Posts in Wrestling
First Black Champ - The Rock Been Rocking

Young Landon is on the way, so we talked all we definitely know about Wrestlemania 35. Wrestlemania bout to be long AF and we could have seen some of this on In Your House, Velocity or Backlash. We also talk about New Day and how they are blurring the lines perfectly on Kofi's road to Wrestlemania on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

Follow JR Bang on Twitter: @jrbang
Follow Cam Quotes on Twitter: @ImCamQuotes

Listen to the new bangers playlist from The Barber's Chair on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal!
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Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ruthless Aggression - Dana Brooke Is The San Diego Padres Of Pro Wrestling

Kofi gets his title opportunity taken away from him (again), the internet cries for Dana Brooke, more updates on the Road to Wrestlemania and the week in 2003, including Vince McMahon stabbing the hell out of Hulk Hogan!

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 512
Smackdown 188

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

Listen to the new bangers playlist from The Barber's Chair on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal!

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Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ruthless Aggression - 3:16

Happy Steve Austin Day! Fastlane thoughts, Kofi running the gauntlet, RKO & AJ delivering an epic segment, Stokely Hathaway and the new NXT signings, plus this week in 2003.

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 511
Smackdown 187

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage is available right now exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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First Black Champ - The Blackest Wrestlemania Ever

The Shane McMahon heel turn on Miz was expected, but the reason is trash! It's also a shame that Alexa Bliss is the host of Wrestlemania 35 at what should be the prime of her wrestling career. Cam's plans to retire #PrayForKurtAngle and we talk who his WM opponent will be and Bang deep dives on why the Kofi "People Like You" Part 2 really pissed him off on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

Listen to the new bangers playlist from The Barber's Chair on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal!
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Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMantees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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This Week in WWE: Off on the road to WrestleMania!

Fastlane is in the books, and now the road to WrestleMania has OFFICIALLY begun! Rob and Chris break down this week’s episodes of Raw and SmackDown Live.

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Chris Novak: With Fastlane come and gone, we’re now officially on the road to WrestleMania. Sounds fun to say, right? Here come The SHIELD!

Robert O’Neill: This is apparently a “farewell address” for the Hounds of Justice. It seems like shenanigans are coming.

Or not. Roman says that Seth has other things to take care of and Dean’s future is up in the air. They do the triple fist bump and Roman and Dean depart and… Paul Heyman comes out. He says Brock is gonna win at Wrestlemania but Seth says Brock struggles with little guys, which is true! That’s good storytelling!

Chris Novak: Very much a fan of this. Heyman goes off on a bit of a tangent, and then turns to a video package. Hey, cool!

Robert O’Neill: The package doesn’t faze Rollins though, who doesn’t back down. Heyman says that Rollins thinks he knows Lesnar, but he doesn’t know Lesnar, and SHELTON BENJAMIN attacks Rollins from behind. Storytelling!

Chris Novak: That is some storytelling that I can REALLY APPRECIATE!

Seth eventually defeated Benjamin after what was a pretty fun match. Really liked that entire opening sequence, to be honest. Rollins won with the Stomp. Really dug this match. Benjamin using the Germans and the F-5 were a nice touch too, as was Paul E.’s commentary. Just a very well-produced segment here. That I’m sure most of WrestleTwitter will be annoyed with.

Finn Bálor is here now. He’s about to defend his IC Championship against Bob Lashley.

Robert O’Neill: That Rollins/Benjamin match was awesome! I hope this can be as good. Balor is obviously very good but I’m not a Lashley guy.

Chris Novak: Lashley wins the Intercontinental Championship for the second time! Lio Rush redeemed himself by distracting Finn, which allowed for Lashley to hit a Spear in mid-air. Like that booking a lot. Obviously, Finn will likely win the championship back, because the story is now that Finn

Robert O’Neill: So we had surprise mid-card title changes on both shows this week! That’s exciting. It makes things seem more important. Also, the mid-air spear was awesome.

Chris Novak: Ronda Rousey is next. Also, we’re apparently learning who the host of WrestleMania is on Moment of Bliss later tonight. I have this weird hunch I know who it’s going to be…

Anyways, Ronda’s here.

Robert O’Neill: She’s tired of all the “carny con artists” and she’s willing to make the Wrestlemania match a handicap match cause she’s so sure she’s going to win. Then Dana Brooke (???) comes out and says she’s tired of Ronda disrespecting the business, and Ronda beats the living hell out of her.

Chris Novak: That was so bad that it was so good, honestly

Aleister Black and, presumably, Ricochet are here now. They’ll be facing Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. I’m going to assume that this match is going to slap.

It turns out that it did. Black won the match for his team with Black Mass. I would guess that probably puts them in line for a future title shot against The Revival. Which, hey, that’s fine with me. Solid stuff overall here. Keeping these guys in the spotlight. They just don’t take losses.

Robert O’Neill: It seems like these are your three teams in the Raw Tag Titles match at Wrestlemania, which is perfectly fine with me.

Alexa Bliss is here for Moment of Bliss to reveal the Wrestlemania guest host.

Aaaaand… it’s HER! Fantastic.

Chris Novak: Ahahahaha, that was very well done. I am fired up about this. Being the host of Mania is a more prominent role for her than to be in that battle royal on the Kickoff Show, especially if they aren’t having her be in any program right now. This should provide some entertainment.

Robert O’Neill: Colin Jost and Michael Che bought Braun Strowman a car to try and make up for last week, but Braun destroyed it and said he was gonna go to SNL this week!

Chris Novak: Elias came out to hate on Pittsburgh and Antonio Brown. Now, here comes No Way Jose. In case you missed it, he changed up his hair, and it looks pretty ridiculous. Elias then went and attacked him on the outside. He’s also beating the crap out of all the conga line members.

They then show a video package for Harlem Heat, who are going into the HOF this year. To which I say, HELL YES! An incredible tag team, and one of my early faves as a youngster. I’m still not going to the ceremony, but this is dope as hell.

Lacey Evans came out to do her cameo bit. Then, Nia Jax came out with Tamina. A brief stare down happened. Nia is facing Natalya. I don’t know who that’s for, but it’s happening regardless.

Okay, the match didn’t last very long at all. Beth came in and intervened and went after Nia and Tamina. That served a purpose to put Beth over, obviously. They then cut to the back and Bayley and Sasha Banks were ambushing Nia and Tamina! A pull apart in Gorilla! Hell yeah.

Robert O’Neill: Time for Batista and Triple H to meet face-to-face!

After back and forth and back and forth, Batista gets Triple H to agree to a match at Wrestlemania. BUT, Triple H adds it will be a no holds barred match! Things are going to get chaotic.

Chris Novak: Here’s Kurt Angle. Angle announces that he’s going to compete in his final match ever at WrestleMania. But tonight, he’s going to compete for the last time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Against… Apollo Crews. I’m not ready for this, man.

Robert O’Neill: Wrestlemania is gonna be EMOTIONAL.

Chris Novak: Kurt won, as expected. Match was totally fine. Angle and Crews had a nice moment at the end of the match, as did Angle after Crews gave him the ring. This was all very well done.

Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin is supposed to be next. However, Drew Mac issues quite the beatdown on Reigns instead. Lord.Seth comes out eventually and helps him to the back along with the officials.

After Dean and Seth lead him to the trainer’s room, Ambrose is irate. He goes up to Triple H and says he wants Drew Mac in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. And it’s going down, so this is our main event.

And good LORD this was a brutal match. Mac turned it all the way up to 11 in this one, just brutalizing Ambrose. He hit a Claymore Kick for the win after jamming Ambrose’s head in a steel railing. Which, naturally, broke off its moorings after he landed that kick. Fun ass brawl to end what was a pretty fun Raw.

Robert O’Neill: I enjoy when Falls Count Anywhere matches actually go around the arena and not just around ringside so this was great. It made McIntyre look like a big deal again too after making him look like kind of a dork for the past few months.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: I’m in a weird spot right now. I liked and was entertained by everything on this Raw and felt everything had a purpose, but it won’t go down as an all-time great show. This is where giving out letter grades really becomes tough every week. A-

Chris Novak: There were quality matches and quality progressions in storylines. When you’re on the RTWM, that’s about all you can ask for. A- for me. Really dug this episode.

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Robert O’Neill: Shane McMahon is opening the show, likely to address why he committed such atrocities against Miz and George Mizanin. He’s also insisting that Greg Hamilton refer to him as “The Best In The World” again.

Chris Novak: That’s REAL HEAT for Shane McMahon! It’s like the year 2000 all over again!

Robert O’Neill: Shane mentions that no one appreciates what he does behind the scenes and he’s the Best in the World because he was born that way, and he’s going to face Miz at Wrestlemania. And it’s not a request, because Shane is Miz’s boss.

Chris Novak: That was an excellent villainous promo from Shane. I didn’t realize how much I missed heel Shane until now. That was tremendous work.

Anyways. Eight-man tag match coming. Aleister Black, Ricochet and The Hardy Boyz are about to face The Bar, Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura. Have a feeling this is going to be very good.

Robert O’Neill: It was a lot of fun, and then The New Day came out and beat up all eight guys! This is brilliant. New Day is mad as hell and not gonna take this anymore. Love it.

Chris Novak: Here comes Randy Orton

Robert O’Neill: Oh man. He compared where he was in 2002 (making his WWE debut) to where AJ Styles was in 2002 (wrestling in a high school gym for $10) and 2004, and 2005, when Orton was facing The Undertaker and Styles was “down in Florida, getting a tan with Dixie Carter.”

This is the most I’ve cared about/enjoyed Randy Orton in years!

Chris Novak: Orton and Styles spent the next few minutes trading barbs with one another. Styles made mention of how many “babysitters” Orton’s had and how Orton’s surrounded by all of his “indie” pals. A couple of other fun mentions were dropped here. Orton told Styles that if he wants to keep renting a room, “rent’s due you son of a bitch,” which led to Styles saying that he needs to come take it, and said so while pointing up to the WM sign.

I am HERE for all of this. What a great segment.

Asuka is next! She’s facing Sonya Deville, which should be a lot of fun.

Robert O’Neill: It WAS fun! Asuka got the win when Many accidentally tripped Sonya, leading to the Asuka Lock, which was awfully similar to what happened at Fastlane…

Chris Novak: Sure is interesting…

The IIconics cut a promo on SASHER AND BAYLEY (writing it out like that, don’t care) and appear to want them to come to SmackDown Live. I mean, so do I! Who among us doesn’t?

Becky Lynch is next!

Robert O’Neill: The Man has come around! The crutches are gone and she’s ready to be in the main event of WrestleMania. But now Charlotte is here, and she’s been working hard while Becky’s been out of commission and she deserves to be there regardless of how she got there.

Chris Novak: Becky wraps things up by talking about how Charlotte’s had the division by the throat for four years, did nothing with it, while Becky in a few short months has them in the main event. The division doesn’t need a queen in her minds, it needs The Man.

Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Rowan were leaving Mr. McMahon’s office. Kayla Braxton got word from Bryan, who said they were talking about Kofi Kingston, and also added that they’ll be in a tag match against Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali later tonight.

Speaking of tag team matches, we’ve got one next. Rey Mysterio teams with R-Truth against Andrade and the United States Champion, Samoa Joe.

Rey gets the pin fall victory here on the US Champion. So, you can probably expect that he’s going to get a shot at the US Championship very soon. Perhaps even next week! We shall see. Joe is not very happy afterwards. He attacked R-Truth AND Andrade afterwards. Solid and effective stuff here.

Robert O’Neill: These guys are all so good. It’s like the 2002 Smackdown midcard.

Chris Novak: On to what SHOULD be the last match of the night. Kevin Owens teams with Mustafa Ali against Daniel Bryan and Rowan.

Robert O’Neill: Bryan busted out a “I HAVE TILL FIVE” on a submission, which was a great throwback. Aside from that, the match was fun. It was short, but that’s fine! Rowan beat Mustafa with the clawslam.

Chris Novak: That was a fun match, albeit a bit abbreviated.

Here comes Vince, who’s granting Kofi a “WrestleMania opportunity.” Whatever it is that’s supposed to mean.

Robert O’Neill: New Day is here and they’re not putting up with this anymore. They go to India, they go everywhere, they never complain, they never said they’re going to leave and they’re STILL treated like garbage, especially Kofi!

But Vince says no one deserves anything, including Vince himself! And if Kofi was main event material, it would have happened a long time ago. And Vince said Daniel Bryan told him that Kofi is a “B-Plus player” because we’ve officially come full circle. Kofi says he has never complained despite missing so much time with his family, because he loves his job. He just needs to know what he has to do to get an opportunity, because the fans believe in him. And now Randy Orton is here! And Kofi just has to beat him. And beat Samoa Joe. And beat The Bar. And beat Rowan. All in a gauntlet match next week.

Chris Novak: Kofi knocked it out of the freaking PARK. Oh my Lord. Next week is teed up to be one for the books, man. What a promo.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Much like Raw, I liked everything on Smackdown. I have no complaints here. But it also doesn’t feel like an all-time great show, so I think Smackdown is also an A-

Chris Novak: A- show for me, as well. Everything hit right with me here. Cannot wait for next week.

WWE Fastlane 2019: Recap, results, analysis, match grades
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The New Day vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura

Chris Novak: This wound up being the only Kickoff Show match. They made Rey vs. Andrade a Fatal 4-Way for the US Title, featuring the same four who were in the match on Tuesday. This tag was a fun way to get the night started, unsurprisingly. Lot of near falls and a pretty solid pace to this one. Some unique double team maneuvers utilized by the newer tag team, as well. New Day won after hitting the Midnight Hour on Rusev. I’m giving this a very high ***¾. It ruled something fierce

Robert O’Neill: I came into this match not knowing about the long-term sustainability of a Rusev/Shinsuke team, but holy hell this was a lot of fun. They looked like a team that had been together for years, and I would like them to team forever. ****

Miz and Shane McMahon vs. The Usos - SmackDown Tag Team Championships

Robert O’Neill: Wow. This was so much better than their match at the Royal Rumble. Miz delivered an all-time great performance. The Usos played a big part as well but Miz pulled out all the stops and there was a part where Shane and one of the Usos collided in mid-air as they both tried to do top rope moves, I’ve never seen anything like it. Usos retaining was the right call, as well. Shane embraced with Miz and Miz’s dad after the match AND THEN HIT MIZ FROM BEHIND AND BEAT HIM UP. WHAT THE HELL MAN? ****

Chris Novak: I need more babyface Miz and I need it now. What an effort. Obviously, The Usos’ greatness has been stated quite enough. And they really did the damn thing here. But my goodness, Miz put in work. Crowd was hot the entire way for Miz as well. The Usos retained after Miz’s attempt at a Frog Splash went awry. Shane cut one of The Usos’ off earlier when he went off the top rope. ****¼ here for me. Just terrific.

Mandy Rose vs. Asuka - Smackdown Women’s Championship

Chris Novak: Asuka won rather decisively after Sonya attempted to get involved. But, unfortunately for Deville, she didn’t get the job done right, and neither did Mandy. So Asuka retains as she heads into WrestleMania. *** for me. Did more than enough to work for me but, obviously, it wasn’t enough for her to win.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, the match was fine. The ending is going to be something to remember because Sonya pulled the ring apron up to get a kendo stick and then Mandy slipped on it and allowed Asuka to get the victory. **½

We head backstage as The New Day have made their way into Vince McMahon’s office to plead their case for Kofi to be in the title match. And Vince relents and lets Kofi in! But The New Day are barred from ringside and the match is right now!

Well. Uh. Greg Hamilton said he was informed that the WWE Championship match was later and instead Kofi will be facing The Bar right now.

Kofi Kingston vs. The Bar

Robert O’Neill: The Bar beat the hell out of Kofi for about five minutes and won. What did you expect? *

Chris Novak: Masterfully done here. Kofi is so obviously doing big things eventually and it’s going to be so good. ** here obviously, as it wasn’t much of a match, but it was at least a solid story to tell.

The Revival vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable -- Raw Tag Team Championships

Chris Novak: This match was a super fun one. As was to be expected. The Revival retained after hitting the Shatter Machine on Chad Gable. That will probably do it for he and Roode in the title picture for now, but it’s pretty obvious that Ricochet and Aleister Black have big things coming their way. They both got in great spots in this one. ***¾ and I am admittedly giving that a very HIGH ***¾ like I did with one of the other tag matches on this show. This was some good shit.

Robert O’Neill: Thank the lord, The Revival retained. I was worried for a little bit! It’s amazing how adding two guys who weren’t even an actual tag team in Ricochet and Black has propped up the tag division so much. Excited to see what comes next. ***½

Samoa Joe vs. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio vs. R-Truth - United States Championship

Chris Novak: They did it again. After a banger on Tuesday, these four delivered ANOTHER banger tonight, and it was arguably even better. Joe retained after choking Rey out with the Coquina Clutch. Naturally, everybody got their shine on, with Andrade looking awesome, of course, as he is to do. SmackDown’s midcard/upper-midcard is just INSANE right now, probably up to 2003 levels right now if we’re being honest. ****¼ for me here. MOTN so far.

Robert O’Neill: I think I liked the one of Tuesday a little more but I’m splitting hairs. That was awesome. Add Mustafa Ali and Luke Harper and made it your Wrestlemania opener in a ladder match. ****¼ here as well.

The Boss and Hug Connection vs. Nia Jax and Tamina - Women’s Tag Team Championships

Chris Novak: Good match, great booking. Boss and Hug retained after Bayley hit Nia with a hurricanrana and turned into a pinning combination. The match had a lot of energy and, once again, Bayley looked like The Ace that I know she is. ***¼ for me. Nia and Tamina beat them both down afterwards. Then we got BETH PHOENIX getting involved, as she stood up for them both and caught a beating for it. NATALYA then came down to save her friend and former DIVAS OF DOOM tag team partner, but she too got beat up. So Nia and Tamina stand tall after all that. That was a real hot angle.

Robert O’Neill: Unfortunately, I had to step out during most of this match so I’m deferring to Chris here. Pretty interested in a potential Divas of Doom reunion, though!

Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali - WWE Championship Match

Chris Novak: There are some matches that take your breath away. This was one of them. Daniel Bryan retained his WWE Championship in a Triple Threat against Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali. Mustafa, of course, was a late add to the match, an add that many thought would go to Kofi Kingston. The crowd wasn’t happy at first, but because Ali is so good, the won them back over anyway. Owens was phenomenal in his first lengthy match back. And Daniel Bryan? Well, Bryan’s the GOAT. So you already know. ****¾, and the MOTY so far in this man’s opinion. Holy shit. I need a cigarette.

Robert O’Neill: That was amazing. All three guys clicked so well, and some of the spots in this match were INSANE, including Bryan hitting the knee on Ali in mid-air to win, which got me to audibly gasp. It’s so nice to have all three of these guys back healthy and putting on matches like this. Instant classic. ****¾ from me as well.

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair

Chris Novak: RONDA ROUSEY intervened and caused the disqualification that allowed Becky Lynch to go on to WrestleMania. That was not a surprising result at all here. I think the match could’ve probably went longer. But, if the idea was to do that, I don’t necessarily mind it at all. Will go *** from what we got. Let’s just go into overdrive now.

Robert O’Neill: That’s very smart storytelling. It wasn’t as good as the match at Evolution but it didn’t need to be, because it told a story like everything else tonight. **

Chris Novak: Randy Orton hit Elias with an RKO #FROMOUTTANOWHERE. Then AJ Styles came out to hit him with a Phenomenal Forearm. STORYTELLING!

The Shield vs. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre

Robert O’Neill: If Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins wanted to “get the band back together” this was a live and in-person greatest hits album from the Hounds of Justice. The fight spilled all over the arena, Rollins did a dive from the balcony in a callback to the match against Evolution at Extreme Rules 2014, Drew Mcintyre got triple powerbombed through a table, and then when the numbers were in their favor, the three took turns hitting finishers on Baron Corbin in the ring before another triple powerbomb for the win. It was the performance we have grown to love from The Shield, and if it’s indeed their last match, it’s a hell of a way to end things. ****

Chris Novak: You nailed everything Rob. They played the hits. It was SO fun too. **** for me as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: I’m on the record as saying this PPV was largely unnecessary because we knew everything that was going to happen and there didn’t need to be two shows between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. I stand by that, but I was also surprised with how they were still able to pull off great storytelling and start the build for Wrestlemania instead of waiting until TV this week. It had a different feel than WWE PPVs of the past few years, thanks largely to creative shakeups of late, and I enjoyed it immensely. A+

Chris Novak: This was, in my opinion, an all-time great ‘B’ PPV. A+ for me, as well. Let’s get on the road to Mania now!

Ruthless Aggression - Fastlane Preview

Pierce Chris and Rob predict Sunday's Fastlane PPV and talk about the week in wrestling. Plus Pierce gives his thoughts on MLW's latest show in Chicago, and in this week's trip back to the Ruthless Aggression Era, First Black Champ's JR Bang and Cam Quotes talk about Triple H's "People Like You" promo on Booker T from RAW 510.

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 510
Smackdown 186

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

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First Black Champ - A Freak In The Fastlane

Fastlane is tonight and since the card became official last Tuesday Night we doing our predictions today! We also start the conversation on how we need to start keeping it real on how tough Ronda Rousey is and how her hands are pretty trash! Then we talk Nostalgia Sex and ask the question "Can a WWE Diva fall off so hard that you never want to have sex with her?" on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

Follow Cam Quotes on Twitter: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang on Twitter: @jrbang


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Nearly Canceled: Entourage is available right now exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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First Black Champ - Check The Archives

Roman Reigns is back! Does that effect the send off for Dean Ambrose? We the 66% Shield reunion and if Dean Ambrose should have Wrestlemania plans. We also dig into Ronda Rousey and why she's just not a great sports entertainer. Bautista beat Ric Flair ass on his birthday, but Cam is not feeling Evolution explodes at Wrestlemania.

Then we revisit Triple H's "People Like You" promo on Booker T. Bang reads the transcript of what happened on 3-3-03 and we tie that and Daniel Bryan's "Yes Movement" and "Occupy RAW" moment in with Kofi Kingston getting his Wrestlemania Title Match on this #FirstBlackChamp podcast episode!

Follow Cam Quotes on Twitter: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang on Twitter: @jrbang

Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage is available right now exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ruthless Aggression - Return Of The Big Dog

FINALLY Ruthless Aggression IS BACK to run our mouths about one of the best weeks of wrestling in ages. So many returns this week, highlighted by the biggest dog of them all: Roman Reigns. Plus, The Rock returns to RAW in 2003, Booker T gets his moment in the sun, and Brock Lesnar looks to decimate Team Angle!

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 509
Smackdown 185

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

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The 2019 WWE Top 25: February

Welcome, one and all, to the second edition of the WWE Top 25!

February is now done and dusted, and we’re continuing on the road to WrestleMania. There was plenty of in-ring action to go around, thanks to the usual spurts of WWE TV, as well as Halftime Heat and the Worlds Collide event. And after a loud shakeup, the new WWE Top 25 has some new faces joining the fray.

Before we begin, in case you’re in need of a refresher, here’s January’s WWE Top 25 post. And in case you’re a REALLY new face to the WWE Top 25, here’s my ‘Preseason’ edition that lays out the grading system.

Now, we’re in February, so we’re going to do things a little bit differently to start things off here. This post will be a little bit lengthier as a result. I’m going to lay out the following inside this post, in order:

  • The Top 10 TV matches for FEBRUARY ONLY

  • The Top 10 matches for FEBRUARY ONLY

  • The Top 10 TV matches for ALL of 2019, to this point

  • The Top 10 matches for ALL of 2019, to this point

  • The WWE Top 25 for FEBRUARY ONLY

  • The CUMULATIVE WWE Top 25, which will take center-stage of this post

So, let’s start this post off, shall we?


TOP 10 TV MATCHES (February)

1. Johnny Gargano vs. The Velveteen Dream (NXT, 2/20) - ****¼
2. Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton (Gauntlet Match, SmackDown Live, 2/12) - ****¼
3. Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle (NXT, 2/6) - ****
4. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable vs. The Revival (Raw, 2/11) - ****
5. Bobby Lashley/Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor/Ricochet (Raw, 2/18) - ***¾
6. Noam Dar vs. Tony Nese (No Disqualifications, 205 Live, 2/12) - ***¾
7. Adam Cole vs. Ricochet (NXT, 2/13) - ***¾
8. Aleister Black vs. Andrade (SmackDown Live, 2/19) - ***½
9. DIY vs. The Revival (Raw, 2/18) - ***½
10. Aleister Black vs. Roderick Strong (NXT, 2/20) - ***½


TOP 10 MATCHES (February)

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton (Elimination Chamber Match, Elimination Chamber, 2/17) - ****¼
2. Johnny Gargano vs. The Velveteen Dream (NXT, 2/20) - ****¼
3. Bryan vs. Kofi vs. Hardy vs. Joe vs. Styles vs. Orton (Gauntlet Match, SmackDown Live, 2/12) - ****¼
4. Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle (NXT, 2/6) - ****
5. Black/Ricochet/Dream vs. DIY/Adam Cole (Halftime Heat, 2/3) - ****
6. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable vs. The Revival (Raw, 2/11) - ****
7. Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa (Elimination Chamber, 2/17) - ****
8. The Boss and Hug Connection vs. Fire and Desire vs. The IIconics vs. The Riott Squad vs. Carmella/Naomi vs. Nia Jax/Tamina (Elimination Chamber Match, Elimination Chamber, 2/17) - ****
9. Tyler Bate vs. The Velveteen Dream (Worlds Collide, 2/2) - ****
10. Bobby Lashley/Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor/Ricochet (Raw, 2/18) - ***¾


TOP 10 TV MATCHES (2019)

1. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio (SmackDown Live, 1/15) — ****¾
2. Johnny Gargano vs. The Velveteen Dream (NXT, 2/20) - ****¼
3. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio (2/3 Falls, SmackDown Live, 1/22) — ****¼
4. Bryan vs. Kofi vs. Hardy vs. Joe vs. Styles vs. Orton (Gauntlet Match, SmackDown Live, 2/12) - ****¼
5. Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle (NXT, 2/6) - ****
6. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable vs. The Revival (Raw, 2/11) - ****
7. Andrade/Samoa Joe vs. Mustafa Ali/Mysterio (SmackDown Live, 1/8) — ****
8. Cedric Alexander vs. Hideo Itami (205 Live, 1/9) — ****
9. Bobby Lashley vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Raw, 1/14) — ****
10. Baron Corbin vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor vs. John Cena (Raw, 1/14) — ****


TOP 10 MATCHES (2019)

1. Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano (TakeOver: Phoenix) — ****¾
2. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio (SmackDown Live, 1/15) — ****¾
3. Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (Royal Rumble, 1/27) — ****½
4. Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor (Royal Rumble, 1/27) — ****½
5. Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks (Royal Rumble, 1/27) — ****½
6. Moustache Mountain vs. James Drake/Zach Gibson (TakeOver: Blackpool) — ****½
7. Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton (Elimination Chamber Match, Elimination Chamber, 2/17) - ****¼
8. Johnny Gargano vs. The Velveteen Dream (NXT, 2/20) - ****¼
9. Undisputed Era vs. War Raiders (TakeOver: Phoenix) — ****¼
10. Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio (2/3 Falls, SmackDown Live, 1/22) — ****


So, now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to showcase the February Top 25. This will be done in a condensed matter, so as to not create too much havoc here. I’ll be doing this monthly, and will have a couple of blurbs below on my thoughts on what happened this month. Anyways, on to it here.

THE WWE TOP 25, FEBRUARY

1. The Velveteen Dream (19.5)
T2. Jeff Hardy, Ricochet (18.5)
4. Aleister Black (18)
5. Adam Cole (17.75)
6. Lio Rush (16.25)
7. Daniel Bryan (15.5)
8. Johnny Gargano (15.25)
9. Randy Orton (15)
10. Tyler Bate (14.75)
T11. Bayley, Finn Balor (14.25)
13. Humberto Carrillo (13.5)
T14. AJ Styles, Drew Gulak, Kofi Kingston, Samoa Joe (12)
T18. Sasha Banks, Tommaso Ciampa, Dash Wilder, Scott Dawson (11)
T22. Nia Jax, Tony Nese (10.5)
24. Cedric Alexander (10.25)
25. Dominik Dijakvoic (8.25)

The Velveteen Dream got his first taste of championship gold to cap off an outstanding performance in the month of February. For Dream’s efforts this month, he became the top performer in the WWE Top 25 this month. Dream worked seven matches, more than anybody this month. He starred in the epic six-man tag on Halftime Heat, and then reached the finals of the Worlds Collide Tournament, a tourney that he won by defeating Tyler Bate in a sensational contest. Then, he capped it off by winning the NXT North American Championship away from Johnny Gargano in the second-best TV match of the month. A well-deserved honor for Dream, to be sure.

Maybe you’re a little surprised to see Jeff Hardy up there. I was a little bit too, but Hardy was part of some pretty great TV matches this month. He partook in the epic Gauntlet Match, was part of a great six-man tag post-Elimination Chamber and was in a fun match with his brother Matt Hardy against The Bar to close the month.

Hardy shares the honor of second place with none other than Ricochet. Remember when we were talking about match volume for him last month? Well, getting serious burn on Raw, SmackDown Live AND NXT will absolutely help The One and Only going forward. The same can be said about Aleister Black, who finished out the month at #4. Adam Cole got the nod at #5 after a heck of a run in Worlds Collide, a great performance in Halftime Heat, and partook in a great match with the aforementioned Ricochet on NXT TV.

Lio Rush was nothing if not consistent this month. Rush worked two really fun matches with Finn Balor, was involved in a tag match with Bobby Lashley against Finn and Ricochet, and was involved in the Handicap Match at Elimination Chamber where Finn won the IC Title.

Daniel Bryan’s ascent up these rankings should be fun to follow, as he was #7 this month. As we mentioned with Black and Ricochet, you shouldn’t be too surprised going forward if Johnny Gargano makes a big run. Randy Orton had essentially the same luxury as Jeff Hardy, but partook in one less match, which is why he found himself 9th. And Tyler Bate certainly had a great month between NXT UK showings and the Worlds Collide Event.

Going down the rest of the rungs here, we don’t find too many other surprises. But there was one shift at the end. Dominik Dijakovic kicked Mandy Rose out of the Top 25 after a tremendous match against Keith Lee on the final episode of NXT TV in February. Talk about coming down to the wire.


JUST MISSED THE CUT

Cesaro - 18 Points
Akira Tozawa - 17.25 Points
Lio Rush - 16.75 Points
AJ Styles, Sarah Logan - 15.75 Points
Liv Morgan, Trent Seven - 15.25 Points
Jordan Devlin, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross - 15 Points

Now, the moment you’ve ALL been waiting for…

Presenting: The WWE Top 25, CUMULATIVE!


25. RANDY ORTON
Last Month:
NR | Points: 19
Notable Showing: Elimination Chamber Match (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)

Randy Orton isn’t working as much as he used to, but Orton made the most of every chance he got last month to get himself in the Top 25.

It started in a very solid singles match against Mustafa Ali at the beginning of the month. Then, Orton… okay, yes, he was in the Gauntlet Match for like, 30 seconds at most. But if you’re in a match, you get the points, so he earned 4.25 points for that effort. Then he was in the Elimination Chamber and had a very solid showing in what was a very good match. Orton rounded things out with a good showing in the six-man tag match on the penultimate SmackDown Live of February.

Orton should be a fascinating case going forward. Like we mentioned, he’s obviously not working as much as he used to. But, he did have a match every single week but one in February. So, will we see that kind of output in March? Perhaps we will, and if we do, we could see The Viper slither up the rungs.

T23. BECKY LYNCH, BOBBY LASHLEY
Last Month:
5th (Becky, -18) // 15th (Lashley, -8) | Points: 19.5
Notable Showing: vs. Finn/Ricochet w/ Lio Rush (Raw, 2/18)

We’ve got ourselves a tie at 23rd.

Becky Lynch has the unfortunate honor of having the biggest drop of anyone in the rankings. Considering she had no matches in the month of February though? It’s not too surprising that she took this pitfall. Given the scope, you should expect a steady rise back up the charts as time goes on for her.

Bobby Lashley, meanwhile, falls down to 23rd after sitting at 15th last month. Lashley’s best effort was in a tag team match with Lio Rush against the team of IC Champion Finn Balor and Ricochet. Other than that though, the cupboard ran pretty dry. His IC Championship Handicap Match was solid enough, but his six-man tag with Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin against Balor, Kurt Angle and Braun Strowman was a lengthy match that missed the mark.

But considering how things have gone for both of these two, I wouldn’t expect to see either of them tied in the same spot after March.

22. DREW MCINTYRE
Last Month:
9th (-13) | Points: 19.75
Notable Showing: vs. Dean Ambrose (No Disqualifications, Raw, 2/25)

2019 has been a mixed bag for Drew McIntyre, but his stock certainly took a downturn. After placing 9th in the January rankings, McIntyre stands 22nd in the rankings after the month of February.

His best performance certainly came in a No DQ match on the final episode of Raw in February. Before that though was a lot of not-so-good. Part of that is perhaps due with how stale the Raw upper-card has gotten over the past few months, but like with many other cases: I can only grade what I see in front of me. And he had four matches that were given two stars or less this month.

Drew Mac has a chance to right the ship and do better in March. By the looks of things, he may very well have that chance. There’s plenty of potential there for better, but he had the second biggest drop of anyone in the rankings, and he did so despite wrestling five matches this month. So “disappointing” is definitely the word for Drew’s February.

21. HUMBERTO CARRILLO
Last Month:
NR | Points: 20.25
Notable Showing: vs. Velveteen Dream (Worlds Collide, 2/2)

Humberto Carrillo is becoming a bit of a cult favorite on 205 Live, and for good reason.

Carrillo has been shining for a bit now. He nearly made it into the Top 25 in January, but fell just a little short. But there was no denying him after his February. He performed very well in the Worlds Collide event, shining especially against the winner, Velveteen Dream. He had a good match against TJP, in what wound up being TJP’s final match with the company, and was in a fun tag on NXT with newcomer Stacey Ervin Jr. against the high-energy tag team known as The Street Profits.

Reading between the lines, a big run in the Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contender’s Tournament could be in the works for Carrillo. He’s starting off against the great Oney Lorcan, which could absolutely help his cause for March. He’s a rising star, and you should probably be paying lots of attention to if you already aren’t.

20. SHEAMUS
Last Month:
14th (-6) | Points: 20.5
Notable Showing: vs. DIY w/ Cesaro (SmackDown Live, 2/19)

While his teammate Cesaro is on the outside looking in this month, Sheamus remains inside the Top 25 after February has come and gone.

Sheamus worked two matches this month, and that’s all he needed to be in the mix. He did slip from 14th to 20th, but a light workload will certainly do that. The Bar definitely performed well in those tag matches, competing against DIY and The Hardy Boyz in some fun TV tags on SmackDown Live.

Everything in the SDL tag scene will become clearer after Fastlane comes and gone, most likely, so we’ll see what happens with Sheamus going forward. But for now, he stays in the mix despite the very light effort in February.

19. RONDA ROUSEY
Last Month:
8th (-11) | Points: 20.75
Notable Showing: vs. Ruby Riott (Raw, 2/18)

It wasn’t the best month for Ronda Rousey.

Despite wrestling five matches in the month of February, two behind the leader in Velveteen Dream, only one of them got a grade of three stars or better from me. She three matches that didn’t go no more than five minutes, dusting up all of Riott Squad in the process. That included a total dud against Ruby Riott at Elimination Chamber, a disappointment in just about every facet.

The two more than made up for it the following night on Raw, but Rousey ended with a whimper in a tag match against Riott Squad with Natalya by her side. The match really just did not hit with me, and as a result, Rousey slid way down to 19th after being 8th last month.

There’s zero telling of what’s to come as far as TV matches go for her this month. It doesn’t appear likely that she’ll be wrestling at Fastlane, so she’s going to have to show out and perform better in March to avoid slipping out entirely. There is plenty of competition behind her, but she’s certainly capable of much better. It wasn’t her fault entirely, but I can only judge what I see. And she had a disappointing month, and found herself just on the inside of the Top 20.

18. ADAM COLE
Last Month:
NR | Points: 21.5
Notable Showing: Halftime Heat Six-Man Tag (Halftime Heat, 2/3)

Much like his other peers from NXT who made their way on this list this month, the only thing stopping Adam Cole from showing up around here was Adam Cole.

Cole had a great month of February that started off in the Worlds Collide event. Cole had some great showings, including a match against Tyler Bate that caught my attention and many others. He also had a very good match against Keith Lee in that tournament that drew attention his way, as well.

Undisputed Era’s leader shined in the Halftime Heat spectacle and had a very good TV match against Ricochet. While he wasn’t pegged for primetime like is other peers, Cole should continue to be a focal point on NXT TV going forward. And hopefully enough to keep him in contention for this spot going forward.

17. ALEISTER BLACK
Last Month:
NR | Points: 21.75
Notable Showing: Halftime Heat Six-Man Tag (Halftime Heat, 2/3)

After a quiet January, Aleister Black has finessed his way into the Top 25.

Black was part of some very good NXT matches this month. He partook in the celebrated Halftime Heat encounter, and also fought Roderick Strong in what was a very good TV match on the penultimate episode of NXT TV in February.

Aleister also jumped into the fold on Raw and SmackDown and had some very good showings there, as well. His match against Andrade, in particular, was a stirring performance, as was his tag match with Ricochet against The Revival on Raw on February 25.

Black certainly has plenty of potential to make moves if this type of production continues. He had a terrific month of February and certainly deserves plenty of recognition for it.

16. SETH ROLLINS
Last Month:
4 (-12) | Points: 22.25
Notable Showing: N/A

Despite not working a single match in February, Seth Rollins still winds up in the rankings.

Rollins now sits 16th after a fabulous month of January that had him all the way up at 4th. But them’s are the breaks when you don’t work at all.

That will likely change come March, as it seems they’re holding him off a bit so that he’s ready to rock for WrestleMania. You should probably expect a better finish for him after March has come and gone as a result.

15. DEAN AMBROSE
Last Month:
7th (-8) | Points: 22.5
Notable Showing: vs. Drew McIntyre (No Disqualifications, Raw, 2/25)

It wasn’t the greatest month for Dean Ambrose, but he still managed to not lose too much ground.

After a Top 10 finish in January, Ambrose finished the month of February at 15th. This with his highest-graded match being 3.25, and it came on the final Monday of the month, no less, in a No DQ match against Drew McIntyre.

Given that it seems in the cards that Ambrose will be working with the same, usual suspects, it is a wonder what will happen to him after March. I’d project a slide here, but honestly, I didn’t expect him to be in the Top 10 and the Top 15 in the first two months of the year. So really, anything is possible as long as he gets the workload and no one behind him catches up to him.

14. KOFI KINGSTON
Last Month:
NR | Points: 22.75
Notable Showing: Gauntlet Match (SmackDown Live, 2/12)

Kofimania is the real deal, baby. Kofi Kingston’s February effort lands him 14th in the WWE Top 25.

Kingston wasn’t supposed to be here, and that means multiple things in this instance. Given how things transpired, it’s probably likely that his spot here would be Mustafa Ali’s. Remember: Ali was tied for 19th last month, having racked up 11.5 points. Given that Kingston picked up 12 points, 23.5 would’ve once again tied Ali with Samoa Joe for a Top 10 appearance.

But that’s purely a what-if. We deal with realities, and the reality was that Kingston had a tremendous showcase this month. Between the Gauntlet Match, the Elimination Chamber and the Six-Man Tag that he was involved in, Kingston showed out in a big way. His performance in the tag team match on the final SmackDown of February sealed up his spot inside the Top 15 and assured him that he’ll continue ticking onward as March approaches.

Given what’s on the horizon, it’s very possible that Kingston could land in the Top 10 very, very soon.

T11. DANIEL BRYAN, JEFF HARDY, THE VELVETEEN DREAM
Last Month:
NR- | Points: 23
Notable Showing:
Bryan - WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)
Hardy - Gauntlet Match (SmackDown Live, 2/12)
Dream - vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT, 2/20)

We have ourselves a three-way tie featuring some big, big stars. And for the second month in a row, we have a tie at the #11 position.

Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy and The Velveteen Dream are all knotted up at 23 points after the month of February. The biggest surprise here may very well be Jeff. It’s well known that Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler on the planet, and February was extremely kind to him in that regard. Bryan worked a lot more than he did in January, and showed out tremendously in each effort he had. Especially so in his segments with Kofi Kingston in the Elimination Chamber and the Gauntlet Match on SmackDown Live. These types of efforts are the norm, and it won’t be surprising if he makes it into the Top 10 after March.

Dream, meanwhile, was merely a victim of lack of opportunity in January. He shined in February, as we already mentioned. He gained serious ground with the seven matches he competed in, notably the one where he became the North American Champion. Velveteen won’t be short on opportunities as TakeOver: New York looms in the distance, so expect him to have a heavy presence here.

Jeff Hardy though? Jeff has been a great TV worker this year and is showing tremendous versatility. He was the second-best worker per #TheMath this past month, tied with Ricochet, as we already profiled. It’s really extraordinary when you put everything into perspective. But Hardy is having a tremendous renaissance in 2019. As long as good fortune continues to bless him, we’ll likely continue to see his name here going forward.

10. SAMOA JOE
Last Month:
19th (+9) | Points: 23.5
Notable Showing: WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)

Samoa Joe obviously isn’t the worker that he once was. But Joe is still doing well enough and participating enough to get himself Top 10 status after February.

Joe partook in three great matches this past month. He first showed out in the Gauntlet Match before Elimination Chamber. He certainly had a great effort in that, helping Kofi Kingston look like a million bucks. And while he was eliminated early on in the Elimination Chamber match that ensuing Sunday, Joe still received 4.25 points for that match, which helped lift him up in a big way.

What sealed up his spot was the six-man tag that took place two nights after Elimination Chamber. Joe and Co. received enough points to gain serious enough ground to sneak into the Top 10.

What comes next for Joe is yet to be seen. He doesn’t seem to have a Mania feud locked in, given that Mustafa Ali’s status is hanging int he balance, and others appear to be gaining traction. But Joe should likely be able to compete in his first-ever WrestleMania, so we should expect to see him get more opportunities in March as the road to ‘Mania marches on. And so far? You should expect him to make the most of them.

9. NIA JAX
Last Month:
11th (+2) | Points: 25
Notable Showing: Women’s Tag Team Championships Elimination Chamber Match (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)

Nia Jax? In The Top 10? She barely made it possible, but Jax snuck in to get in the mix.

Jax competed in three matches this month and her showings were good enough to put her in this spot. She helped lead her and Tamina to victory in a Triple Threat Tag before Elimination Chamber. Then, Jax competed inside the Elimination Chamber that ensuing Sunday. While she and her partner didn’t become the first-ever Women’s Tag Team Champions, Jax still received four points for the match, which very much helped her cause.

Her match against Bayley on the final Raw of February sealed up her fate. She and Bayley had a strong showing in that singles encounter, the usual for the two of them, as they have great chemistry with each other. Jax probably won’t be short on chances going forward, so she’ll likely be in this standing unless others storm ahead. Right now, she’s tied with Bayley for the second-most women’s matches in 2019 so far, so that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

8. SASHA BANKS
Last Month:
10 (+2) | Points: 26.25
Notable Showing: Women’s Tag Team Championships Elimination Chamber Match (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)

Sasha Banks took a two-spot increase after a pretty solid month at the office.

Despite the fact that she didn’t participate much in two of the three matches she worked this month, she still obviously received points for being part of two Raw tag team matches. Then there was, of course, her sparkling showing inside the Elimination Chamber, a match that she and her tag team partner Bayley won to become the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.

Banks may have seen herself go up even further had they handed her a match on Raw this past week. However, that honor went to her tag team partner. But it’s evident so far that she remains one of the best in-ring talents in WWE when she gets the opportunity to show it.

7. TYLER BATE
Last Month:
15th (+7) | Points: 27
Notable Showing: vs. Velveteen Dream (Worlds Collide, 2/2)

Jumping into the Top 10 this month is Tyler Bate.

After a great effort as a tag wrestler in January, Bate got a chance to showcase his singles skills in the Worlds Collide event on the first Saturday of February. Needless to say, Bate impressed and impressed a lot. He was responsible for two of the best matches of the entire tournament.

The final against Velveteen Dream was an enthralling contest, and his match with Adam Cole was also fantastic. Efforts against Cedric Alexander and Dominik Dijakovic sprinkled in helped to lift Bate up to this spot.

He did have a match on the final day of TV against Gentleman Jack Gallagher that, quite frankly, didn’t really hit with me. Had it hit with me though, Bate would’ve ascended into the Top 5, and it certainly would’ve been deserved. Now, going forward, it will be about producing hits rather than misses. And if he can do so, expect Bate to be a familiar face on these rankings, especially within the Top 10.

6. REY MYSTERIO
Last Month:
2nd (-4) | Points: 27.625
Notable Showing: vs. Andrade, R-Truth (SmackDown Live, 2/26)

Despite competing in only one match in February, Rey Mysterio stays in the Top 10.

Mysterio battled in a Triple Threat Match on the final episode of SmackDown Live of February. In that match he, Andrade and R-Truth fought over the United States Championship. The match was strong enough to allow Mysterio to stay within this high range and go down to 6th after being at 2nd in February.

There’s obviously no denying what Rey is capable of doing. Even at 44, he’s still among the best in the entire world at the rate that he’s going right now. He will obviously have to see a workload increase if he wants to avoid falling further down the chute. But even still, you have to take stock in just how impressive he is so far in 2019.

5. BAYLEY
Last Month:
11th (+6) | Points: 28.25
Notable Showing: Women’s Tag Team Championships Elimination Chamber Match (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)

The Ace. Is. Back.

As I wrote last month, the perception around Bayley sunk way to the bottom over the last few years. But 2019 has been absolutely kind to her. She had a great January that was compounded by arguably an even better February, which has now propelled her all the way up to the #5 spot on the rankings. She was at 14.5 points last month and 14.25 this month, so we’re really splitting hairs here. But it’s evident to me that her confidence is back in a big way.

She practically got here all by herself, too. In her two tag matches prior to the Elimination Chamber Match, Bayley basically played it solo while Sasha Banks was taken out. She willed her way to a win over Alicia Fox and Nikki Cross, then fell on the sword in a Triple Threat Tag the following week. She and Sasha helped to make the first-ever Women’s Tag Team Titles Elimination Chamber Match a strong success, as did the fact that they went over in the match.

Bayley capped off her month with a very good showcase in a rare singles match against Nia Jax on the final Raw of February.

Not only is Bayley making her mark as a tag team wrestler, she’s also starting to shine yet again in singles competition. Thus far, the only woman who’s been in more matches than her (8) this year is Ronda Rousey (9). And frankly? Bayley hasn’t missed once yet. She earned a reputation as an ‘ace’ in NXT, and it seems like she’s found her confidence on the main roster. At this rate, she’s going to have a superb year and the first two months are a huge indication of that.

4. RICOCHET
Last Month:
18th (+14) | Points: 30.375
Notable Showing: Halftime Heat Six-Man Tag (Halftime Heat, 2/3)

It will be fascinating to see what happens going forward for Ricochet. His workload will probably have to increase for him to stay into the Top 25, but NXT can only provide him so much. That being said, if he can deliver (and the man has YET to not) in the minimal spots that he has, then he has a very steady chance of maintaining his spot in the Top 25 going forward.”

That passage came to us from last month’s edition of the WWE Top 25. At the time, Ricochet was 18th and got into the mix with only one TV match.

Well, suffice it to say, his workload increased by a bundle. Ricochet is up to 4th after a strong showing in the month of February. He finished as the second-best performer of the entire month and his output got him here at this standing.

He, like others who are now in the mix, was boosted by the Halftime Heat showing. Then, like his fellow contemporaries, he got a chance to work Raw and SmackDown Live. He unsurprisingly dazzled in just about every showing, helping to boost his profile in a big way. He had a pretty terrific match with Adam Cole on NXT TV, as well, to help put a bow on a great February.

Given that he’ll be participating in the Dusty Classic, Ricochet should see himself stay up near the top of these rankings after March. He’s only scratching the surface at this point as well too, and he could be in for an absolutely huge year if all goes well.

3. ANDRADE
Last Month:
2nd (-1) | Points: 31.125
Notable Showing: vs. Aleister Black (SmackDown Live, 2/19)

When you work two matches in the entire month of February, and still stand in the Top 3, it says a lot about what you’ve done.

Andrade sits #3 in the WWE Top 25 despite a very minimal workload. He competed in two matches in the final two weeks of the month, working against Aleister Black and then in a Triple Threat US Championship Match against Rey Mysterio and R-Truth. Those were shiny enough performances not to cause him to lose significant ground like some of his peers did.

Andrade’s monster January certainly helped to keep him in this spot. With the action beginning to churn up around him, and things starting to heat up behind him now, he’ll likely need a really strong March to stay in the Top 3. But that being said, there’s a reason why many consider him one of the greatest in-ring talents in the world today.

2. JOHNNY GARGANO
Last Month:
6th (+4) | Points: 34.125
Notable Showing: vs. The Velveteen Dream (NXT, 2/20)

This probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. As I predicted last month, the more that Johnny Gargano works, the more he’ll be able to rise in these rankings. And after a strong February, Gargano is all the way up to #2.

It began with Halftime Heat and concluded with an unsuccessful defense of his North American Championship. But Gargano’s match with Velveteen Dream was arguably the best TV match of the month and one of the best on NXT TV in recent memory.

Now that Gargano appears to be splitting time between Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT, March could very well be a big month for him. In addition to that, Gargano will be in the Dusty Classic, and could be in line for some very strong performances. While the #1 man on this list has a big lead, it wouldn’t surprise many if Gargano either catches him or usurps him by month’s end. That’s just the kind of talent he is, and that’s just the kind of talent he’ll continue to be.

1. FINN BALOR
Last Month:
1st (—) | Points: 41.75
Notable Showing: vs. Lashley & Lio Rush (Elimination Chamber, 2/17)

The king stays the king.

Although he didn’t have any super-glowing performances like he did in January, Finn Balor did just enough to not only maintain his spot at the top of the WWE Top 25, but to widen his lead. Last month, he was a mere 3.375 points ahead of both Andrade and Rey Mysterio. But this month, Finn stands 7.625 points ahead of the man in second place, Johnny Gargano.

That will happen when you’re once again a workhorse. Finn worked six matches in February, second-most among all WWE superstars this month. He’s worked 12 total, two more than Tyler Bate and Drew McIntyre, who’ve each worked 10 so far this year. And it’ll especially happen when a majority of your matches are graded three stars or higher. I gave four of Finn’s six matches this month three stars or better.

At this rate, it doesn’t look like this train will stop anytime soon. Finn should continue to be one of the big workhorses of the Raw brand up to and through WrestleMania as Intercontinental Champion. Nobody really poses much of a threat at this juncture to him either, so you should firmly expect him to be at or near the top of this list, unless something drastic happens.

This Week in WWE: The Big Dog is BACK!

Chris and Rob discuss the major happenings of the week, including the much-anticipated return of Roman Reigns.

Robert O’Neill: We begin what should be a very memorable Raw with the return of Roman Reigns to a DEAFENING pop.

Chris Novak: My face -- hot. My eyes -- sweaty.

Robert O’Neill: Roman said a lot in this promo and was genuinely touching and all-time great Raw moment, but the biggest news is that his cancer is in remission and THE BIG DOG IS BACK!!!!!

Chris Novak: Just an incredible moment. I’m not sure there’s really any other way to describe it. Thank goodness the best news was given here. Totally love it.

We apparently will be doing a deal between The Revival and the tandem of Aleister Black and Ricochet. That seems fun. It was… fun, albeit short. Black and Rick won after Aleister clocked Scott Dawson with the Black Mass.

Robert O’Neill: Yes, I’m fine with this. This is fine.

Chris Novak: Elias is next… and Lacey Evans comes out to do her cameo and then leaves. Elias is not very enthused about all this. But now as he goes to play, Dean Ambrose comes out! Ambrose says all the positivity has him feeling dangerous, so he challenges Drew McIntyre to a No DQ Match later on tonight. He eventually lays Elias out with Dirty Deeds. That segment was amusing.

Looks like we’re getting Riott Squad vs. Ronda Rousey and Natalya next.

Robert O’Neill: This seems kind of thrown together, but I guess they all… have history? And Ronda needs to be on the show since Charlotte is tied up with the Ric Flair Birthday Bash?

Chris Novak: Another pretty fun match here. Well, it didn’t quite finish out the way many expected it to be because BECKY LYNCH arrived on the scene.

Robert O’Neill: Becky unloaded on Natalya with her crutch, and then went after Ronda but was whisked out of the arena by security, as she was arrested for showing up despite being suspended. After the break, Ronda remained in the ring and screamed for Vince to come out. Instead, she got Stephanie McMahon! Ronda wants Becky to be reinstated, but Stephanie's not having any of it. Ronda called Becky a ginger douche, and then said Stephanie could do a ton for her legacy if she makes the match a triple threat, but Ronda DEMANDS Stephanie reinstates Becky.

Chris Novak: Ronda doesn’t get her wish. She goes on a spiel about what the title means and eventually drops it down on the mat and says that Vince needs to make the “right” decision. This was a pleasing and effective segment to say the very least.

Robert O’Neill: That was genuinely Ronda’s best promo in her time with the company. That was amazing.

We come back from commercial to find Jinder Mahal in the ring with the Singh Brothers. He’s not a fan of all the hype about Ric Flair. He’s issuing an open challenge to anyone invited to Flair’s birthday party.

It ends up being Kurt Angle, who defeats Jinder in a hurry.

Chris Novak: There were like three other options for this that would’ve been better but, aye, I’ll take it. That was quick and effective and satisfying.

Robert O’Neill: Now it’s time for Moment of Bliss!

Chris Novak: And the guest is none other than the new IC Champion, Finn Balor. Alexa put herself over beforehand by saying that if the McMahons want someone who will be honorable with the championship, they know where to find her. Additionally, as she talked to Finn, she pointed out that his title hides his abs. I mean… look… anyways, Lio Rush winds up interrupting the segment. Because this is Moment of Bliss, and Moment of Bliss ALWAYS gets interrupted. Lio is a sad boy because Lashley doesn’t answer his calls or texts, basically, and says he wants to get the IC Title back. Finn asks if he’s challenging him and Lio is about to disagree, but Lex asked him if he wasn’t man enough for it. That obviously turns it on its side, and then the match is ready to proceed.

Sting is here. Main Event Mafia-looking ass Sting. I know he wasn’t gonna wear the facepaint… but c’mon man!

Robert O’Neill: Finn and Lio go about having their match and it’s quite fun, but oddly slow. They should have done some more high-flying stuff, but that’s me nitpicking. Finn hit 1916 for the first time in a while, then got the victory. No shock there.

Chris Novak: Lashley and Lio have an argument backstage. Okay, maybe it wasn’t an argument. Lashley was just laying into Lio. They go out to have a match with Braun Strowman. BUT… the match never happens. Braun knocks them both on their asses and our segment concludes.

Seth is interviewed and says he’s going to ‘burn it down’ with Roman but in a different way. They’re getting drunk. That’s the “joke.”

NAITCH is here.

Robert O’Neill: And now it’s time for Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre in a no DQ match.

Drew gets the win after Elias comes down and attacks Dean from behind and then Corbin and Lashley come down for a four on one attack, but Seth Rollins comes out with a chair! But he’s not alone. ROMAN REIGNS COMES OUT AND HELPS CLEAR THE RING. They leave together without Dean, so it wasn’t a full Shield reunion, yet.

Chris Novak: Time for Bayley-Nia. Nia was rude as hell and trashed Bayley’s tubeman. Up the river she goes, IMO. Bayley threw Nia down with a hip toss early on in the match. My goodness. This was a very well put-together match that culminated with Bayley scoring yet another W after an Elbow Drop on Nia. A strongly booked Bayley is the best Bayley.

Robert O’Neill: The gang’s all here for Ric Flair’s birthday. Triple H! Stephanie! Shawn Michaels! Ricky Steamboat! Sting!

Chris Novak: And now they’re about to introduce Flair! His music hits and… he’s not out here. Surely, it must be that meddling orange-haired ass kicker Becky Lynch who’s responsible for this.

OH MY GOD, IT’S NOT! IT’S NOT BECKY! IT’S BIG DAVE! BATISTA!!! Batista drags a cameraman along to grab (read: DRAG) Ric Flair’s beaten up body out into the concourse. He screams at Hunter from the back, asking if he has his attention now. Oh my WORD… the bait and switch… the bomb drop here… that was absolutely tremendous in just about every way.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Monday night marked the 1344th episode of Monday Night Raw, and it’s safe to say that it was easily one of the best. We knew all along that it would be an iconic and memorable show, but sometimes WWE gets sloppy in its execution. That wasn’t the case here. From Roman Reigns’ tear-jerking and memorable return promo to top the show, to Batista’s shocking return and turn on Ric Flair, this show hit every single note and made me feel every possible emotion. A+

Chris Novak: A+ for me too. Just an all-around, well-produced, high-energy, damn good show. There were two humongous moments and absolutely no real lulls on this show at all, whatsoever. Just a fantastic episode of wrestling television. Love it.

Smackdown.png

Robert O’Neill: Coming off the heels off an all-time great Raw, we’re in for a treat on Smackdown as Johnny Gargano is facing Cesaro, Aleister Black and Ricochet are facing Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura, and Daniel Bryan will have a contract signing with Kofi Kingston. This should be fun!

Chris Novak: Absolutely. Plus they’re in Charlotte, and it will be… quite the scene when Charlotte Flair comes out.

We are beginning with the contract signing for Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship Match. Stephanie and Shane are presiding over. They highlight all the achievements of Kofi’s career and the last two weeks. I actually find it REALLY funny that Stephanie is giving Bryan shit right now even as a babyface.

Kofi is about to sign the contract… however, Vince McMahon has arrived. Eh boy, I wonder what THIS could mean…

OH MY GOD VINCE HAS REPLACED KOFI KINGSTON WITH … KEVIN OWENS!!!

Robert O’Neill: Look, I don’t know how much Bruce Prichard has a hand in things, but he’s been back for two shows and we’ve had two of the biggest surprises in WWE programming in recent memory. That’s amazing.

Owens will tag with Kofi later against Bryan and Rowan.

Speaking of tag teams, it’s time for The Bar against… someone? This is weird. Cesaro was supposed to face Johnny Gargano.

Chris Novak: IT’S THE HARDY BOYZ! I’m guessing there was some kind of rewrite here. Wow. Matt looks like he’s in GREAT shape right now. Crazy things are happening here.

Robert O’Neill: The Hardys won with a Twist of Fate and Swanton Bomb. It’s like old times! This is great.

R-Truth is out here for an open challenge. And Andrade comes out to answer it! But Rey Mysterio comes out as well! And we’re having a triple threat match. Whew boy.

Chris Novak: Unsurprisingly, this match was quite good. Truth won after rolling Rey up after he hit the 619 on Andrade. This result works for everyone. It helps Truth become a credible champ and helps to further the feud between Rey and Andrade. Quality, quality stuff.

Charlotte is next up. She runs down Becky and Ronda for doing what they did on Monday, calling Rousey a quitter and calling Becky a fraud. She says she’s going to Raw on Monday to be crowned the new Women’s Champion. So it’s about to go down in Philly, in other words.

Ricochet and Aleister Black versus Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev is next.

Robert O’Neill: Unsurprisingly, it was a lot of fun! Ricochet and Black got the victory after about 10 minutes. They’re sure making them look like a big deal.

Chris Novak: Read between those lines, baby.

Robert O’Neill: Main event time! Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan and Rowan. Kofi isn’t pleased as he comes out with the New Day, who aren’t up to any of their antics.

Chris Novak: This match was fun, but it felt like it was missing an extra gear that SmackDown main events have had the last few weeks. In the end though, it worked out well for all parties. KO got the pin on Bryan after hitting a STUNNER~, and there was no turn. Which I thought was intriguing. Good ending.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Much like Raw, Smackdown was excellent. The surprise returns of Matt Hardy and Kevin Owens were truly unexpected, and every match was fun, even if we didn’t get the advertised Johnny Gargano vs. Cesaro match. The Road to Wrestlemania is going to be wild. A+

Chris Novak: Do you guys remember when we didn’t want more hours of wrestling TV? And the market was “oversaturated?” I feel like I want another hour of SmackDown. Something. Anything. This roster’s huge and this show was great even without some of the big timers’ presence. AND almost the entire women’s division. Good lord, the WWF is on fire. A+

The absurdity of accusing Roman Reigns of fabricating his illness

When you hear the word “cancer” come out of a loved one’s mouth, it almost freezes you. In a nanosecond, your entire life with that person flashes before your eyes, consumed with the thought that those memories could soon be all you’re left with. I’ll never forget that September 2016 call from my mom. I can remember every single important moment I ever had with my mother playing on loop in my head, from birthday parties and Bulls games, to house fires, hotels and temporary housing. The news flipped my entire world upside down.

I felt something similar last October 22nd when Joe Anoa’i - shoot name: Roman Reigns - opened Monday Night Raw and announced he was in his second battle with leukemia, having conquered the illness eleven years prior. Now, obviously I don’t have a personal relationship with Roman Reigns; he’s a character on a television show I’ve watched long before he was apart of it. However, in playing his role throughout the past six years, Joe Anoa’i has given me plenty of memories - whether I was cheering him in Chicago or telling him he sucks in Brooklyn - and at 33 years old, the thought of missing out on the many more memories to come made me sick.

On Monday night, Joe Anoa’i is expected to walk down the ramp at Raw and deliver the speech Atlanta - and the wrestling world - have been waiting months to hear: that his cancer is in remission, and that Roman Reigns will soon return to WWE competition. Given the response from fans and performers across the community, tonight is sure to be one of the most emotional nights ever in professional wrestling. It wasn’t a year ago when Bryan Danielson announced he came out victorious in his fight to be Daniel Bryan in the ring once again. From an emotional standpoint, tonight’s announcement should top that with ease.

Throughout Roman’s sabbatical from wrestling, he’s taken potshots from several fans, and even more disgustingly, former wrestlers, who believe that his illness has been a work. The latest, apparently, is Calgary [dramatic pause] Alberta Canada’s own Lance Storm. Twitter user VCR Wrestling tuned into Figure Four Daily on Wrestling Observer Radio, which Storm hosts with Bryan Alvarez. The audio is behind a paywall, and frankly I’m not giving the Observer my money because fuck no. VCR was kind enough to tweet some of their conversation between Storm and Alvarez on Reigns’ announcement, and… well… check the tweets.

Photo credit: WWE

Photo credit: WWE

It goes without saying that Lance Storm is the Donkey of the Day if he thinks Roman wasn’t that sick because he could film Hobbes and Shaw with his cousin, The Rock. If your own brother-in-law was stricken by leukemia, the first thing you should be able to understand is NOT EVERYBODY’S ILLNESS IS THE SAME. Roman Reigns not being on his deathbed doesn’t lessen the debilitating nature of his disease, the need for urgency to address his leukemia or the importance of his fight. Any belief otherwise is absurd.

Do I understand some people’s belief that everything in wrestling is a work? Sure. We’re conditioned to believe it by now. But working the public on a deadly illness, especially one that personally afflicts us all in the way cancer does, is as repulsive as it can get in wrestling (and I’ve seen Mae Young’s naked). There is absolutely no good that would come from faking cancer. Roman Reigns would not commit career suicide to get himself “over” with fans. Vince McMahon would not give his top guy a “mysterious cancer diagnosis” to promote the company’s working relationships with Susan G. Komen and Connor’s Cure, two organizations devoted to breast and pediatric cancer research, respectively.

Let’s stop there. Do you know how ridiculous that would look for Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, the founders of Connor’s Cure and the two company faces at the forefront of social progress in WWE, to be anywhere near attached to a storyline where a survivor fakes having cancer again for a few months just to get cheers from funky, obnoxious, misogynistic wrestling fans who chant “Roman Sucks!” and send hate tweets to women who aren’t “real fans” because they like Roman?

Does that make any sense?

It’s shameful we have to be saying this, but here we are. Stupidity never fails to dominate the headlines.

Alas, tonight’s news should hit every wrestling fan in the feels. Whether or not you like Roman Reigns the wrestler, Joe Anoa’i the man is a remarkable human. He’s won championships around the globe and main-evented four straight WrestleMania’s, but his biggest triumph, or at least the one that needs to be celebrated the most, is being a two-time cancer survivor.

First Black Champ - If You Don't Have WWE Network You A Cheap Bitch!

Happy Birthday to the WWE Network! It's been five years since the way we consume wrestling content has change and we are better for it with more money in our pockets! We talk about that and celebrate our new Black Champ, The Velveteen Dream! How bad was the original NXT call ups for us to get the repackaging of NXT as a traveling brand with top tier guys on RAW and Smackdown last week? We unpack that Kofi Kingston and the reason we think Roman Reigns is returning on this week’s #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

Follow Cam Quotes on Twitter: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang on Twitter: @jrbang

Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage is available right now exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ruthless Aggression - Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning came early for WWE! We talk about the recent releases and where they go from here in their careers, plus Monday's impending announcement from The Big Dawg Roman Reigns, last Sunday's Elimination Chamber PPV, the four new NXT call-ups and more!

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 508
Smackdown 184
No Way Out 2003

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops New Years Day 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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This Week in WWE: Generation N... X... T takes the spotlight
Raw.png

Chris Novak: Raw has begun with Triple H out in the ring. H Man is here to talk about how we’re on the road to WrestleMania. He puts over Bayley and Sasha Banks (GOATS) and their EC victory to become the Women’s Tag Team Champions. He puts over Finn Balor and how he became the Intercontinental Champion. ALSO, Trips puts over Kofi Kingston and his efforts in the EC match for the WWE Championship and, hey, some praise for Becky Lynch, too. Also talked about how DX will be inducted into the HOF. And… hereeeeee comes the NXTers!

Robert O’Neill: Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, Ricochet, and Aleister Black are here! How exciting! Apparently they’re all going to be in action tonight. Is this a full-time call up? Who knows! We’ll have to wait and see! In the meantime, we start the night with Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman in a tables match.

Ya know, that was good. I hated their match at Elimination Chamber but this one was fun. They got the stairs involved, the announce table, and everything in between. Strowman got the win when he throw Corbin through the table up against the turnbuckle.

Chris Novak: Will agree here. That was considerably better than last night’s effort, which is very pleasing indeed. Anyways… WE ARE GETTING EVIL DIY VS. THE REVIVAL TONIGHT, OH MY LORD IN HEAVEN. That match is going to bang. Ruby-Ronda in a rematch from last night is scheduled also.

Here’s Paul Heyman, who made his presence felt by nearly getting in a confrontation by Braun (although it was Braun who made it happen). He will apparently be speaking after the break.

So he turned to a video package (that was obviously extremely well done). They bring up how it’s not believable that Seth Rollins will beat him.

BUT HERE COMES FINN BALOR! The new IC Champ! He will either be in action after we get back or be talking. We’ll see.

Robert O’Neill: He starts talking about his Intercontinental Title victory, but Lio Rush comes out to say that it wasn’t fair to Bobby Lashley. Lashley attacks Balor from behind, and the two beat him up before Ricochet comes out for the save! That was exciting.

Chris Novak: That’s one way to utilize Rick O’Shea. Guess we’ll be doing a tag again.

Robert O’Neill: Holy crap, what a match. It started off a little slow, but once it picked up it was a PPV-caliber tag match. It’s nice to see what Lio Rush is capable of, and Ricochet is going to be one of the biggest stars in the company in the next few years. Ricochet pinned Rush for the win.

Chris Novak: Quality showcase for Ricochet to be honest.

Afterwards we got a match between The Lucha House Party and Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. As expected, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado won after Hawkins got pinned. Match was completely fine and inoffensive. Hawkins looked pretty good in spots. I’ll say as much, I can’t wait for when Hawkins wins.

DIY-Revival is N E X T.

Robert O’Neill: I can’t wait. Let’s do this.

BEFORE WE GET THERE THOUGH, Heavy Machinery comes out for an interview with Charly Caruso, then Lacey Evans comes out and does her walk down the ramp, then Tucker and Otis do the same thing, with an added Bushwhackers tribute. Then we go backstage for some banter between Gargano/Ciampa/Roode/Gable/Revival. Now it’s match time.

Chris Novak: Match was a sprint and Evil DIY got the win. Very good showcase for them both as well, to be honest. I’m digging how they’re making the NXT-ers look. Revival lose literally nothing by losing to these two either.

Robert O’Neill: I was mad about it for a moment, but yeah it’s fine. All four guys looked good. It wasn’t as good as their Takeover matches, but that wasn’t a realistic expectation.

Chris Novak: It’s all about showcasing the top talents.

Anyways, BOSS AND HUG TIME! Bayley and Sasha are out here to celebrate being the first-ever WWE Tag Team Champions. And… well, that was a segment, I guess. Bayley and Sasha talked themselves up and then Nia and Tamina came out and talked THEMSELVES up, which led to Bayley and Sasha sending them off on their way.

Robert O’Neill: Hey, D-Generation X is going in the Hall of Fame. How exciting!

Dean Ambrose is here for his match with Drew McIntyre.

Chris Novak: And… now he’s not. The match is over.

Robert O’Neill: That was quick! McIntyre won with a Claymore. No surprise there. Then we get another part of the Brock Lesnar video, followed by Rollins saying it’s all correct but it doesn’t matter because he’s still going to win. Then Ambrose runs into Rollins backstage and asks why Rollins didn’t come help him against McIntyre. Very funny.

Elias is here.

Chris Novak: And so is Aleister Black! Aleister fought Elias and unsurprisingly won via Black Mass. Match was rather emphatic.

Ronda vs. Ruby for the Women’s Championship is next.

Robert O’Neill: Well, Ronda won. But it was a really good match that showed what Ruby could do, which is a far cry from the people that said they completely ruined her forever at Elimination Chamber. This is why we let things play out.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: I really enjoyed this Raw. There was nothing I didn’t like, despite me thinking the Strowman/Corbin match would be bad. It kept me entertained and engaged for three hours and I thought the NXT infusion was a really good jolt to the program. However, something just felt like it was missing and keeping this show from being truly great.  

Chris Novak: Felt like a refreshing show but the crowd certainly didn’t take it that way! I really enjoyed this Raw to be honest. It did feel a little lacking in some regards, but this was definitely a better effort than the last few weeks. B for me too.

Smackdown.png

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live has begun in NOLA with Shane McMahon. As he makes his way to the ring, we recap what happened in the Elimination Chamber in the WWE Championship Match. Mostly, highlighting Kofi Kingston’s absurd performance. A six-man tag is confirmed for tonight, as Kofi will team with Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles against Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton. I already know that six-man tag is going to bang.

Shane announces that the four NXT-ers we saw last night will also be on SmackDown tonight. So, that’s cool with me. Miz then comes out to interrupt. Miz says he used Shane because he wanted his father to be proud of him. I’m glad they’re making Shane’s desire to make Vince feel proud of him canon after all of the Twitter jokes about it. Miz thanks Shane but brings up how they lost. Miz said he let him down, and says he can’t change the past, and knows about the no auto rematch clause, but says Shane can make the match.

