Fans often get excited when a former WWE talent hits the independent circuit to ply their trade in more intimate environments, but no superstar in recent memory has caused as much of a stir in the wrestling world with their post-WWE career plans as former 6-time tag team champion and 2-time Intercontinental Champion, Cody Rhodes.
After releasing the now infamous checklist in May, Rhodes is lining up a who’s who of dream matches that fill the remainder of 2016, beginning on August 19th in Joppa, MD at Evolve 66 and continue through Ring of Honor’s Final Battle pay-per-view on December 2nd in New York City.
In one of the most relaxed and conversational interviews we’ve had on the show, Cody joined this week’s Chad Dukes Wrestling Show for an amazing 20-minute discussion on topics ranging from land dealings with Bray Wyatt to his upcoming part on CW’s Arrow to Evolve and Ring of Honor to the chance we see him in the Lucha Underground temple and more.
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Payback airs tonight on the WWE Network, and is being billed as the first major event of the “New Era.”
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
The main event perhaps best epitomizes what the “New Era” may entail – establishment versus independents. Reigns has been finding his way as the official face of the company for about a month, while embracing the jeers of the WWE Universe with a slightly smug swagger. An outside observer might view Reigns as a champion grown in a sterile environment – the bloodline, professional football player, has only ever wrestled in a WWE/developmental ring. Combine this with the swoonworthy looks and the marketing department of a publicly traded company, and you have a relatively young guy (not yet 31) who can parade around on talk shows in a suit and ponytail, carrying the belt with the giant company logo.
Compare and contrast to beloved Internet darling and independent “journeyman” AJ Styles. This list of indy titles, awards, and 5-star matches he’s accumulated in a 14-year career has made him one of the most respected wrestlers alive. However, he’s a 38-year old who has gotten called “rookie” on an uncomfortably regular basis. And, there will be ~18,000 people in attendance whose emotions would range from “not that upset” to “over-the-moon ecstatic” if he finds a way to win the strap tonight.
That dichotomy is only half the bout. Lurking ringside will undoubtedly be the Gallows and Machine Gun, fresh off demolishing the Usos in a fashion not often seen since the APA vs. Public Enemy. I think it’s widely expected that some form of “Club” will result from this match – Gallows, Anderson, and AJ Styles? Or, Gallows, Anderson, and Finn Balor? Or, Gallows, Anderson… and Roman Reigns? The “New Era” will almost certainly commence with the dawning of a new super stable.
Prediction: Roman Reigns retains, and Gallows and Gun align with the Roman Empire. Continue reading →
WWE Roadblock – WWE
The March 12th WWE Network special in Toronto has been renamed WWE Roadblock and will feature a WWE Championship Match between Triple H & Dean Ambrose.
JR Interview Preview – Lords of Pain
As part of joining AXS TV’s New Japan Pro Wrestling, Jim Ross will be interviewed on “The Voice Versus” hosted by Michael Schiavello this Friday. AXS has released the clip above with JR detailing his firing from WWE.
Ziggler on Sportscenter – Wrestling, INC
Dolph Ziggler was the guest on last night’s WWE Sportscenter segment discussing Wrestlemania, his stand-up comedy, the Cleveland Cavaliers and more.
It’s amazing what WWE can do to turn a crowd around sometimes. In the same arena where he was booed out of the building after winning the Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns captured his second WWE Championship to a raucous ovation.
The victory was the culmination of show-long tensions between Reigns and the McMahon family after Reigns’ assault of Triple H to close last night’s TLC pay-per-view. With a returning Vince McMahon in control of the show, Reigns was given an ultimatum win or go home. After nearly claiming the title on a Superman punch, McMahon interrupted the pin pulling referee John Cone out to begin the Chairman’s attempt at a Philadelphia screw job. Occupying the referee, McMahon’s distraction allowed League of Nations members Alberto Del Rio & Rusev to strike. Ultimately Reigns dished out Superman punches for all including Vince McMahon and hit the spear for the win.
This is the first WWE World Heavyweight Championship title change on free television since either 2013 or 2011, depending on which championship lineage you subscribe to:
-Dolph Ziggler cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Championship (the Big Gold Belt) in April of 2013 from Alberto Del Rio on Raw.
-John Cena defeated Rey Mysterio on Raw to win the “interim” WWE Championship in July of 2011 during the CM Punk “walkout” angle.
A very exciting end to Raw and now WWE will likely shift its focus to who will win the Royal Rumble and challenge Reigns at WrestleMania. Heavy money has to be on a Lesnar-Reigns WrestleMania rematch, but there are other possibilities like HHH-Reigns or Cena-Reigns as WWE looks toward Dallas.
UFC President Dana White joined the Chad Dukes Wrestling Show on Thursday afternoon to discuss the new season of the Ultimate Fighter, an update on CM Punk, the relationship with Fox Sports, UFC Fight Night New Jersey on April 18th, and Ronda Rousey’s WrestleMania involvement.
White also talked about recent negotiations with Brock Lesnar. Despite the rumors to the contrary, White told Dukes that the UFC wasn’t very close at all to re-signing the Beast Incarnate.
“Not very close at all. We’d known that Brock was probably going to take a pass and go back to wrestling, which was the right move. You know, Brock came in here, he did incredible things and he got a great deal from Vince [McMahon]. He’s 38 years old, man. It makes all the sense in the world.”
Check out the entire interview below, check out UFC Fight Night Saturday on Fox Sports 1 and FOX, and thank you to Mr. President for joining the show!