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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: The Usos

By @AmeenKnows

I honestly was an adamant hater of The Usos when they were faces. They were boring and tiring. Their characters were stale and repetitive. Its like being forced to watch the same John Cena promo week after week. Then something changed. There was a click and the light went off and boom! Instant fire.

Our story starts with a tournament to name new Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. The Usos breezed through the first round, defeating the Ascension. The following week however, they would be defeated by American Alpha in 28 seconds. What would follow was a beat down bestowed upon AA by the enraged Usos and it was glorious, no Bobby Roode. For the first time, Jimmy and Jey had stood up for what they wanted. They didn't just accept defeat and embarrassment. They felt they were wronged and did something about it. They did the generic promo about being done trying to earn the respect of the fans, but it intrigued me because their characters before were all about fan acceptance.

Every speech and every promo, the fans this and fans that. It was sickening. So with American Alpha unable to compete in the finals of the tournament, a new number 1 Contender's match, if you will, was made. The Usos defeated the Hype Bros on the Backlash preshow for the right to face Heath Slater and Rhyno later that night. They would go on to lose that match.

A month later, they would go on to beat American Alpha to become number one contenders yet again for the Tag Team Titles at No Mercy and unfortunately came up short again. They competed in the Raw vs Smackdown Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination Match, being eliminated by Cesaro and Sheamus in the final. They lost two more opportunities to become SD Live Tag Team Champions before once again attacking American Alpha again. After the Elimination Chamber PPV, they attacked AA again which would lead to a match between both teams on March 14th. The Usos won that match and the subsequent rematch a week later to win the SD Live Tag Team Titles. Their reign was threatened by Breezango at Backlash this past Sunday, but they persevered and retained in a really fun. Their reign is currently at 63 days and counting, and will continue to grow.

To match their new attitude, the Usos abandoned the colorful shorts and war paint for a more modern look. One of the things I hated about them as a face was their matches carried the same formula. Hot Tag, Uso Crazy dive to the outside, Superkick and Uso Splash before the 3 count. This almost made the matches pointless to watch because you knew what you were getting. It made me wonder why they would limit their moveset when they have done more in previous matches. Now they work a more technical and aggressive style. Including something as basic as limb targeting has brought a more interesting component to their skillset. Now they're cocky and entitled douchebags and it couldn't work more perfectly for them. Their match with AA a week before Mania was a Mania worthy match. The crowd was hot for both teams and they delivered. It's the best match I've seen from them since their matches with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. I think eventually they will have to return to the Samoan heritage characters because that's the way things work in WWE, but for now I'm just going to sit back and enjoy what's being presented to me and it is great TV.


Monday, May 22, 2017

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Eyes On NXT: Takeover Chicago Review

By @TrueGodImmortal 

There was a big weekend of wrestling that went down in Chicago and I figured it's only fair that I talk about the better show between the two. There isn't much to speak of in terms of Backlash, as it was virtually a pointless PPV that ended beyond horribly, but the NXT show was more than enjoyable. Once again, NXT outperforms the main roster PPV and that's why I'm here today. I'm here for a brief review on the NXT Takeover Chicago show, just to give my thoughts on the match, and a rating for each match. Let's get into it.

*Roderick Strong vs Eric Young

-I liked this match and thought it was a solid opener to kick off the show. Roderick could be a big deal in NXT, with the right promotion and big enough push. The truth about Eric Young to me is that he's a solid good worker, but not able to be a true star in the WWE world. Roderick starts the match by catching Eric Young and SAnitY off guard and that sets the tone for this match.  Roderick and Eric would battle for 13 minutes, as Roderick would have to battle both Young and SAnitY to get a victory. After getting a huge backbreaker on Young, Strong picked up the victory and gets the pinfall. Surprisingly enough, Strong isn't beat down at the end by SAnitY, which was a shock.

Rating: 3 Stars Out Of 5 

*UK Championship Match 
Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate

-The match of the night and possibly the match of the year already. I wasn't even excited about this match because I hadn't paid much attention admittedly to either of these guys, but I was 100% in the wrong here. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate showed and proved that they are two amazing athletes and performers, and with Jim Ross on commentary, it just made the match even bigger and better. The crowd seemed firmly behind Dunne, as chants of "Bruiserweight" broke out from the Chicago crowd who managed to remain extremely locked in during the entire match. After a slightly forgotten tournament to crown the first UK Champion, this match will instantly put the world on notice and have the UK Title on watch by many. The back and forth action between Dunn and Bate during their 15 minute battle was crazy, and with every near fall, you thought the match was coming to a sure end. As Dunne set up for his Bitter End finisher, I expected the match to continue on for another 3 or 4 minutes and when the match ended, I was happy to see Dunne win, but also disappointed because I wanted to see them "fight forever". By the sound of the crowd, they wanted them to fight forever as well. A great classic.

Rating: 5 Stars Out of 5

*NXT Women's Championship Match 
Asuka vs Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross 

-I really hated that Ember Moon missed this match, but the reality is, she might not have made this match much better. While all three women are extremely talented, I feel that Ruby and Nikki lack that special feeling that the other top tier women's wrestlers such as Asuka, Charlotte, Sasha, and others give you. With that being said, they're still growing in the WWE system and can evolve into that. However, with this match, I thought they tried to cram as much in the 10 minute run time as possible and while some of it worked, a bit of it was a tad sloppy. I'd consider this to be the worst match of the night, but it had some decent moments throughout. Asuka falling on both of her opponents and getting the victory was a bit of a weaker ending, but it makes all three look strong without losing momentum, setting up for a possible feud with either Nikki or Ruby until Ember is healthy. Truth be told, it's more than time for Ember to take the title from Asuka, and the Asuka title run is as stale as can be now. She's still great, but we need Asuka on RAW or Smackdown ASAP.

Rating: 2 Stars Out Of 5

*NXT Championship Match 
Bobby Roode vs Hideo Itami 

-The fact remains that Itami is injury prone and in this match, he seemed like he was one wrong move away from living up to that once more. However, while many didn't like the match, I enjoyed it a lot. I thought the pace was slow to begin, but it picked up near the end and really became fun to watch. Itami setting up for the GTS always gets the crowd excited and Roode and his beautiful DDT finisher is also a crowd pleasing move. After 17 minutes of action, Roode turned the GTS into his DDT finisher, then held on and hit it once more to get the clean victory. Surprise surprise: Bobby Roode is the best booked champion in the entire WWE landscape. Roode, the heel in the feud, gets a completely clean victory, looking extremely strong in the process, and Itami doesn't look weak at all in the loss. That's great wrestling booking 101.

Rating: 3.5 Stars Out Of 5

*NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match 
DIY vs Authors of Pain

-When I finally got around to watching this match, I knew the ending. I knew the Authors of Pain retained the titles, I knew Ciampa turned on Gargano at the end, but I couldn't help but be drawn in by this match and what it represented. It represents the end of the DIY era in NXT and the end of my favorite tag team in the WWE. Both Gargano and Ciampa are great wrestlers solo and together, but I wasn't ready for them to break up. The narrative of this match all led to the inevitable and the foreshadowing essentially was everywhere in the match. From the effort that DIY put in to try and get the titles back, to the German Suplex off the ladder through another ladder, DIY gave AOP all they could handle and still came up short. After the great Super Collider from AOP once DIY fell from holding the belts, we saw them retain the titles and then leave the ring, as what seemed like the perfect send off for the DIY team to the main roster would commence. 20 minutes of great action proved that DIY was one of the best tag teams to ever come through NXT and this was a perfect way to end the show.

