It’s been another week of highs and lows in the worlds of pro wrestling and MMA. In addition to the regular shows this week, there was a pay per view and a fight night, which means there is plenty to talk about.
Let’s get this started…
UFC Fight Night 26
This was a very interesting night of fights. Interesting I think is the best word to describe it, because there were plenty of upsets in my opinion. First of all, Michael Johnson opened a lot of eyes when he pretty much bested Joe Lauzon in three rounds. I did not expect this, but it seems like every time Lauzon takes one step closer to a Lightweight Title shot, he takes two steps back. I thought Uriah Hall and John Howard had a pretty competitive match, but they both have an equally long climb now to the top of the Middleweight division. I suppose one can argue that Hall’s climb may take longer, but also keep in mind that this is Howard’s first fight in the division and his first fight in the UFC in over a year. I thought Uriah Faber narrowly escaped defeat in his fight, as Iuri Alcantara really controlled the early stages of the fight. But in the end, Faber proved why he is one of the top fighters in the division, as he did eventually manage to outmaneuver Alcantara and pick up the decision. I think after Matt Brown’s knockout of Mike Pyle, there is no longer a question of ‘If’ Brown will receive a Welterweight Title opportunity; it’s only a question of ‘When?’ The big surprise of the night was a major knockout of Alistair Overeem at the hands of Travis Browne. I did not expect this at all, especially after Overeem dominated the early stages of the fight. I will say that Overeem really needs to stop being so overconfident, as it seems to lead to his downfall every time, and I would say that if he doesn’t win his next fight, there’s really no use for him in the promotion. And then in the main event, we saw another major upset, or perhaps maybe not, when Chael Sonnen was able to submit Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. This kind of came out of nowhere, but at least it proved that Sonnen can definitely hang in this division.
I was really excited for this show, as I thought it was the best booked SummerSlam in the last few years. I did not think it was a good idea to start with the Ring of Fire match, nor did I think it was a good idea to have Miz host the show, and I think both of these ideas kind of ruined my enjoyment of it and got the pay per view off on the wrong foot. The rest of the show was pretty good though. The two top matches were outstanding and definitely two match of the year candidates, as I expected they would be. I have to give all the credit in the world to John Cena for working the match with an injury and still being able to have the match of the night. The ending was just as I predicted, although I didn’t see the Triple H turn coming just yet. It was a fantastic match, but I agree with the comment made by Dan Lovranski on the Law last week about how this ending is what people will be talking about, which kind of takes away from how good the match was. However, I think most people order pay per views to get their money’s worth, and since we got to see a fantastic main event and a finish that no one was expecting, I think they accomplished that goal. The CM Punk and Brock Lesnar match was as good as I expected it to be, and I think if the plan of Brock Lesnar versus The Undertaker at WrestleMania, then the right guy went over. I also they went about it the right way and still managed to keep Punk strong in defeat, as he only lost because he was obsessed with getting his hands on Paul Heyman, which ended up costing him the match.
This week marked the 100th episode of this show. I wasn’t thrilled with having Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong on commentary the whole night, but it was good to relive some of the classic matches in the show’s two-year history on Fox. I really liked the Generico and Lethal match, but I thought the commentary by Lethal and Strong kind of took it down a peg or two, and I would have preferred to have them air the match as it was. The six-way match was also really good, but I didn’t even remember seeing it the first time, so it was an exciting match to watch.
It was the fallout from SummerSlam and I thought they did a really good job of getting the main angles over, heading into the next pay per view. They definitely succeeded in presenting Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton as the top babyface and heel of the company, and it was a very nice touch to have John Cena come out to start the show and immediately put Bryan over. I thought the closing segment was really good and I thought it was Triple H’s best promo in years. He is definitely much better as a heel and I thought Hunter was great in this segment. As surprised as I was that they didn’t completely ignore the history between Triple H and Orton, I thought Hunter’s explanation actually made a lot of sense. I also enjoyed the exchange of mic work between CM Punk and Paul Heyman all night, but I didn’t think they did Curtis Axel any favours to have him get severely beaten down by a guy who wasn’t even at 100 per cent. With all the attention that Darren Young received last week, I’m not surprised that it looks like he’s getting a push, but I am somewhat surprised that The Prime Time Players suddenly turned face overnight it seems.
I enjoyed this show for the most part. I really appreciate that the X-Division have gone back to being one-on-one, as really think they can create more stars that way and also have better matches, as evident by this week’s match between Sonjay Dutt and Manic. The Bound for Glory Series street fight had an unexpected outcome, but I think it made sense, although I wasn’t thrilled with Austin Aries suddenly turning babyface, if that’s what that was. I think their main focus is trying to keep the Bound for Glory Series competitive, so it won’t look like there’s a clear-cut winner, although after the last segment, I think that idea can be thrown out the window. This transformation of AJ Styles wasn’t getting over with me at all, so I’m glad that it looks like they’re changing him back to the old AJ. I would like to see how they explain this though. I don’t know why they suddenly put Brooke Tessmacher with Aces and 8s. Granted that she hasn’t been doing much lately anyway, but from a storyline pov, I have to wonder what she’s getting out of this. And I also hate the fact that they are using wrestling storylines to promote a shoot fight. I can’t imagine that Devon’s supposed firing will be for any lengthy period of time; I’d expect to see him back by the end of the year, unless he either gets released or officially retires.
It feels like this show just came and went. I can’t believe they’re already in the semi finals after this week. After these last two fights, it’s now down to Randy Couture’s two fighters and Greg Jackson’s two fighters, with both Shamrock MMA and Rhino Sport out of the competition. Overall, this has been a terrible reality show, but an okay MMA show. Both fights on this episode were very one-sided in my opinion. Actually, Joe Williams put up a decent fight against Eric Bradley, but it was that kick right to the eye that really did him in. Anyone can make an argument that Bradley was lucky enough to hit the target, but I really think it came down to skill in that fight. If not for that kick, the fight probably would have been a lot more competitive, but I think Bradley would have ended up winning anyway. The second fight was very one-sided, although I have to give Evan Cutts credit for staying in that fight for as long as he did, because he took a lot of punishment. I really think it’s going to come down to Jackson’s two fighters in the finals, but unlike Ultimate Fighter, I don’t expect any stars to be made on this show; in fact, I’d be surprised if there’s even a second season. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to have a seasoned veteran like Joe Riggs in the competition, as this guy has already made it and he’s had a run in the UFC. But we’ll see what happens.
I think this was probably the show to miss this week. Not that it was bad, but there wasn’t a lot happening, in terms of storyline advancement. Something that I forgot to mention in my Raw recap was the pairing of Ricardo Rodriguez and Rob Van Dam. I thought rather than scroll up to include it, I’d just share some comments here. I think this is obviously some kind of swerve, as I don’t think this pairing will last too long. With all the talking that Del Rio’s been doing lately about Mexicans needing a hero, I thought for sure it was going to lead to the return of Rey Mysterio to be paired with Ricardo, which would have made a lot more sense, but I guess if the Van Dam and Ricardo pairing isn’t going to last too long anyway, then it really doesn’t matter. Christian and Del Rio had another very competitive match, but I thought the pay per match was a lot better, and the finish was more creative. I’m not sure yet how I feel about the pairing of Big Show and Mark Henry, so I’ll take the wait-and-see approach for now. I do find it odd though for these two to suddenly be buddies, after being bitter rivals in the last couple of years. The main event cage match between Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan was the best match of their recent series, and I thought there were a lot of creative spots in the match. I’m not so sure why Orton needed to be on this show, but I do like how he keeps getting the better of Bryan, which will only make the fans cheer Bryan even more.
So there you have it.
Here’s what’s coming up…
August 28: UFC Fight Night 27 in Indianapolis, Indiana (Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann)
August 31: UFC 164 in Milwaukee (Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis for the UFC Lightweight Championship; Josh Barnett vs. Frank Mir)
September 4: UFC Fight Night 28 in Brazil (Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader; Ronaldo Souza vs. Yushin Okami)
September 7: Bellator 98 in Connecticut (Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper; Joe Warren vs. Nick Kirk)
September 12: TNA No Surrender for free on Spike in St. Louis (Bound for Glory Series semi-finals and finals)
September 13: Bellator 99 in Temecula, California (Patricio Freire vs. Diego Nunez; Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Houston Alexander)
September 15: WWE Night of Champions in Detroit (Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship)
September 20: ROH Death Before Dishonor XI (Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a World Title tournament semi-final match; Kevin Steen vs. Michael Elgin in a World Title tournament semi-final match; The finals of the ROH World Title tournament)
September 20: Bellator 100 in Phoenix (Ben Saunders vs. Douglas Lima)
September 21: UFC 165 in Toronto (Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship; Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland for the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship)
September 27: Bellator 101 in Portland (Brent Alvarez vs. Austin Springer)
October 9: UFC Fight Night 29 in Brazil (Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields; Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Pierce)
October 19: UFC 166 in Houston (Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos for the UFC Heavyweight Championship; Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson; Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez)
October 20: TNA Bound for Glory in San Diego (TBD)
October 26: UFC Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England (Michael Bisping vs. Mark Munoz)
November 2: Bellator in Long Beach, California (Quinton Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz; Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez; Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton)
November 6: UFC Fight Night 31 – Fight for the Troops 3 in Kentucky (Lyoto Machida vs. Tim Kennedy)
November 9: UFC Fight Night 32 in Brazil (Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson)
November 15: Bellator 107 in Atlantic City, New Jersey (Kurt Pellegrino vs. Saul Almeida)
November 16: UFC 167 in Las Vegas (Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks for the UFC Welterweight Championship; Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler)
December 28: UFC 168 in Las Vegas (Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship; Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship)