Evolution 2018: Preview and Predictions

Before I start and you can read the blog I’ve written to preview the Evolution PPV, I couldn’t write about WWE at the moment and not mention Roman Reigns. For some reason I woke up at about 2.30am on Tuesday morning and checked my phone for the time, and I found a good dozen or so notifications telling me things I couldn’t believe I was reading. Seeing it was even more shocking. Roman Reigns announcing to the world that he once again has Leukaemia and is vacating the Universal Championship whilst he battles this form of Cancer for the 2nd time. His speech was an incredibly brave thing to do in front of the world on live TV. And when Dean and Seth came out to join him on the ramp and Rollins was in tears I know it was too much for me that’s for sure. I only cried more as I watched the video of him backstage being greeted by the likes of Triple H, Paul Heyman, Nia Jax and Braun Strowman. But if any of us take anything from this I think we should watch an incredibly brave and strong human being who as he was leaving the arena was still able to make jokes and smile with the cameraman as he was making his way to his rental Car. If that doesn’t show strength in adversity I don’t know what does. This is so far beyond what any of us (me included) may think of him as a performer or a character, I’m sure we can all agree as wrestling fans he has given us all so many memories and moments none of us will ever forget. And I know for one I am already looking forward to seeing him beat Leukaemia and come back and do what he does best. Like he alluded to himself be it boo or cheer EVERYBODY watching WWE reacts to Roman Reigns, he makes us invested in the product more than anyone, I think it’s the least any of us can do is to give him a few extra thoughts and prayers in the times ahead. Us as fans all owe it to him to ensure we are still here as passionate as ever towards the product ready to welcome him back when he is able to return. Thank you for everything you gave for us Roman and I speak for us all when I say I look forward to seeing you back in a WWE ring soon.


Well, it’s finally time! So let’s for the sake of my own sanity forget about that show where none of the women on this card will feature and instead look forward to the first ever all women’s WWE PPV event. When this was first announced I did think it was a bit forced, in the sense it’s doing it for the sake of doing it. But I’m not against it completely, and have long been an advocate and a glass-half-full person when it comes to women’s wrestling. We should all be grateful both women’s wrestling and the WWE female roster is at a place of strength, enough to be able to put this event on. It’s a pretty strong card too as expected with each match featuring some kind of hook; great story, ongoing rivalry and a few huge name stars returning along the way. SO without further or do let’s get right in to it and preview WWE Evolution!!!

Natalya, Bayley & Sasha Banks V ‘The Riott Squad’ (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan)

Wow talk about a filler, run-of-the-mill, nothing kind of match. If this exact match was on any random episode of Raw it wouldn’t exactly jump out to me as a big deal. It was probably this match that jumped out to me as showing how little some of the more talented female performers on the roster have to do in terms of stories as of late. Yes the top end and the title feud’s are often done well or at least made to feel like they’re a big deal. But below that? Not too much going on is there really. The Riott Squad for starters other than messing up a few papers and getting sauce on a door backstage haven’t exactly gone close to starting a ‘riot’ any time recently. They just come across as 3 mates together as opposed to a heel female faction and a major threat. Just look how easily Ronda and The Bellas put them in their place. As for the babyfaces it was pretty clear as soon as WWE stopped and started and never pulled the trigger on what seemed like an impending Bayley – Sasha split and feud for about 3 month straight that they had no idea what to do with two of the most popular and talented performers on the entire women’s roster. They haven’t even gone close to teasing a Natalya – Ronda feud as they seemed to be doing when Rousey first cam in, I guess there’s still time but in the meantime Natalya has become another of those women that just… appears on TV every week without much of story for them. Result wise? I can’t even pretend that I think it matters too much, would it surprise anyone if they did the same match on Raw the next night and the other team won? Or maybe… there’s a very slim chance they do a heel turn for someone here. It’d certainly be what i’d do to salvage it for all involved. Riott Squad win (they DEFINITELY need it more) and someone on the losing team turns heel? That’d be nice.

Prediction: The Riott Squad to win

Mae Young Classic 2018 Final: Toni Storm V Io Shirai

This is just going to be a tremendous wrestling match. My only fear is they don’t give it much time, however I have no doubt both of these excellent talents will put on a great show. And it’s only now as we approach the event that I’m so pleased they made the choice to put the MYC2 final on a big PPV as they have done. It will present both Io and Toni to a much wider audience than they may have got previously exposed too. I imagine Io will move on after to make big waves in the NXT women’s division, and Toni has already made appearances on the NXT UK show so I would presume she will be a mainstay of that brand. But I will presume that some, if not most of the audience for the Evolution PPV may not have seen or heard of either woman before. So I will offer a brief explanation; Io Shirai is regarded as the best female wrestler in the world, and would’ve competed in the first Mae Young Classic last year had it not been for an injury issue, and her apparently getting cold feet on the idea of moving to Orlando and the PC etc. But then I also heard how she was a bit upset when she saw Kairi Sane (who she’s actually good friends with if you follow them both on social media so take this with a pinch of salt) presented as WWE’s big female Japanese new signing. I don’t know personally if she’s better than Kairi but it’s very close and I’ve no doubt that is a future NXT Women’s championship match. Toni Storm on the other hand at 23 YEARS OLD is seen as a potentially huge star of women’s wrestling. And trust me she’s one of the top all round workers right now in the women’s division so with even more years behind her she will be an absolute world beater. This is simply 2 really popular babyfaces in probably the biggest match of both their lives, on the biggest stage both have probably ever performed on. So there’s a lot of spotlight, attention and pressure on them. I hope, pray and do actually believe they will do just fine. I would give Shirai the edge as I see them pushing her more on the main NXT and Toni will be on the UK brand, so purely for that fact alone I’ll say we get a Japanese winner of the Mae Young Classic for the 2nd year running.

Prediction: Io Shirai wins the 2018 Mae Young Classic

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler V Kairi Sane (C)

In my personal opinion this match seems a foregone conclusion result-wise, I just don’t see why they would take the title from Shayna and give it to Kairi just to switch it back again. Maybe they could, there is yet to be a 2 time NXT Women’s Champion it should be noted, but I’d see it unlikely. And whilst I have no doubt that it will once again be a great match (their Takeover: Brooklyn 4 match was the WWE women’s match of the year so far to me) I just can’t see Sane losing the title so soon. It’s not completely clear though what is the future for the NXT Women’s Championship in terms of contenders as, especially with the Mae Young Classic bringing in so many new talents, it’s not clear totally who will be next in line for a shot. I’d presume Bianca Belair if Sane was to keep the belt, and unless they want to go with Sane vs Baszler again if they do the switch back maybe they give the MYC winner the next shot? Anyway they’ve done a really good job in making Sane a top babyface and Shayna the top heel in NXT Women’s division as the female roster as a whole has gone from strength to strength and the depth now is absurdly strong. Maybe we get a few call ups on the female side sometime after Evolution to make room, and then we have a whole load of new match ups possible. Overall with everything taken into account I’d say Kairi to retain… and POSSIBLY Baszler finding a new home not long after… MAYBE to link in some way to another Women’s champion whom she has an affinity with… or MAYBE a couple of her friends make an appearance on this show to give her a helping hand… Intriguing indeed…

Prediction: Kairi Sane retains the NXT Women’s Championship

Alexa Bliss (or Alicia Fox) & Mickie James V Trish Stratus & Lita

Well this will be fun. I’d have this to open the show, just for the pop for Trish and Lita. And unless one of the regular roster women is next in line to challenge Ronda (unlikely at the moment) then the two hall of famers kind of have to go over. The reason by the way I have it listed as Alexa OR Alicia Fox is that after she was kept out of action after he rematch with Ronda in which she got an injury, Bliss returned last weekend at a live event… and got injured again. Some reports said it was a concussion and some said it was a broken nose but regardless her status for Evolution is very much up in the air. This was why Alicia Fox was the one who attacked Trish and Lita on Raw with Mickie James and Bliss was nowhere to be seen. As a match I’d presume Trish and Lita (who both certainly look in shape and both performed more than admirably in the Women’s Royal Rumble in January) have been training an awful lot for this match, and whilst Alicia as a worker has been around a while without being really good she is at least passable, James is about as solid an in-ring performer on the women’s roster so no surprise they have put her in this match to make it as good as possible. Given most of the early build was the angle between Alexa Bliss and Trish Stratus it would be a shame if Bliss couldn’t make the match. I guess you could have Bliss as a manager for the heels or even do a run in, but I really don’t see them bringing Trish and Lita in to do the job… unless they want to do the Bliss vs Stratus and/or Lita singles match later down the line, which I would certainly be all for.

Prediction: Trish Stratus and Lita win

Battle Royal for a future Women’s Championship Match: Alicia Fox V Asuka V Billie Kay V Carmella V Dana Brooke V Ember Moon V Lana V Mandy Rose V Naomi V Nia Jax V Peyton Royce V Sonya Deville V Tamina V Torrie Wilson V Michelle McCool V Alundra Blayze V Ivory V Kelly Kelly V Maria Kanellis V Molly Holly V Zelina Vega

Oh boy… firstly where are all the NXT women at? Secondly… this really is just a ‘everyone gets a slice of the pie’ sort of match isn’t it? I don’t know how they’ll go with it, I’d hope it’s taken semi-serious and we have one of the bigger names in the match win it; Asuka immediately jumps out to me as a choice. But this match just comes across to me as the Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal Mark 2, and that did next to nothing for Naomi’s career other than the moment itself. I think the shorter this is the better it’ll be for us all, at least I’d hope they get it down to the contenders to win the whole thing fairly soon in. But yes it is what it is, I imagine it’ll come just after one of the big matches on the show and the crowd will have little or no investment in it (aside from the nostalgia of seeing some of the returnees). I don’t know if you can tell but I don’t harbor much expectations for this match.

Prediction: Asuka wins the Battle Royal for a future Women’s Championship Match

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair V Becky Lynch (C) – Last Women’s Standing Match

I stand corrected. As a story they’ve really done well with this. But it’s blatantly obvious that this feud has done as much good for Becky Lynch as it has done BAD for Charlotte Flair. Becky has shone so brightly during this feud, I think we’ve move past the stage where we can moan about her being a face or a heel. I think they saw the error of their ways when they removed the stuff where she slagged off the fans from the YouTube clip of her very first promo after the initial turn. This Stone Cole-like no F’s given, just go around and kick ass character that she has become, referring to her struggles and journey to get where she is, it really doesn’t take much for them now to turn her back face when they need or want to. It does feel even before this feud began that the crowd had started to change from Team Flair to Team Lynch. I know me for example as a huge Charlotte fan was amongst a group of people watching Summerslam, we all wanted Becky to win. But she didn’t, and as is normal for wrestling fans when they don’t get what they want, they can often take it out on the person’s whose fault it absolutely is not. And that person is the talent in the spot that the ‘favorite’ of the people is. In this situation it’s clear that the company before wanted Charlotte as top female to counteract a certain Rowdy one. The people slowly started to want Becky instead, reality is people will take this out on Charlotte. Charlotte Flair whom has long been rumoured to be one half of a possible Wrestlemania main event… and she’s been the absolute second fiddle. You shouldn’t have anyone who you want to main event Wrestlemania playing second fiddle to anyone. So you either change your main event, or you change your booking. The volume of the voice of the people and the support of Lynch has already meant Charlotte by being booked against Becky is indirectly losing potential supporters. So my question is this, at this stage now how on earth could you still get to Charlotte vs Ronda whilst Becky (the most popular woman on the roster with Rousey) is in another match? You can’t surely? People would reject it. And nobody wants the big Ronda Wrestlemania match being filled with boos. They’ve booked themselves long term into a corner. And as has been the case for me in this whole story and long term now, Charlotte Flair loses, Becky Lynch wins.

Prediction: Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Raw Women’s Championship: Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) V Ronda Rousey (C)

You know what? They’ve actually done a really good job of building this match up and making it feel like it is worthy of main eventing this historic event. They’ve got very personal in the build up and it has really shone as spotlight on the two very contrasting sides in this tale. On one hand you have the fiery yet fierce babyface champion of the people Ronda Rousey who stands for woman empowerment and is presented as a champion for the ‘new’ generation of female athletes. On the other we have the pioneer of the previous incarnation of women in WWE, the ultra ‘diva’ mainstream-crossover star Nikki Bella. The ‘cool’ kids will be on Ronda’s side and the villainous, mean-girls side of the support will be with the Bellas. A classic tale really. The promo work from both sides has been surprisingly excellent, rumours abound that Paul Heyman no less has been working with Rousey to come up with lines that sound very real coming form the former UFC champion and all time great mixed martial arts athlete that she is. Ronda has also taken shots at the Bellas essentially living off their men to get to the top in WWE, I particularly rated her line regarding the John Cena – Nikki Bella split (No I’m absolutely not over it, love isn’t real). Nikki has definitely shown in recent weeks she is the more accomplished an perhaps confident one of the two twins in-ring, and is undoubtedly the bigger star of the two. But it remains to be seen if the chemistry between Rousey and Nikki Bella that has been evident in their verbal wars will crossover to in between the ropes. I think it will, I don’t know if it’ll be a classic but it’ll be fine I’ve no doubt. Given Rousey is the biggest star in the company and Nikki Bella is the one the company want to be their big ‘homegrown’ cross-over female star it’s hardly a surprise this match up was rumoured a long time back, lets just hope it ends up being as good as WWE seem to ant us all to think it will be. Oh and for the record Ronda will retain, I say that with around a 98% certainty.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the Raw Women’s Championship

All I feel going into this show is that it has kind of been forgotten and hidden behind Super Show Down, Hell In A Cell, Crown Jewel and the weekly shows in terms of a build up. Neither Raw or Smackdown this week (the go home shows, although Raw could probably be excused this week for obvious reasons) closed with an angle to go into Evolution. But the card whilst some matches are a bit… erm… shoved together… there is a great deal of good wrestlers on this card. Every match features one or more very good to excellent in ring-workers so as long as each match ois given enough time then it SHOULD be a fine show. And my oh my I do hope it is good, if this show sucks (it wont) then it would really set the women’s division back a bit after all they’ve done. Be prepared for plenty of patting on the back as per WWE with these sort of events but besides that be as equally prepared for a great show of women’s wrestling.

Josh.

NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 Review

This is my first review blog written live during the show, so bare with me and forgive any gaps. I think it’s more interesting to read my thoughts as they were watching the event as it unfolded than when I’m reflecting on it the next day for example. So here’s what happened @ NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4.

NXT Tag Team Championship: ‘Undisputed Era’ (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (C) v ‘Moustache Mountain’ (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)

Crowd shockingly seems great tonight to begin the show…

Big reaction for Era. Ok ish reaction for Bate and Seven.

This is really fun to watch and the rasslin is really good. Simple as that.

Strong and O’Reilly executing some brutal looking submissions at various points. Bate and Seven with amazing strength. Seems like these 2 tag teams could have a good match against one another with their eyes closed.

Strong kicks out of Bate’s finisher which was the end of a fabulous sequence on both Undisputed Era members from him.

Kyle gets a heel hook on Bate with Seven looking on for the tag, …

Seven goes to throw towel in (a throwback to when Bate threw in the towel to save Trent Seven in the last match between these two teams) but throws it in crowd. Bate pushes towards Seven and gets the tag, Seven strikes Kyle HARD, now Kyle kicks out of Seven’s finisher!

MM double team finisher but KOR kicks out. THIS IS SICK AF!

Bate taken out by a Roderick Strong knee, ERA finisher on Seven. Era retain.

That

Was

AWESOME

**** 1/2

WAR RAIDERS ATTACK ERA!!! And fucking Destroy them!!!

Gargano shown backstage in locker room and the crowd cheer.

Velveteen Dream v EC3

Crowd cheers as both are shown to advertise the match. A good sign for their level of interest and liveliness during a match I feel will need their help to be great, and I mean that in a good way.

Dream comes out up through the stage and wearing a quite… colourful outfit. A big pop too. He’s the best.

DREAM HAS THE WORDS “CALL ME UP VINCE” ON HIS BACK OF HIS TIGHTS. I’D LIKE TO DECLARE HE MAY WELL BE IN MY END OF YEAR TOP 10 OFF THE BACK OF THAT ALONE!

EC3 is also very popular.

I so hope this is good…

EC3 is beating Dream up in the early stages. I’ve told Stefan I’m having a vodka if I give this ****, which I deem a success for this match.

EC3 dances ala dream whilst stood over him which was funny.

Dream does a twisting ddt on the rampway. Dream playing to the crowd…

Dream getting back into it now… EC3 powers out of Dream’s move but he gets it back on and gets a 2 count with a neckbreaker.

Dream just threw water at EC3… no really…

EC3 with a sit out powerbomb for a 2 count. Shock as EC3 shows he is strong.

Crowd seem more behind Dream tbf. Superplex by EC3 and gets a 2 count from it.

Super kick then a rolling DVD by Dream. 2 count again.

Ec3 pulls Dream BY HIS EAR to the apron, Dream hits a perfect rolling DVD on the apron and follows up with his Rainmaker elbow to EC3 on the apron. 123 Dream wins. This match was fine.

Im having a vodka anyway haha.

*** 3/4

MATT RIDDLE IS IN THE CROWD!!!! HAPPY HAPPY DAYS! This energetic and charismatic former UFC fighter was one of the most popular acts on the independent wrestling scene, and rumours had been everywhere that he’d been coming to NXT. He is awesome (and another I’ve seen in the flesh wrestle live in the past).

Ciampa shown backstage staring at his belt.

Adam Cole and Ricochet both with good crowd responses when shown on screen.

NXT North American Championship: Ricochet v Adam Cole (C)

In one of the least surprising things to happen so far; Ricochet gets a reaction worthy of and comes out looking like a megastar. Ricochet’s gear is a beautiful white design.

Adam Cole is popular. Another shock. The “Bay Bay” from the crowd was very loud. Shock.

It already seems like these 2 could have a great match one on one in their sleep.

Adam Cole ruthless in his offense so far. Ricochet showing off his athleticism as usual whilst Cole maintains his advantage.

Ricochet with a series of high front dropkicks sending Cole to the outside before an ott jump onto Cole on the outside whilst landing on his feet (I kid you not that’s what he did).

A springboard European uppercut from Ricochet gets a 2 count.

Fyi Ricochet is jokingly athletic. Mauro just called Ricochet “a cheat code” . He’s not wrong.

Ricochet handspring into an Adam Cole backbreaker gets a 2 count. That looked real smooth.

Ricochet moonsaults off the rope and Cole superkicks him MID FLIP!!!! Then follows up with a firemans carry kneebreaker but only gets a 2. That was SICK and crowd loved it. Apparently Cole did the same spot or similar to Will Ospreay in their PWG match.

After a few moves more each the crowd have woken up from their nap.

Ricochet is scrambling to the top rope as opposed to covering him but Cole rolls out the way.

Ricochet does a leaping hurricanrana… and then the 630 splash… 123… RICOCHET IS THE NEW NXT NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION!

Awesome laser light effect on him stood on the ramp with his newly won belt.

**** 3/4

Mark Henry and Kevin Owens in the crowd at ringside.

NXT Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane v Shayna Baszler (C)

Apologies in advance for lack of notes on this match. I’m suddenly really nervous and really really really want Kairi to win…

OH

MY

GOD

KAIRI SANE IS THE NEEEEEWWWWW NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPION!!!!!!

In short that was one of the best women’s matches I’ve ever seen. Certainly the best I’ve seen since Asuka v Charlotte at Wrestlemania.

**** 1/2

NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano v Tommaso Ciampa (C) – Last Man Standing Match

Gargano comes out with gear featuring an “angrier” version of his ‘Gargano face’. He looks FOCUSED.

The boos for Ciampa are absolutely thunderous. This really does have a BIG FIGHT FEEL!!!

Gargano jumps Ciampa before the bell and we are off and they are GOING FOR IT immediately!!! Gargano on physical offence from the get go, until Ciampa pushes Gargano into ringsteps.

Gargano exposes a large part of the concrete floor, Ciampa gorges at the eyes of Gargano, Gargano dives onto Ciampa off the apron before sending him into the broadcast area as the ref begins a 10 count.

Gargano is on the announce table with Ciampa but Ciampa reverses it and instead launches himself and Gargano through the spanish announce table next to it. Gargano is down only for 6. We’re about only 5 minutes in!

Ciampa grabs a chair and brings it into the ring, he boots Gargano in the face after he tried for the chair. He later delivers two brutal looking running kness to Gargano slumped in the corner. He presses a chair against him but Johhny is able to throw the chair into Ciampa’s knee brace before going on the assault with the chair.

Ciampa choke hold on Gargano gets a 6 count. Before Ciampa puts the sleeper hold on AGAIN! … crowd try to urge Gargano to escape… GARGANO managed to get Ciampa above him to break the hold and long dart him into a chair previously wedged into the corner. He barely staggers to his feet at 6.

Gargano gets TWO tables from under the ring!!!! A madness INCOMING… commentary really selling how Gargano is not the same man he once was and is a lot darker than before. Gargano tries to launch Ciampa through both but eventually Ciampa wrestles into 3 German suplexes back in the ring.

Huge knee with his brace on from Ciampa before he goes on the attack with the steel chair. Ciampa hits his former finisher ‘Project Ciampa’ THREE TIMES! Ciampa sets the chair and sits on it waiting… but Gargano gets to his feet at NINE and hits a massive superkick to Ciampa.

They exchange strikes… really REALLY hard strikes, … both men get up at ONE and exchange more strikes… this is a great match… a lot more plain wrestling in this than their 2 previous Takeover main events.

Gargano misses a dive and lands HARD on the floor, before Ciampa hits his finisher on Gargano onto the steel steps!!! Johhny up at 9 after commentary super sold that could be the finish.

Ciampa is cutting the ring apron to expose the wood (he beat Gargano last time with a ddt onto the exposed ring floor btw), in between ramming Gargano’s head into the steps again, … suddenly Gargano sprays Ciampa with a fire extinguisher!!!!

Gargano hits Ciampa with a crutch multiple times (another feature into this match from previous spots in this feud).

GARGANO DDT’S CIAMPA ONTO THE EXPOSED RING CANVAS!!!! Crowd: “you deserve it” … Ciampa up at 9! Tope suicida immediately from Gargano. And then ANOTHER! This match is a MADNESS!!!

Gargano accidentally superkicked a timekeeper, then Ciampa grabs literally EVERYTHING at ringside and covers Gargano in a pile of EVERYTHING!!!!! THIS COULD BE IT… CIAMPA IN DISBELIEF AS GARGANO GETS UP!

Ciampa gets handcuffs for Gargano (another spot from this feud) … eventually though after a back and forth Gargano waves goodbye and superkicks Ciampa and sends him falling through the stacked 2 tables below him… Ciampa is up at 9.

Ciampa gets up using the crutch for leverage. Very clever.

Gargano now pounds away then launches Ciampa into the stage (just how Ciampa ended DIY). Gargano escape is locked in, Ciampa taps. Gargano handcuffs Ciampa to the stage, then rams his head repeatedly into the stage and then superkicks him.

Ciampa says he’s sorry but Gargano tells him it’s too late… and kicks him some more… Gargano is hesitating but takes his knee brace down and hits him but takes himself out and over some boxes and crashing into some cases due to the momentum of his run. After hurting his knee… the draw maybe?!?! NO CIAMPA GETS UP 9.9… CIAMPA WINS!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!

So after all the teasing of Johnny going to the dark side and a potential heel turn to have to overcome Ciampa, in the end it was his own viciousness towards his opponent that cost him victory. What a heartbreaking end to what could well be the final chapter in this historically excellent rivalry.

Crowd seem stunned.

*****

They’re selling that Gargano has seriously hurt his knee, possibly dislocating it. As Gargano is tended to as Ciampa walks away slowly with his title.

Gargano is being caried away by officials with Ciampa still stood on the rampway looking on.

Ciampa strolls BACK out… and holds up his title, with an injured Gargano not too far away to close the show.

This was a very good show. But one that leaves us with lots and lots and LOTS of questions.

Josh.

NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4: Preview & Predictions

This is going to be one of the shows of the year, and maybe one of the best WWE shows of all time. Watch it. It’ll be good. and It’s my birthday. Here’s the matches, here’s what I think will happen, and here’s who I think will win. Enjoy! (Apologies for the lack of an intro…. BUT IT’S MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!)!!!!!!

NXT Tag Team Championship: ‘Moustache Mountain’ (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) v ‘Undisputed Era’ (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (C)

To give you all the info you need to know about this match I will say this; If you are aware of who Dave Meltzer is then know that in all the years he has been observing pro wrestling and rating matches with his famous star-ratings then you should also know he has awarded ***** to ONE regular WWE weekly-programming match (non-ppv or Takeover/network special) ever… and it was the 2nd match between these 2 teams. And now this is the 3rd in the series. As for the first match, it took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and to the shock of everyone Moustache Mountain won the titles to one of the loudest crowd reactions in recent memory, one at least on par with anything Stone Cold got in the Attitude Era. They would lose the titles back in their 5 star classic on NXT TV not long after but this here is 2 guys in Tyler Bate and Trent Seven who I saw less than 2 years ago at an independent wrestling show in a sports hall in Nottingham, and WHILST THE SHOW WAS STILL GOING ON they were back at the merch stands trying to flog some stuff. Both of them deserve all the success on the stage they are getting right now, and in this instance the ying is just as impressive and deserving as the yang. Kyle O’Reilly may be one of the most genius all-rounders in professional wrestling. Just watch him, and the things he does that may go unnoticed to some he does so incredibly well (be it a look, a minor action, the way he sells etc.). His partner Roderick Strong may be one of the best in-ring workers in the entire WWE, not to mention his simply sublime transition from hard working babyface to the ultra-cocky heel he played in Ring Of Honor for some of his time their. He fits in with the rest of the Undisputed Era like a glove, and maybe he wouldn’t have been in this role had Bobby Fish not been injured but nonetheless it has allowed Strong a greater spotlight to be able to do exhibit his array of skills, and in full flow he is something else. In short this match will be fantastic, if you just want really good professional wrestling then THIS is the match for you. There is some tough competition but if any match on this show or throughout the entirety of Summerslam reaches the high level of in-ring work in this match I’ll be surprised.

Prediction: Undisputed Era retains

Velveteen Dream v EC3

In the next 2-4 years both of these guys could well be main-eventing Raws and Smackdowns regularly. In 10 years time if he continues at his current rate Velveteen Dream will be the face of WWE. But right now where are we at with these 2? Well EC3 is still I’m sure enjoying not being in Impact wrestling as much as he IS being a part of WWE once again. He’s over, he’s fine in the ring, he’s good on the mic. The level of stardom he reaches all depends on how much of a push he is presented with. You could have him against one of the top guys; AJ, Rollins, Nakamura NOW and he’d do fine I think. Velveteen Dream? Well, he is something else. Just looking at the Dream tells you he is a star, and will only shine brighter with experience. As we speak he in my opinion is at 8-9/10 levels in all areas; look, character, mic work. His in-ring work whilst prone to the odd mistake here and there is only getting better. He’s one of, as are people way more experienced and have been on the main roster even for some time, many that if you put them in a match with a great in-ring worker he will be more than able to play his part. He’s got epics with both Aleister Black and Ricochet in his book already and was a key part of the incredible ladder match at Takeover in New Orleans. He is a star right now, and in the years to come EVERYONE will SAY HIS NAME!

Prediction: Velveteen Dream

NXT North American Championship: Ricochet v Adam Cole (C)

This gonna be GOOOOOOOOODDDDDDD!!! Adam Cole is my favourite Male Superstar in the company, and in the opening 6 months of the year I had him as my superstar of 2018 so far. As for Ricochet, watch him wrestle, then get back to me. I don’t have an awful lot to say on this one aside from it’ll be an amazing match, between 2 of my favourite guys in the company, and the story for whoever leaves Brooklyn with the North American title is one of stardom. For the loser? Stardom. Expect to see either one or both of these 2 men main event a Takeover in a big singles match within the next 12 months. At Takeover Brooklyn last year Adam Cole made his WWE debut by attacking the then NXT Champion, a year later I predict him to have another memorable night; a **** 1/2 match and a win… just…

Prediction: Adam Cole retains

NXT Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane v Shayna Baszler (C)

Given the amount of time that has been given on NXT television to the entirety of the female roster since Ember Moon dropped the championship to Baszler and headed for pastures of a red variety, it is interesting to note that it was Kairi Sane that was chosen as the sacrificial lamb here to the current champion. A point has been made to promote Dakota Kai, Nikki Cross, Bianca Belair, Lacey Evans, Candice LeRae all as credible and potential challengers, yet NXT have made in my opinion the wisest choice in picking the winner of the inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament last year for the showcase women’s match of this incredible Takeover line up. It was of course Shayna Baszler that Kairi beat in the final of that tournament, and in return it was Sane that The Queen of Spades attacked upon her debut arrival in NXT. There is plenty of story between these two, and given the time they have spent on opposing sides since they both came to WWE I am more than confident that they will produce a tremendous match. One that given the recent announcement of the Evolution PPV will show the best wrestling that the women’s division in WWE has to offer. With that in mind perhaps I should also point out that Shayna Baszler was the only female to rank in my top 10 WWE superstars of the year so far blog in June, and I believe Kairi Sane to be above Asuka, Charlotte Flair and all else in the female WWE roster in terms of her in-ring ability. So this should be a great match, one where the result seems obvious to me but I don’t expect that to take-away from the quality of the match. Expect plenty of nearfalls for Shayna, a comeback from The Pirate Princess before Baszler locks in her submission and the valiant challenger is unable to withstand anymore.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler retains

NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano v Tomasso Ciampa (C) in a Last Man Standing Match

Well… this changed from what I originally had written up for this match!!! So up until the 8th August, 10 days before showtime, this was due to be a triple threat match involving former NXT Champion Aleister Black. But after suffering a legit injury during a live event Black was written out of the match via a kayfabe attack in a parking lot to explain as to why he would be unable to compete. In it’s place though were are GIFTED the match we should’ve got at Takeover: Chicago 2 earlier this year. Yes indeed Gargano v Ciampa 2 in NXT was going to be a Last Man Standing match but was changed to a street fight so as not to clash with the Last Man Standing Match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura that would be happening 24 hours later. So as sad as the loss of the brilliance of Aleister Black is to the main event of the NXT show of the year, we get what could well be the rubber match between 2 former tag team partners who have gone on to have one of the most personal rivalries we’ve seen for some time. This is going to be an incredible substitute, and after the last 2 chaotic encounters they’ve headlined Takeovers with who knows what on earth they will come up with here. But it remains though that I see this as a potential WWE match of the year. Either of these 2 could well end 2018 as my superstar of the year, and a large part of that will be down to who Triple H chooses to leave NXT’s premier event holding their Holy Grail. Where to start with the build to this one? Well on the same night former tag team partners turned bitter rivals Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa had one of the best matches in WWE history, Aleister Black was winning the NXT Championship at Takeover: New Orleans. And after Ciampa avenged his loss to Gargano at Takeover: Chicago he turned his attentions to the gold, and in shocking the NXT universe arguably the best heel in modern times in WWE was once again greeted with a unique reaction and chorus of boos and anger and disbelief when Gargano’s interference inadvertently helped Ciampa win the title. Black would look to seek his own revenge on Gargano, but after their match to decide the rights to face Ciampa turned into chaos a triple threat match for the ages was made. Sadly due to Black’s injury we wont get that match now but the ‘substitute’ isn’t bad right? Who wins? I have to go with my heart, and say that the story will finally go full circle, Aleister Black (as we have seen with Drew McIntyre after his injury at Takeover: War Games last year) will quietly exit NXT before an appearance on Smackdown (ideally) and Gargano will FINALLY get the championship he has been chasing for the whole year so far, and thus have the crowning moment in the best year of NXT so far, on the biggest event of NXT’s calendar. Please Triple H, send us all home happy. Please???

Prediction: Johnny Gargano is the new NXT Champion

Watch this show. It’ll be amazing. Can’t promise a great review as I’ll be writing it live as I’m awfully busy all weekend, but I’ll try and give you all of you that are kind enough to read it a decent idea of what goes down at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4.

Josh.

NXT Takeover Chicago 2: Review

Well… what a shocker… NXT produces another great Takeover show… In other news the Pope is a Catholic and Pizza is great…

This was a fun filled, sub 3 hour show from the best all round brand in wrestling right now. 5 matches which all had a unique story to them, and 5 matches which in their own way delivered what was expected. The crowd all evening at the Allstate Arena in Chicago was on fire and really made a good show that bit better, and unlike what we may see tomorrow night at Money in the Bank they did not tire at any point in the show =, from the opening contest to the gruelling and heartbreaking conclusion to the awe-inspiring main event. SOOOOOOOOO with that said lets get into reviewing Takeover: Chicago 2!!!…

We opened the show with the entrance of the most over stable in WWE for some time, as the NXT Tag Team Champions Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong made their way to the ring alongside their Undisputed Era leader, the NXT North American Champion Adam Cole. These guys are heels by the way, but from the Chicago crowd they got a huge ovation upon their entrance, opposed to their babyface opponents who got a subdued and almost a full heel reaction from the crowd. For a match that there was a chance got could lost amongst the high calibre of the card tonight, the crowd showed from the beginning they were going to give it all their attention, which was only the beginning from them (did I mention enough already that this Chicago crowd were AWESOME…).

NXT Tag Team Champions; Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong with Adam Cole) beat Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch to retain

As expected this was a great, solid wrestling match. Some really creative in-ring stuff from 4 ultra talented ring generals. It was clear from the beginning here that the crowd favoured the heels strongly but that did not phase Lorcan and Burch in their first Takeover match, as was shown when both Burch and Lorcan had their opponents in simultaneous submission holds in the middle of the ring in attempt to claim an unlikely victory, although their opponents would be able to escape their grasps. Another great little moment was when Adam Cole kept his teammates from losing their titles when placing a foot on the ropes to stop the ref counting the 3 after Burch and Lorcan had hit a Doomsday device to O’Reilly, to which as a result he was banished from the ringside area (the crowd did not like this one but, Adam Cole was one of the most over guys on the show and wasn’t even in a match. And that’s not to say the others weren’t over, just that ADAM COLE BAY BAY really, really is). Eventually the champions would hit a cool-looking double team move (I believe it is called the ‘High Low’) to keep their titles in what was a really fun opening bout to kick off the show. The crowd did though pay their respects to the beaten challengers with a standing ovation for both once the victors had made their way to the back, which was awesome to see.

****

Ricochet beat Velveteen Dream

Another shocker on this show, this match was absolutely fabulous. The pre-match video hype package and the entrances both these stars received made it feel like a huge deal, which considering this was the only match on the show with no title or no gimmick stipulation to go with it was some achievement. Dream came to the ring with a HULK HOGAN (remember him???) inspired gear, down to the bandanna and a t shirt with “DREAM STILL OVER” written across it, he also ripped it off ala Hogan and would later do all the Hogan “pump-up” poses, you know the ones… it was crazy to see Hogan be so clearly referenced in WWE TV after all this time, it’s surely when not if Hogan will be welcomed back now surely? Anyway Dream was really over with the crowd as was his high-flying wizard of an opponent. He was sporting a cape with his attire to really get the point across of his superman like abilities in the ring. These 2 even did the spot from the Wrestlemania 18 match between Hogan and The Rock (whom had openly praised Ricochet on twitter recently, so this was incredibly clever) where they would stand nose to nose almost and glance to each side of the crowd as they soaked in the audible anticipation for this epic encounter. Highlights from this one amongst the brilliance on display were Dream early on trying to prove he can outdo Ricochet (good luck with that), a gruelling-looking vertical suplex from the ring to the outside floor that had both on the losing end and Ricochet just making it back in the ring at the count of 9, Dream telling former indie star Ricochet “YOU BELONG IN A BINGO HALL”, Ricochet heading to the top rope, doing Dream’s Death Valley Driver, hip dance and then his signature top rope elbow drop (he hit it better than Dream himself maybe even does). It was funny that the crowd actually booed Ricochet for this. Ricochet went for his 630 splash finisher but Dream got out the way, Ricochet later went for a shooting star press but Dream put his knees up, Dream then went for a coast-to-coast elbow drop as Ricochet was in the opposite corner of the ring, and credit to him he got maybe 80% of the way there but missed in what was an awesome spot. With Velveteen Dream down Ricochet would finally hitting his signature insane top rope finisher for the win. Ricochet is great, the Velveteen Dream likewise, this match delivered. Great. One thing I felt immediately afterwards was as good as this was, I wanted to see them do it again and again. But what the immediate future holds for both is unclear, it’ll be big though whatever it is.

****1/2

NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler beat Nikki Cross to retain

Cross as the challenger got a big reaction from the crowd on her entrance and was over throughout, Shayna got the heel reaction to match. Cross dominated the early going with the idea being she’s absolutely crazy and unfazed by the tough champion, Shayna would get the win by locking in her submission, and AS I CORRECTLY PREDICTED (see my preview and predictions blog) Cross would not tap out to break the hold, but instead the ref would stop the match deeming Nikki had passed out. Cross was seen openly laughing and smiling during and after the finish to continue her psychotic, Mankind-like gimmick of almost liking receiving pain as much as she dishes it out. Fine match for what and where on the card it was, right result and finish. Yeah… this was perfectly fine.

***1/2

We then saw shots of EC3 and former indie wrestling star KEITH LEE who was reported to have signed with WWE recently. Crowd loved this, and I’ve no doubt the NXT fans will love him once he makes his mark on the brand. Exciting times!

NXT Champion Aleister Black beat Lars Sullivan to retain

Again for what this was it did exactly what it needed to be and do. I do feel for the champion who having won the title in the semi-main of the previous Takeover once again had to play second fiddle to the story of the main event (we will get on to that later don’t you worry). Black came out to a huge pop in what promised to be a pretty hard-hitting affair. Match begun at a frantic pace, with Lars repeatedly catching and putting a hold to any offence Black attempted. He then caught the champion off a moonsault and sent him crashing into the barricade, Lars made his way to the top for his big flying headbutt but Black got his knee up to Sullivan’s jaw, Black though did surprise us all with a huge botch (his fault or Sullivan’s I’m unsure) as he went for a Black Mass and clearly missed the contact of Lars’ face, but Sullivan sold it as if he hit it anyway and Black got the nearfall. The Champion was undeterred by this (as much as the crowd tried to make him aware of it, not cool Chicago) and would later hit the Black Mass kick to its fullest, but the monstrous Sullivan would get back to his feet (bloody mouth and all). Finally another Black Mass was enough to put Lars away. After the match the champion would be shown clearly hobbling on his way to the back, as the challenger Sullivan was quickly out of sight (which may have been just to give the champion his spotlight, but when a beaten opponent in NXT quickly make their exit after a match it has been before a prelude to a main roster appearance. I may be completely wrong, but I would not be against now Lars making his way to Raw or Smackdown in the not so distant future.

***3/4

Tomasso Ciampa beat Johnny Gargano in a Chicago Street Fight

How do you follow up an all-time classic? Well… with ANOTHER! I did not know how they would top the insanity of their amazing match at the Takeover just gone, but somehow they did. The storytelling and the brutality of some of the stuff they did in this match was on a level I have not seen in a WWE ring for some time. So many moments to pick up here: Gargano wearing bottoms and not shorts as well as his character t-shirt was minor detail for some but it’s this sort of attention to detail that really sets NXT apart, they very quickly in were brawling in the crowd, Gargano hit Ciampa with a stop sign, a stage dive to Ciampa from Johnny into the crowd, Ciampa trying to handcuff Gargano, Ciampa using boltcutters to reveal the wood flooring under the ring, Gargano taking his belt from his trousers a repeatedly lashing his former friend across the back, Gargano placing a trashcan over the head of Ciampa before superkicking the can to double the effect, Gargano then hitting Ciampa with the kid of said Trashcan, Ciampa hitting a huge knee to the face of Gargano with the same knee that kept Ciampa legit OOA for many months last year and has been protected by a brace ever since. Ciampa would then attempt to take the brutality up a notch by ripping back the protective mat of the ring to reveal the hard wood flooring, only to not be able to immediately capitalise on this as Gargano would use a steel chair to target the previously injured knee with multiple chair shots, although Gargano would then himself be launched head first into a trash can set in the corner of the ring, and then one of the most in-genius and brutal looking spots of the match where Tomasso Ciampa put Johnny Gargano in his own Gargano escape submission hold, before transitioning into a STF supported with a crutch (Ciampa made his entrance with a crutch of his that has been used repeatedly in the past to attack Gargano as the crutch was previously a support when Ciampa was hurt… another thing I forgot to say was before Johnny Gargano made his way out for the match his wife Candice LeRae gave Gargano a crutch of is own to use as a weapon and told her husband to ‘kick his ass’, a change in stance after Candice had previously been against the street fight fearing more carnage… she was not wrong). Anyway… after the crutch supported STF Ciampa then absolutely batters Gargano’s own knee before hitting him with a stiff crutch shot to the neck, this was enough for a 2 count nearfall.

Ciampa eventually dragged Johnny to the top of the rampway screaming “it’s not enough” before throwing him into the display screen in a throwback to the spot last year where Ciampa originally turned on Gargano, And then Ciampa had the idea to drag Johnny upon a structure, and then proceeded to REMOVE HIS WEDDING RING, SPAT ON IT AND THEN THREW IT AWAY!!! COULD YOU GET ANY MORE PERSONAL? AWESOME! Gargano though then got the advantage and then hit a Celtic Cross (Samoan Drop type move) sending himself and Ciampa crashing through 2 tables and some crates below, this looked absolutely brutal! Emergency personnel and officials then tended to Ciampa as Gargano looked on, and as they were taking Ciampa to the back Johnny then absolutely snapped (looking at where his wedding ring once was), he chased after the stretcher, beat away all the officials and dragged a distraught Ciampa back towards the ring area. Gargano would then get his Gargano Escape submission in on Ciampa, and he was tapping repeatedly but for some unexplained reason the ref was nowhere to be seen so his taps for mercy went unanswered. The officials then returned to try and remove Gargano from the hold, to which Gargano again fended them off, he then proceeded to handcuff Ciampa and then superkicked him at least 6 times one after another, he locked on another Gargano escape but again the ref was nowhere to be seen to answer the taps from Ciampa, there was more of Gargano fending off officials trying to stop the mayhem, but a distracted Gargano then was hit with a DDT by Ciampa onto the earlier exposed wooden layer of the ring floor, and TOMASSO CIAMPA PICKED UP THE WIN! Crowd were absolutely fuming (proper heel heat for Ciampa though so it was all fine). This was some of the best storytelling across a match in WWE for some time. SOOOOOO many crazy spots, a great moment too when Gargano sent Ciampa crashing through the structures below and the crowd chanted “MAMMA MIA” in homage to NXT Commentator Mauro Ranallo. Mauro sadly missed the event as he was calling Boxing for Showtime in the US, although his replacement for the night, 205 Live lead announcer Vic Joseph did a fine job in his place. As did ring announcer Kayla Braxton who was in place of usual Takeover ring announcer Mike Rome, who was absent for reasons idk tbh. As the main event had concluded Ciampa made his way to the top of the entrance rampway and officials and his wife Candice tended to the fallen hero Gargano, Ciampa poetically waved goodbye to Gargano to close the show.

*****

This was another great NXT show. Good luck MITB topping this!!!

Josh.

NXT Takeover Chicago 2: Preview & Predictions

How does a brand follow the (just my opinion before you start) best professional wrestling show in history, as they had last time out at NXT Takeover: New Orleans? Well… Takeover: Chicago last year had a somewhat underwhelming build, but turned out to be an awesome show (as are pretty much all NXT shows). So this show… we have a potentially great technical, pure wrestling tag match, a potential for match of the year or at least one where the crowd will be absolutely outstanding and one guy could be a made man afterwards, a women’s title match that sees an absolutely insane challenger against a strong and powerful champion, an NXT Championship match that sees an absolutely insane challenger… against a strong and powerful champion… and also the re-match of the WWE match of the year so far (again, just my opinion). So all in all a great show to come right? Lets preview it…

NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (C) v Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan

This (as good as these 4 are as characters, particularly Strong and O’Reilly) will likely be one of the matches that comes after an epic, and the crowd are a little tired during. But much like the 3 way tag at Takeover: NOLA the in-ring stuff will be more than fine I’ve no doubt. Result wise it seems a foregone conclusion that the champions will retain, despite a recent multi-man match win I don’t see Burch and Lorcan or anyone else for that matter taking the tag titles from the Undisputed Era anytime soon.

Prediction: Undisputed Era

Velveteen Dream v Ricochet

I don’t mean to put to much pressure on neither, but this could well end up being my match of the year if this gets enough time. Ricochet is one of the very best in-ring workers in the world with his incredible athleticism-fueled arsenal of moves, and the Velveteen Dream whilst not yet the finished article is INCREDIBLY talented in between the ropes… and he’s 22!!! Ricochet in his promos comes across as so believable that the views of Ricochet you feel are very much aligned to those of Trevor Mann (that’s Ricochet’s real name btw) and as I always say if it comes across as real-like it’ll be so good, because the more real wrestling appears the better it almost always comes across. And I could go on and on and one about the Velveteen Dream’s Prince-like flamboyant, vainglorious persona for days and days because it’s one of the best characters I’ve seen in wrestling (he’s 22 YEARS OLD btw). Just YouTube any promos or hype videos of the Velveteen Dream and you’ll see what I mean. The interactions between these two have been electric, and I’ve no doubt the match between the 2 will steal the show. expectations are so high, fingers crossed they can delight us all with a masterclass in wrestling and storytelling. This COULD be incredible. Oh and fyi after you’ve seen any of the Velveteen Dream’s work… I’d like to remind you again that he is 22 YEARS OLD! Ricochet will win I’m almost certain, but as with his match vs Aleister Black last year this could be another match where despite taking the L, everyone afterwards is talking about the Velveteen Dream. Just as he likes it. (btw the Velveteen Dream was born on the 19th August 1995, he is ONE day younger than me… I’m going to take a moment now to let that sink in).

Prediction: Ricochet

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (C) v Nikki Cross

2 of the best female characters in WWE. Because both are so in-tune with who their character is they just act it out so well. Shanyna Baszler is so incredibly good for her relatively short time as a wrestler it’s silly, she just oozes heel qualities. As for Nikki Cross, the psychotic-Scot has proven to be the only one willing to put up a real fight to the dominant champion. This promises to be an overtly fun encounter, one that I’m almost certain will end with Baszler crushing the fans by putting Cross to sleep. The finish of this match will surely see Nikki PASS out rather than TAP out in order to maintain her position as one of the top women in NXT. I’m really unsure if she will indeed go to Smackdown and join up with her former Sanity brothers, simply because she’s so good on her own as a singles star. I’d LOVE this to be a longer term feud, but they’ve made such a big thing in recent weeks of building up the entire women’s division in NXT I’d assume this will see a number of different contenders compete for the championship, and as a result I’m saddened that I assume Shayna and Nikki may be a one and done affair, although I’d absolutely LOVE for it to continue after Chicago. If Nikki Cross does win the title though, I may very well cry real tears of joy…

Prediction: Shayna Baszler

NXT Championship: Aleister Black (C) v Lars Sullivan

So my prediction for this match is based on one simple idea, once you lose your title chance in NXT it usually means you’ve had your peak and you’re off to Raw or Smackdown. And whilst you could argue that was not the case for Johnny Gargano unlike Mr Wrestling I just don’t see anything else left for the monstrous Sullivan in NXT after he’s done chasing the NXT Championship. So with that in mind, as well as them pushing Aleister Black as the face of the brand (pretty much from day 1) I don’t see Black losing that title for a long time. Not even Sullivan I think with all his obvious talents will be enough to warrant taking the NXT title from Black at the first time of asking. Expect Black to be pushed very, very close before finally hitting his Black Mass for the win (I would not be surprised at all if Lars kicked out of 1 or maybe 2 Black Mass kicks before that too, maybe even at a 1 count I think that’d be great). I trust that Aleister Black could tell a good story with just about anyone in the ring, and expect another sleeper-classic from him here. Once again though Black will likely have a 4-4.5 star match on a card but is still overshadowed by a tremendous match elsewhere on the same night.

Prediction: Aleister Black

Johhny Gargano v Tomasso Ciampa – Chicago Street Fight

So how do you have 2 guys follow up the match of the year (again my opinion)? You let them do it again I guess with the same no rules/anything goes stipulation!!! One of the most compelling stories in recent years in WWE will continue in the same venue at the same event that Ciampa turned on his beloved former tag team partner last year. Big things were expected of the match and feud that would follow. It has not disappointed. You couldn’t tell a more personal rivalry if you tried. I was at first puzzled as to where this feud could go after their all time classic at Takeover: New Orleans, but in the intervening weeks both men have sunk to new levels as the animosity has continued to spiral out of control, and the violence to new extremes. I’ve absolutely no idea what they will come up with for this one, but it will be one hell of a match to watch!!! Result wise… I would assume Ciampa will get the win here, especially after such a match that he lost last time but really as long as the storytelling continues to be first class, I have eternal trust in both men and NXT that it will be done well. I want and think Ciampa should win as I see him as an obvious next challenger for Aleister Black’s title, the question is what would you then do with Johnny Gargano? With that being said I’ll be far from angry or disappointed if Gargano takes the win, what comes after this for both men though is much more a mystery. One I absolutely cannot wait to see unfold!!!

Prediction: Tomasso Ciampa

NXT Takeover: Chicago 2 will be great. I URGE you to watch. Sit back, relax, and enjoy 3 hours of compelling, all-action and down right incredible professional wrestling!

Josh.

Top 10 WWE Superstars (and matches AND moments) of 2018 SO FAR

First of all, please note a number of things about the superstars that I have picked for this list; the criteria for who is on this list consists of a number of things: quality of in-ring work, character work, winning matches and of course being entertaining. Secondly as this is a top 10 list it means a number of people miss out, and some huge names too. With that in mind I feel it only right I offer a list of honourable mentions, so here’s some of the names that just missed out:

  • Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, Ricochet, EC3 and Tomasso Ciampa have all had very few matches in 2018 so far, or have had long periods of the year where they have been inactive in the ring or not on WWE TV and therefore I feel it would be unfair to include them on a list of the best WWE talents for the entire 6 month period so far.
  • Finn Balor, ‘WOKEN’ Matt Hardy, the Bludgeon Brothers; Harper & Rowan (yes I will be including tag teams as one single entrant), Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Carmella, Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe and Nikki Cross) and the Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong) can all count themselves very unlucky. They were the last few names that just missed out on being in the top 10 and had it been a top 20 list they would be on it.
  • Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Roman Reigns, Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon and Rusev with Aiden English were all out of contention for me as they simply were booked to lose too many or in particular the big matches they have been in in 2018. Not their fault as performers obviously but it’s a factor I couldn’t overlook.
  • Finally, and I’ve mentioned him already, but an extra special mention for Tomasso Ciampa. If you read my week in review blogs you will know how absolutely INCREDIBLE a performer as a heel this man is. If he is as good for the next 6 months as he has been during the last month or so of NXT then he wont just be in the top 10, he’ll be number ONE!

So now that’s done let’s get into it… here is my countdown of the top 10 WWE superstars of 2018 so far… in my opinion…

10. ELIAS

If you told me 1 year ago just after he first came to the main roster from NXT that ELIAS would be even in the conversation for superstar of the year I’d have laughed at you and then judged you forever for your stupid opinions. But to his credit Elias has got his gimmick over on the main roster after doing really nothing of note in NXT, and with each week that goes by and with every town he runs down during his performances, the cheers get louder and louder, and Elias gets more and more over. He is one of the most entertaining characters on the roster, he is hilarious! He’s destined to be a babyface surely, you can’t get cheered as much as he does and be a heel (well… Rusev would argue otherwise). His feud with Braun Strowman was so entertaining it was absurd, his segment where Braun sung (more on that later in the blog) was one of the best segments of the year, and above all else (think what you want about this) but Elias was the set up guy for the match between JOHN CENA and THE UNDERTAKER at WRESTLEMANIA! If that’s not a big spot I don’t know what is? Tremendous 6 months for Elias so far in 2018, maybe not exactly AJ Styles in the ring but his character work is among the best on the entire roster… to me, WWE may well indeed stand for WALK WITH ELIAS!

9. SHAYNA BASZLER

The current NXT Women’s Champion has been in WWE for less than a year, after making her debut in the inaugural Mae Young Classic last year. And after making an immediate impression in the tournament, getting to the final where she would just lose out to Kairi Sane, Baszler would go on to continue her momentum upon her arrival in NXT. Within no time at all The Queen of Spades pursued the NXT Women’s Championship, then held by Ember Moon. In January at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia Moon would survive a submission based onslaught from Baszler, but wouldn’t escape without an attack as she celebrated her victory. In the rematch at NXT Takeover: New Orleans the 2 were in the un-enviable spot of having to follow one of the best opening matches in WWE history (more on that later) but put on a fine match that again saw Baszler dominate. The finish saw Moon come flying off the top rope for her Eclipse finishing move, only for Shayna to catch her and lock in the Kirifuda Clutch submission that was enough to put Moon to sleep and begin the reign of the Queen of Spades. It’s been a pretty incredible 2018 so far for Shayna Baszler, helped greatly by her fabulous character work. I guess it helps though the fact that her gimmick is that she’s a badass MMA fighter, when in real life she’s a… badass MMA fighter (not rocket science WWE is it? This is how you get people over, LET THEM BE THEMSELVES). Her in-ring work is sound, her promos suit her no-nonsense heel role so well, she’s just really great at what she does and so believable in everything she does. And I have a feeling her dominance of WWE has only just begun…

8. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

IF his ongoing feud with AJ Styles had of been as good as it could and SHOULD be (ie NOT had 1 underwhelming Mania match and 2 more SUCK finishes, and then a 4th match be on regular Smackdown tv) then the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble match winner (in which he eliminated a couple of jobbers called JOHN CENA and ROMAN REIGNS to win the match) may well have been a lot higher on this list. He’s awesome, lets be honest. In-ring his style is so unique yet so enthralling, his heel turn at Wrestlemania made up for the underwhelming match in how beautifully done it was, and his heel work since then has been sensational. It has brought a whole new level to Nakamura’s character, he looks so much more comfortable in this role. Nakamura is another who may well end the year even higher on this list, FINALLY having that 5 star WWE match with AJ will help, as will holding the WWE Championship, but nonetheless the King of Strong Style remains among the best in the world, and 2018 was the year in which one of the all time great NXT superstars became one of the WWE’s top guys, and long may it continue.

7. ANDRADE ‘CIEN’ ALMAS

When you have the first Dave Meltzer 5 star rated match in WWE for nearly 7 years, make your WWE main roster debut by entering the Royal Rumble match and lasting just under 30 minutes and its only the end of January, you know you’re well on your way to superstar of the year contention. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas has been enjoying a career renaissance ever since NXT placed Zelina Vega by his side as his business associate in order to revive the fortunes of the former luchador turned party animal in July 2017. An incredible wrestler, a tremendous heel, cocky, arrogant character with a strong focus on achieving his goals. And he’s been turned into this great all rounder in no uncertain terms by the influence of Zelina Vega. And although this entrant is for EL IDOLO solely, Vega deserves a mention for being his mouthpiece with her amazing mic skills and the occasional physical input in his matches. Almas followed up his all time classic against Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia with a brilliant match in losing his title to Aleister Black at NXT Takeover: New Orleans; and with him and Vega recently making their descent to Smackdown Live the world really is the oyster for 2 of the best heels on the roster.

6. BRAUN STROWMAN

If Roman Reigns did not exist then Braun Strowman would probably be the Universal Champion right now. And at Wrestlemania this year he was in fact on standby should Roman (with allegations of drugs use, that turned out to be false, hanging over him at the time) or Brock (who… well… could’ve just not turned up) not be able to make the match then Braun was going to be placed in that match instead. But instead he won the tag team titles with a child, which I hated at the time and I still don’t like it, BUT it did solidify to me that Braun is the guy who WWE want to present to the masses as the top man. And then he won a little match in a big foreign country that WWE were kind of big on, and I cannot remember the last time Braun Strowman ended a match or a segment not standing tall and roaring to the crowd (even at the Elimination Chamber when he eliminated 5 guys but got pinned by Reigns, he ended the ppv strong as he destroyed Roman shortly after). On top of that a big,strong,powerful, scary guy whose as menacing on the mic as he is in the ring is pretty much the antithesis of what a pro-wrestler should be. Oh, AND HE CAN SING! His segment with Elias were he sung a song had me in stitches and only further proved how much a good all-rounder this guy is. Having transitioned from Wyatt Family heavy to one of the top face guys in the company as a charming yet monstrous destroyer; Braun Strowman has become the heir to the red brand throne, and by the time 2018 ends he may will sit on top of Raw… and of this list…

5. SETH ROLLINS

Seth Rollins has long been regarded as one of the best in-ring performers in WWE, but he’d never be the one who people would immediately call the best. He’s well in that conversation now, half way through a year in which he has been as close to the level (and at times in my opinion beyond) when he was WWE Champion. Kevin Owens, The Miz, Finn Balor THREE TIMES, Mojo Rawley… I’ll repeat MOJO RAWLEY have all had good to great matches with Rollins in 2018, add to that an hour plus long performance in a near 2 hour match on Raw (pinning Roman Reigns and John Cena back to back in the process) as well as opening Wrestlemania by winning the Intercontinental Championship and it is safe to say 2018 has been a great half year for Seth Rollins. Monday Night Rollins? INDEED IT IS!

4. AJ STYLES

Right, before I get into talking about the 2018 so far of AJ, I’d like to point out that I believe AJ Styles is the best professional wrestler (in-ring) in the world. Some would say New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kasuchika Okada or Kenny Omega for that accolade but I would point to the lesser in-ring talents Styles has had to work with (Corbin, Mahal are a couple of names that immediately come to mind). Secondly off the back of that some will argue how on earth AJ is not number 1 in this list? Well simply put the ONLY thing keeping him from number 1 in this list is his feud with Shinsuke Nakamura, or more the somewhat underwhelming matches and shit finishes all but the most recent match between the two have had. I’m deadly serious when I say that if that feud improves in the second half of 2018, and we finally get THE match between the two we’ve all been waiting for, then he could well be the end of year superstar of the year. But simply put he was WWE Champion on January 1, and he’s still WWE Champion now as I write this. He retained the title at Wrestlemania. He’s one of the most over guys in the company, he’s without a doubt the best in-ring performer in the company, so it has been far from a bad year for him, but as with Shinsuke Nakamura both have become a victim of their own expectations, we unfairly expect ungodly-excellence and anything else can come off as somewhat disappointing. But he is PHENOMENAL, and that’s not just a catchphrase, it’s a fact.

3. JOHNNY GARGANO

He had one of the best matches in NXT and WWE history in January against Andrade Almas, he’s fastly become the most sympathetic babyface in WWE since Daniel Bryan 2014-2015, he’s an absolutely first class in-ring performer, he’s great at promos, he comes off as incredibly believable in everything he does and says… Johnny Wrestling (yes, he’s so good he’s often called Johnny WRESTLING) is pretty hot at the moment in terms of star-power, but every great dancer needs a dance partner to shine, and the ying to his yang is his former tag team partner/best friend; Tomasso Ciampa. It is no surprise that Gargano becoming the biggest babyface has paralleled with Ciampa becoming the top heel, and after months and months of Ciampa brutally attacking and tormenting Gargano we finally were gifted to the long awaited grudge match at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. It main evented the show (AHEAD of the Championship match) so we should have known something special was coming, and with this event being 24 hours before Wrestlemania the entire main roster were left with a near impossible task of following this match. In an unsanctioned anything goes match with Gargano’s NXT career on the line we witnessed nearly 40 minutes of one of the most amazingly told story’s pro-wrestling has ever seen. Brutal exchanges of offences and back and forths and nearfalls filled one of the best WWE matches in recent history, and to the delight of the crowd their hero finally got his payoff against his foe. It was a crowning moment for someone who it seems is only a matter of time away from championship gold… surely….?

2. ALEISTER BLACK

The current champion of NXT has had a great 1st year in WWE, and his first 6 months of 2018 have just been fantastic. A superb match to begin the year at Takeover: Philadelphia against Adam Cole under extreme rules, led him to a pathway towards the NXT Championship and Andrade Almas. The 2 went on to put on a tremendous match in New Orleans, with Black hitting his ferocious Black Mass kick for the win. Some people just LOOK the part, and the sight of the mystical, tatoo-filled man from Holland with the glistening NXT Championship belt is something to behold. He’s, much like AJ Styles, capable of getting one of the best matches of almost any opponent’s career’s, his kickboxing based mma style mixed with his incredible athleticism makes his matches fun to watch to say the least, and that added with his great story-telling capabilities make every Aleister Black match must see from start (including his awe-inspiring entrance) to the inevitable Black Mass finish. Aleister Black will no doubt have an amazing second half of 2018, and by this time in 12 months time (with his current trajectory) he could well be on his road to a Championship of a red or blue home brand…

1.ADAM COLE

Confession time: I love Adam Cole. He’s incredibly entertaining as a character, in promos and whilst giving his opponents verbal grief during his matches, and as a wrestler he’s fantastic. He was the star of the match despite a losing effort to Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match at Takeover: Philadelphia, but in this match both men won, such was the nature of the contest. And the next night he made his main roster debut by surprisingly entering the Royal Rumble match to a huge fanfare and ovation. And then… as the pre Wrestlemania Takeover loomed large, the match was set to crown the first ever NXT North American Champion in a ladder match, pitting 6 of NXT’s most over and exciting stars against one another, but despite the efforts of EC3, Killian Dain, Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan and the incredible Ricochet it was ADAM COLE BAY BAY who claimed the prize. It opened the show, and it was simply one of the best matches in WWE and NXT history and by far the best show opener we have ever seen. Adam Cole after being the star in the War Games match last year, and less than 12 months after making his WWE debut by attacking the then NXT Champion, Adam Cole was the man chosen to carry this new title. And on top of all that he just so happens to be the leader of the Undisputed Era stable, who collectively are maybe the best group in WWE right now and arguably one of the collective best in all of pro-wrestling. His leadership abilities were put to the test to the highest of levels when he had to stand in for injured stable-mate Bobby Fish and join Kyle O’Reilly in defending their NXT Tag Team titles later on the SAME NIGHT as his incredible NXT North American title win, and it was a 3 way against the Authors of Pain and the team of Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong. And although he was put through a table and taken out by AOP early on, it was the turn of Roderick Strong in joining the Undisputed Era that meant the tag titles stayed put. The sight of Cole, O’Reilly, Strong and the injured Bobby Fish stood on the rampway with all their titles and their newly won Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic trophy was a visual to fit the magnitude of what Adam Cole had accomplished on NXT’s biggest night of the year. Adam Cole is a star. Plain and Simple. And when he comes to the main roster it really will SHOCK THE SYSTEM (again not a catchphrase, this will be a fact).

ALSO
As an added bonus for you all, I’ve decided to put together a list of both best matches and moments of the year so far. By popular demand I have chosen to focus this blog on the best superstars of the year so far, but just for fun here are 2 more half way point WWE lists for you all.

WWE Matches of the year 2018 SO FAR

10. Seth Rollins beat Finn Balor. Raw, 2/4 – 4.25*

9. Tomasso Ciampa beat Kassius Ohno. NXT, 9/5 – 4.25*

8. Seth Rollins beat Finn Balor to retain the Intercontinental Championship. Raw, 30/4 – 4.25*

7. Aleister Black beat Adam Cole in an Extreme Rules Match. NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, 27/1 – 4.25*

6. Charlotte Flair beat Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Wrestlemania 34, 8/4- 4.25*

5. Aleister Black beat Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (with Zelina Vega) to win the NXT Championship. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4 – 4.5*

4. Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle beat Stephanie McMahon & Triple H in a Mixed Tag Team Match. Wrestlemania 34, 8/4 – 4.75*

3. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (with Zelina Vega) beat Johnny Gargano to retain the NXT Championship. NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, 27/1 – 5*

2. Adam Cole beat EC3, Killian Dain, Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan and Ricochet in a Ladder Match to become the first ever NXT North American Champion. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4 – 5*

1. Johnny Gargano beat Tomasso Ciampa in an Unsanctioned Match. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4 – 5*

WWE Moments of the year 2018 SO FAR

10. Adam Cole wins the NXT North American Championship. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4

9. Sami Zayn and then Kevin Owens’ Montreal entrances. Raw, 30/4

8. Aleister Black wins the NXT Championship. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4

7. Johnny Gargano beats Tomasso Ciampa. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4

6. Ricochet’s entrance. NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 7/4

5. Charlotte Flair ends Asuka’s undefeated Streak. Wrestlemania 34, 8/4

4. Shinsuke Nakamura wins the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble Match. Royal Rumble, 28/1

3. Rey Mysterio enters the Men’s Royal Rumble Match. Royal Rumble, 28/1

2. Undertaker’s entrance. Wrestlemania 34, 8/4

1. Daniel Bryan’s 1st entrance after being cleared. Smackdown, 20/3

SPECIAL MENTION: Titus O’Neil’s slip. Greatest Royal Rumble, 27/4

Josh.

29/5/2018 – What’s on my mind: Update…

HELLOOOOOOOOOOO EVERBODYYYYYYYYYY! So… you may or may not have noticed that there was no ‘What’s on my mind’ blog yesterday, indeed here it is today. This was for a few reasons; A. it was a bank holiday Monday and I just wanted to chill, and B. I’ve honestly not enjoyed writing my blogs as much as I did at first, I’ve found them becoming more and more of a chore each week, and in particular my reviews of Raw, Smackdown and NXT have become shorter and shorter each week. So from now on I’ll no longer be putting out my week in review blogs. Not the easiest of things to find time to write a blog of that length, as well as have a near-full time job, and to try and have a life as well… And anyway Y’all have Google (I’ll still be more than happy to answer any questions about any WWE show or give my thoughts on any WWE related story’s or wrestling in general).

In terms of what kind of schedule I have with my blog now, I’ll still do a what’s on my mind blog each week but not always on a Monday, and I’ll still do my ppv previews and reviews as well as the same for the NXT Takeover shows. Plus I’ll still do my monthly top 10 blogs, continuing with the one I will be releasing next week which is a real good one; TOP 10 WWE SUPERSTARS OF THE YEAR SO FAR! That blog has been real tough to decide on an order, so I’ve done my best to justify where everyone is on the list PLUS as a bonus I’ve listed also my top 10 moments and matches so far in 2018 in WWE, so look out for that blog out on Sunday (3rd June). So as I say I’m unsure what or when I’ll be releasing blogs going forward outside of the ppv/.takeover/top 10s, I’ll just do what I want, when I want with the blog, until I make money from it I’ll take it at my own pace, this is essentially just my hobby after all! So yeah, whatever I put out going forward I son’t know but keep your eyes peeled.

ANYWAY this past Sunday I attended a Ring of Honor/New Japan show in Doncaster. It was a really fun show, I seriously think every WWE fan should follow wrestling outside of the E too, it will really open your mind as a wrestling fan. I’ve followed wrestling not exclusive to WWE for the past 2 years or so properly, and I’m so much more in love with pro wrestling as a result. Maybe I’ll start to do some blogs about wrestling outside of WWE, but there are only so many hours in a day and the nature and magnitude of all things WWE means there’s always stuff to talk about from them, and also most wrestling fans I know are mainly WWE fans, and until enough people want or ask me to do more blogs on wrestling outside of WWE I’ll keep it to a WWE blog output… we shall see… MAYBE…

SO yes, I think I’m about all up to date really. We are on the road to both NXT Takeover; Chicago 2 and also the Money in the Bank ppv. MITB in particular I feel will be a pivotal show in terms of the landscape of the company going forward, both ladder matches are really tough to call, and if last years are anything to go by we can tell that the winner can be set up for a big push in the case of Carmella (who almost a year on from her controversial win is the current blue brand champion, and her character work has improved ten-fold, her in-ring work is gradually improving too), and last year’s men’s winner Baron Corbin would likely have held the WWE Title at some point last year had it not been for his attitude backstage… so if you win the MITB ladder match, you’re, unless you screw up, set for a big push… as for the rest of the card we have titanic matches including Ronda v Nia, Asuka v Carmella and AJ vs Nakamura which all could go either way, and all could be great or terrible in equal measure booking-wise. Takeover; Chicago 2 as Takerover’s always are I’m sure will be a fine show. Maybe not as blockbuster as some past NXT events, but NXT has a tradition of having a slightly underwhelming card, but then delivering an outstanding show. NXT Takeover; Chicago last year us the prime example of this, so expect another awesome show from the best brand in wrestling… NXT!

So I’ll be back again with another blog at some point, about what in the wrestling world and when I do not know, but i hope you’ll enjoy nonetheless…

Josh.

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.

14/5/2018 – What’s on my mind: FUCK YOU ROMAN! & who SHOULD be the next Universal Champion

I’m done. As of NOW I’d like to publicly declare I have officially had ENOUGH of Roman Reigns. Beforehand I would always defend him to everyone, my argument being that his character is great, he’s just being written and positioned terribly. But now, and pretty much every time since Wrestlemania, Roman Reigns on TV has just been a whining, complaining little bitch. Yeah he’s still a decent wrestler but fuck me he’s a dick on tv. He’s never been amazing on the mic, but occasionally when he’s really fired up (and even as recently as during the Lesnar pre-Mania stuff) he can deliver really effective and believable promos where after one in particular I recall I was fully wanting him to beat Lesnar. Of course he didn’t, and maybe that was the turning point for him to become a bitch all of a sudden, might be a bit of truth in that non-kayfabe, but never as a face before has Roman been presented as so CLEARLY a heel. Yet he continues to tag with the top good guys at live shows, and is beginning a feud with Jinder Mahal right now, but him being told by Kurt Angle (about as babyface an authority figure as you could get) that he wont be getting anymore chances to be in the MITB ladder match it seems now Roman has a gripe, but A. he’s been told NO by a good guy and B. it’s not like he’s justified for a spot in MITB after losing his first chance match. It seems inevitable that he will get ANOTHER shot at Brock, given the controversial ending to the Cage match when Roman’s feet hit the ground first but Lesnar was declared the winner, but will ANYONE care? No, and for once ME included. “FUCK YOU ROMAN” (Every live Raw and ppv crowd, since 2016). The “BIG DOG” has now become a big BITCH!

SO… if Roman SHOULD NOT be the one to overthrone The Beast and rescue the Universal Championship belt from part-time status, then the big question is who SHOULD instead? Well, the obvious answer (and the one on the whole I’d probably still prefer them to go with) is BRAUN STROWMAN. He’s the most over guy on the entire Raw roster right now, he’s huge, he’s awesome, he’s great at promos and if you look at Braun you see someone that’d be believable to end the reign of terror of Brock Lesnar. Ideally, in dream world, maybe Braun wins MITB, Roman beats Lesnar at Summerslam, then Braun immediately cashes in and wins. There’s that OR a great idea I heard that would REALLY solidify Braun as the main man if it all went to plan; Braun still wins MITB, but next night he announces ahead of time that he’ll be cashing in on Brock, Kurt Angle tells him Lesnar wont be here til Summerslam, and Braun says that’s fine and announces that he’ll be cashing in by challenging Brock for the title at Summerslam. Main event of Summerslam, Braun vs Brock, Braun wins, Lesnar FINALLY sods off to UFC and Braun holds the Universal Championship for 10000000 days, at least.

And whilst Braun is the most obvious alternative to Roman Reigns, who else could be in the spot, AND get cheered (yes Roman it is possible)? Finn Balor STILL hasn’t had his Universal title rematch, but who would I go with to face Brock NOW? The answer is Seth Rollins. Seth Rollins has without a doubt been the most outstanding in-ring performer on Raw in 2018 by a long, long way. Ever since The Shield had their brief reunion last year Seth has seemed like a charged man, ever since his Triple H feud had died down after their Mania 33 bout a babyface Rollins seemed a little lost and without any direction or real motivations, but the reformation of The Shield gave Rollins a huge spotlight to take the mantle as one of the top guys once again, his in-ring work went to another level, and even after Dean Ambrose injury put an end to that, his work with Jason Jordan and against Sheamus and Cesaro was where Seth really began to be standout among a plethora of top performers. In early 2018 after losing his and Jordan’s tag titles, Jordan’s injury meant Seth had a chance to once again shine on his own as a singles competitor, and my oh my has he SHINED!

A starring role in the near 2 HOUR gauntlet match on Raw in lasting over an hour himself (in which he pinned Roman Reigns and John Cena no less), and then an impassioned promo in the build to Wrestlemania where he declared that he wanted to make it “Monday Night Rollins”. It took nearly 2 years since his injury return that cost him the WWE Championship but Seth finally delivered the promo that we’ve all been waiting for. Another first class performance in the opening bout of Wrestlemania this year where he completed the grand-slam in winning the Intercontinental Championship, along with fantastic recent matches with Kevin Owens, Mojo Rawley (yes he got a great match from MOJO, he’s THAT good), The Miz and Finn Balor on THREE occasions has only seen his popularity increase even further to the point where he is not only one of the superstars of the year so far, but he’s one of the top challengers in waiting for the UNIVERSAL championship. As for the IC title Seth has been doing an open challenge gimmick recently, so you’d simply have DEAN AMBROSE answer and win that, those two feud and tear the house down, Dean comes out on top and Rollins moves on to challenge Brock. You could not have a more sympathetic babyface against Brock Lesnar if you tired WWE, people would go absolutely nuts (in the best way) if Rollins emerged as the challenger, and eventual victor, over Lesnar. 2 years ago at Summerslam Seth Rollins lost in a match to crown the first ever Universal Champion, so surely it’d be only fitting BROCK LESNAR LOSES TO SETH ROLLINS at Summerslam. And even then if you wanted Roman to eventually beat Rollins you could, but Seth should be made clearly as the main man in that, and Roman should be a heel. SETH ROLLINS, NEXT UNIVERSAL CHAMPION (or Braun…) PLEASE!

Josh.

WWE week in review – May 18 2018

Friday = Charlotte Flair is forced to fly home from the WWE’s tour of Europe. On night one of the tour (last night in Germany), in a match against Carmella, Charlotte lost some of her teeth. Queen not having the best of look lately after recently rupturing an implant… ouch.

Saturday= Seth Rollins will once again defend the Intercontinental Championship on Monday night Raw from London at the O2. His open challenge this week has been answered by Kevin Owens. This match SHOULD be unreal, Seth has been on fire recently and pitting him against an in-ring workhorse like Owens should lead to a great contest.

Sunday= not much happened ngl

Monday= Shane McMahon confirms via twitter that once again AJ Styles will defend the WWE Championship, for the 4th time, against Shinsuke Nakamura. This time at the upcoming Money in the Bank ppv. As of now no stipulation for the match has been announced (Although one would presume it’ll be a Last Man Standing match given that neither man answered the 10 count in their match at Backlash, or an I Quit match maybe so someone has to say they give up).

WWE is reportedly trying to sign even more UK based talent ahead of their upcoming UK expansion (and to compete with the ITV wrestling programme). Names apparently on the WWE’s radar are the likes of: Joe Coffey, Dave Mastiff (who had been pushed as the lead heel on the first ITV pilot show), El Ligero, Travis Banks, Chris Brookes, Jinny, and Eddie Dennis. Also they have been heavily after former MYC entrant Toni Storm (as I spoke about last week). This is very exciting stuff not just for UK wrestlers but fans of the UK scene like myself, and even those not aware of it as believe me you’ll be impressed. (source: Wrestling Observer)

After appearing together at an NBC event for the WWE, Nia Jax has challenged Ronda Rousey to a match for the Raw Women’s Championship, set for Money in the Bank!!! WOW ABSOLUTE BLOCKBUSTER! It may be a little early for Ronda but nonetheless it’ll be exciting. I hope and pray she’s as good as she was at Wrestlemania, and even though I expect a screwy finish and maybe interference from Natalya to turn on Rousey or even Stephanie McMahon gets revenge for Mania perhaps… can you IMAGINE though if Rousey wins? She has to surely? Screwy finish or Rousey wins the title for me.

RAW: (Tapped edition of the show from the 02 Arena in London)

  • They began the show by announcing Rousey vs Nia for MITB… which will be… interesting… Roman Reigns then came out to the ring and naturally was booed heavily by the London crowd. Roman cut a promo saying he got ‘robbed’ last week, but this time not by WWE management but by Jinder Mahal, he then called Jinder out but instead Raw GM Kurt Angle answered the call. Kurt told Reigns that Mahal wouldn’t be coming out, to which Roman asked Kurt when did he start speaking for Mahal? Angle replied that he doesn’t speak for Mahal, but for WWE’s management before going on to say that him thinking emotionally led him to deny Mahal the chance to compete for a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match last week and then he said be thinking about (after briefly hesitating) “what’s best for business” (to which the crowd booed and groaned as it appeared Kurt Angle had gone corporate). Angle would go on to announce Mahal in a match with Bobby Lashley and Elias in a MITB qualifier for later in the show, Roman Reigns requested ti be made a 4 way, to which Angle said that would not be happening and that WWE management had told him Roman would not be getting anymore MITB qualifying chances. Kurt said that he could understand if Reigns was pissed off, Reigns responded saying he understood that kurt had to do what he had to do (as management) but that now he was going to do what HE had to do too (the London crowd then sang the goodbye song to Roman)! Roman then walked to the backstage area looking for Jinder Mahal, but Jinder threw Sunil Singh into him and went on the attack. They brawled until Mahal threw a trash can into Reigns’ rib area, Reigns then sent Jinder into a wall and onto a table of food etc., he rolled a case into Mahal as the two fought back towards the entrance ramp area, Reigns hit a Superman Punch before a load of officials broke the two up. For the first time in a long time, I’m really starting to dislike Roman Reigns’ character. He just whines and complains about EVERYTHING, got to be one of the worst booked and written characters in WWE history! He deserves so much more.
  • The first match of the show was the IC Title match between the champion Seth Rollins against Kevin Owens. Surpised this wasn’t the main event but it made sense why it went on first as the show went on. And in recent times we have seen the likes of John Cena and AJ Styles no less hold open challenges with a secondary title on the line, both times it has gone tremendously well, inflating the stock of the championship, the challengers who get a spotlight and the champion too who can continue to have great matches. This was ANOTHER great Seth Rollins match. All the usual moves and spots from these two, but it was a properly entertaining match that the crowd were really into. Finish came when KO was on the top rope, Rollins followed him up and tried to hit a superplex, but Owens instead hit a Super fisherman’s suplex causing Rollins to hit the ring floor and roll out of the ring. Owens went after him and as both men made their way back into the ring, Rollins then sprung the Curb Stomp to Owens that was enough for the 1,2,3. Seth retains. Rollins once again with an excellent match, more than staking his claim for my superstar of the year so far (blog to come beginning of June fyi).
  • They showed footage from the NBC event where Nia challenged Rousey, this was followed by Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel approaching Kurt Angle wanting a tag team title shot. They will now be known as “The B Team” (B standing for best apparently), Kurt reminded them that they’ve never won a tag team match and Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt beat them last week, to which Axel came back saying the B Team was undefeated and how could Angle turn down a title shot for an undefeated team? (EH???) Kurt gave in and said he would put them in a match later if they would leave him alone.
  • Bobby Roode then earned his place in the MITB match by winning a triple threat against Baron Corbin and No Way Jose. Corbin got a nearfall after a deep six on Bobby Roode, to which No Way Jose broke up the pin attempt after, didn’t seem like the crowd were too into this one as they were singing football chants at this stage, Corbin hit each man with a clothesline in the corner but eventually missed one and collided with the ringpost (in the most over used spot in WWE over the last 12 months), and with Corbin OOA Bobby Roode hit No Way Jose with the Glorious ddt for the win. Kind of a nothing match but right result. Be nice if Roode won the briefcase but at this stage anyone who has qualified so far would be a good winner for me.
  • Kevin Owens confronted Raw GM Angle (who I do hope is being paid per segment tonight) demanding for a rematch with Seth Rollins. Angle stated that he lost (correct) to which Owens threatened to call Stephanie McMahon. This caused Kurt to get a bit irate and state he was sick and tired of Owens threatening him, to which Owens in turn said it was not a threat, it’s about to become reality. So they always are coming back to the idea that Owens is a Stephanie McMahon guy… so maybe that’ll become a bigger thing later down the line? Remember of course it was Triple H who practically handed the Universal Championship to Kevin Owens a couple of years ago… Kurt then walked on to see Jinder being treated for rib injuries, Mahal said he couldn’t believe Kurt was making him compete tonight, Angle said the match was happening as it was “best for business”… PLEASE KURT I BEG, we were all sick of this phrase 2 years ago, don’t bring it back PLEASE!?!
  • The B Team beat Breezango in about 3 and half minutes. Axel and Dallas were sporting white t shirts with a B drawn on in black marker pen. Axel and Bo did an interview afterwards and got the crowd chanting for the B team.
  • We then had a fairly fun 6 woman tag that saw Ember Moon, Natalya and Sasha take on The Riott Squad. Natalya went for the Sharpshooter, only for Ruby Riott to break it up, Liv Morgan then hit an Enzuigiri, but Ember Moon stopped the pin before backdropping Sarah Logan over the top rope. Sasha Banks hit the Meteora on Logan, leading to Moon following up with a tope. Natalya then won the match for her team by making Liv Morgan tap out with the Sharpshooter. Kind of a bit long, and a bit filler, but it was fine. Ending part was particularly good.
  • Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler cut a promo; Dolph said Braun Strowman and Finn Balor have jumped to the head of the line by smoke and mirrors and Drew McIntyre said they aren’t there to take anyone’s food off their table, they’re there to ‘flip the table over’. Cool promo, kind of liking this team. Always adored Drew but Dolph I’ve cared little about until he tea,med up with Drew. Good stuff to come surely?
  • The Raw Tag Team Champions the DELETORS of Worlds; WOKEN Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt beat The Revival. Saddest thing about this wasn’t the result, it wasn’t Bo and Axel seen taking notes backstage, it was the fact The Revival lost AGAIN in less than 5 minutes. The only ever 2 time NXT Tag Team champions in history, The Revival, who were in some of the best matches in NXT history, jobbed out again. SIGH. Also Sasha Banks wished Bayley good luck ahead of her match tonight backstage, to which Bayley thanked her. This was terrible in the sense that it made me so sad and so furious that this feud has just been NOTHING!!!! NOTHING HAS HAPPENED! THEY’VE DONE NOTHING!!!!
  • Sami Zayn then cut a promo. The promo itself was (clearly to me) handed to him by a writer, because Sami is a great promo but this one just didn’t entertain me. It was about Bobby Lashley, and multiple references were made to that weird video of Lashley last week that showcased his Sisters more than anything, I mean… it was fine… but it felt very forced to me.
  • Next was Alexa Bliss vs Mickie James vs Bayley in a qualifying match for the Women’s MITB match. Mickie and Alexa ganged up on Bayley (who as always in England got the ‘heyyyyyyyy, hey Bayley, oh, ah….’ chants from the crowd), eventually James & Bliss argued after inadvertently hitting one another, Bayley then hit Bliss from behind and would later hit her with a Bayley-to-belly but James pulled Bayley out of the ring before she could get the pinfall, and Mickie then tried to cover the downed Bliss instead, but Bayley in-turn pulled her out. Bayley and Mickie then brawled outside the ring with Bayley getting the upper hand, she then rolled back into the ring but was immediately caught with a right hand and then her finishing ddt and Alexa Bliss got the win. Perhaps then you could have Alexa win, and her attempt at cashing in on Nia is the cause for Rousey to get the win? Maybe? I doubt that but they pushed Alexa real hard in 2016 and 2017 and for her to just be cast aside from the title picture like that would be odd, perhaps she’s a possible future challenger for Rousey…. who knows…
  • As Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh made their way out of the trainer’s room (Jinder now with his ribs fully tapped) … Roman Reigns came out of nowhere (Orton, 20??) and speared Jinder through a plywood wall. It was a really impressive looking spot (other than that it was not a REAL wall and they didn;t even try to hide that it wasn’t a fake wall, but it was still not enough to get the crowd on Roman’s side. Afterwards as Mahal was being attended to Sunil Singh pleaded with Raw GM Kurt Angle (him again) to cancel the match, Kurt though said that the match would go on & Jinder would be replaced.
  • Next match was Drew McIntyre & Dolph Zigger against Finn Balor and Braun Strowman. A really all star contest, with the UK’s own Drew getting a huge pop on his entrance. Drew kept stopping Balor getting the hot tag to Braun, Braun later hit Dolph on the chest (HARD) but then Strowman ran into the ringpost (a spot now seen approximately 123500000 times on Raw in the past few months), Balor then tagged Braun who got a nearfall on Dolph with Drew making the save. Finn then hit the sling blade, and then the woo dropkick and would go for the Coupe de Grace, but McIntyre grabbed Finn’s leg to stop him. Braun got revenge for this and went on to hit a huge shoulder block on McIntyre but in the meantime shortly after Dolph hit Balor on the top rope and got the pin shortly after. Decent match. Would be negatives of anyone taking the L in this one but it seems clear now that Drew and Dolph are well on their way to the tag titles.
  • Finally shortly before the main event it emerged Jinder Mahal’s replacement in the match tonight was none other than KEVIN OWENS! The suggestion being made was that Angle being forced to bow to pressure from above to give Owens the spot. And then indeed we had Kevin Owens vs Bobby Lashley vs Elias in a MITB qualifier. Match was ok but seemed all about Lashley up until the point when Lashley hit Owens with a big Spinebuster, before then being caught with a running knee by Elias. and then with both men knocked down, to the delight of the crowd Elias decided he wanted to give us all another performance. Jojo the ring announcer then went and gave him his guitar, but sadly Owens rolled into the ring and was hit with a knee, before Lashley broke up the subsequent pin, the crowd then chanted “LET HIM SING”. (YES PLEASE LET HIM SING). Owens then hit a really good superkick on Elias, but missed the following Cannonball, Elias then hit a top rope elbow but Lashley broke the pin, he hit Elias with a big clothesline and went for his standing suplex, KO then pulled Elias down and the 2 heels went to double suplex Lashley, only for Bobby to suplex them both simultaneously. As the match drew on Sami Zayn came down for his inevitable interference, to break up another pin attempt by Bobby Lashley, he then hit a Helluva Kick to him and with Elias still OOA, Kevin Owens hit a big frog splash on Elias and KEVIN OWENS got the win. KO is in the MITB match. Few points here, firstly Lashley got booed during the match and received little fanfare on his entrance, despite WWE clearly trying to make him seem a big deal in recent week since his comeback to the company. My immediate thoughts (having experienced a live UK Raw crowd myself last year) would be they maybe didn’t know who he was or at least his history in WWE and his work outside, or perhaps like most people they just aren’t into him as a character (which again wouldn’t be unfair, especially compared to Elias and KO). I don’t mind the result of this one at all, I really like the idea of KO winning in fact but I fear for any Raw guy who wins the case with the Roman-Brock shadow still looming large, and overall on the UK Raw it was fine. Not as good as the one I went to in November but that one was just before Survivor Series so it almost had to be a stacked show. Crowd was dead at times as a result of what was really a nothing show.

Tuesday=

SMACKDOWN: (Tapped edition of the show from the 02 Arena in London)

  • Show began with Renee Young in the ring and she introduced Daniel Bryan who got a massive pop from the London crowd, the crowd loved Bryan so much they chanted loudly over Young as she went to ask him a question. They both pandered to the adoring crowd for a little while before Daniel went on to say how bad it was to lose (last week), he said he was happy to be back but that was no longer enough, and he would go on to signal his intention to become the WWE Champion, which naturally the crowd chanted “YES” to. He was then interrupted by Big Cass (who APPARENTLY got in hot water with Vince backstage after his extended attack on the midget dressed as DBryan last week in which he was only told to boot him in the face and then stop there, to which Cass did not do) ANYWAY… Cass claimed that the reason he tapped out to Bryan at Backlash was so he could get out of the hold and beat Bryan down (which might be the most absurd excuse I have ever heard, and I really zoned out after this. I have been glass half full on Cass so far as I really want him to succeed, but this made me fall off on him massively, get him away from Daniel Bryan ASAP imo…). Basically the segment continued with Cass rambling on as Bryan got more and more angry, until Bryan took exception to Cass mocking the Yes chant and absolutely beat the shit out of him; punches, kicks, kicks specifically aimed at Cass’ previously hurt leg, Daniel Bryan slammed Big Cass’ leg onto a ring post, he chop blocked Cass and then locked in a heel hook, and as the refs and officials attempted to stop the attack Cass began to tap out, and tap, and tap, and TAP as much as I’ve ever seen anyone tap out (this looked like a punishment to me at least, a classic case of being punished on tv for something that was done that could’ve been dealt with privately, clearest and maybe most painful form of punishment I guess in damaging a person’s character on screen). More people came down to break up the submission, and an angry Daniel Bryan looked on as Cass made his way to the back. Bryan then led the crowd in a massive set of Yes chants. Always great to see Daniel Bryan looking strong, it certainly started the show on a good note for the crowd, and as for Big Cass… we shall see in the next few weeks just what the lay of the land is for him right now, I do worry for him rn ngl….
  • Big E and Xavier Woods (with Kofi Kingston at ringside) of the New Day faced Sheamus and Cesaro, with The Miz on guest commentary (for some unexplained reason). I’ve seen this match 1000 times in the past, I cba to see it anymore, so Woods was the one who got the pin on Cesaro after an elbow drop. As a result one of The New Day will now be in the men’s MITB ladder match.
  • A Bludgeon Brothers promo was followed by the sight of Paige backstage (which of course in ENGLAND got a big pop from the crowd). Paige appeared to be on the phone to Carmella, ahead of her own ‘Royal Mellabration’ later, as the Smackdown GM told the Women’s Champion that she couldn’t have a horse-drawn carriage later on, before she was interrupted by Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Mandy was very pleased about being in the MITB match after her win over Becky Lynch last week, before Paige reminded her the match last week wasn’t a qualifier. Paige then did give Rose and Deville a qualifier against Lynch for later in the show, to which they were both pleased at the thought of a handicap match, before Paige clarified for them it was a triple threat match! They were not so pleased.
  • AJ Styles was backstage being interviewed by Renee, AJ (ahead of his match with Nakamura TONIGHT when the winner will pick the stipulation for their match at MITB) joked he might pick a Pole on a Pole match or a Bull Rope Hell in a Cell Inferno match, Young asked AJ if the ref could be dressed as Elvis… but Styles thought that this was too much… Eventually Styles finished saying that Nakamura can’t beat him in the house that he built. Short, simple, but I laughed… so I guess that means it was good.
  • Then we had the Smackdown debut of ANDRADE CIEN ALMAS!!! With Zelina Vega by his side the former NXT Champion quikcly beat a local jobber, before Vega took the mic and said that they were unimpressed by Smackdown Live, and she sent out a warning to the rest of the locker room about ‘EL IDOLO’ and that they were here to takeover. GOD I LOVE THESE TWO SO SO MUCH! They are AWESOME! If Almas was made WWE Champion tomorrow I would not be upset. Great. Can’t wait to see him against some of the potential opponents on Smackdown in the upcoming weeks, fingers crossed WWE main roster creative handle him as well as those in NXT did.
  • Rusev and Aiden English were backstage. English had decorated a room they were in with RUSEV DAY gear, Aiden had a new song for him but was interrupted by Lana before he could sing it, she said English should save his beautiful voice as he won’t be the only one celebrating (she has a MITB qualifier next week against Billie Kay, which is odd as they’ve been teaming on the live shows recently, and I thought Lana was a heel, but who the fuck knows), Lana declared her and Rusev would be the 1st Mr & Mrs Money in the Bank, English said it would happen on “RUSEV DAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY”, everyone was happy (break up on hold in seems, until Lana loses next week I’d presume).
  • Next We had Carmella’s Royal Mellabration. She had a town crier come out and introduce her, there were beef-eaters with one of them holding a pillow with the Smackdown Women’s Championship belt on it, then with the titantron displaying the title of the segment with a Union Jack as the background, and as she was wearing a red jacket, white trousers and high heels Carmella made her way out. Once in the ring, with a red carpet covering the ring floor, a leopard print throw on the ring corner and now the championship was on a leopard print pillow on a stand in the middle of the ring, Carmella then got her promo underway. She demanded the fans ‘bow down to her’ (I saw some in the crowd do it but the majority didn’t), she said the London crowd reminded her of the rest of the Smackdown Live women’s roster because none of them thought she was good enough or deserved it, she reminded them (she actually called the crowd ‘NOT SO GREAT Britain’ which I alughed at) that “Mella is Money” and “Mella is Champion”, and that she was better than each and every one of them and also better than Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, and Ronda Rousey. Paige then came out (crowd gave her a ‘this is your house’ chant which was nice), Paige told Carmella that she would be defending the title at MITB, to which Carmella said she would NOT, but Paige went tell Carmella that she would be defending her title against ‘this woman’ … and then out came ASUKA!!! Asuka came out as the crowd chanted ‘Asuka’s gonna kill you’ as she looked at Carmella as she did that sexy thing she does where she slowly takes off her mask and bites it and puts it towards her lips, as Carmella looked terrified before quickly making her way out the ring, Asuka stood on the ring corner ropes, she posed for the crowd, Carmella was stood on the rampway and held her title up as she trash talked towards Asuka. This segment was great, this match will be great fun, good stuff all round here. Guilty AF I loved this whole segment so much, Carmella as a character is superb, her wrestling isn’t as good yet but if she can get there she’ll be a superb all rounder, her with Asuka will be good fun.
  • Next up we had Renee interviewing Shinsuke Nakamura, when she asked him what he thought his chances were tonight Nakamura replied wondering what she meant by ‘chance’ and ‘possibility’, there was then some confusion as Young seemed to think Nakamura didn’t know what the two words meant, but Shinsuke made clear he did know what they meant, and he said it wasn’t a chance but certainty he would beat Styles, He said he’d give him ‘knee-to-face’ over and over until his nose was smashed, his cheeks broken, chin shattered, and his face was gone. And for good measure he said he’d take his title too. Probably the most heelish promo from Nakamura since his turn, and it was GREAT.
  • Next we had Becky vs Sonya vs Mandy in a triple threat to decide who of them would qualify for the Women’s MITB. Crowd were really behind Lynch as the only face in the match, Mandy and Sonya teamed up for a short time until Rose tried a sneak pin on Deville, Sonya was upset by this from her ‘best friend’ (oh btw you know they have those facts about each person appear on screen when they display their name etc. … one of Sonya Deville’s facts was that she lived with her best friend Mandy Rose… A. she actually moved out recently in order to, I presume, live with her girlfriend, and B. SHE’S IN A MATCH AGAINST HER, SHE’S A FORMER MMA FIGHTER, SHE’S BEEN IN NXT AND THIS WAS ONE OF THE ONLY FACTS YOU HAD ABOUT HER????? DPMO). Becky tried to pin Mandy Rose soon after but Sonya broke it up, then there was an ad break and the 3 had a simple pro wrestling match pretty much, was a bit… erm… off at times in terms of the in-ring stuff but it was ok… For the finish Becky Lynch moved out of the way of a knee from Mandy which hit Sonya Deville instead, and then Becky reversed a roll-up pin attempt from Mandy Rose into her Diss-arm-her submission for the win. Becky qualifies for the women’s MITB in a less than 10 minute match, it wasn’t great but not bad either so it was acceptable. Right result though imo.. why? because… well… Becky Lynch is the most underutilized female in the entire WWE and she deserves every spot she can get in big matches. That’s why!
  • They told us that Samoa Joe will face Big Cass next week in a MITB qualifier, as will Billie Kay vs Lana, and then Joe cut a great selfie promo on Cass and The IIconics did a selfie promo also. Joe’s promo btw saw him say that the only thing big about Cass was ‘his mouth’, he called him a ‘fake tough guy’ and that guys like Big Cass always come up short, and that his ambition demands he beats Cass and wins Money in the Bank. He finished by saying he would put Cass to sleep. Obviously this was really, really good… if Joe doesn’t qualify for MITB and Cass does… I don’t even know what I’ll do… I may just give up on WWE for a while or Smackdown at least… Let’s hope it goes the right way…
  • And finally we had the WWE Champion AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura in a non-title match, where the winner would decide on the stipulation for their next title match at the upcoming Money in the Bank ppv. Christ, this feud frustrates me so much, this being on regular tv annoys the fuck out of me, I never ever thought I;d want a feud between AJ vs Nakamura to end, but I’m over it already I won’t lie. Shinsuke needs to turn his heel nature up to 1000, and AJ needs to start ‘boxing clever’ in terms of character and in the ring. but let’s talk about this match; they gave it around 18 minutes, Styles hit a springboard forearm on to Nakamura on the outside, he then went to fly across the edge of the ring and hit Nakamura but was caught and hit with a knee strike of his own, and then he went for the cover in the ring… but AJ kicked out at ONE (crowd were absolutely on fire during this one, cheering for both men it seemed). After an ad break Nakamura was on top; he got a nearfall and then locked AJ in a Dragon Sleeper submission and then shouted to the referee ‘ASK HIM REF, ASK HIM!’ (I LAUGHED SO HARD AT THIS), AJ would eventually get out of it and hit back with a Pele kick to Nakamura, AJ hit a series of different moves but only got a 2 count at the end of it, Shinsuke then got a nearfall after a spinning heel kick and Samoan driver, and then AJ jumped onto the ropes to prepare for a springboard attack but was knocked down by Nakamura who then hit a jumping knee from the middle rope for another nearfall (this match was already the best AJ vs Nakamura WWE match). Both men then traded going close to hitting their finishing moves, AJ hit a fireman’s carry neckbreaker, Nakamura got another nearfall, Styles then went for a Phenomenal Forearm but had to stop before he almost hit the referee, and with the ref distracted Nakamura pretended that he had been hit with a low blow by AJ, and then with Styles trying to reason and plead his innocence with the referee (this little part of the match was so well done btw) Nakamura hit AJ in the back of the head, then a reverse exploder suplex, and then the KINSHASA… AND THE PIN! SHINSUKE NAKAMURA BEAT AJ STYLES! And best of all it was a great match. Annoyingly it was on free to air tv and not a big ppv, but at least we can be hopeful that the NEXT one will be THE one… although we’ve been teased way too many times with this feud already to have any real expectations of an all time classic that these two are capable of. Be interesting to see what stipulation Nakamura will pick now, lets hope it’s one where you can’t be DQ’d, counted out, and there MUST be a clear winner…. I will give up on Smackdown if we get another screwy finish between AJ and Nakamura!!!

205Live (also tapped from the 02 in London) saw a UK division focused show; Tyler Bate beat Kenny Williams (WHO???), TJP, and Kalisto (SO HAPPY Bate got a big win on WWE TV, lets hope it means something going forward… I doubt it thought) and Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali & Flash Morgan Webster (indie wrestling guy) defeated Drew Gulak, Joseph Conners and James Drake. It was so disappointing a show, I expected more… seems none of this UK stuff for 205Live will mean anything going forward… so I wont be watching going forward (I tried before Mania when they had the tournament to decide who would be in the match to crown the new champion… it was great then and the matches were brilliant but I lost interest soon after). Sigh.

Wednesday=

At a WWE Live event in Geneva, Switzerland Ronda Rousey was due to face Mickie James in a singles match but the match was changed to a 6 person tag with Rousey teaming with Natalya and Ember Moon against James and the pair of Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott. Ronda got the win for her team by making Mickie James tap out to the armbar. So it does seem as if her very first WWE singles match will be the Raw Women’s title match at MITB against Nia Jax. Which is… bold indeed!

Carmella will apparently not be appearing in the next season of WWE show Total Divas. The Smackdown Women’s Champion has been quoted as saying “I am not on this next season,” she said, “Right now, I’m focusing on being the best champion I can be and I don’t know what the future holds”.

WWE has announced the first 8 names that will take part in the second United Kingdom tournament. The matches will take place at the NXT events at Download festival on June 8th-10th with the tournament concluding at the WWE UK Royal Albert Hall Show on June 18th. The winner of the tournament will face Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship the next night. The first 8 names announced for the tournament are 205live regular Jack Gallagher, Joseph Connors (who was in the first edition of the tournament) as well as UK indie stars Zack Gibson, Joe Coffey, Dave Mastiff, Kenny Williams, El Ligero and Amir Jordan. The final 8 competitors in the tournament will be announced on Friday. Great, excting times, fuck itv, lets hope WWE push on further with their UK expansion…

NXT:

  • Tomasso Ciampa came out to Johnny Gargano’s music (GENIUS), crowd were furious. Ciampa cut a promo and said Gargano may have won the battle, but he’d always win the war. He said he’d broken him and now Johnny Wrestling had gone and he has won. That brought out Candice LeRae whom grabbed the mic from Ciampa, she asked who he was and said she thought she knew him but didn’t recognize who he had become, and that she doesn’t know why he has become obsessed with ruining their lives. LeRae went on to say that he is a monster she will never forgive and that he will always know that Johnny Gargano was better than him. Tomasso responded with the line that although he may be better, Gargano was not half the man he was (he in fact called Gargano ‘that boy’). Ciampa went on to say that that was why Gargano sent his ‘cute, precious wife’ to confront him instead of coming himself, and that LeRae has always been more of a man than Gargano. Ciampa then goaded Candice in to dared her ‘mess him up’ and indeed LeRae then slapped him across the face. Ciampa smiled at her and as she walked away, Tomasso was seen to mouth “I WIN”. THIS WAS BRILLIANT! Simple as. Great segment, Ciampa is the best heel in WWE, and his march towards a second half of the year surge to my superstar of the year continues.
  • Lacey Evans came out to new music and then beat a jobber. She won the match with a very hard right hand, which appears to be her finisher now. After she was making her way to the back when Kairi Sane jumped out and attacked her, she threw her into the ring and went to the top rope for her Insane Elbow but Evans rolled out the ring and ran away. Fine. Lacey is fine, Kairi is great, and if the NXT Women’s title scene is between Kai/Cross and the champion atm then this is a decent feud for Kairi at this time.
  • NXT Champion Aleister Black was shown earlier in the day walking around the Full Sail area and spoke about potentially facing Ricochet & Velveteen Dream (either of which would be AWESOME… but… well… just read on to find out…).
  • Dakota Kai was doing one of the classic- NXT impromptu press conference type things outside the arena,same as always (she’s scared of Shayna Baszler if you hadn’t noticed) from her, she went on to say that Nikki Cross was crazy and began to speak about her strength and conditioning programming (I kid you not, one of the ‘reporters’ asked her about what she had been working on at the PC, AND SHE SAID STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, WTF) when the aforementioned Nikki Cross came FLYING in to shot, screaming at the reporters and then in absolutely comedic fashion, then produced her own camera phone and placed it in Dakota Kai’s face and said in her manic style “I’VE GOT A QUESTION” (I was FUCKING HOWLING at this point). She repeatedly asked Kai about when she was going to face Baszler, and then told a terrified Kai to face her fears. This was somehow one of the best segments of the show, Kai still looks like a geek but Nikki Cross was absolutely sensational here. She is just so great, and as long as Kai is just a pawn in this story then I’m all fine with that…
  • Then we had RICOCHET VS VELVETEEN DREAM!!! Crowd was unsurprisingly hot for this one, and the early stages of this match was the story of Dream proving that he could stand toe-to-toe with he ULTRA talented Ricochet, but it came to a halt when they clashed heads in the corner of the ring. But before either man could get to their feet, the behemoth Lars Sullivan came out and absolutely destroyed both men, before signalling his intention to go after the NXT Championship. THIS WAS AWESOME! Great tease to the eventual full Dream vs Ricochet match, and Lars as he should looks like a monster. Wonderful.
  • Kona Reeves beat Raul Mendoza… (I don’t care… NOBODY CARES).
  • Next we had Cathy Kelley backstage attempting to speak to NXT GM William Regal, but then both the Velveteen Dream and Ricochet showed up, with both men saying they were going to ask Mr Regal for a match with Lars Sullivan before they both went in to his office (we later did have the announcement that Lars Sullivan will face both Ricochet and Velveteen Dream in a handicap match next week, which will be great fun… wonder who will win that……………………. haha).
  • Next we were shown another segment filmed earlier in the day, Heavy Machinery talking about MOTHER’S DAY AND TAKING THEIR MUM’S OUT, TM61 then came in and wanted to go for drinks with them, Heavy Machinery didn’t want to drink with cheaters, TM61 joked about Heavy Machinery being fat, and that was the set up for the match. Honestly I couldn’t believe what I was watching here, it was as if WWE tried to make a segment I could despise more than anything I have seen on WWE for a long, long time. FUCK ME THIS WAS FUCKING DREADFUL! WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT. I’m sure I will write at least 2/3 paragraphs on this match next week…………
  • ANYWAY after that pile of shit we had the main event of the show (which shockingly enough was much much MUCH better); Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong of the Undisputed Era. This was great, well… of course it was. Pete Dunne began the match with Roderick Strong but as a result of the Bruserweight’s clear intentions to do some serious damage to the man who turned on him at the last Takeover, Strong made the wise choice to tag out. The heels beat on Danny Burch until Strong began to mock Pete Dunne, and so Burch had Roddy in a waist lock so that Dunne could tag himself in… and then hit THE single best wrestling punch I have ever seen, IT WAS FUCKING AMAZING!!! Dunne then beat on Strong for a time until Cole and O’Reilly made the distraction so that Roddy could regain the advantage. Oney Lorcan then got his time in the match and went on a tear, Danny Burch tagged in and the 2 double teamed on Roderick Strong, Pette Dunne absolute smashed Adam Cole, all 6 men fought one another, Strong threw Oney Lorcan into Dunne which made the two fall the floor leaving Danny Burch on his own against the 3 Undisputed Era members. I assumed this was going to lead to the finish but Burch in fact did well considering it was 1 v 3, (I struggled to keep up with this next bit as so much happened I had to re-watch it 3 times to note it all down, not in a bad way AT ALL, it was just a lot going on and it was GREAT) so then: we had a triple submission involving them all which was awesome, Strong kicked Lorcan out from a single leg boston crab hold, this sent Lorcan flying into a Dunne and Cole (Dunne had Cole in a crucifix hold), and they in turn fell on to Danny Burch who had a crossface on Kyle O’Reilly… phew…. awesome stuff. Then we had the finishing sequence of the match; Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly had some form of miscommunication between them which led to Danny Burch hitting O’Reilly with a wheelbarrow ddt with the help of Lorcan, and then scored the pin! The faces beat the heels! I wont lie to you but I had absolutely no idea before this match what their finisher was (they haven’t won a match in… well… a long time on NXT TV) that I was really surprised when they got the win, but nonetheless a good, good match and I would presume now that Burch and Lorcan will challenge for the tag titles of Strong and O’Reilly at some point in the future.

Thursday=

The Showtime sports tv company in the US have aired an advert for a documentary about NXT and well-renowned sports commentator Mauro Ranallo. It will focus upon his ongoing battle with his bi-polar disorder as well as his incredible skill at his job. Should be great.

The USA Network whom air Raw and Smackdown in the US are reported to be dropping Smackdown Live but keeping Monday night Raw and paying a lot more for that show. Perhaps when it’s aired elsewhere Smackdown may be a little different of a show and also if the TV Network are paying a lot more for Raw then Raw may too look like a different show in some aspects… maybe… I should add the future of Raw on the USA Network is not certain at all with competition expected from FOX when the rights to air the show are up for bidding again.

Shane McMahon has undergone successful surgery on his ongoing hernia. You may recall in the build to Wrestlemania that Shane went down with a number of health related issues (an umbilical hernia during a bout with acute diverticulitis whilst also dealing with an infection as well), but was somehow still fit enough to take part. WWE.com said he was resting at home and feeling well.

Josh.