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Ring Rap Audio: 04/21/15 – WWE Extreme Rules Preview and Predictions, Taz Leaves TNA, Daniel Bryan Removed from European Tour, The Briscoe Brothers, ROH War of the Worlds, Raw, Jericho Podcast w/ Stephanie McMahon, and more!

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WWE’s Extreme Rules is just a few days away.  Get the toys ready, because it’s gonna be a party!  But despite the jokes, how is the show shaping up?  How is the card looking on paper, and will it deliver?  And, how effective was Raw in building up this show?  Bill and Drew take a look.

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Triple H Makes Video Announcement Regarding the Return of Tough Enough, WWE Also Makes Press Release

In the short video posted below, Triple H announced today that casting for the newest season of “Tough Enough,” which will premier on June 23 at 8PM EST on USA, is now open.  He promised that the show has a “socially engaging and reimagined format.”  There will be ten men and five women chosen to compete, and one man and woman each will be chosen for a WWE contract.  Viewers of the show will be a key part of selecting the winner.

Prospective talents can submit a video through WWEToughEnough.com for their chance to be on the show.

There was also an accompanying press release from WWE hyping the return of the show, as noted below:

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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Coverage for 4/20/2015 – Extreme Rules Go-Home Show, Final Hype for John Cena vs. Rusev and Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton, Triple H Makes “Tough Enough” Announcement, and More

Six days from tonight it’s Extreme Rules, the one night of the year where WWE gets extreme.  We know that Rusev will challenge John Cena for the US Championship in a Russian chain match.  How will they put a final sell on that match?  Randy Orton will face Seth Rollins in a cage match, but the RKO is banned.  How many RKO’s will we see tonight?  Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus will have a Kiss me Arse match where the loser will kiss the winner’s ass.  Really?  Also, Triple H has a big announcement regarding the return of “Tough Enough” this year.  Will he name a head trainer? Is it going to be him?

Show Open, Live from Albany, NY at the Times Union Center

They open with a recap of the events of last week concerning Randy Orton and Seth Rollins.  Each man won their match, which enabled Rollins and Orton to establish stipulations for the title match at Extreme Rules.  Rollins picked that the RKO would be banned, and Orton selected a cage match stipulation.

Live in the arena, there is a cage hanging above the ring and it’s being lowered.  Cole reminds us of the stipulations in the title match as Randy Orton’s music hits.  He walks to the ring as Cole asks JBL who got the better end of the deal.  JBL says that Orton got the better part of the deal by taking away the Authority from Seth Rollins.   Booker doesn’t think Orton can pull it off against Rollins.  Orton gets in the cage and plays to the fans as Cole reminds us again of the RKO being banned and the Authority being unable to interfere.

Orton says that “for someone who prides themselves on being the smartest guy in the room” Rollins is a dumb bastard.  He says that Rollins made a mistake by banning the RKO.  He admits the RKO is not his greatest weapon.  He says his greatest weapon is inflicting pain on those who deserve  it, and Rollins is someone who deserves it.

Orton says he doesn’t need the RKO to win, because it would be too quick.  He say it will be slow, agonizing and painful.  He says that once the door is closed and all is secure, he will break Rollins’ jaw so the fans don’t have to listen to him run his mouth.  He says he will drag him to a corner and stick a boot so far in him that it won’t just knock the wind out of him  but might even break a rib.  He continues to explain the beating he will give Rollins, and says once it’s over, so will Rollins title reign.

Rollins’ music plays and he heads out with J&J Security in tow.   He says he doesn’t want to state the obvious, but  Orton has anger management issues.  Orton asks him if he just realizes this.  He says he doesn’t have an anger problem, he has a Seth Rollins problem.  He says he will do everything in his power to make that problem go away on Sunday.

Rollins says he wasn’t listening much because he was responding to emails, but sums up Orton’s promo.  “I’m a jerk, you’re gonna beat me up, and all these miserable losers ate it up.  Does that sum it up?”  He says he plays the game of human chess better than anyone and he’s on track to be the greatest WWE Champion of all time.  He says he can out maneuver anyone in the ring and out think anyone outside of the ring.  “All of this, I’m the best at it.”

He calls Orton one of the greatest superstars of all time and “a sure fire Hall of Famer. But as good as you are, I’m that much better.”  Rollins says he can make all the threats he wants, but Orton will not walk out champion, and that is a promise.  He tells Orton to get it out of his system.

Orton interrupts and repeats “get it all out of my system” a couple times.  He says that after commercial break, he will go backstage and RKO every son of a bitch he sees, then he will RKO Rollins by the end of the night.  “And that is a promise.”  Orton’s music plays and the announcers discuss what Orton just said.

A decent promo segment.  Rollins came off well as a confident champion who plays people rather than a vulnerable chicken shit champion.  Orton teasing to hit a bunch of RKO’s tonight is good as well, as fans love that move and there’s the tease of hitting Rollins with one by night’s end.

Cole hypes Triple H returning tonight to make a big announcement regarding Tough Enough.  Booker recounts his time on that show briefly, saying he knows nothing about the announcement because he’s not a part of the Authority.

Match #1 – Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper

Ambrose’s music hits and he heads to the ring for the first match.  Cole says it’s to avenge attacks that Harper has pulled off on Ambrose.  As Raw comes back, we get a recap of the attacks on Ambrose by Harper from both Wrestlemania and the following Smackdown.

Harper cuts a brief promo, saying that he doesn’t understand why Ambrose isn’t afraid of him, but after tonight he will be.  It’s a brawl early, with Ambrose hitting a flying sledge shot and throwing hands.  He tries to set up Dirty Deeds and end it quick, but Harper hits a superkick then throws some hands of his own.

Ambrose sends Harper to ringside then hits a suicide dive.  Ambrose runs Harper into the steps, then Harper sends Ambrose into the fans.  The fight spills out into the crowd then back to ringside.  Ambrose leaps off the barrier into a hand from Harper.  They battle to the stage, where Harper tries to lawn dart Ambrose into the light board.  Harper teases a powerbomb off the stage, but Ambrose counters.  Harper throws Ambrose off the stage but he lands safely.  Harper ducks backstage, and Ambrose plays to the fans.

Backstage, J&J Security makes sure the hall is clear for Rollins.  The PTP spring up and do the seal bark.  Titus says they’ll get out of there.  Rollins barks at a stagehand about it being funny.  Triple H shakes Rollins up some more and laughs.  Hunter tells him that he looks like he sees an RKO around every corner, and doesn’t want to see his champion sweat.

Rollins laughs it off.  He assures Triple H that he will handle Randy Orton on Sunday.  He says that he knows Hunter has been busy with Tough Enough, but he wants to know if he’s seen the situation with Kane.  He says he can’t worry about Orton and Kane.  Hunter says that he got the messages and saw the show, and they’ll talk when Kane arrives.  Rollins leans in and says that he needs more security.  Hunter tells him it’s one guy.  JBL says from the announce position that it’s one viper.

Nice guy Hunter here.  I wonder if they are planning to change his character direction, or if he’s just doing that tonight because of the Tough Enough announcements.

Match #2 – Lucha Dragons vs. New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston w/Xavier Woods)

Cole hypes that this match will determine who faces Tyson Kidd and Cesaro at Extreme Rules.  Back live, New Day is clapping their way to glory getting greeted with “New Day Sucks” chants.  The match starts with a chant off as Big E and Kalisto square off.

Kalisto tries his huracanrana but Big E catches him.  He lands on his feet.  They set it up again, and Kalisto uses a kick to keep him off balance.  Sin Cara gets the tag and hits a cross body for a one count.  Kidd and Cesaro watch on from backstage.  New Day starts to take over the offense, with Big E hitting a big clothesline on Sin Cara.  “New Day Sucks” chants ring out going to break.

Back live, Kofi is in control, hammering away on Cara.   Tag to Big E, and he keeps the offense going.  More “New Day Sucks” chants.  Off a backdrop, Cara gets the hot tag to Kalisto.  He fires up on offense, with a short huracanrana on Kofi for two.  Big E throws him to the ropes, but Kalisto hits a springboard enzugiri.  They hit simultaneous moonsaults off the ropes to the outside in an impressive spot.

The count is in effect.  Kofi and Sin Cara go to the ring, but Xavier Woods grabs Cara’s leg.  Kofi beats the count for the count-out win.  The Dragons sell at ringside as New Day celebrates.

Out of nowhere here comes Randy Orton.  He RKO’s Xavier and Kofi.  Big E thinks he wants some, but instead backs away from the ring.  Orton plays to the fans, holding up two fingers.

I would have preferred seeing Lucha Dragons vs. Kidd and Cesaro, as I think that offers a better match.  That said, I think this was a creative finish to this match, and they could always change things to put Lucha Dragons in a three way or something similar.  I do like the idea of fans waiting for Lucha Dragons to get their first title match though too.

After some sell for the Network, Cole tells us that we’re going to see the “first televised” Russian chain match on Sunday between Cena and Rusev.  He feeds it to a recap of the angle between Cena and Rusev after Cena defeated Bad News Barrett.  Cena will still issue another open challenge for the US Championship.  Rusev will be content to wait until Sunday for his rematch.

Up next, JBL says we’ll get a recap of the brutality that Big Show unleashed on Roman Reigns.

Back live, Cole sets up a video package that started on Smackdown.  They recap Roman Reigns’ promo from Raw on Monday where he “disrespected” the Big Show in the UK.  They set up the footage of the beating Show gave Roman, then recapped his promo on Smackdown where he followed it all up and described the beating, including chokeslamming him on the car.  Show says he chose not to so he could face Reigns in a last man standing match at Extreme Rules.

Cole hypes their match and describes the rules.  Booker says Big Show feels unstoppable right now and JBL says it might be impossible to keep the giant down.

Match #3 – Fandango vs. Curtis Axel

Fandango dances his way to the ring.  Axel mimics him in the ring before the bell rings.  Axel gets the early advantage, hitting a drop kick.  He rips his shirt off but Fandango rolls him up for a quick two.  He hits a drop kick, then follows it up with a nice twisting suplex.  He hits the leg drop to get the win.  The announcers recap it briefly, then they show Fandango playing to the crowd a bit.

Fandangomania is not nearly as hot as it once was.  London ate it up, but it seems to have passed its time at least in Albany

Cole and JBL hype that the “Miz” brand is up for grabs as Miz faces Damien Mizdow later.  They show Triple H walking backstage with a smile.  He puts his phone in his pocket.  Cole says he has an important announcement regarding Tough Enough, up next.

Tough Enough Announcement Segment:

Triple H comes to the ring as Cole describes the match that he had against Sting.  JBL says that the Attitude Era came to life with the NWO and DX appearing.  They discuss the announcement regarding Tough Enough, and Booker jokes that he’s still waiting on a text to see if is going back.

Hunter says that a year ago the Authority was at a crossroads and they were looking for the future of WWE.  He says that if you look at it a few weeks after “the greatest Wrestlemania ever,” fans would agree that Seth Rollins is that man.  That gets boos.  Hunter goes on to say that it’s time to find the next Seth Rollins, and says that Tough Enough returns on June 23.

He asks who hasn’t dreamed of being a WWE Superstar.  He asks who hasn’t closed their eyes and imagined the roar of the crowd and hearing their music hit.  He asks who hasn’t dreamed of standing in the ring in front of millions watching on TV and thousands watching live in the arena.  He asks who hasn’t imagined standing at Wrestlemania with the WWE Championship.  He says that the dream of being a WWE Superstar is better than any other dream.

He says that fans have their chance to turn that dream into reality and it starts now.  He pimps “WWEToughEnough.com” for submitting videos to be one of the ten men or five women who will compete.  One man and one woman will be chosen by WWE decision makers and the fans to receive contracts, making them WWE Superstars.  “Do you have what it takes?”  He challenges those who think they have what it takes to show the world that they are tough enough.

Kane’s music hits, and he walks out to the ring.  Cole and Booker talk about Kane’s mental state after last week.  Hunter tells Kane  that he’s a bit seasoned to be involved with Tough Enough.  Kane talks about the voicemails and messages he left for Hunter.  Hunter says he got them, but he was going to let Kane cool down.  Kane says he can’t deal with the constant disrespect from the man that he helped become champion.  He says that if Hunter calls Rollins the future then his decision becomes obvious.  “I’m giving you my two week notice.”  Hunter says they should go backstage and talk as men.

“Whoa, whoa whoa…not worth the investment, are you kidding me?”  Rollins emerges from backstage and says that if Kane wants to quit, let him.  Kane says that Rollins didn’t call him a loser when Kane had his hand wrapped around his throat last week.  Rollins taunts Kane, who gets in his face and yells that Rollins is a spoiled punk that has been handed everything and thinks he earned it.

Hunter attempts to break them up, but Kane keeps going.  He asks Rollins if he thinks that it would be any different if they recruited Dean Ambrose instead of Rollins.  Kane yells that they could have made El Torito champion if they wanted to.

Hunter breaks them up and screams “Enough!  This is not how we do business.”  Hunter says Kane did what was right and what was best for business.  Hunter says no one has been more loyal to the Authority than Kane.  “Which is why, in your steel cage match against Randy Orton at Extreme Rules, I am making Kane Guardian of the Gate.”  If anyone tries to get in or out, they will have to go through Kane.

Kane thanks Hunter and says he won’t let him down.  Rollins says this is ridiculous and asks why Kane is being rewarded.  Hunter asks what he just said, and Rollins repeats the stipulation.  He tells Rollins that he better get on the same page with Kane, really fast.  Rollins reluctantly shakes Kane’s hand, tosses the mic down and leaves.  Hunter pats Kane on the back then the pair leave.

I smell a swerve.  Kane looks to be the guy leaving the Authority, but instead he slams the door on Orton’s head.  Then we get a series of Kane vs. Orton matches that are tired and worn out.  Kane vs. Rollins has more possibilities and I think I might be able to get behind those things.  But I get worried that WWE will go the predictable road, and that could be a problem.

Cole hypes that we’ll hear from Roman Reigns about Big Show’s attack from last week’s Raw.  JBL says that Rusev will wait for his rematch for the US Championship on Sunday, but Cena will still have his open challenge tonight.  Cole hypes that we have a new #1 Contender for the Divas Championship.  He sends it to a recap of last week’s Battle Royale, with Paige getting the win.

They then go to the recap of Naomi beating down Paige in her post match interview.  Cole says Paige is out of action until further notice.  Naomi will take on Brie Bella, however, next.

Backstage, Kane and Rollins bicker some more.  Triple H steps in, and he tells Kane he has known him for 20 years.  He calls Kane one of the toughest men he has met, but he’s corporate now.  He tells Kane he is no longer hell fire and brimstone.  Kane says that he still is, and he will prove it.

Rollins asks Hunter if he sees what he’s saying now.  Hunter tells Rollins a lot of people made him champion, including the guy that walked away.  Hunter tells Rollins he will have the match he was scheduled to have last week, and will face Dolph Ziggler.  Hunter tells Rollins to show the world what he already knows.  Rollins says he will destroy Ziggler and the world will know what he’s about.  Rollins says he is no longer the future, he is the man.

Match #4 – Naomi vs. Brie Bella

Naomi is still using the “Funk is on a Roll” music but no dancing or smiling.  She cuts a picture in picture promo where she says she’s tired of waiting in line like a good girl, and says that she took Paige out of the equation last week.  She asks how many times she has to beat a Bella before she gets a title shot.  Naomi dominates the early going as Nikki tells us that she will face anyone that steps up.

Back from break, Naomi continues to dominate Brie, hammering away.  Nikki says she might be the most athletic diva on the roster, but she hasn’t won the title despite having chances.  Naomi continues the assault, kicking away at Brie.  Brie gets in the ropes but Naomi uses the whole five count before breaking.

Brie kicks Naomi, then both end up on their back.  She starts to fire up with a clothesline and a drop kick.  Running knee to the face leads into a missile drop kick for two.   Naomi throws a knee to the gut then hits a bulldog into the buckle.  Naomi tries a cross body but Brie rolls out of the way.  Brie gets two.

Naomi hits the Rear View and grabs the win.  She calls out Nikki and plays to the fans.  Nikki stands up with the title belt and holds it above her head.

The action itself wasn’t bad and told the story of Naomi’s heel turn appropriately.  However, no one knew what to do with this match.  Naomi turned heel last week, and the Bellas have been the heels of the division.  Did the Bellas turn?  Brie did her “Brie Mode!” yell and fans responded to it.  Confusing as hell.  Also, I was really hoping for some repackaging for Naomi with the heel turn, but she’s still got that Funk music and the butt-butt finisher.

Backstage, they show catering.  Heath Slater sits down with Erick Rowan, and says he will accept Cena’s open challenge.  He will be the new US Champion.  Rowan shakes his head and walks away.  “Hey, you’re walking away from the new US Champion!”  RKO through the table!! Orton picks up a bite of something then says “that makes three.”

We get another shot of the RKO on Slater, then Cole hypes that we’ll hear from Roman Reigns about Big Show’s attack, next.

In-Ring Segment:

Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring through the fans.  Cole sets up a recap of the attack on Reigns by Big Show last Monday.  Reigns says he doesn’t feel like talking, but he feels like fighting.  He calls out Big Show “right now” and paces in the ring.  Instead, Bo Dallas’s music hits and he comes to the stage.

He says he can’t help but notice anger in Reigns’ voice.  He makes a Yoda reference and says “anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.  We all know you have suffered.”  He recaps Reigns getting choke slammed and failing at Wrestlemania. “Roman, let’s face it, you’re kind of a bust.”

He calls Reigns “Outlaw Jack in Kevlar” and the Tim Tebow of WWE.  He says Reigns has gotten chance after chance and failed.  He says it doesn’t have to be that way, and Reigns could one day be champion.  “All you have to do is Bo Lieve!”  Reigns hits the Superman punch and spears him down.

Reigns grabs the mic again and says Show chooses not to fight tonight, but he will have no choice on Sunday.  He will bring the big fight to Big Show on Sunday, and you can “Bo Lieve” that.  Reigns plays to the fans as the announcers debate if Reigns can bring the fight to him.

I see more in Bo Dallas than this comedy jobber, which is a shame.  Also, this particular crowd didn’t seem to care much either way about Roman Reigns, which isn’t good either.

This show is dragging hard tonight.  It’s killing my interest in Extreme Rules right now.

They show Dolph Ziggler backstage getting ready.  The announcers say that we will get the match we were supposed to get last week when Rollins and Ziggler face off later.

Match #5 – Sheamus vs. Zack Ryder 

As Sheamus makes his entrance, they hype the “Kiss Me Arse” match between Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus on Sunday.  Zack Ryder, welcome to the gallows.

Sheamus gets a mic and asks the official to ring the bell.  Brogue kick right out of the box.  “That was quick!” He says he could pin Ryder, but Ryder deserves more than a five second match.  He kicks Ryder a few times and chokes him against the ropes as he continues his promo.  He says none of the fans would last more than 2 seconds with him.

Sheamus continues the abuse, saying there are too many pretenders in WWE.  “You don’t belong in my ring.  In fact, that’s a good idea.”  He tosses Ryder over the top.  Sheamus walks around saying that he’s giving them a chance to embrace real men and real stars.  He says the only one who looks stupid are the fans, “and this guy.”  He hits another Brogue Kick on Ryder and throws him in the ring.

He heels on the fans and asks where their New York spirit is, and if they’re not entertained.  He sets up one more Brogue Kick.  Ziggler charges the ring and hits Sheamus with the Zig Zag.  Sheamus sells on the ramp as Eden tells us that Sheamus won by DQ.  Ziggler demands that Sheamus come back and fight, but JBL says that Ziggler should bring lipstick for the match on Sunday.

If they did this with Ryder when he was hot, this would have worked great.  The fans didn’t care much, they didn’t react when they announced him from Long Island (admittedly, some of my upstate friends say they aren’t all that friendly with the city types), and they didn’t react to the taunting from Sheamus.  This was a good idea, but no one played along.

Cole hypes up that John Cena will come out for the US Championship Open Challenge, next.

Match #6 – John Cena (c) vs. Kane; WWE United States Championship

Cena’s music hits and he gets serenaded with “John Cena Sucks” as normal.  He cuts a promo, asking if Albany has something left in the tank for him.  He goes on, saying that this Sunday is Extreme Rules, where WWE gets extreme.  He addresses some of the boos in the crowd, saying that Rusev has some fans in the arena tonight.

Cena runs down the rules of the Russian Chain match.  He says the Rusev fans will dig this, and says that Rusev will beat him lifeless and stomp to all four corners to win back the US Championship and prove Wrestlemania was fluke.  He calls it a hell of a plan, but there’s one problem. “I’m John Cena.” For ten years, he has proven that he can’t win them all but when he gets knocked down, he gets back up.

He lays out his plan to beat Rusev on Sunday and says that he will prove Wrestlemania wasn’t a fluke, but a statement.  Cena calls the US Championship a symbol of excellence and a symbol of opportunity.  He says that Rusev has an opportunity to have a chain shoved up his ass.

“I know what ya’ll are thinking.  Does that mean I won’t defend the US Championship tonight?  Hell no, we’re gonna have  a fight up in here.”  He says he’s in a fighting mood, Albany is the place to be, and the John Cena Open Challenge starts now.  “You want some, come get some.”  Here comes Kane.

Cole recaps the earlier segment where Kane said he was still hell fire and brimstone.  Kane starts off with a lot of hard shots on Cena to start as the dueling chants get underway.  Seth Rollins watches on backstage on a monitor as Kane continues the assault.  Cena tries to start some offense, but Kane hits him with a side slam.

Kane keeps up the offense with whips to the corner.  The fight spills outside, where Kane throws him into the barricade.  They discuss Rusev wanting to wait til Sunday for the chain match. JBL says Rusev wants Cena to be beat up but still be the champion.  Kane keeps up the assault with his clubbing offense, with Rollins watching on with a smile.  A suplex gets Kane a two count.

The assault continues, with Kane driving knees into Cena’s midsection.  They ask how smart this is by Cena.  Cena hits a shoulder block, but Kane counters the second one.  He follows with a corner clothesline, but Cena counters the second one.  Cena hits his side slam and tells Kane he can’t see him.  Kane goozles Cena and hits the chokeslam for a near fall.

Kane yells at the official, then backs off and sets up for a tombstone.  Cena counters and hits the AA to retain the championship.  Cena plays to the fans as he backs up the ramp.  JBL hypes Rollins vs. Ziggler for later.

Sigh.  This wasn’t awful, but it takes you out of the moment when Cena gets dominated for several minutes and then beats Kane with one move.  And one thing notable is that is that Cena might have his fans and haters, but they make noise – they didn’t do that for Reigns.  Interesting that we have seen nothing of Rusev to this point.  Still time to hear from him, I suppose.

Backstage, Kane sells the AA and crosses paths with Triple H.  They just look at each other and Kane walks on.

Renee Young interviews The Miz.  She says that his brand is on the line tonight.  Miz calls himself the A-Lister and says that for Mizdow to challenge him for his brand is a joke.  He holds up a copy of The Marine and calls it his movie.  He says that he did his own stunts and went through boot camp to do it.  He says he will wake up tomorrow morning and celebrate the film’s release.  Renee Young interrupts him to go to Byron Saxton.

I don’t understand this match over a  brand.  Mizdow has nothing on the line, but Miz has everything to lose?  Very odd.

Saxton is with Cena.  He congratulates him for a successful title defense.  Cena says that Kane was certainly unexpected.  He says that on Sunday the Champ is….getting sideswiped by Rusev.  Rusev attacks him and locks him in the Accolade with a chain across Cena’s face.  Officials break it up and Cena is left laying.

Well, there’s the Rusev appearance.  It was a good attack with a smart use of the chain to sell the stipulation of the match.

Match #7 – The Miz vs. Damien Mizdow (w/Summer Rae)

They recap the angle between Miz and Mizdow to set this match up.  JBL quips that Furious 7 and Marine 4 combined to make over a billion.

Early on Miz gets caught in a backslide for two.  Miz comes back with a quick roll-up for two of his own.    Miz beats Mizdow down in the corner.  Miz hits a seated Mizdow with a kick for a two count.  Miz sets up his corner clothesline, but Mizdow catches him coming in with the neckbreaker/backbreaker combo.  Mizdow gets a near fall.

Mizdow sets up the Skull Crushing Finale but Miz rolls him through and grabs the tights for a two count.   Miz tries to set up the Skull Crushing Finale, but the action rolls over to the rope.  Summer Rae reaches up and rakes the eyes, and Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale for the win.

Miz grabs a mic and starts his catchphrase, but Randy Orton pops up and hits the RKO.  The fans pop big for that.  Orton plays to the fans as the announcers let us know that it’s four and Orton has one for Rollins yet.

The announcers run down the card, pointing out that Dean Ambrose will face Luke Harper in a street fight, and New Day will face Tyson Kidd and Cesaro for the tag titles on the Kickoff show.  Noteworthy is that JBL says that the Intercontinental Championship match will take place “if Daniel Bryan’s health permits.”  Cole hypes the main event, yet to come.

Back live, the announcers talk about WWE winning Cynopsis awards for excellence in social media and the Network.

Wyatt cut in.  He asks what it is that motivates him.  “But you, you’re different, like me.” He says that whoever it is can lift all the weight in the world but he can’t lift the weight of his personal failure.  He says about all this person can see is Wyatt’s face looking down at him until all of their hard work fades away, “and so will you my friend.  Behold, the new face of fear.”

Match #8 – Adam Rose (w/Rosebuds) vs. Ryback

As Ryback comes out, they show footage from his Tough Enough appearance in 2004.  JBL cuts in a “new face of…uh…”line.  Ryback attacks Rose out of the gate, shoulder blocking him in the corner.  Rose hits a missile drop kick and repeated forearm drops to get Ryback down.  He covers but Ryback throws him off.

Rose gets on Ryback’s back, and he turns it into an electric chair.  Ryback hits the Meathook, and it’s time to finish it.  Shellshocked puts Rose away.  The hot dog and the banana jump the ring, and Ryback attacks them.  Double Shellshocked to the food.

“What did the banana say to the hot dog?  Nothing, because their asses just got shellshocked!”  Ryback plays to the fans with Feed Me More chants.  Rosa crawls in the ring and tends to Adam Rose.

Backstage, Renee Young asks Kane about his roller coaster night.  She asks about Kane’s reaction to a tweet on social media where J&J Security tweeted about Kane needing Depends and Dentu-Creme.  Kane storms to the Authority’s office and confronts Rollins.  He tells Rollins to say it to his face.

Rollins apologizes and says he realizes that Kane has helped him get to the top.  He says the Orton situation has him worked up and he wishes Kane wouldn’t bring up the fact that he helped Rollins.  He tells Kane he’s sorry and he knows that Kane is the bigger man, literally and figuratively.  He dedicates his match against Ziggler to Kane tonight.  Rollins and J&J leave the room, and Randy Orton is in the hall watching them walk away.

Back live, they hype Rusev vs. Ryback for Smackdown.  Dolph Ziggler makes his entrance for the main event.

Match #9 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (w/J&J Security):

Ziggler makes his entrance as the announcers talk about Ziggler earlier attacking Sheamus.  They hype Ziggler’s match at Extreme Rules.  Rollins gets his entrance as they talk about his interactions with Kane throughout the night and the Orton promise from the top of the show.

Rollins throws strikes and Ziggler returns them.  Ziggler clotheslines Rollins over the top, and he tumbles out with him.  The fight spills around the ring and they brawl.  As Ziggler gets back in the ring, he takes a kick from Rollins.  Ziggler takes Rollins down for a two count, then stretches Rollins out.

Ziggler tries a drop kick, but Rollins catches him and slingshots him to the corner as we go to break.

Back live, Cole says that Rollins has dominated through the break.  Rollins splashes Ziggler in the corner then taunts the fans.  He drops a knee and covers for two.  Rollins continues to control the action, stomping away on Ziggler.  He hits a belly to back suplex for two as JBL talks about champions Rollins has a long way to go to be better than.  Booker proposes that 15 years from now, Rollins could be that “Futuristic” hall of famer.

Ziggler starts to mount some offense, hitting a corner splash.  Rollins cuts him off with a kick to the midsection, but Ziggler comes back with a DDT for a near fall.   Rollins comes back with a roll-up for two, then hits an enzugiri for a good near fall.  Both men sell.

Rollins sets up a buckle bomb, but Ziggler rolls through and counters for two.  He hits a superkick for a good near fall.  Mercury and Noble sell concern at ringside.  Sheamus runs out for a distraction and taunts Ziggler.  Rollins gets the buckle bomb, then hits an underhook DDT to get the win.

Rollins and J&J pose in the ring.  Rollins gets a mic and says he did what he said he would, and prove he’s the man.  “As for Randy Orton, your little RKO won’t save you.  I’ll prove once and for all…”

Hunter’s music interrupts and he makes his way to the ring with a purpose.  He takes the mic and says “the man who will defeat Randy Orton on Sunday, Seth Rollins.”  Hunter goes to speak but Rollins takes the mic back.  He says he wants to finish his thought.  “I just proved I’m the man by dismantling Dolph Ziggler.  He says that he will prove that this is his WWE by pinning Orton’s shoulders to the mat on Sunday, which will render Kane as the gatekeeper completely useless.

“And look, speaking of Kane, you’ve gotta…”  Here comes Kane again.  Triple H and J&J Security run up to stop Kane and Seth Rollins calls for the cage to come down.  Kane continues to try and get to the ring as the cage comes down.  The crowd starts cheering though.

Rollins turns around, and there’s Randy Orton in the cage with him.  They scrum briefly, and Rollins tries to escape.  With Rollins on the ropes, Orton pulls him down and hits him with the RKO out of mid air.  Hunter looks pissed and Kane laughs. Orton circles him and takes the belt for a moment.  He lays the belt across Rollins then poses for the fans.  The announcers recap one more time that the RKO will be banned on Sunday, then sell the Rock and Wrestling cartoon happening on the WWE Network as we close the show.

This didn’t feel too important as a main event, because everyone was looking for Orton to come out and hit the RKO on someone – hopefully Seth Rollins.  They got their wish and reacted appropriately to it, but it took away from the match.  I’d love to see them build Ziggler with a steady push and work a full program with Ziggler and Rollins – I think they have chemistry and could have a pretty good program over the title.  WWE needs to build some stars, and this could be a decent option.

I didn’t come away from tonight clamoring to see Extreme Rules.  I thought they did some good things to get to the pay per view.  Rusev vs. Cena got decent attention, as did the closing segment getting to Rollins vs. Orton.  But there was a lot of lackluster stuff that went on here too.  I’m not at all excited about New Day contending for the tag titles.  The Divas championship feels directionless.  And there’s a big glaring void that is Daniel Bryan’s health concerns and whether or not there will be an IC title match.

As always before a pay per view, Drew and I will break it down for you tomorrow night on Ring Rap Audio.  We’ll discuss the card and make our picks, and you can listen and tell us how wrong we are.  Comment below, visit our Facebook page, or hit us on Twitter @RingRap.  Ask us stuff about Raw, Extreme Rules, and all topics wrestling in general and we’ll touch on them during the show as well.  Thanks for reading along tonight.

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The WWE NXT Report: 04/08/15 – Highlights of WrestleMania 31 Weekend, Including the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Tournament

Good evening everyone!  It’s a very different kind of episode of NXT this evening, as we take a look back at some of the events of WrestleMania 31 weekend, including Axxess, including highlights of Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament.

Our show opens with passionate fans chanting, but it leads into a video package showing a mix of main roster and NXT talent interacting with fans, media, and everything in between.

Continue reading

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TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle Says WWE Didn’t Show Interest In Him Last Year

Kurt Angle did an interview with Sports Illustrated and discussed his “free agent” time period last year, stating that WWE didn’t even talk with him.

“Paul [Levesque] is in charge,” Angle said. “I found that out when I contacted Vince [McMahon]. I’ve always had a good relationship with Paul, so I didn’t consider that a problem. But he decided they had enough talent. For the Vince McMahon who I knew, enough was never enough. He always wanted more. I don’t know what was going on over there, but they even canceled our meeting. I never went to see them. They didn’t even sit me down and talk to me.

“It blew my mind. It was as if I was a nobody, that I wasn’t Kurt Angle. From a wrestling standpoint, they just weren’t interested. But TNA not only stepped up, they gave me everything I wanted – the dates, the money, and it’s no secret that I’ve went to rehab in the past, and they gave me time off. You talk about a company that’s loyal to you, and you want to be loyal back. So I didn’t pursue the WWE any further. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to stick with the people who want to take care of you. And [TNA president] Dixie Carter took care of me.”

You can read the entire interview at SI.com.

 

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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Coverage for 4/6/2015 – Extreme Rules Hype Begins, John Cena vs. Rusev III, Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Fallout of Brock Lesnar’s Rampage, and More

We begin the road to Extreme Rules, the April pay per view offering, tonight on Raw.  Rusev wants another shot at John Cena to try and reclaim his United States Championship.  Will that happen, and what will the stipulation be?  Seth Rollins will have Randy Orton breathing down his neck for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  How will Rollins try to stay one step ahead of the Viper?  Chris Jericho will be interviewing John Cena after tonight’s Raw broadcast as well, which could play out throughout the show.

All this and more tonight as we bring you live coverage of Raw right here on Ring-Rap.com.  Follow along with us on Twitter also @RingRap to discuss the show live.

Show Open, Live from Austin, TX:

After the standard intros, Byron Saxton welcomes us in joined by Booker T and JBL.  They talk about the chaos of last week, with Michael Cole convalescing at home yet.  JBL says this is Raw and we should expect chaos.  I believe in there they said Triple H and Stephanie are “on vacation” tonight.

They then recap Sting vs. Triple H from Wrestlemania, then Seth Rollins cashing in his MITB briefcase.  Back live, Big Show is guarding his Andre the Giant trophy while Seth Rollins and J&J Security, along with Kane, are in the ring applauding.  Rollins tries to start a promo but Austin boos him hard.  Big Show demands they show Rollins respect, but they boo harder.  Rollins says he would be jealous of himself too so it’s okay.

He sends well wishes to Stephanie and Triple H, who are on vacation.  “If anyone deserves a vacation, it’s those two.”  He calls Wrestlemania “one of the most incredible of all time.”  Austin tells him he sold out, but he says he thought they were over that.

Rollins says we’re a week removed from Mania and he’s the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  He says the biggest takeaway was not breaking attendance records or being the most watched Mania of all time, or the record 142 trends that night.  He says the biggest takeaway was “the Authority always wins.”

He says The Authority created moments all night.  He puts over how Triple H put the final nail in the coffin of WCW when he singlehandedly beat “that face painted freak” Sting.  He puts over how Big Show cemented his legacy by winning the Andre Battle Royale, then says “Kane…was there!”

Big Show says that he finally emerged from Andre the Giant’s shadow, though he never was there because he is the best giant of all time.  He says the roster is now under his shadow.  He says that we also got a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion in Seth Rollins.  Rollins says “the future is now” and says he is the greatest champion of all time.

Big Show says they should thank Rollins for giving an epic moment at Wrestlemania, one that will live forever on the WWE Network.  Rollins again tries to search for something that Kane did at Mania.  Kane says that the Authority was successful at Mania, because….”I hear voices…”

Randy Orton emerges to the stage, with a mic.    Orton congratulates Seth on getting his Wrestlemania moment.  He says that Rollins’ cash in doesn’t eliminate the fact that Orton hit him with the most spectacular RKO in Wrestlemania history.  “It doesn’t change the fact that a week ago, I beat you.”

Rollins mocks him, saying that Orton is a complainer and upset that it’s not all about him.  Orton says he’s not complaining.  He says it doesn’t change the fact that Orton won at Wrestlemania, and he deserves a chance to beat Rollins again, and this time for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  He says it will be best for business. “What do you say, Director of Operations?  Or do you have to call mommy and daddy and see if it’s okay.”

Kane gets indignant and says that he is still in charge.  He tells Orton that while he does have claim to a title match, there are other superstars that are worthy.  He tells Orton that he will compete in a triple threat match to determine Seth Rollins’ next challenger.  He says that Roman Reigns, Ryback, and Orton will face off to determine the new #1 Contender.

Kane goes on to say that the three men will also face singles competition tonight.  He tells Orton that he will have the first match, and it’s against Kane right now.

I was hoping we’d see that promo from Rollins, and we got it.  Sadly, I think the fact that Triple H and Stephanie are away, they will somehow be the focus of the show.  I do think it’s a plus that Michael Cole is not on TV so that he sells that F5 some more.  Stupid that he’d only take a week off.

Match #1 – Kane vs. Randy Orton:

Orton starts fast with some corner clotheslines and clubbing shots while seated on the buckle.   Kane lands a big uppercut that sends Orton to the floor going to break.

Back live, Kane and Orton exchange shots.  Kane delivers a big boot to get a two count, then drags Orton to the corner to throw some more shots.  After a corner splash, Kane hits a side slam.  Orton mounts a rally, hitting a drop kick.

JBL puts over Orton’s athleticism, saying he has lost more than many superstars have.  Booker says Orton will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  Orton sets up the elevated DDT, but Kane counters and ducks out to ringside.  Kane gets a chair and catches Orton in the gut with it.  That throws the match out.  Kane tries to continue the assault with a chokeslam in the ring on the chair.  Orton counters and teases an RKO, but Kane ducks out.  The announcers say that Orton got the win, but he’s damaged goods.

I can’t understand why they protected Kane here, but I guess they want to leave people wanting to see the RKO.  I thought the beatdown angle would put sympathy on Orton, but instead, Orton looked had recovered by the time he went for the RKO on the chair.

The announcers hype that Luke Harper will take on Ryback, and Roman Reigns will take on Big Show.

Back live, the announcers mention AJ’s retirement briefly.  They show her tweet with her boots about chasing the dream.

Backstage, Brad Maddox is talking to Kane, and Kane yells at him asking “who the hell he is.”  Rollins runs in and asks who the hell Kane is.  He says that Kane’s job is to protect him as the champion.  Rollins tells Kane he is sick of Kane not pulling his weight.  Kane tells him that it’s good business for Rollins to defend his championship against a viable contender.  Kane muses that Orton might be right that Rollins is scared of him.

Rollins yells at Kane that he isn’t scared, and is beginning to think that what is best for business is for Kane to step down as Director of Operations.  Rollins says that Triple H and Stephanie would agree.  Kane says they are on vacation at a private island and can’t be reached, so he is in charge of tonight’s show whether Rollins likes it or not.

Rollins runs back in and says that when Triple H and Stephanie return, Kane will have a lot to answer for.    Kane tells Rollins that his attitude is bordering on disgusting, and it’s best for business to put Rollins in a match, coming up after the break.

The announcers talk about the chaos of last week.  Saxton says that Cole is recovering at home with a bulging disc and is considering legal action.  JBL talks about his abdominal tear surgery, and Booker says that Lesnar should have been fired.  Saxton feeds it to a recap of the events of last week.

Seth Rollins makes his entrance, and he’s got the next match.

Match #2 – Seth Rollins (c, w/J&J Security) vs. Neville

Rollins rants in the ring about this match.  Saxton hype up a free month of April for WWE Network.  JBL notes that Extreme Rules is free to new subscribers in April.  Rollins is getting Neville as his opponent which gets a pretty good reaction.  Big “NXT” chants for Neville as Booker hypes this is “the big leagues with the WWE Champion.”

Rollins gets a mic and says he wasn’t expecting this and asks for the fans to welcome him.  He says that Neville is in the ring with the WWE Champion and asks if it feels good.  He offers the mic to Neville to cut a promo but yanks it back and says Neville might be nervous.  “I’ve been a rook too, and being in front of a live audience might make you nervous.  How about you sit this one out, pipsqueak.”

Neville attacks Rollins and lays him out with a spin kick.  The bell rings, and Neville turns Rollins inside out first.  Rollins returns the favor on a shoulder block then lays in some chops.  Rollins piefaces Neville then beats him down in the corner.  Rollins throws Neville to the opposite corner, but Neville floats over and cartwheels across the ring.  He lands a boot on Rollins and sends him to ringside with a headscissor.  Neville connects with a dive and charges back into the ring before J&J can get him.  Neville is in the ring as Rollins sells frustration at ringside going to commercial.

Back live, Rollins is controlling the action.  Rollins stands on his head in the ropes as JBL talks about how Neville showed up last week and is now facing Rollins. Neville starts a comeback with strikes and kicks.  Rollins counters with a hard whip to the corner and drops some knees.  JBL tells us where Triple H and Stephanie are vacationing.

Yup, lots of talk about Triple H and Stephanie.  They’re not on the show – SHUT UP!

Neville starts to pick up the pace with some rope running, but Rollins hits an enzugiri to slow him down.  Rollins continues to control the offense as Booker says he can make himself a marquee player whether he wins or loses.  Rollins drops some hands and pie faces Neville, taunting.

Rollins slows things down with a headlock.  Neville starts to fire some strikes but Rollins lands a belly to back.  Neville lands on his feet and starts throwing strikes.   Off the ropes, Neville lands a double axe and several kicks before Rollins turns him inside out with a clothesline for two.

Rollins is frustrated, and he rains in some hands and taunts with slaps to the face.  Neville starts firing back, but Rollins loads a buckle bomb.  Neville counters with a huracanrana into the corner, then goes up top for the Red Arrow.  J&J sticks their nose in, and Neville can’t set it up.

Rollins gets up and Neville floats over him.  Neville sets up another move, but Rollins counters him and hits a buckle bomb.  Rollins finishes him off with the Curb Stomp.  After the match, Rollins hits a second Curb Stomp and stands over him and taunts.  He tells Neville “you can’t touch me.” before leaving.  The announcers run some highlights, putting over some of Neville’s offense before narrating the finish.

I enjoyed this.  Rollins played the overconfident heel champion, and Neville got in some good offensive work that would help fans not familiar with him to become familiar and impressed by his offensive style.  He looked strong here.  Next week, in London, it could be a really fun crowd in front of Neville’s countrymen.  If WWE positions him well, Neville can come out of it looking like a real star.

Rollins glares from the ramp.  The announcers move on to sell the triple threat main event with Randy Orton, Ryback, and Roman Reigns.  JBL says that Rusev has invoked his rematch clause for Extreme Rules, but John Cena will continue to defend the title weekly until then in open challenges.  He’s up next.

Back live, the announcers congratulate The Rock for his part in the success of Fast 7.  John Cena’s music hits, and here he comes with that “Champ is here” T-shirt pointing at his dingaling.  Cena poses with the belt in the ring as Lilian Garcia introduces him.

Match #3 – John Cena (c) vs. Stardust; WWE United States Championship

Byron Saxton hypes that Cena will be on the Talk is Jericho live podcast after Raw.  Cena cuts a promo.  He says in Austin it’s WWE Day, and says the fans sound fired up.  He says “the champ is here” and says there are a group of fans happy that he beat Rusev for the title, and a group that wants to see someone walk the aisle, shut him up and take it away.

He says that the belt is a symbol of opportunity.  He says he gave the first John Cena Open Challenge for someone to have the chance “to go face to face with the man who runs the place” to see if they can get their name in the record books.  He talks about how Rusev wants his rematch but he wants it at Extreme Rules.

He asks where that leaves things for tonight.  “What about tonight?  What about us?  What about you?”  He says that Rusev wants to sit and relax until Extreme Rules, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a US Championship right now tonight in Austin, TX.

Cena cautions that anyone who steps up is merely getting an opportunity.  He tells whoever challenges him to step up or get stepped on.  “The John Cena US Challenge starts now, and if you want some, come get some.”  Stardust’s music hits and he makes his way to the ring for the match.  The fans chant “Cody” and he yells back “it’s Stardust!”

After some basic offense early, Cena teases an Alabama Slam.  Stardust slides through into a roll-up, but Cena quickly escapes and throws him to the ropes.  Stardust skins the cat, but Cena slams him.  Cena keeps up with the offense, throwing Stardust hard to the corner as JBL discusses Stardust’s family history with the US Championship.

Cena throws a long delay vertical suplex for two.  Cena continues to keep up the offense, controlling Stardust.  Stardust rolls out to ringside and plays up on the barrier to draw heat going to the break.

Back live, Cena tries to load the AA.  Stardust counters out, then follows with a blockbuster out of the corner for two.  Stardust poses at the apron and tries a move off the ropes but Cena counters with a powerbomb in a neat spot.   Cena loads the AA but Stardust lands sort of on his feet.  He follows with the Alabama Slam for two.

Stardust loads Cross Rhodes but Cena turn it into a slam for two.   Cena again tries to load the AA but Stardust rolls it through to a sunset flip.  Cena hits a side slam and tells Stardust he can’t see him, but Stardust kicks him in the head and lands a DDT for a near fall.

Stardust goes top rope and hits a moonsault for a near fall.  Stardust staggers to his feet and yells at Cena  Cena trips him coming off the ropes and locks on the STF.  Stardust gets to the ropes to break it, and Cena tries another move but gets caught in Cross Rhodes for a near fall.

Stardust yells about the count. Cena comes back with his springboard Stunner and the AA to get the win.  JBL puts him over as “big match John” and talks about his new move.  The announcers recap highlights of the match.  Cena poses in the ring with the belt.

I like this “open challenge” concept and the emphasis we’re seeing be put on the title.  This match was strong and the live crowd enjoyed it.  It’s a bit hard to buy in that Cena will lose given the title match is already made with Rusev, but fans did buy in to the near falls.

The announcers again talk about the triple threat main event.  Roman Reigns will face Big Show first though, and Ryback will face Luke Harper.  They show a shot of the Bellas making their way to the ring, and they’re next.

Match #4 – The Bella Twins vs. Paige and Naomi

The Bellas got the jobber entrance during commercial and play to the fans back live.  Paige comes to the ring first, then Naomi gets her entrance.  They recap the six-diva tag from last Monday, where the twins misfired and Naomi go the pin successfully.

Brie against Paige to start.  They tie up then back off at the ropes.   Another tie up leads to a standoff.  Paige comes back with some short armed clotheslines.  Nikki distracts Paige, which lets Brie send Paige to ringside with a shot.  Nikki takes advantage of the distraction and throws a clothesline outside the ring.  Paige beats the count back in, and Brie yelle “Brie mode!” before landing a running knee.

Brie stretches Paige out, then throws her down by her hair.  Nikki tags in and they hit a double slingshot suplex for Nikki to get a two count.  Nikki uses a leg lock to control Paige. Naomi leads a chant.  Paige rolls Nikki back into a cover but Nikki quickly kicks out.

Nikki drives Paige to the corner and lands some shots.  She tries a splash but Paige moves.  Paige crawls into the hot tag to Naomi, and drives Nikki face first to the corner.  Naomi hits a bit of a sloppy huracanrana then goes top rope.  Nikki ducks the top rope offense, but takes the Rear View.

Another miscommunication between Brie and Nikki.  Nikki gets laid out and Brie looks shocked.  Paige spears her and takes her out of the ring.  In the ring, Naomi hits her leg-scissor face plant to get the win.  Paige and Naomi celebrate their win.

This started out good, but it fell apart.  Naomi is not connecting with fans, and she is probably the challenger of the month to Nikki.

They run a pre-taped promo from the Prime Time Players.  They mock the New Day first, then say they’re moving on.  They duck and stand back up with cheesy shoulder pads.  They mock the Ascension and do their “millions of dollars” dance.

This was awful.  Sorry.

JBL hypes up Luke Harper vs. Ryback for next.

Match #5 – Luke Harper vs Ryback

As Harper comes out, they show the ladder spot between Ambrose and Harper at Wrestlemania, then highlights from their match on Smackdown where Harper powerbombed him through an announce table.  Saxton tells us Ambrose is not on Raw tonight.  Ryback gets his entrance to a decent reaction.

