WWE pulled out all the stops on Friday for the first episode of Smackdown on Fox with a shocking debut of Cain Velasquez confronting Brock Lesnar. I was dumbfounded at the sight of Cain appearing on stage with Mysterio to close Smackdown last week. I applaud WWE for playing up the history between Brock and Velasquez as that isn't something they normally like doing if it didn't happen within the walls of WWE. Also want to point out that it does seem pretty clear that Cain has signed with WWE, but the details of his contract are unclear. The only thing that is known about Cain is that he will be fighting Brock Lesnar on October 31, at Crown Jewel.
According to reports the match is rumored to be for the WWE Championship which is alarming to me for a variety of reasons. First off Brock Lesnar just defeated Kofi Kingston and yet they aren't giving Kofi a rematch and a chance to undo the random match they had on Smackdown this past week. Letting Kofi have a rematch against Brock at Crown Jewel would've given their match on Fox a bit more weight, because it would've been looked at as "oh that's why the match on Smackdown was short."
Another reason that the company holding the match so soon is alarming to me is, because Cain Velasquez has never competed in a match in WWE and will be fighting for the title in his first match. I know Cain has competed in a few matches in Mexico since retiring from UFC and MMA, but has a very limited history in wrestling only debuting a few months ago. I understand from a business perspective that Cain Velasquez vs Brock Lesnar is a marquee match and one of the few left, but it doesn't make sense to rush into the match. According to Meltzer, the main reason it seems that the match will be taking place at Crown Jewel instead of down the road is due to the fact that Cain's contract could be short term only for this feud/match which would be disappointing, but understandable.
In my opinion, I really don't like the idea of a wrestler using name value to get a World Title shot even though they have limited experience in the ring. I understand that Cain Velasquez may only be here for a short time, but if the price was right I am sure he'd stay with WWE. Overall if we can hold off a marquee match for the future and give it more build then the excitement for the match should rise to. If I had a part in bringing Velasquez in I would have a few wrestlers set up to fight Cain holding off the next confrontation with Brock Lesnar until Survivor Series. In December then Cain would fight for #1 contender honors to challenge Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble giving the Rumble a massive match for the event.
Though I won't be doing a lot of these with it only being a week before everything changes I thought it'd be fun to try and predict at least a few names that could be making the move to Raw or Smackdown in the upcoming draft. Now I know that Brock Lesnar moving to Smackdown Live is something that everyone is expecting if it isn't official already. Also I don't believe that any champions will move between the brands or at least Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston will be staying put on their respective brands. With that being said let's make the predictions:
The first name that I think will make the move to Smackdown Live is Cesaro. Now I know Cesaro recently had moved to Raw, but if memory serves he made the switch with Sheamus before his partner went on the shelf. Things have changed and Cesaro is a singles star and would benefit from getting a fresh star on the brand that always valued wrestling more then sports entertainment. Especially as they look to structure a new identity for the blue brand on Fox.
One name that could move to Raw from Smackdown is Ethan Carter III who I know a lot of you may not have known he was a member of the Raw roster, but he is. I think sliding EC3 to Smackdown would benefit him much like it would benefit Cesaro giving another extremely talented wrestler and opportunity to show his potential on the brand that's attempting to reinvent itself. Right now Carter is also still a fresh face in WWE and would still be looked at as someone new if he was moved to Smackdown this could be what kick starts his career.
The main thing about this draft needs to be that the WWE is returning to exclusive brand with NO interaction between the brands other than for Survivor Series, Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and Summerslam. Yes! WWE will have to recondition fans to only seeing talent on both shows anymore which will be a great benefit for everyone as the talent would be so overexposed and story lines should be easier to follow. Overall returning to exclusive brands would benefit WWE as a whole and would benefit fans as we would get to see talent we don't always see more often with time freed up that was once held by the "Wild Cards." Cross brand interaction should either be rare or non existent not something we see on a weekly basis or the brand split is made pointless. Next week will begin a very interesting time in the WWE!!!
In case you missed it this past Wednesday night NXT officially made the move to network television as they are now on USA Network every Wednesday. For the first couple of weeks as USA makes room in their line-up NXT will only have an hour every week on USA with the second hour being on the WWE Network. The change in time slot will take place in early October following the ending of USA Network original series Suits. Either way though the first episode of NXT on USA happened and it lived up to the expectations. Now with a lot more time to showcase the talent of the future the WWE has the ability to give talent in NXT the opportunity to become known by it's fan base before a talent gets the call to move to Raw or Smackdown.
One thing that everyone has been hoping for since the Smackdown deal with Fox was announced was that Smackdown would move from being a B-Show to an equal of Raw. I don't expect NXT to become equal to Raw or Smackdown right away, but what I hope for is that underutilized talent on the main roster will finally be able to make the move to NXT as a way to freshen them up. Even though NXT will be on national television now it is still going to be a different audience at least early on then the one that watches the other two brands.
Overall with the infusion of talent from 205 Live and now possibility of some NXT UK talent joining the party from time to time the WWE is doing everything they can to make sure NXT has depth on their roster. I love the idea of allowing the NXT UK World Champion to appear on the brand, because it gives more exposure to the World Champion which is exactly what they should be trying to do. I don't know a lot about Walter or his stablemates, but what I do know is I'm interested and Kushida is definitely an interesting selection as an early opponent for Walter on NXT. So far WWE is starting high and the stage is set for Smackdown to make the move to Fox on October 4!
Clash of Champions 2019
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
(c) Drew Gulack vs Humberto Carrillo vs Lince Dorado
With now the future set for 205 Live this will be the start of the next chapter for the underrated cruiserweight division. Even though we have recently seen Murphy, Ali, and Cedric Alexander get pushed up from 205 Live to Raw and Smackdown. Drew is extremely underrated and has been the leader of the cruiserweight division for most of this year and will hopefully find a higher level when they finally begin to be featured in prominent way on NXT. As for Carrillo and Dorado there isn't much to say as both men have flown under the radar and even though Dorado has been around since the beginning he has never gotten the opportunity to stand out. Honestly, I don't think that Gulack will drop the title at this point and even though we could see them switch up very soon, but now isn't the time.
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship:
(c) Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs Fire and Desire
Since the debut of the unexpected Women's Tag titles earlier this year the new title has struggled to find it's place in WWE. However, it is good to see they've started to try and not only integrate the title into a bigger picture, but allowing women that aren't ready to be feature on top of the division. Rose & Deville have been a solid team since they arrived on the main roster. I don't think that Alexa & Nikki will lose tonight and they will stay a top the division.
WWE Intercontinental Championship:
(c) Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Sami Zayn vs The Miz
Two months ago Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Finn Balor to capture the title and hasn't really done much with it so far, but now that he has Sami Zayn as a moth piece it's a start. Also feuding with The Miz gives two guys that weren't doing much something to do and at this point Miz is also closing in on Jericho's record for most title reigns with Miz being one behind him. I'd like to see Miz win, but I think they'll save this title change for after Smackdown moves to Fox as this feud isn't ending tonight it'll likely keep going. Nakamura wins with help from Sami to keep the gold for now.
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship:
(c) New Day vs The Revival
This has been a untapped feud for a variety of reasons including a number of injuries to both teams and the brand split stopping them from interacting again. It is impossible to accurately put into words the impact that New Day has had on the WWE and tag team wrestling in general. But I am glad they have, because it has been a wild ride with the New Day in WWE. Now with The Revival getting a real chance to show what they can do and associating with Randy Orton this is WWE's chance to put them in the position that they could've been in from the start and that is to bring some credibility back to tag team wrestling in WWE.
WWE United States Championship:
(c) AJ Styles vs Cedric Alexander
This is a switch from his last reign as champion when he was in a never ending loop with Kevin Owens. I admit I don't normally like when Main Event talent win titles designed for mid-card stars, but when it's clear that a reign will be use to elevate someone new that's when it is okay cause it's for a purpose. So far Styles has done wonders with his matches against Ricochet and now will hopefully help elevate Cedric Alexander to position in the company that he deserves, because he has earned everything. Though Cedric has earned his spot on Monday Night's it isn't the right time for AJ Styles to drop the United States title. At this point we need to have stability to those titles which haven't had a direction in years.
Roman Reigns vs Rowan
In all honesty this was a misstep and I believe that WWE have even admitted that they shouldn't have went with Rowan and should've gone after Daniel or another semi established talent. It's not that Rowan doesn't deserve a shot, it seems a little too familiar to Jinder Mahal's push in 2017. It's not possible that WWE forgot how to correctly push talent slowly and get them over the right way. Had the company wanted Rowan to be a believable opponent for Roman Reigns then they should have pushed Rowan a little harder recently then they have. I think there is no doubt that Reigns takes the win tonight and this might be the end of this one or you can expect it to turn to someone else being the mastermind.
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship:
(c) Braun Strowman & Seth Rollins vs Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode
Honestly I love the idea of Roode & Ziggler being a team, because the WWE always needs fresh tag team and these two guys haven't exactly had the best direction recently so this gives them something. Also it interesting that for once tag team partner will team together in one match for the tag titles and then fight each other for the World Title. At this point, I prefer Strowman and Rollins competing against thrown together teams while they are established as a tandem. Don't get me wrong I know Rollins and Braun will not stay together as a team, but while they are I'd rather them hold off on real teams and letting them feud together when they do. Based on what I think is going to happen in the main event I think Strowman & Rollins will retain the titles as they still need to figure out what they want to do Dolph & Roode.
WWE Smackdown Women's Championship:
(c) Bayley vs Charlotte Flair
Though the roles have been reversed at this point and I for one am still getting use to the idea of Bayley being a heel for the first time. Due to the heel turn being very recent it has provided limited build for this match, but I am sure that similarly to the Intercontinental Championship it will not end tonight and will continue for the future. Bayley will get the win via DQ after Flair will attempt to her revenge on Bayley for her previous attack a few weeks ago.
WWE Raw Women's Championship:
(c) Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks
This has been one of the most anticipated matches in a long time with it being possible that this match has never happening before I don't think. Honestly this is an easy choice, because Banks has just returned and has a ton of momentum on her side right now. To avoid some of the shine fading away from Becky she needs to be humanized to be able to continue her white hot run. Banks gets the win to grab the Women's Championship.
(c) Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton
I think I was the only person that wasn't disappointed by the match they had back at Summerslam even though it ended the way it did. If I was booking this feud I would follow what I chose earlier in the predictions. With that being said Randy Orton will become WWE Champion tonight allowing The Revival and Orton to hold all the gold and setting up a possible six man tag match heading into Hell in a Cell next month or next months event. To be clear Orton will get the win giving him what could be his last title reign.
WWE Universal Championship:
(c) Seth Rollins vs Braun Strowman
I am going to keep this one short, because I don't like the idea of hot shooting the World Title ever. Again the company has painted themselves into a corner with Strowman's booking, because Seth just won the title last month. In my opinion, if Rollins drops the title then it needs to be to Bray Wyatt and nobody else. Whenever that match happens hopefully it would give both Rollins & Wyatt long reigns as champion. Wyatt is by far the top talent in the company right now and should eventually be recognized for his success. Either way though Rollins gets the win and questions will come up what happens next for Braun Strowman.
In the coming weeks a lot of talk will center around how the WWE will change after the upcoming draft in October. Since they signed the deal last year there has been a ton of talk about how high the expectations for WWE and especially for Smackdown with them moving to Fox. At this point everyone is aware of the ratings drop off the WWE has been having since late fall last year, and they have tried a lot of different things to fix and though they may have numbed the problem they need to move Fox to fix the problem. Right now the WWE need to be working on plans to change the identities of Raw and Smackdown following October 2nd when Smckdown is done on USA Network and moves to Fox.
All we know at this point and time is that the broadcast teams will become exclusive to each brand and we might be seeing the return of a two man announce team. In my opinion, this is something that has been extremely missed, because a three man booth on both brands is just too much to handle sometimes. According to reports we could be seeing Michael Cole finally move back to the blue brand after being the voice of Raw since 2008; which will be a welcome sight and extremely fitting knowing the huge step Smackdown will be taking in October. The only other report around at this time is Vic Joseph will be making the massive jump from 205 Live to Monday Night Raw.
Overall this is exactly what Raw needs as Vic will bring a brand new voice and identity to the red brand following the draft in October. I think Corey should move to Smackdown with Michael Cole exclusively keeping a solid team together giving Smackdown a two man booth. As far as Raw is concerned Vic Joseph should be partnered with Tom Phillips and Nigel McGuinness. Nigel should join Vic on Raw to help him ease into a new role with a partner that he had worked with prior and Phillips can be the experienced voice to help keep the pressure off Vic Joseph while he gets a handle on being on Raw rather than 205 Live. I know that keep Raw with a three man team might seem like we are missing the chance to downsize giving Raw three man team would allow Smackdown and Raw to have a different identity and sound.
Note: I didn't forget about Renee Young or Byron Saxton as I believe these two will join the upcoming FS1 recap show that Triple H mentioned a few months back. Clearly, Renee has always been a step above the rest of her workers due to her previous experience and how well she did on Talking Smack and shows along those lines. The reason I chose Byron to be Renee's second is, because I think Byron deserves a chance to show what he can do without Vince McMahon in his ear and if he make it work on different type of show or if he needs the safety that comes on Raw and Smackdown.
Even though some fans might believe that at his height Miz could've and should've been a top challenger for the WWE or Universal Championship. I do agree he should've challenged for the title and would've given Kofi Kingston a more interesting feud for Kofi then he had with Dolph or Kevin Owens. However, I think at this point the WWE isn't willing to get behind The Miz in that way again even though he has become a household name due to Total Divas and Miz & Mrs. It is possible that, because of the filming of the show they do believe in The Miz and know that he is a reliable in ring competitor.
I didn't mind the feud earlier this year between Miz and Shane McMahon, but I feel like Miz hasn't had a direction since the end of the feud. Until now that is a few weeks ago it seemed like a feud has kicked off between Miz and Shinsuke Nakamura. Side note it is alarming that WWE can go weeks or months without having a long term direction for the Intercontinental or United States Champion. In my opinion, someone shouldn't be given the opportunity to become champion if WWE doesn't have a plan for him following the title victory.
At this point, Miz is one victory away from tying Chris Jericho for the most reigns ever as Intercontinental Champion. Every reign Miz has had in recent years has done so much to reset to prestige of the Intercontinental title for them to just losing all the meaning & importance that Miz had established for the title. I am confident that Miz and Nakamura could have go match together, but if they will have chemistry is always the question. As of this writing Nakamura has held the championship for 52 days and I could see them look to crown a new champion next week at Clash of Champions especially with the full draft coming in October.
A few weeks ago Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins defeated The OC (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Team Titles. This continues the puzzling way of how the WWE books the tag team division on Raw the company has never really cared about properly giving a hot feud to the tag team division. From The Revival to The OC to the short lived tag team of Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy the division hasn't had a proper direction for years. It is an unfortunate side effect of how little Vince McMahon believes in the tag team division and that he hasn't in nearly two decades. Even though the talent level is just as high as it was back in the early part of the decade but it seems like they aren't believed in as much as they use to be.
The reason for this title is that I think that when two people that have never teamed together before not only defeat the tag team champions, but win the tag team titles from a well respected team. Now don't get me wrong one loss will not kill a tag team but if it happens often enough it could kill a lot of the credibility that a team has. Since they debuted there has been a lot of ups and downs for Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson recently have regained some credibility that they had lost in the past. However, losing to Strowman & Rollins does show just how undervalued the tag team division is, because when a team has chemistry and can work well together that is made such a big deal in matches with The Revival and The Uso's. But then you see Strowman & Rollins team together once and win with no chemistry.
In my opinion, what is the point of having a division if you are just going to give the tag titles to a non team. I know that this could be win it and lose it right back to The OC. Simply put them having this title change seems like an unnecessary addition to the developing rivalry between Rollins and Strowman. This is lazy booking as there is a division for a reason and this like a slap in the face to the actual teams that the company has. Unless this helps elevate an actual team when they win the titles then I will eat my words, until then I hate this booking style, because it forces WWE to push all the teams in Raw's division to the background which is pointless as you are paying people to sit back instead of just allowing them to do what they are being paid to do.
At this point Randy Orton has been in the ranks of the WWE for the last seventeen years. Unlike some other top stars Randy has had a lot of ups and downs in his career struggling to really keep his stock high in the company at all times. Early it seemed like Randy would be the first person to break through from the 2002 rookie class, but that changed after the flop World Title reign in 2004. Fast forward to modern times when Randy has become the elder statesman it has been a sight really seeing Randy get push to the background in favor of names like Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and others.
However, since the start of his feud with Kofi Kingston it seems like Randy has found his way out of the background and into the foreground once again. Even though their first meeting leaned a bit much on the history these two men have mounted in the last decade and not enough on making the match memorable things have seemingly picked up in recent weeks. Recently a rise in intensity has given the feud some much needed energy. Now with sides even and Randy taking The Revival under his wing similar to the way he took Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase under his wing many years ago things have changed again.
Last week on Raw the trio attacked the New Day and "injured" Xavier Woods and though there is no indication of when we will be seeing Woods again it would help the feud and the new trio if he missed a few weeks. In my opinion, Woods shouldn't be on television this week and instead Kofi & Big E should give us an update on him. Next week he should be selling the injuries, because there is no need to rush through this and the longer Woods is gone the more dangerous it makes Orton and The Revival seem. I love this new combination, because everyone knows how valued Orton is in the company and seeing him with The Revival could mean the team has finally been placed in a spot to succeed like they deserve.
Following Wrestlemania 35 we saw the first title change for the Women's Tag Titles when Billy Kay and Peyton Royce. Though this seems like a simple title change it didn't come without controversy as reports would pop up after Mania that both Sasha and Bailey were extremely angry about the outcome of the match, because they finally hit their breaking points with the terrible booking they had been enduring with the company for the last couple of years. Though Bailey would return to WWE and eventually would become Smackdown Women's Champion it wasn't so easy to bring Sasha back.
With the advent of All Elite Wrestling there were plenty of reports that Sasha would be leaving WWE for the new company due to the bad booking and just generally being fed up with the promotion. Heading to greener pastures in All Elite would've given The Boss a fresh start like she needed, but there was something else she could do. Since her arrival on the main roster Sasha has only been a heel once and that was with Tamina and Naomi collectively known as Team BAD. Take a glance back a few years when Banks was in NXT and she was not only one of the best heels for the brand, but one of the best in the company. Since then though she has never had a chance to be a stand alone heel on the big stage.
Overall Banks has never had the chance to be "The Boss" because she didn't get her nickname from being the nice girl she became "The Boss" by being an intense bitch that did what it took to win. The night after Summerslam we finally got our answer that about what Sasha will do and she came back with blue hair. More importantly though it is official for the first time she is a heel and seemingly jumping right into a feud with Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch. I still believe that Banks is a very special talent and if she is given the ball she will be able to run with it, and I know this because she's proven it before. With Paul taking charge of the Red brand we could be seeing a little bit more of a focus placed on names that haven't been given the spotlight as much as they were before.
Even though at this point it has been almost twenty years since The Rock has been an active full time competitor in the ring. At first The Rock was doing both wrestling and acting; this was the case until his role in The Rundown as he would walk away from a full time schedule in April 2003 following a loss to Goldberg at Backlash. As the years went by we would still occasionally see Rocky pop up from time to time including feuds with John Cena, CM Punk, Evolution and others. Also who could forget the times that we got surprising appearances where he verbally eviscerated his advisories.
By now I think that most fans know the history of Dwayne Johnson in wrestling and the legacy he will now be leaving behind. But I am sure not everyone knows why he has chosen to step away and the simple reason is insurance. With the schedule Rock has been keeping being extremely hectic it has been difficult to bring him in for a match when he's not attached to a movie which means a movie studio would have to insure him to protect their investment. Also according to a Forbes article published on July 19th, 2019, at this time The Rock is the highest paid actor in the world which basically killed any chance of him returning to the ring.
In my opinion, The Rock is one of the greatest ever on the microphone and no slouch in the ring, but the hands of time come for us all especially in wrestling. Sometimes though it's for a good reason, after watching for as long as I have I always prefer seeing wrestlers hang it up on their own accord as opposed to being to forced because of injury. Thanks for the memories Rocky you earned chance to sit back and enjoy the legacy you have built.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present