Robert O’Neill: Shane is hesitant though, and here come the Usos! They egg Shane on to the point where he schedules the rematch for Fastlane, in Miz’s hometown of Cleveland. Uh-oh…

Chris Novak: Next up… Aleister Black vs. Andrade!~

Robert O’Neill: Well that was a ton of fun. Aleister hit Black Mass for the win to keep the story going that Andrade has never beat him. They’re doing a great job making the NXT guys seem important.

Continuing with that, we go backstage to Kayla Braxton talking to Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa and they’re interrupted by The Bar, and we’re gonna have that match next!

Chris Novak: Aleister-Andrade was a very fun match, as is to be expected when you put those two together in the ring. They did some neat stuff and I think it’s kind of cool that Aleister’s debut in NXT was against Andrade AND his debut on SmackDown was against Andrade. Plus, they fought each other in NOLA in the same building last year at TakeOver when Aleister won the belt.

I don’t doubt that DIY-Bar is gonna be the same way, in the sense that it’ll be a good match. That match is next.

Robert O’Neill: Alright, a lot to unpack here. DIY got the victory in a good match, but the big story was Sheamus landing right on Ciampa’s knee after a top rope sunset flip. The referee threw up the X and it seemed like Ciampa was in quite a bit of distress, but he later returned to break up a pinfall and seemed to be fine, but it was a scary sight. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s an update.

Chris Novak: The update is that Ciampa and Sheamus are fine. Luckily. This match wasn’t as good as last night’s match but it was still a fun tag. It served as a reminder that DIY is an all-time great babyface tag team, as well, because they certainly put forth a great effort here.

Robert O’Neill: Asuka is out for an in-ring interview about how the focus has been on Ronda/Charlotte/Becky lately, and she’s fine with it, but she’s looking for new challengers. Enter Mandy Rose!

Chris Novak: We get a random cameo from Lacey Evans during this. Of course. Mandy and Asuka put on a pretty solid matchup here (no surprise considering it’s Asuka, who’s gonna be fine). Mandy won clean as a sheet, which I’m sure will upset people. But it’s fine. They’ll put her in a title match against her at Fastlane, I’d venture.

Robert O’Neill: Ricochet is facing Eric Young, which seems kind of random, but I’m sure it will be fun!

Chris Novak: This was a fun showcase match for ol’ Rick, who got the win after the 630. He just looks like such a star out there. They’ll fall in love with this dude in no time. Guarantee it. All of the NXT showcases the last two nights have been damn near perfect and it’s a nice little change of pace. I can’t complain that they’re giving these guys some boost. It’s obvious that they’re the big faces of the promotion and they should have some exposure on the main roster. Don’t know if they’ll cycle in anyone else over the next few weeks but I’m not mad about this at all.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event. Before we get going, Bryan says that after the match we’ll know who he’s facing at Fastlane, but it won’t be anyone in this match, because he already beat them all!

Chris Novak: A few stars are conspicuous by their absence tonight, no, Rob?

Robert O’Neill: We haven’t seen Rey Mysterio, Rusev, or Shinsuke Nakamura tonight.

The six man tag commences and naturally there’s a lot going on. Kofi gets the victory by pinning Daniel Bryan as it seems like they might actually pull the trigger on Kofi/Bryan at Wrestlemania after all.

Chris Novak: Very fun six-man to conclude a very solid night of wrestling for the blue brand. Kofi gets the title shot at FASTLANE, not WrestleMania, which is fine and good for me. The first one-on-one WWE Title shot of his career. The Q will be rocking in his favor, no doubt about it. So they didn’t utilize Mysterio, Nak or Rusev, but honestly it’s fine. Their replacements were good choices and this show flowed together very well. Big fan of this episode of SmackDown, per usual.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: It’s kind of amazing how deep the Smackdown roster is considering they had a great show without Rusev, Nakamura, Mysterio, Truth, Naomi, Carmella, Charlotte, or Becky. Obviously the NXT guys coming up helped, but it’s cool to see they utilize the talent on the roster in many different ways. A-

Chris Novak: God, this show is SO good. A- for me too. No matches really missed for me except Ricochet/EY and that was still even more than palatable as a showcase for him. Really just love the blue brand right now and that’s only going to accelerate more as time goes on.

Elimination Chamber 2019 results, recap, analysis
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Heading into Sunday’s Elimination Chamber event in Houston, history was set to be made. The first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions were set to be crowned, and we would continue to inch closer to WrestleMania 35 in April. History would indeed be made, and here is our riveting analysis on what went down in Houston on Sunday night.

Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa -- Cruiserweight Championship Match

Chris Novak: Well, this was yet another Kickoff Show banger for Buddy Murphy and Akiraa Tozawa. These two brought out the goods for this one. A couple of crazy spots were issued out, including one avalanche hurricanrana where Murph was standing atop the top rope. Buddy retained after hitting Tozawa with Murphy’s Law but, make no mistake, Tozawa gave him a run for his money. Giving this one ****.

Robert O’Neill: What is there to say about the cruiserweights at this point? They’re so good. I think Buddy needs to head to the main roster soon, and it’s probably coming after Wrestlemania. Can’t wait for it. I’m gonna go **** on this one too.

Women’s Tag Team Championships Elimination Chamber Match

Chris Novak: Boss and Hug won the Tag Team Titles. Right decision, right moment. FULL FIVE.

Okay, but seriously, that match was VERY good. It hit a few low spots at times but it ABSOLUTELY picked up towards the end. Have to hand it to the IIconics, who REALLY stepped up after a few so-so performances the last few months. Big ups to the Riott Squad as well and Mandy and Sonya, who stepped up big time. Nia and Tamina did themselves well too, and I was SHOCKED that they didn’t last all the way till the bitter end.

But as I said, right decision, right call, right team won, right moment. **** for me. Beautiful post-match moment as well. The proper payoff for everything that’s happened since 2017.

Robert O’Neill: Man, that was fun. It was a little tentative and slow in the beginning, but once they got comfortable and let it rip it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t the best match, but like any Elimination Chamber, it had great spots. Nia going all out running through the pod was awesome, the IIconics were hilarious, and everyone in the match looked good. Also, the right team won. ****

Miz and Shane vs. The Usos - Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Robert O’Neill: Hey a shock title change! That was a fun match. Miz hit a springboard axe handle, Shane hit Coast 2 Coast and jumped from the ring to the announce table (of course) and Jimmy Uso rolled Miz up as a counter to get the surprise win. This is likely going toward Miz and Shane at Wrestlemania, which will be good. I’m not sure what happens with the tag titles, but this is good overall. ***

Chris Novak: I was not expecting this one… but it’s pretty obvious what’s gonna happen next here, to be honest. They’re gonna definitely do a turn here in Cleveland, Miz’s hometown. It’s just a matter of WHOM. I think it’s gonna be Shane, honestly. As for this match, it was exactly what you’d have expected out of these two teams. I’ll go *** on this, too.

Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley/Lio Rush - Intercontinental Championship Handicap Match

Robert O’Neill: Finn Balor won! I think we all kind of thought he might pin Lio Rush when it was made known this was going to be a possible finish. The match wasn’t particularly good, but it’s great that Finn has a title again. Excited to see what he can do with it. **3/4

Chris Novak: Finn is the #2 babyface on Raw, and justifiably so. This was absolutely set up for him to win this match with Lio being added to it. They did a post-match angle with Lashley beating up Lio, having been fed up with him. This match was solid not spectacular. I will give it *** on that accord. May be the low man, may be the high man. I can’t get a read. Oh well! Finn is IC Champ, which is awesome for him.

Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott - Raw Women’s Championship Match

Chris Novak: Well, that… that was a match. Ronda dominated Ruby and put her away with the armbar in under a minute. After the match was over, BECKY LYNCH showed up and beat up BOTH Charlotte Flair AND Ronda Rousey with her crutch. The crowd reacted as you might have expected to all of this. I’m not going to go OTT with my reaction to Ruby being dusted, but the writing was on the wall here, frankly. It is what it is. But that’s the first DUD of the year.

Robert O’Neill: Having it be short made more sense once Becky came out but yeah that was all just kind of wasteful and unnecessary. They could have just had Ronda and Charlotte have an in-ring segment and it could have had the same impact with Becky coming out and not have damaged Ruby. DUD

Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman - No Disqualification Match

Robert O’Neill: This was bad and was the same thing we’ve seen for months where all the heels on Raw beat up Strowman, who looks like a big dork these days. DUD

Chris Novak: That wasn’t good, and I didn’t think it would be good! DUD

WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match

Chris Novak: Absolute HEAT! Kofi Kingston was once again booked about as strongly as you could ask him to be. He eliminated Randy Orton (nice bit of retribution!) and went toe-to-toe with Daniel Bryan yet again. In the end, he went for it at all, jumping off the pod, but Bryan moved out of the way and clocked him with the running knee. A fabulous match and a fabulous ending sequence with Kofi and Bryan. ****¼

Robert O’Neill: Good lord. Can a guy who has had an 11-year career and is already one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the business have a star-making performance? Cause that’s what Kofi did. He went into the lion’s den and VERY NEARLY came out on top. This featured some of the best near-falls in recent memory, and it was a great way to end the show. ****½

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: There were six matches on the main card of this show. The two chamber matches were great, the tag match and Balor winning the IC title were fine, and the other two were actively bad. So, where does that leave the show? Probably right in the middle. I would usually go C+, but the historic moment at the beginning puts it at B-

Chris Novak: I’d call this a good show. You had an historic moment at the beginning. A fire Chamber Match at the ending that may lead to an even greater thing down the road. Two other champions crowned. The filler stuff was filler but it wasn’t all-time bad stuff, either. Giving this a solid B- and certainly, certainly was a night to remember in many ways.

First Black Champ: Get Flewed Out To Wrestlemania

Kofi Kingston could really be the first 100% Black WWE Champion and it's giving us chills! But before we get to that we got to talk about all the relationship highs and lows happening in the world of wrestling. Did Corey Graves destroy Enzo and Cass just to knock down Carmella? We unpack that and so much more!

Then we get get to the Oral History of Mark Henry! This is the blackest episode EVER...of the #FirstBlackChampPodcast.

Follow Cam Quotes on Twitter: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang on Twitter: @jrbang

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