WWE 2K22 Universe Mode: Chapter 5 – The Summer of Cena!

This is a big moment for me in my Universe Mode, not only because I now have JOHN CENA (for now…), but my first ‘big 4’ Pay Per View means a chance to do some seriously big things, and a chance for a bit of a refresh after the main show itself too.

After I repeated what WWE did irl in my previous PPV, John Cena confronted Roman Reigns to set up my own SummerSlam main event. But what else would be on my card, and how would I make use of the 16-time World Champion in my very own ‘Summer of Cena’. Well… lets find out shall we…


Raw – August, Week 1

John Cena cuts an in-ring promo … it is interrupted by… Elias…

John Cena defeated Elias

Rhea Ripley in-ring promo, Io Shirai interrupts

United States Championship (open challenge): Damian Priest defeated Sheamus (C) – by DISQUALIFICATION.

Priest then challenges Sheamus to a re-match at SummerSlam

Asuka defeated Dana Brooke

Alexa Bliss appeases on the titantron. Before she can began, Asuka gets very angry in Japanese, and (in English) promises to “end this!”

Mickie James and Nikki A.S.H are interviewed backstage

The IIconics (C) defeated Mickie James & Nikki A.S.H to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Keith Lee backstage interview

Liv Morgan locks eyes with and talks to Rhea Ripley backstage. Reckoning can be seen in the background looking on at Morgan.

Bobby Lashley (with MVP) defeated King Nakamura

Karrion Kross & Scarlett video promo

Walter defeated Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Mustafa Ali, AJ Styles and Pete Dunne in a 6-way to become the new number 1 contender for the WWE Championship

SmackDown – August, Week 1

The IIconics in-ring promo, Tegan Nox & Shotzi interrupt

Tegan Nox & Shotzi defeated Shayna Baszler & Sonya Deville (The IIconics at ringside)

Paul Heyman backstage interview

Finn Balor defeated Murphy

Sasha Banks-Bianca Belair-Charlotte Flair-Bayley in-ring segment

Drew McIntyre backstage interview

The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated Alpha Academy (Chad Gable & Otis) – Big E returns and stops Alpha Academy cheating

Kevin Owens backstage interview

Ricochet (with Cesaro) defeated Kevin Owens (with Sami Zayn)

Seth Rollins backstage interview

Naomi (with Tamina) defeated Mandy Rose

Drew McIntyre defeated Seth Rollins – DQ after Edge came out to attack Drew, Jeff Hardy makes the save

Liv Morgan goes eye to eye with Sasha Banks backstage

John Cena – Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) in-ring promo segment

Raw – August, Week 2

AJ Styles (with Omos) – Riddle in-ring segment

Riddle defeated AJ Styles (with Omos) – Randy Orton helps Riddle win

Alexa Bliss – Io Shirai backstage segment

Sheamus in-ring promo

United States Championship (open challenge): Sheamus (C) defeated Mansoor to retain – Sheamus destroys Mansoor after, Priest comes in to run him off

Karrion Kross and Scarlett video package

Liv Morgan defeated Mickie James (with Nikki A.S.H)

Liv Morgan backstage interview… lights go out, Retribution surround Liv, Reckoning attacks her

Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel defeated Tyler Bate & Trent Seven (with Pete Dunne)

The IIconics backstage promo on Nox&Shotzi, … they go eye to eye with Asuka and Rhea Ripley

The Hurt Business backstage promo

Bobby Lashley (with MVP) defeated Braun Strowman

Io Shirai and Alexa Bliss defeated Asuka and Rhea Ripley

Keith Lee – Walter contract signing segment

SmackDown – August, Week 2

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) and The Usos in-ring segment, John Cena interrupts

Cesaro defeated Apollo Crews

Bianca Belair backstage interview

Murphy defeated X-Pac – Murphy ‘batters’ X-Pac afterwards

Tegan Nox (with Shotzi) defeated Peyton Royce (with Billie Kay)

Big E backstage promo, John Cena walks by and ‘bigs up’ Big E

Seth Rollins & Edge backstage, Jeff Hardy & Drew McIntyre backstage elsewhere

Seth Rollins & Edge defeated Jeff Hardy & Drew McIntyre

Charlotte Flair backstage interview

Charlotte Flair (with Bayley) defeated Bianca Belair (with Sasha Banks)

Karrion Kross & Scarlett video package

John Cena defeated Jey Uso

Raw – August, Week 3

Rhea Ripley in-ring promo, Maryse interrupts

Rhea Ripley defeated Maryse

‘Imperium’ backstage interview

Karrion Kross & Scarlett video package

Damian Priest defeated Bobby Lashley (with MVP) – Sheamus came out mid-match and tried to distract Priest, but inadvertently distracted Lashley and ended up costing him the match

Liv Morgan backstage interview

Omos (with AJ Styles) defeated Randy Orton (with Riddle)

Alexa Bliss video segment

Samoa Joe & Liv Morgan defeated Mustafa Ali & Reckoning

The IIconics backstage promo

Keith Lee backstage promo

Toni Storm defeated Nikki A.S.H (with Mickie James) – Mickie James is very unsupportive after Nikki A.S.H’s loss

The Miz & John Morrison are in the parking lot… Maryse leaves in a car… Miz says ‘we gotta do something, something’s gotta change’… Morrison then says ‘I GOT IT!’…

Imperium (Walter, Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel) & Alexander Wolfe defeated Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven), Pete Dunne & Keith Lee

SmackDown – August, Week 3

Sasha Banks in-ring promo, Bayley interrupts

Edge defeated Drew McIntyre in a Backstage Brawl

Shotzi (with Tegan Nox) defeated Billie Kay (with Peyton Royce)

Seth Rollins backstage interview, Jeff Hardy interrupts

Murphy, Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens defeated Ricochet, Cesaro & Finn Balor

Karrion Kross & Scarlett video package

Naomi (with Tamina) defeated Natalya

The New Day go and knock on The Bloodline’s locker room door, The Usos and Paul Heyman step out to confront them

Breezango defeated Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo

Alpha Academy backstage interview, Roode & Ziggler interrupt, Street Profits come out to confront them, and later The Mysterios come into the segment also

Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair defeated Charlotte Flair & Bayley

John Cena in-ring promo, Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) interrupt

Raw – August, Week 4

Walter (with Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) defeated Pete Dunne (with Tyler Bate & Trent Seven)

Mickie James turns heel backstage, attacking Nikki A.S.H… Toni Storm makes the save

Randy Orton & Riddle defeated Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander

Imperium attack ‘BSS’ backstage

Io Shirai defeated Dana Brooke – Rhea Ripley on commentary, Io Shirai cuts an aggressive promo on Rhea after the match, leads to a huge brawl with officials having to break it up.

Karrion Kross & Scarlett video package

‘Retribution’ promo segment

Sheamus defeated Damian Priest in a backstage brawl

Alexa Bliss ‘invites Asuka into her playground’

Backstage segment where AJ Styles (with Omos) and Bobby Lashley (with MVP) get into an argument… MVP tries to hold Lashley back but he’s too focused on Styles…

Liv Morgan defeated Reckoning

Keith Lee defeated Alexander Wolfe – Walter DESTROYS Keith Lee after

SmackDown – August, Week 4

John Cena in-ring promo, Paul Heyman (stood on the rampway) interrupts him, Apollo Crews than jumps Cena from behind, Big E comes out to run Apollo off…

Tegan Nox (with Shotzi) defeated Natalya (with Billie Kay & Peyton Royce)

John Cena and The New Day backstage, Edge walks by, goes eye to eye with Big E, then we have a promo with Edge – John Cena/Big E

Murphy defeated Ricochet – Murphy cuts a promo after on Jeff Hardy and the Intercontinental title

Jeff Hardy backstage interview

Jeff Hardy defeated Happy Corbin – Seth Rollins on commentary

Bianca Belair backstage interview

Alpha Academy backstage, Roode & Ziggler interrupt

Bianca Belair v Sasha Banks – Charlotte Flair and Bayley interfere

Karrion Kross & Scarlett video package

The Mysterios defeated Roode & Ziggler – Alpha Academy come to ringside, and subtly distract Roode and Ziggler so they lose

John Cena and The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated Roman Reigns, The Usos & Apollo Crews


SummerSlam – August, Sunday Week 4 (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Before I get in to saying what happened. This is he first show I’ve done so far where I played every match (without skipping any), and I had a BLAST! I really really enjoyed this show and it played out very much how I wanted it too… So, here is my Universe Mode’s SUMMERSLAM PPV!

For my opener I opened with the same match the main card of the irl SummerSlam 2021 show opened with…

Loved this match. Played out how I wanted with the finish too with Orton pinning Styles. And now RKBro is born, which given how the team has played out in reality was just something I couldn’t resist booking in my Universe Mode.

Next up was another big match… NOT for the IC title by the way. Thought about it but… well (SPOILER ALERT) I didn’t want Jeff to drop the title… but also…

As much as I value Jeff, and he will get his run eventually trust me I have plans… I have other things in mind for Seth coming up, so he needed the big win here more…

Match 3 was one I actually made a late change on (result wise), after a new update brought about a different form of someone in the game… that I think will be a lot for useful for me and my ongoing Universe Mode plans…

Two huge names, and a solid match I thought. I’ve big plans for Asuka, and plans for Bliss too, so either result wouldn’t of been too disastrous for either… but I felt it best to go with Asuka getting the win here… Ideally, but not possible in the game, I’d of had Bliss pass out as opposed to tapping.

Match 4 was a BIG one… and Usually I have to work very hard to get the result I want in mutli-person matches… This one though had a finish that couldn’t of been more perfect for the story I wanted to tell…

So… let me tell you about this finish…

Charlotte hits Natural Selection to Bayley, as Bianca and Sasha brawl on the other side of the ring… Charlotte begins her pin on Bayley so the ref counts, only for Bianca to then try and pin Sasha… But as the ref was already counting Charlotte’s pin he finished that before even taking into account the fact Bianca had Sasha beat. So somewhat of a genuine, but kind of cool ‘screwy’ finish. I’m sure this adds fuel to a possible future Charlotte-Bianca title match, but we shall see… For now The Queen reigns once again over SmackDown!

My next match was another that took place at the real event as well…

I LOVE me some Damian Priest, so…

I do have plans long term for Sheamus (as you’ll see in my next blog), as for Priest he’s just gonna go on a roll now I think and make the US title seem as big as possible… cause he’s cool as fuck isn’t he lets be honest?! The little screwy finish here with Sheamus grabbing the rope wasn’t ideal, but it adds to me booking a very angry (even more so than normal) Sheamus going forward. And Priest can just go on and be the fighting babyface and beat people up. Can’t wait!

This next match was one I was genuinely looking forward to playing. Their previous one was so good I decided to run it back here…

And there we have it… Ripley retains! I liked how it worked that Io was just about to get Rhea off the ladder as she grabbed the title down… Helps protect Shirai a little even in defeat. This story isn’t over though, and we will have new players entering the equation… lets see who can be THE woMAN of the moment…

Match 7 on this absolutely STACKED show… another BIG banger…

Yep, Drew going over. Edge (with that briefcase of his in mind) will be FINE… and Drew is gonna use this win to go on to a BIG time feud…

Speaking of BIG… What about this for a WWE title match?!…

Had to be big Keith to retain. As much as the idea of Walter ruling WWE intrigues me, I got a feeling Mr Lee is gonna have another contender very very soon…

In my penultimate match, I wanted to give the women’s tag titles a prominent spot, so the semi-main of a big 4 PPV isn’t bad right?

As much as I love Billie & Peyton as a team, I just felt it was the right time to end their reign, and it was the right challengers to be the new champions. Tegan and Shotzi are great babyfaces on their own, but as a team I just think they’re great. I’m still a little gutted WWE let Nox go, what could’ve been 😦 …

And finally, time for the main event.

Again it’s the same as WWE booked for the real SummerSlam main event, and I did that because it’s quite simple THE match to make. The star of now vs the star of the previous era.

Their actual match was pretty good, and I thought my 2k22 match was decent as well…

Sorry Cena, no number 17 this time. Roman’s Reign is far from over…

And then… I just have to do it… I’m ending my SummerSlam exactly how WWE ended the real one…

My next blog is going to feature a LOT of changes to my rosters. Post big 4 PPV is a time I always like to do a bit of a refresh. And this time, I have a BEAST to book!

Josh.

CM Punk – The Best In The World

What does CM Punk Stand for? AEW Star reveals all in court - Atletifo Sports

Darby Allin, Powerhouse Hobbs, Daniel Garcia, Matt Sydal, Bobby Fish, Eddie Kingston, QT Marshall, Lee Moriarty, FTR & MJF, Wardlow, Shawn Spears, Max Caster, Penta Oscuro, Dustin Rhodes, John Silver.

If you’d of told me back in August, on the day of AEW’s ‘The First Dance’, to list the opponents of CM Punk’s first 9 months or so back in professional wrestling (after a 9+ year absence by the way)… firstly I don’t think I’d of said such a variety, and secondly I don’t think I’d of listed such a volume. Sure, CM Punk did tell us that he had the time ‘Wednesdays, Fridays, 4 Saturdays or Sundays a year’, but I didn’t expect him to be nearly as visible and as active as he had been. And I will say right off the bat, something that I thought would be an unpopular opinion, but after seeking counsel on it and asking for other’s opinion it appears this is actually quite a commonly shared view…

I think this incarnation of CM Punk (the AEW version) is the best CM Punk we have ever seen in his entire professional wrestling career. It has been an absolute joy to witness so far, and I’m sure it will continue. There are still so many moments and dream matches ahead in the future, one in particular that is the sole purpose for me putting together this blog at this time… but I will get onto that later, for now let me take you back to where it all began… In the house that Michael Jordan made famous, the Best In The World of professional wrestling came home. We knew it was coming and we knew it would be special, but I for one didn’t know just how special a moment it would be.

This is probably my favourite moment I’ve ever witnessed during my time as a professional wrestling fan. And I don’t think I personally can give it any higher praise than that.

As I’ve said, I don’t think I could’ve imagined quite how CM Punk’s run would work out after this incredible debut. But I didn’t imagine it would go how it has done… Don’t get me wrong, I presumed the Darby Allin match would be as good as it was. But what I loved the most after that was the fact he faced guys between PPVs that were up and coming, and those who wouldn’t usually get big matches against top names. And sure, none of them were ever going to beat CM Punk, but that’s not the point. To see him go out there, and have good matches on TV with these names benefited Punk’s return as much as it shone a spotlight on those names (particularly Hobbs and Garcia who hadn’t really been on TV prior to AEW). Going from Darby Allin and that respectful, old school vs new school story into a proper FEUD with Eddie Kingston was masterful.

Because up to that point, all we heard was how wonderful it was and that everyone was so happy to see CM Punk return to professional wrestling and come to AEW. But then they put him with Eddie Kingston, someone who has some legitimate history and reason to want to bring it to the ‘beloved’ returnee, and for those who didn’t know they explained the history so well. Kingston and Punk are two of the best promos on the roster, because what they say comes across as REAL … this segment seemed that to me at least…

The following report is from my AEW Full Gear PPV blog: https://nobodyisready.com/2021/11/15/aew-full-gear-2021-review/

CM Punk defeated Eddie Kingston

This was a real personal feud going in, and the match reflected that… this was a FIGHT! Punk had UFC-style shorts, and right as the match started Kingston hit a big spinning backfist that took Punk down… From here it was a proper fight, with the crowd unsure of who they wanted to win at different points. Punk even got some boos at one stage, and he kind of indulged them by hitting some JOHN CENA moves and teased a 5 knuckle shuffle, but he just gave Kingston the bid instead. Crowd booed that, but cheered when he did the 3 amigos. For the finish both guys missed moves and seemed exhausted, Punk got elbows and knees and then hit a second GTS for the win. He tried to go for a handshake after the match, but Eddie didn’t shake it. Crowd were lively for this, but went back and forth on who they were behind which made it interesting. Good match though.

****

The next major rivalry for the great CM Punk in AEW was one that we had all waited for from day one. It did not disappoint, and when this CM Punk Last Dance is over I think we will look back at this feud as the peak.

CM Punk And MJF Reference WWE Stars On AEW Dynamite

It began all so simply, the Dynamite show after Full Gear 2021, MJF came out, talked, CM Punk came out, MJF put out his hand, CM Punk walked away. Without saying a word, it was on.

From here the feud got underway, or certainly ramped up to another level, with one of the all time classic promo segments. Two geniuses of the microphone delivered a masterclass.

They did a great job of stretching this feud out, and knowing when to give us the big moments and when to hold fire. on the 22nd December Holiday edition of Dynamite, CM Punk and MJF finally shared the ring together… in a 6 man tag also including MJF with his fellow Pinnacle members FTR up against the dream babyface team of Sting, Darby Allin and CM Punk. We got the big babyface win, but still we wanted and needed this match one on one. And we got it on the February 2nd 2022 Dynamite episode. Of all places it simply had to be in Chicago.

The classic story in professional wrestling is to build up a villain enough for you to pay the money to see the good guy give them what they have coming to them. The fact AEW had the sense of mind to ramp it up by having MJF beat the hero, and give him even more ammunition in his hatred of CM Punk was a tremendous decision. It was a brave move to, the fact they gave CM Punk his first loss on TV (not PPV), in CHICAGO, and to MJF as opposed to a name like Jericho, or Bryan Danielson for example was in hindsight an excellent move. And of course the lack of a clean finish sets up the rematch.

CM Punk had fire in him now. The next week MJF offered Punk the chance of that, should he and a partner of his choice be able to beat FTR. Punk chose his partner well…

After Punk and Mox got the win, Punk would get his chance at redemption. and revenge.

Now, although this is a blog about CM Punk, it takes two to tango. And as incredible as this feud was, MJF produced possibly the best promo in AEW history, certainly of his young career so far. And once again, like Eddie Kingston before him, MJF now had legitimate reasons to have a gripe with the babyface CM Punk. The February 16th Dynamite was where Punk made his challenge to MJF and really let loose.

We never really knew why MJF hated CM Punk so vigorously and why it was so personal. On the February 23rd 2022 Dynamite, he told us why.

Naturally, CM Punk was taken a back by how personal and deep MJF had been affected by his actions. He would respond the next week, where MJF’s hurt would turn into furious anger, with bloody consequences.

Revoltuion 2022 was a great PPV, as all those by AEW seem to be. But for many, me included, it was all about this Dog Collar match. The entrances alone were spectacular, with MJF pulling the classic of having CM Punk’s music play, before his own and then he brashly made his way to the ring. But then, CM Punk took us back to his ROH days, and as Excalibur so beautifully explained on commentary he came out with his old attire and to his old entrance music. Seriously go out of your way to find this entrance, it was incredible.

Once again a big MJF match had all the build up, and again it didn’t disappoint. The same goes for CM Punk in what was surely the biggest match of his return so far.

The match was everything we had hoped for and more. Bloody and brutal for both men. Although the finish was all about Wardlow and his long awaited babyface turn, it did put a conclusive end on this incredible rivalry… for now…

So what next for CM Punk? He’d had some brilliant matches against a variety of opponents and having avenged the one loss on his record, he now wanted to go to the very top, after the AEW World Championship.

After the MJF win, a couple of weeks off for Punk was followed with some routine TV victories. And he made it very clear what was next for him, after one win he did the classic motion signifying he wanted the title belt next. But other than the fact Hangman was the man in possession of the World Championship, we didn’t really have much of a ‘feud’ or a grudge between the two going in… but very quickly the two developed some real animosity. Two huge babyfaces, two crowd favourites, but over the few weeks that these two have been going back and forth they really seem to of gotten to the other. I don’t think either are being billed as ‘heels’ now, but depending on who you like or can relate to more, there might be someone you think is more of a heel than the other. For me, as a HUGE fan of both, I’m just quite enjoying this feud, and I for one cannot wait for the match itself. The build started a little odd, given Hangman got Covid, we had one stare down between the two… and then the next week suddenly it was official!

With Hangman absent, Punk had the chance to talk about the match first.

A VERY babyface promo talking about how the fans have helped him get to this point, of competing for the world championship. Ok, great. How would Adam Page respond? Bare in mind a few PPVs ago he was our absolute hero, whiter than white babyface who fought his way to the ultimate goal. We all love The Hangman right? Well… This was what Page had to say about his upcoming match with CM Punk.

Well, we all like Page because he does have that babyface fire within him… but this is CM PUNK he’s referring to. Saying stuff like there wont be a handshake, and that he wants to ‘DESTROY’ him… not exactly friendly and respectful is it? And what about the ‘mastubatory Bret Hart tribute match’ line… yikes… An interesting element to this ongoing story, we have a little bit of needle between these two ‘faces’ now…

The next week we got what we really wanted. These two going back and forth, face to face…

Again, it is interesting that it is CM Punk that’s trying to be respectful but Page is the one literally giving Punk the middle finger. Amazing given where Page’s journey to this point has taken him now being the more heelish of the two for this world title PPV main event match.

But when you think about what CM Punk said I find that interesting also. It really isn’t personal to him, like it is to Page. As much as Page is just a fighting champion, Punk simply wants to be the world champion, and it just so happens to be Adam Page who he must beat to accomplish that. Punk has tried to be the good guy, it’s Page who has chosen to go against that.

I think this picture/GIF (taken from the 18/5 Dynamite) is really telling. As much as Adam Page is our hero right now, CM Punk has always been our hero. And I do truly believe that whatever Page does, he wont ever reach the popularity levels of CM Punk. And you gotta believe, for the character of Adam Page, with everything he has overcome to be the AEW Champion, that has to eat away at him just a little bit? Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want to go along with the ‘nicey-nicey’ bullshit? Why has he taken it so personally that someone wants to challenge him for the world championship? Is it that he sees Punk as a threat? Is he just jealous? Who knows. But what I said in my blog about Page (it’s one of my better pieces by the way, so go seek it out) is that he was relatable because he wasn’t perfect. Nobody is. Neither is CM punk. And what makes this match so great is both have valid points, both have flaws, and it simply depends on personal point of view and preferences who you side with. Babyface vs Babyface matches can often be tricky to book, they’ve done great with this one I think.

I’m writing this part of the blog less than 24 hours after the go-home show for the PPV. And… my oh my this promo segment between Punk and Page was… something else… They really fed in to everything I’ve written so far about how Punk sees this as just business, and how Page is taking things far more personally. Only this time, The Hangman added a new layer to his reasons for hating CM Punk, proclaiming himself as the ‘savior of AEW’. As go-home segments go, this was exceptional.

As I’ve said, I don’t think Adam Page has ‘turned heel’, nor do I think Punk has either. As fans it is left up to us to decide who we want to win, cheer or boo, or not… and again, that depends on your own tastes and point of view.

On top of everything else, I think this will be a GREAT ‘rasslin match. And that has been an aspect which maybe has taken me most by surprise during this return of CM Punk. The actual matches themselves, each one different yes but that’s a given with the vast variety of opponents, but they have all been of a solid standard. As much as most are about the story going in, the matches on PPV with Darby, Kingston both great. The Dog Collar match might be my AEW match of the year so far, and for a promotion with the incredible roster they have that is known for the great matches they produce, that is some accolade. He really is the complete package now, and more and more as time goes on, my proclamation that I believed this AEW version of CM Punk is the best one we’ve seen continues to be validated.

So… I guess the only thing for me left to say is… who do I think will win? And I think with literally every other AEW World title match on PPV up to this point I could’ve told you with a pretty decent degree of certainty who I thought would win, but this really is by a long way the most unpredictable title match we’ve seen from AEW so far. And that makes this match so much more exciting! The great thing about AEW is their commitment to long term storytelling, but with that things can often become predictable, not so much this time around. If I’m picking the winner, for me it’s Punk. For a number of reasons that I think could serve a few masters… Adam Page needs a little bit of a refresh, not a major one but just something to keep his story-arc going just a little bit longer. I absolutely don’t think he should go heel, nor do I think that after this CM Punk match is over (win or lose) he will continue and increase the heel-ish tendencies he has shown the last few weeks. So the way I see it going is Punk beats Page for the title, Punk has whatever ‘dream’ match he is going to do at the joint show with New Japan, and then either at this years All Out or next year’s (presuming both are in Chicago, which given the Forbidden Door PPV is there, All Out 2022 may not be, but regardless is it crucial for me that the next part of the story is in Chicago), I would then have CM Punk lose the title… to MJF! This would harken back to MJF stating that (after the dog collar match) ‘the next time I face CM Punk it will be the most humiliating loss of his career’… For me you can’t get much worse than losing the world title to your most hated rival in your home town. And that would give you time maybe to of told another redemption story by then of having Adam Page win the title back from MJF. WWF had Steve Austin win the title at WrestleMania 2 years in a row once, I’m sure AEW can more than make it make sense to have Page be the first 2x AEW World Champion.

But that’s all ifs, buts and maybes. I have eternal trust in AEW to do stuff that makes sense always. I just believe it is more CM Punk’s time than Page’s. Just like I thought it was time for Jon Moxley to beat Chris Jericho, Omega’s time to beat Mox, and of course it was time for The Hangman to beat Kenny Omega. But as I’ve said maybe Page will win, who knows? I certainly don’t for sure, and I trust AEW with either result will make it all work out in the end.

I just think if CM Punk really is The Best In The World, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have him called the World Champion as well?

Josh.

Don Carlo

How Carlo Ancelotti ended Real Madrid's 12-year wait for La Decima - Planet  Football

Has Carlo Ancelotti completed football?

After his Real Madrid team recently wrapped up the La Liga title, their manager thus became the first to of won the league titles in Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France. Oh, and he also has won the Champions League 3 times as a manager (more than Jose, more than Pep, more than Klopp, more than Sir Alex by the way). Oh, and he’s also won a total of over TWENTY major honours as a manager. Oh, and as a player he played over 450 games for Parma, Roma, Milan and the Italian national side and along the way, he won every major trophy in Italy and on the continent (2 European Cups with Milan, and many more trophies with both the Rossoneri and AS Roma).

And yet, I get the feeling in the annuls of football history, he wont get the credit a revolutionary like Guardiola or a colossus like Ferguson will. Which in some ways I understand, maybe it’s because of the way and the manner in which Carlo Ancelotti operates… But to me that’s what makes him so endearing. We’ve all seen the clip by now when his Everton side scored a late goal, and all around him people are going wild with joy… their manager was instead taking a sip of his drink, just as he may do if he was at home on his sofa totally relaxed.

Carlo Ancelotti is the Master Splinter of football management. In the popular show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Master Splinter was the sensei, the one the turtles all listened to and everything he said seemed to have meaning. But he was never flash, never a shouter and never frantically waving his arms around and screaming. Cool, calm, but very VERY knowledgeable on what it is he does. And above all else, just like Splinter, he’s DAMN good.

Although his career as a manager has taken him to a total of 10 different clubs (Real Madrid twice of course), I’m going to focus on his time in charge of AC Milan, Chelsea and his two spells with Real Madrid. The 1st July this year will be the 27th anniversary of the beginning of a quite remarkable managerial career. A story of success at the absolute highest level, but at very different clubs in which Ancelotti showed their are certainly different ways to skin a cat…

Unspectacular spells with Reggiana, Parma and Juventus didn’t stop Ancelotti getting the opportunity to return to the club he played for 160 times as their manager in November of 2001. After a poor start to the season Ancelotti steered Milan to qualification for the Champions League via a 4th place finish in Serie A, as well as the semi finals of both the Coppa Italia and the Uefa Cup. After that in the summer of 2002, 3 players who would become stalwarts of the the Ancelotti-Milan era all came to the club; Alessandro Nesta, goalkeeper Dida and Dutch international Clarence Seedorf. A 3rd place finish in the league, behind Marcello Lippi’s Juventus and an Inter side featuring Christian Vieri who scored 24 league goals. It was in the cups that Don Carlo and his gang shone through, as victory in the Coppa Italia final against Roma came alongside a run to the Semi Finals of the Champions League. There they got past city rivals Inter, before going to Old Trafford in Manchester to face another of their domestic rivals… Juventus.

And having not won europe’s top prize for 9 years, Milan faced a grueling battle of intensity, tactical patience and endurance. Italy’s two top teams, two of their most idolized managers. It was only ever going to finish 0-0 wasn’t it?

Ancelotti thus joined an illustrious list to of won the great trophy as a player and a manager. But just as Pep and Zidane would go on to do also, wining both with the same club? Now that is just magic.

Milan’s success under Ancelotti would continue with the Serie A title the following season before the infamous Champions League Final loss to Liverpool in 2005. Milan went trophiless in 05/06 before a run to the Final of the Champions League again in 2007. Their run to the final was made even more extraordinary given they began their campaign right at the very start in August of 2006 with a third round qualifying win over Red Star Belgrade. After finishing top of their group, they went on to knockout Celtic, Bayern Munich and Manchester United in the semi finals. The second leg of the aforementioned win over United came with a thumping 3-0 win at San Siro. If the hero of 2003 was Shevchenko, now Milan had a new jewel in their crown, the eventual winner of that year’s Balon d’Or…

Going into the final with Liverpool, the tables seemed to of turned somewhat… in 2005 Milan were an amazingly star studded team, and Liverpool were the underdogs, but 2 years later now it was the English side who were favourites.

Not for the last time in a big final, Carlo Ancelotti showed it is not always about the better team, but the team set up to win. And to quote the BBC Sport report on the 2007 final, ‘For all Liverpool’s huffing and puffing there was no end product’.

Ancelotti won his second Champions League with Milan. Their third appearance in a final in 5 seasons. That haven’t been to a final since.

By this point, Milan’s squad was definitely what you would call ‘aging’. And finishes of 5th and 3rd in the league with only the European Super Cup and Club World Cup to show for it would bring a somewhat disappointing end to an incredible period as manager for Ancelotti. but during his team he was able to mold a team of experienced players (each of whom you’d of thought would have egos to match their skills) into a team of winners. And as much as people talk about Real Madrid and the Galacticos, in their era (2000-2006) they won 2 league titles and 1 champions league. Ancelotti with Milan won a league title, a cup and 2 champions leagues (as well as reaching another final). Yet his team of stars isn’t talked about as much…. and I’ve never understood why…

This was maybe the ‘peak’ Ancelotti team: Dida, Cafu, Stam, Nesta, Maldini, Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf, Kaka, Shevchenko, Inzaghi. Not bad hey? Largely playing a 4-4-2 Diamond with Pirlo sitting and Kaka in the 10, but over the years there were slight variations depending on personnel. But the rock solid, no nonsense defensive unit, and the compact but hard midfield remained the same. Add to that Poachers up front and you have quite the team. You could watch this team and think of Ancelotti as a defensive coach? OK… how about he comes to England and takes a team who finished 3rd the previous season to the league and cup double the next… Oh, and they score 103 league goals with scorelines of 7-2, 7-1, 7-0 and an 8-0 among them… A defensive coach you say… hardly.

Ancelotti would join Chelsea as manager in the summer of 2009. He would find a club and a team still reeling from the departure of Jose Mourinho, a defeat in a maiden Champions League Final before the sacking of World Cup winning coach Phil Scolari. A revival of sorts under caretaker manager Guus Hiddink saw them secure a 3rd place league finish and an FA Cup Final win. But a robbery of refereeing in the semi final second leg to Barcelona meant that although Ancelotti inherited a talented squad of players, they still very much had something to prove having not won a league title for 3 years when the Italian joined.

Unlike in previous seasons, Chelsea didn’t spend big as they had in the past. And this was a Chelsea team known for their defensive but match winning style. Although they trained to add more flair under Scolari, they seemed to lose that solidity that had become a cornerstone of their success in previous years. Ancelotti would need to follow up on the groundwork Hiddink had done and find a perfect balance. A penalty shoot out win in the Community Shield over reigning league champions Manchester United was followed by a flawless 6/6 wins to begin their league campaign. By the start of December Chelsea had 12 wins and just 2 defeats, with 5 clean sheets in a row. December proved a more difficult month with just two wins, three draws and a defeat.

Manchester United pushed Chelsea all the way in the title race. Wayne Rooney carrying his team into taking it to the last day… Chelsea won 6 from 7 games in the league meaning that all they needed to do was match United’s result elsewhere to win the league. Chelsea faced Wigan at Stamford Bridge, with the Premier League trophy on standby…

In typical fashion of an Ancelotti side, Chelsea went about their business professionally, with ruthlessness, and with a little bit of flair. Wigan were well and truly put to the sword, and Chelsea followed up an emphatic 7-0 win against Stoke and a 2-0 win away at Anfield by hitting Wigan… for EIGHT! Chelsea champions for the first time in 4 years. Ancelotti in his first season outside of Italy had seen his side pip Sir Alex Ferguson’s team to the title, with 103 goals along the way.

Oh… and they won the cup too… Oh and they conceded ONE goal in their 6 FA Cup matches, culminating in a 1-0 final win against Portsmouth. Ancelotti joined only Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson (at that point) to have won the league and cup double since the Premier League began. They were knocked out of the Champions League by eventual winner Inter Milan, but Ancelotti’s first season in England was an overwhelming success.

The follow up season began as the previous had ended, despite losing in the Community Shield they started the league with two 6-0 wins, as they lost just one of their first 10 games. But a horrific run from the start of November until mid January, the horrific form of big January signing Fernando Torres, elimination in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League by Manchester United and early exits from both domestic cups saw Ancelotti’s spell in charge of Chelsea come to a sad end. You can go with a number of reasons as to why the first and second seasons differed so much, but just looking at that Chelsea team in the first season… 4-2-3-1 for most of it … Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry and Ashely Cole formed to foundation with a solid defensive unit. Ballack and Lampard infront of them provide about as reliable a partnership as you could get (Lampard getting 27 goals by the way, a career season best for him), and infront of them Kalou, Malouda, Anelka and Didier Drogba leading the line (Drogba too getting a season career high number of goals with 37). From a solid, well organised Milan team who were known for their defensive knowhow, Ancelotti created a Chelsea team who scored goals for fun, and very much demolished teams particularly in that first season in charge. A brilliant quote from Phil McNulty in the BBC Sport report of Chelsea’s 2010 title winning 8-0 win over Wigan summed up the Italian’s first season in England perfectly… ‘Ancelotti’s steady hand and refusal to overreact in defeat or victory has calmed any troubles Chelsea have faced’.

Two years later, after a spell in charge of Paris St Germain where he won the Ligue 1 title in his sole full season…

Ancelotti next found himself given another opportunity to dine at European football’s top table. as the 2-time Champions League winning manager was tasked with winning ‘La Decima’ for Real Madrid.

Everything seemed to be about one man for Real Madrid in the summer of 2013… no not their new manager Ancelotti, but their latest Galactico, as Gareth Bale joined for a record fee from Tottenham. La Liga boasted not just one but three exceptional teams with eventual champions Atletico winning the title on the final day with a win at runners up Barcelona, who in turn were level on points with 3rd place Real Madrid when the league campaign was over. But Ancelotti’s tactical genius came into its own with this group of players in the two cup competitions. Real Madrid didn’t just win them both, they did so in quite extraordinary fashion. After a 5-0 aggregate win over local rivals Atletico in the semi finals, Real Madrid went to the Mestalla in Valencia to contest the 2014 Copa del Rey Final with Barcelona. Plenty had tried to criticise Gareth Bale since his record move, with injuries and fitness hampering his early days as a Real Madrid player, but he would come through when it most mattered…

With one trophy already in the bag, over a month later Real Madrid would go for the big one. Having destroyed Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich 5-0 on aggregate in the semi finals, The Champions League final would be an all Madrid affair between newly crowned La Liga champions Atletico (going for their first European crown) and Real Madrid (still in desperate pursuit of the elusive La Decima). And for me this game perfectly illustrates what separates those truly GREAT managers and players from the rest.

4-1 looks like a hammering, and whilst it wasn’t like that as a match. All along for me there was only going to be one winner of this final. Just look at the characters in that Real line up, the same group of players who in 2022 now have multiple Champions Leagues to their name. I will touch on the tactics that Ancelotti utilized in this game shortly, but given Gareth Bale was at times criticized after his big move, he ended his first season at the club with 22 goals in 44 games, and scoring decisive goals in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals. And it all meant that where the likes of Del Bosque, Queiroz, Luxemburgo, Capello, Schuster, Ramos, Pellegrini and Mourinho had all failed, Carlo Ancelotti had delivered the ultimate prize to a club that defines itself by it’s success in European football, La Decima.

Season 2 for Ancelotti in charge of Los Blancos was… well if his first was glorious, the second was painful and heartbreaking. Toni Kroos and Keylor Navas came in, but Xabi Alonso and Champions League Final man of the match Angel Di Maria departed. Madrid would win both the European Super Cup and Club World Cup, but a semi final loss whilst defending their European crown to Juventus, a cup loss to city rivals Atletico (whom they also lost out to in the Supercopa too) and having to see fierce rivals Barcelona not just win La Liga, but to win the TREBLE… All of that was too much for Madrid president Florentino Perez, and Ancelotti was dismissed.

It was a such a sad ending after such a historic first season, very similar to his time in charge of Chelsea in fact. Ancelotti again took over a talented group of players, but one that needed that little bit extra to really succeed. Now not only did Ancelotti have to manage two first choice goalkeepers (Diego Lopez played the league matches in the first season, Casillas played in the cup games), but he also had to fit in record signing Gareth Bale, record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo, AND Karim Benzema, AND Angel Di Maria. and for a team that plays 3 up top, 4 into 3 doesn’t go. So Ancelotti made a key change that came to full effect in that Champions League final with Atletico, Di Maria (with Xabi Alonso suspended) played in the midfield 3 alongside Modric and with Khedira sitting. Bale, Benzema, Cristiano formed a ferocious front 3, and as the game went into extra time after such a late equalizer from their opponents, Atletico just couldn’t cope. They were gone. In his second season in fact, Madrid actually scored more goals than treble winners Barcelona, and in the first season despite coming 3rd they scored more goals than both Barcelona and league champions Atletico. Considering a decade prior to this, it could be argued that Ancelotti was a defensive, functional coach… but at Chelsea, PSG and now Madrid he had proven he could a manage teams to play far more goalscoring and attacking football, and to win with them as well. he could combine great attacking talents with solidity at the back. Madrid would later win the champions league 3 times in a row, largely with the line up that Ancelotti put together and got them their first taste of European glory.

After a year out of the game, Ancelotti next rocked up in Germany with Bayern Munich. Where again, in his sole season in charge (sound familiar?) he won the team the league title. He would leave the Germans part way through the next season, and this was followed by spells with Napoli and then Everton. But prior to the 2021/22 season began, Ancelotti was given a second chance to finish up his business in Spanish football. After club icon Zinedine Zidane left once again, Perez made the call, and Don Carlo was quickly back in the all white.

Not too much was expected from Real Madrid at the start of the 2021/22 season. In fact, with Barcelona in crisis it was champions Atletico who were favourites to retain their La Liga crown. In terms of new arrivals on the playing side, in came David Alaba on a free transfer, and Eduardo Camavinga (seen as a star of the future) joined from French club Rennes. But out went their multi-time Champions League centre back winning partnership Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane… Although Ancelotti wasted no time in holding down the key members of his squad, with 6 first team players signing contract renewals in the first couple of months of Ancelotti’s second spell in charge.

It was in the league that Ancelotti made history, as with Atletico floundering and Barcelona only getting a revival mid season, Real Madrid stormed to the La Liga title, losing just 4 league games all season and finishing 13 points clear. Carlo Ancelotti thus became the first manager in history to win league titles in England, Italy, Germany, France and now finally in Spain.

But if Real Madrid won the league title by a margin, without question the outstanding team in that competition… their Champions League campaign kind of seemed to creep up on everyone else. It seemed that for round after round after round people were expecting Real Madrid to be eliminated. Yet every time they overcame all expectations.

Although they finished top of their group in the Champions League, all people talked about was the fact Real Madrid lost at home to Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol. It was very much a humiliation, but on they went into the knockout stages although almost under the radar, given all the talk was about if the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool or PSG may go on to lift the European Cup.

It was pretty much written in the stars that Kylian Mbappe would have an impact on the tie between his current club Paris St Germain and his potential suitors (we know how that ended of course, but that is a story for another day). And in fact it was the mercurial Frenchman who scored the only goal of the game in the first leg, that would see PSG take a 1-0 win into the return match at the Bernabeu.

As if it was going by a script, Mbappe opened the scoring in what many called his ‘trial’ match for Los Blancos. But although it was to be a Frenchman who would write himself into the headlines after the game, it wouldn’t be the 23 year old but an older master of the game that often (until this season anyway) goes way undervalued and underrated compared to his world class ability… Almost like his manager you could say…

A hat trick for Karim Benzema. Benzema who when he signed was only the 3rd maybe 4th biggest signing Madrid made that summer. Benzema who was so often the 3rd man in the famous trio with Bale and Ronaldo. Benzema who had been a top striker for almost 15 years previous and only now is having the world class label widely put with his name. Benzema who aged 34 is having the best goalscoring season of his career. So with Benzema having slayed his country’s best team, next up was defending European champions Chelsea. The same side who had proven to be far superior to Madrid en-route to winning the trophy in the previous season’s semi finals.

Again people expected Madrid to be put to the sword. Again Madrid and Ancelotti’s calm yet ruthless style of play caught a team napping…

Seriously… if he doesn’t win the Balon d’Or, what are we even doing?

The return leg proved even more surprising, but even more so showed the resolve and tactical nouse of Carlo Ancelotti and his group of merrymen. Madrid found themselves 3-0 down at home and heading out with 10 minutes to go. Rodygo’s goal meant we headed to extra time, where a sole additional goal from their latest leading man proved decisive. With Benzema taking charge once again, Real Madrid had once again advanced when many said they wouldn’t.

So onto the semi finals then. Two ties which pitted England vs Spain, and every man and his dog was desperate for a final between the outstanding Liverpool and Manchester City. And after the first legs that did look to be the case, Liverpool put Villarreal to the sword 2-0 in their first leg (later reaching the final thanks to a second half comeback that made things a lot more comfortable than they seemed at one point)… The opposing tie between City and Madrid, really was one for the ages. I watched both legs in full, and can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been more entertained across two games in my life.

The first leg at the Etihad was incredible. City dominated the first half, but only lead 2-1 when the half time whistle blew (in reality it could’ve and maybe should’ve been a LOT more comfortable at that stage, such were the number of chances Pep Guardiola’s side created). City did take a 2 goal lead again, but were pegged back within 2 minutes and eventually thanks to a Panenka penalty from Benzema (for his second of the game), we would go into the second leg back in Spain with City leading 4-3.

And after we thought we had seen it all in that first leg, then the second leg happened.

All seemed to be going Manchester City’s way… They had come through a grueling second leg the previous round to see off ‘the other’ Madrid side, so they knew they COULD do it… and it seemed even more likely when Riyad Mahrez gave them a 2 goal advantage once again. When the clock was at 89 minutes, Manchester City were well on their way to their second successive Champions League Final. SOMEHOW they didn’t get there.

I have watched these highlights several dozen times since I watched the match itself, and I still can’t believe Real Madrid are in this final.

Why did this happen? How? It seems all I’ve heard about this ‘collapse’ of City (and yes I concede it does look like just that)… But can we give the credit to Madrid? City didn’t let them score 3 goals, Real Madrid dug deep when they most needed to. They showed the same character, resolve and above all else ability that their great manager has shown for the best part of 20 years as a coach at the highest of levels. It was quite amazing, and of course it just had to be Benzema to put the icing on the cake. For me, much like when Sergio Ramos denied Atletico in 2014, and that match went into extra time, I could ONLY see Real Madrid advancing as soon as Manchester City found themselves having to recover from what on earth had just happened. Had it not been for a brilliant point blank save from Ederson, they wouldn’t of even made it to extra time. Real Madrid, Karim Benzema and Carlo Ancelotti all once again showed you cannot beat experience combined with mental knowhow, a calmness in the most chaotic of times and the extraordinary world class ability to produce when it most matters and at the highest of standards of the game.

As much as I have spoken about the experience of this Real Madrid team, the likes of Benzema, Modric and Kroos only form part of this fantastic side. Largely this season Madrid have lined up in a 4-3-3 with Courtois as the goalkeeper, a back 4 of Carvajal and Mendy as full backs with Militao and Alaba as the first choice centre halves. Casemiro was the rock that would sit behind Modric and Kroos, for me I cannot understate the role Casemiro plays in this team. It is his work mopping things up that allows for the exquisite passing and positional play of the two magicians in front of him to really hurt opposing teams. For me if Liverpool can find a way to worry and put Casemiro off his game, it’ll go a long way to deciding who takes the Champions League trophy back with them. As always with Real Madrid, their front line is something to behold. Vinicius and Rodrygo are the young, flying Brazilians that play on either wing, allowing for the masterful Karim Benzema to have the chance to be the difference. This team has tactical knowhow, pace and power, and an incredible mentality. Yes Jurgen Klopp has put together a quite brilliant Liverpool team, but I would stop short of saying this will resemble anything close to a walk in the park for his side.

We all know how Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho, Simeone teams play and have always played. But what separates Ancelotti from them for me, is the ability to adapt. To take a club and a group of players and manage them in a style and a system that maximizes their potential outlet. Unlike Mourinho, who’s success at the highest of levels has somewhat lessened over the years, Carlo has moved with the times and his teams have played the way that the game is being played at that time. I’ve seen Ancelotti teams (as I’ve mentioned) score 6s and 7s and absolutely steamroll teams with glorious football, and I’ve seen them scrap and battle and claw their way to victory. And all along the way, Carlo Ancelotti’s teams have always done one thing. Win.

Whatever happens between his Real Madrid side and his old enemy Liverpool in Saturday night’s showpiece, it promises to be such a wonderful occasion. Two exceptional managers, two very different teams who are both remarkable in different ways in their own right. Either winner would be a worthy champion of Europe for me. My only hope is the game lives up to the billing. But win or lose, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Don of football.

Carlo Ancelotti, I salute you.  

Josh.

WWE 2K22 Universe Mode: Chapter 4 – CYBER(?) Sunday!

So as I said in the previous chapter, my next PPV in my WWE 2K22 Universe Mode is Cyber Sunday. Back in the mid-late 00s it was a show where numerous matches and stipulations on the show would be picked by public vote… which… “apparently” was a shoot vote…

For my Cyber Sunday show I decided to incorporate that idea into the booking of my PPV, and I did that my having a number of match stipulations, stakes and participants in different matches decided upon by me putting different things on small pieces of paper, and picking from the options at random. I’ll admit, this made the build to the show difficult at times, but it was a lot of fun. This was helped a little by my change to my series, and from now on each of my Raw and SmackDown shows will be 6 matches as opposed to the previous 8, just because going forward I want my shows to be more action and less ‘filler’… So, before we get to my latest PPV, here’s how we got to Cyber Sunday!


Raw – July, Week 1

Retribution (Mustafa Ali, Mace & T-Bar) cut an in-ring promo, Keith Lee interrupts

Raw Tag Team Championship: AJ Styles & Omos (C) defeated Lucha House Party to retain – Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin cost LHP

‘The IIconics’ defeated Mickie James & Nikki A.S.H – Toni Storm interferes

Alexa Bliss defeated Asuka in a backstage brawl

Sheamus is told about his US title Cyber Sunday match stipulation in a backstage interview

Bobby Lashley (with MVP, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin) defeated Drew Gulak

Lashley cuts an in-ring promo after

New Mr MITB Edge locks eyes with WWE Champion Keith Lee backstage

Damian Priest, R-Truth & Braun Strowman defeated Sheamus, The Miz & John Morrison

Imperium video package

Io Shirai defeated Carmella, Mickie James and Toni Storm in a fatal 4 way match to become the new number 1 contender for the Raw Women’s Championship

SmackDown – July, Week 1

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) & The Usos in-ring promo , The New Day interrupt

Shotzi (with Tegan Nox) defeated Bayley

Bianca Belair backstage interview, Sonya Deville and later Tamina interrupt

Cesaro defeated Kevin Owens

Edge locks eyes with Universal Champion Roman Reigns & Paul Heyman backstage

Edge cuts an in-ring promo

Shayna Baszler attacks Naomi backstage

Alpha Academy video segment

Drew McIntyre defeated X-Pac (Seth Rollins is seen watching on backstage)

Bayley locks eyes with Charlotte Flair backstage

Finn Balor defeated Murphy

SmackDown Women’s Championship Number 1 contenders match: Mandy Rose (with Sonya Deville) vs Sasha Banks (with Tamina) ends in a double count out – Bianca Belair on commentary

The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (with Big E) defeated The Usos (with Paul Heyman)

Raw – July, Week 2

Sheamus in-ring promo

US title Open Challenge: Sheamus (C) defeated R-Truth to retain

Keith Lee backstage interview, T-Bar interrupts

Miss MITB Liv Morgan defeated Carmella

Imperium backstage interview, Moustache Mountain interrupt

Mickie James and Nikki A.S.H backstage promo

Toni Storm defeated Mickie James

Rhea Ripley in-ring promo, Io Shirai interrupts

Omos (with AJ Styles) defeated Braun Strowman

AJ & Omos cut an in-ring promo, unhappy at their PPV match stipulation

The Hurt Business (Alexander & Benjamin) defeated Lucha House Party (Dorado & Metalik)

Alexa Bliss video package

Keith Lee defeated T-Bar (with Mustafa Ali & Mace) – Samoa Joe comes out and helps Keith Lee fend off Retribution after

SmackDown – July, Week 2

Edge cuts an in-ring promo, Jeff Hardy interrupts

Bayley defeated Tegan Nox (with Shotzi) – Charlotte Flair interrupts and helps Bayley

Ricochet backstage Interview, interrupted by Paul Heyman

Ricochet defeated Akita Tozawa

Xavier Woods (with Kofi Kingston) backstage interview

Roman Reigns defeated Big E in a backstage brawl

Alpha Academy video segment

Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville defeated Sasha Banks & Tamina (with Bianca Belair)

Seth Rollins goes into the ring and calls out Drew McIntyre, the two then brawl

Street Profits vs The Mysterios ends in a no contest when the Usos interrupt

Cesaro backstage interview , interrupted by Kevin Owens

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) defeated Xavier Woods (with Kofi Kingston)

Raw – July, Week 3

Carmella & Io Shirai defeated Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley

Randy Orton & Riddle are backstage, AJ Styles & Omos interrupt

Pete Dunne defeated Walter in a backstage brawl

Mustafa Ali backstage interview, Samoa Joe interrupts

Lucha House Party confront The Hurt Business backstage

Moustache Mountain defeated Imperium

The IIconics & Toni Storm backstage promo

R-Truth backstage with Damian Priest

Alexa Bliss defeated Nikki A.S.H – Asuka attacks Bliss after

Sheamus video package

Bobby Lashley (with MVP) defeated Lince Dorado (with Gran Metalik)

Samoa Joe & Keith Lee defeated Mace & T-Bar (with Mustafa Ali)

SmackDown – July, Week 3

Usos in-ring promo

Street Profits & The Mysterios defeated The Usos, Sami Zayn & Happy Corbin

Alpha Academy defeated Breezango

Ricochet defeated Apollo Crews

Bianca Belair – Tamina – Sasha Banks backstage segment

Edge defeated Jeff Hardy in a backstage brawl

Charlotte Flair backstage interview, Shotzi interrupts

Drew McIntyre defeated Seth Rollins by count out

Murphy backstage interview

Bianca Belair, Sasha Banks & Tamina defeated Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville & Shayna Baszler – Naomi interferes

Raw – July, Week 4

Retribution cut an in-ring promo, where Mustafa Ali tells Keith Lee ” This Sunday, when I win the WWE Championship, I will rid you of your pride. But tonight, WE will take, your, HEART!” …

AJ Styles (with Omos) defeated King Nakamura

Rhea Ripley video package

Liv Morgan confronts Carmella backstage

Asuka, Mickie James & Nikki A.S.H defeated The IIconics and Toni Storm – Alexa Bliss does ‘weird shit’ to Asuka after

Keith Lee backstage interview… interrupted by RECKONING!

Reckoning defeated Dana Brooke

The Hurt Business backstage promo

Sheamus defeated R-Truth in a backstage brawl

Io Shirai video package

‘British Strong Style’ in-ring promo, as Pete Dunne turns face and aligns with Moustache Mountain … this leads to a huge brawl when Imperium interrupt

Liv Morgan defeated Carmella in a No Holds Barred match

Keith Lee attacks Mace backstage

Mustafa Ali (with T-Bar) defeated Samoa Joe (with Keith Lee)

SmackDown – July, Week 4

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) in-ring promo, interrupted by Ricochet

Ricochet defeated Jinder Mahal

Edge in-ring promo, interrupted by Jeff Hardy (stipulation set for PPV match)

Shayna Baszler (with Sonya Deville) defeated Naomi (with Tamina)

Montez Ford (with Angelo Dawkins) defeated Dominik Mysterio (with Rey Mysterio)

Usos backstage promo

Tegan Nox & Shotzi defeated Charlotte Flair & Bayley

The New Day promo backstage

Murphy, Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens defeated Cesaro, Drew McIntyre & Finn Balor

Contract signing between Bianca Belair, Mandy Rose & Sasha Banks

The Usos (C) defeated The New Day to retain the SmackDown Tag Team titles – Roman Reigns interfered


The way I’m going to do this is explain each match’s unique and randomly decided stipulation and then show you what went down… I really quite enjoyed playing out this show on the game itself, and we finally had the first time a result went against what I wanted to happen… see if you can spot that… so here we go then… here is my third PPV in my 2k22 Universe Mode… CYBER SUNDAY!

Cyber Sunday – July, Sunday Week 4 (Miami, Florida)

We started our PPV with Raw tag team champions AJ Styles & Omos defending their titles…

Their opponents were to be 2 of the following (picked at random): Randy Orton, Damian Priest, Braun Strowman, Riddle, King Nakamura or R-Truth…

And the two names chosen at random were…

I had so much fun playing this out. They’ve finally released the first DLC, including OMOS! So no more shitty CAW Omos for me in my Universe Mode! Had to be the champs to retain here for me, I have big plans for them as a team and individually going forward…

Match 2 was the Raw Women’s title match between Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai… The stip for this tbd was either a Falls Count Anywhere match, TLC or Last Woman Standing… and it was the later of these that was chosen. This was one of the better matches I’ve ever had on this game, going a legitimate 25-30 minutes! So naturally it was impossible for me to upload the whole match of that… But I can assure you it was FANTASTIC!…

Rhea finally got the win, keeping Io down with Sledgehammer shots as she was already down. It was a very closely fought match with both women getting near-wins. I may have to run this one back…

Match 3 was between our Mr Money In The Bank Edge, and the Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy. To be randomly decided upon with this match was what would be at stake, The IC title or the MITB briefcase…

And with the MONEY IN THE BANK BRIEFCASE on the line, these two old rivals locked horns once again…

I was very happy with how this match turned out, particularly the finish. Jeff took most of the match, and Edge almost seemed to sneak the win with the Spear ‘out of nowhere’ for the win. I genuinely did consider either result regardless of what was at stake, but I think for the main ideas I have this was the result that made most sense to me.

Next up was another BANGER! Keith Lee vs Mustafa Ali, in either a match where the rest of Retribution would be banned from ringside, a No Holds Barred match or a Cage match! The stipulation selected would be NO HOLDS BARRED (A great chance for Keith Lee to unleash some of his anger on what Retribution had done to him in the recent weeks).

Another one I was very happy with! I LOVED the finish here, with Keith Lee SMASHING Ali through the table. Big Keith will walk into my biggest PPV so far (next up) holding the WWE Championship…

In not a Tables or an Extreme Rules match, but a LADDER match we would see the SmackDown Women’s championship on the line in a triple threat…

I’ll be honest… this finish was not my plan… but it worked out the way it did… and going into SummerSlam season, lets see what I do now that we have a new SmackDown Women’s Champion!!!

Our penultimate match of the PPV would be Sheamus defending his US title against one of the following: Samoa Joe, Pete Dunne, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison, Gran Metalik or Bobby Lashley… and we got:

Please forgive me for this finish… I didn’t want Sheamus to drop the title, and I didn’t want to beat Lashley. So I decided to have the heel champion, who has becoming increasingly agitated as the weeks have gone on and insecure as he tries desperately to keep hold of his championship. So I went with him being frustrated he couldn’t beat Lashley, and fearing for his chances of retaining he went and grabbed a chair and escaped. Yeah a weak finish, but I promise you with this Sheamus US title reign, the ends will justify the means…

And so for our main event, THE head of the table, tribal chief and Universal Champion…

His challenger would be randomly chosen out of… Ricochet, Montez Ford, Kofi Kingston… or…

This played out pretty much how I would’ve wanted to once it was Rey who was chosen. Another notch in the Reign of the Tribal Chief!

And so that’s how my Cyber Sunday PPV would end… or would it???

I want you next to skip to 35:10 of this YouTube video… and imagine in your mind that the Money In The Bank PPV logos and arena etc. is instead that of Cyber Sunday… and then you will SEE exactly how I’d of had my PPV finish…

The Summer of Cena has arrived to my Universe Mode!!!

Josh.

WWE 2K22 Universe Mode: Chapter 3 – Crowning Mr & Miss Money In The Bank!

Money In The Bank is one of my favourite WWE concepts. It just presents so many amazing booking opportunities, and in the past WWE have shown a number of ways (good and bad) that cash-ins, and reigns holding the briefcase can be played out. So I was very much looking forward to this part of my WWE 2K22 Universe Mode.

So part 3 will be the fallout from our first PPV (headlined by Roman Reigns retaining his Universal title), and the build to our second show ‘Money In The Bank’. As I’ve said I see this as a big show, so my card will be stacked and including both Men’s and Women’s Ladder matches. So… this is how I got my Universe Mode there…

Raw – June, Week 1

1- Raw Tag Team Championship: AJ Styles & Omos (C) defeat Viking Raiders & Moustache Mountain to retain

Walter backstage interview (on his win over Orton at WrestleMania Backlash, and his MITB qualifier later…)

Peyton Royce in-ring promo, before her match…

2. Women’s MITB Qualifier: Asuka defeated Peyton Royce (with Billie Kay)

3. Sheamus defeated King Nakamura

4. Lucha House Party defeated Mace & T-Bar

Rhea Ripley in-ring promo, interrupted by Toni Storm

5. Men’s MITB Qualifier: Walter defeated Braun Strowman

6. Riddle defeated Elias (I would plan for this to be very very quick. Sub-30 seconds I’d say.

Mustafa Ali promo package hyping up his match next week against Samoa Joe

7. Women’s MITB Qualifier: Carmella defeated Nikki A.S.H

Carmella backstage promo celebrating her win

Keith Lee in-ring promo, turns in to…

8. Bobby Lashley defeated Keith Lee – Backstage Brawl

SmackDown – June, Week 1

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) in-ring promo, interrupted by Kevin Owens, then Seth Rollins, then Finn Balor (to set up the main event match)… Drew McIntyre’s entrance then ends the segment…

1- Men’s MITB Qualifier: Drew McIntyre defeated Happy Corbin

Bianca Belair backstage interview

2. Ricochet defeated Humberto Carrillo

Sasha – Natalya confrontation backstage

3. The Usos defeated The New Day & Street Profits to become number one contenders for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship

4. Shayna Baszler defeated Bianca Belair in a Backstage Brawl

5. Jeff Hardy defeated Apollo Crews (C) to win the Intercontinental Championship

Jeff Hardy in-ring promo after his win

6. Men’s MITB Qualifier: Big E defeated Sami Zayn

Paul Heyman backstage interview

7. Women’s MITB Qualifier: Natalya (with Many Rose & Sonya Deville) defeated Sasha Banks (with Naomi & Tamina)

8. Finn Balor defeated Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens to become the new number 1 contender for the Universal Championship

Raw – June, Week 2

Bobby Lashley in-ring promo (with MVP), “I don’t wanna see Keith Lee until he hands me MY WWE Championship”

1- Women’s MITB Qualifier: Io Shirai defeated Mia Yim

Samoa Joe backstage promo on Mustafa Ali match

2. Walter (with Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) defeated Damian Priest – Miz & Morrison join in and all the heels attack Priest after the match

Rhea Ripley is backstage, when Carmella comes up and teases a future cash in

3. Asuka defeated Dana Brooke

4. Men’s MITB Qualifier: Riddle defeated Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott

Peyton Royce backstage promo with Billie Kay

5. Peyton Royce (with Billie Kay) defeated Nikki A.S.H – Mickie James comes out to console Nikki after

Mustafa Ali is interviewed backstage… but all he does is just smile at her when asked the first question, before walking away

6. Gran Metalik (with Lince Dorado) defeated AJ Styles (with Omos)

7. Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan defeated Toni Storm & Carmella

8. Men’s MITB Qualifier: Mustafa Ali defeated Samoa Joe – Mace and T-Bar help Ali win (reuniting Retribution)

SmackDown – June, Week 2

1- Women’s MITB Qualifier: Charlotte Flair defeated Tegan Nox (with Shotzi)

Rollins & Owens backstage segment with Ricochet

2. Drew McIntyre defeated Austin Theory

Shayna Baszler in-ring promo

3. Rey Mysterio (with Dominik Mysterio) defeated Jinder Mahal

Naomi and Tamina backstage segment with Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville

Jeff Hardy promo package

4. Jeff Hardy (C) defeated X-Pac to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) and Finn Balor have an in-ring sit-down talking segment

5. Sonya Deville defeated Tamina in a Backstage Brawl

6. Women’s MITB Qualifier: Mandy Rose defeated Naomi

7. Breezango defeated Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza

8. Men’s MITB Qualifier: Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens defeated Ricochet & Cesaro

Raw – June, Week 3

Retribution in-ring promo segment

1- Mickie James (with Nikki A.S.H) defeated Billie Kay (with Peyton Royce)

Sheamus promo (announcing the start of his won US title open challenge)

2. Sheamus (C) defeated Tyler Bate (with Trent Seven) to retain the United States Championship

Damian Priest backstage promo

3. Women’s MITB Qualifier: Liv Morgan defeated Mia Yim

Bobby Lashley (with MVP) in-ring promo, that is interrupted by Titus O’Neil

4. Bobby Lashley (with MVP) defeated Titus O’Neil

5. Omos (with AJ Styles) defeated Lince Dorado (with Gran Metalik)

6. Alexa Bliss defeated Mia Yim in a backstage brawl

Braun Strowman in-ring promo, interrupted by Imperium

7. Braun Strowman defeated Fabian Aichner (with Walter & Marcel Barthel)

Toni Storm – Rhea Ripley contract signing

8. Men’s MITB Qualifier: Randy Orton defeated The Miz & John Morrison & Pete Dunne & King Nakamura & Damian Priest in a Battle Royal

SmackDown – June, Week 3

Finn Balor in-ring promo, interrupted by Jey Uso

1- Big E (with Drew McIntyre) defeated Kevin Owens (with Seth Rollins)

2. Charlotte Flair defeated Tegan Nox

Bianca Belair backstage promo

3. Bianca Belair defeated Shayna Baszler in a backstage brawl

Bayley backstage promo

4. Sasha Banks & Naomi & Tamina defeated Natalya & Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville

5. New Day defeated Roode & Ziggler

Jeff Hardy promo package

6. Cesaro defeated Jinder Mahal

7. Women’s MITB Qualifier: Shotzi (with Tegan Nox) defeated Bayley

8. Finn Balor & Dominik Mysterio defeated The Usos

Raw – June, Week 4

Bobby Lashley (with MVP) in-ring promo, interrupted by Damian Priest

1- Riddle & Randy Orton defeated Mustafa Ali & Walter

Io Shirai backstage interview

2. John Morrison defeated Damian Priest in a backstage brawl

3. Alexa Bliss defeated Dana Brooke

4. Mickie James & Nikki A.S.H defeated The IIconics by count-out

Retribution backstage promo

5. Liv Morgan (with Rhea Ripley) defeated Carmella (with Toni Storm)

Sheamus in-ring promo

6. Sheamus (C) defeated Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott to retain the United States Championship

7. Io Shirai defeated Asuka

8. Bobby Lashley (with MVP) defeated Damian Priest by DQ, as Keith Lee returns and attacks Lashley and MVP. Raw ends with MVP getting thrown over the top rope onto Lashley, and Keith Lee standing tall with the WWE Championship.

SmackDown – June, Week 4

Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) in-ring promo

1- Bianca Belair & Naomi defeated Shayna Baszler & Sonya Deville

2. Jeff Hardy (C) won by DQ in a match for the Intercontinetal Championship against Ricochet after Apollo Crews attacked Ricochet, and then Hardy

Dominik Mysterio (with Rey Mysterio) in a backstage promo

3. Sami Zayn defeated X-Pac

4. Sasha Banks defeated Mandy Rose & Charlotte Flair & Shotzi

5. Drew McIntyre & Big E defeated Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens in a tornado tag

Street Profits backstage promo

6. Street Profits defeated Alpha Academy

7. Cesaro defeated Murphy

8. Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) defeated Dominik Mysterio

Finn Balor attacks Roman Reigns after his match


And so after that build up, it is now time for the PPV. And what a show this was, both in terms of results and the matches. My word this was a lot of fun to play out… Given both my ladder matches went legitimately OVER 40 minutes EACH, I wont have clips of all the matches on the card… But regardless here is how my MITB PPV played out…

Money In The Bank – June, Sunday Week 4 (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Match 1:

This would be a decent match, with Finn putting in an admirable performance. But the run of the Tribal Chief is far FAR from over…

After this, I would have the cameras cut to the backstage area, where Riddle is found laid out having been attacked. But nobody was around to see or knew who did it…

Match 2:

This was a heck of a long match in-real time. But Liv Morgan is the one who walks out of it with the briefcase. I feel like there’s a lot that can be done with her, and the potential there is limitless.

Match 3:

This would be a solid match, but Rhea takes the W.

Match 4:

This would be another solid affair, but it’s really The Usos time. All a part of The Bloodline dominating SmackDown.

At this point in the show, I would have it announced that Riddle (after the attack earlier in the show) would no longer be in the MITB match later. He will though be replaced…

Match 5:

Now THIS was a heck of a Last Man Standing match. After all the attacks and back and forth between these two, the feud ends here with Lee having to really get fired up to finally keep Lashley down. I loved how the finish came off here, as definitive as I wanted.

Match 6:

Fairy straight forward win for Bianca. As much as I like Shayna, Belair is the star. And at this point in the show as well, it’s really all about the main event…

Match 7:

So the replacement for Riddle wouldn’t be announced until he came out for the match (last of course)… and that would be… EDGE!

After what was a quite unbelievable match (so long that some 15 hours or so later I am STILL waiting for the video of the finish to be processed by YouTube, so that’ll have to wait… more videos next blog I promise), it is the returning EDGE who walks out (once again) as Mr Money In The Bank. He of course has history with this concept, having twice previously used the briefcase to become world champion (famously he was the first ever winner of the Money In The Bank case, and thus this eventually garnered him his first world championship). I’d have Edge kind of play his part in the match as a tweener, but as the weeks and months go on his character will become very clear…

So that was my Money In The Bank pay per view! I thought it went very well, as I had planned it to. And now this lets me do a number of things as the Universe Mode goes on. Next up is my Cyber Sunday PPV, which (to fit in with the theme of fan votes etc.) I will have a number of different factors regarding the PPV card, that I will dictate purely by chance what they are… but all that and more will be explained in the next blog post in this series…

You won’t be able to see what’s next…

Josh.

BLOG 250 – Apparently it’s WrestleMania… AGAIN… AGAIN!!!

Well here we are again… again. It’s the third year I’ve woke up and decided to write a blog on the morning of Night 1 of WrestleMania. Year 1 the pandemic had just begun, my own personal life was a mess, and the world looked pretty bleak… WrestleMania helped. Year 2 and my personal life again was in tatters, Pandemic was ongoing, but then once again WrestleMania helped. This time around and it appears the pandemic is at a stage that the world can JUST ABOUT handle it, although the world hasn’t totally got its act together just yet… my own personal life is certainly far better than it was this time last year, and the year before that also… so let’s see where that goes… but one thing is certain, WrestleMania is BACK! As we knew it, for the first time in the two night era it very much feels like WrestleMania weekend as we know it.

Today (Saturday) I’m in the process of watching ROH, GCW, AEW, WWE shows to have me caught up before NXT and WrestleMania later. Over 10 hours of catch up from Friday, then probably 7/8 hours live… and I LOVE it!

As I always say, whatever is happening on my life (in the bad times of the past, or even right now when I’m doing pretty good), wrestling is always there. And even though I’ve not exactly been enamoured with the way WWE run their company or their TV product in the last few months, WrestleMania does feel like the show of shows. And to be honest I actually think both nights should be (at worst) FUN, I for one am looking forward to it. Sure some matches I could give or take, but there’s 5/6 matches across both nights that I cannot WAIT for…

Night 1

Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs Becky Lynch (C) – I love this match up. I’ve really enjoyed this slow turn of Becky into a crazed heel, and I think this will only go up a few notches if/when she loses her title. Bianca is an absolute star, I’ve thought as much ever since I saw her in NXT. None of her successes surprise me too much, and I hope she gets her moment once again here.

The Mysterios vs The Miz & Logan Paul – Can’t say I’m all that fussed about this, but it’ll be fun I know that. I could see all possibilities here, so I’m just gonna let it entertain me… we shall see…

Drew McIntyre vs Happy Corbin (with Madcap Moss) – absolutely not a Mania worthy match, but I would say that about most things given my love of Drew. I heard someone say they wanted to see McIntyre hit the Claymore right away and it be over… that wouldn’t upset me I can’t lie… but although he’s had an awful run of gimmicks, I do think Corbin gets way too much stick as a performer. And people don’t see how good a worker he is either… maybe this is the time to give Drew the End Of Days kick out??? We shall see, but these are two great-good workers so maybe they’ll surprise us…

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (C) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs – Feel like this is a theme, but this doesn’t feel Mania worthy to me… maybe we get new champs? Maybe it’s just a good match? 4 very good workers so the match I don’t worry about at all, but me personally I wouldn’t beat The Usos here…

Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs Sheamus & Ridge Holland – This isn’t really ‘Mania level’ either, but this can be given a pass on that front. Seems pretty obvious to me that prior to his recent injury, this match was surely going to be a 6 man tag, and the reunion of The New Day with Big E alongside his brothers. But it was not to be… again this should be lots of fun… and maybe the result here sets up the next challengers for whoever wins the tag title match?

Seth Rollins vs… ??? – Say what you will, but I’ve LOVED the way Seth has led the build to this. He’s been one of my favourite characters on WWE TV for a little while now, and I’m happy he’s getting this big spot on the WrestleMania card. Ofc we all know who we think and want it to be… there’s so many rumours and yes and no, and he’s signed and he’s gonna back out… but let’s just see shall we. I know the crowd and majority watching on tv won’t accept anyone else… but hopefully Seth’s Road to WrestleMania hasn’t all been smoke and mirrors, and his American dreams don’t turn into nightmares , dashed before our eyes… we shall see…

The KO show (with special guest Stone Cold Steve Austin) – this will be something for sure… I presume Kevin Owens will come out, talk, Austin will come out to a huge pop, they’ll go back and forth verbally and then get into a wild brawl. And Austin will drink some beers and we will all love it. Same old with Austin but… ITS STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN FOR FUCK SAKE, so LETS FUCKING GOOOOOO!!!

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair (C) – people don’t seem all that excited for this one, not universally anyway… idk why… it’s a HUGE match up. Are we forgetting how good their first match was? I think if they go and have a fight it’ll be great. If they try and wrestle it might be tricky, but I’m confident enough will of gone into this match to make it pretty good. Given she’s sticking around I’m almost certain Ronda will win, but having Rousey hold your belt can only elevate it surely?

Night 2

Fatal 4 way match for the Women’s Tag titles – Lots of good talents in this match, but it feels like the women’s tag titles are just token on the Mania card. Since their inception we’ve had them ONCE contested at a WrestleMania in a straight tag match, discounting last year where there was a qualifier on night 1 to get the title match on night 2. I don’t know who you reverse the course and make these titles genuinely important, at this point they may already be a lost cause… but for me, I can’t bare to see Sasha Banks go 0-7 at Wrestlemanias … so I hope her and Naomi win.

Johnny Knoxville vs Sami Zayn – so it’s Anything goes here, which means it’ll be wild and a lot of fun. Will it be technically spectacular? No of course not. But we know Zayn is excellent, and Knoxville has made his life from taking crazy bumps and stunts, so this will be something that’s for sure… I guess you’d go Zayn to win? Or maybe not but either way this will be fun…

Pat McAfee vs Austin Theory – having seen what he did in NXT, I think people will be happily surprised by Pat in this one. It’s a very random feud, but hey this will be a good watch. Pat has to win doesn’t he? Doesn’t he???

Raw Tag Team Championship: RK-Bro (C) vs Street Profits vs Alpha Academy – in-ring wise this should be GREAT. Good workers all round here, so wrestling wise it’ll be fun, and they’re all fairly over so the crowd should love it. It all depends what they wanna do with these long term that will dictate the result, my guess (purely because I don’t feel It’s time to split them or see them lose) would be the champions retain…

Edge vs AJ Styles – I cannot WAIT for this one! Two incredible wrestlers, a proper WrestleMania worthy dream match! I adore this new heel Edge with the BANGER music, and with talk of a faction led by him coming soon, I see him winning here. Maybe with help from the new team we shall see, but this could well be the best match of both nights!

Bobby Lashley vs Omos – god I hope this isn’t very long… it’ll be some sight to see these two wrestle, it was certainly a sight to see Lashley knock Omos off his feet on Raw. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been a Bobby Lashley mark since 2007, so maybe I’m biased but I’m low-let excited for this one! Result wise… I mean you shouldn’t beat Omos, cause when you do… what next? Although maybe Lashley could face the winner of the main event next up, given he has history with both men… but the best idea I’ve heard all week was the MVP betrays Lashley and manages Omos after this going forward, so I would LOVE to see that! Fingers crossed.

Winner takes all match to Unify the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) vs Roman Reigns (C) (with Paul Heyman) – look, I get Roman vs Brock again bores people… but you know what? FUCK OFF! This is a totally different Brock and a totally different Reigns, and both different for the better! I’ve loved this build up, and I think this match is gonna be carnage. Let’s think about the title situation after, they’ll do whatever they wanna do and I’m sure people will be annoyed but fuck it… it is what it is… As fans let’s just enjoy what we’ve got here, two genuine mega stars in a WrestleMania main event that definitely feels as such. Two very good wrestlers, two huge dudes and it all should equal an absolute war. Roman has to win surely, at least if my dream scanerio is to come true he does…

Then MAYBE… we will see what Roman can smell…

So that’s the Mania line up… the strongest ever? No. But some genuine dream matches? Yes for sure! I think people will be pleasantly surprised. WrestleMania 31 had low expectations and people now say it was one of the better Manias in recent times… so who knows? I for one am excited. Seems a long time at this very moment until I can get there, I’m currently finishing the ROH show before I have GCW, Rampage, SmackDown AND hall of fame to view all before NXT Stand and Deliver and of course the first night of the big one.

But this weekend is the highlight of my year, and whilst I’m in a very much better place mental health wise than I was this time the last two years, it’s still like Christmas to us wrestling fans. So whatever you think, and whatever company you’ll be watching this weekend, have fun and ENJOY!

Josh.

WWE 2K22 Universe Mode: Chapter 2 – Our First Pay Per View!

Well, after one of the worst games of all time with WWE 2K20, 2K22 has proven to be universally more rated. It’s a giant leap forward for the franchise, and a much needed one too! I’m very much enjoying this game so far, mainly down to my on-going Universe Mode… which seamlessly brings me on to Chapter 2 of my ongoing series.

With chapter 1 focusing on the initial set-up and opening show of my own WWE (PS4) Universe, this time around I will look at the shows leading up to and including my first PPV, WrestleMania Backlash! But before I get to the big show itself, here’s the results from the shows I did to lead up to it and to put the main card together…

As I mentioned last time, the Universe Mode on 2K22 no longer has promo segments which you can add in, so you will have to allow me some creative license along the way to help me explain things, interspersed with the actual matches I put together in the game.

I will run through the weekly shows a lot quicker than I did in my last blog, as the main focus of this one will be the PPV itself.

Raw – May, Week 2

Lashley & MVP call out Keith Lee, Benjamin & Alexander attack

1: Rhea Ripley beats Liv Morgan

Bliss promo on titantron to Ripley

2. Walter (with Aichner & Barthel) beats Titus O’Neil

Walter promo on Orton

AJ Styles & Omos backstage promo on tag division

3. Moustache Mountain beat Miz & Morrison (Priest interference)

4. Sheamus beats R-Truth

Carmella backstage interview teasing a ‘surprise’

5. Samoa Joe beats Mustafa Ali

Riddle-Pete Dunne backstage confrontation

6. Mia Yim & Nikki A.S.H beats Carmella & Maryse

Io Shirai promo package

7. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott beats Drew Gulak

8. Keith Lee & King Nakamura beat Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander (with MVP)

SmackDown – May, Week 2

Sasha Banks in-ring, confronted by Charlotte Flair

1: Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) & Jimmy Uso beat Cesaro & X-Pac

2. Seth Rollins beat Finn Balor – Backstage Brawl

3. Street Profits beat Alpha Academy

Big E backstage promo on all in his match later

4. Murphy beats Oney Lorcan

5. Big E, Ricochet & Jeff Hardy beats Sami Zayn, Happy Corbin & Apollo Crews

Bayley-Bianca backstage confrontation

Roode&Ziggler in-ring promo

6. Robert Roode (with Dolph Ziggler) beats Dominik Mysterio (with Rey Mysterio)

Drew McIntyre backstage interview (on the Rollins-Balor brawl)

7. Drew McIntyre beats Kevin Owens

8. Charlotte Flair beats Sasha Banks (with a run-in/interference from Natalya)

Raw – May, Week 3

1: Io Shirai & Toni Storm beats Dana Brooke & Liv Morgan

Lashley backstage promo with MVP

2. Samoa Joe beats Elias

Mustafa Ali promo

3. Moustache Mountain beat Lucha House Party

Riddle backstage segment with Swerve

4. AJ Styles (with Omos) beats Mansoor

AJ Styles promo on the tag division and Moustache Mountain

Keith Lee backstage promo

Miz in-ring promo on Damian Priest

5. Braun Strowman beats The Miz (with John Morrison)

6. Viking Raiders beat Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aicher (Randy Orton interference)

Ripley-Bliss in-ring segment

7. Riddle beats Pete Dunne & Isaiah Swerve Scott in a triple threat number 1 contenders match for the US title

8. Bobby Lashley (with MVP) beats King Nakamura (with Keith Lee)

SmackDown – May, Week 3

Apollo Crews in-ring promo

1: Jeff Hardy beats Ricochet & Sami Zayn & Happy Corbin in a fatal 4 way number 1 contender’s match for the IC title

