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.

14/5/2018 – What’s on my mind: Money in the Bank build-up

So I don’t know if you’re aware (they only mentioned it 300000000 times on Raw and Smackdown) but the Money in the Bank ppv is around the corner. There have been a mass amount of both female and male superstars declaring the interest in participating in the matches, and even talk of a possible 3rd ladder match specifically for tag teams, which really would be something else. In the Men’s match confirmed as having qualified so far we have Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, The Miz and Rusev. And for the women Ember Moon and Charlotte Flair have booked their spot in the matches in Chicago on the 17th June. So that leaves 4 more men and 6 more women left to qualify as well as the rest of the card to be decided, a card that will likely include another gimmick match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura and Jinder Mahal against Roman Reigns (oh the joys…). Money in the Bank has over the years been a dramatic evening, which given the prizes on offer is only natural for it to be one of the most important nights of the year for WWE.

Both the men’s and female’s ladder matches have, at this stage, no clear favourite to win. There are a number of different ways each could go, but it will be a lot clearer of whom WWE want to push to the very top as we head into Summerslam season once Money in the Bank 2018 has concluded. The one big beast-size shadow that hangs over WWE at the moment, with a BIG DOG-shaped one not far behind it, has certainly put a bit of a dampener on Monday Night Raw’s world title scene recently, and nothing that has happened on Raw in the past couple of weeks makes me personally think that Roman is turning heel or that he is no longer the main challenger to Brock Lesnar. I guess the dream scenario if the MITB winner is to chase the Universal title is for Brock and Roman to have their re-re-re match at Extreme Rules or Summerslam and then akin to Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31 somebody comes in mid match and cashes in and walks away with the red belt. IDEALLY that’d be Finn Balor but that’s way too much of a dream to be true, but if it were to be the Universal champion that would be cashed in on it would surely be Braun Strowman to come down and give the WWE universe a moment for the ages.

People have also speculated they could go with Miz to win the briefcase, and wait until long-time rival Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship and ruin his moment. Something both Miz and Bryan have experienced before in those roles, and that’d surely set up an eventual rematch at Wrestlemania…??? Or absolutely neither of those might happen, at this stage it really is unknown which way they’ll go. With Corbin failing with his cash in, and Carmella setting the record for holding the briefcase for the longest amount of time before she cashed in, WWE have shown they’re not afraid to do something different with the sought after case. As for the Women’s MITB and how that will play out… hmmm…. really don’t know to be honest… in a dream world if I have my way… I say Ember Moon gets the win, and cashes in on the Smackdown Women’s Champion… not Carmella but by that stage ASUKA (aka the women who beat her at every turn in NXT), so you’d have Charlotte who beat Asuka, Carmella who beat Charlotte, Asuka who beat Carmella, and then Ember Moon beating Asuka who had beat Ember who had been beaten by Asuka who beat Carmella who had beat Charlotte who had beat Asuka… you get all that???

It’s cliche but there are still surely so many twists and turns before we get to the Allstate Arena in 5 weeks time, and that’s the key thing… we still have FIVE weeks to go! It’s a wonder how they will keep the hype going, and ironic that they had a week build to Backlash (which was terrible) and what will be 6 weeks build to Money in the Bank, so hopefully that’ll balance itself out and lead to a great event. An NXT Takeover the night before (which are always spectacular) and the fact they will be coming off the back of what was widely regarded as one of the worst WWE pay per views of all time in their previous outing all means that Money in the Bank 2018 NEEDS to be fantastic… and right now I’m quietly optimistic it will be. All matches are remembered for who won more than how good they were so as long as they get the winners of the ladder matches right, and AJ V Shinsuke has a PROPER finish, they SHOULD be all great and the show will be viewed as a success. And not having Roman Reigns main event the show, and winning a boring and shite match clean, that not happening would help make the show a good one also, so FFS WWE I beg you; MAKE THIS GOOD, DO NOT SCREW THIS UP!!! PLEASE!?!

Josh.

WWE week in review – May 11 2018

Saturday = Sarah Logan and Rowe (of NXT tag team ‘War Raiders’) have announced the date of 21st December 2018 for their upcoming wedding. Lovely stuff.
Sunday = Backlash… The less said about that show the better (see my review blog for further details… it was not a good show).
Monday= Natalya, Nia Jax, Naomi, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch have all filmed an episode for the Carpool Karaoke TV series. 🙂
Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke (who together with Ronda Rousey & Shayna Bazsler for the MMA’s 4 Horsewomen group) have both reported for training at the WWE PC. eeeekkkkkkkk!!!!! The excitement is sooooo real! One step closer to the 4 horsewomen v 4 horsewomen 8 woman tag!!!

RAW:

  • Kurt Angle opens the show to promote the upcoming Money in the Bank ppv. Braun Strowman comes out to promote himself, Kevin Owens follows and does similar, and so Angle makes a match between the two with the winner qualifying for the MITB ladder match). A match that is started immediately, and Braun wins a decent contest. SCENES if Braun wins it!!!
  • An interview with Roman Reigns, followed by cell promos by Bayley and then Breezango talking up the upcoming MITB ladder matches. They are really pushing this ppv hard. Lots of qualfiying matches to come then. with 6 weeks or so still to go. Also the interview with Roman Reigns made it clear that he was firstly aiming to be in the MITB match and made no direct challenege for Brock Lesnar… Perhaps The Beast wont be competing at the ppv after all…
  • Another backstage segment, this time involving Goldust and then Jinder Mahal talking to Kurt Angle. Mahal was whining and complaining again, leading Angle to put him in a match with Chad Gable for later in the show (to give Mahal a chance to prove himself worthy of a MITB ladder match spot).
  • Baron Corbin and The Revival beat No Way Jose and Titus Worldwide. So much for Corbin being given a main event push then after his arrival to Raw…
  • Ember Moon beat Ruby Riott and Sasha Banks in a triple threat match to qualify for the Women’s Money in the Bank match. Decent match this, right result too. Ember I feel after her NXT run can be a big star, and they’ve given her a few good wins since she came to Raw. Maybe an outsider to win the whole thing…
  • Bobby Lashley promotional video. They really went in trying to talk up Lashley, and also went into his background and some of his personal life to. It was a real clear attempt to try and get Bobby over big time.
  • Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn backstage segment. Zayn moaned about a conspiracy against them, Owens was upset Sami slapped him at Backlash, Sami apologized and said they need to focus on tonight. Owens seemed reluctant to offer his word that he’d help Zayn win the main event tonight.
  • Jinder beat Gable. Nothing match tbh.
  • Alexa Bliss and the The Ascension with cell promos about MITB. Apparently there’s a Money in the Bank event soon……………….
  • Zack Ryder wanted to be in the MITB match, Kurt Angle was there and Jinder came over a moaned again, demanding tonight’s main event qualifier be made a 4 way with him involved. Kurt though shunned him away and said “woo, woo, woo”.
  • Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler beat Rhyno & Heath Slater. Pretty much a squash, as it should be. Drew got the pin after their ZigZag/Claymore combo-double team move, which looks pretty cool.
  • An Elias segment where he tried to sing another song was interrupted by Bobby Roode. The two then had a rematch from last week which Roode win. He also did an interview afterwards saying he hoped the win had put him in contention for a MITB shot. During the match they teased the spot from last week where Elias rammed Roode’s throat into the steel bit that holds the turnbuckle together. Roode was able to escape from it this time, but later in the match Bobby tried to They lift Elias across his shoulders, but Elias just collapsed instead which looked really off. Rood then quickly won with the Glorious ddt so it made the botch stand out even more. This was not a wrestling classic.
  • Seth Rollins came out to a huge ovation. He admitted Miz took him to the limit last night, but he was happy to ‘stomp’ on his chance to set the IC title record, and that he wanted to learn from Miz what kind of champion NOT to be. He said he knows a thing or two about MITB but his focus now was on making the Intercontinental Championship THE Championship on Raw (shots fired…. Mr Lesnar…). He then issued an open challenge which was answered by… DEAN AM… SORRY… NO… it was Mojo Rawley. Seth beat Mojo to retain in about as good a match as one could have with Mojo Rawley.
  • Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas did a promo whwere they wanted their new tag tema name to be the ‘Leading Men’ as they were no longer supporting actors to The Miz… They then were quickly beaten by the Raw Tag Team Champions ‘The Deletor of Worlds’. WONDERFUL! Now… can we get a title feud for Matt and Bray now please???
  • Natalya and Baron Corbin both did separate promos on the MITB match.
  • The main event of the show saw Roman Reigns vs Sami Zayn vs Finn Balor in a triple threat match, with the winner qualifying for the Men’s MITB ladder match. Balor and Sami eventually teamed up on Reigns, to which the crowd obviously cheered… a lot!!! All 3 men hit finishers and big moves on one another, until finally Zayn set up a Helluva Kick but Roman hit back with a Superman Punch. Reigns then prepared for the Spear but was yanked out the ring by Jinder Mahal. Amid the distraction Sami hit the Helluva kick but was immediately hit by a Sling Blade and then the woo dropkick and finally a Coupe de Grace and FINN BALOR got the win!!! Really fun match to end a fun episode of Raw. Delighted Finn will be in the MITB match, he’ll do some great spots I’m sure. And it seems Jinder vs Roman as the placeholder until Lesnar is back then… oh the joy…

In an extraordinary turn of events, immediately after Raw, an episode of ‘Table for 3’ was broadcast on the WWE Network featuring Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles discussing a number of different topics including their previous past encounters with one another. During which Shane referred to a match between Angle and Styles that had took place in TNA… and as they talked FOOTAGE FROM THE MATCH WAS SHOWN!!! TNA IMPACT FOOTAGE WAS SHOWN ON THE WWE NETWORK!!! And just as shocking was the announcement on screen after the show had ended which read: “To Watch All AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle IMPACT Wrestling Matches In Their Entirety, Download The Global Wrestling Network App… Avaliable On All Your Favorite Streaming Devices!” … WOW! I Was absolutely stunned when I watched this, and them so openly talking about TNA Impact was astounding to me. Maybe a one off? Maybe it’ll be more ongoing? Who on earth knows!?

Tuesday=

Brock Lesnar will apparently NOT be at the Money in the Bank ppv. It also means he will break the previous record (held by a certain CM Punk) to become the longest reigning world champion of modern times (surpassing the 434 day record currently held by Punk). A shame that once again the WORLD CHAMPION wont be at a huge show but such is life in WWE rn. SURELY This will only last until Summerslam at the latest??? SURELY???

DURING NEXT WEEK’S SMACKDOWN LIVE EPISODE FROM THE 02 ARENA IN LONDON, ANDRADE CIEN ALMAS AND HIS BUSINESS ASSOCIATE ZELINA VEGA WILL FINALLY MAKE THEIR DEBUT APPEARANCES ON THE BLUE BRAND! YES YES YES YES!!!

Smackdown:

  • A fairly nothing promo from Paige was followed by Miz beating Jeff Hardy to qualify for MITB. Match was just there to be honest, went TWENTY MINUTES and needed to go about 10. Odd result too…
  • Sheamus and Cesaro did a backstage segment with The New Day that was full of silly stuff as usual. Kind of over these two teams at this stage, seen soooooooo much of them both past year or so and little they do now is different to a year and more ago.
  • There was another promo video for SANITY. JUST GET THEM ON THE SHOW ALREADY!!!
  • Renee Young was outside a locker room with Shinsuke Nakamura, Renee said he wasn’t cleared to compete tonight and she asked if things with him and AJ Styles were done? He responded, once again, with ‘No… speak English’. Renee said we know he can speak English (FINALLY, KAYFABE, SOMEONE HAS CALLED HIM OUT ON THIS… AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) but Nakamura claimed to have ‘forgotten’. Young demanded an answer so Shinsuke replied by saying Styles was ‘NUTS’ (this got a lot of laughs from the crowd and to watch myself I found it hilarious).
  • Carmella cut a promo, and said she wanted a party next week when Smackdown is in the UK to celebrate her win over Charlotte. I’d be surprised if this is much different to recent stuff but I’m sure Carmella can pull it off.
  • Tye Dillinger and Naomi cut separate promos about MITB. SPOILER ALERT; neither are going to win.
  • Charlotte beat Peyton Royce to qualify for the MITB Ladder match. Basic match but it was ok, seemed to me that Charlotte dragged Peyton with one or two minor things, to an ok match. And Flair needed a clean win after THAT match on Sunday.
  • Daniel Bryan was interviewed backstage (without really saying much too different to recent stuff), Shelton Benjamin and Asuka promos on MITB (apparently the Money in the Bank ppv is soon… WHO WOULD KNOW????) , Cesaro beat Xavier Woods, Renee interviewed AJ Styles, Bludgeon Brothers did a promo, Mandy Rose beat Becky Lynch after Paige had told Sonya Deville was banned from ringside (it obviously didn’t matter… so that whole thing was rendered pointless), and it was then reveled that next week on Smackdown (from the UK) New Day will face The Bar with the winning team getting 1 member qualifying for the MITB ladder match, they mentioned the Carmella celebration and Almas and Vega’s debut! I don’t know what happened here, it seemed to me as if they tried to squeeze soooooooo much stuff into this second hour or so of the show. I don’t know if maybe Miz and Jeff Hardy went too long but there was a lot going on here, without anything happening… if that makes sense…
  • The main event of the show did indeed have a thing going on… as Rusev faced Daniel Bryan in a MITB qualifier. Aiden English sang a song before the match, burying the place the show was in and their sports teams. The crowd really were inot both men as the match got underway, and after some exchanges of offense, Daniel Bryan attempted a suicide dive to Rusev on the outside but instead he was caught and thrown into the announce table. Later on Daniel Bryan made a comeback with a running clothesline, he did his dropkicks to Rusev in the corner, and he followed it later on with a Hurricanrana from the top rope. Bryan hit the Bulgarian Brute with the Yes Kicks but Rusev ducked under the final one, and went on to attempt a big slam but Bryan countered with a nearfall. Rusev then got a nearfall of his own after a kick, and went for his Accolade submission but after having his arm hurt by Bryan earlier in the match he found it difficult to apply, and as a result Bryan countered into the Yes Lock but Rusev got to the ropes, and Bryan then set up for a finish but Aiden English pulled Rusev out of the ring, Bryan attacked them both on the outside and later hit a missile dropkick back in the ring on Rusev. And then Rusev countered the running knee with a knee to the stomach, Machka kick, 123. RUSEV WINS! RUSEV QUALIFIES FOR MITB! Good good match (no surprise between two of the most over guys in the company right now). Crowd seemed absolutely astounded by the finish, and the commentators tried to suggest that Bryan had lost as a result of the punishment he had taken in recent weeks. Interesting to me was the very end of the show; after Rusev’s music stopped playing, they showed Daniel Bryan slowly sitting back up with a look of despair. The crowd chanted for him as the show went off the air. Now… to ME this will lead to either Daniel being so close to winning MITB, and then Miz costing him, OR Bryan winning the title at Summerslam and The Miz attacking him and Bryan getting cashed in on. A lot of ifs, buts and maybes here and maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but MAYBE???? Fingers crossed.

205Live: Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik defeated Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher, Tony Nese (appearing to be a heel again) beat a jobber, it was revealed 205live and the WWE UK division will do a crossover episode next week as they did the last time WWE was in the UK (might have to actually watch the show next week then), and finally Buddy Murphy defeated Mustafa Ali in what was a great match (this one I did see).

Wednesday=

Chris Jericho revealed on his podcast with guest Daniel Bryan this week that HE was the WWE’s back up for Shane McMahon were Shane not able to make Wrestlemania. Shane suffered from a number of medical issues not long before his Wrestlemania tag team match with Daniel Bryan against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. IMAGINE IF THIS HAD OF HAPPENED OMFG!!!

Charlotte Flair will soon need surgery to repair a ruptured Breast Implant. Although she is still expected to be on WWE’s tour of Europe next week.

Xavier Woods suffered a minor injury last night on Smackdown. During his match with Cesaro he took a strong uppercut which caused an injury to his tongue. Some even said he has now a small hole in it. OUCH. 

NXT:

  • Ricochet came out to open the show (featuring a FRESH red suit-like jacket and some tidy brown shoes with no socks… more on that later). He cut a promo saying he wanted to make sure everyone remembered him, no matter where he had been around the world. He said each and every time he steps into the ring he proves there is only one and only Ricochet. He went on to say that there is one and only thing on his mind… and then someone in the crowd said “SOCKS” and Ricochet quickly came back with “no. not socks” to which me and everyone who was in the audience at Full Sail too laughed a lot (this is clearly someone who has been heckled by tough indie crowds before so this will have been water of a duck’s back to him)… anyway Ricochet was of course referring to his desire to go after the NXT Championship. After this the Velveteen Dream came out, he questioned who gave him the authority to make a challenge for the NXT title, and went on to say although Ricochet makes this look good but there is one man and one experience and that is Velveteen Dream. He would continue by saying that ‘no matter how many flips or flops (crowd ooed) you do, you better make sure to land in the back of the line, behind The Dream’. Ricochet mocked the idea of Velveteen Dream deserving a title shot, and said he knows who he is but that his biggest success was getting Aleister Black to say his name, but that he may not remember that because Black had just knocked him out. Dream said anything Ricochet does he can do better, to which Ricochet challenged him to do it… Dream slowly took off his necklace and other jewelry and went to attack Ricochet but stopped as Ricochet clenched his fist. Dream then got down to the ground and did his spider-like, provocative pose and made his way out of the ring. Ricochet’s music played. THIS. WAS. AMAZING. I absolutely cannot wait for this match!!! I was so happy at the time and spot they gave these two to perform, they just went out and bounced off one another and it was awesome. Terrific start to the show. 

 

  • EC3 beat Raul Mendoza in a decent match for how short it was, but it was pretty much a squash. Cathy Kelley interviewed EC3 on the entrance rampway afterwards and he said he has ‘the mind of a genius and the body of a deity’ and that the only thing you’ll see from him going forward is victory after victory until NXT is re-branded as ‘NX3’. Fine character work from EC3 once again. He’s a star. And in WWE he’s only just started. 

 

  • We were shown footage from last week that saw Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch confront Pete Dunne. They both said they didn’t like Dunne and called him “a piece of garbage” but said they both had issues with the Undisputed Era and asked for Dunne to be their partner against them, to which Dunne agreed. Great stuff, kind of nice to they kept it real in the sense that Burch and Lorcan both don’t like Dunne (he’s really heelish as a character don’t forget despite being positioned as a face nowadays) but they are willing to put that aside to fight their mutual foe in the Undisputed Era. Should make for some great matches between the two teams. 

 

  • Dakota Kai (who the crowd really popped for when she came out) came out followed by her opponent Vanessa Borne (who’s theme music is great and tbh she’s hot as HELL). This was a fine match but the crowd didn’t seem to care too much. Kai looked very sound in the ring and Borne played her part too. To win the match Dakota Kai used a form of  flip-backstabber type move (not sure what it’s called but it looked really good) and then got the pin. Kai needed to win after Borne buried her last week, so right result here. Then afterwards as Kai was celebrating her big fear, as NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler came out. Dakota seemed frozen in fear (this really doesn’t make me sympathize with Kai, it just makes me think she’s stupid… but that’s just me) and as Shayna made her way into the ring she cornered Kai in a corner. As she looked to attack Dakota she turned around and locked in her Kirifuda Clutch submission on Vanessa Borne instead, as Kai ran away scared. Seems Vanessa Borne is right after all, Dakota Kai is a “scaredy cat”. I want to like Dakota I really do, but this aint making me want to side with her. Shayna was great as always, but this will only make sense to me if Kai ends up toppling Shayna (spoiler alert… she wont). Backstage just after Cathy Kelley was smiling at the camera, waiting to interview Dakota, but Kai came into shot and Kelley asked her why Baszler was so good at playing mind games with her, then Baszler appeared and dared Dakota to kick her, which obviously she didn’t do, to which Shayna mocked her and walked away. THEN laughing at what had happened, lurching in the background, was NIKKI CROSS!!! (IT’S HAPPENING, IT’S HAPPENING…. SO IT IS TRUE… SHE DIDN’T FOLLOW SANITY TO SMACKDOWN BECAUSE SHE’S INDEED GOING AFTER THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE!!! PRAISE THE LORD)! 

 

  • War Raiders beat Heavy Machinery. I love War Raiders. I hate Heavy Machinery. End of. 

 

  • Street Profits were shown in a pre-filmed promo package of them training on a basketball court. It was fine, but it was just fine. 

 

  • Then in the main event of the show we had Tomasso Ciampa taking on Kassius Ohno. Ohno of course was upset that Ciampa attacked Garbo in the way he did last week, hence this match was made. Bare in mind this was only Ciampa’s second match in a little under a year. He came out once again to no music, just the boos from the crowd, but looked a million and one dollars. Ohno came out looking really fired up. I thought this would be good, it was in fact EXCELLENT. Kassius Ohno started the match with a hard-hitting beatdown on Ciampa, but came back with a huge running knee before proceeding to stomp violently on the back of Ohno’s head. Ciampa was roaring like an absolute madman (he’s a real life monster heel and he’s AWESOME) and put Ohno in a side headlock, Ohno responded with fist and elbow strikes that looked absolutely brutal, then it appeared as if Ohno elbowed Ciampa in the eye and then Ohno followed up with a knee drop to the eye after he had pulled down his knee brace so it was the bare knee that hit Ciampa. He was sporting a black eye before the match (this was filmed at the tapings a few days after Takeover hence he was still hurt from that) so this just made it look worse. He then hit Ciampa with a headlock, with Ciampa’s legs were wrapped around him, and then hit him with a form of drop. Ciampa then distracted the referee whilst he returned the favour and targeted Ohno’s eyes by digging his fingers into his eye area, and finally Ohno tried to comeback but Ciampa hit him with a running knee to the back of the head, but only got a 2 count for this. Before he finally hit a form of flipping neckbreaker (which looked tremendous) to pick up the win. This match was OUTSTANDING. In any other year in the history of NXT other than 2018 (where we have had THREE of the best matches in WWE history and we are only in mid-May) this would be the NXT match of the year (or at worst a contender) for sure. After the match had ended Ciampa removed his own knee brace and then wrenched Ohno’s head back (as Johnny Gargano did to him for the finish of their match at Takeover: NOLA) Ciampa then screamed that he ‘broke Gargano’s body, I broke Candice’s heart’ and now the Gargano fairytale was over, before he made his way back up the rampway. This just added to the excellence on display from Ciampa (aka the very best heel in WWE right now). 

Thursday=

It was announced via a video that was released by 205live GM Drake Maverick, Buddy Murphy will finally challenge Cedric Alexander for the Cruserweight Championship on the May 29th episode of the show. Murphy is being pushed hard recently and the show is pretty much centered around him some weeks, so I’d presume the heel Murphy will take the belt at some point. If not in a couple of weeks then not long after surely. 

Friday =

TONI STORM (former Mae Young Classic competitor and the current Women’s champion of UK promotion Progress, whom have a working relationship with WWE) is apparently being advertised for the WWE’s upcoming UK Championship special shows at the Royal Albert Hall in June. OMFG PLEASE let this be?! Toni is one of the best female wrestling performers in the world and was awesome in getting to the semi-finals of the MYC, only losing out to eventual winner Kairi Sane. And she’s 22 YEARS OLD! SHE’S THIS GOOD AT 22?! She reportedly turned down a WWE offer after the MYC to continue plying her trade on the independent wrestling scene, and she’s got plenty of time to get to the WWE, but fgs they need to get her signed up ASAP because her potential is absurdly high. 

 

And so ends another 7 days of WWE. Been a rocky one, we had the worst ppv in modern history on Sunday, a decent Raw on Monday, and average Smackdown and a tremendous NXT followed. And of course we had Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke sign up at the Performance Centre. Another newsworthy week as the start of the build for Money in the Bank (I don’t know if they mentioned it enough on tv this week) got underway. Here’s to next week, which will be much better by default that it wont have the worst ppv in modern history taking place… THANK FUCK (I’m STILL and NEVER will be over how fucking TERRIBLE that show was). 

Josh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWE week in review – May 4 2018

Saturday: Saudi General Sports Authority apologizes after WWE aired an advert during the GRR that included female superstars. The advert (which featured both male and female superstars lip-syncing a pop song) was promoting that WWE will now have all their PPVs dual-branded. Part of the statement (via a ‘rough’ translation) read:

The General Sport Authority would like to apologize to the viewers and attendees of last night’s WWE event that took place in Jeddah, over the indecent scene involving women that appeared as an ad before a segment. It would like to confirm it’s total disapproval of this, in the shadow of its commitment to eliminate anything that goes against the communities values.

The authority has made sure to ban showing of any segment that involves women wrestling or any scenes related to it, and stipulated that to the company (WWE). The authority also disapproved any promotional stuff with pictures or videos showing women in an indecent way, and emphasized on commitment of this rule. And it’s a commitment that the authority would still commit to forever in all of it’s events and programs.
I’m absolutely cannot be arsed with this sort of bullshit from this whole event and everything associated with it anymore! Where do I even begin?!?!
WWE stated (in response to why Sami Zayn was absent from the event, Sami being of Syrian-Muslim heritage so bare that in mind, and speculation around that) “WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world.” I just… I can’t….

Sunday: Drew McIntyre was absent from the event also. Apparently this was due to him not having a work-visa in time, as he has only recently of course joined the Raw roster. It was talked about that when Drew was injured in November as he lost the NXT title that he was SUPPOSED to come to the main roster back then. However he was speaking about a possible rematch with Andrade Almas and also about Alestier Black and the NXT Championship as recently as 2 days before he appeared on Raw, so maybe it was a late decision to bring him to main after all?
The film about Paige that was due for release in September has been pushed back to may 2019. Reportedly this is due to not wanting to clash with a number of big releases that were set for the same weekend. If this was the real reason then why not just put it back a couple of weeks, why EIGHT MONTHS??? Something funny going on here in my opinion…

Batista recently did an interview were he discussed a few things WWE related. And despite his very successful Hollywood acting career he still appears to want one final run in a WWE ring, as he said the following: “This is all insider stuff, and I usually don’t share. I’m really an old-school kayfabe guy… But they reached out to me earlier this year to possibly come back and do that thing with Ronda. And I said that I would be willing to do it only if we teased something for me and Hunter to go to Mania next year. And they said: ‘Yeah, that would be great. I love that idea.’ And I said: ‘Well, that’s great. I’ll come back a few times during the year, and we’ll tease it, and we’ll work it and we’ll milk it. And we’ll go to Mania, me and Hunter, next year.’ Oh, I love that idea. Let’s do it!’ So, we literally talked for about like three weeks and then they just stopped calling me… I sent a text to Hunter. I was like: ‘Hey man, I don’t know if you put any more thought into what’s going on. I’m really excited about the possibilities.’ And I literally never heard back from them. … they just don’t make it easy… They just stopped talking to me about it. Man, I don’t know what else I can do to try to… I want to end my career the right way. I’m faithful and loyal to the WWE. I’m proud of being from there and I want to do good business with them, but they just don’t make it easy. You know, they just don’t.” So some pretty revealing stuff from Big Dave there; the idea of him and Ronda teaming as a first bit of build towards Batista vs Triple H would’ve been cool, but I feel it worked out pretty well for the story in the end. Although Batista vs HHH to give Batista his final WWE send off (and also maybe a hall of fame induction the night before) would be a nice way to send him properly to Hollywood. Fingers crossed him and WWE get talking again and they can set up the match he wants for Mania next year.

Finn Balor has responded to people noticing he did not where his recent LGBTQ promotional in-ring gear during the GRR (that was in a country that has some in-different laws and opinions of LGBTQ Communities). He tweeted:

My Rainbow Gear was a statement at Wrestlemania Weeekend
Although the gear has not been worn since in 6 appearances(Hartford CT, Cape Town x2,Pretoria, Johannesburg ,St.Louise
Saudi Arabia)
My support continues despite any color choice, change or laundry schedule.
Factually this is probably true. But do I buy it for the reasoning he is saying? Not one bit. So lets leave it at that.

An Instagram post from Corey Graves did not go unnoticed too… along with an image of an alcoholic beverage his post read:

A drink to remember that no matter how bad WE think we have it, at least our women have rights and we all have freedom of expression. 🇺🇸 #ifyougetityougetit
PREACH COREY, FUCKING PREACH!!! And as much as someone may mention it privately, I can’t see anyone at WWE reacting or punishing him in anyway for this post, because really can they argue with anything he says here? No they cannot!

Monday: The English wrestler known on WWE TV as Danny Burch has now signed with WWE NXT full time. I’m not sure if this is full-time, as in he ONLY does WWE, or a deal like the one Pete Dunne and the other UK wrestlers have where they can still do some indie dates but WWE is their priority. Either way it’s great news for him as he’s a good wrestler and… well…. he’s English!

Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer Radio the following; the Saudi Prince apparently asked Vince McMahon to book a number of acts on the Greatest Royal Rumble show, among them: The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna as well as “the guy with the crown” (Jerry Lawler) and “the guy in the black hat” (Jim Ross). The inability to book Yokozuna for the show as apparently the main reasoning by booking relatively unknown (to the wider audiences at least) Sumo wrestler Hiroki Sumi. Just an fyi; Ultimate Warior died in 2014, Yokozuna died in 2000. The Saudi prince wanted these 2 on the show… and with that I’m officially done writing about anything GRR related ever again!!!

The American TV network Showtime have announced they are making a documentary about Mauro Ranallo. The NXT commentator has also done Boxing commentary for them and does MMA commentary for the Bellator promotion. Mauro has openly spoken about his ongoing mental health issues so I imagine we will hear much more about that along with his incredible line of work in sports and sports entertainment commentary.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has announced via his Instagram that John Cena is teaming up with his Seven Bucks Productions film company for an upcoming film role. Cena will play the starring role in “The Janson Directive”. The film has been described as: “Former Navy SEAL and prisoner of war, Paul Janson, works as a corporate security consultant, but when an assignment to rescue a VIP goes wrong, he’s forced to go on the run.” Good for Cena. His WWE career ending draws ever closer…

Monday – RAW:

  • Roman Reigns came out. A tweet was shown by the ref of his GRR match, in which the ref admitted Reigns should have won because both his feet hit the floor first when he speared Brock Lesnar through the cage. Reigns said he’s the real Universal Champion. etc. etc. (he was booed A LOT). Roman, please stop…
  • Samoa Joe appeared on the titantron and reminded us all that he told Roman that he would lose to Lesnar and he did. This Sunday, Joe said he would put Reigns spiraling career to sleep. Jinder Mahal Came out and said he (unlike Reigns) had a legitimate excuse for losing at GRR. Joe great as always. Jinder… less so.
  • Sami Zayn came out to a GIANT reaction (Raw was in Montreal so no surprise the Canadian, heel or not, got a massive pop). Zayn spoke first in French. and then eventually challenged Reigns, until Kevin Owens showed up to an even bigger pop than fellow-Canadian Zayn had just received. Owens too spoke in French and would go on to say he knows Zayn can beat Reigns, but tonight what people want to see is Owens vs. Reigns. KO suggested tossing a coin to decide who would face Roman, but he didn’t have any coins. Instead he decided to use the response of the crowd to decide, and as expected Jinder booed, Zayn cheered, Owens they went absolutely wild! Reigns hit Owens, but Zayn, Jinder and KO all attacked Roman until Bobby Lashley and then Braun Strowman came down to make the save. A 6 man tag was set up for later in the show. Again this was fine, but I still get the feeling Reigns is the top guy and not Braun, which worries me slightly.
  • Elias in the ring. He said he’s reaching a ‘new level of fame’, he sang a song (about Montreal and also Bobby Roode to, another Canadian) before Roode came out. The following match between the two had a weird ending; Elias eventually rammed Bobby Roode’s throat into the metal that holds the turnbuckle against the turnpost, Roode collapsed as if he couldn’t breathe, and a load of refs and officials came down to treat him. The bell didn’t actually ring but there was only one winner here. Again it’s a Canadian getting beat up in Canada, but it’s a much darker side of Elias that hasn’t been all to prevalent before, so if this is explored then it could be good fun. I do have to point out by the way that they SERIOUSLY fucked up this spot, Because the replay showed Roode’s throat was nowhere near the metal turnbuckle…
  • AOP beat a couple of French-Canadian jobbers (ffs) and they cut a promo after basically warning the rest of the Raw tag team division.
  • Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins came out (another guy very popular with what was turning out to be a stupendous Montreal audience). He began to talk about what kind of champion he hoped to be before Finn Balor came out. He then said that between the two of them they had 2 wins each in matches and challenged Rollins for the Intercontinental title tonight! Rollins accepted. I’ll happily see these two feud forever so fine with me.
  • Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel came out and proposed to Balor and Rollins that they form a modern day 4 horseman group (Dallas and Axel were each wearing shirts with Finn and Seth’s faces on which was kinda funny). After the faces both declined they brawled, Dallas and Axel were sent packing before Balor jumped Rollins! He finally told him to always keep his eye on him. I love Finn when he has an edge to him, it’s how Rollins should be too, so more of the same please.
  • Sasha Banks did a backstage interview with Charley Caruso. She said that Bayley wouldn’t be in her corner for her match tonight against Ruby Riott because she hadn’t returned her phone calls or texts. I’m so sad to say it, but I’m not assed anymore about this feud…. BECAUSE NOTHING IS HAPPENING!!! Most underwhelming and disappointing “feud” for a long long time!
  • Ruby then beat Sasha with help from her Riott Sqaud pals Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. I guess it’s good for Ruby that she has a win against a top female star on Raw, but with regards to Bayley-Sasha I’m really beginning to lose interest at an alarming rate.
  • We then had another ‘Public Service Announcement’ from Alexa Bliss. Much like last week’s this was EXCELLENT! Bliss recalled a story of how she was visiting DisneyWorld Nia Jax, but Jax spent the entire day making fun of Bliss’ height and asking park employees if Bliss was tall enough for the adult rides and when they had lunch Jax insisted Bliss receive the kids menu. She also said that Nia, whilst saying all this, Bliss claimed Jax had a Turkey leg in each hand as she laughed at her. She vowed to win at Backlash & not to let the bully win. I absolutely hate this fat-shaming storyline (why you couldn’t use another angle I don’t know) but this was absolute GOLD. Bliss on fire the past two weeks with these!
  • Titus did an interview with Renee Young about his Rumble fall. They really played up the moment until Baron Corbin walked in and said Young should have asked him why did O’Neil fall in the first place? He then laughed at O’Neil, who said to Renee she shouldn’t worry about it.
  • Matt and Bray did a typically WOKEN promo. If you like this gimmick it was great. I like this gimmick.
  • Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley BEAT Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal (IN CANADA? OF COURSE THEY DID, THIS IS WWE WHERE THE HOME FAVOURITE NEVER WINS… FFS). This match was absolutely fine, and as good as you’d think with some of the talent involved, but the crowd reacted to Owens and Zayn (and Jinder too is actually Canadian irl) like huge babyfaces so that ruined some of the big moments of this match. Anywhere in the US it would’ve been great, but Braun getting boos was just odd. Not that I blame the crowd at all, they’re going to cheer their guys of course. So maybe some foresight here from WWE would’ve served a better purpose for the sake of this show? And after having one of the most intense rivalries of last year, just seeing Roman and Strowman tagging together was odd, as was Braun getting booed when his team won. Good match though I should repeat that.
  • No Way Jose beat Baron Corbin very quickly after a distraction from Titus Worldwide (who really went OOT playing back to Titus’ fall). I told people Vince liked Corbin and he was getting a big push, he just lost to No Way Jose and seems to be feuding with TITUS WOLRDWIDE FFS. I look great now…………
  • Natalya (who didn’t get as much of a reaction as her fellow Canadians had) with Ronda Rousey in her corner beat Mickie James (with Alexa Bliss in her corner). Again another quick match that the finish was almost missed by the TV cameras, as the camera was focused on Rousey when Natalya hit the small package pin on James for the win (GOOD ONE). After the match Nia Jax ran out and chased away Alexa Bliss, and then raised both Natalya and Rousey’s arms up. Hmm.. on Ronda, she is BEGINNING to feel like just another woman rather than the star she is… doesn’t need to be here every week for me…
  • Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler did a phone promo. If these two don’t feud with Bray and Matt for the tag titles soon I wont be happy. Not that I want Matt and Bray to not be champions, but Drew is awesome as a hell in this role, and he’s making Ziggler relevant again. Great stuff.
  • In the main event Seth Rollins beat Finn Balor to retain the Intercontinental Championship. I don’t need to tell you this was an awesome match do I? You know it was already right? Wont go in to details but yes, it was excellent.

Tuesday: Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn has now been added to the card for Backlash.

A possible match for Summerslam has been suggetsed by a number of sources; Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax v Ronda Rousey. YES YES YES YES YES! This is EXACTLY the match I want; Nia is an unbeatable champion between now and then, Ronda beats everyone on the way, and the two could have an absolutely brilliant match if the chemistry is good, might be where either Ronda or Nia have to turn heel. I’d presume Rousey as Nia just turned face, although I imagine the Summerslam crowd will favour Ronda. We shall see… lets hope this one happens!

SMACKDOWN:

  • Smackdown Live General Manager Paige was shown backstage and, after watching it back on a monitor, she announced that following his slam from Strowman through the announce table last Friday Shane McMahon wasn’t here tonight. She then said that the WWE title match at Backlash was now NO DQ! EXCELLENT news, question is now; which one does the low blow on Sunday?
  • Miz TV; Miz cut a promo on Rollins and Bryan, after responding to the crowd’s (they were in Montreal) chants for Maryse, he said he took her to Hollywood. He then introduced Jeff Hardy, they had a back and forth on the mic, Randy Orton came out and he went at it verbally with both Miz and Hardy, Shelton Benajamin came out and eventually the 4 brawled. This was just… there… wasn’t a memorable segment at all. My personal highlight was when Miz reminded Randy Orton that he was previously listed as number nine on the now seemingly defunct Smackdown Top 10 list. Orton joked that he didn’t care and neither did anyone else! THANK YOU RANDY, THANK YOU FOR SAYING WHAT WE ALL THOUGHT, GOD THAT TOP 10 LIST WAS SCH A BAD AND POINTLESS IDEA!!! Orton saying this made me laugh a great deal, PREACH RANDY PREACH!
  • Jeff and Orton then beat Miz and Benjamin in a tag match that started during an ad break. Crowd were really into this, and got behind Hardy a lot. Finish came when Orton hit his signature ddt on both Shelton Benjamin & The Miz, he then gave Shelton an RKO and Jeff gave Miz a Swanton to give his team the victory. Orton then hit the US Champion with an RKO after the match had finished. Fine match, shame Miz had to lose before his match with Seth Rollins on Sunday but Jeff has been booked super strong recently so nice to see him get another win.
  • Renee Young was supposed to do an interview backstage with The IIconics and Carmella but Carmella wasn’t there. When Renee asked where Carmella was Peyton Royce did an impression of Renee’s accent (YEP…. you guessed it, she’s Canadian of course), Young said it sounded more like someone from Minnesota, The IIconics bragged about their win over Asuka last week, Young reminded them that they didn’t beat Asuka (Beck was the one pinned), The IIconics then moved her out the way and told her to “chase a moose” (lovely bit of casual racism there…). They then brought into shot Carmella, who was confident she’d beat Charlotte at Backlash and that the three of them would also win tonight, before she moonwalked out of shot.
  • The commentators discussed Daniel Bryan’s performance on Friday, and revealed he did show up for Smackdown but was told by the staff that they wouldn’t allow him to compete for fear of further damage to his wounded chest. They also showed Bryan’s post-match interview from Friday.
  • Sheamus and Cesaro were in a backstage segment with The New Day. Usual stuff fro these two teams, eventual ending saw Sheamus request a match with Xavier Woods, which was set up for later in the show.
  • Really interesting segment next; Rusev and Aiden English were shown walking backstage. They were then approached by Lana (Rusev’s wife of course) who was wearing a ‘Happy Rusev Day’ shirt (the crowd went absolute nuts for this). Lana comforted her Husband saying although he came close to beating Undertaker there was something holding him back. Rusev disagreed, because he has a day in his honour. Then Aiden English came back into shot and grabbed his coat before leaving. I THINK the implication here was that Lana thinks it is Aiden English that is holding Rusev back, so I think we will get a tussle between the two for Rusev’s ‘affection’ going forward, which could be good fun. For Lana more than anyone she needs this story, and she needs to be with Rusev because on her own… yeah…. not so good… but if this ends with Rusev shunning his wife it means he’s staying heel, and if he shuns English MAYBE we finally get his face turn. We shall see, should be good…
  • Big Cass came out and cut a promo running down Daniel Bryan, Bryan’s music hit but a small midget dressed as Daniel Bryan came out instead, Cass made a load of short jokes, Cass beat him up, crowd called him an asshole… This was what it was… it was a midget dressed as Daniel Bryan getting beat up and Cass making short jokes…. yeah doesn’t even sound good does it?
  • Renee Young appeared again, this time in the ring, and introduced WWE Champion AJ Styles. AJ said Nakamura was ‘focused on the wrong Jewels’, he rejected Young’s question to apologize as Shinsuke has asked for, and said as Nakamura has ruined their dream match at Wrestlemania and his own match with Daniel Bryan he would leave Nakamura in pieces in their no DQ match. After calling out Nakamura SAMOA JOE came out instead! Joe said Styles was making a spectacle of himself, and that he needed to ‘make peace with his upcoming destiny’ and that we was waiting for the winner of the WWE Championship match this Sunday. Joe’s music played as the two stared eachother out, then Nakamura’s music played and Joe turned around and waited for him (as he was stood on the rampway), but Nakamura… once again… appeared in the ring and low-blowed Styles. He then taunted him some more and gave him a Kinshasa. Loved this segment. Hardly surprising considering who is involved, as we look towards Bakclash surely Nakamura has been getting the better of the champion way too much for the exact same thing to happen Sunday? And with it being no DQ could we see Styles low blow Nakamura or even maybe AJ wears a protective plate of some form to protect his ‘jewels’ and this leads to AJ getting the win? Who knows but nonetheless it should be really exciting stuff.
  • Becky Lynch was shown backstage and was upset at costing Asuka thier match last week, Asuka told her to forget about it and that they would fight back 3x as hard this week. Charlotte entered the fray and said she would teach Carmella a lesson in respect etc etc.
  • Xavier Woods beat Sheamus with a roll up. Loads of distractions during this one, light hearted, sub 10 minutes, fine.
  • They showed the video I alluded to last week of Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose mocking Becky Lynch. They both were shown in live time approaching former Absolution teammate Paige, and after appearing to be happy to see one another Deville and Rose assumed Paige was going to give them preferential treatment but Paige said no. She then revealed Mandy Rose will face Becky Lynch next week. Quite liked this actually, hoping this leads to further goings on between the 3, maybe Paige does eventually give them special treatment, beens as she’s not going to be taking bumps anytime soon… only outcome I can see unless you are going to split up Mandy and Sonya?
  • Zelina Vega cut a phone promo from the outside area. She said that although everyone wanted to know when Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas would make his Smackdown debut, but we would only know that when SHE decides to let us know. She then stated that Almas would take over Smackdown. Andrade Almas then spoke up by telling everyone to stay ‘tranquilo’. CAN YOU JUST SHOW UP ALREADY PLEASE?????? 2 supremely talented performers, I hope and pray the are handled correctly. The in-ring stuff is a lock that given the chance Almas will be a megastar, but i’m very nervous about what the creative team do with them. Fingers crossed Almas and Vega are treated as the stars they are.
  • In the main event Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch & Asuka beat Carmella, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. The match was really good fun to watch; Lynch gave Kay a diving dropkick, Carmella responded by superkicking the Irish Lasskicker, and then Charlotte hit a Spear on Carmella (it was great). Charlotte Flair then wowed the crowd by hitting a Moonsault from the top rope onto both Billie Kay & Carmella on the outside (it was absolutely wonderful to watch). And then Asuka hit the Asuka Lock on Peyton Royce to get the win. Charlotte and Becky celebrated with Asuka as the Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella made her way back up the entrance ramp clinging to her title belt.
  • Also shown during the show btw was another video promoting the imminent arrival from NXT of Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe; SANITY! 🙂

205 Live saw the following; Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher beat Akira Tozawa & Hideo Itami, Buddy Murphy absolutely destroyed a jobber as his pursuit of Cedric Alexander’s Cruserweight title continued, and in the main event Drew Gulak defeated Kalisto.

Tuesday Evening:

The US title match for Backlash was later announced by WWE as officially being Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton.

Kane ‘Glenn Jacobs’ publicly declares victory in the race to become the Republican candidate to become the Mayor of Knox County in the US. Given that Knox County is a largely Republican area it appears that ‘Mayor KANE’ is one step closer. After his incredible WWE service he deserves to be able to succeed in the next part of his life. Long overdue Hall of Fame induction next year for Mayor Jacobs surely?

Wednesday: May 2nd marks the 46th birthday of one of the biggest WWE stars of all time, and my 2nd favourite ever, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Independent wrestling standout Keith Lee has now reportedly signed with WWE. He will likely be joining NXT. This is one big guy, but he’s much more than that. He’ll be great in NXT, watch out for him to make a big impact when he arrives, and likely expect him either at the next tapings or sat in the crowd at ringside at the next Takeover.

NXT:

  • Undisputed Era did a promo backstage; Adam Cole laughed that Oney Lorcan will get to tell his Grandkids that he once lost to him, Kyle O’Reilly dared Danny Burch to try to attack them again, Bobby Fish said that he will let his rehab doctors know that they have ‘more patients coming’ and Roderick Strong what he did to Pete Dunne at NXT Takeover; New Orleans is nothing compared to what he will do to him tonight. Another wonderful heel promo from the best faction in pro-wrestling right now… fight me!
  • Kairi Sane beat Australian Shazza McKenzie in essentially a squash. It was Kairi Sane in a wrestling match so I cared little that it wasn’t long to be honest. Any time I get to see what she can do in a wrestling ring is a joy. Lacey Evans came out after, and she initially seemed to try and make peace with Sane and offered her a handshake, but as Sane considered accepting it Evans then hit her in the face. I quite like Evans too so expect a good match from these two when it happens.
  • Candice LeRae did an interview about the attack her husband Johnny Gargano suffered from Tomasso Ciampa last week. She was confused as to why Ciampa was still doing this sort of thing, and got so upset about it she had to stop the interview for crying too much. I love Candice as a wrestler, love her as a babyface, but as much as I get why… I hope she is more in WWE than just Johnny Gargano’s wife.
  • A video package for Lars Sullivan video was shown. The main takeaway from this was that he said he wants a championship belt. Which one he didn’t seem to mind, so I’d say he’ll probably be in some form of multi man contenders match sooner of later… My guess would be he’ll go after the NXT Title as I don’t see him against the also-heel Adam Cole as a possibility. Not in a big match surely? Who knows…
  • TM61 beat The Street Profits, the finish saw Shane Thorne pin Montez Ford whilst he had his feet on the ropes (whilst also Nick Miller held his partner’s feet for an added advantage). So it seems TM61 have or are turning heel. Which given the recent departures of AOP and Sanity to the main roster, NXT needs some more heel teams. Both are good wrestlers so should be fun to watch unfold.
  • Video was shown War Raiders and Heavy Machinery. They will have a match next week. War Raiders great, their opponents… not so much.
  • After witnessing at close hand the attack by Ciampa on Gargano last week, Kassuis Ohno vowed to take out Tomasso. A match between the two was made for next week’s episode. That will be absolutely great. Hard hitting for sure, but great to see happen.
  • Kona Reeves beat a jobber. I’m so not in to this “finest” gimmick or him as a performer at all. Not excited one bit to see it happen. Hope I change but we’ll see.
  • EC3 had a promo talking about how his first NXT match (the ladder match at Takeover: NOLA) was 5 stars so imagine what his 2nd match will be like. He said the sequal is always better than the original. He’ll be facing Raul Mendoza next week. EC3 is great, but I assure you all it won’t be another 5 star match I’m afraid…
  • Dakota Kai was shown being interviewed from earlier in the day. She promoted herself in NXT but still refused to talk about Shayna Baszler (ffs this doesn’t make her look like someone people want to side with it just makes her look like a geek and pathetic). Vanessa Borne walked in and said Dakota was a “pathetic scaredy Cat” (PREACH VANESSA PREACH), and that she would’ve ‘slapped the hell’ out of the NXT Women’s Champion Baszler and isn’t afraid of Dakota or Shayna. Dakota then said she has issues with Vanessa Borne, which disgusted Borne enough to then walk away. God Dakota Kai needs to win this match, because she’s looking weak AF rn! She’s been partnering with Nixon Newell (who is a former British independent wrestler) on the NXT Live circuit recently so hopefully Newell makes it on to tv to give her friend some much needed help sooner rather than later.
  • Bianca Belair beat Candice LeRae. Candice was seemingly not on her game here as she was still thinking about her Husband and the attack he suffered last week. Belair won with an ‘Alley Oop’ slam. Shame to have Candice get beat but makes sense for the story, and they seem to be pushing Belair so the result is non-surprising.
  • The main event of the show saw Pete Dunne face Roderick Strong. Strong came to the ring first with his own music playing, but that quickly changed to the Undisputed Era’s theme song, which was subtle but really really clever for the story they are telling with Roddy. After Pete Dunne came out the match begun immediately with Dunne running across the ring and hitting Strong in the mouth. The match itself was great, two guys whose chemistry was outstanding and it showed. Eventually Pete Dunne went for his ‘finger-breaking’ move, but Roderick Strong kicked him the the outside of the ring (right near Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly) and then made another attack. Pete Dunne later snapped Strong’s fingers and went on to hit his Bitter End finisher. He went for the cover but Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly came in and beat up Dunne for the DQ. The 3 beat on the UK Champion until Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch came in to make the save and the two three’s starred eachother down to close the show. The actual match for as long as it went was really good (not surprisingly), the finish again as predictable but well done and the afters was good but it would’ve been so much better had it been Tyler Bate and Trent Seven helping Pete Dunne (as those three form a trio on the independent circuit known as ‘British Strong Style’). Although they are heavily advertising a match of some form between Undisputed Era and British Strong Style for the WWE UK Championship shows at the Royal Albert Hall over the summer so perhaps we will get more of those interactions as the summer goes on…

 

Thursday:

Pete Dunne has revealed via his social media that he is to be a father. Birdie Danielson (Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella) versus Baby Bruserweight; Wrestlemania 55, BOOK IT NOW, 10 STAR MATCH! 

Friday:

Sky Sports have reported that Triple H has said that there will be a WWE ppv in the UK at some point in the future. The Game is quoted as saying “we will get there. For everybody that’s waiting it seems to be forever but we will get there, I promise”. YES YES YES! GET ME THERE NOW! 

Oh and it’s Backlash on Sunday. Should be a good show. Could be a big night for some people, it will be interesting to see who the WWE chose to put the big spotlight on. Let’s see… 

Josh.

30/4/2018 – What’s on my mind: Struggling to move on

So apparently there is the Backlash pay per view this Sunday…. but I bet the majority of the WWE audience are unaware of this, in the aftermath of the 5 hour political advert for Saudi Arabia that happened on Friday. Now we are done with that political advert can we just forget it ever happened? Can we PLEASE just MOVE ON? PLEASE?

OK so we did get two positives at least, both in the actual rumble match (no Titus I don’t mean you, sorry). Daniel Bryan entering at number 1, lasting 1 hour and 16 minutes, and being the penultimate man eliminated was a terrific showing that he IS still one of the best, one of the top guys, and still clearly viewed in a good light by the creative team (and even more so now off the back of adulation he has received since his comeback). So that was great to see. The other was Braun Strowman. If it needed to be any clearer to everyone, the images of Braun alongside Vince McMahon (who was gleefully looking on) and the Saudi dignitary handing him the GRR title belt, and then Braun holding it aloft with the giant trophy in the background, it was symbolic that at that precise moment it was pretty much confirmed (to me at least); Braun Strowman is THE GUY, NOT Roman Reigns. 2 other things were particularly symbolic to me; Braun Strowman (en-route to his win) broke the record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble match, a record previously held by? Roman Reigns! The second thing I picked up on was right at the end of the GGR as Braun had been given the title belt, he looked back to Vince who then said something to him and looked as if he initiated something with his hands, Braun then did his roar and held the title up high. To ME it LOOKED as if Vince was saying to Braun ‘yep, lift the title up, do your roar and the crowd will go wild, have your moment’ and to me also this seemed pretty symbolic, Vince as the literal key-holder in the WWE kingdom was at this point saying to Braun ‘it’s your time now, go do your thing, you’re my guy’. Maybe this is wishful thinking by me, perhaps Roman will remain on top, but SURELY it is written in stone now; Universal Championship, Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman, Braun Strowman wins. Surely this is where we are heading now? It’s where we SHOULD be going at least…

I will be doing a Backlash preview later in the week, more so than ever I fell people need to know what is actually happening on this show as I’m sure most people have missed what’s on the card, or even that the show is happening. So look out for that. The first, well 2nd technically, WWE ppv that will be dual-branded so both Raw and Smackdown superstars will be on the card. No longer will we have specific brand ppvs. Which is the right thing although many people will no longer get ppv slots as they would have in the old format. It should mean for better shows and maybe more importantly less content to watch. Which you may think isn’t a good thing, but trust me if you like me watch all WWE programming most weeks that’s A LOT of wrestling to watch. There are only 24 hours in a day after all, and so making time to watch all this WWE stuff isn’t that easy. So right call going forward to have dual-branded ppvs. Backlash Should be a fun show; AJ vs Shinsuke headlining with Roman vs Samoa Joe on too. This will be the, for now at least, last time these two rivals face off as Joe is now on Smackdown following the superstar shake up. Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass, Seth Rollins vs The Miz (also now on Smackdown), Charlotte vs Carmella and Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss make up the rest of the card with 1 possibly 2 more matches still to be confirmed.

So hopefully this WWE week will be relatively normal in the build to a ppv. Still we are in the annual post-Wrestlemania rut… But with the talent spread across the WWE roster now, and the variety of stories that are only just beginning to be told I cant’t see how the next few weeks and months of WWE wont continue to excite and amaze us all. Hopefully…

Josh.

WWE week in review – April 27 2018

Another week in WWE has been and gone. Maybe not as eventful as last week but nonetheless a lot going on. Please note that I’m releasing this on Friday afternoon at around 3pm, so BEFORE the start of the Greatest Royal Rumble. Enjoy!
Friday afternoon: WWE will air a Bruno Sammartino tribute documentary on the network immediately after Raw on Monday. Lovely stuff.
Booker T will temporarily replace Jonathan Coachman on commentary for Raw Monday (Coach is away covering a golf even, as his WWE contract also allows him to cover other sporting events alongside his WWE commitments). THANK GOD! MAKE THIS A PERMANENT THING! If you thought Booker T was bad then my oh MY Coach is AWFUL! Just to annoying and his points he makes and delivery of them are abysmal.
Alexa Bliss has reportedly had a boob job. This is being given as a reason why she hasn’t gone on WWE’s tour to South Africa. oi oi…
Friday Evening: WWE announce Asuka & Becky Lynch vs The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) for Smackdown this week. Great stuff. Billie and Peyton worked really well with Asuka in NXT so this should be good.
Saturday: a selfie posted by Alexa Bliss (showing off her new ‘boosted’ … ‘assets’) now has more likes than posts of the Wrestlemania returns of Daniel Bryan and The Undertaker. Wrestling fans……………….
Sunday: WWE release a new promotional image for the Greatest Royal Rumble match. It features (amongst others) Gallows and Anderson, Mark Henry, The Great Khali and Rey Mysterio. Expected really beens as they NEED soooooo many men to fill this match, but the big names of Henry and more notably Khali (not good) and Rey (absolutely brilliant) are a nice bonus.
Sunday Afternoon: WWE reveal 8 athletes have been successful at the tryouts in Saudi Arabia. And at least one of them will compete in the Greatest Royal Rumble match. cough cough *MONEY* cough cough…. lets hope whoever they choose gets a nice pop from the home crowd, and doesn’t embarrass themselves in the match.
Monday: John Cena turns 41 today. Given recent events lets hope he has a good one.
Monday Evening: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has once again become a father. MY GUY!!!
Ronda Rousey vs Mickie James announced for the upcoming WWE European (UK included) tour. Great match up this. Mickie is one of the most experienced and best wrestlers on the female roster, so putting Ronda with her in a run of singles matches is a wise move.
Monday: RAW

  • Bruno Sammartino tribute package airs to begin the show. Followed by a 10 bell salute. The tribute video was excellent, and also featured Vince McMahon SENIOR speaking about Bruno.
  • Lesnar and Heyman came out to open the show properly. Heyman cut a long promo, Reigns then came out and cut a promo of his own, standing face to face with Brock. The promo was good but long from Paul and not much of any difference to his pre-mania ones. And although it was obviously positive that Roman finally stood toe-to -toe with Lesnar, the lack of a physical altercation between the two was a tad disappointing.
  • Elias came out for another ‘performance’, he was though interrupted by Bobby Roode and the two had a match following. Elias eventually won with a roll up. A tad surprising that they had Roode lose after giving him the show closing spot when making his Raw arrival last week, but nonetheless this is surely only the beginning of an angle between these two so that should be fun.
  • WOKEN Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt cut a usual promo of theirs. they then beat The Ascension. No surprises at all here. Matt and Bray worked great together, their opponents are about as jobber as you could get.
  • Owens and Zayn presented ‘The Kevin & Sami show’ with Kurt Angle as their guest. They were very condescending with him, the gave him a tacky fold-out chair to sit on, and were just generally disrespectful to the Raw GM. He responded in kind (after they spoke of them winning the Greatest Royal Rumble match) by reminding them that he himself as well as Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho were also in the match and wanted to repay them for past grievances. He then also put Zayn and Owens in a tag team match later in the show against Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman. This was excellent simply put. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are just the best heel for a long time. HILARIOUS!
  • Bo Dallas and Curtiz Axel were backstage in the locker room with Seth Rollins. And as The Miz had departed to Smackdown the pair looked to Rollins to be the new team leader, with the idea they could be a 2nd version of The Shield. Seth said it was a “firm no”. This was pretty funny.
  • Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler beat Titus worldwide. Both then cut a promo afterwards with McIntyre being particularity vocal in his new heel persona. Drew also had new music (his old one with a heavy drum beat over the top of it). Drew’s was awesome here in his promo, so much fire in him. This guy is going to be a MEGASTAR! And he’s going to drag Dolph to stardom with him too for a time anyway.
  • Kurt Angle was backstage with Chad Gable (who it appears is a face now). Jinder Mahal eventually interrupted to set up a match after a brief ad break. The two had an ok match with Gable surprisingly getting the win. Jinder was furious as a result. 2 weeks on Raw, 2 matches, 2 losses for Mahal… hmm… when has a losing streak ever got anyone over? VERY rarely. Kind of obvious to me. Anyway at least Chad Gable is a great wrestler, so any chance he gets to showcase his stuff is a good time for me. So fingers crossed it continues and he build sup a decent character along the way.
  • The Riott Squad do a backstage interview with Renee, ahead of the 10 woman tag that will close the show. No thoughts really. It was fine. Ruby is great, needs to be a face though.
  • Samoa Joe did a cell phone promo. Fairly similar to what he said on Smackdown last week. Similar yes, but still really good work. Joe comes across as such a believable scary, monster, heel guy.
  • Finn Balor was in the locker room area with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Bo and Curtis were wearing the “OG BC” t shirts and attempted to too sweet and team up with Finn. Finn declined. This was jokes.
  • Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman faced Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. Finish came when Lashley did his delayed suplex to Zayn before tagging in Braun and he quickly did his running Powerslam for thew win. This was absolutely tremendous. All 4 guys played their role wonderfully. It was really entertaining. One conclusion that was clear as day for me after this though, was that Braun Strowman SHOULD be the guy. Not Roman. BRAUN. Now!
  • Baron Corbin was due to face No Way Jose (accompanied by his ‘conga line’, but after Jose came with his dancing friends to the ring Corbin came out and essentially said he wouldn’t be doing the match for fear some of the conga line would jump him. Corbin went to the back, Jose danced back up the ramp anyway before Corbin came back out and attacked Jose. This was fine enough, without being amazing.
  • Alexa Bliss was shown in a filmed segment, billed as a public service announcement, entitled: A Moment of Bliss. She cut a very solemn figure, and spoke very softly as she put across her “anti-bullying” message as she told a story about her ‘former best friend’ Nia Jax stealing a Burrito from a homeless person. This was one of the best women’s segment I had seen in a LONG time! Alexa Bliss acting here was out of this world good! I laughed. Maybe that wasn’t the intention but it was brilliant.
  • After their separate confrontations earlier in the show, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins beat Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel (as they have done on the house show segment recently) in quick fashion. Meh.
  • Natalya held court in the locker room with her tag team members for the main event: Ember Moon, Nia Jax (who each spoke separately too) and Sasha and Bayley. As the 3 other women made their exit Sasha tried to smile at Bayley but Bayley returned with a glare and shrugged off her sign of reconciliation it seemed. This segment was straight out of BORESVILLE!!! And Bayley vs Sasha maybe the worst feud of the year. NOTHING is happening!!!
  • The Raw main event then saw the team of Natalya, Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks and Bayley take on The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan), Mickie James and Alexa Bliss. Match came to an end when Sarah Logan chop blocked Natalya and hurt her knee real bad, Mickie James then tried to further hurt Nattie. That was when Ronda Rousey’s music hit to make the save, she helped her friend but was then kicked down by James. This prompted Ronda to enter the ring and do a Judo Throw and locked the Armbar in on James (this ended the match on a DQ). So: match was a bit of a clusterfuck, Alexa did absolutely nothing in the match (further evidence they’re keeping her away from action as she recovers from her ‘surgery’), Bayley and Sasha had ZERO interactions to advance their storyline, Ronda was a megastar and her spots with Mickie James looked so natural it gives me great hope for what looks like a feud between thew two going forward. But most of all… WWE… don’t think I don’t see you… putting all your Raw women in a match that you’ve just thrown them all in to, putting it on last and having your top female star close the show looking strong… just a few days before a massive event your promoting… that women just so happens are NOT on. I see right through you!

Monday: After Raw had finished WWE did indeed air a new Bruno Sammartino documentary on the WWE network. It was really good.
X Pac reveals on his podcast that had Bruno and the WWE not come to an agreement on his Hall of Fame induction in 2013, DX as a group were going to be the headline replacement instead.
Tuesday = A Backlash contract signing for Carmella’s Smackdown Women’s Championship defense against former champion Charlotte Flair AND Miz TV with guest Daniel Bryan are both announced as segments for Smackdown this evening. GREAT! Particularly the later announced segment will be enthralling!
Paul Heyman will reportedly NOT be travelling to Saudi Arabia for the Greatest Royal Rumble event this Friday. Hmm… this is interesting and potentially concerning… we shall see…

Along with Carmella vs Charlotte, Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss is also confirmed for the upcoming Backlash ppv.
Zack Ryder reveals on social media that (in his match against Mike Kanellis that was tapped for the Main Event show on the network, tapped before Raw) he suffered a knee injury. He was not flying to Saudi Arabia but instead to Orlando for an MRI. Gut wrenching stuff this. Particularly when he’s just moved brands. Hopefully it’s not too serious. Got loads of talent has Zack, sadly never given a proper and long enough chance to showcase it.
Tuesday : Smackdown
– Miz TV was supposed to be with Daniel Bryan, but instead Big Cass came out in a great looking suit. They both talked down about Bryan. I guess this delays the inevitable Miz – Bryan feud…

Asuka and Becky Lynch are shown backstage as they are about to make their entrances for their match, but they stop walking upon seeing Daniel Bryan in the floor being tended to by officials. He has apparently been attacked (presumably by Big Cass)
– The IIconics come out, cut a promo then beat Becky and Asuka in a tag match. Finish coming when Peyton pinned Lynch whilst her feet were on the ropes. Good for Billie Kay and Royce to get a big win early in their main roster career, but Asuka losing a match AGAIN?!?!?!
– Renee Young is shown outside Shane McMahon’s office, but instead AJ Styles comes out looking very pleased with himself. He reveals their will be a 6 man tag match in the main event later on, pitting him and 2 partners vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev and Aiden English. Intriguing… I hope it’s what I think this is… But strange how after weeks of Rusev and English beating in him, Nakamura is now teaming with them. Heel or not, some continuity would be nice…
– a hype video plays for the upcoming Smackdown arrival of former NXT Champion Andrade Almas and his business associate Zelina Vega. YES YES YES! IM ALL IN ON THESE TWO!!!
– Naomi and The Usos did a segment from the locker room. Naomi expressed her concerns ahead of Jimmy Uso’s match with Rowan later. So… they’re all in on showing Naomi as Mrs Uso on TV as well now then… ok…
— Rowan (with Harper) v Jimmy (with Jey). Rowan dominates until Noami makes her entrance (neon clothes and flashy lights and all). This distracts Rowan enough to allow Jimmy to get a shock win. You have to give The Usos a bit of build going into this match I guess…
– Renee hosts a contract signing between Charlotte and Carmella. Carmella makes her way out first, she gloats and then shows a video package showing her road to becoming champion… Twice! But half way through the 2nd showing Charlotte comes out. She takes her seat at the other side of the set out table, Carmella continues to talk trash which leads Charlotte to slam Carmella’s head into the table and then flip the table onto her. This went the way every single contract signing ever in WWE has gone, nonetheless it was good enough.
– Dasha Fuentes is outside Shinsuke Nakamura’s locker room, instead Aiden English comes out and tells her “sorry, no questions”FANTASTIC!
– Shelton Benjamin looked set to take on US Champion Jeff Hardy in a rematch from last week’s show. But instead Randy Orton passed Hardy on the ramp (reverse of last week) and he took the match instead. With Jeff at ringside throughout a masked man attacked him. Orton dragged the man into the ring and took his mask off to reveal it was Jinder Mahal’s ally Sunil Singh. Singh got an RKO for his troubles but this was enough to provide Benjamin with the chance to get the upset win. ANOTHER DISTRACTION WIN WTF IS HAPPENING?!
– New Day backstage segment featuring a candle lit pancake dinner (don’t ask, just go with it) … The Bar came in and played party poopers. Simple stuff. Fued been done before, but wouldn’t be against it on Smackdown.
– AJ is in the locker room… with… GALLOWS AND ANDERSON!!! HALLELUJAH!!!
– Sanity hype package video. I still am sad Nikki Cross is sticking around in NXT but nonetheless I’m so excited for their arrival to Smackdown!
– Renee Young interview backstage with Daniel Bryan. His shoulder was heavily bandaged up. He was really fired up and revealed Smackdown GM Paige had made Bryan vs Big Cass for Backlash. Awesome. MASSIVE opportunity for Big Cass.
– Samoa Joe pre-filmed promo. Same sort of content as has been recently. But still as good.
– Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson followed by WWE Champion AJ Styles came out. They were followed by their opponents; Aiden English, Rusev and finally Shinsuke Nakamura (who had new music. A take on his old one but with a Japanese singer and an electric guitar playing over it. It was cool AF to me). Decent match ended with Nakamura predictably pinning Gallows after a Kinshasa. After the match AJ brawled with Shinsuke, until Nakamura once again low blowed the champion and then hit Karl Anderson with his signature knee strike as Anderson took the BULLET for his friend. Simply put this aftermath was wonderful. Really builds the grudge match feeling going into Friday, stunning contrast to the ultra respectful build to their last meeting. But by a long way the build to this has been so much better from a storytelling standpoint. Nakamura has gone to even higher levels as a performer as a heel. And given how good he was before that’s saying a lot!
– 2 other segments related to the show were put out by WWE; Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose mocking a crestfallen Becky Lynch backstage (presumably setting up a match next week) and also Tye Dillinger on the phone to R Truth, who it appears didn’t find his way to the arena………. yeah…..
205 Live featured the gauntlet match to decide the challenger for Cedric Alexander’s Cruserweight title at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. The match saw Mustafa Ali beat TJP, Drew Gulak then beat Ali, Gulak beat former friend Tony Nese, and then finally Kalisto beat Gulak to book his ticket to Jeddah.
Wednesday morning: so it now appears Paul Heyman WILL be making the trip to Saudi Arabia, he just will do so later on the week. PHEW!
Wednesday: WWE has now officially confirmed Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry, The Great Khali, Shane McMahon, Randy Orton and Kevin Owens will be in the Greatest Royal Rumble match. Again not a massive surprise… a 50 man match, there isn’t going to be many names NOT in it.
Wednesday evening: Zack Ryder reveals his injury isn’t as bad as first feared, and that nothing is torn or broken just strains suffered. No surgery needed. Thank god! Would be last thing he needs. Hope to see him back soon.
Tye Dillinger points out on twitter that he is not featured in the advertising for the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Dangerous came you’re playing there Tye…
Wednesday: NXT

  • Undisputed Era came out and each cut a promo. Adam Cole was last and spoke about his North American title match against Oney Lorcan. He said he would win by himself and even laughed about needing help to win the match. This was great. All 4 members are really into their role, particularly the newly turned Roderick Strong.
  • Cole retained his title against Lorcan. Cole had his ribs tapped up, and at one point Lorcan threw Cole onto the ropes on his ribs. Kyle O’Reilly ran down with a doctor to see if he was ok, in the meantime Roderick Strong came out and gave Lorcan a back suplex onto the apron. Adam Cole was suddenly ok, and he then hit his finisher on Lorcan to retain the title. After the finish Danny Burch tried to stop Undisputed Era beating down his tag partner, but he was beaten down too. This was expected, but I’m a big Undisputed Era fan so I loved it. Give me Adam Cole and his cronies beating people up and being arrogant dicks all day long pls.
  • Shayna Baszler video package.
  • Bianca Belair video package, She’ll face Candice LeRae next week. Great, should be a fun match.
  • Heavy Machinery beat Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli. I love NXT, but I couldn’t be less uinterested in these two tag teams if I tried.
  • There was a video shown setting up potential challengers for the NXT Women’s Championship. Featured were Nikki Cross, Aliyah, and Kairi Sane. Aliyah? DPMO. Don’t even put her in the same conversation as my two girls!!!!!!!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!!!
  • Dakota Kai was shown being interviewed by Cathy Kelley about Shayna Baszler earlier in the day. Kai didn’t want to talk about Baszler even though Kelley kept asking about her. Shayna then walked in. Baszler talked down to her and said that Baszler running the women’s division is Dakota’s worst nightmare. I like Dakota don’t get me wrong, but I hope this is just a TV feud, and they give Baszler another challenger for the next Takeover.
  • Kona Reeves with another hype package. ZZZZZZzzzzz…..
  • Lacey Evans, Vanessa Borne, & Candice LeRae also were shown saying they too would defeat the NXT Women’s Champion Baszler if they got the chance. I feel like there may be a multi women or battle royal type match in the upcoming weeks to decide the next main challenger. Far too many women talking directly about challenging the champion for it not to be for a purpose.

Next week we will have TM61 vs The Street Profits & Pete Dunne vs. Roderick Strong.

  • Johnny Gargano came to the ring for his NXT championship match with Aleister Black. But on hos way to the ring he was jumped by Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa threw Gargano into the stage, Johhny fought-back until Ciampa gave him a low blow. Ciampa then kicked Gargano in the head and, ignoring the officials that had come out to try and stop the attack, then gave him an Emerald Fusion through some production tables off the stage area. (The same spot he did when he originally turned on his former partner almost 1 year ago). The medics stretchered Gargano away, Kassius Ohno was among those who cam to help out, Aleister Black too arrived to see what was happening. As the ambulance drove away the camera zoomed out and there Ciampa was pictured on top of a ring truck. This was heartbreaking obviously, but absolutely brilliant stuff. This incredible rivalry is NOT done then, so maybe a gimmick match between the two soon? Cage? HELL IN A CELL???
  • Aleister Black came out to the ring and took to the mic and appeared to be about to challenge Tomasso Ciampa (GIVE ME THIS MATCH PLEASE), but instead he was interrupted by SAnitY! Eric Young said that Gargano’s hope was taken away by chaos, but that ” we will find hope and we will find sanity”. As Young was about to continue Black saw what was coming and challenged Young to face him for his title! So the match took place, and it wasn’t spectacular but it was fine. Black won with a Black Mass. and as both Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain got in the ring to try and avenge their leader’s loss, they were both Black Mass victims too, as Black ended the show holding his title and standing tall. Presumably this was done to give Sanity there sendoff before they officially move to Smackdown. But it was fun enough, and the champion looking strong is something I will never be against, particularity when that man is Aleister Black, and he is cool AF!

Thursday:

Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) issue a challenge to the Undisputed Era for WWE’s UK Championship shows in June, via a video released on WWE’s twitter. If we could have Undisputed Era vs British Strong Style (the name on the indies for the collective group of Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) that’d be great. Thanks.
Triple H announces potential plans for NXT to go global via ‘global localization’ (the idea being there will be feeder-like promotions in countries all over the world, all feeding eventually towards the main NXT brand and the main roster shows). This information was actually made available during Triple H’s conference call over Wrestlemania weekend, but seems to have only come to light now. This is really exciting for WWE but does seem as if they are attempting to take over the world, which might not please some other smaller promotions over the globe.

Friday:
It’s the Greatest Royal Rumble later TODAY! They have extra comfy seats at ringside… the type you’d see in a posh lounge. This show is going to be CRAZY! I’m absolutely fascinated to see it!

Josh.

WWE week in review – April 20 2018

So this is how it’s going to work from now on… Each Friday I am going to upload a blog of all the WWE news from the week past, and I will also add in there my own personal opinion on the goings on (the reporting of the news will be in black font, with my personal opinion replicating my actual notes in blue). This week’s begins from Sunday evening/Monday morning onwards… enjoy!!!
Sunday Evening/Monday Morning: John Cena and Nikki Bella announce they are splitting up after 6 years together. To quote Sam Roberts (wrestling podcast host and occasional WWE PPV pre-show panelist) on twitter “Love isn’t real”. I don’t have much more to say on this to be really honest. Plenty of jokes and speculation that has and could easily be made, but at the end of the day it’s sad.
Monday Evening: Undertaker vs Rusev in a Casket Match at the Greatest Royal Rumble in now back ON! If you didn’t know the original match between the two was off, and Rusev replaced by Chris Jericho, following plenty of speculation, a Lana character tweet and some interesting twitter behavior from Rusev after a TMZ interview the both did. Nobody really knows for sure, but now the match is ON! Hmm… this is all a bit odd. Nonetheless the fact that Rusev is in the match is good for him in my opinion, he is facing THE UNDERTAKER on a giant show in a casket match. He’ll lose obviously (as he has eluded to on twitter) but just being in that spot is HUGE for his ongoing rise in popularity. Still waiting for a seamlessly never-coming trigger pull on him by WWE though. We can only hope.
Monday = RAW (Superstar Shake – up)
Jinder Mahal came to Raw, and immediately lost his United States Championship to Jeff Hardy (who is now a grand slam champion). By Jinder’s standards this was a real fun match, crowd were super into Jeff (as has been the case since the dawn of time it seems).
Sasha vs Bayley was interrupted by The Riott Squad, who are all now on Raw. Shame to me this Sasha and Bayley story has seemingly been blown off via a half hearted regular TV match…
AOP squashed Slater & Rhyno again. I CBA with Slater and Rhyno anymore.
Miz TV saw Kevin Owens AND Sami Zayn come to Raw (per Stephanie McMahon’s orders). Kurt Angle announces The Miz is to go to Smackdown. I loved that Sami read an email from Stephanie over-ruling Kurt to bring Owens and Zayn to Raw, and interesting Miz is going on his own to Smackdown as they made a point of clarifying (So The Miztourage will stay on Raw), surely as was alluded to immediately the whole Miz – Daniel Bryan story will continue again.
Matt & Bray beat The Revival and will now face The Bar at the Greatest Royal Rumble for the vacant Raw Tag Titles. All good with me.
Breezango (on Raw now) give The Bar ‘Fashion Tickets’. Meh…
Natalya on Raw. She’s friends with Ronda, and now a babyface. They’re friends for real too, so this will help Ronda going forward for sure. But Nattie as a baby??? Hmm….
Ember Moon beat Mickie James (whom sold The Eclipse like a mofo). Nia Jax was on guest commentary, Alexa was supposed to be but she instead appeared via video link, claiming it was in fact Nia who was a bully. Really liked all this. Seems they’re still going with this story, but as long as Ember is incorporated more into the title scene that’s fine with me.
Dolph Ziggler is on Raw now. he came out and cut a normal Dolph promo, but was then greeted by Titus Worldwide who tried to recruit hi,m. He declined, and then DREW MCINTYRE came out to help Ziggler attack Titus and Apollo! So it appears that Drew is on Raw up from NXT, siding with Dolph and also now a heel too. I like Drew as a heel, less so as Dolph Ziggler’s heavy… but I’ll give it time because I adore Drew McIntyre.
Roman Reigns cut a promo, Samoa Joe came out and crucified him on the mic. Pretty much a repeat of last week. It was also announced Brock Lesnar will appear on Raw next week. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU GET ROMAN REIGNS OVER!!!
A tweet from Daniel Bryan was shown, making it clear they’re going with the rivalry versus The Miz immediately. This will fill the Owens & Zayn – Shane McMahon spot on the show then. been a long time coming this match so I hope it eventually delivers.
Raw main event: The Miz, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn versus Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley & BOBBY ROODE (now on Raw). Match ended when both Dallas and Axel refused Miz’s tag, and then Braun power-slammed him for the win. Fun match. Very happy Roode is on Raw and he got the main spot on this show, fingers crossed he goes up the card now…
Also on Raw:

  • Natalya vs Mandy Rose. Sonya Deville interferes. Ronda makes the save. Considering Ronda absolutely battered both Mandy and Sonya I’d presume they’re off to Smackdown.
  • Baron Corbin is also on Raw now. Vince apparently really likes Corbin so I’d expect big things for him on the red brand.
  • Breezango beat The Bar. WOW… Considering they’re in the Raw Tag Title match at GRR this result really shocked me. Maybe The Bar are moving shows too?
  • Elias did a backstage interview with Renee Young. Renee kind of buried him a little and it was a bit odd, Elias was his usual self but it was just… different… I’m not sure why so I’ll be interested to see what Elias does going forward.

Also going to Raw =

  • Chad Gable (solo) – great wrestler, little character. So good luck to him.
  • Mike Kanellis – Chuffed for him. Fingers crossed.
  • Zack Ryder – Chuffed for him. Fingers crossed.
  • Mojo Rawley – I DON’T CARE
  • The Ascension – I DON’T CARE

Jeff Hardy vs Jinder Mahal for the US title was announced for the GRR. So perhaps Jeff and/or the US title are staying on Raw after all?
Tuesday Evening: ‘Apollo’ is called ‘Apollo Crews’ again... just one of those weird, Vince decisions I guess…
Tuesday Evening: Kassius Ohno (of NXT) announced to be appearing for the Progress wretling company at an upcoming big show of theirs. Good for him…
Tuesday Evening: Daniel Bryan vs The Miz announced for the upcoming WWE Live tour of the UK. Will do wonders for the ticket sales (as his return did for the late sales of Wrestlemania tickets), not that they need help.
Tuesday = Smackdown (Superstar Shake-up)
AJ Styles cuts a promo in the ring on Nakamura and how he ruined his match with Daniel Bryan last week, he called Shinsuke out but instead was greeted by Aiden English & Rusev. English did another song, Rusev & Styles had a match but it was very quickly called a DQ when English interfered. Daniel Bryan came out to make the save. All good stuff.
Shelton Benjamin came out for a promo and asked for competition, Randy Orton’s music hit and he came down the ramp but then NEW United States Champion Jeff Hardy came out and beat Benjamin in a decent match. Jeff on Smackdown, great move imo. Clear they are giving him a push as a solo star whilst Matt is WOKEN on Raw. Anytime Jeff Hardy is on WWE TV it is a good thing so happy days all round.
Miz cut a selfie promo on Daniel Bryan. This was shown on the titantron in the arena, and pictured Miz in his home with Maryse and their new baby daughter. Miz stated he was not here tonight but would be at Smackdown next week. Simple but effective stuff this from The Miz. And Maryse telling Miz off for his language use around their daughter was hilarious.
Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose were announced as coming to Smackdown. So surely a storyline with former Absolution member and now Smackdown General Manager Paige is upcoming?
Harper beat Jey Uso in less than one minute. Rowan & Harper were ready to destroy both Usos after this, but Jimmy Uso’s wife Naomi came out & pleaded with the Bludgeon Brothers for mercy. I like everyone involved here a great deal, but there’s absolutely no believability whatsoever in The Usos regaining their titles. So they need to do more going forward to raise the stock back up of the former Smackdown Tag Team Champions ahead of their title rematch.
Sin Cara was in the ring waiting for a match. and his opponent that came to the ring to face him was… SAMOA JOE!!! SAMOA JOE IS ON SMACKDOWN!!! He absolutely squashed Sin Cara in a quick match, and then cut a promo running down a whole load of people and stating all the things he has on his agenda going forward. This promo was fantastic by the way. Joe might be one of the best promo guys in the company rn. Him on Smackdown is an AWESOME move imo! It opens up so many possibilities for some incredible possible matches in the future, very exciting stuff. I do wonder what Roman Reigns will do going forward now though, as Joe was lined up to be his opponent (for the Universal Championship) in the months ahead. Presumably he will job out to Roman at Backlash and then move on to dominate the Smackdown roster… hopefully…
SANITY were announced as also coming to Smackdown from NXT. Sadly no Nikki Cross will be joining Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe it seems, but I don’t doubt she will be fine on her own in NXT. I would appease Cross fans by reminding them that Carmella not going to the main roster with Big Cass and his tag team partner was the best thing ever to happen to her career. Gave her a chance to shine on her own, and she isn’t doing too bad at all nowadays. I think Sanity are ahead of that team now and I think Nikki Cross is ahead of Carmella now let alone when Carmella was in NXT. So I think Nikki Cross will be fine. Nonetheless Sanity to Smackdown is brilliant news.
Renee Young did a backstage interview with Daniel Bryan. He was eventually interrupted by the returning Big Cass, who is now on Smackdown. This is a great move for Cass imo, he’s clearly someone who WWE like so this will give him a great platform to become a huge star on. within the next 5 years I fully expect Cass to be a world champion, maybe even sooner.
Carmella had her “Mellabration” for her Smackdown Women’s Championship win last week, Charlotte came out and cut a promo, The IIconics came out and cut a promo, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay beat on Charlotte, Becky came out and made the save, Charlotte had a match with Kay and won, The IIconics and Carmella beat on Lynch & Flair, ASUKA came out to even the odds and confirm her arrival to the Smackdown roster. This was all good stuff, delighted that Asuka is on Smackdown, the women’s rosters on both brands now look pretty tidy.
Gallows & Anderson and Sheamus & Cesaro both are coming to Smackdown. Unsure what they will do with regards to The Bar’s match with Hardy & Wyatt at the GRR now but Smackdown’s tag team division now is absolutely ON FIRE!
There was a backstage segment with New Day, Tye Dillinger and R Truth (who is now on Smackdown). OK, but really who cares?
ANDRADE ‘CIEN’ ALMAS & ZELINA VEGA did a selfie promo to confirm their upcoming arrival to Smackdown! YES YES YES YES YES YES FUCKING YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The main event of Smackdown saw Styles & Bryan face Rusev & English. A decent match was ended when Nakamura sneaked out and once again gave a low-blow to the WWE Champion. Big Cass also came out and delivered a big boot to Daniel Bryan, and then stood tall over him. Renee tried to ask Nakamura about his questionable actions in an interview at the top of the entrance rampway, to which Nakamura replied with “No speak English”, using this line for the 2nd week in a row. This was all fine. Nakamura’s heel run has been very entertaining in its early days, Rusev needs to be a babyface but that is what it is, and having Daniel Bryan have what seems to be a feud with Big Cass is a good one for me. It’ll help Big Cass immensely get heat and also the things he may learn from a great like Bryan will be hugely beneficial I’m sure, plus it’s a great feud to get Bryan back into things by having your classic smaller underdog face versus the big strong bad guy.
Tuesday – 205 Live

  • Mustafa Ali beat Ariya Daivari
  • Murphy failed his Cruserweight weigh in, leading 205 Live GM Drake Maverick to announce a gauntlet match to decide on Cedric Alexander’s next Cruserweight Championship challenger.
  • Jack Gallagher & (the returning) Brian Kendrick beat 2 jobbers in a tag match
  • Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado beat Hideo Itami & Akira Tozawa. Kalisto came out to join his fellow ‘Lucha Houseparty’ members for the celebrations after their win.

Tuesday : AJ Styles defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura at the Greatest Royal Rumble event was announced. Couldn’t say with much certainty how this one will go but I’d presume AJ will retain, but wouldn’t be surprised either way.
Tuesday: Kane has been removed from the listed competitors for the Greatest Royal Rumble match itself. This is likely due to his ongoing political commitments.
Tuesday: Plenty of controversy has emerged regarding the ticketing and seating system for the Greatest Royal Rumble event. On top of the already known facts that none of the WWE women will be performing on the show, several limitations have emerged with regards to who can sit where in the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium (in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) for the event itself. All of the best seats in the Stadium will be reserved for families, and that family must contain one adult woman. As well as that any single men wishing to go to the event were only allocated spots that were far away from the near ring seats, and they all sold out very quickly (around 10000 of the reported 52000 people who will be there for the event). I guess these are some of the things the WWE knew they were heading for when they put together this deal. They are being paid, quite clearly by how big they’ve pushed it, a LOT of money for this event so they will have to adhere to many of the Saudi’s demands. It’s a shame that in 2018 these sort of issues are still array but it’s their country I suppose… However the idea of segregating people based upon anything strikes me as being incredibly outdated and borderline criminal, but then again it is their country, they make their rules, and this is a sold how to a country’s government who wont have to worry about the monetary side. So yes, not much can be done really that sense once WWE made this deal. “It’s just Business” as a man called Vince once said.
Wednesday Afternoon : Bruno Sammartino (widely regarded as one of the most popular wrestlers of all time) passes away aged 82. No superlative could justify what Bruno did for pro wrestling in the United States. I’d compare him to El Santo in Mexico (although not as big as that’d be impossible) or at least similar in terms of his standing in his country. I’d strongly advise you take some time to look up all that Bruno accomplished, because some of it is hard to believe; WWE Champion for 2,803 days in one reign and overall 4,040 days as champion is just one of many incredible things the WWE Hall of Famer accomplished.
Wednesday : NXT
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae come to the ring for a promo to a standing ovation from the adoring Full Sail crowd. Johnny Wrestling defiantly recalls his NXT Takeover win over rival Tomasso Ciampa, he thanks his wife Candice for her ongoing support and then Candice announces she will face Zelina Vega tonight, before Gargano states his ambition to face new NXT Champion Aleister Black for the title. This was all great stuff; wonderful babyface promo from both, and the upcoming LeRae vs Vega and potential Black vs Gargano matches are absolutely mouthwatering prospects.
Killian Dain pre filmed promo ahead of his No DQ match with Lars Sullivan. Solid character work once again from the Beast of Belfast.
It was revealed that NXT colour commentator Nigel McGuinness will be absent for this episode (and presumably this full set of tapings) after he recently became a father. Lovely.
Ricochet vs Fabian Aichner. Even match with Ricochet winning with a 630 splash. Afterwards, in an interview with Kayla Braxton, he talks about having watched many past NXT stars at Full Sail University make a name for themselves, but now he wants to make a name for himself and prove why he’s the one and only: Ricochet. This guy is going to be an absolute worldwide MEGASTAR! I’d say he is already but now he’s in WWE the sky is the absolute limit for this incredible in-ring performer.
Recap of War Raiders 1st appearance (from last week). Cool.
Video hype package for EC3. This was really good.
Lars Sullivan pre filmed promo responding to Killian Dain from earlier. Again, really good character work.
War Raiders beat 2 jobbers in a squash. A potential future clash with Undisputed Era was mentioned by the commentators so surely can’t be too long until that, which would be wonderful.
NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler cut a promo in the women’s locker room to the rest of the female roster that were sat in there. She essentially put them all on notice that she was in charge now. This was really good stuff, makes her seem legit tough which as a former MMA fighter, she absolutely is. Plays the evil bully role really well.
A video package aired for Kona Reeves, who will return to NXT shortly. This guy’s character is basically him fancying himself, which doesn’t entice me to care too much for him but let’s see how he does…
Pete Dunne was seen outside of an arena and was asked some brief questions, he said that in 2 weeks he will ‘rip Roderick Strong’s head off’ (after his betrayal of him at NXT Takeover; New Orleans). Any chance of a Pete Dunne vs Roderick Strong match again is going to be good with me, so Dunne really set the tone with his upfront response here. Good stuff.
Killian Dain vs Lars Sullivan in a No Disqualification match. Sullivan won with a Freak Accident slam onto some steel chairs. This was the kind of absolute war you’d expect from 2 over 300 pound behemoths! Dain was bloody from the mouth area during the later stages, he also splashed Lars through a table set up leaning in the corner of the ring. This was great to watch, 2 big guys going to battle, awesome stuff. The result was to be expected, with Dain joining his Sanity brothers on Smackdown Live shortly, so is was only right that the man who was sticking around in NXT went over. Expect big things for Sullivan in the months to come. he’s admired by a guy called Brock Lesnar apparently, which can’t be bad can it?
There was a video package that aired recapping the rivalry between Candice LeRae and Zelina Vega, and how this factored in to the Almas vs Gargano rivalry. This was great.
The FOUR members of the Undisputed Era were seen doing a photo shoot with all their championships. Leader Adam Cole with his NXT North American Championship, Kyle O’Reilly and the newly joined member Roderick Strong with the NXT Tag Team titles and flanked by the injured Bobby Fish also. It was then revealed they will appear on NXT next week, and also Adam Cole will defend his North American title against Oney Lorcan. The more I think of it, the more I think Strong as a part of the Undisputed Era is absolutely fabulous. I look forward to see them dominate NXT for a long time to come.
The main event of show was the aforementioned grudge match between Mrs Wrestling Candice LeRae and the business associate for Andrade Almas, Zelina Vega (whom came out to Almas’ theme music as well, the continuity of this really pleased me). In the early part of the match Almas appeared on the ring apron to distract LeRae, but Johnny Gargano would quickly come out to even the odds. Match ended when Candice and Gargano each had Vega and Almas in the Gargano Escape submission in the ring, and both gave up. So Mr and Mrs wrestling send their foes packing off to Smackdown to bring the fairy-tale ending to this story. Nice that they gave the finishing touch to LeRae, gives her a good platform to begin her own NXT career off the back of. Gargano then congratulated his wife on her win, before calling out the NXT Champion Aleister Black. Black then made his way out and told Gargano “you want it, then next week you shall have it”. Gargano vs Black for the NXT title next week? That’ll be absolutely brilliant! What a dream match! Should be noted also that the only man to have pinned Aleister Black in NXT just so happens to be… Johnny Gargano!
Thursday: (today was a slow news day… so I’ll do my best)
In a match as part of the WWE Live tour in South Africa, Roman Reigns was busted up in a match with Samoa Joe. The full results for the live event are as follows:
Seth Rollins & Finn Balor defeated Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
Cedric Alexander defeated Drew Gulak
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Bar
Asuka defeated Sasha Banks & Bayley
Braun Strowman defeated Elias
Titus Worldwide defeated Gallows & Anderson
Nia Jax defeated Mandy Rose
Roman Reigns defeated Samoa Joe
WWE tryouts are taking place in Saudi Arabia ahead of the Greatest Royal Rumble event next week. All part of the ongoing agreement between WWE and the country.
It has been reported that Brock Lesnar will (as part of his new contract) earn between $98,000 to $127,000 per TV appearance and $492,000 to $637,000 per match he takes part in. The reports which have emerged each vary in the exact amount, but essentially Brock is being paid well.
According to PWInsider, BOBBY LASHLEY is likely to be added to the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. They state that local advertising in the Middle East has Lashley listed as one of the participants (currently it is set to be Seth Rollins defending against The Miz, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor).
Friday: (again not much going on so far today, so I’ll just preview the next 7 days head instead)
Raw next week will feature the return of Brock Lesnar to WWE for the first time since Wrestlemania, and since he re-signed with the company. As well as the first week in their new home for those superstars that came from Smackdown as part of the superstar shake-up.
Smackdown will too feature new superstar shake-up arrivals, as well as The Miz and Daniel Bryan potentially confronting one another for the first time since Bryan was cleared to return to in-ring competition.
NXT on Wednesday will feature Unsidputed Era, as well as Adam Cole’s NXT North American Championship defense. Also the match between Johnny Gargano and the champion Aleister Black for the NXT Championship will close the show.
And of course next Friday will be the day of the much talked about Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. A huge card will be headlined by AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura & Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in a steel cage match in Wrestlemania world title re-matches, and of course the huge 50 man Greatest Royal Rumble match.
AND that was the week in WWE. Hope you all like the new format, it’s much easier for me personally to do it this way rather than recap each WWE show in detail. Let me know what you all think.
Josh. .

16/4/2018 – What’s on my mind: I’M BACK!!!

Well I’m back!!! And… not much has happened in the world of WWE since I released my previews for Takeover and Mania… it’s been very quiet in fact……

So since I last wrote anything on here we had NXT Takeover: New Orleans, which was… the best WWE show there has EVER been!!! It was a brilliant line up to begin with and the card was sandwiched with 2 of the best WWE matches there has ever been; the show opener was the 6 man ladder match for the new NXT North American Championship that saw EC3 vs Killian Dain vs Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet. It was simply incredible. All 6 men made entrances of stars, and they came out of it as MEGAstars. It would be hard to pick an MVP but I must give special praise to the performances of ‘The One and Only’ Ricochet and of course the eventual winner Adam Cole… BAY BAY!

Shayna Baszler is your new NXT Women’s Champion after dethroning Ember Moon in a great match. There was NXT Tag Team Championship/Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic winner takes all match that saw AOP vs Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne vs Kyle O’Reilly and the double duty-ing Adam Cole. The match ended in dramatic fashion with Roderick Strong turning heel and handing the win to Cole and O’Reilly as he joined the Undisputed Era. Aleister Black is the new NXT Champion after he beat Andrade Almas, despite the best efforts of Zelina Vega in what was a terrific contest. And in the match that surprisingly at the time but not in hindsight main evented the show (because how on EARTH do you follow this) Tomasso Ciampa faced Johnny Gargano in their Unsanctioned Match… Wow… expectations were high… but many are already calling it the best match in WWE history!!! So yes, Takeover: New Orleans was AMAZING!!!

AND THEN we had Wrestlemania 34.. and what a show it was! Brilliant, weird, bizarre, brutal… the adjectives you could associate with this LONGGGGGGGGG show are about as endless as the show seemed to be. But despite its time span it was possibly the most eventful event WWE has ever put on. I’ll do my best to summarize it:

– WOKEN Matt Hardy won the Andre Battle Royal. With a little help from Bray Wyatt as the 2 embraced after and so began what COULD be a WONDERFUL alliance. The match was a clusterfuck as it was always going to be (30 guys in a ring at once and all) but the finish and the spot this story was given I personally loved. The crowd going mad for it too made it all the more DELIGHTFUL!

– Cedric Alexander beat Mustafa Ali to win the vacant Cruserweight title. Decent match but they’ve done much better work on 205 Live before.

– Naomi won the Women’s Battle royal in another underwhelming clusterfuck.

And then FINALLY the main show began:

– Seth Rollins (cool blue contacts and all) became a grand slam champion as he won the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz, also bettering Finn Balor in what was a super fun Mania show opener.

– in an unsurprisingly brilliant match Charlotte BEAT Asuka to retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship. Shocking, 10 minutes too short maybe but in hindsight, in my opinion (although I was gutted at the time) the right call. Even with Charlotte losing her title 2 days later, this win at Mania only further cements her legacy. Special mention also for her incredible, spell-binding entrance. Charlotte Flair IS Women’s Wrestling.

– it was at this point in the show that John Cena (who indeed stuck to his word and watched Wrestlemania as a fan, and was shown to high hilarity throughout the show sat ringside watching on) was told by a referee something that made him immediately jump from his seat, over the barricade and then sprint to the backstage area. It was never stated what the ref actually told him but it was presumed, certainly from the huge reaction of the crowd, that Cena was being told that THE UNDERTAKER WAS HERE!!!

– next match was the 4 way for the US title; Bobby Roode vs Rusev vs Jinder Mahal vs Randy Orton. Jinder won. Meh…

– following that was the best match of the entire show… no not Aj vs Nakamura but Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey… WOW OH WOW OH WOW!!! The very definition of exceeding expectations. The match was brilliant; it had every conceivable spot you could’ve dreamed of and then some. And above all else, Ronda Rousey was SENSATIONAL! Without question the best debut of anyone in Wrestling history. With all the pressure and spotlight that was on her I was so pleased. This was fantastic start to finish. Ronda tapped out Stephanie for the finish. Great great GREAT!

– Following that was always going to be tough, so spare a thought for the Smackdown Tag title 3 way of The Usos v The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers. Harper and Rowan’s ever-dominant triumph was sadly still in the shadow of the amazing bout before it.

– THEN… we had John Cena come out for a match. He was then told the match wasn’t on … and then the lights went out and… THE…. no, ELIAS came out. He sang a song, wound up Cena, Cena beat him up, and then Cena’s music played as he looked heartbroken at the prospect of his dream match not being on after all. It looked as if our dreams were over… and then… lights out, Taker’s hat and gloves appeared in the ring, a lightning bolt struck them, lights out… UNDERTAKER!!! 3 minutes, an indescribable entrance, 1 Chokeslam and 1 Tombstone Piledriver later and The Undertaker SQUASHED John Cena… and it was PERFECT.

– It was at this point the crowd seemed to die a little, and what had to this point potential to be one of the all time great Manias began to dip slightly…

– next match though saw Daniel Bryan make his long awaited in-ring return. As he and Shane McMahon beat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Match was ok, Dbryan was as good as we all remembered, Yes yes yes!

– Nia Jax won the Raw Women’s Championship from former friend Alexa Bliss. Only real result really given this awfully bad tasting storyline. Finish was a tremendous Samoan Drop from the middle rope.

– AJ Styles RETAINED the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura (whose entrance was spectacular; Alice Cooper’s guitarist and a handful of Violinists and drummers featured). This was an underwhelming (given its incredibly high expectations) but still ok match. The headlines after though were all about Nakamura’s low blow and attack on Styles after the match and his apparent show of respect gone sour. A heel turn for Nakamura was certainly not something I predicted but I’m excited at the prospect of it going forward.

– Then Braun Strowman and a 10 year old boy called Nicholas won the Raw Tag Team Championship from The Bar. As you do… (they gave them up the next night due to Nicholas’ busy schedule… in the 4th grade…).

– and finally after what felt like 3000 hours of an event, it was time for the main event. Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns. Where to start with this one… one thing that was clear is the crowd in New Orleans had decided to absolutely shit all over this match from the beginning. There were a variety of derogatory chants, multiple beach ball appearances in the crowd… yeah this could’ve been a 5 star classic but nobody in the arena would even give it the slightest bit of chance to entertain them at all.

An absolutely brutal match saw Brock hit Roman with a plethora of German Suplexes, FIVE F5’S (including one to the announce table) to which Roman kicked out of each time. Brock then hit Roman with hard elbows to the head ala Randy Orton at Summerslam 2016. And just like Orton did so before, Reigns bled FOR REAL absolutely EVERYWHERE! It was like something from a horror film as Roman’s crimson face then showed his true fury as he went on to hit Lesnar with multiple spears! Lesnar would though then pick Reigns up for a SIXTH F5 and BROCK LESNAR WON! With seemingly everyone convinced otherwise the unthinkable had happened!

A variety of details about Lesnar’s contract and the change to the match finish have since emerged. Far too many for me to explain. but yeah it was… weird. Lets see how it goes down at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia at the end of the month when Lesnar faces Reigns for the title in a steel cage.

This was absolutely bizarre booking to me at the time and it still is now. I’m fascinated to see how it goes for Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar going forward. For once I have absolutely no theory or no idea that I’m willing to get behind enough to believe and that I could use to try and explain why this happened. There’s plenty of possible reasons why maybe but nonetheless it was absolutely astonishing to watch.

And my main emotion upon watching it back was a personal sadness and sympathy for Roman Reigns as a man irl. Imagine turning up at the arena the day of Mania, having for months and months heard every man and his dog claim that you’re the man and this will be your moment… only to be told the plans have changed and this is what’s happening… gutted for him personally. The characters, the storyline not so much but don’t forget that none of this is Roman’s fault. The blame lies solely with the bookers.

So to follow an… eventful… Wrestlemania 34 we had a pretty great Raw. Call ups for Ember Moon, AOP and No Way Jose, returns from injury of Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe, and a huge return to WWE for BOBBY LASHLEY! Smackdown gave us Peyton Royce and Billie Kay making their way to Smackdown Live from NXT and making an immediate impact…

The IIconics attacked Charlotte Flair and left the Smackdown Women’s Champion laying and prone for a Money in the Bank cash in from Carmella and FINALLY Carmella is the new Smackdown Women’s Champion. After her official retirement just 24 hours prior PAIGE was announced as the new General Manager of Smackdown Live after Daniel Bryan had resigned from the role in order to become a full time active roster member once again. Paige’s first act as GM was to make the main event for the evening as Daniel Bryan vs AJ STYLES!!! This dream match was cut short though by an ambush from Shinsuke Nakamura on both men.

A recap episode of NXT featured a win for Kairi Sane and the arrival of the War Raiders tag team (fka War Machine). I feel both will be making a big impression on the NXT Championship scene in the upcoming months.

This Monday and Tuesday we have the annual superstar shake up that will see stars of Raw and Smackdown swapping shows, which is always good fun. Plus we are a few weeks away from the Greatest Royal Rumble event from Saudi Arabia which is looking like it should be one hell of a show! So even though Wrestlemania is behind us now the goings on and drama of the WWE looks set to continue to shock and wow us all for the foreseeable future… And I cannot wait!!!

In terms of what I will be producing as content for my blog my time off has given me time to have a rethink about what I write. So instead of doing individual reviews of Raw, Smackdown and NXT each week I will be releasing a weekly review of all things WWE each Friday. I’ll also be doing previews and reviews of every NXT Takeover and main roster Pay Per view as well as a monthly ‘ranking list’ similar to my previous blog on The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches. On top of all that I will also be doing a weekly post called (as is this one) ‘What’s on my Mind’ (Credit to JR on his podcast before for the name idea). This will just be a random blog based on whatever I have… well… on my mind at the time of writing about whatever is going on WWE related at that time.

I’ll also every now and then be putting out some different types of content whenever I have the time or enough interest to do so. So yeah that’s about all up to date. Once again thanks to everyone for your words and retweets and likes on all my blog posts. I hope you like what I write going forward just as much as I’m sure I’ll have fun writing it.

Josh.