After watching Smackdown’s Backlash PPV last night, Raw has a lot to live up to. General Manager Mick Foley starts off the night, acknowledging Becky Lynch’s victory in winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship, but insists that Raw still has the best female wrestlers in the business. He invites out Charlotte, who is accompanied by Dana Brooke. Charlotte makes it clear that she is fed up with Dana Brooke, then Sasha Banks comes out to tell Charlotte that she’s taking back the Women’s title at Clash of Champions. Bayley is out next, saying that she also deserves a title shot for beating Charlotte last week. Sasha takes off her jacket and hits Charlotte square in the face with it, which just cracked me up. Mick Foley decides that Sasha and Bayley will face off, with the winner facing Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Out of nowhere, Dana slaps Charlotte across the face, which has been a long time coming. With that, Mick adds Dana to the match, making it a Triple Threat to decide Charlotte’s next opponent.
The triple threat match starts right after the break, with Brooke looking strong right away. Banks’s lower half of her midsection is completely taped up, but she gets the upper hand on Brooke and tries for the first pinfall. Brooke throws Banks from the ring, then Bayley sneaks in to try for a pin. She quickly gets control of the match, locking Brooke in an arm bar that she is unable to break free from. She throws Brooke against the ropes, where Banks drags her out of the ring. The two team up briefly against Brooke to keep her out of the match. Brooke isn’t out for long; she targets Banks’ injured back and then sets her sights on Bayley. Banks gets back in, stacking Brooke and Bayley in the corner to hit them with her knees, but Bayley rolls away and goes to the ropes to hit a cross body. Brooke hits Bayley and Banks with a double clothesline, then tries pinning both women to win the match. Sasha hits both women with a superplex, but can’t finish this. She hits a backstabber into the Banks Statement, but Bayley breaks the submission hold. Bayley hits Brooke with a Bayley to Belly, but now it’s Sasha breaking things up. She rolls up Bayley and secures the win and her match at Clash of Champions!
Backstage, Dana Brooke tries to apologize to Charlotte, but is shut down as our champion demands Brooke grab her bags, then walks away. We move on to a dreadful Shining Stars promo. Primo and Epico are trying to sell a timeshare to R-Truth in Puerto Rico. Not even R-Truth can make these two interesting. Before Truth can waste his money and more of his time, Goldust saves him and takes him away. Enzo and Cass step in next to shut down the not-so-Shining Stars. Enzo challenges the pair to a tag match for later tonight. Next, Tom “Tyler” Phillips interviews Kevin Owens, who is fed up with both Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Owens promises to leave Clash of Champions with his Universal Title. Jericho pops in next, announcing to Tom “Felipe” Phillips that Sami Zayn will be on the Highlight Reel tonight.
Back in the arena, Bo Dallas makes his way to the ring. He says some Dr Seuss rhyme to his opponent, Brandon Scott, and to the audience about Bo-Lieving in Bo. Scott is able to drive Dallas fro the ring, but is caught in the corner, allowing Dallas to slam him to the mat. The crowd is chanting “Let’s Go Jobber” as Dallas hits a clothesline. He quickly pins Scott for the win in a fast squash match.
The Highlight Reel is up now, and Jericho is upset that Kevin Owens was not allowed to be on the reel tonight. He gets down on the mat to demonstrate how low he thinks of Sami Zayn before inviting him out. Jericho rubs in the fact that Owens and he are no longer friends, then Zayn asks why he’s even here. Jericho wants to know why Zayn ruined his friendship with Owens, but Zayn doesn’t want to talk about him anymore. He does want to talk about the Universal Championship, which he plans on winning one day. He also points out that if Jericho honestly believes that Owens is his true friend, he is the stupid idiot in this equation. Jericho gets fed up and hits Zayn with a cheap shot into a Code Breaker.
Sheamus and Cesaro are facing off in the 5th match in the Best of 7 series. This is a No Disqualification Match! Just kidding; they haven’t given us anything interesting to vary these matches whatsoever. Just regular ol’ matches, first to pinfall or submission. Sigh. Cesaro tries for a submission hold, but Sheamus slips outside of the ring. He hits some uppercuts before rolling Sheamus back into the ring for a pin attempt. Sheamus is up 3 victories to 1 right now, so Cesaro can’t lose tonight. The two go up to the top rope, but Cesaro knocks Sheamus away and starts again with the punches to the face. He hits a crossbody and goes for a pin on Sheamus. Cesaro is on his back, while Sheamus tries for the Cloverleaf. The nearfalls are starting now as Cesaro locks in the Sharpshooter, but Sheamus gets to the ropes. Cesaro is able to roll Sheamus up and use the ropes to secure the pin and get the win, moving this series to 3-2.
Backstage, Seth Rollins addresses Foley; he’s grateful for the save from suspension but unhappy with Roman Reigns getting yet another title shot. Foley says that Reigns was just as wronged as Rollins was. Rollins wants to bring Stephanie McMahon into this conversation, especially considering what Triple H did, but she’s away in Singapore. Foley gets heated when Rollins questions his integrity, and Rollins ends the conversation by calling him a fool if he continues to support McMahon.
Nia Jax faces off with Alicia Fox next, which is her first match against a regular member of the Raw roster. Jax quickly throws Fox into the corner, flinging her around like a rag doll. She fights back, but is knocked out of the ring. Jax follows her out and gets a kick to the face before Fox jumps on her back. Jax quickly regains control, throwing Fox into the barricade over and over. Jax drives Fox through the barricade, getting a brief “Holy Shit” chant for her efforts. Love it! As the referees attend to Fox, Jax stands by, glaring at her opponent before walking away to cheers from the crowd. I’m so glad to see the fans getting behind her!
The New Day come out to brighten the mood, promising us that we will NEVER have to see that godawful “Old Day” nonsense ever again. Thank you, New Day. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson come out to break up the fun, getting some cheap heat by calling the crowd stupid. They promise to win the tag titles at Clash of Champions, and head to the ring to face Woods and Kingston. Woods and Anderson start things off, with Woods delivering elbows to the rhythm of the New Day Rocks chant. Kingston tags in and goes to the top rope to deliver a boot to the face. Anderson pins Kingston in their corner, then tags in Gallows who throws Kingston from the ring, allowing Anderson to tag in and take Kingston to the mat. Gallows kicks Kingston in the face once he’s back in the ring, then hits elbows. Kingston is able to knocks Gallows off the apron, but is hit with a Spine Buster by Anderson. The Club start using quick tags to isolate Kingston and keep Woods out of this match. Woods is finally back in the match and he knocks Anderson into the ropes, takes out Gallows, and nearly wins the match. The two trade punches, with Anderson ending it with a rough uppercut. Woods is able to hit a DDT, then dives off the top rope to hit an elbow. The Club gang up on Woods, hitting the Magic Killer for the win.
Jinder Mahal, AKA “The Man Who Comes In Peace,” comes out to the ring next. Who made up that nickname? He says something in foreign, then lets us know that he has learned to let hate go and has found inner peace. I miss 3MB. Cue Jack Swagger, our representation of America, who is apparently going to beat up the evil peace-loving Mahal. Mahal immediately goes to his knees, saying he comes in peace, then hits Swagger with some forearms before pinning his neck on the ropes. Swagger regains control outside of the ring, but Mahal kills his momentum as soon as the two reenter the ring. He tries pin after pin, but Swagger won’t stay down. He hits a belly to belly suplex, followed by a kick to the face. Mahal counters the Swagger Bomb and gets the pin on Swagger! That one was a surprise. Good for him.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass come out now; the crowd goes wild when these two enter an arena. The Shining Stars come out next, and get the exact opposite reaction from the crowd. Literally no one cares. They are terrible. Enzo faces off against Epico, who lifts Enzo into a vertical suplex. He asks if he should do it again as the crowd chants for Enzo. Epico tries for a quick roll up but can’t get it done. Enzo starts landing punches, then dances around the ring before going to the top rope. Primo distracts him before he can dive off the rope, but Cass steps in and takes Primo down. Enzo dives off the top rope to take down the Shining Stars, and the referee begins the count. Enzo is about to suplex Epico, but Primo grabs his leg, allowing Epico to get the pin for the victory. What?
Backstage, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins square off. Owens confronts Rollins about his lack of momentum since returning, but Mick Foley breaks things up before it can come to blows. Foley then warns Rollins again to stay out of tonight’s main event. Back in the arena, Roman Reigns walks out to a chorus of boos as we get ready for the last match of the evening. As the bell rings, Owens immediately rolls out of the ring. Reigns goes on the chase, delivering punches and knocking Owens down. He rolls Owens back into the ring, where our champ gets Reigns down to his knees and delivers kick after kick. Owens starts in with the trash talk, allowing Reigns to get the upper hand, which earns boos from the crowd. Owens takes control back (after an obnoxious fan WOOOOS right in his face), going for a pin. He gets Reigns in a chin lock while mocking his “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy” speech. Owens is gold. Reigns is finally able to fight out, delivering clotheslines and yelling about something while the crowd hates on him. After the commercial break, Owens has Reigns back in a chin lock, telling him he sucks and to stay down. Reigns gets to his feet, but throws himself into the ringpost thanks to quick thinking by Owens. He throws Reigns into the stairs, but Rollins runs down the ramp and begins attacking Owens, causing Owens to win via DQ. Does this mean I don’t have to see Reigns at Clash of Champions? Or is Foley about to kill Rollins’ title chances?
Foley gets in Rollins’ face and the two stat yelling at each other. Foley demands that Rollins go backstage so they can talk, then restarts the match. The bell rings and Owens immediately throws Reigns into the stairs again. Reigns starts to gain his Cena-strength and hits Owens with punches before hitting a clothesline that Owens made look awesome. He starts hitting Owens in the chest, then lifts him up and into a Samoan Drop. Please don’t let Reigns win. Owens goes full Matt Hardy and bites Reigns on his side to block a move on the ropes, but sadly Reigns gets back in position. Owens counters at the last second, but John Cena — I mean Roman Reigns, kicks out at two. He hits a frog splash but long-haired Cena kicks out at two again. Owens shoves Reigns in the back of the head, telling him to stay down. Owens hits a superkick, mocks Reigns’ battle cry, and tries for a Cannonball, but Reigns ducks away. Reigns hits a Superman Punch, but Owens thankfully kicks out. Owens hits two solid kicks to the face, then connects with the Cannonball. Twice! Reigns lifts Owens up into a powerbomb, but he kicks free. Man. I do not want a Triple Threat match, you guys. Come on. Out of nowhere, Rusev shows up! His distraction allows Owens to hit the Pop Up Powerbomb and win the match! Thank you, Rusev, for saving us from Reigns in a main event. Bless you.
Owens makes his way up the ramp, but Rusev isn’t done. He attacks Reigns, who is now lying helpless in the middle of the ring. Rusev lands punch after punch to a helpless Reigns, who is “out” according to our announce team. Lana stands at the top of the ramp, holding Rusev’s title and looking gorgeous. In the ring, Rusev locks in the Accolade, screaming as Reigns is twisted and unable to counter. Give me more Raws that end with Reigns getting his ass kicked!
I went into this Raw expecting the worst, partially because I was exhausted from grocery shopping and dealing with pharmacies and a sick kid, and partially because Backlash last night was so good. I’m glad that they surprised me tonight with a great show that had minimal lulls. The main event was fantastic, thanks to Rollins, Foley, and a surprise return by Rusev. Next week on Raw, the Cruiserweight Division will make their debuts, and I cannot wait! Be sure to follow @facetoheel on Twitter for updates throughout the week.
Article by Mrs. Jamie Baker
I’m in desperate need of a pick me up tonight after yesterday’s depressing situation with Finn Balor, who relinquished the Universal Title due to injury. Nikki Bella is set to make her official Smackdown debut this evening, coming after her surprise return at Summerslam. On the Smackdown Live preshow, it was announced that Stephanie McMahon fined Brock Lesnar only $500 for his attack on her brother, Shane, so it’ll be interesting to see if that is addressed tonight.
Smackdown begins in the locker room where AJ Styles names himself as The New Face That Runs The Place, thanks to his victory over John Cena at Summerslam. He puts on Cena’s “Never Give Up” armband that Cena left in the ring on Sunday, then calls out Dolph Ziggler for being a loser. After a brief brawl, Styles leaves the locker room. New feud?
The two new titles are in the ring as we begin; the new tag titles are the same design as the originals, but are colored silver on a blue leather belt. The new women’s title is also an exact replica of the original, but with a blue background behind the “W.” Before you start bitching, they could have gone off the wall with all of this, but they kept it simple. Let’s not let it ruin the entire show, okay? Daniel Bryan tells the six women of Smackdown that any one of them could potentially be champion, and the crowd start chanting for Nattie. The new Smackdown women’s champion will be crowned at Backlash, the first Smackdown exclusive PPV, and the contenders will be decided with a Six Pack Challenge. This will also be where the Smackdown tag team champions will be crowned, with a Tag Team Title Tournament that will start tonight and crown a winner at Backlash.
Slater’s Gonna Slate! Heath Slater interrupts regarding his lack of contract. Slater proposes to Bryan and McMahon that they allow him to compete for the tag titles. Slater is hilarious; I love this. Bryan says that if Slater can find a partner by the end of the night, they will turn this into an eight team tournament. But Slater will only get a contract if he wins the ENTIRE tournament. Poor Heath Slater and his fifteen children.
AJ Styles picks this time to come out, tells Slater to get lost, and says that they need to talk about The New Face That Runs The Place! It seems like Styles is letting this new title (that he has given himself) go to his head. Out of nowhere, Ziggler comes out and clocks Styles in the back of the head! Bryan and McMahon send the entire tag division out of the ring to break it up! Damn, this was a great start to the night. Kudos.
Our first match will be Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss, with Naomi and Natalya ringside at commentary. The match is pretty back and forth in the beginning, with Lynch looking for the Disarmer and Bliss able to block every attempt. Bliss is the smallest on the Smackdown roster, but quite possibly the most vicious. Bliss gets Lynch caught up on the ropes and is able to get a pin attempt, but Lynch counters with clotheslines that takes Bliss down. Bliss slams Lynch to the mat into a pin via flip from the middle rope, but Lynch kicks out at two. Lynch is able to lock in the Disarmer and Bliss has no choice but to tap. Natalya is on commentary with an attitude, going back and forth with Naomi in an awkward exchange as Lynch celebrates her win.
Backstage, Slater approaches The Miz and asks if he will be his Tag Team partner. Slater thinks that Miz is agreeing to do it, but it turns out that Miz is on his bluetooth talking a movie deal and didn’t hear a single word that Slater said. Poor Heath Slater and his twenty-five hungry children.
Our next match is a first round Tag Team Tournament Match; The Ascension versus The Usos. The Ascension attack The Usos as soon as the bell rings, taking them down and going for an early pin. Using quick tags, they are keeping their opponent isolated and unable to tag in his brother. The crowd starts a small Uso chant, but it fades quickly as Konnor goes for another pin attempt. Uso finally tags in his brother and hits a Cross Body, then a super kick on Viktor. He hits a Samoan Drop and goes for the finish, but Konnor jumps in to save his partner. Jimmy hits a splash and gets the pin for the win. JBL keeps telling us that The Usos are the favorites for this tournament, but I’m not buying it.
The New Face That Runs The Place is going to try to make his entrance uninterrupted; AJ Styles comes to the ring, still holding Cena’s arm band. Styles says he sees lots of angry faces in the crowd (not to mention jealous faces in the locker room) because of his win at Summerslam. Styles wants the Cena fans to convert over to Styles fans so they don’t have to cry into their cereal. As Styles is yelling, Ziggler comes out again to go on the attack, but security and Bryan stop it from happening. Bryan says that Styles does indeed deserve to be the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but since Ziggler and Styles want to fight so bad, they will have a match tonight. If Styles wins, he gets a title match at Backlash. If Ziggler wins, he gets added to the match and it becomes a Triple Threat. Second option please!!
Up now, Carmella will be facing the returning Nikki Bella. Before the match, Renee Young enters the ring to interview Nikki. Carmella isn’t having any of it though and attacks Nikki mid-sentence. She lays Nikki out and the crowd cheers! Eventually, another referee jumps in to break it up, but Carmella is yelling insults and refusing to back off. She leaves the ring, only to jump back in and attack Nikki once more as she cradles her neck. I’ve gotta say, I like this side of Carmella. It was also nice not to see the predictable Bella win upon her return.
At the top of the second hour, Randy Orton comes out, obviously not dressed to compete give the ten staples in his skull. He gets a great welcome from the crowd, and admits that he was in one hell of a fight against Brock Lesnar. Orton says he is unhappy with the match being called as a TKO. Suddenly, Bray Wyatt’s music hits! The man steps out alone, slowly walking to the ring with his lantern in hand. He sits in his rocker, asking Orton how his head is feeling. Wyatt saw Orton’s eyes go blank after Lesnar busted him open, and says it is a reminder that Orton is just a man. A man who hurts, suffers, and dies. But Wyatt is not just a man, he is a God. (Sidenote: this only works if you guys start booking him better!!) He promises that Orton will find out more “in time.” And just like that, he vanishes.
Backstage, Slater asks Arn Anderson if he will be his tag team partner. He tells Anderson that he is his last and final hope! He’s running out of time. Anderson declines, but Rhyno steps in and volunteers himself to be Heath’s partner! I’m so glad that Slater’s thirty-seven children won’t have to go hungry!
Our next Tag Team Tournament Match is American Alpha versus Breezango. Gable and Fandango start things off, with Fandango immediately going to the ropes for a break. Breeze and Jordan tag in, and American Alpha take out both of their opponents before the legal men get back in the ring. Jordan and Gable are so good, but the main roster audience still isn’t behind them as they should be. A USA chant gets going, which means… what exactly in this match? Gable gets Breeze locked in an arm bar in the middle of the ring, targeting the shoulder. Alpha is using quick tags to keep Breeze isolated, but he is able to shove Gable into Fandango and nearly win the match.
During the commercial, Breeze and Fandango have controlled the match, but when we return, Jordan comes in and dominates both Breeze and Fandango, delivering fantastic suplexes before tagging in Gable. Jordan attacks Fandango outside of the ring to keep him from interfering, then tags himself in. The near falls are starting now, and things are getting tense. This is a fantastic match! These four are bringing their best tonight, and it’s a shame they both can’t advance. Breeze and Jordan are going back and forth with pins, and both looks frustrated beyond belief. Jordan hits a suplex into a spear, then tags in Gable who pins Breeze for the win! This was awesome, but I’m glad my boys won. And I’m glad they didn’t awkwardly caress the tag titles like The Usos did.
After a relaxing night of gambling, Dean Ambrose comes out to join the commentary team to watch our main event from ringside. Ziggler and Styles will battle, and hopefully we don’t see John Cena. I’m probably asking for too much. The crowd is split on who to support, and Styles is quick to leave the ring to get a breather. To remind you, a Styles victory guarantees him a match at Backlash against Ambrose, but a Ziggler victory makes that match a Triple Threat. As we return from commercial, Styles is in control and Ziggler is stuck in the corner, but he’s able to dodge and get some relief. Ziggler is thrown hard against the turnbuckle, then hit with a backbreaker into a pin. Ziggler tries for a very sloppy, and obviously unsuccessful roll up before Styles retaliates and knocks him to the mat once again. Ziggler is finally able to land a few punches, but Styles catches him on the ropes with a neckbreaker.
Styles is not holding anything back in this, throwing Ziggler into the stairs and all but ignoring the referee’s instructions. Ziggler finally hits a beautiful dropkick on Styles! Both men are briefly down, then Ziggler tries for a pin after an elbow drop. Ziggler hits the Famouser but Styles kicks out just barely in time. I want a Triple Threat; come on! Near fall after near fall, and neither man will give up. Ziggler hits an amazing DDT, but damn it, Styles kicks out. I’m stressed out at this point. Just make it a Triple Threat because you know it’ll be awesome. Styles hits Ziggler with a cheap shot while he is hung up on the ropes, then hits the Styles Clash for the win. Damn it.
After the victory, Styles gets in Ambrose’s face and snatches off his headset. I always forget how tall Ambrose is until we have moments like this. Styles backs off with a smile on his face, and we end our broadcast. This was a fantastic Smackdown! After a couple of weeks thinking that the brand split wasn’t agreeing with WWE anymore, we get a much needed night like this. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and we’ll see you all tomorrow for NXT and CWC coverage!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Summerslam weekend officially begins with NXT Takeover in Brooklyn. We have a very highly anticipated title match, a chance at redemption, two in-ring debuts, and some good old fashioned revenge on tonight’s horizon. The preshow kicks off at the Barclays Center with Renee Young, Mauro Ranallo, and Lita. We get a look at Shinsuke Nakamura’s arrival, which he makes alone, and then go to Samoa Joe who is flanked by security due to his out of control temper. Afterwards, Bayley takes us back to look at her journey through NXT leading up to this rematch against Asuka.
Discussing the match between No Way Jose and Austin Aries, Ranallo believes that both men need to win tonight. We then move backstage to see Bobby Roode’s arrival; he calls Brooklyn the “armpit of New York” and says that tonight, he will take NXT to the next level and will make it glorious! Billie Kay gets interviewed afterwards, promising to make Ember Moon suffer a loss during her debut. After a look at the growing crowd, we get a look at The Revival and their opponents for the titles tonight; Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Finally, we get a fantastic look at Nakamura and Joe; I cannot WAIT for this match!
NXT Takeover officially begins with the competitors for tonight conducting separate interviews about where they were one year ago and what they hope to accomplish tonight. It’s an incredibly cool video package. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves are on commentary for a sold out crowd, of course. Over 15,000 fans are in attendance tonight for what is sure to be a fantastic evening.
First off, it’s party time! No Way Jose comes out and the crowd is screaming his name! Jose circles the ring with a conga line of lucky fans following behind. Austin Aries gets a fantastic pop himself as he enters the arena. This match has been two months in the making, and Aries looks confident and cocky as hell. Aries gets Jose down on the mat quick, angering Jose who better control his temper if he’s going to win. The crowd is chanting Aries’ name as Jose slaps him across the face. He slams him to the mat and hits Aries across the back, then delivers chops to the chest. Aries uses his ring awareness to avoid more attacks, exiting the ring and baiting Jose in to deliver a serious kick. Aries waves off the match and tries to retreat up the ramp, but Jose won’t allow it. He tries to go into the crowd, but Jose drags him back.
Aries regains control and smashes Jose’s throat into the ropes before hitting him with some hard knees. Aries tries for a cover, but Jose isn’t ready to give up. The rowdy crowd is cheering for Jose, who regains his footing and sends Aries over the top rope. Aries locks in the Last Chancery in the middle of the ring, and the crowd loses it, but Jose makes it to the bottom rope to break the submission hold. Aries dives from the ring to knock Jose into the barricade, then throws him back into the ring, using the ropes to hurt Jose even more. Jose is getting fired up, but Aries is determined to break him down. He locks in the Last Chancery one last time, and it’s enough to make Jose tap. This was a great match and one hell of a way to kick off our evening!
Aries has won the match but he isn’t done with Jose yet. He locks in the Last Chancery yet again, adding insult to injury. As he’s torturing Jose, Hideo Itami’s music hits! This is awesome! Itami goes to the ring, and Aries hits him with a cheap shot. Itami isn’t having it, he hits Aries with some fast flying hits and takes Aries down with ease. A great match just got even better with this ending it. Itami is fantastic!
Billie Kay heads to the ring now, followed by the debuting Ember Moon! She walks out shrouded in darkness, then rips off her hood and mask and becomes a ball of energy! I like her already, and I love the red contacts! Moon has got some amazing moves, but Kay is holding her own. Kay hits Moon hard in the chest and goes for a cover, but Moon kicks free. Moon hits a flying crossbody into a cover, but Kay kicks out at two. Kay gets moon on her shoulder to lock her in a submission hold that doesn’t look comfortable for either woman. Moon regains control, doing a flip to hit Kay in the corner. She goes to the top rope and hits a spinning stunner to pin Kay for the win! A couple speedbumps in this match, but overall a very solid debut for Moon. I’m eager to see what else she has in her arsenal.
Andrade “Cien” Almas is undefeated, and Roode is just now making his on-screen debut, so this is a must win for both men. Roode’s music hits and the crowd loses it! He is on top of a giant pillar of awesomeness, arms outstretched, slowly lowering him to the ground as he looks up at the lights. His entrance is GLORIOUS! Almas sadly does not get the warm welcome that Roode received. The match begins as the crowd starts a “This is GLORIOUS” chant for Roode. Brooklyn is all about Bobby Roode tonight. Roode tries to throw Cien from the ring, but he catches himself in the ropes and poses, then hits a serious chop followed by a dropkick. Still, very little fan support for our high flier. He finally fakes out Roode and gets a good reaction from the audience. Roode knocks Cien from the ropes, then the two men begin trading chops.
Roode lifts Cien straight up in the air, then hits a vertical suplex into a cover. He gets Cien in a chinlock in the center of the ring, but Cien breaks free, kicks Roode from the ring, and delivers a springboard corkscrew onto Roode. He then hits a crossbody for the win, but Roode kicks out. Cien tries to build momentum but Roode hits a rough clothesline and tries for a pin. Roode tries for a suplex, but Cien counters and rolls him into a pin. A lot of close calls during this match. Roode hits a spinebuster and looks ready to end this match. He hits the Glorious Bomb and pins Cien for the win. Questionable finisher, but great match for both men. It was, dare I say… GLORIOUS!
Time for some tag team action; Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are challenging The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championships. The Brooklyn crowd is very much behind Gargano and Ciampa, so we’ll see if luck will be on their side or if the fans are in for a letdown. Dawson and Ciampa start things off, with Dawson rolling out of the ring to break Ciampa’s momentum. Dawson is nearly counted out, getting back in the ring at the last second. Gargano is tagged in and the two team up against Dawson, with Gargano going for a pin. The “Johnny Wrestling” chants begin as Gargano tries to keep control and Wilder tries to drag his partner back to his corner. Wilder tags in and Gargano is able to get him into an arm bar, but Wilder lifts him and slams him into the mat, tagging Dawson back in. The Revival try to double team Gargano, but he sees it coming a mile away, slides to safety, but then all four get in the ring and start fighting. The Revival quickly move out of the ring, but Gargano dives out to take down Wilder, and his tag partner follows to destroy Dawson. The Revival soon begin using quick tags to keep their opponent down and isolated in the wrong corner of the ring.
The Revival try and steal a victory, but Ciampa isn’t done fighting. He tries tagging in Gargano, but Wilder won’t let him reach. To Ciampa’s credit, he is kicking out of everything they throw his way. Wilder fakes a fall into the ring, distracting the ref. Ciampa tags in Gargano, but the referee didn’t see it and throws Gargano back out to the apron. Dawson knocks Gargano off of the apron and tries to attack Ciampa, but he dodges. Gargano finally gets the legal tag in and hits a kick to the side of Dawson’s face, but he kicks out! He pins him AGAIN for another nearfall, and this is intense at this point. They have got to be trying to give us heart attacks with all these hear falls. Ciampa locks Dawson in a painful looking submission, but Wilder is able to break it up. Ciampa and Dawson look ANGRY at this point, and begin trading punches. Wilder and Gargano and legal; Ciampa and Gargano hit a double kick to Wilder’s face and he is pinned, but he gets his foot on the rope. HOLY SHIT, GUYS. Dawson is attacking Ciampa outside of the ring, then Wilder hits Gargano’s knee hard; he looks injured. Dawson locks in a submission, targeting Gargano’s injured knee, and he finally taps. I’ve gotta say, I’m let down at a tap out victory after such an epic tag team match. Even with a shaky finish, this was incredible. What a show. Gargano and Ciampa receive a standing ovation from the crowd after the champs leave the arena.
It’s time to see if Bayley can recapture the NXT Women’s title! She comes out first to a huge pop; everyone loves Bayley! I love the addition of the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Men at ringside. Asuka is out next, and she’s added a bit to the face paint; she looks intimidating as hell and ready for a fight. The “Asuka’s gonna kill you” chants start as Referee Eyebrows holds the title above his head. This is a different Bayley we’re seeing tonight; she knows what to expect now from Asuka and she is better prepared. Asuka hits Bayley hard in the nose with her knee, and Bayley looks legitimately hurt as Asuka laughs. Bayley isn’t giving up; she gets back in the ring and Asuka continues her assault. She slams Bayley in the corner, pounding her into the ringpost. Bayley tries to get a hit in, but Asuka dodges and gets Bayley caught up on the ropes. She lands a vicious kick to Bayley’s head, then tries for a cover. Bayley finally gets control, slamming Asuka’s face into the ringpost and hitting a suplex to take her down. She hits a knee to Asuka’s face as she lays on the mat and goes for a pin. Asuka gets herself caught in the ropes, and Bayley takes advantage to land some punches. She hits a crossbody into a pin, but Asuka kicks out.
The “Bayley’s gonna hug you” chant starts as she goes to the top rope, but Asuka dodges the effort and retaliates with a Shining Wizard. The two women are on the top rope, Asuka trying for a superplex, but Bayley slips away. She hits Asuka with an elbow drop, but can’t get her down for the three count. Asuka gets Bayley in an ankle lock, then starts hitting her with kicks to the chest. Bayley finally catches her leg, but Asuka starts punching her in the face. Bayley tries for a backslide into a pin, but it doesn’t work. Asuka tries for the Asuka Lock, finally getting it in; Bayley is in trouble. She yells, flipping herself over and managing to get to her feet to fight the champ off. She hits a Bayley to Belly into a pin, but Asuka kicks out. Bayley gets caught in the Asuka Lock yet again, but Bayley breaks loose and pins the champ, but she kicks free. She slaps Asuka across the face, angering the champ who kicks her in the face. As Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch look on, Asuka pins Bayley in the middle of the ring for the win. This was an excellent match, and I’m glad Bayley has Banks and Lynch there for support. Bayley is looking broken in the middle of the ring. Asuka learn down and pulls Bayley up, and the two embrace in the middle of the ring. It’s really nice to see the match end in this way; a show of mutual respect. As the crowd chants “Thank You Bayley,” she exits the ring and goes to hug Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and some of her adoring fans. Thank you, Bayley.
It’s time for our main event! Samoa Joe leaves the locker room flanked by security while Shinsuke Nakamura sits alone in his locker room to prepare quietly. I probably won’t cover this match in too much detail because I want to watch as much as possible. HOLY SHIT THEY HAVE SOMEONE PLAYING VIOLIN LIVE FOR SHINSUKE! This entrance!!!! Fifteen thousand people singing Nakamura’s theme as he walks to the ring. Magical, is the only word to describe it. Samoa Joe comes out without all the bells and whistles, but the crowd is still chanting his name. Joe shows Nakamura no respect, shoving him as soon as he gets into the ring. The bell rings as Brooklyn sings Nakamura’s entrance song. This is epic. The two go down to the mat, and neither is able to gain the advantage.
Joe locks Nakamura’s wrist and takes him to his knees, but Nakamura breaks out. Joe gets his arms around Nakamura’s head; the two go to the corner and Nakamura starts taunting his opponent before laying in some hard knees to Joe’s midsection. The two move outside of the ring and just barely beat the count back into the ring. Joe hits an insugiri but doesn’t even bother going for a cover. Nakamura gains control back and hits a knee on Joe’s face, but Joe quickly counters and sends Nakamura to the mat outside of the ring. Joe dives from the ring to take his challenger down, then rolls him back into the ring for a cover. Joe has the clear strength advantage here, but Nakamura refuses to lay down. He gets Nakamura’s arm locked behind his body, but he gets to the bottom rope to break Joe’s hold. Every time Nakamura gets the edge, Joe knocks him down. Nakamura lifts Joe to the top rope and delivers a knee to the midsection. Is this match going to go until 11pm? Because it should. It should go on forever.
The King of Strong Style is in control, but Joe is able to hit a counter; not full strength but enough to stop his momentum for the moment. Joe hits Nakamura HARD and send him spinning. Nakamura tries for a cross armbreaker, but Joe has his hands locked in and won’t allow it. Joe locks in a Cloverleaf to try and get Nakamura to tap, but he makes it to the bottom rope. I lied when I said I wouldn’t cover in detail; there is too much going on to skip over anything! Joe locks in the Coquina Clutch, but Nakamura gets his foot on the bottom rope. Nakamura hits a German Suplex to send Joe flying! The crowd is losing it! But Joe hits a powerslam and pins Nakamura, nearly getting the victory. The nearfalls are coming now; this is getting tense. I am now cussing in my living room. Nakamura hits two kinshasas and HE WINS THE TITLE! More f-bombs are dropped; I can’t believe it! What an amazing moment! This is quite honestly the best ending to a PPV. I love Nakamura and I am so happy right now, there are no words. Nakamura goes undefeated still, taking down the beast that is Samoa Joe. Top this, Summerslam. I dare you.
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Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
We are halfway through the week and almost to WWE’s second largest event of the year! Summerslam is Sunday, but NXT will truly kick things off with NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II. Tonight, Hideo Itami opens our evening with a match against Mustafa Ali, who you may remember from the Cruiserweight Classic. Ali gets Itami down early and yells insults to the crowd, which fires Itami up. He mocks him right back, delivering knees and an insulting kick to the head. A lot of focus is still on Itami’s surgically repaired shoulder, but he doesn’t seem fazed by it. Ali is showing off his acrobatic skills before hitting a neckbreaker on Itami for a pin attempt. He calls him an old man and orders him to stay down. Itami responds by hitting clotheslines, then a vicious flying kick to the head. The crowd screams FINISH HIM and Itami complies, hitting a knee to Ali’s face and pinning him for the victory. A very energetic match.
Moving on, we get a look at what to expect at NXT Takeover this Saturday. We get a look back at Bayley’s journey from losing the title to Asuka up to the contract signing last week. She has one hell of a challenge ahead of her. Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa discuss the excitement of competing in New York City. Austin Aries says that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, then No Way Jose responds to Aries’ disrespectful actions. The two will face off in a few days. Bobby Roode and Andrade Cien Almas make it clear that neither fears the other. William Regal delivers a message about NXT Takeover being the best yet, but Billie Kay interrupts and ends up getting a match at Takeover against the debuting Ember Moon.
Our six women tag match is up now; Liv Morgan, Nikki Glenncross and Carmella versus Alexa Bliss, Mandy Rose, and Daria Berenato (who looks like she wants to be a UFC fighter). Glenncross and Bliss start things off, and poor Glenncross looks outclassed and outmatched. Glenncross gets a good hit in and starts yelling at her opponent, then hits a crossbody for a pin. Berenato and Morgan are tagged in, and Bliss steps up to hit a cheap shot from the apron. Mandy Rose takes her turn with an odd looking submission hold on Morgan that she turns into a pin attempt. All the announce team can talk about is how pretty Rose is, which is frustrating. We need to take our females seriously, not treat them like eye candy. Berenato locks in a submission of her own on Morgan, who is isolated in the center of the ring. Carmella finally gets the tag in and takes Rose to the mat. She pins Rose but Bliss breaks it up. Glenncross comes in to help, but Berenato hits a rough spear to take her down. Carmella locks in Code of Silence on Rose and makes her tap for the win!
Backstage, Regal makes preparations for the interview with Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura. Security is everywhere to keep this from devolving into an all out brawl. Byron Saxton will be conducting the interview. Nakamura is wearing camo pants and a plaid shirt and making the weirdest faces in Joe’s direction. Both men are excited about their match on Saturday, but Joe still feels disrespected by Regal because of the way that this match was put together and the fact that Nakamura got this title shot so early and so easily. Saxton asks Nakamura why he is so calm and if he is taking this seriously, but Nakamura says that calm is his style and he does take this very seriously. Joe says he knows Nakamura very well, and even had him train at his dojo. Nakamura doesn’t recall training at JOE’S dojo. He respects what Nakamura has done, but doesn’t respect the man. Joe says he’s going to beat the respect into Nakamura, who looks totally unaffected by Joe’s temper tantrum. We end the night with Regal sending everyone away.
Overall, this was a nice lead in to Takeover. We got a preview of all the matches on the card, finally named an opponent for the mysterious Ember Moon, and got one last interview with Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura before their epic battle. Follow us on Twitter at @facetoheel and stay tuned for our predictions article .
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Last July, I bid farewell to Total Divas, erasing the series from my DVR and not looking back. If not for the constant updates for the E! reality show on Raw and Smackdown, I’d have no idea what was going on with the manufactured drama and scripted reality series. If you’re still blissfully ignorant to what Total Divas is about, it is an hour long show that follows the lives of the Bella Twins, Natalya/Nattie, Eva Marie and a host of other females who have varied from guest stars to full time cast members. Other recurring stars include Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Tyson Kidd, Jimmy Uso, close family members, and various members of WWE staff (talent relations, trainers and seamstresses). The show has received mixed reviews, from “uninteresting” to “Total Divas feels real-ish” to “meet your new guilty pleasure!”
The first season began with the then-Divas preparing for WrestleMania 29 and showed a lot of backstage footage. It was an interesting look behind the scenes that we had not seen before. There was a lot of focus on the women’s personal love lives, some of which involved other WWE athletes, and seemed to heavily lean on the actual lives of these women instead of producer-manufactured situations. Season 2 came with a warning sign; Summer Rae joined the cast but did not go by her real name as the other Divas in S1 did before her. It was the first indication that reality was out the window. Rosa Mendes joined the case in S3 (as Rosa) and brought with her an absurd bisexual storyline and fondness of walking around naked in front of the other cast members. I watched the first episode of S4 and then was out for good, so I’ve missed two entire seasons. In that time, Naomi/Trinity and Cameron/Ariane were removed from the cast, Rosa was removed and then brought back, and Tough Enough runner-up Mandy Rose/Amanda Saccomanno was added.
Season 6 did the impossible and managed to throw me back on the bandwagon. I will be adding Total Divas back to my DVR and watching Season 6, though I can’t promise that I will get through the entire thing. It does seem like a lot of effort is being thrown into the series now. Brie Bella’s retirement will be a storyline on the E! reality show instead of an event on Raw or Smackdown. Cast members Mandy Rose, Alicia Fox and Rosa Mendes are being dropped to make room for Maryse Mizanin (wife of The Miz), Lana, Renee Young (who has already guest starred and hosted the aftershow), and the returning Naomi/Trinity. This gives us the opportunity to see Renee’s relationship with Dean Ambrose, Maryse’s with The Miz, and Lana’s with Rusev.
My decision to go back to Total Divas is 100% due to Lana’s decision to become part of the cast. Since her debut, Lana has been impossible to ignore. She signed to WWE in June 2013, debuting later that year in NXT and eventually pairing with Alexander Rusev. Rusev debuted on the main roster alone at the Royal Rumble, with Lana’s debut coming a week later. She was a hard-ass, no-nonsense Russian with no love for America, but we loved her for it. Short skirts, legs for days, and a smile that went from sweet to sinister at the drop of a hat, Lana soon became a favorite of the WWE fans and the We Want Lana chants soon followed. She split from Rusev briefly to align with Ziggler, turning her face until the news of her real-life engagement to Rusev hit the news. There were rumors everywhere about horrible backstage heat Lana faced due to her killing the storyline with Ziggler. The story had a happy ending though, as Lana was able to gain independence from Rusev and wrestle her first WWE match at WrestleMania this year. I want to know more about Lana. I want to hear her without the Russian accent, I want to see what she’s like out of character, and I want to see how the rest of the roster interacts with her. I’m not alone either; there is a contagious curiosity surrounding the Ravishing Russian, and people will no doubt tune in to get an inside look.
Adding Renee Young to the mix was another genius move, but it has little to do with Renee herself. In September of last year, Dean Ambrose, who is extremely private when it comes to his personal life, released a statement regarding Young during an interview. He said “I wouldn’t be with anything less than the optimal, most beautiful, most tremendous girl in the world. But the bottom line is, [Renee] is far too good for me. But it’s too late and I’ve got my claws stick into her now, she can’t go anywhere.” The relationship has been low-key, but the fan who is interested in watching Total Divas is likely the same fan who is searching “who is dating who” when it comes to the WWE roster. To that fan, Young and Ambrose are a package deal and we could be seeing glimpses of him on the reality show in the very near future.
Our new core cast is Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Nattie, Eva Marie, Paige, Naomi, Renee Young, Lana, and Maryse. If your favorite cast member(s) didn’t make the cut for season 6, you will likely get to see them anyway; Naomi, for example, was cut from being a core cast member but still made multiple guest appearances. This show seems to be best suited for females like the retiring Brie, the non-wrestling Renee Young (and possibly Maryse, as early speculation says she will not be returning to the ring), and Eva Marie, who simply doesn’t know how to wrestle. Naomi, Paige and Nattie may continue to see their wrestling careers stall out, as it’s difficult to see these women falling over each other after too many drinks and then take them seriously in the ring. Total Divas represents a very different world than our current female’s division now that they have dropped the “Diva” and butterfly and have talent like Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch killing it every night. WWE has the chance to separate the silly from the serious and really build up the Women’s division while still holding on to the Diva brand that they clearly love. I will be tuning in for the S6 premiere and will post episodes reviews, but I can’t yet promise that I’ll stick it out for the entire season. That said, with the new casting decisions, I think Total Divas is going to look entirely different for S6, and I’m getting excited for it.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Monday Night Raw was left in the hands of Shane McMahon on the post-Mania episode, and Shane did a great job of mostly hiding backstage and letting the talent do the talking for him. We had an interesting twist with Wade Barrett leaving the League Of Nations, setting the stage for his upcoming departure from the WWE and allowing the Wyatt Family to have a show stealing moment. The entire Women’s Division turned face by walking out on Charlotte as she bragged about the title and received a challenge from Natalya, teasing an upcoming Flair Family vs Hart Family feud. In a questionable call, AJ Styles won the #1 Contender’s spot for the World Heavyweight Title during the main event. This was not the post-Mania Raw that we expected, but the high points were there if you take the time to look.
The Wyatt Family looks to be back from whatever slump they were forced into. If Bray was injured, he definitely isn’t now, as he hung backwards off the ropes and hit a Sister Abigail with ease. Their goal is still a mystery, but I would enjoy seeing them enter the tag title picture. Even better, I’d enjoy seeing Bray Wyatt go back to showing interest in the Heavyweight Title. When it was previously teased, the fans lost their minds. Money In The Bank is June 19th, which gives us plenty of time to set the stage for Wyatt to enter that ladder match and grab the briefcase. With the League down to three members and Luke Harper out injured, we have three evenly matched teams that could definitely face off against each other. The Wyatt’s would be great contenders to the New Day’s titles, and they are polar opposites of the dancing champions, which would make for a very interesting match. I hope their appearance was a statement of what is to come instead of just a random beat down.
We only received one Women’s match; a questionable singles pairing between Summer Rae and Sasha Banks. Banks obviously won and the crowd obviously broke their necks looking for any sign of a Bayley debut. I can’t tell if they are saving that moment for a PPV or if they honestly think that what the division needs is a feud with Charlotte and Natalya. Nothing against either of these woman, but that isn’t what is selling right now. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but I have no interest in a drawn out fight for the title between these two. Sasha Banks deserves another shot at the title; she was not pinned or submitted at WrestleMania, plus she was prevented from returning from the match thanks to Ric Flair. She of all people has earned one more shot at the very least. Banks has also expressed interest in a Women’s Ladder Match at MITB, so perhaps she gets her wish this June and uses that to get her next title shot. As far as I’m concerned, she is heading this division, and I hope her ideas are listened to and honestly considered.
Apollo Crews had a strong debut at the expense of former NXT alumni, Tyler Breeze. Baron Corbin also had a strong Raw debut in a match with Dolph Ziggler that cemented his heel status and made me very excited to see what Corbin will do next. We got a tease for the Smackdown debut of The VaudeVillains. The debut of the night has to go to Enzo Amore and Big Cass. The arena exploded with How You Doin, everyone was on their feet, and we all learned how good Amore can be on the microphone. NXT Takeover Dallas was unquestionably better than WrestleMania, so it’s no surprise that the high points on Raw mostly involved new NXT come ups. Over the past couple of years, not counting the very recent debuts, we’ve seen Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Paige, Big E, Xavier Woods, Kalisto, The Wyatts, Adam Rose, Kevin Owens, Konnor and Viktor, Neville, Rusev and Lana, Sami Zayn, and Tyler Breeze. With the exception of The Miz, all of our current champions were pretty recently part of NXT. Emma returned to NXT and came back to the main roster even stronger. Whatever they’re doing with NXT is working, much better than the current formula for running the main roster, so maybe all these call ups and focus on former NXT talent is a sign that major changes are coming to how Raw and Smackdown talent are managed.
The part of Raw that I find difficult to look at in a positive light is when Roman Reigns came to the ring, which got four potential competitors fired up enough to warrant a main event. The Fatal 4-Way for the #1 Contender spot was beyond predictable; we need to stop creating main events based on who punches who during the first hour of Raw. That isn’t even the main issue here; the glaring problem with the Heavyweight title picture is the man who holds the title. Reigns returned after having his nose broken as an angry man who let his fists do the talking. And then, at WrestleMania, he returned to his fist-cocking, headbanging cartoon character existence. With AJ Styles as his next opponent, it’s clear that Reigns is meant to be a major heel, but that won’t happen if he keeps acting like everything is a joke. Godawful promos, making childish faces and overselling the simplest of motions make him look like a total fool. I want the audience to boo Reigns because he’s a successful heel, not because his character sucks and we’re tired of seeing him.
Reigns needs to drop the title at Payback and be removed from the title picture until he can get a grip on who he wants to be in the WWE. We need another contender to represent The Authority so that when Seth Rollins returns, he can go to war with Triple H. We have a lot of athletes who could easily step in and take this role on. If we’re stuck on having Styles as the new champ, he could easily align with The Authority and be their go-to guy for a while. Bray Wyatt would work in the sense that he could be used as The Authority’s wild card; uncontrollable but sharing the same mindset as they do, eager to take down anyone who steps in their way. Any member of the League of Nations also works. Because we don’t have to immediately set the stage for Rollins’ return, we can have Cesaro, Kevin Owens, or Brock Lesnar. Hell, Lesnar works for a rematch with Rollins since he was never pinned when he lost the title. There are a lot of possibilities and none of them require Roman Reigns to work.
Raw was an indication that new things are on the horizon and that new talent is at the forefront. The Bellas, once the go-to women for the female division, were not only pushed to the preshow of WrestleMania, but were entirely absent from Raw in order to make Brie’s retirement into a Total Divas story. The veteran twins don’t have a place at the top anymore, not when we have 3 of the 4 horsewomen on the main roster, with the 4th on her way up soon. We had multiple debuts with one more on the horizon, highlighting everything great about the younger talent in NXT. It’s easy to be frustrated with the current state of the WWE when you consider how lackluster WrestleMania was and how Raw didn’t hit our high expectations, but there seems to be a solid plan in place to turn things around and get us excited to watch wrestling again. Mania missed the mark, of that there is no doubt. Now is the time to change direction and ensure we focus on what works and what excites the fans. Get rid of Eva Marie and give us Bayley. Burn down the Roman Empire and let some fresh blood have a shot at holding the title. Give us the same unpredictability as you did when Zack Ryder won the IC title. Make us get excited about wrestling again. And for the love of all that is holy and good in the world, take a hint and stop trying to shove people down our throats when we are so strongly rejecting them.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
After last night’s WrestleMania, I may be ready for another vacation from wrestling; if Raw doesn’t bring the house down tonight, I’m taking a break until the Payback PPV. We started the night off with a two hour preshow that began with the US Title match. Kalisto defended his title against Ryback at 5:45pm while most of the fans weren’t even in the building, and before the preshow was on USA Network for those fans without the WWE Network. It was a terrible way to treat the title and the two men competing for it. If WWE doesn’t treat the title as something important, why should the fans care about it?
The two USA Network preshow matches were The Usos vs The Dudleys and Team BAD & Blonde vs Team Total Divas. The women’s match was all about Lana, at least in the buildup. When it came down to the match though, we barely got any Lana and instead got Brie acting like Daniel Bryan. If she’s retiring and needs to go out with a great match, fine. But how is stealing her husband’s moveset a positive way to go out? It was frustrating to watch. The Usos vs The Dudleys was the one match I assumed would be a throwaway, but it ended up being confusing. The Dudleys are meant to be the heels here, but were playing to the crowd, getting cheered, and it was the Usos who closed out the match with a questionable heel-like ending by putting Bubba and D-Von through two tables. The best part of the preshow kickoff was when Lita unveiled the new Women’s Title; that thing is a masterpiece.
WrestleMania began with the ladder match for the IC Title, which was phenomenal. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens looked like they honestly hated each other; both men were intense and focused on getting the win. There were some pretty scary spots, especially Sin Cara diving off a ladder and onto Stardust, who lay on a ladder outside of the ring. The tribute to Dusty Rhodes with Stardust’s gear and the polka dotted ladder was such a heartwarming gesture. We were teased with Miz stealing a victory, but ultimately Zack Ryder won the title. Zack Ryder. Who saw that one coming? I was incredibly happy with this entire match and pumped for the rest of the night. Every single competitor brought their A game and put everything on the line. There was not a single moment of downtime, and that ending was nothing short of genius; no one seriously thought that Ryder would walk away as champ. I loved it.
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho was basically the same thing we’ve already seen. Jericho keeps kicking out of the Styles Clash, which is frustrating, and then he beat Styles, which is confusing. You would think we’d be protecting the talent that is going to stick around and be here week after week, not handing the veteran a win so he can go off and tour with Fozzy. Outside of a confusing win, the match itself was stale and slow, and the crowd was not feeling it. Styles has been over as hell since his debut, but he keeps getting stuck in matches with Jericho. When do we get to see something else? I swear, if we get Styles vs Jericho, Take 5 at Payback, I’m cancelling my Network subscription.
New Day’s entrance was fantastic, coming out of a massive box of Booty-O’s, but the actual match with League Of Nations was very boring. The crowd looked as if they had fallen asleep at one point. I still can’t understand why the titles weren’t on the line here; every title should be up for grabs at WrestleMania. The whole competition for who is the stronger faction would be fine if that actually meant anything. Remember when Rusev came out in a tank? Where was that showmanship and fanfare this year? The best part of this match involved three men who had nothing to do with the match; Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. Sweet Chin Music, Mandible Claw, and Stunners for everyone! It was an awesome moment that made me hopeful that the night would be picking up.
Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar was next, and this one had to be good considering it was No Holds Barred. Unfortunately, it was Kendo Stick city with an odd and abrupt ending. It felt like someone backstage ordered the ref to cut the match short. I had been looking forward to this ever since they announced it, and this is what we got? Ambrose and Lesnar could have gone to the extreme, but instead all they did was hit each other with sticks and play with a fire extinguisher. There were some good moments, of course, but overall this was confusing, short and not extreme at all. Lesnar can obviously beat the shit out of people with ease, and Ambrose can take a beating like no other, so why didn’t we get a bloody all-out brawl? Why was Ambrose suddenly unable to continue after we’ve seen him get up and come back after going through worse? I went into this match thinking it would be one of the best of the entire night, and instead was left shaking my head, wondering what the hell I just watched.
The Women’s Title was on the line next, and Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte did a great job here. They absolutely killed it and showed us what the female division should look like, and hopefully what it will look like from here on out. My complaint is that Charlotte won with the help of her daddy. Again. Ric Flair prevented Sasha from returning to the ring, which allowed Charlotte time to get Becky to tap. Why in the holy hell are we pushing the strength of a new Women’s Division and still having the champ rely on a man to help her win? Flair should have stayed the hell out of it. This made Charlotte look weak, like if it were not for daddy, she wouldn’t be champ. I don’t want Daddy’s Girl heading the Women’s Division, I want someone who doesn’t need a man standing behind her because she can stand strongly on her own.
Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker was up next, and this match looked exactly how you would expect. A fight between two old men who probably shouldn’t be doing half the things they are trying to do. This was slow and tedious. The highlight was Shane diving off of the top of the cage and onto the announce table, resulting in Taker able to pick up the win and Shane getting carried off on a stretcher. The two broke out of the cell at one point, so an interference would have been awesome, but we didn’t get that. We didn’t really get anything. This was terrible.
The Andre The Giant Battle Royal was interesting with the addition of Shaq as a competitor, but overall it was nothing special. The highlight was seeing NXT star Baron Corbin pick up the win. I hope this means we’ll’ be getting him on the main roster; the guy is seriously on fire. With the Battle Royal moved off the preshow and onto the main card at the last minute, I was expecting to see a hell of a lot of action and surprises. Shaq is gimmicky, not something main-event worthy. I don’t get why this match was moved because other than Corbin’s victory, there was nothing special about this at all. Unremarkable and forgettable. I honestly can’t remember anything about this other than being confused that Shaq showed up and Corbin being the last man standing.
The Rock finally showed up next and faced off with The Wyatt’s which got me hyped up. Rock was in his ring gear, but we didn’t get Bray in the ring; Erick Rowan stepped up to compete and got his ass handed to him in 6 seconds. What is the point? Then, the Family gangs up on Rock and John Fucking Cena comes to his rescue. Honestly, guys, could we have gone one WrestleMania without him? I’m so tired of Cena getting shoved in our faces at every opportunity, especially when he is constantly greeted by a chorus of boos because everyone over the age of 8 is fed up with his cartoonish antics. The Rock would have been better utilized in the Roman vs Triple H fight by interfering and having Reigns turn on him. It would also have been better if we weren’t informed that he would be a part of Mania months ago. We suspected that Stone Cold would be there, but we didn’t see promo after promo advertising the fact, so we got hyped up when his music hit. With The Rock, we were waiting for it all night because WWE has been telling us week after week to expect it.
Our main event was next. Triple H had an awesome entrance as usual, though the whole speech by Stephanie McMahon was a bit odd, and Roman Reigns came out looking all broody as the crowd booed him. The high point was seeing Steph get speared, and the low point was everything else. Predictably, Reigns won. I knew Reigns would win, so that isn’t my issue here. My issue is this entire match was lazy and uneventful and unworthy of a WrestleMania main event. This is the biggest match on the biggest show of the entire year, and it felt like a throwaway Raw moment. Reigns won for the third time, and no one cared.
WrestleMania went over their allotted time by almost an hour, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it was necessary. I’ve already seen the “this is setting things up for Payback” arguments, and quite honestly, I think that is bullshit. WrestleMania is the event of the year; it should not be mediocre in order to set up things for an upcoming PPV. There is no excuse for not putting every title on the line. There is no excuse for lazy booking and shoddy performances. I shouldn’t be so bored during your main event that I mute the PPV and move to a second TV so I can watch the Walking Dead finale.
NXT TakeOver was what WrestleMania should have been. Compelling matches, lots of action and memorable moments, exciting debuts, and match endings that make you cheer even if it wasn’t the outcome you wanted. WWE’s so-called developmental division did the better job this weekend in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the people. Once TakeOver was over, we immediately went back to rewatch some of the matches. When Mania ended, we happily turned off the Xbox and almost instantly forgot about half the matches we watched. I haven’t seen as many Manias as the typical WWE fan, but this was undoubtedly the worst.
Tonight’s Raw is their chance to make things right, and the WWE has a lot of work to do. We still have The Authority in charge since Shane McMahon failed, but Triple H isn’t champion anymore, so I’m curious to see how they address it. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch should get a rematch tonight; the title should have changed hands last night. The tag titles should also be on the line tonight; not defending them last night was a mistake that needs to be righted. We should get a surprise debut tonight as well; seeing Bayley or Finn Balor on Raw would go a long way in righting some of the wrongs we saw last night. Creative needs to pull their heads out of their asses and put their all into tonight’s show. So many fans are jaded after watching a mind-numbing seven hours of wrestling last night; we need something big to pull us back in and make us want to keep watching. As it stands now, I have one foot out the door and won’t have any regrets about taking a few weeks off from Raw and Smackdown.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Triple H and Vince McMahon seem to be butting heads when it comes to who to call up next from NXT, if the online rumors are to be believed. On first glance, it seems to be a backwards story, reporting that McMahon wanted to call up Bayley for WrestleMania while Triple H pulled for Eva Marie. The thought of Triple H asking for Eva Marie over the talented Bayley is a confusing one, until you think of the match that she would have been placed in. Eva is part of the Total Divas cast, which makes her a logical addition to the team. Also, as a 5 on 5 tag, Eva is less likely to be called out for her lack of skills when she has so many other wrestlers around her to cover up her mistakes. Being at WrestleMania is a big deal of course, but this is one of the less important matches on the card.
Triple H has been working fiercely on the women’s division through NXT. He’s perfected their training with the help of skilled trainers and he’s ensured that their focus is on their work in the ring and in promos, not on how pretty they look in their selfies or how many bikini modeling opportunities they can land. He’s searching out women based on talent rather than appearance and will ensure that we get high quality and high intensity matches that are on par with the men. Vince, on the other hand, can’t seem to break free of thinking that looks come first, and the rest will follow. Barbie Blank, better known as Kelly Kelly, was scouted based on her modeling experience and signed to a contract in 2006 even though she had no wrestling experience whatsoever.
With NXT being Triple H’s baby, I would hope that Vince would continue to let him take the lead when it comes to who is ready to come up to the main roster and how they are called up. Eva is an odd exception for me because she started her time in the WWE on the main roster, then moved to NXT per her request in order to try to hone her skills. Bringing her back wasn’t a big deal or an important debut because we’ve already had her once in the same basic character that she currently portrays. Bayley, on the other hand, is at the top of the women’s NXT division, and it can be argued that she’s at or near the top of the entire NXT roster. Her call to the main roster needs to be done Triple H’s way and in the time frame he specifies.
Bayley may be disappointed about being passed over, but she shouldn’t be. She got a major match with Asuka at NXT Takeover, she has been involved in some legendary matches and has headlined multiple NXT events, and she is talented beyond belief. Bayley is going to be a force to be reckoned with on the main roster, but her call up has to be done in a big way, and has to be timed properly so a huge hole isn’t left in NXT. I expect to see it happen in 2016 and personally can’t wait. She has been one of my favorites for quite some time now, and I can’t think of anymore more deserving than her. Not all WWE fans may know her name now, but in due time, no one will be able to forget it.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
WrestleMania. The word is infused with magic. The descriptions surrounding it give credence to something not of this world. “The Showcase of the Immortals”, “The Grandest Stage of Them all”, “The Show of Shows”; phrases that sound like they belong more on a magician’s Las Vegas show than to pro wrestling. In twenty-four hours, the 32nd annual WrestleMania will air on the WWE Network.
This time of year is always a reflection. We look back on what happened over the last year, where we’ve come, and where we are going. I’ve seen a lot of WrestleManias in my lifetime. It’s tradition. In the spirit of that, my co-writer and wife will join me in discussing our favorite matches in WrestleMania history. I’ll begin.
The year was 1997. The place was Rosemont, IL at WrestleMania 13. Stone Cold Steve Austin was hot off his King of the Ring victory the previous year. Austin 3:16 was catching fire, but one obstacle in his path was Bret “The Hitman” Hart. A few months earlier, Austin had cost Hart a shot to win the then WWF World Heavyweight Championship. This feud was exploding and the tension leading up to this match was thicker than deep dish pizza.
Both men fed the hype machine leading up to this match. Bret Hart believed he was, “Screwed by the WWF, screwed by Steve Austin,” and it would leave him an angry, disgruntled man. Bret Hart’s fans began to turn on him. “Bret Hart on his best day can’t lace my boots. And I’m gonna prove that to the world.” That was the pissed off Austin going into this brawl. The peak of their verbal sparring came when Austin told Bret, “If you put an S in front of the Hitman, you have my exact opinion of Bret Hart.” It was a no DQ, no count out, submission match. And both men would be tested.
Ken Shamrock was the special guest referee to ensure things were fair and even. Stone Cold comes out first and even back then he had signs and t-shirts in the crowd, with a pretty decent pop. The rocket was on and he was shooting straight for the moon. Austin gets in Shamrocks face and the two yell at each other. Bret Hart comes out to a mixed reaction from the crowd. Austin’s eyes never leave Hart as he makes his way into the ring. Hart walks towards Austin and the Rattlesnake explodes out of the corner and takes him down. The bell rings and they go to war. It leads to trading punches outside of the ring.
Austin picks him up and drops him right on his testicles on the steel barricade, then clotheslines him over. They start fighting through the crowd. Austin takes a fan’s Coke, takes a sip and then slams it into Hart. They continue fighting deeper into the crowd. Once they get back outside the ring, Austin throws Hart hard into the steel steps, then waits for him to get up, flips him the bird and drops on him. Austin picks up the steel steps but Hart catches him in the stomach with a boot and he collapses. Austin pulls Hart face first into the corner post. And finally they roll back into the ring.
Hart hits a devastating spinning neck breaker and takes control of the match. He goes to work on Austin’s left knee. Austin writhes in pain. Shamrock asks if he wants to quit and Austin flips him off. Austin hits Hart with a Stunner. Hart locks in a figure four leglock using the ringpost for leverage. Austin refuses to give up. Hart picks up the ring bell and a steel chair. He puts the chair on Austin’s left ankle. He climbs the top rope but Austin pops up with the chair and decks him with it. Hart falls to the mat. Austin hits him with another chair shot and the crowd erupts. Austin whips Hart into the corner, then hits a suplex. Austin climbs to the second rope, flips off Bret and then drops an elbow on him. Austin stomps him in the groin. Bret Hart’s daughter is shown ringside covering her eyes.
Austin suplexes Hart and locks his arm into a submission hold. Austin breaks the hold, only to put Hart in a Boston crab submission. Hart reaches the ropes and Shamrock breaks them apart. Austin goes to put Hart in a Sharpshooter, but Hart rakes his eyes. Austin tosses Hart out of the ring. Hart whips Austin into the timekeeper area onto some chairs. Austin is now busted open after colliding with the security railing. His forehead is open and blood starts going everywhere, running down his arms and pooling on the floor. Hart throws Austin’s head into the turn post. Back in the ring, Hart pounces on Austin with kicks and punches to his bleeding head. The ring mat is smeared with blood, but Hart doesn’t let up.
He goes after Austin’s left knee again with chair shot after chair shot. Austin stops a Sharpshooter submission and kicks Hart in the junk. Austin whips him chest first into the corner. Then proceeds to stomp a mud hole into Hart. Austin’s face is a mask of blood. He lifts Hart onto the top rope. He climbs up and suplexes him onto his back. Austin leaves the ring and grabs a long extension cord. He wraps it around Hart’s neck. Hart gropes the ring and finds the ring bell. He smashes it right into Austin’s bleeding head wound. Hart locks in the Sharpshooter. Austin screams but continues shaking his head when Shamrock asks if he wants to quit. Blood drips from his head onto the mat. Austin visibly begins to fade. He struggles one last time to fight out of the hold. He nearly breaks it, but Hart keeps it locked in and Austin reaches for the ropes. Ken Shamrock yells, “Steve, do you give up!” Austin is unable to respond because he is unconscious. Shamrock stops the fight.
The history books record this one as a Bret Hart victory, but truth be told Stone Cold Steve Austin never tapped out, he never said I quit. He embraced the pain until it consumed him. After the match, Hart attacks Austin’s knee. Shamrock puts a stop to that and the crowd goes bananas. Hart leaves among boos from the crowd. Someone holds a sign up towards him that says CRY BABY. A ref comes out and tries to help Austin up. In typical Stone Cold fashion, Austin hits the ref with a Stunner and walks out under his own volition, solidifying himself as the toughest son of a bitch on the planet. Crowd starts chanting “Austin! Austin! Austin!” as he limps up the ramp into the back.
WrestleMania 13 isn’t the greatest Mania of all time. The match card was weird, featuring a couple of odd tag team matches. But Austin vs Hart has been my favorite WrestleMania match for almost two decades. Nothing has ever topped it for me. It was a crowning achievement that featured a rare double turn, with The Texas Rattlesnake turning from heel to babyface, and The Hitman turning from face to heel. This would ultimately lead to Bret Hart escaping to WCW via The Montreal Screwjob and Stone Cold ushering in The Attitude Era, forever changing the landscape of wrestling forever.
My husband challenged me to write about my all-time favorite WrestleMania match, and I quickly realized that it was going to be near impossible for me to do. I only started watching wrestling on a regular basis during CM Punk’s championship reign when we learned that The Rock was coming back to compete, and prior to that had only seen highlights of past Manias. I went from being a very casual and sporadic viewer to tuning in every single week, but there was still a lot that I missed. Even now, with a handful of Mania’s under my belt thanks to the Network, picking one single match is impossible. Instead, I want to take a look at my all-time favorite WrestleMania; the 30th annual event in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This was the first Mania to be broadcast on the Network and via PPV simultaneously. CM Punk, having walked out of the company after the Royal Rumble, was sadly not present in any of the matches. The preshow match, a fatal 4-way tag elimination match, was all about Cesaro. Even though he failed to win, his team was responsible for eliminating two of the four teams present, plus he got the final moment in the match after turning on his partner, Jack Swagger, and putting him into the Cesaro Swing. He came back later in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal and won via huge upset by eliminating Big Show. It was a major show of strength and such a huge honor to think so highly of Cesaro that you would give him the first ever win in this new tournament.
Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker was a match I will never forget. The two went at it for nearly half an hour, with Lesnar dominating Taker from the second the bell rang. The Undertaker looked worn down and outgunned, but he would not give up. Submission holds, F5s, chokeslams, and powerbombs didn’t seem to be quite enough to put either man down, but we all watched with the knowledge and expectation that Taker would somehow find a way to win. When Taker attempted a Tombstone Piledriver, Lesnar managed to counter and hit an F5 that put Taker down. The second that the ref’s hand hit that mat for the third time, I was frozen. Everything was silent; the arena did not immediately hit Lesnar’s music, the crowd didn’t say a word, and no one in my house could even take a breath. Eventually, the “21-1” graphic was displayed as Lesnar exited the arena to a chorus of boos. The Undertaker received a standing ovation and I was pretty damn sure that we would never see him wrestle again. It was such a shockingly good ending to the match, and part of me still wishes that it was the last we saw of Undertaker, because what a way to go out.
I truly felt for the Divas to have to follow that; they not only had the job of putting on a fantastic match, but they had the job of getting the crowd back in the right mindset. At the time, AJ Lee was our reigning Divas champ, and in my opinion, the best we’ve had in recent history. She was paired with Tamina Snuka as her bodyguard, but was forced to defend her title in a 14-Diva match where the first fall or submission won the title. Not every Diva involved brought their best, but AJ always did. She was the first female to ever defend this title at WrestleMania, and she did so successfully via the Black Widow submission hold. While she didn’t compete at the two previous Mania’s, she was important enough to be present at both and have an impact on the matches. AJ broke us out of our sorrow over the fall of Undertaker and got us cheering again with her historic and successful title defense.
We can’t talk about WM30 without talking about Daniel Bryan, who competed twice. The first match on the main card saw he and Triple H face off for a spot in the main event match for the WWE World Heavyweight title. We had been hearing Bryan get called a B+ player for months, told he wasn’t good enough and didn’t look the part by Steph and her husband, something you know for a fact was the honest feelings of Vince and/or Creative. He was short and scruffy, lacking in defined abs or a chiseled jaw, but he was capable of doing amazing things and us fans couldn’t care less about whether or not he looked like a clone of Randy Orton or the guy who changes our oil at Walmart. Bryan was our guy, and watching him get screwed over time and time again made us insanely excited to see Triple H get beaten. After Daniel Bryan won his match against Triple H and qualified for the main event, he suffered a beating that looked as if it would put him out of the main event. We were certain that we just saw Bryan get screwed one last time.
The main event was a triple threat match between Batista, Bryan, and then-champion Randy Orton. This was the WWE’s day of fixing their mistake of having Batista win the Royal Rumble, a choice that the fans revolted against so strongly that it resulted in this rewrite. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Batista, but it was a kick in the face to see him win the Rumble almost immediately after returning while Bryan continued to get passed over. This match was intense and Bryan did not stop for one second. He destroyed Orton and Batista, took out Triple H and Steph, and even managed to get rid of referee, Scott Armstrong (who was sent in by Triple H). At one point, Bryan was loaded onto a stretcher and carried from the ring, but he was able to quickly return to action. We had a moment where it looked as if Batista was going to steal a victory, but Bryan took the win with his YES! Lock, forcing Batista to tap and beginning one of the most phenomenal YES! chants in history. Watching the confetti rain down as Bryan held the two belts above his head, seeing him embrace his family, and watching every single person in that arena raise their arms in the air alongside him was such a fantastic sight.
This is the WrestleMania I want to watch over and over again. The moments that were great the first time around are still just as great the 20th time I see them. For someone who only got serious about wrestling a few years ago, I connect a lot more strongly with the current (and recently retired/departed) roster than I do with some of the older lates and greats. There are countless legendary WrestleMania moments out there that I have yet to lay eyes on, but for me at this moment, nothing comes close to beating WrestleMania 30.
Article by Mr and Mrs Jamie Baker