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.
By John Napolitano
Just about every professional wrestling fanatic with an imagination and a keyboard has fantasized about the outcome of the imminent WWE Draft.
On May 25th, World Wrestling Entertainment announced the return of the brand extension, as Smackdown goes live every Tuesday night starting on July 19, 2016. WWE Superstars will find permanent homes on either Monday Night Raw or its revitalized sister show, Smackdown.
I have argued for years now that WWE is in no position to resurrect the brand split. The roster depth is nowhere near as impressive as it was in 2002 when the concept was first established. The influx of talent from the newly defunct WCW and ECW organizations paired with the laundry list of established, iconic WWE Superstars fostered the perfect environment for the original draft to take place.
By John Napolitano
The prediction department beckons, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to return to the universe of the unknown, the chasm of confusion. WrestleMania XXXII is upon us, and yes, this is the 32nd installment of the event despite what WWE would like you to believe. The Roman numerals are still real to me dammit!
This year’s Road to WrestleMania has followed suit of last year’s -- uninspiring. In WWE’s defense, they have been playing shorthanded in a crucial period of the WWE calendar with a disturbing amount of injuries plaguing the locker room. The man who hasn’t missed a WrestleMania since his debut on The Grandest Stage of Them All, John Cena, will not be competing under the bright lights this year. And the man of the hour at WrestleMania XXXI, Seth Rollins, will not be in attendance in Dallas tonight. Despite this year’s lackluster build to The Show of Shows, WrestleMania XXXII still has the potential to deliver in every department.
By John Napolitano
The 10 Pro-Wrestlers Who Have Captured My Heart and Imagination in the Last 10 Years
The sight of Mick Foley revealing his patented barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat as an equalizer to the onward marching Rated-R Superstar on March 27, 2006, right before their all-time classic match at WrestleMania was the spark to the gasoline that started the blazing inferno that is my lifelong passion for professional wrestling.
Ten years ago, it was this extraordinary exchange on the go-home Monday Night Raw leading up to WrestleMania XXII that got me hooked on the genre. I had never seen anything like it; this large, disheveled, and seemingly crazy plaid clad man so hated this young, slimy, and conniving loudmouth that he would take a lethal object to his skull in order to assert his dominance. Of course, kayfabe was alive and well for the younger version of myself, but pro-wrestling’s ability to remove me from reality and keep me coming back for another fix of adrenaline has persisted over the last decade.
Whether it has been in Mrs. Hoffman’s fourth grade class or my journalism courses at Hofstra University, I have had many favorites as a pro-wrestling fan over the years. My first article in a series that will explore my top 10 favorites over the last 10 years will discuss which WWE Superstars have captured my heart and imagination more so than anyone else. These articles will only include programming that I have witnessed firsthand as it happened. Who are my top 10 favorite WWE Superstars since March 27, 2006?
2/22/2016 0 Comments
By John Napolitano
#ThankYouDanielBryan – Yes, Daniel Bryan, the four-time world champion and inspiration of this generation, has retired from professional wrestling due to severe concussion and neck injuries that have plagued him throughout his career and during his tenure on top. The dust surrounding Bryan’s premature retirement has settled, and as it did after Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and CM Punk’s departure from the ring, the wheel keeps on spinning.
For many a fan, including this writer, the “G.O.A.T.’s” retirement will not easily dissipate from our memory. He barely scratched the surface of what will be remembered as a legendary career. Daniel Bryan’s legacy will forever stand out as one that was seemingly never intended to be significant. His work ethic and relatable personality captured the hearts and minds of millions, who, in turn, demanded to see him succeed.
Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always write the best narratives, and there are a handful of money matches and riveting rivalries that the WWE Universe will never have the pleasure to witness. Shawn Michaels and The Rock will never be able to electrify the millions and millions. Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin will never headline WrestleMania in front of 70,000 plus ravenous fans, and Daniel Bryan will never put on a wrestling clinic with a handful of top stars in WWE. I present the top three Daniel Bryan rivalries that we will never see in WWE. It should be noted that this list will not include any of the current crop of NXT talent.
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