As we predicted earlier, the 2016 TLC is set to be a spectacle. This is one of the premiere events of the year and the fact that it is a Smackdown Live exclusive has us excited that perhaps it will be a really powerful pay-per-view for WWE. Without further ado, let’s get into the show with our live play-by-play, match results and instant feedback.
The pre-show gave us some tag team action to get things going. American Alpha, Hype Bros and Apollo Crews took on The Vaudevillians, The Ascension and Curt Hawkins. Whole lot of silliness and antics throughout this one. Too many goofy personalities crammed into one match. As a general rule, I’m not a fan of massive tag team matches. Ten competitors outside of a Royal Rumble or a battle royale is far too many. The Alphas did pretty solid and the match wasn’t flat by any stretch of the term. All ten guys put on a great show for the crowd, who were lively and behind the match. In the end Gable and Jordan pick up the pinfall for their team. Okay match with the correct ending.
The first match as the show begins is for the Smackdown Live tag team titles. The Wyatt Family (featuring Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt) challenging Heath Slater and Rhyno. This match was a little short in my opinion. Solid action. The finish was Wyatt distracting Rhyno and Orton hit him with an RKO out of nowhere. After the match, Orton and Bray put the titles on Harper’s shoulders and then posed for the crowd. Very interesting booking here. This is the first time heels have held these titles. It will be fun to see what they do with it. Give it up for Smackdown always pushing the unexpected into our laps. With the pre-show victory, one has to assume American Alpha will be coming down the line to challenge The Wyatt Family for their new shiny belts.
Next up is a No Disqualification match between Nikki Bella and Carmella. As feuds go, this one is ice cold. It doesn’t really do anything in the grander scheme for either woman or the viewing audience. But, a No DQ match is usually a good way to keep me interested. There’s always the possibility of serious injury or death, two things I have often wished on Nikki Bella (and her boyfriend). Carmella dominates to start and eventually ties Nikki upside down in the corner. She gets a kendo stick out and hits Nikki in the stomach. Nikki turns the table when she sprays Carmella in the face with a fire extinguisher. Rack Attack 2.0 lays Carmella out and Nikki picks up the pinfall win. After the match, Carmella gets on the mic and says she didn’t attack Nikki at Survivor Series. She tells her it was Natalya. Duh, we all knew that the moment it happened.
It’s not even 9:00PM yet and the third match is about to start. That seems odd. Half their matches in the first hour? Maybe WWE is starting to end PPV’s earlier. The next bout is Dolph Ziggler challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship in none other than a ladder match. Ziggler the aggressor to start the match. The fight spills out of the ring and Miz plants Ziggler on the ramp with a super kick. They stay outside the ring for quite awhile using ladders as weapons against one another. Ziggler hits an outstanding satellite DDT on a ladder and both men are down. Ziggler finally gets a large ladder into the ring. He attempts to set it up but Miz dropkicks him from behind.
The Miz mocks Daniel Bryan at one point with a YES! gesture right before dropkicking a ladder into Ziggler. Both men climb a ladder and trade blows right below the title. Ziggler knocks Miz off but before he can recover, Miz yanks him down. Miz goes to work on Ziggler’s leg, slamming it into a ladder over and over. Miz wraps Ziggler’s leg through a ladder wrung and then locks in a Figure Four leglock. Ouch. Miz then hits a Skull Crushing Finale into a ladder. Miz sets up a ladder and tries to grab the belt. Ziggler knocks the ladder away and Miz is hanging from the belt! Ziggler slams the ladder into his knee and Miz falls to the mat and rolls out of the ring. Ziggler climbs up the ladder on one leg, but before he gets to the top, Miz runs in and powerbombs him into a ladder. The pair are at the top of a ladder again and then Ziggler starts hitting Miz with headbutts. Miz falls down. Miz pops up and kicks Ziggler in the junk. Twice. Ziggler crumples to the mat as Miz climbs up and retains his IC title.
As ladder matches go, nothing groundbreaking happens. It’s hard to top some of the epic matches we’ve seen in the past. But it is entertaining throughout. Both men bring their a-game. The crowd was really behind Ziggler so the finish was booed, but it was actually really great. I enjoyed that bout. Best match so far tonight. After the match, The Miz gets on the mic and dedicates his victory to Daniel Bryan.
Next match is a chairs match between Baron Corbin and Kalisto. As you might expect, Corbin dominates to start this match, spilling the action out around the ring. He manhandles Kalisto like a paper doll. Kalisto rallies with some nice offense and the two manage to get some oh’s and ah’s from the crowd with some pretty devastating moves, ie: violence. Kalisto dives out of the ring towards Corbin, but he catches the tiny Lucha and hits a Deep Six on the floor. In the ring, Corbin covers but Kalisto kicks out. Corbin hits End of Days on a pile of chairs and that’s the ballgame. A breakout out match for both guys, really. Very nice to watch. The arena crowd was flat, but make no mistake that this was a really great match to watch.
Natalya is interviewed and asked about attacking Nikki. Instead she wishes Becky Lynch luck in her title defense. Then she calls the comments Carmella made absurd and calls her a liar. Natalya versus Nikki or Carmella is not a very promising feud. Let’s hope they skip that and move on to something else. This interview did segue nicely into the next match. Alexa Bliss challenging Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a tables match. Both ladies aggressive to start. Becky is the first to set a table up outside the ring, but Alexa stops her from utilizing it. The crowd is shit throughout this one, chanting for other things unrelated to the match. Charlotte and Sasha spoiled us on Raw this past week, but Becky and Alexa are putting on a good show. Outside the ring, Alexa powerbombs Becky through a table for the win! What!? That’s exciting! Alexa Bliss is my favorite female on both rosters so this is really great. Yes!
The main event of the night is Dean Ambrose challenging AJ Styles in a traditional TLC match for the WWE World Championship. The championship hangs high above the ring. Ambrose going right after the champ as soon as the bell rings. Ambrose clotheslines Styles outside the ring. He follows the champ out and they fight up the ramp. This spills out into the crowd. Ambrose is all over the map. He puts a trash can on Styles and hits him near the announce table with a chair. He gets in the ring and sets up a ladder, but Styles recovers enough to stop him, planting him on the mat. Styles takes control as the crowd rallies behind him, chanting his name.
Ambrose pounds Styles into a group of chairs, garnering a “Holy Shit!” chant from the crowd. Ambrose throws Styles through the metal legs of a table. Styles bounces back and suplexes Ambrose through a table. Wow, a really terrific few minutes of action. Goodness. Dirty Deeds and Phenomenal Forearm both countered, respectively, and then Ambrose throws Styles out of the ring. Ambrose puts Styles on one announce table and sets a ladder up on a second table. Ambrose off the ladder, dropping an elbow into Styles, crashing through the announce table. Mauro Ranallo screams, “Oh my god!” and then the announce team falls silent as the crowd chants, “This is awesome!”
Ambrose leaves Styles in the wreckage and gets a ladder into the ring. He climbs towards the belt. Styles gets on the apron and leaps off the top rope to hit a Phenomenal Forearm, knocking Ambrose off the ladder. They both recover and crawl up either side of the ladder. They knock each other off the ladder and then Ambrose spins Styles into the ladder. Styles sets Ambrose on a table outside the ring and does a 450 splash off the top rope, driving Ambrose through the table. Styles sets a ladder up in the ring as James Ellsworth comes down. Styles foregoes the ladder and goes after Ellsworth. Ambrose hops up and hits Dirty Deeds on the steel steps.
Ambrose scrambles into the ring and sets up a ladder under the title. Ambrose gets up two rungs before Styles joins him on the ladder. Ambrose knocks him off the ladder and out of the ring. Just as Ambrose is reaching for the title Ellsworth tips the ladder over and Ambrose goes through two tables! Ellsworth cheers on Styles has he sets up a ladder and slowly works his way to the top. Styles grabs his title and retains. What a fantastic match. Easily the best match of the night. Bravo. Once again, Smackdown Live has outdone themselves, continuing to stand out within the WWE brand split.
What did you think of tonight’s pay-per-view? Let us know in the comments below! See you all tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis 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
After WWE tweeted that not only would Becky Lynch not be able to compete at the No Mercy PPV due to medical reasons, but that the main event would start the show, my husband decided that we would skip writing a results article and just try to enjoy the show. The first Smackdown exclusive PPV, Backlash, had a terrible card but turned out to be a great three hours, so I went into No Mercy with a healthy amount of optimism. My mistake.
Curt Hawkins was initially going to have his debut match at No Mercy, but instead popped out randomly during the preshow at around 7:15pm EST before the majority of fans were even in their seats. He walked to the ring to a list of Chuck Norris-type facts while waving around a walking stick. Hawkins announced that his first match would actually be on October 11th on Smackdown, and the crowd couldn’t care less. This was such a poor choice for what was meant to be a strong debut.
The preshow kickoff match featured The Hype Bros and American Alpha versus The Ascension and The Vaudevillains. It was a solid fight, with the Hype Bros and American Alpha picking up the win after a nine minute match. I don’t think this was the best use of the preshow though. We have an entire hour to eat up, and the match only gets 15% of that time? We don’t need to hear Jerry Lawler sexually harass female talent for 45 minutes. Give us longer and better preshow matches.
Our first match was the “main event” where AJ Styles successfully defended his title against John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat match. Styles actually tapped out, but because both Cena and Ambrose simultaneously had a submission hold on him, the match was restarted. First off, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this main event opened the PPV. I thought that maybe they were saving something else for the end of the night, but that wasn’t the case at all. Perhaps they moved it so it wasn’t airing during the debate, but that doesn’t make sense either since everything is On Demand on the Network. It was a confusing move, and I still have yet to figure out why they did it.
Nikki Bella defeated Carmella in a decent match, but Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss in a match that would have been better left off the card. The women had a little over 5 minutes to compete, and it ended with Bliss throwing a fit after her loss. It makes her look weak and childish, which is a poor move considering she is the number one contender for Lynch’s title. Time and time again, we hear about the Women’s Revolution. I’m still waiting for it to begin.
The highlight of the night for me was watching Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully retain against The Usos. It was a solid match and it’s so amazing to hear Slater being cheered for, getting hot tags, and being able to actually perform in the ring instead of job out. The second high point for me was Dolph Ziggler defeating The Miz and becoming Intercontinental Champion. This was a twenty minute match of nonstop action. Online rumors had Ziggler leaving WWE to pursue a career in comedy, and I’m glad it wasn’t true.
Baron Corbin defeated the new and improved Jack Swagger in a singles match that was forgettable. Our actual main event was Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton. I was terrified that WWE was going to try and turn this into their version of Impact Wrestling’s The Great War, but they spared us. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even bother making this match a No Disqualification fight. It was good to see Bray Wyatt finally get a win, but he still didn’t get it clean thanks to a surprise return by Luke Harper. Harper didn’t interfere, simply showed up as a distraction to allow Wyatt to steal a win.
Overall, this PPV was better suited for a Tuesday night episode of Smackdown than it was for a Sunday evening. Whatever magic went into Backlash was completely lost for No Mercy. We apologize for the lack of coverage on Sunday, but have no regrets, as any article we posted was going to tear that PPV into pieces. Hopefully they can get it together by Tuesday and give their talent the better booking they deserve.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We recently brought you news on the rumored Wellness Violation that hung over Sasha Banks’ head. Fans will be happy to know that there was no truth to that rumor, but unfortunately our former women’s champion is dealing with a back injury. Banks is scheduled for an evaluation with doctors due to the pain she is dealing with in the lower lumbar area of her back. The official word is still out, but we hear that she will not require surgery and should be back in action within the next few weeks.
Not so lucky is our first Universal Champion, Finn Balor. His shoulder was injured during his Summerslam match against Seth Rollins when Balor absorbed a running power bomb to the barricade. His shoulder dislocated, and Balor popped it right back in and continued the match. The MRI that followed showed a possible labrum tear, which will require surgery and have Balor out of action for 4 to 6 months. This truly could not have come at a worse time for Balor, who was really taking off on the main roster.
Speaking of Summerslam, Brock Lesnar treated us to an ending worthy of the octagon, as he wailed on Randy Orton, hitting him with hard punches and elbows that resulted in Orton being left in a puddle of his own blood. Orton required ten staples to close the laceration on his forehead. There is a lot of speculation on whether or not Lesnar went too far with his attack, but we’ll leave that to you to decide.
NXT’s Samoa Joe suffered a dislocated jaw during his title match with our new NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. Joe was hit with two Kinshasa knee strikes, causing the dislocation of his mandible. Joe tweeted out that his jaw was dislocated, relocated, and he looks forward to being cleared soon. The severity of the injury is still unknown, so we’re not sure when we’ll see him back in action.
