Thursday, March 30, 2017

Breaking Down the Betting Odds of WrestleMania 33

Lukewarm Jonah: It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Wrestlemania season and that means Wrestlemania betting odds.  Joe will be there in person, but just in case he wants to pay for his ticket by winning a bunch of bets on one of the most underwhelming Wrestlemania’s in recent memory we’re going to look at the odds for the matches at the grandest stage of em all.

Joe: Let's face it, the WrestleMania 33 card looks like ass on paper. The main events were basically designed to give me the least excitement possible, so if I can't see a great WrestleMania card, maybe I can at least make some money off of this thing. Let's break down the odds and find the best bets for this Sunday.
AJ Styles (1/7)  vs. Shane McMahon (11/2):
Lukewarm Jonah: Remember last year when I picked Shane McMahon to win since he had to win in order to continue the storyline?  Well they showed me by mentioning it briefly on RAW the next day then never speaking of it again.  Anyways, AJ Styles is the best wrestler in the company by far and best all around performer.  So he’s been rewarded with dropping the world title and having a match with a non wrestler whose last name is McMahon.  If the WWE does anything besides have Styles run over McMahon after Shane jumps off of something they’re stupid.  That being said, they are very stupid.  I’m still sticking with Styles winning as he pretty much has to, but never doubt a McMahon winning a match for no reason.  

Joe: Yeah, AJ Styles pretty much has to win this match. The only conceivable reason that Shane would win is to get AJ on Raw, which I wouldn’t be totally opposed to, but the only reason I won’t boo is if the Mean Street Posse comes out to help Shane win it. Maybe a Shield style triple powerbomb with the help of Joey Abs and Pete Gas?

Neville (4/11) vs. Austin Aries (15/8):
LJ: This should be a fantastic match.  I know Joe isn’t a big fan of Aries but he was really coming into his own right as he was hurt.  Neville has been great as the King of the Cruiserweights.  They should tear the house down and have a really fun match, but I’m actually taking Aries the underdog.  He’s fresh and he’s getting big reactions from the crowd.  How am I going to bet against the Greatest Man Whoever Lived?

Joe: I am looking forward to this match as this is finally an opportunity for us little guys to shine. The cruiserweight division debuted with a wet fart, but Neville came in to save the day. I think they ride with Neville as the leader for a while longer, and he gives me at least one, “Holy shit” moment.

John Cena and Nikki Bella (1/7) vs. The Miz and Maryse (6/1)
LJ: Miz and Maryse have been carrying this feud like crazy and are doing incredible work.  That being said, those odds are probably not long enough for them.  Cena and Bella are going to win this match and have a big Wrestlemania moment.  There’s a prop bet later that I’d like to talk about, which I think all but ensures Cena and Bella’s win.

Joe: I hope this is the main event, just to give everyone horrific flashbacks to when Miz and Cena main evented a WrestleMania, and it was awful...wait a second, I’m going to be there. This is probably not a wise thing to wish upon myself. I’ll go with Cena and Bella too.

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal:

Braun Strowman
Tye Dillinger
Finn Balor
Karl Anderson
Zack Ryder
Samoa Joe
Apollo Crews
Tyler Breeze
Big Show
Shawn Michaels
Titus O'Neil
Sami Zayn
Austin Aries
Big Cass
Randy Orton
Bo Dallas
Luke Harper
John Cena
Jimmy Uso
Kurt Angle
Dean Ambrose
Heath Slater
Elias Samson
Big E
Mark Henry
AJ Styles
Jey Uso
Kofi Kingston
Luke Gallows
Shinsuke Nakamura
Kevin Owens
Curtis Axel
Dolph Ziggler
The Miz
Jeff Hardy
Darren Young
Jack Swagger
Roman Reigns
Seth Rollins
Chris Jericho
The Undertaker
Baron Corbin
The Rock
Brock Lesnar
Hulk Hogan
Conor McGregor
Hideo Itami
Stone Cold Steve Austin
CM Punk
Bobby Roode
Xavier Woods
Ronda Rousey

LJ: Always some interesting and fun odds on the Andre The Giant memorial Battle Royal.  Good odds on anyone not named Braun Strowman.  It’s easy to see why, he’s a monster and he just lost some of his heat by being beaten by Reigns.  The two names I’m interested in are two guys who were interesting in the Royal Rumble, Finn Balor and Sami Zyan.  I think they hold off on Balor’s return to help Seth out so I’ll go with good old underdog Sami Zyan to win it.

Joe: Looking at this list, it’s pretty shocking how many great wrestlers have nothing important to do at WrestleMania. Braun Strowman has been awesome these past few months, Samoa Joe has been eating people’s hearts, and Sami Zayn is my (insert heart emoji). Oh yeah, there’s also Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, and THE ENTIRE NEW DAY. They should, like, put all of those people in a Money in the Bank match for my own happiness. Instead, they’re probably all in this battle royal, and I guess I’ll go with Sami Zayn, as I don’t see any surprise debut appearances, and eventually Sami Zayn needs to win something.

Kevin Owens (2/7) vs. Chris Jericho (3/1) United States Title Match
LJ: By far the best booked storyline going into Wrestlemania.  The Kevin and Chris friendship express was extremely entertaining for months and the Festival of Friendship was one of the best segments in years.  Owens is the favorite here since he’s the full time guy and rumor is Jericho might be going on tour with Fozzy soon.  I’m actually taking the underdog Jericho here to win and redeem himself by getting revenge on the guy who screwed him over.  I’m guessing there’s an Owens destruction the next night on RAW but I’m taking Jericho to pull off the win here.

Joe: This is definitely the most interesting storyline, and that’s because it’s from two of wrestling’s most entertaining performers. Even as a Jerchoholic, I’ll admit, I did not see Jericho having this sort of run again. He has been so phenomenal this past year, and it’s truly incredible that he has found a way to reinvent himself yet again. And that’s not taking anything away from Owens who is relentless in and out of the ring, and he will literally just wear you down with everything he does until you are entertained. Still, Jericho deserves to get one up on Owens so I’m going to agree with you and take Jericho to get the win.

The Club (11/10) vs. Enzo and Big Cass (7/5) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (5/2) RAW Tag Team Title match.
LJ: The Club has been booked terribly since coming to the WWE and they continue their terrible booking by attacking their partners in a handicap match ensuring that they’ll be in a triple threat at Wrestlemania.  But Enzo and Big Cass are the picks here, the WWE wants to push them and they should.  They’ll give them their Wrestlemania moment of winning the tag team titles here.  Probably after The Club lays down and lets them beat them because they’re just tired of carrying them around.

Joe: Well, Monday night, to build interest in this tag match, it was turned into a ladder match, but I was already excited, mostly because it has my man Antonio Cesaro in it. Now that there’s a ladder involved, expect Cesaro to do something incredibly dangerous and/or incredibly strong in this match. I still don’t think him and Sheamus are winning, as I agree that it’s probably time to put the belts on Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.

Bayley (1/3) vs. Sasha Banks (3/1) vs. Charlotte (8/1) vs. Nia Jax (14/1).  RAW Women’s Title match.
LJ: How terribly has this been booked?  It’s really how terribly Bayley has been booked.  He have a dominant heel champ with a PPV unbeaten streak and the biggest PPV of the year coming up.  We also have an organically over babyface in Bayley that basically everyone loves.  Let’s have the babyface win the title on RAW by interference, and break the PPV streak at a nothing PPV by interference.  Perfect.  Anyways,the one part of this feud that’s been booked decently is the fact that Sasha Banks should be turning heel soon and I think she turns heel at Wrestlemania.  Charlotte was right this entire time and Banks screws over Bayley at Wrestlemania and takes the title.  The good news going forward is that RAW has almost no face women, but hey who cares right?

Joe: I agree that Bayley has been booked terribly, but this is the match that I am most confident in delivering an awesome performance. It’s kind of crazy how much women’s wrestling has changed in the past couple years. Two years ago, Paige had the main women’s match, and I’m pretty sure it was against Nikki Bella but not totally sure. Either way, it was totally forgettable. Of course, two nights before that, Sasha Banks and Charlotte tore it up at the NXT show, and it is absolutely criminal that that match is not available for viewing, because it was pretty damn awesome. Anyway, Charlotte and Sasha Banks are the two best women’s wrestlers around; Bayley isn’t far behind (but she is behind), and Nia Jax plays an important role of just getting to ragdoll little girls like Sasha. But I agree with you, Bruce Springsteen (The Boss) wins the title here.

