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Podcast Episode 278: Payback 2017 Results

WWE seems to deliver when expectations are low. Suffice it to say that expectations for Payback were low. It was billed as a RAW exclusive show but featured multiple matches with SmackDown competitors. As its name more than implies, it was pretty much all rematches. But yet, the show delivered. With the exception of the House of Horrors match, everything left us wanting more on RAW and SmackDown Live.

The follow-up shows did their part to deliver, as well. The primary championships on each show are gone for the moment, but it’s given the midcard titles an opportunity to shine. And shine they have. Lots of fun feuds, ridiculous segments, and brutality went down in the last few days of WWE. Can’t ask for much more.

Featuring: Joshua Schlag (@thesteelcage / @schlizzag), ‘The Mayor of Reseda’ Derek (@cap_kaveman), and ‘Hot Podcast Garbage’ Sprung (@jasprung).

Music by The Black Furies, courtesy of Music Alley.

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Podcast Episode 277: Payback 2017 Preview

It’s official. Kalisto is garbage. Though he got a cheap victory on RAW, it was a short lived celebration as our hero Braun Strowman took out the trash. Heh. Get it?

Anyway, there’s a House of Horrors match this Sunday at Payback. Still don’t know what that means, but Jinder ran off with the belt so that at least answers one question.

Who’s excited? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

Featuring: Joshua Schlag (@thesteelcage / @schlizzag), ‘The Beast from the Middle East’ Darrell Johnson (@zazzumplop), ‘The Mayor of Reseda’ Derek (@cap_kaveman), and Psyniac (@rawispsyniac).

Music by The Black Furies, courtesy of Music Alley.

In case you want to see proof of Josh’s podcasting Beer Mile (and a half), here you go:

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The Steel Cage Standings – May 2016

Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the situations of the Top 10 and Bottom 3 superstars of the main roster and the Top 3 of NXT to boot. It’s been an interesting month in WWE which has featured two pay-per-view events in Extreme Rules and Payback and yet somehow not tonnes to review. The weekly shows have started to take a turn back to the quick-and-easy booking of the past but there’s still plenty of light in the darkness to look at. Here’s how the current WWE roster stacked up over May 2016.

THE GOOD:

10. Dolph Ziggler
ziggs
Alright, let’s get this out of the way. We got swerved. As a part of what appears to be their endless feud (seriously, this has been going on since the Raw after Mania), Ziggler challenged Corbin to a “technical wrestling match”, threw his head gear on… and kicked him in the nards. Come on. It was pretty God damn funny.

09. Roman Reigns

Right now, Reigns is moving back into a boring face role ready to steamroll through everyone on the roster and the crowd’s hopes and dreams whilst he’s at it starting with Seth at Summerslam but it’s actually been an interesting month for Roman. His feud with AJ was one that felt truly well written and complex, with the pair of them having similar but mistaken reasons to be furious with the other and the Samoan Badass adopted a slightly more “tweener” kind of role by exploding with anger at Styles every time he caught him in a compromising position (usually involving a chair and one or more downed Uce of his). And who can argue that their bouts, particularly the one at Extreme Rules, weren’t fun in their own right?

08. The Vaudevillians

I’ve been weary of the Vaudevillians on the main roster since day one, or even before that, and as much as some of it (such as the entrance) seems a little out of place on the main stage, I have to applaud their booking as a pair of no-nonsense assholes that keep raining on the New Day’s parade whenever the Tag Team Champions start crossing further into the obscure side. It’s really helping to give them heat as did the pair taking responsibility for Enzo’s hospital visit. I would never wish ill-will on anyone but at the very least English and Gotch made the best of a bad situation and used it to further the product. My only worry is where we go from here.

07. Natalya

nattie
Shout-out to Natalya this week; she’s one of the few women from the last generation of female WWE superstars not only still with the company but also who ever gave a damn to begin with. She clearly lives and breathes wrestling and I wouldn’t have at all been mad with her getting the belt of Charlotte for a short-run before her career winds down. The two put on a pretty interesting story with what they had and whilst it’s tarred with Ric and Bret and screw-job bullshit, looking purely at the in-ring stuff the two really click. This may be one of if not the last major feud of Natalya’s career and she won me over to the point of rooting for her.

06. Dean Ambrose

Even more “well, on the bright side” here with #LunaticFriend Dean Ambrose who is so over even a very average feud with Jericho couldn’t hurt him that much. Sure, they two absolutely kill it when they’re trading blows on the mic but their story was clunky and the Asylum Match type was the nail in the coffin that the WWE will never take Dean 100% seriously. Still, it managed to wake up the live audience and every single person watching on the WWE Network when Ambrose pulled out the thumb-tacks and successfully put Y2J through them. That, at the very least, was a cool moment. And of course he jumped in them himself too… because he’s Dean Ambrose AND HE’S CRAZY, MAGGLE!

05. Rusev

rooroo
Almost as if coming out of nowhere Rusev has returned to some semblance of the man he was before; perhaps with even more self-aware goofiness than previously which is always welcome. But let’s not get it twisted, that inverted Accolade thing? Brutal. Our prayers were answered at Extreme Rules when Kalisto finally faced off in a “Big Man/Little Man” match he couldn’t win and the US strap has come back to the Bulgarian Brute. With Lana back by his side and his tendency to call out anyone and everyone on Twitter, he’s already way more of an entertaining champ. With the upcoming Brand Extension, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the mid-card titles as Rusev running amok on either show by being the only mid-card champion will be really good for his staying power.

04. John Cena

It’s been said before but it says a lot of the mindset of the typical WWE fan these days that most of us were intrigued, nay excited to see the return of Big Match John, wondering where he would fit into the current product. The general consensus seemed to be chasing after the United States title which he had helped elevate last year (and yeah, look at it now) with a few of us expecting him to finally get that Triple Crown with Intercontinental gold (current day Miz vs Cena? Yes please). We didn’t expect what we got; Mr WWE and Mr TNA facing off for the first time and ending in a hellacious beatdown.

03. AJ Styles

club
Before we got that moment, I want to reiterate how good Styles standing up to Reigns was. AJ was never once presented as being heel; if anything out of the two of them, he was the more respectable one, initially hesitant to use what he had at his disposal to take down Roman. This, and his (more than slightly awkward) dismissal of Anderson and Gallows made his turn on the last Raw of May all the more unexpected. It seemed like the solid three minutes of Cena and AJ chants were the only reason to get them into the ring together and I can’t really complain about that because it was electric but Styles’ repeatedly attacking a downed Cena made that moment special for so many more reasons.

02. The Indie Darlings/Multi-Men

I’m going to take a page out of WWE’s book and throw everyone we love into just one section. To be honest, they’ve all paired together so much it’s hard to tear them apart again right now, for the sake of writing about them at least. Of course I’m talking about IC Champion The Miz and his contenders Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Owens; three of the men who have gone on to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match. Definitely a highlight of practically every show they’ve been put on, either comedically on athletically (definite show-stealer at Extreme Rules); it’s a shame there isn’t much more to them story-wise but at least you know when to stop fast-forwarding through Raw when you see this group start popping up.

01. Enzo Amore & Big Cass

enzo
On the one hand I, like many others, was surprised that the writers bothered to use Big Cass at all during Enzo’s brief time away after suffering a concussion at Payback but on the other hand… duh.  We all know Vince has a type but Colin Cassady fits the bill perfectly. If he wasn’t part of one of the best wrestling duos of all time and that nobody wants to see split, he’d be basically a guaranteed main eventer. Hey, he still could be.

But that doesn’t mean we’re ready to see Enzo thrown to the side. An outpouring of support occurred from the moment he was stretchered out of the arena until he returned several weeks later; so amped up that he threw his microphone and had to go running after it. Aside from being totally ridiculous, there’s something kind of genuine about both him and Cass and damn is it good to see them being this over on Raw. One of the best moments of every show they’re on, which says a lot since all they’ve been doing is running through the Dudley Boyz repeatedly. It’s very possible that they have a long-road to the top ahead and I for one look forward to that Daniel Bryan-esque moment when they finally win the big one.

THE BAD:

03. Seth Rollins

Controversial. I so badly wanted to put Crossfit Jesus on the Top 10 this month because his return was great, he looks amazing and it’s such a relief to have him back. But only two shows in and he’s already being booked poorly. It’s pretty clear Seth had to turn back heel because he would be getting cheered over a boring, bland babyface like Roman which is totally bullshit but following that up with him apparently still being a wuss is disappointing. My advice? If you want your heart broken, watch the WWE24 documentary on Rollins and realise how good of a babyface he would be and start drinking when you realise he’s not getting that belt back any time soon.

02. The Dudley Boyz

I’m all for old guys putting over young talent. In fact, that is explicitly what they should be for. But week after week after week kind of diminishes their ability to do that, especially when two veterans are being taken out by one guy. It’s a dangerous see-saw really and sad to say I think the Dudleyz are losing a lot of validity. They need to get some wins back to make their losses more meaningful.

01. Breezango

fandango
On the one hand, Tyler Breeze and Fandango should be a good pairing considering their characters and it makes use of two guys who weren’t doing anything (basically ever). On the other, they stink of laziness. At least commit to it, WWE. We can all laugh at how “Fabreeze” would be better but how about something that’s not just two things smashed together like a caveman desperately trying to start a fire. Similarly, the fade in and out mash-up of their two themes is terrible. Either go the whole hog or don’t do it at all I say.

THE NXT:

03. Gargano & Ciampa

Tomasso and Johnny Wrestling himself are back together as a tag team and personally I think it’s the best move. NXT has become a bit top-heavy with solo competitors recently especially with all the migrating TNA talent arriving or on it’s way. Within the last few weeks these two have picked up some wins before standing toe-to-toe with The Revival in an episode of NXT that sums up a lot of what I love about the show. It was a full story from start-to-finish with Gargano and Ciampa facing off with Dash and Dawson and then, shockingly, picking up a victory. I can’t be the only one excited to see where this leads.

02. Nia Jax

The line “I’m not like most girls” in her theme is a massive eye-roll BUT there’s plenty of truth to it. I absolutely love the push Nia Jax is getting because she’s like no one else in WWE right now. We’ve been teased a clash of titans with her and Asuka for some time and after she decimated Bailey she’s been built up enough to make up for a fun feud with the new NXT Women’s Champion. Will she win? Not bloody likely. But it’ll be another notch on her belt and another step into what could be a storied career.

01. Shinsuke Nakamura
nakamura
I mean, no duh. Nakamura claimed the #1 spot of NXT last month purely based on his in-ring main-event performance with Sami Zayn. In May he’s expertly been hitting other notes in NXT with matches against Elias Samson, Tye Dillinger and then teaming up with Austin Aries to take on Blake and Murphy. Now these former partners will be clashing at NXT TakeOver: The End and it’s been pretty fun; the two ribbing each other and Shinsuke delivering brilliant, unique one-line promos. The Greatest VS The King is strangely one of my most anticipated matches for the event. Soak it in because Nakamura won’t be in NXT long. The big leagues are calling.

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

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Podcast Episode 226: The Bullet Club vs The Uces

AJ Styles is not Roman Reign's uce.

AJ Styles is not Roman Reign’s uce.

On Sunday, Vince McMahon made ‘The New Era’ in WWE official by telling Stephanie and Shane to ‘figure it out’ as they were both put in charge of Monday Night Raw. So far, so good!

The Usos have solidly joined Roman Reigns against AJ and The Good Brothers. All of the titles have meaningful feuds (or are in the process of becoming meaningful). Even mid to low card feuds are at least entertaining. Fun time to be a wrestling fan! I promise I’ll get over the initial shock at some point…

Hosted by: ‘The Beast from the Middle East’ Darrell Johnson (@zazzumplop)

Featuring: Joshua Schlag (@thesteelcage / @schlizzag), ‘The Mayor of Reseda’ Derek (@cap_kaveman), and Bryan ‘Pipe Bomb’ Gregston (@guitarsalad).

Music by The Black Furies, courtesy of Music Alley.

This episode has been archived. We’ll be glad to provide it on demand – just send us an email and let us know which episode number you are looking for… OR for instant access to our full archives, become a Patreon supporter!

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Post image originally sourced from WWE.com.

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The Steel Cage Standings – April 2016

Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the situations of the Top 10 and Bottom 3 superstars of the main roster and the Top 3 of NXT to boot. Today, I’ll be looking back on April 2016 which has been a really solid month for WWE overall. Sure, WrestleMania has already started to become forgettable but the episodes of Raw that have followed have all been above average and, sometimes, even good. Things are being shaken up in WWE and we have a fresh start. So let’s see how everybody got on.

THE GOOD:

10. The New Day

Compared to previous years, it has to be said that WrestleMania 32 suffered with having very few interesting entrances. That being said, The New Day probably would’ve outshone anything anyone else threw together because Kofi, Xavier and Big E greeted their adoring ‘Mania audience by climbing out of a falling cereal box dressed as Dragon Ball’s Saiyans. That’s the kind of nutty that can only happen in wrestling and can only be the work of The New Day. In the following weeks, the WWE have made what appears to be a conscious decision to beef up the tag team division with a tournament for the titles, thus adding yet more prestige to the belts that the Power of Positivity has clung onto for so long.

