As is my tradition the Friday before a PPV, I’m here this week to offer my thoughts and predictions for the show. Alas, there also quite a bit of other news to cover this week, so let’s get that out of the way first.
Fans were briefly panicked on Thursday when TMZ reported two-time Hall of Famer Ric Flair had been rushed to the hospital for a medical emergency. Thankfully, statements from his family later in the day have mostly put fears at ease. It’s said that he simply needed a routine procedure related to some of his previous medical problems. Flair is expected to recover fully.
When Cesaro was moved over to raw as part of the Supersate Shakeup we were left wondering about the status of his tag partner Sheamus. Well that could be a sign that his WWE career is approaching its end. The 41 year old “Celtic Warrior” was already known to be suffering from spinal stenosis, the same issue which ended the careers of Steve Austin and Edge. This is one of the reasons he has been working as a tag team wrestler the last few years. He could still work without carrying the full load and thus extend his career. On top of that existing issue though was a pretty bad concussion that he suffered recently. With his tag partner moving on and no official word from the company, many are left to wonder if this is the end for the former multi-time champion.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Hall of Famer Beth Pheonix will be taking over Percy Watson’s chair at the NXT announce desk starting with this week’s episode. Although nothing has been announced officially, I assumed Watson would be kept around to call some of the other shows he’s been working recently. At least one source is now reporting that he may have quit WWE to pursue an acting career.
The latest on the Lars Sullivan matter is that WWE has posted a public apology from him and tried to explain that he is a different person than he was when those hateful comments were posted. There are also reports that Sullivan has personally met with Big E and other members of the roster to clear the air. Some fans also reached out to Mars, one of WWE’s big advertising partners who have had influence over such things in the past. The public response from Mars is that they are aware and disgusted by the comments. They say that the two companies have had discussions about how the situation might be handled.
It seems the answer to the situation involves a fine of $100,000 and sensitivity training. Sullivan’s public apology says, “There is no excuse for the inappropriate remarks that I made years ago. They do not reflect my personal beliefs nor who I am today, and I apologize to anyone I offended.” If that is indeed true and those were just the poorly chosen words of an immature young man seeking attention then perhaps some good can ultimately come from the situation. In addition to the fine and the extra training, Lars will also be working with community organizations regarding the power of the social media and the harm your words can have. Under the right circumstances this could fit in nicely with some of WWE’s other anti-bullying efforts in the community.
Wild Card Rule
I’m still no clearer this week regarding the details of the wild card rule. It’s still just random guys showing up with no explanation other than the words wild card. They also don’t seem to be bothering to count the number of wild cards correctly. They keep saying the limit is 4, but I’m regularly counting 5. Are some of them unofficial? Are 4 of them legitimate wild cards and the 5th just a rebellious rule breaker? This type of inconsistency is exactly what is causing WWE’s ratings woes, and it’s a shame that those in power don’t understand.
When the Superstar Shakeup moved Eric young to Raw (where the heck has he been?), we were left wondering about the status of the rest of Sanity. Alexander Wolfe seems to have landed in NXT UK, and Killian Dane is apparently back at NXT. He’s working Florida house shows for the brand this weekend. It’s possible that this is just a matter of bringing some star power to the “B” tour while NXT’s top stars are touring elsewhere in the country. Time will tell.
With the shows taped at Wrestlemania as well as the Worlds Collide specials now out of the way, the UK brand is settling in for an interesting few weeks of action from Scotland. Next week we’ll see a rematch between former UK champion Pete Dunne and the man who took that title from him at TakeOver: New York Walter. The week after that Toni Storm defends the UK Women’s title against Nina Samuels.
Additionally, they’ve also begun searching for a #1 contender who to face whichever man wins Dunne vs Walter 2. Eight men are currently competing to earn their way into a fatal 4-way match. The winner of that match will go on to face either Dunne or Walter for the title. Thus far Joe Coffey has beaten Flash Morgan Webster to earn the 1st spot. Jordan Devlin defeated Ligero for the 2nd spot, and Dave Mastiff beat Wolfgang for the 3rd. The 4th spot in the match will presumably be filled next week, but the potential qualifiers have not yet been revealed on TV.
RIP Ashley Massaro
Former Women’s Champion Ashley Massaro passed away on Thursday at the age of 39. Massaro began her WWE career by winning the Diva Search contest in 2005. She would go on to perform for the company through 2008. The cause of death is currently unknown.
Money in the Bank Preview and Predictions
Smackdown Tag Titles: Bryan & Rowan(c) vs The Usos (preshow)
What does it say about the current state of the Smackdown Tag division when the only foes they can come up with to feud with the newly formed and newly crowned champs are a team that was recently relocated to Raw’s division? It’s sad that a series of poorly planned choices led us to this place when the tag division used to be one of the true highlights on Tuesday nights. That said, at least battling one of the top teams of the last decade lends credibility to Bryan and Rowan as the new champs. Prediction: Bryan & Rowan retain
Cruiserweight Title: Tony Nese(c) vs Ariya Daivari
Prediction: Nece retains
Roman Reigns vs Elias
Eventually Reigns will take over as the top dog on Smackdown, but as long as the momentum of the Kofi Kingston title run continues he needs to be kept busy in other ways. This is a decent enough feud to kick off the big dog’s SD residency primarily because the evil McMahon family has also been involved. Conventional wisdom would say that you never bet against Reigns, but if there’s potential to keep this feud going if Elias gets a fluke win here. There are plenty of other heels who potentially lend him a hand. Prediction: Elias
Steel Cage Match: Miz vs Shane McMahon
This feud probably should have ended with the babyface getting his moment at Wrestlemania. That said, given all of the roster shuffling since then, it has served as a nice transitional piece for more than just the two men in this match. It’s time to move on though. Miz needs to get his win and move on to feuding with other full-time wrestlers. McMahon needs to stay on Tuesday nights to be a thorn in Reign’s side. Prediction: Miz wins
Womens MitB Match: Natalya, Dana Brooke, Naomi, Nikki Cross, Bayley, Ember Moon, Carmella, and Mandy Rose
Alexa Bliss was removed from the match this week for medical reasons and replaced by Nikki Cross. Nikki has some momentum on her side having picked up a victory over the other 3 Raw women during a fatal four way Monday night. Dana Brooke is a hard worker who has her fans backstage, but she’s really only here to fill in for the awol Sasha Banks. Natalya, Naomi and Carmella are all former Women’s champions who can be counted on any time they are needed, but none of them seem to have any real momentum at the moment.
This brings us to the three most likely winners of the briefcase. Ember Moon has massive potential that has yet to be capitalized upon since she joined the main roster last year. A win here could propel her into the top ranks of the SD women’s division, but the fact that she’s a face makes her unlikely to win the MitB which works best when carried by an opportunistic heel. Rose clearly has her fans behind the scenes and has been on the brink of doing something big for some time now. Giving her the briefcase doesn’t have to mean immediately putting her into title contention. Her character could grow leaps and bounds by carrying it around as a looming threat for a while.
The most likely winner and person best suited to an immediate feud with the champ (regardless of who that is after MitB) is Bayley. Recent events both in front of and behind the scenes have given her a new edge, and as one of WWE’s Horsewomen she provides a legitimate threat to either Lynch or Flair at any time. Prediction: Bayley
Mens MitB Match: Sami Zayn, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, IC champ Finn Balor, Ali, Andrade, and Randy Orton
This one is a bit difficult to predict as it has obvious options as well as more interesting ones. Ricochet and Ali are both a bit too fresh and are here to fly around making things exciting. Balor doesn’t really need the win as he’s already the IC champion, and Andrade is likely to continue feuding with him over that title (though I personally think Andrade would be an ideal MitB holder).
Orton is a veteran who instantly adds credibility via his presence in the match, but him winning would not be well received by fans tired of seeing the same old thing all the time. Corbin has won the briefcase previously and could again, but it feels like he’s had plenty of chances lately. Zayn got into the match just this past Monday by defeating Braun Strowman for his spot (with plenty of help from McIntyre and Corbin). His character could do great things with that briefcase in his possession, but I suspect the revenge of Strowman will cost him during the match. This brings us to the most likely winner, Drew McIntyre. The savage Scot has been on the brink of superstardom for months and could believably get into the title picture without this contract. However the same could have been said about last year’s winner Strowman as well and they gave it to him. Prediction: McIntyre
United States Title: Samoa Joe(c) vs Rey Mysterio
I’m turning this one over to my colleague Gene,
WWE has one of the best heels of the past decade in Samoa Joe. Yet they can’t book him well for anything. Rey Mysterio is one of the all time greatest. But he’s been eating loss after loss after loss. Either Dominic gets beat down by Joe early in the pay per view, pissing off Rey and making him distracted to the point he loses the match, or Dominic turns on Rey and helps Joe get the W. WINNER: Samoa Joe
I agree. Dominic has been around for a reason. Prediction: Joe retains
Raw Women’s title: Becky Lynch© vs Lacey Evans
While it seems many of my colleagues and other writers I follow are not big fans of Evans, it’s clear that the company has big plans for the former Marine MP. Personally, I’ve enjoyed her character since I first saw her at an NXT house show well before her TV debut. I’m a sucker for vintage fashion though. That said, it’s far too soon for the lady of WWE to dethrone THE MAN. Lynch is also likely to stay on Raw going forward for a variety of reasons (including her recently confirmed romantic relationship with Seth Rollins), so when she does eventually drop one of the two belts it won’t be this one. Prediction: Lynch retains
Smackdown Women’s Title: Becky Lynch© vs Charlotte Flair
I’m far less certain of my prediction with this match. On one hand this is one of the most established feuds in all of WWE currently and could continue indefinitely. On the other hand, it feels like it’s time for them to both move on to other battles for a little while. It would be great to see the Becky Two Belts thing continue a bit longer, but it’s somewhat unbelievable for her to defeat both of her challengers Sunday night, especially when one of them is her toughest rival. Prediction: Flair wins her 1,000th title
WWE Title: Kofi Kingston© vs Kevin Owens
As a fan, I want Kofi to continue his well deserved reign for a long time. As someone well aware of the recent ratings woes, I fear he and others like him will be made scapegoats and have their runs ended prematurely. For now I’ll allow my less cynical side to prevail and go with the correct choice for this match. Prediction: Kingston retains
Universal Title: Seth Rollins© vs AJ Styles
Styles was always at or near the top of the SD card during his tenure there and will likely do the same here on Raw. It’s inevitable that he will eventually have a run with the Universal title. Given the journey to dethroning Lesnar though, it feels too soon to move on from Rollins as the champ. This match truly could go either way without upsetting too many people, but I think it best the beastslayer remain on top for now. Prediction: Rollins retains
Summer PPV Schedule
NXT TakeOver June 1
-NXT Title: Johnny Gargano(c) vs Adam Cole
Saudi Arabia Show June 7
-Goldberg vs Undertaker
-Triple H vs Randy Orton
-50 man battle royal
WWE Stomping Grounds June 23
Extreme Rules July 14
NXT TakeOver: Toronto August 10
Summerslam August 11
- Vipers trade for CFL star S.J. Green February 19, 2020
- Elusive eleventh conquered: Bolts make history in win over Avs February 18, 2020
- NXT Takeover: Portland – New champions, new challengers, and a rivalry comes full circle February 17, 2020
- Lightning don’t wait for trade deadline, acquire Coleman from Devils February 16, 2020
- Week in Pro Wrestling 2/10/20 TakeOver path & heartbreaks February 16, 2020
- Vipers offense struggles in the redzone again February 16, 2020
- 10 times two, Lightning get win over “Gritty” Flyers to continue streak February 15, 2020
- Player Highlight: Who is Daniel Williams the person February 15, 2020
- Aaron Murray ruled out as Vipers head to Seattle February 14, 2020
- Butherus: Spare the PFPs, I’m free and easy February 14, 2020