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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.5 ~ 12TH OCTOBER 2018

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CURRENT TOUR RECAP
As Noah head towards the end of the year, Autumn Navigation began on October 7th in Gunma. I am afraid I don’t have too much information about the first two shows.

Naomichi Marufuji’s feud (not so much Akitoshi Saito’s) with Mitsuya Nagai and “The Hooligans” began in earnest. Marufuji came out with a weary expression like he had to deal with something that was tiresome (and to him it is, as he says that The Hooligans are not worthy of the title shot, although he’s had to begrudgingly give them one), and this match was to prove just to be that as Nagai came out to “second”.

“Second” in this case being another word for “interfere”, which he did by pulling the referee out of the ring when Marufuji went for the pin on Taniguchi. While the ref and Nagai argued, Cody Hall used the distraction to creep into the ring and ambush Marufuji with “The Hooligan” bomb, meaning that Taniguchi got the win when the ref got back in the ring.

Afterwards The Hooligans stood over Marufuji, Cody Hall & Taniguchi holding the heavyweight tag belts, and Taniguchi with his foot on him.

Marufuji said afterwards that he was irritated before, but he’s angry now, and he’s had enough. This wasn’t enough, however, to stop The Hooligans from running over them again on the 11th October.

Noah have started the pre-matches for Global League; on the 11th October, Masa Kitamiya and Katsuhiko Nakajima faced off against each other after a long while. Nakajima, as ever, smirking when kicking someone, this time his tag partner.

NEWS

NOAH MERCHANDISE AVAILABLE IN EUROPE & USA
IPW have announced that they have become the official merchandise vendor for Noah for Europe, and I understand they also deliver to the USA. I am afraid for any other country, you would need to check directly with them. Shop can be accessed via the link above.

“COME AT ME YOU BASTARDS”
Kenoh’s column this week is thought to be generally not too interesting (aside from maybe the end about appearing in a quiz show), but he does give some interesting insights into life in Noah and how wrestlers branching out into other programs beyond wrestling, can help a product.

Speaking of Kenoh, I read a very sweet story in an interview earlier this week.

When Kenoh was a tiny infant (about two or three), he used to stand at the window of the Nippon Kempo watching them practice until his mother removed him. Even when it snowed, he would stand at the window.

His mother later asked if he could see inside, and then enrolled him in the school.

NAOMICHI MARUFUJI VS HIKARU SHIDA
For her tenth anniversary in wrestling, Hikaru Shida challenged Naomichi Marufuji to a rematch. They had last clashed on April 17th, and she had been knocked out within a few minutes (108 seconds to be precise). This time she managed to last eighteen minutes with him. He took knee attacks, and she took chops.

Marufuji won with the high knee, and said afterwards that “the match was fun, and with so much potential, I want you to be the top girl”.”.

WINTER NAVIGATION 2018 & EARLY DATES FOR JANUARY 2019
Noah have announced the dates for “Winter Navigation 2018”, plus “Great Voyage in Yokohama Vol.2” and “NOAHFul Gift in Differ”.

They have also announced dates for January 2019.

Last year NOAHFUL Gift was held in ShinKiba, this year it will be being held at Korakuen Hall. Although Noah have announced no plans for the format as of yet, it will most likely feature the flea market in which Noah sell their old ring wear to fans (in the old days they would also serve Dojo chanko) and the usual battle royal and comedy matches.

Genba Hirayanagi threatened to appear last year in some gnarly old pants when he heard there was a flea-market. Sugiura said no one would want them, and Marufuji told him that it was “called obstruction of business”.

Thankfully Genba’s questionable taste in clothes is not a recurring feature, but Akitoshi Saito in cosplay is. In past years we have seen a lounge singer (complete with frilled cuffs, cummerbund and a velvet suit), and a pigtailed joshi. 2017 saw him in a video which was played in installments throughout the evening flanked by Moose in a Burger King hat, Eddie Edwards in a Santa hat (both were trying not to laugh), and Saito in various stages of undress whilst wearing a wig and make-up.

During the Battle Royale last year, everyone dressed up; well, almost everyone, as Kenoh appeared in an old karate outfit, and HAYATA came as himself in DOVE Pro. Other highlights included Takashi Sugiura being labelled a “vulgar and tasteless Santa” by Tokyo Sports, Hi69 was a “Panda” (his costume was purple tights and Panda face-paint, and according to Hajime Ohara he had gone out and bought his costume the night before, leading Sugi to point, laugh and say “that’s not a Panda, that’s a monster), Hajime Ohara as Kiki from “Kiki’s Delivery Service” complete with satchel full of bakery goods, a Jiji on his shoulder, black wig with a bow and a broom, Hitoshi Kumano as a bear, Daisuke Harada as HAYATA (which HAYATA did not appreciate and glared at him afterwards) and of course the inevitable Mr. Koto (Atsushi Kotoge).

Needless to say its a fun show, and if you are going to be in Tokyo over Christmas\New Year, I not only envy you, I also highly recommend you go and see it. All grudges, rivalries and title matches are put aside, and the roster relax and have fun.

OUTSIDE PARTICIPATION
Naomichi Marufuji and Hi69 will miss Noah’s event on the 18th November as they will be participating in Ryuku Dragon Pro in Okinawa

Kenoh will be appearing for KAIENTAI DOJO on Sunday October 28th, he will team with Tank Nagai against Yuri Asakawa & Kengo Mashimo.

Junta Miyawaki will make his second appearance for YOUNGDOMS (FREEDOMS sub brand) on the 5th November, he will team with Shunsuke Sayama vs Toru Sugiura and SUSUMU

GHC BELT NEWS

Current champions

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Takashi Sugiura
  • GHC Junior Champion: Daisuke Harada
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: Naomichi Marufuji & Akitoshi Saito
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: Minoru Tanaka & Hi69

The GHC Heavyweight Championship currently has no challenger as Global League will begin in late October to determine the number one contender.

Daisuke Harada and Atsushi Kotoge will clash over the GHC Junior Championship on October 30th at Korakuen Hall (match signing to be held the same day)

Naomichi Marufuji & Akitoshi Saito will defend the GHC Heavyweight Tag Championship against “The Hooligans” (Maybach Taniguchi and Cody Hall) on Sunday October 14th in Kobe.

The GHC Junior Tag Championship has not been challenged for yet.

TOUR TIDBITS

  • Naomichi Marufuji was involved in a minor car accident this week when someone reversed into him, he is fine fortunately.
  • Noah released Halloween Revolutionary cloaks for kids which were sold on the 11th October, with the Revolutionary Hero on hand to sign them. Atsushi Kotoge has said that the manufacturing cost is too high to make them for adults.
  • Takashi Sugiura gave a defense match interview, in it he said he wants to be the first reigning champion in history to win Global League, and if that happens he will nominate his own opponent, which will be Masato Tanaka. They have fought against each other in the past, but they have never had a title match over a single belt.
  • Mitsuya Nagai called a lady in the crowd “you old bag” because she was mouthing off to him.
  • Mohammed Yone’s disco ball for his entry has become a thing
  • People would like to see Atsushi Kotoge and Kaito Kiyomiya tag together and challenge for the belts
  • HAYATA has a new online diary, “HAYATAbot”, I am afraid that to access it requires a paid subscription
  • Kenoh will finally get his wish for a singles match with Naomichi Marufuji on the 8th November at Korakuen Hall for Global League 2018.
  • Like Hi69 does, Atsushi Kotoge did a short question time with fans on Twitter, highlights included; Kotoge saying he doesn’t drink at home, and Go Shiozaki asking what the capes were made of to which, Kotoge said playfully, “asshole, I’ll go and look”. He never actually answered Shiozaki’s question.
  • Kenoh’s friend, Masahiro-san (whom Kenoh has blocked, and who Masahiro-san calls “that asshole who blocked me”), posted a few candid pictures of when he stayed at Kenoh’s home for the night on Twitter. Masahiro-san usually deletes them a few minutes after posting, but they were there long enough to ascertain Kenoh bought tourist fodder Union Jack boxer shorts when he visited London for Frontline Pro Wrestling.
  • Hajime Ohara is holding exercise classes in Kawasaki which are open to adults of every age and sex. The classes will be simple exercises in how to build, tone and maintain muscles and how to exercises with a water bottle.

KING SHAMLESS’S CORNER
None this week, he’s managed to behave himself.

EVENT RECAPS
7TH OCTOBER 2018, NEW SUNPIA TAKASAKI, GUNMA
11TH OCTOBER 2018, OYAMA CITY CULTURAL CENTER SMALL HALL, OYAMA, TOCHIGI

LINKS
English language translation of Naomichi Marufuji’s biography, “Heir to The Ark”
Takashi Sugiura’s sixth defense interview
Akira Taue loved the “Talk Battle” with Toshiaki Kawada
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AEW Coverage

Mitchell’s AEW Rampage Results & Report! (1/27/23)

Hangman is on a Rampage!

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Will the Cowboy break the Decoder?

Before facing Jon Moxley for the third time on next Wednesday’s Dynamite, Hangman Page is gonna bring the Cowboy Shiz to Wheeler Yuta! Will Hangman knockout the ROH Pure Champion?

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Hangman Page VS Wheeler Yuta; wins.
  • Six Man Tag: Danhausen & Best Friends VS Team Triple J; Team Triple J wins.
  • “Powerhouse” Will Hobbs VS Tony Mudd; Hobbs wins.
  • AEW Women’s World Title Eliminator: Jamie Hayter VS Emi Sakura; Hayter wins and denies Emi a title opportunity.

PLAY BY PLAY

Hangman Page VS Wheeler Yuta!

The Cowboy called out Jon Moxley for Dynamite in Dayton, Ohio, but the Decoder thought that was rather presumptuous. Will the ROH Pure Champion defend the honor of the Blackpool Combat Club and his mentor? Or will there be a lot of #CowboySh*t going down in Lexington?

The bell rings, and Yuta SHOTGUNS Hangman right down! Hangman ends up at the ropes, Yuta stomps away but Hangman shoves him away. Yuta comes back with forearms but Hangman shoves him again. Hangman CHOPS, Yuta grits his teeth, but Hangman whips. Yuta slips off the scoop and ties Hangman up in an IRON OCTOPUS! Hangman endures, fans rally and duel while Yuta digs his hand into the ribs. Hangman powers up and back drops but Yuta sunset flips it! ONE, and Hangman swings, but into a takedown! Yuta has a leg, and hits a spinning toehold! Yuta then steps though to spinning toehold the other leg!

Yuta ties up the legs and he talks smack. Hangman slaps but Yuta SLAPS! They SLAP, even while Hangman is down on the mat! Yuta stands to bridge and put pressure on the Indian Deathlock! Fans cheer as Yuta folds his arms for a full neck bridge! Hangman endures, reaches out, and grabs on for the ROPEBREAK! Yuta lets off quickly and Hangman scrambles to a corner. Yuta storms up to CHOP Hangman, then ROCK him with a forearm. And CHOP again! Hangman turns things around, Yuta dodges the chop to CHOP and forearm on repeat! Yuta whips corner to corner, but Hangman comes back to CLOBBER Yuta!

Fans fire up while Hangman snarls and catches his breath. The ref checks on Yuta but he’s okay to continue. Fans rally for the Cowboy Shiz, and Hangman storms up on Yuta. Hangman CHOPS Yuta in the corner, follows him to another corner, and CHOPS him again! But Yuta forearms and CHOPS in return! Yuta runs, but into a BIG forearm! Hangman snapmares Yuta, runs and SLIDING LARIATS! Cover, TWO! Hangman is annoyed that Yuta is still in this, but he brings Yuta up. Hangman HEADBUTTS Yuta and Yuta wobbles. Hangman whips, Yuta holds ropes, and Hangman runs in, only for Yuta to throw him out!

Yuta HOTSHOTS Hangman and Hangman goes to the floor. Hangman gets in the ring as Yuta builds speed, and scoops for a FALL AWAY SLAM! Fans fire up as Hangman kips up, and Hangman sees Yuta on the apron. Hangman TRIANGLE JUMP LARIATS! Yuta falls to the floor, stands back up, and Hangman PLANCHAS! Direct hit and fans fire up! Hangman kicks Yuta around as the ring count climbs. Fans rally, Hangman puts Yuta in at 5 of 10. But Yuta comes back to DIVE onto Hangman! Direct hit at the ramp and fans fire up even more! Yuta drags Hangman up as the count resets, and he CHOPS!

Yuta follows Hangman over to the timekeeper’s area, ROCKS him and CHOPS him, and repeat! Yuta brings Hangman back into the ring at 7 of 10, but Hangman bails back out. Yuta builds speed again to DIVE, but Hangman catches him! POP-UP APRON POWERBOMB! Hangman drags Yuta up and into the ring fast, then storms up top POP-UP SIT-OUT POWERBOMB! Cover, TWO!! Yuta hangs tough and Rampage goes picture in picture.

Hangman is a bit frustrated but he drags Yuta back up. Hangman CHOPS Yuta right off his feet! Hangman holds up a finger and fans agree, “One More Time!” Yuta CHOPS Hangman, but Hangman CHOPS Yuta! Yuta falls back down but Hangman puts him in the corner. Hangman CHOPS again! Yuta sputters and falls over. Hangman kicks Yuta around, brings him back up, and hoists Yuta up top. Hangman climbs up after Yuta, and SUPERPLEXES! Cover, TWO! Hangman is annoyed but he clamps on a rear bearhug! Hangman squeezes and Rampage returns to single picture. Yuta endures, fights up, and he throws elbows!

Fans rally but Hangman kicks low. Hangman whips Yuta to a corner, but Yuta BOOTS back! Yuta hops up to MISSILE DROPKICK! Fans fire up while both men are down! A standing count starts, Yuta and Hangman sit up at 4 of 10, then stand at 5. Yuta atomic drops and ENZIGURIS! Hangman goes to a corner, Yuta runs in to A-LIST LARIAT! Yuta shoves Hangman out and goes up top, FLYING LARIAT! And a kip up! Fans fire up and Yuta runs at Hangman in the corner, to back elbow! And LARIAT! And BULLDOG! Cover, TWO! Yuta snarls but he goes to a corner. Yuta climbs up, but Hangman ROCKS Yuta!

Yuta CLUBS Hangman, but Hangman ROCKS and HEADBUTTS Yuta over and over! Hangman lets off, climbs up after Yuta and fireman’s carries?! SUPER DEATH VALLEY DRIVER!! Cover, TWO?!? Yuta survives and Hangman is shocked! Hangman throws off his elbow pad as fans rally for that Cowboy Shiz! But Yuta anchors a foot. Yuta eggs Hangman on so Hangman gets around to GERMAN SUPLEX! Yuta flounders, but he eggs Hangman on again! So Hangman drags Yuta back up to GERMAN SUPLEX again! Yuta sits up and shakes his head! Hangman says fine, one more time! GERMAN- NO, Yuta blocks!

Yuta pries the waistlock, Hangman CLUBS him on the back, but Yuta shoots around! GERMAN SUPLEX! Bridging cover, ONE! But Yuta GERMAN SUPLEXES again! And then GERMAN SUPLEXES again! Yuta is still going, he’s Suplex Wheeler! Hangman blocks the fourth, grabs ropes, and the ref counts. Yuta holds on, Hangman throws elbows, and Yuta staggers away. Hangman goes to the apron, Yuta rushes in, Hangman boots but Yuta blocks it! Yuta ties the leg up in the ropes! And then HAMMER ‘N’ ANVIL ELBOWS on the ropes!! The ref counts, Yuta lets off, and then goes onto the apron. Yuta waistlocks but Hangman holds onto ropes to resist!

Hangman REAR HEADBUTTS! And again! Yuta staggers, Hangman runs in, but Yuta shoots around to POST Hangman, and then APRON GERMAN SUPLEX! But Yuta holds on as they roll off the apron, to GERMAN SUPLEX Hangman to the floor! Hangman lands on his face but both men are down! Fans lose their minds as the ref checks them both. Yuta gets to the corner and climbs!? Hangman stands, Yuta SUPER CROSSBODIES!! Direct hit and down goes Hangman! Fans are thunderous as Yuta puts Hangman back in! Yuta climbs up again, and he FLYING SPLASHES onto knees!! Cover, TWO!!! LARIAT OUTTA NOWHERE!!

Fans are thunderous again as Hangman has a wild look in his eyes! Hangman goes to the apron, takes aim at Yuta, BUCKSHOT- INTERCEPTED!? OLYMPIC SLAM!! Yuta goes back up top, for another FLYING SPLASH!! It hits this time, and Yuta covers, TWO!!!! Hangman survives, but Yuta just rains down HAMMER ‘N’ ANVIL ELBOWS! Hangman blocks one, drags Yuta up to a fireman’s carry, but Yuta elbows free! Yuta runs to BOOT Hangman, Hangman spins but Yuta ducks the discus! Yuta BOOTS again, Hangman spins again, ROLLING ELBOW!! Yuta wobbles, roars, and fires off forearms and CHOPS!

Yuta BITES Hangman’s forehead! The ref reprimands, Yuta stops, but Hangman whips him away. Yuta rewinds, but Hangman slides out! Yuta looks for where Hangman went, and turns around into BUCKSHOT!!! But Hangman doesn’t end it there! He is enraged, and he drags Yuta up to underhook! Hangman steals DEATH RIDER!!! Cover, Hangman wins!!

Winner: Hangman Page, by pinfall

A message was sent to The Maniac, and Hangman tells Moxley he’ll see him next week! What will happen when we get the finale in the trilogy that is Hangman VS Moxley?

 

AEW shares footage from after last Wednesday’s Dynamite.

Ricky Starks & Action Andretti regrouped after their loss to the Jericho Appreciation Society. Action says, “Chris and Sammy didn’t beat us tonight. That baseball bat beat us tonight! You had somebody in that ring with you that was on your level, and without that baseball bat, you wouldn’t have the same outcome tonight.” Action guarantees Guevara that Action can beat him! And Starks says he had Jericho beat with the Roshambeaux on the outside. But once again, the JAS didn’t get the job done, a baseball bat did. Or maybe Sammy, or maybe Danny, or maybe Hager. But it’s never Chris! Starks beat Chris once, he can do it again.

So what does Starks have to do to get Jericho 1v1 again? He’ll do anything! Starks can beat, Tiger Beat, B-E-A-T, Michael Jackson Beat It, Starks can beat Jericho! “And that is the Absolute truth.” So when and where will Starks & Andretti finally settle things with the JAS?

 

Eddie Kingston speaks.

“This is what you guys wanted, right?! Let my demons push me, keep it going, I can’t get away from them ever! So I quit. I’m done trying. House of Black, you’re right! You’re right! This, the true Eddie Kingston, has to come out now! And too bad, Ortiz, you had to be the fatal shot. If you don’t like it, do something. Now House of Black, I understand your way. You just have to accept me. I understand you. I feel you. I’m ready to go home.” Is the Mad King going to join the Kings of the Black Throne and truly make AEW #FadeToBlack?

 

Six Man Tag: Danhausen & Best Friends VS Team Triple J!

While Orange Cassidy retained the All-Atlantic Championship against Jay Lethal weeks ago, things are far from settled between these teams. The Very Nice, Very Evil Overlord teams with Trent & Chuck against Lethal, Jeff Jarrett and the One in a Billion, Satnam Singh, will they finally avenge Paul Walter Hauser?

Speaking of, Sonjay Dutt has the Golden Globe with him in a little display case! He’s rubbing the theft in everyone’s faces! But Lexington fires up for the Kentucky Gentleman’s homecoming! And Danhausen is mocking Jeff Jarrett by bringing a ukulele with him. But Lethal snatches that, too! They’re all kleptomaniacs! And then Satnam SMASHES Danhausen’s ukulele! Lethal CLOBBERS Chuck Taylor from behind, fans boo, and the bell rings to get this on record. Lethal JABS, JABS, JABS and whips Chuck corner to corner. Chuck goes up and over, arm-drags Lethal, then arm-drags him again! Chuck keeps on the arm and fans fire up.

Tag to Trent, Best Friends double whip to double shoulder tackle, and then they shake hands for the double elbow drop. Fans cheer, Trent covers, TWO! Trent drags Lethal, Lethal hits low, and Lethal tags Jarrett. The Last Outlaw kicks Trent, throws hands, but fans boo. Jarrett ROCKS Trent but Trent CHOPS! Trent forearms, Jarrett headlocks but Trent powers out. They speed up., Trent hurdles, drops and CLOBBERS Jarrett! Fans cheer as Trent steps on Jarrett’s face. Tag to Chuck and Chuck bumps Jarrett off buckles. Chuck stomps a mudhole into Jarrett, then he tags in Danhausen. Fans fire up as Danhausen stomps a mudhole in!

Danhausen tags Trent, Best Friends double whip Jarrett to the corner, then they send Danhausen in! Danhausen clotheslines, then feeds Jarrett to double shoulders from Best Friends! Best Friends flex, and Danhausen stands on Jarrett’s chest while he flexes! The ref reprimands, Danhausen steps off, but Lethal runs in! But into SOLE FOOD HALF ‘N’ HALF! And then Best Friends all BLAST Satnam off the apron! Fans fire up as Best Friends all go to corners, only for Team Triple J to trip them all! NOT what the people want! Jarrett drags Danhausen out to throw him into the timekeeper’s area while Lethal drags Chuck to the floor.

Satnam steps into the ring, stalks Trent, and he drags him up. Trent breaks free and CHOPS, but Satnam doesn’t even flinch! Trent CHOPS again, then kicks a leg, and fires off! Satnam stays up, blocks the whip and whips Trent hard into a corner! Trent tumbles up and out and then to the floor! Lethal stalks Trent, then CLOBBERS him! Fans boo, Jarrett tags in and Sonjay talks a lot of trash. Cassidy “storms” over to back Sonjay off, and Rampage goes picture in picture.

The ref reprimands Team Triple J, they back off of Trent. Cassidy has to back up, too, and Lethal fetches Trent for Jarrett. Jarrett kicks Trent, has him on the ropes, and he tags in Lethal. Jarrett whips Trent and kicks low, for Lethal to run in and SWINGING NECKBREAKER! Lethal struts and poses, but fans give thumbs down. Lethal brings Trent up, he tags in Satnam, and they mug Trent. Satnam and Lethal whip Trent to ropes, then Satnam ELBOWS Trent down! Cover, but Satnam brings Trent up! Satnam wants to play with his food as he drags Trent up again. Tag to Lethal, he climbs up, and he AX HANDLES Trent down! Lethal covers now, TWO!

Trent scrambles to the apron but Lethal grabs the legs. ROPE GUILLOTINE! Trent sputters, the ref reprimands, but Jarrett drags Trent to the apron to CLUB him! Chuck is furious, the ref is distracted, and Sonjay gets a shot in! Cassidy “storms” over again and Sonjay backs off. Lethal tags Jarrett and they split the wishbone on Trent! Jarrett drags Trent onto ropes and CHOKES him! The ref counts, Jarrett runs side to side to STRADDLE ATTACK! Jarrett struts now, and Rampage goes to break.

Rampage returns and Lethal has Trent’s legs. But Trent twists and Victory Rolls Lethal, TWO! Lethal spins for the ROLLING ELBOW! Then he GERMAN SUPLEXES, but Trent lands on his feet! Hot tag to Chuck! Fans fire up as Chuckie T rallies on Lethal, DECKS Jarrett, then forearms Satnam! Satnam barely budges, Lethal dodges Chuck and whips him corner to corner. Lethal runs in but into a SEXY CHUCKIE KNEE! Chuck then clinches for a COMPLETE SHOT, to a KOJI KLUTCH! But Jarrett breaks it out! The ref reprimands but Jarrett tags in. Jarrett kicks Chuck, he and Lethal double whip Chuck to a corner.

Lethal whips Jarrett in, but Chuck goes up and over! Jarrett hits buckles, Lethal runs in, but Chuck drop toeholds Lethal into Jarrett’s gut! Lethal staggers up, Chuck clotheslines Lethal up and out, then PLANCHAS for good measure! Chuck hurries back in, he blocks Jarrett’s kick and trips him! Chuck steps through to FIGURE FOUR! Jarrett endures, Lethal goes up top! HAIL TO THE KING MISSES as Chuck sits up! Chuck then sits back to put more pressure on the Figure Four! Jarrett reaches out, and Satnam makes the tag with his long arms! Satnam storms up to Chuck and drags him right off the mat!

Satnam SHOVES Chuck away, and Danhausen tags in!! Fans fire up as the Overlord steps up to the giant! Fans fire up, Danhausen powers up, and he fires off body shots! And CHOPS! Satnam doesn’t even flinch! Danhausen runs to LARIAT! Fans fire up with Danhausen but Satman isn’t amused. Danhausen crouches, but Satnam blocks the dick punch! Satnam palms Danhausen’s head like a basketball! Satnam whips Danhausen to a corner hard, then runs in., But Danhausen dodges and Satnam hits buckles! Danhausen goes out, HOTSHOTS Satnam, and then Trent HOTSHOTS! And Chuck HOTSHOTS!

Satnam sputters, staggers, Best Friends distract the ref so even Orange Cassidy can HOTSHOT Satnam! Sonjay rushes in, but gets an ORANGE PUNCH! Danhausen has Jarrett’s guitar!! But the ref stops him from getting a Smash Hit! Fans boo, but Jarrett rushes in with the Golden Globe! GLOBE SHOT!! Satnam stands on Danhausen for the cover, Team Triple J win!

Winners: Team Triple J, by pinfall

As if stealing the Golden Globe wasn’t enough, they just used it to steal this win! Possession may be 9/10 of the law, but will true justice be served soon enough?

 

AEW shares more footage from after last Wednesday’s Dynamite.

Renee Paquette found Ruby Soho backstage to ask her about that win over Toni Storm. There was just a bit of controversy, though, as Britt Baker- Oh, speaking of, Britt walks over with a slow clap. “Big, big win for Ruby on Dynamite tonight. Congrats, Ruby!” Ruby tells “Brittany” that she should’ve known her “thirsty ass couldn’t avoid the spotlight tonight.” Ruby doesn’t want Britt back here, and she sure didn’t want Britt out there. Ruby doesn’t know in what world Britt thought Ruby wanted or needed Britt’s help. Britt tells Ruby that she doesn’t like Ruby, either, but maybe it’s time Britt finally admits Ruby has some, some, importance to the AEW Women’s Division.

“Now obviously, there is a very clear divide in this women’s division. And instead of showing up here every week, eenie, meenie, miney mo, which side will Ruby go? Why don’t you grow a backbone and pick a side. And if you’re smart, you’ll know which side to pick.” Britt leaves, and leaves Ruby a lot to think about. Will the enemy of her enemy end up her ally? Or will Ruby choose to stand on her own against both Britt and Storm?

 

“Powerhouse” Will Hobbs VS Tony Mudd!

The Book of Hobbs continues to be written, one battered body at a time. Will the Powerhouse print another punishing chapter here tonight? Or will Hobbs be dragged through the Kentucky Mudd?

The bell rings and Hobbs circles with Mudd. Hobbs looks amused, he rushes in but Mudd dodges. Mudd thinks he’s smart, but he turns around into a LARIAT! Mudd scrambles to a corner and Hobbs storms up. Hobbs drags Mudd up, ROCKS him, and then runs in to SPLASH in the corner! Hobbs talks smack, then SPLASHES again! And then again! Mudd flounders, Hobbs drags him back up and shouts, “I take everything I want!” Hobbs TOSSES Mudd around, drags him back up, and torture racks! RACK BOMB!! Cover, Hobbs wins!

Winner: “Powerhouse” Will Hobbs, by pinfall

The Powerhouse was a Mudd slinger out there, and he makes sure everyone understands what’s coming. Will we see gold added to the legend written in the Book of Hobbs?

 

Top Flight speaks.

Darius Martin says, “Lately, anybody that’s been tuning in sees why we are what we claim we are, and that’s the Coldest Team in the Game.” They’ve taken it to some of the best professional wrestlers in the company. They may have come up short before, their luck turned around last week in their win over two-thirds of the AEW World Trios Champions in the Young Bucks. They’ve proved that the third time is the charm. Dante says, “Speaking of three, we won three hundred thousand dollars, in the Three Kings Casino Battle Royal. And speaking of three, we see three trios titles around you boys’ waists.

“So we gave AR Fox a call, and we’re issuing a challenge. Step up or take flight.” Angel Dorado, Air Wolf and The People’s Choice are hungry, but are they better than The Elite?

 

Backstage interview with Dustin Rhodes.

Renee says it is good to see The Natural back here at work. She knows it was a rough month for the Rhodes family, how is he feeling back with his work family? Dustin says it feels a bit weird. Tony Khan was gracious enough to give Dustin time to reach out to the fans and say thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. It really has been a terrible month with the loss of his mother, but he thought it was best to get out of his head and rip off the Band-aid. Dustin is here, glad to see his family-away-from-family. But then Swerve and Mogul Affiliates walks in…

Swerve says he’s playing the world’s smallest violin for Dustin. But what is up with another old veteran coming in here, trying to steal the spotlight and making it all about him? Is Swerve gonna have to take out another old man like he almost did with Billy Gunn, and add The Natural to that list? Dustin tells Swerve to step back. Swerve says, “The nerve of you Rhodes family guys. First it’s you with the slick mouth. Your brother ain’t sh*t, and let’s not talk about your dad, bro.” Dustin gets mad now! Keep Dusty Rhodes’ name out of your mouth, Swerve. Swerve tells Dusty to step off, but Dusty tells Swerve is the one to step off.

Things get very tense, but referees hurry in to stop this. Swerve tells Dustin to understand who runs this now. Dustin steps away, but will he show that this isn’t Swerve’s House?

 

Mark Henry welcomes us back to Rampage.

The World’s Strongest Man says, “Tonight, we see Japanese legend, Emi Sakura, who has won many titles in her career, take on AEW Women’s World Champion, Jamie Hayter, in an Eliminator Match.” Hayter herself says, “In my opinion, Emi Sakura is a professional wrestling legend. The amount of times she’s broken her back for this business, bled for this business. She got her bloody head shaved for this business! She’s the kind of woman I need to be in the ring with, and I need to beat her.” Hayter knows it’s been awhile since she and Emi met in the ring, but she’s different now. And when they face off on Rampage, even the legend will understand #HayterHitsHard.

Well, it looks like there’s been enough talk. IT’S TIME! For the main event! Sure, Hayter hits hard, but will she hit hard enough to check The Queen of Joshi Wrestling off the list?

 

Backstage interview with Jade Cargill.

Lexi Nair is with the AEW TBS Champion and Leila Grey, and says that we all want to know just who will Jade’s 50th opponent be? “Lacey, does it really matter?” Uh, it’s Lexi. But in walk the former Baddies, Red Velvet and Kiera Hogan! Velvet steals Jade’s line and says, “Cut the sh*t!” Kiera has everyone calms down. Oh, look, she still has puppy dog Leila! ARF ARF ARF! But Velvet tells Jade that she was a Day One Baddie, so she knows Jade’s been treating everyone like crap. Leila there has NO self-esteem, and since Jade walks around saying she’s #ThatBitch, then she can see Velvet next week.

Velvet may have been Jade’s first, but next week, she’s THE ONE in 49-1! Bye-bye. That’s all, period. Leila and Jade laugh that off, but are they overlooking the Baddie who knows Jade best?

 

AEW Women’s World Title Eliminator: Jamie Hayter w/ Britt Baker & Rebel VS Emi Sakura w/ Baliyan Akki & Mei Suruga!

It felt like a lifetime ago that these two faced off before, and certainly in the case of the young champion from Eastleigh, UK, she has grown into her own. Will Hayter deny the Queen of Joshi a new crown? Or will this be the rise of Emi Sakura in AEW?

The bell rings, the two circle, and they approach, but Emi dodges. Hayter shrugs that off and fans rally up behind her. Emi and Hayter approach again, but Emi dodges again. Emi laughs but Hayter eggs her on. They tie up, go around, break, and then Hayter ROCKS Emi! Hayter runs but Emi follows, only for Hayter to run her over! But Emi gets up to pull Hayter’s hair! Emi CHOPS Hayter, Hayter CHOPS back, and the CHOP fight is on! Fans fire up, Hayter CHOPS and CHOPS and CHOPS Emi to ropes! Hayter runs, but Emi dumps her out! Hayter falls to the floor, and Emi laughs as she goes out after her.

Emi whips Hayter into railing! And then into the apron! And back to the railing! Then back into railing again! Emi COHPS Hayter against railing, then backs up. Mei and Emi tell Britt and Rebel to stay back, and then Emi SPLASHES Hayter against the railing! The ref starts the ring count while Emi taunts Britt. Emi drags Hayter up, brings her around the way, and CHOPS her against more railing! Fans rally for Hayter but Emi CHOPS her again! Emi puts Hayter in the ring, Mei and Akki cheer her on but fans rally for Hayter. Emi pulls hair, then laughs as she TOSSES Hayter by that hair!

Emi CHOPS Hayter in the corner, then SLAPS her! Emi runs corner to corner to CROSSBODY Hayter against the buckles! Fans boo but Emi drags Hayter up to SPANK her! Hayter shoves Emi, fires off forearms, but Emi tackles her! Emi turns Hayter over to elbow drop on the back! Emi has the legs, she hooks Hayter up, and she taunts the fans that she can’t hear them. Emi CLUBS Hayter, grabs the arms, and pulls her back for the ROMERO SPECIAL! Hayter endures, fans rally, but Emi TOSSES Hayter away! Britt coaches Hayter up but Emi is on her with a facelock as Rampage goes picture in picture.

Emi turns Hayter around into a dragon sleeper, and she CLAWS Hayter’s stomach! Hayter pulls hair, the ref reprimands them both, but Emi still hits the TWISTING FACEBUSTER! Emi grabs at Hayter but Hayter bails out. Britt is worried, but she storms up to help Hayter against Mei! Mei wants after Hayter but Britt and Hayter kick her away. Emi goes to the apron, Hayter shoves Emi first then grabs at a leg. Emi holds the ropes, then she SLAPS Hayter down! Emi smirks as she looms over Hayter and pulls her up by her hair. The ref reprimands but Emi stomps Hayter down. Emi drags Hayter up and puts her in the ring.

Mei and Rebel get catty as Emi goes in after Hayter. Cocky cover, TWO! Emi is annoyed but Hayter throws forearms! Hayter knees Emi, and snap suplexes her! Emi stands right back up while Hayter staggers, and Emi CHOPS Hayter down! Emi gives toying kicks, then she stands on Hayter’s face! The ref reprimands, Emi steps off, and she looms over Hayter. Emi drags Hayter up again, but Hayter clamps onto a leg. Hayter fires off body shots but Emi has a GROVIT! Hayter endures, RAMS Emi into a corner, and then RAMS her more! Hayter digs her shoulder in but Emi turns things around to CHOP! And CHOP! And CHOP!

Hayter sits down, Emi laughs, and then she CHOPS again! But Hayter turns things around to CHOP and CHOP and CHOP and CHOP! Fans fire up, but the ref counts so Hayter lets off. Hayter catches her breath, only for Emi to CHOP her off her feet! Emi paces, taunts Hayter, and Britt is worried again. Emi talks a little trash while Hayter staggers up. Hayter ends up in a corner, and Emi CHOPS her again! And CHOPS again! And again! And again! And again! Hayter sits down, but Emi eggs her on. Emi pie faces Hayter, digs her elbow in, and Rampage returns to single picture. Fans rally up but Emi CHOPS again!

Emi CHOPS, fans rally for Hayter and she CHOPS away on Emi once again! Emi just DOUBLE CHOPS Hayter down! Emi drags Hayter up, pulls on Hayter’s collar, but Hayter snarls. Hayter pies Emi’s hand away, and reels her in, EXPLODER! Emi staggers up but into another EXPLODER! And another EXPLODER!! Fans fire up with Hayter and she runs corner to corner to back elbow! Emi BOOTS, but Hayter powers through to LARIAT! Hayter stomps and CLUBS away on Emi! The ref counts, backs Hayter off, and Emi runs in! But into a HAYTE BREAKER! Cover, TWO!! Emi survives and now Akki and Mei are worried!

Hayter ripcords, but Emi ROCKS Hayter! And CHOP LARIATS!! Emi drags Hayter up, underhooks, and lifts! Emi holds Hayter upside-down, before the TIGER BACKBREAKER!! Cover, TWO!! Hayter survives and Britt is fanning herself from all this stress. Fans are thunderous as Hayter and Emi stand up. Emi runs in, but into a BOOT! Emi sits down, but she ducks the sliding lariat! Ghost pin, TWO!! Hayter escapes but Emi reels her in. But Hayter turns that around into a fireman’s carry, and an USHIGOROSHI! Emi sits up, Hayter runs, runs and SLIDING LARIATS!! Cover, TWO!?!? Emi survives and no one can believe it!

Hayter huffs and puffs and drags Emi up to bump her off buckles. Hayter CLUBS away, then hoists Emi up top. Hayter SLAPS Emi, cravats, and SUPER STUNNERS!! Fans are thunderous as Hayter says she’s gonna end this! Hayter goes up top?! MOONSAULT FLOPS! Emi drags Hayter into a LA MAGISTROL! TWO!!! Hayter escapes but Emi underhooks again! TIGER DRIVER!! Cover, TWO!?!? Hayter survives and fans are thunderous again! Emi goes up top now, and she MOONSAULTS! Direct hit and cover, TWO!!! Hayter survives again and Emi is furious! Fans are thunderous as Britt and Rebel coach Hayter up.

Emi sits Hayter up to SLAP her! And SLAP her! And SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! Emi swings wild and then KICKS! But the LARIAT hits outta nowhere!! Hayter fires up, she drags Emi up and ripcords, HAYTER- NO, SAIDO!!! Emi turns things around, but Hayter roars! ANOTHER LARIAT!!! And then, HAYTERADE!! Cover, Hayter wins!!!

Winner: Jamie Hayter, by pinfall (denies Emi Sakura a title match)

Britt brings the belt to Hayter, that’s one contender off the list! But with Revolution on the horizon, who will rise up to fight the Hayter?


My Thoughts:

A great Rampage, with some good stuff set up for the coming weeks. For one, great opener from Hangman VS Yuta, and another great showing for Yuta even in defeat. This was more like the Yuta that fought his way into the Blackpool Combat Club, we need more of this if he’s to maintain his reign as ROH Pure Champion. But Hangman of course wins to have momentum going into his tiebreaker with Moxley for Dynamite. That match could go either way, but I’m hoping for Hangman’s win. Hangman can use that momentum to get going in not just title scenes, but in this story of “mending fences” with old friends.

We got quite a bit more “post Dynamite” promos than I expected, but there was a lot of stuff on Dynamite that did need resolving. Starks & Action set up the individual matches I was expecting, and I have a feeling Jericho wins to push a tiebreaker in that story so that the blow-off is at Revolution. Hobbs of course won a squash match, I hope they get him going on the TNT title story quickly so that they can build it towards Revolution. Very good promos from Dustin and Mogul Affiliates as well as Jade and all her Baddies. I knew Velvet was the perfect choice for Jade’s 50th match, so I’m glad they saw it, too.

Good promo from Top Flight to call out The Elite, and I like that they’re setting up Elite VS Top Flight & AR Fox for the trios titles. Eddie Kingston had a good promo, and it sounds like he’s becoming the House of Black’s fifth member. I can’t be sure which is better: this being genuine and Heel Eddie fights alongside Malakai; or this is a swerve and Eddie is setting up Malakai so he and Ortiz can take on The House. And good promo from Britt and Ruby, and this is probably to help set up the Triple Threat we were meant to get on Wednesday. Though, at the same time, I wish Tony Khan had thought ahead. He could’ve NOT made a Triple Threat, just advertise Toni VS Ruby, and then Britt still pulls the distraction so that it’ll give reason FOR a Triple Threat.

Great Trios match from Best Friends and Team Triple J. I should’ve known that Triple J would cheat with the Golden Globe, they’re extending this story and I bet we also get a blow-off at Revolution. I feel like at this point, it should be All-Atlantic Championship VS Golden Globe, Winner Takes All, Orange Cassidy VS Jeff Jarrett. And as such, Paul Walker Hauser should return to help Cassidy win so that he has a part in winning back the trophy that is rightfully his.

Now, for the third week in a row, Mark Henry is just used to introduce a video package. What’s worse about it this week is that we saw that video package on Dynamite! I copy-pasted what was on Dynamite here because it was the same! What is the reason for Mark Henry no longer doing interview promos before the main event? Is this Warner Bros. Discovery asserting something else on top of the new aesthetic? It’s garbage because those promos were always really good. But at least the main event we got was an awesome match. Hayter has become the face of this harder hitting, higher quality chapter in the AEW Women’s Division, and she got a great win of Emi.

Personally, I am hoping that somehow, some way, they decide to actually give us the Hayter VS Britt feud they chose not to give us last year, fans are gonna have a hard time deciding between the Killer and the Pillar. That would blow the roof off the place for Revolution, and maybe even beyond.

My Score: 8.6/10


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Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Results & Report! (1/27/23)

Will Kevin Owens #JustKeepFighting?

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The Prizefighter has a big fight before THE big fight!

On the SmackDown before the Royal Rumble, Kevin Owens must face Solo Sikoa! Will Kevin survive Roman Reigns’ Enforcer 24 hours before their Undisputed Universal Championship match?

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Rey Mysterio VS Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett Bordeaux; Rey wins.
  • Lacey Evans VS Jazmin Allure; Evans wins.
  • SmackDown Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Tournament, Semifinal: Drew McIntyre & Sheamus Braun Strowman & Ricochet VS Hit Row; Braun & Ricochet win and advances to the finals.
  • SmackDown Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Tournament, Semifinal: Imperium VS Legado Del Fantasma; Imperium wins and advances to the finals.
  • Kevin Owens VS Solo Sikoa; Kevin wins, by disqualification.

PLAY BY PLAY

The Bloodline arrives backstage.

Jimmy & Jey Usos tell Solo Sikoa that tonight is all about him. But then Sami Zayn sneaks over! Jey says Sami shouldn’t be here, this is against direct orders from The Tribal Chief! Sami knows but that’s why he isn’t going inside. He won’t step on any toes, but he needed to catch Jey. Sami needs to tell Jey face to face, that what jey did for Sami on Monday, he won’t forget that. Jey says he’s got Sami and Sami says he’s got Jey. If Jey needs anything, Sami will have his back. They shake and Sami heads out. Will Jey be able to keep Roman Reigns from learning about this? Or has Sami already failed his final test before it’s even begun?

 

Rey Mysterio VS Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett Bordeaux!

On the eve of the Royal Rumble, the King of Lucha may be on the eve of his destruction! Mr. & Mrs. Doomsday have been after Rey, claiming he is past his prime and needs to be put out of his misery. Will time run out for one of the greatest ever? Or will Rey prove he’s still one of the greatest ever and be rolling into the Rumble?

The bell rings and Kross circles with Rey. They tie up, Kross THROWS Rey aside, then he grins as he watches Rey get up. Fans boo while Kross and Rey approach. Rey waistlocks, Kross elbows free, but Rey runs to dropkick a leg out! Rey runs, tilt-o-whirls and RANAS Kross! But Kross gets up to CLOBBER Rey! Fans boo but Kross TOSSES Rey up and out, a la Rumble elimination! Kross then goes out, scoops Rey, but Rey slips off to POST Kross! Rey gets in the ring, slides and SUNSET BOMBS Kross into barriers! Scarlett is upset but fans fire up as SmackDown goes to break.

SmackDown returns and Kross whips Rey hard into a corner! Kross reels Rey in for a pump handle scoop and BACKBREAKER! Fans boo while Rey writhes and Kross snarls. Kross pushes Rey to a cover, TWO! Rey is showing that legendary toughness, but Kross stalks him to a corner. Kross hoists Rey up top backwards, climbs up behind him, and wants after the mask! Rey throws elbows and Kross stumbles down! Rey adjusts, but Kross trips him up! Rey is in a Tree of Woe and Kross goes corner to corner! Rey sits up and Kross POSTS himself! Kross staggers away, Rey gets free, but Kross blocks a boot! But the ENZIGURI hits!

Kross ends up on ropes, Rey dials it up but Scarlett swipes at him! Fans boo, Scarlett is mad, but Kross runs in. Rey dropkicks Kross’ legs out and Kross ends up on ropes! Rey redials, for the 619! Fans fire up and Rey climbs the corner! FROG SPLASH! Cover, TWO!! Kross survives Rey’s best and shouts, “NO!” Fans rally for Rey but Scarlett coaches Kross up. Kross stands, he drags Rey up and reels him in. NORTHERN LIGHTS! Bridge to a float, but Rey hits a crucifix takedown! REY WINS!!

Winner: Rey Mysterio, by pinfall

Kross is shocked! He didn’t get out in time and he just lost! Rey survives the apocalypse here, but what about the Men’s Royal Rumble tomorrow night? Will Rey be the one to turn back time and find a way to WrestleMania? Or has he only bought himself 24 hours of reprieve?

 

Damage CTRL speaks.

It’s a WWE Digital Exclusive as Bayley says, “Ding dong, hello! Ahahaha! After what happened on Monday night, I gotta say that Damage Control is feeling really confident joining the Royal Rumble tomorrow night.” Dakota Kai says she feels “so sorry for all the other competitors,” because once these three get in the ring and work together, it’s going to be near impossible for anyone else to win! Iyo Sky says that tomorrow, “everyone finds out who runs WWE!” Kai says it’s them. DMG CTRL is getting in on the Rumble, will they make sure one of them is headed to WrestleMania?

 

Austin Theory is here!

The WWE United States Champion is still The Now, but only because Brock Lesnar cost Bobby Lashley again. Theory doesn’t care, though, the Raw superstar smiles and heads to the ring while fans boo. What will Theory have to say on the SmackDown before the Royal Rumble? We find out, after the break.

SmackDown returns and fans continue to boo Theory. Theory has a mic to say, “The champ! Is! HERE~!” Fans boo his Cena knockoff but Theory says not only did he retain his US Championship on Raw 30, but now, NOW, because we are in The Now, Theory is going straight to the Royal Rumble, and “Mr. All Day” will WIN the Royal Rumble! But then the NEW DAY shows up! Fans fire up as Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston strut out with mics of their own. Kofi says, “Now, now, now, now, hold up. Austin Theory. Now there’s only three Austins that I respect. That’s Austin Creed, Stone Cold Steve, and the city where I live, right here in the great state of Texas, BABYYY~!”

Fans cheer and Woods tells Austin the guy that he’s a Raw superstar. Raw is the three hour show, but that’s where there’s more time to fill so Theory can spend it flapping his gums and wasting time. But here on SmackDown, the two-hour and efficient show, they have to get to business! IMMEDIATELY! IMMEDIAMENTE! IMMEDIATE, BOY! The New Day get in the ring and say now hold on. Did Mr. All Day just talk about how he thinks he’s gonna win the Rumble? Yes, that’s exactly what he said. The New Day has a good laugh there. But if not Austin Theory, then who? Who who who who? That’d be Woods & Kofi, AKA YA BOIS THE NEW~ DAY~!

That is because when one of them wins the Rumble, we ALL~ win the Royal Rumble! Fans cheer that, but Theory says, “That’s what you two think?” To get something straight, the New Day interrupts him but do they know who he is? Theory is the biggest star that there is! He is the biggest star in the WWE! But then THE MIZ shows up? Another Raw superstar appears, and the New Day is upset again. Miz says, “Biggest star in WWE? Let me explain something to you, Theory. I’ve been competing in Royal Rumble matches before you hit puberty.” BURN! Theory says that just means Miz is old. “Older, wiser, smarter, better than you will ever be.”

New Day is enjoying Miz tearing into Theory as Miz explains that tomorrow, Miz throws Theory and 28 others over the top rope to win the one thing in this business Miz has yet to win, and that is the Royal Rumble match! Fans are torn but the New Day laughs. Miz says that’s fine, but he says that there is NOTHING more dangerous than Miz with, uh, something on his shoulder. A chip? Yes, well, here’s an education on what’s going to happen tomorrow. But then Miz and Theory go after New Day! Was this a fake out?! But then here comes BOBBY LASHLEY! The All Mighty is a Raw star but he CLOBBERS the Raw stars!

Woods says that’s awesome! He high-fives Lashley, but then Lashley ELBOWS Woods! And SPINEBUSTERS Kofi! And COMPLETE SHOT for The Miz! Lashley aims at Theory, SPEAR!! The wrath of the Rocky Mountain Machine has struck and Laredo is all for it! Lashley says since Lesnar interrupted his US Championship match on Raw 30, Lashley will terrorize every one of the guys in the Royal Rumble until he gets what he deserves! But then LESANR jumps in from the crowd!! He fireman’s carries Lashley to hit an F5!! The Beast is sneakier than anyone knew, and Lesnar says he’ll see Lashley at the Rumble! Wait, Lesnar is getting in the Rumble?! Is he going to WIN the Royal Rumble again to go back to WrestleMania?!

 

Rhea Ripley speaks.

“Mami is here. And I am ready for the Royal Rumble tomorrow. I’ve had my fair share of Royal Rumble matches, and I’ve come extremely close. But 2023 is the Year of Mami. It’s the Year of Rhea Ripley, ’cause I am Rhea bloody Ripley and I am gonna win the 2023 Royal Rumble and punch my golden ticket to WrestleMania.” Will the Judgment Day’s leading lady eradicate all competition to head to Hollywood?

 

Lacey Evans VS Jazmin Allure!

The Model Soldier has finished retraining her mind and body, and now she’s back in action! Will she get back on track just in time for the road to WrestleMania?

The bell rings, Allure rallies the fans and ties up with Lacey. Lacey puts Allure in the corner, TOSSES her across the way, then soaks up the heat. Allure runs in but into a drop toehold! Lacey SLAMS Allure off the mat, then talks trash while doing push-ups. Allure storms up, they tie up, and Lacey wrenches to wristlock. Allure rolls, throws a hand but Lacey blocks to wrench, roll and wrench, to BOOT Allure down! Lacey soaks up the heat and flexes as she storms up to Allure. Lacey dribbles Allure off the buckles, then lets off. Lacey’s boot fell apart so she grabs the sole. She wants to smack Allure but the ref stops her.

Lacey whips Allure corner to corner, Allure goes up and over and handsprings, but Lacey blocks the kick! Trip and haymaker! Lacey SLAMS Allure’s leg, then scoops her to a fireman’s carry. But Allure rolls Lacey up! TWO, and A WOMAN’S RIGHT! Then the COBRA CLUTCH!! Lacey thrashes Allure, Allure taps, Lacey wins!

Winner: Lacey Evans, by submission

Lacey shows no mercy and no remorse, but also no weakness. “Little Miss Loser Laredo just learned that the Cobra Clutch is unbreakable! Aw, y’all sound so mad. Y’all’re really gonna be mad when I take this bicep, this forearm, lock it around 29 other women, throw ’em over the top at my feet, where they belong! In fact, all you losers here in Laredo can get on your feet and salute your soon-to-be Royal Rumble winner.” Fans boo but Lacey soaks it up. Then Lacey drags Allure up to haul her up and TOSS her out! Allure was just the first, will Lacey complete her mission and eliminate all others?

 

Backstage interview with Sheamus & Drew McIntyre.

Kayla Braxton is with The Celtic Connection and McIntyre says that tonight is a huge night, but so is tomorrow night with the Royal Rumble. He was thinking, it’s Sheamus’ birthday, he’s on a huge run, the Rumble winner is going to be Sheamus! Sheamus says he appreciates that, but McIntyre’s been on quite the run, too. If Sheamus were a betting man, his money would be on McIntyre. Those shoulder smacks get a little hard, but McIntyre says that Sheamus may not have many WrestleManias left in him. Plus, he’s been putting on banger after banger, it should be Sheamus. Sheamus has more Manias in the bag than McIntyre, so he votes for McIntyre.

Again, these two are hitting each other a bit hard as they go back and forth saying the other is going to win, they’re almost chopping each other! Kayla has them stop and says they’re up against Hit Row tonight. Right, right. The plan is that Hit Row gets sent back to Skid Row. When the lads are in town, they put on banger! After banger! After banger! Sheamus & McIntyre head out, but will tonight’s banger hit the top of the charts? Or will Top Dolla & Ashante THEE Adonis be the ones dropping the beat down?

 

The story of Cody Rhodes’ return continues.

Five months ago, Cody started on his rehab. He wants to not only make his comeback at the Royal Rumble, he wants to win the Royal Rumble. It feels like it has taken 16 years to get to this point. Not only recovering from injury, but carrying the history of everywhere Cody has been. His first run in WWE, him leaving, and him returning. All the doubt, all the struggle, all the sacrifice, all the heartache. When you’re in the ring and in the moment, you know exactly why it’s working. He was born for this.

Cody is in the prime of his career, only to hit rock bottom. “No human being could’ve kept me from getting in that ring. I looked up at the lights enough, whether that be in the ring or on a table, ready to have surgery.” As his Nightmare Factory mantra says: Put in the work. The doctors know he has the determination to get back, but Cody has to respect nature of the human body. Cody wants us to picture that moment where you’re that close to success, to vindication. And for it to get broken, that was a legitimate knife to the heart.

But at the Royal Rumble, a torn pec, two torn pecs, torn quads, nothing short of his heart failing will stop him. Being in the ring is like oxygen, and Cody wants to breathe again. Cody is putting in the work, envisioning his return. He wants everyone to get off the mountain, because he has made it clear what he wants and why he is going to do it. The American Nightmare is just 24 HOURS AWAY, will he make this the biggest comeback in WWE history?

 

SmackDown Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Tournament, Semifinal: Drew McIntyre & Sheamus VS Hit Row!

The Celtic Connection conquered the Viking Raiders in the first round while Dolla & Adonis dealt with Los Lotharios. The finals are on the horizon, will McIntyre & Sheamus be able to focus on this tournament with the Rumble up next? Or will they end up being checked off the Hit Row hit list next?

Speaking of the Viking Raiders, Erik & Ivar attack Sheamus & McIntyre during their entrance! Fans boo as the sore losers beat down the winners! Ivar sends Sheamus into the apron, then he and Erik mug McIntyre. They RAM McIntyre into barriers, then they mug Sheamus! And the RAM him into more barriers! Erik KNEES Sheamus, then he KNEES McIntyre! Ivar then adds a SPLASH on Sheamus! And a SPLASH on McIntyre! Fans boo, security and referees, and even Adam Pearce, rush out! The Viking Raiders leave, having done the damage. Will this semifinal match still happen? We’ll see, after the break.

SmackDown returns and Hit Row make their entrance. We see footage from the commercial that McIntyre & Sheamus stormed off to find the Vikings! Pearce tried talking sense to them, but he’s back to talk to Hit Row. Yes, we all saw what happened but he is explained that Sheamus & McIntyre will not be competing tonight. They voluntarily gave up their positions, but no one is getting a free pass. Hit Row is upset, but they must compete against the replacement team of… BRAUN STROWMAN & RICOCHET!! Dolla is pissed, but karma has come back to bite them! Will the Monster of All Monsters and the King of Flight change Hit Row’s plans?

SmackDown Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Tournament, Semifinal: Braun Strowman & Ricochet VS Hit Row!

The teams sort out and Adonis starts against Ricochet. Fans fire up as the two circle, and Adonis swings. Ricochet dodges, fires hands on Adonis, then CHOPS him! Ricochet brings Adonis around to UPPERCUT! Ricochet whips, Adonis reverses but Ricochet CLOBBERS Adonis! Ricochet rains down fists, then talks trash on Dolla. Ricochet drags Adonis up, scoops and SLAMS, then runs to elbow drop! Cover, ONE!! Ricochet stays on Adonis, brings him around as he talks trash to Dolla, and whips again. Adonis reverses but Ricochet rolls over his back, rolls under the lariat and rolls back to RANA! And DROPKICK!

Adonis bails out, fans fire up and Ricochet builds speed, but Dolla stands on his way. Ricochet asks Michael Cole what this is about but Dolla says Cole won’t do anything. So Ricochet ENZIGURIS! Dolla falls, B-Fab is upset, but Dolla is furious! Dolla runs in but the ref tells him to stand down. But then B-Fab anchors Ricochet’s foot! Adonis runs in to AIR-DROP! Cover, TWO! Adonis rains down fists then throws knees! Adonis CLUBS away on Ricochet, the fans boo, but Adonis talks trash. Adonis drags Ricochet up to UPPERCUT, then he tags Dolla. Hit Row coordinate, whip and RAM! Then feed to a BOOT! Dolla covers, TWO!

Dolla keeps on Ricochet, talks trash to Braun, and then drags Ricochet. Dolla CHOKES Ricochet on the ropes, tags Adonis, and Adonis runs to STRADDLE ATTACK! Adonis soaks up the heat while he stays on Ricochet. The ref counts, Adonis lets off, but B-Fab gets a cheap shot in! Adonis covers, TWO! Fans rally for Ricochet as Adonis clamps on a chinlock. Ricochet endures, fights up, but Adonis throws him down by his beard! Tag to Dolla, Adonis drags Ricochet up by his ear. Hit Row mug Ricochet, then Adonis tags in again. They mug Ricochet more, then Adonis scoops to SLAM Ricochet! Braun coaches Ricochet as Adonis drops an elbow.

Adonis taunts, but Ricochet rolls him up! TWO, Ricochet whips Adonis but Adonis reverses! Ricochet BOOTS back, reaches out, but Adonis corners him! Ricochet dodges the haymaker but Adonis grabs an arm! Ricochet fires haymakers, but swings into a back suplex! Ricochet lands on his feet, ducks the haymaker, hot tag to Braun! Braun TOSSES Adonis, BLASTS Dolla, then BOOTS Adonis! Braun runs corner to corner to SPLASH Adonis! Dolla gets in, Braun dodges to then clothesline Dolla up and out! Fans fire up as Braun throws off his shirt! Braun whips to BACK DROP Adonis! Laredo is thunderous as Braun drags Adonis back up!

Ricochet returns, he builds speed and FLIES to take out Dolla! Braun gives Adonis a MONSTER BOMB!! Cover, Braun & Ricochet win!

Winners: Braun Strowman & Ricochet, by pinfall (advance to the finals)

Things just got a whole lot wilder for this tournament! The strength of Braun, the speed of Ricochet, will there be any stopping these two from taking the SmackDown Tag Team Championships?

 

Backstage interview with Kevin Owens.

Kayla is with the Prizefighter, noting that while tomorrow night, he faces Roman Reigns, why is he risking it all to take on “one of the most vicious members of the Bloodline” in Solo Sikoa here tonight? Kevin is doing this because tomorrow night, he wants to become Universal Champion. Kevin wants to right a wrong that happened two years ago at the Royal Rumble. That night, that title was Kevin’s. But on that night, Roman, Heyman and The Bloodline did everything they could to screw Kevin over. Tomorrow will be no different. When in these last three years has Roman done anything on his own?

So if Kevin is to win, he has to take out as many members of the Bloodline as he can tonight, starting with Solo. But speaking of, the Usos storm up. Security already rushes in to stop the brawl! Pearce tells them all to stay back, they’re not screwing up another match tonight! Kevin mockingly asks where their cousin is, but his match is coming! Will Kevin be able to focus on Solo when Solo isn’t alone?

 

The Usos are escorted out of the building.

They say Pearce is tripping. They didn’t even start the fight. But it’s all good. The Usos return to their car, but Jey makes a quick call. “Yo, my dawg. You still in town? Alright, I need a favor. Yeet.” Did Jey just make a call to Sami?! Is Sami going to defy Roman’s orders to help Jey protect Solo?

 

Bray Wyatt’s old music hits!?

Fans fire up for the classic Eater of Worlds to make his way out here, but… Wait, that’s not Bray Wyatt. That’s LA KNIGHT cosplaying Bray Wyatt! And he’s even got a tiny lantern… Fans boo but Knight says he’s gonna take this stupid crap off. He throws the hat, the shirt, and the undershirt away. “Lemme talk to ya!” Laredo seems to have some LA Knight fans, but Knight says the biggest moment in Raw history happened at Raw 30 when out to the ring walked L A Knight! He heard the fans chant, “Talk To Us!” Who chanted that? But being the benevolent man that he is, he gives us what we want, even when we don’t deserve it.

“And then like the turd in the punch bowl, here comes the Undertaker to assist Bray Wyatt. Why is that? Pipe down, I’m talking.” But why? Because neither of them wanted this guy 1v1! YEAH! “YEAH!” Pipe down, Knight’s talking! Bray, you have 24 hours until the Pitch Black match. So bring every bit of advice Taker whispered into your ear. Come down as whatever version of yourself that gives you the tingle in your loins! Cuz this right here? This is your future: Torn up and laid out! “Because when the Alamo Dome goes Pitch Black, your dumpy ass ain’t coming back! And that’s not an insult, that is just a fact of life! YEAH!”

But then Bray Wyatt appears on stage! He sits in the rocking chair and laughs. He sees Knight making jokes, but they both know that Knight ain’t smiling on the inside. “But here’s the thing, man. It doesn’t even matter anymore! The time for talking has come and gone. Tomorrow night at the Royal Rumble, you will finally get to meet the man that you’ve been looking for.” Fans like the sound of that! “So take your time tonight, man. Have a great night, sweetheart. Laugh it up, joke all you want, because tomorrow night, when the lights go out, oh… You’ll see.” Bray laughs, but UNCLE HOWDY is in the upper deck!

Knight tells Bray to keep it to the two of them, but Howdy nods and waves his hand around. Is the Pitch Black match going to be more than a 1v1?

 

SmackDown Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Tournament, Semifinal: Imperium VS Legado Del Fantasma!

Now that we know it will be Braun Strowman & Ricochet in the finals, the winner here has their work cut out for them. But even so, will Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci make Der Ring General proud? Or will Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde win this one for the Emperor, Santos Escobar?

The teams sort out and Ludwig starts against Wilde. Vega stays ringside to coach her team as Wilde and Ludwig tie up. They go around, Ludwig puts Wilde in the corner, then lets off. Wilde avoids the haymaker and gets an arm, but Ludwig chinbars to headlock, then wrench. Ludwig hammerlocks the arm but Wilde endures. Wilde kneels, fans rally, and Wilde fights up to hammerlock in return. Ludwig switches the hold back on, then knuckle locks. Wilde CHOPS, he goes up and up, but doesn’t hit the smoothest arm-drag. Things still speed up, Wilde ducks ‘n’ dodges, then tilt-o-whirls, only for Ludwig to DECK him!

Cruz and Vega coach Wilde but Vinci tags in. Vinci headlocks and grinds Wilde’s head but Wilde endures. Wilde throws body shots but Vinci CLUBS him down! Vinci drags Wilde up, whips him to a corner, but he avoids the up ‘n’ over. Vinci back suplexes, Wilde lands on his feet! Hot tag to Cruz! Fans cheer as Cruz leaps over, then JABS, JABS, and feints to run, slide and CHOP! Vinci brushes that off, and he blocks a kick to short arm LARIAT! Cover, TWO! Cruz crawls but Vinci drags him up. Vinci chicken wings, Ludwig tags in, and Imperium mugs Cruz. Ludwig stalks Cruz to a corner, then brings him into a chinlock.

The ref counts as they’re in the corner, and Ludwig lets off. But Cruz JABS, JABS and CHOPS! Ludwig runs in but into a BOOT! Cruz goes up and leaps, but Ludwig DECKS him! Ludwig rains down fists, then rains down headbutts! Fans boo but Ludwig eggs Cruz on. Ludwig BOOTS Wilde for good measure, but Cruz ROCKS him with forearms! Cruz SOBATS, but Ludwig grabs onto the tights! Ludwig brings Cruz around, but Cruz PELES him away! Hot tag to Wilde! Vinci runs in but Wilde shoulders him away! And slingshot Arabian Press arm-drag! Cruz DROPKICKS Ludwig out! LDF builds speed, but into DOUBLE LARIATS! Imperium stands tall as SmackDown goes to break.

SmackDown returns, Wilde fires forearms on Ludwig! But Ludwig UPPERCUTS! Wilde ends up on ropes, Ludwig drags him up and whips him to the corner. Ludwig runs in but he blocks the boot. “NEIN!” UPPERCUT! GAMANGIRI! Ludwig snap suplexes Wilde, then takes his time pacing around him. Ludwig runs to PENALTY KICK! Cover, TWO! Cruz and Vega coach Wilde but Ludwig clamps on a chinlock. Ludwig shifts to a cravat but fans rally. Vinci tags in, Imperium mugs Wilde. Vega is stinging from that CHOP, and then Vinci scoop SLAMS Wilde! Cover, TWO! Vinci tags Ludwig back in and they mug Wilde more.

Ludwig toys with Wilde but Wilde CHOPS back! And uppercuts! And uppercuts again! Ludwig kicks low, then shouts “NEIN!” Fans boo as Ludwig whips, but Wilde reverses and jumps on to TORNADO DDT! Fans fire up while both men are down! Ludwig and Wilde crawl for their corners, hot tags to Vinci and Cruz! Cruz springboards to CROSSBODY Vinci! Cruz keeps moving, ducks ‘n ‘dodges, then tilt-o-whirl RANAS! Vinci ends up in a corner, Cruz runs in to GAMANGIRI! Cruz whips corner to corner, Vinci reverses, but Cruz slips out to the apron! Vinci only gets buckles, but Ludwig runs in! Cruz GAMANGIRIS!

Cruz springboards to DOUBL EMISSILE DROPKICK! Imperium flops out, LDF builds speed, DOUBLE TOPE CONJILO!! Direct hit on Imperium and Cruz puts Vinci in! Vinci staggers to a corner, Cruz runs in but into an elbow! Vinci goes up, but Cruz handsprings to GAMANGIRI! Vinci wobbles, Cruz slingshots up to SUPER STEINER Vinci down! Tag to Wilde and he goes up top to SPRINGBOARD SPLASH! Cover, Ludwig breaks it! Laredo can’t believe it and neither can Vega! Vega calms down, though, and coaches her team. Fans rally up as Imperium regroups. Ludwig grabs at Wilde but Cruz fires off CHOPS on him!

Cruz CHOPS but LUdwig shoves! Cruz comes back, RANAS Ludwig right out! Then Cruz builds speed to slide!

Ludwig gets under, scoops and SLAMS Cruz on the floor! Vinci and Wilde meet up top and Vinci CLUBS Wilde! And then SUPER MILITARY PRESS!! But Vinci clutches his leg! He crawls, tags in Ludwig, and Ludwig drags Wilde up with a chinbar. Vinci hobbles over, Ludwig grins, and they set up. Vinci gets Wilde up and Ludwig is up top, IMPERIAL BOMB!! Cover, Imperium wins!

Winners: Imperium, by pinfall

A hard fought battle in both styles and cultures, but it is the Impeccable German and Pride of Italy who won out. Will they be able to make the mat sacred, even though they’re going against the Monster and the Flyer?

 

Xia Li speaks.

“I have more skills than any woman in this match. So looking past me is not only dangerous, but painful.” Will the Protector truly become the Eliminator in the Women’s Royal Rumble?

 

WWE shares footage of Charlotte Flair being on Ryan Satin’s Out of Character podcast.

But it was interrupted by guess who? Sonya Deville. Sonya applauded Ryan for asking the “big questions,” but then she was escorted away by security. Will Sonya ever stop this obsession with the SmackDown Women’s Champion?

 

Adam Pearce meets with Charlotte.

She knows he is having a busy day, and he says yes, because now he has to deal with Fox and how they were upset by Sonya’s stunt. Charlotte knows, Sonya is really annoying and opportunities are earned, not given. But she also has to hand it to Sonya, she’s persistent. That’s not the word Pearce would use. Well, Charlotte is just trying to be positive. But Charlotte will give Sonya a match. It’ll even be a title match. Wait, Charlotte wants to give Sonya a title match? Yes. Is she sure? Charlotte will put an exclamation point on this once and for all. Well, if she wants to do that, they’ll do it next week on SmackDown.

Charlotte thanks Pearce, high-gives him, and heads out. So now, win or lose in the Royal Rumble, Sonya gets a shot on the first SmackDown on the Road to WrestleMania! Will Sonya make the most of this opportunity? Or will she lose with Flair?

 

Kevin Owens VS Solo Sikoa!

The Prizefighter has been fighting against The Bloodline for years now, so he knows what they’re all about. The Usos were ejected from the building, and The Tribal Chief isn’t here tonight, so will Kevin have a truly 1v1 match with the Enforcer of the Island? Or will a certain Honorary Uce do his dawg a solid?

The bell rings and Kevin fires hands with Solo right away! Fans fire up, Kevin stomps Solo’s toes and then headlocks. Solo powers out but Kevin RAMS shoulders with him. Neither man moves, fans fire up, and Kevin runs to RAM Solo again! Solo roars, Kevin dares him to try then. Solo runs, they RAM shoulders, and no one moves. Kevin runs, RAMS Solo, Solo rebounds to RAM Kevin, repeat! They go back and forth, shoulder for shoulder, and then Kevin drops to CLOBBER Solo! And SENTON! Fans fire up with Kevin as Solo goes to a corner. Kevin runs in, but Solo slips out of the ring. Fans boo but Kevin just slides out the side!

Kevin storms up on Solo but Solo picks him up! Solo RAMS Kevin into the barrier! And then POSTS him! And then runs him into more barriers! The Street Champion stands over the Prizefighter while SmackDown goes to break.

SmackDown returns again and Solo has Kevin in a chinlock. Kevin fights up as fans rally, and he throws body shots! Solo HEADBUTTS Kevin down! Kevin ends up in a corner, Solo goes to the opposite, and Solo runs in, to only get buckles! Kevin stands up, he ROCKS Solo with haymaker after haymaker, then whips. Solo reverses but Kevin kicks him! Solo roars, but Kevin hits an atomic drop and a LARIAT! Kevin rallies on Solo, but Solo blocks a lariat to HEADBUTT! Only for Kevin to kick low and DDT! Cover, TWO! Solo is tough but Kevin stomps him down. Kevin climbs up a corner and fans fire up. But Solo UPPERCUTS Kevin first!

Solo climbs up after Kevin, gives him more HEADBUTTS, and then brings Kevin up. Solo tells Kevin he’s not making it to the Rumble! But Kevin throws body shots! And a HEADBUTT of his own! And another! And then an ELBOW! Solo falls back, Kevin adjusts, FROG SPLASH! Cover, TWO! Kevin keeps his focus as Solo survives. Kevin waits on Solo to stand and fans rally up. Solo staggers, into a SUPERKICK! Solo wobbles, to SUPERKICK in return! Kevin SUPERKICKS again! And then kicks low, but no Stunner! Solo SAMOAN DROPS! Cover, TWO! Kevin survives but Solo seethes. Fans rally for Kevin but Solo shakes his head.

Kevin crawls to a corner, Solo aims from the opposite end. Solo runs in, but Kevin dodges again! The splash hits post! Kevin SUPERKICKS Solo! And SUPERKICKS him again! Kevin says “SUCK IT!” and runs corner to corner, CANNONBALL! Solo is down but Kevin climbs up! SWANTON BOMB! Cover, SAMI helps Solo get out of the ring?!? Fans can’t believe it and Kevin is just as shocked! Fans chant “UCEY! UCEY!” but Kevin storms out to get in Sami’s face. Solo aims, Kevin dodges, the SUPERKICK hits Sami! Kevin ROCKS Solo and RAMS him into steel steps! Kevin sees the announce desk, and he clears it off!

Kevin goes back for Solo, drags him up, and brings him around, only for Solo to POST him! Solo has Kevin on the desk, and he grabs a chair! Solo doesn’t care about winning anymore, he CRACKS Kevin with the chair!

Winner: Kevin Owens, by disqualification

Kevin is on the desk, Solo goes onto the barrier. He’s gonna recreate the splash from last week! But Kevin fires off haymakers! Solo HEADBUTTS, leaps, but into a SUPERKICK! Kevin snarls, Solo returns, but into a POP-UP POWERBOMB onto the desk! The desk doesn’t break, but maybe Solo just did! Kevin grabs the chair! Sami sits up and sees Kevin looking at him! Sami scrambles away, Kevin SMACKS Solo! Solo falls over the barriers, then Kevin puts the chair down in front of Sami. Kevin shouts, “THIS IS MY SHOW!!” Laredo fires up and Kevin tells Roman, “Tomorrow night! Royal Rumble! I’m bringing everything I got! EVERYTHING!!!”

The Prizefighter is furious, and he will certainly bring that fury to San Antonio. Will Kevin #JustKeepFighting until he is finally the reigning, defending, Undisputed WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion?


My Thoughts:

A pretty good SmackDown, but I feel like go-home syndrome reared its ugly head again. We got quite a bit more recap packages than I expected, even though I totally expected them to replay Cody’s newest vignette from Raw, and the 2023 edition of “Royal Rumble: By The Numbers.” And we got good promos from a handful of the women entering this year’s Rumble, but I’m still thinking Rhea wins it all. Good bit from Charlotte to set up a title match with Sonya, so duh, Sonya’s not winning the Rumble, but I don’t see her winning on SmackDown next week, either. And of course Lacey wins her return match, but uh… Is Lacey just gonna have gear that shows more skin every rebrand? Wow…

Really good opener from Rey VS Kross, and I knew Rey was going to win. He and Kross are far from done with this, but Rey had to get some of his momentum back after Kross talked down to him and beat him down just a couple weeks ago. Good promo stuff from Theory, New Day, and Miz, and good brawl that then added Lashley and Lesnar to the mix. I suppose it’s fine for Lashley and Lesnar to fight things out in the Rumble match as opposed to in a separate match at the Royal Rumble. But I foresee them basically cancelling out so that neither one wins, which leads to a WrestleMania match.

Good promo from LA Knight trolling us, and then Bray and Uncle Howdy appearing in response to that. Still no explanation of what a Pitch Black match will be outside of the Anything Goes nature, but fine, whatever, because in the end, it feels like the match could go either way. Knight got beat up on Raw, so go-home math would lean his way, but Uncle Howdy is a wild card. Much like with Alexa and Bianca for the Raw Women’s Championship, Uncle Howdy has been showing up a lot, he could easily be the reason both Alexa and Bray win their matches, and things really build towards WrestleMania with a White Rabbit faction as many fans had anticipated when Bray first returned.

Good promo from Sheamus & McIntyre that keeps adding onto the weird, passive aggressive way these two support each other. But the Vikings attacking Celtic Connection, that’s a lame way to take them out of the tournament. At least, in the semifinals. If it’d happened in the finals, it’d feel a bit better. And with the way the Bloodline story is going, you could still get Face VS Heel in Usos VS Imperium, but maybe that’s not the plan. Legado Del Fantasma got the Face treatment by Laredo, and even had that in NXT, it wouldn’t be so hard to make them the Faces that face Heel Usos. But Braun & Ricochet is a good team, so I guess it’s fine for them to step in and take the tournament. Because yes, I’m pretty sure they’re in to win against Imperium like they did against Hit Row tonight.

And speaking of the Bloodline’s story, great stuff out of them tonight. Sami showing up despite Roman’s orders was a nice touch, and of course it comes into play with the main event. The Usos being barred from ringside, Jey making the call, and Sami doing his best to come through for Jey was all good stuff. Roman was away because he was scheduled for Jimmy Fallon tonight, so it can work in reality and kayfabe that Roman won’t know what happened until, well, right about now. Sami’s “final test” is still unknown, but this could be a kayfabe reason for Roman to “escalate” what he had planned. Screwing over Kevin after Kevin just spared Sami would still be an obvious way to go, but maybe there will be something out of the box in store.

My Score: 8.4/10


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