This has been by far the most I've been intrigued and invested in a singles feud in years, especially for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. There are just so many variables and moving parts in this storyline that make it interesting and unpredictable in mind, which is when wrestling is at its peak. You have the new star in AJ Styles but I'm still not sure if WWE is all-in on him since he's not one of "their guys". He has the potential to be a superstar for WWE but I'm not sold on the fact that WWE is willing to make that jump with him. You have Roman Reigns seemingly in the midst of some sort of heel turn, or at least to the point where WWE isn't going to try to make him John Cena 2.0 and let Roman live in a shade of grey. He's not a bad guy, he's not a good guy, he's just THE guy. I like it and think its smart. It also gives the Usos a shot on the arm and makes them a little more interesting than they've been in years.
You also have Gallows and Anderson hanging around, behaving a little bit more on the "bad guy" side of things than AJ Styles would prefer apparently. Is this leading to a turn on Styles from Gallows and Anderson? Or is this just a facade The Club is putting on and AJ eventually wins the title from Reigns? Or is this just the perfect feud for Reigns to carry him into summer as a tweener/heel to set up something with Ambrose/Rollins when Rollins returns? Or does this feud feed into a Reigns/Cena feud at SummerSlam? Or with all build-up with Styles and The Club is this the transition point to the main roster for Finn Balor? All these questions and uncertainties have me all-in on this feud and looking forward to this match the most tonight. Part of me hopes its this match is the last installment in the feud so we have a definitive ending to the feud and part of me hopes this is just the next chapter in a great feud whose story isn't over yet.
Part of my excitement for this part just stems from this being an extension of Reigns/Styles from above but I'm also real excited that this is a Tornado Tag Match. Those were always the most fun matches for me to play on the RAW vs. SmackDown video games and I think they are underutilized in WWE. You got everyone doing something at one time and action all over the place. I've been watching some matches on WWE's "100 Greatest Matches of All Time" list recently and a lot of those matches take place away from the ring and it made me think of how rarely that is done these days. So I'm hoping this type of match leads to more of that tonight. And I'm not a NJPW guy so I haven't really seen much of what Gallows and Anderson are capable of. This should be a perfect opportunity to show guys like me who haven't seen much of their NJPW stuff what they can do.
Maybe it's just me but isn't this the perfect role for The Miz? I've probably been in the minority on this for awhile but I've always enjoyed The Miz and his schtick. In a WWE world that can often be short on actual heels, and not "cool, want to cheer them" heels, I think The Miz can be an important player for them. With a little work I'd still buy him as a WWE World Heavyweight Champion again in the near future. But again I think I'm in the very small minority there so him as a heel Intercontinental Champion is perfect for The Miz in my eyes. Especially against Cesaro, Owens, and Zayn.
With Cesaro, Owens, and Zayn you are getting three guys that the wrestling fans on the internet LOVE. They are three guys that can completely go in the ring and have been around the world to pay their dues. The Miz is a perfect foil for these guys. And a fatal four way match is a perfect match for The Miz to retain his title and not have any of the other guys come out looking worse. Miz can weasle his way into a win and talk about that for the next month or so and be incredibly over-the-top annoying with it. And it will make people hate him even more.
I'm not sure that's the way it will go down tonight. That's where I would go with it and will be my prediction for the match but I could see Cesaro or Zayn walk away with the title as well and transition into new feuds or new iterations of feuds between these four men or possibly others. But all the variations of this seem fresh and exciting. With this group of guys and other guys from "The New Era" competing for the Intercontinental Championship it should lead to some great matches and feuds in the next year or so, harkening back to when HHH/The Rock, HBK/Razor, or Bret Hart/Mr. Perfect all battled for the same belt to propel their careers to the next level.
Now granted, I'm a big Dolph Ziggler mark but I feel like tonight's a big night for Dolph and his future and I don't think it's going to go his way. Is Ziggler's role here really just to put over the new NXT guy and make him look strong? I know it's professional wrestling so Ziggler could lose here tonight and still be in a big feud in a month or so but this doesn't look good for Dolph. Is he really going to come out on the losing end of a feud to Baron Corbin? That just doesn't seem right.
And again, maybe this is just the mark in me but I was watching this promo from last week from Ziggler on the wwe.com and it did make me think. This guy has been with the company for around a decade now, a hell of a worker, over as anyone in the company at one point, and he's the underdog in the feud? Just seems off. Maybe I see more in him that I should but at Survivor Series about 18 months ago Dolph was in a position to make a huge run but they never actually gave him a ball to run with. When he cashed in his MITB briefcase against Del Rio it was one of the loudest pops I've ever heard. I realize that was basically ages ago now but I think WWE has gold with this guy but won't cash in on him. And now it looks like he is positioned to decisively lose a feud to a rookie. Just seems crazy to me. And maybe I'm wrong and Dolph does get a victory here. Or maybe this leads to something bigger for Dolph. Or maybe this feud just ends in some type of draw and doesn't really matter. But I'm interested to see what WWE thinks they have in Dolph going forward and tonight I think is a big indicator. I'm just afraid the answer is going to be that Dolph is more likely to be wrestling Cody Rhodes somewhere outside a WWE ring in a year or so than he is inside a WWE ring wrestling for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Started last month picking matches against the spreads posted online to see if I could turn a profit. I started with $1,000 in imaginary money and put it on a variety of matches. Here was the results from the first PPV.
$300 on Miz (-110) wins $572.73
$300 on Owens (+105) wins $615.00
$200 on Regins (-475) wins $242.11
That puts me currently at $1,229.84, a net gain of $229.84 in the first month.
I was planning on doing that again this month but before I could get my fake bets in it appears as the betting lines for tonight's matches have already dramatically shifted, likely signaling who the strong favorites to win tonight are. So I will not be betting or posting those lines here so they don't ruin the event for you tonight. Not saying those shifts in the betting lines always accurately predict who will win but they are generally pretty accurate. So instead, I will just post my confidence picks I had written in before I saw the new betting lines and will make sure to get my bets in earlier for the next PPV.
PS - Ziggler
7 - Gallows and Anderson
6 - Charlotte
5 - New Day
4 - The Miz
3 - Rusev
2 - Jericho
1 - AJ Styles
*Asylum Match - Always fun to see a new match even if it is basically an old match you've seen just with a tiny twist and a different name. But Ambrose and Jericho are both great and the stipulation should lead to an entertaining match.
*Tag Team Title Match - I don't think it has a lot of legs but I do enjoy what the Vaudevillains bring to the table. It's different and entertaining and it's something new. I can't see those two in the same gimmick in 5 years but it should be fun while it lasts. And I think we get the Enzo return here in this match either during it or at the end so that should be fun as well.
*US Title Match - I think Rusev gets the win here and the WWE tries to build him back up a little bit again. I'm hearing speculation that Rusev and the US title will be Cena's returning feud but I just don't see that happening. I think Cena will have bigger fish to fry upon his return and I don't think that would benefit Rusev much either.
*Charlotte vs. Natalya - Excited to see how this plays out. With no Flair at ringside it would make sense for Natalya to finally get her moment and win the Women's Championship. But I don't think the WWE is ready to take the title away from Charlotte (nor should they be for that matter) and if Natalya was going to get the belt wouldn't it have made more sense to do it at the last PPV with Bret there after his return from cancer? Can't see it happening tonight either.