WWE Backstage has Balor, The Big Dog and more!
It’s a special edition before the regularly scheduled weekly programming! And after the wild week for the WWE, Roman Reigns and Finn Balor will each speak to Renee Young and Booker T!
Renee Young, Booker T, Christian and Paige are back again!
The “one-stop shop” for everything WWE and sports entertainment is ready for a big night! SmackDown just wrapped, and Team Hogan’s Blue Brand members were victorious! Booker loved seeing Ali “soaring with the greatest of ease!” A great match from all six men, but Booker puts Roman over as the elite athlete he is. Renee wants to talk Shorty G, and Paige doesn’t get the name. Or the attire. Renee was just building up to it to tear it down. Is he straight outta Space Jam with the basketball shorts? Just, why? Shorty G, they love you, buddy, but c’mon. Booker admits it does help him stand out, though. Christian says that Gable has the prowess, but he does need the personality to connect. Say what you want, fans are talking and they know who Shorty G is. Paige enjoys the silver linings.
Renee also wants to talk Brock Lesnar again destroying Dominic Mysterio, Rey and Cain Velasquez. Booker says they should’ve kept Dominic closer, but Christian says they shouldn’t have done Bring Your Kid to Work Day. Paige just hopes they get him a new shirt after what Lesnar did. We relive the attack with replay footage, and Lesnar was truly a Beast. Lesnar should go to therapy for that anger. Booker knows that’s just the savage intensity of Lesnar that he’s known for years. Christian says that is what makes Lesnar different from anyone else in the WWE. It could go off the rails at any moment. Lesnar walks the halls, people move out of the way. But then with Crown Jewel and that world title match, will there be a TKO in WWE? Paige wants to see that matching scar happen. Booker knows Velasquez is legit, and when those two will collide, that is worth the price of admission alone.
Christian likes the dynamic of Velasquez as the man who beat Lesnar, and Lesnar’s scar, this adds so much to the match. Nine years later, Renee knows that is a long time to brew. Paige wants the translation for Velasquez’s furious Spanish message back to Lesnar. Renee and Booker are both pretty confident Velasquez vowed to kill Lesnar. Wow!
Renee moves on to discuss the resurrection of the Firefly Fun House and of Ramblin’ Rabbit. Somehow, some way, both Bray Wyatt’s twisted children’s show and his seemingly immortal bunny buddy are back, but is this too soon? It doesn’t take a lot to rebuild that place. Renee says Booker doesn’t know that! He also performed an animal resurrection. Paige wants to bring up again, making “Burn It Down” happen isn’t going to happen, WWE needs to lighten up on that. But the fans are still into it! Christian does like that the Fun House is still what it is, and Bray is showing this other side of him through it. Will the Fun House go with the WWE to Riyadh? The title is on the line, what does everyone think? Booker knows the title match takes focus, but the title itself might not be what The Fiend is after. Paige wouldn’t mind seeing Universal Champion Bray Wyatt, though.
Roman Reigns is here!
The Big Dog is backstage in the locker room but is on Backstage via video. What a night for Roman! That’s what Friday is about. Team Hogan stands tall, and as team captain, what is the plan? Roman figures just using the same formula. Hogan and Jimmy Hart being motivating, they know this ring, so the team just uses that knowledge and momentum. Booker knows this is a once in a lifetime match, what is it like to be the captain? Well Roman as a generational superstar, knowing his dad and uncle were around with Hogan, Roman wants to represent the bloodline while also coming full circle. He is very proud to be part of this.
Christian asks about the superstars mixing with their egos and styles. Everyone wants Roman’s spot as the face of SmackDown. How does he keep everyone in line to keep winning? They just treat it like the gym. Check the egos, understand each other has something to offer, and then just keep focused. And then they’ll be untouchable like they were tonight. This is a very special team, to be sure. Renee knows Roman’s strengths, but who does he feel he could rely on in his team? They have a great mix of Ali, Shorty G, Ricochet and Rusev, he looks forward to being on the same side with all these guys. Rusev especially is a great mix of speed and strength, he and Roman can be the power while Ali and Ricochet are the flying and finesse.
Renee wants to know what Roman expects for the future of Friday Night SmackDown? Roman barely gets to start his answer when KING CORBIN attacks! The Lone Wolf wants revenge, but referees rush in! Corbin throws luggage down on Roman then rains down rights! The King of the Ring rages while the cameraman has to get out of the way. Paige knew this was going to happen! Corbin always does this. Renee hopes things calm down and Roman is okay, but excuses the show to break. Christian was mildly impressed Corbin kept his crown on during all that.
Why, Finn, Why?!
The Extraordinary Man returned to NXT, and claimed his future was his past. No one knew what to make of that, but Full Sail was fired up to see him stand alongside Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. However, Balor would swerve us all and attack Johnny Wrestling! The WWE Universe and locker room exploded seeing this, and Shawn Michaels himself tweeted out, “Well that’s one way to return to NXT…”
But now, live in studio, it’s Finn Balor himself! Booker T and Renee Young sit in their interview ring as Finn joins them. Finn feels on top of the world. Renee thanks Finn for being the first superstar to show up live. First thing’s first: why return to NXT? Finn has heard people ask him that over and over, “Why NXT? Why go back?” For Finn, Raw and SmackDown are like Hollywood, an Avengers movie, where you just hide behind special effects and bright lights. NXT is Broadway, there’s nothing between you and the audience. Finn wanted to test himself, and find the real Balor again.
Booker sees the story in Finn’s eyes. The longest reigning NXT Champion at 292, going back there, Booker things back to Road Warriors in 1985. How did it feel returning there? It felt good. It felt better kicking Johnny Gargano down again and again, leaving Full Sail speechless. Renee does admit, that was a shocker. That felt so good to be back in that world, and to who he really is. Renee knows there’s a particular club out there wanting to talk, has Finn contacted them back? Oh yes, he’s spoken to a lot of people. Everyone wants their piece of Finn.
Booker brings it back to the kick to Gargano. He senses a different feel in Finn Balor. Booker wants to know: Is this the new or the original? This is the real Finn. Booker knows his from before WWE and NXT, right? Of course, Booker uses Finn as a framework for his wrestling students. Booker said Finn is the future, but Finn again said the future is his past. “The Princes is back.” Well fair enough. Renee and Booker thank Finn for joining them. What will the prince do now that he’s back to his old self?
BREAKING NEWS for next week’s SmackDown!
Regardless of who wins at Crown Jewel, Roman Reigns wants personal payback on King Baron Corbin! Will Roman get revenge both in Riyadh and in the States? Or will Corbin just add on the beat downs?
The panel reacts.
Christian knows Corbin is just rattling Roman’s cage, but now there’ll be a huge Friday main event. Christian is reminded of a younger him in Corbin: a very punchable face. Booker is also reminded of himself when he was KING BOOKAH! “Being hated is a gift.” Being unlikable is a real talent, because you needed a villain to hate. People may not like it, Corbin is great in the ring. Corbin and Gable had great matches, and Booker likes Corbin throwing his royal weight around. But does he need better regalia? Yes, Booker will look into it for him.
The panel moves on to Monday Night Raw.
The quick rundown is Rusev getting arrested for wanting to wreck Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre making an impact against Ricochet as he joins Team Flair, and Shelton Benjamin pushing “The Godfather” Cain Velasquez too far. Plus, Humberto Carrillo earned Seth Rollins’ respect, AJ Styles got himself one of Kevin Owens’ stunners, and the Street Profits earned themselves a HUGE main event debut victory!
Time for a Hot Tag!
30 seconds on the clock, and Renee almost leaves Christian hanging on that high-five. Paige, which debut was the best? The Street Profits! Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are hyped, are over, and are amazing both in their moves and their gear. There isn’t much else to say other than it is great for them to be on Raw now. Booker knows them as “Tez” and “Angie.” Renee was impressed that that baby’s mother was so trusting with Ford, a total stranger.
Xavier Woods suffered an Achilles injury during the WWE Australia tour, and that means roughly a year of being out of action. Booker knows this is no joke, so what does he see for the New Day? Booker got hurt in Australia, too, and was out for months, thinking his career was over. But an Achilles, that is serious stuff, Xavier might be over. The panel wishes Xavier the best. And Xavier live tweets that he’s watching Backstage, so he surely heard! Don’t listen to Booker’s negativity.
Lastly, the Falls Count Anywhere that “can’t be stopped for any reason,” other than a victory. Christian takes this one, says that Bray Wyatt treads in Roddy Piper territory. He is so big, he doesn’t need a title. He is that in tune with everything he’s doing, but he can’t possibly lose. Something that we’ve never seen before needs to happen, and part of that is for The Fiend to win the title. Even though he doesn’t need it, he should have it. Paige agrees. Booker and Renee start feeling Rollins could be done. Crown Jewel is coming, and the panel is all excited, but we’ll all have to wait and see how it turns out.
WWE Backstage hears from Josh Reddick.
The Houston Astros’ outfielder is a big fan of the WWE, and has always loved Triple H. Growing up, when HHH became The Game, that fired Reddick up and made spitting look awesome. But Austin VS Vince was a classic feud, Vince was just the perfect villain. Reddick has no shame in being a WWE fan, but will Reddick live another dream of winning the World Series again?
Time to go to Promo School!
Former NFL football player and host of American Ninja Warrior, long-time WWE fan Akbar Gbaja-Biamila is Backstage! He is excited to be here! He and Renee met back on SmackDown once while it was still on USA Network, and she talked to both him and co-host Matt Iseman. He cut a quick promo, saying he and Iseman would lay the smack down, and then joke around wanting to get into the ring. Akbar has the pec flex, and he shows it off now in the present. Akbar dares Booker to try, but Booker says he has a suit on right now.
Paige wants to know, that Akbar was quoted as saying, if he could go back in time and start his life over, he’d be a WWE superstar and not an NFL football player. Is that true? 100%! The WWE has always been part of his life, but he got thrown into basketball and football. Will he join them now? He’s all in! He’s ready to go! Then he gets to prove it in Promo School!
Booker’s advice is that the 6’6″, 265 pound Akbar can sell being even bigger, like 7′. Hold your mic in your dominant hand and use your free hand to articulate and illustrate. And maybe pay up some accent, if you feel it. Renee lets him know he could get a grade, since this is school. Akbar promises not to fail, but he’s up against Captain Charisma! Christian looks for his peeps as he walks out and locks eyes with Akbar.
Akbar starts off.
Back up, look up and show respect to the Nigerian Ninja Nightmare! Nice nickname. Christian is in the presence of greatness. he’s in the presence of Booker T, the two-time Hall of Famer. He is in the presence of Paige, youngest Diva’s Champion ever! What does Christian know about that? Pray homage to the Macho Man, the creeeeam of the crop! Christian is just cream of wheat, and Akbar eats that for breakfast. Christian, it’s a sin for you to be standing in front of him at just 6’1″. Bigger on TV? Akbar is here in person, in the present, and dares Christian to step up! But he has no idea what he’s stepped into. Now back up! Akbar grabs Christian and says that after he’s done with christian, even Canada’s universal healthcare will reject him!
Renee and Paige have shivers! Booker loves it, too! The grades are in, and Akbar gets a D- from Renee!? Because Akbar put over Booker and Paige, and then nothing for Renee! It wasn’t personal, it was getting caught up in the moment. Okay, okay, she’ll make it a B+! Paige goes with a B, because the physicality was early, but the enthusiasm was all there. Akbar knows he could actually beat up Christian. Renee is sure he did it because he felt he had to do it. Booker has a B+, too. Akbar had great aggression and levels to his promo, and really got in there and roughed Christian up a little. Good stuff. Christian chimes in that he liked Akbar’s confidence.
But now Christian gives the receipt.
A confident man, Akbar is. But confidence can be a smokescreen for hope. When you challenge Captain Charisma, you hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Talking about greatness? Christian scratched and clawed to become world champion. He is the biggest overachiever in this business. Akbar is a specimen, but big guys have come and gone. What happens when you peel the layers back? Let’s do that. Akbar means “greatest,” but seeing him play football, Christian assumes his last name translates to, “Just kidding.” Struck a nerve? This is more pressure than the NFL, than American Ninja Warrior. Akbar is smart, he wrote a book titled, “Everyone Can Be A Ninja.” Well let’s see, maybe his next book should be, “I Went One-on-One with Christian, and He Handed Me My Ass.” The panel is pumped and Akbar has to admit that was good. But is it time to fight? Kidding!
The Man Comes Around!
Becky Lynch has been kicking lass her whole career, but none more so than after one simple Tweet: “I Am The Man.” And now, on the anniversary of that moment, Becky tweeted a thank you to the fans for getting behind her. But now, we take a look back alongside Becky on the match that sparked it all: SummerSlam 2018, and the Triple Threat for the SmackDown Women’s Championship!
Becky felt this was a huge turning point for her one way or another. Money in the Bank was the literal rise, even though she didn’t win. But a connection was made that was special, that was tangible. The year before that, Becky wasn’t even at SummerSlam. And then going to a crowd favorite in a highly anticipated match, it was surreal. That Triple Threat was intense, and it started to look like Becky was going to have the win. But what sticks out is when Charlotte gave Becky Natural Selection to snatch the win outta nowhere. The fans got up and cheered. When Becky hugged Charlotte, all those boos, it was the fans wanting to see Becky snap. And so when Becky did, the sound that came from the crowd was amazing. Becky can’t put it into words. She remembers becoming consumed by that moment, and she knew that it was her moment. That set the wrestling world on fire.
The panel also talks SummerSlam 2018.
Paige has known Becky for a very long time, and so seeing that recap gives her goosebumps. Paige and Becky were in the indies, Paige knew of Becky bouncing around jobs, and was watching the night Becky got her face busted and bloody, yet took the world by storm. It is the most amazing journey for anyone, man or woman, and Paige is so proud. Renee was also there to see Becky’s rise, going from having nothing in 2017 and being dejected, to then find what clicks with her true self, it has been an amazing ride.
Christian knows that if you can just shrug off worries and fear of getting fired or benched or whatever, going all or nothing, that is great. Becky stopped caring, she was herself, the fans got behind it. That confidence feeds everything else you do, and that is when you reach that next level. Renee agrees, Becky is on her own level. Booker also agrees, it is about making things happen for yourself. Don’t wait on management and creative, get out there and do something that forces them to go along with you. Becky is truly The Man. Who knows where Becky goes from here? She has a match with the Pirate Princess on Raw, while Seth Rollins takes on Erick Rowan’s Falls Count Anywhere challenge as a sampler for Crown Jewel! Will The Man and her man both be successful on Monday?
The Sassy Southern Belle snubs The Great One!
WWE was in Trenton, New Jersey, recently, and upon seeing a picture of The Rock, Lacey Evans slapped a picture of herself over it! Lacey’s tweet: “Smell that, ya nasty!” The Rock’s response? “Look Tracey, Stacey, whatever… If you’re gonna picture hack me, at least get an image of your bad ass self covering my entire body as not to leave my cheat meal enhanced midriff exposed. #YoureWelcome.” Lacey fires back to point out her name, and says she’s “got more charisma in my bad ass pinky finger than this entire company you left behind.” Thank her later for picking up where he left off. Does Lacey get kudos for going after the People’s Champion?
Paige is loving the sass! Lacey lives the Sassy Southern Belle, she is always on, never off, and Paige is getting weirdly obsessed. Renee also wants to point out, The Rock doesn’t just respond to every superstar and wrestler that wants to get Twitter beef with him just for the rub. He is very selective, so him picking out Lacey is big. Booker says it is simple, it’s the “wub.” Christian likes that social media is a tool the other generations never had. Lacey isn’t just charming and flattering, she plays it up and lives the part. With that, the panel says good night, and wants everyone to prepare for the true premiere of WWE Backstage on November 5th, 11PM Eastern! To entice viewers, it will have Rob Gronkowski AND John Cena!
Alright, not a bad second episode before the official run “premieres” in a couple weeks. There was still a lot of breaking the fourth wall, a lot of shoot talk like what a site like ours would do, but it started to say towards kayfabe more for the majority. They basically front-loaded the kayfabe, talking about the shows and having the superstar interviews. It was a good move during Roman’s interview promo for Corbin to attack, that’s just standard Heel stuff. Now, making a 1v1 match for SmackDown next week is a bit silly, this should just intensify the Crown Jewel PPV match. But I also get that they need to do something for that post-Crown-Jewel episode, even if Corbin VS Roman is redundant from the many times they had matches in the past. Finn was fully in character, which was great, and I am so great he was saying “real” rather than old, new or whatever. I really hope “Prince” Balor gets to do some wild Heel stuff in the coming weeks.
The Hot Tag and Promo School segments were good. It is a shame what happened with Xavier, I just hope he can make a return. I’m surprised Backstage didn’t take time to talk what it means also for Big E and Kofi. Do they stick to tag? Do they each try to be singles superstars so that they can have the world and Intercontinental titles? Akbar did great in the promo, and while Backstage is Fox/Fox Sports 1, being on American Ninja Warrior, an NBC Universal show, maybe Akbar could do stuff on Raw or NXT now, to at least be a personality. I really did like the recap for the rise of The Man. WWE Backstage is definitely good for getting some real-life thoughts and feelings from the talent, so I hope they are able to keep these retrospectives up. But the show kinda fizzles out trying to highlight social media happenings. A segment like that could be used to fill time earlier in the show so that we end strong, such as with the retrospective. These special edition “preview” episodes are obviously the testing ground for this stuff, but so far it’s been pretty good.