Donate to our Patreon at www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.
In a mega-sized episode for a mega-sized show and fallout, Chris and the Spaceman discuss SummerSlam 2016.
Check out Chris’s post on the WWE Universal Championship here.
Chris and Spaceman Frank sound off on the “glorious” NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II in part 1 of their SummerSlam 2016 Spectacular.
It’s that time of the year where the weather is hot and the wrestling action is hotter (that’s right, I went there). The wrestling world has been abuzz after the WWE’s brand split and SummerSlam, the first Pay-Per-View of this new era.
Meanwhile, things continue to chug along on NXT. Despite losing some top talent (along with Mojo Rawley and the now suspended Eva Marie) in the Brand Split, buzz is high for the company’s return to the Barclays Center. Spaceman Frank is here to hopefully follow up on his perfect predictions for NXT TakeOver: The End with predictions for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2.
Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay
Do I even need to say who will win this? I have been waiting for Ember Moon (formerly Athena on the independent circuit) to debut for some time, and am subsequently predicting big things for her. Kay seems to be the frontrunner of the new crop of unheralded women the WWE has debuted on NXT, but there is no way she’s coming up the winner here. At least Kay can take comfort in the fact that she has some sort of personality a.k.a. she is allowed to talk on air.
No Way Jose vs. Austin Aries
While some may see this as a demotion for Aries (having faced the number one contender Nakamura at TakeOver: The End), NXT has played this feud fairly well. Aries finally initiated his heel turn to give Jose something meaningful. I had the feeling that if NXT did not give Jose something to sink his teeth into the fans would have turned on him, but giving him The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived prevents that.
Jose could have been a joke, but showing fire and initiative against the veteran has helped him develop what could have been a one-note character. That being said, Aries is going to win this one to humble the newcomer and help keep himself in line for title contendership.
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Bobby Roode
Roode has been killing it on the microphone, and has already made chicken salad out of chicken shit considering he alone built this feud with an opponent who’s apparently not allowed to talk in one week. Almas has quickly transitioned from the hot newcomer to just another guy in NXT, and now he’ll be the one jobbing to the next big newcomer. I have a feeling that the WWE sees money in Roode, and one day I hope to see him face off against Triple H. Until then perhaps an NXT title run is in store? Possibly even a quick call up?
The Revival vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)
After getting some sneaky wins over the champs, the longtime tag team finally get a shot at being them on a TakeOver program. The champions have been doing their thing for a while now, and this matchup seems natural considering there are few face tag teams in NXT these days. Many have been calling for Ciampa to turn on Johnny Wrestling after losing to him in the Cruiserweight Classic, which will likely happen at some point. I don’t see it happening at TakeOver, but instead on NXT TV (like Aries’ heel turn after The End). The Revival just got their titles back, and I don’t seem them losing them so soon after making history as the first-ever two time champs.
Asuka vs. Bayley (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
One of the most hyped matches of this TakeOver sees Bayley trying to recapture the magic of her previous NXT: Brooklyn match against the mighty Asuka. Asuka still remains undefeated, and I don’t see that changing in Booklyn. Bayley is well overdue for a callup, and her tease at Battleground hints that it’s coming sooner rather than later (like the night after SummerSlam, maybe?).
Asuka needs more time to adjust and fine tune her character to become either a face or heel, as right now it seems as though audiences don’t know whether to cheer or boo her. This may be because she is going after the top babyface in NXT’s history, but it makes more sense that Asuka wins and gives Bayley her big curtain call.
Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)
Joe has been on fire since winning the title, and he’s played against Nakamura’s swagger and craziness well. In particular, his reaction to the “got your nose” segment had me on the floor then praying Nakamura makes it out of Brooklyn with all his limbs. It’s tempting to say that Joe will keep his belt here to build to a rematch. It’s also likely the red-hot Nakamura wins the championship triumphantly to help Joe get to the main roster sooner as he continues to work on his English speaking skills. When push comes to shove, I believe Nakamura will win here after a brutal match that makes me wince several times in sympathy agony (great band name).
by Frank Lucci
After introducing the audience to the main players at the performance center in Orlando, Fla., we get an episode showing what it’s like to be at the bottom rung of NXT along with Dana Brooke working out and getting her eyelashes done. Oh and someone gets fired (drama!).
First is a quick recap of episode one and the title sequence is followed by the coaches discussing Devin Taylor’s progress. The general consensus is that she’s too fragile and has been overtaken by the other women. Coach Sara Amato makes a great face that screams “ehhhhhhhh” (I wish I could find a screenshot to do it justice). VP of talent development Canyon Ceman meets with Taylor and immediately drops the hammer on her. She seems to handle it well (all things considered) and Canyon does the usual corporate small talk that happens when people are let go (i.e: hold your head up high even though you failed). Ceman comes off as the suit that he is but WWE is a massive corporation after all. Taylor then has a final talking head where she says the WWE and her had different views of where she was in terms of development and says she did whatever they asked her to do well. Although she was an OK backstage personality, it would have been unlikely we’d see her as a wrestler and WWE has too many interviewers/announcers as it is.
After the depressing firing segment we get open tryouts. There are some familiar faces from Tough Enough (like Patrick Clark, even though they showed him for a second on the first episode. Get it together editing crew!). Tryouts start with squats which some people can’t even do right – which probably means you shouldn’t be trying out for the WWE or anything athletic for that matter. There are lots of random drills and such as Bloom admonishes the group for not counting together (to be honest, this is a lot like high school football practice). One random girl is forced to quit due to scoliosis, which WWE should have known about already. Basic bumping is next and Bloom makes fun of a chubby prospect doing the drills (way to call the kettle black there A-Train).
We then get our first real segment focused on an NXT superstar and it’s Dana Brooke. Basically, this is a long workout montage as Brooke refers to herself in the third person in her talking head interview (Really Dana??). She calls herself a “killer Barbie” and a dominatrix in the ring (because that’s not weird at all). All kidding aside, the best thing about this segment that she works out like a fucking machine and it’s easy to see why the NXT brass have faith in her. Her dedication is something to behold.
Bailey alert! Amato puts over Bailey (who she calls Pammy, dawwww) as one of her most dedicated students. Bailey talks about how she was super nervous when she first got to NXT and thought she made a mistake, but now she’s NXT Women’s champ. A short but well done segment.
ZZ from Tough Enough’s first day is shown as he arrives to the performance center with parents in tow. A quick recap of his Tough Enough days lead into Bloom reminding ZZ that he has to start training like an athlete. His dad, Diego Loupe (great name) deserves special mention for being super charismatic and it’s easy to see where ZZ got his charm. Of course, Tough Enough winner Josh sandbags ZZ’s arrival and points out his lack of work ethic (a constant theme of Tough Enough).
Back to the tryouts and Bloom puts the prospects through basic in-ring drills and a montage of his various gimmicks play to show his past “success” in WWE, followed by more yelling at newbies. Meanwhile, ZZ has trouble in the gym (which isn’t surprising), considering he is “outside strong” as he puts it and doesn’t do normal gym training. Good guys Mojo Rawley and Robbie Brookside give ZZ pep talks while reinforcing that he needs to show dedication every day in order to succeed.
Next we see that the performance center has a cheesy orientation video for new signees. Blown away to see cliche’ corporate culture in the WWE, The class is filled with Tough Enough people (along with my girl Asuka!). Bloom and Brookside give pep talks and Tyler Breeze, Bailey and Sami Zayn also give the new people a taste of what’s to come. It’s funny to see how the tryout people are run down and put to the test while this group watch a video and get inspirational speeches.
Day two of tryouts is more of the same. Bloom makes fun of a guy he calls “cream cheese” (again, Tensai has no right to make fun of overweight dudes) before Bloom and William Regal flip out when the prospects continually hop after making other mistakes during rolling drills (while their point is understood, it is a hard instinct to unlearn). Regal is also terrifying when mad, which is why he makes a great coach. He also uses the phrase “intellectually malnourished,” thus proving he is, in fact, super British.
Back to Dana Brooke, this time going out for a manicure/ treat yo-self session. She brings up the point that Divas are expected to look good and they must put in lots of work to maintain that image (damn you unrealistic standards of beauty!). Brooke also confesses that she worries about what she looks like on camera and is always trying to look good in case management is paying attention. She uses the phrase “on fleck” (which is not a phrase I thought real life humans used outside of the internet). New theory: Dana Brooke is a Cylon.
Day three of the tryouts is camera work, and the hopefuls try to show off their personalities to the coaches along with Ceman. While some prospects show up in ring gear and have characters mapped out, others are pretty clueless. One guys stutters through a promo in a t-shirt and jeans (seriously dude?? Put in some effort!). Another prospect gives a decent promo before Ceman chews him out for lying about always wanting to be in the WWE and not training for wrestling before the tryout (BURNNNNNN! CEMAN’S COLD BLOODED, YO!). Cheesecake blows his interview until he does the worm (hey, it worked for Scotty 2 Hotty). One prospect bares her soul during her promo about her journey here and blows everyone out of the water. She, along with Cheesecake and a few others get the OK from the coaches, but Cold Blooded Ceman reveals that the prospects still need to pass a background check and get approval from Triple H before being signed.
ZZ is shown goofing around during drills, which rubs Brookside and some rookies the wrong way. While it’s immature of him, it’s easy to forget ZZ is only 19 and this is his first experience with this level of professionalism (unless alligator wrestling is a much more formal job then it appears to be).
The last part of the episode is Brooke struggling to take a swinging throw from Nia Jax while other girls take it well. She really wants to sandbag while in the air instead of commiting. Coach Amato says that if she can’t get better in the ring she will be let go like Taylor (DAMN!). She’ll be just fine.
Overall, the second episode flows better than the first due to having to deal with less exposition. Taylor being let go was a downer way to start the episode, but seeing what an NXT tryout is like is pretty cool. Unfortunately, episode two doesn’t sell Dana Brooke very well with some of her segments dragging a bit. ZZ is charming as usual, and if you liked Tough Enough this is a good extension of that type of show. However, more NXT superstars appearing in the future would be appreciated.
by Frank Lucci
WWE Breaking Ground offers a glimpse (through the WWE’s filter) of what it’s like to be a professional wrestler in their developmental system.
One of the better original programs on the WWE Network, the show focuses on many different talents at various stages of their training, from NXT top dogs like Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze to newbies like Tino Sabbatelli and Nhooph.
Some quick general notes on the series as a whole: the music is decent (especially the opening theme) until Shinedown kicks in. William Shatner does a commendable job of narrating, as he is able to convey emotion well without getting bombastic. The biggest gripe with the show is some segments that are clearly there to put over WWE policies or really contrived segments to get people’s characters over (save that for NXT). Also the WWE plays fast and loose with the timeline of the show. For example, two wrestlers are let go on the same day in real life, but on the show they look like they happened weeks apart.
Episode one opens up with a Triple H monologue (shocker) about how difficult the journey to the WWE is and how special the NXT performance center is. It’s a good way to open the show for people unfamiliar with the WWE, especially with Breaking Ground being the good gateway to NXT and wrestling in general for new fans.
Next up is Bailey, who gets in her car and does nothing else for the whole episode (at least we see that she drives a modest looking vehicle). Then we get Tough Enough winner Josh Bredl showing up to sign his contract and begin his first day. After a montage of Wrestlemania footage, we see NXT trainees doing drills while coaches yell at them.
Do not anger Matt Bloom.
We then meet TIno Sabbatelli, a former NFL safety recovering from a concussion after his second match ever. Here we see the WWE put over their concussion protocal pretty hard. While concussions are no joke, it’s easy to see why the WWE included this due to their ongoing concussions lawsuits. Sabbatelli comes off as a bro but does not really strike people as someone to get invested in.
Baron Corbin is introduced next in a very in-character way. They put over his football and boxing backgrounds as well as his lone wolfness. He also rides a motorcycle, but without a helmet. Seriously, how counter productive is it to ride a motorcycle without any sort of protection when your job depends 100 percent on you staying healthy?
Switching over to the ladies we get a brief introduction to trainer Sara Amato and Nhooph, the youngest NXT Diva at age 19. Nhooph discusses stealthily getting wrestling training at age 16 and wanting to have her first televised NXT match. This is immediately followed by her struggling to take a hip toss. Devin Taylor also struggles to pick up wrestling after being a backstage interviewer for most of her two years at the performance center. During Taylor’s training we get a Nia Jax cameo. Taylor has had a history of injuries and there is plenty of foreshadowing here for what happens later.
Bloom reveals that Corbin gets huffy when other people get opportunities ahead of him (you’ve only been in the business three years, calm down). In a related note, Corbin burned his face trying to do a standing moonsault (???!!!). Apollo Crews (who can actually do that) is briefly seen in footage showing his background that was recycled from NXT. Sabbatelli shows up once again to put over the concussion protocol. Besides being a bro, the dude does not have much of a personality. He does have a nice vertical leap though, so there is that.
William Regal shows up and immediately steals the show. He’s seen coaching interviews and character stuff, showing exactly why he is the best man for the job. Even his talking head segments are amazing. Regal gives several memorable lines about teaching the fine points of being a character before we see pretty much every single embarrassing thing WWE had him do over his career. We then get a quick montage of people working on interviews, with Mojo Rawley giving the best performance. His “knock you out with a pair of flip flops” line is great.
Corbin and coach Norman Smiley are besties and travel to a live event together. This needs to be a spinoff show asap.
The roster sets up the ring for the live show and Bailey is bringing in chairs (good to see even the champs pitch in). Rawley bothers Corbin while he eats a salad, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. Corbin is also annoyed that the rundown of the card takes awhile to show his lone wolfness again. Nhooph isn’t on the card, which makes her a sad panda. Izzy the Bailey superfan gets a cameo and the show puts over Bailey being a hard worker and still being blown away that she is champ.
We finally see some in-ring action from a live show. However, the next day Nhooph finds out her match at another live show got cut. This is pretty terrible, but considering she recently made her NXT TV debut it looks like she will be just fine. Coach Bloom and Amato talk about Taylor and if they honestly think she can handle being a wrestler.
Cue the evil villain music it’s Canyon Ceman. The WWE executive is in the house to make some roster cuts. Breaking Ground makes it seem like Taylor, Nhooph, and Sabbatelli are on the chopping block and the episode ends on a cliffhanger over who is going to get the axe.
Overall, the first episode is decent, but suffers a bit due to having to introduce all the various personnel involved and the fact that Corbin is the only guy on TV (besides Bailey and Crews who have maybe two minutes of combined airtime on Breaking Ground) that is focused on during the episode. The cliffhanger at the end is obvious to anyone who follows NXT, as (spoiler) Devin Taylor was released less than two weeks before the episode premiered. Regardless, the episode one is a good watch that sets up Breaking Ground well.
Chris and “Spaceman” Frank review WWE in 2015 and tackle the topic of whether or not the Roman Reigns experiment will pan out or if the WWE is just simply trying too hard to make him a John Cena clone.