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
Our second Smackdown exclusive PPV will be No Mercy on October 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. The go home episode of Smackdown was absolutely terrible; my husband didn’t hold back in his review of the show, and I struggled to keep my eyes open. Heath Slater and Rhyno’s run in was the best part of the entire two hours, and they didn’t even get to have a match. Even with all this, I feel strangely positive about this PPV. The card for Backlash was pitiful, but the PPV somehow ended up being one of the best WWE has had in months. Let’s take a look at the No Mercy match card and make some predictions.
Curt Hawkins vs TBA – Singles Match
The build towards Hawkins’ television debut has been a play on the Chuck Norris jokes, and has not gone over well with me. He made his in ring return already at a WWE Live event at the beginning of the month, beating Apollo Crews in a singles match in Las Vegas. The last time I saw Hawkins, he was getting squashed by Ryback while teaming with Tyler Reks. He then asked to be released from WWE, went to NXT after a surgery to lose most of his matches, and spent the next couple of years bouncing from company to company. Not surprisingly, I don’t see him as a Chuck Norris level kind of guy after all of that. His opponent is still undetermined at the time of this posting, but I imagine it will be some local jobber. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear “let’s go jobber” chants from the crowd.
F2H Prediction – Curt Hawkins
Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt – Singles Match
After getting destroyed by Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton found himself targeted by the Eater of Worlds. Bray Wyatt has been on the world’s worst losing streak, but still insists that he is a God. On this past Smackdown, Orton locked Wyatt in a storage locker, and Wyatt escaped after talking to some mystery figure just off of camera. Prior to that, they have been involved in equally senseless altercations backstage and in the ring. At one point, Orton looked like he was trying to escape one of Jigsaw’s traps. The whole set up has been ridiculous, and not the positive kind. But who knows; maybe these two will surprise us.
F2H Prediction – Randy Orton
The Miz (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – Intercontinental Championship “Title vs Career” Match
Right now, The Miz is at the top of his game. Since Daniel Bryan can’t compete and fight for his honor after Miz shamed him on Talking Smack, Dolph Ziggler was thrown into the mix. The video package that Miz put together for Ziggler was one of very few highlights on the go home Smackdown. Both men have been underappreciated over the past couple of years, so I’m glad that they have an opportunity now to prove a lot of people wrong. I would like to see Maryse banned from ringside before the match even begins; she tried the hairspray in the face trick one time too many and I don’t care to see her try anything else. That isn’t to say I want to see a fair fight, I simply want to see Miz be tricky all on his own,
F2H Prediction – Dolph Ziggler, via Disqualification; Miz retains the title
Nikki Bella vs Carmella – Singles Match
When Nikki Bella returned to the ring, I fully expected her to get a ridiculous push. Instead, she got her ass handed to her courtesy of the Princess of Staten Island. Carmella was once a hype girl for Enzo Amore and Big Cass when the trio was on NXT together. When her boys were drafted to Raw, she stayed behind and was able to establish herself as a singles competitor before being Smackdown’s final draft pick. She started out as her usual self, but quickly showed us her darker side once she felt that she was being upstaged by Bella. I have been enjoying this new side of Carmella, and I give WWE a lot of credit for not going the predictable route with a big Bella push. Provided they get a decent time slot to compete, this could turn into a really good bout.
F2H Prediction – Carmella
Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs The Usos – Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos turned heel and finally ditched their ridiculous wardrobe. Of course, now they look like gangbangers from a 90s after school special, but I’ll take what I can get. The real stars here are our Tag Team champions; Rhyno, Heath Slater, and all of Heath’s kids. Who could have guessed that Slater would be the top guy after he was completely left out of the draft? His journey to get a contract was a bumpy one and began with a lot of his typical jobbing. Thanks to Rhyno, he scored the tag titles, a contract, and has been creating comedy gold every week. Their success is a likely reason American Alpha was pulled from the title picture; no one is cheering for Alpha when Slater and Rhyno are so strong. I’m a bit worried about this match because you know how much WWE loves The Rock’s relatives, but at least Slater has his contract, his doublewide, and his above ground pool.
F2H Prediction – Heath Slater & Rhyno
Becky Lynch (c) vs Alexa Bliss –Women’s Championship Match
You can tell that Becky Lynch is a proud champion; she is incredibly excited to have won the title and is always eager to defend it. Alexa Bliss is as evil as she is small and earned the right to fight for Lynch’s title after beating out the other women on Smackdown’s roster (excluding Eva Marie, whose suspension is over, but she is still out of action). Bliss is quickly becoming one of my favorite female wrestlers, and is definitely my favorite on Smackdown. Nothing against Lynch, but I believe Bliss is much better in promos and has a better handle on her character. Coming off a female title match as the main event of Monday Night Raw, I hope these two really bring it tonight and try to upstage Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
F2H Prediction – Alexa Bliss
AJ Styles (c) vs Dean Ambrose vs John Cena – Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Hey, guys! John Cena is in the title picture again! At least it took him a little while to get there this time around. I keep forgetting that Styles is our Smackdown World champion, and that’s through no fault of his own. For some reason, this title fight has failed to hold my interest since the brand split. Styles has gotten one hell of a push to the top ever since his debut at the Royal Rumble. In less than a year, he dethroned Cena as “the face that runs the place,” plus won the top title in his brand. Dean Ambrose was an odd choice for champion; I was happy he won, but I’m also secretly happy he doesn’t hold the gold anymore. We all know that Cena is going to get at least one more title run. The question is, does it happen at just any PPV or is it saved for WrestleMania?
F2H Prediction – AJ Styles
The preshow will begin at 7pm EST on the WWE Network, with the main event beginning at 8pm EST. There are no preshow matches set at the time of this posting, but we suspect that Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin will be a last minute addition. Follow us on Twitter (FaceToHeel, OhhhTweener, MrNotWell) as we live tweet the event and provide feedback after the show concludes.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
It was rumored for the past few months that we might see Brock Lesnar taking on Bill Goldberg at WrestleMania next year. It would seem now that the timetable on that has been drastically pushed forward and we might see the match-up before the end of this year.
Infamous Dave Meltzer recently said on Wrestling Observer Radio that Goldberg was in negotiations with WWE for an in-ring return, and that possibly the contract had already been drawn up. And former WWE Hall of Fame commentator Jim Ross stated on his own podcast that the idea of Lesnar versus Goldberg was being seriously discussed by WWE and was something they were very interested in accomplishing soon. He later tweeted: “Another source says that Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar is a done deal and that it will likely go down at Survivor Series. If true, bravo WWE.”
In August, Lesnar told What Culture, “If Bill Goldberg has the balls to step back in the ring with me…..where you at? Where are ya? Let’s go.” Of course, neither Lesnar or Goldberg are commenting. Goldberg teased on Twitter that you never know what rumors you can believe online with the hashtag Who’s Next. It should be noted that Goldberg had surgery on both knees a few months ago, so he may not even be physically ready for Survivor Series.
Whatever WWE has in store for the former undefeated (173-0) WCW mega star, it would seem inevitable that Goldberg would clash with Lesnar. That’s Vince McMahon’s wet dream. We will continue to monitor the story and provide further updates as more rumors and/or news comes in.
You can check out Goldberg on SportsCenter tonight with Jonathan Coachman on the “Off The Top Rope” segment. Maybe he will let some details slip or give us a teaser. Survivor Series will be next month in Toronto, Canada.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We are coming off of a very strong Smackdown from last week, which was followed by an episode of Talking Smack that has had people talking all week. Daniel Bryan called out The Miz for wrestling “like a coward,” and for wrestling in the soft WWE style. The Miz came back at him hard, defending his style because he has never been injured in his entire career and is dedicated and present. He went off on Bryan, and Maryse looked so uncomfortable. Renee Young tried to calm Miz down, but Bryan was so flustered that he walked off the set while Miz finished what was an amazing tirade. I have been a fan of The Miz for a while, and he owned that interview. This is HIS show. Standing ovation for The Miz.
After a recap of that amazing moment, we cut to Bryan and Shane McMahon, who were backstage rewatching the interview. McMahon says that while he agrees with Bryan, he shouldn’t have provoked The Miz and owes him an apology. Bryan says he finds his comments ironic coming from the guy who has beef with Brock Lesnar; that comment gets a good pop from the crowd.
As we move to the arena, The Miz storms out to the ring, demanding his music be cut and asking if he has our attention now. Miz defends his style as being smart and accuses the fans of not seeing the big picture. He says he can do it all, day in and day out, without injury. But we boo him because he didn’t start in the small venues like some wrestlers, didn’t fail over and over before he succeeded. If Miz is unworthy, what are we? Cowards. Dolph Ziggler interrupts, and for once, I’m not happy to see him. Ziggler says that the fans won’t ever get behind him because they can see through his act. Miz just wants to be famous, and that’s why no one believes in him.
If Miz wants to prove to everyone that he isn’t a coward, prove it now. No referee, no title match, just an honest fight. The Miz takes off the jacket, rolls up his sleeves, but isn’t giving in to Ziggler’s request. Ziggler grabs a mic and calls him a soft, safe coward. Miz starts rushing back to the ring as the crowd chants COWARD, but Maryse holds him back. I’m not exactly sure why Ziggler had to get involved here. This took a strong segment and made it into something it didn’t need to be.
Our first match of the night is a first round Tag Team Tournament Match; The Hype Bros versus The Vaudevillains. Ryder and English start off the match with Ryder in complete control. English leaves the ring for a breather, and Ryder hits Gotch with a kick, allowing English to get him with a Swinging Neckbreaker. Rawley and Ryder are looking fantastic in this match! Ryder hits a Broksi Boot and the crowd is cheering as the pair fly around the ring. The two team up to take down both men, then hit the Hype Ryder for the win! They will advance to the semi finals of the tag team tournament.
AJ Styles comes out to the ring next, again calling himself “the face that runs the place.” He promises to beat Dean Ambrose at Backlash and become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Apollo Crews picks this moment to come out and stop Styles’ personal love-fest. Crews says he got permission to challenge Styles to a match that starts now. Crews is an incredible athlete and is proving it with this match, hitting Styles with a solid punch and asking Mauro Ranallo if he got a good look at it. During the commercial break, Styles regained control, but Crews is quick to take it back when we return. Crews is able to throw Styles over the top rope, then flip out of the ring to take him down again. Ranallo calls him a “flying tank,” and this tank is back in the ring hitting Styles with punches to the midsection. He takes Styles to the top rope, but Styles is able to duck away. Styles hits Crews with a cross body, but Crews catches him and hits a Samoan Drop. Amazing! Styles hits a Phenomenal Forearm and pins Crews for the win. Very energetic match, and a good showing by both men.
Heath Slater visits with Renee Young in his… trailer out back? His wife, who looks like a fan Snooki, serves cheese in a can with crackers and what looks like raw hot dogs as Renee tries to interview Slater and Rhyno. As Renee asks about Slater’s confrontation with Brock Lesnar, Rhyno draws cheese frowny faces on crackers. I want to invite Rhyno and Slater to dinner. This is hilarious! Unfortunately we can’t meet the kids; they’re out back collecting cans and bottles.
Bray Wyatt walks out to the ring next, accompanied by his fireflies, but without Erick Rowan. He calls out Randy Orton, calling him sick, but that’s what he likes about him. He’s interested in how Lesnar exploited him at Summerslam. He tells Orton to run, but his music hits instead. Orton says that the voices in his head are asking him who in the hell does Wyatt think he is. Orton says his charm comes from the fact that he’s been damaged for a long time. Wyatt has his attention. Wyatt says that Orton is no longer the predator in this situation. At Backlash, Wyatt will cut the serpent’s head off and hang it on his mantle as a trophy. The crowd is obnoxiously chanting “Husky Harris,” and Orton responds by saying he respects Wyatt in a way because they both have their demons. He agrees to the match at Backlash, but strongly says he isn’t afraid of Wyatt. The arena goes dark, and they awkwardly cut away. Abrupt ending.
Alexa Bliss and Natalya will face off with Naomi and Becky Lynch now, with Nikki Bella on commentary. Oh joy. Naomi and Natalya start things off, but I’m distracted because David Otunga insists on talking with Nikki Bella about Total Bellas, their new reality show on E! Alexa Bliss is tagged in, and the two throw Naomi to the mat, then pin her on the ropes. Otunga says “she’s trying to snatch Naomi’s edges off,” and now I’m laughing too hard to pay attention. Becky Lynch is tagged in, and she goes to the top rope to land a kick on Bliss. She tries for a cover, but Natalya breaks it up. Out of nowhere, Carmella comes out and starts attacking Nikki Bella. The distraction allows Bliss to roll up Lynch and get the win for her team. We didn’t get to see too much of this match thanks to the commercial break and Carmella’s distraction, but it definitely got interesting towards the end.
Our next match is another tag; Heath Slater and Rhyno versus The Headbangers. You can tell a lot of the crowd has no idea who these guys are. Slater and Rhyno come out to a big pop, and there is an entire section of “Heath’s Kids.” Mosh and Slater start things off, with Slater in control, but Mosh hits Slater outside of the ring, then tags in his partner. Thrasher takes Slater down easily; he and his partner are keeping Slater away from Rhyno to control this match. Poor Slater has a bloody lip, Rhyno is down thanks to an elbow from Mosh, and Slater nearly gets pinned but Rhyno saves the match. He tags himself in, floors Thrasher, and wins the match! Slater and Rhyno advance! YES! Not sure where all the blood on Rhyno’s head came from though…
Gary “The Milk Man” Millman is in the ring demanding an opponent. Who is this dude? Fireworks hit and Kane comes down to the ring! Man, I haven’t seen him in a while! Milk Man starts trying to get his pants back on, but it’s too late. Oh dear god, he’s just wearing normal underwear, not even trunks. Kane delivers a chokeslam and quickly departs.
Main event time! AJ Styles is on commentary as Baron Corbin comes to the ring to face Dean Ambrose. Kane and Corbin cross paths, briefly making eye contact and hopefully setting up something for later. Corbin takes control of the match early on, hitting Ambrose in the chest and sending him to his knees. Ambrose is able to knock Corbin off his feet, then send him over the top rope. He jumps from the apron and takes Corbin to the mat, then slams him into the announce table, sending a message to Styles. Corbin hits a lariat and then delivers kick after kick to Ambrose’s midsection. Ambrose finally breaks Corbin’s momentum with a well-timed neckbreaker. He hits a mean clothesline and pins Corbin, but he kicks out. Ambrose knocks Corbin from the ring, dives out to take him down, and then poses for a moment on the barricade. Corbin is able to hit a Deep Six back in the ring, but Ambrose kicks out. Styles gets up and in Corbin’s face, which he isn’t happy about. Ambrose takes advantage, knocks Corbin into Styles, and nearly wins the match. Styles gets up on the apron, then accidentally kicks Corbin in the face, causing the match being called due to disqualification. Ambrose leaves the ring to attack Styles, then Corbin goes after Ambrose. Our champ hits Dirty Deeds on Corbin, then trips Styles up on the ropes, sending his man bits right into the rope. The noise he’s making is hilariously awful. So of course, Ambrose responds by bouncing him up and down on the rope before shaking his hand and grabbing his title.
We’re a little over a week away from Backlash, our first brand exclusive PPV since the draft. Ambrose will face off with Styles for the title, and we’ll crown our first Smackdown tag champions and our first Smackdown Women’s champ. This was another solid Smackdown; two weeks in a row! We’ll bring you our Backlash predictions after next week’s Smackdown airs. Let us know your thoughts below, and follow us on Twitter at @facetoheel.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
We recently brought you news on the rumored Wellness Violation that hung over Sasha Banks’ head. Fans will be happy to know that there was no truth to that rumor, but unfortunately our former women’s champion is dealing with a back injury. Banks is scheduled for an evaluation with doctors due to the pain she is dealing with in the lower lumbar area of her back. The official word is still out, but we hear that she will not require surgery and should be back in action within the next few weeks.
Not so lucky is our first Universal Champion, Finn Balor. His shoulder was injured during his Summerslam match against Seth Rollins when Balor absorbed a running power bomb to the barricade. His shoulder dislocated, and Balor popped it right back in and continued the match. The MRI that followed showed a possible labrum tear, which will require surgery and have Balor out of action for 4 to 6 months. This truly could not have come at a worse time for Balor, who was really taking off on the main roster.
Speaking of Summerslam, Brock Lesnar treated us to an ending worthy of the octagon, as he wailed on Randy Orton, hitting him with hard punches and elbows that resulted in Orton being left in a puddle of his own blood. Orton required ten staples to close the laceration on his forehead. There is a lot of speculation on whether or not Lesnar went too far with his attack, but we’ll leave that to you to decide.
NXT’s Samoa Joe suffered a dislocated jaw during his title match with our new NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. Joe was hit with two Kinshasa knee strikes, causing the dislocation of his mandible. Joe tweeted out that his jaw was dislocated, relocated, and he looks forward to being cleared soon. The severity of the injury is still unknown, so we’re not sure when we’ll see him back in action.
Also still out of action is Luke Harper, who suffered a knee injury and underwent successful surgery, Sting, who suffered a neck injury, Emma, who underwent back surgery, and Tyson Kidd who suffered a neck injury and underwent successful surgery. There is no timetable for any of their returns. Paige is also suffering neck and back injuries that she is personally working to strengthen. She is currently suspended due to a Wellness Policy Violation, so we may or may not see her back in the ring when the suspension lifts. We wish everyone a speedy recovery and will bring you updates as they become available.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
I’m in desperate need of a pick me up tonight after yesterday’s depressing situation with Finn Balor, who relinquished the Universal Title due to injury. Nikki Bella is set to make her official Smackdown debut this evening, coming after her surprise return at Summerslam. On the Smackdown Live preshow, it was announced that Stephanie McMahon fined Brock Lesnar only $500 for his attack on her brother, Shane, so it’ll be interesting to see if that is addressed tonight.
Smackdown begins in the locker room where AJ Styles names himself as The New Face That Runs The Place, thanks to his victory over John Cena at Summerslam. He puts on Cena’s “Never Give Up” armband that Cena left in the ring on Sunday, then calls out Dolph Ziggler for being a loser. After a brief brawl, Styles leaves the locker room. New feud?
The two new titles are in the ring as we begin; the new tag titles are the same design as the originals, but are colored silver on a blue leather belt. The new women’s title is also an exact replica of the original, but with a blue background behind the “W.” Before you start bitching, they could have gone off the wall with all of this, but they kept it simple. Let’s not let it ruin the entire show, okay? Daniel Bryan tells the six women of Smackdown that any one of them could potentially be champion, and the crowd start chanting for Nattie. The new Smackdown women’s champion will be crowned at Backlash, the first Smackdown exclusive PPV, and the contenders will be decided with a Six Pack Challenge. This will also be where the Smackdown tag team champions will be crowned, with a Tag Team Title Tournament that will start tonight and crown a winner at Backlash.
Slater’s Gonna Slate! Heath Slater interrupts regarding his lack of contract. Slater proposes to Bryan and McMahon that they allow him to compete for the tag titles. Slater is hilarious; I love this. Bryan says that if Slater can find a partner by the end of the night, they will turn this into an eight team tournament. But Slater will only get a contract if he wins the ENTIRE tournament. Poor Heath Slater and his fifteen children.
AJ Styles picks this time to come out, tells Slater to get lost, and says that they need to talk about The New Face That Runs The Place! It seems like Styles is letting this new title (that he has given himself) go to his head. Out of nowhere, Ziggler comes out and clocks Styles in the back of the head! Bryan and McMahon send the entire tag division out of the ring to break it up! Damn, this was a great start to the night. Kudos.
Our first match will be Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss, with Naomi and Natalya ringside at commentary. The match is pretty back and forth in the beginning, with Lynch looking for the Disarmer and Bliss able to block every attempt. Bliss is the smallest on the Smackdown roster, but quite possibly the most vicious. Bliss gets Lynch caught up on the ropes and is able to get a pin attempt, but Lynch counters with clotheslines that takes Bliss down. Bliss slams Lynch to the mat into a pin via flip from the middle rope, but Lynch kicks out at two. Lynch is able to lock in the Disarmer and Bliss has no choice but to tap. Natalya is on commentary with an attitude, going back and forth with Naomi in an awkward exchange as Lynch celebrates her win.
Backstage, Slater approaches The Miz and asks if he will be his Tag Team partner. Slater thinks that Miz is agreeing to do it, but it turns out that Miz is on his bluetooth talking a movie deal and didn’t hear a single word that Slater said. Poor Heath Slater and his twenty-five hungry children.
Our next match is a first round Tag Team Tournament Match; The Ascension versus The Usos. The Ascension attack The Usos as soon as the bell rings, taking them down and going for an early pin. Using quick tags, they are keeping their opponent isolated and unable to tag in his brother. The crowd starts a small Uso chant, but it fades quickly as Konnor goes for another pin attempt. Uso finally tags in his brother and hits a Cross Body, then a super kick on Viktor. He hits a Samoan Drop and goes for the finish, but Konnor jumps in to save his partner. Jimmy hits a splash and gets the pin for the win. JBL keeps telling us that The Usos are the favorites for this tournament, but I’m not buying it.
The New Face That Runs The Place is going to try to make his entrance uninterrupted; AJ Styles comes to the ring, still holding Cena’s arm band. Styles says he sees lots of angry faces in the crowd (not to mention jealous faces in the locker room) because of his win at Summerslam. Styles wants the Cena fans to convert over to Styles fans so they don’t have to cry into their cereal. As Styles is yelling, Ziggler comes out again to go on the attack, but security and Bryan stop it from happening. Bryan says that Styles does indeed deserve to be the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but since Ziggler and Styles want to fight so bad, they will have a match tonight. If Styles wins, he gets a title match at Backlash. If Ziggler wins, he gets added to the match and it becomes a Triple Threat. Second option please!!
Up now, Carmella will be facing the returning Nikki Bella. Before the match, Renee Young enters the ring to interview Nikki. Carmella isn’t having any of it though and attacks Nikki mid-sentence. She lays Nikki out and the crowd cheers! Eventually, another referee jumps in to break it up, but Carmella is yelling insults and refusing to back off. She leaves the ring, only to jump back in and attack Nikki once more as she cradles her neck. I’ve gotta say, I like this side of Carmella. It was also nice not to see the predictable Bella win upon her return.
At the top of the second hour, Randy Orton comes out, obviously not dressed to compete give the ten staples in his skull. He gets a great welcome from the crowd, and admits that he was in one hell of a fight against Brock Lesnar. Orton says he is unhappy with the match being called as a TKO. Suddenly, Bray Wyatt’s music hits! The man steps out alone, slowly walking to the ring with his lantern in hand. He sits in his rocker, asking Orton how his head is feeling. Wyatt saw Orton’s eyes go blank after Lesnar busted him open, and says it is a reminder that Orton is just a man. A man who hurts, suffers, and dies. But Wyatt is not just a man, he is a God. (Sidenote: this only works if you guys start booking him better!!) He promises that Orton will find out more “in time.” And just like that, he vanishes.
Backstage, Slater asks Arn Anderson if he will be his tag team partner. He tells Anderson that he is his last and final hope! He’s running out of time. Anderson declines, but Rhyno steps in and volunteers himself to be Heath’s partner! I’m so glad that Slater’s thirty-seven children won’t have to go hungry!
Our next Tag Team Tournament Match is American Alpha versus Breezango. Gable and Fandango start things off, with Fandango immediately going to the ropes for a break. Breeze and Jordan tag in, and American Alpha take out both of their opponents before the legal men get back in the ring. Jordan and Gable are so good, but the main roster audience still isn’t behind them as they should be. A USA chant gets going, which means… what exactly in this match? Gable gets Breeze locked in an arm bar in the middle of the ring, targeting the shoulder. Alpha is using quick tags to keep Breeze isolated, but he is able to shove Gable into Fandango and nearly win the match.
During the commercial, Breeze and Fandango have controlled the match, but when we return, Jordan comes in and dominates both Breeze and Fandango, delivering fantastic suplexes before tagging in Gable. Jordan attacks Fandango outside of the ring to keep him from interfering, then tags himself in. The near falls are starting now, and things are getting tense. This is a fantastic match! These four are bringing their best tonight, and it’s a shame they both can’t advance. Breeze and Jordan are going back and forth with pins, and both looks frustrated beyond belief. Jordan hits a suplex into a spear, then tags in Gable who pins Breeze for the win! This was awesome, but I’m glad my boys won. And I’m glad they didn’t awkwardly caress the tag titles like The Usos did.
After a relaxing night of gambling, Dean Ambrose comes out to join the commentary team to watch our main event from ringside. Ziggler and Styles will battle, and hopefully we don’t see John Cena. I’m probably asking for too much. The crowd is split on who to support, and Styles is quick to leave the ring to get a breather. To remind you, a Styles victory guarantees him a match at Backlash against Ambrose, but a Ziggler victory makes that match a Triple Threat. As we return from commercial, Styles is in control and Ziggler is stuck in the corner, but he’s able to dodge and get some relief. Ziggler is thrown hard against the turnbuckle, then hit with a backbreaker into a pin. Ziggler tries for a very sloppy, and obviously unsuccessful roll up before Styles retaliates and knocks him to the mat once again. Ziggler is finally able to land a few punches, but Styles catches him on the ropes with a neckbreaker.
Styles is not holding anything back in this, throwing Ziggler into the stairs and all but ignoring the referee’s instructions. Ziggler finally hits a beautiful dropkick on Styles! Both men are briefly down, then Ziggler tries for a pin after an elbow drop. Ziggler hits the Famouser but Styles kicks out just barely in time. I want a Triple Threat; come on! Near fall after near fall, and neither man will give up. Ziggler hits an amazing DDT, but damn it, Styles kicks out. I’m stressed out at this point. Just make it a Triple Threat because you know it’ll be awesome. Styles hits Ziggler with a cheap shot while he is hung up on the ropes, then hits the Styles Clash for the win. Damn it.
After the victory, Styles gets in Ambrose’s face and snatches off his headset. I always forget how tall Ambrose is until we have moments like this. Styles backs off with a smile on his face, and we end our broadcast. This was a fantastic Smackdown! After a couple of weeks thinking that the brand split wasn’t agreeing with WWE anymore, we get a much needed night like this. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and we’ll see you all tomorrow for NXT and CWC coverage!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Brace yourself, sports fans. This one might go as long as this year’s WrestleMania. It’s supposed to be a stacked matchcard with virtually every Superstar in action tonight. Vince McMahon really has his work cut out for him tonight because NXT tore the roof off the Barclay Center last night. So without further ado, let’s dissect this pay-per-view.
The preshow kicks off with a 12-man tag match, which is a ridiculous thing to have on a pay-per-view. The Vaudevillians team with The Ascension and Breezango to take on The Hype Bros, The Usos, and American Alpha. Chad Gable and Tyler Breeze start the match and Gable shows off a little bit, looking solid. Jay Uso tags in and the crowd boo’s. It’s hard to get excited about this one. We have twelve guys, all fighting for essentially nothing. There is no tag title on Smackdown. Why was American Alpha even drafted there? For that matter, why are there even tag teams on Smackdown? It’s an odd thing, and just another example of why the brand split isn’t the best idea. It’s a shame because Chad and Gable deserve better. Everyone in this match puts on a good show. But the attendance is full of empty seats, and not even Mauro Ranallo can get anything going.
Zack Ryder continues to do a good job and it’s no wonder they gave him a push earlier this year. Jimmy Uso and Tyler Breeze are the last men standing, as Jimmy Samoan Drops him to the mat. Konnor tries to block him but Jimmy kicks him. Jordan tags in and suplexes both Fandango and Breeze. Suplex on Gotch, but English breaks up the pinfall. Powerbomb by English on Gable. Hats off to these guys for avoiding the doomed “spot-fest” that many of these matches become. Everyone gets their stuff in, but it feels organic; going with the flow of the match. Breeze and Viktor get slammed by Mojo Rawley. The action is quick and exciting. Crowd gets a little more lively as things progress. Gable and Jordan drop Viktor and Jay Uso steals the win for the tagfall. Baron Corbin interrupts the pre-show panel to cut a quick promo on Kalisto who was injured and couldn’t compete in their match tonight.
The Dudley Boyz come out to take on Neville and Sami Zayn. Neville and Devon kick things off. Neville and Zayn work well together as a team. Dudleys are still as good as ever. This one is pretty fun. Crowd into it. Some near falls throughout. A miscommunication by Devon and Bubba Ray allows Neville to hit the Red Arrow for the pinfall. Good match, not too long and not too short. It will be interesting to see if this Neville and Zayn team continues and whether a rift will start to grow between The Dudley Boyz.
The final match of the preshow is Sheamus taking on Cesaro in the first match of their Best of 7 Series. This one is brutal from the start, with both men using a bit of stiff, strong style. Sheamus takes control as we head into a little commercial break. Sheamus puts some strong moves on Cesaro, and gets a couple of near falls. Cesaro Swing on Sheamus into a figure four leglock. Sheamus breaks it up. Cesaro tries again, gets blocked and Sheamus Brogue Kicks him into a pinfall victory. Sheamus is up 1-0. A mostly entertaining trio of matches to kick off the preshow, but I find myself scratching my head trying to determine if there was a point to any of them. A 12-man tag? The Dudley Boyz in 2016? Sheamus and Cesaro six more times after this? Eek.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass kick off the show, crowd sets the roof on fire. Brilliant way to start the show and get the crowd into it. Enzo does his usual thing, ripping up the mic and getting everybody up on their feet. He calls New York the greatest city in the world. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho come down. The match starts and Owens and Y2J knock Cass off the apron and double team Enzo. Enzo and Jericho are the official legal men, and Jericho goes to work chopping the smaller guy. Enzo is as good a seller as Dolph Ziggler and he always makes his opponents shine. Enzo takes a beating for awhile, including a hard frog-splash by Kevin Owens. Big Cass gets the hot tag and takes down both Owens and Jericho. He drops an Empire Elbow on Y2J. Followed by a big boot as Jericho leaps off the top rope. Owens saves the match, attacking Enzo and Cass both. Owens throws Enzo to Jericho, who hits a Code Breaker and he covers for the pinfall win. The hometown boys lose, and the crowd is unhappy about it. Good match to kick things off. After the match, Owens and Jericho walk up the ramp screaming “I Love You!” at each other. Backstage segment with Jon Stewart and The New Day, adding really nothing to the show.
Sasha Banks defends her WWE Women’s Championship next against Charlotte. It seems a really bizarre booking choice to do this match so early, and also doing it prior to this shit-storm 6-woman tag match that is happening later. Both ladies came to play, and they trade physical attacks to start. Charlotte botches several moves in a row and looks like an amateur out there. She may have legit injured Sasha with a terrible fail off the top rope. Charlotte tries a Figure Four leglock, but Sasha kicks her off. Moments later, Sasha is thrown into the corner. Sasha counters a Razor’s Edge off the top rope and both women hit the mat hard. This is brutal to watch. Sasha locks in a nice Boston Crab using the ropes as leverage, but she has to break it as the ref counts to five. A double knee slam into Charlotte’s back, leaves both ladies holding their lower backs and grimacing. Sasha jumps off the apron and drops both knees on Charlotte’s face, dropping her down to the ground outside. Ref starts a ten count. Charlotte goes for Natural Selection, but Sasha counters into the Bank Statement. Charlotte worms her way out of it. Neck breaker by Charlotte, then hits Natural Selection. Sasha kicks out at two. Charlotte tries a tilt-a-whirl but Sasha reverses it into another Bank Statement. Charlotte rolls her over onto her shoulders and three seconds later, Charlotte regains the Women’s Championship. This seems like a terrible finish and should definitely lead into something. They cleaned it up towards the end, but that one got off to a rocky start. Not the best outing these two have had against each other. Backstage segment with The Club, AJ Styles, and Finn Balor teasing the Bullet Club.
The Miz comes down, accompanied by Maryse. Apollo Crews is challenging for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz attacks in the corner early, and Crews is reeling. Things slow way down, and the match hits a lull. Crews hits him with a boot and both men are down. Standing moonsault by Crews is the highlight so far, but he fails to cover. Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Another mediocre match that just comes across as a waste of air time. So far the show has just been okay. Still waiting for a big wow moment.
Up next AJ Styles looks to beat up John Cena. Crowd starts a very vocal John Cena Sucks sing-along. It’s a decent match to start, but the problem with this matchup is Styles is way more talented than Cena, and Cena just goes through his usual run-of-the-mill Five Moves of Doom. Styles hits the Styles Clash and Cena kicks out. Attitude Adjustment by Cena, but Styles kicks out. The pair do their best, but what else is there to milk out of this rivalry? They burned this one months ago. Now we are just going through all the familiar motions. Attitude Adjustment by Styles this time, but Cena kicks out. Styles attempts a springboard 450 splash, but Cena moves out of the way. Styles locks in the Calf Crusher submission. Cena gets out and climbs the top rope. Leg drop on Styles, hitting him in the back of the head. Kick out at two. Some exciting false finishes in this one, but again nothing really new. John Cena looks stunned that Styles just keeps kicking out. Styles Clash again on Cena, but no cover. Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope and Styles covers Cena for the win. This one didn’t really have a pay-per-view feel. Mauro Ranallo really helped to make that match more than it was, so hats off to him.
BREAKING: News just came through the wire that Sasha Banks dropped the title because she violated the wellness policy. Official suspension coming tomorrow. Damn, if that rumor is true what a shame! We’ll cover it more later this week when more official word comes out from the WWE camp.
Jon Stewart comes out, making me wonder what is on TV right now that I might be able to watch to curb my boredom. He sports a New Day t-shirt and unicorn horn and brings the group out, sans Big E Langston. They are set to defend their Tag Team Championship titles against The Club. Xavier Woods does a great job throughout this one, especially for someone we don’t really get to see go very often. Gallows and Anderson are such a great tag team. They hit Magic Killer on Xavier and then Jon Stewart distracts. The Club goes to put Stewart crotch first on the ring post. Crowd starts a YES! chant. Before they can hurt him, Big E runs in and attacks Gallows and Anderson. Ref calls for the bell. Big E slams Anderson into the barricade. Match ends in DQ finish, which is weird because Big E is a member of New Day. But it’s whatever. Fun segment and New Day will have the tag titles going into tomorrow.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are in the ring as Dolph Ziggler comes out to challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fast start to this as it spills out of the ring. Spinning neckbreaker by Ziggler after slamming Ambrose into the barricade. Ambrose pounds Ziggler’s head on the steel steps twice before they get back in the ring. Ziggler pulls out all the stops, by Ambrose manages to kick out every time. Elbow off the top rope by Dean but Ziggler kicks out. Simple back and forth here, letting both guys trade momentum. Ambrose kicks out of a Zig Zag. Is it just me or were finishers just completely burned all night tonight? Been a long time since WWE protected finishers. Sleeper hold by Ziggler. Ambrose gets out of it and blocks a Super Kick. Huge clothesline sends Ziggler to the match. Dirty Deeds by Ambrose to retain. Exciting match. Might be my favorite so far tonight. But again, nothing spectacular has happened. This is supposed to be the big event of the summer and it is falling short of delivering in my opinion.
Tag action up next with six women going at it. I have not been looking forward to this at all. Let’s get it over with. Naomi comes out first, looking like a forensic crime scene under a black light. But her entrance is definitely memorable. She is tagging with Carmella and Becky Lynch, two of my favorites. Their opponents are Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Nikki Bella. Lynch and Bliss start the match. Another match that honestly means nothing. Why? Because these are six women that can never compete for the Women’s Championship because it’s on Raw and they are Smackdown competitors. Putting this on the actual pay-per-view card and not the preshow is questionable. Also, let’s just put this out there: Nikki Bella is not a good wrestler. There, I said it. An okay outing from these ladies. Carmella and Bliss have one of their best matches so far since coming up to the main roster. Nikki Bella gets the win by pinning Carmella. Eh. Still have yet to be blown away by anything tonight. So far, HHH has won the weekend.
They show the Universal Championship and it’s terrible. Looks just like the world title only red. It looks like it was designed by Eva Marie. What a piece of trash, both the name and the physical belt. Shame. Seth Rollins comes out, with Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley ringside. The Demon King, Finn Balor, makes an incredible entrance. Crowd. Goes. Ape. Shit. The bell rings and Balor doesn’t hesitate. He dropkicks Rollins. Balor goes to work aggressively attacking Rollins left leg. Outside the ring, Rollins tosses Balor into the timekeeper’s area. Rollins very methodical for this match, being aggressive and not letting up on Balor. Running kick off the apron for Balor to regain control. He hits a Slingblade on Rollins in the ring. Rollins recovers and tries a Pedigree but it gets blocked and Balor kicks him. Both men down. 1916 by Balor, but Rollins kicks out. The match is pretty exciting, but the crowd is giving a shit response, trying to hijack it with chants unrelated to the match. Foot stomp off the corner and Finn Balor is the first WWE Universal Champion. How cool is that? First WWE wrestler to win a title on their first pay-per-view match as well. The future is bright with these two in the driver’s seat. Nice match, but again, same complaint as all night: nothing amazing has happened yet. And with Orton and Lesnar as the go home, I think SummerSlam came up short on its goals for the evening.
Rusev versus Roman Reigns for the United States Championship up next. As it’s 10:30 already, I don’t see this one going very long. Reigns throws Rusev into the timekeeper area. Same spot as the last match. SMH. They are brawling and a bunch of refs try to break them up. Match hasn’t even officially started yet. Reigns goes after Rusev with a steel chair. Reigns continues to beat him down a few more minutes and then walks out. Crowd boos him heavily. Rusev struggles to get up as crowd starts chanting, “We Want Slater!” and then a “CM Punk!” chant. Ringside doctor says Rusev is unable to compete tonight. Reigns comes back down the ramp and Spears him. Reigns seemingly ruins the whole segment by pumping his arms at the crowd and then smiling at the top of the ramp. Empty segment for my money.
Main event time. Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton, a match that really isn’t going to do much to pep up this pay-per-view. And ultimately another match on the card that means little to nothing, a label that has been woven into every fiber of this show so far tonight. The bell rings and we’re off. Lesnar slams Orton in the corner and tries for a suplex. But Orton dropkicks him. Orton tries an RKO and Lesnar shoves him off and slams him down to the mat. German suplex by Lesnar. And a second. Orton scrambling. A third German suplex as Paul Heyman laughs at ringside. Beatdown in the corner, then another suplex. Orton hasn’t been on his feet for a few minutes. A sixth suplex and this one is getting out of control. Outside of the ring, Orton tries to fight back but Lesnar picks him up and slams him on the announce table. The table doesn’t break, but Lesnar fixes that. He tosses Orton off the barricade into the table and it smashes apart. Lesnar picks apart a second announce table and puts Orton on it. Orton pops up and hits an RKO on the table. It doesn’t break. As they get back in the ring, Orton DDT’s Lesnar off the second rope. As Lesnar gets up, Orton hits an RKO. Lesnar kicks out at two. Orton goes for his old school punt kick, but Lesnar pops up and F5’s him. Orton kicks out at two. Lesnar punches Orton over and over again and the ref separates them and calls for a doctor as Orton is busted wide open, bleeding all over the ring. Lesnar pushes the doctor aside and keeps punching Orton’s head. The ref calls for the bell and this is over. Lesnar wins by TKO. Lesnar goes after Orton again. Shane McMahon runs in to check on Orton and Lesnar cuts him off. Lesnar F5’s Shane. Heyman starts screaming, “What did you do!?” And that’s the end of the show. I love seeing Lesnar destroy someone, so this was fun.
The theme of tonight will be “At least it wasn’t WrestleMania.” It wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t have a SummerSlam feel to it. If this had been Battleground or Payback, it would be been great. But I don’t think any segment tonight really came across as successful. Everything missed the mark and was off by just a little bit. The booking leading into the show was rushed, there were too many matches, and the order of the matches themselves was confusing. Whether or not this is just the final hiccup of the brand split before the new pay-per-views take off remains to be seen. Judging this right out of the gate, though, it just wasn’t all that it could have been. At the end of the day, what did any of it mean or accomplish? The honest answer is not a whole lot. We are right back in the same rut we were in prior to the brand split. What did you all think about WWE’s 2016 SummerSlam? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw.
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The Barclays center in New York City will be hosting this year’s Summerslam, starting at 7pm with a two hour preshow beginning at 5pm. Former Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, will be the special celebrity guest and will likely provide comic relief and at least one awkward run-in with Seth Rollins. This is the first PPV since the brand split, but the matches are nearly all Raw vs Raw or Smackdown vs Smackdown. Every title is on the line, and we will finally get to see the brand new Universal Title. Let’s take a look at the massive card and make some predictions.
Cesaro vs Sheamus – First Match in the Best of Seven Series (Preshow Kickoff)
On the go-home Raw on Monday, Mick Foley announced that these two enemies would have a best of seven series to finally bury their beef. I still have yet to decide how I feel about this series. Seven matches ahead, when we have already seen two, will have the potential to get real stale really fast. I hope that we get stipulated matches in the future, as the Summerslam match is a straight singles match. The first win in a series will give the victor bragging rights and a slight edge on their competitor, which both men obviously will be battling for. Cesaro and Sheamus are both extremely talented, so I hope they are on their A game.
F2H Prediction – Sheamus
Sami Zayn and Neville vs The Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Match (Preshow Kickoff)
Since returning to action after an injury, Neville has yet to find himself in a decent storyline or feud. Sami Zayn is done with Kevin Owens, at least for now, and is looking to move on. The Dudley Boyz are veteran wrestlers who have no problem taking a backseat to the younger talent in order to give them a push or help them along in a current storyline. They have lost more matches than they’ve won since their heel turn, and their once sure thing for the tag titles has become a very distant memory. This match will be all about Zayn and Neville, and I hope they take full advantage.
F2H Prediction – Sami Zayn and Neville
American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable), The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder), The Usos vs Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango), The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) – 12 Man Tag Team Match (Preshow Kickoff)
We already saw this match on Smackdown, which makes this addition a little disappointing. We’re throwing too many tag teams together into one mess of a match, where certain people will struggle for the spotlight and others will be forgotten in the background. WWE has not done its job in introducing American Alpha and The Hype Bros to the main roster audience. Those who don’t watch NXT are missing out on knowing Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, and don’t fully appreciate the pairing of Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder. It’s a shame, but I hope they rectify it.
F2H Prediction – American Alpha, The Hype Bros, The Usos
Carmella, Becky Lynch, Naomi vs Natalya, Alexa Bliss – Six Woman Tag Match
This match was put together on the go home episode of Smackdown. Eva Marie was meant to compete with Natalya and Bliss, but was suspended for 30 days on August 18th after violating the WWE’s wellness policy. This is a great opportunity for Alexa Bliss and Carmella to introduce themselves to the large chunk of the audience who isn’t familiar with NXT and don’t know their characters. Bliss and Carmella went back to their roots on Wednesday to complete in another six woman tag on NXT, which I hope the main roster audience had a chance to see. We have five incredible athletes (and a sixth still unnamed as of the time of this writing) that are capable of doing a lot more than we’ve had the chance to see on the main roster. I hope tonight is their night.
F2H Prediction – Carmella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi
The Miz (c) vs Apollo Crews – Intercontinental Championship Match
I absolutely love The Miz as champ. He’s shady, underhanded, and conceited. He weasels his way into victories and isn’t bothered at all if he isn’t winning clean. Apollo Crews is the exact opposite of his opponent. He is honest, positive, and a team player through and through. Maryse will no doubt be ringside, giving Miz the edge, as Crews will be going it solo. I don’t expect a fair fight whatsoever. You simply don’t get that with The Miz, so Crews is going to have to play it safe and keep his eyes open. He will have to watch Maryse while also fighting his opponent, and he’ll have to ensure Miz doesn’t try to cause a DQ by throwing him into the ref or placing a weapon in his vicinity. Apollo Crews will shine, regardless of the outcome; he definitely earned and deserves this title shot.
F2H Prediction – The Miz
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens – Tag Team Match
I’m not a fan of Chris Jericho (go easy on me, hardcore fans) but I appreciate the person he is and the work that he does. That said, I am really enjoying him when paired with Kevin Owens. Owens and Enzo are two of the best trash talkers on the roster, so a war of words between the two is gold no matter what. Jericho and Owens have adjusted their style to act slightly more comedic, making them a better match for Enzo and Cass. This feud has been entertaining since the moment it started and will make for a fantastic tag match tonight. I hope we eventually get to see Enzo and Cass put into the Tag Title picture where they belong. How you doin?
F2H Prediction – Enzo and Big Cass
The New Day (c) vs The Club – Tag Team Championship Match
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods will be fighting Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows without Big E, as he is nursing an injury to his man bits. I do hope that Big E will be present, but he has only been with us via Twitter lately. Anderson and Gallows have been utilizing a brilliant doctor gimmick, complete with every testicle pun you can possibly think of. They have Big E’s manhood in a jar, and have two smaller jars ready for Kingston and Woods. The New Day are the longest reigning WWE Tag Team champions as of July 20th and show no signs of giving up the titles. Their biggest competition on Raw, other than The Club, would be Enzo and Cass or Jeri-KO (if their tag team stays together). Golden Truth are more comic relief than anything else, and The Shining Stars are yet another failed gimmick for Primo and Epico. I am worried about New Day’s situation without Big E, and eager to see what this means for their title match.
F2H Prediction – The Club
John Cena vs AJ Styles – Singles Match
My favorite thing is to watch Styles BEAT UP JOHN CENA! It’s nice to see Cena out of the title picture and involved with someone who is a serious veteran in the business instead of a new talent who is still trying to find their footing. This absolutely must be a clean match for Styles with no assistance whatsoever from The Club. Win or lose, he needs to ensure he keeps this one-on-one. John Cena is one of my least favorite people; I get that he does a lot of good in the world and kids love him, but he’s just not my cup of tea, guys. I’m beyond ready to see “the face that runs the place” go part time and let someone else take the reins. I don’t know if Styles is that guy or not, but it’s a good place to start.
F2H Prediction – AJ Styles
Sasha Banks (c) vs Charlotte – Women’s Championship Match
Finally, The Boss holds the gold! Sasha Banks has had one hell of a journey from NXT to the main roster to finally becoming WWE Women’s Champion. Even Charlotte had to briefly break character on Raw and smile when she saw her friend holding the title high above her head. Dana Brooke is banned from ringside tonight, so Charlotte won’t have her lackey to go to for help in winning back the title. Unless she has some other tricks in mind or another person waiting in the wings, she is going to have to win or lose this match all on her own. These two women are huge talents and deserve every bit of success. They will ensure that you don’t use this match as the “beer run/bathroom break;” this will be a must see.
F2H Prediction – Sasha Banks
Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton – Singles Match
Lesnar and Orton were the first to overstep their boundaries and show up on the shows that they were not drafted to. Orton snuck onto Raw to deliver an RKO to the beast, and Lesnar invaded Smackdown to seek his revenge. I wish they had saved that for much later, but what’s done is done. This is Viperville versus Suplex City, a match fifteen years in the making. The promos leading up to this match have been fantastic and portray both men as unstoppable forces. I’m always excited to see Lesnar fight, and very happy that Orton is finally back from injury. I would like to see Lesnar turn an RKO attempt into an F5, and for Orton to get creative with his RKOs outta nowhere. This should be a brutal match; I hope both men bring it.
F2H Prediction – Brock Lesnar
Rusev (c) vs Roman Reigns – United States Championship Match
Roman Reigns failed a drug test, got himself suspended for 30 days, became the butt of Seth Rollins’ jokes during his suspension, and got himself removed from the WWE Heavyweight title picture. His push isn’t completely in the can though, since he has a chance to win the United States title off of Rusev. Our current champion recently married the lovely Lana in a ceremony that was filmed for Total Divas. They will have a separate ceremony overseas next month. Rusev has been an unstoppable champion, but unfortunately, most of his feuds devolve into USA vs Russia when they have the potential to be so much more. I’m not big on Reigns as he is right now; I miss the strong and silent, less showy wrestler he was with The Shield. Whatever happens during this match, I hope Lana avoids being caught in the crossfire.
F2H Prediction – Rusev
Dean Ambrose (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – WWE World Championship Match
I can’t believe that Dolph Ziggler is actually in this match! He once held the World Heavyweight title after one of the greatest Money In The Bank cash-ins in history, but fell down quite a few notches thanks to his criticism of the company and disapproval from the powers that be. Ziggler delivered an amazing promo on the go home episode of Raw; it was the best he has sounded in quite some time. Dean Ambrose is a very unconventional champion, but you can’t help but like the guy. He’s unpredictable, but has been getting more in touch with his serious side ever since winning the gold. I’m a big fan of both of these men, so this is a win-win situation for me; regardless of the outcome, I’m happy with the champion.
F2H Prediction – Dolph Ziggler
Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins – WWE Universal Championship Match
I am fangirling all over the place over this match! A lot of people are upset that the Demon King reveal was “wasted” on Raw, but we’ve already seen how unfamiliar the main roster audience is with most of the NXT roster and gimmicks, so this was a way of introducing everyone to him and getting them hyped for what is to come at Summerslam. Yes, it would have been better to save the reveal, but I see the logic behind the decision. Seth Rollins is a fantastic champ, but so is Finn Balor. This is another win-win for me because I love both guys and would enjoy seeing either as champion. It’s so exciting to see Balor on the main roster, plus in the title picture so soon, plus facing Rollins! This match alone is worth you signing up for the Network immediately. I’m so happy for Balor for his call up to the main roster and am thrilled to see him battle such a great competitor in Rollins.
F2H Prediction – Finn Balor
Be sure to follow us on Twitter, as we will be providing live coverage and will be posting instant feedback immediately following the PPV. F2H writers, @MrNotWell and myself will also be live tweeting during the show. Weigh in with your own predictions for this massive event, and let us know your thoughts on the yet to be revealed Universal Championship. And, if you’d be so kind, check out our Go Fund Me page.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
It’s time for Monday Night Raw! This is the go home show before the Summerslam PPV; WWE’s second largest event of the year. We start off with a look back earlier today, where Seth Rollins lets us know why he is the man and why he will be the first WWE Universal Champion. He addresses Finn Balor, calling out the Demon King, then feigning surprise when no one shows up. If the Demon King is too scared to find The Man, then The Man will find the Demon King.
Back in the arena, Rusev and Lana are in the ring and both look enraged. Rusev accuses Roman Reigns of ruining a historic event, so he is cancelling Raw tonight. All is on hold until Reigns apologizes. These stand-offs always go so well, don’t they? The crowd starts a USA chant, because they aren’t creative. Thankfully, Mick Foley breaks things up, wearing an amazing “Have A Nice Raw” shirt. Rusev demands respect as Foley pleads with him to leave the ring. After an awkward few seconds, Stephanie McMahon comes out to the ring, at Rusev’s request. McMahon calls Rusev’s behavior unacceptable, especially the disrespect of Foley. Rusev threatens to call up Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, which is when Reigns decides to make an appearance and offer an apology.
Reigns makes a terrible joke about mail order brides, then says that their future babies will be ugly. He has a hell of a black eye, which I can’t say doesn’t make me a tiny bit happy. The crowd again starts chanting USA, and Reigns launches into his best impression of Ghetto Cena, and challenges Rusev to a title match right now. Foley decides that they will have a match tonight, but the title will not be on the line. Instead, this match will be all about Lana’a honor.
We return from commercial to find Sheamus in the ring with Byron Saxton. Sheamus says he is more dominant than Cesaro and shouldn’t have lost the match last week. He proved that he is the better athlete when he interfered in Cesaro’s title match later in the night. Sheamus promises to kick Zayn’s head off, and the two literally trip over the referee trying to beat each other up before the bell even rings. As the match begins, Cesaro joins the commentary table, which is always awkward; Cesaro needs to work on his public speaking and interview skills. Zayn throws Sheamus from the ring and tries to go to the top rope, but Sheamus ducks out of the way and then knocks him into the ringpost and to the ground. During the commercial, the two get back into the ring where Sheamus tries for the first pinfall. Zayn is able to send Sheamus over the top rope, then dives over the rope to knock him down. He gets Sheamus back in the ring and goes to the top rope again, but Sheamus hits White Noise (and Michael Cole calls it the wrong move) and tries for another pinfall. As Sheamus sets up the Brogue Kick, Cesaro leaves commentary and heads to the ring. His distractions allows Zayn to hit a Helluva Kick and win the match.
Backstage, Tom Phillips is interviewing Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, who have recently formed an alliance. Owens will face Big Cass tonight, but it won’t be a one on one match because Jericho has Owens’ back. They mock Enzo and Cass, saying they are closer than their Summerslam opponents will ever be, and that Cass can’t spell to save his life. Cass better watch IT. And by IT, they mean watch Owens beat Cass tonight and watch them humiliate the team at Summerslam.
It’s time for some positivity, as New Day (minus Big E) come to the ring. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, our resident MDs, deliver a message regarding Big E’s ringpostitis. The ball jokes are amazing. And the microwave has a NADS button! Kingston and Woods face The Dudley Boyz, and D-Von is in complete control of Woods as Bubba yells from ringside. Using quick tags, they keep Woods down, but a misstep sends the Dudleys into each other. Kingston tags in and hits Trouble in Paradise for a quick win. Confusing squash match. Anderson and Gallows appear on the screen again, for more testicle jokes at poor Big E’s expense. They produce more jars as a warning that Woods and Kingston are next on their hit list. Kingston gets serious and says that this isn’t a game to them; this is serious business. Patchy-haired human plalluses have no chance of beating them at Summerslam.
Seth Rollins is walking around backstage, searching for the Demon King. He finds Neville, who tells Rollins that he isn’t ready for the Summerslam match against Balor. Back in the ring, Nia Jax is facing Rachel Levy, who has been watching the Olympics nonstop, so she can do anything she sets her mind to. Okay, Rachel. Jax throws Levy across the ring, then sets her on the top rope before shoving her hard off the rope and to the floor. The ref begins the count as Jax retrieves her opponent. She slams her to the mat and gets the pin for the win. I love Nia Jax, but we have got to give her longer matches.
Paul Heyman goes into Brock Lesnar’s dressing room to speak with The Beast before they go to the ring. The crowd is cheering like crazy and chanting Suplex City. Heath Slater interrupts at Heyman begins his speech, and says that he is the hottest free agent in sports entertainment. He proposes becoming a Heyman guy, and Heyman just laughs. Slater clarifies, saying that what he wants is a match with Lesnar to earn a contract. What? The crowd is into it, but Heyman goes back to his speech. Slater screams an interruption, saying do NOT disrespect him! I love Heath Slater. He doesn’t want to face Lesnar, he HAS to. Heyman is trying to save him from a beat down, but Slater’s ass can’t be saved! Lesnar gets on the mic and tells Slater he has guts. He invites Slater in the ring to talk about his kids. Lesnar gets right in his face and says “I don’t give a shit about your kids. You’ve got two choices right here. One, you walk out of here on your own two feet. Two, you can stand there and keep pissing me off.” Lesnar is a scary dude. Slater fakes him out and tries to attack him, but Lesnar hits a clothesline and then takes him to Suplex City! He hits an F5 and kicks Slater out of his ring. Heyman puts on Slater’s sunglasses and gives Slater credit for stepping up to Lesnar, something Randy Orton doesn’t have the guts to do. The beast is in heat, which is an uncomfortable thought.
Up next, Big Cass will face Kevin Owens. I dare you not to smile when Enzo is in the ring. He addresses the Summerslam match, or Summerslam BBQ as he calls it. If Jericho and Owens want beef, they’re bringing it straight to their grill. Cass hits a shoulder tackle and pins Owens in the corner, but he rolls to safety before Cass can get a kick in. He hits Cass on the rope and throws his opponent from the ring where Jericho delivers a cheap shot while the ref is distracted. Owens has controlled the match during the commercial break, and continues as we return until Cass hits a side slam. Owens finally gets a kick to his face from Cass, who then hits a splash in the corner and tries to throw Owens from the ring. Owens grabs the rope to send Cass flying. He tries for a powerbomb, but Cass counters. Jericho and Enzo are fighting outside of the ring, then Jericho begins fighting Cass and the match is called for disqualification. Owens and Jericho don’t mind the loss; they continue to attack Cass. Jericho hits a Code Breaker to take Cass down for good.
Roman Reigns is backstage, promising a bunch of nonsense, when Rusev comes out of nowhere to attack him. He throws him around like a rag doll as Lana watches on from a safe distance. Eventually, the referees and security are able to break things up as we go to commercial. I love seeing Reigns get his ass kicked.
Titus O’Neil’s music hits, but Bob Backlund comes out. He is followed by Darren Young and O’Neil, who all attempt to do the Millions of Dollars dance. On the Raw preshow, Young and O’Neil buried their beef and reunited as a tag team with Backlund’s blessing for one night only. They are facing the Shining Stars. Watching the two together makes me miss them as a tag team; they are great as a duo. Primo manages to get O’Neil pinned in the corner, and Epico tries (and fails) to get the crowd behind them. O’Neil gets back to his feet and easily tosses his opponent aside. Young inadvertently knocks O’Neil off the ring, so he retaliates by hitting Clash Of The Titus and abandoning the match, allowing the Shining Stars to get the win. What?
Now it’s time for the return of Jinder Mahal! Is it weird that I am excited for this? He’s facing off against Neville, who trips in the ring as he tries to go to the top rope to pose. Neville gets an early pin, but Mahal kicks out. He’s controlling this match, hitting the Red Arrow from the top rope to take down Mahal outside of the ring. Mahal begs Neville to stop, using it to bait Neville in and try for a pin. Neville goes to the top rope again and hits the Red Arrow, beating Mahal in his return match. I see we’re still not done shitting on 3MB. Shame.
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins is still searching for the Demon King. Foley and McMahon haven’t seen him either, and Rollins says he’s looked everywhere and has to change his focus to his title match. He asks for the night off, and McMahon doesn’t have anything for him. Foley says that before he takes the night off, go out to the ring and try to get him to come out… unless he’s scared.
Foley calls for his music and Rollins heads to the ring. Rollins is insulted; Balor talked about the Demon King last week, and for what? Rollins says there is nothing and no one that can stop him from winning on Sunday. He calls out the Demon King and is greeted with silence. Finn Balor is only trying to intimidate Rollins because he is scared. Our former champ says that no one can touch him; even he would be afraid of himself if he was someone else. The Demon King is just another chapter in the book of Rollins. He suddenly stops talking, focused on something in the ring that we don’t get to see. The lights start going wonky and the sound is messing up, but Rollins continues to yell.
Finally, out of the smoke, comes Finn Balor! I have chills all over! I will say, they definitely should have saved this moment for Summerslam, but damn if this isn’t amazing to watch. I don’t understand the logic of this decision, but I’m enjoying the moment. As is the crowd! The two men stare each other down as the crowd chants HOLY SHIT and THIS IS AWESOME! The two begin fighting, and Balor takes Rollins down quick. This is the first part of Raw that has gotten me hyped for Summerslam, so maybe there was a logic behind this bizarre decision. We’ll see.
We return to the ring to the Golden Truth, who are facing Anderson and Gallows. Anderson and Truth start off this tag match, with Anderson quickly gaining control and tagging in Gallows. Truth hits an amazing kick to break The Club’s momentum and tag in Goldust. Unfortunately, The Club hits the Magic Killer on Goldust and wins the match. Another quick squash for our go home Raw. Out of nowhere, Kingston and Woods come out to attack The Club. New Day has their game faces on. They take out The Club and make their intentions for Sunday clear.
Dana Brooke is backstage, apologizing for losing last week to Charlotte. Charlotte isn’t having it though; she wanted the handicap match on Sunday to happen. She calls Brooke an epic failure and walks away to prepare for her match against Alicia Fox. Sasha Banks is on commentary and isn’t buying into any of Charlotte’s big talk. Fox goes for an early pin, but Charlotte kicks free. Charlotte pins Fox on the ropes as the crowd chants for Banks. Fox is hit with Natural Selection and pinned for the loss as Charlotte turns her attention to Banks. Banks walks to the ring and Brooke runs out to distract Banks so that Charlotte can lock in the Figure Eight. The refs are unable to break the hold, thanks to Dana Brooke, and Banks looks hurt. Charlotte is playing the villain to perfection.
Moving on, Braun Strowman has a video package showing the way he has evolved since being separated from The Wyatt Family. Back in the ring, Lana addresses the altercation between Rusev and Reigns before welcoming her husband to the ring. Reigns comes out and the two go at it immediately. This match should not be happening. We’re getting a match at Summerslam; I don’t want to see this beforehand. The bell has not rung as Reigns dominates Rusev while the ref pleads for him to stop. During the commercial, Rusev injured Reigns’ arm, and as we return, Rusev is still working it. Maybe he’ll be “injured” and unable to compete Sunday? Reigns is getting back in the match, screaming and making faces, but Rusev throws him into the ringpost and out of the ring. Our US Champ throws Reigns into the steps once again, then targets it as the crowd chants RUSEV MATCHKA!
As we return from hopefully our last commercial break, Rusev has a mic and demands that the crowd cheer for him. Reigns is looking rough, and Rusev doesn’t let up, hitting him with knees and still targeting the arm. The two men go to the top rope, but Reigns blocks Rusev’s attempts and hits a clothesline. Reigns starts doing his best John Cena impression, cocks his fist and goes for the Superman Punch, but Rusev counters. Rusev hits flying headbutt after headbutt on Cena/Reigns, but he kicks out at two. Reigns manages to hit a clothesline and send Rusev out of the ring. He tries for another Superman Punch, but Rusev kicks him in the ribs. Please end this match. Cena/Reigns finally hits the AA/Superman Punch and pins Rusev for a nearfall. Rusev goes for the Accolade but can’t get the right arm locked in. He finally lands a kick that allows him to get the Accolade locked in. Reigns manages to grab the rope to force a break. Reigns hits a spear and wins the match. That was exhausting.
Overall, this wasn’t a great Raw, especially for our go home episode for Summerslam. The main event was godawful and most of the matches were mediocre at best. There was only one moment tonight that got me hyped for Sunday, and that was a moment that ended up angering a lot of other fans. Please leave your thoughts below, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at facetoheel. We will have predictions coming for NXT Takeover and for Summerslam; you don’t want to miss out.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Let’s be fair, the so-called “new era” of the WWE actually got off to a pretty spectacular start. Right out of the gate we saw some surprise drafts, eyebrow-raising NXT call-ups, and we witnessed the World Heavyweight Championship moving over to Smackdown. The highlight of the entire process featured Sasha Banks kicking off Raw last week and having a mixed tag match with Enzo Amore. Wrestling fans were abuzz. Excitement began to build and some of us genuinely thought we were witnessing something fresh. We got wrestler stats, post-match interviews, and cool new camera angles. And then, for no apparent reason, things stopped being fun and we went back to the status quo of business as usual. WWE stopped taking risks and within just a few short weeks, Raw and Smackdown are back to the same stale product we’ve come to expect. So what the hell happened? Let’s discuss some of the glaring problems still plaguing WWE after the brand split.
Team Red vs Team Blue
We hear people complaining all the time about “protecting the business.” Now, I realize it’s 2016 and the idea of kayfabe is laughable to anyone over the age of twelve, however it firmly applies to my point here. When they did the brand split draft, rumor had it that only a few top tier athletes knew where they were going. The rest found out live just like we did. That’s why Alberto Del Rio’s interview after finding out he was going to Smackdown was so awkward. He was pissed. The roster was angry with WWE. But instead of capitalizing on this, WWE had each brand’s roster go into full support mode for their respective brand. Every guy and gal started wearing a blue or a red t-shirt and the phrases “Team Red” and “Team Blue” began being used. The problem with this is it’s forced and comes across as fake. It would be more logical to have people outspoken against their brand, maybe even to the point of insulting their brand and insisting they be “traded” to the other. Furthermore, if a person is supposed to be a heel, they wouldn’t support a cause like that. Twenty years ago, no heel would be caught dead wearing a bright red Team Raw t-shirt, as Lana and Rusev posted on Twitter. It’s absurd and is definitely the one time I agree with the rubes about exposing the business. Bad guys should be bad guys. Period. If someone like Del Rio has a problem with Smackdown, why in the hell would he be on TV wearing a Smackdown shirt? It makes absolutely zero sense. Guys like Rusev care about themselves and shouldn’t have to pimp out Monday Night Raw merchandise. Even if Lana does look smoking hot in it.
More Like A Brand Extension
This wasn’t really a brand split in a pure sense of the word. As it was explained, Smackdown and Raw would go their separate ways, competing with one another but not allowing the two rosters to interact. This lasted a little more than a week. Then we had Smackdown star, Randy Orton, come out on Raw to RKO Brock Lesnar. Then the following night, Lesnar went to Smackdown and hit Orton with an F5. We could have just let this go, but instead, this week Mick Foley invited Daniel Bryan to come to Raw and explain himself. Already we are creating an atmosphere where there is no distinction between the two. WWE went for careful comfort-ability over trying to shake things up. This was supposed to be a split, not an extension and so far it hasn’t delivered on that.
Poor Decision Making From The Start
Let’s be frank, putting David Otunga and Byron Saxton on commentary was a terrible idea. Neither are good or even taken seriously by their co-workers. Corey Graves was a nice addition to Raw, but moving JBL to Smackdown seems an odd choice when paired against Mauro Ranallo. Over the past few weeks, WWE has relied heavily on their bread and butter tag team matches, pairing together a bunch of superstars to try and cover up the fact they have mediocre programming. The new Smackdown and Raw logos lack pizzazz. And much like they did when initially rolling out with the WWE Network, they rushed something that could have been done a lot better. If they had waited to do the brand split until after the Cruiserweight Classic wrapped up and we had established the Cruiserweight division on Raw, the roster would be in better shape, we’d have more new and fresher faces, and we’d actually have some titles on Raw. As it is, we are all just left wondering when this thing is actually going to start being good. Speaking of the rosters…
Lack of Man Power
Prior to the brand split, every old school wrestler chimed in with WWE not having a deep enough roster to fill two distinct brands. And boy were they right. Raw was already 60 minutes too long, even before the split. That’s why we have to suffer through so many long-winded in-ring promos. Currently, Monday Night Raw has 34 active male wrestlers. That sounds like a lot to put into a three hour show, until you take away one for Brock Lesnar being part-time; then take away another thirteen for tag teams. (New Day, Enzo and Cass, The Club, Golden Truth, Dudley’s, The Shining Stars) Then taking out Mark Henry, Bo Dallas, Jinder Mahal, Darren Young, Curtis Axel, Big Show, and Braun Strowman; all of which nobody really wants to see a lot of on TV. And none of which can carry the brand in any case. Having subtracted all those, you are left with thirteen singles competitors. Even that sounds like a decent amount, until you consider there’s only one singles title on the brand! So we subtract two for Rusev and Roman Reigns who are fighting for that title at SummerSlam. And for the sake of kayfabe, we have to take out Cesaro who faced Rusev this week and was suddenly interested in the title. That’s three down, leaving us ten. Now remove Seth Rollins and Finn Balor who are competing for something called the WWE Universal Championship, which we can only hope is covered in glittery gold and rainbows. Now we are down to eight guys left: Chris Jericho, Titus O’Neal, Jack Swagger, Kevin Owens, Neville, Sami Zayn, Sheamus, and Sin Cara. Jericho and Owens are tagging against Enzo and Cass at SummerSlam so for all intents and purposes they are a tag team for this month, leaving us six. How on earth (this one or any alternate universe earth) is O’Neal, Swagger, Zayn, Sheamus, and Sin Cara supposed to fill the gaps left for singles action? The answer is they can’t. Too many guys crammed into too few programs, with way too many tag teams is a recipe for disaster as we are witnessing now.
This doesn’t even take into account the females division, which for Raw only has seven. The main talents here are Sasha Banks and Charlotte. But it’s already been reported Charlotte is taking time off after SummerSlam. So Sasha will be left trying to make decent matches with Nia Jax, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke (who could actually be good, if she got more experience), and Summer Rae. Paige lost her mind, so she’s out of the picture. We all love Sasha, but this women’s division is in real trouble, and if Nikki Bella is coming back we are going to go back five steps after moving one step forward.
Switching over to Smackdown we only have 26 wrestlers, more than half of which are in tag teams! (The Ascension, American Alpha, The Vaudevillians, The Hype Bros, Breezango, The Uso’s, The Wyatt Family, excluding Luke Harper) Smackdown has a huge tag division and no tag title. If you remove Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Apollo Crews, all of which are involved in titles at SummerSlam, we are left with eight guys; consisting of Alberto Del Rio, Baron Corbin, John Cena, AJ Styles, Kalisto, Kane, Randy Orton, and Rhyno. Cena and Styles are doing their tired routine again at SummerSlam and Orton will be facing Lesnar, leaving us with five guys. No wonder Del Rio was pissed. The females division is a little more diverse than Raw with Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, and Natalya, but without a title, what’s their real motivation? The overall point is, unless you are in a big title match, you are shit out of luck being on the WWE personnel. They don’t have the Creative juice to utilize what they have, and the remaining talent isn’t necessarily skilled enough to plug the holes in the dam.
NXT is not a talent factory, so WWE can’t rely on them to churn out enough main roster talent while still maintaining their allure for hardcore fans. Stripping NXT will only diminish it’s worth and it is easily one of the selling points of the WWE Network. Signing indie wrestlers would help, but that isn’t going to happen short term, especially with the fiscal year ending soon. Creatively, they are taking a few risks, but overall the grand scheme is for them to just keep doing what they think is working. Fans are quickly losing steam and tuning out. WWE had us for a moment, but if they don’t sort things out post-haste, they will continue being chastised and booed as they slide further back into the same old crap.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker