Can Backlash right the SD ship?

Backlash, WWE, 2016, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Smackdown, Championship

When Smackdown’s move to Tuesday nights was announced to coincide with the WWE brand extension, there were reasons to be optimistic about the blue brand. No longer pretaped, maybe Smackdown Live could shake the stigma of being the company’s B-show. Many of us immediately remembered the good times we shared with the Smackdown Six back in 2002 during the last brand split era and were hopeful that another core group of young talent could recreate the magic. Alas, Tuesday nights have been a disappointment thus far. Raw has asserted its dominance as the must-see show ever since the draft. At SummerSlam, Raw presented a much more intriguing primary title match that saw Finn Balor defeat Seth Rollins, while Smackdown’s offering of Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler lacked any clear direction. A Raw superstar absolutely and utterly destroyed a Smackdown guy in the main event. Even with the loss of their first Universal Champion to injury, Raw rebounded in a big way two weeks ago when Kevin Owens captured the vacant prize with the help of Triple H. The next night, Smackdown ended with an exceptionally silly scene, a prone AJ Styles seemingly paralyzed after being crotched on the top rope, Dean Ambrose playing games with him. This week, Raw followed up with another great show, and they didn’t even have to rely on Triple H explaining his actions – they still have that in their back pocket for a future episode. Smackdown followed up by replaying the image of AJ Styles crotched on the top rope a few times. It is clear that Smackdown is still very much the B-show.

With an impressive Clash of the Champions card on the horizon, Raw continues to show the world why it’s the #1 wrestling program on the planet. If Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are ever going to make Smackdown feel like an equal alternative to the flagship program, they’re going to have to do it soon – they’re going to have to do it at Backlash. Can they?

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Impact Wrestling Preview (and assorted notes), 7/14/11

WWE, TNA, StingSooooo, I still haven’t watched Destination X.  And I’m going to be out-of-town overnight, so I won’t be catching tonight’s Impact as it happens either.  As such, don’t expect reactions to either show to be up tomorrow.  That’s not to say tomorrow will be without updates.  We’ll have news on the recently extra-popular Colt Cabana, thoughts on the worst tribute show ever, and probably more praise to heap upon CM Punk.  Beyond that, I plan to watch Destination X and tonight’s Impact over the weekend, and have reactions to both up sometime prior to Monday.  Granted, five hours of TNA in one weekend is no small task for any man, so I’m making no guarantees, but that’s the current plan.

As for what to expect on tonight’s Impact, the short answer is insanity.  I’ve read partial spoilers, and it sounds like the show is going to be absolutely ridiculous, and not in the good way.  As for the matches, Mr. Anderson will put the World Title on the line against Sting in what is being billed as the Mid-Summer Nightmare.  In action from the X Division, A Double Austin Aries will collide with Shannon Moore.  The British Invasion will go up against Mexican America in a battle to determine the #1 contenders to the Tag Team Titles, while the Knockouts will be represented in a match between Tara and her former employer, Madison Rayne.  Lastly, some Bound for Glory points will be distributed in a triple threat match pitting The Pope against Bobby Roode against Samoa Joe.

Impact Wrestling Preview, 6/6/11

WWE, TNA, WrestlingTonight’s Impact Wrestling will be headlined by a fatal four way match that promises to give the fans the action they so desperately want to see.  Two sets of Destination X opponents, Rob Van Dam & Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels, will all be in the ring together, and it will be every man for himself as the four high flyers aim to prove their superiority.  If the contest isn’t interfered with, it looks like it could be an early match of the year candidate.

Also on tap for tonight are a couple of matches in the Bound for Glory series.  First, Bobby Roode will clash with the undefeated Crimson.  Points will also be awarded in a tag team match in which Roode’s partner James Storm will team with Matt Morgan to take on the unlikely combination of The Pope & Devon.  In a high stakes handicap match, Velvet Sky will try to topple the fearsome duo of ODB & Jacki.  Should Velvet win, her two rivals will be forced to leave Impact Wrestling forever.  A triple threat match is scheduled for tonight’s show as well that will pit three X Division newcomers against each other, with the winner filling the final spot in the Destination X match with Austin Aries, Low Ki, and Shiima Xion.  Lastly, Immortal is slated to give World Champion Mr. Anderson some sort of ultimatum tonight.

Smackdown Preview, 6/24/11

WWE, TNA, WrestlingThe #1 Contender to the World Heavyweight Title will be determined during tonight’s Smackdown, as Christian will meet Kane with the winner moving on to Money in the Bank to challenge Randy Orton.  Christian has had ample opportunity to recapture the gold as of late, but he seeks one more chance when he meets the Big Red Machine.  The Intercontinental Title will also be on the line tonight in a rematch from Capitol Punishment that will see Ezekiel Jackson defend his gold against Wade Barrett.

Barrett’s former partners in the Corre will be in action, as Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel team up to take on Jimmy & Jey Uso.  The Great Khali will accompany of Jinder Mahal to the ring for his bout against Yoshi Tatsu, and Mahal hopes to continue his career-opening win streak.  Meanwhile, in two matches that are sure to steal the show, Ted DiBiase will go one-on-one with Sin Cara while Cody Rhodes collides with Daniel Bryan.  The hostilities between these four men have been at a fever pitch at recent week, and you can be guaranteed a top-notch contest whenever any combination of them step into the ring together.

Impact Wrestling Preview, 6/23/11

WWE, TNA, WrestlingMaking his first appearance since his grueling match with Bully Ray at Slammiversary, AJ Styles plans on addressing the fans about the state of the company tonight.  The Phenomenal One will be in the Impact Zone to discuss the upcoming Destination X pay-per-view, the return of the 6-sided ring, and what the X Division means to him.

Tonight’s event will be headlined by a one-on-one meeting between the reigning X Division Champion Abyss and the man they call Sting.  The Bound for Glory series will continue tonight as well when Bully Ray goes head-to-head with Scott Steiner.  The undefeated Crimson will team with fellow big man Matt Morgan to take on the makeshift Tag Team Champions, James Storm & Alex Shelley.  Last week, Austin Aries won a triple threat match to earn a spot on the Destination X card, where he’ll compete for an Impact Wrestling contract.  Tonight, someone will join him, as three newcomers will vie for their spot on the show as Dakota Darsow will take on Shima Xion and Federico Palacious in a triple threat match.  We’ll also be treated to plenty of knockouts action.  Velvet Sky will team with Miss Tessmacher early in the night to wrestle ODB & Miss Jackie, and we’ll get Mickie James against Winter in a Falls Count Anywhere match later in the show.

Raw Preview, 6/20/11

WWE, TNA, Wrestling

“Last night at Capitol Punishment, I not only defeated Rey Mysterio, I also vowed to perform the most honest act in WWE history. Join me on tonight’s Power to the People episode of Monday Night Raw, and witness the genesis of something monumental.”

These were the words posted by CM Punk on Facebook this afternoon.  This is why I’m excited to watch tonight’s special 3-hour edition of Monday Night Raw.

Aside from Punk, the rest of tonight’s show promises to showcase talent from both brands in a special “Power to the People” episode.  If you’ll recall, last year’s Viewer’s Choice episode (same concept with a different name) was a bit of a circus.  It featured a dance competition between Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov, Hornswoggle teaming with Great Khali, and the ever-pointless divas battle royal.  That being said, it also saw the birth of Nexus when the NXT Season 1 rookies interrupted a match between John Cena & CM Punk.  The pandemonium that followed was one of the best Raw endings in recent memory if for no other reason than the sheer shock value, and in some ways, it made up for the otherwise lackluster show.

One of my biggest problems with these People’s Choice style wrestling shows is that the options available to vote on are usually weighted to ensure a specific outcome is selected – the standard formula is one OK option and two absolutely horrendous ones that nobody with half a mind would vote for.  It makes for a predictable show, and it detracts from the illusion of the fans being in control of anything at all.

One positive note I can make in anticipation of tonight’s super-sized extravaganza is the likely inclusion of Zack Ryder.  If he’s provided as an option for just about any round of voting, he’ll most assuredly win and get his face on WWE television.  After “We Want Ryder” chants permeated Capitol Punishment last night, it would be remiss of the WWE not to at least include him as an option for one of tonight’s matches.  They did somehow neglect to use him in Long Island last week, though, so maybe I’m giving them too much credit now.

So what do you think will steal the show tonight?  Punk’s monumental genesis?  R-Truth’s paranoia reaching a fever pitch after being screwed by Little Jimmy last night?  Ryder Woo Woo Wooing all over Raw?  Getting to vote between Trent Barreta, David Hart Smith, and Kofi Kingston to determine who gets a United States Championship match?  Remember, the power is yours!

Smackdown Preview, 6/17/2011

WWE, TNA, Wrestling

I've already beaten you, fella.

It seems like the main event of Smackdown every week has some combination of Randy Orton, Christian, Mark Henry, or Sheamus, and tonight’s show will be no different.  Sheamus goes toe-to-toe with the #1 contender, Christian, and I for one am really tiring of these repeat main events.  This time, if Sheamus is able to pin Captain Charisma, he’ll be added to the main event of Capitol Punishment.  Should Christian win, the match at the pay-per-view will remain as it is.

Also on the lineup card for tonight is a 6-man tag team rematch from Monday’s Raw, as Ezekiel Jackson will team with Daniel Bryan & Sin Cara to take on Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, & Ted DiBiase.  Jinder Mahal will be in action again, accompanied by The Great Khali, taking on Vladimir Kozlov.  In a battle of the super heavyweights, The Big Show will collide with “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry in what will be Show’s first match since being hit by Alberto Del Rio’s car.  Speaking of Del Rio, he intends to address the WWE Universe about the recent events surrounding he, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Big Show.  Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes, & Tamina will team up to face Natalya, AJ, & Kaitlyn in divas action, and former Corre members Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater will do battle with Jimmy & Jey Uso.