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Smackdown Live – How WWE Is Killing The Blue Brand

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WWE Smackdown Live Stage

WWE Smackdown Live. What a difference a year makes…

Smackdown Live – The Land of Opportunity. The show which won WWE plaudits from fans and critics alike for its wrestling-first approach following the brand split of 2016 has been on a slippery slope for the last 12 months. SDLive has effectively become WWE’s C show behind RAW and NXT but it didn’t happen by mere coincidence, it all comes down to a series of bizarre decisions and mistakes on WWE’s behalf. The sudden decrease in quality has seen a drastic plight in live show attendances, and backstage sources have recently leaked information which suggests the superstars and staff aren’t happy. So, what happened? How did a show housing the likes of AJ Style, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and many more talented superstars end up as somewhat of an afterthought?

The copious amounts of steroids had given Jinder nasty constipation that week…

  • Unusual Booking Decisions

Ask any member of the WWE Universe and they will unanimously agree that one of the major catalysts for the sudden decline on the blue brand was WWE’s short-sighted decision to put the WWE Championship around the waist of Jinder Mahal. This isn’t to say he is entirely to blame as that would be unfair on a man who was thrust in to the spotlight and did the best he could with limited material but considering the calibre and talent of the names mentioned above this was never going to sit well with regular viewers. The fans aren’t stupid, this was quite clearly a marketing ploy on WWE’s behalf, one intended to help drive the company forward into the Indian market, but what WWE failed to recognise is the impact this would have outside of its intended market. Viewing figures down, network subscriptions going nowhere, half empty arenas for live shows… all for the sake of making a few extra bucks on a different continent where wrestling isn’t even close to being their number one sport. WWE absolutely baffle me sometimes, the merchandise sales from keeping the belt on a guy like AJ Styles, the best wrestler in the world, would’ve more than outweighed all the negative impacts that the Jinder experiment had.

Dolph Ziggler won the United States Championship out of nowhere against Bobby Roode and Baron Corbin. It was a genuine shock and for a lot of fans quite a welcome one, you can question Dolph’s commitment, but you certainly can’t deny his talent, plus we so rarely see actual surprises anymore. What did WWE do next? They had him vacate the title just 2 nights later, seemingly quitting the company in the process, then held a tournament to determine a new winner. Dolph then surprisingly returned as the number 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble, another decision which made no sense whatsoever, just to have him leave little impact on the match before being eliminated. A few short weeks later and he is shoe horned in to the WWE Championship fatal 5-way match at Fastlane. So that’s: 1. Gives up his title 2. Walks away while insulting fans and company 3. Gets handed an opportunity at the main title. Am I the only one seeing something wrong there? If I quit my job and walked away while saying my employer doesn’t deserve me, I wouldn’t then walk back in a month later as the new CEO…

When Tyler Breeze & Fandango formed to create the fashion police, barely anybody batted an eyelid, myself included. But then when Fashion Files came along out of nowhere, the world started to pay attention. These two guys had something special, they had ‘it’… we already knew they were good enough in the ring, but now they were entertaining, hilarious, clever, witty and with a marketable gimmick to boot. They were so good they even managed to bring The Ascension back out of obscurity, which should never have happened in the first place seeing as they were the longest reigning NXT Tag Team champions in history, but that’s WWE’s horrible booking for you. So, what have Breezango done since? Surely they’ve won the titles by now? Shown the world what we always knew they could do right? NOPE! They’ve been relegated to short clips on wwe.com, turned into a complete joke and they’ve been jobbing out to the Blugeon Brothers for no good reason in ridiculous squash matches.

Can somebody please find exactly what it is WWE are smoking and bring it my way please?

The only good thing to come from the Jinder experiment… this GIF

  • Limited Roster

Another problem SDLive has is the roster. While they do have some outstanding talent on offer, once you look away from the WWE Championship picture there really isn’t a lot going on. The mid card scene right now is one of the poorest I’ve ever seen, and while it is centred around the gifted Bobby Roode does anybody really want to see him taking on the likes of Mojo Rawley and Jinder? In their desperation, WWE have shifted Randy Orton into the mix, but unfortunately the move has come about 3 years late when the majority of fans are fed up of seeing yet another one of Vince McMahons golden boys given undeserved opportunities.

With a smaller roster comes the big problem of having fewer storylines, and therefore having to extend the current programs way longer than they need to be. It feels like at this point AJ Styles has been facing off against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for about 6 months, I know it hasn’t been that long, but it genuinely feels as though it has been, and that’s a real problem. Don’t get me wrong, RAW suffers from this problem too most notably with anything Bray Wyatt ever does, but SDLive has this issue all over the show. Charlotte v Natalya, Uso’s v New Day (amazing but still overextended), AJ v Jinder… the list goes on. We want short, snappy and exciting feuds lasting a couple of months at most.

While SDLive is suffering badly with its talent pool, RAW is facing the opposite problem of having too many great superstars to utilise them all correctly. The blue brand will hopefully get a shot in the arm when we see the return of the Superstar Shakeup this spring, bringing talent from RAW such as Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Elias and Seth Rollins who could make a monumental impact and conjure up some dream matches with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Styles. A few NXT call-ups wouldn’t go amiss either, with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black more than deserving of their time to shine after incredible 2017’s.

The gold that can be struck from intelligent booking. From Roman’s boot boys to the greatest tag team in the world

  • Tag Team Division

While the show has been on a downward spiral, the one thing that SDLive got right in 2017 was the tag team division. The Uso’s and The New Day produced main event calibre matches week in and week out, their promos were absolute fire and a rivalry which spanned across both shows somehow managed to never get boring and they single handedly saved awful PPV’s. The back end of 2017 was equally as entertaining with the addition of Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin (Benjable) and the unlikely duo of Rusev & Aiden English (Rusev Day) into the mix. We saw these 4 teams put on some of the best tag team contests I have ever seen, harking back to the glory days of Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boys and The Hardy’s. The division was so good that it was gaining plaudits from all over the world and was keeping people interested in a show which was lagging in other aspects.

Then around 4 months ago, WWE said ‘screw you guys’ and decided that what we really wanted to see was The Uso’s v Benjable. The best tag team in the world versus the weakest of the four teams mentioned before competing in a series of regular 2v2 tag matches, when we had just been treated to some absolutely insane and frantic contests. The going plan seems to be The Uso’s v The Blugeon Brothers leading into WrestleMania and I’ve got to be honest, I can’t think of anything that I would want less right now. The Uso’s were almost universally voted as the best tag team of 2017, and now Vince is going to feed them to his favourite thing. Big. Burly. Angry. Sweaty. Homoerotic. Muscly. 7-foot-tall men. Because god forbid natural talent should be rewarded eh? What we REALLY want to see is Erik Rowan lumbering around the ring slapping himself…

WWE really need to let go of the likes of The Colons, The Ascension and (it pains me to say it) Breezango. Let them go and shine somewhere else, they would thrive in other promotions such as Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling, and could be quite nicely replaced with a couple of NXT call-ups like Authors of Pain, SAnitY or Bobby Fish & Kyle O’ Reilly.

The crap that can be forced out through lazy booking. From the best woman on the roster as a heel to losing all credibility as a face

  • Women’s Division

I’ve tried to find a way to say this nicely but its proving impossible so ill just come out with it. The SDLive women’s division is an absolute clusterfuck right now. There is no direction, no appeal, no storyline and no credible challenger for the championship. Charlotte v Sasha Banks on RAW was the rivalry which reminded fans that with the correct booking, the women could be main eventers. Since Charlotte moved to the blue brand however, she has lost everything that was great about her, The company are building her as a natural babyface, but it just doesn’t work at all, she is a natural born heel like her daddy, but she finds herself on a show already full of heels… albeit very average ones.. Natalya was the last woman other than Charlotte to hold the belt for a short while and it was one of the most painful and forgettable experiences that I’ve seen. Of all of the other women on the show there are only one or two who can be believable champions, and even they are a bit of a stretch. Becky Lynch is very talented in the ring and she is good enough on the mic but was treated like absolute shit in 2017. Naomi is probably the closets to Charlotte in terms of ring work and athleticism, but she falls flat when it comes to mic work where she is horribly stereotypical with almost every sentence.

SDLive have a nasty tendency to use every single woman on every single show. 99% of the time you can guarantee that we will be seeing some sort of 3 v 3 tag match with one of those teams being the Riott Squad and both teams having a manager or valet such as Lana. It’s such uninspiring drivel every single week, and although each woman brings something different to the match, they have absolutely no chemistry with eachother and it ends up a complete mess. The Riott Squad was a nice idea when they debuted, but neither Liv Morgan or Sarah Logan were ready for the main roster, they were brought in because one is pretty and one is dominant, and their matches are usually so bad that even Botchamania would struggle to fit in all the screw ups. I can’t be the only one who has a hard time generating any excitement for the next episode when I know exactly what matches I’m going to see before they’re even advertised.

The only saving grace here is that it seems Asuka will be using her Royal Rumble victory to challenge Charlotte at WrestleMania. While I may not be an Asuka fan, and I know I’m in a minority there, she is at least a credible threat and will bring out the best in the champ. Going forward SDLive desperately need to trim the fat from the division and say goodbye to the deadweight such as Tamina and Lana, bring Bayley over in the Superstar Shakeup and give debuts to someone like Nikki Cross or Peyton Royce.

“Shane mate, stop rolling up your sleeves to look like a badman. You’re not hench, you’re fat. Grow up. Stop wearing sneakers you adolescent dick” Bryan’s actual words. Honest.

  • Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan

Well here we go… the real kicker. Let me take a second to apologise in advance in case this gets a bit… sweary.

When Shane McMahon returned to WWE it was one of the most surprising and iconic moments of all time. The prodigal son had returned to challenge his sister Stephanie and father Vince and despite falling short he was rewarded by being put in charge of SDLive and taking on RAW in direct competition. Show v show, brand split, first WWE draft in years, new general managers… it was an exciting time. SDLive got off to a great start, with Shane outlining the direction of the show from day one. He proudly announced that SDLive would be the land of opportunity, it would focus on the talent and the superstars opposed to the management who were the focal point on RAW at the time. It was a welcome change from the norm, and something the fans had long been craving.

Fast forward almost two years. We have seen Shane face the legend, icon and challenger for the Greatest Of All Time title The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 32 in a terrible Hell In A Cell match, Kevin Owens in yet another less than average cell match, AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 33 and two Survivor Series main events. This is an old man who at no point of his career has been able to wrestle or sell, who has never been able to speak consistently well on the mic and is known for nothing more than falling off of tall things… and he is taking the spots and matches that superstars infinitely more deserving are missing out on. He hasn’t even won any of his feuds, so please tell me what was even the point? None of the men he has faced needed to be put over, they didn’t need someone to make them look good. It’s a non-stop ego trip from a man born into wealth and power and it makes me fucking sick.

We have seen him appear on virtually every single episode of SDLive in some capacity, and over the last 6 or so months we have seen his personal differences with Daniel Bryan take precedent over the actual wrestling and superstars. Their bickering and tension led to Styles v Owens going on for months longer than it needed to and has led to some terribly lazy writing in the process. SDLive is not the land of opportunity, it is the Shane McMahon show.

Daniel Bryan is a different story altogether. He is universally adored and respected for his ability, phenomenal career and heart-breaking early retirement. He is the general manager, someone whose character and job it is to defuse tension, make matches, interact with superstars etc. and he performs this job well. He appears as much as Kurt Angle does on RAW and that is completely the way it should be as they are both fan favourites who we are happy to see sticking around. But the constant need to have Shane on TV has dampened the impact that Bryan has. It never felt like it was about the management when Bryan was on screen, even during his great backstage rivalry with The Miz, but as soon as Shane appears it just becomes so draining to watch.

The saviour of SDLive?

The major appeal of Bryan throughout the latter stages of his career was that he was fighting against The Authority, constantly having to battle against all odds with his tyrannical bosses who were trying to hold him down. He was the common man, fighting and scratching for what he deserved and that is something which will always resonate with fans. However, over the course of the last 6 months he is becoming nothing more than just another suit in the back, playing politics and bickering with talent, which has recently led to small sections of the live crowds booing him. WWE have well and truly fucked this up and if it leads to a Shane v Bryan match, like they’re constantly teasing us with, I genuinely don’t think I’ll be able to keep supporting the product. Bryan deserves better and so do the fans. The only way I would take this match is if it was ‘loser leaves the company’ kind of deal, because there isn’t a chance in hell Bryan would lose and we would finally be rid of the geriatric, embarrassing, skin crawling, professional botcher, ego stroking, sneaker wearing piece of shit.

So to summarise, if SDLive want to climb back to the top of the mountain they need to:

Utilize the Superstar Shakeup, especially as they will likely lose Styles to RAW. Explore NXT and call up guys like Gargano who would thrive under the management of Bryan seeing as they are so similar (don’t believe me? Read this!). Invest time building Charlotte v Asuka as the new Charlotte v Sasha. Bring back the exciting tag team turmoil we grew so accustomed to last year. Give Shane much less TV time, only really utilizing him if the occasion requires the main bosses involvement to give it a sense of importance.

Never mind making it the blue brand…make these changes and it can be THE brand.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

WWE Fears AEW

Are Vince McMahon and WWE running scared from AEW? The signs, for Juan, point to yes.

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AEW All Elite Wrestling

Are Vince McMahon and WWE running scared from AEW? The signs, for Juan, point to yes.

For the last 18 years WWE has controlled the wrestling world with an iron fist but in recent years poor decisions booking wise made promotions like NJPW and ROH rise and gain popularity. Now WWE has with AEW a direct competitor that in just one month has shaken the wrestling world for the better. Like it or not WWE fears the potential AEW could have in the wrestling world.

The shirt scandal

The best example WWE not only fears but has taken notice of AEW, is the fact they banned AEW shirts in some WWE events for a limited time, but this ended very quickly. This showed WWE in a weak position and afraid of having a direct competitor as it once had with WCW.

This controversy made AEW the underdog of the situation and, in reality WWE made them a favor by giving them the title of ‘’rebels’’ against the evil empire. People like to cheer and support the underdog and now that brief controversy made WWE look bad in all ways possible. Also, the Being The Elite show made a reference to this events and most fans understood the reference very quickly.

Talent want to leave

Is no secret that WWE’s booking and talent management has been terrible in the main roster and the talent had no choice but to stay in WWE. The birth of AEW has challenge the wrestling business in a big way. With AEW, wrestlers have more options to see their career change for the better or they can just use AEW as a business strategy to make more money from WWE.

WWE lately in an attempt to make talent happier has been giving pushes left and right to wrestler in a way to stop them from living and going to AEW. The Revival, Almas and other cases are the example of this strategy from WWE’s part. Other cases like AJ Styles whose contract ends soon has yet to re-sign with WWE in the best position to take the best offer possible right now. Other wrestlers in a similar case like Styles are Gallows, Anderson and Nakamura whom WWE creative has not been kind to them recently.

AEW are the rebels

WWE and AEW have this dynamic of the evil empire and rebels like I mentioned previously. AEW is taking advantage of this ‘’gimmick’’ in a way to be the real alternative the wrestling business has been looking for years since the death of WCW.

WWE being this evil empire has been the norm for years now and people considered NJPW and ROH the rebels, but they never were able to compete directly with WWE but AEW in just two months has been able to get in the head of Vince McMahon already, making them a huge threat to his wrestling monopoly.

AEW needs to live up to the hype

Not everything is perfect in AEW. The promotion needs to deliver in a big way in this Double or Nothing show in a way to show the world they are the alternative to WWE. For now, AEW has been doing the right moves and signing all kinds of interesting talent.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

WWE Week in Review: February 11-17, 2019

Tiffany gives us her thoughts on the Elimination Chamber week in review! 

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Chairshot WWE Week In Review

Tiffany gives us her thoughts on the Elimination Chamber week in review!

RAW

Becky Lynch vs The McMahons:  Since this was an episode long story, I’m just going to include it all here. This was pretty much Austin vs McMahon with less swearing and middle fingers. I think everyone knew that the whole apology thing was BS before they finished saying it, but seeing Becky mull her options was interesting.

That said, I’m NOT happy about Charlotte Flair being shoehorned into this. She’s excess baggage in a match that doesn’t need her. Becky Lynch was the talk of sports, not just wrestling, SPORTS, last year, not Charlotte Flair. All WWE had to do was not screw up Rousey vs Lynch and they screwed it up MASSIVELY. Hopefully, this will get fixed before April.

Boss Hug Connection vs Riott Squad vs Nia and Tamina was a go-home match with stakes attached: the loser will be the first entry in the Elimination Chamber, meaning that they’ll have to stay in the longest of the six teams involved.

It was a really good match, Liv Morgan showed herself to be very scrappy, taking on Nia Jax who outsized her in every respect. Normally, I would say that Boss Hug Connection losing means that they’ll win at Elimination Chamber, but I really think WWE’s going to build Nia and Tamina as an unstoppable team for WrestleMania.

Elias/Lucha House Party was a weird segment considering all the commercial breaks and cut aways. It makes me wonder if there were some technical problems that they were trying to work out. Add in the absolute randomness of LHP coming out and it not being for a match. It was just a weird segment and I’m not sure what the point was.

Drew McIntyre vs Finn Balor/Six Man Tag went WAY too long and was BORING on top of it. I sort of got the McIntyre/Balor thing because McIntyre is allied with Lashley, but the whole run-in and thing with Angle and Strowman and the six man was just…UGH!

Speaking of Angle, this is really hard for me to say but, he needs to retire. I get that he wants to give back and get the young guys over, but it was pretty obvious that the Wrestling Machine can’t go the way he used to and it was really sad to watch.

Kevin Owens: I’m not a Kevin Owens fan, so his segment didn’t do much for me, personally, but I’m glad he’s recovered from his surgeries.

Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riott was a match straight out of NXT, where they actually did have a rivalry when Nikki first debuted with SaniTy and it was really great. I was a little disappointed that Nikki lost, but Riott needs the momentum for her match at Elimination Chamber, so her winning didn’t hurt my feelings and she and Nikki looked great.

Seth Rollins’ segment alone and with Heyman was really good. It’s still not clear that Seth will be able to beat Lesnar on his own, but he made it clear that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to do so. I loved Rollins saying what a lot of people have felt about Brock Lesnar and his Universal Title runs.

Rumor is that Dean Ambrose changed the script of his segment with Rollins and what he said was more in character for Ambrose than whatever Vince had in mind. It also teases possible way for Rollins to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania.

Dean Ambrose vs EC3 was an okay match, but the important thing is that Ambrose won the match, even with a roll up, giving 3 a taste of his own medicine. Even though the crowd was DEAD after a very lackluster show, Ambrose got quite a pop when he won, so hopefully face!Dean will stick around for awhile longer.

Revival vs Rood/Gable: Last week, I voiced my frustration over the booking of the Revival and how they should’ve been tag champions by now and it FINALLY happened. After months of screwy, and sometimes downright STUPID, losses, the Revival are the RAW Tag Team Champions after a fantastic match with Roode and Gable.

Thoughts: This was a BORING RAW. The cuts and segments were all over the place. It was like they couldn’t figure out the show sequence and were just winging it.

SmackDown

Pedro Morales: Pedro was before my time, but in his day, he was a great babyface champion and took the title off of Ivan Koloff after Ivan’s shocking victory over Bruno Sammartino after Sammartino had held the title for seven years. He was also a two time Intercontinental Champion and holds the record for most days as Intercontinental Champion. Rest in Peace, Pedro.

Charlotte Flair: I’ve been pretty vocal about not being happy about Charlotte being shoe-horned into the RAW Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania, and I still feel that way. I don’t care if Charlotte vs Ronda Rousey was always the plan, plans can change and there’s no reason why Becky Lynch vs Ronda Rousey needs to be a Triple Threat when every other member of the Four Horsewomen got a one on one with Rousey. However, Charlotte did a good job of embracing the hate that she’s getting, but it’s clear that WWE’s really angered the fans with this decision and will have to tread carefully or they’re going to turn the fans completely against the show in general.

Mustafa Ali being out of the Elimination Chamber match SUCKS! However, I’m hoping the concussion won’t keep him out for too long.

Triple Threat Tag Match was a good bookend for the tag match on RAW, but why in the world were the IIconics not involved? They could’ve just done commentary or something. That said, it was nice to see Naomi finally get some revenge on Mandy Rose and get a pinfall win on her. Also, Naomi/Carmella has turned into my favorite SmackDown tag team for the Women’s Division.

McMiz TV was about what I expected it to be: cringey and over the top, but it was a good segment and I loved the Usos standing tall while casting doubts on McMiz’s chances on Sunday.

Elimination Chamber Gauntlet Match was amazing for one reason: Kofi Kingston. Kofi has been a staple of WWE TV for over a decade and it was nice to see him really get a chance to shine away from New Day. I could be wrong, but I believe Kofi set a record by lasting an hour in the match. After he was finally eliminated, the match was a lot less interesting, and Randy Orton’s sneaky win wasn’t a surprise when I realized that there was five minutes left and Kofi was still in. Do I think Kofi will be champion off of this? No, not really, because he’s been performing like this for a decade and it’s never gotten him closer than the Intercontinental Championship, and he hasn’t held that in years, but we’ll see on Sunday.

Thoughts: A solid show overshadowed by the Gauntlet Match, but got everything in place for the two big matches on Sunday. My biggest issue with SmackDown was that the Gauntlet match was really the only exciting match and that stopped after Kingston was eliminated. Other than that, the show was forgettable. Hopefully that will change next week.

205 Live

Lucha House Party are always fun to watch in the ring, but I’ve never thought of them as compelling promo guys, but their in ring promo on Tuesday was pretty good.

Lince Dorado vs Jack Gallagher was a really good match, and it was nice to see Gallagher in action since WWE hasn’t seemed to know what to do with him and Gulak if they’re not feuding with Kendrick and Tozawa. Gulak’s gimmick still bothers me because he reminds me too much of RL politicians, but it makes it easy to hate him. Gallagher getting a win was a surprise, but it wasn’t an unwelcome one and it looks like it’s going to be LHP vs Party of Gulak for now.

Humberto Carrillo’s interview was really interesting. I’m still not a fan of the whole Gulak thing of showing a POC the ‘proper’ way to do something they’re obviously good at or saying that their style is lack, but Carrillo is a great wrestler and it makes for an interesting first feud for him.

Ariya Daivari’s promo was interesting. He basically bashed everyone he’s been attached to without naming names. I think he’ll make a great #1 Contender but I don’t see WWE doing a Heel vs Heel storyline for the Cruiserweight Championship just yet.

Mike and Maria’s promo was much in the same vein as Daivari’s: Been working for x number of years and not gotten the recognition they deserved and is better than the people he lost to. I do like the whole ‘Not the losses but the process’ thing, but I think WWE still doesn’t know what to do with them and that really needs to change. Kanellis would be a great babyface challenger for Murphy.

Tony Nese vs Noam Dar was a fantastic main event for 205, which is par for the course for them. This started as a small feud, but it’s definitely the most interesting feud right now. I was a little disappointed that Dar lost, but if that means this feud continues, I’m all for it.

The only problem with 205 doing No DQ matches is having to work around SmackDown and/or dealing with a crowd that might be worn out from two hours of main roster wrestling.

Murphy vs Tozawa Contract Signing went about as well as any contract signing in WWE could be expected. There was a lot of trash talk and vows of victory. I was surprised that blows weren’t exchanged though, it’s almost become a staple of contract signings that someone gets beat up.

Thoughts: A pretty good episode of 205, but not a wowzer. It had goo matches, but nothing really jaw-dropping. Nese vs Dar was fantastic, but the crowd wasn’t into it after SmackDown, which is a real problem.

NXT UK

Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley’s promo was really fantastic. I’ve been a little disappointed that Toni hasn’t defended her title since winning it off of Ripley when Ripley defended the title almost ever week or so. WWE kept things simple by having Ripley use the usual heel excuse of dumb luck to explain the face’s victory, but Ripley stating outright that she hates Storm because of everyone comparing her to Storm was interesting as you seldom have a heel stating that they HATE the face for whatever reason. I loved the fight between the two and am really looking forward to the rematch.

Jordan Devlin vs Noam Dar was every bit as great as I thought it would be. Devlin’s done a great job of building his brand as a loud-mouthed heel, but there’s no denying that he’s super talented. Dar is extremely underrated, in my opinion. I was a little surprised that Devlin lost but having the loss be due to Travis Banks protected Devlin and got that feud back on track. Plus, it gave Dar a win he really needed.

Jinny vs Mia Yim: I believe I said last week that I don’t get Jinny and this week’s match solidified that feeling. I. Don’t. Get. It! There is nothing interesting about Jinny. She’s got an average look, average promo skills, and average in-ring ability, there’s really nothing about her that explains why she should’ve beaten Mia Yim, who is better than her in every respect as far as the ring goes.

That said, the match was good, but I’m not thrilled with Mia Yim getting beaten by someone she should’ve wiped the mat with.

Pete Dunne vs Wolfgang was a FABULOUS match! Wolfgang gets overlooked a lot since he joined Gallus, but it’s not often that you see a big guy that can move like he can. I found it odd that Walter, who is apparently being pushed to face Dunne didn’t get involved, but it was a great match and Pete Dunne looks unstoppable, so that’s all that matters.

NXT

Shane Thorne vs Dominik Dijakovic was exactly what I expected from any match with Dijakovic: Rough and tumble. It was a good match, but I can’t say I’m overwhelmingly impressed with Dijakovic since he almost never has a match longer than five minutes.

Undisputed Era’s promo was really good. Usually a faction losing all their belts is a sign that a split is coming, but that doesn’t seem to be happening with Undisputed Era, at least not right now.

Sky Pirates and Bianca Belair’s Promo was really good and established that Belair isn’t a face now, though her assertion that she’s still undefeated is kind of stupid.

Street Profits vs Humberto Carrillo and Stacy Ervin Jr would’ve been a good, if random, match if WWE had just let them wrestle instead of adding Ohno and Lee for no real reason and then having European Alliance and the War Raiders run in at the end. It just made the segment feel very disorganized.

Aliyah vs Taynara Conti: I’ve been saying for awhile that NXT needs to do something with Aliyah. She’s a great talent and is a great heel, but she tends to get overlooked. That said, I was shocked when she got Conti, a LEGIT blackbelt in Judo, to tap out to the Total Aliyanation, which isn’t the most elegant or impressive thing I’ve ever seen but it definitely did the job.

I HATED the Horsewomen running in on a match that didn’t concern them just to prove how ‘bad’ they were, especially since Aliyah, Borne, and Conti are tweeners/heels. Just a stupid ending to a really good match.

Ricochet vs Adam Cole was AMAZING, as I expected it to be.  I really can’t think of much more to say than that. I wasn’t surprised by Ricochet’s win or the Undisputed Era standing tall. I was surprised by Aleister Black’s run-in, but I’m not against it. It at least gives Ricochet an ally against the UE.

Elimination Chamber

Men’s Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: The men’s Elimination Chamber for the WWE Championship was the main event, and not a deserving main event, in my opinion. I think the Women’s Tag Championship should’ve main evented.

The match was okay. Elimination Chamber matches can be a little hit or miss and this was a hit. Styles being eliminated was a surprise because I really thought it would be down to him and Bryan. Kofi Kingston’s performance was AMAZING and it was a damn shame that WWE chickened out of giving the crowd a truly shocking moment on the Road to WrestleMania, but Bryan retained, just like I though he would.

Women’s Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: I have to admit that I was very unhappy about this match being starting match because it definitely had a lot more interest than the Men’s Chamber match.

Overall, this was a really good match, but it was ROUGH, as is usual for a Chamber match. Riott Squad were my favorites coming out of the box, but I still rooted for Boss-Hug Connection. I was SHOCKED when Boss-Hug won it, my money was on Samoan Dynasty or even the IIconics.

Intercontinental Championship: I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really care about this match. I like Balor, but Lashley bores me rigid and I don’t really care about Rush other than to say he’s annoying.

The match was okay, but I wasn’t into it. However, I am THRILLED that Balor won and FINALLY has a title after being on the main roster almost two years and with only a one day reign as Universal Champion to his name. The end of the Lashley/Rush feud was an unexpected bonus, but I’m not sure what they’re going to do with Lashley without Rush because Lashley has the personality of a dry mop.

RAW Women’s Championship: Not gonna lie, I skipped Charlotte’s promo because I’d rather have my eardrums ruptured than listen to her and because my wifi kind of stinks, I was a little behind. I LOVED that Ronda ditched her usual shorts because watching her tug at them drove me nuts.

I feel bad for Ruby Riott that that pitifully short match was all she got just so WWE can build a match we’ve already seen and nobody wants to see again. Thank God, Becky showed up to save us all. Watching her beat the living hell out of Charlotte AND Rousey was very satisfying, but the use of Riott was utter BS.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: This was a really good, very physical match. I’m a huge fan of Tozawa and I was very impressed with his, and Murphy’s, performance. I was not surprised that Murphy won, but I was disappointed. Murphy’s a good champion, but it’s time for someone else to hold the belt.

Braun Strowman vs Baron Corbin: The neverending, feud between Corbin and Strowman got another airing as the two took each other on in a No DQ match. The match was every bit as bad as I expected it to be and worse, and my expectations were LOW. I can’t say the end was a shock, but I was hoping that this feud would end and it’s not. Mocking the Shield? Not cool and I hope Dean stays in WWE long enough for the Shield to beat all of them up.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: First and foremost, congrats to Miz and Maryse on their second child!

I’m going to admit that I haven’t been feeling this whole Miz/Shane thing and I still don’t since Shane has never been the best wrestler in the world and Miz gets on my last nerve.

The match against the Usos was as good as can be expected. I was shocked, given what happened with Jimmy Uso last week, that WWE would put the belts on the Usos, but I’m very happy about it. It looked like McMiz would steal it from the Usos, but Shane’s bravado got the better of him.

Thoughts

This was another okay week for WWE, I can’t say it’s one of the best ones they’ve had on the road to WrestleMania. Every show had its solid points, but WWE was definitely playing it safe, which is understandable since the company’s biggest PPV is coming up.

Elimination Chamber was okay, it was definitely a B-PPV, but there were enough nice surprises to keep it from being a total snoozer. Now we have Fastlane in three weeks and WWE’s going to really have to ramp up the build to get people into WrestleMania.


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