Bianca Belair backstage interview

2. Bianca Belair beats Shayna Baszler with Bayley on commentary

Sasha Banks backstage interview

3. The Usos beat Breezango

Finn Balor backstage interview

4. Finn Balor beats Murphy

5. Tegan Nox & Shotzi beat Toni Storm & Io Shirai in the semi final of the women’s tag title tournament

6. Rey Mysterio (with Dominik Mysterio) beats Dolph Ziggler (with Robert Roode)

7. Sasha Banks & Naomi beat Charlotte Flair & Natalya

8. Apollo Crews (C) beats Big E in a Falls Count Anywhere match to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Raw – May, Week 4

Randy Orton promo

1: Randy Orton beats Fabian Aichner

IIconics promo

2. Damian Priest & Braun Strowman beat The Miz & John Morrison

3. Alexa Bliss beat Dana Brooke

Ripley goes eye to eye with Bliss from the ramp

4. Sheamus (C) beats Riddle to retain the United States Championship

Mia Yim & Nikki A.S.H backstage promo

5. Toni Storm (with Io Shirai) beat Mickie James

6. Mustafa Ali beat R-Truth

Ali promo on Samoa Joe

backstage segment with AJ Styles – Tyler Bate – Erik

7. The IIconics beat Mia Yim & Nikki A.S.H in a women’s tag title tournament semi final

Contract signing: Keith Lee – Bobby Lashley turns into:

8. Backstage Brawl where Keith Lee beats Bobby Lashley

SmackDown – May, Week 4

‘The Bloodline’ in-ring promo, interrupted by Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods

1: Charlotte Flair beat Naomi

Mysterios interview backstage

2. Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio (C) beat Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode to retain the SmackDown Tag Team titles

3. Jeff Hardy beat Jinder Mahal (with Apollo Crews)

Jeff & Apollo go eye to eye

4. Peyton Royce (with Billie Kay) beat Tegan Nox (with Shotzi)

5. Austin Theory beat Ricochet by cheating

Ricochet in-ring interview

Cesaro backstage promo

6. Finn Balor beats Kevin Owens by DQ

7. Tamina beat Natalya

8. Roman Reigns & The Usos beat Cesaro, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods in a 6 man tag match

And so finally it is time for MY WrestleMania Backlash PPV! It went a little something like:

WrestleMania Backlash – May, Sunday Week 4 (Fort Worth, Texas)

Match 1:

I’d go Bianca to retain here. Just as she did over Bayley on this show irl, all about building Belair at this point. And a win on PPV here against a former champion is a big scalp.

Match 2:

This is absolutely a dream match, and I feel like now is not the time to beat Walter. That combined with Orton more than being able to take a loss, means there was only one way I was going to have this match go.

Match 3:

I feel like you need these sort of matches on any Pay per View, just the total carnage, action-packed fun fests. Sheamus retains as I don’t want to stop his reign just yet…

Match 4:

As we get to the middle of the show I’m gonna keep the action going with a combination of big stars, and a gimmick match. The babyfaces go over to please the fans, but no real damage done to the losing heels either, so win-win.

Match 5:

One of my missions of this Universe Mode is to try and do what WWE have failed to do, make the women’s tag titles MEAN SOMETHING! So I’ve gone with The IIconics as my first champions, they are a known TEAM rather than just two singles competitors thrown together, plus as heels I feel I can book them into some real heat, until I’ve built up challengers with enough steam to get the big win.

Match 6:

Yes… I know… a dusty finish in a world title match on PPV isn’t ideal. But I don’t want Lee to lose the title, and I want to protect Lashley… I will get to a long term feud ender between these two, now isn’t that time…

Match 7:

I see this as a big time match in the women’s division. But as much as I like Bliss, I feel in a similar way to Belair, Rhea Ripley could do with another big name win. Having won the rematch with Asuka, a win here over Bliss continues a strong start to her title reign. There’s a lot of moving parts in my ideas for the women’s division across both my shows, but one thing I want to do is always keep my champions strong.

Match 8:

Another lifelike booking here, with the same main event in my game as WWE booked in reality. Tried my best to make the match good, but it’s all about The Tribal Chief here.

So there we go, another blog post in this series and my first month and PPV done. Next time I’ll be building up to a huge PPV with Money In The Bank featuring both men’s and women’s ladder matches, plus all the world titles at stake.

You think you know what’s next?

Josh.

WWE 2K22 Universe Mode: Chapter 1 – MY WWE Universe Begins!

Throughout my over 3 years over running my blog site, I have covered various wrestling related topics; from full coverage and reviews of shows, top 10 lists and compilations, opinion pieces, reviews of classic shows, and have even branched out occasionally into different sports and other interests of mine. But now in this series, I will combine two of my loves in blog format… Gaming and Wrestling. If you follow the current day WWE product, the booking and creative of the shows has been… questionable for some time now, so in previous years I would use the WWE games as my way of doing wrestling and the storylines how I thought they should go. The games would act almost as my therapy to forget about the awful TV I was watching on a regular basis. And after a couple of year hiatus after WWE 2K20 was roundly critiqued as one of THE worst wrestling games ever made, WWE 2K returned with the 2022 edition. And… it is GREAT! SO FAR, SO GOOD! Gameplay is so different for the better, the roster features many of those released by WWE in recent months, so any worries about the game roster being thin have been firmly put to bed. And, most importantly for me, there is Universe Mode once again.

Universe Mode, for those who aren’t aware, is exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you the chance to create your own WWE Universe! You chose the weekly shows, the PPVs, the rosters, who wins the matches and who are the champions. You can make it as realistic or as fantasy as you want… and I LOVE IT! I’ve always loved being able to escape into something fun, and Universe Mode gives me the perfect chance to do just that. The Universe Mode begins in the first week of May, with the idea that begins at the start of a new WWE ‘season’ just after WrestleMania. So for my Universe Mode I will treat it as if I am taking over the WWE Universe immediately following WrestleMania last year (Mania 37), and also I will only feature Raw and SmackDown (no NXT, absolutely not any NXT 2.0). As in real life I will have Raw on Mondays and SmackDown on Fridays, with Pay Per Views taking place on the 4th Sunday at the end of each month. Those PPVs will follow this schedule (based upon the arenas available to use in the game) :

May – WrestleMania Backlash (Fort Worth, Texas)

June – Money In The Bank (Charlotte, North Carolina)

July – Cyber Sunday (Miami, Florida)

August – SummerSlam (Las Vegas, Nevada)

September – Clash Of Champions (Columbus, Ohio)

October – The Horror Show at Extreme Rules (Detroit, Michigan)

November – Survivor Series (Brooklyn, New York)

December – Payback (Atlanta, Georgia)

January – Royal Rumble (St Louis, Missouri)

February – Elimination Chamber (New York, New York)

March – Fastlane (Toronto, Canada)

April – WrestleMania (Arlington, Texas)

So… a few things I should mention… firstly, as the game can only do so much, I like to use my imagination and creative license to make things make sense in my head. So I largely base stuff from reality, but as I’ve said how I would do things. I don’t particularly like ‘gimmick’ PPV shows, unless they have a real purpose… so the rumble sets up mania, and the chamber can do, but that’s why no Hell In A Cell or TLC in my calendar. When I feel it right to have those match types, I’ll do them. Cyber Sunday was an arena in the game that comes from the Rey Mysterio showcase mode, hence why that’s in. As for WHERE the shows are at in the game, it’s loosely based from the actual WWE PPV calendar, with a couple of changes such as taking the chamber PPV to New York (the idea I would have is it would be at MSG), and taking Fastlane to Canada, because… why not?

The next major aspect of Universe Mode is the roster. This is something that has been subject to much speculation as a whole in the run-up to this game’s release, given the vast amount of talent released by WWE in the last year or so. To the surprise of many, turns out a fair amount of those let go by WWE still feature in this game, which is great news and makes my life a lot easier. Yes the community creations (where other players create their own versions of wrestlers via the creation suite in the game) can be used for those not included in the game, but they are of course not quite as good as proper versions. There are a few notable absentees from the game, mainly those who have since gone to AEW (Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, Ruby Riott) but maybe the biggest absentee is The Fiend, which… naturally makes me sad. So none of those will feature in my Universe Mode. I have worked a lot on making my Raw and SmackDown rosters as fun as possible, as I pick things up the night after WrestleMania in 2021. So with that being said all the titles and champions as they were after that show, will be the case to start off my Universe Mode. The one exception being I have vacated the women’s tag titles, with new champions to be decided later via a tournament… but I will get into that later… I have also replaced both the US and Intercontinental belts used and gone back to the previous versions of each of those.

For now… let me get into the start of my Universe Mode. Beginning with Raw on Monday of the first week of May (so in effect, this will be my ‘Raw after Mania’). The major difference in this Universe Mode compared to previous years is they have removed the promo segment part of when you book your shows, so it is purely just matches now. Which is cool, because it means more of a focus on the gameplay, but in order for my Universe Mode to make more sense during my blog series, I will add little notes as to what sort of promo segments etc. I would’ve done if I was able to, to set up various matches and angles. So here is how I went with my very first Raw of my WWE 2K22 Universe Mode!

Raw – May, Week 1

For my opening match I wanted to start off BIG… This was actually one of the very first ideas I had when I decided to do another Universe Mode…

I would have WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and MVP come out to kick off the NEW ERA of Monday Night Raw. They would cut a promo similar to the one they cut ahead of this actual match taking place on the July 19th 2021 Raw. The Open challenge would of course be answered by…

Yes indeed! In my very first match… the NEW WWE CHAMPION, is KEITH LEE! Starting things off in THE biggest way possible with a sign of things to come!

Next I would have Alexa Bliss backstage, doing a segment very much like her one from the post-Mania Raw explaining her betrayal of The Fiend at WrestleMania the night prior. With no Fiend in this game, I am now going to have to think of something else to do with Bliss as my Universe Mode goes forward…

Bliss then beats Mickie James, in fairly convincing fashion.

Match 3 is another big one, Mustafa Ali has to come up against SAMOA JOE! Another name since departed WWE, I am so happy he’s in this game. He is going to be a big part of my plans…

Match 4 is a big deal. Randy Orton teaming with the returning Viking Raiders to take on…

Yes indeed, Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and WALTER are all going to be a part of my Monday Night Raw roster (I will pretend Walter lose his NXT UK title to Dragunov already at this point).

What I would have done here for the match is it’s all out action-packed BRAWL! And eventually Imperium become frustrated that they can’t get the win… so I’d have Barthel grab a chair and begin the beatdown on the babyface team. Walter and Aichner join them and lay Erik, Ivar and Orton all out after the bell is rung for the DQ.

Next one is a reward for Damian Priest’s tag win with Bad Bunny the night prior at WrestleMania, only his opponent Sheamus has some familiar aide at ringside…

Sheamus retains, and I’d have Miz and Morrison help him to protect Priest (who I like A LOT).

My next match would be the start of what I referred to earlier. The Women’s tag titles coming out of WrestleMania in 2021 were held by Shayna Baszler and… her tag team partner… So I’m just vacating them and crowning new champions to be honest. Nothing more than that… the road to get me there begins here, with the REUNITED IIconics (why the fuck would you EVER split them up, let alone release them is beyond me)…

Next is another new arrival to my Raw roster…

And then finally, my main event. A WrestleMania rematch, but this time a STEEL Cage match!

(This was one of the most fun matches I’ve played on this game so far by the way).

And now we are done with Raw… time for SmackDown to have a go!

SmackDown – May, Week 1

SmackDown I’d have begin (as Raw did) with the champion. Roman Reigns and the rest of The Bloodline (including Jimmy Uso who I’d bring back right away). Eventually Cesaro (fresh from a WrestleMania win over Seth Rollins) interrupts and wants a shot at the Universal title. Roman laughs him off, but says he will give Cesaro a chance… if he can beat Jey Uso in the main event of SmackDown later.

Match 1 I’d kick off with a bang… Oh and I changed Dolph’s music by the way, to go back to his ‘I am Perfection’ theme… because it BANGS!

Yeah, another opening match title change, but needs must…

If I was able to, I’d of then had SmackDown Women’s champion Bianca Belair be interrupted backstage by Bayley… and this would lead to the women’s tag match later…

Match 2… more straightforward, crowd pleasing stuff.

I’d have Finn Balor (having just dropped the NXT title) return to the main roster, but Kevin Owens would soon interrupt feeling the spotlight should be more on him instead. From here Seth Rollins jumps Balor, setting up their match later…

Match 3 is another team looking to get closer to the women’s tag titles…

Match 4, again looks a good match to me on paper to make the fans happy.

Match 5… and with Owens in Rollins’ corner, Balor got some back up too…

But it still wasn’t enough and Rollins gets the win.

Match 6 I’d have preceded by Austin Theory issuing an open challenge…

Yes, X-Pac! I just thought it be something different… no real plans for him at the moment, but lets see…

Match 7 could maybe be my main event, but star-studded either way…

I’d be very clear here to have Bayley pin Sasha and thus putting her in the frame to be Bianca’s first challenger…

And finally, the main event…

Justice for Cesaro. They never did him good enough, I will try my best to change that. Cesaro gets the shot at Reigns.

And so with my first couple of shows in the books, I should probably tell you all the full rosters for both shows. Didn’t have a chance to get everyone on the first week, but over time they’ll all come into play, and that way makes each show more fun and interesting with the numerous possibilities.

Raw roster

WWE Champion: Keith Lee – F – Meaning ‘face’ as in, he/she is a good guy. You’ll see how I decide and balance my rosters that way.

Contenders: Bobby Lashley – H (With MVP – H) // Walter – H // Mustafa Ali – H

Randy Orton – F // Samoa Joe – F

Raw Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley – F

Alexa Bliss – H // Io Shirai – H // Toni Storm – H // Carmella – H // Peyton Royce – H // Billie Kay – H //

Asuka – F // Nikki A.S.H – F // Liv Morgan – F // Mia Yim – F // Mickie James – F

United States Champion: Sheamus – H

Riddle – F // Damian Priest – F // King Nakamura – F

Pete Dunne – H // Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott – H

Raw Tag Team Champions: AJ Styles & Omos – H

Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) – F // Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) – F // Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) – F

Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) – H // The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander) – H

Others (these are names I will have on the roster of a brand, but just to either fill gaps or to give them the license to go in wherever and against whoever I see fit):

  • Braun Strowman – F
  • R-Truth – F
  • Dana Brooke – F
  • Drew Gulak – F
  • Mansoor – F
  • Titus O’Neil – F
  • The Miz – H
  • John Morrison – H
  • Maryse – H
  • T-Bar – H
  • Mace – H
  • Elias – H

SmackDown roster

Universal Champion: Roman Reigns – H (with Paul Heyman)

Cesaro – F // Drew McIntyre – F // Finn Balor – F

Seth Rollins – H // Kevin Owens – H

SmackDown Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair – F

Bayley – H // Charlotte Flair – H // Shayna Baszler – H // Mandy Rose – H // Sonya Deville – H // Natalya – H

Sasha Banks – F // Naomi – F // Tamina – F // Tegan Nox – F // Shotzi – F

Intercontinental Champion: Apollo Crews – H

Big E – F // Ricochet – F // Jeff Hardy – F

Happy Corbin – H // Sami Zayn – H

SmackDown Tag Team Champions: Rey & Dominik Mysterio – F

Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode – H // The Usos (Jimy & Jey) – H // Alpha Academy (Chad Gable & Otis) – H

Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) – F // The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) – F

  • Tyler Breeze – F
  • Fandango – F
  • Kushida – F
  • Oney Lorcan – F
  • Kalisto – F
  • X-Pac – F
  • Jinder Mahal – H
  • Austin Theory – H
  • Humberto Carrillo – H
  • Angel Garza – H
  • Murphy – H
  • Akira Tozawa – H

So that’s where I’m leaving things for now. I’m sure I will why I’ve called up and put certain people in certain spots on certain shows as the Universe Mode goes along. But I’m very happy with both my rosters, I think they have a great balance to them. I’m happy to answer any questions and take any ideas or recommendations for things I could do across this series.

Going forward I will probably format these posts as running through the 3/4 weeks of Raw and SmackDown and/or the monthly Pay-Per-Views per blog. But I’ll experiment with it as I go forward.

Oh, and as for some notable names I’ve not included in my rosters, don’t worry. I’ve not forgot about them, just trying to spread my load… you could say… I’ve got a full year of WWE to plan so I can’t rush anything. I do have many long term plans with some BIG names… so keep your eyes peeled… this is a computer game after all so I can literally do ANYTHING I want…

Josh.

the Anti Elite Wrestlekingdom

Seven in the Chamber: Tama Tonga on 7 Years of BULLET CLUB (2/2) | NEW  JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING

At the start of 2019, no question that the biggest story in wrestling, was maybe one of the biggest wrestling stories in decades… All Elite Wrestling was going to be a thing. Led by Tony Khan we would soon see the likes of Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Adam Page and later Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega as the star names that would lead the company going forward. Now whilst most of us were delighted and very excited about this new promotion, there were some losers from the creation of AEW… WWE had eyes on every member of The Elite, and the talks between Triple H and Matt & Nick Jackson have been well publicized… I even recall speaking to a friend at one point when my GENUINE belief was that Kenny Omega would win the Royal Rumble match that year… Although difficult to say an exact date, at some point during this time; Cody, Adam Page and The Young Bucks are all offered deals to join WWE. Those deals included creative freedom for them to go on either the main roster or NXT, a home for all their digital content (presumably this meant Being The Elite being on the WWE Network). It appears WWE had seen the success of the All In show and decided to act. The Hangman was offered ‘main roster money to work NXT’ where he would’ve been pushed as one of the brand’s top stars, Cody and The Bucks would’ve got great financial deals comparable to the then recently dethroned WWE Champion AJ Styles. They would’ve also been given maybe the most amazing caveat of the lot… reportedly they were to be given a 6 month window should they sign, basically allowing them to walk away from WWE after 6 months of their 3 year deals should they be unhappy with how things had worked out to that point. Plans were even in place to have the group debut at the 2019 Royal Rumble PPV with a ‘significant storyline from Rumble to Mania’.

But… after 12 hours of talks with Triple H… it was not to be… And of course with The Elite heading to begin AEW, it would mean them cutting ties with their former homes Ring Of Honor in the US, and New Japan Pro Wrestling internationally.

Now think about this… sure New Japan have lost big names in recent years (to WWE) and even lost Gallows & Anderson, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura all at the same time one year… And they seemed to take it as well as they could (Gallows & Anderson got to do a proper farewell and Styles and Nakamura had a BANGER of a match at that year’s Wrestle Kingdom)… This time around things turned out VERY different… Off the back of the growth of the Bullet Club, and the increase in business and interest in the company after the Jericho vs Omega match and the amazing Okada vs Omega series, New Japan’s growth sky-rocketed. They had made plans for a WrestleMania weekend supershow alongside ROH at the famous Madison Square Garden, where you’d of thought that those names who were AEW bound would feature… but of course it wouldn’t turn out that way…

Now I will try and give you a quick timeline of what news broke and what took place in the days leading up to the Wrestle Kingdom show of 2019 on January 4th, just to try and give you an idea of how quickly things seemed to develop, and how things changed so dramatically…

  • December 18th 2018: At Ring Of Honor’s final PPV of the year ‘Final Battle’; Adam Page loses in the opener, Cody loses the semi main, and The Young Bucks fail to win in the main event of the show.
  • January 1st 2019: All Elite Wrestling, as well as their first PPV ‘Double Or Nothing’ are officially announced. The re veal taking place on a Being The Elite episode with the Young Bucks, Cody and Adam Page featured. Brandi Rhodes and the SCU group are featured in the advertising notes for a rally event scheduled for January 8th, with other ‘special guests’ teased.
  • January 2nd 2019: A statement confirms Cody, Matt & Nick Jackson will be EVPs for AEW as well as in-ring performers.
  • January 3rd 2019: On the eve of New Japan’s biggest show of the year, rumours are abound that their reigning champion Kenny Omega would be joining his fellow Elite members in their new venture. With his contract expiring he is also linked with a shocking defection over to WWE. Chris Jericho, in the semi-main of the same Wrestle Kingdom show, is also linked with the new company. Those rumours only intensify after Jericho days earlier posted a picture of him attending a Jacksonville Jaguars NFL game (the team owned and ran by the same Khan family that now own and run AEW).

So given all these names were to be a part of New Japan’s biggest show of the year, and Kenny Omega was in the main event of the show as defending champion, now what? We all pretty much knew what was going on with regards to these guys’ future, but think about just how much they had each contributed to New Japan’s growth… And I will also add (before I get in to talking about the show itself) there were plenty of ideas at the very start of AEW that they could/would partner up with NJPW (they eventually did as we know… but it took a LONG time and a change of president for New Japan), it became very apparent very quickly that the clauses in many AEW contracts that would allow various wrestlers to go and work for New Japan wouldn’t be being activated any time soon… Put it this way… New Japan, their then president Harold Meij and head booker Gedo did NOT appear to take these departures well AT ALL…

Now… what you have to bare in mind when I talk about this show and the results, is that when Wrestle Kingdom 13 took place we still weren’t sure if/what any potential New Japan-AEW partnership or relationship would or wouldn’t look like. At this point (given we were DAYS since AEW was even announced officially as a thing) EVERYTHING really was still a possibility… and so when it comes to this show at the Tokyo Dome, when looking at booking of the matches we really didn’t know how much the creation of AEW would influence how the show would go. So I’ll run down the matches on the show that include talent that were talked about or would eventually sign with AEW… I would do the full show but honestly it was so incredibly good (I watched it back for this blog and it was such a pleasure), I don’t think I’d be able to do this show justice in this blog so I think just talking about certain matches would be fairer…

So… let me run you through just some of the matches on the card and give you some more background on storylines and build up and what the ‘rumour and innuendo’ was about certain names was at that time…

  • The Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe and Toru Yano) and Ryusuke Taguchi vs Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb and David Finlay vs Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Beretta and Chuckie T) vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs The Elite (Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi and Marty Scurll) (with Chase Owens and Pieter) – Adam Page’s ROH and NJPW deals were approaching expiry, so there was plenty of speculation he would be on his way to the newly forming AEW. Here he was part of the… maybe the phrase would be ‘lesser-pushed’ members of Bullet Club in the show’s pre-show match. This was to crown the number 1 contenders for the NEVER Openweight 6-man titles, so you’d think the winners would be featured in the future when they want to do the match with the champions (which they actually did at their New Year’s Dash show the day after the Tokyo Dome show)
  • Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) (with Bad Luck Fale and Jado) vs Los Ingobernables de Japón (Sanada and Evil) vs The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) – The Young Bucks were seen as one of the lead names heading to AEW, and had even made a BTE storyline out of Triple H’s and WWE’s attempted signing of them. Matt Jackson has even said since that (during this time) he at one point told his wife that ‘I think we’re going to WWE’
  • Juice Robinson vs Cody (with Brandi Rhodes) – Given the ongoing storyline New Japan had been telling between Juice and Cody over the IWGP US title, the result here seemed to point to Juice getting his big moment… regardless the rumours still persisted that Cody would be another to join AEW… or even WWE too. Triple H and WWE were said to want ALL of The Elite and Cody was absolutely a part of that. Given his name value from his time in WWE many assumed that after his spell away from the company and how successful that had been, they would have no issue in brining him back now (in a fashion they have since done with Drew McIntyre for example), and make him a top star.
  • Tetsuya Naito vs Chris Jericho – Give Jericho had beaten Naito at Dominion the previous year, many assumed that regardless of contractual talk around Jericho that he would do the honours back to Naito here. For the longest time Jericho had said he would never work in the US for anyone other than Vince McMahon, and aside from his cameo at the ALL IN show he had done just that. He even went back to WWE to do the Greatest Royal Rumble show after his previous WrestleKingdom match (a match in which he even spoke to Vince McMahon about to gain his thoughts on). So Jericho was another big free agent who seemingly had all offers and options on the table…
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kenny Omega – We have seen it so many times in the past where you have as big main event title match, but you know one guy is leaving so you assume the result… and as we grew closer to this show the speculation around Kenny Omega (who’s New Japan deal was up towards the end of January) only heightened with each day. All indications and reports pointed to Omega leaving New Japan, and for he also the WWE seemingly open offer was there, but so to was the chance to start-up AEW with some of his closest friends. This story has been built as a battle between two styles and philosophies on wrestling, but the increasing rumours of Omega leaving New Japan seemed to go hand in hand with a slight twist to the storytelling, that more and more presented Omega’s opinion as the more heelish of the two…

So what happened at the show then? Well, if you were watching the show with your Elite fanboy-tinted eyes like I was, it was not a fun show for you…

Makabe, Yano and Taguchi won the pre show match, Sanada & Evil won the tag titles, Juice Robinson won the US title (although this one had been built up for a long time story-wise, so you probably saw this one coming). The Elite were 0-3. Elsewhere the semi-main was an absolute brawl between Naito and Jericho, and it was GREAT. Just a proper fight with Naito getting a big win, and it was another we saw coming so maybe it didn’t have much to do with the contractual rumours around at the time.

And then finally… we had the main event…

In what was called ‘one of the greatest matches ever in the history of the Tokyo Dome’ Hiroshi Tanahashi did indeed beat Kenny Omega to once again win the IWGP Heavyweight title in the main event. The was no ‘One Winged Angel’ kick out as many thought might happen. And this was assumed because Kenny was sticking around? Or maybe he just didn’t want to give that rub to Tana? Maybe a bit of both or neither? For the record over 3 years later and still nobody has kicked out of that move. From Kenny anyway…

The Elite between them had 4 matches on the Wrestle Kingdom 13 show. They lost all 4.

So the traditional post-WrestleKingdom show from New Japan is called ‘New Year’s Dash’. It usually contains a number of multi man matches, and features either farewells or new angles to set up big feuds for the shows going forward. It is essentially their version of the ‘Raw after Mania’… In previous years we have had the 2020 retirement ceremony of Jushin Thunder Liger, 2018 saw Jericho attack Naito to commence their feuds, 2019 we PRESUMED we would have SOMETHING related to The Elite and possible sign off segments, maybe they all get kicked out officially of the Bullet Club?

Instead… The New Year’s Dash card (which is never announced ahead of time and is always at the beginning of the show itself) for 2019 was as follows…

  • Roppongi 3K (Rocky Romero, Sho & Yoh) defeated Suzuki-gun (Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer) & Takashi Iizuka)
  • The Elite (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) (with Pieter) defeated Toa Henare & Tomoaki Honma
  • FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) defeated Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) by disqualification
  • Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay) defeated Jeff Cobb, Kushida & Yuji Nagata
  • Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
  • Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japón (Bushi, Evil, Sanada, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
  • Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Gedo & Jay White) defeated Chaos (Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi) & Hiroshi Tanahashi

Notice anything?

Yes indeed… No Kenny Omega. No Young Bucks. No Adam Page. No Cody. No Jericho even… No fond farewell like Gallows & Anderson before them. I mean… a few months down the line KUSHIDA would get a main event against Okada as his farewell before he went to WWE. Weird…

In the days that followed, if it wasn’t already, everything became official. Kenny Omega revealed in an interview days after WK13 that he would indeed be leaving New Japan to be going (likely) to AEW or WWE. We also had the interesting news that New Japan were continuing their partnership with Ring Of Honor, and so wouldn’t (not immediately anyway) be partnering up with AEW. But New Japan went ahead with announcing shows for the American Airlines Center, a show in London, and plans for the next Wrestle Kingdom show to be a 2 night event.

At a later AEW press conference, in which they announced their first official show Double Or Nothing, the headline signing revealed was that of Jericho. He would later add that this contract with AEW was the ‘best deal of his career’, and (as with most AEW contracts) he would be allowed to work for New Japan again should the opportunity present itself. WWE were also in for him, but Jericho went with AEW… as did…

The headline act revealed at their February 7th press event was Kenny Omega. His New Japan deal expired at the end of January, and he too chose AEW over WWE. Omega would face Jericho at the first AEW event.

The general feel of what The Elite felt after their departure from NJPW can be seen via the ‘Being The Elite’ YouTube page, in their series ‘WRESTLERS ON THE ROAD ORDERING ROOM SERVICE’ on the episode that The Bucks did with Omega. This is some of what they said about firstly their feelings on the match Kenny had with Tanahashi, and then some more thoughts about them leaving New Japan.

NICK: Matt and I were like, this is a great much but, I don’t feel anything… I’m so over it’

MATT: I felt betrayed,… I found out we were getting kicked off New Year’s Dash

KENNY: At first, it was supposed to be a 50-50 story… people were supposed to be torn,… once they knew I was going they did whatever they could, a complete media blitz to make it look like I was this terrible person

NICK: Before that, we had a bad month, we had pretty much been kicked out of Ring Of Honor. Of course we were leaving, but it felt like we were physically kicked out.

MATT: We were all depressed, and it culminated that in the Tokyo Dome, I pull my phone out and start recording

They then show the video footage where The 3 guys compare them leaving New Japan to leaving your girlfriend, but you already have the side chick ready to go to. Omega added that it was like that and that maybe they could (in this scenario) learn to love the ‘side chick’. The side chick of course was AEW.

Nick and Kenny then confirm they had it written into their contracts (with AEW) that they would be able to go back and work for New Japan. Nick added that even after everything that had happened, they had meetings with ROH and New Japan about working together (and/or with AEW). He said that nothing happened after these meetings.

Kenny said he understood the business side of it (from New Japan’s POV), but that it was a bad call from them as the fans were the ones who lost out, adding also that he did take it personally. Omega went on to say that instead of making ‘the new version of me’ (New Japan pushed Jay White and gave him a lot what seemed to be the plan for Omega had he stayed) they should’ve just let everyone be themselves.

Given how things were between AEW and New Japan at the start, here I am in February 2022, and the two seem more than happy to work together. I’ve no doubt that once international travel is back to normal, we will see many AEW talents in Japan. But that hasn’t stopped those from New Japan being on AEW tv in various roles in 2021 & 2022… The likes of KENTA, Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii and Jay White have been in angles and matches on AEW TV, and we’ve had the IWGP US title be defended a couple of times on AEW Dynamite… Who knows what that partnership will look like as it develops further over time…

New Japan, whilst not hitting their heights from a few years ago, have been fine in general, but as I said not as hot a product or close to the Elite days… And whilst AEW continues to go from strength to strength, we can only pray that the hopeful addition and crossover of New Japan & AEW makes an already tremendous professional wrestling company (in AEW) even hotter, and breathes life again into New Japan to once again make it, and professional wrestling as a whole, thrive.

To this day; Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Adam Page, haven’t been in a New Japan ring since. Nor has Cody… although, I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon…

(I have used my subscription to the F4W site and the Wrestling Observer to help back up and reinforce my points and research for this blog. If you’re a wrestling fan it’s an essential subscription in my opinion, so thanks to them).

Josh.

The Massacre In Mineirão

Student Paul's the only correct score winner after Brazil v Germany |  Granada - ITV News

I’ve often heard it said that if you know who a person is by just one name, then they have really reached a great level of fame… Messi, Tiger, Lebron, Bolt… In the sport of football if you say ‘7-1’ to someone, they will probably be able to tell you exactly where they were when they watched the first of the semi final matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Up to this point, the tournament had been taking place against a backdrop of protests, with people unhappy that a government of a country with very little money had somehow found the funds to host the biggest football tournament on the planet. On the pitch we had the holders Spain dramatically drop out of the tournament at the group stages, along with former winners England, Italy and a Cristiano-led Portugal. The magical Lionel Messi had pretty much carried his country to the semi finals where they would face a Dutch side led by the man who would be the next Manchester United manager after this tournament, Louis van Gaal. The one outstanding TEAM of the tournament thus far had unquestionably been Germany, one of the true international footballing giants, although they had last lifted the ultimate prize way back in 1990. They were led by their meticulous coach Joachim Low, and on the field had the imperious Manuel Neuer keeping goal, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm as captain and Thomas Muller among a raft of players who had won just about everything they could do at club level.

2014 FIFA World Cup Final: player ratings for Germany 1, Argentina 0 -  CBSSports.com

But sadly, as is often the case in the wider world, the story I’m focusing on today isn’t really about the would-be world champions Germany, the REAL story that I will explore in this post is about our host nation, at team famous for lighting up the world with their style of play, with such names as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Kaka, Socarates, Garrincha and the great Pele. If you say international football, you think of the 5 time World Champions, Brazil.

A forensic analysis of Ronaldo's display in the 2002 World Cup final -  Planet Football

Going in to the 2014 World Cup, their was as much a pressure as almost an expectation that the Brazilians would go back to their former glories and win football’s ultimate prize for the first time in 12 years. And sure some things did align to make you think this COULD happen; Luiz Felipe Scolari, the coach the last time Brazil were world champions, was now the manager once again, brazil had dazzled 12 months prior in winning the Confederations Cup (the pre-World Cup ‘warm-up’ event), this Brazil team was led by the likes of Thiago Silva as Captain, and Barcelona’s Neymar as their superstar. Even before the tournament began I recall hearing tales of the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup, and how they in fact LOST in the FINAL, but now some 64 years later it was time to make amends. The reality was of course that this wasn’t a Brazil team filled with youthful players in their prime, 8 of the 23 man squad were above the age of 30, this was not a team who played with the flair and extravagance of Brazil teams of the past, this was a functional team that although featured the mercurial Neymar also had either Fred or Jo leading their frontline.

2014 World Cup Preview : Brazil - VAVEL International

I will do my best to talk about Germany in this post (for the record they topped their group before beating Algeria and France to reach the semi finals), but it was our hosts who kicked off the tournament in the opening match against Croatia. The tournament began in shocking fashion, with a Marcelo own goal putting the hosts behind, before two goals from Neymar and an Oscar goal late on (see if that little nugget pops up again later) gave them a 3-1 win. This, coupled with a turgid 0-0 draw with Mexico before a much better 4-1 win against Cameroon saw the hosts advance to the knockout stages. There, they would face fellow South Americans Chile. After a nervy 1-1 draw we went to a penalty shoot out, where goalkeeper Julio Cesar was the hero in a 3-2 win to set-up a quarter final against Columbia. It was another passion and nerves-filled affair that will be remembered not for the amazing free kick by David Luiz, but for the disastrous injury to Brazil’s superstar Neymar. A crippling back injury (a fractured vertebra no less) saw the hosts’ number 10 and talisman depart in the latter stages of the match, and he would later be ruled out of the semi final, and the final should Brazil get there. But in to the semi finals Brazil went, not only without their star-man, but also without their suspended captain Thiago Silva who would miss the semi-final after a yellow card against Columbia. On the other side we already knew by this point we would be treated to a repeat of the 2002 final on one side of the draw, whilst the other semi final would see the 1978 final repeated as Holland faced Argentina.

World Cup 2014: Neymar's Injury Dampens Brazil's Win Over Colombia - The  New York Times

It was all set to be a match to remember, the favourites versus the hosts. Germany the better team, but could the passion and motivation from the Brazilian fans carry their team through? Or would the incredible amount of pressure, combined with the absences of their key player as well as their captain, all prove too much? Well, lets now go back to a day that will now live in football infamy, the 8th July 2014, from the city of Belo Horizonte, this is how the most incredible match in World Cup history unfolded. Brazil vs Germany, The Massacre In Mineirão.


MATCH REPORT

So this wont be a regular match report, since I figured you could easily get one of those from google, so as I do with my wrestling reviews I’ll let you all know what my thoughts were as I watched this back.

The first thing I noted was the Brazilian players coming out for the match with their hand on eachother’s shoulder. One behind the other… The Germans on the other hand looked totally relaxed, and during the anthems the mood of the two teams looked telling… The Germany players seemed happy and almost excited ahead of maybe the biggest game in their careers. The Brazilian national anthem was… something… the crowd were so absurdly LOUD as were the players as they passionately sang every word at the top of their voice. It was a combination of passion but maybe anger and nerves from the Brazil players. All of that and also the bizarre nature of Julio Cesar the goalkeeper and David Luiz the stand-in captain holding up a Neymar 10 shirt… He’s not dead guys christ… It seemed as if these Brazil players had resigned themselves to the fact they would be heroic losers with everything looking already to be against them before the match had even started. Little did they know…

Brazil actually made a decent start and put plenty of pressure on in attack. A Marcelo shot went just wide in the opening couple of minutes, and even after Fernandinho made a sloppy pass on half way, he made up for his error right away. Brazil stood firm to the first bit of pressure from Germany, and soon after went up the other end with Maicon playing it into Fred, who then tried to play it to Oscar only for Schweinsteiger to cut it out. But in the 11th minute, a Germany corner fell right to Thomas Muller, who unmarked sidefooted the ball into the net.

Brazil tried to comeback right away, Luiz playing it to Hulk but nobody was there on the end of it. Brazil by the way before this match were unbeaten in 42 home games, and 65 competitive home matches. A poor Maicon cross was easily blocked, and soon after a Marcelo run into the box was met with a Lahm tackle, No penalty much to the fury of Jerome Boateng, with Marcelo having to be pulled away after Boateng’s verbals towards him. Mats Hummels sniffed out a ball into the box from Oscar, a Dante backpass left Julio Cesar in trouble forcing him to kick it out for a throw in… and just after another pass was blocked out by the Germany defence… then the floodgates opened, and so began the most remarkable 8 minutes in World Cup history.

On 23 minutes a Fernandinho mistake gave Klose a chance to score, and at the 2nd try he made World Cup history with his 16th goal at the finals making him the all-time top World Cup goalscorer. 2-0. On 24 minutes a great move by Germany and the ball eventually fell to Kroos to fire it in. 3-0. On 26 minutes Fernandinho loses the ball to Kroos and after a 1-2 with Sami Khedira it was astonishingly 4-0. There were tears in the stands from the Brazil fans, at this point there world had ended…. oh boy… 29 Minutes and Khedira to Ozil back to Khedira as easy as you like, tactically and shape-wise Brazil were absolutely all over the place. 5-0.

With 31 minutes on the clock Brazil had 55% of the ball possession so far…

By 37 minutes Brazil had zero shots on target of their ONE shot so far, Germany were 9 from 9.

The final few minutes of the first half seemed to be Brazil trying to do… something… but honestly they didn’t barely lay a glove on the German chin. One poor forward ball from Fernandinho was easily claimed by Neuer, Marcelo wanted a 1-2 as he raced towards then box, but he didn’t get the return pass he wanted. Oscar had a shot blocked, Marcelo had a free kick headed away, a ball towards Fred didn’t get near him, no foul, just boos from the Brazil crowd. Marcelo drived forward again but neither Oscar or Fred could get to his ball… and to the shock of few, a chorus of boos greeted the half time whistle. Brazil 0 Germany 5. Astonishing.

The half time period saw 3 subs; with Mertesacker replacing Hummels for Germany, whilst Brazil took off Hulk and Fernandinho and gave Ramires and Paulinho the impossible task. Brazil did start the second half better with a number of chances, but again none serious really. The imperious Manuel Neuer made a number of saves to his credit, and from my notes from minutes 48 to 60 I have 9 notes on different Brazil chances. We had the contrasting moment on minute 58 when Miroslav Klose was subbed off and got a decent ovation, and later on pictured was Brazil’s Ronaldo, who was doing commentary at the game for Brazilian TV and had not only seen his country that he represented so well utterly humiliated, but his World Cup record was now gone too.

As the clock hit the hour mark we saw yet another bit of poor play from Brazil’s Fred, as he saw a tame shot easily saved. Boos greeted him who at this point was the crowd’s nominated villain in-chief. Another poor Brazil backpass let Germany in again, but Julio Cesar was equal to it. And once again not long after that it was Muller who again was thwarted by Cesar, had they not had him in goal how much worse could this of been I did wonder… Fred was by now being booed with every touch he had… 62 minutes and a move from Bernard to Luiz to Maicon led to a corner, which was then caught by Neuer. It very much seemed to me at this point that it looked like Germany, to use a phrase from cricket, had ‘declared’ with their seemingly unassailable lead.

Bernard at this point to me looked to be one of the few Brazil players who I thought played well, but again only so much one guy can do. 69 minutes and the resistance didn’t last long, Lahm to Khedira and back to the captain who then put it to Andre Schurrle (who had come on for Klose) who made it worse, and more boos reigned down. 6-0. Just after this we had mercy for Fred, the sight of him on the big screen in the stadium drew the fury of the Brazil fans in the crowd, he was replaced by Willian. A good player at that time, but my god what was he meant to do at that point? Willian did make a near immediate impact and after a dribble towards goal he put his shot wide and over. Minute 79 and Schurrle got the best of the lot with a thunder shot on the half volley that crashed in from the angle off the bar. 7-0. SEVEN.

The last 10 minutes or so of the game was actually quite. Brazil looked desperate, but it’s not like these players were desperate for a late winner or an equaliser at they headed out at the semi final stage of their home World Cup… this was to get ANYTHING from the worst day of their careers. All of them. It honestly almost, and maybe should’ve got worse, as after some chances for Brazil it was Germany who went closest to adding more goals to the massacre, as Mesut Ozil put his shot just wide when he really should’ve made it 8… EIGHT… My GOD it probably should’ve been 8-0.

In added time a long ball towards Oscar, and some good footwork from him to create a chance, and then a fine shot past Neuer gave Brazil a goal. Scoring for your country in their home World Cup… and you barely want to celebrate. Unthinkable really, but this was real. A real life nightmare. 1-7.

1-7. Horror beyond belief for Brazil. The statement of all statements ahead of a World Cup Final for Germany.

MATCH RATINGS

Brazil

12. Julio Cesar – Made some good saves and did his role well, but he also picked the ball out the net SEVEN times… 5/10

23. Maicon – WHY did he play over Daniel Alves? Baffling then, and more so now. 3

4. David Luiz (C) – He wanted this to go their way so bad, too much perhaps? 4

13. Dante – came in for the captain Thiago Silva, and the drop off was absurd. 3

6. Marcelo – Typically good going forward, defensively could only do so much. 6

17. Luiz Gustavo – awful. 3

5. Fernandinho – SO MANY ERRORS. 2 (8. Paulinho 6)

7. Hulk – looked… off… 4 (16. Ramires – I thought he did ok in the half he played, but again could only do so much. 6)

11. Oscar – He was… OK… 6.

20. Bernard – for me the one Brazil player who can come out of this game with some credit of those in yellow. Looked lively when he had the chance, Germany kept him out well. 7

9. Fred – words can’t describe, the boos from the fans can. 1/10 (19. Willian – 5)

Germany

1- Neuer – 7

16. Lahm (C) – 7

20. Boateng – 6

5. Hummels – 6 (17. Mertesacker – 6)

4. Howedes – 6

6. Khedira – 7 (14. Draxler – 5)

7. Schweinsteiger – 6

8. Ozil – 7

18. Kroos – 8

13. Muller – 8

11. Klose – 7 (9. Schurrle – 8)


I have often thought that 3rd/4th place play off matches are a little redundant. Sure I get it at maybe the Olympics where 3rd place gets a proper prize, but in the World Cup… After you’ve just failed at the last hurdle to make the World Cup final, do you really want to have to play another match? Or do you want to go home and try and get over it? In fact I don’t think I even watched England’s 3rd/4th place play off match in 2018… And so it quickly became apparent here that not only had Brazil suffered the worst defeat and the biggest humiliation in their great footballing history, but they had to go out there and play another match, against a very good Holland team who had sent Spain packing 5-1 in their tournament opener. Yes a chance for SOME redemption maybe, the first chance to show signs of recovery maybe? Well… it didn’t quite work out like that…

World Cup 2014: Netherlands Blanks Brazil to Finish in Third Place - The  New York Times

This image above kind of sums the match up. I remember seeing this match and thinking (in terms of the patterns of play and the actual match itself aside from scoreline), was this just as bad as 1-7? Wont get as many headlines obviously, but the gap between Brazil and their opponents in terms of performance level was just as big for me. Brazil 0-3 Holland.

Everyone knows what happened with Germany after 1-7, one Mario Gotze intervention later and they had followed up the most amazing win in World Cup history. And perhaps it was a small consolation for the Brazilians, but at least it wasn’t the sworn enemy who won THEIR World Cup…

Messi Will Get The World Cup — igarashi007 on Scorum

As you can imagine from such a seismic disaster, the fallout from 1-7 was just as dramatic… of course the immediate response was one of immense sorrow and seeking forgiveness; David Luiz said after the game (with tears in his eyes) “I just wanted to give some happiness to my people. To my people, who suffer so much already,… Unfortunately we couldn’t do it. I’m sorry, everyone. Sorry to all Brazilians. I wanted to see my people smiling”. The media of Brazil were not so understanding…

Brazilian media deride humiliating defeat against Germany -  MaltaToday.com.mt

Some of those headlines translated from various Brazilian newspapers the day after (pictured above):

  • O GLOBO: SHAME DISGRACE HUMILATION
  • O DIA: GO TO HELL YOU FELIPAO (The nickname of Brazil Manager Scolari)
  • MEIA HORA: THERE WILL BE NO COVER (no hiding)
  • EXPRESSO: PITY DISTRESS SADNESS ANGER PAIN DISAPPOINTMENT SHAME

Elsewhere the Jogo publication led with ‘The Worst Humiliation in History’, and O Globo rated every single Brazil player, and manager Luiz Felipe Scolari a 0 rating /10.

It was supposed to be the ultimate dream, Brazil would win their record-extending 6th World Cup trophy in their own country, Scolari would become only the second ever two time World Cup winning coach (the other being Italy’s Pozzo way back in 1934 and 1938), and Neymar would be the star who led them to it on his way to a Balon D’or… instead it turned into the ultimate nightmare. 2 weeks later what wasn’t shocking was that Scolari was sacked, what was a shock was that Dunga (another former Brazil manager) was appointed to replace him, and he didn’t exactly do well in his first spell. Captain Thiago Silva was alienated out of the national side, with Neymar appointed new captain and Miranda taking Silva’s place in the team. Marcelo suffered similar, despite starring for a Real Madrid team who won multiple Champions Leagues around this time… There were issues at the Brazilian Football Confederation too, compounded by a shocking GROUP STAGE exit at the Copa America of 2016. Although it would require a quick turnaround in fortunes, as the Olympic Games later that same summer not only provided Brazil with another chance to shine and for redemption, but the 2016 Olympics would be held in… Brazil.

Rogério Micale was the coach this time around (Brazil’s Under 23s manager). The playing squad (rules meant that only 3 players would be allowed in the squad over the age of 23) contained just one survivor from the disaster of 2014… Neymar.

Neymar involved in heated altercation with fans following Brazil's Rio 2016  Olympics gold medal win - Mirror Online

So would their latest magical number 10 be able to inspire them to gain at least some form of redemption on home soil? Well they would advance all the way to the Gold medal match, where the final would go to penalties… in a match between Brazil and… Of course, it was Germany!

Brazil were forgiven? Maybe. But can 1-7 ever be forgotten? Sadly not. But the sight of Neymar, who had more pressure placed upon him maybe than anyone else in international football history, not only 2 years prior but now as captain and leader. There was something quite beautiful about the fact it was he who scored the winning penalty to give his country what was their first ever Olympic Gold medal. And for it to happen in their Olympics too… Marvelous.

Olympics: Neymar gives Brazil its first soccer gold medal – The Mercury News

Perhaps the saving grace of this story is there was a chance at that redemption for Brazil. But as I said… nobody will ever forget that day in 2014… And forever more now if you say a scoreline of 7-1 to people they will think of the match which brought about the massacre in Mineirao.

Josh.