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
Editor’s Note: In March of this year, we posted an article titled Why We Chant For CM Punk. Although Punk has long since moved on to greener, more bruised pastures, this post is still one of our most clicked links from search engines and so we are doing an updated version of it here.
Last night, Monday Night Raw came to us from Cincinnati, OH. The fans began chanting for CM Punk during the Cruiserweight match. It was a disrespectful move to Tony Neese and our Cruiserweight Champion, TJ Perkins, but it almost seems unavoidable. No matter how often Punk stresses that he is done with WWE, fans continue to not only chant his name, but bring signs catered to him at live events.
Punk made his UFC debut in Cleveland, Ohio on September 10th against Mickey Gall. He was submitted via rear naked choke at 2 minutes and 14 seconds in the first round. Punk outlasted Gall’s last opponent, who submitted at the 45 second mark in the first round. After 20 months of training and two surgeries, Punk made a strong debut regardless of what the haters may say. He refused to give up until there was no other option and lasted longer than many of his fellow fighters could have. Still, it was a dismal debut.
I was genuinely nervous during Punk’s UFC fight. I have never been so invested in two short minutes. It was heartbreaking, exciting, and put my husband and I through a whirlwind of emotions in just a few seconds. Current and past WWE stars have had mixed reviews on his debut, ranging from “uncomfortable” and a sign that he should pursue another career, to “inspiring” and a great effort for a first fight.
As can be expected, a lot of people have hinted that his so-called failure in UFC should prompt Punk to return to WWE where he is already established as a winner. Not an event goes by in his hometown of Chicago where we don’t see fans wearing his shirts and hear at least one crowd chant for his appearance. And as we saw on Monday Night RAW, Punk is clearly still over as a fan favorite.
We can probably safely say that Punk will never set foot in a WWE ring again, and we can also safely say that the chants won’t stop for a long time. It’s not about the hope of him returning anymore, we’re past that. We chant for CM Punk because us Punk fans respect the hell out of the man. Even though he isn’t watching Monday Night Raw, we chant his name and hope somehow he knows how much we appreciate what he has done for professional wrestling. Regardless of where he goes from here, we’ll be supporting him and looking for any excuse to chant his name.
Article by Mrs. Jamie Baker
— We kicked off the week shooting around some scenarios with John Cena’s future as a part-timer, retiring The Undertaker, and moving the WWE into a younger generation. We learned that Shelton Benjamin was injured and his WWE future is questionable at this particular point in time. He will most likely need surgery and may be on the injured list for several months.
— Monday Night Raw gave us the go home show leading up to tonight’s pay-per-view. We saw a women’s tag match, Rusev taking on Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns versus Kevin Owens in a steel cage! Plus, the introduction of the Cruiserweights. All this and more in our full review of RAW.
— Smackdown Live came at us on Tuesday and featured The Usos can full dark side, American Alpha’s return, The Miz forced to defend his Intercontinental Championship, and The Viper, Randy Orton, in action. The main event was John Cena against Dean Ambrose in singles competition. Read all about it HERE.
— Taped from Full Sail, NXT arrived on the WWE Network on Wednesday. Samoa Joe gave William Regal a very stern ultimatum about Shinsuke Nakamura and the rest of the locker room. Cruiserweight Classic Tournament competitor, Cedric Alexander, made his NXT in-ring debut. And Austin Aries called out Hideo Itami. Read all about the latest taping right HERE.
— Dixie Carter won the week with yet another fantastic episode of TNA’s Impact Wrestling. The stage is slowly being set for Bound For Glory. We saw the Grand Championship tournament finals lock in their last two, Maria Kanellis-Bennett public training, an X-Division Championship match, and a four-man tag team match for the main event featuring Lashley, EC3, Moose, and The Miracle. Read about the entire stellar broadcast HERE.
— The last NJPW before Wrestle Kingdom came to us from AXSTV on Friday, featuring a CMLL World Welterweight Championship title defense, and a tag match between four warring competitors. The main event was Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata taking on Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii, and boy did they go to war. Read the full play-by-play HERE.
— And of course, tonight is WWE’s Clash of Champions PPV live from Indianapolis, IN. Face To Heel will be live from the arena! We will try to Tweet, get lots of photos, and soak in every wonderful moment. Read all about our full match predictions HERE and be sure to follow our site and our writers on twitter: @FaceToHeel, @OhhhTweener, @MrNotWell. Enjoy the show everybody and we’ll see you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Editor’s Note: Last Friday, I had a very interesting day-long conversation with @THEmtg3drinks on Twitter which spurred some fascinating off the cuff ideas. Using that convo led me to write this article. Many thanks, friend.
Dean Ambrose was a poor WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. He’s entertaining. He’s good for a laugh. But his workrate is lousy and if his opponent isn’t really good and pushing him, he just doesn’t come through like a champion should. His mic work is questionable and there are several other guys on the Smackdown Live roster who are more deserving and better suited for carrying the title. Enter A.J. Styles.
No one can argue that Styles has had a memorable year. He made his debut at the Royal Rumble, foregoing NXT and jumping straight to the main roster. He got a title shot, he beat John Cena, and now he has won the championship faster than any person before him. It’s been an incredible journey. Unfortunately, John Cena is still breathing air. And now that Ambrose has dropped the belt to Styles, it’s inevitable that he collides with Cena.
Despite Cena’s polarizing effect on the WWE Universe, for better or worse, he is destined to be a 16-time champion. In fact, he will be at least a 17-time champion before his career is over. Not because he’s better than Ric Flair, but most likely because Vince McMahon will always consider Flair to be a WCW guy, and Vince is too petty to let the record holder be any one other than a tried-and-true WWE Superstar. All that has been said to say this: AJ Styles is probably going to drop the title to John Cena at some point in the near future.
Whether this happens sooner or later remains to be seen. But the safe bet is that, at the very least, John Cena walks into the Smackdown side of WrestleMania 33 as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Wait, put your cackles down and don’t throw that rotten tomato at me. Hear me out. I have a plan.
The Undertaker is running on fumes. He’s past his expiration date and seriously needs to retire. But he’s been The Man in Black for so many years, that he can’t just up and quit. As the premiere (and most eclectic) storyteller in the business of professional wrestling, he needs a grand exit. Fast forward to Royal Rumble next year. They do one for Raw, they do one for Smackdown. (Hold your grumbles until the end, please.) Undertaker comes out of nowhere as the #30 entrant to the Smackdown side. And wins. Cena vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The caveat: if Cena wins, Undertaker has to retire; if Taker wins, he gets the championship. At this point everyone thinks this is Undertaker’s retirement match. But in a surprise twist, Undertaker wins the title!
The next Tuesday on Smackdown, Undertaker comes out and says he beat the man, won the belt, and has nothing else to prove. He says he is retiring. Shane McMahon interrupts and demands he give the belt back. Instead, Undertaker Tombstones Shane and then walks out with the belt, retiring this current version of it. Smackdown gets a new shiny title, Undertaker goes out as a champion, and Cena actually gets a boost in fan love because he did the job for Undertaker on his final go home match.
This current version of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was introduced by an old school, Attitude Era guy. So it makes sense to retire it with an old, old, old school and Attitude Era guy. Think about it. The Rock brought in and held this title, Triple H held this title (and was the “gateway” for the new up and comers to go through to get it: Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose) and, finally, The Undertaker walks into the twilight with this title. It’s a fantastic story and will make a killer DVD. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is reintroduced in a new format with a new Smackdown themed look, and everybody wins. Cena looks like a hero, Undertaker leaves after firing all the bullets in his gun, and people are talking about Smackdown Live and their title for months to come.
The aftermath is The Undertaker is put into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 34, John Cena will get his 17th title reign with an authentic, new title, and everyone will be tuning in to see Cena take on The Undertaker to make WrestleMania 33 one of the most watched pay-per-views in history. It makes sense for John Cena to retire The Undertaker as on Cena’s debut night, he shockingly was encouraged by and even shook hands with The Undertaker on live television. This will be the last hurrah of Taker, and the last final mega push for Cena. He will get one more title reign, but nothing as extravagant as this. He can slide over into a part-time role; heck, maybe even turn heel. Or possibly become a Raw or Smackdown GM after the next roster draft lottery.
I hate John Cena and even I like this idea. It’s a win-win for everybody, especially Vince who will just laugh maniacally as he collects huge fat checks. The Raw side of WrestleMania next year is going to be just fine with all the best stars climbing over each other for that Universal Championship. This is a fun and unique way to give Smackdown a giant moment and keep both brands at the top of their game. And since Cena has never taken on Undertaker at WrestleMania, it seems fair for him to get That Moment. I mean, c’mon, Triple H has done it three times. What do you think? Wishful thinking, great idea, or obnoxious pipedream? Please let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
On the last day of August, Finn Balor called in to The Ross Report podcast with Jim Ross. Just one week removed from his surgery, Balor was upbeat when talking to Good Ol’ JR. He did have some discouraging news for fans, however.
The night Finn Balor’s injury occurred at SummerSlam, he first suspected it was dislocated after Seth Rollins threw him into the barricade. The gutsy performer popped it back into place and kept wrestling. The next day, as the pain grew progressively worse, Balor would check in with WWE doctors. About three hours before Monday Night Raw was scheduled to happen, Balor was told he would need surgery as he had a tear in his labrum according to scans. A few hours later, he would relinquish the Universal Championship to Mick Foley and <span two days later he would have surgery.
Unfortunately, when the doctors finally opened Balor up, they found more damage than expected. Instead of a linear labrum tear, the tear went a full 180 degrees around his arm, twice as big as originally expected. Additionally, he had damage to his bicep and pectoral muscles, as well as a few minor broken bones. The surgery was a success and Balor joked that the doctors were kind enough to give him the bone fragments in a jar which he decided to keep.
The original prognosis before surgery was 4-6months to heal, leaving many to speculate a possible 4 or 5 month return if rehab went well. Now the doctors are saying it will be a "hard six months" and that Balor will most likely need every single day to recover, rehab, and get back to full mobility. Balor says he will use the full six months and then some if necessary as he wants to come back better than ever. So fans shouldn't expect him back any earlier.
As it stands now, Balor is forced to sleep upright in a La-Z-Boy recliner for the next six weeks as he is not allowed to sleep on his back due to the sling his arm is in. As the interview goes on, Balor praised WWE for how they handled the situation and took care of him. He said it blew him away how fantastic everything had gone down. They got him in for surgery with some of the best doctors on the planet without delay.
The good news here is that although he won't be back as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, he will return and have plenty of time to get the ring rust out long before WrestleMania rolls around. But that's the future, for now Balor says he is doing rehab twice a day and that's all he is focused on. As for all the hate Seth Rollins is getting? Balor says it's unwarranted and that he thinks Seth Rollins is one of the best workers in the company and it was just a fluke accident.
It's a shame that Finn Balor's title reign ended so abruptly. But The Demon King will return and reclaim his place at the top. With Kevin Owens wearing the Universal Championship, the title is in good hands for the time being. We wish Balor a speedy recovery and wait patiently for his triumphant return.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
If you missed last week’s RAW review, Finn Balor was injured at SummerSlam and was forced to vacate the Universal Championship less than 24 hours later. Tonight, we crown a new champ in a Fatal-4-Way.
The show kicks off with Corey Graves in the ring with the four competitors fighting for the title. Seth Rollins interrupts him early and tells everyone to thank him for injuring Finn Balor at SummerSlam. Rollins says he is feeling nice and wants to donate his talking time to Kevin Owens. Crowd starts a “Fight, Owens, Fight!” chant. He says Rollins talks big but he (Owens) delivers big. He insults Reigns and Big Cass as well. Cass then talks and actually does incredibly well. He insults Owens and Rollins, who then becomes infuriated and starts yelling at everyone. Rollins orders Graves to ask Reigns how he is going to win tonight. Reigns stands up and Owens laughs at him. Then Reigns punches him out of his chair. Rollins attacks Cass and Reigns pulls him off. Cass and Reigns square off. But before anything can happen Rollins attacks from behind. Reigns throws Cass out and then Superman Punches Rollins. Crowd vocally unhappy, booing Reigns as he eyes the Universal Championship. Nice opener for once.
Chris Jericho comes down to take on Neville. Y2J rolls out of the ring at the start of the match and yells at the crowd. Neville comes up behind him and kicks him in the gut. He rolls Jericho back in the ring, climbs the top rope and leaps off into a cross body cover. Jericho kicks out at two and then crawls to the corner and wraps his arms around the ref. Jericho rakes Neville’s eyes and clotheslines Neville to the mat. Commercial. Neville is in control when we return. Standing Shooting Star Press and Neville covers. Kick out at two. Jericho rolls out of the ring, Neville comes around and kicks him off the apron and moonsaults off the second rope, taking Jericho down. Back in the ring, Neville can’t keep Jericho down. Jericho goes for a Code Breaker, but Neville kicks him in the face. Red Arrow off the top rope. Jericho moves and catches Neville in the Walls of Jericho. Neville taps. This whole Y2J on top thing is getting old. He is beating too many young guys. This does absolutely nothing for Neville. And really does nothing for Jericho either. Neville recently returned and is getting tapped out. Didn’t like this booking at all.
Nia Jax up next. Probably another squash match so not really sure why I should even bother covering it. Shortly after typing this she wins. Yawn. Where’s Sasha Banks? Jinder Mahal and Sami Zayn have a match that nobody wants to see, honestly. The crowd chants for Slater throughout. Zayn wins. Boring match. Not sure what this does for Zayn. Just a lot of odd booking choices tonight.