Rating: 4.5 Stars Out Of 5

After the tag title match, we watched the send off for DIY, but I wasn't aware of what was to come. Well, I was, because I knew the result, but it's almost like I couldn't see it coming. When Ciampa and Gargano embraced at the top of the ramp to cheers from the crowd and the graphic to end the show plays at the bottom, it looks as if the night is over. It's not. Ciampa says to Gargano "this is my moment", and proceeds to destroy him completely. This is what made the night for me. Yes, Dunne vs Bate was match of the night. Yes, DIY vs AOP was a great Ladder Match. Yes, I enjoyed Itami vs Roode. But this night was capped off by the greatest heel turn in quite some time, as Ciampa became the Psycho Killer and destroyed his former friend Gargano, signaling the next blood feud in NXT, and the arrival of both as future singles stars on the brand. From top to bottom, NXT Takeover Chicago was executed beautifully. There are some dry spots and one dry match, but overall, it was a very solid show, and miles ahead of WWE Backlash, a testament to their consistency and greatness. Long Live NXT.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

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EOTR Match Of The Week: Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose- Summerslam 2014

By @Phranchize19

Sometimes feuds can just come together without much help. Sometimes feuds write themselves. The story of the breakup of The Shield is one of them. Today, I wanted to take a look back at the huge match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam 2014, a monumental lumberjack match.

The Shield had finally disbanded with Seth Rollins turning on Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. With Ambrose and Reigns still feuding with The Authority, it was only a matter of time before each "remaining" member of The Shield got their chance at Rollins. Ambrose had the first shot and he wanted it bad. These two were supposed to have a match at Battleground, but WWE wisely saw that this was a money match and decided to push it to Summerslam (one of the smartest moves ever because this feud was red hot) by having Ambrose thrown out of the arena after attacking Rollins. In the weeks leading up to this match, these two would go back and forth.

The Match
The match starts off with a fist fight. Both men would be tossed outside only to be thrown back in by the lumberjacks. The action would then pick up and in a bizarre turn of events, both men ended up outside and into the crowd. The lumberjacks would attempt to bring Seth back into the ring, but Ambrose jumps on everyone in one of the better spots you'll see in a match. When these two get back into the ring, Ambrose takes control and hits the Curb Stomp on Seth. When it looks like Ambrose was going to win, Kane interferes, which brings Goldust in to read him the riot act which then ignites all the lumberjacks to get in the ring and fight. After the lumberjacks are cleared of the ring, Rollins uses the Money In The Bank briefcase to defeat Ambrose.

Phranchize Grade And Analysis 
I think is the most creative of all the lumberjack matches I've seen honestly. The action from start to finish was really solid and I enjoyed every minute of it. These two put on a great one.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: Eastern Conference Finals Preview- Cavs vs Celtics

By @TrueGodImmortal 

It seems as if we are one step closer to the inevitable. The NBA Finals is expected to be the same as it has been the last two years, and there's not much evidence to dispute that. Be that as it may, the Warriors and Cavs being on a crash course for their rubber match does have a few stops in the destination. For the Warriors, it's the slightly depleted Spurs team who have seem to lost a bit of their heart. For the Cavaliers, it's the tough Boston Celtics, who just don't seem like they are ready to go away. Now, most people would assume that the Celtics are a possible cakewalk for the Cavs, and while I don't necessarily disagree, one thing we've learned is to not count this Celtics team out. With Isaiah Thomas focused and ready to lead his team, what could be the outcome of this interesting Conference Finals battle? After 10 days of rest, LeBron, Kyrie, and Love gather their troops and head into Boston to begin the next chapter of the Eastern Conference playoff journey. Let's take a look at the Eastern Conference Finals.

*Cleveland Cavaliers 
-Much like the 2015 season, the Cavs are in the 2nd seed with an inferior team at the no. 1 spot. Now, this does nothing to discredit the Celtics at all. Isaiah Thomas is a star, Avery Bradley is a superb defender and can score in bursts, but the Cavs are and will be the best team in the Eastern Conference. Why? Because they're built to be that way. Let's he honest. There's no team in the East stacked like the Cavs, and the same could be said for the Warriors in the West. However, what makes the Cavs the best is not only having the best player in the game at the helm, but a great supporting cast as well. Delusional Cavs (Bron) fans will say Bron has no help as they usually do when he loses (this is why it's tough to talk basketball with them at times), but we all know Bron has a lot of help. Kyrie Irving is an amazing player. Kevin Love is a solid player who can provide you with 20 points and 10 rebounds on a regular basis. Tristan Thompson is an 80 million dollar rebounder. JR Smith is a bit streaky in terms of his shooting, but he's a solid option and a great shooter when he's on fire. Deron Williams isn't the great point guard he once was, BUT the truth is, a former All Star is one hell of an option for a backup point guard. The same could be said for Kyle Korver, one of the best shooters in the game and a former All Star in his own right.

