Cheap Pops - Wrestling News & Views - January 17, 2016

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Cheap Pops - January 17, 2016 by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter

This week!

  • First Name for Hall of Fall ‘16 Announced
  • NXT End of Year Awards
  • NXT Results


Sting Announced for WWE Hall of Fame


Mike: I thought it was typical WWE that when they made the announcement on their website a few days ago, they made sure to mention that he had lost to Triple H.  

Sting was a 6-time WCW World Champion when the company was purchased by WWE in March 2001. The Stinger also had the distinction of competing in the final match in the history of WCW Monday Nitro, taking on Flair one last time.

The Icon competed on and off over the next 13 years, as his fans wondered if he would do the one thing that eluded him during his illustrious career: Step foot in a WWE ring. They got their answer at Survivor Series 2014, when Sting emerged to help Dolph Ziggler vanquish The Authority, drawing the ire of Triple H. The shocking incident led to Sting's first appearance at WrestleMania, where he took on The Game in an epic battle that saw D-Generation X and the nWo collide at the 31st edition of The Show of Shows.

Though Triple H was victorious, Sting was not done with The Authority. He returned following SummerSlam 2015 to challenge WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. Though he was entering the 30th year of his career, The Icon showed he could hang with the current crop of Superstars, and took Rollins to the limit.

I am not one of those guys who says Triple H buries guys, but when you see WWE post something like that, you can see where those kinds of rumors come from.  I was a WCW guy growing up, so I am glad to see Sting honored.  He’s always had a terrific way of keeping relevant in the ever-changing wrestling business, and he’s had some terrific feuds with guys like Vader and Flair.  His match with Flair to close down WCW is still one of my all-time favorite matches.  

Chris: I grew up watching him, just like you.  I think his character took a downgrade when he ripped off The Crow stopped cutting promos.  Still, Sting is a legitimate Hall of Famer, no doubt.  

Sting and Flair always put together a special match. The final WCW one was special, but I'm partial to the 45-minute draw at the first Clash of the Champions.  That match really solidified the Stinger as a legit main eventer.

As for Triple H, well, he definitely buries people at times to enhance his own legacy. On the other hand, Trips is probably going to main event ‘Mania, yet Sting is done, so it was probably the right call last year.  Mentioning it in the press release wasn't necessary, though.

NXT Announces End of Year Award Winners

The first-ever WWE NXT Year-End Awards were revealed this week:

  • Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady as Tag Team of the Year.
  • Bayley as Female Competitor of the Year.
  • Finn Balor as Male Competitor of the Year.
  • Finn Balor as Overall Competitor of the Year.
  • NXT "Takeover: Brooklyn" as Takeover of the Year.
  • Sasha Banks vs. Bayley in Brooklyn as the Match of the Year.

Mike: Not a lot of surprises here.  Well, maybe Enzo and Big Cass.  I love those guys, but they really didn’t do all that much this year except lose both times they were in position to win the tag titles.  

I would probably have rather seen it go to Dash/Dawson, Gable/Jordan, and maybe even Blake and Murphy.  I don’t necessarily love Blake and Murphy, but they did have a great surprise title win, and held the titles longer than anyone else this year.  And Gable/Jordan might just be the biggest thing going in NXT!  

Chris: All Enzo and Cass ever do is lose.  It's really sad.  On the other hand, they are probably the most over guys on the roster.  And you can't teach that.  How many guys could stay so hot and always lose?  So, for people caring, they were THE team last year.  2016 will absolutely belong to Gable/Jordan.

Otherwise, it's a pretty no-brainer type of list.  I'm happy Sasha/Bayley won MOY, because nothing the guys did reached those heights.  Nothing!

Mike: Yeah, the only  real question was WHICH Sasha match deserved it.  The Takeover Brooklyn match, the Ironman Match, the four way match (when Sasha won the title in the first place), and on and on.   These lists tend to be skewed towards the most recent events, I think we all know that.  IF they were looking at the year as a whole, I think I could make the argument for Sasha Banks as NXT Women of the year.  But at this point, I am just being argumentative for the sake of being argumentative.  I love Bayley too.

Chris: So hard to judge those matches against each other, but the 4-Way may have been the best of the bunch.  In any event, you speak the truth, Sasha probably should have been Female of the Year.

Mike: I actually would probably rank her above Finn Balor too.  That is just how much I was impressed by Sasha Banks over 2015.

NXT Results - January 13, 2016

- GM William Regal comes out, making his return after neck surgery.  He wishes everyone a happy new year.  Hypes NXT in 2016.  He calls NXT the fastest growing promotion in wrestling history.  Tonight’s main event is a #1 contender’s battle royal for the Women’s Title.  

He also announces the return of Sami Zayn.  Sami comes out to a huge pop.  He says that a lot has happened while he’s been out, so he wants to reintroduce himself. He’s the lead singer of a band (referring to the NXT Universe).  The crowd starts to sing their hit single “Ole, Ole.”  Sami says that he’s one of the men responsible for NXT becoming as big as it has, but he’s just happy to be back at Full Sail.  He is here to announce that he plans to be the first ever two-time NXT champ.  

Samoa Joe comes out to interrupt him.  He appreciates Sami’s ambition, but last time Sami was here,  Joe had to rescue him from Kevin Owens.  In London, Finn barely escaped from Samoa Joe with his title and his life.  It’s time for Sami to just walk away.  Out comes Baron Corbin.  He says he agrees with Joe.  Sami has to go to the back of the line.  Corbin beat Apollo Crews.  Joe already had his shot at the title and failed,.  Samoa Joe calls Corbin brain dead.  Samoa Joe starts to walk away, telling Sami to know his place.  Sami calls him out for a fight.  Corbin attacks Sami from behind.  Sami is able to throw Corbin out of the ring.  Samoa Joe teases rushing the ring, but he ends up just walking away.

- Bayley is backstage.  She talks about her match with Nia Jax.  She had never faced anyone like Nia and that match took a lot out of her.  But she’s still champ!  She’s real excited about tonight’s #1 contender’s match and wishes everyone luck.

- NXT Year End Awards announced.  

- Tommaso Ciampa def. Danny Burch with a wicked variation of an armbar

- Enzo and Big Cass are backstage.  They want a rematch with Dash and Dawson.  They have lots of unfinished business here.

- Promo videos by some of the women involved in tonight’s Battle Royal - Billie Kay, Deonna Purrazzo, and Emma.

- Regal is in his office.  He decides on a #1 contender triple threat match in two weeks with Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, and Baron Corbin.

- Dash and Dawson def. Ascension with the Shatter Machine

- The trainer won’t clear Nia Jax for tonight’s Battle Royal.  They still have concerns after Bayley choked her out at Takeover (like a month ago?).  Eva says, “I got this!  For us!”

- More promo videos - Carmella, Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss.

- The Drifter Elias Samson def. Corey Hollis with a swinging neckbreaker.  After the match, Samson gave a quick one line cryptic promo.  But I had stopped caring by that point.

- Recap of Finn Vs Samoa Joe at NXT Takeover London.

- Finn talks about the match with Joe and the Triple Threat #1 contender match.  The champion must face every challenge head on.  It doesn’t matter to him who wins the triple threat.  All three men have a legit case to be the number 1 contender.  But none of them can beat him.

- More promos - Cameron, Aliyah (making her NXT debut), Liv Morgan, and Asuka.

- Number 1 contender Battle Royal.  Asuka thought she won, but Eva Marie sneaks into the ring and tosses her over the top.  But then Carmella slides back into the ring and eliminates Eva Marie to get the win.  Bayley comes down to huge her and congratulate her.

Mike: SAMI IS BACK! 2016 is already off to a huge start with the return of NXT's most popular wrestler.  Though I suspect he’ll be jumping to the main roster pretty soon. Real good setup for the number one contender match, though I am kind of surprised they didn’t include Apollo Crews.  Seemed like he was in line for a big push before Takeover London.  I love that in NXT the wrestlers are allowed to do the long promos like the opening of this show.  It’s not some authority figure going on for too long.  It’s the wrestlers hyping their own feuds. I love that.

Chris: This was a strong opener.  We got to see Sami make his return to Orlando and Corbin & Joe get involved.  I agree, it seemed like Crews was due for a big push, that's is, until Takeover London.  Corbin jumped to the top of the card with his win there, but I still think Apollo will be on top some day.  Zayn vs. Corbin vs. Joe makes sense since it casts Sami in the underdog role in which he excels.

Mike: I thought the Ciampa Vs Burch match was surprisingly good.  It was definitely the longest match Burch has had as long as I’ve been watching NXT.  He’s usually in the ring just to get squashed in ten seconds flat.  Ciampa has a real unique smashmouth style.  And that rolling armbar he won the match with was pretty cool.  

Chris: We've yet to see what Ciampa is capable of in the ring.  He was known as the “Sicilian Psychopath” in ROH, and the name is fitting.  I hope this win means he's going to get pushed in 2016!  Tommaso is too talented to be a curtain jerker or just laying down all year.

