WWE No Mercy 2017 Spotlight: John Cena vs Roman Reigns

Well here we are. It could be a real changing of the guard, as the monster among men looks to triumph over the beast incarnate, and the two men who have been pegged as the faces of the company over the past 13 years go head to head. Thankfully WWE aren’t wasting these momentous face offs on a B-show, so without further ado, welcome to my Wrestlemania 34 PPV Spot- what? This isn’t Wrestlemania? It’s not even a big-4 show? It’s a throwaway B-PPV at the end of September? WWE, what are you doing to us?

So, just to be clear, I’m going to focus on the Roman Reigns vs John Cena match. I could quite easily have argued that Braun Strowman should win the Universal Championship because he has lightning in a bottle right now, or gone on a rant about how the misuse of the Raw women’s division is typified by the addition of Bayley to tomorrow night’s match, but I won’t. Yet. Continue reading

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WWE SummerSlam 2017 Spotlight: Raw Tag Team Championship Match

Tonight is the night WWE throws the biggest party of the summer, the second biggest show of the year, it’s SummerSlam!

Anybody else not particularly excited?

Is it just me or does it feel like the build to SummerSlam has been lacklustre at best? I mean seriously. It’s tough to get excited about a WWE Championship match featuring Jinder Mahal, but the sheer clarity that he’s out of his depth as champion is managing to muffle the buzz of a Shinsuke Nakamura WWE Title match. Randy Orton vs Rusev is a nothing match between two people who have given the fans no reason to care about them over the last three months, the Intercontinental Championship isn’t being defended, it seems impossible that Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt will deliver on a card as busy as this and – along with the Cruiserweight, SmackDown Tag, Raw Women’s and United States Championship matches – is a rematch.

I’m aware it’s easy to be negative about WWE, and it can also be easy to focus on the bad things and overlook the positives. So I’m going to look at a match that has managed to generate a good reaction from crowds over the last few weeks. I’m going to look at the Raw Tag Team Championship match, and the reunion of two thirds of The Shield as Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose take on Sheamus & Cesaro. Continue reading

NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III Spotlight: Ember Moon vs Asuka

I thought it was about time I added an element to these Spotlight previews. Having done Raw and SmackDown PPVs, as well as the dual-branded shows, a look at NXT’s storylines was probably well overdue. I’ve decided to go for a match I think could have imminent main roster implications too – the NXT Women’s Championship match between Ember Moon and Asuka.

This is a story that essentially goes back to Ember Moon’s debut in NXT, which just happened to be one year ago at TakeOver: Brooklyn II. Moon defeated Bille Kay, and embarked upon a lengthy undefeated streak on the yellow brand. It was an impressive outing for Moon, highlighted by her Eclipse finisher, a beautiful diving corkscrew stunner when executed properly.

Elsewhere on the show Asuka – on a 10-month undefeated streak herself – defended her championship against Bayley in the hugger’s final NXT match. That Bayley was heading to the main roster was highly expected, so naturally speculation began as to who eventually would defeat and dethrone the Empress of Tomorrow, and Ember Moon’s display made her the obvious choice. Continue reading

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