Last week, WWE Superstar and one third of The New Day, Big E (Langston) –real name Ettore Ewen– tweeted out the above photo with the hashtag Black Excellence. The photo featured The New Day, Sasha Banks, and Rich Swann all holding their respective WWE championships. Most people reacted normally and took it as Superstars being proud of their titles, but some decided that it was racist, stating that a “White Excellence” post would have caused nothing but anger and outrage.
New Day’s own Kofi Kingston –real name Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah– responded to the criticism with the following statement on his own Twitter account:
“While much of the feedback has been positive, there has also been a lot of negative response with regard to the picture we posted illustrating Rich, Sasha, Xavier, E, and myself wielding our championship titles. Perhaps this is because many are in question of the motivation behind the post. It does not come from a place of malice, spite, or gloating. It comes from a place of joy and a place of happiness. We have a very strong sense of pride in being the Black People simultaneously holding championships in WWE. Historically in our nation, there was period in time where this would not have happened, followed by a long period of time where it became possible, but had not actually materialized. Now, we are in the time in which the possibility has become a reality.
Why does this matter? It matters because even though it is hard for some to fathom, the fact is that there are many people who feel as though it is impossible to attain certain goals because of the color of their skin. This is why we must acknowledge the color of ours in this instance. It is important for people of all races, but particularly people of color, and especially the youth, to see that it is entirely possible to achieve your dreams and aspirations regardless of your race. We are a shining example who want to be a source of motivation for others to believe in themselves and do the same.
Excellence is not the same as supremacy. #BlackExcellence is not meant to be divisive. For even if you do not fall into the specific category, you can still take enjoyment in our pride, because in the biggest picture, in a society that often focuses on the negative aspects of race relations, what has transpired with the 5 of us speaks positively to the progress we’ve made as a nation.”
Perhaps his words angered someone backstage because this past Sunday at RAW’s pay-per-view Roadblock: End Of The Line, New Day lost their titles, Sasha Banks was dethroned, and while Rich Swann retained, he was attacked by Neville after his match. Black Excellence was destroyed in just a couple of hours. There is no proof that any of the actions on Sunday were in retaliation to the Black Excellence post, but it does seem strange for New Day to drop their titles so soon after breaking the reign record, for Sasha to tap when she only had to last two more seconds, and for Neville to return as a heel. Was this just several bad booking decisions or did WWE have some other ulterior, albeit racially charged, motive behind the events? We will probably never know, but it should be noted that WWE and Vince McMahon have a long documented history of racism and discrimination within the company, on-air talent, and booking angles.
Looking back at Sunday’s show, you’d be hard pressed to say that race and pride didn’t play a least some small factor in how the pay-per-view was booked. Anyone who has watched WWE for years can tell you that racist events and actions have taken place in the past, leading up until now and still continue well into the current product. What do you think? Mere coincidence or did the young black talent on WWE’s roster suffer from more sinister sabotage? Let us know in the comments below!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
If you missed last week’s RAW review, Finn Balor was injured at SummerSlam and was forced to vacate the Universal Championship less than 24 hours later. Tonight, we crown a new champ in a Fatal-4-Way.
The show kicks off with Corey Graves in the ring with the four competitors fighting for the title. Seth Rollins interrupts him early and tells everyone to thank him for injuring Finn Balor at SummerSlam. Rollins says he is feeling nice and wants to donate his talking time to Kevin Owens. Crowd starts a “Fight, Owens, Fight!” chant. He says Rollins talks big but he (Owens) delivers big. He insults Reigns and Big Cass as well. Cass then talks and actually does incredibly well. He insults Owens and Rollins, who then becomes infuriated and starts yelling at everyone. Rollins orders Graves to ask Reigns how he is going to win tonight. Reigns stands up and Owens laughs at him. Then Reigns punches him out of his chair. Rollins attacks Cass and Reigns pulls him off. Cass and Reigns square off. But before anything can happen Rollins attacks from behind. Reigns throws Cass out and then Superman Punches Rollins. Crowd vocally unhappy, booing Reigns as he eyes the Universal Championship. Nice opener for once.
Chris Jericho comes down to take on Neville. Y2J rolls out of the ring at the start of the match and yells at the crowd. Neville comes up behind him and kicks him in the gut. He rolls Jericho back in the ring, climbs the top rope and leaps off into a cross body cover. Jericho kicks out at two and then crawls to the corner and wraps his arms around the ref. Jericho rakes Neville’s eyes and clotheslines Neville to the mat. Commercial. Neville is in control when we return. Standing Shooting Star Press and Neville covers. Kick out at two. Jericho rolls out of the ring, Neville comes around and kicks him off the apron and moonsaults off the second rope, taking Jericho down. Back in the ring, Neville can’t keep Jericho down. Jericho goes for a Code Breaker, but Neville kicks him in the face. Red Arrow off the top rope. Jericho moves and catches Neville in the Walls of Jericho. Neville taps. This whole Y2J on top thing is getting old. He is beating too many young guys. This does absolutely nothing for Neville. And really does nothing for Jericho either. Neville recently returned and is getting tapped out. Didn’t like this booking at all.
Nia Jax up next. Probably another squash match so not really sure why I should even bother covering it. Shortly after typing this she wins. Yawn. Where’s Sasha Banks? Jinder Mahal and Sami Zayn have a match that nobody wants to see, honestly. The crowd chants for Slater throughout. Zayn wins. Boring match. Not sure what this does for Zayn. Just a lot of odd booking choices tonight.
Bayley and The New Day take on Dana Brooke and The Club next with Charlotte on commentary. Starting to see more of these mixed tag matches which is a big positive for WWE. This match is okay. Sort of a goofball spotfest instead of a fun wrestling match. Bayley and New Day are a little clumsy. The Club and Dana do a nice job. The big go home is Bayley to Belly on Dana for the pinfall victory. Raw has sort of lost me since the opening segment. They haven’t really set up any feuds or rivalries outside of the Universal Championship.
Sheamus comes out to fight Cesaro in a match that probably won’t pick up the momentum of the show. This is match #2 of their best of 7 series. Oh goodie. And lucky for us they let Byron Saxton interview Sheamus before the match. That’s just cringe-worthy. The match itself is decent. But what else is there for these two to do? They are just going to have seven straight up matches? That isn’t exciting at all. Cesaro lands a pretty vicious European uppercut off the ropes. Crowd not bothering to get up for this one. Can’t really blame them. This series is definitely going to 7 so we are just going to watch them go through the motions 6 times prior. In a surprise twist, Sheamus wins the second match with a submission tap out. Sheamus goes up 2-0. Mr. Fuji video package after the match. Sad. Rest in Peace to the Hall of Famer.
Big announcement after the break that the Cruiserweights are coming to Raw in 3 weeks! Finally! Stephanie McMahon comes down to the ring. Paul Heyman interrupts her. Stephanie cuts him off and tells him to get in the ring and apologize. Instead, Heyman says Raw won SummerSlam when Lesnar defeated Orton. Heyman says he is here tonight to pay Lesnar’s $500 fine. He pulls out a huge stack of bills. He starts counting to five hundred using single dollar bills. HaHaHa. At six, Stephanie slaps the money out of his hand. Heyman sweet talks Stephanie and apologizes. She accepts and walks out. Weird segment.
Titus O’Neal comes to the ring, smiling at the replay from last week. Darren Young comes out with Bob Backlund. Weirdly, this is one of the better matches of the night. The two tell a good story and put some emotion into their fight. Titus looks like a beast and although Young has yet to embody this so-called greatness Backlund claims, he looks solid tonight. Darren Young gets the pinfall victory and then tosses Titus out of the ring. He and Backlund celebrate in the ring. Titus spoils the fun, running in and attacking them both from behind. Clash of the Titus on Young. Crowd boo’s as Titus walks out and up the ramp.
Main event time. Big Cass comes out with Enzo Amore which I find an odd decision. Makes Cass look like he can’t stand on his own, something Owens alluded to earlier in the broadcast. This is a big moment for Cass, and Enzo kind of hijacked it. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Certified G, but he really has no business here. Oh well, what’s done is done. The bell rings and Owens rolls out and leans against the barricade, letting the other three beat each other up. Eventually Cass and Reigns square off alone in the ring. They trade blows, but Reigns knocks Cass down. Reigns misses with a Superman Punch. Cass off the ropes and he kicks Reigns out of the ring, as both men go tumbling out of the ring. Cass and Owens are fighting and Reigns dives out to take them both down. Commercial break.
As we come back from the break, Owens drops an elbow off the apron onto Cass. Rollins clobbers him, rolls Cass in the ring, and manages a two count. All four guys take turns running the show. It’s a well choreographed match for having four guys at once. Frog Splash by Owens and he eliminates Big Cass. Good showing for the big man. And then there were three….and another commercial break. Owens hits two cannonballs on Reigns and Rollins in separate corners. Superman Punch by Reigns, but Owens kicks out. Crowd in a frenzy. Stephanie and Mick ringside, practically drooling. Reigns hits all his moves on the outside to both guys. Triple H runs in and Pedigrees Reigns out of no where! He throws Reigns into the ring, gets Rollins up and tells him to cover him. He does and Rollins eliminates Reigns. HHH walks over to Owens and rolls him in the ring. HHH turns and hits Rollins with a Pedigree. Owens covers and wins the title! Holy shit! HHH walks out. Owens celebrates and holds the belt up. And despite the heel-ness, crowd starts a “You Deserve It!” chant. Wow. Talk about making a big impact. Everybody is going to be talking anout this all week long.
Great beginning, great ending. The rest of Raw was pretty much garbage for the most part. But if Creative burned all their juice on making Owens the champion, we have to take it. What a fantastic new direction for the company. Congrats to the NEW Universal Champion, Kevin Owens. See you tomorrow for Smackdown Live.
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After a long weekend of wrestling, we are back for another episode of Monday Night Raw. NXT gave us Takeover: Brooklyn 2 on Saturday, and last night saw the conclusion of the summer with the 2016 SummerSlam pay-per-view. Let’s see what Vince and Co have in store for us tonight.
The show starts with breaking news that Finn Balor injured his shoulder in the match against Seth Rollins to capture the Universal Championship. He has a torn shoulder and will be out of action six months. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley are in the ring and they bring out Balor. This guy showed guts finishing the match last night. Damn fine champ. He will be missed the next few months. Balor gets on the mic and says the title represents a lifetime of sacrifices. Balor thanks WWE, the wrestlers, and Seth Rollins. He then thanks the crowd, which starts a “Thank you, Finn!” chant. He assures the fans that when he returns, the title is the first thing he is coming for. Balor relinquishes the title to Foley and then walks out of the ring. As Balor gets to the top of the ramp, Seth Rollins comes out strutting and laughing. He strolls right by Balor, chomping his gum and heads to the ring. Balor stares daggers into Rollins’ back.
Rollins gets in the ring and hugs Stephanie. He gets on the mic and says what a shame, what a pity, let’s not live in the past. “At least now we know who the REAL winner was at SummerSlam last night, right?” Rollins says let’s have a celebration for the true Universal Champion. Sami Zayn interrupts. Zayn doesn’t say anything. Just points at the title. And then Chris Jericho comes down. He also says nothing. Kevin Owens comes down. Enzo Amore and Big Cass come down, and for once Enzo is not on the mic. The ring is quickly filling up. Rollins stands off to one side, leaning against the ropes and looking annoyed as the other men argue. Then Roman Reigns comes down. Still nobody says anything. Crowd starts a “We want Slater!” chant. Foley finally speaks. He says everyone in the ring is deserving, so WWE is doing a series of matches with the crowning of a new champion next week. Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins are the first competitors and it happens next, right after the first commercial break.
Rollins takes quick control and after a few moments, Zayn crumples under a bad left leg. Seems to have gotten legit injured. Zayn launches himself out of the ring, flips, and knocks Rollins down. Zayn screams and grabs his ankle. Rollins throws him in the ring, knee to the face, cover, but Zayn kicks out at two. Commercial break. When we return, Zayn hits Rollins with a big clothesline. He still can’t put any weight on his leg. The two trade blows until Rollins kicks him on the side of the head. Rollins gets a leg submission on, but Zayn rolls to the bottom rope. Pedigree by Rollins for the pinfall victory. Shocking start to Raw. Not even sure what to make of it. Balor out at least six months, and now Sami Zayn injured. Tough day to be a wrestling fan.
Kevin Owens comes down to take on Neville, who is in the tournament for the Universal title apparently. Winner advances. Neville drops Owens outside the ring as soon as the match starts, then hits him with a 450 splash. Jericho comes down to distract, allowing Owens to attack Neville from behind and take the upper-hand. Commercial break. After, both men trade offense, topped off by Neville hitting a suplex. Owens misses a frog splash. Neville hits a corkscrew moonsault off the top rope and covers, but Owens kicks out at two. Neville lifts Owens up and suplexes him into a bridge cover. Kick out at two. Impressive match so far for Neville. Neville tries a Red Arrow, misses, Owens super kick. Neville kicks him, climbs up for the Red Arrow again, and Jericho distracts. Neville kicks him off the apron but Owens recovers and puts Neville into a torture rack into a neckbreaker. Cover and that’s it. Owens wins and advances. After the match, Michael Cole says the match for the title next week will be a Fatal-4-Way.
The New Day comes down after the break. New Day celebrating 365 days as champions. Incredible. The Club interrupts, calling New Day and the crowd stupid. Big E vs Anderson in singles competition. Big E dominating to start the match, until he takes a shot to his knee and falls down, clutching it. Anderson immediately attacks it. Big E tosses him out of the ring. Gallows tries to interfere, but Xavier and Kofi stop him. Big Ending in the ring and Big E covers Anderson for the pinfall victory. Okay match, short and not really all that entertaining.
Titus O’Neal is in the ring. He fumbles for his words and can’t seem to form a coherent sentence. He complains about The New Day and Brooklyn. He then insults Darren Young and Bob Backlund. He calls out Young, but instead Backlund runs down. He puts the crossface chickenwing on Titus, but he gets out of it and slams Backlund to the mat. Darren Young runs down to check on Backlund. Titus picks up Young and hits the Clash of the Titus. That was a cringe-worthy segment.
Tom Phillips interviews Stephanie about actions against her brother by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. She says there will be consequences. Lana is in the ring and brings out Rusev. His opponent will be Big Cass who comes out with Enzo on the mic. Cass goes to work on Rusev’s taped up ribs. He clotheslines him out of the ring as we go to commercial break. Rusev has taken control when we return, and strikes Cass in the back. Outside the ring, Rusev kicks Enzo to the floor. Cass rolls out and gets him in the ring. Splash in the corner and some punches to the ribs. Rusev rolls out of the ring, avoiding an Empire Elbow. Cass follows him out and throws the US champ into the steel steps. Rusev walks up the ramp and allows himself to get counted out. Cass wins and advances.
Charlotte comes to the ring with Dana Brooke. She insults Sasha, calls herself the queen, and goes to leave. As she is getting out of the ring, Mick Foley comes out. Charlotte asks for the night off and says there is no one else to challenge her. Mick says not so fast, please meet the newest member of the Monday Night Raw roster….Bayley! Crowd goes wild! Bayley comes out and this moment has been a long time coming. Yay! You cannot help but to love Bayley. Crowd starts chants for her before anybody can speak. Bayley thanks Foley and asks if they can seal the deal with none other than a hug. Bayley challenges Charlotte for the title. Charlotte isn’t dressed to compete, but Dana Brooke is. That match is next!
Bayley has fun to start and then gets to work against Brooke. Dana recovers and slams here into the corner. Bayley returns the favor and pounds her head in the corner and then bounces her off the turnbuckle. Cover, but Brooke kicks out at two. Charlotte distracts and Brooke knocks Bayley off the apron. Brooke throws her against the barricade. Back in the ring, Brooke clobbers Bayley and tries a cover. Bayley fights back and drops an elbow off the second rope. Bayley to Belly suplex and Bayley wins her Raw debut! Charlotte looks on in anger.
Braun Strowman roars his way down to the ring, set to take on yet another jobber. Should be short and sweet. Few powerful moves and then a cover. Strowman wins. Meh. This just doesn’t interest me. And if this is leading to Strowman facing Kane, Big Show, or Mark Henry, you can count me out.
The Dudley Boyz come out, set to say farewell to the WWE. Bubba Ray and Devon will be sorely missed and are well on their way to a Hall of Fame bid. Hometown crowd goes wild for them. The Boyz give a heartfelt speech, thanking the crowd, the WWE, Edge and Christian, and even The Hardy Boys. As The Dudley’s go to leave, they are interrupted by The Shining Stars. Crowd starts a “We want tables!” chant. Primo and Epico offer them two tickets to Puerto Rico. Devon and Bubb Ray shut this shit down, clobbering both men. Bubba holds up 3D. They hit it! Then they hit WAZZUP from the corner! Bubba Ray shoves his brother and the crowd screams get the tables, and I swear to god I got tears in my eyes. Devon gets a table out. Bubba sets it up, and Primo is about to go for a ride. But Anderson and Gallows interrupts! Devon is thrown into the steel steps! Magic Killer on Bubba Ray on the floor. Crowd boo’s. My goodness, this segment took a turn. Devon tries to fight back, but he is double teamed and thrown back into the ring. They set Devon up for Magic Killer and hit it, sending him through the table. Wow! That was easily my favorite segment of the whole night. Hope this sets up a feud! Maybe The Dudleyz have one more match in them!
Chris Jericho comes out ready to take on Roman Reigns for the final spot in next week’s Fatal-4-Way to determine the new Universal Champion. Jericho controls the flow to start the match. Crowd is starting to lose interest in the show, starting chants and doing the wave. This Brooklyn crowd has been pretty rude the past few days, to be honest. Headbutt by Reigns, followed by some punches but Jericho answers with a dropkick. Headlock by Y2J and he screams for Reigns to give up. Reigns is favoring is left eye. He clotheslines Jericho to the mat. Reigns misses with a Superman Punch but blocks Jericho’s submission. Kick to the head and Reigns is down. Kick out at two. Y2J off the top rope but Reigns catches him with a punch. Y2J on the apron and Reigns kicks him. Jericho tries a lionsault, but Reigns gets his knee up. Superman Punch and a cover, but Jericho kicks out on a long two. Y2J attempts a Code Breaker, but Reigns catches him and powerbombs him. Jericho kicks out at two. Kevin Owens runs in to distract, Jericho rolls Reigns up, but kick out at two. Superman Punch and instead of covering, Reigns goes to the corner. He runs for a Spear, but Jericho drops him and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Reigns crawls to the rope and forces the break. With the refs back turned, Owens punches him in the face. Jericho hits Code Breaker, covers but Reigns kicks out at two! That was an unexpected false finish. Nicely done! The match continues. Owens screams at Jericho to do it already. Y2J slaps Reigns in the back of the head over and over. Owens gets up on the apron, Superman Punch on him, Reigns turns, off the ropes, and Spears Y2J into a pin for the win. He joins Owens, Rollins, and Big Cass in the Fatal-4-Way next week.
Hard to get into the show with such a depressing opener. Sort of took the wind out of the sails right out of the gate. Hats off to all the guys, they did their best in the ring. But WWE programming just isn’t getting better, and now yet another setback with Balor’s injury. WWE just can’t catch a break. I won’t judge too harshly as Raw was interesting to watch and I didn’t really complain much. But we needed more. Overall, though, this wasn’t a terrible Raw. And we have to give WWE a fair shake whenever we can because they make a lot of mistakes. The booking tonight was mainly out of their hands. What do you guys think about Finn Balor’s injury and the future of Monday Night Raw? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for Smackdown Live!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
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
It’s time for Monday Night Raw! This is the go home show before the Summerslam PPV; WWE’s second largest event of the year. We start off with a look back earlier today, where Seth Rollins lets us know why he is the man and why he will be the first WWE Universal Champion. He addresses Finn Balor, calling out the Demon King, then feigning surprise when no one shows up. If the Demon King is too scared to find The Man, then The Man will find the Demon King.
Back in the arena, Rusev and Lana are in the ring and both look enraged. Rusev accuses Roman Reigns of ruining a historic event, so he is cancelling Raw tonight. All is on hold until Reigns apologizes. These stand-offs always go so well, don’t they? The crowd starts a USA chant, because they aren’t creative. Thankfully, Mick Foley breaks things up, wearing an amazing “Have A Nice Raw” shirt. Rusev demands respect as Foley pleads with him to leave the ring. After an awkward few seconds, Stephanie McMahon comes out to the ring, at Rusev’s request. McMahon calls Rusev’s behavior unacceptable, especially the disrespect of Foley. Rusev threatens to call up Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, which is when Reigns decides to make an appearance and offer an apology.
Reigns makes a terrible joke about mail order brides, then says that their future babies will be ugly. He has a hell of a black eye, which I can’t say doesn’t make me a tiny bit happy. The crowd again starts chanting USA, and Reigns launches into his best impression of Ghetto Cena, and challenges Rusev to a title match right now. Foley decides that they will have a match tonight, but the title will not be on the line. Instead, this match will be all about Lana’a honor.
We return from commercial to find Sheamus in the ring with Byron Saxton. Sheamus says he is more dominant than Cesaro and shouldn’t have lost the match last week. He proved that he is the better athlete when he interfered in Cesaro’s title match later in the night. Sheamus promises to kick Zayn’s head off, and the two literally trip over the referee trying to beat each other up before the bell even rings. As the match begins, Cesaro joins the commentary table, which is always awkward; Cesaro needs to work on his public speaking and interview skills. Zayn throws Sheamus from the ring and tries to go to the top rope, but Sheamus ducks out of the way and then knocks him into the ringpost and to the ground. During the commercial, the two get back into the ring where Sheamus tries for the first pinfall. Zayn is able to send Sheamus over the top rope, then dives over the rope to knock him down. He gets Sheamus back in the ring and goes to the top rope again, but Sheamus hits White Noise (and Michael Cole calls it the wrong move) and tries for another pinfall. As Sheamus sets up the Brogue Kick, Cesaro leaves commentary and heads to the ring. His distractions allows Zayn to hit a Helluva Kick and win the match.
Backstage, Tom Phillips is interviewing Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, who have recently formed an alliance. Owens will face Big Cass tonight, but it won’t be a one on one match because Jericho has Owens’ back. They mock Enzo and Cass, saying they are closer than their Summerslam opponents will ever be, and that Cass can’t spell to save his life. Cass better watch IT. And by IT, they mean watch Owens beat Cass tonight and watch them humiliate the team at Summerslam.
It’s time for some positivity, as New Day (minus Big E) come to the ring. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, our resident MDs, deliver a message regarding Big E’s ringpostitis. The ball jokes are amazing. And the microwave has a NADS button! Kingston and Woods face The Dudley Boyz, and D-Von is in complete control of Woods as Bubba yells from ringside. Using quick tags, they keep Woods down, but a misstep sends the Dudleys into each other. Kingston tags in and hits Trouble in Paradise for a quick win. Confusing squash match. Anderson and Gallows appear on the screen again, for more testicle jokes at poor Big E’s expense. They produce more jars as a warning that Woods and Kingston are next on their hit list. Kingston gets serious and says that this isn’t a game to them; this is serious business. Patchy-haired human plalluses have no chance of beating them at Summerslam.
Seth Rollins is walking around backstage, searching for the Demon King. He finds Neville, who tells Rollins that he isn’t ready for the Summerslam match against Balor. Back in the ring, Nia Jax is facing Rachel Levy, who has been watching the Olympics nonstop, so she can do anything she sets her mind to. Okay, Rachel. Jax throws Levy across the ring, then sets her on the top rope before shoving her hard off the rope and to the floor. The ref begins the count as Jax retrieves her opponent. She slams her to the mat and gets the pin for the win. I love Nia Jax, but we have got to give her longer matches.
Paul Heyman goes into Brock Lesnar’s dressing room to speak with The Beast before they go to the ring. The crowd is cheering like crazy and chanting Suplex City. Heath Slater interrupts at Heyman begins his speech, and says that he is the hottest free agent in sports entertainment. He proposes becoming a Heyman guy, and Heyman just laughs. Slater clarifies, saying that what he wants is a match with Lesnar to earn a contract. What? The crowd is into it, but Heyman goes back to his speech. Slater screams an interruption, saying do NOT disrespect him! I love Heath Slater. He doesn’t want to face Lesnar, he HAS to. Heyman is trying to save him from a beat down, but Slater’s ass can’t be saved! Lesnar gets on the mic and tells Slater he has guts. He invites Slater in the ring to talk about his kids. Lesnar gets right in his face and says “I don’t give a shit about your kids. You’ve got two choices right here. One, you walk out of here on your own two feet. Two, you can stand there and keep pissing me off.” Lesnar is a scary dude. Slater fakes him out and tries to attack him, but Lesnar hits a clothesline and then takes him to Suplex City! He hits an F5 and kicks Slater out of his ring. Heyman puts on Slater’s sunglasses and gives Slater credit for stepping up to Lesnar, something Randy Orton doesn’t have the guts to do. The beast is in heat, which is an uncomfortable thought.
Up next, Big Cass will face Kevin Owens. I dare you not to smile when Enzo is in the ring. He addresses the Summerslam match, or Summerslam BBQ as he calls it. If Jericho and Owens want beef, they’re bringing it straight to their grill. Cass hits a shoulder tackle and pins Owens in the corner, but he rolls to safety before Cass can get a kick in. He hits Cass on the rope and throws his opponent from the ring where Jericho delivers a cheap shot while the ref is distracted. Owens has controlled the match during the commercial break, and continues as we return until Cass hits a side slam. Owens finally gets a kick to his face from Cass, who then hits a splash in the corner and tries to throw Owens from the ring. Owens grabs the rope to send Cass flying. He tries for a powerbomb, but Cass counters. Jericho and Enzo are fighting outside of the ring, then Jericho begins fighting Cass and the match is called for disqualification. Owens and Jericho don’t mind the loss; they continue to attack Cass. Jericho hits a Code Breaker to take Cass down for good.
Roman Reigns is backstage, promising a bunch of nonsense, when Rusev comes out of nowhere to attack him. He throws him around like a rag doll as Lana watches on from a safe distance. Eventually, the referees and security are able to break things up as we go to commercial. I love seeing Reigns get his ass kicked.
Titus O’Neil’s music hits, but Bob Backlund comes out. He is followed by Darren Young and O’Neil, who all attempt to do the Millions of Dollars dance. On the Raw preshow, Young and O’Neil buried their beef and reunited as a tag team with Backlund’s blessing for one night only. They are facing the Shining Stars. Watching the two together makes me miss them as a tag team; they are great as a duo. Primo manages to get O’Neil pinned in the corner, and Epico tries (and fails) to get the crowd behind them. O’Neil gets back to his feet and easily tosses his opponent aside. Young inadvertently knocks O’Neil off the ring, so he retaliates by hitting Clash Of The Titus and abandoning the match, allowing the Shining Stars to get the win. What?
Now it’s time for the return of Jinder Mahal! Is it weird that I am excited for this? He’s facing off against Neville, who trips in the ring as he tries to go to the top rope to pose. Neville gets an early pin, but Mahal kicks out. He’s controlling this match, hitting the Red Arrow from the top rope to take down Mahal outside of the ring. Mahal begs Neville to stop, using it to bait Neville in and try for a pin. Neville goes to the top rope again and hits the Red Arrow, beating Mahal in his return match. I see we’re still not done shitting on 3MB. Shame.
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins is still searching for the Demon King. Foley and McMahon haven’t seen him either, and Rollins says he’s looked everywhere and has to change his focus to his title match. He asks for the night off, and McMahon doesn’t have anything for him. Foley says that before he takes the night off, go out to the ring and try to get him to come out… unless he’s scared.
Foley calls for his music and Rollins heads to the ring. Rollins is insulted; Balor talked about the Demon King last week, and for what? Rollins says there is nothing and no one that can stop him from winning on Sunday. He calls out the Demon King and is greeted with silence. Finn Balor is only trying to intimidate Rollins because he is scared. Our former champ says that no one can touch him; even he would be afraid of himself if he was someone else. The Demon King is just another chapter in the book of Rollins. He suddenly stops talking, focused on something in the ring that we don’t get to see. The lights start going wonky and the sound is messing up, but Rollins continues to yell.
Finally, out of the smoke, comes Finn Balor! I have chills all over! I will say, they definitely should have saved this moment for Summerslam, but damn if this isn’t amazing to watch. I don’t understand the logic of this decision, but I’m enjoying the moment. As is the crowd! The two men stare each other down as the crowd chants HOLY SHIT and THIS IS AWESOME! The two begin fighting, and Balor takes Rollins down quick. This is the first part of Raw that has gotten me hyped for Summerslam, so maybe there was a logic behind this bizarre decision. We’ll see.
We return to the ring to the Golden Truth, who are facing Anderson and Gallows. Anderson and Truth start off this tag match, with Anderson quickly gaining control and tagging in Gallows. Truth hits an amazing kick to break The Club’s momentum and tag in Goldust. Unfortunately, The Club hits the Magic Killer on Goldust and wins the match. Another quick squash for our go home Raw. Out of nowhere, Kingston and Woods come out to attack The Club. New Day has their game faces on. They take out The Club and make their intentions for Sunday clear.
Dana Brooke is backstage, apologizing for losing last week to Charlotte. Charlotte isn’t having it though; she wanted the handicap match on Sunday to happen. She calls Brooke an epic failure and walks away to prepare for her match against Alicia Fox. Sasha Banks is on commentary and isn’t buying into any of Charlotte’s big talk. Fox goes for an early pin, but Charlotte kicks free. Charlotte pins Fox on the ropes as the crowd chants for Banks. Fox is hit with Natural Selection and pinned for the loss as Charlotte turns her attention to Banks. Banks walks to the ring and Brooke runs out to distract Banks so that Charlotte can lock in the Figure Eight. The refs are unable to break the hold, thanks to Dana Brooke, and Banks looks hurt. Charlotte is playing the villain to perfection.
Moving on, Braun Strowman has a video package showing the way he has evolved since being separated from The Wyatt Family. Back in the ring, Lana addresses the altercation between Rusev and Reigns before welcoming her husband to the ring. Reigns comes out and the two go at it immediately. This match should not be happening. We’re getting a match at Summerslam; I don’t want to see this beforehand. The bell has not rung as Reigns dominates Rusev while the ref pleads for him to stop. During the commercial, Rusev injured Reigns’ arm, and as we return, Rusev is still working it. Maybe he’ll be “injured” and unable to compete Sunday? Reigns is getting back in the match, screaming and making faces, but Rusev throws him into the ringpost and out of the ring. Our US Champ throws Reigns into the steps once again, then targets it as the crowd chants RUSEV MATCHKA!
As we return from hopefully our last commercial break, Rusev has a mic and demands that the crowd cheer for him. Reigns is looking rough, and Rusev doesn’t let up, hitting him with knees and still targeting the arm. The two men go to the top rope, but Reigns blocks Rusev’s attempts and hits a clothesline. Reigns starts doing his best John Cena impression, cocks his fist and goes for the Superman Punch, but Rusev counters. Rusev hits flying headbutt after headbutt on Cena/Reigns, but he kicks out at two. Reigns manages to hit a clothesline and send Rusev out of the ring. He tries for another Superman Punch, but Rusev kicks him in the ribs. Please end this match. Cena/Reigns finally hits the AA/Superman Punch and pins Rusev for a nearfall. Rusev goes for the Accolade but can’t get the right arm locked in. He finally lands a kick that allows him to get the Accolade locked in. Reigns manages to grab the rope to force a break. Reigns hits a spear and wins the match. That was exhausting.
Overall, this wasn’t a great Raw, especially for our go home episode for Summerslam. The main event was godawful and most of the matches were mediocre at best. There was only one moment tonight that got me hyped for Sunday, and that was a moment that ended up angering a lot of other fans. Please leave your thoughts below, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at facetoheel. We will have predictions coming for NXT Takeover and for Summerslam; you don’t want to miss out.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Tonight, Sean Combs will be on Raw, for reasons I don’t quite understand or care about. Raw kicks off with Smacktalker Skywalker himself; Enzo Amore and his partner, Big Cass. He hasn’t even spoken yet and I’m already grinning from ear to ear. Enzo addresses the crowd regarding last week’s match and flirtation with Sasha Banks, that Chris Jericho ruined. Jericho comes out in his best scarf to talk to “Enzo Annoying,” saying that he is nothing without Big Cass at his side. Now, Jericho has backup of his own in the form of Kevin Owens. I’m not crazy about this pairing; I’m not big on Jericho (sorry, hardcore wrestling fans) and I prefer Owens as a solo wrestler. Owens says that Cass is one of the few people he liked in NXT; they had a waste of space as a best friend as something in common. But unlike him, Cass still carries his dead weight around with him. Owens asks a “reforical” question, and threatens to hurt Enzo and Cass. The segment ends abruptly with Enzo getting the last word, and a match is set for after the commercial break.
Enzo and Jericho are in the ring for a singles match, with Cass and Owens ringside to support their respective teammates. Owens is screaming insults at Enzo as Jericho pins him in the corner and hits chops to the chest. Enzo hits a Hurricanrana, but Jericho responds with a clothesline that breaks his momentum. As the official is distracted, Owens hits Enzo with a cheap shot. The two men move outside of the ring, where Owens and Cass come to their defense as we move to our second break. When we return, Michael Cole says that it has been Jericho’s match during the break. Enzo quickly turns it around and hits a Crossbody into a shoulder tackle, then running forearm into a cover. Jericho locks in the Walls, but Enzo makes it to the rope. Jericho hits a Codebreaker after a distraction by Owens, prompting Cass to hit Jericho with a kick to the face. The ref calls the match thanks to the disqualification and Jericho is declared the winner. Enzo is down and out on the mat as Owens celebrates with his new BFF. Cass gets on the mic and challenges the duo to a match at Summerslam to settle the score, and Owens accepts. How you doin?
Mick Foley is on the phone backstage with Stephanie McMahon, discussing the issue with Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, when Sasha Banks steps in. She proposes that the Women’s Title match be a handicap match so that she can keep an eye on Dana Brooke as she fights Charlotte. Foley counters, saying that Banks will face Brooke tonight. If she wins, Brooke will be banned from ringside at Summerslam. If she loses, she will get her handicap match.
Braun Strowman comes out to the ring now, and I am cracking up again at the loud BRAAAAAUN scream at the beginning of his new entrance theme. It’s amazing and I love it. Jorel Nelson is his opponent tonight, and in his pre-match interview, he was unable to say a single word. He comes out after Strowman, looking absolutely terrified. Nelson immediately exits the ring once the bell rings, and Strowman knocks him off the apron before throwing him back into the ring and hitting a killer clothesline. Nelson is hit with a reverse chokeslam before being pinned for the loss. Strowman then grabs him by the ankle and throws him from the ring before screaming “Everyone Will Fall!”
Sean Combs greets Foley backstage, and I tune out for a moment. Kofi Kingson and Xavier Woods save this segment with some delicious Booty-Os and congratulations to Combs for his work on the WWE 2k17 soundtrack. Our next match is Titus O’Neil and Darren Young, former tag team partners and now seemingly new enemies thanks to O’Neil’s questionable victory last week. Young takes a knee to the face early on, then the match moves outside of the ring as O’Neil shoves Young into the apron and hits a hard chop to the chest. Young tries a move off the second rope, but O’Neil catches him. Young is able to roll up O’Neil and pin him with a hand on the tights, exactly how O’Neil won his match last week. Bob Backlund picks him up in victory; he was conveniently not watching as Young cheated his way into a win. Quick, throwaway match.
Our former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins comes to the ring. Rollins addresses his Summerslam opponent, Finn Balor, calling him a Seth Rollins knockoff. The Jared Leto to his Heath Ledger. Rollins says that Balor’s name, which translates to “Demon King,” is absurd. Rollins wants to know who Balor truly is. He calls him disrespectful and arrogant, and thinks it’s a joke to even entertain the idea that he’ll beat him at Summerslam for the Universal Title. Rollins says he belongs at the top of the WWE, and he doesn’t need the smoke and mirrors to make himself into something he isn’t. This is a fantastic promo by Rollins; he’s tearing down Roman Reigns, John Cena, and everyone else who isn’t in his league.
The next match is a rematch from last week; Sheamus versus Cesaro. The two are clearly angry and lock up as soon as the bell rings, with Sheamus getting Cesaro down almost immediately. Cesaro knocks Sheamus from the ring, then executes an impressive dive to take him down. Cesaro starts in with the uppercuts as the ref pleads with him to get Sheamus out of the corner. Sheamus is finally able to take control of the match, but we move to commercial. When we return, Sheamus dives from the ropes to pin Cesaro. He locks Cesaro in a headlock on the mat, and the two rise to begin trading punches. It’s a pretty slow match, to be honest. There are a lot of false finishes and a lot of counters to finishing moves, but it’s failing to keep my attention. The two leave the ring, and Cesaro rams Sheamus into the barricade before returning to the ring for an uppercut party. The ref is caught up in the crossfire and Sheamus is able to pin Cesaro for the win, but the ref doesn’t see it. This allows Cesaro to capitalize and pin him for the win. He celebrates with the crowd as Sheamus looks understandably upset.
We move on to a video package with Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, going back 15 years to get a recap of their journey through WWE. It’s crazy to see them so young and to see everything they have accomplished over the years. Orton says that he isn’t impressed with Lesnar because he left the WWE. Lesnar basically says he doesn’t give a shit what Orton thinks or says. Lesnar giggles when they replay him F5ing Orton on Smackdown. It’s a bad ass promo, and I want to see the unedited version, because Lesnar cusses a lot.
Bubba Ray and D-Von are up now for a tag match against Neville and surprise partner, Sin Cara. Oh, joy. Sin Cara is dressed all in black and looks like he came to rob a bank but forgot his shirt. He starts off the match against Bubba. The crowd is chanting for tables as Sin Cara hits a moonsault to take Bubba down. Bubba knocks him from the ropes into the barricade, then throws him back into the ring and tags in D-Von. D-Von mocks the Lucha chant before throwing Sin Cara into the turnbuckle, not allowing him to regain his footing or tag in Neville. He’s finally able to make it to his partner, who gets a pin on D-Von, but can’t hold him down. He flies out of the ring to take down Bubba before returning to the ring to hit a Missile Drop Kick on D-Von. Neville goes to the top rope and hits the Red Arrow for the win. A shaky match, but Neville looked great.
Our newlywed United States champion and his lovely wife, Lana, come out to a decorated ring to celebrate their marriage, which was filmed for Total Divas. The crowd is hating on the couple, and I’m wondering how Lana can walk in those shoes without tripping. I can’t manage it in my Chuck Taylors, nevermind 6″ heels. Lana says that since we weren’t invited to their VIP wedding, they will reenact it for us now. We get photos of their special day along with cheesy music, and the crowd responds with BORING chants. I love me some Lana, but I have to wonder what this is leading to. I have zero interest in hearing their vows and want this to move on.
Be careful what you wish for… Roman Reigns interrupts and the crowd cheers. Kudos to WWE for finding a way to get people to cheer for this guy again. He offers to be Rusev’s best man and says he will toast to their marriage. When Rusev refuses, he challenges him to a match, which Rusev also refuses. Patiently waiting for a cake to fly into somebody. Reigns decides to do the toast anyway. Reigns tries hard to be clever, but reminds us all that the promo talent that The Rock is blessed with is certainly not genetic. Reigns and Rusev start fighting, and poor Lana gets shoved into the cake. She’s covered in frosting, and Reigns slinks away with a stupid look on his face. Poor Lana. Backstage, Rusev is screaming at Foley, saying that Reigns needs to pay for ruining their celebration. Foley makes a match at Summerslam for the US Title; Rusev versus Reigns. They start yelling in Russian, and we cut away. Poor Lana…
Sasha Banks us set to face Dana Brooke to decide if the Summerslam match will be one-on-one or a handicap match. A belated congratulations goes out to our Women’s Champion, who recently got married to Sareth Ton, a WWE costume designer and former WWE wrestler known as Mikaze. Charlotte is screaming at Brooke, shouting instructions on how to take Banks down. Brooke goes for multiple pins, but The Boss kicks free. Charlotte tries for a cheap shot to Banks, but hits Brooke instead. Banks hits Brooke with knees to the chest and wins the match, banning Brooke from the Summerslam match.
Finn Balor takes his turn to address the situation with Seth Rollins and to properly explain the origin of his name. Balor’s origins aren’t a myth, they are pieces of himself that he is able to tap into and use to his advantage. He will introduce the Demon King to Rollins at Summerslam. It’s a pretty decent package, and I’m excited to see their match.
Moving on, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are dressed as doctors to address ringpostitis. They also have eggs in a jar to represent Big E’s balls. It makes them “a bit testy.” Tonight, they promise to add Kofi’s nuts to their collection. Testicles. Luke Gallows will face Kingston now. The match kicks off with Gallows in total control, and he never loses it. This is a fast match, with Gallows getting a quick pin on his opponent. He and Anderson drag Kofi to the ring post and get ready to take his fun bits for a ride, but Woods grabs a steel chair and sends them running up the ramp.
Outside, R-Truth is in Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine. R-Truth accuses Goldust of replacing him with Scooby, and he almost fights the dude in the suit, but all is well and they run off to watch the movie. Back in reality, Mick Foley comes to the ring to welcome Smackdown GM, Daniel Bryan. The two trade compliments before Foley apologizes for Lesnar’s actions on Smackdown. Bryan offers his own apology for Orton’s actions, but Foley isn’t buying it and pulls up video of Bryan insulting the Universal Title. Surprisingly, Rusev interrupts and threatens Bryan, saying anyone who tries what Orton did will be crushed. Now Cesaro is out in the ring, saying that he proved he deserves a title shot and wants Foley to deliver. Foley says that Cesaro can have his shot tonight, even though it’s 10:55pm.
It’s 11pm as we return to our title match. Cesaro starts the uppercut party and goes for the swing, but Rusev goes for the rope. He flies out of the ring to attack Rusev before rolling him back into the ring. He goes to the top rope and hits Rusev with a crossbody for an unsuccessful pin. Rusev regains control and throws Cesaro into the ringpost. He is targeting Cesaro’s shoulders, then moves to his midsection. Cesaro tries for the swing again, but Rusev blocks it. He almost scores a win, but Rusev isn’t allowing it. The uppercuts continue at the expense of Rusev, who is then hit with a Tornado DDT. Rusev is angry now and goes for the Accolade, but Cesaro fights free, lifting Rusev on his shoulders before dropping him to the mat. Cesaro lands a solid uppercut and calls for the swing. He gets Rusev up, then locks the Sharpshooter in. Sheamus unfortunately breaks it up, allowing Rusev to get up and take Cesaro down. The referee gets knocked out, not seeing Cesaro getting a successful pin. Rusev pokes Cesaro in the eye, then Sheamus kicks him in the face, allowing Rusev to retain his title. As he celebrates, Reigns comes out and spears him. We end the night with Reigns’ music as he flashes the peace sign and walks into the back.
Summerslam is in two weeks, and we will bring you a run down of the matches and our predictions closer to the event. Tonight was a decent build to our second biggest WWE event of the year, and it was successful in getting me excited for a good number of the matches. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @facetoheel, and we will see you all tomorrow night for Smackdown.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Just 24 hours removed from the Battleground pay-per-view, Monday Night Raw kicks off featuring a new logo (above), a new commentary area, a new commentator, Corey Graves, and a new video intro with new song. So far, this is promising. They are at least trying to give the appearance of a “New Era.”
The show kicks off with Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon in the ring. Foley brings out the entire Raw roster. They stand at the top of the ramp. Stephanie insults Roman Reigns for costing the Raw brand the World Heavyweight Championship. Foley says the show will feature two Fatal-4-Way matches. The winners face each other in singles competition for the main event. The winner of that match, faces Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for the brand new championship title, the WWE Universal Championship. Oh brother. Didn’t think they would introduce a new title so soon. And didn’t expect it to sound this terrible. Mick lines up all the competitors for both matches. Stephanie asks Charlotte to step forward. Foley says Charlotte last her match last night and she has to defend her title tonight against none other than against Sasha Banks. The roster returns to the back and we have our first commercial break.
First Fatal-4-Way on after the break. Cesaro, Rusev, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor! Holy shit we are about to see a great match. It’s a little crappy that Balor’s first match has to be with three other guys. All hell breaks loose as soon as the bell rings. Rusev and Owens take turns suplexing Balor. Then they double suplex Cesaro off the apron and into the ring. Cesaro uppercuts all three men in the corners. Belor hits a 1916 on Cesaro, cover, but kick out at two. Owens hits a popup powerbomb on Balor, cover, but Cesaro breaks it up. Cesaro sets up to swing Owens, but Rusev kicks them both. He stomps Owens in the back and locks in the Accolade. Cesaro grabs Rusev and suplexes him. Owens rolls out of the ring. Cesaro cover, but Rusev kicks out at two. He attempts a Sharpshooter on Rusev, but it’s reversed into an Accolade. Cesaro rolls back into a cover, two count and they break apart. Swing on Rusev by Cesaro, locks in the Sharpshooter. Before Rusev can tap, Owens kicks Cesaro in the face. Slingblade by Balor on Owens, then he hits the foot stomp finisher that I can’t spell on Rusev, covers him and moves on to the main event.
Long string of commercials. When we finally come back, Nia Jax has her debut. She takes on some jobber named Brit Baker. Match is over in about two minutes. So much for a debut. That was a waste of time. Another break. After, the second Fatal-4-Way is up. Chris Jericho, Sheamus, Sami Zayn, and Roman Reigns. Slow start to this one. Too much Jericho for my taste. Every time Reigns makes a move the crowd eats him alive. Nothing but boos for him. Sami Zayn really shines throughout, clearly the fan favorite. Reigns runs the table for a few minutes. Sami hits him with a Blue Thunderbomb. Near fall. Y2J locks in the Walls of Jericho on Sami. Sheamus kicks him off, covers Jericho but only gets a two count as Sami breaks it up. Reigns pulls off about ten thousand Superman Punches on every opponent then Spears Jericho for the cover. Get out of my face with this pile of crap match. Why does WWE keep pushing a guy that nobody wants?
The New Day comes out. Booty-O’s cereal is now a real thing and you can pre-order it from FYE. New Day brings someone out of the crowd to be an honorary member of their group. The Club attacks out of no where and hit the Magic Killer on Big E. Later, Neville returns from injury to take on Curtis Axel. Red Arrow for the pinfall. Commentary does a fantastic job of absolutely burying Curtis Axel for no reason. Dick move. Neville looks hesitant, but he’ll get back into the swing of things once he shakes the ring rust.
Sasha Banks vs Charlotte for the women’s championship after the break. This match is solid, if not a little too slow. Dana Brooke gets involved, as per usual. Outside the ring, Charlotte throws Sasha into the barricade. Dana goes to hit Sasha with the title belt, but the ref sees and ejects her to the back. This one gets a lot of time, as it should. A year ago, WWE would have given this four minutes with a crap finish. Big moonsault off the top rope outside the ring by Charlotte. She hits Natural Selection in the ring, but Sasha manages to reach the bottom rope. Hanging Figure Four off the apron and Sasha’s left leg is hurt. Charlotte tries again and Sasha reverses it into a Bank Statement submission. Charlotte gets her foot on the rope to break it up. Back Stabber into a Bank Statement, Charlotte taps. Your winner…and NEW…WWE Women’s Champion! After the match, crowd starts a “You Deserve It!” chant as Sasha cries. Byron Saxton interviews her and she says this is the era of women’s wrestling. Excellent finishing moments for the match, right lady won, great segment.
Braun Strowman comes down. There’s a smushed face jobber in the ring. Strowman has a weird entrance song and an even weirder hair cut. Total squash match. Strowman wins, easily. Not much substance to this segment. Enzo and Big Cass come out. They are just getting started when they are interrupted by The Shining Stars. R-Truth wanders into the ring, distracts Shining Stars and Cass rolls them p for the pinfall. Weird segment. The last twenty or so minutes hasn’t been very good.
Main event time with Roman Reigns taking on Finn Balor. Match starts with Reigns throwing him around the ring. Balor dropkicks Reigns outside the ring into the barricade and we go to our first commercial break. Decent action throughout, but they are selling Reigns as a little too much of a monster. Balor is a seasoned vet and shouldn’t be walked over like this. He does have several big time moves and he of course carries his own. The real crime here would be having Reigns win this match. Superman Punch on Balor late in the match and he barely kicks out. Dropkick and Balor climbs the top rope to stomp on Reigns. Cover and a three count! Wow! WWE did something right! Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. “I smell money!” – Vince
I can’t rate this Raw too high. It had some really good spots, but also a couple of head-scratching segments. But overall, it was watchable. I didn’t get bored, but WWE definitely needs to build on this and make their product soar between now and SummerSlam. I can give this a solid B+ though. Two huge thumbs up for the Sasha and Balor wins. What did you all think? Let us know in the comments below. See you all tomorrow for Smackdown Live.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Last night was the official kick off party for the first live Smackdown episode, during which the entire WWE landscape was upended and changed forever. Who went where? We discuss below each draft pick and how they fit in the picture going forward.
Seth Rollins got the #1 Draft pick slot, headed over to Monday Night Raw. This one seems obvious. He is quite definitely the future and deserves to be the main guy at Raw. A+ pick.
Dean Ambrose went second, headed to Smackdown. Another obvious choice. They can’t have both Ambrose and Rollins on the same show. Not such a great idea to send the World Heavyweight Championship over to Smackdown, and for that reason we have to give this pick a B+.
Charlotte was the first female wrestler selected and she goes to Monday Night Raw. Her reign as champion has gone on a little too long and she needs to drop the title soon. Because of that, I for one do not care where she goes. I’m giving this pick a C. Not because it’s terrible but because C is right in the middle and neutral is how I feel about Charlotte.
AJ Styles to Smackdown, in a move that could really help propel the “B+ show” into prominence. Styles is a superstar and wherever he goes, viewers will tune in to see him. Although, on the flip side he is almost too good for Smackdown. This pick deserves an A-.
Finn Balor to Raw. This one worries me because we all know how great Balor is. And we all know how shitty Vince is with character gimmicks. I almost wish Balor had gone to Smackdown to put a little bit of a buffer between him and Vince’s main creative team. But Balor deserves Raw. He deserves a top spot. B+ for the overall decision to draft him to Raw and a C- for drafting him a week before a crap pay-per-view on a Tuesday night. Before you get up in arms and send me hate mail, these are just my opinions and the grades are in no way a reflection of the athletes themselves.
Roman Reigns to Raw. I hate this pick. I understand it, but I hate it. Roman Reigns should not be a top tier guy. He should never have been. But it is what it is. I wish he would get back to NXT for development because his ringwork is stale and his mic work is awful. As it is, he’s going to Raw and I give that my lowest grade so far of a D+.
John Cena to Smackdown. The only grade I can give this is an A+ because it means that the flagship show will not feature Cena. Although, one could make the argument to downgrade to an A- because Cena went to the show that has the world title, which is stressful for people that hate Cena any where near the WHC.
Brock Lesnar to Raw. I’m not sure if I want to give this an A+ or a B+. On one hand, Lesnar deserves to be on Raw. He is a heavyweight powerhouse. But on the other, Smackdown could really use him to infuse some badassery into it. Yes, I just used the word badassery. Let’s settle with an A for now until we see when and if this part-timer comes back.
Randy Orton to Smackdown. My initial grade for this is a C+. Only because it seems like a setup to shove Lesnar and Orton down our throats for the next month prior SummerSlam. Also, Cena was drafted to Smackdown and we really don’t need anymore matches between these two. However, I am willing to bump the grade up to a B+ because AJ Styles versus Randy Orton is a dream match to me. And I truly believe Orton taking on Baron Corbin could be some sort of beautiful hoss match, charged with ego and dripping with arrogance.
The New Day to Raw. I like this one because they split The Wyatt Family up tonight, which means New Day will probably retain their titles this weekend and that means the tag division will be strong on Raw. Not splitting up New Day was a wise decision. Giving this draft a solid A.
Sami Zayn to Raw. Automatic A+. Zayn is right where he needs to be, and hopefully he will get a push now.
Bray Wyatt to Smackdown. This one is a little bothersome to me. Wyatt has all the tools to be a behemoth superstar. But WWE has creatively dropped the ball on him continuously, as well as making odd booking choices for his match outcomes. If his most recent track record the past year is anything to go off of, sending him to Smackdown cannot be a good sign. D+ for this draft pick. I will admit if I am wrong. Maybe the point of this is to bring him back to life and have him stand alone for a push. I hope that’s the case.
Sasha Banks to Raw. This is a no brainer. Solid gold A. And you can take that to the bank.
Becky Lynch to Smackdown. I’m alright with this selection. It’s apparent that she isn’t getting a title push, and moving to Smackdown gives her a chance to teach the lower card gals and help elevate them in some great matches. She’s likable by the fans and she could help boost the women’s division over in Smackdown. A- for this one, with the one drawback being that she very well could be buried in Smackdown obscurity.
Chris Jericho is picked up by Raw. Now, I am biased on this one because I hate old man Fozzy-bear. Jericho over the past year has had way too many pushes. He has main evented tons of Raw episodes, won a large handful of pay-per-view matches, and even went over at WreslteMania this year. It’s time for these older guys to stop being in the spotlight. I give this draft pick an F. Send Jericho to Smackdown. Better yet, send him home. He should not have been drafted to Raw and certainly shouldn’t have gone this high up in the picks.
Rusev and Lana to Raw. Another no brainer. Rusev looks like a champion. Lana looks like a million bucks. Why wouldn’t you want these two easy-on-the-eyes roster members on your highest rated show? A+
The Miz and Maryse go to Smackdown. Giving this one a C-. I am over The Miz. And I am definitely over The Miz being Intercontinental Championship. And Maryse does nothing, so why was she included in this draft? The only reason this got a C- and not a D- is because he went to Smackdown and not Raw. Keep the title off of Miz, and keep the Miz off of Raw.
Kevin Owens to Raw equals A++. Owens and Zayn are on the same show. That’s money all day. Raw being the prominent show means that Owens gets to be in the spotlight where he belongs. Good stuff, here.
Baron Corbin to Smackdown is a weird thing. But, with the other guys being drafted there, it could spell good things for the Lone Wolf. If a couple of superstars take them under their wing, it could make Corbin a better worker and smoother on the mic. A- for this, in my opinion. The worry here is the big man being jobbed out and lost in the shuffle.
Enzo and Cass to Raw. Again, no brainer. A+. Keep the tag division strong.
Gallows and Anderson to Raw. Initially this looks like a B- at best. However, it was announced that Finn Balor will be coming to raw. I will bump this up to an A- as I salivate at the thought of mainstream Bulletclub action as Balor takes over the duo and forms a new stable.
American Alpha to Smackdown is a D- for me. These guys deserve to be at the top. If they are getting the callup they deserve Monday Night Raw. That’s it, period. Nothing else is even acceptable. I am very angry about this draft pick. It’s all kinds of wrong, and I cringe at American Alpha having to take on The Usos.
Big Show to Raw. Meh. Giving this one my second F of the draft. Big Show is old as time. He is overused in obscure segments, flip-flopping back and forth between heel and face. I’d rather see him taking a smaller role on Smackdown then wasting television time on Raw. I would have swapped him for Baron Corbin in a heartbeat.
Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown; this one is both hot and cold. On the one hand, this could be a new, fresh start for The Showoff. He is really talented and could benefit from a reboot. On the other hand, I get the sense that the potential to bury him is there and that worries me. Ziggler is a hell of a wrestler and I hope he doesn’t get hidden away on Tuesday nights. Giving this one a straight down the middle C.
Nia Jax from NXT up to Raw. Really? Over Bayley? What a strange call-up, not only for Jax probably not being ready for this, but also the fact they sent her to Raw. D- draft. Keep in mind, the grades are solely on the draft decisions and nothing more.
Neville to Raw is a good choice. Once he returns from injury, he can carry any match and will be a big addition to the cruiserweight division. Giving this one an A+.
Natalya was drafted to Smackdown. I don’t immediately hate this, but it does seem like more betrayal on her family name. She has never gotten a real title push and has never even won the women’s or diva’s belts. She is talented and deserves more than what WWE does with her. I’d prefer her to be on Raw, so this gets a B- from me.
Cesaro to Raw. This is a really solid choice and is hopefully a sign of good things to come for the Swiss Superman. Easy A. Shame on WWE for drafting him so far down on the list. He should have been top ten material.
Alberto Del Rio to Smackdown makes me sad. He hasn’t been properly utilized in WWE for a long time. He is one of the most talented guys on the roster. He seemed annoyed on the WWE Network being interviewed after the draft. I am disappointed right along with him. C-
Sheamus to Raw. I think this one would get a D+ either way. There’s really no place for Sheamus right now, and I really just don’t care.
Golden Truth to Raw. See above. D+ for R-Truth and Goldust.
The Usos to Smackdown. This annoys me because a more interesting angle would have been to split these two up. One to each show and we get to see them stand alone. C-
Titus O’Neal to Raw. Now all he needs is some sort of title. B+ for my money. Would have given an A but Vince has no idea what to do with big, black Adonises.
Kane to Smackdown. I was surprised for this decision. Kane is by and far better than Big Show currently. They should have been swapped. However, Kane will make a home for himself anywhere he goes. And it will be fun to see a little tension between him and Daniel Bryan. A- for this one.
Paige to Raw. She needs to be out of the top tier of the women’s division. She should have gone to Smackdown. C grading for this draft pick.
Darren Young to Raw. I don’t think he’s ready, for either a Raw spot or a title shot against The Miz. D- and that’s being generous.
Kalisto to Smackdown. D+ because this one just doesn’t hold enough weight for me to care one way or another.
Sin Cara to Raw. Sin Cara falls into the same camp as his former partner Kalisto. Although, he might see a big career booster once cruiserweight gets going. For now, a reluctant C+.
Naomi to Smackdown. D+ because she’s almost obscure enough to just get released from the company.
Jack Swagger to Raw. I like it. He’s a worker, he’s big, and the fans dig him. A- decision.
The Ascension to Smackdown. I am giving this an F because Ascension should have never come up from NXT in the first place. They aren’t main roster material and they have been nothing but the job-squad ever since they came up.
The Dudley Boyz to Raw. C- for this decision. They should be no higher than Smackdown.
Zack Ryder to Smackdown. What the heck, I’ll get on board with WWE’s decision to suddenly push the guy. Give this draft decision an A-.
Summer Rae to Raw. Do I like this? I don’t know. Haven’t really seen her as of late. It depends in what capacity she joins the Raw Roster. We’ll give this an apprehensive C.
Apollo Crews to Smackdown. This one irritated me. I really wanted to see him get a slight push and be well received by the fans. Seems like Smackdown isn’t the place for that. B- for this, and hopefully Crews can keep the smile on his face.
Mark Henry to Raw was another baffling decision. Henry, Kane, Big Show, and Jericho should have all been sent to Smackdown to be used sparingly. That being said, I like Henry. And if we actually get to see him running some matches, this could be a B pick.
Alexa Bliss to Smackdown was a bit of a shocker. But this is well deserved. She has really earned her place in NXT lately. I think she’s ready, so let’s give her a chance. I’m rolling with this one. Even A.
Braun Strowman to Raw. I am giving this a D grading because Strowman only made it to Raw because Vince McMahon loves giants. Nothing more. His skill level is not Raw quality.
Breezango to Smackdown. I wish they had split the pair up. Tyler Breeze is talented, but them going to Smackdown as a tag team is dismal. Especially if they go against American Alpha. The skill just is not there. C- is my vote here.
Bo Dallas to Raw. Giving yet another F. I dislike this guy and having him on Raw is a waste of all our time.
Eva Marie to Smackdown. What grade is lower than an F? The test score is so low I may just not grade the test and ask the dean to kick her out of school on an expulsion. She is one of the worst female wrestlers I have ever seen and she should stay off any WWE programming.
Shining Stars to Raw. These guys haven’t done anything at all to warrant being taken to Raw. D- for me.
The Vaudevillians to Smackdown. Finally a team that can go against American Alpha. I like the decision. A-
Alicia Fox to Raw. Meaningless roster pick that just took up a spot that could have been better suited for someone with way more talent. D-
Erick Rowan to Smackdown. I’m okay with this. He’s definitely a B+ player and belongs on the B+ show. In fact, that’s the grade we’ll give this decision.
Dana Brooke to Raw. I think her future could be bright, once she breaks away from Charlotte. Good choice and the right place for her. She needs to go solo though. A-
Mojo Rawley to Smackdown. Strange callup, but if he joins Ryder and the Hype Bros become a main roster tag team, this is a really good thing. I have no complaints about this so let’s hit it with a decent A-.
Curtis Axel to Raw. Ugh. Stay off my television. No star power, and what has he done for us lately? A whole lot of nothing. Heath Slater is much better liked by the fans than Curtis Axel. I didn’t like this weird decision. D+
Carmella to Smackdown is head-scratching. She floundered a bit in NXT after Enzo and Cass left. It would make sense to bring her up and pair her back with them. Now she has to move up solo on a bigger stage and it could spell disaster for her. Not a fan of this draft pick. I’m happy for her, but she should be with her boys. C-
A couple of interesting take away’s from this draft:
- The split up of The Club. While many would view this as a negative for Gallows and Anderson, lest we forget that Finn Balor is a big member of the global Bulletclub, what he calls the Balorclub in NXT. With him and The Club being drafted to Raw, that can only mean good things. Styles gets to go be a badass solo competitor and stand on his own. And Balor can start building a new stable.
- No mention of The Undertaker, which isn’t necessarily an oversight. His status is year to year and this whole brand split might fall apart before WrestleMania next year.
- AJ Styles is solo now and is on the brand with the world title. That just made things all sorts of interesting.
- Nobody drafted Heath Slater. He got a funny segment where he was left sitting in the dark, but it is pretty shitty to not include him. He is the best guy in the Social Outcasts group. The fact that Bo Dallas got drafted and he didn’t is garbage.
- We still don’t know who Sasha Banks will have as a tag partner at Battleground, which potentially could mean we may see a few more drafts next week, including but not limited to Bayley from NXT.
- Three names surprisingly left out of the draft were Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and Eric Young. This would have been a perfect time to transition them up. They are veterans and shouldn’t hang around NXT too long.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
This is it, folks. For better or worse, Smackdown is going live. There’s no turning back. Strap in, we could be in for a bumpy ride. The show kicks off with Daniel Bryan getting a monstrous YES! chant. Stephanie McMahon, Shane, and Mick Foley are all at the top of the ramp with Bryan. Stephanie makes her first pick and she chooses Seth Rollins. Dean Ambrose is picked second for Smackdown. Those were the obvious guys, so no real surprise there. Charlotte goes next headed to Raw. Shane and Bryan then choose AJ Styles for Smackdown.
Mick says he is picking an NXT person next. Crowd murmurs. He says Finn Balor’s name. Then John Cena’s music hits. So instead of bringing out Finn Balor, they show his picture and then introduce Cena. Brilliant. Just got called up and Balor is already getting shit on. Why did they burn that at the very start of the show? It would have been a great time to bring him out right at the end and have him ask to be in the draft.
Then AJ Styles comes out with The Club. He is already wearing a Smackdown t-shirt. Enzo Amore and Big Cass come out next. Of course John Cena just had to be the first person out during the new Smackdown premiere. Gallows wrestling Cena with the other guys just standing ringside. Commercial break about thirty seconds into the match. Less than two minutes after we return from commercial Cena hits an Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall. Just the fact they started the new show out with this has turned me off to the whole thing. This is supposed to be a new era. But somehow it feels just like the old one. Literally another commercial. The only good thing to take away from this so far is that Roman Reigns hasn’t been mentioned. Either he is coming out tonight, or his stock has really plummeted after his wellness violation.
Nevermind. We come back from the commercial and first thing Mick Foley does is pick Reigns for Raw. John Cena goes next to Smackdown. Thank god he won’t be on Raw anymore. Notice Cena and his clone, Reigns, went at the same time. Stephanie picks Brock Lesnar for Raw. Daniel Bryan chooses Randy Orton for Smackdown. Stephanie takes The New Day to Monday Night Raw. Rusev and The Miz vs Zack Ryder and Darren Young in a tag match. So far this new Smackdown is total shit. Another crap match. But at least we are less than a half hour in and we are seeing our second match. That’s a plus. Match is too fast and gets a little sloppy. This is a weird match to include Rusev. He doesn’t exactly match up well with the other three guys. Darren Young makes The Miz tap out with a Chicken Wing submission. Nothing at all good from that match, if I’m being honest.
The Wyatt Family comes down after the break, with The New Day already in the ring. Bray Wyatt to take on Xavier Woods. Finally, a good match. Long, drawn out pacing to start with Bray doing some mat work. Only a few minutes and Sister Abigail ends this one. So much for being a good match. This one is almost a squash job for Xavier. I really dislike New Day vs Wyatt Family. It’s all sorts of weird strangeness. Still, three matches in less than 45 minutes. Can’t really complain about that.
Kane in the ring after the break. Kevin Owens comes down. Before he can get to the ring, Sami Zayn attacks him from behind. They scramble into the ring and Kane hits them with a double chokeslams. This is the first segment I’ve liked all night. After, Stephanie picks Sami Zayn for Raw. Shane picks Bray Wyatt. Not The Family, just Bray. Hmm. Mick Foley picks Sasha Banks for Raw. Daniel Bryan picks Becky Lynch and calls her the best female wrestler. That is a huge overstatement. Chris Jericho to Raw. I will be grading all these picks in an article tomorrow. Jericho is definitely getting an F.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke come down to the ring. The boss, Sasha Banks comes down. Two on one handicap match. Charlotte and her lackey take quick control of the match. Charlotte tags in and Charlotte hits Natural Selection for the win. None of these matches are going very long tonight. Disappointing. Mick and Stephanie select Rusev and Lana. The Miz and Maryse go to Smackdown. Kevin Owens to Raw. Baron Corbin to Smackdown. Enzo and Big Cass to Raw. Side note: Mick Foley called himself a “Certified G-M.” Classic comedy gold, and you can’t. Teach. That.
Cesaro versus Chris Jericho in a match next. Y2J has already been drafted. Cesaro has not. That’s how WWE prioritizes their picks. Cesaro goes to work early, knocking Jericho out of the ring and uppercutting him aganst the barricade. Things get back in the ring and it’s a pretty standard match. But Cesaro makes this one watchable. Nothing too much happens though. Chris Jericho wins, once again. The amount of victories this guy has in 2016 is absurd.
We come back from commercial and Becky Lynch is attacking Natalya with refs trying to separate them. The two go at it a little longer before Becky walks out. Stephanie then drafts Gallows and Anderson to Raw. American Alpha to Smackdown. Big Show to Raw. Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown, getting some nice praise from Shane. Nia Jax to Monday Night Raw. After a commercial break, Stephanie takes Neville to Raw. Natalya to Smackdown, flat response from the crowd. Cesaro is finally taken by Mick Foley. Shane takes Alberto Del Rio. Sheamus to Raw. Those are the final televised picks. There will be more later on the Network after the show.
Seth Rollins comes out. Dean Ambrose comes down. Before the announcements are finished, Rollins attacks Ambrose from behind and we go to commercial. Rollins is hyper throughout, selling himself as a man hungry for the title. I’m finally got emotionally invested in something tonight with about thirteen minutes left in the broadcast. This match is a high spot for the night, and is actually better than their Raw match last night. Superplex by Rollins off the top rope, slams Ambrose down, who rolls through it and hits Dirty Deeds for the victory. Shane and Bryan run down to celebrate. They had him a Smackdown t-shirt. Bryan starts a YES! chant for the second time tonight. That’s going to get annoying really fast with him on Smackdown every week. Dean Ambrose heads into the Battleground triple-threat match as WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Overall, for the first live episode of Smackdown this was no different than any other episode. They should have had the lottery draft on Raw and then a bunch of 3-5 star matches with some surprise NXT debuts for Smackdown. Instead, we get a rematch from Raw and a bunch of long conversations at the top of the ramp as the four leaders chose their roster. This event could have been much bigger. No, it should have been much bigger. It was hyped for months and this is the snoozefest you deliver? I’m actually ready for some new TNA this week because WWE just isn’t doing it for me lately. With a pointless pay-per-view coming up, WWE is probably going to be in creative quicksand until SummerSlam. We’ll cover the rest of the draft picks on Twitter and in a full grade article tomorrow.
Tweet of the night goes to none other than #BROKEN Matt Hardy:
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker