Backlash done, Money in the Bank up next!

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…How shall I put this? When the best match on the card is the opener, it says alot. When the house crowd heads for the exits as soon as Roman Reigns comes out, you know Vince McMahon has no choice but the make some hard decisions he knows he doesn’t want to make about his new top guy.

At this point, one three things will need to happen and it should happen ASAP:

  1. Roman Reigns Heel turns: Fast track to this would be to have Reigns destroy a Top Babyface. Seth Rollins and/or Finn Balor would be sufficient. Taking out Braun Strowman…that would instantly put him Over.
  2. Braun Strowman replaces Reigns as the new Top Guy: Let’s be honest, Strowman could Heel turn and he would STILL be over. He got Over when he destroyed Roman Reigns several times last year as a Heel. Strowman would be a safe bet at this point now that he’s worked with all the top talent on the roster at this point.
  3. Someone Else Replaces Reigns as the new Top Guy: AJ Styles could pull it off as could D-Bry, who are both Over with the WWE Universe already.

 

According to some sources, WWE’s plan for Roman Reigns is to book him like they did Daniel Bryan with a “management is keeping me from the title” angle. The problem is the reason it worked with Daniel Bryan is because originally the plan was for Batista, who won the Royal Rumble in 2014 was originally booked to win the WWE Championship off Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 30.

Orton annd Triple H convinced Vince and Batista putting D-Bry over would be the better storyline so they changed the card that year. Batista’s part-time contract with WWE would be expiring after Wrestlemania 30 and he needed to return to Hollywood to help promote the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. So, the card was changed so D-Bry would both get his revenge on Triple H and win the Title in the same night in two separate matches.

…The rest is history.

I suspected this might have been the plan for Reigns when Vince Kayfable temporarily suspended him for running his mouth. I am willing to see how things turn out but the obvious problem is Reigns can’t cut a good promo for shit. He was destroyed on the mic trying to cut promos with John Cena last summer leading up to their match at Summer Slam as a reminder. His ring skills aren’t the problem. His problem is he lacks the charisma and mic skills to be a Babyface.

I do think “Roman vs. Authority” could work as long as Triple H isn’t involved since he was used already. When Rollins came back from the knee injury that forced him to vacate the WWE Championship two years ago, things were set in motion for his Face turn. It was well executed and was organically done, ending with the Rollins vs. Triple H. Match at Wrestlemania 33.

…On that note. Roman Reigns beat Triple H for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 32 using the “Regins vs. The Authority” angle. Ironically, that was when the house crowd started booing him actually. The WWE Universe realized then that Reigns was going to be the new top guy and felt he hadn’t earned it like the guys before him did.

As I said before, the plan for him could work BUT Triple H can’t be involved this time since he was used before already and it didn’t work. Having him feud with Shane could work, however.

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All the titles defended at Backlash were retained. Neither of the tag team titles were defended, nor was the Universal Title. On that note, Brock Lesnar is not booked to compete at Money in the Bank and that’s probably just as well. It’s no longer a secret Lesnar is in talks with UFC to compete at some point later this year. Since WWE and UFC are on friendly terms between Lesnar, Ronda Rousey (And Bobby Lashley and Shana Baszler), it might be a cross-promotion opportunity if Lesnar has the Universal Title when he competes on UFC.

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Speaking of UFC-WWE crossovers.

Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke, who along with Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey were known as the Four Horsewomen of UFC reported to the WWE Development Center in Orlando earlier this week. They will presumably follow in Baszler’s footsteps and go through NXT before moving on to the main roster.

The four were involved in an awkwardly cut promo involving three of NXT’s Four Horsewomen Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch (Sasha Banks was the only one who wasn’t there) during the Mae Young Classic last year (which Baszler competed in and is the current NXT Women’s Champion).

Now that Shafir and Duke are both coming to WWE, the challenge Rousey famously threw down could happen. Since all PPVs are now crossbrand, it will no longer matter who’s on which roster either.

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This year’s Money in the Bank PPV happens June 17 and will be crossbrand. Like last year, there will be a match for men and women BUT superstars from both brands will be involved.

The following Men have qualified so far:

  • Braun Strowman
  • Finn Balor
  • The Miz
  • Rusev

 

The following Women have qualified so far:

  • Ember Moon
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Mandy Rose

 

There will presumably be four superstars from each brand involved. Whoever wins the match gets the briefcase for their brand. I predict RAW will get the Women’s Briefcase and Smackdown will get the Men’s Briefcase.

