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Friday, December 30, 2016

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EOTR Awards: WWE Feud Of The Year

By @TrueGodImmortal

Right before the year closes, we have to stop and take a look at the feuds of 2016 in WWE, and crown the feud of the year. There were a few lengthy feuds overall and some of them really showed and proved. Let's get into it.

Runner Ups

*AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose

-Minus the inclusion of James Ellsworth, I loved the entire feud. Their matches were all solid, and Styles brings out the best in Ambrose. Their TLC match was a runner up candidate for Match of The Year and their Backlash match was also quite solid. Styles and Ambrose kept Smackdown afloat the second half of the year.

*The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler

-This feud seemed like it would never end at one point and it should come as no surprise that these two familiar rivals went above and beyond this go round to make this work. Each match they had together this year was very good, but the feud hit the apex when Dolph won a Career vs Title match at No Mercy to capture the Intercontinental title. That match is a Match of The Year candidate and one of my personal favorites this year. Miz and Dolph brought out the best in each other this year, when we least expected it.

*John Cena vs AJ Styles

-For years, there have been many people who tried to have John Cena's number but couldn't defeat him. AJ Styles was different. The year that Cena would become a part timer would be the year that he had one of his best feuds of all time. Styles has earned his way to becoming one of the greatest opponents in Cena's career, giving him a really great match at Money In The Bank, then picking up a clean win over him at Summerslam in an instant classic. Styles and Cena would clash in a triple threat that included Dean Ambrose at No Mercy and Styles pinned Cena for a third time. On a strictly wrestling level, this feud was better than anything and deserves accolades as one of the better feuds of this modern era we are in. Kudos to both Styles and Cena.

Winner: Sasha Banks vs Charlotte

-I mean... who else could win this one? The feud that started around Wrestlemania 32 (included Becky Lynch then however) and lasted mostly all the way up until the end of the year is easily the pick for feud of the year. Since when in wrestling has a women's feud captivated audiences, headlined PPVs, main evented RAW, and more? Since when have two women gone out and stole the show regularly from the guys? In the wrestling business, it is very rare, so the fact that Sasha and Charlotte ended up taking the WWE by storm and really ramping up their feud after the brand split was official, showed you what they were capable of. They had amazing matches on RAW, all of which Sasha won, and had some solid PPV matches, all of which Charlotte won. They traded the Women's Title back and forth and made history in the process. This feud was the feud that we were waiting for in professional wrestling for women and because of that, it takes the crown as WWE Feud Of The Year. Hands down.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

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EOTR: Worst Royal Rumble Winners

By @TrueGodImmortal 

Today, we take a look at the worst of the worst for the Royal Rumble winners. Over the years, we've seen some really good outcomes for the Rumble, but what about the other side of the argument? What about the worst winners? There have been many of those, and today, we take a look at the worst Royal Rumble winners in WWF/WWE history.

*Hulk Hogan (1990)

-Let me just ask this right now: why the fuck was the WWF Champion involved in the actual Rumble match without the title on the line? Now, don't get me wrong, I have no issue with Hogan winning in 1991, but why this year? Why not Warrior winning to set up the big Hogan vs Warrior match? Why not even Mr. Perfect, who was in need of a big win and slightly on a roll? Hogan doesn't deserve to be a two time Rumble winner because he was already the Champion. A horrible decision and I'll put him on this list instead of Big John Studd and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, because as a much bigger star and WWF Champion, this was one of the most unnecessary wins.

*Bret Hart/Lex Luger (1994)

-This is more of an annoyance for how the scenario of two winners played out instead of the actual result. Why not book a triple threat? Yes, I know the triple threat wasn't really a big thing then, but why have both men win it? It made no sense and it only furthered the point that Lex was a failure in WWF who couldn't hack it in the main event and that Vince didn't have full faith in Bret either. Vince wanted Lex. Fans wanted Bret. He gave them both of those options but in the end, Bret won the title at Mania. Still stupid.

