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Spaceman Frank’s Elimination Chamber Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

The first SmackDown! Live solo live special feels like a nice little Pay-Per-View. It does not feel like a huge deal, but considering this is a stepping stone to WrestleMania WWE has done a good job in two weeks to make this a worthy watch. WWE has noticeably focused on having multiple women matches, which is smart because the Smackdown women’s division is one of their biggest strengths. Throw in MY BOY LUKE HARPER getting a shot at Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton and this event has Spaceman Frank salivating. Here are my Elimination Chamber 2017 predictions!

Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins (Kickoff Time-Filler Spectacular)

This match came about in about 40 seconds when Hawkins made fun of Patriots tight end/Buffalo native Rob Gronkowski, who is buddies with Mojo. WWE put about 87 seconds of thought into this, so I will do the same. Unless Gronk shows up, I do not care. Mojo wins because Hawkins has the heat of ice cream at this point.

Nikki Bella vs. Natalya

These ladies have done a good job of imitating Nikki’s last feud with Carmella, with the two ladies just brawling 24/7 to protect Nikki’s allegedly hurt neck. With the Bella sister rumored for a tag match with her man John Cena for WrestleMania as well as time off/retirement rumors, it is likely Natalya will be eating the pin here. While Nattie Ice has been better as a heel, I really want her to cart out Tyson Kidd to give him something to do as well as coach her on how to do his NXT gimmick so she can actually succeed.

Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James

Another grudge match sees Lynch stepping away from the title picture to take on the returning veteran Mickie James. James looks amazing and is a much needed shot in the arm for the division, and Raw needs a similar vet to come back to mix up the division and get some new matchups on television. However, I do not see James as SmackDown! Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss’ henchwomen for long, and I would like to see her in the title picture sooner rather than later. Mickie wins in what is essentially a toss-up for The Spaceman.

American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) (c) vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze) vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) Tag Team Turmoil Match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships

Well that is a busy headline, isn’t it? The SmackDown! Live tag team scene has been a hot mess, and the fact that we do not get a PPV American Alpha vs. Wyatt Family match speaks volumes on where the WWE sees the division currently. Not that I don’t think this will be fun, but besides when new champs are crowned, there has been little to latch onto between all these teams. American Alpha is the best team out of all of these guys, and I do not think there is any reason for them to lose anytime soon. Can we get a champ vs. champ tag team match between Raw and SmackDown! at ‘Mania to give these guys something significant to do? Alpha wins because AMERICA.

Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Naomi (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

Naomi gets another shot at the belt after her previous push was halted due to injury. I appreciate the continuity, and her split-legged moonsault is a thousand times better than the bum to the face. Naomi is not bad by any means, but she does not scream “champion” to me. If it wasn’t for my obsession with Total Divas I would have a zero read on her personality. Bliss is simply too good to lose the belt now, and should carry the belt to Mania. Bliss wins and gives us even more gifs of resting Bliss face for the internet to enjoy.

Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton

IT’S WESTERN NEW YORK’S MAIN EVENT! Seriously it is crazy to me that a guy I use to live ten minutes away from is wrestling the Royal Rumble winner in a PPV match before WrestleMania. Harper has been on fire since Orton joined the Wyatts, and I really, really hope he does well here. The crowd seems to be buying into his babyface push too, which has me hoping he can get to the next level and sneak into the Intercontinental title scene or even further. After all, the best way to get him to show true babyface colors is to get him a real shirt and trim his facial hair. As much as I am incredibly bias towards Harper…he is here to lose. Furthermore, he is here to do an abbreviated blow off towards his feud with Randy so Orton can move on to ‘Mania mode. Much like my house show experience when Harper would get his 15 minutes of hero worship in Rochester, he will take on a big name, get an incredible near fall, and then eat the pin.

John Cena (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin vs. Bray Wyatt (Elimination Chamber Match for WWE Championship)

There’s lots to break down here, so I’ll just go from who I think has the least chance to win to the most chance to win. To start, Dean Ambrose is already Intercontinental champ (I was really hoping Harper would get the nod here to add a bit more drama to the match, but the above singles match works also). Ambrose is here to start the match first, provide several hardcore spots for the crowd and then get eliminated 40 minutes in.

The Miz is here to set up his ‘Mania match with John Cena (if the rumors are true), probably by pinning the champ in a shocking twist. I’m fine with main event Miz at this point, but he’s not getting the belt. I just said Cena will get pinned by Miz, and it would be insanity for him to face Orton at Mania considering they just had their 21st match against each other on SmackDown! last Tuesday.

A.J. Styles is a wild card as he has history with lots of these dudes but no solid direction going forward. He and Baron Corbin seem like runners up for this match, and it would actually be kind of cool to see these guys face off. I am not completely sold on the rumored ‘Mania match between Styles and Shane McMahon, and Corbin deserves better than getting dumped into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, so why not have these dudes beat the piss out of each other at the Grandaddy of ’em All?

That leaves Bray Wyatt, who is the obvious and smartest choice to win. Sometimes the best choice is the clear choice, and Orton vs. Bray for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania feels right. It’s about time Wyatt gets singles gold, and after years of being the guy main eventers beat up between title shots, he deserves a chance to be the head honcho. Wyatt wins and we get some good television for the next few weeks.

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Spaceman Frank’s WWE Backlash Predictions

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Several months after the brand split we get our first official WWE brand exclusive Pay-Per-View, the revived Backlash.

It’s interesting to see how WWE presents these new types of PPVs and if they decide to shorten the length of brand exclusive events, or keep on steamrolling fans with three plus hour shows (not including the pre-show).

Despite splitting the roster, the WWE still seems to have trouble focusing on building up storylines properly (at least the video editing department will always be there to salvage the build and make us care about the matches right before they actually start). With the usual mix of trepidation and vague hope as most Pay-Per-Views, Spaceman Frank is here to predict Backlash 2016.

The Usos vs. The Hype Bros (Qualifying match for SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals)

While the WWE Universe may not have Roman Reigns turning heel, at least we finally get The Usos turning into bad guys and attacking American Alpha. The tag team tournament may be the best booked part of Smackdown, and the WWE has made sure that the fans have a reason to care about three out of the four teams that were in the semifinals of the tournament. The lone exception being The Hype Bros, who will be losing to the hot Usos team so they can advance to the obvious finale of them vs. Slater and Rhyno. Speaking of that match…

Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Usos (SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match)

Heath Slater may be the 2016 version of Damien Sandow in that he turned crap into gold. His “free agent” gimmick has worked well, and the crowd is actually behind his antics with his perfect foil Rhyno. I went from having zero confidence WWE could pull this off to rooting for Slater to actually get the belts with his new buddy. It would be amazing if all of the Slater clan is at ringside for this match (please do this WWE). That being said, I see The Usos winning the tournament to set up the obvious Usos vs. American Alpha rematch for the belts down the line.

The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship Match)

The Miz is an interesting case in the WWE. The guy has nailed his character and has recently been pure fire on the mic. However, WWE has dropped the ball with giving him feuds people actually care about. After Apollo Crews lost at SummerSlam, we have another big disappointment from the show in Ziggler as his next opponent. I like Ziggler (I even named my Fantasy Football team Team Zigglypuff), but his big chance to break out on SmackDown has fallen flat. The Miz needs somebody he can actually play off of who can carry his half of the build (Heath Slater vs. The Miz anyone???) Anyway, The Miz wins because that seems to be the default option for The Miz in these types of feuds.

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch (Six-Pack Challenge for SmackDown Women’s Championship)

This match is interesting in that it will reveal who the WWE brass has faith in going forward. Carmella has been targeting Nikki Bella, which makes me think the former champ takes down the rookie quickly. Alexa Bliss and Naomi have been background characters, and while they are decent in the ring it seems as though they’re there just to make up the numbers. Natalya may be the dark horse here, but she and Becky Lynch will take each other out because of their history. That leaves Nikki Bella as the last women standing, as she can help establish the belt and give the veteran something to do moving forward.

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

Another month, another meaningless Bray Wyatt feud. The poor guy cannot get any traction, and now he gets fed yet again to somebody coming off a major match. At this point I’m desperate for him to actually go for the title, because this gateway to the main event place he is in for years is wasting a great talent (maybe we’ll get Luke Harper making his return?). Orton wins to regain his momentum and Wyatt just farts around as he does.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. AJ Styles (WWE Championship Match)

This is the saving grace of Backlash. I can’t see this match being poor in any way. Sure the build has been pretty bad, especially with Dean Ambrose acting like an apathetic teenager the whole time (We saw you cry when you won the title at Money in the Bank Dean, we know you care!). AJ Styles on the other hand is having one of the best years anyone has had in wrestling, and considering how hot he is I see him winning the championship in an awesome match. This will setup both rematches with Ambrose as well as John Cena, as I see him and Styles going at it again, but with gold on the line.

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.

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.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Extreme Rules 2016 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

It’s the time of the year where WWE gets as extreme as the PG rating will allow, and the company is trying to carry some momentum into the critical Summer season.

The second Pay-Per-View of May, Extreme Rules is wedged between Payback and Money in the Bank (which has essentially become the Royal Rumble of the Summer). Throw an NXT TakeOver special into the mix and it would have been understandable for the WWE to sit on their laurels and phone it in for Extreme Rules (TakeOver won’t be happening until June 8). However, the influx of new talent has made the WWE and Raw in particular much better since WrestleMania. While there have been some hiccups, Extreme Rules has the potential to be a very good show.

Kickoff: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin (No Disqualification Match)

At Payback, Ziggler managed to get the sneaky pin on The Lone Wolf, but all signs point to Corbin getting the win here. While falling short in their previous pre-show match, Corbin has been very aggressive since his debut and needs a decisive win  to help put him over with casual fans who missed his NXT work and his ‘Mania victory in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Ziggler can make anybody look like a million bucks, but after doing the favors for Corbin he can hopefully go back to being main event cannon fodder.

The New Day (c) vs. The Vaudevillians (WWE Tag Team Championships Match)

The New Day remains one of the most entertaining elements of WWE, but they’ve lost a step since becoming full-blown babyfaces. For one thing, losing at ‘Mania to a faction that no longer exists and not having a match at the following Pay-Per-View doesn’t help. Secondly, not being squirrely jerks anymore means they can’t fully commit to being the perfect trolls we fell in love with.

While The Vaudevillians are doing far better than most expected on the main roster, they’re potentially tag team filler while Enzo Amore recovers from his scary concussion at Payback. The New Day retains in a good match.

Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev (United States Championship Match)

With Ryback seemingly on his way to being “future endeavored,” Kalisto has found a new massive monster trying to capture his title.

The better half of the Lucha Dragons has become the master of making something out of nothing, as his U.S. championship run has consisted of him pulling off great matches with little build. He pushed Ryback to new heights with his downright amazing moves and Rusev’s own freak athleticism has me almost thinking this could be the sleeper hit of the night (if only we could get a real effort from the WWE to promote the U.S. title again like last year).

Kalisto gets the win:  50% based on Rusev being a recent lame duck and 50% is me holding out for Sin Cara to betray Kalisto and challenge for the title before he sinks too far into the Jannetty realm.

The Usos vs. The Club (Tornado Tag Team Match)

First off: THE CLUB??? THAT’S THE BEST WWE CAN DO??? A million different options and the WWE decide to make Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson sound like they go to AJ Styles’ basement and drink mojitos while playing Team Fortress 2.

Since their debut, the two have been losing a disturbing amount to Roman Reigns (which is understandable given that he’s champ) and The Usos (who have not done shit all year) all well acting as pawns to the larger Styles/Reigns feud. That being said, they have been putting on good matches (albeit mostly reruns) and I see them winning at Extreme Rules to add more intrigue to the main event. 

Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya (Women’s Championship Submission Match – Ric Flair is banned from ringside)

After the frankly downright embarrassing ending to their Payback match, these two women are facing off again with the added stipulation that Charlotte’s father Ric Flair is banned from ringside (presumably Nattie’s uncle Bret Hart does not need to be banned from ringside since he openly didn’t want to be at Payback and therefore wouldn’t be caught dead at ringside for the rematch).

It’s easy to forget that this is the third PPV match between the two (if you count Roadblock) and WWE has made some questionable moves such as Ric saying he doesn’t think his daughter can win without him (watch out Titus we got a new father of the year here) and THE FUCKING SCREWJOB FINISH IN 2016. I will scream if Charles “Little Naitch” Robinson is again the referee for this match. Charlotte wins because we all know her versus Sasha Banks is going to happen.

Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose (First-Ever Asylum Match)

Strait out of WCW it’s the debut of the Asylum Match! This twisted match (that can only be won by pinfall or submission) features weapons lined all along the top of the cage, giving it a unique flavor beyond typical vanilla cage matches. The problem is that a) this is the PG era and b) Jericho is unlikely to take big bumps this late in his career. Add in WWE’s desperate attempt to show how “ka-raaay-zee” Dean Ambrose is and this will be a well worked match that is instantly forgettable.

The Miz (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens (Fatal Four-Way Intercontinental Championship Match)

While many are disappointed the Owens vs. Zayn feud is not getting a true Extreme Rules continuation, the addition of Cesaro and The Miz has been done very well. Merging the two separate feuds makes sure this will get the proper time on the PPV and lead to a stellar match.

Everyone has played their parts well and special mention goes to The Miz for being the perfect smarmy Hollywood champion (along with his equally perfect real-life wife Maryse) who has shown his ability to hang with three of the biggest indy darlings in the WWE.

The only wrinkle in the buildup is the WWE insisting that we see these four go at it over and over again – meaning this actual match between the four already feels like it has been going on for several months rather than weeks. This is a toss up, so I will say The Miz retains due to some type of Maryse related shenanigans.

Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles (Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Since Payback the WWE has continued to play it smart with these two. Styles has been pushed into acting more aggressive and gelling with Gallows and Anderson, but only after several beatdowns from Reigns and The Usos. This is essentially the match we should have gotten at Payback, seeing as that one eventually became a “No DQ” anyway.

Styles is more of a natural underdog here, but if The Club takes out The Usos earlier I see a situation where he is given a chance to go full heel but refuses, leading to his defeat once again. Seeing this, The Club then turns on their friend for being weak – instantly making Styles the white-meat babyface the company desperately needs.

As for Finn Balor, it seems like talk of him jumping to the main roster has cooled, so I doubt he will be much of a factor here. On top of that, Balor is scheduled to face Samoa Joe inside a steel cage at the next NXT TakeOver event (making his arrival at Extreme Rules even more unlikely).

With Reigns vs. John Cena rumored for SummerSlam and Styles a prime candidate for a Money in the Bank win I see Reigns keeping his championship in a big brawl.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Payback 2016 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

With WrestleMania 32 in the books, the WWE has wisely decided to switch Payback and Extreme Rules around on the Pay-Per-View calendar; or at least it would have been if WWE had booked more WrestleMania rematches instead going with fresh feuds (with only two feuds receiving a continuation from previous events).

Semantics aside, this Pay-Per-View has an exciting vibe to it due to those new rivalries and Payback could make up for a lackluster ‘Mania if done right. Here is Spaceman Frank’s Payback 2016 predictions.

Side note: Vince Mcmahon will be at the event to decide if either Shane or Stephanie gets control of WWE. Since this isn’t an actual match I won’t do a full prediction for it, but if I had to take a guess I’d say Stephanie gets Raw and Shane gets SmackDown! so the WWE can have their cake and eat it too.

Kickoff Match: Kalisto vs. Ryback (United States Championship Match)

One of the few ongoing rivalries from ‘Mania where both men had a surprisingly good match. WWE rewarded Kalisto and Ryback by giving them even less build for this match and another pre-show time slot.

It’s unclear what plans WWE has for the U.S. title, as it seems pushed down the card in favor of trying to rebuild the tag team division. Why we can’t have both I have no idea. With all the new talent coming in and taking up TV time, this is hurting not only both men involved, but the U.S. Championship as well (Open challenge anyone?). Kalisto wins because he is bright, colorful and will pop the crowd.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin finally made the leap to the main roster at ‘Mania 32 with his shocking Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal victory and so far his build mirrors that of his NXT booking.

Ziggler is also being booked much like Corbin was in NXT, acting as the gatekeeper to the main event for new people trying to break the glass ceiling. The Lone Wolf has a good shot at impressing fans in his first proper Pay-Per-View match, but I see Ziggler getting the sneaky win so Corbin can beat him up some more so the two can have a match at Extreme Rules with a wacky stipulation (kiss my arse match anyone???)

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

Cool dad Jericho is still around trying to hang out with all the hip young people in the WWE. Ambrose is a decent opponent for the part timer, but beating Jericho won’t make up for his weak showing at ‘Mania.

Rather than build off of their incident at last year’s Night of Champions, WWE decided that this feud should play out over increasingly bland talk show segments. Considering that last month Jericho beat the WWE Championship’s number one contender A.J. Styles and Ambrose was taking on Brock Lesnar, it’s hard to get excited for this. Ambrose wins and Jericho threatens to bury more people on Raw.

The Miz vs. Cesaro (Intercontinental Championship Match)

The WWE finally get an injured wrestler back and Cesaro has been killing it as stripper James Bond despite the one-liner contest he had with The Miz on the go-home Raw.

The Miz has also been fantastic since winning the Intercontnental title and having his real-life wife Maryse on television with him. I didn’t think it was possible to want to punch The Miz in the face any more than I wanted to before, but believe it or not I actually do. Even more shocking, I see The Miz cheating to keep the championship from Cesaro as The Miz needs a legit IC title reign and at this point Cesaro doesn’t because he’s still fresh off of his triumphant return.

Charlotte vs. Natalya (Women’s Championship Match)

This match has been overshadowed in recent weeks by the behavior of the two men in each women’s corner. Ric Flair made headlines when it was rumored he was drunk at an airport, though it appears he merely injured his hand and went to an airport bar to kill time. Bret Hart on the other hand (pun intended), has openly criticized the WWE, stating that he has no interest in appearing at Payback (Way to sell the feud, fellas!).

Charlotte has hit her stride as champ, but WWE could easily give Nattie a title reign  to help build the the championship’s lineage. With outside drama overshadowing the in-ring story, I see Charlotte retaining in a good match.

Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillians (Number One Contenders match for the WWE World Tag Team Championships)

While the Vaudevillains have quietly been a solid addition to the main roster, Enzo and Cass have absolutely crushed it since appearing on the post-‘Mania Raw.

It still seems crazy that these two teams are facing off for the number one contendership and both teams will make great foils to The New Day (who again are not defending their titles on Pay-Per-View).

The Vaudevillians will win this match for two simple reasons: First, The Vaudevillians are the only heels between the three tag teams, leading to a more natural feud. Second, if the Dudley Boyz do not interfere in this match and cost Enzo and Cass their title shot then they will be the biggest putz’s in Dudleyville for letting the rookies walk all over them.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

The epic rivalry between these two is fully reignited after several teases and they are going to have an absolute slobberknocker of an encounter. For many fans, this match alone is the big reason to watch Payback.

If Owens and Zayn get a good amount of time this is 100 percent stealing the show. The only negative I can think of is that it seems obvious that this rivalry is continuing into Extreme Rules. Zayn gets a surprise victory followed by Owens beating The Underdog From the Underground into a pulp afterwards.

Roman Reigns vs. A.J. Styles (WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match)

Roman Reigns in a feud we care about (GASP!)?

With so many moving parts at play, WWE has built up a lot of potential for this match and fans are eager to see what twists and turns will play out. It seems obvious that the Good Brothers and the Usos will be factors. There’s also been subtle hints former NXT Champion Finn Balor and possibly Nakamura could also be at play here (Bullet Club debut anyone?). Throw in the potential for many different heel/face turns from everyone involved and this may be the best feud Reigns has had since becoming a main-eventer.

The only slight criticisms I have for the build is Reigns constantly repeating his “I’m the man” schtick (Even his attempts at being nonchalant seem incredibly forced. Reigns reminds me of people who constantly claim that they are “for real” and “don’t have time for fake ass people.”) and the hype surrounding this match is all about what will happen at either the end or after rather than match itself (which will be excellent). Reigns wins, Balor debuts and takes control of the Bullet Club who then lay waste to Reigns and Styles.