Disclaimer: I was in a bad mood when I wrote this so reader discretion advised. Read at your own risk.
Our constant readers may have noticed that the F2H family failed to post their usual live review articles about Smackdown Live’s No Mercy and last night’s Monday Night Raw. Have we lost faith in Vince McMahon’s promotion? Are we bored with the product? I’ll answer your question with a question: does a bear shit in the woods? In this instance, the bear is Sean Waltman and the woods is Rena Lesnar’s luggage; and the answer is an emphatic yes.
While on the surface the No Mercy pay-per-view seemed like a solid venture, when you scrutinize it even a little bit, the entire show folds like a wet house of cards. Here is a short list of some of the more cringe-worthy moments of the show. The pre-show featured Jerry Lawler awkwardly flirting and eye-fucking Nikki Bella, a 4-team tag match (overkill in any scenario) that included The Acesnsion, and Curt Hawkins big debut that was only a declaration by him that he would have a match on Tuesday.
Prior to the show, WWE announced the “main event” triple-threat would go on first to start the show, essentially confirming WWE’s lack of confidence in their own product, being fearful that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would pull viewers and bomb their PPV. Although the triple-threat was a decent match, it still featured yet another John Cena title attempt, grasping for the coveted Ric Flair record; and Dean Ambrose in the main event picture, a man with no charism, character evolution, or ability to carry a promotion as either a heel or babyface. And while AJ Styles put on a great outing, I am still watching him on NJPW every week on AXS-TV and his crimped style with WWE is nowhere near his best work in a ring.
No Mercy also featured Nikki Bella utilizing the antiquated 50/50 booking style of WWE in order to beat Carmella. Speaking of the women, Becky Lynch was suddenly injured and not competing. So we saw Naomi not only wrestle but defeat Alexa Bliss. Both finishes were weak and did nothing at all for the losers while barely giving a boost to the winners. The third women’s match of the night was between Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin. Yeah, I said it. Why is this on a pay-per-view? Nobody cares!
The highlight of the night was Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. This was an excellent match and the best on the entire card. Nothing to complain about here. The main event was Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt. Oh great, two of the weakest in-between heel/face chimeras in the entire company. Wyatt has strewn together infinitely more losses than wins. And Orton has been a watered down version of himself ever since returning from injury. The build to this match was terribly dis-interesting. And the big “twist” finish was a Luke Harper run in. This ended a pay-per-view in 2016.
Skip ahead to Monday Night Raw and now we’re really swimming out to the deep end with no life preservers. We’re talking about a show that surprisingly opened with Sasha Banks and Charlotte declaring they were having a rematch INSIDE Hell in a Cell. This was a groundbreaking moment…that was immediately cut short by Rusev interrupting. He insults both of them, along with all women’s wrestling (as does Lana) and hijacks what should have been an epic segment. Then Roman Reigns comes out and further buries the angle. Then, in all of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s jaded wisdom, they put Charlotte on a team with Rusev against the team of Banks and Reigns. Despite Rusev belittling Charlotte, she now gets the “honor” of being his tag team partner.
Do you know why this segment happened? Because Kevin Dunn (a guy that probably has twenty Donald Trump signs in his yard) objectifies women and probably doesn’t think they can carry a moment on their own. They needed big, strong men to come out and bolster their credibility. “Nobody is going to buy women in the Cell! We need men to put it over!” Nevermind the fact that when you have a match with Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte, Lana, and Sasha Banks, the only goddamn babyface in the entire thing is Banks. Reigns is not a face! But WWE continues to try and pair him with any one in order to try and persuade the crowd to oh and ah over him.
Then we have a match between Kofi Kingston and Cesaro. The big angle here is Sheamus sits ringside and tweets during the match. Oh, just brilliant fucking television. Really helps sell Cesaro and Sheamus as a team and absolutely helps make New Day look strong. *vomits in mouth, down onto Ultimate Warrior t-shirt*
Bayley comes out and wrestles Cami Fields. Who? Exactly. She beats a jobber and then gets attacked from behind by Dana Brooke (wearing a way-too-tight outfit) and then Brooke just stands there awkwardly like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights when he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Brilliant. There were four horsewomen in NXT. Becky has the Smackdown Women’s Title. Sasha and Charlotte are breaking new ground fighting for the Raw Women’s Title. Meanwhile, Bayley is given about two minutes against someone named Cami Fields. Just a real career booster for her. Good job, Vince!
The newly formed Cruiserweight Division continues to get its legs cut out from underneath it as WWE, despite having three hours of television, just keeps hitting us with Cruiserweight tag-team matches. We get Tony Nese and Drew Gulak against Sin Cara and Lince Dorado. Without fanfare, Sin Cara is now suddenly in the division. Dorado spends the whole match carrying Sin Cara before picking up the win. According to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, there are only two Cruiserweights named T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick. Anybody who isn’t them will just be the bathroom break match on Raw.
Then we come back from commercial to find Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in the ring. Oh boy! That’ll really boost the ratings! Luckily we are saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But before we can even see them wrestle, they are attacked by The Club. So let me get this straight. Cesaro and Sheamus, a team thrown together two weeks ago get to face New Day, but two of the top three tag teams on Raw have a segment with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel? Then WWE hits us with a bullshit 4-team tag at a PPV the night before? Why not save the multi-team matches for actual talent? I’d definitely watch New Day vs Enzo and Cass vs The Club any day.
Oh, but that segment isn’t even over. After The Club and Enzo and Cass leave, Axel and Dallas are still competing! They demand a team! So we have to suffer through not only them in a match, but a hastily thrown together Sami Zayn and Neville tag-team. Is Teddy Long running creative all of a sudden? We’ve had five matches so far and four of them have featured tag teams! Brilliant! I’m just as baffled as Vince as to why the ratings continue to tank. Fuck you, McMahon.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, we then are “treated” to a match between R-Truth and Titus O’Neal thrown together, on the premise, and I shit you not, of Truth trying to give O’Neal’s favorite candy bar to another wrestler. Now, while I can appreciate both men as they have skill and could be great if pushed properly (yeah right, as if that would ever happen), they certainly should not be in a match facing each other. Why, you might ask? Because they have a combined age of fucking 83. R-Truth is in his mid-forties and Titus is 39. This is not a live-TV match. This is not something you expose people to and then try to laugh off the sliding ratings to the board of directors. In simple terms, this is not a match you put on TV if you want people to take what you do seriously.
Backstage segment with Perkins and Kendrick showcasing the 50/50 booking again. I won’t even elaborate on any of that. Braun Strowman then squashes the “Splash Brothers” (who look like a Sheamus and Xavier Woods cosplay couple) and then asks Foley for stronger competition. If only Braun could be what he’s asking for: better talent. He has become a spectacle much like Big Show, Kane, and The Great Kahli before him. Vince will take a giant, twist and contort them, and turn them into a traveling freakshow.
And then the inter-gender match. Holy shit what a waste of time. Rusev and Charlotte against Reigns and Banks. The big creative ending here was Sasha making Charlotte tap to the Bank Statement timed perfectly with Reigns hitting Rusev with a spear. Been there, done that, played all the way out. Then Reigns and Banks stand with their arms in the air, smiling. As if Reigns was suddenly a good guy. Then T.J. Perkins defeated Jinder Mahal. Oh wait, that was Ariya Daivari. Another useless squash match doing nothing for anybody, including the viewers.
The main event was Seth Rollins versus Chris Jericho. Alright, I really can’t complain about this if I’m being fair and unbiased. It was a great match, highlight of the night for me. My only real gripe is that Jericho has main-evented a shit ton of Raw’s this year and did so again last night. Yes, Jericho is awesome. And his work these past few weeks with Kevin Owens has really been the crutch that has saved Raw from swirling into a black hole from wince there is no return. That being said, Jericho is older than both R-Truth and Titus O’Neal. Is the best WWE can do is to have a 45-year-old in the main event? Does that sound bonkers to anyone else? It says a lot about how incredibly talented and what great shape Y2J is in; but it also speaks volumes about how weak WWE thinks their own product is.
They don’t trust their youngers guys to do the job. They don’t have faith or confidence in their roster. And this is true across the board. Both Raw and Smackdown suffer from this inability to pull the trigger on younger talent. The result is getting a 39-year-old John Cena in a main event trying to get another world title. When is WWE going to move on? They speak of a new era and yet continue hitting us with out-to-pasture talent. Now the big hyped up sell is a potential match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, a match about fifteen years too late between two men with a combined age of 88. Granted, both men are genetic anomalies (Lesnar more so on the chemically enhanced side) and will probably look great. But the point being is that WWE continues to live in the past. And the WWE Universe seems nostalgic to days gone by.
That’s why Sasha Banks gets a pop for mentioning Eddie Guerrero. That’s why Charlotte gets a “Woooooooooo!” every single time she mentions her dad. WWE doesn’t do anything to make their current talent relevant. They are censored and limited and forced to get over by mentioning long since retired or dead Superstars. It’s a vicious cycle all the way around. Fear, uncertainty, doubt; it all mixes together to make WWE unsure of their talent, the talent unsure of their place, and the fans unsure of why they should even give two shits about any of it. There are so many problems to list but I’m just one man and this article is already absurdly long. I have a love/hate relationship with WWE. It’s a frustrating partnership because I see the potential of what this company could be. As a kid I watched wrestling. Then I grew up. But wrestling never did. It plateaued and in some instances took a step back.
You can blame the break of kayfabe. You can blame the dirt sheets. You can blame the internet. You can even blame Vince for bringing too many promotions together and “killing the biz.” It doesn’t matter what the cause was. The effect is what truly matters, and in this case the effect is mediocre, unfulfilling, lazy, and often boring professional wrestling. CM Punk said it best: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire.” The reason why he isn’t is that the wrestling experience he presents is no longer thrilling to a certain extent. We demand more but WWE keeps coming up short. Smackdown Live is on tonight and we won’t be doing a live review for that either. If they want us to write something, they need to give us something worthwhile to write about. Until then, let the onslaught begin.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After WWE tweeted that not only would Becky Lynch not be able to compete at the No Mercy PPV due to medical reasons, but that the main event would start the show, my husband decided that we would skip writing a results article and just try to enjoy the show. The first Smackdown exclusive PPV, Backlash, had a terrible card but turned out to be a great three hours, so I went into No Mercy with a healthy amount of optimism. My mistake.
Curt Hawkins was initially going to have his debut match at No Mercy, but instead popped out randomly during the preshow at around 7:15pm EST before the majority of fans were even in their seats. He walked to the ring to a list of Chuck Norris-type facts while waving around a walking stick. Hawkins announced that his first match would actually be on October 11th on Smackdown, and the crowd couldn’t care less. This was such a poor choice for what was meant to be a strong debut.
The preshow kickoff match featured The Hype Bros and American Alpha versus The Ascension and The Vaudevillains. It was a solid fight, with the Hype Bros and American Alpha picking up the win after a nine minute match. I don’t think this was the best use of the preshow though. We have an entire hour to eat up, and the match only gets 15% of that time? We don’t need to hear Jerry Lawler sexually harass female talent for 45 minutes. Give us longer and better preshow matches.
Our first match was the “main event” where AJ Styles successfully defended his title against John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat match. Styles actually tapped out, but because both Cena and Ambrose simultaneously had a submission hold on him, the match was restarted. First off, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this main event opened the PPV. I thought that maybe they were saving something else for the end of the night, but that wasn’t the case at all. Perhaps they moved it so it wasn’t airing during the debate, but that doesn’t make sense either since everything is On Demand on the Network. It was a confusing move, and I still have yet to figure out why they did it.
Nikki Bella defeated Carmella in a decent match, but Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss in a match that would have been better left off the card. The women had a little over 5 minutes to compete, and it ended with Bliss throwing a fit after her loss. It makes her look weak and childish, which is a poor move considering she is the number one contender for Lynch’s title. Time and time again, we hear about the Women’s Revolution. I’m still waiting for it to begin.
The highlight of the night for me was watching Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully retain against The Usos. It was a solid match and it’s so amazing to hear Slater being cheered for, getting hot tags, and being able to actually perform in the ring instead of job out. The second high point for me was Dolph Ziggler defeating The Miz and becoming Intercontinental Champion. This was a twenty minute match of nonstop action. Online rumors had Ziggler leaving WWE to pursue a career in comedy, and I’m glad it wasn’t true.
Baron Corbin defeated the new and improved Jack Swagger in a singles match that was forgettable. Our actual main event was Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton. I was terrified that WWE was going to try and turn this into their version of Impact Wrestling’s The Great War, but they spared us. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even bother making this match a No Disqualification fight. It was good to see Bray Wyatt finally get a win, but he still didn’t get it clean thanks to a surprise return by Luke Harper. Harper didn’t interfere, simply showed up as a distraction to allow Wyatt to steal a win.
Overall, this PPV was better suited for a Tuesday night episode of Smackdown than it was for a Sunday evening. Whatever magic went into Backlash was completely lost for No Mercy. We apologize for the lack of coverage on Sunday, but have no regrets, as any article we posted was going to tear that PPV into pieces. Hopefully they can get it together by Tuesday and give their talent the better booking they deserve.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The Viper, Randy Orton, slithers to the ring at the start of the show. Starting off with a pun? Yeah, sure, why not. Orton gets on the mic and immediately calls out Bray Wyatt. He says the reason Bray is so obsessed with fear is because he’s afraid of Orton. The Viper says if Bray is man enough then he should get his ass to the ring right now. Wyatt Family sound and we cut to Bray cutting a promo backstage in the dark. He alludes to the story of Hansel and Gretel and says he left his own trail of breadcrumbs for Randy to follow. Then calls himself a god. He says if Randy wants to hurt him he better hurry up. Then he shows an hour glass and says the sands of time are running out. This promo is just all over the map. Desperate times for creatively buried Bray Wyatt. The big screen fades out and Orton rolls out of the ring and walks up the ramp. Flat segment and provided absolutely no new reason to get even remotely excited about their upcoming match.
Dean Ambrose interviewed backstage. He says AJ Styles keeps bragging about beating John Cena, but Ambrose beat Cena last week so he says that it’s old news. He plans on making Styles cry in their title match later tonight. First commercial break at 8:10. So far, Smackdown is not beating Raw. At least they started with a match.
When we return, there are way too many people in the ring. We’re about to have an 8-man tag team match. Goodie. Heath Slater and Rhyno with American Alpha to take on The Ascension and The Usos, who come out to new entrance music. They walk out dressed like Hispanic gangbangers. The Usos start the match isolating Chad Gable and working his taped knee into the commercial break. When we return Gable is still down. Everybody but Slater and Jey Uso go down and Gable finally gets Slater the hot tag. He drops Jey with a neckbreaker but Konnor breaks it up. Jimmy tags in and puts the Tequila Sunrise submission on Slater and he taps out. Short match with nothing new.
John Cena, excuse me….Ghetto Cena, is interviewed backstage. He says at No Mercy he will be a 16-time champion. The Miz and Maryse are shown. Miz covers a hallway photo of Lebron James with a poster of Miz holding the IC Belt. HaHa. Then we cut to Randy Orton looking at some weird pickaxe hanging on the wall in the shadows. He turns it, making an arrow point which he follows. As Orton leaves, Erick Rowan turns the axe the other way. What is the point of all this? I’m bored. That was too many cuts at once with multiple segments just hastily thrown together. Not a good broadcast for Smackdown thus far tonight. Commercial break.
After, Bray Wyatt is shown with the hour glass half run through. He says Orton is running out of time. In the ring, Carmella and Natalya are set to take on Naomi and Nikki Bella. Carmella and Naomi start the match. Sloppy match to start and it only runs for about a minute before yet another commercial break. When we return, Natalya is beating Naomi outside the ring. Near fall back in the ring. Crowd just not into this one, and I can’t really blame them. Carmella tags and continues beating down Naomi who can’t catch a break. She is limping on her right leg. Natalya tagged back in and continues working on Naomi. She is taking a whooping. Nikki finally tags in and for some reason the crowd cheers her. Nikki goes after Carmella but she rakes Nikki in the eyes. She kicks Naomi off the apron and rolls Nikki up for the pinfall.
Randy Orton backstage with creepy red messages painted all over the walls. He enters a door marked I AM A GOD, slowly creeping the door open. Inside is a cardboard cut out of Orton with its eyes missing. He opens another door marked PREDATOR OR PREY. Erick Rowan hides on the other side, but Orton doesn’t enter. He closes the door and walks away. Rowan shakes the handle on the other side and we go to commercial. What in the holy hell are we even watching? This might be the worst episode of Smackdown Live since the brand split. I know Donald Trump fried all our brains last night, but this is bad even for WWE Creative.
The Miz comes out, finally breathing some life into the broadcast. Can’t believe I’m saying that in 2016, but it’s the truth. Miz celebration ceremony. Red carpet in the ring, posters of him in the corners, fireworks shot off at the top of the ramp. Maryse introduces her husband. He gets a lackluster welcome from his home crowd. Then we get to see a Miz build promo package from his Real World days until now. Miz says, “Cleveland, I’m home.” and this time the crowd cheers for him. Then he gets a cheap pop mentioning the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. He says over a million people paraded for them when they won but all he got was a lousy ring setup. He calls Lebron James a traitor and the crowd has turned on him again. HaHa. He welcomes his parents sitting ringside. Dolph Ziggler’s parents are also ringside. He says they created “an elite level, world class loser.” Ziggler’s music hits and he comes to the ring. Maryse keeps Ziggler back. Ziggler calls Miz a cheater and goes to leave. Miz asks him when he’s going to just end his mediocre career. Miz says Ziggler’s career makes him sick and he would be embarrassed if it was his. Miz then utterly destroys Ziggler verbally and it is pretty brutal. Ziggler says give him one more title shot and if he loses he is gone from WWE. “I either walk out champion….or I’m done.” And Miz says at No Mercy in two weeks, career versus title match. Hell yes.
After the break, Bray Wyatt in the back doing another bout of rambling. Becky Lynch comes down the ramp. Alexa Bliss runs down and attacks her from behind. She takes her belt off and tells Becky she doesn’t deserve it. Curt Hawkins vignette that is super lame. And commercial. Then more Bray Wyatt BS. This is hard to watch. The crowd is hitting him with WHAT!? chants after every sentence. Orton stands up behind Bray wearing the sheep mask. Bray turns and gets punched and the two start fighting. Bray runs off as Randy laughs. Randy puts the sheep mask on and starts singing He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands with audio masked with Bray talking. Not sure what that is about. Crowd is so bored they start a New Day Rocks chant.
John Cena joins commentary which only solidifies how much I hate this episode of Smackdown. Dean Ambrose comes down, followed by his opponent, AJ Styles. This match is for the WWE World Championship. The fight spills out to the announce table. Commercial. After we come back, Styles is running the table in the ring. Having a hard time concentrating on the match because Cena talks through the entire thing. The crowd injecting a lot of life into an otherwise generic match. Cloverleaf by Ambrose, then a Calf Crusher by Styles. Neither man submits. Finally some action as Ambrose violently clotheslines Styles off the top rope. Styles misses badly with a 450 splash springboard. Ambrose climbs to the top of the turnbuckle and drops an elbow on Styles. Cover, but kick out at two. Ambrose attacks John Cena on commentary. Cena tries to get in the ring but the ref stops him and misses a pin. Ambrose attacks Cena and then Styles rolls him up for the pinfall. After, Cena gets in Ambrose’s face as Styles walks out. Ambrose tries a Dirty Deeds, but Cena counters into an Attitude Adjustment. Styles attacks Cena from behind but he hits another Attitude Adjustment and then lifts the championship up. Dreadful.
If it wasn’t for the title and didn’t have Cena on commentary, that was the Smackdown of old main event. People are going to call it awesome though. Very bad episode of Smackdown tonight. Strike two for WWE this week. If not for The Miz and Dolph Ziggler, there was nothing worth mentioning. Not sure why Creative has fell off this week, but hard to get interested in the product at the moment. What did you all think of the broadcast? Let us know in the comments below.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Earlier tonight we posted how to book Smackdown Live into WrestleMania 33. If you missed that little gem, read it HERE. To catch up on last week’s episode of Smackdown Live, you can read our full match results and feedback HERE.
Tonight’s broadcast kicks off with Daniel Bryan once again hijacking the show with a YES! chant. I bet he’s sour that Brian Kendrick isn’t on his show. He’s in the ring with a table set up ready for a contract signing. He brings out Becky Lynch. Alexa Bliss enters. The two trade barbs while Daniel Bryan looks on awkwardly. It’s not a terrible segment, but neither really takes a hard shot at the other. That is until Alexa slaps Becky in the face, signs the contract, throws it at her, and then dumps the table on her. Bliss walks out as the crowd boo’s. Becky follows her up the ramp and attacks her from behind. Alexa hightails it to the back and the crowd starts chanting for the Lass Kicker. Flat segment saved at the end by the terrific heel work of Bliss.
The Usos comes down, set to take on American Alpha. Gable looks good after his “injury.” The Usos go after his still taped up knee with wonderful heel tactics. Jason Jordan gets the hot tag and looks studly. He takes down both Usos. Couple of super kicks and a splash end this one. The Usos go on to face Rhyno and Heath Slater at No Mercy. Okay match, nothing really spectacular. And the outcome was predictable before the match even got under way. Like WWE would have American Alpha take on the current goldenboy tag team champs. Sucks for American Alpha, looks like they are stuck in limbo until Slater and his partner drop the belts.
Jack Swagger joins commentary for our next match: Apollo Crews taking on Baron Crorbin. This is a total squash match. Corbin wins with End of Days. After he acts like he is going to attack Swagger, but nothing happens. Really just dead air for this entire segment. The next match is for the Intercontinental Championship. The Miz defends his title once again against Dolph Ziggler. The match starts off strong for Ziggler as Miz appears to phone it in. Luckily he warms up and becomes the awesome heel he is. Both men do their thing and this one picks up momentum. Huge dropkick from Ziggler as Miz comes off the top rope. Both men are down and Maryse tries to rally her husband. The crowd is really behind this match and it probably should have been the main event. Ref sends Maryse packing and Ziggler damn near picks up the victory with one of the most amazing false finishes I have ever seen. Miz goes and collects his title and tries to leave. Ziggler gets to him and throws him into the steel steps. As they get back in the ring, ref is distracted by getting the title out of the ring. Miz sprays Ziggler, hits Skull Crushing Finale and covers to retain! Excellent match. Good job to both competitors. Highlight of the night so far.
Randy Orton against Erick Rowan next. Bizarre booking, but we’ll go with it. Rowan dominates to start. A few moments later, an RKO ends it. Short, strange match. After, the lights go down and Randy stands alone in the ring with the sheep mask. Bray cuts his “I’m a god” promo once again and tells Orton to run. To be honest, neither guy seems very powerful at the moment. Orton got his ass beat by Lesnar and I can’t remember the last time Wyatt got any series of good wins going. This is a feud not worth a lick and doesn’t look to pick up any sort of momentum before No Mercy.
Natalya and Carmella tag against Nikki Bella and Naomi. Before the match could even get going, Carmella just beats the holy hell out of Nikki and the ref calls for disqualification. Alrighty then. I am digging Carmella’s new attitude. Keeps her relevant even though she is out of the title picture.
Main event time. John Cena and Dean Ambrose wrestling each other. Not the best use of time, but it’s whatever. Weak start for this one. Ambrose seems lethargic. Cena does his usual Five Moves of Doom. It’s just hard to get excited for this match. Call me ‘disinterested.’ Ambrose rolls up and pins John Cena on live TV. What?! After the match, Styles attacks Ambrose from behind. Daniel Bryan gets on the mic at the top of the ramp. He says Ambrose gets a shot at the title next Tuesday on Smackdown Live. Ambrose kicks Styles and hits Dirty Deeds. His music plays us out.
Rough broadcast this week. A whole lot of filler and very little killer. Some of these guys look like they are just going through the motions. What happened to that fire we saw in the early weeks of the brand split? Both Raw and Smackdown fell through this week. Disappointing, especially with the guys that have the main titles right now. What did you think of the show? Let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
For ill or for gain, history is being made tonight. Smackdown Live is debuting it’s first stand-alone PPV on the WWE Network, Backlash. The match card is not very stacked. It would appear they have a low number of matches for a three hour event. It was announced moments ago that Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews would square off in the pre-show. But first, #SignHeathSlater was trending as he and Rhyno join Tom Phillips in the social media lounge. First question is what if Heath loses. Slater says he can’t lose because he has everything riding on the line. Heath says when they win he is buying tiki-torches to put all around his above-ground pool. Rhyno and Slater are hilarious in tandem, playing off each other to the viewer’s delight. Rhyno is excited to win so that they don’t have to swim at the community pool anymore. And he wants Slater to take his family to Golden Corral. When asked about a possible tag team name they joke: “Beauty and the Man-Beast.” We will be live posting and updating this article throughout the broadcast.
Alexa Bliss joins the pre-show panel wearing her hair, make-up and ring gear like a cool Harley Quinn costume. She cuts a promo saying she has plans for tonight and that everyone is looking at the new Smackdown Live Women’s Champion. Renee Young says she is tiny but terrible. She seems ready for the Women’s Six Pack Challenge later this evening.
JBL, Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga are shown ringside and we are ready for some in-ring action. Apollo Crews comes out to a decent pop from the crowd. The stadium is mostly filled at this point which is good. Many times the pre-show matches have a lot of empty seats. When Baron Corbin’s music hits, crowd is vocally polarized. If it was ten years ago, it would seem that Corbin’s path would most definitely have to cross Kane at some point. Grappling to start, Corbin tosses Crews off. They pace each other and then lock up again. There is bad blood between these two due to run-in’s down in NXT. Huge shoulder tackle off the ropes from Corbin to put Crews down. Crews pops up and dropkicks the big man. Crews tries a springboard off the top rope but Corbin clobbers him with a massive punch and he tumbles off the apron to the floor below. Commercial break.
When we return both men are in the ring and it’s more of Corbin dominating Crews. A kick on the apron gives Crews some breathing room. He hits a leaping lariat and finally puts Corbin down. Corbin recovers and whips Crews into the corner, and then punches him in the back of the head. Crowd boos as Corbin unleashes a flurry of punches. He knees Crews in the face. Devastating clothesline by Corbin and he covers Crews. Mere two count and the crowd can’t believe it. Running knee by Crews and both men are down. Referee starts a 10 count. Both men up at 8. A kick and a standing moonsault by Crews and he covers Corbin but no dice as he kicks out at two. Olympic slam by Crews but again Corbin kicks out. Corbin hits a Deep Six and covers Crews, but he kicks out. Crowd fired up now. Outside of the ring Corbin tries to run at Crews, but he moves and Corbin collides with the steel steps. Crews gets him back in the ring, climbs the top rope but Corbin rolls away. Crews jumps down and punches Corbin in the corner. Corbin explodes out with an End of Days and covers for the pinfall victory. That was a well-done match for these two. Might have been the best we have seen Baron Corbin on the main roster. And Apollo Crews was as good as ever. High marks for just a pre-show match.
Pretty epic, long promo package for AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose at 7:57. They are really hyping this match up. I hope the actual match delivers. The pre-show panel is split on which one will walk out as the champion. Hopefully the match will be a straight up, clean bout. If John Cena runs in to do something, that will really take away the title’s credibility. On the first ever Smackdown Live pay-per-view, we don’t need any gimmicks or shenanigans in the main event.
Here Comes The Money! The Smackdown Live commissioner, Shane McMahon comes down to the ring. General Manager, Daniel Bryan, then comes down to his typical, huge crowd reaction. A YES! chant starts. And if anybody wondered how they would fill three hours with only six matches, well here we are. Shane thanks the production crew, staff, roster, and audience for Smackdown Live’s success. Shane goes over the title matches for the night and ends with talking about the Sixpack Challenge for the Women’s Title which is kicking off the show! Becky Lynch comes down, fired up. Natalya walks out looking confused as to whether she is a face or heel. Her character has been in limbo for a long while. Naomi comes out to her bright lite dance show which is terrific to watch. She may be the dark horse to steal the belt tonight. With this gimmick having her run with the title is fine by me. Alexa Bliss comes out, followed by Carmella. Those are the two I hope win the new title. Nikki Bella comes out last. My son groans, as did my wife, as did I. We all hate the Bella’s in this household! All six women in at once and single elimination for this one.
Female brawl to start, clearing out the ring and leaving Naomi and Lynch to square off. Naomi strikes Lynch with a bunch of kicks, but then Lynch throws her over the top rope. Carmella attacks her from behind and tries a cover. Kick out at two. Nikki gets in the ring and faces off against her nemesis Carmella. Natalya and Bliss attack both from behind. Natalya throws Carmella into the barricade as Bliss puts Nikki down and tries a cover. Nikki jumps off the second rope and kicks Bliss. Near fall, but Bliss kicks out at two. Basement dropkick from Natalya on Bliss as Niki rolls out of the ring. Lynch comes in and takes Natalya and Bliss down. Suplex by Natalya on Lynch. I am struggling to keep up with all the action, which is a rare statement for a women’s match. Proud of all these ladies putting on a fantastic match. The ring clears out and Nikki goes ballistic on Carmella. Carmella gets Nikki in the Code of Silence, but Nikki gets out. She slams Carmella and covers, but a kickout from Ms. Fabulous. No one eliminated yet. Superplex/powerbomb from Natalya, Carmella and Nikki in the corner. Took too long to setup. But they nailed it and it looked nice. Crowd starts a “This Is Awesome!” chant. Carmella and Bliss square off. Carmella dumps her out, Nikki dumps Carmella out. Five women down outside, Naomi off the top rope, spring-boarding down and taking out all of them. She nearly slips on the rope, but thankfully she pulled it off.
Bliss punches Natalya in the corner. Naomi and Natalya absolutely destroy Bliss with a suplex powerbomb. Naomi covers her and she is gone. Natalya then locks in the Sharp Shooter on Naomi. She taps out in a matter of seconds. Natalya takes out Carmella and then Nikki clothesline Natalya. Backbreaker on Nattie and Nikki covers. Three count and Natalya is gone. Carmella small package on Nikki and she eliminates her! Yes! Crowd starts a chant for Becky. Becky puts the Dissarmer submission on Carmella and makes her tap! Becky Lynch is the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion! After the match, Becky is interviewed in near tears. She thanks the crowd, who cheer her on. Nice start to the show, proper booking, this pay-per-view has been great so far.
Bray Wyatt is shown backstage attacking Randy Orton. He slams his leg in a door before a ref intervenes. Orton is rumored to not be competing and Kane will take his place. Very disappointing. The Usos come out in new ring gear, no face paint. Heel turn complete. The Hype Bros come out next. The winner of this match faces Heath Slater and Rhyno later tonight. Mojo and Ryder look strong to start, really taking it to the Usos. Huge missile dropkick off the apron by Ryder and then Mojo shoulder tackles both Usos nearly out of their shoes. Loving this match so far! Things slow down as Jey goes to work on Ryder. The Usos isolate Ryder, not letting him get a tag. Ryder hits a hangman’s neckbreaker out of nowhere and plants Jey. Mojo reaches out for a tag. Jimmy gets a tag instead and he runs across the ring to knock Mojo off the apron. Jimmy and Jey double team Ryder. He clears the ring and manages to get Mojo in. Stinger splash by Mojo and he hits a military press slam on Jey. He tags Ryder who hits a Frankensteiner on Jey, but Jimmy breaks up the pin. As Ryder is distracted by Jimmy, Jey takes him out at the knee. Half crab submission and Ryder has no choice but to tap out. The bad guy Usos are here to stay. And I think I like them. They advance to fight Slater and Rhyno for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships later tonight.
Dolph Ziggler comes down next, challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Before Miz comes out, he is shown backstage talking to Daniel Bryan. He demands a contract negotiation to be “paid like the A-lister I am.” Bryan is silent. The Miz says, “What? Nothing to say? And you call me a coward.” He sends Bryan back to his “cubby-hole” and enters the arena with wife, Maryse. This match should be good. Feels like the Ziggler/Miz feud is what the Ziggler/Ambrose feud could have and should have been. Spine buster by Ziggler right out of the gate. Miz rolls out of the ring to regroup. Mat grappling by Ziggler once Miz rolls back in. He shows his amateur skills. Miz fights back with a punch and a slam. Crowd boos. Ziggler off the ropes and he lands two dropkicks on Miz. Miz catapults Ziggler against the bottom rope. Cover but Ziggler kicks out at two. Bow and arrow stretch by Miz and Ziggler screams in pain. Miz catapults Ziggler out of the ring. Miz takes control for a few minutes. He hits three dropkicks in a row in the corner.
He taunts Daniel Bryan and then hits a running clothesline on Ziggler. Miz hops up to the top rope and drops off with a double ax handle on Ziggler. Skull Crushing Finale attempt by Miz but Ziggler blocks it and dropkicks him. Both men down. Ziggler recovers, hits a swinging neckbreaker, spinebuster and then drops an elbow. He covers but Miz kicks out at two. Miz crashes shoulder first into the corner. Ziggler tries a Zig Zag, but Miz powerbombs him off the ropes then down to the mat. He covers, but Ziggler kicks out. That was a lovely series of moves. The crowd has been fired up throughout this entire broadcast and have stayed lit for this match as well. Zig Zag by Ziggler, but Miz kicks out. Crowd in a frenzy. Headlock by Ziggler as he leaps on Miz’s back. He drops to one knee, face turning red. Miz runs Ziggler into the turnbuckle and he collapses. DDT by Ziggler and he covers but a long two count is all he gets. Super kick by Ziggler but Miz blocks it and hits a DDT into a Figure Four Leglock. Ziggler screams. Ziggler takes a long time to crawl to the rope, but he manages and the ref breaks the hold. Miz kicks him in the face. Miz tries another leglock but Ziggler kicks him in the butt. When he turns around, superkick by Ziggler. He covers, but Miz reaches his leg out and touches the bottom rope with his toe. Ref stops the count. That was a really nice false finish. Both men out of the ring and ref starts a 10 count. Ziggler gets him in. When the ref is distracted, Maryse sprays Ziggler in the face. Skull Crushing Finale and Miz retains.
Bray Wyatt comes to the ring amidst his fireflies. Due to injury Randy Orton is not cleared to compete tonight. Bray Wyatt wants the 10 count to signify his victory via forfeit. Bell rings and the ref starts a 10 count. He rings the bell and Wyatt gets up on the corner and holds his arms out. The announcer informs us all of his victory. However, he says, Bray Wyatt will have a no holds barred match against Kane! What!? Thank you Shane and Daniel! Bell rings and they just go after each other. The history between these two has already been established. We don’t need a gimmick or a story. Just let them go at it. They quickly spill out of the ring and Kane clears the announce table. Bray hits him with the ring bell then slams his head against the apron. Wyatt picks up a chair. But Kane socks him in the mouth. In the ring Bray clobbers Kane with a steel chair. This one is just brutal. What a great idea to throw this in the middle of the pay-per-view. Smart booking.
Outside the ring, Wyatt takes apart one of the other announce tables. He lays Kane on one and stands on the next one over. He poses like Randy Orton and then leaps back first into Kane, breaking the table. Crowd starts a “Holy Shit!” chant. Back in the ring, Bray attempts a Sister Abigail but Kane blocks it and chokeslams him. Cover, but Bray kicks out at two. Kane puts a chair on the mat and runs a thumb across his throat. He picks Bray up but instead Wyatt counters and slams Kane into the chair. He covers but a kickout at two. Bray can’t believe it. Randy Orton limps out, crowd goes wild. Bray stares him down. Kane sits up. Orton comes in the ring and RKO’s Bray Wyatt. Crowd erupts. Kane chokeslams Bray against the chair and covers him. Three seconds later and Bray Wyatt’s pay-per-view losing streak continues. I’m not sold on the outcome, but you can’t hate on that match. It was damn good. Nice palette cleanser for the rest of the broadcast.
Time to determine who is going to be the inaugural Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. Heel Usos come down first followed by Slater and Rhyno who get a huge pop. Rhyno and Jey start and the crowd starts an “E-C-DUB!” chant. Slater tags in but the Usos double team him and suplex him into the steel post outside the ring. They isolate Slater, not allowing him to tag. The Usos do a great job as heels. Everytime Slater is close to a tag they either pull him to the mat or they kick Rhyno away. It’s fun to watch. This is how you tell a good story. Slater and Jey collide and both men are down. Heath crawls around trying to find his corner. He does and tags in Rhyno who quickly takes the Usos apart. Belly to belly suplex on Jimmy. Slater tags himself in and hits a pair of neckbreakers on the Usos. He kicks Jimmy in the gut and hits a DDT. He covers, but Jey pulls him out of the ring. Superkick by Jimmy, but Rhyno hits him with Gore! Slater rolls in, covers, and that’s all she wrote! Crowd goes wild! Your first Tag Team Champions for the Smackdown brand are Heath Slater and Rhyno! Slater has a contract! Yes! Crowd starts a “You deserve it!” chant. Heath says, “This is probably the biggest night of my life. You know, besides, like a couple of my kids being bored.” He yells to his wife they’re getting a double-wide. This is a great moment.
Dean Ambrose defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles for tonight’s main event. Styles is introduced as The Face Who Runs The Place. Some light grappling to start. Ambrose does some good arm drags. Nothing much exciting happens at the beginning. The crowd starts a chant for JBL. Styles argues with the ref multiple times. Offense finally gets going with Ambrose hitting a backdrop. Styles trips him into the rope, throat first. Crowd split with dueling chants for both. The pacing is a little stagnant in this one. Not sure why these two chose to move this slow, but the crowd is still into it. The pair botch a move off the top rope. Not sure what it was supposed to be but both slam into the mat awkwardly and are down. Ref starts a 10 count. Styles rolls outside of the ring and Ambrose drops an elbow on him off the top rope. Back in the ring, Styles suplexes Ambrose into the turnbuckles. The match is slow and methodical, but not necessarily boring. Just seems like an odd flow considering all the highs we’ve had all night. Styles locks in the calf crusher submission. Ambrose struggles to the bottom rope and manages to break the hold. Styles goes for the Styles Clash but Ambrose grabs the ropes. On the apron, Ambrose catapults Styles into the steel apron. Back in the ring, Styles lifts Ambrose into a firemen’s carry and then flips Ambrose into a neckbreaker.
Springboard 450 Splash into a cover by Styles. Ambrose narrowly kicks out. Ambrose dropkicks Styles out of the ring and then leaps out after him. He throws Styles into and over the announce table. Then he throws him into the crowd. He climbs the announce tables and jumps over the barricade to drop an elbow on Styles. Back in the ring Ambrose clothesline Styles head over heels. Ambrose tries Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose runs into the ref. Low blow by Styles and he hits a really terrible Styles Clash that he almost botches. He covers and the ref counts to three. Styles wins and holds the belt above his head. Well, is something about to happen? It’s only 10:37. Feels like we still have another ten minutes to go. Styles walks up the ramp laughing, clutching the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to his chest. But no, the trademark box pops up and this one is over. Really weird early finish. But pretty decent match for the world title.
Overall, the pay-per-view itself was maybe one of the best WWE has done this year. The pre-show match was excellent, even being slated in a bad spot. Both men really did a fantastic job firing up the crowd and keeping them excited for the main show. The show kicked off in a shocking manner with the women’s Sixpack Challenge which was jam packed with terrific action. One of the best female matches we have seen in awhile and the right lady won. The Usos had a very successful heel turn and demonstrated they are new and improved against The Hype Bros. And that was just the first hour! The Miz and Dolph Ziggler made the Intercontinental Championship match matter, putting on a near-flawless match. The ending probably made some people mad, but Miz is a heel. And he does whatever it takes to hold on to his prestigious title. Besides, having a wonky finish protected Ziggler a little bit. Kane and Bray Wyatt had a hell of a match. The finish is questionable. Not sure why Wyatt became the permanent jobber at pay-per-views, but the match was fun to watch. And technically he beat Randy Orton in the record books. Slater and Rhyno are so over and their win solidifies their place at the table. Loved the match, loved the outcome. AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose put on a good match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. But it was very slow and didn’t really wow me. If I had one complaint for the night it would be just utterly being done with Ambrose as champion. This match tonight shined a spotlight on the fact he can’t carry a match and is not main event material. Throughout the match you can clearly see him calling spots the whole time. And to me it looked like Styles was having to hinder himself in order to keep up with Ambrose’s slow, clunky style. But the crowd and commentary were amazing all night tonight. Even David Otunga wasn’t completely horrible. Overall just a really solid show from Smackdown tonight. No lulls in action, no boring segments. I was very impressed. What did you think of tonight’s show? Let us know in the comments below! See you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
WWE’s Backlash will be the first PPV since the brand split and will crown the inaugural Smackdown Women’s Champion and Tag Team Champions. The Backlash PPV is not new to WWE; this is the 12th under this name. Fans of American Alpha will be disappointed, as Jason Jordan and Chad Gable will not be competing tonight due to a storyline injury to Gable. Let’s run down the match card and make some predictions.
The Miz (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – Intercontinental Championship Match
On Talking Smack, The Miz absolutely eviscerated Daniel Bryan. It was an incredible show from Miz and a great reminder why he is a fantastic champion. WWE capitalized on this by siccing Dolph Ziggler on our IC champ, which ended up making Miz look weak and cowardly. It was a frustrating move, but necessary to set up this match. Obviously Miz is not above doing something underhanded to keep his championship, and he definitely isn’t afraid to use wife Maryse to his advantage either. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not this is a fair fight.
F2H Prediction – The Miz
Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs Carmella vs Alexa Bliss vs Nikki Bella vs Naomi – Six Pack Challenge for the Women’s Championship
This will be an elimination challenge, where the last woman standing will win the Smackdown Women’s title for the first time. We have a couple former champions here, but the majority have yet to told a title in the WWE and are likely extra motivated to gain a victory. The returning Nikki Bella is an obvious favorite, but Natalya has been plowing through her competition lately and is finally asserting herself. Becky Lynch has had title shots in the past and could easily win tonight, but Naomi, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss all present different challenges and could be the ones to eliminate a stronger competitor. I’m excited to see this match; it looks like it will take up a large time slot and allow these women to really bring it.
F2H Prediction – Alexa Bliss
The Usos vs The Hype Bros – Tag Team Championship Qualifying Match
My theory about American Alpha being removed from this competition is that it would hurt them to be beaten by Slater and Rhyno, and it would hurt if they were to beat them. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how much the fans rallied behind Slater. The segment with his “wife” was hilarious, and the failure after failure to get a contract has been incredibly entertaining. The Usos took a dark turn on Smackdown, likely setting up a future feud between them and Alpha. Hype Bros are strong competitors and will give The Usos a run for their money; Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley are both energetic and decent in the ring, so this one could go either way.
F2H Prediction – The Usos
Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt
Randy Orton got his ass handed to him at Summerslam. It was a one-sided fight that resulted in Orton lying in a pool of blood while Brock Lesnar stood over him. Afterwards, Bray Wyatt set his sights on Orton, saying that the display at Summerslam proved that he is only a man. This would be awesome, except that Wyatt is almost never booked to win anymore, so his threats come up empty. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bray Wyatt, but it’s difficult to believe his hype when he can’t win a match. We’ll see if his luck changes Sunday night.
F2H Prediction – Bray Wyatt
Usos/Hype Bros Winner vs Heath Slater & Rhyno – Tag Team Championship Match
Heath Slater has gone from jobbing in quick matches to earning a title match on a PPV. Every time he failed to earn a contract, the fans rallied behind him more. His “kids” sitting ringside at the last Smackdown made things even better. Rhyno has easily fallen into the role of Slater’s sidekick, muscle, and comedic relief. If Slater doesn’t win tonight, he doesn’t get his contract. There is a chance that this story could get dragged out further, but I think it’s ready for the next chapter.
F2H Prediction – Heath Slater and Rhyno
Dean Ambrose (c) vs AJ Styles – WWE World Heavyweight Champion Title Match
AJ Styles took out John Cena and became the new face that runs the place. Naturally, the next step after knocking off Cena is to get yourself a championship. Dean Ambrose has been a great rival for Styles, but a lot of their interactions have felt forced. Styles’ anger at Ambrose doesn’t feel genuine, and it makes this battle feel a bit awkward. Ambrose is an unconventional champion, which is what we needed. He doesn’t care who he faces and doesn’t back down from anyone. Even with the shaky set up, this should be a fantastic title match.
F2H Prediction – AJ Styles
The Backlash preshow will begin at 7:00 PM live on the WWE Network, with the main event starting at 8:00 PM EST. Follow us on Twitter at @FaceToHeel as we will be live tweeting during the PPV and providing instant feedback afterwards if you’re unable to watch. As always, leave your own predictions in the comments section below. Which match are you looking forward to most? Who will be the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion? Tell us your thoughts below. See you on Sunday!
We are coming off of a very strong Smackdown from last week, which was followed by an episode of Talking Smack that has had people talking all week. Daniel Bryan called out The Miz for wrestling “like a coward,” and for wrestling in the soft WWE style. The Miz came back at him hard, defending his style because he has never been injured in his entire career and is dedicated and present. He went off on Bryan, and Maryse looked so uncomfortable. Renee Young tried to calm Miz down, but Bryan was so flustered that he walked off the set while Miz finished what was an amazing tirade. I have been a fan of The Miz for a while, and he owned that interview. This is HIS show. Standing ovation for The Miz.
After a recap of that amazing moment, we cut to Bryan and Shane McMahon, who were backstage rewatching the interview. McMahon says that while he agrees with Bryan, he shouldn’t have provoked The Miz and owes him an apology. Bryan says he finds his comments ironic coming from the guy who has beef with Brock Lesnar; that comment gets a good pop from the crowd.
As we move to the arena, The Miz storms out to the ring, demanding his music be cut and asking if he has our attention now. Miz defends his style as being smart and accuses the fans of not seeing the big picture. He says he can do it all, day in and day out, without injury. But we boo him because he didn’t start in the small venues like some wrestlers, didn’t fail over and over before he succeeded. If Miz is unworthy, what are we? Cowards. Dolph Ziggler interrupts, and for once, I’m not happy to see him. Ziggler says that the fans won’t ever get behind him because they can see through his act. Miz just wants to be famous, and that’s why no one believes in him.
If Miz wants to prove to everyone that he isn’t a coward, prove it now. No referee, no title match, just an honest fight. The Miz takes off the jacket, rolls up his sleeves, but isn’t giving in to Ziggler’s request. Ziggler grabs a mic and calls him a soft, safe coward. Miz starts rushing back to the ring as the crowd chants COWARD, but Maryse holds him back. I’m not exactly sure why Ziggler had to get involved here. This took a strong segment and made it into something it didn’t need to be.
Our first match of the night is a first round Tag Team Tournament Match; The Hype Bros versus The Vaudevillains. Ryder and English start off the match with Ryder in complete control. English leaves the ring for a breather, and Ryder hits Gotch with a kick, allowing English to get him with a Swinging Neckbreaker. Rawley and Ryder are looking fantastic in this match! Ryder hits a Broksi Boot and the crowd is cheering as the pair fly around the ring. The two team up to take down both men, then hit the Hype Ryder for the win! They will advance to the semi finals of the tag team tournament.
AJ Styles comes out to the ring next, again calling himself “the face that runs the place.” He promises to beat Dean Ambrose at Backlash and become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Apollo Crews picks this moment to come out and stop Styles’ personal love-fest. Crews says he got permission to challenge Styles to a match that starts now. Crews is an incredible athlete and is proving it with this match, hitting Styles with a solid punch and asking Mauro Ranallo if he got a good look at it. During the commercial break, Styles regained control, but Crews is quick to take it back when we return. Crews is able to throw Styles over the top rope, then flip out of the ring to take him down again. Ranallo calls him a “flying tank,” and this tank is back in the ring hitting Styles with punches to the midsection. He takes Styles to the top rope, but Styles is able to duck away. Styles hits Crews with a cross body, but Crews catches him and hits a Samoan Drop. Amazing! Styles hits a Phenomenal Forearm and pins Crews for the win. Very energetic match, and a good showing by both men.
Heath Slater visits with Renee Young in his… trailer out back? His wife, who looks like a fan Snooki, serves cheese in a can with crackers and what looks like raw hot dogs as Renee tries to interview Slater and Rhyno. As Renee asks about Slater’s confrontation with Brock Lesnar, Rhyno draws cheese frowny faces on crackers. I want to invite Rhyno and Slater to dinner. This is hilarious! Unfortunately we can’t meet the kids; they’re out back collecting cans and bottles.
Bray Wyatt walks out to the ring next, accompanied by his fireflies, but without Erick Rowan. He calls out Randy Orton, calling him sick, but that’s what he likes about him. He’s interested in how Lesnar exploited him at Summerslam. He tells Orton to run, but his music hits instead. Orton says that the voices in his head are asking him who in the hell does Wyatt think he is. Orton says his charm comes from the fact that he’s been damaged for a long time. Wyatt has his attention. Wyatt says that Orton is no longer the predator in this situation. At Backlash, Wyatt will cut the serpent’s head off and hang it on his mantle as a trophy. The crowd is obnoxiously chanting “Husky Harris,” and Orton responds by saying he respects Wyatt in a way because they both have their demons. He agrees to the match at Backlash, but strongly says he isn’t afraid of Wyatt. The arena goes dark, and they awkwardly cut away. Abrupt ending.
Alexa Bliss and Natalya will face off with Naomi and Becky Lynch now, with Nikki Bella on commentary. Oh joy. Naomi and Natalya start things off, but I’m distracted because David Otunga insists on talking with Nikki Bella about Total Bellas, their new reality show on E! Alexa Bliss is tagged in, and the two throw Naomi to the mat, then pin her on the ropes. Otunga says “she’s trying to snatch Naomi’s edges off,” and now I’m laughing too hard to pay attention. Becky Lynch is tagged in, and she goes to the top rope to land a kick on Bliss. She tries for a cover, but Natalya breaks it up. Out of nowhere, Carmella comes out and starts attacking Nikki Bella. The distraction allows Bliss to roll up Lynch and get the win for her team. We didn’t get to see too much of this match thanks to the commercial break and Carmella’s distraction, but it definitely got interesting towards the end.
Our next match is another tag; Heath Slater and Rhyno versus The Headbangers. You can tell a lot of the crowd has no idea who these guys are. Slater and Rhyno come out to a big pop, and there is an entire section of “Heath’s Kids.” Mosh and Slater start things off, with Slater in control, but Mosh hits Slater outside of the ring, then tags in his partner. Thrasher takes Slater down easily; he and his partner are keeping Slater away from Rhyno to control this match. Poor Slater has a bloody lip, Rhyno is down thanks to an elbow from Mosh, and Slater nearly gets pinned but Rhyno saves the match. He tags himself in, floors Thrasher, and wins the match! Slater and Rhyno advance! YES! Not sure where all the blood on Rhyno’s head came from though…
Gary “The Milk Man” Millman is in the ring demanding an opponent. Who is this dude? Fireworks hit and Kane comes down to the ring! Man, I haven’t seen him in a while! Milk Man starts trying to get his pants back on, but it’s too late. Oh dear god, he’s just wearing normal underwear, not even trunks. Kane delivers a chokeslam and quickly departs.
Main event time! AJ Styles is on commentary as Baron Corbin comes to the ring to face Dean Ambrose. Kane and Corbin cross paths, briefly making eye contact and hopefully setting up something for later. Corbin takes control of the match early on, hitting Ambrose in the chest and sending him to his knees. Ambrose is able to knock Corbin off his feet, then send him over the top rope. He jumps from the apron and takes Corbin to the mat, then slams him into the announce table, sending a message to Styles. Corbin hits a lariat and then delivers kick after kick to Ambrose’s midsection. Ambrose finally breaks Corbin’s momentum with a well-timed neckbreaker. He hits a mean clothesline and pins Corbin, but he kicks out. Ambrose knocks Corbin from the ring, dives out to take him down, and then poses for a moment on the barricade. Corbin is able to hit a Deep Six back in the ring, but Ambrose kicks out. Styles gets up and in Corbin’s face, which he isn’t happy about. Ambrose takes advantage, knocks Corbin into Styles, and nearly wins the match. Styles gets up on the apron, then accidentally kicks Corbin in the face, causing the match being called due to disqualification. Ambrose leaves the ring to attack Styles, then Corbin goes after Ambrose. Our champ hits Dirty Deeds on Corbin, then trips Styles up on the ropes, sending his man bits right into the rope. The noise he’s making is hilariously awful. So of course, Ambrose responds by bouncing him up and down on the rope before shaking his hand and grabbing his title.
We’re a little over a week away from Backlash, our first brand exclusive PPV since the draft. Ambrose will face off with Styles for the title, and we’ll crown our first Smackdown tag champions and our first Smackdown Women’s champ. This was another solid Smackdown; two weeks in a row! We’ll bring you our Backlash predictions after next week’s Smackdown airs. Let us know your thoughts below, and follow us on Twitter at @facetoheel.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
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
Brace yourself, sports fans. This one might go as long as this year’s WrestleMania. It’s supposed to be a stacked matchcard with virtually every Superstar in action tonight. Vince McMahon really has his work cut out for him tonight because NXT tore the roof off the Barclay Center last night. So without further ado, let’s dissect this pay-per-view.
The preshow kicks off with a 12-man tag match, which is a ridiculous thing to have on a pay-per-view. The Vaudevillians team with The Ascension and Breezango to take on The Hype Bros, The Usos, and American Alpha. Chad Gable and Tyler Breeze start the match and Gable shows off a little bit, looking solid. Jay Uso tags in and the crowd boo’s. It’s hard to get excited about this one. We have twelve guys, all fighting for essentially nothing. There is no tag title on Smackdown. Why was American Alpha even drafted there? For that matter, why are there even tag teams on Smackdown? It’s an odd thing, and just another example of why the brand split isn’t the best idea. It’s a shame because Chad and Gable deserve better. Everyone in this match puts on a good show. But the attendance is full of empty seats, and not even Mauro Ranallo can get anything going.
Zack Ryder continues to do a good job and it’s no wonder they gave him a push earlier this year. Jimmy Uso and Tyler Breeze are the last men standing, as Jimmy Samoan Drops him to the mat. Konnor tries to block him but Jimmy kicks him. Jordan tags in and suplexes both Fandango and Breeze. Suplex on Gotch, but English breaks up the pinfall. Powerbomb by English on Gable. Hats off to these guys for avoiding the doomed “spot-fest” that many of these matches become. Everyone gets their stuff in, but it feels organic; going with the flow of the match. Breeze and Viktor get slammed by Mojo Rawley. The action is quick and exciting. Crowd gets a little more lively as things progress. Gable and Jordan drop Viktor and Jay Uso steals the win for the tagfall. Baron Corbin interrupts the pre-show panel to cut a quick promo on Kalisto who was injured and couldn’t compete in their match tonight.
The Dudley Boyz come out to take on Neville and Sami Zayn. Neville and Devon kick things off. Neville and Zayn work well together as a team. Dudleys are still as good as ever. This one is pretty fun. Crowd into it. Some near falls throughout. A miscommunication by Devon and Bubba Ray allows Neville to hit the Red Arrow for the pinfall. Good match, not too long and not too short. It will be interesting to see if this Neville and Zayn team continues and whether a rift will start to grow between The Dudley Boyz.
The final match of the preshow is Sheamus taking on Cesaro in the first match of their Best of 7 Series. This one is brutal from the start, with both men using a bit of stiff, strong style. Sheamus takes control as we head into a little commercial break. Sheamus puts some strong moves on Cesaro, and gets a couple of near falls. Cesaro Swing on Sheamus into a figure four leglock. Sheamus breaks it up. Cesaro tries again, gets blocked and Sheamus Brogue Kicks him into a pinfall victory. Sheamus is up 1-0. A mostly entertaining trio of matches to kick off the preshow, but I find myself scratching my head trying to determine if there was a point to any of them. A 12-man tag? The Dudley Boyz in 2016? Sheamus and Cesaro six more times after this? Eek.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass kick off the show, crowd sets the roof on fire. Brilliant way to start the show and get the crowd into it. Enzo does his usual thing, ripping up the mic and getting everybody up on their feet. He calls New York the greatest city in the world. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho come down. The match starts and Owens and Y2J knock Cass off the apron and double team Enzo. Enzo and Jericho are the official legal men, and Jericho goes to work chopping the smaller guy. Enzo is as good a seller as Dolph Ziggler and he always makes his opponents shine. Enzo takes a beating for awhile, including a hard frog-splash by Kevin Owens. Big Cass gets the hot tag and takes down both Owens and Jericho. He drops an Empire Elbow on Y2J. Followed by a big boot as Jericho leaps off the top rope. Owens saves the match, attacking Enzo and Cass both. Owens throws Enzo to Jericho, who hits a Code Breaker and he covers for the pinfall win. The hometown boys lose, and the crowd is unhappy about it. Good match to kick things off. After the match, Owens and Jericho walk up the ramp screaming “I Love You!” at each other. Backstage segment with Jon Stewart and The New Day, adding really nothing to the show.
Sasha Banks defends her WWE Women’s Championship next against Charlotte. It seems a really bizarre booking choice to do this match so early, and also doing it prior to this shit-storm 6-woman tag match that is happening later. Both ladies came to play, and they trade physical attacks to start. Charlotte botches several moves in a row and looks like an amateur out there. She may have legit injured Sasha with a terrible fail off the top rope. Charlotte tries a Figure Four leglock, but Sasha kicks her off. Moments later, Sasha is thrown into the corner. Sasha counters a Razor’s Edge off the top rope and both women hit the mat hard. This is brutal to watch. Sasha locks in a nice Boston Crab using the ropes as leverage, but she has to break it as the ref counts to five. A double knee slam into Charlotte’s back, leaves both ladies holding their lower backs and grimacing. Sasha jumps off the apron and drops both knees on Charlotte’s face, dropping her down to the ground outside. Ref starts a ten count. Charlotte goes for Natural Selection, but Sasha counters into the Bank Statement. Charlotte worms her way out of it. Neck breaker by Charlotte, then hits Natural Selection. Sasha kicks out at two. Charlotte tries a tilt-a-whirl but Sasha reverses it into another Bank Statement. Charlotte rolls her over onto her shoulders and three seconds later, Charlotte regains the Women’s Championship. This seems like a terrible finish and should definitely lead into something. They cleaned it up towards the end, but that one got off to a rocky start. Not the best outing these two have had against each other. Backstage segment with The Club, AJ Styles, and Finn Balor teasing the Bullet Club.
The Miz comes down, accompanied by Maryse. Apollo Crews is challenging for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz attacks in the corner early, and Crews is reeling. Things slow way down, and the match hits a lull. Crews hits him with a boot and both men are down. Standing moonsault by Crews is the highlight so far, but he fails to cover. Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Another mediocre match that just comes across as a waste of air time. So far the show has just been okay. Still waiting for a big wow moment.
Up next AJ Styles looks to beat up John Cena. Crowd starts a very vocal John Cena Sucks sing-along. It’s a decent match to start, but the problem with this matchup is Styles is way more talented than Cena, and Cena just goes through his usual run-of-the-mill Five Moves of Doom. Styles hits the Styles Clash and Cena kicks out. Attitude Adjustment by Cena, but Styles kicks out. The pair do their best, but what else is there to milk out of this rivalry? They burned this one months ago. Now we are just going through all the familiar motions. Attitude Adjustment by Styles this time, but Cena kicks out. Styles attempts a springboard 450 splash, but Cena moves out of the way. Styles locks in the Calf Crusher submission. Cena gets out and climbs the top rope. Leg drop on Styles, hitting him in the back of the head. Kick out at two. Some exciting false finishes in this one, but again nothing really new. John Cena looks stunned that Styles just keeps kicking out. Styles Clash again on Cena, but no cover. Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope and Styles covers Cena for the win. This one didn’t really have a pay-per-view feel. Mauro Ranallo really helped to make that match more than it was, so hats off to him.
BREAKING: News just came through the wire that Sasha Banks dropped the title because she violated the wellness policy. Official suspension coming tomorrow. Damn, if that rumor is true what a shame! We’ll cover it more later this week when more official word comes out from the WWE camp.
Jon Stewart comes out, making me wonder what is on TV right now that I might be able to watch to curb my boredom. He sports a New Day t-shirt and unicorn horn and brings the group out, sans Big E Langston. They are set to defend their Tag Team Championship titles against The Club. Xavier Woods does a great job throughout this one, especially for someone we don’t really get to see go very often. Gallows and Anderson are such a great tag team. They hit Magic Killer on Xavier and then Jon Stewart distracts. The Club goes to put Stewart crotch first on the ring post. Crowd starts a YES! chant. Before they can hurt him, Big E runs in and attacks Gallows and Anderson. Ref calls for the bell. Big E slams Anderson into the barricade. Match ends in DQ finish, which is weird because Big E is a member of New Day. But it’s whatever. Fun segment and New Day will have the tag titles going into tomorrow.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are in the ring as Dolph Ziggler comes out to challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fast start to this as it spills out of the ring. Spinning neckbreaker by Ziggler after slamming Ambrose into the barricade. Ambrose pounds Ziggler’s head on the steel steps twice before they get back in the ring. Ziggler pulls out all the stops, by Ambrose manages to kick out every time. Elbow off the top rope by Dean but Ziggler kicks out. Simple back and forth here, letting both guys trade momentum. Ambrose kicks out of a Zig Zag. Is it just me or were finishers just completely burned all night tonight? Been a long time since WWE protected finishers. Sleeper hold by Ziggler. Ambrose gets out of it and blocks a Super Kick. Huge clothesline sends Ziggler to the match. Dirty Deeds by Ambrose to retain. Exciting match. Might be my favorite so far tonight. But again, nothing spectacular has happened. This is supposed to be the big event of the summer and it is falling short of delivering in my opinion.
Tag action up next with six women going at it. I have not been looking forward to this at all. Let’s get it over with. Naomi comes out first, looking like a forensic crime scene under a black light. But her entrance is definitely memorable. She is tagging with Carmella and Becky Lynch, two of my favorites. Their opponents are Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Nikki Bella. Lynch and Bliss start the match. Another match that honestly means nothing. Why? Because these are six women that can never compete for the Women’s Championship because it’s on Raw and they are Smackdown competitors. Putting this on the actual pay-per-view card and not the preshow is questionable. Also, let’s just put this out there: Nikki Bella is not a good wrestler. There, I said it. An okay outing from these ladies. Carmella and Bliss have one of their best matches so far since coming up to the main roster. Nikki Bella gets the win by pinning Carmella. Eh. Still have yet to be blown away by anything tonight. So far, HHH has won the weekend.
They show the Universal Championship and it’s terrible. Looks just like the world title only red. It looks like it was designed by Eva Marie. What a piece of trash, both the name and the physical belt. Shame. Seth Rollins comes out, with Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley ringside. The Demon King, Finn Balor, makes an incredible entrance. Crowd. Goes. Ape. Shit. The bell rings and Balor doesn’t hesitate. He dropkicks Rollins. Balor goes to work aggressively attacking Rollins left leg. Outside the ring, Rollins tosses Balor into the timekeeper’s area. Rollins very methodical for this match, being aggressive and not letting up on Balor. Running kick off the apron for Balor to regain control. He hits a Slingblade on Rollins in the ring. Rollins recovers and tries a Pedigree but it gets blocked and Balor kicks him. Both men down. 1916 by Balor, but Rollins kicks out. The match is pretty exciting, but the crowd is giving a shit response, trying to hijack it with chants unrelated to the match. Foot stomp off the corner and Finn Balor is the first WWE Universal Champion. How cool is that? First WWE wrestler to win a title on their first pay-per-view match as well. The future is bright with these two in the driver’s seat. Nice match, but again, same complaint as all night: nothing amazing has happened yet. And with Orton and Lesnar as the go home, I think SummerSlam came up short on its goals for the evening.
Rusev versus Roman Reigns for the United States Championship up next. As it’s 10:30 already, I don’t see this one going very long. Reigns throws Rusev into the timekeeper area. Same spot as the last match. SMH. They are brawling and a bunch of refs try to break them up. Match hasn’t even officially started yet. Reigns goes after Rusev with a steel chair. Reigns continues to beat him down a few more minutes and then walks out. Crowd boos him heavily. Rusev struggles to get up as crowd starts chanting, “We Want Slater!” and then a “CM Punk!” chant. Ringside doctor says Rusev is unable to compete tonight. Reigns comes back down the ramp and Spears him. Reigns seemingly ruins the whole segment by pumping his arms at the crowd and then smiling at the top of the ramp. Empty segment for my money.
Main event time. Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton, a match that really isn’t going to do much to pep up this pay-per-view. And ultimately another match on the card that means little to nothing, a label that has been woven into every fiber of this show so far tonight. The bell rings and we’re off. Lesnar slams Orton in the corner and tries for a suplex. But Orton dropkicks him. Orton tries an RKO and Lesnar shoves him off and slams him down to the mat. German suplex by Lesnar. And a second. Orton scrambling. A third German suplex as Paul Heyman laughs at ringside. Beatdown in the corner, then another suplex. Orton hasn’t been on his feet for a few minutes. A sixth suplex and this one is getting out of control. Outside of the ring, Orton tries to fight back but Lesnar picks him up and slams him on the announce table. The table doesn’t break, but Lesnar fixes that. He tosses Orton off the barricade into the table and it smashes apart. Lesnar picks apart a second announce table and puts Orton on it. Orton pops up and hits an RKO on the table. It doesn’t break. As they get back in the ring, Orton DDT’s Lesnar off the second rope. As Lesnar gets up, Orton hits an RKO. Lesnar kicks out at two. Orton goes for his old school punt kick, but Lesnar pops up and F5’s him. Orton kicks out at two. Lesnar punches Orton over and over again and the ref separates them and calls for a doctor as Orton is busted wide open, bleeding all over the ring. Lesnar pushes the doctor aside and keeps punching Orton’s head. The ref calls for the bell and this is over. Lesnar wins by TKO. Lesnar goes after Orton again. Shane McMahon runs in to check on Orton and Lesnar cuts him off. Lesnar F5’s Shane. Heyman starts screaming, “What did you do!?” And that’s the end of the show. I love seeing Lesnar destroy someone, so this was fun.
The theme of tonight will be “At least it wasn’t WrestleMania.” It wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t have a SummerSlam feel to it. If this had been Battleground or Payback, it would be been great. But I don’t think any segment tonight really came across as successful. Everything missed the mark and was off by just a little bit. The booking leading into the show was rushed, there were too many matches, and the order of the matches themselves was confusing. Whether or not this is just the final hiccup of the brand split before the new pay-per-views take off remains to be seen. Judging this right out of the gate, though, it just wasn’t all that it could have been. At the end of the day, what did any of it mean or accomplish? The honest answer is not a whole lot. We are right back in the same rut we were in prior to the brand split. What did you all think about WWE’s 2016 SummerSlam? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw.
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
The Barclays center in New York City will be hosting this year’s Summerslam, starting at 7pm with a two hour preshow beginning at 5pm. Former Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, will be the special celebrity guest and will likely provide comic relief and at least one awkward run-in with Seth Rollins. This is the first PPV since the brand split, but the matches are nearly all Raw vs Raw or Smackdown vs Smackdown. Every title is on the line, and we will finally get to see the brand new Universal Title. Let’s take a look at the massive card and make some predictions.
Cesaro vs Sheamus – First Match in the Best of Seven Series (Preshow Kickoff)
On the go-home Raw on Monday, Mick Foley announced that these two enemies would have a best of seven series to finally bury their beef. I still have yet to decide how I feel about this series. Seven matches ahead, when we have already seen two, will have the potential to get real stale really fast. I hope that we get stipulated matches in the future, as the Summerslam match is a straight singles match. The first win in a series will give the victor bragging rights and a slight edge on their competitor, which both men obviously will be battling for. Cesaro and Sheamus are both extremely talented, so I hope they are on their A game.
F2H Prediction – Sheamus
Sami Zayn and Neville vs The Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Match (Preshow Kickoff)
Since returning to action after an injury, Neville has yet to find himself in a decent storyline or feud. Sami Zayn is done with Kevin Owens, at least for now, and is looking to move on. The Dudley Boyz are veteran wrestlers who have no problem taking a backseat to the younger talent in order to give them a push or help them along in a current storyline. They have lost more matches than they’ve won since their heel turn, and their once sure thing for the tag titles has become a very distant memory. This match will be all about Zayn and Neville, and I hope they take full advantage.
F2H Prediction – Sami Zayn and Neville
American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable), The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder), The Usos vs Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango), The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) – 12 Man Tag Team Match (Preshow Kickoff)
We already saw this match on Smackdown, which makes this addition a little disappointing. We’re throwing too many tag teams together into one mess of a match, where certain people will struggle for the spotlight and others will be forgotten in the background. WWE has not done its job in introducing American Alpha and The Hype Bros to the main roster audience. Those who don’t watch NXT are missing out on knowing Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, and don’t fully appreciate the pairing of Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder. It’s a shame, but I hope they rectify it.
F2H Prediction – American Alpha, The Hype Bros, The Usos
Carmella, Becky Lynch, Naomi vs Natalya, Alexa Bliss – Six Woman Tag Match
This match was put together on the go home episode of Smackdown. Eva Marie was meant to compete with Natalya and Bliss, but was suspended for 30 days on August 18th after violating the WWE’s wellness policy. This is a great opportunity for Alexa Bliss and Carmella to introduce themselves to the large chunk of the audience who isn’t familiar with NXT and don’t know their characters. Bliss and Carmella went back to their roots on Wednesday to complete in another six woman tag on NXT, which I hope the main roster audience had a chance to see. We have five incredible athletes (and a sixth still unnamed as of the time of this writing) that are capable of doing a lot more than we’ve had the chance to see on the main roster. I hope tonight is their night.
F2H Prediction – Carmella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi
The Miz (c) vs Apollo Crews – Intercontinental Championship Match
I absolutely love The Miz as champ. He’s shady, underhanded, and conceited. He weasels his way into victories and isn’t bothered at all if he isn’t winning clean. Apollo Crews is the exact opposite of his opponent. He is honest, positive, and a team player through and through. Maryse will no doubt be ringside, giving Miz the edge, as Crews will be going it solo. I don’t expect a fair fight whatsoever. You simply don’t get that with The Miz, so Crews is going to have to play it safe and keep his eyes open. He will have to watch Maryse while also fighting his opponent, and he’ll have to ensure Miz doesn’t try to cause a DQ by throwing him into the ref or placing a weapon in his vicinity. Apollo Crews will shine, regardless of the outcome; he definitely earned and deserves this title shot.
F2H Prediction – The Miz
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens – Tag Team Match
I’m not a fan of Chris Jericho (go easy on me, hardcore fans) but I appreciate the person he is and the work that he does. That said, I am really enjoying him when paired with Kevin Owens. Owens and Enzo are two of the best trash talkers on the roster, so a war of words between the two is gold no matter what. Jericho and Owens have adjusted their style to act slightly more comedic, making them a better match for Enzo and Cass. This feud has been entertaining since the moment it started and will make for a fantastic tag match tonight. I hope we eventually get to see Enzo and Cass put into the Tag Title picture where they belong. How you doin?
F2H Prediction – Enzo and Big Cass
The New Day (c) vs The Club – Tag Team Championship Match
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods will be fighting Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows without Big E, as he is nursing an injury to his man bits. I do hope that Big E will be present, but he has only been with us via Twitter lately. Anderson and Gallows have been utilizing a brilliant doctor gimmick, complete with every testicle pun you can possibly think of. They have Big E’s manhood in a jar, and have two smaller jars ready for Kingston and Woods. The New Day are the longest reigning WWE Tag Team champions as of July 20th and show no signs of giving up the titles. Their biggest competition on Raw, other than The Club, would be Enzo and Cass or Jeri-KO (if their tag team stays together). Golden Truth are more comic relief than anything else, and The Shining Stars are yet another failed gimmick for Primo and Epico. I am worried about New Day’s situation without Big E, and eager to see what this means for their title match.
F2H Prediction – The Club
John Cena vs AJ Styles – Singles Match
My favorite thing is to watch Styles BEAT UP JOHN CENA! It’s nice to see Cena out of the title picture and involved with someone who is a serious veteran in the business instead of a new talent who is still trying to find their footing. This absolutely must be a clean match for Styles with no assistance whatsoever from The Club. Win or lose, he needs to ensure he keeps this one-on-one. John Cena is one of my least favorite people; I get that he does a lot of good in the world and kids love him, but he’s just not my cup of tea, guys. I’m beyond ready to see “the face that runs the place” go part time and let someone else take the reins. I don’t know if Styles is that guy or not, but it’s a good place to start.
F2H Prediction – AJ Styles
Sasha Banks (c) vs Charlotte – Women’s Championship Match
Finally, The Boss holds the gold! Sasha Banks has had one hell of a journey from NXT to the main roster to finally becoming WWE Women’s Champion. Even Charlotte had to briefly break character on Raw and smile when she saw her friend holding the title high above her head. Dana Brooke is banned from ringside tonight, so Charlotte won’t have her lackey to go to for help in winning back the title. Unless she has some other tricks in mind or another person waiting in the wings, she is going to have to win or lose this match all on her own. These two women are huge talents and deserve every bit of success. They will ensure that you don’t use this match as the “beer run/bathroom break;” this will be a must see.
F2H Prediction – Sasha Banks
Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton – Singles Match
Lesnar and Orton were the first to overstep their boundaries and show up on the shows that they were not drafted to. Orton snuck onto Raw to deliver an RKO to the beast, and Lesnar invaded Smackdown to seek his revenge. I wish they had saved that for much later, but what’s done is done. This is Viperville versus Suplex City, a match fifteen years in the making. The promos leading up to this match have been fantastic and portray both men as unstoppable forces. I’m always excited to see Lesnar fight, and very happy that Orton is finally back from injury. I would like to see Lesnar turn an RKO attempt into an F5, and for Orton to get creative with his RKOs outta nowhere. This should be a brutal match; I hope both men bring it.
F2H Prediction – Brock Lesnar
Rusev (c) vs Roman Reigns – United States Championship Match
Roman Reigns failed a drug test, got himself suspended for 30 days, became the butt of Seth Rollins’ jokes during his suspension, and got himself removed from the WWE Heavyweight title picture. His push isn’t completely in the can though, since he has a chance to win the United States title off of Rusev. Our current champion recently married the lovely Lana in a ceremony that was filmed for Total Divas. They will have a separate ceremony overseas next month. Rusev has been an unstoppable champion, but unfortunately, most of his feuds devolve into USA vs Russia when they have the potential to be so much more. I’m not big on Reigns as he is right now; I miss the strong and silent, less showy wrestler he was with The Shield. Whatever happens during this match, I hope Lana avoids being caught in the crossfire.
F2H Prediction – Rusev
Dean Ambrose (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – WWE World Championship Match
I can’t believe that Dolph Ziggler is actually in this match! He once held the World Heavyweight title after one of the greatest Money In The Bank cash-ins in history, but fell down quite a few notches thanks to his criticism of the company and disapproval from the powers that be. Ziggler delivered an amazing promo on the go home episode of Raw; it was the best he has sounded in quite some time. Dean Ambrose is a very unconventional champion, but you can’t help but like the guy. He’s unpredictable, but has been getting more in touch with his serious side ever since winning the gold. I’m a big fan of both of these men, so this is a win-win situation for me; regardless of the outcome, I’m happy with the champion.
F2H Prediction – Dolph Ziggler
Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins – WWE Universal Championship Match
I am fangirling all over the place over this match! A lot of people are upset that the Demon King reveal was “wasted” on Raw, but we’ve already seen how unfamiliar the main roster audience is with most of the NXT roster and gimmicks, so this was a way of introducing everyone to him and getting them hyped for what is to come at Summerslam. Yes, it would have been better to save the reveal, but I see the logic behind the decision. Seth Rollins is a fantastic champ, but so is Finn Balor. This is another win-win for me because I love both guys and would enjoy seeing either as champion. It’s so exciting to see Balor on the main roster, plus in the title picture so soon, plus facing Rollins! This match alone is worth you signing up for the Network immediately. I’m so happy for Balor for his call up to the main roster and am thrilled to see him battle such a great competitor in Rollins.
F2H Prediction – Finn Balor
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Article by Mrs Jamie Baker