Well, the festive period is over, and holidays for me are all but over for a while now, so normal service may resume with weekly installments of Shoot Talk. There’s been quite a lot to talk about too during December, not to mention I’ve yet to confirm our scores from WWE Roadblock. So let’s get to it.
Braun Strowman’s Destructive Path
A few weeks back I mentioned having Braun Strowman following suit to what Samoa Joe did in NXT in just attacking people at will and interrupting matches completely unrelated to him. It appears WWE are now doing this as the past 2 weeks on RAW have seen Brawn interrupt matches and cause complete mayhem in them. 2 weeks back he came out and obliterated Titus O’Neil and Sin Cara match-up, he followed that up by appearing in the main event and laying out Reigns and Rollins. It was a change of pace seeing this guy in the main event picture and a pretty decent surprise. He continued that up with the latest episode of RAW by interfering in Bo Dallas & Darren Young vs Shining Stars, the crowd appreciated this with chants of “Thank you Brawn”. While these chants were more thanks that the crowd didn’t have to witness what on paper sounded like a terrible tag match, it’s still signs that his big man of destruction gimmick is going over well. Inserting him as a wild card in the main event title hunts is a gamble, but it’s believable now and that’s thanks to this recent path of destruction that he’s caused. The Universal title will still very much revolve around Owens, Reigns, Rollins and perhaps Balor when he comes back, but it’s positive that they can throw in Brawn as a wildcard to mix up the usual predictable title matches that RAW seem to enjoy putting forward as of late.
NXT Golden Era Version 2?
2014 was a year when NXT really hit its stride. Sami Zayn was already part of NXT from 2013, but in 2014 Hideo Itami, Finn Balor & Kevin Owens all joined the roster. Other regulars like Tyler Breeze and Baron Corbin were on the card and from 2014 throughout 2015 4 women now all on main roster were making waves in women’s wrestling causing what is known as a women’s revolution. When you look at the main roster now and list who were part of the NXT class of 2014-2015 it’s quite staggering just how stacked NXT was with talent. Unfortunately all good things do come to an end, and a lot of the NXT talent got their call ups to the main roster. Some feel some were taken up too soon with people like Apollo Crews and Dana Brooke, but others have flourished like Kevin Owens, Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Whether the call up’s sank or swam, it left a large hole in the NXT roster with some popular characters and incredible talent all off on RAW or Smackdown.
I have to admit that my viewing of NXT has decreased dramatically in 2016, I still follow the Takeover’s and on occasion will put an episode on to see what the scenario is like on NXT now. For a while I wasn’t overly invested in the weekly show anymore with the large wave of call ups. However after what I can only call perseverance I’m starting to enjoy NXT, their roster and their recent acquisitions a lot now.
While the tag division was once absolutely stacked with plenty of at the time very over teams like The Vaudevillians (yes they were actually over), American Alpha and Enzo and Cass, It’s starting to take some sort of shape again with the likes of #DIY, TM-61, Authors of Pain and of course The Revival (but I see them getting called up very soon).
And recently they have done a pretty decent job of making the male division seem star-studded again by simply giving people a bit of time and attention. Tye Dillinger who has been part of NXT for what seems like from the original golden era is now featuring in main events and sniffing around the title picture. Bobby Roode who has one of the most glorious entrances ever is fast becoming one of the big players in NXT and is now number one contender to the NXT Champion and NXT’s biggest signing as of yet Shinsuke Nakamura. Another of NXT’s largest acquisitions of 2016 was La Sombra who has held numerous CMLL titles including their top price which other wrestlers such as Hiroshi Tanahashi have held, as well as the IGWP Intercontinental title and feuded with Nakamura. His change of persona has kinda of killed his momentum a bit, but as of recent week’s he’s been re-branded with a vicious heel streak. He’s also been involved in matches to qualify for the NXT championship, so he’s finally getting that sniff at the big prize which based on his credentials in other promotions, he’s very deserving of.
Throw into the mix No Way Jose who’s starting to get over in NXT, recent signing Roderick Strong and Sanity’s leader Eric Young and the male championship division while not as star studded as 2014-2015, is still very healthy.
Cruiserweights and 205 Live Building Momentum
During RAW’s last PPV on the year, Rich Swann defended his cruiser weight championship against the 2 ex champions TJ Perkins and The Brian Kendrick. The match itself wasn’t half bad as seems to be the case with the majority of the Cruiser division matches, but it still didn’t overly excite the crowd in attendance. When the match finished Neville’s music hit and he came to the ring looking smiley and happy that Swann had won the match, the commentary team reminding us that these 2 guys go back a long way and trained together and such. Suddenly he attacked Swann and then took out TJP. Kendrick got away with any beating. This was actually really awesome to see. For weeks I’ve moaned about the lack of Neville on RAW and wished he’d been traded to Smackdown to be relevant in some story-lines. It appears Neville will be one of the shining stars of the cruiser division and he can make this division his own. It’s a much needed shot to the division and show as the crowd are still yet to fully embrace the Cruiser division.