Mike: I really liked that they gave all of the women involved in the Battle Royal a chance to cut promos.  I had been complaining for a while that NXT had a lot of generic women with no chance to show their personality.  This was a nice way to show what the future of NXT is going to look like.

I am not sure if it was intentional, but I loved that Dash and Dawson seemed to win their match after one of them made a tag by hitting his teammate with an elbow shot.  If that was intentional, it really fit their characters.  If not, they played it off real well.  I actually never noticed how small Dash and Dawson are.  Against the Ascension, it really showed.  It also explains why WWE pushes the Ascension so much.  They seem to love tall guys, no matter how weak they might be in other areas.  

Chris: I noticed that too.  Seriously, the Ascension looked like absolute giants in this one.  Hard to see Dash & Dawson ever getting a main roster push, since the Ascension don't look particularly big against the folks on Raw.  Scary and sad, because the champs really have presence.  

By the way, amazing how much the Full Sail crowd still loves the Ascension.  Very misplaced in my mind.  Can't see why they care, since Konor & Viktor can't wrestle all that well and have minimal charisma.

Mike: Yeah, The Ascension have an advantage of being “original NXT.”  It’s sort of like when WWE talks about Original ECW.  Some of those guys might not be the best workers in the history of wrestling, but they still have a history there that the fans respond to.  

Speaking of charisma vacuums, Elias Samson still does nothing for me.  He is decent in the ring, but he just seems to have no charisma.  I don’t feel drawn to him at all when I watch him in the ring.  And who thought a swinging neckbreaker is a convincing finishing move these days?

Chris: The Honkytonk Man called and requested his finisher be sent back to the ‘80s via a Delorean.  You know, in a time period when it was impressive.  Oh yeah, and The Great Khali called too.  He's offering a charisma course this week.  Guess what, I hear that Ken Patera and a lump of stone are special guest speakers this week.  All have a lot to offer the Wandering Minstrel, or whatever the hell he’s going for with that lame ass gimmick.

Seriously, James Storm went back to TNA, and we get this mess...  

Mike: I was surprised when I heard James Storm had gone back to TNA.  It was odd that he showed up twice in NXT, and that was it.  I wonder where the breakdown was here.  I can’t imagine having him show up for a few episodes had any real impact on NXT.  Was this Storms’ attempt to negotiate a better contract with TNA, or did WWE just decide to scrap him because of the NJPW guys coming in?  I doubt we’ll ever know the whole story here.

The Battle Royal started off great.  Asuka basically stared down all the other women in the ring.  That was a great moment.  But the match itself was awkward at times.  It seemed like many of the women were having trouble lifting each other high enough to get them over the top rope.  But once things got flowing, it was a little better.

I am shocked that Carmella won.  Bayley and Carmella are close friends, so that has potential to be a really cool story. Though I am not sure Carmella can put on the type of match that we expect from the NXT women.  She’s good, but not quite on the level of Bayley, Sasha, etc.  But I hope she can surprise us all.

Chris: Not a great match at all, but Carmella deserves a chance in the spotlight.  She's improved a lot in the past year, and I bet Bayley gets a great match out of her.

I just want to mention Asuka.  I like her in the ring, and she comes off as a legit badass.  Still, the smile doesn't work most of the time.  I know it's supposed to be a crazy smile, but to me, she just kind of looks like a moron.

Mike: I will have to disagree with you on that.  I think she pulls off creepy smile real well.  She just looks like she is ready to hurt someone when she does it.  

Not a bad show to start the year.  A little light on star power, but the matches were fine.  

Mike: One quick thing before we wrap up.  On Raw, Kalisto managed to beat Alberto Del Rio to win the United States title. This was a huge surprise to me.  It seemed like Del Rio was supposed to feud with Cena...but when Cena got injured, they decided to go a different direction.  And that direction is Kalisto.  I kind of thought that was a real exciting and unexpected move.  

But then Del Rio ends up winning the title right back on Smackdown.  If this is part of a longer game, I give them huge credit for that.  I just hope that they didn’t coward out and reverse the push.

Chris: In the last few years the only thing like this was Miz winning the IC title at ‘Mania 29 then dropping it the next night on Raw.  I like these wonky title changes, since they increase expectations that something major could happen at any time.  I can't recall the last time a title changed in Smackdown.  It must be years!Now, I'd love to see Kalisto continue getting a push, but at least this shakes things up on TV.