Also still out of action is Luke Harper, who suffered a knee injury and underwent successful surgery, Sting, who suffered a neck injury, Emma, who underwent back surgery, and Tyson Kidd who suffered a neck injury and underwent successful surgery. There is no timetable for any of their returns. Paige is also suffering neck and back injuries that she is personally working to strengthen. She is currently suspended due to a Wellness Policy Violation, so we may or may not see her back in the ring when the suspension lifts. We wish everyone a speedy recovery and will bring you updates as they become available.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
The WWE Drafts had me on edge for a number of reasons. There were so many ways that this could go wrong, and so many obvious right choices that could be overlooked. What worried me the most was the danger of splitting up great tag teams and the six NXT draft picks. Certain pairings would be just fine going solo, but other teams simply aren’t meant to part ways just yet. As far as the NXT picks, my worry was that their debuts would be ruined by the announcements.
My fears were proved to be justified when Finn Balor was named as Raw’s third draft pick. Balor is a staple of NXT, an incredible athlete, and a huge draw. His debut was a given, but I had such high hopes for it, that hearing about it via this draft is simply a let down. Now, there is still the chance that his debut can be done in a grand fashion, but somehow announcing the intent ruins the magic that could have been. Balor’s entrance is intense and rivals The Undertaker’s as far as theatrics; I only hope WWE puts effort into making it a must see moment instead of just another 30 second walk down the ramp.
Keeping Enzo and Cass together on Raw was the right move to make, as was assuring that The New Day stayed together. Both teams are easily the best in the tag division, work incredibly well together, and still have a lot to do together as teams. Since Raw now has the best of the best in the tag division, it made perfect sense to draft NXT’s American Alpha to Smackdown; they can truly shine there with the champs and their former NXT colleagues away on Monday nights. I’m also glad to see Enzo and Cass away from John Cena, so we can finally stop seeing that unnecessary alliance. Another solid pairing is Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens both being drafted to Raw. I normally get tired of feuds after a while, but this one could go on forever and I would never tire of it.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke will both be on Raw, which wasn’t a great move. Our first Women’s champ has been hiding behind someone else during her entire reign as champion; first her father and now Dana. It makes her look incredibly weak. In a surprise move, The Wyatt family did not get to stay together; Bray and Erick Rowan are on Smackdown and Braun Strowman is on Raw. The Wyatt family needed to rebuild and strengthen their faction, not split it. Now, there is a chance that when Luke Harper returns from injury, he goes to Smackdown and the original family unites. Unfortunately for now, the family is split and won’t have a chance to redeem themselves for the embarrassment at the Wyatt compound.
Nia Jax’s draft to Raw was a pleasant surprise. I am a big fan of the women who don’t conform to the “beauty queen” standard that so many female wrestlers are unnecessarily held to. Jax is a force to be feared, but there isn’t much left for her in NXT. She has proven that she can defeat every female there except for champion Asuka, who has plenty of other contenders for her title, including fan favorite Bayley. Jax can do great things in the Women’s division on Raw, can be the one to dethrone Charlotte, either by winning the title or assisting someone else, and can give us a new standard of strength and beauty that we currently don’t have on the main roster.
Another surprise from NXT was Alexa Bliss, who is drafted to Smackdown. Formerly the manager of tag team Blake and Murphy, Bliss is a fantastic heel who isn’t afraid to embrace her comical side when the situation calls for, and who doesn’t let her small stature keep her from kicking ass. Bliss has definitely grown on me over the past few weeks and I think she can do great things for the Women’s division. She has the unfortunate luck of being drafted alongside the useless Eva Marie, so hopefully she’s able to avoid having too many matches with All Botch Everything.
Overall, I still have mixed emotions about the draft, but I’m trying to stay hopeful that the split will allow more athletes to have better opportunities and extended on-screen time. Congratulations to the NXT call-ups: Finn Balor, American Alpha, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Mojo Rawley. Please let us know what you think about the draft picks in the comments, and tweet us your favorites at @facetoheel. Below is a complete list of all draftees, minus the unfortunate Heath Slater.
The New Day
Rusev (with Lana)
Enzo and Cass
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
The Shining Stars
The Miz (with Maryse)
Alberto Del Rio
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
For those of you who didn’t see WWE’s Payback last night (and boy did you miss out because it was solid), Enzo Amore took a hard shot in the neck from the bottom rope sliding out of the ring. He smacked his head hard and rolled out of the ring unconscious. The ref immediately signaled for a medical trainer and stopped the match. No, this was not one of those scripted “works” to end a match. This was one of those truly scary moments when a professional wrestler gets injured. Enzo was carted out on a stretcher as Big Cass, according to those in attendance, stood ringside crying. It put a dark blemish on an otherwise great pay-per-view. Luckily, Enzo was discharged from the hospital shortly before midnight. All scans were negative and he was diagnosed with nothing more than a concussion. Not to be taken lightly, however, concussions can cause serious brain damage, and so we may not see Enzo wrestling for a few weeks while he recovers.
Injuries happen, sadly all too often, but they are a part of an athlete’s life. Throughout pro-wrestling, a lot of competitors are injured at the moment. Some will return soon, others may never return at all. Here is a breakdown of the major injuries across the map for the big wrestling promotions:
We’ll briefly touch on John Cena. He was out multiple months with an injured shoulder, but WWE has been making it apparent that he is scheduled to return to action on the May 30th Raw later this month. Cena has a long history of healing quickly from injuries so it shouldn’t take him long to get back to full contact competition without any ring rust.
Bray Wyatt has had a nagging calf injury that has kept him out of in-ring action since early April. Despite The Wyatt Family being featured on the WWE Payback poster, neither the Family or Bray made an appearance at the show. WWE hasn’t released any information on a possible return date for him. Although this particular injury seems minor, sometimes the small, persistent injuries are the ones that are the most meanicing, tending to linger longer than we’d expect. Meanwhile, Luke Harper suffered a pretty bad knee injury back in March that required surgery. No timetable has been set for his return either. The two best members of The Wyatt Fam are injured and that is a shame.
Neville broke his ankle in March. Not too serious an injury, but for a fast high-flyer like Neville, it’s the sort of injury that will keep him sidelined for two or three months at minimum while he recovers.
The Apex Predator, Randy Orton, is still out with a shoulder injury that has kept him away from WWE since last October. No exact time has been mentioned for his return, however at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony the night before WrestleMania, Orton told interviewers he was maybe two months away from returning to the ring. Hopefully he has a significant role to play at Summerslam later this year. Orton has a long history of shoulder problems, but he always seems to bounce back to full form.
Seth Rollins tore his ACL, MCL and medial meniscus taking on Kane at a house show late last year. If this had happened 15 or 20 years ago, it probably would have been game over for Rollins’ career. However, with the advance of medical technology many athletes outside of wrestling have recovered from this sort of thing. It may take time, but Rollins should return as good as new eventually. WWE estimated he would miss six to nine months back in November, so the latest he should return is Summerslam or shortly after. He’s been very private and guarded about the incident while he recovers and gets back to training. The resulting injury resulted in Rollins vacating the World Heavyweight Championship and leaving a big hole in the roster.
Tyson Kidd suffered a very brutal neck/spinal injury last June and details are sketchy as to whether or not he will even be able to return to the ring. He was lucky that he didn’t get paralyzed. He is expected to miss at least a full year and possibly more, if he can ever return at all. He has been missed, especially by his former tag team partner, Cesaro. Speaking of the Swiss Superman, he recently returned to action after a shoulder injury and is currently wrestling with kinesio tape as he recovers full mobility.
Nikki Bella underwent major neck surgery earlier this year. With her sister, Brie, retiring from in-ring action, there’s no telling when or even if Nikki will return. With the boom in the Women’s Division, by the time she is ready to return, there may not even be a spot for her. At least she will have the E! network.
Hideo Itami is out with a shoulder injury and WWE has stated he is “nowhere close to being able to return” to ring competition. The injury required surgery and it’s likely he will miss at least half a year before he can make his comeback on the NXT roster.
Sting suffered a neck injury last year that also spelled doom for his career. He officially retired from his short-lived WWE in-ring action at the Hall of Fame ceremony last month.
And last, but certainly not least, we all know the outcome of Daniel Bryan’s career ending concussion and neck issues. He retired earlier this year and we will never get to cheer for him as a performer again. This one is sadly permanent and WWE will miss his presence.
(Note: We did not mention Bayley in this article as her injury at a recent NXT taping was a “work” for the angle she is in. She was not legitimately hurt. It’s difficult to determine if Finn Balor is for real injured as well because of conflicting rumors online.)
TNA Impact, NJPW, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground
Davey Richards (TNA), one half of The Wolves, suffered a knee injury that sidelined him and required surgery back in February. Richards is another in a long line of ACL injuries for pro-wrestling. Richards said in an interview that he was slated to miss six to nine months, however his doctors are amazed to find he is recovering quicker than they thought. He could return sometime this summer. Most of the TNA roster is healthy for the most part. Unfortunately for Dixie Carter and company, many of their roster is jumping ship to sign with WWE.
Matt Taven (ROH) is also out with knee injury in the form of a torn ACL, that required two surgeries to repair. Doctors have timidly said his return will take a minimum of at least nine months. Worst case scenario is a year or more.
A report hit the internet after this weekend’s Lucha Underground tapings that Angelico suffered an injury to his elbow after landing awkwardly during a springboard. Matanza Cueto suffered an arm injury, slicing open a vein after punching through a glass window. He was rushed to a local hospital. While the bloody scene looked horrific, the wound was not as serious as it appeared. No update currently for Angelico, but Cueto is expected to be back in the ring next week.
The writing is on the wall here that most wrestlers take heavy impact on their knees, shoulders and necks. Make no mistake about it, professional wrestling is predetermined, but the risk these athletes take every night is not now, nor has it ever been, faked. They put their bodies on the line to entertain us, and sometimes pay a very big price. As fans, we can often take these sort of things for granted. So just for a moment, send some positive thoughts and vibes out to all those recovering from injury at the moment. We wish them all a speedy recovery.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
As with all things, it takes baby steps, but by slowly pushing Bray Wyatt as the next big powerhouse, you can setup multiple angles and storylines that reverberate throughout the entire roster. First we take Bray from right where he is now and point him in the right direction.
On Monday Night Raw, The Wyatt Family came out and attacked the League of Nations. Okay, we can springboard off this. Set up a match at Payback featuring The Wyatts vs The League in an elimination Survivor Series sort of match. Trust me, this comes into play later. Now then, the other Wyatt members never tag Bray Wyatt in. He goes the whole match without wrestling. The Wyatt Family wins in the end, but he becomes the sole target of the League of Nations.
Next night on Raw, have Bray Wyatt by himself cutting one of those creepy black room promos. Sheamus, Del Rio, and Rusev run in and attack him. This leads to making matches the next few weeks of Bray Wyatt taking on each member of the League of Nations separately, with the caveat being if any of them beat him, they get to fight him at Extreme Rules. Wyatt beats down Del Rio and Rusev strong style. Sheamus takes an ass whooping to, but he finds a way to cheat and get the win, setting up a No DQ Iron Man Match at Extreme Rules. Wyatt wins that 3-2.
At Money in the Bank, we set it up so that Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Ambrose, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and maybe Apollo Crews are in the ladder match. Wyatt Family runs in, League of Nations runs in, maybe even Jericho and Sami Zayn run in. Bray Wyatt pulls off the win and is the 2016 Mr. Money in the Bank. MITB is done, and next night on Monday Night Raw, Randy Orton returns to much fanfare. But Wyatt interrupts him and has the Family take him out. Bray Wyatt takes the cowardly way out and refuses to fight again and so Orton takes on Strowman and Harper in a 2-on-1 handicap match at Battleground. During that PPV, Charlotte has the title on the line with Ric Flair out there. As Ric goes to help interfere, Bray runs to the ring and assaults him, costing Charlotte the title. This serves two purposes: first, it takes Flair away from Charlotte so she can stand on her own; and second, it makes Ric Flair crawl to Triple H to ask for help. The Game of course agrees to help and he sets up Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton at SummerSlam with The Wyatt Family barred from ringside. Orton brings back The Punt kick and decks Bray with it, but he kicks out! Wyatt wins, sorry Randy.
This leads to a promo by Wyatt the next night on Raw saying, “I laid waste to the legend killer, and my own legend grows.” Orton goes to Triple H and wants blood. Triple H sets up a new match at Night of Champions with Ric Flair as special guest referee. After interference from The Wyatt Family, Bray Wyatt loses via disqualification as both Orton and Flair are assaulted. This leads to Triple H deciding to take care of it himself. Bray Wyatt vs Triple at Hell in a Cell. Wyatt goes over, but at the end of the match, Big Dave Batista returns and helps Triple H fend off The Wyatt’s. Of course you can see where this is going.
Team Evolution versus Team Wyatt Family at Surivor Series. The big sell here is that back at Extreme Rules, Bray Wyatt never entered the match. Bray doesn’t tag in until the very end, when only Ric Flair is left. Wyatt plays cat and mouse with him, toying with the old man and teasing the crowd with wanting to destroy him. I don’t want to write this, but it’s inevitable because their paths are bound to cross eventually… John Cena runs out to help Flair and cause Bray Wyatt to be eliminated. Harper is still alive though and pins Flair. The Wyatt Family wins but Bray is embarrassed.
To end the year, it’s Bray Wyatt vs John Cena in a ladder match at TLC with the MITB Briefcase on the line. After a devastating match where they beat the hell out of each other, Wyatt comes out on top, cleanly, with no interference. I know most of you probably hate that booking, but this is WWE and Vince will make the new push go through Cena at some point so better just to get it out of the way and have done with it.
Here’s where things get really interesting. We bring in The Undertaker for the Royal Rumble at #30. It would be unexpected, it would be epic, and the crowd would go wild. This all depends on WWE keeping their mouths shut about it because we all know their camp has loose lips. Even more exciting, Undertaker wins and is set to headline WrestleMania against still champion Roman Reigns. Reigns bitches to The Authority, or to Vince, or whomever (heck maybe Shane will be running things by then) and they make a stipulation that Reigns vs Undertaker will be a retirement match, whereas if Taker loses he is gone. Not from WrestleMania, not from winning a title, but gone forever.
The whole time all this is going on, Bray Wyatt is playing the most sinister mind games with Roman Reigns for the better part of a year. He’s always lurking, always creeping out hinting at a cash-in but he never does. And so, for the second time in his career, Roman Reigns loses at WrestleMania as Bray Wyatt successfully cashes-in, winning the title. Since a triple threat is No DQ, they could even have The Wyatt Family interfere. Either way, the match ends with Reigns taking the pinfall. Within kayfabe, they can say Undertaker was never pinned and therefore can comeback next year for his 500th WrestleMania match. Mania closes with Bray and The Family at the top of the ramp, fireworks, and Bray yellowing, “I AM THE EATER OF WORLDS!”
Next night on Raw, Wyatt comes out talking a real good game about being the best person to ever cash in, about having the biggest WrestleMania moment, you get the idea. Seth Rollins comes out, having taken offense to this. He wants a title shot, but hold on Reigns comes out, as does Ambrose (somehow being involved in the story as well). This gives time to hold our breaths over Bray versus Rollins as he takes on the others. Meanwhile, Kevin Owens wins Money in the Bank 2017. This comes back into play later. Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns are subject to in-fighting, never really getting along but never really going hardcore at each other. Just playing it off like they hate one another and aren’t playing well with each other.
The big setup of course being Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt for the title at SummerSlam. Wyatt Family comes out to teach Rollins a lesson. Rollins wins via disqualification but Bray still retains. As four men beat down Seth Rollins, that’s when that old familiar song hits. You know how it goes. SIERRA. HOTEL. INDIA. ECHO. LIMA. DELTA. SHIELD. Ambrose and Reigns come out through the crowd. The Shield is back! This eventually leads to Shield versus Wyatts at Survivor Series. After some help from Evolution, running in to assist their old enemies The Shield, Bray Wyatt is left all alone against all three Shield members. They beat him down really bad. For the first time since regrouping at SummerSlam, The Shield performs a triple powerbomb on Bray. Maybe a few. Match is a no contest as The Shield just walks out having done what they come there to do. But as Bray, broken and alone, stands to leave, Kevin Owens’ them hits and he comes walking down the ramp. He cashes in his briefcase and wins the title.
A few months later, Bray Wyatt wins the Royal Rumble. And WrestleMania 34 is Bray Wyatt versus Kevin Owens for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And there you have it. The resurrection of Bray Wyatt. Shockingly, this whole plan depends on Roman Reigns keeping the title for a full year. This could be a stretch for Creative, as a big majority of the fans have already tuned him out. But with careful planning, and slowly putting wins under Bray Wyatt’s belt, WWE can take a great gimmick and turn it into an epic superstar. The best part of this scenario is that it doesn’t have to interfere with any plans WWE currently has with Roman Reigns, John Cena, or any other main roster guys. They can do business as usual with whatever they have booked and make this the growing side story for the next year. Bray Wyatt should be the top guy in the company, there’s no doubt about that. WWE just needs to swing at the pitch and aim for the fences. If you build him, they will cheer. I’ve laid down the path, all you have to do now is Follow the Buzzards.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
WWE’s John Cena is on medical leave due to a shoulder injury. Sting is out because of a neck injury that has sparked retirement rumors. Luke Harper recently injured his knee and is out, though nothing is being released regarding the injury due to the nature of the Wyatt Family character and the desire to keep the mystique alive. Cesaro is out with a shoulder injury, though he is in town for WrestleMania and no longer wearing his shoulder sling. Tyson Kidd suffered a spinal injury that may end his career, but thankfully didn’t paralyze him. Neville is out due to a freak accident that resulted in an ankle injury. Yet another shoulder injury took Randy Orton out of action, but like Cesaro, he is rumored to be ready (or nearly ready) to return. Our former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, is out due to a knee injury and is rehabbing hard to prepare for his eventual return.
Not a single one of those athletes is a minor part of the WWE. Sting signed on with big plans, including wrestling Undertaker at WrestleMania, a match which now may never happen. I can’t stand Cena, but he’s the cash cow as far as merchandise goes, so the new t-shirts we’ve likely missed out on have got to be hurting WWE’s wallet. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd were on fire as a tag team, so his injury was devastating both personally and professionally. Cesaro was doing phenomenal on his own when he hurt his shoulder at the worst possible time. Harper may be underutilized right now, but he was needed as part of the family and his absence is very noticeable. Neville is missing his shot at the IC title in the ladder match, who knows what opportunities passed over Randy Orton, and I don’t want to even get started on Rollins.
We watch Thursday Night Smackdown, plus the monthly PPV event, and we generally don’t see every athlete featured on all three shows. Even when we do, they don’t necessarily compete every time. On the surface, it doesn’t look like that bad of a schedule. But then you factor in the travel, whether it’s on a bus, an airplane, or driving themselves from state to state. When you have multiple shows in one week, they tend to be scheduled near each other, but that’s still time packing and unpacking, sleeping in hotels, and dealing with the typical stresses of business travel, not to mention jet-lag. Better love your coworkers because working and traveling together means a lot of quality time with each other that may not be welcomed by some. These athletes also need to factor in time to train, to see friends and family, to go home and sleep in their own bed, and to get away from it all and have a break.
Outside of the three main shows, you also have the house shows and Superstars, so your favorites could be working more than 3 shows per week. Even when they aren’t in a match or segment, they are backstage. Think of how many times on Raw or Smackdown you’ve seen the locker room come out to acknowledge someone/something and seen people that weren’t a part of the actual show at all. Think of how much time it takes Gold and Stardust to get ready. Imagine doing all of that and not even getting to work that night. You also have all of the other events they participate in, including autograph signings at conventions, television and radio appearances, and the Be a STAR program, or Make a Wish. Some members of the main roster still also work NXT events. Oh, and there is no off season, so if an athlete wants to film a movie (aka get a second job), they have to be written off television, go do their project, and then immediately come back to work. Sure, they can take a vacation, but unless you’re on the Triple H level of popularity, missing work for a vacation means risking being forgotten. That is also the danger of being injured; too much time away and people could start to forget about you.
If I call in sick and someone else is able to step in and do my job equally as well or better than I can, I am able to easily find another job with equal pay. This can’t be said for WWE talent. Being let go and moving to TNA, ROH, or NJPW isn’t going to come with the same paycheck as WWE. That is assuming one of the bigger companies even wants them; they might be looked at in a bad light depending on their role in the WWE or the circumstances in which they left the company, and that could very well interfere with obtaining new employment. I can tell white lies on a resume; that’s harder to do when you’re videotaped for events and reported on by countless news outlets. It’s easy to see how these athletes are so prone to injury, and even easier to see why they would try and work through an injury rather than take the time off that is needed to properly recover. It’s also easy to see how time off for medical reasons could be discouraged; replacing one wrestler with another can screw up an entire storyline.
I’m not saying that the WWE tells its talent that they should not take time off, but I am saying that the environment strongly discourages it. While catching up on Breaking Ground, my husband and I watched Cal Bishop get released from his contract because of his absences due to his shoulder issues and the fear of future absences for the same problem. The industry is highly competitive and, as harsh as it sounds, you can’t waste time on someone if they aren’t physically able to do their job. Not when there are hundreds upon hundreds of qualified people itching for their chance to snag a coveted spot on the roster. This is a business, not a family (unless your last name is McMahon), so those who can’t do their job are going to be replaced. In this competitive environment, a leave of absence is a scary thing. Just because CM Punk can walk out whenever he wants and still have people chant his name doesn’t mean that everyone can get that response. Tyson Kidd, for example, is slowly fading away into obscurity; the support he had upon leaving has unfortunately fizzled out because the WWE Universe forgets and moves on. It isn’t done maliciously, it’s simply human nature.
We ask so much of these wrestlers and we forget that they’re people like us. None of them have Wolverine’s healing powers. They’re not only dealing with the typical nonsense that you and I face day to day, but they are also dealing with the repercussions of diving 20 feet through the air to land on a table where another human being is laying, multiple times during a single week. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and amazing that they don’t get hurt more often than they do. We see the stitches and think it’s cool, we cheer for blood in the ring, and we lose our minds any time a weapon emerges or something breaks. We demand so much, which means the WWE demands even more. And then when someone gets injured, we act surprised, find some way to ridicule them, and then expect them to bounce back immediately and resume jumping off of things. It’s absolutely insane. It’s why we see early retirements, like the very recent goodbye from Daniel Bryan.
Seeing my favorites taken out of the ring and put into a hospital bed or rehab facility is a truly sobering thing. I think everyone cried their hearts out when Bryan retired, and even more-so when we saw the in-depth look at his retirement on WWE: 24 that aired on the Network. It was painful to see Rollins injured while performing such a routine move, then getting stripped of the title, but when you think of everything that led up to that moment, the injury becomes a lot less surprising. We hear “they put their bodies on the line” a lot, but we mostly associate that with the more daring stunts and hardcore moves. What we need to realize is that day in and day out, these men and women are pushing themselves past their limit for our entertainment. I have such a better appreciation now for what these athletes sacrifice for us and what they risk every time they’re competing or training. It just takes one wrong move, one little misstep, to take someone from the top of the ladder to the back of an ambulance.
If you look at the staggering amount of talent we are going to miss out on during WrestleMania due to injury, it becomes apparent that WWE needs to better protect their talent’s physical bodies. Had we gotten everyone healthy for the most important event in wrestling, the matchcard at AT&T Stadium for WrestleMania would have looked vastly different, but we’ll never know. And all the injured Superstars can do is watch from home as their shot at glory passes them by until next year.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
We were twenty-four hours removed from NXT’s best show. WWE once again took over New York with the 2015 SummerSlam PPV. Jon Stewart, fresh off retirement, started the show with an in-ring promo. Crowd gives the mention of John Cena’s name a boo. Stewart brings out none other than the Hardcore Legend himself, Mick Foley! The duo banter back and forth, with Mick confusing Brock for Rock. And they start the show. It was good to see Foley, but a really unnecessary eight minutes wasted right at the start of the show.
Interesting choice to start the show as Randy Orton comes out to fight Sheamus. One would have thought that the four team tag title match would have kicked things off. This match might have been better suited with a stipulation. Crowd starts a “You Look Stupid!” chant and Sheamus gets on the mic calling everyone stupid, but Orton quickly quiets that. A very straight forward, almost stagnant match. Starting the show in such an anti-climatic way is a weird choice, although NXT started with a tag title match last night so Dunn probably didn’t want to copy off of HHH. Orton gets his left eyebrow cut open with a small trickle of blood from a Sheamus boot. Orton hits an RKO but Sheamus rolls out of the ring. Crowd is somewhat into the match despite it not even being good enough for a RAW main event. Orton sets up for the punt, crowd goes wild. He attempts it but misses and Sheamus catches him for White Noise, kick out at two. Brogue Kick off the ropes and Sheamus wins.
A New Day comes out and does a rap in the ring. Terrible b-footage from Smackdown sort of promo. So far, HHH has won the weekend. Lucha Dragons come out followed by Los Matadores and the champs Prime Time Players. Another match that easily could have benefited from a stipulation–maybe a ladder with the titles hanging above the ring. Or at the very least an elimination match considering only two men are allowed in the ring at one time. Mediocre booking by WWE. Four good teams in a poorly pushed division. Titus O’Neal and Darren Young both looked very strong in this match. This bout is much more exciting than Orton/Sheamus, garnering a “This Is Awesome!” chant from the crowd. Kofi Kingston gets a sneaky tag and New Day wins the tag team titles for the second time. Iffy ending on an otherwise solid match. Without the gold, hopefully this is now the time to push Titus as a solo competitor.
Rusev vs Dolph Ziggler up next. (Author’s note: I am currently wearing a throwback Dolph Ziggler t-shirt so this particular paragraph of the article might come across as biased.) This match would have been great as an inter-gender tag match because Lana can actually wrestle. Oh well, maybe someday. Ziggler starts with a headbutt and the fight is on! Both guys really did a fantastic job of selling each other and making one another look great. Fast, brutal action. Lana and Summer did their little squabble outside the ring. And then nobody wins via a double count out? What a terrible finish. Lana and Summer then fight but get separated by Ziggler and Rusev. Crowd heavily booing this and you can’t really blame them. What a dismal ending to a match. Three strikes and you’re out, WWE.
Neville and Steven Amill (aka Green Arrow from CW’s show The Arrow) defeated Stardust and Wade Barrett. And that’s all I care to say about that. 90 minutes in and this is so far one of the worst PPV’s of the year.
Big Show comes out to battle The Miz and Ryback (c) for the IC title. It’s a threeway so technically it’s no DQ, but similar to the fatal four way earlier, it isn’t being utilized. Miz looks like a child compared to the two big men. Ryback and Show look beastly, Miz looks like a pancake. Ryback retains in a quick match that I would have liked to see more of. Jon Stewart shown backstage trying to see Brock Lesnar, but Paul Heyman interferes and the two share a moment.
Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper come out. Dean Ambrose enters and Roman Reigns comes through the crowd as usual. Huge boo for the Royal Rumble winner. Pretty exciting match to start. So far this is the best match of the night. Good action, great moves from everybody both inside and outside the ring. Wyatt Family controlling a large portion of this match. The crowd does not like Reigns at all. All four competitors really turned it up a notch. They managed to feed some energy back into the PPV. Reigns hits three Superman Punches. He really needs a new finisher. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on Bray Wyatt but instead of going for a pin, he tags Reigns back in. Reigns hits a spear for the pinfall. Another bad finish to an otherwise good match.
It’s 9:00PM now and they are about to burn Cena vs Rollins. This early in the night? Before the Divas match? Terrible. Just because The Undertaker crawls out from whatever rock he hides under for 360 days a year, suddenly the World Heavyweight Title doesn’t matter? This match is title vs title, winner take all. I made a declaration earlier in the week to friends that if Cena wins tonight, I stop watching wrestling until the next PPV. I just can’t take it. I can’t. I will delete RAW off my DVR and not listen to any news about WWE until next month. Cena enters to a chorus of boo’s. Rollins enters with a huge pop. Rollins comes out looking like the White Power Ranger. Cena looks like he plays for the Oregon Ducks. Crowd is very much in Rollins’ corner. Crowd starts a “Ce-Na-Sucks!” chant harnessing the New Day clap. Hilarious. Rollins is in control early, looking strong, putting on a wrestling clinic. Very impressive move set. It only took until 9:10, but SummerSlam finally picked up for business. Cena puts Rollins in a figure four leg lock, Rollins reverses it and Cena grabs the rope for the ref break. What. A. Match. I hate John Cena but even I can say well done in this one. Cena goes for an AA but the ref gets knocked out. So much for a clean finish. That’s a damn shame. With the ref out, Rollins knees Cena in the nose. Jon Stewart runs in with a chair. Stewart hits Cena! Rollins lands a Pedigree on the chair and Rollins wins! (Author’s Note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!) It’s a shame this couldn’t be a clean finish, but at least Rollins wins and now holds both the WHC title and the US title, first person to ever do so. Bow down to Triple H, smarks. He is still king. Crowd starts a “Thank You, Stewart!” chant. I love it. Byron Saxton cried about it after. I loved that, too. Regardless of my feelings on Rollins winning, this ending was also badly booked.
Divas elimination match up next featuring the Bella Twins, Alicia Fox, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Tamina, Charlotte. Paige, Naomi. Everybody but Nikki and Brie look great in this match. Wait. If one gets pinned the whole team is eliminated? What sort of tedious, yawn-inducing stipulation is that? If you have nine ladies, then it should be single person elimination. More bad booking. Team BAD eliminated first. On a sidebar, Brie Bella needs to stop stealing all the moves and gimmicks of her husband. It’s terrible and makes her look as weak as she actually is. Meanwhile, back in the match, Paige takes a beating for a long time. Becky Lynch gets the pinfall eventually. So much for a “revolution.” This was a terrible match for the most part. At least Team Bella didn’t win. Not much else to say about it than that.
Cesaro and Kevin Owens go to war next. Great action right out of the gate. Kudos to Kevin Owens doing back to back PPV’s. These guys came to play. Push both guys to the moon. They are stars. Great action, crowd is really feeling it. Hard to fault this one. We’ll see how the ending goes. A lot of pretty, pretty moves in this match. Owens hit a tornado DDT and Cesaro strong armed his way into many impressive sequences. Plus, a Cesaro Swing. Kevin Owens wins via pop-up powerbomb. Good match, cleanest ending of the night. Would have liked to see that one go about five minutes longer. Great match, guys. Kevin Owens is a badass wrestler who unfortunately is at the whims of Kevin Dunn booking.
Next up, Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. The rest of the card tonight has me apprehensive. I’m expecting Sting to interfere….or a masked Kane run-in. There’s really no win here for either guy to go over cleanly. We should all be prepared for some sort of shenanigans. And god help us if the big twist is another Paul Heyman turn. Both men come out with equal cheers from the crowd. Lesnar doesn’t even wait for Undertaker to get his trench coat off. He just starts beating on the Deadman. Crowd starts trading “Undertaker!” and “Suplex City!” chants. It doesn’t take long for Lesnar to take the Deadman to suplex city. After a big boot, Lesnar starts bleeding on his forehead. Undertaker looks miles ahead of where he was last year at WrestleMania. Younger, fresher, stronger. But no where near the physical perfection of Lesnar which makes this match hard to swallow. Especially with the devastating suplexes Lesnar keeps delivering. Kayfabe dies every time Lesnar yells, “Suplex City, bitch!” Lesnar clears the announce table and they battle outside the ring. Lesnar hits an F5 on Undertaker through the announce table! Undertaker barely beats the count back into the ring. Lesnar yells, “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch!” Taker hits a tombstone pile driver but Lesnar kicks out at two. Lesnar sits up, laughing. Undertaker sits up laughing as well! They trade punches, crowd goes berserk. Lesnar lands the Kimora Lock. Undertaker reverses it into a Last Ride. Lesnar again kicks out at two! Lesnar hits another F5, Taker kicks out. This match is excellent, way better than last year’s. Lesnar hits a third F5, but Undertaker kicks out again! Undertaker locks in the Hell’s Gate submission out of nowhere. Lesnar reverses it into the Kimora. The bell starts ringing, Heyman screams, “He tapped him out!” Told ya, shenanigans. Undertaker hits a low blow behind the ref’s back, locks in a Hell’s Gate, and Lesnar flips him the bird. Lesnar “passes out.” More bad booking with a lazy, super lousy ending. Let it be said Lesnar never tapped and was never pinned. During the replay, Undertaker clearly tapped out. Heyman goes and rings the bell and gets on the mic. He calls Lesnar the winner by tap out submission. Crowd boos, but Heyman is right. Lesnar’s music hits and the night is over. Disappointing PPV for my money. Triple H clearly won this battle of the PPV’s. Nice try, Vince, but you came up short.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The second biggest event in professional wrestling is finally here and is now a four hour event, not including the preshow. Lita has been confirmed for the preshow panel along with Corey Graves, Renee Young and Byron Saxton. ESPN will be covering SummerSlam this year, which takes place at the Barclays Center in New York. The day before SummerSlam, Full Sail University hosts NXT TakeOver, an event I wish I could have made it to. Let’s take a look at the ten matches on the card and make some predictions.
Prime Time Players (c) vs Los Matadores vs The Lucha Dragons vs The New Day – Tag Team Title Fatal 4-Way Match
For a long time, I wondered how the WWE could have someone like Titus O’Neil on their roster and not have him wearing the gold. Now that he’s tag team champion with Darren Young, I want to see PTP return to their heel roots and truly dominate. As of now, they are more comic relief than muscle. This Fatal 4-Way match looks like an unfortunate collection of all the cultural stereotypes that WWE could throw together. You have the gospel singing, preachy powers of positivity. You have the masked Mexicans, the Spanish bullfighters, and the rough and tough bad boys who are in constant pursuit of millions of dollars. I hope that the tag division digs itself out of this hole soon and all teams get a chance to evolve.
Team Bella (Bella Twins & Alicia Fox) vs Team B.A.D. (Naomi, Sasha Banks & Tamina) vs Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte & Becky Lynch) – Three Team Elimination Match
I’m glad WWE discovered Google and realized that “Submission Sorority” isn’t a good name for a PG era team, but let down with the rest of this Divas revolution. What we have is a trio of cliques who have no real reason to be angry at each other, but just are for some reason. Hormones, I guess. Riding on the coattails of Ronda Rousey, WWE has been cramming this so-called revolution down our throat while simultaneously giving us Total Divas updates and booking pointless matches. A lot of talent is going to waste here, and I’m sitting back and impatiently waiting for the actual revolution to start.
WINNERS: Team PCB.
Kevin Owens vs Cesaro – Singles Match
Owens and Cesaro are two of the most exciting guys in the ring right now. I’m so thrilled about this match that I don’t care who wins, just as long as they win clean. When Kevin Owens made his Raw debut, he came out strong and crushed Cena, winning his first match against him. Cesaro won the first Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal matches and is touted as the strongest man in WWE, pound for pound. These two are the future and need to be elevated and pushed to the limit. I don’t need angry promos, I don’t need stipulations, just throw these guys in the ring and let us be entertained.
WINNER: Cesaro (but I’m pulling more for Owens).
Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper vs Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns – Tag Team Match
Rumors have Reigns turning heel at some point during SummerSlam, and my assumption is that if it happens, it will be near the end of or after this match. The whole Family vs Family dynamic isn’t going to work if Reigns makes the turn too early, and I don’t see Ambrose turning as well to compliment him. Turn or not, this match has serious potential. Harper is better when he’s with Wyatt, and Ambrose with Reigns is only one tiny step away from The Shield reuniting.
WINNERS: Wyatt & Harper.
Randy Orton vs Sheamus – Singles Match
I feel like I’ve seen this match a hundred times over and then some, so it’s hard to get excited for it. You could put the WWE title contract on the line, but it still doesn’t help because Orton winning is more of the same thing we’ve seen a hundred times. This match could have greatly benefitted from a stipulation (a GOOD stipulation), but it will at least give me time to walk the dog and grab a snack during this insanely long PPV.
Stephen Amell & Neville vs Stardust & King Barrett – Tag Team Match
If Amell doesn’t show up in his Green Arrow gear, I am going to be extremely disappointed. This match is 100% designed to get people to subscribe to the network not because they are huge fans of wrestling, but because they are huge fans of Amell (or want to see him destroyed). To his credit, Amell has been training hard for this match. He got over the barricade and in the ring pretty fast on Raw after being smacked by Stardust, so there is the potential for this to be a decent bout.
WINNERS: Stephen Amell & Neville, via pinfall by Amell on Stardust.
Dolph Ziggler (with Lana) vs Rusev (with Summer Rae) – Singles Match
This is both my favorite and least favorite feud all rolled into one. It has been exciting and incredibly stupid all at the same time. Rusev has turned into a strange lovesick puppy dog of a man, Summer Rae is putting Lana in the accolade, Ziggler is kicking ass, there are dead fish involved, and I don’t know what to think. I was hoping that this would be a mixed tag, but Lana may have a back condition that prevents her from ever wrestling, so chances are slim to none that we actually get her in the ring for real. At the very least, we’ll get a great performance from Ziggler and lots of catfighting outside of the ring from our blond beauties.
Ryback (c) vs Big Show vs The Miz – Intercontinental Title Triple Threat Match
The Big Guy facing The Giant makes a lot of sense; Ryback needs to take down Big Show to cement his place and edge out the older talent. Why The Miz has to be involved here is beyond me, unless it’s to give Show a break from constant action during the match. I’m annoyed by this because I still bitterly remember Miz winning the title after hiding on the side of the ring for most of the match, then slipping in to steal it at the last possible second. Miz winning is a predictable and lazy choice that I hope we avoid.
WINNER: Ryback, via pinfall on Show.
Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker – Singles Match
Undertaker has been doing a phenomenal job of becoming the villain and putting Lesnar over even more than he already is. Their collision on Raw looked so real and so unscripted, that it makes me fully believe that these two men hate each other. They are going to destroy one another and anyone who gets in their way. Taker waiting over a year for payback makes sense thanks to Bray Wyatt; the dead man went into hiding until Wyatt called him out, was defeated, and unintentionally revitalized The Undertaker. I’m excited and nervous for this one, as I can see both the benefits and the downfalls of either man winning.
WINNER: Brock Lesnar.
John Cena (US Champ) vs Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight Champ) – Singles Match for Both Titles
My husband pointed out that Jon Stewart’s presence at SummerSlam, combined with his history with Rollins, means that we could very well get some sort of ridiculous interference from Stewart that helps Cena get the win. If this happens, I am setting everything on fire. John Cena took a shit on Kevin Owens’ momentum by securing a victory via tap out in their last match. He took a shit on Neville as well with his miraculous kick-outs that secured him another victory. Cena continues to make finishers look weak by kicking out at two EVERY SINGLE TIME. I’m so afraid of WWE throwing two belts on Cena. I would laugh for days if Rollins won and held both titles, but I don’t think Creative will do it. Even if Cena wins back the US Title the next night on Raw, I can’t see them being brave enough to just go for it.
WINNER: Cena via disqualification, no belts change hands.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker