The first Roadblock PPV was just last year in Canada, featuring eleven matches total, with the main event of Triple H vs Dean Ambrose, where Triple H retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This year, it has been rebranded as a Raw exclusive PPV and renamed Roadblock: End Of The Line. It will take place in Pittsburg, PA at the PPG Paints Arena. Let’s take a look at the match card and make some predictions.
Big Cass vs Rusev – Preshow Singles Match
This feud all started when Lana accidentally saw Enzo Amore’s twig and berries while he was locked out of the locker room. Rusev caught Enzo attempting to hit on Lana, which resulted in Lana pretending to leave Rusev so she could lure Enzo to her hotel room where her husband beat the living daylights out of him. Cass isn’t one to let things slide when it comes to his best friend and tag partner, so he now has it out for Rusev. I’m glad it was a ruse and WWE wasn’t honestly trying to make a mockery of a real life marriage, plus it eased us into an easy feud. I don’t believe either of these men belong on the preshow, but let’s hope they give us a good match.
F2H Prediction: Rusev
Rich Swann (c) vs T.J. Perkins vs Brian Kendrick – Triple Threat Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
The Cruiserweight Division is still struggling to find its place on Raw, and it doesn’t help that they now have their own show after Smackdown on the Network; that’s just too much wrestling to pack into one night. T.J. Perkins was a great pick as our inaugural champion and had a good run before losing the title to Brian Kendrick. Our resident pirate then lost his title on 205 Live, exclusively on the Network, to Rich Swann. Swann is an incredibly charismatic guy and a fantastic wrestler, so he will bring a lot of prestige and interest to the Cruiserweight division.
F2H Prediction: Rich Swann
Seth Rollins vs Chris Jericho – Singles Match
Kevin Owens saved Jericho from a Pedigree on the go home episode of Raw, so the friendship is back on… I think? Rocky, but they definitely will have each other’s backs. This doesn’t sit well for Rollins, who has been trying his best to get back on top of the Raw brand where he belongs. Rollins wants Owens’ title, but Jericho has been blocking him at every turn, so now they have their own issues to squash before Rollins can move on. If Owens interferes, I want it to happen after we get a clean win. Owens can beat the hell out of Rollins if he wants, but not until the bell has rung.
F2H Prediction: Seth Rollins
The New Day (c) vs Sheamus & Cesaro – Tag Team Match for the Raw Tag Team Titles
At the WWE Tribute To The Troops, Cesaro and Sheamus won a Fatal 4 Way match, beating Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, The Shining Stars, and The Golden Truth to earn a chance to challenge New Day for their titles. The New Day are now the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history, which is huge. At this point, their titles are fair game. They broke the record, made history, and can now give up the titles without really losing. Cesaro and Sheamus are such an odd couple, but they are both fantastic athletes and ended up teaming well together, eventually. It’ll be interesting to see if they are able to keep it together and capture those titles.
F2H Prediction: New Day
Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman – Singles Match with a 10 Minute Time Limit
Braun Strowman has been crushing everybody in his path, but he did manage to make time to make James Ellsworth famous and get him a WWE contract, so he’s not all bad. Mick Foley has stopped matches between these two because Zayn is so outgunned, which is where the time limit comes into play. Granted, Strowman can probably end the match in 60 seconds, so perhaps 10 minutes is being a bit generous. Zayn is a great competitor, but I feel that WWE is still working on building Strowman into an unstoppable monster, and he needs to keep that going for a little while longer.
F2H Prediction: Braun Strowman
Sasha Banks (c) vs Charlotte – 30 Minute Iron Man Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
These women are just taking it to the extreme more and more, and it’s going to get to the point that someone gets seriously injured if they aren’t careful. I’m glad they keep trying to top themselves, but I’m more worried about their health and possible long absences due to injury (miss you, Finn Balor). Their cage match left a lot to be desired, thanks to a drawn out “injury” that nearly kept Banks from competing, but they made up for it during their next match where Banks tangled Charlotte in the stadium railing to lock in the Banks Statement and force a tap. We’ve already seen Banks compete in an Iron Man match on NXT, so I’m expecting main event material here.
F2H Prediction: Sasha Banks
Kevin Owens (c) vs Roman Reigns – Singles Match for the WWE Universal Championship
I’m so annoyed with this match. I hate it. Why does Roman Reigns, a guy already holding a title, get a title match on this PPV? I hate it. Have I mentioned that I’m not too fond of this main event? I hope Chris Jericho interferes in every shady way possible without causing a disqualification. I hope Owens beats his ass into the mat, and then powerbombs him into the apron a few dozen times. I hope Reigns can’t walk by the end of this match. Listen, I used to be a fan of Reigns, believe it or not. I just can’t buy into this fist-cocking, show-boating nonsense he insists on doing. I don’t want another John Cena. Give me quiet, brooding Roman Reigns back and I’ll be on board.
F2H Prediction: Kevin Owens
Roadblock: End Of The Line will begin at 8pm EST, with the preshow starting at 7pm, exclusively on the WWE Network. Unfortunately for fans, Lita will not be present, as new reports have stated that she has left the company. Jerry Lawler has also been removed from on air events. Live tweet with @FaceToHeel and writers @MrNotWell and @OhhhTweener, and be on the lookout for our next giveaway!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
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
This year’s Battleground pay-per-view comes from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Pre-show kicks off with Renee Young, Booker T, Corey Graves, and alleged fiance-beater Jerry Lawler. As soon as they start discussing the show, Lawler and Graves insult and all but bury Enzo and Big Cass, while Booker T laughs. This shit really pisses me off. WWE always finds little ways to tear down any NXT talent that moves up to the main roster. They did it for months with Kevin Owens about his weight. There is absolutely no reason to tear down Enzo and Cass what-so-ever. It’s just petty and helps solidify the belief by many that NXT is better than the main roster. This was the opening segment and it was totally unprofessional. But what do you expect from a guy that wears t-shirts to work and another that has neck tattoos?
Cesaro joins the panel at 7:30 to discuss the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn match later in the evening. Cesaro stumbles through his words and provides nothing of value to the conversation. Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley join Tom Phillips in the social media lounge. It took forty minutes but the preshow finally gets good. Bryan and Foley field questions from Twitter and really do a great job discussing their future plans for both Raw and Smackdown. When asked what Hall of Famers they would draft to their respective shows, Foley says Terry Funk and Bryan says his mentor, The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.
The preshow match is The Usos vs Breezango, commentated by Mauro Ranallo and Byron Saxton. Oh brother. Huge pop for Tyler Breeze that turns into a chorus of boo’s as Fandango comes out. Luckily, for both teams, the arena is pretty full 13 minutes before the show begins so they have a solid audience. Crowd boo’s Jimmy Uso after he hits Samoan Drops on both Breeze and Fandango. The action is pretty steady throughout, but this really doesn’t add anything to the show or upcoming new brand split which will officially start tomorrow. Samoan Splash attempt off the top rope, but Breeze gets his knees up and covers for the pinfall. Breezango wins. Okay match.
Show kicks off with JBL, Michael Cole, and Byron Saxton on commentary. In a strange twist, the show kicks off with a women’s match. That’s a nice way to shake things up. Current Women’s Champion, Charlotte, comes down with Dana Brooke. Sasha Banks comes down. We are all waiting on her surprise tag team partner. She gets in the ring and just stands there. Why didn’t they have her get on the mic and introduce the person? Anyway, it’s Bayley and the crowd goes apeshit. That’s how you do a debut! Yes! So happy for her. Crowd eats it up and Bayley can’t help but smile. Sasha and Bayley high five and embrace. Charlotte and Dana attack them from behind and knock them out of the ring.
Back in the ring, Charlotte and Dana double team Bayley. The bell finally rings and Charlotte goes after Bayley. Sasha gets the tag and knocks Dana off the apron but gets her head slammed into the turnbuckle by Charlotte. Great couple minutes of action with the crowd actively into this one. Sasha and Charlotte end up in the ring. Charlotte tries a submission but Sasha reverses it into a Bank Statement. Dana drags Charlotte out. Bayley takes down Dana. Charlotte takes down Bayley. Back stabber into a Bank Statement when Charlotte rolls back inside the ring. Charlotte taps out! Crowd goes wild. After the match, Bayley and Sasha hug it out. Great opening to the show. Now we can all ride the high into the rest of the broadcast. The real question is, is this an official call-up to the main roster or a one time deal? With that reaction, Vince has to be smelling money. One thing’s for sure, the real women’s revolution just started tonight.
The New Day comes down. Now the currently longest reigning tag team champions in history. The Wyatt Family comes to the ring amidst fireflies. Xavier Woods and Bray Wyatt start the match. Xavier stands there, terrified. Kofi tags him and jumps into the ring. Braun Strowman gets the tag and he plants Kofi with a big kick. The Wyatt’s spend a long amount of time making the crowd oh and ah with some pretty vicious attacks. Big E finally gets New Day back on track with a belly to belly suplex and a splash on Erick Rowan. Crowd starts chanting New Day Rocks. Bray Wyatt attempts a Sister Abigail on Kofi, Xavier breaks it up and stares down Bray. Bray takes down Kofi and Xavier screams and attacks Bray. Top turnbuckle, steps to the side and splashes off the top rope onto Bray. Rowan and Straun try to get in and they are taken out by Xavier and a Big E spear through the middle rope. Sister Abigail by Bray Wyatt and Xavier eats the pin. Really strong match. The Wyatt Family wins and both teams looked solid throughout. This may be the best outing we’ve seen from Bray Wyatt in quite some time.
Lana comes out and introduces Rusev, set to defend his United States Championship against Zack Ryder. Mr. Woo-Woo-Woo comes out wearing an American jacket, which is annoying. Every angle against Rusev doesn’t need to be USA vs Russia. He’s not even from Russia. Rusev starts the match dominating Zack Ryder. Rusev attempts a suplex and Ryder reverses it into a neckbreaker. Rusev rolls out to catch his breath. He then slow-spears Ryder into the barricade. Then drops him over it near the ramp. Ryder leaps up onto the barricade and dropkicks Rusev to the ground. Ref is on six of the ten count. Ryder back in, Rusev follows. Ryder lands the Rough Ryder finisher. He climbs the top rope and tries an elbow drop, but hits Rusev’s knees. Rusev kicks him to the mat, stomps his back and locks in the Accolade. Ryder tries to break free and Rusev drops back, locking it in deeper. Ryder has no choice but to tap. Rusev retains. After the match Rusev keeps stomping Ryder in the stomach. Hype Bros music hits and Mofo Rawley runs in. Mojo screams in Rusev’s face, who looks back confused. He slowly backs out of the ring and collects his belt. Mojo continues screaming inside the ring and Rusev replies in Russian. Mojo helps Ryder to his feet and Rusev goes back to his hotel room to bang his super hot fiance.
Backstage moment with Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, and Seth Rollins. Weird segment, Rollins comes across as way too hyper. He says tonight will be so big for him that 9 months from now, there will be a bunch of babies born named “Rollins.” Okay. Sure.
The Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn rivalry is up next. A lot of people around the interweb have been complaining about this one, saying the feud has run on too long and they are sick of seeing it. I call those people half-hearted wrestling fans. How can you ever get sick of these two? They are money on the mic and they are easily at the top of their field on the roster in the ring. Their new shirt Fight Forever is a bullseye. Sami Zayn comes out first. Zayn tries a kick early, but Owens rolls out of the ring. Zayn joins him and the two trade punches until Owens throws his best friend into the barricade. Zayn whips him into the timekeeper’s area. Zayn floors Owens with a clothesline. Owens spends the whole match mocking the crowd’s chants. He is such a fantastic heel. Crowd split right down the middle throughout. Biggest moment of the match is Zayn hitting a brainbuster on the apron, dropping Owens right on his head. Both men down as the ref calls a ten count. Zayn gets in at seven. Owens narrowly makes it at nine. The two just lay, gasping in the middle of the ring. Zayn stands and starts punching Owens. Owens fights back. The two trade punches as the crowd starts a dual chant for both. Tornado DDT off the top rope for Zayn. Super kick by Owens. Near fall but Owens kicks out. Crowd on the edge of their seats. Best match of the night so far and there really hasn’t been any terrible ones. Popup powerbomb out of the corner. Owens goes to cover and Zayn gets his foot on the bottom rope! Goodness! Helluva Kick in the corner from Zayn after a couple suplexes. He hits another Helluva Kick and pins Owens clean. What a great, great match. Might be a contender for match of the year and easily the best match of the night thus far. Two thumbs up. Giving that one four out of five stars. Not a bad moment throughout.
Natalya comes down to the ring followed by her opponent, Becky Lynch. Becky gains the upperhand early. Feel bad for these ladies. Both are really great workers, but it is all but impossible to follow Zayn/Owens. Crowd seems deflated throughout. The story here just isn’t as strong as lifelong friends going to war. Nattie does a great job selling during the match. Becky hits her with some sharp slaps. Natalya locks in the Sharpshooter as Becky tries to reach the ropes. Natalya drags her back to the middle of the ring. Becky taps out. Classic matchup, good wrestling. Just hard to follow the previous match. Another good match from the women’s division tonight.
Backstage segment with Daniel Bryan, Shane McMahon, and Dean Ambrose. This one comes across way better than the earlier Rollins segment. Bryan really sells Ambrose and makes the crowd cheer. Good promo. Bob Backlund brings out Darren Young to take on The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Been dreading this match all night. I really have nothing invested in it at all. The Miz and Maryse walk out wearing masquerade masks. This match is about as standard as they come, doing nothing to elevate the IC title. It’s sad we went from Kevin Owens to Zack Ryder to this. A Miz/Darren Young program is about as unseasoned meat and potatoes as you can get. And having Maryse and Backlund ringside is awful. They have the personality equivalent of drying paint hanging out with a pile of raked leaves. This is the low point of the evening by far. At one point, Backlund tears his shirt off and we all go blind. Darren Young gets disqualified outside the ring and the match is over. Good riddance. This one was absolutely pointless.
John Cena enters. Enzo Amore and Big Cass come down, huge pop. Enzo really works the mic tonight, lots of laughs and gets the whole crowd fired up. He makes Cena laugh several times. The Club comes down with Styles. Enzo and Anderson start, but Enzo wants Styles and Anderson tags him in. Fun back and forth from both teams. Enzo does a nice job of playing the underdog throughout, getting beat down and giving his teammates hot tags. Styles takes the five moves of doom and the Five Knuckle Shuffle from Cena. Styles reverses the Attitude Adjustment and kicks Cena down. Cena lands an AA, but Anderson drags him out before he can get the three count on Styles. Outside everybody fights around the announce table. “Holy shit!” chant from the crowd. Just a flurry of exciting action between all six guys. Well done. Ten count starts as Styles is the only man in the ring. At nine, Cena manages to roll in. Styles Clash on Cena. Cover, but Big Cass drags Styles out at two and kicks him right in the face. Anderson and Gallows hit Magic Killer in the ring on Cass. Crowd boos. Enzo rolls into the ring and takes them both on. He tosses Anderson out and squares up to Gallows. Enzo off the ropes, takes a kick to the face. Cena back in the ring. Gallows sizes him up, runs at him but misses. Styles top rope. Cena hits the rope and drops Styles, then spills Gallows out of the ring. Cena lands an AA off the top rope and pins Styles for the win. Not crazy about the ending, but I like that it took basically a super AA to beat Styles. And Enzo and Cass needed a win. Not the greatest match, but definitely fun and got everyone watching drawn into it. Nice job by all six guys.
Chris Jericho comes out for The Highlight Reel. This seems like a total waste of time on a pay-per-view. The only positive is that Randy Orton is his guest. The Viper comes down and doesn’t pose which is weird. He immediately thanks the crowd and insults Y2J. Crowd starts an R-K-O! chant. This segment has a couple of laughs, but it runs long. It’s almost 10:35 and we haven’t had the main event yet. Looks like Battleground is running over. Jericho shows a Brock Lesnar highlight reel, which helps pick the segment up. Orton takes a huge shot at Lesnar about the doping scandal from UFC. Wow. And that’s how you set up a feud at SummerSlam! RKO out of nowhere drops Jericho. He gets on the corner and poses. Great comeback. Orton leaves the ring at 10:43.
Time for our main event. Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon come down to represent Monday Night Raw. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon come down to support Smackdown. Huge YES! chant from Bryan, which seems like a selfish thing for him to do. He needs to stop hijacking the crowd everytime he comes out. Seth Rollins enters first, huge pop from the audience. Reigns enters and takes several rounds of boo’s from the crowd. The champ enters and Shane gets excited. Reigns and Ambrose double team Rollins at the start and then Ambrose tries a sneaky rollup on Reigns. Kick out at two. Everytime Reigns tries a move, the crowd boo’s him. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds but Reigns blocks and punches him. The start of the match is kind of slow, as Rollins spends most of it outside the ring and we watch Reigns and Ambrose try their best to do something.
Outside the ring, Rollins throws Ambrose into the steps. Reigns tosses him into the time keeper area. Ambrose runs across the announce tables and takes them both down. Keep in mind this is a triple threat match, so no DQ or countouts. Back in the ring Ambrose drops an elbow from the top rope on Reigns. Rollins hits Ambrose with a frogsplash and covers him. Kick out at two. All three men in the ring. Superman Punch on both Rollins and Ambrose. Crowd is vocal about their hatred towards Reigns. Ambrose clotheslines Reigns and both of his opponents and himself are down on the mat. All three recover and start trading punches. Ambrose and Rollins gang up on Reigns and the crowd goes wild! Another YES! chant. Ambrose lifts Reigns to give Rollins a chance to powerbomb Reigns, but he kicks Rollins away. Reigns is outside the ring, Ambrose jumps at him, Rollins flips out on top of him. Both Smackdown and Raw rosters are shown cheering the match in the back. Ambrose clears the announce table and he lifts Reigns on Rollins. Huge powerbomb through the table. Crowd erupts. Nice spot.
Rollins sneaks up behind Ambrose with a chair and clobbers him. Then he attacks Reigns on the ground. Rollins throws Ambrose in the ring and tries for a Pedigree. Counter by Ambrose. Superplex by Rollins off the top rope. Ambrose kicks out at two. Reigns powerbombs both men and pins Rollins, but he narrowly kicks out at two. Reigns Superman Punches Ambrose out of the ring. Rollins spins him around and lands a Pedigree. Near fall on Reigns, but he barely gets his shoulder up. Reigns spears Rollins, goes to cover, but Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds. He covers Reigns and the ref counts one, two, three. Dean Ambrose is taking the title to Smackdown Live. Interesting choice by WWE. Guess they have confidence in The Lunatic Fringe. This was a fun match to watch. I am happy with any outcome that isn’t Roman Reigns being the world champ. Clean finish and a nice match for all three men. The action really picked up and the pace towards the end was smooth. Afterward, the Smackdown roster comes out to congratulate Ambrose. Of course Cena leads the charge and hugs Ambrose. The Usos lift him up on their shoulders and Ambrose raises the title above his head as we fade out.
Overall, I am fairly pleased with this pay-per-view. What I thought was going to be just a blowoff show running out the clock until SummerSlam, actually turned out to be a fun watch. Most of the matches were good and the crowd in D.C. was really great, keeping the energy up the whole night. With several high spots and very few low points, this should be considered a successful broadcast for WWE Network. Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live should be very interesting this week.
What did you all think of tonight’s show? Let us know in the comments below. Also, please be sure to check out our friends over at
King of the Mountain podcast. Subscribe and like them on iTunes to help their show. Join Face To Heel tomorrow night as we live tweet Monday Night Raw and my cohort, Mrs Jamie Baker, gives a full breakdown and provides feedback for the episode.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After responding to a hang-up 911 call, WWE commentator, and 66-year-old cradle robber, Jerry “The King” Lawler and his girlfriend, 27-year-old Lauryn McBride, were both arrested early in the morning on June 17, 2016 by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Memphis, Tennessee. The report states that Lawler’s claim was that McBride scratched him in the face, threw a candle at him, and kicked him in the groin. McBride claims that Lawler struck her in the head, shoved her against the stove, and then grabbed a gun, which he put on the kitchen counter and announced that McBride should kill herself. Lawler argues that it was McBride who retrieved the gun, not him, and that she was drunk. Both were booked for domestic assault causing bodily harm.
Lawler claims that the argument started when McBride refused to tell the truth about her whereabouts. He also stated that he was trying to keep her from driving since she was intoxicated. He told Fox News that “it will all come out that it was just basically a misunderstanding that got out of hand.” He also commented that he was able to brighten up the day for others incarcerated in the jail, and that he and McBride are still a couple and still engaged. Once WWE learned of the arrest, they issued the following statement: “WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, and per our policy, Jerry Lawler has been suspended indefinitely following his arrest.” Lawler stated to Fox News that he hopes the suspension will be lifted “when they realize and when the whole story comes out, things will be okay.”
The first time I personally learned of Lawler’s relationship with McBride was during the 2016 WWE Hall Of Fame Ceremony when I mistook her for his daughter, and mistook her son for his grandson. I understand the ‘age is just a number’ argument, but perhaps in this case, it is much more. I am older than McBride by eight years and cannot imagine what I could possibly have in common with a 66-year-old that would make for a healthy and happy relationship. One or both parties in this situation are being untruthful about the events that took place prior to the 911 hang-up call, and perhaps we will find out the truth on June 20th when the two are able to see a judge. If it is determined that Lawler was the aggressor, verbally and/or physically, I find it hard to have any sympathy for him if the WWE decides to uphold the suspension and the color commentator finds himself out of work. For the time being, both Lawler and McBride should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
WWE’s post-mania PPV is tonight, May 1st, in Rosemont, IL, and I’m enjoying a glass of wine and juicy steak while I get excited about the line up for the evening. We have Renee Young, Corey Graves, Booker T, and Jerry Lawler on the preshow, which makes me wonder if Lawler will be replaced by someone else on the main event commentary.
Our preshow kickoff starts with Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler. Moving this to the kickoff seems to be a poor choice, especially considering the huge pops both men received as they walked out to the arena. Corbin comes out strong and dominant, but Ziggler’s energy is high and he manages to eventually get Corbin to a knee with a sleeper hold. The action moves outside of the ring, where Corbin dominates and throws Ziggler into the steel post. As Corbin is arguing with the ref and maintaining dominance over a comatose Ziggler, Dolph suddenly comes back to life and scores a victory with a quick roll up. Normally, I don’t like these type of endings, but this was a shocker and was also Corbin’s first lost on the main roster. No doubt we will see Corbin back for revenge later on.
