Nikki Bella vs Carmella No Disqualification Match (WINNER - Carmella)
The one point everyone seems to have overlooked about the interlude in this feud is Nikki's assailant at Survivor Series (i.e. Natalya), which has yet to be resolved on-screen. I see Nikki perhaps taking things "too far" during the No-DQ match in the eyes of the self-proclaimed "Smackdown Coach" Nattie and she comes out to put a stop to it, only to lay Nikki out so that Carmella picks up the pinfall and moves on to face Becky as the next title challenger.
Heath Slater & Rhyno vs New Wyatts Smackdown Tag Team Championship (WINNER - New Wyatts)
Not afraid to admit I'd been dead wrong about Survivor Series, where I thought Orton would pull the trigger on Bray. It's clear we're getting the slow-burn for Orton here that WWE intended for Bryan and the Wyatts in 2014 before his overwhelming fan support and Punk's walkout completely washed it out.
I COULD go with a DQ win for Slater & Rhyno, but I've been partial to the idea of Bray FINALLY holding some gold (i.e. silver) in WWE for a long time. It simply feels like the Rhyn0-Slater pairing's starting to lose gas as the top team on Smackdown, not to mention there's already a surefire feud for the Wyatts in the form of American Alpha, who have been far overdue for a run at the tag titles since their draft to the blue brand.
Smackdown's got a good "evil" thing going with Randy seemingly having bought into Bray's doctrine and going above and beyond to prove his loyalty and mettle, so why pull the plug now when it's getting good?
Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss Smackdown Women's Championship Tables Match (WINNER - Becky Lynch)
Normally, with a no-pin-required stip like a table match, it wouldn't be entirely unfounded to have Alexa pull off an upset, or even unprecedented since the same happened with Sheamus' first WWE Title win over Cena in '09.
That being said, though, it's still too soon in Becky's maiden voyage with the blue strap to drop it to Alexa. However, I do applaud the Smackdown writing team for putting emphasis behind their personal feud and the importance of the championship rather than over-hype the "historical first" of a one-on-one Women's Tables Match.
Baron Corbin vs Kalisto Chairs Match (WINNER - Baron Corbin)
Kalisto more or less got his pound of flesh from Corbin already, injuring him enough to cost him a spot and a payday from a high-profile match at Surivor Series. More of a gut feeling than anything, but I feel Corbin should dominate here and remain on a tear going into the 2017 Rumble so that he'll look like a considerable threat.
The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (WINNER - The Miz)
Said it in episodes past and I'll say it again; there's far more upside to Miz as the unbearable primadonna titleholder in a constant tit-for-tat feud with GM Daniel Bryan, using absolutely any, ANY means to hold onto the championship and bring its "prestige" to an all-time high. Meanwhile, I'd be even more fascinated to see how Ziggler's character progresses after going full-tilt against Miz and coming up just short.
As for the match itself, I actually think that Maryse (and possibly the Spirit Squad) will get involved early too often and get the boot, but it'll ultimately come down to Ziggler making the crucial mistake of being the ultimate showman to get one last big move in on Miz, only to miss, allowing Miz to retain.
AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose WWE World Championship TLC Match (WINNER - AJ Styles)
Much in the same vein as Ziggler having a possible breakdown following his match, I see the same happening for Ambrose when Ellsworth triumphantly returns and not-so-triumphantly costs Ambrose the match by accident. This leads to Ambrose's heel turn and subsequent unhinged beatdown of Ellsworth, who's such a pitiable, sympathetic character by this point that the crowd will turn on Ambrose the moment he decks Ellsworth in the not-chin.
Aside from that, I see Styles' celebration being cut short by a certain Phenom...or perhaps we'll see Taker make the save on Ellsworth to set up a program with a deranged Ambrose. Either scenario (Taker vs. Styles, Taker vs. Ambrose) would work well for me, as a Styles feud could stem from Taker taking offense to Styles' words that he runs the blue brand, where as its been Taker's "yard" for many years.
As far as Ambrose goes, it could simply be that Taker is protecting Ellsworth, who exemplifies the "heart and soul" that the Phenom and Smackdown are all about, or they could take it a step further with Shane McMahon, who's grown tired of Ambrose's cornball antics and wanton disrespect and looks to his WM 32 rival to get the Lunatic Fringe in line.
Keep Your Minds Open! Mine is closed, for now...
"Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." - Swami Sivananda
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." - Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)
Considered the greatest boxer ever to step between the ropes, Muhammad Ali will be missed dearly, not only for the legend he built as a pugilist or being one of the most quotable athletes of his generation, but the indelible mark he left on the world of professional wrestling.
Ali faced Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki in a cross-promotion match on June 26, 1976. While the match itself is mired in confusion and controversy and remains much-debated to this day, it paved the way for Inoki and Ali's fire-forged friendship and efforts towards peace through sportsmanship and athleticism.
Ali would also take part in the very first WrestleMania in WWE's history, acting as the special referee for the historical show's main event, a tag team grudge match with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T facing off against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr, Wonderful" Paul Orndorff.
To Muhammad Ali, may he forever float and sting, until the end of time...
Goldberg has "hatched!"...Is A Return to the ring "Next?"
In all honestly, I really should've known. I even said in the previous post the #Hatch hints would probably lead to something stupid like a WWE Films trailer piece, but even then I was only half right. Isaac Asimov once said, "Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them every once in a while, or the light won't come in"...or in more layman's terms, makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me."
That being said, Goldberg's trailer would probably imply that he's, in some shape or form, returning to the WWE fold. We're looking at either a simple Hall of Fame induction, or Vince may try to entice him further into making an actual in-ring return. Given Goldberg's past remarks about Vince as a person and a businessman, I'm not too keen on the latter, but it would be a fascinating prospect.
Speculation has run rampant in the IWC about the cryptic images (seen above) posted on WWE's Twitter account in the last few days, implying that something or someone "big" is about to "hatch" on to the 'New Era' of WWE.
Rumors of who or what the "hatchling" could be have run the gamut of obvious to shocking to downright ridiculous, although given the WWE and Vince's propensity for screwing with fans' minds, it could very well just be an overblown premise for the latest WWE Films straight-to-DVD disaster....
Joking aside, with the upcoming draft and Smackdown going live on Tuesdays in July, whatever is "hatching" could very well prove to be the on-screen catalyst for the brand split, such as whatever it was in the "strongbox" Shane hinted at. It could be a brand new superstar, the return of a long-lost performer like Bray Wyatt or Randy Orton, or even a certain relic from Smackdown's past brought back to symbolize the resurgence of the blue brand's separate identity from RAW...
No one truly knows. Having looked across several wrestling news sites and scanning through hundreds of comments from speculative fans, I've compiled a small list of the most-heavily rumored people/objects of focus that could be the ones to be #Hatched tomorrow night on Raw...
Like I said last Friday, AJ's still got the TNA stink on him, a wrestler Vince had no role in making prior to the Royal Rumble, not surprised in the least that it appears he getting the shaft...
On the other hand, he's main-evented the last two pay-per-views, he's putting on 4+star matches with Roman and now Kevin Owens, so I can't complain TOO much considering what we've gotten out of him so far...
What's got me a lil stymied is the "official" break-up of The Club, it leaves a lot of questions going forward for AJ; does he end up on a losing streak of narrowly-lost matches with them watching idly by, and go crawling back to Gallows & Anderson when he's at his lowest point and turn full heel?
Or does he earn a second-chance spot to be in MITB? Do they cost him when he's on the verge of winning (or costing him the briefcase)? Do we see him find a partner (likely Balor) to combat them, only for the partner (again, Balor) to ultimately upend AJ and align with Anderson and Gallows to form (most likely) the Balor Club?
That all remains to be seen, but I believe we've finally gotten to the point where the pieces have begun to shift and The Club's intentions for the WWE will be fully realized within the next couple months, and with any luck, we will be witness to a moment in wrestling history that us fans can crown as the moment "The New Era" TRULY begins...
KEEP YOUR MINDS OPEN, FOR MINE IS CLOSED...FOR NOW...
.. It is not a question to be taken literally, of course. We ALL know who Seth Rollins is and the history he's created in his time with the WWE; first man to cash MITB in at WrestleMania and do it successfully, first man to cash in in during a world championship match, first man in WWE's history to hold the WWE World and US championships at the same time.
There is no doubt that, much like his on-screen mentor Triple H, Rollins has made a solid impact in his premier years with the WWE.
However, also like Triple H, Rollins suffered a debilitating injury at the seeming pinnacle of his early career, being forced to relinquish his treasured WWE World Championship before the face-off with his former Shield brethren in Roman Reigns. Undeterred, Rollins made a solemn vow, during his 2015 "Superstar of the Year" acceptance speech, that he would come back, stronger than ever, and reclaim that which he never lost...
Since then, Roman has risen to the cream of the crop, fighting Triple H, Vince McMahon and the Authority, and (not-so) shockingly the majority of WWE fans, every step of the way towards achieving the WWE World title. After finally besting Triple H at WM 32, and deterring a very determined first challenger in AJ Styles, Roman seemed content to "reign" supreme over his empire, until...
...until Rollins made his long-awaited return to the absolute elation of WWE fans, laying out the champion with a Pedigree (he really DOES need a new finisher) and reasserting himself immediately as the uncrowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Fans were white hot for Rollins' return, vociferous chants of "Thank you, Rollins!" echoed throughout the Prudential Center.
Everything seemed primed for the scenario of Rollins returning as the conquering anti-hero; a rockstar-like reception not unlike Triple H's 2002 return, railing against the champion in Roman that the fans loathe, and a right to the championship he never lost.
Roman would ruin the return, turn heel out of frustration and anger-fueled jealousy at Rollins being hailed with a hero's welcome, where as Reigns scratched and clawed against the Authority, only to be booed and jeered by the fans because he was the champion WWE and he wanted him to be, rather than a champion the fans wanted him to be. All that seemed set in place, until...
...Rollins would lash out at the WWE fans, calling them hypocrites for caring about him, sending him well wishes, fan letters, and Twitter messages full of encouragement for a speedy recovery; all of this coming off of the heels of last year, where they wished for him to get his comeuppance, to lose the championship he won at WM 31 because he wasn't a strong champion in their eyes, taking shortcuts and abusing the power of the Authority.
A venom-lace tirade with a lot of truth and scorn to it, it would've accomplished what WWE seems intent on doing: Reasserting Rollins as a vile nemesis for the fans' "beloved" champion Roman Reigns to vanquish to their delight. That WOULD be the case...if Reigns wasn't reviled by a majority of WWE's fandom who simply don't want Reigns in the role WWE's casting for him.
This situation casts further hypocrisy upon the WWE's and Vince's notion of "listening to the fans", as they clearly want Rollins in the role of Triple H, circa 2002, whereas WWE's going against the grain, assured that Rollins' tirade will be enough to put him so far on the dark side that fans will welcome Reigns beating him down, yet they have Rollins talking in outside-the-ring interviews like his time with Coach on ESPN, discussing how much he missed the crowd, which is not something a "reviled villain" should be doing, and Reigns not doing much of anything, other than giving Rollins a "smoldering" stare...OF VENGEANCE, DAMMIT! (Channeling my Vince their for a sec...)
So to paraphrase a famous (if fictional) man, I pose this question to Seth Rollins: "Who are YOU? And what do YOU want?"
KEEP YOUR MINDS OPEN, FOR MINE IS CLOSED...FOR NOW...