Tag Archives: Survivor Series

Manopera! Episode 52: Survivor Series 2017 / NXT War Games Supershow

After a long Thanksgiving weekend, Chris and Spaceman Frank review NXT TakeOver: War Games (with enthusiasm) and Survivor Series 2017 (with less enthusiasm).
Donate to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/thebonesaw.

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SSEP: Episode 28 – NXT WAR GAMES Review / WWE Survivor Series Preview

Jon and the Jewharaja review NXT TakeOver: War Games and preview WWE Survivor Series.

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

Manopera! Episode 51: What is Going On???

Chris and a slightly less salty Seaman Frank discuss major news in the world of professional wrestling.

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 29: Survivor Series Takes Over Toronto

Our hosts serve up a mega combo attack of NXT TakeOver: Toronto and WWE Survivor Series with some cool pro wrestling news thrown in for good measure!

Donate to our Patreon at 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’s NXT TakeOver: Toronto Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

A big Four Pay-Per-View is here, which means that WWE is rolling out the NXT brand the night before for a (probably) superior show of their own. What’s most likely is that the last major show for the developmental brand of the year promises to be an exciting event, and considering the event will be around one-third of the time Survivor Series promises to be that is very welcome. With an emphasis on tag team action reflecting the overall Survivor Series theme, Toronto has massive potential to show why WWE deserves to invest in more serious tag teams instead of the multitude of joke tag teams that populate the main roster. While it’s unusual for no new talents to be making their debut during a live special, Toronto features several grapplers having the highest-stake matches of their careers, plus the return of a legendary women’s wrestler. I’m Spaceman Frank, and here are my NXT TakeOver: Toronto predictions.

The Authors of Pain vs. TM-61 (Finals of Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic)

It’s smart of the WWE to only have the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic on the Toronto show rather than the semis and finals in one night. It’s also smart of NXT to have two up and coming teams clashing for the trophy rather than having a superteam win it like last year. While I would (and honestly) rather see Team DIY and The Revival clash for the NXT Tag Team Championships and the trophy, I’ll take this alternative instead. What I don’t like is Paul Ellering being suspended from a cage above the ring. If we had seen the dastardly manager interfere in more matches it would make sense, but since the Authors have been pretty dominate it doesn’t seem necessary. It’s tempting to say that the Authors of Pain will win…so I will. TM-61 is a fine team, but to me they are discount Team DIY until they fully establish themselves.

The Revival (c) vs. Team DIY (Two Out of Three Falls Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships)

Having this be a two out of three falls match is perfect. This was already shaping up to be the match of the night, and guaranteeing there will be high drama throughout the match. These four can steal not only this NXT special, but the whole wrestling weekend as well. I think The Revival will win, so they can bide their time until AJ Styles brings them in to be his henchmen in the SmackDown chapter of The Club (please let it happen WWE). There is a lot of fertile ground for Johnny Wrestling and the Sicilian Psychopath to begin feuding, and the smart money says that losing their chance at the belts for a second time will lead to the split. I could also see them splitting up while trying to take the Cruiserweight Championship on the main roster, considering how many times we’ve been teased with their divorce. Either way, the stakes in this match are high, and I’m ready for The Revival to pull out some shenanigans and Team DIY to lay some some serious hits that echo so loudly I hear it from Buffalo.

Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger

The only singles match on the card not for a title involves Dillinger finally getting a match on a live special he is not guaranteed to lose, and it’s about time considering how long the dude has been working away at NXT and has been overdue for some sort of push. The crowd is solidly behind the guy, as they have wanted The Perfect 10 to get the spot he finally deserves. On the other hand, he’s going up against the immensely popular Bobby Roode, whose theme song admittedly is more over than he is. NXT is in need of some main event heels besides Samoa Joe, and Roode fits the bill to a “t.”

In order to do this, I predict he will bully and batter Dillinger to get the win, earning him some heat so people begin to turn on him. Roode wins to set himself up as the next challenger for the NXT Championship and Dillinger solidifies himself as a midcard face with a strong outing.

Asuka (c) vs. Mickie James (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

Asuka is facing her stiffest competition yet…or at least that’s what WWE wants you to believe. Mickie James is a legend and probably a future Hall of Fame candidate, but rumor has it that the only reason she’s here is because Trish Stratus was not available. I also have concerns over how their styles will mesh, but considering the biggest thing I know about James is that she sexually assaulted Stratus at ‘Mania 20 I’m probably not a good reference point. Asuka seems destined to hold on to the belt until Ember Moon (or someone else) steps up, so she’ll win this match and will have to wait awhile until someone becomes the clear-cut choice to take her title away. Either that or NXT books her in a multi-women match so she can lose the belt without being pinned.

Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Championship Match)

While I predict the Tag Team Championship match will be the highlight of the show, these two are engaging every time they face off. While their first encounter was built around the dream match potential, now there are personal stakes involved as Nakamura and Joe have taken turns beating the bejesus out of each other. I predict these two will lay down some serious lumber, and if Brock vs. Goldberg II matches 50% of their intensity I’ll be shocked.

I know NXT is reluctant to throw around gimmick matches, but if any two needed a Street Fight stipulation this is the pair. Joe has nothing left to prove in NXT, and is an early candidate for a 2017 Rumble entrant. Therefore, Nakamura is walking away with the title. Maybe he’ll have one final encounter with Joe, or maybe Roode will sneak into the main event scene, or maybe No Way Jose turns heel and uses an actual baseball bat on the champ. We shall see.

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.

Fantasy Booking The Undertaker vs. Finn Balor at WrestleMania 33

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On the 900th episode of SmackDown, The Undertaker appeared for the first time since WrestleMania 32.

Many speculated it would be to either announce his retirement or to select his WrestleMania 33 opponent. However, the Phenom did none of these things. He simply stated that he’s back to “take souls and dig holes,” and that WrestleMania will no longer define him before giving the SmackDown Survivor Series team a pep-talk from beyond the grave.

As vague as his statement is, it’s safe to assume he will now be appearing sporadically in some type of authority role, almost in a way President Jack Tunney would in the 80’s and early 90’s. ‘Taker will probably end up in the occasional tag match as well as more Pay-Per-Views leading up to ‘Mania 33.

But if the Show of Shows in Orlando is the endgame for The Deadman, he should have an opponent, and it should be a demon. Not Demon Kane, but a Demon King.

The Undertaker’s WrestleMania 33 opponent should be none other than the returning Finn Balor, and unlike his ‘Mania 31 encounter with Bray Wyatt, it should be a passing of the torch.

But how can this feud be built with Balor on Raw and ‘Taker on SmackDown?

After Survivor Series this Sunday, the next inter-brand Pay-Per-View is Royal Rumble.

In the Royal Rumble match, Balor should make his return to the ring as the surprise number 30 entrant to a Road Warrior pop and battle his way into becoming one of the final competitors fighting for a World Championship opportunity alongside John Cena, Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins.

With the way things are heading, it looks as though Rollins and Triple H will meet at either the Rumble or ‘Mania, so we’ll keep it for the latter. Here, The Game screws Rollins out of the title via shenanigans and Rollins is promptly eliminated. We now have our final three Rumble combatants. One from Raw, two from SmackDown. Cena and Wyatt will set their differences aside for the sake of their brand and team up against Balor.

The lights then go out inexplicably and we hear the one sound every WWE Superstar dreads.

GONG!

The lights reactivate as The Undertaker stands in the ring and stares down all three men. As a red herring, he chokeslams Cena. Still setting his sights on being “The New Face of Fear,” Wyatt tries for a Sister Abigail but it’s countered into another chokeslam by the Phenom. Balor has been down the entire time from the Cena/Wyatt smack down (pun intended). As he slowly recovers to his feet he turns to The Deadman, who stares into his eyes and makes his signature throat-cutting gesture before driving Balor into the mat with a Tombstone. He picks up the fallen Irishman and tosses him over the top rope, eliminating him from the match and his chance to reclaim the title he was forced to vacate due to injury.

The stage is set. The Demon of Death Valley vs. The Demon King at the Granddaddy of ’em All, where after putting on a clinic, Balor puts ‘Taker to rest en-route to winning back his WWE Universal Championship from Rollins, who defeats both Triple H and Kevin Owens in the same night.

Since the current Cena angle is his journey to tie Ric Flair for the all-time World Championship record, he goes on to win the Rumble and dethrone A.J. Styles at ‘Mania. As for Wyatt, we could see a match against stablemates Randy Orton, Luke Harper, or both. Regardless of whether or not any of this happens, April 2, 2017 is going to be a hell of a show.

Manopera! Episode 28: Hell in a Lukewarm Cell

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

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