My WWE Battleground 2014 Predictions – The Results

image

Yeesh, once again this article is well and truly late. I watched Battleground on Monday, and then completely forgot about this until Friday, when I remembered right in the middle of watching TNA Impact (which is currently actually worth watching for once, thanks to being in NYC), so here it is, the results of my WWE Battleground predictions.

Whilst I didn’t think the show was the crime against humanity many others do, it also definitely wasn’t as good as it could/should have been. It all just felt like a place-holder for Summerslam. I would have much rather had a 6-week build to that show like Wrestlemania gets every year, but hey, there was some good stuff here.

So let’s get on with it!

Cameron Vs Naomi

Pre-Show Match

I didn’t watch the pre-show, so I didn’t see this at all. Apparently it was crap. I said Naomi would win, but I was wrong, so… yeah.

0/8

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

Despite wrongly predicting that the Wyatts would win, just like last month, this was by far the best match of the night, and a hell of a good time. I liked all of these team’s previous matches, and like I thought, the 2 out of 3 falls stipulation really upped everything to the next level. I particularly liked the frantic final fall, which was just crazy. I think what stood out to me in this match was how good Erick Rowan has become. He’s always been in the shadow of his team-mates Bray and Harper, but he’s actually grown into a really fun performer. Much like with Roman Reigns, where he was allowed to grow by having his weaknesses covered by two awesome dudes. Although I don’t think Rowan will be breaking out on his own any time soon. It is a shame that the Wyatts lost, especially because Bray lost as well, and they pretty much feel like losers. I do wonder what’s next for the Usos, they have beaten every challenger, who can actually beat them? It’s not going to be The Ascension is it?

0/8

AJ Lee (C) Vs Paige

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

This match pretty much went exactly as I thought it would. OK, it wasn’t as long and hard-fought as I said, and they waited until RAW for the Paige heel-turn, but still, it was fun. It’s amazing how much better Paige is as a bad guy, and her beat-down of AJ was fucking hardcore. I’m very much excited for the proper hate-fuelled clash at Summerslam. Yes, we could have had that match way back at Extreme Rules, but I think the delay might have actually made it more exciting. It is a shame that this another of example of ‘this was OK, but it will all make sense at Summerslam’, but hey. If that show is good, then all will be forgiven.

1/8

Jack Swagger Vs Rusev

After the Tag-Title Match, this was probably the best bout of the night, it was only 10 minutes, but it was really good. Just 2 big bastards going at each other with a very hot crowd. I was wrong in picking Swagger to win, but I’m not even bothered, as the way Rusev won was by count-out, which means a re-match is sure to follow, and it was not the usual Rusev squash. Unfortunately, it seems like Lana’s pre-match promo has over-shadowed the match and the story might have been dropped. I think that’s pretty mental, as Lana barely even mentioned MH17, she just said ‘recent events’. The way people were talking on Monday it was like she explicitly mocked the victims. People need to stop over-reacting so we can get Swagger/Rusev II at Summerslam.

1/8

Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins

Yeesh, I don’t even know where to start. This match didn’t even happen, which is just… infuriating. Dean Ambrose attacked Rollins back-stage, which meant that Triple H kicked him out of the building. I know that it’s all leading to an actual match at Summerslam, but you shouldn’t be doing stuff like this on PPVs, save the bait and switch from Raw. But, like with Paige/AJ, if the Summerslam match is as epic as promised, then this will be forgotten. And to make matters worse, Rollins officially ‘won’ by forfeit so I get another wrong prediction! Boooo!

1/8

Bray Wyatt Vs Chris Jericho

Hooray! I got this one right, as Jericho beat Bray! I thought this was an OK match, it didn’t quite live up to the idea of it I had in my head, and ended in a really strange, out of nowhere way, but it was solid, and, once again looking forward to Summerslam, it makes me think that the rematch will be really good. It seems like losing to Y2J is going to push Bray Wyatt back to what he should be, he’s lost far too many big matches this year, so hopefully a firm win at Summerslam will help right the wrongs of constantly losing to Cena. I know I certainly enjoyed seeing him annihilate R-Truth on Smackdown

2/8

20-Man Battleground Battle Royal for the Vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship

This, like all Battle Royals, was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, I was wrong in my prediction that Bo Dallas would win, and instead The Miz eliminated Dolph Ziggler last to become the new IC Champ. I actually really dig this. The Miz’s new Hollywood character has been brilliant, and the way he won, by hiding on the outside for most of the match, was very clever. I also really liked the brilliant Miz TV segment on this week’s Smackdown, which was by far the best Miz TV since Brock just threw sofas at the host. It featured not only Bo Dallas, but also Dolph and the glorious return of Miz’s parents! It looks like that trio of Miz, Dolph and Bo is where they are going for Summerslam, which I’m down for. I’ve always heard that Miz was actually quite good a few years ago, before the Rock screwed him over at Wrestlemania 27, and it seems like he’s showing a similar level right now. He’s so hateable, it’s great.

2/8

John Cena (C) Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns

Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Yeah, the main event went pretty much as I expected as well. John Cena won, and we’re on to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, which I am very excited for. I actually thought this was a fun match, with most of the competitors doing some fun stuff. Randy Orton continues to be just as good as he was in the early part of the year, which is a shame, as he has really become lost in the shuffle, and STILL hasn’t had his one-on-one rematch. I’m actually feeling sorry for Randy! Hopefully the rumoured singles match between him and Reigns will be good. I thought Reigns once again looked like he belonged in the main event, but I still fear for him in singles matches. He spent so long in 6-Man tags, and now that he’s on his own, he’s still not been given the chance to sink or swim on his own. That needs to happen soon, he did have a solid match with Del Rio on Smackdown I suppose. As for Cena, he was fine, but yeah, I’m mostly just waiting for Brock to legit murder him. That Paul Heyman promo… fuck yes, bring it on.

3/8

Oh man, 3 out of 8? That is terrible. I am terrible.

In terms of non-announced stuff, there was an Adam Rose/Fandango match on the pre-show that I didn’t see, and that’s it. The grindhousey Summerslam promo was great though.

I’ll be back in 3 weeks with predictions for that show, which better be fucking good. This show was just a massive teaser for that event, so if they fuck it up then, then I’ll have wasted 6 hours of my life, rather than just 3.

My WWE Battleground 2014 Predictions

image

The 2nd ever WWE Battleground is live this Sunday from Tampa, and man, I only just remembered it was this weekend last night. I had almost totally forgotten about it. Which is weird, because it actually looks like being a really good show. WWE set up some really cool stuff on the post-MITB episode of RAW, and even though a lot of the stories haven’t really moved that much since then, I expect the actual matches involved to be good to great. It might all end up being set-up for SummerSlam, but hey.

Cameron Vs Naomi

Pre-Show Match

Insert your lazy ‘The Funkadactyls EXPLODE’ joke here. This match came about during the build-up to Naomi’s match against Paige at Money In The Bank, with Cameron basically getting jealous that her partner was getting all of this attention, and she wasn’t. I expected her to interfere and cost Naomi the win at that PPV, but it didn’t happen, they waited until after they lost a Tag-Team Match against AJ and Paige. Since then, there hasn’t been that much interaction between the two of them, which is kind of weird. I think this will be an OK match, Naomi is of course really good, and personally don’t think Cameron is as bad as some people say. She’s not as good as Naomi, sure, but she’s certainly better than Eva Marie, for example. I’ll go for a Naomi win here, but that’s a tentative guess.

Jack Swagger Vs Rusev

Man, I am so excited for this match. I’m not American or Russian, but still, it should be great. Ever since Rusev and Lana debuted, I’ve been wanting a feud between them and a Face Swagger and Zeb, I finally got it, and it’s been great. It is a little weird to suddenly be cheering the xenophobic racists, but I think they have done a good job at making Lana and Rusev so much more over-the-top and evil that the Real Americans seem reasonable by comparison. Every segment building up to this has been a lot of fun, mostly down to the fan reaction. They have booed the Russians so loudly, and cheered the Americans even more so. It’s crazy how ‘over’ Swagger is, and a great testament to how good on the microphone Zeb Colter is. When I saw WWE Live in May, he got the loudest boos, and now he’s getting the loudest cheers. Dutch Mantell, what a legend. Anyway, the match itself should be good too, much like Big E, Swagger is a great opponent for Rusev, because he is big, but also surprisingly quick. This should be a grand ol’ hoss-fight, made even better by the crowd. I can’t really pick a winner. I’m not sure Rusev should lose just yet, but I don’t want Swagger to lose any momentum. I’ll pick Swagger, but I can see them pushing his win another month to SummerSlam, for maximum patriotism.

Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins

Another match I am absurdly excited for. We all know that Seth Rollins turned on Dean Ambrose (and Roman Reigns) the night after Payback, and since then, Dean has been out for vengeance. They’ve tangled outside the ring, and of course the Money In The Bank Ladder Match was all about them, but now we finally get a 1-on-1 contest. It should be, no, it will be, amazing. These 2 guys put on the best matches in the WWE as a team, they can do even better as enemies. I think Ambrose will win, and probably in a way that ensures Rollins is unable to cash-in his Briefcase. I am still loving how Ambrose is constantly foiling his attempts, but it’s time for it to be done differently. Perhaps the match will just end in a no contest, with Dean just brawling Seth into the crowd. He has previous of just disappearing with his opponent, remember Shield/Wyatts?

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

This feud hasn’t progressed or changed at all since Money In The Bank, but I’m still very excited for this match. This is because it’s a 2 out of 3 falls match, and I bloody love that stipulation. It’s such a simple idea, but it makes the match so much more epic. These 2 teams have great chemistry, as we’ve seen for the last 6 months, and I think this will be their best match. I can’t really pick a winner here either, but let’s go for The Wyatt Family, I thought it would happen last time, but I was wrong. There time is now! In terms of the order of the falls, this doesn’t count as a solid prediction, but I’ll go for Usos, Wyatts, Wyatts.

AJ Lee (C) Vs Paige

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

Much like with Swagger/Rusev, this is another PPV match I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I thought it would happen at Extreme Rules, but AJ took a (deserved) break, and now it’s finally happening, but not in the way I expected it. I thought we’d have plucky face Paige against crazy evil AJ, but now we’ve got both women kind of playing good guys, with both of them saying that they respect and like eachother, but with tension under the surface. As awkward as Paige constantly talking about ‘frenemies’ was, it is true. It seems very obvious that this match will involve one of the 2 participants fully turning heel, and I think it will be Paige. AJ will win, after a hard-fought match that goes on a lot longer than their 2 RAW bouts did, and afterwards, Paige will snap and kick the living shit out of AJ, leading to a proper blood-feud. Mutual respect is all well and good, but we all know that hate-based wrestling is the best.

Bray Wyatt Vs Chris Jericho

Y2J made his surprise return the night after Money In The Bank, got into it with the also-returning Miz, and then got attacked by The Wyatt Family. Hence, a match. I do feel like this feud hasn’t been as good as it could be. Jericho has done some good promos, but Wyatt is still doing the same stuff he did when feuding with Cena, going on about heroes and how they lie to us. I think he needs to find something new to talk about to be honest. He’s still a brilliantly compelling character, but he’s getting repetitive. I do think this will be a good match though, probably just like in the Cena feud, the story there was nonsense, but all 3 matches were pretty great (yes, even the Cage Match, at least until the ending). I think Jericho will win, but there will be some kind of rematch at Summerslam where Bray will come out victorious in the end. Or maybe it will be the other way around, I dunno.

20-Man Battleground Battle Royal for the Vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship

After Bad News Barrett was cruelly injured just before Money In The Bank, he was forced to vacate his IC title. In order to crown a new champion, we’ve got a 20-Man Battle Royal, and it, like most Battle Royals, should be pretty fun. But, also like most Battle Royals, it’s hard to pick a winner. There are some obvious favourites, like Sheamus and Cesaro, both of whom have won significant Battle Royals recently. Fandango and Dolph Ziggler have been vaguely feuding, so they could spice that up with the Intercontinental Title, and I could also see The Miz winning to kick-off his return ‘push’, but it could be anyone. Except for the absolute jobbers in there. But even then… Another thing that makes this match intriguing is that Bad News Barrett will be there to hand over the belt to the new champion, which could be an indication of a new storyline. Perhaps Barrett isn’t as injured as we thought, and he’s going to be feuding with whoever the winner is? I’d like to see that, especially if it means BNB as a good guy. But who knows, I’ll pick Bo Dallas, just for the fun of it. I think he’s been brilliantly entertaining, but it’s time for him to get an actual storyline, and he does have pre-existing history with Barrett… I bo-lieve it.

John Cena (C) Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns

Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

And now the main event, which is probably the Match I’m least excited for, but it will probably still be decent. John Cena won the WWE WHC at Money In The Bank, and it immediately became clear that, even though The Authority don’t hate Cena nearly as much as they did Daniel Bryan,  they don’t want him to be Champion because they can’t control him. So they started stacking those pesky odds against Cena in an attempt to get the belt off of him. Seth Rollins has tried to cash-in twice, and now he’s in a match where he doesn’t even need to get pinned to lose. There are actually quite a few cool moving pieces here. Randy Orton and Kane are supposed to be working together, but they don’t like each other at all, and even though Roman Reigns and Cena are both good guys, they don’t get along either, although is some of that lame-ass ‘mutual respect’. I think these elements will combine for a fun, chaotic match, that will probably also involve Ambrose & Rollins, but in the end, Cena will come out victorious. It’s kind of annoying that WWE’s SummerSlam plans have leaked, and that we all know it’s going to be Cena Vs Brock II. We’ve seen Paul Heyman sidle up to The Authority and offer a ‘Plan C’, and it seems very obvious what that will be. But of course, nothing is ever obvious, and Plan C could be Cesaro, or even CM Punk (hahaha, no). Hell, we could be getting Cena Vs Brock II anyway, but without the title, and the SummerSlam title match could be Reigns Vs Orton or Reigns Vs Rollins, or whoever. But I still think that they won’t swerve us, Cena will win here, then Brock will come back on RAW, and we’ll get what we expect.

So there you have it. I’ll be back next week to reflect on the show, hopefully it will live up to expectations.

See you then.

The Ides Of July 2014

It’s the 15th of the Month, and you know what that means! What’s that? You don’t? Well, basically, it means that I review all of the various films, books, TV shows, movies, video games and music I imbibed over the last 30 days.

Simple, but effective.

This month is truncated column, because my life has pretty much been dominated by the World Cup. With 1 or more games on every day, I haven’t had time for anything else really. Just 1 film, no music, only 1 book, no games and far fewer TV shows than usual.

Maybe I should just add a ‘Sport’ section and talk about the World Cup?

Nah.

Movies

image

As I said, I only managed to watch 1 movie this month, but it was a good one, in the form of The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson 2014). I’m not a huge fan of Wes Anderson, so take this with a bit of a pinch of salt, but I think this is by far his best film. I just think that his unique perspective and aesthetic works far better in a (semi-fictionalised) period setting than in the present day. It doesn’t come across as cutesy or twee because it’s not people being old-fashioned, they are just in the actual past. The whole film is anchored by a superb comedic performance from Ralph Fiennes, who is mindblowingly good, but pretty much every one is good in it, and when I say every one… I mean every one, this thing has a huge cast. Pretty much every scene had a great cameo in it. It was just a hugely enjoyable 99 minutes, and it has very much spurred me on to check out the Anderson films I’ve not seen, like Moonrise Kingdom. Perhaps I like him more than I say I do?

 

TV

image

Summer is, as we know, a quiet time for TV, but there are 2 new series this month! Well, they are new seasons of familiar shows.

First up is The Legend Of Korra (Nickelodeon), which, in the space of only 3 weeks, unleashed the first 5 episodes of it’s 3rd season. I’ve only watched the first 3 so far, but they have been very good, with the writers fully exploring the new possibilities presented by the events of Season 2. The Spirit World and the ‘real’ world are now combined, and that’s bringing a lot of problems, but the biggest deal is of course the rebirth of the Airbenders, which is a long time coming. Ever since Episode 2 of The Last Airbender, we’ve known that the world is not balanced as the Avatar should be making it, but now that balance is on it’s way back. It’s heady stuff for a children’s show to be dealing with a genocide and the recovery from it, but it works. It helps that the characters are so much fun, and that the new villains, including one that’s voiced by Henry Rollins, are so intriguing. And best of all, Zuko has made an apperance! Old Man Zuko! It’s amazing. I need to watch Episodes 4 and 4 ASAP, but so far, this is still the best ‘serious’ cartoon on the air, and, combined with the original series, one of my favourite fictional worlds.

Also returning is Under The Dome (CBS), which is still as gloriously bonkers and stupid as ever. In the 2 episodes so far this year, so much mad stuff has happened. It’s not exactly a good show, but I do enjoy it, you never know what to expect. I’m not quite sure why they seem to be trying to redeem Big Jim, it doesn’t work for me, but hey, Dean Norris is so awesome you might as well try it. The new characters are odd too, the creepy guy who lives in the woods is, well, creepy, and wooden, the mute magic girl is more bonkers than stupid, and the Science Teacher is just annoying. Although I do like that she’s less of the kooky love interest than first seemed, and could actually be a big villain. And also, Stephen King made a cameo! I think he even wrote the first episode too, which makes sense, as ridiculous as the ‘evil magnetic dome’ was, it somehow managed to seem threatening.

Now, quick hits!

Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) continued to be absolutely hilarious and inventive. I loved the Lizzy Caplan episode that parodied lazy ‘Top 10 List’ programs, and I think the sketch where Scott Aukerman was hunting for the best burger in America… and his wife’s murderer, was one of the best things I have ever seen. Aukerman is so good at acting like a terrible TV host. The show is on hiatus for a little while now I think, so that’s the perfect time to catch up. Watch it!

The Game Of Thrones (HBO) Season 4 finale also fell within this month, and damn, it was good. The death of Tywin lived up to my expectations, and the brilliant fight between The Hound and Brienne defied them. I do have some worries about the future, particularly as the show has pretty much already caught up with Bran’s storyline, and even some others. GRRM better get Book 6 out soon. But man, it was a brilliant finale, each moment made me both sad that it was over and pumped for next year.

Finally, Halt And Catch Fire (AMC) has continued to be solid, if not as amazing as the pilot promised. I’m still really enjoying most of the performances, but the meat of the story is lacking I think. I suppose it’s mainly got that problem of telling us, rather than showing us, how amazing and genius Cameron, Joe, Gordon and their computers are. Sometimes you just need a little thing like Walter White’s meth being blue to make it seem special. At this point, I’m not sure why I should care about the computer, and what quite makes it different from it’s contemporaries. But as I said, the acting is still great, particularly Lee Pace, who just gets more and more enigmatic. I think the fate of this show rests on the last 3 episodes, if they are good, the whole season will feel good, but if not? Uh-oh.

 

Music

image

No new Music this month, I’m basically still listening to Jack White and The Black Keys from last time, and very much enjoying them. I will give a special mention to Arcade Fire. I didn’t watch much Glastonbury coverage, but I did see their set, and thought it was great. This has spurred me into giving Reflektor, which I was kind of disappointed in, another few listens, and I’m liking it a lot more now. It is still too long, but there are lot more good songs on there than I initially thought. A lot more songs that, when they came up at Glastonbury, made me go ‘oooh, I like that one’.

 

Books

image

In terms of Books, I finished off the last 50-odd pages of Prince Of Fools (2014) by Mark Lawrence, and it finished the story off very well. The final action scenes were written excellently, and with a satisfying twist. The fact that Snorri’s family had basically been dead the entire time was so dark. I’m not too sure how I feel about the very end, with Jalan and Snorri swapping their angels and devils. It seems like Lawrence is just throwing away a lot of Jalan’s character development, and it also means that, if Book 2 has Jalan being possessed by a demon, we won’t really have ever gotten to see what the ‘real’ Jalan is like, he’s always being manipulated by some outside force. Is he actually a fool? Who the heck knows!

After this, it was more fantasy from another of my favourites, the latest from Joe Abercrombie, Half A King (2014), which, like all of his novels, I liked a lot. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the ‘First Law’ series just yet, but I can’t really pinpoint why. It might be because the violence is toned down slightly, as this book is supposedly ‘YA’, but it was still pretty damn dark. I think it might be because it feels a bit more generic than The First Law, the Viking setting is reminiscent of a lot of other books, and stuff like ‘Elf Metal’ feels very similar to Scott Lynch, and the conflicts between new and old religions is all in Game Of Thrones too. But in the end, that doesn’t matter, because this is a great story. Yarvi is a fantastic character, very much in the spirit of Abercrombie’s other great, flawed protagonists, and the ending in particular surprised me. It was perhaps a bit convenient that ‘Nothing’ turned out to be who he was, but it was a great moment, and I liked how Abercrombie didn’t go where he thought he would with Yarvi. It seemed like we were seeing him grow from a weak child to a true warrior, but it doesn’t quite happen like that. It’s less hero’s journey, and more anti-hero’s journey. I’m very intrigued as to where Abercrombie will go with this series, the ending leaves things very open indeed.

Next month… I’ll be back on my Michael Connelly binge, oh yes.

 

Games

No games this month, not even the odd game of FIFA to simulate the World Cup. I promise I will get back to Red Dead now that the tournament is over. I do, really.

So that’s that, yeah, not much going on except the Football really. Hopefully, The Ides Of August will be a lot more involving, and involve less German victories.

(I don’t actually mind Germany winning, they are great, surprisingly likeable team).

My WWE Money In The Bank 2014 Predictions – The Results

image

MITB 2014 was 2 weeks ago now, and I’m only just getting around to doing this! My apologies, but I’ve been really rather busy with work and the World Cup and just life in general.

Because it’s been so long, my memory of this show has faded a little, so there probably won’t be much in the way of detail, this will be more like me just seeing how wrong I was.

And man, I was wrong a lot this time!

But let’s get on with it…

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Tag-Team Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

I thought that the Wyatts would win this, but I was wrong, as The Usos retained after one hell of a great match. I think I’m at the point of this feud where I’m still enjoying these 2 teams constantly fight each other (they had another great one on the 07/07/14 RAW), but it could very well be getting to Del Rio/Ziggler territory where I’m sick of it soon. It looks like there might be another match at Battleground, which I’m cool with, but yeah, The Wyatts should win then.

0/7

Paige (C) Vs Naomi

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

This was a solid match, and it went the way I expected, with Paige retaining. But this whole thing was over-shadowed by the glorious return of AJ on the next night’s RAW. It didn’t go as I expected, because AJ is now a face and we are probably looking at a Paige heel-turn, but it was still a brilliant moment, and a true surprise that she became Divas Champion so quickly once again. I think these last few months of solid but unspectacular matches have been great for Paige, and now we could have some epic stuff, and have the women’s division be about more than who’s on a reality show and who’s not. In terms of Naomi, Cameron didn’t fully turn on her here, but it has happened on RAW now, so that’s another possibly good story, although that one is very much Total Divas.

1/7

Dean Ambrose Vs Dolph Ziggler Vs Jack Swagger Vs Kofi Kingston Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Seth Rollins

Money In The Bank Ladder Match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Contract

First things first, Bad News Barrett’s injury kept him out of this match, and he’s now out indefinitely and has been stripped of the IC Title. This totally sucks, because BNB was on a roll, but I do think it could be a boost for him, when he returns, he should get a big reaction and then be put into the World title scene, rather than IC/US. Other than that, this was a fantastic match, full of the craziness and danger you expect from a Money In The Bank Match. Kofi, Dolph and Seth Rollins all did some crazy shit for sure. In the end, my prediction was wrong, I thought Ambrose would win, and he almost did, but Kane interfered to help his Authority team-mate Rollins win. But I don’t really mind, as the story we’ve got at the moment, with Ambrose vowing to stop Rollins from ever cashing in is pretty damn great. I would be happy if every RAW for the next year featured Rollins trying to cash in and Ambrose ruin it for him. I would never get tired of it.

1/7

Rybaxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel) Vs Goldust & Stardust

The Rhodes Brothers won as I thought, it was creepy and great, not much else to say. Oh yeah, Curtis Axel was wearing a weird singlet, it looked wrong. I am a bit annoyed by the fact that the last few RAWs and Smackdowns have only had backstage segments with Stardust and not matches, I want to see him in the ring!

2/7

Big E Vs Rusev

I got this wrong, I thought Big E would win, but instead Rusev continued his winning streak. I did enjoy it though, especially when it looked like Big E was going to break out of ‘The Accolade’, that has to happen for real sometime. But much like Paige/Naomi, this has been over-shadowed by events on RAW, where Jack Swagger and Zeb turned face and we are set for a Rusev/Swagger match. I am so excited for that, even though the Real Americans really shouldn’t work as faces. It’ll be a hoss-fight for the ages.

2/7

Summer Rae Vs Layla

Fandango is the Special Guest Referee

This was all kinds of terrible. I don’t even want to remember it. But, I did get Layla winning right, and Fandango in a ref shirt was funny. That’s it.

3/7

Alberto Del Rio Vs Bray Wyatt Vs Cesaro Vs John Cena Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns Vs Sheamus

Ladder Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Yeah, so I thought Bray Wyatt would win, what a sucker I am huh? Of course he didn’t win, it was obviously John Cena. But I don’t really mind, it’s apparent that John is just holding onto the belt until Summerslam, where he’s going to get fucking BROCKED. The future Bray is pretty bright too though, as on RAW, Chris Jericho returned to feud with The Wyatts, which I am very excited for indeed, I think Y2J and Bray could have some great matches. Miz also came back, and is doing a brilliant ‘Hollywood Miz’ gimmick, but it’s not clear where they are going with him, I’d like to see him feud with Sheamus over the US title or something. This was an enjoyable match, but probably not as good as the Briefcase mach, probably because there wasn’t anyone in here who could do flippy high-flying stuff. But there were great moments, like Cesaro and Sheamus hanging from the belts, and Randy Orton doing an insanely awesome RKO off the ladder. Orton also bled like a stuck pig in this match, which was great. These types of matches are pretty much always fun, and this delivered, even if the ending left something to be desired. All we can do is wait for Lesnar.

3/7

Man, 3 out of 7? That fucking sucks. I need to improve with my Battleground predictions for sure, and shit, it’s only in 1 and a half weeks! Too soon! Too soon!

My WWE Money In The Bank 2014 Predictions

image

Money In The Bank is live tonight in Boston, and man, it is a very exciting show, mainly because of the Main Event, which is an 8-Man Ladder Match for the Vacant WWE World Heavyweight Title. Throw in the 7-Man Traditional Briefcase Ladder Match, and that leaves us with 15 possible New Champions. As much as I love Daniel Bryan and would have preferred him not to be stripped, this is a far more exciting prospect. MITB Matches are almost always awesome, but the stakes here are so high, it’s unbelievable.

In addition to this, there are several exciting other matches, so I expect this to be a great show, so let’s not waste any time and get down to the predictions!

Big E Vs Rusev

Man, this feud has been one of the most stop/start things I have ever seen. One week it seems like they’ve forgotten about it and moved on, but then the next week it’s back, and Big E is going after Rusev and speaking in a weird preacher voice. This weird pacing has meant it’s fairly hard to care about this match, but I think it could be good. The previous bout between these 2 at Payback was very enjoyable, if way too short, and if they allow a bit more time, we could have something really cool. I think I’ll predict Big E to win, here, just because I think it’s time for Rusev to lose, and develop a new kind of storyline. The reaction to him squaring off against Roman Reigns in that Battle Royale showed that fans want to see him in a competitive environment, so even a long, equal match that he won against Big E would go a long way to achieving that.

Summer Rae Vs Layla

Fandango is the Special Guest Referee

This match has been building for quite a while now, and for some weird reason, I’m actually kind of excited to see it. It all began when Fandango broke up with Summer Rae on Twitter in order to write Summer off TV to go film a movie. Whilst Summer was away, Fandango got together with Layla. Eventually, Summer came back, and of course, she’s jealous. It is kind of difficult to work out who the good guy is supposed to be in this storyline, because both Layla and Summer Rae have acted like awful people. Hopefully the way they wrestle this match will go some way to answering that. I honestly have no idea which way it will go, and, with special guest referees, clean outcomes are never likely. I think I’ll go for a Layla victory, which will allow Summer Rae to move on and start having regular singles matches like she does on NXT.

Rybaxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel) Vs The Gold Brotherhood (Goldust & Stardust)

This is a rematch from Payback, but I am much more excited for it this time, and it’s all because of Cody Rhodes’ reinvention of himself into the amazing ‘Stardust’. Cody’s crisis of confidence dragged on way for way too long, but man, the end result was worth it, every second of Stardust on TV has been brilliant so far, and I can’t wait to see another match, even if it is against Rybaxel again. Nothing against Rybaxel, but it seems like they are the only team the Rhodes’ ever fight. Obviously The Gold Brotherhood are going to win, but it’s going to be brilliant. Stardust is the best thing, and I hope it goes on for a long time.

Paige (C) Vs Naomi

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

Holy crap, a second women’s match on a WWE Pay-Per-View! This is amazing! And this is an actual match, rather than a love triangle bit of fluff. There hasn’t been much of a build to this really, with just some mutual respect between Paige and Naomi, but I think it will be a very good match, as these are 2 of the best women in the WWE. The real story here seems to involve a break-up between Naomi and her fellow Funkadactyl, Cameron, which has been pretty painfully sketched out on commentary. The obvious outcome here is that Naomi almost beats Paige, and then is screwed by Cameron, leading to a feud. It might be obvious, but I’ll still predict it! Paige to win thanks to Cameron.

Bad News Barrett Vs Dean Ambrose Vs Dolph Ziggler Vs Jack Swagger Vs Kofi Kingston Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Seth Rollins

Money In The Bank Ladder Match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Contract

The traditional MITB match is here, and it features all of your favourite midcard shlubs, along with 2 former Shield guys. Realistically, I really only think that either Ambrose or Rollins will win, they have an actual, gripping storyline going into the match, and they are the only guys who at this point, fit the bill as Champion. I could maybe see Ziggler or Barrett, as they have also been feuding, but it’s unlikely, and we still don’t even know if Barrett will be in the match at all. I hope he is, but that injury on Smackdown looked pretty rough. All in all, I’m just hoping for the kind of glorious carnage we get in MITB matches. I want Kofi to do something crazy and for RVD to jump off a ladder. When it comes to picking a winner, I’ll go for Ambrose, just because Rollins seems too obvious, but really, it could be either of them.

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Tag-Team Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

Finally! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this match for years! The Usos got involved in Daniel Bryan’s feud with The Wyatts. Then they got involved in John Cena’s feud with The Wyatts, and all the while, those Tag Belts have been there, tantalisingly close, yet we haven’t had a proper title match between The Usos and Rowan & Harper. All of the brief glimpses and non-title Matches we’ve seen between these 2 teams have been great, and, if this match is given enough time, I think it could be really, really great. I think The Wyatts will win, but I could see it going the other way, too, as  the Wyatts don’t really need titles that much.

Alberto Del Rio Vs Bray Wyatt Vs Cesaro Vs John Cena Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns Vs Sheamus

Ladder Match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Here’s the big one. Daniel Bryan was stripped of the WWE WHC, so now we have a big Ladder Match with 8 of the biggest names in WWE right now, and man, I am excited. I don’t even really care who wins. I would much prefer it to be one of the 3 competitors who have not been a World Champion before in Cesaro, Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns, but I wouldn’t be too fussed if someone else won after hard-fought match. I think a lot of this comes down to the fitness levels of Daniel Bryan. If it is dead-set that Brock Lesnar is challenging the Champion at Summerslam, then it basically all comes down to whether or not Bryan is fit enough to face him. If he is then, I think a heel will win, then lose it to Bryan at Battleground, before the Lesnar match. If Bryan can’t make Summerslam, then I think they will have John Cena win, and then we can have Cena/Lesnar II, which would be, to my mind, just as good as Bryan/Lesnar. I’m an eternal optimist, so I think Bryan will be back soon, so I’m going to go for a Bray Wyatt win. But as I said, it could be anyone, well, except Del Rio, he has no chance.

So there you have it, my predictions. I’ll be back sometime next week to revisit these, to see just how wrong I was as we enter the new Del Rio era.

See you then!

My TNA Slammiversary XII Predictions – The Results

image

So yeah, TNA’s 12th Anniversary show was last Sunday, I made some predictions for it, and now it’s time to see how accurate they were.

Apologies for this being rather late, but I wanted to watch this week’s episode of Impact to see what direction the various storylines would go, and wow, big stuff happened.

Overall, I thought Slammiversary was a great show, TNA always ups their game for PPV, and the storyline bull-shit goes to the way-side, and we just get good wrestlers doing good wrestling.

And then we’re back down to Earth with Impact…

But anyway! It was a good show, so let’s get on with it.

Sanada (C) Vs Manik Vs Tigre Uno Vs Crazzy Steve Vs Eddie Edwards Vs Davey Richards

Six-Man Ladder Match for the TNA X Division Championship

This match was a great way to kick off the evening’s proceedings, because it was a balls-to-the-wall spot-fest full of amazing moments and crazy feats. It truly deserved it’s ‘This Is Awesome’ chants, and it had me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. Every single guy in there looked great, even Crazzy Steve. I’m a bit ‘meh’ on The Menagerie, but he was great here, and the crowd really got behind him in a great way. I also liked the moments when The Wolves had to fight each other, and both Luchadors flipped around enjoyably. I think the best moment was when Sanada flipped Davey Richards off one Ladder and onto the other, with Richards’ head in-between 2 rungs, that was brutal. I had thought that this match was going to lead to a feud between the 2 Wolves, but instead, Sanada retained his title, which is cool with me, he’s great. I would like there to be more of a story behind his matches, but him coming up trumps here is a cool move. With Destination X coming up, being X Division Champ is even more important than usual, but are they really going to have Sanada challenge for the World Title? Hmm. Anyways, this was a brilliant match, and you should all watch it to get yourself pumped for Money In The Bank. The 2 Ladder Matches there have a lot to live up to.

0/9

Samoa Joe Vs Bobby Lashley

Winner Advances to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

I said Lashley would win to get to the Main Event, and he did. This was a pretty fun match, definitely the best I’ve seen from Bobby Lashley since he came back to TNA, and Joe did seem fired up for once. It wasn’t anything amazing, but it was fun. I particularly liked the ending, which saw Lashley win after Joe checked his momentum to avoid smashing into the referee. It wasn’t outright cheating from Lashley, but it wasn’t a clean victory, and it did show that Samoa Joe is actually a good guy. In TNA, all the heels and faces often seem to be the exact shade of grey, but in this match, heroism prevailed. Or rather, it lost.

1/9

Willow Vs Magnus

This was an OK match, but I can’t remember much about it a week later. I said Magnus would win, and he did, and it was surprising how clean it was. Yes, Bram and Abyss did get involved, but that involvement was away from the ring, with Bram basically drawing Abyss away so that Magnus could beat Willow 1, 2, 3. The future for these characters is interesting to me. Magnus and Bram challenged for the Tag Belts on Impact, but they lost deliberately via DQ. It also looks like Willow is going back to being Jeff Hardy and re-teaming with his Iconic brother, which kind of makes no sense.

2/9

Austin Aries Vs Kenny King

Winner Advances to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

I predicted the other qualifying match correctly as well, with Austin Aries advancing to the Cage Match. I really liked this, Aries is obviously great, but I’ve really become a fan of Kenny King lately. I enjoyed his cocky heel schtick in the X Division in early 2013, and he’s really taken that up a notch as a member of MVP’s still-unnamed stable. I think the next step should be a Triple-Threat between these 2 and Sanada for the X Division Title so that one of King and Aries can be the Champ at Destination X. I don’t really know why I’m bothering to fantasy-book when TNA have already filmed a load of stuff and I can easily read spoilers. But hey.

3/9

Von Erich 3G (Marshall Von Erich and Ross Von Erich) Vs The Bro-Mans (Jessie Godderz and DJ Z)

For some reason Robbie E wasn’t at this show (probably recovering from his coulrophobia attack), so The Bro-Mans were represented by Jessie and DJ Z, but it didn’t make much difference. The Von Erichs won as predicted, and it was a lot of fun. As I said, I’ve never really seen any of the original Von Erichs, but I still got into this match, mainly because of the Texas crowd, who presumably have seen the Von Erichs, going absolutely crazy for them, and in particular when Kevin applied the famous Claw. I thought the two young guys were OK, a little raw, but they certainly have potential (although wrestling barefoot looks weird) and I’d like to see them again in TNA. I was hoping they’d be full-time, but it looks like they aren’t, it’s a shame, especially as it did kind of rob The Bro-Mans of that last shred of credibility they have.

4/9

Angelina Love (C) Vs Gail Kim

Singles Match for the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship

I was a bit disappointed by this match, as normally TNA PPV bouts avoid the kind of bull-shit shenanigans you get on TV, but this actually had more than usual, as they went full-bore with the ‘Brian Stifler is a corrupt referee’ storyline, and had him basically screw Gail Kim out of the victory because he’s attracted to the Beautiful People (and his chief crush isn’t even on the Champion!). It was dumb, but at least it meant my prediction was right. The Knockouts division did get a fillip on Impact, as Taryn Terrell returned after giving birth. I was really impressed with Terrell’s feud with Kim from last year, and thought she was getting to be very good, so let’s hope she hasn’t lost anything after being out for so long. It certainly adds something new, because lately, the women’s matches have just been 5 people rotating in and out.

5/9

Bully Ray Vs Ethan Carter III

Texas Death Match

I was disappointed to discover that a ‘Texas Death Match’ is just a Last Man Standing Match, but other than that, I enjoyed it, especially because EC3 won, I normally try and resist the online impulse to root for the heels, but he’s just so great. I thought this match made sense, with Bully obviously being more at home in a hardcore match, but with EC3 managing to win thanks to some help from Dixie and the glorious Rockstar Spud. To be honest though, I spent most of this match waiting for Devon to interfere somehow. Earlier in the night, Team 3D were (deservedly) inducted into the Hall Of Fame, and whilst they did say that Devon had gone back to his hotel, I was sure he was going to get involved, either to help Bully or… turn on him. This week’s Impact saw the return of another ECW alumni, as Tommy Dreamer showed up doing some wonky worked-shoot stuff with Dixie. I thought his promo was OK, but the best bit by far was when Team Dixie beat him up. I have no idea if Dreamer can still wrestle these days, but I would like to see him go up against EC3, who is of course the Hardcore American Icon.

6/9

Mr Anderson Vs James Storm

Ugh, this match. The build-up was nonsense, and the actual fight was even worse, and basically focused, not on the Wrestlers, but on the random Dallas Cowboys NFL players in the crowd, who were taunted by Storm and then got involved to help Anderson win. It was terrible, it was TNA at it’s worst for me, and both guys (well, more Storm than Anderson, but he’s OK) deserve better. And to top it off, my prediction was wrong!

6/9

Eric Young (C) Vs Bobby Lashley Vs Austin Aries

Three-Way Steel Cage Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship

Despite being rather tired after 3 hours of watching Wrestling (and 3 hours of watching the World Cup), I still very much enjoyed the main event. I said earlier that the Samoa Joe match was the best I’ve seen from Lashley, but he may have been better here, and both EY and Aries were good too. I just mostly appreciated how clean this match was, there was no interference, just 3 guys going for it whole-heartedly in the Cage, and with Eric coming out the victor. Which is why it’s such a shame they went right back to bull-shit on Impact, with MVP really going all-out with his abuse of power and leading to Lashley beating Young to become the new Champion. You’ve already established that the nebulous ‘Board Of Directors’ have the ability to keep MVP in check, so why stop there? Especially when clean finishes with little to no nonsense led to a PPV that was much better-received than any recent Impacts? I suppose it was novel to see a Heel Authority figure not pussy-foot around, but still. The reason people hate on TNA is because there’s so much nonsense on the TV show that gives them no reason to pay for the PPVs. On Sunday, I had my optimism back for TNA, and then by Thursday it was almost gone. Although… Bobby Roode is back! Sometimes, you take what you can get.

7/9

Hey, 7 out of 9, that’s not too bad.

Thankfully, this show was mostly devoid of non-wrestling segments, there was a solid MVP & Co promo, and then the announcement that Team 3D were in the Hall Of Fame.

Whilst it is a bit strange that a man currently feuding with the Company’s owner is being honoured like this, it was still a great moment, and richly deserved I think. I never saw Team 3D in TNA, but I loved The Dudley Boyz when I was a kid, and they probably are the best Tag-Team of all time. Say what you want about TNA, but at least everybody in their Hall Of Fame deserves it!

So yeah, this was a good show, I recommend watching it, especially the Main Event and the X Division Ladder Match. It’s just a shame that the stuff that’s good on here doesn’t translate to the weekly TV shows.

I’ll be back to talk about TNA in October or so with Bound For Glory I suppose, but before then, there will be a Money In The Bank predictions article sometime next week.

My TNA Slammiversary XII Predictions

image

 

TNA’s big Summer PPV is this Sunday in Dallas and… eesh, it’s kind of a mess. A lot of these matches have barely been built up at all, and due to injury to MVP, the one match that really had been set up well has been changed. It’s a shame, but looking at what has changed, I do think it could kind of improve the show.

Impact has been all kinds of bad lately, but as I’ve said before, TNA’s pay-per-views are normally much better than the TV show, and I do have hopes that this will be a solid show, and that things will improve. That’s as long as it doesn’t end with an Invading Stable made up of all of the WWE releases from this week.

Angelina Love (C) Vs Gail Kim

Singles Match for the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship

This match hasn’t really had much story behind it. Yes, Gail Kim has issues with Angelina and The Beautiful People, but so do all of the other Knockouts (all 2 of ‘em), and in fact, both Madison Rayne and Brittany both have much more pressing issues with the heel team. It seems like they just had Gail become No.1 Contender because she’s the best female wrestler TNA have, and that she and Angelina would make a better match than anything else. Which is fine, I’m sure this will be a strong match, but I need a little more fuel to my fire. I think Angelina will win, but there will probably be some kind of shenanigans, probably involving either Brittany or Madison turning heel and becoming a new member of the BPs. Let’s just hope they get away from the dumb lesbian angle as soon as possible.

Sanada (C) Vs Manik Vs Tigre Uno Vs Crazzy Steve Vs Eddie Edwards Vs Davey Richards

Six-Man Ladder Match for the TNA X Division Championship

This match has had no build, in fact I don’t think it’s even been mentioned on Impact at all, hell, Sanada hasn’t been on TV for like a month now. Much like the Knockouts Match, I’m sure this will be fun though, it’s basically a Money In The Bank Match, and those are always awesome, and most of the wrestlers in here are capable of doing some crazy (or, ahem, crazy) shit. I think the most intriguing here is that the current Tag-Team Champs, The Wolves, are in this match against each other rather than defending their titles. They have already done a story on Impact where MVP tried to turn The Wolves against each other by making them fight, so I’d like to see that continue, perhaps even with Eddie or Davey betraying the other to become Champion. I have no idea who’s going to win, but I’ll plump for… Eddie Edwards, fuck it.

Austin Aries Vs Kenny King

Winner advances to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

This is the first of a few matches that are all about the current MVP Vs Eric Young storyline. Kenny King is a part of MVP’s as yet unnamed stable, and he’s been very entertaining as a part of it. I’ve always liked him, and he’s been shining in a more central role, he’s just so good at being a cocky heel. He’s basically what Austin Aries used to be. Aries hates MVP for some vaguely defined reason, it started when Aries was still a heel and sided with Dixie, but now he seems to have become a good guy by default, just because he never liked MVP and nobody believed him. It’s kind of dumb. But what makes this match interesting is that, due to MVP’s injury the winner will go into the main event for the title. I think that’s a very cool move, and makes this match a lot more important than just ‘heel team Vs all the popular good guys’. I think Aries will win here, and that Lashley will win the other match, so we have 1 good guy and 1 heel going up against EY later on.

Mr Anderson Vs James Storm

This match really pisses me off, it just makes no sense. Mr Anderson had a match with Gunner where the winner would get a shot at the Title, Storm, who as we know hates Gunner, interfered to try and cost Gunner the win, but ended up accidentally hitting Anderson instead and giving Gunner the win. Anderson, rather than focus on getting another shot, then tried to get revenge on Storm, including faking a drinking contest where he drank non-alcoholic beer to get Storm shit-faced and beat him up. He more or less date-raped him. And he’s the good guy! It’s just so bad, and it just smacks of TNA having no real idea of what to do with either character after their long feuds with Gunner and Sam Shaw respectively, and just throwing them together. I honestly don’t give a shit here, I suppose I want Storm to win, but really, this doesn’t deserve to be on a Pay-Per-View.

Willow Vs Magnus

This Match actually has a fairly decent story behind it. After failing to win back his Title at Sacrifice, Magnus bumped into an old friend back-stage in the shape of Bram. Bram is a British Wrestler who you might have seen on NXT (or maybe it was just when it was still FCW) as ‘Kenneth Cameron’, one of the original members of The Ascension. The story here is that Magnus and Bram used to be friends back in the UK and they were known for being a brutal, violent team. Bram didn’t like what he saw of the old-school, cowardly heel that Magnus was as World Champion, wanted Magnus to go back to his old ways. He did this mainly by shouting and hitting poor old Tigre Uno in the head with a wrench. He then moved on to doing this to Willow, which explains why he’s in this match. Initially I thought this was leading to a Magnus face-turn and a match against Bram, but instead, Bram’s methods worked, and Magnus has now embraced the hate. I’ve found this to be an odd story, but I mostly like it, and I’ve enjoyed Bram whenever he’s on screen, he has a good look, and he’s doing a great job at appearing unstable, although considering how he left WWE (punching a Cop), it might not be acting. To counteract the probably interference from Bram, Willow has got someone in his corner too, and it’s none other than Abyss, Magnus’ most recent ally, who he tossed aside for not helping him keep a hold of the WHC. I’m excited to have Abyss back, and for that continuity to be remembered, but mostly I’m just wishing for him and Willow to have some kind of mental health break-through together and revert to being Jeff Hardy and Joseph Park. I think Magnus will probably win, but I’m not too fussed.

Samoa Joe Vs Bobby Lashley

Winner advances to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

I already said what my prediction was for this, Lashley will win. I do expect this to be a good match, a big ol’ Hoss Fight, but, much like with King/Aries, I’ll be watching it with one eye on the Main Event. At least Samoa Joe actually has good reason to have MVP and Co, he trusted MVP, and was probably going to be MVP’s original ‘patsy’. I’m just glad that Joe is back on the show, I was starting to think he’d done a CM Punk and nobody had noticed.

Von Erich 3G (Marshall Von Erich and Ross Von Erich) Vs The Bro-Mans (Robbie E and Jessie Godderz)

This match has had no build, and seems to be just the Slammiversary equivalent of the Japanese guest-stars at Lockdown. Slammiversary is in Dallas, and who are the most famous wrestlers from Dallas? The Von Erichs of course! I’m interested in seeing what this match will be like, I’ve read a lot about the Von Erichs and their tragic history (their chapter of David Shoemaker’s book is the best one) but I’ve never seen one of their matches, so this new generation has a lot to live up to. I do wonder if this is just a one-shot deal, or if the Von Erichs are going to be sticking around TNA permanently. The Tag-Team division could certainly use more teams, it’s basically just The Bro-Mans and The Wolves. The Bro-Mans are always entertaining, but they are obviously going to lose. Basically, as long as none of the Von Erichs end up dying in horrific circumstances, even if it’s 20 years from now, this should be cool.

Bully Ray Vs Ethan Carter III

Texas Death Match

This match is a continuation of Bully Ray’s ongoing beef with Dixie Carter. Since he can’t actually fight Dixie, he first went up against Bobby Roode, and now he’s moved on to Dixie’s nephew, the best thing on Impact, the New American Icon, EC3. There’s nothing too specific about this feud, and it’s kind of been swallowed up into the MVP/EY stuff too, but EC3 and Spud have been excellent in every segment they’ve had, and whilst it’s annoying how much TNA are retconning Bully’s past actions whilst a heel, he is doing fine as a good guy. I’m excited to see what a Texas Death Match will be like in 2014, and just how violent TNA are willing to go. They are already more violent than WWE, but with a stipulation like this, I expect, nay, demand, blood. I don’t know who I want to win, I’d like EC3 to maintain his undefeated streak, and I think that might happen. Bully is obsessed with putting his Arya Stark list of people through Tables, and EC3 is on there. I can see Carter winning, but being put through a table either before or after the pinfall, giving Bully a ‘moral’ victory.

Eric Young Vs The winners of the Kenny King/Austin Aries and Bobby Lashley/Samoa Joe matches

Triple-Threat Steel Cage Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship

The Main Event is kind of up in the air, it was supposed to be Eric Young Vs MVP, who turned heel, revealing that his ‘Good Guy Authority Figure’ thing had all been a ruse. It was probably too soon to do this story, but it’s mostly worked, and MVP has been very good in his promos. But the best laid plans etc, and MVP got injured at a UK indie show, and so they had to come up with a new Main Event. I think the solution they’ve come up with is pretty cool, and has brought a few of the subsidiary characters in this storyline into sharper focus, and also made the result more uncertain. Before, it was pretty much 100% likely that MVP would win, but now? I think Eric Young will probably win, but I could also see any of the other 4 possible men winning as well. It could be very interesting to have one of MVP’s lackeys have the power that he wants, and I certainly think Samoa Joe or Austin Aries Vs MVP would be a better feud than Eric Young, or at least a different kind of story. I always want to go into a wrestling show uncertain of the outcome, and now Slammiversary is full of it, so hey, they might just have made Lemonade.

So there are my predictions, let’s hope (I mean really hope) that it turns out to be a good show, and I’ll be back next week (probably after Thursday’s Impact) to have a look back and see how everything turned out.

The Ides Of… June

 

It’s the 15th of June, and by now you should know what that means! Yes, I’m going to write a little paragraph or so on all of the various movies, music, TV, games and books I absorbed into my brain in the last 30 days.

I think this month saw me sort of get the balance between work and leisure right, as I was able to watch some more movies, and even actually got to play some video games! What a monumental achievement.

So let’s get on with it!

Movies

image

The first film I watched this month was 42 (Brian Helgeland 2013), which is a Biopic about Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in Major League Baseball and one of the best players in the sport’s history. Being British, I’m not a huge fan or hugely knowledgeable about Baseball, but I do like the vast history of it, and Ken Burns’ documentary about the sport is one of the best things I have ever seen. This movie covers a lot of stuff I already knew about Robinson from that documentary, but it was still an enjoyable watch, because it’s such a great, inspiring story. I do feel that the movie sanded down Jackie Robinson’s edges a bit too much to make him some kind of superheroic saint, but I suppose that’s to be expected, and Chadwick Boseman was very good in the part. I was also pretty impressed by Harrison Ford in this film, as he seemed to be actually trying to act, which is rare for him these days. Another thing of note was that I was watching this film at around the same time that Michael Sam was drafted in the NFL, who is the first openly gay player in that sport, and the 2nd in major American sports, so the message of tolerance resonated extra-hard. I do wonder if the way that Robinson tackled hatred and bigotry back then would fly now though. Telling a minority to turn the other cheek and rise above it is, these days, considered almost as bad as outright hate, and the prescribed response has become anger and outrage. If someone verbally abuses Michael Sam on the field, how do people expect him to react? It’s going to be interesting, and it might make an interesting sports movie in 60 years!

After this I finally got around to Kick-Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow 2013), a film I had been putting off watching out of fear it would be as bad as I’d heard. I really love the first Kick-Ass movie, but all of the buzz about the sequel was negative, so I skipped it at the Cinemas and waited for it to be £7 on DVD. In the end, I actually quite enjoyed it. It’s not as good as the first film for sure, but it’s a lot of fun, and there are some great performances in there from Jim Carrey and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in particular. Much like with the first movie, I also feel that it improved in several areas from the comics, just by being much less cynical and violent, and more comedic. In the comics, Red Mist/Mother-Fucker outright rapes Kick-Ass’ girlfriend, and whilst I’m not one of those ‘no rape scenes in fiction ever no matter the circumstances’ people, it was a bit too much, especially when you read the Kick-Ass 3 comic and Millar tries to redeem the character a bit. In the movie, Mother-Fucker tries to commit rape, but can’t get it up, which is much more appropriate. And then he gets eaten by a shark. I think the biggest problems with this movie are firstly that Jeff Wadlow isn’t as good at directing action scenes as Matthew Vaughn was, and also that Chloe Moretz is now a bit too old for Hit-Girl to be as incongruous and hilarious at what she does. At 17, she’s now basically an adult by Hollywood standards, and it’s not new or different to see her, well, kick ass. She’s still good in the role, but it does mean that the sequel feels lacking, just like it does in most other aspects, but hey, it wasn’t as bad as I’d heard, which is a win.

Up next was Room 237 (Rodney Ascher 2012) a documentary about the various conspiracy theories and subliminal messages people have found in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. I don’t want to say too much about it, because it is absolutely brilliant and absolutely mental. The people finding these theories are surely mad, but somehow they suck you in, and you sort of start to believe it. It’s a bit like The Shining itself, turning Jack Torrance insane. It certainly makes me want re-watch that film again, because I haven’t seen it in ages. I also have to say that this film is, for a documentary, very visually interesting. It’s not just a bunch of talking heads, in fact, you never see any of the people talking. It’s just all made up of footage from The Shining and other Kubrick movies, which is a great technique, and does add to the creepy feeling.

I then re-watched The Wolf Of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese 2013) on DVD, and yep, it’s still amazing, one of the most entertaining films of all time. It’s 3+ hours, but it feels like half that.

And finally, in preparation for the new X-Men movie (which I probably won’t see until DVD either), I finally saw The Wolverine (James Mangold 2013), which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was just a solid, superhero action movie, with some fantastic set-pieces, such as an awesome fight on top of a bullet-train. All in all, it was good to just have a superhero movie that wasn’t overly concerned with continuity and the ongoing arc (although there is a post-credits sequence here that ties in with DoFP) and just tell it’s own story. Wolverine in Japan is one of the best elements of the comics’ version of the character, so it was awesome to see that in the films, and also to have a superhero movie move outside America. We had that in Thor 2, as well, and it’s cool to see a global scale. Hugh Jackman was as good as ever in the title role of Wolverine (though my favourite performance from him is still the cameo in First Class), and the various Japanese supporting cast was good too. I always thought Mariko was a dull-as-shit character in the comics, but here she’s pretty cool. I think this film might be an indicator of where superheroes might go, less epic mytharcs, and more good standalone stories. The comics switch from these two story-types fairly regularly, and the movies can do the same.

Television

image

In terms of TV, things have started to die down a bit because it’s the summer, but there’s still lots to talk about. With new stuff, I’ve enjoyed the first two episodes of Halt And Catch Fire (AMC), although it probably helps that I know nothing about computers in the 80s, or even in the present-day. I think Lee Pace is delivering a brilliant, off-putting yet engaging performance as the mysterious Joe MacMillan, and Scoot McNairy has kind of crept up on me to become a really great actor, although it is a bit distracting that his wife in this show is the same actress who played his wife in Argo. I’m guessing that after the Hostage Crisis they moved to Texas and started working in computers. It’s not perfect, and I think it could easily go off the rails, but after 2 eps, I like it, the music choices are great and the subject matter is unique (although it was interesting to see it follow Mad Men, which saw SCDP also competing with IBM.

As for Mad Men (AMC), the last 2 episodes of Season 7 Part 1 were absolutely fantastic, with the penultimate instalment ‘The Strategy’ really hitting me emotionally. That final scene with Don, Peggy and Pete in Burger Chef got me, it proved Peggy’s campaign idea was spot on, and showed just how great all the characters are. And the finale itself was amazing, they reached the Moon Landing, which is something we’ve all been waiting for, but I don’t think anyone was expecting Bert to die just right then, but wow, it was great. And the way he went out? With that song and dance routine? I didn’t really know what I was seeing and if it was real or not, it was brilliant. I’m still annoyed that AMC have split the season in half, because it feels like this story has only just got going. But I suspect Part 2 will be worth the wait.

The Americans (FX) also wrapped up it’s season brilliantly. The twist behind the murder of Emmett and Lianne was brilliant, and I love how it makes all of the subplots with Paige and Henry that much more important. With the Soviets perhaps looking to recruit the kids, these aren’t just filler subplots like most kids in US dramas have, they are going to go somewhere. I was also very surprised by what happened with Stan and Nina, I was expecting Stan to betray America to help her, but it was good to see him hold to some principles, even if it did doom poor Nina. Although apparently she will still be in S3. I’m certainly excited to see what she’s like then, and also how her other lover, Oleg will react. It really is one of the best shows on TV, I can’t wait for next year, which should hopefully have plenty more of Margo Martindale.

Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) has continued to be hilarious, I particularly liked the Fred Armisen episode, which parodied the ‘Late Night Wars’, but every ep has been good. It’s something different every week, and a real pleasure.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the last 2 episodes of Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz), which, as I thought, really kicked up another gear when all the characters got back to the same continent. One thing I really like about this series is that both seasons have ended on pretty hellacious cliff-hangers. Most shows these days seem to culminate in the second to last episode and have the finale wrap things up and set things up, but Da Vinci’s Demons doesn’t culminate until Episode 2 of the following season! I had twigged that the mysterious woman with the Sultan was Da Vinci’s mother about half an hour before it was revealed, but it was still exciting to see. And I’m also very excited for the Enemies Of Man to really become the main villain, and to see what happens with Riario, who has become probably the show’s best character, it’s a great performance from Blake Ritson, and considering he has the awesome Tom Riley to contend with, he’s doing a great job.

The 4th season of Game Of Thrones (HBO) has continued to be awesome, especially because it’s covering the best scenes from the books. We’ve had Littlefinger pushing Lysa out the Moon-Door, we’ve had the Red Viper/Mountain fight, and most recently the Battle For The Wall. It’s incredibly exciting stuff, and I’ve been very satisfied with how the show has adapted, and man, the finale should deliver some even more amazing scenes. I hope they don’t soften Tyrion’s actions too much.

Silicon Valley (HBO) ended it’s debut season wonderfully, with perhaps the best dick-joke in history in the finale. Just watch it, it’s a thing of beauty. I think this is one of the best new comedies of recent years, up there with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and the last few eps did show that the series still works without the late Christopher Evan Welch. I can’t wait for S2.

I loved the way Veep (HBO) changed almost completely towards the end of Season 3. It became a sort of evil version of the West Wing, and in the absolutely brilliant 2-part finale, the unthinkable happened, as Selina Meyer actually became the President. It was an insane hour, and it kept the same level of hilarity throughout. It’s going to be interesting to see what Season 4 will be like, will Selina still be President? Or will she have found some other way to fuck it up? Whatever happens, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the rest of the cast will still knock it out of the park I’m sure.

In terms of DVD box-set watching, I watched Season 3 of Cheers (NBC), which was, as you’d expect, brilliant. It was awesome to see a pre-Frasier Frasier, as the spin-off is really where I’ve seen that character the most, and it was really emotional to see the last few episodes starring Nick Colosanto as Coach, he’s such a loveable, great character, and as much as I like Woody Harrelson, I think Season 4 is going to be a weird experience for me.

I also finally got around to watching the DVD of Utopia (Channel 4) which I bought all the way back in September and has just been sitting on my shelf. I’m regretting not watching it sooner now, as it was excellent. The direction and visual look of the show is far better than most UK drams I feel, and the mystery and acting (particularly from the kids and Adeel Akhtar) was brilliant. It was the kind of contemporary sci-fi I like, in that it really asked questions about the world, and hell, it probably wasn’t even sci-fi. I initially only bought it because it involved a Graphic Novel, but it’s way more than that, and I’m very excited by what the upcoming second series will be like. I had thought I was pretty clever in figuring out who ‘Mr Rabbit’ was, but it turned out to be wrong, and I’m sure there’s many more layers to it.

Music

image

I bought 2 records this month! The music industry has been saved! First up was the new one from The Black Keys, Turn Blue (Nonesuch Records 2014), which I’ve really been enjoying. I’m kind of in a weird place when it comes to the Black Keys, I don’t have the right to be all hipstery and snobbish about their new stuff, but since the first album of theirs I bought was 2006’s Magic Potion, I was into them before they really exploded. I think this is a good record, not as great as El Camino, but certainly up there with Brothers and Attack & Release. There are some really good, rocking tracks on here, that really do what they are supposed to and make you forget about your troubles and have fun. I particularly like the final song, ‘Gotta Get Away’, which feels like it stepped right out of the late 70s. Other highlights are ‘Bullet In The Brain’, and the lead single ‘Fever’ has really grown on me. People seem to be trying to have a backlash against The Black Keys, but I’m having none of it, they are still a brilliant band.

One of the people trying to lead that Black Keys backlash is Jack White, who had a go at them in Rolling Stone, and his new album, Lazaretto (Third Man Records 2014) is the other one I’ve been listening to. I’ve only had 2 and a half goes at it, but I’m liking it so far. I was a huge fan of The White Stripes (the first band t-shirt I ever bought was one of theirs), and White is probably a musical genius, but most of what he has done since then has been a bit disappointing to me. The Raconteurs are OK, but I didn’t really like The Dead Weather, and his first solo album, Blunderbuss never really caught on with me. So far, Lazaretto impresses me a lot more, I’ll need a few more weeks with it, but there are some really good songs on this album. Get back to me next month.

Books

image

In terms of Books, I was still deep in my Michael Connelly binge, and I started by finishing off Blood Work (1998), which ended very well indeed. Once again, Connelly got me with a twist ending, and I really liked how what initially seemed like happenstance in McCaleb getting this particular heart transplant, was much more complex than that. I’m certainly interested in checking out the Clint Eastwood movie adaptation.

After this, it was back to our old friend Harry Bosch, with Angels Flight (1999), which was really good as usual, and also continued one of my favourite elements of the last Bosch book, by exploring the internal politics of the LAPD. Here, Bosch is once again right in the mix of Internal Affairs, and even having to work along side them. I also really liked how Connelly looked into racial elements in Los Angeles, and the Police’s history of poor treatment of black people. It really grounded the story, and it made it feel very real to me, even if it was a side-show to the actual crime, which involved some seriously creepy child molestation. I was however a bit surprised and disappointed at how Connelly dealt with Bosch now being married to Eleanor Wish, as he basically skips over the marriage and here we see the end of it. I’m sure she’ll be back though.

Next, Connelly introduced a new protagonist in Void Moon (2000), which is interesting and new in a lot of ways. First of all, Cassie Black is a woman, and secondly, she’s a Criminal. Previously, Connelly had always written men, who although they bent the law a bit, were always on the side of enforcing it (LAPD, FBI), but here, Cassie is a straight-up thief, who makes her living stealing from Las Vegas gangsters. I found this book a bit slow going at the start, but it picked up once Cassie committed her robbery and the true scope of the story opened up, and the villain/secondary protagonist Jack Karch was introduced. Karch is another departure for Connelly, as we see him write scenes from the perspective of a truly bad dude, albeit one with an understandable, tragic back-story. The split perspective here worked really well, and it made for a far more morally complex tale than we normally get from Connelly. Bosch is flawed, yes, but he’s pretty much always in the right. Here, we’re rooting for a thief and against a Private Detective.

After this, I took a break from Connelly, and am now about 50 pages from finishing Prince Of Fools (2014) by Mark Lawrence. This is the 4th novel from Lawrence, and the start of a new trilogy set in the same world as ‘The Broken Empire’. I really like this new technique for fantasy that the likes of Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie are taking, where they don’t have some massive 12-part series, but just different stories set in the same universe. This book follows the adventures of Jalan Kendeth, a cowardly, lazy Prince, as he gets mixed-up in the war against the Dead King that Jorg Ancrath fought in the previous trilogy. It’s set at about the same time as Prince Of Thorns, and we even get to see Jalan cross paths with Jorg and other familiar faces. As ever, Lawrence’s writing is excellent, with a nice sense of humour and poetry, but I have to say that the plot here is a little too simple. It’s basically a straight revenge/quest narrative, with Jalan and his, entertaining if generic Norseman friend Snorri heading north to save Snorri’s family. They are even tied together with magic, it’s like a fantasy Midnight Run or something. I do think there might be a sting in those last 50 pages, and I imagine the next 2 books will complicate things a bit, but after the criss-crossing timelines of the other books, it is a step back. I also feel like it’s harder to care about what happens to these characters, as we’ve already seen Jorg defeat The Dead King in his trilogy. We’ve seen the big picture ending here, so maybe that’s why a smaller scale works.

Games

image

I actually managed to play a bit of Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar Games 2010) and get further into it. It’s a fantastic game, I’m just loving being in the idealised Old West we see in the movies, and getting to ‘live it’, the story is becoming clearer, as John Marston has begun to explain himself, and if nothing else, this game has actually taught me how Poker works and how to play it. Sort of.

So that’s that.

I’ll be back on July 15th for more, but I imagine it might be quite a sparse column, as my life has been taken over by the World Cup. With 3 games on every day, I don’t have time for anything else! I’ll probably just have watched the Game Of Thrones finale and that’s it.

My WWE Payback 2014 Predictions - The Results

image

Payback was this Sunday, I made my predictions on Saturday, and now, on Wednesday, after having enough time absorb what happened both at the Pay-Per-View and on RAW (especially on RAW) it’s time for me to revisit those predictions and see just how well I did.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, there were some great matches, but I think my reaction has been changed by what happened on RAW with The Shield and Seth Rollins’ betrayal. This story has me acting like such a Mark, I am legitimately angry at Rollins and Triple H. In one way, this is great, but on the other hand… a lot of my good feelings about the glorious mauling that The Shield gave Evolution have been tainted.

But let’s leave that to the end!

El Torito Vs Hornswoggle

Mask Vs Hair Match

The Pre-Show match went as expected, it was a lot of goofy fun, with both Torito and Hornswoggle really working their asses off, and 3MB and Los Matadores doing the same on the outside. I will never tire of Drew McIntyre doing crazy flips for no reason. I also thought that the announcing was better this time, with no terrible mini-announcers, and Cole, JBL and Lawler being a teensy-bit more respectful. Of course, El Torito won as I said, and we got the hilarious sight of Hornswoggle being shaved bald. This went on too long, but it was funny.

1/7

Sheamus (C) Vs Cesaro

Singles Match for the WWE United States Championship

I enjoyed this match when it was happening, because I enjoy pretty much everything Cesaro and Sheamus do inside the ring, but only 2 days later, I’m having a hard time remembering much about it, so it can’t have been that good. It definitely didn’t live up to my epic hoss-fight expectations, that’s for sure. I did like Paul Heyman’s promo at the start, which diffused the ‘CM Punk’ chants, and the ending was pretty good, with Sheamus sneaking a win (as I predicted) with a Small Package. Lately, Sheamus has just been annihilating everyone with Brogue Kicks ‘fromouttanowhere’ and it’s become tiresome, here though, Cesaro dodged the kick, and Sheamus only just won. I certainly wouldn’t mind a rematch at Money In The Bank, but according to rumourzzz, Cesaro is in pole position to win the Ladder Match, so who knows.

2/7

Big E Vs Rusev

This match was OK, but it was way too short. This is a Pay-Per-View, I want my matches to be at least 5 minutes! I said Rusev would win, and he did, but other than that, and the increasingly hilariously bad flag-waving, this was a disappointment. And what was with that Medal Ceremony on RAW? How did that happen with no interference? This is wrestling, ceremonies never get to actually happen. What is going on?

3/7

Bad News Barrett (C) Vs Rob Van Dam

Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

At this point, the only thing I can really recall about this match is Bad News Barrett’s awesome England Football Team Trunks, that’s it, and it’s no fault of Barrett’s, who remains awesome, it’s just that RVD totally bores me. I said BNB would win, and he did, but I want more from him really. An RVD feud is what ruined Alberto Del Rio’s momentum as WHC last year, and that can’t happen with Barrett for me, he needs to keep going strong, because I really think he can be the first British World Heavyweight Champion. There was a weird thing on RAW when Cesaro bailed on Barrett whilst tagging with him, does that make Bad News a good guy now? I’d certainly be down for a proper Barrett/Cesaro feud, I think they would have some epic matches. As for RVD? Fart.

4/7

John Cena Vs Bray Wyatt

Last Man Standing Match

I got this wrong, as I thought Bray would win, but in the end, I didn’t really mind, as I thought this was a fantastic match. It’s the best one of this feud (and the previous 2 were pretty damn good) and probably the best Last Man Standing Match I’ve ever seen (although I haven’t seen that many, there were 2 Del Rio Big Show ones, and also Cena/Ryback right? Gunner/Storm in TNA was also strong). This just felt epic and crazy, with so many great moments (I particularly liked Bray using his Spider-Walk to break the count), not just from the 2 main men in the ring, but also The Usos and Harper and Rowan in the margins. I said in my predictions that I was more into their prospective Tag-Team feud at this point, and their involvement really improved this match. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Non-Title bout on RAW and certainly hope we get a Title Match at Money In The Bank. In the end, I’m not even annoyed that Cena won, as it wasn’t through actually beating down Wyatt for a 10-count, but through (legal) trickery, trapping him between 2 giant tech-cases. Even though he lost 2 out of 3 matches, I still think this feud has been good for Bray, he was shown to be pretty much on the same level as Cena, and a true top-level threat. Even though I’m glad that this feud is finally done, I have no idea what I’d rather each men do from here. I don’t want Cena near The Authority or the Title Picture, so his confrontation with Stephanie McMahon was worrying. I think I’d like Bray to be in MITB, but probably not win it just yet, he doesn’t really ‘need’ the title.

4/7

Paige (C) Vs Alicia Fox

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

Much like with Big E/Rusev, I was disappointed with this one. It was a fine match, but it didn’t really bring things to the next level, and was basically the exact same as every other Paige match on TV. She takes a beating for a bit, then gets back into it and wins with the Scorpion Cross-Lock (I do not accept the PTO name, this my own personal Adam Rose theme-song battle). Alicia didn’t even do anything that insane! I did like that her reaction to losing was a bit more subtle, but I don’t want subtle from Foxy, I want balls-to-the-wall nutso.

5/7

Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton & Batista) Vs The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)

No Holds Barred Six-Man Elimination Tag-Team Match

After an iffy start where there were just 3 separate outside brawls happening for 5 minutes, this quickly coalesced into the fantastic fight I expected it to be. It was just as good, if not better than the first match between these 2 teams, and, like Wyatt/Cena had some truly great moments. Rollins’ dive off of the Tron and Roman Reigns’ brutal Kendo-Stick beating in particular. But as I said, I can’t really look back on this match properly right now, because the betrayal of Seth Rollins hurts too much. That was a great moment on RAW because it was so shocking and seemingly out of the blue. They had teased a break-up so much over the winter, but then dropped it so it made everyone stop worrying about it… which makes this the perfect time to do it. It being Rollins also works brilliantly, as he’s probably The Shield member most fans thought least likely to be a big singles name first, and the one who seemed most committed to the group. I’m a massive Shield fan, but I’m actually sort of happy I’m so sad, because it means I’m being made to feel about a WWE story and actually care. I haven’t had that since the very start of the Daniel Bryan Vs The Authority storyline after SummerSlam 2014 and a brief glimmer at Wrestlemania XXX. I can’t wait to see where things go now with Seth Rollins and his former friends. So yeah, a great, but bitter-sweet match. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it lots in 10 years when I buy the epic 3-disc Shield box-set (or when I stream it into my Google eyeballs).

6/7

Hmm, Six out of 7, that’s not half bad really.

There was actually quite a lot of impromptu stuff for this show, most important was of course the question of whether or not Daniel Bryan would vacate the WWE WHC. He didn’t, as Brie Bella jumped rather than be pushed, and overall I enjoyed that segment a lot. Stephanie McMahon is at the top of her game as a performer right now, and the fact that so many fans seem to be on her side shows that. I personally want Bryan to remain Champ, and basically agree with what John Cena said on RAW, that he can’t give it up because The Authority will never let him get another fair shot again.

Elsewhere, there was a solid tag-team match between The Rhodes Brothers and Rybaxel, which was very much something we’d see on RAW and Smackdown, entertaining but nothing special. At least the ending, with Cody saying that Goldust deserves a better Tag-Partner finally got an actual story with Cody’s frustrations underway. I can see this situation bubbling under nicely until we get an awesome match between the brothers at SummerSlam.

And there was an aborted match between Kofi Kingston and Bo Dallas, that was stopped when Kofi got beat to shit by Kane. I enjoyed it mainly for Bo, who is continuing to almost as good on the main shows as he was on NXT. I’m definitely a Bo-Liever.

I’ll be back towards the end of the month with my Money In The Bank Predictions, and there’s also TNA Slammiversary XII coming up, so I’ll do something for that. Hell, I might even make some predictions for the Ring Of Honor PPV, those 2 New Japan crossover shows blew me away, and I’m ready for more ROH.

My WWE Payback 2014 Predictions

image

 

The second ever Payback Pay-Per-View (and that term is most definitely back, so long ‘Special Event’, now we get ‘The Payback Pay-Per-View’ rammed down our throats every 10 minutes of RAW) is live this Sunday from Chicago, and, well, there’s not that much to talk about really. All of the big matches are rematches, Daniel Bryan is injured, and the rest of the show is pretty uninspiring. I’ll hold out hope though, an uninspiring line-up could lead to some inspired improvisation from the WWE creative team. And of course, it’s in Chicago, which means either that CM Punk will actually return, or that he won’t, but WWE will try and pull out all the stops to halt the fan’s incessant chanting, like they did at the most recent Chicago RAW, which was an excellent show.

So, let’s get on with it!

El Torito Vs Hornswoggle

Hair Vs Mask Match

The first of many continuing feuds tonight, and whilst this story hasn’t really progressed much at all, I’m still really enjoying it. I love how much Hornswoggle just fucking loathes and despises El Torito, screaming about ripping his face off and all that stuff. It’s a righteous blood-feud, and that’s what I want in my wrestling, not half-baked stories about legacy. I want 2 men or women who hate each other going to war. We’ve also had the fun experience of seeing El Torito in matches against the various full-size 3MB members… and beating them clean, which was great, El Torito is probably one of the best technical wrestlers WWE has, and he’s certainly better than their 2 other Luchadors. Heath Slater ripping off Torito’s tail was also a great moment. So yeah, this is all dumb fun, but I like it, and having a ‘Lucha De Apuestas’ for it is a cool move, that doesn’t feel like a step back from ‘WeeLC’. El Torito will obviously win, because the visual of a bald Hornswoggle is the kind of thing WWE thinks is hilarious, and hey, it probably will be quite amusing. Let’s just hope they don’t bring out the terrible mini announcers again.

Big E Vs Rusev

Rusev’s racist reign of terror continues, as he fights yet another black wrestler. What is with this guy? Anyways, this match came about after Big E stopped Rusev from destroying both Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Zack Ryder, and waved a Flag around for a bit. I guess Big E is now a huge patriot? I dunno. I actually think this could be a solid match, both of these men are good in the ring, and they have similar styles as massive blokes who are surprisingly fast. It certainly fits my request for Rusev to have start having some non-Squash Matches, as this will probably go a bit longer than 3 minutes. I say Rusev wins, but it won’t be easy. I just realised I haven’t mentioned Lana in this paragraph yet, so, um… Lana will be there, she will be attractive and say something awesome about Putin.

Paige (C) Vs Alicia Fox

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

This is actually one of the most exciting matches on the show for me, and it’s mainly due to the crazy-awesome shift in Alicia Fox’s character over the last month. Don’t get me wrong, Paige is still great, but this is all about Alicia. After 2 solid years of just being ‘Diva No. 7 in Battle Royale’, Alicia finally got a character after losing a Non-Title Match to Paige, and just started freaking out afterwards. She banged on the announce table, stole JBL’s hat, stole drinks from fans and poured them on herself, and shouted mad shit. It was brilliant to watch, and since then, she’s done the same after all of her matches, whether she won them (like over Paige, which got her this shot), or lost them, like against Emma. It’s no lie to say that Alicia Fox’s segments on RAW and Smackdown have been probably the best parts of the show. I’m excited for this match, because along with Fox’s new personality, she’s always been better in the ring than she’s been allowed to show. Whenever she would drop down to NXT she would really shock me, and I’m excited to see her showcase that against one of the few ladies who is about as good on WWE as they are on NXT. I think Paige will win, because I don’t see her title run being in any jeopardy until AJ comes back, but this will be a good match.

Sheamus (C) Vs Cesaro

Singles Match for the WWE United States Championship

There’s not much of a feud behind this Match. Sheamus won a Battle Royale to become the new US Champion, and since then, he’s been on a winning streak… Apart from against Cesaro, who got a non-title victory thanks to Paul Heyman’s interference. Sheamus went to shake Cesaro’s hand after that match, but Cesaro refused. Since then, all we’ve really had is matches between the two of them where one of them is knocked out and the other shakes their hand facetiously. It’s not particularly compelling, but hey, this should still be a strong match, Cesaro and Sheamus are both certified ‘hosses’ and hit hard. I also really like that 2 big names like this are now contesting for WWE’s 3rd tier single’s championship. Earlier this year both guys were in the WWE WHC Elimination Chamber, and now they are here. I said that after the Unification at TLC I wanted to see the US and IC belts elevated, and whilst it took a while, it’s finally happened. I have a hard time picking a winner here, Cesaro needs to keep winning to keep his momentum as ‘the next big thing’, but I don’t think Sheamus should lose the belt yet either… I have no idea. I’ll go for Sheamus, but perhaps only by DQ.

Bad News Barrett (C) Vs Rob Van Dam

Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

RVD won a ‘Beat The Clock Challenge’ to become No.1 Contender, but really, this feud has been building since the Intercontinental Tournament, as these 2 men fought in the finals before Barrett advanced to defeat Big E. That tournament really was awesome wasn’t it? They should do one every 2 months when there’s nothing else happening. There’s no real story to this match really, Barrett just kind of thinks that RVD is a past-it has-been, and well, he’s right. There was a great moment during the Londonw RAW when Barrett hit RVD from behind with the Bull-Hammer, and because it was the UK, received massive cheers. I’m still riding the BNB-wave, so I’ll go for a comfortable Bad News Barrett victory, and for him to continue being awesome, both in-ring and on the microphone, for the foreseeable future.

John Cena Vs Bray Wyatt
Last Man Standing Match

This feud is continuing, and fuck me, it feels like it’s been going on for 3 years rather than 3 months. Hell, it’s been longer than that hasn’t it? The Wyatts first got into it with Cena at the Royal Rumble! Anyway, not much has changed here, Bray Wyatt continues to cut good promos, and John Cena continues to cut some good promos and some terrible ones. In between those, we get John Cena ceaselessly giving AAs to Harper and Rowan. Jerry Lawler got involved somehow, JBL got sparked out and Cena started doing the Wolf Of Wall Street chest-thumps for no reason. It’s kind of a mess. The best thing about this feud lately has been the increased involvement from the Tag-Team Champs (and John Cena’s new best friends), The Usos, who have helped John even up that damn numbers game. At this point, I’m far more excited for a potential Usos Vs Harper & Rowan Tag-Team Title Match than more of Bray and Cena. It’s actually damn good storytelling from WWE, as The Usos have been feuding on and off with The Wyatts since the Daniel Bryan brainwashing storyline. I don’t really care who wins this match, I do think it will be OK, as the 2 actual matches between Cena and Wyatt have been pretty good, but I just want a definitive ending. I’ll say Bray Wyatt wins, just because.

Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton & Batista) Vs The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)

No Holds Barred Six-Man Elimination Tag-Team Match

Even though this story has developed even less than the Wyatt/Cena story, I’m still way more excited for it than the other match. That’s because even though the endless Shield Vs Evolution beat-down segments have been very repetitive, they have also been fucking awesome every time, just thanks to the people involved. The Shield are on the top of their game, Triple H and Orton are still great, and hell, even Batista is good now. He’s in much better shape and his matches against Rollins and also Dolph Ziggler in a random side-feud on Smackdown have been strong. The stipulation here adds some cool extra spice, as whilst the Extreme Rules match was fairly, well, Extreme, this being No Holds Barred guarantees even more crazy shit, and the Elimination part gives some cool new possibilities for how it could end. I can imagine Evolution managing to get Roman Reigns 3-to-1 or something but he just Spears all of them. I dunno. But then again, if it’s No Holds Barred, then what stops the Eliminated people from just sticking around? I expect this to be an awesome match, as every Shield 6-Man is, and I also expect The Shield to win. It’s a shame that Batista taking a break to promote Guardians Of The Galaxy has been so telegraphed, as it removes some unpredictability, but hey, I could see Batista being taken out and Evolution winning by recruiting somebody new.

So there you go, my predictions. Of course, there’s one other big thing on this show that’s not actually a match, and it’s the question of whether or not Daniel Bryan will surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to Stephanie McMahon in order to save Brie Bella’s job. I personally have no real preference for what should happen. I get that we want the Champion on TV, but I also don’t want Bryan to be stripped, and the fact that so many fans have semi-turned on him and want him to lose them annoys me, because it just proves Triple H right. Before Mania, he was saying that the fans are fickle, and that, just like with Fandango, they’ll eventually forget about Bryan and his Yes Movement. At the time, it was top-class heeling that engendered a shit ton of boos, but now… nope, Triple H was right. The way some fans have turned on CM Punk is the same thing really. The fans took a lot of pride in the fact that they ‘forced’ the WWE into finishing Bryan’s story properly and making him the main thing at Wrestlemania, and now they want him stripped of those titles? I dunno, either way, it’s better than another Kane match.

I’ll be back next week with my reactions, hopefully I’ll get 100% like I did at Extreme Rules.