Stephanie McMahon makes her first on-screen appearances since Wrestlemania

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…Let me first say the obvious: Stephanie and Vince have both clearly Face Turned (for now) given the McMahon vs. Owens feud. Vince did a hell of a job as usual selling the shit out of the ass kicking he took from KO (video cued to start at that point):

Pay close attention to Vince the whole time: He’s literally egging KO on.

For those who can’t read lips Vince can be clearly seen saying “Hit me in my face.” at the beginning of the attack. The blood was an unexpected bonus. It may not look like it but KO really did headbutt Vince dead-on, the latter having no time to brace for it. The rest, you can clearly see Vince prettymuch walking him through it. After getting moved to the middle of the ring Vince motions with his body toward the turnbuckle to his left just long enough for KO to know exactly what to do next.

Although she looks pissed, you can faintly hear Steph say “You did a good job Kevin now get out of here.” Clearly she’s had alot of practice doing that (LOL!). Like father like daughter you could say. Steph’s surprise appearance on Smackdown shouldn’t be a surprise given the finale for the Mae Young Classic would happen right after Smackdown. That’s also why Ronda Rousey was in the crowd.

Speaking of:

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Kairi Sane defeated Shayna Baszler to with the inaugural Mae Young Classic. Kairi’s professional experience in the indie scene came into play despie the obvious mismatch she faced in former UFC fighter Baszler, who won all of her previous matches by submission.

It is worth nothing WWE kept this under the radar but Kairi had been signed to a WWE contract prior to the start of the Mae Young Classic. Even if she lost, that wouldn’t have changed. On that note. WWE.com announced overnight Kairi will challenge for the NXT Women’s Championship, which was vacated last week by Asuka, who herself will debut on RAW “soon”. Asuka’s debut will definitely happen after No Mercy but could be before or just after Survivor Series.

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…Make no mistake the Mae Young Classic’s second purpose aside from showcasing talent was recruitment. Including the two finalists, I’m pretty sure WWE will take at least half of the other competators. At least four of them attended the finale as did Ronda Rousey, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch.

Kairi will likely feud with Ember Moon for the NXT Women’s Championship as the new top draws on NXT going into the Royal Rumble. Baszler, on the other hand…I could see her being sent to Smackdown to help build Charlotte’s match with Rousey. Hell, we could know as soon as next week.

Looking ahead to the 2018 Royal Rumble…

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This pic is from the 2016 Royal Rumble (that’s the Wrestlemania 32 logo in the background) but it raised an interesting question that could now become a reality: What if WWE did a Women’s Royal Rumble at the 2018 Royal Rumble?

They would have just enough women to do it if they bring back some fan favorites from the Mae Young Classic and throw in a surprise entrant or two. Paige making her official return then would be awesome. The winner would become the #1 contender for the championship of the show they’re affiliated with. A “Free Agent” would be able to pick which title holder they want to challenge. I do think the time is right to at least try it in 2018.

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Stephanie McMahon makes her first on-screen appearances since Wrestlemania

Daniel Bryan launches Smacking Talk via Instagam this week

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Two weeks ago, WWE announced via Twitter the July 11 episode of Talking Smack would be the last one. The problem is the show’s hosts Daniel Bryan and Renee Young found out when everyone else did (LOL!). It was out of nowhere. Vince McMahon made the call to can Talking Smack. He reportedly didn’t like the show and pulled the plug due to low ratings despite it’s mega popularity and the creation of its RAW counterpart, RAW Talk (LOL).

Talking Smack’s ratings stock fell when 205 Live was put in its time slot after Smackdown and clearly Vince did that on purpose to justify cancelling the show. Well, have no fear: Daniel Bryan is bringing it back in the form of Smacking Talk. The reason for the name change is like RAW Talk, Talking Smack will live on as a post-PPV show like RAW Talk currently does. D-Bry will live stream Smacking Talk via Instagram after Smackdown every week and presumably got cleared by WWE to do it.

It really is a shame Talking Smack was canned as it was mega popular. Who can forget the episode last year when the Miz broke character during his rant against D-Bry? Suddenly, the feud between them felt alot more personal. The show was a great way for Smackdown Superstars to build their characters further post-show and it’s a damned shame it’s now gone. Hopefully, D-Bry can convince WWE to bring it back.

Daniel Bryan launches Smacking Talk via Instagam this week

Bleacher Report reveals two possibly confirmed Brand Swaps

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Not even 3 days after Vince McMahon made the big announcement, Bleacher Report has reportedly confirmed two brand swaps: AJ Styles will be going to RAW while The New Day will be going to Smackdown. There is pending confirmation Charlotte Flair and Alexia Bliss will switch brands as well based recent booking involving one or both superstars.

Should they happen, all 3 brand swaps would make a whole lot of sense:

  • AJ Styles going to RAW is a no-brainer as The Club will be reformed. He had a nice, long run as the WWE Champion on Smackdown and is pretty over with the WWE Universe. With Finn Balor back from injury, Styles could be used to help him get broken in again. Or Kevin Owens. Syles, like Seth Rollins would be fine as either a Face or a Heel.
  • The New Day going to Smackdown goes without saying. Despite not really being used since they lost the Tag Team titles they’re still mega popular. They would do for The Blue Brand what John Cena is (now) doing for Smackdown and raise the profile of the show’s tag team division. RAW’s a bit overloaded between Gallows and Anderson, Sheamus and Caesaro, Enzo and Cass and now The Hardy Boys so…yeah. Now’s a good time for them to move.
  • Charlotte and Alexia swapping for each other would be huge for the brand they go to. Charlotte would raise the profile of Smackdown’s Women’s Division, which doesn’t really have a main draw aside from Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch and Naomi (current Smackdown Women’s Champion). Charlotte would be the badly needed shot in the arm Smackdown’s Women’s Division is looking for. Alexia would be great competition for Sasha Banks, Bayley and possibly Nia Jaxx. I’m assuming both stay Heels after the switch of course.

…There were rumors Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins could be moved as well. Reigns moving seems unlikely post-Wrestlemania given he may be involved with Brock Lesnar (current Universal Champion) and Braun Strowman. Rollins going to Smackdown could work, on the other hand since no one wants to see another Cena/Orton feud for the WWE Championship. Plus let’s be honest it would be real interesting seeing Rollins and fellow former Shield member Dean Ambrose (current Intercontinental Champion) paired as well.

…Of course, the obvious question is who goes the other way in exchange. Here are my picks based on just these names and others I’ve heard floating around:

  • AJ to RAW, Rollins to Smackdown
  • Charlotte and Alexia swap with each other
  • The New Day to Smackdown, Slater and Rhyno to RAW
  • Luke Harper to RAW, Mark Henry to Smackdown
  • Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler swap with each other
  • Carmella and James Ellesworth to RAW, Rusev and Lana to Smackdown
  • Aiden English to 205 Live
  • Shane and Stephanie McMahon swap with each other

Speaking if Aiden English: His partner Simon Gotch was released by WWE yesterday. It was presumably due to his piss-poor attitude as well as some trouble he got into with other superstars, all backstage. The Vaudvillains weren’t really used much since the brand split either so…yeah. I believe English already meets the weight requirement to be a Cruiserweight (200 lbs or less) so…yeah. It’ll be the chance for him to be rebranded and work with established talent.

On that note: There are rumors USA Network is offering WWE a slot for the Cruiserweight division, which currently airs on WWE Network. It’s nothing more than a rumor though.

Ellsworth…it’s clear WWE is trying to figure out what to do with him for the rest of his contract at this point. Sending him with Carmella to RAW could help. At the same time, bringing Rusev and Lana to Smackdown would give The Blue Brand another mixed tag team to feud with The Miz/Maryse or John Cena/Nikki Bella.

There is also the possability Shane and Stephanie will switch shows. There’d been talk bringing back the Authority Faction after the split was an unintended accident but since it got alot of attention, they ran with it. Stephanie McMahon is the Chief Branding Officer in WWE outside her on-screen role as RAW Comissioner. Sending Shane McMahon, who doesn’t have an official role outside his on-screen character to RAW will allow RAW to fully cut ties with the Authority Faction.

It would also be pretty interesting to see Shane and RAW GM Kurt Angle interact with each other. The two put on some great matches back in the day. Likewise, there are the usual rumors the real reason Stephanie’s been joining her husband in the gym more over the last year (she does regularly work out) is she is preparing to return to in-ring action. She wouldn’t mesh well against the RAW women but Smackdown’s is a different story.

Finally, I don’t see any of the current title holders moving. Not unless they’re swapped for the corresponding title holder on the other brand. For example Universal Champion Brock Lesnar swaps with WWE Champion Randy Orton. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose (Smackdown) for U.S. Champion Kevin Owens (RAW) is certainly possible as is RAW Women’s Champion Bayley for Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi.

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Bleacher Report reveals two possibly confirmed Brand Swaps

More Op-Eds urge Ronda Rousey to pursue a WWE Career

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…At this point, I think it’s only a matter of time.

After losing in her redebut match in 48 seconds at UFC 207, it’s become painfully clear to everyone–most importantly Rousey herself–her MMA days are over. Her best bet is to take her talents to WWE, which she is already on very good terms with. She has said in the past she’d like to compete in the WWE several times before. It’s not a matter of IF but WHEN at this point. She is a huge WWE fan after all.

Rousey famously appeared alongside The Rock, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a promo at Wrestlemania 31. If WWE isn’t on the phone with Rousey right now, they should be. Getting Rousey would probably kill TNA and bring in more UFC fans at the same time just to watch her.

Maybe even have her introduced as a Free Agent at Wrestlemania.  Steph and Shane come out and introduce her. Rousey comes out, crowd goes nuts. Rousey says she came for one purpose and that was to win the Women’s Championship. The current RAW and Smackdown Women’s Champions come out to size her up. Shane speaks up saying Rousey may have signed a WWE contract but she hasn’t signed with either brand yet.

The months leading up to Summer Slam, Rousey appears on both shows. Then she’s booked in a match against both Women’s Champions. She will join the show of whichever Champion she beats. However, she will go to opposite show of whichever Champion beats her.  THAT would be good booking.

Make it happen, WWE!

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More Op-Eds urge Ronda Rousey to pursue a WWE Career

The Undertaker returns for Smackdown’s 900th Episode

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The Phenom returned for the first time since Wrestlemania and the first thing he did was get in the face of the man he faced in a Hell in a Cell Match in April. Shane McMahon, who dove off the top of the cell at the end of the match and came back like nothing happened the following night (LOL!). Speaking of, ‘Taker called the Smackdown Commissioner “The man who has no fear”, referring to their match at Wrestlemania.

Speaking to the WWE Universe, The Deadman said “Wrestlemania would no longer define who I am. I’m here for taking souls and digging holes”. Translation: The Undertaker is now a member of the Smackdown roster. He’s not going to be at Survivor Series but he has promised swift punishment should Team Smackdown’s Mens team lose. It’s worth noting he was looking at the WWE Championship when he gave his warning.

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Noticably absent from the 900th Episode were The Rock and John Cena. The Rock sent out a message via Instagram congratulating the brand based on his catchphrase on its 900th Episode. Hopefully he’ll be able to make it in person to the 1000th episode, which will likely be sometime in 2019.

While there was no explaination for Cena’s absence, he is scheduled to make an appearance next week following Survivor Series. It’s like I said a few months ago: Cena was drafted to Smackdown to help boost ratings. While the brand has been doing fine without him, he should at least be visible. Cena hasn’t appeared since his Triple Threat Match with AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose at No Mercy.

 

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Smackdown’s  Survivor Series Mens team (with team mascot james Ellesworth) invaded RAW when it looked like Shane and D-Bry’s meeting with Steph and Foley was about to end very badly. When all hell broke loose, Team RAW managed to drive off Team Smackdown thanks in no small part to the Monster Heel Braun Strowman.

The following night, RAW Women’s Champion Charlotte showed up during Nikki Bella’s match with Carmella and grabbed a seat at ringside. Things went to hell fast when the team captains started going at it. When the action moved into the ring the rest of Team RAW–Sasha Banks, Baley, Nia Jaxx and Alicia Fox–stormed the ring and attacked Nikki and Carmella, who tried to aid her fellow Smackdown teammate desite being opponents moments earlier. Team Smackdown coach Natalya arrived with the rest of Team Smackdown–Naomi, Alexia Bliss and Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch–but it didn’t look like it would be enough to slow down Nia Jaxx. A missed tackle took her out of comission and evened the playing field for Team Smackdown, which managed to fend off the rest of Team RAW.

This is the first time we’ve seen cross-brand clashes since the buildup for Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton’s match at Summer Slam a few months ago. Of course, it makes sense given Survivor Series is a cross-brand Pay Per View. The next cross-brand Pay Per View will be the Royal Rumble in January.

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Unsurprisingly, The Miz reclaimed the Intercontinental Championship. When Dolph Ziggler hold the title close before the match started, I knew he was booked to lose the title. The Miz will defend the IC title against RAW Superstar Sami Zayn at Survivor Series.

The Miz wasted no time rubbing his victory into D-Bry’s face on Talking Smack after Smackdown went off the air. The Smackdown GM reluctantly said he would be pulling for The Miz to successfully defend the IC Title at Smackdown: If the Miz loses the title, the IC title goes to RAW.

Personally, I think The Miz will retain. My reason for saying that is because of what D-Bry said after The Miz left the set. He said he’d been looking into trading The Miz to RAW for Sami Zayn or Caesaro. Of course, that was before he won back the IC title. There’s also the fact Stephanie McMahon said Sami Zayn will likely be off the roser if he fails to bring the IC title to RAW two weeks ago. So yeah, it makes more sense for Zayn to lose at Survivor Series, get released and sign with Smackdown. Dude kinda needs space to come into his own. He hasn’t really been used well on RAW.

…Plus RAW needs to make room for the eventual return of Finn Balor ala Seth Rollins.

The Undertaker returns for Smackdown’s 900th Episode

No titles change hands at Battleground 2016

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…The WWE Championship will remain with Smackdown. After a battle that lasted nearly 18 minutes, Dean Ambrose (Smackdown) hit Roman Reigns (RAW) with Dirty Deeds to pick up the victory. The question that was at the back of everyone’s minds was weather or not Ambrose and Reigns, who remains close friends after The Shield broke up would hold back on each other. The answer was an umemphatic no when Ambrose and Rollins (RAW) powerbombed Reigns through the Spanish Announcers’ table.

With Ambrose gaving retained the WWE Championship for Smackdown, this means RAW’s new top title should be announced Monday night. This also allows the Rollins/Reigns rivalry to continue right were it left off before the latter’s suspension.

The Miz (Smackdown) and Darren Young’s (RAW) match for the IC Championship ended in a no contest and the Miz retained the title for Smackdown. Rusev (RAW) also defeated Zack Ryder (Smackdown) to retain the US Title for RAW. The Women’s title (Charlotte, RAW) and the Tag Ream titles (The New Day, RAW) were not contested.

This leaves Smackdown with one mid-tier title (IC Title, The Miz) and the WWE Championship (Ambrose) while RAW has one mid-tier title (US Title Rusev), the Women’s Championship (Charlotte), the Tag Team titles (The New Day) and a vacancy in the brand’s yet to be announced top title.

New rivalries are sure to be introduced this week on RAW and Smackdown. You can believe that!

No titles change hands at Battleground 2016

WWE Draft 2016: Smackdown Results [UPDATED]

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Here are the first 30 draft choices in the order they were announced by brand on the first live edition of Smackdown. In parantheses are is the overall draft order. These rosters should be assumed set in stone after Battleground though as of right now, there is one cross-brand match on the card for Summer Slam next month (Lesnar vs. Orton).

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The Raw Commissioner is Stephanie McMahon. The GM is Mick Foley.

Superstars:

  • Seth Rollins (1st)
  • Women’s Champion Charlotte (3rd)
  • Finn Balor* (5th)
  • Roman Reigns (6th)
  • Brock Lesnar (8th)
  • Tag Team Champions The New Day# (10th)
  • Sami Zayn (11th)
  • Sasha Banks (13th)
  • Chris Jericho (15th)
  • US Champion Rusev w/ Lana (16th)
  • Kevin Owens (18th)
  • Enzo and Cass# (20th)
  • Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (21st)
  • The Big Show (23rd)
  • Nia Jax* (25th)
  • Neville (26th)
  • Cesaro (28th)
  • Sheamus (30th)
  • The Golden Truth# (31st)
  • Titus O’Neil (33rd)
  • Paige (35th)
  • Darren Young (36th)
  • Sin Carra (38th)
  • Jack Swagger (40th)
  • The Dudley Boyz# (42nd)
  • Summer Rae (44th)
  • Mark Henry (46th)
  • Braun Stroman (48th)
  • Bo Dallas (50th)
  • The Shining Stars# (52nd)
  • Alicia Fox (54th)
  • Dana Brooke (56th)
  • Curtis Axel (58th)

 

Announcers

  • Michael Cole
  • Corey Graves
  • Byron Saxton

* Drafted from NXT

# All existing members of the group were drafted together

 

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The Smackdown Commissioner is Shane McMahon. The GM is Daniel Bryan.

 

Superstars:

  • WWE Champion Dean Ambrose (2nd)
  • AJ Styles (4th)
  • John Cena (7th)
  • Randy Orton (9th)
  • Bray Wyatt (12th)
  • Becky Lynch (14th)
  • Intercontinental Champion The Miz w/ Maurice (17th)
  • Baron Corbin (19th)
  • American Alpha* (22nd)
  • Dolph Ziggler (24th)
  • Natalya (27th)
  • Alberto Del Rio (29th)
  • The Usos# (32nd)
  • Kane (34th)
  • Kalisto (37th)
  • Naomi (39th)
  • The Ascension (41st)
  • Zack Ryder (43rd)
  • Apollo Crews (45th)
  • Alexa Blizz* (47th)
  • Breezango (49th)
  • Eva Marie (51st)
  • The Vaudevillains (53rd)
  • Eric Rowan (55th)
  • Mojo Rawley* (57th)
  • Carmella* (59th)

 

Announcers:

  • Mauro Ranollo
  • JBL
  • David Otunga

 

* Drafted from NXT

# All existing members of the group were drafted together

 

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…There you have it. As I expected earlier, only the top talent were drafted first. Mid-Tier and Lower-Tier picks will be made on WWE Network after Smackdown. I don’t plan to say up for those picks so I’ll give you those 30 picks sometime tomorrow. This weekend, I will make a page with the full list of who is on which roster.

…You will notice Jerry Lawler’s name is not on either announcers’ list. According to a few sources, he was quietly released last week due to the legal trouble he got into a few weeks ago. There are two notable omissions to both rosters: Heath Slater, Luke Harper and Tamina Snuka. You can’t help but wonder a few things given Slater’s there to be fed to other superstars and the lawsuit Tamina’s father is a part of that was filed on Monday. Harper–the 4th member of the Wyatt Family is wrapping up production with a WWE Movie.

There were also a few more matches than I thought. Here are some highlights:

  • Darren Young unveiled the Chicken Wing submisssion maneuver on The Miz. It’s a move he obviously learned from his life coach, WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund.
  • Aj Styles showed off a Smackdown T-Shirt as he made his way to the ring with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in the first match of the night. AJ had been drafted to Smackdown but Gallows and Anderson were undrafted at that point.
  • Kane’s match with Kevin Owens never happened due to Sami Zayn’s interference. After getting double chokeslammed by Kane, Owens and Zayn were both drafted to RAW.
  • Unlike the night before, Dean Ambrose cleanly retained the WWE Championship vs. Seth Rollins heading into Battleground.

I will provide a more in depth analysis of what the new rosters could mean in a separate post.

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WWE Draft 2016: Smackdown Results [UPDATED]