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Psyniac White

About Psyniac White

Psyniac is a 27 year old consumer of media with experience in podcasting, radio presentation, video editing and marking out for Dolph Ziggler.

Author Archive | Psyniac White

So… That Happened: TLC 3

The era of the DVD is all but dead, especially for WWE fans. Want to relive any moment? It’s pretty much guaranteed to be on the WWE Network. Unfortunately when you’re living without an internet connection for a week, like I had to recently, you’re left with very few options left for entertainment. Thus, one morning I pulled out WWE’s “The Ladder Match” compilation released in 2007 and hosted by Todd Grisham. One match in particular caught my interest and I found myself thinking “that happened”? Trigger warning: this match contains Benoit and lots of it.

Think of an example of when a casual or former wrestling fan struck up a conversation with you about moments of the past. It’s easy to determine the viewing history of “former” fans; 90% of them seem to have been swept up in the WWF at the height of it’s dominance and then fallen off approaching the end of the Attitude Era. Thus, recounted moments are usually those on the extreme side; Mankind’s fall from the cell, Austin’s crimson-mask face turn and any number of Shane’s various antics. One thing that always seems to come up is the legendary TLC 2 from WrestleMania X-7 [WATCH: WrestleMania X-7, on the WWE Network].

Following the success of a match that more often than not makes it into lists of the best bouts of all time, two months later the WWE attempted to strike gold for a third time with TLC 3. The first wrinkle to this match, however, was that it would introduce another duo to the the WWE’s trio of tag team greats; the Dudleyz, the Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian. This team, somewhat strangely in retrospect, is Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. The pair had previously had a strange formation with Benoit losing a match against Angle at Judgement Day due to interference from Edge and Christian [WATCH: Judgement Day 2001, on the WWE Network]. This saw the Rabid Wolverine team up with Jericho in a Tag Team Turmoil match later that evening for revenge and, by coincidence, #1 Contendership. The next night they captured the WWF Tag Team Championship [WATCH: Monday Night Raw – May 21st 2001, on the WWE Network].

The second thing of particular interest is that TLC 3 was to take place on free TV on the May 24th 2001 episode of SmackDown of all things, just days later. The idea of such a match happening on broadcast television now is fairly laughable; sure, we get the occasional Steel Cage match (especially more likely since the draft extension) but it’s not like they’re busting out the Hell in a Cell for random TV tapings. Whilst Raw’s most recent TLC bout was January 2013, this remains the only time SmackDown has been graced with the gimmick.

The match doesn’t fool around and a series of ladder spots open the competition [WATCH: SmackDown – May 24th 2001, on the WWE Network]. The two Canadians are presented with a subtle layer of sympathy, facing off against three teams who have TLC experience (and a promo to open the episode from Vince who believes they have “run out of miracles”). Before too long, Benoit dives through a table on the outside and is stretchered out of the arena. After a few spots, including a savage suplex off the ladder from Bubba to Jeff, Benoit makes his way back to the ring clutching his ribs and intent on climbing towards the gold.

You may have noticed that one of the three namesake toys of the TLC match has been absent to this point but a two-on-one assault from Edge & Christian fixes that as they bring chairs into the fold to deliver a con-chair-to to Benoit’s ribs. From here, the latter delivers a brutal headshot to Jericho whom Tazz mentions in passing is recovering from a concussion. Grim. Kayfabe or not, whatever the case these things are much harder to see in hindsight. This probably won’t be the last time we revisit unprotected chair shots though, unfortunately.

Further spots in TLC 3 include the out of nowhere use of a TV monitor followed by Jeff impressively leapfrogging from one ladder, over another and down into the announce table, D’von sells a Twist of Fate like he just got electrocuted and finally Benoit ascends a ladder to retain the Tag Team Championship to a glowing babyface pop, despite not really being a part of the competition. This may have been for the best however, as it was revealed weeks later than Chris had sustained a neck injury during the match.

Following TLC 3, the winning duo strangely used their victory to secure world title shots from then-champion Stone Cold with Benoit challenging twice in the very next week. This alone is evidence that, at the time, the WWF knew that the unexpected would keep people tuning in. In retrospect, it seems incredibly scattershot. All in all, TLC 2 remains a good mile out from it’s successor but the third match of the series is still pretty fun, even with some very odd albeit interesting alterations to the formula. Hell, those interesting alterations are what these articles are all about. Jericho and Benoit teamed together in the fatal four-way TLC 3 on SmackDown. Weird, innit?

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So… That Happened: Curtis Axel, Heyman Guy

When non-fans mockingly cry “it’s fake” at people like you and I they don’t realise that “its fake” is simultaneously the best and worst thing about wrestling. On the one hand, how frustrating is it to explain to people that it’s just like any other show on TV? But on the other… it’s a good thing that it isn’t real. Wrestling has the fortunate ability to backtrack or change gears at any given moment if things aren’t going as planned. “So… That Happened” is a column devised for looking back into the annals of history and bringing certain things to light. Sure, everybody knows about characters like Gilberg or the Gobbledegooker… what I’m talking about is the stuff that wrestling tries to walk away from whistling innocently and most often gets away with it.

