The Wrestling 9 Deuce – December 26 & 27, 2016 – Rise of the Alphas Edition

Hey yo. This is the final blog of 2016 and boy do we have a good one this week.  We scrapped a lot of our hard hitting questions and went in various directions.  I think you will find it a nice change of pace.  Joining me, as always, are Russ and Keri.  They like wrestling and work for free!

Please check out our podcast Are You Not Kentertained.  Also, if you read this blog, leave a comment or pass along the link to your friends.  We love getting feedback from the fans and getting questions as well.

The 9

  1.  Do you think that WWE is aiming to keep Braun a tweener, or more of a heel?  Also, who do you have winning the Sami and Braun Last Man Standing match?

Russ:  I think they are testing the waters with Braun to see how fans react.  So they will keep him a bit of tweener.  I think this will be a good move for WWE and Braun.  As for the last man standing.  I think Braun will pull this out.  Sami will do everything he can to put the big man down, but he will fail.  This is where you make Braun an indestructible monster.  

Keri:  Given the current storyline, I think Creative is trying to keep Braun in a heel role. As for the last man standing match, I have Braun winning. I just think it’s no 100% believable that Sami can outlast Braun. At least not right now, that is.

Kent:  Tweener.  That was easy.  Sami wins with some help from the Shield boys.  I say Tweener with conviction because WWE hasn’t done a good tweener since…..well ever. A fighting bad ass that doesn’t care if he is going against a face or a heel, doesn’t care about alliances, just wants to hurt people and win, it’s a simple story.  WCW did that in the past with a guy that you may have heard of, Goldberg, early on.

  1.  Is RAW starting to do things the right way with their booking, or do they still need more tweaks?

Russ:  I have to be honest I missed RAW this week and only caught highlights (Christmas week is a busy week.)  So I don’t know if anything has improved with booking. I do like that they are still trying to work in Bo, Daren, and Jinder. I like how they are utilizing Shesaro in innovative Tag Finishes.  I worry that they are going to give Reigns a double champ status at the Rumble, but that’s a problem for January me. End of the year me just wants to see what will happen in 2017.  

Keri:  Honestly, it seems to me that they are following Smackdown’s lead at this point. They are branching out and creating multiple storylines in each division. You know stuff Smackdown has been doing for months. I don’t think they are coming up with anything completely original right now though. With that being said, I do feel that RAW was slightly more entertaining this week. Therefore, I will give them the benefit of the doubt given that it is the end of the year and maybe they will elevate their game for 2017.

Kent:  I acknowledge that RAW is improving.  I have to be honest though, they have done so much damage to their brand that I am struggling to get excited for RAW the past….I don’t even know how many weeks.  They are giving us storylines up and down the roster, and that’s great.  Forgotten guys were having matches on Monday.  I think December is the turning point for RAW.  The biggest thing is that they need some new blood for the top 4 guys to deal with.  Sami, Braun, Finn, and somebody else, like Samoa Joe.  That’s what needs to happen next. Hypothetically speaking, Finn vs Jericho, Roman vs Braun, Seth vs Sami, KO vs Joe are among many combinations that we could have.  Of course…uh, the game….uh, is on….uh, his way back…uh.  Oh well.  I like me some HHH.

  1.  Was the Dusty Rhodes bear thing going too far?

Russ:  I wasn’t sure why this was such a big deal.  Obviously, Goldust didn’t mind and it sets up G&A as total Ass Holes!  It worked for what it was.  Yeah, I guess it was a bit insensitive, but I had no issues with this.  Granted, I only watched the highlights of this segment, so maybe I missed something that set this up worse, but I just saw it as a means to an end to get Goldust some much needed face heat.  

Keri:  I thought the interaction part with Goldust and Bayley was cute. It got you right in the feels and that is what it was supposed to do. As for G&A’s part in this segment. Well, that was just some good heeling.

Kent:  This is a tough subject because of the grey area.  When WWE does this sort of thing, think back to Eddie is in Hell stuff, or Paul Bearer’s ashes with CM Punk, and now this, you have to really consider a couple of things. First, how is the family going to feel or did they approve?  Secondly, is this something that the dead person would have absolutely approved of?  The second one is actually more important in my eyes than the first.  Family members of performers must recognize that this is how their departed relative put food on the table, and these performers are used to doing some wacky, and sometimes insensitive things to get heat.  There’s a third thing though that doesn’t get enough consideration.  How much will a line, or an act, help the heel generate long lasting heat and will it propel them long term to bigger and better things?  Say that ripping the head off of the bear would catapult Gallows and Anderson into being the biggest heel team for the next 8 months of 2017.  Would Dusty have been cool with it?  Probably, as he loved the help the “kids” get over.  But in a case like this, it doesn’t do shit for Gallows and Anderson short term because the team they pissed off are old veteran jobbers at this point.  It doesn’t put them any deeper into a title hunt.  It surely isn’t the sort of memorable thing that in 6 months you can point to as some turning point.  For fuck’s sake, Old Day happened.  The Dudley’s put over G&A on their way out.  None of that helped.  Only great storytelling and logical booking can get these guys over and stay over.  Not these stupid one time deals that aren’t built up and just wither away.  Honestly, I didn’t like it when it happened, and I like it even less the more I write about it.  If this led to Goldust getting one final big run in the company, or helped one of Dusty’s prized pupils, I could get behind it more.  Instead, we saw a great outing for Goldust, who still lost in a stupid manner.  Fuck that.  I would have had Goldust snap on them and beat the holy bejeezus out of them.

  1.  What is more important for the Cruiserweight division at this point in time: a good feud for the belt or building up midcard feuds?  Also, thinking long term, would Austin Aries be better served returning to the ring when healthy or stay announcing for 205 and other Cruiserweight matches on RAW and PPV?

Russ:  This question was ok, but honestly it didn’t pop as much as it usually does for me.  I think a good feud for the belt is always a pleasure.  Don’t get me wrong, mid-card feuds are definitely needed (Gallagher is gold! And the challenging Davari to a duel was amazing!)  I think we need to feel more about our champion.  Swann is a great champ (I haven’t watched 205 yet, don’t ruin it for me!) So we need to keep him interesting.  To do that we need a good feud.  Fortunately, Swann seems compatible with almost anyone.  My only concern is that it shouldn’t be Neville yet!  Neville is great, however, he should beat Swann at a more pivotal time, like the February PPV or something.   (Kent:  Way to not answer the last part of “your” question.)

Keri:  Why not both? I mean the cruiserweight division, with the exception of just recently, has been on life support. It was not interesting and the audience was kinda mild during the initial matches that were shown for this division. A good feud for the belt would legitimize the belt and make it valuable. But at the same time, you also have to build up the midcard of the division. Otherwise, when the individuals in that part of the division make the jump to a championship feud you will have the audience scratching their heads asking who is this guy. I think what Creative has done since the start of 205 live has definitely pointed this division in the right direction and it should continue as we move forward into next year. As for Austin Aries, I think he is in the right role for him right now. Should he wrestle in the division when he is healthy? I’m not sure. I mean he has had some great matches prior to his injury so he would be a great edition to the division.  I just think commentary maybe be a good fit for him as well. I don’t know I’m really torn here.

Kent:  What a gentlemanly question!  All I know is that I follow the glove slap and the challenging of a duel.  So the initial reaction is that a show isn’t worth a damn if you don’t have quality throughout the show, and that is the real answer.  I will offer a contrarian thought though, because that’s what I do.  Think about the best PPV’s of all time.  All of them have a legit match of the year candidate.  Most of the time, it is one of, if not the main event.  So yes, to maintain our interest week to week, everything should be flowing well from top to bottom.  You still need to give us that big moment, that big main event match that you MUST see.  Your Hogan vs Andre, Hogan vs Savage, Warrior vs Hogan, HBK vs Taker, Hogan vs Goldberg, Sting vs Hogan, Flair vs Sting, Taker vs Mankind, Taker vs. Edge, Edge vs Cena, Austin vs Rock, and so on.  The little things keep your interest, but you need that one big thing to draw people in.  As far as Aries goes, this is one of those questions that I don’t have a definite answer for.  If I truly believe that WWE will keep the Cruiserweights relevant and on TV for the next decade, I have to say to stick with announcing.  If people are less than certain about WWE’s commitment to keeping this 205 thing going and giving it it’s own show and spots on RAW and PPV, then I suggest Aries return to the ring ASAP and earn while he can and hope to get another chance at being an announcer down the line.  Safe bet is to stick with commentary as he is pretty good at it.

  1.  So, the RAW opening segment with Stephanie and Rollins continued the ball rolling on the possible Rollins-Triple H-ah match-ah at Wrestlemania-ah. What are your thoughts on this segment?

Russ:  RAW needs to learn how to do promo segments better.  I don’t know if it is just the acting, but I feel like RAW’s dialogue is much more stunted than Smackdowns.  I heard Steph had a great line on CM Punk, but I can’t find it anywhere (to be fair I’ve hardly looked.)  Still the whole thing seemed forced to me and I didn’t care for it.  Yes, I know my boy Rollins was in there, but he isn’t always perfect and on RAW it was a little much to take.  

Keri:  I felt this segment was ok yet repetitive. Yes it had your great sound bites like Steph’s comments to the Chicago crowd on their CM Punk chant. Which reminds me, live crowds, can we cut it out with the CM Punk chants. Dude is never coming back and you just sound stupid chanting his name for basically no reason. Thank you. Now back to this segment. This segment just seemed like more of the same old same old that we have come to expect from RAW creative. The same one liners and the same stuff that is used in every feud. It just seemed lazy to me and it seemed to me like both Seth and Steph were going through the motions. I expect better from both of them.

Kent:  Ahhhh…I liked it, mainly because I felt that Steph was on top of her game.  Roman still hasn’t shown us, or been given the chance (in all fairness) to show us what he can do.  Seth has regressed from 2015.  #1 pick…..BOOOOOOOO!  Still, her line about Punk just shut that noise down.  Well played.

  1. Do you feel that it is too soon for the Wyatt Family to drop the belts?  Do you feel that it was too soon for American Alpha to win the belts?  Do these 2 teams go on to feud throughout the next month or 2, or do they quickly go into different feuds?

Russ:  I have no clue what the point of having the Wyatt’s win the belts if they are just going to give them away in only 2 matches.  They are moving on with my plan that sets up a mini-feud for Luke and Randy, but this was way too soon! I thought for sure it would be Randy vs Bray at WrestleMania, which I guess it still can happen.  American Alpha winning the belts felt like another WrestleMania moment that is getting killed too early as well.  Only time will tell what happens next, but this felt like rush job to me.  

Keri:  I was beyond shocked when American Alpha won last night. I mean the Wyatts should have had the belts a lot longer than they did. I was expecting this title change to happen more closer to Wrestlemania. I guess the injury to the Zack Ryder messed up everything. I guess it’s back to catering for Zack when he returns. Le Sigh.

Kent:  TOO SOON all around.  I wanted the Wyatts to drop it in like February and have the feud in full swing for Wrestlemania season (I hate the term “Road to Wrestlemania”).  I really enjoy their dynamic, and like anything else with Bray, this just feels like the rug has been pulled out from under him prematurely.  I wish WWE would just let him sail along longer before moving on to the next chapter.  I do have faith in Smackdown, so I will withhold my judgement and trust the process.  By the way, that superplex was perfection personified.

  1.   Who is El Luchadora?

Russ:  Naomi.  I mean it looked like her under the mask.  I watched Smackdown on my laptop so when they showed a close up on her face through the eye-holes it looked just like Naomi.  I hope it was!  She is a great athlete that needs more exposure.  

Keri:  I’m not 100% sure but this looked like someone from NXT and not someone from the main roster. My guess is Ember Moon based on overall appearance.

Kent:  I have no F’N clue, so i am going to say Eva Marie with some bad makeup on to through us off.  My second guess would be a terribly racist “black face” of sorts on Natalya, but that wouldn’t make much sense.  I truly am oblivious to who it may be.  If you look at her ass, it’s not big or very full, so that eliminates Naomi and Ember in my opinion.  The height is also an obstacle.  The hair wasn’t black.  Somebody from the past could be in play, but WHO?  Billie Kay would also be awesome.  By the way, I liked Becky’s new attire.  It is a subtle change, but it looked really good on her.

  1.  Give me your thoughts on the AJ vs Dolph vs Baron triple threat match on Smackdown.  Also, did you like Cena’s promo?  Where does Cena go after his feud with AJ Styles is done?  Is Jim Ross correct in saying that by the end of 2017, AJ will be the top face in WWE?

Russ:  This was a good match!  Holy cow Baron was a beast!  I loved how they made him the power-house and the only way to take him out was a double teams.  I also enjoyed the chain wrestling in this match.  Every move was very smooth from one to the next, especially toward the end.  AJ hitting the phenomenal forearm right after Corbin buried Dolph with a devastating end of days was pretty special.  Cena’s promo was ok.  I like how he acknowledged the crowd several times, but him saying that he’s John Cena and he can book his own matches was kind of dumb.  After his feud with AJ all I want to see is him and The Undertaker go at it at WrestleMania!  Kent has sold me on how special that match would be.  I agree once in a lifetime, it has to be done!  As for AJ being the top face?  Yes, listen to the crowd! Even now as a heel every time his music hits the crowd pops big for him.  Everyone knows we have something special in AJ Styles and WWE knows it too.  When he goes face he will be the top face that runs the place.  

Keri:  This was a really good match! Strong showing by all participants. Now onto Cena’s promo. All I have to say is my husband and I let out a collective groan when he made his intentions for the title known. Cena returns and gets a championship opportunity. Yeah, old storylines from years past are so exciting. However, one thing I didn’t notice but my husband pointed out to me during this promo is that it seems like they may be turning Cena heel. Well as much as you can turn Cena heel given his reputation. Either way, this is going to be another must see feud and must see match with match of the year possibilities. As for Jim Ross’ comments, I think it would work based on his current crowd reaction and Cena’s actions in Tuesday nights promo. So, I say why not.

Kent:  What a great match that was!  It exceeded my expectations because as much as I love Baron and see nothing but big things for him, he hasn’t been given that much time in matches, especially against the likes of AJ Styles.  AJ and Dolph bumped like crazy, Baron didn’t look winded.  I loved the table spot.  Pretty much, I couldn’t have asked for more.  Cena’s promo was good for what it was.  This time of year, Cena always has a little heel in his promos.  I like that aspect.  Cena will lose to AJ, then be involved in the Elimination Chamber match with AJ, Dolph, Miz, Dean, and Baron. After that, I fully expect Cena vs Taker vs AJ Styles, or AJ Styles vs somebody like a Samoa Joe or Bobby Roode or Shinsuke Nakamura.  That would be huge.  Yeah, JR is probably right.  He often is.

  1.  Between WWE’s 2 young big men, Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin, tell me, who is being booked better in the short term?  Also, who is being groomed better long term?

Russ:  Tough question.  Both guys are currently being booked very well!  However, the way it is worded I would say short term Strowman is being booked better.  He is being booked to a dominating monster that no one has pinned or come close to stopping.  The top faces even get dominated by him.  This is great booking to create a monster in the short term, but once he is beaten I fear he will have no place to go but down, not to mention he hasn’t put on a good match yet and that is the key to long term success.  This is where Baron Corbin is being groomed for the long haul.  He is showing growth in the ring and being booked very solidly.  Every match that Baron has been in he has significantly improved from the last.  In 3 years Baron will be a top heel where Braun will be in the role of The Big Show.  

Keri:  I would have to say that Braun is being booked (or has been booked) better for the short term. They have legitimize him as RAW’s newest monster. The question remains though given his limited in-ring ability and mic work if this will translate into anything long term for him. Baron Corbin, however, is being booked better for the long term. They are slowly building him up and giving him opportunities to showcase his talents both in the ring and on the mic. With him you are not expecting him to be the guy yet but down the road he could very well be the guy.

Kent:  The more I thought about it, the more I say Baron for both.  The Braun stuff is good, but it’s going to pigeon hole him potentially, whereas Baron can have a great 10 year run.  Braun seems more likely to have a Great Khali career, which isn’t terrible.  He won the belt once or twice I believe.  Baron is a threat now, can work in longer matches, and has a moveset.  Braun is still working on a lot of little things.  Braun needs a chance to be more articulate and speak like Baron did on Talking Smack.  That was a game changer.

Bonus Deuce

  1.  2016 has been an historic year for wrestling, just ask the WWE and RAW commentators.  A)  Tell me something(s) that you feel will be memorable to you that are positive or interesting.  B)  Tell me something that you would prefer to forget about 2016 in WWE.  C) Name one matchup that you are sick of seeing and don’t want to see in 2017 (Aside from Sasha vs Charlotte).  D)  Name a feud that you want to see in 2017 that would work based on current rosters (Aside from Cena and Taker).

Russ:  A) Definitely Memorable, the fact that 2016 had so many great matches in it!  There are at least 8 matches that happened this past year that are worthy and debatable for being the match of the year.  B) Old Day, the horrible treatment of Titus O’Neil, Shane vs Taker, and finally Roman winning at WrestleMania… Basically all of WrestleMania.  C) Well one that I never need to see again and thankfully, probably won’t, Taker vs Shane.  This was awful in so many ways.  However, if it is just for 2017 I could go the whole year without ever seeing AJ vs Dean again.  They had some great matches and I know they have more to come.  I just don’t want to see it in the next year.  D) This seems to be a no-brainer for me Seth vs Balor.  Seth would need to be the heel in this match, but they have great chemistry and their feud was cut short because of the injury.  I’d love to see how they would tear a house down with a good feud.  

Keri:  A) The rise of AJ Styles. This was his year. From his not so surprising debut in the Rumble to his match with Cena at Summerslam to his current championship reign. It’s something that has kept me interested all year long.  B) Nia Jax. She was brought up too soon. The girl is not main roster ready. I say send her (and Dana Brooke) back down to NXT in 2017 and have them work on their character. In the meantime, bring back Emma and have her feud with Sasha C) No more Charlotte and Sasha. Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top. D) I’m really pumped for the Ambrose-Miz feud. I’m really looking forward to their match next week and think it will be a great way for Smackdown to start the new year. I just hope they can leave Renee out of it though. I just don’t like that element of it.

Kent:  A) AJ Style succeeded.  That was a huge question mark.  I have been watching AJ for like 10 years now in TNA, however long he was there, and I knew that he had IT.  I didn’t trust WWE to book him properly.  I also want to give HUGE props to the writers of Smackdown.  They have reinvigorated my passion for wrestling, and I thank them.  Of course Baron and Braun’s ascension along with American Alpha, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and even Bayley.  One other guy that I have to give props to is John Cena for altering things just enough to become great again.  Cruiserweights being relevant again and NXT still bringing it.  Heath Slater got an opportunity and ran with it and became a star.  We also had a lot of good to great matches this year.  Really good year for matches.  B) The Women’s Revolution in general.  Stop with that awful term.  The women on Smackdown don’t have to talk about it, they just go out there and do it, and get no praise for it.  RAW’s writing in general has been freshly squeezed garbage juice for the most part of the year.  The Brock and Goldberg thing was just awful.  Dolph losing the IC title, Roman with the US Title, Rusev’s treatment, Enzo’s treatment, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil, and the Tag Team division for the  most part.  Old Day, Gallows and Anderson, the Dudley Boys, Ascension, Vaudevillains. Sami Zayn, and so on.  C)  I can say New Day vs Gallows and Anderson, any combination of Seth, Roman, Jericho, and Owens, tItus vs Darren, and sadly, Miz vs Dolph.  Give it time.  D) The Balor Club vs The Shield, Baron vs Cena, I’d actually love to see HHH vs AJ, Taker vs Luke, Luke vs AJ, Luke vs Cena, Bray vs AJ, Randy vs Baron, Dolph vs Randy, Cesaro vs Roman, Cesaro vs Seth, Emma vs Sasha or Charlotte, Paige vs Reality, Alexa vs Mickie James…..wait, Mickie James is El Luchadora!!!!

  1.  If you could give somebody new entrance music, who would it be and if you have a suggested replacement song, have at it?

Russ:  Heath Slater!  One man Band isn’t horrible, but I always thought Theory of a Deadman’s Low-Life would be a great fit for him.  If you don’t know the song go listen to it.  It fits his current personality well.  

Keri:  Roman Reigns. The Shield has been over for awhile now. Let’s give him something that speaks to his character (or lack thereof depending on who you talk to). Not sure what song I would give him to replace it with though.

Kent:  Neville should get Hail to the King by Avenged Sevenfold.  If not Neville, then Heel Roman.  American Alpha should get Kurt’s old music and the crowd could chant Al-Pha.  I’d love Dean or Luke to get Shinedown’s Cut The Cord, or even Cesaro. I’d love to see bad ass Emma get something from Halestorm or In This Moment.  The chorus for The Eagle Has Landed would be awesome for somebody like a returning Drew Galloway or even Neville or even The Ascension.  The video is actually very Vaudevillain-esque, but their song kicks ass.  Gallows and Anderson could absolutely use a new song as it’s not very good.  I put lots of thought into this stuff because this a big part of why ECW is so memorable.  The music was great, and WWE does a great job with 70% of their roster.  AJ’s song, or any of the NXT people, they do great things.  The Shield guys all need new songs though.  Dean could use a more chaotic and or dark song.  Find something from System of a Down for him. Give Seth Thunderstruck by ACDC.  Think about the music starting and the crowd starts chanting Thunder and then he comes out.  It would add so much to his entrance, and he does deserve it.  Also, if we can turn a member of New Day into a Voodoo character, give them Who Do You Voodoo by Sam B.  It would be so amazing. 

Finally, have a safe and happy new year.  Seriously, don’t drink and drive and be that asshole.

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