I'm looking over this card, and I'm not sure if I'm less tuned-in to what's going on in the wrestling universe than I had been, or if this pay-per-view is just a mish-mash of nonsense. Based on my expectations of the WWE, I would guess it's the latter. Still, could be some okay action at least. Let's get started.
Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley
I wonder if this would've seemed a cleaner storyline if Ryder hadn't gotten hurt. As it is, it feels kind of irrelevant, which is okay, and unexciting, which isn't. When a tag team breaks up violently, you want the split to generate some fun segments, surprising interferences, etc. This has been kind of a slapdash concoction that seems like it expects to get by just by following the standard formula.
I don't think this rivalry will go head-to-head for too much longer, so I expect this to be the culmination of the main storyline here. And I think Mojo wins that main storyline.
My prediction: Rawley via pin
Breezango vs. Bludgeon Brothers
I can't imagine how Breezango would win this fight. Maybe The Ascension interferes? Who knows. The smart pick is 2B, with for a tag title match at Royal Rumble.
My prediction: Bludgeon Brothers via pin
Smackdown Women's Championship Lumberjack Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Natalya
I'm kind of getting the sense that something is going to happen with this championship and the RAW women's title that prompts the implementation of a first-ever women's Royal Rumble. The call-ups of Ruby Riot(t) et. al., the return of Paige, Carmella still having the Money in the Bank briefcase, and the generally open nature of the RAW title picture makes me think that chaos is coming.
For this particular match, I expect things to break down early and often, and the whole scene to conclude in absolute disaster. I could see Carmella cashing in and then getting screwed out of winning the title by Becky Lynch, and then the resolution of the whole deal being related to the Royal Rumble.
My prediction: Flair wins via pinfall
United States Championship Match: Baron Corbin (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Bobby Roode
I actually kind of have high hopes for this match. Corbin had a great match against The Miz at Survivor Series, which I didn't expect at all from either of those two. Bobby Roode is tremendous in the ring, and Ziggler might be even better. If these guys all meet their potential, this could be a match-of-the-year possibility.
As far as what to expect? It seems like Ziggler is kind of an afterthought these days, so it'd be really shocking to put the belt on him. I get the impression that after dropping the briefcase, Corbin is still slotted for a long-ish run as US champion. Ziggler is probably in the match to take a fall, so I think Corbin will get the drop on Ziggler.
My prediction: Corbin via pinfall on Ziggler
Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (with special referees Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan)
This match kind of feels similar to the women's championship match, where a lot of folks are in one place and nothing will get resolved by this. Nakamura put over Jinder a couple times, and I think he's on track for a big match versus A.J. Styles at the Rumble, or more likely Wrestlemania. That means he needs some noteworthy wins, and I think this is one of them.
More than a winner or loser, I'm interested to see the ending of match. Hopefully the culmination is something interesting, something that sets things off for "Wrestlemania season."
My prediction: Nakamura via pinfall on Zayn
SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable vs. Rusev and Aiden English
So, this is a match where I could see a lot of different things happening, and that's good. But when I think more about it, I think the answer becomes a little clearer.
Rusev is over as hell right now with his whole Rusev Day gimmick, so he doesn't really need a win, and obviously neither does Aiden English.
The New Day has done most of what they can with the titles, at least for the time being. I think the WWE would be better off mixing them up some more. All three of those guys put on exceptional matches.
So it's down to The Usos retaining or Benjamin and Gable winning. Either team should theoretically get run over by Harper and Rowen down the line, but I saw the Natural Disasters lose multiple times to Money Inc., so not everything is "monsters win."
If Jason Jordan was still with Gable, I'd lean on the Usos, but I think Shelton Benjamin brings the clout of the team up a notch, and a notch is all it will take. Plus remember how awesome Team Angle was? Maybe we can get some of that flavor back, with these two looking primed to turn heel any day now.
My prediction: Benjamin via pinfall on Rusev (for the inevitable boos)
WWE Championship Match: A.J. Styles (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
This seems like too easy an answer, right? The easy answer is for the Singh Brothers to pretend to be allied with Styles, side with Jinder again, but still come up short. Styles is a great guy to have as champion because you have a really great shot at a great main event for each of your pay-per-views.
I think this formula is simple enough even the WWE will understand it. This is a company that generally knows how to put a great champion on top. Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Stone Cold, Triple H, Kurt Angle, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, CM Punk, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, these are all guys who can tell a story in the ring, and most of them are excellent, impressive wrestlers. Styles fits the bill there as well.
So, like I said, I'm going with Styles retaining.
My prediction: Styles via submission
The last SmackDown-only PPV was Hell in a Cell, which I really enjoyed. So the bar is high, hopefully they meet it. See you next week for a recap!
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