16 out of 19 cash-in attempts were successful. Who were the three failed cash-ins? Let’s revisit that:

  • John Cena: Cena became the first person to fail to cash in the Money in the Bank Briecase in 2012: He famously announced a week in advance he would be cashing it on then current WWE Champion CM Punk at RAW 1000. Thanks to The Big Show running interference, the attempt ended in failure.
  • Damien Sandow: Won the briefcase in 2013 and failed to cash it in vs. John Cena, who was the current WWE Champion at the time.
  •  Baron Corbin: Tried to cash in vs. then WWE Champion  Jinder Mahal last year when they were both on Smackdown but failed due to interference from Randy Orton. In truth, Corbin was booked for the failed cash-in as punishment for some backstage comments to a guest speaker he took issue with.

O

 

 

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Backlash done, Money in the Bank up next!

In WWE-Exclusive documentary, it’s revealed WWE’s change in focus wooed Bruno Sammartino

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…I spent about 10 minutes just coming up with the title of this article. LOL.

As folks know, WWE firmly shifted focus away from its Entertainment side toward its Athletic Side starting about 10 years ago. WWE gave up trying to rez ECW and introduced NXT as its “Minor League” Development Brand. No longer would superstars have to do the Indie Circuit to make a name for themselves and hope they get noticed by WWE. Oh, no.

Aside from WWE getting serious about developing new talent, they started paying attention to talent in promotions run by current and former superstars. Booker T, JBL, The Great Khali, Santino Marello, Ivory, D-Von Dudley, Nataliya and Paige are just a few of the current and former superstars who either run or their families run a wrestling promotion. It was mentioned on RAW but after years of trying, Ember Moon finally got into WWE through Booker T’s promotion. He personally reccommended her for NXT and the rest is history.

Triple H, who is the Executive Vice President of WWE also runs NXT. Much of the things done in NXT were brought to the main roster as NXT Superstars moved on to the main roster. It should come as on surprise the product would gradually shift away from its Entertainment side and back to its Atheletic side. It was a change that needed to happen and the timing was right.

Bruno Sammartino was known as “The Living Legend” when he left WWE in 1988 after doing commentary for a year. By then, he had had enough of the product at the time and didn’t like the direction Pro Wrestling was going when he left. He even refused to watch wrestling and didn’t until one fateful phone call from Triple H in 2013.

While Bruno wasn’t the only “Old School” Wrestler who abhored the direction wrestling was going from the 1980s to mid-2000s, he was and still is considered today the greatest ever to lace a pair of boots. He is the face of pro wrestling and probably still will be despite his passing last week.

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Hypothetically speaking let’s say Bruno decided to stay on with WWE (then WWF) as a wrestler for an additional 8 years from 1987. That would get him to 1995 before he bowed out as an in-ring competator but stayed on in other roles for another 15 or 20 years.  That would get him to 2010 or 2015.

One thing I know for sure is The Monday Night Wars would not have happened. There is just no chance in hell it could have because no one in their right mind would expect to be able to compete with a promotion with Bruno Sammaratino on it. Of course, this also means The Attitude Era never happens since all of WCW’s draws would have likely signed or transferred to WWE in the early and mid-90s including Sting. Can you imagine ‘Taker vs. Sting at Wrestlemania 14?! Goldberg vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 16?! I could go on!

Man oh man. I am not exaggerating when I say the course of wrestling history would have changed if Bruno stayed involved with WWE through the 90s and beyond. Even though Vince was building Hogan and to a lesser extent Andre the Giant to be the new top guys during the 80s, Sammaratino just being there would have eliminated WCW and later also ECW as threats. They would’ve still been there but they wouldn’t have been as big as they would become but I won’t digress further.

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…No one lives forever. That much is true.

At the very least, it’s good that Sammartino, like Goldberg made up with WWE. Not just for the Hall of Fame but because he was A Living Legend. No one who knows wrestling doesn’t know who he is and vice versa. It’s all the more reason it is good he was able to reconnect with the company that helped make him famous worldwide for decades.

In WWE-Exclusive documentary, it’s revealed WWE’s change in focus wooed Bruno Sammartino

The Greatest Royal Rumble lives up to the Hype!

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…Man oh man.

I wish it were possible to get a 12-month suscription to WWE Network!

To say it was a historic event for Saudi Arabia goes without saying. It is the largest international event in WWE history and the first WWE Network-exclusive PPV the Middle East. The event opened with the national anthems of Saudi Arabia and the United States being played as the camera showed the packed King Abdullah Sports Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. For those who don’t know, soccer matches are usually held here so…yeah.

Here are the match results in the order they happened:

  • John Cena def. Triple H: The future first-balot Hall of Famers apparently requested to open the show. The historic implications were not lost on either of them as they maintained a slow pace, exchanging tie-ups until Cena got the 3-count to end it. After the match, John Cena thanked the house crowd and while he obviously didn’t go into detail, he referenced his recent breakup with fellow WWE Superstar Nikki Bella.
  • Cedric Alexander def. Kalisto to retain the Cruiserweight Championship: It was the first Cruiserweight match on a WWE PPV Event since Wrestlemania so…yeah. It was a good one though due to some Wi-Fi problems on my end I missed about half of it.
  • Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt def. The Bar to become the New RAW Tag Team Champions: Let’s be honest, there’s no way The Bar was gonna win the titles now that they’re on Smackdown Live as of last week. They put on a good match for the house crowd obviously though. Caesaro comically ran up the ramp with Sheamus on his shoulders after the match.
  • Jeff Hardy def. Jinder Mahal to retain the U.S. Championship: Again, another cross-brand match with an obvious outcome. This time it was the other way.
  • The event took an interlude here. Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Booker T and Byron Saxton recapped the historical implications of The Greatest Royal Rumble for Saudi Arabia. Backstage, Chris Jericho cut a promo with The List of Jericho as well.
  • The Bludgeon Brothers def. The Usos to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship: No surprise here they curb-stomped the Usos in similar fashion to what they did at Wrestlemania 3 weeks earlier. Now the real important question to be asked is who can challenge Harper and Rowan?
  • Seth Rollins def. Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and The Miz to retain the Intercontinental Championship: Obviously given Jeff Hardy retained to keep the U.S. Title on Smackdown, the Intercontinental
  • After the match, four Saudi WWE Prospects trained by Albert Hall last week were showcased in the middle of the ring. After two of them spoke, the Davari Brothers of 205 Live–who are from Iran–came down to the ring in hostile territory to cause trouble but they were quickly dispatched by the four WWE Prospects. It was revealed they will be returning to the U.S. with WWE to work out at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando. For those who don’t know the context,  Iran and Saudi Arabia are not on good terms. They don’t like each other in short. Hats off to Vince and The Davari brothers for using that to put Over the four WWE Prospects. Now the whole world will be talking about them by sunrise in Saudi Arabia!
  • AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura ends in No Contest: After the low blow the referee missed, AJ Styles went off and DESTROYED Nakamura at ringside, ending the match in a Double Countout.
  • The Undertaker def. Rusev in Casket Match: Easily the most anticipated match outside the Greatest Royal Rumble Match itself involving Male superstars at the Greatest Royal Rumble. The silent rush went the GONG sounded speaks to how much The Undertaker is revered worldwide. The match ended with both Rusev and Aiden English in the casket.
  • Brock Lesnar def. Roman Reigns in Cage Match for Universal Championship: A look at the finish and it’s obvious the plan was for it to end in controversy like the AJ Styles vs. Nakamura did. It was a Photo Finish with Lesnar retaining the title.
  • After the match, promos for the card at Backlash on May 6 ran. It was announced that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura will clash for the third time at Backlash for the WWE Championship.
  • Braun Strowman wins The Greatest Royal Rumble Match

Here is the order of Superstars in the Greatest Royal Rumble with who eliminated them :

  1. Daniel Bryan (Eliminated by Big Cass)
  2. Dolph Ziggler (Eliminated by Kurt Angle)
  3. Sin Cara (Eliminated by Daniel Bryan)
  4. Curtis Axel (Eliminated by Mark Henry)
  5. 2018 Hall of Famer Mark Henry (Eliminated by Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan)
  6. Mike Kannelis (Eliminated by Mike Kannelis in RECORD time!)
  7. Hiroki Sumi (Eliminated by Mark Henry)
  8. Viktor (Eliminated by Daniel Bryan, possibly Injured)
  9. Kofi Kingston (Eliminated by Elias)
  10. 205 Live’s Tony Nese (Eliminated by Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston)
  11. Dash (Eliminated by Kofi Kingston and Hornswoggle)
  12. Hornswoggle (Elminated by Tony Nese and Dolph Ziffler)
  13. Primo (Eliminated by Kurt Angle)
  14. Xavier Woods (Eliminated by Elias)
  15. Bo Dallas (Eliminated by Kurt Angle)
  16. RAW General Manager Kurt Angle (Eliminated by Elias)
  17. Scott Dawson (Dropped Out, possibly Injured)
  18. Goldust (Eliminated by Luke Gallows)
  19. Konnor (Eliminated by Elias)
  20. Elias (Eliminated by Bobby Lashley)
  21. Luke Gallows (Eliminated by Rey Mysterio)
  22. Rhyno (Eliminated by Roderick Strong)
  23. 205 Live’s Drew Gulak (Eliminated by Tucker Knight)
  24. NXT’s Tucker Knight (Eliminated by Big E)
  25. Bobby Roode (Eliminated by Baron Corbin)
  26. Fandango (Eliminated by Mojo Rowley)
  27. Chad Gable (Eliminated by Apollo Crews, possibly injuried)
  28. Rey Mysterio (Eliminated by Randy Orton)
  29. Mojo Rowley (Eliminated by Randy Orton)
  30. Tyler Breeze (Eliminated by Mojo Rowley)
  31. Big E (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  32. Karl Anderson (Eliminated by Randy Oron)
  33. Apollo Crews (Eliminated by Randy Orton)
  34. 205 Live’s Rorderick Strong (Eliminated by Baron Corbin)
  35. Randy Orton (Eliminated by Baron Corbin)
  36. Heath Slater (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  37. NXT’s Babatunde (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  38. Baron Corbin (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  39. Titus O’Neil (Eliminted by Braun Strowman)
  40. NXT’s Dan Matha (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  41. Braun Strowman (Winner)
  42. Ty Dillinger (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  43. Curt Hawkins (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  44. Bobby Lashley (Elimiminated by Braun  Strowman)
  45. The Great Khali (Eliminated by Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley)
  46. Kevin Owens (Eliminated by Big Cass)
  47. Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon (Eliminated by Braun Strowman, possibly injured)
  48. Shelton Benjamin (Eliminated by Shelton Benjamin)
  49. Big Cass (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)
  50. Chris Jericho (Eliminated by Braun Strowman)

Of note:

  • WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and  Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presented Braun Strowman (#41), who won the Greatest Royal Rumble Match with a custom Championship belt. It’s not yet known if the trophy will remain in Saudi Arabia or return with Braun Strowman and WWE to the U.S. We may find out as soon as Monday.
  • Braun Strowman had 13 Eliminations on his way to winning the event. That’s almost three times as many as the second-most which was done by Elias at 5.
  • Daniel Bryan (#1) Lasted over 1 Hour and 5 minutes, setting a new Royal Rumble record for longest time in a Royal Rumble match. Props to WWE for giving him that even though he didn’t win the match.
  • Hiroki Sumi (#7) was the first non-WWE guest entrant of the night. He is an accomplished Sumo wrestler.
  • Hornswoggle (#12) made an appearance and even helped eliminate Dash of The Revival. His appearance could have certain implications given he is a friend of forme
  • Elias (#20) cut a promo as he made his way down to the ring.
  • Rey Mysterio (#28) as expected made his second WWE appearance and once again during a Royal Rumble this year. He was also in the 2018 Royal Rumble in January).
  • Poor Titus O’Neil (#39). His botch earned him the doubious title of worst ring entrance of all time. LOL.
  • The Great Khali (#45) made his first WWE appearance since helping Jinder Mahal retain the WWE Championship in a Punjabi Prison Match last year but this time as an entrant.

To say it was an outstanding main event match goes without saying and it was an awesome way to close the show.

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…Rumors of Shawn Michaels lacing up his boots one more time is nothing new. In an interview in Saudi Arabia, Shawn Michaels candidly revealed he’d been offered “A ton of money by WWE” to be in the Greatest Royal Rumble Match but declined. Current talent have literally begged him for a match but he has declined all comers.

Why?

Because he is a man of his word. HBK explains it in a Table of 3 episode he did last year with AJ Styles and Ric Flair. He points out others have officially retired but they would come back for another run or one-off matches. With him, once he retired that was it. Mind you, he’s made it clear if he wanted he could definitely compete again but his is an honorable man and will not.

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All that said, I would be remiss not to mention the noticably big omission from the event’s card: Women’s Matches. WWE was criticized in the U.S. over the omission in advance but the reality is they could not do it. This is also why all of the commentators and the announcers were all male. Women could not be have a prominent presence in any part of the show.

I do think it was a smart not to have camera shots or mention of the female superstars and cast outside the promo for Backlash (which will be held in the U.S.) at all and I’m sure that was a tough decision. Triple H, John Cena and Vince McMahon reportedly worked with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who wanted to make it happen like had been done in Abu Dhabi down to the last minute but they were unable to do it this year.

Progress takes time like it or not. I do think we will see women on the card in the next year or two however. WWE will be working behind the scenes with the Saudi government to make it happen.

For those who don’t know, last year Fall Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks competed at a Live Event in Abu Dhabi. The match was booked in advance and was a complete surprise to the superstars involved until the day before. WWE took care of everything including having custom body suits made for both of them to compete in Abu Dhabi. This was out of respect for the customs of the host country forbidding women to show too much skin in public but at least the match was cleared to happen. This is likely the same route that will be persued for the Female Superstars to compete in Saudi Arabia. Time will tell.

All that said, it is still important that the Greatest Royal Rumble happened at all and here’s hoping it can happen next year. Kudos to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for giving WWE permission to carry it worldwide on WWE Network. As a reminder: The Greatest Royal Rumble was canon to existing storylines even though no titles changed hands.

The Greatest Royal Rumble lives up to the Hype!

Superstar Shakeup Reveals

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Now that the dust has settled, let’s talk about who changed rosters.

Here are the Superstars who debuted on RAW from Smackdown or NXT:

  • Jinder Mahal
  • Suni Singh
  • Samil Singh
  • Liv Morgan
  • Sarah Logan
  • Ruby Riott*
  • Fandango
  • Tyler Breeze
  • Natalya*
  • Dolph Ziggler*
  • Drew McIntyre* (from NXT)
  • Baron Corbin*
  • Bobby Roode*
  • Viktor
  • Konnor
  • Zack Ryder
  • Mojo Rowley
  • Chad Gable
  • Mike Kanellis
  • Maria Kanellis (When she returns from Maternity Leave)

* Denotes I predicted this Superstar would be moving in my previous post

Jinder Mahal was revealed as the first Superstar from Smackdown coming to RAW. He dropped the U.S. title his brought with him to Jeff Hardy. The Singh Brothers–one of whom is still recovering from injury–are presumed to be moving to RAW as well. Backstage, Jinder Mahal had a run-in with No Way Jose (from NXT), who debuted last week.

Bayley and Sasha Banks had their match interrupted by The Riott Squad–all of them.

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were introduced by The Miz as part of the RAW roster despite the events of last week. Kurt Angle came out to point this out but was rebuffed by Sami Zayn, who revealed Stephanie McMahon reversed the decision and gave both KO and Zayn a RAW contract. That’s when Kurt Angle decided to drop a surprise of his own when he revealed The Miz would be going to Smackdown. Not Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, mind you but just The Miz (and presumably Maryse when she returns from Maternity Leave).

Backstage, Breezango and Natalya were revealed as coming to RAW. Dolph Ziggler came down the the ring but was interrupted by Titus Worldwide. That’s when Dolph revealed he didn’t come alone: Drew McIntyre (cue “HOLY SHIT!” chant) came out of nowhere and together they destroyed Titus and Apollo.

After the match involving Natalya and Mandy Rose, Baron Corbin was revealed to be coming to RAW offscreen. Bobby Roode was also revealed be the Mystery Superstar Kurt Angle mentioned earlier to be involved in the main even 5 on 5 main event tag match.

The Ascension, Mojo Rowley, Zack Ryder, Chad Gable and Mike Kanellis were revealed to be moving to RAW overnight. It’s presumed Maria Kanelis will join her husband on RAW when she returns from Maternity Leave.

 

Here are the Superstars who debuted on Smackdown from RAW or NXT:

  • Chris Jericho (Presumed)
  • The Miz
  • Maryse (When she returns for Maternity Leave)
  • Jeff Hardy*
  • Sonya Deville
  • Mandy Rose
  • Samoa Joe*
  • Big Cass*
  • Asuka*
  • Luke Gallows*
  • Karl Anderson*
  • Sheamus*
  • Caesao*
  • R-Truth
  • Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega (from NXT)
  • Eric Young (From NXT)
  • Alexander Wolfe (From NXT)
  • Killian Dain (From NXT)

* Denotes I predicted this Superstar would be moving in my previous post

Due to drama over The Undertaker’s Casket Match over the weekend, it was revealed Chris Jericho will likely be on Smackdown Live the next time we see him.

Shelton Benjamin (Still a Heel), whose tag team partner Chad Gable was sent to RAW overnight demanded competition and so Randy Orton came out. Orton walked halfway to the ring before he awkwardly stopped and waited for a few moments for the new U.S. Champion Jeff Hardy’s music to hit. Jeff Hardy, who made his return from injury and took the U.S. Title from Jinder Mahal the night before on RAW was revealed to be the second Superstar coming to Smackdown from RAW. He competed with Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match on the spot.

The remaining members of Absolution–Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose–were revealed to be coming to Smackdown offscreen. After the commercial break, Samoa Joe came down to the ring where he made SinCara tap out but not before putting him to sleep. After the match, he reminded everyone in the arena he’s a Heel by calling out Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. He also promo’d his matches with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at The Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash.

Backstage, Big Cass interrupted an interview Daniel Bryan was having with Renee Young, sizing him up before walking away. He and Shinsuke Nakamura would interrupt the main event match when they separately attacked AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan.

After Charlotte and Becky Lynch got tied up with Carmella, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay (from NXT, debuted last week), Asuka came out to give them some back up. It was revealed going into commercial break that Anderson and Gallows will be coming to Smackdown to join their old friend AJ Styles.

The Bar announced they were coming to Smackdown, which they asked for in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania 34. Backstage, R-Truth was revealed was revealed to now be on Smackdown from RAW after taking some time off. The ominous faction from NXT known as SAnity was revealed to be coming to Smackdown offscreen going into the commercial break as well.

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…There you have it.

It would be fair to say Smackdown won this year by Subtraction. Most of who were sent to RAW wasn’t being used much on Smackdown. Most notably The Miz, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and Andrade Almas are either top tier-level or could be worked toward it.

In the Tag Division, The Bar, Gallows + Anderson and SAnity will work great opposite The Usos, The New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers. Smackdown’s Tag Team division was must-see before and who they picked up made it even better.

In the Women’s Division, clearly things are being set up for the Women’s Tag Team titles to come. The Iconic Duo and Absolution are obviously a team each already so that means pairing at least two more teams.

As for RAW, most of who they dropped was to make room for who they gained since Wrestlemania. As an aside, RAW no longer carries 205 Live matches so that’s more time for the actual RAW roster. It’s now truly a separate brand like NXT is.

RAW’s biggest gains were in the singles midcard obviously. Baron Corbin, Jindar Mahal, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode can all be pushed into the main event so we’ll see. The other additions weren’t as noteworthy because of Ember Moon and The Authors of Pain arriving from NXT last week and Drew McIntyre coming this week.

So, Smackdown won by Subtraction like I said before. They became much stronger as a brand overall. RAW’s biggest gains were all NXT callups + The Riott Squad + Natalya. Time will tell if everyone else will get much use on either brand.

Overall, 60% of my predictions from my previous post changed brands and I am impressed, more so given I expected to get far less right.

Superstar Shakeup Reveals

My final Roster Shakeup 2018 Predictions

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…As of this writing, no roster changes have been leaked. I’ll give WWE credit for making sure no one knows in advance including the superstars themselves.

Last year, we knew the Intercontinental Championship and the US Championship were changing brands a few days in advance. Dean Ambrose, who was the IC CHampion at the time went to RAW while Kevin Owens, who was the US Champion at the time went to Smackdown. Ambrose dropped the IC title to The Miz (who also came from Smackdown at the same time) but the real reason he was brought to RAW was to set up the reunion of The Shield.

Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss, who’d both just lost the RAW and Smackdown Women’s Championships respectively at Wrestlemania 33 were traded with each other. They would go on to become the first Superstars to hold the top title on both brands (first Alexa, then Charlotte).

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The Superstar who benefited the most from last year’s Roster Shakeup was easily Jinder Mahal, who went from RAW to Smackdown. He would become the WWE Champion at Backlash and had a long run before AJ Styles finally took the title from him. The Modern Day Maharaja just became the U.S. Champion at Wrestlemania 34 to boot.

Given Drew McIntyre is expected to (re)debut on the main roster soon and Heath Slater is on RAW, we may see the reunion of 3MB. Mahal and McIntyre are both Heels so for 3MB to reunite, all three would have to be on the same show which would mean Slater and Rhyno would have to split up as a tag team.

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I have a feeling Vince will be directly involved with the Shakeup this year for a few reasons, one of which is obviously Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The pair were permanently fired from Smackdown Live and are now trying to get on RAW. Steph is clearly going to be out of the picture after having her arm broken by Ronda Rousey twice in 24 hours. My theory is this mystery person we keep seeing Kurt Angle on the phone with is actually Vince, who is telling him how to handle certain situations that come up.

…All that said and without further ado, here are my picks.

First, Smackdown to RAW:

  • AJ Styles (Current WWE Champion) or Daniel Bryan
  • Bobby Roode or Baron Corbin
  • Dolph Zigger
  • Jimmy Uso
  • Naomi
  • Natalya
  • Kofi Kingston
  • Xavier Woods
  • Ruby Riott
  • Nikki Bella

I do think we will see both former Smackdown Tag Team Champions broken up.  Big E will be retained on Smackdown Live to either have a solo run (which he hasn’t had much of since coming from NXT) or team up with Jey Uso to feud with The Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Titles. WWE tends to keep married superstars together so Naomi and Jimmy Uso would both go to RAW.

AJ Styles recently stated again that he wants to stay on Smackdown ahead of the Roster Shakeup but I do see him being moved this time. If not him then Daniel Bryan. One but not both because they are the two top Faces who is not named Randy Orton. Same with Bobby Roode and Baron Corbin. I see one but not both being sent to RAW though I’m leaning toward Corbin being the one who gets moved. Dolph Ziggler being moved at this point seems just right unless he’s being given a run at the WWE Championship.

Ruby Riott being moved now makes sense given Billie Kay and Peyton Royce just made their main roster debut from NXT. It makes sense for her to be moved to have RAW for a solo run while the other two members of her stable form a tag team. Nikki Bella and Natalya would round out the Smackdown Exports to RAW as well for a total of 10 Superstars (6 Male, 4 Female).

Nikki come back for her sister Brie’s redebut and they would be a tag team. Brie took time off to have her baby and was never drafted to RAW or Smackdown so…yeah. They would also serve as anchors for the new talent coming in from both NXT and Smackdown.

Now, RAW to Smackdown:

  • Asuka or Ember Moon
  • Sasha Banks
  • Alexa Bliss
  • Bayley
  • Samoa Joe
  • Finn Balor
  • Jeff Hardy
  • Luke Gallows
  • Karl Anderson
  • Heath Slater
  • Sheamus or Caesaro
  • Big Cass

I would be very surprised if Ember Moon and Asuka were kept on the same roster. I also think now would be the time for WWE to reunite The Four Horsewomen on Smackdown (Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley). Alexa being moved back to Smackdown makes sense for who will be going to RAW + Ronda Rousey.

I do think WWE will give The Shield Reunion another shot when Dean Ambrose returns from injury so that means Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins wouldn’t be moved. That said, it makes sense for The Bullet Club to be moved to Smackdown where they could link up with AJ Styles and have a 4-man stable. Gallows and Anderson could also feud with Benjamin + Gable or The Bludgeon Brothers, both of whom are Heels.

Jeff Hardy being moved now would make sense only if he’s being set up for a title run. I also see Sheamus and Caesaro being split up to compete as singles competators. Whoever goes to Smackdown could be set up to contend for the WWE Title while the other could contend for the Intercontinental Championship. Samoa Joe could compete for either title and at this point he could use a title run after having his pushes stalled due to injuries,

Big Cass could be paired with Mojo Rowley to form a new tag team. Heath Slater being moved would be to set up the reunion of 3MB on Smackdown. Jinder Mahal is already there while Drew McIntyre is expected to make his main roster (re)debut from NXT soon so the band will be getting back together! So it will be 12 Superstars total (8 Male, 4 Female) who will be going from RAW to Smackdown.

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…Anywho, these are my picks. Like last year, I will recap the Roster Swaps as they’re revealed. I will cover both in one post which I will make later thiis week. The Smackdown to RAW swaps will be revealed tonight but remember: Weather or not someone appears on a show has no bearing on weather or not they will change shows.

My final Roster Shakeup 2018 Predictions

John Cena and Nikki Bella Break Up, Call off Engagement

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It was just a year ago at Wrestlemania 33 that John Cena proposed to his girlfriend of 5 years, Nikki Bella. The proposal came two years after Nikki’s sister Brie got married and a year after the birth of her niece.

As heartbreaking as it may be for fans of one or both Superstars who wanted to seem then together, this was the most likely outcome. In the end, The Miz was proven right even though it was part of the buildup to Wrestlemania 33 ironcically: John Cena only cares about John Cena at the end of the day.

To those who don’t know, when Cena and Nikki started dating he flatly told her he doesn’t want to get married again and doesn’t want kids. Nikki wanted to get married and have kids, more so after her sister did both. One thing John Cena happens to be weather you like him or hate him is consistent. He doesn’t go back on his word so…yeah.

Those expressing surprise John Cena would propose to Nikki and let alone publicly do it at Wrestlemania 33 will have their theories on why he did it. I’m fairly sure Cena was actually planning to go through with the marriage but after taking the time to think about it, he wanted to do right by her. Sure, he could get married but she wanted kids and he wasn’t willing to move on that. So, he did the right thing and broke things off now. I think there would have been serious blowback if they separated after they got married personally.

While I would be the first to agree their relationship status is no one’s business, at the same time their status as public figures makes it hard for them to keep things that should be private from being found out. This may delay Nikki’s return to wrestling full time  so we’ll have to wait and see.

John Cena and Nikki Bella Break Up, Call off Engagement

The WWE Universe voted this match as the Greatest Wrestlemania Match of All Time

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The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ first Wrestlemania match at Wrestlemania 25.

Here it is in full:

…This is one of the few times I agree with the WWE Universe.

It was, to put it mildly an outstanding match between HBK and The Phenom. It was the main event on the card and also the first time ever a non-title match was the main event match at Wrestlemania.

Shawn Michaels would reveal some real interesting tidbits in commentary regarding the match on WWE Network:

  • WM25 marked their first match together at The Show of Shows. They’d faced each other at other PPVs but never before at Wrestlemania.
  • Originally, Shawn planned to quietly retire after Wrestlemania 25. Instead, he went out with a bang the following year at Wrestlemania 26 in his rematch with The Undertaker. That would also be the first time ‘Taker would face the same opponent two years in a row. The Undertaker would go on to face Triple H back to back at WM27 and WM28.
  • ‘Taker’s dive over the top rope was planned but botched by the cameraman (Shades of their Hell in a Cell match in 1998), who was supposed to break the Deadman’s fall but clearly doesn’t and ‘Taker ends up landing on his head. You can actually see him try to brace before impact but that’s kinda impossible from that angle. The match probably would’ve ended right there if ‘Taker wasn’t moving.

…Of course, it is a fact Shawn Michaels is still physically able to wrestle. Despite everyone and their mother personally asking him to commit to a one-off match with them, he’s turned down all offers. He explains in detail for the fans why during the Table for 3 he does with AJ Syles.

While he’s certainly not the first able-bodied superstar to call it a career, he is one of the rare few to actually keep his word and never work a match ever again. HBK was the guest referee in a few matches but nothing beyond that. He’s been pretty candid about being physically able to carry a match 8 years after his retirement. Hell, AJ Styles tried to get him to commit to a match during the segment and was flatly declined. So, yeah.

Obviously, HBK has come to the same conclusion as The Undertaker in fading into the sunset and letting the newer talent have the spotlight. ‘Taker proved a few years ago he can work more than one match a year so…yeah.

Taker vs. HBK at WM25 is more than worthy of being called the greatest Wrestlemania match ever for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being the superstars involved and knowing it would be an EPIC match, which it was.

The WWE Universe voted this match as the Greatest Wrestlemania Match of All Time