First off, what a goddamn segment. For too long Kevin Owens has been screwing around on Smackdown, and even when he was in a feud with someone as great as AJ Styles, it felt like something was missing. After watching this segment, the thing that was missing was the maniacal aggression he showed on the Indies and in NXT. It’s safe to say he’s found that again. Owens will take on Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell, which should be his rebirth, but last night he took out a different McMahon, and in doing so joined an exclusive club of all time superstars.
If you’re interacting with Vince McMahon inside a WWE ring, that’s a good thing 99% of the time. If Vince lets you beats him up AND bloody him, you’re on your way to something special. Stone Cold. The Undertaker. Brock Lesnar. CM Punk. Roman Reigns. That’s just a sample of the guys that have been in the ring with Vince and gotten over, and as Vince ages and falls into that beloved, insane grandpa role, beating him up brings out a sinister side in certain guys. That head butt from Owens was legit, and I like the uniqueness of the beat down. He wasn’t whaling on him with chairs or punching him in the head a bunch of times. One punch, one super kick and one frog splash, plus a tense stare down with Stephanie McMahon did the trick. The key will be for Owens to capitalize on this and make his Hell in a Cell match with Shane a match to remember. Shane O Mac is no stranger to making memorable moments, so that match should be something special.
There’s nothing quite like an upbeat, impossible to stop listening to song to get you ready for WrestleMania. The WWE gave Flo Rida a break this year and went with Pitbull for their theme song, and I’ve heard ‘Green Light’ so many times that now all I can think about is WrestleMania when I hear it. We’re only 9 days away from WM 33, and with one Raw and Smackdown left before the big show, almost all of the matches have either been made official or teased. Let’s take a look at the card.
Raw Universal Title Match
For better or worse, the top billed match for Raw (and most likely main event) at WrestleMania is Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg for the Universal Title. I understand this match from every angle except the creative one, because the WWE has set themselves up to have a 2 minute main event at their biggest show of the year. This isn’t the pessimistic side of me coming out, either. Goldberg is 50 years old, and he’s fought two matches since returning to the WWE. Both of those matches were under 2 minutes long. On top of that, Goldberg’s entire persona is built those kind of matches dating back to his time in WCW in the late 90’s. The general consensus is that Lesnar is going to maul him and take the title, which is fine, but it’s something that probably should’ve been done at Survivor Series and not in the main event of your biggest show.
Smackdown WWE Championship Match
If you want to see the differences between Raw and Smackdown, look no further than their championship matches at WM. While Raw’s features two part timers (if I’m being generous), Smackdown’s champion is a product of NXT who’s character has flourished for years before he finally become champion last month at Elimination Chamber. His opponent is a former rival turned follower turned rival again, and while Randy Orton has been doing this forever, he’s still a full time guy who I have no problem with being in a championship match. This story has been going on for months, and while it gets cloudy at times (especially when they had Orton refuse his title match, only to change his mind with very little reasoning explained) I’ve enjoyed it mainly because this is the spot Bray Wyatt should always be in. I’m not saying he always has to be champion, but his character is too unique and layered to be toiling around in the mid card. As fun as this story has been, the best part about the feud is that you know the match is going to deliver as well. That’s something that can’t be said about the Raw Title match.
Raw Women’s Championship
The story here is Bayley won the Women’s Championship from Charlotte with the help of her friend Sasha Banks. After a lot of back and forth and the unfortunate insertion of Stephanie McMahon into the fray, nothing really changed. Bayley is still the champ, Charlotte still feels (rightfully) screwed over and Sasha Banks is still Bayley’s best buddy. The X factor and fourth woman in this match is Nia Jax, who has steamrolled through the Women’s Division since debuting on Raw, even beating Bayley in a non title match on Monday. Last year’s women’s match featuring Charlotte/Sasha/Becky Lynch was far and away the best match on the show, so hopefully they bring a little bit of that magic here and give us a great match.
Smackdown Women’s Championship
While having Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss defend her title against EVERYONE is a little bit of a cop out, I have to imagine this was a decision that was made once Naomi got injured. Naomi won the belt at Elimination Chamber and had to forfeit it shortly thereafter, which is a shame because she’s an easy to root for baby face that could’ve had a good program with a solid match against any of the female heels on the Smackdown roster. The ‘one vs. all’ stipulation should give Smackdown a hard reset opportunity post Mania, and whoever walks out with the Title should be given the spotlight. With her forever feud against Nikki Bella now in the past, my money is on Natalya to walk out the champ.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
If I had to sum up the Raw Tag Team Division in one GIF, it would be this one:
No Division is in need of a reboot more than the Raw Tag Division, and hopefully after the triple threat match at Mania, that’s exactly what they’ll get. The talent is there: Gallows/Anderson, Enzo/Cass, Sheamus/Cesaro and New Day are the main four squads, and you have teams like the Shining Stars and R-Truth/Goldust that could sub in now and again. I have to imagine that a few NXT Tag Teams are getting promoted to the main roster after WM, so hopefully one of them gets sent to Raw and shake things up. As for this match, the story is all over the place, so it’s tough to be invested in any team. As much as I love Cesaro, he’s once again being wasted in a tag team, so I’m pulling for Gallows and Anderson to win and get a chance to be legitimate, heel champs.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
Unlike the Raw Tag division, Smackdown has two clear alpha dogs: American Alpha and The Uso’s. In an interesting twist, The Uso’s won the Tag Team Titles from American Alpha on Tuesday, but as you can see in the video above, they won under sketchy circumstances. While no official match has been made as of today, I have to imagine they’ll be adding a rematch to the WM card. American Alpha were one of the best Tag Teams in NXT history, but their popularity hasn’t transitioned to the main roster as quickly as I thought it would. A marque title win at WrestleMania could change that, and keep your fingers crossed that The Revival get added to Smackdown soon so we can get some real tag team wrestling on the main roster.
US Championship Match
The best and most emotionally satisfying feud heading into WM is easily Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens. Both of these guys have been brilliant for the past 9 months or so, and have really ramped things up since the Royal Rumble. Ignoring the name value of Lesnar/Goldberg, this match should have been for the Universal Title, and this is the match where Kevin Owens should cement himself as the best guy in the company. I think Owens comes out of this match as the US Champ and the best heel WWE has, so it’s not a total wash. Jericho deserves to ride off into the sunset after one of the best runs of his entire career, and hopefully Owens can channel his inner John Cena and bring some prestige back to the US Title picture.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Similar to many feuds on Smackdown, Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin’s beef started at Elimination Chamber. After Corbin was eliminated, he set his sights on Ambrose and beat the ever loving crap out of him. The Miz pinned an unconscious Ambrose, thus costing Dean a legitimate shot at winning the WWE Championship that night. Ambrose is still the IC Champion though, so Corbin has continued to taunt and attack Ambrose in the hopes of taking the title off him. Corbin is my pick for the most improved main roster player on either brand, and he’s really flourishing since being drafted to Smackdown. I’ve read rumors of this match possibly being No DQ, which would be great for Ambrose, as I have to imagine he’s anxious to make up for his dud against Brock Lesnar last year.
Cruiserweight Championship Match
The Cruiserweight Division was riding a wave of momentum after the Cruiserweight Classic, but they hit a brick wall once they debuted on Raw. There was nothing special or unique about them, and there was zero effort put into establishing the characters. TJ Perkins loved video games and Brian Kendrick was an angry pirate, and nobody cared. All that changed when Neville came on the scene, and thanks to great matches against Jack Gallagher and Rich Swann, plus the addition of Austin Aries, the Cruiserweight Division is riding a high into Mania. The Championship match features Neville defending against Aries, and along with Owens/Jericho, this match should steal the show.
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
Not every match on the Mania card is for a title, and the biggest non title match is Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker. What started off as a battle of yards was kicked up a notch on Monday night when Roman speared The Undertaker on Raw. Another guy to keep an on eye in this feud is Braun Strowman, who unfortunately hasn’t been featured as much as he should be. I understand that Reigns/Taker is the money matchup, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of someone as unique as Strowman. His combination of size, strength and speed is fascinating, and he shouldn’t be cowering away from The Undertaker at this stage in Taker’s career. As for Reigns/Taker, you have to imagine that the Orlando crowd is going to give Reigns hell all night, so if the WWE is smart, they’ll book Reigns as an asshole here. He doesn’t have to cheat to win, but he should be extra vicious in this match and give the crowd a real reason to boo him.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
How do you know it’s WrestleMania season? There’s always a few telltale signs: The Undertaker shows up, a Pitbull/Flo Rida song is playing every half hour and two or more people are staring and/or pointing at a bright sign that says WRESTLEMANIA. Those are all fun, but my favorite ongoing trend over the last few years has been Shane McMahon and his flying elbow drop. While I would’ve loved AJ Styles being involved in the World Championship match, that’s not his role at WM, and if there’s one thing he’s proved over the last 14 months, it’s that he excels in every spot the WWE has put him in. Honestly, he could have worse opponents, because not only will Shane give this match everything he’s got, he also brings name value, which pretty much guarantees this will be a top billed match. Styles is the definition of the cream rising to the top, so it won’t be long until he’s back in the title picture. This should be a fun match, and a good way to give Styles his first ever WM win.
Holds Harmless Match – HHH vs. Seth Rollins
HHH vs. Seth Rollins was originally booked for last year’s WrestleMania, but thanks to a devastating knee injury to Rollins, they delayed it a year. The match was almost delayed again after Rollins reinjured his knee, but it looks like he’ll be alright to go next Sunday. The stipulation, which was added on Monday, is that Rollins will have to sign a ‘hold harmless’ contract which would make it an unsanctioned fight. That would allow HHH to (figuratively) murder Seth Rollins and vice versa, since Seth isn’t technically cleared to wrestle by a doctor. It’s unfortunate these two won’t be fighting in a regular match, because I think it’d be great, but adding in this stipulation does make for some interesting scenarios. Don’t be surprised if Samoa Joe inserts himself into this match at some point, as he and Sami Zayn currently aren’t on the card. If they aren’t given an official match, expect both of them to show up here.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
Heading into 2017, The Miz was IC Champion and John Cena was the #1 contender for the World Championship, a title he would win at the Royal Rumble. How did we go from that to a mixed tag match at WrestleMania? I’m not sure, but this match gave us the ‘lost’ episodes of Total Bellas I added above, so it’s not all bad news. The real life story is that Nikki Bella still has an injured neck, and this match will most likely serve as her unofficial retirement match. There’s also rumors of Cena proposing to Nikki (they’re a real life couple) which would be a cool WM moment. All four of these superstars are actual wrestlers, so at the very least we should get a competent, mostly entertaining match. If it ends up with a proposal, that’ll be icing on the cake.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Rounding out this year’s already announced Mania card is the annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The participants already announced are Mojo Rawley, Apollo Crews, Big Show and Curt Hawkins with other active superstars and legends expected to either be announced next week or added as surprise entrants. With Big Show included, it looks like the speculated Shaq match is off the card, which is probably for the best. Shaq was cool 17 years ago, but I can’t imagine a lot of people were getting hyped to watch him ‘wrestle’ Big Show. They should use this match to give a young guy the spotlight, similar to what they did with Corbin last year. My pick would be Mojo Rawley, followed by Rob Gronkowski storming the ring and ripping every turnbuckle off with his bare hands.
More matches could always be added, but we’re already at 14, so this is most likely the final card. Make sure you’re following us @averagenobodies, as we’ll be tweeting all week leading up to and during the biggest show of the year.
Isn’t it crazy that WrestleMania is only 11 days away? The biggest show of the year is taking shape, and one of the marquee matches is going to be AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon. While it would’ve been nice to have Styles fighting for a major title after the year he’s had, it’s not happening, so we might as well enjoy his feud with Shane as much as we can. Since Styles is fighting Shane at Mania, there’s one thing guaranteed to happen during the build, and it happened last night: Shane McMahon delivering a flying elbow off the top rope putting his WM opponent through a table. He did it last year to the Undertaker, and here he is again, officially reminding us that WM 33 is almost here. It seems like the match at Mania is going to be either a street fight or No DQ, and that’s good news for fans. As great as AJ Styles is, I’m not interested in watching him to try to get a passable, normal wrestling match out of 47 year old Shane McMahon.
If This Fan Photo Is To Be Believed, Rusev May Be Hurt & Out Of His IC Title Match At Elimination Chamber #WWE
He’s injured 👀 pic.twitter.com/mUpfaLelG4
— Leah (@_BellaFam) May 27, 2015
So Rusev hasn’t had the best couple of months. He’s lost to John Cena at three straight pay per views, his Ravishing Russian Lana has left him for Dolph Ziggler, and now he’s probably hurt and won’t be able to fight for the IC title at Elimination Chamber. For a guy who was once one of the best guys on the roster and who rode to the ring at WrestleMania on a god damn tank, this is just a series of bad things happening that I hope he can recover from. WWE has this terrible habit of building someone up so high that the inevitable fall is just as bad, and that’s what happened with Rusev. Losing to Cena three pay per views in a row doesn’t help, but that’s the norm nowadays. If he’s hurt, I wish him a speedy recovery, and if its just a precaution, I hope he crushes everyone and wins the IC title this Sunday.
Wrestling – USA Network is about to be the go-to spot for WWE: SmackDown is making the move to the network next year.
USA already airs Monday Night Raw for three hours each week and will be the home for WWE Tough Enough once the reality competition show returns for its sixth season June 23.
Since its 1999 debut, SmackDown has broadcast over 800 episodes, earning it the title of television’s second longest-running weekly episodic program (first place belongs to Monday Night Raw). The show will begin airing on USA in early 2016.
The USA Network is now the official home of WWE programming, as both of the company’s flagship shows will be shown on the USA Network starting next year. The WWE is coming off one of it’s most profitable weeks in a long time, and it’s clear that the USA Network has always been happy with the ratings Raw brings in, so this makes sense. Hopefully Smackdown moving to a better day (Thursday) and better network (USA) means that it will be treated as something other than a Raw re-run. The WWE has so much TV time that it’s always baffled me that it can’t add a few more under card feuds with guys who are itching to get on TV. If they don’t do it now, they probably never will, but this is a chance for the WWE to have two important TV shows on every week, and I hope they take advantage of that.
— WWE (@WWE) November 6, 2014
I’m going to be honest: I haven’t watched Smackdown in a long, long time. Ever since Raw moved to three hours and NXT became must see, it’s tough to assign three days out of the week to wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, if Smackdown were standing on it’s own as a great show I’d DVR it and watch it every weekend, but for a while now, it’s basically been a watered down version of Raw. With that said, maybe a move back to Thursdays could get Smackdown rolling again. With Raw staying at 3 hours, it’s probably impossible for a brand split since they need to fill so much content on Monday nights, but the biggest problem WWE has been having lately is utilizing it’s entire roster. If they want to keep Cena, Orton, The Authority and company as the main event that’s fine, but why not run with some other guys in the mid card? Have multiple tag teams feuds, and build on other feuds that don’t center around titles like Wyatt/Ambrose and Big Show/Mark Henry. It’s easy to be pessimistic as a wrestling fan, especially in the social media age with every wrestling website being insanely negative, but I hope the move to Thursday night invigorates Smackdown and forces WWE to utilize more of their roster. Only time will tell what the outcome will be.
Rumble – WWE made two big Royal Rumble announcements during Tuesday night’s Smackdown tapings:
– The 2015 Royal Rumble pay-per-view will happen at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA, on January 25th. Tickets go on sale this Friday, although some were made available to people at the tapings.
– The 40-man Royal Rumble match will return.
This is fantastic news. For those of you non wrestling historians, the Royal Rumble normally only has 30 participants, but in 2011, the WWE upped the ante in Boston and 40 superstars were entered into the match. Alberto Del Rio won that Rumble, and now he’s wrestling in Mexico, so odds are we will have a new 40 man Royal Rumble winner. It would be glorious if Cesaro gained some momentum and went into the Rumble as the favorite, then eliminated the other 39 participants and maintained his Battle Royal dominance. No matter who wins, this should be a doozy.