Welcome to the inaugural Great Balls Of Fire results post. If you have the WWE Network, you can watch this show anytime, and I would recommend it ten times over. I’m looking to create a fresh approach to wrestling review posts, so I’m going to compare my prediction for each match with the actual end result, and add in some analysis as well.
If you haven’t read my predictions post, you can find that here.
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Cruiserweight Championship – Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa
Prediction: All hail King Neville
Result: Neville is still your Cruiserweight champion. Neville has been dominating the Cruiserweight division for the entire calendar year, and he wasn’t going to lose his title on the pre show of a show called Great Balls Of Fire. These two got around 13 minutes and had a really fun match, which is something we should always be saying about the cruiserweights. I’ll never understand why they’re only given a few minutes of time on certain Raw’s, especially when they always deliver in spots like this.
Neville winning with a transition move was an interesting choice, and makes me think these two will square off again soon. Best parts of the match for me were Neville kicking Tozawa in the head to the ‘AH’ chants by the crowd, as well as former NXT champion Neville studying current NXT champion Bobby Roode and rolling out of the ring after Tozawa hit his Senton finish. Solid show opener.
Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins
Prediction: Seth Rollins
Result: Here was my reaction to Bray Wyatt defeating Seth Rollins:
There was a meme circulating on Twitter prior to last night’s show, and it was a sobering graphic of the Bray Wyatt character. His career win loss record was 182-424-10 heading into last night’s match, which tells you everything you need to know about Bray. I don’t care how good of a character he is, you can’t lose 70% of your matches and expect fans to take anything you say seriously. While it was nice to see him win last night, it’s hard not to think that this was a ‘win the battle, lose the war’ situation. Bray’s wins always come with a disclaimer, because we’ve seen him lose so many big matches in the past. These two clearly have great chemistry in the ring, but if this feud is continuing, they’re going to need to create a more compelling build.
Enzo vs. Cass
Prediction: Double DQ brawl
Result: Cass wins. I was hoping for a double DQ brawl for this match so the feud would extend to Summerslam in Brooklyn, but that might’ve been asking too much. Cass should always maul Enzo, especially in his current role, and I thought this was a nice progression for heel Cass. Enzo cut another amazing, impassioned promo before the match, and his character work over the last three weeks should not go unnoticed. He knew he had no shot going into this match, but he wasn’t going to give up until Cass literally knocked him out. I don’t know where Enzo goes from here, but I hope the people in charge are paying to attention to how crowds have been responding to him.
Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro/Sheamus vs. The Hardy’s
Prediction: Time limit draw
Result: Cesaro/Sheamus successfully defend their titles. I thought this match was executed perfectly within the stipulations, especially when you have one of the best baby face teams of all time in The Hardy’s. They’ve always thrived when fighting from underneath, so having Cesaro & Sheamus got up 2-0 10 minutes in was a smart choice. The Hardy’s weren’t able to tie it up until very late in the match, and by that time they had pretty much expended all of their energy.
I loved that Cesaro won the deciding fall by outsmarting the Hardy’s with a bling tag and a quick pin on Jeff after he hit Sheamus with the Swanton. Cole explaining that Cesaro/Sheamus would win the tag titles if the falls were tied after 30 minutes took the wind out of my sails a little bit, because if came to it there definitely should’ve been a sudden death fall, but that’s a minor complaint for an otherwise entertaining half hour match. Now if we could just do this match again with The Revival subbed in for The Hardy’s my life would be complete.
Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Result: Sasha Banks via count out. This was the only decision of the night that I wasn’t a big fan of. I don’t mind heel champions utilizing the DQ/count-out finish to retain their title, but it always feels a little cheap when it happens on a pay per view. I didn’t like it when the Uso’s did it at Money in the Bank and I didn’t like it here. The match itself was decent, and we learned that Sasha Banks doesn’t watch Smackdown as she fell for the Alexa Bliss double jointed stunt that she pulled on Becky Lynch. Before the match could really get going Bliss got herself counted out, which caused Sasha Banks to whoop some ass after the match. I have to imagine these two will continue to feud, possibly with a no DQ match on an upcoming Raw or at Summerslam. Hopefully Nia Jax gets added to the story too, because everything is better when Nia Jax is throwing women around.
IC Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Dean Ambrose
Result: Miz, with a little help from the Miz-tourage. First of all – I love the Miz-tourage. Curtis Axel decided to wear his finest vest, while Bo Dallas dressed up as a mix of Stevie Van Zandt & The One Man Gang. LOOK AT HIM:
The match was OK, but these two needed to stop wrestling each other months ago. There are no more stories to tell. Also, I understand Ambrose is this lunatic character, but when Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas and Maryse are all at ringside, you should probably expect some outside interference. The two things I wanted from this match were The Miz to leave with the title and for the match to have an ending that would finally finish this feud. I guess 1 of 2 things aren’t bad, but I am not looking forward to watching these two continue to interact and wrestle until the end of time.
Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Prediction: Braun Strowman
Result: Braun Strowman, although not as definitive as I would’ve liked. It’s probably too much to ask to have Braun continue to physically dominate Roman Reigns, but I liked how Braun won this match with his brain instead of his brawn. Braun hurt himself running at Reigns and taking off an ambulance door, so when Reigns was sizing him up for a match clinching spear, he turned the tables on Roman and dodged it, causing Roman to dive into the ambulance and lose the match. Watching these two continue to battle has been a ton of fun, and goes to show you that certain guys can wrestle each other for a long time but still keep it entertaining. Braun and Roman are the opposite of Miz/Ambrose, and I wouldn’t mind watching these two do battle over and over again.
My favorite spot from the match was Roman hammering Braun with steel chairs, Braun eating those chair shots while simultaneously screaming “hit me you son of a bitch!”. That’s some star making stuff right there. The real story happens after the match, as Roman escapes the ambulance and beats up Braun, shoves him into the ambulance and drives him backstage. While Curt Hawkins & Heath Slater have an impromptu match, Roman literally commits attempted murder, as he backs the ambulance into a trailer with Braun Strowman inside. I loved everything about the post match attack, and it had an Attitude era unpredictable feel to it, and once again made Braun Strowman look like an unstoppable monster. Reigns is also kind of justified in his actions, because Braun did try to murder him via ambulance tipping, so he’s just returning the favor. The lasting image of this match will be Braun, beaten and battered, still standing and still ready to tear Roman Reigns apart. Fantastic moment.
Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Samoa Joe
Prediction: As great as Joe has been, 100% healthy Brock Lesnar isn’t mortal. Lesnar retains in a brutal fight.
Result: All you could ask for, as Samoa Joe looked like a star but Brock Lesnar ultimately won.
How cool is it that Samoa Joe has been on the main roster for 6 months and was fighting in the main event against Brock Lesnar for the top title on Raw? Not only that, but Joe was situated as a legitimate threat against one of the most fierce competitors in WWE history, and he not only held his own last night, but he kicked Brock Lesnar’s ass for almost the entire match. I loved everything about this match, and while it would’ve been cool and shocking to have Joe win, I think Lesnar winning was the right call. Similar to Joe’s wonderful run in NXT, he came into the match with a plan and executed it perfectly.
He attacked Lesnar pre match to weaken him, and never wavered in his assault on the champ. The only problem is that Brock Lesnar is not a mortal man, and Joe was never able to lock in the Coquina Clutch. This was a simply laid out match that forced Lesnar to actually wrestle and work for the first time in forever, and I liked how the match ended on one finisher. If Joe was able to lock in the Clutch before Lesnar was able to hoist him up for the F-5, he would’ve been the new champ. Lesnar was able to nail his finisher first, so he won, but not before he took a beating. Great main event.
WWE has announced that the first-ever Mae Young Classic women’s tournament will take place Thursday, July 13, and Friday, July 14, from Full Sail Live in Orlando, Fla.
Tickets will go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. ET via www.nxttickets.com.
The tournament, named after WWE Hall of Famer and one of the greatest WWE Superstars in history, Mae Young, will feature 32 of the top female competitors from around the world participating in a single-elimination tournament. The unprecedented event will stream later this summer exclusively on WWE Network.
“The Mae Young Classic will mark a significant moment in the evolution of WWE,” said Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events and Creative. “We are proud to provide this unique opportunity for the best female talent from around the world.”
Additional information on the Mae Young Classic will be announced in the coming weeks. – WWE.COM
There’s been rumblings for some time now regarding a WWE sponsored women’s tournament, and now we have an official name and dates. The Mae Young Classic, named after women’s wrestling pioneer Mae Young, will take place July 13 and 14 at Full Sail University (the home of NXT). The Cruiserweight Classic and UK Tournament that WWE put on over the past year were both excellent, so I’m excited to see which women from around the world WWE can get for this event. Tournament’s like this really open your eyes to all the great wrestling that is happening on a daily basis, and I’m sure I’ll fall in love with a few new faces like I did with Kota Ibushi, Cedric Alexander, Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne.
Modern day fans might only know Mae Young as the crazy old lady who gave birth to a hand and got power bombed through a table by the Dudleyz (which happened a day after her 77th birthday!) but she was wrestling as far back as the late 30’s. Mae Young had a match in the 1930s and the 2000s, which might be one of the craziest things I’ve ever typed. She’s a WWE Hall of Famer, and someone who’s name deserves to be attached to what should be a fantastic showcase for women’s wrestling.
— WWE (@WWE) April 11, 2016
I know it’s only been two weeks, and the Raw after WM is always great, but how GREAT have these last two Raw’s been? Ignoring Shane’s match with The Undertaker at WM, this has been a great storyline. Ideally they would have had Shane come back and say he wants to take charge of the WWE, only for Vince to give him a shot on a trial basis. Shane would succeed, and the WWE Universe would support him, and eventually he would take over as Raw GM full time. Since WWE is not an ideal universe, they had to throw Shane vs. Undertaker at WM in there, have Shane lose, and then have him become Raw GM anyway. Maybe Vince really wanted to see him jump off the cell? Either way, the WWE is on an upward swing creatively for the first time in forever. Let’s look at what’s happened these past two Raw’s:
- No Authority, meaning no long winded promos that accomplish nothing.
- A logical, showing his work GM that sets up feuds and matches that make sense
- The debuts of Apollo Crews, Enzo & Cass, Baron Corbin and Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
- Two of the four debuts above have instantly reinvigorated the tag team division
- A tag team tournament (with actual tag teams!) to determine the #1 contender for the belts
- Cesaro returning and becoming the #1 contender for the IC belt against a great heel with a new valet who he has great chemistry with (Miz and Maryse)
- AJ Styles becoming the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
- Bray Wyatt finally getting a chance to look like a main event talent, which gives Reigns another contender beyond Styles
- Kevin Owens entering a feud with Shane McMahon – yes, please
There’s so much happening right now, and all of it makes perfect sense. Giving Raw a GM who has little to no ego and who explains why he’s doing what he’s doing allows us to just sit back and let the performers perform. Instead of trying to connect the dots and wonder why things are happening, we get to see the men and women interact in logical stories. This is such a great improvement over pre WM Raw and I really hope it keeps going. You can even have The Authority return over the summer and have them feud with Shane, and don’t forget that we haven’t seen Brock Lesnar either. You also have Rollins, Cena, and Orton coming back soon. I know it’s only a few Raw’s in a row, but this is a big step in the right direction. Let’s hope they keep it rolling.
Before we get into it, how amazing does that set look? I can’t wait to see the finished product. WrestleMania 32 is live this Sunday from Dallas, Texas. If you need more hype than that for WrestleMania, you’re in the wrong place. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
This one is kind of a toss up. You’d think if WWE was serious about Braun Strowman, they’d give him a ‘WrestleMania’ moment without having him actually have to wrestle a match. That moment should be right here. Big Show has already won it, and the rest of the guys in this match are literal throw away characters. There are reports of Cesaro returning and entering the battle royal, but he already won the inaugural one, and if Cesaro is coming back. they should put him in a more important spot than a pre-show battle royal.
Prediction: Braun Strowman eliminates everyone and wins.
Natalya, Paige, Brie, Alicia, Eva vs. Lana, Naomi, Tamina, Summer, Emma
The only two people I care about in this match are Paige and Evil Emma. I’d much rather them have had a weeks long feud that ended in a one on one match at WM, but I also understand that you want to get as many people on the card as you can. I have to assume Team Total Divas wins here, because they’re the only team with a team name. As long as Evil Emma gets some good spots, I’ll be happy with either outcome.
Prediction: Team Total Divas
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Uso’s
Give me a flaming table. That’s all I’m asking for in this match. No one has to go through it, but I want it and I need it. Heel Dudley Boyz are far and way the best Dudley Boyz, and they are really only here to put over other tag teams, which is fine. Bubba Ray and Devon helped revolutionize the tag team division 15 years ago at WM17, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to give them some cool spots this year. Regardless of the outcome of this match, Enzo & Cass are showing up on Raw Monday night and taking over.
The League of Nations vs. The New Day
If you need visual proof that the WWE tag team scene is awful, look no further than the fact that the tag titles aren’t being defended at WM. Thankfully we’re still getting our New Day fix, even though it is against the League of Nations. Personally, I think this would be a perfect spot for The Rock. You want New Day to get over as good guys, so why not bring out the most popular guy in the world and have him even the odds? Chances are Rocky will come up and cut a promo, but this would be a fun and unexpected cameo that would help New Day immensely. League of Nations are bad, and I refuse to pick them to win either way.
Prediction: New. Day Rocks.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
If you can ignore the fact that this feud has been centered around crowd chants, it’s been pretty entertaining. Much like the Dudleyz, Heel Jericho is forever the best Jericho, and he’s been great during his most recent run. Pairing Styles with a veteran like Jericho for his first WM feud and singles match is very smart, and I fully expect these two to put on a show. I think Styles goes over, and has his first big time WM moment with a Styles Clash win.
Prediction: AJ Styles
US Championship Match: Kalisto (C) vs. Ryback
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been digging the simplicity of this feud. Ryback is enormous. Kalisto is not. Kalisto is champion. Ryback is not. And just like that, you have a David & Goliath feud with the good guy champion and the logical heel. The only thing that really makes Ryback a heel is that he wants to beats up the guy we’re rooting for. He has every right to win matches and become the #1 contender, but we like Kalisto better so Ryback is a jerk. It’s refreshing to see WWE build up a feud without having the two competitors wrestle each other every week to see who will eventually win a wrestling match. Also, the less Ryback speaks the better off we all are. As far as the outcome, this one could really go either way, but if they’re serious about Ryback again, they should give him this win.
IC Championship Ladder Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, The Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder
Picture this: five guys are laid out on the floor, the two remaining guys are slowly ascending up the ladder. They both reach the top at the same time and start trading punches. Who are you picturing? Zack Ryder & Sin Cara, right? HAHAHA. Sorry, I had to do that. But yeah, the only two guys who matter in this match are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and if you think otherwise you’re wrong. Much like last year, this match does include seven very talented guys who are all looking to have their WM moment, so I expect some crazy stuff to go down, especially since they know Shane/Taker is going to be insane. I don’t see any other outcome than having the last two standing be Zayn and Owens, and from there I’m happy with any outcome, because these two will be feuding until they’re 100 years old.
Prediction: Kevin Owens. KO Mania lives!
Diva’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks
This is the match I’m the most excited for. The three main events will all be wonderful, but I started really getting into NXT during the Paige/Emma/Charlotte/Becky/Sasha/Bayley era and I feel emotionally invested in all three of these women. I’ve seen them start as NXT Divas and transform into the cream of the crop not only in NXT, but throughout the world. Now they’re in a Diva’s title match at WrestleMania and have a chance to tear the house down in front of 90,000 people. That’s pretty surreal. As much as I like Charlotte and Becky, this is Sasha’s time. They’re supposedly debuting the Women’s title on Raw the night after Mania, and there is no better pick than Sasha to be the champion. She is the rare combination of the most over female on the roster and also the best wrestler. Have Ric Flair interfere only to be taken out by Snoop Dogg. GIVE THAT TO ME, WWE.
Prediction: Sasha Banks
Street Fight: Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose
Just typing ‘street fight’ followed by ‘Brock Lesnar’ makes me nervous. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this match, but I know it’s going to be brutal. I honestly think the right call is having Lesnar win, and having Ambrose get stretchered out only to walk out under his own power. Give him all the crazy spots in the world, but one mortal man should not be able to defeat Brock Lesnar. Ambrose is going to come with his wagon of weapons, which I’d bet my life on Brock Lesnar picking up and heaving at him at one point during the match. This should be a spotlight for Ambrose, who has been a shining star during this insane stretch of injuries, but I don’t see him beating Lesnar. Between this and Shane/Taker, I really hope no one gets seriously hurt.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Hell in a Cell Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
This is hands down the oddest match on the card, and if you told me 10 years ago that WM 32 would be semi main evented by The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon I’d say I like you, but you’re crazy. But here we are, and to be honest, I am scared. Shane McMahon gave The Undertaker a flying elbow drop through a table during the opening segment of RAW, so what the hell are these two going to do at WrestleMania? I sincerely think Shane is jumping off the cell. I won’t be mad if he doesn’t, because that is very dangerous, but he’s jumping off something really high that’s going to make me watch through a hand over my eyes. Besides the insane spots, I want this to be like HHH vs. Sting last year. There’s no reason to make these two carry a 25 minute one on one match. Get the Mean Street Posse out there. Give me Stone Cold, HBK, Vince, Mick Foley. Let’s just go bananas. This is going to be as fun as it will be scary, and I cannot god damn wait. The added stipulations of Shane winning and taking control of Raw and Undertaker losing making it his final WM are intriguing, but this is definitely not the last year for Undertaker at WM.
Prediction: The Undertaker
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: HHH (C) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE really likes this Roman Reigns guy, eh? For the second year in a row, Reigns is in the main event of WM, and for the second year in a row, the majority of fans are not having it. Last year WWE made the last second change to have Seth Rollins cash in his MITB briefcase and it was executed perfectly. This year, they don’t have Seth Rollins or the MITB briefcase to fall back on. They can’t just have Reigns win clean, especially if he overcomes the odds of interference, but having him lose the main event title match two years in a row isn’t great either. You can’t really pull off a double turn either, because HHH is also the evil authority figure that is integral to so many storylines on Raw. Apparently there has been discussion about putting on Taker/Shane last, which might be the better call, especially if they have some insane stuff planned. Even if this isn’t the main event, the goal cannot be to have the crowd mercilessly boo your new champion. I have no idea what’s going to happen. Maybe Cena shows up, but then what? Maybe the Dudleyz interfere, but then what? Don’t sleep on Bray Wyatt either, who could cause a DQ finish or take one or the other out. He doesn’t have a match on the card, and if he’s not featured at all that would be a huge mistake.
Prediction: if I’m forced to pick, I’m going to go with Reigns. I just don’t know how.
This Friday night, two days before WrestleMania 32, NXT will run it’s biggest and most important show to date. While this won’t be as big of a crowd as NXT Brooklyn, this is the first TakeOver event during WrestleMania weekend. NXT Takeover Dallas will air live on the WWE Network at 10pm. On paper, it has the ability to blow WrestleMania out of the water and force Vince and WWE to pull out all the stops in order to top it. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Apollo Crews vs. Elias Samson
This match was set up last week after Johnny Gargano beat Samson, and Samson beat him down post match. That post match beat down brought out Crews for the save and alas, a match was born. Even if NXT is giving Samson the Baron Corbin treatment (short, quick wins even though he has the ability to wrestle anyone on the roster and look good) this should be a squash win for Crews. He lost at the last TakeOver special to Corbin, and he has really hasn’t had much character development since debuting. He’s got a boat load of potential and is a phenomonal athlete, so I can see him winning rather easily here to get on track. Samson, on the other hand, has been underwhelming since debuting both in the ring and as a character. I hope we see a little more character work here, but I still think Crews should take it.
Prediction: Apollo Crews
Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin
This is a really interesting match up. You have an Indy darling making his NXT in ring debut vs. a guy who has a lot of momentum going for him after his win vs. Apollo Crews. This match will most likely be great, and I’m excited to see Corbin in there with a smaller guy, which is where he has done his best work so far. Aries excelled in TNA, but it’s not a given that his transition will be smooth. I think Corbin will be next in line to challenge either Joe or Balor, so look for him to pick up the win here. The best thing about NXT: Aries will look like a star in defeat.
Prediction: Baron Corbin
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
Just to get this out of the way, this will be the match of the night. I love American Alpha and I think they might pull out some stuff that could be match of the night worthy, but this match gives me goose bumps. Nakamura is one of two guys debuting at TakeOver Dallas, and no offense to Austin Aries, but this is BIG. NXT being the wonderful thing that it is has matched up Nakamura against the perfect opponent – Sami Zayn. This is one of those matches where alignments don’t matter; it’s just two guys who are excellent at what they do going out there and putting on a show. Of all the matches, this one is the easiest to predict, especially now that Zayn has an IC title match at WM and is pretty much a permanent member of the main roster. Out of all the things that are going to happen at TakeOver, Nakamura’s debut is what I’m the most excited for. He’s fought in Japan his whole life, so outside of YouTube compilation videos, I’ve never gotten a chance to see him perform. The good news is that everyone who has ever seen him wrestle says he’s not only great in the ring, but his charisma is off the charts. Anyone who considers Freddie Mercury an idol is OK in my book. Anyway, the outcome of this match isn’t in doubt, but the match itself is going to be bonkers.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Revival (C) vs. American Alpha
In what will be the 1A match of the night, American Alpha takes on The Revival (formerly Dash and Dawson) for the NXT tag belts. This is the match I’m the most emotionally invested in, because American Alpha are my jam. They’re the best tag team on any WWE related roster, and they came from out of nowhere. Remember when Jason Jordan was looking for a tag team partner and this short, dorky guy with a ‘ready, willing & Gable’ towel was following him around? Yeah, well that guy ended up being Chad Gable, the second coming of Kurt Angle and one hell of a wrestler. I have to imagine Enzo & Cass were slotted to win the tag belts at one point, but once HHH and the rest of the NXT brain trust saw the momentum Gable & Jordan were creating, it was impossible to put them anywhere but in this slot. The Revival are very old school in their approach and in ring styles, and I love that it feels like they can lose the belts at any given moment. They remind me of Ole and Arn Anderson, who were never the focal point of the tag matches they were in, but they always came out looking great. With that said, I will be devastated if American Alpha doesn’t win the tag belts. This is the perfect team at the perfect time, and Dallas is going to go INSANE for Jordan and Gable. I have complete confidence NXT will do the right thing.
Prediction: American Alpha
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Bayley (C) vs. Asuka
Is this match card real life? There isn’t one bad match on the card and there are 4 or 5 REALLY good ones. From the day Asuka debuted and started beating the crap out of everyone, you know this match was an inevitability. Bayley is the crown jewel of NXT, but she’s running into an oncoming train. I think this match and the main event will have the crowd’s split pretty evenly, because all four competitors are just so good. Asuka has yet to be defeated in NXT, and I love that they aren’t beating that point to death. Undefeated streaks in wrestling, except for maybe Taker’s WM streak, are the most overrated thing in the world. Asuka’s seems different, though, and I think it’s because she’s so different from any other women in the division. Her attire is different, her entrance is difference and her wrestling style is different. She doesn’t really speak, but when she’s in the ring, she is kicking and back handing you until you collapse in a heap. Bayley is probably the best ‘character’ in NXT, and I put character in quotes because she seems like the same person in real life. A wrestling fan who got to live her dream, and who ended up being great at it. This match could go a few different ways, but I’m rooting for a Bayley win and a post match beat down from Asuka, which sets up a dynamite heel/baby face rematch.
NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor (C) vs. Samoa Joe
This main event is going to be so good. SO GOOD. Joe and Balor had a decent match at TakeOver London, but they’re capable of so much more. At NXT’s biggest show, I think we’re going to get a classic. Balor is the second longest reigning NXT Champion, and he’ll be 17 days behind Adrian Neville’s reign by the time this match starts. Do they want to make Finn the longest reigning champion, or do they want the reign of Samoa Joe to lead them into the next chapter of NXT? Either outcome won’t be wrong, because both guys are great, but I sense some kind of swerve coming. The one thing NXT hasn’t really done is use a swerve to determine a main event at a TakeOver. Owens attacked Zayn after he won the NXT title, but that was post match. Every Finn Balor main event has been him winning clean. Here’s what I think goes down: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows debut, but they turn on Finn and start the new version of the Bullet Club with Samoa Joe as champion. Maybe they were mad at Finn for leaving Japan without them, or maybe they want to get out from underneath his shadow. Finn and NXT have been teasing the Bullet Club for awhile, and I wouldn’t put it past them to swerve us. This will go down as the greatest NXT show ever, and I cannot wait to watch it.
P.S. We’ll be live tweeting the event, which starts at 10pm on the WWE Network.
How amazing are those pictures? The traders on the NYSE floor haven’t been this scared since Bane and his henchman broke in and started smashing skulls. WrestleMania week is great for a lot of reasons, but I can’t think of any reason being better than a cult leader and his bearded monsters ringing the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange in full character. Now let’s just get Wyatt to play an integral role in a main event match Sunday and all will be well with the world.
There are two WrestleMania main events that could be in serious jeopardy heading into Saturday’s Roadblock live event, and depending on the outcome, that could be great news for the WWE. On paper, WWE Champion HHH vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar in a street fight are both solid matches. There’s only one problem: nobody wants to believe in Roman Reigns. After WWE dropped the ball and had Reigns lose the Rumble to a returning Batista over two years ago, Roman hasn’t had the same momentum with the crowd. Daniel Bryan became their crown jewel, and even after he was sidelined numerous times with injuries, the WWE Universe just wasn’t ready to coronate Reigns as their next leader. Roman has been absent the last few weeks, recovering from real life nasal surgery after the beat down from HHH, where the crowd cheered as the heel champ bloodied the baby face challenger. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that that isn’t the reaction the WWE wants going into WrestleMania.
While Reigns has been MIA the last few weeks, Dean Ambrose has been alive and well. His feud with Brock Lesnar has brought a necessary physicality to WWE storylines, and win or lose this Saturday, Ambrose is going to be in one of the main events of WrestleMania. Where things get interesting is the recent reaction to Ambrose/HHH, which will culminate this Saturday at Roadblock. While fans cheered Reigns’ beat down, they reacted negatively to HHH beating down Ambrose a few weeks ago, and erupted when he hit a Dirty Deeds out of nowhere and grabbed the WWE title. It’s easy to see why fans resonate with Ambrose over Reigns: one is organic, natural and more of a ‘common man’; the other is The Juggernaut, The Big Dog and every other nickname that continues to distance himself from the fans that he is supposed to represent. Microphone work has always been a big part of what makes a WWE star, but it’s more than that with Reigns. The way he is presented and the way he continually is given odds to overcome is tiring. Why should I care that Reigns has ANOTHER title shot at WrestleMania. He’s already been given so many shots, and even won one, that at this point it’s already old news. I’m not saying Ambrose has to win Saturday, although that would be crazy and welcome, but something needs to happen outside of the status quo. As of now Reigns isn’t advertised for Roadblock, so let’s go over a few scenarios whether he ends showing up or not.
Worse Case Scenario: HHH wins, Reigns saves Ambrose from a beat down
This is the most likely scenario, especially if you go off of WWE’s recent booking of Reigns, but it’s the absolute worst case scenario. As I mentioned above, this isn’t a ‘Ambrose loses or we riot’ situation, but they should not portray Ambrose as the little brother who needs big brother Roman’s help. The build up over the last few weeks for HHH/Ambrose has been so perfect, that it’d be a shame to neuter Ambrose by having Roman rescue him. I understand Roman wants his revenge on HHH, but save it for another night. There are a few factors in our favor that suggest this scenario might not happen. HHH has used heel factions, The Wyatt’s and the League of Nations, to beat down Ambrose the last few weeks. WWE is running a live event in Atlantic City opposite Roadblock, and Del Rio, Harper and Strowman are all advertised in matches. With Bray and possibly Erik Rowan tied up with Lesnar earlier in the evening, that only leaves a few member of the League of Nations available for a possible run-in post match. While that still leaves the possibility open for Sheamus, Barrett and Rusev to interfere, I really hope it doesn’t happen.
Middle of the Road Scenario: HHH wins
This is the second most likely scenario. I don’t really see Ambrose winning this match straight up (although it would be amazing) and I’m willing to accept any outcome except the one outlined above. I really do think this will be a great, hard fought match that will continue to put over Ambrose as a top star, but I just don’t think they’ll give him a World title win yet. I could see the League of Nations possibly interfering in this match, giving HHH the win by default, or interfering with a knocked down referee to build the suspense & have HHH win anyway. This could possibly bring out the slowly turning baby face New Day to assist. This is a live event after all, so don’t rule out something like that to close the show.
Coolest If Not Best Case Scenario: Dean Ambrose Wins
How crazy would this be? The hands down best thing about the Attitude Era was the fact that at any given moment, four or five people were vying for the title. Stone Cold, The Rock, Undertaker, Big Show, HHH, Mick Foley; it was never just a basic one on one feud, and it made things a whole lot more interesting. IF Ambrose wins, you now have Ambrose as the champion, HHH as the former champion, Lesnar who already has a match with Ambrose scheduled for WM and Reigns who is the rightful #1 contender. That gives you so many options. Fatal four way at WM, make Lesnar/Ambrose for the title and make Reigns have to defeat HHH to become #1 contender or any other scenario with those four guys. It’s a long shot at best, but I’m glad WWE has built the feud to where this is even a possibility. Saturday should be a blast, unless Roman comes back and superman punches everyone and I light myself on fire.
If you’re a casual wrestling fan, now is the time to watch WWE Raw. Between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, WWE consistently puts on it’s best weekly programming. They’re not all home runs, but they’re remarkably better than most Raw’s during other times of the year. Last night’s Raw was one of those home runs. After last week was extremely heavy on the promo’s, this week’s show focused more on the in ring segments, which is WWE’s strong suit with most of their top stars injured. We got a good promo from Shane and Vince to start the show, and a great back and forth between HHH and Ambrose later in the show, but all the highlights were of the physical variety. Let’s take a look.
After Shane and Vince verbally sparred back and forth and Vince stepped on a childhood photo of him and his son, Vince summoned security to take Shane out of the building. The only problem with that is that Shane O’ Mac was having none of it. He quickly dispatched security with rabbit punches and knee strikes, and the segment was made all the better because the Chicago crowd was hot for it. As a side note, Chicago crowds have a tendency to be self serving (CM Punk chants, I’m looking at you) but last night’s crowd was awesome, especially during this segment, the tag match and the closing angle. This segment did a lot better than last week’s, where Undertaker walked out, said a sentence and left. We still have three more Raw’s until WM, and while I don’t think it’s necessary for Taker and Shane to get physical, I would still like more of an explanation as to why Undertaker is actually competing in this match.
The WWE Divas Championship match is already set, so we’re probably in for segments where each Diva looks strong going into the biggest match in all three of these women’s careers. Of any match that’s already on the card or could be added, I’m most excited for this one. This is their chance to prove on the biggest stage that women’s wrestling matters on the main roster. I can’t wait.
As much as I’d rather get stabbed in both eyes instead of watching another distraction rollup win, at least Lana has something to do now. While a Brie Bella feud is almost always awful, the crowd obviously loves Lana, and she’s very athletic, so why not give her a chance and see what she can do. Plus, Brie’s entire family is falling apart, so why not give her one more WrestleMania moment before she retires.
They’re destined to do this forever. Kevin Owens beat Neville in a very good match, and it looked like Neville was going to fall victim to another pop up power bomb on the apron until SAMI ZAYN comes out for the save. Zayn and Owens feud in NXT was cut critically short due to the injury of Zayn and the fact that Owens was just too good to keep off the main roster, so if they’re going to get a WM feud right now I am all the way in. I don’t know if they’d do a 1 on 1 match or a multi-man match like last year, but either way, any version of Owens and Zayn is gold. Throw Neville in there and make it an IC Title/’Who’s the best NXT Champion on the main roster’ match. Either way, I am all the way in.
If I could pin point why this Raw was a gift from the Gods, it would be because Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio finally stopped feuding. Kalisto got a clean win over Tyler Breeze (who got a full entrance for the first time in forever) and Ryback continued to maul the Social Outcasts. Ryback and Kalisto even got promo time backstage where Ryback inexplicably name dropped every superhero movie he’s ever seen. As much as I love Kalisto, if he fights Ryback at WM their match should end when Ryback literally pulls him apart limb by limb.
This match was important for a number of reasons. The New Day, at least on the microphone, has kind of grown stale. They’re still kind of funny, but it seems more scripted than it used to be and that is always a bad thing. What this match proved though is that The New Day in the ring, specifically Big E and Kofi, are bananas. Big E catching human beings out of thin air and slamming them to the mat will never not be awesome and Kofi has eclipsed Dolph as the best seller on the roster. I could watch that AJ Styles backflip into a reverse DDT all day every day. Speaking of AJ Styles, anyone who had any doubts about how amazing he is should watch this match. He’s flying around the ring, looks great on offense and takes a believable beat down. The old veteran Jericho was also fantastic in this match, and this is his best run with the WWE since ‘Best in the World’ Jericho. Speaking of THAT Jericho, he’s back, baby. You sensed it was coming, but heel Jericho is so great that I didn’t care. Give me Chris Jericho stuffing shirts into people’s mouths and calling them sons of bitches and I’m a happy man. Great match and a great post match angle.
The difference between a good Raw and a great Raw is the stuff that happens after a fantastic match like the Tag Titles match. WWE’s roster is stacked with talent, so even on a bad show, they’re going to put on some fantastic matches. The problem is that the writing is inconsistent, so while some performers can overcome the writing and put on a great match, others can’t and the show goes downhill. That did not happen last night, and the main reason for that is Dean Ambrose. It’s hard to believe that a Raw in March without three of the top guys in three of the main event matches of WM (Reigns, Lesnar & Taker) could be this good, but that’s what happens when you let a guy like Ambrose connect with the crowd. Wyatt deserves some credit too, and as a Bray Wyatt super fan that interaction with HHH and the World Title at the end was INCREDIBLE, but Dean Ambrose is the shit right now. Not only does he out duel HHH in a promo earlier in the night, but he puts on a great match with Wyatt, gets beat down, and then summons enough energy to turn the tables on HHH and end the night with the belt in his hands. Also, don’t sleep on HHH selling Dirty Deeds like a goddamn champion. I saw a few people on Twitter complain about it, but they’re missing the point. With HHH selling it like a knockout blow, you just showed your audience that any given moment, Ambrose can pop up and hit that move and HHH will be forced to lay there like he got hit with a shovel. So now if HHH is murdering Ambrose on Saturday, we can revert back to that image and remember that at any moment, Ambrose could strike. I don’t know what’s going to happen Saturday night, but I know I’ll be watching, and that’s half the battle.