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Mitchell’s NJPW Report: AXS TV New Beginnings in Osaka Part 1!

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This review of NJPW: New Beginnings in Sapporo Part 1 will be as broadcasted by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay VS Hiromu Takahashi; Ospreay wins and retains the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto VS EVIL; Goto wins and retains the NEVER Openweight Championship.

PLAY BY PLAY

AXS and NJPW take a look at the build to tonight’s two amazing championship matches.

Chaos, one of the top factions in NJPW, and the rising Los Ingobernables de Japon have been locked in intense rivalries as of late. While Hirooki Goto took the NEVER Openweight Championship back from Minoru Suzuki in a Hair VS Hair match, EVIL wants back at the title that he only held for 10 days. At the same time, EVIL and Sanada successfully held onto the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships against Goto’s team, so this match will settle their back and forth over gold.

Meanwhile, Hiromu Takahashi was in an insane Fatal 4 for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship, but not even he, Kushida and Marty Scurll were enough to ground the Aerial Assassin, Will Ospreay. Ospreay himself finally got a win over long-time rival in The Villain, and defends his belt for the first time against Hiromu. Can the Ticking Timebomb blow Ospreay away and grab the gold now that things are 1v1?

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay VS Hiromu Takahashi!

Eccentric though he may be, LIJ’s Hiromu is as talented as they come. Can Chaos’ Ospreay retain his title now that The Villain and the Time Splitter are not factors in the match?

Hiromu bows to the title he wants so badly, and we begin.

They go right at each other, Ospreay kicks Hiromu’s opening move away, and it’s a brawl with fast forearms. Ospreay kicks then runs but Hiromu follows and headscissors Ospreay. Ospreay stays on his feet, throws a dropkick but Hiromu dodges, then Hiromu hits that headscissors again to throw Opsreay out. Hiromu taunts Ospreay then builds speed, only to fake Ospreay out. He jumps into sitting down cross-legged, and dares Ospreay to return. Ospreay smirks before he rolls in, then swings a kick. Hiromu dodges that and the flip, but Ospreay keeps going to headscissor Hiromu all the way out in return. Ospreay builds speed but Hiromu gets clear, which is fine because Ospreay handsprings and lands. He sees Hiromu coming and boots him back out, then builds speed to handspring and FLY out, only for Hiromu to get clear again. Hiromu gives Ospreay a German Suplex to the floor!

Hiromu winks at the camera before dragging Ospreay up. He chops Ospreay, and then whips him from the barriers, but Ospreay reverses to send Hiromu into barriers instead! Ospreay is still recovering, but he gets distance to then run at Hiromu, only for Hiromu to throw him overhead into the barriers!

Ospreay screams in pain while Red Shoes comes over to check on him. Hiromu stands up and walks off his own pain before returning to grind a foot into Ospreay’s face. The 20 count begins, Hiromu brings Ospreay up to throw into more barriers. The count reaches 10, then even 14, but Hiromu gets Ospreay in by 16. He keeps on Ospreay with a knee grinding into Ospreay’s chin. Ospreay gets away to a corner, but Hiromu chops him. Hiromu brings Ospreay out to chop again, then covers, TWO. Ospreay grits his teeth, but Hiromu brings him up and whips, only to reel Ospreay in for a forearm, a shove to the ropes, and a kick to the ropes to jack his jaw.

Hiromu keeps going with another shove, then runs to dropkick Ospreay in the back. Cover, TWO, but Hiromu brushes it off. He stands up and stomps on Ospreay’s bad shoulders and neck. He toys with Ospreay, but Ospreay hits back. Hiromu chops Ospreay, then drops him with a side slam back suplex, cover, TWO. Hiromu keeps on Ospreay with a headscissors hold. Ospreay starts working his way out with a roll, then lifts Hiromu up Electric Chair style, only for Hiromu to slip out and club him in the back. Ospreay screams in pain again, and Hiromu whips him corner to corner. Hiromu clotheslines in the corner and rolls Ospreay as he keeps moving, but Ospreay ducks under to handspring for the enziguri!

Both men are down but the fans applaud. Hiromu stirs while Ospreay slowly fires himself up. He brings Hiromu up for knees and a jawbreaker, then a stiff kick that puts Hiromu in a corner. Ospreay runs in and hits a European Uppercut, then sweeps the legs to sit Hiromu down. Hiromu gets out of the way as Ospreay returns, but Ospreay stops Hiromu with an enziguri. Ospreay gets moving again and hits the elevated 619, but Hiromu runs back to slingshot over! He wants the sunset flip powerbomb but Ospreay desperately holds onto the second rope! Ospreay fights Hiromu off, but Hiromu gets under the shooting star press from the apron! Hiromu lunges but Ospreay rolls over him, to hit the bicycle boot.

Deja vu from earlier as Ospreay runs at Hiromu near the barriers, but this time Ospreay lands on the other side of the barriers to punch Hiromu back. After seeing the railing is sturdy, Ospreay uses them to springboard for a flying forearm! This time Ospreay winks at the camera, in return for the wink Hiromu gave. Opsreay drags Hiromu up into the ring, then takes aim from the apron. He springboards again, for a flying clothesline, cover, TWO. The Aerial Assassin is back in control while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns to find Ospreay bringing Hiromu up and back into the dragon sleeper. He lifts but Hiromu knees out. Hiromu kicks then runs, but into Ospreay’s backflip kick, followed by an enziguri! Fans fire up for Ospreay while Hiromu gets to a corner. Ospreay runs in, Hiromu throws him overhead again, but Ospreay stops from going into the buckles, to then jump and corkscrew senton onto Hiromu!

Cover, TWO, but Ospreay keeps his cool. He fires himself up while Hiromu stirs. Ospreay makes sure the cameras are watching closely as he gets up and aims at Hiromu. Hiromu swings a kick but Ospreay dodges, and Ospreay gets the dragon sleeper suplex. But Hiromu slips out to get the waistlock, but Ospreay elbows him away. Ospreay runs but Hiromu follows, Ospreay dodges and keeps going to run into Hiromu’s powerbomb! Hiromu doesn’t stop there, he suplexes Ospreay up, but Ospreay counters with a stunner! Ospreay runs, handsprings, but into a high German Suplex! Both men are down, but stirring. Ospreay manages to get to a corner. Hiromu gets up and runs at him, but Ospreay boots him back while also getting to the apron. Ospreay bumps and kicks Hiromu, but Hiromu runs–running Red Shoes over in the process–to clothesline Ospreay on the apron!

Hiromu sees what happened to the ref but brushes it off to build speed and hit that Sunset Flip Powerbomb! Hiromu catches his breath after that, and Red Shoes recovers to start a count. Ospreay stirs and Hiromu stands up. Hiromu gets in at 10, but Ospreay takes a little longer. Hiromu stops the count by pushing Red Shoes aside, to then climb up top. He sees Ospreay is back on his feet, then leaps for a super senton onto the champ! Hiromu hurries to get Ospreay back into the ring, then lifts in the fireman’s carry for the Dynamite Plunger powerslam!

Cover, TWO! Hiromu can’t believe Ospreay survived. He drags Ospreay up again for another try, but Ospreay slips out of the swing. Ospreay blocks Hiromu’s punch, and hits the hook kick, but runs into a big lariat! Both men are down again but the fans are loving this. They stir, Ospreay getting to a corner once again. Hiromu stands up and runs in to hit a clothesline, then hoists Ospreay up to the top rope. He chops Ospreay before climbing up. Hiromu jumps and spins but Ospreay blocks the wheelbarrow and drags him up, to German Suplex Hiromu into buckles! Both men crash land but Ospreay fires himself up again. He gets to a corner and takes aim at Hiromu, to run out and hit the Essex Destroyer flipping DDT! That’s not all, as Ospreay climbs up. The fans make noise, and he stands up, to hit the inverted 450!

Cover, TWO! Now Ospreay has a turn being surprised. The fans make noise while he stands up, and hits the Robison Special spinning kick! Ospreay calls for it, then runs, but Hiromu counters the springboard with a jumping neckbreaker! Both men are down again, and now a count begins while they’re stirring. The count reaches 7, but Hiromu and Ospreay stand. They turn to each other, stumbling into a brawl of forearms. Ospreay and Hiromu hit back and forth, then Hiromu stands up to hit Ospreay again. Ospreay stands and rocks Hiromu with his response. Hiromu hits back, so Ospreay hits harder! Ospreay keeps hitting Hiromu, a strike fest and EuroUpper, but Hiromu chops Ospreay overhand!

Ospreay ends up in a corner and Hiromu chops him until he sits down. Hiromu drags Ospreay up for more, but then Ospreay suddenly springs up and puts Hiromu on the ropes upside-down, for Cheeky Nandos! Then after that, SUPER Reverse-Rana spikes Hiromu down! Cover, ONE!? Ospreay can’t believe Hiromu is still up. He rocks Hiromu with a roundhouse, then another strike fest, but Hiromu SUPERKICKS and SUPERKICKS and SU- No, back heel kick from Ospreay! Ospreay says it’s time, and brings Hiromu up for a fireman’s carry. He prepares to steal the Time Bomb itself, but gets a Canadian Destroyer counter instead! Hiromu crawls to the cover, TWO!! And Hiromu can’t believe it.

Hiromu drags Ospreay up, but Ospreay resists to drive elbows into Hiromu’s head. Hiromu powers through, Ospreay slips out, Hiromu back elbows but Ospreay hook kicks again. Ospreay hits a Dragon Suplex, then swears to finish it, only to springboard into another German Suplex! Hiromu is ready to blow, but he runs into a standing Spanish Fly outta nowhere! Ospreay drags Hiromu up again, to hang him up on the top rope and get to a corner. He climbs up and aims at Hiromu, and uses the BURNING Star Press to knock Hiromu off! Ospreay’s still not done, as he brings Hiromu up again, dragon sleeper lift to inverted DDT! Cover, TWO!! Ospreay grits his teeth while Hiromu stirs, and takes off that elbow pad. He aims at Hiromu, back hand elbow shot, then springboards to finally hit the OSCUTTER!

Cover, Ospreay finally wins!

Winner: Will Ospreay

The Aerial Assassin successfully retains after his first defense, despite the toughness of Hiromu. Who will be next to step up to Chaos’ two-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion?

 

Hiromu Takahashi speaks backstage.

The Time Bomb vows not to give up. Only he can fulfill his own dream. “Ospreay, for now, you’re the best.” When will Hiromu come back around and prove he’s the best?

 

Will Ospreay holds his press conference.

“That is what Junior Heavyweight wrestling is all about. Two guys being defined straight away for their size but not for their ability. Now we’ve just put the world on notice.” Ospreay and Takahashi fought for the richest prize in their division! But he’s not done yet, he has something else on his mind. He wants something else, so stay tuned to find out what that is. What more could the best Junior in NJPW want?

 

NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto VS EVIL!

Another Chaos with gold takes on an LIJ challenger as The Fierce Warrior meets the King of Darkness in 1v1 competition. Can Goto stay atop the NEVER Openweight Division or will EVIL reign as Darkness Falls?

Red Shoes brings the title over to EVIL, but his gaze seems to be more focused on the man who owns it. Either way, the bell rings and we begin.

The two stare menacingly at each other before circling. They tie up, EVIL gets the headlock and grinds Goto to the mat. Goto pries his way out but EVIL puts the hold back on. Goto powers out and reels EVIL into a headlock of his own. EVIL works his way out, but Goto brings him back in. He tries to power out but Goto holds on tighter to bring him to the mat now. EVIL tries again and succeeds, and the two collide, but neither man falls. Goto dares EVIL to try that again. EVIL runs and they collide, Goto staggers back but returns to shoulder EVIL. EVIL staggers back to swing a clothesline, Goto evades and comes back to finally shoulder EVIL down!

Goto stomps EVIL, drags him up and snapmares him down to kick him hard. Goto stomps EVIL to ropes, then brings him up for an elbow to the back. He brings EVIL up and whips, to back elbow and elbow drop, cover, TWO. Goto keeps on EVIL with a chinlock, then drives an elbow into EVIL’s forehead. EVIL gets to a corner but Goto stomps him again. EVIL shoves Goto away but Goto stomps him again. He chops EVIL overhand, then gives elbow after elbow. Goto whips EVIL but EVIL fires out with a lariat!

EVIL lets Goto slump to the outside then pursues. He shouts for people to move aside as he brings Goto up, and whips him at barriers. EVIL keeps going, bringing out a chair from under the ring. He opens the gate and brings Goto with him, then puts the chair around Goto’s head! EVIL takes aim, and runs to throw Goto right into the post!

“Everything is EVIL”, according to EVIL himself. He has control while Goto is down and we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns and EVIL waits for Goto in the ring. Red Shoes checks on Goto, but the champion is okay to continue. Goto stirs but EVIL grabs Goto to put him in the ring. EVIL covers, ONE, and EVIL argues with Red Shoes. He puts Goto in a chinlock, but Goto reaches and crawls for ropes. EVIL grinds him down, but Goto still gets the ropebreak. EVIL frees him, to stomp him, then whip, into a sidewalk slam! Cover, TWO, but EVIL keeps his cool. He taunts Goto, daring him to take a shot. Goto chops and chops but EVIL chops back, back senton on top, TWO!

EVIL stalks the gasping Goto, then whips him into a corner. He runs in but into Goto’s boot, then more boots. Goto comes out to kick but EVIL elbows the knee. EVIL runs but Goto follows, to run him over with a lariat! Both men are down, but Goto is first to stand up. He drags EVIL up for elbow shots, then a roundhouse. Goto whips EVIL corner to corner and hits the running heel kick, to saido suplex! Cover, TWO, but Goto keeps his cool. Goto drags EVIL back up, fireman’s carry, but EVIL slips out. Goto elbows out of the waistlock but EVIL reels him back in, only to take another elbow. EVIL blocks Goto’s kick, hands it off to Red Shoes, and mule kicks Goto down.

EVIL nods as he gets up while Goto gets to a corner. He runs in for the clothesline, then the bulldog! Cover, TWO! EVIL starts to grow frustrated, but he drags Goto up again. Goto fights off the fireman’s but EVIL still lifts. Goto’s flailing causes them to go to ropes, where Goto gets to the apron. He puts EVIL in a sleeper! Red Shoes tells him to break, but EVIL uses that to hotshot the arms, then lariat Goto down on the apron. Goto goes down to the floor, and EVIL comes out to take out more chairs. EVIL plots something and Red Shoes knows it, but EVIL shoves the referee down to stop him from interfering. EVIL drags Goto up, fireman’s carry, but Goto fights out! Another mule kick stops Goto, and EVIL lifts him again, but Goto slips right out to snap suplex EVIL onto the chairs!

The fans applaud while EVIL writhes in pain. Goto stomps and clubs EVIL before putting him back in the ring. Goto stomps more, then drags EVIL up for elbows and forearms. He whips corner to corner, and hits the corner clothesline. Goto stomps EVIL but EVIL is out cold while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns once more, and Goto drags EVIL up, only for EVIL to flop down as dead weight. Goto stomps EVIL, that wakes him up, then kicks EVIL to drop him again. He drags EVIL up again to hoist him onto the top rope, then climbs up to join him. Goto gives furious forearms, then tries a fireman’s carry but EVIL resists! EVIL elbows back, but Goto gives more forearms, so EVIL rakes the eye. The fans make noise as EVIL notices the big Buddhist bead necklace. He shoves Goto off, and Goto falls on Red Shoes. EVIL climbs down, and prepares those beads as a weapon. Goto gets up and runs in, but EVIL boots him away, to then clobber Goto with his own necklace!

No referee means it’s not a disqualification, and EVIL looks to take advantage as he chokes Goto with the necklace. EVIL pulls back and then stomps Goto into the mat like a slingshot. Red Shoes recovers but EVIL keeps going, so Red Shoes reprimands the challenger, only to be shoved away again. Goto starts fighting back with back elbows, but EVIL clobbers him again. EVIL runs, but into the fireman’s carry and USHIGOROSHI! The fans cheer while Goto tastes his own blood in his mouth. Goto prepares himself, waiting for EVIL to rise, for the hard left kick! He drags EVIL up, suplex but EVIL knees out. Goto tries again but EVIL suplex counters! Both men are down from exhaustion, but are both okay to continue.

They each get to a corner, and run out to collide. Neither man falls, so EVIL keeps going. His clothesline doesn’t down Goto, but neither does Goto’s clothesline to EVIL. EVIL does stagger, but he comes back to clothesline again, only for Goto to stay up. Goto goes again, and the clothesline is solid, to sit EVIL down. Goto drags EVIL up by his hair, and runs again, but EVIL fells Goto this time! EVIL keeps going, fireman’s carry, DARKNESS FALLS!

Cover, TWO! EVIL grows frustrated with Goto as he stands up and calls for the end. He drags Goto up, but Goto blocks the STO. Goto swings but ends up in a German Suplex! EVIL stands and lariats Goto down again, cover, TWO! Both men are down again, but EVIL stands up. He drags Goto up but Goto resists the Half ‘n’ Half. Goto reaches, ropebreak but not for long. He fights the Half ‘n’ Half but EVIL rocks him with a spinning forearm, so he rocks EVIL back with a headbutt! Goto brings EVIL back up, suplex hangs EVIL up on the top rope to then hit a high, draping, reverse GTR! Cover, TWO!

The fans love this, and Goto keeps himself fired up. He drags EVIL up once more, and brings him into the dragon sleeper, only for EVIL to slip around and fireman’s carry. Goto slips out, another dragon sleeper but EVIL turns that into his own, to then swing Goto around again. EVIL wants STO but Goto spins that back around for THE GTR!

Cover, Goto wins!

Winner: Hirooki Goto

With his beads and his belt, the Fierce Warrior of Chaos stands tall over the King of Darkness, also successful in his first defense. Given that Goto defeated the Minoru Suzuki to become champion, does anyone else have hopes of taking the title from Goto?

 

Hirooki Goto holds his press conference.

“I enjoyed my trip to the ‘Darkness World’.” But the NEVER Openweight Championship “lights the way for me.” Goto understands now, and is having a lot of fun. He hopes this belt takes him to “new and exciting places.” What’s important for EVIL right now is to realize he needs to change. “Okay! Who’s next? Anyone can step up.” Goto being the Openweight Champion is willing to give an open challenge of sorts. Will anyone be brave enough to take on the Fierce Warrior?

 

My Thoughts:

A really great start to the Osaka event. I didn’t expect two full championship matches but that made things all the better. Hiromu VS Ospreay was great, but it was lacking Daryl. Daryl would’ve made it perfect. But that aside, great to see Ospreay retain, and as we know in real time, Ospreay’s next goal is to see how he stacks up to the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, aka his leader in Chaos. With this, Ospreay could find himself on a parallel route to Finn Balor/Fergal Devitt, as I remember there being an IWGP WHC VS Jr. HC between Rainmaker and Demon. Hiromu himself still has plenty to do even if he isn’t champion, given his great in-ring talent and magnetically enigmatic personality, he’ll surely be a two-time Jr. Heavyweight Champion down the line.

Goto-EVIL was great, and Red Shoes letting things get hardcore without disqualifying it is definitely different from most other promotions. Anywhere else, the referee would immediately call for the bell, but Red Shoes seems very dedicated to ending title matches with a true winner. Red Shoes seems to be as much of a fan of the action as we actual fans are, and we actual fans are thankful to him. Goto wins, but just like Hiromu, EVIL still has plenty of time and talent to do all sorts of things before getting a singles title, which will happen one day.

My Score: 8.5/10


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Mitchell’s WWE NXT Report! (4/25/18)

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Johnny Wrestling called out the NXT Champion, and the NXT Champion replied. Tonight, Johnny Gargano’s first match back is for the championship! Will he finally achieve his dream? Or will Aleister make Gargano #FadeToBlack? Plus, Adam Cole defends his North American Championship for the first time against Oney Lorcan!

 

All images courtesy of the WWE Network streaming service

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • NXT North American Championship: Adam Cole VS Oney Lorcan; Cole wins and retains the North American Championship.
  • Heavy Machinery VS Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss; win(s).
  • NXT Championship: Aleister Black VS Johnny Gargano; wins and

PLAY BY PLAY

The Undisputed Era is here!

The NXT Tag Team Champions, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong–who stands in for the injured Bobby Fish–and the inaugural NXT North American Champion, Adam Cole BAYBAY are back at Full Sail. If they weren’t cocky before, they are now that they’re one man and one title stronger. Cole takes to the mic while fans chant “Undisputed! Undisputed!” They relish in this moment, and all this gold. “This is exactly what happens when you back the Undisputed Era into a corner.” Since first coming here, the Undisputed Era has been held back by NXT to prevent something like this from happening, and yet here we are. Fish speaks, saying “It’s no secret.” WarGames threw them to the wolves, and New Orleans tried the same. “But what you fail to realize” is that the Undisputed Era has been one step ahead. Look no further than these four “dripping in NXT championship gold.”

Strong speaks and fans cheer. He knows everyone wants to know “Why, Roddy, Why?” Strong isn’t the kind to pat himself on the back, that’s what his friends are for. For once, Strong did something for himself. He made the best decision of his career! Sure he could’ve won the titles with Pete Dunne, but Dunne would’ve turned on Strong in the end. Dunne only cares about the WWE UK Championship. But not the Undisputed Era. They take bullets for each other, and in that triple threat tag, Strong had an epiphany: Roddy VS The World, but why fight alone? Now they fight together to take over NXT! Kyle speaks, “We are done being backed into a corner.” It doesn’t matter what management tries, they can’t be stopped! “This is the Era of the Undisputed”, and they’re leaving everyone else in the dust.

Cole speaks again to say they’ll all prove it. Cole will defend his title tonight against Oney Lorcan, “right freakin’ now.” And on his own! He won this title on his own, so he’ll defend it that way. Just like his NXT Tag Team Champions. Honestly, he doesn’t need help beating Lorcan. Cole asks the others to find a seat and a drink to watch Cole at work. Their time is now, they will forever #ShockTheSystem! Cole is confident as ever, but will it cost him against the Boston Brawler in a matter of minutes?

 

NXT North American Championship: Adam Cole VS Oney Lorcan!

While the inaugural champion has confidence to spare, the #Starkiller never backs down from a fight! Can Lorcan shock Cole by taking that belt from him in his first title defense?

Fans duel between Cole and Lorcan. The bell rings and the two circle. Cole’s ribs are still heavily taped from TakeOver: New Orleans. He ties up with Lorcan, and moves to an arm wrench. Fans sing for “Oney~ Oney Oney Oney~” while he reverses and gets the waistlock. Cole hurries to ropes, and Lorcan lets go, so Cole kicks him low and puts him in a headlock. Lorcan powers out but Cole shoulders him down. The ribs slow Cole down but he still runs. Things speed up and Lorcan catches Cole into an abdominal stretch. Cole gets another ropebreak, then gets out of the ring. Fans applaud while Cole walks it off. The ref begins a count and Lorcan waits. Cole rolls into the ring, only to roll right back out.

Lorcan pursues him this time, and sees Cole’s ambush coming. Lorcan shoulders into Cole’s bad ribs, then drags Cole over. He wants to suplex Cole out but Cole resists for good reason. Cole enziguris Lorcan down! Lorcan gets to a corner, and Cole stomps a mudhole into him. Cole backs off at the ref’s count of 3, but Lorcan is still swinging. Cole kicks him down then hammers away. Fans cheer and jeer while Cole snapmares Lorcan. Cole digs his knee into Lorcan’s back while putting on a chinlock. Fans rally and Lorcan feeds off that energy. Lorcan works his way up and out, hitting those bad ribs with body shots. Cole still gets Lorcan up in a fireman’s carry, and hits the ushigoroshi!

Cole doesn’t cover, his ribs bother him too much. He instead catches his breath in a corner while fans cheer hm on. Lorcan stirs and Cole comes back. Lorcan throws body shots, Cole hits back, but Lorcan stands up to give European Uppercuts and chops. He whips Cole to the ropes and catches those bad ribs with a kitchen sink knee. Cole collapses but Lorcan fires up. Lorcan runs for a big EuroUpper, then the running Blockbuster!

Cover, TWO! But Lorcan fires up more while Cole gasps for air. Fans duel while Cole gets to ropes. Lorcan comes up behind and puts him in the waistlock, but Cole holds the ropes. Cole standind switches and shoves Lorcan, but Lorcan comes back with a EuroUpper on the rebound! He keeps going, but Cole is ready with the bicycle boot. Cole then goes to suplex Lorcan, but Lorcan suplexes him first, and hangs him up on the ropes. Cole tumbles to the floor, and fans rally for him. Lorcan climbs up and takes aim, but Kyle returns, a medic in tow!

Strong is also there, and Kyle throws up the X. With the referee focused on Cole and Kyle, Strong drags Lorcan out of the ring, for an apron back suplex!

He puts Lorcan in the ring, then “checks” on Cole, who is now “okay.” Cole sees Lorcan is vulnerable, Last Shot shining wizard!

Cover, Cole wins!

Winner: Cole, by pinfall; still North American Champion

So much for not needing the Undisputed Era’s help in retaining. Cole clutches his title, while Strong and Kyle stomp Lorcan out! The referee rings the bell more and more, but that doesn’t stop them from beating down poor Lorcan. But Danny Burch comes out to rescue his tag team partner!

Burch throws hands on Strong and O’Reilly, and even headbutts. But one SUPERKICK from Cole stops that! He then has Strong and O’Reilly finish off Lorcan and Burch, Strong gives Lorcan the knee strike while Kyle gives Burch the Ax ‘n’ Smash! Fans are a mix of cheers and jeers, but the Undisputed Era only care about having the titles. Will anyone be able to stop them from taking over all of NXT?

 

 


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Mitchell’s WWE 205 Live Report! (4/24/18)

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Tonight, one man will earn the opportunity at Cedric Alexander’s Cruiserweight Championship in Saudi Arabia! But only by getting through a Gauntlet Match! Will it be a former champion like Kalisto or TJP, or a first-time hopeful like Drew Gulak, Tony Nese or Mustafa Ali that stands tall at the end?

 

All images courtesy of the WWE Network streaming service

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • WWE Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contenders Gaunlet Match: Kalisto wins and will face Cedric Alexander for the Cruiserweight Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble.

PLAY BY PLAY

Drake Maverick outlines tonight’s Gauntlet Match.

Only five of the best superstars on the 205 Live roster will compete in “the most grueling” match for a chance at the Cruiserweight Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Drew Gulak vows to continue his quest for a #Better205Live. He will defeat any and all opponents and make them tap out. Tony Nese knows Gauntlets require stamina, which is perfect for the Premier Athlete. Kalisto says he’ll take that first step towards being a two-time champion! Inaugural champion TJP says he could “get up of the couch” and make the best tap out. No one will stop “The Best of All Time” from bringing the title back to where it all began. Mustafa Ali knows he was close to being Cruiserweight Champion at Wrestlemania. No matter the hand he’s dealt, he won’t fold. One of these five will survive the Gauntlet, who will meet Cedric Alexander in Saudi Arabia?

 

WWE Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contenders Gaunlet Match!

Buddy Murphy would have been #1 Contender already if not for both his sneak attack on the champion, and not making weight to be part of the Cruiserweight Division. However, his loss will be someone else’s gain. This Gauntlet is going to go all night, and by the end, we will have a challenger for Cedric Alexander! First up are…

Mustafa Ali! The Beacon of Light draws Number One but that doesn’t bother him. Ali will go for as long as it takes to earn another Cruiserweight Championship match.

His opponent will be… TJP! The “Cruiser-Great” and inaugural (New Era) Cruiserweight Champion is Number Two, is it already game over for Ali?

TJP already trash talks Ali as he makes his way into the ring. He clearly feels he should’ve just been made the #1 contender, but he doesn’t mind showing why he deserves that right. The bell rings and we begin.

Mustafa Ali VS TJP!

The two circle, then tie up. TJP puts Ali on the ropes but he honors the break with a dab. Ali doesn’t like the swagger, so he wrenches TJP’s arm. He wrenches and brings TJP down but TJP stands back up, to then roll and reverse to a drop toehold. TJP puts Ali in a facelock and loops an arm for the float over, TWO. Ali arm-drags TJP down to an armlock. TJP spins again to whip, but Ali wrenches TJP’s arm again. Ali puts TJP back in the armlock, but TJP pulls hair. He puts Ali in a corner then whips corner to corner, but Ali goes up and over. Ali handsprings back but only to run into TJP’s shoulder.

TJP runs and things speed up, TJP catches Ali into a dragon’s lair pin! ONE into Ali’s crucifix, ONE to TJP’s standard cover, ONE again. Ali sweeps TJP’s legs for another cover, ONE and TJP returns the favor. ONE as Ali bridges out and runs. He cartwheels over TJP, TJP sunset flips but Ali rolls through. TJP guards when Ali shows a punch, so Ali rolls behind him. TJP doesn’t know where Ali went, until Ali dropkicks him in the back! Fans applaud and Ali dabs to mock TJP. TJP gets mad and kicks, but Ali blocks to give a kick of his own! TJP falls out of the ring but hurries back in, only to run into Ali’s flapjack dropkick. This sends TJP back out, and he decides to stay out when he sees Ali ready to strike.

Fans boo and jeer while TJP catches his breath. The referee counts and Ali waits for TJP. Ali stops waiting and slips out to go after TJP. TJP slips back in but Ali grabs his foot. TJP uses that to hotshot Ali into the ropes! Then he wraps Ali up in a rope-assisted Octopus Stretch!

Ali shouts in pain while the referee counts. TJP lets go at 3, but then he hits Ali with a wrecking ball dropkick! Ali falls to the floor, but TJP drags him back up into the ring. Cover, TWO, but TJP keeps his cool. He brings Ali up while Dasha Fuentes interviews Cedric Alexander backstage.

She knows the Cruiserweight Champion is paying close attention to this Gauntlet match, because he’ll be defending his title against the winner this Friday. But is Buddy Murphy and that ambush of his still on Alexander’s mind? Alexander says Murphy made a statement with that attack, but he also made “the biggest mistake” when he couldn’t make weight. When Murphy does return, Alexander promises to make a statement of his own. But of course, Murphy’s loss makes for “a hell of an opportunity” for the five men in the Gauntlet. If the winner of this match brings their A Game at Greatest Royal Rumble, then Alexander has his work cut out for him. But this is the #AgeofAlexander, he’ll be ready.

While the interview happens, TJP puts Ali in a corner and grinds a boot into Ali’s throat. TJP backs off at the ref’s count, but toys with Ali. He snapmares Ali and hits the slingshot senton, then covers. ONE, but TJP keeps on Ali with a half-surfboard stretch. Ali endures while fans build to a rally. Ali stands up and works to turn TJP, but TJP turns Ali back to bring him to his knees. TJP shifts from surfboard to straitjacket, and bends Ali all the way back against his knees. Ali endures while fans rally again, and rolls over to make it a double wristlock cover. TWO, and TJP yanks Ali into the ropes! Ali snaps back into TJP’s Russian leg sweep and prawn hold cover. TWO, but TJP turns that into a Koji clutch!

Ali endures again while fans rally. He rolls TJP as best he can, but TJP breaks the hold. Ali hits back, giving TJP both an overhand and backhand chop. TJP hits back with a spinning back kick, then whips Ali into a corner. Ali goes up and over then runs, throwing TJP with a headscissors. Ali rallies on TJP, whips but TJP reverses to send him into a corner. TJP runs in but Ali slips out to the apron, and he hits back with a roundhouse. TJP staggers while fans fire up. Ali slingshots in, somersault facebuster! Cover, TWO!

Ali keeps his cool, and stands up over TJP. He brings TJP up for a suplex but TJP slips out. TJP shoves Ali to a corner and Ali bounces off buckles. Ali staggers back into TJP’s double chickenwing, but Ali reverses the Dodon Buster into a victory roll! TWO, and TJP gets to a corner. TJP goes up and over but Ali side steps, only to run into TJP’s back elbow. TJP hops up but Ali rocks him with a palm strike. Ali climbs up to join TJP, but TJP pushes him away! Ali lands on his feet, but TJP’s missile dropkick goes after the knee, flipping Ali onto his back. TJP grabs Ali for the Kneebar!

TJP gets the grapevine! Ali endures while fans rally. He reaches for the ropes as he shouts in pain. He drags himself and TJP over and gets the ropebreak. Fans cheer the heart of the Heart of 205 Live, but TJP holds on until 4 in the count. TJP grabs Ali’s leg but Ali holds onto the ropes, even as Ali stands back up. TJP yanks Ali off the ropes but Ali fights back with haymakers, so TJP carries Ali into a corner! Ali clubs TJP to get him off his leg, and TJP staggers away. TJP runs in and blocks Ali’s boot to go back after the bad leg, but Ali shoves him away with the good leg. Ali hops up and launches himself for a flying tornado DDT! Fans applaud while Ali crawls over. He positions TJP then climbs up top, for the 0-5-4!

It hits, Ali covers, he eliminates TJP!

Elimination: TJP

The “Cruiser-Great” is done for the night, but this was just the beginning for the Beacon of Light. Ali has only minutes to rest before his next opponent comes out. Number Three into the Gauntlet is… A familiar foe, in Drew Gulak!

Mustafa Ali VS Drew Gulak!

Ali knows all too well how Gulak loves to torture an opponent’s joints and his knee is an easy target. Will the self-proclaimed BEST submission specialist in all of the WWE grind Ali into dust?

Gulak taunts Ali as he hobbles around, cornering Ali as he goes for the leg. Ali dodges and rolls Gulak up, TWO, but Ali keeps on Gulak with clubbing forearms. Gulak powers Ali up and throws him legs first at the ropes! Ali rolls out of the ring, clutching his bad leg. Gulak won’t give him time to recover as he goes out to fetch him, but he still walks into Ali’s drop toehold! Gulak hits the ground and both men are down as the referee counts. Ali manages to stand up and put Gulak back in the ring. He climbs up but Gulak goes to intercept, onto to get punched away. Ali leaps for the crossbody! But Gulak rolls through to a Half Crab! He works to turn Ali but Ali pushes him away.

Gulak runs back but into a small package, TWO, and Gulak clobbers Ali with a clothesline! Cover, TWO, but Gulak grins as he looms over the exhausted Ali. Gulak drags Ali around by that bad leg, and stomps it every so often. Ali writhes in pain, but Gulak keeps going as he puts Ali’s leg on the rope and stands on it. Gulak’s weight bends that knee a bad way, and even tortures the ankle. We go picture in picture for a Greatest Royal Rumble plug while Gulak drags Ali up for a chop. Ali falls back, Gulak sits him up and pulls on that bad leg. Gulak grinds a forearm into Ali’s face while stretching that leg all the way back.

Ali endures, and reaches up to claw at Gulak’s face. Ali pops out of the hold and fights back with body shots. Gulak chops back, then shoves Ali to flapjack him on the rebound. Ali’s leg takes part of the hit, Gulak covers, TWO. Gulak stays on that leg with the knee wrench. He shouts for Ali to give up, then drops an elbow before he grapevines the knee wrench. Gulak digs his elbow into Ali’s knee while he again shouts for Ali to give up. Ali endures the pain while keeping this from becoming a cover. The fans rally, and Ali fights back with haymakers. Gulak keeps on the knee but Ali clubs away, so Gulak shifts to stomping that leg. Gulak then dragon screws the leg, and Ali writhes again. Cover, TWO, but Gulak keeps his cool.

Gulak drags Ali up but Ali hits back with body shots and forearms. Ali gives more forearms, but Gulak scoops him. Ali slips out and shoves Gulak to ropes, but Gulak catches Ali’s huricanrana and turns it into a Half Crab! Gulak drags Ali away from the ropes, so Ali is stranded as he endures the pain. Ali manages to roll but Gulak rolls him back. Ali stands up and enziguris Gulak down! Fans rally while Ali gets to a corner. Ali drags himself up with the ropes, Gulak runs in, but Ali slips out and roundhouse kicks him away. Fans fire up and Ali rolls in, but Gulak counters the facebuster into a powerbomb! Matchbox cover, TWO, but Gulak puts the Half Crab back on. Ali endures the pain all over again as Gulak sits all the way down. Gulak tortures Ali by adding in an armlock!

This crab is part Bow ‘n’ Arrow, but Ali does not give up. Fans rally and Ali fights for the ropes. He reaches, and gets the break! Gulak lets go while the fans applaud, he’s growing frustrated. But Gulak keeps on Ali, dragging him up again to bounce him off buckles. Gulak asks Ali if he’s “had enough”, but when Ali doesn’t answer, he bounces Ali off more buckles. Gulak knows Ali likes flying, so he puts Ali on the top rope. He uses the top rope to wrench that bad knee, but Ali ear-claps Gulak back! Ali adjusts while Gulak steadies himself. Ali bumps Gulak off buckles now, then drags him back up for a hangman’s half crab!

Gulak gets a taste of his own medicine, but lets go at the ref’s count of 4. Gulak tumbles out of the ring and to the floor. Ali adjusts, but Gulak is upon him already. Ali punches Gulak back down to then FLY!

Down goes Gulak! Fans chant for Ali while he clutches his leg. Ali drags Gulak up and into the ring, but Gulak is ready, he chop blocks the leg out! Ali collapses, and Gulak drags him back up for the dragon sleeper, but Ali slips around to roll Gulak! TWO, but Ali uses the momentum to hop up and jump back for another flying tornado DDT! Gulak flounders into a drop zone, and Ali hurries back up top. That bad leg slows him down, and then it gives out. Ali still tries, but Gulak springs up to shove Ali off! Ali hits the steel steps on the way down!

The referee checks on Ali, but he is out. Gulak doesn’t care, he drags Ali up and into the ring. He doesn’t go for a cover, either, but for the GuLOCK!

The referee has no choice, he has to call it. Gulak eliminates an unconscious Ali.

Elimination: Mustafa Ali

Fans boo and jeer but Gulak wants his hand raised in victory. He hasn’t won the Gauntlet yet, but he does have some revenge, because he eliminated the man who eliminated him in the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. However, Number Four in the Gauntlet is… TONY NESE!

Drew Gulak VS Tony Nese!

The Premier Athlete skips the self-indulging and storms his way right down to the ring. Gulak got his payback, can Nese get his?

Gulak rushes Nese the second he’s in the ring but Nese is ready! Nese takes Gulak down and hammers away with left hands! Gulak gets away but only for a moment as Nese drags him back in and stomps him out. Nese doesn’t let up, he drags Gulak up and puts him in a corner for body shots. Nese whips corner to corner and then back drops Gulak! The Premier Athlete fires up and stomps Gulak more. He drags Gulak up but Gulak hits back with body shots and chops of his own. Gulak swings but Nese handsprings to evade, then mule kicks Gulak. Nese hits a knee lift to roundhouse to leg sweep, but Gulak rolls out of the ring. That doesn’t stop Nese, Nese runs and FLIES!

Down goes Gulak again, and the fans fire up with Nese. Nese says Gulak wanted this, then he throws Gulak into barriers. He drags Gulak back up and throws him into more barriers. Nese resets the ring count, then fetches Gulak. He puts Gulak against the apron to give him a sharp chop. Nese gives Gulak more chops as he says Gulak started this when he turned on Nese months ago. Nese then takes aim, and throws Gulak over the announce table, right into Vic’s chair. Fans want “One More Time!” Nese resets the count first, then drags Gulak up to his feet. Nese backs up, and throws Gulak into the side of the announce desk now.

Fans still want more, but the referee insists they bring this back to the ring. Nese obeys, and puts Gulak in the ring. He drags Gulak up, daring him to keep fighting. Gulak hits back, so Nese runs him over! Nese stomps Gulak more, roaring with rage. He drags Gulak up, but Gulak throws Nese out to the apron. Nese wobbles, but he avoids Gulak to kick him back. Gulak falls down and Nese goes to a corner, and he springboards for the triangle moonsault! Gulak gets out of the ring but Nese lands on his feet, to then slide out and rock Gulak with a roaring left forearm! Fans fire up for Nese as he drags Gulak up and into the ring again.

Nese toys with Gulak a bit, then sits him up in the corner. While Nese says Gulak isn’t on Nese’s level, Gulak grabs Nese’s beard! Nese stomps a mudhole into Gulak in return, then runs for the Premier Kneese!

Nese drags Gulak out of the corner, but that’s not enough for Nese. He puts Gulak back in the corner, and brings down the knee pad. Nese says Gulak deserves this, then he runs, but Gulak evades! No second Premier Kneese, but there is a second GuLOCK!

Gulak has Nese trapped! Nese flails, then taps!

Elimination: Tony Nese

Gulak lets him go, and Nese shouts in frustration. Nese’s thirst for vengeance got the better of him, and now he’s out of the Gauntlet match! The fans rub it in by chanting “You Tapped Out!” as he makes his exit. But now we know who is the last man into the Gauntlet: KALISTO!

Drew Gulak VS Kalisto!

The Lucha Dragon is a former Cruiserweight Champion, and is in the best position to win. Will he keep his focus and bring the #LuchaHouseParty to Saudi Arabia?

Kalisto rushes the ring but Gulak slips out. Gulak rests against the announce desk, but Kalisto wants to get going. The fans chant “Lucha! Lucha!” with Kalisto while Gulak clears his head. Kalisto dares Gulak to get back in, and Gulak does, at his own pace. Kalisto rushes him again, and Gulak slips out of the ring again. Gulak walks around the ring while the referee keeps Kalisto in it. Gulak lets the ring count climb to 6 while he recovers. He returns at 7, but then slips back out the second Kalisto runs at him. Fans boo and jeer but Gulak doesn’t care. Gulak slides in but then back out, continuing to frustrate Kalisto.

Gulak returns this time, and now he rushes Kalisto, but Kalisto’s ready with a dropkick! Kalisto follows Gulak out this time to keep the fight going. He Listo kicks Gulak against the barriers! Fans echo “Lucha! Lucha!” while Kalisto stands Gulak up for another Listo kick. Kalisto reenters the ring then dropkicks Gulak back down, then builds speed to DIVE! But Gulak turns it into a slam!

Kalisto crashes and burns into barriers while Gulak gets away. Gulak rests against the LED apron while the referee checks on Kalisto. Kalisto is okay to continue, so a new ring count begins. Gulak leaves Kalisto to the mercy of the count while Dasha Fuentes interviews Tony Nese.

The Premier Athlete is clearly furious, how does he rebound from this? He has no words, and simply leaves, seething. Meanwhile, the count climbs, and Kalisto finally stirs. Kalisto beats the count at 9.5! Gulak keeps on him with elbows to the head, and he even rips the tail of Kalisto’s mask. Gulak stomps on Kalisto, showing neither respect nor mercy to the luchador. He rakes at the mask’s eyes, then puts Kalisto in the dragon sleeper. Kalisto slips out and gets to the ropes for safety. Gulak stalks Kalisto, then drags him up again. Gulak snap suplexes Kalisto, covers, TWO. But Gulak isn’t frustrated, he just grins and laughs it off. He stomps Kalisto and then clubs away with crossface forearms. He forces Kalisto down to a cover, ONE, so Gulak puts a chinlock on.

Kalisto endures, and fans rally with “Lucha! Lucha!” chants. Kalisto fights up and out with body shots, but Gulak knees low. Gulak walks into Kalisto’s boot, then Kalisto spins things around to headscissor throw Gulak down. Gulak gets to a corner then side steps, but Kalisto responds with a SUPERKICK! Kalisto hops up for a tornado DDT, but Gulak blocks that to hang Kalisto up on the ropes. Kalisto bounces off and down, and Gulak gets a third GuLOCK!

Kailsto flails and reaches with his legs, so Gulak drags him up. Gulak lifts Kalisto, but can’t get Kalisto up. He keeps trying, but Kalisto uses that to sling Gulak forward into buckles! Gulak is dazed, Kalisto stands up, and hits the Salida Del Sol!

Cover, Kalisto wins!!

Winner: Kalisto, by pinfall

The Lucha Dragon wins the Gauntlet! He will face Cedric Alexander at the Greatest Royal Rumble for the Cruiserweight Championship! And to join in on the celebration, it’s the rest of Lucha House Party, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik.

And speaking of the Cruiserweight Champion, Cedric Alexander is still here, and he makes his way out on stage.

The Soul of 205 Live applauds for Kalisto, but he signals that he won’t give the belt up so easily. Lucha House Party is confident their leader will bring the Cruiserweight Championship back from Saudi Arabia, will the #AgeOfAlexander end already?

 


 

My Thoughts:

An incredible night of action, and it was all in one match! The Cruiserweight Division has been on a hot streak ever since January and there’s no signs of slowing down. Just about everything in this was spot on, especially with the action. Ali and TJP starting was a great combination, and with Ali going over, it makes you think he might pull off the miracle of lasting the entire night. However, it feeds his title chase story to go down in the second round. Gulak really builds his aggressive Heel points with going for submission over pin. It also perfectly works towards story that Nese only fails because he wanted to punish Gulak over beat him.

For a moment, I thought Gulak would win it all, but eliminating three men would be too much too soon for him. But since Nese’s revenge is still unsatisfied, they can continue their rivalry instead. Kalisto wins as the last man so that it doesn’t really hurt Gulak’s rankings. The Greatest Royal Rumble is partially filler when it comes to the Cruiserweight Championship, so Kalisto is the choice for the best in-ring action without doing any real harm when Alexander retains. The real title program will be Alexander VS Murphy at Backlash, as Murphy could easily return as soon as next week.

My Score: 8.5/10


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Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Live Report! (4/24/18)

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Daniel Bryan and The Miz are finally on the same brand again! As such, the Hollywood A-Lister will have the Goat on the SmackDown premiere of Miz TV. Will these two be able to keep from fighting this close to the Greatest Royal Rumble? Plus, Charlotte and Carmella will sign the contract for their Backlash rematch!

 

All images courtesy of the WWE’s official Twitter

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Asuka & Becky Lynch VS The IIconics; The IIconics win.
  • Jimmy Uso w/ Jey VS Rowan w/ Harper; Jimmy Uso wins.
  • Jeff Hardy VS Shelton Benjamin; rescheduled as…
  • Randy Orton VS Shelton Benjamin; Benjamin wins.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev & Aiden English VS AJ Styles & The Good Brothers; Nakamura, Rusev & English win.

PLAY BY PLAY

WWE and SmackDown dedicate tonight to Bruno Sammartino.

 

It’s the SmackDown premiere of Miz TV!

The Hollywood A-Lister comes to the Blue Brand because of the Superstar Shake-Up and special request of former General Manager, Daniel Bryan. Miz also looks to take back the Intercontinental Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble this Friday in the Fatal 4 Way Ladder Match. But as for tonight in Louisville, he shushes them before demanding they welcome him back! Then he begins the Most Must-See WWE Talk Show properly and declares he makes SmackDown THE Show, but “there’s something missing.” That’s the title he held, that his guest gave up three years ago and Miz vows to win for a record ninth time when he defeats Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. That title is THE most coveted title in all of the WWE thanks to Miz!

But that’s Friday. Tonight is Tuesday, and this is the moment the world’s been waiting for. Tonight’s guest is a man who threatened to punch Miz in the face. Fans like the sound of that. Miz blames this man for getting Talking Smack cancelled, and then demanded Miz be brought to SmackDown just to get his hands on him. “And quite frankly, I’m surprised.” Miz welcomed his first child into the world, and locking eyes with her for the first time, he knew he had to be a better man. All of Miz’s anger and bitterness towards Daniel Bryan “melted away”. Odd that Bryan isn’t the same after his daughter was born.

But Bryan and Miz still have a lot in common, from being fathers to being television stars to being “masterful, in-ring technicians”. But a major difference: Miz has changed to be a better man. If Bryan still wants to punch him, then he can come on out and do it. Miz and Louisville both want Bryan to come out and do it, but Bryan doesn’t appear. Instead, Big Cass appears!

The Human Skyscraper walks out, dressed in a fresh new suit, and enters the ring. Miz asks what Cass is here for. There’s no guest, so Cass volunteered to be the guest. They take a seat, and Miz says he was going to interview Daniel Bryan. Cass says no one cares about Bryan. Cass got injured and worked 24-7 to get back asap. The day he does, so does Daniel Bryan. But all anyone cares about is “Daniel Bryan this, Daniel Bryan that.” No one cared about Cass! Cass lives in the shadow of an “ordinary little man”. Miz understands Cass is mad, but if he’s trying to help with Bryan, Miz doesn’t need it. Cass tells Miz that “not everything is about you”.

Miz takes offense to that. Does Cass know who he is? Miz is a Grand Slam Champion, first-ballot Hall of Famer, and has main-evented ‘Mania! Wrestling is a what-have-you-done-lately business, and all Cass has done is hobble around! Then maybe Cass should shut Miz’s mouth. Fans would like to see that. Miz says this isn’t about them, this is about Dnaiel Bryan. Damn right! That average Joe who should be laying tile or taking out trash, Bryan is out here spewing trash to the fans. Reach for the stars, achieve dreams, but too bad, because “you are all a bunch of Joe Schmoes.” Cass used to be small and pathetic and weak, “it sucks!” He was bullied and pushed around, until he got sick and tired of it. Cass grew and grew, to be 7 foot tall and someone who beat up those who got him.

Bryan reminds Cass of his weak former self, that’s why Cass hates him! But Cass didn’t need to go to indies, to Japan, to Europe, and you know why? Because Cass is tall, smart and handsome. That makes Cass valuable, a star, and makes him money! Yet, he’s in the shadow of Daniel Bryan? “Not for long.” Cass will make sure Bryan goes back to where he belongs: “on the shelf, beaten, battered, bruised, and retired.” Bryan will never cast a shadow over anyone again. Cass mocks “Yes! Yes!” then drops the mic. The big man had big words for the little Goat, will he be able to back it up should he and Bryan meet in the ring?

 

Speaking of Daniel Bryan…

He’s been attacked! The former GM and champion is down, in need of medics and trainers. Will he be okay to compete? And who attacked him? Though, it might not be that hard to guess…

 

Asuka & Becky Lynch VS The IIconics!

Peyton Royce & Billie Kay may have cost Charlotte Flair her SmackDown Women’s Championship, but the Queen is busy going after her throne. That leaves the Empress and the Lass Kicker to take care of the Iconic Duo for her. Will Peyton & Billie have a #TrulyIIconic in-ring debut? Or are they not ready for Asuka and Straight Fire?

Before the match, the IIconics praise themselves for their looks. The camera loves Billie. No it loves Peyton. It loves both of them! But Becky stuck her nose where it doesn’t belong. Peyton impersonates Becky now, “Where are my lucky charms?” Spot on again! But then she teams with the nosy Empress of Tomorrow. Tomorrow? Fact check: if Charlotte beat Asuka and took the Undefeated Streak, and then the IIconics ended the Queen’s title reign, that makes them better than Asuka!

Science and math, it just makes sense. Empress of Tomorrow is now the Empress of Yesterday. Peyton & Billie are the future, but the future is interrupted!

The match begins with picture in picture as Asuka starts against Billie. Asuka has the fans on her side as they circle and tie up. Asuka wrenches Billie’s arm but Billie stomps a foot to then reverse the wrench. However, Asuka uses the ropes to acrobatically reverse back. Billie pulls Asuka’s hair but Asuka snapmares. Billie gest away, but narrowly avoids the roundhouse! Asuka teases her, to then hip attack! Asuka taunts Peyton then yansk on Billie’s arm. She brings Billie over and tags in Becky, Becky climbs up for teh ax handle. Becky kicks Billie then knocks her down with a calf kick. Billie bails out while Becky and Asuka fire up. Becky goes to the apron and hits Billie with a forearm, but Peyton comes over to attack. Becky bounces her off the apron, and then Asuka adds a sliding knee!

Asuka high fives Becky before Becky puts Billie back in the ring. Billie drops an elbow but misses, Becky waistlocks. Billie bucks Becky off and runs her over, but Becky arm-drags her back. Becky has Billie in the armlock, and even gives her a noogey. Tag to Asuka and Asuka kicks away at the leg. Asuka mule kicks but Billie grabs shorts to then yank Asuka down by her hair! Billie tags Peyton and Peyton keeps on Asuka. She slaps Asuka but that only riles Asuka up. Asuka grins but Peyton is afraid, and she should be, as Asuka unleashes strikes. Peyton reverses the whip but Asuka hits with the hip attack! We return to single picture as Asuka tags Becky back in.

Becky grabs Peyton but Peyton throws her down by her hair. Cover but Becky slips uot for teh Oklahoma roll, TWO. Becky kicks Peyton and whips but Peyton reverses again. Becky dodges to knock Peyton down with a forearm. Fans fire up for Becky, Becky misses her forearm in the corner but still gets the jump kick. She throws Peyton with a Becksploder! Peyton tags Billie but Billie runs into the drop toehold. Becky drags Billie up but Billie throws Becky down with an arm wringer. Billie chokes Becky at the ropes, then Peyton gets a cheap shot! Cover, ONE, but BIllie tags in. The IIconics work together on Becky’s arm, using the ref’s count to their advantage. Tag back to Billie while fans rally for Becky. The IIconics isolate Becky and put her in an armlock, but fans rally for the former champion.

Becky reaches while enduring a new armlock. She gets up but Billie knees low to whip her back into the IIconic corner. Billie taunts Asuka, but Becky boots her away. Becky fights out of the corner, double clotheslines bring Becky and Billie down. Fans rally again, hot tags to Peyton and Asuka! Asuka rallies with hip attack to Billie then a dropkick Peyton! She keeps going, blocking Peyton’s kick into an ankle lock! Peyton hops to Billie, but Becky breaks them up, then Asuka throws Peyton with a German Suplex!

Asuka runs to hip attack Peyton again. Tag to Becky, Becky and Asuka double whip Peyton for double hip toss, sliding enziguri and leg drop! Billie returns but then runs away, so Becky brings Peyton up. Peyton shoves Becky into Asuka, but Becky fights back with forearms and uppercuts. Becky whips corner to corner but Peyton puts her on the apron. Becky fights both IIconics off, but Peyton still sends her into the post. Roll up AND ropes, the IIconcis win!

Winners: The IIconics (Peyton & Billie), Peyton pinning

An #IIconicUpset with this win! The best friends from down under bring down two great former champions, will there be something great in the future for “the future”?

 

Backstage interview with AJ Styles.

Renee Young sees he’s in a good mood. Well why wouldn’t he be? Three days from The Greatest Royal Rumble and a rematch with Shinsuke Nakamura. But for right now, he’s happy because Shane McMahon gave him the chance to soften Nakamura up. Though, the con artist has Rusev Day backing him up. Is it a handicap match? No, Styles is lucky to have back-up of his own. Who? Oh, it’ll be #TooSweet. A major main event has been made, and it shouldn’t be too hard to guess who the Phenomenal One will have on his side.

 

Zelina Vega & Andrade “Cien” Almas speak.

“This is the only brand we’re worried about.” El Idolo, a third generation superstar and a former NXT Champion, Almas has the talent while Vega has the schemes. And Vega vows he will show the world why he deserves the spotlight.

 

The Usos talk backstage.

They’re preparing for a return from last week, but Naomi comes in to talk with her husband. Before she says anything, Jimmy wants her to promise she won’t end up ringside like last week. She is not, and she will not apologize, either. She was genuinely concerned. But does she trust him? Yes, of course. She loves him, but she saw “nothing” in the eyes of Harper & Rowan.

This may be their life, but Naomi has a bad feeling, and wants him to trust her. He knows, but don’t worry, Jey has his back both tonight and Friday. Jimmy says he’ll take care of Rowan, and gives Naomi a kiss for good luck. Will luck be enough going up against the Bludgeon Brothers?

 

Jimmy Uso w/ Jey VS Rowan w/ Harper!

As Jimmy told Naomi, he and his brother will take on these Bludgeon Brothers for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships in Saudi Arabia. Tonight is about gaining momentum towards that match, but will Jimmy end up coming to a screeching halt running into the Red Lamb of Doom?

The bell rings and Rowan dropkicks Jimmy down! Rowan clubs him down, then headbutts him down. Rowan chokes Jimmy against the ropes, Harper gets a cheap shot in! Jimmy is thrown to the apron while Jey goes after Harper, but misses his flying attack. Harper boots Jey down, but Jimmy dumps Rowan out. Jimmy builds speed and DIVES, but Rowan catches him to then scoop him. Jimmy slips out to put Rowan into the post! Rowan staggers and Jimmy climbs up, flying crossbody! Cover, TWO! Jimmy mule kicks and climbs up again, but Rowan shoves him off! Jimmy hits barriers face first. Rowan rolls out and comes around the corner to run Jimmy over! Rowan roars while fans boo and jeer.

The ref counts, Rowan puts Jimmy in the ring at 4. Rowan himself returns and drags Jimmy up. Fans rally for the Usos, but Rowan scoops Jimmy again. Naomi comes out in full entrance! Her #GlowTime distracts Harper & Rowan, SUPERKICK from Jey to Harper! Jey puts Harper into steel steps, and Jimmy dropkicks Rowan! Jimmy rolls him up, Jimmy wins!

Winner: Jimmy Uso by pinfall

Now the Usos can thank Naomi for helping even the score! However, Naomi won’t be in Arabia for the Greatest Royal Rumble. Will the Usos be able to survive when they have only themselves against the Bludgeon Brothers?

 

Renee Young presides over the SmackDown Women’s Championship contract signing.

Backlash will be where the title is defended in a rematch from Carmella’s Ms. Money in the Bank cash-in. The champion is introduced, but she snatches the mic to delay Charlotte’s introduction. “That is so disrespectful.” Fans echo “WOO~!”, to which Carmella also takes offense. Carmella is being introduced first? “In what world is it acceptable” to bring out champion before challenger? This isn’t Charlotte’s kingdom, it’s Carmella’s. So before it gets boring out here, Carmella has something to address: “I’m your champion. You’re booing me because none of you will ever know what it’s like to be a champion”. Carmella gave us a #Mellabration, played a FABULOUS highlight reel, but no one gave her an ovation.

But since she’s the champ, she’s going to play that highlight reel again. And this time, she demands they show her the respect she deserves! That means they will stand up and cheer for her. Play it!!

The same highlight reel does play, recapping Carmella’s Ms. Money in the Bank victory she managed “all by herself”. When it ends, the only one standing up to applaud is Corey Graves. Everyone else boos and jeers. Carmella is not accepting that, so she’s going to play that highlight reel again. And this time, the WWE Universe better stand up and cheer! The highlight reel plays again, but Charlotte interrupts with her entrance.

The former champion sits down while the current champion runs the title in her face. Renee wants Carmella to be professional but that’s not happening. Now that they’re both present, they can sign the contract. Fans “WOO~!” while Carmella continues to taunt Charlotte from across the table.

Charlotte keeps her cool, takes the pen, and signs her name. Then she gives out a proper “WOO~!” Carmella stands up and sticks the belt in her face again, so Charlotte slams Carmella’s face on the table! Then kicks the table over on Carmella! Renee leaves the ring while Charlotte brushes herself off. The Queen dumps the Princess down, but can she take the throne back at Backlash?

 

Backstage interview with…

Well, it was supposed to be Shinsuke Nakamura, but Aiden English answers the knock on the door. The Drama King says they’re not doing interviews. The trio of Rusev Day and the Rockstar are hush-hush about their Six-Man Tag, will they be able to work together against The Club?

 

Jeff Hardy VS Shelton Benjamin!

The Charismatic Enigma defeated the Gold Standard last week, in Hardy’s return to SmackDown. However, one match is not enough for Benjamin, who is a former United States Champion himself. Will Benjamin tie things up this close to Hardy’s title defense against Jinder Mahal? Or will Hardy go 2-0 already?

But wait, in return for the surprise last week, The Viper arrives while Hardy makes his entrance. Randy Orton, who is still promised a United States Championship match in his own right, decides to return the favor in full by taking this match from Hardy, too.

Randy Orton VS Shelton Benjamin!

The bell rings and Orton circles with Benjamin. They tie up, Benjamin powers Orton to a corner, but honors the break. Hardy watches ringside now as Benjamin goes for Orton’s leg. Orton gets to a corner for the break, and Benjamin backs off. The two circle again, tie up, and Benjamin gets a headlock. Orton powers out but Benjamin shoulders him down. Benjamin runs but Orton jumps over. Orton kicks but Benjamin blocks, Benjamin kicks but Orton blocks, and Orton ducks the dragon whip kick. Benjamin denies the RKO just in time, and the two circle again. Benjamin knees low then throws haymakers and stomps. The referee backs him off, Orton kicks back and throws European Uppercuts. Orton rocks Benjamin but drags him through the ropes, but Benjamin hotshots Orton back!

Benjamin brings Orton through ropes now, for a kick after kick after kick. He tops it off with a knee strike while we go picture in picture. Orton slowly stirs, but Benjamin fetches him. Benjamin bounces Orton’s head off the table, then stares Hardy down before throwing haymakers. Benjamin resets the count but Orton climbs up, only to get rocked with another knee! Orton falls to the floor, and Benjamin lets him be at the count’s mercy. Orton slowly drags himself up again, beating the count at 8. Benjamin is right on him with stomps, then drags Orton up into a chinlock. Orton endures the squeeze, slowly working his way up to his feet.

We go single picture again as Benjamin keeps on the squeeze. Fans rally for Orton and he fights back with body shots and headbutts, but Benjamin gets the dragon whip kick! Cover, TWO, but Benjamin keeps on Orton with a new chinlock. Orton works his way up again, reaching for ropes. He stands up and back suplexes Benjamin down! Orton is free of the hold and catches his breath while Benjamin rolls to ropes. They both stand up, Orton begins to rally with clotheslines. He dodges Benjamin and hits the spinning powerslam! Benjamin rolls to ropes, Orton brings him out, and hits the draping DDT!

Orton hears the voices in his head while fans fire up. Benjamin slips out of the ring, and Orton comes out to fetch him, bouncing him off the table. Hardy sees where Orton is going with Benjamin and clears out, not wanting trouble. Orton back suplexes Benjamin on the table instead!

They return into the ring, and Hardy watches a bit closer now, but a masked man chop blocks Hardy’s bad leg! Orton sees that man running away, but that man ends up cornered by security. The masked man goes into the ring, and Orton pulls the mask off to reveal Sunil Singh! Orton knows what to do with him: RKO! But Benjamin creeps up on Orton, PAY DIRT! Cover, Benjamin wins!

Winner: Benjamin, by pinfall

The Gold Standard pins the #1 Contender, while the current champion is limping. Will Hardy be ready for Mahal in Arabia? Will Benjamin find himself in line for that title should it stay on SmackDown?

 

The New Day feasts backstage.

They celebrate the launch of The Book of Booty, and toast with a glass of Booty-O’s! But then The Bar interrupts… Cesaro & Sheamus ruin the New Day’s appetites. But don’t worry, The Bar will win the Raw Tag Team Championships and go back to Raw. The New Day celebrate that! Well because obviously, the SmackDown Tag Division doesn’t stack up. They don’t just set the bar– No! Go away! Stop! “WE ARE THE BAR!” And they take pancakes away!

 

AJ Styles reunites with the Good Brothers.

The Club is back together! And it’s #TooSweet!

 

SAnitY is coming.

They vow to bring chaos and pain. “Fighting it is useless.” Who will fall to the anarchy Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain bring to SmackDown?

 

Backstage interview with Daniel Bryan.

Any update on his injury? Just some precautions for his shoulder, but he’ll be good to go for the Greatest Royal Rumble. He’s come back from worse. What happened? He got blindsided by a cowardly 7 foot man. But Paige made it official, Bryan VS Cass at Backlash. Bryan’s going to take everything on head-on, and after winning the Greatest Royal Rumble itself, he’ll show Cass that “everyone is the same size when you’re on the mat and tapping out.”

 

Samoa Joe speaks.

“Nothing and no one is safe.” That goes for the Intercontinental Champion, Seth Rollins. Joe will use ladders to end “Seth Freakin’ Rollins”, The Miz, and Finn Balor. The title is already his, and then he’ll enjoy watching Brock Lesnar massacre Roman Reigns in a cage. And if by a miracle, Roman survives to become Universal Champion, Joe will take that title, too.

 

Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev & Aiden English VS AJ Styles & The Good Brothers!

A reunion that’s #TooSweet goes up against a tough team in the King of Strong Style, the Bulgarian Lion & The Artiste. Can the Phenomenal One lead The Club in a victory for their SmackDown return?

The bell rings and Styles starts with Nakamura as a preview of their rematch. But after circling with Styles, Nakamura tags out to English. Styles just rocks Nakamura anyway before throwing English in. He tags Gallows and Gallows fires body shots on English. Gallows tags in Anderson and he keeps up the mugging, then tag to Styles for the low forearm. Styles tags in Gallows and Gallows gives a big back elbow to English before tagging Anderson back in for the jump kick. Rusev runs in but into a mule kick, then the boot! The Club controls the ring already, #TooSweet while we go to break.

SmackDown returns and Rusev runs into Anderson’s uppercut. Anderson tags in Styles and Styles gives Rusev the Phenomenal Blitz! He hits English but Nakamura avoids it. Styles slingshots but Nakamura evades, Rusev hits the MACHKA Kick! Rusev tags English in and English stomps on Styles. The referee backs English off and Styles flounders, but English is on him again with knees and stomps. English puts Styles in a chinlock, but fans duel while we go picture in picture. Styles stands up but English throws him down for more stomps. English brings him up and tags in Nakamura, Nakamura gives a body shot to the ribs. Nakamura puts Styles in a corner for knees to ribs, then Good Vibrations. Nakamura then snapmares to a cover, TWO.

We return single picture as Nakamura goes after the legs. He sits Styles up and kicks him back down, then drags him over to tag in Rusev. Rusev kicks Styles in the ribs, then scoops Styles and slams him down. Rusev runs for the elbow drop, cover, TWO. Fans rally for The Club, Rusev tags in English to whip him in for the back elbow. English feeds Styles to Rusev’s kick, English covers, TWO. English keeps on Styles with a chinlock, and sings mockingly that “He’s not going anywhere~!” The fans still rally for The Club and Styles fights his way up and out. English clubs Styles back, but runs into a dropkick! Both men are down, crawlign for their corners, hot tag to Rusev but he runs into the PELE! Styles crawls and tags in Gallows!

Gallows rallies on Engilsh with big lariats, then fires up for a big corner splash. Roundhouse rocks English, then Gallows pumphandle slams him down. Headbutt drop on top, cover, but Rusev breaks that. Anderson comes in but is sent into the post! Gallows clothesliens Rusev out but English tags in Nakamura. YAKUZA Kick for English but Nakamura chop blocks and KINSHASA to Gallows!

Cover, Nakamura wins for his team!

Winners: Nakamura, Rusev & English; Nakamura pinning.

But Styles finally gets at Nakamura! They brawl, the Phenomenal Blitz is blocked by a LOW BLOW! Nakamura takes aim at Styles, but Anderson jumps into the KINSHASA for Styles! The Machine Gun bites the proverbial bullet, but Nakamura kicks Styles back down before adding insult to injury. Nakamura drags Anderson up while Styles watches, and Nakamura shouts “C’MON!” He backs up, takes aim, and hits Anderson with another KINSHASA!! Nakamura mocks Styles’ concern for his friend, and has sent a vicious message to the champion. The Rockstar wants that WWE Championship, and he will give anyone and everyone a #Knee2Face to get it. Can Styles get revenge on Nakamura at the Greatest Royal Rumble?

 


 

My Thoughts:

A pretty good SmackDown, but holy crap there were too many commercial breaks. Ignoring that, this was itself a good go-home for Greatest Royal Rumble. Opening with Miz TV and the surprise guest of Big Cass was pretty good, and Cass seems to have improved in his promo skills. Finding Bryan beat up already was no surprise, and this Bryan VS Cass feud is already gearing up to be good. The IIconics give another great promo, and they have a really good match with Becky & Asuka. Their win was a nice surprise, and at least it was dirty so that Becky & Asuka aren’t really weakened by it. Between the various teams on both shows, it feels like WWE is gearing up to bring us that Women’s Tag Team Division and Championships. It’d probably have to be co-branded, but that works since all PPV’s are being co-branded now.

I like Naomi further involving herself in the story between Usos and Bludgeon Brothers, it is logical given the real life relationship of her and Jimmy. However, we know she won’t be able to help in the tag title match in Arabia, mostly because it’s in Arabia. Bludgeon Brothers will likely retain, and then they can move on to The New Day, or a new addition to SmackDown like SAnitY or the Good Brothers. Carmella was brilliant as a Heel in the contract signing segment, and Charlotte’s response was perfect. Whether or not there was more to be had, this still worked out for both sides.

It was pretty clever for Orton to return the favor on Hardy and snipe his match, and that match was pretty good. I didn’t think Sunil Singh would show up to go after Hardy but it makes sense given Mahal’s MO. Like Gable on Raw, Benjamin gets a someone surprise win, so either one is set up for a US Title shot once we all know which show has it. I like Nakamura’s new take on his theme, and the backstory that he had it done because he was sick of fans singing along. The Six Man Tag was a great main event, The Club finally looks capable in the ring. Nakamura stands tall in strong Heel fashion, he might get that belt at GRR.

My Score: 8.5/10


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