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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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Eyes On MITB: The 2017 Money In The Bank Ladder Match

By @TrueGodImmortal 

Smackdown is bringing back the MITB PPV this year as an exclusive, and they've announced two matches so far. One, the WWE Champion Jinder Mahal (wow....) will defend against Randy Orton, who will be looking to have his rematch. However, despite that horrible match, what we will see that's sure to be a lot of fun is the 6 Man Money in The Bank Ladder Match, featuring what some of us have christened the new "Smackdown 6". Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura will do battle in a few short weeks for the most important briefcase in WWE, the Money In The Bank briefcase. So, with the match official and the participants announced, who will walk away with the win? Let's take a look at each participant.

*Baron Corbin
-I think there's a huge chance that Corbin will walk away with the victory and the briefcase, as his momentum continues to dwindle with back to back losses to Sami Zayn after losing a feud to Dean Ambrose. With that behind him and knowing WWE booking, Corbin is definitely a favorite to walk away with the briefcase, and if I'm being honest, I could very well see him cashing in the same night or perhaps at Battleground (the next Smackdown PPV) or on a summer episode of Smackdown. If this were to be case however, it would totally ruin the plans that I thought WWE had of Orton vs Styles for the WWE Title in a huge dream match feud, and puts Corbin in the driver seat that I don't think anyone wants him to be in.... yet. Though, in a weird scenario, we could see Corbin cash in, win, then drop the belt to soon to be returning John Cena..... which sounds oddly realistic. No one wants that, which means WWE will likely do it.... of course.

*Sami Zayn
-All of a sudden, Zayn is building momentum up after being reduced to a talented jobber these last few months. The move to Smackdown hasn't paid off yet minus two wins over Corbin, but he's still painted as the underdog. So, as the underdog, he'd have to have a shot to win this briefcase, right? Right? Not at all. There's literally no chance that Zayn walks away with this briefcase and I think he truly has the lowest odds possible of winning the briefcase of all the competitors honestly. If Zayn does win, I suspect he'll end up in that rare club of stars who lost their MITB cash in.

*Dolph Ziggler
-Right below Zayn is Ziggler in terms of who has the smallest chance of winning. Ziggler and Zayn are in the match to fill out the rest of the lineup and make the match more exciting and intriguing. Will Ziggler have a chance to win? Who would he feud with over the title? Nakamura? Orton? Owens? Styles? While those matches aren't bad to watch, Ziggler hasn't been a viable option in a while and is only in the new Smackdown 6 to fill his role as the good worker who can sell for guys. He's the WWE veteran in this "new era" and he will end up selling for all of the guys involved in this, which could end up being a lot of fun to witness, but he has no chance to win and he shouldn't anyways.

*Kevin Owens
-Surprisingly, I think Owens has a great shot at winning this match even as the US Champion and my reasoning is simple: Owens vs Orton in the future for the title. Now, don't get me wrong: I think there's a chance he doesn't win, but I do think if he won, it would easily make him the biggest heel on the brand, and since we know Jinder Mahal is a novelty act sure to fall off in the next few months, what better way to make Owens the man in the WWE by giving him the briefcase as well as the US Title. Truthfully, I think Styles vs Owens will happen again and Styles will take the US Title from him, which will see Owens move up into the WWE Title picture if this was to happen. Owens cashing in to beat Orton or someone else who holds the belt would be amazing to witness and his crowning would put him in the driver's seat again.

*AJ Styles
-In any other match, I'd say Styles would be the smartest choice for winning this match but something tells me he will end up getting a title shot soon anyways. AJ vs Nakamura is the match we need for Wrestlemania and I think the WWE could do one of two things, and that's pull the trigger early at SummerSlam, or let Styles begin another lengthy title run and start the Nakamura push to the main event and an eventual Royal Rumble win. It makes so much sense that I don't see Styles winning this match, but still getting a title shot very soon, likely at SummerSlam. It makes so much sense, but unfortunately with WWE, that means you won't see it happen. I'd love AJ to win, but something tells me he doesn't get the briefcase here.

