The Road To WrestleMania is about to reach its final destination. The Showcase of The Immortals is upon us, and with the biggest night of the year only days away, its time for me to pull on my prediction pants and try to decipher what is going to happen on this most spectacular of nights. We’ve got arguably the most impressive ‘Mania card of all time, with intriguing situations, dream matches, heavily invested storylines and multi man madness aplenty. So, have WWE run out of gas? Or is there still plenty of life under the hood?
The engines are revving. The drivers are ready. Let’s get this show on the road…
Andre The Giant Battle Royal
How We Got Here: As is the norm now, every superstar who the creative team have given up on gets shoved into a mini Royal Rumble to – A) Makes them feel important. B) Save creative doing their jobs properly, and C) Fill some time. Expect jobbers aplenty and some guys you forgot were even still on the books.
What Should Happen: As much as I don’t want to see him wasted on something meaningless like this, Samoa Joe should come back here. He should dominate the match, eliminating jobbers left right and centre in an effort to remind WWE why he is one of the best heels (and superstars in general) on the roster. What should also happen is these matches should start to mean more. Why not give the winner a future mid card title shot? Or put them into a number 1 contenders match?
What Will Happen: No-one will care from the start. Someone like Apollo Crews or Kassius Ohno will win. People will care even less.
Women’s Battle Royal
How We Got Here: WWE have continued to come good on their promise to back the Women’s revolution. This match is the latest in a long line of ‘first evers’ for the ladies… shame it was named after a woman who treated other women like garbage through sex trafficking eh? WWE made a quick fire change and remove The Fabulous Moolah’s name from the match, but you can fully expect the fans to still shit all over this one.
What Should Happen: Becky Lynch should win this one. Her treatment over the last year has been astounding, one of the best women on either roster continues to be buried. An iron woman performance and hard fought win should be followed by a shot at the belt on the blue brand, especially considering how weak the SDLive division has become.
What Will Happen: 20-30 women we give absolutely no shits about will slog through a botch fest. Fully expect someone undeserving such as Liv Morgan to win this. But it’s okay because she’s pretty… right?
Roman Reigns v Brock Lesnar
How We Got Here: It’s a classic love story. Deluded, out of touch billionaire falls in love with masculine, stereotypical, handsome, long haired, averagely talented man because family ties dictate. Think of it like an arranged marriage. Billionaire has his head turned by strong, intimidating, elusive man who shows up to whisk him off his feet roughly 10 times every year. Billionaire is torn between his two sweethearts. True love finds a way against all odds and the old lovesick fool chooses the best of a bad bunch to be his bae, and in the process bleeds them of all their money. The End.
What Should Happen: Loads of things should have happened. Seth Rollins should’ve been involved. Finn Balor should’ve been invested in more. The Miz should’ve been repaid for his amazing 2017. Samoa Joe should’ve been used better. Braun Strowman should’ve been a key factor. What should happen is the fans should be listened to and someone deserving should be champion. Simple.
What Will Happen: Roman Reigns. Because Roman Reigns. Then Roman Reigns will Roman Reigns all over WWE and Roman Reigns for the foreseeable future. Did I mention Roman Reigns? Sorry I must have forgotten. Roman Reigns. R O M A N R E I G N S. Glad we cleared that up. P.S … Roman Reigns.
The Miz v Finn Balor v Seth Rollins
How We Got Here: Potential match of the night, though ill be saying that a lot throughout these predictions. The Miz was rightfully named superstar of the year at the end of 2017, and he has continued that same form a good 4 months into 2018. Seth Rollins was unfortunate to find himself forced into a forgettable tag team with Jason Jordan following Dean Ambrose’s untimely injury and is now looking to make himself relevant again. Finn Balor needs the belt more than anyone involved, and arguably anyone on the entire roster. After a phenomenal start to his main roster career, injury setbacks and uninspiring rivalries have seen him fall out of favour despite still being wildly popular with the WWE Universe. Growing animosity between Seth and Finn, with Miz pulling the strings in the background, have made this match far more interesting than your standard triple threat. All 3 will bring the best out of eachother.
What Should Happen: As a huge Miz fan I find it hard to want anything other than him retaining. He has done wonders for the belt and fully deserves to become the longest reigning IC champ in history. At the same time though, it may be time to freshen things up a little and either of the other men involved would be fantastic advocates for the IC title.
What Will Happen: Seth will win. Not many guys in the entire company have been as impressive as The Architect this year, proven by his gauntlet match performance on RAW before Elimination Chamber and his subsequent showing at the PPV. A worthy winner. Here’s hoping we see Heel Rollins as a result of this too.
Randy Orton v Rusev v Bobby Roode v Jinder Mahal
How We Got Here: Match of the night contender number two! This match went up sharply in a lot of people’s estimations from the second Rusev was entered. There is nothing more beautiful in wrestling than seeing someone SO deserving of an opportunity finally earning it by getting themselves over naturally. Randy Orton didn’t need the title in the first place, he has been irrelevant for the last 12 months despite being WWE Champion for part of it and needs to drop the belt to better, younger and more talented guys. Bobby Roode has flattered to deceive on the main roster after an outstanding NXT career and title run. We desperately need to see him turn heel again, and this could be balanced out beautifully be Rusev’s sudden face turn. Jinder Mahal is… well he’s in the match I guess. The less said about that the better.
What Should Happen: There really is only one option. Rusev should turn WrestleMania into RusevMania and become the new U.S Champion. The fans love him, he deserves it after being shat all over for nearly two years and the merchandise sales alone would make this a financial goldmine for WWE.
What Will Happen: My heart says WWE will see sense and let it be Rusev’s time. My head says WWE are complete morons and will keep the belt on Orton. Because he’s one of Vince’s golden boys, and we all know Vince loves nothing more than to be showered in gold by muscly men… *ahem*
AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura
How We Got Here: Match of the night contender number three and potentially the match of the year. The hype surrounding this one has been abnormally huge ever since Money In The Bank, and these two will no doubt pull off an absolute classic… if WWE allow them to. Unfortunately, the build up to the match has been piss poor, with very little in the way of promo to build actual interest. Roman Reigns v Brock Lesnar is the last thing any of us want to see, but I’ll take my hat off to WWE because they’ve actually managed to make it interesting to a degree. It’s almost as though WWE don’t trust AJ and Nakamura to come through despite being two of the very best in the entire world. Nakamura has been frankly horrendous to watch on the main roster, and my chief concern is that this match is only being hyped up because of the two men putting on a clinic when they met back in Japan. What people need to wake up and realise is that this is not Japan. This is WWE. The place where great wrestling comes to die.
What Should Happen: Styles should keep the belt. He is simply the best in the world right now and has been for many years. He has elevated the title, had fantastic rivalries and is fan favourite on an almost Daniel Bryan level. Speaking of the bearded one, he should be the one to face Styles after retaining the belt at Mania.
What Will Happen: Nakamura will win. WWE simply have to make it up to him after such poor treatment. Don’t agree with me that he has been treated poorly? Why? Because he won the Royal Rumble? Okay sure… but he also lost repeatedly to Jinder Mahal and has played second fiddle on SDLive to a storyline involving Shane McMahon. That’s not great treatment…
Charlotte v Asuka
How We Got Here: I have tried. LORD KNOWS I have tried. But for the life of me I just can not care about Asuka in the slightest. Okay, she was great in Japan. Big whoop. Okay, she was great in NXT. Well done to her. Main roster Asuka is a whole other story. Uninspiring feuds, plenty of botches for someone so ‘amazing’ and still absolute garbage promo skills have left her being nothing more than a flashy entrance. She predictably won the Rumble and chose Charlotte as her ‘Mania opponent. I live and breathe Alexa Bliss, but I’m glad Asuka chose Charlotte. The two should bring the best out of eachother and, god willing, I’’ be made to eat my words. The interesting part will come post ‘Mania where, if Asuka dethrones Charlotte, she will have absolutely nothing to do on SDLive. The rest of the blue brand’s women are absolute garbage and, barring an Ember Moon call up, Charlotte is the only one to pose a legitimate threat.
What Should Happen: Charlotte should retain, ending Asuka’s unbeaten streak. The Queen is the best female wrestler of the last decade and has suffered on SDLive due to the lack of competition. Move Sasha Banks over during the next Superstar Shake-up and make this a three way tussle. Add Moon for even more fun.
What Will Happen: Asuka will win. We will be told for the next 17 years how much history she has made. WWE will try and convince us to care going forward despite no contingency plan.
Alexa Bliss v Nia Jax
How We Got Here: Great storytelling that’s how. The cracks in the friendship started to show months ago and WWE kept teasing us with the potential split. It worked. It was interesting. We actually have Enzo Amore to thank for this. If he could have kept it in his pants outside of WWE, Nia would’ve still been embroiled in an embarrassing and barely believable romantic storyline with him. Thanks Enzo! Outstanding character work on both sides centred around a controversial bullying storyline have worked wonders for this feud, with the eventual pay-off set to be a huge feel good moment.
What Should Happen: Nia wins, overcoming the big (tiny actually), bad bully. The whole crowd do a small fist pump and say YOU GO GIRL!
What Will Happen: Exactly that. WWE would look foolish to allow the bully to come out victorious when they run a real life anti bullying campaign. Then again. This is WWE…
Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle v Stephanie McMahon & HHH
How We Got Here: Ronda Rousey pointed at a big sign 4 times within 3 very uncomfortable minutes and overshadowed a historic night for the women of WWE. We all knew she was en route to WWE, and while this rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way WWE have actually handled the situation quite well since her initial appearance. An instant title shot would’ve pissed off a lot of people, superstars included, and drawn comparison to part timers like Brock Lesnar. Placing her into a match with 3 other competitors will help cover any flaws she might have in ring, and teaming up with fan favourite Kurt Angle will guarantee a positive reaction when she inevitably makes Stephanie tap out. Post ‘mania, she needs a manager desperately. The fans have take to her fairly well, even chanting her name this week on RAW, but her limited in ring and promo skills will soon start to grate. Paul Heyman has already hinted to the fact he will manage a female superstar after Lesnar leaves (again), so placing these two together could do wonders for Rousey’s WWE career and certainly get the fans onside.
What Should Happen: Feel good factor. Employees topple tyrannical bosses. Rousey will make Stephanie tap out from an arm bar after a match heavily dominated by the two men.
What Will Happen: Exactly that. People will cheer and boo (Choo? Beer? Beer please!) and generally not know what to do. Rousey will go on to have a disappointing WWE career and appear sporadically despite the promise of a ‘full time schedule’.
Cedric Alexander v Mustafa Ali
How We Got Here: Enzo Amore did a very bad thing and single handedly managed to screw up all of the good work Neville had put in throughout 2017. WWE made the right call in having HHH take over proceedings, and with the addition of Drake Maverick as GM, 205 Live has been incredibly entertaining again. Cameo appearances from some of the best talent in the world gave the Cruiserweight Tournament real prestige, and showed that great wrestling will always get people watching more than a loudmouth piece of trash spouting bullshit on the mic every week will do.
What Should Happen: Well for starters the match should be on the main card. It won’t be though, it’ll be pre show. Neville v Austin Aries wasn’t deemed big enough last year so I highly doubt this one will be either. Cedric Alexander should be the winner here. It feels like they’ve been holding the belt aside for him ever since Enzo was fired, and the tournament was simply set up for him to be the eventual winner without simply being handed the belt.
What Will Happen: Exactly that. Alexander will win and the match will be incredible, but wont be seen by as many people as these two insanely talented young guys deserve.
Braun Strowman & ??? v The Bar
How We Got Here: Coming in just behind The Miz, Strowman was one of the superstars of the year in 2017. How he hasn’t held a belt yet is beyond me. After weeks of teasing, we still don’t know who will be joining the monster among men at ‘Mania, which is something I’m all for. WWE so rarely keep surprises anymore, and while the internet has been abuzz with rumours, we are no closer to finding out. The most obvious choices at this moment in time are Elias and Rey Mysterio, but for me it has to be a returning Samoa Joe. Even better yet we could see a reincarnated version of Bray Wyatt, for the first time since losing the Ultimate Deletion match to Matt Hardy, return to partner his former Wyatt Family cohort. They could win the belts, appear on RAW the next night claiming no one can take them out and then all of a sudden they’re ambushed by Authors of Pain. That right there is money. Book it WWE. Thank me later. A large part of me doesn’t want to see Strowman win the belts, regardless of him being alone or with a partner. The Bar have been the standout team on RAW in 2017, their odd couple partnership works perfectly and it would be awful to see them ripped apart so easily. It would undo all of their hard work and leave RAW with an even more irrelevant tag team division.
What Should Happen: The Bar should retain. RAW need them and they deserve the success they’ve worked so hard for. If they split up it’ll be devastating for both of their careers. The only way I would accept them dropping the belts would be if they then move over to SDLive for a fresh challenge.
What Will Happen: Braun Strowman and his mystery partner will win. They’ll embarrass The Bar because at the end of the day Strowman is every bit as over as anyone, if not everyone, on either roster. His momentum needs to continue. It’s a really tough one this as I love all the guys involved. None of the competitors deserve to have their momentum come to a grinding halt, but WWE have backed themselves into a corner once again.
The Uso’s v The New Day v Blugeon Brothers
How We Got Here: My pick for match of the night. Hands down. I’ve said that a few times but this… this one is almost nailed on. After a couple of months squashing no name local talents and main roster jobbers, Blugeon Brothers have come into their own as the most dominant team on either brand. The Uso’s and The New Day had by far the rivalry of 2017 with 5 star matches almost every week, and their outstanding chemistry together will help to balance out the more dominating and clunky style of Harper & Rowan. Expect this match to be full of spots, nasty bumps and innovation. It really is a testament to The Uso’s and New Day that after virtually two years of feuding, they can still keep their rivalry feeling fresh every time they compete.
What Should Happen: Blugeon Brothers should win and dominate the division for a few months until either SAnitY or AOP step up to challenge them.
What Will Happen: I think that’s exactly what will happen. The Uso’s don’t deserve to lose, but if they retain, what can they really do next? They can’t realistically retain in future matches against the dominating BB. They would be much better off getting drafted over to RAW to shake up their stale as all hell division.
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
How We Got Here: WWE finally swallowed their pride, admitted they were wrong and chose to listen to the dozens of doctors who Daniel Bryan had spoken to all over the world. They gave us what we wanted so badly. But more importantly they gave a man his life back. The in ring return of Bryan is hands down the most incredible, shocking and genuinely moving comeback of all time. My only issue here is that Shane McMahon is involved and will 1000000% take away the shine of this amazing moment. Fully expect some sort of turn, leading to a horrendous feud over the next few months in an attempt to recapture the ‘against all odds’ struggle vs authority. Owens & Zayn will undoubtedly bring out the best in Bryan and the battle will be great to watch, but it just begs the question of why he wasn’t given a bigger and better match for his big return. Either way, at the end of the day we should just be thankful that we get to see Bryan return to in ring action.. a true once in a lifetime moment we thought would never happen.
What Should Happen: Bryan should be allowed to wrestle as much as he possibly can in this match. There were no signs of ring rust as he battled back against the heels on the night of his return announcement, so if he feels capable he should be given the chance to go all out. He will obviously pick up the win here, likely pinning Owens in a result which will see the heels moving to RAW as part of the terms and conditions of the match.
What Will Happen: WWE will restrict how much involvement Bryan has in the match, giving him a couple of short runs and the moment of glory at the end. He deserves much more but this is WWE. They will never fully admit that they were in the wrong. Shane will do most of the wrestling here, maybe centred around a beatdown on bryan which keeps him out of the match for a short while.
John Cena v The Undertaker
How We Got Here: WWE ran out of things for Cena to do but needed to sell more tickets for ‘Mania, so the result was to give us a match they think we want to see, when in reality absolutely nobody does. Quite frankly if you want to see this match, you don’t deserve to watch WrestleMania or call yourself a wrestling fan. The Undertaker has given nearly 30 years of his life to WWE. He is arguably the greatest of all time. Why should this living legend be forced to slog through yet another painful, debilitating, embarrassing mismatch when he is waaaaay past his prime. The match isn’t even confirmed yet due to Taker’s refusal to accept the challenge, but if it does go ahead you can expect this to be the worst match of the night.
What Should Happen: It shouldn’t happen at all. But it’s going to because WWE don’t give a shit about their employees. Only lining their own pockets. Taker will appear on the night as Cena calls him out one last time. The match should be short, no longer than 15 minutes, with Taker looking dominant. In an ideal world I would have Cena call out Taker one last time and receive no response. Cena goes to leave the ring. Lights go out. ‘Dead Man Walking…’ is heard from the titantron… Taker returns as the American Badass. An all out war begins, spreading out across the arena with Taker dominating. It’s the only conceivable way to keep him looking strong while maintaining a decent length match.
What Will Happen: God knows. I literally have no idea. Neither man needs the win. It benefits nobody. Neither man suffers from a loss. I would hope that Taker wins and ACTUALLY finally retires. This gives Cena the chance to leave for a longer period of time than he usually does while he fulfils other commitments.
The Good, Bad and Ugly: WWE SmackDown (01/22/2019)
Bobby Fernandes delivers his Good, Bad, and Ugly review for WWE Smackdown on January 22, 2019–the last Smackdown before the Royal Rumble!
SmackDown before the Royal Rumble is here and now. The better of the WWE weekly television is up to bat, and ready to take us home. The actual card looks decent for the PPV especially on the SmackDown side of things. Raw did a Good job packing in a ton of relevant content and building up the excitement. Can SmackDown deliver yet again?
Opening Segment w/ The Man Becky Lynch
She is still on “fire” and the crowd cannot get enough of her. She looks fantastic, confident, and on top of her game. Lynch has done her job and took down the “Queen” and claims that she will do the same to the “Empress.” Even a badass like Lynch has an uphill battle against a foe like Asuka. Asuka is so impressive and this feud is just amazing. Charlotte Flair didn’t take a whole lot of time to get involved and was warmly “Woooed” by the crowd. Charlotte walks tall, talks the talk and is just overall unbelievable. Asuka and Lynch’s heat then boiled over at the joy of Charlotte. They got some Good shots in. This has been an enjoyable feud and it’s “finale” should deliver.
The Miz w/ Shane McMahon vs. Cesaro w/ Sheamus
So far the Miz/McMahon duo has had some subpar content, last week being the worst of it. Luckily this week, Miz and Cesaro can both do some great things in the ring, and could be Good for a decent match. Cesaro is freakishly Good and one of the most criminally underrated in the industry, even with the Tag Team Championship. Anyone watching has to love the chemistry that The Bar has weekly. They don’t always have the best matches but are a fantastic Tag Team overall. Miz was on point as well in this match. This was a Good set up for the Royal Rumble in which Cesaro gets the Win w/ a “Neutralizer” after a Sheamus interference. McMahon wasn’t having it and attacked The Bar only to be beaten the hell out of for his trouble. To add insult to injury, Shane O Mac was bombed onto the Miz, through a table. It looked fantastic, and hopefully this Tag Team Title Match Sunday will not disappoint.
Daniel Bryan/AJ Styles/Vince McMahon Promo
The fans are certainly “fickle” to the New Daniel Bryan. The crazy, nut-bag has done all he can to become a hated entity. Daniel Bryan has improved on the mic, and this heel gimmick is well suited. The less AJ talks the better. However he did well this time around, and just about when things were going overboard, the Chairman of the Board put a stop to it, and demanded Bryan get in the ring. Bryan went on to be disobedient and continue his banter, now attacking McMahon’s Generation. AJ Styles had enough and attacked Bryan until Bryan used McMahon as a shield taking out Styles and retreating. Overall, this wasn’t Bad and did its job hyping the WWE Championship Match Sunday at the Royal Rumble.
Samoa Joe vs. Mustafa Ali
Not that this is a new thing, but Samoa Joe has lost his mind. He is a savage in the ring now, and as stiff and brutal as his reputation is, he is exceeding expectations. Mustafa Ali is very impressive, his entrance, look, and of course in ring ability. Samoa Joe seems to have given himself the task of breaking in the young star. He is literally breaking him. Ali is getting viciously bounced around by the veteran. Samoa Joe controlled almost the entire match. Ali even looked shocked when hitting some solid offense. It was short lived, as Joe trapped Ali in the “Coquina Clutch” for the brutal victory.
(2 out of 3 Falls) Andrade vs Rey Mysterio
This rivalry is fantastic. It completely revived Rey Mysterio. Andrade can hang and with someone at the level of Mysterio it is Gold! No Zelina Vega is a little disappointing as she does her job very well, and is a great addition to any content. Highspots galore, the two showoffs did just that, they gave the fans their money’s worth, and put it all out there. Andrade is for sure a fan of Mysterio, probably watching all of his content as a before he was a huge success. His style is very similar, as most Lucha style is. Andrade lost his mind and hit a “sitdown powerbomb” off the top for the first fall. The timing, and landing was beautiful.
Andrade continued on hitting a few big moves but unable to get the finish. Mysterio hit the crazy “spike” type move out of nowhere and gets a counter pin fall. Andrade and Mysterio really do such unique things, always getting the correct pop at the right time. Masterfully showcasing the Lucha style, and impressing everyone during the Main Event. So much respect for the sport, and rare amounts of pride are shown in their work. Even a botched spot was forgiven by the hot crowd, because they just pressed on. Mysterio almost had Andrade beat, but Samoa Joe interferred and destroyed Mysterio and Andrade. Joe continued his vendetta to the Cruiserweights at the worst possible time. This was a Bad run in, on a Good Match. All aside the wrestling that was had between Mysterio and Andrade was quality. Then, just like that “RKO” out of nowhere. Randy Orton making his presence felt before he will appear in the Royal Rumble on Sunday.
THE BAD – N/A
Naomi vs. Mandy Rose w/ Sonya Deville
This whole feud is a bit ridiculous. If these two talents would have just been paired up to a match it would have been better. No one seems to care at all about the story here, and the content so far has been poorly executed. Naomi and Mandy Rose are very talented but it is being paraded around on this horrendous platform for seemingly no reason.
The Sonya Deville/Carmella Match that was foolishly skipped last week would have been much better, and it was a ugly shame it was left out. Naomi controlled most of the action, literally bitch slapping the blonde bombshell Mandy Rose. Mandy had very little offense in this tough to watch match. The action was poorly executed, and awkward. Mandy got the upper hand when it counts, with the help of Deville, hits Naomi off the post, and gets the quick pin. This was a horrible match, so much to hate about it, just disappointing.
- GOOD – 5
- BAD – 0
- UGLY – 1
SmackDown, unlike Raw this week, was a little light on the content. NXT almost had as much content last week and they are only an hour. That being said, it was a successful week for the “blue” brand. Royal Rumble has the makings of a Good show. WWE overall has been pretty Good lately and are very protective of their brand.
WWE took it home in a major way, now onto NXT’s version of the story to finish out before the big Takeover and Royal Rumble weekend. We could see some serious changes so close to Wrestlemania, and as usual, all we have to do is sit back and watch. Please like, comment and share! Catch you tomorrow night post NXT.
Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live Review & Notes (1/21 &1/22)
The Royal Rumble “Go Home” shows. Did they produce entertaining content, or limp towards the finish line since most will watch Rumble purely on name value. Let’s find out!
Now given that I enjoyed Raw so much last week, I’m tempering my expectations for this week. It’s been longer than I care to try and remember, that WWE has knocked it out of the park two weeks in a row.
With the low bar set, do we see a Fosbury Flop, or well…just a flop. Let’s see!
- Finn Balor vs Braun Strowman: Balor wins via DQ after Lesnar interferes – * 1/2
- Apollo Crews vs Bobby Lashley: Lashley wins via Spear – *
- Seth Rollins vs Drew McInture: Rollins wins via Cradle – ** 1/2
- Lucha House Party vs Jinder & The Singhs: Gran Metallik wins via Backbreaker – -* (yes it’s negative)
- Elias vs Baron Corbin: Corbin wins via End of Days – N/A
- The Ascension vs Heavy Machinery: Otis wins via Caterpillar – N/A (squash)
- Raw Tag Team Titles: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs The Revival: Gable retains via Rollup – ***
- Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Natalya & Ronda Rousey: Banks wins via Bank Statement on Natty – ***
- We kick off things with talking…well now, new changes right? Heyman does his played out thing by now, Vince comes out and tells his own variation of a Wikipedia edited David and Goliath story. Braun shows up to try and look menacing and speak words that don’t matter. Finn walks out after like 15 minutes of bickering, to point out that this is typical. He then tells a closer to correct David and Goliath story. Vince gets the bright idea that Brock should be at ringside for the real David and Goliath bout of Finn versus Braun.
- Now before this match started, we all knew how it was gonna end. Brock at ringside, Braun is a monster so he can’t lose clean and Finn is the challenger…so he can’t lose clean. So yeah, making matches that can’t logically have a winner is a waste of time, much like this match. The action was alright, the spot where Lesnar catches a falling Balor just to Overhead Suplex him to the floor was moronic since the referee saw it and didn’t throw out the match there. Finn fights back valiantly, then right after landing the Coup de Grace, Lesnar F5’s Balor and THAT’S a DQ apparently. Must’ve gotten NFL referees for this match.
- Lashley and Lio come out, and every bit of praise I gave them the last two weeks goes out the window here. Lio is worthless saying nothing of merit, and this somehow devolves into a pose off when Apollo Crews comes out to throw his hat in the ring. The pose off did showcase a little personality from Apollo, so that was a bright spot, but come on…this is dumb. Then Lashley attacks him and a match happens regardless of any previous words or stipulations to the pose off (yay wrestling).
- Lio apparently will now be a bigger player in the matches, which is fine. But when no one cares about either wrestler, we came off roughly 20 minutes of talking into a gimmicked finish, for another match without a clean finish. Short match with no story or reason to care.
- Rollins comes out, gives a speech we’re supposed to care about, but I really don’t. He brings Roman up AGAIN, and really seems to be going through the motions almost to a disingenuous point. McIntyre comes out to save the segment before it leads to a match, cause everyone in the Rumble needs to be showcased leading to it, yeah, that sounds right, sure.
- The match is standard fair for a Rollins match. Okay work rate, slightly predictable sequencing, but since the finish was a Cradle…that’s different. I don’t know, the match was fine, but McIntyre losing just signals that now he wins the Rumble or finds a way to at the very least, cost Rollins the win.
- The Revival discuss their position with Vince in the back, say they’d like an impartial special guest referee and Curt Hawkins walks up. Vince tells him he’s the special ref and Hawkins has the best line of the night with “Well, I have seen a lot of threes lately…”, and then the Revival start buttering him up before the match.
- Lucha House…Jinder and the Singhs…WHY!? This has no business being a thing beyond they are two groups of 3. Stupid, useless, worthless, I hate the Lucha House Party. Send them back to 205 Live, deport them, I don’t know…just stop. This is not good, they have no personality, and have been damaged from that dumb House Party rule gimmick from a few weeks back. Screw this team. And who wins with a Backbreaker not named Roderick Strong?!
- Dana Brooke is talking at EC3, I say talking at cause he doesn’t respond and she just hits him with a litany of questions as Elias walks to the ring.
- Elias tries to do his thing, Corbin interrupts, a forgettable match happens and Corbin wins cause he needs to look like he’s marginally competent going into Rumble.
- Alexa Bliss’ Moment of Bliss, is a train wreck again, multiple women just walk out, declare their piece for the Rumble, Alexa even makes note of all her shows have been awful and she’s sick of it. So she announces herself in the Rumble, the only highlight was Lacey Evans finally came out and said a few things for the first time. All you Nasties are gonna learn.
- The Ascension get to be fed to Heavy Machinery! Well I guess that proves they’re staying on Raw since Raw loves job matches. Only real note from this is Otis’ Worm, is not called the Caterpillar. You know, like the company that makes heavy machinery. The writers are true wordsmiths I tell you.
- This tag match was like a highlight real of heel wrestling 101 and a referee actually being attentive. Hawkins is by far the best referee of the night (and weekend probably too), so a decent match. Nice spots, these two teams have nice chemistry and we see a reuniting of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins at the end. So maybe that’s where The Revival go next. Only odd take away is why would you make The Revival sympathetic for the last few weeks and then ruin it completely in 2 weeks. The direction just makes no sense.
- Ronda with a passionate, yet clumsy and weird biblical promo with the hair washing feet thing. What since David and Goliath was referenced now we’re quoting the bible for promos? Ugh…no more talking Ronda please.
- Yes we all know Sasha had a wardrobe malfunction during this match. But let’s not have that take away from a decent match and the fact that Bayley and Sasha did technically give Ronda her first loss in WWE. So building up the challenger for two weeks right before the PPV seems like the obvious set up, but be honest, 99% of us have Ronda winning anyway. Sasha could’ve defeated the whole women’s division and we’d still go, “yeah but”. It was nice to see Bayley and Sasha continue to work decently as a team, but they did sow some seeds for Bayley versus Sasha since Sasha tended to move out of the way a lot and let Bayley eat moves.
Overall Score: 5/10
There really seemed to be no passion or imagination in this show except for Ronda’s odd promo. As Tony Acero so nicely put on Raw Reaction, I was just saying “okay”, through most of this show. It didn’t surprise, intrigue or go outside of the box at all. Just a basic color by numbers Raw. Mediocrity encapsulated in a show, if you will. SmackDown has to be better…
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Mandy Rose w/Sonya Deville vs Naomi: Rose wins via pinfall – **
- Miz w/Shane vs Cesaro w/Sheamus: Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ***
- Mustafa Ali vs Samoa Joe: Joe wins via Coquina Clutch – ** 1/2
- 2 out of 3 Falls: Rey Mysterio vs Andrade Almas: Rey wins via DQ 2-1 – *** 3/4
- So since it’s WWE we start off with talking, but this one is Becky and Asuka, and we like them. Becky does the old school heel thing of listing Asuka’s accolades but making sure to mention that Asuka didn’t BEAT her and she’s still just better than Asuka. Charlotte saunters out, let’s out a Woo and Asuka tries to get in a cheap shot on Becky, thus creating a brawl for a few minutes. Becky gets the upperhand throwing Asuka into the announce desk, before the brawl heads backstage.
- Naomi has every right to try and kill Mandy. She tried to cause problems in her marriage and Naomi had the upperhand in most of the match. A flurry of kicks and elbows from Naomi give us hope she’ll get her revenge, but Sonya’s interference becomes too much, giving Mandy the opening to show Naomi into the ring post and cover her for the pinfall.
- Miz and Shane might be my favorite thing on SmackDown story wise. I mean I love Andrade & Rey Mysterio angle, but the sheer fun and enjoyment Miz and Shane seem to be having is infectious.
- The match had a lot of good resiliency from Miz. The Miz has been looking like a better wrestling ever since the World Cup tournament. Miz tried to get an early win with the Figure Four Leglock, but Cesaro got out of it. Sheamus eventually takes out Shane so they can get in a cheap shot, which leads to a Gotch Neutralizer and a win for Cesaro. Post match beatdown sees Shane eat a Brogue Kick, as well as getting driven through Miz and effectively through the announce table. Feels like a heavy signal that Miz and Shane will win at Rumble, but who knows.
- Mustafa points out an interesting aspect of Joe beating him down last week. That being, Joe looks down on him, like he doesn’t belong there and he wants to prove himself.
- Vince basically moderates the discussion between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. Not much is really said except for AJ turning the FICKLE word against Bryan and it catching a little. Styles chases Daniel outside the ring, lays in a few shots, rolls him back in for the Phenomenal Forearm, Daniel uses Mr. McMahon as a shield to then lay out AJ with Knee Plus.
- Truth and Carmella are walking through the back discussing the Rumble. Truth toys with the idea of challenging Buddy Murphy for the Cruiserweight title, and when Carmella points out the weight limit, he takes it as her calling him fat and storms off a bit. Charlotte and Carmella have a few words, but nothing really noticeable here.
- Ali showed that he learned from last week and turns around some call back spots into flips and body presses. But Joe eventually proved to be too much and Ali taps out to the Coquina Clutch.
- New Day have a nice moment discussing Rumble plans, Kofi has a moment of doubt if he can’t come up with a cool spot, Kayla tries to ask the question everyone does about would they eliminate each other. After going through a list of people who asked, they say “Is Tony Chimmel gonna ask us too?”, and Chimmel shows up before they shoo him away asking if they look like Edge and to get going.
- YAY! 2 out of 3 falls match! Andrade and Rey all day! First fall comes after Andrade connects on an Avalanche Sitout Powerbomb. Rey hits a Code Red, doesn’t’ get him, but pulls out the Canadian Destroyer as a counter to what looks like a Powerbomb and evens it up at one a piece. Rey tried to get a quick win with the West Coast Pop, but Andrade kicks out. After Rey finally connects with a 619, Samoa Joe shows up to ruin the finish. In the middle of making his final decree, Randy Orton RKO’s Joe to a giant pop from the crowd.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well okay we’re back to the normal situation of SmackDown being the clearly superior show and Raw being mediocre at best. Andrade and Rey are just wonderful together, that match could’ve been something special if it were allowed to finish decisively. I look forward to a time when they get 20+ minutes on a PPV to just tear the roof down. SmackDown is such a treat coming off a Raw that left, not a sour taste in my mouth, but ashy disappointment.