Last night was the official kick off party for the first live Smackdown episode, during which the entire WWE landscape was upended and changed forever. Who went where? We discuss below each draft pick and how they fit in the picture going forward.
Seth Rollins got the #1 Draft pick slot, headed over to Monday Night Raw. This one seems obvious. He is quite definitely the future and deserves to be the main guy at Raw. A+ pick.
Dean Ambrose went second, headed to Smackdown. Another obvious choice. They can’t have both Ambrose and Rollins on the same show. Not such a great idea to send the World Heavyweight Championship over to Smackdown, and for that reason we have to give this pick a B+.
Charlotte was the first female wrestler selected and she goes to Monday Night Raw. Her reign as champion has gone on a little too long and she needs to drop the title soon. Because of that, I for one do not care where she goes. I’m giving this pick a C. Not because it’s terrible but because C is right in the middle and neutral is how I feel about Charlotte.
AJ Styles to Smackdown, in a move that could really help propel the “B+ show” into prominence. Styles is a superstar and wherever he goes, viewers will tune in to see him. Although, on the flip side he is almost too good for Smackdown. This pick deserves an A-.
Finn Balor to Raw. This one worries me because we all know how great Balor is. And we all know how shitty Vince is with character gimmicks. I almost wish Balor had gone to Smackdown to put a little bit of a buffer between him and Vince’s main creative team. But Balor deserves Raw. He deserves a top spot. B+ for the overall decision to draft him to Raw and a C- for drafting him a week before a crap pay-per-view on a Tuesday night. Before you get up in arms and send me hate mail, these are just my opinions and the grades are in no way a reflection of the athletes themselves.
Roman Reigns to Raw. I hate this pick. I understand it, but I hate it. Roman Reigns should not be a top tier guy. He should never have been. But it is what it is. I wish he would get back to NXT for development because his ringwork is stale and his mic work is awful. As it is, he’s going to Raw and I give that my lowest grade so far of a D+.
John Cena to Smackdown. The only grade I can give this is an A+ because it means that the flagship show will not feature Cena. Although, one could make the argument to downgrade to an A- because Cena went to the show that has the world title, which is stressful for people that hate Cena any where near the WHC.
Brock Lesnar to Raw. I’m not sure if I want to give this an A+ or a B+. On one hand, Lesnar deserves to be on Raw. He is a heavyweight powerhouse. But on the other, Smackdown could really use him to infuse some badassery into it. Yes, I just used the word badassery. Let’s settle with an A for now until we see when and if this part-timer comes back.
Randy Orton to Smackdown. My initial grade for this is a C+. Only because it seems like a setup to shove Lesnar and Orton down our throats for the next month prior SummerSlam. Also, Cena was drafted to Smackdown and we really don’t need anymore matches between these two. However, I am willing to bump the grade up to a B+ because AJ Styles versus Randy Orton is a dream match to me. And I truly believe Orton taking on Baron Corbin could be some sort of beautiful hoss match, charged with ego and dripping with arrogance.
The New Day to Raw. I like this one because they split The Wyatt Family up tonight, which means New Day will probably retain their titles this weekend and that means the tag division will be strong on Raw. Not splitting up New Day was a wise decision. Giving this draft a solid A.
Sami Zayn to Raw. Automatic A+. Zayn is right where he needs to be, and hopefully he will get a push now.
Bray Wyatt to Smackdown. This one is a little bothersome to me. Wyatt has all the tools to be a behemoth superstar. But WWE has creatively dropped the ball on him continuously, as well as making odd booking choices for his match outcomes. If his most recent track record the past year is anything to go off of, sending him to Smackdown cannot be a good sign. D+ for this draft pick. I will admit if I am wrong. Maybe the point of this is to bring him back to life and have him stand alone for a push. I hope that’s the case.
Sasha Banks to Raw. This is a no brainer. Solid gold A. And you can take that to the bank.
Becky Lynch to Smackdown. I’m alright with this selection. It’s apparent that she isn’t getting a title push, and moving to Smackdown gives her a chance to teach the lower card gals and help elevate them in some great matches. She’s likable by the fans and she could help boost the women’s division over in Smackdown. A- for this one, with the one drawback being that she very well could be buried in Smackdown obscurity.
Chris Jericho is picked up by Raw. Now, I am biased on this one because I hate old man Fozzy-bear. Jericho over the past year has had way too many pushes. He has main evented tons of Raw episodes, won a large handful of pay-per-view matches, and even went over at WreslteMania this year. It’s time for these older guys to stop being in the spotlight. I give this draft pick an F. Send Jericho to Smackdown. Better yet, send him home. He should not have been drafted to Raw and certainly shouldn’t have gone this high up in the picks.
Rusev and Lana to Raw. Another no brainer. Rusev looks like a champion. Lana looks like a million bucks. Why wouldn’t you want these two easy-on-the-eyes roster members on your highest rated show? A+
The Miz and Maryse go to Smackdown. Giving this one a C-. I am over The Miz. And I am definitely over The Miz being Intercontinental Championship. And Maryse does nothing, so why was she included in this draft? The only reason this got a C- and not a D- is because he went to Smackdown and not Raw. Keep the title off of Miz, and keep the Miz off of Raw.
Kevin Owens to Raw equals A++. Owens and Zayn are on the same show. That’s money all day. Raw being the prominent show means that Owens gets to be in the spotlight where he belongs. Good stuff, here.
Baron Corbin to Smackdown is a weird thing. But, with the other guys being drafted there, it could spell good things for the Lone Wolf. If a couple of superstars take them under their wing, it could make Corbin a better worker and smoother on the mic. A- for this, in my opinion. The worry here is the big man being jobbed out and lost in the shuffle.
Enzo and Cass to Raw. Again, no brainer. A+. Keep the tag division strong.
Gallows and Anderson to Raw. Initially this looks like a B- at best. However, it was announced that Finn Balor will be coming to raw. I will bump this up to an A- as I salivate at the thought of mainstream Bulletclub action as Balor takes over the duo and forms a new stable.
American Alpha to Smackdown is a D- for me. These guys deserve to be at the top. If they are getting the callup they deserve Monday Night Raw. That’s it, period. Nothing else is even acceptable. I am very angry about this draft pick. It’s all kinds of wrong, and I cringe at American Alpha having to take on The Usos.
Big Show to Raw. Meh. Giving this one my second F of the draft. Big Show is old as time. He is overused in obscure segments, flip-flopping back and forth between heel and face. I’d rather see him taking a smaller role on Smackdown then wasting television time on Raw. I would have swapped him for Baron Corbin in a heartbeat.
Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown; this one is both hot and cold. On the one hand, this could be a new, fresh start for The Showoff. He is really talented and could benefit from a reboot. On the other hand, I get the sense that the potential to bury him is there and that worries me. Ziggler is a hell of a wrestler and I hope he doesn’t get hidden away on Tuesday nights. Giving this one a straight down the middle C.
Nia Jax from NXT up to Raw. Really? Over Bayley? What a strange call-up, not only for Jax probably not being ready for this, but also the fact they sent her to Raw. D- draft. Keep in mind, the grades are solely on the draft decisions and nothing more.
Neville to Raw is a good choice. Once he returns from injury, he can carry any match and will be a big addition to the cruiserweight division. Giving this one an A+.
Natalya was drafted to Smackdown. I don’t immediately hate this, but it does seem like more betrayal on her family name. She has never gotten a real title push and has never even won the women’s or diva’s belts. She is talented and deserves more than what WWE does with her. I’d prefer her to be on Raw, so this gets a B- from me.
Cesaro to Raw. This is a really solid choice and is hopefully a sign of good things to come for the Swiss Superman. Easy A. Shame on WWE for drafting him so far down on the list. He should have been top ten material.
Alberto Del Rio to Smackdown makes me sad. He hasn’t been properly utilized in WWE for a long time. He is one of the most talented guys on the roster. He seemed annoyed on the WWE Network being interviewed after the draft. I am disappointed right along with him. C-
Sheamus to Raw. I think this one would get a D+ either way. There’s really no place for Sheamus right now, and I really just don’t care.
Golden Truth to Raw. See above. D+ for R-Truth and Goldust.
The Usos to Smackdown. This annoys me because a more interesting angle would have been to split these two up. One to each show and we get to see them stand alone. C-
Titus O’Neal to Raw. Now all he needs is some sort of title. B+ for my money. Would have given an A but Vince has no idea what to do with big, black Adonises.
Kane to Smackdown. I was surprised for this decision. Kane is by and far better than Big Show currently. They should have been swapped. However, Kane will make a home for himself anywhere he goes. And it will be fun to see a little tension between him and Daniel Bryan. A- for this one.
Paige to Raw. She needs to be out of the top tier of the women’s division. She should have gone to Smackdown. C grading for this draft pick.
Darren Young to Raw. I don’t think he’s ready, for either a Raw spot or a title shot against The Miz. D- and that’s being generous.
Kalisto to Smackdown. D+ because this one just doesn’t hold enough weight for me to care one way or another.
Sin Cara to Raw. Sin Cara falls into the same camp as his former partner Kalisto. Although, he might see a big career booster once cruiserweight gets going. For now, a reluctant C+.
Naomi to Smackdown. D+ because she’s almost obscure enough to just get released from the company.
Jack Swagger to Raw. I like it. He’s a worker, he’s big, and the fans dig him. A- decision.
The Ascension to Smackdown. I am giving this an F because Ascension should have never come up from NXT in the first place. They aren’t main roster material and they have been nothing but the job-squad ever since they came up.
The Dudley Boyz to Raw. C- for this decision. They should be no higher than Smackdown.
Zack Ryder to Smackdown. What the heck, I’ll get on board with WWE’s decision to suddenly push the guy. Give this draft decision an A-.
Summer Rae to Raw. Do I like this? I don’t know. Haven’t really seen her as of late. It depends in what capacity she joins the Raw Roster. We’ll give this an apprehensive C.
Apollo Crews to Smackdown. This one irritated me. I really wanted to see him get a slight push and be well received by the fans. Seems like Smackdown isn’t the place for that. B- for this, and hopefully Crews can keep the smile on his face.
Mark Henry to Raw was another baffling decision. Henry, Kane, Big Show, and Jericho should have all been sent to Smackdown to be used sparingly. That being said, I like Henry. And if we actually get to see him running some matches, this could be a B pick.
Alexa Bliss to Smackdown was a bit of a shocker. But this is well deserved. She has really earned her place in NXT lately. I think she’s ready, so let’s give her a chance. I’m rolling with this one. Even A.
Braun Strowman to Raw. I am giving this a D grading because Strowman only made it to Raw because Vince McMahon loves giants. Nothing more. His skill level is not Raw quality.
Breezango to Smackdown. I wish they had split the pair up. Tyler Breeze is talented, but them going to Smackdown as a tag team is dismal. Especially if they go against American Alpha. The skill just is not there. C- is my vote here.
Bo Dallas to Raw. Giving yet another F. I dislike this guy and having him on Raw is a waste of all our time.
Eva Marie to Smackdown. What grade is lower than an F? The test score is so low I may just not grade the test and ask the dean to kick her out of school on an expulsion. She is one of the worst female wrestlers I have ever seen and she should stay off any WWE programming.
Shining Stars to Raw. These guys haven’t done anything at all to warrant being taken to Raw. D- for me.
The Vaudevillians to Smackdown. Finally a team that can go against American Alpha. I like the decision. A-
Alicia Fox to Raw. Meaningless roster pick that just took up a spot that could have been better suited for someone with way more talent. D-
Erick Rowan to Smackdown. I’m okay with this. He’s definitely a B+ player and belongs on the B+ show. In fact, that’s the grade we’ll give this decision.
Dana Brooke to Raw. I think her future could be bright, once she breaks away from Charlotte. Good choice and the right place for her. She needs to go solo though. A-
Mojo Rawley to Smackdown. Strange callup, but if he joins Ryder and the Hype Bros become a main roster tag team, this is a really good thing. I have no complaints about this so let’s hit it with a decent A-.
Curtis Axel to Raw. Ugh. Stay off my television. No star power, and what has he done for us lately? A whole lot of nothing. Heath Slater is much better liked by the fans than Curtis Axel. I didn’t like this weird decision. D+
Carmella to Smackdown is head-scratching. She floundered a bit in NXT after Enzo and Cass left. It would make sense to bring her up and pair her back with them. Now she has to move up solo on a bigger stage and it could spell disaster for her. Not a fan of this draft pick. I’m happy for her, but she should be with her boys. C-
A couple of interesting take away’s from this draft:
- The split up of The Club. While many would view this as a negative for Gallows and Anderson, lest we forget that Finn Balor is a big member of the global Bulletclub, what he calls the Balorclub in NXT. With him and The Club being drafted to Raw, that can only mean good things. Styles gets to go be a badass solo competitor and stand on his own. And Balor can start building a new stable.
- No mention of The Undertaker, which isn’t necessarily an oversight. His status is year to year and this whole brand split might fall apart before WrestleMania next year.
- AJ Styles is solo now and is on the brand with the world title. That just made things all sorts of interesting.
- Nobody drafted Heath Slater. He got a funny segment where he was left sitting in the dark, but it is pretty shitty to not include him. He is the best guy in the Social Outcasts group. The fact that Bo Dallas got drafted and he didn’t is garbage.
- We still don’t know who Sasha Banks will have as a tag partner at Battleground, which potentially could mean we may see a few more drafts next week, including but not limited to Bayley from NXT.
- Three names surprisingly left out of the draft were Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and Eric Young. This would have been a perfect time to transition them up. They are veterans and shouldn’t hang around NXT too long.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
This is it, folks. For better or worse, Smackdown is going live. There’s no turning back. Strap in, we could be in for a bumpy ride. The show kicks off with Daniel Bryan getting a monstrous YES! chant. Stephanie McMahon, Shane, and Mick Foley are all at the top of the ramp with Bryan. Stephanie makes her first pick and she chooses Seth Rollins. Dean Ambrose is picked second for Smackdown. Those were the obvious guys, so no real surprise there. Charlotte goes next headed to Raw. Shane and Bryan then choose AJ Styles for Smackdown.
Mick says he is picking an NXT person next. Crowd murmurs. He says Finn Balor’s name. Then John Cena’s music hits. So instead of bringing out Finn Balor, they show his picture and then introduce Cena. Brilliant. Just got called up and Balor is already getting shit on. Why did they burn that at the very start of the show? It would have been a great time to bring him out right at the end and have him ask to be in the draft.
Then AJ Styles comes out with The Club. He is already wearing a Smackdown t-shirt. Enzo Amore and Big Cass come out next. Of course John Cena just had to be the first person out during the new Smackdown premiere. Gallows wrestling Cena with the other guys just standing ringside. Commercial break about thirty seconds into the match. Less than two minutes after we return from commercial Cena hits an Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall. Just the fact they started the new show out with this has turned me off to the whole thing. This is supposed to be a new era. But somehow it feels just like the old one. Literally another commercial. The only good thing to take away from this so far is that Roman Reigns hasn’t been mentioned. Either he is coming out tonight, or his stock has really plummeted after his wellness violation.
Nevermind. We come back from the commercial and first thing Mick Foley does is pick Reigns for Raw. John Cena goes next to Smackdown. Thank god he won’t be on Raw anymore. Notice Cena and his clone, Reigns, went at the same time. Stephanie picks Brock Lesnar for Raw. Daniel Bryan chooses Randy Orton for Smackdown. Stephanie takes The New Day to Monday Night Raw. Rusev and The Miz vs Zack Ryder and Darren Young in a tag match. So far this new Smackdown is total shit. Another crap match. But at least we are less than a half hour in and we are seeing our second match. That’s a plus. Match is too fast and gets a little sloppy. This is a weird match to include Rusev. He doesn’t exactly match up well with the other three guys. Darren Young makes The Miz tap out with a Chicken Wing submission. Nothing at all good from that match, if I’m being honest.
The Wyatt Family comes down after the break, with The New Day already in the ring. Bray Wyatt to take on Xavier Woods. Finally, a good match. Long, drawn out pacing to start with Bray doing some mat work. Only a few minutes and Sister Abigail ends this one. So much for being a good match. This one is almost a squash job for Xavier. I really dislike New Day vs Wyatt Family. It’s all sorts of weird strangeness. Still, three matches in less than 45 minutes. Can’t really complain about that.
Kane in the ring after the break. Kevin Owens comes down. Before he can get to the ring, Sami Zayn attacks him from behind. They scramble into the ring and Kane hits them with a double chokeslams. This is the first segment I’ve liked all night. After, Stephanie picks Sami Zayn for Raw. Shane picks Bray Wyatt. Not The Family, just Bray. Hmm. Mick Foley picks Sasha Banks for Raw. Daniel Bryan picks Becky Lynch and calls her the best female wrestler. That is a huge overstatement. Chris Jericho to Raw. I will be grading all these picks in an article tomorrow. Jericho is definitely getting an F.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke come down to the ring. The boss, Sasha Banks comes down. Two on one handicap match. Charlotte and her lackey take quick control of the match. Charlotte tags in and Charlotte hits Natural Selection for the win. None of these matches are going very long tonight. Disappointing. Mick and Stephanie select Rusev and Lana. The Miz and Maryse go to Smackdown. Kevin Owens to Raw. Baron Corbin to Smackdown. Enzo and Big Cass to Raw. Side note: Mick Foley called himself a “Certified G-M.” Classic comedy gold, and you can’t. Teach. That.
Cesaro versus Chris Jericho in a match next. Y2J has already been drafted. Cesaro has not. That’s how WWE prioritizes their picks. Cesaro goes to work early, knocking Jericho out of the ring and uppercutting him aganst the barricade. Things get back in the ring and it’s a pretty standard match. But Cesaro makes this one watchable. Nothing too much happens though. Chris Jericho wins, once again. The amount of victories this guy has in 2016 is absurd.
We come back from commercial and Becky Lynch is attacking Natalya with refs trying to separate them. The two go at it a little longer before Becky walks out. Stephanie then drafts Gallows and Anderson to Raw. American Alpha to Smackdown. Big Show to Raw. Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown, getting some nice praise from Shane. Nia Jax to Monday Night Raw. After a commercial break, Stephanie takes Neville to Raw. Natalya to Smackdown, flat response from the crowd. Cesaro is finally taken by Mick Foley. Shane takes Alberto Del Rio. Sheamus to Raw. Those are the final televised picks. There will be more later on the Network after the show.
Seth Rollins comes out. Dean Ambrose comes down. Before the announcements are finished, Rollins attacks Ambrose from behind and we go to commercial. Rollins is hyper throughout, selling himself as a man hungry for the title. I’m finally got emotionally invested in something tonight with about thirteen minutes left in the broadcast. This match is a high spot for the night, and is actually better than their Raw match last night. Superplex by Rollins off the top rope, slams Ambrose down, who rolls through it and hits Dirty Deeds for the victory. Shane and Bryan run down to celebrate. They had him a Smackdown t-shirt. Bryan starts a YES! chant for the second time tonight. That’s going to get annoying really fast with him on Smackdown every week. Dean Ambrose heads into the Battleground triple-threat match as WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Overall, for the first live episode of Smackdown this was no different than any other episode. They should have had the lottery draft on Raw and then a bunch of 3-5 star matches with some surprise NXT debuts for Smackdown. Instead, we get a rematch from Raw and a bunch of long conversations at the top of the ramp as the four leaders chose their roster. This event could have been much bigger. No, it should have been much bigger. It was hyped for months and this is the snoozefest you deliver? I’m actually ready for some new TNA this week because WWE just isn’t doing it for me lately. With a pointless pay-per-view coming up, WWE is probably going to be in creative quicksand until SummerSlam. We’ll cover the rest of the draft picks on Twitter and in a full grade article tomorrow.
Tweet of the night goes to none other than #BROKEN Matt Hardy:
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We are only a few hours away from another attendance record setting WrestleMania. But before we reach the mountain top, let’s take a look back at where we were this time last year.
WrestleMania 31 took place in California, a fact that would be a bane to WWE all night as the early start time resulted in the entire broadcast being pretty much in broad daylight. But it wasn’t all bad, and actually there were some pretty impressive moments.
— The show started with a Fatal 4-Way match for the Tag Team Championships. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro were hitting their stride and defeated The New Day, Los Matadores, and The Usos. What a difference a year makes. In 2016, the tag division is on fire.
— Big Show won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal after tossing out Damien Mizdow. But the real story of the match was Mizdow finally turning on The Miz and ending their abusive partnership.
— In a last ditch effort to revitalize Daniel Bryan, WWE put him in an Intercontinental Championship ladder match. The match was good throughout but featured a weird finish involving a headbutt exchange on a ladder. Bryan would win, but as of 2016 he is retired from wrestling because of ailing neck injuries.
— Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins after blowing everyone’s minds when he reversed a Curb Stomp into an RKO. It was quite amazing. Orton’s absence due to injury has pained us all.
— Triple H came out dressed as a Terminator King to face The Icon Sting. This match wasn’t great but featured so many old school wrestler run-ins that we loved it anyway. Triple H picked up the win.
— AJ Lee teamed with Paige to defeat The Bella Twins. Not much to say here. It was what it was.
— John Cena defeated Rusev, who drove out in a tank with Lana, to win the United States Championship.
— One of the hightlights of the night featured The Rock bringing Ronda Rousey into the ring to take down Triple H and Stephanie.
— Bray Wyatt took yet another big loss as he went up against The Undertaker. The New Face of Fear did the job, and a year later he still isn’t being booked right or pushed strongly. Both competitors’ entrances were ruined by the bright atmosphere.
— The main event was Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the World Heavyweight Championship. Reigns took a massive ass whooping throughout this one and Lesnar served him first class tickets to Suplex City. The match would end historically when Seth Rollins became the first person to cash-in the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania to become the new champion.
This year’s WrestleMania should hopefully be something special. The match card looks strong and mostly everyone is healthy. With control of Monday Night Raw at stake, Roman Reigns’ attempt at revenge, and KO-mania ready to run wild, WrestleMania 32 should be locked and loaded.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Billed as “X-Seven”, there are many in the pro wrestling community who say that WrestleMania 17 is one of, if not the, best Mania of all time. Today we’ll be giving it a play-by-play to see if they’re right and to get excitement building for WrestleMania 32 in Texas next weekend. Ironically enough, X-Seven also took place in Texas, down in Houston at the Astrodome.
First and foremost, we must address that Limp Bizkit did the theme song, which is hilarious to look back on and see that was ever a thing. The company was still WWF back in 2001, and being sponsored by Snickers Cruncher. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are rocking the commentary. Chris Jericho kicks off the show and he gets a huge pop. One forgets how big he was back in the day when he first debuted in the company. Y2J was the Intercontinental Champion then and he’s putting the title on the line against William Regal. For the younger crowd, that’s the old British guy who makes decisions on camera with NXT. But at one point he wrestled and was a damn fine in-ring performer. In 2001, he wrestled but was also the WWE Commissioner, similar to his role now.
The match gets underway in fast paced action, with Y2J going on the offensive, leaving Regal reeling. It doesn’t take long for Jericho to jump over the top rope and hit Regal outside the ring. Top rope shortly after again and Jericho hits him with an elbow. Regal gets some slow grinding ground work in and tries for a pin. The top turnbuckle is exposed and Y2J takes a few hits against it. The crowd is lively, chanting for Jericho. Regal suplexes Jericho off the top rope, which looks awkward with Regal taking the lead but he manages to pull it off. Jericho recovers and tries for the Walls of Jericho. Regal reverses it into a Regal Stretch submission. Jericho reaches the ropes and the ref breaks the hold. Now it’s Regal’s turn to be thrown into the exposed turnbuckle. Jericho hits a suplex, a lionsault and the one-two-three pinfall to retain. A really exciting match with two great competitors, but had it gone on any longer they would have overstayed their welcome.
Shane McMahon arrives in a limo. APA is shown playing cards, with JBL getting them fired up. Right To Censor comes out to heated boos. I remember these guys back in the day. They were the worst. They always came out and covered up the female wrestlers when they were stripping their clothes. They have one of the most annoying entrance themes of all time. They try to speak on the mic, but Taz’s music cuts them off and he walks out, followed shortly by APA. The fight starts at the bottom of the ramp and all hell breaks loose. All the men fight before finally getting in the ring and the ref rings the bell. JBL gets a hot tag because he’s from Texas, crowd goes wild. The amazing thing to see in this match is the fast pace. These guys don’t stop moving. There’s no dead air, there’s no showboating. They just wrestle. The difference between old school and now is easily seen. JBL hits Godfather with a clothesline and APA with Taz pick up the victory.
Raven, the Hardcore Champion, comes out with a shopping cart full of foreign objects. His competitors are Kane and Big Show. JR calls it a “three-way gut check.” Kane and Raven start fighting before Show comes out. Kane throws Raven at Big Show, then Kane jumps off the top rope and takes both men out. The match spills out into the crowd as Big Show and Kane beat the hell out of each other as those in attendance scream in excitement. Raven comes in with a street sign and hits Kane over the head. Kane throws Raven into a wall but is stopped by Big Show and gets slammed onto a stack of shipping pallets. Show throws Raven into a fenced in area, Kane quickly recovers and the two big men go at it. Raven wraps a hose around Kane’s neck and tries to choke him out. Kane throws him through the fence and then through a pane of glass. Big Show throws Kane through a door! This is amazing! Kane and Big Show throw each other through a wall. Raven is waiting on the other side with a card table. He hits them both, hops on a golf cart and drives off. Big Show hops on the back and wrecks the cart. Kane and the ref get on their own cart and speed towards Big Show and Raven. Kane runs Raven over! Raven is bleeding. Big Show throws Raven through a concession stand. It’s obvious all three men are tired. The fight bursts out from the entrance ramp and they are finally back in front of the crowd. Big Show tries to throw Raven, but Kane kicks him and both men fall through a wooden box at the side of the ring. Kane drops a leg on Big Show and wins the Hardcore title! What a match. Wow. Really exciting stuff. Makes me wish the Hardcore Championship still existed. People forget that Kane has been doing his thing for years.
Latino Heat comes out, lead by the late, great Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero is set to take on Test (c) for the European Championship. Both these guys are dead now, which is sad, especially for Eddie as he was one of the best guys to ever lace up wrestling boots. Good action in this one. Test gets his foot caught in the rope and Saturn takes some cheap shots as the ref is distracted by Guerrero. Eddie goes to work on Test’s knee. Test hits a devastating tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie hits a low blow, Saturn comes in and suplexes Test. Eddie goes for the pinfall but Test kicks out. Eddie hits a brain buster. Test hops up and blocks a frog splash. Dean Melenko comes down and pulls Test off when he is about to win via pinfall. The ref gets distracted and Guerrero hits Test with the title. Eddie Guerrero is the new European Champion. Good match with clever interference.
Kurt Angle is set to take on Chris Benoit. I will say that sentence again, because it’s like dropping a nuclear bomb. Kurt Angle is set to take on Christ Benoit. Face to Heel will have an article about Chris Benoit coming next weekend. Right now, we’re going to sit back and enjoy this one. It starts violently fast, going to the mat and each man trying to gain a hold on the other. They trade takedowns. This is pure wrestling. And the crowd is showing respect to both men, knowing the weight of this match. Neither man has the upper hand, as both are submission and reversal experts. They fight for leverage. Benoit nearly locks the Crippler Crossface on, but Angle smartly gets to the rope before the move can be fully applied. Benoit tries again, and again Angle gets to the rope. Angle rolls out to catch his breath. Once back in the ring, Benoit tries again but once again Angle rope breaks. They both spill out of the ring and start doing more traditional “American wrestling.” Angle slams Benoit into the announce table and then the steel steps. Back in the ring, Angle suplexes Benoit and then gets a heated reaction from the crowd as he shows how impressed he is with himself. The story being told in this mach is wonderful. Both men have good in-ring psychology. Benoit hits a superplex off the top rope and both men are down. Benoit locks his arms around Angle and hits him with two suplexes. Angle reverses the third and hits the ankle lock submission. Benoit reverses it and locks in Angle’s ankle! He hits the Crippler Crossface and Angle counters into his own Crossface! The ground game in this match is out of this world exceptional. Benoit puts the Crippler Crossface on and Angle taps, but the ref has been hurt and is no where to be seen. Angle hits the Olympic Slam but Benoit kicks out at two. The crowd is in a frenzy. Angle claims to the top rope and tries a moonsault but hits nothing but Benoit’s knees. Benoit pops up, climbs the top rope and pummels Angle with a flying headbutt. Angle quickly rolls up Benoit, cheats by holding his trunks, and gets the pinfall win. Really the only acceptable outcome for this match is somebody had to cheat. These guys were way too evenly matched.
Later, Angle is being interviewed backstage and Benoit attacks him from behind, locking in the Crossface and Angle taps and squeals. Holy shit. Next up is Ivory vs Chyna for the Women’s Championship. Outstanding. The promo package leading up this is fantastic. The champion, Ivory, comes out first to the annoying Right To Censor music. Chyna’s music hits and the crowd erupts. She is one of the best female competitors of all time. Chyna looks amazing. She is holding a pyrotechnic gun and she shoots fireworks into the air. She is wearing purple and pink, instead of her usually black. Before the match begins, Ivory clocks her with the title. Ivory goes after Chyna’s neck immediately, a spot where she recently had surgery. Chyna regains the upperhand and tosses Ivory across the ring. Chyna hits a strong powerbomb and goes for the pinfall. At the two count, Chyna lets her up so she can keep beating her. Chyna lifts Ivory above her head and lets her fall to the mat. Chyna lays on Ivory and gets the pinfall. Chyna is the new champ. Short match, but well sold and well told. No complaints.
Next Sunday, Shane McMahon is set to take on The Undertaker thanks to his father, Vince. However, this is not the first time the two have butted heads. Back in 2001, there was a storyline of Shane buying WCW and going head to head with his father. At WrestleMania 17, the whole thing would be decided with Shane McMahon taking on Vince McMahon in a Street Fight. WCW wrestlers are shown in a skybox cheering on Shane. Shane introduces the special guest referee, hardcore legend, Mick Foley. Vince comes out, slaps his son and Mick rings the bell. He chokes Shane in the corner, screaming in his face. Stephanie is ringside, cheering on her father. Doesn’t take long for her to interfere, jumping into the ring and slapping Shane. The fight heads up the ramp. Shane clocks Vince with a metal sign. They make their way over to the announce tables and Shane begins a vicious attack with a kendo stick. Shane hits Vince with a TV from the Spanish announce table. He lays Vince on the table and climbs to the top rope. He tries to land on Vince but Stephanie pulls him away and Shane sends himself through the table. Trish Stratus brings a “sedated” Linda McMahon to the ring in a wheelchair. Trish slaps Vince, Stephanie attacks Trish, and Trish beats the brakes off of Stephanie in the ring. The crowd is crazed, on their feet screaming. Mick pulls Stephanie away from Trish, and gets a slap in the face for his effort. Stephanie runs away and Trish and Mick chase after her. Vince notices Linda and goes to attack her, but Foley returns and stops him, rolling her away. Vince attacks Mick from behind with a steel chair. Vince puts Linda into the ring. He sits Linda in a chair in the corner and rolls out to go get Shane. Vince throws his son in front of his wife and then pulls garbage cans from beneath the apron. He throws four into the ring and goes to work denting them on Shane. Linda stands up and kicks Vince in the junk. Mick jumps into the ring and begins clobbering Vince. Vince is down in the corner. Shane gets up, holding a trash can. The crowd is absolutely going ape shit. Shane puts the trash can on Vince’s chest. Shane crosses to the adjacent corner, climbs to the top rope and jumps across the ring and kicks the can into his father’s face. Amazing! Shane covers Vince and Mick counts to three. Shane McMahon wins. What. A. Match.
TLC 2 is up next. The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz (c), Edge and Christian. When these three teams got in a ring together, it was insanity. Tables. Ladders. Chairs. It doesn’t get any better than this. All three teams come out, the titles are hanging above the ring, and the ref starts the match. Let’s do this. Edge and Christian take a ladder into the ring and take down everybody. Matt Hardy tries to climb up to the titles but Edge clotheslines him off. Now it’s Edge’s turn to climb up. Jeff Hardy dropkicks him off. The Hardyz each climb a ladder and drop in unison on Christian. Devon is ordered to get the tables. Crowd goes wild. Two tables are brought into the ring. Bubba Ray powerbombs Jeff into Edge through a table. Three ladders stand in the ring and a table leans in one corner. All six men climb the ladders and start trading punches. All six go down in a missed spot that doesn’t come off well. Spike Dudley runs out and puts Christian through a table. Rhyno runs in. Lita runs in. Rhyno goes to slam Lita, but Spike hits him with a crotch shot. Lita takes Rhyno down, Spike hits him with a chair and he collides with a ladder sending Edge to the floor. The Dudleyz double team Rhyno. Then Lita hits Spike with a chair. She turns around and The Dudleyz hit her with a 3D! Edge and Christian take The Dudleyz out with chairs and set up some ladders. This match is too exciting, I can’t even type fast enough. Jeff Hardy jumps off a ladder doing a back flip into Rhyno and Spike through a table. There are now four ladders set up in the ring. Christian and Devon climb up to try and retrieve the belts. Matt takes the ladder away and both men hang from the belts. Devon goes down. Christian hangs on for a brief moment but then falls. Jeff Hardy walks across the tops of the ladders. He sets one up and reaches for the belts. Jeff hangs on for dear life and Edge spears him out of the air. Amazing. Bubba Ray and Matt Hardy fight at the top the ladder for the belts, but Rhyno dumps the ladder and both men go through a huge setup of tables outside the ring, garnering a “HOLY SHIT!” chant from the crowd. Christian makes his way up and grabs the belts. Edge and Christian are the new tag champs.
Next up is a Gimmick Battle Royal, which might be one of the most hilarious things WWE has ever done. It’s a nice way to cleanse the pallet. After Vince/Shane and TLC2, people need to have some laughs and let their resting heart rate go down. Mean Gene Okerlund comes out, along with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to work commentary. The Bushwhackers, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, The Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink the Clown, Kamala, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael P.S. Hayes, One Man Gang, The Gobbly Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and Sgt. Slaughter are the competitors. The Repo Man is out first. This one goes pretty fast because they spent twenty minutes bringing everyone out. The Iron Sheik wins a very dysfunctional, albeit funny, match. Sgt Slaughter keeps in the ring and puts the Cobra Clutch on Sheik.
Motorhead plays Triple H out. He’s set to take on The Undertaker. The promo package leading up to this is brilliant. The Undertaker comes out on a motorcycle to Limp Bizkit theme music. The American Badass was easily one of the strangest gimmicks Undertaker ever did. It was cool for what it was, but it was weird as shit. Both men are in their prime and this match delivers. Triple H gets his sledgehammer out (not a euphemism) and brings it into the ring. He throws the ref aside and goes to hit Taker, but the ref pulls the sledgehammer away. Triple H goes for a Pedigree but Undertaker reverses it and throws Triple H into the ref. Chokeslam on Triple H, the ref starts counting but he kicks out at two. Then The Undertaker assaults the ref. They fight out to the sound booth and Taker goes on the offense, beating HHH down. HHH gets his hands on a steel chair and goes to work on Taker, landing multiple shots. HHH tries one more shot but Undertaker grabs him for a chokeslam and he throws HHH off the platform, earning a second “HOLY SHIT!” chant of the night. Undertaker jumps off landing an elbow on HHH. They fight through the crowd. Undertaker gets the sledgehammer, goes to hit HHH, but takes a desperate low blow. The ref has been down this entire time in the greatest sell job of all time. The two men trade blows in the ring. Triple H picks Taker up for a Tombstone, but Taker counters it and hits his own Tombstone. Taker covers him but the ref is still out. Undertaker lifts Triple H for a powerbomb, but he’s holding the sledgehammer. Taker gets clocked and HHH falls on top of him. Ref wakes up and starts counting, but Taker kicks out at two. Undertaker is bleeding from his scalp now. HHH smells blood and starts punching him in the corner. Undertaker hits him with a Last Ride out of nowhere and the triple count. The American Badass prevails. Crowd explodes.
Now just look at the matchcard so far. So many talented wrestlers and matches. But we haven’t even reached the main event yet which is the extraordinary rivalry between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. The Rock comes in as champion in a match that many view as the touchstone to The Attitude Era. A perfect finality to wrap the Monday Night Wars up and end the feud between the two hottest stars ever in the company. Austin comes out to maybe one of the biggest pops in WrestleMania history. JR has to scream on commentary to be heard. The Rock comes out as the bad guy, being mostly booed. As soon as the bell rings, Austin explodes at Rock and it’s on. Rock goes for a Rock Bottom early, blocked. Austin tries a Stunner, blocked. Austin dumps Rock out of the ring. This match is no DQ. Rock topples over the railing and Austin follows, as they fight into the crowd. Security struggles to keep the crowd at bay. They return to the announce tables and Rock smashes Austin’s head into the table. Austin knocks Rock down and knees him in the face. They get back in the ring. Austin tries a couple pins but Rock keeps kicking out at two. The crowd is eating right out of their hands. There’s absolutely no doubt these are two of the biggest superstars ever. Austin hits Rock in the face with the ring bell. Rock is busted open. Austin beats his ass for several minutes. Rock finally gets some offense and the crowd boos him. Rock gets the ring bell and busts Austin open. Goes for the pin and Austin barely kicks out. Both men bleeding. Austin barely makes it to his feet and Rock keeps punching him down. They go back outside the ring and Austin hits Rock with an announce table monitor. Everything here is destroyed and it’s carnage.
Back in the ring, Rock locks in a Sharp Shooter and Austin screams and bleeds all over the ring. He tries for the ropes but The Rock drags him back to the middle. Austin claws to the ropes and gets the hold broken by the ref. (Even though this is supposed to be no DQ…) Austin locks in his own Sharp Shooter but The Rock manages to kick out of it. Austin goes to work on Rock’s knee. Another Sharp Shooter by Austin. The Rock breaks it by getting to the ropes. Austin locks in an old school move called the Million Dollar Dream. Rock starts fading, but rallies. He throws Austin on his back and almost gets a three count. The Rock hits a Stunner on Austin, crowd infuriated. Rock goes for a cover and Austin narrowly kicks out. Vince McMahon comes out, crowd calls him an asshole in a colorful chant. Austin hits Rock with a spine buster, but Rock kicks out at two. Rock hits his own spine buster and sets up for the People’s Elbow. He lands it and covers Austin. Vince runs in and pulls Rock off him. The Rock chases Vince around and back into the ring. Austin hits Rock with a Rock Bottom but the champ kicks out at two and a half. The ref gets knocked out of the ring. Austin low blows Rock. Austin asks for Vince to bring a chair into the ring. Austin holds Rock as Vince whacks him with the chair. Austin covers, but no ref. Vince throws the ref in the ring and he starts a slow count. Rock kicks out again! Rock hits a Rock Bottom, but Vince distracts the ref. Rock pulls Vince in the ring and lays the smackdown on him. He turns around, Austin hits a Stunner, but again Rock kicks out at two! Crowd is about to set the whole building on fire! McMahon gives Austin a steel chair. Austin knocks Rock down, but another kick out at two. Austin flips off the ref and goes to work stamping Rock in the midsection with a steel chair. Then he beats him in the back with chair shots. Austin covers and finally….The Rock has been beaten in Texas! Stone Cold is the champion.
He squares up eye to eye with Vince McMahon and shakes his hand. Austin calls for a couple cold ones. He and Vince cheers and chug ’em down. They cheers another round. Austin collects his belt and makes his way to the corners to flip off the crowd. Heyman says Austin has sold out his fans. Rock gets up and Austin hits him with the title. McMahon holds out a beer and the belt to Austin and they walk up the ramp together. JR ends the broadcast yelling, “Why did Stone Cold Steve Austin sell his soul to Satan himself?!”
Commentary Review: An excellent job by both men. Heyman feeds beautifully off of JR. The fact that neither Michael Cole or Jerry Lawler are there or talking just goes to remind me of how much I hate Cole and Lawler on commentary. Heyman and JR sold every move and put their mark distinctly on each match. You can see a stark difference in the flow of commentary then and now. Something has been lost and WWE needs to seriously work to get back the magic of match play by play.
Venue Review: The Astrodome was made for wrestling. The crowd is huge and involved. They cheer, they boo, they react. In fact, they spent most of the pay-per-view on their feet screaming. The sound and lighting is well done. The pyrotechnics all go off perfectly timed with no issues. Having Texas heroes JBL and later Stone Cold in the main event really helped get the crowd into their hometown boys. Production all the way around has everyone at the top of their game. 67,925 people in attendance, and they were heard.
Match Review: This one is just exciting throughout. Fast paced action, very few flat moments. Every guy earned their right to be there. The booking on this event is outstanding. It just builds into a fever pitch and never takes the foot off the accelerator. You never get a chance to catch your breath. It’s one amazing moment after another. At the height of The Attitude Era, WWE was swinging for the fences and hitting everything out of the park. The roster was stacked, beyond belief. The matches were on fire. This is the peak of badass wrestling.
Final Verdict: It’s hard to find many flaws with this broadcast. Even the Gimmick Battle Royal had nostalgia and comedy. Without watching every single WrestleMania and then judging them all, it’s also hard to say that X-Seven was the best Mania ever. However, the arguments are there. Those who say it is, have all the validity they need as you can read above. It is definitely one of the most entertaining, jaw-dropping pay-per-views WWE has ever put on. The atmosphere was electricity. This is 3 hours and 57 minutes of pure wrestling gold.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
On Sunday, March 13th, the Road to WrestleMania ran through Hershey, Pennsylvania for an untelevised live event. In the co-main event, Kane and Big Show fought Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman in a “Tornado Rules Hershey Street Fight,” and AJ Styles challenged Kevin Owens for the IC Title. There were a good number of WrestleMania video packages, according to fans in attendance, but not even The Rock managed to get the crowd excited; feedback states that fans stayed pretty quiet during the videos. For those of you who have attended house shows, you already know the energy is different than a televised event, so this could mean very little. If I’m pessimistic for a moment, it could mean that the WWE is failing to get fans properly excited for WM 32.
There were some solid matches on Sunday. Dolph Ziggler teamed with the Usos and defeated Miz and The Dudley Boyz. Rusev defeated Sin Cara in a singles match. He came to the ring with Lana, which we haven’t seen in a few weeks due to his involvement in the League of Nations and Lana’s new feud with Brie Bella (that is hopefully leading up to the lovely Lana’s first match). Damien Sandow made a rare appearance, teaming with Neville to defeat Heath Slater and Bo Dallas. Our US Champ Kalisto also scored a victory over Alberto Del Rio.
A questionable move of Sunday evening came in the singles match of Ryback vs Tyler Breeze. Fans commented on how Ryback was back in full babyface mode, showing no signs that he was the same person who walked out of a match a couple weeks ago, and then proclaimed to be looking out for only himself. I get that it’s a house show and most people will pass by it, but consistency is key when growing younger talent. The divas had a tag match with special guest referee Paige; Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks defeated Naomi and Tamina.
Our co-main event featured Kane and Big Show defeating Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman. I would enjoy seeing footage of this fight to see how Strowman handles himself in a main event without the other two members of his family. AJ Styles defeated Owens, but it was via disqualification, so the belt did not change hands. AJ was limping after the match, so there is a possible knee injury to worry about here, but chances are it’s nothing serious and could have simply been Styles selling something that happened during the match.
All in all, there isn’t much here to get me hyped for WrestleMania. This event picked up right where Saturday’s Roadblock left off by doing nothing to make WrestleMania matter. Kane and Big Show teaming up could be a draw, but it’s inconsistent with what we see on Raw and Smackdown. Ryback’s departure from his new heel role is questionable, especially since Creative should be working to discourage fans from the Goldberg chants by building his character, not getting lazy with it. Kalisto should be participating in matches that make us excited for the US Title, not having matches we’ve already seen ten times over in the last month. We didn’t get anything new from the divas either, unless you could a guest ref, which I don’t. Styles vs Owens is the one bright spot here; I would enjoy seeing Styles thrown into the IC title picture, especially in time for Mania.
House show or not, I expected more from the WWE. I know that not all talent is present for these events, but there are still ways to create good matches that fit the current storylines. With WWE still struggling to get more and more subscribers to the Network, they need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to get people interested. They failed over the weekend with Roadblock and with Sunday’s event in PA. It’s a huge contrast between NXT’s live event on Saturday, March 12th, which has been described as “action packed,” “a really fun main event,” and “an awesome showing.” Maybe it’s time for WWE to take a few lessons from its younger counterpart.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
We were twenty-four hours removed from NXT’s best show. WWE once again took over New York with the 2015 SummerSlam PPV. Jon Stewart, fresh off retirement, started the show with an in-ring promo. Crowd gives the mention of John Cena’s name a boo. Stewart brings out none other than the Hardcore Legend himself, Mick Foley! The duo banter back and forth, with Mick confusing Brock for Rock. And they start the show. It was good to see Foley, but a really unnecessary eight minutes wasted right at the start of the show.
Interesting choice to start the show as Randy Orton comes out to fight Sheamus. One would have thought that the four team tag title match would have kicked things off. This match might have been better suited with a stipulation. Crowd starts a “You Look Stupid!” chant and Sheamus gets on the mic calling everyone stupid, but Orton quickly quiets that. A very straight forward, almost stagnant match. Starting the show in such an anti-climatic way is a weird choice, although NXT started with a tag title match last night so Dunn probably didn’t want to copy off of HHH. Orton gets his left eyebrow cut open with a small trickle of blood from a Sheamus boot. Orton hits an RKO but Sheamus rolls out of the ring. Crowd is somewhat into the match despite it not even being good enough for a RAW main event. Orton sets up for the punt, crowd goes wild. He attempts it but misses and Sheamus catches him for White Noise, kick out at two. Brogue Kick off the ropes and Sheamus wins.
A New Day comes out and does a rap in the ring. Terrible b-footage from Smackdown sort of promo. So far, HHH has won the weekend. Lucha Dragons come out followed by Los Matadores and the champs Prime Time Players. Another match that easily could have benefited from a stipulation–maybe a ladder with the titles hanging above the ring. Or at the very least an elimination match considering only two men are allowed in the ring at one time. Mediocre booking by WWE. Four good teams in a poorly pushed division. Titus O’Neal and Darren Young both looked very strong in this match. This bout is much more exciting than Orton/Sheamus, garnering a “This Is Awesome!” chant from the crowd. Kofi Kingston gets a sneaky tag and New Day wins the tag team titles for the second time. Iffy ending on an otherwise solid match. Without the gold, hopefully this is now the time to push Titus as a solo competitor.
Rusev vs Dolph Ziggler up next. (Author’s note: I am currently wearing a throwback Dolph Ziggler t-shirt so this particular paragraph of the article might come across as biased.) This match would have been great as an inter-gender tag match because Lana can actually wrestle. Oh well, maybe someday. Ziggler starts with a headbutt and the fight is on! Both guys really did a fantastic job of selling each other and making one another look great. Fast, brutal action. Lana and Summer did their little squabble outside the ring. And then nobody wins via a double count out? What a terrible finish. Lana and Summer then fight but get separated by Ziggler and Rusev. Crowd heavily booing this and you can’t really blame them. What a dismal ending to a match. Three strikes and you’re out, WWE.
Neville and Steven Amill (aka Green Arrow from CW’s show The Arrow) defeated Stardust and Wade Barrett. And that’s all I care to say about that. 90 minutes in and this is so far one of the worst PPV’s of the year.
Big Show comes out to battle The Miz and Ryback (c) for the IC title. It’s a threeway so technically it’s no DQ, but similar to the fatal four way earlier, it isn’t being utilized. Miz looks like a child compared to the two big men. Ryback and Show look beastly, Miz looks like a pancake. Ryback retains in a quick match that I would have liked to see more of. Jon Stewart shown backstage trying to see Brock Lesnar, but Paul Heyman interferes and the two share a moment.
Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper come out. Dean Ambrose enters and Roman Reigns comes through the crowd as usual. Huge boo for the Royal Rumble winner. Pretty exciting match to start. So far this is the best match of the night. Good action, great moves from everybody both inside and outside the ring. Wyatt Family controlling a large portion of this match. The crowd does not like Reigns at all. All four competitors really turned it up a notch. They managed to feed some energy back into the PPV. Reigns hits three Superman Punches. He really needs a new finisher. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on Bray Wyatt but instead of going for a pin, he tags Reigns back in. Reigns hits a spear for the pinfall. Another bad finish to an otherwise good match.
It’s 9:00PM now and they are about to burn Cena vs Rollins. This early in the night? Before the Divas match? Terrible. Just because The Undertaker crawls out from whatever rock he hides under for 360 days a year, suddenly the World Heavyweight Title doesn’t matter? This match is title vs title, winner take all. I made a declaration earlier in the week to friends that if Cena wins tonight, I stop watching wrestling until the next PPV. I just can’t take it. I can’t. I will delete RAW off my DVR and not listen to any news about WWE until next month. Cena enters to a chorus of boo’s. Rollins enters with a huge pop. Rollins comes out looking like the White Power Ranger. Cena looks like he plays for the Oregon Ducks. Crowd is very much in Rollins’ corner. Crowd starts a “Ce-Na-Sucks!” chant harnessing the New Day clap. Hilarious. Rollins is in control early, looking strong, putting on a wrestling clinic. Very impressive move set. It only took until 9:10, but SummerSlam finally picked up for business. Cena puts Rollins in a figure four leg lock, Rollins reverses it and Cena grabs the rope for the ref break. What. A. Match. I hate John Cena but even I can say well done in this one. Cena goes for an AA but the ref gets knocked out. So much for a clean finish. That’s a damn shame. With the ref out, Rollins knees Cena in the nose. Jon Stewart runs in with a chair. Stewart hits Cena! Rollins lands a Pedigree on the chair and Rollins wins! (Author’s Note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!) It’s a shame this couldn’t be a clean finish, but at least Rollins wins and now holds both the WHC title and the US title, first person to ever do so. Bow down to Triple H, smarks. He is still king. Crowd starts a “Thank You, Stewart!” chant. I love it. Byron Saxton cried about it after. I loved that, too. Regardless of my feelings on Rollins winning, this ending was also badly booked.
Divas elimination match up next featuring the Bella Twins, Alicia Fox, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Tamina, Charlotte. Paige, Naomi. Everybody but Nikki and Brie look great in this match. Wait. If one gets pinned the whole team is eliminated? What sort of tedious, yawn-inducing stipulation is that? If you have nine ladies, then it should be single person elimination. More bad booking. Team BAD eliminated first. On a sidebar, Brie Bella needs to stop stealing all the moves and gimmicks of her husband. It’s terrible and makes her look as weak as she actually is. Meanwhile, back in the match, Paige takes a beating for a long time. Becky Lynch gets the pinfall eventually. So much for a “revolution.” This was a terrible match for the most part. At least Team Bella didn’t win. Not much else to say about it than that.
Cesaro and Kevin Owens go to war next. Great action right out of the gate. Kudos to Kevin Owens doing back to back PPV’s. These guys came to play. Push both guys to the moon. They are stars. Great action, crowd is really feeling it. Hard to fault this one. We’ll see how the ending goes. A lot of pretty, pretty moves in this match. Owens hit a tornado DDT and Cesaro strong armed his way into many impressive sequences. Plus, a Cesaro Swing. Kevin Owens wins via pop-up powerbomb. Good match, cleanest ending of the night. Would have liked to see that one go about five minutes longer. Great match, guys. Kevin Owens is a badass wrestler who unfortunately is at the whims of Kevin Dunn booking.
Next up, Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. The rest of the card tonight has me apprehensive. I’m expecting Sting to interfere….or a masked Kane run-in. There’s really no win here for either guy to go over cleanly. We should all be prepared for some sort of shenanigans. And god help us if the big twist is another Paul Heyman turn. Both men come out with equal cheers from the crowd. Lesnar doesn’t even wait for Undertaker to get his trench coat off. He just starts beating on the Deadman. Crowd starts trading “Undertaker!” and “Suplex City!” chants. It doesn’t take long for Lesnar to take the Deadman to suplex city. After a big boot, Lesnar starts bleeding on his forehead. Undertaker looks miles ahead of where he was last year at WrestleMania. Younger, fresher, stronger. But no where near the physical perfection of Lesnar which makes this match hard to swallow. Especially with the devastating suplexes Lesnar keeps delivering. Kayfabe dies every time Lesnar yells, “Suplex City, bitch!” Lesnar clears the announce table and they battle outside the ring. Lesnar hits an F5 on Undertaker through the announce table! Undertaker barely beats the count back into the ring. Lesnar yells, “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch!” Taker hits a tombstone pile driver but Lesnar kicks out at two. Lesnar sits up, laughing. Undertaker sits up laughing as well! They trade punches, crowd goes berserk. Lesnar lands the Kimora Lock. Undertaker reverses it into a Last Ride. Lesnar again kicks out at two! Lesnar hits another F5, Taker kicks out. This match is excellent, way better than last year’s. Lesnar hits a third F5, but Undertaker kicks out again! Undertaker locks in the Hell’s Gate submission out of nowhere. Lesnar reverses it into the Kimora. The bell starts ringing, Heyman screams, “He tapped him out!” Told ya, shenanigans. Undertaker hits a low blow behind the ref’s back, locks in a Hell’s Gate, and Lesnar flips him the bird. Lesnar “passes out.” More bad booking with a lazy, super lousy ending. Let it be said Lesnar never tapped and was never pinned. During the replay, Undertaker clearly tapped out. Heyman goes and rings the bell and gets on the mic. He calls Lesnar the winner by tap out submission. Crowd boos, but Heyman is right. Lesnar’s music hits and the night is over. Disappointing PPV for my money. Triple H clearly won this battle of the PPV’s. Nice try, Vince, but you came up short.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The second biggest event in professional wrestling is finally here and is now a four hour event, not including the preshow. Lita has been confirmed for the preshow panel along with Corey Graves, Renee Young and Byron Saxton. ESPN will be covering SummerSlam this year, which takes place at the Barclays Center in New York. The day before SummerSlam, Full Sail University hosts NXT TakeOver, an event I wish I could have made it to. Let’s take a look at the ten matches on the card and make some predictions.
Prime Time Players (c) vs Los Matadores vs The Lucha Dragons vs The New Day – Tag Team Title Fatal 4-Way Match
For a long time, I wondered how the WWE could have someone like Titus O’Neil on their roster and not have him wearing the gold. Now that he’s tag team champion with Darren Young, I want to see PTP return to their heel roots and truly dominate. As of now, they are more comic relief than muscle. This Fatal 4-Way match looks like an unfortunate collection of all the cultural stereotypes that WWE could throw together. You have the gospel singing, preachy powers of positivity. You have the masked Mexicans, the Spanish bullfighters, and the rough and tough bad boys who are in constant pursuit of millions of dollars. I hope that the tag division digs itself out of this hole soon and all teams get a chance to evolve.
Team Bella (Bella Twins & Alicia Fox) vs Team B.A.D. (Naomi, Sasha Banks & Tamina) vs Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte & Becky Lynch) – Three Team Elimination Match
I’m glad WWE discovered Google and realized that “Submission Sorority” isn’t a good name for a PG era team, but let down with the rest of this Divas revolution. What we have is a trio of cliques who have no real reason to be angry at each other, but just are for some reason. Hormones, I guess. Riding on the coattails of Ronda Rousey, WWE has been cramming this so-called revolution down our throat while simultaneously giving us Total Divas updates and booking pointless matches. A lot of talent is going to waste here, and I’m sitting back and impatiently waiting for the actual revolution to start.
WINNERS: Team PCB.
Kevin Owens vs Cesaro – Singles Match
Owens and Cesaro are two of the most exciting guys in the ring right now. I’m so thrilled about this match that I don’t care who wins, just as long as they win clean. When Kevin Owens made his Raw debut, he came out strong and crushed Cena, winning his first match against him. Cesaro won the first Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal matches and is touted as the strongest man in WWE, pound for pound. These two are the future and need to be elevated and pushed to the limit. I don’t need angry promos, I don’t need stipulations, just throw these guys in the ring and let us be entertained.
WINNER: Cesaro (but I’m pulling more for Owens).
Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper vs Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns – Tag Team Match
Rumors have Reigns turning heel at some point during SummerSlam, and my assumption is that if it happens, it will be near the end of or after this match. The whole Family vs Family dynamic isn’t going to work if Reigns makes the turn too early, and I don’t see Ambrose turning as well to compliment him. Turn or not, this match has serious potential. Harper is better when he’s with Wyatt, and Ambrose with Reigns is only one tiny step away from The Shield reuniting.
WINNERS: Wyatt & Harper.
Randy Orton vs Sheamus – Singles Match
I feel like I’ve seen this match a hundred times over and then some, so it’s hard to get excited for it. You could put the WWE title contract on the line, but it still doesn’t help because Orton winning is more of the same thing we’ve seen a hundred times. This match could have greatly benefitted from a stipulation (a GOOD stipulation), but it will at least give me time to walk the dog and grab a snack during this insanely long PPV.
Stephen Amell & Neville vs Stardust & King Barrett – Tag Team Match
If Amell doesn’t show up in his Green Arrow gear, I am going to be extremely disappointed. This match is 100% designed to get people to subscribe to the network not because they are huge fans of wrestling, but because they are huge fans of Amell (or want to see him destroyed). To his credit, Amell has been training hard for this match. He got over the barricade and in the ring pretty fast on Raw after being smacked by Stardust, so there is the potential for this to be a decent bout.
WINNERS: Stephen Amell & Neville, via pinfall by Amell on Stardust.
Dolph Ziggler (with Lana) vs Rusev (with Summer Rae) – Singles Match
This is both my favorite and least favorite feud all rolled into one. It has been exciting and incredibly stupid all at the same time. Rusev has turned into a strange lovesick puppy dog of a man, Summer Rae is putting Lana in the accolade, Ziggler is kicking ass, there are dead fish involved, and I don’t know what to think. I was hoping that this would be a mixed tag, but Lana may have a back condition that prevents her from ever wrestling, so chances are slim to none that we actually get her in the ring for real. At the very least, we’ll get a great performance from Ziggler and lots of catfighting outside of the ring from our blond beauties.
Ryback (c) vs Big Show vs The Miz – Intercontinental Title Triple Threat Match
The Big Guy facing The Giant makes a lot of sense; Ryback needs to take down Big Show to cement his place and edge out the older talent. Why The Miz has to be involved here is beyond me, unless it’s to give Show a break from constant action during the match. I’m annoyed by this because I still bitterly remember Miz winning the title after hiding on the side of the ring for most of the match, then slipping in to steal it at the last possible second. Miz winning is a predictable and lazy choice that I hope we avoid.
WINNER: Ryback, via pinfall on Show.
Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker – Singles Match
Undertaker has been doing a phenomenal job of becoming the villain and putting Lesnar over even more than he already is. Their collision on Raw looked so real and so unscripted, that it makes me fully believe that these two men hate each other. They are going to destroy one another and anyone who gets in their way. Taker waiting over a year for payback makes sense thanks to Bray Wyatt; the dead man went into hiding until Wyatt called him out, was defeated, and unintentionally revitalized The Undertaker. I’m excited and nervous for this one, as I can see both the benefits and the downfalls of either man winning.
WINNER: Brock Lesnar.
John Cena (US Champ) vs Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight Champ) – Singles Match for Both Titles
My husband pointed out that Jon Stewart’s presence at SummerSlam, combined with his history with Rollins, means that we could very well get some sort of ridiculous interference from Stewart that helps Cena get the win. If this happens, I am setting everything on fire. John Cena took a shit on Kevin Owens’ momentum by securing a victory via tap out in their last match. He took a shit on Neville as well with his miraculous kick-outs that secured him another victory. Cena continues to make finishers look weak by kicking out at two EVERY SINGLE TIME. I’m so afraid of WWE throwing two belts on Cena. I would laugh for days if Rollins won and held both titles, but I don’t think Creative will do it. Even if Cena wins back the US Title the next night on Raw, I can’t see them being brave enough to just go for it.
WINNER: Cena via disqualification, no belts change hands.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker