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AJ Styles Is Your New WWE Champion #SmackdownLive

When AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE championship was announced last week, I speculated that WWE could be pulling the trigger on a potential dream match. If you’re a wrestling fan and DON’T want to see Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles, I’m not sure what to tell you. Styles is the best wrestler in the WWE at the moment, and Lesnar is still a beast capable of big time matches (Great Balls of Fire & Summerslam are two recent examples).

Well, guest what? WWE actually did it and had Styles defeat Mahal last night on Smackdown Live, and it’s possible he’ll go on to face Lesnar at Survivor Series. It’d be odd to have Lesnar still face Mahal if Jinder is no longer champion, even though I think Styles’ title run will be short lived. Lesnar vs. Styles is the money matchup at Survivor Series, and you can have Mahal win back the title during WWE’s tour of India in early December. Win-win.

Side note – I hope WWE was paying attention to the crowd reaction during this match. There is no way in hell a Jinder Mahal match should garner that type of reaction, but AJ Styles is a goddamn miracle worker. I know it’s a wacky theory, but giving us happy moments with guys we enjoy watching might be a recipe for success.

-Ryan

 

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WWE Could Be Setting Up A Much Anticipated Match For Survivor Series

Brock and Jinder

Photo: 411 Mania

The match card for WWE Survivor Series will feature a slew of champion versus champion matches, including Brock Lesnar versus Jinder Mahal. The main issue with that match is LOL it’s Jinder Mahal versus Brock Lesnar, which should end in 5 seconds with an actual murder. Here’s the feud so far in video form:

Paul Heyman has put over Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman but even he knows that Jinder vs. Brock is a joke. While this is only one man’s far out opinion, Shane McMahon’s tweet last night has me feeling hopeful that the match could change.

WWE was in a similar situation a few years ago when they had HHH defend his title against Dean Ambrose a month before WrestleMania at Roadblock. While HHH ended up winning that match and faced Reigns at Mania instead of the much more interesting Ambrose/Reigns match, I think Styles winning on Tuesday makes a lot of sense. The rules for Survivor Series are champion vs. champion, so if Styles wins the title Tuesday he would take Mahal’s place as Lesnar’s opponent. Plus, if the rumored Lesnar/Reigns match at Mania is still on, why not add Styles to the list of guys Brock has beaten this year to get to Reigns?

Jinder Mahal’s title reign has been a rousing disappointment, so hopefully WWE pulls the trigger on Tuesday. That would give Styles a title win he very much deserves while also giving WWE fans a dream match at Survivor Series.

-Ryan

Jon Jones Is The New UFC Light Heavyweight Champion & Now He Wants To Face Brock Lesnar

Jon Jones is back atop the mountain in UFC, and he wasted no time in letting everyone know who he wants to face next. During his post fight octagon speech, Jones again challenged Brock Lesnar, the former UFC Heavyweight champion and current WWE Universal champ.

“Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy that weighs 40 pounds less than you, come meet me in the octagon,” – MMA Junkie

Lesnar’s response, like most things Brock does, was no nonsense and emphatic:

Lesnar heard that and had a simple, direct response to The Associated Press.

“Be careful what you wish for, young man,” Lesnar said – MMA Junkie

I’m a casual MMA fan at best, but the thought of those two locking horns inside the octagon is as exciting a matchup as I can imagine. The fight has a few barriers to overcome, notably Brock’s current suspension due to an anti doping violation from his last fight in the Octagon last summer. While the fight can’t happen anytime soon, Jones and Lesnar arguably have the most pull to get what they want in the UFC, and there’s no doubt that if they work out a deal, it would make Jones, Lesnar & the UFC top brass very, very rich. I can’t wait to see how this story continues to unfold.