Next up we have a great video package for the Zayn vs Owens match that leads into a Q&A with Sami Zayn. It’s clear that if you want your tweet to be on TV, you have to have a very WWE-themed twitter handle and ask a very easy question. Zayn is doing great answering the questions, but the interviewer is pretty flat.
Up now, we have the US Title Match between reigning champion Kalisto and challenger Ryback. Once again, these two are competing on the preshow kickoff. As a diehard Ryback fan, I’m annoyed. Ryback comes out to some loud boos, which get louder when he starts to mock CM Punk’s entrance. It was brilliant. Push Ryback forever. Ryback comes out strong and dominant, ignoring the taunts from the crowd as he throws Kalisto around the ring. Kalisto manages to get the Big Guy to the floor outside of the ring, but Ryback gets control of the match back right before we go to a commercial. He’s the perfect heel, and I just noticed that his belt says “The Preshow Stopper.” Ryback is gold. Ryback goes up to the top rope, but Kalisto ruins it with a well timed kick. Ryback gets control back quick and goes back to the top rope, but misses wildly, allowing Kalisto to regain control and pick up the win. I am very unhappy.
Moving on to the main show, we start things off with The New Day, who are out to watch the Tag Team match to see who qualifies for a shot at their titles. I hated New Day when they debuted and now I can’t get enough. As New Day settle in with some snacks, Enzo and Cass come out to the arena. Enzo drops his mic and makes a show of running around to retrieve it as my husband and I yell along to his intro. The Vaudevillains are heavily booed; there is no question who the favorites are in this match. Enzo and Gotch start things off with a very acrobatic display, and I just noticed the poop emoji on Enzo’s ass, which is the greatest accessory of the night so far. Enzo gets taken down after an ugly hit to the head, and the ref throws up an X, signaling the ringside doctor. A stretcher is brought out and the match is called, which is quite possibly the worst thing that could have happened. My heart goes out to Enzo; I hope he’s all right. But the show must go on…
We move into a video package for the Owens vs Zayn match, and Owens is the first to the ring to a lukewarm response as the crowd tries to move on from Enzo’s injury. These men are now also tasked with getting the crowd back into this event, and I don’t envy them this job. I’m about to go get some vodka to numb the pain while Zayn throws Owens outside the ring and gets aggressive. Owens quickly regains control and throws Zayn into the steel steps as we get an update that Enzo is being taken to a local hospital and is able to talk and move his arms. Owens seems pretty cocky at this point, nearly getting a pinfall victory and talking trash to the announce team. We’re getting a lot of near falls in this high energy match; it’s incredibly tense. The crowd is definitely back into it now. The action moves to the apron and Zayn is able to throw Owens onto the lip, sending him out of the ring and diving through the bottom rope to take Owens down with a DDT. Owens is able to counter once they return to the ring, using a pop-up powerbomb to win the match. Owens throws Zayn out of the ring and forces Byron Saxton into the ring so he can force an interview and proclaim that he has finally beat Zayn and proved that he is the better man. He has announced his plan to win back “his” IC Title and then invites himself to the commentary table for the title match up next.
The Miz will now defend his title against Cesaro, who returned from injury stronger than ever and with an interesting take on a 007 gimmick. The Miz gets the red carpet treatment as he walks out with wife Maryse, who looks like a circus ringmaster. Cesaro comes out to a strong showing from fans with Cesaro Section signs. The Miz is getting destroyed thus far as his wife screams encouragement and Owens screams insults. Of course, Maryse gets involved to allow Miz to regain control. The most entertaining part of this match so far is Owens on commentary, but it’s difficult to follow Owens vs Zayn. Cesaro is pulled into a submission, but is able to turn it into a suplex and break free. Cesaro pins Miz a couple times for a near fall, but Miz is able to break free. Cesaro tries to get Miz up for the Swing, Miz counters, but Cesaro is still able to get the pin that is broken up when Miz gets his foot on the bottom rope. Out of NOWHERE, Zayn runs out to the ring and attacks Owens! In the ring, Cesaro hits the Swing for a dizzying 20 rotations, and then gets him in a crossface submission. Miz TAPS, but because Zayn and Owens begin fighting on the apron, the ref is distracted and Miz is able to steal the win via quick rollup. Owens is the only one left standing tall at the end of this mess, with the IC Title in hand. The IC Title suddenly means everything.
Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose is up next. Ambrose says everything I secretly think about Jericho, only out loud, and I love it. This feud is a lot like the Jericho vs Punk feud on Jericho’s side as he keeps repeating “I’m the best in the world at what I do.” My husband pointed out that this match could have used a stipulation, and I clouldn’t agree more. Ambrose is best when you give him accessories. A “Y2Jackass” chant starts. Jericho looks tired, and if I’m being honest, even Ambrose seems to be holding back and is less enthusiastic than normal. Jericho locks in the Walls, but Ambrose is able to drag him from the center of the ring over to the ropes to force a break. The two move outside of the ring; Jericho’s face is bleeding and Ambrose is destroying the German announce table. Jericho is able to gently toss Ambrose into the timekeeper area and get back into the ring. This match has definitely picked it up from a slow start. We’re getting a lot of near falls now, and the crowd is hyped up. Ambrose tries for Dirty Deeds but Jericho counters and locks in the Walls again. Ambrose counters and gets the pin but Jericho kicks free. More near falls, and my kid is losing his mind. Ambrose finally hits Dirty Deeds and gets the win. Jericho leaves the ring to go attack paperwork and throw a fit.
Mauro Ranallo conducts a brief interview with AJ Styles backstage before we move on to the Women’s Title Match. It feels so good to say “Women’s” instead of “Divas.” The champion is out first, followed by Natalya and Bret Hart. I hope that Bret and Ric are able to keep to themselves and let both women have an honest one-on-one match. The crowd is behind Natalya and so am I. The Network drops for the first time tonight, which is likely the fault of the storms we’re having in Indiana. Hopefully the weather doesn’t kill this PPV for us, because it’s been a great one so far. A “We Want Sasha” chant breaks out, and I get it; I was hoping The Boss would be champ at this point. Charlotte throws Natalya violently into the ropes and tries to go to the top rope, but is knocked off by Natalya. The action moves to outside the ring; the women get a bit sloppy, but are really holding their own thus far. Natalya is favoring her left leg but isn’t giving up. Charlotte is showboating and delivers a beautiful moonsault off the top rope to pin Natalya, who kicks free. Charlotte locks in a figure four and the match is called even though Natalya doesn’t tap out. In retaliation, the Harts lock Ric and Charlotte into figure fours to come out on top, but the fact remains that Charlotte won the match dishonestly once again.
Vince McMahon comes out to the ring now, strutting confidently as we await his decision on Stephanie and Shane. The crowd responds with a CM PUNK chant, but quiets down as Vince begins talking about the success of Monday Night Raw. Nevermind, they just got even louder with it. We will chant for Punk in Chicago forever. Vince invites Stephanie McMahon to the ring next. The crowd is booing so loud, I can barely hear what she is saying. She proclaims that the Network has hit 1.8 million subscribers as she showers herself with compliments and insults her brother. Shane has had enough and comes out to the ring doing his best White Boy dance. A deafening “Shane-O-Mac” chant rings through the arena, but Steph breaks it up by calling it pandering. Shane shows the crowd headline after headline that shows how great Raw has been since he was able to take charge. He continues to tear down his sister by accusing her of poisoning the company alongside Triple H. The crowd clearly supports Shane, but Steph insists that popularity isn’t what runs a business. Vince announces that he wants his children to either disembowel each other or learn to work together, because they both will be running Raw. What?
We return to the preshow announce team briefly to recap the night’s events thus far. Up next, our main event; reigning champion Roman Reigns vs newcomer AJ Styles. A video package plays to show the build to this championship match and highlights the recent attacks from new signees Gallows and Anderson. The big question of the night is who is going to interfere in this match. We have The Wyatt Family on the Payback poster, and we also have the rumors of Finn Balor’s debut. Excited to see what will happen.
After an update on Enzo’s condition (concussion, all other tests negative), Styles and Reigns enter the ring. Reigns gets booed heavily, and no, Lawler, we’re not booing because we like to do it. A “Roman Sucks” chant rings through the arena as the match starts, followed by a loud “AJ Styles” chant. We’ve never been behind Reigns as champ, and the majority of fans are pulling for Styles to win tonight. A “You Can’t Wrestle” chant follows. I don’t know how much clearer it can be that Reigns is the wrong guy to be the face of this company. Styles forces Reigns out of the ring to get his bearings, and he takes his sweet time getting back into the match. Meanwhile, WWE tweets out an update; Enzo has been discharged from the hospital and is hopefully heading home to rest. His injury has cast a shadow over this PPV, but all the credit goes to the competitors; they have brought their A-Game and kept the crowd from getting down about the injury.
The announce team again discusses Styles’ career, pointing out that he hasn’t “made it” until he earns the WWE title, which he hopes to do tonight. Reigns takes control of the match, showcasing his strength and throwing Styles around like a rag doll. This is a good showing from Reigns so far; he isn’t resorting to fist-cocking (yet). It’s only10:35pm, so a hell of a lot can happen before we crown our champion. Of course, as soon as I type it, Reigns cocks his damn fist. He tries for a Superman punch, but Styles counters with a kick to the head and puts the champ down. Styles is showing his experience and not holding anything back; he has an answer for everything Reigns is throwing at him. Styles is able to lock Reigns in a submission, but Reigns quickly gets to the ropes for the break. Styles jumps off the top rope to deliver a Phenomenal Forearm that crushes Reigns and the announce table. Styles makes it back to the ring and wins the match via count out. What a letdown the title won’t change hands and this was a lazy way to end it. That said, it’s only 10:42pm, and Shane’s music just hit!
Shane restarts the match and declares that there will be no count outs, so the match continues! Styles is looking for a way to put the champ down for good, delivering a 450, but Reigns puts his knees up and goes for a pin. Both men go down after Reigns hits Styles with a low blow and gets disqualified, so Styles is called as the winner via DQ. Again, no title change. My husband called this; Steph’s music hits and she restarts the match with no disqualifications. The match will not end until we have a clear winner! Reigns violently knocks Styles out of the ring and throws him over the barricade and into the crowd. Reigns is all business at this point as he looks to put his challenger down, but Styles is able to counter and throw Reigns into the announce table. Reigns isn’t down for long; he delivers two Superman punches and starts with his showboaty nonsense. As he’s pandering to the crowd, Gallows and Anderson intervene and take Reigns down. Styles is struggling to get to his feet, but he manages to get back up and pin Reigns for the win; unfortunately Reigns is able to get his foot on the rope to stop the count. The Usos run out to the ring to attack Gallows and Anderson to even the odds, and Reigns steps in and throws Styles into the four brawling men outside of the ring. There is so much going on! Reigns jumps out of the ring to land on all 5 men, Styles quickly counters to get Reigns back into the ring so he can get a clean win. Reigns hit a spear and wins with a lazy cover, and the crowd goes mild. Great match, but not my ideal ending.
Overall, this was an amazing PPV. For me, this topped WrestleMania. As Reigns is celebrating, we cut backstage to see the McMahons discussing Shane and Steph’s decisions regarding this main event. We’re also getting previews of what will come on Raw and what the plans will be for Extreme Rules in three weeks. It’s already been decided that Styles will have a rematch with Reigns at Extreme Rules, and I am excited to see what will happen next. For once, I have no complaints about anything that transpired tonight, except for Enzo’s untimely injury. See you all tomorrow night for Raw with Co-GM’s!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
The Mtn Dew Kickstart WrestleMania 32 Kickoff Show started promptly at 5PM on the WWE Network. Renee Young, and Hall of Famers Booker T and Lita led the charge with Corey Graves hanging around outside among the lines as the crowd files into the arena.
Kevin Owens is interviewed by JoJo backstage. He says he deserves a high profile match but he didn’t ask for all these opponents. He says just a few weeks ago, Zack Ryder was buying tickets to attend the show and now he gets to be in it. Owens slanders all his opponents. Later, Paul Heyman is interviewed with his usual spiel. Brock Lesnar is going to take Ambrose to Suplex City, hold him down, and pin him. Heyman gets some simple questions from the interview team and laughs in their faces.
Ringside Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler, and the amazing Mauro Ranallo get set to do the commentary for Kalisto against Ryback, with the United States Championship on the line. Ryback comes out getting booed by the thin crowd. People are still filing into AT&T Stadium. Most of the seats ringside are full though, so that’s good. Goldberg chants start early. Ryback gets off to a quick start, slamming the littler Kalisto to the mat. Not much offense in the first minutes for Kalisto. He takes a beating. Network goes to a commercial. When we return, it’s more of the same. It looks like a cat playing with a wounded mouse. Ryback tries a suplex off the top rope and Kalisto reverses it into a cover. Ryback kicks out at two and then clobbers Kalisto. The Lucha Dragon comes alive with a DDT. A few moments later, Kalisto hits a Salida del Sol and pins Ryback cleanly in the ring.
For hour two, we switch over to the USA Network. Corey Graves joins the preshow table. Ten woman Divas tag match up next featuring Total Divas vs Team BAD and BLONDE. Eva Marie, Alicia Fox, Natalya, Paige, Brie Bella, Lana, Summer Rae, Naomi, Emma, and Tamina are all competitors. Nothing much matters throughout this match. That is until Lana gets tagged in. She takes down Paige and looks dominant with a vicious kick, and then tags out. Brie Bella of course capitalizes off her husband with his kicks and wins via submission with the YES! Lock. The Bellas have nothing to offer and it shows here. Brie has never done anything but piggy back off Daniel Bryan. The balls of Creative to give Eva Marie a WrestleMania victory. The ones who can actually wrestle did good in this one. But a big throwaway match worth nothing, not even bragging rights.
Lita is down in the middle of the ring addressing the crowd. She discusses the female wrestlers that came before her and how no one could ever tell them no. They could never be stopped. And a big surprise for Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch, Lita says the winner of the triple threat Divas championship match will win a new fancy WWE Women’s Championship!
Absolutely beautiful. Could not be more excited for this. It’s time for WWE to take the women’s division seriously. Thank you to Triple H for leading us to this moment with his NXT ladies. Next up is The Usos versus The Dudley Boyz. I can’t stop thinking about that talent, though. This one starts off with all four guys brawling. Bubba Ray is fired up, yelling throughout. A few super kicks later, and The Usos win. Short match with nothing much to offer. Afterwards, The Dudleys attack The Usos and then get two tables from under the ring. But The Usos again super kick The Dudleys and then place them on the tables. Double splash through the tables. Crowd boos this booking and I can’t blame them. Not a good outing for the preshow.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Friday night, NXT took over Dallas, TX. It was an epic night featuring Shinsuke Nakamura’s debut, a bloody match between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor, and an NXT Women’s Championship title change. During the preshow of NXT Takeover, Mauro Ranallo joined Renee Young and Lita to discuss the upcoming program and the superstars involved.
While this was going on, a friend of mine on Twitter commented that it was a disappointment that Mauro wouldn’t be doing commentary for the actual show. We both received a tweet reply from someone saying Mauro’s commentary “sounds fake and forced.” This instantly pissed me off because I know who and what Mauro Ranallo is and to say something so ignorant is a great example of someone talking about a topic they knew nothing about. I wanted to pen this article in defense of Mauro.
Mauro Ranallo is not fake, or forced, or anything short of amazing. He has done commentary for football, hockey, combat sports including wrestling, boxing, mixed martial arts, and kickboxing. He has worked for Showtime, PFC, NJPW, and most recently signing with WWE. He’s been working since the age of 16. It’s not a job for him, it’s a lifestyle.
Mauro Ranallo slid into Smackdown commentary and outshined everyone else across the board. He knows wrestling. He knows all the moves and their real names. He does his research. He knows the talent. There are no half measures for Mauro. The reason it seems like he is trying too hard on commentary is because everyone else around him is sitting at the kids’ table and he’s a living encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge.
Jerry Lawler is a pun fueled hack that was carried through The Attitude Era by Jim Ross and has been carried through the PG Era because the fans love him. Michael Cole oversells and is mostly hated by everyone. JBL is great, but he often gets caught up in a match and will go lengths of time without speaking because he’s just enjoying being a fan. Renee Young and Corey Graves with NXT do an okay job, but they are often hesitant and have brain stutters. And don’t even get me started on the sinking hole that is Byron Saxton.
When it comes to hall of fame quality commentators, there’s only two in my mind. Jim Ross and Mauro Ranallo. As WWE fans, we’ve been so used to watered down commentary since JR left that we forgot what a real play-by-play is like. The product got dumb downed for years and when someone comes along to elevate it, we react with fear and ignorance. But mark my words, Mauro is destined to reach the Raw commentary team and live pay-per-views. He is a quality caliber player. So don’t come onto my Twitter timeline talking shit about someone with years of experience under his belt who quite frankly knows exactly what he’s doing. This isn’t amateur hour. Mauro is the epitome of professionalism.
Hopefully we see Mauro Ranallo calling some shots tonight and adding his expertise to the six hours of WrestleMania. He probably won’t make the main show, but we may see him during the preshow. One things for sure: the sooner he moves up in the ranks, the better for WWE, their commentary, and the wrestlers.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
It’s a star studded evening for WWE. My wife and I just finished watching the WWE Hall of Fame red carpet event on the WWE Network. It was a little awkward as they had some new announce girl that was terrible at her job. One thing we took away from the red carpet is we’re both geeked out for Randy Orton to return. But enough about that, let’s review the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Jerry “The King” Lawler hosts and therefore starts the show. Jerry actually cleans up well, but if you watch the red carpet before he looks like he robbed a cradle for his fiance. Jerry introduces a tribute package for The Godfather, Charles Wright. Lawler brings out the first presenters, The APA, JBL and Ron Simmons. They both take jabs at Godfather, alluding to the fact that Wright never played a character, he was actually just a watered down version of his real life self. JBL gets everybody laughing in the crowd. The Godfather struts out along with some lovely ladies. Wright looks good, having lost some weight. He looks younger than ever. He gives a brief speech and tells the young wrestlers to enjoy their time because they’ll never get it back.
Stan Hansen is inducted next by Vader! So cool. He comes out looking big and bad, without his mask. Crowd gives him a standing ovation. Vader gives a very well-spoken speech about the man, partner, and mentor Stan Hansen was. Hansen comes out and thanks JBL for keeping his name relevant over the years by bringing him up on commentary often. Hansen thanks Vader and Terry Funk and Bob Backlund. He tells the story about breaking Bruno Sammartino’s neck at Madison Square Garden. He says he owes his career in Japan to Andre the Giant.
Lawler returns to show a Jacqueline tribute video. The Dudley Boyz come out to induct. Both guys elicit strong laughter from the crowd. Devon calls Jacqueline a friend for life. Jacqueline has a speech prepared and reads it, thanking the fans at the end. Hall of Fame Legacy tribute video afterwards.
Video package for The Fabulous Freebirds. The New Day comes out to induct them. Crowd goes wild. Smart choice. They get a “NEW DAY ROCKS!” chant from the crowd. This is the first excitement the WWE Universe has shown most of the night. Hayes tells a hilarious story about destroying their first apartment, and Buddy smashing into the walls and breaking the coffee table. Roberts and Gordy’s sons each come out and give thanks to the fans and WWE. Hayes thanks the WWE writers and the crowd boos. At this point in the show my wife comments, “This should be called Old Men Telling Stories.” It finally ends with Hayes singing Badstreet USA.
The Big Bossman gets his induction promo video next. Slick comes out to induct the late Bossman. Slick tells of a humble, honest man not to be crossed. He brings Bossman’s daughters out. And they thank the fans and WWE. His family pulls out Bossman’s night stick and the crowd cheers. “When Ray went into the ring, he had his stick. But when he came home, he had his heart.” That comes from Bossman’s wife of thirty years. She thanks the fans and they walk off. Standing ovation as they play Bossman’s music out.
Snoop Dogg comes in next, Lawler calling him the “inductizzle”. After the tribute video, Lawler brings out John Cena to induct Snoop. Crowd boos him and starts a “JOHN CENA SUUUUUUUUCKS!” chant along with his music. Cena attempts to make jokes and gets no reaction. Keeps getting booed throughout his speech, which sounds very scripted by WWE Creative. Snoop comes out with two ladies on each arm, dressed to the nines. Snoop takes a selfie with the entire crowd. Thanks a bunch of superstars and gives a shout out to Sasha Banks, his cousin. Snoop gives appreciation to Tony Atlas, Rocky Johnson, The Junkyard Dog, and Dusty Rhodes. “Wrestling has been good to me and I love being part of your family.” Snoop ends with doing a rap. Lawler comes back out again. Video package for The Warrior Award which will be presented to Joan Lunden. Dana Warrior inducts her.
Finally the moment everyone has been waiting for. The Icon, Sting is inducted. Amazing tribute package, gave me goosebumps. Ric Flair is inducting Sting. Woooo! Flair offers remembrance to Dusty Rhodes and Roddy Piper. Tells a story about how white hot Sting was back in the late 80’s and was the driving force behind WCW’s Starrcade. Sting comes out. Crowd on their feet. Sting mentions Seth Rollins, huge crowd pop. Sting gives an amazing speech, possibly the smoothest and best of the night. Sting thanks Ultimate Warrior for challenging and pushing him early in his career. The jokes are good, with Sting poking fun at himself. The stories are amazing, and we wish we could have some of that Hayes time back so Sting could tell more. Sting officially retires at the Hall of Fame. Crowd gives a standing ovation. He puts on a pair of shades, holds up his baseball bat and says, “This isn’t goodbye. It’s see you later.”
This took well over three hours and drooped horribly in spots. Long winded speeches turned this into a snoozefest. Hayes was the highlight and he went on a good thirty minutes. WWE has got to find a way to trim this down. At the very least, don’t have it start at 8PM and waste people’s entire night. Especially when WrestleMania is scheduled to run a good six hours tomorrow. A great Hall of Fame Class, but bad programming. And that was just with them going straight through everyone. There wasn’t any filler, or breaks. I didn’t watch last year and almost wish I hadn’t watched this year. If you can, catch Michael P S Hayes doing his thing on YouTube and don’t watch this full show as it’s far too long.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The time has come. The showcase of the immortals is upon us once again. Vince McMahon’s dream that started thirty-one years ago comes a little early this year, dropping in March instead of the usual April. But that won’t stop it from being another memorable night of big moments and jaw-dropping matches. Face To Heel’s editor and head writer, Jamie Curtis Baker, will be with you every step up the way with a rapid reaction of every moment, every match, recapping and reviewing each superstar and match outcome.
5:00 PM – The kick off show started right on time. Renee Young, Booker T, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves recap first Rusev vs Cena. Rusev is shown backstage with the ever intoxicating Lana. She swears to never show compassion again. Rusev says, “Crush John Cena and America dies!” A bit extreme, but it should be a pretty good match regardless. Cut to a video segment of Cena on Jimmy Kimmel this week really milking the American angle. It’s over the top, it’s a badly scripted promo that comes off very forced. Cena stands up and salutes the crowd after. If that sort of thing gets you fired up, well okay then.
5:18 PM – Eden is backstage knocking on Triple H’s door trying to get a comment about his match with Sting. Kane tells her to leave because it’s off limits. This is followed by a HHH/Sting video package which, to be honest, is pretty damn awesome. This match has amazing written all over it. Can’t wait.
5:26 PM – J&J Security shown backstage, getting coffee. Brisco and Patterson are shown, passing the torch from one set of stooges to another. This is really for the more hardcore fans who will get this segment. The casual fan won’t understand. Kid Ink and Skylar Grey revealed to be performing live tonight. WWE hits us with that Seth Rollins and Randy Orton video package, the actually covers Rollins all the way back to The Shield. Very cool. If Roman Reigns is the next John Cena, then Seth Rollins is clearly the next Randy Orton. This match will be epic.
5:38 PM – After a video package showing various news outlets with WWE superstars stopping by all week and some behind the scene looks at fans at WWE Axxess, the Divas tag match is recapped. This will feature the Bella Twins vs Paige and AJ Lee. This was all punctuated with flashbacks of Raw and Smackdown footage. No video montage for this match.
5:43 PM – Bray Wyatt vs Undertaker video package set to Johnny Cash. If you aren’t excited for this one, you might want to dig a hole and just live underground in a cave. I personally predicted that this match would steal the show tonight. On one side you have the mysterious Undertaker, shrouded in shadow after being crushed by Brock Lesnar last year. We don’t know his status. We don’t know how he will look or perform. We only know he is in the building. In the opposite corner you have the self-proclaimed “New Face of Fear” Bray Wyatt who is looking to not only solidify himself as the new creepy, dark enigma of the WWE but establish himself right here and now, building the foundation of his future in professional wrestling.
5:50 PM – The main event is previewed, with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. The interview with Lesnar on ESPN is shown of him revealing he is remaining with the WWE, having signed a new three year deal. Barring outside influence, Brock Lesnar will win this match. The key factors in this match aren’t even Lesnar and Reigns. The two people to consider during this bout is Paul Heyman and Seth Rollins. Heyman has a history of betraying Lesnar. And Rollins has the MITB briefcase. Cue video package of BABYface Reigns and Lesnar. Chances are good tonight, if both stars bring their a-game, we get a double turn by the time the bell rings and Lesnar continues running rampant through the summer.
6:02 PM – Hour two of the kickoff show begins. The crowd is still filing in as JBL, Jerry Lawler, and Michael Cole are shown right before The Usos come to the ring with Naomi. Los Matadores and El Torito come out next. A New Day comes out to a chorus of boos. This gimmick is so terrible. Please disband it and let Big E be a solo act. He is too good for this. The tag team champions, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd come out to a pretty decent pop. Cesaro and Kofi Kingston start the match. The sun is out super bright and it has to be hard for the competitors. Jay Uso gets taken out with an injury, leaving the match. Cesaro and Kidd pretty much in control for most of the start of this match. Nattie puts the Sharpshooter on El Torito. That’s what this has devolved to. Then Nattie and Naomi get into it outside the ring. This match is pretty fast paced and is honestly not too shabby for a preshow in broad daylight. The match gets punctuated with a six man double suplex off the top rope. Cesaro pins Big E and retains the titles.
6:19 PM – #AskLita segment with none other than WWE Hall of Famer Lita. She answers questions via Twitter. Nothing too enthralling here so we’ll just leave it at that.
6:27 PM – Jon Gruden shown reviewing film for the upcoming Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The match begins with so many sweaty bodies in the ring. Curtis Axel rips his shirt open and then everybody picks him up and throws him out of the ring. First eliminated. Axelmania has died. Hideo Itami of NXT takes some vicious chops from Big Show. I predicted Sheamus would be in this match, but he’s not even there so look for him to ruin the IC Title match later on. Itami takes a hard punch from Show and gets eliminated. Sort of a crappy moment for a guy who earned a shot to be here on NXT. Ryback eliminates both members of The Ascension, then quickly throws out Darren Young, Heath Slater, and Titus O’Neal. Kane hits a double chokeslam on Mix and Mizdow. Cesaro lifts Kane and throws him out. Wow. Five competitors left. Big Show picks up Cesaro and tosses him out. Ryback, Show, Miz, and Mizdow are the final four. Big Show eliminates Ryback. Big Show is clearly exhausted. He has really done a lot in this match, looking extremely tough. Miz tries to get Mizdow to help, Mizdow shakes his head. The crowd starts a YES! chant. Miz: “It’s always been us! I need you! This is for us! We take him out for us!” Mizdow grabs Miz and tosses him out, crowd goes wild! Mizdow and Big Show are the final two. Mizdow gives his all, but Big Show is too, well, big. Big Show wins second annual Andre the Giant Battle Royal.
6:50 PM – That about does it for the preshow. More panel yapping. The big event is right around the corner!
7:00 PM – WRESTLEMANIA!!!!!!!!!!! Aloe Blacc comes out and sings America the Beautiful, a really smooth rendition. Pyrotechnics go off, crowd goes wild. LL Cool J has a video package introducing everyone to WrestleMania. Unnecessary, but still cool. Ladders surround the ring, the IC Belt is hanging above the center and the first music to pop is Daniel Bryan. Crowd goes ape shit, of course. YES! chant starts immediately. The champ, BNB, enters second donning a cape. Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, Luke Harper, R-Truth, and Dean Ambrose round out the competitors. R-Truth is the first to set a ladder up in the ring, but his fear of heights keeps him from climbing towards the belt. The ladder immediately becomes a weapon and painful antics ensue. Stardust takes over, knocking everyone down. Crowd starts a CODY! chant. He then proceeds to pull a bedazzled ladder out from under the ring! HaHa!Ambrose and Harper go at it in the ring. Ziggler takes a a hard punch from Harper, then gets smashed into a ladder. Ladder matches are never pretty. Wrestling is not all fake, folks. Barrett suplexes Stardust from the top of the tallest ladder. Wow. Gets a HOLY SHIT! chant from the crowd. Ambrose, Ziggler, and Bryan battle on a ladder. Luke Harper just powerbombed Ambrose THROUGH a ladder! Ziggler and Bryan go to war at the top of a ladder, pawing at the title. They trade headbutts. Ziggler falls, Bryan reaches up and collects the IC Title!
7:32 PM – Seth Rollins comes to the ring with J&J Security. The Viper, Randy Orton comes out to a big pop. The Future of the Company vs The Face of the Company. Orton sports red trucks, Rollins wearing a rejected outfit prop from the X-Men movies. Orton hits a clothes from hell and then outside the ring Rollins smashes Orton into the table. J&J Security receive a double DDT off the ring apron. It should be noted at this point I’ve had three cocktails and a beer, things might get sloppy in an hour or so. Orton gets taken out by a very clean moonsault from Rollins. So far, though, this match isn’t all that great considering who is in it. Orton hits an RKO, Rollins kicks out at two. Orton teases the punt, but J&J interferes. Rollins hits a Curb Stomp, a very sloppy Curb Stomp. Orton kicks out at two. Oh my god, Rollins goes for a Curb Stomp and Orton turns it into an RkO! Randy Orton wins! So far, a fantastic WrestleMania.
7:56 PM – A drum band performs for Sting. It’s weird but sort of cool. The sun still hasn’t gone down and it’s very strange to watch WrestleMania without the spotlights and bright lights. Stinger comes out. There is a Terminator vignette and then the stage fills with actual terminators! Triple H comes out dressed in a terminator skull outfit. Arnold: “WrestleMania is here. It’s time to play the game.” That was such a great entrance that would have been better in the dark. Sting dominates to start the match. YOU STILL GOT IT! chant from the crowd. Sting throws Triple H over the top rope. HHH can’t seem to gain much ground and the amped up Sting. HHH whips Sting into the corner, then hits him with a SUCK IT gesture. Sting gets HHH in a figure four and DX comes out! Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and XPAC come out to save HHH. Sting takes them out. Triple H hits Pedigree, Sting kicks out at two. Triple H takes a Sledgehammer out. NWO’s music hits! NWO takes out DX. Sting hits Scorpion Deathdrop and HHH kicks out! Sting locks in Scorpion Deathlock. HHH crawls to his sledgehammer, but Hollywood Hogan takes it away! Sting keeps the lock in. XPAC takes out Hogan, Nash takes out XPAC, all hell breaks loose. Shawn Michaels hits Sting with Sweet Chin Music! Triple H goes for the pin and Sting barely kicks out at two and a half! Scott Hall gives Sting his bat. Triple H has his sledgehammer. Triple H’s sledgehammer is broken in half with a baseball bat hit. Sting goes to work. This is epic. TRIPLE H WINS!
8:30 PM – Daniel Bryan backstage gets nods from Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Ron Simmons, Patterson, and they all start a YES! chant. Travis Barker is on stage playing drums, Skyler Gray sings the WrestleMania theme song.
8:40 PM – Paige’s music hits. The beautiful AJ Lee comes out, skipping to the ring. The Bellas enter. The sun still hasn’t set, so I hope Paige doesn’t get a sunburn. Nikki immediately takes control of this match, throwing Paige around the ring and delivering a cheap shot to AJ. Both Nikki and Brie try to pin Paige, but she is able to consistently kick out at two while AJ lays comatose outside of the ring. AJ continues to try to get into this match, but the Bellas won’t allow her to get close. Nikki delivers the Rack Attack, which Paige also narrowly escapes. Paige quickly takes control of this match, taking out both Bella twins while AJ finally gets back on the apron. Finally we see our Geek Goddess enter this match. She takes down Nikki, and with the assist from Paige, gets a pin on Nikki, who kicks out at two. AJ gets Nikki locked in the Black Widow, but Brie breaks it up. AJ manages to lock it in again and makes Nikki tap out! Next up is highlights from the Hall of Fame ceremony.
9:00 PM – Cena/Rusev video package. Lana comes out carrying the US title. Rusev comes out…in a tank. LOL! Cena gets an All American white bread video package. This is some Hacksaw Jim Duggan shit. Crowd boos Cena very loudly and sings JOHN CENA SUUUUUUUUUUCKS. Rusev forces Eden to introduce him first. Cena hits a clothesline and goes for a pin. Rusev kicks out at one. The sun still hasn’t set, but has gone down enough that most of the stadium is in shadows. Crowd is very anti-Cena. Crowd starts a LET’S GO LANA chant. Cena hits an STF. Lana throws her shoe at the ref. Michael Cole sells it as the most bizarre thing he’s ever seen. And WWE had a guy called Boogeyman that ate worms in the ring. BUT OKAY. Rusev hits a flying headbutt, Cena kicks out at two. Rusev tries to lock in Accolade, but Cena counters before it gets locked in. Rusev kicks out at two. Cena hits AA, Rusev kicks out and lands a super kick. Rusev locks in the Accolade. Super Cena picks him up and slams him into the corner. Then Cena locks in the STF. Rusev takes out Lana by accident, Cena hits the AA and gets a pinfall. The preshow panels recaps most of the show.
9:36 PM – Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the ring. They inform the crowd they set a new attendance record. Triple H destroys Sting on the mic. Says he owns Sting and the superstars and all the WWE Universe. “The Authority always wins.” The Rock’s music hits! 76,000 chant ROCKY! Rock calls out HHH. Triple H takes his jacket off. Steph and Rock trade barbs, Steph slaps Rock. The Rock exits the ring. The Rock finds Ronda Rousey ringside! The Rock attacks Triple H! Ronda Rousey slams him down! Steph grabs her. Big mistake! Ronda grabs Steph by the arm and throws her out of the ring. The Rock: “That is called being owned.”
10:01 PM – Bray Wyatt enters the arena surrounded by a bunch of creepy ass scarecrows that all stutter around behind him. The sun is still up so Undertaker’s entrance is going to fall a little flat. BONG. Fog hits, music hits, the deadman comes around. Just in the face, Taker looks years younger than he did last year. This is his 23rd WrestleMania appearance. Still, by far, the best entrance in the business. I don’t know how he looks ten years younger, but somehow he does. Taker starts the match with a huge boot and gets Bray in the corner. This is what Sting should have looked like. Taker hits Old School and crowd goes nuts. Start a YOU STILL GOT IT! chant. Bray Wyatt takes control for a little while, keeping Taker down on his back. Taker locks in Hell’s Gate submission! Wyatt fights out. Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail and Taker reverses it into a chokeslam. Taker hits a tombstone pile driver! Wyatt kicks out at two! Taker runs a thumb across his neck….goes for a second tombstone pile driver. Bray counters, hits Sister Abigail. Taker barely kicks out! Wyatt mocks Taker. Taker reverse a Sister Abigail into a tombstone piledriver. ONE TWO THREE! UNDERTAKER WINS!!!
10:34 PM – Roman Reigns comes out, going through the crowd which has to be absolutely frightening. Lesnar comes out, looking like an absolute animal. Lillian introduces Reigns. Heyman takes the mic and introduces Brock Lesnar which makes him all the more intimidating. This turns into a quick brawl. Lesnar hits a suplex and an F5! Doesn’t even go for a pin, just wipes the blood from his face. Lesnar appears genuinely pissed off at having his face busted open. Hits a couple more suplexes. “Suplex city, bitch!” – Brock Lesnar. Another suplex by Lesnar. Lesnar hits an eighth suplex. This is just an ass whooping at this point. Reigns kicks out of an F5 and Lesnar takes his gloves off, literally. He slaps Reigns with a bare open palm over and over. Nine suplexes. Ten. A third F5. Reigns kicks out at two. Lesnar gets busted open on the ring post, takes two Superman punches but doesn’t go down. After a third punch Lesnar goes down but hops up. Reigns hits a spear and Lesnar gets up. HE TAKES A SECOND SPEAR AND KICKS OUT AT TWO!!! Lesnar hits an F5 and both men are down! Seth Rollins comes out! He has the ref cash in! IT IS NOW A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH!!!!!!! Rollins hits a curb stomp on Reigns, goes to Lesnar for a curb stomp and gets it blocked, Reigns hits a spear, Rollins hits Reigns with a curb stomp and pins him for the title!!!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker