So, it’s that time of the month where I bury my head in the sand and try to pretend that wrestling doesn’t exist. You guessed it… it’s a SmackDown Live PPV! I won’t beat around the bush here, the blue brand has been pretty poor for a good few months now and the polar opposite of where it was 12 months ago. Fastlane is just a few days away and is your typical ‘final stop on the road to Wrestlemania’ PPV, with a below average card, two matches with great potential and a few which have been hastily thrown together to fill time.
So, with that said… who is going to win? Who is taking a giant step towards WrestleMania? And who even cares anymore?
Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Natalya and Carmella
Erm… what? I have no idea where this match has even come from and it’s a clear attempt to fill time and keep Carmella relevant while WWE continue to tease her Money in The Bank cash in which seems to have been going on FOREEEEEEEVER. At this point I feel I should point out that I’ve not bothered watching SDLive for the last two weeks, I can’t bring myself to anymore, so for all I know this match could have had Austin v Rock at Mania 17 levels of hype and build up. But I imagine it was put together as a result of 6-woman tag matches and various clusterfuck pile up run ins. Becky Lynch and Naomi deserve better… Naomi was champion less than 12 months ago and Becky is one of the most talented women wrestlers of the last decade. Bleugh
Prediction – Becky and Naomi win in this thrill a minute match of the year. 5 Star Meltzer star rating incoming.
United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Randy Orton
I absolutely LOVED Bobby Roode in NXT. We all did. He was a heel but by god he was a fantastic heel. Main roster Roode has been weak in comparison, with WWE trying to cash in on the GLORIOUS gimmick for far too long. Randy Orton is another case altogether. Despite winning the Royal Rumble, becoming WWE Champion and being billed as a top guy… he continues to be completely irrelevant and hang on to a living off the back of one move. The mid card on SDLive is so uninspiring it hurts to watch, and they continue to waste Rusev despite him being the most over guy on the entire roster and potentially the entire company.
I fully expect golden boy Orton to pick up the much undeserved win here because the commentary team wont shut up about the US Championship being the only one missing off his CV. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say he might…. MIGHT win with an RKO. Crazy right? Rusev absolutely HAS to be given an opportunity after this, the only issue being he has already suffered through a dull as dishwater feud with Orton only a few months ago. Christ almighty, SDLive needs some new talent post Mania desperately.
Prediction – RKO. Because RKO. Oh RKO? Yeah…RKO. Hahaha, RKO!
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev
Poor RuRu. Out of absolutely nowhere, he became on of the most over talents in recent memory, struck up a hilarious partnership with Aiden English and was part of some phenomenal Fatal 4 Way matches alongside the Uso’s, The New Day and Benjable (Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin). FINALLY, his stock was rising again, as he finally got rid of the unsavoury taste left from being buried by John Cena and being part of the cringeworthy love square storyline with Dolph Ziggler, Lane and Summer Rae. If you weren’t watching SDLive at the time and missed it all go down, do yourself a favour… don’t go back and watch it. Avoid it like the plague.
But anyway, I digress. With all of that behind him, surely Rusev is being booked like a monster now right? Tearing through the roster? Nah, don’t be silly, this is SDLive. He is booked in for a match against Shinsuke Nakamura, the winner of the Royal Rumble, which he will quite predictably lose. I used to love WWE when you genuinely had no idea who wold come out victorious, but in this match we find Rusev booked against a guy who is going on to main event WrestleMania against AJ Styles. Oh, and he’s also doing it to avenge his best friend English who was injured at the hands of Nakamura. You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried.
Prediction – Nakamura wins because the Bulgarian/Russian markets aren’t nearly as profitable as the Asian market.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Uso’s (c) vs. New Day
Don’t get me wrong, this match will more than likely be fantastic and could well be the match of the night. But damn, do we really need to see it again? Hell in A Cell was meant to be the final act in what was hands down the rivalry of 2017, but since then we’ve seen the teams clash while involved in the title scene towards the end of 2017 and now we find ourselves in familiar territory again despite there being at least two more teams who could be challenging right now. I absolutely LOVE these two teams, am a huge fan of everything New Day related and between the two of them they’ve completely revolutionized tag team wrestling, but this is yet another unnecessary throwaway match.
There’s no chance in hell The Uso’s will lose this one. The going plan seems to be the Blugeon Brothers challenging for the titles at WrestleMania and inevitably capturing the gold because they are big men and Vince McMahon LOOOOVES big men. I would expect Harper and Rowan to make their presence felt during this match with a post victory beat down on the victorious brothers.
Prediction – The Usos and nobody else
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ruby Riott
Now, call me a cynic, but hasn’t the SDLive women’s division been hot garbage for quite a while now? Charlotte is absolutely one of the best female wrestlers of all time, but she is being wasted in a massive way on the blue brand. Her rivalry with Sasha Banks on RAW is a huge part of the reason that the women of WWE find themselves finally earning the respect they thoroughly deserve, but on SDLive Charlotte is in desperate need of a rival who brings out the best in her. The Rock had Stone Cold. HBK had Bret Hart. Ric Flair had Sting. Charlotte has… Ruby Riot? Lord give me strength. This is in no way an attack on Riot as she has certainly impressed since stepping up from NXT, though next to Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan she was always going to look incredible, but she is in no way close to Charlotte’s level yet. The other thing making this lose all relevance is WWE’s insistence on having Charlotte operate as a babyface. Her in ring style and mic work has always suited her to being a dirty heel just like her daddy Ric, but SDLive don’t have many great faces anymore and have forced Charlotte into a role that makes her look less imposing, dominating or legitimate.
Could this be the night when we finally see Carmella cashing in? No. Absolutely not. That is something we want to see; therefore WWE won’t allow it to happen yet. At this point a lot of people have probably forgotten she even has the briefcase anymore, and even if she cashes in at Mania it will be a short-lived title reign as she is absolute trash still. WWE need to sort out the women’s divisions urgently before they slip back into the dark days of being a sideshow. But hey… 3v3 matches are exciting right? Guys? GUYS…!?
Prediction – Riott Squad attempt to interfere, Charlotte’s mates come to save her, and she picks up the win. Because god forbid we should have a good 1v1 women’s match when we could instead have 8 of them involved in a botch filled mess.
Six-Pack Challenge for the WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Why invest time into multiple great feuds with your top talent and flesh out the show when you can instead stick them all into one match? On paper this looks great and I’m sure they’ll be some good spots, but its just yet another sign of how far SDLive has slipped in terms of great storytelling. Prime example being Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin. Dolph wins the US Championship out of nowhere from Corbin. Relinquishes the title two nights later and ‘quits’. A tournament is set up to determine a new champion. Corbin loses in the first round. Dolph comes back at spot 30 in the Royal Rumble. Doesn’t go back after the US Championship. Both men gave singles matches which they win and get entered into this match for the top title. I mean… who is telling Road Dogg that he is doing a good job? Lazy writing like I have never seen before.
Then to ramp up the lazy writing a notch or 10, lets chuck John Cena in there too! And better yet, lets have him defeat the current champion and best wrestler in the world to gain entry! Way to make your champion look less credible guys! The only positive thing going on with this title scene at the moment is that Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan seem to have nothing to do with it anymore and we focus on the actual superstars as should have always been the case.
I’ve no idea how this one is gonna play out. The best-case scenario would be to see Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn split up and feud until Mania, with Styles keeping the belt and going on to face Nakamura in potentially the match of the night at Mania. The only other possibility I see here is Cena winning, becoming the all-time record holder for championship reigns, Styles invoking his rematch clause and we see a phenomenal triple threat on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Prediction – AJ retains in a messy match full of spots and just general nonsense.
I, like many fans right now, have no interest at all in this PPV. Probably wont even watch it to be fair. It’s a predictable and unnecessary step before Mania which will likely do nothing to impact the landscape leading up to that fateful day in April. WWE’s decision to go back to one PPV per month from May onwards was definitely the correct one, even if it means extending the run time of the event itself.
Please can it just be WrestleMania already?
AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21
AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?
As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.
Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!
#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time
There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!
I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.
#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic
Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.
People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.
I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.
#3- Overuse of Certain Moves
This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…
Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.
If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.
How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.
That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
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