09. Charlotte Flair

charlotte

Speaking of prestige, let’s move onto some of the best serious stuff to come out of WrestleMania and that’s not only the most entertaining match of the night from Charlotte, Becky and Sasha but also the unveiling of the new WWE Women’s Title. Gone is the #ButterflyBelt and the term “diva” has all but disappeared with it. This placement on the Standings could just as easily be “the Women’s Division” because they all pulled their weight at ‘Mania, as did most of the girls in the pointless tag match and Charlotte’s next opponent Natalya. However, Charlotte Flair gets the extra point for being crowned the first ever Women’s Champion of this era and getting even more heat because of it.

08. Dean Ambrose

Ambrose is one of a few guys on this list that has made the most of a bad situation. His street-fight against Lesnar was one of ‘Mania’s most anticipated matches but failed to deliver for a variety of reasons. Gladly, WWE’s writers are making use of his skills by thrusting a mic (and potted plant) in his hands and sending him out there to mess with Jericho’s Highlight Reel. “The Ambrose Asylum” talk-show is the best use of that monikor and it gets #TheLunaticFriend further away from being Roman’s bro and more into his own story. He may not be in any title contention but Ambrose has stolen the spotlight with his subtle humour and what appears to be a gimmick of “oh, am I pissing you off? I didn’t realise. Oh well”.

07. Baron Corbin

baron

It’s become tradition for me to watch WrestleMania and Summerslam at home with friends and I distinctly remember a lot of confusion about the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: it’s placement on the card, it’s participants (where did Tatanka come from?!) and… wait, is that Baron Corbin?! Probably the biggest pop at my viewing party was Corbin scoring the win because it was so fresh, particularly compared to the rest of the results that night. Ziggler seems like a good fit for Baron’s first feud because he can make the guy look like a freight train. Corbin has really grown on me more and more, particularly in his final few weeks of NXT, and I’m interested to see how far he can go in WWE.

06. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens

On the go-home show for WWE Payback, they finally bothered to show a video package telling the story of Zayn and Owens. It was long overdue but it was great. Whatever the case we’re finally getting Generico VS Steen on the main-roster. Sure, it’s not at ‘Mania but at least the WWE realised this was the right direction and right feud to go with once the Intercontinental Championship was out of the picture. And who’s to say this is where it ends? Chances are we’ll get these guys clashing at The Grandest Stage of Them All next year. After all, “we’re destined to do this forever.”

05. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows

anderson

Well, this was a surprise. WrestleMania season was already pretty high with debuts with Styles at Rumble, Zayn appearing a few weeks after Fast Lane, Corbin at the show itself and then Apollo, The Vaudevillains and Enzo & Cass the following night. This is why we didn’t expect to see another pair of newcomers the following week when Anderson and Gallows appeared from nowhere and decimated Uce 1 and Uce 2. They definitely know how to carry themselves and there’s an air of danger wherever they go, which is great because they’re intent on keeping their friendship with super-over babyface AJ Styles intact. As JBL would yell “black helicopters, Maggle!” .This is an interesting storyline and I welcome it.

04. Shane McMahon

He’s not going to do it. Yes, he is. No, he’s not. Yes! No way! Etcetera. Yeah, what a moment at WrestleMania that will live on forever. Let’s just pretend the match didn’t end the way it did. It almost seems like the reigns were given to a different set of drivers the night after ‘Mania and they stubbornly went with their preferred direction. Every week since the pay-per-view Shane has been in control of Raw despite losing to The Undertaker and he’s done a damn good job of it in kayfabe. Out of kayfabe, he’s hugely entertaining and knows how to wake the crowd up. A breath of fresh air.

03. Cesaro

cesaro

He’s baaaaaack. And he’s… James Bond? The Swiss Superman gimmick has evolved into something patently absurd, in the best possible way. Cesaro returned to Raw in the main event competing handily for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Gladly, even though he missed out, WWE finally seem to be cashing in on how just how popular Cesaro is by giving him a new entrance and a feud with the new Intercontinental Champion, The Miz. He’s returned to being the badass “Professional” and even taken a few moments to be hilarious by teaming up with The New Day. Back into the Cesaro Section we go, hopefully this time for good.

02. Enzo Amore & Big Cass

Perhaps the most long-awaited NXT to main roster debut of all time has finally occurred and it’s the duo of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Gladly, they didn’t miss a beat. Every week Enzo has delivered an absolute classic of a promo to whichever “coupla’ haters” they have stood toe-to-toe with before and during the tag team tournament. And the best part is the crowd has been there with them every damn time. With the WWE putting the finals in the hands of two new teams, the future is bright. Ohhhh, Enzo Amore…. Ohhhh, Enzo Amore….

01. AJ Styles

styles

“They don’t want none. That means they want some. Double negatives. I’m a redneck.” Those are the lyrics to Styles’ music, right? What a sigh of relief and great way to revitalise the product. After losing to Jericho in Dallas, the wrestling world let out a giant grumble of displeasure. However, with Shane inexplicably in control of Monday Night Raw, Styles was given the chance to become #1 Contender and won. Face VS sort-of-tweener Face makes for an interesting proposition, especially because one is much loved by “the internet fans” and one represents Vince’s boring standards.

Add in Gallows and Anderson the next week and you’ve got a recipe for intrigue. Sure, AJ is not going to come away with the belt but at least it looks like they want to keep him relevant. Whatever happens, he’s going to have a storyline coming out of Payback and, better yet, getting so close to the title will make him look like a viable champion. He’s surprised me on the microphone, he’s been as solid as to be expected in the ring and he’s over as all hell.

THE BAD:

03. The Wyatt Family

Oh dear. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn and that sums up a number of things coming out of WrestleMania. It was hardly the most ground-breaking show but I, myself, was enjoying it right up until the moment Rock and Cena made an even bigger joke out of the Wyatt Family than ever before. On the plus side, Rocky gave Bray his dues and it seemed that he and his Family were due to seemingly make a face-turn and do something a little different. But very quickly both he and Harper have been taken out by injury and I’m back to wondering why I even say the words “well, this could be interesting”.

02. Roman Reigns

Let’s get it straight: Roman was actually kind of intriguing on the Raw After Mania, playing into his true, heel self by judging his potential Payback opponents harshly. However, one week later he cut an identical promo and then following that he seems to be slowly morphing back into the boring superface. He’s not the guy, as evidenced by his match at WrestleMania which let every last breath of air out of the arena. At the very least, he’s not been the focus of every single show so that’s nice.

01. Kalisto

kalisto

United States Champion Kalisto and Ryback actually put on a pretty decent match on the WrestleMania pre-show but why it got relegated I don’t know. Although, on the other hand, the storyline going into it was absolutely… well, it was nothing. Now the two are set to clash again at WWE Payback and this time maybe we’ll see the belt move onto a singles competitor, even if it is a rather boring, entirely absent from Raw Ryback. Then, Kalisto’s bland luchador team can be fade into obscurity.

THE NXT:

03. American Alpha

NXT just has a way of putting together teams that click and American Alpha is the latest duo to ascend the mountain by beating The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championship. It’s crazy to think that Gable and Jordan first started their long story together last Summer because it’s been one hell of a ride and a logical one at that. Starting with resistance, then reliance and now recognition as the two walked away champions after great matches with not only Dash & Dawson but now former NXT stars Enzo & Cass.

02. Samoa Joe

I said last week that I was finally coming around to the idea of Samoa Joe in NXT and it seems like perfect timing. He and Bálor put on a hell of a match at NXT TakeOver Dallas. I’ve heard a lot of comments about how Joe getting accidentally busted open ruined the match due to stoppages but it just added another element of reality for me. I didn’t mind the stop and start nature at all because the two waited, their rage brewing. It was good fun. I also said I expected Finn to retain and was right… however, nobody saw Joe coming away with the Championship at a house show a few weeks later. There’s lots of questions here that need answering but it will make Joe all the easier to hate when he returns to NXT with the belt.

01. Shinsuke Nakamura

nakamura
Match of the year candidate ahoy. With all of us long-time wrestling fans losing our heads at Nakamura debuting at TakeOver Dallas with the perfect music, against a fantastic opponent and putting on an incredibly fun match, I don’t know if I really need to go into that much detail. However, what I will say is that I watched this match with a friend who is quite unfamiliar with wrestling and even he had to good things to say; admitting he enjoyed the match and thought Shinsuke was really fun. God knows where this goes next but every mention of Nakamura on NXT grabs my attention and every match he competes in runs away with my imagination.

You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw 18 hours after it’s aired, how much he loves Becky Lynch and, occasionally, candy.

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