Tuesday, April 11, 2017

LIVE Smackdown...er....Live thoughts - April 11, 2017

9:59 - Pardon the pun, but what a phenomenal match that was!  These three had amazing chemistry together.  Everything looked so crisp and perfect.  And bravo to Baron Corbin, who totally hung with two amazing performers.  Excellent showing for all involved and really strong show.  I prefer the "Shake Up" format over the Draft any day.

9:47 - As we enjoy this truly fantastic match, I once again make a gentle plea to you to donate to my Man of the Year campaign.  I'm looking to raise $50,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and, thanks in part to the research this organization has done, survival rate for people with blood cancers has QUADRUPLED in some cases.  Yet, despite this, believe it or not somebody in the US dies every nine minutes of blood cancer.  Scary stuff.  Please consider making a donation -- honestly, any amount (even $5) helps:    http://www.mwoy.org/pages/nj/nnj17/mbasilo

9:36 - The New Day is heading to Smackdown!  I have to say, for the first time ever, Smackdown MAY have gotten the better out of a WWE Draft.  At the very least, they broke even.  And in almost every case, the move seemed to make sense -- either the person needed new scenery or they were struggling in their current environment.  Not bad.

I still think we may see one more draft pick.

9:28 - Really cool and effective use of Nakamura there.  Plus, Ziggler is SO MUCH better as a heel.  He needs a good valet to work off of, though (Paige would've been great.  Or Alexa Bliss).  His career was never more successful than when he had a female to work with (Vickie, AJ).

9:13 - I'm actually pretty disappointed that Vaudevillains didn't work out (ditto for Ascension).  It reeks of WWE's writers not being able to write outside of their comfort zone.

9:09 - I was mostly right.  It was Charlotte and a return.  And hey, Rusev is coming to Smackdown!

8:52 - I'm guessing we get at least two women in this trade.  Easy money is on Charlotte, but I'm expecting a return as well.  Maybe Summer.  If not, I say Emma.

8:41 - You gotta wonder what trades were necessary that got Smackdown Jinder Mahal and Primo/Epico.

8:21 - It was an odd decision moving Bray to Raw when, ideally, he should still be connected to Rowan and kept away from Braun.  Would've made more sense to move Harper.  Sidenote:  I am a sucker for Rowan's crazy masks.  Maintaining the sheep but doing weird things with it.  I especially liked the clown version.

8:08 - Sigh.  If there were two people who desperately needed to be kept separate, it's Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.  This feud does nothing for either of them at this point and it's a crutch they keep relying on.

8:06 - I'm fairly impartial to Baron Corbin, but I must admit that my guilty pleasure is his entrace.  I love how the black smoke takes it over.

8:02 - I like this.  Start off with the obvious pick, since we all knew it was coming.

7:40 - It's Part II of the Superstar Shake Up, Smackdown version!  Last night we saw some pretty big moves (although, not as big as I had feared) with Dean Ambrose, Miz, and Bray Wyatt moving over to Raw.  Who's going from Raw to Smackdown, though?

My guesses:  Kevin Owens (and potentially Chris Jericho, to guarantee that the US Title goes to Smackdown).  I'm thinking perhaps Finn Balor.  Maybe Braun Strowman.  Roman Reigns has been heavily rumored, but I can't see that happening now since he won't actually be appearing on the show.  I don't know.

Anyway, follow the blog tonight and catch my thoughts on what happens.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

LIVE Raw thoughts - April 10, 2017

11:07 - Not a bad ending, but certainly not the one I expected.  One must wonder why they didn't just wait until after Payback before doing this Superstar Shake Up.  It would've avoided issues (like if Owens is being moved to Smackdown) and allowed them to close out some feuds.

But hey!  This means AJ is sticking to Smackdown!

Once again, I would like to request that you consider donating to my campaign as I attempt to raise $50,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (it's a lot of money and I'm going to need some help hitting that number!)  Here's the link:  http://www.mwoy.org/pages/nj/nnj17/mbasilo

I'll try to do this again tomorrow night for Smackdown.  Thanks for following along tonight.

10:58 - I'm guessing the ending here is a cluster.  Joe runs in to assist Owens and Rollins comes in for the save.  Show ends with a mini Shield reunion, with Dean and Seth standing tall.

10:42 - Well, since I have some attention on the blog tonight, I really do want you to consider donating to my Man of the Year campaign, with 100% of the money raised going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It's scary to think about somebody dies of a blood cancer EVERY 9 MINUTES.  That is catastrophic.  Yet we have also come so far.  It is often said "any amount helps," but it truly does apply here.  If you're willing to contribute $5....$10....$20....whatever.  I'll take it and I will be so incredibly grateful.  Please just consider it.  You can donate at the link below:


10:39 - Love that Sasha and Alexa are on the same brand (have we ever seen them fight with Sasha as the face and Alexa as the heel), but man, snagging Mickie really depletes the Smackdown women's roster.

10:38 - Kinda thrilled.

10:36 - So Sasha pretty much has to turn on her tonight, right?

10:34 - I don't know why, but I really want Sasha and Alexa to end up on the same roster.  So here's hoping one of them gets drafted to the other show.

10:28 - Why fight something that works here?  Does anybody (at this point in time) want to see Dana as a standalone act?  Probably not.  She worked with Emma....why not just pair them back together and get both of them a little more over?

10:18 - There is a lot of red happening in this match.

Also, I can't wrap my head around how Meltzer always insists that Vince doesn't favor Raw over Smackdown.  For about 15 years worth of evidence that shows that Raw almost always gets the best out of the draft, almost always gets the big stars, almost always gets the featured match at big shows.  These are not isolated incidents.

