The show immediately kicks off with a match; Bray Wyatt versus Kane. The difference between Smackdown and Raw is that on Monday nights we have to wait 25 minutes to see a contest. Bray goes right for the big red demon as soon as the bell rings. Kane recovers with a sidewalk slam and then a DDT. Wyatt slams Kane and then hangs upside down from the turnbuckle. Just then, Randy Orton interrupts on the big screen. He says if Wyatt thinks he is the predator, he should come catch his prey. Wyatt turns and Kane tries to chokeslam him, but Wyatt rolls out of the ring. The ref starts a 10 count and Wyatt walks out. Kane wins via countout. Bray Wyatt stands at the top of the ramp laughing. He yells, “You’ll get yours, Kane! They all will!” Empty words from a man jobbed out and stacking up losses to everyone on the roster.
Baron Corbin is interviewed briefly backstage. He is asked about Jack Swagger. As Baron gives a weak promo, Swagger interrupts and gets in his face. Swagger says let’s find out right now. Baron says see me in the ring. Swagger says he will go find Daniel Bryan and get them a match. Corbin ends the segment with a flimsy, “You do that.”
Alexa Bliss takes on Nikki Bella next. Carmella joins commentary. This one spills out of the ring rather quickly and Nikki throws Alexa into Carmella. Back in the ring, Nikki goes for her finisher, but Carmella runs in from behind and attacks her. Then Alexa and Carmella take turns beating down Nikki. Becky Lynch’s music hits and she runs in to save Nikki. Commercial break. After the break, you guessed it…tag team match. This one ends up being Bliss vs Lynch and Alexa hits Twisted Bliss moonsault for the pinfall. Really flat match that didn’t really do a lot to be honest. Two mediocre, half-assed matches so far tonight. Smackdown not fairing very well. As if to sum this up perfectly, we are then shown a backstage segment of Orton locking Bray in a storage unit with a rocking chair.
The Vaudevillians in the ring next to take on The Hype Bros. During an all over the place match, The Ascension come out and stand at the top of the ramp. I referred to this third mediocre match as hot trash on Twitter. Nothing at all of meaning has happened tonight in order to set the stage or garner excitement for No Mercy. This is the Smackdown of ole when people couldn’t be bothered to tune into SyFy. The Hype Bros win. If you can call anybody in the match a winner. Ascension does nothing but stand there and stare. Bunch of watered-down tag team action.
MizTV on next with The Miz out with his wife Maryse. This is going to be a Dolph-umentary. His words, not mine. He calls out Ziggler who answers and heads to the ring. We are then shown a Ziggler career package. But it is spun to show Ziggler as an ultimate failure. It’s pretty harsh but absolutely hilarious. I laughed several times. Miz continues to verbally assault Ziggler and then brings out two members of the Spirit Squad. They do a cheer spelling out Dolph’s first name. Then they attack Dolph and beat him down as Miz and Maryse walks out. Ziggler fights back with superkicks. The best thing that has happened all night.
Jey Uso versus Jason Jordan in singles competition up next. In less than two minutes, Jordan wins the match. Jimmy throws Chad Gable into the steel steps. As Jordan runs out to help, Jey takes him out at the knee. They roll him in the ring and are about to hit Tequila Sunrise, but Rhyno and Heath Slater run in to save the day. The Usos cut and run. Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin wrestle next, which as exciting as it sounds. Swagger puts in the Patriot Lock. As Baron is trying to reach over and over for the bottom rope, the ref thinks he is tapping out and calls for the bell. Swagger wins. Still haven’t had a strong, solid match tonight…
…and we aren’t going to. There isn’t a main event tonight. Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, and John Cena just jabber-jaw for the last ten minutes. Ambrose interrupts Styles, mad about Cena. Cena interrupts and Styles cuts him off before he can speak. Cena takes his hat off and tries to speak, but Ambrose cuts him off. Ambrose cuts a scathing promo on Cena. Cena attacks him and then Styles. He takes both down, grabs the title and his music starts. Styles attacks him from behind. He bounds off the ropes and hits a Phenomenal Forearm. He grabs the title and his music hits. Ambrose attacks him and hits Dirty Deeds on the ramp. He holds the title up as his music hits.
That’s all she wrote. Super weak Smackdown episode. I am utterly disappointed. Raw actually beat them this week, but it should be considered a pyrrhic victory as neither show wowed in its presentation. Besides Ambrose and The Miz/Ziggler segment, there was nothing good at all about tonight’s show. Two big thumbs down.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We are coming off of a very strong Smackdown from last week, which was followed by an episode of Talking Smack that has had people talking all week. Daniel Bryan called out The Miz for wrestling “like a coward,” and for wrestling in the soft WWE style. The Miz came back at him hard, defending his style because he has never been injured in his entire career and is dedicated and present. He went off on Bryan, and Maryse looked so uncomfortable. Renee Young tried to calm Miz down, but Bryan was so flustered that he walked off the set while Miz finished what was an amazing tirade. I have been a fan of The Miz for a while, and he owned that interview. This is HIS show. Standing ovation for The Miz.
After a recap of that amazing moment, we cut to Bryan and Shane McMahon, who were backstage rewatching the interview. McMahon says that while he agrees with Bryan, he shouldn’t have provoked The Miz and owes him an apology. Bryan says he finds his comments ironic coming from the guy who has beef with Brock Lesnar; that comment gets a good pop from the crowd.
As we move to the arena, The Miz storms out to the ring, demanding his music be cut and asking if he has our attention now. Miz defends his style as being smart and accuses the fans of not seeing the big picture. He says he can do it all, day in and day out, without injury. But we boo him because he didn’t start in the small venues like some wrestlers, didn’t fail over and over before he succeeded. If Miz is unworthy, what are we? Cowards. Dolph Ziggler interrupts, and for once, I’m not happy to see him. Ziggler says that the fans won’t ever get behind him because they can see through his act. Miz just wants to be famous, and that’s why no one believes in him.
If Miz wants to prove to everyone that he isn’t a coward, prove it now. No referee, no title match, just an honest fight. The Miz takes off the jacket, rolls up his sleeves, but isn’t giving in to Ziggler’s request. Ziggler grabs a mic and calls him a soft, safe coward. Miz starts rushing back to the ring as the crowd chants COWARD, but Maryse holds him back. I’m not exactly sure why Ziggler had to get involved here. This took a strong segment and made it into something it didn’t need to be.
Our first match of the night is a first round Tag Team Tournament Match; The Hype Bros versus The Vaudevillains. Ryder and English start off the match with Ryder in complete control. English leaves the ring for a breather, and Ryder hits Gotch with a kick, allowing English to get him with a Swinging Neckbreaker. Rawley and Ryder are looking fantastic in this match! Ryder hits a Broksi Boot and the crowd is cheering as the pair fly around the ring. The two team up to take down both men, then hit the Hype Ryder for the win! They will advance to the semi finals of the tag team tournament.
AJ Styles comes out to the ring next, again calling himself “the face that runs the place.” He promises to beat Dean Ambrose at Backlash and become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Apollo Crews picks this moment to come out and stop Styles’ personal love-fest. Crews says he got permission to challenge Styles to a match that starts now. Crews is an incredible athlete and is proving it with this match, hitting Styles with a solid punch and asking Mauro Ranallo if he got a good look at it. During the commercial break, Styles regained control, but Crews is quick to take it back when we return. Crews is able to throw Styles over the top rope, then flip out of the ring to take him down again. Ranallo calls him a “flying tank,” and this tank is back in the ring hitting Styles with punches to the midsection. He takes Styles to the top rope, but Styles is able to duck away. Styles hits Crews with a cross body, but Crews catches him and hits a Samoan Drop. Amazing! Styles hits a Phenomenal Forearm and pins Crews for the win. Very energetic match, and a good showing by both men.
Heath Slater visits with Renee Young in his… trailer out back? His wife, who looks like a fan Snooki, serves cheese in a can with crackers and what looks like raw hot dogs as Renee tries to interview Slater and Rhyno. As Renee asks about Slater’s confrontation with Brock Lesnar, Rhyno draws cheese frowny faces on crackers. I want to invite Rhyno and Slater to dinner. This is hilarious! Unfortunately we can’t meet the kids; they’re out back collecting cans and bottles.
Bray Wyatt walks out to the ring next, accompanied by his fireflies, but without Erick Rowan. He calls out Randy Orton, calling him sick, but that’s what he likes about him. He’s interested in how Lesnar exploited him at Summerslam. He tells Orton to run, but his music hits instead. Orton says that the voices in his head are asking him who in the hell does Wyatt think he is. Orton says his charm comes from the fact that he’s been damaged for a long time. Wyatt has his attention. Wyatt says that Orton is no longer the predator in this situation. At Backlash, Wyatt will cut the serpent’s head off and hang it on his mantle as a trophy. The crowd is obnoxiously chanting “Husky Harris,” and Orton responds by saying he respects Wyatt in a way because they both have their demons. He agrees to the match at Backlash, but strongly says he isn’t afraid of Wyatt. The arena goes dark, and they awkwardly cut away. Abrupt ending.
Alexa Bliss and Natalya will face off with Naomi and Becky Lynch now, with Nikki Bella on commentary. Oh joy. Naomi and Natalya start things off, but I’m distracted because David Otunga insists on talking with Nikki Bella about Total Bellas, their new reality show on E! Alexa Bliss is tagged in, and the two throw Naomi to the mat, then pin her on the ropes. Otunga says “she’s trying to snatch Naomi’s edges off,” and now I’m laughing too hard to pay attention. Becky Lynch is tagged in, and she goes to the top rope to land a kick on Bliss. She tries for a cover, but Natalya breaks it up. Out of nowhere, Carmella comes out and starts attacking Nikki Bella. The distraction allows Bliss to roll up Lynch and get the win for her team. We didn’t get to see too much of this match thanks to the commercial break and Carmella’s distraction, but it definitely got interesting towards the end.
Our next match is another tag; Heath Slater and Rhyno versus The Headbangers. You can tell a lot of the crowd has no idea who these guys are. Slater and Rhyno come out to a big pop, and there is an entire section of “Heath’s Kids.” Mosh and Slater start things off, with Slater in control, but Mosh hits Slater outside of the ring, then tags in his partner. Thrasher takes Slater down easily; he and his partner are keeping Slater away from Rhyno to control this match. Poor Slater has a bloody lip, Rhyno is down thanks to an elbow from Mosh, and Slater nearly gets pinned but Rhyno saves the match. He tags himself in, floors Thrasher, and wins the match! Slater and Rhyno advance! YES! Not sure where all the blood on Rhyno’s head came from though…
Gary “The Milk Man” Millman is in the ring demanding an opponent. Who is this dude? Fireworks hit and Kane comes down to the ring! Man, I haven’t seen him in a while! Milk Man starts trying to get his pants back on, but it’s too late. Oh dear god, he’s just wearing normal underwear, not even trunks. Kane delivers a chokeslam and quickly departs.
Main event time! AJ Styles is on commentary as Baron Corbin comes to the ring to face Dean Ambrose. Kane and Corbin cross paths, briefly making eye contact and hopefully setting up something for later. Corbin takes control of the match early on, hitting Ambrose in the chest and sending him to his knees. Ambrose is able to knock Corbin off his feet, then send him over the top rope. He jumps from the apron and takes Corbin to the mat, then slams him into the announce table, sending a message to Styles. Corbin hits a lariat and then delivers kick after kick to Ambrose’s midsection. Ambrose finally breaks Corbin’s momentum with a well-timed neckbreaker. He hits a mean clothesline and pins Corbin, but he kicks out. Ambrose knocks Corbin from the ring, dives out to take him down, and then poses for a moment on the barricade. Corbin is able to hit a Deep Six back in the ring, but Ambrose kicks out. Styles gets up and in Corbin’s face, which he isn’t happy about. Ambrose takes advantage, knocks Corbin into Styles, and nearly wins the match. Styles gets up on the apron, then accidentally kicks Corbin in the face, causing the match being called due to disqualification. Ambrose leaves the ring to attack Styles, then Corbin goes after Ambrose. Our champ hits Dirty Deeds on Corbin, then trips Styles up on the ropes, sending his man bits right into the rope. The noise he’s making is hilariously awful. So of course, Ambrose responds by bouncing him up and down on the rope before shaking his hand and grabbing his title.
We’re a little over a week away from Backlash, our first brand exclusive PPV since the draft. Ambrose will face off with Styles for the title, and we’ll crown our first Smackdown tag champions and our first Smackdown Women’s champ. This was another solid Smackdown; two weeks in a row! We’ll bring you our Backlash predictions after next week’s Smackdown airs. Let us know your thoughts below, and follow us on Twitter at @facetoheel.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
It’s time for the second live Smackdown of the year, and the first since the brand draft. The night kicks off with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon. They let us know that Smackdown is not about them; it’s about the talent and the fans. Of course, they say this while doing a YES chant to Bryan’s music, but we’ll let that slide. The entire roster is surrounding the ring, and Backlash is announced as the first Smackdown exclusive PPV, which will be held on September 11, 2016. Dean Ambrose is invited out to the ring, as the next order of business is to find him an opponent at SummerSlam. Tonight, a six-pack challenge will be held to determine the number one contender. The first contender is John Cena, because of course it is. The second entrant will be Bray Wyatt, followed by Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, and AJ Styles. The sixth contender’s spot is open to everyone; the winner of the upcoming Battle Royal will earn that 6th spot.
JBL, Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga are our new announce team, and we get a brief introduction to them before the Battle Royal begins. Simon Gotch is the first eliminated, about 30 seconds in. Alberto Del Rio and an Uso team up on Kalisto, but fail. Both members of The Ascension are eliminated by Kane next. Kane goes after Kalisto next, but can’t quite get it done. Apollo Crews is up on the ropes, but he saves himself. Tyler Breeze is pinned in the corner by Erick Rowan. Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder are looking out for each other. Jey Uso is eliminated thanks to Breezango, and we cut to first commercial.
During the break, Aiden English was eliminated, along with Erick Rowan. Mojo Rawley is eliminated by Del Rio, who then goes after Ryder. Kalisto botches a move, but Del Rio ends up eliminated anyway. Kane eliminates Breezango and we are left with him, Kalisto, Ryder and Crews. Crews does an amazing standing moonsault onto Kane, and at this point, everyone is down on the mat. Ryder botches a dropkick (JBL calls him out) and Kalisto is saved. Kalisto redeems himself, but Ryder botches a move off the ropes and just falls down. Kane eliminates Kalisto by throwing him out of the ring by his throat. Kane hurls Ryder out of the ring and it’s down to him and Crews. Crews dodges a chokeslam with a flip and eliminates Kane! Congratulations to Apollo Crews! Well deserved!
Before the commercial break, we get a video package for the return of Shelton Benjamin. Dolph Ziggler then addresses the crowd now via video package to discuss his plans to be in the main event at Summerslam. Our next match is a Women’s one-on-one; Becky Lynch versus Natalya. It’s difficult to take Natalya serious as a heel when she looks like a life-size Bratz doll. This starts off as a very athletic match, which is a great thing to see. Charlotte and Sasha Banks set the bar high with their performance last night. Lynch hits a dropkick that drives Natalya from the ring. Natalya keeps cheering for herself as she slams Lynch into the mat. Lynch finally gets Natalya down, hits a leg drop, and tries for the pin, but fails. Natalya hits a German Suplex but can’t get the pin either. Natalya tries for the Sharpshooter, but Lynch counters and locks in The Disarmer to force the tap and win.
As Lynch celebrates, Alexa Bliss interrupts, calling herself the hottest star on Smackdown. She is interrupted by Naomi, who calls her out for talking big when she hasn’t even competed on the main roster yet. Now Carmella is here! She barely gets going before Eva Marie comes out with the most obnoxious, self-absorbed, ridiculous entrance I have ever seen in my life. Eva Marie is garbage personified and I’m so incredibly annoyed at having to waste 30 seconds on seeing her.
Baron Corbin delivers a statement via video package now, stating he will win tonight, and he’s doing it for him and him alone. Now, time for MizTV. Maryse is screeching about something, calling Miz the sexiest man alive. I like The Miz, but I disagree with that statement. Anyway, The Miz is interviewing himself. Randy Orton thankfully interrupts the Miz lovefest, then calls him out for “playing with himself.” A RANDY chant starts. They move on to discuss the match Orton has at Summerslam against Brock Lesnar. Orton tries to set up a match against Miz, but he declines. Orton makes a joke about Maryse wearing a strap on and giving it to the Miz, so Maryse gets all heated and accepts the match on behalf of her husband.
Following the break, Orton faces Miz, who immediately rolls out of the ring. Miz attacks Orton’s shoulder and beats him into the ground outside of the ring. Back in the ring, he hits the shoulder again with a kick, then starts delivering kicks to his midsection as Orton is stuck in the corner. Orton tries to turn the match around, but gets thrown into the steel steps. Miz rolls Orton back into the ring, and Orton hits a surprise RKO, but doesn’t go for the cover. Instead, he sits by the ropes and just watches as Miz lays in the ring. Orton slowly gets to his feet, still watching Miz lay on the mat. Miz finally gets to his feet and Orton hits a second RKO, goes for the cover, and wins.
After the break, we get a fantastic video package for American Alpha, which is a great way to introduce the non-NXT audience to this tag team. They will compete for the first time on the main roster next week. In the ring, a local talent is set to perform, but Heath Slater comes out of nowhere, knocks the guy out of the ring, and grabs a microphone. He is the only non-injured performer who was not drafted. He demands to become part of the main event; make it a Magnificent Seven Pack Challenge. He starts a Sign Heath Slater chant. Shane McMahon tells Slater he should submit a resume, to which Slater replies by listing all his accomplishments, which are actually pretty damn impressive. As Slater is going off, Rhyno slips into the ring and GORES Slater. Poor Heath Slater.
It’s AJ Styles’ turn to address us in his video package, telling us how good he is and discussing how ridiculous it is that he even has to compete in this main event to qualify. After the commercial, Bray Wyatt takes his turn, reminding us that he is the Eater of Worlds, and tonight, he will cause five other men to fall. And with that, it’s finally time for our main event! Cena is out last, of course.
There are no count-outs, no disqualifications, and you must win via pinfall or submission. The match is 10 seconds in and we break for commercial. As we return, Wyatt, Styles and Crews are the only three in the ring. Wyatt lays out Styles with a rough Clothesline, then Ziggler is back in the ring to deliver a dropkick and then an elbow to Wyatt, before trying for a pin. Corbin pulls Ziggler from the ring and lays him out, but Styles hits Corbin with a knee. Styles tries to pin Wyatt after hitting a 450 Springboard, but Cena breaks it up. Crews is in now, Suplexing Ziggler all over the ring. Crews is pinned by Corbin, but kicks free. Corbin is destroying Crews, as the pair are alone in the ring, but can’t get the pin. We then break for our hopefully last commercial.
When we return, everyone is back in action, but no one is able to finish this match. We’re quickly back to Corbin and Crews alone, as Crews hits Corbin with some solid punches, but Corbin is able to pin him again, then goes off on the referee for not calling it a three count. Crews hits a powerbomb, Bray Wyatt takes out the referee and goes into that creepy backbend, and hits Crews with Sister Abigail. Ziggler hits Wyatt with a Zig Zag and pins him for the three count, but the damn ref is outside of the ring hugging his knee! Cena hits Ziggler with the AA, then hits Styles with the AA and almost wins the match. Cena hits Crews with the AA, then hits Wyatt with one, and pretends to struggle with picking up Corbin, but eventually gets him. Out of nowhere Styles eliminates Cena. And even more out of nowhere, DOLPH ZIGGLER comes in and WINS! Are you kidding me! Ziggler gets it? This is amazing!! Man, this truly is a new era. Ambrose comes down to the ring to stare down Ziggler, Bryan comes out to lift both their arms into the air, McMahon congratulates Ziggler, and this ends our night.
Tonight was a fantastic two hours of wrestling. This new era is really living up to its name and I’m getting really excited about WWE’s product again. Please leave your comments and thoughts about tonight below, and let us know what you think of Ziggler winning the main event and challenging Ambrose at Summerslam. We’ll see you all next week!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Last night was the official kick off party for the first live Smackdown episode, during which the entire WWE landscape was upended and changed forever. Who went where? We discuss below each draft pick and how they fit in the picture going forward.
Seth Rollins got the #1 Draft pick slot, headed over to Monday Night Raw. This one seems obvious. He is quite definitely the future and deserves to be the main guy at Raw. A+ pick.
Dean Ambrose went second, headed to Smackdown. Another obvious choice. They can’t have both Ambrose and Rollins on the same show. Not such a great idea to send the World Heavyweight Championship over to Smackdown, and for that reason we have to give this pick a B+.
Charlotte was the first female wrestler selected and she goes to Monday Night Raw. Her reign as champion has gone on a little too long and she needs to drop the title soon. Because of that, I for one do not care where she goes. I’m giving this pick a C. Not because it’s terrible but because C is right in the middle and neutral is how I feel about Charlotte.
AJ Styles to Smackdown, in a move that could really help propel the “B+ show” into prominence. Styles is a superstar and wherever he goes, viewers will tune in to see him. Although, on the flip side he is almost too good for Smackdown. This pick deserves an A-.
Finn Balor to Raw. This one worries me because we all know how great Balor is. And we all know how shitty Vince is with character gimmicks. I almost wish Balor had gone to Smackdown to put a little bit of a buffer between him and Vince’s main creative team. But Balor deserves Raw. He deserves a top spot. B+ for the overall decision to draft him to Raw and a C- for drafting him a week before a crap pay-per-view on a Tuesday night. Before you get up in arms and send me hate mail, these are just my opinions and the grades are in no way a reflection of the athletes themselves.
Roman Reigns to Raw. I hate this pick. I understand it, but I hate it. Roman Reigns should not be a top tier guy. He should never have been. But it is what it is. I wish he would get back to NXT for development because his ringwork is stale and his mic work is awful. As it is, he’s going to Raw and I give that my lowest grade so far of a D+.
John Cena to Smackdown. The only grade I can give this is an A+ because it means that the flagship show will not feature Cena. Although, one could make the argument to downgrade to an A- because Cena went to the show that has the world title, which is stressful for people that hate Cena any where near the WHC.
Brock Lesnar to Raw. I’m not sure if I want to give this an A+ or a B+. On one hand, Lesnar deserves to be on Raw. He is a heavyweight powerhouse. But on the other, Smackdown could really use him to infuse some badassery into it. Yes, I just used the word badassery. Let’s settle with an A for now until we see when and if this part-timer comes back.
Randy Orton to Smackdown. My initial grade for this is a C+. Only because it seems like a setup to shove Lesnar and Orton down our throats for the next month prior SummerSlam. Also, Cena was drafted to Smackdown and we really don’t need anymore matches between these two. However, I am willing to bump the grade up to a B+ because AJ Styles versus Randy Orton is a dream match to me. And I truly believe Orton taking on Baron Corbin could be some sort of beautiful hoss match, charged with ego and dripping with arrogance.
The New Day to Raw. I like this one because they split The Wyatt Family up tonight, which means New Day will probably retain their titles this weekend and that means the tag division will be strong on Raw. Not splitting up New Day was a wise decision. Giving this draft a solid A.
Sami Zayn to Raw. Automatic A+. Zayn is right where he needs to be, and hopefully he will get a push now.
Bray Wyatt to Smackdown. This one is a little bothersome to me. Wyatt has all the tools to be a behemoth superstar. But WWE has creatively dropped the ball on him continuously, as well as making odd booking choices for his match outcomes. If his most recent track record the past year is anything to go off of, sending him to Smackdown cannot be a good sign. D+ for this draft pick. I will admit if I am wrong. Maybe the point of this is to bring him back to life and have him stand alone for a push. I hope that’s the case.
Sasha Banks to Raw. This is a no brainer. Solid gold A. And you can take that to the bank.
Becky Lynch to Smackdown. I’m alright with this selection. It’s apparent that she isn’t getting a title push, and moving to Smackdown gives her a chance to teach the lower card gals and help elevate them in some great matches. She’s likable by the fans and she could help boost the women’s division over in Smackdown. A- for this one, with the one drawback being that she very well could be buried in Smackdown obscurity.
Chris Jericho is picked up by Raw. Now, I am biased on this one because I hate old man Fozzy-bear. Jericho over the past year has had way too many pushes. He has main evented tons of Raw episodes, won a large handful of pay-per-view matches, and even went over at WreslteMania this year. It’s time for these older guys to stop being in the spotlight. I give this draft pick an F. Send Jericho to Smackdown. Better yet, send him home. He should not have been drafted to Raw and certainly shouldn’t have gone this high up in the picks.
Rusev and Lana to Raw. Another no brainer. Rusev looks like a champion. Lana looks like a million bucks. Why wouldn’t you want these two easy-on-the-eyes roster members on your highest rated show? A+
The Miz and Maryse go to Smackdown. Giving this one a C-. I am over The Miz. And I am definitely over The Miz being Intercontinental Championship. And Maryse does nothing, so why was she included in this draft? The only reason this got a C- and not a D- is because he went to Smackdown and not Raw. Keep the title off of Miz, and keep the Miz off of Raw.
Kevin Owens to Raw equals A++. Owens and Zayn are on the same show. That’s money all day. Raw being the prominent show means that Owens gets to be in the spotlight where he belongs. Good stuff, here.
Baron Corbin to Smackdown is a weird thing. But, with the other guys being drafted there, it could spell good things for the Lone Wolf. If a couple of superstars take them under their wing, it could make Corbin a better worker and smoother on the mic. A- for this, in my opinion. The worry here is the big man being jobbed out and lost in the shuffle.
Enzo and Cass to Raw. Again, no brainer. A+. Keep the tag division strong.
Gallows and Anderson to Raw. Initially this looks like a B- at best. However, it was announced that Finn Balor will be coming to raw. I will bump this up to an A- as I salivate at the thought of mainstream Bulletclub action as Balor takes over the duo and forms a new stable.
American Alpha to Smackdown is a D- for me. These guys deserve to be at the top. If they are getting the callup they deserve Monday Night Raw. That’s it, period. Nothing else is even acceptable. I am very angry about this draft pick. It’s all kinds of wrong, and I cringe at American Alpha having to take on The Usos.
Big Show to Raw. Meh. Giving this one my second F of the draft. Big Show is old as time. He is overused in obscure segments, flip-flopping back and forth between heel and face. I’d rather see him taking a smaller role on Smackdown then wasting television time on Raw. I would have swapped him for Baron Corbin in a heartbeat.
Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown; this one is both hot and cold. On the one hand, this could be a new, fresh start for The Showoff. He is really talented and could benefit from a reboot. On the other hand, I get the sense that the potential to bury him is there and that worries me. Ziggler is a hell of a wrestler and I hope he doesn’t get hidden away on Tuesday nights. Giving this one a straight down the middle C.
Nia Jax from NXT up to Raw. Really? Over Bayley? What a strange call-up, not only for Jax probably not being ready for this, but also the fact they sent her to Raw. D- draft. Keep in mind, the grades are solely on the draft decisions and nothing more.
Neville to Raw is a good choice. Once he returns from injury, he can carry any match and will be a big addition to the cruiserweight division. Giving this one an A+.
Natalya was drafted to Smackdown. I don’t immediately hate this, but it does seem like more betrayal on her family name. She has never gotten a real title push and has never even won the women’s or diva’s belts. She is talented and deserves more than what WWE does with her. I’d prefer her to be on Raw, so this gets a B- from me.
Cesaro to Raw. This is a really solid choice and is hopefully a sign of good things to come for the Swiss Superman. Easy A. Shame on WWE for drafting him so far down on the list. He should have been top ten material.
Alberto Del Rio to Smackdown makes me sad. He hasn’t been properly utilized in WWE for a long time. He is one of the most talented guys on the roster. He seemed annoyed on the WWE Network being interviewed after the draft. I am disappointed right along with him. C-
Sheamus to Raw. I think this one would get a D+ either way. There’s really no place for Sheamus right now, and I really just don’t care.
Golden Truth to Raw. See above. D+ for R-Truth and Goldust.
The Usos to Smackdown. This annoys me because a more interesting angle would have been to split these two up. One to each show and we get to see them stand alone. C-
Titus O’Neal to Raw. Now all he needs is some sort of title. B+ for my money. Would have given an A but Vince has no idea what to do with big, black Adonises.
Kane to Smackdown. I was surprised for this decision. Kane is by and far better than Big Show currently. They should have been swapped. However, Kane will make a home for himself anywhere he goes. And it will be fun to see a little tension between him and Daniel Bryan. A- for this one.
Paige to Raw. She needs to be out of the top tier of the women’s division. She should have gone to Smackdown. C grading for this draft pick.
Darren Young to Raw. I don’t think he’s ready, for either a Raw spot or a title shot against The Miz. D- and that’s being generous.
Kalisto to Smackdown. D+ because this one just doesn’t hold enough weight for me to care one way or another.
Sin Cara to Raw. Sin Cara falls into the same camp as his former partner Kalisto. Although, he might see a big career booster once cruiserweight gets going. For now, a reluctant C+.
Naomi to Smackdown. D+ because she’s almost obscure enough to just get released from the company.
Jack Swagger to Raw. I like it. He’s a worker, he’s big, and the fans dig him. A- decision.
The Ascension to Smackdown. I am giving this an F because Ascension should have never come up from NXT in the first place. They aren’t main roster material and they have been nothing but the job-squad ever since they came up.
The Dudley Boyz to Raw. C- for this decision. They should be no higher than Smackdown.
Zack Ryder to Smackdown. What the heck, I’ll get on board with WWE’s decision to suddenly push the guy. Give this draft decision an A-.
Summer Rae to Raw. Do I like this? I don’t know. Haven’t really seen her as of late. It depends in what capacity she joins the Raw Roster. We’ll give this an apprehensive C.
Apollo Crews to Smackdown. This one irritated me. I really wanted to see him get a slight push and be well received by the fans. Seems like Smackdown isn’t the place for that. B- for this, and hopefully Crews can keep the smile on his face.
Mark Henry to Raw was another baffling decision. Henry, Kane, Big Show, and Jericho should have all been sent to Smackdown to be used sparingly. That being said, I like Henry. And if we actually get to see him running some matches, this could be a B pick.
Alexa Bliss to Smackdown was a bit of a shocker. But this is well deserved. She has really earned her place in NXT lately. I think she’s ready, so let’s give her a chance. I’m rolling with this one. Even A.
Braun Strowman to Raw. I am giving this a D grading because Strowman only made it to Raw because Vince McMahon loves giants. Nothing more. His skill level is not Raw quality.
Breezango to Smackdown. I wish they had split the pair up. Tyler Breeze is talented, but them going to Smackdown as a tag team is dismal. Especially if they go against American Alpha. The skill just is not there. C- is my vote here.
Bo Dallas to Raw. Giving yet another F. I dislike this guy and having him on Raw is a waste of all our time.
Eva Marie to Smackdown. What grade is lower than an F? The test score is so low I may just not grade the test and ask the dean to kick her out of school on an expulsion. She is one of the worst female wrestlers I have ever seen and she should stay off any WWE programming.
Shining Stars to Raw. These guys haven’t done anything at all to warrant being taken to Raw. D- for me.
The Vaudevillians to Smackdown. Finally a team that can go against American Alpha. I like the decision. A-
Alicia Fox to Raw. Meaningless roster pick that just took up a spot that could have been better suited for someone with way more talent. D-
Erick Rowan to Smackdown. I’m okay with this. He’s definitely a B+ player and belongs on the B+ show. In fact, that’s the grade we’ll give this decision.
Dana Brooke to Raw. I think her future could be bright, once she breaks away from Charlotte. Good choice and the right place for her. She needs to go solo though. A-
Mojo Rawley to Smackdown. Strange callup, but if he joins Ryder and the Hype Bros become a main roster tag team, this is a really good thing. I have no complaints about this so let’s hit it with a decent A-.
Curtis Axel to Raw. Ugh. Stay off my television. No star power, and what has he done for us lately? A whole lot of nothing. Heath Slater is much better liked by the fans than Curtis Axel. I didn’t like this weird decision. D+
Carmella to Smackdown is head-scratching. She floundered a bit in NXT after Enzo and Cass left. It would make sense to bring her up and pair her back with them. Now she has to move up solo on a bigger stage and it could spell disaster for her. Not a fan of this draft pick. I’m happy for her, but she should be with her boys. C-
A couple of interesting take away’s from this draft:
- The split up of The Club. While many would view this as a negative for Gallows and Anderson, lest we forget that Finn Balor is a big member of the global Bulletclub, what he calls the Balorclub in NXT. With him and The Club being drafted to Raw, that can only mean good things. Styles gets to go be a badass solo competitor and stand on his own. And Balor can start building a new stable.
- No mention of The Undertaker, which isn’t necessarily an oversight. His status is year to year and this whole brand split might fall apart before WrestleMania next year.
- AJ Styles is solo now and is on the brand with the world title. That just made things all sorts of interesting.
- Nobody drafted Heath Slater. He got a funny segment where he was left sitting in the dark, but it is pretty shitty to not include him. He is the best guy in the Social Outcasts group. The fact that Bo Dallas got drafted and he didn’t is garbage.
- We still don’t know who Sasha Banks will have as a tag partner at Battleground, which potentially could mean we may see a few more drafts next week, including but not limited to Bayley from NXT.
- Three names surprisingly left out of the draft were Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and Eric Young. This would have been a perfect time to transition them up. They are veterans and shouldn’t hang around NXT too long.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
This is it, folks. For better or worse, Smackdown is going live. There’s no turning back. Strap in, we could be in for a bumpy ride. The show kicks off with Daniel Bryan getting a monstrous YES! chant. Stephanie McMahon, Shane, and Mick Foley are all at the top of the ramp with Bryan. Stephanie makes her first pick and she chooses Seth Rollins. Dean Ambrose is picked second for Smackdown. Those were the obvious guys, so no real surprise there. Charlotte goes next headed to Raw. Shane and Bryan then choose AJ Styles for Smackdown.
Mick says he is picking an NXT person next. Crowd murmurs. He says Finn Balor’s name. Then John Cena’s music hits. So instead of bringing out Finn Balor, they show his picture and then introduce Cena. Brilliant. Just got called up and Balor is already getting shit on. Why did they burn that at the very start of the show? It would have been a great time to bring him out right at the end and have him ask to be in the draft.
Then AJ Styles comes out with The Club. He is already wearing a Smackdown t-shirt. Enzo Amore and Big Cass come out next. Of course John Cena just had to be the first person out during the new Smackdown premiere. Gallows wrestling Cena with the other guys just standing ringside. Commercial break about thirty seconds into the match. Less than two minutes after we return from commercial Cena hits an Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall. Just the fact they started the new show out with this has turned me off to the whole thing. This is supposed to be a new era. But somehow it feels just like the old one. Literally another commercial. The only good thing to take away from this so far is that Roman Reigns hasn’t been mentioned. Either he is coming out tonight, or his stock has really plummeted after his wellness violation.
Nevermind. We come back from the commercial and first thing Mick Foley does is pick Reigns for Raw. John Cena goes next to Smackdown. Thank god he won’t be on Raw anymore. Notice Cena and his clone, Reigns, went at the same time. Stephanie picks Brock Lesnar for Raw. Daniel Bryan chooses Randy Orton for Smackdown. Stephanie takes The New Day to Monday Night Raw. Rusev and The Miz vs Zack Ryder and Darren Young in a tag match. So far this new Smackdown is total shit. Another crap match. But at least we are less than a half hour in and we are seeing our second match. That’s a plus. Match is too fast and gets a little sloppy. This is a weird match to include Rusev. He doesn’t exactly match up well with the other three guys. Darren Young makes The Miz tap out with a Chicken Wing submission. Nothing at all good from that match, if I’m being honest.
The Wyatt Family comes down after the break, with The New Day already in the ring. Bray Wyatt to take on Xavier Woods. Finally, a good match. Long, drawn out pacing to start with Bray doing some mat work. Only a few minutes and Sister Abigail ends this one. So much for being a good match. This one is almost a squash job for Xavier. I really dislike New Day vs Wyatt Family. It’s all sorts of weird strangeness. Still, three matches in less than 45 minutes. Can’t really complain about that.
Kane in the ring after the break. Kevin Owens comes down. Before he can get to the ring, Sami Zayn attacks him from behind. They scramble into the ring and Kane hits them with a double chokeslams. This is the first segment I’ve liked all night. After, Stephanie picks Sami Zayn for Raw. Shane picks Bray Wyatt. Not The Family, just Bray. Hmm. Mick Foley picks Sasha Banks for Raw. Daniel Bryan picks Becky Lynch and calls her the best female wrestler. That is a huge overstatement. Chris Jericho to Raw. I will be grading all these picks in an article tomorrow. Jericho is definitely getting an F.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke come down to the ring. The boss, Sasha Banks comes down. Two on one handicap match. Charlotte and her lackey take quick control of the match. Charlotte tags in and Charlotte hits Natural Selection for the win. None of these matches are going very long tonight. Disappointing. Mick and Stephanie select Rusev and Lana. The Miz and Maryse go to Smackdown. Kevin Owens to Raw. Baron Corbin to Smackdown. Enzo and Big Cass to Raw. Side note: Mick Foley called himself a “Certified G-M.” Classic comedy gold, and you can’t. Teach. That.
Cesaro versus Chris Jericho in a match next. Y2J has already been drafted. Cesaro has not. That’s how WWE prioritizes their picks. Cesaro goes to work early, knocking Jericho out of the ring and uppercutting him aganst the barricade. Things get back in the ring and it’s a pretty standard match. But Cesaro makes this one watchable. Nothing too much happens though. Chris Jericho wins, once again. The amount of victories this guy has in 2016 is absurd.
We come back from commercial and Becky Lynch is attacking Natalya with refs trying to separate them. The two go at it a little longer before Becky walks out. Stephanie then drafts Gallows and Anderson to Raw. American Alpha to Smackdown. Big Show to Raw. Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown, getting some nice praise from Shane. Nia Jax to Monday Night Raw. After a commercial break, Stephanie takes Neville to Raw. Natalya to Smackdown, flat response from the crowd. Cesaro is finally taken by Mick Foley. Shane takes Alberto Del Rio. Sheamus to Raw. Those are the final televised picks. There will be more later on the Network after the show.
Seth Rollins comes out. Dean Ambrose comes down. Before the announcements are finished, Rollins attacks Ambrose from behind and we go to commercial. Rollins is hyper throughout, selling himself as a man hungry for the title. I’m finally got emotionally invested in something tonight with about thirteen minutes left in the broadcast. This match is a high spot for the night, and is actually better than their Raw match last night. Superplex by Rollins off the top rope, slams Ambrose down, who rolls through it and hits Dirty Deeds for the victory. Shane and Bryan run down to celebrate. They had him a Smackdown t-shirt. Bryan starts a YES! chant for the second time tonight. That’s going to get annoying really fast with him on Smackdown every week. Dean Ambrose heads into the Battleground triple-threat match as WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Overall, for the first live episode of Smackdown this was no different than any other episode. They should have had the lottery draft on Raw and then a bunch of 3-5 star matches with some surprise NXT debuts for Smackdown. Instead, we get a rematch from Raw and a bunch of long conversations at the top of the ramp as the four leaders chose their roster. This event could have been much bigger. No, it should have been much bigger. It was hyped for months and this is the snoozefest you deliver? I’m actually ready for some new TNA this week because WWE just isn’t doing it for me lately. With a pointless pay-per-view coming up, WWE is probably going to be in creative quicksand until SummerSlam. We’ll cover the rest of the draft picks on Twitter and in a full grade article tomorrow.
Tweet of the night goes to none other than #BROKEN Matt Hardy:
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight marks the twenty-fourth time The Undertaker will compete in singles competition at WrestleMania. The stakes have never been higher and the pressure has never been greater for The Dead Man. To see what obstacle Undertaker has to overcome, we must first look back at the mountains he had to climb to get here.
Throughout the years, The Undertaker has become synonymous with WrestleMania. Each year, he added another notch to his belt, defeating another Superstar. From the first opponent at WrestleMania 7, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, to his twenty-first victory against CM Punk, Undertaker has laid to rest many high caliber wrestlers over the years.
The list of greats defeated at the hands of The Undertaker is epic. Jimmy Snuka, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, King Kong Bundy, his brother Kane twice, Triple H three times, The Big Bossman, Ric Flair, Edge, Batista, HBK twice, Randy Orton, and even Mark Henry to name a few. For twenty-one years The Undertaker went undefeated in what is now known as “The Streak.” That is until a Beast by the name of Brock Lesnar suplexed The Undertaker back to the underworld and changed the history books forever.
After his first ever WrestleMania defeat, The Undertaker returned last year to take on The New Face of Fear, Bray Wyatt. In what many thought would be a passing of the torch match, Undertaker surprised us all by moving his streak to 22-1. Bray Wyatt lost in a gallant effort and we all watched as Undertaker tried to regain his previous mystique.
This year Vince McMahon wielded his undead weapon aimed directly at his son, Shane McMahon. To up the ante, Shane will take on The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. This got many fans excited. The stipulation on the match was that if Shane McMahon wins, he gets control of Monday Night Raw, essentially gaining control of the entire WWE product. This was an interesting turn of events that got the already salivating fans to drool down their chins.
But then a new stipulation was added. If The Undertaker loses, he is no longer allowed to compete at WrestleMania. This raised a few eyebrows. In a strange way, WWE was telling it’s fans that they are aware we want a change in management, but if we get what we want we have to give up one of the most beloved traditions in pro wrestling history. Any outcome in this match now becomes a bittersweet showing. If Shane wins, he gets control of Raw and things get exciting, but we lose Undertaker. If Taker wins, we wake up Monday morning with business as usual, in other words a Vince McMahon chokehold on WWE.
It’s essentially putting the exciting Hell in a Cell match between a rock and a hard place. And what’s worse is that this match was booked to make Shane the face and Taker the heel. If this is Undertaker’s last WrestleMania he goes into it being booed. If he wins the match and beats the hero Shane McMahon, he’ll get booed out of the arena. It’s quite the dilemma. When the final bell tolls, WWE will never be the same one way or another.
Article by Jamie Curtis baker
Billed as “X-Seven”, there are many in the pro wrestling community who say that WrestleMania 17 is one of, if not the, best Mania of all time. Today we’ll be giving it a play-by-play to see if they’re right and to get excitement building for WrestleMania 32 in Texas next weekend. Ironically enough, X-Seven also took place in Texas, down in Houston at the Astrodome.
First and foremost, we must address that Limp Bizkit did the theme song, which is hilarious to look back on and see that was ever a thing. The company was still WWF back in 2001, and being sponsored by Snickers Cruncher. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are rocking the commentary. Chris Jericho kicks off the show and he gets a huge pop. One forgets how big he was back in the day when he first debuted in the company. Y2J was the Intercontinental Champion then and he’s putting the title on the line against William Regal. For the younger crowd, that’s the old British guy who makes decisions on camera with NXT. But at one point he wrestled and was a damn fine in-ring performer. In 2001, he wrestled but was also the WWE Commissioner, similar to his role now.
The match gets underway in fast paced action, with Y2J going on the offensive, leaving Regal reeling. It doesn’t take long for Jericho to jump over the top rope and hit Regal outside the ring. Top rope shortly after again and Jericho hits him with an elbow. Regal gets some slow grinding ground work in and tries for a pin. The top turnbuckle is exposed and Y2J takes a few hits against it. The crowd is lively, chanting for Jericho. Regal suplexes Jericho off the top rope, which looks awkward with Regal taking the lead but he manages to pull it off. Jericho recovers and tries for the Walls of Jericho. Regal reverses it into a Regal Stretch submission. Jericho reaches the ropes and the ref breaks the hold. Now it’s Regal’s turn to be thrown into the exposed turnbuckle. Jericho hits a suplex, a lionsault and the one-two-three pinfall to retain. A really exciting match with two great competitors, but had it gone on any longer they would have overstayed their welcome.
Shane McMahon arrives in a limo. APA is shown playing cards, with JBL getting them fired up. Right To Censor comes out to heated boos. I remember these guys back in the day. They were the worst. They always came out and covered up the female wrestlers when they were stripping their clothes. They have one of the most annoying entrance themes of all time. They try to speak on the mic, but Taz’s music cuts them off and he walks out, followed shortly by APA. The fight starts at the bottom of the ramp and all hell breaks loose. All the men fight before finally getting in the ring and the ref rings the bell. JBL gets a hot tag because he’s from Texas, crowd goes wild. The amazing thing to see in this match is the fast pace. These guys don’t stop moving. There’s no dead air, there’s no showboating. They just wrestle. The difference between old school and now is easily seen. JBL hits Godfather with a clothesline and APA with Taz pick up the victory.
Raven, the Hardcore Champion, comes out with a shopping cart full of foreign objects. His competitors are Kane and Big Show. JR calls it a “three-way gut check.” Kane and Raven start fighting before Show comes out. Kane throws Raven at Big Show, then Kane jumps off the top rope and takes both men out. The match spills out into the crowd as Big Show and Kane beat the hell out of each other as those in attendance scream in excitement. Raven comes in with a street sign and hits Kane over the head. Kane throws Raven into a wall but is stopped by Big Show and gets slammed onto a stack of shipping pallets. Show throws Raven into a fenced in area, Kane quickly recovers and the two big men go at it. Raven wraps a hose around Kane’s neck and tries to choke him out. Kane throws him through the fence and then through a pane of glass. Big Show throws Kane through a door! This is amazing! Kane and Big Show throw each other through a wall. Raven is waiting on the other side with a card table. He hits them both, hops on a golf cart and drives off. Big Show hops on the back and wrecks the cart. Kane and the ref get on their own cart and speed towards Big Show and Raven. Kane runs Raven over! Raven is bleeding. Big Show throws Raven through a concession stand. It’s obvious all three men are tired. The fight bursts out from the entrance ramp and they are finally back in front of the crowd. Big Show tries to throw Raven, but Kane kicks him and both men fall through a wooden box at the side of the ring. Kane drops a leg on Big Show and wins the Hardcore title! What a match. Wow. Really exciting stuff. Makes me wish the Hardcore Championship still existed. People forget that Kane has been doing his thing for years.
Latino Heat comes out, lead by the late, great Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero is set to take on Test (c) for the European Championship. Both these guys are dead now, which is sad, especially for Eddie as he was one of the best guys to ever lace up wrestling boots. Good action in this one. Test gets his foot caught in the rope and Saturn takes some cheap shots as the ref is distracted by Guerrero. Eddie goes to work on Test’s knee. Test hits a devastating tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie hits a low blow, Saturn comes in and suplexes Test. Eddie goes for the pinfall but Test kicks out. Eddie hits a brain buster. Test hops up and blocks a frog splash. Dean Melenko comes down and pulls Test off when he is about to win via pinfall. The ref gets distracted and Guerrero hits Test with the title. Eddie Guerrero is the new European Champion. Good match with clever interference.
Kurt Angle is set to take on Chris Benoit. I will say that sentence again, because it’s like dropping a nuclear bomb. Kurt Angle is set to take on Christ Benoit. Face to Heel will have an article about Chris Benoit coming next weekend. Right now, we’re going to sit back and enjoy this one. It starts violently fast, going to the mat and each man trying to gain a hold on the other. They trade takedowns. This is pure wrestling. And the crowd is showing respect to both men, knowing the weight of this match. Neither man has the upper hand, as both are submission and reversal experts. They fight for leverage. Benoit nearly locks the Crippler Crossface on, but Angle smartly gets to the rope before the move can be fully applied. Benoit tries again, and again Angle gets to the rope. Angle rolls out to catch his breath. Once back in the ring, Benoit tries again but once again Angle rope breaks. They both spill out of the ring and start doing more traditional “American wrestling.” Angle slams Benoit into the announce table and then the steel steps. Back in the ring, Angle suplexes Benoit and then gets a heated reaction from the crowd as he shows how impressed he is with himself. The story being told in this mach is wonderful. Both men have good in-ring psychology. Benoit hits a superplex off the top rope and both men are down. Benoit locks his arms around Angle and hits him with two suplexes. Angle reverses the third and hits the ankle lock submission. Benoit reverses it and locks in Angle’s ankle! He hits the Crippler Crossface and Angle counters into his own Crossface! The ground game in this match is out of this world exceptional. Benoit puts the Crippler Crossface on and Angle taps, but the ref has been hurt and is no where to be seen. Angle hits the Olympic Slam but Benoit kicks out at two. The crowd is in a frenzy. Angle claims to the top rope and tries a moonsault but hits nothing but Benoit’s knees. Benoit pops up, climbs the top rope and pummels Angle with a flying headbutt. Angle quickly rolls up Benoit, cheats by holding his trunks, and gets the pinfall win. Really the only acceptable outcome for this match is somebody had to cheat. These guys were way too evenly matched.
Later, Angle is being interviewed backstage and Benoit attacks him from behind, locking in the Crossface and Angle taps and squeals. Holy shit. Next up is Ivory vs Chyna for the Women’s Championship. Outstanding. The promo package leading up this is fantastic. The champion, Ivory, comes out first to the annoying Right To Censor music. Chyna’s music hits and the crowd erupts. She is one of the best female competitors of all time. Chyna looks amazing. She is holding a pyrotechnic gun and she shoots fireworks into the air. She is wearing purple and pink, instead of her usually black. Before the match begins, Ivory clocks her with the title. Ivory goes after Chyna’s neck immediately, a spot where she recently had surgery. Chyna regains the upperhand and tosses Ivory across the ring. Chyna hits a strong powerbomb and goes for the pinfall. At the two count, Chyna lets her up so she can keep beating her. Chyna lifts Ivory above her head and lets her fall to the mat. Chyna lays on Ivory and gets the pinfall. Chyna is the new champ. Short match, but well sold and well told. No complaints.
Next Sunday, Shane McMahon is set to take on The Undertaker thanks to his father, Vince. However, this is not the first time the two have butted heads. Back in 2001, there was a storyline of Shane buying WCW and going head to head with his father. At WrestleMania 17, the whole thing would be decided with Shane McMahon taking on Vince McMahon in a Street Fight. WCW wrestlers are shown in a skybox cheering on Shane. Shane introduces the special guest referee, hardcore legend, Mick Foley. Vince comes out, slaps his son and Mick rings the bell. He chokes Shane in the corner, screaming in his face. Stephanie is ringside, cheering on her father. Doesn’t take long for her to interfere, jumping into the ring and slapping Shane. The fight heads up the ramp. Shane clocks Vince with a metal sign. They make their way over to the announce tables and Shane begins a vicious attack with a kendo stick. Shane hits Vince with a TV from the Spanish announce table. He lays Vince on the table and climbs to the top rope. He tries to land on Vince but Stephanie pulls him away and Shane sends himself through the table. Trish Stratus brings a “sedated” Linda McMahon to the ring in a wheelchair. Trish slaps Vince, Stephanie attacks Trish, and Trish beats the brakes off of Stephanie in the ring. The crowd is crazed, on their feet screaming. Mick pulls Stephanie away from Trish, and gets a slap in the face for his effort. Stephanie runs away and Trish and Mick chase after her. Vince notices Linda and goes to attack her, but Foley returns and stops him, rolling her away. Vince attacks Mick from behind with a steel chair. Vince puts Linda into the ring. He sits Linda in a chair in the corner and rolls out to go get Shane. Vince throws his son in front of his wife and then pulls garbage cans from beneath the apron. He throws four into the ring and goes to work denting them on Shane. Linda stands up and kicks Vince in the junk. Mick jumps into the ring and begins clobbering Vince. Vince is down in the corner. Shane gets up, holding a trash can. The crowd is absolutely going ape shit. Shane puts the trash can on Vince’s chest. Shane crosses to the adjacent corner, climbs to the top rope and jumps across the ring and kicks the can into his father’s face. Amazing! Shane covers Vince and Mick counts to three. Shane McMahon wins. What. A. Match.
TLC 2 is up next. The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz (c), Edge and Christian. When these three teams got in a ring together, it was insanity. Tables. Ladders. Chairs. It doesn’t get any better than this. All three teams come out, the titles are hanging above the ring, and the ref starts the match. Let’s do this. Edge and Christian take a ladder into the ring and take down everybody. Matt Hardy tries to climb up to the titles but Edge clotheslines him off. Now it’s Edge’s turn to climb up. Jeff Hardy dropkicks him off. The Hardyz each climb a ladder and drop in unison on Christian. Devon is ordered to get the tables. Crowd goes wild. Two tables are brought into the ring. Bubba Ray powerbombs Jeff into Edge through a table. Three ladders stand in the ring and a table leans in one corner. All six men climb the ladders and start trading punches. All six go down in a missed spot that doesn’t come off well. Spike Dudley runs out and puts Christian through a table. Rhyno runs in. Lita runs in. Rhyno goes to slam Lita, but Spike hits him with a crotch shot. Lita takes Rhyno down, Spike hits him with a chair and he collides with a ladder sending Edge to the floor. The Dudleyz double team Rhyno. Then Lita hits Spike with a chair. She turns around and The Dudleyz hit her with a 3D! Edge and Christian take The Dudleyz out with chairs and set up some ladders. This match is too exciting, I can’t even type fast enough. Jeff Hardy jumps off a ladder doing a back flip into Rhyno and Spike through a table. There are now four ladders set up in the ring. Christian and Devon climb up to try and retrieve the belts. Matt takes the ladder away and both men hang from the belts. Devon goes down. Christian hangs on for a brief moment but then falls. Jeff Hardy walks across the tops of the ladders. He sets one up and reaches for the belts. Jeff hangs on for dear life and Edge spears him out of the air. Amazing. Bubba Ray and Matt Hardy fight at the top the ladder for the belts, but Rhyno dumps the ladder and both men go through a huge setup of tables outside the ring, garnering a “HOLY SHIT!” chant from the crowd. Christian makes his way up and grabs the belts. Edge and Christian are the new tag champs.
Next up is a Gimmick Battle Royal, which might be one of the most hilarious things WWE has ever done. It’s a nice way to cleanse the pallet. After Vince/Shane and TLC2, people need to have some laughs and let their resting heart rate go down. Mean Gene Okerlund comes out, along with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to work commentary. The Bushwhackers, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, The Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink the Clown, Kamala, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael P.S. Hayes, One Man Gang, The Gobbly Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and Sgt. Slaughter are the competitors. The Repo Man is out first. This one goes pretty fast because they spent twenty minutes bringing everyone out. The Iron Sheik wins a very dysfunctional, albeit funny, match. Sgt Slaughter keeps in the ring and puts the Cobra Clutch on Sheik.
Motorhead plays Triple H out. He’s set to take on The Undertaker. The promo package leading up to this is brilliant. The Undertaker comes out on a motorcycle to Limp Bizkit theme music. The American Badass was easily one of the strangest gimmicks Undertaker ever did. It was cool for what it was, but it was weird as shit. Both men are in their prime and this match delivers. Triple H gets his sledgehammer out (not a euphemism) and brings it into the ring. He throws the ref aside and goes to hit Taker, but the ref pulls the sledgehammer away. Triple H goes for a Pedigree but Undertaker reverses it and throws Triple H into the ref. Chokeslam on Triple H, the ref starts counting but he kicks out at two. Then The Undertaker assaults the ref. They fight out to the sound booth and Taker goes on the offense, beating HHH down. HHH gets his hands on a steel chair and goes to work on Taker, landing multiple shots. HHH tries one more shot but Undertaker grabs him for a chokeslam and he throws HHH off the platform, earning a second “HOLY SHIT!” chant of the night. Undertaker jumps off landing an elbow on HHH. They fight through the crowd. Undertaker gets the sledgehammer, goes to hit HHH, but takes a desperate low blow. The ref has been down this entire time in the greatest sell job of all time. The two men trade blows in the ring. Triple H picks Taker up for a Tombstone, but Taker counters it and hits his own Tombstone. Taker covers him but the ref is still out. Undertaker lifts Triple H for a powerbomb, but he’s holding the sledgehammer. Taker gets clocked and HHH falls on top of him. Ref wakes up and starts counting, but Taker kicks out at two. Undertaker is bleeding from his scalp now. HHH smells blood and starts punching him in the corner. Undertaker hits him with a Last Ride out of nowhere and the triple count. The American Badass prevails. Crowd explodes.
Now just look at the matchcard so far. So many talented wrestlers and matches. But we haven’t even reached the main event yet which is the extraordinary rivalry between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. The Rock comes in as champion in a match that many view as the touchstone to The Attitude Era. A perfect finality to wrap the Monday Night Wars up and end the feud between the two hottest stars ever in the company. Austin comes out to maybe one of the biggest pops in WrestleMania history. JR has to scream on commentary to be heard. The Rock comes out as the bad guy, being mostly booed. As soon as the bell rings, Austin explodes at Rock and it’s on. Rock goes for a Rock Bottom early, blocked. Austin tries a Stunner, blocked. Austin dumps Rock out of the ring. This match is no DQ. Rock topples over the railing and Austin follows, as they fight into the crowd. Security struggles to keep the crowd at bay. They return to the announce tables and Rock smashes Austin’s head into the table. Austin knocks Rock down and knees him in the face. They get back in the ring. Austin tries a couple pins but Rock keeps kicking out at two. The crowd is eating right out of their hands. There’s absolutely no doubt these are two of the biggest superstars ever. Austin hits Rock in the face with the ring bell. Rock is busted open. Austin beats his ass for several minutes. Rock finally gets some offense and the crowd boos him. Rock gets the ring bell and busts Austin open. Goes for the pin and Austin barely kicks out. Both men bleeding. Austin barely makes it to his feet and Rock keeps punching him down. They go back outside the ring and Austin hits Rock with an announce table monitor. Everything here is destroyed and it’s carnage.
Back in the ring, Rock locks in a Sharp Shooter and Austin screams and bleeds all over the ring. He tries for the ropes but The Rock drags him back to the middle. Austin claws to the ropes and gets the hold broken by the ref. (Even though this is supposed to be no DQ…) Austin locks in his own Sharp Shooter but The Rock manages to kick out of it. Austin goes to work on Rock’s knee. Another Sharp Shooter by Austin. The Rock breaks it by getting to the ropes. Austin locks in an old school move called the Million Dollar Dream. Rock starts fading, but rallies. He throws Austin on his back and almost gets a three count. The Rock hits a Stunner on Austin, crowd infuriated. Rock goes for a cover and Austin narrowly kicks out. Vince McMahon comes out, crowd calls him an asshole in a colorful chant. Austin hits Rock with a spine buster, but Rock kicks out at two. Rock hits his own spine buster and sets up for the People’s Elbow. He lands it and covers Austin. Vince runs in and pulls Rock off him. The Rock chases Vince around and back into the ring. Austin hits Rock with a Rock Bottom but the champ kicks out at two and a half. The ref gets knocked out of the ring. Austin low blows Rock. Austin asks for Vince to bring a chair into the ring. Austin holds Rock as Vince whacks him with the chair. Austin covers, but no ref. Vince throws the ref in the ring and he starts a slow count. Rock kicks out again! Rock hits a Rock Bottom, but Vince distracts the ref. Rock pulls Vince in the ring and lays the smackdown on him. He turns around, Austin hits a Stunner, but again Rock kicks out at two! Crowd is about to set the whole building on fire! McMahon gives Austin a steel chair. Austin knocks Rock down, but another kick out at two. Austin flips off the ref and goes to work stamping Rock in the midsection with a steel chair. Then he beats him in the back with chair shots. Austin covers and finally….The Rock has been beaten in Texas! Stone Cold is the champion.
He squares up eye to eye with Vince McMahon and shakes his hand. Austin calls for a couple cold ones. He and Vince cheers and chug ’em down. They cheers another round. Austin collects his belt and makes his way to the corners to flip off the crowd. Heyman says Austin has sold out his fans. Rock gets up and Austin hits him with the title. McMahon holds out a beer and the belt to Austin and they walk up the ramp together. JR ends the broadcast yelling, “Why did Stone Cold Steve Austin sell his soul to Satan himself?!”
Commentary Review: An excellent job by both men. Heyman feeds beautifully off of JR. The fact that neither Michael Cole or Jerry Lawler are there or talking just goes to remind me of how much I hate Cole and Lawler on commentary. Heyman and JR sold every move and put their mark distinctly on each match. You can see a stark difference in the flow of commentary then and now. Something has been lost and WWE needs to seriously work to get back the magic of match play by play.
Venue Review: The Astrodome was made for wrestling. The crowd is huge and involved. They cheer, they boo, they react. In fact, they spent most of the pay-per-view on their feet screaming. The sound and lighting is well done. The pyrotechnics all go off perfectly timed with no issues. Having Texas heroes JBL and later Stone Cold in the main event really helped get the crowd into their hometown boys. Production all the way around has everyone at the top of their game. 67,925 people in attendance, and they were heard.
Match Review: This one is just exciting throughout. Fast paced action, very few flat moments. Every guy earned their right to be there. The booking on this event is outstanding. It just builds into a fever pitch and never takes the foot off the accelerator. You never get a chance to catch your breath. It’s one amazing moment after another. At the height of The Attitude Era, WWE was swinging for the fences and hitting everything out of the park. The roster was stacked, beyond belief. The matches were on fire. This is the peak of badass wrestling.
Final Verdict: It’s hard to find many flaws with this broadcast. Even the Gimmick Battle Royal had nostalgia and comedy. Without watching every single WrestleMania and then judging them all, it’s also hard to say that X-Seven was the best Mania ever. However, the arguments are there. Those who say it is, have all the validity they need as you can read above. It is definitely one of the most entertaining, jaw-dropping pay-per-views WWE has ever put on. The atmosphere was electricity. This is 3 hours and 57 minutes of pure wrestling gold.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight Madison Square Garden will host WWE Live on the Road to WrestleMania. This was initially billed as Daniel Bryan Appreciation Night, with the recently retired star scheduled to appear, but Bryan was pulled from this and multiple other upcoming WWE events leading up to and after Mania. The WWE issued a statement saying that he “requested time off and it was granted.” MSG released a much better statement, apologizing for the inconvenience and promising that the event to honor Bryan was simply postponed. It’s unlikely that this house show will air on the Network, which is a shame because it’s shaping up to be a great night. We have no Divas match scheduled, but Charlotte is scheduled to appear, along with Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Lana, and Alicia Fox. Let’s take a look at the MSG match card and make some predictions
The New Day (c) vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Usos – Tag Title Match
There is a possibility that the tag match at WrestleMania will feature multiple teams competing, so perhaps this is a way to lead into that. Our reigning champions have gone from being a running joke to one of the most popular teams we’ve got. Their unicorn-fueled mission to avoid being booty has gotten over with the crowd, and they’ve had a very successful two-time reign. The Dudleys seemed to be on track to get the titles when they returned to the WWE, but their title chances seem to be a thing of the past now that the Usos are back. That being said, anything can happen after WrestleMania, so maybe they’ll get their moment at SummerSlam.
WINNERS: New Day
Kane & Big Show vs The Wyatt Family
Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman are said to be competing, but with Wyatt’s rumored back injury (and recent tendencies to observe instead of participate), this may be a 2-on-1 handicap or feature Luke Harper and/or Erick Rowan instead. I hope this is about redemption for the Wyatt Family because they need it more than anyone right now. The new face of fear hasn’t been competing, the family has suffered more losses than wins, and their forward momentum always seems to come to an abrupt halt at the worst possible time. The family needs to reestablish their dominance and they need to do it now.
WINNERS: Kane & Big Show via Disqualification
Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz
Ziggler and The Miz have been going back and forth lately as they try to maneuver into the IC title picture. Both men will be part of a 7-man ladder match at WrestleMania to compete for that title, so this match is a good way to build towards that. Being that this is a house show and the entire roster will not be present, it’s hard to say whether we’ll see interference from the other Mania opponents. It would be interesting to at least have one or two of the competitors ringside, especially if it’s Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens will be around to cause trouble if he isn’t too busy preparing for his own match, so things could get interesting.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler
Kalisto (c) vs Ryback vs Alberto Del Rio – US Title Match
Kalisto is obviously the underdog in this match; he’s at a size disadvantage as it is with one opponent, nevermind two. The outcome of this match could shift the plans for WrestleMania, though I don’t see a title change getting wasted at a non-televised event when we already have something set up for next weekend. That said, if Creative is worried about possibly cutting the Mania US Title match due to time restrictions, they could use this match as a way to cover their bases. The Mania match can be turned into a short backstage segment instead featuring the aftermath of whatever happens at MSG, which saves time while still having the title be present. I don’t think it will go this way, but you can never tell with WWE sometimes.
Kevin Owens (c) vs AJ Styles – IC Title Match
I’m curious to know what Chris Jericho’s plans are for Friday night, because it makes sense for him to be around to screw with Styles. There is a chance we will see Styles vs Jericho at WrestleMania, so it would make sense for Jericho to be around. Alternately, we could leave the Jericho story behind and use this match as a way to make the Mania ladder match an 8-man event. The fans support Styles and it would be exciting to see him in such a dynamic match with 7 very different competitors. I’m hoping the second option is what we’re working towards; Styles has been on fire lately and needs something more than rematch after rematch with Jericho.
WINNER: Kevin Owens
Sheamus & Triple H vs Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose
This is the first time Triple H will be competing at Madison Square Garden in nearly five years, and will have him facing his WrestleMania opponent, Roman Reigns. Since this is a tag match, there is a chance that we won’t see Triple H directly face off with Reigns at all; they could choose to save every bit of that action for Mania and use quick tags to keep Triple H away from Reigns. I don’t think they will hold back though since this won’t be televised; I imagine that Triple H and Reigns are the ones to end this match. For those who are disappointed that we won’t see Ambrose and Brock Lesnar face off in some way, try to keep in mind that Lesnar’s house show performances are a hell of a lot shorter than his PPV performances, so we aren’t missing much. Regardless of who is in the ring, this match is going to be all about Roman Reigns and his determination to take down Triple H and earn back the title he sees as his.
WINNERS: Reigns & Ambrose
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker