Ring Rust Radio is the best wrestling show on the airwaves, and this week was no different. With strong opinions on Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn and more, this is where you need to go to get all of your weekly WWE nuggets.
Bleacher Report featured columnists Mike Chiari, Donald Wood and Brandon Galvin give the lowdown on everything going on in the wrestling world.
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May 12: WWE NXT Diva Charlotte
May 19: ROH and GFW star Moose
May 26: Former WWE Superstar JTG
Dean Ambrose Added to Payback Main Event
One week after it was announced that Seth Rollins would defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat match at Payback, a major alteration was made on Raw. Kane stated that Dean Ambrose would be added to the contest if he could beat Rollins. WWE's Lunatic Fringe won to make it a Fatal 4-Way.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is the Addition of Ambrose a Good Move?
It has been several months since Ambrose was part of the main event scene, and most would probably argue that his return to that status has been long overdue.
WWE's Unstable Superstar is one of the best all-around performers in the business, as his excellent mic skills and unique in-ring ability make him the total package. Unfortunately for Ambrose, he has been put on the back burner by the creative team since he lost to Rollins at Hell in a Cell in October and entered into a less-than-stellar feud with Bray Wyatt.
Ambrose got back on track to some degree when he beat Luke Harper in a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules in April. Even so, few could have anticipated that he would be thrown into the title hunt so abruptly.
It would be tough to complain about the decision, given Ambrose is very much deserving of one of the top spots on the card, but few are going to view him as a legitimate threat to win based on the manner in which he has been booked since last fall.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
In terms of match quality, Ambrose's addition should make the Payback main event even better. It also adds to the story that is being told. Rollins has been put in a position where the chips are stacked against him.
He has major issues with Ambrose and Reigns because of the dissolution of the Shield, but he is also in the midst of a heated feud with the Viper. Because of that, it feels as though WWE is trying to make the former Mr. Money in the Bank look like a decided underdog.
When push comes to shove, though, it seems fairly obvious that Rollins will retain. Ambrose hasn't been built as a world champion, and Orton doesn't need the title. Reigns has an outside shot, but if he is going to win, then there was really no reason to add Ambrose to the fray.
It very much feels like Ambrose has entered the mix in order to take the fall, and while that isn't a perfect scenario by any means, perhaps it will lead to bigger and better things for him with the Money in the Bank pay-per-view approaching.
Backstage news on possible heel turn (Wrestling Observer Newsletter via WrestlingInc.com)
Sami Zayn Makes Surprise Appearance on Raw as John Cena's Opponent
True surprises are few and far between in the current landscape of professional wrestling, but a genuine one took place on the most recent edition of Raw.
John Cena issued an open challenge for his United States Championship, as he has been doing since WrestleMania, which led to Bret Hart coming to the ring. The Hitman then introduced former NXT champion Sami Zayn, who proceeded to put on a great match in front of his hometown fans in Montreal, Quebec.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Was Using Zayn the Right Call?
Cena's open challenges have led to some cool moments and entertaining matches over the past several weeks, but there is little doubt that Zayn's appearance topped them all.
WWE has largely kept WWE and NXT separated from one another, so the thought of a current NXT roster member making a one-off appearance on WWE programming likely didn't cross many minds. Zayn did take part in an NXT tag team match on Raw several months ago to promote a live special, but that was under very different circumstances.
In this instance, Zayn was put in position to look like a true star by going up against WWE's top dog. He didn't win the match, but that wasn't the overarching point. The 30-year-old Superstar clearly wasn't going to come out on top, since Cena is slated to face Rusev at Payback. However, the fact he was made to look like Cena's equal for much of the match was hugely effective in terms of presenting him as a big deal to fans who weren't previously familiar with him.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
The best thing WWE did with regard to Zayn's debut was allowing him to do the things that made him successful in NXT. That included the Blue Thunder Bomb, Torpedo DDT through the turnbuckle and his signature plancha over the top rope.
Zayn was even allowed to kick out of the Attitude Adjustment, which was huge in terms of making him look strong. Cena ultimately won the match and retained the title, but he put Zayn over by raising his arm afterward, and that gives him a ton of credibility ahead of his official transition to the main roster, whenever that may be.
There may be some fans out there who are against putting NXT stars on WWE programming until their call-up, but what WWE did with Zayn made too much sense. He was guaranteed to receive a massive pop in Montreal. He may not get quite as big of a reaction the next time he appears, but since NXT is a fast-rising brand and many fans were exposed to him on Raw, he is in a much better position to succeed than he otherwise would have been.
Backstage talk regarding Zayn's health (Wrestling Observer Newsletter via WrestlingInc.com)
New Day Continues to Evolve
When Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods first formed the New Day, fans were skeptical, to say the least. Their overly positive, clapping routine simply didn't get over with the WWE Universe, and it led to some negative reactions. Rather than continuing to carry on with something that wasn't working, though, the talented triumvirate has recently gone in a different direction.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is The New Day Now an Entertaining Act?
When the New Day beat Tyson Kidd and Cesaro for the WWE Tag Team Championships at Extreme Rules, it was clear that an evolution was taking place.
Kofi, Big E and Woods were still technically spreading a positive message, but their actions conflicted with that. They started to use heel tactics, with Woods getting involved in matches from the outside, which ultimately helped them capture the tag straps for the first time.
Since then, the group has gotten steadily and consistently better. The fact their characters are oblivious to what they have become is a big part of the entertainment value. Although it is happening on a much smaller scale, it isn't unlike Daniel Bryan's first run as World Heavyweight champion. The fact that he was so annoying led to an organic heel turn. He continued to act the same way while thinking he was face, but he actually wasn't. The New Day haven been very similar in that regard.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Kingston, Big E and Woods took another huge step on Raw, defeating Orton and Reigns in a handicap match. Although it took dissension between their opponents to win the match, it was a significant victory.
The Viper recently beat Kidd and Cesaro in a handicap match on his own, so the New Day coming out on top on Monday was big in terms of restoring some credibility to a tag team division that could potentially be back on the rise.
The entertainment didn't stop there, as the stable was shown celebrating their victory backstage at various points throughout the night. Kofi and Woods struggled to lift the massive Big E onto their shoulders as other Superstars and Divas looked on dismissively.
The New Day may be a comedic act more than anything right now, but they are hitting the right notes. What they are doing currently is a massive improvement on what they were several weeks ago.
Ring Rust Radio's Season 8 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Joe Arcidiacono: 107.5
2. Donald Wood: 102.5
3. Brandon Galvin: 82.5
4. Mike Chiari: 45
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