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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - PayBack Predictions, Why Raw 2.0 >>> SmackDown 2.0 and Jinder Mahal - WTF?!
By Super Chrisss
Apr 28, 2017 - 1:18:04 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

What’s up, guys? It’s been nearly three weeks since we last spoke, and in the wrestling world, that feels like three months have passed instead. As you probably guessed by the title, I have a lot to talk about today and a respectable amount of the upcoming discussion will include me ranting about some of WWE’s decisions since the Superstar Shake-Up, a.k.a. WWE’s effort to “Make Raw Great Again”. If you read any one of my columns between last summer’s initial brand extension and WrestleMania 33, then you know which of the two brands I found most enjoyable by a long-shot. However, despite some early optimism following the recent shake-up of the rosters, the last two weeks of television seem to suggest that the most entertaining brand is now Raw.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of negativity about the past two weeks of Raw, none of which I agree with. Let me preface my pro-Raw comments by mentioning that I no longer watch Raw live every Monday night: I PVR it and watch it either the following morning before work or sometime Tuesday evening, I avoid spoilers as much as humanly possible, and as a result, I’ve had some great viewing experiences the past few weeks. For instance, you know the two dozen Roman Reigns/Braun Strowman recaps/video packages that aired last Monday night? I skipped every one of those as if they were commercials and the show flew by. I thought everything from Chris Jericho’s Raw send-off (which is certainly what it felt like) to the slightly repackaged Kalisto vs. Braun match was highly entertaining, while the midcard added to the show rather than make it drag. Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus? A tag team Cruiserweight match that made perfect sense? A fun six-man tag featuring some of Raw’s best workers? What’s there to hate?

Getting back to the Superstar Shake-Up for a second, I thought both rosters came out of it looking better than they did pre-WrestleMania. Although Raw got the bigger, more entertaining names (Dean, Miz, Wyatt, Alexa), SmackDown got to keep two of NXT’s hottest acts in Nakamura and Dillinger as well as The Phenomenal One, AJ Styles. Raw was lacking star power, while SmackDown needed a better midcard and tag team division. Kevin Owens, Rusev, Sami Zayn, New Day and – sigh – The Colons helped SmackDown in those departments, while Raw now has all three former Shield members, Finn Balor, Miz, Wyatt and The Hardyz can be split up and pushed to the main-event without anyone blinking an eye.

That being said, I’m really down on SmackDown’s new women’s division compared to Raw’s. It probably boils down to personal preference, but I’d much rather watch Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Bailey, Emma and Mickie James over Charlotte, Naomi, Nattie, Tamina and Carmella. That’s also because I really can’t stand Charlotte. Almost every day, I hear someone gushing over Charlotte, how she’s the best wrestler in the entire women’s division or how she was the biggest acquisition in the shake-up. Yeah, I don’t think so. Bliss going to Raw is a million times huger than Charlotte going to Tuesdays. Everything Charlotte does, Alexa does ten times better. Just look at how Alexa OWNED the crowd when they tried to troll her with the “What?” chants; she shut them down in seconds, while Charlotte looked like she was going to suffer a nervous breakdown everytime. To me, Charlotte is the female Roman Reigns: overrated, overpushed, and has only been given so many opportunities to ‘make history’ because of her family background. The reality is, Charlotte, much like Reigns, is a decent performer who would benefit from being away from the title scene rather than constantly being involved. If the plans of Charlotte becoming the next big ‘face’ of SmackDown’s women division are true…good luck with that! Charlotte, again like Reigns, sucks as a face and there’s no way the fans will cheer for Charlotte receiving even more opportunities. Meanwhile, I eagerly look forward to Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley, which just happens to be taking place at PayBack this weekend. Speaking of PayBack, let’s run down the card, shall we?

As of this writing, there are two segments announced for the kickoff show. The first is a tag team match with Enzo & Cass taking on Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson for what feels like the tag team version of Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens. Despite being a fan of both duos, I have no interest in seeing the same match I’ve seen countless times the past few months. Maybe I’d be slightly more invested if they were competing for the number one contendership, but instead, this just feels like filler. Enzo & Cass get the win because they’re babyfaces and need retribution for The Club cheating to beat them a few weeks ago and Enzo being taken out last Monday.

There’s also a MizTV segment scheduled for the pre-show with MIz and Finn Balor, neither of which – including the Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose – being booked for the main show. Anyone who has been watching wrestling for at least six months knows that a PayBack match will be set-up here, but no one seems to know if it will be Miz vs. Balor or Miz vs. Ambrose. I initially thought Miz vs. Balor would be the match getting booked because I assumed the SmackDown brand would be running a live event at the same time Sunday night, and with WWE Champion Randy Orton and United States Champion Kevin Owens booked for PayBack, Dean would be working the SmackDown house show instead. However, according to WWE’s website, there is no house show this Sunday, which means we could very well get Miz vs. Ambrose at PayBack. Since I have no idea what to expect, I’m going with Miz vs. Balor being announced for later that night, but in a number one contender’s match for Dean’s IC Championship (yes, I’m a sucker for #1 contender’s match).

Speaking of midcard championships, does anyone actually think Chris Jericho has a chance of beating Kevin Owens for the United States Championship? While it’s always possible that Y2J wins only for Owens to win the rematch on next week’s SmackDown – and sending Jericho on his way to tour with Fozzy – I despise short title reigns. Since Jericho will be leaving within the next week anyway, they might as well keep the belt on “The New Face of America” and let KO be responsible for putting an end to Jericho’s latest – and some would say his best – run. Kevin Owens retains on Sunday.

I’ve really been enjoying the slow-brewing feud between The Hardy Boyz and Sheamus/Cesaro. I was surprised to see both Cesaro and Sheamus lose in singles matches two weeks in a row, and while WWE booking would suggest that we get new tag team champions on Sunday, it seems more likely that Matt & Jeff retain and the odd-couple tag team finally lose their shit and turn heel (although I missed the moment Sheamus officially turned face, mind you). I would not be surprised if they stretch this feud to Extreme Rules next month, with Sheamus & Cesaro challenging the broken/unbroken ones to their speciality match, a ladder or TLC match. Regardless, The Hardy Boyz retain, which results in their opponents turning heel afterwards.

Keeping the trend of title matches going (it seems we have a lot on Sunday), two of the best Cruiserweights go at it once again for the championship. I honestly don’t know how they will top their WrestleMania 33 effort, as Neville and Aries brought their A game to the pre-show of the biggest show of the year. I also can’t safely predict a winner. The safe bet would be The King of the Cruiserweights, but if Aries loses once again, who else is there to challenge The King? Both Gallagher and Swann have had their shots – maybe Akira Tozawa? Maybe Kalisto gets inserted into the CW division? While neither man is a bad choice, they’re not as big names or as over as Double A. I’m going with Austin Aries winning the Cruiserweight Championship, but I’m probably wrong.

Next up, we have Alexa Bliss, hot off the heels of a number one contendership match – unlike Charlotte, who pinned the SmackDown women’s champion clean to receive a title shot – challenging Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship. We got a taste of this feud a little while ago in NXT, but both women are much better workers than they were back then. I 100% think Bliss vs. Bayley will blow every Charlotte vs. Bayley match out of the water, but I don’t see Miss Five Feet of Fury winning the title just yet. Bayley retains, but this feud has only just begun.

Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins is another MOTN candidate for me. I’ve enjoyed Joe’s work on the main roster much more than what he did down in NXT. Maybe he was unmotivated and felt he was above being a main-stay in the minor leagues? Either way, main roster Joe has been booked very strong since his debut and I’m curious to see who walks out of PayBack with the W on Sunday. Joe is one of those guys who should be protected especially with Raw low on top heels at the moment, but Rollins is a top guy who is also protected. While I wouldn’t rule out a non-finish to keep this feud going until Extreme Rules, I think Joe needs and gets the win here. Much like Aries vs. Neville, I’m not confident with my prediction, but screw it.

It’s still hard to believe that Braun Strowman is now Raw’s top heel with Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Kevin Owens gone, which makes me think we’re due for a big heel turn sometime soon. That’s not a slight on Wyatt or Miz – I just think the babyface side is incredibly stacked on Raw right now and something has to give. Anyway, I really, really, really hope Strowman isn’t fed to Reigns for the second Raw-exclusive Pay-Per-View in a row to make The Big Dog look strong once again, but this is WWE and Vince McMahon in charge we’re talking about. I hate to sound like a broken record, but with Extreme Rules is the next Raw-exclusive PPV, so this match probably has the best chance of going to a non-finish. I assume we’ll get a Last Man Standing match between the two next month, but to help us get there, Braun vs. Roman goes to a double-count out.

