Views From The Turnbuckle: Hot Takes And Backlash Preview

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of WrestlingInc or its staff

With WWE changing up their PPV schedule with the brand-split, I myself will be changing up my coverage of the events. I will now only be doing immediate previews/reviews for the large PPV events that feature both brands. For the other so-called "B" PPVs I will be doing short previews and reviews in my traditional Friday feature in addition to a more basic notes column.

- On Friday I wrote about how I was frustrated that Triple H had to get involved in the RAW main event and the burgeoning storyline involving the Universal Championship and Kevin Owens. With that being said I did like that on RAW this Monday, Owens did all of his own talking and came across as a star who won the title instead of someone playing second fiddle to Triple H. However, and I know this is kind of hypocritical, isn't it kind of weird that Triple H wasn't on RAW at all? I figured a lot of people tuning in would be doing so because they at least wanted to know about Triple H's motivations for turning on Seth Rollins and aligning himself with Owens. The fact that he didn't show up on RAW at all makes me worried that creatively WWE doesn't have a solid explanation yet for Triple H's actions, and that they just hurriedly booked the turn on the fly because they panicked about Balor's injury and needed to do something big. You got to have some sort of long-term methodology behind the plan before you enact it because if you just book everything on the fly, more often than not you end up with nonsensical booking that varies week-to-week; aka the WCW formula.

- The Cruiserweight division scares the hell out of me right now. WWE's inability to get some of the top stars from the Cruiserweight Classic, especially Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. who have by far been the stars of the tournament and two of the best wrestlers in the world is troubling. Not because they won't have top talent in the division because with guys like Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik and TJ Perkins they have a lot of talent, but it makes me question the financial commitment WWE is willing to make towards the division. That means that they are already off to the wrong start because it shows that they don't care enough about the division to pay for the top talent; which makes me think that they are not going to book it that seriously and it is going to end up being like it was before, guys working hard but with little storyline or character development the crowd will not care that much.

- I stopped seriously watching TNA around January 2014 and haven't regretted it since. I still pay attention to the product and will watch a match if it interests me, but I definitely don't know as much about the product as people who are watching it weekly. I can't judge Drew Galloway's work in TNA, but I've been really impressed with his work in EVOLVE as a heel. Always a big guy that could work well, I think his promos have improved greatly since leaving WWE and he does a great job getting real heat, something that is hard to do in front of a crowd as savvy as the EVOLVE audiences, who are more apt to cheer quality heel work than boo it.

- I first heard of Peter Kaasa when I saw him on the card for a Dragon Gate show as part of a multi-man tag match. Judging solely by his name and the fact that I hadn't heard of him before, I figured he was from Australia or New Zealand that was just breaking in through the Dragon Gate wrestling school. What he ended up being however, is an incredible high-flyer from North Carolina that looks like he is going to be a huge star. If you were watching the Olympics and wondered what it would be like if one of the gymnasts became a pro wrestler, they would look something like Kaasa. He's small but he is also really strong and can do pretty much anything in the ring when it comes to high-spots and flips. He's every bit as athletic, if not more so, as guys like Ricochet, Will Ospreay and Neville. He has since started working for EVOLVE and I expect big things from him over the next few years.

Backlash Preivew:

Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles- With Styles defeating John Cena at SummerSlam, it seems likely that he would be pushed as the new WWE Champion. Styles constantly calling back to his victory over Cena, wearing the armband and referring to himself as "the face that runs the place" (which for the record, is a terrible catchphrase that Cena should have gone the way of Cena's springboard stunner) leads me to believe he is going to have another match with Cena when he comes back. It makes sense for that match to be for the WWE Championship; and naturally you would want to build on Style's momentum and not have him lose to Ambrose at the next PPV.

Ambrose role as the face of SmackDown and the WWE Champion has been a mixed-bag. I think a problem is that the writers don't fully understand his character and he ends up doing different bits that end up hurting him. Whether or not you like him, you have to admit that Ambrose as a unique personality and charisma. I think whoever is writing his segments don't always know the best way to showcase that charisma, and that leads to him doing a lot of goofy comedy that comes off as a lame for the WWE Champion. When he gets more serious, like he did on Tuesday against Styles and during some of his segments with Ziggler, he is borderline greatóbut the inconsistency from week-to-week hurts his chances for being a serious long-term champion. I think Styles wins cleanly in the main event, firmly establishing himself as the guy to beat on SmackDown.

Tag Team Tournament- With The Usos finally turning heel and taking out America Alpha, and subsequently taking their spot in the semi-finals of the tournament, it seems obvious that The Uso's are going to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championships and eventually feud with a returning America Alpha. This was a necessity in the tag team division because the only two serious teams they have right now, so The Usos pretty much had to turn heel to feud with the hot new babyfaces. I suppose a dark horse candidate would be Heath Slater and Rhyno winning the tournament when Jason Jordan comes out and costs The Usos the championship. That way you further the feud between the two teams, plus Slater and Rhyno would be seen as a more legitimate if they had the tag team belts.

Women's Six-Pack Challenge- This is an elimination match for the vacant SmackDown Women's Championship, featuring Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya and Nikki Bella, or all of the women on SmackDown except the suspended Eva Marie. This match is really up in the air, and I think it's going to be pretty bad in the beginning with underdeveloped wrestlers like Bliss and Carmella getting thrown into a wild match. Lynch and Natalya are the best wrestlers in the match and are the safest choices to win the match; but I would probably put the championship on Nikki Bella. Like her or not, she is the most popular women in that match and does get crowd support. Long term is she the answer for SmackDown's women division? Probably not, that role is likely Lynch's, but I think Bella right now is the best option.

Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt-
I thought Orton got a raw deal with the Lesnar match. He was pretty much squashed by Lesnar and took a hellacious beating in real life from that terrible elbow smash. It is tough for him to come and save face, but he will have a chance against Wyatt. Wyatt is also in a rough place; when he first debuted and started feuding with guys like Cena and Daniel Bryan it looked like he was going to be a main event talent for years to come, but for the last year or so he has been an afterthought and while working with Orton is better than nothing, I don't think it is the right feud to get him back to where many predicted he would be a couple of years ago.

The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler-
This feud started off hot with the exchange on Talking Smack between The Miz and Daniel Bryan; and eventually Ziggler taking over the feud since obviously Bryan cannot wrestle The Miz. The Miz has some faults, but there is no arguing he is an excellent heel on the microphone, really one of the few genuinely disliked heels left in professional wrestling. I thought Ziggler did a really good job during the build-up to his match at SummerSlam against Ambrose and put himself over as a legit top guy; but he was hurt by being cleanly beaten in a relatively short match at SummerSlam and was immediately booted back down the card. I think this feud has real potential and I would book by having Ziggler dominate most of the match only for The Miz to steal a victory, setting up another match and letting them continue to exchange promos.


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