Tag Archives: brand split

Manopera! Episode 22: New Era or S.O.S.?

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Battling a rough bout with the hiccups, Chris and Spaceman Frank return with their thoughts on the WWE’s New Era (post-draft) in terms of how it’s doing so far, where it can go and why the “Broken” Matt Hardy gimmick may be the greatest thing going.

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Spaceman Frank’s WWE Battleground 2016 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

WWE Battleground 2016 is the first Pay-Per-View in the brand split 2.0 and the event promises to be…interesting, to say the least.

By booking every matchup before the draft, what was once considered a dream card is now a jumbled mess. With many opponents now on different brands, the WWE has given off the impression that they don’t know what they’re doing with the new rosters – which is definitely not where they want to be going into SummerSlam. There are no bad matches on the card, per se, but the company has given fans little reason to care. Spaceman Frank is here to sort out the mess and predict the results of Battleground 2016.

The Miz (c) w/ Maryse vs. Darren Young w/ Bob Backlund (Intercontinental Championship match)

Darren Young has finally returned to television with the ageless Bob Backlund as his manager by winning a battle royal in baffling fashion to earn his shot at The Miz’ Intercontinental Championship and if he wins, the title will be moving from SmackDown Live to Raw.

After a series of great title defenses from The Miz featuring some of WWE’s top talent, Young is a step down  by default. Unless the WWE plans on swapping the Intercontinental and United States Championships to different shows, there’s no reason for The Miz to cut short his great run as a d-bag champ.

Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs. Zack Ryder (United States Championship match)

The build has been slightly better for this match than the Intercontinental Championship match, with Rusev being a bully by accepting Ryders challenge after a sneak attack on the Long Island native. But once again, unless the titles are switching shows there is no way Rusev loses to the guy he has squashed repeatedly.

Becky Lynch vs. Natalya

The two new SmackDown! Divas are set to settle their differences at Battleground and the booking has mirrored the Zayn/Owens feud sans the massive amount of history and several match of the year candidates to back them up.

Build aside, if these two operate at their full potential they should be able to pull of a great match; although it’s bittersweet to settle a feud like this without a title involved. Natalya wins because she is overdue to win a feud after her series with Charlotte and can now cheat to go full-heel on the loveable Lass Kicker.

The New Day (c) vs. The Wyatt Family

This match (which is not for the Tag Team Championships) has been all about The Wyatts scaring Xavier Woods as well as the audience with their Final Deletion ripoff. The New Day survived the draft intact, while The Wyatts will split with Bray and Erick Rowan on Smackdown and powerhouse Braun Strowman on Raw (no word on my boy Luke Harper).

Since The New Day are still champs, they will win this match so they can stay strong while the WWE finds them a new team for them to feud with but not face for the titles.

Sasha Banks and TBD vs. Charlotte (c) and Dana Brooke

This showcase for the Raw women’s division has some buzz around it as people speculate who will be the mystery partner for Banks. Many are clamoring for Bailey to make her long awaited jump to the main roster, but it wouldn’t make sense for her to make her debut without being drafted beforehand.

I see the recently called up Nia Jax forming a team with Banks to give the newcomer a big boost right out the gate. Indeed, Banks and Jax will win the match so both can be contenders for Charlotte’s championship – whenever she gets around to defending it, that is.

John Cena, Enzo and Cass vs. The Club

The battle of divided teams sees Cena giving the rub to Enzo and Cass before he retreats to Smackdown Live versus The Club, who will be without A.J. Styles on Raw (although their New Japan pal and original Bullet Club leader Finn Balor will be waiting in the wings for them on Monday nights).

I see this match as a way to set up two different matches for SummerSlam: the most likely rematch between Cena and Styles and the logical Enzo and Cass vs.The Club. Since this is a tag match featuring Cena, I see him getting the win for his team by jobbing out one of the members of the Club (looking at you, Anderson) before a big beatdown to  set up the future matches.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

The alleged “final match” between these bitter rivals is set to be one of the best matches of the night and is easily one of the best built matches on the card as well. However, the WWE still managed to throw a few wrenches into this feud by having both men on the same show post-draft, meaning it is highly unlikely this is the actual “last match” for these two.

On a minor note, having this be a plain old singles match like the one they had at Payback instead of a No-DQ stipulation means this lacks the finality required for this feud. Since Zayn was drafted much higher than Owens and he has generally been on the losing end of the feud he will win out in the (so-called) end.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Championship match)

The dream match that has been derailed by poor booking and suspensions has an extra wrinkle with the brand split. Ambrose is the sole SmackDown! competitor and as the champ, he seems to have an advantage over the other two wrestlers. Rollins meanwhile, has been doing fantastic in his role of the scorned former champion who resents the so-called cheater Ambrose. In addition, he successfully navigated the Reigns dilemma by addressing it and trashing Reigns as only Rollins can.

The big problem here is the rumors that Rollins will win the title and feud with Reigns, who fans have turned against even more due to his suspension. Ambrose deserves a real shot with the belt and with Raw in need of a top championship this match will end with a screwball finish that leaves Ambrose as champ for the blue brand so Rollins and Reigns can have a separate feud for a new heavyweight championship on Raw.

Manopera! Episode 20: MITB 2016 – Suspensions and Speculations

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In light of Roman Reigns’ shocking suspension, our hosts break down the former WWE Champion’s possible return scenarios, review Money in the Bank 2016 and continue to speculate on the upcoming brand split.

Spaceman Frank’s Money in the Bank 2016 Predictions

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Official Money in the Bank 2016 poster. Credit: WWE.com

by Frank Lucci

Oh Money in the Bank. Considered to be on the level or just below the Big Four Pay-Per-Views (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series), oftentimes the event is one big tease.

We get excited over who gets the Money in the Bank contract and will most likely get a run with the WWE World Heavyweight title, but considering how recent winners have fared when they’ve actually cashed in (Sheamus, Rollins, etc.) it’s been either a blessing or a curse depending on the Superstar. With a whopping ten matches scheduled for this year’s event, this could be a down year for the PPV. Nonetheless, Spaceman Frank is here to predict what will happen at Money in the Bank 2016.

MITB Kickoff: The Lucha Dragons vs. The Dudley Boyz

A recent edition to the pre-show will feature the Dudleys again being wasted on another meaningless and directionless feud with a team that frankly should have broken up once Kalisto won the United States Championship. Neither team has done much and with a sudden influx of tag teams (none of whom seem to be doing anything significant other than The New Day and Enzo and Cass) there is no reason to care about this match. Can we get a continued singles run for Kalisto please? The Dudley Boyz will pick up the win because they are the veteran team and are due for a victory.

The Golden Truth vs. Breezango

For whatever reason this feud is still a thing. While I’m all for lower card guys getting storylines to work with, this has been stretching out two weeks of plot devices in what has felt like three years. Fandango should replace the recently released Adam Rose in the Social Outcasts and Tyler Breeze might as well join The New Day since he is a regular on Xavier Woods’ UpUpDownDown YouTube channel. Meanwhile, The Golden Truth has some potential as a veteran tag team with oddball personalities, but they can’t even get into the Fatal Four Way for the tag belts because of this atrocious angle. Breezango wins because somebody has to win and it might as well be the super handsome guys.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

On the plus side these guys have managed to get off the pre-show. On the negative side these guys are still stuck feuding. Either man could have spiced up the Money in the Bank ladder match, but instead we have to see the same match we’ve been watching since WrestleMania ended. Ziggler wins to finally end this and make him look strong in time for the brand split.

Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus

Yet another match featuring wrestlers thrown together with minimal story (at least this is a fresh pairing) because both men need something to do until the brand split. Crews has been getting the Breeze treatment since joining the main roster and Sheamus has done nothing even though he has a major role in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Rocksteady-err Sheamus wins because of said movie while Crews continues to just be happy he was invited to the party.

Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Natalya and Becky Lynch

Instead of having Charlotte defend her Womens Championship, she’s dealing with her new BFF Dana Brooke being a klutz of a partner while Nattie and Becky are just kind of there. Despite having a wide range of competitors to challenge for the title, this match exists as an extension of the never ending Charlotte vs. Nattie feud.

The WWE is currently very, very guilty of beating dead-horse storylines (see Ziggler and Corbin), maybe because the upcoming brand split but also probably due to laziness. Anyway, the Spaceman thinks Charlotte and Brooke pick up the win because Nattie can never have nice things.

The New Day (C) vs. The Club vs. Enzo and Cass vs. The Vaudevillians (Tag Team Championships Match)

This match should be pretty exciting based on the promos alone and each team can deliver in the ring. It would be nice if The New Day won out and carried the belts for a full year, but I don’t see that happening. Instead, The Club will walk away with the gold. For one, they’re the only tag team in the match without a fun side, making them a wildcard in this match. Second, with The New Day now as faces and the two recent NXT callups still finding their footing The Club is prime for a championship win. They need the titles to help make their group more legit and the epic New Day vs. Enzo and Cass feud that will eventually happen can take place without the championships being on the line.

Rusev (C) vs. Titus O’Neil (United States Championship Match)

An epic hoss fight, these two are capable of having a fun match that will probably be around seven minutes long. Many feared that O’Neil would be punished after his suspension, while others feared Rusev would be buried by a returning John Cena after his newfound title win.

Thankfully neither scenario seems to be the case. Rusev will keep the gold here, as I see this as a way for the WWE to test the waters on a Titus title run to see if he can take his awesome hot-tag fire and ignite a singles push. 

Then again, MITB takes place on Father’s Day. Would it not be a wonderful swerve if the WWE gave the 2015 Celebrity Dad of the Year award winner his first singles title instead of another tie?

Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Alberto Del Rio (Money in the Bank Ladder Match)

The marquee matchup of this event has been hampered somewhat by the fact that one: we’ve seen all the competitors (especially Zayn, Owens and Cesaro) have matches against each other on every single Raw and SmackDown! in the past few weeks and two: it seems unrealistic that anybody besides Ambrose or Owens will win the match.

Ambrose has flirted with the main event scene since The Shield broke up and winning the briefcase could help him finally ascend to the next level. Owens fits the bill of the classic sneaky heel Money in the Bank winner who can cash in on a wounded babyface. Overall, Ambrose fits the bill best and needs the briefcase more than anyone else.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

The WWE is fast-tracking this dream match, which I honestly thought would be a big-money SummerSlam encounter rather than a B PPV headliner. The battle between the two faces of two very different companies finally happens and people have been quick to assume that Cena will be the victor.

Both men have managed to sell this matchup solely on mic work and even more important we have not seen Cena job out The Club on Raw or SmackDown! (as he is known to do), thus preserving their status as game changers. Since this is the first encounter between the two icons, I see Styles taking this match for the OMG IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED pop (just like Owens’ clean win over the Cenation leader last year), leading to a bitter grudge match at SummerSlam.

Roman Reigns (C) vs Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match)
This match is heavily overshadowed by rumors that the top championship in the company will become two world titles due to the brand split. This is especially poignant considering that Rollins has been pretty justified in his rage towards Reigns, who he sees as an unworthy champion considering he never beat Rollins (who was forced to relinquish his title upon injury last year).

With the WWE continuously in a bind with Reigns as champ, having shenanigans occur during this match offers the company the chance to have their cake and eat it too. Some sort of DQ/non-finish will occur, giving WWE an excuse to split the titles and allow them to have Reigns be one champ while Rollins can hold the gold for the smark crowd on the secondary brand.

Manopera! Episode 18: Extreme Rules 2016 Ups, Downs and Brand Splits

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“Spaceman” Frank reveals his new “Dudley” inspired gimmick before he and Chris divulge into WWE Extreme Rules, the brand split returning and Money in the Bank possibilities.

Manopera! Episode 13: Pre-‘Mania Meltdown

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Chris and Frank are praying Wrestlemania 32 is anything but mediocre and you need to know why. Sit back and listen to their pre and post-‘Mania theories, Lucha Underground, the possibility of the “brand split” return and more.