Money In The Bank 2018: Preview & Predictions

Money In The Bank 2018 looks set to be a HUGE show! Not only with 2 ladder matches and a Last Man Standing WWE Title match on the card but given the nature of the show, and how much build-up it has received, it seems to me as if this event will set the tone for the rest of 2018 in terms of story’s and who comes out of the show as the top stars and in the top spots, and who more importantly are the two people that leave the event with a shiny new briefcase (not that it’s a given that they’ll take the briefcase beyond the event, as Dean Ambrose showed in 2016…). So ahead of a defining event in the WWE calendar here are my thoughts and predictions on all the matches that will go down in Chicago on Sunday night…

KICK OFF SHOW – Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) (C) v Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

2 tag teams here with the potential to run the division, but whilst Harper and Rowan in their current format have been pushed to the moon, and they’ve made this gimmick get over, Gallows and Anderson seem to have become ‘just another team’ as their WWE run has gone on. Some highlights for sure and whilst they’re one of my favourite teams personally they don’t or haven’t been given the chance to standout for any length that they deserve. The match I imagine wont be a classic but still should be fine for what it is, the result here seems very obvious though with the champions retaining, as the SANITY size shadow lays in the background of the Smackdown tag division.

Prediction = Bludgeon Brothers

Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Ember Moon v Charlotte Flair v Alexa Bliss v Becky Lynch v Lana v Naomi v Natalya v Sasha Banks

Not going to lie, but I have not a clue who is going to win this match. If you look at the two women’s champions at the moment, as I’ve mentioned I don’t really see Carmella dropping her title anytime soon given the time they’ve given to her character recently, and Ronda will have her title sewn up for some time surely. We COULD have Rousey’s “friend” Natalya win and turn on her friend with a future cash-in, we COULD have a Charlotte or Becky win and heel turn to follow, who knows!? Last year’s inaugural Women’s MITB was concluded with controversy when A MAN grabbed the briefcase, but it was used as a launchpad for Carmella and she used it to her advantage for the following 10 months or so, so expect whoever does take the briefcase to be a HUGE part of WWE women’s division going forward. This is my joint (as I’ll get on to) least confident prediction of the entire card. One thing I should say is the inclusion of Lana in this match absolutely terrifies me for a number of reasons, I hope none of them come to happen.

Prediction = Natalya

Daniel Bryan v Big Cass

So yes we have another Big Cass vs Daniel Bryan match, where Cass will move around at a near lethargic-pace and Bryan will work his absolute hardest to try and make this match into something passable. Look… here’s the thing… Daniel Bryan is Daniel Bryan, he’s great and everyone loves him… but this is a LONG term story for him (it’ll end well TRUST ME) so for now people just have to accept his spot at the moment, and they’ve put him against Big Cass, a guy they clearly have a lot of faith in (it’s another matter on how guided or not that is) in order for Bryan (as an ultra-babyface) to help get Cass over as a top heel. It seems at the moment to be a tough job for Bryan as Cass… well… just watch him in the ring and watch his promos and you’ll understand. I’m not saying he’s terrible but I also don’t see him as a top guy or someone you could have as a top end heel anytime soon. He’s 30 so there’s still time but… he needs to get better soon if he wants to be the main event guy he is being set up to be. So accept this match and feud for now people, and what comes after for both will be better I’ve no doubt, because this big man vs little man story they’re ramming to death SUCKS. And NOTHING involving Daniel Bryan ever sucks so that’s saying a lot.

Prediction = Daniel Bryan

Bobby Lashley v Sami Zayn

It seems to me as if they are trying to make Lashley into a star, but people just aren’t in to him. Sami has been set out to be the sacrificial lamb here, and whilst he’s a thoroughly entertaining heel the segment with Bobby’s “sisters” the other week on Raw was among the worst WWE segments in history, and why Sami did his best he’ll be too associated with it. A very much nothing feud, but I’m sure the match itself will be fine. Result wise I’m in no doubt Lashley will win, unless Zayn does something underhand to sneak one and continue the feud (which will be to the delight of nobody).

Prediction = Bobby Lashley

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (C) v Asuka

This is a match where for different reasons I cannot see how either can or should lose. Carmella has been given a real good spotlight recently, and taking the title from her so soon after winning it would kill a bit of her current momentum. Asuka… well she’s Asuka… obviously no longer undefeated and she hasn’t been the same star she was going into Wrestlemania since (neither has Charlotte tbh), but nonetheless I don’t see Carmella beating her clean. Yes. I know she did to Charlotte but even then it wasn’t entirely regular, so we could have a brutal Asuka kick or submission and the Empress reigns, or Carmella escapes and the feud continues. As it stands I’m more leaning towards that I see Carmella as more likely to keep the belt than to lose it, maybe The IIconics get involved somehow? There has even been strong talk about a certain former accomplice of The Princess of Staten Island making a shocking return to the company and getting involved in this match somehow, who knows… Expect shenanigans of some form but don’t be surprised if Asuka wins either.

