Tiffany gives her thoughts on the WWE shakeups of last week!
RAW And SmackDown – Superstar Shakeup Edition:
It’s that time of year again! It’s time for the Superstar Shakeup and time to see who will be finding a new show to hang their boots at for the next year, at least.
Top Guys: RAW got AJ Styles in exchange for Roman Reigns, which is a pretty fair trade, IMO. Styles had been feeling a little…directionless after losing the WWE Championship back in November, so putting him in a bigger pond with new foes makes the most sense. I wasn’t happy about how Styles was introduced because I felt that his spot in the six-man tag belonged to Dean Ambrose, all things considered, but it was a good match and I look forward to the inevitable match between Styles and Rollins.
Reigns going to SmackDown also makes a ton of sense. SmackDown is going to Fox in the fall and they need a big name to bring in viewers and Reigns is definitely that. Him debuting by knocking Vince McMahon on his ass, albeit very gently, definitely insures that he’ll be a hero on SmackDown and he’ll also get a lot of new opponents to deal with, though it’s premature to say he’ll be the man to beat Kofi Kingston for the title. Reigns has been blunt about the fact that he doesn’t feel ready to be the Champ right now, which is understandable; but even when he is ready, I don’t think WWE will have him beat Kofi, that ticket to Heelville will be given to someone else, who will be beaten by Reigns.
Intercontinental/US Titles: Most of the titles on RAW and SmackDown are fixed because they are brand-specific, but the Intercontinental and US Titles are not, so having them switch every year is fine. Finn Balor has been needing a change of scenery from RAW and given his amazing match against Mustafa Ali on Tuesday, I think he’ll be a perfect fit for the Blue Brand.
Samoa Joe was supposed to make his return to RAW on Monday, but he was out sick with the flu, so we got the stinkfest that was Braun Strowman vs EC3, but Strowman vs Joe should still be interesting.
Women’s Division: This was the most interesting part of the Shakeup, in my opinion. WWE split up Sasha Banks and Bayley as a tag team among rumors that Sasha became angry with the booking and tried to quit at WrestleMania, which I don’t fully believe, but that’s a different article.
The amount of women on RAW has been trimmed down considerably, but it looks like Lacey Evans is going to be Becky’s first RAW feud, after beating Nattie on Monday. However, Naomi made her debut on Monday and you know she’s going to be hunting for that title too.
It may seem like SmackDown got a lot of RAW’s…leftovers, but what they got was pretty good: Mickie James, Ember Moon, Bayley, and Liv Morgan. I’m not happy that the Riott Squad got split up but I hope Liv gets a chance to shine on her own as part of the SmackDown brand. And if she and Carmella should form a tag team called ‘The Jersey/Staten Island Connection’ I’ll be a happy girl.
The Women’s Tag Team Division situation is odd. With Boss-Hug being split up and Samoan Dynasty being sidelined due to Nia Jax being injured, the Women’s Tag Titles seem to be a SmackDown exclusive title, signified by the introduction of a new tag team: Asuka and Kairi Sane. I’m not a fan of this, I would preferred that the Sky Pirates debut together, but Asuka and Sane is what we have and they did really well in their eight-woman tag.
It’s not really clear who will challenge Becky on Smackdown, but I’m going to guess it’ll be Charlotte, who beat Carmella in a fantastic match on Tuesday, but that’s just a guess, but I’m hoping I’m wrong. I did LOVE the tease of a Becky/Bayley feud though. Bayley has been showing some of her inner nasty, especially under Sasha’s ‘influence’, so that would make an interesting feud.
Tag Team Division: This was the one division that I thought SmackDown got a little stiffed on, until the supplemental shake up got released. The Usos FINALLY came to RAW and immediately make an impact on Glorious Duo, who have since been separated. RAW also got War Machine, who got their names changed to ‘Viking Experience’, which sounds like a museum exhibit. However, War Machine made a HUGE impact in their first match and the crowd seems to be behind them, stupid name or not.
It looks like Black and Ricochet will be staying on RAW, presumably as a tag team, but that could change, I’m just glad they’re sticking around.
SmackDown got Heavy Machinery, which seems like a bit of a letdown since RAW got TWO big tag teams, but SmackDown still has several great tag teams for Otis and Tucker to play with, so we’ll see.
I can’t say I’m sorry that Glorious Duo got split up, but they were’t exactly setting the world on fire, even with a heel turn.
Cruiserweights: I’m getting very frustrated with the Cruiserweight situation. When 205 was launched in 2016, it sound like the Cruiserweights were getting their own separate platform, so they wouldn’t get lost on RAW or SmackDown and it was going to be its own separate thing, but now WWE has turned 205 Live into another developmental territory for RAW and SmackDown and taking their best talents. Cedric Alexander is heading to RAW and Buddy Murphy is going to SmackDown, which leaves 205 with its two top stars and I’m not sure there’s enough guys there to keep it going at top speed, which is sad.
Mid And Low Card: Okay, I feel really bad for lumping everyone else in this category, but it sounds better than ‘Everyone Else’. I was a little perplexed by the decision to put Miz on RAW since he’s feuding with Shane, but someone pointed out that ‘Miz and Mrs.’ is going to be on USA, which means Miz needs to stay on USA to promote his show, which works, though he did get the last laugh on Shane, at least for now.
I don’t like Lars Sullivan, but at least they’ve decided where he’s going and it looks like his first feud will be R-Truth, though what Carmella has to do with it is a mystery that, hopefully, won’t go the way I think it will.
Andrade and Zelina Vega going to RAW is HUGE for them as a pair and individually. I’m already looking forward to Andrade vs Seth Rollins. Plus, if Sasha Banks comes back, she and Vega are a feud waiting to happen.
Rey Mysterio coming to RAW, and probably feuding with Andrade, is nice, but it felt a little flat since Mysterio’s return to WWE hasn’t been as great as I think we all wish it was, but that’s another match for Seth that could be AMAZING.
Elias as the ‘Big Acquisition’ was a rib we all saw through, I think, but him being on SmackDown could be the making of him with a smaller roster so he can shine more.
Chad Gable and Apollo Crews going back to SmackDown is the right move for both of them, but I am surprised that Glorious Duo was split up. Crews hasn’t done a whole lot since the end of Titus Worldwide, so hopefully, this will help him…maybe.
I have no idea why EC3 was brought back to RAW, he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since his debut, but maybe they’re hoping he’ll show more life than he has so far.
I’m very sad to see that SAniTy has been split up, since they seemed so promising when they debuted. I’m not sure why they never got a real chance on SmackDown, but Eric Young is a great athlete, so hopefully he’ll come out ahead after this, but it’s still very sad and frustrating.
Moment of Bliss: I was actually ready to throw my support behind Sami Zayn this week, but then found myself wanting to grab him by the scruff of the shirt and demand that he sit up and act like an adult, so I think I’ll hold off.
In all seriousness, the segment was great for Zayn in establishing himself as a heel with a grudge, even if his heel persona is pretty obnoxious.
The Kevin Owens Show: If I never see Kevin Owens try to swivel his hips like New Day again, it’ll be too soon. That said, that was a great segment and to see how Kingston and Woods would go on without Big E, who is out with a knee injury. It also opens a possibility for a Big E heel turn since he didn’t seem happy about being replaced.
Six-Man Tag Match: It’s weird to see Cesaro without Sheamus, but he did pretty good teaming with Rusev and Nakamura against New Day and Owens, though it kind of sucked that it wasn’t the main event, but Roman making his debut was enough of a main event for me.
Becky Lynch vs Ruby Riott: This was a last stand for the Riott Squad, though we didn’t know that during RAW, but it was a great match for Lynch and Riott, who has been needing to pick up some steam after getting squashed a lot lately.
Charlotte vs Carmella: Can we talk about how far Carmella has come in terms of wrestling skill since she debuted on SmackDown in 2016? She’s become such a good talent that it’s like night and day. The fact that she was able to hang with Charlotte has been extremely impressive. The sad part about this match was that it did more for other people than it did Carmella. She was used to make Charlotte look good in the match and then seems to be becoming an object of fascination for Lars Sullivan, which is a disservice to her on both counts.
Thoughts: WWE definitely seems to have learned from the issues they had with the Shakeup in 2017 and 2018 with doing the Shakeup and building a PPV card. Except for Andrade pinning Balor, they made no real effort to build any feuds until AFTER the Shakeup to avoid having to scramble to redo things or building big matches that ultimately serve no purpose.
Separating Reigns and Rollins hammers home that the Shield is done for now, but Ambrose’s farewell tour leaves the door open for a return down the road. However, this is also a win/win for WWE and the fans. With SmackDown going to Fox this fall and they want a big name and Reigns has more name recognition than AJ Styles, no shade to Styles. Having Rollins stay on RAW without his Shield brothers is going to force him to prove that he has what it takes to carry RAW on his own.
Outside of the tag team division, the rosters got a pretty even division of talent, but what SmackDown didn’t get with tag teams, it definitely got with an expanded Women’s Division and the Women’s Tag Team Titles, but we’ll have to see how that does with a two-hour timeslot.
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!
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.