In the final edition of Manopera of the year, Chris and “Spaceman” Frank analyze WWE TLC 2015 and NXT TakeOver: London.
In the final edition of Manopera of the year, Chris and “Spaceman” Frank analyze WWE TLC 2015 and NXT TakeOver: London.
By Frank Lucci
I could start this prediction article with yet another tirade about how poorly the WWE has booked their programs and how the lazy writing from the creative team has made what should be an exciting Pay-Per-View into another mediocre event. Instead, I’ve decided to list three positives to keep in mind while watching TLC.
With this in mind, here are Spaceman Frank’s TLC 2015 predictions.
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger – Chairs Match for the United States Championship
With a stairs match no longer able to provide people with a bathroom break, the WWE has reverted to having the Chairs match as the least hyped match on the PPV.
Alberto Del Rio has done nothing since returning to the WWE, despite beating John Cena clean for the championship, being managed by Zeb Coulter, joining the already ill-fated League of Nations stable and then (thankfully) ditching Coulter. With Swagger having the same amount of momentum as his opponent (aka zero) and an awkward stipulation to work in, this match is sure to disappoint. I see no reason for Del Rio to lose the belt here or anytime before Cena returns.
The ECW Originals (Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno) vs. The Wyatt Family(Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) – Elimination Tag Team Tables Match
It is a sad state of affairs when it is disappointing that Spike Dudley is not booked into a feud. ECW reunions are played out beyond belief, but yet again we got to see the four or so semi-functional originals trotted out for a nostalgia pop. The Dudleys have fallen off the map hard since their return over the summer and the Wyatt Family has not fared much better.
That being said, much of the talent in this match should make this an entertaining affair as long as creative does not overbook things. I also like that we finally get all the members of the Wyatt Family involved in a PPV match and Rhyno has shown in NXT that he can still go.
My biggest issue is with Dreamer’s involvement with the match. Dreamer is a veteran performer and is still a decent hand in the ring, but the man has a lengthy history of concussions. Why the WWE would book him into a match that involves massive dudes throwing each other into tables yet Daniel Bryan cannot be booked in any capacity in the WWE despite being medically cleared by independent neurologists is beyond me. With so little star power on Raw and Smackdown these days, Bryan would be a welcome addition to the show as a wrestler, authority figure or even a manager.
Back to the actual match now. With both the Wyatt Family and the Dudley’s hurting for a win this match will be hard to call. I believe the Wyatt Family will pull out a win by taking advantage of the part timers on the ECW team along with the fact that they are massive fucking dudes.
Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Paige – Divas Chapionship Match
It’s mind boggling how badly the WWE has botched this feud. Since creative can’t decide what to do with Charlotte, I would not be surprised to see her turn heel on both Paige and her dad, then immediately turn face and join The New Day for five minutes before forming a new faction with Bo Dallas and Barry Horowitz called “The Charleston Chews.”
Anyway, Charlotte seems to be set to give in to her inner Flair and cheat her way to victory. This would be much more impactful if Becky Lynch was her opponent for the title instead of Paige, who seemed to appear out of nowhere to challenge Charlotte. A placeholder feud between two talented women, Charlotte will retain and most people will remember the likely heel turn more than the in ring action.
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) – Tag Team Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
Perhaps the best reason to watch TLC, this match seeks to emulate classic ladder matches between several teams and should give these hungry high flyers ample opportunity to steal the show. Granted, the booking leading into the match has been bland besides The New Day’s usual shenanigans, but considering the talent and exciting stipulation here fans can expect some fireworks. The New Day will retain and hopefully get even more chances to get ridiculous on Raw.
Kevin Owens (C) vs. Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Championship Match
Another potential show stealing match pitches two savvy grapplers against each other for the IC belt. While the pair’s Survivor Series match disappointed, this can be chalked up to the tournament forcing Ambrose to save his energy for his later match. Owens and Ambrose have had a chance to develop chemistry since their previous encounter. If given the right amount of time, these two can definitely give fans something to cheer about and remind people why we enjoy wrestling in the first place. Owens retains and keeps the feud alive for another PPV.
Sheamus (c) vs. Roman Reigns (TLC match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
WWE almost had me getting behind Sheamus as champion. His Sheamus 5:15 gimmick and his braggart style was fairly entertaining and showed why he was more deserving of the title than Reigns. In addition, him forming the League of Nations using several underutilized wrestlers almost had me thinking the internet wrestling community might back him. Then on the go-home Raw before TLC, the WWE booked Sheamus to look pathetic and revealed they have little faith in the man.
The only person looking worse than Sheamus is Reigns, who delivered yet another terrible promo that revolved around casual racism and testicle jokes. And yet WWE still wants us to view Reigns as a sympathetic character despite the fact that:
Out of 13 total PPV’s in 2015, Reigns has been in the main event seven times. It is time to end the experiment and for WWE to realize that Reigns simply is not main event material at this time. During this time of record low ratings the WWE cannot hope that the mixed reaction Reigns gets will somehow morph into a John Cena style pop (as there is no time to wait for Reigns to figure it all out while ratings tank).
With Cena, at least respect is there. As far as Reigns is concerned, he is headlining the majority of the year’s PPV’s and cannot gain any traction with fans. It was very telling that Reigns got jeers instead of cheers when shown crying after Survivor Series. Even worse is that WWE has sacrificed Sheamus (who could have used his upcoming role in TMNT 2 to gain a new level of popularity and mainstream recognition while being champ) to try to get us to feel bad for a bland guy who gets yet another chance at the gold.
Sadly enough, I see Reigns winning to end the Sheamus experiment and Brock Lesnar finally coming back at the Royal Rumble to set up a WrestleMania rematch between the two.
By Frank Lucci
The WWE has managed to sneakily put together a pretty stacked card for Night of Champions, and on paper this pay-per-view has the potential to be one of the best of 2015. However, the key words in the previous sentence is “on paper,” and the company could ruin any of these exciting matchups faster than you can say exploding monitors (seriously, did we ever see that thing ever again?). Anyway, on to Spaceman Frank’s Night of Champions 2015 predictions.
Preshow match: The Lucha Dragons and Neville vs. Cosmic Wasteland (Stardust and the Ascension)
Can Stardust, Neville, R-Truth and King Barrett form a group called The Protectors of the Preshow and just be done with it? The WWE does not seem willing to push these wrestlers higher up the card despite the four doing the best with the scraps they are given. WIth Neville winning at Summerslam I see Stardust and his new henchmen getting the win in what can be a very exciting match. Hopefully then all those involved can find a more worthy spot on the card (Cosmic Wasteland harassing Rybak and Neville challenging for the US Championship with an actual storyline attached would be grand).
Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev (with Summer Rae)
So Rusev is a heel because he dumped his girlfriend, shacked up with a new girl (who looks suspiciously like the old girl, least we know he has a type), and then acts like a pig. Ziggler on the other hand is clearly the face cause he…um…makes out with a dude’s ex in front of him and and dresses like a bully from any 80’s movie ever? Sure why not. With Lana hurt and a mixed tag match seemly not gonna happen, hopefully this feud between Eskimo brothers dies after this and everyone can move on. My prediction: Damien Sandow shows up, gets both girls, and struts out of the building like a boss. Real Prediction: Rusev wins and starts regaining some of the momentum he had as US Champ.
Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and TBA vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Braun Strowman)
The last of the matches at Night of Champions to not have a title involved, this match largely depends on the mystery man joining Ambrose and Reigns. With names such as Randy Orton, Jimmy Uso, and a returning Erik Rowan being thrown out along with surprises such as Chris Jericho and The Rock(!!!), this is the match that could be a dark horse or a flop. If the sixth man lives up to the hype and everyone does their part this could be a very good match. On the other hand, if the live crowd turns on the mystery man and the shenanigans that seem to follow Wyatt leak into this match this could be a major disappointment. Look for the Wyatt Family to sneak out a win after the Summerslam loss (barring a major surprise return) and perhaps a six man tag Hell in a Cell match?
The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, and/or Xavier Woods) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) (WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day simply are the best reason to watch WWE’s weekly programming, but the Dudley’s have been red hot since they returned the Raw after Summerslam. The champs deserve to retain based on their stellar work, and with Woods most likely waiting on the outside to cause a distraction or perhaps use the trombone as a foreign object to cause the DQ it is probable they will. That being said, the WWE might want to strike while the iron is hot with the boys from Dudleyville, and either outcome will be welcome to me. With all the talent involved this may sneak in as best match of the night.
P.S TRICEP MEAT YO
Ryback vs. Kevin Owens (Intercontinental Championship Match)
With the WWE giving the least amount of hype out of the four championship matches to this match, it is hard to feel as much excitement for Owen’s chase of the IC belt as the US belt. The sad part is that Ryback has been doing well as champ, and it will be interesting to see if Ryback can build upon his momentum with an opponent that will force him to step up as oppose to an opponent that is largely immobile and sweats gallons after five minutes (cough). Bet on Ryback retaining in a decent match that will most likely be the best match for Ryback as champ and Owen’s worst pay-per-view match since joining the main roster.
Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte (Divas Championship match)
With the DIva’s Revolution stalling, this match needs to deliver. Now that all the drama surrounding if Nikki Bella would become the longest reigning Divas Champ of all time is in the books, it seems likely the WWE legitimizes the revolution with Charlotte winning. However, despite the Bella’s not being able to retain via DQ Team Bad may interfere or a member of PCB (cough Paige cough) could cost Charlotte her chance at the title. At this point i would be happy to see the three teams disband to pursue the title individually to keep things fresh, as there is only so many times the teams can face each other with nothing on the line and keep things interesting.
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (US Championship match)
Keeping with the theme of “this could be good unless the WWE writers screw this up” this match could be good…unless the WWE writers screw this up. With Jon Stewart out of the picture these two could have a stellar match with a much cleaner finish, especially if my pick to win John Cena walks away with the belt. WIth Rollins having to work two matches the quality could be down somewhat, but with Captain Crossfit and his bag of tricks nobody will notice if he saves some energy for later. Cena winning is almost guaranteed considering Rollins seemingly giving two shits about the secondary title and Cena being who he is, but the journey should be fun.
Seth Rollins vs. Sting (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)
Will Sting become the oldest champ in WWE history? Will Sheamus cash in? If he does, who will be champ? Will Ric Flair betray Sting after hitting his head and waking up thinking it is 1995 again? Will Triple H slap Sting with a bill for the destroyed statue? All these questions could be answered Sunday night. Rollins winning seems likely, but if the WWE decided to either A) give Sting a win and put him in the history books as one of their champs or B) have Sheamus cash in and walk out champ to try and drum up interest in the product during football season could very well happen. The crowd will certainly be into this match to start, but if Sting shows his age or if Rollins is fatigued from working two matches this could be a Taker vs. Lesnar situation. Expect decent but underwhelming work with most of the interest with what happens post-match rather than what happens during the match.