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Levin’s SmackDown Live Review (10/9/18)

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Maybe the best thing about SmackDown Live is the fact there is no wasted motion. Everything balances. It’s the better product on television. The matches and storylines are more compelling. And most of all, I find myself gravitating toward the better product.

Tuesday night opened with a return match from Super Show-Down between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch that once again did not disappoint. It’s how the blue brand tells a story, using its entire roster and using programs that keep us from getting off our seat.

There is nothing better on television. A while ago in a “Ride Along” spot, Flair and her father Ric were talking about which was Flair’s best opponent. He didn’t hesitate in saying Ricky Steamboat. For some time, it was thought Sasha Banks was Charlotte’s version of Steamboat, but there is no comparison.

Charlotte and Becky tear down the house every time they get in the ring. I am reminded of feuds of the past, where each performer gave everything they had. This spot and the current story tells us everything we need to know about the women’s division.

There are Charlotte and Becky. And then, there is everyone else.

Starting Tuesday night off with this match proves why Tuesday nights are better than Mondays – by a longshot. It’s only right these two wrestled to a double count out.

Flair and Lynch face each other one more time in a Last Woman Standing Match at Evolution.

Here are other thoughts on another solid night of wrestling television…

Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy

This was a qualifying match for the Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia. Joe did not walk out of the Super Show-Down with the WWE Title. I’m curious how the company builds Joe back up to be the mega heel he became in the feud with A.J. Styles.

Hardy comes back from his vicious feud with Randy Orton.

This was the first time these two met each other in WWE. In the end, Hardy qualifies for Crown Jewel when Joe is unable to finish the match. Hardy joins John Cena and Kurt Angle in the tournament.

Randy Orton Vignette

I love how WWE from time to time takes a step back in time and works a solid vignette like the old days of the NWA. Orton is at his best 16 years into his career.

Miz TV… A.J. Styles confronts Daniel Bryan

Fresh off his win at Super Show-Down over The Miz where he earned the right to face A.J. Styles for the WWE Title, Daniel Bryan gets in the ring with both men.

Can I tell you how pissed I am at how The Miz lost on Saturday? Bryan and Styles is an instant classic, but how does WWE make up for The Miz not being part of the title picture once again? Obviously, money talks.

Oh, and I might have a man-crush on The Miz.

Styles has been WWE Champion for 336 days now, if you are counting at home. There are few who have been this good for this long. Having Bryan finally get another shot at the strap is a good thing for the challenger and WWE. It’s one of those dream matches that should live up to the hype.
Oh, and few can pull off a red suit like The Miz did last night.
Styles said this match will stay in the ring – unlike the feud with Samoa Joe. Bryan said he wants to be a worthy opponent, throwing shade at The Miz. Bryan said he still has a lot to prove. Deep down he knows he can beat Styles. The “two-minute” man joke is fantastic.

Then it got real. After a few contentious moments, The Miz lights up the screen. It was AWESOME. And after Crown Jewel. He’s got next.

Then Styles takes on Shelton Benjamin

Someone give Benjamin a main event shot.

Injuries have curtailed his work upon his return to WWE, but when he is on, he is as good as anyone on the blue roster. Styles wins but it was entertaining.

Happy Aiden Day… Not!

I think I am more shocked how Aiden English has become relevant. Welcome to “One Night in Milwaukee”.

And of course … there is more to the tape. English says he will destroy the tape if Rusev kicks Lana to the curb and reunites Rusev Day. And how awful an angle this is.

Let’s move on, please.

Randy Orton and Randy Orton

Remind me sometime to share my story of interviewing Big Show in Florence, SC. He is truly one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

The sadistic Orton and the motivated Big Show. He looks to be in the best shape of his life. The second qualifying match for the World Cup Tournament.

Admittedly, I thought this would be a snoozer, but it was better than I thought. The big man was aggressive  but was thwarted evert time he looked to be in control. RKO and it’s over.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (5/22/19)

Prince Pretty is back on NXT!

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WWE NXT Tyler Breeze Velveteen Dream

Tiffany’s Takes dives into this week’s edition of WWE NXT as the black and yellow continues their built to Takeover XXV!

As we head into TakeOver XXV, what is the state of WWE NXT this week?

NXT Championship: I love when a babyface drops some hard facts. I also love that I’m apparently better at math than Adam Cole. Gargano pointing out that Cole’s talking point about winning the first fall was nonsense was so fun. I do like that we’re getting Part II at Take Over XXV, but I was surprised that Gargano didn’t insist that UE be banned from ringside.

The tag team match between Gargano/Riddle vs UE was fabulous! It seems that all is back on track between Strong and Cole, at least for now, but it remains to be seen how it’ll be after TakeOver.

North American Championship: This segment was really interesting. Tyler Breeze never really got any traction on the Main Roster, so moving him back to NXT makes sense. I think the match between him and Dream will be an interesting one, but I don’t see Dream dropping the title.

Women’s Division: Candice LeRae seems to finally be back on track after months of being Gargano’s perpetually worried and vengeful wife. Her match with the Lone Star Loca, Reina Gonzalez was so good! WWE certainly seemed impressed with Gonazalez after the Mae Young Classic, so it was nice to see her get some screen time. Going by Baszler’s actions after the match, it appears that Ms. LeRae is on track for a title shot, thank God.

Remind me to never piss off Io Shirai.  The Genius of the Skies definitely seems to be tapping into her hardcore side because the sight of her wielding that Kendo stick AND using it scared the shit out of me. It’s pretty clear that the reckoning between Shirai and Shayna Baszler is going to happen at TakeOver.

Well, it is officially official, Mia Yim and Bianca Belair will meet again NEXT week and settle the score. I really want Yim to win this because her booking has been weird considering her talent.


Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
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NXT Tag Team Championship: Another announcement was made officially official – Viking Raiders are no longer NXT Tag Team Champions, but because the Street Profits didn’t get an ACTUAL pinfall, the titles are now vacant. I love that Regal has made it a ladder match between the only four tag teams in NXT right now: Forgotten Sons, Street Profits, Burch and Lorcan, and Undisputed Era. I have a feeling Forgotten Sons will win, but we’ll see.

Sean Maluta vs Mansoor: This was a good, if random match. Sean Maluta has been back to WWE several times since the Cruiserweight Classic, but he never seems to stick around for very long. Mansoor seems to be someone WWE is very high on considering he’s racked up several victories over the last few months. The match was okay, but since it was two jobbers going at it, it was hard to get into. I was more excited about Maluta than Mansoor.

Overall Thoughts: So, how was NXT US this week? It was really good. They’re really kicking the build to TakeOver XXV into high gear without making it seem really rushed, especially in situations where substitutes are being made (Dream vs Breeze).

Even though it LOOKS like all is well in Undisputed Era, the fact that all of them have matches next Saturday makes me wonder if that’s when the final breakdown will happen, especially with Strong taking on Riddle. I’m very excited by the change in Io Shirai, I think Baszler’s going to learn the hard way to never underestimate someone’s willingness to fight.

That’s it for Tiffany’s WWE NXT Takes. Be back on Monday for RAW!


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s WWE Raw and SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (5/20 + 5/21/2019)

Coming out of Money in the Bank, how do the WWE main roster shows stack up?

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Coming out of Money in the Bank, how do the WWE main roster shows stack up?

We’ve got a Beast in the Bank and a new title being debuted on Raw.

So generally speaking this could be interesting. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Let’s get to the shows!

 

Raw Ratings:

  • Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman: Strowman wins via Running Powerslam – N/A
  • Cesaro vs Ricochet: Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ** ½
  • The Usos vs The Revival: Revival wins via Dirty Roll-Up – *** ¼
  • Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs The IIconics & Lacey Evans: Becky wins via Guillotine Leg Drop – **
  • WWE 24/7 Championship Scramble: Titus O’Neil wins – * ½
  • WWE 24/7 Championship: Robert Roode vs Titus O’Neil (c): Roode wins via Roll-Up – N/A
  • Drew McIntyre vs The Miz: McIntyre wins via Claymore – ** ½
  • WWE 24/7 Championship: Robert Roode (c) vs R-Truth: Truth wins via Roll-Up – N/A
  • NoDQ  Tag Match: Seth Rollins & Kofi Kingston vs Bobby Lashley & Baron Corbin: Kingston wins via Trouble in Paradise – ** ¼

 

 

Analysis:

Brock and Heyman come out to kick things off. Brock seems to be loving the hate, using the briefcase like a boombox. Heyman doesn’t say anything interesting beyond the fact that he made it clear that Brock isn’t sure which belt he wants yet. But Brock seems to be tickled, and I was amused.

Foley takes a Uber to the arena! We all know he didn’t pay for that one, Foley is notoriously cheap.

Wait, so Sami and Braun are going to have a match? Even though Braun didn’t hang Sami up, and we can kinda figure it was Brock, or someone trying to help Brock. We need to see Sami get smashed? I mean, the crowd seemed to like it, even though Braun is bland and his involvement against Sami is just dumb. But it is what it is.

Wh-Why do we need to hear Lars Sullivan talk? So, generic cornball question from Charles is interrupted by…the god damn Lucha House Party. Okay well that’s a half point off of the score. Oh god, they’re giving them a modicum of offense too. Sheesh…no one cares about any of these four. Stupid Lucha morons.

Ricochet and Cesaro time! Oh okay, start with a commercial, hey the match starts to pick up, and then we go to that crappy picture in picture commercial break during what might’ve been a Sasuke Special from Ricochet. Well, talk about taking a match that could’ve been match of the night, and butchering it with poorly timed breaks.

So Styles and Corbin will clash eventually? Well…ugh.

So Shane is claiming he’s done with The Miz and moving onto Reigns. But now Shane has Drew Mcintyre in his arsenal as well as Elias. While I don’t mind this whole thing from a pro wrestling perspective, I’d really prefer McIntyre to stand on his own for a singles push soon. Playing the lackey really isn’t a great look, even though yes, it’s well positioned in the story.

This was a solid match between the two best tag teams in WWE. The fact that The Revival went over because of heel tactics is even better. So with the Usos’ being jerks and The Revival taking a few short cuts, we might get to see a few good matches out of this. I don’t need a whole year like New Day and The Usos basically had, but a few months of solid matches would be great.

Firefly Fun House introduces another verse to the theme song and a 90s style introduction clip, and then distorted into a creepy video with depressed kids and Let Him In, written on faces and shirts. Not the quality I’ve been expecting, but not awful.

Alexa comes out for Moment of Bliss with Nikki Cross in tow. Alexa is seemingly getting nasty with Nikki and she’s just acting like a loyal puppy who wants to make Alexa happy. Granted, I still see this as a bigger game, but that’s not the point Becky Lynch comes out for the interview and IIconics and Lacey Evans interrupt. A few decent lines were thrown around, Becky challenges all 3. Nikki immediately stepping up to fight with Becky was cute and perfectly simple with the “I’ll be your partner”. Also the way the heels try to dismiss it since they’re one short and Becky just shrugs at Alexa and says “She’ll do”. Plus the whole just stand there and look pretty, let the man do the work – that’s just a fantastic line, and Alexa plays along bringing her coffee. If Alexa really is hurt, this was a genius way to get them all over in a match. Alexa being disinterested sipping her coffee and just occasionally rooting on her team was perfect. This was such a perfect moment with a decent match attached.

Okay so the new title is effectively the PG Hardcore DDT Heavymetal Weight 24/7 and Free Tank of Gas championship! Foley has a scramble match and we see a few people we rarely see, including Eric Young doing his best Crash Holly impression. Titus World Slide wins the scramble, so he’s the inaugural champion, only to be rolled up at the top of the ramp by Robert Roode after like 65 seconds of being champion. Then the Scooby Doo chase begins!

Miz puts up a solid fight being out numbered and outclassed by McIntyre. So Shane just being a manipulative prick is great. Working his way on the Mr. McMahon 2.0 persona is entertaining and again, Roman and Miz being on the same page and working together as a positive thing…are just unexpected.

Joe makes a convincing point that the referee screwed up. I guess we’ll see how this goes.

Oh R-Truth has a car ready for Robert Roode, and funnily enough, a referee also. One Roll-Up later and the perfect Saturday Morning Cartoons on the brain mofo has the 24/7 belt. Three total champions in like 60 minutes. This is gonna be gold. I’m waiting for a Bayley Buddy to pin the champion.

So even though the tag match was turned into a NoDQ match, Bobby and Baron still kind of suck. Solid match all in all, but it’s very reminiscent of when Baron was GM and he’d just add stipulations and still fail more often than not.

 

Overall Score: 6.5/10

Really solid episode of Raw. Decent wrestling, storylines were moved along well enough, 24/7 title could be fun and damn did that whole Moment of Bliss thing play out like a damn beauty. So I would give the show a 7, but Lucha House Party being on the show and getting in offense is a half point off.

Firefly Fun House was a little disappointing and just there, so neither added nor subtracted to the Steiner Math.

 

SmackDown Live Ratings:

  • Andrade vs Ali: Ali wins via Inside Cradle – *** ¼
  • Carmella vs Mandy Rose: No Contest – *
  • Kofi Kingston vs Sami Zayn: Kofi wins via Trouble in Paradise – ** ½
  • Becky Lynch & Bayley vs Lacey Evans & Charlotte Flair: Bayley wins via Roll-Up – **
  • Elias vs Roman Reigns: Reigns wins via Spear – ***

 

Analysis:

So Elias apologizes to Shane and uses the fact he put all his energy into the performance, for why he lost. It’s a decent excuse. Oh we’re getting a rematch tonight. Gotta love Shane trying to set up anything and everything to soften up Roman for Jam in the Sand III.

Okay so the fake out reveal for Big E was funny and then the side comments about Becky’s mom were also amusing. Kofi trying to end the digressions by saying he needs to be serious since he’s champion was an amusing jab at people saying he’s a comedy act. KO and Sami interrupt, as Sami talks, the New Day take a jab at KO losing and Owens just walks off. Sami makes a challenge to stand up for him and his buddy. Ok, I don’t expect Sami to win, but it should be a decent match.

Carmella and a bunch of others are looking for R-Truth, but Carmella is his friend, trying to help him out. So we get Truth in a blonde wig and Carmella needing to give him a makeover.

So we get a great match for people who like good wrestling. Andrade and Ali seem to work well together and it was just fun to watch. Ali getting the win is interesting, cause that makes you wonder if he positioned himself as next in line for the Intercontinental Championship, or maybe it becomes a Triple Threat. This result could have interesting ramifications.

Mandy Rose and Carmella have beef that came from the MiTB Ladder match, and we get a non-finish when the undercard mob comes out to get R-Truth since he came out to second Carmella. I’m a little annoyed at the non-finish, but Carmella and R-Truth are amusing.

Kofi and Sami was shorter than I’d like, and also didn’t do much to help Sami, but I guess if they’re moving away from KO and Sami until after the Saudi show, it was fine. Plus the Dolph Ziggler attack needed time, so the shorter match was necessary I suppose.

Roman walks in and Elias is looming above him singing his song – and it was actually pretty neat. I like the way the scene was framed, and definitely came off as Elias trying to play mind games.

This women’s tag wasn’t really set up in as entertaining of a way as the 6 woman tag from Monday. This is just Champs versus people they just beat. The match was fine and Bayley getting the pinfall after Becky got ganged up on a little bit was fine.

Oh Jinder and the B-Team catch Truth, but he manages to get away.

The ring work may not have been fantastic, but the story beats were entertaining. Shane trying everything to screw Roman over the same way he’s screwed with Miz, but failing this time, added a wrinkle. Shane looked concerned for a change, until Drew McIntyre showed up to tip the scales. Shane going from concerned to “yup this was all part of the plan, yup”, is a fun moment.

 

Overall Score: 6/10

Even though I didn’t mind the show, it was really nothing overly special. A few beats were rehashed from Money in the Bank and Monday, so this falls into the same rut that SmackDown has hit lately. Instead of feeling like two shows, SmackDown just extends certain stories and feels like only half of the show is dedicated to new/unique stories.

So not a bad show, but in no way was it a must watch.

 


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