10:07 - I don't know what's more comedic, the fact that Braun is a super hero for killing their biggest babyface or the editing of that segment.  First, Roman's stretcher completely changed location and position and secondly, Braun never closed the rear ambulance door.

10:04 - Look at the reaction Strownman gets for murdering your top babyface.  That isn't right or normal.  This big Undertaker win was the perfect moment to do something different with Roman's character.  It's terrible that they decided not to do that, because he's right back to square one right now.

Also, that is totally not where the stretcher landed.

10:00 - After some heelish behavior last week (which was intriguing) Reigns is back to his babyface ways AND now getting attacked by Strowman.  Clearly this company is unwilling to do anything to change up Roman's act.  This is highly disappointing.

9:36 - So Smackdown lost Bray, Ambrose and Miz.  Two recent WWE Champions and one of their hottest acts.  Reigns presumably moving to Smackdown is no doubt a big "name," but it's not a great act.  Based on what we've seen so far, my hope is that Smackdown keeps AJ, gains Balor AND the Club.  Owens seems like an obvious move.  I would also throw Braun Strowman to Smackdown as well.  He's gone through the big names on Raw, throw him to Smackdown and keep him away from Bray.  And maybe Rusev as well?

9:31 - I have to believe that AJ and Balor end up on separate rosters -- UNLESS they intend on reuniting the Club.  Also, I love how Balor has distinct entrances and videos depending on whether he's Balor Club or the Demon.

9:21 - I hate when Charlotte does that top rope moonsault to the outside.  Visually, it's amazing.  But there is just so much room for error and a serious injury.  Not to mention it's a throwaway Raw match.  Same that stuff for WrestleMania.

9:11 - Since they're giving us Nia vs. Charlotte tonight -- which could be a big match -- I wouldn't be surprised to see one of them heading to Smackdown.  I have to assume either Charlotte or Sasha is going to Smackdown.

9:06 - Rollins is sticking on Raw, so I assume that means Reigns is going to Smackdown.  Hope they give us a mini Shield reunion tonight, at least.

I say send Samoa Joe to Smackdown, along with Owens.

8:50 - I'm really torn on the whole presentation Cruiserweight Division.  On the one hand, I really appreciated the fact that the CWC went out of their way to tell us "Cruiserweights aren't about flying and bouncing around, it's about a weight class."  These athletes can be strikers, they can be technical wrestlers, and they can be high flyers.  And I think that was a really important message.  But within the context of Raw or Smackdown -- where everybody on the roster does the same thing -- they just look like smaller, less developed versions of the "main" Superstars.  I think, at least to get some attention of reaction, they kinda need to be high flyers and bounce around.  Otherwise, what's the point of them being a separate division with a different color scheme?  It's not like the women or tag team division get that.

8:37 - I don't know what it is, but skinny Big Show always seems so unhappy.  Not angry.  Just unhappy.

8:28 - I gotta admit, those Revival t-shirts were pretty cool.

8:15 - Logic would dictate that Owens is going to Raw.  At least with Bryan and Angle making trades (vs. a lottery system), they can logically make arrangements for title trades instead of it being a matter of convenience.

8:06 - And now Smackdown just lost their #1 draft pick.

8:03 - Annnnnnnd right off the back, Smackdown loses the person who was completely reinvigorated on Smackdown.

7:52 - It's a Superstar Shakeup and I'm bringing back my LIVE thoughts for the occasion.  What do I hope will happen?  Basically, that Smackdown doesn't get the bum end of this deal.  Can you think of a single WWE Draft where Raw didn't make out like a champ and people were left asking "so, what's going to happen to Smackdown?"
Honestly, I don't really want ANY of the top guys to leave Smackdown.  Cena will be safe regardless, but he adds a level of credibility to Smackdown.  And guys like AJ, Dean, Miz, Orton, and Wyatt won't really be better off on Raw.

So really, I hope Smackdown gets some desperately needed top talent and that their main event scene isn't completely shattered.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

IMPORTANT POST: Everybody wins when cancer loses

Did you know that every 3 minutes, someone in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer?  And that every 9 minutes, someone in the US dies of a blood cancer?

When I was approached early last summer by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) about being nominated for the 2017 Man & Woman of the Year campaign, I was both honored (I was the first male nominee!) and intimidated (2015’s Man of the Year was only the host of CNBC’s Fast Money).  But ultimately, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help and accepting this nomination was the first step – through programs like Man & Woman of the Year, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough therapies that have doubled, tripled, and in some cases quadrupled the survival rate for some blood cancers.  And as a team member of last year’s campaign, I got a glimpse of the individuals and families that have been impacted by this terrible disease.  It was heartbreaking, but also inspiring.

And with that, meet Shauna:

She’s a 12-year-old survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and the LLS Girl of the Year.  In her own words, “I was diagnosed with ALL in June 2009.  I received intense chemo treatments but am happy to say I am cured of cancer and granted my happily ever after!”  I had the pleasure of meeting Shauna in February and her story is truly moving.  As a Man of the Year nominee, it is my privilege to compete in her honor during this campaign and it is my goal to raise over $50,000 for those battling blood cancers all around the world.

As a tribute to those who have gone through this ordeal, I will be competing in this campaign under the “Team Strength” banner – working with an incredible team.  Over the next 10 weeks (beginning today and concluding June 15), we will be hosting many great events, sharing fun projects and doing what we can to help raise awareness.  I know that raising $50,000 in 10 weeks will not be easy, but I truly believe we can do it!

There are so many ways you can help:

  • Please visit http://www.mwoy.org/pages/nj/nnj17/mbasilo to make your generous donation to support this journey.  Trust me when I say that ANY donation helps, as every dollar raised counts as one vote and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of the campaign.
  • You can also mail a check payable to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with the name “Matt Basilo” in the memo line.  Email me for address information.
  • “Like” our Facebook page to stay up-to-date and excited on our progress at www.facebook.com/LLSMWOTY.  Be the first to know about our events, raffles and auctions!
  • There are incredible sponsorship opportunities available for this nation-wide campaign as well.  Please reach out to me for more information!

     Through your generosity and assistance, I am confident that we can surpass my goal of $50,000 and that we can come one step closer to curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma.  And until then, we can help to improve the quality of life of patients and their family.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is currently funding hundreds of researchers in over 15 countries. I want to make that number grow. My goal is to raise over $50,000 to support additional research. We invite you to believe by supporting our campaign.  Remember:  Everybody wins when cancer loses.

Thank you in advance for all of your support,


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Sunday, November 20, 2016

LIVE Survivor Series thoughts - November 20, 2016

10:28 - I kept waiting for something else to happen....but I guess the show is over.

Nothing was outwardly bad.  Some of the matches were actually quite good.  But it was just a strange show overall.

10:24 - Wait, did that just happen?

10:23 - As a general rule, I'm a sucker for matches that begin with a finishing move.

10:17 - I am curious about this match.  Goldberg hasn't really wrestled in over a decade.  And how will Brock perform against somebody he can't just toss around a bunch of times?  This is going to be unlike any Brock match we've seen in years.

10:08 - The right team won but overall very, very strange booking.  Well Smackdown was already the more "favored" brand amongst a lot of fans, why set up the match to make Raw the faces and Smackdown the heels?  Especially when Smackdown was going to be swept?  Further, since the Wyatts haven't done particularly anything, why make them the winners?  Overall pretty strange.

10:05 - That WAS a really cool looking RKO.

10:01 - I'm a pro-Smackdown guy but I have to admit, I did love the moment of unspoken revelation when Rollins and Reigns decided that they would save Ambrose.  And then the three of them coming together to take out AJ.  After TEARING APART Reigns all night, the fans were yelling alongside him prior to that powerbomb.

This does create an odd dynamic, though, with the face Ambrose now seemingly being at odds with the face Bryan and face Shane.

9:49 - Again, odd booking here in this match.  Leading up to tonight, Raw has primarily been the "heel" team.  The captains are Jericho and Owens (top heels) and they're championed by Stephanie McMahon.  Meanwhile at the helm of Smackdown has been Ambrose and Ellsworth, with the support of Shane and Bryan.  Let the closing moments of this match has underdog Reigns and Rollins (top faces AND a Shield reunion) against mostly heels (Orton, Wyatt, and Styles....plus Shane).

9:38 - The last 20 minutes hasn't even been a match.  It's just been one action spot after the next.

9:33 - How did AJ not die just then?

9:31 - Wow, Ambrose is the FIRST elimination?  And they didn't even do a Shield showdown?  Very, very surprising.

9:21 - I liked the callback to Ambrose destroying Jericho's jacket.  Well done, Jericho.

9:17 - The one really nice thing about having Goldberg vs. Brock is that they could actually put all of their top stars into this match.

Also, I'm wondering if we're seeing egos at play here.  The biggest Raw vs. Smackdown match of the night, yet the least amount of Raw and Smackdown (or even red and blue) gear.

9:11 - Surprised they didn't have Rollins come out first to get a bigger reaction.  Also, I personally like his half Raw/half Rollins shirt.

Also strange that Reigns HAS a red trim version of his gear, but didn't wear it tonight.

9:06 - How can you be a sole survivor but not the winner?  Anyway, I'm guessing that Bray, Orton, and Braun all get eliminated together.

Also, I get that proudly wearing a Smackdown shirt is totally against Wyatt's character, but they already pulled the trigger on that on Monday.  Might as well go through with it tonight.

9:03 - I actually have really high hopes for this match.  There are a lot of fun opportunities:  Seeing Reigns and Rollins teaming together, Rollins and Reigns going up against Ambrose, Bray and Braun against each other.  I think we all agree that Smackdown NEEDS to win this one.  My guess is that Ambrose and AJ survive.

8:56 - Well, that was an ending.

I'll continue to give Survivor Series a chance and will watch The Walking Dead tomorrow.  Now, to just avoid spoilers.

8:49 - While I hate seeing anybody risk injury, I do appreciate that they're at least doing some high flying things.  I do like that the CWC established that Cruiserweight is just that -- a weight limit, it's not a particular style.  But I do think the casual audience needs to see that, yes, the division does do some really exciting things.

8:40 - You know what?  I'm going to take a risk and say that Kalisto wins here.  The Cruiserweight division already needs to be at the Smackdown arena for 205 Live, so why not just do the sensible thing and move them to Smackdown?  Plus, it's not like having the division is doing anything for Raw.

Having said that, I do really, really like the Brian Kendrick character.

8:31 - Unusual booking that only did make sense because of the people who won.  I did ultimately like the story -- the match came down to the one non-team (Sheamus and Cesaro) and the one team not totally committed to the cause (Usos).  I understood needing the Usos to be the last team in there (Sheamus wouldn't have gotten cheered against any other team).  But similar to the Women's match, there seemed to be A LOT of awkwardly timed and blown spots.

8:24 - Are the Usos still in this?

8:13 - Nevermind.

8:12 - Conventional wisdom says that Smackdown wins to make the final match the "rubber match," however if we view the singles matches we're already tied at 1-1.  I do think Raw wins this as they have more established and more (overall) over teams.

Should Smackdown win, I think American Alpha and PERHAPS Slater/Rhyno survive.  If Raw wins, I say Enzo & Kass and probably the New Day survive.

8:08 - Looks like Cesaro was already eliminated by his jacket.

Minus one million points to the New Day for not whipping out their old red gear.

7:58 - Good enough match but lacked some real passion at the end.  At no point did I really think the match was about to end.  I liked what they were going for with the finish, but too much time had passed between the false bell ring and the Miz roll up.  As a result, Zayn looked a little foolish.  It was quite obvious base don the ref's expression that the match hadn't actually ended....why was Zayn still celebrating?

The ending was also not SO complex that it needed that many replays.

7:45 - Zayn always wears red designs on his tights, but Miz at least went with some blue colored trunks.  Nicely done.

7:40 - I sincerely hope that Byron and JBL aren't the constants for tonight.

As noted in my previous post, I see the Intercontinental title remaining on Smackdown.  I previously thought that Zayn may win only to announce that he signed a deal to Smackdown, but after the love fest between him and Foley on the kickoff show, that seems unlikely.  So I guess Miz retains.

7:39 - Haha, fun little throwback to the introduction of Ellsworth there.  Inoffensive fun.

7:31 - The story was right here, with Charlotte referring to Bayley as the weak link of the team and then making the winning pinfall.  Plus Charlotte continues her undefeated PPV streak.  Good way to move on to a feud with Bayley and Charlotte now as well.

7:27 - The girls do not seem entirely on the same page here.  A lot of mistimed spots.

7:22 - I never much cared for the whole routine where you go 15-20 minuets without an elimination, and then there are 5 eliminations in the span of a minute.

7:13 - As noted in my previous post, I see Raw taking this one.  I'm thinking Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha survive.

7:07 - I like how all of the Raw females are wearing red in their attire.  Hopefully the Smackdown ladies follow suit.

7:04 - Wait, after that WWE 2K17 opening, the show isn't even being sponsored by the video game?  If I were Mattel, I'd be asking why they didn't use action figures in its place!

6:58 - Let me just say this:  I don't understand why they continue to put Kane over people they might even remotely be interested in pushing at some point in the near future.  In 2016.

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Pre-Survivor Series thoughts

I'll do my best to post a "LIVE" stream of thoughts for tonight's show, but just in case I don't here are some predictions.

I predict that Team Raw takes the tag team Survivor Series match (since they have a much more established division, all things considered).  I think it's likely that they take the Women's Survivor Series match too, to continue Charlotte's undefeated streak at PPVs.  If that happens, I see Charlotte, Sasha, and Bayley surviving.

I see Smackdown taking the main event Survivor Series match, since Smackdown needs a big win.  Smackdown is also the de factor babyface brand, since Bryan and Shane are both very popular, while Stephanie is usually a heel and Foley's character is, in my opinion, less than likable.  I see Ambrose and AJ surviving.

I also see Smackdown coming up big in the one-on-one matches.  I think Kalisto wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, transferring the entire division to Smackdown (the whole roster has to be there anyway for the 205 Live show, so it just makes sense).  Plus Bryan and Kendrick on the same brand has a lot of storyline opportunities.

I also would not be shocked to see Zayn win the Intercontinental title, but to then announce that he's signed a deal with Smackdown.  Regardless, I don't see the title going to Raw.

And I see Brock getting his win back over Goldberg.  More than anything else, I just don't see them using the "big Brock win" on Goldberg.  Very little benefit there.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the show.  But if it living up to expectations, I'm not afraid to switch over to the Walking Dead.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

About That Awkward Ambrose/Austin Interview....

So this past Monday Dean Ambrose appeared on the Stone Cold Podcast in what was anticipated (by me anyway) by many people.  How does Dean Ambrose, the apparent red headed stepchild of the Shield, feel about being WWE Champion and actually winning the first (and thus far only) match between all three Shield members?  Did he resent the initial pushes his former stablemates got?  Does he think his current push is the result of Reigns' suspension?

Unfortunately, we didn't really get any of that.  And while I didn't think it was an overall bad interview, it certainly didn't live up to expectations.  At the very least, it can be described as awkward or uncomfortable.

I searched the #StoneColdPodcast on Twitter to see what the fans thought.  The responses were about 50/50, with half saying "if you liked Ambrose before, you'll love him now!" and the other half saying "was Ambrose high?" or "that was terrible."  Likewise, those that didn't like the interview were split with half blaming Ambrose for his poor interactive skills, and the other half wondering why Austin kept pushing certain questions and issues that didn't really relate to wrestling or Ambrose's career.

So, who is to blame?

I'm sure Ambrose will get a lot of heat for it (the poor performance PLUS insulting the scripted promos PLUS making fun of a producer PLUS badmouthing, pretty harshly, Brock Lesnar) but I after thinking about it for a couple of days, I think most of the blame should fall on Austin who simply didn't do a very good idea interviewing an atypical personality.  Admittedly, I am a big Ambrose fan, but I also appreciate Austin and have enjoyed pretty much every single one of his podcasts.  But honestly, I think if Jericho or Foley had hosted this interview, the result would have been like night and day.

First and foremost, Austin devoted far too much time to Ambrose's childhood and teen years.  And while those topics are the norm and they are important (to an extent), he didn't let Ambrose run with the topic.  If the topic didn't go in the direction that Austin had wished, Austin would cut him off and ask him (almost badger him) about what Austin wanted to hear.  For example, Ambrose didn't seem to want to talk about his father, yet on two separate occasions Austin brought the conversation to Ambrose's relationship with his father.  Ambrose didn't bite either time, but Austin still forced the topic.  I don't know if there's a story there, but nonetheless Ambrose wasn't making it an interesting discussion.  And again, when Ambrose mentioned dropping out of school, Austin cut him off -- twice -- to see how his parents reacted.  Again, Ambrose brushed off the topic.  Austin again cut him off to say that his parents would have kicked his ass.  Ambrose didn't bite, so why force it?  What impact does it have on anything fans would actually care about?

The real eye opener to me, though, was when Ambrose told the story about receiving the call about being hired by WWE, and Austin literally cut him off to say that he didn't like the way Ambrose told the story.  And Ambrose answered that he's a mellow guy so despite being excited at the time, he's not that expressive in retelling it because of his natural calm demeanor.  That showed me that Austin cares more about responses than what his subject is saying.

And finally, for all the pushing and prodding that Austin did during Ambrose's formidable years, he really didn't ask any of the interesting, hard hitting questions that people actually would have cared about.  He ever so briefly asked about his feelings about the path each member of the Shield took, he didn't really push it as far as he could have.  And that's the sort of thing I think even casual fans would care about.  Not to mention that the censorship made entire portions of the interview unintelligible.

And then at the end, Austin begins to criticize Ambrose.  Again, this isn't unusual, he tends to have constructive criticisms for all of his guests (recently telling AJ Styles that he needs to make his offense seem more aggressive).  Except Austin's criticism of Ambrose was either vague or something he has little control over (Ambrose can only push the envelope so far under strict rating limitations).  Ambrose is far from perfect, why couldn't Austin be more specific with the areas where he can improve?  Why couldn't he say that his offense looks weak and that he needs to fight like he's the best wrestling in the company?  That would have been fair and I would have been interested in hearing his response.

Honestly, Ambrose was not the best subject (which is unfortunate), but it ultimately came down to two very differing personalities that weren't working together.  And as the interviewer, I think that responsibility falls on Austin.  Jericho and possibly Foley would have gotten a much better interview out of Ambrose.

What do you think?  How did you see it?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

LIVE Smackdown....um....LIVE thoughts - July 19, 2016

9:57 - Pretty cool that they gave Ambrose the clean and decisive win going into the title match at Battleground.  At the very least, this adds some legitimacy to Ambrose's reign and he won't look like a lame duck should he lose at Battleground.  Interested in seeing what happens.

Alright, I'll watch the rest of the Draft on WWE Network but won't be doing a play by play.  Enjoy!!

9:43 - Still hoping for the "clear the locker room" ending.  No interest in seeing Ambrose lose tonight.  Or moving the title to Raw for the rest of the week.

9:36 - Who thought it was a good idea to end the draft with Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus????

9:32 - Have six NXT guys even been picked so far?  It's going to be a bit anti-climatic to end it with an NXT pick, unless it's Bayley or Joe, I would think.

9:26 - A bit surprised to see Big Show drafted at all, to be honest.  Nice to see Dolph Ziggler get a little attention.  Surprised to see the Club broken up, but perhaps they'll reunite with Finn Balor?  The crowd completely deflated when they realized Steph wasn't getting Bayley.

I wonder if we'll see any surprise entrants, though.

9:18 - Nobody exceedingly obvious missing right now.  I'm guessing Smackdown selects the Club next (makes sense for the AJ connection, plus they need a "name" pick and numbers).  Obvious wildcards:  Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Cesaro, the Dudley Boyz, Apollo Crews, Natalya.

9:16 - Really cool ending and it's good to see Jericho get a win....but they've clearly given up on Cesaro's latest push.  He's not being buried or anything, but he's just exchanging wins and losses with people.

9:11 - The overwhelming feeling seems to be that Raw is "winning" the draft.  I don't think it's as much of a blowaway as everybody else does.  Smackdown has Cena, Ambrose, AJ, and guys who elicit a reaction like Wyatt and Miz.  Not terrible.

9:05 - Is there anything more annoying than that inflection Stephanie does with her voice?

9:04 - I'm guessing Smackdown picks Miz now.

8:57 - I am enjoying these Network interviews because the Superstars are clearly just being themselves and having fun.  This is the most entertaining I've seen Chris Jericho in years.

8:50 - Surprised to see Owens picked after Zayn and Jericho.  Pretty cool to see Sasha and Becky picked so early.

8:38 - I'm guessing Bray Wyatt gets drafted next round.  Also, potentially, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (to separate shows).  And at least one more NXT Superstar.

8:32 - Again, great interview with Cena on the WWE Network about him being drafted to Smackdown.  Cena back on Smackdown for the first time in something like 10 years is a great thing for both the show and the Superstar.  I can see his stock with the fans improving significantly.

8:23 - Some obvious big-name picks here that made sense.  As predicted, Reigns to Raw and Cena to Smackdown.  Lesnar and Orton to Raw and Smackdown makes sense too.  New Day to Raw was interesting as well.  Does this mean that Raw gets the Cruiserweight Championship, Women's Championship AND Tag Team Championship?  Women's and Tag Titles aren't being defended at Battleground.

8:17 - I'm kinda hoping the championship match ends in a no contest when the drafted Raw and Smackdown Superstars come in to interfere on behalf of Rollins and Ambrose, respectively.  It's in the best personal interest of the Superstars of each brand to make sure that their show has the WWE Championship.  AJ Styles should want Dean Ambrose to win so that he has an opportunity to challenge for the title.  Maybe each side interferes too often to cause a DQ finish.

8:15 - Really fun and in-depth interview with Charlotte on the WWE Network.  I'm enjoying the Draft Center stuff.

Next round, I'm thinking Reigns to Raw and Cena to Smackdown.

8:10 - Whoa, pretty cool to have the side-by-side screens during the commercials.  Nicely done, USA and WWE.

8:04 - Pretty cool that Charlotte was the third overall pick.  Does this mean that Raw gets the Women's Division AND the Cruiserweight Division?

8:02 - Not surprising and a really cool honor for Seth Rollins.  Guy had an awesome couple years and deserves this.  I'm guessing Smackdown picks Dean Ambrose.

8:00 - Cool seeing everyone (but Bryan) sporting their show's colors and logos.  I'm guessing pick #1 is Seth Rollins.

7:46 - The Top 10 draft shockers brought back some nice memories of when the brand split was taken pretty seriously.  For a LONG time I was a huge proponent of the brand split.  I didn't think guys like Edge, CM Punk, or Daniel Bryan would have gotten a shot at the World Championship.  Arguably, neither would John Cena or even Batista.  Certainly, guys like Christian and probably somebody like the Miz wouldn't have either.  And at those moments, they likely deserved the opportunity as champion.  But once they stopped taking it seriously, anybody associated with the Smackdown brand kinda became tarnished goods and it was doing more harm than good.  I don't think this is the right time to do a brand split, but if they take it seriously and make some smart moves, it could be a good thing after a few months.  Let's see.

7:32 - Lita repeatedly mentioning the Wyatts being drafted together, when they're not, is uncomfortable.

7:04 - So I think this is an absolute first.....I don't think I've ever done a LIVE posting of Smackdown before.  Well, in typical WWE fashion, we're getting an overabundance of something.  We saw Ambrose vs. Rollins last night.  We're seeing Ambrose vs. Rollins (and Reigns) on Sunday.  Well, now we're seeing Ambrose vs. Rollins AGAIN tonight.  Why?  To create further controversy so that they can split the titles?  Can't they just do that Sunday?  And since a triple threat doesn't benefit the champion -- and both of these guys are in the triple threat match -- why even bother resolving the issue?  It literally won't make a difference as both would have to defend Sunday and neither would have a championship advantage.  Seems unnecessary to me.

I've got the Pre-Show playing in the background so I'll comment if anything interesting happens. If not, I'll see you guys in a little less than an hour.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

LIVE Raw thoughts - July 18, 2016

11:14 - According to online reports, Dean Ambrose is OFFICIALLY still the WWE champion.  I can buy that Steph has so much faith in Rollins that she'd pick him as her #1 draft pick, with the assumption that he'll win the title on Sunday, but Ambrose just HAS to be pick #2 (and #1 for Smackdown), doesn't he?  Otherwise he and the GM's look like a fool.

11:07 - That was a great match -- definitely the best of Dean's title run -- and pretty much the ending we expected (and the one we needed to remove the WWE Championship from the Draft storyline).  I was fine with it as both guys looked good and worthy of being champion.  I do think they could have done a better job of getting across that Rollins didn't legitimately win the championship and that Steph was acting in her heelish ways.

And man, it's so strange that Shane gets completely emasculated by his little sister in pretty much every segment.

10:51 - I liked the analysis of Steph's relationship with Seth and Foley's relationship with Ambrose and how that might impact their working relationship right now.  Well done, Cole.

10:40 - Oh yeah and he beat him to win the damn title.

10:38 - That's blatantly not true.  Dean Ambrose beat Seth Rollins one-on-one to get into the four way title match last year and beat him by DQ at Money in the Bank.

10:32 - Fun and effective segment with Bryan and Foley (which did a better job of effectively building the tension between the brands than Shane or Steph ever did).  I don't love that Ambrose came out first for his match, though, and was quickly rushed to commercial.  The Champion (particularly a popular face one) deserves better than that.

10:27 - Sorry, WWE, but John Cena hosting the ESPYs is not the thing the sports and entertainment world are talking about.

10:14 - I'm a sucker for when Superstars wear other Superstars' t-shirts.  And then there's the #ZRvsDZ sticker, which I once placed on a Rutgers grease truck.

10:06 - The Ambrose promo was good but not great.  I liked the allusion to the early Shield promos (they typically did the hand held cam stuff back in the day) but it felt too rushed.  He didn't get the time Rollins did, and he didn't get to speak as confidently either.  He kinda gave an "eh" response to whether he would even retain the title.  Ambrose clearly has the ability to deliver a strong promo -- last week was evidence of that -- I wish he was given the material to put himself (and the title matches) over strong here.

9:59 - This company has slowly become terrible at filming entrances.  For ALL of AJ's face run, they'd focus on the Titan Tron during "I Am...." and then cut away so you barely see "Phenomenal."  And now during Sasha's fun entrance, they focus on friggin Lillian Garcia?

9:54 - Now THAT'S how you get people excited about that Cruiserweight division!

9:45 - Fun Seth Rollins promo with the allusions to the Shield entrance.  Again, though:  Hoping they don't have Ambrose outright lose the title.

9:35 - Really great and fun match that showed that their individual Battleground tag matches have the potential to deliver.  I do have to wonder, though.....why was John Cena even in the ring?

9:10 - I actually really liked that segment as it diverted from the traditional format of having one team come out, and then another.  Cena had his moment, interrupted by his partners Enzo and Cass.  They had their moment, interrupted by their opponents the Club.  They had their moment.  Enzo, Cass, and Cena chimed in.  Then the New Day came out, and they had their moment.  Then the Wyatts came out to get the match moving.  It was good stuff, and I think each person/team got their moment in the sun.

Also, a rare time that Big E wasn't one of the New Day to wear the championship belt.

9:03 - Enzo is a lot more fun when they let him riff and go beyond the typical punchlines.  I thought this was good.

8:58 - It's funny how, after a couple of years out of the spotlight and some badddddddd attempted replacements (Reigns), there's a new level of appreciation for Cena.....even from those who traditionally boo him.  The place exploded last week when he shockingly appeared after the ESPY rehearsals.  And I don't think it was necessarily because they loved seeing him.....I think part of it was genuine respect for the fact that the guy was willing to fly to Raw just to make a quick run in.

8:41 - Wait, is that what Stephanie McMahon thinks Child's Play is about?

8:31 - It would be cool if they actually did something with the Cruiserweight division storyline.  Have guys like Sin Cara, Kalisto, Neville, and so on try to negotiate with Stephanie to get her to draft them to Raw.  Have somebody create some dissension between Cass and Enzo -- what if they get drafted to Smackdown as a team, yet Enzo would qualify for some personal glory on Raw as a Cruiserweight.  Or have Shane leverage for Stephanie to give up the 3:2 pick ratio one or two rounds or else he'll nab some Cruiserweights, ruining her division.

8:21 - That Shield triple threat video was pretty awesome (made cooler with the battle flags) but it echoes my earlier feeling about how they "wasted" a big time match by not doing it right, with Roman's suspension.  It's a really great story and culminated in the perfect way (the WWE Championship).  I wish they just waited -- even if it was years -- so that they could do it right.

8:13 - Daniel Bryan is a nice addition but didn't feel like a huge surprise (WWE's own fault).  I hope he does a better job of Shane at selling the Smackdown brand.  Stephanie made Raw seem like a million bucks with them getting the first overall pick, getting more picks AND getting the Cruiserweight division.  Shane got no response whatsoever.

8:10 - Is Stephanie blatantly feeding Mick lines during this segment?

8:07 - I'm a tad disappointed in the Foley reveal, only because we've seen him in that role before.  Also, this segment is weird.  Every time Shane begins to speak, he loses focus and Steph takes over.  But not in a positive way.

8:02 - Odd that Shane and Steph are announced as Commissioners of Smackdown and Raw, yet during the teaser they were announced as COO's.

I do hope they make some logical sense out of Shane or Steph only picking one part of a tag team.  Logistically, why wouldn't you take the "free" pick?

7:50 - Some quick pre-Raw thoughts before the start of the show.  What I'm hoping for:  Some unexpected GM's that can actually contribute to something to the show.  What I'd prefer not to see:  Kane filling the role.  I'm also hoping we see Ambrose retain the title (at Battleground, too) although I would be okay with some sort of angle that vacated the title altogether in order to do some course correction for the brand split.  But I don't want Ambrose to lose it outright.  Also, I'm basically hoping the show doesn't drag on endlessly.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Roman's Suspension and the Shield Triple Threat

The big news today was that Roman Reigns -- the WWE's golden child/pet project/face of the company -- was suspended for his first wellness violation.  While this makes SOME sense out of his clean loss at Money in the Bank and the switcheroo to the pepetually overlooked Dean Ambrose, it did seem at odds with the fact that they booked a three way match at Battleground (just three or so days after Reigns' suspension ends) knowing full well that he had failed a wellness test.

Personally, I thought the booking at Money in the Bank was perfect.  I thought the clean win helped Rollins far more than it hurt Reigns (and it added a new dimension to both of their characters, which is desperately needed in Reigns' case), and putting the title on Ambrose was (a) something the fans wanted, (b) something Ambrose needed, and (c) a great comeuppance to Rollins' role in the Shield breakup.  I was on Cloud Nine after Money in the Bank.

I was overall disappointed with the booking of Raw, though.  Rollins and Reigns seemed poised for a double turn based on their in-ring behavior at Money in the Bank.  In the opening promo of Raw, Reigns was back to his pseudo tough good guy, and Rollins was back to his conniving, complaining heel ways.  And then the pathway to get to the triple threat -- opening promo with both guys complaining about being #1 contender, authority figure coming out and making a match between the two, match ending in no contest leading to a triple threat -- was about as lazy and by the books as it gets.  We've ALL been waiting for the Shield triple threat....and they're doing it at a good time (with all three being a World Champion).  But it all felt very rushed and unnecessary.  Do a month of Rollins vs. Dean (if Rollins is staying heel) or Dean vs. Reigns (if Reigns is going heel) before inevitably going to the Shield triple threat (at a perceived bigger event, like SummerSlam).

With what we know now, I REALLY wish they didn't go the triple threat route.  Why?  You can only do a big match for the first time once, and that moment really shouldn't be wasted.  As we've seen countless times, it is incredibly difficult to effectively build up a match with one of the competitors not appearing on TV.  Remember how big of a match Brock vs. Goldberg was supposed to be?  And that basically ended up being Brock vs. Austin because they needed to save Goldberg's appearances?  Or how Brock vs. Undertaker was basically single handedly built by Paul Heyman, a non-wrestler?  If Reigns' suspension ends July 21, it means he won't appear on a single Raw or Smackdown before Battleground.  That means he won't play ANY physical or verbal role in the build of the Shield three way.  This huge match that we've been waiting to see for years -- FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP -- will not even have a full, proper story behind it.  How sad is that?

Knowing then what we know now, wouldn't this have been a better route?  Ambrose comes out to open the show and after some celebrating, says he needs to talk to Reigns to make sure there are no hard feelings.  He calls out Reigns and waits, but Reigns doesn't come out.  This gets the announcers talking -- is Reigns happy for Ambrose or not?  They can even mention the fact that Ambrose congratulated Reigns after defeating him for the title at Survivor Series and continued to support him after the three way at Fastlane.  Considering Reigns' general heelish behavior during the match with Rollins, this will get the fans wondering if Reigns is going to turn on Ambrose.  While the announcers are discussing all of this and Ambrose waits, Rollins' music plays and he comes out.  He can complain about how Ambrose stole the title from him and blindsided him, and Ambrose will bring up the obvious hypocrisy (Rollins won his title by cashing in as well, and he blinded the Shield when he turned on them).  To build Ambrose as a fighting champion, Ambrose offers him a rematch at Battleground.  Throughout the month, Ambrose and Rollins (who have always had great chemistry) can build a fun story that doesn't involve green slime (and they can decide what route they want to go with Rollins, as far as face/heel alliance goes), all the meanwhile the commentators, other wrestlers, and fans can have a conspiracy theory over where Reigns stands.  Why hasn't he appeared?  Does he support Ambrose?  Is he bitter?  And then the Raw before Battleground, have the announcers tell the audience that Reigns just tweeted that he's going to be at Battleground and he'll show where he stands.  Then at the event, have Reigns appear at the end and either turn on Ambrose or support him, depending on what they want to do with his character.  But I do actually believe that this will create more interest in his character, it will give the audience the space they need from him, and he'll actually get a mostly positive reaction upon his return because people will actually be interested in where he stands.

That's what I would have done, anyway.  The Shield match can wait until it can be done right as HOPEFULLY all of their equity is only going up, so it will always be a big deal.  if they're not all going on the same brand, wait a year until they are (or until you have an excuse to do an interpromotional match).

What do you think?

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Monday, June 20, 2016

LIVE Raw thoughts - June 20, 2016

10:26 - I think i'm going to watch the rest of this episode from my (much cooler and more comfortable) bedroom.  For additional thoughts, check out my Twitter feed.

One more observation, though:  They keep promoting Rollins vs. Reigns as a WrestleMania caliber main event.  They did this last night as well.  Don't get me wrong, it IS.  But I don't understand how they can promote this as more prestigious -- or even just as prestigious -- as last night's match.  How could a match to determine who gets to face the champion be just as big and important as a match for the title?

Anyway, interested if we see any signals for a double turn or if last night was just a random thing.

10:23 - Did this feud really need to continue?  Rusev won decisively.  If Titus isn't winning the title, why not just move on to a new feud?

10:15 - Well, I guess that answers the question of whether or not the Wyatts would remain face.  I don't have much of an interest in a New Day/Wyatts feud but I will admit that the difference in their presentation may be fun to watch.  I'm really hoping the Woods/Wyatt/trance thing was just going to be revealed as the New Day making fun of them.  I'm severely hoping they're not silly enough to go the mind control route, especially with their most popular act.

10:03 - This is now the second time they've had Sasha make a "surprise" face appearance to challenge Charlotte (the first being Royal Rumble).  While it was probably the right decision to forge ahead with Charlotte to allow her to establish her heel character and the WWE Women's Championship.  But now they need to crap or get off the pot and put the title on Sasha.  She still gets a great reaction and they need to strike while the iron is hot.

Did Bray Wyatt just blow out an unlit lantern?

9:43 - I do hope that the Wyatts return as faces.  I thought they were gaining some renewed energy and interest as babyfaces against the League of Nations.  They seemed to be going in circles as heels, doing the same old routine over and over again.

9:37 - Can we now finally move past this Ziggler/Corbin feud?  Please?

9:21 - And now JBL is defending AJ Styles about the very thing that he was screaming about last night?  This is ridiculous.

The post match beat down was good but I'm surprised they had Cena so clearly dominating Anderson.  Cena is typically pretty generous in the ring, I'm surprised he so blatantly squashed somebody who has so much potential.

9:14 - I have thus far enjoyed AJ Styles throughout his entire WWE run, but he's really been fantastic (phenomenal?) since turning heel.  Just so much more natural on the mic.

9:06 - This is why I can't stand JBL as an announcer.  Last night, he goes on an angry and loud rant about how AJ Styles cheated to win (which makes no sense considering his career and the fact that he's the lead heel announcer) and then he calls AJ an upstanding man when AJ is clearly being insincere during this apology.  He is the least consistent announcer there is.  He drives me crazy.

8:43 - "We can't have a corporate yes-man running Smackdown."  "I completely agree!!!"  Great line and I'm glad they didn't hit us over the hammer with it.  But didn't Shane just announce last week that he's running Smackdown?  Why is it "news" this week?

8:17 - So based on everybody's behavior in that opening segment, I'm guessing we're going the "forget what happened last night" route.  Reigns was back to the tough guy face and Rollins was back to the complaining heel.  Also, I really do hate the cliche of two guys arguing over who's the #1 contender only to get interrupted by the authority figure, who says "you'll fight to figure it out."  Just seems like a long way to go for such an obvious conclusion.

8:06 - I have to wonder why WWE is so resistant to somebody like Dean Ambrose (or before that, Daniel Bryan) when the vast majority of fans so clearly want to see him win the title, but will go so out of their way (at the expense of others) for somebody like Roman Reigns, who fans don't seem to enjoy.

7:56 - I only caught the last two or so hours of Money in the Bank last night, but I really liked what I saw.  I especially loved the Rollins/Reigns match (and the Ambrose follow up) not only because of their obvious chemistry, but also because of the intriguing booking.  Were they actively trying to turn Rollins face and Reigns heel?  Or is it something that will be forgotten about by tonight?  Because the nuances of the match were pretty damn telling.  And of course, I LOVED the Ambrose cash in and win.  This guy has been sacrificed and overlooked since the Shield breakup, but they've actually done a great job with him (for the most part) in 2016.  I hope Ambrose ends up being an Edge/CM Punk/Rollins winner here, where the win truly puts him in the main event or at least opens up everybody's eyes as to what he has to offer (more similar to Bryan) and not just a Ziggler/Miz/Swagger "here, have fun with the title for a couple weeks/months" before dropping down the card.

Anyway, I'm excited to see what the shows has to offer.  Let's find out.

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