First on our list is one of the strangest pushes of a character this decade…

Following Extreme Rules 2013, Brock Lesnar left the WWE stating that he had conquered everything in the company (hilarious considering what would transpire two years later at WrestleMania… not quite, Brock). This left his advocate Paul Heyman, at least the WWE felt, with some free time to use. Not content with him just managing CM Punk, everybody’s favourite manager was to introduce his new “Paul Heyman Guy” on the May 20th edition of Monday Night Raw.

Rewatching the segment, it seems as though if this was Curtis Axel’s true, blue debut there would’ve at least been intrigue. This is the most charismatic Axel has looked in his career; skulking down to the ring after Heyman’s introductory spiel with a cocky swagger and a maniacal laugh. His pedigree is highlighted, he has badass music, he sports a confident look about him and the commentators try to put him over big. Unfortunately, the crowd in the arena and everyone at home looks at him and only sees Nexus’ Michael McGuillicutty.

Unfortunately, things go downhill for Curtis Axel starting the night of his debut [WATCH: Monday Night RAW – May 20, 2013, on the WWE Network]. Triple H, who was Brock’s victim the previous night at Extreme Rules, comes to the squared circle to confront Heyman. He pays no mind to Heyman’s promised and prized competitor until he has to; knocking him to the ground in one, solitary bitchslap and then challenging him to what seems like a squash match later in the show. The match, when it arrives, is fairly standard outside of its totally absurd finish. Triple H loses due to a stoppage when he begins to kayfabe suffer concussion symptoms presumably brought on by his match with the Beast Incarnate that Sunday. Axel defeats the Cerebral Assassin on his first night in WWE… but by technicality. So is it a mega-push or not?

The next week things continue to be confusing when, at the behest of Heyman, then WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena agrees to face off with Curtis Axel [WATCH: Monday Night RAW – May 27, 2013, on the WWE Network]. Amazingly, “The Axe Man” would gain a victory over the champ but unfortunately, it would be achieved somewhat unceremoniously with Cena walking away due to an interruption by Ryback. Things get worse yet seven days later when Raw opened with Stephanie announcing Triple H would not be allowed to return to the ring (leaving that story strand unresolved) to compete against Axel who, in her words, is beneath him.

Later that night, Curtis is booked in a rematch against Big Match John and, to mix things up, it’s made a no-DQ bout [WATCH: Monday Night RAW – June 3, 2013, on the WWE Network]. At the finish of the match, Cena is preparing to throw Axel through a table when he instead decides to swing his fists at a begging Heyman. Chasing him around the ring, John runs into Ryback who proceeds to spear his Payback opponent through the table instead. Axel then wins by count-out, a rule that doesn’t even apply in no disqualification matches, and in three weeks of being rebranded has one win over Triple H and two over John Cena.

From here, Axel moves into the Intercontinental Championship picture and, as we all know, secures the belt for a number of months. His time at the top is over immediately and these storylines are never fully tied up. In November of 2013, he officially steps down as a “Heyman Guy” and disappears into obscurity (at least until Royal Rumble 2015).

It’s never been clear to me whether WWE was seriously pushing Curtis Axel or not. At the time it seemed it but looking back on it now, as a complete package, it seems like a pointlessly elaborate rib. He’s introduced in a fashion that is anything but impactful and yet is somehow cooled off further with several wins gained by pure circumstance rather than dominance. His time at the Intercontinental Championship level suffered because of it and it’s hard not to think that had he been introduced with a genuine mean streak and the goal of claiming his Father’s famous prize then he could’ve made a stable mid-carder with more potential. Throwing him in at the deep end then draining the pool on the same night is such a ridiculous booking decision that it leads me to believe they never, ever wanted Axel to get real heat.

But hey, it could be worse. The only memorable thing about Ryback’s time with Paul Heyman was getting kissed on the cheek.

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The Steel Cage Standings – December 2016

Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the Top 5 Raw and Top 5 Smackdown superstars, Top 3 NXT superstars and then highlight three stars or teams that have been wasted or have been straight-up terrible. December 2016 was a bit of a weird one for quality and whilst I’ve recently enjoyed Raw more than usual, the general opinion has seen the divide between the red and blue brands grow wider. 2016’s final Raw was a bit of a shitshow whereas the final Smackdown was basically an awesome miniature PPV. Anyway, let’s get into it.

RAW Top 5:

05. Owens & Jericho

owens

The Universal Champion and his “bezzie mate” still hang onto a place in the Top 5 this month despite a few misplaced steps in their story. We had tension for the vast majority of December with Owens sorely trying to win his friend back for a second time and whilst they’ve had their moments (the shark cage thing was actually hysterical, even if it’s utterly stupid) we are beyond treading water at this point. Team Kevin and Chris/Chris and Kevin are now at the stage where breaking these two up for real has lost any shock value and when it happens we’ll be waiting for them to change their minds once again which is a shame. This time of year is always a bit of a clusterfuck whilst the Wrestlemania card falls into place but it’s sad to see these characters suffer because of it.

04. Neville

A surprising return this month and one of the only stand-out moments from Roadblock: End of the Line saw Neville come down to the ring to seemingly congratulate Swann on his victory before immediately taking him out and turning heel in the process. Bad, Beardy Neville immediately kept the fire burning with a killer promo the next night on Raw and ascending to the top of the Cruiserweight division immediately, where he obviously belongs. This no-nonsense, loner character is a strange fit for Neville but a fit it is and he’s pulling it off splendidly. It’s about time he got some of the spotlight on TV.

03. Bayley

bayley
Perhaps it’s just because it’s fresh but my God is it good to see Charlotte facing off against Bayley. The Banks feud, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, has been one of this year’s worst, ongoing (read: never-ending) things so to see Charlotte get to flex her muscles, literally and figuratively, against someone else has been fun. Moreover, Bayley has been able to come into her own better by interacting with more than just jobbers or being used as a jobber herself. She’ll be a fine competitor for Charlotte to blow past on her way to Wrestlemania and hopefully prominent screen-time will help her, too.

02. Braun Strowmann

Good lord, Braun is good. Two months he was a surprise entry, last month his booking allowed him to move up the list and here we are at the #2 spot. Following his excellent use at Survivor Series, Braun found his way back into his story with Sami with ease. The ten-minute time limit match at Roadblock: End of the Line was a weird one but it allowed Strowman to explode after the next few weeks, demand a rematch with Zayn. Whilst it has shades of Joe in NXT, Strowman interrupting matches and making a mockery of Raw has been a good use of him and he’s excelled in every segment they’ve given him, spoken or ring-work, over the last few months. Not bad for that green member of the Wyatt Family.

01. Cesaro & Sheamus

cesaro

Following their best of seven series in September, I was cautiously optimistic that Cesaro & Sheamus could work as a team. The two are incredibly hardworking dudes and between them could have a few decent ideas. Well, those decent ideas flourished and the two found themselves getting over in their respective face and heel roles. Nowadays, Sheamus is basically a face that’s fun to boo because of how entertaining their “yay/nay” dynamic is. That’s why, as much as I love The Club, I’m not surprised that the WWE cashed in on them (see also: they’re “WWE guys” more than “NJPW guys”).

Booked very suddenly into a title match at Roadblock: End of the Line, Cesaro and Sheamus winning the titles was a very real possibility but it was still a shock that WWE ended New Day’s run so suddenly. Gifted new belts, this is an example of WWE striking when the iron was hot after the tag division had been so cold for so long.

SMACKDOWN Top 5:

05. Baron Corbin

corbin

I’ve always been for Baron Corbin rather than against; stupid wolf shirts, receding hairline and belly-face be damned. Whereas Raw is very rigid, Smackdown Live has a really good way of making it feel as though guys can float around the roster without too much question and one example of this has been Corbin stepping up to challenge for the WWE title on the Wildcard Finals episode at the end of 2016. Was he ever going to win it? Not bloody likely. But did he look like a beast and give you the idea that maybe, someday he might get there? Yup.

04. The Miz

The Miz has had one of his weaker months here in 2016 but even still he lands on his list. Out of all the stars in WWE in this insane twelve months, Miz is one guy you could say stole the show on a regular basis and his match with Ziggler at TLC did just that. Following that, he handily moved into a feud with former WWE Champion Ambrose (see above about guys not feeling out of place) and made the whole thing very interesting with one line aimed at Renee Young. Shocking yet logical promos and storylines like that are a great way to help us forget about that confusing Bryan rivalry (which may be over but who knows?) for one thing but also just to hook viewers. I guess The Miz is must-see after all.

03. Alexa Bliss & Becky Lynch

alexa

First of all, congratulations to Alexa Bliss on becoming Smackdown Women’s Champion. Whilst their tables match at TLC was a bit of a disappointment, it was the right decision. Moreover, the two have managed to keep their feud and subsequent rematch storyline pretty interesting with the inclusion of Becky’s apparent alter ego La Luchadora earning her another shot at the end of the year which concluded with a very interesting twist. Who exactly is under the mask is one thing but having somewhere for Becky to go now she doesn’t have the belt makes sense, gives Alexa a month to breeze through an opponent whilst Nikki is feuding with Natala etc. As a whole, the Smackdown’s women’s division is very strong and constantly interesting. Most importantly, Alexa sits at the top of it.

02. The Wyatt Family

We were all very skeptical, fair to say, about Orton joining the Wyatt Family but when they shockingly took the belts off of Slater and Rhyno I think we were all made believers. That moment, post-match, was enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand-up as Randy and Bray handed Luke their belts and posed before the lights went out. Even still they played with us by teasing a break-up which I sincerely hope isn’t coming despite taking the belts off of the three. Hopefully that’s just a way to crown somebody two time champions and also to help American Alpha not fall away into obscurity. Either way their match at the end of the year show was fun and if it means we get more of that I’m down for it.

01. AJ Styles

AJ

WWE really has an issue with it’s heels sometimes by overbooking the turd out of them. Every match either has to have an over-the-top cheat finish or they’re booked to lose clean every damn week. I was getting a little worried about Styles losing to Ellsworth so many times so to see him get his own back so viciously put my mind at ease. Furthermore, he successfully defended against two guys who going into the match didn’t look like they had a chance and yet AJ made them look like a million bucks.

