In the aftermath of Daniel Bryan’s retirement, Chris and “Spaceman” Frank discuss the news, possible career moves for Bryan, the build for WWE Fastlane and more.
In the aftermath of Daniel Bryan’s retirement, Chris and “Spaceman” Frank discuss the news, possible career moves for Bryan, the build for WWE Fastlane and more.
by Frank Lucci
The Royal Rumble is once again upon us, this time with the special twist that Roman Reigns will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble match.
As discussed on the Manopera podcast, the WWE has actually put in an effort to make this year’s Rumble match seem more unpredictable, which should help make the Pay-Per-View better than last year. Throw in a solid undercard and this could be the year the Rumble gets back on track. And with that here are Spaceman Frank’s Royal Rumble 2016 predictions.
Kickoff Match: Darren Young and Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger (Winning team gets into the Royal Rumble Match)
This is pretty much a throwaway match as none of these guys have a shot of doing anything significant in the Rumble. Does Darren Young teaming with Damien Sandow mean Titus O’neil is in the Rumble already? Hopefully we get Sandow doing his stunt double stuff again otherwise this will be an even bigger waste of time. Also, the Dudley Boyz have really fallen off the map after coming in hot as hell this summer. Honestly, I see Mark Henry (who I thought was already confirmed for the Rumble) and Jack Swagger winning as they are both veterans and can operate separately once the Rumble match actually starts.
Alberto Del Rio (C) vs. Kalisto (US Championship Match)
Boy has the WWE screwed this one up. After a meaningful title change to Kalisto that was immediately followed up with Del Rio winning the championship back I could not care less about this match. I would rather have John Cena show up in a sling to defend the belt over this match. While both men are talented, this has “filler” written all over it as Del Rio also has the Rumble later and Kalisto is killing time until Sin Cara comes back. What a wasted opportunity to elevate Kalisto, who could be the next Rey Mysterio if given the chance. Del Rio wins and everyone else loses.
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) (Tag Title Match)
Despite having a war of words with Chris Jericho for several weeks, it looks like the New Day will be facing off against The Usos at the PPV. My guess is “cool dad Jericho” couldn’t find a partner to tolerate his bumbling ways and will instead focus on ruining the Rumble instead of The New Day. While this matchup has potential, the WWE has not given fans much to buy into this storyline besides The Usos being the choice of the people while The New Day is the choice of the IWC (who don’t count as people). The New Day need to refocus after a few on and off weeks and while this should be a fun match, the trio also has the Rumble later on. I see them winning via DQ and this feud dragging for months on end.
Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch (Divas Title Match)
Simply put, this is the best feud going on in the WWE right now. An easy to follow storyline with Charlotte embracing her inner Flair (minus the part where she elbow drops sport coats and starts bleeding during the match) and turning on her friend. Becky Lynch, once an afterthought of the Divas Revolution, has nailed everything given to her by the WWE and has shown why she was called up over other NXT divas. In particular, she plays the fiery babyface very well in promos, and acts very much like Ricky Steamboat, another famous Flair rival. Hopefully these two women get a shot at delivering in the ring after a solid build. With Charlotte having her dad in the corner I expect her to cheat to win, or perhaps Sasha Banks and Team Bad will reintroduce themselves by interrupting the match to set up future storylines.
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose (c) (Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Championship)
Another feud with a good storyline. These two outstanding grapplers have a chance to steal the show (as always), especially if the Royal Rumble match fails to deliver. Owens has gotten back on track after some lackluster feuds as with Ambrose breaking away from just being Reigns super rad friend and coming into his own as champ. Last Man Standing fits these two so well and I expect an epic brawl between them. While I see Ambrose retaining, I also see Owens keeping his vicious streak alive by taking out Ambrose afterwards and preventing him from helping his buddy Reigns in the Rumble. This will also keep Owens’ status as the Authority’s off the books boy (as he always seems to be going along with their plans but has yet to join them) and make him look strong despite the loss.
Royal Rumble Match (Winner is WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
This match was discussed at great length on the Manopera podcast, so I will hit the main bullet points here. In essence, this match boils down to a handful of wrestlers and what sort of surprises the WWE has in store. I joked that Reigns will win if given the number one spot in the Rumble and lo and behold they did it. This makes me think that Reigns is walking out as champ, but WWE has been overdue for a real swerve.
The only other outcome I can see is Triple H entering himself at number 30 and winning the championship due to the rumored Reigns vs Triple H main event for Wrestlemania. Brock Lesnar figures to be a big factor as well, but I feel as though he will end up being eliminated by Bray Wyatt to set up a match between the two. As for AJ Styles and the other New Japan wrestlers who may be heading to the WWE, I can only see Styles debuting at the Rumble (as he is the most well known) and doing fairly well. In addition, I hope to see at least one NXT wrestler show up as well as a couple of cool legends (but we will probably get Kevin Nash since he always seems to show up at the Rumble).
The story of WWE’s Bray Wyatt is troubling.
When he debuted on the main roster in 2013, he was considered the next big star. His promos were incredible, his wrestling abilities were above average for men of his size and his faction carried a following. Wyatt was very over initially because he was very into his character. While his first feud with Kane was mediocre at best, fans looked past it and have mostly forgotten it as the flash-in-the-pan as it was because of confusion surrounding the booking and at least Wyatt defeated The Demon.
Over the next eight months, The Eater of Worlds was sparingly used while his family did the dirty work for him, cutting electric promos in the wake of destruction. His feuds with Daniel Bryan and The Shield were amazing and elevated The Wyatt Family to the degree everyone hoped. It seemed Wyatt was poised to become the top heel by the end of 2014.
Until his horrendous feud with John Cena reared its ugly head.
Wyatt cut weeks of brilliant promos only to once again become another obstacle for “Big Match John” to shrug off and overcome like he always does. Wyatts matches with Cena were very one-sided and did not elevate either talent. The only match Wyatt wound up winning was a cage match at Extreme Rules 2014 thanks to the help of a questionably possessed child.
You read that right.
While Cena went on to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the rest of Wyatt’s 2014 resulted in very meaningless midcard feuds with Chris Jericho, Ryback and R-Truth (this isn’t a jab at the talents Wyatt was working with, the problem is that WWE has made it very clear over the past few years that these are the “we have nothing for you” feuds with the exception of Jericho; who returns simply to put others over – which is a very nice but overused gesture). He also dissolved his stable for unknown and illogical reasons. It looked as if Wyatt was on the rise when he feuded with fan favorite Dean Ambrose, but sadly creative dropped the ball yet again when Wyatt became victorious thanks to a TV that exploded at random in an otherwise good match.
2015 was no different. Wyatt feuded with The Undertaker and Roman Reigns on multiple occasions but sadly never went over and wound up looking like a false prophet rather than “The New Face of Fear” he claims himself to be. Even after reforming his faction and adding a powerhouse in Braun Strowman, Wyatt continued to look like a joke due to poor booking. Although Wyatt did round out the year by defeating the ECW Originals team consisting of The Dudley Boyz, Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer, no one seemed to care because all of these men were in their 40’s and it would have not been believable otherwise (which is the main reason why Wyatt’s Undertaker feud may have done Wyatt more harm than good).
Not only did Wyatt lose most of his big matches in 2015, but he was booked into a horrific routine. Wyatt would come out, cut a cryptic promo, send his family out to attack whoever he was feuding with, lose the big match and then act as if nothing happened the following night. The few times he did win, it was made obvious. Wyatt has been booked so badly into oblivion that it seems that he may wind up as a comedic face in the near future.
The 2016 Royal Rumble has the potential to 180 Wyatt’s problematic situation.
Being that the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line, WWE would be wise to have Wyatt hold the gold at the end of the 30 man Battle Royal.
Have Wyatt enter at some point in the middle but not officially enter the ring until all four members are in the match at the same time. Wyatt moves along with his pawns and the entire faction lays waste to the entire locker room. The final eight participants should look like Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, a returning Triple H (or Jericho), Ambrose and the Wyatt Family. Have everyone go to town for a good 10 minutes before the only participants left are Reigns and the Wyatts. Have Reigns try as hard as he can to build sympathy but unable to leave with his championship due to the Wyatts numbers. Once Wyatt (and ONLY Wyatt) eliminates Reigns, Wyatts cronies Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Strowman sacrifice themselves for their leader and new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
While the downside would rekindle a feud we’ve already seen, the upshot could be fantastic if Wyatt were booked and treated as a legitimate threat going into WrestleMania.
Enter Lesnar, who is furious at his Rumble loss. Have him challenge Wyatt at Fastlane and have Wyatt go over convincingly (clean or not). Lesnar has been booked so well since his return to WWE that anyone beating him who’s name isn’t John Cena will look like a monster. Wyatt can also use the fact the he’s beaten the man who beat The Streak in his promos against Reigns to increase credibility.
When ‘Mania does indeed come Reigns should go over because he should legitimately be over with the fans. Wyatt’s defeat of Lesnar should be enough to suspend even the smarkiest fans disbelief long enough for his match with Reigns to have that “big fight” feel. During this match, it is essential that Wyatt defends his championship alone. Keep the remaining members of the Wyatt Family out.
Let the two heavyweights go at it in an epic war and Wyatt will stay over.
With a talent so charismatic, it’s a shock that WWE has stunted Wyatt’s growth as a main event player as much as it has in such a short while. With a literal golden opportunity on their hands, it’d be a shame if Wyatt isn’t utilized to his full potential in the coming weeks.
Wyatt is not only on the Road to WrestleMania, but redemption as well.
By Frank Lucci
I could start this prediction article with yet another tirade about how poorly the WWE has booked their programs and how the lazy writing from the creative team has made what should be an exciting Pay-Per-View into another mediocre event. Instead, I’ve decided to list three positives to keep in mind while watching TLC.
With this in mind, here are Spaceman Frank’s TLC 2015 predictions.
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger – Chairs Match for the United States Championship
With a stairs match no longer able to provide people with a bathroom break, the WWE has reverted to having the Chairs match as the least hyped match on the PPV.
Alberto Del Rio has done nothing since returning to the WWE, despite beating John Cena clean for the championship, being managed by Zeb Coulter, joining the already ill-fated League of Nations stable and then (thankfully) ditching Coulter. With Swagger having the same amount of momentum as his opponent (aka zero) and an awkward stipulation to work in, this match is sure to disappoint. I see no reason for Del Rio to lose the belt here or anytime before Cena returns.
The ECW Originals (Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno) vs. The Wyatt Family(Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) – Elimination Tag Team Tables Match
It is a sad state of affairs when it is disappointing that Spike Dudley is not booked into a feud. ECW reunions are played out beyond belief, but yet again we got to see the four or so semi-functional originals trotted out for a nostalgia pop. The Dudleys have fallen off the map hard since their return over the summer and the Wyatt Family has not fared much better.
That being said, much of the talent in this match should make this an entertaining affair as long as creative does not overbook things. I also like that we finally get all the members of the Wyatt Family involved in a PPV match and Rhyno has shown in NXT that he can still go.
My biggest issue is with Dreamer’s involvement with the match. Dreamer is a veteran performer and is still a decent hand in the ring, but the man has a lengthy history of concussions. Why the WWE would book him into a match that involves massive dudes throwing each other into tables yet Daniel Bryan cannot be booked in any capacity in the WWE despite being medically cleared by independent neurologists is beyond me. With so little star power on Raw and Smackdown these days, Bryan would be a welcome addition to the show as a wrestler, authority figure or even a manager.
Back to the actual match now. With both the Wyatt Family and the Dudley’s hurting for a win this match will be hard to call. I believe the Wyatt Family will pull out a win by taking advantage of the part timers on the ECW team along with the fact that they are massive fucking dudes.
Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Paige – Divas Chapionship Match
It’s mind boggling how badly the WWE has botched this feud. Since creative can’t decide what to do with Charlotte, I would not be surprised to see her turn heel on both Paige and her dad, then immediately turn face and join The New Day for five minutes before forming a new faction with Bo Dallas and Barry Horowitz called “The Charleston Chews.”
Anyway, Charlotte seems to be set to give in to her inner Flair and cheat her way to victory. This would be much more impactful if Becky Lynch was her opponent for the title instead of Paige, who seemed to appear out of nowhere to challenge Charlotte. A placeholder feud between two talented women, Charlotte will retain and most people will remember the likely heel turn more than the in ring action.
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) – Tag Team Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
Perhaps the best reason to watch TLC, this match seeks to emulate classic ladder matches between several teams and should give these hungry high flyers ample opportunity to steal the show. Granted, the booking leading into the match has been bland besides The New Day’s usual shenanigans, but considering the talent and exciting stipulation here fans can expect some fireworks. The New Day will retain and hopefully get even more chances to get ridiculous on Raw.
Kevin Owens (C) vs. Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Championship Match
Another potential show stealing match pitches two savvy grapplers against each other for the IC belt. While the pair’s Survivor Series match disappointed, this can be chalked up to the tournament forcing Ambrose to save his energy for his later match. Owens and Ambrose have had a chance to develop chemistry since their previous encounter. If given the right amount of time, these two can definitely give fans something to cheer about and remind people why we enjoy wrestling in the first place. Owens retains and keeps the feud alive for another PPV.
Sheamus (c) vs. Roman Reigns (TLC match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
WWE almost had me getting behind Sheamus as champion. His Sheamus 5:15 gimmick and his braggart style was fairly entertaining and showed why he was more deserving of the title than Reigns. In addition, him forming the League of Nations using several underutilized wrestlers almost had me thinking the internet wrestling community might back him. Then on the go-home Raw before TLC, the WWE booked Sheamus to look pathetic and revealed they have little faith in the man.
The only person looking worse than Sheamus is Reigns, who delivered yet another terrible promo that revolved around casual racism and testicle jokes. And yet WWE still wants us to view Reigns as a sympathetic character despite the fact that:
Out of 13 total PPV’s in 2015, Reigns has been in the main event seven times. It is time to end the experiment and for WWE to realize that Reigns simply is not main event material at this time. During this time of record low ratings the WWE cannot hope that the mixed reaction Reigns gets will somehow morph into a John Cena style pop (as there is no time to wait for Reigns to figure it all out while ratings tank).
With Cena, at least respect is there. As far as Reigns is concerned, he is headlining the majority of the year’s PPV’s and cannot gain any traction with fans. It was very telling that Reigns got jeers instead of cheers when shown crying after Survivor Series. Even worse is that WWE has sacrificed Sheamus (who could have used his upcoming role in TMNT 2 to gain a new level of popularity and mainstream recognition while being champ) to try to get us to feel bad for a bland guy who gets yet another chance at the gold.
Sadly enough, I see Reigns winning to end the Sheamus experiment and Brock Lesnar finally coming back at the Royal Rumble to set up a WrestleMania rematch between the two.
By Frank Lucci
Hell in a Cell 2015 promises to be one of the more memorable pay per views of the year, but for all the wrong reasons.
What should have been a stacked card that has been built up expertly over several weeks has turned into a plate of hot garbage. The WWE has managed to waste appearances by Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin (side note: HOW THE HELL DO YOU BOTCH STONE COLD’S RETURN?) and filled the top matches with aging superstars instead of the hot young talent who WWE can’t even be bothered to come up with feuds for despite having around seven hours of weekly programming to fill.
Despite all this, there are a few matches with potential on the card that should give fans something to cheer for. Here are the predictions for Hell in a Cell 2015.
Preshow Match: Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Neville vs. Rusev, Sheamus and King Barrett.
This match was originally supposed to Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper and Braun Strowman, but apparently Orton has hurt his shoulder (again) and Harper was removed from the card because of a family situation (wish him the best). Harper lives in the same suburb of Rochester as me, so this slight is unforgivable. Anyway, this match features six men who have nothing going for them unless you count being Mr. Money in the Bank, a former world champ or being european as something.
Given time this could be a great match, but it will most likely be a ten minute snorefest as JBL yells about Mountain Dew and Premier League Futbol. The face team will pull out the victory because Rusev needs to be punished for having his fiance’ be excited they are getting married instead of keeping that shit on lockdown and Barrett and Sheamus aren’t allowed to have nice things in general.
Kevin Owens (C) vs. Ryback (Intercontinental Championship Match)
Vince McMahon most likely booked this match during his play time where he smashed the two superstars action figures together like a five year old before realizing he could make this happen in real-life.
WWE had a chance to develop this feud after Owens won the title by cheating but instead they just had these two bounce around aimlessly. With no added stipulations to raise the stakes, expect Owens to cheat again to win to show how despicable he is in a lackluster hoss fight.
John Cena (C) vs. TBD (US Championship Open Challenge)
I can see Cena’s match breaking down in three ways:
1. Newly called up wrestler Tyler Breeze answers the challenge and sneakily wins the championship from Cena to give Breeze some much needed rub considering his NXT run ended with him losing over and over again at Takeover specials. Perhaps Breeze could hit Cena with the “Beauty Shot” or the “Unprettier” and injure Cena’s nose again to get the victory. On Raw the hurting Cena could be taken out by Lesnar or some other force so he can take his time off and have feuds ready to go.
2. The New Day shows up and use their numbers game to take down Cena and give Xavier Woods a championship (as he is on the sideline for their title defenses 90% of the time.) Then The New Day could get some real heel heat by dismantling Cena and knocking him out of action so they get more boos from the WWE target audience of children. Then when Cena comes back he can heroically overcome the odds yet again (despite almost never losing a single match) because BIG MATCH JOHN MAGGLE.
3. Dolph Ziggler challenges and beats Cena for the championship using some less than heroic tactics. Ziggler goes full heel the next night which leads to Cena being taken out for his vacation. This ties into the “Total Divas” storyline and allows Ziggler to take on some fresh opponents. No matter what, I expect Cena to lose (if you couldn’t tell).
The New Day (C) vs. The Dudley Boyz (WWE Tag Team Championship)
The WWE had several chances to put the titles on the Dudley Boyz. The forgettable Madison Square Garden show, for example. But instead had The New Day repeatedly disqualify themselves to keep the titles. This is good heel tactics, but at least point switching the championships would be fairly anticlimactic.
With the Dudley Boyz once again getting a rematch with no added stipulations, The New Day will likely win, Xavier Woods will get destroyed afterwards, and the tag team division will keep spinning it’s wheels.
Charlotte (C) vs. Nikki Bella (Divas Championship Match)
With the Divas Revolution quickly losing steam, Charlotte (and by extension, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks) need to do something to capture the magic that the NXT women’s division has. Feuds with Team Bella is not the solution. Charlotte wins, Nikki films an episode of “Total Divas” about how sad she is about it, and the WWE gives Sasha Banks (who clearly is the fan’s choice for favorite new Diva) a shot (and maybe gives Becky Lynch something to do besides hang out with Ric Flair at ringside to cheer her bestie on).
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt (Hell in a Cell Match)
This feud started out promising, but overall the Reigns vs. Wyatt program has shown how far behind Reigns is compared to Wyatt and his BFF Ambrose. BUT HE’S TALL AND TAN BY GAWD so now we’re stuck with him.
Wyatt has attempted to keep people engaged with this feud by delivering his signature promos, but after three months of his “anyone but you” schtick it is time for this to end.
By the way, nice of Wyatt to summarize the internet’s feelings about Reigns and help us feud with him by proxy. Reigns did his best to get us emotionally invested in him with his infamous “I’m doing this for, like, my family and stuff” promo, which only went to show how much better Wyatt is as a talker and how much more natural charisma Ambrose has. At the go home Raw, the WWE then tried to get people hyped by bringing out Ric Flair. Instead, Flair puttered around the ring and said Reign’s name to try and get the crowd to pop.
I guess it was better than Flair bursting into tears every time Charlotte wrestles.
With rumors of Reigns winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania circling again, Wyatt will lose this match as he always does, then find another guy we hope he will defeat and gain momentum, but ultimately end up jobbing to.
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Kane (World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Does anyone else feel like this will be the bathroom break match between Hell in a Cell matches? The Corporate Kane/Demon Kane thing is kinda funny, kinda meta, but does not belong anywhere near the championship picture. Have this be a random offshoot of an Authority storyline, but not something involving Rollins, who goes from wrestling AARP Sting to wrestling a 48 year-old guy who is an honest to God grandfather.
Can we get this guy a challenger who works full time on the roster and is under the age of 40?
Another side note to this feud: way to bring out Shawn Michaels to bury the champ and eat some kids pizza (which probably cost $8).
Rollins vs HBK would be a bonkers match but it will never happen and Michaels did not seem to care much about selling people on Rollins or his match.
Another legend wasted.
Please let this be a swan song for Kane, who deserves to bow out in a decent match for all he has done for the WWE over the years. While he should not be gunning for the championship, he should have a nice moment to close his career out and transition to becoming HR Representative Kane to counter The Authority’s thuggish tactics.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell Match)
WHO’S READY FOR SOME TORTURE PORN???
Seriously though, I fear for the Undertaker in this match. The guy had a massive concussion (which by the way, never stopped him from competing while Daniel Bryan continues to sit out) after WrestleMania 30, then collapsed after his match with Lesnar at Summerslam.
Clearly the guy cannot hang with Lesnar anymore and should not be doing this. Any enjoyment to be had will be mixed with the feeling that Undertaker can be legit hurt at any moment (I know the point of Hell in a Cell matches is to be dangerous and violent, but at some point you need to step in and say enough is enough).
Brock wins, Undertaker has his big retirement hoopla in Dallas at WrestleMania 32 and rides off into the sunset. Personally, I’d like to see ‘Taker vs Bo Dallas in a easy squash at ‘Mania so the crowd can watch the legend take a bow and not worry about whether he can walk on his own power after the match.
#DallasinDallas people make it happen!