Posts tagged Randy Orton
First Black Champ - Randy Orton Is the F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S of The WWE

It's a special weekday edition of the First Black Champ podcast! We recap Extreme Rules and talk what is possibly the best moment of WWE in 2019. We talk Randy Orton vs Kofi Kingston Implications. We also cover, Bray's return, Kevin Owens being Stone Cold, Vince's possible chess move with Shinsuke and Bayley's potential slow heel turn! All that while watching the Raw reunion live!

It's another cooler than expected #FBCPod! Make sure you hashtag that to let us know you fawking with the movement!

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
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Throw your diamonds up for more than a decade of heat with the new TIDAL-exclusive Roc La Familia playlist from The Barber's Chair! The greatest hits from the most prolific label in hip hop history.
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WrestleMania might be over but you can still rep Becky Two Belts with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop

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

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Re-booking TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2018

Normally I wouldn’t do this for a B-show PPV in the middle of December, but the direction that things have been going in for the last couple of months has been pretty poor. In that case, I might as well have some fun with it. Here’s what this Sunday’s TLC PPV would look like if The Barber’s Chair booked it.

Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin - TLC Match

Source: WWE Network

Source: WWE Network

Assuming this match will still take place, the stipulation is as follows: If Strowman wins, he will receive a shot at Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship next month at the Royal Rumble, and Baron Corbin will be stripped of his GM-elect role. If Corbin wins, he will become Raw GM permanently.

What Should Happen: The Baron Corbin authority angle was fun to me in the beginning, even with Kurt Angle being placed on “vacation”. But it’s run its course (as with all authority angles), and this is where it ends. Braun Strowman wins.

What Will Likely Happen: Braun Strowman returns, makes quick work of GM-elect Baron Corbin, and a new GM will be announced on Monday. Hopefully we get a Brock Lesnar appearance as well.

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose - Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Dean Ambrose hasn’t competed on TV since the emotional night when he turned on his Shield brothers and attacked Seth Rollins two months ago. The heat has kind of cooled off on Ambrose since then, but it’s still fresh enough to pick it back up again.

What Should Happen: If the TLC match from this past Monday is indicative of anything, Seth Rollins should lose here due to one final power play from Baron Corbin. It wouldn’t make sense to have Rollins win two ladder matches in six days, but then again what has made sense on this show since October?

What Will Likely Happen: Seth Rollins may likely be considered the unanimous MVP over the course of 2018, and he doesn’t necessarily need the Intercontinental belt at this point. It would be wise to let Dean Ambrose go over in this one as Rollins (hopefully) transitions into Universal title contention over the next few months.

Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship


Environmentalist Daniel Bryan aka The NEW Daniel Bryan might be the favorite WWE version of the former American Dragon. He also helps solidify my theory that tree-hugging vegans aren’t as nice of people that they think.

Bryan’s heel turn has done wonders to rejuvenate his career, and his WWE title run has been fun sp far. AJ Styles has consistently been one of the best workers in the company, and I can’t really name a bad match that he’s put on since debuting in the Federation three years ago. We all know what these two can bring, and I’d love to see them top the match they had on Smackdown a few weeks ago.

What Should Happen: For someone who was as beloved as Daniel Bryan was for the last five years, if you’re going to make him a villain, you have to go all out with it. To keep AJ Styles strong, have him win by DQ as Daniel Bryan goes crazy with a brutal attack as he further cements himself as the top dog on Tuesday nights.

What Will Likely Happen: I don’t know what’s in store for Daniel Bryan as we merge onto the Road to WrestleMania, but he’ll be WWE Champion for the good portion of that ride.

Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

After legitimately breaking Becky Lynch’s face and taking her out of Survivor Series, WWE’s used the incident to propel Nia Jax towards another battle with Ronda Rousey six months later. This is one of three matches I don’t really care about, but it will have some long term ramifications to it.

What Should Happen: Make no secret that I am Ronda Rousey’s #1 hater, but the honeymoon phase with her has long passed, and I can see myself eventually having some competition if Ronda isn’t booked as someone we should care about. Jax has been positioned similarly to how she was in NXT, albeit this time she’s been given more mic time, which is another factor to me not giving a shit about what goes on in this feud. Six months after their initial battle, Rousey now has a little more experience and should be able to command the battle better this go around. She needs to look good in victory.

What Will Likely Happen: I can honestly see them formulating the matchup the same exact way that it was done at Money in the Bank, this time with Rousey actually getting a chance to close it out. Either way, she’ll be walking into 2019 still the Raw Women’s Champion.

Asuka vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair - Triple Threat TLC Match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

This absolutely NEEDS to main event the show on Sunday night. (The Man) Becky Lynch has been incredible since winning the belt at Hell In A Cell, and her 2019 is already shaping up to be a great one if they book her the right way. Unfortunately, I see her dropping her title this weekend in one of two ways...

What Should Happen: Asuka started off the year strong by winning the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, but a loss to Charlotte at WrestleMania has derailed any momentum she had until just recently. Winning her first main roster championship would help her close out the year strong at a point when it seemed her WWE career was dead in the water.

As for Becky Lynch, this would give her the opportunity to jump ship to Monday nights, as we know that she has some business there waiting for her in the form of Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey. Perhaps a Royal Rumble win is in line?

What Will Likely Happen: Charlotte wins yet again *insert eye roll emoji*. Asuka has still yet to beat Charlotte one-on-one, and it’s likely that a Charlotte victory can build to a rematch in New Jersey this spring.

Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Bálor

This stat may be shocking if you haven’t paid attention, but Finn Bálor is undefeated in PPV singles matches since debuting on the main roster (6-0). Hopefully they play up this fact, as it’s something simple that can help the fans invest into this match even more.

What Should Happen: Can we get a Demon King appearance on this PPV? Drew Mac can surely afford a loss to THAT incarnation of Finn Balor.

What Will Likely Happen: WWE seems to have Bálor be the reliable stepping stone for others at this point in his career (not that that’s a bad thing), and I don’t expect anything different this go around as the Scottish Psychopath continues to run roughshod over the Raw roster. Drew McIntyre has asserted himself as a force on the red brand since his return in April, and now seems primed to reach the heights expected of him in 2009. A win here keeps him strong going into the Royal Rumble, as he can position himself as the favorite to win the annual classic.

The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bar for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

I just want to get one thing off of my chest before proceeding with this match preview: Why the FUCK is this not a TLC match or at least a ladder match?

With that being said, This is a sleeper for match of the night. We already know what The Usos and New Day can bring to the table, and The Bar has slowly crept up to legendary tag team status (I recently realized that they’re in their FIFTH title reign in only two years). Should be a great match that will possibly open the show.

What Should Happen: There hasn’t been a whole lot of heat with this feud, but it isn’t necessary when you have three great teams like this. The Bar have been on a good run here, but I can see WWE wanting The New Day to set a record of title reigns (plus I’m bias), and a win here would bring them that much closer.

What Will Likely Happen: Since The Bar stood tall on the go home show this past week, that usually spells doom come the PPV. The Smackdown Tag Team belts have been playing hot potato a bit this year, so it would be smart to stick with a team and build them into the new year.

Elias vs. Bobby Lashley - Guitar Ladder Match

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Before the main event of every PPV, there’s a moment where I go “Weren’t so and so supposed to wrestle?”, only to find out that match already happened on the pre-show. This is that match and I’ll probably never watch it.

What Should Happen: Bobby Lashley has been EXTREMELY lackluster since coming back to WWE. And while the partnership with Lio Rush had some potential early on, it’s very meh at this point. Have Rush pull a James Ellsworth and help win the match for Lashley, but have him receive his comeuppance post-match.

What Will Likely Happen: A likely pre-show main event, Elias wins to hype the crowd up for the main course.

Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy for the Cruiserweight Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Aside from their boss having an R. Kelly fetish all of a sudden, the 205 Live guys have been getting a lot of shine the past couple months. This past Tuesday, Mustafa Ali had a fantastic match with the WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, and while typically being relegated to the pre-show in the past, the Cruiserweight title has been defended on the main show in two of the last three Network exclusive events. Hopefully that trend continues this Sunday night, and I expect Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander to shut the place down.

What Should Happen: Continuing on with my “Let all the black wrestlers win tonight” narrative, I’m going to choose Cedric Alexander for no other reason.

What Will Likely Happen: It’s awfully soon for Buddy Murphy to drop the title, and I see him continuing his run of dominance over the Cruiserweight division. Time for some new blood to step up and present a new challenge.

Natalya vs. Ruby Riott - Tables Match

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

I don’t typically like when real life deaths are included in a storyline, but I can understand why it’s done, especially when all those involved agree with it. However, I really don’t care about this feud and can’t wait for it to end this weekend.

What Should Happen: I don’t believe crowds are invested enough in these two women enough to have Ruby Riott win. Riott has antagonized Natalya over Jim Neidhart’s death this entire feud, so there’s really only one way to end this and that’s with the Hart family name standing tall.

What Will Likely Happen: Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon aren’t doing anything noteworthy this evening. Let them help Natalya even the odds

Fabulous Truth (R-Truth and Carmella) vs. Mahalicia (Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox) - Mixed Match Challenge Finals

R-Truth and Carmella’s chemistry has been a factor in building momentum for their run through the tournament. And while Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox have slowly but surely gotten on the same page, there are some kinks that still need to be worked out if they want to close strong. It was harder to get invested in this season of the Mixed Match Challenge as injuries and kayfabe write-offs didn’t help at all. At the end of it all, the two healthiest teams from each brand persevered, and now have a shot at coveted #30 position in their respective Royal Rumble matches.

What Should Happen: I always look forward to a surprise #30 entrant each year, but Dolph Ziggler’s overall performance this past year made it a little lackluster. So I guess I can lower my expectations for 2019 since I know neither of the two on the men’s side have a chance of winning. Although, there’s a bit more credibility with Jinder Mahal being a former world champion which you can go off of, rather than R-Truth who has been an amazing comedic act for years.

What Will Happen: We get a Royal Dance Break at #30 as Fabulous Truth comes out of this one victorious. Should be a no-brainer, but I can’t wait to see if Truth tries to enter the Women’s Royal Rumble.

Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton - Chairs Match

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Sidenote: I was in the 8th grade when these two first feuded on Smackdown in 2005-06. Glad to see they can both haven’t lost a step since.

Rey Mysterio has only been back in WWE for about two months, but it’s like he never left. The chemistry that he and Orton have when working together is amazing, and they won’t disappoint on Sunday.

What Should Happen: Randy Orton has been on a tear since his heel turn at Extreme Rules, and it wouldn’t make much sense to have that randomly stop here. The Viper’s run of dominance should continue on.

What Will Likely Happen: It’s a toss up as to who WILL win this match, as they can go either way with it. However, Rey Mysterio will always be in a great position to recover after a loss (see Jeff Hardy at Hell In A Cell) to where it wouldn’t be an issue.

Ranking the best Money in the Bank cash-ins


We are just days away from one of my personal favorite WWE events of the year, and it couldn't come at a better time. WWE has been dragging their feet through the mud creatively since WrestleMania, but things look to pick up at Money in the Bank this Sunday in Chicago.

Introduced back in 2005, winners of the Money in the Bank briefcase have experienced many ups (and a few downs) when it comes time to cashing in their title shot. Here's a ranking of all of the MITB cash-in's so far, from worst to best. I'll also be ranking the significance of each cash-in as well as the quality of the match.

19. Baron Corbin (Smackdown Live, 2017)

Courtesy: WWE Network

Courtesy: WWE Network

Significance of Moment: Meh.
Match Quality: Meh.

Not only was this the worst match, Baron Corbin just might be the worst Mr. Money in the Bank of all time. His one-month run with the briefcase was lackluster, and it's almost like there was no intention of having him win the belt to begin with.