*Shinsuke Nakamura 
-Nakamura should be your favorite. Though I think he won't win, I do think he should be the favorite. He's the hottest thing in the WWE right now and the biggest star on Smackdown next to AJ Styles. The fact that Nakamura has come in and instantly gotten over is a testament to his greatness, but the reality is, Nakamura is on a path to greatness with the WWE Title sooner than later and a briefcase win would put him square in the driver's seat.

So who wins? My pick? Corbin or Owens. I think the heels of tomorrow need to win, as I can't see Styles or Nakamura winning, but if they did, I'd not be mad at it. I just hope we get Styles vs Nakamura at Wrestlemania 34 for the WWE Title. It might be the biggest matchup possible for the Smackdown brand. However, we have a MITB match to look forward to, and it should be one hell of a contest to witness.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: The Usos

By @AmeenKnows

I honestly was an adamant hater of The Usos when they were faces. They were boring and tiring. Their characters were stale and repetitive. Its like being forced to watch the same John Cena promo week after week. Then something changed. There was a click and the light went off and boom! Instant fire.

Our story starts with a tournament to name new Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. The Usos breezed through the first round, defeating the Ascension. The following week however, they would be defeated by American Alpha in 28 seconds. What would follow was a beat down bestowed upon AA by the enraged Usos and it was glorious, no Bobby Roode. For the first time, Jimmy and Jey had stood up for what they wanted. They didn't just accept defeat and embarrassment. They felt they were wronged and did something about it. They did the generic promo about being done trying to earn the respect of the fans, but it intrigued me because their characters before were all about fan acceptance.

Every speech and every promo, the fans this and fans that. It was sickening. So with American Alpha unable to compete in the finals of the tournament, a new number 1 Contender's match, if you will, was made. The Usos defeated the Hype Bros on the Backlash preshow for the right to face Heath Slater and Rhyno later that night. They would go on to lose that match.

A month later, they would go on to beat American Alpha to become number one contenders yet again for the Tag Team Titles at No Mercy and unfortunately came up short again. They competed in the Raw vs Smackdown Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination Match, being eliminated by Cesaro and Sheamus in the final. They lost two more opportunities to become SD Live Tag Team Champions before once again attacking American Alpha again. After the Elimination Chamber PPV, they attacked AA again which would lead to a match between both teams on March 14th. The Usos won that match and the subsequent rematch a week later to win the SD Live Tag Team Titles. Their reign was threatened by Breezango at Backlash this past Sunday, but they persevered and retained in a really fun. Their reign is currently at 63 days and counting, and will continue to grow.

To match their new attitude, the Usos abandoned the colorful shorts and war paint for a more modern look. One of the things I hated about them as a face was their matches carried the same formula. Hot Tag, Uso Crazy dive to the outside, Superkick and Uso Splash before the 3 count. This almost made the matches pointless to watch because you knew what you were getting. It made me wonder why they would limit their moveset when they have done more in previous matches. Now they work a more technical and aggressive style. Including something as basic as limb targeting has brought a more interesting component to their skillset. Now they're cocky and entitled douchebags and it couldn't work more perfectly for them. Their match with AA a week before Mania was a Mania worthy match. The crowd was hot for both teams and they delivered. It's the best match I've seen from them since their matches with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. I think eventually they will have to return to the Samoan heritage characters because that's the way things work in WWE, but for now I'm just going to sit back and enjoy what's being presented to me and it is great TV.


Monday, May 22, 2017

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Eyes On NXT: Takeover Chicago Review

By @TrueGodImmortal 

There was a big weekend of wrestling that went down in Chicago and I figured it's only fair that I talk about the better show between the two. There isn't much to speak of in terms of Backlash, as it was virtually a pointless PPV that ended beyond horribly, but the NXT show was more than enjoyable. Once again, NXT outperforms the main roster PPV and that's why I'm here today. I'm here for a brief review on the NXT Takeover Chicago show, just to give my thoughts on the match, and a rating for each match. Let's get into it.

*Roderick Strong vs Eric Young

-I liked this match and thought it was a solid opener to kick off the show. Roderick could be a big deal in NXT, with the right promotion and big enough push. The truth about Eric Young to me is that he's a solid good worker, but not able to be a true star in the WWE world. Roderick starts the match by catching Eric Young and SAnitY off guard and that sets the tone for this match.  Roderick and Eric would battle for 13 minutes, as Roderick would have to battle both Young and SAnitY to get a victory. After getting a huge backbreaker on Young, Strong picked up the victory and gets the pinfall. Surprisingly enough, Strong isn't beat down at the end by SAnitY, which was a shock.

Rating: 3 Stars Out Of 5 

*UK Championship Match 
Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate

-The match of the night and possibly the match of the year already. I wasn't even excited about this match because I hadn't paid much attention admittedly to either of these guys, but I was 100% in the wrong here. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate showed and proved that they are two amazing athletes and performers, and with Jim Ross on commentary, it just made the match even bigger and better. The crowd seemed firmly behind Dunne, as chants of "Bruiserweight" broke out from the Chicago crowd who managed to remain extremely locked in during the entire match. After a slightly forgotten tournament to crown the first UK Champion, this match will instantly put the world on notice and have the UK Title on watch by many. The back and forth action between Dunn and Bate during their 15 minute battle was crazy, and with every near fall, you thought the match was coming to a sure end. As Dunne set up for his Bitter End finisher, I expected the match to continue on for another 3 or 4 minutes and when the match ended, I was happy to see Dunne win, but also disappointed because I wanted to see them "fight forever". By the sound of the crowd, they wanted them to fight forever as well. A great classic.

Rating: 5 Stars Out of 5

*NXT Women's Championship Match 
Asuka vs Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross 

-I really hated that Ember Moon missed this match, but the reality is, she might not have made this match much better. While all three women are extremely talented, I feel that Ruby and Nikki lack that special feeling that the other top tier women's wrestlers such as Asuka, Charlotte, Sasha, and others give you. With that being said, they're still growing in the WWE system and can evolve into that. However, with this match, I thought they tried to cram as much in the 10 minute run time as possible and while some of it worked, a bit of it was a tad sloppy. I'd consider this to be the worst match of the night, but it had some decent moments throughout. Asuka falling on both of her opponents and getting the victory was a bit of a weaker ending, but it makes all three look strong without losing momentum, setting up for a possible feud with either Nikki or Ruby until Ember is healthy. Truth be told, it's more than time for Ember to take the title from Asuka, and the Asuka title run is as stale as can be now. She's still great, but we need Asuka on RAW or Smackdown ASAP.

Rating: 2 Stars Out Of 5

*NXT Championship Match 
Bobby Roode vs Hideo Itami 

-The fact remains that Itami is injury prone and in this match, he seemed like he was one wrong move away from living up to that once more. However, while many didn't like the match, I enjoyed it a lot. I thought the pace was slow to begin, but it picked up near the end and really became fun to watch. Itami setting up for the GTS always gets the crowd excited and Roode and his beautiful DDT finisher is also a crowd pleasing move. After 17 minutes of action, Roode turned the GTS into his DDT finisher, then held on and hit it once more to get the clean victory. Surprise surprise: Bobby Roode is the best booked champion in the entire WWE landscape. Roode, the heel in the feud, gets a completely clean victory, looking extremely strong in the process, and Itami doesn't look weak at all in the loss. That's great wrestling booking 101.

Rating: 3.5 Stars Out Of 5

*NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match 
DIY vs Authors of Pain

-When I finally got around to watching this match, I knew the ending. I knew the Authors of Pain retained the titles, I knew Ciampa turned on Gargano at the end, but I couldn't help but be drawn in by this match and what it represented. It represents the end of the DIY era in NXT and the end of my favorite tag team in the WWE. Both Gargano and Ciampa are great wrestlers solo and together, but I wasn't ready for them to break up. The narrative of this match all led to the inevitable and the foreshadowing essentially was everywhere in the match. From the effort that DIY put in to try and get the titles back, to the German Suplex off the ladder through another ladder, DIY gave AOP all they could handle and still came up short. After the great Super Collider from AOP once DIY fell from holding the belts, we saw them retain the titles and then leave the ring, as what seemed like the perfect send off for the DIY team to the main roster would commence. 20 minutes of great action proved that DIY was one of the best tag teams to ever come through NXT and this was a perfect way to end the show.

Rating: 4.5 Stars Out Of 5

After the tag title match, we watched the send off for DIY, but I wasn't aware of what was to come. Well, I was, because I knew the result, but it's almost like I couldn't see it coming. When Ciampa and Gargano embraced at the top of the ramp to cheers from the crowd and the graphic to end the show plays at the bottom, it looks as if the night is over. It's not. Ciampa says to Gargano "this is my moment", and proceeds to destroy him completely. This is what made the night for me. Yes, Dunne vs Bate was match of the night. Yes, DIY vs AOP was a great Ladder Match. Yes, I enjoyed Itami vs Roode. But this night was capped off by the greatest heel turn in quite some time, as Ciampa became the Psycho Killer and destroyed his former friend Gargano, signaling the next blood feud in NXT, and the arrival of both as future singles stars on the brand. From top to bottom, NXT Takeover Chicago was executed beautifully. There are some dry spots and one dry match, but overall, it was a very solid show, and miles ahead of WWE Backlash, a testament to their consistency and greatness. Long Live NXT.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

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EOTR Match Of The Week: Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose- Summerslam 2014

By @Phranchize19

Sometimes feuds can just come together without much help. Sometimes feuds write themselves. The story of the breakup of The Shield is one of them. Today, I wanted to take a look back at the huge match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam 2014, a monumental lumberjack match.

The Shield had finally disbanded with Seth Rollins turning on Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. With Ambrose and Reigns still feuding with The Authority, it was only a matter of time before each "remaining" member of The Shield got their chance at Rollins. Ambrose had the first shot and he wanted it bad. These two were supposed to have a match at Battleground, but WWE wisely saw that this was a money match and decided to push it to Summerslam (one of the smartest moves ever because this feud was red hot) by having Ambrose thrown out of the arena after attacking Rollins. In the weeks leading up to this match, these two would go back and forth.

The Match
The match starts off with a fist fight. Both men would be tossed outside only to be thrown back in by the lumberjacks. The action would then pick up and in a bizarre turn of events, both men ended up outside and into the crowd. The lumberjacks would attempt to bring Seth back into the ring, but Ambrose jumps on everyone in one of the better spots you'll see in a match. When these two get back into the ring, Ambrose takes control and hits the Curb Stomp on Seth. When it looks like Ambrose was going to win, Kane interferes, which brings Goldust in to read him the riot act which then ignites all the lumberjacks to get in the ring and fight. After the lumberjacks are cleared of the ring, Rollins uses the Money In The Bank briefcase to defeat Ambrose.

Phranchize Grade And Analysis 
I think is the most creative of all the lumberjack matches I've seen honestly. The action from start to finish was really solid and I enjoyed every minute of it. These two put on a great one.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: Eastern Conference Finals Preview- Cavs vs Celtics

By @TrueGodImmortal 

It seems as if we are one step closer to the inevitable. The NBA Finals is expected to be the same as it has been the last two years, and there's not much evidence to dispute that. Be that as it may, the Warriors and Cavs being on a crash course for their rubber match does have a few stops in the destination. For the Warriors, it's the slightly depleted Spurs team who have seem to lost a bit of their heart. For the Cavaliers, it's the tough Boston Celtics, who just don't seem like they are ready to go away. Now, most people would assume that the Celtics are a possible cakewalk for the Cavs, and while I don't necessarily disagree, one thing we've learned is to not count this Celtics team out. With Isaiah Thomas focused and ready to lead his team, what could be the outcome of this interesting Conference Finals battle? After 10 days of rest, LeBron, Kyrie, and Love gather their troops and head into Boston to begin the next chapter of the Eastern Conference playoff journey. Let's take a look at the Eastern Conference Finals.

*Cleveland Cavaliers 
-Much like the 2015 season, the Cavs are in the 2nd seed with an inferior team at the no. 1 spot. Now, this does nothing to discredit the Celtics at all. Isaiah Thomas is a star, Avery Bradley is a superb defender and can score in bursts, but the Cavs are and will be the best team in the Eastern Conference. Why? Because they're built to be that way. Let's he honest. There's no team in the East stacked like the Cavs, and the same could be said for the Warriors in the West. However, what makes the Cavs the best is not only having the best player in the game at the helm, but a great supporting cast as well. Delusional Cavs (Bron) fans will say Bron has no help as they usually do when he loses (this is why it's tough to talk basketball with them at times), but we all know Bron has a lot of help. Kyrie Irving is an amazing player. Kevin Love is a solid player who can provide you with 20 points and 10 rebounds on a regular basis. Tristan Thompson is an 80 million dollar rebounder. JR Smith is a bit streaky in terms of his shooting, but he's a solid option and a great shooter when he's on fire. Deron Williams isn't the great point guard he once was, BUT the truth is, a former All Star is one hell of an option for a backup point guard. The same could be said for Kyle Korver, one of the best shooters in the game and a former All Star in his own right.

So, with that being said, there's no other team in the East who even comes close to the Cavs in terms of roster. On paper, the Cavs blow everyone else except maybe one or two teams in the West out of the water. However, a big issue for the Cavs has been (and still is) their defense. They didn't exhibit the best defense against the Pacers nor the Raptors, but that's fine, they didn't need to much because they'd have enough scoring and ball movement to get the job done. In this series, this might be a cause for the Cavs to tighten up on defense, but with 10 days rest, how will this play out? Will the Cavs come in on the road renewed and easily take over? Or will they be rusty, slow to move the ball, and unfocused? If that happens, then this series might be more interesting than expected. If there's one team in the East that you don't want to be unfocused against, it would be this Celtics team. They've got a lot of heart, despite not being as stacked roster wise, so it's a true possibility that the Cavs could lose a game 1 or 2 on the road, BUT it's honestly not that likely. I think we will see the Cavs come out with a burst of energy with every game, and LeBron will be magnificent as he always is in the playoffs. If for some reason, Bron isn't 100% locked in or all the way there, then that could be trouble for the Cavs. However, the likelihood of that happening is very slim.

*Boston Celtics 
-The Celtics are a Cinderella story this year. With the small Isaiah Thomas as their leader, the Celtics have been a rather undersized team this year, but they won 53 games and clinched home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. With players like Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have some weapons. The issue with their weapons is consistency. The Celtics haven't been extremely consistent and after getting off to a rocky start early in the season, they eventually snatched the no. 1 spot from the Cavs, who at one point seemed to have it virtually locked up. Going into this series, for the Celtics, the reality is they have to play the greatest 48 minutes of basketball possible every game go even be able to compete. Can they? Sure they can, as we saw the Celtics take a home victory over the Cavs in the regular season. We also saw the Cavs destroy the Celtics at home too, so this could go either way.

If the Celtics could pull off the upset, they might be in a prime position going into the offseason. Surely, if the Celtics could get 1 or 2 games against the Cavs, or even push them to 7, adding Markelle Fultz in the draft and possibly Gordon Hayward in free agency would make them a much bigger threat to the Cavs next season, right? This is a young team, still learning the ropes, so to see them gel together and work so well is a testament to the great coaching of Brad Stevens. Do the Celtics realistically have a shot of winning this series? Not really, but I didn't think they would win over the Bulls or Wizards either, so I won't completely count them out.... it just seems unlikely.

I won't take up too much of your time with this one. While many people see the Cavs sweeping the Celtics, we've seen the Celtics won't die without a fight. I predict the Cavs in 5 hard fought games, possibly 6, but silently, I'm hoping for this series to go 7 games. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No. The Cavs are headed to their third straight Finals for a date with destiny... and the Warriors.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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EOTR Tag Team Tuesdays: Edge and Christian

By @AmeenKnows 

This week I wanted to do something special considering today is my birthday. I wanted to shine a light on one of my favorite teams of all time. Originally, I was going to go with Jerishow, but after spending all day watching Edge's best career moments on the WWE Network, (WHICH YOU CAN ALSO WATCH FOR THE LOW LOW PRICE OF $9.99), this was a bit of a no brainer. We all know the highlights of these guys. They've been everywhere and done everything.

The first to make the jump was Edge who had gotten a tryout for WWF in 1996 and by 1998, he had finally made his TV re-debut with that terrible quiet loner gimmick before starting a feud with Gangrel. Then shortly thereafter, Christian made his debut siding with Gangrel and Edge would join them to become the Vampire-themed Brood stable. As cool as the entrance, music, blood baths and stuff were, the gimmick was extremely limited and breaking away from it led to us beginning one of the greatest tag team rivalries in WWE History. After breaking up The Brood, Gangrel formed The New Brood with The Hardy Boyz, which of course would lead to a feud with E&C. From there on they gave us the Terri Invitational Tournament which was a best of five series with the winning team acquiring the managerial services of Terri Runnels and $100,000. The Hardyz would go on to win the fifth and final match in the series at No Mercy in a very entertaining Ladder Match.

With The Hardyz turning face, it meant that they needed a natural heel foil and that would come from Edge and Christian. During this nearly 2 year long feud (on and off of course), both teams began to cement their status as rising stars. The Hardyz became entertaining through their wild and high-flying style. Edge and Chtistian meanwhile, broke through as heels by mocking other wrestlers and the crowds. The rivalry between the two teams was boosted with the arrival of The Dudley Boyz and they participated in the first ever Triangle Ladder Match at WrestleMania 2000 for the World Tag Team Titles, which E&C would go on to win. They held the belts until late May, dropping them to Too Cool, but won them back at the King of the Ring PPV. At SummerSlam, they successfully defended the titles in the first ever TLC match against their WrestleMania 2000 opponents. They traded the Tag Team Titles with The Hardyz for the rest of the year and by the end of 2000, they were already 5 Time World Tag Team Champions.

At the Royal Rumble in 2001, they dropped the titles back to the Dudley Boyz, then helped the Hardyz win the titles a few months later and beat them for the belts making E&C six time WWF World Tag Team Champions.  However they dropped the titles back to the Dudleys later that night. At WrestleMania 17, they defeated the Hardyz and Dudleyz again in TLC II for the World Tag Team Titles making them a record seven time champions.

Although they would become undone because of Christian's jealousy of Edge's King Of The Ring win, Edge & Christian really raised the bar and standard (along with the Hardyz and Dudleyz) for what tag team wrestling is. I have to admit that I severely underrated this team because I didn't like them, but that just means they did their job the right way.

The best move for them was breaking away from the Brood and becoming the Joker to the Hardyz' Batman. They were absolutely hated for making fun of fans in cities like Boston for the Red Sox's World Series failures, Indiana's Bob Knight incident and just making fun of rednecks in Alabama. Now when you hear people and their memories of those moments, they are funny and a part of what made them great. They always pushed the line of what they could get away with and it showed when they were paired up with Kurt Angle. Before teaming with E&C, Kurt was pretty much a no nonsense kind of guy. Next to those two, and eventually Rhyno, he's doing hilarious backstage segments just about every week and even after the group disbanded. However with good times came the bad. There was a time when Edge said Vince wanted to split them up, but heard them doing commentary antagonizing the wrestlers and decided instead to make them his World Tag Team Champions. So any negative these guys faced was turned into a positive. Not to mention, these guys could go in the ring. They made fun of you and your favorites before the match then beat them in said matches.

As well as they both worked together it was clear that they both were destined for bigger and better. So they used this team to launch themselves into midcard champions and eventually, each became World Champion. My favorite thing about them is their ring psychology. They know what works for them and what doesn't and they milk the good for everything it's worth. That's something a lot of guys can learn from. Its like "okay I've done this millions of times before but what way can I kind of freshen it up and make it look good?"
That's how you get the ladder spears, the con-chair-tos and Los Conquistadores (which showed what hilarious lengths they would go to in order to win back the tag team titles). It's no wonder why they are a record seven time WWF World Tag Team Champions. Edge and Christian earned their spot as one of the greatest teams ever, and you can clearly see why.