The night before the Royal Rumble is no longer the final day of preparation. Thanks to the success of NXT, fans now get an NXT TakeOver event that sometimes outshines the main roster PPV. While it’ll be tough to outdo the Royal Rumble, TakeOver does have a solid card set up. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
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The Velveteen Dream vs. Kassius Ohno
This match was just added last night, and it’s between two guys who need a big win. NXT loves to back themselves into this corner, but I have faith the match will deliver. The build reminds me of Ohno/Itami, where Itami insulted Ohno, lost a match, then Ohno gave him the ‘I told you so’ treatment. Dream did that when Ohno lost to Gargano, then Dream lost to Gargano, then Ohno confronted him backstage and now we have a match. Dream had the match of the night with Aleister Black at the last TakeOver, so he has a lot to live up to Saturday night. The key for him is going to be avoiding the KO and using his athleticism to his advantage. I’m not sure how much longer Kassius is going to hang around in NXT, so I think Dream should go over here.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream picks up his first big win at an NXT TakeOver
Extreme Rules Match: Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black
NXT doesn’t usually venture into gimmick match territory for their TakeOver specials. That’ll change when Undisputed Era’s leader Adam Cole takes on Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match. These two first squared off on the December 13th episode. Black defeated Cole in that match, earning a spot in the #1 contender Fatal Four Way. Cole took offense to not being in the match and more or less cost Black his chance at a title shot by attacking him. A few weeks later Black and Roderick Strong were challenging Fish & O’Reilly for the tag belts. Once again Cole interfered and cost Black a win.
Usually an Extreme Rules match would favor the guy who REALLY wants to hurt the other guy. While that would be Black in this case, the no DQ stipulation means that Fish & O’Reilly can interfere throughout.
The positive for Black: Undisputed Era has made A LOT of enemies. If Fish & O’Reilly interfere, don’t be surprised if Roddy Strong or Sanity come out to even the odds. Aleister Black is still undefeated in singles action, so this will be a very interesting outcome.
Prediction: Aleister Black
NXT Tag Team Title Match: Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish (C) vs. Authors of Pain
Remember when I said Undisputed Era has made a lot of enemies? Well none are more vicious and powerful than the Authors of Pain. The Authors were the most dominant team in NXT for a long stretch of time, and they’ll be looking to regain that distinction against the tag champs. The Authors don’t have as much experience as Fish/O’Reilly, but they make up for it in size and strength. They’ve beaten a who’s who list of all time NXT tag teams, including The Revival & DIY. Fish & O’Reilly have been more opportunistic than dominant, but they certainly know how to win. I do think that Black beats Adam Cole, which makes it hard for me to pick against the champs here. Undisputed Era has been impressive since debuting and I don’t think having all three guys lose at a live special is the right call. Plus, Authors of Pain need to be on the main roster wrecking people ASAP.
Prediction: Fish & O’Reilly
NXT Women’s Title Match: Ember Moon (C) vs. Shayna Baszler
Poor Ember Moon. She’s been a star in NXT since her debut, but could never win the big one against Asuka. Asuka moved to Raw still undefeated, but Ember continued to scratch and claw her way to the top. She competed in the Fatal Four Way match for the vacant title at WarGames and FINALLY won the title. How is she rewarded? A match against Shayna Baszler, who has been murdering women for weeks on NXT TV. Moon is definitely up to the task, but this is a hell of a first title defense.
The build for this match has been perfect. Ember is not only a fighting champion, but she’s a champion with a moral code. Shayna Baszler has been terrorizing the women’s division for weeks and the only person to stand up for the fallen has been Ember. Just like in the movies, the hero is only as good as the villain, and Shayna is one hell of a villain. I love that she has an actual MMA background, because it makes everything she’s doing seem a bit more dangerous. While Ember has the wrestling advantage, all it takes is one misstep for Baszler to apply the Kirifuda Clutch. If that happens Saturday night, Ember’s reign will be a short one. Shayna has a ton of potential, but Ember deserves at least a few successful title defenses.
Prediction: Ember Moon
NXT Title Match: Andrade Almas (C) vs. Johnny Gargano
It’s not often that the main event steals the show at TakeOver, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen in Philly. These two have already fought twice, including the off the charts match at TakeOver: Brooklyn. Interestingly enough, that match is what started Almas on his current hot streak. Since defeating Gargano in Brooklyn, Almas has been the star of NXT and enters TakeOver as the NXT champ. Gargano went in the opposite direction post Brooklyn and honestly owes his spot in the title match to a little bit of luck. Gargano was given a spot in the Fatal Four Way #1 contender’s match after Velveteen Dream was injured. To his credit, he earned the victory in that match, and now goes on to fight someone he has never defeated.
There are two people to remember heading into this match. Candice LeRae just signed with WWE less than two weeks ago. She is Gargano’s real life wife, and also someone who could even the odds if Zelina Vega gets involved. The other is Tommaso Ciampa. He was injured in May after turning on Gargano, and his expected return is early 2018. Last time I checked, it was early 2018, and what better time to return than when Gargano is in a title match? He’s also been selectively active on Twitter lately. IF Ciampa is healthy, NXT would be crazy to do anything but Gargano vs. Ciampa for the NXT title at the WrestleMania show. In order for that to happen, Gargano would have to win Saturday night.
Prediction: Gargano wins, Ciampa attacks post match similar to Owens/Zayn after Sami won the NXT title.
This year’s WrestleMania 31 was one of the biggest yet, and SummerSlam looks to build on the hype that was reaching fever pitch at the end of July’s WWE Battleground. So far, 2015 has been a massive success for the sports entertainment juggernaut that many had begun to count out amid drops in TV ratings and waning popularity. However, the success of the online-enabled WWE Network and increased focus on top-notch pay-per-view events has paid off in spades for Vince McMahon and company.
While TV ratings may have dropped to a near-all time low for the industry, more of this can be contributed to the decline of network and cable television rather than the WWE itself. Despite the dip in ratings, the company is doing just fine and announced the highest quarterly revenue in company history for the first quarter of 2015.
A new crop of bankable stars along with a concerted effort to shift to a more interactive and on-demand model with fans has helped the company stay ahead of the curve and remain afloat in a business that sees many others continuing to flounder. One thing that continues to pique interest among fans and casual sports enthusiasts alike is the increased ubiquity of gambling on professional wrestling events. It’s totally legit and, you know, a thing that you can actually do. While you can’t place a wager on regular events like “RAW,” for example, many bookmakers offer odds on the larger events like WrestleMania and SummerSlam with tons of fun side bets.
For us, if you’re going to do some sports betting, you need to do it right and that means Vegas (if you can swing it, of course). We think the best place to sit down and watch it all go down is definitely the MGM Grand with its plush leather seats, plenty of space and veritable ton of TVs. The casino’s sports booking service has 36 different 60-inch screens and 24 different 42-inch screens. You’ll never watch wrestling the same way again and there’s no better way to make sure you catch every inch of the action. Read the rest of this entry
Well, the day is finally upon us. WrestleMania 31 is this Sunday from Levi’s Stadium in California, and we have four hours of wrestling/sports entertainment to look forward to. Kings vs. Icons, Beasts vs. Juggernauts, Adam Rose and Zack Ryder in a Battle Royal; WrestleMania 31 pretty much has something for everyone. Like I’ve been doing before every pay per view, I’ll be previewing each match on the Mania card then giving my expert* opinion on who I think will win. Let’s get to it!
Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro/Kidd (C) vs. Los Matadores vs. New Day vs. The Usos
Preview: Cesaro and Kidd have been the lone bright spot on the tag team scene recently, but it’s clear WWE thinks of the division as a wasteland of sorts. Los Matadores and The New Day spent the last few months losing to everyone under the sun, but are in a tag team title match at WrestleMania because…? I really can’t answer that question, and as bad as Los Matadores and New Day have been, The Uso’s aren’t that much better. You can’t have a solid tag team division with one good team, so unless the WWE revamps it’s current teams or inserts new ones, the tag team matches will be relegated to the pre show match on pay per views for the foreseeable future. In a perfect world the bell would ring and Natalya would power bomb El Torito through a table, then Cesaro and Kidd would massacre all three teams with a combination of swings, dropkicks and uppercuts. While that probably won’t happen, Cesaro and Kidd are the only hope of a tag team renaissance, so I’m going with them.
Prediction: Kidd & Cesaro, maybe pinning the other six guys at the same time. The only benefit of having a shitty tag team division is that it’s impossible for anyone to look worse by taking a loss in this match.
AJ Lee & Paige vs. Nikki & Brie Bella
Preview: Paige and Nikki Bella had the match of the night on Raw (don’t adjust your computer screens, you read that correctly) and I was hoping the teased tension between AJ and Paige would lead to a Divas Title match at Mania instead of the tag team bout, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. Ever since Give Diva’s A Chance started trending, it was clear that the WWE would be making the Diva’s division a priority, similar to how they are portrayed in NXT. It’s jarring sometimes to remember that NXT and WWE are pretty much the same company, and its sad that it took a worldwide hash tag for the higher ups to realize that women’s wrestling should be an important part of their show. This match is pretty much a battle of the internet’s darlings vs. WWE’s vision of women wrestlers. The Bella’s are pretty much models that have been trained to wrestle, while AJ and Paige are wrestling first Diva’s who most of the audience can get behind because the genuinely love what they do. While the Bella’s have made great strides (Nikki especially) in the last half year or so, they’ll never get the smart fans support over a Paige or AJ.
Prediction: I think AJ and Paige will continue to bicker which leads to a Bella’s WrestleMania win, and most likely a triple threat title scenario post Mania depending on NXT call ups.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Preview: While last year’s Battle Royal became a welcome surprise with Cesaro’s impressive win, this year’s build was lacking in a lot of ways. The only storylines going into the match is the tension between Miz and Mizdow and the Twitter feud between Adam Rose and Zack Ryder. The rest of the match is filled up by teams who didn’t make it into the tag team pre show match and big guys that WWE loves to use in Battle Royal scenarios like Ryback, Mark Henry, Big Show and Kane. WWE also hurt themselves by not pushing the winner of last year’s match, thus making it seem like nothing really changes if you win the Battle Royal. If Cesaro had been pushed and made into an important player following his win, then the winner of this match would be looking forward to something more than just a trophy. It’ll be interesting to see which NXT star gets a slot in this match, as whoever wins the battle royal at tonight’s live event will be awarded the spot. My money is on Adrian Neville, and if it is him, I hope they give him a mini showcase because his athleticism is unmatched. Sheamus is definitely returning at Mania, and I think it’s in this match, and that he may appear later in the show as well (hopefully not), so at least we have that to look forward to.
Prediction: Sheamus returns and wins, and hopefully we get some kind of payoff between Miz and Mizdow, which leads to a pay per view match(s) down the line.
Ladder Match For The IC Title: Wade Barrett (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth
Preview: Up until Monday’s Raw, this was the match with the best lead up. I think WWE played all their cards before Monday’s Raw, including the gauntlet match and 6 man tag, so by the time Monday rolled around they didn’t really have anything new to do. With that said, this match seems like its can’t miss. You have seven of the best young guys on the roster with something to prove going for a mid card title that desperately needs validation. You have perennial show stealers in Daniel Bryan and Ziggler, incredibly underrated workhorse Luke Harper, crazy man Dean Ambrose and two solid yet under appreciated guys in Stardust and Barrett. R-Truth is R-Truth, but he’s surrounded by the seven other guys, so I imagine they’ll be able to cover for him. If the WWE is serious about elevating the mid card belts, then Bryan has to win here. Of the guys with an actual chance of winning, he’s the only one who hasn’t had a long reign with a mid card title. Ziggler and Barrett have had the IC belts before and couldn’t elevate, and Ambrose had the US belt FOREVER and couldn’t elevate that. Give the strap to Bryan, and use the next 6 months to a year feuding him with any of the other guys in this match and you’ll have a revitalized IC division.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan, as long as WWE conceals it’s hard on to feud Sheamus with DB and have him cost Bryan the match.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Previw: This is the only match on the card where I’m 100% certain the young up and comer will win against the veteran. With Cena/Rusev, Wyatt/Undertaker and Lesnar/Reigns, it’s not certain if any of the young guys will actually win their match, but I think Rollins does here. Orton already got his revenge on Rollins a few weeks ago with that long brawl to end Raw, but now he wants to ends ‘the future of the WWE’ for good. I just think Rollins has too many weapons at his disposal. He’s a superb wrestler, and all it takes is one distraction from J & J Security or any other member of The Authority and Orton will be eating a curb stomp. Rollins and Orton are pretty evenly matched, and I know this match is going to deliver, and it might not be the last time you see Seth Rollins make an appearance on the show.
Prediction: Rollins wins via some kind of distraction from The Authority.
United States Championship Match: Rusev (C) vs. John Cena
Preview: The internet is just waiting to explode after this match, but the way WWE has set it up, it’s almost impossible for John Cena to lose. I disagree with the build, and the result of their match at Fast Lane, but it’s time to face the facts: John Cena is winning the US title at WrestleMania. Before I get into whether this loss will crush Rusev, let’s look at the positives here. John Cena is not in the main event or the WWE championship picture, which is always a breath of fresh air. If he wins, Cena becomes the US Champ, and he elevates the title more than anyone else has in the recent past. Depending on how good Rusev looks, Cena beats an unbeatable villain, which is pretty much what his character has been about since he won his first title from JBL at WrestleMania 21. Cena got choked out at Fast Lane, choked out on Raw and has let down America while Rusev has continued to stand tall. In the world of pro wrestling, this feud has to culminate with the good guy winning on the biggest stage. Unfortunately for us, the good guy here is John Cena because America and little kids says so. As for Rusev, a loss here to the pretty much unbeatable Cena isn’t the worst thing IF the WWE handles it properly. If Rusev loses, he should destroy everyone in his path post Mania and beat Cena clean somewhere down the road to regain the title. If they handle Rusev like they did Wyatt last year, having him only settle the score with Cena by outside interference and children singing then he’s in trouble. I’ll wait and see what happens with Rusev before I judge this match, but I’d bet my house on Cena leaving Mania with the US title
Prediction: John Cena wins, the American flag is somehow involved and Rusev retreats to the back a broken man.
Sting vs. HHH
Preview: This is one of those weird matches that I can’t wait to see but at the same time don’t care about the outcome. Neither guy at this point in their career is going to be affected by a win or a loss, but it’s still going to be cool to see Sting have his WrestleMania moment. Besides Wyatt and The Undertaker, Sting’s entrance is the one I’m most looking forward to. The WWE is the king of revisionist history, and since they won the Monday Night Wars, what they say happened, happened. Sting was the franchise guy in WCW, but by the time the company was bought out in 2001, the ship had been sinking for a long time. HHH is pretty much the last guy standing from the Attitude Era guys of the mid to late 90s, so it makes sense to have him be the one to confront the outsider Sting. We know HHH can still go, as he had one of his best matches ever last year vs. Daniel Bryan, and from the little we’ve seen of Sting in a WWE ring, it looks like he’ll be just fine Sunday too. I can’t imagine this feud lasts longer than Sunday night, which makes it a little more interesting considering how serious WWE takes itself when it comes to beating WCW.
Prediction: As I said before, the outcome of this match should be an after thought; Sting is getting his WrestleMania moment, which he deserves. I think Sting wins, and HHH continues his losing streak at WrestleMania.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
Preview: First off, holy hell what a promo video by the WWE. Even when they’re at their worst, they are the absolute best at hype videos. Now, onto the match. Win or lose, I think this is the feud that keeps Wyatt in the main event scene for years to come, which is funny because The Undertaker hasn’t even shown up yet. Wyatt has literally carried this feud with his promos, and capped it off Monday night on Raw with one of his best promos ever, seemingly summoning The Undertaker’s supernatural powers and once and for all declaring himself the New Face of Fear. I’ve written about this before, but this is unchartered territory for The Undertaker. He’s never re appeared in the WWE after a WrestleMania loss, so it almost makes this match impossible to predict. It’s anyone guess as to how he’ll look, and even though we’ve seen pictures of him training, it still remains to be seen how much he’ll be able to do in the ring. It says a lot about how the WWE views Wyatt that they’re putting him in a marquee matchup with ‘Taker, and I think this is where Wyatt gets the WrestleMania moment he should have gotten last year. I understand Cena winning this year, as you’ve got the built in storyline of America vs. Russia, and his win could actually do a lot of good for the mid card division, where as last year’s win vs. Wyatt did nothing for him. I think Wyatt becomes the modern day Undertaker, and his coronation ceremony will be Sunday night.
Prediction: The Undertaker passes the torch to Bray Wyatt, and we officially have a new face of fear.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns
Preview: Ever since Brock announced on Sportscenter Tuesday night that he’d be staying with the WWE, I’ve been tossing this match around in my head. If Brock left, Reigns would win, and the WWE would be in a big mess. Reigns is a future star, but I don’t think the future is this Sunday. Now that Brock has re signed and actually come off as a likeable guy, he’s going to be immensely cheered on Sunday, which leaves only a swarm of boos to greet Roman Reigns as he enters from the crowd (or a helicopter, fingers crossed). There’s a few ways this could go down, and I’ll start with the least likely and end with the most likely. Brock eviscerating Reigns a la Cena at Summerslam, continuing to be the most dominant champion in modern history. I can’t see this happening because it wastes the build up of Reigns, and immediately knocks him way down the card. Same goes for Reigns murdering Lesnar. Having him cake walk through your most dominant champion of the modern era will not only make the fans turn on Reigns, but it discredits all those who Lesnar beat as well. Heyman turns on Brock to help Reigns win. As cool as that would be, with Brock sticking around for a few more years, I can’t see Heyman swerving Brock this early into his new contract, but it’s definitely a possibility. Brock wins clean, and Seth Rollins cashes in his MITB briefcase. Rollins has had his briefcase long enough, and unless they’re planning a Ziggler type cash in the next night on Raw, I think he does it Sunday night, which leads me to my prediction for the main event of WrestleMania 31:
Prediction: Reigns takes a beating, but ultimately beats Brock for the WWE Championship. Rollins cashes in and you have the built in feud of former Shield buddy’s duking it out for the world title. The loss sends Brock on a war path and creates new and exciting feuds for the Beast Incarnate. I think Rollins cashes in to end the show, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened to either Brock or Reigns, but for the sake of making a pick, I’m going with Reigns.
Every WrestleMania, our friend creates a special WrestleMania sheet that makes things a little more interesting. The gist of it is everyone puts in $5, and you pick who you think is going to win each match and how that person is going to win. 1 point is awarded for each correct answer, with two possible points available for each match (For the Battle Royal and Ladder match, you get 2 points for picking the winner, since there’s only one way to win). For example, if you pick Sting to win via pinfall, and Sting wins via pinfall, you get two points. At the end of the show you tally up the points and the person with the most points wins the money. If you’d like to play along, you can check out the sheet at this link: http://bit.ly/1EYx3sa
We’ll be tweeting along with all the action this Sunday @averagenobodies. Give us a follow and enjoy the best night of the year.
The 2015 Royal Rumble is live on the WWE Network this Sunday in Philadelphia. As evidenced by Monday’s Raw in Dallas, a show is always better with a hot crowd, and Philly has always been known to bring their A game for big time shows. The Rumble is a unique pay per view, because it usually has two main events, and this Rumble is no different. This year’s event is headlined by a triple threat match for the WWE Championship and the Royal Rumble match itself. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Pre-Show: Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose vs. The New Day
I’ve never had such a ‘heart vs. brain’ debate for a pre show match like I do with this one. Like the rest of the WWE universe, I’m going to pretend Adam Rose doesn’t exist, but my heart is pulling for Kidd and Cesaro. There is no logical reason for them to win: they are two super talented guys thrown together as a tag team making the best of their situation, even though they’re paired up with a grown man who just got out of a feud with a bunny. The New Day just isn’t working as a hand clapping, sing along, matching outfit trio, but that doesn’t mean with a little tweak it can’t be effective. I’m just not the kind of guy who’s going to root against Kidd and Cesaro.
Prediction: The New Day, because we can’t have nice things.
Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins
I’m glad that this is a tag match, because with the two main events most likely eclipsing 90 minutes of ring time, there wouldn’t be enough room on the card for two divas matches. Nikki Bella is the Divas champion, but Paige arguably has the most momentum going into this match, and at some point the Bella’s will be splitting up again. No time like the present.
Prediction: Paige and Natalya, with Paige pinning or submitting Brie Bella.
The Ascension vs. The New Age Outlaws
I loved this segment from Monday’s Raw. The Ascension have been coming out for weeks and disrespecting classic tag teams, so when you have three of those tag teams in the same building, why not have them get a little revenge. I read a few Raw reviews that didn’t like this because The Ascension are young and The Outlaws are old, but here’s what happened: Ascension were outnumbered 7-2, they didn’t back down, and they got beat up a little by a team who were tag champs just last year. Now they get a two on two fight at the Royal Rumble and have a chance to beat an established tag team. Who else on the current roster could give The Ascension the ‘rub’ that the Outlaws can? WWE has messed up their tag division so bad that their aren’t any good teams for The Ascension to beat and look important.
Prediction: The Ascension. If the Outlaws win, disregard that last paragraph and the WWE are idiots.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (C) vs. The Miz & Mizdow
This feud could end at the Rumble or literally last forever. Either one wouldn’t surprise me. One of the Usos pinned Miz clean rather easily on Raw, and Miz and Mizdow teased some strife on Smackdown, so perhaps the Usos will retain and my long nightmare of the Usos as a tag team will continue. I would love to see Mizdow’s fake tag titles return, but I just don’t see it happening here. See above for how bad the WWE tag team division is, so even if Miz and Mizdow lose, I’m not sure who’s up next as #1 contenders. All I know is I’d rather set myself on fire than watch an Usos/New Day feud.
Prediction: The Usos retain, and we all die a little inside.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
Thank the good Lord that HHH put Seth Rollins in this match, because I don’t know if I’d be able to watch the third John Cena/Brock Lesnar match since August. This match could go a few ways. Firstly, John Cena is in the match. so there’s always that 99% chance that he’s going to win, especially with WrestleMania coming up. Secondly, you have Brock Lesnar, who we know is under contract until WrestleMania, and who is coming off his most dominant performance since Summerslam on Monday’s Raw. Third, you have the wildcard, Seth Rollins. I think Cena’s chances of winning, and the result of the Rumble match, hinge on WWE’s plans for Rusev. If Cena is next in line to face Rusev, then he probably doesn’t win here. Same goes for Daniel Bryan’s chances of winning the Rumble. If Bryan is up next for Rusev, then he probably doesn’t win the Rumble. Of all the three in this match, Cena, as always, has the best chance of winning. The theory of Brock retaining makes a lot of sense due to his contract status. Why keep Lesnar around for the next 2+ months unless you have him as your champion? Although he doesn’t appear on WWE TV as often as Cena or Rollins, his performance on Monday night gives him an incredible wave of momentum going into the Rumble. And then there’s the wildcard, Seth Rollins. I don’t think Rollins wins this match outright, but with that MITB briefcase in his possession, he could cash in after the match is over. Not to be overlooked is Paul Heyman, who many feel could switch allegiances and side with Rollins either before or after Lesnar’s WWE run is over.
Prediction: Brock retains, pinning Cena. Rollins cashes in on Brock, setting up a potential 3 or 4 way match at WrestleMania with the winner of the Rumble and possibly Cena. I can’t see Cena not being involved in back to back WrestleMania’s without being in the main event of either.
The Royal Rumble Match
This is a three or four horse race, so I’ll go over a few things I’m looking forward to and then break down who I think has the best chance of winning.
- Damien Mizdow eliminating himself (or not) after The Miz is eliminated. Mizdow has turned this throw away character into gold, and there aren’t many more ways he can imitate The Miz. I can easily picture a scenario in the Rumble where Miz is eliminated and Mizdow toys with the crowd and asks them what he should do, before eventually getting thrown out by someone else. This continues the dissension storyline and puts Mizdow over even more.
- Bray Wyatt’s entrance. A lot of the internet seems to have given up on Wyatt, but not me. He’s still young, he’s still unique and he’s finally on some kind of winning streak. While his momentum has wavered in the past, his “fireflies’ entrance has always been awesome. I’m expecting him to be #1 or #2 so we can get the full entrance.
- Kofi’s Rumble elimination spot. He’s not announced as an official participant yet, but he better be in the Rumble. Why else is he on the god damn roster except to find creative ways to avoid elimination and then get immediately eliminated? Don’t crush my dreams, WWE.
- The surprise entrants. I’m hoping they’re limited to 1 or 2, but a couple surprise entrants always makes the Rumble more fun. Orton? Bo Dallas? DDP? Sheamus? RVD? Ok, maybe more than one or two are ok.
I think the top four guys who have the best shot at winning are Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose & Randy Orton (if he returns). Reigns is most likely the favorite, but as I stated above, I think Daniel Bryan wins unless his next feud is with Rusev. If the WWE wants to do Rusev/Bryan at WrestleMania, he’s not winning, so if you’re a Daniel Bryan fan, hope WWE decides to go with Cena for Rusev’s next feud. Ambrose needs some momentum, and if Rollins somehow steals a win in the title match, any kind of reincarnation of the Ambrose/Rollins feud is ok in my book. If Orton returns, he’s returning to the main event scene, so you can’t rule him out, but he’s probably the least likely of the four.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan. The only way to top last year is to win the Rumble and beat all the top guys in the main event at WrestleMania. I think Bryan starts his redemption story Sunday night.
The latest NXT live special, NXT Takeover R Evolution, is tonight at 8pm on the WWE Network. It’s no longer free, so if you enjoy great wrestling, do yourself a favor and fork over the $10 to watch this show. Picture a place where everything you want to happen on Raw happens, except the wrestling’s better and the storylines are more personal. Takeover R Evolution is headlined by a title vs. career match, plus the much anticipated debut of a future star. Let’s get to the preview!
Kevin Owens Debuts
I wanted to give Owen’s debut it’s own spot because this a big deal. I’ve blogged his vignettes that NXT has been airing for the last three weeks leading up to tonight, and I’ll say it again: no one has a better back story before their debut than Kevin Owens. All his peers have made it to the big time while he had to keep fighting for recognition, and now is his chance to prove to everyone that he’s right where he belongs.
Prediction: I’m not sure what part of the show Owen’s will debut in, but if I had to guess, it’d be during the Zayn vs. Neville title match. There’s no one better to pair Owen’s up with than Zayn, as they have a built in chemistry from their days on the independent circuits. The stipulation for the title match if that if Zayn loses, he quits, so it’s more of a self imposed stipulation rather than one that forces NXT to let him go if he loses. I can easily see Owens debuting to cost Zayn the title, and Zayn sticking around to get revenge and finally obtain that killer instinct that has alluded him for his NXT run thus far.
Hideo Itami & Finn Balor vs. The Ascension
This is going to be a showcase match for Balor & Itami, and I can’t wait for it. The one thing I hope WWE is careful with is bringing in these already established stars and changing them up too much. WWE has it in their head that the “WWE way of wrestling” is the best way and that’s not always the case. They needed guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk to come in and make the grappling look more realistic, and that’s exactly what Balor and Itami can do as well. I’m torn between whether this will be a squash match or if The Ascension will be booked strong as well, but either way, the result will be the same.
Prediction: Balor and Itami get a strong win over established guys, and The Ascension are now that much closer to debuting on the main roster, hopefully revitalizing the still stagnant tag team division. If you’ve never seen Balor or Itami fight before, prepare for a great, stiff match, with a lot of kicks and a lot of action. Also, Finn Balor has promised something new and different for The Ascension tonight. Please let it be the body paint.
NXT Women’s Title Match: Charlotte (C) vs. Sasha Banks
Up until Raw, I was 100% confident that Sasha Banks would win this match, and that Charlotte would be debuting on the main roster soon thereafter. Then the atrocity that was the Charlotte vs. Natalya match happened on Raw, and it looks like they’re going in a different direction. People who blog about wrestling on the internet tend to be incredibly negative, and I try to stay away from that, but what was the point of having Charlotte lose like that on Raw? I’m assuming they put their NXT Women’s Champion on Raw three days before the live special so people who don’t normally watch NXT could watch her and be enticed to watch her again on Thursday. Why the hell would anyone want to watch Charlotte fight on NXT after seeing her get rolled up in 2 minutes on Raw? It’s not like she lost to the Divas champ, either. She lost to Natalya, the same Diva she’s already beaten in NXT. It’s mind blowing WWE would mess that up that badly, and it looks like they’re going to keep Charlotte down in NXT longer, since the vibe she has now is that she can’t hang in the big leagues yet.
Prediction: Charlotte wins, and looks strong as I think Becky Lynch will play some kind of role in this match. Bayley has the “leg injury”, but she could also come into play as well. If I’m writing NXT, I want my Women’s Champion to look as strong as possible after what happened on Raw. If she’s not coming up to the main roster soon, Charlotte should win this one.
NXT Tag Team Title Match: The Lucha Dragons (C) vs. The Vaudevillians
The Vaudevillians have all the momentum going into this match, thanks to the short film they aired on NXT that depicted the mini Lucha Dragons dying in an atomic bomb type explosion. It’s glorious, and if you haven’t seen it yet please watch the video above or basically any promo or vignette that involves The Vaudevillians mocking The Lucha Dragons. While the general rule in wrestling is whoever has the momentum going into the match usually loses, I think The Lucha Dragons are in trouble here. They’re exciting to watch and great in the ring, but The Vaudevillians are one of the best things going right now in NXT. Everything from their entrance to promos to in ring skill is clicking, and I think it’s time to reward them.
Prediction: We have new NXT Tag Team Champions. I’m not usually a fan of continually having the title change hands, as The Lucha Dragons have only been champs a couple months, but I think it’d be foolish not to ride the wave of momentum The Vaudevillians are currently on. I enjoy The Vaudevillians entrance so much that I’m always satisfied with their matches anyway, but I’m really hoping for a title change here.
NXT Title Match: Adrian Neville (C) vs. Sami Zayn
Quick recap: Sami Zayn is on his redemption tour, including recently being named NXT superstar of the year. He’s the most well rounded superstar in NXT right now, and he was a three count away from winning the NXT title, except he let his emotions cloud his judgment and instead of finishing off his opponent (Neville), he went to check on his injury, got rolled up and lost the match. The biggest storyline this year for Zayn has been “is he willing to do what it takes to be the top guy?”. Does he have that killer instinct that all the top superstars have had that not only got them to the top, but kept them there. I think the answer is yes, but there are a lot of factors at play here. The career vs. title stipulation, Owen’s impending debut, and most importantly, WWE’s plans for both Neville and Zayn going forward. As I stated before, Zayn has said he’ll quit in he loses, but I have to imagine that if Owens debuts and costs him the title, he’ll stick around to feud with him.
Prediction: It may be the most obvious, but I think the best outcome is Kevin Owens debuting and costing Sami Zayn the title which Neville retains. It benefits all parties involved: Neville stays in NXT as their champion, as I think he gets lost in the shuffle if they bring him up to the main roster now. Owens debuts and is introduced to the NXT audience and immediately put into a storyline that he knows he can thrive in. Zayn finally snaps after losing yet another big match, and he finally gets the edge he needs through his feud with the monster Kevin Owens.
I’ll be on Twitter tonight @averagenobodies tweeting along with the show. Hopefully you check it out because NXT will absolutely deliver a killer show.
October 8, 2014 isn’t a long time away from now, but there is still much to be decided before the opening night of the season for the Boston Bruins; especially after a less than desirable exit at the hands of their arch rivals, the Montreal Canadiens in round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Although training camp didn’t officially start until late last week, current Bruins, prospects, and rookies have been finding their way to Ristuccia Arena well ahead of organized team activities. Here’s what to watch for as the Bruins begin their quest toward Lord Stanley’s Cup.
-The Bruins return a solid core on offense headed into the season, but unlike training camp in the previous years, there seem to be anywhere from 1-4 available positions for the big club. Following the departures of Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla, the Bruins are looking to add two more wingers to their roster. However, there could be a third slot available if restricted free agent, Reilly Smith remains unsigned. While the talent pool of prospects the Bruins have brought in seems prominent with names like Alexander Khokhlachev and Ryan Spooner, among many others, Reilly Smith seems like the first option to make the club, should he re-sign with Boston.
-Another name making a lot of buzz since the NHL Entry Draft is David Pastranak. The 18 year old rookie has shown a lot of skill and maturity in his short time with the Bruins, and while this writer would like to see him make the team as the 13th forward, his size and toughness will be brought into question in the coming weeks. However, he will be given every chance to make the team as he has impressed a lot of the Bruins brass since being drafted 25th overall in June.
-The Bruins have also brought in veterans like Simon Gagne and Ville Leino for training camp. Gagne has been a solid player for the various teams he’s been with over his career, but that has to be taken with a grain of salt due to his injury history. Leino is coming off another disappointing season in Buffalo, after a promising start to his career in Philadelphia. His style of play could fit in well with the Bruins, but Boston may want to add younger, more skilled players to its 2014-2015 roster.
-Returning Forwards: P. Bergeron, B. Marchand, M. Lucic, D. Krejci, L. Eriksson, C. Soderberg, C. Kelly, G. Campbell, D. Paille, J. Caron(?).
-On the defensive end, the Bruins return one of the better shutdown units in the National Hockey League led by Zdeno Chara. Although it may seem like he has regressed in his recent years, much of the Bruins success lies with him.
-Personally, the storyline on the defensive side of the ice I’m looking forward to is the development of Dougie Hamilton. There will be a day when Chara retires, and at age 21, Dougie Hamilton looks to be the future of the defensive unit for Boston.
-The Bruins also hope to resign restricted free agent Torey Krug. Krug was integratl to both the Bruins back end and provided a spark on the power play. Although Bruins GM, Peter Chiarelli, believes they have 9 NHL caliber defenseman, it’s imperative to resign Krug due to the spark he provides with his offensive skill.
-Returning Defensemen: Z. Chara, D. Seidenberg, J. Boychuk, D. Hamilton, A. McQuaid, K. Millar, M. Bartkowski
-Now this is an easy one. Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes for the Bruins this season, and as the defending Vezina Trophy winner for the year’s best goaltender, he makes sure the Boston has a chance at 2 points every time they hit the ice.
-The Bruins backup goaltender position remains somewhat of a question. Last season, Chad Johnson performed extremely well in his as Tuukka’s backup, but with his departure the Bruins look to Niklas Svedberg or Malcolm Subban.
-Svedberg looks like the front runner due to his experience with minor league Providence Bruins, but Subban is progressing at a rapid rate and could surprise some in training camp. Ultimately, I believe the job will go to Svedberg, leaving Subban as the number 1 goalie in Providence for a few years to come.
Returning Goaltender: Tuukka Rask
There you have it ladies and gents, the state of the Boston Bruins just a few short weeks ahead of the season opener. The Bruins return a solid team that is most certainly a Stanley Cup contender. However, a lot of roster question marks remain after an early departure in the playoffs last season, but hopefully they will be answered in the coming weeks. Many of the returning players have been left with a bad taste in their mouth after a game 7 home loss to bitter rival, Montreal, so look for them to be hungry for a shot at redemption and ultimately another Stanley Cup this coming season. A lot can happen between then and now so look for another update or two prior to the first puck drop at the Garden, but until then Go Bruins!
p.s. As we get into the season, these will most certainly get shorter, but in the meantime, thanks for reading.