The Spotlight On Billy Gunn’s Firing From WWE

Well,  unfortunately I’m not coming to you with happy news to end the week in WWE but as reported by f4wonline.com earlier today, “Monty “Kip” Sopp, better known as Billy Gunn, was fired today as a trainer by WWE due to testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a powerlifting meet from July 25.”According to the report, “Sopp’s drug test  came up with a 37-1 testosterone/epitestosterone ratio, well over the 4-1 limit, and he was suspended from powerlifting for four years.”

At 52 years of age, it is unlikely that Sopp will be able t compete in powerlifting again.  This is obviously unfortunate as Sopp had been working both an agent and a trainer down in NXT over the past few years.  With Sopp being chosen to be a trainer on the most recent season of Tough Enough, coupled with how prominently he’s featured on Breaking Ground (the new docuseries on the WWE Network), it would be reasonable to assume that Sopp was one of the more trusted people down at the performance center and within WWE auspices.

Sopp had one of the more accomplished careers as a member of WWE, and member of D-Generation X during the Attitude Era, as a former 2 time hardcore champion, a former king of the ring winner, a former intercontinental champion and a former (unprecedented) 11 time WWE Hardcore champion.  Sopp even had a run with the tag titles as a member of the New Age Outlaws as most recently as 2013 in a run that culminated in a six man tag with Corporate Kane against the Shield at WrestleMania 30.

As of this writing, Sopp is still listed on the superstars section of WWE.com and no official statement has been released by WWE.  As mentioned earlier, Sopp had been featured time to time of the new Breaking Ground series on the WWE Network, so it will be interesting to see if he is edited out of any further material that’s been taped for that series moving forward.  It should be noted that while Sopp did fail that test for powerlifting back on July 25th, WWE was not made aware of it until very recently. You really have to give WWE a lot of credit for releasing Sopp immediately upon this being discovered and showing zero tolerance amongst their trainers as it pertains to PEDs.  At the end of the day, Sopp is training the future of WWE down in NXT and should be a role model for these trainees.  It would be setting a bad example to keep Sopp on as a trainer, despite his accomplishments, so WWE’s hands were tied in that regard.

Hopefully, if this is an issue in which Sopp has a problem, and I’m not one to judge, he’s able to get the help that needs to overcome the problem.  If any further details are released on this matter, we’ll have them for you right here on thedailyspotlight.com

The Spotlight On WWE Tough Enough Episode 8

 Last night the final five of WWE Tough Enough were revealed when Giorgia Priscina (GiGi) was sent home by receiving the lowest amount of votes from the WWE Universe. From the beginning, I would say that Gigi had to be considered one of the favorites to win the show. Gigi won many of the different physical competitions and also showed a good amount of personality and character development. That said, she also began showing signs, over the past few weeks, of being overly arrogant. As seen in past weeks with Patrick and Gabi, it’s obvious that the WWE Universe is turned off by arrogance. In the end, the Universe gets the final say here and they chose to save Sara and Tanner over Gigi. I believe that Gigi was someone who really wanted this and if she works hard can make it to WWE someday as it was obvious that the judges and trainers liked her. With that out of the way, let’s get into some of the highlights from the show.


Highlights

1) Y2J Baybay!!!!!- Chris Jericho is one of the biggest stars in the history of WWE and so when I heard he was going to be the host of this season’s Tough Enough, I felt he was a natural fit. Honestly, I feel he’s done well in his role but I felt that he could offer so much more to the show. Well, that really happened this episode as Chris Jericho was awesome last night.  Right from the start of the show when Jericho greeted the contestants with pizza and alcohol as a reward for making it this far Jericho was just on fire. I loved when Jericho challenged the contestants to a drinking contest and drank the 20 something year old contestants under the table only to then show up looking chipper to wake up the hungover Tanner the next morning.  From here, Jericho was great in actually getting in the ring with the contestants to show them how to put together a match. Chris has one of the best minds in the business and I feel that if he wasn’t so busy with his in ring career, his podcast, Fozzy and all of his other endeavors, he’d make one helluva trainer. I was glad to see Jericho prominently featured and I hope it continues the rest of the series, he’s such a valuable asset.
 2) Big Match John Is Back-  From a WWE perspective, the biggest news to come out of Tough Enough is that John Cena returned to WWE television for the first time since his injury.  Cena , honestly looked pretty good as he delivered a passionate speech to the Tough Enough contestants. He actually made a great point in saying how we’re able to see each contestant from the beginning of their careers all the way through. Then the big news was revealed when John Cena confirmed that he will be back for Summerslam. The title vs. title match between Seth Rollins and John Cena is a go! I was surprised how many people across the internet were actually questioning whether or not Cena would be able to return.  Let’s not forget that this is the guy who made it back from a broken collar bone in a few months back in 2008 so that he’d make it back for the road to Wrestlemania.  John Cena is truly as tough as they come.

3) And Then There Were Two-With GiGi being voted off of the show tonight, this now means that the finals of Tough Enough for the females is down to Sara Lee and Amanda. One of those two women are going to win the $250,000 contract to be the next WWE diva. I expect that this means that one of the 3 male contestants, ZZ, Joshua or Tanner will be going home next week to set up the finale. While it hasn’t been 100% confirmed that the final vote will be determined by the fans, I would assume it would be since every other vote has been. If that is the case, I think that Sara Lee will win that fan vote in a landslide. Sara has been the one female contestant to realize that in order to do well in this competition you really need to be likable to the fans, Amanda hasn’t done that at all.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, I again enjoyed this week’s Tough Enough. I’ve felt that the show has really picked up steam over the past few weeks (It may honestly have to do with the addition of the Miz as a judge). Next week will be really interesting as it will likely be one of the male contestants going home and I feel each one of the remaining three contestants have their strengths. The wildcard in everything is that Daniel Bryan still has a save, he looked so tempted to use it tonight but he has been able to keep it until the end. It’ll be interesting to see if that save will dictate the result next week.

Well that’s going to do it for me for now but I’ll have a spotlight up later today on this week’s newsworthy Total Divas. Until then, who’s your picks for the final five contestants left on Tough Enough?

All Photos Courtesy of WWE and The USA Network

The Spotlight Tough Enough Power Rankings for Week 5

Last week’s Tough Enough saw the surprising elimination of Patrick Clark who had been number one on our power rankings for quite some time after proving to be passionate about the business and also winning a string of competitions.  Patrick seemed to be the front-runner of this season’s Tough Enough.  So what happened?  Well, Patrick became everything that he hated from the Tanner in the beginning of the show.  In the beginning of the show, Patrick was the likable, humble kid who knew everything about the wrestling business and showed the most respect for the history of the WWE product in general.  He was also quite critical of Tanner for coming across cocky and not having any sense of humility after winning a few of the challenges.  Well, fast forward a few weeks and now Patrick is the alpha dog of the Tough Enough male contestants and he, in essence, became Tanner.  Patrick started to become less humble with each victory as the show went on and he started getting fights with, literally, all of the other male contestants, even ZZ.  To make matters worse, Patrick also started to show a bit of disrespect towards the history of the business by stating that the big guys’ time in WWE was over, referencing that the Ultimate Warrior was gone and Hulk Hogan had retired (Does he not know that Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker are headlining Summerslam this year and, more to the point that Hulk Hogan was a judge on the show?).  Lastly, to bring it back full circle, Just how Tanner motivated Patrick so much so that he eventually did beat him, Patrick got everyone else in the competition motivated by his attitude that he started to lose challenges. In the end, it’s a shame that Patrick got voted off the show last week but Patrick is just 19 years old and has plenty of time to grow as a performer and mature as a person.  I do expect that he’ll get a chance again.

Tonight is a new night for the final 8 of the show and actually for the show in general.  Obviously due to all of the controversy surrounding Hulk Hogan (I’ll get to him later in the week, don’t think I forgot about the Hulkster) in his personal life, there will be a new judge called on to take Hulk Hogan’s spot tonight.  Everyone from Ric Flair, to Mick Foley, to Bret Hart to the trainers rotating into the judge role has been rumored.  If I had to choose though, I would say that it’s either going to beTough Talk host, The Miz (who’s been the breakout star of tough enough, for me, thus far) or the actual host of the show, Chris Jericho, will make the easy transition into the role of judge.  I’m actually curious to see if WWE even makes mention of Hogan’s disappearance from the show, though I honestly wouldn’t blame them if they completely ignored him after his terrible comments.  With all of that out of the way, let’s get into this week’s power rankings.

1) Mada Abdelhamid (Last Week #5)

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A really tough week for the power rankings this week because honestly each one of the contestants has there faults and there is no clear breakout performer, now that Patrick is gone.  Mada is the one guy who I will say has been on the rise since day one and has continued to get better each week.  Mada has a unique look and also cuts a good promo in being able to throw some Arabic in with his English from time to time.  It’s also come out that Mada used to play professional basketball, so he’s obviously an athletic guy, he seems to be everything WWE would want.  The one thing about Mada is that he lost his biggest supporter in the competition with Hulk Hogan being gone so it’ll be interesting to see if he can win over Daniel Bryan and Paige.  Mada is the only male contestant never to be in the bottom three.

2) Sara Lee ( Last week #8)

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I will admit a bit of bias here as Sara Lee is my favorite of the remaining women in the competition.  Sara remains the favorite amongst the majority of fans and last week she showed a bit of fire getting right into the faces of both Giorgia and Amanda, showing that she isn’t going to stand for getting pushed around any longer.  The other thing with Sara is that she’s also getting better in the competitions.  While she hasn’t passed Giorgia yet, getting better proves that she is more trainable than originally thought.  The thing with her would be for her to stay out of the drama.  Patrick let Tanner pull him into the drama and Sara is now letting Giorgia and Amanda pull her into it.

3) Joshua Bredl (Last Week #7)

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I’m finally starting not to look so silly for picking Joshua as my number one pick to start the series off as Joshua is really starting to come into his own.  I know Joshua was in the bottom three last week, but that was an aberration as I don’t think anyone other than Hulk Hogan though Josh deserved to be in the bottom three.  Joshua has started winning challenges and has really improved his conditioning, dropping 35 pounds since the series began.  Last week, we even saw Joshua’s softer side as he facetimed with his daughter.  Joshua can still improve in the personality department but he’s getting there.

4) Tanner Saraceno ( Last Week #2)

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After one or two weeks where it looked like Tanner was just letting his reputation from the first week carry him through, Tanner really upped his game last week.  To me, he came across really arrogant during the first few weeks and that was ok when he was dominating competitions but once he started to show his weaknesses, Tanner lost his only redeeming quality.  Well, last week Tanner showed that he is a pretty good guy as after he dominated the obstacle competition, he went back to try and help all of his peers.  After that, Tanner also went to the doctor with Chelsea to continue to show this selflessness.  Tanner biggest thing is whether he can do it in the ring and also improve some of his promos.

5) Giorgia Priscina (Last Week #3)

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I don’t understand why every time a contestant on this show starts winning competitions, they have to become arrogant.  I really liked Giorgia prior to last week but she came off just as bitchy as Gabi was last week.  She really started having a big head and also ratted out Chelsea for not being able to compete.  She came off bad there and worse when she started fake crying about it right after this.  She may be the best in challenges but if this how she acts now imagine if she wins the $250,000 contract?

6) ZZ Loupe (Last Week #4)

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ZZ has the most personality amongst anyone left on the show and if he got voted out, I’d be pretty bummed to lose my favorite character on the show.  That said, ZZ really isn’t doing well in many of the physical competitions and his lack of conditioning is starting to become a problem for the judges.  The thing that rubbed me the wrong way was when ZZ said that he’s been trying to step it up over the past few days.  He really should have made conditioning a priority right when he made the show, like Joshua did.  ZZ is even losing some of the fan support as last week he ended up getting less votes than Josh in the vote to send Patrick home.  I hope ZZ finds a way to improve because I think he’d make a great addition to WWE in some role.

7) Chelsea Green (Last Week #9)

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Chelsea started out in this competition doing really well and even seemed to have a leg up on the competition due to her past training and brief stint in WWE.  Then last week she got hurt and had to skip out on the in ring competition.  If her injury continues to hinder her, there is no way she’ll be able to last in this competition.

8) Amanda Sacaranato (Last Week #6)

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Mark my words: Amanda is the next to go from this season’s tough enough.  As a matter of fact, I think she would have went home last week had she been put in the bottom three.  How this girl has escaped the bottom three every week is baffling to me.  She is the one contestant who really hasn’t showed anything throughout the whole completion.  She’s pretty and has a good look but she hasn’t looked good in the ring, she hasn’t showed the personality and, last week, she didn’t even finish the obstacle course.  I think Amanda is on borrowed time, and you know I’ve been a fan of hers since the beginning.

Well that’s going to do it for me today but make sure to tune into a brand new live Tough Enough tonight on the USA Network at 8PM EST! Do you agree with my ratings?  Let me know why or why not.  Please be sure to also hit the subscribe button so you can get these Tough Enough updates delivered to your email every week.

The Spotlight Tough Enough Power Rankings for Week 3

Last Night the third episode of WWE Tough Enough took place live on the USA Network and it was a noteworthy episode to say the least. First it was revealed that Dianna had finally had enough of being away from her fiance while in the midst of planning their wedding and decided to drop out of the competition.  This was something that we mentioned as a distinct possibility and was a shame as she seemed to be one of the more athletic girls in the competition.  I was prepared to get all over Dianna for giving up the opportunity of a lifetime, it was revealed in an exclusive interview on the tough enough app that Dianna also left because one of her friends that worked at a bar that Dianna owned was attacked at the bar and left paralyzed.  Thus, if Dianna also left because of that unfortunate circumstance than I can’t fault her for that and wish her nothing but the best.  Dianna’s loss is somebody else’s gain as a new contestant Chelsea was able to enter back into the competition.  Chelsea is a student from Lance Storm’s Storm Wrestling Academy and is probably remembered by die hard WWE fans as Daniel Bryan’s physical therapist who claimed that her and Bryan were having an affair (in a storyline quickly dropped, I might add).  This is an interesting choice for a new contestant as I’m sure some viewers, like me, were either hoping to skip an elimination this week or that Ashley (who had the heart condition from the casting special) would be returning.  Regardless, if she was trained by Lance Storm she is probably going to be very good in the ring, just ask Tyler Breeze.

Also last night on Tough Enough, in a bit of a surprising move, Daria, was sent home.  (A quick side bar here, did you know that Daniel Bryan is a perfect 3 for 3 in that every contestant that he has placed in the bottom three, has gone home).  I thought honestly that Daria was better than a few of the contestants and she had a ton of heart, as evidenced by her “Save Me” speech this week and how crushed she looked going home.  It is obvious at this point that if it comes down to a fan vote and you’re in the bottom three with ZZ and Sara Lee, you can pack your bags.

Thus, after a noteworthy episode, ten contestants remain so let’s get into this week’s Tough Enough Power Rankings

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1) Patrick Clark Jr. (Last week #2)

After two straight episodes in which Patrick won the skills competition, he has finally jumped up to the top spot in this week’s tough enough power rankings.  One thing that I liked about Patrick this week was that he’s the only one who woke up to watch the Beast In The East Special at 530AM and was periscoping with fans right when he woke up.  The guy obviously respects the business and looks to really be living his dream with this competition.   I also really liked that Patrick showed that he was not going to be a push over this week by standing up to Tanner and coming right at him. Patrick also had a great answer when Tanner called him out for being a trained wrestler prior to coming on the show by saying tht his past training didn’t count as he’s here to learn WWE style.  With Patrick showing his depth this week as a performer in the entrance competion, the sky is truly the limit for Patrick.

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2) Tanner Saraceno (Last Week #1)

Tanner continues to be dominant in the athletic competitions and it really looks like it’s going to come down between he and his rival, Patrick as the competition continues.  One thing I’d start to worry about with Tanner is that he doesn’t seem to be reacting well to Patrick beating him in competitions.  His constant challenging of the other male contestants to fights may start to rub fans the wrong way, who in the end have the final say on the voting.  Tanner’s lack of love of the business is also starting to really show and that’s not good.

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3) Giorgia Priscina ( Last Week #11)

After plummeting last week all the way down to the lowest ranking for female contestants at number 11, Giorgia has really come into her own in the competion.  She has won the last two athletic competitions amongst the girls and showed off some of her personality in the entrance competition this week.  Giorgia is also the one girl to avoid all of the drama that so many of the other contestants have found themselves consumed by.

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4) ZZ Loupe (Last Week #3) 

ZZ drops a spot here this week, although if this competition continues to be decided by fans voting, he’s going to win the show as he continues to dominate in all of the fans votes at the end of the episodes. ZZ was called out for acting, what Billy Gunn perceived to be, silly during the entrance competition when he came out in a red, white and blue headdress and his underwear when he was supposed to be dressed as an American hero.  I thought this was good for ZZ, however, as it allowed him to show off his more serious side.  ZZ was offended that Billy felt he wasn’t taking the competition seriously and quickly spoke up about how bad he wants to win this competition.  Lastly ZZ didn’t back down from his costume as he said that he felt he was portraying a hero because a hero could be many different things to many people.  He said he was getting the fans out of their elements and getting them to believe in what he was doing.  At the end of the day ZZ proved that his best quality is the support he has from the fans as he got the most again when in the bottom three.

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5) Mada Abdelhamid (Last week #6) 

I hate to be so male contestant heavy but I’m really not impressed with too many of the female contestants yet.  I was actually most impressed with Mada this week to the point that I thought he won the character competition.  It’s taken Mada a bit to show some of his personality but now that he’s showing off some of it and getting more comfortable, I think he has a shot to do well.

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6) Amanda Sacaranato ( Last Week #4) 

Mandy continues her desecnt down the power rankings as she really hasn’t showed me too much from week to week.  I thought she did alright during the character competition but had one of the easier characters to emulate.  I give Amanda credit for trying to ignore some of the things that Gaby says about her, which are basically that Amanda couldn’t be more phony if she tried, until shecf but she has to show more during the episodes or she isn’t going to be around too much longer.

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7) Joshua Bredl (Last Week #9)

Joshua seems to have improved over the past two episodes.  I liked that he was uncomfortable with the British Brawler character but he did his best with it and ended up doing a good job.  He also seems to be getting better in the athletic competitions.  While he remains a step behind Tanner, he seems to be giving it his all to get closer to beating him.  I don’t think it’s smart of him to continue to go against the beloved ZZ (by telling ZZ that he’s just upset because the judges didn’t like his entrance when ZZ seemed really down about how he was treated) and I still cotnsider him to be the weakest amongst the five remaining men, but it’s good to see him improving nonetheless.

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8) Sara Lee (Last Week #5)

Readers of my rankings know that I support Sara but truth be told she really hasn’t impressed in any of the competitions whether it be athletic or in personality. That said she continues to show her realism factor that the other female contestants are lacking. She is honest about struggling but working hard to improve. She has also survived two straight bottom 3’s so it’s obvious that she has the fan support which is key.

9) Chelsea Green (Last Week N/A) 

It would be really easy to put the new contestant on the bottom but Chelsea is a trained wrestler and it seems that WWE is leaning more towards women’s wrestlers as opposed to the divas.  Likewise, I’m sure if she does well enough, she won’t be put into the bottom three as she’d be at a distinct disadvantage being so new.

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10) Gabi Castrovici (Last Week #10)

Gabi is gorgeous, but unfortunately that is where her good qualities start and end.  Gabi continues to cause drama with the other girls in the house and really bullied Amanda, so much so, that I expected her to be kicked out of the house.  Furthermore, I question how bad Gabi actually wants this as she continues to spend time away from the Barrocks with her husband.  The main part about Gabi though is that she really lacks likability which means that if she’s ever in the bottom three, she won’t get the votes needed to stay.

That’s going to do it for me this week but as always if you disagree with my power rankings, feel free to let me know where I was wrong.  Be sure to catch WWE Tough Enough live tonight on the USA Network at 8Pm EST.


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!