Usually we’d have to wait until late September or early October for SNL to reappear and start skewering the news. Luckily for us, SNL aired the first ever Weekend Update Summer Edition last night, and it was a welcome site. Colin Jost opened up the show with the most accurate line of all time – “it’s been a crazy year these last few weeks”. With Trump as President, everything feels like it’s going in super sonic motion, and just when your head is wrapped around one crazy news story, two more pop up to sock you in the jaw. Now, onto my two favorite parts.
It’s a goddamn shame that SNL missed out on Anthony Scaramucci. The Mooch and his personality and penchant for telling reporters that Steve Bannon sucks his own cock would have been a gold mine for SNL, but alas, those that fly closest to the sun aren’t mean to be around for long. Luckily we still got Bill Hader as Scaramucci, and he was fantastic because ‘Bill Hader as _____’ is always a going to be fantastic. I don’t know if they’ll bring Hader back for this season (especially if The Mooch doesn’t make his way back into the spotlight) but I’m glad we at least got this. Also, has there ever been a more on the nose description of someone than The Mooch being human cocaine? I don’t think so.
Kenan Thompson is heading into his 15th (!) season as an SNL cast member, and much like a fine wine, he gets better with age. He impersonated Lavar Ball last night, who I usually would hate to see pop up in the news, but if Kenan is doing the impersonation I’ll let it slide. Kenan’s vocal impersonations are never that great, but he makes it up for it in other ways, like the way he pronounced rhinoceros or the dance move he did to take the sneakers away from Colin. Lavar isn’t going away anytime soon (Lonzo hasn’t even started his rookie year yet) and I’m assuming his asinine comments will keep coming. This won’t be the last we’ve seen of Kenan’s newest impression.
Summerslam is only 10 days away, and things are heating up as we inch closer towards WWE’s Biggest Party of the Summer. While the match card hasn’t been finalized yet, there are 10 bouts already on the show, so let’s take a look at the confirmed matches and speculate on what else could be added.
Make sure to check back on the site next Friday for our official preview & predictions post for both Summerslam and TakeOver Brooklyn III.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
I’m not as well versed on Smackdown feuds as I am with Raw, but WWE aren’t exactly the Coen Brothers when it comes to telling stories so I’m pretty sure I can figure things out. 2017 has been a frustrating year for Rusev. He missed WrestleMania due to a shoulder injury, got separated from Lana and when he finally debuted on Smackdown, he got thrown into a USA themed feud with John Cena that he obviously lost.
You’d think that’d be enough awfulness for one year, but now he’s slotted against Randy Orton, the man with less momentum than a nailed down piece of wood. Orton started the year off strong with a Royal Rumble win and a World title win at WrestleMania, but everything post Mania has been awful. He was in the House of Horrors match & has lost to Jinder Mahal three pay per views in a row. Even though he inexplicably got a clean non title win over Mahal on Tuesday, he’s still tanking.
In a perfect world, this would be a spot to give Rusev a win at a major pay per view over someone with name value, but we do not live in a perfect world. RKO out of somewhere will win it for Orton.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
If you’ve been following the story of Bray Wyatt, you know all his storylines have three acts. Act 1. Start a feud by teleporting in and costing someone a match. Act 2. build up that feud with teleportation/spooky dark room promos. Act 3. Lose the match at a pay per view. We’re all the way though act 1 and almost through act 2, so the only thing left for Wyatt to do is lose to Balor at Summerslam. I really hope I’m wrong, but Balor hasn’t done much since returning from injury, and he wasn’t even on the GBOF card. Wyatt beat Rollins at that show, which was nice, but his track record causes me to believe he’s going to lose to Balor at the more important PPV.
This one could go either way, but I’m leaning towards Balor.
Big Cass vs. Big Show (Enzo Amore will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring)
Dear lord please let this be the blow off match. The Enzo & Cass feud has been going in circles for what feels like forever, and adding Big Show into the mix hasn’t exactly been refreshing. I’ve read a few articles that think this has been a long con between Enzo & Cass and they’ll turn on the Big Show, but that’d be a hell of a lot of work for a mediocre result. I wouldn’t mind Enzo/Cass teaming back up as heels to add some depth to the tag division, but there’s no way WWE is doing that. Enzo in a shark cage means there’s a 1,000% chance he’s dropping something into the ring that’s meant for Big Show, but will end up Big Cass’s hands when the referee is knocked out or sleeping or trying to hang himself from boredom.
Big Cass by default.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
With Cena presumably fading into the Hollywood sunset this fall, this should be a spotlight win for Baron Corbin. I know this argument comes up every time Cena fights a younger guy in a big match, but John literally gains nothing with a win here, while Corbin could gain so much. He already has the MITB briefcase, and assuming Nakamura wins the title (which I’ll get to later) giving Corbin a win over Cena would make him that much more dangerous as he chases Nak.
It doesn’t even need to be a clean win. Have him kick Cena in the dick, set him on fire, whatever. WWE baby faces will never be as popular as they want them to be unless they have a legitimate heel to oppose them. If Corbin beats Cena at Summerslam, he’ll be on his way to being a true threat to whoever is holding the title.
Baron Corbin, NO RAGRETS
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa
In my Raw review’s I’ve said that I’d be interested in pretty much anyone else challenging Neville for the Cruiserweight title. I don’t understand the appeal of having guys like Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik & Mustafa Ali waste away on 205 Live & Main Event while Tozawa is given a title shot. At the least this should be a multi man match, but since it’s one on one, all I want is for Neville to rip Tozawa’s arm off and beat Titus O’Neil with it.
Neville should win convincingly.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: New Day (C) vs. The Uso’s
New Day & The Uso’s have been having a very under the radar feud on Smackdown, and this is one of the matches I’m most excited for. As solid as Xavier Woods was at Battleground, the best wrestling version of New Day is always Big E & Kofi, so I’m glad to see they’ll be defending the straps. The Uso’s picked up a decisive win on Tuesday over Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger, and New Day also showed some much needed aggression in their post match attack. You get the sense that these two teams really dislike each other, which is an element that’s missing from a lot of modern day feuds. If they’re given as much time as they were at Battleground, this could turn into a classic.
This is a toss up for me, but if I HAD to choose, I’m going Uso’s.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Naomi (C) vs. Natalya
It’s refreshing to see the Women’s title defended in a one on one match at a major pay per view. I understand the mindset of wanting to get as much people on the card as possible, but the title feels more important when there’s a standout challenger. It’s also nice to see Natalya given a title match at a major pay per view, and as the senior member of the Women’s division I think she and Naomi are going to put on a hell of a match. Summerslam is slated for 4 hours (plus a 2 hour pre show) so there’s no reason to not give each match the time it needs to tell a story. Similar to Mahal/Nakamura, the result of this match may not matter as Carmella should be lurking in the background with her MITB briefcase.
Naomi retains after a hard fought match, and Carmella capitalizes and cashes in.
WWE United States Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens (Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
Whenever you put AJ Styles and Kevin Owens together they have a chance to do something special, so my only request for this match is to let them do what they do best, which is wrestle and tell a story. I know that’s a lot to ask when Shane McMahon is the special guest referee, but this is a different Shane O Mac than the one we saw ref matches in the late 90s & early 2000s.
The general consensus is that this will lead to KO vs. Shane somewhere down the line (since we’ve already seen Shane vs. AJ) but again, all I want is for these two to wrestle their asses off. Leave the shenanigans for another day. This match doesn’t need AJ getting his foot stuck in the announce table or a confusing ending based on shoulder placement. You have two of the best wrestlers in the world in a title match at your second biggest pay per view. Let them work their magic.
I’m very into workhorse mid card champion AJ Styles, so I’m going with AJ.
WWE Championship Match: Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is the match I’m most nervous about. While it’s great to see a fresh face as champion, Jinder Mahal’s title reign hasn’t been great. While a lot of that has to do with him only fighting Randy Orton, you also have to remember who Jinder Mahal was before this run. He was the third best member in 3MB during his former run and his most noteworthy moment during his last run on Raw was hitting Finn Balor too hard in the head. Just because he’s champion doesn’t mean he’s magically going to turn into AJ Styles in the ring.
Nakamura has also had some growing pains since debuting on the main roster. He’s had subpar matches with Ziggler, KO & Corbin, all of whom are capable of much more, especially against Nak. If Nakamura can’t have good to great matches with those three, is he capable of doing it with Jinder Mahal? Are we in for another bad match with Singh Brother interference? I always skew positive when it comes to pro wrestling, but this match doesn’t have a lot going for it.
Nakamura should win this match. Even if you have the Singh Brothers interfere, Nakamura is clearly the star of this match, and he should be able to overcome the odds and Kinshasa Jinder to win the belt. While Corbin could always cash in his MITB briefcase post match, don’t forget about John Cena. I can picture a scenario where Corbin beats Cena, and then Cena stops a possible cash in on new champion Nakamura, someone who Cena has already shown has earned his respect.
Fatal 4 Way Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe
The biggest compliment I can give this match is that no result would surprise me. If Lesnar wins and retains the title somehow, it would make sense because he’s Brock Lesnar. If Samoa Joe or Strowman win, you’re giving them their first major title win at your second biggest pay per view. If Rollins & Ambrose win the tag titles earlier in the night and help Reigns win the Universal title in the main event I’ll probably lose consciousness.
The biggest stipulation is the announcement that if Lesnar loses, he’ll leave WWE. It’s no secret that he wants back in the UFC, and it’s tough to train for that and appear for WWE at the same time. As awesome as Brock is, he’s always better in small doses, and he doesn’t need the title. He can show up and murder everyone every 6 months or so until he’s 60. If his heart is set on returning to the UFC, let him do it and then welcome him back with open arms if he wants to return.
My heart is set on Samoa Joe winning here, so that’s who I’m going with. Lesnar leaves temporarily, Strowman & Reigns become de facto number one contenders and Joe gets a title he almost over deserves.
There are already 10 confirmed matches, but that will immediately change to 12 after Monday’s Raw. Alexa Bliss will defend her Women’s title against the winner of Sasha Banks/Nia Jax & I’d expect Rollins & Ambrose vs. Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw tag belts to be announced as well. Goldust teased ‘an unveiling’ last Monday, so he should be on the card in some capacity. Miz vs. Jason Jordan? Hardy’s vs. The Club? Fashion Files? The sky is the limit for a 6 hour wrestling show, so make sure to check back next week for our official preview post.
Apparently when Braun Strowman isn’t busy threatening to break people’s bones, rolling them off loading docks or flipping ambulances, he’s reading movie speeches for The Ringer. This is such an odd combination that I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but I’d have to be a cold hearted son of a bitch to not enjoy Braun Strowman reciting a speech from Juno (sneaky good movie). As fun as this was to watch, it’s still only the second best thing Braun did this week:
I’m a 49ers fan so I can’t really talk too much trash, but good lord is this sad. Imagine being a fan of a team that is tweeting out hype videos for Brock Osweiler? That’s got to be rock bottom. Again, the 49ers aren’t great either, but at least they have a new coach, GM, QB and semi revamped defense. Cleveland has Brock Osweiler. My favorite part is that most of the footage in that video was definitely from training camp. He can complete training camp passes! Give Cleveland the Lombardi trophy now.
Last Monday we wrote about the teaser trailer for Mother!, the newest film from Darren Aronofsky starring Jennifer Lawrence & Javier Bardem. 8 days later we’re gifted with a full trailer and shit. is. going. down. I’m a huge fan of Aronofsky’s work, especially The Wrestler & Black Swan, and Mother! certainly teeters towards the Black Swan end of the scale. Is Jennifer Lawrence losing her mind or is her husband and these strangers he’s inviting into their home tormenting her? I don’t have the slightest clue, but I’ll watching this through my fingers to find out. Mother! premieres September 15th.
P.S. This film isn’t rated yet, but if they want an accurate rating they should rate it SYP (shit your pants).
Happy Tuesday everybody. Last night’s Raw was live from Toronto, and was the second to last episode before Summerslam on August 20th. Brock Lesnar showed up, but The Revival are hurt again, The Hardy’s & Elias Samson were MIA and Goldust is still stuck in a dark room somewhere. If you want to read last week’s review, you can find it here.
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And now, the review of the August 7, 2017 WWE RAW.
Paul Heyman Likes To Role Play
Now that The Miz has seemingly moved away from Dean Ambrose, I can fully appreciate him again. He’s the best guy Raw has on the microphone, and his small posse of cronies has given him even more confidence than normal, which is a delight. Miz opened last night’s show demanding Jason Jordan get in the ring and face the consequences for suplexing Miz into Dallas & Axel last week. Instead of JJ, Kurt Angle came out to announce Curtis Axel vs. JJ for the later in the night, and also announced that Miz had two very special guests: Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar.
Miz, Axel & Dallas sold the arrival of Lesnar perfectly, who always brings with him the sense of impending doom. Miz did his ‘when my hand goes up your mouth goes shut’ bit before Heyman could introduce his Beast, which was timed perfectly & also unexpected. Remember that mega confidence I was talking about earlier? Miz had it here, as he foolishly ran down Heyman & Lesnar, proclaiming Brock will lose at Summerslam & leave the WWE. Heyman’s response was to tell everyone watching that he loves to role play, and thankfully he meant in the wrestling ring & not the bedroom. Lesnar proceeded to murder Miz and his -tourage, and I’m always going to enjoy a segment where Brock throws guys around rather than standing/bouncing in place, so this opening segment worked for me.
Groundhog Day Part 1
Seth Rollins took on Sheamus last week because Cesaro & Sheamus rightfully pointed out that Rollins had zero friends. When you break up The Shield, it’s going to take a long time before people want to be your friend again, Seth. Rollins won via rollup but got annihilated post match by The Bar, and since Raw is just one big, continuous loop, we got Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus again last night. Sheamus won this match via a rollup, Rollins tried to take them both out post match but ended up getting annihilated again instead. Rollins confronted Ambrose backstage because Dean didn’t make the save, and please remember that confrontation later on when Ambrose takes on Cesaro.
“Let’s Go Jobber”
Jason Jordan was supposed to take on Curtis Axel, but Brock Lesnar beat him up so badly in the opening segment that he wasn’t cleared to wrestle. That’s probably the most realistic thing that’s happened on Raw in months. Since Axel couldn’t compete, we were able to get a peek inside of Kurt Angle’s mind and see how he books matches, which we now know is him frantically looking around until he sees someone in wrestling gear. Axel’s replacement is Jean-Pierre Goulet, and if you didn’t watch the match last night or don’t’ feel like watching the video above, just picture a grizzly bear fighting your elderly neighbor. Jordan beats him quickly, and if you want to know how much the Toronto crowd was into JJ, they chanted ‘let’s go jobber’ during the match. Jordan is still a can’t miss athlete, but they need to switch up his theme and give him one of Kurt Angle’s finishers ASAP. If he’s supposed to be Angle’s son, at least give him something of Angle’s that the crowd would recognize. As far as his theme goes, he could come out to a recording of people screaming in pain and it would be an improvement.
The Tragedy of Bayley
Bayley faced Nia Jax last week and took a nasty bump on her shoulder that looked more like an injury than a wrestler selling something for a match, and it turns out it was a legit injury. She’s out of the Women’s title match at Summerslam, and there were two triple threat matches to determine who would fight in a one on one number one contender match next week. Before the first triple threat, Bayley came out to thank the WWE Universe for their well wishes, and it turned out that none of those well wishes came from Toronto. The crowd booed her pretty consistently, and people online who got upset at that need to remember that the crowd is booing the character, not the person. Booing Bayley’s character is probably the nicest thing you can do at this point, because she’s been a pile of garbage for pretty much the entire year. You never want to see anyone get hurt, but Bayley needs some time to make a lot of adjustments if she’s going to be successful on Raw.
The first triple threat featuring Sasha, Emma & Alicia Fox is the better of the two, but neither match was that impressive. I know Alicia Fox is more lanky than your average human, but it baffles me that she can’t keep her shoulders on the mat when someone is trying to pin her. The referees are taught to treat each match like a shoot fight, so they’re only counting pins if both shoulders are down. Alicia flails around so much that she almost never has two shoulders on the mat, and it causes the ref to awkwardly pause before he starts counting. The finishing sequence was pretty slick, as Sasha had Alicia in the Banks Statement, but Emma ran in to roll up Sasha. After a two count, Sasha countered the pin fall into another Banks Statement on Emma to pick up the win.
Groundhog Day Parts 2 & 3
I’m going to link these two segments together because they’re the same thing we saw last week in the case of Wyatt & Balor, and in the case of Big Show, Cass & Enzo, it’s the same thing we’ve seen since the late 60’s. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m firmly on team Cass. Enzo came out last night to introduce the Big Show/cut a promo on The Club and then proceeded to have the Big Show basically fight a handicap match against Gallows & Anderson.
Show does good until Big Cass shows up to cause a distraction which allows Gallows & Anderson to take out Show. Since Enzo can’t do anything on his own, he immediately gets laid out and loses the match. So Cass’s big speech last month about Enzo running his mouth and not being able to back it up continues to be true, and Big Show has replaced Cass as the guy who has to continually fend off 2 on 1 attacks because his smaller, louder friend won’t shut up.
In case you thought this feud couldn’t get any worse, it’s announced later in the night that Big Cass will take on Big Show at Summerslam with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage. The only way that match would interest me is if there were actual sharks in the cage with Enzo.
Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt play a game of teleportation musical chairs, and the only thing of note during this segment was Balor’s fixation on popping his collar after every movement. I was hoping we’d see Demon Finn at Summerslam, but at this point there’s no reason to bring back the Demon unless Wyatt does something that warrants it.
Presented by Mercury Insurance
The best match of the night by a mile is Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose, which was oddly presented by Mercury insurance:
It’s one thing to have a brand sponsor a segment, but it’s another to have an obscure insurance company sponsor a segment. Tune in next week when Twin’s Pizza presents Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro (little Rhode Island joke). The match itself was very good, and whenever Cesaro is given 15 minutes or more of ring time, it always makes me wonder why he isn’t ALWAYS given 15 minutes or more of ring time. If he can get a good, engaging match out of Dean Ambrose then he’s a modern day miracle worker, and even though the finish was lame the match itself was good enough to make up for it.
Since Sheamus beat Rollins with a roll up earlier, it would only make sense for Ambrose to beat Cesaro via a roll up after a botched distraction from Sheamus. The Bar proceed to beat up Ambrose again until The Man Who Has No Friends™ Seth Rollins comes out for the save. Remember that backstage segment where Rollins yelled at Ambrose for not helping him and telling him to get over the fact that he beat up his two best friends with steel chairs to join The Authority? Well Dean decided he’s over it, and extended his fist for an old fashioned Shield fist bump, only for Rollins to refuse it and walk away. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Ariya Daivari & Akira Tozawa fought each other again, and it was another meaningless, two minute Cruiserweight match. I’ll never understand how WWE has 3 hours every Monday night yet can’t give us an exciting 10-12 minute Cruiserweight match. Or why they’ll pick Daivari & Tozawa to fight each other when Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Neville, Gran Metalik & Mustafa Ali are all on the roster.
Nia Jax, All Day Everyday
Once Sasha won her match earlier in the night and you saw that Nia Jax was facing Mickie James & Dana Brooke in the second triple threat match, it was pretty clear who would be facing Sasha next week. You could’ve thrown Jean-Pierre Goulet back out there and Nia still would’ve wrecked everybody. The match is short and sweet, which it should be when these three are involved, and although Nia vs. Sasha was extremely predictable, it’ll end up being a good #1 contender’s match next week. Will there be a clean winner, or are we headed towards a triple threat title match at Summerslam?
Goldust is still stuck in a dark room somewhere talking to a camera, and while I’d rather watch him feuding with somebody in the ring, at least it looks like we’re going to get some type of debut at Summerslam. Goldust teased the unveiling of his latest masterpiece and that it could be a man or a woman. Are we getting a debut? Repackaging of someone already on Raw? You’ve got my attention, Golden One.
Last Monster Standing
We’ve seen Strowman vs. Reigns a lot this summer, and it’s always good to great. Last night’s Last Man Standing match started off slow but picked up the pace when they got outside the ring, and the highlight of the match (and night) was Strowman’s chair throw:
You knew Joe was going to interfere because he’s also in the Fatal 4 Way and we hadn’t seem him all night, but it didn’t really make sense to have interference in this match. Nobody came out looking that good: Joe sneak attacked and choked out Reigns; Reigns loses the match; Strowman should have lost the match, but only won because someone else took out Reigns and he stood up before the 10 count. Speaking of standing up before the 10 count – why did the referee stop the count on Strowman when Joe attacked Reigns? It’s a no DQ match, so Joe attacking Reigns shouldn’t have stopped the count on Strowman, and the ref was already at 8 before Joe started to choke out Reigns. Strowman was down for another 10 seconds or more after the Joe attack, so the match should’ve ended there. If WWE is going to book these stipulation heavy matches, they should at least come up with an ending that make sense. Give me more chair throwing and less guys winning because they stood up faster.
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