Tag Archives: WWE Network

Spaceman Frank’s TLC 2016 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

The end of the year is closing in fast, and the last SmackDown exclusive PPV of 2016, TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, seeks to end things on a high note for the blue brand.

SmackDown Live has had the best weekly programming the WWE has to offer, which granted is not saying much. Each match on the card has been built up in enjoyable fashion, and even some minor feuds got some spotlight time in during Survivor Series. It definitely helps make this event stand out over the general sameness that prevaids over Raw, and throwing in stipulations galore also spices things up nicely. As long as WWE refrains from throwing in a stairs match (or another exploding TV monitor), this should be another solid event that overshadows its Raw counterpart Roadblock: End of the Line later in the month. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my predictions for TLC 2016.

Heath Slater and Rhyno (c) vs. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton (WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships Match)

This is the only match on the card that does not have a stipulation (so far), which is probably a good thing. For one, this match was made official on the go-home SmackDown. And two: I imagine if WWE had a stipulation for this match Slater would spend 90 percent of the match getting murdered.

Slater and Rhyno continue to be entertaining, but they clearly are not the focus of the tag team scene. At this point they’re just a stepping stone for the inevitable Orton vs. Wyatt feud. The X-factor here is Luke Harper, who might try to break up Wyatt and Orton out of jealousy. The (Quasi) Wyatt Family wins and sooner rather than later, both these teams will break up.

Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin (Chairs Match)

This match has been building for some time, which is amazing considering these guys were begging for time before and after the brand split. Co-General Manager Daniel Bryan promised Corbin retribution for costing SmackDown the Cruiserweight Division, and his punishment is…facing the guy he previously beat so bad he got legit hurt? Sure.

If Bryan really wanted to punish Corbin he would trade him to Raw or have him team with Apollo Crews. I’m pretty sure this whole match is just building up to Corbin hitting the End of Days on a steel chair, which is something I swear already happened on NXT. Corbin wins and then is one of those guys in the middle of the Rumble who lasts for ten minutes before Brock or Goldberg tosses him out.

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella (No Disqualifications Match)

Who knew these two had big enough vicious streaks to beat the holy hell out of each other enough for people to excited to see these two go No-DQ? The crazy part is Nikki legitimately had a tooth knocked loose a few weeks ago and now Carmella has a black eye (Hopefully WWE incorporates that into the video package for this match). Carmella has won a fair number of their matches, but Nikki is the bigger star here. However, I ‘m guessing we get Nattie Ice as Nikki’s mystery attacker at Survivor Series who also takes her down here. Carmella wins and sneaks into the title picture in a sink or swim feud.

Becky Lynch (c) vs. Alexa Bliss (Tables Match for WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

I hate tables matches. Unless you have a James Ellsworth type who manages to shove somebody through a table to win, I do not see the appeal. Lynch is probably the most well-rounded woman on SmackDown, but Bliss is the second best heel on SmackDown period. Plus, it is easier to see Bliss hitting a Sparkle Splash through a table to win the belt than Lynch awkwardly hitting a pump handle slam through one. Bliss wins to test the waters on her being the top dog and Lynch gets her shot with Carmella at the Rumble.

The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler (Ladder Match for Intercontinental Championship)

After about a three week break for Survivor Series, these two are back at it again. Their first go around was amazing, but do we really want to see Ziggler chase The Miz again? We already had the payoff, and the unceremonious way Ziggler lost the belt took most of the wind out of his sails. In addition, The Miz’s only good ladder spot throughout the years is cockily sitting on top on a ladder before getting knocked off of it. Some fresh faces are needed for these guys, but I have a feeling they’ll end up in the Rumble and this angle gets drawn out even further. At least The Miz has Total Divas to make him much more likable outside the ring. The Awesome One wins after Maryse throws a newly adopted dog at Ziggler.

AJ Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose (TLC Match for WWE World Championship)

It is about time Ambrose gets to throw down in an extreme match with Styles, and for the first time it seems as though he might have an advantage as the champion. This figures to be the blow off match between the two, and I expect these guys to beat each other like Cookie beating Hakeem with a broom. Ambrose is fired up after Ellsworth was murdered to death by a Styles Clash off the stairs, so I think these guys might have enough leeway to get crazier than usual. That being said, Styles is keeping the belt until John Cena comes back. Maybe Ellsworth returns and turns heel on Uncle Deano? We shall see.

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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.

Manopera! Episode 27: What the Hell, No Mercy?

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Did anyone else not see the point in switching the match order at WWE’s No Mercy Pay-Per-View? Chris and Spaceman Frank talk abut the show, TNA’s latest financial troubles, multiple upcoming Hell in a Cell matches and more.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE Backlash Predictions

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Several months after the brand split we get our first official WWE brand exclusive Pay-Per-View, the revived Backlash.

It’s interesting to see how WWE presents these new types of PPVs and if they decide to shorten the length of brand exclusive events, or keep on steamrolling fans with three plus hour shows (not including the pre-show).

Despite splitting the roster, the WWE still seems to have trouble focusing on building up storylines properly (at least the video editing department will always be there to salvage the build and make us care about the matches right before they actually start). With the usual mix of trepidation and vague hope as most Pay-Per-Views, Spaceman Frank is here to predict Backlash 2016.

The Usos vs. The Hype Bros (Qualifying match for SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals)

While the WWE Universe may not have Roman Reigns turning heel, at least we finally get The Usos turning into bad guys and attacking American Alpha. The tag team tournament may be the best booked part of Smackdown, and the WWE has made sure that the fans have a reason to care about three out of the four teams that were in the semifinals of the tournament. The lone exception being The Hype Bros, who will be losing to the hot Usos team so they can advance to the obvious finale of them vs. Slater and Rhyno. Speaking of that match…

Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Usos (SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match)

Heath Slater may be the 2016 version of Damien Sandow in that he turned crap into gold. His “free agent” gimmick has worked well, and the crowd is actually behind his antics with his perfect foil Rhyno. I went from having zero confidence WWE could pull this off to rooting for Slater to actually get the belts with his new buddy. It would be amazing if all of the Slater clan is at ringside for this match (please do this WWE). That being said, I see The Usos winning the tournament to set up the obvious Usos vs. American Alpha rematch for the belts down the line.

The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship Match)

The Miz is an interesting case in the WWE. The guy has nailed his character and has recently been pure fire on the mic. However, WWE has dropped the ball with giving him feuds people actually care about. After Apollo Crews lost at SummerSlam, we have another big disappointment from the show in Ziggler as his next opponent. I like Ziggler (I even named my Fantasy Football team Team Zigglypuff), but his big chance to break out on SmackDown has fallen flat. The Miz needs somebody he can actually play off of who can carry his half of the build (Heath Slater vs. The Miz anyone???) Anyway, The Miz wins because that seems to be the default option for The Miz in these types of feuds.

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch (Six-Pack Challenge for SmackDown Women’s Championship)

This match is interesting in that it will reveal who the WWE brass has faith in going forward. Carmella has been targeting Nikki Bella, which makes me think the former champ takes down the rookie quickly. Alexa Bliss and Naomi have been background characters, and while they are decent in the ring it seems as though they’re there just to make up the numbers. Natalya may be the dark horse here, but she and Becky Lynch will take each other out because of their history. That leaves Nikki Bella as the last women standing, as she can help establish the belt and give the veteran something to do moving forward.

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

Another month, another meaningless Bray Wyatt feud. The poor guy cannot get any traction, and now he gets fed yet again to somebody coming off a major match. At this point I’m desperate for him to actually go for the title, because this gateway to the main event place he is in for years is wasting a great talent (maybe we’ll get Luke Harper making his return?). Orton wins to regain his momentum and Wyatt just farts around as he does.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. AJ Styles (WWE Championship Match)

This is the saving grace of Backlash. I can’t see this match being poor in any way. Sure the build has been pretty bad, especially with Dean Ambrose acting like an apathetic teenager the whole time (We saw you cry when you won the title at Money in the Bank Dean, we know you care!). AJ Styles on the other hand is having one of the best years anyone has had in wrestling, and considering how hot he is I see him winning the championship in an awesome match. This will setup both rematches with Ambrose as well as John Cena, as I see him and Styles going at it again, but with gold on the line.

Manopera! Episode 21: Balor, Nakamura and the Wyatt Family Deletion

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Chris and Spaceman Frank analyze the infamous “Final Deletion,” The Wyatt Family vs. The New Day, Nakamura and Finn Balor’s epic encounter and way more in a heavy-hitting podcast.

 

Spaceman Frank’s Money in the Bank 2016 Predictions

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Official Money in the Bank 2016 poster. Credit: WWE.com

by Frank Lucci

Oh Money in the Bank. Considered to be on the level or just below the Big Four Pay-Per-Views (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series), oftentimes the event is one big tease.

We get excited over who gets the Money in the Bank contract and will most likely get a run with the WWE World Heavyweight title, but considering how recent winners have fared when they’ve actually cashed in (Sheamus, Rollins, etc.) it’s been either a blessing or a curse depending on the Superstar. With a whopping ten matches scheduled for this year’s event, this could be a down year for the PPV. Nonetheless, Spaceman Frank is here to predict what will happen at Money in the Bank 2016.

MITB Kickoff: The Lucha Dragons vs. The Dudley Boyz

A recent edition to the pre-show will feature the Dudleys again being wasted on another meaningless and directionless feud with a team that frankly should have broken up once Kalisto won the United States Championship. Neither team has done much and with a sudden influx of tag teams (none of whom seem to be doing anything significant other than The New Day and Enzo and Cass) there is no reason to care about this match. Can we get a continued singles run for Kalisto please? The Dudley Boyz will pick up the win because they are the veteran team and are due for a victory.

The Golden Truth vs. Breezango

For whatever reason this feud is still a thing. While I’m all for lower card guys getting storylines to work with, this has been stretching out two weeks of plot devices in what has felt like three years. Fandango should replace the recently released Adam Rose in the Social Outcasts and Tyler Breeze might as well join The New Day since he is a regular on Xavier Woods’ UpUpDownDown YouTube channel. Meanwhile, The Golden Truth has some potential as a veteran tag team with oddball personalities, but they can’t even get into the Fatal Four Way for the tag belts because of this atrocious angle. Breezango wins because somebody has to win and it might as well be the super handsome guys.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

On the plus side these guys have managed to get off the pre-show. On the negative side these guys are still stuck feuding. Either man could have spiced up the Money in the Bank ladder match, but instead we have to see the same match we’ve been watching since WrestleMania ended. Ziggler wins to finally end this and make him look strong in time for the brand split.

Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus

Yet another match featuring wrestlers thrown together with minimal story (at least this is a fresh pairing) because both men need something to do until the brand split. Crews has been getting the Breeze treatment since joining the main roster and Sheamus has done nothing even though he has a major role in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Rocksteady-err Sheamus wins because of said movie while Crews continues to just be happy he was invited to the party.

Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Natalya and Becky Lynch

Instead of having Charlotte defend her Womens Championship, she’s dealing with her new BFF Dana Brooke being a klutz of a partner while Nattie and Becky are just kind of there. Despite having a wide range of competitors to challenge for the title, this match exists as an extension of the never ending Charlotte vs. Nattie feud.

The WWE is currently very, very guilty of beating dead-horse storylines (see Ziggler and Corbin), maybe because the upcoming brand split but also probably due to laziness. Anyway, the Spaceman thinks Charlotte and Brooke pick up the win because Nattie can never have nice things.

The New Day (C) vs. The Club vs. Enzo and Cass vs. The Vaudevillians (Tag Team Championships Match)

This match should be pretty exciting based on the promos alone and each team can deliver in the ring. It would be nice if The New Day won out and carried the belts for a full year, but I don’t see that happening. Instead, The Club will walk away with the gold. For one, they’re the only tag team in the match without a fun side, making them a wildcard in this match. Second, with The New Day now as faces and the two recent NXT callups still finding their footing The Club is prime for a championship win. They need the titles to help make their group more legit and the epic New Day vs. Enzo and Cass feud that will eventually happen can take place without the championships being on the line.

Rusev (C) vs. Titus O’Neil (United States Championship Match)

An epic hoss fight, these two are capable of having a fun match that will probably be around seven minutes long. Many feared that O’Neil would be punished after his suspension, while others feared Rusev would be buried by a returning John Cena after his newfound title win.

Thankfully neither scenario seems to be the case. Rusev will keep the gold here, as I see this as a way for the WWE to test the waters on a Titus title run to see if he can take his awesome hot-tag fire and ignite a singles push. 

Then again, MITB takes place on Father’s Day. Would it not be a wonderful swerve if the WWE gave the 2015 Celebrity Dad of the Year award winner his first singles title instead of another tie?

Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Alberto Del Rio (Money in the Bank Ladder Match)

The marquee matchup of this event has been hampered somewhat by the fact that one: we’ve seen all the competitors (especially Zayn, Owens and Cesaro) have matches against each other on every single Raw and SmackDown! in the past few weeks and two: it seems unrealistic that anybody besides Ambrose or Owens will win the match.

Ambrose has flirted with the main event scene since The Shield broke up and winning the briefcase could help him finally ascend to the next level. Owens fits the bill of the classic sneaky heel Money in the Bank winner who can cash in on a wounded babyface. Overall, Ambrose fits the bill best and needs the briefcase more than anyone else.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

The WWE is fast-tracking this dream match, which I honestly thought would be a big-money SummerSlam encounter rather than a B PPV headliner. The battle between the two faces of two very different companies finally happens and people have been quick to assume that Cena will be the victor.

Both men have managed to sell this matchup solely on mic work and even more important we have not seen Cena job out The Club on Raw or SmackDown! (as he is known to do), thus preserving their status as game changers. Since this is the first encounter between the two icons, I see Styles taking this match for the OMG IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED pop (just like Owens’ clean win over the Cenation leader last year), leading to a bitter grudge match at SummerSlam.

Roman Reigns (C) vs Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match)
This match is heavily overshadowed by rumors that the top championship in the company will become two world titles due to the brand split. This is especially poignant considering that Rollins has been pretty justified in his rage towards Reigns, who he sees as an unworthy champion considering he never beat Rollins (who was forced to relinquish his title upon injury last year).

With the WWE continuously in a bind with Reigns as champ, having shenanigans occur during this match offers the company the chance to have their cake and eat it too. Some sort of DQ/non-finish will occur, giving WWE an excuse to split the titles and allow them to have Reigns be one champ while Rollins can hold the gold for the smark crowd on the secondary brand.

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: The End Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

Despite the ominous title, the newest NXT TakeOver live event special is not the end of the highly praised series – but it does have some finality hanging over it.

With many of the top NXT talent already on the main roster and several more possibly leaving NXT for Raw or SmackDown! when the brand split occurs in July, this may be the last TakeOver event with some of the classic NXT talents people first latched onto when WWE first began having live specials for the developmental brand.

Here are Spaceman Frank’s predictions for NXT Takeover: The End.

Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Tye Dillinger

Poor Tye Dillinger. Despite having lots of crowd support and a marketable gimmick, the poor guy lives just to put over new talent. With so many of the old NXT guard on the main roster, would a push for “The Perfect Ten” be too much to ask?

His opponent, the former La Sombra, has been working NXT live events (as well as a dark match at NXT Takeover: Dallas) and has received rave reviews from live audiences. Random side note: I like that Andrade has “Cien” as a nickname instead of being “Cien Almas. ” As much fun as No Way Jose is, it’s hard to take him seriously with no real name. In addition, it’s rumored that Almas is going to be heavily featured in the Cruiserweight Classic this summer, so it’s pretty clear that he’s going to beat Dillinger.

America Alpha (C) vs. The Revival (NXT Tag Team Championships match)

This matchup is a big toss-up. For one, champs American Alpha are super over with the crowd and have routinely handled The Revival at live events. However, the champions are frequently discussed as the next tag team to jump to the main roster, so they could easily lose the titles and then move on. The Revival are a better version of the now broken up Blake and Murphy and shine as the talented yet generic heel tag team that make good diabolical champs. It’s time for a two time champion in NXT and The Revival will reclaim their belts so Jordan and Gable can make their leap forward.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries

The big new dream match for The End sees the two men who debuted at NXT Takeover: Dallas clash and have an unofficial number one contenders match for the NXT Championship.

Nakamura can do no wrong at Full Sail as the crowd pops big time whenever his theme song hits. Meanwhile, Aries has the crowd begging for his heel turn; as A Double would be the perfect bad guy to slide into the main event picture. The big question here is if Aries turns on the live special or if he saves it for NXT’s weekly programming. I’m predicting Nakamura wins clean here, causing Aries to descend into madness later – making Swagsuke look good while the cameras are live.

Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

First teased at Takeover: London, this match is brimming with potential.

Asuka was able to take down Bayley, but can she handle a motivated Jax who’s been taking down every other woman on the NXT roster? Conspicuous in her absence is former champ Bayley, who (kayfabe) was injured by Jax and thus unable to get her rematch. It seems blasphemous to leave Bayley out of a TakeOver, as NXT could have easily added more drama or intrigue by having this be a triple threat or having Bayley be the guest referee. By having her out it seems plain as day that Asuka hangs on to her title so the two can have their big rematch in front of the much larger NXT Takeover: Brooklyn crowd while Jax gets valuable reps so she can be NXT’s next big heel.

Samoa Joe (C) vs Finn Balor (Steel Cage Match for the NXT Championship)

The fourth and (probably) final match  between these former friends is sure to be memorable. When it was assumed this feud was played out, NXT pulled a shocker when Joe won the NXT Championship at an untelevised show. Instead of having Balor immediately jump to the main roster to join his mates in The Club, he’s been showing more fire than ever in trying to reclaim the gold.

Joe has been perfect on the microphone as champ and I’m sure WWE wishes they could give their main roster champion Roman Reign’s half the ability this Samoan has. Throw in not only a rare stipulation but the first-ever NXT cage match at Full Sail and this could be a classic feud finisher that has been sorely lacking in this age of 50/50 WWE booking.

Both men deserve to make it to the main roster ASAP, but I see Joe retaining so WWE can begin hyping Balor coming to the main roster and Joe can lay down the groundwork for a match with Nakamura that will be so heavy Iron Maiden will write a concept album about it.

Bullet Club Must Debut at Extreme Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things just got interesting.

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

Nope.

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

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

Nope.

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

WWE Breaking Ground: Episode 7 – Proving Ground

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by Frank Lucci

After a delay due to a WrestleMania weekend induced wrestling coma, Spaceman Frank is here to once again recap Breaking Ground. With several NXT wrestlers from the show now on the main roster, it will be especially poignant to see them trying to make their mark down in Florida.

We immediately start where episode six left off with Carmella getting a concussion due to Eva Marie being the worst and just straight-up kicking her head off. Carmella is escorted back and head NXT trainer Matt Bloom makes sure she’s OK and reminds her that it is imperative that she protects herself in the ring and lets people know if she’s hurt mid-match. Bloom sympathizes with Carmella but sees this as a chance for her to show how tough she can be.

To help Carmella feel better after her match her boyfriend Big Cass, her BFF Bayley, and ENZO FREAKING AMORE go out to a suspiciously deserted restaurant. Suddenly this has turned into Table for 3…errr 4. Bayley gets a side of beans which leads to Amore making fart jokes (100% approval rating from Spaceman Frank). The group then makes fun of Cass for snoring and being so tall that his piss goes everywhere when using the bathroom and sounds like a waterfall (I love this show. Follow Enzo for season two please). Eventually they reveal that Carmella isn’t concussed, which is good.

Once the gang gets back to Florida, we see Bloom arriving before dawn where he works out in the Performance Center along with coach Amato. He manages to pinch his nipple ring (dude you are in your forties get that shit removed). Baron Corbin rides his motorcycle to the PC (again without his helmet!) and does a shitty parking job because that’s what a good heel would do. Bloom farts around keeping the NXT wrestlers focused, which pretty much boils down to keeping Mojo Rawley and ZZ on point. For whatever reason a giant cardboard cutout of Tyler Breeze adorns the trainer’s area of the building.

Lovepreet returns, training with Robbie Brookside for an upcoming battle royal. Lovepreet gives a dick punch to a dude he’s trying to hoof out of the ring, which Brookside obviously isn’t thrilled about. Nhooph is practicing her entrance with William Regal, who gives great tidbits concerning how to work both the crowd and camera during the entrance. Her entrance is pretty bland and feels like a generic “create-an-entrance” from WWE video games.

Next we see the NXT women going to a makeup/skincare class. Seems pretty sexist that the women have to do this, yet the men – who also have to worry about the same problems of looking presentable on TV are not shown doing makeup tutorials. Bayley admits she needed these classes when she first arrived, which is why we love her so much.

In a cool behind the scenes bit we see that NXT rookies put on mini shows at the Performance Center in front of more established wrestlers and coaches to get more in-ring experience. This also includes rookie announcers and proper entrances. Lovepreet works a tag match, but we don’t see much of what happened. Nhooph does her entrance, which does not go well with the crowd. She tries to cut a promo, which she also bombs as the wrestlers boo her mercilessly (hilariously booing even when she announces she is from “Toronto…that’s in Canada!”). Tino Sabatelli “main events” the show against Tucker Knight, which goes decently.

It’s Halloween and Carmella and Cass are carving pumpkins. Carmella is worried about getting cleared to compete again the next day and Cass plays the supportive boyfriend role. Next we see Bayley at home with her boyfriend (aka the most hated man in the world for dating the internet’s favorite girl). Bayley talks about her match with Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn as her boyfriend has a man-bun and is the worst. They bring up how Bayley is the last of the Four Horsewomen in NXT, which drives her to get to the main roster soon.

ZZ drives a car he can’t possibly afford to go volunteer at an alligator park (yes, those exist). He wrangles a giant snapping turtle and helps move a gator to a bigger pen. It’s amazing that ZZ is more comfortable doing this rather than eating right and exercising. That being said, it’s great to see ZZ in his element and looking confident for once.

Carmella passes her in-ring physical with flying colors, which is no surprise at this point. Bayley has a meeting with coach Amato, who puts over how Bayley’s fan base has diversified the NXT audience. Amato wants Bayley to focus on grooming the next generation of NXT women wrestlers, which explains why she has worked programs with Nia Jax and Carmella.

Lovepreet hosts Robbie Brookside to an Indian meal, which is petty adorable. Meanwhile, Bayley drives Carmella and Tough Enough winner Sara Lee to a show (shouldn’t Lee, the rookie be driving the vets?). Lovepreet and a few other Indian wrestlers are driving to the show as well and Lovepreet is nervous about his upcoming match. He’s in a Battle Royal and Braun Strowman makes a cameo as one of the other competitors and stands out with his Wyatt Family ring gear. Lovepreet actually eliminates someone before getting tossed out. Carmella makes her in-ring return as well.

THE BOSS IS HERE! Not Sasha Banks but Triple H, who requests a meeting with Banks and Bayley. The two divas reunite and immediately go into bestie mode until Hunter shows up for their meeting. Strangely, this meeting takes place in the bleachers of Full Sail (which makes me think this meeting was shot specifically for the show). The ladies are nervous about the meeting and the episode ends on a cliffhanger.

Long story short, Breaking Ground’s seventh installment is a decent episode featuring a lot of feel-good segments with the highlight being Amore making his first big appearance on the show.

WWE Breaking Ground: Episode 6 – Road Trip

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by Frank Lucci

Another “road trip” style episode of Breaking Ground sees NXT go to Louisville, KT, Nashville, Tenn. and the official debut of Baymella! Let’s get right into it.

We see “Stone Cold” Canyon Ceman giving out raises and firing Cal Bishop again right off the bat. Ceman repeatedly puts over how competitive NXT is and given Bishop’s injury history (and the flood of new talent they were acquiring) that he was expendable. Bishop looks wrecked and he leaves without shaking Ceman’s hand (which is kinda shitty but hey dude just got fired). Everyone is sad about Bishop and Nia Jax even cries during her talking head segment (DAMN YOU CEMAN, YOU MADE NXT’S MONSTER HEEL CRY!).

After that frankly depressing business it’s time for another road trip.

We find out Carmella and Big Cass live together, hopefully with Enzo Amore living in the basement like a petulant teenager (Now that is a sitcom idea if I ever heard one). Carmella claims what you see on TV mirrors their real life, so I assume every time they enter a room Amore informs people that Big Cass is seven foot tall (and you can’t teach that). They make omelettes and steaks before five A.M. due to the upcoming trip and Bayley shows up with a tiny dog for some reason. Carmella cries over Bayley potentially being called up and leaving her without her best friend (Dawwwww). The gang arrives at the airport for the beginning of a 18 hour day.

After the travel segment we meet a new NXT rookie, Lovepreet, a Pehlwani (ancient form of grappling dating back to 5,000 BC and was studied by Karl fucking Gotch) wrestler from India. He was discovered by Ceman and William Regal during one of their many international trips to find potential talent for the WWE. Lovepreet seems like a humble dude, but this segment pretty much exists to show how WWE looks all over the world for their talent.

Back to Louisville where the music festival NXT is performing at is dealing with flash storms subsequently turning the place into one giant mud pit. This apparently calls for the tour bus to hit up the nearest shoe store, as everyone scrambles for new footwear to avoid dragging mud into the ring. Jason Jordan finds Jordan knockoffs (I see what you did there) called Catapults (A quick Google search reveals the highest priced Catapults are $30). Needless to say, everyone makes fun of Jordan for his selection.

Apparently it took 12 hours for the NXT crew to get there, and the Superstars have to rush to get ready. Hilariously, when we get a wide shot of the bus it seems like maybe 8 people are in it, which does not seem very cost efficient.

An autograph signing before the show reveals a fan who made a Baymella Army shirt, which has each girl super stoked. Carmella loves Bayley because she is a good friend and role model while Bayley loves Carmella because she does the string connected to your lips trick and I love them both because they are adorable human beings (#SpacemanBaymella Triumvirate). Also, one fan gets a picture with Carmella but uses hover hands instead of actually touching her (FOR SHAME, SIR JUST TOUCH HER SHOULDER). Bayley helps produce a match between Eva Marie and Alexa Bliss, which Bayley takes a huge opportunity to learn how matches come together from a television standpoint.

Baron Corbin is here again to remind us of his “lone wolf-ness” and how he wants to move up to the main roster. Coach Bloom acknowledges he works hard in the ring, but does not have enough character and mic development to move past NXT (Pretty spot on there, though I would love to see him paired with Paul Heyman). Corbin to his credit knows he has to improve outside the ring and discusses how football taught him not to show emotions while he knows he has to emote constantly for his current career.

For whatever reason we get a segment where the NXT talent and coaches go to a haunted sanitarium. An obvious spot inserted simply to kill time (in an episode that is already 36 minutes long) sees Corbin loving it, Jordan being scared and a bunch of post production horror film cliches thrown in. Pretty lame.

NXT hits Nashville and everyone is pumped to go the country music capitol of the world for the first time. Bayley messes with Jordan when he asks for an autographed poster, which shows why she is the best yet again. Jordan and Gable get hyped (pun intended) to face Enzo and Big Cass. Corbin being the oddball, goes to a weird goth shop with a friend to look at bones and shrunken heads. Corbin buys human brain samples from the insane asylum, which I’m sure his girlfriend will love.

Lovepreet is back, and he struggles in promo class due to english being his second language. He says his english is not good, but he seems fairly well spoken in his talking head segments. He cuts a bare bones promo in class that goes over well and MY BOY Sami Zayn gives him advice about speaking confidently and with a clear goal.

On the road Bayley puts over the Nashville crowd. Curiously, she says she’s surprised the place was sold out with 1,300 people, but when I went to see NXT in Albany we sold out the place that seats nearly 5,000, so that seems like a scripted line for her talking head segment. Jordan and Gable impress the coaches. Carmella has a match with Eva Marie where a stiff kick to the head gives Carmella a concussion to end the match. The episode ends with Carmella receiving medical attention.

Why is Marie on the main roster again?

A great episode of Breaking Ground shows several favorites (Bayley, Carmella, Jordan, etc.) in their element and keeps the reality show forced segments (besides the asylum bit) to a minimum. A strong episode that is a breeze to watch.