With Cena returning, the course was clear and the two still produce one hell of an energy when they’re in the ring together. Considering the quality of the matches they put on earlier this year, colour me excited for their rematch at Royal Rumble. It’s possible Styles will surprise us by retaining yet again but if he doesn’t then there’s no qualms here with his run with the belt this year. 2016 was truly the year of AJ Styles.

THE BAD:

03. The New Day

“The bad” list this month may seem familiar to those of you who checked out last month’s list since it’s entirely the same. December is a good month for WWE to spin wheels and Raw has suffered the most with it. Hell, The New Day have practically defined the term over the last six months. Even so, losing the belts almost immediately after passing the record we were all waiting for them to break was a bit of a unceremonious way to do it. I suppose the bright side is that it’s over now. Move along, people.

02. Roman Reigns

Last month I was tearing my hair out over the fact that Roman was given the midcard title for Raw and proceeded to head straight back into the main event with it like it was an accessory to hang off his Big Cheater Vest. Roman is a fine wrestler but it seems like they keep making decisions with him specifically to piss off fans. Following Roadblock: End of the Line where he lost, Roman has another shot at the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble still whilst holding the United States Championship which is (at the time) not up for grabs. Utterly stupid, utterly infuriating, utterly indicative of Reigns’ booking.

01. Sasha Banks

sasha

We have a winner! Of the biggest loser award. For the third month in a Row Sasha Banks struggles to evolve from the utter garbage she’s become. After winning the Raw Women’s Championship for a third time this year (and third time crying about it, if I recall correctly), she went on to drop it back to Charlotte again in a poorly booked 2-out-of-3 Falls match at Roadblock: End of the Line. Instead of doing the right thing and taking her off television, she came to the ring on Raw to proclaim “I no longer feel like The Boss” (no shit) and then got attacked by Nia Jax, turning her even more into “sympathetic white meat babyface”. What a waste. Get off my TV and into the bin, Sasha.

THE NXT:

03. Asuka

I have to admit that during her reign I’ve gotten a little tired of Asuka and it’s not really her fault. With the women’s division all but cleared out before her debut, she was left with very little to do. That’s why this month’s bout against Nia Jax made me remember why we were all so excited to begin with. A much longer match that allowed Asuka to sell, making her opponent look super powerful; I almost thought for a moment that she might finally drop the belt. Two more months however, and WWE can clear Paige’s name off the record so you know that’s where this is going.

02. SaNiTY

This second half of this year has been a bit of an odd time for NXT with the show finally getting a lot of criticism for it’s shallow roster. Losing it’s lead writer to Smackdown hasn’t helped either. Gladly, this month saw some development in the newest faction SaNiTY. Whilst we’ve been spoilt with the cream of the former-TNA crop coming through WWE already, Eric Young is still a good get for NXT and his faction presents some intrigue with the whack-job Nikki Cross, the suddenly very missing Sawyer Fulton and the interruptions by Big Damo. It’s hard to know what exactly is happening but fingers crossed. And heads bopping to that totally screwed up Primus-esque theme music they have.

01. Bobby Roode

bobby

Just because it’s not surprising doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Bobby Roode being crowned #1 contender for the NXT Championship is the right thing to do, especially as he’s one of the most over individuals in NXT if not WWE at large. Whether or not his opponent should be Nakamura or Joe is up for debate since chants of “GLORIOUS” may actually drown out support for the NXT Champion and King of Leaving Horrible Marks on Austin Aries’ face. Similarly, whether or not Roode will take the title or suffer his first loss makes for an interesting point of discussion and something to look forward to next month. Either way, the crowd reaction in San Antonio will be nuts and this you can all but guarantee.

You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw and Smackdown 18 hours after they’ve aired, how much he loves Carmella and, occasionally, candy.

Photography credit (C) WWE.com

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The Steel Cage Standings – November 2016

Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the Top 5 Raw and Top 5 Smackdown superstars, Top 3 NXT superstars and then highlight three stars or teams that have been wasted or have been straight-up terrible. November 2016 saw the two brands of WWE collide in the first relevant Survivor Series pay-per-view in years. Not only was it relevant however, it was actually good and was topped off by this year’s biggest surprise. Let’s roll right into it.

RAW Top 5:

05. Enzo Amore & Big Cass

enzo
You know RAW is hurting for big stars when I put these guys in here for “making me laugh”. It’s no slight on Enzo and Cass, the tag division right now on RAW is a fucking mess thanks to New Day’s stalemate title run, but they’ve at least had some amusing segments. Be it hocking merch for Black Friday, (how you doin’), Cyber Monday (how you doin’) or ‘Zo walking around with a pixellated yellow banana hammock (how you… hm), at least the two are doing more than looking like jokes like the rest of the division. It may be another story where Rusev should be the face but them being paired up with the Bulgarian Brute, another immensely funny performer, should make for some entertaining moments.

04. Braun Strowman

Braun moves up the list for RAW by being continually booked correctly and taking advantage of the moments he’s given. On the lead into Survivor Series Braun was not made to look like anything over than what he is: a monster. Taking out members of Team Smackdown with his shocking speed and impressively convincing power-moves, we all knew Braun’s inclusion in the 5-on-5 could really help his push. He looked great too, even with only one elimination under his belt (which was helped by Smackdown in-fighting) and was thrown out of the match in a way that didn’t make him look weak whilst managing to call back to his earlier squash match with Ellsworth. Braun and his on-going story have been a highlight of RAW every week.

03. Rich Swann

swann
I’m not really sure how I’m going to tackle 205 Live, both in Steel Cage Standings and also in having enough time in my life to watch yet more WWE programming. But that’s besides the point. Since the debut of the terrible Cruiserweight Division, Swann has been the stand-out guy week-to-week. WWE clearly saw something in him early on which is why he was booked on every episode of RAW, saw his face plastered on the company’s trucks recently and then got a win over Cruiserweight Champion Kendrick. In order to shake things up and generate shock, Swann got the title on the very first episode of 205 Live. The title is already losing steam by being passed around so much but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve it and hopefully he’ll be the first guy to get a decent run out of it.

02. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho

Before it even began to flourish into the friendship we know and love today, Jericho and Owen’s shaky, temporary partnership was fun. In fact, since the day JeriKO appeared on our screens they’ve been a part of the Steel Cage Standings and usually near the top. Every month however, it gets better. November constantly teased a break-up of the two and whilst it’s clearly coming they managed to subvert our expectations by having the two reconcile over their hate of Roman Reigns. Hell, in the last RAW of the month Kevin lost his cool with Chris, telling him his help was making him look bad (somewhat true, at least) and then later mentioned that their relationship would endure even this. It’s guy love between two guys.

01. Goldberg

goldberg

One of the most discussed subjects of November 2016 was whether Goldberg should or would beat Brock Lesnar. Bill has been known to be a bit of a tough businessman and he came back to WWE, twelve years after his initial departure, to show his kid and other children around the world that he’s a “superhero”. On the other hand, Lesnar has been booked as an unbeatable machine for the past two and a half years; beating the streak, decimating Cena and forcefully busting Orton open this summer. Still, with all the talk I don’t think anyone predicted what would transpire.

Goldberg beating Lesnar in 1:26 caused an initial shocked, confused, terrified outcry of many and I was one of them but after mulling it over for a brief period of time it started to make sense and where we’re at now it’s all excitement and all must-see TV. Goldberg has entered the Rumble to pursue the title, Lesnar promises to chase after him and Heyman has been unshaven and whimpering on TV. It’s starting to feel like WrestleMania this year could have some really interesting marquee matches and who would’ve thought Goldberg/Lesnar III would be one of them?

SMACKDOWN Top 5:

05. The Women’s Division

carmella
Let’s kick off Smackdown with a range of compliments so broad that I couldn’t just pick one woman or one feud. The Blue Team’s female roster has been booked in increasingly interesting ways basically from top-to-bottom. Carmella and Nikki’s personal grievances have made for brutal promos (something about Nikki being punched so hard her tits come out her back?!) with both of them really getting over in their respective roles. Add the wrinkle of Natalya potentially being the one who took out Bella at Survivor Series, who has been playing this insufferable yet hilarious character dropping song lyrics and talking about her cats and you’ve got some hints for future rivalries. In the title picture we have Alexa and Becky who have been particularly stiff with each other recently and are gearing up to a table match at TLC with very little “THIS IS A MOMENT” fanfare and it has the potential to steal the show regardless. Overall, the women of Smackdown, unlike RAW, haven’t felt like they’re treading water for a second.

04. The Miz

I’m not a fan of the WWE hot potato’ing titles (which is all they seem to do right now) but putting the Intercontinental Championship back on The Miz was the right thing to do, as was have him and Maryse cheat to retain at Survivor Series. Miz may as well have been shooting on Talking Smack when he said that he was making the IC title relevant again because it really feels that way; he’s one of the guys you can really depend upon to make the most of what they’re given and craft something great out of it. His feud with Ziggler is starting to get tired but when the champion is on screen you pay attention.

03. AJ Styles

styles
AJ Styles has come a long way since his time in TNA and the depth of his WWE character is picture-perfect proof of it. Skilled but too arrogant for his own good, Styles has played excellent foil to Ambroses’ chaotic persona and Ellsworth’s lucky streak. Angry, flustered and passionate; as good as every player in this feud has been, AJ has been carrying the story for the most part. With any other guy, this might not have worked. Coming up to a year in the company, Styles’ list of accolades is impressive and hopefully only continues to grow from here as he’s made his presence known as one of the most entertaining guys in WWE.

02. Bray Wyatt

I’ve said it before, numerous times, but I try not to get on the Bray Wyatt bandwagon. I’ve been burned before. Every time it seems as though Wyatt is on a roll he’s sure to lose at that integral moment then disappear off the face of the planet. I’m asking for trouble by saying this but right now it looks as though that may not happen this time. Bray got the most number of eliminations in the Survivor Series Men’s 5-on-5 match and they just so happened to both be the faces of the company; Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Definitely an unexpected end to the match but one that couldn’t come without….

01. Randy Orton

orton
Firstly, RKO put on the most solid performance out of all of the guys at Survivor Series. More importantly, we’ve all been a little worried that this Orton in the Wyatt Family storyline is about to cheapen at any moment with the not-so-sudden revelation that Randy has been planning to takedown the Wyatts from the inside but Orton eating a spear from Reigns and allowing Bray to capitalise says otherwise. For a few weeks now, Bryan and Renee have said they’re waiting for Orton to turn on his bearded brothers so I was starting to think this may be a much more long term deal.

Following their victory at Survivor Series, the two have found themselves in contendership for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship and there’s no reason why these two shouldn’t win. They’re both powerful characters in kayfabe that could do with the win, the gold (Orton’s last tag championship was 2004, Bray has never held a belt) and the extra ingredients to push this intriguing story forward. When Orton stinks, he stinks but when Orton is good, he’s damn fun and right now he’s hugely entertaining to watch.

THE BAD:

03. The New Day

Whilst I think things have at least taken an interesting turn in the last couple of weeks with New Day being instantly eliminated from their Survivor Series match and going on a spree of cheating matches to win, we need to address the fact that New Day’s push to beat Demolition’s Tag Team Championship reign and the damage it has done to WWE. The tag division on RAW was never in a great position to succeed with three decent teams and two joke teams making up the entire roster but New Day crushing them all over and over has not exactly done wonders for the future. Hopefully the writers have a plan for building guys back up when they finally drop those titles.

02. Roman Reigns

When Roman won the United States Championship from Rusev there was almost a collective sigh of relief. Point one; he was out of the main event picture for the time being. Point two; it was retreading old ground but at least the predicted US Open Challenge would give him something to do on TV that was worthwhile. Point three… wait, what? I haven’t even finished thinking about the positives and he’s already got a Universal Championship match? How does that make any sense? And what does that do for the poor US title? Holding it over your back like a dickhead definitely isn’t helping it look strong and neither is ignoring it and running headfirst back into boring Roman main event territory.

01. Sasha Banks

sasha
For the second month in a row Sasha Banks is the bottom of the WWE barrel. What a horrible state of affairs; once the shining jewel in the so-called “Women’s Revolution” and now a totally ruined character. I said in October that the plus-side to her losing the belt so quickly in her hometown was that she could move out of the title picture for a while and it seemed like this was the plan with Bayley and Charlotte having an altercation at Survivor Series but…. nope. On the final RAW of November, Sasha became three time Women’s Champion in Charlotte’s home city in some weird kind of 50/50 booking bullshit. Three time champion. She doesn’t even feel like one time champion. Oh, and she cried again too so there’s no hope that she’s bringing the boss character back. How tragically disappointing.

THE NXT:

03. Peyton Royce & Billie Kay

Royce and Kay; or as Grieg likes to refer to them, “the Aussie cunts”, have found a hole in the NXT’s women’s roster and filled it with gusto. Dressed to the nines and slinking their way down to the ring, they’re the anti-thesis of a lot of the women in indie wrestling today and thus they make for perfect heels against NXT’s up and coming female roster. Them enlisting Daria to save them from Liv, Aliyah and Ember made perfect sense and was a great way to get her back on TV and leaving her out to dry was even better. For the time being, especially since Asuka has very little to do, they’re some of the more entertaining women in NXT.

02. Tye Dillinger

Whether you love it or you hate it the weekend of Survivor Series was permeated with “TEN” chants. I’ll admit that it got a little annoying and took focus away from the matches at hand but to begin with it was so good to see Tye so over. I’ve been a big fan of Dillinger for a good while and his match at TakeOver Toronto was thus far his biggest moment in a very lengthy developmental run. I’m worried for his future but I think we’re likely to see Tye on the main roster sooner rather than later and I’ll be damned if he isn’t ready for it.

01. #DIY & The Revival

diy
For the past year, The Revival have been the pinnacle of tag team wrestling in all of the WWE. Simple and effective at first glance, these guys have more depth than it appears as they have continually proved by putting on multiple match of the year candidates. At least two of these have been with Gargano and Ciampa, known collectively as Team #DIY. These two great single competitors appeared a year ago to take part in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and I don’t think anyone expected themselves to want them to stay as a team. Throughout the summer the two teased a break-up, had a duel in the CWC that has gone down as one of my favourite matches of all time and finally reached the peak of the mountain by knocking of Dash and Dawson for the NXT Tag Team Titles. A show stealing moment that all four guys should be proud of.

You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw and Smackdown 18 hours after they’ve aired, how much he loves Carmella and, occasionally, candy.

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The Steel Cage Standings – October 2016

Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the Top 5 Raw and Top 5 Smackdown superstars, Top 3 NXT superstars and then highlight three stars or teams that have been wasted or have been straight-up terrible. October 2016 was our second round of brand-exclusive pay-per-views including the first shoe-horned-in gimmick show, Hell in a Cell. It also gave us the return of Goldberg out of the blue and the build towards Survivor Series. Let’s take a closer look.

RAW Top 5:

05. Braun Strowman

braun
Bit of a weird one to start off with but honestly Braun’s single push has been executed almost perfectly for my tastes. With the brand extension we saw the return of local indie schmuck jobbers and it was the perfect path to put The Abominable Strowman on. After clearing out a few, then “doing a Ryback” by beating multiple opponents at once with ease, Braun found himself in a program with a guy that also needed something to do before he got boring. He and Sami Zayn seem like a good fit although personally I would have had Zayn one-up him in the Battle Royal for a spot on the Survivor Series team to incite Braun’s rage. Still, it’s got some intrigue to it and Braun has even surprised me with his mic work. It’s been simple but effective.

04. Rich Swann

It’s always a relief when a guy you personally love gets over organically. The Cruiserweight Division on Raw has been pretty pointless since day one but if we get nothing but a Rich Swann push out of it then that’s enough for me. Swann has appeared every week since the division began (plus he’s still competing on NXT) and his music, entrance and in-ring style has given him responses that have snowballed every time. It seems pretty obvious that Kendrick taking the belt off the floundering Perkins (we’ll get to that) lines Rich up to be next in line, especially since he beat The Wizard of Odd on Raw recently. Can you handle this, can you handle this?

03. Charlotte

charlotte
Speaking of chicken salad amongst chicken shit, the women’s division on Raw has had it’s fair share of problems since it’s inception. Admittedly, part of this is due to injury and… whatever Paige is doing. But the rest is due to non-characters with lame motives building towards important matches for all the wrong reasons. The women’s Hell in a Cell match was pretty average and the flip-flopping off the Raw Women’s Championship is an eye-roll but all in fairness I’d take Charlotte as champion over anyone else these days. For the month of October, she was the only woman on the roster who seemed to understand her character and could cut a half-decent promo. Also, her attacking Sasha before the hell had fully descended made me pop.

02. Goldberg

Goooooldbeeeeeerg… For the third year in a row a star from the past has returned to the WWE via their involvement with the 2k video game. However, this is the first and hopefully last time a match has been built around the damn thing. Goldberg will be facing off against Lesnar because “reasons” at Survivor Series but before we get there we’ve thus far been treated to two appearances by WCW’s main guy on Raw which have been pretty good. His entrance remains intact, he looks decent and, most amazing of all, he managed to succeed on the microphone. Also, his “I’m Goldberg, BOY” on the Halloween Raw in the face of Rusev was lol-worthy. It’s all a very interesting discussion about whether he should or will beat Brock next month but that’s talk for the November edition. For now, he’s had one of the biggest crowd responses of the year.

01. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho

owens
It’s hard to talk about one without the other right now because they compliment each other so well. Their back and forth is incredible; Y2J’s entertaining side helps Owens keep his heat and KO’s frustrations turn his best friend steadily more face. Jericho definitely stole the spotlight during the build but Owens and Rollins had match of the night at Hell in a Cell. Hopefully their bad guy antics will help to make a more clear-cut babyface of Seth Rollins who, in all likelihood, joins them in the Survivor Series team that Owens and Jericho are co-captaining.

Slow and steady seems to win the race. Owens is still rolling his eyes at Jericho’s ridiculousness as the Ayatollah of Rock-and-rollah gets more and more over each week with his list of simple but effective catchphrases and props. It’s definitely just a matter of time until the bubble bursts but for now JeriKO stand united as the most entertaining thing on the RAW brand.

SMACKDOWN Top 5:

05. James Ellsworth

ellsworth
Wrestling is totally stupid. You all know this really. But it’s this kind of stupid that we love. Ellsworth previously appeared as a member of Adam Rose’s rosebuds and returned to Raw this year to job to Braun Strowman. Something happened though and he’s somehow found himself as part of the Smackdown main event scene throughout all of the month of October. I’m not sure he’s signed officially but he might as well be. Not only have his two victories against AJ been hilarious without being damaging to Styles’ character, Ellsworth has made Ambrose more interesting and kept him out of matches with the champion who he’s sure to continue to feud with. What a bizarre thing.

04. Nikki & Carmella

It’s kind of funny because looking at those two names… isn’t one just a stupid reality star bimbo and isn’t the other the lady doomed to fail since she got split up from Enzo and Cass? And yet the two have been putting on one of the most personal feuds in the WWE right now and doing it with fantastic in-ring and on-mic work. Nikki has improved a lot in the last year or so and Carmella has definitely made the most of the time and attention given to her. Good on Smackdown for giving her a chance and good on her for grabbing the so-called brass rings.

03. Dolph Ziggler

dolph
I’m not as sour as some people on Miz dropping the Intercontinental Championship to Ziggler, I’m hoping they can make it work. So far so good; Ziggler captured the belt in a title VS career match at No Mercy that had many questioning if Dolph was done in WWE. Following this, Miz bringing in two former Spirit Squad members to reign hell on Ziggler was perfect with the new champion fighting them off as best as he could before a brawl ensued. WWE embracing Dolph’s past has been interesting to see and it’s the kind of reference that long-term fans enjoy. Also, it means this feud at least has something new to keep it moving along a little longer.

02. AJ Styles

Last month I mentioned just how good it was that Styles had the world championship because of the number of fresh title feuds that meant for. To begin with, he beat Cena and Ambrose in a triple threat which is pretty cool and then… went on to have a legitimate storyline with a jobber? Well, can’t say I saw that coming. All our lofty ideas on who he could face, it says a lot about Smackdown’s writing staff and Styles’ talent that he’s made facing off with Ellsworth and continuing to feud with Ambrose actually geniunely interesting. Most importantly, AJ gets his character in a way that comes across so confidently on screen. His emotions and motive are so easy to understand because he’s such a rounded character. Also, he basically saved Ellsworth’s life after a near-botched Styles Clash. So we should probably thank him for that.

01. Alexa Bliss

alexa
I mentioned how surprising it was that Nikki and Carmella are doing so well but they’ve got nothing on the current contender to the Smackdown Women’s Championship. When Alexa Bliss was drafted, it’s fair to say we were all a little surprised; not because she was green but more because perhaps she hadn’t reached her full potential in NXT. Well, she’s already jockeying for the belt on Smackdown and someone must’ve seen something in her for her to be doing it so soon. Whoever tat person was, they’re right.

It’s no secret that Smackdown is a much more enjoyable show; concise with better understanding of their roster and very clearly pre-planned storylines so Alexa Bliss should be thrilled about being one of the most exciting things about it. She plays her role so well, has mainstream appeal, spits a mean promo and has got it going on in the ring too. It may be too early to give her the belt but she’s basically ready for it. If and when that day comes, Smackdown is in for a treat. Hell, it could be next month.

THE BAD:

03. The Club

Remember how excited we all were for Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows joining the WWE as The Club? No? Good, it’s best you don’t. With The New Day’s grasp on the Raw Tag Team Championship until December at earliest, The Club have been treading water being beaten, mocked and delivering terrible comedy segments. This month they started a second feud with Enzo & Cass and got a solid win at Hell in a Cell. Then the next night Gallows got beaten in a dumb gimmick match whilst having a pumpkin on his head. Great.

02. TJ Perkins

Music cannot save you from a terrible, terrible character. TJ Perkins was nobody’s favourite guy in the Cruiserweight Classic but he was fine enough to put the belt on. Now, retroactively, I can almost let the boos as he was crowned slide. His backstage segments on Raw have been awful as he shoe-horns in random gaming terminology, falling for Kendrick’s fake injury at Hell in a Cell made him look like a chump and on the following night’s Raw he almost killed himself due to a botch over the top-rope. It’s all gone horribly wrong and taking the belt off TJP was the right choice.

01. Sasha Banks

sasha
Oh dear, how the mighty have fallen. Sasha has never really reached the heights we saw of her in NXT but since she returned from her first injury this year things have been questionable at best. Her character has been gutted; they refer to her as the “boss” but all I see is Bayley. Her entire lead into the Hell in a Cell was about making history, “being born to do this” and something about Eddie? Plus, her ring work has gotten sloppier and sloppier… hence injuries. Putting the belt on her before the event was totally confusing and I would guess Charlotte was not going to win the match originally but things have taken a turn for the worse with Sasha and she needs to be kept away from the main event, at least for now.

THE NXT:

03. Tye Dillinger & Bobby Roode

It was only a matter of time before Tye turned face really and NXT have embraced it well by originally pairing him with Bobby Roode and exciting the fans with the prospect of the “Glorious 10” taking the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic by storm. Then Bobby turned his back on Tye immediately in the face of Sanity, giving the Glorious One some heat (as much as NXT can offer such an astounding character) and the Perfect Ten a little sympathy. In all likelihood, Toronto will side with Bobby over Tye but the two should put on an excellent match that’ll help propel them into their next stories. And Bobby’s will surely be the NXT title…?

02. The Women’s Division

NXT’s dry period post-brand extension is definitely coming to an end. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is helping to bulk out that part of the show but also of note is the speed at which NXT is building up it’s next handful of female stars. Liv Morgan failed to topple Asuka, which is fine, and is being built up by her feud with Peyton and Billie. Nikki is so far the stand-out member of Sanity. Ember Moon is finding her footing slowly. We also have Mickie James returning to give Asuka something to do until a new star is ready. It all makes sense and it’s all come together pretty quickly.

01. Samoa Joe

joe
Samoa Joe holds his top spot for the most interesting guy in NXT this month by continuing his role of being the pissed off asshole that makes the life of those in power hell in pursuit of his NXT Championship. After taking Nakamura off TV, Joe spent a few weeks causing havoc by interrupting matches and unblinkingly facing off against Regal. Dan Matha, a guy that NXT fooled us into thinking they were legitimately building, made his debut and was totally destroyed by Joe in his warpath seeking his championship rematch and it was amazing. Now Shinsuke is back things are coming to a boiling point with the champion looking for revenge and playing into Joe’s hand. As always, NXT’s title picture is emotional, engaging and looks to make for one hell of a match.


You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw and Smackdown 18 hours after they’ve aired, how much he loves Carmella and, occasionally, candy.

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