The Rope Break #5: Lucha Underground Returns, Smackdown, RAW & Extreme Rules Predictions!!

by Curtis Suthard – 6/2/2017

THE ROPE BREAK #5:

Lucha Underground Returns, Smackdown, RAW &

Extreme Rules Predictions

Hey there! It’s Curt, your friendly, neighborhood Pro-Wrestling Fan, back again with all sorts of views and opinions on recent goings on, as well as some predictions on the upcoming Raw-exclusive PPV, Extreme Rules! So, why wait? Let’s start with the return of Lucha Underground.

This week we returned to the Temple for some down and dirty wrestling action from Lucha Undergroud. And, to kick things off, we got an “All Night Long” match, for the championship, between the champ, Johnny Mundo and the always fun to watch, The Mack. Now for those of you who don’t know, an “All Night Long” match, is essentially an Iron-Man match, meaning that the entire match runs a set length of time (in this case, the length of the entire episode) and each pinfall or submission counts as a point. Whoever has the most points by the end of this preset length of time, wins the match.

And, what a great match it was! Mundo was the consummate heel and The Mack came off strong. There were plenty of run-ins and interference by each of the wrestler’s respective allies. Some fun chicanery, where Mundo crawled under the ring, only to reappear and seemingly run away to the back, with Mack quickly giving chase. Only to reveal that Mundo was still at ringside and it had been P.J. Black, all along, who lead Mack back to the ring and into an ambush from Mundo and a Kendo stick. Another highspot was when Sexy Star, who was posing as a member of the house band, dove off of the elevated stage onto Mundo and Black. There were also tables, ladders and a fun little sledding down the Temple stairs on a medical backboard. Not to mention that the match ended with a tie. Which sucked for a minute or two, until Dario stepped out to announce that the match would enter “Sudden Death” type rules, with the first pinfall or submission ending things, next week.

This was a great way to kick-off the second half of season 3, as well as a solid way to solidify and focus new fans of the product onto just one single, fun match. With Lucha Underground finally ending up on Netflix just recently, one would hope that there are people who have just discovered them and tuned in to get up-to-date with the program. Also, this (at least to me) was a bit of a boost for the return of the season, as, I felt that the first half of season 3 was not the strongest. There were some good things in those first 19 episodes, it just felt like the pace had slowed a bit from the first 2 seasons. Hopefully things pick up a bit more as we move forward. It’s looking good, so far.

Smackdown was also pretty good this week. Breezango had a fun backstage, taped segment and a win over the Colons. It seems WWE has noticed some potential there and are willing to devote some more time to Breeze and Fandango. Which is great! Except, I don’t know if I see a title-run coming out of all this. Usually, comedy acts don’t go too far in the overall scheme of things, when it comes to winning titles.

Speaking of the Tag Team Championships: The New Day finally, officially, debuted on Smackdown! Interrupting a good promo that the Usos were cutting in-ring, they announced, more or less, that they have a title match coming up at Smackdown’s Money in the Bank PPV. These two teams have had some great matches in the past, so no doubt that that trend will probably continue. Also, now it’s the Usos who are firmly established as the heels this time around and they have been doing really good in that role. So, that’s good news.

Speaking of Good News: A Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match was announced for the upcoming show of the same name, as well. That announcement was made by Shane McMahon, hot on the heels of an all-out brawl involving the five competitors who will be in the match; Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Carmella, Tamina and Natalya. I was a little down on Smackdown’s Women’s division last time around, but it is starting to grow on me. I still feel, overall, like its roster is a bit thin, but everybody’s stepping things up a bit and this announcement has definitely piqued my interest. I still think they need to bring in 1 or 2 more solid wrestlers to even things out a bit.

Other than that, this week’s Smackdown was a fun show; another Tag match, involving a couple of the members of the Men’s Money in the Bank match; Orton assured the fans that he was going to give Jinder Mahal a good, ol’ fashioned ‘Murican ass-whoopin’ at MitB; Ziggler won a match against A.J. Styles, of all things; the weekly Lana promo and still no Rusev.

Speaking of a weekly disappointment: Monday Night RAW! Most of the matches were solid. I actually thought that the Main Event with Roman Reigns VS. Seth Rollins was pretty good. So, it’s not the in-ring work that hurts RAW it’s (almost) everything else. The only backstage segment I really dug, was the whole mystery message that Corey Graves shared with GM Kurt Angle. Now, sure, this will all probably lead to the return of Stephanie McMahon. But, so what? It caught my attention and has potential.

The whole Enzo getting attacked again angle, on the other hand, has me worried. This could go one of 2 ways, which I see: 1) It’s The Revival! So yeah, the returning NXT call-ups having their first feud be with Enzo and Cass could be a good thing, but it also means that the team of Enzo and Cass will probably be suffering yet another string of losses and staying out of the title hunt. 2) It’s Big Cass! The worst of my two predictions here. I would not be shocked if the plans are to move Cass into the singles picture, by having him turn on his teammate. But, why beat him up backstage over and over? I hope this doesn’t happen just yet, as Enzo and Cass work very well together and complement each other pretty well in the ring and extremely well on the mic. And, of course if Enzo ends up getting hit by a car then I’ll enter this prediction: 3) It’s Rikishi and he did it for the Rock!

So now, the worst of the worst from Raw: That “Bayley, This is your life!” segment. I know everyone else, all over the internets has already torn the hell out of this segment so I’ll be very brief. It was simply one of the most drawn out, lifeless skits that has been done on RAW in the last few years. It’s a tired, old, clichéd gimmick and really didn’t help to add anything to this feud between Bliss and Bayley at all. It may have even helped to sour me just that much more to it. I mean, c’mon WWE, they’re already gearing up for a freakin’ “Kendo Stick on a Pole” match! UGH!

Which brings me to the gimmick heavy-

Extreme Rules 2017 Predictions

Rich Swann & Sasha Banks VS. Noam Dar & Alicia Fox: I have whined in almost each of these articles about how I wished that there was more crossover with the Cruiserweight division and the Main Roster in WWE. So, I guess now I got it and it’s lackluster, at best. Look, I’m sure that this could be a really good match and I like all of the wrestlers involved in it. But, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about. Sasha seeking revenge against her upset loss at the hands of Alicia Fox isn’t the most exciting reason for a feud ever and it takes Banks out of the Women’s title picture, for now. Swann is always fun and I’m sure he’ll be all high-energy and dancing and flipping and what-not. And, Dar? Oh, Noam Dar. Hopefully, WWE realizes that they’ve got a young, talented individual on their hands here and maybe decide to move him over to the UK division (once that’s up and running) or even NXT. Dar is solid in the ring and really fun to watch. We just haven’t gotten to see too much of that on 205 Live. Give him some time to build a character/personality and clean up his mic work and you’ve got a potential star in the making.

My Pick: Rich Swann & Sasha Banks

Austin Aries VS. Neville (Cruiserweight Championship Submission Match): Neville, the “King of the Cruiserweights” and the guy who has benefitted the most from the implementation of the Cruiserweight division, is due for a dethroning. This feud has been good. But, the only way in which I see that they can breathe some new life into it, is to finally hand the title off to Aries. Maybe that won’t happen? In which case, the feud should end and Aries needs to make way for another competitor to step up to the plate and challenge for the title. Otherwise, we just end up with a never-ending feud that, ultimately, will end up hurting Neville, as well as Aries, in the long run. The “undefeated streak”-type storyline only works if you constantly throw new and different opponents up against the champ and the “endless battle between two rivals”-type of feud only works when you mix things up a bit and the other guy eventually gets the win.

My Pick: Austin Aries

Sheamus & Cesaro VS. The Hardy Boyz (Tag Team Championship Steel Cage Match): The Hardy Boyz surprise return and winning of the Tag titles at Wrestlemania was a highlight of that show, for me. Their feud with Sheamus and Cesaro, along with that team’s heel-turn, have been a lot of fun. This match probably won’t end that feud and, so, I don’t see the Hardy Boyz dropping the belts just yet. Which makes sense (to me at least). The Revival are just returning to action after Dash Wilder got injured recently and may need some time to reintroduce themselves and establish their right to demand a title shot, probably going through Enzo and Cass first. Who knows what the heck is going on with The Club? So, what other team does that leave? Rhyno and Slater? So, continuing this feud is possibly the focus for the Tag division going forward until Summerslam or so.

I expect that we’ll see some craziness (though, not too crazy, this is WWE after all). Along with probably Jeff and/or Cesaro making a leap off of the cage. I know some people are hoping that maybe something big will happen to Matt Hardy, leading to the introduction of his “Broken”-gimmick, but I just don’t think we will, or should, see that happen. For starters, there is a whole dispute between the Hardys and TNA about ownership and stuff, so that’s not going to get cleared up before Sunday night. Sure, WWE could maybe do something similar to the “Broken”-gimmick but I don’t think they’d want do that until everything is cleared up. Plus, WWE could royally screw up the whole angle by having the wrong people muck about with it, instead of leaving it in Matt Hardy’s capable and mad hands.

My Pick: The Hardy Boyz

The Miz (w/ Maryse) VS. Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental Championship): The little stipulation for this match is that if Dean Ambrose gets disqualified, he loses the title to The Miz. These two had a great feud going for them over on Smackdown and due to the “Superstar Shake-up”, shaking things up, they both got drafted to RAW, where they continued that feud. Yay, I guess? Look, I like The Miz and everything that he has been doing lately. I like Dean Ambrose a lot as well. I just don’t really care anymore. If these two guys are just going to trade this title off for the foreseeable future, I might be checking out on the both of them. Much like I said before, in my opinions about the Cruiserweight title match, something needs to be done different with this feud or, better yet, it needs to end.

Have Dean lose the title due to some technicality-type nonsense, get a rematch at the next big show (or, maybe just the following RAW), lose that through some screwiness and move on to something different. Move Dean up a little higher in the ranks, setting him up for a part in the title picture for next year. Feuding with some of the guys who don’t win in the Fatal Five Way Match. Maybe Samoa Joe or Rollins or Reigns, for now? Ambrose needs a change of pace because he has gotten kind of stale.

Then allow The Miz to shoulder the IC title for a while and help build up some of those other bottom of the barrel guys that RAW has in abundance right now, like Apollo Crews or Kalisto even (that hurt typing that) or maybe someone who gets an NXT call up in the future. Hell, he’d be great working with someone like Big Cass or Cesaro or Jeff Hardy, if any of those guys split from their Tag Teams and go solo. The Miz should act as a gatekeeper enhancement talent. Working with some of the other guys on the roster to gain experience, as well as some exposure in a bid to win the audience and move further up the ranks.

My Pick: The Miz

Bayley VS. Alexa Bliss (RAW Women’s Championship – Kendo Stick on a Pole Match): Initially, I was thinking that Bliss had this one in the bag. But, that segment from the last RAW really soured me to this whole match. Like I mentioned before, it already had the whole “something” on a pole gimmick going for it, that, I was hoping, in 2017 we were through with in pro-wrestling or at least in WWE. But, alas, here we go again. So, whoever gets the kendo stick doesn’t automatically win, they just get to use it as much as they like, but still have to get a pinfall or submission in order to win. Of course, if the person who retrieves the stick happens to drop it and the opponent picks it up, they can use it as well.

Like I said, I was all for Bliss winning this, but just as I started typing this one up, I started to have my doubts. I mean Bliss has been getting a leg up on Bayley almost every week, so maybe it’s about time for Bayley to come out on top. But, nah, I’m sticking with my original pick. Bayley will, in the end, get the title back, probably at Summerslam, but Bliss is going to reign supreme for now. Plus, this gives a little time for Sasha Banks to get built back up for that inevitable heel-turn that she will probably unveil by attacking Bayley after she regains the title.

My Pick: Alexa Bliss

Samoa Joe VS. Seth Rollins VS. Roman Reigns VS. Bray Wyatt VS. Finn Balor (Fatal Five Way #1 Contender’s Match): Whew! This is a tough one. Who would I most like to see move on to challenge the champ, Brock Lesnar at (ugh) Great Balls of Fire? Why Samoa Joe, of course. But, I don’t see that happening. Joe would be great and comes off as a real, competent threat to Lesnar, in my mind. But, it won’t happen. So, who?

Well, the money seems to be on either Rollins or Balor. And, while I like Rollins, I’m not sure he’s going to get that push just yet. So, Balor? Sure, it seems that this is the direction that things are going, with that whole Heyman confronting Balor segment from the other week, but still, I’m not convinced. I like Finn and the whole “David VS. Goliath”-angle that would be played up with the match. But, could something be built out of the inevitable loss that he WILL suffer against Lesnar that would benefit him in the long run? I mean, sure things could turn out differently and instead of it being a one-sided affair, where Lesnar squashes Balor, Finn could end up giving the champ a run for his money before eventually failing, only to gain some insight and determination to challenge Lesnar once more, further down the line. The main issue here, with this match, is that I don’t see the outcome necessarily being a good thing, as I do not see the #1 contender that comes out of this match beating Lesnar next month.

And, yes, I have, more or less, written off both Reigns and Wyatt. I’d love to see Wyatt move up and even win a title again. I just do not see it happening with a victory over Lesnar. And for a good Wyatt feud to work, with really anyone, the opponent needs to be present every week for Wyatt to toy with and play his mindgames on. And, Lesnar isn’t a weekly kinda guy.

So, Reigns? Maybe. But, I don’t think so. Roman is continuing to play up the injured ribs or shoulder or whatever thing, which gives him an excuse as to why he will not be 100% on his game in this match. Plus, I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was some interruption or interference by Strowman, though he is out due to injury.

Maybe in the end we’ll get some screwy ending where two of the competitors pin different opponents and get a three count at the same time, making the title match at Great Balls of Fire a Triple-Threat match. Or, maybe, there is no title defense at Great Balls of Fire, instead there is a one-on-one to determine the sole #1 contender for Summerslam and Lesnar is just scheduled to appear for a stare down. I’m not sure and that is exciting for a change, so I am looking forward to this one.

My Pick: Finn Balor

So, there we have it. Check back here Monday for my review and see how I did with these predictions. If you think I am dead-wrong about anything or just want to complain or call me horrible names, you can feel free to give it to me at jack@nerdnationradio.com

If you want to instead tell me how great I am or anything else really you can do so at curt@nerdnationradio.com

Until next time, I am off to set an alarm for the wee hours of the morning to catch the finals of the Best of Super Juniors and cheer on my pick for the tournament winner: KUSHIDA!