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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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Minutes with the Mayor Ep. 3: Derek Does Dallas

MinutesWithTheMayor

This week on Minutes With The Mayor, it’s once again “Wrestlemania Storytime with Uncle Der Der”. This was a special edition of The Steel Cage podcast last year after Derek traveled to his first Wrestlemania with TSC crew. This time around, the Mayor discusses his adventures in Dallas from NXT to RAW after Mania and everything in between.

Hosted by: ‘The Mayor of Reseda’ Derek Montilla (@cap_kaveman

Music by: CFO$ (@CFOSofficial)

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Podcast Episode 222: WrestleMania Hangover

The Steel Cage Family in Dallas

The Steel Cage Family in Dallas

We came. We saw. We chanted. From NXT to RAW after Mania, we cap off our weekend with an exhausted edition of the weekly podcast. We debate our feelings after another year of attending the big weekend, give our favorite moments, and revel in the drunk ‘Uces’, Josh & Danny, at their absolute best.

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

Featuring: ‘The Mayor of Reseda’ Derek (@cap_kaveman), ‘A-Bomb’ Adam Hess (@ahess49), ‘The Uces’ Josh (@schlizzag) & Danny, Nick ‘From New York’ Connolly (@nick_connolly), & Sprung (@jasprung)

Music by The Black Furies, courtesy of Music Alley.

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Podcast Episode 221.5: WrestleMania Aftermath

Best. Entrance. Evaaaaaa.

Best. Entrance. Evaaaaaa.

Wrestlemania weekend has arrived! After watching the Grandaddy of them All, hear about all of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions on Wrestlemania 32, NXT, and more.

There will be complaints. Lots of them.

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

Featuring: ‘The Mayor of Reseda’ Derek (@cap_kaveman), ‘A-Bomb’ Adam Hess (@ahess49), Josh Schlag (@schlizzag), Nick ‘From New York’ Connolly (@nick_connolly), & Sprung (@jasprung)

Music by The Black Furies, courtesy of Music Alley.

SUBSCRIBE in iTunes: [Click here].

ADD US to your favorites on Stitcher: [Click here].

LISTEN via TuneIn Radio: [Click here].

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The Steel Cage Standings – March 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. This has a strange year in WWE so far. It feels like eons since the Royal Rumble and yet WrestleMania is now only days away as I write this. Whilst there’s been a lot to hate or, more likely if you’ve been watching the product for long enough, have absolutely no reaction to I’ll try to find some light in the bleakness that was March 2016 and the build for the WWE’s flagship show.

THE GOOD:

10. R-Truth/Goldust

You might have to give me a bit of lenience here. For the most part, the Goldust and R-Truth backstage segments have been pretty funny in my eyes. Just as it felt as though the well was running dry, the switch in roles freshened the whole thing up which is what it needed with weeks left before ‘Mania. It’s a shame this couldn’t manifest into something greater than a Battle Royal spot but at the same time perhaps that’s the perfect place for it. With WWE’s tag team division being so lacklustre right now, it’ll be nice to have a new team to look out for. I don’t expect greatness from “Golden Truth” but at least it’s something new.

09. Roman Reigns
reigns

It’s absolutely a case of “too little, too late” but I found myself agreeing with Derek on the podcast recently when he mentioned that Roman had actually been fun to watch the past few weeks. He’s still been cringeworthy and confusing but he’s had moments that played into the character he should’ve been since day one of breaking up from The Shield. The ramp entrance, lack of dumb battle jacket and “shoot first, ask questions later” thing is way more entertaining than pulling faces, saying “suckering succotash” and displaying no emotion the night after having the title taken away from him. I’m not at all ready for a face-Roman WWE Champion but in a vacuum he’s been at least “okay” this week.

08. Zack Ryder

What a strange decision that I’m totally okay with. With Neville sadly out of the Intercontinental Championship ladder match, Sin Cara was made his incredibly boring replacement. So Ryder was destined for the match all along! Whilst there’s nothing like a guarantee that Zack will take home the strap, it’ll be interesting to see if this is any kind of push for the Long Island Iced-Z and how it affects him as a solo performer as well as his NXT tag team, the Hype Bros. And if nothing else, he got one over on Jericho on Raw this week. Maybe Alex Riley should take the hint and stop moaning on Twitter and he might get booked again like Ryder…

07. AJ Styles
styles

AJ retains his position this month through consistently solid work and an intriguing future. It’s safe to say that the build towards his first WrestleMania match hasn’t exactly been ground-shaking but that’s mostly down to the fact we all expected something slightly different. Sure, another bout with Jericho isn’t going to be the most exciting thing in the world but they’ve done what they can with what they’ve been given and they should deliver something strong. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to see AJ Styles finally walk down the ramp at the Grandest Stage of Them All for the first time.

06. The New Day

The New Day have had another month of fans not being entirely sure where they’re going. With their flash-in-the-pan match with Y2AJ out of the way, WWE moved them full-speed into their feud with the League of Lads and it’s not been their most entertaining. However, I will say that their apparent “face turn” went about as well as could be expected. They were getting cheers anyway so it was mostly unnecessary beyond just being a generic demonstration of “now we want you to cheer for them” and whilst their promos haven’t always hit, I don’t think it’s because of this “change”. As I said last month, they’re still above and beyond more entertaining than the majority of the roster. And if they come out to Mega Ran’s “New Day Raps” at ‘Mania I will freak out.

05. Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch
sasha

I hate to keep packaging these two together but that’s just the way it is. Sadly, in recent weeks the build for the #ButterflyBelt match has been pretty generic and forgettable but the long-play for this feud has been the kind of thing I can really get behind. Now, we’re finally at a head and it’s safe to say that Banks VS Lynch VS Flair is one of my most looked-forward to fights of the entire weekend, especially if the rumours are true about a new Women’s Title the following night. It’s entirely possible that Sasha or Becky get to be the first new Women’s Champion and that excites me no end. If it’s the latter, you will hear me screaming in delight but both girls totally deserve it.

04. Sami Zayn

Last month I wrote “Sami Zayn is back in NXT and here to stay”. In this case, I’m happy to be wrong. Zayn has had an interesting history with the WWE; he’s been featured on Raw in a US Championship Open Challenge, he was briefly at Royal Rumble and now he’s made his true, blue debut. WWE aren’t handling him great and it feels as though most of the crowd don’t yet know why he’s so damn lovable. A few video packages is all it takes and I’d take a one-on-one with Owens whilst we’re at it but sadly that’s not going to be the case. As ever with WWE, I’m of the mindset that “once the clusterfuck clears, we’ll see what happens”.

03. Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
lesnar
Paul Heyman could probably talk me into selling my own kidneys for pogs. What a damn fine promo he had on our last stop before WrestleMania. He got the crowd giddy, made Ambrose sound like a million bucks and even seemed to get Lesnar pumped. I’m a little bit of a fan of that thing Brock does when Heyman talks so highly of him that he inadvertently smiles like a goon. He and Dean have had a great little build into this match with Brock attempting to swat Ambrose away like a fly who keeps coming back and looking like a God damn beast doing it. Sure, it’s not all been great. I’m still a little sour that Lesnar ignored the Wyatt Family until it was convenient (AKA Roadblock) but after that was all said and done and the Beast Incarnate and his Advocate could concentrate on the matters at hand… yeah, it’s been fun.

02. Kevin Owens

Owens was described on this week’s podcast as “the most consistent character” which pretty much sums up what I’ve been trying to say since not long after he arrived. This month was a culmination of a lot of that. With Owens such a dislikable prick, he’s been making enemies since day one in NXT and some of those have come back to bite him on the ass by challenging him for the Intercontinental Championship. KO, being who he is, found his way out of this by booking a triple threat for Number One Contendership – featuring totally different guys. In a cruel twist of fate, he now defends against six people who want to get their hands on his title. Furthermore, Owens and company told a great story on the go-home show of Raw with his refusal to tag into a six-man tag team match and eventually being abandoned. KO is a perfect heel and he’s made himself the kind of guy you want to see beaten at WrestleMania.

01. Dean Ambrose
ambrose

You all probably should’ve seen this coming. Hell, more importantly WWE should’ve seen this coming. Dean fuckin’ Ambrose is the most over guy in the company by a sizeable difference and his lead into Roadblock made that abundantly clear as did the event itself. Toronto became, as the saying goes, unglued when Dean appeared to snatch the Championship away from the tyrannical Triple H but it was all just a ruse. I think, for the most part, fans are resigned for now to the idea that Ambrose may never be “the guy” but if a strong gust of wind was to blow through WWE offices; spin some heads, potentially put someone else’s ideas to the forefront, they would take that huge pop at Roadblock and make money with it.

In the mean-time, Ambrose is locked in with Lesnar and has the backing of not just the fans but Terry Funk and Mick Foley who bestowed him with a few gifts for his no-holds barred street fight. The match itself, it seems, is the most looked forward to for Sunday night and it has a huge chance of stealing the show. It’s a combination of fun story-telling moments (c’mon, the weapon wagon?), a great spectacle (be that the stipulation or Mr Lesnar himself) and an underdog who is so much fun to cheer.

THE BAD:

03. Eva Marie

There’s a deep, cruel darkness to us all. Mine is laughing manically at the boos as I re-watch Eva Marie confidently striding out to the ring to save the thrown-together “Team Total Divas” from the equally nothing “Team B.A.D. and Blonde”. What a hysterically, unintentionally shit moment to top off a totally stupid match. Last year we had people rolling their eyes at pointless teams of women and now here we are again. Somethings never change. Including Eva Marie’s level of talent.

02. Kalisto VS Ryback

It’s BIG MAN vs LITTLE MAN because… reasons? Speaking of re-watching stupid moments, I’m hosting a WrestleMania viewing party this year and this match is so boring that for my predictions game all I could come up with was “will Kalisto’s belt fall off before the match starts”?

01. The Undertaker

I almost feel like I could come under some flack for this one but at the same time does anyone really understand the build for Shane VS Undertaker? Sure, it should be an interesting match and it has so many possible outcomes but the whole thing is a damn mess. No more is that evident than Undertaker’s appearances. After being announced by Vince as his son’s opponent, Taker made a visit to Raw to say one line, choke Vince and leave without questioning why he should fight in this match. Suddenly, his WrestleMania career is on the line. Alrighty. Whatever. Cell spots.

THE NXT:

03. Asuka

Scarcely has a woman been more associated with the word “badass” than Asuka. Her quite demeanour and kick-you-in-the-teeth-if-I-don’t-like-where-you’re-going-with-this attitude has made the NXT women’s division an exciting thing to watch. Whilst I’m not entirely sure about the story leading into her title match with Bayley, it’s hard not to argue the fact she’s earned it and the two polar opposite characters should make for an interesting clash at NXT TakeOver Dallas.

02. The Revival

Truth be told I’m more of a fan of the name “The Mechanics” but there’s at least some truth to Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder’s latest tag team name. No nonsense, no thrills and all punishing. They’re hardly the first duo you think of when you think of NXT’s boisterous and bright tag teams but that’s exactly the point. In the ring, they’re constantly improving and if their match at Roadblock with Enzo and Cass is anything to go by they could well be a strong cornerstone of WWE’s main roster tag team division in the future. Good for them, I say.

01. Samoa Joe
joe

I’ve an admission to make: this is all based on the final NXT show of the month. I wanted to like Samoa Joe in NXT, I really did and I think I still can but he’s not really “wowed” me for most of his tenure. He’s had some cool spots for sure but nothing really struck me until this week. His feud with Bálor is, like Asuka VS Bayley, just a matter of logic for me with very little feeling which is a shame. However, it all exploded and turned into something I really wanted to see as the two brawled through the barriers at the NXT arena and got into a real fight. Now, suddenly Joe seems like the badass he’s meant to be and I’m suddenly interested in seeing Finn try to topple him and retain the NXT Championship.


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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