With injuries and defections altering long-term plans on seemingly weekly basis, this has been an interesting summer in WWE land. The biggest losses continue to be felt at the top, as Daniel Bryan’s meteoric rise has been temporarily derailed due to various ailments and CM Punk remains content on the sidelines in Chicago. The collective interest level of the panel is somewhat subdued heading into this PPV, but nonetheless we elected to provide our thoughts:
Thoughts/comments on the Hogan Birthday celebration last night on RAW?
JD: It was ok, thought it could have been better. I would have actually had Lesnar hit Hogan then have Cena make the save. I kind of like what they are doing with Cena here.
Waymire: The tribute video was awesome, and the old school wrestlers seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Scott Hall was perfect in the NWO survey. Having Brock come out made sense, especially with his promise to return earlier in the night. It was also logical to hold off on any brawling, since it gets people excited to see Lesnar and Cena clash at SummerSlam that much more. I do think it could’ve lasted a little longer before Brock came out because it seemed to fly by. Maybe have people like Flair and Piper speak as well. But overall, it was a really good end to Raw.
WC: I enjoyed it right until Lesnar came out to ruin it with his shoddy mike work. Always good to see Flair, Hall & Nash were great (especially Hall taking the poll) and Orndorff’s mustache was fantastic. The only thing missing was Mr. T.
PAC: I think it could’ve gone a little longer, but overall not bad. Few entities do tribute videos like the WWE, and once again they delivered with the Hogan one. I wish Naitch got to speak instead of some of the others, and I really thought Lesnar was going to plant one of the legends and get even more heat on himself. The man who stole the show though was Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, amazing 70’s stach.
John Cena (c) vs. Brock Lesnar: Singles match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
JD: I think despite liking what they are doing with Cena, WWE has to continue to build Lesnar into a monster and have him destroy Cena and take the belts. This needs to end with Lesnar dropping the belts at Mania to Reigns.
Waymire: A lot has been made about Brock not being around much if he wins, but I’ll still go with him. I don’t think a loss by Cena means much only because you know he’ll be back on top at some point. Having Brock appear every now and then with the belt will make it feel like a big event anyway. I’ll be honest, while I think Lesnar will win, I’m just praying Cena won’t. Not again!
WC: Ugh. Zero interest in this. Although I can say how many big-time matches over the past few years have featured Cena as the better wrestler? That in itself is a rarity. I’m tired of Lesnar – it was garbage when they put him over Taker at Mania and its garbage now that he is clearly going to win the belt and not wrestle again until the Rumble. Why do they keep bending over backwards for this guy? He sucks on the mike, is stiff in the ring and legitimately hurts people when he’s in there. I just don’t get it.
PAC: They will make Cena look like Rocky Balboa as usual, but in the end Lesnar has to get the win. Vince backed himself into a corner with the horrendous decision to have Brock end the streak at Mania, and now he has to keep building him up as a monster or else that defeat of Taker will look even more absurd (if that’s even possible) in hindsight.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt Singles match:
JD: Obviously Bray is going to go over here. It would make zero sense have Jericho go over again.
Waymire: I’ll go with the upset of Jericho winning again here, as Wyatt will finally get his big win at Night of Champions before Y2J leaves again. WWE doesn’t seem to mind building Wyatt up just to have him lose, so why not one more loss?
WC: I’m still not a Wyatt fan (don’t enjoy the promos or the gimmick which I know puts me in the minority) but Jericho is one of my all-time favorites. Even though I don’t like Wyatt, he puts on good matches and working with Jericho will only make him better. Since Jericho won the last one, I’ll take Wyatt in this one.
PAC: The prevailing thought seems to be Jericho won their first encounter, Bray will win this one. I think this will be the case, and it is well documented that Y2J has no problem elevating other workers. With Jericho being one of my all-time favorite wrestlers and Bray emerging as one of the best of the next generation, I am looking forward to this match above all the others.
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton Singles match:
JD: The build of Reigns has to continue and he needs to go over. Let’s face it we don’t really know when Bryan will be back so they have to go with Reigns as the next top face.
Waymire: Roman Reigns will start his big push with a win. I just hope he can put on a good match if he really is being groomed as a top star.
WC: Another crummy match. Reigns is better than the normal giants Vince runs out there, but not by much. Orton still sucks. I’ll go with Reigns since it seems like they want him to be the #2 babyface behind Cena.
PAC: Orton doesn’t seem like the type who wants to put over the next guy being pushed to the moon by Vince, but he might not have a choice. He was in this same position as Reigns at one time (has it already been over ten years?!?), and now must be the one to lie down while the young guy continues his rapid ascent.
Any interest at all in the Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon feud/match?
JD: Not a huge one, but I think this is actually going to be better than people think. Stephanie is legit when it comes to fitness and fighting.
Waymire: The arrest angle fell flat on Raw this week. It was so red hot when Steph got arrested, but it looks like WWE went to the well a bit too much here. I didn’t mind the affair accusation only because it’s natural for Steph to appear desperate and do anything to get under Brie’s skin. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this revealed as a big ruse in no time. I think Steph wins thanks to some sort of interference
WC: Slight. I expect a heel turn from Nikki Bella here setting up some sort of program for Rumble/Mania (also to help push their TV show). The only other interest is a possible wardrobe malfunction. Steph wins, with an assist from Nikki.
PAC: In the words of Chris Olames, “Absolutely Not”. Barring some unforeseen outside interference from Daniel Bryan, Stephanie will skate by due to some shady dealings.
More excited about the Miz’s new gimmick or Dolph actually receiving somewhat of a push?
JD: Both really, I actually love Miz and feel like he got knocked off the map just like Dolph. Both of them have a bright future, especially Dolph. I feel like Dolph is/was the next HBK and really hope they let him rise again.
Waymire: A little bit of both, actually. I’ll give Miz credit for doing something new. The crowd still seems like they don’t care much, but I think he can be pretty funny in how over the top he is. The only problem with Dolph’s “push” is that if he does win the IC title, I’m not sure that bumps him up another level. It certainly didn’t for Curtis Axel and Big E. Wade Barrett was on his way to elevating the title before he got hurt again. I hope Dolph wins and is one of those “fighting champions,” but I think Miz retains.
WC: Ziggler’s push by a mile. This guy has been on the shelf forever for whatever reason (the prevailing theory is he is injury-prone). Whether that’s true or not, they need to let this guy run with what he’s got. Great on the mike, great in the ring. Miz’s new gimmick just plays on what he’s good at (overbearing douche). I expect Miz to retain, but it won’t be long before Dolph (hopefully) gets a belt back.
PAC: Excited for both, but more excited that Dolph is getting some run again. It’s been said many times on this panel; he definitely has some HBK in him and should be one of the top guys in the company. Hopefully a win over Miz in what should be an entertaining match will trigger the start of Ziggler’s rise back up the card.
WC’s bonus pick: Rollins vs. Ambrose
WC: Looking forward to this match most of all. I love both of these guys and am excited to see how they progress over the next year. Rollins is fantastic in the ring, but his promos are a little weak (which I assume is why they put him with the Authority). Ambrose is phenomenal on the mike and has proven he can do just about anything in the ring (technical, hardcore, etc.). Since Rollins has the MITB briefcase, I expect Ambrose to get the win, but expect this feud to continue for a while.