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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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The Updated #WWE #Summerslam Card & Previews For Every Match

Photo: WWE

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.

Confirmed Matches

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

Photo: WWE

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.

Additional Matches

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.

-Ryan

 

 

Carmella Is Officially The First Ever Ms. Money In The Bank #WWE #SmackdownLive

10 days ago, Carmella won the first ever women’s money in the bank ladder match. Not only was it a crappy match that seemed to end right when things were starting to happen, but Carmella only won when her sidekick/lackey James Ellsworth climbed the ladder for her, pulled down the briefcase and dropped it into her lap. Pro wrestling should not be the medium we gravitate towards when we’re looking for progressive storylines featuring their female wrestlers, and while times have changed, this is still the same company that had women wrestling in their underwear, or in pillow fights, or in kiddie pools full of pudding.

That still doesn’t excuse the fact that the WWE promoted this match every chance they got as a historic ‘first ever’ match for the five women involved, and that good, bad or indifferent, people would be talking about this match for a long time. When Ellsworth casually climbed the ladder and pulled down the briefcase, it was a slap in the face to every women on the roster and to all the fans. In what should’ve been a defining moment for Carmella, all anyone could talk about was how bogus it was that Ellsworth had to climb the ladder and get the briefcase for her. That wasn’t the right time to drag out a storyline; it was the time to back up all their ‘historic’ talk and let the women go out and make actual history.

WWE righted the ship a bit last night, but I’ll never understand why this wasn’t the finish booked for the first match. James Ellsworth climbed the ladder, almost had the briefcase, but Becky Lynch saved the day and pushed him off the ladder, crotch chopping himself on the top rope. That allowed Carmella enough time to knock Becky off the ladder, hit her a few times with a chair, and grab the briefcase. Storyline wise, that’s a smart heel using the match stipulations to her advantage to pickup a win. Reality wise, a woman is the one at the top of the ladder grabbing the briefcase, which is a mind boggling thing to have to be specific about in your inaugural women’s money in the bank match. I’m glad that Carmella still won, because that saves us from the ‘I’m the REAL money in the bank winner’ storyline between her and whoever else could’ve won last night, but this should’ve been the finish from the get go. Either way, congrats to Carmella, the first ever Ms. Money in the Bank.

-Ryan

#WWE Has Announced It’s First Ever Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match #SmackdownLive

The SmackDown LIVE Women’s division is once again about to prove just how ground-breaking it can be. At WWE Money in the Bank, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Tamina and Carmella will compete in the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. – WWE

Photo: WWE

The Women’s Revolution has been an uneven ride so far. While there have certainly been highs (WrestleMania 32 triple threat) there have also been lows (Bayley’s ‘This is Your Life’ segment from RAW) and the storytelling has been inconsistent at best. There’s no doubt that these current crop of women are talented, but if the creative direction could catch up with their skill level they’d really have something special. While the Women’s division have main evented a pay per view and fought inside Hell in a Cell over the last year, the next logical step was a MITB ladder match.

I’m not overly excited to watch Tamina Snuka slowly climb a ladder, but there’s a ton of talent in this match that I’m hopeful are given some creative spots to steal the show. While Charlotte and Becky will be the favorites, this could be the best time to give Natalya her long overdue spotlight. She’s far and away the veteran of the Women’s division, and winning the first ever Women’s MITB match would be a great tip of the cap to her.

-Ryan

Mick Foley & Daniel Bryan Are The General Managers Of #RAW & Smackdown Live

Raw was live from Providence, RI last night and as always, the Average Nobodies were in attendance. It was a really solid show, with a fun opening segment, a great 12 man tag match in the middle and a fantastic title match to close the show. The main reason(s) the opening segment was so much fun is because Stephanie and Shane McMahon named their GM’s for Raw and Smackdown live. Leading up to the show, I had a feeling that the GM’s would be fan favorites, and the picks did not disappoint. First, Stephanie introduced Mick Foley as the new GM of Raw, and the building went nuts. Foley’s reaction paled in comparison to Shane’s pick though, as Daniel Bryan was introduced as the GM of Smackdown live. The last time Raw was in Providence, Daniel Bryan got one of the best crowd reactions I’ve ever been apart of live, so it’s not a surprise people went bonkers for him last night. As far as the actual picks for GM’s go, I couldn’t love them more. One of the most understated reasons NXT is so great is William Regal. He’s a fair, logical authority figure who enhances the product and has zero ego. As fun as Steph & HHH are at times, they do more to put down talents, whether it be verbally or physically, and let their ego get in the way of enhancing the show. With Foley and DB, WWE now has two authority figures who fans already have an invested relationship with, and who can relate to the wrestlers in a way that will make for compelling television. If the writing teams can get their acts together, this brand split could be one of the best things WWE has done in a long time. Smackdown Live should be must see TV, and I can’t wait to see who ends up where.

-Ryan

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