***WWE WRESTLEMANIA 33 – 4/2/17***
The common threads between this matchup (my 2nd fav) and my favorite of the night–Seth Freakin’ Rollins vs HHH–is that both freature extremely long build-ups finally reaching the boiling point. Both matches also feature two great Superstars who traditionally put on top shelf performances, one legend vs. one new school. Their recent promos have been some of the best in years; the joinging forces and splitting, backroom beatdowns, the torching of the Wyatt’s compound, Sister Abigail’s ashes; it goes on and on. Fantastic stuff that hails back to more Attitude/Ruthless Aggression era type of show while also maintaining it mostly clean enough for all viewing ages. Prediction: Arguably the best “heel” on the roster, Bray’s effectiveness has been diminished over time– despite the best theatrics this side of Taker (who he should have taken the torch from years ago at another Mania). It’s an everything vs nothing scenario here. Orton is a legend and 12x World Champ. And, while he’s enjoying a career resurgence–with his recent love for the sport by working with/against the Wyatt’s–there is nothing for him to either gain or lose. Thus, they can finally give Wyatt the thunder; a man who put over guy after guy, and built one of the best stables of the era. When the dust settles, the power of Sister Abigail will prove too much for the Viper.
Now, the original proposed match for this particular Superstar was originally AJ Styles vs “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Yes–you heard that right–a match only dreams are made of. But sadly, good ol’ HBK refused to take the match (within good reason; who knows if he can even get out of bed some mornings), so they had to go with the alternative: Shane McMahon. Despite all the naysayers from internet smarks to wrestling reports and dirtpages, I, for one, am personally looking forward to this contest, since I foresee a lot of high flying moves and dangerous-as-hell spots from both men. Prediction: AJ, being the ring veteran that he is, will (as usual) carry the majority of the match–and likely win it. But, of course I’d be remiss to discount Shane who is bound to do some crazy suicide-jumping off of a ridiculous height type stunt. Regardless of what you think going in, you’ll likely be very entertained by something that certainly has potential to be match of the night.
Rollins isn’t fully healed from Samoa Joe’s attack a few months back, and has not been medically cleared to wrestle. But–hell!–signed his “Non-Sanctioned” contract on RAW anyway. The Architect waived all his rights away and will face The Game on Sunday, with anything goes. After the match was made official, HHH further injured Rollins with a cheapshot, when he pushed the desk into his surgically repaired knee. Let’s hope his knee holds up and we truly get Seth’s much deserved WrestleMania moment. Prediction: Interference will cost Rollins the match (Joe? Balor? Owens?) to Triple H (who hardly ever loses at a Mania, unless it’s to the Undertaker *heh*). Seth will unfortunately have to wait till next year for his “Mania moment”; yet, in the process be thrown into the position as the company’s biggest babyface going forward.
Let’s get this straight: yours truly, “Monsignor” Moody, the Triple H of this Ringside Apostle shit.. has been relegated to a Pre-Show match preview. OK. Lies. I wanted this match, especially since my Smackdown wifey (because Sasha is RAW bae), Alexa Bliss, has to sadly defend her purty blue strap from around that perfect waste against 100 other women. Becky. Mickie. Nattie. Mella. And, now, Naomi (the hometown favorite, if you will). Yeah–I wonder who’s gonna kick off “The Ultimate Thrill Ride” in this one with a title win! But.. the more important scenario is those unnannounced cameos (after all, Bryan Danielson declared this match Alexa vs. The Whole F’n SD Live Brand). And this is Mania. Asuka winning or losing to Ember the night before might be as telling; rumor has it that we may see Kelly Kelly or even Victoria; and, let’s not forget Tamina. Oh, wait. Nevermind, Let’s forget Tamina. Prediction: Naomi becomes two time.. two time.. two time.. two time.. Smackdown Women’s Champ. Sad Alexa sends me a “sext” or two.
Oi, I get how this gets dropped to the pre-show. But we all know this is going to be one of the contenders to steal the show. Declaring himself “King of the Cruiserweights”, Neville has backed up his mouth since his turn with victory after victory. Feeling there was no one left to usurp his crown, comes the returning Austin Aries. Forced to call 205 Live due to an injury, we could all tell he wanted to be in there with them, and now he will be at the grandest stage of them all. With not much build behind this compared to the rest of the card, they are going to have to make up for that with in an in ring performance we all know they can produce. A Double has always been one of my favorite in ring guys, and Neville has seemingly refound his NXT spark with this heel turn. This easily looks to be Cruiserweight Classic. Prediction: Never been one for long drawn out predictions, I see a new King being crowned in Orlando. A Double for the hard fought victory.
With only four named men in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (so far), it’s a shame that it has never gotten the respect or admiration of the legend it is named after. Winning this really doesn’t do anything for you. Case in point: Cesaro won the first year (the first unofficial ATGBR); Show won the second; and Corbin won last year, then spent the next year doing his best to beat up Kalisto and Ziggler. I yawned while typing that. This match has quickly become the dumping ground for any and all talents on hand that have to be in town for Mania. Prediction: Maybe this year is the year they turn things around and make this interesting; throw in some 205 guys, some of the UK talents, maybe an NXT worker or two. Then again, maybe they’ll just give the trophy to Mojo (that ain’t hype)! I’m sure that’ll strap a rocket to his career.
The lead up to this match has included some of The Miz‘s best work in years. The return of his wife has not only gotten him some much needed attention but has given him some serious confidence; she’s breathed new life into his character and they haven’t wasted a second of that momentum. They feed off of each other with a chemistry that’s undeniable. There’s never a moment between these two where you don’t eat up everything they’re serving. The Miz is one of the best talkers currently in WWE and Maryse has always been solid on the mic. Despite her accent, Maryse knows how to work the crowd and pick her moments. This is a couple that knows what makes for a great heel and execute it flawlessly.
Compare this, to the frequently awkward exchanges between John Cena and Nikki Bella where their interactions seem forced. WWE have given Cena a few times to shine during his promos and been wise to keep Nikki’s awful acting skills to a minimum; instead, keeping the focus on making her look hella strong in the ring. As for Cena and Miz, they’ve both come a long way since their long forgotten Wrestlemania 27 match. The history between these couples goes back many years and adds such a compelling story to their match that you can’t help but be excited to see it unfold. Prediction: Although I can’t be positive that Cena & Nikki will lose, surely this will be one of the night’s entertaining matches. Better, I get to see it live!
This is yet another example of an underdeveloped feud in WWE. Despite starting off hot–with Ambrose eliminating Corbin from a #1 Contenders battle royal–the rivalry has somewhat teetered off due to “injuries” that have kept Ambrose on the sidelines (i.e. an “End of Days” to the outside during match interference; Corbin going all “Attitude Era” by crushing Dean with a forklift). All that said, the Ambrose Asylum is in a better spot than last year’s snorefest with “Mr. No I Don’t Want to Do Any of That” Brock Lesnar. Corbin is also in a better position to prove his many naysayers wrong by turning in the performance of his career on the biggest stage of them all. Prediction: Though both have something to prove, it’s likely we will have a new WWE Intercontinental champion in the Lone Wolf.
One of these things is not like the others (*stares pointedly at Nia Jax*). We’ve discussed at length the greatness that is Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, so let’s talk about Bayley. Bayley had some pretty epic matches with Sasha down in NXT, my personal favorite being the Iron Man match, which was peak Boss. (Sasha throws Bayley into the Titantron, which briefly shorts out, and she starts taunting Izzy.) That Bayley gave great promos, was an excellent wrestler and was pretty darn fantastic. Flash forward to now. Bayley defeated Charlotte for the Cherry Cheesecake Championship and she’s needed Sasha to speak up for her and fight her battles ever since. She gets pummeled in the ring constantly (most recently by Jax, who absolutely should not be in this match) and is repeatedly mocked by Stephanie McMahon. In other words, she’s everything NXT Bayley wasn’t.
Nia Jax, as much as I want to like her because the women’s division needs a monster, is a lumbering, stumbling mess in the ring. Usually multi-person matches like this can protect a wrestler, but with workers the level of Sasha, Charlotte and Bayley (who, for all her regression, is still light-years ahead of Jax), she’s just gonna get exposed. Prediction: As much as I’d rather see the title on either Sasha or Charlotte—especially Charlotte as the idea of her breaking her father’s record before Cena amuses me greatly—Bayley’s probably going to retain, which will hopefully, finally give us the return of the REAL Boss.
What once started as a budding bro-mance between Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens seven months ago; that gave us such gems as The List of Jericho and “you better watch… it”, has erupted like so much glass on Jericho’s scalp. During the Festival of Friendship, KO committed a betrayal befit of Game of Thrones. The IWC was devastated! Gone is the goofy Jericho but in his place is a man determined to destroy Kevin Owens — so much so as to put the US Title on the line. Now, there’s a first. Sure to be a slobberknocker it has all the elements of a great matchup, the drama and chemistry between the two is electric. Sure to be full of dangerous spots. Prediction: My money is on KO becoming the US champ after jobbing out to “Oldberg” at that atrocious match-up from Fastlane.
Are you ready for “The Ultimate Thrill Ride”?!? Ugh. I’m gonna puke if I hear those words one more time… Anyway, it’s only fitting that the Battle For The Yard is previewed by the Bone Yard’s resident Ringside Apostle, your’s truly. The build up to this one hasn’t been all that exciting, but it’s been classic Undertaker. After Reigns eliminated him from the Rumble and told him that this was, now, his yard, Taker has sent cryptic messages on RAW to the ruler of the Roman Empire. (Am I the only one clamoring for one final “Buried Alive” match or Casket Match after that promo last night?)
Regardless, it almost looks like they’re about to turn Roman Reigns heel; which would be refreshing, since this face push is hard to swallow when 70% of the universe refuses to accept him. Or maybe, as quoted by HHH, it’s just another way to present a “heel”. Meh. Prediction: My money is on Roman bringing the storied career to an end. Taker is getting old and can’t go like he used to. It’s time for the Dead Man to rest… in… peace. It’s time to put over a young star and make his career. As much as I’d rather that star be someone like Braun Strowman, I’m content with it being Roman. I mean after all he is THE guy. And at WrestleMania, he’ll claim his yard. Believe that!!
GOLDBERG VERSUS LESNAR! The MAIN WrestleMania main event! For the Intergalactic Planetary Championship! The one fans have been WAITING FOR!!… Sorry.. *BITCHING ABOUT. Which is funny, because guess what? This match is brought to you by.. No, not Vince. You guys. The fans. Those that have been crying and whining about part-timers and old guys getting the spotlight… It’s all thanks to you 🙂 That’s right. For all your complaining, you still watch WWE, give them rating spikes whenever a “part timer” comes back, and you’ll still be watching on Sunday, showing them that they have zero reason to change what they’re doing! Prediction: As to who takes it, I wish I could say Goldberg, but it’s Lesnar‘s time. As phenomenal as Bill looks, he clearly can’t go in long matches (and in the current landscape, squash matches can only take you so far). Hell, I’d love to at least see a good, adequately long match, but if the Owens match was any indication, that sure as hell isn’t going to happen. I also don’t see them saying goodbye to Bill looking like a punk, so perhaps there’s a chance for fuckery. We’ll see.
Coming off their match last night against the Young Bucks at ROH Supercard of Honor (in a Ladder Match, if you will), can The Hardy Boys — “Broken” Matt and “Brother Nero” Jeff — make an impact tonight for the WWE RAW titles? Sure feels like it. Although the Hardy’s have had a plentiful weekend down in Lakeland and Orlando, we all knew the writing was on the wall when the dynamic brotherhood left TNA for the indies. Wrestling publications were pretty much making it official. And, then, Jeff this week said it would be a while before anything of the sort were to take place, due to the proper medical visits and testing the Double Dub does before signing anyone–especially to what is presumed a legends deal. Prediction: If the Hardy’s don’t show up and seize their “WrestleMania Moment”, here’s hoping the straps stay with the Good Brothers and make them to continue looking strong.
***NXT TAKEOVER: ORLANDO – 4/1/17***
When I first heard that CMLL’s La Sombra was headed to NXT, I was intrigued. He comes from a long line of Lucha wrestlers. His Grandfather as El Moro, and his father as Brillante (his uncles and cousins are involved in the squared ring as well; Mexico’s answers to the Hart Family, perhaps). When Andrade “Cien” Almas made his on-screen debut at TakeOver: The End, his debut was.. lacking. A fedora and a feather had replaced his full face luchador mask, which led to a not-so-impressive win over The Perfect Ten. Although Cien has turned a bit of a corner recently. He’s shed the dancing-happy-to-be-here gimmick, allowing for a bit of his bad attitude to show through. He’s aggressive and cocky which seems to suit him better.
But the Tommy End is near. Rechristened/rebranded as Aleister Black, End’s run roughshot all over the UK scene for the past decade. He’s made stops in CZW, ICW, Evolve & PWG as well-–kicking and suplexing his way to gold everywhere he went. Submissions, cutters, brainbusters with a kickboxing background. A barrage of strikes coming from this heavily tattooed long haired Anti-Hero. Oh, and Black had a surprise match at the WWE UK Tournament (billed as Tommy End, for the UK Crowd) against Neville. Prediction: That was only the beginning. A dark cloud is coming to Orlando. A dark magic-evil sinister character is something that gets over when done right. WWE needs more characters and personalities, like Black, that aren’t dancing gimmicks. That’s for damn sure.
Akam & Rezar took the titles from DIY at TakeOver: San Antonio and The Revival interfered in the mandatory rematch. So, on the March 15th episode of NXT GM William Regal made this contest a triple threat elimination match. Elimination! Tornado rules. The Revival have attacked The Authors of Pain numerous times in recent weeks and Paul Ellerings’ monsters are chomping at the bit to exact some revenge on Dash & Wilder and defend the straps in the process. Prediction: DIY and The Revival break even heat, thus further putting over the A.O.P. as the strong champions. With not many strong teams on the NXT horizon (that we know of yet, anyway; could the new SAnitY put thrown in this mix?), Ellering’s mammoths should have a dominant summer (and perhaps a longer standing rivalry with Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa), while we get to see The Revival get the call to Smackdown Live very soon. Hopefully, as soon as next week.
Asuka vs. Ember Moon is the match we’ve been waiting for ever since Bayley popped off to RAW to become a shell of her former self. More about that later. Two badass, undefeated ladies (that Triple Threat that Moon had with Liv Morgan and Peyton Royce doesn’t count) just beating the crap out of each other. What more could you possibly want? Prediction: As much as I want Ember Moon to win, Asuka’s gonna turn the Eclipse into the Asuka-lock and stay down in NXT for a few more months before heading to Smackdown Live right after Summerslam.
The story of this match is that by the end of the night we will eithe: have: 1.) NXT’s first 3 time Heavyweight Champion, or 2.) Our current champ will cement his status as “the God of NXT”. With this being the main event of NXT’s WrestleMania this match is sure to outdo their previous bout. Hopefully this time there are no “injuries” so we can see who really is the better man. Prediction: It was only a year ago that both of these men made a huge splash showing up for the first time in NXT on the same night at TakeOver: Dallas. With their rivalry having sorta stalled since their last match–with the push for Chris Hero’s second-go-around at Full Sail as Kassius Ohno (and Nakamura most likely debuting on RAW or Smackdown Live)–the winner has got to be the one most.. GLORIOUS.