At first this wasn't exactly what I was expecting to write about following the Royal Rumble or the Raw that follows. However, based on recent reports it seems like Dean Ambrose has officially given his notice a few weeks ago and will walk away from the company after Wrestlemania. Though this doesn't mean that right after Ambrose will be leaving the promotion and it is more likely that he will be walking away from WWE by the end of April. Since his arrival in the promotion Dean has become a top star in the promotion, but he has seen a toned down character from the one he held on the independent circuit.
Upon arriving on the main roster from Florida Championship Wrestling he would make an incredible impact as a member of The Shield faction. Though at first nobody would've expected The Shield to have been booked the way they were so quickly based on the companies prior track record with booking young talent. Either way though The Shield would become major stars very early on and if we fast forward seven years it is crazy to see all they've accomplished. Ambrose has pretty much done it all in the WWE and even though I don't think he has reach his potential I don't think that is really on him.
Overall I think there were a lot of limits placed on the former Jon Moxley and he wasn't allowed to have the freedom he had before on the Indies. Now I know the best talent is able to adapt to any situation or environment and I don't mean to insist that Dean was incapable of doing so I just think he had a problem fitting into the system. In my opinion Ambrose fit into the system early as a fresh talent finding his footing, but I do think his early run shows that he is much better as bad guy then a good guy. The reality is that Dean's gimmick is far too out there and split from his comfort zone.
Royal Rumble 2018
WWE United States Championship:
(c) Rusev w/ Lana vs Shinsuke Nakamura
WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
(c) Murphy vs Tozawa vs Hideo Itami vs Kalisto
WWE Women's Championship Match:
(c) Ronda Rousey vs Sasha Banks
This should be one of the best matches that Ronda has had in her career so far and finally show the how talented Banks is. Sasha was one of the top talents in the NXT and never really given the opportunity to show how good she was in developmental. Rousey has really shown incredible progress in the last year especially with her in ring skill. Banks could win this match to through people off with the rumors of Rousey possibly leaving after Wrestlemania. Plus with the seeds planted at TLC last month could one of the Smackdown Live women help one of their friends get one over on Rousey setting up a possible Wrestlemania match. Either way though I think it's more likely Rousey will get the win tonight.
Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship:
(c) The Bar vs Shane McMahon & The Miz
This is the most interesting tag team in WWE, because I think most people still are puzzled by the fact that Miz & Shane are starting to team together. I question that as well due to Shane still being an authority figure on Smackdown and not just an active wrestler. Either way I do believe knowing the WWE we might see Shane & Miz get the victory tonight and really change the Smackdown Tag Team division.
Smackdown Live Women's Championship:
(c) Asuka vs Becky Lynch
Nobody has been gaining more momentum in the last six months than Becky Lynch, she is tops in the WWE next to Daniel Bryan as the most over act in the company. The question is though how does the company protect her and Asuka tonight especially leading into the "Road to Wrestlemania" well I think this depends on where this match is as compared to the other Women's Championship match. It is possible we see Ronda again cost Becky her title, but that'd be a question for how the company wants fans to see Ronda as a heel or face. Using a clean finish though I think Becky gets the win and her title back.
WWE Championship Match:
(c) Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles
There is no doubt that this match will be an incredible back n forth match as these two have a very stable chemistry. Styles has struggled since his arrival of finding his footing outside of the WWE title picture due to poor booking he has suffered. However, since his heel turn Daniel Bryan has hit the peak of his career and by the far the most momentum he has ever had. In my opinion seeing Daniel lose would kill all of his momentum and ruin everything that has been built up. Bryan needs the victory in this match and needs to move on from AJ Styles.
WWE Universal Championship Match:
(c) Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs Finn Balor
In the past Brock has shown how he can work better with smaller talent like Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, and Seth Rollins. It is interesting to know that Brock wanted to work with Finn out everyone on the roster and that for once the company actually did something to make the fans happy. Now I know that a lot of people would like to see Finn get the victory, but that is highly doubtful due to it just not being right. With that being said Brock Lesnar will once again get the win in a solid match.
Women's Royal Rumble Match:
This is the one of the toughest matches to predict based on the fact that a number of surprise entries will likely find there way into the match. There are some empty spots in the match at this point and some similar names that showed up last year will likely show up again this year but won't win. Looking at the active competitors officially in the match it is hard to pick just one possible winner for the Royal Rumble match based on the direction that the company could actually go. As far as the women's match I think that Sonya Deville or Ruby Riot will get a solid performance in the match. Looking the iron-man performance I think either Deville, Riot, or Ember Moon should get this as a way to set some foundation up for the reminder of the year as these three could be future stars in the Women's division. With that being said I will select either Charlotte, Alexa Bliss, or Bayley will get the win the Rumble.
Men's Royal Rumble Match:
This is the one of the toughest matches to predict based on the fact that a number of surprise entries will likely find there way into the match. Annually we always have a lot of special surprises in the match and even though I am unsure that any big free agent will appear in the match and that I think more or less a lot returns from injuries will be apart of the match. Names like Kevin Owens, Bray Wyatt, Sami Zayn, Matt Hardy and others would more than likely be the surprises for the match in my opinion. I don't think that any of the surprises will likely get the victory tonight as it will depend on the plans set up for those injured talent for the big event. I think that Mustafa Ali will likely have a good showing in the match to continue his surprising push and keep the momentum going along. I think that someone like Elias or Drew McIntyre should get the Iron-man performance. In my opinion I think that Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, or Drew McIntyre could get the win in the Royal Rumble tonight.
It is crazy to think that it is once again time to set things up for the Royal Rumble. Rumors have begun to pop up as to who could be showing up on Sunday at the yearly extravaganza it doesn't matter if it's a new signing, debut or a return everyone is fair game. But let's put that aside for right now and focus on the final edition of Smackdown Live before the event and what our takeaway is from the go-home edition of the event. Looking up and down the card I think our focus should look at the main event of the show which was a spectacular match between Andrade and Rey Mysterio. Even though the match did end in a no contest thanks to Samoa Joe that doesn't change the fact that the match was incredible.
Overall I've said it before it seems like Mysterio & the former Cien Almas have incredible chemistry together and it has shown every-time they have been in the ring together thus far. Though I might miss parts of the big event on Sunday I know that I won't miss it all and will hope to see the big moments. In my opinion though the finish the Smackdown was the next best thing as compared to the normal brawl we get to end the go home show ahead of the Rumble. Actually this might be better, because our attention is focus on just one person instead of being confused who to focus on.
There is no doubt that the WWE fans have more of tendency to gravitate to the known faces or those they could actually see winning as oppose to a random selection. I will be doing exactly that on Sunday, but at least with this go home show both Randy Orton & Samoa Joe looked like two people that could possibly get the victory on Sunday even though I don't think either of them will be the last man standing. My one hope though is that the Rumble lives up to it's identity of being extremely unpredictable.
After a borderline disrespectful segment last week with Alexa Bliss that I will not get into, but what a difference a week makes for the former women's champion. Now for those who aren't aware Alexa has been on the shelf since late fall 2018 during a house show match against Ronda Rousey. There had been some rumors going around that Alexa had some more serious complications from the concussion that she sustained. However, with her announcement from this past week's episode of Raw it is clear that she will be back in the ring for the first time in a few months.
Overall though the return of Alexa Bliss isn't the only major takeaway from the go home show of Raw as I would look at the final build for the Women's Championship. Late last year it seemed as though Ronda had finally hit a wall as a competitor in WWE for the first time in her career, but the feud with Sasha has really brought her back from the brink. Even though it is really clear that Rousey will likely still get the win this Sunday, but it is interesting to see Sasha fighting Ronda especially if you can make the connection back to Becky & Charlotte and their issues with the Raw Women's Champion. It will be interesting to see how things shape up in the coming weeks and months as the "Road to Wrestlemania" is almost ready to begin.
Since the announcement of the "new era" in the WWE we have been questioning if the company has really set the stage for a new era. One part that is really shining through thus far with Mustafa Ali and his sudden rise to the top. Ali popped up on Smackdown Live late last year and suddenly hit shocking wins against Daniel Bryan. At this point Ali has yet to compete in a one on one match against the WWE Champion following a pin-fall he has over him from a tag team match last year.
Right now Ali has stepped into a feud with Samoa Joe as his first attempt in a legitimate main event level feud which will be a good test for Ali. In my opinion I think this is not only the perfect feud for Ali to get his feet wet, but also the perfect feud for Joe to get him some momentum in the right direction. It is also interesting to note that Vince McMahon has taken a really liking to Ali calling him a real underdog and someone who is good at working from underneath.
Ali isn't the only one that has really hit his stride as a talent in ring as the former NXT World Champion Andrade Cien Almas has really found himself on the main roster. Now it is unclear if it's working with Rey Mysterio or just just allowing him to work like he did in NXT. After making his debut at the Royal Rumble last year it will be interesting to see not only how Almas fits in this year, but if his stock will continue to climb from where it is at this point. Realistically though I think that the company does need someone like Almas to be ready to move up the card just to have luxury to call upon him to feud with a main eventer or become one if needed.
Overall though the ascensions of both Almas and Ali have put Smackdown in a better position then Raw because we can look at these two guys as the future of the brand. However, Raw really doesn't have such a future even though you look at Elias as a future star I still think that he has something to prove. Elias has hit his stride getting attention with fans, but he still hasn't hit his peak as a performer much like Ali or Almas still has room to grow I see the same for Elias. But I just think that on Smackdown both Ali & Almas will be given the room they need to that which is something I don't think Elias will be able to get on Raw because of the image that Raw has as opposed to the one that Smackdown does.
Now we move to the next number on the list with Adam Cole fitting in at number nine on the list of top 10 wrestlers from 2018. In recent months I have found a consistent schedule for Friday's for the most part by looking at this week's Smackdown and I will still do that, but it will be sliding back a few days. Either way though looking at the last twelve months I think that Adam Cole has really found his place in the WWE specifically as really a very special competitor. Next to Tomasso Ciampa I do believe that the Undisputed Era is among the hottest acts in not just NXT but the WWE as a whole. In my opinion the reason I feel there is proof of this is that the Undisputed Era is the only team to compete in both War Games.
Looking back it the Undisputed Era is one of the top stables in wrestling today and in a way is a throwback to stables of the past much like a Four Horseman type group. Even though some fans might think that this is an unfair connection, but I do believe other than maybe comparing Adam to Ric Flair being unfair I don't think it's that bad of a comparison.
From his feud with Ricochet to his inclusion in one of the top matches of the last twelve months to crown the first ever North American Champion. I think that Adam Cole has really found his place in the company at least for the time being and in my opinion I don't think he needs a run with the World Title before moving up to the main roster, but I guess we shall see what comes around. The scary part is though that Adam is still only 29 years old and keeping that in mind he will have a very bright future ahead of him in the biggest company in pro-wrestling.
For anyone that saw this week's episode of Monday Night Raw would probably agree that seeing Finn Balor move into the spot once occupied by Braun Strowman was both a positive and negative. Since his arrival onto the main roster and subsequent victory over Seth Rollins to become the first Universal Champion most fans have been hungry to see the "Demon King" back on top of the red brand. However, an injury derailed his early career and he never really recovered even after he returned his momentum never came back as the creative team never got a clear picture for how to book him.
Recently we saw just how different his career was down in NXT when he appeared on the first ever NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool. The sight of Balor having his old entrance with the fans incredibly into his presence giving a glimpse into what his career could be on the main roster. At point Balor was a top star and the reality is that he has always shown the capability to be a top star like he was in New Japan as well. The best way to put it though is like Finn said on Raw it is clear that Vince has never truly believed in him and that's really why he has his standing where it is.
Brining the Braun Strowman situation into the picture now a lot of people are questioning why exactly Braun has been removed from the title match at Royal Rumble. From what I understand Braun was removed from the match due to him not being completely healed from the injury he sustained late last year. Strowman was also apparently removed from the match based on the fact that they had no intention of letting Braun beat Brock and didn't want him to loose for a third time to Brock. Now I know that some fans might look at this as Finn Balor being set up to do a job for Brock Lesnar.
However, think about it like this as a test for Balor in a big spot especially one against the top draw for the company in Brock Lesnar. I know that some people might think that Balor should win, but I'd rather have the next time Brock loose be his last match in the company and where he doesn't comeback. Though some fans might not agree with me in my opinion Brock Lesnar is the measuring stick for WWE and that if you can good match out of Brock you will have a bright future. Overall there is no doubt in my mind that the WWE need Finn Balor in a top position to help a lacking baby face roster. I do worry about Braun, but am excited about the future that we could see for Finn Balor in 2019.
With another solid episode of Smackdown Live in the past we have somethings to look back to what exactly happened on the blue brand. Since the announcement of the WWE's new era we have seen a number of solid Smackdown Live episodes. Unfortunately of course though the WWE has still not changed certain aspects of their booking styles especially when it comes to the tag team division.
One aspect of the creative process that WWE still drives fans crazy with is that the company really doesn't bring the other teams on television. The Good Brothers, Colon's and Sanity are still with the WWE but never really appear on television. After a solid first feud with the New Day we haven't seen Sanity gain too much momentum since their arrival on the main roster. The same could be said for the Good Brothers and The Colon's, but the real question is why the WWE aren't seemingly willing to allow some fresh teams to contend for the championship. Also the tag team division isn't the only issue with WWE as the Untied States Championship has had it's issues in the last year with the company booking the title as something that has very little importance.
One positive to take from this week's edition of Smackdown Live is the continued incredible work of the "New" Daniel Bryan. Since the heel turn nobody saw coming we have seen the incredible work of Daniel Bryan which nobody really saw as something that could happen. Daniel has shown some fantastic work as a heel which is something we haven't seen since his time as ROH World Champion in 2005. I remember seeing old footage of Daniel screaming "I have until 5 ref" using that as his catchphrase, but now it has been taken to the next level. I have very much enjoyed everything that Daniel has put out thus far since turn and I will most definetly be keeping my eyes on the WWE Champion.
It is hard to believe that only a few days into the new year and we have lost one of the greatest, most talented, lovable personalities in all of wrestling. The one name that was brought to the WWF very early on in the national expansion when Vince McMahon first began to go national and "Mene" Gene would become part of the WWF's brand from his debut with the company in the 1980's all the way through to his departure in 1993. During his time in the WWF he become a man of many talents which included interviewing, hosting, announcing, and even wrestling. For those who may not be aware Gene actually teamed with Hulk Hogan in 1984 against George Steele and Mr. Fuji, this would be the only match Gene's career.
After nine years with the WWF the time came when his contract expired for Gene to walk away from the promotion and move onto a new home WCW. Gene would join the WCW in the fall of 1993 and other than one short "vacation" away from the company in 1996 he would remain a member of the WCW until the company was sold in 2001. Gene would become a staple of the promotion much like he did in the WWF years before providing "information" with his hot-line and a common presence for interviews every especially his with Ric Flair they were always a highlight.
Looking back it is funny to think how much of an impact Gene had on the product, because a good interviewer had the ability to keep your interest even during the non-wrestling segments. In my opinion if Jim Ross is the greatest wrestling announcers ever then "Mene" Gene is the greatest interviewer in the history of pro-wrestling. Nobody could help the wrestlers or ask the right questions to really keep your attention during segments that can be hit or miss. If you look at the interviewers of today they couldn't even lace a pair of Gene's boots and though the sport has changed a lot over the years one thing truly hasn't a good interview is nothing but helpful.
Thank you Gene for all the moments you were a part of and memories you helped make all the more special. You will be incredibly missed by everyone who had the pleasure to see you do what you loved with those that you loved for all the years you were able to do it. Now you will have the chance to give the wrestling event in the sky the greatest interviewer in history and just another reason that show is just so damn lucky. "You know something "Mene" Gene!" We will miss you, god speed!!
For the last few months there has been one question really absent from my mind and it's now shocking how little thought I gave to the idea. For most of 2018 I didn't really pay any attention to the whereabouts of one John Cena. The former franchise of the WWE has been mostly absent from the company since his appearance at one of the super shows I believe it was Australia where he teamed with Bobby Lashley. It is incredible to think about how much things have changed in the last few years knowing that the WWE is in fact surviving without John Cena, not triving at the moment but they are surviving.
Last year was really going to be the year when new faces took over Cena's post as the franchise of the company and even though some attempted to bad booking was mostly the thing that stopped anyone from doing so. Well expect Roman Reigns as nobody expected, or anticipated the events that happened to take place and I for one do wish that Roman was still on Raw every week. Either way though this week's Smackdown gave us a sight that I don't think any of us really ever thought we would see when Becky Lynch stood in the ring with John Cena.
Now don't get it twisted I am not saying Becky was never capable of standing in the ring with John Cena, but too many the segment they had together looked a little bit like a passing of the torch type situation. In a way it seemed like Cena was giving Becky the spotlight and the opportunity to shine on a bigger stage then she had been before. Not to say that this run she has been hasn't been great, it's just that the company doesn't have a lot of mainstream stars anymore so when a former star comes back and gives current talent a rub. This in my opinion is how the company should use former/nostaglia acts to benefit the current crop of talent, because if former stars won't be there every week they should be used to help get the current talent even more over then they were before.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present