Disclaimer: I was in a bad mood when I wrote this so reader discretion advised. Read at your own risk.
Our constant readers may have noticed that the F2H family failed to post their usual live review articles about Smackdown Live’s No Mercy and last night’s Monday Night Raw. Have we lost faith in Vince McMahon’s promotion? Are we bored with the product? I’ll answer your question with a question: does a bear shit in the woods? In this instance, the bear is Sean Waltman and the woods is Rena Lesnar’s luggage; and the answer is an emphatic yes.
While on the surface the No Mercy pay-per-view seemed like a solid venture, when you scrutinize it even a little bit, the entire show folds like a wet house of cards. Here is a short list of some of the more cringe-worthy moments of the show. The pre-show featured Jerry Lawler awkwardly flirting and eye-fucking Nikki Bella, a 4-team tag match (overkill in any scenario) that included The Acesnsion, and Curt Hawkins big debut that was only a declaration by him that he would have a match on Tuesday.
Prior to the show, WWE announced the “main event” triple-threat would go on first to start the show, essentially confirming WWE’s lack of confidence in their own product, being fearful that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would pull viewers and bomb their PPV. Although the triple-threat was a decent match, it still featured yet another John Cena title attempt, grasping for the coveted Ric Flair record; and Dean Ambrose in the main event picture, a man with no charism, character evolution, or ability to carry a promotion as either a heel or babyface. And while AJ Styles put on a great outing, I am still watching him on NJPW every week on AXS-TV and his crimped style with WWE is nowhere near his best work in a ring.
No Mercy also featured Nikki Bella utilizing the antiquated 50/50 booking style of WWE in order to beat Carmella. Speaking of the women, Becky Lynch was suddenly injured and not competing. So we saw Naomi not only wrestle but defeat Alexa Bliss. Both finishes were weak and did nothing at all for the losers while barely giving a boost to the winners. The third women’s match of the night was between Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin. Yeah, I said it. Why is this on a pay-per-view? Nobody cares!
The highlight of the night was Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. This was an excellent match and the best on the entire card. Nothing to complain about here. The main event was Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt. Oh great, two of the weakest in-between heel/face chimeras in the entire company. Wyatt has strewn together infinitely more losses than wins. And Orton has been a watered down version of himself ever since returning from injury. The build to this match was terribly dis-interesting. And the big “twist” finish was a Luke Harper run in. This ended a pay-per-view in 2016.
Skip ahead to Monday Night Raw and now we’re really swimming out to the deep end with no life preservers. We’re talking about a show that surprisingly opened with Sasha Banks and Charlotte declaring they were having a rematch INSIDE Hell in a Cell. This was a groundbreaking moment…that was immediately cut short by Rusev interrupting. He insults both of them, along with all women’s wrestling (as does Lana) and hijacks what should have been an epic segment. Then Roman Reigns comes out and further buries the angle. Then, in all of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s jaded wisdom, they put Charlotte on a team with Rusev against the team of Banks and Reigns. Despite Rusev belittling Charlotte, she now gets the “honor” of being his tag team partner.
Do you know why this segment happened? Because Kevin Dunn (a guy that probably has twenty Donald Trump signs in his yard) objectifies women and probably doesn’t think they can carry a moment on their own. They needed big, strong men to come out and bolster their credibility. “Nobody is going to buy women in the Cell! We need men to put it over!” Nevermind the fact that when you have a match with Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte, Lana, and Sasha Banks, the only goddamn babyface in the entire thing is Banks. Reigns is not a face! But WWE continues to try and pair him with any one in order to try and persuade the crowd to oh and ah over him.
Then we have a match between Kofi Kingston and Cesaro. The big angle here is Sheamus sits ringside and tweets during the match. Oh, just brilliant fucking television. Really helps sell Cesaro and Sheamus as a team and absolutely helps make New Day look strong. *vomits in mouth, down onto Ultimate Warrior t-shirt*
Bayley comes out and wrestles Cami Fields. Who? Exactly. She beats a jobber and then gets attacked from behind by Dana Brooke (wearing a way-too-tight outfit) and then Brooke just stands there awkwardly like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights when he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Brilliant. There were four horsewomen in NXT. Becky has the Smackdown Women’s Title. Sasha and Charlotte are breaking new ground fighting for the Raw Women’s Title. Meanwhile, Bayley is given about two minutes against someone named Cami Fields. Just a real career booster for her. Good job, Vince!
The newly formed Cruiserweight Division continues to get its legs cut out from underneath it as WWE, despite having three hours of television, just keeps hitting us with Cruiserweight tag-team matches. We get Tony Nese and Drew Gulak against Sin Cara and Lince Dorado. Without fanfare, Sin Cara is now suddenly in the division. Dorado spends the whole match carrying Sin Cara before picking up the win. According to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, there are only two Cruiserweights named T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick. Anybody who isn’t them will just be the bathroom break match on Raw.
Then we come back from commercial to find Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in the ring. Oh boy! That’ll really boost the ratings! Luckily we are saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But before we can even see them wrestle, they are attacked by The Club. So let me get this straight. Cesaro and Sheamus, a team thrown together two weeks ago get to face New Day, but two of the top three tag teams on Raw have a segment with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel? Then WWE hits us with a bullshit 4-team tag at a PPV the night before? Why not save the multi-team matches for actual talent? I’d definitely watch New Day vs Enzo and Cass vs The Club any day.
Oh, but that segment isn’t even over. After The Club and Enzo and Cass leave, Axel and Dallas are still competing! They demand a team! So we have to suffer through not only them in a match, but a hastily thrown together Sami Zayn and Neville tag-team. Is Teddy Long running creative all of a sudden? We’ve had five matches so far and four of them have featured tag teams! Brilliant! I’m just as baffled as Vince as to why the ratings continue to tank. Fuck you, McMahon.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, we then are “treated” to a match between R-Truth and Titus O’Neal thrown together, on the premise, and I shit you not, of Truth trying to give O’Neal’s favorite candy bar to another wrestler. Now, while I can appreciate both men as they have skill and could be great if pushed properly (yeah right, as if that would ever happen), they certainly should not be in a match facing each other. Why, you might ask? Because they have a combined age of fucking 83. R-Truth is in his mid-forties and Titus is 39. This is not a live-TV match. This is not something you expose people to and then try to laugh off the sliding ratings to the board of directors. In simple terms, this is not a match you put on TV if you want people to take what you do seriously.
Backstage segment with Perkins and Kendrick showcasing the 50/50 booking again. I won’t even elaborate on any of that. Braun Strowman then squashes the “Splash Brothers” (who look like a Sheamus and Xavier Woods cosplay couple) and then asks Foley for stronger competition. If only Braun could be what he’s asking for: better talent. He has become a spectacle much like Big Show, Kane, and The Great Kahli before him. Vince will take a giant, twist and contort them, and turn them into a traveling freakshow.
And then the inter-gender match. Holy shit what a waste of time. Rusev and Charlotte against Reigns and Banks. The big creative ending here was Sasha making Charlotte tap to the Bank Statement timed perfectly with Reigns hitting Rusev with a spear. Been there, done that, played all the way out. Then Reigns and Banks stand with their arms in the air, smiling. As if Reigns was suddenly a good guy. Then T.J. Perkins defeated Jinder Mahal. Oh wait, that was Ariya Daivari. Another useless squash match doing nothing for anybody, including the viewers.
The main event was Seth Rollins versus Chris Jericho. Alright, I really can’t complain about this if I’m being fair and unbiased. It was a great match, highlight of the night for me. My only real gripe is that Jericho has main-evented a shit ton of Raw’s this year and did so again last night. Yes, Jericho is awesome. And his work these past few weeks with Kevin Owens has really been the crutch that has saved Raw from swirling into a black hole from wince there is no return. That being said, Jericho is older than both R-Truth and Titus O’Neal. Is the best WWE can do is to have a 45-year-old in the main event? Does that sound bonkers to anyone else? It says a lot about how incredibly talented and what great shape Y2J is in; but it also speaks volumes about how weak WWE thinks their own product is.
They don’t trust their youngers guys to do the job. They don’t have faith or confidence in their roster. And this is true across the board. Both Raw and Smackdown suffer from this inability to pull the trigger on younger talent. The result is getting a 39-year-old John Cena in a main event trying to get another world title. When is WWE going to move on? They speak of a new era and yet continue hitting us with out-to-pasture talent. Now the big hyped up sell is a potential match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, a match about fifteen years too late between two men with a combined age of 88. Granted, both men are genetic anomalies (Lesnar more so on the chemically enhanced side) and will probably look great. But the point being is that WWE continues to live in the past. And the WWE Universe seems nostalgic to days gone by.
That’s why Sasha Banks gets a pop for mentioning Eddie Guerrero. That’s why Charlotte gets a “Woooooooooo!” every single time she mentions her dad. WWE doesn’t do anything to make their current talent relevant. They are censored and limited and forced to get over by mentioning long since retired or dead Superstars. It’s a vicious cycle all the way around. Fear, uncertainty, doubt; it all mixes together to make WWE unsure of their talent, the talent unsure of their place, and the fans unsure of why they should even give two shits about any of it. There are so many problems to list but I’m just one man and this article is already absurdly long. I have a love/hate relationship with WWE. It’s a frustrating partnership because I see the potential of what this company could be. As a kid I watched wrestling. Then I grew up. But wrestling never did. It plateaued and in some instances took a step back.
You can blame the break of kayfabe. You can blame the dirt sheets. You can blame the internet. You can even blame Vince for bringing too many promotions together and “killing the biz.” It doesn’t matter what the cause was. The effect is what truly matters, and in this case the effect is mediocre, unfulfilling, lazy, and often boring professional wrestling. CM Punk said it best: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire.” The reason why he isn’t is that the wrestling experience he presents is no longer thrilling to a certain extent. We demand more but WWE keeps coming up short. Smackdown Live is on tonight and we won’t be doing a live review for that either. If they want us to write something, they need to give us something worthwhile to write about. Until then, let the onslaught begin.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After watching Smackdown’s Backlash PPV last night, Raw has a lot to live up to. General Manager Mick Foley starts off the night, acknowledging Becky Lynch’s victory in winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship, but insists that Raw still has the best female wrestlers in the business. He invites out Charlotte, who is accompanied by Dana Brooke. Charlotte makes it clear that she is fed up with Dana Brooke, then Sasha Banks comes out to tell Charlotte that she’s taking back the Women’s title at Clash of Champions. Bayley is out next, saying that she also deserves a title shot for beating Charlotte last week. Sasha takes off her jacket and hits Charlotte square in the face with it, which just cracked me up. Mick Foley decides that Sasha and Bayley will face off, with the winner facing Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Out of nowhere, Dana slaps Charlotte across the face, which has been a long time coming. With that, Mick adds Dana to the match, making it a Triple Threat to decide Charlotte’s next opponent.
The triple threat match starts right after the break, with Brooke looking strong right away. Banks’s lower half of her midsection is completely taped up, but she gets the upper hand on Brooke and tries for the first pinfall. Brooke throws Banks from the ring, then Bayley sneaks in to try for a pin. She quickly gets control of the match, locking Brooke in an arm bar that she is unable to break free from. She throws Brooke against the ropes, where Banks drags her out of the ring. The two team up briefly against Brooke to keep her out of the match. Brooke isn’t out for long; she targets Banks’ injured back and then sets her sights on Bayley. Banks gets back in, stacking Brooke and Bayley in the corner to hit them with her knees, but Bayley rolls away and goes to the ropes to hit a cross body. Brooke hits Bayley and Banks with a double clothesline, then tries pinning both women to win the match. Sasha hits both women with a superplex, but can’t finish this. She hits a backstabber into the Banks Statement, but Bayley breaks the submission hold. Bayley hits Brooke with a Bayley to Belly, but now it’s Sasha breaking things up. She rolls up Bayley and secures the win and her match at Clash of Champions!
Backstage, Dana Brooke tries to apologize to Charlotte, but is shut down as our champion demands Brooke grab her bags, then walks away. We move on to a dreadful Shining Stars promo. Primo and Epico are trying to sell a timeshare to R-Truth in Puerto Rico. Not even R-Truth can make these two interesting. Before Truth can waste his money and more of his time, Goldust saves him and takes him away. Enzo and Cass step in next to shut down the not-so-Shining Stars. Enzo challenges the pair to a tag match for later tonight. Next, Tom “Tyler” Phillips interviews Kevin Owens, who is fed up with both Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Owens promises to leave Clash of Champions with his Universal Title. Jericho pops in next, announcing to Tom “Felipe” Phillips that Sami Zayn will be on the Highlight Reel tonight.
Back in the arena, Bo Dallas makes his way to the ring. He says some Dr Seuss rhyme to his opponent, Brandon Scott, and to the audience about Bo-Lieving in Bo. Scott is able to drive Dallas fro the ring, but is caught in the corner, allowing Dallas to slam him to the mat. The crowd is chanting “Let’s Go Jobber” as Dallas hits a clothesline. He quickly pins Scott for the win in a fast squash match.
The Highlight Reel is up now, and Jericho is upset that Kevin Owens was not allowed to be on the reel tonight. He gets down on the mat to demonstrate how low he thinks of Sami Zayn before inviting him out. Jericho rubs in the fact that Owens and he are no longer friends, then Zayn asks why he’s even here. Jericho wants to know why Zayn ruined his friendship with Owens, but Zayn doesn’t want to talk about him anymore. He does want to talk about the Universal Championship, which he plans on winning one day. He also points out that if Jericho honestly believes that Owens is his true friend, he is the stupid idiot in this equation. Jericho gets fed up and hits Zayn with a cheap shot into a Code Breaker.
Sheamus and Cesaro are facing off in the 5th match in the Best of 7 series. This is a No Disqualification Match! Just kidding; they haven’t given us anything interesting to vary these matches whatsoever. Just regular ol’ matches, first to pinfall or submission. Sigh. Cesaro tries for a submission hold, but Sheamus slips outside of the ring. He hits some uppercuts before rolling Sheamus back into the ring for a pin attempt. Sheamus is up 3 victories to 1 right now, so Cesaro can’t lose tonight. The two go up to the top rope, but Cesaro knocks Sheamus away and starts again with the punches to the face. He hits a crossbody and goes for a pin on Sheamus. Cesaro is on his back, while Sheamus tries for the Cloverleaf. The nearfalls are starting now as Cesaro locks in the Sharpshooter, but Sheamus gets to the ropes. Cesaro is able to roll Sheamus up and use the ropes to secure the pin and get the win, moving this series to 3-2.
Backstage, Seth Rollins addresses Foley; he’s grateful for the save from suspension but unhappy with Roman Reigns getting yet another title shot. Foley says that Reigns was just as wronged as Rollins was. Rollins wants to bring Stephanie McMahon into this conversation, especially considering what Triple H did, but she’s away in Singapore. Foley gets heated when Rollins questions his integrity, and Rollins ends the conversation by calling him a fool if he continues to support McMahon.
Nia Jax faces off with Alicia Fox next, which is her first match against a regular member of the Raw roster. Jax quickly throws Fox into the corner, flinging her around like a rag doll. She fights back, but is knocked out of the ring. Jax follows her out and gets a kick to the face before Fox jumps on her back. Jax quickly regains control, throwing Fox into the barricade over and over. Jax drives Fox through the barricade, getting a brief “Holy Shit” chant for her efforts. Love it! As the referees attend to Fox, Jax stands by, glaring at her opponent before walking away to cheers from the crowd. I’m so glad to see the fans getting behind her!
The New Day come out to brighten the mood, promising us that we will NEVER have to see that godawful “Old Day” nonsense ever again. Thank you, New Day. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson come out to break up the fun, getting some cheap heat by calling the crowd stupid. They promise to win the tag titles at Clash of Champions, and head to the ring to face Woods and Kingston. Woods and Anderson start things off, with Woods delivering elbows to the rhythm of the New Day Rocks chant. Kingston tags in and goes to the top rope to deliver a boot to the face. Anderson pins Kingston in their corner, then tags in Gallows who throws Kingston from the ring, allowing Anderson to tag in and take Kingston to the mat. Gallows kicks Kingston in the face once he’s back in the ring, then hits elbows. Kingston is able to knocks Gallows off the apron, but is hit with a Spine Buster by Anderson. The Club start using quick tags to isolate Kingston and keep Woods out of this match. Woods is finally back in the match and he knocks Anderson into the ropes, takes out Gallows, and nearly wins the match. The two trade punches, with Anderson ending it with a rough uppercut. Woods is able to hit a DDT, then dives off the top rope to hit an elbow. The Club gang up on Woods, hitting the Magic Killer for the win.
Jinder Mahal, AKA “The Man Who Comes In Peace,” comes out to the ring next. Who made up that nickname? He says something in foreign, then lets us know that he has learned to let hate go and has found inner peace. I miss 3MB. Cue Jack Swagger, our representation of America, who is apparently going to beat up the evil peace-loving Mahal. Mahal immediately goes to his knees, saying he comes in peace, then hits Swagger with some forearms before pinning his neck on the ropes. Swagger regains control outside of the ring, but Mahal kills his momentum as soon as the two reenter the ring. He tries pin after pin, but Swagger won’t stay down. He hits a belly to belly suplex, followed by a kick to the face. Mahal counters the Swagger Bomb and gets the pin on Swagger! That one was a surprise. Good for him.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass come out now; the crowd goes wild when these two enter an arena. The Shining Stars come out next, and get the exact opposite reaction from the crowd. Literally no one cares. They are terrible. Enzo faces off against Epico, who lifts Enzo into a vertical suplex. He asks if he should do it again as the crowd chants for Enzo. Epico tries for a quick roll up but can’t get it done. Enzo starts landing punches, then dances around the ring before going to the top rope. Primo distracts him before he can dive off the rope, but Cass steps in and takes Primo down. Enzo dives off the top rope to take down the Shining Stars, and the referee begins the count. Enzo is about to suplex Epico, but Primo grabs his leg, allowing Epico to get the pin for the victory. What?
Backstage, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins square off. Owens confronts Rollins about his lack of momentum since returning, but Mick Foley breaks things up before it can come to blows. Foley then warns Rollins again to stay out of tonight’s main event. Back in the arena, Roman Reigns walks out to a chorus of boos as we get ready for the last match of the evening. As the bell rings, Owens immediately rolls out of the ring. Reigns goes on the chase, delivering punches and knocking Owens down. He rolls Owens back into the ring, where our champ gets Reigns down to his knees and delivers kick after kick. Owens starts in with the trash talk, allowing Reigns to get the upper hand, which earns boos from the crowd. Owens takes control back (after an obnoxious fan WOOOOS right in his face), going for a pin. He gets Reigns in a chin lock while mocking his “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy” speech. Owens is gold. Reigns is finally able to fight out, delivering clotheslines and yelling about something while the crowd hates on him. After the commercial break, Owens has Reigns back in a chin lock, telling him he sucks and to stay down. Reigns gets to his feet, but throws himself into the ringpost thanks to quick thinking by Owens. He throws Reigns into the stairs, but Rollins runs down the ramp and begins attacking Owens, causing Owens to win via DQ. Does this mean I don’t have to see Reigns at Clash of Champions? Or is Foley about to kill Rollins’ title chances?
Foley gets in Rollins’ face and the two stat yelling at each other. Foley demands that Rollins go backstage so they can talk, then restarts the match. The bell rings and Owens immediately throws Reigns into the stairs again. Reigns starts to gain his Cena-strength and hits Owens with punches before hitting a clothesline that Owens made look awesome. He starts hitting Owens in the chest, then lifts him up and into a Samoan Drop. Please don’t let Reigns win. Owens goes full Matt Hardy and bites Reigns on his side to block a move on the ropes, but sadly Reigns gets back in position. Owens counters at the last second, but John Cena — I mean Roman Reigns, kicks out at two. He hits a frog splash but long-haired Cena kicks out at two again. Owens shoves Reigns in the back of the head, telling him to stay down. Owens hits a superkick, mocks Reigns’ battle cry, and tries for a Cannonball, but Reigns ducks away. Reigns hits a Superman Punch, but Owens thankfully kicks out. Owens hits two solid kicks to the face, then connects with the Cannonball. Twice! Reigns lifts Owens up into a powerbomb, but he kicks free. Man. I do not want a Triple Threat match, you guys. Come on. Out of nowhere, Rusev shows up! His distraction allows Owens to hit the Pop Up Powerbomb and win the match! Thank you, Rusev, for saving us from Reigns in a main event. Bless you.
Owens makes his way up the ramp, but Rusev isn’t done. He attacks Reigns, who is now lying helpless in the middle of the ring. Rusev lands punch after punch to a helpless Reigns, who is “out” according to our announce team. Lana stands at the top of the ramp, holding Rusev’s title and looking gorgeous. In the ring, Rusev locks in the Accolade, screaming as Reigns is twisted and unable to counter. Give me more Raws that end with Reigns getting his ass kicked!
I went into this Raw expecting the worst, partially because I was exhausted from grocery shopping and dealing with pharmacies and a sick kid, and partially because Backlash last night was so good. I’m glad that they surprised me tonight with a great show that had minimal lulls. The main event was fantastic, thanks to Rollins, Foley, and a surprise return by Rusev. Next week on Raw, the Cruiserweight Division will make their debuts, and I cannot wait! Be sure to follow @facetoheel on Twitter for updates throughout the week.
Article by Mrs. Jamie Baker
There’s been a lot of online chatter for this new cat No Way Jose down in WWE’s NXT Full Sail developmental program. (You know, that small scale Triple H project.) For No Way Jose, real name Levis Valenzuela Jr., some people like him, some people don’t. Signed with NXT in 2015, Valenzuela Jr. had his debut in April under his new gimmick and lines were immediately drawn in the sand with wrestling “fans” either loving him or hating him. For those that ragged on him, they never really gave him a chance.
Sure, No Way Jose premiered as an over-the-top dance instructor and was very green in the ring. His catchy song and fun demeanor carried him until he started looking good and winning strong. The past few weeks have really seen him come into his own. He tried being a friend to Austin Aries, only to have it come back to bite him as Aries attacked him when the two were dancing on the announce table. The usually happy-go-luck No Way Jose stopped being so nice. He got a crazed look in his eyes and has since won by dominating fashion in the ring. He’s still a blast to see come down to the ring, but now when he gets there, he can be taken seriously. He adapted his character to be more than just a shucking and jiving fun-loving uncle.
Last night, after handing a crushing loss to Steve Cutler, No Way Jose grabbed a mic and cut a fairly decent promo against Austin Aries. It showed a completely new side of Jose, and let us know there’s more to his gimmick than meets the eye. Jose told Aries that he was just trying to reach out to him and spread a little joy but obviously Aries mistook him for something he’s not. And now he’s going to turn his fiesta into a fight and whoop Aries’ ass. It was a surprising moment for the typically jovial wrestler and really impressed me. He’s got some tools in the shed and now that he’s using them, I like him even more.
Not everything in wrestling has to be taken quite so seriously. We don’t want WWE looking like Lucha Underground in terms of dark, gritty vibes. Lighten up a little and try to have some fun. Bottom line, there’s always been a place in wrestling for guys like No Way Jose. Remember Carlito, spitting in the face of people who don’t want to be cool? Same sort of gimmick. Remember Brodus Clay, asking us all to call our mama’s as he bogeyed downed to the ring? Same thing. Remember the tag team Too Cool, bouncing around and dancing during matches, much to the fans’ delight? How is that any different? Hell, even the current main roster has two guys just like that. Fandango danced his way into our hearts so quick and so fast that Vince McMahon let him pin Chris Jericho at WrestleMania. And Bo Dallas, although not a tiny dancer type, always tries to put positivity and upbeat enthusiasm whenever he comes down to the ring. For that matter, how is No Way Jose any different than The New Day, current WWE Tag Team Champions and safe to say one of the most over groups since The Shield? What we’re trying to say here is stop being so quick to judge. Wrestlers are often thrust into gimmicks they don’t want or hate and it takes them awhile to adjust. Some falter, some succeed. As he is currently being used, No Way Jose is thriving. He ran with his role and embraced it and you should reconsider your outright hatred of him. He’s actually a great addition to the roster.
You can see No Way Jose every Wednesday on the WWE Network during the NXT broadcasts. And he will be facing The Greatest Man in the World, Austin Aries, next month at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. All he wants to do is have fun and bring a smile to fans. Stop being such a Scrooge about it.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
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
I’ve decided that the whole “Elimination Chamber is no more” story was just a ploy to get us excited about its “return” a few months after it would have originally been scheduled. It was definitely effective because I can’t wait to see nearly every match on the card. We have two matches that will take place in the chamber and every title is on the line except for the US Title. Don’t worry though, I’m sure the John Cena Open Challenge will resume on Raw. Daniel Bryan is injured and may never wrestle again, but he will make an appearance on MizTV and possibly begin taking other steps to continue employment in the WWE in a role outside of the ring. Let’s take a look at the card and make some predictions.
Nikki Bella (c) vs Paige vs Naomi – Divas Title Match
I feel that the return of Paige screwed up what was shaping up to be a good thing. We have the Bella Twins, a team that has been dominant and contains the current Divas champ. We have Naomi, the most athletic woman on the main roster who just teamed up with the ferocious Tamina Snuka. And then Paige runs back in and throws herself into a title picture that had no place for her. Naomi and Tamina are such perfect opponents for the Bellas. Reality TV Stars vs Athletes. Strength vs Beauty. Their looks, style, and obvious goals are night and day, which made their budding feud so perfect. Paige does not belong in this match. I understand that she deserves it because she earned a shot, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been put off for a few weeks in order to allow Nikki and Naomi to take things further.
WINNER: Naomi. The Divas division needs a serious makeover, and Naomi is the perfect starting point.
Neville vs Bo Dallas – Singles Match
I dread this match and am excited to see it all at the same time. I’m not a fan of Bo Dallas in any sense of the word. When he had his initial debut on the main roster that featured a small feud with Wade Barrett, I was into it. Unfortunately, he went back to NXT and turned into a walking self help book. The reason this match excites me is that Dallas and Neville had plenty of time to work closely together during their time in NXT, Neville is pure gold in the ring, and those two factors have got to result in a seriously amazing match. I will even admit that Dallas can be really entertaining when he wants to be. I expect to see Dallas dominate the first half of this match, with Neville making a major comeback at the end.
WINNER: Neville. I would like to see him now moved into the IC title picture.
The New Day (c) vs The Ascension vs Los Matadores vs The Lucha Dragons vs Prime Time Players vs Cesaro & Kidd – Tag Team Title Elimination Chamber Match
I am psyched to see this many people in the chamber, especially with titles on the line. Having six men involved is brutal enough, so doubling that with two men per pod means these 12 competitors are in for a world of hurt. My guess is that we have the throwaway competitors begin the match; The Ascension and Los Matadores. Neither team has a chance in hell of winning and neither team will get the audience excited once their pod door opens. This leaves the serious competitors locked away. I imagine New Day will be first or second to exit, and PTP or Cesaro & Kidd will be saved for last. This is the strongest that the tag division has looked in the past couple of years and it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
WINNER: Lucha Dragons. I fully expect them to have a very short title reign to build for something bigger in a few months.
Kevin Owens (NXT Champ) vs John Cena (US Title Champ) – Singles Match
The greatest thing wresting has going on right now is Kevin Owens. He is brutal, honest, and he destroyed John Cena in a way that delighted everybody watching. He verbally and physically owned Vince’s golden boy on his Raw debut, made it clear that NXT trumps the Raw main roster, and ended by taking the US Title down a few more notches. Owens has been wrestling for as long as Cena has, is a former ROH World Champ and ROH Tag Team Champ, a three time winner of the PWG World Championship and Tag Team Championship, and winner of the CZW Iron Man Championship. He’s not a rookie, not someone who needs to prove something to Cena (or to the rest of us), and certainly not lacking in skill or confidence. Owens is taking the whole “go through Cena” initiation quite literally by plowing him down without a second thought. This is the first time since Brock Lesnar issued an epic beat down that I have been excited about a match involving Cena.
WINNER: Kevin Owens. I want him to own this match in every sense of the word.
R-Truth vs Dolph Ziggler vs Ryback vs Barrett vs Sheamus vs Rusev (or Bray Wyatt) – Intercontinental Title Elimination Chamber Match
Each of these men have every reason to want a win in this match, and there is no shortage of bad blood between the six competitors. R-Truth recently competed to win the IC title in a ladder match at Wrestlemania while Wade/Bad News/King Barrett still held the gold. His involvement in the chamber doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but he’s entertaining. Barrett and Sheamus will likely be the most violent, with Ryback as a close third. I’m very excited to see Ryback compete and hope he begins in a pod, exiting second or third. Our resident underdog, Dolph Ziggler, is going to be a fan favorite to win this match, but after another fan favorite won this title and then handed it back due to injury, I don’t know if Ziggler’s chances are good. Rusev would have been our sixth man, but thanks to an injury during Smackdown, he will likely be replaced by Bray Wyatt. At the time of this posting, WWE has not made an official announcement. The Ziggler vs Rusev story will be sidelined, but replacing him with Wyatt allows the Ryback vs Wyatt story to grow a bit more. Every single person involved here is seriously solid; there is no way this match can fail to be fantastic. I think Barrett and Truth will start, with Ziggler saved for last.
WINNER: Ryback. Because Ryback Rules, that’s why.
Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose – WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
I would seriously enjoy having Ambrose hold the title. He quickly became one of my favorite wrestlers after The Shield disbanded. Ambrose is comic relief, hard core wrestling, and just all around entertaining. It would be a hell of an upset as well if he were the one to take the title from Rollins. But it’s not going to happen. Seth Rollins hasn’t had enough time with the title yet. He still needs to prove that he can defend the title without assistance from his security team or The Authority. There needs to be a resolution between him and Randy Orton, as well as closure with Kane. He needs to have title defenses that he wins cleanly without outside assistance. Most importantly, Rollins still needs to deal with Brock Lesnar. He won the title from Lesnar by inserting himself into the match via MITB cash in, then pinning Reigns to win, leaving Lesnar completely out of the equation. This needs to be addressed while Rollins still has the title. For this match, we won’t get a title change but we will get to see Ambrose and Rollins put on one hell of a show to close out the night.
WINNER: Seth Rollins, but don’t expect an easy victory.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker (@_CutePoison)
Adrian Neville had his debut on the main roster last night. We also saw Lucha Dragons and The Acension in a tag match. And this past Sunday, Hideo Itami “participated” in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. But there are still dozens of skilled workers down in NXT who would make excellent editions to the main roster. To smooth their transition up to the big leagues, here’s six pairings to get them in and over with the Raw and Smackdown crowd.
Damien Sandow and The Vaudevillians – If you aren’t sure who Damien Sandow is, perhaps you know him by his other name Damien Mizdow, the once stunt double turned personal assistant turned rival of The Miz. Damien Sandow was once a great superstar. He was receiving a huge push. He even won the 2013 Money in the Bank match for the World Heavyweight Championship. But then he cashed in against John Cena, lost, and got buried in obscurity hell. For months he dressed up in silly costumes, until finally landing a hilarious gimmick as Damien Mizdow. He is over with the crowd and broke off any further relationship with Miz as of WrestleMania. Aiden English and Simon Gotch make up the NXT tag team The Vaudevillains. When intereviewed about their pairing, Gotch stated, “Aiden is clearly a gentleman of class and sophistication. It made for a natural pairing, since the NXT locker room is rife with ruffians and the uncouth.” Just that statement alone makes for an excellent match with the former Intellectual Savior of the Masses. The Vaudevillains are a nod to throwback strongmen. Damien Sandow is a throwback to elegance from a different time. The trio together could be something amazing. Sandow could ‘raise them up out of perdition’ and lead them to the main roster as a mentor and leader. Together, the three gents could help to clean up Raw and Smackdown. This is a fantastic idea. You’re Welcome.
Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze – Let’s face it, Dolph Ziggler is never going to get the push we all want and know he deserves. It just isn’t in the cards. Meanwhile, the tag division in WWE isn’t getting any better. Our options are The Usos, Cesaro and Kidd, masked Lucha wrestlers, The Ascension, A New Day, or, well, The Usos again. Something that is drastically missing in WWE is good tag teams. And not just the ‘throw John Cena with an over babyface’ tag team. Like a real duo that stays together for a couple years getting better in the ring and actually being teammates. This would be perfect for Ziggler. Dolph Ziggler: Tag Team Champion, we’d all cheer for that. Unfortunately, there’s not really anyone to pair him up with on the main roster. Enter the selfie taking, self-absorbed, over-the-top ego of Tyler Breeze. It’s a match made in heaven. Their outfits would be so bright they’d make blind people squint. Their in-ring skillset would be fast and exciting. They could be either face or heel and still be crazy over with the crowd. And one of Dolph’s monikers can already be their tag team name: The Showoffs. They will be brash, in your face, cocky, and a handsome pair to put butts in seats.
Bo Dallas and Bailey – Lady Jamie of our writing staff is going to hate this, but it was Ross’s idea and it, sort of, works. Bo Dallas would have to take himself a bit more seriously. But picture this scenario. Bailey will probably never win the NXT Women’s Championship. It’s nothing against her as a wrestler, it just seems unlikely. She’s been trying for three years and there is just only so much time before someone younger comes along to win over the crowd. That being said, she jumps to the main roster and becomes a member of the BOlievers, Bo Dallas’ new stable where Dallas is an inspiration for other wrestlers, a sort of motivational speaker if you will. Adam Rose was suggested to join as well, provided he retools his entire gimmick. This would be the perfect group for Curtis Axel to join as well because, let’s face it, Axelmania can only run wild for so long. He will eventually be turned on if he doesn’t try something fresh. Also, Emma, if she can keep her fingers off of unpaid merchandise, could be a great addition to be alongside Bailey. Two females, two males all with Bo Dallas who buy into his shtick whole-heartedly. Under the tutelage of Dallas, all the BOlievers suddenly see a big spike in their careers, getting big wins and opportunities they have never had before. Obviously, this group would have to be upbeat and positive all the time which might get old fast with the crowd, but it might work.
Bray Wyatt and Bull Dempsey – Don’t panic. This isn’t a tag team. For this to work, Bray Wyatt needs to reunite The Wyatt Family. Luke Harper has done well on his own, but Erick Rowan exists somewhere just past Jobber Country. And Bray Wyatt as a solo act, although great, has failed to garner him very many wins when it really matters. The family gets back together, adding in their newest member, Bull Dempsey. Besides already looking like he could be a brother of Bray Wyatt’s, Dempsey is an absolute beast in the ring. He’s big and hairy, two requisites that are necessary for acceptance into The Wyatt Family. This new Wyatt Family could be the anti-Horseman. Just creepy, badass, evil wrestlers that take no shit, give no mercy, and cut a path of destruction through the main roster. Just the vignettes down in NXT of Bray Wyatt trying to recruit Dempsey would be well worth this angle. And these four would be the perfect group to take on The Shield, whenever they get back together again.
Zack Ryder with Big Cas and Enzo Amore – When’s the last time you heard Zack Ryder’s name? It’s been awhile. But honestly, the guy is a very good wrestler. It’s too bad his character was one dimensional as hell and got stale. If there’s two things Big Cas and Enzo aren’t, it’s stale. They have high energy and like to have fun. On top of that, they are really good in the ring. If Ryder needs a character tweak, what better than to have him get in with fellow east coast brothers? Ryder is from Long Island. Enzo is from Hackensack. Cas is from Queens. Stop and think about that for a moment. A New York/New Jersey mashup? Just think of the MSG pop for these guys. The setup could be brilliant. Ryder, so used to being squashed, is out doing his usual job, taking a punishment from some bruiser. Enzo’s music hits and he and Big Cas come out to save the day. Afterwards, Enzo grabs the mic and looks at Ryder. You know what he says right? “HOW YOU DOIN’?!” They hug, crowd goes wild, and we now have another awesome trio. (Oh, if you didn’t notice, this post is all about tag teams or stables. Keep up.) Not sure what you would call these guys. Maybe The New East Coast? Enzo on the mic yelling, “The N.E.C. is in the building, how you doin’?!” It could work, and what’s more, people would WANT it to work. There have been very few if any instances of people outright booing Enzo, Cas, or Ryder. New York is a big town for wrestling. People would want to like these guys and they would.
Ryback and Rawley – Mojo Rawley is an NXT monster. Ryback has never stopped being a monster since he premiered as his current gimmick. Leave these guys as just a tag team and now we have a much more interesting tag division. Rawley and Ryback vs Titus O’Neal and Darren Young? FEED ME MORE! Rawley and Ryback vs Big E and Kofi Langston? FEED ME MORE! Rawley and Ryback laying waste to The Usos? YES! YES! YES! FEED ME MORE! On the upside, you have Ryback who is crazy over with the crowd at the moment. Plus, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Rawley 170th in the top 500 singles wrestlers of 2014. We’d see Ryback’s skillset improve as his new partner showed him all sorts of fancy new tricks. And we’d get to see some devastating in-ring moves as these two tagged together. This won’t be Rybaxel. This could be the new APA. Yes, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only a tad. Their debut would be coming out and doing some sort of two man finisher on Mark Henry. Both men love fan participation and their in-ring energy would be through the roof. The only thing that could potentially ruin this before it gets out of the gate would be WWE Creative strapping a terrible tag name on them. Something like the Meat Grinders or the Skull Crushers. We stay away from that, and we could have a new lethal duo to contend for the tag team titles.
NXT is the recruitment office. Raw and Smackdown is the war. When the soldiers get the order to fall in, they either sink or swim. Sometimes, like in the case of Adam Rose, they get an atomic bomb dropped on their head and that’s the end of the battle. But to see three guys like Ambrose, Reigns, and Rollins get where they are today, the excitement of just what NXT has to offer is nothing short of amazing. But WWE has to be careful. If you take a guy from NXT and shift them too much, the crowd loses interest and you’ve essentially ruined a man’s career.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Good evening, Sports Fans! It’s October, and that means the annual Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. You know the drill, I will live type this article as I watch giving honest, no-bullshit feedback for every match, segment, and ridiculous JBL commentary. As always, please feel free to leave your comments below on your thoughts on how good (or not)the pay-per-view was.
The preshow panel kicked off with Paul Heyman basically trying to figure out what the hell Booker T and Renee Young were talking about. Then we got MizDowTV or MizTV or StuntDoubleTV, not sure which. Sheamus interrupted and Miz threw a hissy fit. The preshow match was Mark Henry vs Bo Dallas, yes again. Total squash match, Henry won in about half a minute.
The show starts with a bang as my favorite Showoff, Dolph Ziggler defends his Intercontinental Championship against the Swiss Superman, Cesaro. This match was scheduled as a 2 Out of 3 Falls match on Smackdown. Great way to start Hell in a Cell and a good stipulation so we can see these guys compete in what is sure to be an epic matchup. This is just what you’d expect from these two under-appreciated wrestlers: fast, aggressive, beautiful to watch. These two should be up towards the top with Rollins and Ambrose in my opinion, but that’s why I’m not running WWE. Cesaro hits his big Swing, but Ziggler grabs the first pinfall shortly after. Cesaro very nearly gets the second pinfall, but Dolph holds on. The second match had several badass moves by Cesaro, sold greatly, as usual, by Dolph Ziggler. Cesaro tried the uppercut, but Ziggler kicked out. Lots and lots of false finishes in this one. Then Ziggler hits Cesaro’s bad arm, kicks him in the face, lands the Zig Zag and wins the second match! Hell yeah! Big time win for Ziggy! Excellent start to the pay-per-view.
Quick segment after with Triple H, Stephanie, and Randy Orton. He’s pissed about Seth Rollins, and who can blame him. I am hoping this is all a big setup for Orton vs Lesnar with Rollins cashing in on the winner. The Authority tells Orton to just concentrate on John Cena. Orton says okay, but if they don’t take care of Rollins, he will.
Next up, the Battle of the Bellas, Brie vs her sister, Nikki. Say it with me, homers: “BRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODE!” This match was okay. If not for Daniel Bryan, I don’t think Brie Bella would have any offensive moves. She basically has hijacked everything her husband does, albeit without as much skill or showmanship. Nikki wins the match and per the stipulation, Brie must now be her personal assistant for the next month. Now that our bladders are all empty, let’s see what match is next.
The Usos vs Goldust and Stardust for the Tag Team Championships. Now, for those of you with short term memory, this time last year Goldust and Cody Rhodes, also tag champs at that time, took on The Usos and Rollins/Reigns of The Shield in a triple threat match for the titles. THAT IS HOW MANY GODDAMN TIMES WE HAVE SEEN THE USOS VS THE RHODES BROTHERS!!! Get the fuck out of our faces, WWE. Get a decent tag division and stop doing the same shit year after year after motherfucking year. That being said, Goldust and Stardust will probably put on a spectacle and turn this steaming pile of shit into something bearable to watch. I am hoping that this match ends with Rowan and Harper returning with Bray Wyatt and laying waste to all four brothers. I tuned out most of this match. These four really aren’t going to pull out anything new at this point. Goldust gets the pinfall and the Rhodes family wins.
In a surprise move, they are bringing the cage down next for John Cena vs Randy Orton. That is fantastic. Ambrose and Rollins deserved the main event. The only thing that sucks is this promo before the match. They dared to compare Orton vs Cena with Magic vs Bird, Fraiser vs Ali and Austin vs Rock. Really? Missed the mark on that, WWE. Not even close. Cena and Orton will never be on that level for me. I would like to see Orton get the win and then go on to fight Brock Lesnar for the first time ever. Yeah, that’s right, those two have never wrestled. We’ve seen Lesnar vs Cena a million times, so Orton getting that match would be at least something new from WWE for the first time in awhile. If you watch this match with the mute turned on, it’s not that great. But with JBL and Michael Cole pimping out all sorts of colorful lingo, the folks at home probably thought this match was better than it was. I’m not impressed. I’ve watched Cena vs Orton 5,000 times. A technically sound match, but very humdrum and mundane just on the grounds of being something we’ve seen far too often. Nobody even bled. And despite my hopes and dreams, WWE booked Cena to win the match after putting Orton through a table. Cena vs Lesnar Part 3 coming up next month. Jesus fucking Christ. How many times do we have to watch this same shit over and over? What a travesty. What a joke. What an utterly pointless match.
We follow that with an equally as pointless match, Sheamus vs The Miz for the US Championship. Sheamus wins via Brogue Kick. Afterwards Sheamus gets Mizdow to do some pantomime while messing with Miz. Then we get a segment with Nikki dumping a smoothie on Brie Bella. What a worthless pay per view this has been so far. And will probably continue to be until the bitter end. Yep, as if to confirm that, here comes Rusev vs Big Show. Lana looks great in pink. Other than that, it’s USA vs Russia chapter 400. I pretty much lost all interest in this pay per view with the Cena victory. This match featured Rusev picking Big Show up, which is always impressive to see. Mark Henry comes out to cheer on Big Show. Show chokeslams Rusev, but the big Russian kicks out. Rusev kicks Big Show and then Mark Henry, screams, and then kicks Show again. And a third time. As mad as I am with everything, this has still made me laugh. Rusev goes for the Accolade and the “USA!” chants start. And the ref calls the match after Big Show “passes out.” By my estimation, we just had five straight matches that didn’t mean anything in the big picture of WWE. Why am I still watching?
Ambrose cuts a brief backstage promo. The best thing to happen in the last hour. AJ Lee vs Paige for the Divas Championship up next. Pretty match the same title match we’ve seen at every pay per view since AJ came back from her hiatus. Paige taps to the Black Widow and that’s that. Paige attacks Alicia Fox after the match and screams, “I hate you!” For those mad at Paige losing, don’t worry, she’ll probably get another title shot tomorrow night on Raw. Or Friday on Smackdown. Or at Survivor Series. Or all three, probably.
Hell in a Cell main event #2 now. Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins. Which seems exciting now, but a decade later will they be just the new Cena vs Orton? Let’s hope not. Let’s hope McMahon is out by then and Triple H does better with the main roster. Ambrose climbs the cage before Rollins even gets out there! HaHaHa! Rollins sends Jamie and Joey up to retrieve Ambrose. Rollins joins them and demands Ambrose gets thrown off the cage. Ambrose rallies. Man, once John Cena dies, Dean Ambrose is going to be a superstar of epic proportions. Ambrose and Rollins hanging off the side of the cell, fall off and take out both announce tables. Would have been impressive twenty years ago, but real wrestling fans have seen Mick Foley go off the top of the cage and then through the top of the cage. Both men get put on stretchers, but Ambrose soon jumps up and continues attacking his former Shield brethren. Ambrose throws Rollins into the cage, it gets chained shut and the match begins. Ambrose beats Rollins with a chair. This is what Cena and Orton should have been but both are in the cushioned twilight of their careers and neither is going to put effort into a high stakes match like the Cell. Ambrose and Rollins are the only saving grace to this pay per view (besides Dolph Ziggler, of course). So the very first and very last match of the night were all that really mattered in the end.
Rollins suplexed Ambrose into a pile of chairs. Ambrose set a table up against the ring apron and the cage, then put Rollins through it. Kane sprays a fire extinguisher through the cage at Ambrose. Rollins throws Ambrose into a table. Rollins gets his MITB briefcase and sets Ambrose up for a Curb Stomp. Ambrose counters, tries Dirty Deeds, misses and then hits Rollins with his own briefcase. Ambrose gets cinder blocks into the ring. He places the head of Rollins on the blocks, but the lights go out. And Bray Wyatt’s voice is heard, chanting in creepy tongues! The lights come back on. A hole is cut in the center of the ring, fog comes out with a creepy hologram apparition. A lantern is glowing. Ambrose watches and from out of no where Bray Wyatt attacks Ambrose. Rollins gets the pinfall. What the hell? What an absurd and weird ending to the pay per view. Just when the match was getting good, this strange shit happened. Bray hits Ambrose with Sister Abigail and the screen goes black.
I must say, I am about 99% disappointed with this pay per view. This is the kind of shit I can’t stand. Just repetitive matchups, unexplained moments, and mediocre action. Altogether, just a half-assed outing from WWE, which as of late should be expected. And Survivor Series probably won’t be much better as we get to see Lesnar vs Cena again. Not only that but the Rhodes family will probably face The Usos again, Paige will probably face AJ again, Sheamus will probably retain his title for the hundredth time, and Ziggler will continue to be underbooked. And now Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt is going to happen, even though the Rollins/Ambrose angle has yet to be fully released or resolved. Tonight, I seriously ask myself why in the world I keep watching this crap.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker