Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The SmackDown Files: The Wild Card Jamboree Hootenanny Finals Spectacular (12-27-2016)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to the final installment of The SmackDown Files for 2016. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. WWE completed their two-night stand in the Windy City as they treated fans to SD Live’s Wild Card Finals. Three Championship Matches were on tap including The Four Corners Elimination Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship featuring The Wyatt Family vs. The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. American Alpha; Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch for the SD Women’s Championship, and AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship.

Did we crown new champions or will everything remain the status quo heading into 2017? What role did John Cena play during the Finals extravaganza? The answer to these questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order.

·        John Cena is the WWE equivalent of Geppetto minus the AARP street cred. The Chicago crowd can be brutal, but he turned those jeers into cheers and even sparked tension between the Cubs and White Sox fans which worked in his favor as well.

·        He previewed tonight’s Championship Spectacular and even did an impromptu poll on who will walk out WWE Champion. The fans were unanimously behind AJ Styles which played into Cena’s announcement.

·        The winner of the Triple Threat Match will go on to face Cena at the Royal Rumble. The crowd was not pleased with this news, but Cena noted that he can do it because his name is John Cena. And with that, he dropped the mic to wrap up the opening segment.

·        This was a hot way to kick off the final SD Live of 2016. With Cena back in the main event fold, business is about to pick up to quote Good Ol’ JR.

·        That was a rough spill for Heath Slater as he got dropped with a Superkick by Jimmy Uso as he and Rhyno were eliminated from the Four Corners Elimination Tag Team Championship match.

·        In a stunning upset, American Alpha defeated The Wyatt Family to become the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions. The ending caught everyone off guard when Orton accidently knocked Luke Harper off the ring apron which played into the finish.

·        Jason Jordan did a running charge into the corner to wear down Orton before setting up Grand Amplitude for the win. Orton and Harper bickered in the ring while American Alpha celebrated on the main stage.

·        American Alpha vs. The Wyatt Family was good, but it didn’t feel like it was the right time to for a title change.

·        Chad Gable did a great job playing the babyface in peril as Harper and Orton worked over his lower back until he made the hot tag to Jordan. The fans were clamoring for Orton to hit an RKO out of nowhere, but their wish was never granted. This probably explains their somewhat muted response when American Alpha won the Tag Team Titles.

·        The reaction was nice, but it wasn’t a cathartic moment like Alpha’s win against The Revival at NXT Takeover: Dallas earlier this year. American Alpha will bring some much-needed credibility to the Tag Team Division, but it will take time as fans are still warming up to their act. Their in-ring prowess will win them over if they are given the right opponents to face.

·        It appears that The Usos will fill that spot after The Wyatt Family exercise their rematch clause.

·        The tension between Harper and Orton has reared its ugly head after their skirmish. Whether it was intentional or not, Harper is still leery of Orton because he thinks The Viper is wearing sheep’s clothing in his quest to destroy The Wyatt Family from within.

·        It’s a plausible theory and it should be interesting to see if Orton plans to smooth things over with his new found brothers. If he does, it might be another ploy to lull them into a false sense of security. This cat and mouse game has done a complete 180 since their jump the shark moment a couple of months ago. It’s a testament to the writers and talent for righting the ship and making this the most intriguing storyline on SD Live.

·        Alexa Bliss successfully defended her SmackDown’s Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch thanks to an assist from La Luchadora II. The masked lady came down to the ring and distracted Lynch when Bliss dislocated her shoulder. It was a gnarly visual that allowed La Luchadora to ram Lynch’s head into the second turnbuckle behind the referee’s back. Bliss snapped her shoulder back in place and nailed Lynch with a DDT for the win.

·        Prior to the outside interference, Bliss and Lynch had a solid match. However, it lacked fluidity and crispness which disrupted the flow of the match at times. Their feud is not stale yet, but their series of championship bouts have not lived up to expectations. Both ladies need a signature match to push things over the top from a wrestling and storytelling standpoint. Until that happens, they will stay in the neutral zone which is disappointing considering the potential Bliss has shown in recent months.

·        Bliss’ best moment came during the Six Pack Challenge at Backlash to crown the first SmackDown Women’s Champion. Here’s hoping that she taps into that well again because she is capable of being a great heel who can back it up on the mic and in the ring.

·        As for Lynch, she has to be the ring general who doesn’t overcomplicate things inside the squared circle. She showed nice aggression tonight, but that needs to be on full display if she is going to hold up her end of the bargain. Ultimately, it boils down to how the match is booked which will allow both ladies to shine. It’s not too late, but the clock is ticking.

·        The mystery surrounding La Luchadora II is an interesting one. We can safely say that it’s not Sasha Banks or Nia Jax. I guess we shall find who’s under the mask soon enough.

·        The Triple Threat WWE Championship Match featuring AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, and Baron Corbin was outstanding. Corbin had a star-making performance which should help his cause heading into 2017. He held his own and the double team spots featuring all three men was awesome. The leg drop/elbow drop combo by Styles and Ziggler as they drove Corbin through the announce table was especially great.

·        Ziggler and Styles had a great back and forth exchange that featured sick counters and great near falls as Ziggler almost had Styles beat with a Superkick.

·        Corbin made his way back into the ring as he dropped Ziggler with the Deep Six followed by the awesome End of Days/Zig Zag combo with Styles eating the former while Corbin took Ziggler’s finisher for a near fall.  That was a tremendous spot.

·        Corbin eventually dropped Ziggler with End of Days, but he couldn’t make the pin because Styles drilled him with The Phenomenal Forearm and covered Ziggler for the 1-2-3.

·        After the match was over, John Cena ran down to the ring to shake Styles’ hand. Styles was reluctant at first, but he eventually shook Cena’s hand. Both men exchanged words as SD Live went off the air with Styles celebrating in the ring while Cena mouthed a fair warning to his Royal Rumble opponent from the main stage.

·        Styles turned in another great performance, but Ziggler and Corbin deserve credit for bringing their A-Game as well. This was an emphatic way to end the year and I tip my cap to all three men for a job well done. 

·        Styles and Cena will face off for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. The promos leading up to the title bout should be great and the actual match ought to be spectacular as well. This is a stone cold lock for match of the night if everything goes according to plan.

·        The Rumble is shaping up to be stacked show with the blue brand delivering the goods on the main event front. This was a fitting way to end the calendar year for WWE with SD Live firing on all cylinders heading into WrestleMania season. Here’s hoping their red counterpart will get their shit together heading into the New Year as well. Fingers crossed!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was very good. The Wild Card Finals exceeded expectations as all three championship matches held the show together from start to finish.

·        Secondary storylines were forwarded backstage as Carmella continued her romantic pursuit of James Ellsworth (I am not making this up), Dean Ambrose attacked The Miz during his interview with Renee Young, and Nikki Bella defended herself after Natalya showed her true colors last week. These plotlines will continue to unravel as we head into the first week of 2017. 

·        Plus, Miz and Ambrose will face off for the Intercontinental Championship next week as SD Live emanates from Jacksonville, Florida. Here’s hoping they have a better outing than the one they had a few weeks ago.

·        SD Live is staving off the Winter Blues by turning in several good shows in recent weeks. They are keeping things fresh which gives fans a reason to tune in on Tuesday nights. With five weeks to go until the Royal Rumble, expect things to get even hotter as we get closer to the first major PPV of the year. Let the games begin!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand installment of The Raw Exposé to kick off 2017. Happy New Year, boys and girls! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Raw Exposé: WWE Films Presents - The Wrestling Cleaner Starring Braun Strowman (12-26-2016)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to the final installment of The Raw Exposé for 2016. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago crowd is always raucous and I expect them to be extra pumped since it’s the day after Christmas. Plus, Braun Strowman is still on the loose after he laid out Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns last week. Did Strowman put anyone else on the injured reserve list? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.

·        Stephanie McMahon threw some serious shade at CM Punk by saying that the fans chanting his name would last one second longer than he did during his UFC debut against Mickey Gall. The Punk 2:14 T-Shirts will not be sold on WWEShop.com

·        Stephanie continued her troll job by teasing a Shield reunion, but she dashed the crowd’s hopes and dreams because they were so gullible. Stephanie is at her best when she antagonizes an audience when they are in hijack the show mode.

·        The Raw Commissioner granted Seth Rollins’ request by booking him in a match against Braun Strowman. Roman Reigns would defend the United States Championship against an opponent of Stephanie’s choosing. She wrapped up the segment by announcing that a Raw Tag Team Championship rematch featuring The New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro would take place after the commercial break as the opening segment came to a close.

·        This was a hot way to start the show. Stephanie McMahon was unbearable, but she played her part to perfection by getting under the crowd’s skin while Rollins made a few good digs about Triple H hiding behind his wife’s skirt. Reigns was showered with boos until Rollins agreed to kick Strowman’s ass Shield-Style.

·        Reigns is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to fans cheering and booing him. If he’s with The Shield, he’s beloved. If he’s flying solo and within sniffing distance of the WWE Universal Championship, he’s jeered. A heel turn might be his only hope, but Vince McMahon is determined to make Reigns the biggest thing in professional wrestling. We are entering year three of this experiment and it has failed outside of Reigns kicking Triple H’s ass from pillar to post and punching McMahon in the face to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship last year on Raw. Let’s hope The Chairman of Board cracks the code next year because the boo birds are only going to get louder heading into WrestleMania season.

·        Sheamus and Cesaro successfully defended their Raw Tag Team Titles when Sheamus nailed Xavier Woods with the Brogue Kick. The match was solid, but both teams had a better outing at Roadblock last Sunday. There a few rough transitions between spots, but the action was good for the most part.

·        Kofi Kingston had a nice showing, but Big E’s interference down the stretch cost his team the win. It appears that The New Day is out of the Tag Title picture for now, but I expect them to be lurking in the shadows waiting for their next chance to become three-time champs. Just a hunch.

·        Anderson and Gallows ruined a Hallmark moment between Bayley and Goldust as they ripped the head off the Dusty Rhodes Bayley Bear. That was easy heel heat which should lead to a match against The Golden Truth later in the show. The fans showing Rhodes respect in the background was a nuce touch.

·        Poor, sweet Scarlett. Nia Jax is going to destroy her.

·        Michael made a cringe-worthy pun by saying that Scarlett was Gone with the Wind. It was a sort of clever, but still…Bleh!

·        As expected, Scarlett was mincemeat for Jax as she laid her out with a Samoan Drop followed by a leg drop because Scarlett chose Sasha Banks as her role model. The match was inoffensive and to the point.

·        Chris Jericho looked slightly perturbed that Stephanie picked Kevin Owens to face Reigns for the United States Championship later tonight. Foreshadowing much?

·        Charlotte defeated Bayley thanks to an assist from special guest referee Dana Brooke. Bayley had Charlotte beat with the Bayley-to-Belly, but Brooke pulled the replacement ref out of the ring to break up the pin count.

·        Bayley chased down Brooke until they both made it back in the ring. Charlotte rolled Bayley up from behind while Brooke made the fast count. It should be noted that Charlotte had her feet on the ropes for extra leverage. The Queen got her win back while Bayley’s contendership status is in question.

·        The match was fine while it lasted, but the heelish outcome was never in doubt. The climb to the top should be a long and arduous one for The Hugger Extraordinaire. It will make her coronation that much sweeter if everything is executed properly.

·        Braun Strowman is a multitasker. Who knew?

·        Strowman will face Sami Zayn in a Last Man Standing match next week on Raw. To give Strowman added incentive, Stephanie McMahon told Strowman to pretend that Rollins was Zayn. It’s almost like therapeutic transference. Very Freudish.

·        Neville defeated TJ Perkins with an inventive roll-up by pressing his knee against Perkins’ head. Neville pulled the tights which watered the down finish, but it was still a nice visual.

·        Neville and TJP had a decent match that actually had good heat at first, but it died pretty fast as the bout went on. Both men were doing spots instead of weaving together a cohesive match which caused the crowd to mentally tune out. This was a disappointing outing considering the talent involved.

·        Enzo and Big Cass got a measure of revenge on Rusev and Jinder Mahal when they laid both men out to the crowd’s delight. Enzo’s promo was entertaining as always while Big Cass told Rusev that he wasn’t man enough to trap him in a room and beat him up like Enzo. Their feud continues, but it’s hard to feel sorry for the babyfaces because they tried to orchestra a booty call with a married woman. That’s not an easy thing to whitewash.

·        Braun Strowman to the rescue! I love how WWE deliberately puts on bad matches only for Strowman to destroy everyone in his path. He spared the audience from seeing The Shining Stars vs. Darren Young and Bo Dallas. If Strowman keeps this up, he’s going to become a babyface by default.

·        Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins was surprisingly entertaining. Strowman looked strong as the fans got behind him during the match. Rollins made him look like a monster, but it takes two to tango in order to pull off a good match. It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but I thought both men did a nice job accentuating their strengths instead of exposing their weaknesses in terms of Strowman’s inexperience.

·        Sami Zayn attacked Strowman from behind which led to the match being thrown out. Strowman and Zayn took their fight backstage while Chris Jericho made his way to the ring to pick the bones by nailing Rollins with a pair of Codebreakers as the segment came to an end.

·        Strowman was made to look strong without Rollins eating the pin. It was a showcase match that showed how destructive Strowman can be. Most importantly, the fans believe that he is a legit badass who should be feared. WWE might have found their next monster if they play their cards right.

·        Karl Anderson rolled up Goldust for the win in a decent tag team match. The 10:00 p.m. Lull Period of Death is starting to set in.

·        Rich Swann made quick work of Ariya Daivari with a spin kick, but his celebration was short-lived when Neville attacked him from behind during his post-match interview with Charly Caruso.

·        Neville took flight as he laid out Swann with the Red Arrow leading up to their nontitle match on 205 Live tomorrow night. It was a nice way to add heat to their bout, but Swann’s awkward promo undercut the impact of Neville’s attack.

·        Jack Gallagher is so awesome. He is a star in the making and his duel against Daivari tomorrow night on 205 Live should be entertaining.

·        Roman Reigns retained the United States Championship when he nailed Kevin Owens with a Spear for the win.

·        Seth Rollins provided the assist when he attacked Chris Jericho at ringside after Owens scored a close near fall after dropping Reigns with a Codebreaker. Owens laid out Rollins and delivered the “Suck It’” chop, but the distraction gave Reigns enough time to set him up for the aforementioned finish.

·        After the match was over, Rollins delivered the Pedigree to Owens followed by Reigns nailing Jericho with a Spear at ringside. KO falling on top of Y2J was a great spot as it appeared they were hugging each other after getting their asses handed to them. The show went off the air with Reigns and Rollins celebrating in the ring.

·        Reigns vs. Owens for the US Title was a good main event match. The crowd hated Reigns, but they showed him a little love when he dropped Owens with a Powerbomb. Outside of that, he was booed mercilessly.

·        The ending was also symbolic as WWE is starting to drop hints that Triple H is about to make his return to kick off the New Year. Football season is almost over which erases the company’s biggest competition on the ratings front. Raw is probably going to get killed during the College Football National Championship on January 9th, but it should be smooth sailing afterward as we head into WrestleMania season.

·        Triple H’s presence should help Rollins get over as a babyface if he has good material to work with. They have been ready to pull the trigger on this feud for well over a year. Let’s hope it’s worth the wait.

·        As for Reigns and Owens, I don’t see Reigns being the endgame when it comes to winning the Universal Championship. He is a placeholder for something bigger. It might be Owens vs. Jericho, but the title doesn’t have to be involved in order for them to have a good match. Reigns’ time will come, but I have a feeling that it won’t be at the Royal Rumble despite Jericho being trapped high above the ring in a shark cage.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was serviceable. It felt like a post-holiday house show that was televised on national television. The crowd was hot, but they were quick to chant for CM Punk when the show hit a rough patch.

·        Raw was an appetizer compared to the main entrée that is SmackDown Live’s Wild Card Finals which takes place tomorrow night. The broadcast team hyped the blue brand‘s end of the year spectacular throughout the night which makes it a must-see show. 

·        WWE did hype next week’s show as Goldberg will kick off the New Year as Raw emanates from Tampa, Florida. Also, Braun Strowman will face Sami Zayn in a Last Man Standing Match. Strowman has looked strong over the past couple of weeks. His match against Zayn at Roadblock was a snooze, but I expect both men to have a better showing because there is no time limit restricting what they can do in the ring. This will be a big test for Strowman. Let’s see if the big man can rise to the occasion.

·        2016 is almost a wrap. With one more live show to go, The Road to WrestleMania can officially begin. It’s another year where some things are already set in stone in terms of matches, but there is an air of mystery behind what’s to come as well. Here’s hoping that Raw starts filling in the blanks next week. And so it begins…Again.

On that note, this wraps up the final Raw Exposé of 2016. I hope you enjoyed it and will be back tomorrow with another installment of The SmackDown Files to wrap up the year. See you later, boys and girls! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The SmackDown Files: The Total Divas Primetime After School Special (12-20-2016)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. After a two-week delay, the match of the century is finally taking place as AJ Styles will face James Ellsworth for the WWE Championship. Was there a Miracle on Ellsworth Street or did Styles crush The Chinless One’s hopes and dreams? The answer to this question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order.

·        AJ Styles successfully defended his WWE Championship by demolishing James Ellsworth. What can I say? The Chin had it coming.

·        After the match was over, Styles said he was ready to celebrate Christmas and ring in 2017. Dolph Ziggler made his way to the ring and reminded Styles that he had a match against him next week for the WWE Title. Styles didn’t forget because Ziggler is complete afterthought who’s easy to beat.

·        Ziggler taunted Styles for losing to Ellsworth three times before finally taking care of business tonight. Both men continued to exchange words until Baron Corbin came out and claimed that Ziggler wouldn’t be the number one contender if he was in the Fatal Four Way Elimination Match last week. Ziggler responded by saying that he earned the right to face Styles while Corbin was too busy walking on the black carpet at the Revolver Awards.

·        Corbin guaranteed that Ziggler was going to lose and proceeded to sucker punch The Showoff. Ziggler tried to get back on offense but got caught with Corbin’s End of Days as the opening segment came to an end.

·        Corbin being inserted into the WWE Championship picture is a little random, but I guess it’s time for the creative team to start building up people for the Royal Rumble match next month. Corbin has a long way to go in the ring, but he has potential due to his flashy signature moves.

·        Also, the personality he displays on Talking Smack needs to translate to SD Live as well. Corbin’s weaknesses are exposed on the mic when he has to recite overly scripted dialogue.

·        Ziggler continues to be portrayed as a loser. When the fans go from chanting “What?” at Corbin to chanting “One More Time” after he laid Ziggler out says a lot. As I have stated on numerous occasions, Ziggler needs to turn heel. Stat!

·        Ziggler confronted Daniel Bryan backstage and demanded a match against Corbin. Bryan agreed, but it didn’t come without a caveat. If Corbin defeated Ziggler, he would face Styles next week for the WWE Title. The Showoff agreed since he is used to putting his livelihood on the line.

·        The Miz retained the Intercontinental Championship by defeating Apollo Crews with The Skull Crushing Finale. Miz gained an unfair advantage when he raked Crews’ eyes before hitting his finisher.

·        Crews took 90% of the match and looked impressive, but he can’t get over the hump when it comes to winning high profile matches. Hopefully, the creative team will flesh out his personality next year because he has all the tools to be a top-tier star.

·        Renee Young came out to interview The Miz and things took quite the turn when Miz said that Young was obsessed with Ambrose because she was sleeping with him. The fans gasped as Young slapped the taste out of Miz’s mouth before storming out of the ring.

·        I didn’t see that one coming. Young’s relationship with Ambrose has been public knowledge for a couple of years, but it hasn’t been acknowledged on WWE television until now. The Total Divas storylines are bleeding into the main show once again. Yippee! *Insert Sarcasm Here*

·        The world’s most obvious mystery was finally solved when Natalya admitted that she attacked Nikki Bella at Survivor Series last month after Carmella ratted her out.

·        Natalya called Carmella a Staten Island snitch which led to both ladies getting in a brief scuffle which ended with Natalya tossing Carmella into the Christmas tree and presents display on the main stage. Carmella ran backstage while Natalya ripped Nikki to shreds on the mic.

·        Nattie was jealous of Nikki’s success and said that John Cena would never marry her as the segment came to a close.

·        Natalya did a nice job, but her reasoning is seriously flawed. She is jealous of Nikki when they are both making money with their side projects. One can only assume that future episodes of Total Divas are going to show both ladies being the best of friends unless they manufacture an argument for the cameras.

·        Despite my issues with Natalya’s explanation, I am glad she has an edge to her character. Here’s hoping that her days of reciting song lyrics are over. It’s time for the Queen of Hearts to unleash her inner badass.

·        As for Nikki, she needs to speak from the heart instead of acting like an android. When given the right material to work with, she is a good talker. The sad puppy eyes and sexy pout can only carry her so far. She needs to be vulnerable babyface that fans can relate to on an emotional level. I think Nikki can pull it off if she is allowed to be herself instead of a second-rate clone. 

·        Dean Ambrose defeated Luke Harper with a rollup in a decent match. Ambrose didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton jumped him from behind.

·        Orton nailed Ambrose with an RKO as The Wyatt Family left him lying in the ring. The Miz came out with Maryse in tow to pick the bones as he dropped Ambrose with The Skull Crushing Finale.

·        It appears that Miz and Ambrose will be feuding over the IC Title. With Renee Young being thrown in the mix, I expect this to be an all-couples affair as WWE tries to give some cross-promotional love to Total Divas. Oh, joy!

·        I knew La Luchadora looked familiar. Becky Lynch pulled a fast one on Alexa Bliss when she made her tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her. It was a cute strategy because Lynch proved that she could beat Bliss fair and square whether she was in disguise or not. Let’s see if Lynch can do it again when she faces Bliss for the SmackDown Women’s Championship next week. 

·        Mojo Rawley knocked Curt Hawkins into next week when he nailed him with a wicked punch for the win. The match was serviceable while it lasted.

·        The match between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin ended in a double count-out after Corbin tossed Ziggler into AJ Styles while the champ was on guest commentary.

·        Styles whacked Corbin and Ziggler over the back with a steel chair repeatedly until Daniel Bryan appeared on the main stage.

·        Bryan announced that Styles would defend the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match against Ziggler and Corbin next week on SD Live. Styles was livid as the show went off the air.

·        This was an interesting booking decision as Corbin and Ziggler are not exactly fan favorites at the moment. Their main event match was decent at best, but it was nothing special as both men have struggled to have a good match against each other dating back to their feud earlier this year. Gifting both men with a WWE Title opportunity guarantees two things.

·        First, Styles is going to be viewed as the babyface in Chicago next week.

·        Second, The Phenomenal One is retaining the WWE Championship. Anything less would be asinine.

·        On the plus side, Corbin will get a chance to work with Styles which should tell us a lot about his career trajectory heading into next year. As I said last week, Styles has the Midas touch when it comes to getting people over. If he can elevate Corbin’s in-ring game, Vince McMahon needs to give King Styles a post-Christmas bonus for a job well done. Let’s see if The Lone Wolf can step up to the plate.

·        As for Ziggler, he is twisting in the wind until he turns heel if the creative team is ballsy enough to pull the trigger. He can take all the bumps in the world, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing because he’s damaged goods as a babyface. He needs a fresh look and attitude heading into next year because the fans will continue to chant “One More Time” when a heel is kicking his ass. It’s a sign that the fans no longer care about Ziggler from an emotional standpoint. The best way to remedy this situation is for him to tell them to kick rocks and be his own man. Here’s hoping that The Powers That Be will get the hint.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was okay at best. The in-ring action was light for the most part with the women getting most of the shine as Natalya admitted that she was Nikki Bella’s attacker while Renee Young entered the WWE storyline fold when Miz brought up her relationship with Dean Ambrose. Those moments popped the crowd more than any match that took place on the show outside of AJ Styles destroying James Ellsworth.

·        SD Live was in pre-Christmas cruise control, but I liked how WWE hyped next week’s show as it is the Wild Card Finals. I guess the company decided to skip the quarters and semis for whatever reason.

·        The Wyatt Family will defend their SmackDown Tag Team Titles against The Usos, American Alpha, and Heath Slater & Rhyno in Four Corners Tag Team Elimination Match.

·        Alexa Bliss will defend the SD Women’s Title against Becky Lynch while Styles will defend his WWE Title in a Triple Threat Match against Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin.

·        Plus, John Cena returns which should put the show over the top in terms of anticipation and excitement. I don’t know if the Chicago crowd is going to shower him with love, but he knows how to win over the hardcore male contingent. It should be a hot show as three championships are on the line. Let’s hope the blue brand ends the year on a high note. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. Merry Christmas, boys and girls!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Raw Exposé: How The Strowman Stole Christmas (12-19-2016)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from THE Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The fallout from Roadblock served as the central theme of the show as rivalries came to an end while others were just beginning as 2016 comes to a close. Did WWE hit the reset button before Christmas or will wait until January 2nd to sound the alarm? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.

·        The Hug of Jericho is such a beautiful thing. *sniff*

·        Santa Claus just made the List of Jericho. How blasphemous!

·        Mick Foley just had a hometown pop fail by accidentally saying that he was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania instead of Columbus, Ohio.

·        Mick Foley announced that Kevin Owens would have a WWE Universal Championship rematch against Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble while Chris Jericho is suspended high above the ring in a shark cage.

·        Jericho claimed that he was afraid of heights and that the craftsmanship of the shark cage was horrible because it was made in Ohio.

·        Foley assured him that the cage was sturdy and safe as Jericho stepped inside the cage to test it out.

·        Jericho was trapped in the cage as Foley searched frantically for the key. After rummaging through his fanny pack, Foley told Jericho that he misplaced the key.

·        Foley noted that Jericho was perfectly safe unless he gave the signal to raise the cage. He motioned for the cage to go up as Jericho screamed at the top of his lungs. The segment came to an end when he told the backstage crew to free Jericho during the commercial break.

·        This was a humorous way start to the show, but it was a little too cutesy for my taste despite the parties involved. In any event, the fans got a kick out of Jericho and Owens’ antics while Foley had to work twice as hard to win the crowd over after his cheap pop faux pas.

·        The main event will be Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. It should be a good match.

·        Big Cass got disqualified when he attacked Rusev in the corner and ignored the referee’s order to stop before the count of five. The action was pretty nondescript until the abrupt ending.

·        Sasha Banks came out to congratulate Charlotte on her win last night, but Nia Jax ruined the feel-good moment. Jax called Banks a weak little girl who didn’t live up to her Boss moniker. Things turned ugly when Jax kicked the crutch from Banks’ arm which caused her to fall down.

·        Jax tossed Banks knee-first into the ring ropes and threatened to whack her with the crutch. She dropped the crutch and left the ring as Banks tended to her injured knee.

·        It appears that a Banks-Jax feud is on the horizon. This is going to be a struggle for both ladies because their promos can be rough around the edges at times which could prevent people from caring about the buildup on an emotional level.

·        Also, Jax is still green in the ring. Banks has her work cut out for her. Can she carry someone who is less-seasoned to a good match? Bayley and Asuka managed to do it. We shall see if The Boss can get the job as well.

·        Cesaro and Sheamus were presented with brand new Raw Tag Team Title Belts. The belt is red, but the plate is silver like the belts on SmackDown Live. Oh joy. The belts look nice, though.

·        Cedric Alexander defeated Noam Dar with the Lumbar Check, but Dar had the last word when he said that all he wanted for Christmas was Alicia Fox. Dar is such a perv. That’s a compliment because he’s playing his role well. The match was fine while it lasted.

·        Big E had a great line when he said that Charlotte would break her father’s 16-time World Heavyweight Championship record in a month. It was low-key but funny as hell. And probably true which is scary as hell.

·        The New Day, Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Gallows and Anderson and The Shining Stars was good. It was the best match on the show so far as Kofi Kingston was the babyface in peril throughout. Kingston eventually made the hot tag to Big E who dropped Anderson with a series of Belly-to-Belly Suplexes. Sheamus made the blind tag when Big E was about to deliver the big splash onto Anderson. Epico tagged himself in the match and immediately got drilled with Sheamus’ Ten Beats of the Bodhran.

·        The Celtic Warrior made the hot tag to Cesaro and almost got a near fall which led to a parade of finishes down the stretch.

·        Sheamus nailed Primo with a Brogue Kick followed by Gallows taking Sheamus out with a big boot only for Big E to clothesline Gallows out of the ring which led to Anderson nailing Big E with a running knee only for Cesaro to cap things with a with a standing European uppercut to Anderson.

·        Cesaro delivered the Big Swing to Epico before locking him the Sharpshooter for the win.

·        I am not a big fan of Sheamus being a glory hog after winning the Raw Tag Team Championship. Cesaro and Sheamus solidified their partnership during a bar room brawl a few weeks ago. There is no need for the Odd Couple shtick to rear its ugly head again.

·        I love heel Neville. He desperately needed this change in attitude.

·        Rich Swann came out to confront Neville only for The Brian Kendrick to stick his nose in their business. Kendrick claimed that he wanted Neville in the Cruiserweight Division since day one. Swann got the jump on both men but quickly got double teamed until TJ Perkins made his way to the ring. Perkins was met with a stiff kick from Neville while Kendrick finished him off with Slice Bread #2.

·        Neville’s heel turn has breathed new life into the Cruiserweight Division as he brings instant credibility as a pissed off wrestler who has a score to settle with Swann. Hopefully, this gives the division a clear sense of direction when it comes to blending the individual storylines with the action taking place in the ring. By doing so, the fans will care about the performers on an emotional level.

·        For the first time ever, I am glad to see Braun Strowman as he just spared the audience from seeing Sin Cara vs. Titus O’Neil. Thank you, kind sir.

·        Strowman tossed Sin Cara into the Christmas tree and presents off the main stage. He proceeded to destroy another tree before heading backstage. It appears that Strowman is full of jeer this holiday season. Bah Humbug!

·        Charlotte generated instant heel heat when she stated that Clemson was going to beat Ohio State in the College Football Playoffs on New Year’s Eve. She’s a smart cookie.

·        Bayley is next in line for Charlotte’s Raw Women’s Championship. After all, The Hugger Extraordinaire is 2-0 against The Queen. Charlotte said that Bayley was the fourth Horsewoman for a reason because she, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch left her behind in NXT because she couldn’t measure up to them.

·        Bayley refuted Charlotte’s claim and challenged her to a match. Charlotte accepted as their bout got underway after the commercial break.

·        Bayley extends her streak to 3-0 when she pinned Charlotte with a backslide. However, the ending was controversial as Charlotte’s shoulder was up before the count of three. Despite the visual evidence, the referee’s decision is final.

·        The match was solid, but the crowd was dead in spots. Bayley and Charlotte work well together, but they are holding back the big stuff until they face off at a major PPV with the Women’s Title at stake.

·        Bayley needs to retire The Slip N’ Slide. It’s a cute move, but it could get very annoying if she does it too many times. That was the case tonight as Bayley barely got a reaction when she performed the spot on Charlotte’s back. Outside of that, the match clicked for the most part.

·        Sensitivity Training with Enzo Amore < Anger Management Class with Kane and Daniel Bryan. It’s basic mathematics.

·        Enzo Amore was laid out by Rusev thanks to an assist from Jinder Mahal and Lana. Enzo can’t catch a break, but he brought this on himself when he tried to sleep with a married woman. Plus, it appears that Mahal and Rusev have joined forces. That’s an odd duo, but it gives Mahal something to do. Here’s hoping that he makes the best of this opportunity.

·        Braun Strowman made his presence known during the main event when he attacked Roman Reigns which led to an automatic disqualification.

·        Strowman laid out Seth Rollins with a running power slam as Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens ran for the hills. Before making their big escape, they tossed Reigns back in the ring for Strowman to destroy. The big man delivered a wicked running power slam to Reigns as Owens and Jericho praised Strowman for a job well done. The show ended with Strowman standing tall while Reigns and Rollins were taking a nap in the ring.

·        Prior to the outside interference, the match featuring Reigns and Rollins vs. Owens and Jericho was solid. It started off slow because Reigns was the babyface in peril for most of the match. Things picked up when Rollins got the hot tag. He ran wild as the crowd came to life down the stretch. The Strowman Factor was a nice surprise which shook things up for a change. Plus, the fans didn’t cheer when he took out Reigns. That’s a positive because the reaction could have gone either way considering how some fans have a blind hatred towards Reigns.

·        Strowman basking in the main event spotlight seems to be a one night deal until Sami Zayn comes back next week after Foley gave him the night off. I don’t think the world is ready to see Strowman vs. Reigns yet. 

·        However, this is a sneak preview of what Strowman will do during the Royal Rumble match next month. Expect chaos until Goldberg and Lesnar hit the ring. 

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. The first hour of the show was light in terms of in-ring action and heavy on slapstick comedy.

·        The eight man tag was the best match on the show with nothing really coming close. This was not the best follow-up to Roadblock: End of the Line. The PPV was booked and promoted as a throwaway show and tonight’s broadcast didn’t inspire yuletide cheer outside of a few key segments.

·        The creative team deserves a little praise for announcing the Owens vs. Reigns Universal Championship rematch at the Royal Rumble next month. Michael Cole made a good point when he stated that Jericho would be suspended high above the ring in a shark cage inside the Alamo Dome. Jericho’s antics might overshadow the match because he is bound to do something crazy. Plus, the crowd is probably going to boo Reigns out of the building because it’s been the in thing to do since 2015. This must be Reigns’ least favorite PPV in terms of being unanimously hated by the audience.

·        WWE is in holiday mode, but they can’t sleep their way through next Monday’s show as Raw emanates from Chicago. That crowd is rabid and anything less than a solid show might cause them to hijack the proceedings. It will not be a pretty sight. Let’s hope that the final Raw of 2016 is a good one. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!