SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Wake the pets & call the neighbors, it’s time for our exclusive WWE Network pseudo-pay-per-view projections.
DISCLAIMER: Projections are based on what the columnist would do if he were booking this event, instead of Paul “NXT” Levesque, Runjin Singh, Ed Koskey, and Camp WWE Counselor Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Projections are not predictions, because this is the column where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. This preview has been sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall’s porch since noon today. Some of our departing contestants will receive the Record-A-Call 80 automatic telephone answering system. Voice actuated, with a remote control that plays back your message from anywhere in the world. The stars have been briefed to help with the bluffs, but they are hearing the actual questions for the first time. Pat McNeill’s wardrobe provided by Pierre Cardin. Remember, this is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, please, no wagering. This lineup is based on the best available information as of this writing. These projections are based on what the columnist would do if he had creative control over WWE, unless it’s not funny enough.
Roman Reigns isn’t a bad guy, or a good guy. He’s a guy who currently holds the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Reigns is also his own man, but he has friends like Dean Ambrose and The Usos. When Roman walks alone, he does so by choice.
A.J. Styles headlined in TNA, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. We are less than ninety days into Styles’s run in World Wrestling Entertainment, and he already has Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows with him. There are also a number of A.J.’s old acquaintances from New Japan, ROH, and TNA Wrestling floating around WWE. Really, we haven’t scratched the surface of that storyline.
Before we preview tonight’s show, let’s get to this month’s edition of the Wrestling History Lesson, because that’s why many of you clicked here in the first place.
Twenty years ago, on April 29, 1996, the World Wrestling Federation brought us a live episode of Monday Night Raw from Sioux City, Iowa. Your opening match saw one-half of the Smoking Gunns, Bart Gunn, take on future Hall of Famer Mankind. Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler had the call.
What was happening in World Wrestling Entertainment 15 years ago? I’m glad you asked! On April 29, 2001, the World Wrestling Federation presented “WWF Backlash 2001” in Chicago, Illinois. You can see this event on WWE Network, but you can’t see the pregame show that aired on “Sunday Night Heat.” That’s where the late Crash Holly defended the WWF Light Heavyweight Title against newcomer Jerry Lynn. Jim Ross & Paul Heyman had the call.
Did you catch WWE Smackdown? Well, you can watch the main event from this week’s episode right now. It’s Roman Reigns vs. The Miz from Manchester, New Hampshire. That’s right, the two top singles champions in WWE going at it on free television. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. What’s that? Year-low 1.5 rating? Okay. Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, and Jerry Lawler have the call.
Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and John B. Layfield will be announcing the show. Renee Young, Booker T, and Jerry Lawler will be doing the pre-show while Tom Phillips will sit alone in the social media lounge, being thankful that he’s not Rich Brennan. Mauro Ranallo will be doing the call of the Kickoff show. On with the program!
Mr. McMahon announces who will be running WWE Raw: I vote that Crazy Vince appoints a new GM for Raw, and it’s Jack Tunney. Vince (in the storyline) may not be aware that Tunney has passed away. As a result, Shane McMahon starts bringing Tunney’s corpse with him to Raw. Granted, you’ll have to explain the plot of “Weekend at Bernie’s” to certain people on the writing team, but I think it’s money.
Or, you have Donald Trump take over Raw again.
Or, you put William Regal in charge of Raw, and have him show up every few weeks to make announcements as needed.
One of those ideas was a lot better than the other two.
Kalisto vs. Ryback (WWE United States Title): For two weeks in a row, our United States champion has been headlining WWE Superstars. I figure it’s a matter of time before this championship becomes the exclusive “WWE Network Title”. Projection? WWE may be hot and cold when it comes to how the company treats Kalisto. They love Kalisto because he reminds them of Rey Mysterio. And WWE undervalues Kalisto…because he reminds them of Rey Mysterio. But Ryback seems to be even further down the totem pole. Kalisto wins with Salida Del Sol.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin: Last month, we told you Baron Corbin was a better fit for the main WWE roster than he was in NXT. I think that’s been borne out. Baron gets to start his main roster run with a feud against Dolph ZIggler, just like Tyler Breeze did. Projection? Corbin wins with the End of Days, and this feud must continue.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains: The Smacktalking Skywalker and the tall dude are fitting in nicely. I think WWE fans really get the Vaudevillains just yet. Either that, or WWE fan don’t care. Projection? The Dudleys interfere and wipe out Cass, and Team 1899 finishes Enzo with the Whirling Dervish. Enzo & Cass need something more substantial than a feud with the Vaudevillains. Bubba Ray & D-Von can help with that.
Charlotte Flair (w/Ric Flair) vs. Natalya Kidd (w/Bret Hart) – WWE Women’s Title: Sure, you might see this match as a classic catch as catch can throwdown, but Bret Hart sees this as a long flight he’s taking out of an obligation to his niece. Projection? The Hitman has enough on the ball to chase Ric Flair to the back, but Charlotte pins Natalya while using the ropes for leverage, because Charlotte is a cheating cheater who cheats.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (Match Between Two Guys Who Don’t Like Each Other): The videos explaining the history between Zayn and Owens have built interest in this match, at least in our PWTorch.com poll. That’s good, because the way the two Quebecers were booked over the past month didn’t do them any favors. Projection? Owens wins with a Greco-Roman thumb to the eye, setting up a big Fight Without Hon…I mean, hardcore match for Extreme Rules.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho: Mr. Jericho scored an upset victory over A.J. Styles at WrestleMania. Naturally, this ended up with Styles getting the title shot tonight, while Jericho and Dean Ambrose are feuding over who gets to host a talk show segment. Projection? Ambrose needs to beat a main eventer at some point to get back on track. But he winds up beating Jericho instead, with his Dirty Deeds DDT.
The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (WWE Intercontinental Title): The prestigious IC championship bounced around a couple time since last month. The title is on Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, who is now managed by Maryse “Way Out of His League” Mizanin. Projection? It’s already going to be a rough night for the good guys. Let’s have the sharp-dressed Cesaro win with The Neutralizer. It’s not like the First Family needs the belt to generate heat.
Roman Reigns vs. A.J. Styles (WWE Title): It’s not like WWE hasn’t tried to get Roman Reigns over as a babyface. It’s not like Roman Reigns hasn’t tried to get over as a babyface. But it’s not working. The Roman will probably end up as the next John Cena. He’ll be popular with casual fans, and the core WWE audience will hate him like poison. Nothing new. Projection? Ambrose drops by. Anderson & Gallows drop by. The Usos drop by. Finn Balor drops by. There’s a huge schmoz outside on the floor, and Reigns pops Styles with the Superman Punch and pins him.
Aftermath: Of course, this sets up a big Reigns vs. Styles cage match at Extreme Rules. And Ambrose versus Balor. And Zayn vs. Owens in an Extreme Toys match.
Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina has been a PWTorch Columnist since 2001. He’d take the Toronto Raptors to defeat Indiana in tonight’s NBA playoff game. You know, if gambling were legal.
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