By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Here Comes The Pain
– The opening video hyped the big triple-threat Fastlane main event between Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar – “Brother Vs. Brother Vs. Beast,” if you will. The video primarily focused on Ambrose talking about being in the “fight of his life” and how him wanting Lesnar turned into suffering an F5, Stephanie McMahon style, when she made him defend his WWE Intercontinental Championship against four other men and ended up losing the belt to Kevin Owens without even being pinned. The main question was what the Title loss did to Ambrose’s psyche.
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
The Phenomenal Two
– SmackDown’s beginning to carve its own identity, with a solid three-man broadcast team possessing esteemed credibility and actual matches hyped from Raw, case in point, the AJ Styles-Chris Jericho rematch. We were assumedly getting the match as the main event, so it was surprising to see Jericho come out so soon. His starting promo was good for being the match intro, as he talked about this night being important for him because he’d finally get his rematch and expressed how he respected Styles, but didn’t like him. Even liked him bringing up how he was in Portland, Oregon and how he had the match of his career in 2008 in the same building against Shawn Michaels, taunting Styles with the line that “phenomenal wasn’t good enough for Y2J.” The match was about to start and out came The Social Outcasts (sans Bo Dallas) of all people and we were pretty sure where this was heading, since it’s SmackDown and all. The Teddy Long Special… On that note, pretty rough night on the mic for SO, who fell flat with their comedy attempts, even if “Axel Rose” was a cool take on Guns N’ Roses. Luckily, Jericho put an end to that and it was on to impromptu tag action.
By Anthony Zevoteck
Anybody who religiously watches NXT should know the names Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady by heart.
Regarded by many as the brand’s most recognizable team, “Enzo and Big Cass” have both amazed and amused with a collection of excellent tag team skills, in-ring work and some of the most entertaining promos we’ve ever seen, spewing catchphrases like a modern-day New Age Outlaws.
With catchy, New Yorker-esque charismatic lines like “Bada boom, realest guys in the room!” and “You can’t teach that,” it didn’t take long for them to gain a massive fan following and since then, they’d been propelled to the NXT Tag Team Division’s frontline, involved in major storylines last year with a few Title shots thrown their way.
Despite that, they’ve yet to capture the brand’s most coveted tag prize and that’s surprising to NXT fans, who’ve been patiently waiting for Team SAWFT to get their Championship time.
Recent NXT TV tells us the signs are pointing to Enzo/Cass challenging current Champions Scott Dawson/Dash Wilder in the near future, maybe during NXT: TakeOver: Dallas during WrestleMania weekend.
They’re due their run and NXT Creative needs to make this happen before a main roster call-up.
However, if they lose this next Title shot, what’s next for them?
Surely, many fans want to see them compete on the main roster amongst the likes of WWE World Tag Team Champions, The New Day, Lucha Dragons and The Usos, but we wonder if that’s the best course of action right now.
The main roster comes with perks like national TV exposure and more money, but with NXT regarded as wrestling’s hottest brand, they can afford to stay behind and help build NXT’s “boom period.” What this also does is help them further establish teams that’ll eventually take their place.
Since they’ve yet to win gold on NXT, why call them up? Until they get the chance to carry the NXT Tag Division on their backs, it’s not time. They have a swarm of fan support, but seemingly not that of the folks behind the scenes enough to give them the belts.
The NXT Tag Division has suddenly been revived with believable newcomers like Dash/Dawson, The Vaudevillains, Blake/Murphy and American Alpha, making it much an even playing field. You’re telling us you wouldn’t want to see an American Alpha-Team SAWFT feud?
Don’t get it wrong, Enzo/Cass should see the main roster this year, just not now.
Since last year’s post-SummerSlam Raw had a good share of surprises, why not do a similar angle where the current Tag Champs (maybe New Day at this rate) brag about their latest victory, only for Enzo/Cass to step out and give the promo of their life? Since the show’s slated to be in Brooklyn, NY once again and based off the reaction they had last time in BK, it sets up a moment that’ll be sure to cement their careers for the better.
Perhaps they’re holding off on the call-up until Enzo/Cass’ manager, Carmella (Cassady’s real-life girlfriend) has a chance to get a push of her own, currently happening since she’s #1 Contender to the NXT Women’s Championship. It’d be wise to allow her to continue blossoming into a serious in-ring threat, this way once Team SAWFT gets called up, they can brandish a Tag Title reign and be more “over.”
Every dog gets their day and we’re almost sure these Tristate dogs will get theirs, but for now, let’s enjoy NXT while it’s still SAWFT, eh?
New Year’s Revolutions
– The opening video highlighted Vince McMahon getting arrested by the New York Police Department after WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns shoved him to the ground when he made semi-racist remarks about how he exploited his older relatives for money. Reigns saved John Cena from a League Of Nations beatdown when McMahon suddenly dropped the bomb that he’d defend his Title on the following week with himself as the special guest referee.
– The WWE World Tag Team Championships match between the Champions, The New Day and The Lucha Dragons started with another New Day promo that centered around renamed Christmas carols. The match involved Kofi Kingston/Big E with Xavier Woods at ringside. Great effort from everyone here in perhaps their best bout to date. The finish was Woods providing enough distraction to help Big E hit the Big Ending. Sin Cara appeared to take a nasty face bump on a suicide dive which will be sure to grace the latest Botchamania reel. Hope he’s okay. Lucha Dragons were solid in the ring and their comeback was believable, but we figured New Day was going over.
– The opening video chronicled the newsworthy Raw that ended with Roman Reigns overcoming Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon, Sheamus and The League Of Nations to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion with his job on the line. The question was how Smackdown would follow up a hot Raw.
A Whole New Reigns
– Coming off TLC’s well-done closing angle where Roman Reigns snapped Brock Lesnar style and injured his boss Triple H after getting screwed over again by The League Of Nations helping WWE World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus retain in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, we were eager to see how The Authority would go about likely firing Reigns even though we knew that’d never actually happen. As for the video, it sold Reigns’ snap perfectly with the close-ups and chair shot sound effects.
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Ah, TLC… WWE’s hardcore smorgasbord of the calendar year if you don’t already count Extreme Rules in that category.
Affected by a stagnant creative direction and misguided booking decisions that made you wonder whether the company was going for laughs or their logic was “It’s so bad, it’s good,” we went into this show with incredibly low expectations, set forth by the horrendous buildup of the Raws and Smackdowns between Survivor Series and now.
That said, this show will be remembered for its start and finish.
Let’s get to the exciting stuff.