The announcers remind us that Ryback will also be in the main event later.  After a brief tie-up, Ryback throws some hands.  Harper takes him down though and throws a couple of wicked chops.  Harper throws an uppercut, but Ryback slams him.  Ryback teases the Meathook but Harper hits a superkick.

The fight spills outside where Ryback takes a couple clotheslines.   Harper teases tearing apart the announce table but doesn’t.  Back in the ring, Harper teases the discus clothesline but Ryback ducks it.  Harper comes back with his Black Hole Slam for a near fall.  Harper locks on a submission, then does the Gator Roll.

Harper charges, but Ryback moves.  Quickly, Ryback loads Shellshocked and picks up the victory.  Ryback plays to the fans as the announcers hype his opportunity later.

Ryback has typically been getting some good reactions in front of live crowds.  He had to work for it tonight with this crowd.

Backstage, Renee Young is with New Day.  She addresses the “New Day Sucks” chants.  Xavier says it hurts and Kofi says it’s disappointing.  He says people won’t find disappointment in their dancing, chanting, or clapping.  “We clap, or we snap.”

Big E talks about running into a kid at the airport asking for an autograph.  He says “of course I can buddy boy, because I clap.”  They clap and walk away.

I guess the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.  I see a heel turn in these guys future because of how they acknowledged the chants.

Match #6 – New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods, w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Lucha Dragons

New Day gets booed as they clap their way to the ring.  Lucha Dragons get a nice reaction.  The “New Day Sucks” chants start early, but are answered by “Lucha” chants.  Early on, Big E and Xavier control Sin Cara.  They show Kidd and Cesaro watching on from backstage.  Xavier covers for a near fall after a kick.  New Day continues to control the offense.

Big E sets up a body drop but Cara flips over and gets the hot tag.  He fires up on Big E and Xavier, hitting a beautiful springboard spin kick. Kofi hits him with a cheap kick and Woods smiles.  Kalisto tags out, but hits Kaliso Del Sol, then a dive onto Big E and Kofi at ringside.  Sin Cara hits a swanton to get the win.  The announcers narrate highlights as the Lucha Dragons celebrate.

This was fun and a way to get the Lucha Dragons some shine.  The arm pumping “lucha” chants feel a bit indy-riffic, but they were fine here.

They hype up Big Show vs. Roman Reigns, next.

Match #7 – Roman Reigns vs. Big Show

Reigns makes his entrance through the fans to a decent reaction, then plays to the crowd from the turnbuckle and the reaction is more mixed.  The announcers debate Reigns’ performance at Wrestlemania, calling it impressive.  Here comes Big Show to almost no reaction.  Show poses by the Andre trophy with a smug grin before getting in the ring.

Reigns throws some quick strikes to start, with Show countering.  Show chops him in the corner, and Reigns comes back with more strikes.  Show shoves a charging Reigns to the mat and yells at him to stay down.  He tells Reigns he can’t outpower him as he keeps up some plodding offense.

He throws Reigns halfway across the ring then smiles.    He picks Reigns up and clubs him down, then steps on him.  Show chokes Reigns on the bottom rope by standing on his back.

Reigns starts to fire in some strikes, but Show throws him over the top rope to the floor.  Show goes out after him and throws him to the barrier.  He sets up a run into the posts, but Reigns counters and shoves Show face first to the post.  Reigns follows up with his running apron kick, but Show knocks him back down with a spear going into break.

Back live, Big Show is controlling the action.  He continues the slow plodding offense on Reigns, pie facing him with his boot then playing to the fans.  Reigns starts to fire back with strikes and running clotheslines, but takes a side slam.  Show sets up a Vader Bomb for a two count.  Show argues with the official over the count.

Reigns crawls outside as the announcers talk about his work ethic.  Show hits a sliding kick that sends Reigns to the barrier.  Show goes out and throws him into it again for good measure.   Reigns barely beats the count, with some help from Big Show.

On the apron, Reigns starts throwing hands, then drapes Show over the ropes.  He hits the Superman Punch at the ropes, then two times in the ring.  On the third, Show goozles him for a choke slam.  Reigns escapes, runs  the ropes, and hits a spear to get the win.  JBL says the real opportunity comes next for him though.  They hype up the triple threat match main event.

There’s an hour of this show left – draining and daunting with how I feel right now (fighting an upset stomach).  I hope we hear from Reigns.  He hasn’t said a word since Wrestlemania.  There’s protecting a guy, then damaging him by continued silence.  As for Reigns, his masochistic ways continue on.  The fans were into his comeback though, and Show did a good job with the big man offense.

Backstage, Kane is on the phone.  He tells someone on the other end to tell Triple H and Stephanie that everything is under control.  Enter Summer Rae, Natalya, Cameron and Alicia Fox.  They play nice with him and tell him he looks stressed out.  He asks what they want.  They admit that Naomi has pinned the Divas champion (Nikki Bella) and is deserving of a match, but they want a battle royale to determine the real #1 contender.  He relents and books it for next week.

Sheamus is walking backstage.  He will be out  next to discuss what he did to Daniel Bryan on Smackdown.

Backstage, Reigns is walking.  Renee Young approaches him and asks if he has momentum coming out of his win over Big Show.  He says that Big Show couldn’t stop him, and wait to see what he does next.  He cocks his fist.

Sheamus comes to the ring.  They roll recaps of his appearance on Raw last week and his destruction of Daniel Bryan last week on Smackdown.  “Before my next victim comes to the ring, I want you to appreciate what a real man looks like.”  That gets a “you look stupid” chant.  He shushes the fans and says the grownup is speaking now.

He says he has always been a warrior and everyone else are insects.  He talks about how fans say he should pick on someone his own size, but says there is no one his own size.  He says the smaller guys give false hope.  He puts over his stats, saying he’s a 6′-6″ Celtic warrior and there aren’t many guys his size to pick on.

Before he can say more, Mark Henry’s music hits and he makes his way to the ring.

Match #8 – Sheamus vs. Mark Henry

A hometown pop for the Silsbee, TX boy as he makes his way to the ring.  Henry and Sheamus jaw at each other mid-ring, then Sheamus waves him off and leaves the ring.  Sheamus can be heard off mic saying he has no time for has-beens before Henry drags him back over the ropes with a toss.

Henry starts off with a series of strikes, then throws Sheamus out of the corner.  Sheamus lands a kick and some strikes of his own, then locks on a key lock to focus on Henry’s arm.  Henry powers Sheamus over the top rope to ringside, where Sheamus rips the announce position apart.

Henry goes out after him and gets rammed back first into the ring post.  He hits Henry with some of his “battern” shots but Henry counters.  Sheamus lands some knee shots on Henry as he re-enters the ring.    Henry scoops him for the World’s Strongest Slam but Sheamus slips out.

Sheamus clips Henry low, then hits the Brogue Kick to get the victory.  Sheamus poses as Booker says “Vikings love to fight.”  The announcers narrate highlights and JBL says if he were Dolph Ziggler he would stay retired and play on Twitter.

I actually kind of dig the idea of teaming Barrett and Sheamus.  Add Kidd and Cesaro, and that could be fun.

At the announce position, they recap the Rock/Rousey segment from Wrestlemania.  They focus on Stephanie slapping Rock, then Rock inviting Ronda Rousey to the ring.

Coming back,   The announcers hype Bryan and Ziggler vs. Sheamus and Barrett for Smackdown.

Wyatt cut in.  He starts “you know who you are.  I’m talking to you.”  He says the person’s entire life has revolved around dedication, but he cannot compete with the forces of nature.  “You most certainly cannot compete against the greatest power of them all, fear.”  He says it’s the fear of failure that drives him.  “Behold, the new face of fear.”  Cut out.

Who is this that Wyatt is calling out?  Is it Reigns?  I’m trying to think of a babyface without a partner going to Extreme Rules right now.  Both men need wins, but if you put Wyatt with Reigns, it would keep him busy for a bit.

Ryback is backstage with Renee Young.  He says everything is bigger in Texas, and he does big things in big places.  If he wins he goes on to face Seth Rollins for the championship.  “Tonight, Randy Orton and Roman Reigns find out why the Big Guy is hungry for the WWE Championship.”  He leads a brief “feed me more” chant.

Match #9 – The Miz vs. Damien Mizdow

Miz comes out first to not much reaction.  Saxton hypes that “we never though we would see this match” as Miz enters the ring.  We go to commercial.  Back live, they recap how Mizdow eliminated Miz at Wrestlemania.  Mizdow gets a big reaction when he comes out.

Miz ducks out immediately when the bell rings. Miz gets on the buckle and pulls off his sunglasses to boos.  Mizdow knocks him from the apron and the fight is on.  Mizdow kicks Miz as he re-enters the ring then beats him down in the corner.

Miz hits a big boot then rains in right hands.  He follows with a boot off the ropes then chokes Mizdow on the ropes.  Miz continues the beating, working Mizdow in the corner.   Mizdow fires back with back elbows in the corner then snaps off a suplex.

Miz rolls to the apron and Mizdow retrieves him.  He lands several knee shots and Miz rolls to ringside.  After a short chase, Miz takes control and lands several clubbing shots before playing to the crowd.  In the corner, Mizdow sets up an electric chair and drops Miz hard.

Mizdow lands a headbutt after saying “I still work for you.”  Mizdow lands the neckbreaker/back breaker combo and sets up the Skull Crushing Finale.  Miz counters out and tries for a low kick, but Mizdow catches him and rains in right hands.  Miz rolls Mizdow up and grabs a handful of tights to get the cheap win.  Miz escapes up the ramp before celebrating.

This fell flat and went on longer than it needed to.  As a result, it lacked heat.  If Miz would have cut a promo, it might have worked better.  He has a knack of making people want to see him get his ass beat.

Backstage, Renee Young interviews Randy Orton.  She says it would seem natural for him to face Seth Rollins for the title.  Orton says it’s true, but the Authority is making him jump through hoops.  He says he has nothing against Reigns or Ryback, but he will do what he does and that’s mow through all of the competition.  He says that he will go on to face Rollins and beat him like he beat him at Wrestlemania, and this time he will take the title with him.

Match #10 – Randy Orton vs. Ryback vs. Roman Reigns; Triple Threat Match to determine the #1 Contender to Seth Rollins’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Ryback and Orton get no televised entrance, and Reigns is finishing his when we get back live.  Ryback tries an early Shellshocked but Orton stops him.  Reigns gets some offense, then Ryback comes back with a few moves.  Reigns hits a big clothesline off the ropes, then fires up on Orton.

Orton lands some shots on Reigns then covers.  Ryback throws out Orton as The Authority makes their way to the stage.  In the ring, Ryback hits a powerslam on Reigns and loads the Meathook.  Orton enters the match and hits a couple clotheslines and a scoop slam on Ryback then on Reigns.  He plays to the fans.

Orton tries to set up the elevated DDT on Ryback, but Reigns clubs him and breaks it up.  Reigns goes to work on Ryback in teh corner with shots, but gets rolled up by Orton.  Reigns hits the Superman punch on Orton, but gets taken down by Ryback.  He loads the Meathook and delivers to Roman.  He calls for Shellshocked, but Orton counters and tries to set up the RKO.

Ryback hits a spinebuster,

The Authority makes their way down to the ring.  They stand over Ryback, but Reigns hits a dive on all of them.  Reigns picks up Rollins, but Show hits him with the WMD Punch.   He goozles Reigns and hits a second one, leaving him out on the ramp.

Back in the ring, Orton grabs Rollins.  He sets up the elevated DDT, but J&J Security jumps the ring.  Ryback takes them out with spinebusters, but he turns around into Orton waiting for the RKO.  Orton picks up the win.

Afterward, Seth Rollins hits Orton with the Curb Stomp, and grabs his title belt.  He poses over the falling Orton as the show winds down.  They show a shot of John Cena sitting down to talk with Chris Jericho on the Podcast is Jericho special happening now on WWE Network.

Back in the ring, Rollins poses and mugs for the camera as the show ends.

This main event was a bit forgettable.  The finish sequence was good though.  Ryback came off looking strong, but got distracted and hit with the RKO from an opportunistic Orton.  Everyone who didn’t go over got protected – Reigns was taken out by Show, and Ryback of course off the distraction.  Orton got to hit the RKO, which made the fans happy and it was true to character to have him strike at any time.

I’m fighting a stomach bug right now, and I don’t know if it is that or if this show was just a marathon.  Maybe a little of both.  It was laced with some good action, but some otherwise forgettable segments and moments as well that left me wanting.  They still have a couple weeks to build to Extreme Rules, so we’ll see how it goes – but I fear we might be heading to a quick post-Wrestlemania lull.

Be sure to join me and Drew tomorrow night as we record Ring Rap Audio where we discuss Raw, the news of the week, and all things pro wrestling.  Get your questions in via Twitter @RingRap or post them on Facebook (facebook.com/RingRap) and we’ll be sure to include them on the air.  Thanks for following my flu  bug around tonight.

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Ring Rap Audio: 03/31/15 – WWE WrestleMania 31 Review, The Raw After, Global Force Wrestling’s First TV Tapings, Tommaso Ciampa, WWE Conference Call, Hall of Fame, plus more!

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WrestleMania has come and gone, as has the Monday Night Raw after (equally notorious).  Now that the biggest moment of the year has come to a close, we can take a deep breath, and look at the culmination of all the major stories, and the start of new ones.  Bill and Drew sit down to hash out the best and worst of both WrestleMania and WWE Raw.

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WWE Raw Live Reaction and Results for 03/30/15 – WrestleMania 31 Fallout, Seth Rollins’s First Night as Champ, Reigns and Lesnar React, Cena, Bryan, Sting, Rock and Rousey, and more!

It’s the night after WrestleMania, and that usually means a pretty hot WWE Raw.  I’m excited.  Are you?

We have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion in Seth Rollins, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase last night to turn Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns into a Triple Threat match.  Lesnar didn’t get pinned.  Reigns got screwed out of his opportunity.  What will both men have to say?

Plus, we have two new champions – John Cena is our WWE United States Champion, and Daniel Bryan is our WWE Intercontinental Champion.  Who will be their first challengers?

Will Ronda Rousey make another appearance?  Will Stephanie McMahon call her and The Rock out?  Will Sting appear again?

Lots of questions as we head into one of the most anticipated episodes of WWE Raw of the year.  Join us starting at 8pm Eastern as we cover the show LIVE!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for our livestream, @RingRap!

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Afterthoughts for 03/30/15 – Seth Rollins Cashes In, The Undertaker Wins, Ronda Rousey Impresses, Daniel Bryan, Sting, Triple H, and More.

Another year, another WrestleMania.  It seems like everything that happens builds towards this moment, and in a way, it does.  We constantly analyze the landscape of WWE, looking for hints of things to come, and ways events play out, so they can ultimately lead to WrestleMania.

Last night, WWE presented the biggest show of the year on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.”  They pulled out all the stops and gave it their all.  Did they deliver?

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WWE “Wrestlemania 31″ Live Coverage Report for 3/29/2015 – Roman Reigns Challenges Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, John Cena vs. Rusev, Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker, and More

The moment has arrived.  WWE brings the show to the Grandest Stage of them All tonight as Wrestlemania 31 takes place live from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.  While we’ve had our misgivings about the build up to this show, the card holds some promise and could be a very solid show.  The show starts at 7PM EST, with a 2-hour kickoff show starting at 5PM EST.  We will not be covering the full pre-show.  The card shakes out as follows:

Pre-Show:

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, featuring Curtis Axel, Titus O’Neil, The Ascension, Big Show, Kane, Heath Slater, Goldust, Adam Rose, and more

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c, w/Natalya) vs. The Usos vs. New Day vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito); WWE Tag Team Championship in a Four-Way Match

Main Card:

Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. Stardust vs. R-Truth;  WWE Intercontinental Championship in a Ladder Match

The Bella Twins vs. AJ Lee and Paige

Seth Rollins (w/J&J Security) vs. Randy Orton

Rusev (c) vs. John Cena; WWE United States Championship

Sting vs. Triple H

Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

Brock Lesnar (c, w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns; WWE World Heavyweight Championship

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