*Vince McMahon (1999)

-The Worst of the worst. Just so Austin wouldn't end up as a 4 time Rumble winner, the ego Vince had made him give himself the Rumble win for no reason at all. Vince wasn't necessarily a wrestler and didn't deserve this accolade, but when you run the company, I guess you can do what you want right? Regardless, this is the WORST of them all.

*Rey Mysterio (2006)

-If you're an Eddie Guerrero fan, you might feel two ways about this one. You might think this was a great win and uplifting for Eddie's best friend, but if you're like me, you feel like this was useless and only happened due to the death of Eddie. Rey wasn't World Title material and this was further proof. The underdog role was cool, but it just didn't work to me and him winning the Rumble over some other options showcased how lackluster the roster was at the time.

*Alberto Del Rio (2011)

-40 men. 40 men. And the man you choose to give this illustrious honor to happens to be Alberto Del Rio? Alright. No one was excited to see Del Rio win the Rumble and he wasn't really managing to get over much besides his entrance. Otherwise, Del Rio wasn't really the guy for this one, I'd have preferred to see CM Punk get this Rumble victory and go on to a Wrestlemania main event, as the concept of a Punk in a main event with the New Nexus by his side would have helped his momentum. Instead we got Del Rio winning and going on to face Edge. Just... no.

*Sheamus (2012)

-When the winner of the Rumble is met with a despondent response from the crowd, that shows you the WWE made the wrong decision. This happened when everyone thought Jericho should have won and rightfully so he should have. Sheamus wasn't the guy and this whole push for him as a face failed miserably after the Rumble win.

*John Cena (2013)

-When we speak of unnecessary... this is one. In 2008, Cena winning was fine. He was only 4 years into his main event run and returning from injury. 2013? 9 years into the main event run, a multi time WWE Champion, and a previous winner of the Rumble, Cena won to set up the also unnecessary Rock vs Cena 2. The reaction of the crowd when it's down to just Ryback, Cena, and Sheamus as the final 3 says it all. People were hoping for anyone but Cena. Of course we were disappointed. And the fans booed this as well.

*Batista (2014)

-The WWE has been ruining the Rumble with terrible winners for the last few years and this was yet another example of that. Batista was back after a 4 year absence. Why did he need to win the Rumble? He didn't. The fans cheered for Reigns to win JUST so Batista wouldn't and the boos rained down on Batista and forced WWE to change direction after Punk left. This might be the worst decision of them all honestly, as 9 years after winning his first Rumble, Batista won it again. For no damn reason. Vince is a super idiot.

*Roman Reigns (2015)

-I know. Reigns is a favorite to a small group of fans. However, he wasn't the right choice here. The fans weren't sold on him like they were Dean Ambrose or Daniel Bryan, two of the better options to win the Rumble. Neither man won and the fans weren't pleased and even the Rock couldn't save the ending, as fans booed the hell out of Reigns and Rock standing tall together. Another mistake by WWE in recent years.

*Triple H (2016)

-They made this Rumble for the title, put Lesnar in it, had Ambrose building momentum again, and the winner ends up as Triple H to set up a Reigns vs HHH title match that no one really wanted to see. It was done in poor taste and while HHH winning furthered the storyline, it wasn't the right call. Reigns vs HHH shouldn't have closed the show at Mania and HHH shouldn't have been champion. HHH wins his 2nd Rumble 14 years after winning his first. That's a huge problem. A huge problem. Hopefully WWE gets it right this year... but I doubt it.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

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EOTR Retrospective: 7 Ways The WWE Is Currently Dropping The Ball

By @TrueGodImmortal 

It isn't everyday that I take the time to write an article to shit on the WWE and their booking, instead I usually just do that via tweets. However, after watching the highlights of RAW and Smackdown this week and seeing what is on tap for the Royal Rumble, I think it's time to talk about where the WWE has dropped the bell in a number of ways. Now, for some of you, this might be an exciting time, as the Rumble is a few weeks away and always can be accounted for some surprise returns, but something tells me this will be disappointing. I'll get into that later of course, but for now, let's look at 7 ways that the WWE is dropping the ball currently.

*Lack of Roster Depth On Both Shows

-The two main feuds on RAW and Smackdown are boring rehashes and honestly uninspiring. Sure, Owens vs Reigns isn't a feud that's been done to death, but Reigns has been in the title picture for the last 2 years now, and he seems oddly primed to get another Universal Title run, which is a horrible idea. One would assume that Vince is going to the well again due to a lackluster depth on the roster. Cesaro is a singles star, but he's not competing in a solo role. Finn Balor isn't back yet, and WWE refuses to call up Samoa Joe just yet. Smackdown is no better either in terms of depth, as Ambrose and Styles have feuded for 4 months, and Cena and Styles have had 3 PPV main event type matches and unfortunately will fight once more at the Rumble. Ziggler has gotten tons of title shots, and this Enzo and Cass storyline has no involved Jinder Mahal randomly. Lack of depth is hurting the product. They have guys they can build up and some NXT guys ready to be called up, but it doesn't seem like the WWE is ready to move forward. Instead they are bringing stagnant. Which leads me to my next point....

*Royal Rumble Title Matches

-With the Rumble selling the PPV, and the PPV being in the 60,000 stadium Alamo Dome, you'd expect BIG marquee matches that could help sell out the venue. At this point, the Alamo Dome isn't close to being sold out and the reason why lies within the lackluster and lazy booking of the Title matches that could have been bigger and better. However, WWE completely dropped the ball and ruined the whole feel and anticipation of the event. Hypocritical fans aside, let's put it out there: Vince really booked Cena and Reigns to be in the two title matches of his 2nd/3rd most important PPV of the year thinking this would sell out the Alamo Dome. This is no worse than him putting HHH vs Reigns for Mania and doing 88,000 tickets, but claiming they got well over 100,000 to make a record. The Alamo Dome will not likely sell out. The rumors previously had Brock Lesnar vs Kevin Owens for the Universal Title, and The Undertaker vs AJ Styles for the WWE Title, two matches that are dream matches and could benefit the event itself. Somehow, Reigns gets another unnecessary title shot, with Jericho being put in a cage, and Cena returns after 2 months (and taking three losses to AJ) and automatically challenges for the WWE Title instead of entering the Rumble. Once this novelty of Cena's return wears off, you'll see why this is an issue. If you trying to sell out a 10,000 seat arena for a simple PPV, sure, Styles vs Cena for the belt and Reigns vs Owens for the belt might do it, but when we're talking 60,000 seats and excitement needed, this just isn't it. Taker vs AJ is a much more fresh and intriguing match up than the rehashed Cena vs Styles, which will be a good match, but also brings gear that the WWE is going to put the title back on Cena for absolutely nothing. Nothing about these matches make me want to see the Rumble PPV, and the Rumble match itself isn't much better. Which leads me to my next point....

*Goldberg And Brock Lesnar The Main Selling Point Of Rumble

-Look. It's 2016, about to be 2017. Your selling point of a fucking Royal Rumble should not be Goldberg. It shouldn't even be Brock Lesnar. The WWE is scared to give a shot to the talent who is there 24-7 busting their asses, and rely on these older stars to make something happen, but newsflash, no one wants to really see another Brock vs Goldberg match. They are both in the Rumble and will likely cross paths leading to another match, but to use the Rumble to further a needless story is just more evidence that the WWE has no idea what to do anymore. Brock is being wasted. Goldberg returning just to face off with Brock three times overall is just pointless and wastes his return. This is the current selling point of the Rumble match. No other entrants have even been announced yet, and the surprise entrants seem like they could disappoint of not exist at all to be honest. How could the WWE get this so wrong??? Well... because they're the WWE. Speaking of getting it so wrong....

*Not Properly Using Cruiserweights 

-Allow a bit of personal bias to show for me. The best Cruiserweight in this entire division is Cedric Alexander. The man is gifted beyond belief as an athlete and his promos have improved considerably since the indies. He's able to captivate fans every time that he steps out in the ring. And yet.... he's being used for a storyline with Alicia Fox, with whom he has no chemistry with at all. Smart. Noam Dar, another solid star in the division, is being used in the Alicia story as well. Why? Who thought this was a good idea? It's not. It's wasteful. Cedric deserves much better and Noam deserves better as well. The same could be said for Jack Gallagher, who is currently getting over, but in a pointless feud with Daivari, where there is no focus on getting to the Cruiserweight title. WWE brought back Brian Kendrick and turned Neville into a Cruiserweight and instantly they got over for the division, but they don't invest time into the other stars to really make people care. The heel turn of Neville is legit the only thing we've seen where they've given a Cruiserweight character some life. They change the ropes, they give them a title, but it really feels insignificant. The title changes are a bit too frequent and they all feel insignificant. Speaking of insignificant...

*Charlotte Remains Champion, Feuds With Bayley

-Anyone with a brain knows that the WWE wants to force both Charlotte and Bayley. It's obvious. Here's the issue: Sasha is the most over woman on the roster and the highest merch seller. Bayley is definitely good, but she doesn't have enough to really grow or be as versatile character wise or promo wise as Sasha. Charlotte has been in the title picture for a year and a half and she's not leaving anytime soon. It's boring now. Is Charlotte a solid heel? Sure, but she didn't really hit her stride until she feuded with Sasha. So far, these two interactions with Bayley have fell flat and while I'm sure they will have a decent match at the Rumble, it would have made more sense to give Sasha the feud win over Charlotte and begin her feud with Nia Jax with the belt, while using the Charlotte vs Bayley feud to catapult Bayley into the much wanted Bayley vs Sasha Wrestlemania Title match that doesn't seem as likely. The word is that Charlotte vs Bayley is set to continue til Mania and that would be a huge mistake if so. WWE has a women's revolution, yes, but they aren't executing it right. The same could be said for Smackdown actually, but that's more about lack of depth than the actual build and stories. Speaking of that depth again however...

*The RAW Tag Team Division

-Imagine having a team break the record for holding the tag team belts.... only to lose it to a makeshift team that doesn't REALLY work. Cesaro and Sheamus make no sense still as a team. Two singles wrestlers who were fighting to get a solo title opportunity, now are the tag champions of a division that just had a 483 day reign. The New Day didn't lose their titles to a debuting Revival team, Enzo and Cass, Gallows and Anderson, or any of the ACTUAL regular tag teams. No, they dropped the belts to Cesaro and Sheamus. I have no interest in Cesaro and Sheamus feuding with Enzo and Cass or even Gallows and Anderson, though I'm sure The Revival vs Cesaro and Sheamus would be solid to watch. However, we don't know if The Revival will debut on RAW or Smackdown. This leaves many confused and the RAW Tag team division in jeopardy somewhat, mostly due to the lack of roster depth once again. We need a strong tag division and actual tag teams being the forefront once again, not makeshift teams with two singles stars who deserve better.

*Brand Specific PPVs 

-We just witnessed a really solid episode of Smackdown with a title change, three total matches and a big return from Cena. This feels like a huge show, and it was. Imagine if once a month, each show did something like this on their respective brand, and on PPV, both brands are featured, like before. Wouldn't that be better? It would give fans more incentive to tune into PPVs and hopefully force the brands to give us fresher feuds. Two PPVs a month that really feels like nothing important just misses the mark and instead of just having one big episode of each show per month and one PPV that allows both brands to come together. This would be 10 times better than what we have.

Honestly? The WWE has so many areas they are currently dropping the ball on, but these 7 reasons are the most noticeable in the current WWE landscape. I could probably go on, but let's just end it here. The WWE has a lot of work to do to make the Wrestlemania season much better. Let's hope they do it.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Harlem Heat

By @TrueGodImmortal 

When the tandem of Booker T and Stevie Ray managed to make their way to WCW, they became one of the greatest, if not the greatest WCW Tag Team of all time. When we reflect back on the greatest black tag teams ever, for today, we have The New Day, and of course there were others like Doom with Ron Simmons and Butch Reed, but the greatest black tag team in history of this business to me is Harlem Heat. Comprised of two real life brothers who came from Houston, TX, they would begin their run as the hilariously titled "The Ebony Experience" on the smaller circuits in the Global Wrestling Federation. Previously going as The Huffman Brothers, the Ebony Experience piqued the interest of WCW after winning the GWF Tag Titles and in 1993, they would make their debuts in the WCW.

*WCW Legacy 
When they started out in WCW, no one really knew what to expect. They'd been labeled as Kole and Kane, and to be completely honest, they were originally put into the roles of those names for the most racist gimmick I could imagine (considering this was WCW, a deep south promotion, this was no surprise). The gimmick they originally were slated for? Harlem Heat was supposed to be a team of wrestling prisoners that were won in a card game by the already borderline racist redneck confederate style gimmick of Col. Robert Parker. They would come out in shackles and resemble slaves in a way, so that gimmick was nixed early on, but when you consider what they were intended to start as, it's a wonder that they made it this far in the first place.

When they debuted with Parker, it just didn't work and things were due to change. They became heels and seemed to have an edge about them, but still, Parker didn't fit the team. He felt more like an undercover slave owner telling his slaves to go do his bidding for him. As crazy as that may sound, imagine the image of two black wrestlers, formerly in shackles and chains on their way to the ring, now being some tough team led by a southern redneck white man. It just didn't fit. However, as a team, they were slowly coming into their own, and they began getting over as heels. This would lead to a necessary change for them, as they finally changed their names to Booker T and Stevie Ray. Along with that, came the biggest change that would alter their fate.

Sensational Sherri had worked in WWF previously with Rick Martel, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, and many more, but when she arrived to WCW, she was eventually put with Harlem Heat and it fit like a perfect marriage. Being dubbed as "Sister Sherri", she fit well with them and would lead them to a tag team title run, getting the victory over the Patriot and Marcus Alexander Bagwell, also known as Stars and Stripes. Once Harlem Heat had the tag team titles, they would go on to hold the belts 10 times over the course of their WCW career. In about 4-5 total years as a team, they had 10 WCW Tag Titles runs, and each run had its own significance, no matter how short it was. When we look back at WCW, there are some great teams for sure, but no WCW team is greater than Harlem Heat. Unlike The Road Warriors, The Steiners, The Nasty Boys, and other great teams in WCW, Harlem Heat never went elsewhere or wrestled in another big Federation as a team. Thus, they are the greatest WCW Tag Team. And, as a final note, they are responsible for one of the funniest moments in wrestling history, when Booker T mistakenly told Hulk Hogan in a promo that "we coming for you, nigga", which remains one of the best highlights of WCW and in wrestling from an unintentional comedy standpoint. For that, Harlem Heat is forever etched in history books even beyond their ring work.

*Top Feuds 
For the years they spent in WCW, Harlem Heat had some great feuds and some lackluster ones. I wouldn't consider the Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck feud significant, nor would their mini feud with Lex Luger and Sting for the titles count, but if I had to rank their feuds, I'd say they had 4 top feuds in the company, one with Public Enemy, one with The NWO/Outsiders, one with the Steiner Brothers, and their greatest one, with the Nasty Boys. While over that 5 year tenure in and out the tag title picture they had some really good moments, these 4 feuds were their best and most intense.

The Public Enemy feud is probably the least significant of them all, but still had some good action. The Outsiders feud was honestly weird, because Harlem Heat rarely got the upper hand, but it was really cool to see Harlem Heat get a run at a near main event tag team feud against two of the biggest stars in the company. I believe that the Harlem Heat/NWO feud really helped Booker make a transition into a star singles wise, and it was necessary for the team. However, the top two feuds remain to be their Steiners feud and the Nasty Boys feud. The matches from both feuds were back and forth and they traded the tag titles during the feuds, but what made each feud so great was that it felt as if the teams involved really hated each other. You might forget about these feuds in reflection, but make no mistake about it, the Steiners feud set the tag division on fire during 1996-1997 in the midst of NWO dominance, while the Nasty Boys feud was the true beginning of Harlem Heat's coming of age. I still look at The Nasty Boys vs Harlem Heat as one of the greatest tag team feuds of all time. Without question.

*The Failed Reunions
I'll keep it short here. 1999 saw a Harlem Heat reunion that was short lived and really strange, considering they won the tag titles and start off successful, but randomly decided to add a female bodybuilder named Midnight, which caused a breakup and the awkward teaming of Stevie Ray and Big T aka the former Ahmed Johnson, which led to the doomed Harlem Heat 2000. It almost messed up the entire legacy of the team, especially when Booker started feuding with them and lost the use of T in his name (2000 WCW was a weird, weird place). That would be a horrible reunion gone bad and the story really left a sour taste with most Harlem Heat fans.

As time and many years have gone by, Harlem Heat reunited in Booker's only promotion ROW for a short tag title run, but of course, neither man is still in their prime, so it's mostly just a nice nostalgia trip, and nothing substantial. Regardless, the reunions for Harlem Heat haven't proved to be fruitful and we've never seen them in WWE together as a team.

Though Harlem Heat isn't the greatest tag team of all time to me, they will always be the greatest WCW team ever and the best black tag team to wrestle in this business. They took a gimmick intended to degrade them, got over, and showed WCW that they were the real deal. They let their talent speak for them and they've built up a legacy that cannot be denied. Not bad for a team from 110th Street in Harlem (by way of Houston, TX of course).


Monday, December 26, 2016

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EOTR Match Of The Week: Bret Hart vs British Bulldog

By @Phranchize19

Welcome to our newest feature on EOTR, Match Of The Week, where we look back at a classic match or an underrated match in the WWF, WCW, NWA, WWE (it is different from WWF), or ECW. Today, we go back to December 1995 and take a look at Bret Hart vs British Bulldog at In Your House 5 for the WWF Championship. Let's get into it.

Bret Hart was arguably still the face of the company at this time however Vince was trying to gear up for a Shawn Michaels title run. With this in mind, Vince McMahon chose Hart to be the transitional champion to face Michaels at the Show of Shows, WrestleMania 12. Bret was not necessarily thrilled but being the company guy he was, he went along with it. Before we got to that point however, we got a Bret Hart vs British Bulldog match that many seem to forget. This match was going to be built around the fact that Bret had never beaten the British Bulldog in a one on one match and this was a great storyline to utilize to add heat to what was sure to be a great match.

British Bulldog had finally turned heel in the summer of 1995. His face run seemingly had run its course and he needed new life breathed into his career. Bulldog main evented In Your House 4 with Diesel, but with such an awful match, one had to wonder if Vince was going to pull the plug on a British Bulldog main event run. Thankfully he did not and we got this match. Bulldog had gone in this match not only with the best manager on his side in Jim Cornette, but his wife (Bret’s sister) also was there and clearly rooting for her husband. Another storyline weaved into this match.

The Match:
Bret and Bulldog have always had excellent chemistry. Two guys who worked hard at their craft and excelled in the ring. Hart bled profusely and at that time, WWF was still in their family oriented programming so this came as a bit of a shock. There are two lines of thinking to the bloody Bret Hart moments though: One, it put Bret as a resilient champion and two, it established Bulldog as a serious threat to the WWF title.

A lesser known fact about this match is that the winning maneuver was a pinfall move called La Magistral, which was suggested to Hart by none other than future Hall of Fame wrestler Chris Jericho, during a plane ride years before Jericho would arrive in the WWF.

These two put on an absolute classic with the twist and turns along with the great storytelling prior to the match and during the match. Most transitional champions don't put as much effort into matches due to them eventually losing, but Hart took pride in his work. Bulldog is arguably the most underrated wrestler ever and this is a match I would suggest if someone asked me about Bulldog. Bret of course retains, but this is another great Bulldog vs Bret match that you should check out if you haven't.

-C. Yates