01st Jul2018

WWE Week in Review (6/24/18 – 6/30/18)

by Nathan Favel

Welcome to the debut of the new WWE Week in Review column, only on Nerdly. I’m Nathan Favel and this will be a regular column that occurs each weekend on this site and will provide a best and worst of what happens with the largest wrestling league in the world as well as notable pieces of news that help shape the promotion for the future. Without further delay, let’s get right into it with the WWE Week in Review!

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WWE’s Big Money Television Deals:

The following news item comes courtesy of F4WOnline.com. The WWE officially announced this week that the new television deals for RAW and Smackdown are set and are quite lucrative. RAW will stay on the USA Network for the next five years for approximately $1 billion. Smackdown, which the USA Network relinquished to make room on their schedule for other kinds of television shows, has found a new home on the FOX Network, renewing an old union between Vince MCMahon and Rupert Murdoch that existed for a time during the early 1990s when Saturday Night’s Main Event appeared as The Main Event on the network. The Smackdown deal is worth more than $1 billion dollars and is set for five years. In the case of Smackdown, FOX has promised to include Smackdown in its FOX Sports brand, which will include advertising during all the major sports events, including the NFL for instance.

Shinsuke’s Big Bite:

The following is courtesy of the Bakersfield Police Department. This is their official statement, regarding Shinsuke Nakamura’s injury by way of a police dog:

“On Monday, June 25, 2018, officers of the Bakersfield Police Department Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Team were conducting a protective sweep of the Rabobank Arena in preparation for the WWE Live Summerslam Heatwave Tour” the statement says.

“During the sweep, the EOD Team, which consisted of an explosive detection trained canine team and bomb technicians entered an area of the arena where an employee of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was present. The canine entered the room to sweep for the presence of any explosive material. As the sweep took place the WWE employee was accidentally bit by the canine. The employee sustained an injury to his lower left leg. Medical aid was immediately summoned to the scene and the employee was transported to a local area hospital for medical treatment.”

It was reported yesterday afternoon that Nakamura was bitten by a police dog, rendering him unable to compete in a planned match against Jeff Hardy for the United States championship on SmackDown. His status for this weekend’s shows in Japan is also currently up in the air. There is no current timetable for a return.”

Former Tough Enough Winner Matt Cappotelli Dies:

The following information is a courtesy made possible by Lindsay Cappotelli, widow of Matt Cappotelli, via her Facebook page. Matt Cappotelli, a former WWE wrestler and Tough Enough winner, has died after a long battle with cancer that cut his wrestling career short. Here is the official statement concerning his death, written by Matt’s wife Lindsay, on her Facebook page:

“Hey Team Capp…I’ve been struggling with what to say and how to say this, and I’ll probably end up rambling, but here goes. Today my love-my strong, sweet, beautiful love-took his last breath at 3:30 a.m. and went Home to be with Jesus…exactly one year after his brain surgery. You think you can be prepared for this when you know it’s coming, but you just can’t. The only person who’s comfort I want right now is the one who can’t give it to me. I miss him so much. I know where he is now is so much better, but it doesn’t change how much I miss him.”

Matt was only 38 years old at his time of death. I send my condolences to his family and friends.

WWE Performance Center Try-Outs:

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

More than 40 prospects — including a decorated collegiate heavyweight wrestler that has garnered comparisons to John Cena and a former Tough Enough competitor — are in Orlando, Fla., this week for a tryout at the WWE Performance Center.

The camp, one the most stacked tryouts since the advent of the WWE PC five years ago, began Thursday and culminates Saturday, and is being presided over by Head Coach Matt Bloom and his coaching team. WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry, who referred several of the athletes in attendance, is also on hand to observe the tryout.

Attendees’ athletic backgrounds run the gamut from amateur wrestling, independent wrestling, professional and college football and rugby, to strongman competitions, bodybuilding and fitness modeling, track and field, cheerleading and more.

Participants at this week’s camp include:

  • 2018 ACC heavyweight wrestling champion Jacob Kasper, a two-time All-American from Duke University who placed in the 2016 Olympic Trials and holds 108 career wins. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 225 pounds, Kasper has attracted much attention from sports media and WWE experts. WWE Hall of Famer and recruiter Gerald Brisco even likened him to one of WWE’s all-time greats, telling ESPN.com that Kasper “reminds me in many ways of a young John Cena.” In addition to his accomplishments in wrestling, Kasper has also been a training partner for current UFC champion Daniel Cormier, as well as former champions Luke Rockhold and Cain Velasquez.
  • Tough Enough alumna Chelsea Green, a four-year wrestling veteran and product of Lance Storm’s Storm Wrestling Academy in Canada. Prior to wrestling, Green was a standout in soccer, track, volleyball, basketball and dance. She competed in the 2015 edition of WWE’s competition reality series and has since wrestled in Japan, Mexico and India, among other countries. Green has also done stunt work in movies and commercials.
  • “The British Amazon” Heidi Katrina Alavi, a 5-foot-9 independent wrestler from Essex, London, who is currently based in Japan. Alavi brings a background in acting and fashion and sports modeling, as well as extensive experience wrestling in Japan, including for the Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling organization, where she is a reigning tag team champion.
  • Terrell & Terrence Hughes, the 23-year-old twin sons of WWE Hall of Famer D-Von Dudley. Both men played football in high school, and Terrell qualified for regional and state competition in wrestling. Their sports-entertainment training began in 2012 at the Dudleys’ Team 3D Academy, and the Hughes brothers have held tag team titles on the independent circuit under the name TNT.
  • 23-year-old Davin Addison, a 275-pounder from Laramie, Wyo., who formerly wrestled with the University of Wyoming’s Division I wrestling program.
  • Terence “TJ” Barnes, a 6-foot-7, 360-pound former defensive tackle in the NFL. Barnes played college ball at Georgia Tech and spent four seasons in the NFL, playing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Independent wrestler Gabriella Belpre, whose professional name is Gabby Ortiz. A product of the Ring of Honor Dojo and the World Famous Monster Factory in New Jersey (the same training facility that produced Bam Bam Bigelow), Belpre has appeared for ROH, Chikara and the Japanese promotion Stardom.
  • 6-foot, 235-pound Philip Brandt, who was an all-state wrestler in high school and played Division I football at Washington State. Brandt also played quarterback at the College of the Sequoias, where he was a two-time team captain.
  • 5-foot-7 Britani Birchmeier of Florida, a former shooting guard/point guard with Lansing Community College who has participated in bikini competitions and is currently a personal trainer.
  • Northeast independent wrestler Max Caster. The 225-pounder, who is a former high school football player and track athlete, trained under WWE Superstar Curt Hawkins at the Create A Pro Wrestling Academy.
  • 24-year-old professional rugby player Tom Dempsey. Originally from Australia, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Dempsey now resides in Toronto. He has also trained under former WWE Superstar Santino Marella at Marella’s Battle Arts Academy in Ontario.
  • Former NFL tight end Dorin Dickerson. Dickerson was an All-American at the University of Pittsburgh and spent six years in the NFL. He recorded some of the top stats for his position at the 2010 NFL Combine, including a 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash and a 43.5-inch vertical leap.
  • Texas-based independent wrestler Raul Humberto Escamilla, who has competed professionally under the names Max Castellanos and Max Humberto. Trained by Rudy Boy Gonzalez (who was one of the early coaches of Daniel Bryan and The Brian Kendrick), Escamilla also participates in physique and strongman competitions.
  • 26-year-old Mike Fierro of Oak Lawn, Ill., a former college football player and strongman who has wrestled professionally since March 2017. The 275-pounder previously attended a WWE Performance Center tryout in September 2014, and has studied the lucha libre style of wrestling.
  • Omar Francis, aka Omar Amir, an independent wrestler from Nassau, Bahamas, who learned the ropes at the Team 3D Academy and has competed in Florida and Canada. Francis also played semi-pro rugby as a flanker for the Bahamian Potcakes rugby club.
  • Puerto Rican wrestling veteran Nilka Garcia. Going by the ring name La Rosa Negra (“The Black Rose”), Garcia has won the WWC Women’s Title three times, as well as wrestled in the U.S. and Japan.
  • Jacob Schreiner, aka independent wrestler Jake Omen, a 14-year wrestling veteran from Indiana. A protégé of former WWE Superstar Jimmy Wang Yang, Schreiner has wrestled in the U.S., Canada, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, as well as extensively for the Japanese-based WRESTLE-1 promotion. He has also trained in martial arts, including jiu-jitsu and kickboxing.
  • 6-foot-5, 240-pound Thomas Stintsman, an independent wrestler from Pennsylvania who has competed under the names Thomas Sharp and Blaster McMassive. Since making his ring debut in 2012, Stintsman has wrestled for EVOLVE, Chikara and Beyond Wrestling, among other organizations, and has crossed paths with the likes of Pete Dunne and Moustache Mountain.
  • Wrestling veteran Rob Strauss, aka Robbie E. Since breaking in at the age of 16, Strauss has wrestled in 20 different countries and 46 states, and has captured independent titles throughout the U.S. He was also a finalist on the 25th season of CBS’ Amazing Race competition series.
  • Jeffrey Parker, a 16-year wrestling veteran from Montreal who has competed in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Japan, and has made appearances on NXT and WWE TV. Wrestling primarily under the name Scott “Jagged” Parker, he has won many tag team titles as part of the duo known as 3.0.
  • Parker’s 3.0 teammate Matt Lee, also from Montreal, who is better known by the aliases Shane Matthews and Big Magic. Like Parker, Lee is a 16-year veteran who has competed throughout North America and beyond, including for organizations like Chikara, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Combat Zone Wrestling.
  • 6-foot-5, 235-pound Brendan Griffin of Massachusetts, a three-sport athlete in high school with a background in baseball, football and basketball. He also performs stand-up comedy.
  • Rory Gulak, younger brother and former tag team partner of 205 Live Superstar Drew Gulak. Rory was team captain of his high school wrestling team and spent a season with the Temple University team. In addition to coaching amateur wrestling for nine years, he has competed in independent groups such as Beyond Wrestling, Chikara and CZW, and he holds a win over Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Kelsey Hornack, an actor and former competitive gymnast and professional cheerleader. Hornack was a cheerleader in the NHL and the NFL and has trained in the circus arts of aerial silks, lyra (aerial hoops) and ropes.
  • 6-foot-4, 365-pound Adam Kerr, aka Adam Payne. A U.S. Army veteran, Kerr has wrestled since October 2015 and has faced the likes of WCW Legend Crowbar during his career.
  • Brisbane’s Jarryd Kinerson Smith, a 6-foot-2, 265-pounder who played rugby for 10 years, has four years of MMA training and has competed in bodybuilding.
  • 23-year-old Seth Manzanares, a former Division I linebacker who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 260 pounds. Manzanares played with the Central Connecticut Blue Devils and boasts impressive numbers in the weight room, including a 605-pound squat, a 375-pound clean and a 445-pound bench press.
  • 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ricardo Miller. The 26-year-old played professional football with the German Football League’s Saarland Hurricanes. In college, he played for the University of Michigan (including as a member of the 2011 Sugar Bowl Champion team) and the University of Massachusetts.
  • Two-time ACC wrestling champion Spencer Myers. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder grappled and played football at the University of Maryland, and in high school, he was named Pennsylvania’s Wrestler of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year. He also played in the Arena Football League with the Los Angeles Kiss.
  • 24-year-old Brandon Moore. Moore was a member of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide under head coach Nick Saban and before that, wrestled and competed in track and field in high school.
  • Danielle Morrison, who manages independent wrestler Façade under the nickname Dani Mo. Morrison pole-vaulted in high school and college (setting the California University of Pennsylvania’s indoor record of 3.10 meters in 2010). She has also been a competitive bodybuilder.
  • 6-foot-8, 325-pound football player Sunny Odogwu. Hailing from Ezeagu, Nigeria, the 25-year-old Odogwu was a lineman at the University of Miami and UCLA.
  • 24-year-old Omari Palmer, a 6-foot-3, 350-pounder who played football at Syracuse University for five seasons. Palmer was a multisport athlete in high school, with experience in basketball, wrestling and lacrosse.
  • 21-year-old Brandi Lauren Pawelek, better known by the ring aliases Ava Storie and Brandi Lauren, a model and wrestler. Pawelek began her ring training in January 2015 and recently faced Lacey Evans on WWE NXT.
  • 6-foot-2, 245-pound Bill Gray, a former collegiate wrestler and bodybuilder and current independent wrestler from Colorado. Competing as Hunter Grey, he makes up one-half of the tag team The Pillars of Destiny.
  • Polish-born, New York-based fitness model Wioletta Anna Paz. The 5-foot-7 Paz was a sprinter on her high school’s track team and is active in bodybuilding.
  • 6-foot-3, 307-pound Shaquille Powell, who played offensive line for Alabama State University.
  • 26-year-old footballer Roston Tatum, a former wide receiver with the Portland State Vikings who also played two seasons of arena football.
  • 6-foot-2, 250-pound Michael Wardlow, an independent wrestling champion from Ohio. Trained in boxing and jiu-jitsu, Wardlow is currently on his second reign as the International Wrestling Cartel heavyweight champion.

XFL To Cost $500 Million:

The following is courtesy of Darren Rovell as a member of ESPN. XFL CEO and Commissioner, Oliver Luck, told Darren Rovell of ESPN that the new football league, which is slated to return in 2020, will cost around $500 Million to operate over its first few years. Here is an excerpt of that interview:

“People were focused on the $100 million, but the truth is that doesn’t even get us to the 20-yard line,” said Luck to Rovell about the cost to operate the new football league.

The $100 Million is in reference to stock that Vince McMahon sold from his own company to provide the initial financing for this revival of the XFL, which closed after one season at the beginning of the 21st century. Luck also mentioned that the players will make around $75,000 a year, with more famous players getting higher salaries.

Best Angle of the Week:

Bayley “Heel” Turn – Bayley was, probably, meant to become a heel when she attacked Sasha Banks on RAW, but the crowd went with Bayley instead and gave her the best reaction she’s had in over a year. I’d like to think that Vince McMahon thought of this ahead of time, but you can never tell with a guy who still thinks he can make people like Roman Reigns without turning him lose as an ass-kicker. Speaking of Roman Reigns…

Worst Angle of the Week:

Roman Reigns/Bobby Lashley Feud – While a rivalry between Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns should be great thing, it has gotten off to a rough start, by making Lashley look like fool just to make Reigns look smart. The promo in question had Reigns insulting Lashley for leaving when the going got tough, which works on the surface, but failed in its execution. The tension was let out of the room here, and when you consider that Lashley left due to racist remarks and rhetoric from several of Vince’s bookers, including Michael Hayes, you’d think that they’d want to stay away from some-thing that could become a problem if enough people took umbrage to Lashley’s tongue lashing from one of wrestling’s most reviled fighters.

Worst Match of the Week:

Curtis Axel w/ Bo Dallas vs. Matt Hardy w/Bray Wyatt – I always like to say that any match that occurs in the WWE would likely get twice as much attention from nearly any other promoter in the profession. The son of Mr. Perfect, Joe Hennig (Curtis Axel) deserves so much more than he gets from the WWE. A match with Matt Hardy should’ve led to great things as far as action is concerned, but we only got fifty some-thing seconds from them. What a rip-off this match was.

Best Matches of the Week:

5. Akira Tozawa vs. Tony Nese – 205 Live

4. Drew Gulak, Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher vs. The Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) – Tag Team Elimination Match – 205 Live

3. Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper w/ Erick Rowan – Smackdown

2. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong) beat Mustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) and Ricochet – Six-Man Tag Team Match – NXT

1. Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Drew McIntyre) for the Intercontinental Title
Serving as the main event of RAW, and despite a lousy finish, Rollins and Ziggler had another great fight that will have you on the edge of your seat. Rollins is on a real roll this year and keeps hitting the mark, every time. Ziggler is arguably the most talented man to ever be maligned this much, but at least he always puts on a clinic with his matches. If you give this match a chance, barring the awful finish, you won’t be disappointed.
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Well, this marks the end of the first WWE Week in Review. On behalf of everyone at Nerdly, thank you reading and we’ll see you, next week.

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