sasha
WWE

WWE Weekly Recap: It’s Time for the Women to Make History + No Mercy Preview

Leave a comment

Spoiler alert: For the first time in weeks Raw was actually a better show than SmackDown, which is saying something considering how enjoyable SmackDown has been lately.

As I wrote last week, Raw largely just felt like a bleh show with nothing of importance. It made sense for creative to save their better material for a show that wasn’t going up against the hottest feud in the country right now (Trump vs. Hillary) and that’s exactly what we got on Monday night.

The attention to detail was noticeable. There were video packages used to hype up guys before their match. The cruiserweights were featured in the first hour (!!!) and there was a well planned continuation in the Sheamus-Cesaro storyline.

Most importantly the main event for the women’s title match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte was the most significant match on the show, which yes, is a novel concept for the final match of the show, but this is 2016 WWE we’re talking about here.

And boy did two of the four horsewomen deliver.

It was the first time in ages that the crowd actually responded to the final segment of a three hour show. When there are moves like this taking place, you have no choice but to get up out of your seat:

Was this match better than the Raw match they had back on July 25th when Sasha won the title for the first time? IMO no, but that match was on a stacked card that featured Finn Balor’s main roster debut and his main event match with Roman Reigns. Viewers left the show talking about Balor’s shocking defeat of Reigns. Sasha’s win was sadly an afterthought.

This time around, Sasha’s title win was easily the most outstanding part of the show, which was only emphasized by the build for the match throughout.

For the first time in 12 years, a women’s match closed an episode of Raw. Now it’s time to give Sasha and Charlotte the opportunity to make history by becoming the first women to main event a Pay-Per-View event, inside Hell in a Cell.

With their consistent work, these two have shown that they truly deserve to headline a PPV. While their work has been sloppy at times (Sasha seriously needs to stop doing suicide dives), the work rate between the two is high enough to warrant a 25-30 minute encounter inside the cell.

Imagine the boost the women’s division across both brands will receive if Charlotte and Sasha go out in the main event and kill it. Right now it feels like core of women on Raw (Charlotte, Sasha, Bayley) are on the verge of becoming one of the must-see acts on the show.

Charlotte and Sasha need this main event and they’ve earned the right to have it.

giphy

No Mercy Preview

WWE World Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena

The face-off segment between these three on SmackDown was so damn good. I loved the idea of having Styles and Ambrose cut off Cena’s predictable dialogue, which eventually led to Cena attacking Ambrose.

Styles’ promo to Cena especially stuck out to me. Idk what it is about Styles’ delivery when he’s talking to Cena, perhaps it’s the intensity, but his words always seem so much more powerful. It was also interesting to hear Styles bring up Ric Flair considering their connection in TNA.

(Flair was Styles’ mentor/manager for a period of time. Their run together was highlighted by Styles walking out to the ring in a Flairesque robe with a hood on it.)

Ambrose delivered another one of his rambling promos, which are totally fine with me. The guy has found his voice with this promo style and the crowd is responding to it.

There’s no reason to take the title off of Styles at this point. With Cena leaving for roughly two months to film the second season of “American Grit,” it would make sense for Ambrose to lay him out with a brutal spot during or after the match in order to set up a program between the two when Cena returns.

Intercontinental Championship vs. Career Match: The Miz (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Whenever a match has a title vs. career stipulation, it’s usually a giveaway that a title change is going to take place, but it’s not the time to take the title away from the Miz. Outside of the three guys in the main event, Miz has been the most entertaining guy week-to-week on SmackDown.

If Dolph were to lose it opens the door for creative to do a total overhaul with his character, which is desperately needed at this point. This version of Ziggler has run its course. If Ziggler does win the match, I hope it’s by nefarious means that are sparked by desperation.

giphy-1

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

I might be the only person on this island, but I liked the story that was told Tuesday between Orton and Wyatt. Sure it was a bit silly, but it worked with Wyatt’s supernatural character.

Having said that, I can’t wait for this feud to end. It’s done nothing for either guy and it’s time to move Orton up to the main event to face Styles at Survivor Series for the title. Bray does desperately need a win, but man this just isn’t the time to put him over Orton.

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

As entertaining as Slater and Rhyno have been, the Usos need the titles to set up a title match down the road against American Alpha. A win for Jimmy and Jay will only help justify their heel turns in storyline because their new attitude “led” them to a championship.

Perhaps Rhyno turns on Slater after the match?

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch (C) vs. Alexa Bliss

This is a nice spot for Alexa who has proven that she belongs on the main roster, but it’s way too soon for Becky to drop the title.

I’m expecting a pretty good match between these two considering their time together in NXT. Hopefully Alexa works on what she’s going to taunt Becky with during the heat spots because I’m expecting her to get plenty of time to beat down on the Lass Kicker before Lynch makes her comeback.

Carmella vs. Nikki Bella

Hmm… Carmella has been getting the best of Nikki lately, so you would expect Nikki to come out on top here, but it seems like Nikki is being built to have a bounce back year in 2017 (a la Cena in 2012), so it’s certainly possible that she’ll lose to the Princess of Staten Island again.

Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin

Swagger beat Corbin on SmackDown, so Corbin is getting his win back here.

Curt Hawkins vs. ???

Really hoping for a James Ellsworth appearance here.

Was Raw better than SmackDown this week?

giphy-2

Time to “Go Home”

– In 2016 Chris Jericho has gotten the word it and a list over, is there anything he can’t do?

– Did Tony Nese replace Neville?

– Luke Harper seems like a good pick to face Braun Strowman next week.

– Can Gallows and Anderson go on vacation until the New Day break Demolition’s record?

– I don’t know what was worse this week, David Otunga on commentary or Ashton Kutcher’s promo for his Netflix show “The Ranch.”

– So the term WWE Universe might be getting put away for good? I can get behind that.

– If Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg meet at Survivor Series, I wonder if it’ll be the first match in a set.

– Why did The Ascension come out during the Hype Bros vs. The Vaudevillians?

– It might not be a bad idea to sign the Spirit Squad given the state of SmackDown’s tag division. Kenny looked like he could still go.

– It seems like someone ends up bleeding after a stiff shot on every show. Jericho on Monday, Kane on Tuesday.

– I can’t remember the last time I laughed at a segment as much as I did during the New Day-JeriKO segment. Xavier Woods’ reaction to his burn on Owens was so great.

– The ending to Corbin-Swagger was very strange, but I liked that it was different. Gives Swagger a win and a reason for Corbin to get a rematch. #Logic

– Either Corbin hurt his leg while kicking the steps or he remembered to sell the ankle lock.

– Congrats to Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan!

– Instead of the Titus brand, shouldn’t he have the Titus touch? #MakeitaWin

– I know I’m not the only one who though Sami Zayn was going to lose to Titus on Monday.

– I didn’t mind T.J. Perkins tapping out to Brian Kendrick. It gives the two a reason to have a blow off match at Hell in a Cell.

– I can’t wait to see Austin Aries and Roderick Strong tag together in NXT.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

Kurt Angle to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame

ORANGE, CA - MAY 08:  Wrestler Kurt Angle arrives at the Lions Gate Premiere of "See No Evil" at the Century Stadium Promenade 25 on May 8, 2006 in Orange, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oh it’s true, it’s true.

WWE announced today that Kurt Angle will be going into their Hall of Fame on March 31st at the Amway Center in Orlando as part of WrestleMania week.

The 1996 Olympic gold medalist is a five-time WWE world champion and regarded as one of the best in-ring talents to ever grace the squared circle. Angle last appeared in a WWE ring way back in August of 2006.

In a press release, WWE’s Executive Vice President Paul “HHH” Levesque said, “Kurt Angle’s accomplishments both in the Olympics and WWE were extraordinary. He was one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring, and we are honored to welcome him into the WWE Hall of Fame.”

WrestleMania 33 will be held Sunday, April 2nd from the Orlando Citrus Bowl live on WWE Network.

WWE Weekly Recap: 2017 Royal Rumble Odds

corbin
WWE
Leave a comment

For the first time in many years, the favorite to win the Royal Rumble isn’t obvious. In fact, this feels like one of the more unpredictable Rumble matches in WWE history.

Five guys who would be considered a favorite to win the match (Seth Rollins, The Undertaker, Braun Strowman, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar) are rumored to have their WrestleMania programs locked in and none are scheduled to be for either of the company’s main championships.

Instead of being a device that’s used to give an established star a main event spot at Mania, the Rumble might actually be used as a launching pad for a future world champion.

trampoline

With that in mind, here’s how I would rank the field:

Baron Corbin 6/1 (+600)

The odds may surprise you, but Corbin has been booked very strong ever since his better-than-expected chairs match with Kalisto at the TLC Pay-Per-View. He was given a lot of offense in the triple threat match for the WWE title on the “Wild Card Finals” episode of SmackDown and “controlled” 80 percent of his match against John Cena this past Tuesday.

Corbin is ascending into the world title picture and it’s totally logical to picture “The Lone Wolf” ending the first PPV of WrestleMania season by pointing at the giant WM sign.

With Goldberg-Lesnar, Undertaker-Strowman, and HHH-Rollins penciled in for Mania, Corbin vs. Styles, Cena or both, is a perfectly fine match (with entrances) to fill 20-25 minutes of the show. Corbin has shown enough in the ring lately for me to buy that he’s ready for a high level match.

Finn Balor 8/1 (+800)

If either Owens or Reigns walk out of the Universal Championship match in San Antonio with the red strap, Balor has a built-in story with either guy.

Balor beat Reigns clean in the middle of the ring during his first night on Raw and after the match Roman said he would love another crack at Balor.

Owens was handed the championship by Triple H, but HHH also has a connection with Balor that could easily be worked up with one or two backstage interactions if creative wanted to go that route.

If not, Balor and Owens could hearken back to their feud in NXT, which produced a set of extremely good matches in the Summer of 2015. Their NXT title match at “Beast in the East” was one of my favorites that year and 30 percent of that was thanks to the streamers that were thrown at the end of Balor’s entrance.

jim

No matter who Balor works with, he’s going to put on a great performance and if WWE wants to have a NJPW style match at Mania, the Demon King would be the perfect person to insert into it.

Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura 9/1 (+900)

A debuting superstar has never won the Royal Rumble, but if there was ever a time to do it, this is it.

Joe is the more likely option out of the two, considering that he just dropped the NXT title to Nakamura and failed to beat him in the rematch, but if Nakamura loses the title to Bobby Roode at Takeover: San Antonio (unlikely, but you never know), he instantly becomes a favorite.

If either guy won, it would make sense for them to face Styles for the world title at the company’s biggest show of the year. Joe is one of Styles’ best friends in the business. They’ve made magic in the ring together and understand how to put on a clinic in front of a massive crowd.

Nakamura wrestled Styles in the second to last match at Wrestle Kingdom 10, which is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of WrestleMania. It was predictably awesome and if you haven’t seen it yet, set aside a half hour and watch it:

Chris Jericho 10/1 (+1000)

As much as I want to see Team Chris and Kevin face off for the Universal title in Orlando. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. If Owens does somehow hold onto the title at the Alamodome, Jericho would instantly become one of the three favorites to win the Rumble.

Owens and Jericho are the hottest act on the company’s flagship show. Roman Reigns may get a bigger reaction in some cities, but he’s still not ready to be a main event promo, which is exactly what Y2KO have been since September, which is why I’m still holding out hope that this match will be for the title.

If Chris and Kevin are going to feud with each other, someone is going to have to turn and it makes sense for K.O. to beat the crap out of Y2J.

Imagine the verbal jabs between a heel Owens and a sympathetic babyface version Jericho who keeps the same character tone, but plays into the cheers.

wow

Now imagine Reigns cutting a 5-10 minute promo about defending the title.

cena

Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt 12/1 (+1200)

It’s easy to see a scenario in which Orton and Wyatt square off at Mania, but what if creative actually has long-term plans for the group?

If Wyatt or Orton were to win the Rumble and wrestle for the world title at WrestleMania, it could set up a title program between the two for the May-July period.

The Miz 14/1 (+1400)

Even though he’s currently in a feud with Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title, Miz has been one of the best acts on SmackDown since the draft and deserves a main event run.

He and AJ teased a feud during a Miz TV segment a few weeks back, but I think the pair should be saved for a SmackDown exclusive PPV later on in the year.

Miz will eventually climb up the card, but sadly, he’s going to be left out of a high profile match at WrestleMania.

John Cena, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens 17/1 (+1700)

I’m expecting the losers of both title matches to enter the Rumble later on in the night. If I had to rank the four in terms of most likely winners I’d go: Styles, Cena, Reigns, Owens. It would be an interesting swerve to the Cena-Styles storyline if Cena won the title from AJ earlier in the night and then Styles responded by winning the rumble.

Owens is likely locked for a Mania match with Jericho and it would be a major letdown if Reigns won the most unpredictable Rumble in years.

Sami Zayn 25/1 (+2500)

If the Owens-Zayn storyline had any heat left, Zayn would be a logical choice. It would be a genuinely shocking moment and Zayn could use a boost after doing the job for Strowman.

With Owens likely taking on Jericho at Mania and Zayn’s current placement on the card, I don’t expect the taxi driver to make any real impact in the Rumble.

Rusev 25/1 (+2500)

The Bulgarian George Clooney deserves a featured spot in WrestleMania season because he’s one of the most entertaining full-time performers on the roster, but there are only so many spots to go around.

rusev

Big Cass 25/1 (+2500)

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Big Cass ends up as one of the “Final Four” participants in the Rumble match. Either that or he’s going to have a spot midway through where he runs through a couple dudes before going out quickly.

Any member of The New Day 28/1 (+2800)

Big E is the only legitimate option here. This would be an ideal moment to begin the inevitable breakup between the three, but it needs to be a slow burn.

Dean Ambrose 40/1 (+4000)

He’s headed for another multi-man match for the IC title at WrestleMania.

Seth Rollins 50/1 (+5000)

Rollins is obviously penciled in to face Triple H in Orlando, so there’s no need for him to be near the title picture until after Mania.

Braun Strowman 50/1 (+5000)

He’s most likely facing The Undertaker. While it may seem like Strowman isn’t ready for the level of a match, if the company is serious about pushing him, he needs to be in this spot.

The split rosters have created a need for new stars, which means a clean win for Strowman over the Undertaker could be in the cards.

The Undertaker 50/1 (+5000)

As noted above, Taker most likely has a date with Adam from Tinder at Mania.

Yes, I know I used that line last week, but why not bring it back for round two?

Goldberg and Brock Lesnar 50/1 (+5000)

I’d love to see Brock and Goldberg “draw” the first two numbers and beat the hell out of guys until Braun Strowman eventually comes out.

Kane 70/1 (+7000)

Kane has shockingly been protected since the draft, so don’t be surprised if he has a strong showing in the Rumble. Who knows, maybe he makes it all of the way to the “Final Four.”

Shelton Benjamin 75/1 (+7500)

Benjamin was scheduled to return to the SmackDown brand after the draft, but needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He had a six-month recovery time frame and the Rumble falls perfectly in line with his rehab, so don’t be surprised if “ain’t no stoppin me now” blares over the speakers in San Antonio.

American Alpha 75/1 (+7500)

Enjoy the SmackDown tag team titles. Jordan has a chance to win this in a few years.

Apollo Crews 100/1 (+10000)

He should still be in NXT.

Any cruiserweight 100/1 (+10000)

Nope.

Dolph Ziggler 100/1 (+10000)

The guy’s gimmick is that he loses, so there’s no way he’s going to win.

James Ellsworth 1000/1 (+100000)

Any man with two fists has a chance to be eliminated.

Holy Schnikes moment of the week:

Take it away Becky Lynch.

If you don’t know what see you next Tuesday means, Google it.

Time to “Go Home”

– Stephanie was harder to listen to than Otunga this week. Was it necessary for her to talk down to Sasha and Bayley like that? As a fan, how am I supposed to cheer either of the babyfaces if they don’t have a snarky retort ready to counter Steph’s heelish lines.

– So Nia Jax pins Bayley essentially clean in the middle of the ring just two weeks before Bayley faces Charlotte for the women’s title. Makes sense.

– Has anyone else noticed that Karl Anderson’s pants say #BC on them? I find it a bit strange that no one backstage has said anything to him about this.

– Everything about Neville’s heel turn is great, including the variety of moves he’s displaying in the ring. This week he worked a mat wrestling/submission style that resulted in him using the Rings of Saturn to get the victory over Lince Dorado.

– I like the fire Rich Swann showed when he attacked Neville after the match.

– I thought Natalya and Nikki Bella had an excellent brawl on SmackDown. Nattie caught Nikki with a kick right to the face.

So Seth Rollins is supposedly getting new music after all. Once I heard this version by Downstrait, I got bummed out every time I heard Rollins’ actual music:

– Please WWE, no more Big Cass vs. Jinder Mahal matches.

– I like that Ziggler’s heel turn accelerated this week. The worst thing for his character would have been to come out this week and apologize for his actions. Instead, he beat the crap out of Kalisto after their match and then waffled Apollo Crews with a chair when AC came out to help his “friend” Kalisto.

– This was American Alpha’s best showing since their call-up to the main roster. Gable used his hot tag effectively and Jordan had a very nice amateur wrestling sequence with Bray to begin the match.

– I LOVED Cena’s backstage promo this week. It felt a bit like a Doctor of Thuganomics promo, just all grown up.

The Twitter Machine: @ScottDargis