WWE Battleground 2014 Preview



WWE Battleground

Tampa Bay Times Forum
Tampa, FL

The final PPV before Summer Slam is this Sunday; it’s time for Battleground! The Battleground PPV is loaded with strong matches from top to bottom, including 2 matches that could compete for match of the year honors. The event suffers from the Summer Slam PPV poster being released prematurely, revealing next month’s main event to be John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This likely means the main event of Battleground will be predictable, but it allows the rest of the card to shine. The card features the PPV return of Chris Jericho, the one-on-one confrontation between Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose, and a Battle Royal to crown the new Intercontinental Champion. I have high expectations for the show, so let’s dive into the card.

Kickoff:
Cameron vs. Naomi

The Funkadactyls implode. Not sure if anyone cares. I can’t see why anyone would actually watch the Kickoff show. Well, except for Renee Young. She is so good at her job and very versatile. It’s no wonder she got the call up to broadcast the Superstars show on the WWE Network.

Winner- Naomi

Jack Swagger vs. Rusev

Rusev is being built to be an unstoppable force. He’s not losing here.

Winner- Rusev

Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho

Having Chris Jericho back on WWE tv is so great! One of the best performers of all-time, Jericho is a great star to help build a future star. That’s the plan for this match. Jericho will give Bray Wyatt a big rub, which Wyatt needs after being sidetracked by John Cena the last couple months. Wyatt was nothing more than a support player in the WWE Championship Ladder match last month. He needs a win here to build momentum for Summer Slam. Jericho made his return a couple weeks ago, upstaging The Miz in his own return. But when the Wyatt Family graphic & sounder buzzed, the fans began to buzz as well. Wyatt has gotten the better of Jericho at every turn since targeting Jericho. I’m eager to see the story they tell in the ring, when the remainder of the Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) are out of the equation and it’s just Wyatt & Jericho, one-on-one.

Winner- Bray Wyatt

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

Since the day The Shield imploded, this match has been anticipated. They had a great finish to the Money in the Bank ladder match last month, when Rollins won the Money in the Bank contract. Ambrose’s obsession with getting his hands on Rollins has cost Ambrose several wins. But Ambrose crazed demeanor makes him a threat to Rollins, who has desperately kept a watchful eye on his former “brother” of The Shield. Ambrose has vowed to disrupt any attempts by Rollins to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. The animosity building in this feud is tremendous and this match is going to be very physical. My only concern for this match is a run-in by Kane or Triple H. There’s no need for outside interference in this match. Let’s hope it stays one-on-one, and we get a great match between 2 future WWE Champions.

Winner- Seth Rollins wins.



Divas Championship:
AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige

We finally have the divas feud we’ve waited for since the night after WrestleMania XXX. The two best divas in the division are set to square off but with a twist. Both divas have appeared very friendly since the sudden Title change. Paige appears to be laying it on thick, so expect her to turn on AJ Lee at the PPV. Paige needs an edge to her character and a post-match beatdown of the Champion could do it for her. While I don’t see a Title change any time soon, I think if these divas are given enough time they can put on a good match.

Winner- AJ Lee

WWE Tag Team Champions- 2 Out of 3 Falls Match:
The Usos (c) vs. Wyatt Family

I like the throwback feel of this match. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation, while common in the older days of pro wrestling, is practically extinct now. But the excitement for fans of knowing they will see a minimum of 2 decisions in a match makes it a great stipulation for this feud. The Wyatts were unsuccessful last month at Money in the Bank, but won a non-Title rematch on Raw to earn this Title shot. The best way for this match to unfold is for The Usos to win the 1st fall, via a Super Kick. Then the Wyatt Family sounder hits, the Usos are laid out and the Wyatts grab a pinfall to even things at 1. The final fall comes on an undecisive decision to allow for a final rematch at Summer Slam. No matter what, The Usos are not losing the Title to the Wyatts. The NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension will be the ones to take the WWE Tag Team Championship from The Usos, likely at Night of Champions in September.

Winner- The Usos

Intercontinental Championship- Battle Royal

There’s just something really cool about a Battle Royal. It’s 20 or more guys trying to throw each other out of the ring to be the last man standing. It’s a fun & exciting match to see live. It’s unfortunate we are having this match, as the former Champion- Bad News Barrett- was really starting to hit his stride with the bad news gimmick. But injuries come with the business. Hopefully, those injuries are minimal in this Battle Royal. It’s always dangerous to have so many superstars in the ring at once. This match is a great opportunity for a new star, and that man is Cesaro. Since Paul Heyman will be busy managing Brock Lesnar shortly, Cesaro will be going solo. The IC Title would be a good way to help him stay over with the fans. Not to mention, he did win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX.

Winner- Cesaro

WWE World Heavyweight Championship- Fatal 4-Way:
John Cena (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Roman Reigns

Cena’s not losing; he still has to face Lesnar at Summer Slam.

Winner- John Cena

I though the way the World Heavyweight Championship belt was retired on Raw Monday night was fitting and well done. Having the 15X Champion, Cena, hand the Title to the 16X Champion, Ric Flair, was great respect to the history of the Championship. And having Flair back on tv was great as well. Hopefully, he can be paired with a young star on the rise and help them reach the next level. While I have a chance, I’d like to say how pathetic it is for WWE to call John Cena the Greatest WWE Champion of all-time. Cena isn’t even in the top 5, much less #1 on that list. (In case you’re wondering… 1- Ric Flair, 2- The Undertaker, 3- Steve Austin, 4- Bret Hart, 5- Mick Foley). Cena’s greatest accomplishments have come thanks to the efforts of his opponents making Cena look much better than he is. (i.e. Big Show at WrestleMania XX, Triple H at WrestleMania 22, The Rock… etc). It’s an insult to the men who have competed in the ring to call John Cena the greatest Champion ever. Complete and utter bull.

We’ll see you next month for the August tradition, Summer Slam!

Questions, comments, or concerns? Let me know on Twitter.

Copyright 2014- All rights reserved
Photo credit- Wikipedia & WWE.com

WWE Money in the Bank 2014 Preview



WWE Money in the Bank 2014

TD Garden
Boston, MA

The match synonymous with making new stars returns in its titular event! For nearly 10 years, the Money in the Bank Ladder match has made stars and helped establish the next generation of superstars in WWE. This year, the match is taking a bit of a backseat to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, 2 ladder matches are on the card for an event known for match of the year candidates. It is easily the most difficult event to predict simply because of the large number of superstars involved in the ladder matches. But we will give it a shot!

Divas Championship:
Paige (c) vs. Naomi

Naomi appeared to be on the fast track to a title shot earlier this year until she was injured in the ring by Aksana. Since then Naomi’s career has stayed in neutral, with Alicia Fox inexplicably receiving a title shot before Naomi. The Funkadactyls appear to be near the end of their run with a split imminent. Which is why we believe Paige will retain here. Expect Cameron to cost Naomi the title and then Naomi puts her on the mat.

Pick- Paige retains.

Tag Team Championship:
The Usos (c) vs. Wyatt Family

Usos have run through what’s left of the tag team division. With only 2 legitimate teams left (RybAxel & the Wyatts) it seems inevitable the Wyatts would be in line for a title shot. The Wyatts really don’t need a win here because of their association with Bray Wyatt. The Usos don’t have a statement win during this title reign, and most of their tag opponents have since disbanded as teams or were not a legitimate threat to begin with. Look for Luke Harper to shine in this match as The Usos hit a Double Superfly Splash to win.
 Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match:
Bad News Barrett (???) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Seth Rollins

Great to see the Contract on-the-line in the Money in the Bank match. I like the assortment of talent involved, with Money in the Bank veterans such as RVD, Dolph Ziggler, & Kofi Kingston leading the charge. The emphasis will be on the former Shield mates Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins brawling and how it will affect their chances in winning. I am not a fan of The Shield ending, but I like that it has a purpose. Rollins has noticeably improved both on the microphone & in-ring since the split. Ambrose’s promo work has never been questioned since his debut, but even his promo work has improved. His loose cannon character invokes comparisons to the late Brian Pillman.

But what matters in this match is climbing the ladder and pulling down the briefcase containing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship contract. Another question is the status of Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett. Reports are Barrett may have suffered an injury to his shoulder at the final Smackdown taping before MITB on Tuesday. At press time his status was unclear. I hope he’s healthy enough to compete as I would like to see him in the running for the contract. His Bad News gimmick has surprisingly gotten over with the fans and put Barrett into the upper mid-card in WWE. It would be a shame if an injury derailed his momentum again.

It’s really tough to pick a winner in these Money in the Bank ladder matches, but I believe it’s going to come down to Rollins & Ambrose on the ladder fighting for the briefcase and costing themselves the contract. The winner? Well…

Pick- Dolph Ziggler wins

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match:
Alberto Del Rio vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Cesaro vs. John Cena vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus

While I’m not a fan of dragging out the Daniel Bryan injury situation (which will continue at MITB on the Kickoff show), it’s nice to see the WWE Title decided definitively at MITB. This one, unfortunately, is the easiest match of the night to pick. John Cena doesn’t lose. Not in big match situations. And with Brock Lesnar on the horizon at Summer Slam, WWE needs its poster boy.

Pick- John Cena wins (15x… Woo)

While I have a moment, am I the only one sick & tired of every wrestling show starting with an in-ring promo? Especially with heel authority figures that think they’re cool. The goal is to get the superstars over, not yourselves (I’m looking at you Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, & Dixie Carter). I have no problem with the occasional promo to start the show, but a lot of the same things it takes The Authority 15-20 minutes to say could be accomplished in the first 5 minutes. For example: Michael Cole says “The Authority has decided to punish Roman Reigns by making him run The Gauntlet, LIVE, tonight on Monday Night Raw! (Insert WWE Network plug)” Instead of Triple H plodding through a promo where he makes fun of Daniel Bryan, the fans, and Roman Regins.

My point is there’s a difference between getting the fans behind a star and trying to keep your star shining. If you’re not an active competitor, I did not buy my ticket to see you. You are a bonus attraction. So shut up, be glad there’s an audience to listen to your bad jokes, and let the superstars have more time in the ring to tell stories instead of putting together spotfest matches that no one wants to see. Agree? Disagree? Let me know. I sat through Raw in Cleveland last week and sitting through a promo from The Authority is torture. I’ve sat through TNA Impact Wrestling and their promos are useless. Come to think of it, many recent promos from WWE & TNA have been pointless.

Enjoy the show either on PPV or the WWE Network. And we’ll be back next month.

Copyright 2014- All rights reserved
Photo credit- Wikipedia & WWE.com

WWE Payback 2014 Preview



Payback

Allstate Arena
Chicago, IL

Is it ever a good idea to hold the same event in the same venue in consecutive years? Well it worked for Summer Slam, so let’s give it a shot with Payback. The concept of revenge in wrestling is nothing new. The problem is half of this card has no long-term “payback” build. Most of the matches in the mid-card were thrown together in the last couple weeks. It’s up to the double Main Event to carry the load and provide a proper payback to both the fans & stories being told inside the 20 X 20 ring.

Kickoff Match- Mask vs. Hair Match:
El Torito vs. Hornswoggle

How this made it past last month’s Extreme Rules event is beyond comprehension. Perhaps more baffling is the fact their match last month was one of the top matches on the show. Seriously, go back and watch that “weeLC match” from last month. It was genuinely entertaining. This match likely won’t live up to their encounter last month. Hopefully, Hornswoggle losing his hair will end this ridiculous feud between a fake bull & a fake air band.

Our Pick- El Torito wins.

Rusev vs. Big E

Not enough time invested in Rusev to care. Big E has remained flat since losing the Intercontinental Championship to Bad News Barrett last month. This match is a better bathroom break than the divas match.

My Pick- Rusev wins.
Victor’s Pick- Big E wins.


Divas Championship:
Paige (c) vs. Alicia Fox

It amazes me how horrible the WWE creative crew is. They get handed the perfect successor to AJ Lee as Divas Champion, the “Anti-Diva” Paige, and they screw it up worse than a divas promo. In NXT, Paige was killing it. She was massively over and had some of the best divas matches in any wrestling organization this year. Now, she’s relegated to losing to Alicia Fox in her home country of England, in front of friends & family. Is there some sort of rule that says a talent can’t win and must be embarrassed in their home city or equivalent? Fox is gaining momentum with her postmatch meltdowns. Which are entertaining for a couple minutes, but get dragged out for 5-10 minutes. Another question, is it really a good idea to “rib” the people whose job it is to establish talent as stars? If given time, I expect Paige to show how good she is. But this match is going to get chopped short for time, because Hunter’s on the card.

Our Pick- Paige retains.

United States Championship:
Sheamus (c) vs. Cesaro

The whole point of this match is to put over Cesaro without getting the win, so that he looks strong heading into Money in the Bank at the end of June. Sheamus has to win to keep him strong, but Cesaro is the focus. The question becomes, is Cesaro going to win MITB?

Our Pick- Sheamus retains.

Intercontinental Championship:
Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Rob Van Dam

It’s nice to see RVD putting over young stars as his own career winds down. This will be a good rub for BNB as he defends against RVD. Look for RVD to take a wicked Bull Hammer elbow, likely while going for a Five Star Frog Splash. And then hit rewind and watch it again.

Our Pick- Bad News Barrett retains.

Last Man Standing:
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

Let me just put these words to print (metaphorically)—John Cena is WWE’s Superman. Quite simply, Cena is unstoppable. Case in point, Cena had last month’s Cage match won about 5,000,000 in every conceivable way. (though I was legitimately expecting the cage gimmick where part of the wall simply gives way allowing Cena to tumble out to win.) It took a child singing a song through a voice distorter to stop Cena. More weapons are at Cena & Wyatt’s disposal this time around, but there’s obvious signs of impending shenanigans during this match. The obvious being the Wyatt Family. Their interference is not only legal in this match, it’s part of the expected game plan. However, the WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos have been in Cena’s corner for much of this month. With the Tag Titles not being defended (as of press time), it points to The Usos interfering in this match. This will likely be done to even the odds for Cena. But another interesting twist to this match is the continued babyface-like push Bray Wyatt has received. The fans are clearly behind him and it would be interesting to see what might happen if he defeated WWE’s Superman. But Cena usually doesn’t lose at 2 PPV…er… WWE Network events in a row. I have never counted out Cena in Last Man Standing matches, even with a record of 2-2-1 in televised contests. It’s hard to see Cena taking the fall here without above average chaos from the Wyatt Family.

My Pick- John Cena wins.
Victor’s Pick- Bray Wyatt wins.

No Holds Barred Elimination Match:
The Shield vs. Evolution

Great match last month, even better this month. There’s no reason whatsoever for Evolution to win with one-third of Evolution soon to depart. There’s no money to be made there. This is going to be a hellacious war, but The Shield is leaving Chicago with the victory. I see a 3-on-1 against Roman Reigns as the likely setup to the finish, with Reigns spearing Batista, Superman Punching Orton, & then clobbering Triple H with his own sledgehammer in a “live by the sword, die by the sword” moment. But I also believe Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins are going to steal the show. Rollins insane dive from the stands last month may look tame once these 6 men finish brawling. No doubt this is the match of the night.

Our Pick- The Shield wins.

Just to get this out of the way, CM Punk is not returning this Sunday in Chicago. He is retired and isn’t coming back until long after his current WWE contract has expired. Yes, it sucks. But that’s just the way it is. Maybe now all the dirt sheets can leave the man alone and stop bombarding us with constant Punk news and tweets. The other big angle for Payback is Daniel Bryan surrendering the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to Stephanie McMahon or letting his wife Brie Bella be fired. If they were going to take the Title from Bryan, it would already have been done. I suspect this will play into the General Manager firing from Raw. Perhaps a new GM is hired who overrules Stephanie McMahon and allows Bryan to keep the Title. Who that would be is anybody’s guess, brother.

If you have the WWE Network, go watch NXT Takeover. A great show from top to bottom. 3 solid main events that delivered. Sami Zayn is a match of the year candidate every time he steps in the ring. Tyler Breeze has really impressed me since I started watching in February. Zayn/Breeze. Go watch it now. Trust me.

Copyright 2014- All rights reserved
Photo credit- Wikipedia & WWE.com

Extreme Rules 2014... Well I Tried/ It Morphed Into The Streak



Ok. I really wanted to avoid this. I really, really did. But as I was preparing our predictions for Extreme Rules, I couldn’t shake the bad taste in my mouth. Nearly one month ago, we watched WrestleMania XXX. The event should be known as the night Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H, Randy Orton, & Batista to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Instead, it has become known for one of the biggest mistakes in modern pro wrestling or sports entertainment history. For reasons not fully clear, The Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak ended at the hands of Brock Lesnar. 21-1. Why? While we can dissect this decision endlessly, I’d like to boil it down to 4 reasons why Fans have responded with venom towards this decision.

1. The match sucked. Plain & simple this was one of the worst matches of the night. It was boring, lacked excitement, and never actually built Lesnar as a legitimate threat. Even the false finishes were half-assed. I’m not pointing the finger of blame at Taker. No, that blame needs to be passed to Lesnar. Brock Lesnar has competed in 2 matches this year. It’s easy to see he would have ring rust. Wrestling is a craft that takes years of practice and refinement to perfect. Having only had one match before WrestleMania, a match at Royal Rumble—where Lesnar spent more time delivering chair shots than actually putting on a compelling match—it’s clear Lesnar was not prepared to put on a great match.

2. Brock Lesnar is a part-timer. Brock disappeared from WWE one day after the Raw after WrestleMania. He stayed just long enough to collect a paycheck & phone in a WrestleMania Main Event, and then he left. Any of the full-time superstars who keep the company running day-to-day, who bust their asses at live events across the world, and who make their living doing what they love, any of them would have received a huge push just being in the ring with Undertaker. To win that match, to end The Streak, would mean immortality. It immediately puts that superstar into the WWE World Title picture, if not making them the #1 contender. Instead, The Streak is over and all we have to show for it is Paul Heyman blithering like an idiot.

3. It’s Brock Lesnar. One thing I’ve gleaned from talking to wrestling fans is this. Anyone was more deserving of ending The Streak than Brock Lesnar. I would rather have seen John Cena end The Streak than Lesnar. At least that would have benefited the company and its top star. But Lesnar? Really? This is the same man WWE pushed as “The Next Big Thing.” They pushed him to the moon in 2002, made him Undisputed WWE Champion, had him defeat almost every top talent in the company in rapid succession, and built the brand extension around him. How did he respond? He left WWE at WrestleMania XX after a boring, half assed match with Goldberg. A match only remembered for its Special Referee, Stone Cold Steve Austin, who left both “stars” lying with Stunners after the match. After leaving WWE, Lesnar went on to UFC, winning their Heavyweight Championship. But Lesnar abruptly abandoned UFC after an extremely one-sided loss. In Lesnar’s return match to WWE, at Extreme Rules, Lesnar legitimately injured WWE’s top star John Cena, causing him to bleed just minutes into the match. Putting a reckless man in the ring is one thing. Putting a recklessly dangerous man back into the ring with another top star and giving him the ultimate honor is borderline stupid.

4. It doesn’t make any financial sense. There is no money to be made in Brock Lesnar ending The Streak. WWE made big money off Streak merchandise. Blu-rays, t-shirts, commemorative plaques, posters, etc. All that goes out the window. There’s no money in 21-1 shirts. I can’t imagine anyone wants a plaque to commemorate the end of The Streak. I have no reason to buy the WrestleMania XXX blu-ray thanks to WWE Network, and there’s debate with Victor over whether or not to renew that when the 6 months are up. Not to mention, Brock Lesnar does not equal PPV buyrates, TV ratings, or any measurable indicator of success. Since Lesnar’s return, WWE TV & PPV rates have remained flat or dropped when he appears. I have no interest in seeing Lesnar in the ring. But the next step for him is to win the WWE World Title from Daniel Bryan, which will undo all the effort the company has put into Daniel Bryan. Since Lesnar doesn’t work Live Events, that’s a significant amount of time to sell Live Events without any chance of seeing the WWE World Heavyweight Champion compete.

That’s not to mention the significant effect it has on the WrestleMania brand. Mania was sold for the last decade on The Streak, and the list of competitors during that time is a who’s who of the business. That big match feel is gone. It doesn’t matter if Undertaker does come back to compete at WrestleMania 31 (and he will). The match becomes insignificant. It’s just another match at Mania if he does return. Which is a terrible shame for a man who stayed loyal to WWE throughout his career and at times carried the company on his back.

If you stayed with me through this little rant, I appreciate it. I’m a little winded, so we’re going to handle the Extreme Rules Preview a little differently this month. Normally, I would look back to last month’s results, but I honestly don’t care to ever relive WrestleMania XXX again. So I’m just going to jump right in for the preview.

Pre-Show
WeeLC Match:
El Torito vs. Hornswoggle

My Pick- El Torito
Victor’s Pick- The Fans (Sounds like someone is channeling JBL there…)

2-on-1 Handicap Match:
R-Truth & Xaiver Woods vs. Alexander Rusev

Our Pick- Alexander Rusev wins. (Use this match to go grab a quick drink or use the restroom)

Triple Threat:
Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro

My Pick- Rob Van Dam wins.
Victor’s Pick- Jack Swagger wins.

Divas Championship:
Paige (c) vs. Tamina Snuka

Our Pick- Paige retains.

Intercontinental Championship:
Big E (c) vs. Bad News Barrett

Our Pick- Bad News Barrett wins. (I’m afraid I’ve got some BAD NEWS!)

Steel Cage Match:
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

I’m just going to say this about this match. If you believe the Wyatt Family won’t somehow find a way into the Cage then you are the most gullible person on the planet.

My Pick- John Cena wins.
Victor’s Pick- Bray Wyatt wins.

6-Man Tag:
The Shield vs. Evolution

Our Pick- The Shield wins. (Because there’s absolutely no money in Evolution winning here.)

WWE World Heavyweight Championship- Extreme Rules:
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kane

Our Pick- Daniel Bryan wins. (Duh.)

Sorry for the brevity of the picks, but this WWE Network special is lackluster. I’m more interested in NXT Takeover than this show. I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but I said that about WrestleMania XXX and we all know how that turned out. I’ll be back in June, when hopefully it will be warmer.

Copyright 2014- All rights reserved