NXT TakeOver: Dallas Card, Featuring the Debut of Shinsuke Nakamura

NXT_Takeover_DallasNXT TakeOver: Dallas airs live tonight on the WWE Network. Programming starts with a kickoff show at 9:30pm ET, which will also air free on YouTube, WWE.com, Facebook, and WWE’s other social media partner platforms. Mauro Ranallo has announced that he will be a part of the TakeOver kickoff panel.

The TakeOver event begins at 10pm ET and features a hefty card that rivals WrestleMania and includes the debut of Shinsuke Nakamura:

  • NXT Championship Match: Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor
  • NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka vs. Bayley
  • NXT Tag Team Championship Match: American Alpha vs. The Revival
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
  • Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
  • Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson

Predictions for tonight’s event?

Mick and Noelle Foley’s WWE Network Program is a Reality Show, Debuts in August

It has been rumored for a while that Mick Foley and his daughter Noelle were working on a project with WWE and today the company announced exactly what it will be. “Holy Foley,” a 30-minute reality show about the father-daughter duo, will premiere in August on the WWE Network and has been given a 10-episode order.

Here’s the synopsis from WWE:

“At the Foley household on suburban Long Island, Mick Foley simply sees himself as a stand-up comedian and Santa-loving dad to his family of five, including wife Colette, sons Dewey, Mickey and Hughie, and daughter Noelle, with whom he shares a picture-perfect, father-daughter relationship.

However, unbeknownst to Mick, Noelle has decided she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps, and has been secretly training to join WWE. Just when Mick thought he was out of the ring, Noelle is leading the charge to pull him back in.

As if Noelle’s aspirations weren’t enough, Dewey, Mick’s oldest son, recently landed his dream job as a writer’s assistant on the WWE creative team.

In Holy Foley, real-life antics and laugh-out-loud moments will unfold as cameras follow two generations of Foleys trying to make it in life – and at WWE.”

WrestleMania Week Revs Up on the WWE Network

wmlogoWe’re already more than halfway through WWE’s WrestleMania Week and though the company already rolled out some great programming on its WWE Network, including a new WWE 24 covering Daniel Bryan’s retirement announcement and a new Legends with JBL featuring Michael Hayes, there is even more great programming coming up.

Tonight at 10pm ET, the Network will air a live Stone Cold Podcast with Mick Foley. The Hardcore Legend has never been shy about his feelings on WWE’s creative process and booking decisions, although he’s become more tame lately now that his son is working for the company and he’s looking to get his daughter work at Titan Towers as well. It will be interesting to see how the chat goes, since Stone Cold is never one to pull punches.

Tomorrow night is, of course, NXT TakeOver: Dallas. For many, this is the highlight of WrestleMania Week.

Programming starts with a kickoff show at 9:30pm ET, which will also air free on YouTube, WWE.com, Facebook, and WWE’s other social media partner platforms. Mauro Ranallo has announced that he will be a part of the TakeOver kickoff panel and will also call the matches on the WrestleMania kickoff show, which is very exciting for fans who feel WWE’s main commentary team is awful.

The TakeOver event begins at 10pm ET and features a hefty card that rivals WrestleMania and includes the debut of Shinsuke Nakamura:

  • NXT Championship Match: Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor
  • NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka vs. Bayley
  • NXT Tag Team Championship Match: American Alpha vs. The Revival
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
  • Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
  • Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson

Saturday night is Hall of Fame night, beginning with the Red Carpet Special airing at 7pm ET, hosted by Maria Menounos. The ceremony itself begins at 8pm and is slotted until 11:30pm. This year’s inductees are:

  • Sting (inducted by Ric Flair)
  • The Godfather (inducted by JBL and Ron Simmons)
  • The Fabulous Freebirds (inducted by Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston)
  • Big Boss Man (inducted by Slick)
  • Jacqueline (inducted by Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley)
  • Stan Hansen (inducted by Vader)
  • Snoop Dogg (no announcement has been made but likely inducted by Sasha Banks)

Then, on Sunday it’s time for the main course. WrestleMania 32 (or “star”) kicks off at 5pm ET with a two hour pre-show available on WWE Network and the company’s social media partner platforms. The 6pm ET hour will also air on USA Network. Rumored matches for the pre-show include:

  • The Total Divas (Natalya, Paige, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, and Eva Marie) vs. B.A.D. & Blonde (Naomi, Tamina, Lana, Emma, and Summer Rae)
  • The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz
  • US Championship Match: Ryback vs. Kalisto

WrestleMania proper begins at 7pm ET on the Network and pay-per-view. Below is the full card, with the Andre Battle Royal still up in the air for the main show or the kickoff. It could easily be switched with the US Championship match, according to reports.

  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Triple H
  • Hell in a Cell: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
    • If Shane wins, he gets control of Raw and WWE. If Undertaker loses, this is his last WrestleMania.
  • No Holds Barred Street Fight: Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar
  • Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
  • Divas Championship Triple Threat Match: Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte
  • AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho
  • Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
    • Participants announced include: Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, Big Show, Kane, Tyler Breeze, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Konnor, Viktor, Goldust, R-Truth
  • The New Day vs. The League of Nations

The build has once again not been great for this year’s WrestleMania but WWE has a way of making the show a hit. In Dallas, with a record crowd and a huge atmosphere, WrestleMania 32 should be no different.

The WrestleMania Card is Nearly Complete

WWE has filled out the WrestleMania card in recent days on Raw, WWE.com, and Smackdown, adding a United States Championship match, a tag team contest, and the Andre battle royal to this year’s event. All that’s left is an Intercontinental Championship match and something with Chris Jericho and AJ Styles, although those two elements may be combined.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H

Hell in a Cell Match
Shane McMahon vs. the Undertaker
(If Shane McMahon wins, he gets control of Raw)

No Holds Barred Street Fight
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar

United States Championship Match
Ryback vs. Kalisto

Tag Team Championship Match
League of Nations vs. New Day

Divas Championship Triple Threat Match
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte

The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz

3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Examining the WrestleMania Card: Official Matches and Rumors

With less than a month to go and only one “Roadblock” in the way, the WrestleMania card has taken shape. Barring a wrench being thrown into the booking machine from an unlikely Dean Ambrose WWE World Heavyweight Championship win this Saturday in Toronto, the main elements of the grandest show of all are clear.

Triple H (again, pending the outcome of the Roadblock main event) will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against two-time former champion Roman Reigns, hopefully settling their long and drawn-out grudge. Shane McMahon will challenge the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match with the goal of wrestling control of Monday Night Raw – and, by extension, all of WWE – away from his sister Stephanie and brother-in-law Triple H. Charlotte will defend the Divas Championship against two of her Four Horsewomen compadres, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. Finally, Dean Ambrose will battle Brock Lesnar in a no holds barred street fight.

Those are the announced matches, but last night’s episode of Raw gave us a glimpse at what’s to come for the rest of the card.

Chris Jericho and AJ Styles seem to be destined for a one-on-one match to settle the score after Y2J delivered three Codebreakers to the Phenomenal One after their Tag Team Championship match loss to the New Day. One would guess this match will have a stipulation of some sort attached, perhaps two-out-of-three falls, since the pair has faced off on several occasions already.

Sami Zayn returned to Raw to help Neville avoid a post-match beatdown at the hands of Kevin Owens. The common theory is Owens will defend his Intercontinental Championship in a multi-man match at AT&T Stadium, but here’s hoping we get a one-on-one contest between former best friends turned bitter enemies Owens and Zayn. I have no desire to see Dolph Ziggler, Miz, or Tyler Breeze shoehorned into a meaningful match and storyline just to get them on the card.

That, after all, is what the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is for. While WWE hasn’t confirmed we’re getting the battle royal, it’s a safe bet considering the company likes to get everyone on the show.

It’s still unclear what’s in store for the Tag Team Champions, although a matchup against the League of Nations has been rumored. The New Day is working triple threat tag team matches with the Usos and the Dudleys on house shows leading up to ‘Mania, so perhaps we’ll get a multiple team match.

Lastly, there’s United States Champion Kalisto, who has been somewhat lost in the shuffle since Sin Cara returned. We got a little tease of a Ryback-Kalisto program during last night’s Raw but we’ll have to wait another week to see where that goes. If WWE insists on doing a multi-man match for one of the mid-card titles, I’d rather it be Kalisto’s US Title, since Owens and Zayn makes too much sense as a singles match.

Video: AJ Styles Makes WWE Debut at Royal Rumble

After weeks of speculation, AJ Styles made his WWE debut, entering the Royal Rumble match at number three. Michael Cole did a great job of detailing why Styles was important and the Orlando crowd popped for the former TNA and NJPW standout.

Notably, he is AJ Styles. WWE did not force a name change, which wouldn’t have made sense anyway given AJ’s long career and name recognition in the industry. The company also already has Styles t-shirts for sale on WWE Shop.

We’ll see what’s next for Styles, who lasted quite a while in the Rumble match. He was eliminated after a furious brawl with Kevin Owens and a program between the two men would be very welcome.

Ratings Increase for Third Episode of Impact on PopTV

TNA saw a ratings increase for its third episode of Impact Wrestling since the show moved to PopTV. This week’s show drew 321,000 viewers at 9pm ET and an additional 122,000 for the midnight replay, according to Dave Meltzer. Those numbers are up from the previous week’s 288,000 and 77,000, respectively.

The increase can be attributed to both Matt Hardy saying he would either win the title or quit TNA, as well as an 11% increase in providers carrying PopTV week-over-week. Meltzer points out that the real growth was in the midnight re-air, since the increase in viewership from the prior week was more than the increase in providers.

While these numbers are not gargantuan by any stretch, growth is always encouraging. It will be a while before TNA reaches the near million viewers the company was bringing in during a chunk of its time on Spike – if it ever happens – but positive momentum is all Dixie Carter and friends can ask for at this point.

Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match Added to Royal Rumble Kickoff with Winners Entering Rumble

WWE just announced that a Fatal 4-Way tag team match will take place on the Royal Rumble kickoff show, with the winning tag team earning entry into the Rumble match. The 4-Way features The Ascension vs. The Dudleys vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger vs. Darren Young & Damien Sandow. Apparently Darren Young and Titus O’Neil very quietly broke up, but I missed that one.

The odd thing here is this match implies that six of these men will not enter the Rumble. WWE’s roster is already razor thin thanks to a multitude of injuries, so we’re either getting some NXT call-ups, a Bullet Club appearance, a bunch of nostalgia returns, or a combination of the those.

With the announcement of this match, here is your updated Rumble card:

Royal Rumble WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

Intercontinental Championship Last Man Standing Match
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose

United States Championship Match
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio

Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos vs. The New Day

Divas Championship Match
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte

Kickoff Show Fatal 4-Way, Winning Team Gets Entry into Rumble
The Ascension vs. The Dudleys vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger vs. Darren Young & Damien Sandow

Mike Tyson is EA Sports UFC 2 Pre-Order Bonus

EA Sports today revealed that Mike Tyson will be the pre-order bonus playable character in the upcoming EA Sports UFC 2 videogame. While Tyson makes pretty much no sense in an MMA game, remember that the previous version of the game featured Bruce Lee as a playable fighter. Lee – an icon in the world of martial arts – made some sense and I guess at least Tyson has participated in combat sports but if you were upset about Arnold Schwarzenegger being in WWE 2K16, you’re probably pretty upset about this one.

Pre-ordering the Deluxe Edition will get you two versions of Tyson; the younger “Iron Mike” and the older, tattooed-faced “Legacy Mike.” Along with the two Tysons, all pre-orders get Bas Rutten and Kazushi Sakuraba as playable characters.

The game hits retail shelves March 15th in North America and is available for Xbox One and PS4.

CM Punk’s UFC Deal is for Eight Fights

CM Punk revealed that his UFC contract is not a “one shot deal” but instead is for a total of eight fights. He told SunSport, “I can’t honestly answer how many (fights) I’m gonna have – we’ll wait and see how the first one goes. But there’s gonna be eight, at least.”

UFC President Dana White has teased that Punk’s debut fight will be at UFC 199 against Mickey Gall, who won his professional debut by submission. At just 23-years-old, he’s a much more “conventional” MMA rookie than CM Punk, but pairing the two together makes sense. If Gall wins his UFC debut against Mike Jackson at UFC 196, it’ll be a lock that he’ll get Punk in the former WWE Champion’s MMA debut.

Punk also told SunSport that he would rather be on the UFC 200 card but added, “But I’m not doing this whole thing for money, so it almost kinda doesn’t matter to me. But since it’s only a month later it’s like ‘oh yeah, why don’t we push it?’.”