The Spotlight On The 2016 WWE Royal Rumble

Well the 2016 WWE Royal Rumble is in the books and what else can be said?  We are on the road to Wrestlemania! I really enjoyed the heck out of that Royal Rumble show last night and felt that it was top to bottom a really good show.  I’m going to go through everything in the order of which it took place so i can point out what I enjoyed about everything.

Highlights:

1) Preshow- It really seems like WWE is behind Byron Saxton as he is now the commentator for Raw, Smackdown and Pay Per Views.  While I like Saxton and think he works really hard, there was something really nostalgic that I enjoyed abut Jerry Lawler calling the pay per views.  That said, with Lawler and Booker T now both a part of the pre show panel, it instantly adds importance and credibility to the panel as the two legends work nicely with Corey Graves and Renee Young.  As for the four way match, I thought it was a lot of fun and it felt really important as all 8 superstars involved showed a sense of urgency that they really wanted to be a part of the Rumble.  I really also liked how into Damien Sandow the crowd was, they loved the guy and this is despite him not really being on tv for about 9 months.

2) Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens-  At first i didn’t understand why Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose were the first match out but seeing that they were also in the Rumble, following a last man standing match, this was the only spot for them.  These two tore down the house and lived up to the other last man standing matches in Rumble history (Foley-Rock 1999, Triple H-Shawn Michaels 2004, John Cena-Umaga 2007).  The two kicked the show off with a bang destroying the timekeeper area almost immediately.  My favorite spot of the night had to be when Kevin Owens took out Michael Cole out of desperation when he was sent flying over the announce table.  I didn’t think the loss hurt Owens at all as he continued to come back throughout the match.  On the other hand, it was good to see Dean Ambrose get a big win and he was one of the MVPs of the whole show for me.

3) The New Day Vs. The Usos- The New Day continue to grow on me more and more throughout their run in WWE.  they have tremendous personality and it looks like it’s becoming harder and harder for them to remain a heel group as the crowd loves them just as much. The new Francesca was incredibly over with the crowd and i was happy to see the trombone back in full effect.  As for the match itself, these four all busted their ass and continue to revitalize the tag team division.  it was good to see the New Day keep the titles as they’ve now held those title for over 200 days.  Keep your eye on Xavier Woods, by the way, I wonder if over time he’ll continue to show more of his athleticism because he’s really good in the ring.

4) Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio-  I could watch these two go at it all the time here but to me, I would have held off on the first title change until this show as I felt it would have meant more for Kalisto to get it on a big stage.  Kalisto is a joy to watch in the ring and it looks like WWE may have found their new Rey Mysterio type of luchador for the kids to get behind.  As for Alberto, while i believe he could really benefit from having a mouthpiece or his own ring announcer, I don’t think he’s ever really had a bad match.

5) Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch-  both of these ladies looked great in the ring and had a good match but the big story here in the end has to be the return of Sasha Banks.  Other than AJ Styles, Sasha Banks got the biggest pop of the night from the live crowd.  WWE has done a good job in keeping Charlotte and Sasha away from each other since both of them debuted on the main roster last August.  I felt that last night was a great time to reintroduce their feud to WWE fans especially to do in in NXT country where fans love all of the talents who performed down in NXT.  It’ll be great to see a high profile Divas title match on Wrestlemania, as I expect that’s where this is going.

6) Royal Rumble Match- There’s been a lot of criticism over the last few Royal Rumble matches but let me tell you, they got it right last night.  First let’s start with AJ Styles who looked great and got a heroes welcome from the Florida crowd who couldn’t wait to see him. Styles got instant credibility by showing up and going toe to toe with the current WWE World Champion.  He also lasted nearly 30 minutes in the Rumble match and WWE was really smart to have Kevin Owens (who has a similar fanbase as the phenomenal one) be the one to eliminate him.  Speaking of Kevin Owens he looked tough as hell to stumble his was down the aisle to enter the ring because there was no way he was missing out on the Rumble.  Of course this led to our second big return of the match as Sami Zayn returned and immediately reignited his feud with Owens.  While people I was with were hoping that Finn Balor would be the NXT entry this year, I thought Zayn was the clear choice and the right choice.  It was nice to see the little comedy spots from Kofi Kingston (who looked rather confused like it was supposed to be Xavier Woods in the match) and R Truth as there’s always room for some comedy during the Rumble. As for the finish of the Royal Rumble, I was a big fan of it.  First of all if you watched that Rumble and saw Roman Reigns get taken out and walk to the back a beaten man, logic would say he was coming back at the end to win the match.  I feel like if that happened (especially since Roman wasn’t brought to the back by a stretcher) then people would have a right to be a little frustrated.  But the fact that Triple H returned, won the title and it came down to Hunter and Dean Ambrose (not Roman) that made for a very exciting finish.  Personally, I would have went with Ambrose and had Roman cost Triple H the title but that’s not because I don’t think Triple H deserves a run with the title but rather that I don’t think Roman and Triple H need the title for their feud and that I think it would have been a good time to propel Dean Ambrose by giving him a run with the title.  That said I think that by Triple H stealing the title from Reigns this puts a lot behind there feud.  I also wouldn’t been too surprised to see a little tension between Reigns and Ambrose being that Ambrose outlasted Reigns in the Rumble.

Closing Thoughts:

Overall, I thought this was a really enjoyable Royal Rumble event and my favorite since the 2010 show which saw Edge return and win the rumble.  The match had so many twists and turns along the way and it made for a really exciting watch.  The three big surprise entrants (four if you include Kane) worked as they added to the match and each one, AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Triple H, meant something to the match as a whole.

 

The Spotlight On The WWE Network- SummerSlam: Phenom vs. Beast

With just 13 days until their epic rematch at WWE Summerslam, the WWE Network ran a special last night focusing on the history between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.  The special, which aired right after Monday Night Raw, featured comments from different WWE superstars and legends about their opinions regarding both the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar and their rematch at Summerslam. Let’s get right into some of the highlights from the piece.

Highlights

1) It Was The Day The Music Died–  The 23 minute long, documentary style piece did a good job of starting with a brief overview of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak from Wrestlemania and how much it meant to the show.  Everyone from Edge to the Big Show to Shawn Michaels (all former opponents of the Undertaker at Wrestlemania) were interviewed on the piece and did a great job in explaining that while you would see titles change hands at Wrestlemania, you would never see the streak broken.  I always enjoy the packages focusing on the Undertaker’s past opponents from the different Wrestlemanias if for no other reason, then to see the difference in the Undertaker and how that character has continued to evolve over the years.  This then transitioned nicely into a piece about what happened when Brock Lesnar broke the Undertaker’s streak.  Being their live for Wrestlemania 30, I can tell you that this moment was undoubtedly the most insane crowd reaction I’ve ever seen.  Dean Ambrose says it best here by saying that in one moment an entire stadium full of people’s jaws dropped in unison. They then show the Undertaker walking off at Wrestlemania 30 as they played an eery rendition of his theme song played on the piano, as everyone wondered if it was the last time we would be seeing the Undertaker.  The crowd shots are really what will make that moment live in infamy (here’s to you incredibly shocked bulging eyes guy)

2) Suplex, Repeat-  From here, the piece did a really nice job of going over Brock Lesnar’s reign of dominance in WWE over the last 18 months following Wrestlemania 30.  Everything from Brock’s win over John Cena at Sumerslam last year to the birth of Suplex City at this past year’s Wrestlemania is covered in depth.  I think the Big Show said it best here when he said “At first you didn’t want to see the streak end but as time went on you thought, well if there was ever going to be anyone to do it, Brock Lesnar would be the guy to do it”.  I also really liked that they had interviews with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, guys who’ve face Lesnar over this span and who gave first hand accounts of what it was like to compete against Brock Lesnar.

3) The Rematch- In the end, the piece leads up to the big return for the Undertaker at Battleground and the brawl between the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar the next night on Raw.  They then turn to a few different superstars to get their thoughts on what this rematch at Summerslam means to both Brock and The Undertaker.  Triple H points out how much this match means to the Undertaker because he has to protect his  legacy, while Paul Heyman explains that this will be the final match for the Undertaker and that Brock Lesnar will finish him for good at Summerslam.  This was a really good idea because it gave the rematch between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker that big match feel that it so truly deserves.  After all if all of these superstars and legends are returning to discuss a match of this magnitude, you should believe it’s a match worth going out of your way to see.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, I thought this piece did a great job in building up the main event of Summerslam.  There isn’t any reason with the WWE Network that they couldn’t put together a special like this for each of their big show main events.  It reminded me, to a certain extent, of the UFC packages they put together to promote a big fight.  I liked that rather than having the two men in the match talk about it, you had their peers discussing the match instead.  Tome part of the appeal of both the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar is their mystique and that you don’t see them as much.  Overall, this was a really strong network specialthat everyone should take the mere 20 minutes to go out of your way to check out.

That’s going to do it for me but I also have a review up of last night’s big Raw from Washington, as well as a piece I did on Slipknot’s Summer’s Last Stand Tour from last week, here in New York.  Check out both of those pieces and let me know what you think. Thanks, as always, for all of your support.

All photos courtesy of the WWE Network

The Spotlight On Raw for 8/10/2015

Monday Night Raw emanated live from Everett, Washington last night and I found the show to be quite enjoyable.  WWE is steadfast on the road to Summerslam and we found out a few more of the matches for the “Biggest Event Of The Summer”.  Let’s get right into some of the highlights on the show.

Highlights:

The MVP Of The Night: Goes to Randy Orton!  Orton not only competed in two different matches for over 30 minutes of the night but he was on absolute fire having the top two matches of the night.  The guy is just so fluid in the ring and I don’t think it’s possible for him to have a bad match.  Orton first competed in a number one contender triple threat match against both Cesaro and Kevin Owens.  The three men pulled out all the stops until Orton pulled out the win laying out both men with an RKO in about 18 minutes.  This led to Orton getting a title match later in the evening against Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship and those two had another great match.  Orton and Rollins have undeniable in ring chemistry and go so fast in the ring, they may very well be the two best in ring performers in WWE today.  There were so many near falls that I started to think that Orton was going to win the championship, especially after the impressive RKO out of nowhere.  Sheamus costing Orton the championship win did a good job of presenting Sheamus as a despicable heel.  That said, I then actually thought Sheamus was going to cash in and win the championship in his own right.  A great non finish there and this continues the program between Orton and Sheamus heading into Summerslam.  That said, with Orton and Sheamus both having the champion beat, you could theoretically have a believable three way in the works if John Cena can’t go at Summerslam.  I expect Cena to be there, after all he is Big Match John, but it’s good to know there’s a believable back up match if he can’t go.  Of course, if Cena can go, then there’s a great match in place for Orton and Sheamus with a ton of momentum behind them after last night.  All around good stuff overall.

Miz TV- I absolutely loved the Miz TV segment last night in so many ways.  Between his work on tough enough and his work in the ring, really since the Mizdow stuff, the miz has been on quite a roll.  To me, he is getting closer to the level he was at in 2011, when he was in the main event of WrestleMania, then he’s been in quite some time.  As for this particular segment, it was, first off, great to see Daniel Bryan get a chance to shine in front of his hometown crowd and good to see Bryan back on Raw in general.   It’s amazing that, this day in age with books being so much less popular, that Bryan’s book is a New York Times bestseller and it’s good to see him getting the attention he deserves for this feat.  I also felt Bryan did a good job in not backing down from the Miz but using what the Miz was doing, in putting him down, to focus that onto Miz’s current opponents for Summerslam.  Lastly, Ryback’s return came off very well as he looked about ready to kill the Miz.  After this segment, i not only wanted to see Daniel Bryan return to get revenge on the Miz for his remarks but also can’t wait to see the triple threat match at Summerslam for the intercontinental championship between the Miz, Ryback and The Big Show.

Celebrities Done Right- The third highlight this week, and it was tough as there was a lot I liked about this show, goes out to Stephen Amell.  It’s a strange comparison but to me this reminded me of the way Lawrence Taylor was used prior to Wrestlemania 11 in that Amell was referenced a few times throughout the night as being a guest until being baited by a Stardust pie shove.  In the end, I like that Amell knows getting into a WWE ring is going to be very tough but feels like he has no choice because he has to defend himself.  Triple H was great in also looking at Amell like he had a death wish and demanding lawyers give him signed documents before agreeing to let Amell compete at Summerslam.  There was also added intrigue by Triple H announcing Amell as Arrow, getting you to think Amell may appear at Summerslam in character.  In the end, my favorite part of this is that WWE is using Amell’s appearance to help give a bit of spotlight (pun intended) to King Barrett, Stardust and Neville.

Closing Thoughts

It’s not easy to have three hours go by so fast that you’re left wanting more but, for me, Raw did that this week.  Aside from the highlights mentioned, I also really enjoyed the New Day segments, those guys continue to get the most of their new roles and they’ve been a joy to watch.  The same thing can be said for the Divas who looked great again this week and had the crowd hooked their entire time out there.  Lastly, I also liked that Undertaker and Brock Lesnar were both not on the show this week.  Thier brawl was so good coming out of Battleground that it makes sense to hold both of them away from one another until their big showdown for the final Raw before Summerslam next week.

That’s going to do it for me this week but coming up later today I’ll have coverage of the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar special that aired on the WWE Network right after Raw last night.  Until then, what were your thoughts on Raw?  Did you are agree with my highlights of the show?  Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to hit the subscribe button so you can get continued coverage of all of the reviews right here at thedailyspotlight.com

The Spotlight On Raw for 7/13/2015

First off I like to apologize for being off the grid these last few days. I’ve been a bit under the weather really since last Wednesday and it just got worse until finally kicking my ass all weekend. I’ll get more into that on tomorrow’s Daily Spotlight but thankfully I started feeling a bit better just in time for a great Raw (and an awesome Home Run Derby, which I’ll also get into tomorrow morning). As for Monday Night Raw, it emanated live from Atlanta, Georgia and was the final stop of the road to WWE Battleground. Without any further ado, let’s get right into some of the highlights of the show… 

Highlights: 

1) Divas Get Their Chance- Tonight’s Raw didn’t only see one call up from NXT but rather saw three call ups as Charlotte, Becky Lynch and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks all made there Raw debut tonight. The segment was probably the greatest womens segment since Paige debuted and beat AJ Lee for the women’s title the night after Wrestlemania 30. This was really a relaunch for the women’s division in WWE as Stephanie McMahon showed up to introduce the three ladies from NXT. What made the segment even more special was that the crowd absolutely exploded with “This Is Awesome” chants and showered the ladies with praise. It was really a telling sign as to how far NXT has come that the NXT women were instantly reconized and admired for their athleticism and past accomplishments. If you only have time to check out one segment from this week’s Raw, its this segment right here. 

2) The U.S. Title Open Challenge- What else is new? These segments are great every week and it is nice to see that each week more and more people continue to come out and challenge John Cena. The U.S. Title has become the most prized possession in WWE & it’s great to see how John Cena has brough prestige back to that belt. Cesaro continued his streak of having the best match on Raw as he and Rusev (and for a little while Kevin Owens) had a great, nearly , 24 minute match. It was great to see that Rusev is back showing his aggressive side and it was nice to see him, not only, getting a big win over Cesaro but also to see him getting a DQ victory over Cena. Kevin Owens costing Rusev the match ,after taking himself out of the three way, added some heat on Owens. Owens is obviously respected and, by a certain percentage of the audience, adored. The problem with that is that he’s being counted on to be a top heel in the company so by having him taking himself out of matches and then also costing the fans the opportunities to see clean finishes, (with Cesaro and now Rusev) the crowd may be more inclined to boo him. WWE has done a good job over these past few weeks of adding Cesaro and Rusev to the Cena and Owens story. They’ve used a hot feud like Cena-Owens to create new contenders for the US title in Cesaro and Rusev and giving both of those guys a rub in the process. Good stuff all around. 

3) The Champ Stands Alone…Confidently?!?– This week Brock Lesnar continued his destruction of the Authority by taking out Kane after previously taking out J & J Security. This set up the showdown between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins well in that now, theoretically, Rollins is all alone to face Lesnar. In the process, however, I felt that Rollins cut his best promo to date in that he claimed not to be afraid of Brock Lesnar while also rediculing  Kane.  He  also, correctly, pointed out that while Lesnar had gotten better of all of his past challengers, he never did get the better of Rollins. I felt the end of Raw did a good job in setting the stage for the Battleground main event and a number of possibilities moving forward. If Seth Rollins proves he doesn’t need anyone and defeats Brock Lesnar retain the championship, he’s a made man. If Brock Lesnar wins back the championship and Triple H doesn’t come out to help Rollins or fails to help when he does, this starts issues between Rollins and Triple H. Lastly, it’ll be interesting to see where Kane goes from here after being verbally undressed and humiliated by Rollins to end the show. 

4) Stardust Returns- While I was surprised to see Stardust return as a heel (presumably to continue his program with Stephen Amell), it was great to see Stardust back on Raw for the first time since the untimely death of Dusty Rhodes. I thought Stardust cut a great promo to hype his return prior to his match with Neville and seemed incredibly passionate. It was nice to see him get such a warm reaction from the crowd and it’ll be interesting to see just how long WWE will be able to keep Stardust a heel. 

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I think Raw was a really good show, perhaps the best since the Raw the night after Wrestlemania. The show did a good job in building towards Sunday’s Battleground and even beyond. It’s interesting to note that with only Smackdown remaining before the Battleground show, Dean Ambrose (who’s main evented the past two pay per views), Cesaro, Rusev and the Divas are not on the Battleground show. I’m sure some will be added but since Battleground is, likely, part of the larger Summerslam picture, it’s ok not to have everyone on every pay per view. 

That’s going to do it for me but I’d love to hear your thoughts on tonight’s Raw. Until then keep your eyes pealed for a new Daily Spotlight in the morning, updated Tough Enough power rankings prior to tomorrow’s show and a whole lot more right here on thedailyspotlight.com!

The Spotlight On Raw 7/6/15

WWE Raw just went off the air and I have to say I really enjoyed this show as it did a good job in continuing the build for Battleground while also delivering with a great main event. Let’s get right into some of the highlights of the show. 

Highlights:

1) Chicago Made- It’s not easy for me to admit it, as a proud New Yorker, but the best WWE fans belong to the city of Chicago. This crowd was into everything on the show and remained lively for the whole three hour show. The crowd was a lot more than CM Punk chants as they showed support for everyone and respect for everyone not named John Cena (though I think with Cena its a little tongue in cheek and he won the fans over in the end). I hope WWE also heard the support for Bo Dallas. As I say on a weekly basis, they have something in that guy, I just hope they realize it.,

2) What a Main Event- Another week of raw, another show where the John Cena US Title Open Challenge has stole the show. John Cena and Cesaro tore down the house for over a half hour pulling out innovative moves and reversals while going move for move with each other. In the end I found myself torn as, while I wanted to see Cesaro get the win, I don’t want to see the John Cena Open Challenges end. Cena continues to reinvent himself with new opponents each week and knows how to work a crowd like none other. He knows he’s hated in Chicago and has no problem embracing the hate as a bit of a heel. I also like the nice tough of Cesaro wearing the Candian armband out of respect to Tyson Kidd. A very classy touch from Cesaro, who I hope to only see grow from here. 

3) Brock Lesnar Vs The Cadillac- Right when Seth Rollins rewarded J & J Security with a brand new Cadillac last week, you knew it was only a matter of time before Brock Lesnar got his hand on the $55,000 automobile. Well this week Brock didn’t disappoint as he destroyed the car as only Brock could. I also liked that he was able to take out Noble and Mercury. They’re doing a great job in building up the Lesnar-Rollins title match at Battleground as Brock continues to take out Seth’s support system. 

4) Rusev Crush- Maybe it’s just me but ever since Dolph Ziggler started hooking up with Lana, I started to feel a bit bad for the Bulgarian Brute. Every week Rusev would show up to Raw, broken foot and all, and every week he’d have to see his ex girlfriend kiss another man. This week when I saw Dolph and Lana kiss right in front of Rusev, I was hoping Rusev would take him out..and did he ever! Thankfully, Rusev revealed that he had healed and destroyed Dolph (Who did a stretcher job to boot). Maybe Rusev isn’t supposed to be the baby face here but I like the shades of grey of all the characters involved here that allows fans to support who they’d like to. This slow build between Rusev and Ziggler can lead to a fun match at Summerslam either with just the two or a mixed tag with the ladies involved.

Closing Thoughts:

You know as much as I loved the period in May and June where every two weeks there was another pay per view, WWE has done a good job building Battleground with a little extra time to do so. We’ve known the big matches for that show for a while and each week of television has nicely built to those matches.  This week was no exception as if you have some extra time, I’d suggesting checking out this weeks Raw as it was a really fun show. On top of the highlights mentioned above, you also had a nice return by Randy Orton and I also thought Titus O’Neil, of all people, did a great job on commentary during the New Day-Lucha Dragons match. 

That’s going to do it for me but I’ll be back with the Tough Enough Power Rankings and a whole lot more tomorrow. Until the. Let me know what you thought of this week’s Raw in Chicago and be sure to subscribe to the Daily Spotlight below. Thanks for all of your support!