Tag Archives: Sasha Banks

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.

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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 Ranks WWE’s 2016 PPV’s

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by Frank Lucci

2016 was a very up and down year for WWE live specials. While the company has one of the most talented rosters they have ever had, but oftentimes the booking and build makes PPV matches transparent and predictable. So while many matches are of high quality, the endings sour the overall match. Call it the Lost effect. Another big factor in the up and down year for WWE is the sheer amount of events the company put on, which can be intimidating to people trying to catch of or find highlights from the year. Fortunately, Spaceman Frank is here to rank every single main roster WWE live specials (no Takeovers here cause they would pretty much fill up all the top spots) and give his highs and lows from the events.

Royal Rumble

This was one of the best events of the year, and since it came first it gave me plenty of hope for the upcoming year. Sure, it would have been difficult to match the dumpster fires of the previous two years. But with Reigns walking in as champ the doubt was there. Between the stellar Ambrose vs. Owens last man standing match to Alberto Del Rio’s best match of his second WWE versus Kalisto the undercard delivered. Then the Rumble was full of amazing moments from AJ Styles debuting to Zayn charging in to take out Owens to Triple H hoofing out Reigns as I screamed profanities at sad sack Reigns, this is an easy PPV to rewatch.

Highlights: Owens vs. Ambrose, Del Rio vs. Kalisto, Rumble Match

Lowlights: League of Nations failing to eliminate Reigns, Reigns acting tough in returning while Dean and Owens entered after a Last Man Standing Match

Extreme Rules

Building on the previous event Payback, this live special had many fantastic matches. The fatal four way for the IC title was amazing and began The Miz’s epic run as IC champ. Kalisto and Rusev had a nice little match as well. The New Day had one of their more memorable promos before their match which was better than their actual match. And the main event actually delivered with AJ Styles pulling the best match out of Reign with their extreme rules match. However, The Asylum match was pretty lame and Charlotte again failed to impress against Nattie.

Highlights: Zayn vs. Owens vs. Miz vs. Cesaro, AJ vs. Reigns, New Day promo.

Lowlights: Jericho vs. Ambrose, Flair vs. Nattie

Summerslam

On one hand you have my match of the year match with Cena vs. Styles II on this card. Throw in a great considering one member of the match had to pop his shoulder back in place bout between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins and a pure spectacle match between Brock and Orton and this was a very solid PPV. What was suppose to great was great and even the stuff that could have been better was at least memorable. Throw in Nikki Bella returning and a solid Women’s title match and there is a lot to like here. Mostly makes up for the long run time, though Miz vs Crews did nobody any favors and The New Day vs. The Club match being when the latter team officially went off the rails. Easy enough to skip the filler however especially if you ignore the pre-show.

Highlights: Cena vs. Styles II, Rollins vs. Balor, Banks vs. Charlotte, Orton vs. Lesnar

Lowlights: Miz vs. Crews, The Club vs. The New Day, Ambrose vs. Ziggler

Backlash

The first SmackDown exclusive PPV was memorable, which is why it is high on this list. When the WWE crams as many live specials as possible into the calendar many PPVs just do not feel like they are significant. Yet this one had the crowning of multiple new champions, and in matches that were fantastic to boot. Sure the Wyatt vs. Orton match got cancelled last minute and we had to sit through Bray westling Kane instead, but that was the only blemish on the PPV. Good stuff that set the standard that SmackDown Live would dominate Raw.

Highlights: Six Women Elimination Match for Smackdown Women’s Championship, Slater & Rhyno vs. The Usos for Smackdown Tag Team Belt, Miz vs. Ziggler I

Lowlights: Kane vs. Wyatt

TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs

While this was a pretty high quality PPV, there was many matches that were repeats. Smackdown can get away with it a little bit because of the quality of the matches, but it is a systemic problem in WWE. Miz vs. Ziggler III was great as a ladder match, and Ambrose took Styles to the limit in their TLC match that was probably the best Ambrose match of the year. The rest of the card was pretty tight as well, even if Nikki Bella could not figure out how to use a kendo stick the right way.

Highlights: Ambrose vs. Styles, Miz vs. Ziggler III, Kalisto vs. Corbin, Bliss vs. Lynch

Lowlights: Ten Man Tag Team Pre-show Match

Survivor Series

The big story out of Survivor Series was Goldberg destroying Lesnar, which is memorable sure but did screw over fans looking to see these guys actually face off in an actual match. Definitely something you do not need to re-watch again. One the plus side the men’s Survivor Series match was excellent and delivered on all fronts. The other elimination matches were also fun to watch as well and help reestablish why the gimmick match has worked over the years. Zayn vs. Miz was pretty lame though and WWE blew it by not having Kalisto win the Cruiserweight belt. Good for the gimmick matches but this will always be remembered for Goldberg’s return.

Highlights: Survivor Series Elimination Matches

Lowlights: Zayn vs. Miz, Kane vs. Harper

Money in the Bank

The obvious emotional highlight was Dean Ambrose cashing in and winning the WWE Championship on Seth Rollins less than two hours after winning the Money in the Bank briefcase. WWE finally put a bow on their epic rivalry and had an actual fan favorite win the belt and get a positive response from the crowd. We also got Cena vs. AJ Styles I, starting perhaps the best rivalry of the year. While there was many good matches there was also too much filler at 11 total matches on the PPV. Almost great but not quite there.

Highlights: Cena vs. AJ I, MITB Ladder Match, Ambrose’s Cash-In

Lowlights: Pre-show, Fatal Four Way Tag Team Match, Corbin vs. Ziggler III, Crews vs. Sheamus

Payback

This was a very good PPV marred by the usual questionable booking. Nattie vs. Flair was a joke that nobody laughed at. We got the beginning of the endless Ziggler vs. Corbin match that did nobody any favors. Plus we got one of the scariest scenes of the year when Enzo Amore got knocked out during his match.Yet this is a solid PPV that set up much of the live special content for the next few months. We got the first of the Zayn vs. Owens Fight Forever matches along with the best Ryback match ever vs. Kalisto (sensing a pattern with Kalisto here). Not bad but not the best.

Highlights: Zayn vs. Owens I, Kalisto vs. Ryback

Lowlights: Natalya vs. Flair, Ziggler vs. Corbin

No Mercy

Similar to Payback, WWE put on another event with weird booking. Putting the WWE championship match first was odd, and when it turned out to be the one of the best match on the card it definitely hurt the PPV. We also got the amazing Miz vs. Ziggler match with Ziggler’s career on the line, which again is hindered slightly in retrospect when they just reset this feud later on. Other than that not much here to get invested in or re-watch.

Highlights: Miz vs Ziggler II, Styles vs. Ambrose vs. Cena

Lowlights: Corbin vs. Swagger, Wyatt vs. Orton

Fastlane

I’m sure Fastlane was a decent show, but I honestly do not remember a single match from this PPV outside of the main event. Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth happened on this show for Christ’s sake. This was also during peak botching Charlotte time, and having Brie Bella as an opponet was not a good look for the Divas at the time. The main event was pretty fun though, and triple threat Brock is probably my favorite Brock. The Edge and Christian segment was also pretty fun, but too long. Very skippable and an obvious stepping stone to Mania.

Highlights: Brock vs. Ambrose vs. Reigns

Lowlights: Pretty much everything else

Hell in a Cell

We did some history here with the first women’s Hell in a Cell match. And Owens vs. Rollins was decent, and Reigns vs. Rusev can get a pass too. However all the Hell in a Cell matches diluted the quality of them all, and the rest of the card was just kind of there. More of the same from Raw in a pattern that continues with the red brand to this day. The best matches were things we have seen before.

Highlights: Banks vs. Charlotte II, Owens vs. Rollins II, Rusev vs. Reign II

Lowlights: Brooke vs. Bayley, The Club vs. Enzo & Cass

Battleground

Simply put, Zayn vs. Owens II saved this PPV from being a complete disaster. So many unmemorable matches or just flat out bad matches that were a product of the upcoming brand split. Cena and Enzo & Cass vs. The Club was ok, and the Shield triple threat was decent but nearly as epic as it should have been. Really this is a very skippable PPV that was screwed by the brand split and made relevant almost as soon as it was over.

Highlights: Owens vs. Zayn II

Lowlights: Miz vs. Young, Rusev vs. Ryder, Wyatts vs. New Day

Roadblock: End of the Line

The last PPV of the year was also one of the worse. Raw continued to just stall for time, this time to make to the Royal Rumble in 2017. Many of these matches just did not matter, and very little changed. Banks vs Charlotte had their best PPV match, but the Iron Man Match was structured weirdly. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The New Day was also a solid match which ended The New Day’s reign, but these two things don’t make up for the blandness of the PPV. Like a steamed carrot this was as meh as it gets.

Highlights: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The New Day, Banks vs. Charlotte III

Lowlights: Rusev vs. Big Cass, TJP vs. Swann vs. Kendrick, Reigns vs. Owens, Jericho vs. Rollins

Clash of Champions

Remember how Backlash set up SmackDown Live as the standard bearer for WWE? Well that notion was solidified when Raw dropped Clash of Champions on us. Owens vs. Rollins should have been better than it was, though Rollins did crack a rib so that is forgivable. Meanwhile most of the other matches seem to feature people sleepwalking through them or just meandering their way through the event so we could get to the next event. Cesaro vs. Sheamus was good though, and now that the best of seven actually paid off it is better in retrospect. Still would have liked to see a definite winner (Cesaro) who got into the main event picture.

Highlights: Cesaro vs. Sheamus

Lowlights: Jericho vs. Zayn, Reigns vs. Lana, TYP vs. Kendrick, Jax vs. Fox

WrestleMania 32

Mania 32 highlighted everything wrong with WWE 2016. The event was seven hours long, had too many matches, and a super predictable main event that should have killed the Roman push dead. Throw in The Rock to set things on fire and waste half an hour to let us know the attendance and murder Erick Rowan’s career and it is easy to see how this was one of the worse events of the year. I cannot imagine how disappointing this must have been to someone who finally got the chance to attend WrestleMania only to see this show. However, the young and hungry talent came through on the big stage, and the ladder match and the women’s triple threat match were great.

Highlights: IC Title Ladder Match, Lynch vs. Banks vs. Flair

Lowlights: The other 6 hours

Manopera! Episode 31: Roadblock (A Star Wars Story)

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Chris and Spaceman Frank begrudgingly discuss WWE’s final Pay-Per-View of the year, Roadblock: End of the Line.

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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.

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.

Manopera! Episode 28: Hell in a Lukewarm Cell

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Chris and Spaceman Frank review the historic Hell in a Cell 2017 and hope for the best come Survivor Series.

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

Spaceman Frank’s Hell in a Cell Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

Halloween approaches, and WWE is attempting to scare their fans by putting on some questionable episodes of Raw before their Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View. The WWE seems to be unable to fill three hours of programming every week for Raw, despite the fact that they have a PPV based on one of their most brutal matches that is supposed to be all about ending feuds.

Three main events means that WWE only has to put in 33-percent of their efforts into what is supposed to be the biggest matches on the red brand. The sad thing is that these matches in a bubble should be fantastic, but weeks of terrible shows (plus tipping their hand and building up Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Survivor Series during all of this) have made this an early candidate for dud of the year. Spaceman Frank is here to sort through all the muck and give his predictions for Hell in a Cell 2016.

Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado and Sin Cara vs. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari (Kickoff)

This match has me mixed up. For one thing, it’s nice that the Cruiserweight Division has multiple matches on a PPV, and this match gives several underutilized guys a chance to make an impression. On the other hand, throwing six guys in the ring with no story is pretty bad booking, and leaving out Rich Swann, who for my money has the most complete character in the division has been left out. Like most pre-show matches, this one has zero stakes, but should at least be fun to watch. The good guys win and get the crowd mild.

Roman Reigns (c) vs. Rusev (Hell in a Cell Match for the United States Championship)

With the rumors swirling around what match will headline this PPV, I get the feeling WWE will get this one out of the way first. People have been clamoring for Reigns to turn heel, and lo and behold we have Reigns as the cocky heel he is supposed to be. Sure Rusev is supposed to be the “bad guy,” but can anyone actually boo the poor guy? He is a happily married man showing off his family’s photos, only for some jock to ruin his life and steal his title. I want Rusev to succeed, but I know he is going to lose here. Can’t Bulgaria catch a break??

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Club

In the battle of going-nowhere tag teams, it’s the audiences who lose out the most. At least Enzo continues to be super entertaining, but the fact that neither of these teams seem to be able to win the big one is a big damper on this match. I wish these guys would set aside their differences and team up on The New Day to give them some sort of challenge for the titles. The Club wins to stop their epic slide since they first showed up because Enzo and Cass can lose as much as they want as long as they cut a promo first.

Dana Brooke vs. Bayley

A filler match on Raw becomes a filler match on Hell in a Cell. Matches like this make it really hard to care about this event, even though Bayley is one of my favorite wrestlers. Instead of giving us depth to their characters and crack writing we have these two farting around wasting time until the WWE figures out what to do with the talent that they have. This should have been a number one contenders match to give us some reason to care. Bayley wins because she is the obvious future contender and Dana is destined to be a henchman to the stars.

The New Day (c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (WWE Tag Team Championships Match)

Typical WWE booking: give away a PPV match the week before sans title. Instead of trying to reward Sheamus and Cesaro for their better than expected Best of Seven series, the WWE deemed the two potential upper midcarders/main eventers only worthy to job out to The New Day as they continue to march on towards the longest tag team reign in WWE history. I really would like The New Day to piss off Stephanie McMahon so she makes them defend the belts every week to make it seem like their reign is in danger, but instead I’m guessing they will coast to the record books. Meanwhile, Sheamus and Cesaro will form League of Nations 2.0 with Noam Dar and Neville.

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

Between TJP being Vince McMahon’s approximation of a Millennial (despite him being 32 years old) and Kendrick just asking for the belt from his opponent it’s hard to be bullish on the Cruiserweights right now. TJP can be a big star if they let him wrestle and speak from his heart, but instead it seems like WWE has already given up on him. Granted, he was probably WWE’s third choice to be the first champ, and if either Kota Ibushi or Zack Sabre Jr. had signed with WWE there’s a 99% chance he would not have the title. Kendrick wins and the dark horse Cruiserweight savior gets first crack at the new heel champ.

Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte (Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

This is the match I have the highest hope for, and deserves to be the true main event of the PPV for the historical implications alone. This match is the only Hell in a Cell match that feels like an actual feud finisher and deserving of the stipulation. That being said, Foley tried to ruin this match during the go-home Raw by constantly questioning if the two women are prepared for the match when he does not do the same thing for the men. I think these women will be the highlight of the night, though I’ll be worried that Banks ends up getting hurt after every bump. Sasha wins and Charlotte spends some time away from the title to freshen things up a bit.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Universal Championship)

I’m excited for what these two do to each other in the cell, but beyond that WWE has done little to hype up this rematch. Rollins is not the white-hot babyface he could have been due to WWE dragging their feet during his heel turn. In addition, Jericho has overshadowed both men in the build, and it is obvious he is going to be inserted into the main event after this PPV. Owens meanwhile is still being delightful, but the build towards his split with Jericho is again overshadowing the task at hand. Owens wins, possibly due to Jericho, Triple H or both interfering and continues to be the afterthought champion.