Articles by Jason Powell

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WWE announces a Raw match

WWE has announced Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson for tonight’s Raw television show. Powell’s POV: The match timing is interesting in that it’s taking place…

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5/22 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson, Goldust and R-Truth split follow up, the build to Extreme Rules continues

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena

[Q1] Raw opened with video package that focussed on the five-way match with Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules with the winner earning a title shot against Brock Lesnar… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T. The ring announcer was JoJo…

Bray Wyatt made his entrance while the broadcast team hyped the Extreme Rules main event and recapped Joe interfering in the Wyatt vs. Rollins match last week, and Wyatt performing Sister Abigail on both men after the match.

“Stand up,” Wyatt said several times to start his promo. He told the fans to stand up and rejoice in him as their one true savior. “The Beast cometh,” he said. “The Beast is all around us, man. The Beast, he lives in each and every one of you.” Wyatt said he will rip open the chest of The Beast and feed on his black heart. Wyatt said The Beast will die a most magnificent death at his hands.

Wyatt said four men sill suffer at Extreme Rules, while he begins his brilliant crusade to slay the best once and for all. “I alone can protect you,” Wyatt said. He mocked the idea of fans thinking Seth Rollins can protect them. Wyatt said he sacrificed Rollins and Joe. Wyatt said there are no friends in his world, only followers. Wyatt said to ask Finn Balor. Fans cheered. Wyatt said the fans try to live vicariously through Balor, “but even the Demon himself will see the truth” which is that only he can slay The Beast.

Wyatt said there is a fifth. Fans booed and then booed louder when Wyatt mentioned Roman Reigns by name. He asked what one silly yard means to a man who owns the world. Wyatt said this is his world. Roman’s entrance music interrupted Wyatt, and he walked to the ring, still with his shoulder wrapped.

Reigns said that if Wyatt is going to run his mouth in his yard, he should do it to his face. Wyatt laughed maniacally and said, “It’s good to see you too, old friend.” Wyatt said he is the only one who can beat Lesnar. Reigns said it’s not going to happen because he will be the one who wins the five-way and beats Lesnar. Reigns said he wasn’t worried about Extreme Rules, he was concerned with getting Wyatt’s “ass out of my yard.”

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance and played to the fans on the stage. Angle said the five-way may be the most important match of the new era. Angle said he wants to know who will carry the momentum going into Extreme Rules. Angle booked Reigns vs. Wyatt for “right now.” Angle called for a referee… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Jinder Mahal’s championship celebration…

Powell’s POV: Wyatt came off a bit like King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead. It wasn’t a lousy promo, and The Beast talk is somewhat effective in hyping Lesnar’s return, but there was a campiness to all of his talk about slaying the beast. On the plus side, I like that they hyped the five-way right out of the gate and they are doing a good job of making it feel like a big main event.

[Q2] 1. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt. Cole said this was a renewal of a great rivalry and recalled Wyatt preventing Reigns from winning Money in the Bank and then the two of them feuding to a Hell in a Cell match. Both men were down nearly four minutes into the match when Samoa Joe’s entrance theme played and he headed to the ring. Joe looked at both men and jawed at Wyatt, who sat in the corner.

Reigns got to his feet and Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch. Reigns broke it by backing Joe into the corner. Wyatt attacked Reigns, only to have Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch. Seth Rollins ran out and ended up clearing Joe from the ring with a dropkick. Wyatt charged at Rollins only to take a Superman Punch from Reigns. Reigns and Rollins looked at one another while the heels were at ringside…

Roman Reigns beat Bray Wyatt by DQ in 4:40.

Cole hyped Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson. He noted their relationship goes back years, but said it would now be adversarial. Graves hyped Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus with the winner determining the stipulation for the Hardys vs. Sheamus and Cesaro match at Extreme Rules… [C]

Powell’s POV: I assume the opening match is setting up a tag team match for later in the show since they kept the match so brief. One positive about Wyatt right now is that his character is more straight forward and seems to have abandoned the hocus pocus silliness we saw throughout his feud with Randy Orton.

Backstage, Reigns told Rollins that he didn’t need his help. Rollins said he was there for Joe, not to help Reigns. Angle showed up and booked them against Joe and Wyatt in the main event. Both men nodded in agreement.

After Reigns and Rollins walked off, “The Drifter” Elias Samson strolled into the picture strumming his guitar. Angle said Samson has been trying to get his attention for a long time. He booked Samson in his first Raw match against Dean Ambrose. Samson went back to playing the guitar…

[Q3] 2. Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari. Brian Kendrick was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor while Cole hyped Tozawa vs. Kendrick in a street fight for 205 Live. Cole asked if Kendrick was looking for pointers. Kendrick said he’s the teacher and Tozawa is the student.

Daivari turned Tozawa inside out with a clothesline during the opening minute. Graves asked if Kendrick was impressed with Tozawa. Kendrick said the only thing Tozawa does better than him are his stupid chants. Tozawa put Daivari down and performed a top rope senton for the win. Kendrick said he was impressed, but not as impressed as everyone will be when he destroys Tozawa in their street fight…

Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari in 2:05.

Graves hyped Ambrose vs. Samson for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Tozawa got major air on the senton finisher, which looked great live and even cooler on the replay. I’m anxious to see how Samson does with a fresh start on the main roster. His NXT run was disappointing, but hopefully they’ve tweaked things a bit. I like that he’s been playing the guitar backstage and I’m hopeful that he won’t be singing in the ring even if it is easy heat. There’s something dark and brooding about him in these backstage segments that may disappear if he starts singing again.

Backstage, Charly Caruso asked Sasha Banks how she was approaching her rubber match with Alicia Fox. She said it was like a get out of jail free card and was happy to be finished with the crazy bat and her boyfriend. Fox and Noam Dar showed up. Dar said he had another name for The Boss, but when Sasha pushed for it, he said he wouldn’t tell her…

JoJo introduced Samson, who sat on a stood in the ring and played his guitar and sang about how fans could say goodbye to the Lunatic on his last night. Ambrose’s music interrupted him and he made his entrance…

3. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Elias Samson in a non-title match. The Miz and Maryse sat in on commentary. Samson had Ambrose down with his head under the ropes. Samson performed a running knee to the head of Ambrose and then smiled heading into a break. [C]

[Q4] Ambrose battle back after the break. Ambrose went up top for his elbow and leapt into a great knee to the face from Samson. Elias covered Ambrose, who countered into a pin of his own for a two count. Ambrose performed the Lunatic Lariat. The Miz ran to the ring while both men were down. Miz struck Samson while Graves put it over as a brilliant move in that it resulted in Ambrose being disqualified. Ambrose chased Miz around the ring and then back inside it. Samson performed a neckbreaker on Ambrose. Miz applauded Samson from the stage…

Elias Samson defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ in 9:50.

Cole hyped the Ambrose vs. Miz match and the stipulation that Ambrose will lose the title if he is disqualified… Graves hyped Balor vs. Anderson for after the break… Backstage, a referee led Big Cass to a Enzo Amore, who was laid out on the ground. Cass asked what happened and told the ref to go get help… [C]

Powell’s POV: The knee to the face of the leaping Ambrose looked terrific, but it was wiped out immediately when Ambrose just came right back with a counter pin and his lariat. Overall, though, a solid debut for Samson. The singing gimmick doesn’t do anything for me, but there’s no denying it gets heat. However, it remains to be seen whether it’s good heat or the go away heat that he received at times during his NXT run.

Backstage, EMTs were tending to Amore while Cass and Angle stood by. Enzo didn’t remember who attacked him. Angle told him they would get to the bottom of it, then Enzo was helped out of the picture by the EMTs. Cass said Angle better hope that he finds out who did it before he does…

Powell’s POV: Someone doing God’s work? Er, are they setting up the return of The Revival? Dash Wilder has been sidelined for five weeks. He was expected to miss eight weeks, but they could still do an angle leading to the return of Wilder and tag partner Scott Dawson.

Finn Balor made his entrance for the match against Karl Anderson. Balor started to deliver an in-ring promo.

[Q5] Paul Heyman interrupted Balor. Heyman said that if Wyatt won the five-way at Extreme Rules, Brock Lesnar would paint Wyatt as a victim. Heyman brought up Rollins and said Lesnar would make him a “freakin’ victim.” Heyman said Samoa Joe is a hired mercenary and a badass, but he’s a victim against Lesnar.

Heyman mentioned “the one that laid the Dead Man down.” Heyman said Reigns is the odds on favorite. Heyman climbed onto the ring apron after saying Reigns would be Lesnar’s victim. Heyman asked Balor if he could enter the ring. “Please,” Balor replied. Heyman said Balor is nobody’s victim. Heyman said Balor is not an underdog either. “They may not see you coming, but I see you coming,” Heyman said.

Gleed’s Blog: A standard weekend for British wrestling on the big WWE stage

By Haydn Gleed

Editor’s Note: This blog was written prior to the news of the explosion(s) that took place in Manchester, England earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the area.

For years, I’ve been being ringing the bell like a crazed town crier for people to watch the wrestling coming out of the British isles, so you can imagine how pleased I was watching firstly the WWE UK Special on Friday and the outstanding UK Championship match on NXT Takeover: Chicago on Saturday. Don’t worry, this isn’t a pat myself on the back blog.

I’ll admit that I was slightly nervous going into Friday. After all the buzz coming out of the UK Championship tournament, it was important that the follow up wasn’t the preverbal difficult second album for the brand. Four months had passed since the original show so would people still remember some of the stars of the show and most importantly would they care? Fair play to WWE for keeping the bigger stars in the minds of the Network audience with appearances on NXT and 205 Live, but there was still a chance that without the crutch of novelty and a tournament that the show would be more 205 Live than the Cruiserweight Classic.

I needn’t have worried.

The show started with a good match between two wrestlers who I see propping up the mid-card of any kind of weekly brand that told a good story inside the ring, and then finished with a high flying high impact match with a title on the line that they consistently built up through the course of the night as being the reason every wrestler was in the company to fight for. Basic but effective stuff.

Over the course of the weekend, it was clear that the biggest star to come out of this is Pete Dunne. I remember watching him wrestle at an independent show 18 months ago and thought to myself he’s got the basics down and is already a very good wrestler, but there didn’t seem to be anything beyond that. In interviews he’s done, he’s said that before he got the gimmick of the Bruiserweight clear in his head, he was spinning his wheels not really knowing what his character was. Boy, has he worked that out in spades. From the disrespect to the title by biting it to the sneers that he gives the fans at ringside, everything this man does makes you want to punch him in the face. In 2017, there’s not a lot of heels who can make you feel that way. One of my favorite moments from him over the whole weekend was after a tough fight with Trent Seven where it was clear he only won by the skin of his teeth, as the third tap of the mat signaled a hard fought win, he just shrugged as if to say, “I was in control the whole time.” It was intended to make the viewers at home shout at the TV, “It wasn’t as easy as that you bastard” and in my opinion it worked.

Going into the weekend, I thought that Tyler Bate would be a good champion to start a weekly UK brand because it gives the show a likable babyface to build around. The logic I had in my head was I believed that he would be marketable as the face of the brand and someone you want to see take on all comers and come out on top. However, after what transpired over the weekend, I’ve done a complete 180. Having Dunne as the heel you want to see someone beat facing the babyfaces and not just scrapping by but proving that he is as damn good as he thinks but is so arrogant about it the fans hate him for it. This will eventually lead to printing money when someone does finally topple him.

Despite the wonderful showcase of what British talent can do being on full display over the top night, the next steps are the most important. If the brand does go the weekly TV show route then there’s no denying that they need a clear idea of what the show is going to be. Are they going to have an NXT type feel where it’s squash matches showcasing the top talent and a quarterly special where feuds are settled? Or is it going to be a regular WWE show with angles and star vs star matches? On top of that, I do echo the feeling that the current talent pool is a little shallow. With Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, and Mark Andrews you have the basis of a good main event section of the roster if you will, but what’s underneath them? Wolfgang is a very good wrestler and incredibly charismatic but is more someone who can be fed to Pete Dunne, not someone who I believe will be a serious threat. From the other talent in the UK Tournament, “baby Finn Balor” Jordan Devlin is an outstanding prospect who showed he can work as a heel during the original shows. James Drake is still a work in progress, but he seems to be rocking a heel emo look and gimmick, and he is someone who can beef up the heel division. But what about outside the talent that have already appeared on WWE TV?

Well, it appears that the World Of Sports Wrestling reboot has been axed for now, so a lot of talent that would have been in that promotion could be acquired to improve the roster. I’m not recommending WWE go after Grado (although personally I would love that), but guys like Dave Mastiff as the big man of the division, El Ligero as the high flyer and Zach Gibson as the dislikable scally would be great to fill out the cards. The man that I think could come straight in and immediately make an impact and a positive impression on a new WWE audience would be Mark Haskins, who has recently come back from serious injury, yet has gained a massive amount of respect from indie wrestling fans all over the world with his performances in Canada’s Smash Wrestling and in the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Battle of Los Angeles last year. I can mention other great talents like Flash Morgan Webster and Joe Coffey, who have years of experience and would offer so much to the UK Brand of WWE, but you get my point. The talent is out there for WWE to tap into.

This weekend has shown the world what the British wrestling scene is all about and it’s only just starting. In the words attributed to Paul Revere, “The British are coming!”

As always you can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email haydn.gleed@gmail.com. Feel free to say hello or have a general chat.

WWE announces a Raw match

WWE has announced Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson for tonight’s Raw television show.

Powell’s POV: The match timing is interesting in that it’s taking place a week after their friendship was on display in the WWE 24 documentary that aired on WWE Network. It will be interesting to see if they touch on that friendship or if they simply ignore it.

05/22 Prowrestling.net Live: Jason Powell and Will Pruett discuss WWE Backlash, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and take listener calls

Prowrestling.net Live featured Jason Powell and Will Pruett discussing WWE Backlash, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and taking listener calls Prowrestling.net Live airs on the Mondays after WWE pay-per-view events (68:07)…

Click here for the May 22 Prowrestling.net Live.

If you are not a subscriber, click here to become a Dot Net Member.

 

UK’s Progress Wrestling announces U.S. return with Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and more

Progress Wrestling issued the following press release on Monday to announce their New York City debut.

This past Wrestlemania weekend, we came to Orlando and were made to feel incredibly welcome, not only by the traveling British fans, but by a whole load of North American (and beyond) fans who were experiencing what we do for the first time.

We’ve been asked pretty much daily to come and do another show in the US ever since then… and we’ve listened.

SATURDAY, 12TH AUGUST, we’ve teamed up once again with our friends at WWN for a double-header of shows at the ELMCORE CENTER, QUEENS, NEW YORK CITY.

Progress will run at 8pm, and there will also be an Evolve show at 4pm in the same building.
Tickets will be available soon from ticketfly.com – we’ll let you know when they are.

Obviously no word on a full card yet, but we can confirm that PROGRESS World Champion PETE DUNNE, as well as PROGRESS Tag Team Champions TYLER BATE and TRENT SEVEN will be there, as well as Progress regulars, some of our regular roster who are based in the US, and some wrestlers making their US debuts that day.

And of course, the show will be available on Demand Progress a week or so after it happens.

Exciting stuff. Hope you can join us for the show!

Jim, Jon and Glen
#ThisIsProgress

Powell’s POV: Great timing of the announcement coming off the great Dunne vs. Bate match at the NXT Takeover: Chicago event. We are already looking for correspondents for this event. If you intend to attend and want to help us out with a report or even the basic results, email me at dotnetjason@gmail.com

Powell’s WWE Backlash Hit List: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship, Shinsuke Nakamura’s main roster debut against Dolph Ziggler

By Jason Powell

WWE Backlash Hits

Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship: I feel better about Mahal winning the WWE Championship than I thought I would. Jinder delivered a good backstage promo earlier in the show that was better than any of his mic work on Smackdown. The actual match was dramatic with believable and suspenseful late near falls. The Singh Brothers added to it by bumping around for Orton, including one of them taking a nasty head first bump on a broadcast table. There’s no telling how Mahal’s title reign will go, but it clicked on this night and the broadcast team and production crew did a good job of making it feel like the shocker that it was.

Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship: A well worked match. The finish seemed to leave the live crowd more frustrated with WWE than upset with Owens or feeling sympathetic for Styles. It was a cheap yet creative finish that occurred at the right point of the feud in that it set up the need for a rematch. Plus, Owens is good enough on the mic to turn this finish into heat for himself. I just hope creative does something to convince viewers that Styles actually cares about the U.S. Championship before they get to the rematch.

Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English: A good night for English as he turned his hometown crowd against him and had a solid show opening match performance. The throwback to his NXT singing gimmick combined with the addition of his character being overly emotional makes for a nice and easily recognizable undercard gimmick. I enjoy English’s gimmick more than Dillinger’s single note “10” gimmick.

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn: The story in the ring didn’t mesh with the broadcast team telling us that Corbin dominated 99 percent of match. Granted, Zayn worked his usual underdog style, but it was not nearly as lopsided as the broadcast team implied. Zayn getting the win was a surprise, but I suspect we’ll see Corbin get his revenge on television. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Zayn’s night was that there were no signs of him playing the neurotic character that has been teased on Raw and Smackdown.

WWE Backlash Misses

Overall show: The main event made the night feel relevant. And while there were some decent moments on the show, it was my least favorite of the three WWE Network specials that aired over the weekend. The NXT show was terrific and the UK Championship Special was also a lot of fun.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler: After weeks of hype and buildup, casual viewers who were unfamiliar with Nakamura had to be left wondering what’s so special about a guy who struggled to defeat Ziggler in a nearly 15-minute match. This felt like it should have been an offensive showcase for Nakamura. Instead, he spent more time selling for a guy who typically spends most of his own match time selling for opponents. The match quality was solid, but this wasn’t the type of match that would leave a casual fan feeling like Nakamura lived up to the hype.

The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango for the Smackdown Tag Titles: Breeze dressing like a janitor and then an old woman during a rare tag title match for his team did nothing for me. There’s no denying that the live crowd had more fun with this than I did. Good for them, but this just wasn’t for me.

Charlotte, Naomi, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella: A straight forward match without any teases of potential issues between Charlotte and her tag partners during or even after the match. The question of where Charlotte stood was the most compelling aspect of the match. They didn’t have to move the story forward, but surely they could shown some creativity by at least having an awkward moment or two that left viewers wondering if the babyface team was going to self destruct. The heel trio going over was fine in that they needed the win if WWE wants to move forward with this feud or even with the three of them as the only heels of the division. My guess is that we get a rematch on television with the storyline development.

Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper: One wrestler’s character consists of him delivering occasional promos in a room filled with energy saving lightbulbs. The other started to develop his character on Talking Smack and it carried over to him wandering around the Kickoff Show set. Oddly enough, the guy with zero character development won the match. We’ll see where things go with Rowan’s bizarre antics, but Harper certainly deserves and needs a real character beyond just being that guy who was in the Wyatt Family.

Anthem’s Ed Nordholm addresses Impact Wrestling’s legal issues with Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy

Anthem executive Ed Nordholm spoke with Live Audio Wrestling’s John Pollock and addressed the company’s legal battle with Matt and Jeff Hardy over ownership of the “Broken Universe” gimmick. “I don’t believe I have ownership of, I know I have ownership of [the characters and storylines’,” Nordholm said. He noted that the Hardys signed contracts and the producers of the show own the rights. “I don’t think there’s any genuine dispute over who owns… the characters, the gestures, and the costumes, and all of that. It begs the question of whether there’s independently a reason to allow a character or a person to use the gimmick in other venues in other circumstances. There’s heat about that, obviously, and hopefully that gets resolved.” Watch the full interview at Fightnetwork.com.

Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see Nordholm finally put himself out there publicly. That said, I don’t think his comments are going to change any minds. While there are those who side with Anthem/Impact, the feeling of those who oppose the company’s stance is that there are a unique set of circumstances. Reby Hardy wrote on her Twitter page that her husband and brother-in-law were paid late and even put up their own money to produce some of the Broken Universe segments. I have been told that Impact has no intention to move forward with the Broken Universe by trying to use it for another act, so I’m not really sure what value it holds or why they continue to fight this battle when the court of public opinion seems to be strongly against them. They easily could have looked like the good guys and avoided the backlash by selling the gimmick to the Hardys at a rock bottom price. Nordholm also spoke about his relationship with Ring of Honor after sending a legal threat that led to Dish Network pulling an ROH pay-per-view from their lineup.

WWE Backlash onsite review: Jinder Mahal crowd reaction, beachball popped by a fan, CM Punk chants booed, other in-person notes on each pay-per-view match

Dot Net reader Chuck attended the WWE Backlash event in Chicago, Illinois on Sunday and sent the following report.

I missed the pre-show and came in just as the show was starting. The arena was full and loud all night. Well, most of the night.

Shinsuke Nakamura was way over. Dolph Ziggler had some decent heat all things considered. The match went longer then I thought but the crowd popped big for the finish. Ziggler sold the Kinshasa like he was shot. He was down for a long time.

It was a little odd that they showed the full Fashion Files from Smackdown rather then something new. The match was so fun in person. I never thought I’d hear chants for a mop or grandma, but, hey, it’s wrestling. If the crowd reaction is anything to go by I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Fashion Police get those belts in the future. I just hope whoever holds the titles make them mean something because so far no title run has felt important. I’m not sure how it played on TV, but the live crowd loved the comedy.

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn was okay. Corbin was surprisingly over, especially with the younger kids. Corbin has improved so much since coming up to the main roster. The finish came out of nowhere but I liked the one Helluva Kick finish. It’s called a finisher for a reason WWE.

I couldn’t get over the small rug the Singh brothers brought out for Jinder to stand on. It was so tiny what was the point? It’s also pretty awkward for the crowd to boo when India is mentioned. Is this a good kind of heat for Jinder? Why is Jinder a heel for saying people boo him because he doesn’t look like them?

The six-woman tag was a little lackluster. Becky Lynch and Naomi were pretty over, but people didn’t really know how to treat Charlotte. James Ellsworth still has a lot of heat. There didn’t really seem to be a story and I’m not sure what happens from here. I would have preferred a title match. Or at least a tease of something between Naomi and one of her teammates. The funniest part was a little 5 year old behind me went crazy for Tamina for some unknown reason. Also, he was wearing a Wu-Tang shirt, so he’s basically my new hero.

Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles was awesome… until the finish. A guy in front of me was a hero for popping a beach ball before it could make the rounds around the arena. It was an awkward finish in that it was hard to tell where the ref’s count was at. With everyone chanting 10, I lost track so the count out finish caught me by surprise. I wanted a clean finish but, Its probably to early in the feud for either man to win clean. Still, a dud finish to a great match.

Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan suffered from card placement as well as lack of character for either man. This was the bathroom break for most people. I don’t know what happens to either man after this, but I like Harper and hope he develops a character outside of the Wyatts.

Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton had an entertaining ending with a surprising finish. The crowd was hot for Orton beating up the Singh brothers. The finish was unexpected and I don’t know how to feel yet. There are a lot of people on Smackdown who I would rather see with the title. I’m not sure if it came through on TV, but there was a loud “we want Rusev” chant for a portion of the match. I know mahal worked hard to get in the shape he’s in but he hasn’t really done much in ring or on the mic to get me excited. That said, we always say we want WWE to change things ups and going from Jobber to Champ is a big change. We’ll see where it goes.

As far as the crowd reaction goes for the title change, a lot of surprise and some good heat for Mahal. A fair amount of people liked the change and there was a fun chant for Mahal gear at the merch table.

Overall, a really fun show with a hot crowd. A few people tried to get s CM Punk chant going, but thankfully they were booed away.

Biggest Babyface Reactions
Shinsuke Nakamura
AJ Styles
Randy Orton
Fashion Police

Most Heat
Jinder Mahal
James Ellsworth
Dolp Ziggler
Beach Balls
CM Punk chant

5/22 WWE Network Schedule: Live stream programming lineup

The following is the schedule for the WWE Network’s live stream for May 22, 2017. All times listed below are ET.

9:30 AM: WWE Backlash 2017 replay

12:30 PM: Talking Smack Backlash Replay

1:00 PM: WWE Backlash 2017 replay

4:00 PM: Talking Smack Backlash Replay

4:30 PM: Table For 3 (Angle, Edge, Christian)

5:00 PM: Monday Night War (WCW fall)

6:00 PM: Total Bellas (October 26, 2016)

7:00 PM: Swerved

7:30 PM: Table For 3 (Angle, Edge, Christian)

8:00 PM: WWE Countdown (GMs)

9:00 PM: WWE 24 (Balor)

10:00 PM: Monday Night War (WCW fall)

11:06 PM: UK Championship Special

12:51 AM: WWE Story Time

1:06 AM: Monday Night War (WCW fall)

2:06 AM: UK Championship Special

3:51 AM: WWE Story Time

4:06 AM: Total Bellas (October 26, 2016)

5:06 AM: Table For 3 (Angle, Edge, Christian)

5:36 AM: Table For 3 (Styles, Nash, Hall)

6:00 AM: UK Championship Special

7:45 AM: WWE Story Time

8:00 AM: NXT Takeover: Chicago replay

WWE Raw in Grand Rapids (correspondents needed), WWE Smackdown in Ypsilanti (correspondents needed), Dot Net Audio, Daniel Bryan, Akam of AOP, Kota Ibushi, Brian Pillman, Traci Brooks, Mr. T, Wade Keller

By Jason Powell

-Prowrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net. Will Pruett and I will be taking your calls during the live audio show.

-WWE Raw will be held tonight in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena with the continued push toward the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Join me for live Raw as the show airs on USA Network at 7:00 p.m. CT.

-We are looking for correspondents for tonight’s WWE Raw in Grand Rapids, the Smackdown house show in Ypsilanti, and Tuesday’s Smackdown in Toledo. If you are going to Raw, Smackdown, or an upcoming live event and want to help us out with reports or live updates, contact me at dotnetjason@gmail.com

-The WWE Smackdown crew is in Ypsilanti, Michigan at EMU Convocation Center with a live event tonight featuring Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship, and Shinsuke Nakamura in action.

-Dot Net Members will be listening to my Raw audio review later tonight. Please note that there is not a Q&A show this week due to the Prowrestling.net Live audio show. The Q&A will return next week. Join us on the ad-free version of the Prowrestling.net website and special section of our free iPhone and Android apps by signing up for membership today via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.

-There are no advertised dark matches for tonight’s WWE Raw on the arena website. The recent dark matches have been advertised as Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt, and Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe.

Birthdays and Notables

-Happy birthday to my longtime friend Wade Keller of PWTorch.com. I believe Wade turns 46 today, meaning Bruce Mitchell is 105.

-The late Brian Pillman was born on May 22, 1962. He died on October 5, 1997 of heart disease at age 35.

-Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson) is 36 today.

-Mr. T’s mother gave birth to Mr. T 65 years ago yesterday.

-Kota Ibushi turned 35 on Sunday.

-Traci Brooks (Tracy Brookshaw-Gerdelman) turned 42 on Sunday.

-The late Chris Benoit was born on May 21, 1967. He took his own life and murdered his wife and son on June 24, 2007.

-Road Dogg (Brian James) turned 48 on Saturday.

-Akam (Sunny Dhinsa) of Authors of Pain turned 24 on Saturday.

05/21 WWE Backlash 2017 audio review: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship

Jason Powell and Jake Barnett review the WWE Backlash pay-per-view: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship (62:11)…

Click here for the WWE Backlash 2017 audio review.

If you are not a subscriber, click here to become a Dot Net Member.

 

5/21 Powell’s WWE Backlash Live Review: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler

By Jason Powell

WWE Backlash 2017
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena

A video package opened the show and focussed on the show’s top matches… The broadcast team of Tom “Face Love” Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton checked in on commentary from ringside. The ring announcer was Greg Hamilton…

1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler. After Ziggler was introduced, the crowd chanted for Nakamura, who then made his entrance. Ziggler went to ringside and acted like he was checking his watch and then felt his pulse. The crowd chanted for Nakamura again before the bell. JBL noted that Nakamura was a three-time “IWGP Champion” and then added, “But this is the big time.”

Nakamura ended up on his back and threw a kick at Ziggler, who dodged a standing kick. Ziggler backed Nakamura into the corner and then slapped him. Nakamura came back with a couple of knees to the gut. JBL compared Nakamura to Samoa Joe and said he’s been a champion everywhere he’s been, but he said it’s a new ballgame now. Nakamura chased him to ringside and then caught him with a kick and neckbreaker through the ropes as they returned to the ring. Ziggler applied a chinlock.

Powell’s POV: Save something for the Randy Orton match, Ziggler!

Ziggler caught Nakamura with a dropkick for a two count at 5:35. Ziggler backed Nakamura into the corner and held his hair while asking if he saw him. Nakamura came back with a knee. Ziggler ducked a kick, but Nakamura spun through and caught him with a second kick attempt. Nakamura threw punches at Ziggler and knocked him down with a knee. Nakamura followed up with a running knee in the corner.

Nakamura placed Ziggler on the top rope and threw another knee to the gut and then covered him in the middle of the ring for a two count. Ziggler rolled up Nakamura, who countered into a triangle, but Ziggler reached the ropes. Ziggler performed a DDT for a two count at 9:40. Nakamura caught Ziggler with another knee. Ziggler rolled him up for a two count and then hit the Fameasser for a near fall at 10:20.

Nakamura sold shoulder pain. Ziggler got to his feet and looked to the crowd and got some boos. Ziggler tuned up the band. Nakamura blocked the superkick, but Ziggler performed the Zigzag and covered him for another near fall. Ziggler set up for what appeared to be a piledriver, but Nakamura escaped and connected with a knee and then a kick. Nakamura went for an overhead suplex, but Ziggler landed on his feet and superkicked Nakamura. Ziggler covered him for a two count at 13:20.

Ziggler threw kicks to the side of Nakamura. JBL said Nakamura was doing everything he could to survive as he caught a Ziggler kick. Ziggler spat in the face of Nakamura, who fired up and threw more knees at Ziggler. Nakamura threw a knee to the side of Ziggler’s head and then went for his finisher from the ropes. Ziggler avoided it. Nakamura avoided a superkick from Ziggler, punched the back of his head, performed an inverted exploder suplex, and hit the Kinshasa for the win…

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Dolph Ziggler in 15:50.

Powell’s POV: Too competitive for Nakamura’s debut match for my taste. I was hoping to see Nakamura established with more of a dominant victory. Instead, he sold more than he was on the offensive for a guy who has spent the majority of his career selling throughout his matches. That said, they can always give Nakamura a more dominant win in his regular television debut, so I don’t think any harm was done either.

The third installment of the Fashion Files with Tyler Breeze and Fandango aired…

2. Jimmy and Jey Uso vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango for the Smackdown Tag Titles. Breeze dressed like a janitor just as he did in the Fashion Files skit that aired. Phillips acted like this was hilarious. Breeze remained in the outfit and was mopping the ring apron as the match started. Most of the fans were quiet, but there were some adult males who fired up when Fandango tagged in Breeze. A loud “mop” chant started when Breeze entered the ring. Breeze tripped Jey with the mop and then mopped his face with it.

Jey came right back and broke the mop for some boos. Jey went up top. Breeze rolled over. Jey went to the other corner. Rinse and repeat with Breeze rolling away. Breeze caught Jey with a kick and got a two count before Fandango tagged in. Breeze was knocked off the apron. When he stood up, he was dressed like an old woman and had a cane. The fans chanted “Let’s Go Grandma.”

Jimmy Uso kicked the cane away to boos. Breeze dropkicked him and then lifted up his dress (he had his usual ring gear underneath). Breeze performed a Bronco Buster and held up his arms and was cheered. Jimmy ripped off the dress and tossed it at JBL, who quipped that the last time that happened to him he paid for it. Funny.

At 7:05, Fandango performed a tornado DDT from the middle rope for a two count that some fans counted along with. Breeze tagged in as himself. The Usos put their own spin on the Demolition finisher and showed frustration when they didn’t get a three count. Breeze came back with the Unprettier on Jey and the fans counted along with another near fall.

The Usos tossed Breeze into the barricade and he went over the top of it. The Usos reached out to pull him back. Fandango dove over the top rope onto the Usos. Fandango went up top, but JImmy grabbed his foot from ringside, and Jey caught him with a superkick and pinned him. Saxton said the Usos were heavy favorites, but they merely survived this match…

The Usos defeated Tyler Breeze and Fandango in 9:15 to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.

Powell’s POV: The comedy did nothing for me, but the live crowd seemed to enjoy it. To each his own, I guess. Breeze’s antics were over enough that I suspect we haven’t seen the last of the Breezango comedy. Meanwhile, whatever happened to American Alpha?

A WWE Network commercial aired… Saxon had Breeze’s dress and said he thought it was JBL’s size. Phillips told him it was no laughing matter because of the upcoming match. Footage aired of Baron Corbin attacking Sami Zayn on the interview set on last week’s show…

3. Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn. In between the entrances, various foreign broadcast teams checked in. Zayn received a nice reaction, while the crowd was flat for Corbin. Sami got out to the fast start, then went into selling mode. The fans sang the Ole song after Corbin performed a spinebuster. Corbin barked at Zayn to stay down. Corbin played to the crowd and got good heat.

Zayn tried to pull himself up while Corbin gloated. Corbin ran the ropes and ran into a clothesline from Zayn, who followed up with another clothesline. Corbin performed a cross body block off the ropes for a two count. Zayn sold his back as he stood up. Zayn tossed Corbin aside. Corbin slid under the ropes, raced back inside the ring, turned Zayn inside out with a clothesline, and then covered him for a near fall.

Corbin performed a chokeslam into a backbreaker on Zayn and got another two count. Zayn performed a sunset flip powerbomb for a two count at 12:00. Zayn sold his back injury. Corbin blocked a toarnado DDT and then an exploder suplex. Corbin came back with a near fall and then showed frustration over Zayn kicking out. JBL said he didn’t know how Zayn was still in the match. Zayn caught Corbin with a Helluva Kick and pinned him clean…

Sami Zayn pinned Baron Corbin in 14:35.

Powell’s POV: That would have been so much better if Zayn had acted neurotic. Yes, that’s sarcasm. A good outing for both men. The broadcast team laid it on thick when it came to how dominant Corbin was. JBL even claimed afterward that he dominated 99 percent of the match. Zayn played the underdog role, but the match just wasn’t as one sided as the broadcast team made it out to be.

Footage aired of Xavier Woods playing the Rocket League (sponsor) game with Ember Moon and others…

A truck and a limo were shown arriving backstage. The Singh Brothers exited the tuck and rolled out a carpet next to the door of the limo, and then Jinder Mahal got out to loud boos. Dasha Fuentes welcomes him to Chicago. Jinder said Chicago and America are full of haters. He said people take one look at him and they hate him for who they think he is and because of the way he looks and the way that he talks. He said he would take the hatred and turn it into goodness. The fans started giving him the “What?” treatment. He said he would take a universe of doubters and discriminators and turn them into believers…

Powell’s POV: Good delivery and confidence from Mahal. This was much better than we heard from him on Smackdown leading up to the match.

James Ellsworth stood in the ring and introduced himself as the Michael Jordan of sports entertainment and the epitome of masculinity. Ellsworth introduced Carmella and then ring entrances for the six-woman tag match took place…

4. Charlotte, Naomi, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella (w/James Ellsworth). Lynch, whose hairstyle made her look like an extra from a Mad Max film, started the match with Tamina. The heel trio ended up isolating Charlotte early on. Naomi took the tag from Charlotte and threw her rapid fire kicks at Carmella. Tamina provided a distraction that allowed Carmella to take Naomi down. Naomi ended up being isolated. Naomi leaped for a tag to Lynch at 7:00, but Carmella pulled Lynch off the apron.

Lynch took the hot tag at 8:00 and worked over all three opponents. Lynch performed an exploder suplex on Natalya and followed up with a forearm for a two count. Lynch went to the ropes, but Tamina distracted her. Natalya got Lynch down and set up for her finisher, but Lynch countered into her own finisher. The other heels ran in and Lynch’s partners ran in to fight them off. Natalya took Lynch down off a Tamina distraction and applied the Sharpshooter for the win…

Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella defeated Charlotte, Naomi, and Becky Lynch in 10:05.

Powell’s POV: A solid match, yet it was disappointing in terms of storyline development. There was no drama in terms of where Charlotte really stood. And perhaps the heels needed to win to set up wherever they are going with Charlotte, but it still felt like they could have been more creative in terms of her role in the match. That said, the heel trio really needed a win if they intend to go further with this feud.

After some advertising, the broadcast team set up a video package for the U.S. Title match (meaning the WWE Championship match will be closing the show)…

5. Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship. The broadcast team acknowledged the storyline knee injury that Styles suffered on Smackdown. Phillips said they spoke with him earlier and he said his knee was fine. JBL was skeptical. Phillips acted like the Kickoff Show crew stating that this match could steal the show was insightful commentary.

Styles threw a great dropkick at 3:25. There were dueling chants with the Styles chants winning out. Owens came back with a DDT for a two count at 6:35. Owens followed up with three sentons for another two count. At 9:30, Owens avoided Styles setting up for the Styles Clash. Owens avoided it, but Styles came right back with a slam onto his knee for a two count. Styles came up holding the knee.

Owens avoided a springboard move and superkicked Styles. Owens performed a quick package style neckbreaker for a two count. Owens targeted the right knee and slammed in into the post. He also performed a cannonball on it before applying a single leg crab at 13:15. Owens came up the hold and then applied an ankle lock. Styles reached the ropes to break the hold.

Owens took Styles to the ropes and put him up on his shoulder while standing on the middle rope. Styles slipped free and turned it into a powerbomb. Styles sold his knee while waiting to perform the Phenomenal Forearm. When Styles went for the springboard, he collapsed. Owens took advantage and performed a DDT for a two count. Owens slapped Styles and told him that he is the face of America. Styles responded with a Pele Kick.

Styles took Owens to the ropes. Owens gained position and performed a suplex for another two count. At 19:00, Styles suplexed Owens on the ring apron. Styles ended up performing a flying forearm off the barricade by the timekeepers area. Styles set up for a Styles Clash on one of the broadcast tables. Owens escaped and Styles foot and leg went into one of the holes in the table. Styles was unable to free himself and was counted out. Afterward, Styles was still caught in the table. Owens walked over and delivered a cheap shot in the form of a kick to the back of AJ’s head. Two referees helped Styles to the back as he sold the knee injury…

Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles via count-out in 21:10 to retain the U.S. Championship.

Powell’s POV: A creative count-out finish, but certainly not a crowd pleasing one. I guess we know now why this match didn’t close the show. The match was entertaining and it’s hard to blame the fans for believing that it was building up to a better finish. At the same time, it wasn’t time for a title change, and Owens going over clean on AJ didn’t feel right either, though in retrospect perhaps that would have worked better given that AJ’s knee gave him an out. By the way, I like that the belt shot that Owens delivered to the knee of Styles was carried over to this match.

The broadcast team hyped the Talking Smack Backlash edition for later tonight with Renee Young, Peter Rosenberg, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Tye Dillinger…

6. Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper. Harper came out to a flat reaction. Rowan came out to his terrible theme song to the sound of one guy clapping while leaning against the barricade. Footage aired of Rowan stating on Talking Smack that Harper needs further punishment for leaving the Wyatt Family. “To be a fly on the wall of Erick Rowan’s brain,” Phillips said. One of his partners questioned if brains have walls.

Rowan controlled the majority of the offense during the first four minutes and got a two count off a clothesline. Rowan went to the top rope. Harper avoided his splash attempt. Rowan reached for his mask. Harper stood on his arm. Rowan got free and rolled to ringside. Harper followed him and roughed him up in front of the broadcast table. Harper went back to the ring and played to the crowd before performing a suicide dive.

Harper rolled Rowan back inside the ring and performed a senton over the ropes and a big boot for a two count at 5:45. Harper performed a Sidewalk Slam for a two count. Rowan came back with a spinning kick and a powerbomb for a two count. Harper remained on the mat and the ref checked on him while Rowan gloated. Harper took Rowan down with a pin attempt for a two count. They traded punches and chops.

Rowan went for a powerbomb, but Harper rolled out of it and connected with a superkick. Rowan looked at his mask and stood up and ate another kick. Rowan looked at the mask on the steps again and fired himself up and ended up running into a discus forearm before being pinned…

Luke Harper pinned Erick Rowan in 9:00.

Powell’s POV: They tried hard and threw some stiff shots at one another, but there is nothing to latch onto from a character standpoint. Rowan seems to be getting some extra attention with his Talking Smack appearance and his antics on the Kickoff Show, but Harper is just a guy who was with Bray Wyatt and nothing more at this point.

A WWE Hero video aired… A video package set up the WWE Championship match…

7. Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers) for the WWE Championship. Hamilton delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Jinder was introduced. Orton was being introduced as Mahal was talking to the Singh Brothers. Orton attacked Mahal from behind and roughed him up at ringside. The broadcast team stressed that the match was no underway.

Back inside the ring, the referee checked with Mahal, who was seething in a corner before the bell rang to start the match. Mahal avoided an early RKO attempt and rolled to ringside. Orton followed and clotheslined him. Mahal pulled Orton shoulder first into the side of the ring. Once they were back inside the ring, there were actually “Let’s Go Jinder” and “Jinder Sucks” chants that sounded equal in volume.

Orton and Mahal ended up back at ringside. Orton picked up Mahal out of a headlock and dropped him on a broadcast table. Orton brought Mahal back inside the ring, but Mahal caught Orton entering and put the boots to him.

At 9:00, Mahal went to the top rope and was crotched by Orton. The crowd was pretty quiet at this point. Orton superplexed Mahal. They got up and traded shots. Mahal wrenched the shoulder of Orton, who came right back with a powerslam and then went right back to selling the shoulder. Orton tossed Mahal over his head “with a fallaway slam of sorts.” Orton covered Mahal for two, and JBL said he couldn’t use the bad arm to hook the leg.

Mahal performed a neckbreaker for a two count. Orton performed the sidewinder backbreaker. Orton followed that with a hanging DDT from the middle rope. Orton teased the RKO, so Mahal rolled to ringside. Orton followed him and the Singh Brothers started bickering at him. Orton slapped one, kicked the other, and tossed them both around a bit before Mahal recovered and ran Orton’s bad shoulder into the post twice.

Mahal tossed Orton back inside the ring and followed him. Mahal walked into an RKO. Orton sold the shoulder. The Singh Brothers pulled Mahal to the floor. Orton went to ringside and tossed one Singh over a broadcast table and dropped the the other on a different table. Orton picked up the first Singh brother and dropped him recklessly onto a broadcast table and then made a facial that perhaps showed regret or concern. Orton brought one of the Singhs into the ring and the other followed. Orton gave them simultaneous hanging DDTs. Mahal grabbed Orton from behind and hit him with the Cravate (Cobra Clutch Slam) and pinned him…

Jinder Mahal pinned Randy Orton in 15:45 to win the WWE Championship.

After the match, Mahal posed with the title belt while JBL put it over as dreams coming true and hell freezing over. They showed crowd shots of a sad kid and a surprised adult male. Mahal entered the crowd and stood on the production table and posed with the title belt. Saxton questioned what it meant for Smackdown Live. JBL questioned what it means for WWE. “Jinder Mahal has shocked the world,” Saxton said. Mahal returned to the ring and posed with the title belt to end the show…

Powell’s POV: An entertaining main event. Sure, the middle section of the match was a little slow, but they got things off to a good start with the attack by Orton, and the closing minutes were strong. This is sure to be a very polarizing move with some fans endorsing the idea of a shakeup with others shaking their heads at Mahal holding the championship. I can’t say it does much for me, but I must admit that I feel better about it coming out of the match than I did with the idea prior to the show. It will be interesting to see if WWE is all in on this or if Jinder is a transitional champion. I will talk about that more tonight with Jake Barnett in our member exclusive audio review. Plus, Will Pruett and I will be hosting Prowrestling.net Live on Monday at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net, so feel free to call in and let us know your feelings on the title change.

5/21 Powell’s WWE Backlash Kickoff Show: Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English

By Jason Powell

WWE Backlash 2017 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena

The pre-show team of Renee Young, Booker T, and Peter Rosenberg checked in from their usual spot on the arena floor…

Dasha Fuentes checked in form the social media lounge and said Sami Zayn would be her guest later in the show (he’ll answer the worst of the questions that fans submit via social media)…

A Shinsuke Nakamura video package aired. It featured footage of an artist painting and then went into his highlights and then shifted to footage of the build to his match against Dolph Ziggler…

The panel spoke about Nakamura making his debut. Booker spoke about his excitement to see his debut. He compared him to Great Muta in that he’s someone you heard about before finally seeing him. Rosenberg put over strong style. Booker said he took offense because that’s what he did twenty years ago. Rosenberg questioned when the last time a debut was this anticipated. Booker said Nakamura doesn’t have to say a word and yet he captivates viewers. Young spoke about getting goosebumps watching his entrance…

Footage aired of Renee interviewing Tye Dillinger about his match against Aiden English. Dillinger spoke about how he’s always loved Chicago. He was interrupted by Aiden English, who complained about Dillinger interrupting his singing. English said he will unveil “The Perfect Downfall” at Backlash. Dillinger said he would deliver him another beating and then tossed him a tissue. “You don’t have to cry about it,” Dillinger said…

James Ellsworth joined the pre-show panel and acted like he didn’t know Rosenberg. Ellsworth said he’s the homeboy of the Welcoming Committee. Rosenberg and Booker pushed Ellsworth for details about his relationship with Carmella. Ellsworth said she is his homegirl. He got a call from Carmella on his phone and said he had to leave. He waved to the fans and was booed…

-The next discussion was about Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin and the tag title match. Erick Rowan wandered onto the set, walked behind the hosts, and left without saying a word.

-Backstage, Dasha asked Ziggler if he was prepared for his match. He said he was and watched all of Nakamura’s matches. “Just kidding,” Ziggler added. He said Nakamura was somewhere in the back of the building nervous and questioning whether he would deliver. Ziggler said he would be the person who would actually deliver. Ziggler said he’d been told they would be the first match on Backlash and he would beat the hell out of Nakamura.

Powell’s POV: I iked the idea that Dot Net staffer Zack Zimmerman mentioned to me about headlining the show with Nakamura vs. Ziggler. It would send the right message about Nakamura being a top player. And without knowing what they have in mind for the other matches, it would also give them a chance to close the show on a positive note.

-A WWE Network video package aired and included footage of Goldberg’s WWE 24 documentary along with several additional shows… A video package aired on the U.S. Championship match…

-The hosts discussed the Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles match for the U.S. Championship. Booker said it’s a dream match and everyone in the arena will remember where they were.

-Dasha interviewed Sami Zayn in the social media lounge. The first question was whether he feels he has a chance to beat Corbin. Zayn said he doesn’t think that question would be asked of John Cena. He said he’s been labeled an underdog. He said he can beat anyone on any given night and beating Corbin will help prove that. He was also asked if he’s had a better opportunity since moving to Smackdown, and having a positive attitude. He spoke about the competition of Smackdown, and he said he bounces back from tough losses well.

Powell’s POV: Zayn was pretty straight forward and didn’t seem to be playing into the neurotic persona they keep teasing.

-The broadcast team of Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxton checked in from ringside.

1. Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English. Before the match, English introduced himself as being from Chicago, yet added that he couldn’t have been happier that he left. English sang. He was about to deliver an encore when Dillinger’s entrance music interrupted him. Dillinger worked the “10” gimmick and the crowd chanted along. English drew heat by yelling that it was his town. English performed a neckbreaker on Dillinger and put the boots to him in the corner. English performed a running elbow into the corner and took a bow heading into a commercial break.

Dillinger came back after the break and performed a flying forearm and additional strikes. Dillinger did the ten punches in the corner spot with the crowd chanting “10” each time. Dillinger pulled his kneepad down. English fled to ringside. Dillinger followed and brought him back inside the ring, but English chocked him on the top rope. English went up top only to be slammed from there. English went for a top rope splash, but English moved. English picked up a near fall and then got emotional over not getting the pin. English slammed Dillinger and went up top for a senton that Dillinger avoided. Dillinger performed the Tye Breaker for the win…

Tye Dillinger pinned Aiden English in 8:20.

Powell’s POV: Fine for a Kickoff Show match. I enjoy English’s crybaby gimmick more than the repetitive “10” gimmick, but I know I’m in the minority on that one.

-Young, Booker, and Rosenberg hyped WWE Extreme Rules and WWE Network. They also spoke about the Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper match. Rowan showed up again and brought his sack of masks with him. Rowan took a seat between Young and Rosengerg and removed his mask. Rowan reached inside the sack and pulled out a mask, which he tore up and tossed aside. Rowan took Rosenberg’s pocket square and attached it to his main mask briefly before also tossing it aside and then walking away without saying a word…

-Young turned the focus to the WWE Championship match. Booker spoke about having Jinder Mahal on his radio show. Rosenberg said Randy Orton is so talented that there are times when he does get up for matches. Young cut off the conversation so that they could squeeze in a video package that focussed on Jinder becoming number one contender and his feud with Orton…

Join me for live coverage of WWE Backlash in a separate story on the main page.

05/21 Prowrestling.net Audio with Jason Powell’s Quick Hits audio – WWE Backlash preview

Dot Net’s Jason Powell hosts a Quick Hits audio update with a preview of the WWE Backlash pay-per-view event featuring Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, and the Smackdown in-ring debut of Shinsuke Nakamura (20:40)…

Click here for the May 21 Prowrestling.net Quick Hits audio update.

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Powell’s WWE Backlash preview: JinderMania – Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship, The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango for the Smackdown Tag Titles

By Jason Powell

These predictions were made with no help from the betting lines. Join me for live coverage of WWE Backlash beginning with the needlessly long Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET. Dot Net Members are listening to audio reviews of NXT Takeover: Chicago and the WWE UK Special, and they will also hear a WWE Backlash audio review later tonight. Join us on the ad-free version of Prowrestling.net to gain access to over nine years of audio content via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.

Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship: Say what you will about JinderMania, but this is the most intriguing match on the show in its own way. The big question is whether this is WWE trying to elevate Mahal by making him look competitive in defeat against the WWE Champion or if they intend to go all the way with their shock and awe style push by making him the champion. There are also the matters of match quality and just how the Chicago crowd will respond both wrestlers. I’m pulling for Mahal. Not to win the WWE Championship, but in that I’m all for the guy making the most of the opportunity that’s been given to him. Unfortunately, he has yet to truly shine in the ring despite being booked against top workers during his quick build, and certainly not on the mic. Initially, he was yelling his lines. The last two weeks he was saying his lines so quietly that this viewer had to turn up the volume to make out what he was saying. Jinder is still very much a work in progress and putting the title on him for anything more than a brief transitional period feels like a mistake. That said, I don’t think this is a case of a guy getting a big push for one month and then dropping back down to the undercard. Vince McMahon is clearly impressed by his physique and work ethic and, perhaps more importantly, the company wants to establish him as a star as they increase their focus on the Indian market.

Randy Orton retains the WWE Championship.

The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango for the Smackdown Tag Titles: Breezango goofed around with the Fashion Files, and the heel Usos delivered some great babyface promos. This feels like a mess, but it won’t be too surprising if the Chicago crowd gets fired up about one or both hard working teams and what should be a good match.

The Usos retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.

Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship: This looks like a great match on paper. Unfortunately, the build to the match was generic and they failed to make this seem like the show stealer that it is. Styles never explained why he suddenly cares about the U.S. Championship in a way that would make his fans anxious to see him win it, and they didn’t really put heat on Owens until the go-home show. It will be interesting to see if Styles is still selling the knee injury from Tuesday and if that plays into the finish.

Kevin Owens retains the U.S. Championship.

Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina: The question marks surrounding the Charlotte character make this more interesting than a typical “get all the women on the card” type of match we have seen over the years. Is WWE turning Charlotte babyface? Will she simply turn on her partners during or shortly after the match? I’m hopeful that Charlotte will remain slotted as a heel because the idea of her facing Naomi and eventually Lynch is far more appealing than watching her work with the heel trio. I don’t have a strong feeling about this one, but I’ll go with Charlotte turning after the match rather than during it.

Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch win.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler: The great ring entrance finally leads to a Nakamura match. The build was ho-hum in that the anticipation level for the first match hasn’t really grown as much as it’s just sort of been in a holding pattern. It’s worth noting that this is coming from someone who watched him in NXT and saw some of his New Japan Pro Wrestling work. It’s possible that a casual WWE viewer who is just getting to know him feels more excited by the build to his first televised main roster match. I am looking forward to seeing what type of match these two have, but I am also anxious to see Nakamura move on to more meaningful programs.

Nakamura wins.

Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin: A match thrown together on the go-home show. Still, I always enjoy Zayn working hard and making his opponents look good in the process. They seem to have bigger plans for Corbin at the moment, so I’ll go with him getting the win, though admittedly Zayn sneaking out a win and then Corbin destroying him afterward seems like a decent possibility too.

Baron Corbin wins.

Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan: Another match involving Bray Wyatt’s former sidekicks with no real storyline support. Rowan insinuated on Talking Smack that he has abandonment issues, so he was bothered by Harper leaving the Wyatt Family. Of course, there is no Wyatt Family at this point, so his stated goal of punishing Harper for leaving feels empty. That said, at least Rowan’s character has a purpose. Viewers have no idea what this is about from Harper’s perspective. As far as the outcome, flip a coin.

Heads: Rowan wins to keep the pointless feud going.

Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English: The crowd chants “10” and Dillinger gives English something to cry about.

Tye Dillinger wins.

Moore’s NXT Takeover: Chicago Hit List – AOP vs. DIY for the NXT Tag Team Championship, Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship, Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami for the NXT Championship, Asuka vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross for the NXT Women’s Championship

By John Moore

NXT Takeover: Chicago Hits

The Authors of Pain vs. DIY in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Titles: The non-traditional method of booking the tag team match did not come off as odd at all. The viewers have been conditioned to expect nothing short of spectacular in tag team matches involving either DIY and/or Revival. The Authors of Pains did a splendid job here as well, as they are improving every single time we see them. This match was a bit more violent than we usually see on WWE TV. This was up there in scary level with some of those ROH ladder wars (without the chairshots to the head, but we did get a ladder shot to the jaw that looked pretty nasty). There were levels of realism here too with the suplex that put an Author through a broken ladder or the double dive by DIY onto both Authors set up adjacent to them on the outside.

Tommaso Ciampa’s heel turn: A well done heel turn. Based on the way they held the camera on DIY, we should have expected it, but they’ve done this in the past where after their loses to Revival, Ciampa and Johnny Gargano would sell the same agony of defeat only to suck it up and fight harder next time. The beatdown was as violent as you can get in WWE these days with some strong throws on the table and off the stage. Ciampa looked like a real jerk for beating up his bro that took so many shots for him in matchups.

Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship: Pete Dunne came off as a star day one with WWE and Tyler Bate has had a hard time establishing an in ring identity. I think the first match where we saw Bate dig deep was the UK Title match against Jack Gallagher where Bate got to utilize his British strong style (pun intended) against the technical expert Jack. Dunne is a technical wrestler too, but a vicious one. Both wrestlers dug deep here and put together a main roster main event worthy match in the middle of the card. One aspect I liked throughout the show is we didn’t get our “Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles Formula” match where it’s just rapid kicking out of finishers in succession. I also liked the DDT out of the Bitter End when Dunne had the pumphandle. Bate got to pull out a few more cool tools like the helicopter and the Styles Spiral Tap.

Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami for the NXT Championship: The reason this match may be a bit forgotten was because so many of the other matches stood out so much. This match did suffer a bit from Roode being Triple H’s possible doppelganger in that the first act of the match was slow and plodding. Once it kicked into gear, it was really fun and every move executed at a point told a good story. Itami kicked out of Roode’s finisher, but it was due to a Roode arm injury. Roode got nailed by a surprise GTS, but he was positioned to roll to the outside. This was a smart match. Roode can really put together a good second and third act of a match. Itami was good too and I continue to praise him for the subtle tweaks he has made presentation-wise since his return. It also looks like NXT is about to turn him heel because WWE posted a YouTube where he destroys the locker room while having a bleeped out cursing battle with Adam Pearce. We usually don’t get the Jerry Springer bleeps on WWE these days so just like the scary ladder match, this did come off as fresh in a strange way.

Asuka vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross for the NXT Women’s Championship: This match had the unfortunate positioning of following up such a hot UK Championship match, but that didn’t bother the three women involved as the crowd quickly got into the big moves and were getting behind Ruby Riot once she initiated her babyface rally spots. A big plus to the NXT television viewers were the three interviews that NXT did for Riot, Cross, and Asuka and they got to exhibit their traits shown in the interviews. Riot showed her babyface swagger, Cross looked crazy, and Asuka exuded confidence. This may have been the best worked women’s match in a long time given how the NXT Women’s Division has been spinning its wheels since the main roster draft. Even the Ember Moon vs. Asuka match was more character development than a showcase match. The only real flaw was the finish in that it was both a bit too cute with how they got a double pin and in how the move that put them in was just a regular kick that Asuka would throw in the middle of her matches. They could have done a bit better with Asuka retaining via countout to get some progression on the Asuka snobby opportunist angle.

NXT Takeover: Chicago Misses

Eric Young vs. Roderick Strong: This wasn’t a full on miss as far as match quality was concerned as Roderick Strong got to showcase his really cool looking moveset. Rather, this was a missed opportunity to put some heat on Sanity after Sanity lost its feud against Tye Dillinger. Young came out of the cage match looking strong in the loss, but it put him back at a low level as far as in-ring credibility is concerned. I know that they were put in a tough position with this being the only feel good story of the night and Strong coming off as such a feel good person after the documentary, but if that was the case then they should have gone with something else. They could have had Drew McIntyre destroy Wesley Blake, which they have been building towards and had Sanity destroy Strong in a backstage beatdown or something. Instead, I’m not quite sure where Strong goes from here with NXT’s stacked main event picture that now includes a Ciampa and Gargano feud that could challenge for a top tier feud.

WWE Backlash lineup (live coverage tonight): Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship headlines tonight’s event

The following matches are advertised for the WWE Backlash event, which will be held tonight in Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena.

-Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship.

-The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango for the Smackdown Tag Titles.

-Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship.

-Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina.

-Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler.

-Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin.

-Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan.

-Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English (Kickoff Show).

Powell’s POV: Join me for live coverage of Backlash tonight beginning with the needlessly long Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET. Dot Net Members will hear an exclusive audio review with Jake Barnett and I after the show.

5/21 WWE Network Schedule: Live stream programming lineup

The following is the schedule for the WWE Network’s live stream for May 21, 2017. All times listed below are ET.

10:00 AM: NXT Takeover: Chicago replay

12:00 PM: Table For 3 (Styles, Nash, Michaels)

12:30 PM: Table For 3 (Edge, Christian, Angle)

1:00 PM: Table For 3 (Styles, Nash, Michaels)

3:00 PM: Kurt Angle: Oh It’s True It’s True

3:30 PM: WWE UK Championship special replay

5:00 PM: Stone Cold Podcast (Big Show)

6:00 PM: WWE 24 (Balor)

7:00 PM: WWE Backlash Kickoff Show (Live)

8:00 PM: WWE Backlash 2017 (Live)

11:00 PM: Talking Smack Backlash (Live)

11:30 PM: WWE Backlash 2017 replay

2:30 PM: Talking Smack Backlash Replay

3:00 AM: Table For 3 (Styles, Nash, Michaels)

3:30 AM: Table For 3 (Edge, Christian, Angle)

4:00 AM: NXT TV replay

5:00 AM: Holy Foley

5:30 AM: Edge & Christian Show

6:00 AM: WWE Backlash 2017 replay

9:00 AM: Talking Smack Backlash Replay

9:30 AM: WWE Backlash 2017 replay

05/20 NXT Takeover: Chicago audio review: Authors of Pain vs. DIY in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Titles, Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami for the NXT Title, Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship

Jason Powell and Zack Zimmerman review the NXT Takeover: Chicago live special featuring Authors of Pain vs. DIY in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Titles, Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami for the NXT Title, Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship (63:20)…

Click here for the May 20 NXT Takeover: Chicago audio review. 

If you are not a subscriber, click here to become a Dot Net Member.

 

5/20 Zim’s NXT Takeover: Chicago live review – Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami for the NXT Title, Authors of Pain vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Titles, Asuka vs. Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riot for the NXT Women’s Title

By Zack Zimmerman

NXT Takeover: Chicago
Aired live on WWE Network
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena

The show opened with a video package that briefly ran through the lineup of matches and set the tone for each. It closed with Hideo Itami firmly stating that he will be the new NXT Champion… Inside the Allstate Arena, Tom Phillips, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness checked in from the commentary booth and talked up the show briefly…

Sanity’s music hit and the lights cut out to kick off the show. Eric Young made his entrance flanked by Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe. the commentators noted that Nikki Cross was backstage preparing for the Women’s Championship match. Roderick Strong’s music hit and got  big pop from the crowd, but he didn’t appear.

Suddenly, the cameras cut to ringside where Roddy smashed both Dain and Wolfe into the ringpost before sliding into the ring and starting the match out hot.

1. Eric Young (w/ Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe) vs. Roderick Strong. Strong put a beating on Young all around ringside as the crowd chanted “let’s go Roddy!” He connected on a dropkick in the ring and continued to roll until Young cut him off and slowed things down following a back suplex.

Young hit a swinging neckbreaker for an early one-count. Strong picked up some momentum and teed off with a series of shots. Strong wiped out Wolfe with a dive through the ropes and was getting the better of Young when Killian Dain completely leveled Strong with a running crossbody. The referee apparently had his attention elsewhere.

Back in the ring, Young established control and began to set the pace. The crowd chanted for Roddy as Young settled into a weak looking chin hold. Strong showed some fight but Young put him right back down. At the eight-minute mark, Strong caught Young with a dropkick as he leapt off the ropes.

Roddy began to rally with some strikes and a big cradle backbreaker. He charged with a big knee lift in the corner and slammed Young to the mat with his big tossing facebuster for two. Things went to ringside where Young managed to hit his wheelbarrow neckbreaker out of nowhere and both guys were down.

Young managed to get Strong back in the ring, but Strong kicked out at two. Rowdy fired back with a hard chop and tried to stop Young from going to the top rope, but he was unsuccessful and Young flew off with a diving elbow drop for a near-fall. Young looked for another wheelbarrow neckbreaker, but Roddy escaped.

Roddy fended off both Dain and Wolfe once again, wiping them out at ringside. He lifted Young overhead, but Young raked the eyes to escape. The fight went back to the top turnbuckle where Strong landed a wicked knee strike and Young tumbled out to ringside onto Dain and Wolfe.

Back in the ring, Strong hit one more wicked knee lift before landing the End of Heartache (suplex into a double-knee backbreaker) for the first time in NXT and securing the pinfall.

Roderick Strong pinned Eric Young in about 13:42.

Replays aired and Strong celebrated his win on the way out of the arena, while Sanity was left angry in the ring… [C]

Zim Says: Solid match. When Roddy was on offense there were glimpses of it hitting that “Roddy gear” but it never really got there. Like I said, solid though, and the finish definitely hit a crescendo so thumbs up there. This was a good first step on the build to Roderick Strong as a viable title challenger and potential champion.

Ruby Riot, Asuka, and Nikki Cross were all shown preparing backstage individually…

A graphic revealed the next match: Tyler Bate defending the WWE UK Championship against Pete Dunne. The video package from this week’s episode and also the pre-show building up the match aired once again.

Back in the arena, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross was introduced as a special guest commentator for the following match. He got a great ovation from the Chicago crowd. Tom Phillips and Percy Watson left the table and J.R. took the helm alongside McGuinness.

Pete Dunne made his entrance first, followed by UK Champion Tyler Bate. Both men had upgraded music and entrance walls from their prior appearances. The crowd chanted “Bruiserweight” before the bell, seemingly favoring Dunne.

2. Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate for the WWE UK Championship. The two grappled a bit in the opening couple of minutes and Dunne began to target the arm. The fight went to ringside where Bate connected with a nice diving uppercut, but Dunne came right back and dropped Bate hard onto the ring apron with a release suplex.

Dunne established control in the ring as he began to viciously pick away at the arm. Dunne disrespectfully booted Bate in the face, so Bate fired up and sent Dunne flying with a nice looking delayed exploder suplex.

Bate began to pick up momentum with some high-impact running uppercuts in the corner. Dunne connected with a kick, but Bate took him down and busted out a standing shooting star press which popped the crowd big.

Bate hit a great back suplex with a twisting bridge pin, but Dunne kicked out. Bate looked to follow up, but Dunne caught him in a triangle choke out of nowhere. Dunne began to fire off elbow strikes and Bate looked to be in trouble. Suddenly, Bate fired up and deadlifted Dunne into a powerbomb to break free. The crowd chanted “this is awesome.”

Bate hoisted Dunne up and performed perhaps the longest and fastest Airplane Spin on record. It was good for a near-fall, but both guys were dizzy and down. Things picked back up and Bate sprung off the middle turnbuckle, but he ate a hard forearm strike from Dunne. Dunno wasted no time and followed up with a wicked Orange Crush Powerbomb for a near-fall and the crowd leapt to their feet in a standing ovation.

The two stood mid-ring and slugged it out with a wicked exchange of strikes back and forth, culminating into a super unique rebound off the ropes into a sickening lariat from Bate for a near-fall. Once again, the crowd went nuts and chanted “UK” and “fight forever.”

Bate hooked for the Tyler Driver, but his bad arm allowed Dunne to escape. Dunne hooked for the pumphandle flatliner, but Bate turned it into a wild DDT. Dunne escaped to ringside, but Bate followed right up with a huge moonsault off the turnbuckles. Back in the ring, Bate connected with a Spiral Tap off the top rope for another great near-fall.

Once again, the crowd chanted “UK” as Bate set up for a dive to the outside. He came up empty, however, and ate a glancing elbow from Dunne on his way by. Dunne tossed Bate back into the ring and promptly planted him with the Bitter End pumphandle flatliner for the clean win.

Pete Dunne defeated Tyler Bate to win the WWE UK Championship in about 15:27.

Replays aired, and the camera panned Dunne standing mid-ring with the UK Championship hanging from his mouth. Referees tended to Bate at ringside and he sold the loss, while Dunn soaked in his win. Nigel McGuinness thanked J.R. for joining him at the booth and Ross said he loved every minute of it… [C]

Zim Says: Wow. Just wow. I had lofty expectations for that match knowing how good but guys are and how extensively they’ve worked together, but that was mind-blowingly good. Top-tier stuff, really. Has to be considered a MOTYC at this point. Dunne is one of the best heels going today and the star potential for Bate seems huge. The show may have peaked early.

Hideo Itami and NXT Champion Bobby Roode, respectively, were shown warming up backstage… A graphic and video package led into the women’s title match…

Back in the arena, Ruby Riot made her entrance to a good response from the crowd. Nikki Cross was out next without the other members of Sanity. Once in the ring, she and Ruby got right in each other’s face. NXT Women’s Champion Asuka was the third and final entrant. She had rose petals falling from the ceiling as she walked down the ramp. A segment of the crowd chanted “Ruby Riot” before the bell.

3. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross vs. Asuka in a Triple-Threat match for the NXT Women’s Championship. Things opened at a frantic pace with Cross throwing her jacket in Riot’s face and Asuka wiping her out with a running hip attack. Cross and Asuka briefly went at it before Cross was sent to ringside and Riot re-entered.

Riot and Asuka both no-sold each other’s shoulder tackle attempts before Riot appeared to get the better of Asuka. She was setting up a dive when she was cut off by Nikki Cross. Ember Moon was shown watching from a production box towards the top of the arena. In the ring, Cross worked over Riot and dropped her with a straight-jacket neckbreaker.

Asuka came off the top rope with a missile dropkick onto Cross, landing on Riot in the process. Asuka used a Codebreaker on Cross and then planted Riot with a powerbomb. Asuka had an ankle lock on Riot, but Cross broke it up. After some back-and-forth, Riot was selling her knee (unclear whether legit or worked).

She seemed to be okay however, as she picked up momentum and got the better of both opponents. She took Asuka down with a diving ‘rana and then drove Cross face-first into the turnbuckles with her knees. Asuka took out Cross at ringside with a vicious knee strike before Riot wiped her out with a dive through the ropes.

Riot tossed Cross back into the ring and came off the top rope with a diving back senton. She made the cover, but Asuka broke it up and tossed Riot overhead with a German suplex. She looked for another on Cross, but Cross fought out and hit a Regal Cutter for a two-count.

Riot superkicked Cross into a German suplex from Asuka, and then gave Asuka a superkick for good measure. Riot went back to the top rope and looked for the diving senton on Asuka, but Asuka slipped behind and sank in the Asuka Lock. Riot was in trouble, but Cross ran in to save the match.

On the ring apron, Cross dropped Riot with a reverse DDT. Cross trapped Asuka between the ring and the ring skirt, before teeing off on her with a stiff and rapid series of shots. Cross legit dragged Asuka back into the ring and hit a brutal looking whiplash neckbreaker with Asuka’s feet on the top rope. Cross made the cover, but Riot broke it up.

Cross and Riot charged at each other, but both looked for a crossbody and they got hung up on each other. Everyone was down. Asuka made it to her feet first, but Cross and Riot briefly joined forces to knock the champ to ringside. Cross and Riot went back and forth with rollup attempts to no avail.

Riot hit an arm-wringer Pele kick and made the cover, but Asuka flew in with a sliding kick. Asuka covered both opponents and the ref counted the three.

Asuka retained the NXT Women’s Championship in about 12:30.

Asuka confidently (or over-confidently) celebrated her win before a replay of the finish aired. The segment closed with Asuka continuing her celebration…

Zim Says: Fun, action-packed match with a bit of a lackluster finish. I got the sense Asuka would be retaining to set up the Ember Moon match, but they could’ve done a little bit better of a job making me question that in the final moments. Riot has been impressive so far and this was Cross’s best showing so far as well. There is a strong top contingent of ladies in this era of the NXT women’s division for sure.

A Velveteen Dream vignette aired… A graphic revealed that the NXT Championship match would not be closing out the show, as it’s up next. The video package from the pre-show aired…

Back in the arena, Hideo Itami made his entrance. He got a fine but unspectacular response. The commentators talked about all of the people who have surpassed Itami during his time in NXT and out due to injury.

A piano stretched across the LED stage and began to play a lovely prelude to NXT Champion Bobby Roode’s music. He stood on the revolving platform and the whole arena sang along with his music. Roode took his sweet time making his entrance. Once he was finished, there were formal in-ring championship introductions for both guys.

4. Hideo Itami vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship. Roode backed Itami into the ropes and belittled him, so Itami looked for a Go To Sleep right away. Roode slipped out and scrambled to ringside to take a breather. Back in the ring, the two went back and forth with standard early stuff.

Itami chopped away at Roode and then took him down with a hard knee to the guy and several low strikes. Itami dropped a series of knees and then faked one as he washed the face of Roode with his boot. Itami mocked Roode and continued to work him over.

Itami set up for a tornado DDT, but Roode sent him flying and then followed up with a blockbuster from the middle turnbuckle. Roode went to work from there. He stayed in control at Bobby Roode pace, until Itami caught him with the stiffest of slaps. Roode fired back, but Itami hit the ropes and leveled Roode with a high-impact single-leg dropkick.

Itami began to rally with a series of kicks and a suplex. He used his tornado hangman out of the corner and then came off the top rope with a diving clothesline for two. Itami avoided a charging Roode, who went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Itami began to target that shoulder with kicks and then looked for a Fujiwara armbar but couldn’t sink it in.

Itami managed to avoid another blockbuster and planted Roode with a Falcon Arrow for two. Itami charged at Roode in the corner, but Roode met him mid-ring and planted him with a spinebuster for a near-fall of his own. Roode looked for the DDT, but his bad arm didn’t allow him to connect with it. Roode avoided another GTS attempt and took the fight to ringside.

Itami sent Roode crashing shoulder-first into the ring steps, but Roode avoided a hesitation dropkick and Itami kicked the steps hard. Referees came out to check on both Itami’s leg and Roode’s shoulder. Both guys managed to slip back into the ring before the referee counted them out.

Back in the ring, Itami teed off with a series of strikes and a spinning backfist. He connected with the hesitation dropkick in the corner, selling the leg in the process. He shook it off and looked for the GTS again, but the knee gave out and Roode connected on the implant DDT. Roode made the cover, but Itami kicked out just shy of the three-count.

Roode was selling frustration and his bad arm, which allowed Itami to pop up and deliver a surprise GTS, but Roode took the move and tumbled out to ringside. Itami went out after him and managed to get him back into the ring, but by the time he made the cover Roode recovered enough to kick out before the three-count.

Itami teed off with the stiffest bunch of slaps you’ll ever see on WWE programming and lifted Roode up for the GTS, but Roode managed to slip out and hit two implant DDTs, selling the arm in the process, but making the cover to retain his title.

Bobby Roode beat Hideo Itami in about 17:43 to retain the NXT Championship.

Replays aired and Roode celebrated his win as the crowd sang along with his music again…

Zim Says: That was a very good match. It was about what I expected it to be, maybe a little better. I have no idea what could be next for Itami after this, but it was definitely his best showing in a WWE ring. Roode can verge on boring at times, but I didn’t think tonight was one of those times. He certainly has star presence too. I enjoyed this.

Kevin Owens, Milwaukee Brewer Eric Thames, Sami Zayn, Pat Patterson, and Kassius Ohno were shown in the crowd watching on…

A video package built to the ladder match between the Authors of Pain and #DIY for the NXT tag titles. Back in the arena, the NXT Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain made their entrance, led by Paul Ellering. Former champions #DIY were out next to a good reaction from the crowd.

5. #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akem and Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championships. AOP got the better of #DIY early, but #DIY made a comeback and cleared the Authors from the ring. Ladders entered the ring at the minute-mark, however they were not used right away as the fight stayed at ringside.

Gargano and Ciampa got the better of the Authors with some high-speed, high-impact offense and good timing. They went to the stage and retrieved the biggest ladder available. The Authors tried to stop them, but Gargano flew out of the ring, through the ladder, and crashed into the Authors.

#DIY continued to roll until one of the Authors caught Gargano out of the air and spiked him down across Ciampa’s back. The Authors looked for the Super Collider, but #DIY slipped onto the ladder and scrambled up. In a scary moment, they were sent toppling over and Ciampa looked like he might’ve seriously hurt his knee. Gargano looked like he might’ve been hit in the face with one of the ropes as well.

The Authors leveled Gargano and Ciampa with a ladder shot, and then retrieved a bigger ladder from under the ring. The savages in the crowd chanted “we want tables,” but instead the Authors looked to powerbomb #DIY onto ladders bribed between the ring and barricade.

#DIY managed to escape and they broke the Authors down with superkicks until they were each down on the ladder bridges, which were set up on opposite sides of the huge ladder from the stage earlier. Gargano and Ciampa each climbed up the giant ladder and leapt off. Both guys overshot their opponents to the point where they took scary front-rolling bumps, but they managed to connect enough to damage the ladders underneath.

Ciampa somehow made it back to the middle of the ring where he slowly set up a ladder as the crowd chanted “Psycho Killer” for him. One of the Authors met him on the other side of the ladder and they both began to climb; exhausted. Gargano climbed up a perpendicular ladder and the other Author climbed the other side.

It ended up with Ciampa dropping down and pushing over Gargano’s ladder so the Author bumped and Gargano landed on Ciampa’s former ladder. He yanked the other Author off the ladder and Gargano appeared to have the match won. Gargano reached for the titles, but Paul Ellering ran in and grabbed his foot. Gargano dropped down and took Ellering out, but the distraction was enough for the Authors to get involved again.

The Authors set up a battering ram spot on a defenseless Ciampa, but Gargano ran in to shove Ciampa out of the way and took the move himself. The Authors set up a ladder and climbed, but Ciampa caught fire and sent one flying off the ladder, crashing through one set up in the corner with a super German suplex. The crowd exploded.

Gargano and Ciampa set up the surviving Author mid-ring with a ladder around his head, and they hit their superkick/knee strike combo to wipe him out. Both Authors were out, and #DIY slowly set up a ladder. They climbed and reached the titles, but as they did the Authors pulled the ladder out from underneath. The Authors yanked both guys down into powerbomb positions extinguished the last bit of hope with the Super Collider.

The Authors ascended the ladder and captured the belts to win the match and retain their titles.

The Authors of Pain retained the NXT Tag Team Championships over #DIY in about 20:00.

A lengthy series of replays aired, and The Authors of Pain stood at the top of the ramp with the titles and Paul Ellering who was still selling Gargano’s attack. #DIY were left sitting mid-ring together. They looked disappointed and were selling the effects of the match, but the crowd chanted for them and gave them a standing ovation as they made it to their feet together. They left the ring side by side.

Replays of the finishing sequence aired one more time. #DIY stood together at the top of the ramp, but as the closing graphic appeared in the corner, Ciampa turned and rammed Gargano into the LED entrance wall. Ciampa leveled a kneeling Gargano with a knee strike to the head.

Ciampa appeared to be heading backstage, but then lowered his knee pad and charged in with another knee to the head. Not finished, Ciampa cleared off the announce table on the platform at the side of the stage. He hoisted Gargano up for an Air Raid Crash, but instead of crashing through the table, he leapt backwards off the table and platform entirely, driving Gargano through some other tables set up below.

Ciampa took a seat atop the announce table and looked down at his dirty work as referees and medical officials tended to Gargano, and the show went off air.

Zim Says: Hell of a ladder match and hell of a show-closing angle. The match was wild and played to both team’s strengths. The Authors have proven they can be good as long as they have opponents who can work, and boy can #DIY work. There were a few scary spots and a few that popped me big, which is kind of the expected norm for ladder matches I suppose. This one exceeded my expectations, as I was pretty unsure what to expect going in.

As for the turn, it was something they hinted at so heavily early on so I think it caught some people by surprise here. It makes sense though, as there’s not much left for them as a team unless they go to the main roster and I think they have a lot to offer individually. The feud should be great and I’m really looking forward to following each guy going forward.

Overall, this show delivered really strong in terms of in-ring quality, but it certainly wasn’t very fan friendly as far as finishes go. Everything on the show met or exceeded expectations so in that regard it gets a thumbs up. That said and with hindsight, this show feels like more of a stepping-stone live special then it does a real conclusive live special. I think that will cause some people to have mixed feelings on it, but like the direction it set and there are a lot of moving pieces in NXT right now that I’m really enjoying and want to track the progress of closely.

Fortunately I’m in a great position to do just that, so be sure to read along with me every week as the show airs live on the WWE Network. Before that however, head on over to the members side for what’s sure to be a top-tier discussion and recap between myself and Jason Powell. Thanks for reading along tonight.

Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Corrections? Reach me on Twitter @DotNetZim.

5/20 NXT TV taping spoilers: Matches taped in Chicago for upcoming TV (spoilers)

We are looking for reports on all WWE, NXT, Impact Wrestling, ROH, Evolve, and other notable live events. If you attend a show, you are encouraged to send a report or even basic results to dotnetjason@gmail.com

Dot Net reader DJ Gunderson attended the NXT Takeover event in Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena and sent the following report on the matches taped for NXT television.

1. Aleister Black over Curt Hawkins.

2. Velveteen Dream beat Robert Anthony.

3. Drew McIntyre beat Wesley Blake.

5/20 Zim’s NXT Takeover: Chicago Pre-Show Report

By Zack Zimmerman

NXT Takeover: Chicago
Aired on WWE Network
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena

Charly Caruso, Nigel McGuinness, and Peter Rosenberg hosted the pre-show panel from a desk set up in the arena. The Champions: Authors of Pain, Asuka, and Bobby Roode were all shown arriving to the arena, respectively.

They threw to Kayla Braxton and Vic Joseph who were correspondents out in the crowd. They had to deal with the crowd being obnoxious and chanting for CM Punk before transitioning to a video package building up the WWE UK Championship match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. It was the same video that appeared on NXT this past week.

UK Champion Tyler Bate was shown arriving to the arena. Both Rosenberg and McGuinness predicted Dunne would win… [C]

A video package hyped the ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championships between The Authors of Pain and #DIY. The panel talked about the match a bit; Nigel predicted AOP to retain, while Rosenberg said something about being in Chicago benefiting #DIY so he’s taking them. There was no mention of Ciampa’s reported injury coming out of the NXT house show…

A video package recapped the build to the NXT Women’s Championship triple-threat, with Asuka interfering in the No. 1 contender’s battle royal, Ember Moon’s injury taking her out of the match, and the subsequent brawls between the remaining ladies involved: Asuka, Ruby Riot, and Nikki Cross. Asuka vowed to remain champion forever.

Back at the panel, Ember Moon had joined them. She said that she’s disappointed to not be involved in the match, but looking back she’s thankful her injury wasn’t worse. Ember said that whether Asuka is champion or not coming out of tonight, she will get her revenge on Asuka… [C]

A graphic advertised Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young… Backstage, Strong was standing by for an interview, which he kept very brief. He told Young that he will never mention Strong’s family again. It was very threatening and Strong walked off the set…

A video package promoted the main event of Takeover Chicago, with Bobby Roode defending the NXT Title against Hideo Itami. The video pulled together all of the clips featured throughout this past week’s episode. It showed Itami’s multiple injuries and Itami admitted that he’s been very disappointed in himself.

Roode said that Itami is the last remaining piece of the old, stale NXT, so he’s going to get rid of him once and for all. Itami was shown laying Roode out twice with the GTS in the past month… Back at the panel, they agreed that the crowd would come unglued if Itami hit the GTS in Chicago of all places. Rosenberg admitted he’s rooting for Itami but predicted Roode. McGuinness called it a pick ’em and said it’s 50/50. They wrapped up and transitioned to the start of Takeover Chicago…

Zim Says: Why didn’t Charly get to make any predictions?