WWE Ride Along

wwe-ride-alongThe WWE Network has done a great job of adding original content in the past few months and one of the newest shows is called ‘Ride Along’.

Each episode features two groups of wrestlers traveling by car from one show to another one and gives the viewers the experience of seeing these performers out of character and just acting normal.

There are only a couple of episodes so far, but some of the early highlights are The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Big E) traveling together and being almost as silly out of the ring as they are in it, and Renee Young, Summer Rae and R-Truth traveling together and cracking each other up. Getting to see another side of a performer like Summer Rae, that we normally do not get to experience during typical WWE programming, is refreshing.

The WWE Network is great for die hard wrestling fans like myself to have access to 1000’s of hours of WWE, WCW, and ECW programming like weekly shows, PPV’s, etc… What keeps the network growing in subscribers is original programming with shows like this one that will convince people who have been on the fence about subscribing to give it a shot.

There are many new shows coming to the WWE Network in the next several months that I am looking forward to and I will feature them on my blog between opinions on PPV’s, Raw, Smackdown, etc…

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Night of Champions 2015

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Night of Champions was an overall solid show, but could have been a lot more eventful if not for some peculiar booking.

Below are my feelings on each match and always remember, there are spoilers:

The Cosmic Wasteland vs. Neville/The Lucha Dragons – A solid pre-show match with a lot of high spots from the team of Neville and The Lucha Dragons that got the crowd excited. I am really enjoying the combo of Stardust and The Ascension. The Ascension were a great team during their NXT days and have been wasted on the main roster. Forming The Cosmic Wasteland with Stardust has been just the push they need and is a ridiculous gimmick that simply works and is a ton of fun. The Cosmic Wasteland won which was a smart move to keep this rivalry going which should be nothing but fun to watch develop.

Kevin Owens vs. Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship – The good thing about this match is Kevin Owens won the IC Title from Ryback. I loved Ryback as champion, but Owens has been in the middle of a big push and is extremely talented and will do a lot to elevate the importance of the belt as a great heel champ. What I did not like about this match was the basic nature of it. We did not see many of Owens amazing in-ring moves and the ending almost seemed to come of nowhere. The matched seemed oddly paced. I am hoping they have at least 1 re-match and the chance to put on a much better contest since I feel both men are solid performers.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev – First things first. I love Ziggler. He is one of my favorites and his entrance is my ringtone. He always puts on a great show and this match was no different. My issue is this rivalry has gone nowhere. They are both talented performers, but the booking team seems to have no clue what to do to really make this an interesting rivalry. Lana was a major part of it and I am sure her injury threw things off a bit, but the writers should be better skilled at working around obstacles since injuries are a typical part of professional wrestling. Ziggler won and I look forward to both men being put into different angles.

The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day for the Tag Team Championship – The Dudley Boyz returning to the WWE after several years has been great for the WWE and the tag team division. They can still get a crowd going and put on terrific matches. The New Day are the hottest thing is wrestling right now. Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods are great wrestlers and amazing on the mic. They are talented athletically and funny as hell. This match should have been one of the top matches of the night. It was not. It seemed too short and oddly paced. The New Day held on to their titles which will lead to a re-match or two and hopefully, both teams will be given more time and the chance to put on more memorable contests which we know they are capable of.

Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship – In a future post I will discuss the Diva’s Revolution and the problems with it and why it may be turning around. In regards to this match, Charlotte winning the title was the smart move. Nikki put on a very traditional mat wrestling type of match which was interesting to see and came off well. My major issue is the WWE’s desire to make Charlotte look weak compared to the other women. She is very athletically gifted and an imposing person and has been involved in some of the best matches in the WWE (men included) while on the NXT roster this year. The booking team has her spend the majority of matches on the main roster selling everyone else. She should not steam roll everyone, but she should be made to look better and more imposing. She spent this match getting in way too little offense until the very end. Better booking and she could become one of the most popular wrestlers on the main roster.

The Wyatt Family vs. Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose/Chris Jericho – Terrific match and great story telling. Jericho was a huge surprise teammate of Reigns and Ambrose and got a huge pop from the crowd (and my household) when he came out. The match was solid with the Wyatt Family getting the big win. The big moment was at the end since Jericho’s surprise tag of Roman cost them the match. Reigns and Ambrose confronted Jericho in the ring after the match and he just gave them a nasty look and did the old ‘shoulder bump’ to Dean when he left the ring. The potential for an Ambrose/Jericho rivalry is very exciting and I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the United States Championship – Very good match. These two are at the top of their game and they always have a great match. Rollins and Cena are having amazing years and have both become so innovative with their in-ring performances that you never know what they are going to do next. Cena won the US Title and I cannot wait until the Cena Open Challenge starts back up.

Sting vs. Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship – With Sting having only his second match in the WWE I did not know what to expect in terms of the outcome. The majority of the match was solid until Sting got injured towards the end of the match. You could tell something was legitimately wrong with him and it was not part of the storyline when the medical team rushed in. After they cleared him to finish the match it came to a very quick and abrupt end with Rollins getting the pin. Hopefully, this will not be his last match in the WWE and he sounded in good spirits during interviews the past couple of days.

Overall, a solid show with some bizarre booking decisions and an unfortunate injury.

Looking forward to Hell in a Cell in October and what is being hyped as the final match between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker! Should be mind blowing!

Wrestlemania 29

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The 29th installment of Wrestlemania was a solid show with many highlights and was one of the very few I had not seen. It was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ and was billed as a co-location event between New York and New Jersey. It was the fifth Wrestlemania held outdoors which added a Super Bowl-type atmosphere to the proceedings. WWE has held to this new tradition of holding the biggest wrestling event of the year in big stadiums and it really adds to the atmosphere.

The highlights of the night are as follows:

Randy Orton/Big Show/Sheamus vs. The Shield – This was the first Wrestlemania for all three members of The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) and was a solid start to the show. The highlight of the match was when Rollins attempted a top rope maneuver and Randy Orton caught him with an RKO. The match ended with a spear from Reigns to Orton and the pinfall was secured by Ambrose. Great match and The Shield were very over with the crowd.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback – A little underwhelming since the match featured two big, slower guys and the crowd was not very interested in this match. It was not horrible, just kind of a throw away match. Henry secured the win after a failed Shell Shock attempt from Ryback.

Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler/Big E – A solid match that featured a very fun team in Daniel Bryan and Kane that I miss since they not only had solid matches, but their vignettes were hysterical with the two of them always being at odds. Ziggler and Big E (with AJ Lee in tow) were a very solid team as well. The match was fairly quick, but exciting with Team Hell No retaining their Tag Team Titles.

Fandango vs. Chris Jericho – This was Fandango’s debut match and the fact that it was against Jericho made it appear that Fandango was set for a big push. It was a fairly good match with Jericho having to carry the night since Fandango was more than a bit green. I could not help but feel that a debut match should not be held at the biggest event of the year. Not fair for a talent to have that kind of pressure put on them. Amazingly enough Fandango got the win, but surprisingly he was not really pushed that much after Wrestlemania. Seems a waste of such a notable victory.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger – This was was kind of an ironic match since both men are known to be very reckless in the ring and have both caused multiple real life injuries to their opponents. The match itself was fine with Alberto retaining his World Title, but I had one HUGE issue with the entire storyline, the racist aspect of it. During this time Swagger came out with Zeb Colter (formerly known as Dirty Dutch Mantel) with Zeb constantly attacking immigrants and mentioning how ‘those people’ should not be in our country. I have loved wrestling since I was a kid and even though I have seen my fair share of embarrassing moments on the screen most of it was fairly benign. This particular angle went too far in my opinion and with racism being a big issue in our country this was one area the WWE should have stayed out of. It got uncomfortable hearing the things that were spewing from Colter’s mouth and made the match less enjoyable.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk -Once again, another great match from The Undertaker with CM Punk being that year’s victim of the streak. They both worked a solid, hard fought match with plenty of moments that made you think Punk could have been the one to end the streak. After a lot of back and forth The Undertaker hit Punk with a Tombstone Piledriver for the win.

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar – This match was brutal with both men beating the hell out of each other. Triple H has always been and always will be a solid in-ring performer and he and Lesnar really worked well together with H Securing the victory via his patented Pedigree.

John Cena vs. The Rock – The big rematch from the previous year’s Wrestlemania. Both men had legitimate animosity towards each other and were able to channel that heat into an excellent match with plenty of action and false finishes. John Cena won the WWE Title with the AA and both men embraced after the end of the match showing true respect for each other.

Overall, a good show that was fun to watch for the first time even though I already knew the outcomes of some of the matches.

Next week I will be watching Wrestlemania 30 again and even though I already reviewed it last year, I am looking forward to a second viewing and seeing if my opinion has changed on any of the matches knowing some of the real life stories behind them, especially The Undertaker/Brock Lesnar match which I was not thrilled with a year ago.

Remember, you can watch all of these shows yourself and so much more by subscribing to the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month!

WWE Live Events

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending two WWE Live Events in Arizona. Live Events are non-televised shows that focus more on wrestling and eliminate all the long speeches we see during televised shows. They used to be referred to as ‘house shows’.

I had not been to a WWE show in 15 years and was thrilled to get to go to not just one but 2 back-to-back. Both shows were a ton of fun and it was great to see my daughter’s excitement watching her first WWE events in person.

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Last Friday night the show was held in Tucson at the Tucson Convention Center. I had never attended an event there before and it was a small arena where there is not a bad seat in the house and it really gave the show an old school feel which I loved.

The card was as follows:

Jack Swagger defeated Adam Rose and it was really surprising to see that both wrestlers were over with the crowd.

Bo Dallas was defeated by Erick Rowan in a short, squash match which was followed up by Dallas insisting on another match to redeem himself and was subsequently squashed by Zack Ryder. Once again, all three guys got a great reception.

Fandango & Stardust vs. R-Truth & Goldust was a fast moving match with the crowd constantly cheering and chanting ‘Cody’ to mock Stardust. R-Truth & Goldust won and ended the match with an entertaining dance-off between both guys.

Roman Reigns beat Rusev by DQ. Reigns was over with the Tucson crowd big time. Biggest pop of the night with the crowd never losing interest in this match.

Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. New Day vs. The Ascension vs. Prime Time Players in a Four Way Elimination match was another well worked match with Cesaro and Kidd winning in a bout that was fun throughout.

Nikki Bella vs. Paige was another solid match and even though the crowd loved Paige, Nikki was more over since Arizona is her home state. Nikki won in a solid match.

The main event was a street fight between John Cena and Seth Rollins. On television the crowds are always clearly divided between love and hate for Cena. Not in Tucson. Cena was very over with the crowd and only a very small smattering of people booed him. This was a great main event with Cena putting Rollins through a table and securing the win.

Orton

The next night the show was held in Phoenix at the US Airways Center and it was a pretty big crowd and our seats were amazing. It was the perfect contrast to the night before with the old school feel. Saturday’s show had a great modern, big arena feel.

The show started again with Jack Swagger beating Adam Rose and the two of them had an even better match than the night before.

R-Truth beat Fandango (w/Rosa Mendes) and just like the previous night R-Truth was very over with the crowd and after the match was done they brought some kids in attendance into the ring to chant ‘What’s Up!” with R-Truth and create a very memorable moment for them and their families.

We got the same Bo Dallas vs. Rowan bout with a second match against Ryder and it was just as fun as the night before. Well worked by all three guys.

We also got the same Four Way Elimination match with the main difference being Kofi Kingston teamed up with Xavier Woods for New Day this night with Xavier teaming up with Big E the night before. Yet another great match between four teams that worked hard to entertain the crowd and succeeded.

Ryback beat Rusev via DQ and it was a very well worked and well paced match. Rusev got great heat and Ryback got several ‘feed me more” chants throughout the match.

Goldust defeated Stardust in a great match that was a real joy to see since these two real-life brothers work incredibly well together. Goldust was very over with the crowd and Stardust got a lot of ‘Cody’ chants just like the night before.

The other repeat match was Nikki Bella beating Paige again with both ladies being very over with the crowd. This match was even better than the night before and it is nice to see the Divas being given more time to have actual wrestling matches.

The main event was John Cena and Randy Orton taking out Seth Rollins and Big Show. Rollins and Big Show got great heat and Cena and Orton were very over with the crowd. Orton got the biggest pop of the night by far and really seemed to be surprised by it and enjoyed it. Cena pinned Show after an Attitude Adjustment which seemed to shift the ring. The referee had to grab the ring ropes with Rollins and Orton getting low to the mat so as not to fall over. It was incredible to see that live.

Of course, I bought plenty of souvenirs both nights with my favorites being the John Cena autographed photo for myself and the Randy Orton autographed photo for my daughter. They have a couple of the wrestlers autograph a limited number of photos before the show and sell them at the merchandise booth for a mere $20 a pop. Awesome deal and I am quite thrilled to finally get Cena’s autograph and my daughter was quite excited to get her favorite wrestler’s signature as well.

The WWE really knows how to put on a great show for the fans and I cannot wait until they return to AZ!