- I struggle to understand where either Bayley or Becky Lynch is going in the NXT women’s climate. Bayley had a solid run as the top face, but then lost cleanly twice to Charlotte, making her a non-contender. Then, Charlotte turned face and now Bayley basically seems to be around solely for Sasha Banks to beat on. Lynch hasn’t done much to impress either, character-wise. Currently, she seems to be a very vanilla “Rocker chick”, which isn’t a compelling character. One would hope that she’d get a rub from working with Banks; however, she looks to be just spinning her wheels right now. That’s something that the whole division seems to be doing until Charlotte moves on to the Raw roster. It’s kind of the problem any NXT program is going to have that involves the current champion. WWE doesn’t want to hurt the champions credibility when they move up to WWE, so they don’t drop the title until they’re already on their way out. Therefore, Charlotte is probably not losing for a very long time (barring a call-up), and the rest of the division is just waiting for her to leave to make the title chase semi-interesting again. As a developmental league, NXT is amazing, but it is tough to build a compelling program around a champion who might be leaving soon. That said, I did love the Bo Dallas story toward the end. And Neville’s story with Zayn is excellent, but I think both guys are leaving, so they want them both to look strong. I don’t know, maybe I’m overthinking things. I just can’t get interested in the stories being told in the women’s division, and a lot of that has to do with Charlotte being an obvious winner almost every time she competes. That hurts her opponent and it certainly hurts the people under her on the card.
- I’m glad I had a lot to say about Bayley and Becky Lynch. That means we can skip over the second segment, which was pretty terrible, even for a gimmick match.
- FIGHT STEEN FIGHT! The first promo is here ladies and gentlemen! And we even get a date. Holy crap. Ever since Itami debuted, I feel like I’ve had a huge mark-out moment every single month in NXT. I already could not wait for December 11th, but now my hype level is in another stratosphere. Will my dream of a Zayn-Steen Canadian tag team come true? Why do I have to sit through Survivor Series before I get to Our Evolution?
- I’ve seen quite a few people talk about how great Baron Corbin has been early in his career. They point to his “presence” as something that can’t be taught and say that it will take him a long way towards WWE stardom. However, I just don’t see it. Does he have a good look? I guess so. Is he huge and powerful? Obviously. But other than that, I find him kind of boring. He just comes out and dominates nobodies. Why is that something we should all get behind? I must say that the crowd counting down how long it takes for him to squash someone was pretty hilarious. However, they then did the same for Bull Dempsey, which almost makes me think someone told them to do it. If it was a manufactured thing, that makes it mean a lot less, and I kind of hate it. Of course, I’ll never know, so I’ll just pretend that the crowd did it on their own and finally give myself a reason to like Corbin.
- CJ Parker’s butt tattoo might be the most noteworthy moment of his match against Tyson Kidd. Obviously, anytime Kidd gets in the ring, you’re going to be treated to an excellent technical bout. Tonight was no different, and Parker actually looked pretty decent out there. However, that butt tattoo….man. Parker needs some longer trunks. In other news, Kidd still struggles to talk, but that’s okay. If he stays in NXT for the rest of his career, that might not be such a bad thing. At least at this level he’s in the main event and gets to show off his incredible wrestling ability instead of doing two-minute matches on Smackdown.
- Is anyone having more fun in wrestling right now that Enzo and Big Cass? These guys are easily the best gimmick in the wrestling business today and I cannot wait to see what they do on Raw and Smackdown. These guys are a throwback to when tag teams where fun. We’re talking Edge and Christian. Jericho and Christian. The Dudleyz. Enzo and Big Cass aren’t the wrestlers those three teams were, but their charisma is on that same level. When these guys get to the arena, the entertainment factor of that show goes through the roof. It just doesn’t get better than these two bonafide Gs.
- The Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn storyline took a slight hitch this week. Putting his career on the line definitely gives this match some added gravity; however, it would be nice to see one of the two turn heel after what happened last week. Whether it’s Zayn going off the deep end and having the loss break him or Neville make a full turn after pulling out some heelish tactics in the championship match, something extra was needed here. That doesn’t mean this match will fail to live up to the hype at Our Evolution. From far from it actually. After all, these are two of the best in-ring workers in the company and whatever they do will be excellent. That said, the story doesn’t have as much “pop” as it could have had with a turn for one of the two competitors. Zayn’s character continues to slightly evolve week-to-week, but Neville seems to be stuck in neutral. In fact, it seems like he’s currently only serving as a prop to build up Zayn’s story. Had he turned heel, we could’ve seen him grow as a character along with Sami. Sadly, all we’re getting is a great match with little in the way of character building. Maybe they want to keep Neville as a face for the Raw and Smackdown call-up that is surely coming. However, that robs us NXT fans of seeing a good story play out in the coming weeks.
- Closing Thoughts: The return of Enzo and Big Cass to our television also brought about the revelation that Kevin Steen will be debuting at NXT: Our Evolution, which is monumental news. The story-telling in the men’s and women’s championship scene has become a little too vanilla for my taste, but the in-ring product is still excellent. Finally, I’m still not seeing the reason behind the hype for Baron Corbin. He’s solid, but doesn’t jump off the screen. However, something we can all agree upon is that December 11th is going to be a great night.
- Well, that’s quite a crew for The Authority. Triple H’s posse is running ten deep tonight. It will be interesting to see who all sticks around after Survivor Series is over. I highly doubt The Authority is going to lose and be out of power and, personally, I think it would be great if they got Kane out and had Luke Harper take his place as the team’s de facto enforcer. He’s just so much more fun to watch than the old, slow Kane. I’m not saying Kane should hang up the boots, but maybe he should start thinking about it. Let a young guy take his spot on the roster and give Seth Rollins some backup that I actually believe can dole out some punishment.
- Look at Trips calling out his Kliq mates with his WCW jab! That’s a deep cut, Hunter. And then Steph digs into the well with some Ryback-Cena footage from last year. You gotta love when the WWE actually acknowledges the past instead of just randomly throwing two guys together for a match. When they do stuff like that, the match has real history and gives the feud even more impact. Should Ryback stay neutral, this could set up a feud with Cena that might actually work.
- It isn’t often that I can say I’m legitimately surprised with WWE booking, but I’m legitimately surprised that they took the Intercontinental belt off of Ziggler. Throughout that match, I felt that they were going to let Ziggler make the comeback and then have the match end in a DQ with some interference from Rollins. But they gave Harper the title and left Ziggler in the ring. I’m not saying it was the wrong move storyline-wise (and in some ways, it is because it goes a long with the story being told that The Authority will demolish anyone who stands in their way), I just hate it for Dolph. Ziggler works harder than anyone in the business and is probably the best Intercontinental champ of the past five years. I hope he gets a title back soon, because if anyone deserves to hold a strap, it’s Ziggler.
- With so much of Ambrose and Wyatt’s feud regulated to Smackdown, it’s great to finally see these guys get some play on the big show. These are two of your biggest stars right now and they need to be put in a bigger spotlight than they have been over the last few weeks. Their promos have been excellent throughout and Wyatt’s, in particular, have been deeply personal. For a feud that basically came out of nowhere during Hell in a Cell, these two have really built something. Obviously, we’re still waiting for the big blow-off between Ambrose and Rollins, but this is one of the best appetizers I’ve had in quite some time.
- Mizdow can make anything watchable. Bringing in Grumpy Cat was WWE’s latest ploy to try and get some outside publicity, but then they paired the feline up with MIzdow. It wasn’t comedy gold, but I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Mizdow sure makes losing Santino much easier for the fans when Vince decides he wants more “comedy”, doesn’t he?
- Where is Cesaro on the Survivor Series card? Is he even going to be involved? Cesaro is one of the best in-ring wrestlers the WWE has, and he might not even be on the card unless something comes up in the next few days. There is, apparently, a spot opposite Fandango in a singles’ match, but the WWE should be able to find a better spot for the Swiss Superstar. This is why, in fantasy booking Survivor Series, I included a second traditional Survivor Series match between guys from NXT and guys from WWE. The Authority vs. Cena match just takes too many quality competitors out of the picture and leaves guys like Cesaro without anything to do. Here’s hoping they announce something relatively big in the coming days.
- Does Zeb Colter know Sheamus isn’t a US citizen? Has this been an angle yet? Make this happen WWE Creative! This is something I want to see immediately. I don’t know why, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it.
- I said in my first bullet point that I couldn’t see The Authority losing on Sunday; however, I think I’ve changed my tune. Everything is pointing down for Cena. Ziggler is potentially hurt. Sheamus and Show are currently fighting over a WWE Championship opportunity. And who knows whom the fifth member of the team will be. All signs are pointing to Super Cena rearing his ugly head, coming back from “unbeatable odds”, and pulling a massive upset. From there, maybe we see an angle that has The Authority (or whatever they’re called post reign) feuding with whoever comes back into power; culminating in a Wrestlemania match between Triple H and the new Raw GM or their champion. Depending on how they book it, that could be fun to watch. It also might give WWE an opportunity to bring back a couple of older guys to fight in-ring for The Authority and their opponent. You could see something like Triple H vs. The Rock. Or even get what everyone wants and have Undertaker vs. Sting (admitted pipe dream that will never happen). It’s not what I want as a fan of the younger guys, but it would draw money. And that’s all that matters to Mr. McMahon, it seems like.
- We’ve had all three singles’ promos for the New Day faction, so now we just need all three guys together. I’m so ready to see what this is. It might turn into nothing, but I like all three guys and want to see them succeed. Maybe they can as stable; it certainly has helped quite a few other young Superstars. No matter what though, they have to let Big E talk more. Dude’s hilarious when they let him be.
- Does anyone else think it’s really weird that this bout obviously means so much to Triple H and he’s not in the match itself? That speech was so passionate and felt completely real, but then he’s just going to let five other guys take care of business for him? This is not the Triple H I know. He needs to be in this match and he needs to stand at the end with Cena. That’s the blow-off the feud needs. Triple H should be in the ring, fighting for his family’s well being. Not on the sideline watching Kane and Mark Henry try and do it for him. I know he’s older and doesn’t want to get in the ring much, but this is the situation that calls for him to step through the ropes with the trunks on and give Cena Pedigree to keep his spot as The Authroity.
- Oh, there’s Cesaro. And…there goes Cesaro. Is he now on Team Authority as like a consultant or something? Or is he still not on the card? Why aren’t they using this man?
- Closing Thoughts: Well, that was an up-and-down show for people trying to predict who’s going to win the Survivor Series match this Sunday. The Authority seemed like the obvious pick early, but as they knocked off Team Cena guys, the law of opposite momentum seemed to turn Cena’s way. Then we had the last segment that left Team Cena standing tall, and now it’s hard to know where they’re going. I suppose that’s a good thing, at the end of the day. What isn’t a good thing is that we’ve barely seen any of Ambrose and Wyatt on Raw since their feud began. Luckily, they finally gave them some microphone time and both guys delivered in a big way. It hasn’t gotten the play that The Authority angle has since Hell in a Cell, but it might be the better story. If I have one gripe, it’s that Triple H won’t be in the ring at Survivor Series. His impassioned speech toward the end of Raw gave this story a very personal feel and the fact that he’s not in the ring when his whole livelihood is on the line is baffling. Never would I expect to see Trips sit on the sideline and let five other guys decide his fate. He has to be involved in some manner this Sunday. Maybe we’ll see the sledgehammer come back (a boy can dream, right?)
- That “Who Are You?” chant from the crowd to Justin Gabriel was pretty classic. I’ve been watching quite a bit of ECW the past few weeks on the Network and I don’t know if the NXT crowd lives up to them (they probably don’t), but the NXT faithful are still pretty excellent. Obviously, you have to give props to the great wrestlers; however, the crowd brings this show to the next level.
- We’re just two weeks into the ascension (see what I did there?) of the Itami/Balor tag team, but man, do they look impressive. Matching them up with Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel was smart because both sets of pairs excel at high-impact moves (particularly kicks) and high-flying finishes. It was an exciting way to start off the show and we were treated to what is sure to become the second most devastating tag team finisher in NXT (no way it’s topping The Fall of Man). One thing I’m watching for over the next few weeks is if they give these two a tag team name and/or name their finisher. If they don’t that probably means we won’t see this team last much longer than December’s PPV. I expect they plan to have these two go the singles route to replace Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn when they move up and, therefore, it would be somewhat silly to give them a name that they’ll just drop in a month or so. Either way, things are looking bright for NXT with Itami and Balor in the mix.
- Sasha Banks has quickly clawed her way back to the top, and she’s well deserving of her current spot. Banks is one of the few Divas in the WWE who’s on Charlotte’s level from a wrestling standpoint and she totally owns her character. It’s weird to see Charlotte morph into a face, as I’ve always felt she was a natural hell; that said, Banks’ heel persona is just so great, that’s it nice to see NXT give us a Charlotte face turn and get these two together. Bayley was solid, but Banks is a much more legitimate threat to Charlotte’s title than the lovable loser ever was. On the other side of the ring, we had Alexa Bliss, who had her usual two minutes of incredible offense, before losing. I feel like Bliss is just a few months away from taking that next step. She’s been slowly getting better in the ring and her time seems right around the corner. That bloody nose looked painful, but it was also one of the few times where a little color actually added to the match. It made Banks seem even more formidable (even though it looked like Bliss actually gave herself that bloody nose).
- I wonder if the Lucha Dragons will drop the titles in December? It’s hard to see them holding the titles for near as long as The Ascension. They’re a good tag team, but they don’t scream “dominant”. That said, The Vaudevillains aren’t on The Ascension’s level either, so it doesn’t seem like they would be ready to carry that torch for too long. It’s just interesting to look at because the winners of NXT titles tend to have relatively long runs. The tag division does have the shortest ones traditionally, but three of the four broke 80 days. The Luchas would be sitting at 91 days (the same length as British Ambition’s run), meaning it would not be a surprise to see them drop the belts. I doubt that we see another Ascension for a while and, with how long main title runs are in NXT, it could be fun to inject a little more unpredictability in the tag team division. I’m not saying change the titles every month, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see more 50 or fewer day runs in the future, given how strong the tag division is in NXT.
- That was one of the better matches you’ll see on NXT. Quality wrestling, and the story Neville and Zayn told tonight was absolutely exceptional. It will be very interesting to see where these guys go from here. Neville is obviously becoming the Number 1 heel in NXT after tonight, but I wonder if the way this happened will lead to Zayn snapping and finally “doing what it takes” to win the big one. It’s a smart move to not give Neville a hard heel turn because his style is always going to suit a face character. If you put him against a guy like Zayn, you have a chance to get people to boo him; however, that’s not happening against many other Superstars. That said, it’s interesting to see him doing something different. Speaking of something different, this story is doing something that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Sami Zayn has always been an incredible wrestler, but now he’s interesting outside the ring as well. The payoff that’s likely to happen in December when Zayn finally wins the title is going to be amazing. NXT is really building this pay-per-view (that’s not really a pay-per-view) in a really interesting and believable way.
- Closing Thoughts: NXT was great last week, one of the best in a while. This week was better. Really, the only thing to complain about is that we haven’t seen Enzo in two weeks, which will have me crying myself to sleep tonight. Outside of that, there’s not much to complain about here. The Itami-Balor connection continues to excite. Sasha Banks becomes a better heel each week. And the Neville-Zayn storyline might be the most interesting thing happening in NXT right now. This is setting up to be quite the event for the company at Takeover: Our Evolution.
You know that feeling you get when you go to the theater to see some movie that you don’t really care about and are kind of assuming it’s going to suck, but then the movie’s over and you find yourself realizing you’ve enjoyed yourself thoroughly? That’s kind of the feeling you get when you play Wolfenstein the New Order.
Or at least, that’s the way I felt. The Wolfenstein franchise has been a shell of itself during the 2000s, which made it hard to believe that this game would be anything to write home about. Fortunately, those low expectations made it easy to like this game. Well, that and the fact that this is a pretty solid experience.
And experience really is the best way to describe it. Interestingly for a first person shooter, the story and character development is really the reason to play this game. This is one FPS where skipping cutscenes will really spoil your playthrough. The production values of these scenes are great, but it’s the people you interact with that really take them over the top. Everyone in your main posse is well worth getting to know and it’s hard to not wish that you got to spend even more time in your base spending time with everyone.
However, when you do get out of your base, the narrative and character development do not slow down. That’s because the main villains are just as excellently built and watching one of them fall off the cliff on sanity is one of the more intriguing developments of the game.
Backing up the excellent stories is an excellent soundtrack. The music that plays during fight segments are particularly great as you feel like you’ve just hit them gym for an intense workout. When that music hits, you can’t help but want to just run into the fight, guns blazing. Which brings us to what really matters, the combat.
I have to say, at first, the gunplay seemed really poor. Nothing felt like it had much impact and enemies sometimes took full clips to take down. However, after you finish the first level, things really start to pick up. For me, the automatic shotguns were the most fun to control, as you could just walk into a room and unload, which was very satisfying. That said, all the guns feel solid, and you’ll probably find your own favorite. Luckily, the game does a good job of enticing you to switch things up and use everything at your disposal.
You see, the upgrade system (in this case various perks) are only unlocked through using your different weapons and abilities. Say you get 10 stealth knife kills, well, then you’ll unlock an extra slot for throwing knifes. In some ways, the upgrade systems feel like the first person shooter version of an Elder Scrolls game. The more you do something, the better your character gets at it.
The only real problem I had with the game was that, while the fight-to-fight gunplay was solid, the few “boss” missions you engaged in were pretty bland. It would have been nice to see them do something completely different than just have you shoot a few weak points and then stab your enemy with a knife.
That said, this game is pretty great if you come in with the right expectations. It’s not going to change your life, but its 10-hour campaign is well worth a weekend playthrough. Not often do you get to go from fighting in a submarine to storming a Nazi base on the Moon. Maybe the most apt comparison would be to say that Wolfenstein is like your favorite guilty pleasure. You might not brag about playing it, but you’ll enjoy yourself.
Should You Play? YES. Wolfenstein doesn’t break the mold much, but it does have an interesting and fun upgrade system. The guns handle well and the game looks great. However, the reason to play is the story and character development. It’s absolutely crazy and you’ll love almost every second of it (those boring boss fights can’t be ignored). Come in with the right expectations and you will not be disappointed.
It’s good to be back to NXT. I’ve missed a week or two due to bad Internet, but I’ve got everything fixed (knock on wood). So, lets get this going.
- Sami Zayn’s road to recovery story is much needed. Zayn is an excellent wrestler and obviously has the pedigree to suggest he’s got the charisma to make almost any gimmick work. Unfortunately, his character has been pretty boring when matched up with guys like Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been exciting in the ring. He’s just kind of “meh” outside of it. Now that he’s engaged in an exciting storyline, I’m hoping he’ll develop a little bit and become less vanilla. I also wonder if Zayn’s push means that Neville is going to Raw before the year ends. You don’t want to leave your roster without someone to carry the show, and if Neville left right now, NXT may find itself short on quality babyfaces. That said, it could allow for either Neville or Zayn to make a heel turn and change up their gimmick somewhat. Time will tell, I suppose.
- Speaking of evolving your gimmick, how much has turning up the aggression done for Tyler Breeze? He was already a great wrestler and possessed a fun gimmick that made him easy to hate. But now, he’s believable as a championship-contender and actually seems like he might make it on Raw. I’ve written in the past that I thought his gimmick might not work outside of the NXT crowd (much like Adam Rose), but I wonder if the fact that people are supposed to hate him will make it easier for him to get over with a ridiculous gimmick. You can see how hardcores might struggle to get behind Rose’s gimmick, but they’ll love to hate Breeze’s character. And the fact that he can back it up with great wrestling and solid in-ring storytelling, gives him more potential than I thought he had a just a month ago.
- Dash Wilder, eh? That’s uh…that’s a name. I guess? Jeez…
- The way the announcers are calling this, I would be very surprised if Wilder doesn’t pull a surprise upset. He’s looked pretty solid so far, though it’s hard to tell when he’s seemingly spent half of the match in a chinlock. Well, he didn’t win, but he did have a few nice offensive moves. He showed just enough to make me interested to see what he can do with more time.
- Is Marcus Louis the new Heidenreich? That was all I could think during his extremely weird vignette.
- Man, don’t you wish women’s wrestling was taken this seriously on Raw and Smackdown? Charlotte is an amazing wrestler and can hold her own as either a heel or face (though she definitely trends heel). And Sasha Banks? Oh my word, The Boss is on another level right now as the cowardly heel. You want Charlotte to get her hands on her, but Banks does such a great job of staying away from her champion, while still looking strong in the ring. This is a storyline that’s east to get interested in and Vince McMahon should start watching how the women work on NXT. The WWE roster could learn a lot from these ladies.
- If Itami doesn’t call out Fergal, we riot.
- YESSSS!!!!! He’s finally here! My body is so ready.
- The kicks are flying. I’m marking out like crazy. The NXT crowd could not be more correct, this is the dream team. Fergal’s (okay, Balor’s) foot stomp is on point and looks absolutely devastating. This was one of the more exciting NXT shows I’ve seen in awhile. Potentially their best show since the last Takeover.
- Closing Thoughts: Finn Balor (Fergal Devitt) finally made his debut and it was huge. He’s going to be a major player for the foreseeable future, so remember the time. I’m so excited y’all. Also, Breeze vs. Zayn and the women’s matches were excellent, as always. Wilder vs. Kidd was okay for what it was, but it can’t bring the card down. Next week is set up to be crazy. We have Neville defending his title against Zayn. Potentially another Balor and Itami team-up. And Enzo wasn’t on this show, so maybe he and Big Cass will make an appearance next weekend. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Balor’s debut 100 more times.
Alright, I’ve missed a few Raw/NXT reaction pieces due to a spotty Internet connection, but I think I have it fixed, so hopefully we return to bi-weekly updates from here on out. Anyways, let’s get started with this week’s Raw.
- With Vince McMahon’s new stipulation to the Team Authority vs. Team Cena match (The Authority loses their power if they lose), doesn’t that mean this match is pretty much already decided? I mean, outside of Rusev and maybe Mark Henry, who are the big heels outside of Authority members? And who takes over in power if Trips and Steph are gone? Does Vinny Mac come back to a weekly on-screen role? Or are we going to phase out the “Authority figure” role? I’m not sure what to think, but I don’t want to lose Steph from TV. She’s everything Vicki Guerrero wished she were. And Triple H is never coming back as a full-time wrestler; however, he has to be on TV. This is a move that I’m sure WWE thought would add stakes, but really makes the outcome of the match much more certain. If anything, I’m less interesting, which is never a good thing.
- This contest between Cesaro and Dean Ambrose is very disappointing. Ambrose already has a dancing partner in Bray Wyatt and, when you use Cesaro as fodder in an inconsequential match that only serves to keep two rivals away from each other, it makes me think of him like an after thought. Creative’s struggles to book the mid-card are well documented; however, Cesaro has legitimate main-event skill, so it sucks to see him regulated to stuff like this. At this point, we’re just hoping Cesaro can get on The Authority’s team, have an outstanding Survivor Series, and turn that into another push. Sadly, everything they’ve done with him has been so stop-and-start, that I doubt anything important is coming Cesaro’s way anytime soon.
- So, to recap, we have a match that doesn’t matter (though it was pretty solid), a Bray Wyatt sighting, and then Wyatt “magically” disappears after the match. WWE did nothing to advance the feud, except to say, “Hey, don’t forget, these two are fighting at the end of the month!” What’s the point? If you’re going to keep Wyatt and Ambrose from fighting, the least you can do is let one of them advance their story through a promo. But no, the WWE, in its infinite wisdom, does nothing to help tell the story. At least Cesaro and Ambrose got to showoff their wrestling, I guess.
- Wow, is this a shoot promo from Triple H? He’s telling Dolph’s story (and probably accurately predicting what will happen after Survivor Series). Obviously, in my perfect world, Dolph would drop Cena like a bad habit and join The Authority, letting him go back to being #HEELZiggler. But we all knew that would never happen. There aren’t enough quality babyfaces on the roster for Cena to have anyone else as his second-in-command. I mean, who’s Cena going to pick up? Kofi? Swagger? The Usos? No one left on the babyface scene is anywhere close to Ziggler’s ability, so, to keep it credible, he had to stay with Cena. That doesn’t mean I have to like it though.
- We all talk about how Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are going to be feuding for the next decade, but I think more needs to be said about the potential of Rollins vs. Ziggler. Both guys can really bring it and their chemistry is apparent. It’s going to be a long road for Rollins to crawl back to babyface status someday, but when the turn does come, I hope heel Ziggler is one of his first opponents. Give these guys a three-pay-per-view run and I’ll be a very happy man. Their matches are top-notch and both of them can talk. This has all the makings of an unforgettable rivalry. It won’t get to Rollins vs. Ambrose levels of hype, but it will be a huge draw.
- If The Authority were really the devious masterminds they thought they were, they’d let Orton go to Cena’s side to play the double-cross. Get Orton in Cena’s good graces and then, just as the match is near its end, Orton turns on Cena and gives The Authority the numbers advantage. I’m not saying it’s the way I’d go; however, it plays into the idea of them building up the strongest team possible. I mean, 6v4 is better than 5v5. That’s math, I think.
- I’ve never been a huge fan of goliaths like Mark Henry or the Big Show. They just don’t interest me as anything outside of being a proverbial mountain for some up-and-comer to climb. That said, these two can still put on a solid match. Henry needs to dominate Show at Survivor Series and move on to what could be one last Main Event push. He has enough left in the tank for it and he’s given the WWE a lot over the years, so he deserves it.
- I personally love the way they’re booking Randy Orton right now. Let’s face it, he was going nowhere as a member of The Authority and was becoming unbearably stale in his heel persona. I don’t love the idea of turning him face, but if he stays in a “tweener” role, he becomes interesting. I wrote in my Survivor Series fantasy booking segment that Orton should become something of a mercenary and I have a feeling that’s where he’s headed right now. He should be able to attack anyone he wants, which could free him up to work with guys lower on the card. That should freshen up his act (no more John Cena, please) and give those young guys a potential stepping-stone to the next level. Orton’s a third-generation Superstar and understands the business. He’ll let younger guys (even though he’s actually as young as Ziggler, which is somewhat surprising) go over on him because he knows that will only make the product better. This was the logical and best move for Orton to make and opens up an interesting spot on Team Authority. I’d make a case to include Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury to include as Cena fodder, but I wonder if the WWE will be more ambitious. A team of Triple H, Kane, Rollins, Cesaro, and Mark Henry is star-studded and very interesting. Time will tell, I suppose.
- The “RKO Out of Nowhere!” is getting a little overplayed, but I’m disappointed that Orton didn’t counter Rollins’ Curb Stomp on the steps into the move he’s known for. It would’ve been a great spot to end the show. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.
- Closing Thoughts: This was a pretty boring Raw, as Raws go. They continue to only truly advance one storyline, and this month it’s Team Authority vs. Team Cena. The mid-card feuds (in this case Wyatt-Ambrose, Henry-Show, and Sheamus-Rusev) don’t get much play. Heck, Sheamus and Rusev’s title match wasn’t even on Raw, let alone HuluPlus. That’s too bad, because it’s a feud I was invested in and wanted to see. I thought Sheamus could get a PPV-quality match out of Rusev and wanted to see the title change hands at Survivor Series, paving the way for a Sheamus heel turn. Wyatt and Ambrose got on TV, but just to remind us that, “hey, these guys don’t like each other.” Their story wasn’t advanced in the slightest, making it hard to care. Which is surprising given that this feud started in the main event of Hell in a Cell (which makes you wonder why it’s a mid-card feud suddenly). Henry and Show at least got to take a step in their feud and it has some potential. That said, I’m not a fan of giant clashes, so the sooner Henry moves on, the better for me. Randy Orton’s turn has been coming for awhile now and it makes the Survivor Series matchup much more interesting. Who takes Orton’s spot and how do Orton and Cena mend the fence, so to speak. We’re sure to find out next week. Finally, a Raw without a Mizdow sighting just feels wrong nowadays. Where was that lovable loser?
(Author’s Note: One of the really cool things about Shadows of Mordor is that it lets you build up your own antagonist through the Nemesis system. Throughout my play through, I kept notes on my own Nemesis and have crafted those notes into the following Diary of Talion. I hope you enjoy!)
Day 1- My wife and child are both dead, while I am forced to continue living in a state of near-death. An elven spirit has wrapped itself about my body and has given me more power than I’ve had. I, Talion the Ranger, am now the bringer of justice in this harsh land of Mordor. I will not rest until I have killed enough Uruks to draw out their leader and my family’s murderer, The Black Hand of Sauron. With Celebrimbor at my side, I cannot be beaten.
Day 3- I have “brefriended” an Uruk who calls himself Ratbag. He claims that the only way to get to The Hand is to kill his War Chiefs, thus my course of action is decided. I will hunt these five War Chiefs and end their miserable existence with my potent blade.
Day 5- With my War Chief down and Ratbag installed as his successor, my plan is slowly coming together. I’ve heard tale of a cave filled with some of the best, young warriors the Uruks have. Perhaps I can use this cave to improve my swordsmanship before setting out to find the next War Chief.
Day 6- The cave, it seems, was a mistake. Because of Celebrimbor’s abilities, I can’t actually be killed; however, it is still possible for the Uruks to leave me as close the brink as you can possible be without going all the way over the edge. Today, an Uruk calling himself Zunn did just that. The massive beast was wielding two large axes and seems to be what the Uruk rabble call a “berserker”. He certainly lived up to the billing. It was nigh impossible to counter his blows, especially with upwards of 39 other Uruks fighting alongside him. In the end, the numbers game caught up to me and Zunn was able to land the blow that sent me reeling. I hope to see the Uruk again someday, and make him pay for the damage he did to me today.
Day 9- The local Gondorian Outcasts (my old fellow Ranger Higorn, among them) led me to the Black Gate today, where another War Chief was rumored to be. Unfortunately, before I could find the War Chief I ran into a pack of Uruk Captains: Turgog the Meat Hoarder, Ashgarn the Beheader, Grublik the Poisoner, and my old friend Zunn, now calling himself Meathooks because of the pickaxe-like weapons he weilds. In the ensuing melee, I attempted to get my revenge on Zunn; however, the overwhelming numbers forced me to take my focus off of the damned Uruk. Soon enough, he was able to run away from the fight like the coward he is. I was able to kill both Turgog and Grublik, but they were shallow victories when my real nemesis had eluded me.
Day 13- After killing my third War Chief, I notice that Zunn Meathooks is holding a feast near me. As I come upon the feast, I realize Zunn is again flanked by other Captains. This time there is only two, but after my last encounter, I doubt my ability to finish the job. So instead, I decide that I will simply have fun with Zunn and attempt to humiliate him by ruining his feast. I blow up the majority of his grog barrels, burning Zunn in the process. Zunn again runs away from the fight, proving his growing cowardice. Hopefully the fear inflicted through the burns I inflicted will serve me in the long run.
Day 14- I find the last War Chief, Ugakuga the Ripper, and two his bodyguards holed up in a Uruk stronghold. I bring the fight to them, but the numbers soon overwhelm me. I have to retreat from battle and the last War Chief lives to fight another day. Later, I hear rumors that Zunn Meathooks engaged in a beast hunt that day and Uruks from all around are beginning to be drawn to the young up-start. It would seem my rival’s powers are growing daily.
Day 16- I again see Zunn whilst hunting for Chief Ugakuga. This time, he’s executing a few of his lessors in a show of power. I cannot let this stand, as it will lead to Zunn’s influence increasing more. So I decide instead to free the Uruks Zunn is attempting to execute. I’m able to free three of the four and ruin Zunn’s day. When he sees me from afar, Zunn takes off running. I let him get away this time, as my arrow reserves are quickly dwindling.
Day 20- I finally end Ugakuga’s life, killing the last of the War Chiefs. The Hammer of Sauron arrives to fight me in single combat. Without any Uruks to back him up, I’m able to make short work of The Hammer. Now, my sights are set on Nurn, where a more imposing group of Uruks await me, along with The Hand. I will be back one day, for Zunn still needs to be dealt with. He will not be of this Earth for many more moons.
Day 35- While I’ve been away in Nurn, dominating the minds of Uruk War Chiefs and making them my own, it seems that Zunn has equally been working on his influence. It seems Zunn has made the next step towards being an Uruk leader, becoming a bodyguard for new War Chief Urshak the Mountain. Something must be done about this.
Day 36- I find The Mountain’s base of operations and proceed to draw him out of his hiding place. Zunn comes with him and they meet me in the field. I chip away at The Mountain’s health, while keeping Zunn off my back. The Mountain cannot fend off my blade and he quickly becomes injured. He attempts to get away, running into the distance. In my rush, I forgo fighting Zunn in favor of ending The Mountain’s life. The Mountain dies to my blade; however, Zunn gets away. Word quickly spreads that Zunn has taken over for The Mountain and become the newest War Chief in Mordor. It would seem my nemesis has reached the pinnacle of Uruk society, making him much more difficult for me to enact my revenge upon. Unfortunately, my attention is needed back in Nurn, so Zunn’s demise will have to wait.
Day 40- Today is the day. I will finally meet my family’s killer, The Black Hand of Sauron. As I near his base, with my legion of dominated Uruks behind me, I notice a familiar presence in the horizon. It is Zunn Meathooks, sporting new, improved meathooks. I lead my army into battle, crossing blades with Zunn at the very beginning. The battle is one of the toughest I’ve ever fought, but at the end, I stand tall as the victor. Before I deal the killing blow, I decide to dominate Zunn and make him my puppet War Chief. I can think of no better fate for the disgraceful coward than unwittingly becoming a cog in the demise of Sauron’s war-machine. Zunn takes me to The Black Hand, and after a lengthy battle, my Uruk minions and I emerge as the victor. I, along with Celebrimbor have avenged my family’s deaths, while also dealing a massive blow to the Dark Lord Sauron. As a final act before my story is finished, I call Zunn over. I force him to kneel before me and then I chop off his head, ending the life my nemesis and finally feeling the peace that has eluded me for so long.
Let’s start by making this clear, this is far from a prediction of what the WWE is actually going to do for 2014’s Survivor Series. Instead, this is a picture of where I would like the company to go based on what happened during the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view and the subsequent Raw. Most of these predictions probably won’t happen, but the fun is in building a card that I think would draw quite a bit of money. Tell me what you think of my card in the comments and leave your own, if you’re so inclined.
Curtain-jerker: Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match: Team WWE vs. Team NXT.
On Team WWE we have Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, Titus O’Neil, Bo Dallas, and Big E. Team NXT is made up of Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Hideo Itami, Finn Balor (Fergal Devitt), and a debuting Kevin Steen. Now, of all the matches on my card, this is the least likely to happen, given that two of the members of NXT have to even debut. I tossed this one back-and-forth for a while, mostly looking for a place to put Cesaro and Bo Dallas. With only one other Survivor Series match on the card, this one actually makes quite a bit of sense. Every single Superstar on Team WWE spent time in NXT and could easily team together if given a chance. In this scenario, Zayn and Neville would get Raw time, while all of Team WWE (except maybe Cesaro) are left off the card. The members of Team WWE go to Triple H and complain about their lack of TV time and Trips tells them that they need to prove they deserve it. He then says that the best way to do that would be to put the NXT guys in their place. Team WWE goes to the NXT Superstars and tells them to get a team together because they’re going to show them that they don’t belong on Raw or Smackdown. Zayn and Neville grab teammates Itami and Balor (assuming this team-up does actually happen) and then tell the WWE Universe that they have a very special fifth team member. Kevin Steen makes his debut on Survivor Series (maybe the biggest reach of this booking) and team NXT makes a huge impact by opening the show with a solid showing. Ultimately, I would have Cesaro go over and pick up the final elimination over Sami Zayn in something of a send-up of their excellent past matches on NXT. Team NXT needs to look good, and they will; however, it’s important that we don’t forget this is a WWE show and those stars will benefit from a win more than the NXT guys would right now. Therefore, Cesaro is the logical winner here.
Winner: Team WWE (Cesaro pins Zayn)
Mark Henry vs. The Big Show
After a match that is sure to be something of a spot-fest, we have an old school battle of two goliaths. Henry and Show aren’t going to tear the roof off the building, but the two veterans can put together a solid match. After this week’s Raw, Henry’s heel run is in full effect and it would be a mistake for him to not pick up a win. Big Show has no real momentum right now, while Henry looks primed to have another quality mid-card heel run. Continuing that momentum with a win over his old tag team partner is the logical and correct decision for this one.
Winner: Mark Henry (clean)
The Dust Brothers vs. The Usos vs. The Mizes for the Tag Team Titles
I contemplated putting the Usos on Team Cena for the Main Event Survivor Series match, but in the end I decided to place them here. I also seriously thought about making this match the moment that The Ascension made their debut, but decided to hold off on that and insert the Mizes instead. Obviously, The Dust Brothers and The Usos have gone up against each other about 10,000 times now, but the Mizes should give this contest a much-needed shot in the arm. I don’t think you can have this one finish clean. Therefore, my finish would be to have Mizdow, Jimmy (not that it matters which one), and Stardust in as the legal men. While they’re trading blows, Miz sneaks up behind the other Uso outside of the ring and throws him off the apron. Jimmy sees this happen and jumps out of the ring, knocking Miz to the floor. Mizdow is SO into his role as a stunt double that he immediately sells Miz’s injury. Stardust capitalizes on this and covers Mizdow. Because the Miz is on the ground, Mizdow can’t move, so the Dust Brothers get the win. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Is it Mizdow? You bet! And that’s all that matters. Mizdow is a wacky act; so let’s take advantage of it. It would also be acceptable for someone to knock out Miz on the outside and pin him. Mizdow then has to be pinned by that guy’s partner because, stunt double.
Winner: Dust Brothers (Stardust pins Mizdow)
AJ Lee vs. Paige
As much as I would love to see Charlotte insert herself into this match and make her debut on WWE programming (are you starting to see a theme?), I think this feud should be able to stand on its own. These two ladies are the best women wrestlers on the roster right now and that means they’ll always have a spot on the card. I question their storyline, but I’m all about their wrestling. If they clean up the story a little bit, this could be a big deal for the WWE. As far as who goes over, I wouldn’t mind seeing AJ get another win. Maybe they can play that up a bit and build a more convincing storyline.
Winner: AJ Lee (clean)
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt Falls Count Anywhere Match
It might be too early to enter special match types into this feud, but I think these two would put together a better match if there were a slight gimmick involved. That’s not to say that either are poor wrestlers; however, they’re both somewhat unconventional. Additionally, you can’t have either guy win clean in this first match. After all, both are young, up-and-comers who could use a few big-time wins on their resumes. Because of that, I think we see Wyatt bring some friends to the contest. In the end, Wyatt gets the pin, but only after Rowan and Harper do some damage to Ambrose. This match has a chance to steal the show. There’s going to be big spots from both guys and the “This is Awesome” chants will flow freely. Both guys will get their big moments and look strong, but again, there’s no way you let this one end cleanly. Both guys are still building their resume and this is feud that should have some legs. Look for this one to continue through at least one more PPV, if not two in somewhat of a “best two-out-of-three” feud.
Winner: Bray Wyatt (with some help from the Wyatt Family)
Rusev vs. Sheamus for the U.S. Championship
This presents a great opportunity for both of these guys going forward. Rusev could use a strap to give himself legitimacy and the U.S. championship would obviously put even more flame on the fire of his pro-Russia shtick. People will boo him unmercifully if they put that title on him and that’s exactly what he needs right now. Sheamus, on the other hand, has become somewhat stale as a babyface. Further, his in-ring style suits a heel persona more than babyface does. A loss here frees him to kind of do whatever he wants, and I think a heel turn will come before TLC. From an in-ring standpoint, this is going to be a juicy contest for Rusev. Sheamus will let him show off his athleticism, while also giving some excellent intensity to this bout. Sheamus will have to tap out to The Accolade for Rusev to go over, but this should be an instance where a loss helps more than a win.
Winner: Rusev (clean)
Main Event: Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match: Team Authority vs. Team Cena
Team Authority is Triple H, Seth Rollins, Kane, Joey Mercury, and Jamie Noble. Team Cena is John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Kofi Kingston, and Randy Orton. Currently, both of these teams are still up in the air. We know that The Authority will likely have Rollins and Kane, and I think they’d be smart to add the three guys I mentioned above (Triple H, in particular). However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add a mid-carder that isn’t really on the radar right now. Team Cena obviously has John Cena (hence the name) and Dolph Ziggler looks all but signed up after this week’s Raw. In Ryback’s return he was booked to be a face, so he makes logical sense as the team’s “enforcer” (not that you need one with Cena). Kofi isn’t really doing anything, but he’s always been quick to help out Cena in the past, so why not now. Randy Orton is of course the most interesting one. Orton did seem to make a face turn on Raw, with an RKO of Seth Rollins. That said, I’d rather he take on a tweener role in the form of a mercenary. And that’s where things get interesting. Orton’s obvious next move is to team with Cena and get his hands on The Authority and that’s just what he does. However, in the next two weeks, Paul Heyman comes on TV to put a “hit” on John Cena courtesy of his client Brock Lesnar. From there, various heels make attacks on Cena each week, but Orton, Ziggler, and the rest of Team Cena protect him each time. This gets Orton on Cena’s best graces and earns him his complete trust. So, going into Survivor Series night, no is expecting any of Team Cena to turn on their leader. The elimination match is going well for Team Cena, as Mercury, Noble, and Kane are quickly out, with only Kingston being eliminated for Team Cena. However, Seth Rollins comes in and starts wrecking house. He first takes out Ryback and then sends Ziggler packing. Cena gets in and Rollins has to tag in Trips. Cena brings in Orton and the Viper gets some revenge on his old leader. Delivering a quick RKO to Triple H and taking him out of the match. Rollins comes in and fights the two Superstars off valiantly; however, the numbers game catches up to him. Orton hits him with an RKO and tags in Cena to get the pin and have their leader win the bout. Cena comes in and gets the three-count. As he stands up to celebrate with Orton, the Viper hits a surprise RKO and the crowd gasps as Paul Heyman’s face comes on the screen thanking Orton for taking care of business. Orton begins a program where he “starts listening to the voices in his head”, making seemingly random attacks on faces and heels alike. He becomes something of a gun for hire, using the most devastating move in wrestling to its full effect. If anything can make Orton interesting again, this is it. Additionally, it moves Cena on to Lesnar, while opening up The Authority to move on to someone new.
Winner: Team Cena (Cena pins Rollins and then gets RKO’d by his teammate)
Alright, there it is. We only have seven matches on the card, which could be a little light, but both Survivor Series matches should be 20 minutes or longer and Rusev-Sheamus should also go for at least 15 minutes. In fact, all of these matches outside of Henry-Big Show could easily go 10 minutes and I think they should. There are a few names left off the card in guys like Jack Swagger and Adam Rose, so there are still people who could be used. However, I’m pretty confident in this card. Let me know what you think in the comments.