Money, money, moooney! MONEY~!
Money in the Bank is just days away! Renee Young and the WWE Backstage crew are ready for Sunday, but who is going in with the best odds?
Renee Young welcomes us Backstage!
She is sure viewers just finished up the Best of WWE marathon but there’s still so much more. The classic Backstage panel of Booker T, Christian and Paige join Renee. Paige wants a nickname like Christian’s #BackstageBuddha. Wait, what’s Booker’s nickname? Six-time world champion. Oh, right. Well they’ll come up with something before the end of the night. But with just five nights left before MITB, everyone’s in go-home mode! In case you missed it, here’s…
Just the Hightlights!
On SmackDown: The New Day LOST to the Forgotten Sons, and now there’s a FATAL 4 WAY set for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships! Will the eighth reign end already? Then Sonya Deville turned up the heat on Mandy Rose, “karma’s a b*tch, b*tch!” But Otis got revenge as he took out the Show-off and is now headed to Titan Towers! And of course, Bray Wyatt wants to get in the mind of Braun Strowman, but it’s not so easy to intimidate a Monster Among Men. They still have one more night this Friday, will the face-to-face be where and when Strowman will #LetHimIn?
On Raw: The Irresistible Force feels the only “skill” she needs is her relentlessness. But Asuka and Shayna Baszler both showed her they can be relentless, with a double BOOT! Then it was a PHENOMENAL Return in the #LastChanceGauntlet! AJ Styles wins his way into the MITB Corporate Ladder match, but will he stand atop the WWE? Charlotte Flair avoided ObLIVion and is rolling into tomorrow night’s NXT. Will the Queen make every woman bow down to her? And in the main event, Drew McIntyre defeated the disciple and thwarted the Monday Night Messiah’s scheme to #BurnItDown! Will destiny be lost in Claymore Country?
The panel discusses the week.
Seth Rollins is all but unstoppable when it comes to MITB, but Drew McIntyre has just been unstoppable. How does everyone few this first feud for the new champion? Christian says just as he said last week, he is loving what both guys are bringing. The confidence of McIntyre and how easy he makes it look, and how he defeated Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, McIntyre needs another big win. Rollins has the equity as a character and performer that a loss here won’t hurt. If anything, it might help. Rollins could get darker and meaner, and use excuses. “Take it from a guy who knows, it’s not a lie if you believe it.” Paige agrees, and Christian nailed it. She is happy that McIntyre has this spotlight, because it’s fresh and new. Rollins can develop his character even more, even in a loss.
Booker doesn’t feel McIntyre needs to win the match, so long as he doesn’t lose the title. This is a match made in heaven, as both guys can get so much out of each other in the long haul. Booker doesn’t see six months as unreasonable for these two to go back and forth with each other. He always loved leaving the Babyface down in the dirt. There are plenty of moments to get like this, and in the end, the audience wins. Renee asks if this means “we’re just getting started here.” Of course! This is one of those things that at the end of their careers, both Rollins and McIntyre can go, “Do you remember that? We went out there and did it.” Those moments you remember forever. Booker remembers the ones he felt, and that’s this. Christian adds that the interesting thing will be how Murphy plays into it.
Renee moves things to Strowman. The Monster Among Men must go backward to go forward, in that he is confronting his past with Bray Wyatt. Bray wants to rewrite this story like he did with John Cena, but Strowman dared Bray to say all that to his face. Renee says this is great story telling, but asks if it is good enough to be compelling on Sunday? Booker starts with that at the beginning, The Fiend Bray and Strowman, he was thinking to get this one done and out of the way. But now, we’ve seen the human side of Strowman behind the monster. This is a monster that thinks, and that is even more dangerous! But more than anything, Strowman needs his time in the sun. Don’t just lose the moment, both guys can elevate each other, it just depends on how it’s written out.
Renee knows Paige has been a big fan of Bray since the start, but miscommunication makes Christian think it’s his turn. Calm down, Backstage Buddha. But Paige confirms, she loves how there’s the history here. This is a big moment, and uses Booker’s idea for McIntyre and Rollins going for months for this story. Bray can take a loss, and the story can keep going for months and it keeps us intrigued. Now Christian gets his turn, and Christian stands by saying this feels rushed. It could’ve been bigger, like for SummerSlam. Christian doesn’t want to see Bray lose again, because he needs to stay dangerous. This needs the time to build. He did like Bray bringing up “The Black Sheep” and all, because that is what makes Bray different from the others. It just seems that right now, we should wait until SummerSlam to make it even better.
Booker counters by saying there’s no stopping it now. That’s like stopping between Houston and Dallas, where there’s nothing. The train has to keep rolling! One thing they need to agree on is that when there’s a moment to be had, that’s something that you may never get back. Christian does not agree, and says the moment could be and should have been even bigger. The intrigue won’t go away, so this should be an appetizer and then have things go other directions, and we circle back for SummerSlam. Paige, break the tie! Well, sorry, Christian, Paige is with Booker on this. Renee actually does agree with Christian, though. But Booker says this is why he’s a two-time Hall of Famer.
Backstage will #FadeToBlack!
The Embodiment of the End is here for the first time on Backstage! He joins Renee and Christian to talk his first-ever MITB, the most unique MITB ever! How excited is he for this opportunity? Aleister says there is excitement, but also caution. It is such a unique MITB during a unique time in our history. Aleister isn’t sure what to expect, other than the ladders at the very end. But there is definitely some mental planning ahead of time. Christian notes the MITB propels many superstars to new heights in the past, and Christian is a big fan of Aleister’s. He wants to give Aleister advice, but this corporate ladder match is too different. Aleister mentioned his mind set, but what would winning mean to him?
Well as Christian said, winning will propel Aleister to the next stage he needs to reach. It gives Aleister the opportunity to broaden the horizon that is Aleister Black. And at the same time, this match’s uniqueness is both an advantage and disadvantage. This being set up this way, no one knows what they’re walking into. They know it is at WWE HQ, that there is a briefcase and there are ladders, but what they don’t know is the building’s conditions. Aleister hasn’t been there personally, but Titan Towers brings many variables. Aleister’s own style is tactical, so maybe he can use that unpredictability to his advantage.
Renee notes that the circumstances being the simultaneous nature of the Men’s and Women’s matches adds a lot of bodies to the situation. What does Aleister think of that variable? Chances are, the unpredictability, elements he can’t control, that’s something you can’t account for. That can be a distraction that could go either way. Aleister will have to adapt to on the fly, though he is confident in his adaptability. Renee asks about Styles threatening to throw someone off the roof. Aleister is not intimidated by that roof. Styles will have to work incredibly hard to even manager that. Why would Styles even give that idea away? It tells Aleister the lengths Styles is willing to go to, but he also showed his hand, so Aleister will be ready.
Christian says there are plenty of mind games. But switching gears, Paul Heyman is a big fan of Aleister’s. How has it been behind the scenes with Heyman since Aleister joined Raw? Aleister had this thought a couple days ago, talking with Heyman. He had a conversation, then an hour later he reflected. People like Heyman, Christian and Edge are now people that Aleister can call and get advice to help him get further in the WWE. Never in a million years did he imagine him, just some kid from Amsterdam, would be in the position to not only have an MITB opportunity, but to be a fan favorite and be informed by icons like Heyman, Christian and Edge. But at the same time, Aleister has accepted that he needs support like that.
Renee brings up the real-life relationship of Aleister and Zelina and their new YouTube channel. Zelina is having a great year in her own right, but what has it been like opposing her and her faction? He is obviously very proud. He knows she is capable of that and more. Zelina is an incredibly talented individual, and has only shown a glimpse of her full potential. In the coming months, we are only going to say an expansion on Zelina’s ability, and her stable, as she guides more stars to the spotlight. Situations like what we’re in give special opportunities to people. Some step up, others don’t, but Zelina has not only stepped up, she’s stepped over and taking her base. Zelina is hitting a home run again and again, and Aleister is motivated to match that. Zelina is such an inspiration, and is doing an incredible job. Also his cat is in the background.
Renee says both Aleister and Zelina are taking the ball and running with it. She thanks Aleister for joining them, and wishes him the best of luck on Sunday. Will Aleister make sure five other men fail to reach the top of Titan Towers and take that MITB briefcase for his own?
Backstage shares a tweet from the WWE on Fox account!
“Who are your top 5 WWE superstars of all time. Drop the names below and then tag two friends who should share their top 5!” The NFL’s Robert Griffin III says Shawn Michaels, Goldberg, The Rock, Stone Cold and Rey Mysterio, first to fifth! Dan Soder says Macho Man is first, with Stone Cold, Ric Flair, The Undertaker and The Rock following. Mecole Hardman Jr. has Randy Orton, John Cena, Taker, HBK and Jeff Hardy for his, but what are yours?
It’s the first ever Backstage Story Time!
This is of course in relation to the top 5 tweet. NFL quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders, Derek Carr, went with The Rock, Bret Hart, Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan and Goldberg. But it seems he snubbed a certain someone. Bray Wyatt simply tweeted at Carr with, “Bruh.” Carr defends that he was going to put Husky Harris, but he had stopped watching wrestling by that time. His five were the guys he watched going up, with Sting as his honorable mention. Bray was even more upset! WHO is Husky Harris?! So as payback, Bray Wyatt came up with a top 5 RAIDERS QUARTERBACKS! He had Ken Stabler, Jim Plunkett, Rich Gannon, Marcus Mariota (who only just joined), and Jamarcus Russel. “Doesn’t feel good, does it, Derek?” Broken heart emoji.
Carr says he sees Bray’s point. But Carr will carry on. He apologizes, because he didn’t realize Bray was part of the #RaiderNation. As such, Carr came up with a top five of football fans. Number one is Bray, and then every non-Raider fan is next. YOWIE WOWIE! And now Bray and Carr are pals. The end.
The panel discusses.
Hooray! Turns out you can get along on the internet. But does Booker think Carr should’ve #LetHimIn? Booker doesn’t like happy endings. And Booker isn’t a fan of the Carrs, because David Carr was in Houston and then crapped the bed. OUCH. Well everyone has their football woes. But now, to put our panel on the spot, who are their NUMBER ONE ALL TIME WWE superstars?
Paige goes with Stone Cold, easy! She doesn’t even need to explain it. Bad guy, good guy, it didn’t matter, because Stone Cold was entertaining and thought outside the box. Austin will always be cool! ALWAYS! Booker’s is all the way back in WrestleMania III. Seeing Randy Savage VS Ricky Steamboat was what made Booker want to wrestle. He has to go with the Macho Man, yeah! Savage was a showman, would dive off the top rope ahead of its time, and then have a mat classic!
Christian knows this is subjective, because everyone could say someone different and they wouldn’t be wrong. But saying that, he agrees with Paige that it is Stone Cold. Even before being Stone Cold, Steve Austin could go in the ring. Then becoming Stone Cold helped him take it up a notch and change the industry. He put the WWE on his back and took it to new heights. Hell yeah! But Renee sticks to Canada with Bret Hart. Another great technician and tactician, and a classic. Booker says he and Renee have that connection about technique.
Backstage celebrates Cinco de Mayo and lucha libre legacies.
Rey Mysterio is of course the King of Lucha Libre, and knows better than anyone that lucha is part of the culture. He is so proud to represent that day in and day out. He sits with Renee tonight on his Backstage debut as a bonafide Mexican legend and future WWE Hall of Famer. Mysterio rocks the Julio Cesar Chavez tank top to represent for one of the best boxers ever. Renee asks what it was like for Mysterio to be part of a lucha wave in WCW and America in general. It was incredible. They were branching out with this first opportunity to be seen on a global stage. It gave the WWE the incentive to bring in Latin wrestlers. For awhile, it was just a small subdivision, and there were many names from CMLL.
Who were some of Mysterio’s biggest influences when he got started? His biggest was his uncle, the original Rey Mysterio. Mysterio wanted to always be like him and carry that name. But of course, he grew up watching Hijo del Santo, Dr. Wagner, El Solitario and many more. They were lucha legends, that most unfortunately have passed away. The others are retired, but it was just a beautiful era in the early 80’s. Would Mysterio have ever guessed he’d have this level of success? Never. He didn’t think he’d get this far even in Mexico. Mysterio was told he was too small, too skinny, just not big or wide enough. Mysterio was a kid that had a dream and he’s living it. But even then, he didn’t think his career would reach this level.
Renee turns things to the new generation of Latino superstars, such as Angel Garza, Humberto Carrillo and Andrade Almas. What knowledge is he passing along to them now? The one thing that stands out, the most important thing for the WWE, and he’s told the many lucha libre stars that have come through the WWE, is that you need to be able to speak and dominate the mic in both Spanish and English. There is no doubt that if you only speak Spanish, you won’t succeed. Vince McMahon loves his characters to be able to express themselves and get themselves over, and the only way to do that is if you can speak English. Not just for American fans, but now for international fans who are more likely to know English than Spanish. There’s no way to push it aside. That is a priority now. And Mysterio is always open to give them advice and help. That alone is a big thing. Renee thanks Mysterio for his time and wishes him luck. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Renee Young shares a highlight reel of MITB participant interviews.
Before going to WWE HQ, Baron Corbin, Otis Dozovic and Carmella speak with Renee on their strategies. Corbin being a former Mr. MITB, what new strategy is he going to use in this new type of match? Corbin has never been to Titan Towers before, but he knows there must be a lot of expensive stuff inside. He plans on smashing that stuff over his opponent’s backs. Though, he hopes he won’t have to pay the bill for that. Mella may be a former Ms. MITB, but she has no idea what to expect! She might have some advantage having been to HQ before. Otis isn’t sure of the layout, but his plan is to go from lobby to Mr. McMahon’s office to catering, which will be awesome. Speaking of Mr. McMahon’s office, everyone is curios about the T-Rex skull he has in there. If it has teeth, Corbin wants to use one of the teeth as a weapon! T-Rex tooth to the neck!
Renee brings up the concern of being on the roof of Titan Towers. Otis is stopped in his tracks there. Corbin says it might be windy or rainy. Otis looks concerned. He’ll figure it out. Corbin wants to throw people out windows. Mella wants to hide in a stairwell and sabotage someone going past her. Otis wonders what the ladder’s weight limit will be. Maybe he’ll check some ladders at Home Depot. Corbin wants to have fun, destroy stuff and redeem himself with another round as Mr. MITB. Mella admits to having a fear of heights, so we’ll see how she does on the ladder when it’s on a roof. Otis pumps himself up, he’s not letting fear stop him.
The panel assembles!
And Christian is wearing his Flavor Flav~ over-the-head sunglasses. All the talk of ladder matches got him nostalgic for an earlier time. But let’s talk about the Phenomenal final entry! Styles vows to get the contract and be the most phenomenal Mr. MITB ever. But let’s do some #PayItOff! Who should win this year’s MITB contracts? Booker says the one man who has been champion all over the world, AJ Styles, is winning. Styles came in to the WWE, took the ball, and is still running with it. Styles should be the one to win the contract because he can climb every rung, every step, and use every tool. As for women, the one with most momentum is Shayna Baszler. Booker admits to being a critic of Shayna, but she has shown him she is willing to do whatever it takes to be the best.
Renee still cracks up looking at Christian, but he says that this isn’t a traditional MITB, so that should change up how you predict it. Of the top of his head, he thinks Baron Corbin would win the traditional match. Talk about nuclear heat if Corbin won again as King Corbin! But this match is a fight, and that means Aleister Black wins. Then for the women, the odds on favorites are Nia Jax and Shayna, yet neither of them really needs the contract. Asuka should win, if solely for entertainment of her dancing with the briefcase. Plus, she can still go in the ring, and needs another chance to step up as a champion. Renee quickly asks who is the better dancer: Asuka or Brock and his boombox? The Brock Party is good stuff.
Paige says the winner should be the one who lights up the screen: Otis! He got the girl, he won at Mania, now he wins the briefcase! Like a Disney movie or something. And then for the women, purely for shock factor, Dana Brooke! She’s a workhorse who has been grinding and elevated herself. It’d be a great surprise. Go get it, sister! Renee agrees, Dana needs some love. And it’d really makes things interesting for SmackDown.
But speaking of, Bayley is the longest reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion at 205 days and counting. But Tamina is coming, and that scares Bayley and Banks. They tried to take her out but Lacey Evans had Tamina’s back. Who should win the title on Sunday? Paige immediately answers, “Tamina!” Tamina has been here so long, and she’s never been given a chance like this. She has yet to be champion anywhere, but she’s back and better than ever. Tamina is entertaining, especially on social media. Renee is excited for all of that, but there’s also the mysterious “Messenger” and the warnings being given. The SmackDown hacker claims someone is keeping their friends close, but their enemies closer, and hinted that it is within the tag team division. What does everyone think about The Messenger?
Christian likes it a lot. Thinking back to even before seeing the hacker in the hoodie, there were all these signs, such as a “hacker” of the WWE Twitter. That got some buzz, and now it reaching this point is great because it is different. Hopefully it is someone fresh and new that can use this as a vehicle to something big. Paige is excited, too. We don’t have a crowd, but the WWE keeps stepping up with new things. She wants to know who it is because it could even be someone on Backstage. Renee says CM Punk could be the hacker! Booker says they’re all missing the keywords. “Telling the truth,” that clearly means…
OMG THE HACKER IS TAKING OVER BACKSTAGE! They know your passwords! They know where you are! “Let the games begin.” Booker says this is REAL now! When a person knows everything about you, you gotta think about someone on that level. Well, we’ll see where it goes from here. After all that, Christian guesses it’s Derek Carr.
Speaking of CM Punk, he’ll be back next week!
The Voice of the Voiceless will return with next week’s episode, the Backstage after MITB! What will he have to say about the most unique MITB match in history and all its fallout?
Carmella is the FABULOUS Master of Imitation!
From The Man to The Queen to The Role Model to The Boss, the Princess of Staten Island crushes her impersonations of fellow WWE superstars. Who on Backstage is the best at copying others? Booker thinks Christian’s pretty good. No, he did his part with the Flavor Flav. Paige isn’t going to embarrass herself. Booker T said Randy Savage was the best, so he’s going to do his best to be the Macho Man. Oooh yeah~, DIG IT! Christian says that was pretty bad, but at least Booker tried. With that, Backstage is a wrap!
Another really good, really fun episode for Backstage. I liked having Aleister and Mysterio join the show for their segments. Aleister was partially in character, but I appreciated that he pulled back the curtain to talk him and Zelina and give his wife the praise she deserves. I haven’t watched all their videos on their YouTube channel, but you can tell from even just one that they’re a fun couple and are having fun working together these last couple of weeks. The only thing I don’t agree with Mysterio on is the part about Vince wanting superstars to get themselves over. Vince wants the people he wants to get over, but when fans get behind something else, it annoys him. (Rusev Day, anyone?) But yes, the point about English rings true. As great as it is to hear a superstar speak a language they know (Spanish in the case of a Latino superstar, but Japanese in the case of a Japanese star like Asuka), English is obviously what I’m typing so English is what I know, and it’s good to know what is being at least half the time.
While they went over the issues of Bray VS Braun again this week, I like that there was some real disagreement and debate here. I’m still torn that while we didn’t need this so soon, they’re hitting it out of the park. All the points Bray and Braun are hitting are the right ones, and even if Bray loses as Firefly Fun House Bray, that’s fine. The Fiend will be the real test of this story. I liked the little interview highlights, and I loved that “The Messenger” “hacked” Backstage. I expected more of a reaction, though. They should’ve started freaking out when Renee’s feed changed, but maybe they “weren’t aware” of it. My personal feelings is that it should be Mustafa Ali taking a new approach to his vigilante persona, but maybe Christian has it right in being someone completely new to SmackDown. Though I do wonder where Booker was going with pointing out the keywords. Maybe that hacking was so he wouldn’t spill the beans.