Why Does Braun Strowman Work?


Based on the normal heel-face dynamic, Braun Strowman should not be this over. Think of some of the top faces over the years, and the guys who are still most loved today: Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Daniel Bryan, A.J. Styles… what do they have in common? The answer is overcoming the odds. When these guys were faces, they were always fighting authority figures putting every obstacle they could in their paths. Now think of other faces who have been made out to be invincible/unbeatable/above the rest: John Cena and Roman Reigns. They are both hugely popular and hugely unpopular. The hardcore fan base feels these guys have been shoved down their throats and don’t want “invincible”. They derisively refer to Cena as “Super Cena” and “Big Match John”. They boo Roman Reigns out of the building.

How about someone more similar in style to Strowman in Ryback? He was pushed to the top face spot for a short time against CM Punk. Fans grew to enjoy chanting “feed me more” and were behind him as he destroyed two and three jobbers at a time and faced the top heel in the company. Why did Ryback, who was billed as unbeatable, not suffer the same fate as Cena or Reigns with half the fans? Why doesn’t Strowman?

In looking for the answer, I was reminded of one man. The man whose name was chanted as a taunt as Ryback when his push began, and the one still chanted today at big men who dominate all of their competition: Goldberg. Goldberg broke the mold of the babyface who struggled and persevered for months or years to finally reach the top. He wasn’t “Mrs. Foley’s baby boy” who hitchhiked to Madison Square Garden. He didn’t have the boyhood dream of Shawn Michaels. He didn’t have to be threatened with firings and arrests by Eric Bischoff every week. He wasn’t a third-generation star. The announcers claimed to know nothing about him and played shocked when he dominated Hugh Morrus for his first victory on Nitro. He was billed as an unstoppable machine who tore through his competition. The only words he spoke for a long time were “who’s next”. The fans loved it. He WAS WCW. If you ask someone what they think of when they hear WCW, they’ll either say NWO or Goldberg. Sorry Sting. So why did Goldberg work that way? Why does Strowman work?

I think it’s this simple: we want to see big men destroy things. It’s why even though he’s a heel, people chant “Joe is gonna kill you” when someone steps to Samoa Joe. One problem with Roman, aside from awful mic skills possibly dooming him from the start (though much improved), is that he’s too big to be billed as a sympathetic face overcoming the odds. He’s Ryback’s size. Most men don’t want to see a guy who women find attractive, is 6’3, 285, and doesn’t have the mic skills to entertain them being pushed on them as a guy who deserves there support as he scratches and claws his way to the top.

Staying on Roman for a minute, if he had been billed like Goldberg, I think he would have been a lot better off. No promos, just squashes. I don’t know if anything could have fixed the fact that he won the Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan, that killed him in a lot of people’s eyes. But he’d be in a better place that he is now if they had used the Goldberg formula for a while. It wouldn’t have lasted forever, but it would certainly have helped.

Back to the subject of this post. Strowman is a guy who everyone can get behind. We want to be him. We would all love to be merciless Giants who destroy everything in their path sometimes. Combine that with adding a simple phrase that the crowd can chant along with, “GET THESE HANDS,” and his better than average mic skills and personality, and you have a recipe for success. It doesn’t happen very often. I think of Goldberg, Strowman, and the late Bruno Sammartino as company-backed babyfaces who were pushed the top in this manner. I’m sure there’s guys I’m missing, but not many come to mind.

Why do you like Braun? Or, why do you not like him? What works and what doesn’t about his push? What would you change, if anything?

Greatest Royal Rumble Review *SPOILERS*


That’s a fuck ton of fireworks. An agonizingly slow start to the match. Not much flow early on, one move then walking around and taunting. Another move then walking around and taunting. Not that I expect these guys to have a cruiserweight-type match, but come on, you’re starting the show, give us some action. Finally it moved more into rest holds and HHH controlling the match, which made the slower pace make a little more sense to set up Cena’s comebacks. Still, it felt like this match never really got going very well, just random moves back and forth until they kick out of each other’s finishers. Cena hits a couple more AA’s for the win, but I was not entertained in the least by this one. Weak start to the show.


Both guys show off their athleticism to start the match. Kalisto’s springboard 450 to the outside was amazing. These guys never fail to impress. Kalisto’s moves are incredible, that springboard Spanish fly was ridiculous. Awesome counter by Alexander turning the Salida del Sol into the Lumbar Check for the win. Tremendous match but it seemed like the crowd wasn’t very into it. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them have no idea who these guys are and didn’t know what to make of that style


Nothing special about the match itself, not that it was a bad match, but nothing really stood out to me as truly exciting. It’s going to be fun to see Matt and Bray as tag team champions, I really look forward to the promos they come up with.


These two gel really well in the ring. But Jesus, what a complete botch on that Whisper in the Wind. Jinder selling a move that missed him by five feet, and selling it 2-3 seconds after it missed him might be the worst botch I’ve ever seen. Ignoring that, it was a pretty awesome match with Jeff ultimately retaining with a Swanton Bomb.


Another destruction by the Bludgeon Brothers. I’m surprised we didn’t see any involvement from Naomi. It’s a lot of fun to see these guys just destroy teams.


I was most excited for this match and these guys did not disappoint. Lots of fighting on the ladder, lots of the ladder being used as a weapon, which is what we hope for in a ladder match. The crowd was more into this match than any other before it. Joe didn’t do as much as I expected him to, but I guess with his recent injury history it’s smarter not to do anything too high-risk. The finish kind of came out of nowhere with Rollins racing up the ladder to grab the title just before Balor, but overall this match was awesome. It’s was really cool to see Rollins springboard from the ropes to halfway up the ladder.

Four Saudi prospects beat up Shawn Daivari. That was pretty cool and the crowd absolutely loved it.


Excellent heel wrestling by Nakamura. A cheap shot to the knee and unrelenting attacks gave him control of the match. Both guys’ incredible technical wrestling was on display, perhaps even more so than at Wrestlemania. Both were wrestling face then, so this one has a different dynamic and Nakamura is wrestling a bit of a different style. The fast-paced offense and counters by both is amazing to watch. Nakamura’s kicks are nasty. I hope this crowd truly appreciated watching two of the best in the world, two masters of their craft at the top of their games. The crowd got more into the match as it went on, and how could they not? These two are mesmerizing to watch. A perfect heel move with Nakamura hitting the low blow with the ref’s back turned. As I mention all the time, I feel like I have have recognize and applaud simple and logical heel work because it’s become a lost art. I loved the ending with the double count out and AJ going nuts on Shinsuke. That made this feel extra personal and only serves to strengthen their feud, which will obvious continue. This was an excellent match and excellent character development for Shinsuke’s heel persona, and has me begging for more. I can’t wait to see where the feud goes from here.


Slow match but that’s about all The Undertaker can do nowadays. Taker looks extremely slow and unsteady on his feet. He takes a few of Rusev’s kicks pretty well. If this really is the best he can do, it’s not how we want to remember him. There were definitely some good exchanges and good spots in the match, and overall I found it enjoyable to watch Taker in a casket match. We all know Undertaker has to be done. But who would retire him? We thought Roman did it two years ago. I would have it be Kane.


Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Suplex. Sorry I wasn’t counting and figured I’d just keep tying that and it would be a fairly accurate assessment. F-5. Climb the cage. Finally Roman gets some offense going, and the crowd seems to wake up a bit. Superman punch. Superman punch. Superman punch. Spear. Spear. Spear. Fuck, this looks familiar. Paul Heyman was doing the best work of the match. Just as I was giving up on this borefest, Reigns hit a spear through the cage that almost made me jump right up. God damn. Shit match, bitchin finish, Brock still champion. Ah shit.

#1 – Daniel Bryan
#2 – Dolph Ziggler
#3 – Sin Cara

Ziggler eliminated Sin Cara

#4 – Curtis Axel
#5 – Mark Henry

Mark Henry eliminated Curtis Axel

#6 – Mike Kanellis

Mark Henry eliminated Mike Kanellis in about two seconds

#7 – Hiroki Sumi, some sumo wrestler

Mark Henry eliminated Hiroki Sumi
Dolph Ziggler & Daniel Bryan eliminated Mark Henry

Ziggler does the Michaels things a couple times, barely keeping his feet off the mat and saving himself from elimination

#8 – Viktor

Daniel Bryan eliminated Viktor. Impressed by Viktor’s moves in his very short showing. As I’v said before, hopefully The Ascension is rebuilt into a dominant tag team and not a comedy act

#9 – Kofi Kingston
#10 – Tony Nese

Nese shows off his skills vs. Kofi. I love this guy.

#11 – Dash Wilder

Hornswoggle eliminated Dash Wilder. That was funny.
Tony Nese eliminated Hornswoggle. I no longer love this guy. Bastard.

#13 – Primo
#14 – Xavier Woods

This wasn’t one of Kofi’s more impressive rumble saves, but it still looked pretty damn funny.
Kofi & Woods eliminated Tony Nese

#15 – Bo Dallas
#16 – Kurt Angle. Oh it’s true, it’s DAMN true!

Kurt Angle eliminated Primo
Kurt Angle eliminated Bo Dallas
Kurt Angle eliminated Dolph Ziggler

#17 – Scott Dawson
#18 – Goldust
#19 – Konnor
#20 – Elias

Elias eliminated Konnor, Kofi Kingston, & Xavier Woods. That was excellent. Though I would have liked to hear the song he came up with.

#21 – Luke Gallows

Looked like DB came inches from breaking his neck on Angle’s German suplex attempt.
Elias eliminated Kurt Angle. Tear.

#22 – Rhyno
#23 – Drew Gulak
#24 – Tucker Knight. STEAKS AND WEIGHTS!

Tucker Knight eliminated Drew Gulak

#25 – Bobby Roode

Bobby Roode eliminated Goldust
Bobby Roode eliminated Scott Dawson (or Dawson eliminated himself, or he got hurt and took himself out)

#26 – Fandango
#27 – Chad Gable. Gable holding up Tucker Knight on his shoulders was pretty awesome
#28 – Rey Mysterio

Rey Mysterio eliminates Luke Gallows
The 619 is still the stupidest move.

#29 – Mojo Rawley

Mojo Rawley eliminated Fandango

#30 – Tyler Breeze

Mojo Rawley eliminated Tyler Breeze. Cute moment.

#31 – Big E. PANCACKES!

Big E eliminated Tucker Knight

#32 – Karl Anderson
#33 – Apollo Crews

Apollo Crews eliminated Chad Gable. I love Apollo Crews, I really hope he finds his niche and connects with the crowd, because he is one of the best wrestlers on the roster.

#34 – Roderick Strong. Back breakers galore. Those look brutal.

Roderick Strong terribly eliminates Rhyno. That was awful.

#35 – Randy Orton. As much as he bores me, I LOVE his powerslam. RKO almost immediately. Didn’t look so good.

Randy Orton eliminated Karl Anderson, Mojo Rawley, & Apollo Crews

#36 – Heath Slater
#37 – Babatunde, a Polish wrestler from NXT
#38 – Baron Corbin. He loudly announces his entrance into the match. God damn. He’s attacks are nasty

Baron Corbin eliminates Bobby Roode & Roderick Strong

#39 – Titus O’Neil. Greatest entrance ever.
#40 – Dan Matha

Braun Strowman eliminated Babatunde & Dan Matha
Braun Strowman eliminated Heath Slater

#42 – Tye Dillinger

Braun Strowman eliminated Titus O’Neil & Tye Dillinger. Talk about cleaning house.
Baron Corbin eliminated Rey Mysterio
Randy Orton eliminated Baron Corbin
Elias eliminated Randy Orton
That was an awesome sequence

#43 – Curt Hawkins. Keep the streak going.

Braun Strowman eliminated Curt Hawkins. I love seeing Strowman chase guys down

#44 – Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley eliminated Elias. Sorry Cole.

#45 – The Great Khali

Lashley & Braun sliminated Great Khali. Thank god.

#46 – Kevin Owens
#47 – Shane McMahon

Love to see Shane & DB kicking the shit out of KO.

#48 – Shelton Benjamin
#49 – Big Cass, who immediately mauls Daniel Bryan

Shane should stop hurting himself, but shit, the coast to coast is still amazing.

#50 – Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho eliminated Shelton Benjamin
Jericho finally gets his hands on Owens, until Cass kicks his head off.
Braun Strowman eliminated the shit out of Shane McMahon. Should have expected Shane would do something like that.
Braun Strowman eliminated Bobby Lashley, Chris Jericho, & Kevin Owens
Big Cass eliminated Daniel Bryan. Oh no.


That was so much fun. That’s how you do a Royal Rumble. Braun was the obvious choice to win. I went with Daniel Bryan. I was close, but I’m certainly not gonna be upset with this outcome. That’s a really cool looking belt that Braun gets too.

A lot of good, some bad. What did you guys think of the show?

Greatest Royal Rumble Predictions

Kaliso vs. Cedric Alexander

Fast-paced action will wow and entertain the crowd. No way I can see these guys putting on a bad match. It’s possible Buddy Murphy gets himself added to the match, which would be awesome.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander


We’ll definitely see Naomi getting involved here, but I wonder how much. Will she get hurt? Will the Bludgeons take her captive? Will she throw in the towel? My guess is that she’ll make the referee stop the match somehow to avoid serious injury to her husband. Whatever she does, it won’t stop the severe beating that Harper and Rowan are going to hand out.

Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. Sheamus & Cesaro

There’s been a lot of push behind Matt and Bray and I certainly don’t expect it to end here. This team has a ton of potential. The Bar will be DELETED!

Prediction: Deleater of Worlds

Jinder Mahal vs. Jeff Hardy

Just so Jinder can’t say he never got his rematch. They put on a pretty good match on Raw, I expect an even better one here with Jeff putting on a big show for the… big show.

Prediction: Jeff Hardy

John Cena vs. Triple H

Billed as a “grudge match” for people who probably have no idea why there’s a grudge. I myself can’t even think back that long. Two legends who can still put on a hell of a show. Cena is the superhero and will be pushed as such to this crowd.

Prediction: John Cena

Rusev vs. The Undertaker

Big rub to Rusev getting to work with the legend. Then he wasn’t working with him. Now he is again. It’s awesome for him and it’s always special to see Undertaker in the ring, but why are these two guys having a match? And a casket match at that, which has always been the culmination of a lengthy and brutal feud? There’s been no build, I don’t think these two have even shared a ring, maybe outside of a Royal Rumble. Cool match, but I don’t get why it’s happening, and that takes away a lot of the intrigue for me.

Prediction: The Undertaker

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz

The match I’m most excited for. All bets are off in a ladder match, especially with guys like Rollins and Balor who go balls-out ever match. Miz is no slouch in these match. I expect Joe to steal the show in this match and shock people with some high spots. Prediction: Carnage, brutality, pain.

Prediction: Seth Rollins

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. A.J. Styles

I wonder if Nakamura will try any low blows. This is a tough match to call. Usually a top face is best suited chasing a championship than as champion. As a face, Stone Cold never wanted to be champ for very long for that very reason, he felt it made his character better. He was right. Then again, maybe they want to see more of Nakamura as a heel before they decide if and when they want to put the belt on him. I don’t feel like a Nakamura title run would be the best thing right now.

Prediction: A.J. Styles

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

Rumor has it that Vince wanted to save Roman’s title win for a more accepting crowd. Another rumor is that Lesnar’s deal is short term until he drops the belt. Roman winning the title would certainly be a huge moment and make this show extremely memorable. I couldn’t see him losing again unless WWE is planning to move on from him, and I definitely don’t see that happening.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Everybody Else vs. Everybody Else

Braun Strowman is the trendy and obvious choice here. He’s been on an absolute tear. He’s been unbeatable. He won a tag team battle royal by himself. He won the tag team titles (mostly) by himself (sorry Nicholas). Who else could possibly win this match? Is there anyone who always seems to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds? Someone who’s made a career out of it, who seems to capture the hearts and emotions of the entire WWE Universe? Someone who’s triumphs are highlighted and glorified time and time again? The simple answer: YES!

Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Do my predictions suck? Let me know in the comments.

NXT Review, 4/25

Kyle O’Reilly looks like a random 12-year-old they picked out of the crowd. Roddy gives a lame excuse for joining the Undisputed Era. Definitely the right choice for his character though. The story of the match is Lorcan smartly working on Cole’s injured ribs. The crowd loves Oney Lorcan, I’m not sure why. I like him, but I’m curious to how he’s as over as he is. I would guess it’s because he’s small and scrappy, I can see him reminding people of Daniel Bryan in some ways. Smart heel tactics from the Undisputed Era here. I’m surprised how much I end up praising simple and logical booking and tactics, that it’s seem to become the exception rather than the rule these days. You have a heel faction that is trying to run NXT, so of course it makes sense for them to use their numbers advantage to cheat to win in a title defense. I wonder if we’re going to see Lorcan, Danny Birch, Pete Dunne, and maybe one or more other guys band together against them.

They announce Candice LeRae vs. Bianca Belair for next week. These are two of my favorite wrestlers right now. Both women are the total package and I see huge things on the horizon for them, both in NXT and eventually on the main roster. I’ve seen more of Bianca Belair so I’m more familiar with her, but I’ve also been blown away by what I’ve seen from Candice.

I’m a big fan of Heavy Machinery, not so much Sabbatelli & Moss, but I think my dislike of them is actually heel heat, so they must be doing a good job. Otis Dozovic’s voice is so weird. He reminds me of a pirate from “Hook.” Tino walks out on Moss, probably setting up a match between the two. Heavy Machinery gives us all what we want and calls out War Raiders after the match.

Shayna is shown intimidating Dakota Kai, who cowers like a kitten. I’m not sure what they’re doing with Kai there. They shows clips of Nikki Cross, Aaliyah, and Kairi Sane saying they’re coming for Shayna, then show Dakota Kai acting scared to death of her. How does that do Kai any favors with the crowd?

Instead we get treated to another Gargano-Ciampa brawl, and Ciampa’s brutal beat down robs us of the championship match. They had an unsanctioned match, so if they’re continuing this feud, what’s next? Iron man match? Steel cage? Hell in a cell? Street fight? Boiler room brawl? Punjabi prison match? Tuxedo match? Crutch on a pole? Judy Bagwell on a forklift? Whatever it is, give me more.

This was probably just a way to let the crowd see Sanity one more time before they debut on SmackDown. The hanging dragon sleeper from the top rope is something new and awesome. At least I’ve never seen it before. Black constantly reminds me why he’s my favorite wrestler right now. I’m always thoroughly entertained by his matches. His style is so unique and he seems to be able to put on tremendous matches with anybody. Eric Young has a unique style as well, a lot of innovative moves. I often wish I had watched guys like him and AJ in TNA, but I think I watched one episode of it years ago and could never bring myself to watch it again. Aleister standing tall over the three departing members of Sanity is a fitting way for them to go.

Mauro ends the show appropriately: “DAMN YOU, TOMMASO CIAMPA!”

Damn you, indeed. Thoughts?

205 Live Review, 4/24

Both of these guys wrestle such a fast-paced style, making for a really fun match. TJP slows things down a bit more often than Ali does with his submission moves. It makes more sense for at least one of the wrestlers to try and ground the other when you have two high flyers than for both guys to be going full speed the whole match. Of course with this being a gauntlet match, they need to save some energy as well. The 054 never fails to impress me. Interesting choice to have TJP, the former cruiserweight champion who felt insulted to have to possibly go through four other men to get a title shot, lose first in the gauntlet match.

These two renew their feud from the “old” 205 Live, the high flyer vs. the leader of the “No Fly Zone” movement. Smart wrestling by Gulak to continue to work on Ali’s knee after it was weakened by TJP. Ali gets tossed off the top rope to the outside and at first it scared the shit out of me when he hit the steps. Obviously he was fine or they wouldn’t have let Gulak pull him back into the ring, but god damn, that was terrifying for a second. Gulak’s submission offense is brutal.

Nese comes firing out of the gate after his former friend who embarrassed him in the championship tournament, and does a good job at making this match feel personal. That could be a disadvantage for Nese, as Gulak keeps it all business and won’t be distracted by emotions. No sooner had I typed this than Nese neglects to go for a pin when he has the match won and instead gets caught in the Gu-Lock and losing the match.

Gulak side-stepping and tossing Kalisto into the barricade on the suicide dive attempt looked nasty. Kalisto’s lucha style vs. Gulak’s technical and submission offense was actually really good. Gulak is good at using Kalisto’s moment against him. Kalisto escapes the Gu-Lock and celebrates a win with Lucha House Party.

Smackdown Review, 4/24

Lot’s of hate for Miz tonight, love it. I’m always surprised at the lack of “WHAT” chants when Miz cuts a promo. I think it’s because whether they like him or not, people want to hear what he has to say. Cass’ promo sets up a feud with Daniel Bryan, and seems pretty obvious Cass attacked Bryan in the back. That’ll be interesting to see. We haven’t really seen much of what Cass can do as a singles competitor, I wonder how they’ll mesh in the ring. Cass is really good on the mic and this promo sets a really good foundation for their feud, as he lays out the reasons why he hates Daniel Bryan, feeling that his own return from injury was overshadowed by Bryan’s. Simple, logical way to generate a feud.

Make it fucking stop. This is horribly painful. OH MY GOD, THE EMPRESS OF YESTERDAY! THEY’RE SO FUNNY! I’ll give them credit for SOME good heel comments, saying they’re better than Asuka since they beat up Charlotte and Charlotte beat Asuka. I’ll also commend their wrestling ability, but holy shit, limit them to in-ring stuff. That’ll never happen, but I can dream. They get an old-school heel win with Peyton’s feet on the ropes. Good, it’s over.

I’m not sure how I feel about Naomi getting involved in this feud. It’s cool that her distraction got Jimmy a surprise win. I just don’t have much interest in her involvement, it doesn’t help the feud in my opinion.

As I said in my Raw review, heels get to have the most fun, and get to cut the best promos, as proven here by Carmella. Grade A trolling as she makes us sit through her highlight video TWICE because the crowd isn’t cheering enough. Thankfully the second showing was interrupted by Charlotte. Her taunting of Charlotte was terrific. She has to love playing the heel. This ended the way all contract signings do, except they somehow botched smashing Carmella’s face into the table.

Randy bores the hell out of me. The RKO is still cool as hell but I feel like I almost immediately lose interest in any feud he’s involved in. Hardy and Benjamin had a terrific match last week, I was looking forward to seeing a rematch. This match, not so much. Orton’s last feud that interested with me was with Bray Wyatt over a year ago. And whenever I heard Orton is “headed to that place” I cringe. It annoys the hell out of me. The only thing I liked about this match was the RKO to Sunil Singh.

Daniel Bryan gets a match with Big Cass at Backlash.

Samoa Joe always cuts awesome and chilling promos. In some ways he reminds me of Jake Roberts.

Graves points out the the Undertaker has never won a casket match on Rusev Day. It’s a fair point. Nakamura gets a remixed entrance to keep the fans from singing along with his theme now that he’s a heel. A heel win for Nakamura after a blind tag, but AJ finally gets his hands on him for a moment, before another dick punch. Anderson steps in and takes a Kinshasa for AJ, and gets a second one for his troubles. AJ needs to start wearing that metal cup that Road Dogg used against to neutralize Chyna’s main attack.

I give the show a Meh.

Raw Review, 4/23

The show fitting starts with a ten-bell salute and a video tribute to possibly the greatest champion in the wrestling history, Bruno Sammartino. I’ve watched some of his old matches on the network, and while it’s a totally different from of sports entertainment today than it was then, you could tell just how much he meant to the fans and how “over” he was, as well as how dedicated he was to his craft. I’m glad they are giving him the recognition he is due, and that he reconciled with WWE and Vince before he died. If you haven’t watched his Legends with JBL interview on the network, I highly recommend it.

The 1,300th episode of Raw gets right to it with Lesnar and Heyman. Hostile crowd for Lesnar, I love it. I still don’t understand why the crowd will chant along with Heyman and then immediately boo when they’re done. Heyman is the best troll in the business, but why does he even bother bragging about Lesnar beating up on Roman? It’s supposed to be a heel tactic, but the crowd does nothing but cheer it. They do make a feeble attempt at a Roman chant. Usually I enjoy Heyman’s promos, but this one just dragged on. Roman’s music is a welcome interruption. It sounds like there’s more cheers for him than usual. I’ve softened my feelings on all the boos he gets, as long as he gets A reaction, it’s a good thing. That seemed like a pretty pointless interaction. I guess it was just to show that Roman still has confidence after his loss, but after all the physicality every week leading up to Wrestlemania, this segment fell flat with me. The crowd was into it though, so I guess that’s all that matters.

I would have like to see Elias troll the crown brilliantly once again. Bobby Roode bores me to death as a face. There was no build or promotion for this match, why am I supposed to care about it? And I get it, Bobby Roode says GLORIOUS. Enough. In general I really enjoy Elias’ matches, he’s a solid wrestler and has improved a lot from his NXT days. They gave these guys a lot of time and they had a really good match. But again, there’s just really no reason for me to care about it, there’s no history or storyline with these guys. I’m surprised Elias got the win with Roode being the new guy on Raw.

Weirdly fun promo from Woken Matt and Bray Wyatt. They’re awesome together, I hope they remain a tag team for a while. I wonder if there’s any way back for The Ascension from being either a comedy team or jobbers. It’s mind boggling what they were in NXT compared to what they are on the main roster. They looked strong in this match, so hopefully this is a starting point on that road to recovery. We all knew they wouldn’t get the win, but at least it wasn’t a squash. I think they need to wrestle some squash matches against jobbers themselves. As for Matt and Bray, I’d like to see them win the tag titles.

Sami and Kevin are expert heels. This segment does a really good job at building anticipation for Angle, Bryan, and Jericho getting their hands on KO and Sami. A big tag match is announced for tonight against Strowman and Lashley. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Axel and Dallas trying to re-form The Shield with Rollins is pretty damn funny. Hopefully this becomes a running gag with them looking for a new mentor every week.

A tweak to Drew McIntyre’s theme song, it sounds bad ass. Apollo is too damn talented in the ring to be stagnating the way he is. His character just doesn’t connect with the crowd. Does he need a heel turn, or a character change? Could he win the crowd over if they give him the mic? I don’t know the answer, but he has the makings of a champion  on athleticism alone, but he’s relegated to a tag team jobber. The tandem finisher by McIntyre and Ziggler was awesome. McIntyre’s promo after the match hopefully means he’s ready to tear through the roster with a vengeance.

Some backstage insults and shoving lead to a match that intrigues me, I thought it could be a very good one with their styles. Gable is a face now after coming to Raw. I was not disappointed by the match, Gable is great at selling Jinder’s power moves, and his comeback is awesome with his incredible athleticism. Old school tactics by Gable continuously attacking the same leg, but Jinder fails to sell it. The ending didn’t look great but overall I was entertained by the match.

I cringed as they let Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan have some mic time for the first time in months, but they kept it short and to the point and didn’t sound awkward and dumb. Some improvement there, especially from Logan. She was brutal before. Baby steps.

Dallas and Axel try to join the Balor Club. I love it, keep it going. I’d love for them to ultimately end up joining with Matt and Bray.

Lashley looked excellent. It felt like he spent way too long in the ring without tagging in Strowman, but it made the hot tag extremely effective and the place came unglued, you could see most of the crowd on its feet. Strowman may be the most over guy on the roster. Lashley’s hesitation suplex is sweet. Sami plays the practice dummy for the last few minutes of the match to everyone’s delight. Strowman’s shoulder block on Owens looked brutal.

Corbin pulls a predictable but sensible ambush on No Way Jose. Simple is best when it comes to good heel work.

Bliss tells a hilarious story about Nia stealing a burrito bowl from an old lady. The heels definitely get to have the most fun.

Why are they still being called the Miztourage after The Miz has left Raw, and why are they still using his music? This was an offensive showcase for Rollins and Balor. Fun and easy win.

Natalya is a face once again. It’s funny how simply switching shows turns someone face or heel. Ember Moon hit a vicious-looking suicide dive. I love watching Natalya in the ring, she’s such an incredible wrestler. I often wonder what it’s like for other women to get in the ring with Nia, knowing what they’re about to endure. Her dive off the apron had to be terrifying for all the other women. As I was typing “I’m not sure why they have Mickie continue to attack Natalya’s knee”, Joan Jett answered my question. Ronda is going to be wrestling Mickie on the European tour, so it makes sense to set up the feud this way.

A lot of fun matches tonight. Not a lot of storyline progression, but they are only one week removed from the shakeup and less than a week away from the Greatest Royal Rumble, so I guess that’s to be expected. What did you guys think of tonight’s show?

NXT, 4/18

Johnny Gargano is officially an NXT Superstar again. He says he could not have done it without the fans and his wife. Candace announces she’s taking on Zelina Vega tonight. Johnny then says he will be Aleister Black’s first challenger. That’s a match I’m damn excited for.

Ricochet shows off some agility early but Aichner catches him and hits a few power moves and kicks in the corner. Aichner smartly tries to keep the pace slow and keep Ricochet on the mat. Ricochet uses his speed to hit some counters and a dropkick out of the corner. He shows off some power of his own with chops and forearms. His springboard European uppercut looks pretty awesome, and he follows it up with a standing shooting star press, which never fails to impress me. He blocks a superplex attempt and finishes the match with an eye-popping 630. Holy shit this guy is impressive. I’ve never seen that before. Color me awestruck.

God help these jobbers. Rowe hits a devastating running knee to start the match, and it doesn’t get any better from there. This one didn’t last long, and was a brutal squash. I love these powerhouse tag teams like War Raiders, AOP, and the Bludgeon Brothers. Give me more. They throw up the metal horns, which instantly makes them my new favorite tag team.

Shayna interrupts a meeting in the women’s locker room and says thinks have changed, and this is her locker room now. Nobody looks ready to step up. She’s a great heel, I really want to see her get smashed.

A vignette is show for the return of Kona Reeves. I don’t remember much of him.

Strap in for this one. Very likely a blowoff match as it’s been made official that Sanity is moving up to SmackDown. The match moves to the outside very quickly and Sullivan gets tossed into the steps. Dain goes for a suicide dive, but Sullivan counters, runs him spine first into the ring post, and hits a suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, Lars hits a ton of clubbing crossface blows, then hits a powerful German suplex. He goes to the top rope and hits a diving clothesline to the floor but came down really god damn hard on the steel ramp. That did not sound good. Back in the ring he goes to the top again and hits a diving headbutt. We certainly haven’t seen this kind of offense from Lars to this point. Now the fun starts as Lars starts to toss chairs into the ring, while the crowd chants for tables. After a chair shot to Dain’s ribs, Sullivan digs the chair into Dain’s upper body in the corner. Dain makes a comeback with a running dropkick, a fireman’s carry, and a Vader bomb for a two count. Dain appeases the crowd and gets a table, setting it up the corner while keeping Lars at bay with a few chair shots. Sullivan counters with a slam as Dain tries to throw him through the table and goes for a diving headbutt, but Dain gets out of the way and he nails the chair head first. After each man teases going through the table a few times, Dain hits a cross body on Sullivan that drives him through the wood. Dain puts a chair over Sullivan and looks pull a Shane McMahon with a coast to coast but Sullivan gets up and after a few shots back and forth, hits a freak accident onto a pile of chairs for the win. That match was awesome. Dain’s face was busted. I could watch these two wrestle every night. Dain was the perfect guy for Sullivan to feud with, but now that he’s headed to SmackDown, who will stand in Sullivan’s way? Not many big mean in NXT at the moment so it could be challenging to book him.

Candice gets in some pretty cool offense early before being distracted by Almas. Johnny comes down immediately to even things up. Both of these women look tremendous in the ring. Candice catches Zelina in the Gargano Escape. Almas tries to interfere but Johnny catches him in the Gargano Escape as well as Zelina taps out. That was a great match, send the crowd home happy, and smart for Zelina to put Candice over on her way out. Candice is an amazing wrestler and I expect her to be in the women’s title hunt very soon.

After the match, Johnny officially lays down a challenge to Aleister Black. The greatest theme music of all time hits and Black comes out to give Johnny a title match next week. Count me the hell in.

205 Live, 4/17

Daivari cuts a backstage promo saying that Mustafa Ali deserves to be at the back of the line to be number one contender for the Cruiserweight Championship. These two put on a high-paced match with both men showing off their styles. Daivari hits a nasty-looking superkick. I always wonder how they make those kicks look so brutal. I won’t ask Goldberg or Bret Hart. He also hits Ali with a terrific spinebuster outside the ring. He nails a frog splash for a two count. More powerful offense from Daivari as he misses hit hammerlock lariat but turns Ali inside out with a running clothesline. A bitchin looking counter from Ali as he backflips out of a reverse superplex and Daivari falls backwards from the top to the mat. Ali hits the 054 for the win. An awesome 10-minute match with a ton of sweet-looking moves from Daivari and Ali showing off his incredible high-flying abilities.

Drake Maverick announces that Cedric Alexander was supposed to defend his title against Buddy Murphy at the Greatest Royal Rumble, but Murphy did not make weight, and there will be a gauntlet match next week to determine the number one contender.

Welcome back Brian Kendrick, as he and Gallagher take on two jobbers. Gallagher shows off his innovative body-manipulating offense, Kendrick comes in and hits some stiff kicks and elbows. Scalise makes a tag to a reluctant Latibris and Kendrick continues his savage attacks. Gallagher comes back in, Kendrick gets a blind tag, and after a head butt from Gallagher, Kendrick puts Latibris in the Captain’s Hook for the tag. Longer and better match than I thought it would be. Kendrick and Gallagher are such a good team, it must be ridiculously painful to be in the ring with them. Kendrick hits stiff strikes and Gallagher twists and bends bodies in ways they shouldn’t be twisted and bent.

Drew Gulak runs down Tony Nese and says he will win the gauntlet match next week. I’m a big fan of Gulak’s work.

Haven’t seen a straight up tornado tag team match in a long time. I like how they’ve built this rivalry and it’s cool to see the Japanese style vs. the lucha style. Lucha House Party starts attacks Itami and Tozawa on their way down the ramp and hit double suicide dives before everyone gets in the ring and the match starts. LHP keeps Itami down on the outside and goes to work on Tozawa until he hits a reversal and the Japanese team gets the upper hand. A lot of action outside the ring, and a lot of double teaming with one guy constantly down on the outside. Not a big fan of that, I want to see all four guys going at it, right Adrian? There’s no point in having the tornado tag match, might as well say this team gets a two-on-one for two minutes, then a bell rings and it switches. Finally we get all four guys in the ring with Tozawa and Itami each putting submissions on the luchadors. Then of course Metalik gets thrown to the outside again, as Dorado gets a two-on-one again, with Itami nearly ripping his mask off. There must be some kind of new rule in WWE that says no more than three guys going at it in the ring at once except in battle royals. Itami goes outside and bounces Metalik’s head off the announce table to ensure we still won’t get the action we want. Itami and Tozawa continue to just kick at Dorado, and Itami continues to try to take his mask off. Out of nowhere, Metalik hits a double dropkick from the top rope halfway across the ring. He and Dorado hit double Asai moonsaults and all four men are down outside. Itami whips Dorado over the ring steps, Metalik hits Itami with a superkick, and Tozawa hits a suicide dive that knocks Metalik over the announce table. All four men end up on the top turnbuckle. Metalick hits a double sunset flip on Itami and Tozawa while they hit a double superplex on Dorado. Looks cool but still lazy if that’s all we get of all four guys in the ring. A series of two counts and pin breakups and Itami yelling RESPECT ME! Dorado hits a double springboard stunners for a two count on both guys. Crowd gives them the “THIS IS AWESOME” chant. Tozawa goes for a kick to Metalik, who ducks, and he gets Itami. Double top rope jumps from the luchadors lead to a double pin and a win for Lucha House Party. Kalisto comes out to celebrte with them. As I said, that match could have had more action that wasn’t just one team double-teaming the other, but it got really good towards the end.

As always some terrific matches on 205 Live, and if you don’t watch it, START.