By RJ Marceau
A series that hasn’t had an installment in about a year finally returns with my Top 5 Favorite WWE NXT Superstars. Past installments are here on the website (May 2015, October 2015, April 2016, November 2016). The turnover in NXT has been pretty decent with the Superstar Shakeup and call-ups from the beginning of the year. Before the honorable mention if you haven’t seen NXT Takeover Brooklyn III yet, you have to watch it after you read this article. I would say it was the best TakeOver so far with all 5 matches being good to great. NXT keeps showing why it has better wrestling than the main roster so if you want to see incredible in-ring action keep watching NXT.
By Phil Cooper
This year marked the tenth anniversary of Florida Championship Wrestling’s launch. Though the FCW became integrated with the new NXT in 2012, it oversaw the emergence of (seemingly) countless talents while a territorial project. Many of them slid effortlessly into the WWE roster on a full-time basis, and fans are naturally split as to the identity of the best FCW graduate. This review encompasses the top three FCW graduates from both the SmackDown and Raw brands.
Once the Cruiserweight Classic and the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament were considered successes, it was only inevitable before a women's tourney was announced. Sure enough, it was made official over WrestleMania 33 weekend back in April, with it later being named the Mae Young Classic. Additionally, it was revealed that the first three rounds would be available as on-demand content on the WWE Network starting in late August, so it will not be following the same format as the Cruiserweight Classic. Nevertheless, the crop of women that will be participating looks very promising with a number of names I recognize from other promotions and even WWE's past.
I wrote something similar to this piece last year for the Cruiserweight Classic (which you can read here) and everyone I picked fared pretty well in the tournament, so here's hoping the following eight women also advance at least past the first round if not ultimately win it all.
It seems The Destroyer has really found his footing and has been hitting his stride as of late on Monday Night Raw.
Since joining the main roster in January earlier this year, Samoa Joe has quietly flown under the radar as a legitimate badass, putting on quality contests without true direction. Based on his reputation alone, The Samoan Submission Machine brought a lot to WWE’s flagship show, but up until recently he was not connecting with the fan base as the true fearsome fighter he is. A healthy scratch from “The Ultimate Thrill Ride,” WrestleMania XXXIII, Joe’s impact on the main roster was hardly spiking the Richter scale two months into his run. He engaged in a mini-feud with Sami Zayn just prior to The Show of Shows, but those flames fizzled before the rivalry could even ignite. His program with Seth Rollins served a purpose in the grander scheme of Rollins seeking retribution against Triple H, but it was far from his best work, and he came across as an afterthought.
It was not until his historic victory at Extreme Rules against the likes of Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor and Roman Reigns in a No. 1 Contender Fatal Five-Way match that Joe’s powerful potential poked through. Winning the right to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at Great Balls of Fire was the spark that Joe needed to explode into the spotlight. The week-to-week build to Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar was some of the most engaging television WWE had produced in years and the perfect wake-up call to the post-WrestleMania lull in which they found themselves. Say what you will about their eventual encounter, but it was refreshingly physical, Joe was able to bring more out of Lesnar than many past challengers and he walked out of Dallas a bona fide star. With a full head of steam, Joe is on his way to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, to headline SummerSlam against Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title. Regardless of who has their hand raised when the lights go out and the cameras turn off, here are five must-see feuds for Samoa Joe after SummerSlam.
July 17th is hands down my favorite day of the year, and no, it isn't my birthday or a national holiday (at least not to most people). Rather, I consider it to be CM Punk Day because it was on this day six years ago CM Punk defeated John Cena in a thrilling WWE Championship match at my favorite WWE pay-per-view of all-time: Money in the Bank 2011. I've re-watched the show at least a dozen times since then (I'm even doing so as I write this), and it never loses its luster to me and always brings back memories of that exciting time in WWE.
Mind you, that match didn't make me a fan of CM Punk, as I first considered him to be among my favorites around July 2010. Him completely taking WWE by storm the subsequent summer only solidified him as my favorite active wrestler at that point, and he remained at the top of that exclusive list until his abrupt departure from WWE in January 2014. One can argue WWE hasn't been the same without him, but he certainly left a gap on the roster and broke the mold for several of today's stars such as Seth Rollins, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens.
I'm well-aware that Punk isn't everyone's cup of tea, especially nowadays, but there is no denying that he was among the best wrestlers in WWE for as long as he was there. In the eight years he was on WWE's main roster, he contested countless classics, and in honor of CM Punk Day, I figured it was fitting that I run down my most beloved bouts of his. It's unknown when he will return to WWE, if ever, but I have faith he will resurface one day, even if it's for a Hall of Fame induction down the road.
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