Kayfabe Thoughts: Summer Slam Predictions Edition – 08/19/18

Last night’s NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 event may not have been as solid top to bottom as this year’s prior NXT events, but once again the “developmental brand” set a high bar to challenge for tonight’s 30th Anniversary Summer Slam.  2 of the 4 NXT title matches changed hands last night, and as Summer Slam can serve as an opportunity for WWE to make short term tweaks to the title scene or even test out possible storylines ahead of the Road to Wrestlemania, I expect some big moments in this evening’s show.

Predicted winners in bold and defending champions noted with (c).

Pre-Show

 Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega vs Rusev & Lana – I can’t see Almas and Vega taking the loss here simply because they both have so much damn upside. It’s hard to believe at this point that Rusev was in a title match just last month, but here he is on the pre-show. I guess that’s better than being at catering with Naomi and Asuka.

Cedric Alexander (c) vs Drew Gulak (WWE Cruiserweight Championship) – It seems like 205 Live, while still solid and very much worth watching, has again lost some of its steam. Alexander is spectacular, but smiling babyface champs can be boring and at least a heel champion like Gulak can have a JBL/Cena “you’re too young to beat me” type feud with Lio Rush. Truthfully, my feelings on the whole 205 Live scene can be summed up in 3 words: I miss Neville.

The B Team (c) vs The Revival (Raw Tag Team Championship) – Listen, I love The Revival. Their matches in NXT with DIY and American Alpha were incredible examples of how great tag team wrestling can be when it’s executed by guys committed to performing as a team. But they’re short. Like noticeably shorter than all of their opponents. While that may have been ok for Arn and Tully in Crockett, that’s not what Vince likes. The B Team aren’t big guys either, but what they are is a comedy act and we know that Vinny Mac loves the ha-ha’s as much as he loves chocolate ti…well, you know. The B Team won’t be champs for much longer, but they won’t lose here.

Main Show

 Finn Bàlor vs Constable Baron Corbin – This story has gone on too long and has gone nowhere in the process. It’s clear that Vince and creative feel like Bàlor is missing something now, despite feeling decidedly the opposite way about him 2 years ago when he was made the first Universal Champion. Likewise, Corbin has muddled around the midcard since failing on his MitB cash in a year ago. Thankfully, Corbin saw the writing on the wall (not to mention the hair in the sink sadly) and ditched what was quickly becoming a “skullet” for a much better look. Too bad it came with a Corporate Kane starter kit. Oh yeah: there’s a match here. Bàlor wins, but it wouldn’t shock me if the WWE Creative Match Generator 2000 continues to glitch and we inexplicably get another turn on the booking merry-go-round.

Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs The New Day (SD Live Tag Team Championship) – There have been some very positive things to come out of the former Wyatt Family’s repackaging as the Bludgeon Brothers. For starters, I like the Bludgeon’s outfits just fine. I’m also glad Luke Harper got to change his clothes and they gave him a clip to hide his thinning hair. I’m happy that Erick Rowan no longer has to dress in a janitor’s jumpsuit for work. However, the hammers are bad cosplay though and every time Corey Graves has to try and sell us on the idea that the hammers are actually heavy, I hear him die a little inside. For Corey’s sake: ditch the hammers. For our sake: put the titles back on The New Day.

Braun Strowman (MitB) vs Kevin Owens (Strowman’s Money in the Bank contract) – Kevin Owens has no momentum going into this match. He’s spent the better part of the summer running from the Monster Among Men, playing the chickenshit heel perfectly and getting beat down by Big Braun at every turn. For these reasons I was thisclose to picking Owens. Only in the strange world of WWE booking would this make sense, but I’m still not convinced that Owens won’t win the MitB away from Strowman. WWE has had several opportunities to give Braun a run with the title, but hasn’t yet pulled the trigger. With Lesnar’s time as the WWE’s unbeatable monster coming to a close, this seems like a “if not now?” moment, and a Braun cash-in seems to be the easiest way to test those waters, but more on all that later…

Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs Jeff Hardy (United States Championship) –Sadly, reading this will probably take longer than their last title match and there hasn’t been much physicality between the two in the aftermath. Since then, creative has done little to set up an actual Nakamura/Hardy rivalry, instead focusing on pushing things toward Hardy/Orton. Maybe Orton interferes and costs Nakamura the title, adding a championship aspect to the Hardy/Orton angle, but I think in light of recent allegations, Orton should refrain from giving a hand to anyone. Nakamura retains because there’s no good reason to put the title on Jeff Hardy here and Nakamura as a heel is gold.

Dolph Ziggler (c) vs Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship) – Rollins brought Ambrose back on Monday Night Raw to even the odds against Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Ziggler has been really good with McIntyre as his running mate, but they need to have a run with the tag titles to really solidify the latter-day Shawn and Diesel vibe and that can’t begin until Dolph loses the IC title. Besides, the newly jacked Dean Ambrose can’t complete his Super Saiyan transformation until he helps Rollins become champion, only to immediately turn on him by beating the crap out of his old Shield mate.

The Miz vs Daniel Bryan – Honestly, I don’t know what to make of this. On one hand, it appears that WWE is actually going to pay off a storyline that has been building for nearly a decade, something they rarely do. On the other, it’s been rushed in such a way that makes me wonder if Daniel Bryan is really not actually on his way to being All Out. Still, I can’t imagine that WWE would set up Bryan’s exit by giving fans the match they’ve been clamoring for. I always thought Miz and Bryan deserved a bigger stage (WRESTLEMANIA!) with some real stakes (WWE CHAMPIONSHIP!) and perhaps this is the beginning of the road and not the end. We can’t get there with Bryan winning this one, so I’m picking the Miz and hoping for the best.

Carmella (c) vs Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch (SD Live Women’s Championship) – I’ll go on record as saying that no one in WWE, man or woman, “gets” who exactly their character is more than Carmella. She knows that character needs to be loud, obnoxious, and generally unbearable to be successful and she absolutely NAILS it. She is the company’s most hatable heel; she’s the female Miz. It seemed like the Women’s division ultimate white-meat babyface, Becky Lynch, was going to get her chance to shine by beating her for the championship, but then WWE made a very WWE decision and added the returning Charlotte to the match. Now I can’t help but feel like it’s a near lock that Charlotte walks out champion and that makes me sad because Becky isn’t a heel (they tried that in NXT and it just didn’t work IMO) and that’s how I see this going. Becky needs the title for a stretch, not to end up in catering learning Japanese puns from Asuka.

Alexa Bliss (c) vs Ronda Rousey (Raw Women’s Championship) – Ronda was ringside at NXT for fellow Horsewomen and NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler’s somewhat surprising loss to Kairi Sane, which appears to free up Baszler to support Rousey. WWE also confirmed a match featuring Alexa Bliss and Trish Stratus for the inaugural Evolution PPV in October. Though it wouldn’t shock me if WWE found another way to keep the title on Bliss to pay it off with Rousey at Hell in a Cell in September, the amount of buzz a Rousey win would make in the mainstream media is too hard to ignore and they won’t.

AJ Styles (c) vs Samoa Joe (WWE World Heavyweight Championship) – I can’t help but assume this is the match that WWE wishes they would have gotten to book 10 years ago, when both had a bit more tread on their tires. That’s not to say both aren’t still great, because both men remain among the top 8 talents on the roster, but the end of the road is closer for both than the beginning and Joe has had some injuries that may have delayed his ascent in WWE. For me, this is another of those “if not now, when?” moments in regard to Samoa Joe’s championship opportunities in WWE. AJ Styles has proven to be an effective babyface champ and re-lighting the fire by having him chase an old nemesis in order to regain his lost championship would be a great way to stoke the AJ Styles fire further over the course of the fall season. It’s Joe’s time and I think he becomes king of SD Live’s mountain.

Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship) – I can’t see Vince paying Brock Lesnar to take the Universal Championship to UFC, so this has to be Reigns. And then it immediately has to be Strowman with the cash-in. I’m not going to bash Roman beyond I think his gear is lame and his character is stale to me, and I don’t even think either of those things are Roman’s choice. I also am unsure if Strowman is necessarily fully-baked enough as a character to carry the company. What I am sure of is that adding a desperate edge to Roman by having him finally achieve victory over one monster only to lose to another is perhaps the best (and maybe only) way forward as a babyface (or at least non-heel) for Reigns in order to get Roman to become the universally cheered superstar WWE wants him to be. Reigns history with Strowman is far from decided (Roman did try to murder Braun afterall) and there is plenty of good meat on the bone to chew for both. Both men continuing to build their legacies together benefits the company and the performers best (see also: Bret/Shawn and Austin/Rock) and would be a great story to tell this fall/winter on the Road to Wrestlemania, so I’ll pick Reigns over Lesnar, but the show closes with a post cash-in Braun holding the Universal Championship high above a fallen Roman.

Wanna give me a high five for being right or tell me how wrong I was? You can contact me with any comments either by posting in the comment area below, @-ing me on Twitter (@factfreemedia) or by emailing me at factfreemedia@gmail.com You can also find me at my website: http://www.factfreemedia.com where I host my wrestling history podcast “Kayfabe Forever”, which drops each Friday-ish. The podcast is also available for download by searching “Kayfabe Forever” on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, iHeart Radio, or Tune In Radio and by following the show page on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Pat Baer of UCB Theatre NY and League of Heels – 08/17/18

Join me for a trip deep into the heart of the Baer Caev, as this week I am joined by Pat Baer from Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre NY and League of Heels. We talk WCW, WWE, comedy wrestlers, League of Heels (duh!), Chikara pro wrestling and more! Also: can you recognize the intro/outro music?

THE LINKS!

Follow Pat on Twitter here!

Subscribe to Pat’s YouTube where you can find Pat’s Twitch panels, League of Heels stuff, Pat playing video games, and some really great builds!

Wanna give Pat some money so that he can continue to build things and deliver great content? Click here for Pat’s Patreon page.

Here is Pat’s profile page at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre NY with some links to UCB videos featuring Pat and other talented UCB players.

League of Heels: West Coast Wishes is at PAX West on 9/1 from 830-10pm. You can watch it on Twitch live and catch up on past Pax shenanigans over at their website.

Follow League of Heels here!

Here is the League of Heels store over at Pro Wrestling Tees if you want some of that sweet LoH merch!

Lots of talk about Chikara pro wrestling in this episode. Here is a link to the promotion’s website and the roster can be found there as well.

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Jan Ochoa from Giantbomb.com – 07/20/18

I’m back from a long break and this week I’m joined by Giantbomb.com Video Producer Jan Jerome Ochoa. Listen as Jan talks about becoming a fan during the “Attitude Era”, how Triple H made him irrationally hate sledgehammers, and what it was like when NJPW invaded the legendary Cow Palace earlier this month. There is so much good content in this episode, why are you still reading this?

THE LINKS!

Follow Jan on Twitter by clicking this! Come for the hot wrestling and video game takes, stay for the random pics of Jan contorting himself!

Here is Jan on Instagram. You know, he might just have an eye for creating visually appealing things…

You can help keep Jan and a bunch of other incredibly talented folks employed by visiting Giantbomb.com and subscribing! They have a TON of content and if you like video games and other ridiculous things, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t.

Here is a link to the Brian Pillman biography written by Liam O’Rourke that I mentioned on the show. Buy it or download it for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member.

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Aaron Trites from League of Heels – 06/22/18

What happens when you combine the worlds of video game media and video game wrestling? My guest this week is Aaron Trites from League of Heels and he dared to ask this question 5 years ago and has lived to tell the tale. Find out how young Aaron fell in love with wrestling through a book, how college-era Aaron got interested in Kaiju Big Battel, and how Xavier Woods and Kenny Omega got involved with League of Heels. Plus, find out one unique change he would make to the current WWE. There’s a lot here, so get listening!

THE LINKS!

You can follow Aaron Trites on Twitter here. He’s got some cool stuff cooking that he can’t talk about quite yet, but you might be interested. Plus, he changed my life with his s’mores recipe…

You can keep up with League of Heels nonsense on Twitter here…

And if you want to see League of Heels roster and learn the history, visit the website by clicking here.

Kenny Omega did the intro for last year’s Pax Rumble V event. Here is a link to the LoH Youtube page so you can watch all the ridiculousness unfold. Also: subscribe!

As Aaron mentions on the show, League of Heels has a storefront over at ProWrestlingTees.com. Go buy some merch!

Kaiju Big Battel is TOTALLY RAD. Follow them on the tweeties!

 

 

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 14 06/15/18: Owen Hart Remembered

In this episode, I celebrate the career of the late Owen Hart. Join me as I look at the many highs of the man I refer to as “probably your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler” and talk about the legacy left by his untimely accidental death.

THE LINKS!

I posted a thread on Reddit asking for the best Owen matches and a bunch of Redditors came through with suggestions. Check them out for yourself!

Martha Hart wrote a book on Owen’s life and career. You can buy it here.

Here is a link to Bret’s book on Amazon as well.

Owen: Hart of Gold is one of the best ways to see Owen’s greatest matches and learn about his life. It’s a bit glossy, since it is a WWE product, but worth watching.

Wanna learn about why Jerry Lawler was pulled from Survivor Series 93? Click here to find the story on prowrestlingstories.com

Here is the star-studded tournament bracket for the tournament to determine the 1st ever WWF European Champion

Bruce and Conrad did a great episode on Owen. You can find it on their podcast page over at MLW Radio.

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Kenny Herzog of The Ringer – 06/14/18

Here it is listeners: the first of 2 new episodes this week! Join me as I chat with Kenny Herzog from The Ringer about his “Wrestling Story”. Kenny talks about growing up during the WWF/E’s heyday in the 80’s and 90’s, how he got into wrestling journalism, and if he thinks WWE fears New Japan even a little. Kenny has some interesting opinions and he shares a bunch of them with me! Also, keep an eye out for the nearly-lost Owen Hart episode that drops tomorrow. You won’t want to miss either episode, so hit play NOW!

THE LINKS!

Follow Kenny Herzog on Twitter!

Kenny has a website, and it includes a picture of Jiminy Glick! (it has other info too, but JIMINY GLICK!)

Here is Kenny’s LinkedIn profile. It really is quite comprehensive and is a great place to start if you want to read more of Kenny’s stuff.

“The Acute Angle” Kenny’s series on WWE’s foreign heels is really great. Click here to find everything he has written for The Ringer

Kenny also has written a TON for Rolling Stone. Here is one of my favorite articles. It’s about Cody Rhodes and his decision to become an independent wrestler.

 

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Greg Hyde (aka Stat Guy Greg) from ESPN’s Cheap Heat – 05/21/18

Greg Hyde, aka Stat Guy Greg from ESPN’s Cheap Heat podcast, is my guest for this installment of Kayfabe Forever’s My Wrestling Story series. Greg tells us how he became a fan, what he thinks is the greatest wrestling storyline of all time, and shares his thoughts on the current WWE product. Make sure you listen to the intro, as I reveal the identity of the next guest on “My Wrestling Story”. Also, make sure to tune in this Friday for my special Owen Hart career retrospective episode!

THE LINKS!

Stat Guy Greg on Twitter!

Cheap Heat on ESPN!

Check out our next guest Michel Mulipola’s stuff over at his website!

My article over at nodq.com from last week: John Cena Thinks You’re Stupid

My other article over at nodq.com from last week: Daniel Bryan Should Beat Brock Lesnar NOW!

My article for thechairshot.com from 05/11/18: WWE’s Vince Problem

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Jared Rea – 05/11/18

I’m sure you’ve found yourself wondering exactly how someone else became a wrestling fan. Well, I’ve decided to start asking that very question (along with some others) and I’ll be bringing you those interviews on this Kayfabe Forever series that I’m calling “My Wrestling Story”. My guest this week is the Internet’s own Jared Rea who will join me and tell his wrestling story. Find out how he became a fan, what he would change about the current WWE product, and why he loves Velveteen Dream SO DAMN MUCH! We had such a good time, we had to cut this one short!

Links:

Jared Rea on Twitter

Giantbomb.com, home of the Power Bombcast (it’s premium content, but the duders are worth the membership price if you love videogame ridiculousness).

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 13 04/06/18: WELCOME TO WRESTLEMANIA (WEEKEND)!

Unlike the stupidity surrounding the potential Undertaker and John Cena match, I’m not just teasing, I’m delivering! Join me as I talk myself into picking winners for every single match across this weekend’s most high-profile events: NXT Takeover: New Orleans and Wrestlemania 34. I also get a little cranky when talking about the battle royals and again towards the end when I discuss the whole Undertaker/Cena thing, so apologies in advance! Kayfabe Forever Episode 13: It’s What the World Is Listening To!

 

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 12 03/30/18: Wrestlemania XIV 20th Anniversary Edition

With the height of wrestling season upon us, while others may Punch Out!!!, I’m punching in to bring you this week’s episode celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Wrestlemania XIV. I’ll take you through all the highs (Undertaker/Kane!!!), lows (Marco? Mero!), and groans (Gennifer Flowers) of this truly industry-changing event.

THE LINKS!

Fightful’s Brandon Howard wrote an excellent piece about Wrestlemania’s Business Stats that I found very insightful and it provided me with the financial info I mention about WMXIV early in the show. You should read it!

Here is the video of Undertaker’s WMXIV entrance featuring “O Fortuna”. So very cool.

An incredible promo featuring some great wrestling stars from the WWF’s early days. I forgot to mention Killer Kowalski is featured in this video, too. Watch it and know that  Vinny Mac’s eyes will well up with tears!

I mentioned that I’m writing an opinion column for NODQ.com now. Check them out over here!