So, with that being said, there's no other team in the East who even comes close to the Cavs in terms of roster. On paper, the Cavs blow everyone else except maybe one or two teams in the West out of the water. However, a big issue for the Cavs has been (and still is) their defense. They didn't exhibit the best defense against the Pacers nor the Raptors, but that's fine, they didn't need to much because they'd have enough scoring and ball movement to get the job done. In this series, this might be a cause for the Cavs to tighten up on defense, but with 10 days rest, how will this play out? Will the Cavs come in on the road renewed and easily take over? Or will they be rusty, slow to move the ball, and unfocused? If that happens, then this series might be more interesting than expected. If there's one team in the East that you don't want to be unfocused against, it would be this Celtics team. They've got a lot of heart, despite not being as stacked roster wise, so it's a true possibility that the Cavs could lose a game 1 or 2 on the road, BUT it's honestly not that likely. I think we will see the Cavs come out with a burst of energy with every game, and LeBron will be magnificent as he always is in the playoffs. If for some reason, Bron isn't 100% locked in or all the way there, then that could be trouble for the Cavs. However, the likelihood of that happening is very slim.

*Boston Celtics 
-The Celtics are a Cinderella story this year. With the small Isaiah Thomas as their leader, the Celtics have been a rather undersized team this year, but they won 53 games and clinched home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. With players like Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have some weapons. The issue with their weapons is consistency. The Celtics haven't been extremely consistent and after getting off to a rocky start early in the season, they eventually snatched the no. 1 spot from the Cavs, who at one point seemed to have it virtually locked up. Going into this series, for the Celtics, the reality is they have to play the greatest 48 minutes of basketball possible every game go even be able to compete. Can they? Sure they can, as we saw the Celtics take a home victory over the Cavs in the regular season. We also saw the Cavs destroy the Celtics at home too, so this could go either way.

If the Celtics could pull off the upset, they might be in a prime position going into the offseason. Surely, if the Celtics could get 1 or 2 games against the Cavs, or even push them to 7, adding Markelle Fultz in the draft and possibly Gordon Hayward in free agency would make them a much bigger threat to the Cavs next season, right? This is a young team, still learning the ropes, so to see them gel together and work so well is a testament to the great coaching of Brad Stevens. Do the Celtics realistically have a shot of winning this series? Not really, but I didn't think they would win over the Bulls or Wizards either, so I won't completely count them out.... it just seems unlikely.

I won't take up too much of your time with this one. While many people see the Cavs sweeping the Celtics, we've seen the Celtics won't die without a fight. I predict the Cavs in 5 hard fought games, possibly 6, but silently, I'm hoping for this series to go 7 games. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No. The Cavs are headed to their third straight Finals for a date with destiny... and the Warriors.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Edge and Christian

By @AmeenKnows 

This week I wanted to do something special considering today is my birthday. I wanted to shine a light on one of my favorite teams of all time. Originally, I was going to go with Jerishow, but after spending all day watching Edge's best career moments on the WWE Network, (WHICH YOU CAN ALSO WATCH FOR THE LOW LOW PRICE OF $9.99), this was a bit of a no brainer. We all know the highlights of these guys. They've been everywhere and done everything.

The first to make the jump was Edge who had gotten a tryout for WWF in 1996 and by 1998, he had finally made his TV re-debut with that terrible quiet loner gimmick before starting a feud with Gangrel. Then shortly thereafter, Christian made his debut siding with Gangrel and Edge would join them to become the Vampire-themed Brood stable. As cool as the entrance, music, blood baths and stuff were, the gimmick was extremely limited and breaking away from it led to us beginning one of the greatest tag team rivalries in WWE History. After breaking up The Brood, Gangrel formed The New Brood with The Hardy Boyz, which of course would lead to a feud with E&C. From there on they gave us the Terri Invitational Tournament which was a best of five series with the winning team acquiring the managerial services of Terri Runnels and $100,000. The Hardyz would go on to win the fifth and final match in the series at No Mercy in a very entertaining Ladder Match.

With The Hardyz turning face, it meant that they needed a natural heel foil and that would come from Edge and Christian. During this nearly 2 year long feud (on and off of course), both teams began to cement their status as rising stars. The Hardyz became entertaining through their wild and high-flying style. Edge and Chtistian meanwhile, broke through as heels by mocking other wrestlers and the crowds. The rivalry between the two teams was boosted with the arrival of The Dudley Boyz and they participated in the first ever Triangle Ladder Match at WrestleMania 2000 for the World Tag Team Titles, which E&C would go on to win. They held the belts until late May, dropping them to Too Cool, but won them back at the King of the Ring PPV. At SummerSlam, they successfully defended the titles in the first ever TLC match against their WrestleMania 2000 opponents. They traded the Tag Team Titles with The Hardyz for the rest of the year and by the end of 2000, they were already 5 Time World Tag Team Champions.

At the Royal Rumble in 2001, they dropped the titles back to the Dudley Boyz, then helped the Hardyz win the titles a few months later and beat them for the belts making E&C six time WWF World Tag Team Champions.  However they dropped the titles back to the Dudleys later that night. At WrestleMania 17, they defeated the Hardyz and Dudleyz again in TLC II for the World Tag Team Titles making them a record seven time champions.

Although they would become undone because of Christian's jealousy of Edge's King Of The Ring win, Edge & Christian really raised the bar and standard (along with the Hardyz and Dudleyz) for what tag team wrestling is. I have to admit that I severely underrated this team because I didn't like them, but that just means they did their job the right way.

The best move for them was breaking away from the Brood and becoming the Joker to the Hardyz' Batman. They were absolutely hated for making fun of fans in cities like Boston for the Red Sox's World Series failures, Indiana's Bob Knight incident and just making fun of rednecks in Alabama. Now when you hear people and their memories of those moments, they are funny and a part of what made them great. They always pushed the line of what they could get away with and it showed when they were paired up with Kurt Angle. Before teaming with E&C, Kurt was pretty much a no nonsense kind of guy. Next to those two, and eventually Rhyno, he's doing hilarious backstage segments just about every week and even after the group disbanded. However with good times came the bad. There was a time when Edge said Vince wanted to split them up, but heard them doing commentary antagonizing the wrestlers and decided instead to make them his World Tag Team Champions. So any negative these guys faced was turned into a positive. Not to mention, these guys could go in the ring. They made fun of you and your favorites before the match then beat them in said matches.

As well as they both worked together it was clear that they both were destined for bigger and better. So they used this team to launch themselves into midcard champions and eventually, each became World Champion. My favorite thing about them is their ring psychology. They know what works for them and what doesn't and they milk the good for everything it's worth. That's something a lot of guys can learn from. Its like "okay I've done this millions of times before but what way can I kind of freshen it up and make it look good?"
That's how you get the ladder spears, the con-chair-tos and Los Conquistadores (which showed what hilarious lengths they would go to in order to win back the tag team titles). It's no wonder why they are a record seven time WWF World Tag Team Champions. Edge and Christian earned their spot as one of the greatest teams ever, and you can clearly see why.


Monday, May 15, 2017

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Eyes On Extreme Rules: The Fatal 5 Way No. 1 Contender's Match

By @TrueGodImmortal 

I'm not excited at for WWE Extreme Rules. There's a chance I could be in attendance since it's in my hometown of Baltimore, BUT the likelihood of this is getting smaller by the day. The only thing that has me considering finding a way to go is this main event that was just announced for the PPV on Monday Night RAW. In what was a shocking, but somewhat necessary move, the WWE shifted focus from Braun vs Reigns (due to a Braun injury) to this newly found concern for a Universal Title shot. Forget the fact that both Seth and Finn asked for a shot the week prior and instead competed in a great TV match for a shot at the IC Title. Forget that. Conventional wisdom doesn't matter in the WWE really, it seems like the WWE had to regroup fast and they basically did the best they could.

However, when you take a look at the competitors in this match, who deserves the victory? This is a tale of 5 different stars put into one mega main event, and their victories would mean many extremely different things. So who deserves to face Brock Lesnar at likely, wait for it, Great Balls Of Fire? Let's take a look.

*Samoa Joe

-The biggest shock in this match honestly needs to win it. This is my first choice for winning the match. Do I think he will win? Not necessarily, but going with what the WWE needs in a marquee match, just the concept of Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar is enough to put asses in seats as they say. However, this is WWE and his chance of realistically winning is about 20%. He will likely lose and go on to fight Seth Rollins at that PPV, which would be a bit unnecessary and drags the feud on a bit too long, but once again this is WWE. If I had to choose however, I'd pick Samoa Joe as the guy I want to win most.

*Finn Balor

-Honestly, this is a really top pick to win. Granted, I'm not really expecting him to win this honestly for one reason: Bray Wyatt. The worst part of this entire match is that the winner is more than likely going to be Roman Reigns to set up the Brock vs Reigns rematch that we don't want. However, it's assumed that the winner of this match will go onto Great Balls of Fire to fight Brock, so it's very possible Finn gets a huge surprise win to fill in for Braun Strowman, who will be gone for about 6 months. Brock Lesnar vs Finn Balor is a huge matchup and Balor never lost the Universal Title, so he already has a claim to the rematch. If WWE wants to give the fans what they were asking for the night after Mania (since the fans were asking for Balor), then this is the route to go. Whether WWE pulls the trigger is really hard to tell.

*Seth Rollins 

-I honestly think the best overall performer on RAW is Seth and the truth of the matter is, there's no denying that he could pull off a big time matchup with Brock at a B show. However, here is the issue: Seth has had a triple threat and a one on one match already with Brock. I think he has about a 25% chance of winning this match (not going to go Scott Steiner with the math here), but when you look at the fact that Brock will likely be coming back as a monster face (probably), I think Seth being fed to Brock in a losing effort is not a good look for him. Plus, Samoa Joe vs Seth Rollins will likely continue after Extreme Rules. So, I don't see Seth winning, but another Brock vs Seth match could be fun.

*Roman Reigns 

-So..... let me just say this. No. Not a chance. I don't want Reigns to win at all. He doesn't need to win. He doesn't need another match with Brock nor does he need a title run. It's just NOT WORKING. However, this is WWE, so if the plan is to build to two huge matches and a feud for Brock in the summer, I expect them to make Reigns win, and have the title match end in something controversial at Great Balls Of Fire, leading to a huge rematch at SummerSlam with a No DQ stipulation. Unfortunately, since WWE is pretty stupid about booking Reigns the right way, I fully see Reigns winning this match, likely with a pin over Bray Wyatt if this does go how I expect it.

*Bray Wyatt

-The sleeper pick. Notice how Bray is riding a wave of momentum? Honestly, I think they will halt his one on one feud with Finn, if he is able to win this match and finally give us that Bray vs Brock match. However, that match just doesn't feel like it's necessary now. Bray has really a win over Orton in House of Horrors and he's been standing tall on RAW recently, but I just can't see him in the long run staying as a huge contender to the top title, even when it's regularly defended again. Bray could win the match, but Brock vs Bray is just not a match that really jumps out at me now after their momentum both went down. I don't see Bray winning, but all signs would point to him walking away with the victory if the WWE push system stays consistent.

So who wins? Logic would say Balor or even Joe, but WWE logic says Bray or Reigns (the two options I don't want to see). I'd love to see Balor vs Brock or Joe vs Brock, but something tells me WWE nor Brock sees the money in those matches, so we will likely see Roman Reigns win.... AGAIN. Unfortunately. Guess we'll see on June 4th.