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Mitchell’s NJPW AXS Results: Dominion 2019 Part 2!

Another round for the Ibushi-Naito saga!

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NJPW Dominion 2019

NJPW continues in Osaka!

The Golden Star and the Uncontrollable Charisma have one of the fiercest rivalries in NJPW today! But who comes out the IWGP Intercontinental Champion after this G1 Supercard rematch?

 

Coverage of Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall will be as broadcast by AXS TV.

Gifs can be found on https://frentique.tumblr.com/

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr VS Jushin Thunder Liger & Yoshi-Hashi; Liger & Yoshi-Hashi win.
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Taichi VS Tomohiro Ishii; Ishii wins and becomes the new NEVER Openweight Champion.
  • IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Guerrillas of Destiny VS EVIL & SANADA; Guerrillas of Destiny win and retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.
  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi VS Tetsuya Naito; Naito wins and becomes the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

PLAY BY PLAY

NJPW and AXS TV set the scene for Dominion Part 2!

Los Ingobernables de Japon goes for gold! First, the rivals of the Golden Star and Uncontrollable Charisma meet again in their third match-up this year! Kota Ibushi took the first in the New Japan Cup, then the second in an IWGP Intercontinental Championship match at G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden! Despite Naito’s love-hate relationship with the belt, he wants it back here in Osaka-Jo. However, this arena hasn’t been kind to him, as he’s lost the last three times he’s been here. Will Ibushi go a full 3-0 in 2019? Or will Naito break through to reclaim his Destino?

Meanwhile, the IWGP Heavyweight Championships are on the line again as the Guerrillas of Destiny and the combo of Evil & Sanada fight again. The GoD are joint IWGP and ROH World Tag Team Champions after G1 Supercard, but will Darkness Fall to make LIJ three-time champions? Or will Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa still rule over two tag team divisions? And before all of this, the NEVER Openweight Championship has been a bit of a hot potato. Taichi has won, lost and won back the title. And in a bold move, he called out Tomohiro Ishii as his new challenger! Will the Sliest Wrestler in the World have something in store for the Stone Pitbull? Or will Ishii become a historic five-time Openweight Champion?

 

Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr VS Jushin Thunder Liger & Yoshi-Hashi!

The Meanest Man in the World and his Submission Master protege look to ruin the road to retirement for the living legend of Junior Heavyweight wrestling, and just the general well-being of the Head Hunter. Can Liger and Hashi survive the sadistic duo?

Well it might be hard with Suzuki and ZSJ attacking from behind! ZSJ throws Hashi out while Suzuki goes after Liger. The bell rings anyway but Suzuki whips Liger into barriers. Hashi and ZSJ brawl on the other side, and Hashi actually backs ZSJ down. Suzuki has Liger in front of the crowd while Hashi CHOPS ZSJ in front of commentary. Liger CHOPS but Suzuki eggs him on. Suzuki then SLAPS Liger down and rips railing apart to throw it onto him! Meanwhile, Hashi and ZSJ get in the ring. Hashi whips but ZSJ reverses to tweak the arm! ZSJ drags Hashi around for a Boston Crab, and with a knee in Hashi’s head. ZSJ shifts around to a modified STF, then a cover, TWO!

Hashi sits up but ZSJ tags Suzuki. They mug Hashi in their corner, then Suzuki snapmares and kicks Hashi. Suzuki taunts Liger and the ref keeps Liger from getting in. But this allows Suzuki-Gun to put Hashi in double team submissions! Armlocks and leglocks, but the referee finally catches them. ZSJ leaves but Suzuki toys with Hashi. Hashi hits back but Suzuki just eggs him on. Hashi keeps throwing forearms and even chops, but Suzuki’s one forearm ROCKS Hashi to an open corner! Tag to ZSJ and ZSJ taunts Hashi. ZSJ takes Hashi’s KT tape and throws it at him. ZSJ kicks at Hashi, and so does Suzuki. They both toy with Hashi but Hashi starts powering up. Hashi throws big forearms on ZSJ, only to get a Pele to the arm!

Tag to Suzuki, and Suzuki-Gun mugs Hashi more. Suzuki whips Hashi corner to corner for a boot! Then a snapmare to Penalty Kick! Cover, TWO! And Liger gets in to kick Hashi awake?! Fans like that, but Suzuki doesn’t, and Suzuki punches Liger. That only fires Liger up, and fans rally behind Hashi. Hashi throws forearms on Suzuki, but Suzuki whips. Hashi reverses and CHOPS him! Suzuki slows but goes after Hashi, only to get a spin back kick! Hashi hurries and tags Liger in! Liger rallies with SHOTEI for Suzuki, and SHOTEI for ZSJ! Liger runs in but misses in the corner. Suzuki grabs Liger by his mask, but now it’s a CHOP fight! Suzuki headlocks but Liger powers out, only for Suzuki to hold the hair and headbutt Liger down! Now Suzuki rains down rights before wrapping on a cross arm-breaker!

Liger flails and gets up, but Suzuki wrangles him down! Liger reaches and gets the ropebreak! Fans cheer as Suzuki lets go, but Suzuki’s right on Liger again. Suzuki snarls as he kicks Liger. Liger drags himself up but Suzuki throws big forearms. Suzuki wraps on the sleeper hold! Liger flails but fades, and Suzuki spins him around! Gotch hold but Liger resists the lift! Suzuki knees low but Liger headbutts back! Suzuki falls but Liger drags him up, suplex to brainbuster! Both men are down but fans fire up. Suzuki and Liger crawl as fans rally up. Hot tags to SJ and Hashi! Hashi CHOPS then whips but ZSJ reverses. Hashi dodges for a blockbuster! The Head Hunter hits his mark, but he keeps going with a running CHOP!

Hashi suplexes ZSJ onto the ropes, then runs to dropkick him down! Cover, TWO! Hashi keeps on ZSJ but ZSJ slips out to a kimura! Then a cross arm-breaker! Hashi holds on but ZSJ goes after the grip. ZSJ gets the extension! Liger breaks that up then intercepts Suzuki! Suzuki reverses the whip to an abdominal stretch! ZSJ gets on on Hashi! Side-by-side cobra twists! Hashi endures as the legal man but Liger endures just as much. Hashi powers his way to a ropebreak! ZSJ lets go and Suzuki drags Liger to the outside. Suzuki stomps Liger out in front of commentary, then whips, but Liger reverses to send Suzuki into railing! Meanwhile, Hashi elbows ZSJ’s knee, but ZSJ kicks and runs, into Hashi’s lariat!

Hashi fires up and drags ZSJ to his feet. Pump handle but ZSJ slips out to a facelock. ZSJ has the arm, but Hashi suplexes. ZSJ slips out to a sleeper, then a full nelson, but Hashi arm-drags out. Hashi spins into a roundhouse but still CHOPS! ZSJ slaps and uppercuts but Hashi backslides! Hashi rolls ZSJ to a cradle, and Liger anchors Suzuki on the outside! Hashi and Liger win!!

Winners: Yoshi-Hashi & Jushin Thunder Liger, Hashi pinning

What a shock! ZSJ and Suzuki won’t stand for this, they wreak havoc! ZSJ brawls with Hashi while Suzuki throws whatever and whoever he can. But Hashi clobbers ZSJ with a lariat! Suzuki continues to be furious, but that’s because Hashi is no longer a joke! Will the Head Hunter make the Submission Master’s Revolution Pro British Heavyweight Championship his prey?

 

NEVER Openweight Championship: Taichi VS Tomohiro Ishii!

The Holy Emperor and the Stone Pitbull joined NJPW at the same time, and have been rivals for it ever since. But will Taichi regret challenging his rival to be his first challenger after just getting this belt? Or will Taichi finally prove to Ishii, the world, and himself that he is truly championship material?

The introductions are made, the belt is raised after Taichi tosses it at Ishii, and the match begins!

Fans cheer for Ishii as he stares at Taichi. Taichi smirks as he and Ishii circle. But then Taichi slithers out to walk with Miho Abe around the ring. Ishii waits patiently for Taichi to return. Taichi takes his time, so Ishii lies down on the mat. Ishii says Taichi has an easy target now. Taichi still takes his time returning, and knows better than to cover Ishii. He stomps Ishii, but Ishii doesn’t flinch. Taichi keeps stomping, then kicks Ishii while he sits up. Ishii keeps his cool as Taichi toys with him. Ishii stands up and stares Taichi down. Taichi pushes Ishiia round, but Ishii DECKS him with one forearm! Now Ishii returns those toying kicks, then drags Taichi up for a CHOP! Ishii CHOPS more but Taichi rakes his eyes! So Ishii rakes Taichi’s eyes back!

The referee reprimands both men, but the eye raking continues. Ishii lets Taichi go to then whip corner to corner. Taichi reverses and boots Ishii, then runs only to get run over! Ishii kicks Taichi sharp on the back, and looms over him as he writhes. Ishii grabs Taichi’s mic stand and knapsack. He says all this is junk, and tosses the mic away! Ishii also tosses the bag, then goes back to kick at Taichi. Taichi grows annoyed and the two go forehead to forehead. Taichi kicks Ishii in the leg, so Ishii chops Taichi. Neither backs down as the kicks and CHOPS go back and forth. They pick up speed! Kick, chop, repeat, as they go around in a circle! Ishii staggers and Taichi kicks more. Ishii chops then slaps, so Taichi SLAPS! Fans respect that toughness!

Taichi goes at Ishii in the corner, and kicks him while he’s down. Ishii gets to ropes but Taichi drags him up to put him in the corner. Taichi kicks Ishii more, and still toys with Ishii. Ishii rolls away but Taichi keeps on him with a sharp kick! Ishii reels back but Taichi drags him up. Taichi snapmares and kicks again! Ishii writhes while Taichi scowls. Taichi grabs Ishii in a waistlock but Ishii resists the saido suplex with elbows. Ishii headbutts away on Taichi, but Taichi back kicks. Taichi runs but into a powerslam! Fans cheer while both men are down, and we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and Ishii looms over Taichi. Ishii kicks him to a corner, then stands him up for CHOPS and forearms! Chop, forearm, repeat, then Ishii whips Taichi corner to corner. Taichi boots Ishii away, but Ishii keeps coming. Taichi dodges to enziguri Ishii down! Fans cheer but Taichi mocks the Ishii fans. Off come the pants! Taichi powers up but Ishii dodges the kick. Ishii waistlocks but Taichi elbows back. Taichi swings but Ishii spins him and suplexes. Taichi escapes and spins Ishii for a kick, only for Ishii to dump him down! Ishii throws forearms, Taichi enziguris again! Both men are down and fans cheer. Miho rallies the fans up, and Taichi stands first.

Taichi runs but Ishii blocks the clothesline to give one. Ishii runs but into a roundhouse! Taichi runs to clobber Ishii then enziguri a third time! Both men are down again but Miho shouts for Taichi to stand. Taichi does stand, and he drags Ishii up off the mat. Taichi saido suplexes Ishii down hard! Cover, TWO!! Ishii just survives! Fans cheer while Taichi keeps his focus. Taichi drags Ishii up again, but Ishii gives Taichi a saido! Both men are down but fans rally up. They stand and Taichi boots Ishii. But Ishii stays up, and eggs him on! Taichi kicks him over and over but Ishii still eggs him on. Taichi goes up but gets blocked and caught into a German Suplex! Ishii wants Taichi to stand, then runs, but Taichi dodges the lariat. Taichi uses the ref as a shield!

The ref goes down, but Ishii blocks the low blow! And headbutts Taichi back! Taichi blocks a kick but again Ishii blocks the low blow! For another headbutt! Taichi is down but Ishii only fires up. Ishii wants Taichi to get back up, and he waits as Taichi slowly stirs. Ishii runs, but into a boot. He still lariats on the other end! Taichi gets up for another lariat! Cover, TWO!! Taichi lives but Ishii grits his teeth. Ishii sits Taichi up, runs, but Taichi dodges the sliding lariat to enziguri Ishii down! Taichi runs for a sliding lariat of his own! Then the Gedo Clutch! TWO!! Ishii narrowly escapes! Fans fire up again as both men are down. Miho grows concerned for Taichi as he and Ishii slowly sit up.

Taichi is the first to stand, and he runs at Ishii. Ishii dodges, but so does Taichi. They both run for clotheslines! Taichi takes Ishii down! Then he drags Ishii up into a dragon sleeper! He stretches Ishii sideways! Ishii endures the stretch and twist, even as Taichi goes a full 90 degrees! The ref checks on Ishii as he starts to fade. Ishii’s arm goes down once, and Taichi cranks. It goes down again, but Taichi drags Ishii to his feet. Ishii revives to enziguri, but Taichi blocks it! Taichi hits the buzzsaw! Taichi looms over Ishii and says this will end it! Alabama lift, tuck, but Ishii slips out! Ishii powerbomb lifts but Taichi slips out to ROUNDHOUSE! Then, powerbomb lift, Last Ride!! Cover, TWO?! The Stone Pitbull is superhuman!

Fans are thunderous as Taichi crawls to a corner. Ishii slowly stirs as Taichi fires up. Taichi aims, thrusts, but misses! Ishii swings but Taichi deflects. Taichi tries again, but Ishii catches the kick to give an enziguri! Ishii rolls away to a corner and he fires up. Ishii aims at Taichi as he stands, but runs into a back kick! He blocks Taichi’s roundhouse to throw elbows from all sides! But Taichi still enziguris! But Ishii stays up to LARIAT!! Cover, TWO!? Now Taichi shows his heart, but Ishii won’t just give up. Ishii suplexes Taichi, but Taichi slips out to throw elbows of his own! Taichi Alabama lifts, but Ishii counters with a powerbomb lift! Powerbomb and SLIDING LARIAT! Cover, TWO!?! Ishii doesn’t care how, he just keeps going, for a BRAINBUSTER! Cover, Ishii wins!!

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii, by pinfall; NEW NEVER Openweight Champion

Once again, the Stone Pitbull is champion! He is the first five-time champion of this belt! But with all it took in this match, is this rivalry of NJPW Black Sheep far from over?

 

NJPW Media backstage interview

Ishii sits down with his newly won belt to say, “It was just like I said. Okayama all over again.” Ishii says that is his style. Taichi wishes he could wrestle like Ishii does. But Taichi’s style is “half-assed.” What’s the point of the mic stand and the iron glove or any of that stuff? If you win that way, the question still remains. But what Taichi does from here is up to him. If Taichi can admit he lost, there may be hope for him yet. As for NJPW, they’re gonna need to patch up this belt. Will Ishii hold onto the title long enough for that renewed belt? Or will this title stay a hot potato through the summer?

 

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Guerrillas of Destiny VS EVIL & SANADA!

After G1 Supercard, Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa reign over both the ROH and NJPW tag team divisions! But a Fatal 4 Way doesn’t really prove much as far as they’re concerned. They took care of Jay & Mark Briscoe in a rematch for the ROH World Tag Team Championships, but can they do the same to their NJPW rivals? Or will The King of Darkness and the Cold Skull win those belts for a third time?

The introductions are made, and Jado hits the poor ring announcer! Then he threatens commentary! Jado’s actions aside, the IWGP belts are raised, and we begin this epic rematch!

Teams sort out, and Tama starts against Sanada. Fans rally behind LIJ, and Sanada takes a moment to climb up and hear the fans. Sanada offers Tama the same courtesy, so Tama climbs up, to hear more of a mixed reaction. Tama just grins as he offers Sanada a second go. Sanada climbs up again and Osaka cheers loud and proud. Tama is upset by that, and rushes at Sanada! Sanada jumps over, then over again, and things speed up. Tama hip tosses but Sanada lands on his feet! Sanada ducks the punch to speed up again. Tama copies Sanada’s hurdles, but Sanada sees the second one coming, and spins Tama to a takedown! Sanada goes for Paradise, but Tama pushes him away! Tama backs off to his corner while fans cheer.

Sanada waits for Tama, but Evil and Tonga Loa tag in. Evil circles with Loa as the powerhouses of their teams. Evil hits low then headlocks. Loa powers out but they collide shoulders. Neither man falls so Loa dares Evil to go again. Evil does, and they collide again. Now Evil eggs Loa on. Loa tells Evil, “I’m a f*cking champion! You gotta bring it, bro!” Loa runs, they collide and Evil staggers back! Tama laughs as Loa eggs Evil on again. Evil runs, dodges and hits Tama! Then he sends Loa into Tama, to then run Loa over! Fans cheer as Evil nods. Evil stomps Loa’s legs then clubs him on the back. He drags Loa up and CHOPS! Evil CHOPS m ore but Loa just fires up. Evil CHOPS Loa again, and off his feet! Cover, ONE!

Evil keeps on Loa to kick and run, but Jado and that damn kendo stick block Evil’s path! Loa runs but into a waistlock. Loa standing switches but so does Evil, and Evil lifts. Tama distracts the ref as Jado SMACKS Evil in the back! Fans boo the Master Heater and Sanada protests. Tama kicks the rope to indirectly low blow Sanada! Loa stomps Evil out then pushes him to the outside. Tama and Loa both go out to keep on LIJ. Tama sends Sanada into railing while Loa holds Evil for Jado. The ref sees that, and so Jado backs off. Loa bumps Evil on the apron, then plays innocent. This distracts the ref so that Jado can jab Evil in the ribs! Tama comes over to club Evil down while Loa apologizes to the ref. Loa gets in the ring while Tama rams Evil into railing!

The ref reprimands Tama and starts a count. Evil sits up at 7/20, while Tama and Jado taunt him. Tama puts Evil in at 11/20, and Loa goes at Evil with headbutts. Evil staggers to a corner but Loa fires off forearms. Loa whips corner to corner then hits Evil with a clothesline. Loa keeps moving, BIG shotgun knee takes Evil down! Cover, TWO! Loa keeps his cool as he drags Evil up. Tag to Tama, and Loa scoop slams Evil down. Tama adds the slingshot senton, then swaggers about. Evil grits his teeth while Tama throws down hands. Tama drives elbows in but Evil keeps sitting up. Tama drags Evil up for a snap suplex! Cover, TWO! Tama grows annoyed, but he brings Evil over to tag in Loa. Tama and Loa whip and double dropkick Evil down! Cover, TWO!

Fans rally for Evil as Sanada returns to the corner. Loa taunts Evil then blasts Sanada down. Loa drags Evil back to the GoD corner to throw big body shots and forearms. Tag to Tama and he throws hands and a dropkick! Evil flops down but fans keep cheering. Tama tags Loa back in, and the GoD have Evil down for another slingshot senton! Cover, TWO! Loa keeps his cool as he drags Evil up. He puts Evil in an open corner for stomps and forearms. Loa mocks the fans cheering for Evil as he whips Evil corner to corner. Evil reverses but Loa reverses back. Evil hits buckles hard and falls to the mat. Loa drags Evil up for forearms then a scoop. Evil slips out to shove Loa. Evil blocks the kick, hands it to the ref, and mule kicks Loa down low!

Fans rally up as both men crawl for their corners. Hot tag to Sanada! Tama just comes in to intercept and elbow Sanada. Tama whips Sanada to a corner, then Loa runs in. Sanada dodges Loa to dropkick Tama’s legs out! Sanada goes back at Loa to block the boot. And he puts Loa in Paradise! Tama attacks Sanada and whips, but Sanada reverses. Sanada shows Tama how the hurdles are done, then dropkicks him down! Tama bails out but Sanada slingshots to take him out! Then Sanada slingshots onto Jado! Fans fire up behind Cold Skull as he returns to the ring. Sanada still has one target left, and he dropkicks Loa out of Paradise! Cover, TWO! Sanada keeps his cool as he stalks Loa.

Sanada drags Loa up, but Loa blocks the back suplex. Loa runs but into headscissors. But Loa blocks it to a sit-out bomb! Cover, TWO! Tama tags in and takes out Evil. Loa rams Sanada in the open corner, then Tama hits a big splash! GoD mock the fans cheering Sanada on, but the fans do cheer. It bothers Tama, and he goes after Sanada. He whips corner to corner but Sanada tumbles out and springboards back in with a missile dropkick! Tag to Evil and Evil hits Loa! LIJ whip Tama corner to corner, back elbow and clothesline! Evil suplexes Tama up top then climbs up to join him. Evil stands Tama up, and SUPERPLEXES him down! Sanada hits a standing moonsault on top! Evil has Tama in the Sharpshooter!

Tama endures while Evil sits deep. Sanada tries but can’t stop Loa, Loa barrels in and breaks the hold. Loa throws hands on both Evil and Sanada, then throws double dirty birds. Loa runs, but into Evil’s mule kick! Sanada front kicks and Evil LARIATS Loa down! Tama runs in, but into a boot, then mule kick, then saido suplex! Fans fire up behind LIJ as they vow to end this. Evil drags Tama up and Sanada props him up. But Loa intercepts! Tama powers Evil to a corner, Loa German Suplexes Sanada! But Sanada lands on his feet to spin Loa around, Salida into the dragon sleeper! Evil beats Tama down then hits Jado. Tama grabs Evil but Evil spins through to trip Tama up. Sharpshooter side-by-side with the dragon sleeper! Sanada drops back for full Skull End!

GoD endure submissions as Evil sits deep. Tama powers up and reaches, but Evil drags him away from ropes! Loa fades while Tama endures! Jada drags the referee out just before Tama taps!! LIJ think they’ve won, but Jado attacks with his kendo stick! Jado gets in the ring as fans boo, and he SMACKS Evil! Jado doesn’t give a damn that his stick is broken, he aims at Evil again. But wait, LJI has reinforcements! Bushi runs in, grabs the stick, and sprays Jado with the mist!! To then SMACK Jado down! Fans fire up as Bushi ruins and DIVES into Jado! He also gets the ref in the ring for Evil and Sanada as they vow to finish it! They grab Tama, lift, but Tama kicks Sanada away! Tama rolls Evil, and holds tights!! GoD win!!

Winners: Guerrillas of Destiny, by pinfall; still IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions

It took the Master Heater and a tight grip on the tights, but the Bullet Club’s top tag team still reigns over both ROH and NJPW! Not even evening the numbers was enough to defeat them, will Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa continue being double champions through the summer?

 

NJPW Media backstage interview

Tama Tonga tells LIJ that when they asked for a rematch, GoD granted it. And they still won! “Who else wants a rematch?!” Oh, the Briscoes do, just because they were losers the first two times. Do they think third time’s the charm? They’ll lose again. GoD wants new blood! “When we say this is an open invite, it’s an open challenge. An open invitation to anybody and everybody, including their mother, their mother’s daughter, their daughter’s cousin’s best friend’s dog’s pet. Insects, whatever the hell y’all got! It’s open!” If you want it, come get it! Usos, The Revival, come get some! Don’t let fences block you in. Just come out and play. Who will answer this most open of open challenges to test the Guerrillas?

 

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi VS Tetsuya Naito!

The Golden Star is 2-0 in 2019 alone, beating the Uncontrollable Charisma in both the New Japan Cup and at G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden. And now, Ibushi calls NJPW his true wrestling home! But a 3-0 sweep is incredibly difficult by any standard, let alone in NJPW. Will Ibushi stay golden with yet another win? Or will Naito defy history and finally get a win in Dominion?

Introductions are made and fans are already thunderous for these two fan favorites. The belt is raised, and Ibushi is patient as Naito takes off his elaborate entrance gear. The bell rings, and we begin the third chapter of this rivalry!

Ibushi and Naito hear the fans fire up again as the two stare down. Naito and Ibushi slowly circle, then tie up fast! Ibushi headlocks but Naito pries out. Ibushi keeps him in but Naito punches back. Naito powers out and things speed up. Ibushi dodges, hurdles, but Naito sunset flips. Ibushi rolls through but Naito dodges the Penalty Kick. Naito arm-drags but Ibushi rolls him to headscissors. Naito pops out but into Ibushi’s kick! Fans cheer this already fast and furious match!

Ibushi watches Naito writhe his way to a corner. Ibushi stomps Naito then drags him up for an arm wrench. He whips corner to corner but Naito elbows back. Naito runs out but into Ibushi’s kick. Ibushi runs but into a hip toss, Naito basement dropkicks him in the back then poses. Naito has a mixed reaction until he poses again. Then he spits at the haters. Naito stomps Ibushi then drags Ibushi up to a dragon sleeper for a neckbreaker. He wraps Ibushi up in a modified leg full nelson. Ibushi endures even as Naito hammers his head with fists. Ibushi powers up to turn around, and kicks his way to a ropebreak. Naito holds on until Red Shoes counts, but Naito says he has a hard time letting go. Fans boo, but Naito lets go at 3.

Ibushi crawls but Naito drags him up for forearms. Ibushi hits back but there’s not much there. He keeps trying, but Naito spits on him! Naito stomps Ibushi as fans boo. Naito grinds Ibushi’s head into the corner, then stands up to pose on the ropes. Fans are still mixed as Naito stomps Ibushi again. Naito drags Ibushi up and whips him corner to corner. He runs in, jump kicks and sweeps for a fake out, to then basement dropkick Ibushi! And then tranquilo! Naito kneels on Ibushi for a cover, ONE. Naito actually covers, TWO! So Naito spits at Red Shoes. Red Shoes wipes it off on Naito as Naito stands. Naito kicks Ibushi but Ibushi eggs him on. Naito keeps kicking and now Ibushi gets up. Ibushi fires back with forearm and he starts getting his strength back. But then Naito fakes him out to rake the eyes.

Fans boo again but Naito doesn’t care. He drags Ibushi up, whips, but Ibushi reverses. Naito reverses back to atomic drop Ibushi, then runs, only to get double stomps! Ibushi and Naito are both down while fans cheer. Ibushi fires himself up as he goes to Naito. He stands Naito up but Naito swings. Ibushi ducks it to fire off a strike fest! Naito staggers away after the back kick, but Ibushi whips him corner to corner. Naito reverses that, then run sin only for Ibushi to go up and over. Ibushi gets Naito with a huricanrana! Fans rally up as Ibushi takes aim. Ibushi slingshots for a corkscrew splash! Ibushi clips the apron and is a little dazed himself. But he shakes it off to get Naito back and in. Cover, TWO!

Ibushi keeps his cool as he drags Naito back up. Naito resists the waistlock lift and elbows free. Naito switches but Ibushi resists now. Ibushi breaks free but gets an enziguri! Naito whips but Ibushi reverses, and catches the flying forearm into a Half ‘n’ Half Suplex! Naito is up and spins around to tornado DDT Ibushi down! Both men are down but Osaka is fired up as we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and both men are down on the ground. Osaka duels and Naito gets himself to a corner. Ibushi stirs and Naito runs in, shotgun dropkick! Cover, TWO! Ibushi survives but Naito keeps his cool. He drags Ibushi back up to throw big forearms and elbows in the corner. Naito hoists Ibushi up top, then climbs up to join him, but Ibushi resists. Naito clubs away until Ibushi lets go, and then still clubs him more. But Ibushi slips under to PELE Naito down! Naito hits ropes then tumbles to the apron. Ibushi climbs up the ropes and drags Naito back up. Ibushi waistlocks but Naito fights out. Naito throws uppercut after uppercut, then drags Ibushi over in a gut wrench! But Ibushi saves himself with flailing!

Ibushi joins Naito on the apron and waistlocks Naito. Naito holds on to deny the German Suplex, and elbows Ibushi off him. Naito clubs Ibushi more, then gets some space. Ibushi runs at Naito but gets a boot! Naito now waistlocks Ibushi with a dangerous idea in mind! Ibushi holds on to deny the German Suplex! Naito clubs away on Ibushi’s back again, and grins as he gets the waistlock back. Naito German Suplexes Ibushi to the apron!! Dear God, Ibushi’s head and neck!! Red Shoes checks on Ibushi but somehow, by a miracle, Ibushi is okay. Naito gets in the ring and a 20 count begins. The count passes 10 but Ibushi does not stir. The count passes 15, then 17, but Ibushi revives at 19 and gets in at 19.9!! It’s hard to even believe Ibushi is conscious.

Naito shows no mercy and he drags Ibushi up to bump him off buckles. Naito hoists Ibushi up backwards, and climbs up behind him. He wants to end this, SUPER REVERSE STEINER!! Cover, TWO!? Ibushi lives!? Naito doesn’t hesitate to drag Ibushi up again. Wring and tilt-o-whirl, but Ibushi blocks it! Ibushi tucks Naito in, Package Tombstone! But he can’t make the cover! Both men are down and a standing count begins. Osaka practically pleads with both men to stand as the count passes 5. Ibushi and Naito sit up at 8, and the match continues. Ibushi throws a forearm at Naito, and eggs Naito on. Naito hits Ibushi back, so Ibushi gives him another. Naito grins as he throws another forearm at Ibushi.

The two slowly stand as they continue to throw forearms. Ibushi hits, Naito hits, and they pick up the pace! Naito gets an edge, but Ibushi comes back with just as many! Naito headbutts! Ibushi falls to his knees, but Naito stands him up for more headbutts. And more headbutts! But Ibushi just comes back with a kick! Naito headbutts again, but Ibushi CHOPS Naito off his feet! Then LARIATS him inside-out! Ibushi slumps over and both men are down again. Osaka gives Ibushi power to get up and shout out the King of Strong Style! Ibushi runs at Naito, but Naito dodges to Dragon Suplex! Ibushi staggers onto his feet, Naito runs in for DESTINO!! Cover, TWO?!? Ibushi survives again?! Naito is too stunned to be frustrated!

Naito drags Ibushi up again, wrings the arm and tries again, but Ibushi denies Destino to a gut buster! Ibushi drags Naito up now, powerbomb lift, and LAST RIDE! Cover, TWO!! Now Naito shocks Ibushi! Both men are down again but Osaka cheers them on. Ibushi drags Naito up in the double wristlock, but Naito leaps up for a satellite DDT! Both men are down again, but crawling to opposite ends. Osaka hits a fever pitch as Naito and Ibushi sit up. Ibushi aims at Naito then runs in, but into a boot and enziguri! Naito hops up, grabs Ibushi with a dragon sleeper, inverted tornado DDT! Cover, TWO! Ibushi still has life but Naito does, too! Naito drags Ibushi up, tilt-o-whirl, but another block! Fireman’s carry, but Naito pops up! REVERSE-RANA!

But Naito’s not done, he scoops Ibushi for Valentia, the Northern Lights Driver! Cover, TWO!!! Ibushi STILL lives!! Naito is at a loss for words, but he still wants it. Wrench and tilt-o-whirl, DESTINO!! Cover, Naito wins!!

Winner: Tetsuya Naito, by pinfall; NEW IWGP Intercontinental Champion

And finally, Naito takes the title back! He and Ibushi still hold hands until the medics help them with ice packs. Somehow both men survived, and Naito has the belt he doesn’t really like back. Naito adds insult to injury as he stands on Ibushi’s head while posing. Will both Naito and Ibushi move on from this rivalry of there? Will Naito continue to chase his dream of being dual Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion? Can Ibushi recover from the devastation to his body?

 

NJPW Media backstage interview

Naito tosses the chair aside, he doesn’t want to sit down. “I still don’t really understand the value of this belt. But there’s no doubt that this belt is the one I want most right now.” Naito has the Intercontinental Championship back, but he doesn’t feel any closer to his goal of holding two belts at once. Perhaps he’s back to square one. Naito will hold onto this title while chasing THE IWGP Heavyweight Championship, via the G1 Climax! Because winning that means winning a shot at the Heavyweight Championship. And then nobody can stop him. A nice little shortcut, really. The Intercontinental title came back to Naito at just the right time. It must have missed him. Naito is back where he started, and has a goal in sight.

Oh, and as for Ibushi… “I don’t like him as a person, but I love him as a wrestler.” Things are always interesting with him around. Ibushi doesn’t want to have a match with Naito again, but if he changes his mind, Naito welcomes another rematch. He looks forward to it with his usual answer: “Tranquilo, chilllll out.” Adios!

 


 

My Thoughts:

A pretty strong conclusion to AXS’s coverage of Dominion 2019. The tag match of Suzuki-Gun VS Liger & Yoshi-Hashi was good, and Hashi getting the pin was a surprise. I really wonder if we’ll get ZSJ VS Hashi for the Rev-Pro British Heavyweight title at a NJPW event, that’d be a lot of fun. I doubt Hashi would win, though. Suzuki VS Liger sounds like a lot of fun, too, with these two legends and their opposite styles. Liger is retiring one way or another this year, from what he’s said, but if it isn’t his actual last match, I could see Liger finding a way to win. That’d make for good story. Taichi VS Ishii had great story, too, given their history. And it made sense for Ishii to win, he’s just a great talent for NJPW.

The IWGP Heavyweight Tag title match was another classic, but that makes sense with GoD and LIJ. I really thought LIJ was gonna get it after Bushi helped take out Jado, but nope. It was a good move for GoD to win with Heel tactics and just last second like that. This keeps both teams strong for another try down the line, but also for whatever is planned via GoD’s “Open Challenge” promo backstage. While old news by now, mentioning the WWE’s Usos and Revival, two great teams in their own right (and for a time, two teams that looked to be leaving WWE) was bold of GoD. I would love to see any and all of those combinations, but we all know Vince McMahon would never let a crossover happen, and would probably never let those teams out.

Then comes the really rough one to call, in more ways than one. There is always the need to escalate in a rivalry, but there is also a fine line when it comes to how much is too much. I feel like this third time around in 2019 stepped over the line with that apron German suplex spot. Again, this is old news by now, and WhatCulture probably said it best in one of their videos. I’ll simply summarize all of that by saying there had to have been a way to escalate this rivalry without such a move. At the same time, Ibushi was somehow able to continue, so he may have known what he was doing. I just hope and pray this really is the last of Naito VS Ibushi for some time, especially since they’re in different blocks for the G1 this year.

My Score: 8.5/10


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Mitchell’s WWE 205 Live Results & Report! (1/22/21)

And you thought last week was big!

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Coverage 205 2021

205 Live doubles down on historic matches!

Not only are two 205 Live OG taking on a BRUTAL combination in Thatcher & Ciampa, but the WOMEN’S Dusty Cup comes to the purple ‘n’ orange!

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: The Way’s Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell VS Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade; The Way wins and advances.
  • Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari VS Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa; Thatcher & Ciampa win and advance.

PLAY BY PLAY

205 Live explains how a certain Dusty Cup match came to be.

It was on NXT that Ashante “Thee” Adonis was in a match with the cruel Karrion Kross. Kross showed no mercy to Adonis as he hit him with TWO Doomsday Saido Suplexes and the blindside forearm smash. Then he would show no mercy to Adonis’ tag partner, Desmond Troy, by wrapping him up in the Krossjacket submission! The damage done was too severe for either man to compete tonight, and now they’re OUT of the Dusty Rhodes Classic! However, there is a new team that has been formed.

The Professor of Pain and the Psycho Killer put each other through torture inside the Fight Pit, and in the end, they found respect for each other. They’re now a killer combination and having their tag team debut TONIGHT, in the tag team tournament! Will they put the Premier Athlete and Persian Lion through similar suffering, all for a shot at history and the NXT Tag Team Championships?

 

Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: The Way’s Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell VS Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade!

How is this for history? 205 Live has its first-ever women’s match, and it is for this historic women’s tag team tournament! But will it be even more historic for the two debuting superstars? Or will Candice & Indi Wrestling dominate where the boys, Johnny & Austin, failed?

The teams sort out, Indi starts against Jade and the two circle. They tie up, go around, and Indi throws Jade down. Indi says Jade is NOT #Impressive, but Jade hits back with body shots! Indi knees low, whips Jade to a corner but Jade dodges! Jade tags Gigi and Gigi dodges Indi for a BOOT! Jade BOOTS Indi, then Gigi runs in to spin and ROCK Indi with a forearm! Indi hits back, drags Gigi over and tags in Candice. Candice stomps Gigi down, brings her up and through the ropes to choke her. The ref counts, Candice lets off at 4 to then CLUB Gigi down. Candice stomps Gigi, taunts Jade, but misses the leg drop!

Gigi rams Candice to the corner, tags in Jade, and Jade runs corner to corner to SHINING WIZARD! Jade brings Candice around but Indi is in the way of her run. Candice CLOBBERS Jade then covers, ONE! Candice hammers away on Jade, dribbles her off the mat, and fans boo as Candice drags Jade up with a chinlock. Candice has a neck wrench, fans chant “You Still Suck!” but Jade fights her way up. Candice CLUBS Jade, whips her to the Way’s corner, then runs in for a back body block! Indi tags in and she taunts Gigi before hitting Jade with a forearm! Indi throws Jade down to cover, TWO!

Indi keeps on Jade with a cravat for the neck crank. Jade fights up, fans rally and Jade throws body shots. Jade whips, Indi reverses and scoops for a sidewalk slam! Cover, TWO! Indi keeps her cool, tags Candice, and Candice wrenches Jade to snapmare and chinlock. Candice digs her knee in but Jade endures. Fans rally, Jade fights up, throws more body shots, then breaks free to uppercut! Jade runs but wobbles, but she elbows Candice again! Jade baits Candice into her own corner, dodges, but Candice gets Jade’s leg! Jade kicks Candice away, hot tags to Indi and Gigi! Gigi didges, fires off on Indi, KICKS away on the leg, then kicks that leg out! BUZZSAW!

Gigi DECKS Candice for good measure before she BOOTS Indi down! Cover, TWO! Gigi snarls as she drags Indi up and clubs her on the back. Tag to Jade, they bring Indi around together to double suplex but Indi fights it off! Indi BOOTS Jade, kicks Gigi and reels Gigi in for a suplex of her own! Indi holds Gigi up for a count of 10 before the SLAM! Gigi bails out so Indi tags Candice. Candice runs into Jade’s roll up, TWO! Jade Oklahoma Rolls, TWO! Ghost pin, TWO!! Candice flounders up but gets around Jade to roll her up, TWO!! Indi tags in and kicks Jade to then back suplex SLAM! Cover, The Way wins!

Winners: The Way, by pinfall (advance to the next round)

Candice and Indi are making their way into the semifinals! But will Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter be in the way of The Way making history?

 

Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Opening Round: Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari VS Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa!

The Premier Athlete and Persian Lion have been here since day one of 205 Live, and were looking strong going into this match when it was against Adonis & Troy. But again, it has only been a couple days since NXT, are the Professor of Pain and Psycho Killer in any shape to face them on their home turf?

The teams sort out and Nese and Daivari seem to laugh at the two former enemies trying to be a team now. Daivari starts with Thatcher, they tie up and Daivari goes after an arm. Thatcher pries him off of that with a chinlock and then grinds into a headlock. Thatcher throws Daivari down, pulls on his head, but Daivari tries to pull hair. Thatcher just smiles that jagged tooth grin as he gets back up and goes after Daivari’s arm! Thatcher wrangles Daivari with a hammerlock, traps it with his legs then gets Daivari’s legs. Thatcher pulls Daivari into a Bow ‘n’ Arrow! Daivari endures, it becomes a cover, TWO!

Thatcher grabs at Daivari right away and has a facelock. Daivari endures, gets around, waistlocks, but Thatcher pries at the arm. Daivari tags Nese in, Nese rolls Thatcher up, TWO! Thatcher trips Nese and has the foot for a toe ‘n’ ankle. He shifts to a heel hook, then gets the arm but Nese scrambles around. Ciampa wants in, so Thatcher tags him in! Fans cheer as Ciampa wrenches Nese’s arm and drags him down. Nese resists the Fujiwara but Ciampa wrenches through again to a wristlock. Nese chinbars to get the arm, but Ciampa slips through to headlock. Nese throws Ciampa off but Ciampa headlocks and throws Nese down! Fans cheer as Ciampa grinds Nese into the mat.

Nese fights up, gets free to waistlock but Ciampa switches. Nese bucks Ciampa off, runs in and trips Ciampa up to go after the leg! Ciampa kicks Nese away, facelocks Nese in return and grinds him down. Fans rally, Nese moves around, and Nese powers Ciampa to the corner. Nese puts the leg on the rope, tags in Daivari, but Ciampa fights out with forearms and elbows! Ciampa DECKS Daivari but Nese trips him up! The ref reprimands but Daivari drags Nese to the corner to SLAM the leg into the post! And then he SLAMS the other leg! Thatcher storms over as Daivari keeps on the legs but the ref shouts at everyone to get back to their corners.

Daivari puts Ciampa in, drops elbows on the leg then stomps it, then drags Ciampa from Thatcher. Daivari drops more elbows, stomps the leg more, then clamps onto the leg to step through, for a Figure Four! Ciampa endures, Thatcher coaches him and the fans rally up! Ciampa drags himself and Daivari over but Nese gets in to hit Thatcher! The ref has to keep Thatcher back but Nese drags Daivari and Ciampa away! Nese tags in to stomp away on Ciampa, and Daivari finally lets Ciampa out of the hold. Fans boo and jeer while Nese flexes. Nese drags Ciampa over, tags in Daivari, and they split the wishbone on Ciampa!

Nese runs at Thatcher but Thatcher DECKS him first! Daivari has Ciampa’s leg but Ciampa enziguris back! Tag to Thatcher! Thatcher clinches Daivari for a BELLY2BELLY! Then a BELLYBELLY for Nese! EuroUppers for both Cruiserweights back and forth! Nese runs back in but Thatcher has the arm! Thatcher clamps on but has to stop Daivari first. HEEL HOOK! Nese pulls Thatcher’s ears and HOTSHOT BULLDOGS! Thatcher is down, Nese tags in, and Nese hurries to PREMIER TRIANGLE MOONSAULT! Tag back to Daivari and Daivari climbs up, LION SPLASH! Cover, but Ciampa breaks it!

Fans fire up as Ciampa returns to his corner. Daivari and Thatcher crawl, Nese tags in first! Thatcher kicks Nese away, and tags Ciampa back in! Ciampa rallies on Nese and Daivari with forearms and CHOPS! Ciampa CHOPS Daivari again but Nese dropkicks the bad leg out! Nese and Daivari both go up, DOUBLE- DECKED! Nese gets a knee, Daivari gets a forearm! Thatcher and Ciampa glare at each other, Ciampa gives Nese WILLOW’S BELL! Cover, Ciampa & Thatcher win!!

Winners: Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher, by pinfall (advance to the next round)

These two were tearing each other apart on NXT, but they’re standing together on 205 Live! Will Ciampa and Thatcher tear their way through the tournament to put their names on the Dusty Cup?


My Thoughts:

A good episode, though with some obvious results. While Gigi Dolin (Priscilla Kelly) and Cora Jade (Elayna Black) are very good wrestlers, they weren’t going to beat The Way, and it says a lot that Indi got the pin for this one. Candice & Indi are among the favorites to win the tournament, and I’m betting on a stellar match between them and KC Squared, Catanzaro & Carter. Gigi & Jade still made a good combination, and their aesthetics match up well, I hope they stick together.

Ciampa & Thatcher becoming a team after their Fight Pit match is a pretty cool way to follow up, and naturally they were going to beat the first team they faced. The OG had good combinations, but Nese and Daivari have been perennial jobbers to the stars even before this. Thatcher & Ciampa take on Undisputed Era next and that is going to be a great match that could go either way. Given the history between Undisputed Era and the current tag team champions, Lorcan & Burch, I give it 51-49, UE wins so that they can get a shot at the champions.

My Score: 8/10


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Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Results & Report! (1/22/21)

Will Apollo be able to #ThinkBig and be a champion?

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Coverage SmackDown 2021

Big time challenges go down on SmackDown!

SmackDown goes big as Big E takes on Apollo Crews’ rematch challenge, and Bayley takes on Bianca Belair in the ULTIMATE obstacle course challenge!

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Charlotte Flair & Asuka VS The Riott Squad w/ Billie Kay; Charlotte & Asuka win.
  • Cesaro VS Dolph Ziggler; Cesaro wins.
  • Sasha Banks VS Reginald w/ Carmella; Sasha wins.
  • WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E VS Apollo Crews; Crews wins by disqualification, Big E retains the title.
  • Ultimate Athletic Obstacle Course Challenge: Bayley VS Bianca Belair; Bianca wins.
  • Dominik Mysterio VS King Corbin; Corbin wins.
  • Adam Pearce VS Paul Heyman w/ Roman Reigns; No Contest.

PLAY BY PLAY

Roman Reigns heads to the ring!

The Head of the Table, with Special Counsel, Paul Heyman, is back to open SmackDown, but no Jey Uso? Roman and Heyman are not in a good mood after the bait ‘n’ switch Adam Pearce pulled over on them with Kevin Owens. Heyman hands Roman a mic as fans boo and give thumbs down on their screens. “So KO said he was going to deliver a message today, huh?” Or is he not? No, we’re not going to see Kevin Owens tonight because Roman said so. Now let’s talk about last week and “card subject to change.” Real clever. A lot of people made comments about Pearce getting one past them, outsmarted them.

But let’s make this clear: “That way of thinking is beneath me.” Card subject to change is how losers think. It’s how people who are scared to come to work think. Roman doesn’t miss appearances, he puts in work! Legitimately! It took Roman’ sown health being at risk during a pandemic to keep him away. So he never wants to hear anyone say anything about him missing appearances. But what if Roma started thinking like “a puss” like Pearce, talking about his elbow and shoulder hurting. No one would doubt it because of the work Roman puts in! Roman’s knees hurt, and so does his neck. But what else? His ankles have been bad since college. And his back… Heyman says just the weight of it all is making Roman’s back hurt, because Roman’s been carrying the WWE for YEARS!

But what if Roman’s back continues to hurt until the Royal Rumble? What if he can’t make it because of that? Pearce walks out and says this is going too far. Heyman says Pearce is being rude not even addressing Roman. Pearce says this is spiraling out of control, and Roman can’t believe he wants to talk about control. We know who is in control. But what’s out of control is that Pearce is going against Roman. That Pearce is doing a favor and putting Kevin back into the Universal title picture. And the fact that Pearce is favoring Kevin! This isn’t even really a favor. Pearce is Kevin’s BITCH! And he’s also Roman’s bitch.

But what Roman really can’t stand right now, is Pearce having the audacity coming out here and complaining about how his body feels. Pearce hasn’t been in a match for six YEARS, but he’s talking about how his body hurts. Pearce is next to the thoroughbred of the WWE, a man who does 52 weeks a year, multiple days a week! Roman never complained, never stopped and busts his ass for this place, and that is why Roman is who Roman is! And Pearce is going to complain, whine, MOAN about stuff? “No wonder you never made it to the WWE.” Heyman chuckles at that one.

Pearce asks if this is funny to Heyman. It is. Pearce can take it from Roman but he won’t take it from Heyman. Oh? Well that’s disrespectful. Disrespecting Heyman is disrespecting Roman. Heyman, straighten Pearce out. Heyman is given the mic to speak. Pearce disrespected the Tribal Chief and his family. Heyman’s known his family 15 years. Roman’s family would not be friends with someone who isn’t tough! Do you know what it is like to be a friend of the Anoa’i family? Everyone buys into Heyman’s persona, that he’s “impotent as a man.” Heyman’s from New York, he whoop yo’ ASS for disrespecting the chief. Wanna stare Heyman down?

Heyman may not be a lawyer but he’s from a synagogue full of them. In Florida, a verbal contract is BINDING. So if you want something big for the main event, how about this? Pearce VS PAUL HEYMAN! What?! Heyman offers a handshake, and Pearce TAKES IT! The challenge is accepted!! Pearce will have his first match in six years, against Paul E. Dangerously! Roman says at the end of the night, Pearce gets his ass kicked. #BelieveThat.

 

Sami Zayn heads to the ring!

He has a sign with #JusticeForSami on it, and he brings out cuffs?! Sami is going to cuff himself to the ringside barriers as a form of protest because he is not part of tonight’s Intercontinental Championship! How will WWE officials respond to Sami’s sudden SmackDown sit-in?

SmackDown returns and Sami claims he is being victimized, but he will enter the Royal Rumble to counter it! Sami says he had Apollo Crews beat, though with hands somehow on Apollo’s tights. But then Apollo does the same thing back to him and Apollo wins?! That is not fair! But then the Empress of Tomorrow interrupts Sami with her entrance, followed by The Queen’s! The WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions are here!

Charlotte Flair & Asuka VS The Riott Squad w/ Billie Kay!

The Queens of Tomorrow have a lot going on as individuals on Raw, but they return to SmackDown to focus on their teamwork! Meanwhile, Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott haven’t been able to focus with the Femme Fatale frantically interfering. Will Billie be a burden as the Squad has a chance at earning a championship opportunity?

As the teams sort out, Natalya and Tamina are watching from backstage. The bell rings as Charlotte and Ruby start. They tie up, are in a deadlock, but Charlotte pushes Ruby to ropes. Ruby pushes back but Charlotte headlocks and throws Ruby down. Ruby keeps her shoulders up, fights to her feet, but Asuka tags in. Charlotte snapmares Ruby, Asuka runs Ruby over with a shoulder! Asuka headlocks Ruby, Ruby fights up but Charlotte tags back in. The Queens of Tomorrow hand Ruby off and Charlotte bumps Ruby off buckles! Charlotte digs her boot into Ruby’s head but lets off at 4. Ruby flounders, Charlotte taunts her to reach for Liv, then CLUBS her down.

Charlotte looms over Ruby, drags her up and whips her to a corner hard! Ruby falls over, Billie protests on the apron but Charlotte runs her off. Ruby rushes at Charlotte but into an elbow! Liv tags in as Billie shouts at Charlotte! Ruby rushes Charlotte but is thrown out, and Charlotte grabs at Billie! Liv apron dropkicks Charlotte back in! Liv hurries up top and leaps to crossbody! Cover, TWO! Billie can’t believe she’s being helpful as SmackDown goes to break!

SmackDown returns again and Charlotte blocks a buckle bump to give a buckle bump! Charlotte stomps away on Liv, backs off as the ref counts, and lets out a “WOO~!” Fans clap on their screens, Charlotte scoops Liv but Liv slips out. Liv runs, Ruby tags in, Liv huricanranas and Ruby runs in to tilt-o-whirl! Charlotte blocks the headscissors but Ruby fires off forearms! Ruby goes up and gives Charlotte DEADLY NIGHTSHADE! Cover, TWO! Tag to Liv, Sami is still filming his protest, and the Squad double SLAMS Charlotte down! Cover, ONE! Liv tags Ruby back in, they stomp away on Charlotte in a corner, and then tag again.

Ruby and Liv bring Charlotte out, double whip but charlotte stops herself to kick and forearm and CHOP! Charlotte CHOPS away, throws Ruby into buckles then kicks Liv low! EXPLODER! And kip up! Charlotte fires up but misses Liv in the corner. Liv runs into the backbreaker and BUCKLE SHOT! Tag to Asuka, SLIDING WIZARD! Cover, Ruby breaks it! Ruby runs but into Charlotte’s BOOT! Liv dropkicks Charlotte and enziguris Asuka! But Asuka has the leg for an ANKLE LOCK! Liv tries to roll through but gets caught to a trapped-leg GERMAN SUPLEX! Asuka kicks but misses, Liv rolls her to swing. Asuka blocks, reels Liv in, but Ruby tags!

Asuka lets Liv go to get Ruby, but Billie distracts! The O’Conner roll is rolled over but Billie argues too long! That costs Ruby, she has to kick Asuka! Liv saves Ruby from the hip attack but falls on Billie! Ruby SUPERKICKS but Asuka counters the Riott Kick to the pop-up KNEE! Asuka runs, tags Charlotte, CODE BREAKER to NATURAL SELECTION! Cover, the champions win!

Winners: Charlotte Flair & Asuka, by pinfall

Billie went from helping to hindering the Squad again! Will this partnership fall apart before Billie’s very eyes?

 

Billie finds the Squad backstage.

She apologizes for, for… For what, Billie? Stopping Ruby from pinning Asuka? Messing this opportunity up for them?! Yeah… Well for someone who doesn’t mean to, she’s pretty good at it. Maybe that should be put on the resume. Well, all the great teams have overcome obstacles! Billie has good news, though. She talked to Sonya Deville and the Squad is in the Women’s Rumble match! They can practice throwing Billie out over the ropes! Billie can pretend to be Bianca or Mella! No, there is no “us” anymore. The Squad works better when it’s just Ruby and Liv. Sorry. Will Billie ever catch a break?

 

Daniel Bryan is here!

And he goes past Sami’s new sign, where SAMI is an acronym: Stand Against Moral Injustice. Clever. Bryan goes to the ring and fans join in the “YES!” fingers on their screens. Bryan says a week from this Sunday is one of the most unique and historic traditions in the WWE, the Royal Rumble match. And even saying that, this time of year, a chill goes down Bryan’s spine. It’s a little hard to explain why but Bryan will give it his best shot. “It’s the uncertainty of what number you’re going to. It’s watching the countdown for every superstar that comes out. It’s waiting for that buzzer to hit, for that music to play, for you to run down, nobody knows that you’re coming, and you don’t know who’s coming out next!

“It’s the exhilaration of competing against 29 other superstars that could go over an hour, and it’s every man for themselves.” One of the most challenging, grueling things you can do in the WWE, and that makes Bryan feel alive. Despite all the pain, all the uncertainty, it is absolutely worth it because the winner gets to face the champion of their choosing in the main event of WrestleMania! Bryan is very proud of his career, he’s accomplished a lot. But the one thing he has never done is win a Royal Rumble! Experts, commentary, Michael Cole even, will say- Cesaro interrupts!

Cesaro thought he beat some sense into Bryan last week, but here Bryan is again talking about how he’ll win the Rumble. Cesaro appreciates Bryan explaining the rules, but Cesaro could’ve done it better and in five languages. But that’s besides the point. Bryan is NOT winning this year’s Rumble, Cesaro is. As the first-ever Andre the Giant Battle Royal winner, Cesaro is an expert on this. Bryan didn’t forget about the loss, but instead of talking, how about putting the mics down, and they can fight it out again? Cesaro says no. Cesaro is sick and tired of proving himself week after week doing the same thing over and over! He beat Bryan, and Bryan isn’t dressed for the occasion, Cesaro issues an open challenge! Anyone who has already declared for the Rumble, come on down!

The one to answer the open challenge is… Dolph Ziggler! One half of the SmackDown Tag Team Champions is here asking about the conversation. Ziggler has been in the second most Rumbles ever. Ziggler can go all night long, ask anyone. And aside from himself and his colleague, Robert Roode, there is no one that can go toe-to-toe with Ziggler except maybe Cesaro. No offense to Bryan but it ain’t 2014 anymore. But if we’re talking about a Rumble challenge, Ziggler wants to win to go to Mania and get paid! So Bryan, scoot over, and Cesaro, consider your challenge accepted. Will the Show-Off show up the Swiss Cyborg?

Cesaro VS Dolph Ziggler!

SmackDown returns and Bryan has joined commentary for this great match-up already underway. Ziggler has Cesaro down and has a leg, gets a cover, TWO! Cesaro gets a lateral press but Ziggler keeps his shoulder up. Cesaro pushes him around, gut wrenches and lifts but Ziggler resists by grabbing Cesaro’s leg again. Ziggler shifts, rolls, has a cover, ONE! Cesaro tries a cover, ONE! Cesaro waistlocks but Ziggler gets the ropes. Ziggler elbows Cesaro away then jumps on for a sleeper hold! Cesaro stays up, RAMS Ziggler into buckles and is free. Cesaro runs in to BLAST Ziggler with that EuroUpper! Ziggler flounders into a trip and then a SWISS SWING!

Cesaro brings Ziggler around and around for a count of 10, then maybe 15 even, or 20! Cesaro throws Ziggler, covers, TWO! Ziggler survives the swing, Cesaro stalks him to a corner, then runs in, only to get POST! Ziggler rolls Cesaro up, TWO! Cesaro back drops, Ziggler sunset flips, TWO! Cesaro sits on the cover, TWO! Ziggler sunsets, TWO! Cesaro, TWO! Ziggler, TOW! Cesaro high stacks, TWO! Ziggler pops him to a cover, TWO! SUPER- No, Cesaro blocks but uppercuts into a backslide,. Cesaro slips out, but into a ZIGZAG! Cover, TWO!! And yes, Sami is still protesting. He’s even memeing! “Sami was robbed, change my mind.”

Cesaro and Ziggler slowly rise and Ziggler sleeper holds again! Cesaro gets up, shifts Ziggler from backpack to a front facelock, for a suplex! Ziggler knees free, kicks low then runs, into a pop-up! Ziggler tries to huricanrana, but Cesaro makes it a NEUTRALIZER! Cover, Cesaro wins!

Winner: Cesaro, by pinfall

Michael Cole points out this is two times in a row that Cesaro has beaten a former world champion! Will Cesaro take the Rumble and be a WrestleMania contender?

 

Sasha Banks VS Reginald w/ Carmella!

It is very rare for WWE to do co-ed matches like this, and certain against a champion like The Boss against the sommelier in employment of The Untouchable Princess of Staten Island. Will Reginald ruin Sasha’s momentum towards the rematch with Mella?

SmackDown returns and Mella makes her entrance to accompany Reginald to the ring, two other assistants bringing the champagne and drinking glasses to the ring for them. Mella and the champagne join commentary as the bell rings. Sasha tells Reggie it’s time to put up or shut up, but Reggie presents her with an orange rose. Sasha accepts the rose but goes to slap Reggie! He blocks, only for Sasha to SLAP him with the other hand! Sasha knuckle locks, goes up and uses the ropes to arm-drag, but Reggie handsprings through! Mella says that’s her Reggie! Reggie waistlocks but Sasha resists the lift and slips out the back to switch. Reggie does the same and rolls right out of the ring!

Reggie plays some cat ‘n’ mouse and does a back flip off the apron! But Sasha wrecks him with a baseball slide dropkick! Sasha whips Reggie at the steel steps but Reggie leaps up and over! Mella applauds the bit of flair, Sasha gives chase, they go in the ring and speed things up with hurdle for hurdle. Reggie shows off with that flip, Sasha goes up and springboards, but Reggie blocks the sunset flip! Reggie wheelbarrows Sasha but she turns that into a BULLDOG! Sasha wants Mella to see why she’s the boss, but Sasha misses the meteora to hit buckles! Sasha avoids Reggie’s elbow drop, Oklahoma roll but Reggie slips out!

Reggie avoids Sasha’s dropkick to bomb lift, but Sasha arm-drags free! Sasha runs in but is put on the apron, but she knees Reggie away! Sasha goes up, leaps, crossbody but Reggie holds her up! Reggie pops Sasha up but into another arm-drag! Reggie is sent out, Sasha hurries to the apron, METEORA! Sasha slaps the champagne out of Mella’s hand! Sasha goes back into the ring with Reggie, brings him in for a backstabber but he rolls through! Sasha kicks him, and knuckle locks to flip up and into another METEORA! Mella sneers but Sasha tilt-o-whirls and drags Reggie down by his arm! BANK STATEMENT!! Reggie taps, Sasha wins!

Winner: Sasha Banks, by submission

Sasha got her revenge on Reggie, and throws him out to Mella! Will Sasha do the same to the Princess at the Royal Rumble?

 

Roman Reigns sits in his private room.

Heyman says Roman was brilliant. They got Pearce! “We? What’re you talking about?” Heyman knew what Roman was up to, he fed right into it. Roman simply passed Heyman the mic to do what he does better than anyone, and that is verbally rip someone to shreds. Roman didn’t say Heyman should challenge Pearce to a match. But Heyman has stepped into it, so he has to do this. Roman didn’t hire some punk to be Special Counsel, he hired a man. So Heyman needs to go out there and represent Roman as a man and handle business. “Paul, be a man. Handle your business.” The Special Counsel has no words, will he have no defense against Pearce?

 

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E VS Apollo Crews!

Sami Zayn is irate as Big E taunts him with the belt. But Sami is not the champion’s concern, he’s taking on the man in the ring! Big E and Apollo have been in friendly competition, but after what Heyman told both of them over these last few weeks on Talking Smack, will all of that go out the window?

The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and it’s time to #ThinkBig or go home!

Apollo rushes Big E but right into an OVERHEAD SUPLEX! Apollo goes to the apron, Big E follows and stomps him, to then run and APRON SPLASH! Big E is fired up and gets back in to run at Apollo. Apollo elbows back, BOOTS back, then runs, into a scoop! Apollo slips off, and ENZIGURIS! Big E wobbles into a BOOT! Standing moonsault! Cover, TWO! Apollo keeps focus as he stalks Big E. Apollo waistlocks and GERMAN SUPLEXES Big E! Apollo holds on to GERMAN again! Big E elbows over and over until he’s free, and he gets Apollo with the Urenag-E! Cover, TWO! Big E keeps his cool as he goes out after Apollo.

Big E and Apollo end up by the announce desk. Big E tells Apollo he’ll never make the mistake of disrespecting him again. Apollo pushes Big E away, then dodges him to go up the apron and MOONSAULT! Direct hit and down goes Big E! Apollo gets Big E back in at the ring count of 8 then climbs up top! Big E hits Apollo first then climbs up to join him. Big E throws forearms, stands Apollo up, but Apollo resists the superplex! Apollo throws headbutts as fans clap on their screens! Big E falls back, Apollo adjusts, but Sami uncuffs himself! Sami’s strike is over as Apollo leaps to missile dropkick Big E!

Apollo resets but Sami HELLUVA KICKS him!! SAMI SCREWS APOLLO!

Winner: Apollo Crews by disqualification (Big E is still WWE Intercontinental Championship)

And then Sami HELLUVA KICKS Big E! And Sami has the nerve to talk about injustice! Sami says HE is the champion, but that this is what Big E and Apollo deserve! Will Sami get what he deserves soon enough?

 

Kevin Owens speaks.

“I showed up to work today, and I was told I couldn’t get into the building because Roman Reigns pulled some strings to make sure I wouldn’t be there. Roman, dude… It’s fine. But just know this: at the Royal Rumble, there’s no more strings for you to pull.” At the Rumble, they will settle this once and for all. And Roman calls Kevin “a cockroach that won’t die,” and tells him to just stop fighting, but Kevin can’t do that. Roman has yet to beat Kevin like the champion he claims to be. Roman did not earn those victories. The family did that for him.

And the other reason Kevin keeps fighting is this. Kevin has a lot of tattoos, and they all have a story behind them. He has his wife’s name on his wrist, his kids’ names on the other side, then one to remind him of his parents. Kevin fights for all of them, but he has tattoos on his knuckles. These are his grandfathers’ initials: M for Melvin, his dad’s dad, and P is for Pierre, his mom’s dad. Those men had Kevin’s back all the way. They were his biggest fans, and nothing made them happier than seeing Kevin in the ring. The biggest regret Kevin will have is that he didn’t make it to the WWE in time for them to see, because they both passed away just before.

But they will always be with Kevin. The mark they left on Kevin will always be there, because both men battled illnesses that should’ve made their lives a lot shorter. Those two men refused to quit, and because of that, Kevin was lucky to have many, many great years with them. So how can Kevin stop fighting? That is why Kevin will not stay away and why he will #JustKeepFighting. That is why come Royal Rumble, Kevin will be the Last Man Standing.

 

The Street Profits have a basket.

Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins see Ziggler talking with Sonya, and have a quick question: Are you ready~, ready~? This is a celebratory basket for congratulating Sonya on her new job and office! But don’t jump the gun! They’re not just congratulating her on the new gig. She sits next to Pearce, looking pretty, but they have business. It has been two, two weeks, since the Profits lost the SmackDown Tag Team Championships against Ziggler & Roode, Entertainment Dysfunction. Put that on a t-shirt, it’ll make millions! But that aside, the Profits- Sonya knows they want their rematch. She’s so smart!

Sonya knows they were champions for 312 days, won two Slammy Awards, so yes they deserve a rematch. But Ford is still recovering from the leg injury. If he gets in that ring too soon, gets hurt and is out of action, that hurts SmackDown as a whole. So hear her out: For now, hang out, keep doing your segments to hype the show, and let another team get the opportunity. Then when Ford is 100%, he and Dawkins get back in the game and back in the title picture. Cool with t hat, fam? yeah, that’s cool. Golly, Sonya, thanks for your concern. Enjoy the basket! It’s expensive. But will the long wait really work out in the Profits’ favor?

 

Ultimate Athletic Obstacle Course Challenge: Bayley VS Bianca Belair!

The Role Model wants The EST to prove she’s still got it when it comes to being the strongest, the fastest, the roughest, the toughest, etc. Therefore, SmackDown is setting up a truly challenging obstacle course for them both to run! Who backs up their words, after the break?

SmackDown returns and Michael Cole presides over this special competition, and gives the introductions for Bianca, then for Bayley. Bayley takes over and says DING DONG, BYE Cole. This is her show now! And look, Bianca, this is what Bayley has for her. America Ninja Warrior ain’t got nothing on UAOCC! This is of course timed, starting right here with the “big ol’ 400 pound tractor tire,” which you only need to flip once. Go down the ramp, take on the short hurdles, climb the trio of military walls. And then Bayley even got advice from Chad Gable and Alpha Academy, he will put you through the full body test, the fireman’s carry!

But that’s not all! The very last challenge is grab the basketball, put it through the net, and time stops at the exact moment the ball exits the bottom of the net! The competitor with the shortest time is of course the winner! Let’s get the clock going, and Bayley wants to go first. Bianca says that’s fine, and we begin… NOW! Bayley flips the tire, hurries down the ramp, though not quite that quickly, and takes on the hop hurdles to go right at the military walls. The short one seems to throw her off, and she just weaves around them?! Is that allowed?

Bayley fireman’s carries Gable, and he seems to be heavier than he looks. Bianca “cheers” Bayley on as she goes from one end to another, then she gets the ball to DUNK- no, wait, there! Bayley finishes at 1:12. But she says she did Bianca a favor. “Let’s EST up this course,” all for Bianca. Oh, the hurdles are now full hurdles, and Bianca wraps her braid. GO! Bianca easily flips the tire, runs down the ramp., leaps the hurdles, leaps the walls, but she isn’t carrying Gable, but OTIS! Bianca has 40 seconds, she carries the 330 pound Otis with ease, then gets the ball and even dares Bayley to play D! She breaks ankles and DUNKS! She had 17 seconds to spare!

Winner: Bianca Belair

Sorry, Bayley, but that’s the power of the EST! Bayley is a sore loser and throws the ball at Bianca! And then hammers away with forearms and stomps! The ref reprimands but Bayley doesn’t care, as she POSTS Bianca and knocks down the basketball hoop! Bayley storms off, perhaps having proven she’s the meanest on the roster.

 

Rey Mysterio coaches Dominik backstage.

Rey reviews with Dom that Baron Corbin is a former boxer, so he has to watch out for the hands. Dom says Rey can trust him to have this. Dom is comfortable with his skills and has prepared. Okay, then we’ll do it his way. But if something goes wrong, they do it Rey’s way. That’s fair. Dom heads out, will he be able to trump the Wolf King?

 

Dominik Mysterio VS King Corbin!

SmackDown returns as Corbin is already in the ring. Dominik makes his entrance, leaving Rey backstage so he can handle things. The bell rings and Dom circles with Corbin. They tie up, Corbin powers Dom to a corner but Dom dodges the hands to throw hands of his own! Dom rams his shoulder in but Corbin shoves him away. Dom dropkicks but Corbin stays up. Dom whips, Corbin reverses but Dom wheelbarrows and throws Corbin out of the ring! The ring count climbs but Dom slingshots, only for Corbin to get clear and CLOBBER him! Corbin drags Dom up and into the ring, covers, TWO! Corbin already glares at the ref as he grows annoyed.

Corbin stalks Dom, drags him to ropes and stands on him! The ref counts, Corbin hops off at 4, then drags Dom up to throw body shots! The ref counts, Corbin lets off at 4 again, then stands Dom up. Corbin whips Dom corner to corner hard! Dom bounces off buckles to hit the mat, and Corbin takes his time bringing Dom back up. Corbin brings Dom around, reel shim in but Dom slips out to dropkick a leg! Corbin ends up on ropes, Dom dials it up but the call is blocked! Corbin drags Dom from ropes, yanks but Dom lands on his feet, only for Corbin to DECK him! Corbin reels Dom in and hits END OF DAYS! Cover, Corbin wins!

Winner: Baron Corbin, by pinfall

The Wolf King wins because he did this his way! Will the Mysterios regroup and draw up a winning game plan?

 

Adam Pearce VS Paul Heyman w/ Roman Reigns!

Scrap Daddy’s switcheroo not only got the better of the Special Counsel last week, it might be why he stuck his foot in his mouth this week! Will Pearce’s return to the ring also get the better of Paul E. Dangerously? Has the Head of the Table truly left Heyman hanging?

Heyman is taping his hands on his way to the ring, but stumbles off the steps? The ref checks on Heyman but he says he’s fine. Give him a minute to walk it off. Heyman fumbles on the steps again and Pearce smells a plot. After all, he let his “bum leg” be why Kevin Owens is back in the title match. And just as he knew, Heyman cites “card subject to change.” This was the trump card Heyman had up his sleeve! Roman did NOT leave the building, he’s heading to the ring! Now that the bait ‘n’ switch is on the other foot, will Scrap Daddy be scrap metal?

Adam Pearce VS Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman!

Roman SUPERMAN PUNCHES Pearce the second he’s in the ring! This isn’t even a match because the bell hasn’t rung! Heyman says he has obviously found a suitable replacement, and Roman is pulling steps apart. Pearce throws a haymaker! Roman glares at Pearce, and LOW BLOW KICKS him! And then throws Pearce OVER the barriers! Roman is snarling as he goes around the way to drag Pearce up and throw him INTO ThunderDome screens! And then he drags Pearce up to throw heavy forearms! And then throws him into stage wall! Fans give thumbs down but that’s not going to save Pearce from Roman’s wrath!

Roman fireman’s carries Pearce and puts him on the upper level, the same place he threw Kevin off of. But speaking of, Kevin runs in and attacks Roman! Kevin saves Pearce as he throws haymakers and bumps Roman off barriers! Roman throws Kevin into screens, throws haymakers of his own, then they brawl to ringside! It’s Royal Rumble come early! Roman puts Kevin in the ring, storms in but into a USUPERKICK! Roman SUPERMAN PUNCH- NO! STUNNER from Kevin!! Kevin dares Roman to get back up! Roman sputters as he gets out of the ring but Kevin whips him into barriers! And clubs away on his back!

Referees rush out to try and stop this, and Kevin backs off to cool off. But then Kevin comes back to STOMP Roman into barriers! Roman flounders back up, referees try to talk Kevin down, and even Pat Buck, Pearce’s coworker. But Kevin gets past them to give Roman another STUNNER! Kevin wants Heyman to say something but Heyman has nothing to say! So Kevin brings Roman over, pops him up, POWERBOMB through the announce desk!! Kevin is pulling steel steps apart! The refs keep him from bringing that over to Roman! Kevin says Roman’s lucky the officials are here to stop him, but it won’t happen at the Royal Rumble! Will Kevin truly #StunTheWorld when he is THE Last Man Standing?


My Thoughts:

A great SmackDown that honestly could’ve been a go-home to the Royal Rumble in some cases. Charlotte & Asuka VS Riott Squad was good, but naturally the champions win, mostly because Billie was too involved. She has been kicked out of the Riott Squad, though she wasn’t really a member to begin with, but I feel like they could’ve gone another week, though. Natty & Tamina were watching backstage, I wouldn’t mind seeing them get a match with Charlotte & Asuka, even if they were to lose. The match of Sasha Banks VS Reginald was pretty good, mostly because Reggie is insanely athletic. Depending on how the story goes of him being Mella’s sommelier, maybe he can split off and get into like 205 Live and the Cruiserweight Division to freshen things up a bit.

But of course Sasha wins, she’s the champion. I have a feeling this means the go-home sees Mella standing tall so that Sasha is still the favored to win. The “Ultimate” obstacle course challenge was very clearly going to be won by Bianca, but I commend Bayley for trying to rig it in her favor. Though, shouldn’t she have been penalized or even disqualified for outright skipping those military style walls? Pretty sure we’re getting a match between the two, and Bianca can sell the bad arm to “overcome” it and win, for big momentum going into the Women’s Rumble.

The Profits had a good segment with Sonya, and I like that, at least on the surface, Sonya is being a responsible official and having the Profits wait so they can be healed up. But I wonder if there will even be defenses in that time, as there aren’t many tag teams on SmackDown. It’s mostly the champs, the Profits, Cesaro-Nakamura, and maybe Alpha Academy, aka Gable & Otis. Dom VS Corbin felt like filler just to get things to what Rey was talking about last week, which should’ve just been what we got this week. Unless it was because the person they have in mind (Cain Velasquez) isn’t available right now because of some COVID concerns. That I’d understand.

Sami Zayn “protesting” this episode just so he’d be ringside for the Intercontinental Championship was a pretty good long game for the episode. Sami’s signs were clever, but it does seem a shame for what should’ve been a huge match. Maybe we get another Triple Threat for this title, and that is the way Big E loses. Though, I think it’d work well if Big E won, making his reign feel even bigger from having dealt with two contenders. After that, Big E can face just about anyone else on the roster, such as Nakamura, Cesaro or even Otis. And speaking of, Cesaro had a good promo with Bryan and a really good match with Ziggler, but I feel like all these wins are setting Cesaro up to not win the Rumble. But I said the same thing about Bryan making it his mission to win the reason he won’t, so maybe as far as SmackDown goes, it’s between the two of them as Rumble finalists.

And again, we got a lot of great stuff out of the Roman Reigns story. The opening promo segment was really good, it helped set up the main event, and gave a great tease of Pearce VS Heyman. But Heyman using the fake injury and “card subject to change” back on Pearce was also very clever, and naturally it was Roman who would beat Pearce up to get back at him for everything so far. Kevin had a really good promo, made a great save, and got to stand tall tonight with the table bomb. I’m curious as to Kevin’s part in the go-home next week. I can’t see him standing tall two weeks in a row just to keep the math in Roman’s favor, so maybe Roman turns this around to then defy the math and still retain the title. I’m pretty sure Roman does retain, and we leave it up to the Rumble to decide the rest.

My Score: 8.5/10


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