Bayley and The New Day take on Dana Brooke and The Club next with Charlotte on commentary. Starting to see more of these mixed tag matches which is a big positive for WWE. This match is okay. Sort of a goofball spotfest instead of a fun wrestling match. Bayley and New Day are a little clumsy. The Club and Dana do a nice job. The big go home is Bayley to Belly on Dana for the pinfall victory. Raw has sort of lost me since the opening segment. They haven’t really set up any feuds or rivalries outside of the Universal Championship.
Sheamus comes out to fight Cesaro in a match that probably won’t pick up the momentum of the show. This is match #2 of their best of 7 series. Oh goodie. And lucky for us they let Byron Saxton interview Sheamus before the match. That’s just cringe-worthy. The match itself is decent. But what else is there for these two to do? They are just going to have seven straight up matches? That isn’t exciting at all. Cesaro lands a pretty vicious European uppercut off the ropes. Crowd not bothering to get up for this one. Can’t really blame them. This series is definitely going to 7 so we are just going to watch them go through the motions 6 times prior. In a surprise twist, Sheamus wins the second match with a submission tap out. Sheamus goes up 2-0. Mr. Fuji video package after the match. Sad. Rest in Peace to the Hall of Famer.
Big announcement after the break that the Cruiserweights are coming to Raw in 3 weeks! Finally! Stephanie McMahon comes down to the ring. Paul Heyman interrupts her. Stephanie cuts him off and tells him to get in the ring and apologize. Instead, Heyman says Raw won SummerSlam when Lesnar defeated Orton. Heyman says he is here tonight to pay Lesnar’s $500 fine. He pulls out a huge stack of bills. He starts counting to five hundred using single dollar bills. HaHaHa. At six, Stephanie slaps the money out of his hand. Heyman sweet talks Stephanie and apologizes. She accepts and walks out. Weird segment.
Titus O’Neal comes to the ring, smiling at the replay from last week. Darren Young comes out with Bob Backlund. Weirdly, this is one of the better matches of the night. The two tell a good story and put some emotion into their fight. Titus looks like a beast and although Young has yet to embody this so-called greatness Backlund claims, he looks solid tonight. Darren Young gets the pinfall victory and then tosses Titus out of the ring. He and Backlund celebrate in the ring. Titus spoils the fun, running in and attacking them both from behind. Clash of the Titus on Young. Crowd boo’s as Titus walks out and up the ramp.
Main event time. Big Cass comes out with Enzo Amore which I find an odd decision. Makes Cass look like he can’t stand on his own, something Owens alluded to earlier in the broadcast. This is a big moment for Cass, and Enzo kind of hijacked it. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Certified G, but he really has no business here. Oh well, what’s done is done. The bell rings and Owens rolls out and leans against the barricade, letting the other three beat each other up. Eventually Cass and Reigns square off alone in the ring. They trade blows, but Reigns knocks Cass down. Reigns misses with a Superman Punch. Cass off the ropes and he kicks Reigns out of the ring, as both men go tumbling out of the ring. Cass and Owens are fighting and Reigns dives out to take them both down. Commercial break.
As we come back from the break, Owens drops an elbow off the apron onto Cass. Rollins clobbers him, rolls Cass in the ring, and manages a two count. All four guys take turns running the show. It’s a well choreographed match for having four guys at once. Frog Splash by Owens and he eliminates Big Cass. Good showing for the big man. And then there were three….and another commercial break. Owens hits two cannonballs on Reigns and Rollins in separate corners. Superman Punch by Reigns, but Owens kicks out. Crowd in a frenzy. Stephanie and Mick ringside, practically drooling. Reigns hits all his moves on the outside to both guys. Triple H runs in and Pedigrees Reigns out of no where! He throws Reigns into the ring, gets Rollins up and tells him to cover him. He does and Rollins eliminates Reigns. HHH walks over to Owens and rolls him in the ring. HHH turns and hits Rollins with a Pedigree. Owens covers and wins the title! Holy shit! HHH walks out. Owens celebrates and holds the belt up. And despite the heel-ness, crowd starts a “You Deserve It!” chant. Wow. Talk about making a big impact. Everybody is going to be talking anout this all week long.
Great beginning, great ending. The rest of Raw was pretty much garbage for the most part. But if Creative burned all their juice on making Owens the champion, we have to take it. What a fantastic new direction for the company. Congrats to the NEW Universal Champion, Kevin Owens. See you tomorrow for Smackdown Live.
