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
Editor’s Note: Last Friday, I had a very interesting day-long conversation with @THEmtg3drinks on Twitter which spurred some fascinating off the cuff ideas. Using that convo led me to write this article. Many thanks, friend.
Dean Ambrose was a poor WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. He’s entertaining. He’s good for a laugh. But his workrate is lousy and if his opponent isn’t really good and pushing him, he just doesn’t come through like a champion should. His mic work is questionable and there are several other guys on the Smackdown Live roster who are more deserving and better suited for carrying the title. Enter A.J. Styles.
No one can argue that Styles has had a memorable year. He made his debut at the Royal Rumble, foregoing NXT and jumping straight to the main roster. He got a title shot, he beat John Cena, and now he has won the championship faster than any person before him. It’s been an incredible journey. Unfortunately, John Cena is still breathing air. And now that Ambrose has dropped the belt to Styles, it’s inevitable that he collides with Cena.
Despite Cena’s polarizing effect on the WWE Universe, for better or worse, he is destined to be a 16-time champion. In fact, he will be at least a 17-time champion before his career is over. Not because he’s better than Ric Flair, but most likely because Vince McMahon will always consider Flair to be a WCW guy, and Vince is too petty to let the record holder be any one other than a tried-and-true WWE Superstar. All that has been said to say this: AJ Styles is probably going to drop the title to John Cena at some point in the near future.
Whether this happens sooner or later remains to be seen. But the safe bet is that, at the very least, John Cena walks into the Smackdown side of WrestleMania 33 as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Wait, put your cackles down and don’t throw that rotten tomato at me. Hear me out. I have a plan.
The Undertaker is running on fumes. He’s past his expiration date and seriously needs to retire. But he’s been The Man in Black for so many years, that he can’t just up and quit. As the premiere (and most eclectic) storyteller in the business of professional wrestling, he needs a grand exit. Fast forward to Royal Rumble next year. They do one for Raw, they do one for Smackdown. (Hold your grumbles until the end, please.) Undertaker comes out of nowhere as the #30 entrant to the Smackdown side. And wins. Cena vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The caveat: if Cena wins, Undertaker has to retire; if Taker wins, he gets the championship. At this point everyone thinks this is Undertaker’s retirement match. But in a surprise twist, Undertaker wins the title!
The next Tuesday on Smackdown, Undertaker comes out and says he beat the man, won the belt, and has nothing else to prove. He says he is retiring. Shane McMahon interrupts and demands he give the belt back. Instead, Undertaker Tombstones Shane and then walks out with the belt, retiring this current version of it. Smackdown gets a new shiny title, Undertaker goes out as a champion, and Cena actually gets a boost in fan love because he did the job for Undertaker on his final go home match.
This current version of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was introduced by an old school, Attitude Era guy. So it makes sense to retire it with an old, old, old school and Attitude Era guy. Think about it. The Rock brought in and held this title, Triple H held this title (and was the “gateway” for the new up and comers to go through to get it: Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose) and, finally, The Undertaker walks into the twilight with this title. It’s a fantastic story and will make a killer DVD. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is reintroduced in a new format with a new Smackdown themed look, and everybody wins. Cena looks like a hero, Undertaker leaves after firing all the bullets in his gun, and people are talking about Smackdown Live and their title for months to come.
The aftermath is The Undertaker is put into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 34, John Cena will get his 17th title reign with an authentic, new title, and everyone will be tuning in to see Cena take on The Undertaker to make WrestleMania 33 one of the most watched pay-per-views in history. It makes sense for John Cena to retire The Undertaker as on Cena’s debut night, he shockingly was encouraged by and even shook hands with The Undertaker on live television. This will be the last hurrah of Taker, and the last final mega push for Cena. He will get one more title reign, but nothing as extravagant as this. He can slide over into a part-time role; heck, maybe even turn heel. Or possibly become a Raw or Smackdown GM after the next roster draft lottery.
I hate John Cena and even I like this idea. It’s a win-win for everybody, especially Vince who will just laugh maniacally as he collects huge fat checks. The Raw side of WrestleMania next year is going to be just fine with all the best stars climbing over each other for that Universal Championship. This is a fun and unique way to give Smackdown a giant moment and keep both brands at the top of their game. And since Cena has never taken on Undertaker at WrestleMania, it seems fair for him to get That Moment. I mean, c’mon, Triple H has done it three times. What do you think? Wishful thinking, great idea, or obnoxious pipedream? Please let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
On the last day of August, Finn Balor called in to The Ross Report podcast with Jim Ross. Just one week removed from his surgery, Balor was upbeat when talking to Good Ol’ JR. He did have some discouraging news for fans, however.
The night Finn Balor’s injury occurred at SummerSlam, he first suspected it was dislocated after Seth Rollins threw him into the barricade. The gutsy performer popped it back into place and kept wrestling. The next day, as the pain grew progressively worse, Balor would check in with WWE doctors. About three hours before Monday Night Raw was scheduled to happen, Balor was told he would need surgery as he had a tear in his labrum according to scans. A few hours later, he would relinquish the Universal Championship to Mick Foley and <span two days later he would have surgery.
Unfortunately, when the doctors finally opened Balor up, they found more damage than expected. Instead of a linear labrum tear, the tear went a full 180 degrees around his arm, twice as big as originally expected. Additionally, he had damage to his bicep and pectoral muscles, as well as a few minor broken bones. The surgery was a success and Balor joked that the doctors were kind enough to give him the bone fragments in a jar which he decided to keep.
The original prognosis before surgery was 4-6months to heal, leaving many to speculate a possible 4 or 5 month return if rehab went well. Now the doctors are saying it will be a "hard six months" and that Balor will most likely need every single day to recover, rehab, and get back to full mobility. Balor says he will use the full six months and then some if necessary as he wants to come back better than ever. So fans shouldn't expect him back any earlier.
As it stands now, Balor is forced to sleep upright in a La-Z-Boy recliner for the next six weeks as he is not allowed to sleep on his back due to the sling his arm is in. As the interview goes on, Balor praised WWE for how they handled the situation and took care of him. He said it blew him away how fantastic everything had gone down. They got him in for surgery with some of the best doctors on the planet without delay.
The good news here is that although he won't be back as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, he will return and have plenty of time to get the ring rust out long before WrestleMania rolls around. But that's the future, for now Balor says he is doing rehab twice a day and that's all he is focused on. As for all the hate Seth Rollins is getting? Balor says it's unwarranted and that he thinks Seth Rollins is one of the best workers in the company and it was just a fluke accident.
It's a shame that Finn Balor's title reign ended so abruptly. But The Demon King will return and reclaim his place at the top. With Kevin Owens wearing the Universal Championship, the title is in good hands for the time being. We wish Balor a speedy recovery and wait patiently for his triumphant return.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Wednesday’s are always better with NXT. Tonight, we will see the return of Hideo Itami, who my husband and I were lucky enough to see in mid-July this year. He got an amazing welcome from the crowd, so I imagine he’ll also see a big pop tonight. We will also see the debut of Bobby Roode, someone else we saw at the same live show, who played the villain very well.
The night kicks off with Hideo Itami, and as predicted, the crowd goes crazy with cheers and a “Welcome Back”chant. He will be facing Sean Maluta, who you may remember from the Cruiserweight Classic; he was eliminated in the first round. We also have some of the CWC contenders ringside tonight. Itami takes Maluta down early with a shoulder tackle, and delivers a quick kick to the face. A “Hi-Deo” chant begins as Maluta is on his back. Itami mocks his opponent, who gently puts him into the turnbuckle and then hits Itami with both knees to the face. Maluta tries for two pins, but Itami is able to kick free. You can see the ugly scar on Itami’s shoulder from his surgery. Itami hits two clotheslines, a kick to the face, and then a running knee to get the pin for the victory. A strong match for Itami, and also for Maluta, who has talent even though he didn’t make it far in the CWC.
Backstage, The Revival are speaking about their tag title reigns and the fact that they are the absolute best tag team in NXT and on this planet. TM61 interrupts and proposes a title match, but The Revival send them to the back of the line. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa step in now, calling The Revival scared for not giving them a shot. The Revival choose to step away and let their competitors talk it out.
Mojo Rawley has a match now against Chris Atkins. Rawley was recently drafted to Smackdown and made his debut by coming to the aid of Zack Ryder. Rawley gets Atkins down and pins him within the first 20 seconds, but Samoa Joe runs out before the referee can count to three and breaks up the pin. He attacks both men and grabs a microphone to address William Regal. Since Regal doesn’t want to consult him regarding his challengers for the NXT Championship, Joe doesn’t need to consult him regarding who he wants to challenge on the shows. Rawley finally gets to his feet and takes Joe down, but Joe gets revenge as Rawley walks back up the ramp. Joe promises to destroy Shinsuke Nakamura before getting booed out of the arena.
Bayley is backstage discussing her adaptation since losing the Women’s title. She has been watching Asuka’s matches and studying her every move. Speaking of Asuka, she appears and says “Think you’re ready? Come watch.” Bayley joins Tom Phillips and Corey Graves on commentary for Asuka’s match against Aliyah. They changed her ring gear, thankfully, but she’s still very green and not yet over with the crowd. Asuka grabs a chair to give Bayley a front row seat to the match, and Bayley makes her way to ringside, throwing the chair aside. Asuka keeps her eyes on Bayley as she roughhouses Aliyah. Aliyah finally gets a good kick in, but Asuka gets her down and uses her knee to cover her. She pulls Aliyah out of the pin at the two count, facing Bayley the whole time. Someone in the crowd yells “stop the match” as Asuka gets her opponent in the Asuka Lock for the win. Bayley enters the ring to protect Aliyah as Asuka holds the title in Bayley’s face, unfazed by her presence.
Now, the debut of Bobby Roode! His song goes “Glorious! And I won’t give in, and I won’t give in until I’m victorious!” Sadly, he isn’t dressed to compete in his over the top robe. Roode tells the crowd that the wait is finally over; Bobby Roode is NXT! He says he had the honor of sitting in the audience of NXT Takeover Dallas during WrestleMania weekend, and he was overcome by the emotion in the crowd. He knew from that moment that NXT was the place for him, and that no other brand in the world has revolutionized this industry like NXT has. He says “we are ALL NXT!” In order to take NXT to the next level, that is where he comes in; NXT needs Bobby Roode. Finally, Roode turns on the crowd, insulting their chants, wardrobe and signs. This is the NEW NXT, and Roode is at the helm; from this moment on, NXT will be glorious!
Up next, TM61 takes on The Revival in tonight’s main event. TM61 start off with quick tags in and out to keep Scott Dawson isolated and unable to tag in Dash Wilder. Dawson is finally able to get Dash in the match, thanks to a little hair pulling. The Revival start making quick tags in and out, taking control of the match and isolating their competitor. All four men are in the ring, and TM61 manage to throw The Revival from the ring before we break for an infuriating commercial for the upcoming CWC. We return to see Dawson in control of the match. Dash locks in an arm bar after being tagged in, looking for a tap out victory. Shane Thorne is helpless in this match, as Dawson mocks his teammate, Nick Miller. Miller finally gets the tag in and takes over the match, going for a pin, but Dawson is able to kick out. Miller hits a Spine Buster and tries for another unsuccessful pin. Scott Dawson is able to hit a DDT out of nowhere on Miller and get the pin to win this match.
After the match, Dawson says that it doesn’t matter what part of the world their competitors come from, they hit hard and they are the top guys at NXT. They beat everyone they face. Gargano and Ciampa interrupt their speech with a fake list of teams that The Revival have beaten. Pretty silly, and not in a good way. They trigger a Pokemon chant before getting serious about wanting the Tag Titles. The two men attack The Revival, start an unofficial match, and pin Dash for the “win.” The hold the titles high in mock victory as we end our evening.
Next week, we will see Bayley and Asuka sign the contract for their upcoming Women’s Title match. The Revival continue to dominate the tag team division of NXT, in spite of their stiff competition, so it’ll be interesting to see if Gargano and Ciampa can be the ones to dethrone our two-time champs. Who is your pick for number one contender for The Revival’s titles? Leave your thoughts below, and we will see you next week!
Article by Mrs. Jamie Baker
There is talk that SummerSlam will feature John Cena vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title, and I can’t think of a worse idea. Roman Reigns is greeted by angry boos when he steps into any arena, and not because the crowd enjoys his work as a heel; they are sick of seeing him. Cena gets greeted by a chorus of “John Cena Suuuucks” as the crowd sings along to his music. Again, it’s not done because he’s an effective heel (that heel turn will never come), it’s done because the crowd doesn’t want him around. Reigns is meant to be our hero, and is now seemingly being booked as an anti-hero, but none of it is working. Reigns vs Cena to headline SummerSlam would be a disaster for everyone, especially the fans.
The WWE Network pulled in a record 1.82 million subscribers for WrestleMania weekend, which is up 39% from last year. That said, the jump is in part thanks to the one month free trial that WWE keeps throwing at new subscribers to get them hooked. The number of actual paying subscribers has actually declined slightly from last year, which can’t sit well with Vince McMahon. To be quite honest, I’ve considered dropping the Network after dealing with streaming issues, cut feeds, and other problems that should have been ironed out. It’s also not the most user friendly model out there, especially when you’re used to Netflix, which definitely caters to its customers’ needs. It’s also frustrating as a paying customer to see all these free months thrown around and never getting so much as a half price month once a year for being loyal.
I know Creative can’t listen to the fans all the time. We can be idiots and we don’t always look far enough in the future to see what one questionable decision could mean. We do know enough to know that Cena vs Reigns is not what is best for SummerSlam. Can you imagine four more months of Roman Reigns as champion? It hurts my head to think about. Reigns going match after match, overcoming the odds, fighting The Authority, blah blah blah. Cena with a new shirt every month, calling Reigns “Jack” or “Son” while the two compete to see who can act more like a living cartoon character. It makes me want to stop watching Raw and Smackdown altogether. I can stick to NXT and Impact and enjoy a Cena/Reigns-free existence.
I know Super Cena is going to get the belt again and have another title reign so he can break records and be the “greatest there ever was,” but do we honestly need to suffer for four long months as WWE builds towards this? Two “top” guys who nearly get booed out of every arena they step into are going to headline the second largest PPV of the year? None of this makes any sense. We have so much talent on the roster, and you want to give us Cena and Reigns? There are so many other names that could (and should) be inserted into the title picture, so to almost immediately thrust Cena back into the spotlight that they refuse to take Reigns out of is just lazy booking. “Cena sells t-shirts” shouldn’t be the deciding factor in how to book such big events.
WrestleMania was an overall failure this year from a viewing perspective, and the post-Mania Raw didn’t do too much to repair it other than lean heavy on NXT talent in order to garner interest. Setting up Reigns vs Cena for the summer is a kick in the teeth for every fan out there. This could very well be a rumor with no weight behind it, but knowing how badly Vince wants these two guys to be on top of it all, it’s probably 100% true. If someone could validate this rumor for me, I would honestly stop watching until the Cena/Reigns program was over and done with. We don’t need it, we don’t want it, and everyone knows that it’s going to be terrible. Want more Network subscribers? Give the fans some main events we actually want to see. If you’re going to give us a crap champion, give him or her some feuds that truly peak our interest. And for once, trust that the rest of your talent has the ability to main event or hold a title and let them have an honest chance.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Monday Night Raw was left in the hands of Shane McMahon on the post-Mania episode, and Shane did a great job of mostly hiding backstage and letting the talent do the talking for him. We had an interesting twist with Wade Barrett leaving the League Of Nations, setting the stage for his upcoming departure from the WWE and allowing the Wyatt Family to have a show stealing moment. The entire Women’s Division turned face by walking out on Charlotte as she bragged about the title and received a challenge from Natalya, teasing an upcoming Flair Family vs Hart Family feud. In a questionable call, AJ Styles won the #1 Contender’s spot for the World Heavyweight Title during the main event. This was not the post-Mania Raw that we expected, but the high points were there if you take the time to look.
The Wyatt Family looks to be back from whatever slump they were forced into. If Bray was injured, he definitely isn’t now, as he hung backwards off the ropes and hit a Sister Abigail with ease. Their goal is still a mystery, but I would enjoy seeing them enter the tag title picture. Even better, I’d enjoy seeing Bray Wyatt go back to showing interest in the Heavyweight Title. When it was previously teased, the fans lost their minds. Money In The Bank is June 19th, which gives us plenty of time to set the stage for Wyatt to enter that ladder match and grab the briefcase. With the League down to three members and Luke Harper out injured, we have three evenly matched teams that could definitely face off against each other. The Wyatt’s would be great contenders to the New Day’s titles, and they are polar opposites of the dancing champions, which would make for a very interesting match. I hope their appearance was a statement of what is to come instead of just a random beat down.
We only received one Women’s match; a questionable singles pairing between Summer Rae and Sasha Banks. Banks obviously won and the crowd obviously broke their necks looking for any sign of a Bayley debut. I can’t tell if they are saving that moment for a PPV or if they honestly think that what the division needs is a feud with Charlotte and Natalya. Nothing against either of these woman, but that isn’t what is selling right now. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but I have no interest in a drawn out fight for the title between these two. Sasha Banks deserves another shot at the title; she was not pinned or submitted at WrestleMania, plus she was prevented from returning from the match thanks to Ric Flair. She of all people has earned one more shot at the very least. Banks has also expressed interest in a Women’s Ladder Match at MITB, so perhaps she gets her wish this June and uses that to get her next title shot. As far as I’m concerned, she is heading this division, and I hope her ideas are listened to and honestly considered.
Apollo Crews had a strong debut at the expense of former NXT alumni, Tyler Breeze. Baron Corbin also had a strong Raw debut in a match with Dolph Ziggler that cemented his heel status and made me very excited to see what Corbin will do next. We got a tease for the Smackdown debut of The VaudeVillains. The debut of the night has to go to Enzo Amore and Big Cass. The arena exploded with How You Doin, everyone was on their feet, and we all learned how good Amore can be on the microphone. NXT Takeover Dallas was unquestionably better than WrestleMania, so it’s no surprise that the high points on Raw mostly involved new NXT come ups. Over the past couple of years, not counting the very recent debuts, we’ve seen Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Paige, Big E, Xavier Woods, Kalisto, The Wyatts, Adam Rose, Kevin Owens, Konnor and Viktor, Neville, Rusev and Lana, Sami Zayn, and Tyler Breeze. With the exception of The Miz, all of our current champions were pretty recently part of NXT. Emma returned to NXT and came back to the main roster even stronger. Whatever they’re doing with NXT is working, much better than the current formula for running the main roster, so maybe all these call ups and focus on former NXT talent is a sign that major changes are coming to how Raw and Smackdown talent are managed.
The part of Raw that I find difficult to look at in a positive light is when Roman Reigns came to the ring, which got four potential competitors fired up enough to warrant a main event. The Fatal 4-Way for the #1 Contender spot was beyond predictable; we need to stop creating main events based on who punches who during the first hour of Raw. That isn’t even the main issue here; the glaring problem with the Heavyweight title picture is the man who holds the title. Reigns returned after having his nose broken as an angry man who let his fists do the talking. And then, at WrestleMania, he returned to his fist-cocking, headbanging cartoon character existence. With AJ Styles as his next opponent, it’s clear that Reigns is meant to be a major heel, but that won’t happen if he keeps acting like everything is a joke. Godawful promos, making childish faces and overselling the simplest of motions make him look like a total fool. I want the audience to boo Reigns because he’s a successful heel, not because his character sucks and we’re tired of seeing him.
Reigns needs to drop the title at Payback and be removed from the title picture until he can get a grip on who he wants to be in the WWE. We need another contender to represent The Authority so that when Seth Rollins returns, he can go to war with Triple H. We have a lot of athletes who could easily step in and take this role on. If we’re stuck on having Styles as the new champ, he could easily align with The Authority and be their go-to guy for a while. Bray Wyatt would work in the sense that he could be used as The Authority’s wild card; uncontrollable but sharing the same mindset as they do, eager to take down anyone who steps in their way. Any member of the League of Nations also works. Because we don’t have to immediately set the stage for Rollins’ return, we can have Cesaro, Kevin Owens, or Brock Lesnar. Hell, Lesnar works for a rematch with Rollins since he was never pinned when he lost the title. There are a lot of possibilities and none of them require Roman Reigns to work.
Raw was an indication that new things are on the horizon and that new talent is at the forefront. The Bellas, once the go-to women for the female division, were not only pushed to the preshow of WrestleMania, but were entirely absent from Raw in order to make Brie’s retirement into a Total Divas story. The veteran twins don’t have a place at the top anymore, not when we have 3 of the 4 horsewomen on the main roster, with the 4th on her way up soon. We had multiple debuts with one more on the horizon, highlighting everything great about the younger talent in NXT. It’s easy to be frustrated with the current state of the WWE when you consider how lackluster WrestleMania was and how Raw didn’t hit our high expectations, but there seems to be a solid plan in place to turn things around and get us excited to watch wrestling again. Mania missed the mark, of that there is no doubt. Now is the time to change direction and ensure we focus on what works and what excites the fans. Get rid of Eva Marie and give us Bayley. Burn down the Roman Empire and let some fresh blood have a shot at holding the title. Give us the same unpredictability as you did when Zack Ryder won the IC title. Make us get excited about wrestling again. And for the love of all that is holy and good in the world, take a hint and stop trying to shove people down our throats when we are so strongly rejecting them.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Anybody who regularly follows this site knows how unhappy I was with WrestleMania. I’m actually looking forward to Monday Night Raw tonight to try and right the ship and do things properly. Mania did not at all deliver for my money. Let’s see if Vince and Company are capable of putting on a good show and dropping a few surprises along the way.
Vince McMahon kicks off the show, riding the high of his son’s defeat at the hands of The Undertaker. Vince says he has Shane’s lockbox and that he now has total control and nobody has any dirt on him. Shane McMahon comes out to a huge pop and has a giant bruise on the side of his face. Shane thanks the crowd and says goodbye. His music hits, but Vince cuts it off. Vince allows Shane to run the show just for tonight! Crowd goes ballistic.
The New Day enters and the crowd starts a “New Day Rocks!” chant, as they dance to their music. The Tag Team Championships are on the line! This is great, but why didn’t they do it last night? The League of Nations come down after a hilarious promo by New Day. Decent match. A better outing than last night by far. Barrett on his back to take the pinfall. New Day retains! Sheamus cuts on the mic and says, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Rusev and Del Rio grab Wade Barrett and he gets Brogue Kicked in the face. Bray Wyatt’s music hits and all hell breaks loose. What the hell? Sister Abigail on Sheamus. Crowd starts a “Thank You, Wyatt!” chant as he screams to follow the buzzards.
Summer Rae in the ring after the break. She insults Sasha Banks. The Boss comes out. Sasha slaps the hell out of Summer. Ref rings the bell. Bank Statement submission after a brief, sloppy match. Summer taps. Not much to report here.
Prince Pretty, Tyler Breeze, comes out with his selfie-stick and gets in the ring. Apollo Crews’ music hits! He’s having his Raw debut match. Breeze tries to steal the show, but Crews is too big, too fast, too strong. Spin Out Powerbomb ends this one in a couple minutes. Big win for the NXT call up!
Roman Reigns comes out, gets heavily booed. He says, “I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a good guy. I’m THE guy.” Which does not go over and he doesn’t sell it well. He says if anybody wants the title to come out. Jericho’s music hits. Y2J looks either high or really tired. He’s dressed like a hipster college kid with tight pants, a leather jacket and a shiny scarf. His voice is hoarse and he can barely be heard. This is a flat, cold, dead, boring segment. Jericho demands a title shot. AJ Styles interrupts. The crowd is not reacting to any of these three guys. But then Kevin Owens comes out and everybody loses their mind. Now business is picking up. Sami Zayn enters next. I guess Oprah is giving out title shots tonight. Owens/Zayn and Y2J/Styles all attack one another. Reigns makes some dumb face. Then he spears Jericho. After the break, Shane tells Reigns backstage all four men have a fatal four way for the main event. The winner gets #1 Contender to the world title.
Baron Corbin comes out. The announce team recaps the Battle Royal from Mania. He stands next to the Andre the Giant trophy. Hops on the mic. Says his arrival signals the end of days for anyone that stands in his way. Dolph Ziggler’s music hits. Ziggler gets destroyed for ten minutes. Ref stops the match after both men are counted out. Corbin continues beating Ziggler around the barricade and storms out.
Zack Ryder, the Intercontinental Champion, comes out. He thanks his dad. The Miz interrupts. Miz demands a shot at the title to prove last night wasn’t a fluke. Ref comes down and we have a match. Pretty solid match from both guys, Ryder puts on a good show in front of his pops. Miz starts shit with Ryder’s dad. He gets slapped. Miz’s wife jumps the barricade and slaps Ryder’s dad. Miz hits the skull crushing finale and it’s over. Miz wins the title!
Lita in the ring to formally present the WWE Women’s Championship to Charlotte. The champ comes out with Daddy Flair. Charlotte tries to give a sincere speech, but the crowd is not having it. They chant for Bayley. Charlotte tries to be a good heel but she fails. She certainly didn’t learn how to work a promo from her father. The women all walk out on Charlotte. All except Natalya who gets on a mic. She asks for a title shot. Charlotte says the title proves her family will always be better than the Hart family. Nattie attacks and Ric Flair saves his daughter. I doubt the title will be around Charlotte’s waste for too much longer.
The Usos and Dudleys go at it in a tables match. Dudleys are the first to get a table out, but The Usos take them out, jumping through the ropes. Crowd gets bored early, starts chanting for NXT wrestlers. Two tables get set up in the ring. Dudleys attempt a double powerbomb but the Usos counter. Usos try the same spot they did last night, but the Dudleys move and the Usos crash themselves through the tables, giving the Dudleys the win. Owens attacks Sami backstage and puts him through a table. Zayn is now out of the fatal four way.
Dudleys are still out in the arena. Enzo and Cass’s music hits. Finally. We’ve been waiting for these guys to move up for awhile. Crowd goes nuts. Enzo works the mic elegantly. Calls the Dudleys haters. Enzo kills the Dudleys on the mic, laying out insults to the crowd’s delight. Cass calls them out and the Dudleys fake getting into the ring, but cut tail and run. Crowd boos them. There’s only one word to describe them, and Cass is going to spell it out. S-A-W-F-T….SWAFTTTTTTT!
Main event time. Styles comes out, followed by Jericho and Kevin Owens. Instead of Sami Zayn, Cesaro is the 4th competitor. Good match. The crowd heavily into this one. All four men bring their a-game. Cesaro certainly hasn’t missed a step. Cesaro hits the Cesaro Swing and then locks the Sharp Shooter on Y2J, in honor of his former tag partner. AJ hits the Stles Clash and pins Jericho to become #1 Contender. What a strange, strange choice.
This Raw had a few bright spots, but it felt like it ran too long like WrestleMania did. Without the crowd, this would have just been another basic Raw. Styles vs Reigns does not set up anything very exciting. Ryder vs The Miz for the IC Title isn’t worth watching. Triple H wasn’t even there. After wasting seven hours yesterday, it felt like I just wasted three more hours tonight. I might have to DVR Raw next week so I can fast forward through it. Watching live just doesn’t have much appeal right now.
Article by Jamie Curtis 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
The Undertaker certainly has his work cut out for him tonight against Shane McMahon. Over the years, Shane McMahon has risked life and limb, pulling off death defying feats in big time matches. He has been a fearless competitor. Here is a brief list of some of his crazy moments.
WrestleMania 32 won’t be the first time Shane ‘o’ Mac and The Undertaker have faced off. At the 2000 King of the Ring event, there was a six man match for the WWF Championship. Involved were The Rock, Kane, The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Shane McMahon. During the match, Shane climbed the top rope to most likely do a frog splash onto a downed Rock in the middle of the ring. Instead, Undertaker climbed onto the apron, wrapped his hand around Shane’s neck and chokeslammed him off the top rope and into the announce table.
The previous year at King of the Ring, Stone Cold Steve Austin took on Vince and Shane McMahon in a 2-on-1 handicap match for control of the company. This match featured dozens of ladders. The high spot for Shane came when Austin threw Shane off of a ladder onto a table. In a surprise twist, the table didn’t break. So Austin leaped off the ladder, dropped an elbow on Shane and smashed him right through the wood. The McMahons would, of course, go on to win the match and keep control of the company. But it was another feather in the hardcore cap of Shane McMahon.
At WrestleMania X-Seven, Shane would take on his father, Vince after a failed WCW Invasion storyline where Vince in real life bought WCW. The match featured a sedated Linda McMahon, a curly haired Stephanie McMahon and the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley as the special guest referee. Shane took quite the beating at the hands of his father, but after Linda McMahon came back to life, low blowing Vince, Shane set his father up sitting in the corner with a steel garbage can pressed against him. Shane crossed the ring to the adjacent corner, climbed to the top rope, and jumped across the ring to kick the garbage can into his dad. It was a great feat of agility and cemented Shane as a main event player.
Shane’s biggest jaw-dropping moment came during SummerSlam 2000 against the “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman. This match was for the now defunct WWF Hardcore Championship. Shane got the brakes beat off him by Blackman throughout the match. Shane ran for his life, just trying to escape the wrath of his opponent. His flight from the ring took him up the ramp where he then climbed a steel support beam for the Titantron. Steve Blackman followed him up the pole, carrying a kendo stick with him. When he caught up with Shane, he clocked him multiple times in the legs and back. Shane McMahon went limp and fell straight down a good 40 feet (at least) to his fate below. The crowd went bananas and Jim Ross scream, “My god! Is there anything left of Shane McMahon?! Where did he land?!”
Much like his father, Shane McMahon has given his all to the business when it mattered. He never blinked and he never backed down, leaving us with many unforgettable moments in the ring. Tonight Shane takes on The Undertaker in the dreaded Hell in a Cell. You better believe he has some wild stunt planned that will leave a lasting impression long after AT&T Stadium clears out.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker