Tag Archives: the club

SSEP – Episode 12: WrestleMania 33 Review and Aftermath

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by Jonathan Schorr

Jon and Matt review the “ultimate thrill ride” known as WrestleMania 33 and tackle the aftermath from Raw and SmackDown Live.

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

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SSEP: SSEP – Episode 11: WrestleMania 33/NXT Takeover Orlando Preview

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by Jonathan Schorr

Jon and Matt go on the ultimate thrill ride with their WrestleMania 33 and NXT Takeover: Orlando predictions while watching WrestleMania 13 from 1997.

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

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Fastlane 2017 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

It is Fastlane time in WWE land, which means we’ve got one last pitstop before WrestleMania.

Smackdown Live had the advantage of having Elimination Chamber two weeks after the Royal Rumble, allowing them to put on a nice bow on Rumble storylines while giving people a reason to watch the blue brand  build its ‘Mania storylines for two uninterrupted months.

Meanwhile, WWE has tried their darndest to get people to care about Fastlane in combination with hyping and setting up matches for the show of shows. With two title matches almost guaranteed to end a certain way and most of the rest of the card meaning very little, fans can at least look forward to incessant ‘Mania commercials and people pointing at the big WrestleMania sign at random times. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my predictions for Fastlane 2017.

Rich Swann and Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar (Kickoff)

We start the night (after about 30-40 minutes of useless banter) with four Cruiserweights trying their best to make some sort of impression on the Raw crowds. I think we’ll get some sort of crazy Cruiserweight scramble for the championship at ‘Mania (perhaps taking over the Intercontinental Championship Ladder match that has opened the show recently). Tozawa seems to be making some headway with live crowds, and Rich Swann and Brian Kendrick have history on their side. Sadly, Noam Dar has been adrift despite being crazy talented, possibly due to a lack of direction after being paired with Alicia Fox. The faces win because Tozawa’s Snap German Suplex is the best.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

A preshow match at the Rumble becomes a real match here, and Banks looks to take down the monster Jax with her fully recovered knee. I’m curious to see if Banks get a respectable amount of offense in, or if she continues to ragdoll around Jax to make her look dominant. In the end, however, I see Jax pulling out the win to make Banks go back to her Boss ways and betray Bayley because it’s about time she turns heel.

The Club (c) (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) vs. Big Cass and Enzo Amore (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)

The Club are finally champions, much too late for anyone to care and facing the perennial challengers who never win anything. Enzo and Cass may be the Buffalo Bills of the WWE, and that is coming from a Bills fan (I never expect either of them to get the championships, but I can dream right?). If WWE pulls the trigger with Enzo and Cass it will be at WrestleMania for the big feelgood moment of the card, but honestly I think WWE will hedge their bets and have the Raw and SmackDown tag champs face off on the preshow to get everyone a payday. The Club win and the crowd halfheartedly make a vaguely disappointed sound.

Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte (WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match)

This one is obvious. We have seen this storyline beaten into the ground, and despite Bayley having more pure babyface potential than Sasha Banks, that will not save her from the streak of Charlotte. If WWE was smart, they would have Charlotte keep the belt for a bit and stop having the title hot potato between people (if Charlotte wins she will have become a five time champion before the title’s one year anniversary) and make her Pay Per View streak more compelling. Then call up Asuka post-Mania and have a streak vs. streak (Asuka is currently threatening Goldberg’s WCW undefeated streak legitiamtely) match between the two at some point. Until then, Charlotte should just stop defending the belt on Mondays and just cut insane promos like her dad.

Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

This is one of the more intriguing championship matches that WWE has put on for the Cruiserweights since the finals of the CWC. Neville is the heel champion the division needs, easily blowing Kendrick out of the water in that regard. Meanwhile, Gallagher is one of the few true breakout stars the division has had, getting reactions Swann and TJP could only achieve by meeting Jiminy Cricket and wishing upon a star. The fact that Jackie Boy was the only Cruiserweight in the Royal Rumble match  speaks volumes on how much WWE values him. And yet, he will lose here. After so many different champions, the division needs a rock to build a foundation on. Neville is that rock, and he will walk out as champ by doing something dastardly and ungentlemanly.

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

Finally, WWE has found a Reigns match I am actually intrigued by. While the Reigns hype train is a little beat up at this point, he always threatens to run over the internet’s favorite wrestlers…until now. Strowman is Vince’s shiny new toy, and his push thus far is similar to Reigns early push in The Shield, minus the extra teammates to lean upon. I think Strowman is the one guy WWE management may have usurp Reigns as their guy, but being so close to ‘Mania I do not see this match happening, or at least having a proper finish. Instead, I see these two brawling all over the arena much like they have in the past, leading to a Falls Count Anywhere match at ‘Mania between the two. If I have to pick a winner, I would go with Strowman just in case they want to have Reigns seek a vengeful rematch at the biggest show of the year.

Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn

The other big grudge match on the card sees Joe staying on his warpath to destroy all the top babyfaces on Raw. Rollins’ injury is unfortunate, but may be a blessing in disguise for himself (he essentially gets a second chance at his big babyface turn) and Zayn, who gets something important to do and another chance to steal the show. Rewatching their epic 2 out of 3 falls match from NXT makes me salivate at what these guys can do, plus the WWE universe has been too long for Samoa Joe to debut on the main roster. In what will be the match of the night, Zayn will go down swinging as only he can and make Joe look like a boss from Dark Souls 3.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg (WWE Universal Championship Match)

There are so many possibilities that I have chosen to list all of them as a series of cliffhanger questions.

Is there any way Owens walks out as champ? Can he beat Dad-Berg, or at least carry him to a decent match that is longer than three minutes? Will Chris Jericho cost Owens the Universal Championship? Will Brock come in to even the odds in Owens’ favor? Will the son of Goldberg pop his shirt off and defend his father against the team of monstrous evil dads? Will the son of Kevin Owens take down Junior-Berg leading to a father and son inter-generational tag team match at WrestleMania? Will Jericho emerge from the ashes and end up challenging Brock Lesnar for the title after winning it on Raw the day after this PPV? Will the universe eventually stop expanding, collapse, and thus claim the Universal Championship before becoming a singularity and becoming the Universal Champion in the past, present, and future simultaneously? Find out on WWE Fastlane!

In all seriousness, Goldberg will probably win in five minutes or less because it’s just that time on the WWE’s calendar for stuff like this.

Manopera! Episode 34: ‘Member The Rumble?

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In honor of Bonesaw Entertainment’s two-year anniversary, Chris and Spaceman Frank talk the ‘member berry madness of Royal Rumble 2017.

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

Spaceman Frank’s Hell in a Cell Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Club

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

Dana Brooke vs. Bayley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Predictions

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After Smackdown Live got the first crack at a single brand Pay-Per-View, Raw gets its first event with Clash of Champions.

This almost throwback to the NWA/WCW PPV (which was Clash of THE Champions) promises to be interesting at the very least. Sure, we can all wonder what this PPV would have looked like if Finn Balor wasn’t injured, but all things considered, this is a strong card. As usual, the WWE has tempered expectations somewhat with their questionable booking, but I feel like that’s their strategy at this point. I can almost imagine Vince McMahon and Triple H plotting out hours of mediocre television just so when the PPV comes around, it just happens to be both better and shorter than Raw (aka a poor attempt to try to make fans happy). Anywho, here is Spaceman Frank’s Clash of Champions 2016 predictions.

Special note: I totally see WWE putting a Braun Stowman squash match into the Kickoff. Raw PPV pre-shows should be the Nia and Braun show until the Royal Rumble at least. From there they can have a rivalry over who destroys their opponents faster until they get into a yelling match before making out. Greatest love story of 2016.

Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax

This pre-show match is obviously going to end in Jax winning. The real question is how long this match will last bell to bell (I got three minutes). Jax is doing well squashing people, and Foxy is a good established name to feed to her. Who’s next on the Jax destruction tour? I predict Paige as punishment for her suspension/alleged temper tantrum.

Cesaro vs. Sheamus (Final Match in Best of Seven Series)

Who would’ve thought that Cesaro would have bounced back from 0-3? This feud has not been bad, but at this point the WWE Universe is ready to move on. After these guys have been brutalizing each other for weeks I really hope they get a championship program out of all this. I’d much rather see these guys bounce around the Universal Title picture then farting around the U.S. Championship as fodder for Rusev or Reigns. Cesaro wins to complete his underdog comeback story.

Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho

The last of the non-title matches on the show, this is the one I’m looking forward to the most. The Likable One feuding with his mortal enemy Kevin Owens’ new BFF Jericho makes sense, but it would have made much more sense if it happened at SummerSlam instead of here, but whatever. Jericho the character gets an A in my book, but Jericho the in-ring wrestler is about a C at this point of his career. As much as I like his character work I don’t enjoy his matches that much anymore. That being said, I can see this going at least another PPV, so Jericho gets the win here.

The New Day (c) vs. The Club (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)

The Club is superb since ditching their hand at lowball comedy and just beating people up (Where were these guys this whole time?). Leave comedy to The New Day and Enzo and Cass. I feel like The New Day have nothing left to prove as champs at this point, so dropping the belts to The Club is the right move. From there I would rather see the team members get individual pushes while remaining a faction. This will allow other tag teams to get into the title hunt and we can get some fresh matchups for singles championships. The Club win and start going on a tear.

Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns (United States Championship Match)

This one is tricky. On one hand Rusev is an excellent U.S. champ, but too often is the Bulgarian Brute fodder for main eventers and guys like Reigns. On the other hand, pretty much the only scenario I can see Reigns getting over is by winning the U.S. Championship and issuing weekly title challenges like John Cena did in 2015. That way he can slowly but surely build up respect with the audience by putting on good matches every week. It worked wonders for Cena so I can see it working for Reigns as well. Reigns wins and the WWE continues the Rehab Reigns campaign while Rusev goes mega heel and pledges allegiance to Donald Trump’s America (Book it Vince. You know you want to.).

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

Things that have me worried about the cruiserweights after one week:

  1. No TJP on Raw.
  2. No subtitles for Gran Metalik’s spanish promo.
  3. A Fatal Four Way match where the divisions athleticism gets over more than the people involved.

I know that it will take time for a whole division to get over (as we’ve seen with the womens divisions), but this was a major misstep. I would much rather have the cruiserweights sprinkled in throughout the show taking on midcarders than just facing each other. The number one contender stipulation made sense, but everything else was pretty bad. Kendrick is the closest thing the division has to a heel, so he’s a good contender for the very likable T.J Perkins. That being said, the new champ wins here to build up a proper program for later.

Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match)

I was fine with the Charlotte vs. Banks rematch, although I’m also fine with Bayley getting but into the title picture. It seems like an 11th hour Hail Mary to get extra attention for this match (or explain the double pin scenario that happened the week before), but I’m not going to complain that my girl Bayley gets into the title picture. I really see each lady having an equal chance here. Charlotte’s been a fine champ, but she’s been champ in some form for close to a year (with a slight gap during Banks’ brief run) and it may be time to freshen up the scene. Banks has the motivation to regain her title, but the WWE may feel as though she is injury prone at this point. Bayley could pretty much win at any point and people would be happy, but the smart money is to build to Bayley vs. Banks III. When Spaceman Frank can’t tell what’s going to happen, he gives it to the champion. Charlotte wins in a good match.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship Match)

This simply cannot be a bad match. Say what you want about the build or KO’s booking since being champ, but all you need to do to get me excited about this match is say “Owens vs. Rollins for the belt.” The big question here is what Triple H will do, if he’ll do anything at all. Rollins is a great heel, but there’s only so much space at the top and Raw desperately needs a babyface at the top of the card. Can we see Rollins getting a couple of cruiserweights on his side and form a high-flying faction to take on a Kevin Owens lead authority as Mick Foley just tries to eat his feelings away before he is replaced by GM Big Show? Anyway, KO retains and we get more of the Kevin Owens show for the time being.

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.

 

Spaceman Frank’s SummerSlam 2016 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

According to wrestling, SummerSlam is the biggest party of the Summer…or at least it was until NXT showed up and stole their thunder last year. With the WWE’s main roster shows now split up, this year’s SummerSlam is the first of the New Era, but it still feels the same as before due to it featuring members of both brands wrestling. With a staggering 13 matches scheduled for the event, there are bound to be a few duds in the mix, but this is still a pretty solid if unspectacular card. Spaceman Frank is here to predict who will walk out of SummerSlam the victors and who will be the sad sacks.

Kickoff: Sami Zayn & Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz 

In a match where the pairing of the former NXT champs just kind of happened at the last minute, Zayn and Neville should pull off a decent showing. While Neville hasn’t had much direction since returning from injury, this is a huge demotion for Zayn as he’s been featured in higher profile matches since debuting on the main roster. Seeing as The Dudleys are basically the Chris Jericho of tag teams, they will take the loss in a somewhat entertaining match that will not have the time it deserves.

Kickoff: American Alpha, The Hype Bros & The Usos vs. Breezango, The Ascension & The Vaudevillains 

The SmackDown tag teams, while abundant have, no champions. Seeing as there were no rules in the draft about champions floating between brands, this is a problem for the blue brand. Where Raw has picked up the pieces in crowing a new heavyweight champion (more on that later), SmackDown has instead waited to pull the trigger on that for both their tag and women’s divisions, putting every egg in each division in separate but similar baskets (match and storyline-wise). Seeing as American Alpha is the hot new team, they will probably pick up the win for their allegiance against someone in Breezango.

Kickoff: Cesaro vs. Sheamus (Best of Seven Series: Round One)

It feels like these guys have already been in a best of seven series considering how often they go against each other. This will be a decent match, but much like Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens from last year’s SummerSlam this is going to be swallowed up by the other matches on the card. I hope the WWE treats this like a big deal and dangles a title shot or something for the men to fight for rather than it being WWE’s way of having two guys tread water for awhile. Perhaps we can get different stipulations sprinkled in as well? Anyway, I see heel Sheamus getting the win to go up 1-0 on Cesaro to give him some extra motivation to win going forward.

Natalya, Alexa Bliss (and formerly Eva Marie) vs. Naomi, Carmella, and Becky Lynch

The All Red Elephant in the room for this match is the suspension of Eva Marie for her first wellness policy violation. Her husband/manager Jonathan Coyle is calling it unjust, flashing me back to Adam Rose’s suspension drama earlier in the year. That being said, the WWE has an easy out considering Eva’s whole actually avoiding wrestling gimmick, but then that leaves the heels with the rare disadvantage. I honestly don’t think SmackDown has any more women left, so the WWE may be stuck here. I hope this will be a good showcase for Alexa Bliss, but I think she will be losing along with Nattie Ice to the faces here.

The Miz vs. Apollo Crews (Intercontinental Championship Match)

I honestly forgot this was happening.

Crews has been getting a solid push lately, but I have not been terribly impressed with him thus far. I know he can potentially do great things, but it seems like WWE has but a governor on the poor guy. It doesn’t help that his paper thin character has been exposed compared to Miz’s usual excellent character work (Can we please get Crews and Kalisto to go balls out for twenty minutes on each other to show everyone what they can do?). The Miz wins because he is the Miz and if the Miz does not have a title he usually ends up being pretty awful.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Dads on a Mission (Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho)

The WWE has put two of their biggest trolls together. Smart. They face off against Enzo and Cass, who I was sure were going to end up  against The New Day, if only for the epic promos we would get. This should be an interesting encounter, especially if both teams get a chance to talk beforehand. The problem is I cannot see Y2KO lasting long, as Owens needs to be a singles wrestler at this point eyeing the main event picture rather than just in a throwaway tag match. Enzo and Cass win and move on to the title scene while Jericho and KO continue to be spectacular assholes.

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev

This feud is deader than the steak in my burrito.

I guess Reign’s punishment for failing the wellness policy test is to bury Rusev farther down the card? At least he got married to Lana during this feud, so we know Rusev is the real winner in life. Reigns wins. Rusev, America, and Hope lose.

The New Day vs. The Club (WWE Tag Team Championship Match)

The booking choices for this feud have been…odd. Not bad, but I mean everything surrounds Big E’s penis. I am sure it is a fine penis (as Natalya and her sister discussed on Total Divas), but I  feel like it shouldn’t trump the tag titles in importance. I’ve been ready to take The Club seriously for a while, but I guess that’ll have to wait. At this point The New Day are bigger than the championships and made history, so now is the time to drop the belts to The Club so they can begin going on a tear and New Day can continue to be goofballs.

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (WWE Women’s Championship Match)

Can these women top their match on Raw? Obviously. What about when they’re smashed between twelve other bouts (Ehhhhhhhh maybe)? I don’t think this will be bad by any stretch, but I really hope they get time to tell their story. Maybe putting the ladies first will help it get buried under all the other matches.

Sasha has been great as the underdog champ, and Charlotte has pretty much been doing to Dana Brooke what she did to Ric Flair earlier in the year (WHY DO YOU PUSH AWAY THE PEOPLE THAT LOVE YOU CHARLOTTE???). Champion Banks retains, Bayley comes to the main roster after SummerSlam and we get the slow build to Bayley vs. Sasha at WrestleMania 33.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

What will probably be the end of this feud will surely be an instant classic. I wish this had a stipulation attached, as we are pretty light on those this Pay-Per-View. Plus with Cena rumored to be going on hiatus again they could have easily had Styles punish Cena enough to have him kayfabe on the shelf for awhile. Unfortunately this is a big fight match being dragged down by the other big marquee matches on the card, plus the fact that we already saw this match takes away some luster. As stated on Manopera, I really want AJ and The Revival to become a thing, so perhaps this is the time to bring them up. With or without help, Styles wins since he’ll be the one working every Tuesday and probably in the title hunt sooner rather than later.

Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship Match)

After what feels like forever, Ziggler finally gets his shot at redemption, but will WWE pull the trigger on him being a top guy in the company (for reals this time)?

Ambrose has really found his groove as champ, as he is less “LOOK AT HIM MAGGLE, HE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HE DOING!!! LUNATIC FRINGE!!!!” and more just a badass dude who doesn’t care if he dips his toes into heelish territory. This feels a lot like Neville vs. Zayn from 2014, but I see the champ retaining here. The company could easily milk this for a few more PPV’s as Dean plays dirtier to keep the belt and Dolph gets unhinged trying to win.

Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship Match)

Balor came in and had an amazing first week, and then for some reason WWE decided that was enough and have coasted up until now. Rollins no-selling the appearance of The Demon King was particularly bad. Build aside, these two could be forced to eat ten “Death Wings” from Duff’s (Buffalo reference) and still put on one hell of a match.

Much like the WWE Championship match, the big question is if WWE will put the title on Balor. After all, Rollins seems to be the golden boy for WWE, and it’s not their style to just give a top belt to a guy so soon. Finn will get a run, but not at Summerslam. Rollins wins to become Raw’s first-ever Universal Champion and keep the status quo going strong in the New Era.

Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton

Have we ever gotten a better version of babyface Randy Orton than now? I’m guessing going on the shelf and putting on jeans really helped the dude out. Lesnar and Paul Heyman have been their usual great selves to build this up, and what could have been a mediocre match has me intrigued. They’ve set up the match well, with Orton just needing one chance to hit the RKO to win while Brock can just beat Orton to a pulp whenever he wants.

Orton is the best choice to face Lesnar right now, because A) he is one of the few stars big enough to realistically take on The Beast, and B) is not a big enough star to actually take him down. Lesnar wins and disappears while Orton remembers he is supposed to be on SmackDown and feuds with the mysteriously SummerSlam absentee Bray Wyatt.

Manopera! Episode 22: New Era or S.O.S.?

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Battling a rough bout with the hiccups, Chris and Spaceman Frank return with their thoughts on the WWE’s New Era (post-draft) in terms of how it’s doing so far, where it can go and why the “Broken” Matt Hardy gimmick may be the greatest thing going.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Battleground 2016 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

WWE Battleground 2016 is the first Pay-Per-View in the brand split 2.0 and the event promises to be…interesting, to say the least.

By booking every matchup before the draft, what was once considered a dream card is now a jumbled mess. With many opponents now on different brands, the WWE has given off the impression that they don’t know what they’re doing with the new rosters – which is definitely not where they want to be going into SummerSlam. There are no bad matches on the card, per se, but the company has given fans little reason to care. Spaceman Frank is here to sort out the mess and predict the results of Battleground 2016.

The Miz (c) w/ Maryse vs. Darren Young w/ Bob Backlund (Intercontinental Championship match)

Darren Young has finally returned to television with the ageless Bob Backlund as his manager by winning a battle royal in baffling fashion to earn his shot at The Miz’ Intercontinental Championship and if he wins, the title will be moving from SmackDown Live to Raw.

After a series of great title defenses from The Miz featuring some of WWE’s top talent, Young is a step down  by default. Unless the WWE plans on swapping the Intercontinental and United States Championships to different shows, there’s no reason for The Miz to cut short his great run as a d-bag champ.

Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs. Zack Ryder (United States Championship match)

The build has been slightly better for this match than the Intercontinental Championship match, with Rusev being a bully by accepting Ryders challenge after a sneak attack on the Long Island native. But once again, unless the titles are switching shows there is no way Rusev loses to the guy he has squashed repeatedly.

Becky Lynch vs. Natalya

The two new SmackDown! Divas are set to settle their differences at Battleground and the booking has mirrored the Zayn/Owens feud sans the massive amount of history and several match of the year candidates to back them up.

Build aside, if these two operate at their full potential they should be able to pull of a great match; although it’s bittersweet to settle a feud like this without a title involved. Natalya wins because she is overdue to win a feud after her series with Charlotte and can now cheat to go full-heel on the loveable Lass Kicker.

The New Day (c) vs. The Wyatt Family

This match (which is not for the Tag Team Championships) has been all about The Wyatts scaring Xavier Woods as well as the audience with their Final Deletion ripoff. The New Day survived the draft intact, while The Wyatts will split with Bray and Erick Rowan on Smackdown and powerhouse Braun Strowman on Raw (no word on my boy Luke Harper).

Since The New Day are still champs, they will win this match so they can stay strong while the WWE finds them a new team for them to feud with but not face for the titles.

Sasha Banks and TBD vs. Charlotte (c) and Dana Brooke

This showcase for the Raw women’s division has some buzz around it as people speculate who will be the mystery partner for Banks. Many are clamoring for Bailey to make her long awaited jump to the main roster, but it wouldn’t make sense for her to make her debut without being drafted beforehand.

I see the recently called up Nia Jax forming a team with Banks to give the newcomer a big boost right out the gate. Indeed, Banks and Jax will win the match so both can be contenders for Charlotte’s championship – whenever she gets around to defending it, that is.

John Cena, Enzo and Cass vs. The Club

The battle of divided teams sees Cena giving the rub to Enzo and Cass before he retreats to Smackdown Live versus The Club, who will be without A.J. Styles on Raw (although their New Japan pal and original Bullet Club leader Finn Balor will be waiting in the wings for them on Monday nights).

I see this match as a way to set up two different matches for SummerSlam: the most likely rematch between Cena and Styles and the logical Enzo and Cass vs.The Club. Since this is a tag match featuring Cena, I see him getting the win for his team by jobbing out one of the members of the Club (looking at you, Anderson) before a big beatdown to  set up the future matches.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

The alleged “final match” between these bitter rivals is set to be one of the best matches of the night and is easily one of the best built matches on the card as well. However, the WWE still managed to throw a few wrenches into this feud by having both men on the same show post-draft, meaning it is highly unlikely this is the actual “last match” for these two.

On a minor note, having this be a plain old singles match like the one they had at Payback instead of a No-DQ stipulation means this lacks the finality required for this feud. Since Zayn was drafted much higher than Owens and he has generally been on the losing end of the feud he will win out in the (so-called) end.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Championship match)

The dream match that has been derailed by poor booking and suspensions has an extra wrinkle with the brand split. Ambrose is the sole SmackDown! competitor and as the champ, he seems to have an advantage over the other two wrestlers. Rollins meanwhile, has been doing fantastic in his role of the scorned former champion who resents the so-called cheater Ambrose. In addition, he successfully navigated the Reigns dilemma by addressing it and trashing Reigns as only Rollins can.

The big problem here is the rumors that Rollins will win the title and feud with Reigns, who fans have turned against even more due to his suspension. Ambrose deserves a real shot with the belt and with Raw in need of a top championship this match will end with a screwball finish that leaves Ambrose as champ for the blue brand so Rollins and Reigns can have a separate feud for a new heavyweight championship on Raw.