-Ryan

035 People, Gods and Gus Fring

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Samoa Joe Is The #1 Contender To Brock Lesnar’s Universal Title & Their Feud Is Off To A Great Start #WWE

Samoa Joe won the Fatal Five Way at Extreme Rules, and it was the best possible outcome coming out of that match. I was hoping Joe would win because he vs. Lesnar was the most intriguing match up, and I got my wish. Monday night on RAW, Samoa Joe wasted no time in putting Brock Lesnar on notice. After a great promo by Joe, Paul Heyman came out as he always does to advocate for Brock Lesnar, hype up Lesnar’s opponent while also explaining why that opponent has no chance against his Beast. Joe took everything in stride until Heyman tried to leave the ring. That’s when Joe calmly and sadistically explained to Paul what was about to happen to him and that he wants Paul to explain to Brock how it feels to get choked out. I loved that Joe did this without the use of a microphone, as this was something intimate he only wanted Heyman to hear.

Later in the episode Heyman is getting checked on by trainers when Brock Lesnar calls, and we find out that Brock will be at RAW next week to meet Joe head on. Joe knew what he was doing when he choked out Heyman, but it takes a special type of man to willingly call out Brock Lesnar like that. We haven’t seen Brock since the RAW after Mania, and I hope he comes back next week and we get some fireworks before…Greats Balls of Fire. Still don’t understand how they landed on that name, but if it’s being headlined by a fresh, ready to murder Brock Lesnar versus Samoa Joe, I’m in.

-Ryan

Brock Lesnar Will Defend His Universal Title At Great Balls Of Fire In July. Wait, What? #WWE

WWE officials after they see the reaction to the PPV name

Brock Lesnar won the Universal Title from Goldberg at WM 33 and unsurprisingly hasn’t defended the title since. The same thing happened between Summerslam and WrestleMania 31, so whenever Lesnar has a title the only thing to expect is that the title will not be on TV or pay per view’s very often. As great as it is to see that Lesnar will be back suplexing schmucks very soon, the big news here is the new name of WWE’s RAW branded July pay per view. If you’ve needed a reminder that a 70 year old billionaire runs the WWE, look no further than the Great Balls of Fire pay per view name. The name references a popular song recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1964 and is also the same year Vince McMahon turned 19, which cannot be a coincidence. I’d bet you all the honey in the world that this is one of Vince’s favorite songs, and in that insane mind of his he thought July of 2017 was the perfect time to name a pay per view after it. It’s either that or he’s going to create a match where someone’s balls are actually lit on fire. It’s a toss up, really.

-Ryan

 

Your Average WWE Summerslam Preview & Predictions

Photo: WWE

Photo: WWE

The biggest party of the summer is once again emanating from Brooklyn, New York, as the WWE holds their annual Summerslam pay per view this Sunday night. This year’s card is pretty incredible, and that shouldn’t surprise WWE fans, as more times than not in the recent past, Summerslam has been a very good show. Summerslam 2013 featured Daniel Bryan winning the WWE Championship, only to have special guest referee HHH take him out and allow Randy Orton to cash in his MITB briefcase. That kicked off one of the more memorable Road to WrestleMania’s, which culminated in Daniel Bryan putting on the best one man show in WM history and winning back the WWE Championship in the main event. Summerslam 2014 featured one of my favorite matches, as Brock Lesnar surprisingly decimated John Cena on his way to winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. While last year’s Undertaker/Lesnar main event fell flat, the overall card was solid, and it officially brought Seth Rollins to the big boys table after he defeated John Cena. What will this year’s event bring? Let’s get to the preview and predictions!

Eva Marie, Natalya and Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella, Naomi and Becky Lynch

Photo: WWE

Photo: WWE

So Sami Zayn doesn’t have a match at Summerslam but Eva Marie does. Nothing against Eva Marie, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Anyway, this match was made after last night’s Smackdown, and it’s should serve as a nice showcase for the six women who will eventually be fighting for the Smackdown’s Women’s title (if that ever becomes a thing). The positive side of not having a bunch of titles on each show is that it forces the creative team to come up with storylines that don’t revolve around two people vying for a championship. This should create more personal feuds, and whether it does or not will depend on the Smackdown writing team. As far as this match goes, it will be Carmella and Alexa Bliss’s first WWE pay per view, so it’d be cool to see them involved in the finish in some way. With Ms. All Red Everything involved though, I can see Alexa or Natalya landing a knockout blow during a fracas and Eva Marie sneaking in for a pin to claim the victory.

Prediction: Eva Marie, Natalya & Alexa Bliss

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

Photo: WWE

Photo: WWE

These four guys have been given the opening segment for the two out of three Raw’s, and have given us a thoroughly entertaining feud. 2016 Jericho continues to be great, and somehow gets better when you pair him with Kevin Owens. I love that Owens has hated Enzo and Cass since NXT, and that hatred has only gotten stronger now that they’re all on the main roster. The dynamic of Enzo and Cass works well too, as Enzo runs his mouth and clearly isn’t afraid of anybody, but doesn’t pose much of a physical threat until Big Cass gets involved. While I’d like Enzo & Cass to be in the tag title hunt, I’m perfectly OK with them mixing it up with two guys who know how to bring out the best in them. I have to assume that this Jericho/Owens tag team won’t last long, but I’m ok with it either way. Jericho is a tag team chameleon, so if they do stay together, why not let them make a run at the titles? If they don’t stay together, I’m all in for a Jericho/Owens feud, especially in the promo department.

Prediction: Enzo & Cass pick up a big win at a marque pay per view, continuing their rise to the top of the tag team division

IC Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Apollo Crews

Photo: WWE

Photo: WWE

Now that the Miz’s fantastic feud with Darren Young is over, it’s time to give Apollo Crews something to work with. He came into NXT as a big new signee, but was never given much of a character and stalled out. He came onto the main roster as a fresh new thing, but was never given a character and is starting to stall out again. I’m a huge fan of the Miz, and he’s one of the best characters WWE has (especially with Maryse), but it’s time to get Crews going. He’s got a million dollar smile and for his build, he does some pretty amazing things. I have complete confidence that Miz can bring out the best in Crews, and put him over big time for what is hopefully a semi long title run.

Prediction: Apollo Crews

US Championship Match: Rusev (C) vs. Roman Reigns

This is a classic heart vs. brain match for me. My heart is, and will forever always be, with Rusev. He’s the most underrated guy on the roster and every time they’ve given him something to work with he’s knocked it out of the park. HE RODE A TANK TO THE RING AT WRESTLEMANIA. While I understand having Cena beat Rusev for the US title, they backed themselves into a corner by giving Rusev a long undefeated streak. Undefeated streaks in pro wrestling are the worst thing in the world because there is no good way to end them. The best example of this is Goldberg. The guy was the hottest thing in wrestling, held both the US and Heavyweight titles at the same time, and eventually lost because Scott Hall tazored him. Now Rusev finally has some momentum again and I have that feeling I had before WrestleMania 31 where WWE is going to have the hero come in and defeat the evil Russian, even though Rusev has been the good guy during every single moment of this feud. Remember last week when Rusev and Lana were innocently reenacting their wedding and Roman Reigns came out, unprovoked, and called Lana a mail order bride and made fun of Rusev because he couldn’t please his wife sexually on their wedding night? Remember when Roman Reigns complained and was just handed another title match? How does that make Reigns the hero in this feud? Add in the fact that Reigns is so goddamn boring, and I see no reason why Rusev should lose. Which brings me to my prediction…

Prediction: Roman Reigns. Let’s just move on.

Cesaro vs. Sheamus: Best of 7 Series Kickoff Match

Photo: WWE

Photo: WWE

While I love this move by GM Mick Foley, I do wish this had been set up prior to Cesaro and Sheamus already fighting twice on Raw. If Cesaro loses this series, shouldn’t he be furious that Foley basically ignored two hard fought, clean victories? I understand you can’t start a best of 7 series 2-0, but why not start this up a few weeks ago when Foley said he wanted to see who the better man was? If you make the best of 7 series then, you could make the Summerslam match number 3 or 4 in the series, and possibly continue it through the fall. Instead, WWE hits the reset button and we’re just supposed to forget that Cesaro has already beaten Sheamus twice. With that said, we should get a great match at Summerslam with a decent story behind it, so I’m all for it. While Sheamus is very good in the ring, his character is so bland it’s tough to care about him either way. Cesaro has all the talent in the world, but WWE just won’t let him get any continued momentum, so it’s tough for the casual fan to root for him. Hopefully this is the start of an extended showcase for both wrestlers with Cesaro eventually coming out on top.

Prediction: Cesaro

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

Since coming to the WWE, AJ Styles has been one of their best performers. He had a great feud with Jericho, then slid into the #1 contenders spot and put on a few classic matches with Roman Reigns. Now he’s going up against Mr. Superman and even though he’s already beat him once (CLEAN) they’re having a rematch. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen here. It’s almost the same thing as Rusev/Reigns, except on a much bigger scale. Styles has a chance to be one of if not THE top guy in WWE, but he has to go through John Cena to get there. Kevin Owens tried, and failed. Rusev tried, and failed. Bray Wyatt tried, and failed. Why would Styles be any different? A classic John Cena feud has him lose at a B pay per view, then get his win back at a bigger show. Guess what? AJ Styles beat John Cena at MITB, and now they’re fighting at Summerslam, a much bigger show. History tells us John Cena is going to win, and there’s a reason I use that picture above for every Cena match I preview. While I’d love to happily be proved wrong, I’m going with Superman.

Prediction: John Cena

Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton

If you held this match before UFC 200, Brock Lesnar would eat Randy Orton for lunch. Lesnar was as unstoppable as anyone in recent memory until he decided to go back to the UFC and fail a few drug tests. While WWE doesn’t have the power to suspend him, they have to be embarrassed and upset at Brock to act as carelessly as he did, especially given the circumstances of WWE suspending Reigns shortly afterwards. Regardless of UFC fights and drug test failures, Lesnar steps back into the ring for the first time since WrestleMania as he takes on Randy Orton at Summerslam. While Lesnar hasn’t fought since WM, Orton is coming off of an almost year long hiatus due to injury, and although he’s fought a few matches on Smackdown since coming back, nothing can really prepare you for The Beast Incarnate. As much as I’d love to see Brock destroy Orton a la John Cena at Summerslam 2014, I just don’t see it happening. The WWE loves that ‘RKO Outta Nowhere’ talking point, and it really fits into this storyline perfectly. Whether Lesnar wins or loses, he should dominate the match, until an RKO Outta Nowhere surprises him and gives Orton the win. As I said before, I bet the original plan for this match was for Brock to return and destroy a worthy competitor in Orton, but now I’m not so sure. Vince McMahon was kind enough to let Lesnar fight in the UFC while under contract with the WWE, and Lesnar basically spit in his face. The Beast is going to have to pay for that.

Prediction: Randy Orton

Tag Team Championship Match: New Day (Kofi & Xavier) vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows

Photo: WWE

Photo: WWE

This is an interesting match, and it has rematch written all over it. As much I love Xavier Woods, the best in-ring version of New Day is Kofi & Big E. Now that Big E has suffered a ‘contusion to his groin area’ at the hands of Anderson & Gallows, New Day is forced to defend the tag titles with the team of Xavier and Kofi. Does Big E make a surprise comeback and help New Day retain? Or do Gallows and Anderson take advantage of the weakened unit and win tag team gold? New Day has done a lot of good as tag team champions, but they are way overdue for a loss. Similar to having Styles beat Cena, having Gallows and Anderson go over the longest reigning tag team champions of the modern era at Summerslam would be huge for them. Why bring these guys in from Japan if you’re not going to do something with them? Plus, you have a built in excuse for a rematch with the Big E injury, so why not give your new tag team a big win at a major event? Give Karl Anderson and his hot Asian wife a reason to celebrate.

Prediction: Gallows & Anderson

Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks (C) vs. Charlotte

‘Women’s Championship’ has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? After suffering through the Diva’s division for so long, its nice to see the women slowly but surely making headway on the main roster. If there’s any two women the WWE Universe can thank for that, it’s Sasha Banks & Charlotte. They (along with Bayley and Becky Lynch) tore it up in NXT and forced WWE to start recognizing women for their in ring talent and not just because they looked good in a bikini. Sasha & Charlotte had the best one on one main roster women’s singles match on Raw a few weeks back, so if this match is anything close to that, it’ll be fantastic. Dana Brooke being banned from ringside is an interesting twist, and I can see either Ric Flair coming out or Dana dressed as Ric to try and cause some interference. Regardless of outside interference, the title has to stay on The Boss here. Sasha is not only the best in the ring, but she has a strong connection with the fans which goes back to her time in NXT and her look and personality give her a strong mainstream appeal. If the rumors of Charlotte taking time off are true, that’s just another reason to keep Sasha as the champion and to develop a new round of challengers for The Boss to dispatch. Don’t be surprised if Nia Jax makes a post match appearance as well to set up the next Women’s championship feud.

Prediction: Sasha Banks

WWE World Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler

This has been one of the more enjoyable feuds on the card, and it’s safe to say no one is enjoying the brand split more than Dolph Ziggler. He’s looked like a star since the first Smackdown Live and hasn’t looked back. I really like Ambrose as the figure head for Smackdown as well, because he’s a great talker and while he might not be the greatest threat in the ring, he figures out a way to get the job done. When Ziggler became #1 contender, it was an interesting dynamic because both wrestlers were baby faces, but Ambrose has slowly been turning heel over the last few weeks. While I doubt he goes full heel, it does give this match a little more suspense than before. Will Ambrose cheat to win? Ziggler is a good guy based on fan reactions, but is he above cheating to finally stand alone at the top? I expect this to be an expertly wrestled match, and as much as I’ll be rooting for Ziggler, I think Ambrose deserves a longer title reign.

Prediction: Dean Ambrose

WWE Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

While I’m pretty sure Orton/Lesnar will go on last, I think that’s a mistake. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor to crown the first ever Universal Champion should absolutely be the main event, and the WWE is crazy if they do anything else. Balor is the MAN. He’s got the entrance, the charisma, the look, the in ring skills; whatever you’re looking for, Finn Balor has it. He’s made every promotion he’s ever worked for better just by being in it, whether it be NJPW or NXT. If WWE gives him a real shot, he’ll do the same thing for Monday Night Raw. Balor had one of the best in ring debuts ever a few weeks ago, and he can’t ask for a better dance partner than Rollins at Summerslam. Since separating from The Shield and cashing in his MITB briefcase at WrestleMania 31, Rollins has been the standard bearer for the WWE. While they wasted his talent by turning him into a cry baby champion, Rollins still made the best of it and turned into a heel who was impossible to boo. His injury came at an inopportune time, but he busted his butt to get back, and now finds himself right back where he belongs: fighting for a title. If this was Rollins vs. Balor, I’d give the edge to Rollins and have him be the first Universal Champion. Unfortunately for Seth, Finn Balor is bringing The Demon with him to Summerslam. While The Demon has lost in NXT, it’d be a mistake to have him lose his first appearance at a major pay per view. The fact that Rollins is focusing so heavily on The Demon gives me hope that Rollins will unleash a demon side of his own at Summerslam, but either way, I’m going with Finn.

Prediction: Finn Balor

-Ryan

Brock Lesnar Beat Mark Hunt Via Unanimous Decision At #UFC200, Is An Unstoppable Human Wrecking Machine

I’ll be the first to admit that I was wary about Brock Lesnar returning to the octagon after a five year absence. Not only was he returning, but he was facing off against Mark Hunt, the #8 ranked Heavyweight in the UFC. This wasn’t Brock coasting his way back to UFC for a big payday; this was going to be a legitimate battle. What I failed to realize, even though it’s been proven time and time again, is that a 100% healthy Brock Lesnar is unlike anyone else on this planet. Brock exited the UFC in a way that he wasn’t happy with, so when the time came five years later to reconcile some of that defeat, he was ready. Lesnar dominated the 1st and 3rd rounds for a unanimous decision win, and for a man who’s turning 39 tomorrow, he has never looked better. The other winner after this outcome has to be Vince McMahon and the WWE. Letting Lesnar fight in UFC while under contract and advertising him for Summerslam just six weeks after the fight was a huge risk. If Lesnar loses, or gets hurt, not only is his appearance at the pay per view in jeopardy, but the mystique of Lesnar could have been damaged. Instead, Brock goes out and dominates, and now the most legitimate superstar in WWE history somehow got stronger. I’d bet the house that Paul Heyman (and maybe Brock himself) will be on Monday Night Raw ready to reclaim the squared circle.

-Ryan

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