Breaking News: Paige’s Wrestling Career Reportedly Over

Paige’s professional wrestling career is reportedly over after suffering another neck injury during a house show, according to PWIinsider.com.

This is just devastating news. She just recently returned to WWE programming for the Raw brand after missing time from injury. Paige is one of the better wrestlers on the roster, yet very controversial. Married to Alberto Del Rio (Alberto El Patron), Paige was constantly in the spotlight during her hiatus. Rumors of abuse and domestic assault took over her life. Not to mention the sex tape that was released involving her and fellow wrestler Xavier Woods. Paige was a mess, but her wrestling ability was never in question. Fans waited patiently for her return.

I was pleasantly surprised to see her return as the leader of the “Absolution” faction a few months ago. She seemed ready to put all of her baggage behind her, and she seemed destined for another championship run. In tremendous shape and delivering tremendous mic work, it seemed like Paige was back to stay.

Until Friday afternoon. News broke that Paige suffered another neck injury during a house show on December 28. Sasha Banks (a Boston native) kicked her in the back of the head. But yeah, wrestling is fake. 🖕🏻 An accident. That’s it. Sasha is one of the better wrestlers in the world. But one accident can be the difference. Paige was not expecting the kick so was unable to protect herself properly. The match had to be called off, and it took Paige several minutes after the match to be able to stand under her own power. WWE is refusing to clear Paige to wrestle. This is very similar to Daniel Bryan’s situation. He was deemed unable to compete, so he retired. But now he is on the verge of being able to compete after having time off.

Let’s hope the same is true for Paige. Paige is a once in a generation talent. She started the “Women’s Revolution” in WWE. Her work in NXT (the developmental league for WWE) was superb. She was the first NXT women’s champion and was truly destined to be one of the greatest.

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At only 25 years old, we can only hope that Paige is able to continue her career after some time. But for WWE to deem her “unable to compete,” and for them to suggest she retire, seems to indicate that this is very, very serious. There is always the possibility that another wrestling promotion would clear her, but it seems highly unlikely that anyone would be willing to take such a risk. Paige was set to compete in the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match later this month. We will have to wait and see what surprises WWE has in store to replace her.

Its hard not to be genuinely concerned for Paige’s mental and emotional well being. Wrestling is all she has ever known. She grew up in a wrestling family, and has been wrestling since she was thirteen. She has said in the past that she was very depressed and had thoughts of suicide during her last hiatus, which was made worse after the sex tape was released. It’s an unimaginable thing to have something so engrained in her life to be taken away from her. God willing she will have support from family and friends to get her through this difficult time.

If this is the end, then this has already been an incredible career. At only 25 years old, the ring truly was “her house!”

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Royal Rumble Predictions

It’s that magical time of the year again. The time of year that even non-wrestling fans seem to come out and show interest in the product. The Royal Rumble pay per view marks the beginning of Wrestlemania season, which theoretically is supposed to be the climax of the “WWE year.” All storylines and rivalries are supposed to heat up and become exciting and interesting so that they are “Wrestlemania worthy.”

As opposed to the last few years, which have been total snoozefests, this year’s Rumble match could truly be one of the greatest of all time. I’m not going to rank my possible winners from most to least likely to win, since it truly is a crap shoot. But here is my list of wrestlers that I view as having a legitimate shot at winning this year’s 30 man Royal Rumble match.

John Cena: He is officially in the match, so that means he is going to win it, right? No? Your wrong, of course he will. In all seriousness, Cena is on his way out, and Vince has invested everything into the next man I am going to discuss. Cena was added to the match for star power, but he has no shot of winning.

Roman Reigns: When in doubt, pick Roman. I’m sure there are many out there who like Reigns and would love to see him win, but it is just way too predictable for me. Every damn year this guy dominates the main event scene, without changing things up or improving his promos. The guy can wrestle, don’t get me wrong, but my god is he boring.

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He simply cruises along because he has “the look” that Vince McMahon salivates over. Roman needs a heel turn in the worst way, because he simply doesn’t fit the typical babyface mold. He is cocky, smug, and arrogant. People boo him already anyway. If they turn him heel people will get behind him since he would be an amazing bad guy. Whatever. I’m done. Sorry for rambling. A Reigns win would set up the rumored rematch with Lesnar at Wrestlemania that Vince has been waiting for, so it certainly would not surprise me. However, I see at least two other guys with a better chance to win…

Shinsuke Nakamura: If I had it my way, this would be the man to win the Rumble this year. One of the top wrestlers in the world, Shinsuke has been head-scratchling under utilized since getting called up to the Smackdown brand. Creative doesn’t seem to have a clue with what to do with him. Nakamura’s limited English obviously impacts this to a degree, but surely they can find meaningful programs with a wrestler of his caliber. The biggest reason I want him winning the Rumble is that it would set him up for a WWE championship match with AJ Styles. These two have wrestled all over the world, and put on one of the best matches of all time at Wrestlekingdom 10 for the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion in 2016.

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These two in the main event of Wrestlemania for the WWE championship is every die-hard wrestling fan’s dream. Unfortunately, I just don’t have faith in Vince McMahon to make it happen. History suggests that he simply doesn’t have the interest to push a Japanese star with limited English. Nakamura isn’t the stereotypical, meathead wrestler that McMahon generally gets behind (cough cough Roman Reigns cough). In the end, I see the next man as the most likely to win.

Finn Balor: This man is one of the top 10 wrestlers in the world. But my god what a waste of talent. After winning the Universal Championship at Summerslam 2016, the leader of the “Balor Club” has been quiet. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but creative seemingly doesn’t have anything for him. Shocking, I know. After a feud with Bray Wyatt, Balor has been completely wasted, working meaningless matches. He defeated AJ Styles at the Raw pay per view Tables, Ladders, and Chairs in what was an incredible match, but that was a one-off match that only happened because Wyatt was hurt. So why do I think he has a good chance of winning the Rumble then? I view this as the perfect opportunity for creative to start to get behind him. He has a marketable look that McMahon surely loves, and this just seems like the perfect opportunity for him to rise to the top. Also, that would seemingly lead to Balor versus Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Wrestlemania, an absolute dream match (and it would get us out of the inevitable Reigns/Lesnar match).

Jinder Mahal: Nope. That’s all I have to say. Unfortunately he needs to be mentioned since he was WWE champion for most of the summer and fall of this past year, but that dark period in WWE history is a part in which I would rather forget about and pretend didn’t exist. I’m going to hope and pray that WWE learned it’s lesson and has jumped off the Jinder bandwagon.

Rusev: I don’t see Rusev as having a realistic chance to win, but I wanted to mention him for the simple fact that he has started coming on huge with the fans. Rusev is another wrestler who hasn’t done much of late, but he has recently teamed up with Aiden English, and they are hilarious. Every time Rusev has a mic he claims it is “Rusev Day,” a gag that has caught on in a massive way with the fans, who join in and chant “Happy Rusev Day!” I foresee some “Rusev Day ” goodness in the Rumble match, even if he is unlikely to win.

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Surprise Entrant: Part of the appeal and magic of the Rumble is looking forward to seeing what surprises it brings. There is always at least one surprise entrant that no one sees coming. I, for one, still get goosebumps thinking of Chris Jericho’s #2 entrance into the 2013 Royal Rumble to seek revenge against #1 entrant Dolph Ziggler.

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I don’t foresee any major surprises this year, but I will include the usual suspects for the heck of it. The Undertaker hasn’t been seen since he lost to Reigns at Wrestlemania, and it is unclear if he actually retired or if he will come back at some point. My guess is that WWE is intentionally leaving the door open in hopes that the Deadman will be ready to go for another match or two. A Rumble appearance is certainly a possibility. The Rock would be another fun surprise, but I don’t see him coming back anytime soon. Triple H is always a possibility. And I would absolutely love to see the Raw GM Kurt Angle be a surprise entrant. The Olympic gold medalist can still go, and it would be a ton of fun to see him go head to head with some of the best. My money would be on Angle and Chris Jericho being surprise entrants.

There are a few wrestlers that I could see as potential “wild card” candidates to win, including Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Seth Rollins, or a returning Dolph Ziggler. But in the end, I just don’t see any of these guys as realistic options. As much as I love Joe, Roode, and Rollins, I don’t see how they would fit into possible title matches.

I’m gonna go with Balor as my pick to win it all this year, with Nakamura as a solid #2. I continue to hold out hope that they won’t have Reigns win yet again. I won’t hold my breath, and if I was a betting man I would go with Reigns. Luckily, I am not. Happy Wrestlemania season everyone! Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Matt Hardy Becomes “Woken”

“Matt Hardy Version 1.” “Big Money Matt.” “Broken Matt Hardy.” The older Hardy brother has certainly kept himself relevant through the years by constantly reinventing his image.

Growing up, I always viewed him as the “less impressive brother” of the legendary Hardy Boys tag team. Seemingly forever hidden in the shadow of his younger brother Jeff, Matt was destined for the undercard once the inevitable split came.

And this assumption seemed accurate initially. Matt Hardy Version 1 was clever, and he dominated the Smackdown cruiserweight division for some time in 2003, but the gimmick had a short shelf life. After a short stint on Raw, Hardy left WWE after his then girlfriend Lita’s affair with Adam Copeland (Edge) became public knowledge.

In July of 2005, Hardy returned to the WWE to seek retribution against Edge, channeling his “I will not die” mindset. Shortly after Unforgiven in September of 2005, Hardy lost a loser leaves Raw match to Edge, sending him to the Smackdown brand. In late 2006, the Hardys reunited and had some fantastic matchs against MNM. During the Summer of 2007 , Matt won the US title from MVP. In September of 2008, Hardy won the ECW championship from Mark Henry, an accomplishment in the fact that it was a “major championship” by name (McMahon had damaged the title beyond repair at this point after relaunching the ECW brand. Oh, and the title was silver. Why silver?) While these can certainly be classified as accomplishments, Matt was very much just “treading water” at this point, while his younger brother had firmly cemented himself as a bonafide main eventer.

At Wrestlemania 25 in 2009, Matt defeated his brother Jeff on the grandest stage of them all, seemingly proving the doubters wrong and showing that he was legitimate. After a mediocre end to his WWE run, however, Hardy seemed washed up (physically and mentally) and he departed once again.

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Enter TNA.

Fast forward to January 2016, and Matt Hardy is World Champion for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. The “Big Money Matt” character was a legitimate wrestler who needed to be taken seriously. Once he lost the title, however, he started acting like a crazy lunatic. And so his “Broken” persona was born. He was a broken man who had seemingly lost his mind. His main goal at this point became to permanently “delete” his brother from existence. Matt became obsessed with this mission, and he started chanting “delete” at random times during promos and matches. After numerous wins against Jeff, including the spectacle known as the “Final Deletion” match that was filmed on Matt Hardy’s estate, he forced Jeff to take the name of “Brother Nero,” thereby “deleting” the “Jeff Hardy” character. Complete insanity, I know.

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Now known as the “Broken Hardys,” they once again won tag team championships (because in the professional wrestling world brothers forgive and subsequently team up with each other after one brother defeated and tried to kill the other). Broken Matt and Brother Nero would leave TNA shortly afterwards.

The Hardys made their triumphant return to WWE at Wrestlemania 33 and won the Raw Tag Team Championships. Fans immediately began to wonder if the Hardys would be given the freedom by McMahon and WWE creative to use the “Broken” gimmick that became so popular in TNA. I found it hard to believe that WWE would be willing to let the brothers use a gimmick made popular in another wrestling promotion, and I viewed their return as nothing more than a nostalgia act designed to get fans excited as they relived their glory days from ’99-’02

Incorrect.

After Jeff got injured during a match, an injury that is expected to cost him 6 months, Matt was left all alone, where he immediately began losing. Enter the genius that was his “Broken” character. Now referred to as “Woken,” Matt has been reborn and is aware of his shortcomings as a singles competitor. He has vowed to change. Matt began a feud with Bray Wyatt that will last presumably through the Royal Rumble Pay Per View in January.

And my goodness how incredible this gimmick is. Matt kills the unhinged and disturbed persona. Not only is it incredible in its own right, but it elevates Bray’s gimmick as well, a gimmick that has been severely damaged from poor creative decisions. Bray always thrives when he has an actual program that makes sense and that he can sink his teeth into. The unexpected injury to Jeff has been a blessing to the underutilized and under appreciated Matt, who is being given the creative freedom to show what he is truly capable of both in the ring and on the mic.

Matt has been “Woken” yet again, and dare I say this gimmick looks main event worthy. Best of luck to Bray Wyatt and the rest of the Raw roster as they avoid “deletion” in 2018.