Monday, March 30, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - March 30, 2015

11:08 - Overall an awesome, nearly flawless episode.  The ending was a bit weak, though.

11:05 - I can't even make out what they're saying with half of these chants.  They are NOT being kind to Reigns though.

10:56 - If I'm remembering correctly, last year's Raw after WrestleMania ended with the awesome Shield save when the Authority attacked Daniel Bryan.  It was a truly awesome moment that made the audience erupt.  I hope we see something better than Reigns or Orton pinning Rollins to become the new #1 contender tonight.  It's been an awesome show otherwise....let's end it big.

10:52 - Half of the guys in the main event of Raw after WrestleMania were left off of the WrestleMania card.

10:41 - I'd hate to say it, since I love Goldust, but without any connection whatsoever to Cody/Stardust, will WWE ever do anything with Goldust again?

10:22 - Already over Jerry Lawler being here.  He couldn't even remember how Paige debuted a year ago?

10:14 - So who steps up to be Orton's partners?  Reigns seems like an obvious choice.  Ideally, THIS would have been a great use of Ambrose.  Who else is out there?  Ryback?  Assuming they don't use anybody who has already fought tonight.

10:07 - Obviously it was important for Cena to win there to re-establish the championship.  And Ambrose did come out looking like they were in the same league.  It's just unfortunate to see him losing against pretty much everybody at his level or above him, when he needs some big wins.

10:03 - I love Ambrose....but that powerbomb spot was bad.

9:57 - I have to agree with what the others are saying....Byron Saxton needs to show a bit more emotion and passion out here.  He's being hit doubly bad right now -- he both has to sell concern for his coworkers AND he's out there by himself.  It's a difficult to win situation.  I don't love Lawler, but him being out here probably does help the situation.

9:46 - I'm a pretty notorious Cena defender but how can you not appreciate the fact that, for the past few years, he's taken a significantly reduced role at WrestleMania so that somebody else could have a moment?  Not to mention that he went a long way in getting over Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.  Not to mention the fact that, while still being one of the most over and successful guys on the roster, he allows himself to be "lowered" to the United States Championship.  And he did so proudly.  You don't see that very often and hopefully it removes the stigma of guys getting a secondary title after a World title.  Plus, I kinda like that new shirt.

9:37 - It's rather brilliant having all of these NXT debuts at the smark heavy Raw after WrestleMania.  The secret, of course, is to continue the momentum.

9:22 - The Rhodes Scholars Explode!  In all seriousness, I do hope that Mizdow reverts back to his Sandow persona.  Not the intellectually superior part, but rather his own identity.  Actually, come to think of it, this match is two guys who are both aping their former partners.

9:12 - Similar to when the Nexus tore apart the ring and ringside area, Brock's attack on the ring announcers and cameraman will, at the very least, give the show a new feel.  Visually....audibly....we'll see and hear something different.  And that's important.

9:08 - Wait....strangely, WWE's Instagram page has a photo of the Rollins sideplates.  Hmmmm.

And yes, Lesnar killing people was loads of fun.

9:04 - Hmmmmm, looks like Rollins has the generic "WWE" sideplates.  Does that not bode well for a long reign?  I certainly hope they didn't give up on that feature of the title yet -- it's the best part!

9:02 - I want to see what the Rollins sideplates look like.

9:00 - Shocked that they're using the Brock appearance this early in the show.  Thinking that there has to be some sort of twist coming.  Reigns heel turn?  Heyman turning on Brock?  A surprise return of some sort?

8:54 - What's with all the hate towards New Day?  I understand it's a weak gimmick and there isn't much reason to care about them, and that they're not quite the darlings that Lucha Dragons and Cesaro/Kidd are, but I figured there was still a soft spot for Kofi at least.

Awesome performance for Kalisto and Sin Cara.  Good for them!!

8:47 - Loving the Lucha Dragons.  I don't watch NXT as often as I should, but I've always had a soft spot for the Sin Cara character.  I'm glad that they found something for him and I would be thrilled if they became a regular fixture on Raw.

8:45 - I noticed it last night at WrestleMania, but it appears that the LED ring apron is now a permanent fixture on Raw too.

8:31 - Really fun match and quite possibly the best running knee we've seen yet.  By the way, I love that Bryan has shown some edge since his return.  He's not your traditional, happy, loving life babyface.  Well, he is.  But he also shows some legitimate tension with Roman Reigns and Dolph Ziggler.  Good stuff.

Also, loved the Sheamus heel turn and new look.  Both things were desperately needed.

8:27 - Yeah, let's do that move we banned on a body part that will impact the rest of the match......during the commercial break.

8:13 - Personally, I love the idea of using one of Brock Lesnar's wrestling dates on a Raw match.  Yes, gaining Network subscribers is the new PPV buyrate, but right now extra eyes on Raw COULD mean increased Network subscribers.  People, I do believe, want to see something new and different.  Brock has been most interesting when he's not surrounded by Triple H and John Cena, who Brock fought pretty much exclusively for the first year or two of his deal.  I'm about 50% sure that we won't actually see Brock fight tonight....but teasing it is something different.

And yes, this does seem like the beginning of a face turn for him.

7:54 - Well, an extremely strong WrestleMania has come and gone and the comment I keep hearing (from both fans and those within in the industry) is that viewers need to be more patient, since they complained about the build to WrestleMania but it ended up delivering -- big.  But do the ends justify the means here?  I mean, if the show is built on weak stories and characters that we're not invested in, don't fans have the right to be skeptical about devoting 4+ hours to see if the matches and results deliver?  Frankly, the build WAS terrible.  It's one thing if you're not into Roman Reigns the character, but WWE gave us no reason to get behind him.  Where was the dominant monster from the Shield?  He was struggling to beat Kane and losing to Big Show and Seth Rollins.  All while spewing ridiculous lines that even supporters couldn't get behind.  And other big matches -- like the Intercontinental Championship -- was built on an extremely flimsy story that really didn't make anybody look good.  And your main event stories like Wyatt/Undertaker and Sting/Triple H really had no story at all.  It was just -- "this is what we're offering!  Be excited!  CARE!!"  And in both of those cases, one man was building the entire story.

I'm glad WrestleMania delivered and I really enjoyed the show.  But I think fans deserve better than, "See, you just needed to wait and see where we were going."

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

LIVE WrestleMania 31 thoughts - March 29, 2015

11:03 - Incredibly intriguing WrestleMania with Seth Rollins walking away with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  The manner of getting there -- with Rollins interrupting an existing match -- was a bit questionable, though.  In all the years Money in the Bank has existed, that's never been a clause that was seemingly allowed.  Plus, it was done in a way that sacrificed the "new" star in Roman Reigns, while protecting Lesnar (which, given his extended deal, is fine).

What an awesome and well deserved moment for Rollins, though.  He's been one of the best built stars of the year.  In fact, who would have guessed that Rollins would be the first member of the Shield to get the World Championship?  We all thought he was going to be the one lost in the shuffle!

Intriguingly, the build to this year's WrestleMania has been one of the worst ever.  Yet the booking and performances, top to bottom, was practically flawless.  It's so unfortunate that this company can't get their act together and really put out a consistently great product.  All the pieces are there.

10:46 - As you can see in my predictions, I don't see any way that Reigns leaves the stadium as WWE Champion.  But surely the guy is dead in the water if he just gets squashed by Brock.  Even a flukey victory would do him no favors.  Based on the timing, this won't be a 30 minute classic.  It's looking to be 15 minutes or so.

10:40 - I was mostly wrong in regards to my first prediction.  Newish gear (with his logo) but more or less the same.  By the way, it's always difficult to judge in arenas, but he got pretty much no reaction during his entrance.  And right now they're jeering him pretty significantly.

10:33 - Several bold predictions here:  1) Roman Reigns completely changes his gear tonight, possibly even traditional tights.  2)  Reigns wins.  3)  Rollins cashes in and wins.  4)  If Lesnar wins, Reigns turns heel.  Regardless, Rollins cashes in and wins.

10:29 - Just walked in to see Undertaker win.  How was the match?

10:16 - I didn't catch Undertaker's entrance so I'm forced to assume he's back to his American Badass gimmick.

10:05 - Looks like Bray Wyatt is going to be able to wrestle.  This entrance is also strangely similar to the Walking Dead episode I'm watching.

9:46 - Looks like the Rock never got that memo about WWE's partnership with Tapout.

9:36 - Commercial break so I stepped in to see what's happening.  On a VERY long "Loading, please wait" screen.  Disappointing.

8:58 - It is odd seeing Macho Man finally in the Hall of Fame but him not being the highlighted person inducted.

8:52 - They were a little light on each of their accomplishments there.  How about the fact that Reigns is undefeated at WrestleMania?  Or his tag team title reign?  Or Lesnar's King of the Ring win?

8:51 - Alright friends, at 9:00 I'm going into the other room for the next hour and a half to watch the season finale of The Walking Dead.  I'll drop in during commercial breaks and will offer any quick commentary.  Enjoy!

8:49 - Oh yay.  So happy to be wrong.  Sorta odd booking, though.

8:40 - So Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL have been sitting at ringside for nearly 3 hours now and none of them have taken a sip of their Mountain Dew.  Must be delicious!

I'm oddly excited that I get to see AJ Lee before I leave to watch The Walking Dead.  And I can't help but appreciate Paige too.  I think AJ and Paige SHOULD win....but with the faces winning the big matches (most of them), I guess I gotta go with the Bellas, unfortunately.

8:37 - I hate these stupid concerts they do at WrestleMania.

8:32 - Fun backstage segment with Daniel Bryan and former Intercontinental Champions.  Nice to give him a moment and make the title win seem like a big deal.

8:25 - I enjoyed that match soooooooo much more than I thought I would.  Was I anticipating it?  No.  Was it a good match?  Not really.  But I loved the allusions to the WWE vs. WCW war.  And seeing the nWo come out and defend Sting was such a fun visual.  And it was great seeing Nash and Hall without it being about the Kliq. A lot of fun.

8:19 - Okay, I marked out when DX came out.  I marked out HUGE when the nWo came out.  LOVED the nWo/DX confrontation.

8:13 - Did Triple H order the wrong sized logo for the back of his trunks?

8:05 - My gut tells me Sting wins this, but with two strong babyface wins I'm not so sure.  Sting SHOULD win....but I'm going to go with Triple H here.

8:03 - So, um....that happened.

7:59 - I'm confused.....WWE knows that Sting isn't Japanese, right?  I like the visual of all of the musicians wearing the Sting facepaint (kinda like the WWE 2K commercial), but nothing about Sting's character or appearance has anything to do with Japanese culture.  I do like that he's wearing a flashy jacket, and there is a little red in his facepaint....but it's still a little too Crow-ish.

7:53 - I'm shocked Triple H and Sting are on this early in the show.  Not because of their status, but because I figured both guys would need the dark to make an effective entrance.  Sidenote:  I REALLY hope we see a jazzed up Sting appearance.  If he's just in the traditional Crow facepaint and attire, I'll be disappointed.

7:49 - Really no issue with Randy winning here as he's the good guy and the booking was heading into that direction anyway.  That was an AWESOME ending sequence, though.  Loved Rollins missing the flippity flop but still landing on his face, then hitting the first part of the Curb Stomp but then getting caught in a great looking RKO.  I suspect Rollins will have his big moment later tonight.  Great match.

7:34 - Almost a retro look for Orton, with the red trunks and elbow pads.

7:32 - I've been saying for the past year that I thought that Rollins would debut a new version of his gear (I thought a gray one) but we finally have one.  Now he's sporting a gold trim, really looking very X-Men movie right now.  I predict Orton wins this one.

7:26 - If this means big things for Bryan, good for him.  Let's hope for a nice, long reign here.  A really fun, action packed match.  I really, REALLY hope that nobody suffered any significant injuries.  Those Stardust and Dean Ambrose bumps looked really brutal -- I hope everybody is okay.

By the way, does the lack of Sheamus in the ladder match and battle royal add some credibility to the rumor that Wyatt won't be able to wrestle tonight and that Sheamus will replace him against the Undertaker?  What a letdown that would be.

7:19 - Just saw that Barrett has "One True Champion" with an image of the Intercontinental Championship on the back of his trunks.  Love it!

7:10 - I forgot to make this an official prediction, but I did predict privately that either Dean Ambrose or Luke Harper would NOT be wearing blue jeans.  Looks like that's the case with Harper.  I also love his jacket with everybody else's names crossed out.

Stardust has some fun new gear too, but it's a little too similar to the designs he's worn before.  Why not go in a way different direction?

7:06 - Really fun opening video.  I was skeptical at first -- it seemed a little too cross-promotional (Terminator entrance, anybody?) but it really came together nicely and established WrestleMania as a huge spectacle.

By the way, I was wrong about Daniel Bryan.  No cool ring jacket.  But he is at least wearing normal boots.

I'm guessing Bryan wins this.  If not Bryan, I see Ambrose taking it.

7:01 - Random prediction:  Daniel Bryan brings back his kick ass jacket/robe for his WrestleMania entrance.  Enough with the damn t-shirts.  And it wouldn't kill you to get rid of the furry boots either.

I can't get a real sense of the WrestleMania set, either.  I know they said it wouldn't have a location like the past few years, but i'm not getting a sense of what the theme is at all yet.

6:59 - That was a really awesome look at the Intercontinental title ladder match.  They did a really nice job of going over the history of the title, the history of the title at WrestleMania, and the history of ladder matches at WrestleMania.  I kinda wish the match didn't kick off the show, but I'm excited.

6:53 - Okay, now I think WWE is deliberately going overboard with their references to how thrilled they are that fans are dressing up as their favorite Superstars.  I'm sensing it's damage control over all those reports about asking fans to change out of their costumes.

6:47 - Eck, didn't love that ending.  I think they did an effective job of giving Mizdow some momentum and strength, but was it worth it?  I mean, you had Big Show eliminate Cesaro, Ryback, all of the New Day, and Mizdow.  Was it worthwhile to sacrifice so many people to make Big Show look strong?  They could've made an even bigger moment for Mizdow.

Having said that, I did like the various throwbacks to Big Show/Cesaro.  And the overall story of Big Show never actually winning a battle royal was good.  But, again, Big Show is a heel.  Why is he getting a triumphant moment?

6:33 - I love the fact that Miz is wearing a blinged out, more impressive version of the gear that Mizdow is wearing.

6:30 - New blue gear for Miz and Mizdow.  By the way, my prediction is that Miz wins, and then after the match Mizdow finally turns on him.  Also, half the guys in this match are from the tag team title match.

6:25 - For those you keeping score, WWE is allowing people to wear costumes and outfits for WrestleMania.  Hooray for letting your fans get into the spectacle.

6:17 - Prediction #1 is correct!  Fun match, the only thing that "hurt" it was the fact that the announcers didn't even try to make sense of who was the legal man.  The referee actually seemed to keep track of who was legal but the announcers just went on and on about how they didn't know.  Why not try to make sense of it to help the audience follow along too?  But a good match, overall.

6:05 - Okay, our matches on the kickoff show have been begun and I am excited to say that 100% of the competitors have some new gear on!  As you probably gathered, I'm a sucker for Superstars debuting new gear at PPV's, but it's ESPECIALLY important to do it at WrestleMania.

Anyway, follow my LIVE thoughts throughout the night.  However, I'm taking an hour and a half break for The Walking Dead season finale.  Shows what sort of excitement there is for WrestleMania, huh?

I'm guessing Cesaro and Kidd retain here.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - March 23, 2015

11:00 - Alright, I'm watching this final segment from bed.  Check Twitter to follow my thoughts on the rest of the show.

10:55 - That post-match segment actually made me lose interest in the Intercontinental title Ladder Match.

10:51 - You know, I always love when Ziggler is made to look good....but I hate when it's at the expense of Daniel Bryan.  Especially leading into WrestleMania.  But thank goodness we got to see Ambrose some show edge.

10:43 - Ambrose's reaction to Ziggler and Bryan brawling was great.  But can we move past this whole "turd" thing?  It's humiliating.

10:39 - So according to WWE fans, we REALLY want to see Ziggler vs. Bryan and we REALLY like Dean Ambrose.  So let's throw them all in a story-less 20 person match.

10:30 - Phew, I thought they were going to focus exclusively on Nash's WWE tenure like they did with Hall.  Glad they're focusing on his entire career.  Truth be told, Nash's significance to the wrestling world will probably be more tied to his time in WCW than his time in WWE.

10:23 - I mean, the passion and commitment to character is certainly there with Bray Wyatt.  I just can't get into his character.  His promos are far too repetitive and the culmination of his feuds ultimately have little to nothing to do with his character.  Plus, the fact that the Undertaker isn't here to respond to these threats really does make it lose its luster.

10:05 - Ironically, it was a losing feud with Rusev that got Swagger over -- fairly significantly -- as a babyface.  If they had given Swagger something to do afterwards, he might have actually become a solid upper midcard attraction.  But instead he did nothing, and really only continued to exist to repeatedly put over Rusev.  And now he's really in no better position than he was before the Rusev feud.  He's only a good guy now.

10:03 - I wish WWE wasn't so coy about the length of time WrestleMania would last or how much it would cost to watch it on the Network.

9:50 - By the way, disappointing that a year after his big Andre the Giant Battle Royal victory (and being super hot going into that), Cesaro is on the WrestleMania pre-show this year.  What a wasted opportunity.

9:49 - Really?  Again?

9:38 - Typical modern-day WWE:  Curtis Axel is getting great babyface reactions through this goofy Axelmania thing, and what does WWE do?  Goes out of their way to put him in a heelish situation.

9:22 - This whole "strong" Nikki Bella thing confuses me.  She's obviously fit and on the stronger side of the Diva spectrum, but the announcers never really focus on her strength advantages.  And she does these little things like the push ups and the Rack Attack and that thing where she lifts up her opponents and chokes them, but she isn't a power worker like, say, Beth Phoenix or Chyna or Victoria were.  It's like a very half assed attempt to make her the power Diva.

9:09 - Thank goodness!  We're finally going to see Rusev vs. Swagger!!

9:06 - I think it was a mistake not having Rollins get the upper hand here.  Have we seen Rollins get the upper hand on Orton since the beat down on Raw a few weeks ago?  If not, we already saw the payoff.

9:03 - It's strange, I never remembered Mercury being that short when he was in MNM.

8:56 - Remember how I said I kinda sorta care about the Rollins/Orton match?  Well, stop giving it to me every single week leading up to the show.  Again -- I'm sure that we won't actually get a match between Orton and Rollins tonight, but show some restraint.  The story is there.  We already want to see Orton get his hands on Rollins.  Just ride that hype for another week into Mania.  No need to give us the match now.

8:53 - I literally had no idea that Erick Rowan was even in that match.

And why in the blue hell did we devote THAT much time to discussing Bill Simmons for THAT?

8:39 - And I will also remark, this isn't an anti-Roman commentary.  The fans CAN care about the guy.  They cared about him when he was in the Shield.  He DOES seem destined for great things.  But why not take the slower, more natural route?  Look at some of the greatest legends in WWE -- Steve Austin, The Rock, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Edge, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan.  Let's even count guys like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Jeff Hardy, or, hell, even the Miz (who just appeared on television).  What do they all have in common?  They all took similar paths climbing UP the ladder to the top.  Many of them began in tag teams and won the tag team title.  Then they moved onto the Intercontinental/United States Championship.  They had a few reigns there and then moved onto the WWE Championship.  Why not do that with Roman?  Why not take advantage of the monster Rusev push by culminating it at WrestleMania with Roman?  Have him be the first person to pin him and win the United States Championship.  Roman is young -- let him climb to the top instead of throwing him there.  For every Steve Austin or John Cena, there's a Sheamus or Jack Swagger -- somebody who was given a World Championship before any significant time in the midcard or with a secondary title.  And they suffered because of it.  The only guys that really seemed to successfully jump into the main event World title scene in the modern era are Batista and, to a lesser extent, CM Punk.

8:38 - The amount of effort WWE has put into making us care about Roman Reigns when they had a perfectly viable option RIGHT THERE shows just how little this company cares about giving the fans what they want.

8:29 - Between Ambrose, Harper, and WWE.....I'm kinda shocked nobody has objected to the fact that Ambrose and Harper are essentially wearing the same exact thing.  Yes, there are differences, and the two guys don't look alike physically, but it's really, really close.  Why not have Ambrose wear a black tank top?  Or black jeans?  Why not do something to stand out?

Oh, good, Dean Ambrose is dancing and being a nice guy.  Everybody loves a nice guy who dances.

8:15 - Also, why not give us some fun pairings with these IC title match competitors?  There are, like, seven guys in the match and it seems like we see the same match over and over again.  Various pairings of Ambrose/Ziggler/Truth/Bryan vs. various pairings of Harper/Barrett/Stardust.  We've established that the faces aren't friends, nor are the heels.  We've seen the faces against each other.  Why not give us Ambrose and Stardust (a fun team, considering their manic characters) vs. Bryan and Barrett?  Or Bryan and Harper?  It would be fun to see them discuss his past with both guys through NXT/Nexus and the Wyatt Family.

8:13 - Okay, Sting explained that he's not here to defend WCW (even though 90% of the promo and Steph's response was about WCW), but rather that he's here to take Triple H down.  But did he explain why?  Or why now?

8:11 - Haven't they had this bat/sledgehammer showdown, like, 3 times already?

8:09 - How does Stephanie go on a two minute rant comparing Sting to a dog without mentioning that it's National Puppy Day?

8:04 - Who thought you would ever say "Sting On Raw"?  How about one of the two other times he appeared on the show?

8:03 - Annnnnnnnnnnd the cameras miss Sting's "Woooo!"  Great job.

7:22 - So, WrestleMania is 6 days away and I honestly cannot think of the last time I have been less enthusiastic about it.  There's literally one match that has has competitors that I care about succeeding, and it's a multi-person match where all but one -- and potentially all of them -- will end up a loser.  And it's for a title that hasn't exactly been put on a pedestal over the past few years.  Brock vs. Reigns?  Couldn't care less.  Wyatt vs. Undertaker?  Couldn't care less.  Cena vs. Rusev?  Couldn't care less (although I am intrigued by the possibility of the face of the company holding a secondary title).  Sting vs. Triple H?  Couldn't care less times a million.  I like the fact that Seth Rollins is going to be highlighted, but that also makes me sad that he and Reigns are in high profile matches, while Ambrose is stuck in the Intercontinental title purgatory match.  And remember how Edge cashing in Money in the Bank was a huge event that "made" the stipulation?  Well, what happened to Cesaro this past year had the opposite effect on the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.  So I couldn't care less who wins that match, because I have no reason to believe it'll mean anything.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - March 16, 2015

10:18 - I find R-Truth's inclusion in this whole thing really unusual.  He hasn't been in a storyline or consistently won matches in ages, and he's not even formally involved in all of the multi-person matches that are leading up to the title match.

And why is Stardust wearing black/red/gold attire with silver/black/red facepaint?

9:58 - OH!  And not to mention that they paid off Axel being eliminated!  How did they waste that moment in this forgettable segment?

9:54 - Not for nothing, but didn't they just give away practically half of the competitors in the WrestleMania Battle Royal?  Wouldn't this have been just as effective if the had Kane come out and cut a promo about how he's going to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and then have Henry interrupt, enter the contest himself, and then walk into the ring and throw Kane out of it?  Why throw 15 of the competitors in and make all of them, but two, look like complete chumps?

9:44 - Has there EVER been a confrontation between Erick Rowan and Big Show that worked out well for Rowan?

9:39 - Fun and effective interview.  Not sure I would call it controversial, though.

9:25 - Does the black lining around the eye holes of Los Matadores' masks indicate that they're evil now?

9:14 - Again, they've done a good job of getting the fans solidly with Cena and against Rusev.  Bravo.

9:05 - Gotta give it to Cena, he got the entire audience behind him there.

8:49 - Miz and Mizdow is one of the few stories that the fans actually react to.  One that arguably saved both men's careers.  And the payoff isn't even happening at WrestleMania.  I'm sure something will finally happen, but it should payoff there, not start there.  Imagine if Virgil/DiBiase was paid off in a 30 man battle royal.

8:41 - I don't get it.  Are we supposed to care about this Big Show/Kane miff?  Are we supposed to be rooting for either of them here?

8:39 - "Six hours of WrestleMania" sounds like a threat.

8:33 - I admire the fact that they gave this match so much time but it also did a lot to expose the weaknesses of Nikki as a performer.  Also, with all the discussion on the fact that AJ and Paige had recently feuded, why wasn't more attention given to the fact that Nikki and Brie were at each other's throats not too long ago?

8:16 - There were more things in that promo that I liked than that I didn't like.  Really, my only major complaint is that they're giving away Orton vs. Rollins tonight when people actually DO care about that match.  Now, I recognize that it's likely a bait and switch -- which I actually hope it is -- but even so, why even tease it?  Why not just continue to build the tension?  Put Randy in a different "trap" (like J & J Security tonight, and Big Show and Kane next week).  What I liked, though, is that Rollins actually accepted the challenge.  It feels like all of our major storylines had weeks of build not for the match, but for whether one of the contestants would even accept the challenge for the match.  It's bad when they do more to build up the acceptance than the match itself.  I also thought Rollins did an awesome job in his promo.  The guy has come a HUGE way this past year.  He truly does carry himself like a star.

Oh, and I love that AJ is back.

7:56 - So here we are.  How many days until WrestleMania?  I honestly don't know.  The only frame of reference I have is knowing how many episodes of The Walking Dead are left.  I'm not breaking any new ground here, but has there EVER been a more uninspired WrestleMania?  I honestly don't have an emotional investment in a single match.  Pretty much every single guy I care about is in the Intercontinental Championship....which means all but all -- and potentially all -- will lose.  And what makes matters worse is that there isn't even an actual story there.  Like, storyline was, is there a difference between Bryan winning and Ziggler winning?  I can love both Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, but the result of that match dramatically impacts both characters and the direction of the company.  Here, it's just a guy I like losing a match at WrestleMania.  And that's kinda sad.  The rest of the matches, I really honestly don't even care about.

I really have no problem missing an hour and a half of WrestleMania so that I can watch the Walking Dead finale.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - March 2, 2015

11:05 - Wait, really?  You're really going to make Rollins lose now?  But that plancha was prettttttty awesome.

10:55 - Alright, I'm kinda getting a kick out of this Orton routine.  If ONLY they hadn't already turned on Orton, I would consider it completely acceptable.  But other than that, I'm finding humor in Orton coming out to distract Rollins right before he's about to gain an advantage or do something diabolical.  And Orton is fully aware of what he's doing.  The fans are fully aware of what he's doing.  Even Kane, Big Show, and J&J Security are aware of what he's doing.  Yet he sometimes manages to make it work.

10:45 - So Paul Heyman gives a 10 minute promo about how everybody believes that Roman Reigns beating Brock Lesnar is a foregone conclusion, but they're wrong.  The second it ends and Reigns comes out, Michael Cole asks "Do you think Roman Reigns is tired of everybody saying he can't beat Brock Lesnar?"  Geez, get it together.

10:30 - Another pet peeve:  WWE either announcing their inductions before Raw or outright spoiling them.  They've done this with every single inductee this year.

10:19 - "Daniel, I know you spent almost a year out of action due to neck and other severe injuries, but we'd like you to wrestle in a ladder match at WrestleMania."  "Really?  Hmmmm.  Is it for the World title?"  "Well, no."  "Oh.  Maybe a number one contender's shot, where the winner faces the champion at Extreme Rules?"  "Unfortunately not."  "Are you guys doing another Money in the Bank match?"  "No."  "Then what am I fighting for?"  "Get this....you'll be risking it all -- haha, literally! -- for the INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP!"

10:10 - I will say this.  Jon Stewart cuts an awesome promo.  And he knows his wrestling history.

9:53 - Thrilled to see AJ Lee back and it would've been an awesome surprise if it wasn't spoiled for me by a website that did not offer a spoiler warning.  Actually, that's another rant.  There will be one link that says "SPOILER:  Superstar returning tonight."  And then higher up on the page there will be another story with no spoiler warning that will say "as noted earlier, AJ Lee is backstage at Raw and expected to return tonight."

But yes, I approve of AJ and Paige vs. the Bellas at WrestleMania.  They're pretty much the only four Divas who have received a push this year, so they might as well be the ones that get the WrestleMania treatment.

9:42 - Every voice in that Flintstones cartoon sounds strange.

9:27 - In all of the dream matches that came up, did anyone ever say "Sting vs. Triple H"?  This isn't a shot at Triple H, but I just don't think their careers ever intersected in a way that people said they wanted to see that match.  Their characters were never similar and they don't really have similar styles.  It's just not something that, I think, people ever wanted to see.  The inherent interest isn't there.

9:13 - I gotta admit, I did laugh when Axel noted that he's been in the Royal Rumble for 35 days.

9:07 - I understand she's a heel and that she's not SUPPOSED to be right, but this promo would make a lot more sense if Cena said anything that might even remotely be considered derogatory against Andre the Giant or the Battle Royal.  He seemed quite honored.

9:02 - Criticize Cena all you want, but this is the type of promo Reigns should have been delivering.

8:53 - Having said that, how awesome is it that Tyson Kidd might be in a featured match at WrestleMania?  Well deserved.

8:48 - The Usos vs. Cesaro/Kidd always deliver awesome matches and there's an actual story there.  But we've seen them fight every single week for the past couple of months.  Again, what's the thrill in seeing them fight at WrestleMania?

8:35 - Similar to my complaint about Ziggler and Ryback feuding with the Authority but not having that pay off at WrestleMania, the same is true with this Miz/Mizdow thing.  This is a feud that actually has people invested.  They love the Mizdow act and they can't wait for him to turn on him.  Yet, at the moment, Miz is scheduled to be in the Battle Royal.  Can you imagine if Virgil/Ted Dibiase was paid off in a 30 man battle royal?

8:30 - What's the end game with this Intercontinental Title story?  If Barrett ultimately wins, EVERYBODY looks like a loser.  If anybody else wins, then what's the appeal?  I mean, let's say Ambrose wins.  He's already beaten Barrett before, so the victory doesn't mean much.  He's already physically appeared with the title, so seeing him holding the title doesn't give us much pleasure either.

8:02 - This whole Seth Rollins/Jon Stewart thing is great, but it accentuates what is wrong with WrestleMania right now.  They have a pre-written story with Randy Orton and Rollins and people ARE invested in it....but instead of just going with that, what are they doing?  They're having them team again (which can really only potentially make people less invested in Orton as a face) so that Orton can turn on him and, as a result, the match just seems more rushed.  And instead of moving forward with that Orton/Rollins match, they're having Rollins spend time on Jon Stewart -- which I can't imagine will play into a WrestleMania match.

And that's not all.  For the past six months, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan have been feuding with the Authority.  Will this pay off with these three banding together to face the Authority at the biggest show of the year?  Perhaps Kane and Big Show take out Rowan (the weakest of the three) and Ziggler and Ryback team up to defeat them at WrestleMania, finally getting their revenge for getting fired?  Nope.  Instead, we have Ryback in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, you have Ziggler likely battling for the Intercontinental title (a title he's held, like, three times in the past year) and Rowan not doing anything.

And then you have Daniel Bryan, who has been feuding with the Authority in some capacity for well over a year.  And will he be doing anything involving the Authority?  Nope.  He's set up to participate in the Intercontinental title match as well.....a title he has had nothing to do with in years against competitors he hasn't had anything to do with since his return.

Where's the logical build for anything?

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

LIVE Once Upon A Time thoughts - March 1, 2015

8:57 - Ohhhhh, I like that little twist that revealed that Rumple was the one behind the release of the monster and was actually behind the e-mail exchanges (and a nice throwback to Rumple getting an e-mail at the beginning of the episode.  Well done.

8:49 - Intriguing development -- given somewhat away by recent commercials -- that Emma is the one with the potential with the darkest heart.

8:41 - That was an awfully convenient bargaining chip.  What would the plan have been if that monster wasn't there?  And Rumple and crew would have no way of knowing that the monster was there.

8:20 - I always find the selective use of magic on the show interesting, too.  Like, Regina will need to get someplace right away and you'll see her running off.  Other times, she has no issue whatsoever just teleporting.  So right now, seeing Regina and Emma searching the office for a bottle opener had me shaking my head a bit.  We just saw Regina shooting fire from her hands 10 minutes ago!

8:10 - I am interested in seeing how they incorporate Cruella, who was an ordinary (but evil) person in the Disney Universe, in the Enchanted Forest.  We see that she had some sort of control over animals (or possibly just dogs), but I'm interested in seeing how other elements of her character fit into the world Once Upon A Time has created.  Her 1920's attire does seem somewhat out of place in the Enchanted Forest, but let's see.

8:05 - I don't know, I find it a bit of a stretch that Hook cares THAT much about the fairies being trapped in that hat.  Showing a soft side because he loves Emma is one thing....being that selfless seems slightly out of character.

7:43 - It's been a while since I've written anything about Once Upon A Time, so I thought I would provide my LIVE thoughts on it's mid-season premiere.  Before the show begins, I thought I'd talk a bit about my thoughts on the status of the show as a whole.

As you may remember, this was one of my favorite new shows of the season when it first premiered.  I found it incredibly clever and I truly enjoyed their unique spin on various famous fairy tales.  And I loved the way they tied in different stories.  I thought they broke the curse way too early, but I do think that they recovered with a strong second season.  Since then, the series has relied on half season story arcs, which I think have -- for the most part -- worked nicely.  I thought Peter Pan was interesting (although it had its share of flaws, such as not properly explaining why Rumple and the Evil Queen were limited in their powers in Neverland.  And focusing exclusively on the main characters, without much development or movement, resulted in some dragging) and the Wicked Witch was fun as well.  I thought they did a fantastic job with the Frozen characters, which is good because it came across as very commercial.

Really, my one criticism of the series is my favorite character:  I'm REALLY disappointed with what they've done with Rumple's character.  He's fallen into HRG (from Heroes) territory, where the character became so popular because he danced between hero and villain.  However, the writers relied too much on that complexity that they didn't allow the character to properly develop.  On Heroes, HRG would ultimately do the right thing (after doing many, many wrong things) and would seemingly see the light.  Then come the next season, he'd be back to his wicked ways because that's what the writers thought made the character fun.  But ultimately, the character became difficult to rally behind.  The same thing is happening with Rumple.  They did an awesome job with his redemption story at the conclusion of the Peter Pan arc.  His role as the reluctant pet who was forced to do bad things even though he didn't want to during the Wicked Witch story worked as well.  I could even forgive his revenge killing of the Wicked Witch, because he did it for his son.  But within the very same episode of promising his dead son that he would be good, he was back to lying and scheming.  Every other villain is seemingly allowed to develop into a more complex, happy character (Regina and Hook immediately come to mind) but they seemingly refuse to give that honor to the best character of them all.  And it's very frustrating.

Not to mention that I read in various interviews and saw in several specials how Rumple did all the bad things during the Frozen arc because he didn't want to be taken advantage of again, like he was with the Wicked Witch.  They tried to portray him as somewhat sympathetic.  But throughout the half season, the show itself did nothing to explain that (they SORTA did at the end, in his discussion with Regina and later Belle).  Instead, he just came across as somebody who chose power over love, again.

I'm hoping they will give Rumple redemption the remainder of this season.  And I hope it lasts.  I recognize the difficulty in making Rumple a good guy -- he's so powerful, no villain could measure up to him and be a legitimate threat.  But that should be no excuse for holding a character back.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

So, uh, this is kinda awesome....

So I had read about this Power/Rangers fan video but hadn't had a chance to watch it yet.  Well, I watched it today....and it was kinda awesome.

First and foremost, there's the quality.  I mean, it looks like more money went into this 15 minute video than the entire Power Rangers series.  The costumes were pretty cool too, with some technology built into the helmets and some armor built into the tights.  And then on top of that, they actually got name actors and actresses, and the story was pretty damn intriguing too.

Basically, they make you think of the consequences of things that were dealt with in a rather lighthearted way on the series.  What are the consequences of being social outcasts?  What do bullies grow up to be after high school?  And what are the psychological and physical repercussions of giving teenagers the responsibility of protecting the world in an interstellar war?  Some people become "ghosts."  Others become thrill seekers.  Others do whatever they can to survive, even if that means turning against the people they fought alongside.

But above all else, you just had to enjoy the overarching commentary about how we feel the need to make stories grittier and darker each time we reboot them.  I mean, sure, it makes sense for Batman....but we've gotten to the point that even Superman -- the beacon of hope and the greater good -- is a mopey brooder who has to allow his father to die so that he could hide his powers and was forced to kill a man with his bare hands in the climax.  Even something as colorful and playful as the Power Rangers could be reimagined as something deeply disturbing.

Haven't seen it yet?  Check it out:

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

LIVE Fast Lane thoughts - February 22, 2015

10:54 - Well, most of me is happy that they went with a single decisive winner.  I was honestly a bit surprised they went with Reigns -- based on all of the booking leading up to this match, and even the match itself, it seemed like Bryan was the one being poised to a title match.  And the general booking of Reigns has been curious (struggling to beat guys like Big Show and Kane, or even straight up losing to them).  So.....what happens to Bryan now?

10:32 - Daniel Bryan is wearing some new gear but for some reason has chosen to continue with those furry boots.  Sadly.

10:31 - The order of entry is always significant.  Reigns is coming out first.  Typically the more popular/bigger star comes out second.  He's also wearing the Shield version of this gear.

10:23 - The right winner but as others have noted, we will now (in all likelihood) have at least four matches at WrestleMania that will be a rematch from tonight (Rusev/Cena, Ambrose/Barrett, Stardust/Goldust, and Usos/Cesaro and Kidd).  That's a little lame.

10:18 - Just had a brief brown out but I'm back in action.

10:04 - I like the in-ring introductions for the United States title.  Did they do that for the Intercontinental Title match too?  It adds a lot of prestige.

10:01 - Back!  The Walking Dead was great, of course.  Did the Undertaker return?

9:38 - I'd really like to see Dean Ambrose win the title here.  I know logic dictates that Ambrose gets screwed out of the title for him to get the big win at WrestleMania, but the guy desperately needs a big PPV win.

9:29 - At what point did the Paige face turn become an actual real thing?  I would've sworn it was set up to be a feud with Nattie.

9:16 - As many others have already noted, Sting's hairstyle is doing him no favors.  There's a lot he could do to disguise his hairline.  He seems to accentuate it.

9:07 - Will the entire hour away be spent with a Triple H promo???

8:52 - My warning -- about to go into the other room to watch The Walking Dead.  I'll be back in an hour or so, but may slip in during commercials.

8:44 - Obviously, a weak ending there.  That just shows you how important the role of the referee is.

As I said, when, like, three of your matches are just stepping stones to WrestleMania, it just comes across as a bit lackluster.

8:32 - Interesting new take on the Stardust attire.

8:29 - In some form or fashion. we've been waiting for the Goldust/Cody Rhodes one-on-one match for, like, four years.  It seems awfully anticlimactic for it to happen 35 days before WrestleMania.

8:25 - So Orton vs. Rollins is an obvious pick for WrestleMania.  I'm feeling like they should do Ziggler/Ryback vs. Big Show/Kane as well, to give Ziggler and Ryback's story against the Authority a climax at WrestleMania.

8:23 - I'm guessing an Orton return?

8:22 - So this match that was supposed to make a star out of Seth Rollins see Kane get the pin off of a Big Show move?

8:17 - While not the most technically proficient performer, Rowan's matches are far more bearable now that they've given up on making "Big Red" a thing.

8:08 - Some new gear for the babyfaces.  We had Ziggler with a sleeveless hoodie, Ryback in this green little number, and Rowan with an "R" on his jumpsuit.  I'm still shocked we haven't seen a gray version of Rollins' gear, though.

8:02 - Just as a forewarning, there will be an hour break at 9:00 as I go to watch The Walking Dead.  But other than that, sit back, relax, and enjoy my LIVE thoughts of Fast Lane.

In and of itself, this is a fine show with a lot of interesting matches that could deliver.  But overall, it's just unnecessary.  Matches either feel rushed when they would make far more impact happening at WrestleMania (like Rusev/Cena, Stardust/Goldust, and to a lesser extent Ambrose/Barrett, Usos/Kidd and Cesaro, and even the Ziggler/Ryback vs. Big Show/Kane confrontation).  Other matches are seemingly out of no where because the Superstars have other plans for WrestleMania.  The only two things that really NEED to happen to set the seeds for WrestleMania are Bryan/Reigns and Sting/Triple H.  Not a whole lot of reason to have a show, though.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - February 9, 2015

9:53 - I'm pretty exhausted so I think I'm going to watch this final hour from bed.  Follow me on Twitter for more thoughts on the show!

9:48 - I like it better when Stardust alternates his attire.  He's got so many alternatives (unlike Goldust), yet he's been wearing the purple pair non-stop since Royal Rumble.  Mix it up!

9:26 - It's frustrating that they've stalled the momentum of guys like Ziggler and Ambrose (and almost Bryan) for the sake of building up Wyatt, if the plan is only to feed Wyatt to the Undertaker.

9:16 - Something I appreciate about Ziggler -- the fact that he's constantly playing to the ground.  It's something a lot of performers forget to do.  They're rarely if ever silent during Ziggler's matches, because he's constantly forcing them to respond to him.

9:13 - They were making such awesome progress with Dolph, why put him in ANOTHER no-win situation here?

9:04 - Every time I see Rusev holding the United States Championship it disappoints me.  This guy is so anti-American and full of Russian pride, yet he carries around the United States title with no real sense of irony.  Why not change it to the more appropriate Russian Championship?  It would at least bring a little attention to the title.  Hell, maybe even sell a few replicas!  Or, at the very least, make an actual story about the fact that this giant American hater has the U.S. title.  Instead, it's just sort of a thing he carries around and defends, no different than if it was the Intercontinental Championship.

8:53 - Is this confirmation that the Fast Lane match IS for the Intercontinental Championship?  It's been insinuated but, as best as I can tell, not outright stated.

8:51 - Standard headscissors, described as a figure four around somebody's head.  Nope.  Not at all.

8:46 - Didn't some local DJ go on a Twitter rant about Big Show being a jerk, specifically saying that this was against their anti-bullying campaign?  And who appeared in a commercial for Be A Star today?  Big Show.

8:42 - Two matches, two almost identical DQ finishes.

8:33 - I guess Bryan/Kane/Reigns/Show each week wasn't quite enough.  Now they have to fight multiple times each show.

8:31 - Haha, gotta love your audience cheering Bryan hitting Reigns.

8:29 - And so Big Show and Kane lay out your top two babyfaces.

8:17 - I think we all agreed that we needed MORE Bryan/Kane/Reigns/Big Show combinations.

8:11 - Nothing like having your top heels essentially film a commercial for the WWE Network in the middle of their promo.  And did Triple H just confront Sting about whether they can confront each other at Fast Lane?

8:09 - So latest thoughts on whether or not Daniel Bryan is included in the WrestleMania main event?

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Monday, February 2, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - February 2, 2015

11:08 - I'll admit it, Reigns got some pretty good distance on that Big Show spear.

10:45 - I'm confused.  How would that have been a threat against Reigns?  Wouldn't it have been a threat against Rollins?

10:41 - WWE's treatment of Erick Rowan is so odd.  They keep him at the top of the card, right in the mix of things, yet he never really wins.  And a lot of the times he loses clean.

10:25 - I like that Sin Cara has gone the Rey Mysterio route of constantly changing his color scheme.  I'm surprised they haven't successfully marketed him in Mysterio's absence.  This is more WWE's fault than Sin Cara's -- they haven't really given the fans a reason to rally behind him.

10:06 - Well that was telegraphed.  I'm guessing Orton returns tonight.

10:02 - I certainly can't criticize WWE for strongly pushing Bray Wyatt (and they have been going to great lengths, sacrificing the momentum of Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler to name a few), but I REALLY REALLY hope this is not just to feed him to the Undertaker.

9:40 - I like how Rowan uses the same mask every week.  It's a nice little touch.  He's the type of personality that wouldn't just grab a fresh one from Shopzone.

9:30 - Glad to see Cesaro win but, again, it's discouraging that Cesaro is basically in the same spot he was this time last year (except with a less bright future) after the momentum he had coming out of WrestleMania last year.

9:19 - It feels like so many guys have these overruling storylines going on, but they're not necessarily going anywhere and they're not resulting in anybody feuding.  Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback are great examples.  They're in this feud with the Authority, but none of them are going to be involved in the climax of the Authority storyline.  They're just, like, peripherally there.  And as a result, they're in these meaningless matches that they either win (by "overcoming a challenge") or they lose (by "being in unfair circumstances").  But win or lose, the story is essentially the same.  And they'll often have these same matches with the same guys, but they're not actually actively feuding with them.  A win or a loss does not really advance the story in any particular situation.  You know all three of these guys are "against" the Authority, but will any of them be in an Authority-related match at WrestleMania?  No, probably not.  And there are loads of other guys in similar situations.

9:07 - Wait, didn't she just say that Wyatt/Ziggler was next?

9:05 - Kinda surprising that they're coming out to Ryback's music, huh?  This isn't a fanboy moment, but Ziggler has consistently been pushed as the "top" star of this trio.

8:58 - THAT'S how they need to play the Stardust character -- that everybody BUT him knows that he and Cody are the same person.  They did it this way for a long while (JBL would regularly say "what happened in that household?" and stuff like that), but then at the Royal Rumble Cole noted that this was his first Royal Rumble appearance (the person, not the character) and they seemed to be doing an about-face.

8:54 - Do all of these "Welcome Back" celebrations for Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan seem odd?  Like, are they leading to anything?  They're kinda treated like homecoming kings or something.

8:42 - While I am happy that Dean Ambrose at least has some direction, it's still sad seeing him aiming for the Intercontinental Championship while his two comrades are getting for the World title.

8:36 - Okay, I am a LITTLE more forgiving of the opening promo for at least explaining that it was a giant manipulation and that they never had a legitimate announcement in the first place.  Yet it was still overly long and there were a huge amount of unintentional holes.

8:33 - Wait, really?  That's how you book your (arguably) struggling babyface?  This is not the show you book before an Austin podcast.

8:27 - So, um, what was supposed to be the announcement?  You know, that one that was supposed to rock the foundation of the company?

And holy crap....Reigns vs. Big Show is like Daniel Bryan vs. Kane as this feud that just will not end.

8:25 - This segment makes me a little sad for Dean Ambrose.  He's the only former Shield member not even in contention for the main event slot at WrestleMania.

8:17 - I am just BEGGING Daniel Bryan to mention that Brock Lesnar hadn't defended his title in the amount of days it took the Authority to strip him of his title.

Also, perhaps if they didn't waste time talking about Sting, the Super Bowl, and the WWE Network, they wouldn't have to go to a commercial break in the middle of their big announcement.

8:05 - Gotta love WWE totally dismissing their unsatisfied customers.

8:02 - Man, does that new entrance video make the roster seem depleted or what?  It's just basically a rotation of Cena, Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, Wyatt, Bryan, and the Bellas.

7:39 - So tonight's Raw is set to kick off with Triple H's earth shattering announcement.  What will the announcement be?  The strong belief will be Triple H somehow contesting Roman Reigns' Royal Rumble win in a ploy that will ultimately further establish him, to fans, as the new face of the company.  That's all fine and good, but what's the motivation?  From a booking standpoint, what's to contest?  Roman Reigns won fair and square.  Sure, the Rock came in and helped, but it was to beat up two guys who were cleanly eliminated.  Rock never once laid his hands on an active competitor (even though that wouldn't have been illegal either).  And the individuals that the fans are rallying behind -- Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, and arguably Bray Wyatt -- were all cleanly eliminated as well.  There's no basis for them deserving to be in the WrestleMania title match.  And from a character standpoint, what's Triple H's motivation.  Why would he want to give people who have challenged his authority (Bryan, Ambrose, and Ziggler) a shot at the WrestleMania title match?  If the actual announcement is to have Reigns put his title shot on the line against himself or Rollins -- which would make sense for Triple H's character -- that would be entirely underwhelming.  And if Triple H puts the title shot on the line just for fun, doesn't that hurt the credibility -- even if just a little -- of the Royal Rumble stipulation?  One of the few stipulations that has gone undamaged, for the most part?

I'm curious....but I'm not sure I'm optimistic.

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