Triple Z celebrates the seventh anniversary of ZWrestleTalk. He dives into three subjects about the wrestling world that he has had on his mind.
Wow, it has been seven years.
Seven years, writing about the world of professional wrestling. I still enjoy writing about pro wrestling. Usually I like writing about the business and how storylines could improve. I also enjoy doing monthly PPV predictions for WWE PPVs. It's honestly weird to think about how long I've been doing this. I've covered a lot over the years. But I have to say this may be the weirdest year in wrestling yet. Let's take a dive into our topics for today.
NXT Should Move to Tuesdays
I use to love NXT on Wednesday nights. I think it is now time for NXT to move to Tuesdays for a couple of reasons.
At the end of the day, if WWE really wants to make NXT, the third brand. It will need a new night without competition so it can finally gain a size-able audience. At the end of the day NXT will make more money for WWE on Tuesday nights instead of facing off with AEW on Wednesdays (just because Vince wants to destroy its competition.)
It makes too much sense. And who cares if Being the Elite makes fun of you and says you retreated. WWE should focus on business decisions that make sense instead of trying to ruin one of its best products in order to compete.
AEW PPV Model
Let's now discuss the other company. After a disastrous ALL OUT PPV, I think it is time to discuss AEW's PPV model. WWE (their main rival) changed the game with the WWE Network. The era of paying $50 for a wrestling show is basically over and it doesn't even matter how much you like AEW. I love the company but it is hard to justify spending $50 on their shows. To be frank, any wrestling company these days even if WWE said they were going to charge $50 for a show I think most fans would be hesitant.
AEW is a company that hypes itself on innovation and being a revolution. Then they need to figure out a better model for them and their fans. Sooner of later this model is going to collapse. So, they simply need to find a better solution.
I think possibly lowering the price could see more overall buys. Instead of this $50 on PPV, maybe you make it $30 on B/R Live or another service. But at the end of the day I think they need to strike a deal with HBO Max. The streaming service is struggling to find its place within the crowded streaming market. If they were to include wrestling PPV's like AEW that could help increase subscribers. They could even charge a price within the app or they could just make it free to the subscribers. This would help AEW solidify its relationship with WarnerMedia especially after the exit of executive Kevin Reilly. This would also help WarnerMedia/HBO Max with sports-centric content for its streaming service. Plus if you're WarnerMedia having the number two wrestling promotion in the world should be a great thing. WWE makes boatloads off a loyal fanbase, if AEW can replicate that this could be lucrative property for them.
Also, this model would be helpful considering your fanbase won't feel like they wasted money if the show ends up sucking. That's why WWE is able to get away with so many duds on PPV's these days because the WWE Network allows them too. To me it is a hard sell to have people buy PPV's during an era where there is little to no audience. AEW needs to make a shift and having more people watch your PPV's should be the goal. I also get they want to make money too but I think they could find a better revenue option in this era.
WWE's Longterm Strategy
Let's finish this article with some quick hits about WWE's longterm strategy.
Well thanks for reading my seventh anniversary post for ZWrestleTalk. It's been fun and it is still fun. Be sure to check out our archives and stay tuned for our PPV predictions coming later this month. More on the way soon!
Triple Z explains how NXT has dropped off since its incredible rise in November to now being on the decline in the pandemic era of wrestling.
NXT was once WWE's hottest brand. It was their best show. It had an underground feel, the best feuds, and stellar matches. Back in November, when the world was normal. NXT won WWE's Survivor Series event. Keith Lee became a megastar, Rhea Ripley was on the rise, Undisputed Era was still strong, and it seemed like the brand was legitimized as a true threat to the main roster.
Now let's fast forward to now. Things aren't so normal for NXT. A lot of NXT talent have overstayed their welcome and are now left with zero creative plans. NXT was built on cycling guys in and out. Once someone got over in NXT or had a title run their next step was the main roster but the "NXT on USA" era has complicated that. Both Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa have been ready to move to the main roster even if they don't want too. Having Gargano and Ciampa fight for the millionth time in NXT left a stain on their incredible rivalry. The final fight was underwhelming and it has resulted in a heel Gargano that doesn't work at all and Ciampa with zero creative plans after jobbing out to NXT's only rising star Karrion Kross.
That was just one of the many reasons NXT has started to lose its luster. NXT wants to compete with AEW but they no longer follow the formula that made it the exciting brand in the first place. Cycling in and out talent makes NXT what it is. Yes, currently the indies don't have any big free agents but NXT is deep enough to continue creating new stars. I mean a prime example of not knowing when to move someone up is Velveteen Dream. He wasn't going to win the big one in NXT yet they kept him down there when in all reality he was main roster ready. Now Velveteen Dream is riddled with accusations and even if he is cleared his career trajectory will never be the same.
NXT's bright spot is its women's division. The women have the ability to carry the show, and it may be the deepest division in all of WWE. That is one thing NXT doesn't have to change. Its tag team division is non-existent. It's clear NXT just doesn't care about tag team wrestling anymore. Maybe they've given up on it entirely after having some NXT teams turn out to be duds. Outside of Karrion Kross and Scarlett. they haven't attempted to make anyone else into that next big NXT star. I believe this is due to the amount of NXT talent that is hanging around too long. You have Finn Balor who wanted to rejoin NXT but his run hasn't made a lot of sense. I don't think his run has benefited him or NXT in general. The only good thing Balor's return has done was making him a cool heel. Johnny Gargano is still there but he isn't the same Johnny Gargano that the fans fell in love with.
I feel like eventually NXT will embrace the cycling in and out again. They did it with Matt Riddle. They knew he was ready and there was nothing left for him so they moved him up. Yes, there is also a downside to the cycling as it sometimes creates issues for the talent who move up too fast. Prime example is EC3 being called up too fast and never doing anything. The NXT to main roster transition is crucial for talent and if it isn't planned out well the results can be disastrous. It may also be a reason why Triple H is holding onto his prospects so tightly.
NXT has some talent that in a normal world, this era of NXT would be headlined by the likes of Dominik Dijakovic (not in the shadow of Keith Lee), Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis, Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, and Kushida. These guys all appear on NXT but they don't appear as the NXT stars like the past generations of NXT. They haven't had the time to really shine yet because there is just too many guys. All of these guys have been underutilized but that's not their fault. It's because NXT stopped their cycling which makes things feel stale after awhile.
Like it's cool to think of NXT as a show with a ton of talent and things should stay fresh right? But that just isn't the case and after awhile that excitement dwindles and people want to see new wrestlers and some of their favorites move on to new things on the main roster.
There is still time for the pivot. NXT could finally move Ciampa, Gargano, and the Undisputed Era up. Have Keith Lee have a swan song against Karrion Kross, and move him up too. I think right now the main roster could always use the talent. NXT just doesn't work as a long term brand for talent. It's a stop in the road. That's what makes NXT different from RAW, SmackDown, and AEW. NXT already has a couple disadvantages when it comes to competing with AEW, and it may get to a point where they are just happy to be stealing eyeballs away from the competition.
Not to mention, not even a heated feud between Pat McAfee and Adam Cole would make NXT better right now. I don't think that would move the needle. Even though Cole's blowup on McAfee was super good. At the end of the day like most wrestling shows during the pandemic I think NXT struggles without the crowd at Full Sail. When you take out the crowd it's just a blank arena. Their competitor on Wednesday nights has the better set-up by far.
I still love NXT so don't get me wrong. I'm also excited to see how the road to NXT TakeOver XXX goes. I just hope we see NXT of old shine through again. It's just sad to watch WWE's once hottest brand fall so flat in order to compete against another wrestling company. It doesn't even matter if NXT wins in the ratings war. I care about the overall show. Keith Lee vs Adam Cole was one of their biggest matches in history but in the end that didn't make us tune in next week or the week after. I still believe in the fact that the only competition NXT should have is WWE itself. This may be the thought of NXT of old but I go by the old adage of "if it ain't broke don't fix it."
The Verbal Brainbuster has finally arrived and boy does that feel great to say! Welcome fans to this returning column, which will be featured weekly right here on ZWrestleTalk. A wide range of topics is covered, from recent updates and questions sent in by readers. It's been a few years since writing this, so please allow for some ring rust.
Now, to answer the question that may be stirring around your mind. Who am I?
You're reading the words of one, Daniel Barker. I am a lifelong professional wrestling fan. In addition to enjoying this highly contagious hobby, I also love writing, so pairing the two together is a dream come true. That being said, I like to shed light on subjects and offer a perspective. There's a side to me that enjoys striking up a healthy debate.
With that introduction out of the way, let us begin.
WWE losing fans? The Clue is in the titles...
This is a topic I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a very long time. I started asking myself a long time ago, about why I found the product increasingly hard not to just enjoy, but maintain an interest.
It does truly cut deep to personally acknowledge that a company that gave so many awe-inspiring moments, has become a source of entertainment that no longer tugs at my interest. It’s not what I want to happen. There are plenty of wrestling fans that feel a similar way and fell off that wagon way before I even contemplated doing so.
The creative process is really an all-encompassing answer. All roads lead to Rome, as it were. Then what really bothered me came to the surface. A simple and yet effective question, what is the point?
You may be thinking if that’s how a person feels, why bother right? If you look at what motivates a wrestler to perform way back when and compare that to today’s product, the passion has almost depleted. It’s a crushing realization because arguably, you have among ‘the’ most talented workers in the business today.
What has contributed to this, in my opinion, is treating championships openly as nothing more than props. The whole title scenery has deteriorated for years, the belt designs themselves becoming increasingly bland and unappealing. Not only is there a lack of character in some respects on screen in some of the wrestlers' personalities, thanks to awful script writing, the prizes they are fighting for look far less appealing.
I love watching a tonne of WWE talent, but over the past few years, only Brock Lesnar has stood as a champion that improved the novelty value to the title he’s held, on the main brands. He doesn’t have a forced gimmick, being a true athlete and accomplished fighter does add legitimacy to the belt. What’s more important, him holding a title served a purpose.
Once upon a time, holding the promotions top tier strap was a mark of respect. That business put their full stock on the champion. Becoming the top dog has meant the world too many credible performers over the years, reducing a large portion of those to tears when earning that spot.
If you delve into the history books, WWE has had plenty of poor representatives in the highest spot. What separates the older times to now, is that the company culture really plugged the importance of these championships constantly. For a fan to witness an undeserving champion, that sparked negative emotion, but that emotion surrounds the championship itself and can be channeled.
I’d like to give Triple H’s world heavyweight title reign that began at Armageddon 2002 and ended at Unforgiven in 2003. To give a quick analysis he represented a main event guy who gradually became overly reliant on his faction. He could defend the gold on his own merit, yet keeping it meant everything to him, and would do anything to ensure nothing changed that.
Triple H grew softer after each victory. After this reign, he’d gotten hungry and ultimately did retain. The point is around this period, it did mean the world to him, being champion.
When a new star broke through the glass ceiling and reached a similar status, it was a cause for excitement. That for the foreseeable future, this man or woman, would remain a key fixture on the show. These days, crowning a new champion comes across as WWE being experimental, and sometimes seen as a knee jerk reaction.
If you would take Jinder Mahal’s reign, how has this really benefited his career in the long run?
What logic or purpose was behind the Fiend dropping the title to Goldberg earlier this year?
Fans get heated when there’s an absence in logic. Back in the day, there were decisions made with a bigger picture waiting in the distance. Like an episodic drama, further details would later provide a reason behind why the creative minds chose that direction.
You’d be right to fire old examples, as a counter-argument. Namely Vince Russo and David Arquette held the WCW World Championships, and that I deny. There is a slight difference between then and now, more people cared back then. You could say, fans remained somewhat hopeful...though a truly testing time.
WWE has purposely degraded the importance of their own titles. As a result, the decisions taint the prestige and devalue its history. These records used to be at the forefront of people's minds. For instance, a mid-card championship would be supported by the announcers listing the future legends in the business that ran amok in that division.
To win become Intercontinental champion would put you in a category with the Rock, Macho Man Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Chris Jericho, and other well-respected personalities. It meant big things were ahead for the titleholder. Unfortunately, this has turned into a position that seems to be just a limitation. That this position is the best a person can hope to achieve.
Less mid-card wrestlers are developed with due care and attention. Less main eventers are promoted up the card after being established properly beforehand. Their time in these roles, as champions, are loosely fitting. This leads to WWE going back into a comfort zone. Going back with former main event stars and giving them far greater exposure.
There’s a strong argument that the reliance of John Cena actually did far more damage than good, in terms of elevating newer attractions. As a sixteen-time champion, you must understand those all happened in the exact same promotion. In his first six years as a main eventer, he held 10 of those titles, the majority for substantial periods.
This pains me to admit, especially as a huge fan of AJ Styles. Every success that man has had in the promotion didn’t stir the emotion I imagined it would. He’s phenomenal and deserves the spotlight, he absolutely does. Truth be known, this is a prime example of knowing the champion holds greater value than the gold he’s holding.
You’re never going to find another AJ Styles, just like you’ll never find another Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid. Those big names did have an advantage, what they chased, to become the best, that was their purpose. As it was the purpose of everyone in shared a locker-room. The moment that notion gets ignored or distorted, a wrestler’s purpose loses meaning, and all your left with is a talented guy that is continued to not be utilized properly. Because if they were utilized properly, those moments would mean a hell of a lot more.
To finish here I have a few questions, for you the reader.
What do you think?
Why don’t you tell me what you think?
Or do you have a question in mind?!
You can contact me at email@example.com, find my new Twitter profile @danielajbarker1 or track my Facebook page @danielajbarker.
Until we meet again next week, take care.
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Triple Z discusses SmackDown moving to FOX, NXT making the jump to USA Network, AEW prepping for its first PPV in the TNT era, and some WWE Draft ideas to hype the product.
Well, ZWrestleTalk is six. That's really something because this site has gone through a lot of changes over the years but one thing remains the same. It will be the place for me and others to share their opinions on the fantastic and sometimes frustrating world of professional wrestling.
Last year I spent a lot of the anniversary post covering ZWrestleTalk. This year we are going to focus on some hot topics instead. It's simply been too long since I've written about wrestling and a lot has happened that I can't always get to in my monthly predictions!
SmackDown on FOX
I'm still super curious to see how this will work. We have heard numerous rumors about SmackDown on FOX. Even that FOX wanted "Attitude Era" WWE for SmackDown. The other rumor was that FOX wanted a sports presentation that felt more cinematic.
Eric Bischoff, the main guy behind WCW, is taking over SmackDown as Executive Director. What changes will Bischoff bring? That remains to be seen. Yet the roles of Heyman and Bischoff will wield more power than previous positions. Please, let's not kid ourselves Vince is doing this so he doesn't have to micromanage shows anymore. He still might but at least on paper he has the creatives who could very well handle their own shows. I honestly don't blame him. Vince doesn't need to do the hustle anymore.
I also have to assume Bischoff will be an on-screen character. He is too good not to use. I think utilizing mainstream talent will be the key for Bischoff's SmackDown. Similar to the SmackDown commercial that showcased a mix of legends and popular superstars. I wouldn't be surprised SmackDown be the home of the mainstream stars like Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair. Granted, these mainstream stars aren't as recognizable as John Cena, Undertaker, The Rock, Rey Mysterio, and Stone Cold but if they have any bit of mainstream pub I'm sure FOX will want them. I give FOX credit for at least attempting to make WWE more mainstream again.
This should also mean that WWE is calling Ronda Rousey to get her on that first SmackDown show. Rousey is still WWE's biggest female star. FOX needs the names. I wouldn't be surprised if they get Brock Lesnar too. WWE is going to need ratings help because the pressure of getting good ratings on FOX will be higher than it was on USA, SyFy, MyTV, etc. I can't imagine FOX cancelling SmackDown but I can see them moving it to FS1 if things ever went south.
The timeslot of the show is 8PM on Friday nights on the main FOX network. The show will remain at two hours and still be live. I like the move to Friday. I think Friday Night SmackDown just works. It will make WWE's television watching schedule more spread out (somewhat). RAW will be on Monday, NXT on Wednesday, and SmackDown on Friday.
SmackDown's success will remain on how different the show can be. The other task at hand. Which is very similar to Tony Khan's goal of AEW will be can the shows attract former fans of pro wrestling and create new fans of pro wrestling? It seems like FOX, USA, and TNT are all betting on WWE/AEW seeing if this turns out to be another wrestling renaissance like the nineties were.
Bigger question remains... Will the set be different? I'm expecting an old school look to compliment that old school hybrid logo.
NXT on USA
NXT moving to USA Network is a calculated move. Is it necessarily a smart move? Yes, obviously from a business perspective it is. From a fan standpoint? It could end up damaging NXT pretty bad. Now that we know the show will stay at Full Sail University. That raises my interest for NXT on USA. The roster right now is absolutely stacked. There is only one issue I see with it.
Will NXT still remain as a true developmental brand? Remember some of these talents aren't ready and it doesn't matter how many indie promotions they were at before. WWE likes their wrestlers to be ready and have the understanding of how WWE runs matches and its production. There is a good chance some people may be overexposed. NXT's roster is deep but how deep will it be once this show really gets rolling. The show has the blessing of keeping wrestlers like Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Velveteen Dream, Io Shirai, Candice Lerae, Undisputed Era, and others. Those talents are ready for the likes of RAW and SmackDown so having them establish NXT will be good. The bigger worry will be when NXT goes through the transition periods. After WWE does a drain of the brand to reload its main shows. What will be left? It's obvious WWE will continue to lock up talent but will it matter if they aren't truly ready? Obviously, the only people appearing on NXT will be people that are ready similar to now but still it will be interesting to see how the brand remains fresh especially when it goes through an inevitable rebuild after WrestleMania 36.
Heck, I feel like the move is very uninspired on WWE's end. This would have been nerve-wracking even without AEW being on Wednesday nights. Why screw a good aspect of the WWE Network over? Why screw up a great aspect of WWE? It makes sense why they are going to USA Network but it does make the WWE Network less special. Even if WWE is pulling a Hulu-like deal with USA where episodes of NXT are available the next day on the network. I get Vince doesn't like competition but he just legitimatized AEW in a big way. WWE fans can twist it but at the end of the day this looks like a panic move from WWE.
Am I looking forward to the new two hour NXT? I mean of course but a part of me still wonders how this move to USA Network will affect NXT TakeOver's. If NXT starts losing its quality and they lose what made that brand special it will be an unforgivable mistake.
AEW Full Gear
AEW will be hosting another PPV event in November. This time it will be the first PPV during the TNT era. Full Gear is going to tell us a lot about AEW's production and its roster. This will be the first time AEW will have to do a go home show before a PPV. It will also mark the first time they get a chance to run a show a couple days after a big event. Something that Double or Nothing could've benefited from.
The one thing I don't understand in their build to Full Gear. Why announce Cody vs Jericho for the championship? This feud has some serious potential. Why just announce it randomly? This could've been built through the weeks of television. Of course, AEW (Cody) backpedaled and said that "the card could change." It very well could but that just creates another issue similar to All Out. Moxley/Omega was going to happen then it was pulled because of Moxley's injury. It would look even worse on AEW if Cody/Jericho is advertised and they pull it without good reason other then that they announced it way too early.
Then again this promotion is trying to be different. It seems like they may want to go the UFC route. Announce championship matches with the top talent. AEW may abandon the whole pro wrestling notion of doing true blue storylines and focus on the records of the talent. Which would take some getting use to but could pay off.
I'm excited for Moxley/Omega at Full Gear. That match has serious potential and we have been waiting for it since Double or Nothing ended. The rest of the card we don't know yet but I would assume we will be seeing The Young Bucks, SCU, newly-signed Santana and Ortiz, Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Hangman Page, and PAC. I would also expect to see Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard raising trouble again, and having MJF take on Spears at the event.
The only thing that AEW is going to run into will be how often will they be running these $50 PPV events. Even though having to pay $50 for a PPV makes it feel like a bigger deal than just flipping on the WWE Network. At the end of the day it is still $50! I wouldn't be surprised if we get a clearer understanding of AEW's PPV model in 2020 because I have a feeling that the current model won't last too long considering you are competing against WWE Network which only costs $9.99 a month. Maybe WarnerMedia digs AEW and puts them on HBO or even HBO Max. That could be intriguing for wrestling fans.
AEW on TNT on Wednesday nights doesn't have a name yet. I think we can all expect it to be called Wednesday Night Dynamite. That's what AEW trademarked even before they announced the company. Although the show will face stiff competition I'm hoping it puts up good ratings and gives us a true number two Wrestling company that we have desperately needed. Hopefully, it's a good enough alternative that it scares the 800 pound gorilla known as WWE.
WWE Draft Ideas
So, WWE is planning a draft to officially kick off the FOX era of SmackDown. The draft will start on SmackDown on October 11 and then it will conclude on the following RAW. WWE has abandoned the draft concept since its latest brand split. Instead they have done the "Superstar Shake Up" which was awful. Now it looks like WWE will be doing a real sports feel for its draft. Here are some simple ideas:
I'm all for WWE going through changes. As it feels like WWE as a whole outside of NXT has really been dragging. Even though WWE is doing well financially it just feels like the entire company hasn't been as entertaining as it should be. I'm hoping with Heyman/Bischoff, FOX, and AEW will help change the way WWE has been.
Well, the next time you'll be hearing from me will be for WWE Clash of Champions which is this Sunday. I'll probably also be back to discuss AEW's first couple weeks of TV. So, keep your eyes open for new posts to the site.
Thanks for reading!
Well, I didn't expect WWE to exactly retaliate against AEW. I mean the latter just started. Certainly, WWE was going to try right?
Nope, I was wrong. What a shame. The show is in a sad state. Yeah, Ricochet/Cesaro was okay but not memorable. Rollins/Zayn are an okay main event but the show as a whole seems bored. The "wild card" rule blurs the lines in a horrible way. "The Firefly Funhouse" is an attempt at doing something different. I personally think it's pretty bad but I know others admire it. The 24/7 Championship has massive potential but the lack of hardcore aspects and the same locations being used is disappointing.
Sami Zayn directly mentioned AEW tonight. Something that we didn't think was going to happen at all on WWE television. That was a shocking highlight. Yet that is a bad sign. When your competitor is mentioned it shouldn't be the most groundbreaking part of the show.
My writer Dom Bouchard has been tweeting up a storm. He's obviously disappointed in the state of the WWE. Here are two of his tweets that got some attention.
Both were liked by who Dom tagged. Dom brought up the point that Kalisto is no longer used as a wrestler and that the luchadors in general are used as cheap jokes. Dom's second tweet basically confirms Road Dogg is going to work in NXT. Which is fantastic news for Road Dogg, as he will be a valuable addition to NXT's creative and development team. If you look at these two tweets it is hard to ignore WWE has morale issues. More for Kalisto than Road Dogg. The locker room isn't feeling appreciated. That's not good especially with the looming threat of AEW.
Overall, RAW's Memorial Day episode was brutally boring. Hey at least we get Brock Lesnar jamming out pretending his briefcase is a boombox? I'm sure SmackDown tomorrow will just be more of the same. The "wild card" rule sucks out all the fun. It really does. I use to get excited to watch SmackDown to see The New Day, Daniel Bryan, Andrade, and others. Now that feeling is gone when you realize RAW stars along with Roman Reigns/Shane McMahon will take up majority of that screen time.
WWE has a lot of time to turn it around though. The FOX deal doesn't kick in until this fall. AEW doesn't start weekly TV until the fall. Will AEW affect WWE's viewership? Unlikely but still a new wrestling product could attract fans of old and new.
As I end this depressing RAW review blog. One question remains for WWE.
How can you make the product exciting and fun again?
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.
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Dom Bouchard gives his top 25 tag teams of all time.
25. Killer Bees
A very underrated team and they were part of the golden era of tag teams.
24. Kendrick and London
The best team in the worst period for tag team wrestling in the WWE. They were fast and very good at double team moves. Lack of charisma killed their push.
23. Wild Samoans
The best heel team of the early years.Wild and aggressive and a very good gimmick.
22. Strike Force
Tito Santana and Rick Martel were a very underrated team. They were fast and coordinated even though they had limited offense. They were pure white meat babyfaces.
21. The Revival
No worries they will keep climbing, they are the absolutely a throwback to a bygone era of old school. They are better athletes than you imagine and they are very good heels.
20. The Bar
Same here, this team is only hitting its prime. Sheamus and Cesaro are also throwbacks and extremely strong and athletic. They are absolutely cool to boo.
19. Brain Busters
Arn and Tully had a very short run in the WWE but they are one of the best teams ever. Double teaming masters and good offense. Great heels all around.
18. Natural Disasters
Earthquake and Typhoon were the biggest team and they were extremely effective heels. Earthquake was a great wrestler.
17. Iron Sheik and Volkoff
Truer heels never existed. They were terrible in the ring but their gimmick back then was captivating enough to keep fans entertained for stories.
16. Tony Atlas and Ricky Johnson
Strong guys and good wrestlers they were very good together. They played their roles perfectly
15. Nasty Boys
Sags and Knobbs were brawlers with a great gimmick and they had a good run, and were really entertaining.
14. Money Inc.
The Million Dollar Man and IRS were very good mat wrestlers and meshed well together. They had a great run and were good heels.
13. Steiner Brothers
Even though they had a short WWE run this is one of the most athletic tag team ever. Scott was a beast, and he went on to have an impressive singles career which spanned from WCW, WWE, and TNA.
12. Dudley Boyz
The ECW team wasn't loaded with talent but they had a good badass look and cool personalities. Their hardcore style and usage of tables lead them to become one of the best tag teams. The Dudley Boyz also have one of the best tag team finishers in the game.
11. Legion of Doom
Sadly they were past their primes. The limited but legendary Road Warriors were not as dominant and intimidating as they were in smaller men territories.
10. The New Day
The most entertaining team of all time and all underrated wrestlers especially Xavier Woods, and they will go down as an all time elite team.
9. British Bulldogs
They came to the WWE and Dynamite Kid was already not as great as before. He was injury prone and the team suffered because of it. They had a good feud with the Hart Foundation then faded a little. They were innovative and exciting. The British Bulldogs were still able to be a top team.
8. Benjamin and Haas
Very good tag team, extremely athletic, and were not used to their full potential. That's why they are eighth on my list.
7. New Age Outlaws
As Brian James said on my podcast. "We never used tag team moves, we didn't dress the same, but still people loved us." They were successful with doing little but achieving a lot. The New Age Outlaws even proved their ageless abilities when they came back for another tag team run.
A badass team with more talent than being given credit for, and a very intimidating look and music.
5. The Hardy Boyz
Jeff at his peak was a wonderful athlete and could do amazing things in the ring. Matt was a solid mat wrestler and they were the best for a long time. Putting on countless classics.
4. Aleister Black and Ricochet
Even in their short period of time I'm convinced if they ever reunite these two singles stars could dominate the tag team division for years to come. They are already one of the best teams to ever do it. They are already on the list because talent wise they have more athleticism than everyone else on the list combined.
3. Hart Foundation
Legendary team and both guys brought something different to the table. They were great at double team moves.
2. Edge and Christian
Hey they could have been my number one but they were my all time favorite heel asshole tag team. Very talented and innovative and that's why they are number two on my list.
1. The Uso's
Jimmy and Jey are now the greatest tag team ever, and they earned it through hard work and flashy moves along with great character development. Since Day One-ish the twins have been awesome.
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Another WrestleMania in the books. The event started at 5PM on the east coast, and it finished early Monday morning. WrestleMania did go smoothly for the most part. Overall the card was really good despite being major predictable. I went 11-5 on my predictions, and that gives me a winning record. Yes, I have been watching wrestling for years so you would expect me to be on the money with predictions but still. It's crazy I had that good of a record.
Being predictable isn't always bad. Yet some of the execution fell flat. Like Brock Lesnar has been a mainstay for years. He lost in such an awkward fashion. Daniel Bryan's match with Lesnar was far better. Brock Lesnar shouldn't be wrestling for two minutes at WrestleMania. I know some fans are glowing that the man who has kept the title hostage is no longer champion. I disagree because that payoff was horrific. Honestly if you wanted a slay the beast angle you just give Finn Balor the title at Royal Rumble.The Lesnar match just was bad, and I do laugh at fans that actually think Lesnar is "sexist" and that he was *actually* mad he wasn't the main event. I feel like these fans try to act smart but then they forget the commentary team doesn't discuss real details. Lesnar could care less about not main eventing. He makes money either way.
The four kickoff matches delivered. Tony Nese winning is cool and 205 Live is becoming WWE's niche brand among the NXT's. Carmella winning the battle royal was a smart call. Still don't know why WWE treats Mickie James so bad. Hawkins and Ryder winning gold again is crazy. Then Braun is going to Braun. Still a lot of guys in that battle royal could've been used in better matches.
AJ Styles taking on Randy Orton was fine. It had potential to be match of the but it didn't quite get there. Orton can still give fantastic performances, and Styles still matches up well and gets the most out of anyone.
The fatal four way for the SmackDown tag team titles was exhilarating due to the amount of talent in that match. Considering most of the talent could've had their own WrestleMania singles matches. A lot of the players in this match will be in more significant roles at WrestleMania 36.
Shane McMahon taking on The Miz was a fun brawl. The Miz losing added an element of surprise. Falls Count Anywhere proves to be a well-done concept especially at WrestleMania. The IIconics won the tag team championships. Hopefully, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce hold the titles until next year. Make the new belts prestigious. This is where I do give WWE props from not putting the titles on Nia Jax and Tamina.
Kofi Kingston finally overcame Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. The match had all the close falls and emotional cues. Kofi Kingston winning the championship was probably the best moment overall at WrestleMania. Not to mention Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan put on the best overall match at the event. It was really one of the only moments where I thought to myself.
"This is something we will remember a couple years from now."
Most of the WrestleMania results were happy. Also, this year's Mania was really good. I wouldn't say it is anywhere near the best ever. Maybe the event will age better with time. Despite the odd predictability. The event did provide some shining moments. Like the Ron Simmons cameo along with the Scott Hall and Kevin Nash segment. Plus the Hall of Fame class was so good this year that segment was fun to watch.
Now back to the rest of the card. Samoa Joe put Rey Mysterio to sleep. Poor Rey didn't deserve that. WWE should've called an audible. Have Samoa Joe face off with someone else. Then we got Roman Reigns vs Drew McIntyre which was fine with the ten minutes it got. I think fans were still reeling from Kofi that these next two matches were going to be whatever either way.
Now the match of Batista and Triple H was fantastic. I get fans wanted it to go faster because there was a lot left on the card. I didn't care. This was a complete story. Batista came back and attacked Ric Flair. In the match they lived up to the "No Holds Barred" standard. Which is crazy to think that all the older guys do hardcore stuff (Shane, Batista, and HHH) and none of the younger guys do hardcore stuff. The match was a fantastic finale for Batista's epic career.
Baron Corbin beat Kurt Angle. Which ended Angle's illustrious career. I guess Kurt Angle follows the dumb "go out on your back" tradition that I hate. Corbin has gained a big win on his resumè.
Finn Balor taking on Bobby Lashley was truly whatever. It's sad to see the lack of care for The Demon character. It's also sad that match we have seen on RAW and countless pay-per-views was on the card at WrestleMania.
The Main Event
Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Ronda Rousey were the main event of WrestleMania. Even though the ref got the punishment. They botched the ending of the match. It was just terrible psychology. If Becky was suppose to end the match with Rousey tapping out a la to Daniel Bryan tapping out Batista. They shouldn't of attempted that cover. The poor ref went too fast, and it ruined the big moment. The rest of the match was alright. It wasn't earth shattering by any means.
The match was alright. It could've been better. Overall it was a fun main event despite starting at midnight.
WrestleMania 35 was a charismatic event despite being way too long. It had few memorable moments. Overall, it was good event but on the scale of WrestleMania it feels smalls. Maybe WWE is over doing it and that's why WrestleMania felt less special. The matches were good. Some of the booking wasn't as smart and WWE has the most stacked roster in the world yet they aren't utilizing it to its full potential. My favorite matches were easily Kingston/Bryan, HHH/Batista, and Miz/Shane. The key point is that storylines matter. That's why Rollins/Lesnar wasn't as exciting because the story was non-existent. We can even make the same argument that the main event forgot what made it the main event.
WrestleMania 35 was a successful and grand watch despite being too long and forgetting what made WrestleMania special. Hopefully, WrestleMania 36 can continue the success of Mania but adjusting the overall approach. More storytelling and less matches would benefit the event. Make every match important and make every match feel like a dream match.
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Dom Bouchard ranks his current top 50 wrestlers within WWE's sprawling empire. Including NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live talent.
50. Trent Seven
As a member of Moustache Mountain with the amazing Tyler Bate. Seven is a great underrated, seasoned veteran with a flair for the babyface in peril that is lost on many of today's young stars.
49. TJP (TJ Perkins)
Even though TJP has been released from WWE. I felt the need of including him on my top 50. One of the best wrestler in the world in my opinion. A technical wizard that is also super fast. It is a shame he was never on NXT tearing it up with Ricochet and Johnny Gargano.
48. Chad Gable
Definitely one of the best pure athlete in the world, and Gable is a suplex master. He is able to fight from underneath and has great charisma.
47. The Miz
Yes, on the promo side he is top 5, but as a wrestler he is way better than some people say. He is safe, reliable, and has great timing. A guy you can count on to raise his game when it counts.
46. Braun Strowman
The big guy is getting better. He still has a limited move set, but he is so believable as a strong monster that it compensates for any shortcomings. He is way better than Big Show ever was.
45. Shinsuke Nakamura
The enigmatic Nak is a guy who could be so much better, but he has a very bad work ethic and his saving grace is his extraordinary charisma and theme song. The most limited move set I have seen in recent memory.
The dude has it all. Charisma, strength ,and talent. If he is taken seriously and used as more than just comic relief he has the potential to be a world champion. He has a very good move set and can be a heel or a face.
43. Cedric Alexander
One word to describe Cedric Alexander is spectacular. This kid has all the tools to become a main event babyface. A run on NXT would do wonders to help him get more recognition. He can fight, fly, and is an all around 5 star performer.
42. Jordan Devlin
Devlin is from NXT UK. This Irish bruiser has a chip on his shoulder and he is one of the most believable wrestler in the world. He has the ring savvy and the looks to become a very good upper mid carder.
41. Xavier Woods
A very underrated young athlete, Xavier can fly and is a strong man. He could be a 205 megastar or remain tag champ with Big E.
The Celtic Warrior is a Hall of Famer who gets better with age. His move set is unbelievable, and his strength is out of this world. His brogue kick is absolutely devastating He is also very cool and charismatic.
The big has all the tools to become WWE Champion. All he needs is the chance to prove it.
38. Dean Ambrose
The lunatic fringe is a great workhorse and he has to rediscover his passion. When he is on, only a few can match Ambrose's intensity.
The huge WALTER is a very impressive athlete that really has the talent to be the new monster in the WWE. He is agile and his chops are so stiff, it hurts just looking at them.
36. Brock Lesnar
A freak athlete who seems to still be on top of his game. Limited offense but he is so unique and every match is must see. His biggest strength is his selling. A future WWE Hall of Famer.
35. Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston is like wine he just gets better with age. He is the ultimate professional. Highly athletic and deceptively strong. He deserves a world title run and a main event push.
34. The Revival
Both these guys brought back old school tag team wrestling. They are surprisingly fast and their offense is awesome. They have the best tag team finisher. They are also strong promo guys. Top guys.
33. Matt Riddle
This guy is a future WWE world champion. His unique style and extraordinary mat skills are out of this world bro.
32. Kassius Ohno
The most underrated wrestler in the world. Kassius Ohno is absolutely amazing. His strikes are so believable. He can move well for such a big guy and can sell extremely well too.
31. Apollo Crews
Too easy. This man is so talented, and it is scary. He can fly and throw you into the tenth row. A freak athlete missing one key ingredient and that's charisma. Give him Lio Rush, and this man will soar to greater heights.
30. Adam Cole
Cole is a very good athlete. His biggest assets are his charisma and selling. Offense is a different story. If he wants to get to the top as a WWE champion. He will need to add to his superkicks.
29. Sami Zayn
The underdog is a wonderful wrestler. He is an artist. He can fight all styles and no one sells like he can. He has a very great arsenal of moves.
28. Bray Wyatt
The eater of worlds is a very good athlete. Deceptively fast and strong, He can move well for such a big man. His promo skills are amazing and he has all the tools to add a few more WWE title reigns to his resumè.
27. Randy Orton
The RKO and great facial expressions along with his all-time charisma levels. Randy is winding down a very good career but he is still able to perform at a high level. His WrestleMania match with AJ Styles may be one of his bests. As Orton faces another indie darling.
26. Bobby Lashley
This is a freak athlete that can be WWE champion.The strength he has is unbelievable and he is also very good at selling. Lio Rush covers his one weakness and that is charisma.
25. Roderick Strong
This man is the master of backbreakers and suplexes. Determined, fast, persistent, and a very underrated performer.Roddy will be a future NXT champion.
24. AJ Styles
AJ is still a world class wrestler but he is getting slower every match. He is still a unique talent who can fight any kind of opponents. His best days are behind but he can still go with the best of them.
The Swiss Superman is the best pure athlete along with Seth Rollins. He is strong ,fast, versatile, and can go at a fast pace without missing a step. Cesaro is the ultimate pro and he deserves so much more.
22. Kevin Owens
KO is the best promo guy in the WWE. He is even better than Paul Heyman. In the ring the big guy is unique and his frog splash and pop up power bomb are awesome finishers.He will thrive as a babyface.
21. Tony Nese
Okay some people will say what? But hear me out, this guy is the complete package. He has the physique, charisma, strength ,and he can fly like Kalisto. He can become an Intercontinental champion one day.
20. Big E
He is a future WWE champion. Big E is strong, fast, and charismatic. He will dominate for years.
19. Rey Mysterio
He is better than he ever was. This man is amazing. He is an ultimate pro, and he will go down as one of the greatest ever. He can still fly and wrestle as good as anyone.
18. Roman Reigns
He doesn't do much but what he does he does well. He is a strong athlete and all he needs is to add to his arsenal. It gets old after a while. Still can be a world champion. I still think he needs some improvements.
17. The Uso's
The twins are the best tag team ever and individually are two amazing athletes. They are strong, extremely fast, and can fly like cruiserweights.
16. Aleister Black
This man is so unique, and he will be a main event act for years to come. His unique offense and kicks are devastating. His fade to black kick is the new RKO.
15. Buddy Murphy
He was the best kept secret in WWE. Now the word is out and The Juggernaut is a force to be reckoned with. Murphy's finisher is out of this world, and he has scary good potential.
14. Tyler Bate
The big strong boi is an amazing athlete and is only 22 years old. There is no limit for Tyler. He can be the most dominant wrestler of the next 15 years.
13. Velveteen Dream
The kid is the future of the WWE. The most charismatic athlete since The Rock, he has skills. Promo skills and an aura that makes him unique. Watching him is an experience. If he rounds up his offense a little more, he will be the best in the world.
12. Samoa Joe
This big man has all the tools to dominate WWE. He is a master at promos and he can fight any style. He is the complete package.
11. Drew McIntyre
An absolute monster of a man. His offense is second to none, and he can dominate against all kinds of opponents.He will be WWE champion soon.
10. Kyle O'Reilly
This is a one of a kind athlete that can dominate for years. He is a striker and a master of submissions who can elevate his game if he goes solo. Future NXT champion.
9. Mustafa Ali
Sky is the limit for this young athlete. He is a tremendous high flyer with a wonderful arsenal of moves. His promo skills are getting better too. His selling is top notch.
The one and only is a once in a generation athlete. He is almost superhuman. If he adds more charisma and more mat wrestling he will be the most dominant WWE wrestler of the next 10 years.
7. Johnny Gargano
Johnny Wrestling is the best fight from underneath wrestler in the world, and he keeps adding to his already good repertoire of moves. He is a good promo guy too.
Yes he may have lost the name "Cien Almas" but he hasn't lost his world elite talents. He will be WWE champion many times. The man has everything.The look, talent, and the manager.He is next level.
5. Finn Balor
The extraordinary man is an extraordinary wrestler and he will be WWE champion soon. He has everything. He is so fast and his offense is crisp and awesome. He can sell his ass off and he has charisma.
4. Tommaso Ciampa
This man is NXT. He is the face that runs the place. The best heel in the business and a wonderful wrestler. His move set varies and he is also very quick.
3. Daniel Bryan
The evil vegan is a master of the ring. No one is as passionate as Daniel Bryan, no one.He can still perform at a high level. He is a mat technician and a skilled high flyer.
2. Pete Dunne
This kid is a next level athlete who has a unique look and the best offense of any wrestler in the world. He is a stiff striker and can fly with the cruiserweight's. The future is now with the bruiserweight. Dunne should be the first from NXT UK to be on the main roster.
1. Seth Rollins
The Kingslayer and future Beastslayer is without a doubt the man in the WWE. The best athlete, the best wrestler, reliable and he's a workhorse. He is a great babyface and can sell like a champ. He is the face of the WWE for the next few years.
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ZWrestleTalk columnist Amanda Vila examines Dean Ambrose.
The rumors surrounding Dean Ambrose are interesting, to say the least. For several weeks now the rumor mill (and WWE itself) indicated that Dean Ambrose would be gone from WWE after WrestleMania. The man was not renewing his contract, no matter how much money they'd throw at him, and that left him to be a free agent.
The prospect of this man moving to AEW was definitely something I was looking forward to. He's a unique character in that it's impossible to force a certain character trait to his name; much like Becky Lynch or Kevin Owens.
When they're allowed free reign is when they do their best work and become the most appealing version of themselves for the WWE audience.
Forcing the Lunatic Fringe angle on Dean post-SHIELD, and this new Bane-esque villainy did not do the man any favors. Personally I think it hindered him. He was best in the SHIELD and for some time after the breakup (plus his run as champion on SmackDown) when they weren't forcing him to be an absolute lunatic. When he just did what seemed to work best: a silly, sassy smart ass that really liked to hurt people, was more entertaining.
Now the rumors of Dean leaving are disappearing as a result of Roman's return.
As much as I'd miss Dean in the WWE and the prospect of a SHIELD reunion at any moment, I feel like this could be another downfall. Unless WWE were to give him a run that doesn't hinder his character and were to provide a compelling story, it would be okay. But now we'll miss out on all of the possible feuds and stories to take place in AEW.
Ultimately, I just want a good run for Ambrose.
And someday Cesaro as WWE Champion before he retires, but that's a conversation for another day.
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ZWrestleTalk writer Dom Bouchard gives 20 quick fixes for WWE.
20. Stop toilet humor
It wad outdated 20 years ago, it is way worse today. Vince's outdated and out of touch fetishes, needs to be put to rest like his grip on the company.
19. Rotation of top guys
We do not need to see AJ Styles on every ppv, but it would be fun to see Heath Slater or Tye Dillinger once in a while and have performers rotate at the top of men and women's division. Rusev having a main event run? Finn or Bray having a world title run? That would keep things fresh and keep people watching as you would never know what would happen week to week. Making wrestling must see TV.
18. Be creative with storylines
You can build feuds around championships but also around Twitter wars or personal vendettas or frustration. Having a guy like Mojo Rawley attack Seth Rollins out of frustration of not being on television and seeing Seth as a chosen one. Be creative, by keeping everyone relevant
17. Give Smackdown and Raw a makeover visually
Both shows have looked the same for 20 years. Freshen things up. New logos, new lights, and new entrance ramp. New layout of the ring entrance. Make it visually different.
16. Give tag team wrestling more exposure
Enough said. Gallows and Anderson, Sanity, Ascension and so many teams shouldn't have to do nothing. Use them and they will reward WWE by making the shows better.
15. Women tag team division
Read the above. Same goes for this division when it becomes a thing.
14. More managers
Performers like Apollo Crews, Naomi, and TJP could sure use it. Utilize Drew Gulak, Alicia Fox, Heath Slater and maximize their mic skills and use them to help those who don't have a lot of charisma.
13. Less talk
Well. A lot less talk, it is still called wrestling right?
12. No more authority figures
It kills the show, it kills ratings. Not to mention it can also kill careers. Just like Baron Corbin.
11. Keep using General Managers like Paige and William Regal
They are not overbearing, and they are good at what they do. They act fair, and it's believable.
10. More creative freedom
Best example is Becky Lynch on the positive side of being allowed to be yourself. Worst example is Ronda and Roman Reigns .Being over-scripted kills your ability to look authentic.
9. More interactions betweens shows
A good thing that happened lately is seeing Mustafa Ali on SmackDown. It was exciting and it gave him exposure. It helped Daniel Bryan make a new star in the process. WWE can do the same with Bianca Belair, TJP, and Keith Lee.
8. Use NXT UK stars
Guys like Wolfgang and The Coffey Brothers could be used to invade Raw or NXT.
7. Let Michael Cole and Tom Phillips talk like normal human beings
Not like scripted corporate robots. Cole can be really great when he's got freedom.
6. Incorporate social media posts on WWE
People like Rusev ,Becky Lynch,Kevin Owens ,Xavier Woods and Sheamus are so entertaining on Twitter and Instagram. Show everyone and it will increase their exposure and help them get more creative freedom and even help the creative team to find cool ideas to incorporate it into their feuds or programs.
5. More big fight feels to big matches
Present big matches as big deals and people will see it as big deals. Matches like Ronda vs Becky or Daniel Bryan vs AJ styles should be presented like money matches. See them prepare in the weeks leading up to the match.
4. Let the performers have fun
When wrestlers enjoy what they do we feel it. It makes the show feel genuine and exciting. Rusev by being able to be himself and use his charisma would make people love him even more. Same thing with New Day. Xavier is such a funny and charismatic man, let him use his wit and cool personality to shine through.
3. Let the creative team have more creative freedom
A lot of writers can come up with exciting and out of left field ideas. Don't be afraid to try new things.If one idea flops, it is not the end of the world.It beats repetition and boredom.
2. Make NXT available for main roster wrestlers..
Guys like Tyler Breeze going back to NXT ,or a veteran like Randy Orton going to NXT to teach those kids a lesson would make interesting television. Or a team like Ascension go back find themselves and make it a storyline. Where did it all go wrong kinda storyline?
1. Give wrestlers a few months off a year on rotation
That would keep everyone fresh and help with the injury problems. And with such a deep roster it is truly possible to do it. WWE does not rely on one guy anymore. It is a team effort.
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Creator of ZWrestleTalk. This page I give you my thoughts on the current state of the WWE product. I look back at the history of WWE. Sometimes even predict the future. If your lucky you get comedic articles too.