WWE have been trying mind on a weekly basis as they’ve started to get their roster involved in story-lines such as Cedric and Noam feuding over Alicia Fox, and Jack Gallagher and Davari seem to have a great little feud ongoing. They even made a decent face turn with Mustapha Ali in his home town of Chicago, so the signs are there that they’re not pulling the plug on the cruisers just yet, and the characters are starting to come together now as feuds and relations build. Still yet to see Akira Tozawa which is a shame. Another huge positive that can come from the cruisers division is our weekly reminder that Austin Aries will feature in this division too once he’s recovered from his battering from Nakamura. If WWE keep throwing the occasional established roster member into the cruiser division it’ll help keep them in the eye of the generic WWE audience.
WWE Names The Top 25 Matches of 2016
2016 has been quite a phenomenal year for WWE. From the news breaking at the start of the year that WWE had raided NJPW for Bullet Club members and the current IGWP Intercontinental Champion, to Women main eventing PPV’s in special stipulation matches for the first time, to the talent haul they picked up from the Cruiser Weight Classic and of course finishing the year off with the announcement of a future United Kingdom Champion, it’s been a heck of a year. among all that excitement there were also some pretty spectacular matches. WWE have been nice enough to list their top 25, which for the most part, I completely agree with. Check out what they thought were 2016’s best:
|25. Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose — WWE Championship Match (WWE Roadblock)|
|24. Team Raw (Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman) vs. Team SmackDown LIVE (AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Shane McMahon, Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) — 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Men’s Elimination Match (Survivor Series)|
|23. The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson — Raw Tag Team Championship Match (Raw, Sept. 26)|
|22. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Alberto Del Rio — Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank)|
|21. Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles (Fastlane)|
|20. Asuka vs. Bayley — NXT Women’s Championship Match (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II)|
|19. The New Day vs. Y2AJ — WWE Tag Team Championship Match (Raw, March 7)|
|18. Dolph Ziggler vs. Triple H (Raw, March 14)|
|17. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins — WWE Championship Match (Money in the Bank)|
|16. The Miz vs. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens — Fatal 4-Way Intercontinental Championship Match (Extreme Rules)|
|15. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair — Hell in a Cell Raw Women’s Championship Match (Hell in a Cell)|
|14. Finn Bálor vs. Seth Rollins — WWE Universal Championship Match (SummerSlam)|
|13. The Revival vs. American Alpha — NXT Tag Team Championship Match (NXT TakeOver: Dallas)|
|12. Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles — Extreme Rules WWE Championship Match (Extreme Rules)|
|11. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Cruiserweight Classic, Aug. 3)|
|10. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler — Title vs. Career Intercontinental Championship Match (No Mercy)|
|9. John Cena vs. AJ Styles (SummerSlam)|
|8. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch — Triple Threat WWE Women’s Championship Match (WrestleMania 32)|
|7. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins – No Disqualification WWE Universal Title Match (Raw, Nov. 21)|
|6. AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena — Triple Threat WWE Championship Match (No Mercy)|
|5. Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander (Cruiserweight Classic; Aug. 10)|
|4. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (WWE Battleground)|
|3. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks — WWE Women’s Championship Match (Raw; July 25)|
|2. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT TakeOver: Dallas)|
|1. The Revival vs. #DIY — 2-out-of-3-Falls NXT Tag Team Championship Match (NXT TakeOver: Toronto)|
Really happy to see that Kota Ibushi vs Cedric Alexander’s bout from the Cruiserweight Classic made the top 5, and really awesome to see #DIY vs Revival as number one. Nakamura vs Zayn was a shoe in for a top 5 match too.
Book It Vince
So as I’ve to New York for a week in December and then participating in plenty of festivities over the month I’ve been a little slower with the installments of Shoot Talk, It also meant that last week the lack of a Shoot Talk meant we didn’t get our Roadblock results and our updated tally. Without further adieu here is how the standings were before the results.
And here’s how our predictions went.
So Mike and I were wrong to predict that Sasha would break Charlotte’s PPV streak. And we all struck out with the Zayn vs Strowman match, but that felt like a really weird ending. Cesaro & Sheamus winning was still a surprise despite how confident we all predicted that result would go. To top it off, it was an absolutely great match. So here’s how we’re looking as we approach 2017 and the final stretch of our predictions before our new season after Wrestlemania.
Onto Royal Rumble in which we’ll be all predicting extra things for additional bonus points. Further explanations will arrive closer to the PPV.