Tag Archives: SummerSlam

Spaceman Frank’s SummerSlam 2018 Predictions

by Frank Lucci

WWE needs a big win with SummerSlam. After a string of main roster PPV’s that were meh at best and downright depressing at worst they need to prove they can put on a show that people enjoy through and through. To add to the expediency of the moment, we are coming towards Cody Rhodes and the Young Buck’s All In show in September, which is a golden opportunity for independent wrestling to break out for real. I am starting to see a trend with wrestling fans both hardcore and casual to gravitate towards NJPW and indie highlights found on YouTube over watching the dozen or so hours of WWE content produced every week. The barbarians are not quite at the gate, but they are starting to gather down the road. Will parts of SummerSlam be worthy of the second biggest show of the year? Absolutely. Will it all be great? Hell no. But this is a good chance to get some momentum back for the global superpower and quiet some haters. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my SummerSlam 2018 predictions!

The B-Team (C) vs .The Revival (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Preshow Match)

Hey kids, it’s The Revival! Remember them and all the super fun matches they had in NXT… (grabs drink)?

But no really I am happy they are being given something to do, and shows Author’s of Pain fans they just need to wait a year and their boys will finally start being relevant again. Is there any more perfect team to be part of the preshow than a team literally called The B-Team? Bo and Curtis to their credit are pretty fun to watch during their celebrations, but I am pretty sure I’ll be cooking up some sausages while this happens. The B-Team win cause the FTR hashtag.

Rusev and Lana vs. Cien Almas and Zelina Vega

Rusev has gone from number one contender for the WWE Championship to tagging with his wife on the preshow. Hey at least this is one for the scrapbook. Meanwhile Cien and Zelina have slowly moving up the card, but they still are fumbling around the preshow when it matters. But hey at least there should be some good action. Except when Lana tags in. I say Ruru and Lana win because love conquers all.

Cedric Alexander (C) vs. Drew Gulak (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

You know what’s fun to watch? 205 Live. Ced might be the most consistently entertaining champ on the WWE main roster. And Drew has been killing it with his Powerpoint gimmick for some time now, and I guarantee he is every grad student’s favorite wrestler because of his presentations. Can we just make the first hour of Raw 205 Live? They deserve better, but at least there is a growing buzz about the program. Seriously any time you just want a power hour of fine wrestling throw it on. I think Cedric is going to retain in an excellent match.

The Bludgeon Brothers (C) vs. The New Day (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match)

Moving to the main show we got The New Day trying to topple the big old budgies in what should be a fun match. It seems like most fans have given up on the B-Bros, which is a shame cause I think they have done pretty well in an admittedly limited role. The New Day can do whatever they want at this point and people will still love them, but I am ready to see one of them break out and get a run with a solo belt. The Bros win because they are big and have hammers and MY BOY LUKE HARPER IS STILL MY BOY.

Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin

The “Match that is happening for reasons unknown” part of the card sees Finny take on Baron “def not Corporate Kane” Corbin in a rematch somebody must want. Somewhere. At some point I may care about Balor again, probably when he breaks out The Demon again. And I never cared about Baron Corbin, despite being his dad (via time travel. It’s complicated). I have to say Finn wins because he was the first Universal Champ and that should mean something.

Dolph Ziggler (C W/Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (W/ Dean Ambrose) (Intercontinental Championship Match)

Is this considered another overtime period for their Iron Man Match from Extreme Rules? Not sure why we are just getting a strait rematch after that special stipulation match, but whatever. This should be kind of fun, but mostly people will be looking at Dean Ambrose and seeing if he goes for some betrayal. It would certainly be interesting, but I have a feeling they might try to squeeze a quick SHIELD reunion in since the last one crashed and burned so badly. Either way I think Ziggler will win leading to bigger and better things for Sethie and Deanie Poo.

Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Jeff Hardy (United States Championship Match)

Why is this not a triple threat match with Randy Orton? Because Randy is suspended for whipping his penis out at writers (just kidding he’s taking the day off). Nakamura looks great with a title and Jeff is allegedly just as banged up as his brother, so do not expect much. Randy might do a very methodical saunter run in, but really would that make anyone happen? Probably not. Nakamura will retain and hopefully find a worthy opponent of his skills…that does not involve five months of dick kicks.

Carmella (C) vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch (Triple Threat for WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Nobody is ready for Asuka, which is probably why she is she is making slime rather than being part of this match or any part of SummerSlam. I mean, they added Charlotte to the match why not Asuka? Anyway when this was just ‘Mella and Becky I assumed that it was Lynch’s time since she is actually been booked like a winner for once. But then Charlotte was added to the match so I guess it is back to the Loser’s Ball along with Titus Worldwide and Bayley. My vote is Becky and Charlotte eventually get angry at each other over who gets to continue to murder Carmella, leading the champ to get the sneaky roll up win.

Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Ronda Rousey (WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

I feel like this is Ronda’s time. I think WWE is banking on the triumphant imagine of Ronda holding the belt high considering the unknowns of other title matches. This could be the halftime highlight before all the Roman gets everywhere and ruins your night. Plus there is that Evolution show in October that needs a headliner. Plus Alexa Bliss, while a great character, is about as threatening as a feisty kitten. After some hjiinks Ronda wins and hopefully starts showing up more often and moving towards some more physical opponents that can push her to greater heights.

Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens (If Owens wins he will earn Money in the Bank Briefcase, Braun will lose briefcase if disqualified or counted out)

This is happening to add some intrigue to the main event. But we will get to that later. After getting murdered (politely because the crash pad under the announcer table) Owens looks to seek revenge If he didn’t get crushed by Strowman for most of their match I would believe he would have more of a chance. I wanna say there could be a chance he special stipulations come into play, but overall Braun has been booked way smarter than most monsters so I think he will play it smart. Plus c’mon Braun is going to the belt sooner rather than later. Don’t tell me Vince isn’t ready to give him a run on the top.

Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz

The emotional highlight of the night sees these two rivals settle years of conflict and I cannot wait. This is not going to be the jazzy technical match of the night, but these dudes are master storytellers and will milk every high and low for what it is worth.  But who will win? There is a little bit of mystery concerning DB’s contract, but really I cannot imagine him hitting the open market. So with that being said, I think Miz will get the opening salvo of what will be a multi-match affair. There is Hell in a Cell coming up, and Miz can cheat here and keep things going until he is trapped with The American Dragon in a steel cage. Miz wins and his show lasts for seven more seasons Morty!

AJ Styles (C) vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Championship Match)

The real main event of the evening sees two vets beat the piss out of each other. WWE learned from the Styles vs Nakamura feud and made this immediately about Joe’s comments about AJ’s family. It has lead to some amazing promos in addition to this amazing mini documentary which is a must watch. Joe has a chance to be the only man to be WWE, TNA, and Ring of Honor champion in history, and you know what? I think he will do it cause it’s now or never with him. Joe wins, even if his run could be a short one.

Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship)

Welp. Here we are again. The internet is trying to convince themselves that there is some mystery here. Maybe Braun will cash in. Maybe he will make this a triple threat so we do not have to actually watch this rematch.  Maybe Kevin Owens will get the Money in the Bank briefcase and cash in. Maybe Heyman will join Roman. Here what will actually happen: Nothing. It’s time for Roman. We just have to accept it. If the WWE do not have him win now, then he is done. His goose will be cooked. Nobody will take him seriously anymore and WWE knows it. So here we go. It is happening. For Real. LOL ROMAN WINS. Get your beers ready in advanced.

 

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Spaceman Franks NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 Predictions

by Frank Lucci

The summer is coming to a close, which means WWE is about to take over New York CIty. This weekend will feature the usual cornucopia of wrestling hijiinks and the various high and low points WWE fans are accustomed to at this point. First up we have the fourth NXT Takeover event to emanate from Brooklyn, which seems crazy to write.

I never thought the NXT brand would still be going as strong as it was four years later, and barring some poorly timed injuries this was shaping up to be the usual barnburner for the developmental brand. It will still be the bee’s knees, but some of the originality found on the card was robbed when the planned card fell through. I guess we will have to settle for some exciting if unoriginal rematches. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 predictions!

Velveteen Dream vs. EC3

The battle of the incredibly handsome man is the only non title match on the Takeover card. EC3 made the terrible mistake of debuting in the same match as Ricochet, so he has mostly fallen flat for me. I think he could be an excellent Bobby Roode clone in the current NXT environment, but for whatever reason he is presented as a good guy. A rich, arrogant, and handsome good guy.

Dream has continued to be the Dream, but while he had a natural rival in Ricochet athletically this feud has mostly been two grown men in tight clothes proclaiming how great they are. Definitely an excuse to get these two on the card, but entirely nonessential. Both men have had little success on TakeOvers, but I think Velveteen gets the win here to give him a bit of momentum.

The Undisputed Era (C) vs. Moustache Mountain (NXT Tag Team Title Match)

What I assume is the rubber match between the two teams after some epic back and forth between the squads. There is no doubting how popular Undisputed is, and they are the best bet for a modern NWO squad/rival to Bullet Club WWE has. There is plenty of potential in the group, and I think NXT would be smart to keep the belts on Roddy and Kyle for some time.

Mt. Stache got their names in the record books and will probably anchor the NXT UK scene when the time comes. Then when Bobby Fish gets healed up he can take over tag team duties, Roddy wins the North American belt and Adam Cole gets the NXT belt to run wild in 2019.

Shayna Baszler (C) vs. Kairi Sane (NXT Women’s Championship)

Hayner Declaymer seeks revenge on one of the few women to claim a victory over her in the form of Sane. Kairi has not exactly set the world on fire the way I thought she would after winning the first Mae Young Classic, so hopefully this gets her back on track. The champ has been getting better and better, but I still are not terribly impressed with her. I think she has potential as a character, but I’ve yet to see the match that tells me she is championship caliber.

That being said, I am guessing WWE is banking on the image of her and fellow horsewomen Ronda Rousey holding belts side by side so she is going to retain at least until October.

Adam Cole (C) vs. Ricochet (NXT North American Championship Match)

The One and Only faces the leader of Undisputed in what would be a hell of a match. Sure the build has boiled down to “really good wrestler wants a belt from slimy heel” but the crowd was going to be hot for this one either way. Expect lots of dueling chants and high flying moves as Ricochet tries to make up for the numbers disadvantage.

Adam Cole is destined for bigger and better things soon as I hinted at with the tag team match, and the same could be said of Ricochet. This very well could be a preview of a future NXT title match, or dare I say IC title match? I think this could be a toss up, but I think Cole is going to get the nod for the win since Triple H has singled him out as someone who is an MVP of NXT.

Tomasso Ciampa (C) vs. Johnny Gargano (Last Man Standing Match for NXT Championship)

I was very much looking forward to the triple threat match between these two and former champ Aleister Black, and it’s a shame Old Dutch Ale is out just long enough to miss the event. So with about two weeks notice the rivalry of the year is back on, and NXT has done a good job making a bunch of video packages driving the hype up.

However, I was really into Johnny Gargano’s evolution from heart of gold pure babyface to shades of grey and even, dare I say, a bit of a dick?! But now we can forget all that cause he is back to trying to murder his foe, unless of course he was the one who attacked Black. Re-watching their Chicago Street Fight I do not know how they will top that without actual murder, but I have faith they will. As for who wins, Ciampa has not had enough time with the belt, so Johann Wrasslin will regain his conscious just in time to mess up and let Ciampa win.

Manopera! Episode 47: SummerSlam 2017 Review

Chris, Frank, and Pro Wrestling Opinion’s Nicholas Jason Lopez review WWE’s biggest party of the summer, SummerSlam 2017.

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

 

SSEP: Episode 22: Major NBA Trade / NXT TakeOver and SummerSlam Review / Mayweather McGregor Preview

Your boy Jon and the Jewharaja break down the Kyrie Irving trade to the Celtics, review both WWE NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III and SummerSlam, and preview Mayweather vs. McGregor.

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

 

Manopera! Episode 46: NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III

Chris and Spaceman Frank review and discuss the mighty NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, part one of a two part SummerSlam podcast.

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

Spaceman Frank’s SummerSlam 2017 Predictions

by Frank Lucci

SummerSlam 2017 promises to be a similar event to WrestleMania 33, meaning that while there will be plenty to like in this PPV, everyone will agree that the card would be better if they cut several of the 13 matches announced.

That many matches is just too damn many. At least throw in a Miz segment instead of the throwaway six man tag to break things up and act as a palate cleanser during the show.

I just hope the bad matches or potentially dead crowd during the show do not detract from the quality matches on the show, since there is a really solid three hour show in this marathon. I’m Spaceman Frank and these are my SummerSlam 2017 predictions.

Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Neville (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

This match was looking to be a dud until Tozawa won the title on the Raw before the show. While the decision to switch the title unto the challenger so close to the main show baffled many it did serve it’s purpose to get people to care about this feud.

Tozawa can be a great champ (especially flanked by his boys in the Titus Brand), but it is hard to see him topping Neville’s run. One big advantage for the champ is, despite getting little reaction coming out he always gets the crowd into his matches. However I do not think it will be enough for Akira to retain. The King gets back his title in a good opener.

The New Day (c) vs. The Usos (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match)

Why this is on the preshow instead of Big Show vs. Big Cass is a complete mystery to me (cursed shark cages).

Anyway, this match has plenty of goodwill from fans based on the popularity of the teams involved, and I think this could be a showstealer. It will be early enough so the crowd will not be burned out, and if there rad match at Battleground is any indication this should be epic. The New Day continue to be super hot fire no matter what they do, and considering they are all over the promotion for the show I think they retain the belts here.

The Hardy Boyz and Jason Jordan vs. The Miztourage

I would be behind Jason Jordan as Kurt Angle’s son if he changed his name to Jason Angle-Jordan and just tried to recreate Kurt’s biggest moments. Or if he wrestled Brock Lesnar and broke his neck just like his poppa.

Jordan’s new direction appears to already be dead in the water, and just about everyone else in this match is drifting along as well. I’m glad Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel have something to do at least. Miz vs. either Hardy Boy (can you still be considered a boy in your early 40’s?) would be a pretty fun feud for the IC belt, and WWE could keep teasing the Broken/Woken Hardys with the singles feud.

Miz needs the traction since his IC title run has been nothing on his epic Smackdown run and adding a bit of weirdness from Matt and Jeff would be fun. However here Hardyz and Jordan win because it is the preshow and any team with Dallas and Axel is doomed.

Big Show vs. Big Cass (Enzo Amore in a Shark Cage Match)

Starting off the main card we see WWE needing to remind kids about their shark cage playset. The only reason I see this match being watchable is if Enzo gets a mike in the cage so he can provide running commentary during the match. Big Show allegedly has a broken hand for this match, but I do not see Big Cass being able to hang with the giant.

Some people seem to think Enzo is going to turn heel and rejoin Cass, but I cannot see that working at all. Enzo is to entertaining to throw away, backstage heat or no. Enzo provides a distraction and costs Cass the win, thus getting the closest thing he can get to a win against Cass.

Naomi (c) vs. Natalya (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship Match)

I really hope WWE does not continue to use the SmackDown Women’s championship as the bathroom break before main events. Naomi is a fine champ when the WWE actually has her defend the belt, but hindering her with infrequent title defenses and lousy segments do not help her. Plus, that whole Lana situation was misguided at best.

On the other hand I am glad Nattie Ice is getting a shot for the belt, and I would not mind if she got a crack as the top lady of SmackDown. I just wish she could cut a promo without sounding like she was reading off cue cards. With a good amount of time I see this match being decent but unmemorable, and I think Naomi retains.

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

I could see this match starting off the show, as Finn’s demon entrance would be a great way to pop the crowd to start things off. Both these men have lost so much momentum that it is crazy to think they were even champions since the previous SummerSlam. Both these guys need to enter the main event picture again ASAP or they will continue their freefall.

Out of the two I see Bray taking the loss here, unless he has a spectacular entrance planned as well. Go with the man with the paint when the chips are down. Now if only WWE could get me to care about this match beyond the entrances…

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

I hate everything about this match. From the lazy booking to the fact that it is going to suck the momentum right out of the show just like every Orton match this year has. I just cannot muster up anything but pity for Rusev.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but considering recent events in America can we get one foreigner character who does not play on xenophobia?

I think Rusev will lose here, and I wish he would come out on SmackDown, say he realized he simply does not have the hate for America he once did and that conflict in his soul caused his career to hit the skids. Now he is fully embracing his new country and can be the big goof he is on Total Divas and at Nashville Predator games. That would be much better than being just an ornery Bulgarian feuding with charisma vacuum Orton.

Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)

For all the talk of the tag team scene in WWE being lackluster, WWE does have three former world champs in this match. This has been the sneakily best built match on the card, and having Dean and Seth act like real people instead of the babyface caricatures they were before is very much appreciated.

Rumors and fantasy booking are flying concerning a Shield reunion, and I think WWE may be moving in that direction. Seth and Dean as tag team champs and Roman being Universal Champ as part of a heel Shield is a hell of a way to end the show, although I doubt people would boo Reigns if he finally turned. Seth and Dean win in a potential barn burner of a match.

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

This match between Cena and his favorite dumpster fire has people talking to say the least.

Corbin’s epic fail on the go home SmackDown has people talking about WWE losing faith in the big man, but I am choosing to see the cash in attempt in a different light. There are only so many ways to tell a Money in the Bank cash in story, and Corbin failing and then going on a rampage on SmackDown before organically earning a title shot may be better in the long term than just randomly handing him the belt. Here, I see Corbin attacking Cena before the match starts and just beating him down instead of having a proper match. Or, if the match gets underway, Corbin DQ’s himself to give Cena the technical victory. Either would be much better than Corbin storming to the ring and…having a regular match with the man that cost him his big break.

AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens (WWE United States Championship Match With Shane Mcmahon as Special Referee)

I keep waiting for these two to have a match of the year candidate, but so far this feud has been built on disappointment and potential botches.

I guess their snafu at Battleground served as the excuse to get Shane involved, but so far he has proven unable to prevent these men from attacking each other. With all signs pointing towards a Shane and Kevin match down the line I am thinking AJ keeps the belt here. We do not need more hot potatoing of the belt and AJ Styles can serve to elevate the belt while playing a proud country boy for the company.

Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

It may be a good thing Bayley got hurt when she did, as she was tanking hard beforehand.

Bliss and Banks had a damn good match before, and the rematch feels much more natural than Bayley getting the shot again after the kendo stick on a poll debacle. Both these women have proven to be worthy of the top spot, but it is hard t take Sasha’s chances seriously when she is second choice for this match. Sure, it worked out better in the end, but I have to think Bliss will retain here over the Boss.

Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship Match)

Jinder Mahal: heel in the ring, face in the gym.

With the possibility of Corbin cashing in out of the picture we can now focus on this very intriguing match. This may be one of the first, if not the first match for a main WWE title between two people of Asian descent, and both men deserve credit for making it so far in the company.

Both men’s standing and characters also depend individual crowd reactions. Jinder can either be a complex villain or a foreigner cartoon character, and Shinsuke can ether be The King of Strong Style or the goofy loose limbed guy. I imagine Brooklyn will have a stellar reaction for both, and I can see these guys working well together.

Jinder’s style is pretty snug, which will compliment Nakamura and the story they want to tell. Plus I am curious to see Mahal work against anyone other than Orton. I can see this going either way, but I’ll give the champ a slight edge here.

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns (Fatal Four Way for WWE Universal Championship)

I am looking forward to this match the most out of any in the card, and honestly I will most likely be satisfied with whoever walks away with the belt.

With Reigns I would be happy if we get an evil Shield reunion, but if he just wins and keeps being the Big Dog in the Yard I will be peeved. Samoa Joe could sneak in and win the belt like when he one the number one contendership a few months ago, and considering how amazing he has been since I would love to see him be the top guy on Raw. Braun continues to impress, and he seems to make giant strides the more WWE leans on him to be a future cornerstone of the company. Plus, he seems like a lovely guy in real life who is not above stuff like this. And then we have the champ, whose resume speaks for itself.

While I can see each man having a significant shot to win the belt, I give Braun and Joe the least chance of victory, as Strowman may not quite be ready for a title run and Joe being the indy darling of the match. That leaves Brock and Reigns, with the champ threatening to leave if he loses. With that kind of statement I think Brock will win to keep him front and center in case he really does fight Jon Jones in UFC.

SSEP: Episode 21: SummerSlam 2017 Preview

by Jon and Matt Schorr

Jon and Matt “the Jewharaja” preview WWE SummerSlam 2017.

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

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 24: SummerSlam 2016 Spectacular Part 2 – SummerSlam Results and Feedback

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In a mega-sized episode for a mega-sized show and fallout, Chris and the Spaceman discuss SummerSlam 2016.

Check out Chris’s post on the WWE Universal Championship here.

 

Why WWE’s Top Heel is the Universal Championship

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The biggest heel in Sports Entertainment today. Credit: WWE.com

To sum it up nicely, this year’s SummerSlam had way more valleys than peaks.

One of the deepest of those valleys was the reveal of the WWE Universal Championship, in addition to the odd placement of the match that would crown the first participant to hold that title – Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor. Besides the winner not being able to hold the title for a complete day due to an injury that would occur as a result of Rollins’ running turnbuckle powerbomb on the barricade (which should be banned as it has cut Balor’s career short while ending Sting’s completely), the title was rejected by the fans immediately. Instead of paying attention to the match, fans were focused on expressing their displeasure for the newborn belt with chants of “This belt sucks,” “Heeeyyy, we want a new belt” and even the TNA inspired “Delete.”

WWE’s reaction to the fans’ reaction, is of course, bitter – and who could blame them? They named the title after their fans – the WWE Universe. Unfortunately, what they didn’t realize was that in doing this, the WWE did what they haven’t been able to do in a very long time: create a legitimate top heel. How did they perform this often unachievable feat in an era where kayfabe is dead?

Pretty easily.

Exhibit A – The Design Is Lazy

First things first. When the title was announced the name choice, while not the best, is something fans are slowly getting used to as the logic behind the titles title made sense. With a name like the Universal Championship, fans speculated as to what it could look like. Will it have a globe on it? Could it hearken back to the days of older titles? They wouldn’t make it spin again, would they?

Instead, we got none of those things. What we did get was the same exact plates of the WWE Championship with a red strap (you know, so we didn’t forget which title was on Raw).

The design itself is boring, uninspired, and lazy. Rather than a fresh new look for a fresh new belt, The Universal Championship’s lackluster template comes off as a cheap imitation of something we already have (that we already weren’t too fond of to begin with). If the idea was to change straps all along, why not just put a blue strap on the WWE Championship, call it the SmackDown Championship and instead name the Universal title the Raw Championship? It would have made more sense both name and design name-wise. Seeing as SmackDown went that route for their Tag Team titles, it seems as if the idea had already been taken into consideration, but executed elsewhere.

A better thought: take a good look at the best looking titles; the two Women’s Championships. While both straps are white, the negative space is filled in with brand specific jewels – red for Raw’s and blue for SmackDown Live’s version. Although the designs to all heavyweight championships are identical, the extra miles gone to separate the women’s belts look great. Why not do the same for the men’s heavyweight titles but with black straps? It would have at least shown effort and continuity, things we barely get on WWE programming (NXT, on the other hand…).

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A much better design for both titles. Credit: UltraAimG/Cleveland.com

Exhibit B – The Presentation Was Awful

While the build was initially not bad with two Fatal Four-Way matches, a singles match between the two winners and a match against handpicked contender Seth Rollins, it didn’t keep the fans eyes on the prize. Over the next few weeks, WWE slowly started to show us that even if Roman Reigns isn’t in the main event, he’s still in the main event. Rather than revolve the last segment of every three-hour Raw around the Rollins/Balor title match, we instead got Reigns and Rusev or Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton in that spot.

The Universal Championship hadn’t even been officially called up to the main roster and it was already floundering in the midcard.

Lesnar is a special attraction, but when you’re trying to introduce your new biggest championship to your audience, you don’t make him top priority – especially after said special attraction was caught doping after his now unrecognized UFC victory against Mark Hunt.

This goes triple for Reigns, who continues to be booed out of the building no matter where he is on the card.

It also doesn’t help that there was barely any interaction between Balor and Rollins. Aside from the initial encounter and Balor awakening The Demon King, there was nothing. Just vignettes that while good, didn’t carry the build by themselves. We really needed those in-ring segments with both competitors there to make this title feel like a big deal – and they had to go on last. It is very important that your Heavyweight Championship interactions go on last – even when they don’t revolve around John Cena.

When the big day finally arrived, there had been no contract signing, no title hype and more importantly, no unveiling ceremony for the star of the match that should have gone on last. Even on the big show, the title was again shuffled down the card in favor of Reigns and Lesnar – who’s matches were a) for lesser championships or none at all and b) had no legitimate finish (heck, Reign’s match didn’t even officially start). What happened was a casual uncovering of the brand new belt right before the match. It was essentially WWE telling it’s universe, “Here’s you go, don’t you like it?” like a relative who gets a seven year-old clothes for Christmas.

With hype like that, what did they think was going to happen? But it gets worse. Like Jesus Christ, the Universal Championship was betrayed by one of it’s own before being condemned by its many followers.

Exhibit C – WWE Told Us Not to Like it

In the month leading up to the red belt of disaster’s debut, all SmackDown Live did was trash the title.

Brand Manager Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan poked fun at the Universal Championship’s name every second they got, both on and off-screen. From jabs in interviews saying it should be called the” Galaxy Championship” because a galaxy is bigger than a universe to tweeting mock designs in the form of a giant “U” with a strap (which actually looks better) to lambasting the title on TV, SmackDown basically told us the title was stupid from the get-go.

The idea was to create a sense of competition between brands, but this can only work if the new design blows everyone’s expectations out of the water. Since this was obviously not the case as evidenced by Exhibit A, the plan backfired completely. In Exhibit B, WWE showed us that despite being Raw’s new main title and that the crowning of its first champion would take place at SummerSlam, it still had less importance than both the United States title (which is considered the SECONDARY championship) and a beast that cheated in a legitimate sport when he didn’t have to. Finally, in Exhibit C, WWE goes on to tell us it doesn’t mean anything and we should treat it as such.

But it’s the fans that are in the wrong.

Conclusion

Was the WWE Universes behavior disrespectful? Absolutely. Balor and Rollins put on a stellar bout and should not have been overshadowed by a mediocre title. The problem is that it’s not the just the Universal Championship’s concept that caused fans to riot in their seats. It’s the overall carelessness that went into the belt, its match placement and overall booking itself that really did the damage.

At the end of the day, no matter how much WWE wants to blame smarks, the IWC and the rest of their “beloved” Universe, Mick Foley (who used to agree with the internet and slam the company on a regular basis before he and his family suddenly started working there), Vince McMahon and the rest of his glad-handing “Yes” men have no one to blame for The Passion of the Universal Championship but themselves.