SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Wake the pets and call the neighbors, it’s time for our exclusive WWE Network 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, Ryan Ward, and WWE Chairman Vincent Kennedy Trump 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 a year’s supply of Starburst fruit chews. Available in five different varieties. Furnished by M&M Mars. Pat McNeill’s wardrobe provided by Mr. Guy of Beverly Hills. 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 predictions are based on what the columnist would do if he had creative control over WWE, right after he adds a whole bunch of 1970’s and 1980’s wrestling to the Vault on WWE Network.
The WWE Brand Extension Draft was good news for Smackdown. Smackdown Live! drew its best rating in months. And, with all the content WWE is dishing out, the promotion seems to have something for everybody, whether it’s sports entertainment on Raw, sports entertainment lite on smackdown, more traditional pro wrasslin’ on NXT, or even the next generation Cruiserweight Classic.
The downside is, if you’re trying to follow your favorite quasi-monopolistic wrestling promotion, it’s like trying to get a sip of water while someone has stuck a running garden hose in your mouth. But that’s a topic for another day.
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 July 22, 1996 the World Wrestling Federation presented a live episode of Monday Night Raw from Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. It was the Smokin Gunns defending the WWF World Tag Team Titles against Shawn Michaels & Ahmed Johnson. Jim Valley was somewhere in the audience. Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler had the call.
What was happening in World Wrestling Entertainment fifteen years ago? I’m glad you asked! On July 17, 2001 the World Wrestling Federation taped an episode of “WWF Smackdown” from the Fleet Center in Boston. Your main event that night saw “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Kurt Angle against Booker T & Rhyno. Who doesn’t like that? Jim Ross and Michael Cole had the call.
Did you catch the opening match on WWE Main Event this week? Watch it now (sort of). It’s Apollo Crews joining forces with The Golden Truth to face Baron Corbin & The Dudleys. Tom Phillips & David Otunga have the call.
Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and John B. Layfield will be announcing the show (I guess), Renee Young, Booker T, Lita, and Jerry Lawler will be doing the pre-show while Tom Phillips will be hiding in the social media lounge. Mauro Ranallo will be doing the call of the Kickoff show. On with the program!
The Usos vs. Breezango (Smackdown Pre-show Match): Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 WWE Tag Team of the Year! Projection? The Usos win with their finisher. The problem is, it’s been so long that I had to go back and look up their finisher. (It’s a double Samoan splash.) Go Usos!
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya Kidd (Smackdown Women’s Match): The good news is, with both ladies on the same show, we’ll get to see more of this matchup. Probably a lot more. Projection? Natalya pins Becky with a rollup while holding the Red Lady’s tights. When in doubt, go with the classics.
Chris Jericho interviews Randy Orton: The only real question here is whether Orton is coming back as a fan favorite or as a rulebreaker. Putting The Viper out there with Jericho suggests Randy will beat up Y2J and be a fan favorite. However, pro wrestling logic dictates Orton should be a rulebreaker. (Smackdown is short on rulebreakers, plus Brock Lesnar will probably get cheered anyway at SummerSlam.) I’m leaning toward Orton as a heel, but I’m REALLY leaning toward WWE not tipping its hand this evening.
Alexander Rusev (w/Natasha Fatale) vs. Zack Ryder (WWE United States Title): I feel like we’ve done this one before. Rusev is from Raw, Ryder is from Smackdown, so this should be the match that ends the feud. Projection? Lana distracts the ref. Rusev wins with the spin kick and the Bulgarian Clutch.
Mike Mizanin (w/Maryse Mizanin) vs. Darren Young (w/Mr. Backlund) (WWE Intercontinental Title): Three months of The Miz as WWE Intercontinental Champion is a pretty decent run. It should be about time to switch the championship. And this move would put both secondary titles on Raw, which would no doubt help the main McMahon versus McMahon storyline. Projection? Young wins clean in the middle of the ring with the crossface chicken wing. This would make Darren the first openly gay Intercontinental Champion since Pat Patterson. WWE may choose to mention that.
Charlotte Flair & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & Mystery Partner: So, who is Sasha Banks selecting to help her out against Charlotte & Mini-Charlotte? A lot of fans want it to be Bayley. Heck, I’d love to see Bayley on the main roster, but WWE doesn’t seem to be going in that direction. Projection? **Nikki Bella** has been medically cleared, so let’s say it’s her. The heels have some sort of miscommunication and Nikki pins Dana. This doesn’t mean Nikki has to wrestle full time, although my guess is they’d put her on the Smackdown side.
The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family (Six-Man Tag Team Match): WWE decided to use this draft to split up the Wyatt Family. I don’t think that’s a good idea, unless Luke Harper is a lot closer to returning than I think he is. Projection? A big crazy brawl that closes up with Big E. pinning Rowan following the Big Ending. The champions stay strong.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: This will be the match that settles the score between long-time rivals Zayn and Owens. Until next month, when they do it all over again. Projection? Owens wins with a low blow followed by a pop-up powerbomb. WWE knew what it was doing by keeping both wrestlers on Raw.
John Cena & Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy vs. A.J. Styles & Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson: This will be the end of an era. It’s The Club’s last chance to #BeatUpJohnCena as a unit until Summerslam. If you’re wondering how Styles protects himself from Cena from now on, tune in to Smackdown. Projection? Gallows pins Enzo with the Gallows Pole, setting up Enzo & Cass to continue feuding with Gallows & Anderson on Raw.
Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Heavyweight Title – Triple Threat Rules): So, who remembers the last brand split, when Triple H argued that no one should get the WWE Title unless the company was ready to leave it on them for at least three months? Seems quaint in hindsight. Projection? This will be a long match, and this will probably be a good match. Roman Reigns gets booed again, some more. Rollins hits the Pedigree on Reigns, then Ambrose pitches Seth out of the ring and pins Reigns to keep his championship. Good times.
Aftermath: Next month is Summerslam. Lesnar vs. Orton, Rollins vs. Reigns, and Ambrose vs. Cena vs. Styles. See you in Brooklyn.
Pat McNeill has been a PWTorch Columnist since 2001. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina. He’d take the St. Louis Cardinals over the Los Angeles Dodgers in tonight’s televised baseball game. You know, if gambling were legal.