Posts tagged The Rock
Ruthless Aggression - Super Shut Down

Super Showdown sucks, and even the company knows it. Pierce Rob and Chris talk about why it's time for Taker and Goldberg to shut it down. Plus, the greatness that was NXT Takeover XXV. Then, the week in 2003 gives way to a great segment with The Rock and Booker T, and Matt Hardy defending the Cruiserweight Championship against Rey Mysterio in Smackdown's main event.

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 523
Smackdown 198

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2HdG2yN
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2HbTcME
Tidal: http://bit.ly/bieberveli

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.
Listen here: https://tidal.com/playlist/dfcd8a98-7eb0-473e-8666-170acc564443

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

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
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

Ruthless Aggression - Backlash '03

Pierce is out, so Chris and Rob go back to Backlash ‘03 and review the WWE debut of Goldberg vs. The Rock! Plus the Shake-up continues, KO does the inevitable, and so much more.

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 517
Smackdown 193
Backlash 2003

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobertONeill31

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

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
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

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!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

First Black Champ - The Rock Is COINTELPRO

The main idea to remember about this show is, A lot of niggas don't watch wrestling like that! So we take the most thorough approach to Kofimania, the history of the WWE Championship, what Kofi's Wrestlemania win meant and who it was truly for. We talk about the injury bug hitting Big E and Nia Jax and try to find out what's real and what's kayfabe with everything Surrounding Sasha Banks!

Our GuaranDAMNTee segment is all about the Superstar Shakeup and we agreed more than we thought on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast! Respect to The Big Cat Ernie Ladd

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

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
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

First Black Champ - the Oral History of The Rock
Ruthless Aggression EP 28 - It was you, Hunter

Rob Pierce and Chris review RAW 480 and Smackdown! 155, highlighted by Triple H looking for the culprit who beat up Shawn Michaels last week, and Brock Lesnar defending his #1 contenders match for Summerslam against Hollywood Hulk Hogan! Plus Ronda Rousey shines in her Monday Night RAW debut, Lincoln Ricketts joins Pierce to preview the final three nights of the G1 Climax, and we preview what we have in store for Summerslam week! (note: it has nothing to do with Summerslam).

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

Ruthless Aggression EP 25 - Hogan Still Sucks

Ruthless Aggression is back as the team double up to talk about RAW 476 & 477, Smackdown 151 & 152, and Vengeance 2002! And hear what they have to say on Hulk Hogan's reinstatement into the totally not-physical WWE Hall of Fame.

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Rob: @RobertOneill31
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania X8
WWE

WWE

While WrestleMania X8 had the difficult task of following up what is widely regarded as the greatest ‘Mania event in history, in many ways the 18th installment doesn’t fall too short. The big storyline heading into this event was Hollywood Hulk Hogan - in his first WrestleMania match in nine years - facing The Rock in a bout dubbed ‘Icon vs. Icon’.

I don’t necessarily think that the 2002 edition of the Showcase of the Immortals is the greatest, but it is definitely my favorite. 9-year old me had just become a full time viewer of the product at the end of the Invasion angle (specifically the episode of Smackdown where Booker T got his ass kicked inside of a supermarket), and I was as hyped up for the Road to WrestleMania as anyone could get. So you can imagine the first WrestleMania I ever watched having a close spot in my heart.

Even with every championship on the line aside from the Cruiserweight title, the event was somewhat of a dud. However, there were some fun moments throughout.

The first three matches were kind of filler, with the opener seeing Rob Van Dam make his WrestleMania debut against William Regal in a match for Regal’s Intercontinental Championship. Although short, the match was good for what it was. RVD won the title following a Five-Star Frog Splash in what could’ve been a really great match if given a few more minutes.

Next up, Diamond Dallas Page successfully defended his European Championship against Christian in another short bout that could’ve possibly been done on Sunday Night Heat prior to the PPV going live.

Following this up was another title defense, this time the Hardcore Championship. This championship was what it was at the time (a joke), but it had some fun moments on this show. In what was the first of five different title changes, champion Maven faced off against Goldust in a short match, that ended with Spike Dudley bringing in a personal referee to defeat the champion. The title would bounce from Dudley to The Hurricane, Mighty Molly, Christian and back to Maven before the night ends.

About an hour into the event, we finally get a match that lasted for over ten minutes (10:45 to be exact). At the time, Kurt Angle was arguably the best in the world but was in a lost spot following his feud with Royal Rumble winner Triple H. In addition, Kane has been a loyal company man for the entirety of his career. These two things considered, it made sense to partner them up here at WrestleMania, as there clearly wasn’t anything else for them to do. The match itself was decent, with a lot of back and forth action. Angle gets the win at the end after pinning Kane, using the ring ropes as leverage.

Ric Flair vs. Undertaker in a No DQ match was up next. Undertaker challenged Flair to a match at WrestleMania after he cost him his match against The Rock at No Way Out. Using his position as WWF co-owner, Flair repeatedly turned down the challenge week after week. Following bloody beatings of Flair’s best friend Arn Anderson and his oldest son David, Flair finally accepted Undertaker’s challenge, with his position as co-owner being temporarily removed by the board of directors. This was a fun brawl, one that was made personal over the last several weeks. A lot of offense from Taker early on, with Flair getting busted open after only about 3 minutes. Flair was able to turn some defense into offense later on, even bloodying Taker in the process. Undertaker eventually hits Flair with a Tombstone to move his WrestleMania record to 10-0.

In what was yet another filler match, Booker T made his WrestleMania debut against Edge. The story leading up to this match was Booker T being jealous over Edge getting a spot in a Japanese shampoo commercial over him. Not much going on here in this match which only lasted about 6 minutes. Edge comes away victorious here with an Edgecution, and a nice WrestleMania moment in his hometown.

For the first of the “triple main event”, we get Stone Cold vs. Scott Hall. The nWo ended up costing Austin his shot at the Undisputed Championship a month earlier, and as you could understand, Austin wasn’t a happy camper about it. The match itself was decent, and got a lot better towards the end as Kevin Nash got involved and the crowd gets into the match. Austin gets the final WrestleMania victory of his career here.

WWE

WWE

Next up, Billy and Chuck successfully defended the Tag Team titles in a four corners elimination match that also included the APA, Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz. Although not terrible, this match was way too long, and was obviously placed as filler to give the crowd a rest before the match everyone wanted to see.

In what was thought to be a once in a lifetime matchup (they would meet again in 11 months at No Way Out), The Rock went one on one with Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Prior to the match, Hogan advises his fellow nWo members that he’s good on his own. Spoiler alert...they don’t listen. Hogan comes out to the loudest ovation of the night, while the crowd booed and showered Dwayne with “Rocky Sucks!” chants throughout the match. Although not the most technically sound match, the energy these two brought more than made up for it as Rocky comes away with the W. The crowd was effective in forcing Hogan to turn face, and to this day I wonder if they called an audible with Nash and Hall turning on Hogan post-match rather than the next night.

The women’s division in 2002 was definitely not comparable to how it is currently, but the three best women in the Fed at this time were given the task to follow up Rock vs. Hogan. Women’s champion Jazz put her title on the line in a triple threat against Lita and Trish Stratus. A common theme with this PPV, what we get here is another subpar filler match. Kudos to the three ladies for making the most of it. Would have loved for Trish get her WrestleMania moment in Toronto, but Jazz retaining wasn’t a bad decision.

WWE

WWE

Realistically the show kinda falls off after Rock/Hogan, and I’m sure they regretted not placing that match last. The finale saw Royal Rumble winner Triple H cashing in on his guaranteed Undisputed title shot against Chris Jericho (who was accompanied by H’s ex-wife Stephanie McMahon). Jericho works on Hunter’s surgically repaired quad early on, but the crowd doesn’t seem to come alive until Trips finally gets his revenge and hits Stephanie with a Pedigree, something that was teased several times leading up to the match.

