Anyone who watched the WWE Draft two weeks ago could tell you that Raw came away with a stacked roster and SmackDown… well, SmackDown was going to take some work. Sure, the blue brand got the WWE Championship along with John Cena and A.J. Styles, but there was a dearth of established talent on the undercard and a noticeable void of other titles.
When Raw put together one of its best episodes in recent memory, with the spotlight directly on Finn Balor and Sasha Banks, it became even more of a daunting task for SmackDown to stand out on its own. And for the most part, it didn’t. The commentary team lacked chemistry, the women’s division is cluttered and they didn’t feature any of their top NXT draft picks. Sure, American Alpha will be on this week, but you think they would’ve debuted and made an impact like Balor did.
SmackDown obviously isn’t going to find its footing overnight, but in the meantime its turning to the star power of Dolph Ziggler to captivate the WWE Universe and generate ratings on the way to SummerSlam.
Wait, did I just say Dolph Ziggler?
Hey Tom, look, I know you think that she was the one, but I don’t. I think you’re just remembering the good stuff. Next time you look back, I really think you should look again.
Not many movies have the balls to tell you up front how they’re going to end. Tom and Summer share a romance that winds up going south. We learn that before the opening credits even roll, but how are you supposed to invest in the journey when you know the destination? By conventional Hollywood rules, we shouldn’t find out if the boy gets the girl until the end of a love story. You know, fairy tales and happily ever after and all that jazz. Only 500 Days of Summer isn’t about whether it will work out between the main characters.
Our challenge as the audience is to be comfortable having all that information ahead of time. The reward is a much richer experience than you would have with your typical, sappy romantic comedy, and one that is equal parts poignant and humorous. When you get right down to it, that’s what a relationship brings to your life: a genuine connection with another person that provides joy, laughter, and eventually in most cases, sorrow.
And let’s just say it’s a little easier to be up to the challenge when you see Tom’s plight and can clearly picture yourself.
(Eric Schreiber, who co-wrote the Battleground predictions and results articles with Jesse, will be posting a Raw recap every week, or at least until he gets sick of working for free.)
The New Era has finally begun, Raw is without a champion, and there are more questions than answers coming into this night. I for one was not expecting a lot of the things that I saw. I expected the same old same with Roman Reigns winning whatever hurdle they put before him and going to Summerslam to face Seth Rollins, especially when they named the two fatal four way matches and their contestants. There were two major points I would love to focus on a bit more: First the fatal four way matches and the main event, second the women’s championship match.
There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?
No, I’m not talking about the Force or Kylo Ren. This is all about the start of training camp and a merciful end to a very long offseason. The Broncos are going to start playing some actual football and there will be concrete stories worth discussing. We can finally put all of the pointless, high school drama behind us (at least until next year).
Naturally, most of the attention will be geared toward the quarterbacks. Everyone will be anxiously waiting for Mark Sanchez to screw up badly enough so that preseason darling Trevor Siemian or first-round pick Paxton Lynch gets a chance in the spotlight. Quarterbacks are always the top priority for the fans and media, even if they aren’t the most important one for the team.
Regardless of who winds up playing under center, it is imperative that the Broncos correct one of the weaknesses that has plagued them for the past couple of seasons: the offensive line. If they don’t, it’s not really going to matter who the starting quarterback is. They are all dead men walking.
When Eric and I made our predictions, I was pretty worried that Battleground would turn out to be bland and insignificant show. It wasn’t perfect and there were certainly aspects of it that we could’ve done without, but overall I’d say it surpassed our expectations.
So what exactly were we so happy about? What aggravated Eric to the point that he sent me several angry text messages when it happened? Hit the jump and find out!
WWE is in a very odd place right now. Following the brand split, they had the opportunity to forge ahead with fresh talent in order to create some new stars, but instead they seem content to stick to the status quo and do business as usual. Give Cesaro and Sasha Banks a chance to shine on Smackdown? Nah, lets leave them on Raw with everyone else. Keep the Wyatts and the Club together for a while longer so that they can keep building momentum? Nope, we’re going to split them up, because reasons.
Obviously, it’s a little premature to judge this new era in the WWE because it hasn’t even played out yet. That doesn’t mean that I trust the company to not screw things up, but I’m at least willing to wait and see what happens. For now.
In the meantime, WWE Battleground is the last pay-per-view before the brand extension takes full effect, and my buddy Eric Schreiber is here as my tag team partner to help me sort out what will transpire tonight. Everything that we say will happen is definitely going to happen, unless Eric disagrees with me, in which case anything that I predict is the way that things will go. Maybe. Hit the jump and we’ll see.
I remember being in second grade and listening intently as The BFG was read aloud to our class. This was somewhat of a trend, you see, as our teacher had already shared several classic Roald Dahl tales with us: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, you name it. While those readings have faded from my memory, for whatever reason I can clearly picture hearing about Sophie and her Big Friendly Giant for the first time.
To be honest, I’m surprised it took this long for BFG to receive the big screen treatment. Nonetheless, I was admittedly nervous when I heard that it was finally happening, despite the fact that Steven Spielberg was chosen to helm the voyage into giant country. Adapting children’s novels into a feature length film is tricky. There is rarely enough material for a complete screenplay, which usually means that a lot of new scenes have to be added to get us from Point A to Point B. Sometimes this enhances the story and makes for a wonderful experience and other times you wonder why the filmmakers didn’t just leave well enough alone.
So did Spielberg pull it off? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Allow me to explain.