Does the Roman love continue in Philadelphia? Andrew gives us his take for WWE Raw and SmackDown Live!
How do we build off the return of the Big Dog? Does the inevitable Shield reunion happen again? Does Baron Corbin stop sucking?
I could also ask questions about SmackDown, but we all know they’ll cover their bases. Yay SmackDown!
Well let’s get to the WWE stuff.
- Finn Balor, Braun Strowman & Kurt Angle vs Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley: Lashley wins via Spear – ** 1/4
- Natalya vs Ruby Riott: Nattie wins via Roll Up – ¾
- Gauntlet Match: Heavy Machinery vs B Team, The Ascension & Hawkins & Ryder: Heavy Machinery beats all of them – * 3/4
- Elias vs Dean Ambrose: Elias wins via Drift Away – **
- Tamina vs Sasha Banks: Tamina wins via Superkick – * 1/2
- Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Revival (c) vs Aleister Black & Ricochet: Revival retain via DQ – **
SAMOAN SEX MACHINE! He struts out to a chorus of cheers in Philly, so you know the game has flipped. Talks about the Universal Title picture and calls out Seth, regarding some kind of hurdle. Seth thinks it’s to take his shot at Mania, Roman shrugs that off like “now dumbass I’m happy for you”, but he wants to get the band back together since Ambrose might be leaving. This is a very relatable and real angle since we’ve all had buddies that we wish we could chill with one last time, or want one last party before going separate ways. Ambrose comes out and gets blinded sided by an Elias guitar.
We get the 6 man, that really feels like filler. Still not sure why they’re using Angle so often when he’s not really involved directly in an angle, but it keeps them all relevant for Fastlane and the Road to Mania…so whatever. As much as I hate Lio, he did have decent timing on a trip and got murdered through the barricade, so those were kind of highlights to an uninteresting match.
Backstage with Heavy Machinery and the losers of the tag division teasing Dozer, causing Dozer to break goofy character and say something like “I’m sensitive”. This is dumb and bad comedy attempts with the bottom of the barrel for the tag division. So why do I care? Oh yeah, I don’t.
Nattie rolls up Ruby. So the woman they tried to make look like a contender for Ronda, got smashed at Chamber, had a slightly better showing the following Monday but lost and now loses to Natty who hasn’t really been setting the world on fire lately. So I don’t even know what to make of this. Judging from Twitter maybe Nattie will be Lacey Evans first challenge, but blah, Lacey walking out was the best thing about this.
Two imbeciles from SNL, which is a shell of itself, will be the guest hosts or something for Mania, and they had to be at Raw tonight. Jost is an overacting loser who’s about as funny as a fire in an old folks home. Everything involving them was painful, I won’t mention them again.
Triple H cuts a promo on Batista. Now I’ll lead by saying, it wasn’t bad…but it also was formulaic. A few 4th wall breaks, ‘inside jokes’ and a raise in intensity to prove he means business is basically every Triple H promo the last few years. Again, not bad, but nothing that struck me as poignant.
Oh now we get the Gauntlet of Losers. This is basically WWE’s version of the Home For Infinite Losers (Dragonball Z fans will appreciate that). Again, I don’t care, of course Heavy Machinery goes over…but it doesn’t matter and wasn’t even good.
Torrie Wilson officially inducted into the Hall of Fame. Anyone questioning why doesn’t really understand that WWE doesn’t have a criteria, so anyone that moved the needle is eligible and Torrie was a big draw regardless of why. So don’t diminish her effect on late Attitude Era/Ruthless Aggression era.
Charlotte…ugh…while I’ll admit she has presence, she has horrid delivery. I can’t stand her promos most of the time, this is one of those times.
Elias actually gets through his anti-Philly song! It was great. The match was alright as well. One of the best ones of the night, though that’s not saying much. Elias has great timing on the Jumping Knee he’s been using. It seems to hit well every time.
Shield time, it takes a while and a few dumb jump cuts to get there, but we get the 646845516846th Shield Reunion in 18 months. While I do understand why and I’m happy in a way for the people, I really don’t care. The match will be alright, and a smart way to ease Roman back into the ring, but I’m not expecting much beyond maybe the first drop in the bucket for the rumored Ambrose vs Reigns match at WrestleMania.
Whoever didn’t see Roode and Gable interfering after how insulted they’ve been the last few weeks – need their eyesight checked. The match was cut short before it got moving well. Black and Ricochet do their poses after some jawing to Roode and Gable, ok. Poses are cool I get it, the Power Rangers have dazzled 10 year olds for 25 years with that.
Okay so Hold Harmless signing. I like the usage of the same form since we’ve heard it in NXT and two years ago with Rollins and Triple H. So I have no problem with them sticking with something in the vernacular that people have grown to expect. Also the funny thing is usually the one signing the Hold Harmless wins the match.
Ronda showing up was fine, she’s right she never vacated the belt, she just walked off and left it. I had no issue with her getting mad, cutting the Heel affirmation promo where she’s done trying for fans since they don’t want her anyway. Yes she blitzed through the promo, but when she’s angry and frustrated, talking faster applies. Plus I think the “Damn the Man, Screw the Woo, No more Mrs. Nice Bitch” is her best line ever. The beat down went long and got a little odd at times, but regardless, I enjoyed that.
Overall Score: 4.5/10
Slightly below average because hell, even if I’m happy for Roman and his buddies…it’s still a hollow story that feels overdone. Plus the in-ring product was pretty lame, the SNL guys were like swallowing nails and made the show worse. Hell if I didn’t like the ending portion as much as I did, it would’ve probably tracked lower. Not a great episode, but not overly awful, just a chore to get through.
- The Miz vs Jey Uso: Miz wins via Skull Crushing Finale – * 1/2
- United States Championship Fatal 4 Way: R-Truth (c) vs Andrade vs Rey Mysterio vs Samoa Joe: Joe wins via Coquina Clutch – *** ½ – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Aleister Black & Ricochet vs The Bar: Riochet wins via 630 Senton – ** 1/2
- Naomi vs Mandy Rose: Rose wins via Bed of Roses– N/A
- Rowan vs Kevin Owens: Owens wins via DQ – N/A
Daniel Bryan opens things doing the smarmy heel thing well. Granted the fact all he’s got are fat jokes for Owens is lame, and I liked that when Owens came out even he made mention of that too. Daniel wasn’t overly clever but the opening segment was fine and caused a showdown with Rowan and Owens that set up a match for later.
The Usos are fantastic. They have a rap like flow to their promos, go back and forth in a playful way and even put Shane over a little with the shoe game comment. When Miz and Shane come out, they try to basically do the white version of the Usos’ back and forth and it comes off clunky and comical, which is the point. The match was fine, just a lot of extra stuff going on to help with the story and to make us think Shane and Miz have a shot. It set things up logically.
R-Truth returns with the Open Challenge since his hero John Cena keeps inspiring him. Joe, Andrade and Rey come out and before Truth can say anything, the announcers says it’s a Fatal 4-Way. It’s a damn good match, a lot of stuff going on, a few near falls with everyone looking good. Samoa Joe finally takes advantage of his situation and grabs his first main roster championship. Bout damn time!
Joe has an interview afterwards and the fact that he says he will be the anti-Cena basically, foreshadows towards Cena vs Joe for WrestleMania. It’s just a guess, but with all the mentions, it’s probably going to happen.
The thrown together NXT tag team and former champions. The match was fine, but I am a little annoyed at the constant wins. I get that they are a team for the Dusty Classic, so this helps to legitimize them on multiple levels, but with no real set up, no emotional connection to these characters…this streak comes off super flat. Hopefully Ricochet and Black lose at Fastlane, but it ends up being Revival pinning Roode or Gable. Cause these wins for the sake of winning does nothing for me.
Mandy and Naomi, well…sure. Corey has a good line regarding Naomi looking like she should be directing traffic (all yellow outfit). That was the most entertaining part of the match too since one distraction later, Bed of Roses and the match is over. Asuka shows up as the Sonya and Mandy are walking off victories and beats on them. So that’s always nice.
AJ Styles being the consummate good guy, Orton makes a snide remark that isn’t really wrong. I like the slower build to this eventual match.
Well yeah, Daniel Bryan gets involved after repeating coward like 13 times. So Daniel was just unoriginal as hell tonight, DQ happens. Mustafa Ali shows up to make the save, which is nice since we haven’t seen him since before Elimination Chamber. I think we all wanted Sami Zayn, but Ali isn’t bad for now.
Charlotte calls out Becky and well, honestly I usually bash Charlotte’s promos but she wasn’t bad here. The condescending bitchy tone and cadence worked well. Becky is still over huge, took the beating in stride, shook it off in her promo and when the brawl happened she even got the best of Charlotte and put her in the Fujiwara. So this is really the only match that is a question mark at Fastlane.
Overall Score: 7/10
Above average show, a few slower/redundant moments hurt the show from being really good. But in typical SmackDown fashion, they advance stories just enough and logically to make people happy. Plus we got a title change and a solid match out the show. This is just such a more streamlined product. Fox should be happy with what they’re getting.
Greg DeMarco: Box Office Brock Lesnar And The New WWE
After a hard-hitting WWE Money In The Bank, Greg DeMarco offers perspective on Brock Lesnar winning the Money In The Bank briefcase and the obvious shift in the WWE product & presentation.
I know you read that headline and wondered what in the hell I was smoking. Brock Lesnar leaves Hartford with the Money In The Bank briefcase, and I’m calling it a new WWE? I have to be insane, right? Well, that perspective is 100% wrong. (I mean…I may be insane–but not for that reason!) WWE Money In The Bank was shock and awe from start to finish, and you have every reason to be excited. The reactions I am seeing prove that the online community doesn’t want to enjoy WWE. Hopefully, for me, some mainstream fans will read this article too!
Box Office Brock Lesnar
I know what you’re thinking…same ol’ sh*t, right? I can’t say I agree. On the technicality side, Brock Lesnar has never held the Money In The Bank briefcase, so it’s wrong there. But I get it, you’re tired of seeing Brock on top. The truth of it is, he’s Box Office. And WWE needs box office.
What is “Box Office,” exactly? It’s the ability to get fans to spend money, which is how WWE makes money. Brock Lesnar sells the WWE product–to fans, to viewers, to advertisers, and to networks. Wrestling Twitter is a vocal minority, and appeasing them got WWE nowhere with WrestleMania 35, or as I was calling it for the months leading up to it, “HappyMania.” Brock is back, and I think it’s fantastic.
Disagree with me? Great, but the sold out crowd in Hartford blew the roof off the joint when his music hit, so they obviously agree. Brock will likely cash-in in advance, proclaiming his championship opportunity for WWE Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia on June 7. Then we get to give the briefcases a rest, as we continue to shuffle the rosters up and use fun words like Wild Card (bitches…yeehaw!).
One prevailing thought I have seen is that the other seven guys in the match busted their asses for no payoff. I can’t agree with that either–their payoff is a paycheck. They’re businessmen. Those who complain about how they are booked don’t get the business. And as All Elite Wrestling is proving, they don’t take too kindly to people complaining about booking, either.
A New WWE?
I know a lot of people don’t see it, because they’re too worried about booking. But the WWE product shifted tonight. And as dangerous as it is, I hope it sticks.
The product got way more physical at WWE Money In The Bank–way more physical. It started with the Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match, which in reality doesn’t need a gender specific distinction. Money In The Bank describes both ladder matches tonight, as both delivered in both brutality and story. Everyone put their bodies through hell during those matches, and they deserve to be praised.
But it didn’t end there:
- Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe…brutality.
- Shane McMahon vs. The Miz…brutality.
- Tony Nese vs. Ariya Daivari…brutality.
- The entire segment with the Women’s Championships…brutality.
- Roman Reigns vs. Elias…brutality.
- Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles…brutality.
- Lars Sullivan and The Lucha House Party…brutality.
- Kofi Kingston vs. Kevin Owens…say it with me…brutality.
Sense a theme, here? WWE provided a more physical product, and did things that make sense. Yes, there were botches that everyone wants to blame on the refs. In each instance, it appeared to me that the talent messed up, and the commentators covered by blaming the officiating. And that makes sense to me. You didn’t think they were going to blame the wrestlers, did you?
It’s really funny that this comes after AEW reveals that they’ll present a more realistic, athletic oriented product after the onset of their TV deal. It’s probably the single bad move they’ve made (okay, maybe second to the whole PAC/Page ordeal), announcing their plans to the world and giving WWE a heads up on what’s coming so they can beat AEW to it.
Seriously, it’s like they went “Here’s our formula!” without even realizing WWE had a high profile PPV to air 6-days before Double Or Nothing. C’mon guys… #UseYourHead.
At the end, it looks WWE is going back to what works for them: giving the fans what they need, and not what they want. Imagine going to the doctor and misdiagnosing yourself. Would you rather the doctor provides you with what you want and now what you need? You’d sue that doctor for malpractice! It’s getting to be that same way with WWE. Prescribe to us what we need, Vince. Even if we don’t like the taste when it goes down, it’s for the best in the end.
Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 5/19/2019
Best of Super Juniors 26 and Money in the Bank are the big things this week. Let’s see what matches made the cut, and if there were any surprises!
Last week was an interesting week since it wasn’t a normal Top 5 and we had two Sami Callihan matches. When it came down to it though, IMPACT: oVe Rules 8 Man: oVe vs Tommy Dreamer vs Fallah Bahh vs Rich Swann vs Willie Mack, won the vote for the week. I’m always a happy when less popular matches or companies get a fair shake in the rundown.
Either way, let’s see exactly how much New Japan shows up and if anything from Money in the Bank was worth a watch!
5. NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 2: Ryusuke Taguchi vs YOH
Taguchi has been having a crisis of character so to speak. He’s become more of a comedy wrestler who’s history doesn’t really inject respect or fear into his opponents. YOH is up and coming, and was trained by Taguchi in the New Japan Dojo. So YOH is trying to establish himself beyond the tag realm and Taguchi is trying to refind himself.
We saw an interesting match. Taguchi showed a little of both worlds from comedy to more of his extensive moveset. YOH was a walking reference to older wrestlers; he even mastered the Paradise Lock apparently. Taguchi picks up the win with the variation of the Dodon that he used to remove Prince Devitt from New Japan. Very good match.
Winner: Taguchi via Dodon’s Throne
4. NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 4: Will Ospreay vs Rocky Romero
This was a little similar to the earlier Taguchi match. Rocky had something to prove. CHAOS members, and Rocky is perceived as being past his prime, but he wanted to prove he can still hang. It’s been 3 years since his last BOSJ, how does the most decorated Junior Tag wrestler fair against the Aerial Assassin?
We got a great match. Rocky had numerous hope spots, hit the Forever Lariats, his half of Strong Zero and reversed the Stormbreaker first attempt into a legit Huricanrana. Ospreay turned out too be just a little too big, a little too athletic and a Shooting Star Press followed by a Stormbreaker ends this great match. Very good.
Winner: Ospreay via Stormbringer
Rating: **** 1/4
3. IMPACT: Michael Elgin vs Rich Swann
From My Analysis:
So damn this main event went 2 commercial breaks, but it was really solid. Swann wouldn’t stay down and even had great hope spots. A Super Frankensteiner countering the Avalanche Powerbomb, Lethal Injection, 450, but Elgin kicked out. Swann tried a top rope Phoenix Splash, and missed. Elgin hits Splash Mountain, and Rich kicks out. Elgin rolls to the outside, catches Rich and repeatedly Powerbombs him into the post. Kid Ref tries to get the match back in the ring, Elgin pushes Kid Ref and Powerbombs Swann again for posterity. Kid Ref calls for the DQ and then runs for his life. This was a great match, the “non-finish” is rather annoying coming out of a roughly 25 minute match. But love him or hate him, Elgin can wrestle.
Winner: Swann via DQ
Rating: **** 1/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 3: Dragon Lee vs SHO
Winner: Dragon Lee via Desnucadora
WWE MiTB: Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Drew McIntyre vs Baron Corbin vs Finn Balor vs Ricochet vs Andrade vs Randy Orton vs Ali vs Brock Lesnar
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 1: Dragon Lee vs Taiji Ishimori
Winner: Ishimori via Bloody Cross
Rating: *** 3/4
WWE MitB: WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs Kevin Owens
Winner: Kofi via Trouble in Paradise
Rating: *** 1/2
NXT UK: Ligero vs Jordan Devlin
Winner: Devlin via Snap Saito Suplex
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 2: Robbie Eagles vs Rocky Romero
Winner: Eagles via Ron Miller Special
SmackDown Live: Randy Orton vs Finn Balor vs Andrade vs Ali
Winner: Andrade via Hammerlock DDT
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 2: El Phantasmo vs Bandido
Winner: Phantsmo via Greetings from Chasewood Park
205 Live: Tony Nese vs Ligero
Winner: Nese via Running Kneese
WWE Raw: Fall Count Anywhere: Braun Strowman vs Sami Zayn
Winner: Zayn via Claymore
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 4: Ren Narita vs Robbie Eagles
Winner: Eagles via Turbo Backpack
WWE MitB: The Usos vs Rowan & Daniel Bryan
Winner: Usos via Double Uce
2. WWE MitB: Universal Championship: AJ Styles vs Seth Rollins (c)
Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
Now it’s Rollins who has to come up with something else to put Styles away. Fans rally up as Rollins stands. Rollins still has the tried and true, “Burn It Down!” He mule kicks then runs, but Styles dodges to roll Rollins to a Calf Crusher! Rollins endures but Styles cranks back hard! Rollins rolls it back and kicks Styles away! His leg is free but it is hurting! Styles crawls away but Rollins pursues. Styles hops up, moonsault DDT! Cover, TWO!! Rollins escapes with one good leg! Styles gets back up and waits for Rollins. Rollins stands and SUPERKICKS Styles down! Both men are down again, but fans rally and duel again. Styles and Rollins crawl for each other to start throwing hands! Rollins hits, Styles hits, repeat. Rollins CHOPS but Styles punches again.
Fans duel, Styles goes for the Phenomenal Blitz, but Rollins dodges to enziguri! And dodges the Pele! Mule kick! Curb Stomp countered! STYLES CLASH!! Cover, TWO!?! Rollins survives THE Styles Clash?! No one can believe it, but the fans are loving it! Styles grits his teeth as Rollins starts sitting up. Styles goes to the apron, takes aim and springboards. Phenomenal misses! Revolution Knee hits! And then, SUPERKICK! Styles is on his face, but Rollins gets back up! CURB STOMP!! Rollins put so much into that, he has to crawl to a cover! Rollins wins!!
Winner: Rollins via The Stomp
Rating: **** 1/4
1. NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 1: SHO vs Shingo Takagi
This match has had a great build all year. SHO is the power of Roppongi 3k, and throughout the LIJ and Roppongi feud for the Junior Tag Titles, we always saw SHO try to go at Shingo. Shingo called him out a little and this is a great rivalry. SHO has something to prove, but Shingo doesn’t want to be upstaged by someone who was a Young Boy only a few years ago.
We saw the story unfold beautifully. Shingo dominated early, until SHO fired up and showed he wasn’t just going to roll over. As the match progressed SHO started to anticipate Shingo’s moves and stay a step ahead. Both men hit all of their signature moves, and neither wanted to really budge. This was just so well done, and more of a heavyweight style because they are both bigger Juniors. Shingo edged out SHO by hitting Last of the Dragons after numerous Pumping Bombers. But damn this was great.
Winner: Shingo via Last of the Dragons
Rating: **** 1/2
Shingo and SHO, there is no other answer. This has been a feud that started at the end of last year and persisted through the entire year so far. Long term booking is always fun, and when both men put on a great story telling match, it’s even better. Plus there’s no guarantee it’s over since SHO still has to surpass Shingo to feel completed.
Don’t sleep on Ospreay and Romero though, that was a great match, just didn’t quite match up to SHO and Shingo.