We’re coming into the homestretch for Hell in a Cell! A shocking title change took place on RAW, the Shield found themselves dealing with a lot more than the new faction of Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre, Bobby Lashley found meditation not to his liking, Charlotte and Becky’s feud gets nasty, Naomi has a new ally, and Almas and Vega learn a painful lesson about keeping their noses out of other people’s feuds. So let’s check out what’s going on this week!
Shield Vs Everyone: Strowman and his new friends were very proud of themselves for what the did to the Shield, calling last week’s beatdown ‘justice’. Unfortunately, the Hounds didn’t agree with their definition of ‘Justice’. Unfortunately, Corbin insisted on being a stick in the mud and tried to keep the warring factions apart. When that failed, he had the Shield arrested.
After Strowman had beaten Balor in the main event, he and his new buddies were preparing to possibly put Balor on the shelf for a long when the police van showed back up. To no one’s surprise, the Shield came out, having made bail, but before the fun could finally start, the Shield was jumped by the entire heel locker room. The Shield fought valiantly, but the numbers caught up to them and all three were left laid out. Safe to say, if the Hounds had been out for blood this week, they’ll be out of more than that next week.
RAW Women’s Division: After three years, the Bella Twins were in action against the Riott Squad in an incredible match that reminds us all why the Bellas were so dominate for so long. There were a lot of rough spots, and plenty of blame to go around on both sides, but the ladies all did a great job with the Bellas pulling out the victory. Welcome back, Nikki and Brie!
On the Women’s Title front, Alexa Bliss attempted to gain some momentum by taking on Nattie Neidhart. Alexa showed that she’d learned some submission moves of her own, making Nattie tap out to an armbar. When Ronda went to check on her friend, Alexa attempted to get the jump on the Women’s champion, only to be reminded that Ronda Rousey didn’t got undefeated for years by being easy to get a jump on and sent the former champ scurrying away to the safety of her lackeys.
In the third women’s match of the evening, Dana Brooke of Titus Worldwide teamed up with Ember Moon against the Boss-Hug Connection. Dana was accompanied by Titus and Apollo, who were bickering with each other and trying to give her advice. Their efforts resulted in Dana being pinned by Sasha, much to her chagrin. When both men tried to apologize, Dana snapped, saying that she was done with both of them, before leaving. Looks like Titus Worldwide has an opening for number cruncher.
RAW Tag Team Championship: It was announced by WWE on Monday that the B-Team will defend their RAW tag team titles against the Revival on RAW. This came a week after the Revival’s spectacular victory over the B-Team last week. Unfortunately, the Revival’s well-earned match didn’t happen due to Ziggler and McIntyre attacking them and deciding that they wanted the tag titles, despite doing nothing to earn them. Despite a valiant effort, the B-Team’s luck ran out and Ziggler and McIntyre are the new RAW Tag Team Champions. In a post match interview, the B-Team was still in shock over their loss, but vowed to invoke their rematch clause.
Constable Corbin: Corbin decided to be a stick in the mud and tried to stop the Shield and Strowman, McIntyre, and Ziggler from fighting. His solution, have the Shield arrested, didn’t go over very well. Corbin was also called out by Finn Balor, which caused Corbin to book himself against Balor for the evening’s main event, eventually, that was changed to Strowman vs Balor.
Undertaker vs Triple H: In a perfect world, and my dreams, the appearance of Shawn Michaels on Monday Night RAW would’ve been to answer Seth Rollins’ Open Challenge. However, that was not to be. Mr. WrestleMania was here to promote the Undertaker/Triple H match at the Super Show Down Under, and to pimp his new shirt. To no one’s surprise, HBK picked his best friend, Triple H to win. Then, we got a real surprise when, for the first time in over a year, the Undertaker was on Monday Night RAW. The Demon of Death Valley reminded HBK that he’d taken both HBK and Triple H on and beaten them both, including taking HBK’s career.
Bobby Rood and Chad Gable vs The Ascension: In a truly random, yet awesome move, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable formed a tag team and face the Ascension, who were not impressed. The match was pretty good, Gable and Roode worked together quite seamlessly, pulling out a victory over the Ascension and celebrating in the ring.
Elias: Elias’ new gig seems to be opening for the Women’s Division. However, he’s at least got a fans in Alexa Bliss.
Authors of Pain vs Jobbers: Authors of Pain showed up this week with a new manager: Drake Maverick, General Manager of 205 Live, and they were facing a hapless pair of jobbers, who didn’t really stand a chance.
Bobby Lashley: Corbin’s abuse of power had implications for Lashley this week. After his dominate performance over the Ascension last week, Lashley was called in for a performance review and told that he had anger management problems. In order to ‘help’ him, he was ordered to a meditation session with Jinder Mahal. It was clear before anything happened that Lashley thought the whole thing was BS, but he was a good sport an played along, right up until he was attacked from behind by Kevin Owens. After a great deal of back and forth that also involved Mahal and Singh, Lashley was laid out with a pop up powerbomb. Have a feeling Owens is going to regret that.
WWE Championship: Everyone has a breaking point, and AJ Styles has reached his. Samoa Joe’s disturbing mind games continued this week. He continued to taunt Styles and his family, and this time, Styles SNAPPED. He attacked Joe and beat his opponent rather severely before referees and GM Paige were able to convince him to leave. Joe seems to have gotten under AJ’s skin, but has he poked the bear one time too many?
WWE United States Championship: Nakamura wasn’t in action this week, presumably still claiming that he doesn’t have to defend the title since he’s the ruler of Nakamerica.
SmackDown Women’s Division: Charlotte and Becky’s feud hit social media on Monday. The two exchanged some harsh tweets, Charlotte accepted Becky’s challenge, vowing to make her former friend tap out. Becky’s reply was to say that Charlotte was doing the smart thing by running her mouth while she could. On Tuesday, the former friends would have a video face to face confrontation. The war of words was brutal and nasty. Neither woman pulled any punches and it’s clear that each woman is convinced that she’s in the right and that the other is to blame for the end of their friendship.
Naomi, on the other hand, finally got some backup in her feud against the IIconics, and it’s not who you would expect. The Queen of Glow took on Peyton Royce again this week, and made sure to take steps to keep Billie Kay out of the match. Naomi’s foresight paid off with a victory over Peyton Royce, but didn’t help her when the enraged IIconics attacked her. Naomi was saved by the returning Asuka, who helped her fend off the IIconics and sent them running.
As for former Women’s Champion, Carmella, she finally had a confrontation with R-Truth. It turns out, Truth had a different motive for tracking her down, they’re going to be partners in this year’s Mixed Match Challenge, so in the spirit of partnership, Carmella accompanied him to the ring for his match with Miz.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship: This was week two of the Tag Team Tournament and this week it was the Usos vs Sanity vs Team Rusev with the winner facing the Bar to decide who faces New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. The match was fantastic and the ending was a genuine shock: Team Rusev pulls out the victory
Miz and Daniel Bryan: On Tuesday, Miz and Maryse did an empty arena promo, daring Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan to come punch them in the face. Not surprisingly, Brie and Daniel were less than impressed with this, stating that the whole thing proved what cowards Miz and Maryse were since they did the promo when they knew the Bryans were in the building. However, they quickly had more pressing issues than Miz and Maryse, namely, Andrade Almas wanting a rematch. This week’s match was every bit was great as last week, with Bryan pulling out an actual victory, while Brie got some payback on Zelina Vega. They then found themselves being mocked again by Miz and Maryse, who claimed to have rented out an Italian restaurant for a date night. Brie and Daniel suddenly get an urge for some Italian and leave…still in their ring gear.
No sooner had they left, than Miz and Maryse miraculously show up, ready to face Brie and Daniel, then claim that they left because they were afraid of the It Couple, rather than the other way around. Before they can leave, Paige informed them that Miz had a match, with whomever wanted a crack at him. Miz insulted Paige and stated that he wasn’t ready and that she needed to be a good GM instead of a bad one. Paige told them that they were free to leave, but that they would also be out of their jobs.
While sulking about that, Miz ran into an old friend, R-Truth, who was still hunting for Carmella. Truth mistook Maryse for Carmella, which led to Miz challenging Truth to a match.
Before their match, Miz would take another shot at Bryan and Brie, scolding Bryan for bringing his family into the feud and said that whatever happened would be Bryan’s fault.
The match was really good, Miz and Truth worked seamlessly together, and Miz took some pot shots at Carmella. Truth would get the victory after Bryan’s music distracted Miz enough for Truth to get the roll up victory. Not satisfied with watching the Miz get beat, Bryan runs to the ring and punches Miz in the face while Brie works on getting her hands on Maryse. Before any real damage can be done, Almas and Vega run in, still angry over the earlier match. Unfortunately for them, they get a painful lesson about minding your own business when Bryan and Brie lock them into Yes!Locks while the Mizanins look on. Miz rushed to the ring, but stopped so suddenly, he fell on his butt when Bryan stood up. Daniel and Brie were the ones left standing, Hell in a Cell could be a different story.
Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton: Last week, Jeff Hardy announced that he wanted to take his feud with Randy Orton into the terrifying confines of Hell in a Cell. Randy, along with the rest of us, had been stunned by this announcement. This week, Randy seems to have gotten over his shock, in fact, he seemed to relish what he can do to Hardy inside Hell in a Cell, promising that what he’s going to do will be ‘sickening’.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: For the last couple of weeks, Drew Gulak has been demanding a rematch against Cedric Alexander and has been denied by GM Drake Maverick. This week, Alexander seemed to have made it known to Maverick that he was going to call Gulak out again and Maverick wasn’t happy about it. However, given the circumstances and the respect he had for Alexander, he won’t stop him, unless things get out of hand.
Alexander went to the ring and cut a promo, stating that he’d been champion for five months and between Buddy Murphy and Drew Gulak, he’s had a lot to deal with. Turning his attention to Gulak, Alexander tells the Philly Fury that if he has any integrity, he’ll come out so that they can finish this. Not surprisingly, Gulak didn’t come out, what was surprising is who answered: TJP!
The inaugural Cruiserweight champion pointed that Alexander calling out Gulak is pointless because Gulak is an opportunist. TJP, on the other hand, is impatient and he wants his title back. He claims that the front plate was made for him and that his next trading card will be a picture of him making Alexander tap out. So, on that note, we’ve got a match!
Alexander vs TJP was AMAZING! I have no really good words to describe it besides amazing. This match could easily be on a big PPV card. Alexander would pull out the win, but he and TJP made each other look like big money players. As TJP sort of predicted, Gulak waited until after the match to come out. He’s dressed for wrestling and announces that, big shock, he’s ready to accept Alexander’s challenge. Of course, Gulak being Gulak, he let Jack Gallagher do the dirty work on Alexander before slapping on the Gu-Lock.
Mustafa Ali: It turns out that Mustafa Ali hasn’t been cleared to return just yet, his appearance last week was because he was done with Hideo Itami’s reign of terror. Maverick repeated that Ali would not be competing again until Maverick was convinced that he was healthy enough to do so. Ali’s ribbing about Maverick’s AoP gear probably didn’t make Maverick very happy either. Time will tell when the Heart of 205 will be back in action, but Itami has been put on notice.
Gran Metalik vs Tony Nese: The neverending feud between the Lucha House Party and the Party Crashers continued this week, but it seems that Buddy Murphy and Kalisto had the night off. This time, Gran Metalik and Tony Nese locked up one-on-one without their respective team members at ringside. This match was wonderful, crazy, and amazing. These two worked together VERY well and put on a show-stealer of a match. Gran Metalik would pull out the win, but the score is secondary to the great match.
Buddy Murphy: Murphy took over Tony Nese’s interview, due to Nese having to run out to the ring. He’s got a lot on his mind with getting a Cruiserweight Title shot at the Super Show in Melbourne, and he’s determined to not let Cedric Alexander slip through his fingers again.
Noam Dar vs Brian Kelly: After vanquishing his TJP demon, Noam Dar may have a new rival to deal with: Lio Rush! The Man of the Hour, sporting a new haircut, made an appearance during the Supernova’s match against Brian Kelly and sat in on commentary. Rush said that he’d been slightly impressed by Dar as a wrestler and wanted to see the Scottish Super Nova up close. He also figured that Dar was a fan of his, which is doubtful. Dar and Kelly had a great match up, but Dar pulled out the win, much to Rush’s approval. Time will tell what will develop between the Man of the Hour and the Super Nova, I’m already excited about the match up.
NXT Championship: Tommaso Ciampa again addressed the NXT Universe by video and answered the burning question: Why hasn’t he been at NXT, defending his NXT Championship? It’s not because he’s afraid of getting his ass kicked by Johnny Gargano, or being questioned about the Aleister Black situation, no, it’s because he’s got no #1 Contender to play with. He’s also doing this because he’s tired of people’s expectations. He’s not a voice or a leader, he’s a predator and it’s time people saw that and follow him for what he is.
NXT North American Championship: We got a look at what happened after last week’s epic Champions vs Champions match between the Undisputed Era and Ricochet and Pete Dunne. Ricochet and Dunne were not happy with each other and each blamed the other for their losing effort. Each man wants the other’s title. In an effort to keep the peace, Regal comes out and announces a huge Champion vs Champion match in two weeks! One man could walk out a double champion, but where does that leave former NA Champ, Adam Cole?
NXT Women’s Division: Women’s Champion, Kairi Sane was in action tonight for the first time since winning the NXT Women’s Championship from Shayna Baszler at TakeOver. She took on the very talented Trish Adora in one-on-one action. While Adora managed to get in some offense, there was no stopping the Pirate Princess who put away her opponent with the InSane Elbow. As Sane was celebrating, she was attacked by former champion, Baszler, who made a lot bad pirate puns while informing Sane that she was invoking her rematch clause. Sane fought back and sent the Queen of Spades scrambling away.
NXT Tag Team Division: Undisputed Era wasn’t in action tonight but they were certainly on the minds of the War Raiders, who warned the Tag Champs that they can only run so much before the Raiders catch up to them and take those tag belts.
The long-awaited (I guess) debut of the Forgotten Sons happened this week, too, they took on the Street Profits in a really great match that reminded us of why Blake was one half of an amazing tag team with 205’s Buddy Murphy. This was a really great back and forth match that could’ve been anyone’s game, until two masked men stole Ford’s lucky (??) Black Solo Cup. The bandits were revealed to be The Mighty, but the distraction had bigger implications, it gave FS the opening to turn the tide and take the victory. Given Blake’s history and the performance they put on tonight, it’s safe to say that War Machine isn’t the only ones Undisputed Era needs to worry about.
Aleister Black Mystery: Regal’s investigation into the attack on Aleister Black continued this week. In the hot seat was Heavy Machinery, and Lars Sullivan. Otis was super nervous and ended up confessing to breaking the toilet last week due coffee giving him a pretty nasty sounding case of the runs. Regal, who somehow managed to keep a straight face during all of this, assures Otis that they aren’t in trouble for the toilet. He simply wanted to thank them for the footage they’d given him and wanted to know if they’d seen anything else. The boys come back with one little detail: Ciampa was hiding in the bushes, but that’s it.
Regal’s interview with Lars Sullivan, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as amusing. Sullivan again denied doing anything to Black and stated that if he had, everyone would’ve known about it. EC3 certainly learned that one the hard way.
Speaking of the One Percenter, he’s still out after the ass kicking Sullivan gave him last week and not cleared to wrestle, but Raul Mendoza, who suffered his own, less understandable, beatdown is cleared and will try and get some revenge on Mendoza next week. God help him.
Kona Reeves vs Kassius Ohno: There’s not much to say about this match. Ohno managed to get two offensive moves in before lights out. Afterwards, Ohno got on the mic, bemoaning the fact that he went from being all the buzz to being an afterthought. Well, that’s going to change. He’s going to create his own buzz by buzzkilling everyone else until he gets where he wants to be.
Johnny Gargano vs Veleveteen Dream: As if Johnny Wrestling wasn’t having enough trouble with his confidence crisis, but Velveteen Dream seems determined to to rub his face in it. The Experience came to the ring wearing a ‘Johnny Failure’ t-shirt and a ‘Who am I’ armband.
Needless to say, this match was AMAZING! Dream’s gimmick sometimes overshadows his talent, but it was out in full display in this match. Gargano was amazing as always, and the story was interesting and a test to see how Gargano would do NOT feuding with Ciampa. As far as that goes, it was pretty successful. Gargano’s dark side reared its head a few times, especially when he tied Dream into the ropes and superkicked him. The normally pro-Gargano crowd was actually torn throughout the match and that move may have cost Gargano some support. Unfortunately, Gargano’s desire to not lose the respect of his fans costs him as a distraction by a fan causes him to run into a Death Valley Driver and gives Dream the victory.
Afterwards, Gargano sat in the ring and contemplated how far he’s fallen. Even though the crowd cheers for them and his big fan at ringside is crying, he leaves without a word. Johnny Wrestling’s search for himself continues.
Overall Comments: Whew! That was quite a week for WWE! The build for Hell in a Cell continues and the cards for Evolution and the Super Show continue to take shape. Even though every WWE show was pretty good this week, there were a few things I had an issue with.
- The total absence of the Shield. The fact that the top three guys on RAW were gone for almost the entire episode irritated me greatly
- HBK and Taker: Okay, I’m a big fan of both of these guys, but it seems odd to me that HBK and Taker were given such a long segment and the top three guys on RAW weren’t there. If the price for having legends on is literally keeping the Universal Champ and IC Champ off TV, I’d rather have the current talent, and I’m saying that as a fan of HBK and Taker.
- The Dana Brooke Thing: Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that Dana Brooke isn’t the best wrestler in the world, but her sudden departure from Titus Worldwide makes no sense and seems to sudden, much like the sudden coziness between her and Apollo. No, they aren’t Main Event Players, but at least give us a build for all of this.
- The Revival/B-Team Issue: The Shield fangirl in me is pretty excited about where this seems to be going, but let’s not overlook the fact that the Revival and the B-Team got a dirty deal in this. A really promising feud just got short-circuited and it wasn’t necessary. Their feud with Ambrose and Rollins didn’t need them to be Tag Team Champions going into Hell in a Cell. Hopefully, things will be put right down the road, but I’m not happy with how WWE did this.
(Yes, I’m aware that all my issues are with RAW this week).
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a really good week overall and the build for Hell in a Cell has been excellent, but there was some shoddy storytelling and that needs to be fixed.
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.