By Jason Powell
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WWE Battleground 2016
Aired July 24, 2016 live on WWE Network
Washington, D.C. at Verizon Center
A video package with the various wrestlers holding flags opened the show. They focussed heavily on the former members of The Shield… Michael Cole introduced the show and noted that there were 15,109 fans in attendance. Cole was joined on commentary by JBL and Byron Saxton.
As Charlotte and Dana Brooke made their way to the ring, Cole noted that he and Saxton will continue to call Raw, and JBL said he is going home to Smackdown Live. They also introduced several foreign broadcast teams.
Sasha Banks made her entrance. Once she was in the ring, Sasha looked at the entrance ramp and nodded. Bayley’s music played and she came out to a great reaction. Sasha smiled as Bayley made her entrance. Cole ran through the history of Bayley with Charlotte and Sasha…
1. Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley. Charlotte and Dana attacked Sasha and Bayley from behind to start the match. There was a very clumsy head-scissors by Sasha on Charlotte that looked scary, but Charlotte got up quickly and the match continued. Bayley tagged in and worked over Brooke briefly until she was distracted by Charlotte, allowing Brooke to trip her up.
JBL said his sources told him that this was a one-time opportunity for Bayley to be in WWE. He told viewers not to get used to the team. Bayley tagged in Sasha, who worked over Charlotte. A short time later, Charlotte performed the Natural Selection on Sasha, but Bayley broke up the pin.
Charlotte went for a Figure Eight, but Sasha countered into a Bank Statement. Brooke pulled Charlotte to the ropes to break it up. Bayley took out Brooke, then Sasha hit the Backstabber on Charlotte and put her in the Bank Statement until she tapped out. Afterward, Sasha and Bayley built up to a big hug…
Sasha Banks and Bayley defeated Charlotte and Dana Brooke in 7:25.
Powell’s POV: It was good to finally see Bayley on the main roster. I’m not crazy about the idea of sending her back to NXT, but perhaps it’s just long enough for her to work the NXT event during SummerSlam weekend and then she’ll be called up as a “free agent.” Either way, it was great to hear the live crowd so hot for a women’s match.
A WWE Network commercial aired for WWE Ride Along… The broadcast team spoke at ringside about Bayley. Saxton asked JBL for a hug, but JBL passed. Cole set up a video package on the New Day vs. Wyatt Family feud…
New Day made their entrance. Xavier Woods boasted that at of Wednesday, they are the longest running WWE Tag Champion Champions of all-time. Big E boasted that they were all drafted to Raw together. Kofi said they have to get serious, then noted that the draft split the Wyatt Family “like a Taylor Swift relationship.” Woods said it was the last time they would see the Wyatts and they would be more dangerous than ever. The Wyatt Family made their entrance…
2. Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods vs. Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, and Erick Rowan. Strowman started for the Wyatts and E started for New Day, but Woods wanted in and so did Wyatt. Kingston reached in and tagged himself in before anyone made contact. Strowman checked back in quickly and took Kingston down with a big boot.
Later, Big E hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Rowan and then followed up with a splash. A short time later, Kingston flipped over the top rope onto Strowman on the floor. New Day set up for their finisher, but Rowan avoided it. Wyatt checked in and was about to hit Sister Abigail on Kingston, but Woods entered the ring and spun Wyatt around. Woods went into his trance. Kingston leapt off the top rope, but Wyatt saw him coming and took him out.
Woods finally snapped and worked over Wyatt with punches and kicks. Woods knocked Wyatt down with a kick and then performed a top rope splash. Woods cleared Rowan from the ring. Strowman grabbed Woods, but Big E performed his spear to take out Rowan. Moments later, Wyatt performed Sister Abigail on Woods and pinned him…
The Wyatt Family defeated New Day in 8:55.
Powell’s POV: The story was that Woods overcame his fear of Wyatt by the end of the match, but the Wyatts still managed to win. It doesn’t really mean anything since Wyatt and Rowan are on Smackdown, while New Day is on Raw. Of course, WWE could blow off their own brand split at SummerSlam if they really want to have a rematch. Better yet, they could go back to this feud if they decide to have the champions float between the brands. The crowd was hot and the match was entertaining.
A WWE SummerSlam commercial aired for the August 21 event… The broadcast team spoke at ringside and Cole questioned who the champion will be and what brand the champion will work for. JBL said he’s rooting for Ambrose because he wants the title on Smackdown. Saxton took the opposing view. Cole read Roman Reigns’ tweet and hyped his return in the main event…
3. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Zack Ryder for the U.S. Championship. Lana asked the Americans to stand up, put their hands on their hearts, and welcome Rusev as the true American hero, their U.S. Champion, and her fiancee.
Rusev controlled the early offense. Ryder went for the Broski Boot in the corner, but Rusev caught his foot. Rusev went for a suplex, but Ryder landed on his feet and countered with a neckbreaker. Later, Ryder caught Rusev with a dropkick off the barricade.
Back inside the ring, Ryder hit the Rough Ryder and then went up top for a top rope elbow, but Rusev put his knees up. Rusev came back with a kick to the back of Ryder’s head. Rusev stomped Ryder’s back and then applied the Accolade. Ryder nearly fought out, so Rusev wrenched it into the silly version of the hold for the win.
Rusev defeated Zack Ryder to retain the U.S. Championship in 7:00.
After the match, Rusev put the boots to Ryder. Mojo Rawley’s music played and he ran out and got in Rusev’s face while yelling and beating his chest. Rusev left the ring while Mojo checked on Ryder, then stood up and let out a primal scream…
Powell’s POV: The crowd was not as hot for this match as they were the two previous matches. Rawley seemed to be the person most excited by his main roster debut. Granted, he seems to be more excited about everything than everyone, but this was not a hot debut and he had to look dorky to newcomers by being so, well, hyped. I did get a kick out of Rusev just looking at Rawley with a straight face while Mojo flipped out.
After an ad, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon tried to hype up Seth Rollins on bringing the title back to Raw. He compared himself to Tom Brady and LeBron James. Rollins called Roman Reigns a wild animal and accused him of attacking him at a live event for no reason. Rollins said he would wipe the floor with both men. He predicted there would be a boom of babies named Rollins in nine months or so…
The broadcast team spoke at ringside and then set up a Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn video package that recapped their history…
4. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. Sami went right for his finisher, but Owens ducked to ringside. Zayn followed, but Owens was ready and ran him into the barricade. Owens dominated Zayn early on with some good offense, putting Sami in the right position of working from underneath.
Around 7:00, Zayn caught Owens with a clothesline and then followed up with a Michinoku Driver for a two count. Owens rolled to ringside. Zayn was going to run the ropes for a dive, but Owens reached in and grabbed his foot. Owens went for a powerbomb, but Zayn escaped and went for a springboard move only to land on his right shoulder. The broadcast team had to acknowledge it and recalled his shoulder surgery.
Zayn held his right forearm and shook it repeatedly. Zayn used the bad arm to throw punches at Owens while both men were on the ropes. Sami used headbutts to knock Owens off the ropes. Zayn went for a top rope move. Owens jumped up. Zayn leapt over Owens and landed on his feet. Owens caught Zayn with a superkick. At 10:15 Owens applied the crossface and the broadcast team was quick to point out that it was on the bad arm of Zayn.
After Zayn escaped, Owens caught him with a clothesline. Zayn came right back with an exploder suplex into the corner. Zayn set up for his finisher. Owens rolled to ringside. Cole did a nice job of saying that Owens knows Zayn so well that he saw it coming and rolled out of the ring. Zayn went up top. Owens grabbed him. They jockeyed for position. Zayn won and then shook his bad arm before suplexing Owens onto the edge of the bring apron at 12:15.
The fans chanted “this is awesome” as both men were down at ringside. Zayn returned to the ring, and Owens scrambled to return at nine. Both men remained down on the mat in the ring. Zayn continued to sell the bad arm while trading punches with Owens. There were dueling chants of “Let’s Go Owens” and “Sami Zayn.” Sami won the punching battle, as Owens covered up and then rolled to ringside.
Zayn went for his dive between the ropes for his tornado DDT, but Owens was waiting with a superkick to the head. Back in the ring, Owens performed a cannonball and then went to the top rope and performed a frogsplash for a good near fall at 15:20. Zayn came back with a pair of safe exploder suplexes and got a really good near fall that left the fans standing and cheering.
Owens performed a Popup Powerbomb and had Zayn pinned, but Zayn put his foot on the bottom rope. Owens showed his frustration. There were loud “this is awesome” chants. “Why won’t you stay down?” Owens asked before slapping Zayn. Owens told Zayn not to make him do this. Zayn motioned for Owens to bring it and slapped him back
Zayn threw an exploder suplex in the corner and then another in mid-ring. Zayn performed a Helluva Kick in the corner. Owens was out. Zayn stopped him from falling and set him up in the corner. Zayn performed another Helluva Kick and then got the three count…
Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens in 19:15.
Powell’s POV: Good luck to whoever has to follow this, everyone else on the card to even come close to topping this, and to WWE creative when it comes to living up to the hype that this would be their last match. My guess is that the Owens character won’t be able to accept the finish and will make Sami’s life miserable until they have another match. Sami didn’t seem to be selling arm pain after the match, so it appears he dodged a bullet on that botched springboard moonsault attempt.
The pre-show panel spoke about the Zayn vs. Owens match. Zayn said he wishes everyone in WWE would stab their best friend in the back because the match was awesome. Graves also raved about Bayley making her debut. Lawler hyped the main event. Booker spoke about how close Ryder came to winning the U.S. Title, and said Rusev was just too big and powerful…
5. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch. Lynch gave her goggles to a fan as she headed to the ring. Natalya worked over the left knee of Lynch. Natalya avoided the Disarmer at 5:30, but Lynch caught her with a kick. Lynch sold the knee afterward. Lynch performed an exploder suplex and got a two count. Natalya went for a discus clothesline, but Lynch caught it and went for her finisher. Natalya avoided it.
A short time later, Natalya applied the Sharpshooter. Lynch crawled to the ropes to break the hold at 7:45. Lynch performed a missile dropkick that led to a two count. Lynch threw punches at Natalya in the corner and the ref stood between them. Natalya used the distraction to kick Lynch. Natalya applied the Sharpshooter again. Lynch fought to get to the ropes, but Natalya dragged her to mid-ring where Lynch tapped out…
Natalya defeated Becky Lynch via submission in 9:00.
Powell’s POV: I feel bad for both women. They had a perfectly fine match, but the live crowd never got engaged because they were still recovering from the previous match. I like Natalya going over in that it keeps the feud going.
Backstage, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan gave Dean Ambrose a pep talk about coming out of the main event with the title. Bryan said he had wars with The Shield. He said “we” never worried about Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins, they worried about Ambrose. Bryan said Ambrose is the best repeatedly.
Ambrose said that of all the guys he beat up, Bryan was his favorite. “That sounded a lot better in my head,” Ambrose said. Ambrose added that he would show the world why they drafted him number one. He said he is the WWE Champion and that’s how it will be and that’s how it will stay…
A SummerSlam commercial hyped Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton…
6. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund) for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz and Maryse both wore masks that were straight out of the Eyes Wide Shut movie, which JBL acknowledged. The crowd was quiet to start this match, but they did react to an early chop from Young, and a bit when Miz pushed Young off the ropes and down to the floor.
Miz went for his old Reality Check finisher, but Young blocked that. Miz fought for a backslide. Young blocked it and then performed a backslide on Miz for two. They got to their feet and Miz caught Young with a kick to the face. Miz put the boots to Young, then played to the crowd for some minor heat. Young caught a charging Miz with a clothesline.
Young had a nice run of offense and tried to wake up the crowd. Backlund called for Young to perform his finisher. Miz tried to leave. Backlund stopped him. With Miz back in the ring, Maryse slapped Backund across the face and then sat down and acted like Backlund shoved her.
Backlund geeked up and tore his own shirt. Miz shoved Backlund down. Young applied the Crossface Chickenwing on the floor. The referee called for the bell. Young continued to attack Miz despite referees trying to pull him off. Young looked at his hands afterwards just as Backlund once did.
The Miz fought Darren Young to an apparent double count-out in 9:00.
Powell’s POV: The crowd was still pretty flat. At this point, I think you have to look at the wrestlers not being all that over rather than still pointing to the Zayn vs. Owens match. However, the fans did seem to warm up to Young as the match went on and they didn’t like when Miz shoved Backlund to the ground.
Another WWE 2K17 commercial aired and focussed on Brock Lesnar… The broadcast team spoke briefly at ringside about Lesnar being drafted by Raw. Cole set up a video package for the six-man tag match and said it’s the last time the teams would be together because of the draft…
Ring entrances for the six-man tag match took place. Cena was out first. Cole hyped that Cena will co-host NBC’s “Today” on Monday morning. Enzo delivered his pre-match routine from the floor and the crowd was into it.
Enzo said The Club are like teenage girls in the Scream movie trilogy. “We all know you’re going to make a bad decision,” he said. They had some “How you doin’?” fun with Enzo giving advice that included “don’t wear crocks…ever” and do not make eye contact with anyone while eating a banana. Enzo was censored at one point. Cena raised Enzo’s hand at one point. Cass took his turn and spoke about Styles looking like a soccer mom
Powell’s POV: The problem of the live crowd being flat was solved by Enzo, who was tremendous again even by his high standards. Poor Cass got some love for mentioning the host city and the SAWFT routine, but the rest of his brief skit felt like Natalya vs. Lynch being asked to follow Zayn vs. Owens. Cena is a great talker, but he was wise to stay the hell off the mic in this case.
7. John Cena, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass vs. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson. JBL said Enzo’s haircut looked like he was mad at his head. Funny. Enzo sold for The Club early, then made a hot tag. Cena checked in and worked over Styles with some of his signature offense. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment. Styles landed on his feet and performed a Pele Kick.
Cena ended up hitting the AA and had Styles pinned, but Anderson pulled Cena to ringside and performed a spinebuster onto the German broadcast table. Enzo leapt off the steps and performed a wicked DDT. Cena returned to the ring at nine to beat the ref’s count.
Styles performed the Styles Clash and had Cena beat, but Big Cass pulled Styles to the floor. Cass drilled Styles with a big boot. Gallows attacked Cass from behind. In the ring, Gallows and Anderson hit their Magic Killer finisher on Cass. Enzo was game to take on Anderson and Gallows by himself.
Enzo dodged a charging Anderson and ran him through the ropes, then squared off with Gallows. The fans chanted for Enzo, who ran into a big boot by Gallows. Legal man Cena returned to the ring and avoided a charging Gallows. Legal man Styles went to the top rope, but Cena hit the ropes and crotched Styles on the top rope. Cena got ride of Gallows, then tried to put Styles on his shoulders while standing on the middle rope. Cena eventually hit an AA from the second rope and pinned Styles…
John Cena, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass beat AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in 16:00.
Powell’s POV: This turned into more of a brawl than a six-man tag with actual rules, but everything about it was fun. From Enzo’s pre-match mic work and through the finish, the live crowd was hot for the match. I am very curious to see where they go with Styles, Anderson, and Gallows now that Styles is Smackdown bound, and Anderson and Gallows are on Raw.
Ads aired for Swerved, the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, and Holy Foley… Cole spoke briefly as a shot aired of the Lincoln Memorial…
Chris Jericho made his entrance for The Highlight Reel segment with Randy Orton. Jericho heeled on the crowd by telling them “quiet” repeatedly. He said this was the biggest Highlight Reel ever, and hyped Orton’s match with Lesnar for SummerSlam. Orton made his entrance wearing a new t-shirt and spoke to the crowd without a mic about how he’s been waiting nine months to be back.
Orton said DC got him in such a good mood that he doesn’t even mind that he has to share the ring with “this guy.” Jericho wasn’t pleased. Jericho worked in some praise for Stephanie McMahon as the Raw Commissioner. He also set up a video package for Lesnar that aired on the big screen (and the Jeri-Tron).
Jericho asked Orton if he saw all those suplexes. Jericho said the human body is not meant to fold like that. He said Orton knows this because he started at the same time as Lesnar. Jericho accused Orton of avoiding Lesnar and being afraid of him. Jericho questioned why Orton would make the muttonheaded decision to face Lesnar.
Orton said he and Jericho are not cut from the same cloth. He said he wanted to make a statement by facing the biggest and baddest man in the locker room when he returned. He said that just happened to be Lesnar. Orton asked how big of an impact he would have made if he had returned after nine months and faced Fandango. The fans got the reference to Jericho’s WrestleMania match.
Jericho said he never liked Orton. Jericho said Lesnar will bounce Orton around like a rubber ball and will take him to Suplex City. Orton said he’s known Lesnar for 15 years and he has no doubt that Lesnar will suplex him over and over again with a smile on his face. Orton said it takes 15-20 suplexes to get to Suplex City, but it only takes one RKO to get to Viperville. “No enhancements needed,” Orton said before dropping the mic, which drew a favorable reaction from the crowd.
Jericho said something tells him that Orton will pay for that little comment. Orton laughed. Jericho said he knows someone who is very close to Lesnar and he had a couple of messages to relay for him. Jericho said that Brock says Orton is a coward for avoiding him for 15 years. Jericho said Brock will rip Orton’s arm off and eat it for breakfast. Jericho claimed Lesnar called Orton a “stupid idiot” and added “Brock’s words, not mine.”
Jericho said Orton was twitching. He asked him if he was going to give him an RKO out of nowhere. “You’re not going to do a damn thing,” Jericho said. He told Orton to worry about Lesnar at SummerSlam and stay out of his business. Orton spun Jericho around and then laughed at him. When Jericho let his guard down, Orton hit the RKO to a big pop…
Powell’s POV: An excellent verbal segment. Jericho may have delivered his finest work as a heel talkshow host. Orton showed more personality than he has in years. He’s not just the silent and deadly Viper, he was much more personable and relatable. They also did a really nice job of putting over the Orton vs. Lesnar match. The “no enhancements needed” line was a fun scripted dig. I say “scripted” because it would be pretty rich for Orton to work that in without permission given his own history.
The broadcast team hyped the main event and spoke about how they would find out which brand would get the WWE Championship…
A video package aired on The Shield members… Separate shots aired of the Raw and Smackdown locker rooms as Cole spoke about how they were all watching because the winner of the main event would bring the title to his respective locker room…
Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Daniel Bryan made their entrances and took their spots at ringside for the main event. Bryan got a huge reaction and a big Yes! chant…
Seth Rollins made his entrance and was applauded by Stephanie, Foley, and some fans. Bearded Roman Reigns made his entrance to a lot of boos. Cole said there are questions about Roman’s mindset coming off the suspension. JBL spoke about how Reigns hasn’t fought in a month and how that could be an advantage. Stephanie applauded Reigns, though not as enthusiastically as she did Rollins.
Ambrose made his entrance to a nice ovation and was cheered by Shane and Bryan. Cole spoke about the pressure that Ambrose has to win the title to keep it on the Smackdown brand. JoJo handled the in-ring introductions for the championship match…
8. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship. There was a loud “Roman suck” chant as the three men stood in the ring. Rollins put his fist out for a Shield fist bump. Reigns immediately shoulder blocked him out of the ring. Reigns looked at Ambrose, then went after Rollins, who ran back inside the ring and was clotheslined back out by Ambrose. Reigns took a shot at Rollins, who ended up back in the ring.
Reigns eventually clotheslined Rollins to the floor. Ambrose rolled up Reigns for the first interaction between the two of them. Reigns returned the favor a short time later after Ambrose cleared Rollins to ringside. At 3:00, Ambrose went for a cross body block on Reigns, who knocked him down instead. Rollins returned and attacked Reigns from behind.
Rollins had a run of offense on both men. He hit Ambrose with a flying knee and ran him into the ring steps, then ran Reigns into the barricade. Rollins ran at Reigns on the floor and was backdropped into the timekeeper’s area. Reigns went after Rollins, but Ambrose ran the broadcast tables and dove onto Reigns and Rollins in the timekeeper’s area.
Reigns and Ambrose returned to the ring. Ambrose went up top and performed a missile dropkick on Reigns, then bulldogged him out of the corner. Later, Reigns had his time to shine. He hit Ambrose with a Superman Punch, then Rollins went for a springboard and leapt right into a Superman Punch. Reigns backed into his corner and went for a spear, but Ambrose kicked him. Moments later, all three men were down, and Stephanie was shown standing up and watching intently at ringside around 11:00.
A short time later, Ambrose and Rollins both worked over Reigns, which drew some Yes! chants. They teamed up for a powerbomb attempt that Reigns fought out of. Ambrose performed a suicide dive on Reigns. Rollins followed up by flipping over the top rope onto Reigns as well. The Raw locker room was shown watching the match.
Ambrose and Rollins cleared a table and performed 2/3 of the old Shield powerbomb that drove Reigns through the table. As Ambrose was looking down at Reigns, Rollins picked up a chair and hit him with it from behind while Cole quickly reminded viewers there are no disqualifications. Rollins also struck Reigns with the chair.
Rollins went for a buckle bomb on Ambrose back inside the ring, but Ambrose countered into a huracanrana. The Smackdown locker room was shown cheering. Ambrose went up top, but Rollins ran up to meeting and performed a superplex and then a falcon arrow for a two count.
Rollins went for a Pedigree, but Ambrose avoided it and catapulted him toward the ropes. Rollins caught himself and went to the ropes, but Ambrose caught him there. As they fought, Reigns recovered and powerbombed Ambrose and then caught Rollins with a boot before powerbombing him for a two count.
Ambrose avoided a Superman Punch, but Reigns kicked him in the gut and then went for a powerbomb. Ambrose avoided that and caught Reigns in a backslide for two. Reigns caught Ambrose with a pair of Superman Punches moments later. Rollins performed a Pedigree on Reigns for two.
Rollins went for the move again, but Reigns blocked it. Rollins countered into a bucklebomb, but Reigns performed a Superman punch and a spear. However, Ambrose caught Reigns with Dirty Deeds and pinned him…
Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat to retain the WWE Championship in 18:05.
After the match, Shane ran around the ring and celebrated with Bryan, then they joined Ambrose in the ring for a celebration. The dejected Raw locker room was shown, and the celebratory Smackdown locker room shot followed. Bryan led a Yes! chant, and Stephanie was shown looking upset with her hands on her hips while Foley just looked up at the scene in the ring with a smile.
Shane motioned to the back. John Cena led babyface and heel members of the Smackdown locker room to the ring for a celebration. Cole said he could not express how important this is for Smackdown Live. The Usos placed Ambrose on their shoulders while the Smackdown crew celebrated to end the live broadcast… A SummerSlam ad aired…
Powell’s POV: A good main event with the broadcast team and the locker room shots doing an effective job of selling the idea that only one brand could end up with the title. In fact, Cole had a nice night in general of selling the brand split. Of course, I don’t suspect Raw will actually go without a World Title for long, but it still worked in the moment. I’m not big on wrestlers breaking the babyface and heel barrier to celebrate as a brand, but this is an exception in that Ambrose’s win means they can all compete for the championship. Thus, I don’t take this as a “rah-rah Smackdown” moment as much as I do the wrestlers selfishly wanting to compete for the WWE Championship.
Overall, this was a strong show. The draft really overshadowed the event even though WWE tried to save the bulk of the draft hype for the final week, but the show was filled with good matches and the crowd was hot with the exception of a lull that followed the Owens vs. Zayn match. Battleground and the draft have me looking forward to Raw and Smackdown this week. Thanks for watching along with me. I’ll be back with Jake Barnett for a members’ audio review later tonight. Join us by signing up now via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Vice TV's "Dark Side of the Ring" executive producers Evan Husney and Jason Eisner discussing the March 24 second season premiere focusing on the Benoit family tragedy, plus their pro wrestling fandom, the show's name and origins, highlights of season two, Chris Jericho becoming the narrator, and much more...