The show starts with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan having Randy Orton sign his contract for SummerSlam. Heath Slater knocks and enters with a giant fruit basket. He tosses an apple at Orton. Slater says he rewatched Smackdown from last week and is wondering about the contract they were going to give him. After the opening intro, Maryse and The Miz are in the ring doing some MizTV. Dean Ambrose interrupts quickly. Dolph Ziggler cuts him off as he starts speaking. Ziggler and Ambrose nearly square off, but Miz gets between them and starts firing shots. The segment is a little awkward. Ambrose tries to school Ziggler on being a champ, even though Ziggler has won the world title three times. Ambrose keeps calling him “kiddo” and acting like Ziggler has never been in a competitive match in his life. Creative had zero ideas for his promo. Just generic spew of mediocrity. Ziggler responds, actually fired up and showing emotion. He ends his rant by clocking Ambrose in the face and saying, “This Sunday, you’ll see that I’m just that damn good.”
Twelve man tag match coming up next. Yes. Six days before a pay-per-view. A twelve man tag match. (((sigh))) The Usos, American Alpha, and The Hype Bros taking on The Vaudevillians, The Ascension, and Breezango. I don’t really care enough to write about this one. No tag title on Smackdown so what is even the point? This is a waste of air, and a big waste of time for American Alpha. There is no point to this match and the outcome matters for absolutely nothing. American Alpha wins. What a terribly boring Smackdown so far.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Naomi comes out under black lights doing some sort of weird Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader routine wearing neon clothes, carrying a backpack and throwing things into the audience. Alright, to be fair to her, it does look kind of cool. But just when I get into that, Eva Marie comes out and makes me hate this segment all over again. Let’s see what sort of shenanigans she has to get out of her match this week. The announcer says she was delayed due to traffic and will not be able to compete. Naomi doesn’t even have a match. They just cut away to Del Rio backstage. What was the point?
After the break, Randy Orton comes out after a brief Curt Hawkins teaser promo. Heath Slater comes out to continue his campaign for a new contract. Orton throws him shoulder first in two corners and then clothes lines him to the mat. He lays into him with a bunch of stomps and then whips him into the corner. No offense from Slater yet. Several strikes by Orton, so many, in fact, the ref calls for the bell. Crowd starts booing. Orton tosses Slater out of the ring. Then over the announce table into the commentary chairs. He drops him stomach first onto the barricade and then rolls him back into the ring. Slater can barely get up. Orton suplexes Slater and then mocks Brock Lesnar’s bouncing shuffle. He suplexes him again and then ‘goes to that place.’ Slater stands up and takes an RKO. Technically, Slater won, so he should get a contract now, right? Right?!
Slater is shown backstage with a doctor and is loopy. Bryan and Shane come up and he confuses them for Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. The contract they are about to give him gets taken away as Shane is insulted.
The Wyatt Family comes to the ring. Dean Ambrose vs Erick Rowan. Another meaningless segment. There has been nothing of value tonight on Smackdown; certainly not a whole lot leading into what’s taking place on Sunday. Just a bunch of strange booking decisions. Dirty Deeds and Ambrose wins. After the match Bray Wyatt turns his rocking chair around on Rowan. He stares at the sheep mask, disappointed. He places it on the chair and walks out, leaving Rowan in the ring by himself.
Becky Lynch and Carmella take on Natalya and Alexa Bliss after the break. Eva Marie interrupts during the match and Naomi chases her around the ring. Natalya gets distracted and takes a submission tapout from Becky Lynch. Another lackluster match.
The main event is Del Rio vs John Cena, with AJ Styles on commentary. Cena for some reason has red, white, and blue arm bands on for some reason. And has an American flag on his pants, with a matching red, white, blue belt. Attitude Adjustment takes this one home as Cena wins. Decent match, all things considered. Styles runs in after and attacks Cena from behind. A few moments later, Cena hits an AA off the steel steps against Styles into the announce table. Just an absolute awful Smackdown. I keep seeing people on social media saying Smackdown has gotten better and I just don’t see it. Dismal. Sorry for such a heartless article, but I really can’t get excited with WWE’s direction right now. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight’s broadcast is LIVE, and I’m excited. Aaron Haddad, also known as WWE’s Damien Sandow, has signed with TNA and is said to be debuting tonight, and I can’t wait to see him. Tonight, James Storm and Bobby Lashley will face off in Storm’s first shot at the World Heavyweight title in five years. Ethan Carter III kicks off our night; he won the Bound for Glory playoffs, securing himself a spot in the main event. He is a fantastic heel, a perfect babyface; he wins at everything he does. The crowd gives him a “next world champ” chant as he addresses his accomplishments in TNA. He is on a quest to be the best, to borrow his words.
Of course, Bobby Lashley comes out to give his two cents. Lashley tells EC3 that Bound for Glory is months away, and he is NOT the best; Lashley is the best because of the two titles he currently holds. EC3 acknowledges Lashley’s accomplishments and successes. As Lashley begins at rant about how great he is, James Storm interrupts. wondering why we’re discussing Bound for Glory when we’re broadcasting live and it is him that has a match tonight for the title. Good promo, but the mic issues put a damper on things. Storm baits Lashley, who comes down the ramp, and the two begin fighting. As they go backstage, Mike Bennett and Moose appear and start pummeling EC3. Thankfully, Eddie Edwards comes to the rescue, and the four men fight over the two discarded titles in the middle of the ring. Edwards calls for a ref, moving their tag match to right now.
