WrestleMania weekend is the one shop stop for fans wanting to attend as many live wrestling shows they can as multiple independent promotions congregate around WWE’s biggest event. In contrast, SummerSlam 2016 weekend is the weekend for the couch potato wrestling fan. As eight major events that can be streamed to your TV will be taking place in two different countries, five different cities, and across five different promotions. With only two events happening at the same time, there is still a way to watch all eight shows throughout the weekend and not miss a minute of the action.
Joppa, MD – 8:00PM EST
Gabe Sapolsky has done a tremendous job with booking EVOLVE in 2016. The intricate and multi-layered storyline happening in the company right now might just be the best piece of storylines that Sapolsky has booked since the glory days of ROH. I highly recommend watching the embedded video that clearly maps out all layers of this story. Lone wolf champion, Timothy Thatcher has been the target of main heel stable, Catch Point’s attacks. Catch Point believes in a philosophy of pure wrestling matches, and while there are similarities in Thatcher’s game, they don’t believe he “fits into” the mold of what they are trying to accomplish with EVOLVE as a company. Thatcher was finally sick of these attacks and left the EVOLVE Championship stranded in the middle of the ring as he walked away from another Catch Point attack. Thatcher has since stated that he will reclaim his championship when he earns his redemption. Thatcher has to go through all members of Catch Point before he feels adequate enough to hold the EVOLVE Championship once again.
At EVOLVE 66 Thatcher will defend his championship against former UFC fighter, Matt Riddle of Catch Point. Riddle has wrestled Thatcher on two previous occasions. The first ended with Thatcher hitting Riddle with a low blow followed by a head butt in a moment of desperation. Thatcher was seemingly up-against-the-ropes and saw his championship slipping from his fingers. In a rematch during WrestleMania weekend Riddle had an armbar on Thatcher, but Thatcher managed to reach the ropes with his foot. Riddle ignored the referee’s orders and instead of breaking the hold he wrenched it in deeper injuring Thatcher’s arm. The referee stopped the match and Riddle thought he won the title, but was instead disqualified for not following orders. EVOLVE 66 stands as Thatcher vs. Riddle III. Will Riddle come away with the EVOLVE championship? Or will Thatcher retain the title only to defend it against the final member of Catch Point, Drew Gulak, at EVOLVE 67?
Another important piece to EVOLVE 66 is the independent wrestling debut of Cody Rhodes.
Rhodes was granted his release from WWE this past May. Rhodes has never wrestled for a company other than WWE or their developmental promotions. Upon his release being granted, Rhodes took to Twitter mapping out his dream opponents. This was a clear guideline that Rhodes was not messing around with the exclusive-to-WrestlePro route that a lot of WWE cast-offs find themselves taking. Rhodes is determined to wrestle the best independent wrestlers from around the world (seemingly)in hopes of returning to WWE with a bigger name, so they will have no other choice, but to book him better than his run as “Stardust.” Rhodes first independent wrestling opponent will be British standout, Zack Sabre Jr.
EVOLVE 66 is taking place at 8:00PM on Friday night and competes for the ROH fan’s attention as they will be airing simultaneously when ROH’s PPV starts at 9:00PM. Having personally emailed both Gabe Sapolsky and the people running the FITE TV app I have found out that the EVOLVE VOD will, most likely, be available 24 hours after the original airing of EVOLVE 66. The guys over at FITE TV said their VOD for ROH’s PPV will be available on their app on Saturday morning. I recommend ordering EVOLVE 66 and watching it live. You will want to be able to watch it before EVOLVE 67 which will take place before that 24 hour mark of the EVOLVE 66 VOD being posted. With the ROH PPV’s VOD being available Saturday morning, then you should be able to watch it before EVOLVE 67 and it will be smooth sailing the rest of the weekend! You won’t miss a minute of the 8 shows happening!
ROH: Death Before Dishonor XIV ft. NJPW
Las Vegas, NV – 9:00PM EST
Order: http://www.fite.tv/roh-death-before-dishonor/ or PlayStation Network or Your Cable or Satellite Provider
ROH has been the target of scrutiny in 2016 in terms of booking and the quality of their product. Long removed from the days that ROH was consistently hammering out quality after quality show. Now, fans are left wondering if they should order the PPV when they come around. The taping schedule of ROH’s TV product as also caused some concern, as the timing of each episode’s release has made it difficult for ROH to build to each PPV with seamless storytelling. The final bit of contention towards ROH is that their NJPW joint shows have turned into NJPW showing up and squashing the ROH talent thus leaving a roster looking inferior to the premiere japanese talent.
ROH’s 14th edition of the Death Before Dishonor takes place in Las Vegas with the NJPW talent in tow. The main event is ROH World Champion, Jay Lethal defending his title against former champion Adam Cole. This has been the most well-built match going into the weekend. Adam Cole joined Bullet Club at ROH’s last PPV, Global Wars in May. Cole and Bullet Club comrades, The Young Bucks recently attacked Jay Lethal and shaved his signature cornrows. Jay Lethal is out for revenge and will be defending his title for the 28th time after holding it for 427 days.
In other action we will see Bobby Fish defend his TV title against Mark Briscoe, IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada wrestle Dalton Castle in a non-title match, and NEVER Openweight Champion, Katsuyori Shibata will take on the grizzled indie vet Silas Young, in a non-title affair.
As said above, I recommend watching this event on delay, Saturday morning when the FITE TV VOD becomes available. Start watching it at 11:00am-12:00PM EST on Saturday morning and you should be done in time to catch EVOLVE 67 live!
Brooklyn, NY – 3:00PM EST
I fully expect EVOLVE 66 to be a great event to watch, but EVOLVE’s weekend culminates at EVOLVE 67 with a card that will be sure to continue the multi-layered storylines happening in the promotion. If Thatcher retains his title vs. Riddle at EVOLVE 66, then Thatcher will move onto the head honcho of Catch Point, the man who has been credited with bringing the Catch Point philosophy to EVOLVE in the first place, Drew Gulak. Thatcher and Gulak have been often compared by fans as the “top technical wrestlers” of the American indie scene. This comparison has rubbed Gulak the wrong way as he feels he is far better than Thatcher and has proven as much inside the squared circle. That has never defeated Gulak in a 1 on 1 match in EVOLVE. Gulak defeated Thatcher at both EVOLVE 31 and 39. EVOLVE 67 will be Thatcher vs. Gulak III, but the title will only be on the line if Thatcher retains at EVOLVE 66. Will Riddle and Gulak both defeat Thatcher setting up a match between Catch Point members? This could be interesting as Riddle is the “wild card” of Catch Point, the one member who is seen as aloof and may or may not be on the same page as everyone else. Or will Thatcher defeat both men to continue what-would-be a 407 day reign as world champion? Or will Gulak win the world title after having wrestled in EVOLVE since EVOLVE 11. There are many directions they can take the EVOLVE World Title and neither of the potential World Title matches this weekend are predictable.
Another piece of the multi-layered storyline in EVOLVE is Catch Point vs. The Sports Entertainers. Drew Galloway turned heel by attacked his partner and fellow tag team champion, Johnny Gargano. This spun Galloway into forming an army of guys that were at some point associate with either WWE or TNA, or felt they have been wronged by EVOLVE as a promotion and their fans. Galloway is joined with Ethan Carter III and DUSTIN (formerly known as Chuck Taylor, and has said that Chris Hero and Cody Rhodes will be joining him as well. At EVOLVE 67 Galloway will team with ECIII and DUSTIN to take on Catch Point members, Tracy Williams, Fred Yehi, and TJP. As extra caveats, Catch Point member Matt Riddle has been summoned by Galloway to join his squad. This would be play into the “outsiders” signature of Galloway’s team as Riddle is a former MMA fighter from the UFC.
The other caveat to the story is that Rhodes’ second ever independent match will be against, apparent ally, Chris Hero. Rhodes who has never wrestled outside of the WWE system will be wrestling the current King of the Independent wrestling world.
With EVOLVE’s relationship with WWE, and more importantly NXT, EVOLVE 67 will be sure to conclude by 8:00PM in time for you to watch the next major event of the weekend!
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II
Brooklyn, NY – 8:00PM EST
Order: WWE Network
NXT will be making their second trip to the Barclay’s Center to wrestle in front of another sold out crowd. The main event on the card would seem unfathomable to a wrestling fan as recent as April of 2015. Neither Samoa Joe nor Shinsuke Nakamura were members of the same roster back then and now a little over a year later they’ll be wrestling each other under the WWE banner in front of 15,000+ fans. In 2005, Samoa Joe wrestled Japanese wrestling legend, Kenta Kobashi in New York for ROH. Now, almost 12 years later, Samoa Joe will find himself wrestling in New York against recent Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Inductee and Japanese wrestling icon, Nakamura. Joe vs. Kobashi received the perfect five star rating from Dave Meltzer, and I am fully confident that Joe vs. Nakamura will give the former match some stiff competition. Both figuratively and literally.
Also happening at this event will be Bayley vs. Asuka II, Austin Aries vs. No Way Jose, and a match I am looking forward to, The Revival defending their NXT Tag Team Championships vs. long time independent wrestling stand outs, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Ciampa recently celebrated the 9 year anniversary of his release from the WWE developmental system. Ciampa left WWE on good terms and was told to go make a name for himself and come back. Ciampa has certainly delivered on those orders as his stock in the past couple of years has risen to heights he has never seen before. Gargano being signed by WWE is the feel good story of the weekend. Gargano was the independent wrestling darling that was never supposed to make it to the big time. Despite being a formerly 300 pound overweight 16 year old kid that has worked his tail off to be a top talent on the independents, Gargano has always been seen as an undersized “above average worker.” Gargano isn’t a flashy high flyer, he doesn’t have the technical prowess of a Bryan Danielson, and he can’t work a microphone as good as a CM Punk. So, what would the big leagues, WWE, see in this undersized talent? They see the way the fans get behind him. They see the way they fans will chant “Johnny Wrestling” as loud as they possibly can because they see that Johnny Gargano has the biggest heart of anyone on the indies. No one has poured their heart and soul into wrestling and has had to overcome the obvious barriers of what WWE sees in their superstars like Johnny Gargano.
Finally, at Takeover will be the NXT in-ring debuts of both Bobby Roode and Ember Moon (formerly known as Athena.) The NXT Takeover specials have always finished promptly at the two hour mark leaving you wanting more, and this will be perfect timing for UFC 202 to begin as NXT signs off.
NJPW Super J Cup 2016
Tokyo, Japan – 2:00AM EST
This past spring, NJPW announced that the return of the Super J Cup will be happening in the later part of the Summer. NJPW has invited wrestlers from 8 different promotions to compete in the 6th ever SJC. The SJC has never happened on a regular basis, but seems to take place whenever there is a resurgence in Junior Heavyweight Talent in Japan. Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit), Jushin Thunder Liger, and Naomichi Marufuji are the only three men that have ever won this tournament and Liger is the only one to return to this year’s edition. Joining Liger are Junior Heavyweight standouts IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, KUSHIDA as well as, Matt Sydal (formerly known as Evan Bourne), Ryusuke Taguchi, Kenoh, and the most talked about non-WWE wrestler of 2016, Will Ospreay. At this event the final eight remaining tournament participants will compete in three rounds of action to determine the winner of the 6th stage of the Super J Cup.
In addition to the tournament action will be two Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship matches. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, The Young Bucks will be defending their titles against their old TNA Wrestling rivals, The Motor City Machine Guns. The GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Daisuke Harada and Atsushi Kotoge will defend their titles against Taiji Ishimori and ROH star, ACH.
This event will conclude around 5:00AM or 6:00AM EST in time for you to get in a good 6-7 hours of sleep in time for CHIKARA’s iPPV!
CHIKARA: No One’s first, and You’re Next!
Philadelphia, PA – 3:00PM EST
CHIKARA’s subscription service “CHIKARAtopia” was launched in April of 2015 and has since grown into one of the more complete streaming services available among independent companies. CHIKARAtopia was originally launched as a for the CHIKARA faithful to re-visit their favorite CHIKARA events from the past. They have since begin adding more current events to the extensive catalog and next Sunday will be showcasing their first event to air live via the CHIKARAtopia service. This service is available for just $7.99 a month and they are currently running a special 7 day free trial! You can check out this event for free and scope out the CHIKARA catalog for 7 days before deciding if you want to stay subscribed to the service.
One of the big matches happening at this event is The Big Deal (formerly known as Hornswoggle) teaming with Sloan Capriese and Rick Roland to take on The United Nations (Francisco De Coronado, Prakesh Sabar, & Proletariat Boar of Moldova) in trios action. Oleg the Usurper will take on Abominous Rex in #HOSSFIGHT action. Current CHIKARA Grand Champion, Hallowicked will forming a team to take on whatever team Fire Ant can drum together as he tries to keep the famed stable of the Colony in tact.
CHIKARA is always good as a fun wrestling show to sit back and enjoy. They don’t advertise themselves as a “Fun filled super lucha show” for nothin’! This event will most likely be under the 3 hour mark. That would put this show at ending around 6:00PM EST. The SummerSlam Pre-show is scheduled to start at 5:00PM EST, so you will have to decide whether to watch the rest of CHIKARA’s iPPV or the first hour Renee Young leading a panel of Booker T and Jerry Lawler to preview SummerSlam.
WWE SummerSlam 2016
Brooklyn, NY – 8:00PM EST
Order: WWE Network
Over the last couple of years WrestleMania has been the showcase for the super casual fan that will watch WWE once a year, whereas, SummerSlam is the showcase for the die hard WWE fan that wants to watch good in-ring action. The 2016 edition is shaping up to be no different, and infact might be the best example of such.
Prior to Brock Lesnar’s fight at UFC 200, WWE announced that his SummerSlam opponent would be Randy Orton. This fell flat amongst the wrestler Twitterverse. Orton will be wrestling for the first time on PPV since last year’s SummerSlam after severely injuring his shoulder. Orton has made his return to WWE as the badass babyface, which is refreshing and the role Orton has always done his best work in, contrary to popular belief that he is better as a heel. Orton has been on fire with his work in this angle turning the flat fallen announcement upside down as there is now hype surrounding this match.
This is also the first major PPV following the recent Draft that saw Raw and Smackdown splitting the WWE roster. WWE World Champion, Dean Ambrose, took his championship to Smackdown after being drafted second overall. Ambrose will be defending his championship against the resurging, Dolph Ziggler, in a match that also turned its own lack of hype upside with an excellent promo exchange between Ambrose and Ziggler two weeks ago on Smackdown.
Since Ambrose took the WWE World Championship to Smackdown, Raw had to create their own top championship. Thus, the WWE Universal Championship was born. Two time WWE World Champion, Seth Rollins will be competing with the newly called up and former, but longest reigning NXT Champion in company history, Finn Balor. This match is the workrate nerd’s wet dream and will be sure to deliver with the two most consistent workers in WWE competing against each other.
SummerSlam 2016 is a special four hour long PPV (not including the pre show), and surely be a great show to end this incredible weekend.
Talk to me on Twitter (@MrTCMitchell) and tell me which of these eight events you are looking forward to the most! nd look for Part two of this SummerSlam Weekend Series on Wednesday as I go over the “Can’t Miss Matches of the Weekend”