Author: arh96

Fantasy Booking The SmackDown Men’s Division – Part 2

Here we pick up my fantasy booking of the SmackDown men’s division through to Wrestlemania 34. Read part 1 here for the stories so far and the general ground rules underpinning this whole thing, but here’s a brief summary of where we got to:

  • Shinsuke Nakamura is WWE Champion, with Baron Corbin owed a rematch
  • Kevin Owens is United States Champion, with AJ Styles never getting a US Title match against him again
  • Randy Orton has had a poor six months, with questions over whether he can still win a big match, and will address his future on the next SmackDown
  • Team SmackDown just lost the Raw vs SD 5on-5 elimination match at Survivor Series

And so we pick up two nights after Survivor Series. Strap in, it’s a long ride!

November 21st, SmackDown

Results: Baron Corbin defeats Sin Cara by pinfall, Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger defeat Jinder Mahal & Rusev by pinfall (Dillinger pins Rusev), AJ Styles defeats Mike Kanellis by pinfall

Promos: – Post-victory, Baron Corbin demands his WWE Title rematch. (Danel Bryan later grants this for the next PPV, Roadblock.)

– Backstage post-victory, AJ Styles says in an interview that the reason Team SmackDown lost at Survivor Series was Baron Corbin. Styles challenges Corbin to a match next week on SmackDown, saying Corbin isn’t the only one who want to be WWE Champion.

– Randy Orton makes his way to the ring for the main event segment. Orton says he knows he let people down at Survivor Series. It was embarrasing, and it was one of the lower points of his career. 2017 started out so well, but it’s turned into a trainwreck. He’s starting to wonder if he’s still cut out to be a player on SmackDown. Continue reading

Fantasy Booking The SmackDown Men’s Division – Part 1

I’m quite often coming up with booking ideas in my columns – x can work with y, z should turn face/heel. But it’s easy to be an armchair booker like that without giving much thought to the details of the feud, and how it impacts the rest of the roster. So with a couple of ideas in mind, I set myself the challenge of booking SmackDown’s men’s division from now through to Wrestlemania 34 – detailing each week what I would actually do, how I would have storylines progress, giving an idea as to what would be said in promos, that kind of thing. I’m going to set it out by giving the night’s match results plainly, explaining what would be said in promos, then giving further storyline context or justification if I feel it’s warranted. Continue reading

WWE Battleground 2017 Spotlight: Women’s Fatal-5-Way

Without even noticing, I’ve already passed the one year mark of PPV Spotlights. I started doing them last summer, and I just happened to be going through some of my articles and noticed what match I’d written about for last year’s Battleground – Natalya vs Becky Lynch. I thought it might be apt to revisit that article somewhat for the 2017 edition of my Battleground Spotlight. So here we are with Battleground 2017 tonight, and instead of writing about two women, I’m writing about five.

SmackDown in particular have made a habit of this. In every PPV this year that has featured a women’s match from the blue brand, there at least five female superstars from Tuesday nights on the show – often in multi-women matches. At the Royal Rumble there was a 6-women tag on the pre-show, at Elimination Chamber there were three separate singles matches, at Wrestlemania there was a championship 6-pack challenge, at Backlash there was another 6-women tag match and Money in the Bank was fairly self-explanatory. Continue reading

Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 3 (P-Z)

It’s the final part! Everyone you haven’t read about yet is in this part, including a handful of former world champions. It’s been a long ride, let’s get this show back on the road!

Paige

I think Paige is just about unique on this list in not having appeared on WWE programming one single time since the draft. She got hurt last year, needed neck surgery, and got suspended twice due to wellness policy violations. She should be just about ready to return to the ring in the next couple of months I think, but whether we will see her in a WWE ring again is questionable. A string of incidents in her personal life has led to speculation that WWE will think they are better off without her, which seems to be a fair opinion right now. But for Paige’s fans, there is still the hope while she’s under contract that she will return, and with The Rock making a movie about her there’s always the chance WWE will try to capitalise on that publicity. The issue is whether or not they feel they can trust her in that situation. If she gets things straightened out, and recovers physically, she can be a real asset to either show right now. My worry is that it’s all too likely Paige will go down as an underachiever in WWE.

Rating: * Continue reading

Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 2 (D-N)

This is part two of my roster evaluation one year after the draft took place. The first part covered superstars whose names began with letters A-C, this part looks at the D-N section of the roster. Let’s get to it!

Dana Brooke

Dana has thus far made a career as a lackey on the main roster, first as Emma’s sidekick reuniting a successful NXT pairing, then as Charlotte’s “protégé”. She never looked up to much in the ring during that period though, made all the more obvious because she was often up against Sasha Banks and Bayley. But since splitting from Charlotte she has been missing for all intents and purposes, though there have been hints she will reunite with Emma once again in the near future.

Rating: * Continue reading

Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 1 (A-C)

On the 19th July 2016, WWE officially split their roster in two. Raw and SmackDown became completely separate brands, and with that from my point of view came a lot of optimism. The roster had been constantly expanding with talent, and it was becoming nearly impossible to feature everyone who needed it in only one show’s worth of storylines. But one year on, it feels like an appropriate time to take stock of the last twelve months. Who has really benefited from the draft and had a good year? Whose spot on the card is worse off now that it was? Here I go through every single person either drafted last summer or currently on the roster, and give my take on how their year has gone. Continue reading

Great Balls of Fire 2017 Spotlight: 30 Minute Iron Team Match

I may have burst out laughing when I heard that WWE were genuinely putting on a show titled “Great Balls of Fire” (luckily I was in the midst of other wrestling fans who were doing exactly the same), but what we have ahead of us tonight is the potential for a really good wrestling show. It just goes to prove that if the content put in front of us is good enough, it doesn’t matter what it’s called.

Which is an idea that I could quite readily apply to “The Bar”. And that brings me to the Spotlight match for tonight, which in itself is extremely rare. As far as I can find, there have only been two of these kinds of matches in WWE since 1989, and neither of those had anywhere near the potential quality of tonight’s edition. I am of course, talking about the 30-minute Iron Team match between the Hardy Boyz and Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships. Continue reading

An Alpha Heel Turn? It’ll Be A Breeze!

We’re just about a year on from the 2016 WWE Brand Extension, and I have had fairly consistent gripes with one division pretty much ever since. And that division is the SmackDown Live tag team division.

From day one (ish) depth has been an issue. In the tournament to crown the first ever SmackDown Tag Champs there only seemed like two credible winners – American Alpha and The Usos, and with the momentum Alpha still had having just arrived on the main roster it seemed like a challenge for anyone else to beat them. Then the Heath Slater arc happened, and that was fine in the short term. But there was still a dearth of anything other than jobber teams – The Ascension, The Hype Bros and Breezango would need to be built up a long way to be credible.

SD Teams

Hardly the most inspiring bunch, but Alpha were the obvious stars

So with that competition, playing second fiddle so early on in their run was damaging for American Alpha. The duo were called the best tag team in the world by Daniel Bryan upon their selection on draft night, and for a long time they were my favourite team in WWE, but for a while it was as though WWE were seeing how blunt the arrow could get before they let Gable and Jordan loose. Continue reading

MITB Spotlight 2017 Pt2: Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

The Money in the Bank briefcase has launched the careers of many a WWE superstar over the years into the stratosphere. It bridged the gap between upper mid-carder and main eventer, and led to greats like Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan winning their first World Championships in WWE. Not every briefcase holder has been a success (Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow), and even two little known wrestlers called Randy Orton and John Cena have won Money in the Bank matches, but since they’re little more than footnotes in history we’ll move on quickly from them. Regardless of the blemishes on the record though, holding the MitB briefcase is a sign that WWE higher ups have faith in you to deliver big as and when required. Tonight, we find out who the latest man to write their name in the history books will be.

This will be the same format as the preview of the women’s match I posted earlier, where I look at how to make each individual the star of the match, and then assess their chances of winning and being able to call themselves Mr Money in the Bank for the foreseeable future. Without further adieu… Continue reading

MITB 2017 Spotlight Pt1: Women’s MITB Ladder Match

Money In The Bank is here! And for the first time I think ever, only one brand is featured on the show. We’ve had brand specific MitB ladder matches before, but this is the first time we’ve had two briefcase matches both from a single brand before. It is also notable because, as you may have heard, tonight we see the first ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match!

In previous years I’ve done columns looking at the participants in the briefcase matches, looking at their chances of winning. This year I’m going to add one more thing into my thoughts – how you could potentially make them the star of the match, if that’s even possible. So, starting with the women’s match in this article, let’s get to it! Continue reading