This week: Thoughts on CM Punk and Colt Cabana's Trial Verdicts, Jericho's Intercontinental Championship Win, PWA Night of Champions Coming Soon, and Mike's Totally Useless WWE Money in the Bank Match Predictions
1. Colt Cabana and CM Punk
Coming up for a catchy headline for this segment was difficult, as in many ways, CM Punk faced two major fights within days of each other. The first, the culmination of a legal battle which has drawn on for four years. As the jury would find, Punk and his friend Colt Cabana were found innocent of all accusations brought against them in a libel and defamation lawsuit.
The claims against Punk and Cabana were found to be groundless, and while it undoubtedly cost them a lot of money, they fought for what they knew was right - which makes me proud to be a fan of both of them.
Colt Cabana, whose “Art of Wrestling” Podcast has shifted to a weekly audio blog of his life, followed him through his side of the trial – keeping account of his thoughts, feelings, and fears during the process. On the line was millions of dollars, and in some ways, his own perception of self-worth. From listening to the episode, I don’t think Colt equates his life to the podcast, but rather the podcast is about his life. To have that be on trial, and essentially be told whether or not he could even have a platform to discuss things among friends must have felt devastating. I commend Colt for having the courage to defend himself, and for the willingness to share his experience.
Fast forward to the following weekend, and it was the much anticipated second attempt by Punk to get his first victory in the UFC Octagon. Set in his home town of Chicago, Punk went in as the local hero. His opponent, Mike Jackson, knew he was going in the antagonist. While Punk far outshone his debut against Mickey Gall, Jackson easily took the fight, while the commentators praised Punk for having the heart and passion to try.
CM Punk will remain one of the greatest pro wrestlers in history. While MMA fans are quick to balk at that statement, the level of skill and athleticism to make a wrestling match engaging, believable, and dramatic isn’t as easy as it seems. While someone will stomp on the ground while making a punching motion saying “See? I can do that?”, they obviously haven’t watched pro wrestling in years. Their loss.
2. NJPW = New Japan Praises Winnipeggers
It was a stunning week in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho both became champions at "Dominion". While Omega's win adds more fuel to the fire of the brewing rivalry between he and Cody within the Bullet Club, Jericho's win is a bit of a surprise.
While Jericho's victory over Naito is a big deal, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jericho will NOT be making any appearances at any of the New Japan shows in the United States.
Jericho has said in an interview wrestlinginc.com that he isn’t trying to strike a blow at WWE, nor does he want to do anything to sour that relationship. He also said that doing indy shows would devalue him, and unless there were offers in the six-figure range, they wouldn't be worth it.
Jericho has a point on both counts. Even though it’s viewed globally, New Japan is still something a North American fan seeks out more than it is discovered. If anything, this move helps New Japan more, as they continue to see increases in their subscription service, New Japan World. That said, will enough eyes be drawn to New Japan to make their likely expensive investment pay off in the long run?
3. Steamboat, Lethal, More in Edmonton for PWA Night of Champions
Alberta's Prairie Wrestling Alliance is bringing in a legend and future legends for their annual "Night of Champions" special event. June 23 in Edmonton, with Jay Lethal, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels appearing.
Lethal will be challenging PWA Championship co-holder Michael Richard Blais for the PWA Championship, where Daniels will face PWA's resident heel, Sheik Shabaz.
What may be most worth the drive, on top of a stacked card which features some of the best independent talent in Western Canada, is a scheduled appearance by WWE Hall of Famer, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Steamboat will be serving as referee between BVD and "Sky Flyer" Jeff Tyler.
Also slated, Brice "Slammer" Sova defends his Mayhem Championship against Titan, Shaun Moore defends the PWA Commonwealth Championship against Mo Jabrai, Team Hall of Fame (Dirty Duke Durrango and Chris Steele), will defend the PWA Canadian Tag Team Titles against Flex Appeal and the Above Average Joes, and Kat Von Heez takes on Miss Danyah.
4. Mike's Completely Wrong WWE Money in the Bank 2018 Predictions
I make no claims to be anything more than a fan, which should justify how incorrect these predictions are about to be.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Ember Moon v. Alexa Bliss v. Natalya v. Sasha Banks v. Charlotte Flair v. Becky Lynch v. Lana v. Naomi
Mike’s Pick: Alexa Bliss
Alexa has been radio silent since losing the Raw Women’s Championship to Nia Jax, which seems so unusual considering what a great antagonist she is. Even though her win-loss record as of late is less than stellar, it makes her the perfect sleeper candidate to take the briefcase. If you thought Carmella with the MITB case was irritating, just wait til it gets a touch of Bliss.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Braun Strowman v. Bobby Roode v. Finn Balor v. Kevin Owens v. The Miz v. Rusev v. Samoa Joe v. a member of the New Day
Mike’s Pick: Big E
Assuming a Raw superstar takes the Women’s briefcase, it would make sense to have the Men’s case go to the blue brand. I really wanted to pick Samoa Joe for this, as I think the only thing that could make Joe more menacing would be the looming threat of him cashing in for the championship match. Still, Big E has had a couple of moments this year where he has taken the spotlight within the trio. It is possible that the rumored New Day split occurs, but what about having the unit staying together, just long enough to help Big E win the championship – and THEN have him turn on them?
WWE Championship – Last Man Standing Match
AJ Styles (C) v. Shinsuke Nakamura
Mike’s Pick: AJ Styles
I WANT Shinsuke to be WWE Champion, but I don’t think this feud needs to end just yet. While Brock Lesnar is once again MIA with the Universal Championship, the rivalry between these two needs to keep going. At first, it was the battle of the low-blows, but with the exception of outside interference helping Nakamura score the victory, I believe Extreme Rules would be the place to have an even more intense rematch.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Carmella (C) v. Asuka
Mike’s Pick: Carmella
Wouldn’t it be something if Asuka came in undefeated, had her losses, and NEVER became a WWE Women’s Champion outside of her record-breaking NXT run? I don’t think that will actually happen, but somehow I see ‘Mella being Money a little while longer.
Roman Reigns v. Jinder Mahal
Mike’s Pick: Roman Reigns
I want Jinder to win. Jinder deserves to win. For how much flack he took during his WWE Championship run, a victory over Roman Reigns could make Jinder Mahal a credible threat to any champion – including Brock Lesnar. You might think I’m crazy, but let’s be honest: How many people were excited when Jinder won the championship out of nowhere? As fans, we are always hungry for something new to surprise us. That said, Roman Reigns is just as capable. He IS likeable. Roman Reigns is a main event player who is in a slump right now – and the only thing that can change that is by seeing a new Roman Regins – one who is ruthless in taking down all challengers – starting with a former WWE Champion.
Bobby Lashley v. Sami Zayn
Mike’s Pick: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is the set up to Kevin Owens and Lashley feuding. So far, KO has been leaving Sami on his own to deal with Lashley, which makes it plausible that Owens costs Lashley the match. Perhaps this builds to a 2 on 1 Match where Lashley faces the Sami and Kevin show, which would only establish him as a top power contender, joining the likes of Strowman and Reigns.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Seth Rollins (C) v. Elias
Mike’s Pick: Seth Rollins
How this doesn’t end with a disqualification seems impossible to me. These two have been making the Intercontinental Championship matter, with Rollins openly declaring that he is a better champion than Brock Lesnar, because at least he shows up. Elias has taken cheap shot after cheap shot, and has the look and intensity to continue to be a strong rival for Rollins.
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships
Bludgeon Brothers (C) v. Good Brothers
Mike’s Pick: Bludgeon Brothers
This match has all the potential in the world to be a train wreck – in the best possible way. Gallows will provide the power v. power, and Karl Anderson’s speed will add a dynamic that should keep fans interested. As for who wins? I have to give it to the Bludgeons – in what could be the start of a series of matches.
Daniel Bryan v. Big Cass
Mike’s Pick: Daniel Bryan
Cass needs this win – but if he can’t win, he can make a statement by losing to a DQ. This could be another Extreme Rules setup, or it could separate the two onto new opponents. Either way, I’m not expecting this match to last long, with either a clear decisive victory or a quick end by way of Cass and some shenanigans.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Nia Jax (C) v. “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
Mike’s Pick: Ronda Rousey
All eyes are going to be on this match. Billed as the main event, it’s these two women whose faces are on all the latest promotional material. There are those who say it’s too soon for Rousey to win the championship, but who better to stand on top of the division? Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey holding that championship will get mainstream eyes, and even MMA fans tuning in to see why she’s “so good”. After her Wrestlemania performance, she proved she was taking this seriously – so why not have her take the top spot? Think of what it will do for the woman who manages to beat her for the championship!
What are your picks? Post them here and THANK YOU for reading!