Tag Archives: Nia Jax

SSEP: SSEP – Episode 11: WrestleMania 33/NXT Takeover Orlando Preview

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by Jonathan Schorr

Jon and Matt go on the ultimate thrill ride with their WrestleMania 33 and NXT Takeover: Orlando predictions while watching WrestleMania 13 from 1997.

Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

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SSEP: Episode 10 – State of The NBA/MLB, This Week In WWE

by Jonathan Schorr

This week Jon hits on the state of the NBA and the Ball issues, also speaks of the MLB and the world baseball classic and reviews this week in WWE. Our host also teases next weeks SSEP and gives us a big WrestleMania preview.

Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

Manopera! Episode 36: WWE Fastlane 2017 Review

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Chris and Spaceman Frank review WWE Fastlane 2017 and its aftermath on Raw, speculate on the Hardy’s returning to WWE, and more. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on the infamous “Cash me outside” girl, Danielle Bregoli.

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Spaceman Frank’s WWE Fastlane 2017 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

It is Fastlane time in WWE land, which means we’ve got one last pitstop before WrestleMania.

Smackdown Live had the advantage of having Elimination Chamber two weeks after the Royal Rumble, allowing them to put on a nice bow on Rumble storylines while giving people a reason to watch the blue brand  build its ‘Mania storylines for two uninterrupted months.

Meanwhile, WWE has tried their darndest to get people to care about Fastlane in combination with hyping and setting up matches for the show of shows. With two title matches almost guaranteed to end a certain way and most of the rest of the card meaning very little, fans can at least look forward to incessant ‘Mania commercials and people pointing at the big WrestleMania sign at random times. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my predictions for Fastlane 2017.

Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar (Kickoff)

We start the night (after about 30-40 minutes of useless banter) with four Cruiserweights trying their best to make some sort of impression on the Raw crowds. I think we’ll get some sort of crazy Cruiserweight scramble for the championship at ‘Mania (perhaps taking over the Intercontinental Championship Ladder match that has opened the show recently). Tozawa seems to be making some headway with live crowds, and Rich Swann and Brian Kendrick have history on their side. Sadly, Noam Dar has been adrift despite being crazy talented, possibly due to a lack of direction after being paired with Alicia Fox. The faces win because Tozawa’s Snap German Suplex is the best.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

A preshow match at the Rumble becomes a real match here, and Banks looks to take down the monster Jax with her fully recovered knee. I’m curious to see if Banks get a respectable amount of offense in, or if she continues to ragdoll around Jax to make her look dominant. In the end, however, I see Jax pulling out the win to make Banks go back to her Boss ways and betray Bayley because it’s about time she turns heel.

The Club (c) (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) vs. Big Cass and Enzo Amore (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)

The Club are finally champions, much too late for anyone to care and facing the perennial challengers who never win anything. Enzo and Cass may be the Buffalo Bills of the WWE, and that is coming from a Bills fan (I never expect either of them to get the championships, but I can dream right?). If WWE pulls the trigger with Enzo and Cass it will be at WrestleMania for the big feelgood moment of the card, but honestly I think WWE will hedge their bets and have the Raw and SmackDown tag champs face off on the preshow to get everyone a payday. The Club win and the crowd halfheartedly make a vaguely disappointed sound.

Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte (WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match)

This one is obvious. We have seen this storyline beaten into the ground, and despite Bayley having more pure babyface potential than Sasha Banks, that will not save her from the streak of Charlotte. If WWE was smart, they would have Charlotte keep the belt for a bit and stop having the title hot potato between people (if Charlotte wins she will have become a five time champion before the title’s one year anniversary) and make her Pay Per View streak more compelling. Then call up Asuka post-Mania and have a streak vs. streak (Asuka is currently threatening Goldberg’s WCW undefeated streak legitiamtely) match between the two at some point. Until then, Charlotte should just stop defending the belt on Mondays and just cut insane promos like her dad.

Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

This is one of the more intriguing championship matches that WWE has put on for the Cruiserweights since the finals of the CWC. Neville is the heel champion the division needs, easily blowing Kendrick out of the water in that regard. Meanwhile, Gallagher is one of the few true breakout stars the division has had, getting reactions Swann and TJP could only achieve by meeting Jiminy Cricket and wishing upon a star. The fact that Jackie Boy was the only Cruiserweight in the Royal Rumble match  speaks volumes on how much WWE values him. And yet, he will lose here. After so many different champions, the division needs a rock to build a foundation on. Neville is that rock, and he will walk out as champ by doing something dastardly and ungentlemanly.

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

Finally, WWE has found a Reigns match I am actually intrigued by. While the Reigns hype train is a little beat up at this point, he always threatens to run over the internet’s favorite wrestlers…until now. Strowman is Vince’s shiny new toy, and his push thus far is similar to Reigns early push in The Shield, minus the extra teammates to lean upon. I think Strowman is the one guy WWE management may have usurp Reigns as their guy, but being so close to ‘Mania I do not see this match happening, or at least having a proper finish. Instead, I see these two brawling all over the arena much like they have in the past, leading to a Falls Count Anywhere match at ‘Mania between the two. If I have to pick a winner, I would go with Strowman just in case they want to have Reigns seek a vengeful rematch at the biggest show of the year.

Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn

The other big grudge match on the card sees Joe staying on his warpath to destroy all the top babyfaces on Raw. Rollins’ injury is unfortunate, but may be a blessing in disguise for himself (he essentially gets a second chance at his big babyface turn) and Zayn, who gets something important to do and another chance to steal the show. Rewatching their epic 2 out of 3 falls match from NXT makes me salivate at what these guys can do, plus the WWE universe has been too long for Samoa Joe to debut on the main roster. In what will be the match of the night, Zayn will go down swinging as only he can and make Joe look like a boss from Dark Souls 3.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg (WWE Universal Championship Match)

There are so many possibilities that I have chosen to list all of them as a series of cliffhanger questions.

Is there any way Owens walks out as champ? Can he beat Dad-Berg, or at least carry him to a decent match that is longer than three minutes? Will Chris Jericho cost Owens the Universal Championship? Will Brock come in to even the odds in Owens’ favor? Will the son of Goldberg pop his shirt off and defend his father against the team of monstrous evil dads? Will the son of Kevin Owens take down Junior-Berg leading to a father and son inter-generational tag team match at WrestleMania? Will Jericho emerge from the ashes and end up challenging Brock Lesnar for the title after winning it on Raw the day after this PPV? Will the universe eventually stop expanding, collapse, and thus claim the Universal Championship before becoming a singularity and becoming the Universal Champion in the past, present, and future simultaneously? Find out on WWE Fastlane!

In all seriousness, Goldberg will probably win in five minutes or less because it’s just that time on the WWE’s calendar for stuff like this.

Spaceman Frank’s Survivor Series 2016 Predictions

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Much like Hell in A Cell, WWE is going all out by having three of Survivor Series’s gimmick matches on display. WWE is trying to hype up these matches at a big event to try and get bragging rights between the brands, which would work better if the brand split was less than six months old. That being said we do get an extreme case of “fantasy warfare” and cramming this much talent into one Pay-Per-View must make it good right? Right???? I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my predictions for Survivor Series 2016.

Brian Kendrick (c) vs. Kalisto (Cruiserweight Championship Match – If Kalisto wins, the Cruiserweight Division moves to SmackDown Live)

WWE pretty much shot themselves in the foot by announcing 205 Live before this match. I think Brian Kendrick could be a fine champ, but the way he was booked before and after being crowned is pretty pathetic. As saw in the CWC, he can still put on amazing matches, but WWE would rather have him fart around and beg his opponents to let him win.

Kalisto was always the odd man out as the cruiserweight on SmackDown, but maybe WWE was smart (or insane) enough to put him on SmackDown for this scenario. Seeing as Raw has epically botched the Cruiserweights, I’m ready for SmackDown to get their hands on the super talented division. Kalisto wins and becomes the first respectable champ the brand has had.

10 vs. 10 Tag Team Raw vs. SmackDown Survivor Series Elimination Match

This hodge-podge of a match has the teams fighting because…reasons. For all the segments featuring the teams trying to get me to care about this match, clearly this is the redheaded stepchild of the Raw vs. SmackDown matches (and no, I’m not just saying that because Heath Slater is involved). I realize now how many joke tag teams WWE has on the main roster.

Really, this breaks down (for me at least) as American Alpha vs. The New Day and Enzo & Cass, and I see American Alpha snagging a win for SmackDown because it’s about damn time Chad Gable becomes the megastar he could be.

The Miz ((c) with Maryse) vs. Sami Zayn (Intercontinental Championship Match)

I would love to see a proper feud between these two. Sadly, I feel as though this is going to be a one-off match for them, especially because it seemed like everyone expected the IC champ to still be Dolph Ziggler. With SmackDown almost certainly getting the Cruiserweight belt, I see Raw grabbing the IC belt to even things out. This gives SmackDown a unique flavor, while giving all the traditional titles a home on the flagship show. Obviously this means Sami Zayn will win, and since he did, you know, beat Kevin Owens in their last match of the “Fight Forever” feud, this gives him a better spot to launch from. Perhaps hey could even book The Likeable One semi-decent if he’s champ.

5 vs. 5 Raw vs. SmackDown Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Match

Which team will pull it together after weeks of fighting? Who cares! I was kind of into this match until the go-home SmackDown where the Raw ladies beat down Becky Lynch. This included Sasha Banks and mega babyface Bayley doing a five-on-one beatdown (BAYLEY JOINED IN ON A GROUP MUGGING OF HER FRIEND!!! THAT IS VERY HEELISH!!!). Poor writing all around sucked me completely out of this match. SmackDown has more potential dissension moments between the teams, so I think Raw will win. Plus, they have Nia Jax who is due for a main roster statement match and eliminating most of SmackDown will do just that.

5 vs. 5 Raw vs. SmackDown Men’s Survivor Series Elimination Match

This match has been heavily hyped, with Stephanie McMahon threatening to fire people if they lose on Raw and SmackDown’s men having The Undertaker threaten to bury people alive (sounds like Raw has the better deal since they, you know, don’t have somebody threatening to murder them). There are many interesting angles that can play out here, from champ Owens vs. champ Styles to Roman Reigns vs. the crowd to Braun Strowman versus everyone.

This can be the match of the night if booked properly, or it can be a disaster if they decide to push certain people (cough, Reigns, cough) over everyone else. Honestly, I think the biggest mystery is how Strowman will be booked, and how they preserve the new monster on the block. Raw wins, with Owens and Reigns being the last two standing so they can hype Roadblock in December.

Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Goldberg

I really want to hate on this match but I won’t. There will be plenty of fine technical wrestling this weekend, but sometimes you need some sizzle and this match has sizzle in spades. I was at the go-home Raw for Survivor Series and it was palpable how badly people wanted to see these two fight. I’m not saying this will be a five-star classic or even a serviceable match, but this figures to be one hell of a moment. I think we’ll see a match similar to Lesnar’s match with Orton at Summerslam where it builds to Brock beating Goldberg until the bell is called. Or they both get themselves disqualified and they just bloody each other up. Either way Brock stays strong and Goldberg can have his superhero moment before getting the Hall of Fame nod.

Spaceman Frank Does Monday Night RAW

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by Frank Lucci

This week I had the pleasure (for the most part) of watching Monday Night Raw live at the Keybank Center in Buffalo, New York.

Having never attended Raw before (I saw the very first Battleground in all of its mediocre glory in the same building as well as some live shows in Rochester and two NXT Albany events), I was excited to see how the television product is produced. Instead of giving a big blow-by-blow of the event, I’ll give some of my impressions from the show.

The crowd was pretty mixed, with heels such as Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho getting about 50/50 cheers and boos. The only person to get universal boos was of course, Roman Reigns, although some heels such as Paul Heyman were able to get their heat back once the initial “SOMEBODY ACTUALLY CAME TO BUFFALO!” cheers died down. I made a “Roman Reigns eats at Weenie Hut Jr.’s” sign and a “Rusev is the hero this city deserves” sign, so I was disappointed Rusev did not make an appearance.

The opening promo was bland, but I saw a nice moment between Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon at the end. After Mick flubbed his whole speech and the segment was over Mick was hanging his head, but Steph gave him an affectionate rub on the back (makes me think their relationship is as strong in real life as Mick says it is on camera).

Owens is impossible not to like, and him trolling Reigns won over many of the crowd who had initially cheered Reigns. Reigns, meanwhile, was a big black hole of charisma. Even Sheamus was more entertaining than he was (although the cannon blast for his entrance scared the hell out of me). Everyone in that tag match added something unique except Reigns, who seemed to hit the same four moves over and over again as the crowd waited for Owens or Cesaro to come in. That being said, this was easily the best match of the night.

The opening tag match established the dynamic of most of the matches on the show, with the thrown-together teams trolling or arguing while heels refused to let the good guys do their signature mannerisms/moves (I get it, but it’s kind of frustrating considering we don’t get to see the show live often and they didn’t have many faces do their signature anythings in general).

My group honestly thought Bo Dallas was Brian Kendrick in the video package. Zayn got a decent pop, but the crowd was not into his match or post-match promo. I blame WWE for focusing more on the SmackDown! side of the Intercontinental Championship match and Dallas receiving no reaction from the crowd for doing anything.

Braun Strowman has…it. During his match where he teamed with Rollins and Jericho against The New Day he stole the show. He is just a stupidly big human and he outshone everyone else live. I enjoyed yelling “Eat more protein” at him. The crowd loved him in the backstage skit and whenever he got into the ring, the atmosphere changed from fun to “Oh God, please don’t kill anyone.” I think Strowman could be a big star if booked right, and considering he has the most to prove on Team Raw he seemed to put in the most work during the broadcast. I’m all in on a Strowman push. As for everyone else in the match, Woods and Rollins had a fun sequence but the rest was pretty bland. I was also disappointed The New Day promo was basically just them hawking their merch.

The crowd popped big for Lesnar initially, but it died pretty quick. Goldberg was super over, easily getting the loudest and most sustained crowd reaction (which seems muted when I watched the replay). Sort of goofy, but seeing Goldberg hurry to his pyro (which looked lame in person, like a couple of sparklers covering a small portion of a massive stage) from the sideways entrance to the stage to the top of the ramp was hilarious.

Heyman initially had some of the crowd behind him, but repeating his speech over and over got the crowd booing. They were eventually flipping out once security guards started getting tossed, and the entire arena was desperate to see them get pulled apart in a brawl. Having The Jimmy John’s Monster back away made sure the crowd booed him, and WWE gets to tease out their match without giving away too much. Good stuff – especially live, and props to Heyman for manipulating the crowd the way only he can (random side note: I never realized how much of a good ole boy Goldberg sounds like until hearing him talk live. My buddy also thought Goldberg sounded like he wanted to make love to Brock with some of his lines, especially with him wanting to “get it on” with The Beast).

The best part of the Cruiserweight match was watching the army of roadies/interns duct tape the ropes purple and replace the ring apron during commercial. Speaking of commercials, I was super annoyed WWE ran honest-to-God ads during the commercial breaks. Live shows I’ve attended have had people playing clips or promos for upcoming events, but seeing Kay Jewelers commercials at a live wrestling event had me peeved. Sin Cara and Kendrick did not draw the crowd in, and they seemed to put in zero effort. Personally, I’m ready for the lads to move to SmackDown Live and get some decent writing as the whole division has been booked into the ground already.

The crowd also did not care at all about the women’s match, even though the ladies themselves got decent reactions. I got the sense people wanted something more, but all we got was a basic tag match. Buffalo also wanted more from the eight man tag match, but besides Enzo and Cass, no one could get the crowd invested. This became worse when The Club ignored tagging in Enzo, and at this point the WWE Universe  was pretty done. Putting Goldberg and Brock in the middle of the show killed the crowd, as for the next hour and change, everyone just sat on their hands during matches. In general, the crowd was hot for the first half of the show then died right until the end.

After killing the crowd Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan got the crowd going a little bit. DB continues to be more over than 80% of the roster. However, once the authority figures started arguing the crowd went back to sleep. Honestly, I thought we would just have a typical McMahon argument segment to close the show, which had me ready to leave early to beat traffic.

That being said, this was a COMPLETE 180 from myself and the crowd once the SmackDown crew showed up. Stephanie and some internet people may have mocked the crowd for cheering for SmackDown while at Raw, but unexpectedly seeing some of your favorites will get the crowd to pop big (plus, in all honesty, given the choice to see either show, who is honestly picking Raw? It’s not our fault this was the only choice in town mates).

During the closing segment, my buddy became a Jericholic. Both pf us started watching around 2013, so we have limited classic Jericho exposure. The crowd flew off the handle for The List, and he was converted pretty quick.

The only negatives from the closing confrontation/brawl: myself and crowd wanted James Ellsworth to get involved (preferably against Strowman) and Reigns had the crowd booing again when he was the last man standing in the ring initially. We all knew immediately that it was another BS add-on to make Reigns look strong when we wanted literally any of the other dozen or so men involved to look strong as it would be much more of a surprise (boo/hiss WWE, boo/hiss indeed).

Overall, I had fun at the show, and recommend seeing WWE live in general. It’s always a blast to see the wrestlers perform, and even though this episode of Raw was not great, it was ten times better experiencing it live than watching the three hour broadcast. It didn’t get me more hyped for Survivor Series, but I had fun nonetheless. It was definitely not as good as NXT live shows, but was however, on par with main-roster house shows I’ve been to.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Predictions

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After Smackdown Live got the first crack at a single brand Pay-Per-View, Raw gets its first event with Clash of Champions.

This almost throwback to the NWA/WCW PPV (which was Clash of THE Champions) promises to be interesting at the very least. Sure, we can all wonder what this PPV would have looked like if Finn Balor wasn’t injured, but all things considered, this is a strong card. As usual, the WWE has tempered expectations somewhat with their questionable booking, but I feel like that’s their strategy at this point. I can almost imagine Vince McMahon and Triple H plotting out hours of mediocre television just so when the PPV comes around, it just happens to be both better and shorter than Raw (aka a poor attempt to try to make fans happy). Anywho, here is Spaceman Frank’s Clash of Champions 2016 predictions.

Special note: I totally see WWE putting a Braun Stowman squash match into the Kickoff. Raw PPV pre-shows should be the Nia and Braun show until the Royal Rumble at least. From there they can have a rivalry over who destroys their opponents faster until they get into a yelling match before making out. Greatest love story of 2016.

Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax

This pre-show match is obviously going to end in Jax winning. The real question is how long this match will last bell to bell (I got three minutes). Jax is doing well squashing people, and Foxy is a good established name to feed to her. Who’s next on the Jax destruction tour? I predict Paige as punishment for her suspension/alleged temper tantrum.

Cesaro vs. Sheamus (Final Match in Best of Seven Series)

Who would’ve thought that Cesaro would have bounced back from 0-3? This feud has not been bad, but at this point the WWE Universe is ready to move on. After these guys have been brutalizing each other for weeks I really hope they get a championship program out of all this. I’d much rather see these guys bounce around the Universal Title picture then farting around the U.S. Championship as fodder for Rusev or Reigns. Cesaro wins to complete his underdog comeback story.

Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho

The last of the non-title matches on the show, this is the one I’m looking forward to the most. The Likable One feuding with his mortal enemy Kevin Owens’ new BFF Jericho makes sense, but it would have made much more sense if it happened at SummerSlam instead of here, but whatever. Jericho the character gets an A in my book, but Jericho the in-ring wrestler is about a C at this point of his career. As much as I like his character work I don’t enjoy his matches that much anymore. That being said, I can see this going at least another PPV, so Jericho gets the win here.

The New Day (c) vs. The Club (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)

The Club is superb since ditching their hand at lowball comedy and just beating people up (Where were these guys this whole time?). Leave comedy to The New Day and Enzo and Cass. I feel like The New Day have nothing left to prove as champs at this point, so dropping the belts to The Club is the right move. From there I would rather see the team members get individual pushes while remaining a faction. This will allow other tag teams to get into the title hunt and we can get some fresh matchups for singles championships. The Club win and start going on a tear.

Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns (United States Championship Match)

This one is tricky. On one hand Rusev is an excellent U.S. champ, but too often is the Bulgarian Brute fodder for main eventers and guys like Reigns. On the other hand, pretty much the only scenario I can see Reigns getting over is by winning the U.S. Championship and issuing weekly title challenges like John Cena did in 2015. That way he can slowly but surely build up respect with the audience by putting on good matches every week. It worked wonders for Cena so I can see it working for Reigns as well. Reigns wins and the WWE continues the Rehab Reigns campaign while Rusev goes mega heel and pledges allegiance to Donald Trump’s America (Book it Vince. You know you want to.).

T.J. Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

Things that have me worried about the cruiserweights after one week:

  1. No TJP on Raw.
  2. No subtitles for Gran Metalik’s spanish promo.
  3. A Fatal Four Way match where the divisions athleticism gets over more than the people involved.

I know that it will take time for a whole division to get over (as we’ve seen with the womens divisions), but this was a major misstep. I would much rather have the cruiserweights sprinkled in throughout the show taking on midcarders than just facing each other. The number one contender stipulation made sense, but everything else was pretty bad. Kendrick is the closest thing the division has to a heel, so he’s a good contender for the very likable T.J Perkins. That being said, the new champ wins here to build up a proper program for later.

Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match)

I was fine with the Charlotte vs. Banks rematch, although I’m also fine with Bayley getting but into the title picture. It seems like an 11th hour Hail Mary to get extra attention for this match (or explain the double pin scenario that happened the week before), but I’m not going to complain that my girl Bayley gets into the title picture. I really see each lady having an equal chance here. Charlotte’s been a fine champ, but she’s been champ in some form for close to a year (with a slight gap during Banks’ brief run) and it may be time to freshen up the scene. Banks has the motivation to regain her title, but the WWE may feel as though she is injury prone at this point. Bayley could pretty much win at any point and people would be happy, but the smart money is to build to Bayley vs. Banks III. When Spaceman Frank can’t tell what’s going to happen, he gives it to the champion. Charlotte wins in a good match.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship Match)

This simply cannot be a bad match. Say what you want about the build or KO’s booking since being champ, but all you need to do to get me excited about this match is say “Owens vs. Rollins for the belt.” The big question here is what Triple H will do, if he’ll do anything at all. Rollins is a great heel, but there’s only so much space at the top and Raw desperately needs a babyface at the top of the card. Can we see Rollins getting a couple of cruiserweights on his side and form a high-flying faction to take on a Kevin Owens lead authority as Mick Foley just tries to eat his feelings away before he is replaced by GM Big Show? Anyway, KO retains and we get more of the Kevin Owens show for the time being.

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 19: NXT TakeOver – The End (Sort of)

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Chris and Spaceman Frank discuss NXT TakeOver: The End, Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet and the bizarre TNA Slammiversary angle between Matt and Jeff Hardy.

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: The End Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

Despite the ominous title, the newest NXT TakeOver live event special is not the end of the highly praised series – but it does have some finality hanging over it.

With many of the top NXT talent already on the main roster and several more possibly leaving NXT for Raw or SmackDown! when the brand split occurs in July, this may be the last TakeOver event with some of the classic NXT talents people first latched onto when WWE first began having live specials for the developmental brand.

Here are Spaceman Frank’s predictions for NXT Takeover: The End.

Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Tye Dillinger

Poor Tye Dillinger. Despite having lots of crowd support and a marketable gimmick, the poor guy lives just to put over new talent. With so many of the old NXT guard on the main roster, would a push for “The Perfect Ten” be too much to ask?

His opponent, the former La Sombra, has been working NXT live events (as well as a dark match at NXT Takeover: Dallas) and has received rave reviews from live audiences. Random side note: I like that Andrade has “Cien” as a nickname instead of being “Cien Almas. ” As much fun as No Way Jose is, it’s hard to take him seriously with no real name. In addition, it’s rumored that Almas is going to be heavily featured in the Cruiserweight Classic this summer, so it’s pretty clear that he’s going to beat Dillinger.

America Alpha (C) vs. The Revival (NXT Tag Team Championships match)

This matchup is a big toss-up. For one, champs American Alpha are super over with the crowd and have routinely handled The Revival at live events. However, the champions are frequently discussed as the next tag team to jump to the main roster, so they could easily lose the titles and then move on. The Revival are a better version of the now broken up Blake and Murphy and shine as the talented yet generic heel tag team that make good diabolical champs. It’s time for a two time champion in NXT and The Revival will reclaim their belts so Jordan and Gable can make their leap forward.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries

The big new dream match for The End sees the two men who debuted at NXT Takeover: Dallas clash and have an unofficial number one contenders match for the NXT Championship.

Nakamura can do no wrong at Full Sail as the crowd pops big time whenever his theme song hits. Meanwhile, Aries has the crowd begging for his heel turn; as A Double would be the perfect bad guy to slide into the main event picture. The big question here is if Aries turns on the live special or if he saves it for NXT’s weekly programming. I’m predicting Nakamura wins clean here, causing Aries to descend into madness later – making Swagsuke look good while the cameras are live.

Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

First teased at Takeover: London, this match is brimming with potential.

Asuka was able to take down Bayley, but can she handle a motivated Jax who’s been taking down every other woman on the NXT roster? Conspicuous in her absence is former champ Bayley, who (kayfabe) was injured by Jax and thus unable to get her rematch. It seems blasphemous to leave Bayley out of a TakeOver, as NXT could have easily added more drama or intrigue by having this be a triple threat or having Bayley be the guest referee. By having her out it seems plain as day that Asuka hangs on to her title so the two can have their big rematch in front of the much larger NXT Takeover: Brooklyn crowd while Jax gets valuable reps so she can be NXT’s next big heel.

Samoa Joe (C) vs Finn Balor (Steel Cage Match for the NXT Championship)

The fourth and (probably) final match  between these former friends is sure to be memorable. When it was assumed this feud was played out, NXT pulled a shocker when Joe won the NXT Championship at an untelevised show. Instead of having Balor immediately jump to the main roster to join his mates in The Club, he’s been showing more fire than ever in trying to reclaim the gold.

Joe has been perfect on the microphone as champ and I’m sure WWE wishes they could give their main roster champion Roman Reign’s half the ability this Samoan has. Throw in not only a rare stipulation but the first-ever NXT cage match at Full Sail and this could be a classic feud finisher that has been sorely lacking in this age of 50/50 WWE booking.

Both men deserve to make it to the main roster ASAP, but I see Joe retaining so WWE can begin hyping Balor coming to the main roster and Joe can lay down the groundwork for a match with Nakamura that will be so heavy Iron Maiden will write a concept album about it.