Tossing Salt – Worldwide News
April 3, 2016
We are just a few hours away, as I write this, from the biggest show of the year for WWE, Wrestlemania XXXII, coming live tonight on the WWE Network from Dallas, TX. The show is huge and stacked, as should be expected and history will be made. Tonight is Part III of IV of what has been a tremendous wrestling weekend that started with NXT Takeover: Dallas on Friday night. That was followed by the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Induction Ceremony that happened last night. Tonight will be, of course, Wrestlemania XXXII and it’ll wrapped up by Monday Night RAW tomorrow night on the USA. Damn, I wish I had the money to be in Dallas right now.
But I don’t and I’m not. I’m just here in the basement offices of Tossing Salt Media, Inc, sipping on a Pepsi and rejoicing in the NCAA tournament semi-final victory of the UNC Tarheels last night over Syracuse. Now it’s on to Monday night to play Villanova for the NCAA Basketball Championship. GO HEELS!
As for here and now, I’m planning on giving some quick thoughts about the NXT Takeover show and the Hall of Fame ceremony, to be followed by my predictions for the big event tonight, Wrestlemania XXXII. And since unlike Mick Jagger, time is not on my side (I really should have done this last night), let’s can the chit-chat and get busy. I’m Doug and this is “Tossing Salt – Worldwide News”, pro wrestling’s most eclectic column since 2002. My world – welcome to it. Let’s do it! Hey, that rhymed.
NXT Takeover: Dallas – Thoughts.
What can I say really? The men and women of NXT brought their A-game to Dallas on Friday night and were all geared up to show why they’re the hottest promotion going today. They looked as if they were determined to steal the weekend away from their peers on the main roster and they probably did so. A top notch show from start to finish.
The Revival may have lost their tag team titles to Team Alpha, but both teams looked incredible and just leave you asking for more. I love the Revival and their old school ways. Someone has been watching a lot of tape on the Anderson Brothers from the 80’s and Team Alpha. They’re young, physical and so full of energy and talent. Austin Aries versus Baron Corbin wasn’t great, but it was damn good and a good way for Aries to make his NXT wrestling debut. Austin belongs on the main roster. So does Corbin for that matter. A damn good match between two good and talented men. Asuka beat Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship in an action paced bout that saw the she-hugger controlling most of the action, but the Japanese buzzsaw countered on that one mistake and was able to walk away with the gold. They tried to steal the show and may have if not for the match between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor for the NXT Championship. This was the Samoa Joe we’ve all waited to see and he didn’t let us down. Finn Balor was amazing and the match was brutal from the start. It lost a little steam when Joe was busted open hardway almost immediately and the referees and doctors stopped the action several times to wipe the blood away, but to Joe and Balor’s credit, they would pick up right where they left off and kept the magic alive and going strong. A really, really, really good match. And then finally, we had Sami Zayn versus Shinsuke Nakamura. It wasn’t the main event, but it was the match of the night for sure. I don’t usually do that whole star-rating type thing, but this match… 4 3/4 stars out of 5. It was that damn good and set the bar for the rest of the weekend. The men and women on the main roster, working Wrestlemania tonight, have a lot of work to do if they even want to come close. Can they do it? We’ll see. All in all, a fantastic event that started off the weekend with a bang. For the men and women of NXT, this was their Wrestlemania and they pulled out all the stops to put on a show for the ages. And that, they did, most definitely!
And then, on Saturday night, we had the WWE Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies. Let’s do a quick recap of that, with my thoughts on each segment. Don’t worry though, I’ll keep it short (just like Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin… lol).
WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Induction Ceremony – Thoughts
Though it ran a little over three and a half hours, the show seemed to move quickly for me and flew by. I think all of the inductees and their inductors were funny, relevant and had their act together. Yes, there was some randomness and getting lost in the moment, but all in all, it was one of the best Induction ceremonies in recent years.
The Godfather: JBL and Ron Simmon’s introduction was great with JBL’s every attempt to tell a story countered by Simmon’s shutting him down. JBL’s deadpanned remark to his wife that he doesn’t know that person was just perfect for the moment. I can just imagine some of the adventures that those three probably had together and I doubt any of it would be appropiate for television. Godfather’s did his “Ho’ Train” schtick and at the same time, managed to talk about his children and grandchildren. It was heartfelt and real. Godfather had that great energy going and looked good. Just a good and quick segment that really showcased the man and his character.
Stan Hansen: Talk about a wrestling legend. Vader started it off, being funny and personable and really coming across well as he told the story about how Hansen knocked his eyeball out and how tough the man was. And Hansen seemed to be feeling and looking great. He came across as the lovable grandpa and husband that he is when he talked about and introduced his family, but you could see and feel the intensity in his words and manner as he talked about “opponents”. I am so glad to see Stan in the HOF and seeing Bruno there was icing on the cake for this great moment.
Jacqueline: The Dudleys were funny and did a great job of introducing Jackie. I don’t believe I’ve heard Devon talk so much in the past thirty years, but it was great. That little story about how cheap Jackie supposedly is was funny too. And Jackie? While I kind of wish she had mentioned Jeff Jarrett and Kevin Sullivan, both of who were major factors in her early success, I understand why she didn’t and that’s cool. And she didn’t mention Ivory as one of the WWE Divas she spoke of? Well damn! But it was a great, albeit short speech to accept the honor and Jackie is a truly tough and amazing woman who deserves that spot. Kudos to her!
The Freebirds: From telling stories to talking about their love for Terry and Buddy to bringing out Ray Gordy and Buddy Jr., to more stories, to pure emotion, to Kevin Von Erich, to Michael Hayes singing “Badstreet USA” to close out the segment… it was perfect. And even though we all dissed the New Day for being the men to induct Hayes, Garvin and Freebirds into the HOF, they were funny and amazing and did a great job as well. They were the right choices to do the honors and it allowed Kevin to do what he did later on with his little speech. Probably my favorite Hall of Fame segment ever and congrats to the Freebirds once more.
The Big Bossman: Nothing against Slick, but I would have loved to see Jimmy Cornette doing this induction. I understand why it was Slick though and no worries here. A great tribute to a great performer who was also obviously a nice person and great family man. My allergies tried to act up a bit here as I reflected back and thought about some of the great moments with Ray Traylor in his role as the Big Bossman and also as Big Bubba Rogers, and I wish they had at least mentioned the “Bubba” character, but it’s the WWE so I’m not surprised they didn’t. A good, touching moment.
Snoop Dogg: This was the one moment I didn’t like as the fans acted like idiots and booed the hell out of John Cena when he came out to induct Snoop. And then they booed Snoop, although not as badly, but still. Snoop would not be my first or even second or third choice for the WWE Celebrity wing of the HOF. I think Regis and Cyndi Lauper should be there first if we’re going to have a “Celebrity Wing”. But Snoop was sincere and real in his speech and seemed to be truly honored as he spoke about going to the matches as a child and his love for our sport. And he put over Sasha Banks, as he should. And Cena? Say what you will about him, but when he’s not around, he is missed. A good moment for both men despite the childish behavior of the fans. If they want to boo, that’s fine AT THE MATCHES. This night though wasn’t about them. It was about the men and women on that stage and the audience should have been more respectful. Just saying.
Joan Lunden: A cancer survivor and incredible woman inducted by Dana Warrior. It was real and moving and showed the power and strength of two amazing women. Let’s hope that one day, a cure for cancer will be found.
Sting: Ric Flair, doing the inducting, was all over the place in typical Flair fashion and there was more than one moment there where I wasn’t sure if Flair was inducting Sting or Ricky Steamboat again. But that’s Ric Flair and that’s why we love and enjoy him. And Sting? He was obviously touched and honored and put over Flair, as well as the WWE and HHH. He spoke from the heart and it was a good and powerful moment. He also announced his retirement, which I didn’t like, but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Sting talked about the various characters he’s played and even mentioned the TNA Joker Sting, which was good. He put over Flair, WCW, and his family, who he talked about how they loved him even when they shouldn’t have. A classy speech by a total class-act and a great way to round out the evening.
All in all, a great show that I enjoyed a great deal. Congratulations to all of the newest members of the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2016. Just a damn good night.
And before I go on, I’m going to do a little “Top Ten” list. Since I just finished speaking about the WWE Hall of Fame, this will be (in my opinion), the Top Ten People who need to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Top Ten Acts That Need To Be Inducted Into The WWE Hall of Fame
10. Eric Bischoff
9. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane, Dennis Condrey) w/ Jim Cornette
8. Lisa (Ivory) Moretti
7. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
6. Cyndi Lauper (Celebrity Wing)
4. Bruiser Brody
3. The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith)
2. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole & Gene Anderson)
1. “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff
And now… I know I’m not the only one. All together now. “Pimpin’ ain’t easy!”
Sorry, I had to do that. Now, let’s move on to the main event of the evening and that’s my predictions for the matches tonight at Wrestlemania XXXII, live from Dallas, TX on the WWE Network. Let’s do this…
Wrestlemania XXXII Predictions…
WWE World Heavyweight champion Triple H vs. Roman Reigns.
The most interesting thing here is that HHH will be the “face” of the match, with probably 98% of the fans booing and jeering at Roman Reigns. What I expect will be a double-turn here with Roman embracing the hatred and going heel, while HHH plays the baby-face in peril. And wouldn’t it be great to see Seth Rollins pop up and get involved to cost HHH the title. Then we could have a SHIELD reunion on RAW with Seth acting as Roman’s mouthpiece while he continues to rehab from his injury. The fans may hate Roman as the lead singles face star, but they love him as part of the SHIELD so… Look for Roman to lie, cheat and steal (RIP Eddie Guerrero) and at the end of the night, embrace the hatred as he once again becomes the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Winner and NEW WWE World Champion: Roman Reigns
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) – No Holds Barred Street Fight
Ambrose is going to take a beating for sure and make it one helluva fight. Will he win? He’s fighting Brock Lensar. What do you think?
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell: McMahon gains control of Monday Night Raw if he wins. Wrestlemania 32 will be Undertaker’s “last Wrestlemania” if he loses.
Look for a lot of smoke and mirrors. Look for everybody and their mama, daddy and cousin to get involved in the match. I’m even expecting an appearance by the Mean Street Posse at this point. We know Pete Gas is in the house tonight. It’s hard for me to see Undertaker losing and this being his “last Wrestlemania”. But at the same time, I can’t see Shane coming back just to leave again this quickly. And the idea of a new “Brand Split” is something that WWE really needs and would be a major step to making things better. I’ve been of the thought that Taker would kick Shane’s ass and then allow Shane to “pin him” as a way to screw over Vince, but I can’t see the Taker character doing that, no matter how much sense it makes. I’m honestly at a loss as to what might happen and how they’re going to pull this off, but I think we will see a brand-split very soon in the future. But at the end of the night tonight, I think it will be the “Dead Man” walking out with the victory.
Winner: The Undertaker
WWE Divas champion Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks.
This match should be off the charts with three of the most talented woman wrestlers in WWE out there to try and steal the show. My first thoughts were that Sasha Banks would walk out of this match as the new Divas Champion, but that has changed. Since it looks as if the WWE will be dropping the Divas title in favor of the Women’s Championship tonight, I think they’re going to stick with Charlotte holding the gold, at least for now. Sasha is amazing, but makes, in my opinion, a better challenger than champion. Plus Charlotte is really starting to grow into her role as the heel champ and is really starting to feel her stride. Look for Sasha to lay out Becky, but Charlotte comes in and steals the win to retain the gold. Sounds like a plan to me.
Winner and STILL WWE Diva’s Champion: Charlotte
WWE Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Stardust vs. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara: Ladder Match.
This match is going to be brutal with high-spot after high-spot. And I think it’s time for Zack Ryder to finally make his return to the upper card of WWE. Woo woo woo – you know it, bro! Alas, I wish it was true because I would love to see Zack get some of the credit and recognition that he deserves, but it won’t be tonight. I expect we’ll see some amazing things from all of the men involved and maybe it’ll lead to a good program for Zack and some of the others to gain some status on the WWE ladder. But at the end of the night, it’s KO-mania as Kevin Owens will climb that ladder and retain the gold.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Kevin Owens
WWE Tag Team champions The New Day vs. The League of Nations.
New Day rocks! League of Nations, not so much. A good match with some good action, but we all know who will win here. Hint: They inducted the Freebirds at the HOF last night.
Winners: The New Day
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles.
Another match that should be non-stop excellent from bell to bell, but the outcome isn’t really in any doubt. Jericho is scheduled to leave next month to work with Fozzy. AJ is sticking around and should be moving into the upper-card level with some title action coming his way. So it’s time to get phenomenal as AJ takes that trip to the pay window, if you will.
Winner: AJ Styles
The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz.
Look for tables and look for some stiff brutality. And look for The Usos to finally win one.
Winners: The Usos
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
I would love to see and hope that the Social Outcasts do very well in this event. I’ve been hearing rumors of Goldberg popping up in this event all weekend too, but I doubt that’s going to happen. As for the winner, it’ll either be Bray Wyatt, after Rowan and Strauman do all the hard work, Kane, or maybe the Big Show. I wish it could be Mark Henry since they’re in his hometown of Dallas, plus he has said this will probably be his last Wrestlemania. That would be a great tribute to the “World’s Strongest Man”, but I doubt that will happen. Big Show won it last year so not again. Kane? Nah, I don’t think so. I think that the Wyatt Family will work as a team and then in the end, eliminate themselves so that their leader and mentor, Bray Wyatt, will walk out with the victory and trophy.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
“Team Total Divas” Paige & Natalya & Brie Bella & Alicia Fox & Eva Marie vs. “Bad & Blonde” Emma & Lana & Naomi & Tamina & Summer Rae.
Looking at this match, I think it’s pretty obvious that the “stars” of the reality show, Total Divas, will capture the win. Lana will get some spots in to look good, but the reality TV team is where the money is at, plus Brie is supposedly planning to later this week and they’ll want her to go out with class and style and a win. So look for the Total Divas to win. But just to piss everyone off, expect for Eva Marie to be the one to score the pinfall. It’s wrong, but it’s WWE so that’s how it’ll go. Just saying.
Winners: Team Total Divas
WWE United States champion Kalisto vs. Ryback.
And finally, we have Kalisto defending the United States Championship against Ryback. Ryback should win. Ryback is bigger, stronger and the WWE management favorite. He’s the “big name” here. But I just don’t much care for him so I’m going to go for Kalisto to retain. No reason needed. He just will. Lucha-lucha-lucha! ‘Nuff said!
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Kalisto
And I guess that’s it for now. Time to get this baby posted and put to bed. Thank you all for reading and hopefully, we can do this again real soon. I’m Doug and as the great Baron Von Raschke (who also should be in the WWE Hall of Fame) would say, “Dat is all de people need to know!” Enjoy Wrestlemania tonight. Thoughts and comments can be sent to Doug28352@yahoo.com. I’m at Twitter at @doug28352 and on Facebook at facebook.com/saltpalace. Again, thanks for reading. I’ll catch you on the flip side. I’m down and I’m gone.