The bell rings before anyone is in the ring, and we cut to commercial. After the break, EC3 and Bennett are in the ring. EC3 quickly isolates Bennett in his corner before tagging Edwards in. Edwards and EC3 (or EddiEc3, as Edwards called them) are working perfectly together. Bennett is finally able to crawl to Moose, who wastes time getting the crowd chanting his name, allowing Edwards to gain the upper hand. Moose hits a killer drop kick to throw Edwards from the ring. Edwards is able to hit Moose with a DDT, then tag in EC3. He mocks Moose’s chant, then tells him to suck it before delivering clotheslines and taking the big man down. Bennett tries to assist, but EC3 throws him on top of Moose. EC3 and Edwards do the wolves howl and dive from the ring to knock their opponents out. Edwards hits a hurricanrana from the top rope, but Bennett breaks up the pin. This is a fantastic match! Moose pins Edwards for the win, but Bennett sneaks in a tag and pins Edwards, officially winning the match. Moose looks thrown off, but a win is a win.
Right before the break, a black and white screen says “he is doing it his way,” and then music breaks through. Hallelujah! I just started clapping and cheering in my living room! WWE made a huge mistake letting this talent go. When we come back, the Hallelujah plays before breaking into a different beat with flashing lights. Aron Rex, formerly known as Damien Sandow, comes out looking happy, healthy, and appreciative of the welcome from TNA! He says “Impact Wrestling has done what too many people were scared to do; give me a microphone on live TV!” He takes a shot at Ryback’s “glass ceilings” comment, takes a very clear shot at WWE, then says that this is all about the fans and for the fans. He says he’s been labeled “too entertaining” to get a world title shot, but no matter what any majority shareholder or authority figure believes, anyone in the ring directly works for the fans. If you haven’t watched this, stop reading right now and look this promo up because it is genius. The crowd starts chanting “you’re a genius!” What a welcome for Aron Rex!
Backstage, Gail Kim is speaking to Maria Kanellis about a match tonight, when Marti Bell comes out of nowhere to attack her. Their match tonight will be no disqualification. Edwards moves to confront Bennett and Moose about the way they ruin all his opportunities, setting up a match between Edwards and Moose for next week. But now, our Knockouts match between Bell and Kim. Before Kim can even get to the ring, Bell is on the attack. Maria and Allie come to the ring, and Allie starts squeaking and abusing my ear drums. The bell finally rings as Bell straddles Kim and lands punch after punch. Bell hits a side Russian leg sweep to take Kim down before kicking her in the back over and over. With Allie’s interference and no disqualifications, this match is stacked against Kim. Kim is able to hit a couple of clotheslines and tries for a pin. Maria hops on the apron to knock Kim from the top rope before ordering Allie to get in the ring. Even three against one, Kim is able to pick up the win, but is immediately attacked by Bell. Thankfully, Jade runs out to even the numbers and save Kim. She then turns her attention to Allie, knocking the screechy woman down. Maria, angry about the outcome, makes a match for next week; Jade versus Gail Kim.
Outside a watering hole, Matt Hardy visits his Obsolete Mule, accompanied by his drone. King Maxel has nearly been kidnapped! The drone will protect King Maxel and Rebecca with his life! The Mule and Matt Hardy are on their way to the Zone of Impact now. I’ll be honest; it is exhausting to type the way he talks. I can’t imagine how he does this week after week.
Anyway, back in the ring we go. Broken Matt Hardy says something, but I can’t recall because I’m laughing so hard at the way he just said “condition.” Con-dee-shion? It was amazing. He address Decay and talks about his “pre-me-neeesion” that Decay tried to kidnap Maxel. Matt promises to take the tag titles from Decay with the help of “Ob-So-LEEEET” Brother Nero. How is Jeff Hardy keeping a straight face??? Jeff asks Matt why he ate a guy’s face last week, and Matt says it’s because ants aren’t allowed to touch Gods. Matt says Jeff owes him because of his broken leg last year. Jeff wants the Hardys to go back to how they were, but Matt says the Hardys are OVAH! The Tribunal interrupts, and Al Snow mocks Matt and calls Jeff a loser. Snow says that if Matt wants the titles, he needs to do what he did and go to France to find real competitors. Baron Dax and Basile Baraka enter the ring to compete in a “tag” match against Matt and Jeff, only I’m pretty sure it’ll be Jeff against the two alone. Just as the match starts, we break for commercial.
As we return, Al Snow is kicking Jeff, who lays outside of the ring. Jeff tries to tag in Matt, but he refuses. Outside the ring, Matt gets in a fan’s face and says DELETE DELETE DELETE, causing the fan to rip up his “Jeff Hardy Is Not Obsolete” sign and start chanting DELETE! He then bites Al Snow. Broken Matt Hardy is fantastic. Matt takes off his boot and uses it to beat Dax in the head. In the ring, Jeff hits Twist of Fate to pin Baraka for the win! Jeff then takes out his anger on poor Dax and Baraka, knocking them out over and over before then taking down Snow. Matt is laughing as Jeff goes for the tables. Jeff throws Snow from the ring, rolls him onto a table, then dives onto Snow, breaking the table beneath them. Jeff says “the only person who punishes me is me” before putting himself through a table. Glorious. Maniacal laughter from both brothers now. What am I watching??!? Jeff starts yelling BROTHER NERO! I AM BROTHER NERO!
Rosemary tells us that no one is ever in control with Decay, and Bram learned that the hard way. Abyss says that Decay is what makes him beautiful. Bram’s destruction was a lesson to all the other fools who dare to challenge Decay. Back in the ring, Drew Galloway walks out looking all business. Galloway addresses the fact that EC3 has cost him his shot at the title during the Bound for Glory playoffs three different times. He says one time is an accident, but three times? EC3 is a snake in the grass and is green with envy, jealous of Galloway and trying to sabotage his career. He proposes a match; EC3 versus Galloway for the main event of Bound for Glory.
Time for our main event; James Storm versus Bobby Lashley. The winner will walk away with all three titles; World Heavyweight, King of the Mountain, and X Division. James Storm is announced as the challenger, and Lashley takes that as his cue to attack Storm. The bell is rung and the match is officially on. Storm quickly turns the match in his favor, attacking Lashley outside of the ring and taking the big man to his knees. Lashley tries to counter with a kick, but Storm hits a clothesline. Lashley grabs something off the announcer’s table to use as a weapon, but Storm doesn’t allow it. After the break, Lashley is in control of this match; Storm is down on the mat and hurting. Lashley delivers a powerful bodyslam, and Storm looks like he is in trouble. He hits Storm with a vertical suplex, then tries for the spear but Storm dodges and knocks him down. Storm lands a kick to the back of the head, but Lashley hits a crossbody and goes for a pin. Lashley finally hits Storm with the spear and nearly wins the match, but Storm is out at the last possible moment. Storm hits TWO last calls, but it still isn’t enough to get Lashley down for the three count. Lashley hits a final spear and pins Storm for the win! Lashley now has THREE titles. Count them!
As Lashley celebrates, Aron Rex walks out to quietly watch out champion. His intentions are clear and I can’t wait to see what he has in store. Rex is an incredible addition to Impact Wrestling, and I guarantee Vince McMahon is kicking himself for the decision to release him. Next week is the Ascension to Hell, where tag teams will compete for a title shot opportunity. Tonight was a fantastic night of wrestling. Please leave your thoughts below, and follow us on Twitter at facetoheel for more coverage. See you all next week!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
News broke earlier today that Aaron Haddad, better known as Damien Sandow of WWE fame and Aron Stevens on the independent scene, signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and will be making his debut tonight. This is incredible news for pro-wrestling fans, especially those who harbor no ill will towards Dixie Carter and her Impact Zone product.
Haddad, who has been wrestling professionally since 2001, was misused by Vince McMahon despite the greatness of the Sandow character and was released from WWE earlier this year. For the past few months he’s been wrestling on the independent circuits and has now found a new home. His signing to TNA is a huge deal for many reasons. First and foremost being he’s a great worker. He can go in the ring, against any opponent, and his mic skills are impeccable. Now that he has a chip on his shoulder thanks to the McMahon’s, Haddad is probably about to go on a masterful run that will be a highlight of his career.
He could have signed anywhere and been instantly well received. But signing with TNA is an indication of good things from the company. They recently signed Ring of Honor monster, Moose. And now Haddad. As we have said before, TNA is getting better, and Haddad is going to up the ante. Whether coming in to be in a tag team (imagine him and The Miracle, Mike Bennett, being arrogant heels and winning the tag titles) or as a singles competitor (imagine him and The Miracle, Mike Bennett, trading verbal barbs and putting on a clinic in the ring) Haddad is going to succeed. It will be interesting to see where he slides into the roster right out of the gate tonight.
Most importantly though, signing both Moose and Haddad so close together has to put a dent in those vicious online rumors that TNA is having financial problems and will be imploding any minute now. Back off, internet trolls; TNA is still in the game. What do you guys think of this epic signing? Who should Haddad set his sights on for his first opponent? And what are the long term effects of TNA adding him to the roster? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, be sure to tune in tonight on POPTV for an all new Impact Wrestling. Watch it live to help their ratings. And in the words of the great Damien Sandow, “You’re Welcome!”
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Starting this one a few minutes late thanks to XBOX live needing a huge update. Figures. Just ten little days before NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II. Let’s get this show started.
We kick off with a pre-taped segment of Bobby Roode coming out of William Regal’s office. Roode is rubbing his hands together and says, “This is gonna be great.” After the intro video, Regal is in the ring. Time for a contract signing between Bayley and Askua. Bayley comes out in jeans and a flannel, channeling her inner Daniel Bryan. Asuka comes out wearing a black skirt and top, looking like a champion. Bayley says she sees through the Asuka mystique. She signs the contract. Asuka says Bayley doesn’t have what it takes. She respects her, though, and tries to shake her hand. Bayley says she respects her too, but if she doesn’t want to be left laying on the mat she had better sign the contract and get ready for Brooklyn. Asuka signs, Regal signs, and it’s official. Asuka again tries to shake her hand. Bayley shoves past her and goes to leave but comes back and gets right in Asuka’s face. Asuka just smiles and raises the belt, walking out.
The Authors of Pain come out with Paul Ellering. Love their entrance music. That’s how you amp up a monster. Not this foo-foo shit that Nia Jax has. I do dislike their ring gear, though. A little too much like The Shield. Another squash match for their opponents, Tom Risen and Adrien Nails. Over before it starts. Authors of Pain arrive, destroy, and leave. Vince is going to love these two when they get up to the main roster. After the match they go to beat down Risen and Nails (again) and TM61 run out. They are laid to waste and Authors of Pain stand victorious. Couple of monsters. Once they get going with a great tag team opposite them, they are going to put on a fantastic match.
Shinsuke Nakamura interviewed backstage, asked if he is concerned about Samoa Joe. Nakamura says he isn’t hard to find and he will find Joe when he wants to. It’s hard to put fear into the King of Strong style. He’s not worried.
The undefeated Andrade “Cien” Almas comes out. His opponent is Angelo Dawkins. My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Dawkins at a live event and he is pretty damn awesome. He is good at being a heel and getting the crowd boiling over. Cien takes control early, as Dawkins graciously sells for him. The crowd at Full Sail is a little flat tonight. They really should give more energy to the show. Cien tries to clap and get them fired up, but they just sit and stare. Hammerlock DDT by Cien and he plants Dawkins for the one, two, three. He continues to be undefeated. As Cien celebrates in the ring, a GLORIOUS entrance song hits and Bobby Roode comes out. He calls Ciens victory “minor league.” Roode says Regal gave him a match at Takeover: Brooklyn against Cien. Good segment for Roode, but Cien does little to show any sort of interest. Needed a little bit more oomph. There might have been a slight language barrier, however.
Backstage segment with Austin Aries speaking to Regal. Regal sets up a match with Aries and No Way Jose at Takeover. Billie Kay comes down to the ring for some women’s action. Liv Morgan comes down, looking like a knockoff Carmella. They need to rework her gimmick or she’s going to fade away into obscurity. Fact action to kick this one off and both ladies look solid. Their sells are a little soft though and lack impact. Both need to work on popping better. Crowd sitting and quiet most of the match, again not helping any of the competitors out. Morgan is a little hyper, but there’s skill there. Billie still seems a little unsure of herself. Both will be good with a little polish. Billie Kay lands a big kick to the face of Morgan and covers her for the pinfall. Lukewarm reaction to the finish by this terrible audience.
Backstage segment with Regal talking to Ciampa and Gargano. He says he hopes their match in the Cruiserweight Classic didn’t affect them heading into Takeover as they battle The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Gargano and Ciampa come down to the ring to take on a couple of jobbers, I think. Two guys I’ve never heard of called Patrick Clark and Tucker Knight. Knight does a great job in the ring. Big dude with lots of speed. Gargano and Ciampa firing on all cylinders. These guys are solid gold in the ring. They double team Tucker Knight for the pinfall. I wish that match had been longer, but they action-packed the little time they were given. Great job to all.
Tonight’s main event is Mojo Rawley facing Samoa Joe. Wow! What a start to this one. Mojo is going crazy attacking Joe. But it’s short lived as outside the ring, Joe stampedes him into the steel steps and chops him to hell. Back in the ring, Mojo has lost all steam and Joe dominates. Mojo can barely get up to his feet, taking several loud kicks to the chest on the mat. Forearm off the second rope as Mojo tries to battle back. He blocks the Coquina Clutch and slams Joe down. Two count as Joe kicks out. Out of no where, Joe spikes Mojo to the mat and drops him down into the Coquina Clutch. Mojo struggles for a moment, but gives in and taps out. The NXT Champion is your winner. Joe stands up and celebrates with his title. Then just for fun, he locks in the Coquina Clutch again on Mojo. Nakamura’s music hits and he struts down to the ring. He gets half way down the ramp before security runs out and keeps them separated. Seven guys hold Joe as Nakamura gets into the ring. He dances around and then literally honks Samoa Joe’s nose! HaHaHa! He comes back in and slaps Joe in the face. Security can barely hold him back as Nakamura dances around in the corner.
Solid show this evening. Some of the competitors tonight need a little bit of work, but that’s the whole point of NXT. The writing is on the wall that the next class has huge potential. The future remains bright for NXT. After a brief intermission to take my dog for a walk, I’ll be back with full Cruiserweight Coverage. Hideo Itami is scheduled to wrestle next week, which is always something to look forward to. What did you think of NXT tonight, and what are your predictions for Takeover: Brooklyn? Let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis 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
As Mrs Baker reported last night, Raw did not start the week off right. Let’s see if Smackdown can do any better. The show kicks off with Randy Orton walking into the arena. He is interviewed but soon interrupted by Alberto Del Rio whom he’ll be facing later tonight. Orton doesn’t nail his words and it is not a great opener.