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
–Monday Night Raw kicked off with the shocking news that Finn Balor had gotten injured at SummerSlam and would be vacating the title. Balor had to relinquish the title to Raw General Manager, Mick Foley. He had successful surgery on Wednesday and started Day 1 of his comeback on Thursday. We wish him a speedy recovery. Meanwhile, Mick and Stephanie McMahon had a tournament to come up with four competitors next week for a Fatal-4-Way to crown a new Universal Champion. The four participants will be Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big Cass, and Kevin Owens. After some okay matches, and some pretty weak programming, Vince gave us yet another disappointing Raw to start the week. Read our full review and all match results HERE. We’ll find out who the second all time Universal Champion is next week. Face To Heel has all their money bet on Kevin Owens.
–Meanwhile on Smackdown Live, they kicked Raw’s teeth in. To start the show Smackdown General Manager, Daniel Bryan, and Shane McMahon had all the tag teams in the ring along with all the women. They unveiled Smackdown Tag Team Championships and a Smackdown Women’s Championship that people can’t stop bitching about. Heath Slater got a tag teammate and another opportunity to try and earn a contract. The Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose, got a new opponent at the Backlash pay-per-view. The show was lit and got us pretty excited for the Smackdown exclusive show on the WWE Network in a few weeks. Read our full review HERE. After the show, The Miz was on Talking Smack and ripped Daniel Bryan a new one. D-Bry called him soft and said he wrestled weak, even going so far as to call Miz a coward. What happened next, set Miz up for a career booster.
–Wednesday night gave us a pretty hollow episode of NXT. It piggy-backed off the Takeover Brooklyn show so there was a lot of recaps and only two matches. The matches themselves were decent. Here’s our full review. After NXT, however, we got yet another fantastic episode of the Cruiserweight Classic. Rich Swann fought Lince Dorado, Zack Sabre Jr took on Drew Gulak, and T.J. Perkins took on Johnny Gargano. All three matches wrapped up the quarter-finals. It was a great broadcast. You can read all about it HERE.
–Dixie Carter did it again this past Thursday with another entertaining TNA Impact Wrestling episode. We had a battle royal to get an opponent for Lashley next week, Broken Jeff Hardy fought Abyss (and Broken Matt bit somebody, naturally), we crowned a new Knockouts Champion, and Ethan Carter III took on Drew Galloway in the main event to determine the #1 Contender for the world title at Bound For Glory. Aron Rex was the special guest referee. Read all bout this great show HERE.
–And AXSTV rounded out the week with a new broadcast of NJPW. Only two matches on the card but they were terrific to watch. Karl Anderson challenged Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Later, Tomohiro Ishii and Tomoaki Honma battled for the NEVER Openweight Championship. It was a fun show and Jim Ross and Josh Barnett did wonderful on commentary, as per usual. Read all about the epic title matches HERE.
That’s all for this week. See you all tomorrow night for RAW! If you have a moment, please check out a Go Fund Me page for a woman suffering from fibromyalgia. She could use your help, donations, and a share on social media to spread the word.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Look, I get it. New can be scary. You don’t want to accept anything Vince McMahon does without your explicit consent. But it’s time to let it go. The Universal Champion exists. The blue Smackdown Tag Team Championships exist. The blue Smackdown Women’s Championship exists. I promise it will all be okay. WWE stayed with what’s working, not to piss you off, but because it actually makes sense from a business standpoint.
They use designs they already have, meaning it keeps the production cost down for replica belts. So all you smarky-smarks out there that want to buy every single champion belt (while at the same time pretending this “offend” you) don’t have to sell a kidney in order to afford one. They used the same designs with different colors also to indicate that no one brand is better than the other. The major titles on both Raw and Smackdown are equal and the colors are changed only to indicate brand. In the long run, it quells jealousy. And it makes WWE a unified company, despite the brand split.
Yes, we all love the Million Dollar Championship. We love the Smoking Skulls Championship. We definitely love the Hardcore Championship. Diversity is wonderful. But the appearance of the titles doesn’t matter. It’s what they represent, the sacrifices of the wrestlers holding them, that really matters. It’s a reward for being the best. Just like a pair of ugly Air Jordans, it’s the name not the look that makes it valuable. This is the pinnacle of WWE and it doesn’t matter if it’s red, blue, green, purple or shit colored. It’s the prestige of wearing the belt that makes it important. So get over yourselves and stop complaining. That goes double for you, Brooklyn.
As Seth Rollins summed it up so perfectly on Twitter, “More important than a title’s appearance is what it represents for the men fighting over it.”
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After a long weekend of wrestling, we are back for another episode of Monday Night Raw. NXT gave us Takeover: Brooklyn 2 on Saturday, and last night saw the conclusion of the summer with the 2016 SummerSlam pay-per-view. Let’s see what Vince and Co have in store for us tonight.
The show starts with breaking news that Finn Balor injured his shoulder in the match against Seth Rollins to capture the Universal Championship. He has a torn shoulder and will be out of action six months. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley are in the ring and they bring out Balor. This guy showed guts finishing the match last night. Damn fine champ. He will be missed the next few months. Balor gets on the mic and says the title represents a lifetime of sacrifices. Balor thanks WWE, the wrestlers, and Seth Rollins. He then thanks the crowd, which starts a “Thank you, Finn!” chant. He assures the fans that when he returns, the title is the first thing he is coming for. Balor relinquishes the title to Foley and then walks out of the ring. As Balor gets to the top of the ramp, Seth Rollins comes out strutting and laughing. He strolls right by Balor, chomping his gum and heads to the ring. Balor stares daggers into Rollins’ back.
Rollins gets in the ring and hugs Stephanie. He gets on the mic and says what a shame, what a pity, let’s not live in the past. “At least now we know who the REAL winner was at SummerSlam last night, right?” Rollins says let’s have a celebration for the true Universal Champion. Sami Zayn interrupts. Zayn doesn’t say anything. Just points at the title. And then Chris Jericho comes down. He also says nothing. Kevin Owens comes down. Enzo Amore and Big Cass come down, and for once Enzo is not on the mic. The ring is quickly filling up. Rollins stands off to one side, leaning against the ropes and looking annoyed as the other men argue. Then Roman Reigns comes down. Still nobody says anything. Crowd starts a “We want Slater!” chant. Foley finally speaks. He says everyone in the ring is deserving, so WWE is doing a series of matches with the crowning of a new champion next week. Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins are the first competitors and it happens next, right after the first commercial break.
Rollins takes quick control and after a few moments, Zayn crumples under a bad left leg. Seems to have gotten legit injured. Zayn launches himself out of the ring, flips, and knocks Rollins down. Zayn screams and grabs his ankle. Rollins throws him in the ring, knee to the face, cover, but Zayn kicks out at two. Commercial break. When we return, Zayn hits Rollins with a big clothesline. He still can’t put any weight on his leg. The two trade blows until Rollins kicks him on the side of the head. Rollins gets a leg submission on, but Zayn rolls to the bottom rope. Pedigree by Rollins for the pinfall victory. Shocking start to Raw. Not even sure what to make of it. Balor out at least six months, and now Sami Zayn injured. Tough day to be a wrestling fan.
Kevin Owens comes down to take on Neville, who is in the tournament for the Universal title apparently. Winner advances. Neville drops Owens outside the ring as soon as the match starts, then hits him with a 450 splash. Jericho comes down to distract, allowing Owens to attack Neville from behind and take the upper-hand. Commercial break. After, both men trade offense, topped off by Neville hitting a suplex. Owens misses a frog splash. Neville hits a corkscrew moonsault off the top rope and covers, but Owens kicks out at two. Neville lifts Owens up and suplexes him into a bridge cover. Kick out at two. Impressive match so far for Neville. Neville tries a Red Arrow, misses, Owens super kick. Neville kicks him, climbs up for the Red Arrow again, and Jericho distracts. Neville kicks him off the apron but Owens recovers and puts Neville into a torture rack into a neckbreaker. Cover and that’s it. Owens wins and advances. After the match, Michael Cole says the match for the title next week will be a Fatal-4-Way.
The New Day comes down after the break. New Day celebrating 365 days as champions. Incredible. The Club interrupts, calling New Day and the crowd stupid. Big E vs Anderson in singles competition. Big E dominating to start the match, until he takes a shot to his knee and falls down, clutching it. Anderson immediately attacks it. Big E tosses him out of the ring. Gallows tries to interfere, but Xavier and Kofi stop him. Big Ending in the ring and Big E covers Anderson for the pinfall victory. Okay match, short and not really all that entertaining.
Titus O’Neal is in the ring. He fumbles for his words and can’t seem to form a coherent sentence. He complains about The New Day and Brooklyn. He then insults Darren Young and Bob Backlund. He calls out Young, but instead Backlund runs down. He puts the crossface chickenwing on Titus, but he gets out of it and slams Backlund to the mat. Darren Young runs down to check on Backlund. Titus picks up Young and hits the Clash of the Titus. That was a cringe-worthy segment.
Tom Phillips interviews Stephanie about actions against her brother by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. She says there will be consequences. Lana is in the ring and brings out Rusev. His opponent will be Big Cass who comes out with Enzo on the mic. Cass goes to work on Rusev’s taped up ribs. He clotheslines him out of the ring as we go to commercial break. Rusev has taken control when we return, and strikes Cass in the back. Outside the ring, Rusev kicks Enzo to the floor. Cass rolls out and gets him in the ring. Splash in the corner and some punches to the ribs. Rusev rolls out of the ring, avoiding an Empire Elbow. Cass follows him out and throws the US champ into the steel steps. Rusev walks up the ramp and allows himself to get counted out. Cass wins and advances.
Charlotte comes to the ring with Dana Brooke. She insults Sasha, calls herself the queen, and goes to leave. As she is getting out of the ring, Mick Foley comes out. Charlotte asks for the night off and says there is no one else to challenge her. Mick says not so fast, please meet the newest member of the Monday Night Raw roster….Bayley! Crowd goes wild! Bayley comes out and this moment has been a long time coming. Yay! You cannot help but to love Bayley. Crowd starts chants for her before anybody can speak. Bayley thanks Foley and asks if they can seal the deal with none other than a hug. Bayley challenges Charlotte for the title. Charlotte isn’t dressed to compete, but Dana Brooke is. That match is next!
Bayley has fun to start and then gets to work against Brooke. Dana recovers and slams here into the corner. Bayley returns the favor and pounds her head in the corner and then bounces her off the turnbuckle. Cover, but Brooke kicks out at two. Charlotte distracts and Brooke knocks Bayley off the apron. Brooke throws her against the barricade. Back in the ring, Brooke clobbers Bayley and tries a cover. Bayley fights back and drops an elbow off the second rope. Bayley to Belly suplex and Bayley wins her Raw debut! Charlotte looks on in anger.
Braun Strowman roars his way down to the ring, set to take on yet another jobber. Should be short and sweet. Few powerful moves and then a cover. Strowman wins. Meh. This just doesn’t interest me. And if this is leading to Strowman facing Kane, Big Show, or Mark Henry, you can count me out.
The Dudley Boyz come out, set to say farewell to the WWE. Bubba Ray and Devon will be sorely missed and are well on their way to a Hall of Fame bid. Hometown crowd goes wild for them. The Boyz give a heartfelt speech, thanking the crowd, the WWE, Edge and Christian, and even The Hardy Boys. As The Dudley’s go to leave, they are interrupted by The Shining Stars. Crowd starts a “We want tables!” chant. Primo and Epico offer them two tickets to Puerto Rico. Devon and Bubb Ray shut this shit down, clobbering both men. Bubba holds up 3D. They hit it! Then they hit WAZZUP from the corner! Bubba Ray shoves his brother and the crowd screams get the tables, and I swear to god I got tears in my eyes. Devon gets a table out. Bubba sets it up, and Primo is about to go for a ride. But Anderson and Gallows interrupts! Devon is thrown into the steel steps! Magic Killer on Bubba Ray on the floor. Crowd boo’s. My goodness, this segment took a turn. Devon tries to fight back, but he is double teamed and thrown back into the ring. They set Devon up for Magic Killer and hit it, sending him through the table. Wow! That was easily my favorite segment of the whole night. Hope this sets up a feud! Maybe The Dudleyz have one more match in them!
Chris Jericho comes out ready to take on Roman Reigns for the final spot in next week’s Fatal-4-Way to determine the new Universal Champion. Jericho controls the flow to start the match. Crowd is starting to lose interest in the show, starting chants and doing the wave. This Brooklyn crowd has been pretty rude the past few days, to be honest. Headbutt by Reigns, followed by some punches but Jericho answers with a dropkick. Headlock by Y2J and he screams for Reigns to give up. Reigns is favoring is left eye. He clotheslines Jericho to the mat. Reigns misses with a Superman Punch but blocks Jericho’s submission. Kick to the head and Reigns is down. Kick out at two. Y2J off the top rope but Reigns catches him with a punch. Y2J on the apron and Reigns kicks him. Jericho tries a lionsault, but Reigns gets his knee up. Superman Punch and a cover, but Jericho kicks out on a long two. Y2J attempts a Code Breaker, but Reigns catches him and powerbombs him. Jericho kicks out at two. Kevin Owens runs in to distract, Jericho rolls Reigns up, but kick out at two. Superman Punch and instead of covering, Reigns goes to the corner. He runs for a Spear, but Jericho drops him and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Reigns crawls to the rope and forces the break. With the refs back turned, Owens punches him in the face. Jericho hits Code Breaker, covers but Reigns kicks out at two! That was an unexpected false finish. Nicely done! The match continues. Owens screams at Jericho to do it already. Y2J slaps Reigns in the back of the head over and over. Owens gets up on the apron, Superman Punch on him, Reigns turns, off the ropes, and Spears Y2J into a pin for the win. He joins Owens, Rollins, and Big Cass in the Fatal-4-Way next week.
Hard to get into the show with such a depressing opener. Sort of took the wind out of the sails right out of the gate. Hats off to all the guys, they did their best in the ring. But WWE programming just isn’t getting better, and now yet another setback with Balor’s injury. WWE just can’t catch a break. I won’t judge too harshly as Raw was interesting to watch and I didn’t really complain much. But we needed more. Overall, though, this wasn’t a terrible Raw. And we have to give WWE a fair shake whenever we can because they make a lot of mistakes. The booking tonight was mainly out of their hands. What do you guys think about Finn Balor’s injury and the future of Monday Night Raw? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for Smackdown Live!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
This article is going to be a long one. So much happened in pro-wrestling this week! We’ll start with the rumors and news first. TNA Impact Wrestling original, The Cowboy, James Storm reportedly is unhappy with his place in the company. He’s been seemingly agitated because all his friends are leaving for greener pastures and he’s stuck dealing with Dixie Carter and company. We reported earlier this week that he might be leaving TNA in the very near future.
–WWE saw the suspension of three of its Superstars during this past week. All Red Everything, Eva Marie, was suspended after reportedly testing positive for Adderall, a controlled susbtance used for the treatment of ADHD. WWE also suspended Alberto Del Rio and Paige for both testing positive for different substances after a night of partying. Our article on that suspension can be read HERE.
–Monday Night Raw kicked off the week, with their go-home programming. It was uneventful to say the least and really didn’t help garner excitement for SummerSlam. Most notably, it completely burned Finn Balor’s Demon King entrance on a free show instead of waiting for Sunday. Brock Lesnar got an interesting opponent, but otherwise, rough night. Check out our full review HERE.
–Tuesday’s Smackdown Live didn’t go much better. Featuring 12-man tag match that would happen again at SummerSlam. Eva Marie failed to wrestle, again. And John Cena takes on Alberto Del Rio for about the 500th time. Check out the full review HERE.
–As usual, business really picked up on Wednesday as NXT set the stage for Takeover: Brooklyn 2. Hideo Itami was in action, as well as six women in tag action. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura sat down backstage in an interview with William Regal. Our article about the episode can be read HERE.
–The second round of the Cruiserweight Classic continued afterwards with another set of amazing matches. Japan’s Akira Tozawa took on England’s Jack Gallagher in one of the best bouts of the tournament so far. Later, Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese (both from the United States) put on an absolute clinic wrestling match. It had it all; brutality, story-telling, cheating, heel work, high-fly moves, and everything in between. Read all about it HERE.
–Dixe Carter gave us yet another excellent TNA Impact Wrestling broadcast on Thursday. We saw an Ascension to Hell tag team ladder match. Moose and Eddie Edwards went one on one. Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway got a surprise guest ref. And Billy Corgan suspended somebody! Check out all the action right over HERE.
–Friday night was jam packed with NJPW action. AXSTV gave us a new episode which you can read about right HERE. That same night, Ring of Honor presented Death Before Dishonor XIV, featuring their own roster taking on NJPW legends in what was an epic start to the weekend. Jay Lethal put his title on the line against Adam Cole, Dalton Castle went toe-to-toe with Kazuchika Okada, and The Briscoes each gave us an epic battle in singles competition. It was one for the record books and was a wonderful show. Read all about it HERE.
–The WWE Network gave us NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II on Saturday night, and the atmosphere was electrified. No Way Jose took on Austin Aries, the mysterious Ember Moon had her long-awaited debut, Bobby Roode took on Andrade “Cien” Almas, Bayley tried to become the first 2-time NXT Women’s Champion, and Samoa Joe put his gold on the line against Shinsuke Nakamura in an epic slugfest. This one had it all, and if you missed it, that’s a shame. Read the full results and our review HERE.
–SummerSlam rounded out the week of programming, it what was billed as a six hour event. The preshow started at five and that had three matches before the actual pay-per-view even got started. Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton went to war, as did John Cena and AJ Styles. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor battled to be the first WWE Universal Champion. And Dean Ambrose defended his belt against Dolph Ziggler. We also saw several tag matches, and Sasha Banks taking on Charlotte. Unfortunately, for my $9.99 it just wasn’t enough and the whole program felt flat. Read ever match results as well as feedback for the entire show HERE.
That’s it for last week. Tune in tonight as we live tweet Monday Night Raw and post our feedback for that as well. Let us know in the comments below what your favorite show, match, and moment of the past week was in the comments below. Have a good day, wrestling fans!
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker