Smackdown – December 22, 2015

Smackdown
Date: December 22, 2015
Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
Commentators: Michael Cole, Booker T., Jerry Lawler

This is the special live show that follows the age of rule of “don’t have a show on Christmas Eve”. It’s also a stacked show as WWE tries to get some more attention on Smackdown before the move to the live broadcast just after the new year. Therefore we have two title matches as Dean Ambrose and the New Day defend their titles. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – December 22, 2015

Smackdown – December 17, 2015

Smackdown
Date: December 17, 2015
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Booker T., Rich Brennan

It’s kind of amazing to see how fast things have gone from boring to a lot more entertaining in the span of a few days. Going into Sunday’s pay per view, things were ice cold and had nowhere to go but up. Now things are hot again with a new World Champion in Roman Reigns as we’ve hit the road to the Royal Rumble running. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – December 17, 2015

Smackdown – December 10, 2015

Smackdown
Date: December 10, 2015
Location: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Jacksonville, Florida
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Jerry Lawler, Booker T.

It’s the go home show for Tables Ladders and Chairs and the show isn’t looking like the most interesting in the world. Most of the card is set though and that means tonight is all about the build. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more about the main event, which is a bit of a shame as Smackdown was getting good about building up the midcard. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – December 10, 2015

Smackdown – December 3, 2015

Smackdown
Date: December 3, 2015
Location: Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Booker T., Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan

Things started to pick up a bit on Monday as we saw the formation of a new team in the League of Nations. This gives Reigns some more odds to overcome (again) as he gets ready for his second shot at Sheamus in a week and a half at TLC. The only match tonight is Bray Wyatt vs. Bubba Ray Dudley. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – December 3, 2015

Smackdown – November 26, 2015

Smackdown
Date: November 26, 2015
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Booker T., Rich Brennan, Jerry Lawler

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving. We’re in a strange period at the moment as we’re waiting on TLC and the fans don’t seem to be thrilled. Sheamus is World Champion again as Roman Reigns somehow managed to get screwed out of the title again. Those five minutes he held the title were the only five minutes a true good guy had held the title since Summerslam 2014. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – November 26, 2015

Smackdown – November 19, 2015

Smackdown
Date: November 19, 2015
Location: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tennessee
Commentators: Booker T., Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan

It’s the final show before Survivor Series and the big draw tonight is the four semifinalists in the WWE World Title tournament appearing on MizTV. For some reason I have a feeling this winds up in a tag match, even though the heels should walk out on it immediately to prevent too much damage before this Sunday. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – November 19, 2015

Smackdown – October 29, 2015

Smackdown
Date: October 29, 2015
Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan, Booker T.

We’re coming off a good Raw and we now have a fresh #1 contender in Roman Reigns. The other big story however is Bray Wyatt kidnapping both the Undertaker and Kane in order to feast on their souls. It’s pretty clear that this is leading to a Survivor Series match but the Brothers of Destruction need partners. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – October 29, 2015

Smackdown – October 22, 2015

Smackdown
Date: October 22, 2015
Location: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas
Commentators: Booker T., Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan

It’s the final show before Hell in a Cell and we might get some build towards the World Title match after it got little more than lip service on Monday. Aside from that I’d assume we’re in for a lot of video packages on the other big matches and maybe another cryptic promo from Bray, possibly including the prophecy he was supposed to give on Monday. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – October 22, 2015

Smackdown – October 15, 2015

Smackdown
Date: October 15, 2015
Location: US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Jerry Lawler, Booker T.

Somehow we’re ten days away from Hell in a Cell and it’s time to put the finishing touches on the build. The announced main event for tonight is hometown boy Dean Ambrose teaming up with the Dudleyz to fight New Day in a bit of a preview for the pay per view. We might even get more speculation of what Cena is going to do there as well. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – October 15, 2015

Smackdown – October 8, 2015

Smackdown
Date: October 8, 2015
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Booker T., Jerry Lawler

Things look a bit different coming out of Raw as New Day got all aggressive and violent to end the show. They even left John Cena and a few others laying in their first real display of dominance. It should be interesting to see where they go from here as they’ve been so goofy but now they have a new edge. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – October 8, 2015

Smackdown – October 1, 2015

Smackdown
Date: October 1, 2015
Location: Times Union Center, Albany, New York
Commentators: Booker T., Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan

Oh joy it’s another Smackdown. We’re getting closer to the show moving to USA in January, meaning the show is the same lame duck that it’s been for years now. I’m really hoping this show gets a new life on the new network but for some reason WWE is perfectly happy to have the show just exist on Fridays with nothing important happening. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – October 1, 2015

Smackdown – September 24, 2015

Smackdown
Date: September 24, 2015
Location: American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan, Booker T.

We’re getting closer to Kane vs. Rollins, likely inside the Cell, as they blow off their feud from months ago on a show where the other Cell match is the real main event. Then again, given that the World Champion is coming off two losses in two days (though he did beat a 56 year old), maybe it’s better that he isn’t main eventing. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – September 24, 2015

Smackdown – September 17, 2015

Smackdown
Date: September 17, 2015
Location: Verizon Arena, Little Rock, Arkansas
Commentators: Booker T., Jerry Lawler, Rich Brennan

It’s the final show before Night of Champions 2015 and that likely means we’ll be focusing on the midcard matches. If the past few Smackdowns before pay per views are any indications, that means it’s likely going to be about Ambrose/Reigns vs. the Wyatts while they tease who the third man might be. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – September 17, 2015

Smackdown – September 10, 2015

Smackdown
Date: September 10, 2015
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Booker T., Jerry Lawler

We finally got to the point and had Sting destroy the statue on Raw to end the teasing for the last few weeks. Other than that we also have John Cena vs. Seth Rollins II coming up, which should be a better match and might even get us the US Open Challenges back on Raw. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – September 10, 2015

Smackdown – September 3, 2015

Smackdown
Date: September 3, 2015
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Commentators: Rich Brennan, Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Uso

This seems like it’s going to be another midcard heavy episode as the main event players, save for the champion, who is arguably the lowest of the three people involved in the story, who is known to slum it here on Smackdown. The only major event announced is Lana and Dolph Ziggler appearing on MizTV. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – September 3, 2015

Smackdown – August 27, 2015

Smackdown
Date: August 27, 2015
Location: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, Rhode Island
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Uso, Rich Brennan

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen tonight as the big story coming out of Raw is the return of Sting, who I can’t imagine is going to be here tonight. There’s always a chance of some fresh Wyatt Family stuff, as this show has become the main ground for the Shield vs. Wyatts feud, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – August 27, 2015

Smackdown – August 20, 2015

Smackdown
Date: August 20, 2015
Location: Resch Center Hall, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Uso

It’s the final show before Summerslam, meaning it’s time to find out how many times they can talk about Brock vs. Undertaker in about an hour and a half. It’s going to be a mixture of matches getting the hype this week as the main event is an eight man tag with three feuds being combined into one match. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – August 20, 2015

Smackdown – August 13, 2015

Smackdown
Date: August 13, 2015
Location: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Uso, Tom Phillips

With Summerslam closing in, there’s little more than window dressing to go. John Cena is officially in the main event as confirmed on Tough Enough, meaning we’re going to be getting that title for title match against Seth Rollins. Smackdown is getting harder and harder to predict, but Summerslam could use some more midcard buildup. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – August 13, 2015

Smackdown – August 6, 2015

Smackdown
Date: August 5, 2015
Location: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California
Commentators: Jimmy Uso, Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler

Summerslam is mostly set at this point so it’s time for another supplemental show that can help firm up the midcard a little bit. We aren’t likely to see much in the main event scene tonight after everything we saw on Monday, but that’s what Smackdown does these days. The show has been fun lately so hopefully that keeps going. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – August 6, 2015

New E-Book: NXT – The Full Sail Years Volume I

NXT

In today’s wrestling world, it’s very common to see the exact same formula over and over with very few changes. A lot of fans are looking for something fresh and it’s hard to find that anywhere. However, one place that you can find it is outside the top level. Down in Florida in the WWE developmental promotion, there is good, old fashioned, week to week wrestling and it’s some of the best stuff going today. I’m sure you’re familiar with names like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, Neville and Charlotte, but how did they get their starts down there?

In this book, I’ll be looking at every the first year and a half of NXT, starting with their arrival in Florida at Full Sail University and wrapping it up just before they head over to the WWE Network. NXT started fast and quickly became one of the best wrestling shows around and it will be interesting to see how they got to where they are now. As usual I’ll be providing play by play, context and analysis of every show.

The books runs over 400 pages on a Kindle and only costs $3.99, or the equivalent in other currencies. If you don’t have a Kindle or e-book reader, there are several FREE apps you can use to read it on pretty much any electronic device. You can find those from Amazon here.

You can pick up the book from Amazon here.

From the UK Amazon here.

From the Canadian Amazon here.

Or if you’re in another country with its own Amazon page, just search “NXT History” and my book will be the first thing that pop up.

Also you can still get any of my previous books on the WWE Championship, Monday Night Raw from 1998 and 2001, Monday Nitro from 1995-June 1998, In Your House, Summerslam, Starrcade, ECW Pay Per Views, Royal Rumble, Saturday Night’s Main Event, the WWF and WCW pay per views from 1998 and Clash of the Champions at my author’s page here.

I hope you like it and shoot me any questions you might have.

KB

Pushed vs. Organically Over

Hi Scott,

The question you recently answered about what the fans perception of a wrestler’s position on the card does to their drawing power was an interesting one and got me thinking about the nuances of general fan responses and drawing power.

My primary question is, to what extent can WWE, as a well-oiled machine of a brand at this point, succeed in making a wrestler a draw by sheer will of a push? By that I mean when it comes to the conversations we’re constantly having about guys the fans want to root for vs. guys the company wants to push, how much success can be had by forcing somebody down our throats? Maybe the best recent example of this is Bryan vs. Reigns, but it’s tough to argue we’ve seen the end result of that.

Looking at older examples, it’s clear that a plainly inorganic push rarely gets over. Sheamus, for instance, didn’t become a draw no matter how hard WWE has tried with him. With guys who started getting over and then saw resistance, however, their have been big successes- Cena being the obvious one. So how much of Cena’s success in terms of drawing power can be attributed to the fact that he’s been pushed relentlessly for a decade, regardless of how crowds respond to him?

I know this is a complex one, but I suppose the heart of this issue is the question of whether or not Cena would draw the way he does if he had, say the marketing structure of 1990s WWF behind him, as opposed to the powerhouse he has behind him now… Would he be a true top draw as Austin and Rock became, or would his divisive reactions limit him to being a temporary fix kind of guy, the way Bret was? It’s worth pointing out that while Cena’s been the top draw for a decade, and while he’s been a (the?) central part of top drawing events like WrestleMania’s 29 and 23, the business as a whole has basically only declined in terms of pop cultural cache during his tenure.

Can Reigns become as successful even if he’s destined to never escape the Let’s Go Roman/Roman Sucks zone? Conversely, how seriously effected is the ceiling of the likes of organically over guys like Punk and Bryan, given that neither ever seemed particularly interesting to the WWE brass?

Thanks 

Quite the loaded question.  I think actually if this was still the 80s, Cena would have gotten over like gangbusters in the NWA, whereas Sheamus would have been the big star in the WWF in the Rick Rude/Ted Dibiase/Don Muraco top-ish heel slot.  Strange as it sounds, I think Cena would have been too small for 80s WWF, and probably wouldn’t have gotten a second chance without a Paul Heyman to fight for him.  And regardless of the marketing behind him, people pay to see Cena and react to him as a top guy, so eventually if you push a guy like that the momentum becomes a kind of perpetual motion machine, ya know? 

As for Reigns, I have no idea anymore.  It seems like they think they can have him tread water for months and then re-heat him by winning the Rumble again and then finally winning the World title at Wrestlemania, but obviously this was misguided the FIRST time they tried it and Reigns, although becoming more accepted as a babyface by the fans, has lost whatever momentum he once had earlier in the year. 

In short, who knows, man?

Smackdown – July 9, 2015

Smackdown
Date: July 9, 2015
Location: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Jimmy Uso, Jerry Lawler

We’re back after this Monday’s classic of Cena vs. Cesaro and Lesnar squashing a Cadillac with….maybe Cesaro and Rollins if we’re lucky. My guess is we’ll get more of a focus on Reigns vs. Wyatt, which is a far more interesting story than the World Title situation. Hopefully the wrestling will be good. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – July 9, 2015