Bray Wyatt comes down to the ring with Erick Rowan, still being billed as The Wyatt Family so we’re assuming that once Luke Harper returns they will get back to their origins. Wyatt says he didn’t lose to Dolph Ziggler last week, but was a victim. That Ziggler got desperate and was lucky in his victory. Bray calls himself a god, even though his pay-per-view record tends to disagree, but whatever. Bray calls Smackdown his show now. See, this is the problem with having Wyatt eat a bunch of defeats. His words sound hollow and don’t have the same menacing tone as they once did back when he was psyching-out John Cena. Luckily, we don’t have to listen long as World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose, interrupts. Ambrose calls Bray a baby. He says Smackdown belongs to the champion. Bray laughs and invites Ambrose into the ring. Rowan beckons him. Dolph Ziggler’s music hits. Ziggler heads straight into the ring and attacks Rowan. Ambrose joins him but Bray is too much and both men go down. Gee, I wonder if Daniel “Teddy Long” Bryan is going to make this one a tag match for later tonight? Dolph tries to kick Bray, but misses and hits Ambrose instead. Bray hits Ziggler with a Sister Abigail. Commercial
After the break, Ziggler and Ambrose are fighting backstage. Sure enough, Bryan and Shane walk up and tell them they better learn to get along because they are facing Rowan and Wyatt later. Shocker. New Era, Same Old Smackdown. American Alpha come to the ring to face some jobber tag team. And this is the problem with a brand split. There just isn’t enough depth in the roster to have good matches. Nia Jax, Braun Strowman, and American Alpha are all squashing jobbers. The Vaudevillians, The Ascension, and The Hype Bros come to the ring, putting a glaring spotlight on the huge mistake with drafting American Alpha to Smackdown. What a waste. Gable and Jordan deserve so much more than this. Match is over in less than a minute. Alpha wins, naturally. After the match, the other three tag teams jump in and everybody starts fighting. Gable and Jordan clear the ring. American Alpha had to go to Smackdown just so R-Truth and Goldust could chase Pokemons on Monday Night Raw? They have to debut a new tag team soon on Smackdown otherwise American Alpha is going to be lost down the card with these mediocre teams surrounding them. With all do respect to The Vaudevillians.
After another commercial break there is literally a two minute segment of Maryse and The Miz nearly making out in front of Renee Young on the Talking Smack set. Becky Lynch comes out, which is exciting. But then Eva Marie comes out, utterly killing the segment. I am fast-forwarding through this match. Sorry, Becky. But I refuse to watch Eva Marie tarnish the business. There is no match though because Eva Marie has a “wardrobe malfunction.” Becky jumps on the mic and cuts a good promo. She wants to fight and challenges anyone in the back to come down. Alexa Bliss obliges. Yet another commercial break.
The match gets underway, but then Eva Marie interrupts with another entrance. My wife literally just said, “Let’s never go to Smackdown until [Eva Marie] is gone.” Alexa Bliss hits Twisted Bliss for the pinfall off the Eva Marie distraction. Happy Birthday to Alexa Bliss. Happy Suicide Day to the rest of us.
Randy Orton comes down, followed by his opponent Alberto Del Rio. Orton runs the match for the first couple of minutes, whip-lashing Del Rio into the corners, clothes-lining him to the mat, and slamming his throat into the bottom rope. Just when this one gets going, we get hit with another commercial break. Del Rio recovers after the break, throwing Orton shoulder-first into the turnbuckles. Outside the ring, he works on Orton’s left arm, banging it against the steel steps. Del Rio with a cross arm-breaker hanging off the ropes, ref breaks it up at four. Superplex by Orton, but he lands on his left arm and both men are down. Orton tries a DDT off the ropes, but Del Rio blocks it. Del Rio tries a cross arm-breaker, but Orton reverses it, tries an RKO, but it’s blocked and then he hits a draping DDT off the ropes. Del Rio rolls out of the ring as the crowd boos him. Orton, incensed, runs out and takes Del Rio down. He then rips apart the announce table. Del Rio clobbers him with a steel chair and the ref calls for the bell. Del Rio hits Orton in the arm with the chair and then throws him shoulder first into the ringpost. Del Rio rolls Orton into the ring and brings a chair along with him. He sets up to hit him but Orton lands an RKO out of nowhere. It took almost an hour but we finally had a good segment/match. I look forward to seeing Orton get back into form over the next few weeks as he heads into SummerSlam. And also to watch him get his tan back. Those pale legs are hideous.
Backstage, Heath Slater confronts Rhyno. Slater asks Rhyno to help him out in getting a contract. Rhyno declines and we go into commercial. After, both come down to the ring and Slater looks really strong to start things off. He goes for some early covers, to no avail. Slater tries for a dirty pin but the ref sees it. Rhyno hits gore for the three count. Slater still doesn’t have a job. I really hope this leads to a huge SummerSlam moment for Slater. He really is a talented guy. WWE would be foolish to let him go. After the break, Slater is backstage yelling at Bryan and Shane. Slater storms off and Shane puts away the contract he was about to offer him. Carmella comes out, moonwalking. As she works the mic, Natalya runs up behind her. Carmella is ready for her this time and turns to confront her. They fight into the ring. The ref breaks them up, rings the bell, and they go after each other again. Natalya quickly takes control and mocks the crowd. Carmella puts Natalya in a submission and she taps! Wow. That was a surprise. Carmella got a main roster win! Nice!
Main event time. Ambrose and Ziggler vs Wyatt and Rowan. Ambrose and Bray start the match. Ambrose drops Bray and isolates him in his corner. Ziggler tags himself in. Wyatt plants Ziggler and Rowan tags in. Clothesline on the apron and we go to commercial. Sloppy back and forth action after the break, leading to Ziggler and Rowan squaring off. Neckbreaker from Ziggler, then he jumps across the ring and knocks Bray off the apron. Elbow drop and a cover, but Rowan kicks out at two. DDT, another cover, but kick out again at two. Monster kick by Rowan and he nearly gets the pinfall win. Zig Zag by Ziggler but Bray breaks up the cover. Ambrose comes in and tosses Bray out. He dives out after him. Super kick by Ziggler on Rowan, pinfall, that’s the ballgame. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on Ziggler and walks out holding his title up. Predictable go home match and some more mediocre booking by Vince and company.
Pretty much a weak performance all across the board for WWE tonight. Smackdown Live started off pretty fun the first couple weeks, but it didn’t take long to turn right back into a barely digestible pile of shit. WWE is supposed to be the benchmark, the big dog, the powerhouse–but if this is the best they can do, why aren’t more people watching TNA on Thursdays? What did you think of this clumsy Smackdown episode? Let us know in the comments below. For my money, neither Raw or Smackdown won this week’s war. See you tomorrow for NXT and the CWC.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight, Sean Combs will be on Raw, for reasons I don’t quite understand or care about. Raw kicks off with Smacktalker Skywalker himself; Enzo Amore and his partner, Big Cass. He hasn’t even spoken yet and I’m already grinning from ear to ear. Enzo addresses the crowd regarding last week’s match and flirtation with Sasha Banks, that Chris Jericho ruined. Jericho comes out in his best scarf to talk to “Enzo Annoying,” saying that he is nothing without Big Cass at his side. Now, Jericho has backup of his own in the form of Kevin Owens. I’m not crazy about this pairing; I’m not big on Jericho (sorry, hardcore wrestling fans) and I prefer Owens as a solo wrestler. Owens says that Cass is one of the few people he liked in NXT; they had a waste of space as a best friend as something in common. But unlike him, Cass still carries his dead weight around with him. Owens asks a “reforical” question, and threatens to hurt Enzo and Cass. The segment ends abruptly with Enzo getting the last word, and a match is set for after the commercial break.
Enzo and Jericho are in the ring for a singles match, with Cass and Owens ringside to support their respective teammates. Owens is screaming insults at Enzo as Jericho pins him in the corner and hits chops to the chest. Enzo hits a Hurricanrana, but Jericho responds with a clothesline that breaks his momentum. As the official is distracted, Owens hits Enzo with a cheap shot. The two men move outside of the ring, where Owens and Cass come to their defense as we move to our second break. When we return, Michael Cole says that it has been Jericho’s match during the break. Enzo quickly turns it around and hits a Crossbody into a shoulder tackle, then running forearm into a cover. Jericho locks in the Walls, but Enzo makes it to the rope. Jericho hits a Codebreaker after a distraction by Owens, prompting Cass to hit Jericho with a kick to the face. The ref calls the match thanks to the disqualification and Jericho is declared the winner. Enzo is down and out on the mat as Owens celebrates with his new BFF. Cass gets on the mic and challenges the duo to a match at Summerslam to settle the score, and Owens accepts. How you doin?
Mick Foley is on the phone backstage with Stephanie McMahon, discussing the issue with Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, when Sasha Banks steps in. She proposes that the Women’s Title match be a handicap match so that she can keep an eye on Dana Brooke as she fights Charlotte. Foley counters, saying that Banks will face Brooke tonight. If she wins, Brooke will be banned from ringside at Summerslam. If she loses, she will get her handicap match.
Braun Strowman comes out to the ring now, and I am cracking up again at the loud BRAAAAAUN scream at the beginning of his new entrance theme. It’s amazing and I love it. Jorel Nelson is his opponent tonight, and in his pre-match interview, he was unable to say a single word. He comes out after Strowman, looking absolutely terrified. Nelson immediately exits the ring once the bell rings, and Strowman knocks him off the apron before throwing him back into the ring and hitting a killer clothesline. Nelson is hit with a reverse chokeslam before being pinned for the loss. Strowman then grabs him by the ankle and throws him from the ring before screaming “Everyone Will Fall!”
Sean Combs greets Foley backstage, and I tune out for a moment. Kofi Kingson and Xavier Woods save this segment with some delicious Booty-Os and congratulations to Combs for his work on the WWE 2k17 soundtrack. Our next match is Titus O’Neil and Darren Young, former tag team partners and now seemingly new enemies thanks to O’Neil’s questionable victory last week. Young takes a knee to the face early on, then the match moves outside of the ring as O’Neil shoves Young into the apron and hits a hard chop to the chest. Young tries a move off the second rope, but O’Neil catches him. Young is able to roll up O’Neil and pin him with a hand on the tights, exactly how O’Neil won his match last week. Bob Backlund picks him up in victory; he was conveniently not watching as Young cheated his way into a win. Quick, throwaway match.
Our former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins comes to the ring. Rollins addresses his Summerslam opponent, Finn Balor, calling him a Seth Rollins knockoff. The Jared Leto to his Heath Ledger. Rollins says that Balor’s name, which translates to “Demon King,” is absurd. Rollins wants to know who Balor truly is. He calls him disrespectful and arrogant, and thinks it’s a joke to even entertain the idea that he’ll beat him at Summerslam for the Universal Title. Rollins says he belongs at the top of the WWE, and he doesn’t need the smoke and mirrors to make himself into something he isn’t. This is a fantastic promo by Rollins; he’s tearing down Roman Reigns, John Cena, and everyone else who isn’t in his league.
The next match is a rematch from last week; Sheamus versus Cesaro. The two are clearly angry and lock up as soon as the bell rings, with Sheamus getting Cesaro down almost immediately. Cesaro knocks Sheamus from the ring, then executes an impressive dive to take him down. Cesaro starts in with the uppercuts as the ref pleads with him to get Sheamus out of the corner. Sheamus is finally able to take control of the match, but we move to commercial. When we return, Sheamus dives from the ropes to pin Cesaro. He locks Cesaro in a headlock on the mat, and the two rise to begin trading punches. It’s a pretty slow match, to be honest. There are a lot of false finishes and a lot of counters to finishing moves, but it’s failing to keep my attention. The two leave the ring, and Cesaro rams Sheamus into the barricade before returning to the ring for an uppercut party. The ref is caught up in the crossfire and Sheamus is able to pin Cesaro for the win, but the ref doesn’t see it. This allows Cesaro to capitalize and pin him for the win. He celebrates with the crowd as Sheamus looks understandably upset.
We move on to a video package with Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, going back 15 years to get a recap of their journey through WWE. It’s crazy to see them so young and to see everything they have accomplished over the years. Orton says that he isn’t impressed with Lesnar because he left the WWE. Lesnar basically says he doesn’t give a shit what Orton thinks or says. Lesnar giggles when they replay him F5ing Orton on Smackdown. It’s a bad ass promo, and I want to see the unedited version, because Lesnar cusses a lot.
Bubba Ray and D-Von are up now for a tag match against Neville and surprise partner, Sin Cara. Oh, joy. Sin Cara is dressed all in black and looks like he came to rob a bank but forgot his shirt. He starts off the match against Bubba. The crowd is chanting for tables as Sin Cara hits a moonsault to take Bubba down. Bubba knocks him from the ropes into the barricade, then throws him back into the ring and tags in D-Von. D-Von mocks the Lucha chant before throwing Sin Cara into the turnbuckle, not allowing him to regain his footing or tag in Neville. He’s finally able to make it to his partner, who gets a pin on D-Von, but can’t hold him down. He flies out of the ring to take down Bubba before returning to the ring to hit a Missile Drop Kick on D-Von. Neville goes to the top rope and hits the Red Arrow for the win. A shaky match, but Neville looked great.
Our newlywed United States champion and his lovely wife, Lana, come out to a decorated ring to celebrate their marriage, which was filmed for Total Divas. The crowd is hating on the couple, and I’m wondering how Lana can walk in those shoes without tripping. I can’t manage it in my Chuck Taylors, nevermind 6″ heels. Lana says that since we weren’t invited to their VIP wedding, they will reenact it for us now. We get photos of their special day along with cheesy music, and the crowd responds with BORING chants. I love me some Lana, but I have to wonder what this is leading to. I have zero interest in hearing their vows and want this to move on.
Be careful what you wish for… Roman Reigns interrupts and the crowd cheers. Kudos to WWE for finding a way to get people to cheer for this guy again. He offers to be Rusev’s best man and says he will toast to their marriage. When Rusev refuses, he challenges him to a match, which Rusev also refuses. Patiently waiting for a cake to fly into somebody. Reigns decides to do the toast anyway. Reigns tries hard to be clever, but reminds us all that the promo talent that The Rock is blessed with is certainly not genetic. Reigns and Rusev start fighting, and poor Lana gets shoved into the cake. She’s covered in frosting, and Reigns slinks away with a stupid look on his face. Poor Lana. Backstage, Rusev is screaming at Foley, saying that Reigns needs to pay for ruining their celebration. Foley makes a match at Summerslam for the US Title; Rusev versus Reigns. They start yelling in Russian, and we cut away. Poor Lana…
Sasha Banks us set to face Dana Brooke to decide if the Summerslam match will be one-on-one or a handicap match. A belated congratulations goes out to our Women’s Champion, who recently got married to Sareth Ton, a WWE costume designer and former WWE wrestler known as Mikaze. Charlotte is screaming at Brooke, shouting instructions on how to take Banks down. Brooke goes for multiple pins, but The Boss kicks free. Charlotte tries for a cheap shot to Banks, but hits Brooke instead. Banks hits Brooke with knees to the chest and wins the match, banning Brooke from the Summerslam match.
Finn Balor takes his turn to address the situation with Seth Rollins and to properly explain the origin of his name. Balor’s origins aren’t a myth, they are pieces of himself that he is able to tap into and use to his advantage. He will introduce the Demon King to Rollins at Summerslam. It’s a pretty decent package, and I’m excited to see their match.
Moving on, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are dressed as doctors to address ringpostitis. They also have eggs in a jar to represent Big E’s balls. It makes them “a bit testy.” Tonight, they promise to add Kofi’s nuts to their collection. Testicles. Luke Gallows will face Kingston now. The match kicks off with Gallows in total control, and he never loses it. This is a fast match, with Gallows getting a quick pin on his opponent. He and Anderson drag Kofi to the ring post and get ready to take his fun bits for a ride, but Woods grabs a steel chair and sends them running up the ramp.
Outside, R-Truth is in Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine. R-Truth accuses Goldust of replacing him with Scooby, and he almost fights the dude in the suit, but all is well and they run off to watch the movie. Back in reality, Mick Foley comes to the ring to welcome Smackdown GM, Daniel Bryan. The two trade compliments before Foley apologizes for Lesnar’s actions on Smackdown. Bryan offers his own apology for Orton’s actions, but Foley isn’t buying it and pulls up video of Bryan insulting the Universal Title. Surprisingly, Rusev interrupts and threatens Bryan, saying anyone who tries what Orton did will be crushed. Now Cesaro is out in the ring, saying that he proved he deserves a title shot and wants Foley to deliver. Foley says that Cesaro can have his shot tonight, even though it’s 10:55pm.
It’s 11pm as we return to our title match. Cesaro starts the uppercut party and goes for the swing, but Rusev goes for the rope. He flies out of the ring to attack Rusev before rolling him back into the ring. He goes to the top rope and hits Rusev with a crossbody for an unsuccessful pin. Rusev regains control and throws Cesaro into the ringpost. He is targeting Cesaro’s shoulders, then moves to his midsection. Cesaro tries for the swing again, but Rusev blocks it. He almost scores a win, but Rusev isn’t allowing it. The uppercuts continue at the expense of Rusev, who is then hit with a Tornado DDT. Rusev is angry now and goes for the Accolade, but Cesaro fights free, lifting Rusev on his shoulders before dropping him to the mat. Cesaro lands a solid uppercut and calls for the swing. He gets Rusev up, then locks the Sharpshooter in. Sheamus unfortunately breaks it up, allowing Rusev to get up and take Cesaro down. The referee gets knocked out, not seeing Cesaro getting a successful pin. Rusev pokes Cesaro in the eye, then Sheamus kicks him in the face, allowing Rusev to retain his title. As he celebrates, Reigns comes out and spears him. We end the night with Reigns’ music as he flashes the peace sign and walks into the back.
Summerslam is in two weeks, and we will bring you a run down of the matches and our predictions closer to the event. Tonight was a decent build to our second biggest WWE event of the year, and it was successful in getting me excited for a good number of the matches. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @facetoheel, and we will see you all tomorrow night for Smackdown.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Paige hasn’t been on TV lately, and the official word is that she suffered minor neck and back injuries and is taking time to heal. However, the general consensus is that there is something much more serious going on with our former Divas champion. She is currently dating Alberto Del Rio, who was drafted to Smackdown while Paige was sent to Raw. The couple was reported to have been upset about the decision, and you could tell in the post-draft interview that Del Rio was certainly upset by something. The decision to separate them was reportedly done intentionally.
Paige and Del Rio took their relationship public via Instagram. Then, for some bizarre reason, Paige deleted all trace of Del Rio off her Instagram page. She later claimed that she was hacked, and that the hacker targeted only those photos for some reason. It was a lame excuse. She then went on to post new photos of her “papi” with overly mushy messages about how she needs him in her life and how she loves him so very much. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with public displays of love, it comes off as very immature. This is behavior and wording that you see out of a high school freshman; angry and deleting one minute, overly affectionate and doe-eyed the next. It has the feel of young love, not a mature adult relationship.
Paige hasn’t been booked to win a decent singles match in quite some time. She is also said to be unhappy with her character development, or lack thereof. She has taken a backseat to Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, and has no chance of getting a title shot any time soon with the current storylines in place. Paige may have come to the main roster as the NXT champion and their golden girl, but things have changed drastically since then. Plus, her two runs as Divas champ felt like she was merely a placeholder to AJ Lee, not a true champion.
While in Las Vegas for the Money In The Bank PPV, Paige and Del Rio had a run in with the police. In what was not a Total Divas segment, Paige and Del Rio were seen arguing outside of Cesar’s Palace Hotel & Casino. Paige tried to run across the street away from him while the police were present. Paige was handcuffed for her own safety, and then she was sent to a local medical facility for a mental evaluation, also known as a Legal 2000, which allows authorities to detain someone who may be a danger to themselves or to others. No charges were filed against her, but it is concerning.
Paige’s mother, wrestler Saraya Knight, took to Twitter and Facebook to say that “a mum’s worst nightmare is her child hurting and broken, but, what hurts more is the bullshit being spread through media networks. My heart has been in my mouth over the last few weeks and not being able to talk about it whilst reading all the bullshit has made me so angry. Just wish her well instead of making up shit.” Is she simply defending her daughter? Possibly. But I’ve noticed that people get extra defensive when the truth comes out, and this could be the case here. Mental issues are often treated as something to shame, so it is very possible that the anger is present because this is no longer a secret.
Whatever is going on with Paige, it’s more than just a simple physical injury. There are too many questionable things going on and too many warning signs. I don’t wish anything bad on her, but I hope that this doesn’t go ignored. If help is needed, denial won’t fix a thing. Us fans can’t do much more than be supportive, give her space, and hope that the situation isn’t as serious as I fear it is. Hopefully, when Paige returns to the squared circle, she is rebuilt and ready for some true competition.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker