To break up the Brock Lesnar posts in this section of the site I thought we could shift our attention to the second annual Mae Young Classic. Last year this tournament was unlike anything we had ever seen before with another chapter being written in the history of women's wrestling. Honestly looking at this years group for the tournament we can see some familiar faces but also a few unknowns that have the biggest chance to prove themselves on a big scale.
Last year we saw Kari Sane get the win in the tournament which in hindsight it was a great launching pad for the new signing, but in the end her not becoming Women's Champion has knocked off some of the luster. Overall I would like to see Toni Storm get the win in the tournament as she is one of the top female performers overseas and this could be the launching pad for her to take off. Now I know some might be thinking that there is no way Toni could win because she isn't employed by the WWE, but just look at Pete Dune, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, and other UK talent then answer why Toni couldn't be the female performer that the company invests in. However, there is a new signing in the tournament once again from Japan named Io Shirai and I just hope that the company doesn't go the same route they did last year and we have a different winner.
Since the start of the year all we have heard is rumors of how the WWE was trying to use the Brock Lesnar situation to benefit one guy. However, I think everyone knows that nothing will be able to save this upcoming match at Summerslam. With his move to the UFC all but set in stone it seems to be the time for us to once again begin to start thinking about what the WWE looks like without Brock Lesnar. The first thing you'd probably notice is that the main event picture has suddenly become wide open on Raw and that could allow many different names to come up to fill the spot. Another idea that comes up is the reverse as Brock's absence has really prevented the company from putting together any sort of a long term plan with booking or at least I hope that's the reason the company has drifted away from the long term booking concept.
Let's jump in the wrestling time machine to the year 2012 when the "Beast" first appeared back in the WWE and compare the company from then to now. In my opinion I think that the company is in a better position now then it was when Brock first returned, but his presence is wearing thin in the company. The main difference between the company now and then is the pool of talent now is leaps and bounds better then it was at one point.
Currently, the company has names like Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Lashley, and various others waiting to either get back into or debut in the main event. Adding to that the company has Adam Cole, Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, Allister Black, and many others waiting in the farm system. In a way I think that Brock leaving will be a blessing for the WWE as it would help open the door for others to step up that otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to. Either way though I think it's time that the WWE begins to set up a plan for the company after Brock walks away. In my opinion the best thing that they can do right now is write WrestleMania on a piece of paper writing down matches and coming up with the best plan and how to get where they want to go. Now I don't think this will happen, but it is fun to think that the WWE has some sort of a plan in place once Brock heads back to UFC.
At one point I heard an old school booker say that the WWE did it right when they only had three titles because it allowed for a narrow spotlight. But when they chose to expand the amount of titles it stretched the spotlight to it's breaking point and those same booker's believe the only way to give titles meaning is to have less of them. However, I don't think that's the case anymore and it's not about putting the magic back it's about creating reasons for fans to care. Recently the WWE has done a fantastic job with creating interest back in the Intercontinental title & with the absence of the Universal title it has become the top title on Raw.
Unfortunately though as I mentioned previously this has hurt the still new Universal championship as it is preventing the company from creating interest and stopping fans from caring about it. Now don't get me wrong I know some "mark" might say well if "Roman wins the title I still won't care about it, because he shouldn't be champion." Well at least if Roman has the title then he can stop challenging for it and it will be on Raw every week or at least a lot more often then it is right now.
The reason I chose the title of this article is that right now the WWE still does have a narrow spotlight with only a handful of championships being booked well enough for fans to care. In my opinion those champions are the: WWE Champion, Intercontinental Champion, Raw Women's Champion and Smackdown Tag Champions. Originally the WWE only had three titles in the spotlight, but now they have four that are being booked well enough for fans to care and pay attention when the champion has the ring. The only real question I have is when or if we will ever be given a serious chance to care about and invest in the Universal Championship as the World title is suppose to be a benefit not a curse for the champion.
Something that I have done in the past with WrestleMania and other PPVs is find ways to try and build some hype for the event. In the late 1990's during the "Era of Attitude" we saw two men leading the charge in the early days those men were Shawn Michaels & Triple H. However, things would change in 1998 when "HBK" was forced into early retirement due to a severe back injury and this is where Steve Austin took the lead. Michaels would be gone until 2002 when he would return as a member of the NWO as a manager at first before one of the biggest feud would begin.
As a kid who grew up during this time I remember the night that Triple H & Shawn Michaels teased the return of D-Generation X only to have Triple H turn on him and attack Michaels. This then lead to Michaels getting beaten up backstage the following week. When it was reveled that it was Triple H who attacked Michaels this opened the door for the official return of Michaels to the ring. In my opinion this match will go down as one of the best matches in the history of the "Biggest Party of the Summer" just based on the length of time Michaels had been out of the ring. Overall Michaels & Triple H not only showed how much chemistry they had with one another but that HBK could still go.
Over the years various talent have found their comfort zone and the place they belong to have the most success. The WWE though doesn't always look at it that way and sometimes they see it as talent just needing to get use to a new role. Even when the comfort level doesn't change and it is clear that the talent doesn't belong on one side but the other look to The Miz as a perfect example of this idea. Another person that has even gone on record to say that he is not only more comfortable but preferred role for him in the company. For the last 16 years, Randy Orton has held many different roles in the WWE and was one the companies first major projects following the departures of Steve Austin and The Rock.
At first Randy came up as a typical white meat baby face that was very cookie cutter until his injury that took him off tv for a few months. Upon his return to television we got the first taste of him as a heel being a part of Evolution. The "Legend Killer" gimmick fit Randy to a tee and was almost an extension of himself and it only got better as time went on from feuds with Shawn Michaels to a legendary feud with Mick Foley. In my opinion though when he made the move to the "Viper" it only got better as his time as the viper was the peak of his career.
However, in recent years Randy's career hit a stand still and in way become quite stagnant almost like he was just going through the motions and phoning it in every time he was in the ring. This lead to many fans wishing for the day that Randy would go back to his old ways and get another run as a heel. At Extreme Rules it happened when Randy returned to attack Jeff Hardy he officially changed to back to a heel. Now we have exactly what we've been waiting for and that is Randy in the position that he has always felt most comfortable. The benefit this brings to the WWE is that now they have one of their best heels in modern era back doing what he always did better then most; and that's get people to hate him. Overall I think this also does wonders for Smackdown's heel roster as it gives guys like AJ Styles someone new to feud with that they might not have had the chance to feud with before the turn and that feud is something I'd tune in to watch.
The Universal Championship has had one home since WrestleMania last year and that is around the waist of the "Beast" Brock Lesnar. Looking back Brock did have a decent number of title defenses last year from Samoa Joe to Braun Strowman to Roman Reigns, but not enough for a World Champion. In reality this reign has been more reminiscent of Dean Ambrose's United States title reign when he defended the title only four or so times in almost a year. I've said it before and will again that the WWE's booking issues start at the top and I don't mean with Vince McMahon they start with the booking of the World Championships. Just think about it if the World Champion isn't the strongest booked person in the company why is he champion then and same could be said if people aren't interest in him. Now the WWE has given the gold to some names that have not had the fans interest in the past, but the problem is the lack of long term booking.
Since his disappearing act began after the Greatest Royal Rumble the company has been attempting to make Brock out to be a villain in the way that he doesn't want to defend the title or appear in an effort to get fans behind Roman. However, the company isn't thinking about the fact that fans might turn against both Brock and Roman and just in general not hold any interest in the match. Now it is possible that they trying to move us off the idea that Braun could cash in on Brock or Roman, but I think that's the only way they don't have repeat of WrestleMania.
In my opinion though the one thing that the company isn't thinking about in all this is how this effects the Universal title. Looking ahead to Summerslam there is no doubt that it could be Brock's last show and in turn it could see the end of his lengthy title reign; but what about helping the fans care about the championship. The one thing that I've been thinking is that the title is suppose to help elevate the talent not the other way around because it places limits on the names who could be champion. But now the real question is how much prestige does the Universal Championship actually have and who could the company chose to help give it the much needed boost. Overall I think the company will be better off when Brock walks away because the spotlight will expand a little bit more to include names like Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Jinder, and others on top instead of having Brock hold it hostage like he has in the last year.
Extreme Rules 2018
Andrade Cien Almas vs Sin Cara
New Day vs Sanity
Finn Balor vs Baron Corbin
This is one feud that has somewhat succeed to spite the WWE Creative machine, because both Corbin and Balor have pushed the feud on Twitter. Using social media to push television feuds is something that WWE doesn't do enough of especially with how much time they spend touting social media milestones. Honestly though I don't think there is a lot of meat on the bone for this match and am unsure why they are feuding to be quite frank. Either way though I think Balor wins and we let Corbin focus on being "Constable."
WWE Raw Tag Team Championships:
(c) Deleater of Worlds vs B-Team
This is something I honestly never thought I'd see and I'm not just talking about Bray & Hardy as tag team champions. I mean I never thought I would see Axel and Bo Dallas in a successful tag team with a legitimate chance to win the tag team gold. Though in the long term I think the Author's of Pain will slot into the division within the next few months it will be very nice to see a surprise victory. With that being said I think the B-Team get the win and shock everyone.
WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships:
(c) Bludgeon Brothers vs Team Hell No
Much like the other tag title match on the card I never thought for many reasons that I would ever see Kane & Daniel Bryan teaming together again. Don't get me wrong I love the sight of Daniel & Kane together again because they were extremely entertaining together the first time and until Daniel signs back it is the best way to give him consistent TV time. I'm going to keep this short because I think everyone believes there is only way this match can go and that is with Kane and Daniel winning the tag team titles.
WWE United States Championship Match:
(c) Jeff Hardy vs Shinsuke Nakamura
In my opinion this is one of those dream matches that never realized you wanted to see until your given the chance to see it. Two legends of the profession are finally able to lock horns in what could be a spectacular match and in my opinion better then any match from his never ending feud with AJ Styles. It has been a sight to see Jeff Hardy holding the US Title for the first time, but for what I've heard Jeff is nursing a back injury and could possibly take time off not saying he will but I'm sure it's possible. However, looking at Nakamura's up and down booking so far in 2018 and the constant losing since he turned heel at WrestleMania he needs the win for stability. Nakamura gets the win and the US Title to bring stability to his status as a top heel.
Steel Cage Match:
Kevin Owens vs Braun Strowman
I'd like to think that this has do with mixing things up and letting us see them in a different way as opposed to just another singles match. But I think it has more to do with the PPV and the gimmick wouldn't be there if it wasn't Extreme Rules. Either way though this has all the makings of being a filler match which is unfortunate because I don't think anyone excepts this match to go any other way then one way. That way is seeing Braun get the win, but I think since Braun doesn't have to be pinned WWE should take advantage of it. Yes! That means I think Kevin Owens should win the match.
Smackdown Live Women's Championship Match:
(c) Carmella w/ James Ellsworth vs Asuka
I see the WWE has taken a liking to using the Shark Cage gimmick after they used it first down in NXT almost two years ago. Either way though I think this feud is waring thin and that they are at risk of messing up Asuka if they keep on going this way. I think Carmella has been alright champion and that Asuka not winning at Mania was a nice surprise, but I'm not sure if not having her win again is the best idea. Which is why I think Asuka gets the win tonight and finally wins the Women's Championship.
Raw Women's Championship Match:
(c) Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax
The decision to take the title off Nia Jax was the right move to make especially with Rousey not going away from the title picture. I think having someone like Alexa as Rousey's opponent instead of Nia will help protect the still green former UFC champion. Bliss is not the best in the ring but she is better fit with Rousey then Nia and no offense to Jax but her reign wasn't that good. For that reason I think Bliss keeps the title and the build continues with her and Ronda for Summerslam.
Roman Reigns vs Bobby Lashley
Though the go home show did do a great job drumming up interest for this match the one thing that will really kill this one is the stipulation. The winner of this match will face Brock Lesnar next month at Summerslam for the Universal title. Now had WWE spent the last few months rebuilding Roman to the point where he could have at least some of his stock rebuilt then I would understand the decision but right now I really don't get it. The WWE can make attempt after attempt to get Roman over as a top guy but there is reason they changed the finish at Mania. Let me stop there cause this could be a post all on it's own and just mention that this also where I think this match should fall because the two matches left are more important and or have built better. I would like to see Lashley win this one and them take the next few months a rebuild Roman.
WWE Championship Match:
(c) AJ Styles vs Rusev
When he first debuted a few years back I never thought the guy who was brought up as an outdated foreign menace would find a way to get over as a top face in the company, no matter how they book him. Rusev is on course to give the WWE another Underrated Wrestler of the Year award winner. Though the build has been lackluster it still leaves you on a high knowing that Rusev is challenging for the WWE Title which is something we never thought would happen. Right now I will say that the WWE Title should main event only if Rusev wins the match. I don't think he will, but also I'm not formatting show I'm just predicting winners and losers. (Except for Roman's match because of Rumors and Innuendo) AJ Styles has been a good WWE Champion and well needs to step aside for a little while and let someone new take the torch and run with it. I would like to see Rusev finally get the win he rightfully deserves and become WWE Champion.
30 Minute Ironman Match for WWE Intercontinental Championship:
(c) Dolph Ziggler w/ Drew McIntyre vs Seth Rollins
Since the Superstar Shake-up the pairing of Dolph & McIntyre has intrigued me and so far I've loved what the company has done with the pair. If you base your opinion on talent by how they have been booked then you would've been shocked beyond belief when Dolph Ziggler won the IC Title a few weeks ago from Rollins. However, it was the right move and it did shock a lot of people that for once Dolph might actually have direction in WWE. There is no doubt in my mind that this or the WWE title match should have the top spot on the billing and no other match. The reasoning is because of how rare the Ironman match is in the WWE and that I think there is also no doubt that Rollins and Ziggler will have the match of the night as these two are among the best in WWE as far as in ring skills. If it was me I would bring Roman into this feud after Extreme Rules to have this feud continue with a new twist, but I don't work for the WWE. I think McIntyre will play a part in this match and could lead to Ziggler winning but you also have to think about Ironman matches aren't No DQ which means Drew can't interfere. This is by far the toughest match to predict for me, but I think that having Dolph lose bring us back to square one with them and we shouldn't do that. Though Seth was a great champion and this match will continue to build back the prestige I think Dolph keeps the belt for the time being and this way we can see where his reign goes from here.
Now some might've been surprised when Braun Strowman actually took the win in this years Money in the Bank ladder match as opposed to someone like Finn or Miz. However, I think that this is the right time for them to finally strike for the "Monster Among Men" and it's better late then never. For around a year or two Braun has been the hottest act in WWE and the one person that the company has actually done well developing. Some how they actually got him to recover from not only losing to Brock in a lackluster match last year, but also partnering up with a 10 year old at WrestleMania. Don't get me wrong some parts of Strowman's act are getting a little old. Overall though it is impossible to not like Strowman and want to see him successfully cash in Money in the Bank.
For the last couple of months the company has tried hard to get Brock back over as a heel and attempted to capitalize on the fan backlash of Lesnar not being around. As a friend of mine said the "WWE Universal Championship picture this year has been incredibly boring & lackluster." I understand that they wanted to erase CM Punk from the history books but the one thing I don't understand is that if Brock is gone after Summerslam and likely will not comeback anytime soon why let him get the record. Then again that's beside the point because right now their is only one person who should carry the Universal Title in the latter half of the year.
In my opinion the only way that they get some interest back in the title is to have Braun cash in on Brock before he leaves the company to get someone the fans actually want to see topple the "Beast" topple him. I don't hate Roman Reigns but they have done nothing since his loss at Greatest Royal Rumble to make him seem important or worthwhile for a title opportunity. Right now to quote a certain former manager Roman is "plainer then a plate of piss" and has done nothing to stick out and needs to stay away from the title picture for right now.
Looking up and down the WWE roster I think Braun is the only person that should defeat Brock for two reasons. First reason is that it would provide a full circle feel for the feud between these two men after how last year's Fatal Four Way went and similar to the Goldberg/Brock thing it would hopefully allow them to erase their poor first encounter. Secondly imagine how hot Braun would be after he defeated Brock to win the Universal title in my book he would be Cena levels of bullet proof. This way you could now have Strowman redo feuds or jump into new feuds with names that could've never fought Lesnar for one reason or another. Overall the easy answer is that Braun should cash in before Brock leaves, but I will take it a step further to say that Braun needs to cash in at Summerslam to save the event.
According various sites even though Daniel Bryan has been cleared to return to the ring that doesn't mean he has resign. Actually as of this writing he has yet to resign his contract and could still leave come September which is when his current contract expires. This could likely point to the reason why they refuse to give Daniel a higher position on the card and started him with Big Cass instead of someone already established. Even though I know a lot fans believe that Daniel should be higher up the card but one needs to think about it from the company's perspective that they shouldn't invest to heavy in someone who might leave. I for one would love to see Daniel featured as highly as he was during his first run and even be given another shot to be World Champion, but right now I don't see that happening.
After doing a little research it does still seem that Bryan's contract has not been renewed and he could leave come September 1, but could not appear on the All In event. Right now I don't think their is any reason for Daniel to leave as the company met him half way and found him a way to get back in the ring. However, it takes time to see if Daniel can handle being back in the ring over the long term. Even though most fans would appear to think that Daniel should leave due to the booking but in reality it has nothing to do with that. In my opinion the company is using Bryan to the best of their ability if he was to leave the company in the fall. Right now the position that Bryan is currently in with Kane is the best place for him especially if Kane is looking for one more run before he finally hangs it up.
Overall currently the last I heard Daniel is negotiating with the WWE for his contract and could still resign before September. I think that Daniel should find a way to stay with the company as even though it would incredible to think about the idea of Daniel being featured on a Ring of Honor or New Japan event. Though it wont happen in the next two months it is to appealing of a thought to see Joe vs Bryan, Nakamura vs Bryan or Styles vs Bryan on a show. Right now Bryan belongs in the company as even if something did go wrong the best place for him to be in would be WWE.
When his career began in the late 1970's first a referee for his father's Stampede Wrestling Promotion nobody expected him to have the career that he did. But Bret Hart would pave out a legacy for himself in the wrestling world having his part in some of the biggest moments and feuds in the history of this great sport. It all started with one match and that was in 1978 when Hart had to stand in for a wrestler who didn't show up and that was his first taste of in ring competition. From there Bret would start as a jobber for the company before working his way up using his in ring skills to get ahead. Before leaving Stampede Bret would win every title possible in the promotion more than once including the International Tag Titles five time, British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight title twice, and North American Heavyweight title on six occasions.
In 1984, Bret along with the "Anvil" would make the jump to the WWF and the rest as they would be history. At first the WWE wanted Bret as a singles wrestler and would make him a cowboy, but Bret said no. This would be a blessing as the Hart Foundation would become one of the top teams in WWF history during the golden age of tag wrestling. However, in 1991 after years of showing what he can do in the ring the company finally chose to let Bret go singles and it would be a great decision. At the time the company was having problems with Steroid allegations and the ascension of Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels began the start of the New Generation. Before long Bret would become WWF Intercontinental and would defeat Ric Flair for the World Title in September 1992.
Though it seems like Bret's ascension up the card didn't have any bumps in the road that couldn't be more wrong as it really took until late 1994 or early 1995 for Bret to really find sure footing. It was actually in 1995 when Bret would take place in the first and to this point only Ironman match in Wrestlemania history against Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title. In my opinion this cemented both men as the future of the company and stable main eventers for years to come.
Over the next few years Hart would share the ring with some of the best to ever step foot in the WWE including future hall of famers like Steve Austin, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and many more. But I think the best part of Hart's career would come in 1996 when his legendary feud with Steve Austin would begin and it would be unlike anything we have seen before. Hart would turn heel during this feud for the first time since the early days of his career following his classic with Austin at Wrestlemania 13. The latter half of Bret's WWE career is clouded by one event and that is Survivor Series 1997 and Montreal. The events of this show have been discussed so many times over the years and would be what caused Bret to not only leave WWE but not acknowledge or have anything to do with the company until 2005.
Overall I think Bret will go down as one of the best pure wrestlers the company has had but not one of the greatest ever. However, his feuds with Austin and Michaels are a different story and the part he played in the early days of the Attitude Era is still a part of wrestling lure. Bret would find his way back to the WWE in 2010 to sign a legends contract with the company and the rest as they say is history. Happy Birthday "Hitman"
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present