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Manopera! Episode 39: WrestleMania 33 Part 2 – DayShiftAMania Runs Wild

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Chris and Spaceman Frank are joined by www.ProWrestlingOpinion.com‘s Nicholas Jason Lopez to review WrestleMania 33, it’s aftermath, and speculate on the “Superstar Shakeup” angle. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on the JBL/Mauro Ranallo situation.

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

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Spaceman Frank’s WrestleMania 33 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

WrestleMania 33 is almost upon us, and it has to be better than last year’s WrestleMania…right?

The overall build has been very vanilla for the most part, with a few matches given stellar storylines while others feel like WWE just picked names out of a hat, announced a match, then moved on. Even more curious is that WWE has chosen to fill up much of the Raws and SmackDowns before the Ultimate Thrill Ride with mini rivalries that won’t even factor into the main show such as Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Luke Harper vs. Bray Wyatt, and Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke. Sure, there might be something to these throwaway matches on WrestleMania, but why cram all that into the preamble when you could just wait until after the Show of Shows and actually build up the main matches for the biggest show of the year?

However, it is WrestleMania after all, and there is always enough buzz in the air about the event to keep you excited enough to check it out. As I explained it to my manager at work, WrestleMania is like Christmas if it lasted for three days…so I guess that makes it a Mini-Hanukkwanzikkah. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my WrestleMania 33 predictions!

2017 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

I wish this opened the show proper, as battle royals are always fun and wacky affairs and a good way to cart out all the mid and lower card wrestlers to give them some attention before the “real” (AKA part time) wrestlers take over the show. WWE initially seemed to be trying to build up this event by announcing a few guys early, but then did absolutely nothing with this match for weeks. Then they plugged in all the guys from SmackDown’s tag team division (sorry lads, better luck next year!) and here we go.

Really, this is the Braun Strowman show, and it seems stupidly obvious he is going to win here. I think it will come down to him and Sami Zayn, Zayn will struggle a bit, and then he will get tossed into the second row of the arena and crowd surfed away. Or maybe James Ellsworth will be last and sneak out a victory before being thrown into the second bowl of the stadium. Or, Beth Phoenix will enter and recreate her spot from the 2010 Royal Rumble and kiss Strowman so she can eliminate him. Just kidding, Strowman is hoofing people over the rope like it’s his favorite activity (which it is).

Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

Aries, being the pro that he is, sold me on this match when a fan asked him if he was upset that he was on the pre-show. He responded with “The pre-show just became must-watch, so no.” Classic.

I think this has potential to be a top three match of the evening, and both men have elevated the Cruiserweight division. The problem is while they are riding high they forgot to bring the rest of the division with them. I really wish they would have made this a multi man ladder match to get more people involved, but whatever. Neville needs to keep the belt here, but Austin is not a bad choice to prematurely end the reign of the king. Neville wins and this feud lasts for quite a bit as both men step up their game and keep the division hot.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Championship Match)

With the Smackdown women getting the bump back up to the main card of ‘Mania, I honestly think this will take it’s place on the pre-show. It’s not fair to the men involved because they have made the most of the limited minutes of TV time they have seemed to get over four weeks to build this.

Ambrose has done nothing since getting the belt, which is a shame considering Miz and Dolph Ziggler worked so hard to get people to actually care about the Intercontinental title again. Corbin does really well whenever the WWE give him something to sink into, and this feud has plenty of untapped potential. Also, if it were taking place at any other time it would be a marquee match. Instead, they’ll probably get the shaft and we get a condensed version of what could have been. Corbin wins because he needs the belt while Ambrose can bounce around wherever needed. Plus, Corbin has a better chance of elevating the belt to where it was before.

The Club (c) vs. Enzo and Big Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match)

This would have been my choice to get bumped to the preshow if it was not for the ladder stipulation that was tacked on after Sheamus had his head graphically split open. It seems like an odd stipulation given that there are plenty of huge men that I don’t see flying around and falling off ladders. I get the sinking feeling Enzo is going to bounce around like a pinball, and maybe Cesaro will fly around as well doing something inhumanly athletic (seriously, I’m pretty sure the guy is part of the X-Men. Is Cesaro secretly Cyclops? I’ve never seen them in the same room…). Anyway, I’d like The Club to retain now that they actually have the belts, but I think Enzo and Cass will get the win. They will have the feel good moment of the night, and since they are all over the Network’s build to the event it would make sense. They have deserved gold for some time, and it might as well be at WrestleMania.

Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Naomi (Six Pack Challenge for WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

After some confusion with Naomi’s injury status we initially had this match advertised as SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss competing against every available women wrestler on the blue brand going for the belt.

However, WWE is now selling this as a Six Pack Challenge, so I’m not sure if any surprise entrants are coming. I’ll just take this match as is, but if any surprise entrants do show up I think it will be Tamina Snuka over somebody like Asuka (especially since she retained her NXT Women’s Championship at NXT TakeOver: Orlando). Despite the multitude of ladies in this match, this might as well be Bliss vs. Naomi since they are the only two with a real chance of winning. Naomi is the popular pick here to win in her hometown, but Bliss is just too good as champ to lose the belt this quick. I think Bliss will retain after we get the customary R1 chain of finishers spot and we can transition into continuing her feud with Naomi.

Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles

After putting the company on his back for months and delivering stellar matches with everyone under the sun, Styles deserves a better ‘Mania match than Shane O’Mac. The Boy Wonder pretty much has just one move – and while it is a spectacular one, this match is just a standard one, so I doubt we will see him dropping elbows off of something tall.

Instead, Styles will spend the whole match making his onscreen boss look good, despite Shane’s history of rather dubious boxing (drop the punches and focus on either diving off things or learning some real moves). That being said, they did do a fine job of building this contest, and they could not really do anything else differently to make it better. Shane is the weak point in it all, and we don’t need a Shane O’Mania match every year to go with the Undertaker and Triple H matches every year.

AJ wins and moves on to something bigger and better once the part timers are gone.

Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (Non-Sanctioned Match)

I have a big problem with this match from a kayfabe perspective. If Rollins signed the Hold Harmless papers and agreed to an unsanctioned match, what is to stop Triple H from bringing Samoa Joe or even some NXT callups from just dogpiling on Rollins?

Issues with the logic aside, this will be a fun little match depending on how healthy Rollins really is. WWE keeps running video packages telling us how devastatingly hurt he is, yet for a guy coming to the ring in crutches he sure can hit a lot of leg/knee-based moves (RIP kayfabe). Triple H will work said knee and generally be an evil bastard for a while, send Rollins to Dad Bod City before Crossfit Jesus recovers and wins the match via Holy Crossfit Powers (it is a Sunday, after all).

John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse

The build to this has been absolutely golden, and it is easy to get people into this match based on the easily consumable YouTube videos that the skits and promo wars have produced.

Props to WWE for realizing that giving The Miz a chance to jab and poke the bear is the best. He is so good, and while people think this is a step down for Cena I think this is a makeup made in heaven. Plus, getting their respective female life partners involved also helps elevate their own division in the process. Sure, Maryse has not competed since coming back to WWE, but she is a former Divas champ and can go if need be. Having these two alongside a bonafide Superstar like Cena and the veteran Miz shows WWE has faith in their women to compete with the best of the men.

Cena has said that he is going to run through Miz with no problem, which makes me think Mr. and Mrs. Miz are going to get the win. Maryse gets the sneaky heel rollup because The Miz’s are just that good of bad guys. As for the rumored proposal of Cena to Nikki, I honestly don’t care, but if they do get engaged then congrats – but only if it’s for real and not happy ending storyline purposes (which would actually prove Miz right, turning Cena heel in real life).

Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Nia Jax (Fatal 4-Way for WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

WWE shot their load early by giving the title to Bayley on Raw, which would have been the WrestleMania worthy moment. Instead, she ended Charlotte’s undefeated Pay-Per-View streak at Fastlane to further kill interest in this match and then said “screw it” and added Sasha Banks and then Nia Jax to this feud.

I think this was WWE’s only choice, and hopefully they mix things up soon because I am rapidly growing sick of seeing the same matches over and over again on Raw. Jax is my dark horse here, and I think she needs to eliminate Charlotte to establish how dominant she really is, then feud with her going forward. Sasha and Bayley should then team up to take Jax down before Sasha does a betrayal five to win the belt.

Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens (United States Championship Match)

THE MEGA BEST FRIENDS EXPLODE!

The Festival of Friendship is the new standard of ending friendships in wrestling, and since then these two men have done…not a whole lot. Sure, Owens lost the Universal Championship when Y2J meandered out at Fastlane to distract him, but since then Owens has been regulated to one of Triple H’s lackeys – the other being Samoa Joe (who for reasons unknown is not on the card at all). Jericho will probably be done with his current run by May, and since he has done nothing with the US title, I see Owens grabbing it here.

They then can have an Extreme Rules match to settle things and have Owens destroy him to write Jericho off TV. Then we can pray for an Evolution 2.0 with Owens, Joe, Pete Dunne, and Triple H because that would be excellent.

Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship Match)

One of the best long term stories WWE has put on since Rock vs. Cena sees Bray finally getting his belt and defending it against WWE’s longest tenured crazy person.

Seeing Wyatt get his due was great, but the build to this match since has been hit and miss. Orton commits arson and nobody but AJ Styles seems to bat an eye, while Wyatt spreads ashes all over himself and gets some buddies to beat up Orton with him. This should be a Triple Threat with Luke Harper involved, but maybe next month he can get his chance at the main event. However, I see Harper making his presence felt before the returning Erick Rowan takes him out and helps Wyatt retain.

Side note: I really don’t want to see babyface Orton on top of SmackDown. He is a boring good guy and I just cannot handle it. Please don’t do this WWE.

Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Universal Title Match)

You know you’ve got a barnburner of a match on your hands when the champ has wrestled five minutes in the past three months, has two moves in his arsenal, and has not defended the belt since winning it.

When your champion of a brand featuring some truly talented individuals threatens to hit a third move in interviews, you know your main event scene is messed up. Brock Lesnar has been severely damaged by all this, so I hope he destroys Goldberg to win the belt and we get The Beast returning to his unstoppable ways. With Goldberg’s run rumored to be finished after ‘Mania, he is probably going to lose.

The next night on the Raw after ‘Mania, Finn Balor comes out and challenges Brock to a match for the belt he never lost, kicks Lesnar’s head in, and I start caring about the Universal Championship again.

Side note: The Beast Incarnate vs. The Demon King is serious money. Please do this WWE.

The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns

This is rumored to go on last, and I think it should – especially if this is Undertaker’s last match (judging from his frankly rough look over the past few weeks, I believe this to be true).

Triple H has already stated in interviews that Reigns is the heel here, so I’m glad they’re smart enough to realize that nobody is cheering him over ‘Taker. ‘Taker does not seem very mobile, so this will be a plodding affair since Reigns is not good enough to elevate a match with a limited opponent. Expect a greatest hits package from Undertaker in a match that will be more memorable for the crowd giving Reigns the business rather than anything entertaining happening in the ring. Reigns wins due to ‘Taker being a pro and wanting to put people over, plus the rumored ‘Mania 34 main event of Reigns vs. Lesnar being more interesting if both men have beaten the Undertaker at WrestleMania.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!

Manopera! Episode 37: WrestleMania 33 Preview with All the Fixins!

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Chris and Frank give their picks and previews for WrestleMania 33 as well as their take on the controversial Twitter hack surrounding Paige, Xavier Woods, and others. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on the hacker.

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

Spaceman Frank’s Survivor Series 2016 Predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Goldberg

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

Spaceman Frank Does Monday Night RAW

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by Frank Lucci

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spaceman Frank’s WWE 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).

Bullet Club Must Debut at Extreme Rules

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For months WWE has been teasing the debut of the Bullet Club.

Rather than deliver the goods at what appeared to have been gift wrapped by booking, WWE continued to play mind games with the WWE Universe at both last Sunday’s WWE Payback and this past Monday Night Raw.

It now seems very obvious that possibly the hottest stable since the NWO will make their debut at WWE Extreme Rules on Sunday, May 22 in New Jersey’s Prudential Center.

Unfortunately, due to the near perfect setup at Payback it looks as though the debut will come out of necessity.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and A.J. Styles had a phenomenal match until the (initial) finish, when Styles defeated Reigns via countout. Unsatisfied with this decision, Shane McMahon decided to restart the match and added a no countout stipulation.

This was fine until Reigns hit an accidental low blow on the challenger, resulting in a disqualification. Equal parts unhappy with the outcome and wanting to upstage her brother, Stephanie McMahon re-restarted the match with no countouts and no disqualifications to determine a clear winner.

Out came Styles buddies the Good Brothers, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson followed by Reigns’s cousins the Usos.

Things just got interesting.

The match went on with minor distractions for each competitor and their feuding cohorts as they all began brawling. It seemed as if any moment Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura would make their main roster debuts and give the WWE Universe the notorious Bullet Club.

Nope.

Instead Reigns defeated Styles with a Spear, who was given an Extreme Rules rematch at (you guessed it) Extreme Rules almost immediately by the McMahons due to his incredible performance (which is fine).

With a six man tag match main event between Styles, the Good Brothers, Reigns and the Usos set for the following Raw, it almost seemed as if the Bullet Club would surely debut the next night.

Nope.

With Extreme Rules coming up at the end of the month, the fans are getting restless and the surprise factor is fading. WWE must strike while the iron is hot or they run the risk of shooting the Bullet Club down before it has a chance to fire its first round.

Manopera! Episode 16: Remembering Chyna with Bullet Club Dreams

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After the breaking news of WWE Superstar Joanie “Chyna” Laurer’s passing, Chris and Frank pay their respects to the Ninth Wonder of the World before getting into TNA’s possible new partners, WWE Payback’s build so far and fantasy booking the Bullet Club’s official WWE arrival.

Manopera! Episode 15: ‘Mania Week Part 2 – WrestleMania 32 SuperShow

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What did Chris and “Spaceman” Frank think of ‘Mania 32 and the aftermath on Raw? Find out in the second and final part of this leviathan podcast as they are joined by Nicholas Jason Lopez of ProWrestlingOpinion.com.

 

Spaceman Frank’s WrestleMania 32 Predictions

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By Frank Lucci

Spring is here and the WWE is gearing up for their biggest event of the year, WrestleMania.

While ‘Mania 32 has had many setbacks, from injuries to….more injuries, the McMahons are soldiering on with who they have available. Despite many fans and critics ready to write the Pay-Per-View off, over 84,000  tickets have been sold for the event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This means that the WWE universe will at least make WrestleMania 32 a big financial win for the company and a memorable spectacle to behold regardless as to whether the event itself is a hit or miss. Here is Spaceman Frank’s ‘Mania 32 predictions.

Kalisto (C) vs. Ryback (United States Championship match)

It’s funny how without John Cena the U.S. championship has gone from respected belt to jerking the curtain on the pre-show. Kalisto is a great wrestler and fine champion who deserves a properly built match at ‘Mania. Instead he gets a newly turned heel in Ryback and nonexistent booking heading into the event. This could have been a promising feud, with Ryback really hammering home his “I hate small people” gimmick by taking out Kalisto’s tag partner Sin Cara and El Torito so the masked luchador has a personal stake in beating Ryback. At the end of the day, it’s  better than nothing. Kalisto wins to pop the crowd early.

The Total Divas (Brie Bella, Paige, Natalya, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie) vs. B.A.D. & Blonde (Lana, Summer Rae,Naomi, Emma and Tamina)

It’s the cast of Total Divas versus the female wrestlers not good enough to have a title match. With three good wrestlers out of ten (four if you merge Naomi and Alicia Fox into one person), this will not be a five star classic. Throw in Lana having her first match ever and the always controversial Eva Marie making the card and this could be a Botchamania highlight reel. Hopefully things will be kept short and fast paced so the women have a chance to put on a good match. Total Divas win because they have a show and the others don’t.

The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz

Last Summer the Dudley Boyz came back to the WWE and proceed to do fuck-all for several months. Last Fall the Usos also came back from injury and proceed to do fuck-all for several months as well (TIME FOR A ‘MANIA FEUD BROTHER!). Having the Dudleys turn heel and renounce using tables is a good idea, but this feud means very little with nothing at stake. This contest should have been for a title shot or at least a tables match to give fans something to look forward to. At least the match itself should be fun to watch. The Dudleys win because they are the veteran team  and The Usos can take the loss and still be cheered by the kids who miss Cena.

Kevin Owens (C) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Stardust (Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match)

Why the WWE decided this match needed to be a seven man ladder match and not the U.S. Championship match I have no idea. The WWE have an obvious money feud with Owens vs. Zayn, but apparently last year’s ladder match warranted a repeat. It also speaks volumes about the current roster depth that Zack Ryder and Sin Cara are rounding out the participants of this match. That being said, this could be a show stealer as there is loads of talent in the match who will be willing to put their bodies on the line for the belt. Owens has been a great heel and deserves to keep his title, so I see him taking advantage of his main rival Sami Zayn having wrestled Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT Takeover: Dallas two days earlier to win the match and retain his championship.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

On paper this match is nothing special. However, the rumors for the last few spots in the match make the third annual battle royal intriguing. The Wyatts are not booked for WrestleMania, leaving many to expect Bray or Braun Strowman to win the match and comically oversized trophy. However, none other than Cesaro has been spotted in Dallas without an arm sling, leading many to assume he will be making an appearance after several months on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Bray, Braun and Cesaro are all potential winners as long as they actually get in the match, but if not i’m going with Heath Slater since the Social Outcasts were among the first participants announced and the surprise alone would spark a great reaction.

AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

It would be much more important if this was not the fourth match between the two grapplers.

Jericho is best as a heel and Styles is a perfect foil for him, but the two should have been kept apart more before ‘Mania. Considering that pretty much every Styles match with a popular WWE wrestler has dream match potential it would be better if the former “Mr. TNA” had a big name rival to take on instead of WWE’s most frequent part timer. This feud has not been bad, but at this point I expect Styles to win and move on asap.

The New Day vs. The League of Nations (3 on 4 handicap match)

Another curious booking decision by the WWE is to have the tag team championship not defended at WrestleMania. Even weirder is the fact that I feel like The New Day have beaten every member of the League repeatedly for the past few months. The New Day are one of the best things going in the WWE, but they need some real rivals stat or they could quickly fade into the background. This will be remembered more for whatever entrance and promo The New Day has beforehand than what happens in the ring, and there is no reason to believe the tag champs lose here.

Charlotte (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (Triple Threat match for WWE Divas Championship)

This feud has quietly been one of the better put together matches heading into WrestleMania. Charlotte has been great as the heel champ, Becky is the scorned friend and challenger with a score to settle and Sasha is the wildcard who can swing either way if push comes to shove. Throw in Ric Flair, Snoop Dogg and a potential return to the Women’s Championship the following night on Raw and this easily could top the men’s matches on the card. While Charlotte has been a worthy champ, Banks will beat Becky to win the belt, setting up Charlotte vs. Banks for a later date.

Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell match: If Shane wins he controls Raw and Undertaker cannot compete at ‘Mania again if he loses)

Shane O’Mac coming back was great…until he started talking…and trying to throw punches…and they threw in too many stipulations into the match. Shane coming back should be great, but in 2016 there’s no reason he should be facing The Undertaker in one of his final matches. Blaming injuries is too easy, the WWE should’ve had someone available for one of their most legendary performers then the boss’ 46-year-old son. The WWE has been desperately trying to show Shane as a threat to Taker but I’d believe my dog is the queen of Neptune before I’d believe “The Money” beats The Phenom. Taker wins, everyone cheers and Shane probably bleeds a bunch.

Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose (Street Fight)

The street fight to end all street fights. Ambrose may have found a perfect opponent in Lesnar as he can go all out against The Beast while getting thrown around like a ragdoll. I can see the two going at it in the crowd as tens of thousands of people swarm the two men. Having WWE legends Terry Funk and Mick Foley giving Ambrose pep talks and lethal weapons (that couldn’t possibly be used in the match) is a nice touch. The only downside is that Ambrose is most likely taking the loss here, even though he’s been overdue for a big win for some time. This match will be physical and most likely the best worked match of all the big main events at ‘Mania and I see Lesnar taking home the victory after suplexing everything and everyone in sight.

Triple H (C) vs. Roman Reigns (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)

The WWE has backed themselves into a corner here.

With crowds refusing to cheer Reigns and slyly behind Triple H, this could end very, very poorly for WWE. While the crowd at last year’s ‘Mania were treated to a surprise Money in the Bank cash in, this appears to be Reign’s time to take home the gold. Reigns has done himself no favors in interviews, with condescending remarks towards adult fans who boo him. It’s no wonder that Triple H has the crowd behind him considering shite comments like that. The hottest mess in what is a hot mess of a card, Reigns wins the belt after the crowd loses their voices from booing so the WWE has an easier time piping in cheers on replays of the event.