Alexa Bliss (5/2) vs. Becky Lynch (5/2) vs. Mickie James (6/1) vs. Natalya (9/1) vs. Carmella (14/1) vs. Naomi (5/4) vs. ???
LJ: So, it’s the Smackdown women’s title match Alexa Bliss taking on all available Smackdown women.  There are odds on a few more women, and Asuka is one of them at (16/1).  The smart money seems to be on Naomi returning and winning the belt she never lost.  Becky Lynch is always a threat and Mickie James has some attractive odds as well.  Carmella is definitely more likely to win this match than Natalya so I like her odds as well.  The “All available Smackdown women” comment from Daniel Bryan has to mean that someone unexpected will win the match.  I’ll go with the favorite Naomi to make her return and take back the title.  

Joe: Here’s my surprise for Mania. Asuka wins the Smackdown Women’s Title. I think she loses her NXT title on Saturday night, and then makes her surprise debut in this match and wrecks worlds.

Seth Rollins (1/4) vs. Triple H (7/2) Unsanctioned match
LJ: First question, what the hell is an unsanctioned match, and if anyone’s in one why is it the CFO of the company?  I honestly don’t know if this means it’s a No DQ match or what, but Rollins should really win.  Triple H is always the biggest, toughest, coolest guy in feuds and he’s pretty much dominated Rollins to this point.  But Rollins is his guy, Triple H really likes him so I’m going to do something that’s bitten me in the ass before and think that Rollins picks up the win here.  He probably gets a Samoa Joe beatdown afterwards to write him off while he recovers, but I think he pulls it out.

Joe: Jonah, don’t you get it? All other WrestleMania matches are sanctioned, but this match, this match is unsanctioned. Triple H wrote up an ironclad contract (thanks to help from Big Johnny) that means that Seth Rollins can’t sue no matter what Triple H does. Triple H is known as The Game. What’s the world’s most dangerous game? That’s right, hunting fellow human beings. Triple H is going to shoot Seth Rollins, but it’ll be fine, because it’s unsanctioned. Seth Rollins still wins, because DAVENPORT, IOWA RULES!

Roman Reigns (2/7) vs. The Undertaker (5/2)
LJ: Don’t worry everybody, the WWE heard your demands for a dream match and put the top face against The Undertaker, that’s right it’s John Cena oh crap I mean Roman Reigns.  It’s the Big Dog’s yard now everybody.  Also, please call him the Big Dog and wear my super illegally designed Big Dog Roman Reigns shirt while you do it.  Rumor has it, this might be The Undertaker’s last match.  I don’t think it is, but who knows.  It sure looks like this is when Roman Reigns finally turns heel because you know he’s getting booed out of the building if he beats The Undertaker.  Instead, Roman probably beats The Undertaker, Taker shakes his hand and passes the torch to him and crowds continue to shit all over it.  Big Dog for the win.

Joe: Oh man do I not give a shit about supernatural characters. I’ll take Undertaker, because he’s due for a win at Mania. He hasn’t gotten one in a year.

Dean Ambrose (+350) vs. Baron Corbin (-600) Intercontinental Title match.
LJ: I’m a little surprised by these odds too.  I mean it makes sense that they want to push Corbin as the new monster and give him a good title win, but he dropped a forklift on Ambrose and it sure seems like he should get his revenge.  So screw it, I’m going with Ambrose getting that revenge on Corbin and winning at Wrestlemania.

Joe: I’ll agree that these odds are surprising. I thought I could make good money off Corbin, as I think it makes sense for him to win, mostly because a small child could produce more believable offense than Dean Ambrose. So let’s stick with the Lone Wolf to go 2-0 at WrestleManias and make a real run at Undertaker’s streak.

Randy Orton (4/11) vs. Bray Wyatt (13/5) WWE Championship match.
LJ: This is actually a bit of a tough one to call.  Orton’s storyline is that he couldn’t beat Bray so he joined on him and then turned on him and burnt down his house.  Wyatt got his revenge by rubbing dirt on himself.  The conclusion of this storyline should be Orton winning and finally overcoming Wyatt.  However, Wyatt just won the title a month ago and is getting very strong reactions.  Also, he did get his house burnt down, so the WWE’s 50/50 booking should get the win.  It’s a tough one, but I’m taking the favorite Orton.  The WWE sure loves them some Randy Orton so he probably gets his redemption and wins the title.

Joe: Oh man do I not give a shit about supernatural characters. Let’s go with Bray Wyatt winning with help from Sister Abigail who will be portrayed by noneother than Sunny. Now that’s a prediction.

Brock Lesnar (1/9) vs. Goldberg (9/1) WWE Universal Title match.
LJ: Here it is folks your main event of the evening.  Which part timer will win the championship?  Obviously, Goldberg has completely dominated this feud going back to the time they fought years ago.  This means Lesnar basically has to win the belt.  At least he can last more than two minutes in a match.  The real question is whether he walks out with the belt, or if we get some shenanigans to get the title on someone who actually appears on RAW.  Could be at Wrestlemania, could be the next night on RAW, or he could just hold the belt, appear every couple of months and eventually lose it to Roman Reigns.

Joe: Holy shit, they really need Lesnar to win this thing. I hope it’s a shoot and we see who the better real fighter is. But if they want to make it interesting, you have Lesnar win, and then you have the man who never lost the title, Finn Balor, come out, challenge Brock Lesnar to an impromptu match and win the title before the night ends. It makes everybody happy, except for Goldberg’s shirtless child, but judging by that belly, the sweets he’s been eating should keep him fat and happy.

Prop Bets:
LJ: My favorite prop bet of the night is whether John Cena proposes to Nikki Bella at Wrestlemania.  Yes is (4/9) and I’m betting this happens for sure.  The angle has been about Nikki Bella being unable to get Cena to propose and you know Cena wants to do it at Wrestlemania.  Also, wasn’t The Big Show supposed to fight Shaq?  It looks like this match isn’t happening but you can bet on whether or not Shaq (4/1) will appear in the ring at Wrestlemania, so if it does happen you can bet on it and win some money.  There’s also a prop bet for whether or not Finn Balor (4/9) appears in a ring and I think that’s almost guaranteed so that’s a safe one too.  There are no odds for a Smackdown Tag Team title match, but The Usos will probably retain against American Alpha.  

Joe: I’m not sure about prop bets, but I already predicted an appearance from Asuka. Also, I say Hulk Hogan makes his triumphant return, and we also get appearances from The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Vin Diesel. Since there should probably be an NXT guy in the battle royal, I’ll go with Tye Dillinger maybe getting the permanent callup at this point. And finally, I’ll say that Dolph Ziggler pays homage to Rick Rude and air brushes Jake Roberts’s wife on his crotch. Where can I get odds on that?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Look Back at Iowa Wrestling's 2017 NCAA Tournament

I needed a little bit of time to recover before I could do any sort of analysis of the NCAA Wrestling Tournament. It was yet again the best sporting event of the year, even though I can admit that the finals were less than stellar this year. But that's the beauty of the tournament; it's often the leadup that makes things magical. There were incredible matches throughout the tournament, which makes it easier to take Penn State's dominance on Saturday night. But Penn State's dominance is far too depressing of a topic for me right now, so instead, let's look at the mixed bag of Iowa's performance at the NCAA Tournament.

9. Topher Carton - 141 - 2-2: DNP
Here's the thing with Carton's performance. It really wasn't disappointing. It just kind of happened. He won his first match in the pigtail pretty easily. Then he went against George DiCamillo, who made the National Finals this year and got majored, but that's really not too shocking either. He bounced back and majored Cole Martin in the consolation side of the bracket. Then he took on Luke Pletcher which could be seen as a toss up match, but Pletcher seemed to have his number this year and beat Carton 9-6. It was a totally fine performance, but Carton wrestled well enough this year where you could envision him pulling off an extra win or two, but it just didn't happen for him.

8. Thomas Gilman - 125 - 5-1: 3rd Place
Is this too low for Gilman? Probably, but Gilman was the best guy at 125; it wasn't particularly close, and he still didn't come away with a National Title. He came out exactly like he should on his way to the semifinals with two major decisions, followed by a pin. The number two and three seeds had already been sent packing, so it seemed as if Gilman would cruise to a title. But weird things happen at the NCAA Tournament. Gilman wrestled super tight the entire match against Darian Cruz, but Gilman controlled the offense in the match, but eventually his hesitation cost him. He shot in, got Cruz's leg and...held it there. All it took was one beat and Cruz spun hard, kicking his leg free and getting behind Gilman for the two. Thank god for the guy at the top of this list, because I was legitimately distraught on Friday night when Gilman lost. Bravo to Cruz for getting the win, but there is no doubt that Gilman was the best 125 pound wrestler this year. He ended up taking care of business on the backside and getting third place, but anything less than first place was going to be a huge disappointment. I still can't believe he didn't win the National Title.

7. Joey Gunther - 165 - 2-2: DNP
I kind of came into the tournament thinking that if things broke right, Gunther would get one win. Instead, he got two wins, so congratulations to him. He got handled in his opening match, but then came back to win back-to-back matches on the backside of the bracket. His luck ran out when he went up against Bryce Seitert of Northern Iowa, but it was a really solid performance for Gunther. He got better and better during his Freshman season, and usually that would be something to build on. Unfortunately, super recruit, Alex Marinelli, will likely take over the starting spot at 165 next year, and Kaleb Young is going to be tough to beat out at 174. I don't know where things go from here, but Gunther grinded out a lot of matches this year, so let's hope he continues to grind for the Hawkeyes.

6. Alex Meyer - 174 - 2-2: Round of 12
Sometimes results aren't necessarily as important as how someone wrestles in the tournament. Alex Meyer may have only gone 2-2, but he wrestled his ass off. In the first round, he took care of his unseeded opponent and followed it up by upsetting the number six seed in Ryan Preisch from Lehigh. Then, for six and a half minutes, he wrestled his best match of the season. He went up against Bo Jordan of Ohio State, who made the NCAA Finals (and probably should have won if replay had given him what looked to be a takedown). Meyer was up 3-2 with less than a minute left in the match, but with about thirty seconds left, he couldn't stop Jordan from getting to his legs and Jordan got the takedown and ride out to win the match 4-3. After that, he had a match with Kyle Crutchmer and unfortunately got hit with a six point move. He worked his butt off to come back with nonstop aggression but Crutchmer was able to stall his way to victory, 13-10. Last year, Meyer was an All-American, and this year he wasn't. Usually, that would put him lower on this list, but I was able to watch all four of his matches, and even though the results weren't there, the wrestling was, and there's no shame in how Meyer ended his Hawkeye career.

5. Sammy Brooks - 184 - 4-2: Fourth Place
Brooks came in ranked as the three seed, and he ended up finishing fourth. In his wins, he looked as good and possibly better than expected as he pulled off multiple pins and probably the most exciting single moment for Iowa when he managed to reverse a throw and pin Emery Parker of Illinois in the Quarterfinals. I nearly yelled in excitement while watching at work, so that probably would have blown my cover that I only had it on as background noise. Then he went up against Bo Nickal, and it appears Nickal just has Brooks's number as he pinned him yet again in the first period. He bounced back with a convincing win over returning National Champion, Myles Martin, but then got down early and eventually took a pin against TJ Dudley, another guy who has given Brooks a lot of trouble. The Mullet ends his career with back-to-back All-American honors which isn't too shabby.

4. Brandon Sorensen - 149 - 5-1: Third Place
Sorensen wrestled as well as anyone could expect. He came in seeded fifth, but I think every wrestling fan saw that as an absolute worst case scenario. He lost to the top two seeds at the end of the second overtime by riding time advantage. What hurt him on seeding was getting upset by Pat Lugo of Rutgers and losing to Micah Jordan in the Big Ten Tournament. He would end up avenging that loss twice over during the NCAA Tournament. First, he beat Micah Jordan in the quarterfinals, 3-0, but that fifth seed meant that he'd be facing the overwhelming favorite, Zain Retherford, in the semifinals. The good news is Sorensen was the only person to not get tech fall'd against Retherford; the bad news is that Sorensen got pinned in one of the most painful moves I have seen on a wrestling mat. Even after the disappointing loss, he bounced back on Saturday to major decision Solomon Chishoko of Virginia Tech before beating Micah Jordan again for third place, and he didn't give up a single point in either of those matches. Sorensen will go into next season as the second ranked wrestler, but unfortunately, Zain Retherford will be back, which just about guarantees that he's fighting for second place.

3. Michael Kemerer - 157 - 6-1: Third Place
I'll admit that these next two picks may be higher than some might place them. Sorensen got third place as a fifth seed, while Kemerer got third place as a two seed. But it's one of those situations where watching Kemerer, there's really only one guy who wrestled better, and that guy ended up with a title. In his first match, he got a major decision, and he followed that up with a tech fall. His quarterfinal match was against Dylan Palacio which was a nonstop scramble until Kemerer got caught in a weird position and got pinned. The pin seemed questionable, but had Palacio gotten four back points, it was going to be tough for Kemerer to come back. That was definitely disappointing, but it didn't slow down Kemerer. He ended up going on the backside and taking three straight major decisions, including one over Tyler Berger, who gave him one of the best matches of the year during the Midlands this season. He ended going up against Joe Smith of Oklahoma State, who stalled his way to overtime, but Kemerer kept shooting and shooting and shooting until he took Smith to his back in overtime to win the match 7-1 and take third place. Nolf is a monster at 157, but Kemerer looked better in his second match against him than he did in his first, so it wouldn't be completely shocking if he is able to close the gap even more next year. Either way, Kemerer is going to be a ton of fun to watch for the next three seasons.

2. Cash Wilcke - 197 - 3-2: Round of 12
On results alone, there is no way to put Wilcke this high. I mean, the guy didn't even place. But holy shit did this guy beat expectations. When they announced the seedings and at-large bids, you know where Wilcke was seeded? He wasn't seeded. In fact, he didn't even qualify for the dang tournament. He was literally the last guy added as an injury replacement. If he went in and won one match, it would be something for Iowa fans to celebrate. Instead, he came up with a big upset over 13th seeded, Tom Sleigh. Then he did lose to Jared Haught but came back in the consolations to get a win over Josh Marchok. He then had arguably the most insane match of the tournament against Frank Mattiace of Penn. Wilcke had a one point lead going into the final minute but gave up a reversal with about 15 seconds left. Finally, he gets a restart, but there are only two seconds left, and Mattiace has the one point lead, so it's basically over. But Mattiace also had two cautions, so he couldn't jump the gun or he'd give up a point. Wilcke explodes out and gets out before time expires, maybe partially helped by a timekeeper that was slow to start the clock. That sent my jaw to the floor and those guys both to overtime. Then in overtime, Mattiace has another false start, his third caution, and Wilcke gets the penalty point to win the match. It was insanity. He had gone from not qualifying for the tournament to one match away from All-American status. He ended up losing 7-6 in a match that wasn't quite that close, but it was such an impressive performance from Wilcke and has me way more excited about what he can do next year when he drops to his more natural weight of 184.

1. Cory Clark - 133 - 5-0: National Champion
This is a no brainer for top spot as Cory Clark, who had lost the last two years in the NCAA Finals, finally got over the hump and won a National Championship. And man, what a run he had this year. He had no easy outs in the tournament and earned it every step of the way. In his first match, he got Connor Schram, who was unseeded after being a returning All-American. Then, he took out Pat D'Arcy who upset the #13 seed in his first match. After that, he faced a super tough freshman in Stevan Micic from Michigan. After giving up an early takedown, Clark started to take over the match and won 6-4. That set up a match with Nathan Tomasello, a former National Champion, and the #1 ranked, only undefeated wrestler at 133. Clark may have lost in the B1G finals, but he controlled the action, with the benefit of two cheap takedowns, and took care of Tomasello 7-4. That set up a finals against his former teammate, Seth Gross, who had absolutely steamrolled his competition leading up to the finals. Gross's closest match was his opening match, where he shutout his opponent 5-0. Then he won by tech fall, followed by two major decisions. Again, Cory Clark gave up an early takedown but he kept battling and in the third period, he was able to get the decisive takedown to take a 4-3 lead. He rode out Gross in impressive fashion and was able to stand atop the podium. As disappointed as I was about Gilman not getting a title, I was just as happy to see Cory Clark finally end up on top. He is going to be dearly missed next season and beyond, but he ended his career the right way and earned his asterisk on the Iowa wrestling room wall.