Prediction = Carmella to retain

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (C) v Elias

This should be a real fun match. Seth Rollins has had some of the best matches of his WWE career in recent months, and has without doubt been the underrated star of 2018 (he’s rated sure, just not enough imo). As for Elias he has one of the best gimmicks in the company right now, and will surely be a great foil to the heroic Rollins. Rollins is more than capable of getting a fun to good match out of a frankly average in-ring worker like Elias (he had a great match with Miz recently so it’s possible) so as a contest it should be really good. As for the result I could see either one, and I’d be fine with either one in all honesty. Rollins has been spoken as a possible Summerslam opponent for Lesnar, so perhaps losing the title to Elias will allow him to do that soon enough, and Elias would be great with and for the IC title. And if not, then obviously the superbly-talented Rollins will surely continue to raise the profile of the belt as its holder.

Prediction = Seth Rollins

Jinder Mahal v Roman Reigns

Oh boy… so a year on since winning the WWE Championship in the same arena Jinder Mahal is the one chosen as the food for the Big Dog (“big dog” my ASS). I can’t even imagine the reaction from the Chicago crowd that Reigns will get, and I too cannot see them caring much for this match. But providing this is somewhere in the middle of the card I have no issues here, at this point I no longer care about Roman and am just biding time before he finally has his day against Lesnar. Possibly lock of the night this one result wise.

Prediction = Roman Reigns

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) v Shinsuke Nakamura – Last Man Standing Match

This COULD have been the best feud in the history of WWE. It has not been. The in-ring stuff has been underwhelming (although the expectations were incredibly high), and the creative around that has been average. Heel Nakamura is great, AJ is great, but STILL we wait for THE match between the 2 in WWE. Perhaps it’ll be this one… I hope so because if there is another underwhelming match or a screwy finish between these 2 I’ll lose my fucking shit!!! He’s had SOOOOOOOO many chances at the title now it’s getting a bit too much for me, they HAVE to put the belt on SHINSUKE NAKAMURA…. SURELY??? As good as Styles is it is Nakamura who needs this title now… imo…

Prediction = Shinsuke Nakamura is the new WWE Champion

Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax (C) v Ronda Rousey

Similar sort of logic from me with this match as the other women’s title match, I don’t think the champion should be losing her belt so soon… but I also can’t see how the challenger doesn’t win the title. This match sees no normal challenger though… Ronda Rousey is the biggest mainstream star in the entire company, she’s got her first singles match, it’s on a ppv, and its for the championship. Again I don’t see Ronda not winning the belt without some form of interference. Wouldn’t rule out a cash in from Ronda’s “friend” Natalya during or after this one too… But the wrestling fan in me is worried about this match. From an in-ring standpoint I fear it could be far from pretty. Ideally I’d have it go less than 1 minute, Jax on top before Ronda hits her back and slams her down, Armbar, Jax taps. That’s what I would do anyway. But I’ve heard this match may go a little long (maybe to cater for any interference’s) so we shall see.

Prediction = Ronda Rousey is the new Raw Women’s Champion

Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Braun Strowman v Finn Bálor v The Miz v Rusev v Bobby Roode v Kevin Owens v Big E or Kofi Kingston or Xavier Woods v Samoa Joe

Apologies but once again I really don’t know who will win this match. What is for sure though is this is one of the most star-studded Money in the Bank ladder matches for some time, and given the vast array of talent on show it should be a fantastic watch. Expect a Coupe de Grace from off a ladder, expect a high spot involving the New Day, expect Braun to cause absolute devastation to his opponents. The only semi-rumour I have heard is for The Miz to win and cash in on a later date (likely Summerslam) on his long-term rival Daniel Bryan after that fairytale win, but that requires a lot of ifs and buts so we’ll see, does sound like a logical and possible scenario though. I’d honestly be happy with any of the participants in this one winning, but do not forget that Baron Corbin has his run stopped with a failed cash in last year, so they aren’t above doing that either. Although given that happened last year I see it as unlikely they would do it so soon again. This will be a fascinating watch that is for sure, a match that is going to make the winner into a MEGAstar.

Prediction = The Miz

So as I have said then MITB 2018 will be a huge ppv in terms of the direction that the WWE goes in over the foreseeable future. It will be a night where people will be set up on their path to stardom over the next few months. The Chicago crowd will be lively to say the least so they’ll need something excellent to watch before they could turn nasty, Roman vs Jinder going on late in the show, Lana and Big Cass wins, Nia vs Ronda going terribly long and ANOTHER AJ vs Shinsuke screwy finish… these are all things I would not put beyond the WWE doing, as bad as all that sounds. I am not going in to this show expecting a great one, it has a potentially great line-up but given the WWE’s non-NXT recent track record of shows, this might not be so great. Let’s see, one thing is for sure, it’ll be eventful.

Josh.

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

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

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

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

10. ELIAS

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

9. SHAYNA BASZLER

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

8. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

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

7. ANDRADE ‘CIEN’ ALMAS

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

6. BRAUN STROWMAN

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

5. SETH ROLLINS

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

4. AJ STYLES

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

3. JOHNNY GARGANO

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

2. ALEISTER BLACK

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

1.ADAM COLE

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

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

WWE Matches of the year 2018 SO FAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Moments of the year 2018 SO FAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

WWE week in review – May 25 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

RAW:

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

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

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

Tuesday:

SMACKDOWN=

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

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

Wednesday:

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

NXT=

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

Thursday:

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

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

WWE week in review – May 18 2018

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

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

Sunday= not much happened ngl

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday=

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

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

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

Wednesday=

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

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

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

NXT:

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

Thursday=

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

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

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

Josh.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backlash Review

In my preview I said Backlash 2018 had a good card and the potential to be a real good show. It did have a good line-up, on paper at least… it turned out to be the worst WWE ppv of 2018 by a mile. Even worse than the GRR with all its Pro-Saudi stuff etc. Backlash 2018 was a show with some bad wrestling, 1 standout match and some absolutely god awful finishes.

We began the action with our first match of the card, which saw Ruby Riott get a win over Bayley (who had to fight against The Riott squad on her own after Sasha beforehand in a segment with Bayley was made clear that she wouldn’t be helping her)… meh… the match was not good at all.

The main card began with Seth Rollins defending his Intercontinental Championship against The Miz. An action packed opener saw Rollins hit plenty of his signature moves, and then as he went to hit a big knee attack on his opponent he instead hit his knee on the ring post on the apron. Later on Miz would target the knee of Rollins with a Figure 4 leg lock, they had a staredown, they exchanged offensive moves with one another whilst also exchanging figure 4 leg locks, and then eventually Miz his a Skull crushing finale but only got a 2 count! Later on there was a point when what looked like it was going to be a suplex ended up as another Skull crushing finale from Miz but once again it was only enough for a nearfall! The commentary team were going absolutely wild for this and plenty of references throughout the match were made to the inury to Rollins’ knee but it was the IC Champion who was able to use a small window of opportunity to hit the Curb Stomp and get the 1,2,3. Seth retains. AWESOME (sorry Miz) match! Seth really is knocking it out the park recently in the ring and as a character and he was able to put on another epic here, even in a match with The Miz… who isn’t exactly an in-ring general…

After a decent video recapping the whole Nia and Alexa story so far we had the Wrestlemania rematch for the Raw Women’s Championship. For most of it Bliss beating Nia (which was so stupid), Bliss’ main moment of the match was hitting Jax with a ddt on the steel steps on the outside, she tried her most to lift Nia into the ring but was clearly unable to (if this was part of the act or not idk). In general the wrestling between these 2 was not so good, surprising as they are best friends irl so a lack of in-ring chemistry is a bit of a shock, and much like their Mania contest this one too underwhelmed. After trying mutliple times to set up the same finish as the Mania match (Samoan Drop from the middle rope) Jax settled for a regular version or the move and this was enough for her to retain her title. After the match Jax cur a promo that was more a promo for the WWE’s ‘Be a star’ campaign than her character, the dialogue was as cringey as you could get, and the crowd actually began to turn on Nia at this point. Why you couldn’t just push her as a Monster ala Braun Strowman idk… bad match, awful promo. Alexa suffered a legit shoulder injury during the match to make it worse.

Samoa Joe was then shown in an interview backstage (his appearance got a big cheer from the crowd). He cut a great promo on Roman Reigns, saying he would ‘turn the big dog into a … Puppy’ which I was particularly entertained by.

Next match was Jeff Hardy defending the United States title against Randy Orton. Jeff Won. This was about as a basic a wrestling match as you could get, which is a shame from 2 veterans who are more than capable of putting on a great match. It was fairly short but it really wasn’t anything notable at all.

So then… we had a segment that was about as random as you could get… essentially we had Elias in the ring attempting to give us another ‘performance’, but he was interrupted by (in no particular order) the entrances of No Way Jose, The New Day, Bo Dallas, Breezango, Titus Worldwide, Rusev Day and Bobby Roode. Roode ended the segment by giving Elias a Glorious ddt, and then everyone bar the heels left and danced away along with No Way Jose’s conga line. I don’t know how to explain this really, it was so random, so bizzare and so unexpected. And in the early hours of the morning I did not need a long ass segment mid way through a show that had sucked so far and all I wanted was the remaining matches. Weird.

A great video for Big Cass and Daniel Bryan’s story so far was played before their match. Bryan won by making Cass tap out, which suprised me as I had thought they would protect Cass a little more whilst still giving Bryan a big win. The match was… fine… they needed more time (was only 7 minutes) I felt to make it special but it wasn’t (once again) anything special. Cass attacked Bryan after the match to make it clear this isn’t the end of this one… It was a big chance for Cass to do something, essentially he did nothing. Sad.

Next match was Charlotte vs Carmella. Charlotte once again proved she’s the best female wrestler on the planet, Carmella once again demonstrated her continually good character work, but this match just didn’t click as well. Carmella had Flair in a rest-hold for long periods, which yes was good heel stuff but the crowd were left absolutely dead as a result , they did though come alive a tad more once Charlotte got back on the attack. The finish saw Charlotte’s knee buckle as she came off the ropes for a Moonsault, Carmella then attacked the injured knee of Flair and then covered her for the pin. And that was the finish. And it was so underwhelming and a little daft. Yeah… not good this.

So next we had AJ vs Nakamura… yes it was next in the show… THE WWE FUCKING CHAMPIONSHIP didn’t main event this show!!!!!!!

Shinsuke continued to show off just how good and comfortable he seems as a heel, one nasty spot in this no dq match saw AJ throw a chair at Nakamura as he attempted the Kinshasa, but the chair then bounced off the incoming knee of The King of Strong Style and right back into the cheek area of Styles, busting him open. Both men then as I widely expected low blowed one another, and then soon after they both kicked eachother in the balls at the same time which caused both men to fall down in a heap of pain. The ref then proceeded to count both men down for the 10 and the match ended in a draw. Yep… I shit you not… a NO DQ MATCH ENDED IN A DOUBLE FUCKING COUNTOUT! So the first match underwhelmed, the 2nd was a tad better with a shit countout finish, and this one again underwhelmed and was capped off with a suck finish. Wow…

Next match was Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Couple of nice minor things here; KO and Sami came out to Zayn’s theme for a change which was nice, Lashley was put over for his strength and athleticism by the commentators, Coach (as awful as he is) said too on commentary that Braun wanted to be ‘the guy’… which at the time at least sounding promising… ANYWAY the match itself saw KO be ran over (almost literally) by Braun on a number of occasions in a repeat of the recent spot on Raw where Strowman simply runs at Owens as hard as he can, Lashley eventually made a hot tag to his partner and as expected they dominated. The match ending saw Owens and Zayn both try and escape from the match with both men looking as if they were feeding the other to the wolves (so perhaps their friendship isn’t as good as it seems… again….). So after they exchanged throwing eachother to and then escaping from Lashley and Braun it was finally Lashley who did his delayed suplex on Owens for the win. And for good measure Zayn was powerslammed by Braun afterwards as the big babyfaces stood tall. This was fine I guess, but by this point it would take soemthing pretty big to save this show. The main event… well…

And so… Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns was the main event. Boy oh boy where do I even begin??? Joe beat up Roman before the bell had even rung, he put him through a table and generally battered him, despite barely being able to stand Roman told the ref he was good to go and the bell was rung, Joe beat on him some more… but it wasn’t power move after power move, it was resthold after resthold and strike after strike. There was little excitement. There were audible chants of ‘BORING’ and ‘Beat the traffic’ from the crowd as scores of fans were leaving the arena as the match was still ongoing, so much so that there were parts of the arena that had it’s lighting faded to black so as to obscure from view the empty seats. At around 20 past 4 am in the morning I didn’t need a boring af main event, it was so bad. I assumed it was going on last so as to set up an amazing angle or because something huge and shocking was to happen, oh how naive I was. Joe had Roman in his submission finisher for a long period as just as Roman began to fade SUDDENLY (to the surprise of nobody) he miraculously was revived and began his comeback… and yep as you guessed Reigns reversed a Muscle Buster from Samoa Joe, hit the Spear, 123. Roman Wins. He celebrates. Show goes off the air. THAT WAS IT.

I do try and see most things, particularly wrestling related, with a positive mindset. But it was impossible to be overtly positive about such a dreadful show. I was so happy I stayed up for this…………………………………………..

I don’t know how to properly describe how awful this show was. Money In The Bank now needs to be one hell of a show, else this momentum WWE seemed to have developed in recent weeks will die a quick and painful death. THIS WAS A BAD BAD BAD SHOW. Not much more to it.

Josh.

Ranking the Top 10 Hell in a Cell matches of ALL TIME

My favorite match type in WWE is Hell in a Cell. It has EVERYTHING you could want in a wrestling match; it brings with it drama, danger, excitement, storytelling, weapons, violence, crazy spots, and as we have seen in the past (as I’ll go through during this list) some of the most historic moments in WWE history. So with that in mind I thought it only right I begin my monthly top 10 countdown by recapping the best matches that have ever taken place in ‘the devil’s playground’, or maybe it should be called ‘the deadman’s playground’ as *SPOILER ALERT* The Deadman features on this list… a lot…

10. Batista (C) v Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship; Survivor Series 2007 = 4.5*

I remember watching this match as a kid, it was the culmination of what was an incredible rivalry during 2007 over the old big gold belt. It was in fact the 5th one-on-one meeting between the two, and with one win each and 2 draws before them this was the rubber match to end them all, back when Hell in a Cell matches were only used when required, rather than throwing them away to whatever rivalry was round at the time when the ppv came about… but anyway, back to this match.

The two fierce rivals exchanged their brutal offensive moves early on, both men were separately busted WIDE open, there were nearfalls from both men including notable spots where Batista hit Taker with a Batista Bomb through a table, and then Taker would go on to hit two Tombstone Piledriver’s to The Animal, the later of which was hit onto steel steps that Batista had earlier threw into the ring. Upon the Tombstone onto the steps it appeared as if Undertaker would once again become World Heavyweight Champion; the ref counted 1, 2, but before he could count the 3 he was pulled out of the ring by a cameraman. That Cameraman was in fact EDGE (a man who had also featured as a part in the Batista-Undertaker rivalry having in the same year faced both for the championship until an injury had forced him to give the belt up) this marked his return to WWE. Edge would go on to hit Undertaker with a camera, followed by the use of a steel chair onto Taker whilst his head was lying on the steel steps, and he would then drag Batista over Undertaker to gift the win to The Animal. He would follow this up further by hitting Undertaker once again with a chair after the cell had been raised. It was a shame a great match ended with a screwy finish but it didn’t take away the magic that both men had produced. For the record; Edge would go on to beat both men in a triple threat match to reclaim the World title less than a month later. In this case crime DID pay for the Ultimate Opportunist.

9. Dean Ambrose v Seth Rollins; Hell in a Cell 2014 = 4.5*

Another great example of when a Hell in a Cell match was worthy of the story between the competitors that were in it. This came just months after Rollins had turned his back on both Ambrose and Roman Reigns to end The Shield and join The Authority as their ‘chosen one’. Dean came out first and would make his way into the ring along with a plethora of weapons, before then making his way to the top of the cell itself. The then Mr Money in the Bank tentatively came out with his lieutenants ‘J & J Security’ (Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble) by his side. And after initially teasing that he would be willing to go up and meet Ambrose he instead told Mercury and Noble to go up and “get him”. Unsurprisingly this ended with Dean hitting both men with the kendo stick he had in hand, Rollins then made his way up and the two brawled, Seth then took the kendo stick and hit Ambrose with it with the aid of Mercury and Noble, and after Dean did his fightback from the attack Seth would try and slither away from The Lunatic Fringe by climbing back down the other side of the cell. Ambrose would go to try and catch him, but with both exchanging strikes as they were hanging from the cell they both fell and through the announce tables that were below them.

As the EMT’s came down to take away both men on stretchers it was Dean who broke off from his backboard and went immediately to attack Rollins, flinging him to the floor and off of his own stretcher. Ambrose threw Rollins into the outside wall of the cell, he scared away Noble and Mercury, and then demanded that the nearby referees lock the cell door… and THEN the bell rung to begin the match (yes… after all that chaos the match itself hadn’t even started yet)!!! What followed was MORE chaos between two bitter rivals, both hit each other with a steel chair and Seth’s MITB briefcase, Dean hit Rollins with an elbow drop that sent Seth through a table that he was placed across on outside the ring, Corporate Kane (stood on the outer side of the cell) sprayed a fire extinguisher into Ambrose’s face, Rollins buckle-bombed Ambrose through a table leading to a nearfall, he later went to Curb Stomp Dean onto his briefcase but Ambrose escaped and hit Seth with it instead, before then grabbing two center-blocks (bricks) and was going to hit Seth with them (as Seth had done to Dean leading up to the match), but then with Ambrose seemingly on the verge on inflicting the finishing blow to his former Shield brother… suddenly all the lights go out. There was some weird, eerie foreign language being spoken from somewhere, a light with smoke and some form of hologram appeared in the middle of the ring as Dean Ambrose looked on bemused, and then from the smoke came Bray Wyatt who unleashed his attack. The Eater of Worlds then hit Dean with a Sister Abigail before Rollins then crawled over to make the cover and steal the win. After Rollins had made a quick escape, Wyatt gave Ambrose another Sister Abigail before sitting in his signature pose and making an immediate impact upon his return to action (he had been missing for around a month and had in the meantime ‘set free’ his former Wyatt Family brothers Harper and Rowan).

8. Chris Jericho v Triple H; Judgement Day 2002 = 4.5*

This was the blow-off match in what had become an incredibly personal rivalry that entailed the undisputed championship, the main event of Wrestlemania, Jericho forming a business relationship with Triple H’s wife Stephanie, and now Jericho was the hitman for Triple H’s disgruntled Father-in-law Vince McMahon. Again this was another perfect example of when a rivalry needed the cell to contain it.

The match itself was fantastic. It began with trash-talk after a stare-down between the two and a brawl, Y2J would then go on to use a ladder he had retrieved from under the ring to attack Triple H and despite a fightback Jericho then launched The Game into the side of the cell. A notable spot in this match would see Triple H throw Jericho around, causing him to crash into the match referee Tim White and as the ref was stood on the ring apron on the outer side of the ropes, he went flying into the cell wall. Jericho then hit Triple H with a steel chair and went for a pin but Tim White was still down. Furious at this Jericho took his anger on White by throwing him into the cell again and then beating him down and busting him open. This caused fellow officials to open the cell door in order to get emergency officials in to treat the bloodied referee. Triple H would hit Chris Jericho with a Spinebuster as the refs and emergency officials were tending to Tim White, The Game kicked a chair into Jericho’s face and then hit ‘the Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla’ , before then getting his signature Sledgehammer and hitting a now busted open Jericho with it. He then went for a cover but STILL the referee was OOA. A distraught Jericho then crawled out of the still-open cell door before slamming it in Triple H’s face.

The two eventually brawled towards the announce tables, before Triple H hit a ddt to send Jericho through one of them. This was latterly followed by both men making their way to the top of the cell, with Triple H hitting Jericho with a barbed wire-covered bat he had carried up with him, Y2J returned the favour then and did the same before locking Triple H in a Walls of Jericho on top of the cell, but he refused the calls of another referee (whom had joined both men on top of the steel structure) to submit. The brutal battle concluded when HHH hit Y2J with a low blow, another shot with the barbed wire bat, and finally a Pedigree into the steel to give him the win.

7. Kurt Angle (C) v The Rock v Triple H v Stone Cold Steve Austin v Undertaker v Rikishi, WWE Championship; Armageddon 2000 = 4.5*

The story going into this was the-then-WWE Commissioner Mick Foley made this match to cater for the convoluted nature of the WWE title scene at that time. Vince McMahon accused Foley of making this a HIAC out of bitterness of his losses and the injuries he suffered years prior in a match with Undertaker and also in his match earlier that year in the cell with Triple H. In the build up to the match Vince had tried to convince the 6 participants to not take part in the match (with McMahon fearing for his company’s ‘assets’). During the match itself Vince and his stooges even brought a removal truck to the ringside area and attempted to bring down the cell. The way the truck was parked saw the back of it towards the ring, and so the bed of the truck (which just so happened to be filled with wood chips) was next to the cell. This led to an awe-inspiring visual that would see Undertaker (who ominously claimed he would ‘make someone famous’ in the match leading up to it) Chokeslam Rikishi from the top of the cell onto the bed of wood chippings below.

In terms of the match itself it was 5 of the biggest stars there has ever been in the company (and Rikishi… sorry big guy…) inside a Hell in a Cell structure (and outside of it where brawling between the participants took place too throughout the match), with weapons, blood and every HIAC match spot you could think of (apart from someone going though the cell roof, which thankfully didn’t take place in this one)! The finish of the match saw The Rock hit a Rock Bottom to the champion Angle, Austin then breaking up the pinfall attempt before hitting the people’s champion with a Stunner, but his pin was broken up by Triple H. Austin retaliated by hitting a neckbreaker to The Game that took both men away from the main action, and during this Kurt Angle sneaked over to cover The Rock and somehow retain his WWE Championship. Although Austin then hit Angle with a Stunner to close the show, he had not reclaimed the title that he wanted… yet…

6. Edge v Undertaker; Summerslam 2008 = 4.5*

This was yet another personal rivalry that encapsulated the main event of that year’s Wrestlemania for the championship on its way. This feud stemmed all the way back to over a year before this when Edge had cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on The Deadman to rob the world title from him. And after Taker had previously been banished from WWE as a stipulation of losing a previous world title match to Edge, his then wife Vickie Guerrero (in her role as Smackdown GM) reinstated Taker in response to Edge’s infidelity with their wedding planner. She then placed Edge in a HIAC match with The Phenom in the main event of that year’s Summerslam.

Weapons-a-plenty in this one too. Both hit one another with steel steps, Edge put Undertaker through a table with a chair-assisted elbow drop, and then would Spear Taker through one of the cell walls and then again through an announce table. A 3rd Spear back in the ring would still not be enough to give Edge the win. The Rated R Superstar mocked Undertaker by performing his ‘Old School’ move, but Undertaker responded by then Chokeslamming Edge from the top rope through TWO tables (placed on top of one another) that were set up on the outside of the ring. Taker would finish off his fallen opponent with a con-chair-to (hitting an opponent on the floor that is laying with their head on a steel chair with another chair to the head, a move which had become a trademark of Edge himself) and a Tombstone Piledriver for the victory. Undertaker was then making his way back down the entrance ramp after his win, but looked up and saw his beaten opponent, via the Titantron above him, still moving. This angered Taker so much he went back to the ring, grabbed Edge and dragged him to the top of a ladder that was set in the ring, and then Chokeslammed him off the top of it. Edge as a result of the impact actually went straight through the ring mat! Undertaker then made his way down from the top of the ladder, knelt down with his arms outstretched and summoned flames to encapsulate the giant whole that the impact from Edge’s fall had left in the ring. Undertaker had condemned his opponent and, as was well put by JR on commentary, Edge had been “sent to Hell”!

5. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) v Undertaker; Hell in a Cell 2015 = 4.75*

A rivalry that first began 13 years prior reached a whole new level when Brock Lesnar famously ended The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak in 2014. Taker would gain revenge by costing Lesnar the WWE title over a year later, and then (in controversial circumstances to say the least) The Deadman won the rematch at Summerslam in 2015 to set up the rubber match in the trilogy for the Hell in a Cell ppv that October. The various confrontations between the two had been nothing but brutal, but this match was another level.

Undertaker at one point slammed Lesnar into a ring post thus causing him to bleed absolutely EVERYWHERE! Brock would later hit back with a steel chair attack that led Taker to bleed too. Taker hit a chair to Lesnar’s throat for a nearfall pin attempt, Brock twice hit Undertaker with the F5 but twice it was not enough to keep him down. Brock hit Taker with steel steps, Taker locked the Hell’s Gate submission in on Brock but he escaped. Lesnar then chose to remove the cover of the ring mat so that the hard, ring floor was left exposed but it was first Taker who took advantage of this, hitting Lesnar with a Chokeslam and then a Tombstone for a nearfall. And finally to finish the match there was some wonderful storytelling; Lesnar hit Taker with a low blow (as Taker had done to cost Lesnar the WWE title and then later in their match at Summerslam when the ref’s back was turned) before hitting him with, onto the exposed floor, a third F5 of the match (just as many as it took to beat Taker at Wrestlemania 30) and Brock Lesnar won the match. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT STUFF! The aftermath saw Taker taking in the standing ovation he was receiving from the adoring crowd, before The Wyatt Family came out to attack and eventually dragged him away in what was a sad (kayfabe) ending to the last great stand of a legend.

4. Triple H (C) v Cactus Jack, WWE Championship (if Cactus Jack loses he must retire); No Way Out 2000 = 4.75*

In the early 2000s Triple H’s run as one of the top guys in the company was in its blossoming phase. He was the champion, he was the top heel, but he still wasn’t IT yet. Enter Mankind/Mick Foley who, after the beatdown and provocation of Triple H & wife Stephanie, transformed himself into his darker former persona. An incredibly brutal match a month or so prior at the Royal Rumble was followed by this re-match that would see Triple H as the champion facing Cactus Jack, who was putting his career on the line versus the prize of being the champion & going on to main event Wrestlemania & realize his dream. We had seen Triple H have a brutal match with Cactus Jack, we had seen Mick Foley go through the cell roof, but both these happened here AGAIN! It was a rollercoaster ride that had viewers on tender hooks throughout and wondering what madness Cactus Jack would come up with next. But in the end it was The Game who crawled his way to keeping his title and “retiring” an emotional Mick Foley, who received a standing ovation from the crowd who assumed they were waving him goodbye with his Wrestlemania main event dreams crushed………… They were very wrong of course but at the time, for what this was, it was beautifully done and served every purpose it had very well indeed. It was the making of Triple H as a top guy, and only further cemented the legacy of ‘Mrs Foley’s baby boy’.

