|Don't fuck with the Lariat|
Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated via WWE.com
Honorable mention goes to the Dubstep Cowboys, who aren't really cowboys and don't have a gimmick unless you count the Brandon Stroud/Erin Provolone joint theory that they're secretly in the closet and overpursue Carmella (and now Alexa Bliss) in order to hide that. Of course, that doesn't give you the right to chant homophobic shit at them, and I hate that I think I need to explain why in order for the densest/most ignorant in the crowd. But regardless.@tholzerman Top 3 favorite cowboy gimmicks?— Frank Puddle (@francisadujr) May 20, 2015
3. "Cowboy" James Storm - While not so much during his post-Beer Money singles run, his half of the team worked as a contrast to Robert Roode and his Wall Street cash glommer gimmick.
2. "Cowboy" Bob Orton - Something about a "rough and tumble" cowboy who always had his arm in a cast felt like a cool juxtaposition to me.
1. Stan "The Lariat" Hansen - The man was legally blind and had a fat wife and nine children at home to feed. I don't care how hard he adhered to the cowboy ethos, the ten gallon hat is enough for me to stay on his good side. Plus, LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Via protected user @CMUChips:
@tholzerman how many powerbombs from Owens at the chamber?At least two. John Cena matches have been turning into Ring of Honor-styled faux-epics, replete with at least one finisher kickout from each participant. While as Kevin Steen, Owens was always one of the more sane individuals when it came to match layout there, no one is immune to the iron will of Cena. My guess is that Cena kicks out of one pop-up powerbomb, Owens kicks out of an Attitude Adjustment, one of them gets a finisher while the ref is knocked out or gets to escape it under dubious circumstances, and the other one gets to win with his finish.
You answered your own question. Only six have run so far, and plotting out a card with mostly the same roster is pretty hard. For example, which Sami Zayn match should be selected, and if it's Zayn/Cesaro IV at ArRIVAL, that leaves only Adrian Neville vs. either Bo Dallas or Tyson Kidd as the NXT Championship match for the card, and frankly, neither one of those matches deserves in over any one that involved Zayn. But I will give it my best shot...@tholzerman Why have we had six (by the time this runs) NXT Takeover specials and still no TH mix tape? Get on it! #TweetBag— Star of Savage (@StarOfSavage) May 20, 2015
NXT Championship Match: Sami Zayn (c) vs. Kevin Owens, Takeover: Rival - I have to get Owens on the tape, and honestly, this match may have been my favorite Zayn match in NXT outside of anything he'd done with Cesaro.
NXT Women's Championship Match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Becky Lynch, Takeover: Unstoppable - Yes, it just happened, but holy shit, was it a thunderously good title defense. I'm also done describing it as the "best women's" anything, because I'm not so sure that if it was plopped right in the middle of WrestleKingdom 9 that it wouldn't have been the best fuckin' match on the show.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Ascension (c) vs. the Lucha Dragons, Takeover: Fatal Four Way - The Tag Title crop is achingly poor comparatively speaking, but this match belongs just barely.
Finn Bálor vs. Adrian Neville, Takeover: Rival - Neville belongs on the tape, and despite his slow start on the Network series, he did have at least one match within the yellow ropes that didn't also involve Zayn.
Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami, Takeover: Rival - I know I'm loading up on matches from Rival, but it was the best Network special of the six, and I needed to get Breeze and to a lesser extent Itami on the tape.
Enzo Amore vs. Sylvester LeFort, Hair vs. Hair match, Takeover: Fatal Four Way - The match isn't that good, but it had some essential character hijinks and works well as a cooldown match to be inserted in between any of the above.
I reserve the right to change this drastically this time in two years, when NXT has given more specials to draw from. Mainly, I want to be able to get more than just one women's match on there and find a way to replace Owens/Zayn in the main slot so I can get a different NXT Title match and be able to put Cesaro/Zayn IV on there like it belongs.
The shortlist would be Abraham Washington, since that was his gimmick for awhile; Mick Foley, because the man has the personality of a talk show host; and Renee Young, who excels at her job which is basically interviewing people. Of that three, my "pick the best one" senses say Foley, but my "promote diversity in a field dominated by white dudes" says Young. So I'll go with Young, who isn't much of a dropoff from Foley and would bring some much-needed diversity to the landscape.@tholzerman You're hiring a replacement for David Letterman, which wrestling personalities do you consider and who do you hire? #TweetBag— boxwatcher (@boxwatcher) May 20, 2015
1. Zack Ryder - He was at Unstoppable last night, and I wanted, nay, ACHED for him to get his career back on track. The guy is legitimately personable and has a connection with the crowd, and when he was allowed to show off in the ring, he delivered. The only problem is that his biggest opponent on the main roster wasn't Vince McMahon but Triple H and guess who runs the show at Full Sail. Regardless, he needs an avenue badly, and since NXT is not just a developmental territory anymore, he could be that guy who is a veteran but also needs a rub and a stage.@tholzerman Pick three main-roster WWE wrestlers that could go to #NXT and get a Tyson Kidd-esque revival for their careers. #TweetBag— The real dajerseyboy (@dajerseyboy) May 20, 2015
2. Eva Marie - Rumors of her being in the Divas Championship scene by SummerSlam feel way too premature. She can do Sliced Bread #2 and a springboard tornado DDT, but can she work them into a match? If not, she'll get eaten alive on the main roster, but in NXT, she may not be the worst woman working even if she still has kinks in her game. Let her take a test run before turning the Divas Division into All Red Everything.
3. Damien Sandow - This Meta Powers stuff is amusing in the short term, but Sandow is still at heart damaged goods if he's going to remain as a mimic rather than someone who "is himself" like he initially promised after dropping the Mizdow shtick. I truly believed that he could have headlined a WrestleMania as a heel in his "Intellectual Savior of the Masses" character, and you don't project that kind of aura if you can't back it up. He should find himself back in the place where he first showed his massive potential and then let him run wild on the main roster.
PS, I'm still really bitter that Curtis Axel's run in NXT at the beginning of the year got truncated, even if the Axelmania stuff has been entertaining to date. Still man, he can also be so much more.
Owens does. Zayn's gotta be out for a longish amount of time after taking that beating and getting stretchered off, and once he returns from injury, he'll have unfinished business in NXT, even if Owens is gone by the time he gets there. Owens, however, seems to be on a fast track to the main event, and his match with John Cena at Elimination Chamber will go a long way to forecasting how his prospects are with Papa Vince. I have this gut feeling that once he and Cena potentially tear the entire town of Corpus Christi down, he's not going to be long for the world after he defends and possibly drops the Big X to either Finn Bálor or Samoa Joe at Takeover: Roger Goodell's Iron Fist in September.@tholzerman WHO JUMPS TO RAW FULL TIME FIRST, SAMI OR KEVIN?— CAPS HAWKA FLAME (@matt_T) May 20, 2015
Yes, but this comes with the caveat running Bálor out there now would be incredibly stupid. I'm biased because it's an idea that I fell far too much in love with when it drifted into my mind, but anything less than The Demon Bálor stalking into the Barclay's Center and ending the Cena Open Challenge at SummerSlam would be leaving, *extremely Prime Time Players voice* MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS on the table. Although I think Breeze could be the first in the wrestler class of "NXT Lifer," he also aches for a chance to peacock for the RAW crowds. The dude has worked so goddamn hard that denying him a shot to be on RAW would be absolutely criminal.@tholzerman Is it reasonable for me to expect Finn Balor or Tyler Breeze to show up for John Cena's Title Challenge next week? #TweetBag— Mike Pankowski (@mikepankowski) May 20, 2015
TH will never stop running out of worlds to conquer. The Universe is functionally infinite as far as humanity is concerned right now. I WILL NEVER REST UNTIL I DIE, MUHUHUAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA.@tholzerman WHEN WADE BARRETT BECOMES A FATHER ARE YOU GOING TO RETIRE THE BLOG, FOR THEN THERE WILL BE NO MORE WORLDS TO CONQUER?— Duje Lashlee-Walton (@thegnc) May 20, 2015
I would be absolutely shocked if either guy goes over completely clean at this point. Owens is clearly a big deal right now. Cena can absorb a clean loss, but WWE won't risk it, even if the company did a completely shocking thing by letting Owens murk him on Monday in the first place. If Owens goes over Cena, however, it will be via the machinations of the Evil Face of Triple H, which works towards the same goal as his Good Face - the advancement and protection of his brood of superstars in NXT.@tholzerman They really aren't gonna put Owens over Cena at EC, right? How do you handle this if that's the case?— Ryan Czachorski (@czach1r) May 20, 2015
I actually was planning on doing a whole alternate universe series of posts, the lynchpin of which being that Godfather actually ended up breaking Hart's fall at the Kemper Arena and saved his life. I think I got one or two posts into it before the crushing weight of creativity squished me back to covering things that were really happening in the world. My guess is that if he had lived, the reconciliation with Bret Hart would have happened much sooner, he would have gone on to win multiple World Championships, the post-2000 malaise with Triple H as the top heel would have been blunted with a two-pronged rudo attack to help build more stars, and a whole mess of other things might have happened, for the better or for the worse. Predicting specifics with "what if" scenarios is tricky and difficult since one event can change the course of a billion different things. But unless Hart was planning on retiring early (and I would not have been shocked by that at all), he would have had a rich future ahead of him.@tholzerman #Tweetbag Owen Hart would have turned 50 this month. Pretend he lived, encapsulate his likely post-1999 career.— What a Maneuver!! (@what_a_maneuver) May 20, 2015
For the record, the only matches that would get me to a full 10 on the excitement meter for SummerSlam are Daniel Bryan (not happening), Kevin Owens (unlikely to happen), Sheamus (DEFINITELY not happening), and Ryback (probably never happening). But I'm an asshole.
As I mentioned above, I'm not as big on Rollins in the ring, and it has a lot to do with my tepid feeling on him as a Champion right now. You either have to be a superior character (like Yokozuna) or a phenomenal worker (like CM Punk) to make a lengthy heel title reign work. Rollins is closer to fulfilling the former than he is the latter right now, but both seem to lack. He'd be far better suited to run with a title as a face, mainly because he needn't cut long promos as a good guy, and his skillset in the ring is far more suited to playing as a good guy.@tholzerman Okay, thoughts on Rollins' WWE title reign? Seems so far he can't win a main event match on his own. #TweetBag— Eric Darsie (@IAmDarsie) May 20, 2015
As for his booking, it actually is quite standard operating procedure for most heel Champions in WWE. I don't necessarily agree with the strategy, but it's nothing new. I've become numb to it, to be honest.
@tholzerman Adding myself to the Owens/Cena questions. What should our reasonable expectations be for the match? Considering, (cont).— KMB (@KMB2476) May 20, 2015
Firstly, the match should probably be good if not great. Owens' brutality is overbearing enough to put Cena down, although the inevitable no-wear Cena comeback might be even more grating. Of course, Cena has done wonders to help get over the good guy indie faves in actual matches, but his feuds have been absolutely no help to up-and-comer heels. If you don't believe me, the line starts with Rusev, and it stretches back even further than Wade Barrett in '10 and Miz in '09 (and '10-'11). I'd be concerned, but I'd also not be surprised if Owens was handled more carefully thanks to his status as one of Triple H's biggest pet projects right now. Either way, the Elimination Chamber match is dark and full of terrors, but it also could hold something better than what's come before.@tholzerman that Cena went over Sami, but Sami is also a completely different character than Owens and needs to be handled differently.— KMB (@KMB2476) May 20, 2015
Hoo-boy, this scenario is tricky, because I'm not entirely sure it can be booked without needing a storytelling touch that WWE just doesn't have right now on the main roster. Remember the Nexus? I sure as hell do. Plus, most of the NXT guys that would do well on the main roster are babyfaces, while Triple H may or may not position himself as a heel in any main roster story. Remember, Papa Vince is well-liked as a character despite being just as evil as he was when he was pestering Steve Austin.@tholzerman #Tweetbag book vince coming back taking power from HHH so he then goes and invades raw with an NXT team ? #Answermedamnit— anthony carter (@awc1990) May 21, 2015
But if I were to book any NXT invasion, I would include Finn Bálor, Tyler Breeze, and The Ascension as the forces. They'd all take runs mainly at John Cena (unless Seth Rollins also turned on Triple H in the process, which would make the booking even murkier), with Bálor being the one to ultimately succeed. I don't know if the battle should last that long, but it should end with Cena and Bálor coming to terms of mutual respect and then turning their guns against both McMahon and Triple H, running them out of town and ending the era of Authority-Figures-As-the-Top-Heels for good.