Like everyone else, I honestly have no idea what to expect from the House of Horrors match on Sunday. I read a report somewhere that said it would start off pre-recorded in an actual haunted house and finish inside the ring. In other words, this could be a lot of fun or it could be super-cheesy and head-scratching. It will probably end up being a bit of both. Like many people, I’m ready for this feud to be over and Wyatt to move on to his next rival, which looks like it will be Finn Balor (which should be great). Meanwhile, Randy Orton will win on Sunday in what appears to be a non-title match and move on to…Jinder Mahal.

Jinder Fucking Mahal. I’m still not sure what’s worse. The fact that talentless loser is the number one contender to the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP or that there are many people out there supporting this decision. I’m sorry, but have WWE – and anyone in favour of Jinder’s push – stumbled on some really bad drugs? Please explain to me how it’s OK for a guy who has won only one, maybe TWO matches since returning to the company last year be competing in the MAIN-EVENT for the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP at a PAY-PER-VIEW in CHICAGO (#TitoCAPS)??? This has got to be a joke, right?

It’s not like they’re giving the title opportunity to a jobber with some credentials to his name, i.e. Mojo Rawley who at least won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WM33. I’m not saying I want to see Mojo Rawley vs. Randy Orton, but it would make more sense than Jinder Fucking Mahal! Actually, let’s do a quick run-down of who competed in the six-pack challenge on SmackDown last week to determine Orton’s opponent at BackLash:

-Dolph Ziggler: Arguably the most credible wrestler in this match, as he’s a veteran who has been world champion and won several midcard titles in the past. Still, I don’t think he’s won a match since his feud with Miz (which he lost). How did he get entered into the match?

-Erick Rowan: I actually can’t remember the last time he won a match. Sure, he beat up Orton the week before that, but he’s still a mega jobber. How did he get entered into the match?

-Luke Harper: Another participant who I could somewhat see being ‘worthy’ of competing in the match. He had two great matches with Randy Orton and AJ Styles in recent matches and came super-close to fighting for the WWE Championship at WM33. I can sort of see how Harper got entered into the match.

-Sami Zayn: Very popular guy but has a terrible win/loss record. In fact, he was entered in the match after losing a number one contender’s match for the U.S. title a week earlier? How did Zayn get entered into the match but not AJ Styles or Baron Corbin?

-Mojo Rawley: He won the aforementioned ATGMBR and defeated Jinder Mahal the week earlier and…that’s it, really. How did he get entered into the match?

-Jinder Mahal: Accomplished nothing significant his first run with the company other than form 3MB, one of the biggest jobber stables of all-time. Returned to the WWE last year with a lot more muscle, beat Heath Slater to get his job back, and lost every single match since then. Mahal has accomplished NOTHING in his combined months as a WWE superstar. No good matches, no memorable promos, no momentum, no heat. How the hell did he get entered into the match and actually WIN it???

Like I said, WWE has to be on some terrible drugs if they really think Chicago of all cities is going to accept Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship. That’s a joke. So what if they get Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler and AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens on the same card? That’s an ABOMINATION of a title match and a match that’s supposed to ‘draw’ viewers either to the arena or to subscribe to the network. Who in the actual fuck would want to watch that match?

The people defending WWE’s decision are just as delusional, to be honest. I’ve seen people compare Mahal’s upcoming title shot to a young, unproven John Cena getting a title shot against Brock Lesnar at – ironically enough – BackLash 2003. First of all, smack yourself silly for even comparing Cena to Mahal. That’s beyond sad. Also, Cena was a young guy who had been impressing after matches with Kurt Angle and other veterans. Mahal debuted in 2009 and has done what since then? I must have missed that backstage segment where Undertaker saw Jinder Mahal backstage and praised him as “something special”. Besides, Cena vs. Lesnar wasn’t the main-event that night; that show was headlined by Raw’s world title match between Goldberg and The Rock. Instead, WWE is counting on Mahal vs. Orton drawing. Yup, good luck with that. So save me the Cena/Lesnar comparison because it doesn’t work.

That’s not all. I’ve also seen people defend the decision by saying that it’s different and unexpected by having Mahal winning. Um, no. Luke Harper or Sami Zayn winning would have been surprising because neither have had a chance to main-event a PPV competing for a world title. Yet, Mahal gets the opportunity instead? That just makes no sense. If you want to build up Mahal, that’s your foolish decision to make, but give him some wins first. Have him build momentum in the midcard. When has going from jobber to main-eventer ever worked out for anyone in the past? All of a sudden, we’re supposed to take Mahal seriously as a world title contender because he beat five high-profile(ish) jobbers and has The Bollywood Boyz – who 90% of the audience have never seen before – helping him out? Get real. This isn’t like JBL going from tag team specialist to forming The Cabinet and feuding with Eddie Guerrero in the main-event either because JBL WAS CREDIBLE! He was a former tag team champion, former Hardcore champion and former European champion. He knew how to cut a promo and he could have good matches. Jinder is none of that! No accomplishments, no good match resume, and no memorable promos. He’s a nobody and nobody cares about him.

So why is Raw 2.0 better than SmackDown 2.0? There are plenty of reasons, some of which I touched on here, but PayBack has a much better-looking overall card than BackLash. SmackDown is pushing a lot of acts from Raw that I have no interest in (Mahal, Charlotte, The Colons, etc.), which doesn’t make sense considering they have guys like Shinsuke, Dillinger, Styles, Owens, Corbin, Harper and so many more at their disposal. I’m a huge Tyler Breeze fan, but now both Breezango and Mahal will be competing for championships at the same PPV – what the hell??? Mind you, Raw still has plenty of flaws, but it’s not like we’re getting Titus O’Neil vs. Brock Lesnar and The Golden Truth vs. The Hardy Boyz at the next PPV, which is essentially what SmackDown is giving us. It doesn’t help matters that SmackDown lost WWE’s best announcer (Mauro) and acquired the worst announcer (Saxton). I know Otunga will be back eventually, but the Raw commentary team of Cole, Graves (the new best announcer) and Booker T is way better than SmackDown’s trio. I think a lot of people are giving SmackDown a free pass because of it’s track record since the draft, but if we’re being objective, Raw is putting on the superior show at the moment. That could all change in a few months when Cena comes back and Mahal goes back to jobbing or the indies (where he belongs), but right now, Raw is where it’s at.

I want to end this column by saying that if you agree with me that the Jinder Mahal push is a joke and an insult to our intelligence and/or patience as wrestling fans, join me in speaking with your wallet, as the saying goes. SmackDown has already lost a lot of viewers since Mahal became number one contender last week (his victory occurred within in the first hour and 500,000 viewers were lost in the same time frame). But don’t just turn off the channel when Mahal comes on the screen. If you bought tickets to an upcoming SmackDown house show and Mahal is advertised in one of the top matches, DON’T GO. Refund your ticket. If you live in the Chicago area and have purchased a ticket to attend BackLash, refund your ticket. Send a message to WWE you won’t support this joke of a push. Don’t fall into Roman Reigns trap of buying a ticket, attending the show and booing Mahal out of the building – that won’t work. WWE already has your money and they’ll think they’re doing a great job at pushing Mahal as a heel. Trust me, if SmackDown keeps losing viewers and ticket sales for SmackDown events plummet, WWE will act swiftly. We’ll see different guys or proven draws like Styles back in the main-event where they belong.

To clarify, I’m not against new guys getting opportunities. I’m really not. But you can’t take a jobber and book him for a WWE title match out of nowhere; fans aren’t going to accept that. They have plenty of guys on SmackDown who are either proven or on the verge of breaking out. Mahal came from nowhere and has shown NOTHING to make people believe he’s worthy of headlining a PPV. You want to make Mahal number one contender for the U.S. title instead? Fine, try that and see how it goes. If he succeeds, slowly test him out in the main-event. But don’t pluck him out of obscurity, give him a WWE title match and see how fans respond because as any sane person can see – that won’t end well.

If this is some kind of troll job by WWE to ‘punish’ Chicago because of their relentless fascination with CM Punk, then that’s beyond sad. I would not put it past them to potentially alienate one of their most loyal fanbases just because they can’t put a definitive end to the CM Punk chants. If anything, this match has the potential to be one of the worst-received matches in WWE history – even worse than any Roman Reigns match, believe it or not. Let’s just hope Orton squashes Jinder in less than five minutes and we don’t see that loser anywhere near the title picture ever again UNLESS he proves himself someday.


YOUR Two Centsss: How do you feel about both brand's current direction since the Superstar Shake-up?

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