Having interfered in a match John Cena and then-WWE Champion Jinder Mahal on the go-home episode of Smackdown before SummerSlam, Corbin felt that there was no better opportunity to cash in while the champ was still in a daze. However, Cena gained his revenge and interfered shortly after the match began, causing Mahal to roll Corbin up and retain his championship after only 5 seconds.

18. Damien Sandow (Monday Night Raw, 2013)

Significance of Moment: 1/10
Match Quality: 5/10

It never felt as if WWE had a plan with Damien Sandow from the get go, as was evident by his time spent holding the briefcase.

After attacking World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, Sandow announced that he would be cashing in his briefcase. While the match itself was pretty good, Sandow eventually was defeated by Cena and became the first superstar to lose his Money in the Bank cash in match.

17. Jack Swagger (Smackdown, 2010)

Significance of Moment: 3/10
Match Quality: 1/10

Jack Swagger never was able to catch on in WWE despite multiple attempts to get over, and this cash-in was perhaps the peak moment of his career.

After having defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge at WrestleMania with some illegal assistance, Chris Jericho came out to gloat on his victory. Having felt cheated, Edge would come out to attack his former partner once again. Out of nowhere, Jack Swagger laid Edge out and announced that he would be “cathing in my Money in the Bank contract”. One Gutwrench Powerbomb later, Swagger would then become the new World Heavyweight Champ.

16. Alberto Del Rio (SummerSlam 2011)

Significance of Moment: 0/10
Match Quality: 1/10

After not having the chance to cash in on CM Punk at Money in the Bank a month prior, WWE decided to permanently put an end to one of the best angles they’ve had in years by having Alberto Del Rio win the WWE title from Punk following an attack from Kevin Nash. The moment itself seemed flat, and the audience never really accepted him as champion in the months following.

15. Kane (Money in the Bank 2010)

Significance of Moment: 5/10
Match Quality: 1/10

Let's recap the beginning of Kane's summer 2010, shall we?: After defeating Rey Mysterio to qualify for a World title shot, The Undertaker was found in a vegetative state, with his brother Kane hell bent on finding out who was to blame. Two of the top suspects on his list just so happened to be Rey Mysterio and Jack Swagger. 

Fast forward a few weeks later at the inaugural Money in the Bank PPV, Mysterio retained his World Heavyweight Championship in a battle with Swagger. Swagger attacked Mysterio after the match in frustration only to be ran off by Kane, who was still on the lookout for who attacked his brother. Mysterio would continue his celebration for a few more seconds, only to be interrupted again by Kane, who pretty much went backstage for one final (and legitimate) deserved reign as world champion. Kane holds the distinction of being the first superstar to win the Money in the Bank ladder match at a non-WrestleMania event, and is also the first to cash in within an hour of winning the briefcase (and on the first Money in the Bank PPV no less).

14. CM Punk (Monday Night Raw, 2008)

Significance of Moment: 5/10
Match Quality: 0/10

Although Punk was merely a transitional champion called upon to bring the World Heavyweight title back to Raw, this was still a cool moment. Edge retained the World Heavyweight title against Batista the night before at Night of Champions (with some outside assistance), meaning the belt would remain Smackdown property. Edge showed up the next night on Raw to gloat about Raw not having a world champion to call their own, only to be attacked by a vengeful Batista. Having twice cashed in on fallen foes, Edge got a taste of his own medicine as CM Punk cashed in for his first world title in WWE. Punk’s underwhelming title reign would last about three months.

13. Sheamus (Survivor Series 2015)

Significance of Moment: 3/10
Match Quality: 0/10

After chasing the WWE Championship for the majority of a controversial year, Roman Reigns finally reached the top of the mountaintop after winning the vacant title at Survivor Series. Reigns’ celebration was short-lived however, as Sheamus would hit him with a Brogue Kick out of nowhere. He would then put Reigns away for good with another Brogue Kick, as the crowd erupted due to clear disdain for ‘The Big Dog’. The cash-in, and the timing, was perfect, even if Sheamus' reign as champion wasn't.

12. John Cena (Raw 1000, 2012)

Significance of Moment: 4/10
Match Quality: 6/10

After having won the briefcase at Money in the Bank a week prior, John Cena announced that he would be cashing in on CM Punk at the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw. What was a decent back and forth battle was ended prematurely following interference from Big Show, who caused Cena to win by disqualification, and ultimately become the first superstar to unsuccessfully cash in their briefcase.

11. Carmella (Smackdown Live, 2018)



Significance of Moment: 6/10
Match Quality: 0/10

"Are you sure?!" - Mike Chioda.

Although Carmella's reign as Ms. Money in the Bank was considerably lackluster, you'd have to figure that they wouldn't have their first Women's Money in the Bank winner lose her cash-in match (especially after the first Women's Royal Rumble winner lost her mandated championship match).

After celebrating her win over the previously undefeated Asuka two nights earlier at WrestleMania, Charlotte Flair would be attacked by the debuting Iconic Duo. After multiple pumpfakes over the previous nine months, Carmella finally waited for the right time to cash in and become Smackdown Women's Champion.

10. Edge (Smackdown 2007)

Significance of Moment: 5/10
Match Quality: 1/10

In what is probably a testament to how great of a worker Adam Copeland was, he was called upon during one of the most injury-ridden weeks in WWE. Edge attacked Mr. Kennedy (...KENNEDY!) prior to their match on RAW for the briefcase and ended up becoming the first multi-time Mr. Money in the Bank.

Later that week, The Undertaker retained his World Heavyweight Championship after drawing Batista in a steel cage. Beaten, bloodied and battered, Undertaker would be laid out and attacked by a returning Mark Henry. Always one to live up to the Ultimate Opportunist label, Edge showed up on Smackdown, made his way down to the ring and successfully cashed in for a second time.

9. CM Punk (Extreme Rules 2009)

Significance of Moment: 6/10
Match Quality: 1/10

As mentioned earlier, Punk's first go with the World title a year prior is seemingly a footnote in history. This time around, he was more of a central figure in the title scene and less than a transitional champion.

Following a grueling ladder match with Edge to claim his second overall world championship in WWE, Jeff Hardy's celebration was cut short immediately as CM Punk would go to cash in again on another debilitated opponent, leading into a more well-deserved championship reign(s) for Punk.

8. The Miz (Monday Night Raw, 2010)

Significance of Moment: 7/10
Match Quality: 4/10

One of my favorite Money in the Bank moments saw The Miz cash in on Randy Orton.

This might be the best match quality wise to occur when blindsiding a fallen champion. Following a successful defense against Wade Barrett in the main event on Raw, Orton's moment was cut short as The Miz took the opportunity to take advantage of an exhausted RKO and won his first WWE Championship (shout out to #AngryMizGirl).

Courtesy: WWE Network

Courtesy: WWE Network


7. Daniel Bryan (TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs 2011)

Significance of Moment: 6/10
Match Quality: 0/10

After grinding around the industry for 12 long years, Daniel Bryan finally reached the mountain top in WWE.

At TLC in 2011, Big Show retained his World Heavyweight title against Mark Henry in a Chairs match that was by far one of the worst matches of that year. In typical sore loser Mark Henry fashion, he retaliated against Big Show and DDT'd him onto a pile of steel chairs. In what was a slight shocker, Bryan would simply pin his fallen "friend", and walk away with his championship. Daniel Bryan would be the first NXT star to win a World title in WWE.

6. Randy Orton (SummerSlam 2013)

Courtesy: WWE Network

Courtesy: WWE Network

Significance of Moment: 8/10
Match Quality: 0/10

If you're a Daniel Bryan fan like me, the following eight-month period may have been one of the most frustrating time periods. Making his WrestleMania main card debut the previous year, Bryan's first World title reign ended in 18 FUCKING SECONDS in the opening match. Fans clamored for him to receive another go with a top title for over a year, and seemed to finally get one when John Cena handpicked Bryan as his Summerslam opponent (much to the chagrin of Vince McMahon), with Triple H serving as the guest referee. 

Bryan would go on to defeat John Cena and win his first WWE Championship, making up for how the World Heavyweight title reign ended a year earlier...or so we thought. Following the victory, Mr. Money in the Bank, Randy Orton would tease a cash-in, only to turn around and start walking back to the locker room. However, Bryan was hit by a Pedigree from Triple H, who would count Randy Orton for the victory.

5. Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank 2016)



Significance of Moment: 8/10
Match Quality: 0/10

This moment was special in its own right, as it saw all three members of The Shield hold the WWE Championship within 5 minutes of each other. Shortly after defeating former champion Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins was attacked from behind by Ambrose, who cashed in his briefcase and celebrated in front of the Sin City crowd. Another former Mr. Money in the Bank getting hit with some well deserved karma.

4. Dolph Ziggler (Monday Night Raw, 2013)

Significance of Moment: 8/10
Match Quality: 3/10

Shout out to Jersey for a moment, as this night was basically the OG "Night After WrestleMania" episode of Raw. After successfully defending the World Heavyweight Championship the night before at 'Mania, Alberto Del Rio faced off against Jack Swagger and his manager Zeb Colter. Swagger worked on Del Rio's injured knee throughout the match, but failed to achieve victory for the second night in a row. While having his knee tended to by officials and medical staff inside the ring, Dolph Ziggler made his way to the ring and successfully cashed with one of the loudest ovations in the last five years to follow.

3. Rob Van Dam (ECW One Night Stand 2006)

Significance of Moment: 10/10

Match Quality: 9/10

As of 2018, RVD is still the only Money in the Bank briefcase holder to challenge for a championship ahead of time AND walk out with the championship. With the impending ECW brand being launched after One Night Stand, Van Dam challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship and announced his intentions to rechristen the title as the ECW Championship. In what was easily the best cash-in match ever, the decidedly pro-ECW crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom gave RVD the homefield advantage, as he would defeat Cena following some interference from Edge to win his first and only WWE Championship.

2. Edge (New Year’s Resolution 2006)

Significance of Moment: 10/10
Match Quality: 1/10

Edge still is the longest-running Mr. Money in the Bank (Carmella surpassed him overall by a whole week in 2018), and he waited until the best possible moment to make the first cash-in.

After defending the WWE Championship in a brutal war inside the Elimination Chamber, John Cena’s celebration was cut short by the boss man Vince McMahon, who came out to let everybody that Edge would be cashing in his briefcase. After losing an Intercontinental title match to Ric Flair earlier in the night, Edge made sure to live up to his Ultimate Opportunist moniker and head for greener pastures: the WWE Championship.

1. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)



Significance of Moment: 10/10
Match Quality: 7/10*
*Factoring in the match that was already taking place at the time of the cash-in.

I struggled with the top two here, as you could make a case for both being #1. However, there were a few things considered that put this over the top.

First, it was the first (and so far only) cash-in to take place at WrestleMania. Having failed to defeat Randy Orton earlier in the night, Seth Rollins' music crashed Suplex City and became the first Mr. Money in the Bank to cash-in DURING a championship match. After Curb Stomps to first Brock Lesnar and then Roman Reigns, Rollins left Mania as the champion. There are only so many original moments you can create with the briefcase at this point, and this was the first one in nine years.

WWE Backlash recap

Robert O’Neill: For the third time in four weeks, we have a WWE PPV to write about! Welcome to Backlash!

Chris Novak: After 45 minutes of preshow talk, it’s time to get to action. Bayley gets a big pop on her way to the ring. Thank you, New Jersey, for proving to me that you’re still a great state. Ruby Riott comes on out next with the rest of the Riott Squad. So, we’re doing the 3-on-1 deal. Bayley tried to get Sasha to come out with her earlier, extend an olive branch and be the better person. But Banks was having nothing of it. Typical.

So, Bayley and Ruby have what was a… decent match. Bayley looked a little off her game, and I hope she’s alright. She was grabbing her head and neck area a bit and while it could be selling, it definitely looked like it took her out of it. Ruby wins with the Riott Kick. She’s now beaten both Bayley and Sasha Banks in the last six days. Guessing that after Nia takes care of Alexa tonight, she and the Riott Squad will pursue Nia’s title while Bayley and Banks and others pursue MITB.

Robert O’Neill: That was a fine match. Bayley looked out of it. Ruby has wins over Sasha and Bayley this week, so they’re certainly using her correctly.

Chris Novak: And away… we… go!



Robert O’Neill: The Miz and Seth Rollins are opening the show. This should be awesome.

Chris Novak: Both Miz AND Seth get great reactions right out of the gate. This New Jersey crowd is going to be hot tonight. Oh dear Lord, that match was amazing. Seth’s knee selling after hitting a high knee on the ringpost was excellent. His knee gave out, which led to a Skull-Crushing Finale near fall. Then he went for his Superplex→Falcon Arrow combo, but Miz countered THAT and hit a Skull-Crushing Finale AGAIN. But AGAIN, Seth kicked out. Seth went for the Stomp off the second rope, which led to another exchange, but Seth hit the Stomp on Miz after a reversal of a roll-up to retain. What a way to start the show.

Robert O’Neill: Holy crap that was awesome. I’ll keep saying it, Rollins needs to be the guy to beat Brock Lesnar.

Chris Novak: Seth is on a heater right now. He’s the best in the company at the moment and I don’t think there’s any arguing that right now.

Robert O’Neill: Alexa and Nia are next up. This match should be shorter than their Mania match, I would imagine.

Well. It hasn’t been.

Chris Novak: I have no clue what this matchwasis to be honest. I was sour on their WM match being long, but it was better than this. They just don’t seem to blend well this time around. Nia will move on to probably work with Ruby and the Riott Squad while Alexa likely barrels towards MITB. Probably best for both parties here. But this didn’t work for me.

Woof. And then Nia got booed afterwards for cutting what was a corny, PR-type promo. That was a bad sequence for both ladies, which stinks. But it’s not surprising that they booed it either. They’ll always boo that stuff, right or wrong.

Robert O’Neill: I think they need to move Alexa away from the title. Nia/Ruby would be fine.

Chris Novak: Alright, so here we are for the US Title Match. Jeff won with a Swanton Bomb. This was about what you’d expect from these two at this point. Nothing offensive about it, but a match that was good, not great. Curious to see what’s next for thee two. They’ll be prime contenders for the MITB match. I figure since they’ve been involving him, Shelton Benjamin may be next in line for a title shot with Jeff, which would be fun. OR Andrade Almas, which would be even more fun.

Robert O’Neill: Randy Orton is bad, so this match was good to me.

Chris Novak: Here comes Elias, the greatest performer of our lifetime. He says he’s talked to NJ icon Bruce Springsteen, and wants to perform a song for him. He goes to, but then says he wants to leave then. He has a few indecisive moments before going down to play again. “Bruce needs to hear this!”

And here comes… The New Day! They say they want to have a dual-brand concert and walk with Elias. Elias says he’s a solo act, however. New Day starts playing with their instruments (cymbals, Francesca, and a big ol’ drum). Elias says there’s something there and maybe they can open for Elias. Then he goes to perform and… MY GOD, THAT’S THE SOUND OF AIDEN ENGLISH’S HARMONIC VOICE! Rusev says there’s only one person who can celebrate a day in their honor. Not “Bootleg Bob Dylan” or “The Booty Boys.” It’s him! Elias again goes to perform… and HERE COMES NO WAY JOSE!! New Jersey let out a big pop for Jose, and him and his conga line went on down to the ring. Elias wants NO MORE interruptions… and goes to perform again…

And here comes Bobby Roode! Roode hits the Glorious DDT and drops Elias to another big pop. Hilarious and fun segment here.

Robert O’Neill: I’m pretty sure Elias and The New Day are the two most entertaining acts in all of WWE, so when you put them together and add Rusev Day and BOB ROODE, you’re in for some fun. This show has been mostly entertaining so far. I can’t complain.

Chris Novak: Time now for Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass. So, Bryan bumped like crazy for Cass and made him tap out rather emphatically. Surprising way of going about things, but the ends justify the means. Cass gets in a very good beatdown of Bryan after the match and got “YOU TAPPED OUT!” and “ASSHOLE!” chants. When that happens, you can’t really call any of this a failure. So, this worked and was effective.

Robert O’Neill: I don’t like the finish, because Cass needed a win more than Bryan, but I think the post match stuff makes up for it.

Chris Novak: On to Charlotte-Carmella, which I was not high on going into. And as it turns out, unfortunately, my preconceived notions were on the money. Carmella still has a lot to work on, but Charlotte did not help that match at all, either. Charlotte went for a Moonsault at the end of it, and landed on her feet after Carmella moved out of the way. She ‘tweaked’ her knee, Carmella kicked her in the leg and pinned her. That was definitely a wrestling match.



Styles-Nakamura III time. If AJ isn’t wearing a cup, he deserves what he gets. Welp, these two fought for a while. And then they punched each other in the nuts. And then they kicked each other in the nuts. And the match went to a double countout. Welp.

Robert O’Neill: It was a really good match up until then! I guess I get it, but I would have rather seen Nakamura win given the stipulation.

Chris Novak: Alright, it’s on to a tag match that we’ve seen… multiple times these past few weeks.



Robert O’Neill: Owens/Zayn vs. Braun/Lashley was weird because the faces won and they also kind of did the exact finish they did when this match was on Raw two weeks ago, but I guess there’s tension between Owens and Zayn now?

Chris Novak: I don’t know what to make of any of this. Even Braun couldn’t rescue this crowd at this point.

Robert O’Neill: Well, Roman Reigns beat Samoa Joe after eating a ton of Joe’s moves but ultimately got the upper hand with a spear. Sound familiar? Yup. They keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result which is an interesting strategy.

Chris Novak: Yuck, that was bad.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Backlash was always going to be a bit of a throwaway PPV, and that’s pretty much what it was. With the exception of Miz/Rollins, which was a match of the year candidate, and the Elias segment, this felt like an episode of Raw at best. Nothing that happened really matter, and despite the best Styles/Nakamura match we’ve seen so far, the ending soured me. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe was one of the worst matches of the year, all things considered. I’m glad this Mania-Shakeup-GRR-Backlash stretch is over and there isn’t another show for six weeks. It gives them a much-needed chance to hit the reset button. C-

Chris Novak: This wasn’t the worst show ever. That being said, it was still a bad show. Even with the epic Rollins-Miz match in mind. The women’s matches were nothing special at all, with Carmella-Charlotte being positively awful. The WWE Title Match was fine, with an ending that assures this feud will continue… even though we’re nearing ad nauseum with it at this point. And they haven’t had the hit match that everyone expected them to have. The main event sucked, and they’re still doing this Roman thing in the worst possible way. This stretch from Mania to now has been dreadful, and hopefully they dig themselves out of the hole they created for themselves. C- for me as well.

WWE Backlash Predictions

Ruby Riott vs. Bayley

Rob: It’s cool that they’re continuing this feud between the Riott Squad and Bayley and Sasha. I still have fairly high hopes for the Riott Squad, but I really think WWE needs to pull the trigger on a full-blown Bayley/Sasha feud. Prediction: Ruby Riott

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Miz

TC: There’s been a lot of clusterfuck booking over the past month, hopefully this signals the end of it. As much of a fan of Mr. Mizanin that I am, it’s kind of a given that he’ll lose his single’s rematch. Prediction: Seth Rollins

Robert: This is where we run into problems with this show. This match is for the Intercontinental Title, a Raw championship. Miz is on Smackdown. The United States title is the midcard title on Smackdown. The United States title match features two Smackdown wrestlers. Prediction: Seth Rollins

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy(c) vs. Randy Orton

TC: These two had a really good program about 10.5 years ago on Raw. While I don’t expect this one to equal up to that, I’m sure they can get a decent match going to hype the crowd up (I’m sure it will be the opener). Going out on a limb here and I’ll say that Jeff Hardy retains by DQ after an Orton heel turn. Prediction: Jeff Hardy by DQ

Robert: It would be really dumb for Randy Orton to win given the fact that Hardy just won the title a couple weeks ago. Prediction: Jeff Hardy

RAW Women's Championship: Nia Jax (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

TC: Not much I look forward to on Monday nights other than Alexa Bliss segments, she’s been really amazing since losing her championship at WrestleMania. Surprisingly, they had a really good match at WrestleMania, and here’s to another “clinic” this weekend. Prediction: Nia Jax

Robert: It would be really dumb for Alexa to win given how they’ve booked Nia the past couple months. Prediction: Nia Jax

Smackdown Women's Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Charlotte Flair

TC: Charlotte held the Raw Women’s title four separate times in the first 8 months of that championship’s existence, with each gap being less than four weeks long. It’ll be just under four weeks since losing to Carmella after WrestleMania, so they have to do something different here. Since it’s not Sasha Banks, it’s almost a given that Charlotte will lose here, with some assistance from The IIconics. Prediction: Carmella

Robert: It would be really dumb for Charlotte to win given how they’ve booked everything since Carmella’s cash-in. Prediction: Carmella

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

TC: There’s literally no reason to burn a Daniel Bryan vs. Miz matchup this early on, so I don’t understand the bickering fans on the internet (I never do). They’ll be complaining again after Sunday when Big Cass goes over Daniel Bryan, which is necessary for his character to build some momentum going into the summer. Prediction: Big Cass

Robert: See, this is actually kind of intriguing! I think the smart thing to do would be to give Cass the win cause Bryan is a top guy who has been made to look awesome since Wrestlemania, and Cass never really got the full push they were looking for before his injury last year. Prediction: Big Cass

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

TC: Bobby Lashley couldn’t be any less interesting right now upon his return to WWE. A partnership (hopefully turned rivalry) with Braun Strowman is a good way to build him up going forward. Apparently, Lashley was gold as a heel in iMPACT, and they’d be smart to let him do his thing against the most popular guy on the Raw roster at the moment. For the time being though, they’ll get a win here to lead up to that. Prediction: Braun and Lashley

Robert: I’m really trying hard to be optimistic about this PPV but… we literally saw this match two weeks ago on Raw! Why are they running it again?!? I would really like to see miscommunication between Strowman and Lashley lead to a KO/Zayn win and a mini-feud between the big guys. Let’s go with that. Prediction: Owens/Zayn

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe

TC: Joe’s been on one with pulling Roman’s card for the last few weeks (all facts btw). Roman on the other hand has been on a bit of a losing streak since WrestleMania. Roman gets the win here which leads to a frustrated Joe getting himself involved in the main event. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Robert: WWE wants Reigns to be the guy but never wants him to actually win, so I’ll take Samoa Joe. Prediction: Samoa Joe

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

TC: With SmackDown Live GM Paige announcing this past week that this is now a No DQ match, I suspect we’ll get some funky outcome in this match. Look for ol’ Joey Samoey to get involved here and assert himself into the WWE title picture going forward.

Robert: This is the most intriguing match of the night. If logic prevails (which is rare in WWE), Nakamura should win. It’s a no-DQ match and Nak’s big thing has been the low blow, which Styles hasn’t shown any ability to stop. Plus, having Nakamura lose for a third time in a month would kind of ruin this feud. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XXX

The second it was announced that WrestleMania was returning to the Superdome in New Orleans, I knew I would be going.

It wasn't a surefire decision; there were many factors that needed to play itself out in order for me to be in NOLA right now, but at the time, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be down here breaking my WrestleMania virginity.

The Superdome is the site of my favorite WrestleMania: WrestleMania XXX. It's not the greatest - to me X-Seven is the standard for what a Mania should be - but XXX had all of the intangibles: a ferocious crowd, intriguing feuds, an influx of past, present and future, and a captivating babyface the crowd could embrace. Oh, and the unthinkable happened. Top to bottom, XXX is the most entertaining WrestleMania in recent years.

Three Kings

XXX was billed as the true return of Hulk Hogan to the company after years with TNA. He was tabbed to "host" WrestleMania, which is hard to do when you don't even know where you're hosting the show. It's the SUPERDOME, Terry... not the Silverdome.

And then... the glass broke, and the stadium went into a frenzy. Stone Cold Steve Austin standing face to face with Hogan in the center of a WWE ring. It's something we as fans have wanted for decades: the two biggest stars in their respective companies in the late 90s finally meeting.

When you didn't think it could get any better, The Rock's familiar voice hit the loudspeakers and out came the Brahma Bull, who's wrestled both Austin and Hogan in legendary WrestleMania matches. Three of the four stars on WWE's Mount Rushmore together for the very first time gave me goosebumps. It was a WrestleMania moment that will endure for ages.

From B-plus player to World Champion

The story of Daniel Bryan in WWE is so genuine. We all know about Vince McMahon's obsession for big guys and how size may have derailed a few guys from reaching the top of the company. One look at Daniel and you could see an extremely talented worker - perhaps an Intercontinental Champion - but a world champion was out of the question.

The thing about Daniel Bryan is he has what so many other superstars lack - heart.

That beating heart was felt all throughout the Superdome that night as Daniel got through not just Triple H to open the show, but then defeating the other two members of Evolution, Batista and Randy Orton, to win the WWE Championship in the main event. The purity of Daniel Bryan is so easy to get behind. He's the most relatable everyman the WWE has had since Austin, only moreso. Everybody has been told in one way or another that they're not good enough, that they don't measure up to the competition, that they'll never achieve their dreams. They said the same thing about Daniel. He proved everyone wrong.

The end of the streak

There isn't one superstar more synonymous with WrestleMania than the Undertaker. Sure the event was built off the back of Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels is nicknamed "Mr. Wrestlemania", and Stone Cold, John Cena and Roman Reigns have all headlined the show at least three times. But the Deadman has what they don't.

The Streak.

For 21 consecutive appearances, the Undertaker walked down that long aisle to the ring, got the 1-2-3, and walked back victorious. The Streak became a sideplot to the big event; you didn't just watch WrestleMania for the spectacle, you watched to see who will finally put an end to The Streak.

And then, Brock Lesnar became the one in 21-1, dropping Taker with three F5's before earning the shocking pinfall win. Go back and watch the ref's 3 count and listen to the split second of stunned silence in the air while the crowd digested what they just saw. They couldn't believe that this unstoppable force was reduced to a mere mortal, and very dominantly I might add. We knew Taker didn't stand a chance against Brock in a normal match, but this is WrestleMania. The Deadman doesn't get defeated at his show, in his yard.

But all great things must come to an emphatic end. Fans complain about the streak ending, mainly the fact that it ended to a part-timer in Brock instead of a wrestler that could have benefitted from the rub, like CM Punk. But this couldn't have ended any other way. Brock ending The Streak will live on in WWE history.

As far as Taker goes, they call WrestleMania "the showcase of the immortals." There's no greater immortal to grace the WrestleMania stage than the Undertaker.

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XX


To me the best Wrestlemania I've ever seen and was mostheavily invested in was 31, but my favorite Wrestlemania is XX. Wrestlemania XX is where it all began again; returning to Madison Square Garden and creating major excitement within the city of New York. It was the first PPV that I saved my allowance from my parents to help order. It featured my favorite stars such as John Cena, Eddie Guerrero & Chris Benoit. I was more of a fan of Smackdown than Raw, mainly because I didn’t have cable in my room so I watched Smackdown on UPN 9 (NYC). So as I was heavily invested in the Smackdown angles, I kept in touch with RAW from time to time. Once the card started, I didn’t leave my spot watching every match like it was the best thing ever.



Leading up to the event, WM storylines were flourishing. Benoit won the Royal Rumble that year and decided to switch to RAW to wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship, entering the feud between Triple H & Shawn Michaels to make it a Triple Threat match for the title. John Cena was feuding with the U.S. Champion Big Show to capture his first title on WWE. Eddie Guerrero won the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar (With help from Goldberg). Angle challenged Guerrero, complaining that Eddie was a black spot in the WWE for holding that championship. Kane seemingly killed Undertaker’s “American Bad Ass” gimmick at the 2003 Survivor Series, but the Deadman sent an eerie challenge for a match at Wrestlemania. Let’s not forget the matchup between Goldberg & Brock Lesnar (We’ll get to that shortly). Even the Rock n Sock Connection vs. Evolution was a fun match because of the rivalry between Mick Foley & Randy Orton

An underrated factor about this card was that the right person won each match. Christian and Chris Jericho battled each other with Trish Stratus watching ringside. As a teenager, I was so shocked that Trish betrayed Jericho and helped Christian win. Evolution snuck a win from the Rock n Sock Connection.



My favorite match of the night at the time was John Cena vs. Big Show. I was such a huge fan of Cena and his gimmick at the time. I even downloaded his theme song and listened to it on the way school every morning. I always marveled at the fact that he could lift Big Show for the F-U, and once he pinned Show in the middle of the ring, I was the happiest person in the world.

Stone Cold Steve Austin refereed one of the most hated matches of Wrestlemania, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. At the time I did not know the circumstances between both wrestlers as they were leaving the company. I was wondering why the crowd was booing two of the most memorable wrestlers of that era. I didn’t care as I popped when Austin performed the Stone Cold Stunner on both wrestlers.



This Wrestlemania will always be remembered for its main event; the triple threat between Chris Benoit, Triple H & Shawn Michaels for the World Title. Once Benoit made Triple H tap in the middle of the ring, the world rejoiced. I remember watching and thinking that it was so cool to have Eddie Guerrero AND Chris Benoit as champions in the WWE. Just as I thought that, Eddie came down to the ring and hugged Chris as confetti streams down and I almost had a tear in my eye.

This was so cool to see; my favorite wrestlers won the strap in my city. I ran to school the next day talking about how Cena won the U.S. title and how Eddie & Chris was the champions of the WWE. I love Wrestlemania SZN!

First Black Champ Podcast: Get Slapped to Country Music Before Wrestlemania

This week on First Black Champ, @Jrbang & @ImCamQuotes celebrate Randy Orton's birthday by talking bout their favorite moments & matches from his career. They also talk Mickie James new record with Ying Yang Twins plus some early Mania predictions

WWE Fastlane predictions

Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya & Carmella

Lincoln: I cannot wait for the dual brand PPVs so matches like this won’t happen. These women deserve better storylines, not just a throwaway match on a PPV. Enough criticism, I’m picking Becky Lynch & Naomi.

Rob: Ah, yes. The classic “this match is happening because… Twitter? I guess?” match. This will be perfectly fine because Becky and Naomi are good, Carmella is getting better, and Natalya isn’t always outwardly terrible in the ring. As far as picking a winner? I guess I’ll go with the faces. Sure.

Prediction: Becky Lynch/Naomi

Chris: SDL’s women’s division has been pretty dead in the water in the past few months. This tag team match is a decent way of getting them time, but it feels very thrown together after the last week or so. I’m not really sure who’s going to win this one because of that. So, I’ll play it safe and just say the faces win. Becky Lynch & Naomi will defeat Natalya & Carmella.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev

Lincoln: While I wish this match would happen in different circumstances, I think we all know who’s going to win. Nakamura needs a match on Fastlane to increase his momentum since he’s part of the WWE championship match at Wrestlemania 34. Nakamura wins

Rob: I can’t wait for this match. These two have all the skills to put on a great showing, plus Rusev has become the most entertaining person on all of Smackdown (thanks to Aiden English!). Shinsuke will (should, at least) win, but it’s a good win for him to get as a tune-up for his Wrestlemania match.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Chris: I’m looking forward to this match as it’s probably going to be pretty good. Rusev and Nakamura are both extremely over with the crowd (although people thinking Nak is going to be booed in this match are hilarious). This is an easy call, as Shinsuke Nakamura will win to gain momentum towards WrestleMania. But I suspect Rusev will look good in doing so.

Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott, SDL Women’s Championship

Lincoln: Happy for Ruby Riot as she got promoted to the main roster and already has a singles match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Even with all that praise, Charlotte will retain and I feel that there will be a money in the bank fake cash-in after the match.

Rob: For as bad as the SDL women’s division is, they’ve done a fairly good job with this, having Charlotte beat Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan and having Ruby beat Becky Lynch and Naomi. I think Charlotte has to retain here, though.

Prediction: Charlotte

Chris: It’s pretty crazy that Ruby Riott is getting a Women’s Championship match on a PPV. It’s also pretty awesome. People may not realize how good she is yet, but if they give these two enough time to showcase their talents and keep all the frills and BS out of it, this will be an EXCELLENT match. SDL desperately needs a really, REALLY women’s match because… well… the well is really dry in that department. Especially compared to RAW. Charlotte will retain here, and I am honestly clueless as to what they do at Mania. Which is both good and bad.

The Usos vs. The New Day, SDL Tag Team Championships

Lincoln: We are getting another New Day / Usos feud but there is an interesting element in play, The Bludgeon Brothers. I have a feeling that this will be a DQwith The Bludgeon Brothers attacking both sides and this will set up a triple threat at Wrestlemania.

Rob: One of the best tag-team feuds of all-time gets another match added to its history. I’m here for it. These two teams work so well together that it’s almost certainly going to be the match of the night, and the mic work will also be fantastic. I’m going to take the New Day with a rematch coming at Wrestlemania.

Prediction: New Day

Chris: Normally, reigniting a rivalry only four months after this whole thing came to an end would draw heat. But The Usos and The New Day are SO GOOD that it’s easy to look past that. Maybe that’s hypocritical, maybe not. Anyways, this is going to be an absolute hoot. These two teams have never not created magic, and I doubt that stops anytime soon. I’m undecided on this… but if they want to keep things interesting… I’m going to predict that The New Day get the win. The Bludgeon Brothers are looming ahead, but I’m predicting we get one title change here.

Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton, United States Championship

Lincoln: I tried to care about this feud, but it’s not moving me at all. Bobby retains with some unwarranted help from Jinder Mahal, setting up a triple threat at Wrestlemania.

Rob: Oh, man. This match is gonna be… not for me. Both guys are fine, but their slow deliberate styles lead to matches that take forever to get going and I really can’t handle it. If you like it, good for you! But it’s not for me. I guess I’ll pick Roode to retain.

Prediction: BOB ROODE

Chris: I’m tentatively excited about this match. I say tentatively because it could also be slow and plodding like… well, most Randy Orton matches and most Bobby Roode matches, as well. They usually get an uptick late, so that’s why I still have my reservations about it. I don’t think this ends cleanly at ALL. Especially with Jinder Mahal calling himself the uncrowned United States Champ on Twitter and Insta. I think Mahal interferes and causes a no contest, setting up a Triple Threat at Mania.

WWE Championship Six-Pack Challenge

Lincoln: AJ Styles retains, WWE have done dumb things in the past but I have faith that they will keep the dream match alive for WM34.

Rob: Well, this is a mess. At least they went away from yet another match of just Styles/Owens/Zayn? That’s good, that’s been overdone. But the solution was… this. Which, there’s a lot going on. My biggest problem with PPVs between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania is it’s hard to predict anything big happening, because it would mess with the Wrestlemania card.

Prediction: AJ Styles

Chris: Okay, I don’t need to do too much here. AJ Styles will retain the title. I think he pins John Cena. I don’t think Dolph Ziggler or Baron Corbin will factor too much into this, although Corbin is excellent in multi-man matches. And Sami Zayn will continue to bleed towards turning his back on Kevin Owens.