Our second Smackdown exclusive PPV will be No Mercy on October 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. The go home episode of Smackdown was absolutely terrible; my husband didn’t hold back in his review of the show, and I struggled to keep my eyes open. Heath Slater and Rhyno’s run in was the best part of the entire two hours, and they didn’t even get to have a match. Even with all this, I feel strangely positive about this PPV. The card for Backlash was pitiful, but the PPV somehow ended up being one of the best WWE has had in months. Let’s take a look at the No Mercy match card and make some predictions.
Curt Hawkins vs TBA – Singles Match
The build towards Hawkins’ television debut has been a play on the Chuck Norris jokes, and has not gone over well with me. He made his in ring return already at a WWE Live event at the beginning of the month, beating Apollo Crews in a singles match in Las Vegas. The last time I saw Hawkins, he was getting squashed by Ryback while teaming with Tyler Reks. He then asked to be released from WWE, went to NXT after a surgery to lose most of his matches, and spent the next couple of years bouncing from company to company. Not surprisingly, I don’t see him as a Chuck Norris level kind of guy after all of that. His opponent is still undetermined at the time of this posting, but I imagine it will be some local jobber. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear “let’s go jobber” chants from the crowd.
F2H Prediction – Curt Hawkins
Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt – Singles Match
After getting destroyed by Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton found himself targeted by the Eater of Worlds. Bray Wyatt has been on the world’s worst losing streak, but still insists that he is a God. On this past Smackdown, Orton locked Wyatt in a storage locker, and Wyatt escaped after talking to some mystery figure just off of camera. Prior to that, they have been involved in equally senseless altercations backstage and in the ring. At one point, Orton looked like he was trying to escape one of Jigsaw’s traps. The whole set up has been ridiculous, and not the positive kind. But who knows; maybe these two will surprise us.
F2H Prediction – Randy Orton
The Miz (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – Intercontinental Championship “Title vs Career” Match
Right now, The Miz is at the top of his game. Since Daniel Bryan can’t compete and fight for his honor after Miz shamed him on Talking Smack, Dolph Ziggler was thrown into the mix. The video package that Miz put together for Ziggler was one of very few highlights on the go home Smackdown. Both men have been underappreciated over the past couple of years, so I’m glad that they have an opportunity now to prove a lot of people wrong. I would like to see Maryse banned from ringside before the match even begins; she tried the hairspray in the face trick one time too many and I don’t care to see her try anything else. That isn’t to say I want to see a fair fight, I simply want to see Miz be tricky all on his own,
F2H Prediction – Dolph Ziggler, via Disqualification; Miz retains the title
Nikki Bella vs Carmella – Singles Match
When Nikki Bella returned to the ring, I fully expected her to get a ridiculous push. Instead, she got her ass handed to her courtesy of the Princess of Staten Island. Carmella was once a hype girl for Enzo Amore and Big Cass when the trio was on NXT together. When her boys were drafted to Raw, she stayed behind and was able to establish herself as a singles competitor before being Smackdown’s final draft pick. She started out as her usual self, but quickly showed us her darker side once she felt that she was being upstaged by Bella. I have been enjoying this new side of Carmella, and I give WWE a lot of credit for not going the predictable route with a big Bella push. Provided they get a decent time slot to compete, this could turn into a really good bout.
F2H Prediction – Carmella
Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs The Usos – Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos turned heel and finally ditched their ridiculous wardrobe. Of course, now they look like gangbangers from a 90s after school special, but I’ll take what I can get. The real stars here are our Tag Team champions; Rhyno, Heath Slater, and all of Heath’s kids. Who could have guessed that Slater would be the top guy after he was completely left out of the draft? His journey to get a contract was a bumpy one and began with a lot of his typical jobbing. Thanks to Rhyno, he scored the tag titles, a contract, and has been creating comedy gold every week. Their success is a likely reason American Alpha was pulled from the title picture; no one is cheering for Alpha when Slater and Rhyno are so strong. I’m a bit worried about this match because you know how much WWE loves The Rock’s relatives, but at least Slater has his contract, his doublewide, and his above ground pool.
F2H Prediction – Heath Slater & Rhyno
Becky Lynch (c) vs Alexa Bliss –Women’s Championship Match
You can tell that Becky Lynch is a proud champion; she is incredibly excited to have won the title and is always eager to defend it. Alexa Bliss is as evil as she is small and earned the right to fight for Lynch’s title after beating out the other women on Smackdown’s roster (excluding Eva Marie, whose suspension is over, but she is still out of action). Bliss is quickly becoming one of my favorite female wrestlers, and is definitely my favorite on Smackdown. Nothing against Lynch, but I believe Bliss is much better in promos and has a better handle on her character. Coming off a female title match as the main event of Monday Night Raw, I hope these two really bring it tonight and try to upstage Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
F2H Prediction – Alexa Bliss
AJ Styles (c) vs Dean Ambrose vs John Cena – Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Hey, guys! John Cena is in the title picture again! At least it took him a little while to get there this time around. I keep forgetting that Styles is our Smackdown World champion, and that’s through no fault of his own. For some reason, this title fight has failed to hold my interest since the brand split. Styles has gotten one hell of a push to the top ever since his debut at the Royal Rumble. In less than a year, he dethroned Cena as “the face that runs the place,” plus won the top title in his brand. Dean Ambrose was an odd choice for champion; I was happy he won, but I’m also secretly happy he doesn’t hold the gold anymore. We all know that Cena is going to get at least one more title run. The question is, does it happen at just any PPV or is it saved for WrestleMania?
F2H Prediction – AJ Styles
The preshow will begin at 7pm EST on the WWE Network, with the main event beginning at 8pm EST. There are no preshow matches set at the time of this posting, but we suspect that Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin will be a last minute addition. Follow us on Twitter (FaceToHeel, OhhhTweener, MrNotWell) as we live tweet the event and provide feedback after the show concludes.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Tonight’s broadcast is LIVE, and I’m excited. Aaron Haddad, also known as WWE’s Damien Sandow, has signed with TNA and is said to be debuting tonight, and I can’t wait to see him. Tonight, James Storm and Bobby Lashley will face off in Storm’s first shot at the World Heavyweight title in five years. Ethan Carter III kicks off our night; he won the Bound for Glory playoffs, securing himself a spot in the main event. He is a fantastic heel, a perfect babyface; he wins at everything he does. The crowd gives him a “next world champ” chant as he addresses his accomplishments in TNA. He is on a quest to be the best, to borrow his words.
Of course, Bobby Lashley comes out to give his two cents. Lashley tells EC3 that Bound for Glory is months away, and he is NOT the best; Lashley is the best because of the two titles he currently holds. EC3 acknowledges Lashley’s accomplishments and successes. As Lashley begins at rant about how great he is, James Storm interrupts. wondering why we’re discussing Bound for Glory when we’re broadcasting live and it is him that has a match tonight for the title. Good promo, but the mic issues put a damper on things. Storm baits Lashley, who comes down the ramp, and the two begin fighting. As they go backstage, Mike Bennett and Moose appear and start pummeling EC3. Thankfully, Eddie Edwards comes to the rescue, and the four men fight over the two discarded titles in the middle of the ring. Edwards calls for a ref, moving their tag match to right now.
The bell rings before anyone is in the ring, and we cut to commercial. After the break, EC3 and Bennett are in the ring. EC3 quickly isolates Bennett in his corner before tagging Edwards in. Edwards and EC3 (or EddiEc3, as Edwards called them) are working perfectly together. Bennett is finally able to crawl to Moose, who wastes time getting the crowd chanting his name, allowing Edwards to gain the upper hand. Moose hits a killer drop kick to throw Edwards from the ring. Edwards is able to hit Moose with a DDT, then tag in EC3. He mocks Moose’s chant, then tells him to suck it before delivering clotheslines and taking the big man down. Bennett tries to assist, but EC3 throws him on top of Moose. EC3 and Edwards do the wolves howl and dive from the ring to knock their opponents out. Edwards hits a hurricanrana from the top rope, but Bennett breaks up the pin. This is a fantastic match! Moose pins Edwards for the win, but Bennett sneaks in a tag and pins Edwards, officially winning the match. Moose looks thrown off, but a win is a win.
Right before the break, a black and white screen says “he is doing it his way,” and then music breaks through. Hallelujah! I just started clapping and cheering in my living room! WWE made a huge mistake letting this talent go. When we come back, the Hallelujah plays before breaking into a different beat with flashing lights. Aron Rex, formerly known as Damien Sandow, comes out looking happy, healthy, and appreciative of the welcome from TNA! He says “Impact Wrestling has done what too many people were scared to do; give me a microphone on live TV!” He takes a shot at Ryback’s “glass ceilings” comment, takes a very clear shot at WWE, then says that this is all about the fans and for the fans. He says he’s been labeled “too entertaining” to get a world title shot, but no matter what any majority shareholder or authority figure believes, anyone in the ring directly works for the fans. If you haven’t watched this, stop reading right now and look this promo up because it is genius. The crowd starts chanting “you’re a genius!” What a welcome for Aron Rex!
Backstage, Gail Kim is speaking to Maria Kanellis about a match tonight, when Marti Bell comes out of nowhere to attack her. Their match tonight will be no disqualification. Edwards moves to confront Bennett and Moose about the way they ruin all his opportunities, setting up a match between Edwards and Moose for next week. But now, our Knockouts match between Bell and Kim. Before Kim can even get to the ring, Bell is on the attack. Maria and Allie come to the ring, and Allie starts squeaking and abusing my ear drums. The bell finally rings as Bell straddles Kim and lands punch after punch. Bell hits a side Russian leg sweep to take Kim down before kicking her in the back over and over. With Allie’s interference and no disqualifications, this match is stacked against Kim. Kim is able to hit a couple of clotheslines and tries for a pin. Maria hops on the apron to knock Kim from the top rope before ordering Allie to get in the ring. Even three against one, Kim is able to pick up the win, but is immediately attacked by Bell. Thankfully, Jade runs out to even the numbers and save Kim. She then turns her attention to Allie, knocking the screechy woman down. Maria, angry about the outcome, makes a match for next week; Jade versus Gail Kim.
Outside a watering hole, Matt Hardy visits his Obsolete Mule, accompanied by his drone. King Maxel has nearly been kidnapped! The drone will protect King Maxel and Rebecca with his life! The Mule and Matt Hardy are on their way to the Zone of Impact now. I’ll be honest; it is exhausting to type the way he talks. I can’t imagine how he does this week after week.
Anyway, back in the ring we go. Broken Matt Hardy says something, but I can’t recall because I’m laughing so hard at the way he just said “condition.” Con-dee-shion? It was amazing. He address Decay and talks about his “pre-me-neeesion” that Decay tried to kidnap Maxel. Matt promises to take the tag titles from Decay with the help of “Ob-So-LEEEET” Brother Nero. How is Jeff Hardy keeping a straight face??? Jeff asks Matt why he ate a guy’s face last week, and Matt says it’s because ants aren’t allowed to touch Gods. Matt says Jeff owes him because of his broken leg last year. Jeff wants the Hardys to go back to how they were, but Matt says the Hardys are OVAH! The Tribunal interrupts, and Al Snow mocks Matt and calls Jeff a loser. Snow says that if Matt wants the titles, he needs to do what he did and go to France to find real competitors. Baron Dax and Basile Baraka enter the ring to compete in a “tag” match against Matt and Jeff, only I’m pretty sure it’ll be Jeff against the two alone. Just as the match starts, we break for commercial.
As we return, Al Snow is kicking Jeff, who lays outside of the ring. Jeff tries to tag in Matt, but he refuses. Outside the ring, Matt gets in a fan’s face and says DELETE DELETE DELETE, causing the fan to rip up his “Jeff Hardy Is Not Obsolete” sign and start chanting DELETE! He then bites Al Snow. Broken Matt Hardy is fantastic. Matt takes off his boot and uses it to beat Dax in the head. In the ring, Jeff hits Twist of Fate to pin Baraka for the win! Jeff then takes out his anger on poor Dax and Baraka, knocking them out over and over before then taking down Snow. Matt is laughing as Jeff goes for the tables. Jeff throws Snow from the ring, rolls him onto a table, then dives onto Snow, breaking the table beneath them. Jeff says “the only person who punishes me is me” before putting himself through a table. Glorious. Maniacal laughter from both brothers now. What am I watching??!? Jeff starts yelling BROTHER NERO! I AM BROTHER NERO!
Rosemary tells us that no one is ever in control with Decay, and Bram learned that the hard way. Abyss says that Decay is what makes him beautiful. Bram’s destruction was a lesson to all the other fools who dare to challenge Decay. Back in the ring, Drew Galloway walks out looking all business. Galloway addresses the fact that EC3 has cost him his shot at the title during the Bound for Glory playoffs three different times. He says one time is an accident, but three times? EC3 is a snake in the grass and is green with envy, jealous of Galloway and trying to sabotage his career. He proposes a match; EC3 versus Galloway for the main event of Bound for Glory.
Time for our main event; James Storm versus Bobby Lashley. The winner will walk away with all three titles; World Heavyweight, King of the Mountain, and X Division. James Storm is announced as the challenger, and Lashley takes that as his cue to attack Storm. The bell is rung and the match is officially on. Storm quickly turns the match in his favor, attacking Lashley outside of the ring and taking the big man to his knees. Lashley tries to counter with a kick, but Storm hits a clothesline. Lashley grabs something off the announcer’s table to use as a weapon, but Storm doesn’t allow it. After the break, Lashley is in control of this match; Storm is down on the mat and hurting. Lashley delivers a powerful bodyslam, and Storm looks like he is in trouble. He hits Storm with a vertical suplex, then tries for the spear but Storm dodges and knocks him down. Storm lands a kick to the back of the head, but Lashley hits a crossbody and goes for a pin. Lashley finally hits Storm with the spear and nearly wins the match, but Storm is out at the last possible moment. Storm hits TWO last calls, but it still isn’t enough to get Lashley down for the three count. Lashley hits a final spear and pins Storm for the win! Lashley now has THREE titles. Count them!
As Lashley celebrates, Aron Rex walks out to quietly watch out champion. His intentions are clear and I can’t wait to see what he has in store. Rex is an incredible addition to Impact Wrestling, and I guarantee Vince McMahon is kicking himself for the decision to release him. Next week is the Ascension to Hell, where tag teams will compete for a title shot opportunity. Tonight was a fantastic night of wrestling. Please leave your thoughts below, and follow us on Twitter at facetoheel for more coverage. See you all next week!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
On Monday Night Raw this week, a United States Championship #1 Contender Battle Royal took place. Prior to a commercial break, a giant photo was shown of the entire field participating in the match. The Big Guy, Ryback, was among them. The match came and went, but Ryback was no where to be seen. Shortly before Raw went off air, reports hit social media that Ryback was asked to go home and stay off television until a deal could be reached with his contract.
Immediately we all thought he was bitching about his paycheck. Turns out, it went much deeper than that. Earlier today, Ryback, real name Ryan Reeves, put a post up on his Tumblr account about the entire incident. You can read the full text HERE but the gist of his gripes with WWE is that the lowcard losers on the roster ultimately make less over their career than the guys who win more matches. He makes several valid arguments and he’s not wrong on his view points. However, it’s hard to get behind him when we all have a pretty good idea what these guys make in a year.
Even the so-called “jobbers” make more than probably 99% of their viewing audience. They get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to appear on TV every week, be characters in video games, and sell their faces and catchphrases on t-shirts. Granted, professional wrestlers make significantly less than other sports athletes. And unless your name is Brock Lesnar, you aren’t getting a whole lot of big name endorsements. Even so, they are considered well-paid entertainers. According to Total Sportek analysis, even a guy like Eric Rowan makes $80,145. That’s a sum that even a lot of people with college degrees don’t get.
Ryback is justified in his comments, albeit going about trying to create change in a backwards way. WWE doesn’t have unions (to my knowledge no wrestling promotion does) and signed wrestlers just have to eat shit and take their contract, quit and go elsewhere, or become an undeniable cash cow that has leverage to negotiate a mega-contract. Wrestlers are considered “independent contractors” and most promoters consider that a carte-blanche to pay out whatever they deem appropriate.
At the end of the day, nobody sympathizes with a professional athlete demanding more money. Especially a guy like Ryback who was just in a title match at the last two pay-per-views. Whether the NFL, MLB, NBA, or WWE, they are all outrageously overpaid, with the majority making more than the President. Every guy coming up wants a bigger contract than the guy he replaced. So it has been, so it will probably always be. A greedy self-image for the big stars in a sport leaves little left but crumbs for the lower guys. And that’s the real issue here. Not that they all get paid too much (they do) or that they think they are entitled to more (they aren’t) but that equivalent athletes on the same playing field aren’t being treated in an equal way. If the same two guys wrestle ten times, and the same wrestler wins each match in a predetermined outcome, shouldn’t both wrestlers get paid the same?
It makes sense, but there are better ways to promoting change. Storming off, or quitting the company, does very little to alleviate problems. Just ask CM Punk. According to Ryback, this has been an ongoing issue since he was working the Intercontinental Championship. What Ryback should really do is get the locker room together and corner the chairman. Vince McMahon isn’t going to respond to someone bailing on him. Change comes when someone stands up and fights the good fight, and Ryback can’t do that from home on his couch. We’re not saying anything new here. Anybody who has ever had qualms about wrestling for McMahon has heard this song and dance before. Nobody seems to learn from other superstars mistakes. Frustration leads to anger which leads to hate, and that hatred ultimately sends them all packing. Change doesn’t come, and then we’re left right back where we started from.
Questioning the companies pay structure while at the same time asking for a bump in salary, makes Ryback come across as a little self-centered. He cushioned his rant by declaring he wanted to look out for the losers, but his actions point more towards a selfishness that has an unquenchable appetite. This article is coming from a guy who’s avatar picture is him holding a CM Punk sign while wearing a Triple H t-shirt. So trust me, I know all about inflated ego.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
WWE’s post-mania PPV is tonight, May 1st, in Rosemont, IL, and I’m enjoying a glass of wine and juicy steak while I get excited about the line up for the evening. We have Renee Young, Corey Graves, Booker T, and Jerry Lawler on the preshow, which makes me wonder if Lawler will be replaced by someone else on the main event commentary.
Our preshow kickoff starts with Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler. Moving this to the kickoff seems to be a poor choice, especially considering the huge pops both men received as they walked out to the arena. Corbin comes out strong and dominant, but Ziggler’s energy is high and he manages to eventually get Corbin to a knee with a sleeper hold. The action moves outside of the ring, where Corbin dominates and throws Ziggler into the steel post. As Corbin is arguing with the ref and maintaining dominance over a comatose Ziggler, Dolph suddenly comes back to life and scores a victory with a quick roll up. Normally, I don’t like these type of endings, but this was a shocker and was also Corbin’s first lost on the main roster. No doubt we will see Corbin back for revenge later on.
Next up we have a great video package for the Zayn vs Owens match that leads into a Q&A with Sami Zayn. It’s clear that if you want your tweet to be on TV, you have to have a very WWE-themed twitter handle and ask a very easy question. Zayn is doing great answering the questions, but the interviewer is pretty flat.
Up now, we have the US Title Match between reigning champion Kalisto and challenger Ryback. Once again, these two are competing on the preshow kickoff. As a diehard Ryback fan, I’m annoyed. Ryback comes out to some loud boos, which get louder when he starts to mock CM Punk’s entrance. It was brilliant. Push Ryback forever. Ryback comes out strong and dominant, ignoring the taunts from the crowd as he throws Kalisto around the ring. Kalisto manages to get the Big Guy to the floor outside of the ring, but Ryback gets control of the match back right before we go to a commercial. He’s the perfect heel, and I just noticed that his belt says “The Preshow Stopper.” Ryback is gold. Ryback goes up to the top rope, but Kalisto ruins it with a well timed kick. Ryback gets control back quick and goes back to the top rope, but misses wildly, allowing Kalisto to regain control and pick up the win. I am very unhappy.
Moving on to the main show, we start things off with The New Day, who are out to watch the Tag Team match to see who qualifies for a shot at their titles. I hated New Day when they debuted and now I can’t get enough. As New Day settle in with some snacks, Enzo and Cass come out to the arena. Enzo drops his mic and makes a show of running around to retrieve it as my husband and I yell along to his intro. The Vaudevillains are heavily booed; there is no question who the favorites are in this match. Enzo and Gotch start things off with a very acrobatic display, and I just noticed the poop emoji on Enzo’s ass, which is the greatest accessory of the night so far. Enzo gets taken down after an ugly hit to the head, and the ref throws up an X, signaling the ringside doctor. A stretcher is brought out and the match is called, which is quite possibly the worst thing that could have happened. My heart goes out to Enzo; I hope he’s all right. But the show must go on…
We move into a video package for the Owens vs Zayn match, and Owens is the first to the ring to a lukewarm response as the crowd tries to move on from Enzo’s injury. These men are now also tasked with getting the crowd back into this event, and I don’t envy them this job. I’m about to go get some vodka to numb the pain while Zayn throws Owens outside the ring and gets aggressive. Owens quickly regains control and throws Zayn into the steel steps as we get an update that Enzo is being taken to a local hospital and is able to talk and move his arms. Owens seems pretty cocky at this point, nearly getting a pinfall victory and talking trash to the announce team. We’re getting a lot of near falls in this high energy match; it’s incredibly tense. The crowd is definitely back into it now. The action moves to the apron and Zayn is able to throw Owens onto the lip, sending him out of the ring and diving through the bottom rope to take Owens down with a DDT. Owens is able to counter once they return to the ring, using a pop-up powerbomb to win the match. Owens throws Zayn out of the ring and forces Byron Saxton into the ring so he can force an interview and proclaim that he has finally beat Zayn and proved that he is the better man. He has announced his plan to win back “his” IC Title and then invites himself to the commentary table for the title match up next.
The Miz will now defend his title against Cesaro, who returned from injury stronger than ever and with an interesting take on a 007 gimmick. The Miz gets the red carpet treatment as he walks out with wife Maryse, who looks like a circus ringmaster. Cesaro comes out to a strong showing from fans with Cesaro Section signs. The Miz is getting destroyed thus far as his wife screams encouragement and Owens screams insults. Of course, Maryse gets involved to allow Miz to regain control. The most entertaining part of this match so far is Owens on commentary, but it’s difficult to follow Owens vs Zayn. Cesaro is pulled into a submission, but is able to turn it into a suplex and break free. Cesaro pins Miz a couple times for a near fall, but Miz is able to break free. Cesaro tries to get Miz up for the Swing, Miz counters, but Cesaro is still able to get the pin that is broken up when Miz gets his foot on the bottom rope. Out of NOWHERE, Zayn runs out to the ring and attacks Owens! In the ring, Cesaro hits the Swing for a dizzying 20 rotations, and then gets him in a crossface submission. Miz TAPS, but because Zayn and Owens begin fighting on the apron, the ref is distracted and Miz is able to steal the win via quick rollup. Owens is the only one left standing tall at the end of this mess, with the IC Title in hand. The IC Title suddenly means everything.
Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose is up next. Ambrose says everything I secretly think about Jericho, only out loud, and I love it. This feud is a lot like the Jericho vs Punk feud on Jericho’s side as he keeps repeating “I’m the best in the world at what I do.” My husband pointed out that this match could have used a stipulation, and I clouldn’t agree more. Ambrose is best when you give him accessories. A “Y2Jackass” chant starts. Jericho looks tired, and if I’m being honest, even Ambrose seems to be holding back and is less enthusiastic than normal. Jericho locks in the Walls, but Ambrose is able to drag him from the center of the ring over to the ropes to force a break. The two move outside of the ring; Jericho’s face is bleeding and Ambrose is destroying the German announce table. Jericho is able to gently toss Ambrose into the timekeeper area and get back into the ring. This match has definitely picked it up from a slow start. We’re getting a lot of near falls now, and the crowd is hyped up. Ambrose tries for Dirty Deeds but Jericho counters and locks in the Walls again. Ambrose counters and gets the pin but Jericho kicks free. More near falls, and my kid is losing his mind. Ambrose finally hits Dirty Deeds and gets the win. Jericho leaves the ring to go attack paperwork and throw a fit.
Mauro Ranallo conducts a brief interview with AJ Styles backstage before we move on to the Women’s Title Match. It feels so good to say “Women’s” instead of “Divas.” The champion is out first, followed by Natalya and Bret Hart. I hope that Bret and Ric are able to keep to themselves and let both women have an honest one-on-one match. The crowd is behind Natalya and so am I. The Network drops for the first time tonight, which is likely the fault of the storms we’re having in Indiana. Hopefully the weather doesn’t kill this PPV for us, because it’s been a great one so far. A “We Want Sasha” chant breaks out, and I get it; I was hoping The Boss would be champ at this point. Charlotte throws Natalya violently into the ropes and tries to go to the top rope, but is knocked off by Natalya. The action moves to outside the ring; the women get a bit sloppy, but are really holding their own thus far. Natalya is favoring her left leg but isn’t giving up. Charlotte is showboating and delivers a beautiful moonsault off the top rope to pin Natalya, who kicks free. Charlotte locks in a figure four and the match is called even though Natalya doesn’t tap out. In retaliation, the Harts lock Ric and Charlotte into figure fours to come out on top, but the fact remains that Charlotte won the match dishonestly once again.
Vince McMahon comes out to the ring now, strutting confidently as we await his decision on Stephanie and Shane. The crowd responds with a CM PUNK chant, but quiets down as Vince begins talking about the success of Monday Night Raw. Nevermind, they just got even louder with it. We will chant for Punk in Chicago forever. Vince invites Stephanie McMahon to the ring next. The crowd is booing so loud, I can barely hear what she is saying. She proclaims that the Network has hit 1.8 million subscribers as she showers herself with compliments and insults her brother. Shane has had enough and comes out to the ring doing his best White Boy dance. A deafening “Shane-O-Mac” chant rings through the arena, but Steph breaks it up by calling it pandering. Shane shows the crowd headline after headline that shows how great Raw has been since he was able to take charge. He continues to tear down his sister by accusing her of poisoning the company alongside Triple H. The crowd clearly supports Shane, but Steph insists that popularity isn’t what runs a business. Vince announces that he wants his children to either disembowel each other or learn to work together, because they both will be running Raw. What?
We return to the preshow announce team briefly to recap the night’s events thus far. Up next, our main event; reigning champion Roman Reigns vs newcomer AJ Styles. A video package plays to show the build to this championship match and highlights the recent attacks from new signees Gallows and Anderson. The big question of the night is who is going to interfere in this match. We have The Wyatt Family on the Payback poster, and we also have the rumors of Finn Balor’s debut. Excited to see what will happen.
After an update on Enzo’s condition (concussion, all other tests negative), Styles and Reigns enter the ring. Reigns gets booed heavily, and no, Lawler, we’re not booing because we like to do it. A “Roman Sucks” chant rings through the arena as the match starts, followed by a loud “AJ Styles” chant. We’ve never been behind Reigns as champ, and the majority of fans are pulling for Styles to win tonight. A “You Can’t Wrestle” chant follows. I don’t know how much clearer it can be that Reigns is the wrong guy to be the face of this company. Styles forces Reigns out of the ring to get his bearings, and he takes his sweet time getting back into the match. Meanwhile, WWE tweets out an update; Enzo has been discharged from the hospital and is hopefully heading home to rest. His injury has cast a shadow over this PPV, but all the credit goes to the competitors; they have brought their A-Game and kept the crowd from getting down about the injury.
The announce team again discusses Styles’ career, pointing out that he hasn’t “made it” until he earns the WWE title, which he hopes to do tonight. Reigns takes control of the match, showcasing his strength and throwing Styles around like a rag doll. This is a good showing from Reigns so far; he isn’t resorting to fist-cocking (yet). It’s only10:35pm, so a hell of a lot can happen before we crown our champion. Of course, as soon as I type it, Reigns cocks his damn fist. He tries for a Superman punch, but Styles counters with a kick to the head and puts the champ down. Styles is showing his experience and not holding anything back; he has an answer for everything Reigns is throwing at him. Styles is able to lock Reigns in a submission, but Reigns quickly gets to the ropes for the break. Styles jumps off the top rope to deliver a Phenomenal Forearm that crushes Reigns and the announce table. Styles makes it back to the ring and wins the match via count out. What a letdown the title won’t change hands and this was a lazy way to end it. That said, it’s only 10:42pm, and Shane’s music just hit!
Shane restarts the match and declares that there will be no count outs, so the match continues! Styles is looking for a way to put the champ down for good, delivering a 450, but Reigns puts his knees up and goes for a pin. Both men go down after Reigns hits Styles with a low blow and gets disqualified, so Styles is called as the winner via DQ. Again, no title change. My husband called this; Steph’s music hits and she restarts the match with no disqualifications. The match will not end until we have a clear winner! Reigns violently knocks Styles out of the ring and throws him over the barricade and into the crowd. Reigns is all business at this point as he looks to put his challenger down, but Styles is able to counter and throw Reigns into the announce table. Reigns isn’t down for long; he delivers two Superman punches and starts with his showboaty nonsense. As he’s pandering to the crowd, Gallows and Anderson intervene and take Reigns down. Styles is struggling to get to his feet, but he manages to get back up and pin Reigns for the win; unfortunately Reigns is able to get his foot on the rope to stop the count. The Usos run out to the ring to attack Gallows and Anderson to even the odds, and Reigns steps in and throws Styles into the four brawling men outside of the ring. There is so much going on! Reigns jumps out of the ring to land on all 5 men, Styles quickly counters to get Reigns back into the ring so he can get a clean win. Reigns hit a spear and wins with a lazy cover, and the crowd goes mild. Great match, but not my ideal ending.
Overall, this was an amazing PPV. For me, this topped WrestleMania. As Reigns is celebrating, we cut backstage to see the McMahons discussing Shane and Steph’s decisions regarding this main event. We’re also getting previews of what will come on Raw and what the plans will be for Extreme Rules in three weeks. It’s already been decided that Styles will have a rematch with Reigns at Extreme Rules, and I am excited to see what will happen next. For once, I have no complaints about anything that transpired tonight, except for Enzo’s untimely injury. See you all tomorrow night for Raw with Co-GM’s!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
WWE’s Payback PPV will take place tonight in Chicago, IL at the AllState Arena. My husband and I attended Payback in 2014 and had a blast, so if you’re in the area and attending, I am jealous. This was originally scheduled to take place on May 22nd in Newark, NJ, but was rescheduled. It will be the fourth Payback PPV in history. Every title but one is on the line tonight, plus we will find out the future of Shane McMahon and his sister, Stephanie. Let’s take a look at tonight’s matches and make some predictions.
Kalisto (c) vs Ryback – United States Championship Match (Kickoff Show)
For the second PPV in a row, the US Title will be defended on the pre-show kickoff, because the WWE clearly doesn’t care about making this title matter. Kalisto’s title reign is on track to become more useless than Dean Ambrose’s reign, and that’s pretty bad. What is the point of having this title if it’s ignored or shoved to the preshow on a consistent basis? Complaints aside, I’m hoping that these two go full force and give us a match that screams Main Event. I’m also pulling for The Big Guy 100%, which is no surprise.
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho – Singles Match
Jericho has thankfully moved on from bothering AJ Styles and calling him a rookie, and is now wrapped up in Ambrose’s antics. Ambrose shoved Jericho out of the way, replacing the Highlight Reel with the Ambrose Asylum. I thought that Jericho would be taking another break from in-ring action after his feud with Styles ended, but it looks like he’ll be sticking around for a few more months. Jericho may still “have it” if you listen to the fans, but for me, he’s best used in a part time capacity in limited matches. It’s unclear whether or not this match-up will be repeated in the future, but I hope it isn’t.
WINNER: Dean Ambrose
Enzo & Big Cass vs The Vaudevillains – #1 Contender Tag Team Championship Match
I initially thought that the tag titles would be defended tonight, because that would make sense, but instead we’re getting the qualifying match to see who will face The New Day for the titles. I’m disappointed not to see a Tag Title match, but incredibly excited to see Enzo and Cass compete. They are among the most over wrestlers in the company right now, and for good reason. NXT took a hit when it lost these two, but I’m happy they finally got a well-deserved call up to the main roster. I hope that New Day takes over the commentary table for this match the way they did on Smackdown recently.
WINNER: Enzo & Cass
The Miz (c) vs Cesaro – Intercontinental Championship Match
I love that The Miz keeps winning titles in underhanded, obnoxious ways. This time around, he stole the title from Zack Ryder 24 hours after he won it. I’m sadly not a fan of Maryse, Miz’s wife and new valet. She is joining the cast of Total Divas and will be on Raw and Smackdown for the foreseeable future as a way to promote her appearance on the reality series. Cesaro is back from injury with a new James Bond 007 gimmick that wasn’t necessary but not completely terrible either. I’m glad he’s back and still popular, and I’m hoping he wins tonight so he can have a decent run as champ. He’s earned it.
WINNER: The Miz
Charlotte (c) with Ric Flair vs Natalya with Bret Hart – Women’s Championship Match
Fans want Sasha Banks to be champ. I want her to be champ. WWE wants Charlotte though, and they don’t want her without her daddy in tow. Adding Bret Hart to the mix is actually an interesting move. It evens the playing field so we can hopefully finally have an honest match instead of seeing Charlotte’s victories earned by her father instead of by her. My hope is that Ric and Bret entertain each other outside of the ring so that Charlotte and Natalya can have a true one-on-one. The worry here, of course, is that Bret helps Natalya win and she becomes the same sort of champion Charlotte is now.
Dolph Ziggler vs Baron Corbin – Singles Match
I became a serious fan of Corbin after watching Breaking Ground and I’ve been enjoying his (squash) matches on Raw and Smackdown lately. He’s a powerhouse and his character feels genuine because it’s based on his personality to the letter. Ziggler is a good guy to have Corbin go against because he can make being hit by a light breeze look like getting mowed down by a freight train. I hate to see Ziggler jobbing, but if he has to job to someone, Corbin is a good choice. And maybe Ziggler doing the job now pays off for him in the future.
WINNER: Baron Corbin
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens – Singles Match
The build to this match has been phenomenal. Owens and Zayn have one hell of a history, and have gone from best friends to mortal enemies. I imagine that both men are excited about this one. Having worked with someone for so long and then both make it to the main roster of the WWE together has got to be a great feeling. This match has had so much hype behind it, you would think it was the main event. And rightly so; it’s about damn time we recognize real talent instead of the John Cena’s and Roman Reigns’s of the world being the only ones coming out on top. Regardless of how this turns out, I’m happy. It’s going to be fantastic and will also be a nice preview of what is to come when these two men finally main event a WWE PPV together (eg: WrestleMania 32?)
WINNER: Kevin Owens
Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
I’m so confused about this match. I don’t know why Styles was thrown into the title picture so quickly, especially given all the “rookie” nonsense. No other male competitor has received a title shot so fast, and while Styles may deserve it, it is questionable given all the other seasoned talent on the roster. I’ve been working with the assumption that Seth Rollins will return at or around Summerslam, so I’m closely analyzing every move they make with the WHC belt. Styles makes no sense to me. As far as Reigns goes, it’s clear that we’re not going to have the strong and silent Reigns any time soon, so it’s also clear that I’m not getting on board with him. If I see him blow on his fist as if it is the barrel of a shotgun one more time, I’m going to lose it. I’m curious to see if The Authority makes an appearance during this match, especially since Triple H is due his rematch. Keep in mind the name of the show is “payback” so maybe HHH, Gallows and Anderson, or even Rollins comes out to get some.
WINNER: Roman Reigns
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
After last night’s WrestleMania, I may be ready for another vacation from wrestling; if Raw doesn’t bring the house down tonight, I’m taking a break until the Payback PPV. We started the night off with a two hour preshow that began with the US Title match. Kalisto defended his title against Ryback at 5:45pm while most of the fans weren’t even in the building, and before the preshow was on USA Network for those fans without the WWE Network. It was a terrible way to treat the title and the two men competing for it. If WWE doesn’t treat the title as something important, why should the fans care about it?
The two USA Network preshow matches were The Usos vs The Dudleys and Team BAD & Blonde vs Team Total Divas. The women’s match was all about Lana, at least in the buildup. When it came down to the match though, we barely got any Lana and instead got Brie acting like Daniel Bryan. If she’s retiring and needs to go out with a great match, fine. But how is stealing her husband’s moveset a positive way to go out? It was frustrating to watch. The Usos vs The Dudleys was the one match I assumed would be a throwaway, but it ended up being confusing. The Dudleys are meant to be the heels here, but were playing to the crowd, getting cheered, and it was the Usos who closed out the match with a questionable heel-like ending by putting Bubba and D-Von through two tables. The best part of the preshow kickoff was when Lita unveiled the new Women’s Title; that thing is a masterpiece.
WrestleMania began with the ladder match for the IC Title, which was phenomenal. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens looked like they honestly hated each other; both men were intense and focused on getting the win. There were some pretty scary spots, especially Sin Cara diving off a ladder and onto Stardust, who lay on a ladder outside of the ring. The tribute to Dusty Rhodes with Stardust’s gear and the polka dotted ladder was such a heartwarming gesture. We were teased with Miz stealing a victory, but ultimately Zack Ryder won the title. Zack Ryder. Who saw that one coming? I was incredibly happy with this entire match and pumped for the rest of the night. Every single competitor brought their A game and put everything on the line. There was not a single moment of downtime, and that ending was nothing short of genius; no one seriously thought that Ryder would walk away as champ. I loved it.
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho was basically the same thing we’ve already seen. Jericho keeps kicking out of the Styles Clash, which is frustrating, and then he beat Styles, which is confusing. You would think we’d be protecting the talent that is going to stick around and be here week after week, not handing the veteran a win so he can go off and tour with Fozzy. Outside of a confusing win, the match itself was stale and slow, and the crowd was not feeling it. Styles has been over as hell since his debut, but he keeps getting stuck in matches with Jericho. When do we get to see something else? I swear, if we get Styles vs Jericho, Take 5 at Payback, I’m cancelling my Network subscription.
New Day’s entrance was fantastic, coming out of a massive box of Booty-O’s, but the actual match with League Of Nations was very boring. The crowd looked as if they had fallen asleep at one point. I still can’t understand why the titles weren’t on the line here; every title should be up for grabs at WrestleMania. The whole competition for who is the stronger faction would be fine if that actually meant anything. Remember when Rusev came out in a tank? Where was that showmanship and fanfare this year? The best part of this match involved three men who had nothing to do with the match; Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. Sweet Chin Music, Mandible Claw, and Stunners for everyone! It was an awesome moment that made me hopeful that the night would be picking up.
Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar was next, and this one had to be good considering it was No Holds Barred. Unfortunately, it was Kendo Stick city with an odd and abrupt ending. It felt like someone backstage ordered the ref to cut the match short. I had been looking forward to this ever since they announced it, and this is what we got? Ambrose and Lesnar could have gone to the extreme, but instead all they did was hit each other with sticks and play with a fire extinguisher. There were some good moments, of course, but overall this was confusing, short and not extreme at all. Lesnar can obviously beat the shit out of people with ease, and Ambrose can take a beating like no other, so why didn’t we get a bloody all-out brawl? Why was Ambrose suddenly unable to continue after we’ve seen him get up and come back after going through worse? I went into this match thinking it would be one of the best of the entire night, and instead was left shaking my head, wondering what the hell I just watched.
The Women’s Title was on the line next, and Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte did a great job here. They absolutely killed it and showed us what the female division should look like, and hopefully what it will look like from here on out. My complaint is that Charlotte won with the help of her daddy. Again. Ric Flair prevented Sasha from returning to the ring, which allowed Charlotte time to get Becky to tap. Why in the holy hell are we pushing the strength of a new Women’s Division and still having the champ rely on a man to help her win? Flair should have stayed the hell out of it. This made Charlotte look weak, like if it were not for daddy, she wouldn’t be champ. I don’t want Daddy’s Girl heading the Women’s Division, I want someone who doesn’t need a man standing behind her because she can stand strongly on her own.
Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker was up next, and this match looked exactly how you would expect. A fight between two old men who probably shouldn’t be doing half the things they are trying to do. This was slow and tedious. The highlight was Shane diving off of the top of the cage and onto the announce table, resulting in Taker able to pick up the win and Shane getting carried off on a stretcher. The two broke out of the cell at one point, so an interference would have been awesome, but we didn’t get that. We didn’t really get anything. This was terrible.
The Andre The Giant Battle Royal was interesting with the addition of Shaq as a competitor, but overall it was nothing special. The highlight was seeing NXT star Baron Corbin pick up the win. I hope this means we’ll’ be getting him on the main roster; the guy is seriously on fire. With the Battle Royal moved off the preshow and onto the main card at the last minute, I was expecting to see a hell of a lot of action and surprises. Shaq is gimmicky, not something main-event worthy. I don’t get why this match was moved because other than Corbin’s victory, there was nothing special about this at all. Unremarkable and forgettable. I honestly can’t remember anything about this other than being confused that Shaq showed up and Corbin being the last man standing.
The Rock finally showed up next and faced off with The Wyatt’s which got me hyped up. Rock was in his ring gear, but we didn’t get Bray in the ring; Erick Rowan stepped up to compete and got his ass handed to him in 6 seconds. What is the point? Then, the Family gangs up on Rock and John Fucking Cena comes to his rescue. Honestly, guys, could we have gone one WrestleMania without him? I’m so tired of Cena getting shoved in our faces at every opportunity, especially when he is constantly greeted by a chorus of boos because everyone over the age of 8 is fed up with his cartoonish antics. The Rock would have been better utilized in the Roman vs Triple H fight by interfering and having Reigns turn on him. It would also have been better if we weren’t informed that he would be a part of Mania months ago. We suspected that Stone Cold would be there, but we didn’t see promo after promo advertising the fact, so we got hyped up when his music hit. With The Rock, we were waiting for it all night because WWE has been telling us week after week to expect it.
Our main event was next. Triple H had an awesome entrance as usual, though the whole speech by Stephanie McMahon was a bit odd, and Roman Reigns came out looking all broody as the crowd booed him. The high point was seeing Steph get speared, and the low point was everything else. Predictably, Reigns won. I knew Reigns would win, so that isn’t my issue here. My issue is this entire match was lazy and uneventful and unworthy of a WrestleMania main event. This is the biggest match on the biggest show of the entire year, and it felt like a throwaway Raw moment. Reigns won for the third time, and no one cared.
WrestleMania went over their allotted time by almost an hour, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it was necessary. I’ve already seen the “this is setting things up for Payback” arguments, and quite honestly, I think that is bullshit. WrestleMania is the event of the year; it should not be mediocre in order to set up things for an upcoming PPV. There is no excuse for not putting every title on the line. There is no excuse for lazy booking and shoddy performances. I shouldn’t be so bored during your main event that I mute the PPV and move to a second TV so I can watch the Walking Dead finale.
NXT TakeOver was what WrestleMania should have been. Compelling matches, lots of action and memorable moments, exciting debuts, and match endings that make you cheer even if it wasn’t the outcome you wanted. WWE’s so-called developmental division did the better job this weekend in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the people. Once TakeOver was over, we immediately went back to rewatch some of the matches. When Mania ended, we happily turned off the Xbox and almost instantly forgot about half the matches we watched. I haven’t seen as many Manias as the typical WWE fan, but this was undoubtedly the worst.
Tonight’s Raw is their chance to make things right, and the WWE has a lot of work to do. We still have The Authority in charge since Shane McMahon failed, but Triple H isn’t champion anymore, so I’m curious to see how they address it. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch should get a rematch tonight; the title should have changed hands last night. The tag titles should also be on the line tonight; not defending them last night was a mistake that needs to be righted. We should get a surprise debut tonight as well; seeing Bayley or Finn Balor on Raw would go a long way in righting some of the wrongs we saw last night. Creative needs to pull their heads out of their asses and put their all into tonight’s show. So many fans are jaded after watching a mind-numbing seven hours of wrestling last night; we need something big to pull us back in and make us want to keep watching. As it stands now, I have one foot out the door and won’t have any regrets about taking a few weeks off from Raw and Smackdown.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
The Mtn Dew Kickstart WrestleMania 32 Kickoff Show started promptly at 5PM on the WWE Network. Renee Young, and Hall of Famers Booker T and Lita led the charge with Corey Graves hanging around outside among the lines as the crowd files into the arena.
Kevin Owens is interviewed by JoJo backstage. He says he deserves a high profile match but he didn’t ask for all these opponents. He says just a few weeks ago, Zack Ryder was buying tickets to attend the show and now he gets to be in it. Owens slanders all his opponents. Later, Paul Heyman is interviewed with his usual spiel. Brock Lesnar is going to take Ambrose to Suplex City, hold him down, and pin him. Heyman gets some simple questions from the interview team and laughs in their faces.
Ringside Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler, and the amazing Mauro Ranallo get set to do the commentary for Kalisto against Ryback, with the United States Championship on the line. Ryback comes out getting booed by the thin crowd. People are still filing into AT&T Stadium. Most of the seats ringside are full though, so that’s good. Goldberg chants start early. Ryback gets off to a quick start, slamming the littler Kalisto to the mat. Not much offense in the first minutes for Kalisto. He takes a beating. Network goes to a commercial. When we return, it’s more of the same. It looks like a cat playing with a wounded mouse. Ryback tries a suplex off the top rope and Kalisto reverses it into a cover. Ryback kicks out at two and then clobbers Kalisto. The Lucha Dragon comes alive with a DDT. A few moments later, Kalisto hits a Salida del Sol and pins Ryback cleanly in the ring.
For hour two, we switch over to the USA Network. Corey Graves joins the preshow table. Ten woman Divas tag match up next featuring Total Divas vs Team BAD and BLONDE. Eva Marie, Alicia Fox, Natalya, Paige, Brie Bella, Lana, Summer Rae, Naomi, Emma, and Tamina are all competitors. Nothing much matters throughout this match. That is until Lana gets tagged in. She takes down Paige and looks dominant with a vicious kick, and then tags out. Brie Bella of course capitalizes off her husband with his kicks and wins via submission with the YES! Lock. The Bellas have nothing to offer and it shows here. Brie has never done anything but piggy back off Daniel Bryan. The balls of Creative to give Eva Marie a WrestleMania victory. The ones who can actually wrestle did good in this one. But a big throwaway match worth nothing, not even bragging rights.
Lita is down in the middle of the ring addressing the crowd. She discusses the female wrestlers that came before her and how no one could ever tell them no. They could never be stopped. And a big surprise for Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch, Lita says the winner of the triple threat Divas championship match will win a new fancy WWE Women’s Championship!
Absolutely beautiful. Could not be more excited for this. It’s time for WWE to take the women’s division seriously. Thank you to Triple H for leading us to this moment with his NXT ladies. Next up is The Usos versus The Dudley Boyz. I can’t stop thinking about that talent, though. This one starts off with all four guys brawling. Bubba Ray is fired up, yelling throughout. A few super kicks later, and The Usos win. Short match with nothing much to offer. Afterwards, The Dudleys attack The Usos and then get two tables from under the ring. But The Usos again super kick The Dudleys and then place them on the tables. Double splash through the tables. Crowd boos this booking and I can’t blame them. Not a good outing for the preshow.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
WrestleMania is finally here! Like many responsible adults, I opted to take paid time off on Monday so I can enjoy some drinks while watching the show of shows. After getting slightly jaded with the state of wrestling and taking a few weeks off around the winter holiday season, my husband and I are back in the middle of things and putting more energy into Face To Heel than ever before. The 32nd annual WrestleMania is taking place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and is scheduled to start on the Network at 5PM, giving us an insane six hours of wrestling and pre-show action to contend with.
A special live, hour-long presentation that includes three preshow matches will air for free on the USA Network at 6PM, and the main PPV airing begins at 7PM. An hour long WrestleMania Fallout Post Show will immediately begin after the final match on the Network. We had two dismal go-home events earlier this week that did little to get fans hyped for this event. For those of you happy to have a Cena-free WrestleMania, I suspect you’ll end up disappointed. With Cena still unable to compete, he will likely either be featured in The Rock’s segment or used in a backstage promo in preparation for his return, because he’s John Cena and he can get the crowd to pop. Let’s take a look at the massive card and make some predictions.
Kalisto (c) vs Ryback – US Title Match on WWE Network Preshow
I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Ryback in a title match at Mania! He has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few months; you can’t deny that Ryback has improved both in the ring and on the mic. One of the reasons the Goldberg chants annoy me so much is because it undermines the work Ryback has done to make himself into something more. That said, it doesn’t help that they have updated his ring gear to look like Goldberg’s. I’ve read a lot about how this is a throwaway match or a waste of time, and I wholeheartedly disagree. Kalisto has done a lot for himself, working his way from NXT to the main roster, and is gaining popularity as a singles competitor. Like them or not, they both have earned this match. The go home episode of Raw had Ryback come to the ring for all of eight seconds to quickly “confront” his competitor before leaving, which is a shame because these men and this title deserve better. Originally on the main card, they were bumped to the preshow to make room for the Battle Royal. Not even bumped to the USA Preshow, but to the 5:30PM slot on the Network. A title match shouldn’t be treated as a throwaway, competed for while people are still filing into the arena or not even tuned in yet at home. Still, I feel like big things are in the future for Ryback, and I’m excited to see where things go from here.
Lana, Summer Rae, Emma, Naomi & Tamina (Team BAD & Blonde) vs Paige, Natalya, Brie Bella, Eva Marie & Alicia Fox (Team Bella/Total Divas) – Tag Match on USA Preshow
Not only is Lana finally having her first match, but she’s getting it at WrestleMania! At least, she will if this match doesn’t get cut for time. Lana has been antagonizing Brie Bella over the past few weeks for no other reason than she can get away with it. This has given us the first few indications that she has a moveset, even if it’s a borrowed one. Putting her in such a large tag match will allow her to enter in briefly enough to do what she needs to without putting the entire match on her shoulders. I got excited about the late addition of Emma to this match, but the excitement was short-lived once they added the useless Eva Marie to the mix. I’m very worried that this is going to turn into the Daniel Bryan Tribute Match, with Brie wearing his ring gear and starting a YES! chant. Since WWE doesn’t have Daniel Bryan, they might settle for the next closest thing. Don’t let it happen. Bryan’s wrestling career is sadly over, and this match is about all of these ten individuals, not one wife of a former champ. Even if they don’t go the Bryan tribute route, there is a rumor that Brie will retire from in-ring competition due to an undisclosed health issue (which is why Bryan reportedly cancelled his recent live appearances), so this match may be all about Brie no matter what.
WINNERS: Team Bella/Total Divas
The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz – Tag Match on USA Preshow
This is the one match I’m really going to complain about on the entire card, which is an improvement for me. I’m simply bored with The Usos, and have been for some time. They were off TV for a while due to injury and came back exactly the same as when they left. The color of their shorts might change here and there, but otherwise they stay stagnant. No new moves, no new promos, just the same two guys day in and day out. The Dudleys recently turned heel, and they’ve been ticking off fans left and right, likely in preparation to face the brothers. Their match on the go-home episode of Smackdown was said to be “below average” and was one of only three Smackdown matches held. I found it hard to pay attention as they fought on Smackdown; the match was stale and didn’t do anything to build towards Mania. There’s nothing on the line for these teams at Mania either, just another two-on-two that we’ve seen countless times already. Being that it’s WrestleMania, I expected some sort of stipulation to make this match matter. As it stands, this is just filler.
WINNERS: The Dudley Boyz
Andre The Giant 20-Man Memorial Battle Royal
This year, the battle royal has downsized from 30 competitors to 20. Originally advertised for the preshow, this match was recently moved to the main card, giving us an indication that we will see a major surprise entrant. Past winners include Big Show and Cesaro, so the assumption already is that we’ll see one of the bigger men take the win this year. The Social Outcasts were the first to announce their involvement, and will also probably be among the first eliminated. Big Show, Mark Henry and Kane will also compete and present a challenge when it comes to elimination considering their sizes. I’d love to see Prince Pretty win, but I don’t think Tyler Breeze is due his WrestleMania moment just yet. Damien Sandow is a dark horse in this match; he could use the win to catapult himself back into the spotlight. Goldust and R-Truth could use this match to further tease their tag team aspirations, and The Ascension can use it to try to be relevant again. I’m hoping the Wyatt’s (minus Luke Harper) get into this match. The Wyatt Family main evented Smackdown, and by main evented I mean that Wyatt and Strowman refused to compete, so Rowan had a one-on-one with Dean Ambrose. Either they are saving them for something big, they are protecting a still-healing injury, or Creative has lost their minds.
WINNER: Bray Wyatt
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho
I’m excited about this match because there are some rumors floating around that I desperately want to believe about Finn Balor using this match as a way to debut on the main roster by assisting AJ Styles in some capacity. The problem with this rumor is that Balor’s entrance demands our full attention, so having him run out mid-match would be a terrible waste of his first appearance. Plus, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows are currently in Dallas and are rumored to be debuting on the main roster during the post-Mania RAW under the Balor Club name, so we might not see Balor at all until then. Something needs to happen here to build the bridge that carries Styles into his next storyline, because we’ve exhausted what he can do with Jericho. Styles needs to get a victory over the veteran to end this feud and stop the “you’re just a rookie” nonsense. Yes, this is his first WrestleMania, but the guy has been wrestling for years and is anything but a rookie. Beating Jericho in their 4th (and hopefully final) match up should put the rookie talk to rest and allow him to move on, stop being the newcomer, and properly establish himself on the main roster.
WINNER: AJ Styles
Kevin Owens (c) vs Dolph Ziggler vs Sami Zayn vs The Miz vs Zack Ryder vs Stardust vs Sin Cara – 7 Man Ladder IC Title Match
Neville was intended to participate in this match, but since he is out with an injury, Zack Ryder will be taking his place. Last year, Daniel Bryan won the IC title in a ladder match that tried to recapture the amazing moment Bryan had at WM30. I like the idea of revisiting a ladder match, especially with Owens and Zayn involved. It’s a bit insulting to Ryder, Stardust and Sin Cara to be the afterthoughts, the ones Owens threw into a qualifying match as a joke, but I’m sure it’s still exciting for them to get a match and title shot. I’m looking forward to seeing Owens vs Zayn the most; neither man holds anything back, plus Owens was responsible for taking Zayn out of action for quite a bit, so things could get heated. The dynamic between the two is the best part of this match. Not to take away from the other men here, but it’s incredible to see NXT pushing themselves onto the main roster and proving that they belong and then some. I just hope The Miz doesn’t pull the hiding under the ring stunt and steal a win at the last second.
WINNER: Sami Zayn
Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – No Holds Barred Street Fight
If we choose to believe every rumor we read online, Bray Wyatt was originally meant to face Lesnar at WM, but was sidelined by a minor back injury. WWE wanted to keep it under wraps, so they had Wyatt carefully back out of matches but still remain present as they build a new story with Lesnar and Ambrose. Now that Wyatt is cleared to compete, he may insert himself into this No DQ match. I truly hope this happens, or Wyatt is added to make this a Triple Threat at the last minute, because why not? Ambrose has been teasing an array of weapons, including a chainsaw because this is the zombie apocalypse and you just never know. These three are incredibly strong in the ring and could very well turn this into the best match of the evening. Bray Wyatt deserves to be in the title picture for countless reasons, so throwing him into this match in a big way is a good start on getting him there. The Raw before Mania didn’t do much at all to hype up this match; having a red wagon full of weapons circle the ring while Lesnar holds a kendo stick wasn’t all that thrilling. It would be interesting if Paul Heyman picks this match to turn on Lesnar, aligning himself with Ambrose and allowing him to make a seamless heel turn. Both of these guys are such over babyfaces, so something has got to give.
WINNER: Dean Ambrose
Charlotte (c) vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks – Triple Threat Divas Title Match
This is the match we’ve all been waiting for, only we imagined it without Ric Flair standing at the sidelines. It says a lot about the WWE’s main roster Divas that the three newest additions from NXT are the ones with the important women’s match on the card instead of veterans like Natalya or Brie, but the NXT trio is the most deserving out of everyone. Banks has announced that her entrance at Mania will be one-of-a-kind and something we’ve never seen before. She also announced her plans to have the first MITB match for the women, giving me another reason to call her my favorite female on the main roster. Charlotte burst onto the main roster with a vengeance, but having her daddy trail behind her 24/7 has made her look weak and incapable of winning on her own. It plays to the sad stereotype that women need a big strong man to help them out, and it’s outdated and pathetic. The belt needs to change hands because the character they turned Charlotte into isn’t who we need as our Divas champ. The women’s division still needs work, and we need to ensure that we have a strong female heading it up. Previously dubbed the Four Horsewomen (with Bayley), these three will give us a match that is main event worthy, which is what we’ve desperately needed on the main roster for some time now. If the rebranding rumors are true, whoever wins here tonight will be the last Divas champion, and the first to hold the new Women’s title.
WINNER: Sasha Banks
The New Day vs The League Of Nations – 4 on 3 Handicap Match
New Day has had a numbers advantage on other tag teams from the beginning with their third member (4th if you count the trombone), but with the League Of Nations, the odds are against them for once. I’m a big fan of the League; it’s great to finally see Wade Barrett competing again, and it’s good to have Rusev and Lana separated so they can both pursue their own stories. This match was originally billed as a tag title match from WWE’s WrestleMania specific account, but the tweet making that announcement has since been deleted. The new verbiage is that this is “a battle for supremacy” and it will determine “which team will assert itself as WWE’s prime stable.” I fail to see how becoming the prime stable could mean more than winning the titles, so this change is confusing for me. I expect this match to feature a full and unquestionable babyface turn for The New Day; they’re basically there already, and a beat down from the Nation will help push them over the edge.
WINNERS: New Day
Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker – HIAC Match
The stipulations are clear. If Shane wins, he earns control of Raw and The Undertaker can no longer appear at WrestleMania. If Shane loses, he’s out of the will and the family business. Taker is obviously past the point of safe retirement; he could have gone out when he hit 20-0, but chose to keep on going. I don’t see him having his last match against Shane McMahon. Although stranger things have happened, this feels like the wrong way for the dead man to say goodbye, so in that respect he needs to win. On the other hand, seeing Triple H and Stephanie dethroned by Shane would be an interesting twist. Quite honestly, it would probably be nice for the pair to be able to take a little time off, and losing the title and control of Raw would allow that to happen. I don’t think Shane is back to make a big commitment though; it seems like he was a choice down the list somewhere. The main problem here is trying to convince a crowd to cheer for a McMahon victory when it means that Taker won’t be at any future Mania. Shane is meant to be the face here, but this stipulation is going to make him the villain. Creative will look foolish if they backtrack after the fact and find a loophole to keep Taker at future Manias, or if they have Shane shake his hand after winning and declare that now that he’s in charge, Taker can wrestle at Manias until his legs quit working. At the end of the night, we have to have a crystal clear winner and decision on what happens from here. We can end Mania with questions, but we cannot allow any of those questions to be about whether or not one (or both) of these men has a job.
WINNER: The Undertaker
Triple H (c) vs Roman Reigns – WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
The posters and merchandise in Dallas are advertising this match as a no DQ, which would be a great way to guarantee the maximum amount of action in this match. I honestly didn’t give two shits about this match prior to Triple H breaking Reigns’s face. Now that Reigns is back to his old self, I’m seriously into it and can’t wait to see him and Triple H beat the hell out of each other. Reigns is doing a phenomenal job of making us believe he truly hates Triple H and wants revenge and the title back. He’s stopped the goofy schtick and he’s quit smiling at the crowd. Now he shows up, kicks ass, and leaves. I’m curious about The Rock’s involvement in WM and whether or not he will interfere in this match. It would make sense for him to come in and attempt to assist Reigns. It would be a smart move to have Reigns turn on The Rock, knock him out of commission, and go on to fight solo. Reigns is looking to capture his third title reign, and while I’m happy to see Reigns is done showboating for the crowd, I don’t want to see the title back around his waist. Not just yet. If he does win, I want Seth Rollins to crash the party. He’s not ready to return to the ring, though he’ll possibly be ready for SummerSlam, but he’s well enough to show up and has been rehabbing hard. Rollins showing up to make his intentions known would be an epic moment. I’d like to see Reigns and Rollins resume their battle when he returns, only with the roles reversed and Rollins as the face while Reigns plays villain. He needs to turn; we’re seeing him get booed far too often as he tries to remain face; it’s not working and needs to change. I’m not talking too much about Triple H because this match isn’t about him. He truly does whatever is best for business, in character and out, so his involvement in this match and in the title picture is for the greater good, not the individual.
WINNER: Roman Reigns
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Tonight Madison Square Garden will host WWE Live on the Road to WrestleMania. This was initially billed as Daniel Bryan Appreciation Night, with the recently retired star scheduled to appear, but Bryan was pulled from this and multiple other upcoming WWE events leading up to and after Mania. The WWE issued a statement saying that he “requested time off and it was granted.” MSG released a much better statement, apologizing for the inconvenience and promising that the event to honor Bryan was simply postponed. It’s unlikely that this house show will air on the Network, which is a shame because it’s shaping up to be a great night. We have no Divas match scheduled, but Charlotte is scheduled to appear, along with Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Lana, and Alicia Fox. Let’s take a look at the MSG match card and make some predictions
The New Day (c) vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Usos – Tag Title Match
There is a possibility that the tag match at WrestleMania will feature multiple teams competing, so perhaps this is a way to lead into that. Our reigning champions have gone from being a running joke to one of the most popular teams we’ve got. Their unicorn-fueled mission to avoid being booty has gotten over with the crowd, and they’ve had a very successful two-time reign. The Dudleys seemed to be on track to get the titles when they returned to the WWE, but their title chances seem to be a thing of the past now that the Usos are back. That being said, anything can happen after WrestleMania, so maybe they’ll get their moment at SummerSlam.
WINNERS: New Day
Kane & Big Show vs The Wyatt Family
Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman are said to be competing, but with Wyatt’s rumored back injury (and recent tendencies to observe instead of participate), this may be a 2-on-1 handicap or feature Luke Harper and/or Erick Rowan instead. I hope this is about redemption for the Wyatt Family because they need it more than anyone right now. The new face of fear hasn’t been competing, the family has suffered more losses than wins, and their forward momentum always seems to come to an abrupt halt at the worst possible time. The family needs to reestablish their dominance and they need to do it now.
WINNERS: Kane & Big Show via Disqualification
Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz
Ziggler and The Miz have been going back and forth lately as they try to maneuver into the IC title picture. Both men will be part of a 7-man ladder match at WrestleMania to compete for that title, so this match is a good way to build towards that. Being that this is a house show and the entire roster will not be present, it’s hard to say whether we’ll see interference from the other Mania opponents. It would be interesting to at least have one or two of the competitors ringside, especially if it’s Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens will be around to cause trouble if he isn’t too busy preparing for his own match, so things could get interesting.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler
Kalisto (c) vs Ryback vs Alberto Del Rio – US Title Match
Kalisto is obviously the underdog in this match; he’s at a size disadvantage as it is with one opponent, nevermind two. The outcome of this match could shift the plans for WrestleMania, though I don’t see a title change getting wasted at a non-televised event when we already have something set up for next weekend. That said, if Creative is worried about possibly cutting the Mania US Title match due to time restrictions, they could use this match as a way to cover their bases. The Mania match can be turned into a short backstage segment instead featuring the aftermath of whatever happens at MSG, which saves time while still having the title be present. I don’t think it will go this way, but you can never tell with WWE sometimes.
Kevin Owens (c) vs AJ Styles – IC Title Match
I’m curious to know what Chris Jericho’s plans are for Friday night, because it makes sense for him to be around to screw with Styles. There is a chance we will see Styles vs Jericho at WrestleMania, so it would make sense for Jericho to be around. Alternately, we could leave the Jericho story behind and use this match as a way to make the Mania ladder match an 8-man event. The fans support Styles and it would be exciting to see him in such a dynamic match with 7 very different competitors. I’m hoping the second option is what we’re working towards; Styles has been on fire lately and needs something more than rematch after rematch with Jericho.
WINNER: Kevin Owens
Sheamus & Triple H vs Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose
This is the first time Triple H will be competing at Madison Square Garden in nearly five years, and will have him facing his WrestleMania opponent, Roman Reigns. Since this is a tag match, there is a chance that we won’t see Triple H directly face off with Reigns at all; they could choose to save every bit of that action for Mania and use quick tags to keep Triple H away from Reigns. I don’t think they will hold back though since this won’t be televised; I imagine that Triple H and Reigns are the ones to end this match. For those who are disappointed that we won’t see Ambrose and Brock Lesnar face off in some way, try to keep in mind that Lesnar’s house show performances are a hell of a lot shorter than his PPV performances, so we aren’t missing much. Regardless of who is in the ring, this match is going to be all about Roman Reigns and his determination to take down Triple H and earn back the title he sees as his.
WINNERS: Reigns & Ambrose
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker