I would like to point out that prior to yesterday’s post, I had Randy Orton as a member of the team. So I’m going to give myself at 95% correct score on calling Team Smackdown. After making my initial prediction and follow-up updates, I was surprised that so many other predictions on other sites excluded Baron Corbin. It’s understandable that they would exclude him in favor of big draws like John Cena, but with people knowing Cena would be out during this time period, it’s crazy that people still went with Luke Harper or Kane. But seriously. Vince McMahon will want to see Corbin and Strowman stand toe-to-toe with each other. But let’s look at the teams and updated prediction now shall we?:
AJ Styles (Captain)
Kevin Owens (Co-captain)
Chris Jericho (Co-captain)
The biggest factor going into Team Raw’s last pick is Dolph Ziggler’s open challenge for his Intercontinental Title. Seth Rollins is automatically eliminated for the Intercontinental Title due to his current feud with The Authority. This leaves Sami Zayn, Rusev, and Neville as the viable challengers to Ziggler’s title. Realistically, based on this past Monday Night RAW, Seth Rollins will be the last member of Team RAW. But here’s something that many people are probably not banking on.
I predicted that Team Smackdown would win this match. I still stand by that prediction. Because I just realized with Seth Rollins on the team, this could be his chance at sabotaging The Authority with costing RAW the victory, since it’s clear that the victories mean more to The Authority. And with a reunion with Reigns on the rise, Reigns could join forces and battle The Authority as well since he’s been attacked by Triple H, Kevin Owens, and Chris Jericho. Something tells me Rollins will have something to do with Jericho being eliminated, which will eventually leave Kevin Owens alone to fight Wyatt and Orton. Orton will sacrifice himself for Wyatt and just when Owens looks to be completing a comeback, Luke Harper and Orton appear, giving Wyatt the opportunity to hit Sister Abigail. Of course, Owens could easily be substituted for Rollins and after Owens turns on Rollins after Rollins turns on Jericho. Whatever the case, the least you can count on a surprising Team Blue victory.
WINNER AND SOLE SURVIVOR: BRAY WYATT
The Smackdown Women’s Team wasn’t that hard to predict given the division is so thin. It’s both a good and bad thing that Natalya was included as I have said that she is the most underrated and misused women’s talent. Her as a coach has pretty much doomed the Smackdown roster, especially with this new gimmick or quoting songs and talking about her cats. Just waiting on Eva Marie to return to piss everyone off.
Nikki Bella (Captain)
With Coach Natalya
Even with the inclusion of Natalya, this is still Team RAW’s match to lose. It’s looking more likely that Dana Brooke and Emmalina will fill out the rest of of Team RAW. Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch will most likely be the final two of Team Smackdown, but the skill of Charlotte and the power of Nia Jax will be too much to overcome. Team RAW’s match to lose.
WINNERS AND SURVIVORS: CHARLOTTE AND NIA JAX
The tag teams were also never really in question for Smackdown With one spot left, The Ascension and Breezango are the only teams that haven’t competed yet. Adding The Ascension to Team Smackdown gives the team more power and viciousness on paper while adding Breezango adds a little more diversity to the team. Contrary to popular opinion, Fandango and Tyler Breeze are really solid workers, especially Tyler Breeze. Unfortunately, the two remaining teams have the least amount of momentum of the four teams that have already qualified and are guaranteed to look like fodder.
Heath Slater and Rhyno (Captains)
The Hype Bros.
The New Day (Captains)
It doesn’t really matter who fills out any of the “TBA” slots, I’m standing by my prediction of a Team RAW victory. There’s a reason why The New Day are the longest reigning tag-team champions of all time. They know how to work as a team for one and they always have the amazing numbers advantage. Kofi Kingston and Big E should be the two wrestlers with Xavier Woods acting as the manager. Of the three, he’s the most effective one outside of the match.
More importantly, I’m still sticking with American Alpha as the last remaining team for Team Smackdown. Their gusty performance in defeat will be what propels them back into title contention.
WINNERS AND SURVIVORS: THE NEW DAY AND GALLOWS & ANDERSON
The Dolph Ziggler open challenge is a game-changer in the feud involving him, The Miz, and Daniel Bryan. The Miz is bound to interfere in either the men’s elimination match or Ziggler’s match. But that’s not the important thing here. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler were not going to be at Survivor Series before the past Smackdown. Now, the most enticing storyline in WWE is back on track. The only viable challengers to Ziggler’s title are Sami Zayn, Rusev, and Neville. But something tells me that whoever it is, Ziggler will retain. And as a cheap way to ensure that RAW and Smackdown are even, Ziggler’s victory gives Team Smackdown a win, notching them at 2-2 a piece.
Just wanted to say that I called it with Braun Strowman. Logically, it would be silly to not have a man that literally throws people on your team. But with the official inclusion on Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, it’s a safe bet that there most likely will not be any title matches at Survivor Series. With that being said, let’s update those teams:
Kevin Owens (co-captain)
Chris Jericho (co-captain)
The last spot for RAW is a tricky one. With four spots already selected, that leaves a few people that could conceivably take the last spot. And with three weeks to build up hype for the event and finish all of the selections for the other matches, it’s hard to select who would be right for the part to fill the final spot. Looking at it from a logical standpoint, here are the few viable candidates in order from most likely to least likely:
Seth Rollins – Chris Jericho may have been selected for his cunning intellect, but Seth Rollins is known as “The Architect” for a reason. He has not only proven himself to be another cunning opponent, but his innovative offense would greatly strengthen Team RAW’s chances and undoubtedly make Team RAW one of the finest teams ever assembled. His addition would also cause tension with both Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho since their feud is definitely not over yet. And with the new dynamic between him and Reigns, his chances just got better.
Sami Zayn – With his current opponent, Braun Strowman, locking in his place on Team RAW, Sami Zayn currently has nothing to do. His addition would definitely shake things up as he has feuded with three of the four members of Team RAW. Having Sami Zayn interfere is not only not in his character, but the wrong way to utilize one of the more dynamic in-ring performers.
Neville – Neville gets the nod here over Rusev because of Rusev’s actions involving himself in Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. Neville would fall into the high-flyer role of the team to balance out the power and cunning. Neville, however, would be the team’s fodder compared to Rollins and Zayn.
Rusev – Rusev’s addition would serve to cause tension with solely Roman Reigns. But after his actions with Goldberg, something tells me he won’t really be a favorite for that last spot on Team Raw. Something tells me Goldberg vs. Lesnar is not going to be received well anymore.
Mark Henry – On paper, The World’s Strongest Man sounds great. But factor in his age and his current streak, and he’s also going to fall into Neville’s role as fodder.
Big Show – The World’s Largest athlete also sounds great on paper. But he hasn’t been seen in over a month. And it’s both likely that he’ll be a surprise member, but unlikely that WWE would go with him.
Brian Kendrick – The Universal and United States champions are in this match, so why not include RAW’s other single title holder? Brian Kendrick would be the wildcard of the team; someone who is unorthodox and as cerebral as Chris Jericho. Kendrick, however, would be the slim-to-none pick.
Unlike RAW, who has most of their team selected, we don’t know who Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are thinking about choosing. It could be that they won’t reveal who Team Smackdown is until Survivor Series, which would be difficult to hide but if done, would be fantastic. Team RAW would attack the entire Smackdown roster and ignite brand invasions, but never know who they are truly up against. As of today, both John Cena and Randy Orton are not advertised for Survivor Series, though this could be a ploy. With the exclusion of Orton and Cena, here are the most likely candidates for Team Smackdown:
AJ Styles (captain) – With Kevin Owens as a co-captain, there’s no doubt that AJ Styles is given the nod here. He is perhaps the best wrestler on the planet at this moment bar none.
Dean Ambrose – With John Cena out, Dean Ambrose becomes the next likely candidate for Team Smackdown. Dean Ambrose is a wild opponent and one that could conceivably eliminate some of the bigger threats on Team RAW.
Dolph Ziggler – With the inclusion of RAW’s secondary title, Smackdown would most definitely add in their intercontinental champion. Granted this is still Ziggler, Smackdown’s chances have gotten better. While there’s a clear bump towards power thanks to Braun Strowman, Smackdown is undoubtedly more resilient, especially with Ziggler’s addition.
Bray Wyatt – Wyatt needs to be added to this match. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon will be worried about Braun Strowman, so they will add in Wyatt as Wyatt has essentially been Strowman’s handler. Wyatt also has Luke Harper in his back pocket as well.
Baron Corbin – Corbin gets the nod here as he is Smackdown’s physically biggest guy on the roster. A solid performance here would give Corbin a huge boost in stock.
Kane – Like Big Show and Mark Henry, Kane would be great on paper. But it’s clear that he would also most likely be fodder.
The Miz – Corbin and Kane get the nod over The Miz due to Strowman’s involvement. Logically, Shane and Daniel need someone who can possibly withstand Strowman’s raw strength and Corbin or Kane is that guy. But count on The Miz somehow getting involved. His prima donna attitude will have him be an obstacle in Team Smackdown’s way.
Apollo Crews – If Crews had gained traction with the WWE universe and was booked correctly, he would have been so much higher on this list. But after being squashed by Corbin, if Crews were to be part of this team, he would surely be fodder.
Kalisto – The returning Kalisto would undeniably be the firecracker of Team Smackdown and contribute some nice highlights. It’s also obvious should he be part of the team that he would come face-to-waist with Strowman. But he’s still out with a back injury and it would be unlikely he makes his return here.
Luke Harper – Harper’s role within the Wyatt family is always as the interferer. Even though he’s a capable in-ring worker, it’s actually best that he interferes on Wyatt’s behalf. If he’s in the match, seeing him eliminated and then come back looks silly.
Winner: Team Smackdown with Bray Wyatt still the sole survivor
TEAM RAW WOMEN’S
I already made it clear that Team Raw Women’s has this match in the bag. There’s just more talent in just those three picks. It seems as though WWE creative is trying to imply that Sasha Banks most likely will not be in this match after Hell in a Cell. The powerbomb spot looked like it was a botch, though it wasn’t any fault of Charlotte or Sasha. With Sasha Banks most likely out, here are the most likely candidates:
Emmalina – With her re-debut coming soon, She’s a sure bet to be part of RAW’s women’s team. It’s a good way to get this solid worker the exposure she’s missed since her back injury.
Dana Brooke – Dana was seen by Charlotte’s side during Bayley’s match with Nia Jax, so it’s a safe bet that Dana will be part of the RAW’s women’s team. Or there could be a chance that she is not in the match at all and playing the role of a manager.
Sasha Banks – Just because Sasha Banks hasn’t been announced as a participant and doesn’t mean we should count her out just yet. Although it feels like the chances are very slim, she could be a surprise team member.
Alicia Fox – As the only other woman on the RAW roster that isn’t injured, Alicia Fox will most likely be passed up for the match.
Nikki Bella (captain)
Interesting that Nikki Bella still got the captain nod over champion Becky Lynch. *Cough* Cena *Cough*. Unless of course that plan is to have Becky Lynch defend her title against Alexa Bliss at Survivor Series. But that would be odd seeing how Charlotte essentially called out the entire Smackdown women’s division. But like I’ve mentioned a few times already, this is RAW’s match to lose. The Smackdown women all bring something different to the table, but the amount of in-ring skill and talent on RAW is just way too much to overcome. I would be pleasantly surprised with Smackdown won this one. But I digress:
Becky Lynch – It would be silly to not have your division champion as part of a team of your best women wrestlers.
Alexa Bliss – It would also be silly to not have the #1 Contender, or second best women’s wrestler in your division on your team. And Alexa Bliss is also arguably the best women’s heel in WWE right now. Sorry Charlotte, but you make it obvious that you’re overacting.
Naomi – With Smackdown clearly at a disadvantage they’ll need all the talent they can get. Naomi has been a solid worker during her time here and would give Team Blue a little boost.
Carmella – Just because Nikki Bella is captaining Smackdown’s women’s team doesn’t mean she won’t be selected. Especially after Charlotte called her out. She’s a sure bet to be selected.
Eva Marie – She’s still technically a member of Smackdown and her suspension expired already. Although she’s filming a movie, she could conceivably be back in time to piss off the entire WWE Universe.
Natalya – Natalya may be one of the most underrated and misused women’s talent WWE has ever had. With that being said, of the seven women on the Smackdown roster, she is also the least interesting. The only way she makes the team is if Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss aren’t fighting for the title.
Winner: Team Raw with Charlotte and Nia Jax as the survivors
TEAM RAW TAG TEAM
The New Day (captain)
An obvious choice to the have the longest reigning tag team champions as the captains of Team RAW. And with the teams that currently exist, there’s bound to be tensions that run high. Especially since The New Day has rubbed most of the teams wrong. But here we go:
Sheamus and Cesaro – Though not an official team, they are currently feuding with both each other and The New Day. Count on their tension with The New Day and themselves to introduce a refreshing dynamic.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows – Next in line is the team stuck in limbo. Since coming to WWE, their booking has been inept. But RAW needs their best tag teams and Anderson and Gallows can still kick some ass.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass – Gallows and Anderson get the nod over Enzo and Cass due to Enzo’s less-than-stellar in-ring work. People may not like it, but although Enzo has improved, his in-ring work is still his weakness, and that’s a problem.
The Shining Stars – By default, they’re next on the totem pole because they’re an actual tag team. They shouldn’t be expected to make an impact and are pretty much fodder for this match.
The Golden Truth – There actually might be a chance that R-Truth and Goldust might be part of this match due to their popularity over The Shining Stars. But like The Shining Stars, they would most likely be fodder as well.
Heath Slater and Rhyno
The Hype Bros.
With three slots left and a more dynamic tag team division, the selection process could be interesting for Team Smackdown. With The Hype Bros. defeating the Vaudevillians to earn their place on Team Smackdown, one has to wonder whether or not that’s how Smackdown is really going to choose their teams:
American Alpha – They have significantly cooled off since being drafted to Smackdown. A gutsy performance would not only help them stand out even more, but would significantly bring the heat back to them.
The Usos – Since their heel turn, they have been more interesting than ever. Their new attitudes will serve them well in the future, but will undoubtedly cost Team Smackdown in the end.
The Ascension – With The Vaudevillians losing a qualifying match to The Hype Bros., it’s tough to imagine The Ascension not finding a way into the match by default. In an alternate universe, they would’ve been the forces to be reckoned with. But they will serve as fodder for the match.
The Vaudevillians – They have absolutely zero momentum at this point. If they make the team, I would be shocked.
Winner: Tag Team RAW with The New Day as sole survivors
Like I had mentioned in an earlier post, “Without a gimmick, a wrestler is doomed to silent crowds and having their time under the spotlight used as a bathroom break. And when this happens, it’s a sure bet that they won’t be sticking around for too much longer.” Unsurprisingly I still hold that belief to be true. However, there have been times where a wrestler was given a gimmick that could conceivably work and that they could have ran with if they were given time to progress and the right booking. And it’s during these times where WWE creative would repackage the wrestler into something totally different.
For this 5 and 5 list we’ll be looking at the times where a wrestler started off with one gimmick and was transformed into something that failed to translate once they made the jump to the main roster. We’ll also be looking at wrestlers from recent times, so while gimmicks that transformed guys like HEIDENREICH and NICK DINSMORE into an unwanted Road Warrior or the wildly offensive EUGENE, they will not be looked at for this list.
WHAT WE GOT: ADAM ROSE
This one is debatable as most people would say that it was because of the Adam Rose gimmick that Ray Leppan was able to make it to the main roster. I’ll admit, his shenanigans made me chuckle a few times and his theme song was perfect for the crowd to sing along with. So why do I consider this a flop? Because not only did it lose steam super quickly, but it also mishandled the great talents of Justin Gabriel by casting him as “The Bunny”. It was clear that the Adam Rose gimmick was meant to be catered to kids, but when kids weren’t really responding to him as well, WWE pulled the cord on the gimmick and placed him with other outcasts.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD: LEO KRUGER
Disturbing. Deranged. Unsettling. Psychotic. Intriguing. This was the most enticing gimmick that Ray Leppan was given. As Leo Kruger, he could be taken seriously as a threat; as someone that people needed to look behind their backs for. His South African hunter and mercenary gimmick would have paid off on the main roster as he would have been seen as detestable and despicable due to his penchant for wanting to not just hurt people, but essentially toy with and torture them during matches. Based on his promos, he would have been a marvelous fit allying with the Wyatt family due to the creepy tone that he would put on. What were the chances he would have progressed to be a major player on the main roster? Slim to none. But this gimmick is the type of gimmick that would worry not just the faces, but the heels as well.
WHAT WE GOT: THE FUNKASAURUS BRODUS CLAY
Personally, I thought he was entertaining the first few times he was seen. Shocked at first, but entertaining. It’s hard to make a dancing, fun-loving gimmick work and still be taken as a threat. Just look at Fandango. But with a guy Brodus Clay’s size and what he had demonstrated during his time under Alberto Del Rio, he should have at least been more threatening. But once he started losing, his credibility began to go as well. Though he does seem like the guy that should be portraying a “loud” gimmick, this one was inevitably going to fail.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD: NOTHING
This one’s tough because he seems like a guy that’s willing to do whatever the company gives him, hence the Funkasaurus gimmick. But when one really looks and analyzes what he’s capable of, it’s not much. You can get the same type of power and wrestler from another big guy that can move better than Brodus Clay can. And in terms of personality, it’s not hard to do what he’s presented, which is either that of an intense enforcer or a loud person. His current gimmick as a “fixer” in TNA, or essentially a mercenary, can also still be portrayed by someone with more in-ring skill.
WHAT WE GOT: LORD TENSAI (AND BY EXTENSION SWEET T)
It seemed like WWE stuck with their motif of being unable to properly book foreign talent. Except this foreign talent wasn’t foreign. When Lord Tensai debuted, he was supposed to be one of the next monster heels. A man of his size and status from Japan was surely supposed to cause a huge stir. Until it was revealed to be the guy that was known for being hairy. And the WWE universe knew who he was and never let him or WWE creative forget it. After losing his credibility with a few losses, he was forced to dance in lingerie and then formed the super heavyweight team with Brodus Clay called “Tons of Funk”. After that failed, he became a trainer at the NXT development center. It’s the least WWE could do for essentially messing his booking up.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD: THE GIANT BERNARD VERSION OF A-TRAIN
Prior to his return as the ill-fated Lord Tensai, Matt Bloom went by the names of Prince Albert, Albert, and then A-Train, where he finally began to make a moderate name for himself before being released due to injury. Bloom eventually made the leap over to New Japan Pro Wrestling. It is here where he found his greatest success where he and current WWE wrestler Karl Anderson hold the longest single IWGP tag team reign and the most defenses of the IWGP tag team titles. But more importantly, Bloom truly did hone his craft and became a reliable and more diverse mat-worker. And then WWE rang.
WHAT WE GOT: STARDUST
I’ll admit, the Stardust character was a gimmick that should have been more successful. The heel turn, the brother-vs-brother story, and the comic-book villain story all should have translated to success. Sadly, it seems as though WWE creative dropped the ball on him and made him look silly in the process. In addition to the gimmick’s potential for success, this gimmick was also one of those things that went on longer than it needed to. With the losses piling up, it’s a wonder why Cody Rhodes was left to keep playing a role that had clearly killed any sort of momentum in his career.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD: CODY RHODES
It’s a wonder why we never received the return of Cody Rhodes. If one saw the match against Randy Orton in which if he lost, he would be “fired”, it’s clear that Cody Rhodes had not only improved, but was capable of being a major player a few more years down the road. His transformation from Dashing to Un-dashing was one of my favorite storylines that he was a part of. Seeing him go from narcissistic to deranged showed the psychological depth he was capable of portraying. And of course, his “fired” promo came off as surreal. Of course, transforming him into Stardust was an intriguing move for a bit. But having him come back to reality and become “The son of a son of a plumber” was the one thing that not only he was hoping for, but the entire WWE universe as well.
WHAT WE GOT: MACHO MANDOW
There wasn’t a single winner with this one. Everyone involved took the “L” here. Sandow, Axel, The Ascension, WWE, Vince McMahon, the WWE Universe, Randy Savage himself, and even the titantron that was forced to flash his name. Damien Sandow, or Mizdow during this time period, became one of the most over wrestlers in WWE. So when they decided to split him from The Miz, everyone was sure that it would translate into some sort of a mid-card push. Everyone thought that he was going to be himself. That he was done with the imitations. We were all wrong. He became a parody of Randy Savage. It was fine for Curtis Axel to be a parody of Hulk Hogan since he was already there with #Axelmania. But for someone that had the full support of the WWE universe to again be someone he’s not may be the most inept booking this year.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD: AN HONEST VERSION OF AARON HADDAD
What do I mean by this? The shoot promo he cut after he lost out on using The Miz as part of his name was honest and sincere. He thanked the fans for all of the support, which was completely warranted because let’s face it; his gimmick was so absurd. So absurd that his case was the rare one where a little lump of coal becomes a diamond. He literally could have continued with a less snobbish version of his “Savior of the Masses” gimmick and the WWE universe would still be behind him. It’s a shame because he had the potential to be a world champion. Maybe one day down the road.
WHAT WE GOT: EUGENE
Remember when I said Eugene wouldn’t be featured on this list? I lied. Because boy was this a really rough one. Though the crowd was more endearing to him, this is one of the more insensitive gimmicks of all time. Whether or not the WWE had the best intentions for going forward with this gimmick, this was one of those instances where they shouldn’t have tried to anyway. Portraying a “special needs” person is tricky for serious actors and actresses to do without making it seem like they aren’t trying to offend anyone. So naturally the WWE thought they could do it without a hitch. Truly one of the poorest decisions made by WWE.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD: LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE
Seriously. Even if he had debuted as just Nick Dinsmore and he wouldn’t have had a sliver of the success he had, it would have been better for his longevity. He is forever known as Eugene no matter what he does. Not the best legacy to leave behind. He did, however, form a successful tag team with Rob Conway. You know, the guy WWE had dress up as an American Airman and have him attack the pro-USA Dudley Boyz with the American Flag. Even that’s better than portraying Eugene.
Here we go! The final brand PPV before the first true joint PPV in Survivor Series. Here is the main card so far in no particular order:
Cedric Alexander, LinceDorado and Sin Cara vs. Drew Gulak, Tony Nese and AriyaDaivari
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (Raw Women’s Championship, Hell in a Cell match)
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens (Universal Championship, Hell in a Cell match)
Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (United States Championship, Hell in a Cell match)
The New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus (Raw Tag Team Championships)
T.J. Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick (Cruiserweight Championship)
EnzoAmore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
If all goes as planned, Sasha Banks and Charlotte will indeed be going on to truly main event a PPV for the first time ever. This puts all eyes on these two fantastic wrestlers and the pressure to deliver a truly memorable match. Personally, this worries me, not because they are women, but because the pressure to close a show inside the Hell in a Cell could push them to do stunts that could potentially injure both. But overall, I know they will impress with what they’re given. It seems that every time Charlotte and Sasha Banks are put together, they don’t know how to fail.
There wasn’t any story here in putting together the team, but rather it was meant to be a fun filler and a way to expose the cruiserweight division. The match itself was pretty basic with the standard face beat down, hot tag, and every wrestler hitting signatures/finishers before the match ended. Every wrestler played their roles well with Nese and Alexander being the clear top guys from each team. After the match broke down, Alexander nailed Gulak with the Lumbar Check for the victory.
From this match, it’s clear that Cedric Alexander and Tony Nese are being primed for a push. Drew Gulak is so understated as a worker. He maximized his time in the ring with a technical, methodical assault on Lince Dorado and was super fluid in the ring when having to change pacing against Alexander. Lince Dorado, Sin Cara, and Daivari are all floundering at the moment. And with Rich Swann ahead of the three and Akira Tozawa, Jack Gallagher, and Noam Dar waiting patiently to debut, things are going to get awfully crowded in this division.
UNITED STATES TITLE: (c) ROMAN REIGNS vs. RUSEV
Mixed to negative for Reigns, biggest pop for Lana. But that’s normal. Good call to make this the opening match and nowhere near the headlining slot. It didn’t take long for the brutality to commence. However, despite the usage of a kendo stick, the steel steps, a chain, and the cell itself, the outcome of the match was never really in doubt. The super babyface narrative that has been presented to Cena and passed down to Reigns was poised to help Reigns retain the title.
Reigns’ booking is easy from here since he’s still US champion. It’s Rusev’s booking that’s in question. Rusev’s first run with the title was booked marvelously. And then he ran into what most people consider is the career killer that is John Cena, losing that feud. When Rusev regained the title, it seemed things were going well until he ran into what many people consider to be the next John Cena. He just lost. Where can Rusev possibly go from here? Is he bound to flounder around again? At this moment, he is dead in the water.
BAYLEY vs. DANA BROOKE
Dana’s in-ring work has improved since she’s debuted. Her in-ring psychology and awareness specifically has gotten better. She was cerebral in attacking Bayley’s weakened shoulder. A few awkward spots hurt the match score a bit, but that’s a result of Dana Brooke still being a little inexperienced in the ring so that’s normal. The match was also pretty standard. Bayley caught fire early, but Brooke targeted her weak shoulder and turned the tables. However, Bayley made the comeback and nailed Brooke with the Bayley-to-Belly for the win.
The right person went over here. In order to keep Bayley on-screen, she needed to do something while waiting for her chance at the title. Brooke losing here does not hurt her momentum at all. For this match, she needed to deliver a solid performance and that she did, despite her overacting and over-the-top facial expression. This feud isn’t over yet and I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooke were to win the next encounter.
ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS vs. KARL ANDERSON AND LUKE GALLOWS
Enzo and Cass made their way out to a big pop and did their usual spiel. On a side note, I do not envy Enzo Amore at all when coming up with material for his promos. Everything he says is always new. He utilized the hell out of Toy Story and it was amazing. And yet another standard Enzo and Cass match. Enzo delivers some offense before falling into the babyface-in-peril motif ad is rescued by Big Cass. In the end, Enzo, despite a brief wave of offense, fell victim to the Magic Killer.
This match served its purpose in putting Gallows and Anderson back on the map for title contention. And boy did they need it badly. After losing countless important matches against The New Day, Gallows and Anderson finally have some real momentum to go off of. Enzo and Big Cass truly didn’t need the win here. They are fully capable of drawing their own heat from the crowd. This also may be good that they lost as Big Cass is poised for a singles run sooner or later.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE: (c) KEVIN OWENS vs. SETH ROLLINS
A much more inspired match than the first of the three Hell in a Cell matches. Owens played to his character perfectly. Someone who is willing to fight. The bumps looked especially nasty, especially Rollins being chucked into the cell from inside the ring. The tables were finally used as well, with Owens setting them up in an unorthodox manner and the fire extinguisher spot added a different dynamic to the story of the match as it allowed Jericho to enter the match to a huge pop. Though Rollins fought valiantly, the numbers game proved to much and after a powerbomb through a makeshift chair table, Owens retained.
The right person went over here again. Seth Rollins is on his way towards a feud with Triple H and placing the title on Rollins against Triple H prevents someone else who has worked hard to lose out on that spot. Though it wasn’t a surprise that Jericho interfered, its a surprise that Triple H did not get involved. This would’ve been the game changer to Seth Rollins’ story. It’s also unclear when Jericho will eventually turn on Kevin Owens as well.
CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE: (c) TJ PERKINS vs. BRIAN KENDRICK
This match played more on the story more than the other matches so far. The chain wrestling was crisp and each man got their fair share of offense in. Unlike the Cruiserweight Classic, this match was not a spot fest and shifted more towards a more orthodox match. Towards the end of the match, Kendrick hurt his ankle attempting his Sliced Bread #2. However, it was clear that he was playing possum after headbutting Perkins. The cheap trick led to the Captain’s Hook and a new champion.
Normally, a cheap trick finish like that would hurt the match score but Brian Kendrick suckering in TJ Perkins played well into the story that these two had built going into Hell in a Cell. Kendrick truly came off as a desperate veteran who truly believed that this was his last chance at success. Either man could have gone over here, but Kendrick winning the championship creates a few more booking opportunities. TJ Perkins will definitely get a rematch and Tony Nese, Cedric Alexander, and Rich Swann are guaranteed to be next in line.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLES: (c) THE NEW DAY vs. SHEAMUS & CESARO
It was an interesting choice to have Xavier Woods step in for Kofi Kingston. Of the three, Woods is definitely not the choice to go with, but that’s not to say Woods is awful. In fact, Xavier Woods is a pretty underrated athlete in his own right. But I digress. Of course there was the tension between Cesaro and Sheamus, but during the course of the match they started to click. Just when it seemed that there would be new champions, the referee caught Kofi Kingston hitting Sheamus with the Trouble in Paradise shortly before Xavier Woods tapped out to the Sharpshooter.
The end of the match creates a new narrative as the crowd seemed to be against the finish. It seemed there was more negative reaction to The New Day retaining by way of disqualification. Especially at the cost of Cesaro not gaining some form of gold that everyone knows he deserves. It seems as though both teams are headed for a rematch.
RAW WOMEN’S TITLE: (c) SASHA BANKS vs. CHARLOTTE
Before the match even started, they treated this match as if it was at Wrestlemania with their own custom entrances. And rightfully so. Sasha Banks and Charlotte had officially made history twice being the first women to fight in Hell in a Cell and the first women to headline a PPV. There was an early scare with Charlotte powerbombing Sasha Banks through a table. As medical tried to get Sasha Banks out, she returned to fight Charlotte, officially starting the match. Brutality ensued as the women used the cell, chairs, and tables in an attempt to win the match. However, the main story was Sasha’s damaged back which eventually gave out and allowed Charlotte to capitalize and hit the Natural Selection to regain the title.
Whether or not the powerbomb spot was planned or not, the way Sasha Banks hit the table made it seem like that may have been real. That was a really bad looking spot. The finish was definitely abrupt as well, which hurt the match’s overall score as well. It is now clear that WWE creative wants to go forward with Charlotte as their next face of the women’s division as allowing her to stay undefeated in PPV’s as well as regaining the title on PPV’s over Sasha winning on the regular shows. The question is now where does each go? Is there one more match? Does Bayley challenge next? Regardless, this was the match of the night for sure.
It’s near impossible becoming a factor in the WWE without a gimmick. For those of you at home keeping score, a gimmick refers to a wrestler’s in-ring persona; their character, how they behave, the attire they choose to wear, and any other distinguishing natural or artificial traits that are used to draw fan interest. Without a gimmick, a wrestler is doomed to silent crowds and having their time under the spotlight used as a bathroom break. And when this happens, it’s a sure bet that they won’t be sticking around for too much longer.
Just because the term gimmick is thrown around does not mean that the wrestler must be an overtly fictionalized character. It’s also about how the wrestler acts as well. For instance, American Alpha, while not having a defined character, are known for their thoroughbred wrestling pedigrees, gusty performances, and Chad Gable natural charisma. While their characters aren’t as defined as Breezango, who are narcissistic wrestlers, or The New Day, who are proponents of positivity, they stand out because they play to those defining characteristics and traits well.
But not all wrestlers can pull off a successful run without a defined gimmick. Windham Rotunda couldn’t cut it as Husky Harris, a wrestler who was surprisingly nimble for his size. So he was repackaged as Bray Wyatt, the backwoods cult leader and now has found moderate success. Bray Wyatt is proof that sometimes all that is needed is a defined character; a defined gimmick.
CURTIS AXEL is someone that has been given a few good opportunities to build his stock up and show his value. Being the son of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig is a good start. Being on NXT was a nice little introduction and serving as part of the New Nexus were good starts for him to acclimate himself to the pacing of the main roster. Returning as Curtis Axel and being a “Heyman guy” should have boosted his stock high, even going as far as winning the Intercontinental title. But it was clear that there was something missing. Letting Heyman be his mouthpiece covered the glaring weakness he had, which was his personality. With Heyman as your manager, one doesn’t have to do much as Heyman is such a virtuoso on the mic that he can make James Ellsworth looks like a worthy warrior. The times after his split, it was clear that he wasn’t given a lot to work with in terms of dialogue and character, making it look like he was either trying too hard to be interesting or he wasn’t trying hard enough. After his disastrous tag team with Ryback and being placed in The Social Outcasts, a stable that had potential but also failed, it seemed as though Curtis Axel was on borrowed time.
And then Bo Dallas turned on Axel. Though nothing could have come from this, it seemed like Curtis Axel was finally able to speak freely, in front of his home crowd no less. Though it may have been his home crowd simply cheering him on, he finally came off as honest, but more importantly, interesting. He talked about his wrestling lineage and the legacy and how he carries that whenever he wrestles. This is the defining gimmick he needed. If you remember correctly, he claimed to be “Better than Perfect”. But that was what turned him off to the crowd. It’s more believable that he’s someone that knows the burden of carrying such a heavy legacy on his back. After feuding with Bo Dallas, Axel’s gimmick could revolve around how “perfection is his perfect hell” in trying to live up to his father and grandfather before him. It gives him a direction as a face similar to Dolph Ziggler’s recent run or as a heel with the preceding legacy driving him to become obsessive.
Gimmick: Legacy chaser
APOLLO CREWS has the right build to get Vince McMahon’s approval. His athleticism is incredible, being both a powerhouse and a high-flyer. He’s got a great look. But he’s just so bland. He’s what Dwayne Johnson was before he become The Rock. He’s this generations “Blue Chipper” except worse. The crowd is not really responding to him at all. At least The Rock had the luxury of the crowd turning on him in order to commence that fateful turn that made him into a future WWE Hall of Famer. What makes matters worse is that Crews has presented so little charisma and personality that it’s even tough to figure out what he might be capable of pulling off in terms of character.
Looking at what Apollo Crews has presented so far, we know that he’s undoubtedly a fantastic athlete. And he smiles a lot and “seems like a nice guy”. His move-set is comprised of high impact power moves and surprisingly crisp high flying moves. His finisher is not the most inspired move though as John Cena uses a kneeling version of his finisher and Sami Zayn’s version looks more effective. The only other thing that stands out is his entrance song which sounds like something befitting someone that should be an elite level player.
Apollo Crews is not that guy. Yet. Getting him a manager would only be a temporary fix which might end up being more harmful than good. With a manager, he’d be able to let them carry the mic workload, but he would not be progressing much in that venue, which is what he needs to do. He doesn’t need to be electric on the mic, but dependable. There could also be the possibility of him winning King of the Ring, but we saw how well that worked for the last guy, who was a solid worker and was great on the mic.
The answer is simple; WWE needs to remove him from programming and repackage him through a series of vignettes. It’s up to WWE to decide, however, whether or not they want him to have a completely new gimmick or to over-exaggerate the one thing he’s really know for at this point; his demeanor. My pick would be for over-exaggeration. Show a series of videos of him being overly enthusiastic when interacting with people and always smiling. This can progressively turn him heel as he becomes not only purposefully annoying to the crowd, but also becomes delusional to think that he isn’t doing anything wrong. All the while still smiling. It’s a good start, but he’ll eventually have to evolve from that.
Gimmick: Delusional optimist
BUDDY MURPHY, yes that is Buddy Murphy, is known as one half of the former NXT tag team champions Blake and Murphy. They were used as an enhancement talent before picking up a pair of victories. This led to the strange booking of having them take the titles off the more electric pair of The Lucha Dragons. Things got stranger when they were able to win their feud with the even more electric Enzo Amore and Big Cass before linking up with Alexa Bliss, who carried the mic load for the pair. They eventually dropped the titles and dropped back into being an enhancement talent before the team split. He’s been floating around since then.
As an in-ring worker, Murphy is clearly the better of the pair and is also more marketable. He has the capability to be explosive in short bursts, but his ability to work longer matches hasn’t been tested yet. It’s his charisma, however, that’s his downfall; his mic work by extension. He’s not interesting when he speaks, though WWE can find ways to book around this. Unfortunately, if Murphy were to make it to the main roster, pairing him up with Alexa Bliss is out of the question. And reuniting him with Wesley Blake would be a detriment to his chances of finding success. So this leaves Murphy to work on the nuances of whatever character he is given and WWE to figure out a way to utilize Murphy’s current skill set.
WWE creative is usually hit or miss with nationality centered gimmicks. For example, Rusev as a Bulgarian-born Russian hero or Jack Swagger as an American patriot were hits as opposed to Muhammad Hassan as an Arab was a total misfire. Murphy’s gimmick could float along the lines of Skinner, the Everglades alligator hunter. Except place him in the Outback and make him more of a Mick Taylor-esque characters that is heavily watered down since this is still technically the PG era. Murphy doesn’t have to be necessarily over-the-top, but can speak with a reserved, intense tone.
Gimmick: Psychotic Australian
SHANE THORNE and NICK MILLER, who are collectively known as TM61 in WWE, are an up-and-coming tag team in NXT. Originally known as TMDK, which is an acronym for The Mighty Don’t Kneel, have had moderate success so far as they have been squashed by The Authors of Pain but have made it to the semi-finals of the 2nd annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Being one of the final four teams in the tournament shows signs that they are bound to be pushed into title contention sooner than later as DIY, composed of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, are bound to make the leap to the main roster soon.
Both Miller and Thorne are likable wrestlers with good size and mobility. However, it’s clear that the standout of the team is Shane Thorne, who excites when in the ring and is more serviceable on the mic over Miller. That’s not to say Miller should and will be dropped. Miller falls more into the straight man role between the two and the dynamic works for them. Their in-ring chemistry is also great, which isn’t surprising since they have been a tag team for some time now.
Their “Rocket to the sun” mini promo showed promise for both. Whether it was WWE creative or TM61 who decided to have them use their former team name, it was the right move. Their new motto of “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” could do wonders for the team in victory and defeat. When they win, they prove that they are the mighty. But in defeat, having them never back down despite the odds will solidify their fighting spirit. However, it’s up to WWE creative to not book them looking like fodder if they are booked to lose. The gimmick can also bode well for them as heels as they can be booked as arrogant, underhanded, or cowardly to avoid metaphorically kneeling.
As I write this, there are already four confirmed matches for Survivor Series. It seems as though WWE is doing away with the Bragging Rights PPV even though it seems more fitting now than it did 6 years ago. But whatever Vince McMahon says goes so we all shouldn’t be surprised in this move.
TEAM RAW VS. TEAM SMACKDOWN
For something as serious as a brand vs. brand battle and with Stephanie and Shane McMahon butting heads over whose brand is better, shouldn’t there be more urgency in selecting a team? I mean Smackdown has already selected two of the five teams for their Tag Team showdown, but no moves on the 5 vs. 5 match. Well, it’s unsure of whether or not any titles will be defended on this PPV but since Smackdown has already placed their tag team champions in the Survivor Series match it’s a sure bet that the RAW tag team titles are also not being defended. Because Survivor Series is said to be a 4-hour show, it a safe bet that all individual titles are going to be on the line. So narrowing down the roster and with Stephanie McMahon most likely choosing her own team, the potential teams may look something like:
TEAM RAW Roman Reigns, Rusev, Braun Strowman, Sami Zayn, and Neville
Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, Randy Orton, Kane, and Bray Wyatt
Stephanie McMahon choosing Braun Strowman is something that everyone shouldn’t count out, especially if she wants to prove superiority over Smackdown. His selection would also cause tension with Zayn, who he’s currently feuding with. The inclusion of Reigns and Rusev adds more tension as well and Neville’s spot will most likely be used as fodder. On Team Blue’s side, Ambrose captaining the squad would add an interesting dynamic with Reigns on the other side. Orton, Kane, and Wyatt are all intertwined in a feud of their own which adds tension to their team and Corbin’s spot, as opposed to Neville’s spot, will be used to present him as a bigger threat. And Baron Corbin facing off against Braun Strowman would be a sight to see akin to Big Cass facing off against Strowman. Though RAW is stacked, count on Smackdown edging out the red brand. Here’s the highlights of how this match could go:
Neville’s high-flying style will captivate the audience, but his downfall comes when he is unable to put away whoever he opposes, leading to Corbin eliminating him.
Strowman goes on a tear, manhandling Ambrose, Orton, and Kane before coming face-to-face with Wyatt. Strowman mauls Wyatt, proving he’s truly a force unleashed.
Corbin and Strowman come face-to-face and brawl, causing a double countout.
Reigns eliminates Kane, but Rusev turns on Reigns, leaving afterwards.
Reigns recovers and eliminates Orton before he can hit an RKO.
Before he leaves, Orton RKO’s Reigns, which leads to Ambrose eliminating Reigns.
Zayn eliminates Ambrose.
Wyatt and Zayn fight until Luke Harper interferes, leading to Wyatt hitting the Sister Abigail.
Sole Survivor: Bray Wyatt
TAG TEAM RAW VS. SMACKDOWN
Smackdown has already taken the first steps in crafting their team with Beauty and the Manbeast, Heath Slater and Rhyno captaining the blue squad and The Hype Bros. as the second team. It’s pretty obvious at this point, however which teams are going to round out team blue. It’s the red squad that is more intriguing. What’s also intriguing is how the eliminations are going to work. There’s 20 men in this match. Will it be individual eliminations? Or if one tag partner is eliminated, the other is as well? Whatever the cause, for this one there won’t be a full, descriptive prediction, but rather predicted highlights.
The New Day (Kingston and Big E), Gallows and Anderson, Cesaro and Sheamus, Enzo and Cass, and The Golden Truth
Heath Slater and Rhyno, The Hype Bros. American Alpha, The Usos, and The Ascension.
The Ascension needs to eliminate The Golden Truth in order to give them some momentum.
Gallows and Anderson will eliminate The Hype Bros.
Cesaro and Sheamus will fall apart as a team.
Gallows and Anderson will turn on Enzo and Cass.
The New Day will lose after a miscommunication.
American Alpha and The Usos will be the last two remaining for Team Smackdown.
The Usos will turn on American Alpha, continuing their feud.
Despite a gutsy and valiant effort, American Alpha will fall to Gallows and Anderson.
Sole Survivors: Gallows and Anderson
WOMEN’S TEAM RAW VS TEAM SMACKDOWN
Once again, Smackdown took the lead with naming its captain in Nikki Bella. However, I cannot help to think that this match is a given RAW victory.
Bayley, Nia Jax, Emmalina, Dana Brooke, and Alicia Fox
Nikki Bella, Naomi, Tamina, Carmella, Eva Marie (Natalya)
Not only is the RAW squad better, but that’s really it. One shouldn’t count out the return of Tamina and one Eva Marie. If WWE was smart, they would continue the Eva Marie avoiding wrestling angle and bring in Natalya, who would turn on Nikki Bella due to losing out on being a captain. Tamina being reunited with Naomi could lead to a feud in which Tamina feels Naomi lost her edge. As for the women on the red squad, expect a dominant victory with Bayley, Nia Jax, and a recently returned Emmalina to be your survivors.
Survivors: Bayley, Nia Jax, Emmalina
GOLDBERG VS. BROCK LESNAR
It’s unclear how this match will be booked. Does creative book an evenly matched contest like their first encounter? Or does creative book Goldberg going to Suplex city? It’s a tough call, but there’s a heavy chance after a few suplexes, spears, a jackhammer, and a few F-5’s, Lesnar will avenge the loss and keep it 1-1 between the two. And if it’s any indication, all signs point to this match being underwhelming as Goldberg is now in his 50’s and Lesnar’s matches are beginning to lose it luster. But that’s news will be overshadowed by what happens after the match. Still fuming over the Summerslam incident, count on Shane McMahon to get involved and lead to a feud going into the next major PPV. For an even bigger surprise, expect Randy Orton to be involved as well on Shane’s behalf.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
OTHER POSSIBLE MATCHES
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE: (c) KEVIN OWENS vs. CHRIS JERICHO vs. SETH ROLLINS
Though the build is slowly happening, Kevin Owens’ hesitance to assist Jericho when needed and the popularity of “The List of Jericho” could cause Jericho to turn on Kevin Owens and become a face and thus challenge for the title. Beating Chris Jericho adds prestige to the title and stock to Kevin Owens as Jericho is the first Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion. As for Seth Rollins, he will be taken out of commission by a returning Triple H in order to continue the feud as we approach the road to Wrestlemania.
Winner and still champion: Kevin Owens
WWW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: (c) AJ STYLES vs. JOHN CENA
Survivor Series is John Cena’s last scheduled appearance before he takes time off to film season 2 of American Grit. With James Ellsworth costing Dean Ambrose the #1 Contender slot, this frees up Cena to feud with AJ Styles, who still hasn’t gotten him 1-on-1 after months of AJ Styles mocking him. Though this could put things in a pickle. With AJ still technically a heel, Ambrose possibly turning heel, and Cena leaving for a month, creative is put in a tough spot on what to with the title. Cena, Ambrose, and Styles are the only viable contenders at the moment. Cena winning the title makes no sense as Smackdown’s next PPV is two weeks after Survivor Series. Cena must be beaten cleanly again as it will allow Cena to come to a “crossroads” in his career and he’ll need to take time off to “figure things out”.
Winner and still champion: AJ Styles
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE: (c) SASHA BANKS vs. CHARLOTTE
They made history come Hell in a Cell. They’re going to make history again, though not as hyped as HIAC. In what should be a closing match to this feud, this will allow either Bayley or Nia Jax an opportunity for the title. They will fight in a Last Woman Standing match. This will allow the women to fight until one cannot definitively fight anymore. Since Charlotte’s reign was beginning to be cumbersome, I’m leaning towards Sasha Banks as the victor as she can logically feud with both Bayley and Nia Jax
Winner and still champion: Sasha Banks
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE: (c) BECKY LYNCH vs. ALEXA BLISS
The great thing about the Smackdown Women’s title is that it’s still relatively fresh. Was even better is that Becky Lynch has proven herself to be a great worker and willing to play along with the company. Having said that, putting the title on Alexa Bliss, who may be the best heel on Smackdown regardless of gender, would allow for more booking opportunities for a very thin division. Playing off of Bliss’ heel character, its best that she uses some underhanded tactics to win the title in order to keep Lynch’s stock value high.
Winner and new champion: Alexa Bliss
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: (c) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. THE MIZ
It’s a tough spot to have to deliver another great match for this feud. However, both wrestlers are now in a tough spot. Ziggler cannot afford to lose a title that he essentially put his livelihood on the line for so soon. Conversely, if The Miz loses, he is either stuck in story line limbo or WWE risks drawing out the feud and it going stale. There is one other option; move him into the World Title picture. This would facilitate an AJ Styles face-turn and Dean Ambrose into a true tweener. With that being said, expect Ziggler to retain here.
Winner and still champion: Dolph Ziggler
BONUS: TEAM TJP vs. TEAM KENDRICK
Instead of showcasing only two cruiserweights, it would be a better option to showcase an additional eight of them. It’s guaranteed to be a spot-fest and would allow the crowd to get a sense of what the division is capable of doing.
TJ Perkins, Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Lince Dorado, and Sin Cara
Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, and Gran Metalik
All 10 of these guys have already debuted with Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher, and Akira Tozawa patiently waiting to debut. It’s clear that the fodder here is Lince Dorado, Sin Cara, and Ariya Daivari. Gran Metalik could create an interesting story with Gulak due to the language barrier and miscommunication that would lead to Gulak’s elimination. TJ Perkins will undoubtedly be the sole survivor for his team, but he won’t be able to overcome the 2-on-1 disadvantage. Count on Brian Kendrick to steal the win here and put himself back into title contention.
Survivors: Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese
OVERALL PREDICTION: It’s going to be tough for the crowd to stay invested in this event if the main card is going to be 4 hours long. Add an hour for the pre-show and the crowd may physically be too burned out by the time the later matches come into play. While only four matches have already been confirmed, count on the women’s brand warfare to be a disappointment due to it seemingly being rushed. The tag-team warfare can be expected to be messy as well. The male’s brand warfare has the potential to boost a few of the wrestlers’ stock. As for Goldberg vs. Lesnar, count on it to be a plodding, uninspired Lesnar victory.
To the casual WWE universe member and occasional NXT watcher, he may have been known as Kassius Ohno, the methodical man who took great pleasure in inflicting pain. But to masses of independent fans and the IWC, he is known as Chris Hero, someone who can be considered to be the heart and soul of Combat Zone Wrestling. Largely remembered as one half of the Kings of Wrestling alongside current WWE superstar Claudio Castagnoli, who goes by the ring name of Cesaro. Hero is also remembered as the man that ignited the feud between Combar Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor during a time in which other WWE wrestlers Daniel Bryan and Samoa Joe as well as Cesaro.
Chris Hero had a solid build, was surprisingly agile, and would always produce very crisp, dependable ring work. Even his mic work was dependable. A truly all-around solid talent. In NXT, he had to opportunity to grow as an all-around performer and eventually become a major player on the main roster. But one factor kept him from all of this that could have been. It wasn’t his previous connection to a super offensive named character Wife Beater. It also wasn’t his connection to some violent matches. Nor was it really a bad attitude. Chris Hero was pulled off of WWE programming and eventually released due to lack of commitment. Commitment not to wrestling or the company, but to physical conditioning programs.
While this may sound absurd to the casual fan, it’s a well-known fact that the WWE machine has a specific thing about how they want their wrestlers to look. For most of the male wrestlers, they want them to look muscular and defined as if it was still the 1980’s and only chiseled looking wrestlers could sell. On the other side, if you look at the image above, it’s clear that while Hero didn’t look out of shape, one could argue that he could have indeed tightened up his physique. This leads to the important question:
What if Chris Hero was committed to his physical conditioning programs?
Well for one, Chris Hero would still be known as Kassius Ohno and would have most likely made the jump to the main roster.
It’s obvious that Chris Hero would have had multiple story lines with Cesaro, whether it was feuding with or teaming with him. Like Cesaro’s path, Hero and Cesaro would’ve gradually turned face due to their excellent in-ring chemistry and work ethic and would’ve have already been multiple time tag-team champions. If they feuded, which they had in NXT, they would have tore down the house with feats of strength and viciousness. In regards to a singles career, Hero would’ve undoubtedly become a mid-card champion who, like Cesaro, would have been on the fringe of the main title picture.
While some people believe that if he had been committed to his physical conditioning he would have been the third member of The Shield over Roman Reigns, that point is highly unlikely as The Shield had debuted on November 18, 2012 and Hero was pulled off of WWE programming on June 26 the following year, leaving a 7 month gap in between. We can assume that WWE Creative created The Shield at least 1-2 months before they debuted, making it more unlikely that Chris Hero wasn’t picked because of his lack of commitment to his physical conditioning, but rather Roman Reigns’ already built physique. But this type of thinking warrants another question:
What if Chris Hero had been selected as the third member of The Shield over Roman Reigns?
CM Punk had originally suggested that alongside Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, Chris Hero should be the third member of The Shield. The IWC and the WWE Universe would have loved to see three guys that they felt had already paid their dues on the independent circuit, but in all honesty the group would not have been the same and thus would not have met the same success that they had achieved with Roman Reigns.
To be clear, the success of The Shield is what’s being discussed as opposed to the success of the three post-Shield. The reason why The Shield was so successful as a stable was simply because each man fell into a tried-and-true role that allowed them to play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses; Dean Ambrose as the wildcard mouthpiece, Roman Reigns as the silent powerhouse, and Seth Rollins as the high-flying brains.
If Chris Hero had been selected, he would have shared Dean Ambrose’s role as the wildcard brawler and The Shield would not have their powerhouse to rely on. Before Roman Reigns was christened as the next face of WWE, he arguably gained the most momentum of the three members solely because he was the powerhouse that eventually became the backbone of the team. Though Chris Hero had a decent size, he could not believably pull off that role that Roman Reigns effectively pulled off.
Before Hero left, he stated that both he and WWE left the door open to his return which beckons one last question:
What if WWE decides to resign Chris Hero?
If the above picture is any indication, it’s highly unlikely. Not to say it’s impossible, just improbable. It’s really a shame on both ends. While it’s understandable that WWE has a good idea of what they expect their talents to look like in order to portray a character they think will work, they need to remove themselves from the 1980’s mindset of expecting every male wrestler that isn’t naturally “rounder” than most to look like they are chiseled from rock. On the other end, we can only assume what Chris Hero was thinking about the situation. Did he think that committing to working out more would take away time from honing his in-ring craft? Or did he not appreciate being told that he didn’t have the “right look”? Whatever the case, Hero may have cost himself a chance at the big time.