Here is your Refresher Column for
Complete with Picks & Predictions
There's a lot of wrestling out there.
It's hard for most of us to keep up with it all, to keep track of who's feuding with whom and why.
I mean, it's hard for me, and it's my damn job.
So from here on out, my PPV previews are going to delve into the matchups and try to find a thread of continuity to explain why these matches are even taking place.
Think of it as a refresher course. I hope it's a help to some of you.
Here we go.
Kalisto vs Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin, who is making a face in that pic that looks like someone farted and he's SUPER pissed about it, has had a problem with Kalisto for like, ever. This feud has been going on so long, it has grandkids. So let's refresh ourselves, shall we? Why are these guys even fighting anyway?
How did we get here?:
It all started on the pre-draft episode of Raw on July 18, when Corbin beat down Sin Cara after their match, and Kalisto "made the save." After the draft, Kalisto cost him the #1 Contendership for the Intercontinental Title. Kalisto didn’t even win that match. Apollo Crews did. (Ha ha. Apollo Crews.) With Crews locked in a three week long program vs The Miz, Corbin focused all of the rage he has about his receding hairline and beat the piss out of Kalisto for two consecutive weeks:
I guess he got too rough with Kalisto, because the poor little guy was too injured to compete at Summerslam as was originally intended. Corbin was pissed about that too.
Then Kalisto went away for a while, and Corbin moved on to a thing with Apollo Crews that ended as quickly as it began, then another one with Jack Swagger of all people, and then Corbin was a surprise announcement as part of the Smackdown Survivor Series team. Turns out that was never the actual plan, though, as Kalisto returned from an almost three month absence and ruined Corbin's day.
This was a brand new side to Kalisto, a viciousness we'd never seen before. So of course, as Corbin was ruled medically unable to compete at Survivor Series, Kalisto was rewarded with a Cruiserweight Title opportunity by horribly biased babyface GM Daniel Bryan.
In that Cruiserweight Title match at Survivor Series, a miraculously healed Baron Corbin interfered and cost Kalisto the match (and Smackdown the Cruiserweight Division), then he cost Kalisto an Intercontinental Title match on the next Smackdown. Corbin was in big trouble, mister, and he was punished by Daniel Bryan. He was made to wrestle Kane, a man who is slightly bigger than him. Cruel and unusual. I'm pretty sure that qualifies as torture under the terms of the Geneva Convention. Anyway, during Corbin's punishment match vs Kane, Kalisto attacked Corbin. A chair was tangentially involved, so naturally Daniel Bryan made a Chairs Match for TLC.
Prediction: Corbin is too good for this "Peter Griffin and the Giant Chicken" feud (as SRS calls it) and Kalisto belongs in the Cruiserweight division, doing the stuff he was born to do.
Corbin should End Of Days Kalisto so hard onto a pile of chairs that he wakes up on 205Live.
So of course Kalisto will win and this feud will continue until the Rumble.
No DQ Match
Nikki Bella vs Carmella
Whoops. I used the old image file.
I know I have the updated one around here somewhere.
Ah, here it is:
How did we get here?:
Nikki Bella made a legitimate surprise return at Summerslam, entering as a heel to help the bad girls beat the good girls, pinning then-babyface Carmella after a Rack Attack 2.0.
The next Tuesday night on SDLive, Nikki was cutting an "I'm Back And Thank You To The Fans For Believing In Me" promo, but she only got as far as "I'm Back And Th---" before Carmella cemented the By-God Double Turn by attacking her from behind, then laying Nikki out with a Bella Buster. It started out as stemming from how Carmella didn't appreciate being made to look bad by Nikki in front of her hometown crowd in Brooklyn, and then I think, over many weeks of backstage blindside ambushes and long drawn out in-ring promo battles, turned into basically, "I hate you Nikki because your boyfriend is John Cena and he's powerful enough to get you on this show, whereas my boyfriend Big Cass is over on Raw with our best friend Enzo, getting people to misspell stuff at the top of their lungs and without them, nobody knows or cares who I am." I mean, basically.
Nikki beat Carmella at No Mercy, and now Carmella is one of three prime suspects in the backstage blindside ambush of Nikki at Survivor Series (which they've almost entirely forgotten about at this point), and this past Tuesday on Smackdown, Nikki attacked a smack talking Mella and turned her forehead into a topographical map of Utah.
I mean, LOOK AT THIS THING:
That's fine though, I'm sure the swelling on her forehead
will go down by the morning and th--
SWEET BABY JESUS.
That's quite a shiny shiner you've got there, young lady.
Predictions: Nikki Bella is going to win the Smackdown Women's Title at Mania. So this has got to be the end of this thing, right? So she can start building toward that big Wrestlemania moment, right? Right?
Pick: Nikki Bella, please.
Tag Team Championship
Heath Slater & Rhyno vs Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton
How did we get here?:
Thankfully, there's like zero history between these two teams, so we don't have a whole giant feud to recap.
Randy Orton joined the Wyatt family after Luke Harper showed up and cost him the match with Bray at No Mercy. He RKO'd generic big guy babyface Kane out of nowhere (no seriously, it was LITERALLY out of nowhere) gave an interview where his promo was just "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," immediately preceded by staring weirdly into the camera for like 20 seconds of silence, and now his eyes light up like a Thundercat.
Anyway, Bray and Randy beat American Alpha in a barnburner back on Tuesday to win the #1 Contendership, and as a result, they get to take on the most over act on the roster, circa September.
They originally won the belts at Backlash, and tomorrow will be the 84th day of Heath Slater and Rhyno's Tag Team Title reign. Not nearly as impressive as New Day's reign of four-hundred-and-eleventy-something, but 84 days is longer than Heath's previous three Tag Title reigns combined.
The thing of it is, they've only defended those titles in a televised match TWICE in those 84 days. Once at No Mercy, against the Usos, and once on an episode of Smackdown, against the Spirit Squad.
So what happened? They're still hugely over with the crowd, and they wrestle at all the house shows, but they've been largely kept off television. Here's where I'm obligated to suggest that Heath and Rhyno got themselves over, and that's supposed to be a big No-No in Vince's book. Did they give them the titles to get a big pop from the crowd and as an atta-boy to Heath, then turn right around and try to cool him off when the "We want Slater" chants wouldn't did a natural death? I mean, I don't like to think that's what happened, but I don't have a lot of other theories. Why would you keep a team that's so popular, your freaking champions, off TV, unless you don't have long term plans for them?
It seems like Beauty and the Man-Beast are just keeping those belts warm for a team that creative does have long term plans for, and that team might be Bray & Randy.
Unless, of course, they want to stupidly pop the cork early on Randy's long-con situation and have him turn on Bray.
They could also do that.
Prediction: Heath is incapacitate early by a ringside Luke Harper, and Rhyno has to do all the work. Randy somehow RKO's him mid-Gore, and the Braysian Dawn Movement beats the E-Z Cheez out of him after the victory. Rhyno blames Heath for the loss, and a mid-card grudge feud develops there. Meanwhile Bray & Randy feud with A.Alpha until Mania, when Randy finally turns on Bray and Alpha wins the titles.
Pick: The Wyatts.
The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler
How did we get here?:
There's no way I'm going to go over their whole history, but here's the last couple chapters:
Miz won the Intercontinental Title from Zack Ryder the day after Ryder won it at Mania, with the help of his returning wife, Maryse.
He held the belt for a long time, and everybody still hated him and thought he sucked and then this happened:
It's still the promo of the year, and it changed people's minds about The Miz. There was a real passion there that we hadn't seen from him in a long, long while. And he was spitting hot FIYAH.
Dolph Ziggler, fresh off losing a World Title Match to Dean Ambrose at Summerslam, became Bryan's in-ring surrogate in this feud, challenging Miz to a match at Backlash (he lost because Maryse did Maryse stuff) then losing the rematch (because Maryse did Maryse stuff again) challenging Miz to another match at No Mercy with the stipulation that if Dolph were to lose, he would retire immediately. Miz gleefully accepted, brought the Spirit Squad back into the WWE to be his lackeys and then lost at No Mercy in what is undoubtedly the best match these two have ever had or will ever have against each other.
Since then, Miz ducked Dolph for a while, then was forced into his mandatory rematch by a not-at-all-unobjective Daniel Bryan. Shockingly, Miz won, and defended the IC Belt against Sami Zayn at Summerslam. He won again, because Maryse. A couple days later, Dolph Ziggler showed up and SuperKicked Miz in the face, and Daniel Bryan rewarded him for assaulting the Miz by giving him yet another title shot at TLC. This one is going to be a Ladder Match, so Maryse won't be able to do much of anything to keep her husband's title where it belongs.
So that's where we are now. Somehow, The Miz has become not only one of the best talkers on the roster, he's also turned in to dynamite in the ring. It helps when you're stealing the moves of Daniel Bryan.
Predictions: This is going to be the match of the night. Miz retains because I can't believe that the WWE took the title off of Ziggler and put it back on the Miz just so they could avoid a messy face Dolph vs face Sami Zayn feud at Survivor Series and ohmygod-that's-exactly-what-they're-going-to-do-isn't-it. I guess it kind of makes sense. If Ziggler isn't in this midcard title picture, how do you even use him? And if we all assume that AJ is going to retain in the Main Event (we all assume that, right?) then I don't think they're going to end both of the ladder matches with the heel triumphant at the top of the ladder.
And even if Miz loses, you can basically do anything with him, including feuding him with James Ellsworth, further making that little guy into a bonafide star.
Sure, let's go with that. I'm okay with Miz losing if it's for the greater good.
Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss
How did we get here?:
Okay, so this one is a little different. They only started feuding when Alexa Bliss won a Fatal 5 Way to become #1 Contender, back in September. Then there was the usual trash talking to set up their match at No Mercy, which revolved around how Bliss thought that Becky didn't deserve to be Champ, because she was born a loser. Bliss, of course, believed that she was born to be a winner. And that's the feud.
Oh, and Alexa attacked Becky on the ramp that one time too.
But yeah, that's pretty much it. They just generally don't like each other.
And somehow these girls have made it work, which is a testament to their ability to spin shit into gold.
Becky famously could not compete at No Mercy, having been in the hospital the day before with a still-as-yet-unnamed ailment. So the bookers had Alexa look strong by getting beat by Naomi instead.
Alexa called Becky a coward for skipping out on their match at No Mercy. Well, no, actually, she said Becky had "a yellow streak" down her spine.
And then she knocked her out and painted a literal yellow streak down her spine with some yellow spraypaint that just happened to be lying around the timekeeper's area, because timekeepers always have yellow spraypaint lying around.
Alexa finally got her title match against Becky on November 8 in Glasgow, Scotland, and she lost, because the referee was terrible at his job and missed her foot being on the ropes for several seconds before she was forced to tap to the Disarm-her.
Or to hear David Otunga tell it, "I DIDN'T SEE NOTHING. THE REF'S DECISION IS FINAL."
Now, Alexa was rightfully upset about this, and demanded resitution.
Restitution comes in the form of this match tomorrow at TLC. The contract signing went about as well as the last one did, with Alexa Bliss repeating a bunch of her terribly scripted lines about who deserves to be champion more, and selling the shit out of them. One of those lines was basically the equivalent of an Irish ethnic slur, saying that Becky should go back to the "potato farm" where she came from. And Becky, being a proud Irish lass(kicker) didn't take too kindly to that.
Becky wound up being put through a table, so of course, their match got made into a tables match. That's just the way things go around this time of year.
Becky says bring it on:
She also said "bitch."
How very TV-14 of you, Becky.
Predictions: Becky should win to put this feud to bed, then lose the belt to a returning Eva Marie at the Royal Rumble, who ducks everyone until she loses to Nikki Bella at Wrestlemania in like 45 seconds. Bexploder suplex from the top rope, that should be enough force to put Alexa through a table, right?
Pick: Becky Lynch
WWE World Championship
AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose
And now we come to the Main Event of the evening, which probably means it'll go on somewhere in the middle of the card.
How did we get here?:
Well, if you want to go all the way back, AJ Styles beat John Cena at Summerslam, decided he was the best thing in the world (which he is) and said that meant he deserved a World Title shot. Dean was less wacky then, but he was still crazy as a motorized wiggle pen and still enjoyed a good prank, so he crotched AJ on the top rope, and then shook his hand.
The two had a great match at Backlash, and AJ took the easy way out, beating Dean after a low blow that the ref didn't see.
This led to Cena and Ambrose, two dudes pissed at AJ, getting pissy with each other in the process, in what remains the best promo battle since the brand split:
I mean, the only promo battle that comes even CLOSE is this one,
between these same guys, like three weeks later:
IT'S A DAMN SHOOT.
They had a BRILLIANT three way dance at No Mercy, which AJ Styles won after tapping out to two opponents at the same time (you can't do that in a Triple Threat) and a couple of chairshots (you can do that, though).
We haven't seen John Cena since.
AJ Styles decided from here on out, he was going to pick his opponents, and first on the list was James Ellsworth.
This is where it gets good, or this is where the rails come off, depending on your perspective.
Totally unbiased babyface GM Daniel Bryan made Dean Ambrose the special guest referee, AJ nearly killed Ellsworth when he tucked his head on the Styles Clash, and Ambrose cheated (or was deliberately incompetent) multiple times in order to secure the victory for the Chinless One.
Because this is all a big joke to him, Daniel Bryan gave a Ellsworth an honest to god Title Shot the next week on Smackdown.
Ellsworth won that one, too. By DQ.
The following week, Ambrose got a title shot, and Ellsworth was ringside, nailing AJ with the No-Chin music in full view of the referee and getting Dean disqualified.
After that, Ellsworth apologized to Dean for costing him a title opportunity, then disobeyed direct orders and snuck back into the arena to distract AJ enough to give Dean the #1 Contendership for TLC.
Ellsworth was then flown across the Atlantic to Scotland to be named Team Smackdown's Survivor Series Mascot, and also to take a wicked looking Sister Abigail, and take the comedy pinfall in a six man tag main event.
His mascotting at Survivor Series got Braun Strowman eliminated, which as a result nearly got him killed, but it also got him a Smackdown Live contract, which he voluntarily put on the line against AJ Styles in a ladder match that night. But if he won, he would get a future title shot at AJ Styles.
So now he's officially 3-0 against AJ Styles.
The following week, AJ Styles, demanding respect, beat the holy living crap out of James Ellsworth, Styles Clashing him off the ring steps.
Ellsworth wound up in the hospital, Dean Ambrose blamed himself, and he got revenge on AJ at the end of the night.
And that brings us to where we are now.
Predictions: It seems to be a veritable certitude that James Ellsworth with make an appearance in this match, whether it's just rolling down the ramp in a wheel chair attached to a Dialysis Machine to distract AJ. The only question seems to be whether you think that he'll help Dean win or inadvertently cost him the match.
I think the latter.
Pick: AJ Styles
And I think that Dean gets pissed at Ellsworth, attacks him during his Title match with AJ, and turns heel.
AJ meanwhile, takes that win, says he's beaten everybody and there's nobody left for him to beat and The Undertaker comes out and says "You ain't beat me yet, son."
Royal Rumble, Taker beats AJ, Cena wins the Rumble. Cena vs Taker at Mania. Taker loses, retires. Cena wins #16, carries it to Summerslam, loses, goes to Hollywood full time.
That's what I think is going to happen.
Of course. I could be wrong.
It's happened before.
Oh my god.
Ellsworth is going to be World Champ isn't he?
Until Next Time, I've Been Alex Pawlowski
and this is going to be me when
Ellsworth becomes World Champ.