Tag Archives: Sami Zayn

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 Royal Rumble 2017 Predictions

 

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by Frank Lucci

Let’s get mildly prepared to rumble! The Royal Rumble always has the bonus of being one of the few Pay-Per-View’s guaranteed to offer a surprise or two, and despite some stinkers in recent years, last year’s Rumble was my favorite PPV of the 2016. This year is actually very similar to last year’s. There is a possibility that Reigns could walk out as champ, people assume Brock will lose the rumble match due to his probable WrestleMania opponent knocking him out. People are ready to fantasy book New Japan (Kenny Omega, though that looks pretty unlikely) and NXT stars (Samoa Joe) into significant roles into ‘Mania. Getting some major deja vu from the PPV, but can WWE pull off the same magic for a second time? One big factor is the eight (!!!) matches for the Rumble, through three déjà vu are pre-show matches so they do not really count. This could seriously drain the crowd before the Rumble match begins, but the possibility of surprise entrants and the hype surrounding the match should help. And for the first time in ages the winner of the match is in doubt, with many different people in the running to win. I’m Spaceman Frank, and I am here to predict the Royal Rumble 2017.

Cesaro and Sheamus (C) vs. The Club (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match with Two Referees)

Oh boy, talk about an exciting stipulation! Totally do not expect a screwy finish here! The Club keep hovering around and losing to everyone, so why are they getting this shot again? If they are just going to fart around and not win the bets, then can they just go to SmackDown and be AJ’s henchmen again? Cesaro and Sheamus are a much better tag team then they have any right to be, but I still have zero reason to care or cheer for their future success. I predict that The Club will actually win, so that Sheamus and Cesaro can brawl while in the Rumble and we can get the Best of Seven Series: Twice in a Lifetime.

Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya

What to do with the SmackDown women when they got a PPV in around two weeks? Why, throw them into a six women tag match of course! If the ladies actually get an Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber I expect it to be this match but every person for themselves. Really hard to care about this match, but it is better than listening to the pre-show panel spout nonsense. Heel team wins because they have the newcomer in Mickie James and the Champ in Alexa Bliss.

Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks

The only pre-show match I actually am invested in. It is time for Nia Jax to have a real opponent, and having shown up in NXT after the Four Horsewomen (minus Bayley) guarantees she has some interesting matchups. She needs to get more involved in the division to freshen things up, so hopefully she takes advantage here and shows she is worth a push sooner rather than later. My only hangup is Banks’ bumping. If she flies around and gets banged up by Charlotte, imagine what will happen when the much larger Jax starts tossing her around. Jax crushes Banks in dominating fashion.

Rich Swann (C) vs. Neville (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

This match should be plenty exciting, but Swann has fallen into one of the biggest pitfalls for babyfaces in the WWE: he does not talk like a human. He went from giving heartfelt sitdown interviews about his past to making fun of Neville’s ears. He, Reigns, and Rollins need to form Shield 2.0 where they act like Kiefer Sutherland in Stand By Me and expect people to cheer for them. Anyway, both these guys are magic in the ring regardless of the actual built for this match, so this should be a highlight for the division. It seems as though Neville is destined to win the belt, but four champions so soon into the division’s run is too many. Swann retains to stop the hot potatoing between the belt and so WWE can stall until they inevitably just throw eight or ten guys into the ring at WrestleMania to fight for the belt.

Charlotte Flair (C) vs. Bayley

Will Bayley beat Charlotte and hand her the first PPV loss of her career?? No, no she will not. If WWE was going to go all in on Bayley getting the belt, they would have done a better job at hyping the match. As it stands now, all the WWE did was have people make fun of her and then for Bayley to be like “eh whatever.” I really do not see Charlotte losing the belt before WrestleMania to add extra emphasis to her first big PPV loss, and they can draw this out much like they did for Charlotte vs. Banks until the big show. Maybe have Charlotte get the DQ win to taint the streak?  Dana Brooke saves her friend/ boss/ abusive girlfriend and Charlotte keeps the belt.

Kevin Owens (C) vs. Roman Reigns (No DQ match with Chris Jericho suspended in a shark cage above the ring for the WWE Universal Championship)

I just felt dumber after writing the above sentence. We get it WWE. You have a toy with a cage suspended above the WWE ring. Kids are the only people who love Reigns. Why not have Reigns beat up that dastardly Owens as kids imitate it with their playsets? I just do not have words for how stupid I feel this is. This match was effectively ruined the moment Jericho, for reasons completely unknown to me or sanity in general, Loony Tunes-style stepped into the cage when it was first revealed so he could be locked in and suspended above the ring. At least have Reigns push him into the cage rather than him just wander in. WWE has made it clear that they think Owens is nowhere near the level of Reigns, and this match is to get the belt off him so he can feud with Jericho finally. Reigns wins, hopefully after Owens beats the piss out of him so I can at least laugh at Reign’s pain.

AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena (WWE Championship Match)

My third match between these two promises to be as epic as their previous encounters, with the added bonus of the championship on the line. AJ Styles has knocked it out of the park for his entire run, even when he was dealing with Ellsworth. Cena has come right back to SmackDown and has not lost a step. The promos between the two are the highlights of the week for me, and credit to the two men for making me fine with Cena picking up the belt again. For indeed, I believe Cena will finally get his win and the belt at the Rumble. It is WrestleMania season after all, and WWE is going with the strongest hand that they can. With the constant rumors that Styles and Owens are being pushed aside for Cena and Reigns, it makes sense for Cena to grab the belt here. I am not completely certain that Cena wins here considering there seems to be a new rumored opponent for him every day, but I cannot see the WWE having Styles go into ‘Mania as champ. Big John gets the win and we establish his challenger at Elimination Chamber as Styles hopefully gets a better match at Mania than him versus Shane McMahon.

Royal Rumble Match

I’m going to do something a little different here and rank, from least likely to most likely, the chances of each announced competitor of winning the Royal Rumble match. There are 22 announced entrants for the match, so I predict the match will be rounded out by Samoa Joe (because c’mon, he has to be in this match after missing Takeover), James Ellsworth (to get destroyed by a much larger man), Breezeango (for extra bodies), Kane (because he is a legacy character), AJ Styles (needs more SmackDown stars), TJ Perkins (needs more Cruiserweights), and Nia Jax (because why not?).

22. Big Cass- Tag team people never win.

21. Rusev- Always is out first despite being the best human being on the planet (as seen in Total Divas).

20. Sheamus- Already has one match on the PPV and it’s on the pre-show.

19. Xavier Woods- Here for faction warfare.

18. Kofi Kingston- Here for faction warfare/agility.

17. Big E- Here for faction warfare/sexy dancing.

16. Sami Zayn- Going to last for minimum 45 minutes, only to be thrown out by the real stars.

15. Baron Corbin- Most likely going to throw out a fan favorite to get some heat/acquire new rival.

14. Cesaro- Going to last longer than Sheamus, but still following the rule of people with a previous match having no chance in the Rumble.

13. Mojo Rawley- my roommate Kim loves him, so I give him a slight chance to do something significant here at the Rumble. Plus, he has to do something while Zack Ryder is out with injury.

12. Big Show- Gonna get tossed by someone (Mojo?) to show how strong said person is.

11. Luke Harper- Despite being my boy, he is going to get tossed by the rest of the Wyatts. Perhaps he will turn face here after his treatment, or they will have Randy turn and Luke forgives Bray instantly. Personally, I’d rather see all three get into it and we get a Mani triple threat out of this.

10. Dean Ambrose- Already Intercontinental champ, so he will find a way to lose here. Perhaps he will find a new rival here, or they will have him enter the Elimination Chamber and find his ‘Mania opponent there (or we get the ladder match. Either way he is not winning).

9. Dolph Ziggler- Ziggler is one of those guys that will last until the final five or six people, but get tossed when it is time to clear out the pool. Evil Ziggler is best Ziggler but I see WWE waiting to establish where his ceiling will be for the future.

8. The Miz- Momma Mizanin’s baby boy had a hell of a 2016, but he is not ready to get into the main event just before the biggest show of the year. In the doldrums after SummerSlam? Sure. Springtime quickie run to shake things up? Maybe. But not right now.

7. Randy Orton- This is where the serious contenders start showing up. I can see him throwing out Bray when they are the final two, and I can see Bray doing the same to Orton. I do not think he really needs the win though, and his future feud with Wyatt does not need a belt thrown into the mix too.

6. Bray Wyatt- See the previous entry, with the added bonus of being a creepy cult leader who has henchmen to help him win.

5. Braun Strowman- The massive mountain of a man could pull a 2001 Kane and eliminate a record number of people. Then be the second to last person left and get booted out, again just like 2001 Kane. There are plenty of rumors surrounding the big guy winning, but with so many big stars in the match I do not think he is going to walk out the winner.

4. Chris Jericho- I can see Jericho being a dark horse to win the match, but only if Owens retains the belt. Since I already said Reigns is going to lose, this drops him down a  few pegs in my book.

3. Goldberg- Already has a big feud for ‘Mania almost certainly happening, and with a contract that has even less dates than Lesnar I do not see him challenging for the belt.

2. Brock Lesnar- I wanna say he will not win the Rumble, due to the whole Goldberg deal. But it is still very hard to discount him. I can see WWE having him win, then giving Goldberg a quick reign with the belt so he can drop it to Lesnar. Since Lesnar has dropped off significantly in 2016 a good title reign would boost him (and his value) back up.

1. Undertaker- This seems like the sure bet. Having ‘Taker be the only free agent in the match adds extra intrigue and plot to the build to WrestleMania, as he can go to either show. Throw in retirement rumors and this is the best way to make WrestleMania 33’s main event superior to last year’s.

 

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Roadblock: End of the Line Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

Roadblock: End of the Line may not be the best PPV of 2016, but it will be the last one, so at least it has that going for it. In a year where the WWE saturated their network with live events, Roadblock pretty much sums up what to expect: pretty good, but expect maybe half a storyline to advance forward. Hell, they even already had a Roadblock earlier this year, which granted was not a full blown PPV but at least it was on a Saturday so people could get properly schwifty during it.  Despite having a loaded roster and three hours of weekly television, Raw simply cannot get me to care about the live events. Sure i’ll watch, but at this point I am down to watching the top ten moments from Raw on YouTube rather than the full show or even the 90 minute Hulu version of Raw. I’m Spaceman Frank, and here are my predictions for Roadblock: End of the Line.

Big Cass vs. Rusev

This match is what I assume will be the preshow match, unless WWE screws with me and adds another match to the PPV after I write this. Rusev is fighting for his wife Lana’s honor, and Big Cass is fighting for his BFF Enzo’s honor (Aww, they really do love each other!). It is hard to feel bad for Enzo here, as he did try to sleep with another man’s wife. Typical WWE babyface booking reminiscent of Roman Reigns during his feud with Rusev. After watching Rusev on Total Divas I have a massive man-crush on the Bulgarian Brute, so I hope he wins and get an actual victory on PPV. Rusev crushes Big Cass as I swoon in my chair.

Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn (10 Minute Time Limit)

Strowman gets his first real competition (Sin Cara does not count) and Zayn gets a match he can actually win since his fight forever feud with Kevin Owens. Zayn has been drifting around for months, and Strowman has been directionless between snuffing out the life from various jobbers. Adding the time limit means this will be the deciding factor here. Is it too early to give Strowman a loss here, even with the technicality? Probably. I see this ending much like Zayn’s NXT title match with Owens: Strowman gets the TKO victory here just as the time limit is closing in and makes kids cry as Zayn gets pummeled into oblivion.

The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)

With The New Day officially the longest reigning tag team in history, now the possibility that they lose is much more real. However, at this point I am fine if WWE wants them to pursue the longest combined days as champ or have Kofi try to become the person with the most combined days as a tag team champ. This changes things up a little bit, and in particular trying to keep the titles so Kofi can make history is an interesting twist that would justify their cheating ways. After all, the guy deserves something right? Cesaro and Sheamus are getting better, but Raw needs depth in the tag team scene asap. Maybe focus on the other teams stepping up their game while The New Day take a backseat and brainstorm on how to keep their gimmicks fresh. The New Day retain since them losing immediately after getting the record would be pretty lame and predictable.

Rich Swann (c) vs. TJ Perkins vs The Brian Kendrick (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

Normally I do not like multi-man Cruiserweight matches, since they give WWE an excuse not to build up the  individuals in the division. However since these are three out of the four guys with actual developed characters in the Cruiserweight division (with the other man being the excellent Jack Gallagher, more of him please!), I’ll let it pass. Swann is the type of feel good story that works well in WWE, and it has been told much better than when WWE tried the same thing with TJP. Meanwhile Kendrick just keeps floating around the scene as the only guy in the division that can cut a promo, so at least he has that going for him. I really hope we see some balls out action during this match, as it is about time WWE lets these guys go all out now that we have had several months of main roster cruiserweights. Swann retains until No Way Jose is ready for the main roster and the duo become the new HBK and Diesel…or Jerry Lawler and Isaac Yankem.

Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins

This match should feel like a big deal…but it does not. It is no secret Jericho is coming after the title, and really Seth should be too since he is too good just to fart around in the background. Until Rollins finds his babyface center of gravity he needs to pursue the title since WWE has given us little reason to cheer for him as a good guy. A number one contenders stipulation would have been nice here and add a little extra stakes to this lame duck side feud to the main event. How did Reigns sneak into the main event picture anyway? Who demanded this match (who does not have the last name McMahon)? Should have been a three way dance for the title. Anywho, Jericho gets the win either by sneaking out a victory or Owens helps him win to help repair their relationship.

Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte (30 Minute Iron Man Match for WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

This will probably be the best pure wrestling match on the card, as Banks has proven she can work the long match and Charlotte can probably go super saiyan if she yells long enough or watches Krillin die. This promises to be the end of the feud, which has been a long time coming. Charlotte is undefeated on PPV, but since the WWE has not made a big deal about this until recently I do not think they will have Charlotte win back the belt just to keep the streak alive. Rather, I see Banks keeping the belt. She needs to have a PPV win at some point, and just switching back the belt to Charlotte yet again would be pretty weak at this point. With the stipulation you can have Charlotte get a couple pinfalls and look strong but have Sasha have her own Bayley moment and beat a submission out of Charlotte as time expires.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship Match)

Again, why is Roman Reigns in this match? Shouldn’t he be ruining some up and comer’s career by squashing him for several months? It seems like every time WWE does not have a hot feud for a heel they throw in Reigns, which is exactly why the fans have turned on him as they have. Instead of letting him work with people on a midcard level we get to see him jerk his fist off and delay the inevitable Jericho/Owens match. In addition, Reigns is still the cocky jock he has always been, and his character is even more insufferable because of it (I expect him to show up in his letterman jacket and talk about how his dad owns a dealership any week now). Owens wins because I refuse to believe 2016 will hit true rock bottom with Reigns being double champion.

Manopera! Episode 26: Clash Of Champions (and then some)

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Our hosts break down Clash of Champions and speculate on where things can go for Cesaro, Sheamus, and the WWE Universal Championship picture.

To donate to Rico Constantino’s GoFundMePage, visit  www.gofundme.com/ricoconstantino.

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.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Fantasy Draft

 

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by Frank Lucci

The WWE has finally released the rules for the WWE draft scheduled for the first edition of SmackDown! Live on July 19th, 2016. Long story short: Raw gets the first pick, Raw gets three picks for every two SmackDown! gets (due to the Monday show being an hour longer), tag teams count as one unit unless a GM wants just one member and each show gets 3 NXT picks.

Going with the assumed format of Raw/Smackdown/Raw/Smackdown/Raw/Raw for the order, here is Spaceman Frank’s mock WWE Draft with some explanations/fantasy booking to boot.

Author’s Note: I wrote this before the edition of Raw before the draft, so i’m assuming Dean Ambrose is still champ because please don’t take that away from us WWE I beg you! Also i’m assuming that the televised portion of the draft will be around 15 picks for Smackdown and 20 for Raw, but depending on how thing go it may be much shorter. Here’s to hoping they do a Network Special after Smackdown continuing the draft.

  1. Raw: Brock Lesnar – Since Brock is labeled officially eligible and he is coming off his (controversial) win at UFC 200 over Mark Hunt, Stephanie McMahon comes out and says, “Lesnar duh blah blah blah best for business” while JBL creams his pants yelling random facts about something possibly related to Lesnar that happened at least 30 years ago.
  1. SmackDown!: John Cena – Good guy Shane picks “The Face That Runs the Place.” Although working a lighter schedule, he’s still one of the most popular guys on the roster and can help work with the up and coming guys in a role similar to The Undertaker on the original brand split in 2005.
  1. Raw: Seth Rollins – Steph picks another “best for business” type person so JBL can shoot his load again. Even if he doesn’t win the WWE Championship at Battleground Rollins will most likely be in the running for whatever top title Raw gets heading into SummerSlam.
  1. SmackDown!: Dean Ambrose – The WWE Champion (hopefully) comes in at number four and gives a promo about how with Rollins now on a different show, he’s going to make sure he tears him to pieces at Battleground (because, you know, that’s still happening).
  1. Raw: Roman Reigns – With the other two members of The Shield drafted, Stephanie uses her first of two picks to grab Roman Reigns because the WWE loves symmetry like this; if only so Jerry Lawler has an easy to remember factoid to say between shotgunning cans of Mountain Dew Kickstart. Raw’s evil commissioner does the obvious “Oh nooooo somebody isn’t here, womp, womp” speech that Rollins has been doing before reminding us that Reigns beat her and her husband up at WrestleMania and vows to make his life hell. Or Reigns finally turns heel (but probably the first thing).

6. Raw: Charlotte – In order to push the Divas Revolution, Stephanie IMMEDIATELY does a 180 and turns face for a good minute or so. With her so-called “free pick,” she drafts Women’s Champion Charlotte. This would A) make the women look as important than the men, seeing as she is drafted before the Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team Champions, B) keep the whole Stephanie as women’s division advocate thing going and C) give much needed variety and content for the three-hour Raw so that they, you know, actually make those three hours entertaining.

  1. SmackDown!: A.J. Styles – I’m tempted to say at this point that Shane panics and picks another champion for his show, but since he already has the WWE Champ (and no heels so far) he goes with Styles. We see him celebrating with The Club backstage as all three are like, “Woo, we’re going to Smackdown!”
  1. Raw: Randy Orton – The last of the “God Tier” people on the roster, Stephanie picks her old champ from The Authority days (hopefully The Draft doesn’t bring this angle back and lets it die the quick death it deserves). This leaves Orton on the same roster as Lesnar, his SummerSlam opponent.
  1. SmackDown!: Rusev  Shane locks up his second singles champion to give The Blue Brand their championships. Rusev seems more like a SmackDown! guy over the flashier Miz and would be a good workhorse for Tuesday nights. Also, Lana goes to SmackDown! in the non-televised portion of the draft because the WWE already learned their lesson on splitting them up.
  1. Raw: The Miz – The Miz comes out and starts lashing out about what a travesty it is that he fell to number ten. He thinks he should have been number one and gives a big shouty promo about Hollywood A-List yadda yadda yadda.

11. Raw: The New Day – Stephanie figures she might as well lock up the last champions and picks The New Day. However, The Tag Titles will be defended on both shows, but the current champs will call Raw their home base. Similar thoughts to having the women on Raw for The New Day: they can eat up part of the three hours while making it actually worth watching.

12. SmackDown!: Samoa Joe – With all the champions and upper tier people chosen, Shane chooses at this time to continue his whole “New Era” schtick and makes the first NXT selection in Joe to a huge pop. Cut to the locker room and everyone has crapped their pants over potentially being a victim of Joe’s wrath. The camera lingers on A.J. Styles’ reaction because of their history (that WWE kinda-sorta acknowledges).

13. Raw: Bray Wyatt – Steph goes monster for monster with her brother and (rather nervously) picks Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds comes out and creepily smiles at her to further freak her out as Triple H steps up to Wyatt, playing on their Royal Rumble interaction and maybe teasing a match in the future?

14. SmackDown!: Kevin Owens – KO gets drafted, does his KO thing by insulting everyone, tells Shane he’s glad all his daredevil antics left at least a few of his brain cells working and leaves.

15. Raw: Sasha Banks – Somebody reminds Steph that Charlotte needs somebody to wrestle on Raw and picks The Boss, because we all know the inevitable match between the two is coming at SummerSlam.

16. Raw: Finn Balor – Balor goes to Raw to another big pop to the crowd. Steph makes fun of Shane for stealing what would (presumably) be one of the cornerstones of his “New Era.” Backstace, The Club is happy for their boy finally being called up to the main roster.

17. SmackDown!: Cesaro – The Swiss Superman goes here because something, something, SmackDown! will be a wrestling show while JBL shrieks, “UPPERCUT PARTY MAGGLE” for no reason.

18. Raw: Sheamus – “Oh yeah, Sheamus is still a thing.”- Stephanie McMahon moments before drafting The Celtic Warrior.

19. SmackDown!: Sami Zayn – KO comes back out to flip out on Shane. He demands to be traded to Raw rather than have to deal with Zayn after their Battleground match. Things get heated and eventually an army of referees have to hold back KO from Zayn and Shane (I’m so excited for their match I have to stand in front of the fridge to cool down).

20. Raw: The Big Show – The Big Show literally eats a pick here before shuffling off to the back.

21. Raw: Chris Jericho – I’m tempted to put Jericho on SmackDown! as he seems more focused on working with younger guys, but given his part-time status and the fact that Cena already can fill that role more regularly he will be on Raw.

22. SmackDown!: Enzo and Cass – These two are constantly rumored for being split up in the draft, but considering people only take about four of the WWE tag teams seriously they need to stick together. The two act much like The New Day do on Raw: delivering fun promos and eating up time.

23. Raw: The Usos – At this point I see a run on tag teams to help fill in the rosters. The Usos stay on the show with their cousin because family and such.

24. Smackdown: Kalisto – I’m not sure if this counts as a tag team split, since Kalisto and Sin Cara are listed as singles competitors instead of the team they usually are. Nonetheless, Kalisto goes to Tuesdays just in case they start the Cruiserweight division up again.

25. Raw: Becky Lynch – I see Raw using these extra picks as a way to emphasize the women’s division while still making them feel tacked on. The Lass Kicker (side note: please give her a new nickname. I love Lynch, but there ‘s no way I go out in public with “Lass Kicker” written on my chest. Don’t need people thinking I hit women)  goes to Raw to continue her role as “early 90’s Sting” to the ladies.

26. Raw: The Club – A.J. is super upset his boys are leaving and they have a big bro hug. It’s a touching moment…interrupted by Finn Balor. The Club and Balor immediately partake in an even bigger bro hug and start “Too Sweet-ing” each other and go away laughing. This leaves Styles with a bit of sympathy for his inevitable babyface return and plants the seeds of a Balor heel turn with The Club.

27. SmackDown!: The Wyatt Family – I know all the Wyatts are listed as individual competitors but hear me out. Shane, realizing Raw has way more superstars than SmackDown!, makes a bold move and drafts Erick Rowan, Braun Strowman and Luke Harper. Rowan and Strowman come out followed by Harper, who at this point should be healed up enough from his knee injury to at least make an appearance. Harper goes on a tear and declares they don’t need Bray Wyatt and the three of them can take on anybody in the WWE. Honestly, I feel like the Wyatt Family is toxic for everyone involved due to their horrendous booking. Bray has his family eat loses for him on free TV while he loses nearly every Pay Per View feud he has. Time to split them up and let Bray run wild on Raw while Harper guides Rowan and Strowman in the tag team division. Everyone wins…hopefully.

28. Raw: Dolph Ziggler– My how Ziggler has fallen. Hopefully with the split roster he can get back on track.

29. Smackdown: Alberto Del Rio– See Dolph Ziggler.

30. Raw: Nikki Bella – With the show running out of top picks, Stephanie picks the former Divas Champion, who comes out looking classy with or without a neck brace. She reminds everyone that she is now officially the longest running Diva’s champ of all time thanks to the title being retired and that the only reason Charlotte beat her was because her neck wasn’t 100 percent. Even if Nikki does not return immediately they should address her status during the draft.

31. Raw: Darren Young – I would have had Young getting drafted off camera, but since he’s challenging for the Intercontinental Championship at Battleground he will probably show up here with Bob Backlund screaming inaudibly behind him.

32. SmackDown!: Zack Ryder – Same story as Darren Young, only for the United States title.

33. Raw: Nia Jax – With her second NXT pick Steph strengthens her women’s division with Jax, who (along with Balor) is frequently rumored for a call up.

34. SmackDown!: American Alpha – Shane uses his final (televised) pick on the hot NXT tag team, just in case you forgot that Shane and GM Daniel Bryan love you and want you to be happy.

35. Raw: Paige – Just to hammer home the Divas, here is Paige going to Raw.

As for the rest of the roster, here is where I see them going; along with the final NXT picks.

Raw: Baron Corbin, Demon Kane, Jack Swagger, Sin Cara, Titus O’Neil, Golden Truth, Shining Stars, The Vaudevillians, the rest of the women and Mojo Rawley (NXT call up).

SmackDown!: Apollo Crews, Mark Henry, Neville, Breezango, The Social Outcasts, The Ascension, The Dudley Boyz, Hideo Itami (NXT call up).

Manopera! Episode 20: MITB 2016 – Suspensions and Speculations

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

Spaceman Frank’s Money in the Bank 2016 Predictions

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

by Frank Lucci

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

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

MITB Kickoff: The Lucha Dragons vs. The Dudley Boyz

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

The Golden Truth vs. Breezango

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

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

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

Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus

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

Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Natalya and Becky Lynch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

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

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

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

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

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

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