WWE week in review – May 25 2018

Friday = WWE have announced the final 8 competitors ahead of the second edition of the United Kingdom tournament; Travis Banks, Flash Morgan Webster, Jordan Devlin, Tucker, Drew Gulak, Ashton Smith, James Drake, and Tyson T-Bone. Travis Banks a particular highlight here for me, the current champion of Progress (an independent wrestling company whom the WWE have a working relationship with and they use as almost a feeding ground, having taken on a number of ex Progress competitors in the past such as Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and the cka Aleister Black).
At an NXT Live event in Oklahoma City, THE REVIVAL made a shock appearance to make a challenge to the Undisputed Era for the NXT Tag Team titles. The Revival, as the only ever 2 time NXT tag team champions themselves, answered a challenge from Strong and O’Reilly after they claimed to be the ‘top guys’. Undisputed Era retained. This is cool, I really like this. I’ve long been in favour of the idea that former NXT talent that is being underutilized on main roster should come back to NXT, even if it is just for a storyline. Crowd would love it, as they did here, and it would rejuvenate the characters involved… imo…

Randy Orton apparently has had some surgery done in his time away recently. Orton was not on the recent tour of Europe, and hasn’t been seen on WWE TV since Backlash. It has now emerged that he underwent knee surgery to fix a medial meniscus tear in his left knee, which has been troubling him for a few months. WWE.com quoted Orton as saying “I’ve known I needed the surgery since late last year, but I’ve been waiting for the right time to get my knee cleaned out… Right now was the right time.” This is a shame obviously, but given Orton isn’t exactly full time these days his absence wont dramatically kill his character. He didn’t really have any form of story going for him, and as always with Randy Orton whenever he comes back it’ll be a big deal.

Saturday= After The Revival made a shock return at an NXT live show (and they also made an appearance again at a live NXT show in Dallas in which they made the save for the Street Profits after they were attacked by the Undisputed Era); in Jacksonville at another NXT live show TYLER BREEZE (a former NXT main event level talent, no really in NXT he WAS a main eventer) answered an open challenge by NXT live show talent Marcel Barthel. He got a big pop. I’m TELLING YOU NXT fans will always cheer main roster NXT alumni, I hope they keep this up it’d be great.

Sunday= when there isn’t a ppv does anything ever happen in WWE land on Sundays???? Doesn’t seem so………….

Monday= Smackdown Live (from September 2019) will apparently now be aired on Fox TV in the US. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that WWE’s deal with Fox is a five-year agreement that is worth $205 million per year. This comes as the USA Network have chosen to keep the rights for Raw at a much higher cost than previous, and so have instead chosen to let Smackdown go. Maybe this will mean Smackdown becomes a much different show to Raw and the brand split is really in full force shown… we shall see… given that both shows are due to be THREE TIMES as valuable under the new deals it remains to be seen the effects this will have.

Smackdown Live GM Paige has announced via twitter that Big Cass has been removed from his upcoming MITB due to an injury (it appears to me to be a storyline injury), coming after the attack from Daniel Bryan last week. In his place Paige has also said that Daniel Bryan will now face Jeff Hardy on this week’s Smackdown with the winner of that 2nd chance match facing Samoa Joe next week in a final MITB qualifier. GREAT!!!

RAW:

  • Stephanie big times Kurt in opening segment, Roman out and him and Steph have a back and forth promo (for the 10000000th time…. zzzzz), Owens comes out, Steph makes Owens v Reigns.
  • Roman vs Owens ends in DQ when Mahal attacks Reigns, Rollins out for the save, Seth and Roman vs Jinder and Owens made.
  • Seth and Roman vs Owens and Jinder was great. Finish comes when Owens can’t hit pop-up powerbomb and Rollins escapes and after missing the stomp 1st time, he hits hit 2nd time for the win (Rollins once again in a match was tremendous throughout). After as Seth and Roman are on the rampway Jinder comes back out and attacks both with a steel chair.
  • Sami Zayn AWFUL segment with Bobby Lashley’s ‘sisters’ (3 men in drag). Lashley eventually out to beat them all up. Terrible segment.
  • After being interviewed by Renee, Alexa Bliss faced Ember Moon. Moon won (very strongly booked since NXT call up).
  • Stephanie takes over Kurt Angle’s office. Finn and Braun enter, they want a rematch against Dolph and Drew, instead Steph makes Finn VS Braun for tonight.
  • Baron Corbin beat No Way Jose in pretty much a squash (less than 5 minutes).
  • Kurt Angle backstage segment with Chad Gable, then Dolph and Drew. Gable vs Ziggler made for tonight.
  • The B Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) beat Breezango again.
  • Nia Jax versus Ronda Rousey contract signing, overseen by Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie went on to bury them both, this did not work AT ALL for what it was meant to do (hype up Rousey vs Jax), it was just another Stephanie ego-boost segment, crap.
  • Dolph Ziggler beat Chad Gable. Fine match, shame it was only 5 minutes or so. After the match Drew McIntyre hit the Claymore on Gable.
  • Natalya won a fatal 4 way MITB qualifying match against Sarah Logan (who she made tap to the Sharpshooter), Liv Morgan and Dana Brooke.
  • Elias in-ring song segment. He then faced Bobby Roode (again) but this time got the win. Afterwards for some unknown reason Braun flattened Elias after it was done. No idea why either.
  • Braun then had his match in the main event against Finn Balor. Extraordinary size difference but a fine match nonetheless. Unsurprisingly though Braun won, but at least it took 2 running powerslams before he went for the pin.

Monday Evening: Following Raw 2 matches were made for next week’s show; Seth Rollins defending the IC Title against Jiinder Mahal, and Sasha Banks v Sarah Logan v Ruby Riott v Liv Morgan v Mickie James v Bayley v Dana Brooke in a final chance to qualify for the Women’s MITB match. I’m sure Seth can drag Jinder to a fine match, as for the women that’s a fine match with me. Interested to see who goes over… my prediction? Maybe Sasha? You can’t have this type of match an not have her in surely???

WWE is now moving towards making their non-big 4 ppvs FOUR HOURS LONG!!! Which is the last thing anyone wants, these shows as was the case with Backlash are too long as it is! BUT for us in the UK this maybe a blessing as it appears the shows will start 1 hour earlier and not go an hour later instead, MITB for example is now scheduled to start the main show at 11pm GMT.

Tuesday:

SMACKDOWN=

  • Miz TV with The New Day. Miz tried to create problems between the 3 teammates, New Day attacked Miz with Pancakes, Paige comes out and makes Miz vs Big E.
  • Miz Beats Big E. Sheamus and Cesaro come out and attack Kingston and Woods, E chases them off but this allows Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Fun match all round, New Day didn’t at any point though say which one of them would be in the MITB Match.
  • As Big Cass was shown on crutches backstage, Daniel Bryan was interviewed elsewhere as he put over Jeff Hardy but said he would make him tap out tonight.
  • LANA BEAT BILLIE KAY! IN 1 MINUTE NINE SECONDS! Aiden English was by her side and got “LANA DAY” over with the crowd, seems if they were all going to split then Rusev and Lana with English seems to be ON atm… Glad this was all short though, Lana still isn’t good in-ring. English was hilarious before, during this match and after, as he held a big LANA DAY sign up during the beginning stages which Billie and Peyton weren’t happy about. The IICONICS promo before the match was great and I’d love to talk about it more, but Lana just pinned Billie Kay in almost a minute, so I’m a bit in shock. If she wasn’t with English and a part of the Rusev Day act then I’d be furious, but I’m absolutely overjoyed. And Lana was absolutely ecstatic when she won, so I doubt she knew this well in advance, how she’ll perform in a LADDER match I’m less happy about, but she was so happy which made me happy, so this was really heart warming to see. I should also add Lana did 2 moves, a Matchka Kick which was good, then her finisher (if you recall X Pac she does his move) which the timing seemed off. But hey It’s LANA DAY!!! LANA DAY, LANA DAY, LANA DAY!!! (this was all really short which it should be, but it was really entertaining, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLV4gSC5vl4 … I’m just not sure how I feel about Lana in a LADDER MATCH!?!?).
  • Zelina Vega and Andrade Almas pre-recorded promo. Almas beat another jobber shortly after. Good. Almas getting this whilst we wait for his big story to come up. Fine by me. Please keep it up WWE.
  • Carmella (looking about a 25/10) was interviewed backstage, where she mocked Asuka and reminded us all that she has beaten Charlotte Flair twice.
  • AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura segment, hosted by Renee. Styles seemed impatient and demanded Nakamura say what the stipulation for their match at MITB would be. Nakamura played dumb, told AJ to relax and reminded him how he got the chance to name the stipulation. AJ said ‘enjoy it why you can’ but Shinsuke replied “BE QUIET”! Nakamura said he would take the title and ‘dishonor’ AJ, Styles again told him to announce the match stipulation. Nakamura then said it it would be a pillow fight and laughed (as did I, a lot). Styles laughed along & told Nakamura he always knew he was ‘the king of soft style’. Shinsuke came back saying that all he wanted to do was knee-to-face and kept saying that until Styles interrupted him, he said he doesn’t car about the stipulation anymore and that Nakamura can’t beat him when it counts, he went on to say that this ‘wasn’t the Nakamura we all wanted’ (it’s better than the last one imo AJ), and that no stipulation was going to even the playing field and he would see him at Money in the Bank. Shinsuke then tried to blindside the WWE Champion but he saw it coming, they fought to the outside and then over the barricade, AJ cleared the announce table but Nakamura hit him with a chair, AJ fought back and sent Nakamura into the crowd, he then tossed him back over the barricade to ringside where he attempted to dive attack Nakamura but was again hit with a chair, then Shinsuke began to count to 10 but AJ got up, Nakamura was so angered by this he got hit AJ with the Kinshasa, then he did count to 10 before announcing their MITB match would be Last Man Standing, this was AWESOME.
  • Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson beat The Usos to become the new number 1 contenders for the Smackdown Tag Team titles. Fine match but way too short for me too be really in to which was a shame.
  • Naomi beat Sonya Deville to qualify for the Women’s MITB. Charlotte and Becky were shown at different points watching on backstage.
  • Renee interviewed Jeff Hardy who was super excited to face Daniel Bryan and get a second chance to be in the MITB match tonight.
  • Samoa Joe came out for guest commentary on the main event.
  • The New Day vs The Miz, Sheamus & Cesaro was announced for next week.
  • Daniel Bryan v Jeff Hardy. They shook hands to begin the match, pretty even in the early stages, Bryan was more in control after the first ad break, but they then both collided into one another off a crossbody, Samoa Joe then came out with the AMAZING line on commentary saying “I like to study what I hunt”… BRILLIANT STUFF!!! More back and forths, Jeff ducked a kick from Bryan and hit him with a Twist of Fate, then went to the top for the Swanton but Daniel Bryan got his knees up and then kicked Hardy for a nearfall, and then he got Jeff in a Dragon Screw followed by the same Hell Hook submission he used on Big Cass last week, and Jeff tapped out (having sold his knee during the match). It seems either this is his new finisher or/and they just wanted to sell more why Cass was still hurt. Great match by the way, crowd were great throughout. Immediately after he won Joe grabbed a mic and screamed his name, he then got in his face in the ring and said “I fail to see what we’re celebrating out here, because next week you face me”. The 2 then starred down before Joe made his way out the ring as Daniel looked on with a steely look. DANIEL BRYAN VS SAMOA JOE NEXT WEEK; AMAZING! As Bryan celebrated, they cut to Renee interviewing Joe. She asked about his strong words for Bryan, Joe wondered why whenever he tells the truth, it’s considered strong words (fair point), he wasn’t saying anything strong or unusual and that next week he would make Bryan go to sleep. Then we saw Daniel Bryan again who was still celebrating his win and leading the crowd in the Yes chants.

205Live saw: Drew Gulak beat Gran Metalik, TJP talking about how he’s trying to go to SmackDown and move on from 205 Live (BEHAVE YOURSELF) before beating a jobber and Hideo Itami beating former tag partner Akira Tozawa.

Wednesday:

WWE have announced the first round matches for the UK tournament next month (all matches bar Gulak v Gallagher are happening at the download festival on June 8th-10th): Jack Gallagher v Drew Gulak, Ashton Smith v Joseph Conners, Flash Morgan Webster v James Drake, Kenny Williams v Dave Mastiff, El Ligero v Travis Banks, Zack Gibson v Amir Jordan, Tucker v Joe Coffey and Tyson T-Bone v Jordan Devlin.

NXT=

  • My favourite wrestling show began with 2 of my least favourite tag teams (or teams I care least about) as TM61 beat Heavy Machinery. Great… ZZZZzzzzzzz…. The highlight of this match was when Nigel McGuinness on colour-commentary said that Heavy Machinery needed to lose some weight. I’m sorry but I laughed.
  • Apparently there will be a video package series over the next few weeks of NXT entitled ‘Who is Bianca BeLair?’. They’ve done similar things with Roderick Strong in the past so it’s a good sign of a push (which has been obvious for a while) for BeLair. There was then a cool EC3 video package shortly after which was as cool as he is.
  • Lacey Evans BEAT Kairi Sane! Sane came flying off the top rope but was caught by Evans’ finisher called ‘The Woman’s Right’ (a hard forearm). Ok enough match but I’m very shocked at Kairi taking an L. Nonetheless this is a feud that seems to be ongoing so plenty of time for Sane to get her win back.
  • Cathy Kelley was pictured outside of the NXT venue, apparently waiting for the arrival of Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. When they arrive Gargano says he has seen better days but he’s here, and that he and Candice made a decision as a team and that he is going to go into the ring to tell everyone what that is.
  • Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch stated their claims for a tag title shot after their part in the 6 man tag victory last week against the Undisputed Era. Undisputed Era were shown backstage, they mocked Lorcan and Burch as well as Pete Dunne, Roddy Strong stated there wouldn’t be a title match between the two teams, and Kyle O’Reilly blamed Pete Dunne (he pronounced his name ‘peter doone’) for offering hope to ‘a couple of losers’, Strong then stated he wanted to face ‘Daniel Burch’ (which I’m sure will be great).
  • Next we had Velveteen Dream and Ricochet against Lars Sullivan in a handicap match. This was all awesome; the early part of the match continually saw both the rivals not being any form of tag team, failing to tag one another in, but did double team the behemoth Sullivan on a few occasions and at one point got Lars down enough for both men to simultaneously cover him but Sullivan still managed to kick out, THEN Lars Sullivan (at 6ft 3 and over 300 pounds) decided to go full-monster mode… He launched Ricochet, he attempted to destroy the Velveteen Dream’s face as he continually beat on him before hitting hid flying headbutt, only for the pin to be broke up by Ricochet, Dream tagged Ricochet in, Ricochet played a cat-and-mouse like game with Lars as he would pick his moments to get offence in whilst staying out of the monster’s grasp, … and then as the match wore on Dream reminded us all that despite his popularity he is in fact the heel here, and he decided to hit his Rolling Death Valley Driver move on his tag partner for the night Ricochet before retreating, this then allowed Sullivan to hit the Freak Accident on Ricochet for the win. This was exactly what it should have been. Advances Dream and Ricochet’s story, Lars moves on towards NXT Title contention, and despite being pinned Ricochet look cool as always in-ring. Great stuff.
  • Cathy Kelley did an interview with Dakota Kai. If you’ve read my recent NXT reviews you know my thoughts on Dakota Kai’s current character and her being a complete and utter GEEK (her gimmick is she’s shit scared of the champion…)… ANYWAY… Dakota told Kelley she had dreamed of being the NXT Women’s Champion (dream on) and that she can’t believe she’s getting a title shot, but that it was against Shayna Baszler, the biggest bully she had ever met. The Champion Baszler then came into shot with a smirk on her face, she said Kai doesn’t have a chance, BUT THEN… DAKOTA FINALLY FOUND HER VOICE… “WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT” SHE SAID!!!! HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH! DAKOTA KAI HAS FOUND HERSELF, NIKKI CROSS’ PEP TALK LAST WEEK SEEMS TO HAVE WORKED, FINALLY! Let’s hope this continues and we see a new Dakota Kai going forwards, she’s probably losing to Baszler but nonetheless let’s hope Dakota puts up a good showing, my oh my she NEEDS to!
  • The show ended with a segment involving Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae and Tomasso Ciampa. By saying those names I don’t need to tell you how good it was do I? SO… Gargano and Candice made their way out to the ring, Johnny spoke of how Ciampa assaulted him before what was going to be a championship match against Aleister Black, and that every morning when he wakes up and his neck brace reminds him of having his head smashed off an LED board and dropped off the side of a ramp and through a table (must be nice to wake up as Johnny Gargano next to Candice nonetheless), he said that it was time to think about both of their futures but he needs to ask himself if this is worth it?, Fans cheered, With the injuries adding up and the tolls it’s taking on everyone, is it worth it he asked again? and again, the fans roared. He then ripped his neck brace off, before calling Ciampa out. LeRae was begging him not to as Ciampa made his way out, LeRae then went to the back and came back shortly after with some referees to stop any potential confrontation, The refs kept Gargano from Ciampa as Candice repeated her cries for her husband to stop, and just as Gargano agreed to go to the back Tomasso Ciampa goaded him. Gargano then ran back to the ring, but Ciampa knocked him off the apron and Gargano fell right onto Candice! Candice fell down onto the rampway as Gargano looked on horrified. This was fabulously well done. The plot thickens, wonderful stuff from these 3 once again.

Thursday:

The NXT Tag Team Championship match for Takeover: Chicago 2 has indeed been confirmed as The Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly) defending the titles against Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan. Great stuff, this is a dark horse for match of the night, but I imagine given the nature of the rest of the card, this could be the match where the crowd needs to take a breather.

Josh.

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