While not the worst WrestleMania event ever, it’s nowhere close to being the best. However, the childhood nostalgia it provides me gives it the unique distinction of being my favorite ever.

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 XIX
WWE

WWE

If you’re posed with answering the question, “What is the greatest WrestleMania of all time?” chances are you have an instant reflex. The choice that many people pick is WrestleMania X-Seven. For good reason, too. X-Seven was the culmination of the greatest boom period that the wrestling business ever saw. While watching the event, whether it was live or even now, you get the sense that you are legitimately watching the end of an era. It was a special night in Houston, to say the very least.

WrestleMania X-8 had the unenviable task of following up this incredible show. Apart from one match (Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock) the consensus thought is that it was a whiff. The same, however, cannot be said about the one that followed X-8.

In my opinion, WrestleMania XIX is every bit as good as WrestleMania X-Seven. I can take a step further and say that it’s a better show from top-to-bottom, too (with one very large exception, of course).

The show starts off with the WrestleMania debut of Rey Mysterio. Mysterio, a staple of the Cruiserweight division in WCW and the previously ECW, too, made his first arrival in WWE in the summer of 2002. He quickly ascended up the ranks and proved why he was so regarded as one of the best high-flyers in the game. He faced Matt Hardy, the Cruiserweight Champion (you read that right, if you’re unfamiliar) in a pretty scintillating opener. Hardy won dirty, and while they could’ve given Mysterio his due here to start the show, he would eventually go on to win the Cruiserweight Championship in Anaheim later that year from Hardy to culminate this feud.

Next was a match that, well… okay, this was probably the worst Undertaker match in a few years. He faced The Big Show and A-Train in a handicap match, partly because they’d taken out his partner, Nathan Jones. Yes, you may remember Nathan Jones, “The Colossus of Boggo Road,” who was too green to be in this match that they had him taken out. To be fair to him though, they booked this well, had him show up and land a few kicks in before Taker hit A-Train with a Tombstone.

Third up was a Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match. Trish Stratus became the Women’s Champion after defeating Jazz and Victoria, the reigning champion going into the event. For the time they were given (7:17) the three women made the best of it. Trish got her WrestleMania moment (A YEAR AFTER SHE SHOULD HAVE IN TORONTO) and would set the tone for the remainder of the year (Writer’s Note: You should check out the No DQ Match that Trish had with Victoria back at Survivor Series. This whole feud was actually pretty good for this era).

After setting the world on fire in the fall of 2002, the SmackDown! Tag Team Division got the spotlight on the main card. Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) faced Los Guerreros and the ragtag team of Chris Benoit and Rhyno. Benoit and Rhyno came together shortly after Edge suffered a debilitating neck injury the month before, and quickly were able to make an impact. It would, however, be the new kids on the block who got the victory, as Benjamin and Haas walked in and walked out as WWE Tag Team Champions.

WWE

WWE

Things really kicked up a notch next. Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho fought in one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time. It was arguably the match of the night on this evening in Seattle, Washington. A year after being on the losing side of the Undisputed Championship Match, and a year after being a complete afterthought in his feud with Triple H, Jericho brought his A+ game and delivered in the biggest spot yet in his career. Michaels won via a rollup, and Jericho delivered a kick below the belt to leave Michaels laying. It’s classic Y2J and classic HBK. This is one of my favorite Mania matches ever, and part of what spurred this event to be an all-timer.

Now… the next match was tough to swallow. Triple H and Booker T fought over the World Heavyweight Championship. Going into the night, Hunter berated Booker, telling him that “People like him don’t get to be World Champion.” There’s a lot of code and racial undertones here, and it makes the decision to have Hunter go over Booker even worse. Even WORSE was the fact that it took one Pedigree to do it, AND the fact that it took Triple H nearly 20 seconds to finally get a pin on Booker. And there wasn’t even any other near fall. It’s the worst part of this match and the worst booking decision in WrestleMania history. Luckily, the rest of this show helps ascend it up high.

WWE

WWE

Mr. McMahon and Hulk Hogan fought in a Street Fight that was “20 Years in the Making” next. This was a beautiful disaster, and booked exactly how it should go. You got blood, you got weapons, and you even got “ROWDY” RODDY FREAKIN’ PIPER showing up for the first time in a WWE ring in nearly TEN years! Hogan got the better of Vince in a very memorable Street Fight that got this event’s momentum back.

Then came Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock for the third time in Mania history. The match’s video package is extremely memorable, spliced with the theme song for Mania -- Crack Addict by Limp Bizkit -- and the story was simple. Rock had felt he’d done it all… except beat Stone Cold at WrestleMania. And so, in his third try, after three Rock Bottoms, Rock got the three count on his contemporary and biggest rival to leave XIX as a winner. This would prove to be Stone Cold’s final match of his career, and he went out as best he could.

WWE

WWE

The finale of this event pit two of the best to ever do it against each other. Brock Lesnar, the 2003 Royal Rumble winner, capped off an incredible first year in WWE against another man known for his impeccable rookie year: Kurt Angle. The reigning WWE Champion squared off with “The Next Big Thing” in a match that had two of the best amateur wrestlers the company had against one another. The match is a thrilling watch, even now. Lesnar’s failed Shooting Star Press is one of the more unfortunate moments in WrestleMania history that luckily didn’t turn into a total disaster for him. He was still able to finish the match, and it took three F5’s to finally put Kurt down for the count.

WrestleMania XIX is in a 1a/1b situation with X-Seven for me. These are the two greatest Manias ever in my book. The card has a big blemish on it from Booker/HHH, but the rest of it more than makes up for it. Austin-Rock III and HBK-Y2J are two all-time great matches, and Lesnar-Angle is a great main event that crowns what is, at worst, the second-best rookie year in the company’s history. WrestleMania XIX is, without a doubt, my favorite WrestleMania ever.

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XX
WWE

WWE

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.

WWE

WWE

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.

WWE

WWE

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.

WWE

WWE

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!

My favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania X-Seven
WWE

WWE

As Wrestlemania 34 draws near, a lot of people have been talking about how good the card looks, top to bottom. It’s hard to argue. From Ronda Rousey’s WWE debut, to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, to Charlotte and Asuka, this card has something for everyone. All 12-14 matches should be very good and entertaining and tell a great story.

Personally, the build-up has reminded me a lot of what is widely regarded as one of the best Wrestlemania's of all time, and my personal favorite: Wrestlemania X-Seven.

Wrestlemania X-Seven was a huge deal for several reasons. First, it was technically the first Wrestlemania ever in which WWF didn’t have a rival promotion to worry about, as WCW had shut down just a few weeks earlier. It also marked the first Wrestlemania in Texas, and the first Wrestlemania to take place in a football stadium since Wrestlemania VIII was in Indianapolis’ Hoosier Dome nine years earlier. So, right off the bat, X-Seven had a huge feel to it.

Did it deliver? Yeah. It did. People still talk about to this day. While I could go in-depth with every match on the card (because they’re all awesome), I’m gonna just focus on my three favorites.

Kurt Angle d. Chris Benoit

A rivalry that would stretch from Wrestlemania 2000 to Benoit’s eventual Royal Rumble win and transfer to Raw, Angle and Benoit had no shortage of classic matches in that four year stretch. This one stands out as one of the three or four best.

There wasn’t really much of a story behind this match (or their feud in general) except for they were the two best submission artists in the WWF and constantly wanted to make each other tap out. Coming off years of overbooked NWO angles and Attitude Era shenanigans, it was nice to get a match where two guys try to make each other tap for 15 minutes. It was also incredibly smart booking, as Angle tapped while the ref was knocked out and eventually made Benoit tap while the ref was looking. It made it so they could continue the feud. Benoit would get hurt shortly later, but they would pick it right back up when he returned in 2002.

TLC II: Edge and Christian d. Dudley Boyz and Hardy Boyz

It’s 2018 and TLC matches are pretty much not a special thing anymore, due to the advances in concussion research and the toning down of WWE in general. Plus, they have a pay-per-view dedicated to the match every year.

Back in 2001 though, this was still incredibly fresh and new. And while these were the only good tag teams in the company at the moment, they sure knew how to put on a show.

This TLC match has no shortage of memorable moments. From Edge spearing Jeff Hardy out of mid-air, to the super tall ladder, to everyone going through at least one table, it’s pretty amazing that all six of these guys still had careers after this match and are still in relatively good shape today.

Stone Cold d. The Rock

Look, the ending was really really stupid and unnecessary and one of the dumbest things WWF/E have ever done. I’ll be the first to agree. But damn, this match is one of Austin’s three best of all time.

I think it’s right up there with his match against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13. It checked every single box for me. Obviously, Austin had to main event the first Wrestlemania to ever be held in Texas, and the crowd loved him. Austin using the Million Dollar Dream was an amazing callback. Rock hitting a Stunner and Austin hitting a Rock Bottom was awesome.

It would have been a perfect ending to a great night if only he hadn’t sided with Vince McMahon. But, the match itself is still absolutely excellent.


Does Wrestlemania X-Seven still hold up today? Yes. Absolutely. The impact was felt throughout much of the 2000s, as it made Angle and Benoit into stars, was the start of a change from the Attitude Era to the Ruthless Aggression Era (which technically started here despite not getting named as such until 2002), and gave us another classic in the Austin/Rock rivalry. I didn’t even get into things like Undertaker vs. Triple H, or one of the most entertaining hardcore title matches in WWF history between Big Show/Kane/Raven. Simply put, this show is just as entertaining today as it was 17 years ago, and I hope Wrestlemania 34 holds up just as well.

Ruthless Aggression Ep.9: Wrestlemania X8
IMG_8254.JPG

This week on Ruthless Aggression, Pierce (@HennyOmega) Rob (@RobertONeill31) and Chris (@ChrisMNovak) look back at WrestleMania X8 from the Toronto Skydome, headlined by The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan & Triple H vs. Y2J for the Undisputed belt. Plus Brock Lesnar's debut, and our thoughts on Ultimate Deletion & the return of Daniel Bryan.

Ruthless Aggression Ep. 2 - Lethal Dose of Poison

This week on the Ruthless Aggression pod, the gang talk RAW 452 and Smackdown 127. A day after his Royal Rumble win, Triple H confronts a disgruntled Chris Jericho, fresh off retaining the Undisputed Championship against The Rock. Rocky delivers an all-time promo by making The Coach dance the Charleston, and Mr. McMahon prepares to inject the Federation with a lethal dose of poison. Also, a review of Royal Rumble 2018 and NXT Takeover Philadelphia, the women's (and men's) Rumbles, Ronda Rousey joining the WWE, and the greatest NXT match of all time.

Join us every week as we dive into the year 2002 on the WWE Network!

Royal Rumble non-Rumble countdown

WrestleMania is the preeminent event for WWE, but the Royal Rumble isn’t too far off. The event is perhaps even more fun for the casual fan because of the possible surprise appearances from the past, and the overall chaos of the Royal Rumble Match.

But even though the Royal Rumble Match takes precedence, that doesn’t mean everything else is chopped liver. The undercard has had its moments in the sun too. In fact, there’ve been times where individual matches have stolen the show. So while your focus might be on who’s going to WrestleMania, there have been plenty of great matches throughout the years that have gotten us through the night, too.

And so, here is a countdown of the best non-Royal Rumble matches in history to take place at the annual event. All matches were viewed by yours truly, and weighed through my own mind. No, I’m not #DaMeltz/#BIGDAVE, so there won’t be any SIX STARS/SEVEN STARS given out here. This is just the way that I see it and how I was captivated by the psychology, storytelling, and overall entertainment of the match.

Before we get to the Top 10 though, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

The Rock vs. Mankind | I Quit Match, 1999 | Rating: ***¾

This couldn’t quite crack the Top 10, but the sheer brutality of it is just so stomach-churning. It’s a hard watch, knowing the state of things now with what we know about head trauma, and what we probably know about Mick Foley’s condition. Still, this is a match, for the right and wrong reasons, that was too memorable to be left off the HM’s.

Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan | 2014 | Rating: ***¾

Ah… the 2014 Rumble. Aka, perhaps, the most bungled Rumble ever (until 2015). At least we had this match between Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan, who of course would go on to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania anyway. It was a very solid opener with a hot crowd that was defiantly behind Bryan. I will say, it loses its luster a little on the second watch. That’s why it find itself here.

Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty | Intercontinental Championship, 1993 | Rating: ***¾

HBK and Marty Jannetty had two memorable Intercontinental Championship matches. One took place on Monday Night RAW, and the other went down at the 1993 Rumble. This one was built around Sensational Sherri, who made her return after being off TV for quite some time. There were questions as to whose side she was on, and in this match, it appeared she was on the side of Jannetty. However, her misstep in striking Marty with her heel allowed for HBK to hit him with Sweet Chin Music and retain his IC Title. Fun match with some good storytelling.

The Rockers vs. The Orient Express | 1991 | Rating: ****

The best tag team match in Royal Rumble history took place all the way back in 1991. The Rockers faced off with The Orient Express in Miami, and the two teams put on an absolute clinic to start the night. 27 years later, this match still holds up EXCELLENTLY. There’s drama, great tag spots, and a very fun finish too.

Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens | Universal Championship, 2017 | Rating: ****¼

Last year’s Universal Championship match just misses the cut for the Top 10. But don’t thumb your nose at that. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens’ collision is certainly one of the best World Title matches to ever take place at a Royal Rumble. Reigns and Owens had a physical encounter that’s best remembered for Braun Strowman’s run-in, which ultimately led to KO retaining the title. And also ultimately led to the great Braun-Roman feud. Oh, and Jericho was in a shark cage above the ring. That was a thing.
 

And now… The Top 10 non-Royal Rumble Matches in history.
 

10. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens | Intercontinental Championship Last Man Standing Match, 2016 | Rating: ****¼

The 2016 Royal Rumble is remembered for many things. AJ Styles made his VERY FIRST appearance in WWE. Becky Lynch and Charlotte had a pretty stirring Divas Championship match. But the best match of the night was the one that went on first.

Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens fought over the Intercontinental Championship in a rather incredible Last Man Standing Match. There are several violent spots in the match-up, many of which involving chairs. Ambrose late in the match nearly won the match after an elbow drop through the table, but it wasn’t enough at the time. Owens thought he sealed it up late with a Sidewinder Suplex through the table, but Dean the madman got up from that, too. The match came to a bitter conclusion after Owens was pushed into a stacked set of tables on the outside, finishing off one brutal encounter.

9. Diesel vs. Bret Hart | WWF Championship, 1995 | Rating: ****¼

The 1995 Rumble is notable for two reasons. Shawn Michaels went coast to coast, and Diesel and Bret Hart had an amazing WWF Title Match.

What sets this match apart is the psychology in it. The Hitman did everything in his power to try and cut Big Daddy Cool and his legs down. And by that, I mean EVERYTHING. Attacks on the leg and knee. Knee drops. Slamming them against the ringpost. Using the Figure Four on the ringpost. There’s even a spot where Hitman RIPS OFF HIS WRIST TAPE, TIES IT AROUND DIESEL’S ANKLES, and goes back in the ring to attack him while he’s trapped around the ringpost.

Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart make cameos in a match that didn’t have a finish, but it left an impact. That’s for sure.

8. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock | WWF Undisputed Championship, 2002 | Rating: ****½

Chris Jericho’s run as Undisputed Champion is something he’ll never let you forget. It unfortunately lasted only 3 months, but Jericho worked with the big names and had stirring performances.

Especially so against The Great One at the 2002 Rumble. Y2J’s heel work shined from the get go, as he stole Rocky’s taunt, putting his hand out in front of his face. The Brahma Bull gave it his best shot, but thanks to the handiwork of Lance Storm and Christian, Jericho was able to get out of Atlanta as Undisputed Champion.

7. CM Punk vs. The Rock | WWE Championship, 2013 | Rating: ****½

Sometimes, a match can be great, and also be aided by its atmosphere. CM Punk vs. The Rock in 2013 is one of those cases. Punk, who walked in as Champion, while carrying a streak of 434 days with the championship, squared off with The People’s Champion in a high-stakes encounter. The “big fight” feel that the crowd in Phoenix gave off in this match was absolutely electric.

It helped that Punk and Rock were both at a very high caliber in this matchup. Punk especially, as the man was on a run for the ages at the time. 434 came to an end after The People’s Elbow, and we know the rest from there. The electricity around this match helped it shine, though.

6. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho | Ladder Match, 2001 | Rating: ****¾

Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had their fair share of classics. One that will never be forgotten occurred at the 2001 Rumble in New Orleans. The two fought over the Intercontinental Championship in an absolutely ridiculous Ladder Match.

The thing that I REALLY love about this match? They had a match INSIDE a Ladder Match. A lot of times, you see the match built around the chase for the title. These two didn’t do that though. They fought and kicked and scrapped. They used the ladder as a weapon. Jericho used the ladder to apply the Walls of Jericho on Benoit in a memorable spot. This is one of the greatest Intercontinental Championship Matches in general, and surely the best ever in Royal Rumble history.

5. AJ Styles vs. John Cena | WWE Championship, 2017 | Rating: ****¾

AJ Styles and John Cena had one hell of a rivalry in 2016. Cena and Styles had a classic the first time they faced each other at Money in the Bank. Then, they had another at SummerSlam. Five months later at the Royal Rumble, they would fight again. But this time, with a lot more on the line.

Styles’ WWE Championship was up for grabs, and Cena’s shot at the elusive 16th Championship reign. And man, did they ever deliver. In what was one of 2017’s Matches of the Year, the two icons did what they did best in San Antonio. Cena ended the match emphatically with an AA-rollthrough-AA combo to win the title for the 16th time.

4. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins | WWE Championship Triple Threat Match, 2015 | Rating: ****¾

The 2015 Rumble was… okay, anyways, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins stole the damn show in Philadelphia on this night.

This match wasn’t your typical WWE triple threat match. It was chaotic. It was hectic. It was like watching wildfire in wrestling form. EVERYONE found a way to make an impact. Seth Rollins got his breakthrough opportunity here, and boy, oh boy, did he make the most of it. Rollins’ Phoenix Splash is one of the more memorable spots of this matchup. He wouldn’t win the title that night, as Brock would retain, but he would get the last laugh a few months later...

3. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit | WWE Championship, 2003 | Rating: *****

SmackDown’s epic run in 2002 was largely aided by the SmackDown Six, and Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were at the forefront. The Rabid Wolverine had spent much of his time in the WWF as a heel, besides for a run in 2001 against… you guessed it: Kurt Angle, but the tide was turning in his favor late in 2002. He would earn the right to be #1 contender going into the 2003 Rumble, and on that night in Boston, he faced off against his rival.

What would happen next was one of the greatest WWE Title Matches EVER. Point blank period. Not just the Rumble. EVER. Angle and Benoit put on a wrestling clinic for nearly 20 minutes, with the story focusing in on Benoit’s quest to become WWE Champion for the first time ever. Angle would retain the championship that night, but the booking in this match was Hall of Fame-grade. This is the best pure wrestling match in the history of the Royal Rumble. And it likely won’t EVER be topped. 

2. John Cena vs. Umaga | WWE Championship Last Man Standing, 2007 | Rating: *****

The 2007 Royal Rumble in San Antonio is one of the best Rumbles ever. Largely because of the main event, but also because of the Last Man Standing Match that happened that night. John Cena and Umaga had what is regarded as the greatest LMS Match in history that night, and any run through the match can show you why.

#SuperCena booking be damned here, because The Samoan Bulldozer was hardly hurt at all. This is one of the last REALLY brutal matches in WWE before the turn to PG in 2008, so there’s blood and violence galore. Plenty of usages of the steel steps were used, and Cena won the match after passing ‘Mags out with the unlatched ring ropes.

1. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack | WWF Championship Street Fight, 2000 | Rating: *****

The greatest non-Royal Rumble Match ever took place on January 23, 2000. Sure enough, it happened in the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, at the start of what was the World Wrestling Federation’s greatest year ever.

Cactus Jack and Triple H, no stranger to each other, fought over the World Wrestling Federation Title in a Street Fight. Jack’s dream of becoming WWF Champion, spliced in with his love for violence, makes the story in the match so easily captivating. Barbed wire, tables, thumbtacks and chairs all make cameos in this memorable encounter. Hunter’s Pedigree onto the thumbtacks is how this one ends, and it ended in such brilliant fashion. Both men looked like absolute warriors, with Foley still gaining plenty of sympathy from the crowd in the process of the loss.

It will always be remembered as one of the greatest championship matches in the company’s history. It’s also remembered as the greatest non-Royal Rumble Match in history.

(All photos courtesy of WWE)

Predictions for WWE in 2018

Photos courtesy of WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling

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Braun Strowman becomes WWE Champion by Summerslam, holds the title for at least six months.

It’s beyond evident that 2018 is going to be Strowman’s year. After bursting onto the scene last year, he’s managed to be one of the most popular superstars on the entire roster, and is able to work very strong matches for a big man. While he won’t be in the title picture at Wrestlemania (that’s for Roman Reigns), Reigns and Strowman will reignite their big feud from last year and work most of the summer/fall with WWE. It will be somewhat similar to The Rock and Stone Cold from the early 2000s, as they’ll put on a series of excellent matches for the second straight year.

Brock Lesnar leaves WWE

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Well, at least he’ll be leaving on far better terms than last time. I don’t think Lesnar is leaving to go back to UFC or act or anything. He’s just going to kinda disappear into the wilderness. Lesnar’s going to be 41 in July and has been through hell and back with various injuries and ailments over the years. It just seems like it’s time for him to hang it up. He already works a limited schedule and WWE doesn’t lose anything not having him around to be champion while only working a few dates every couple months. In fact, the main event and title scene become that much more interesting with him not around.

Kenny Omega goes to WWE

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This seems like it’s just a matter of time, as New Japan’s top star has accomplished just about all he can over there. While it’s not necessarily a sign of anything, Omega working with Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom is going to continue to raise speculation. WWE generally has a big NXT signing to unveil at each Takeover, so they have four (or five) chances for Omega to be that guy.

Daniel Bryan is cleared, has at least one match

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This one seems like a slam dunk. His program with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Shane McMahon is clearly heading for a match between Bryan and McMahon. The interesting thing will be to see what Bryan has left in the tank and if it leads to another match after.

Revival become Raw’s top tag team

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Just like how Sheamus and Cesaro were Raw’s breakout tag team of 2017, The Revival will hold that role in 2018. They had too many good matches to count in their time in NXT and both got brought down by injuries in 2017. As they head into the new year healthy, look for them to compete for the tag titles soon, especially with Dean Ambrose’s injury sending the tag title situation into a flux.

 

The Rock goes in the WWE Hall of Fame

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WWE needs a headliner and no one else makes sense. It would be better if Wrestlemania was in Miami, but The Rock is a draw anywhere he is. Plus, you already know he’ll be around for Wrestlemania weekend. My only request is that Stone Cold inducts him.