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The Things That Stop Me Sleeping

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Shane McMahon

I often get stuck on things. Little issues I should be able to overlook but will instead keep me up all night. My inability to let things go combined with nothing that could be interpreted as ‘a life’ means I need to find a way to get them out. Welcome, to my low rent therapy.

‘Super’ Shane


Here comes the money!

I honestly don’t mind Shane McMahon. It’s nice to have an authority figure, if we really must have one, that isn’t a dick for the sake of it. The crowds seems to like him as well as can be expected. He’s comfortable on the mic. There are a lot of reasons why his reappearance in the WWE in 2016 has been a positive.

But, and it is a major but, I hate seeing him compete in matches. Straight out of the gate, Shane has the weakest looking punches in wrestling. They are so bad I feel for the person reduced to selling them. I have a friend who is very much not into wrestling but watched in the 90’s. Whenever we get into it, his go to moment to try and prove wrestling to be ridiculous is Jeff Jarrett air swinging at Terry Funk in WCW. I’m convinced more than ever that Shane throws worse punches. Whilst AJ Styles is a well-known varied striker, I’ve never thought of him as someone possessing meaty punches. His assault on Shane that culminated in a car window spot seemed so much more vicious than the inevitable announce table spot when Shane got his revenge this week. And it was mostly down to the punches.

Punching isn’t my only issue though. At back to back Wrestlemania’s, Shane McMahon will have fought The Undertaker, one of the legends of WWE, and the business as a whole, and then AJ Styles. If you don’t view AJ as the best in the world, he will most likely be part of the sentence that you use to explain your top choice. (e.g.…..I think Kazuchika Okada is just a bit better than AJ Styles because…..Curt Hawkins just edges out AJ Styles for me due to…etc.) For perspective, at WM31, Cena beat Rusev for the US title, missed WM32 and will be in a mixed tag, when he will likely propose after winning at WM32.

I have a bit of an issue with the part-timers taking the top spots but I can see the merits. I can see the plus sides of Shane competing right up until the moment the bell rings. I know people like his matches, hence why they get excited for them, but I can’t take them. I can’t help thinking that if you knew you were going to have a match at a PPV, maybe some training? I thought that at Wrestlemania 15, when Shane McMahon beat X-Pac to retain the European championship. Seventeen years later, and the wrestling skill still isn’t there. This is fine, for a part time authority figure. No one expects him to be, well, AJ Styles, but people react to him like a wrestling god walks amongst us. This is due to Shane compensating for his technical prowess, or lack thereof, with insane bumps. All well and good, all make for exciting moments, but they always stick in my head for the wrong reasons. It’s fine to let Kurt Angle suplex you through the stage panels. Its completely acceptable to let Steve Blackman knock you off of the Summerslam scaffolding. Call it Coast to Coast and we’ll pretend it’s not called the Van Terminator. Go nuts jumping off the Hell in a Cell. But spare me the ‘daredevil’ crap. These things happen because Shane didn’t wrestle the night before and sure as hell ain’t gonna perform on the house show the next day. It’s easy to steal the show when you don’t have to worry about the next one.

WM15 featured this battle of the raven hairs

And that is the general point of my Shane annoyance. The thunder stealer. No matter the feud, it’s all about ‘Super’ Shane. Remember 2003. Kane unmasked. He turned on his tag partner, he set JR on fire, he freaking tombstoned Linda McMahon! They guy was on an evil tear the likes of which we hadn’t seen for a long while. Yet it was Shane O’Mac that stepped up, drained all the momentum out of the monster and quite frankly ruined the payoff to the unmasking that had been a long time coming. But WWE really wants you to believe he’s a badass, so it happened.

The match will likely be good. The Phenomenal One isn’t a nickname, it’s a statement of fact. I can’t imagine a bad Wrestlemania match with him in it. He even recently came out saying he’s looking forward to the challenge. But I, and I imagine you can as well, can imagine so many that would have been better. However all of this, all of this could have been pushed to the side and ignored this week if it wasn’t for the perception of Shane put out all across Smackdown this week. We are now to believe that AJ Styles, the man who can confidently claim to being what put Smackdown Live on the map, the man who was champion for a large chunk of the year, the Ace of the blue brand, this man; arguably the best in the world, he has ‘bit off more than he can chew’ by challenging a 47 year old, non wrestler, on air authority figure. What does that say for the rest of the roster that AJ comfortably competes against and defeats? Is the Smackdown locker room thanking their lucky stars that Shane doesn’t regularly compete? Does everyone slightly lower their head when he walks past, not because he’s the boss but because they fear those punches? I get trying to sell a match but are you fucking kidding me? Shane being foolhardy and accepting the challenge of the frustrated best in the world would have been an acceptable way to get to ‘Mania and would not have managed to piss all over the current roster. My suspension of disbelief is amazing and my ability to tolerate bullshit is second to none, but AJ doesn’t want none? Are you fucking serious? Here’s hoping for a Hollow Point Piledriver.

 

Nia Jax’s entrance theme

I expected the Raw Women’s match to be a four way. I still expect the other three to team up against Nia to get her out of the way. (Still crossing fingers for an elimination match.) The Raw women’s roster is highly talented but low on numbers. This all made sense, even if they did go the long way of getting there. I’m looking forward to it. But Lord help me, Nia’s entrance music irritates me.

Has great all-round eye game in fairness

I’m really fussy on entrance music, whether it suits a competitor, whether it’s good in general as a song on its own merits, if it’s any good for victory music after the match, etc. (See Sami Zayn winning the NXT title, his music fit the occasion beautifully.) Nia’s just doesn’t sit right with me. When it plays on Raw, I always think it’s claims of not being like most girls sound more apologetic than boastful. I’ve listened to it on YouTube just to see if it’s the association and whilst not a big fan of the song, it’s not the worst I’ve ever heard, but it sounds very ‘anti-diva’. This would have been great a few years ago. It would have suited Kharma’s gimmick really well. Nia hasn’t had that much development on screen but why does she need proclamations of not being like most girls and snide remarks about plastic princesses? Music is a herald of the competitor, it’s supposed to let you know about the person walking the aisle. Nia’s could be anyone’s from the Kelly Kelly era that wasn’t as long ago as I would like.

Why can’t she be a monster? Samoa Joe, Lesnar, Strowman, none of them are sorry for who they are. Aggressive and feminine, why can’t someone have lush hair and obliterate her opponents? Why can’t her music be a statement of the impending doom making its way to the ring? I quite like Nia Jax so far. She stands out naturally. It warmed my heart to see an effective leg drop win a match. She’s not someone’s muscle. And most importantly, she’s getting better all the time. What’s not to like? I just wish she was clearly defined. And that that definition excluded her current entrance theme. At this time, I’d be happier if she used Mark Henry’s theme rather than her current one. (Some Bodies Gonna Get It, not Sexual Chocolate.)

 

Impact’s old tricks

I haven’t watched TNA/Impact for a long time. It always felt like watching the reverse version of NXT. With the exception of a grossly underrated Bully Ray main eventer and the emergence of EC3, there was very little to like in recent years. And so I gave up. There’s so much wrestling content these days that something has to give.

The reason I bring it up is due to an issue on the recent show on Thursday, but not for anything joyous. It seems Impact is still doing the same old thing and has not evolved. The Rebel vs. ODB should have just been a solid reintroduction for one of the more charismatic female talents the company has in ODB. In truth, what will be remembered is Earl Hebner’s sexual assault.

Smarter people than me can explain the sexual assault part of this segment. (@wrestlingsexism helps a lot). Make no mistake, its sexual assault. That’s what forcing yourself on a person is. Whether it was Earl on Rebel, or ODB on Earl. Two wrongs don’t make a right; you’re just wrong twice, which shows you don’t learn.

But what bothered me just as much was the presentation of the women in the division in this one, poorly thought out moment.  Earl Hebner is an old, frail looking man. Come main event time, a burp from the 3rd row is enough to take him out long enough for all manner of wrongdoings to occur. But a trained female competitor was overpowered? Not exactly the best way to inspire belief in a new era. Wrestlers, male or female, should not be physically at the whim of a ref.

It wasn’t right when Flair did it to Becky Lynch to help Charlotte defend her title and that guy is known for kiss stealing. Impact needs to re-evaluate their presentation of their women, and what they find funny, if they really want the division to be taken seriously.

 

Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania

One on one for the IC Strap

Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin are set to go one on one for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania. The IC strap has always been a bigger deal to me than it seems to be for WWE. And I know I’m not alone in this. One of my favourite matches for it was at WM15, which was the first one I stayed up live to watch. My best friend and I downed all the Lucozade we could muster and dabbled with a foot spa to stay awake but it remains one of my favourite wrestling memories, and the 4way for the intercontinental title remains one of the reasons why.

The last singles match for the Intercontinental title was at Wrestlemania 29 so I’m very happy to see it back to being a one on one match, rather than the ladder match showpiece. The feud itself hasn’t been great but I have hope. Since I saw Dean Ambrose walk into the Elimination Chamber with the belt around his waist, I assumed Corbin would be coming for it. I thought, and still think, that they could do a lot for both characters by having Ambrose win the match but have Corbin take the title in a fight at the next Smackdown PPV. More can be made by Ambrose having to rise to a new challenge of being a crafty ring vet by comparison, and Corbin could gain a lot from beating the crazy, scrappy Ambrose in a battle, if not the war.

I was very excited when this was first pointed too. So far the build has been lukewarm, and the forklift segment was a bit underwhelming. Corbin dragging a battered Ambrose out by his shirt is one of my favourite moments of the year, and could have been even better if Ambrose had not mounted a minimal fightback. I love the broken hero, from an off-screen attack. Especially when the hero in question is one known for his ability to brawl and his resiliency. It makes the villain look badass and also creates doubt for the upcoming match.

Last year, Corbin announced himself on the main roster with an Andre Memorial battle royal win. This year he could win the IC strap, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if he did. A pretty steady yet high profile first year for a talent the company clearly sees a long term future in. Which brings me to my main concern with this match. People need to see it. It needs to be on the main show, not the pre-show.

Wrestlemania is stacked, at least in terms of volume. If the Uso’s get their hall pass, that would make it 13 matches on the card. 9 or 10 is the average in the modern age. Considering what some matches will have allocated for match length, plus add in the likely Triple H vs. Seth Rollins angle/match and that’s a long card. Something has to give. I really don’t want it to be the IC title match. Wrestlemania is always better with an Intercontinental title match. Ambrose and Corbin could put one a great show, that could only be the start in the series that could do wonderful things for both characters. I’m hoping it’s given enough time, in a proper place on the main card.

Big things planned for the Lone Wolf

 

And now for something else

I’m a man who lives for moments. Individual pieces that stand out on a show. Yes, I’d love a thoroughly brilliant show from start to finish, but I’ve learned to find my joy elsewhere. When I was talking about WM15, I was considering such moments this year. Wrestlemania always throws another one my way but so far this year, a few stick out in my mind. Austin Aries finally back in a ring. Seth Rollins ‘mic dropping’ his crutch. Bayley winning the women’s title. Bray Wyatt capturing the WWE title. But none stand out more than this:

Check the emotion on his face as he comes out, letting it wash over him before getting to business, the crowd chanting along. These are the kind of things that help me sleep at night.

Want to agree, disagree, comment, rant, or share your own sleeping solutions? Feel free to comment below or @HeneghanCiaran or [email protected]

 

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Match Of The Month: The Top 10 WWE Matches (February, 2021)

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Last month I kicked off a new feature, where I run down the 10 best WWE matches of the month from across all shows and PPV events. January saw some very good matches take place (which you can check HERE), but the month of February actually saw that stepped up a notch.

So, without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at what my top 10 matches for February were in the world of WWE.


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AEW

Break It Down: Ranking Every Major Wrestling TV Show (Week #7)

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Break It Down

It’s Sunday, you know what that means. As ever, it is time to Break It Down, as we take a detailed look back on the last week of wrestling, taking a look at what has worked, and what has fallen short, in what’s been another action-packed set of shows.

As ever, there have been some highlights and lowlights, but there have been some brilliant matches throughout the week which have kept fans entertained. But which of the shows was the true standout?


WWE RAW

WWE Raw continued in its recent tradition of being a very long three-hour show, and while certain moments worked, and were enjoyable, there are too many moments that simply don’t work. The Miz TV opening segment wasn’t exciting, but it does make sense on his behalf to pull out of the Elimination Chamber.

The six-man tag team match featuring The Hurt Business against Riddle and Lucha House Party was a very average match, and the Lacey Evans announcement renders that recent storyline fairly pointless. It’s not been a great story anyway, and the fact a tag team match had Asuka as a bit-part player just showcases where the women’s division is at right now.

Kofi Kingston and The Miz did have a nice match against each other, which was great to see, but the overwhelming positive of this show was the gauntlet match. It’s a stipulation WWE typically does very good at, and this was no different.

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WWE Network Recap: ‘WWE The Day Of’ Royal Rumble 2021

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The following is a recap of the new ‘WWE The Day Of’ special that dropped on the WWE Network (LINK) today, taking us behind the scenes of the 2021 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view. 

The show opened with classic clips of Pat Patterson talking about how much everyone loves the Royal Rumble and the process behind how he came up with the match. “We’re always trying to be creative and do something that’s never been done.” He had to convince Vince McMahon that it was going to work as he didn’t initially believe it was viable. Patterson also told a story about “Nature Boy” Ric Flair coming through the curtain in ’92 after winning the world title “crying like a baby” and hugging him.


Edge and Christian were shown arriving at the ThunderDome for the 2021 Royal Rumble. They actually shared a dressing room for the show, I imagine for the first time since Edge retired.

Edge talked about the Rumble being based in fan interaction and the challenges of adapting to the pandemic. Now there’s a lot of going out and trying something, then going back and looking on social media to see the reactions and if it worked.

Christian said he’s been asked for years literally everywhere he goes if he’ll ever wrestle another match. Until six months ago he genuinely thought the answer was no, and didn’t like the idea that the last time fans ever saw him would be that segment where Randy Orton punted him.

Damian Priest said the Royal Rumble was his favorite WWE event of the entire year going back to watching as a little kid. “It’s the dream, man. I think part of the process of achieving your dreams is just making it to the company. … In NXT I was one in the back thinking I don’t know if I belong here sometimes, because there’s so much talent, and I don’t know if I can hang. But I figured out a way to belong, and a way to excel. That’s my goal here.”

Shane Helms was asked if he was nervous coming back, but said he was never a person to get a lot of nerves before a big moment. He talked about being a backstage guy now and enjoying every opportunity he has to help someone achieve their goals, but when he sees that ring or walks into the arena there’s a little voice in the back of his head going “you can do it one more time!” Helms said he was okay if his in-ring career ends in the Royal Rumble because it’s his favorite event of all time.

Bad Bunny was shown rehearsing his song with Booker T, which they apparently did in one take. He met various Superstars backstage including Charlotte Flair, who talked about being able to understand Spanish but getting super nervous trying to speak it in front of people. Bunny admitted he was the same with English.

Torrie Wilson said the best part about coming back is seeing all her old friends and the people she watches on TV now. She was really excited to get in the ring with Bianca Belair, calling her a “badass”.

Carlito didn’t know what to expect as obviously this year’s Rumble was very different than any before it, but he was excited to make his walk down a WWE ramp for the first time in ten years. They showed footage of him winning the Intercontinental Championship. “I’m excited to mix it up with the young ones, the old-timers, everybody. It’s what I came for, to compete with everybody. I’m proud to be one of the surprise entrants. Hopefully some people will be happy about it, and some will remember who I was.”

Victoria opened up about her doubts and the pressure she put on herself to be perfect and have an amazing match. She said she was very nervous to meet all the new girls in the locker room, but they were very warm and nice to her and she seemed to be having a great time visiting.

Seth Rollins reiterated that the Rumble is the most fan-interactive WWE event of the year, so he hoped they were able to connect with the fans and bring them something exciting, as well as keep up the energy for the performers in the ring who don’t have live fans to feed off.

Ember Moon said a lot of the same things we’ve already heard but you can tell she’s such a huge fan and is serious when she talks about wanting to headline WrestleMania since she was a kid, watching her favorites point at the sign after winning the Royal Rumble year after year.

An awesome video package recapped the Women’s Royal Rumble match with all the important moments, surprise entrants and eliminations until it came down to the final three.

An emotional Montez Ford was shown backstage watching Bianca Belair win the match. When she came back through the curtain all the producers and women in the match gave her a standing ovation and chanted “EST! EST!” but she went straight to Montez and as she said, “sat in that moment together”.

Bianca also had a moment with Triple H where he hugged her and told her that he believed in her, and that “this is only the first step.” She also spoke to Ric Flair who congratulated her with a big smile on his face and when she admitted she didn’t know what to do next, he said, “This is the real deal. It’s like winning the Super Bowl. You enjoy it.”

Big E paid tribute to Brodie Lee as they showed off the special New Day gear they were all wearing in his memory. Xavier Woods showed the different Brodie poses they had and explained them to Ruby Riott. Big E had to walk off camera, and Woods broke down nearly crying and said “I just miss my friend….”

Much like the women’s match, they ran a video package recapping the highlights from the Men’s Royal Rumble match, interspersed with comments from the performers throughout.

An emotional Edge talked about winning the match and how important it was for him to do it on the same night that his best friend Christian returned, just like him, after being told he would never wrestle again.

“It means a lot. I assumed this was all done. If you had told me four years ago that I would be in the Royal Rumble, going in first and winning it to go to WrestleMania… I still feel like I need to pinch myself. Next to my family, that means the most to me.” … “If you wrote this as a script for Hollywood they’d say it was impossible, that it could never happen. Yet here we are. I don’t get it, and I think I’m going to stop trying to get it, and just enjoy it. It’s happening, and it’s awesome.”

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