the sinners, but I’m praised like a saint

And when that bell rings, I go hard in the paint

When fools try to step, I start tossin’

My teeth are clean, but I still be flossin’

*R-Truth rudely interrupts*

Do you have a problem, cousin?

You’re about to run up and get done up

Thuggish livin’ till the end

Tell a friend

Eight bars in, D-Sizzle is better than Macklemore. Who else is better than Macklemore? EVERYBODY! I see you, Kanyon! RIP.


Tom Phillips says D-Sizzle is no Machine Gun Kelly. He’s right. Sizzle is better. After the Russian legsweep, “THROW YOUR HANDS IN THE AY-ER!” After the Elbow of Disdain and cover for 2, “YOU FRONT? YOU FRONT?” Unfortunately, R-Truth didn’t front. He came correct and hit his finisher for the win.

*pours out some liquor for D-Sizzle*

We hardly knew ya, bro.

Time: 2:33


Main Event 052714 Nikki Bella Brie Bella Twins

There’s not a situation where Nikki Bella doesn’t look like a porn star. Then again, isn’t that kind of John Cena‘s thing? I guess if you want a Brazzers video come to life, you have a couple options in WWE.

RAW 051914 Summer Rae

Meanwhile, someone is here to actually, you know, wrestle.

Main Event 052714 Natalya

NATALYA vs. BRIE BELLA (w/Nikki Bella)

Brie puts on a hammerlock and a side headlock, and she yells like she’s the one taking the move. She keeps quiet for the armdrag, though, and when Nattie has her in an armlock. Brie Mode is reason alone for termination. Especially when it results in a missile dropkick. Here’s our cool spot of the match: Brie locks in a half-crab, but Nattie rolls through into the Sharpshooter.

Main Event 052714 Brie Bella Sharpshooter

Once that happens, that’s it.

Time: 3:33

Technical Merit: Brie Mode was involved. I rest my case.

Artistic Impression: If the story was Nattie comes, Nattie wins, Nattie goes to get ready for NXT Takeover, then it was great! Wait, this was about Brie? … Oh.



One good thing about Main Event is it allows for promo time with the WWE Tag Team Champions. This meant time for The Usos to make fun of The Wyatt Family‘s lackeys who do nothing but follow Bray Wyatt, which was done effectively. Oh, and Cena will be the last man standing. Yay.

That also means promo time for Luke Harper!

Main Event 052714 Luke Harper

A man with nothing left to lose has nothing left to fear. He saved us. He gave us a purpose. And Usos, some bonds are much stronger than blood.

Bray takes over from there. Blah, blah, blah, I know, right? He took in Harper and Erick Rowan, and they united as brothers in the name of cause. The Usos, meanwhile, are pawns in Cena’s sick little game. Since they’re guilty by association, they’ll burn.

WWE Tag Team Champions THE USOS vs. LUKE HARPER & ERICK ROWAN (w/Bray Wyatt)

Rowan starts the match with the mask … ? Oh, it’s so Jey Uso can slap it off. I like it! Nice no-sell from Harper, which only leads to a double-team that still ends with Harper in control via dropkick.

Back from break and Rowan’s back in, just in time for Jimmy Uso to tag to Jey. Rowan gets an advantage when Jey can’t lift him for a Samoan drop, then Erick fallaway slams Jey, who rolls outside. That gives Harper a chance to pick away at some scraps outside after the tag before returning and tagging once more. Rest hold time! Jey kicks Rowan after escaping, but Rowan backs into Harper for the tag and Harper goes after Jimmy. Harper is a great tag-team wrestler. Harper does the Gator Roll, throwing in a couple suplexes for good measure. A second rest hold, then Jey makes the mistake of attacking Rowan. That allows Harper to hit a sitout slam, which causes Jimmy to break it up, which distracts the ref, which allows the heels to maintain control. You know, until Rowan inevitably screws it up. Missile dropkick leads to stereo tags, and Jimmy comes in hot. Jimmy can hit the Samoan drop on Harper … as well as a superkick that leads to 2. Chaos time, and the champs execute their tandem dive outside. That’ll get Bray out of his seat, and he gives Harper marching orders. Jimmy goes up top, but Rowan tosses Jey into the ropes. Jimmy wobbles off the ropes, which sets up the Clothesline from Hell and the pin.

Time: 10:35

Technical Merit: These are two good tag teams. Rowan couldn’t cut it in a singles capacity, but as the bumbling tag partner he’s effective. Harper might be the best big man in the company at the moment, and the Usos are the best team.

Artistic Impression: The match kept The Usos intertwined in the Cena-Wyatt angle, and it sold the Wyatt Family as a stronger threat than ever to hustle, loyalty, respect, etc.



Come back Thursday night for analysis and reaction to NXT Takeover. In the meantime, follow The Champ on Twitter @jpetrie18.

WWE RAW review (May 26): Daniel Bryan refuses to surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, John Cena says the B-word to Bray Wyatt, and the Shield vs. Evolution contract signing went as expected in pro wrestling

Remember when go-home shows were good? I almost don’t, either. The lead-in to Payback didn’t pay off, and it was difficult to maintain interest throughout even the 90-minute version Tuesday morning. You know how many matches were on Hulu Plus? FOUR! You know how many looked worthwhile? ZERO! RAW was promo-heavy, derivative and repetitive, and the only reason I stuck through it was for you, Dear Readers. So enjoy! Or at least try.


Triple H wears two hats in this episode. The first? Authority figure. Actually, make that guy who stands there while Stephanie McMahon talks about Daniel Bryan surrendering the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. “B+ body” jokes aside, she’s absolutely right. Once you take the mark shades off, it’s clear: If you can’t physically compete, you shouldn’t be the champion.

Oh, now it’s Trips’ turn to talk!

RAW 052614 Triple H

He’s talking about superstars and legends, and adapting and perishing and, yeah, that’s what I thought. He has the second hat on maybe 7 minutes into the show. Wait … back to the first. This guy is wishing he didn’t switch back.

RAW 052614 Brad Maddox

The rationale is, well, rational! Boss says nobody outside of an official capacity can be ringside for a match. You, unwillingly or otherwise, fail to honor that request. You’re done! The only thing wrong was maybe sending out Kane to finish the job on young Brad Maddox.

On another note, apparently we have to differentiate between which Kane we’re seeing. Corporate Kane! The Demon Kane! Fake Diesel Kane! Dentist Kane! Michael Cole‘s commentary lowlights are a long and (not-so) distinguished list, but this device makes the cut. Nitpicky? Maybe a bit. But it’s true … it’s damn true.

Anyway, Steph returns to lead off the third hour and declares it’s time for Bryan to make his choice. He’s not selfish, so according to Steph, he needs to do the right thing and surrender the belts. Bryan said his neck injury was worse than he thought, and acknowledges there’s no shame in giving up the belts, healing and coming back stronger than ever because the fans deserve an awesome champion. (Logical)

RAW 052614 Daniel Bryan

But … (wait for it) … this is about Steph, who has been trying to get the belts off him since April 6. Since that’s the case, that would basically negate the entire #YESMovement. (Not so logical) A couple stabs at Steph’s spoiled upbringing and few “NO!”s later, we still have a champion who can’t wrestle. (Not logical at all)

Steph responds with forcing us to flash back to the worst angry push ever, courtesy of Brie Bella. Therefore, I hate this entire segment. Steph kicks more logic — you can’t put your hands on the boss — so there’s another choice: At Payback, Bryan keeps his belts, or Brie keeps her job.

RAW 052614 Stephanie McMahon

This segment worked perfectly, because now want Daniel Bryan to keep the WWE World Heavyweight Championship so Brie goes home for a while. She literally makes everything worse for everyone involved in this rivalry except Kane. Sorry, Cole; I meant Demon Kane. It’s just one more reason why the Divas Division can’t be taken seriously. It’s why people are complaining about how Bryan is booked right now — nevermind the fact that there’s not really much physically they can do with him at the moment. It’s why there were mental flashbacks to Kane, Zack Ryder and Eve Torres, circa 2012. Ryder, by the way, lost in 38 seconds to Rusev on Monday, so look what that storyline did for him!

But back to the task at hand. Unless Bryan will be ready to compete at Money In The Bank, which is 45 days after his neck surgery — also known as more than 30, back when that rule actually mattered — there’s exactly zero reason for him to remain champion. This isn’t like when Stone Cold Steve Austin injured his neck in 1997 and couldn’t compete. First off, Austin surrendered the Intercontinental Championship after 36 days, so there’s that. Second, Austin was established as the best promo guy in the WWF at that time, and he could get over without wrestling by running his mouth and doing badass things like hitting Vince McMahon with the Stunner and being arrested. Steve Austin could cut a promo in his sleep. Daniel Bryan seems like he actually does … B+ would be compliment 80 percent of the time. Finally, and most importantly, Austin had another shot at the title … and then some. I understand how hot Bryan is right now in the eyes of the fans, but if he can’t go, he can’t go. He isn’t good enough to be the top guy without being in the ring.

If he has half the charisma his marks believe he does, he’ll still be hot when he comes back, which should be when he’s healthy. Not before.


Bray Wyatt‘s sing-along time? A little played out. It would help if he had more than one hit. It also would help if he could actually sing. He makes NXT’s Aiden English sound like Luciano Pavarotti.

What’s a little less played out?

Bray Wyatt’s sermon of the week

Never, ever have those words been more true than they are right now. I truly got the whole world in my hands, yeah. You see, the world has come to lean on me, and they lean on me because they know that somewhere deep down, I only want what’s best for all of you. The problem with that is sometimes what is best for us is not the easiest path. No, in this life, we all must make sacrifices. Most of us don’t know it, but we do it everyday. We go to work, and we break our backs so we can keep our childrens fed. And we sulk, and we suffer while another man points his finger in our face and tells us who to be. How to act. But when are you going to understand that all that is pointless. The poison has already set in. And we all know the only way to cure a snakebite is with the anti-venom, so what say you, people of Knoxville? Am I the snake? *NO!* Or am I the cure? *cheers* I know what role I must play in this world, I am the necessary evil that this world so badly needs. And in the end, in the end, if you are my brother or you are my sister, you will stand right beside me. But if you are my enemy, you will fall at my feet. And I think it’s clear. I think we all understand right now, right here, that John Cena is enemy to us all! But don’t you worry, boys and girls, because at Payback, I will be the last man standing! But why should Cena be the only man punished in all this corruption? I don’t believe that’s not right! And I’m no fool. I know to get to the king, you must go through the pawns. Cena is the king. And speaking of kings … Mr. Jerry Lawler. May I have a word with you please?

That transitions into every WWE fan’s dream: JBL getting a clothesline from Hell Luke Harper while trying to protect his broadcast mate. The other dream gets taken away.

Lawler gets interrogated for blindly blowing sunshine up our butts about Cena and feeding us poison until it’s out of control. “Do you feel guilty about this, Jerry? Do you feel remorse for destroying millions of lives, all in his corrupt name? How does it feel to be a liar, Jerry?” Hey, at least Bray apologizes first for what he’s about to do.

There is a brief Cena interruption, but just long enough for Wyatt to explain this is all his fault.

RAW 052614 Bray Wyatt Jerry Lawler

The Usos make the actual save. Cena declares “Enough is enough!” but fails to tell us it’s time for a change. I now don’t care about the rest of this promo, though he declares Wyatt is pure evil … which gets cheers. Apparently Payback isn’t about winning or losing, but being the last man standing … which is the difference between winning and losing in this match.

“Justice may be blind, but for you, Payback will be a bitch.”

It’s about time Cena actually decided to show up for this one, especially considering his logic rivaled Bryan’s selfish ploy to keep the title.

This rivalry has been on its last legs for weeks, and it needs to end at Payback. Whether that’s with Wyatt standing tall, a changed Cena winning, the worst-case scenario of a WrestleMania repeat or the smart fans’ dream of a double turn, this must be the end. Cena’s getting even staler, Wyatt’s just finding new ways to say the same thing, and we all know the match will fail to live up to the billing. Wyatt needs a new muse. Soon. And Cena needs to move on toward the next guy who needs elevating.


There probably was some lead-up to this on the actual broadcast. Through non-USA Network means, these men are thrown cold into a tag-team match.

RAW 052614 Batista

RAW 052614 Randy Orton

On the bright side, The Brotherhood is in the house!


Oh, so apparently we missed promo time with Cody Rhodes! Although we do get a quick recap involving “R-K-Blows” and “skinny jean sellout.” You can guess who he referred to on each. Meanwhile, Cole explains The Legacy like it happened 20 years ago, not 5. Batista’s just too damn old to get it done anymore. Screw going 60 minutes; he can’t even go 60 seconds with Cody Rhodes without getting blown up. The general consensus is he’s leaving after Payback to go Marvel movie promoting … maybe he should stay gone until he discovers cardiovascular training. Goldust has no such problem, and he hits the back elbow from the corner before a warm tag to Cody. Disaster Kick to Batista on the apron. Disaster Kick to … an RKO?! Sick spot there, but it’s spoiled with a lame finish where Orton waits a day and a half and hits a second RKO for the pin.

But it’s not over … as it turns out, this is an elimination match. The second stage? It’s no holds barred. Poor Dustin. Basic beatdown outside, surprise spear inside, RKO, Batista Bomb, done. Yawn.

Hulu Plus time: 6:57

Technical Merit: One awesome spot. Otherwise, typical Orton and Batista matches.

Artistic Impression: Sells Evolution’s strength as the marginalization of The Brotherhood continues.


RAW 052614 Shield Evolution contract

This is the reason Evolution and The Shield are in the ring for the final segment. But don’t act like this will go smoothly. Also, Roman Reigns alert, ladies!

RAW 052614 Roman Reigns

Five signs of a contract signing going awry

  1. Reigns is tossing the chairs out while Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are talking. Awesome.
  2. Trips ditched the suit for his Levi’s Street Fight collection, complete with taped fists.
  3. Reigns tosses the contract at Triple H’s feet after signing.
  4. Trips tosses it back.
  5. Reigns just eliminates the pretense and directly challenges his foes.

After the bait and switch of Evolution stepping in, then out, then back in, Payback comes early, complete with a piped-in “THIS IS AWESOME!” chant! Reigns hits the Superman Punch on Batista, but that’s nothing a sledgehammer, an RKO and a spear can’t fix. And a couple more sledgehammer shots. And a triple powerbomb through the announce table.

Also, Roman Reigns alert, ladies.

RAW 052614 Roman Reigns 2

Like the other main elements of the card, this needs to end at Payback. It’s just a bunch of formulaic WWE brawls on every show with Even Steven booking. The Shield will win Monday, setting the stage for either an Evolution split or Batista to be replaced. Depending on the Bryan situation, this also could free up most of the guys actually worthy of a world title shot.

