In 2016, WWE introduced a whole mess of titles. Of course, many of these were out of necessity with the brand split that happened earlier in the year. Some of these though, were real overkill and missed opportunities. Some of these are simply ridiculous designs while others are actually pretty legit. Here is my analysis of the many WWE belts that were introduced this year, including a brief history of each.

 

WWE Universal Championship (RAW)

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Current Champion: Kevin Owens

Number of Champions in 2016: 2

Since Dean Ambrose had the WWE World Championship on SmackDown, RAW was without a world title. Out of this, the Universal Championship was born. Now I am not necessarily crazy about the name of the title, but I like its concept; that is, being a way to honor the WWE Universe. Finn Balor was the first WWE Universal Champion, but vacated the title due to injury. A Fatal 4-Way was then made. Kevin Owens vs. Big Cass vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns. In this match, Kevin Owens became the second (and current) Universal Champion. I am not necessarily crazy about the design either. In coming up with this title, I would have chosen to make four or five different designs and run a poll on Twitter or WWE.com and have the fans vote on it.

 

WWE Cruiserweight Championship (RAW)

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Current Champion: Rich Swann

Number of Champions in 2016: 3

In the summer of 2016, there was a huge tournament featuring some of the greatest cruiserweight wrestlers in the world, such as Noam Dar, Akira Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, Johnny Gargano , and others. In the finals of the tournament, Gran Metalik faced T.J. Perkins for the inaugural Cruiserweight Championship. In this bout, Perkins won via kneebar. At Hell in a Cell, T.J. Perkins would lose to The Brian Kendrick, a man desperate for just one more chance at greatness who would try to manipulate T.J. into letting Kendrick win. Kendrick’s reign would be short as he lost the title to Rich Swann on the inaugural episode of 205 Live, just thirty days later. Personally, I like the design of this belt. It looks kind of like a boxing championship and that design deters quite a bit from the traditional designs of WWE belts. What I don’t like though is the color. I get that purple was the primary color of the Cruiserweight Classic so it was the logical choice, but I don’t know…just something about it.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship

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Current Champions: Jason Jordan & Chad Gable (American Alpha)

Number of Champions in 2016: 3

The introduction of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship was necessary, as The New Day had the WWE Tag Team Championship on RAW. Heath Slater and Rhyno won a tournament to call themselves the first SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions. The original criticism I levied against this design was that it looked exactly like the RAW belts, which at the time still had the bronze design so there was still a bit of difference. I could let it go, but I still wish there would have been more individuality.

 

RAW Tag Team Championship

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Current Champions: Cesaro & Sheamus

Number of champions in 2016: 1

The most recent introduction for WWE, RAW updated the Tag Team titles. They were introduced December 19, 2016, after Cesaro & Sheamus defeated The New Day the night before.

This is the title I am most outraged about. SmackDown had the chance to do it first, but RAW is the worst offender. WWE had a real chance to separate the brands from one another with having somewhat original title designs, but NO. I think what happened is someone in the development team brought their kid in to design these belts. There is no originality  in designs. Both RAW and SmackDown have the spartans on silver plates. Literally, the only difference is the color of leather strap that these plates are on.

 

 

WWE Women’s Championship

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Current Champion: Charlotte Flair

Number of Champions in 2016: 2

Charlotte Flair was the last Divas Champion (a.k.a the Tramp Stamp Champ) but left WrestleMania as the WWE Women’s Champion. It was announced on the kickoff show by Lita that the winner would walk away with the new belt (seen above). And walked away did Flair. The second generation superstar held her head high. Ever since she has fought in a vicious rivalry with Sasha Banks. In terms of its design, I have no real problem with it.

WWE Women’s Championship (SmackDown)

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Current Champion: Alexa Bliss

Number of Champions in 2016: 2

Just like with Tag Team titles, the belt was with a RAW superstar so a new one had to be made. Becky Lynch emerged the victor at Backlash to be the first Women’s Champion of the blue brand. Since then, there has been a compelling feud between Becky and Alexa that has been executed flawlessly. In terms of overall design, I do hate that this is essentially the RAW title but blue. Like my criticism of the Tag Team Championships, there was a real opportunity to really separate the brands from each other.

 

WWE United Kingdom Championship (not affiliated with a brand)

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Current Champion: n/a

Number of in 2016: 0

I really want to say that I LOVE this design. While the tournament for this belt has not happened yet, I love the concept of it. The tournament is slated to happen in January, going live on the WWE Network. I just hope that the WWE United States Championship will get a face lift too.

This Tuesday, USA Network will air the last SmackDown Live of 2016. To be perfectly honest, this episode feels like a pay-per-view and I love every bit of it. Virtually every title is announced to be defended and John Cena is returning to SmackDown after a brief hiatus. Here are my thoughts and predictions for the go home SmackDown of 2016.

 

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship (4-Way Elimination): Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt (c) vs. American Alpha vs. The Usos vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno

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Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are defending in a match where numbers might definitely be against them. Numbers have not been a problem for The Wyatts before and I don’t think this match will be much different. The amount of time that Slater & Rhyno will be in this match will be pretty short. In fact, I think this will lead to the breakup of this team and for Slater & Rhyno to go their own ways.

Although predicting how this match might go gets weird because I have never understood how fatal 4-way tag team matches work. I would think there would be one competitor from each team, not two in while everyone else watches. That being said, I think American Alpha will have a fantastic showing, but will come up short against The Wyatts.

Prediction: Wyatts retain

Order of Elimination: Slater & Rhyno, Usos, American Alpha

 

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch

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On the last episode of SmackDown, Alexa was forced to be in a match or surrender the title and her opponent was a Luchadora that was obviously Becky Lynch (this was a Julia Chang in Tekken level of disguise)

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After this match, it was announced that in the last SmackDown of 2016 that Alexa would defend the Women’s Championship against Becky. My prediction is that Little Miss Bliss will retain the championship. Now we know that she got her look from Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad from earlier this year, but I would like to see Bliss go in a direction more reminiscent of the character, someone who is a little crazier, uses her feminine wiles and fully explores the crazy girl gimmick. It has been done before and it works.

Prediction: Bliss by pinfall

 

WWE World Championship (Triple Threat): AJ Styles (c) vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler

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Originally, this was Styles vs. Ziggler, but Baron Corbin was recently added. I, for one, am glad the Corbin has been added. Corbin has been able to thrive thanks to the advent of Talking Smack. In addition to this, he has improved in the ring. That being said, I don’t believe Corbin is ready for a world title just yet. In fact, I don’t think he will be involved in the final decisions. Since Corbin cost Kalisto the Cruiserweight Championship at Survivor Series, Kalisto has a reason to pay Corbin in kind.  I think Kalisto will take Corbin out of the equation, leaving Ziggler to take the pin from Styles. I think Ziggler will get his due run with the title, but I think it will be put off a bit. After all, the Royal Rumble is coming up and on that night in WWE, anything can happen.

Prediction: Styles by pinfall

Return of John Cena: What will happen?

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I personally believe the end of the title match with Styles, Ziggler, and Corbin will bring about the return of the Leader of the Cenation. As we saw during the summer, Cena and Styles had a phenomenal feud (see what I did there? See it?) and I expect them to pick up where they left off. Styles vs. Cena at the Royal Rumble PPV is a safe bet and one I think will get the viewers to tune in if not for seeing Goldberg in the Rumble match.

 

BONUS TITLE MATCH?!?!?!?

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As I stated earlier, virtually every title is being defended on this episode. As of now, an Intercontinental Championship match has not yet been announced, but certainly it is not outside of the realm of possibility. Given The Miz’s recent encounter with Renee Young, wherein he brought up Renee’s relationship with Dean Ambrose, I think The Miz might be made to defend against The Lunatic Fringe. I could see SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan being so annoyed with Miz as well as Maryse interfering in her husband’s matches that she is banned from ringside. In the event that this is added, I have to pick Dean Ambrose to win the Intercontinental Championship.

2016 was crazy in terms of superhero movies, bringing a plethora of new characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as beginning to lay the groundwork for the DCEU. 2016 also saw Deadpool hit the screen for the first time (as far as I’m concerned, it has only happened once), we saw one more of the Infinity Stones, we saw brother fight against brother, and different brothers come together. This year has undoubtedly been a high year for superhero movies and it doesn’t seem as though that trend is going anywhere anytime soon. My ranking for the comic book films of 2016 follows as:

6. Suicide Squad

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Suicide Squad was a film that brought many characters from the DCEU into the fold for the first time. Debuting characters included Deadshot (played by Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), The Joker (Jared Leto), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and others. The Suicide Squad is a team of villains essentially drafted to work for the government in exchange for reduced sentences all the while the members try to undermine Rick Flag and Amanda Waller and not activate the micro-explosives that are implanted inside of them. The Suicide Squad is a great concept, but it is also one that failed to translate to the big screen. Overcrowding can often be a problem in films like this, but it was especially a problem in this film because Deadshot and Harley Quinn were the only ones to get substantial (or any) character development. In addition to this, I have a handful of other problems with this film: 1) Magic is a cop-out for a villain. 2) The throw away character was painfully obvious. 3) The manipulation of Harley by the Joker was not only watered down, but the aspects of their “relationship” are more normalized. I cringe whenever I see a Joker/Harley “relationship goals” post anywhere because they have never had what would be considered a loving relationship.

5. X-Men Apocalypse

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X-Men films have always had the problem of overcrowding and X-Men Apocalypse is no different. Of course James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were back to reprise their roles as Charles Xavier and Magneto, respectively. The film also brought back Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters and Nicholas Hoult as Mystique, Quicksilver, and Beast. The film in and of itself was incredibly clunky and tried to shoehorn a lot of stories in. In addition to this, the fact that literally no one has aged even a little bit is absolutely baffling to me. Minor inconsistencies like Scott not even existing in DoFP to being Havok’s dear little brother, despite the fact Havok would be in his 30s/40s at the time of this film and Scott is still in high school. The entire film just felt rushed as well as a villain that was entirely too OP and Jean Grey (portrayed by Sophie Turner) came to know The Phoenix way too soon. I’m honestly against the thought of another X-Men reboot, but this film makes me seriously reevaluate my position.

4. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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The first film of the DCEU, starring Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, had potential and opportunity but simply failed to live up to the hype. Batman vs. Superman had the daunting task of playing catch-up to the MCU, establishing multiple characters and introducing others, including Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. All of these characters are getting solo films so the problem was made so much worse. In addition to this, the film was a tad darker than what audiences might have expected. My chief complaint though comes about only as the result of one line, that is, the infamous “Martha” debacle. This way of ending Batman and Superman’s conflict was beyond lazy and was incredibly cheap. As reticent as I was about seeing Ben Affleck play The Dark Knight, he was one of my favorite parts of the film. Affleck has been one of just a few actors that have been able to capture the essence of playing Batman as well as Bruce Wayne.

3. Dr. Strange

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I had been awaiting the Dr. Strange film ever since he was name dropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I was like a kid on Christmas when this came out. Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting was the icing on the cake. Sure, this was yet another origin film; however, this was the first live action adaption of Dr. Strange so familiarizing him with non-comic fans was essential. My only major complaint with the film was casting Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One (I would have much rather seen Ken Watanabe, but I digress). Despite that though, performances were fantastic. Overall, the film was superbly put together and I love how the magic was presented. Many may not have liked the “Inception” effects, but they were wonderfully explained (being in the Mirror Dimension). A relatively minor complaint that I have is how ridiculous they made Dormamu look.

2. Captain America: Civil War

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After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron as well as an incident in Lagos calls for a measure called “The Sokovia Accords”, which essentially meant The Avengers would become a task force of the United Nations. This drove a divide between The Avengers (as well as other characters). Perhaps the only thing that would have made Civil War go higher on my list would have been if it was more true to the source material. Not the level that Watchmen was mind you, but I would have liked to see the Netflix shows integrate with the films (even if it was only a minuscule way). Imagine if we might have seen Steve going into a New York bar to see Jessica Jones, only to have her respond in such a way reminiscent of the “Go fuck yourself.” that Wolverine gave to Xavier in X-Men: First Class. As glad as I was to see Spider-Man in the MCU, it would have made much more sense for Ironman to be recruiting either Daredevil or someone that was not a kid. Civil War also had the problem of extremely unclear motivations and reasons they were involved. For instance, the entire premise of Ant-Man was so Scott could see his daughter again, but here he is jeopardizing all of that and ends up in imprisoned again at the film’s conclusion.

1. Deadpool

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While this is not The Merc with a Mouth’s first appearance on screen. There was the terrible “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, where in Deadpool was an amalgamation of various mutants powers. Fortunately, Ryan Reynolds was given a mulligan on playing Wade Wilson. Reynolds was perfect for the role and Deadpool perfectly brought the comics to life. You simply have to love a movie that is self-aware. From the opening credits to Stan Lee’s cameo to the end credits scene, I was thoroughly enthralled by not only the performance of Reynolds, but also Ed Skrein, Brianna Hildebrand, and Morena Baccarin. The sequel, which has said it is bringing in Cable, I hope will be the same style of this one. Why fix what is not broken?

This article was originally published by The Odyssey, but it is an article that I authored and have the rights to. It can be found here.

Note: This article was written while “Batman: The TellTale Series” was still in development, but my point remains that Batman has had enough games (at least for the time being).

At the Game Awards in 2015, it was revealed that Telltale would be coming out with another Batman game (really?). Telltale is criticized enough for having games where your choices don’t matter. Ignoring that, “Arkham Knight” just recently came out. It is ridiculous to me that ANOTHER Batman game is already coming out. Here are ten characters that are more deserving of a video game than The Dark Knight.

1) Superman

There are currently 15 solo Superman games….and none of them are good. The only good game with Superman that I’ve played is “Injustice: Gods Among Us”. As long as the flying mechanics are improved upon and have a more free roam mode, where you can perform various saves on the basis of time. There would also have to be a fairly huge open world to fly around in.

2) Spider-Man

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” along with “Spider-Man 2” are arguably the best Spider-Man games. In order to get another one to take off, you have to improve on them. If the web-slinging could be perfected as well as the fighting. A nice touch would also be improved photography missions as well as Batman-style detective work. Have Peter Parker go into places that Spider-Man can’t.

3) The Punisher

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In 2005, the now bankrupt THQ made a Punisher game that was loosely based on the 2004 film which even had Thomas Jane playing the title character. The only real complaints I have about it are the way in which The Punisher moves, the story mode, and the lack of continuity to the film on which it is based. The Punisher had a second game released called “The Punisher: No Mercy”, which was really just a bootleg Call of Duty with Punisher characters. If the right company stepped up and made a new game with an adequate story mode, phenomenal graphics, and perhaps an open adventure/missions similar (yet different obviously) from GTA, then you would have a great Punisher game.

4) Black Widow

With a Black Widow video game, I would want something relatively free from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The story line itself would be highly espionage focused, keeping the focus on that particular aspect of it, meaning no contrived love angles like we saw in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.

5) Blade

Marvel could take a bold step into the horror genre with a take on the Day Walker. Something about vampire hunting just seems awesome when you consider the state of horror games now. As long as jump scares aren’t overdone (looking at you Five Nights at Freddy’s), Blade could be one of the greatest horror games of all time. Throw in a survival mode, having to face waves of vampires. The game would also need weapons that are are not convoluted or hard to to control as well as hand to hand combat mechanics that do not have the button mashing nature of the Arkham games.

6) Hellboy

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The horror game could be taken a step further, going from vampires to…basically anything else. In Hellboy lore, things go bump in the night, but it would be your job to bump back. It would be great to go deep into a lot of demon mythology and seeing a wide variety of monsters. Getting to use The Samaritan would be awesome too. Like a Blade game, the jump scares should be kept to a minimum, not have artificial tension, and get back to the essence of horror gaming.

7) Catwoman

This game would either be really great or it would be terrible. It would also likely be dependent on the story mode, centered around stealing and stealth. Catwoman also uses a whip and a pistol, both of which could be of use in a number of game-related situations. As long as Batman was kept out of the game, I would be okay with it. I would also be okay with minor references to The Caped Crusader.

8) Green Arrow

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With the popularity of the TV show “Arrow,” I think an open adventure Green Arrow game would be fantastic. Mission oriented stories, skins from both the comics and the show. The coolest part of the game would be either the hand to hand combat or cycling through various types of gimmick arrows that Green Arrow has employed through his history; for me, my personal favorite is the boxing glove arrow.

9) Wonder Woman

In this I wouldn’t necessarily think a contemporary Wonder Woman would work. I think this game could be a better sell if they dipped into the mythology aspect of the character. SO many facets of Wonder Woman could be explored with this game not just as a warrior but also as a general.

10) Suicide Squad

This game would depend on which characters were used as well as the direction it took. It could either have a story mode with a limited number (say six?) characters or it could go the route of the Ultimate Alliance games and have a vast array of characters.

I personally think an Ultimate Alliance of super villains would be the best option. The Suicide Squad has had a lot of members over the years and many interesting characters. I would have a lineup of the following characters: Rick Flag, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Deathstroke, King Shark, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Solomon Grundy, Speedy (Roy Harper), Hawkman, Bane, Double Down, Silver Swan, Firehawk, Sportsmaster, Lady Liberty, and Poison Ivy. This lineup features both well known and a little obscure characters.

Maybe none of these games would be a success, but I think any of these would be better than ANOTHER Batman game.

October is the month in the NFL calendar where the higher-ups and the organizations go all-in on a sham known as “A Crucial Catch”. You know that shtick where the NFL teams get those special pink gloves, pink towels, even the referees get cute little pink penalty flags and it is supposedly done to raise awareness for Breast Cancer.

There is one fact that gets overlooked by the NFL: October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Definitely a fact you won’t know watching the NFL.

William Gay, a defensive player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, wrote a piece in November of 2015 detailing why he wore cleats that went against the NFL’s uniform policy.

“It’s not that I don’t understand the value of money, and it’s not that I’m trying to stir trouble. When I wore those purple cleats, I was standing for something much larger than a football game. October is Domestic Violence awareness month, and purple is the official color for the cause. When I was 8, I lost my mother. She was shot three times by my stepfather, fatally, before he also killed himself. My mother didn’t know she was in an abusive relationship until it was too late; she didn’t know what domestic violence was, let alone how to get help. Awareness, to me, is everything.” 

Yet he was still fined for wearing purple cleats.

Almost one year later, yet nothing has changed. Recently, Josh Brown (K- New York Giants) was told he would not be traveling with the team to London to play against the Los Angeles Rams. Many people would be in agreement (I would hope) that Josh Brown should have been cut from the team as opposed to just watching the game at home. However, it has surfaced now that Brown admitted to the Giants organization that he abused his now ex-wife…and would you fucking believe that the Giants resigned him? I don’t care how good of a player you are, once you hurt a woman, you are less of a human to me. Josh Brown physically and mentally abused a woman that he has children with. And the NFL has done nothing. He still has his cushy little job, thanks to John Mara. He is facing absolutely no repercussions thanks to Roger Goodell.

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It could not really be said that Roger Goodell cares about domestic violence anyways. Let us just take a look at last year after giving Ray Rice a meager two game suspension. During this time the NFL was also trying like hell to put an NFL team in Los Angeles (in which they succeeded), trying like hell to catch Tom Brady on wrong doing (in which they really failed), and they worry about ratings and getting their pink gear out.

Well Jesus Christ, how about the welfare of women of children? People who have actually been put in harm’s way…

Why penalize someone for trying to bring some fucking awareness to the issue? To put it simply: Roger Goodell and the NFL don’t give a shit about domestic violence and bringing awareness because they can’t make money off of it. They cannot sensationalize it enough to get people to do anything about it.

Another October, another Domestic Violence Awareness month will go un-passed to the NFL and they will get into their phony-baloney patriotism with their digital camouflage jerseys and the “Salute to Service”. The NFL is heading in a bad direction and I am not sure that there is a recovery from it. I hope I am wrong. This is simply a spot on the laundry list of problems that the NFL needs to take care of.

 

 

Monday October 10, Season 2 of Supergirl premiered on The CW. Originally, Supergirl was on CBS, but difficulties at the network led to CBS not renewing. The show was then picked up by The CW, home of The Flash, Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. This has opened up endless possibilities for the show-runners at The CW to go. But here, for your reading pleasure, is my list of best Superman actors.

Caveats: Tom Welling of Smallville was great, but as he was never actually seen AS Superman, he will not be on this list. In addition, I have not watched George Reeves or Kirk Alyn as Superman so this is not a complete list. That being said, this list is my subjective opinion and by no means a complete list.

Christopher Reeve

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More often than not, you can’t get better than the original. For many fans, Reeve is still the standard that DC fans hold Superman two. His films though, were made for a different generation of fans. The Reeve films were made to be campy, more reminiscent of the comics of the 1930s. Looking above, he definitely had the look as well as the personality to bring Clark Kent as well as Superman to life. I can watch the Reeve films and be just as entertained by them as I was the first time I watched them.

Tyler Hoechlin

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“The Last Son of Krypton” on the show Supergirl,  Tyler Hoechlin is the better of the more recent iterations of Superman. It isn’t just limited to his ability to play The Man of Steel, it was his other half as well. Clark Kent is just as important to the character of Superman as Kal-El. Hoechlin brings both to life masterfully. There isn’t much I can say after one episode (at the time of writing I have only seen the premiere), but only time will tell in regards to this iteration and I look forward to how this will turn out.

Brandon Routh

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An extension of the Christopher Reeve franchise, Brandon Routh took up the mantle in 2005’s Superman Returns. A more modern take on Superman at the time, but Routh still captured the essence of Reeve. Not taking anything away from Hoechlin, but part of me laments that there wasn’t much fun with the multiverse taken. Routh now plays Dr. Ray Palmer, a.k.a. “The Atom” on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The CW could have had a little fun with this, having Routh pull double duty in terms of playing Kent as well as Palmer. This would have made for some funny moments in the crossover episodes.

Henry Cavill

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The Superman of the DCEU, Henry Cavill has been in Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Let it be said that I think Cavill is great as Superman, but there are two parts to the character: Superman and Clark Kent. Cavill is a terrible Clark Kent. There is absolutely no separation between the two. Clark Kent in these films is literally just “Superman with glasses”. Cavill’s version is meant to be “more realistic”, but especially then I would think Kent here would take extra precautions in order to protect his identity given how dedicated to protecting his secret Jonathan was.

Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin (Kick off Show)

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This match up was added after this week’s “SmackDown Live”. In this match, I am looking for Baron Corbin to assert dominance. I have been following him quite a bit as of late and I am looking forward to seeing where he will go. Corbin is a future “guy” that is, in terms of being a top heel and putting him against former World Champion Jack Swagger is a good start.

Prediction: Corbin by pinfall

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

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WWE Backlash saw Becky Lynch become the inaugural SmackDown Women’s Champion after winning a Six Pack Challenge. This match should at least be compelling. I think Becky and Alexa are both incredible wrestlers and will undoubtedly put on a good match. This feud definitely has potential to be long term, so don’t think Alexa is a one and done challenger. I like the direction they have  gone with Alexa in regards to the Harley Quinn getup and I hope that they will expand on it going forward.

Prediction: Becky Lynch by pinfall

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

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The Apex Predator vs. The New Face of Fear. These titans were supposed to clash at Backlash, but Orton was unable to compete due to injury from an attack by Bray. Consequently, Bray won via countount. The two are set to go again and look for a hugely psychological battle between them. It is a little disappointing that there is no type of added stipulation to this. Hell, No Holds Barred would have been fine. This is another feud that could go on for awhile, but Orton will get a bit more of an edge here.

Prediction: Orton by pinfall

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella

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Another big positive about the WWE brand split has been a bit of an expanded focus on women’s wrestling. These Superstars have been given a greater time to shine and develop them further. The feud between Nikki Bella and Carmella has been developing since pre-Backlash, often with Carmella getting the upper hand. The direction of this feud will begin to change, with Nikki getting the win at No Mercy.

Prediction: Nikki Bella by pinfall

Intercontinental Championship (Title vs. Career): The Miz (c) w/ Maryse vs. Dolph Ziggler

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The Showoff Dolph Ziggler puts his career on the line to potentially win the Intercontinental Championship. If The Miz has anything to say about it though, the show will stop. I have enjoyed this feud between these two. The Miz and Dolph both are guys who wear their love for the industry on their sleeves. You can see it in everything they do, from The Miz on “Talking Smack” to Dolph in the ring. I think Miz takes this one, but I think Dolph leaving WWE will only be temporary.

Prediction: The Miz by submission

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs. The Usos

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Rhyno & Heath Slater became tag team champions of (and Heath became a member of) SmackDown at Backlash. This Sunday, they defend their titles against The Usos who have been on a mean streak for a little while now. It was great to see Heath finally get his contract, but I think Rhyno’s time in WWE is coming to a close, with his campaign and all so I think Heath and Rhyno will drop the titles here and find an alternative direction for Heath Slater. The Usos meanwhile will likely feud with American Alpha.

Prediction: The Usos by pinfall

WWE World Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena

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I love yet hate this match at the same time. I love that AJ is coming in the champion. I HATE though that John Cena is in this match. And it has nothing to do with tying Ric Flair’s record. It has everything to do with how contrived it is, just as a lot of Cena’s matches have been. While I have enjoyed the feuding between Styles and Cena, his (Cena’s) being in this match makes absolutely no sense. Although what disappoints me the most about this match as well as the show as a whole: with a name like “No Mercy”, there is only one No-DQ match (this one) and the participants will likely not be allowed to take advantage of it in a way that will make it meaningful.

Prediction: AJ Styles pins John Cena….then BEATS UP JOHN CENA!