Was RAW worth it this week? No, especially as a go-home show. After some great writing and booking, WWE is stumbling into Payback. But I’ll watch anyway Sunday night (or early Monday morning), and I’ll be pleased with some matches and disappointed with others.

What did you think of RAW? Comment below, or drop a line on Twitter @jpetrie18. Also, come back Wednesday for the Midcard Report!

Photo gallery: Paige, The Wyatt Family, Hollywood Hogan and more

Having a blog seems simple enough. Have a thought, write it down, click Publish. Trying to have a good blog involves other elements. Including watching as many WWE in-ring shows and typing as many coherent words as possible, there’s an essential visual element: Photos.

At realworldchamp.com, these photos are screenshots of WWE programming. There are a lot to sift through, and a lot to edit after that to get the right photos for the right posts. That almost leans there are a lot of leftovers. After hanging onto most of these for a month or more, here’s a quick batch of photos from WWE events I viewed in April. More from May will sprout up throughout the week.

AJ Lee confronts Paige before their WWE Divas Championship match at RAW on April 7. Paige won the match, and AJ hasn't been in the ring since.
AJ Lee confronts Paige before their impromptu WWE Divas Championship match at RAW on April 7. Paige won the match, and AJ hasn’t been in the ring since.
The Wyatt Family during RAW on April 14. Bray Wyatt accepted John Cena's challenge for a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, which Wyatt won.
The Wyatt Family during RAW on April 14. Bray Wyatt accepted John Cena’s challenge for a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, which Wyatt won.
Evolution — Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista — make their way ringside at RAW on April 28.
Evolution — Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista — make their way ringside at RAW on April 28.
Extra Main Event 042914 Goldust
Goldust walks down the ramp before a match against Alberto Del Rio at Main Event on April 29.
Paige celebrates a victory over Alicia Fox at the April 29 Main Event ...
Paige celebrates a victory over Alicia Fox at the April 29 Main Event …
... but not for long after seeing Tamina Snuka, her challenger for the WWE Divas Championship at Extreme Rules, right behind her.
… but not for long after seeing Tamina Snuka, her challenger for the WWE Divas Championship at Extreme Rules, right behind her.

Another fun part of the blog is/was World Championship Wednesday and Flashback Friday, which hopefully will make a return when The Champ gets some more spare time. One particularly entertaining WCW show was Halloween Havoc 1998, for some good and plenty of bad reasons.

The Ultimate Warrior made his final pay-per-view match appearance, beating Hollywood Hogan in a terrible semi-main event.
The Ultimate Warrior made his final pay-per-view match appearance, beating Hollywood Hogan in a terrible semi-main event.
Before his defeat, Hogan was posing and running his mouth with Eric Bischoff. Of note: The nWo Monday Nitro T-shirt on the leader of nWo Hollywood.
Before his defeat, Hogan was posing and running his mouth with Eric Bischoff. Of note: The nWo Monday Nitro T-shirt on the leader of nWo Hollywood.
Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page after their main event, which Goldberg won to improve his unbeaten streak to 155-0. But the main reason for this photo? The shoutout to the 208 right behind them. I see you, Twin Falls!
Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page after their main event, which Goldberg won to improve his unbeaten streak to 155-0. But the main reason for this photo? The shoutout to the 208 right behind them. I see you, Twin Falls!

Be sure to return Tuesday morning for a review of this week’s RAW. And give The Champ a follow on Twitter @jpetrie18.

WWE NXT review (May 22): Bo Dallas bo-leaves NXT on a high note, Adrian Neville in action, Paige returns, and flawed Divas logic?

All photos, of course, are from the WWE Network.
All photos, of course, are from the WWE Network.

I hated Bo Dallas when I started watching NXT.

People were chanting “NO MORE BO!” on a weekly basis, giving him the kind of “go away” heat reserved for a great heel the fans actively want to see fail. I wrote “No More Bo!” a couple months ago, and “The good, the bad … and the Bo Dallas” before that, giving him the kind of “go away” heat reserved for someone I actively wanted to see go away.

Bo Dallas gave the best goody-two-shoes heel performance I’ve seen in years Thursday night.

NXT 052214 Bo Dallas 2

In a stipulation match everyone knew he would lose (his main-roster return is on SmackDown tonight), the match hinged on how he would lose and how he would react. He hung with someone 60 pounds heavier in a power-style matchup, and he surpassed the expected response upon defeat. He yelled. He threw a tantrum. He kicked the steel steps and hurt himself. He even went negative in his final promo!

The NXT fans responded as expected, giving the customary “Na na na na …” goodbye chant and demanding he leave the premises … and thanking him on the way out.

It’s hard to remember Bo is only 23 (at least until Sunday) and has the Rotunda AND Windham bloodlines, and his brother is only the hottest new heel in wrestling at 27. You know, this guy:

RAW 051914 Bray Wyatt

Also, happy birthday, Bray Wyatt! Sorry I didn’t get you a gift … I figured since you have the whole world in your hands you’re set on presents.

BO DALLAS vs. BIG E., “Win or Go Home” match

On another note, Big E. — considered a bland Intercontinental Champion during his recent reign — is OVER in NXT. Leave, come back, instantly get “FIVE!” chants!

NXT 052214 Big E

In addition, Bo ducks out after four strikes … twice … and gets booed because Big E. couldn’t get to five. Dallas gets pummeled early, then gains the upper hand outside by diving for the knee at 2:15. Rest hold at 4 minutes heading into the break … and maybe get some heat. We return with Langston in control in the corner, but Bo hits a high-impact flying forearm and goes back on the attack while being taunted with his brother’s sing-along chant. Sometimes it’s hard to believe Bo is 230 pounds. When going against cruiserweight types like Adrian Neville, he doesn’t look that big. On the other hand, the man packs some POWER. He clotheslined the hell out of

Big E. gets back on track with a couple clotheslines, the belly-to-belly and a knockdown, then goes for the Big Ending but counters with an inverted DDT for 2. Nice belly-to-belly throw for 2 more. Splash blocked with Bo’s knees, then the double underhook DDT … for 2? Well, if that doesn’t work, time for some classic heel tactics! The problem is, when you take off the turnbuckle pad, you WILL be the one to feel it. Big Ending follows, and a 3 count (not a 5?) sends Bo home.

NXT 052214 Bo Dallas 3


Time: 8:47

Technical Merit: A little slow at times, but solid.

Artistic Impression: Great story with Bo having to resort to being bad to try to stay.


I want each and every one of you to know, that spent their money to come see me here tonight, I want you all to know that I strongly dislike every one of you. I don’t usually use language like this, but you all should know that you people stink. You should’ve just bolieved! Now leave. (Leave!) YOU leave! (YOU leave!) Leave! (YOU leave!) Why are you still here? I’m gonna be the bigger man. I’m gonna leave (cheers) because I’m a bigger and better man than all of you! *leaves* (Thank you Bo! Thank you Bo! Thank you Bo!)

THAT is an exit.


Tyson Kidd is back in NXT to obtain his destiny: Become a champion. Meanwhile, Sami Zayn has another promo with Devin Taylor … which is interrupted by The Gorgeous One. If you think this is just an excuse to put up a Tyler Breeze pic, well … you know how we operate here.

NXT 052214 Tyler Breeze Sami Zayn Devin Taylor

Though I didn’t really get his good side … sorry!

These two will square off at Takeover, because Breeze was busy this week. New phone case, go to a ball, maybe hop a plane to Guatemala to select only the finest alpaca fur for his boots? I don’t know. But it will be a No. 1 Contender match for the NXT Championship, and we know Zayn is due for a big win. I’m not sure Breeze is ready to be a champion or the top foil yet (give it a few months), but we’ll know a lot more once he’s given the spotlight.


NXT logic is morphing into something … TNA-ish.

This woman can’t be NXT Champion anymore because, as WWE Divas Champion and, hence, a world-traveling member of the main roster, she wouldn’t be able to show up and defend said title in Orlando when necessary.

NXT 052214 Paige 1

Then they have her show up … on NXT … IN ORLANDO … for a rematch of her Divas title match at Extreme Rules that wasn’t all that great to begin with.


This match is predicated on high impact from both women. Tamina emphasizes that impact part by kicking Paige on the apron and hitting a few scoop slams. Rest hold at 2 minutes, the bear hug, then clotheslines the champion when she breaks free. Tamina slaps on the Torture Rack — far more effectively than Lex Luger ever could — until Paige strikes her way out. Matt Morgan back elbow combo in the corner, chain of clotheslines and a kneelift, but Tamina sets her on the top rope and simply pushes her over, with the apron bumping her on the way down. Terrible Superfly Splash attempt (Paige was way too close) is blocked, then Paige wins with … a rollup? Alrighty then.

NXT 052214 Tamina Snuka

NXT 052214 Paige 2

Time: 5:57

Technical Merit: Power-based match with the rollup win works … when the winner isn’t a champion.

Artistic Impression: The story didn’t engage anyone. The weak finish didn’t help.


During that match, NXT mentions Charlotte facing this woman at Takeover for the NXT Women’s Championship.

NXT 052214 Natalya

Natalya is a former WWE Divas Champion and longtime world-traveling member of the main roster, which means she wouldn’t be able to show up and defend said title in Orlando when necessary. Unless … actually, I have a theory on that, which I’ll get to at the end. But that’s not even the most egregious part of this.

The NXT announcer mentions Charlotte vs. Natalya in the championship tournament final about halfway through the show. Ten minutes later, this is on my screen:

NXT 052214 Natalya Sasha Banks

Put 2 and 2 together, and he TELLS YOU WHO WINS BEFORE THE MATCH EVEN HAPPENS. That takes a WCW or TNA level of incompetence. As Grandma Petrie, a longtime NWA/WCW fan before logic went out the window, would say, “Oh, whoops!”

NATALYA vs. SASHA BANKS, NXT Women’s Championship Tournament semifinal

Charlotte’s torn — she wants her BFF to beat Nattie, but doesn’t want to have to expose her weaknesses and beat her next week. That’s quality heel work right there … her father taught her well.

NXT 052214 Charlotte

Anyway, this is a Wrestling 101 lesson with Professor Neidhart, including a step on Sasha’s back that plants her head into the mat, then a short dropkick on the way back around. Sasha gets control with a rapid-fire strike combo in the corner while Natalya’s tied up, then a double kneedrop transports her from the second rope to the ground. Sasha locks in a submission hold of her own, wrapping Nattie’s arms around her own neck, then hops on Nattie’s back, which opens up the escape via turnbuckle. Nattie hits a crisp double underhook suplex that rivals Camacho‘s earlier in the show (and later in the blog), but Sasha responds with the bulldog … and rolls out of the ring with an apparent hamstring injury. Charlotte implores her to get back in the ring, then rolls her back in and demands a cover.

NXT 052214 Charlotte Sasha Banks

Bad hammy, rolled in before she’s ready … you know what’s next.

NXT 052214 Natalya Sasha Banks Sharpshooter

Time: 4:07

Technical Merit: Sasha Banks was able to keep up. That’s a good sign.

Artistic Impression: This planted the seeds for a possible BFFs split and provided plenty of aggressive wrestling. I’m in.


NXT 052214 Adam Rose

I’ll be happy when Adam Rose leaves NXT for good. Or WWE, for that matter. It’s a gimmick with style, but absolutely no substance. He says the same two or three things on repeat, and the matches he’s had on NXT aren’t even close to good. He’s done a great job of embracing the character (you almost can’t tell he was Leo Kruger), but the character flat-out sucks. Yeah, I’m a lemon. Deal with it.


Camacho beats down Rose to start, then that stupid spot where Rose ducks between the ropes and flails his legs about. Apparently it’s called the Rose Petal. I call it crap. Running Samoan drop from Camacho, a NICE double underhook suplex and a standing legdrop for 2. Camacho just takes it to Rose, which is realistic, under Rose starts no-selling turnbuckle shots. Lame comeback offense, solid spinebuster, then a corner charge, mule kick and Bronco Buster-esque charge. Camacho blocks the Party Foul, then dips out. After some deliberation, he decides he’s finished. Can’t decide whether I hate it or love the countout here.

NXT 052214 Camacho

Time: 3:53

Technical Merit: Camacho can work. Rose can’t.

Artistic Impression: The story made sense. I just can’t buy Rose as a wrestler.



This man was a tag team champion a few years ago. Now, I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve seen him wrestle.

NXT 052214 Curt Hawkins

He’s here to get squashed by this guy.

NXT 052214 Adrian Neville


Hawkins is wearing tights with a blue-and-orange theme and a 31 on the side. So he’s a huge Mike Piazza fan? Anyway, he’s handling business at the 1-minute mark, starting with a clothesline to the back of the dome and a suplex. Rear chinlock as Hawkins gets the “he looks better than he ever has!” treatment. The champion gains momentum by blocking a corner charge with his boot, then a serious of kicks and forearms set up the Red Arrow. That was quick … too quick to score.

Time: 2:23

We have company …

NXT 052214 Tyson Kidd

from someone who has been on RAW. Fact! SmackDown. Fact! WrestleMania. Fact! He’s a former WWE Tag Team Champion, and he’ll have his next championship moment at NXT Takeover. Neville would say this is fiction. In fact, “At Takeover, the only member of your family going home with the gold, as per usual, will be your wife!”

NXT 052214 Adrian Neville Tyson Kidd

That was a strong, older-style back-and-forth that focused on wrestling more than getting the best one-liner on the other guy until the very end. This WILL be a great match at Takeover …

… that Tyson Kidd will win.

The Champ’s non-insider, oddball theory: Tyson Kidd and Natalya will win their championship matches at NXT Takeover, then be used for a while to develop newer talent on and off camera. They don’t really have that opportunity on the main roster — Kidd was Superstars fodder before his calldown to Florida, and even Nattie can’t help many of the “Divas” who are lost causes. If you’re learning how to wrestle, wouldn’t you want to learn from these two? It may not help their own careers, but it could be invaluable to dozens of others.

Or maybe they’re just here to put Neville and Charlotte over and cement their formidability as champions. But you totally want to watch Takeover to find out, right?

What did you think of NXT? Who’s walking out of Takeover with the titles? Who’s watching Takeover live next week? Comment below, or drop a line on Twitter @jpetrie18.


WWE Midcard Report (May 19-20): An impromptu Beat The Clock challenge rules, Adam Rose is boring, Summer Rae channels her inner porn star, and Paul Heyman and Cesaro need to split

If you haven’t watched any WWE programming this week, I’ll save you the headache: Just skip it. Read this and the RAW review and just move on.

I work nights at a newspaper, which means I watch shows the next day. The lone exception is NXT, which airs on one of my usual days off and is better than anything you’ll see from the main roster this week. (Get caught up on last week here.) When I get home at 1 a.m. (or 3, like last night) and wake up a few hours later to watch wrestling, I want it to be worthwhile. When it’s not, I’m cranky.

Fools better stay out of my way after the past two days.


One bright spot in theory involves the Intercontinental Championship, which belongs to a man who was well-received in his home country and really should be well-received (or well booed) anywhere. He’s one of the most interesting men in wrestling right now.

Now, what makes the title even more interesting? A surprise Beat the Clock Challenge, of course! Six men, three matches, one hopefully suitable No. 1 contender. The first match? Not too bad!


This one’s interesting. Both men generally rely on their massive size advantage to create a boring match. When they’re both big, we might actually get to see some athleticism. The start was hot, then settles into a test of brute force. JBL drops a Barry Horowitz reference. Then a Steve Lombardi reference. Then clarifies that his loss to Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 25 took 23 seconds, not 17. Big spinebuster from Ryback at 3:45 to respond to Big E.’s belly-to-belly, then he hits the Meathook Clothesline for 2. And 2 again. And 2 again. Looks like a powerbomb attempt, but Big E. slips out, floors Ryback and Curtis Axel, and hits the Big Ending.

RAW 051914 Big E

Time: 5:02

Technical Merit: This was better than expected. Not great, but a decent little big-man match.

Artistic Impression: Ryback sold the clock element. Big E. was just there for the impressive, brief comeback.


Alberto Del Rio was bred to be a champion. The children deserve to have a role model like him as Intercontinental Champion. The future of the world depends on it. I thought that honor went to this guy.

Captain Planet

Remember, kids, the power doesn’t belong to ADR. THE POWER IS YOURS!


Two highlights with about 3:50 remaining: A Funaki sign somewhere on the 100 level of the O2 Arena, and ADR superkicking RVD as he tries to reenter the ring. Is RVD high right now? If not, he should be because he’s wrestling like crap. Let’s throw some clotheslines a 4-year-old wouldn’t believe, hit some weak-ass kicks and botch a legdrop. He BOTCHED A FREAKING LEGDROP. Hulk Hogan really must’ve been one of the greatest technicians of our time if the move’s that hard. ADR shows how it’s done with an enziguiri with 1:15 remaining. Del Rio goes for another kick, but Van Dam ducks and rolls him up. At least he did that right.

Time: 4:15

Technical Merit: One man was trash. The other wasn’t exactly treasure, but decent.

Artistic Impression: If you can’t wrestle and have no personality, nobody will believe the story you’re telling.


“I do it quick, and I do it slick.” Dolph Ziggler‘s inset promo was awesome. Also awesome? An INSET PROMO RUN-IN! That’s how you set up a match.

RAW 051914 Dolph Ziggler Mark Henry


Ziggler bumps around and rolls out, and Henry is more than content to go for the countout. Nice Fame Asser variation when Dolph returns, and he rolls out again when Henry powers out. Let’s just take ALL the momentum from this match, shall we? Dolph knows how to snap off a dropkick, but the two he utilized were about 20 seconds apart. Credit to Ziggler for not rolling all the way out on that kickout. Henry eschews the World’s Strongest Slam for a running powerslam, so needless to say, nobody’s winning this one. Ziggler counters the WSS into the Zig Zag with about 7 seconds left, but he rolls the wrong way and, sure enough, we get freaking RVD in the Intercontinental Championship match.

That means someone’s afraid he’s got some bad news …

RAW 051914 Wade Barrett Rob Van Dam

… which involves Greenwich Mean Time, since England set the time for the entire world. Hey, the man has a point!

Technical Merit: About 45 seconds of action in a 4:15 match.

Artistic Impression: Maybe the slowest Beat the Clock match I’ve ever seen. That was poor.



This is the most we’ve seen R-Truth on screen since he “ruined” Survivor Series 2011, right? Apparently it was his fault nobody wanted to see John Cena and The Rock team up. Then again, if you’re finally main-eventing a major pay-per-view, don’t get caught smoking weed to get suspended and kill your momentum. His presumed opponent? The man involved in a Twitter love triangle, which blows up in lieu of a wrestling match. To his credit, Fandango got to make out with Layla and a returning Summer Rae. The drawback? Summer made it look like she did more than kiss him.

RAW 051914 Summer Rae

Um … yeah.


Since it’s London, let’s bring out the cheap Aldous Snow knockoff!

RAW 051914 Adam Rose Renee Young

Adam Rose‘s gimmick’s already stale, which could be why the Brits are giving him the post-WrestleMania 29 Fandango treatment. Or they actually like this whole bit. Either way, I’ve NEVER been so happy to see Zeb Colter.

RAW 051914 Zeb Colter Jack Swagger

On a lighter note, US rosebuds < UK rosebuds. I see you, sailor chick! On a more serious note … I think … Zeb challenges Rose! Jack Swagger intervenes, and Rose uses his entire offensive repertoire. I think Captain Comic, one of his rosebuds, showed more in-ring potential on NXT. Better looking, too!

NXT 050814 Captain Comic


Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take, but the moments that take our breath away. Life doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger. Bolieve in yourself. Sky above me, earth below me, fire within me. It’s Bo Time.

RAW 051914 Bo Dallas Bolieve

The Rotunda brothers might be doing the best mic work in WWE right now, and one of them hasn’t even started his current run yet. The question will be what Bo Dallas can do outside of a vignette, since he was so bad just two months ago, I wrote this. He does also lose points for that stupid cliché to lead off. I knew a girl who used to toast with that before like every shot in college. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of her work.

Also on SmackDown:

RAW 051914 Hulk Hogan

At this rate, that might be the only thing that saves the show.


ME 052014 Paul Heyman

How do you start Main Event? Gotta be “the most prolific Main Event advocate in sports entertainment history”! He’s here to inform us of the well-kept secret: “My client, Brock Lesnar, conquered The Undertaker‘s undefeated streak of WrestleMania!” Besides that, it’s Heyman kissing Cesaro’s ass, calling him the strongest athlete in WWE, until Mark Henry comes out and declares he is, in fact, the World’s Strongest Man. Then he proves it with a weak-ass bear hug. That whole segment just fell flat.

You know what else is falling flat? The Heyman-Cesaro pairing. It’s just … off.

ME 052014 Paul Heyman Cesaro

Paul E. is clearly doing what he can while Lesnar isn’t around, but it’s clearly his B (or B+?) material. It’s more about Lesnar than Cesaro anyway, which really feels like it hinders Cesaro. Besides, it’s not like Heyman is helping Cesaro win a ton of matches … without pulling the actual win-loss record, Cesaro felt more successful in the couple months pre-Heyman. These guys don’t need each other, and it’s actually a disservice to both to keep them together.

Cesaro doesn’t need Heyman talking him up and taking all his shine. Cesaro needs to be wrestling. With Daniel Bryan on the shelf, he’s the best at it. Actually, screw that. Cesaro is the best wrestler in the company in 2014. Yeah, I said it. Let him have his feats of strength, his innovative offense and athletic skill. This is professional wrestling, after all. Somebody should be able to simply be the best pure wrestler in WWE. Doing anything else with him is absurd.

Speaking of absurd, the main event of Paul Heyman’s Main Event isn’t even a wrestling match … it’s an arm wrestling match  

ME 052014 Cesaro Mark Henry arm wrestling

… which Henry wins by DQ, I guess, when Heyman grabs his arm. That distracts Henry long enough for Cesaro to jump him and dump a table on him, presumably setting up an angle to play out over the next few weeks. But what a waste of time. This entire show was.


ME 052014 Damien Sandow Sherlock Holmes

This is what Damien Sandow has become: A punchline for even R-Truth. You know, the guy who once dressed as a Confederate soldier.


Pot, kettle, etc. On the bright side, Sandow … I mean, Sherlock Holmes, is competing in a full suit.


Sandow looking like “enhancement talent” for the first couple minutes, which is just a damn shame. The only active thing he’s doing is swinging and missing, and dipping out of the ring to examine his shirt and have a puff off the pipe, which Truth hilariously interrupts. Everybody has a few “so-and-so needs a push” guys … for many, one STILL appears to be Daniel Bryan. Those fans double as the ones who want all the midcard mechanics to run the company and have guys like John Cena jobbing out every week. They don’t know how wrestling works — it’s about who can gather a reaction with the masses and draw money.

Now, with that being said, Sandow is grossly misused, even though he’s one of the only people on the roster who actually could pull off the jobber-of-many-faces gimmick. He’s a talented wrestler AND an engaging personality, as he has shown basically any time they give him a microphone. He doesn’t need to be world champion by any means, but that middle to upper midcard tier would be perfect for a man of his talents. His Genius 2.0 character would’ve been This match feels about as long as a pay-per-view contest — Truth had a few minutes of control, then Sandow, then Truth again until Sandow hits You’re Welcome for a rare victory.

Time: 13:12

Technical Merit: Maybe be a little more discreet when calling spots. Otherwise? A semi-suitable contest.

Artistic Impression: Sandow as Sherlock was funny, at least, but this story could’ve been told in about half as much time.



As a streaming-only fan, I can’t get the Divas Champion and the most compelling female character in the company on my screen during RAW, since the Hulu Plus version decided to skip it. (It also apparently skipped the aforementioned best wrestler in the company defeating the United States Champion).

But you know what I can get? Two Total Divas plugs and a match angle revolving around the show! I seriously hate WWE sometimes. Maybe I should just get cable.

NAOMI (w/Cameron) vs. AKSANA

Nobody involved in this match does anything for me in the ring or as a personality. Naomi’s MASSIVELY overrated, Aksana can’t work, and even one person basically crushing the other’s eye a couple months ago can’t get me compelled enough to pay attention. Anyway, Naomi wins with a butt bump. Another waste of my damn time.

Time: 3:25

Come back Friday morning for insight and analysis on NXT as WWE’s best weekly show prepares for next week’s Takeover event.