3. Shawn Michaels v Undertaker, winner faces the WWE Champion for the title at Survivor Series (the next ppv); In Your House: Badd Blood 1997 = 5*

One month prior to the Montreal Screwjob, HBK had another unforgettable match, but this time for much more positive reasons. This was the very first Hell in a Cell match, and was also one of the most eventful matches in WWE history. It had pretty much everything! A brash and cocky Michaels quickly became a scared wreck as the enormity of the Cell and his opponent finally dawned on him. Undertaker punished Michaels early on, but Shawn responded with a suicide dive to Taker into the cell, Steel Steps shot to the head and a Piledriver onto them too, as well as chair shots to Undertaker’s back. This was all only enough for the then European Champion Michaels to get a 2 count. He continued his offence until he was stopped by a big boot from Taker, he charged towards Taker not long after but was instead flipped over the ropes to the outside, and HBK fell onto a cameraman, which temporarily cut the view of the show for the audience at home. In his fury Michaels attacked the cameraman, which led for the cell door to be opened so he could be treated by the emergency officials. In the meantime Shawn hit Sweet Chin Music to the Undertaker, but he completely no-sold it and sat up in typical fashion immediately.

Both men then made their way out of the open cell door, Undertaker sling-shotted Michaels into one of the outside walls of the cell… TWICE (which led to HBK being busted open). Eventually Michaels aimed to escape Undertaker’s grasp by climbing up the cell wall, only for Undertaker to follow him to the top of the giant steel structure. With the fear/excitement of the unknown building (remember this was the first ever HIAC) Taker backdropped HBK onto the Cell roof, he threw him again on to the steel, and then as Michaels was left hanging from the edge of the cell on the far side Undertaker stood on his hand enough that it made him fall from the side of the top of the cell and through the announce table that was beneath him. The crowd went absolutely wild for this, and it was awesome. Taker made his way back down from the top of the cell, and led Michaels back into the ring, at which point the previously opened cell door was re-locked. HBK then had to suffer a huge Chokeslam from the top, and then he was absolutely SMASHED by a massive Steel Chair shot as the end looked to finally be near… and then the most amazing part of this whole match.. and as good as it was the main talking point of one of the best matches WWE had ever produced… wasn’t about either man in the match… as what followed The Undertaker signifying that the end was indeed near… was the greatest debut in WWE history. You know what’s coming here right? This moment was so incredible I’ll just put the commentary from some guy named Vince McMahon that called the action:

“It’s all over, now will come the Tombs- (lights go out) … well… (music plays)… oh my god wait a minute, it’s Paul Bearer, it’s Paul Bearer and that… THAT’S GOTTA BE… THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE… THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!!! (Undertaker looks on in absolute disbelief) … oh my god he just ripped the door off its hinges!

Jim Ross: look at the size of this human being, or is that a human being?

(Kane stands in the ring eye to eye with his brother Undertaker)

VM: Kane, that’s gotta be Kane, The Undertaker , looking at him, looking to the eyes of that giant who stands in front of him, is that his younger brother?

JR: HES HUGE WHOEVER HE IS! HE’S AS BIG AS THE UNDERTAKER!

Kane then makes flames rise from the 4 ring posts before he kicks The Undertaker in the stomach and Tombstone’s him before leaving. HBK then crawls over and covers the deadman for the win as he is then dragged to the back by Chyna and Triple H. Michael’s was going to Survivors Series to make EVEN MORE history, and the 20 plus year WWE career of Kane had begun. One of the best WWE matches in history, the best debut of all time, and about as much of every form of entertainment you could ask for in one match. Absolutely superb.

2. Triple H v Undertaker, Special Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels; Wrestlemania 28 (2012) = 5*

Having reviewed this match already a few weeks ago as part of my Undertaker Wrestlemania matches countdown blog, I had absolutely no problem at all with watching it once again. ‘The End of an Era’ saw two of the all time greats (at this point both in veteran status for sure) and the two most synonymous superstars with the HIAC contest put on one of the most highly regarded matches in Wrestlemania history. So much drama, violence and storytelling going on during this half hour masterclass of sports entertainment. The added element of Michaels as referee too only added to the drama, and the infamous Sweet Chin Music into a Pedigree that saw Undertaker kick out at about as close to 3 as you could possibly get is still a moment that will live on forever. Obviously in the end The Undertaker kept The Streak intact, but the mutual respect between all 3 involved here, culminating in the iconic image of HBK, Taker and Triple H stood arms around each other on the rampway is historic to say the least. I was very VERY close to making this my number 1 best Undertaker Wrestlemania match, and I was VERY close to making this number 1 in this list, but a masterclass in professional wrestling kept this match from being Taker’s best Mania match. And indeed it would be The Undertaker in the match that denies Triple H top spot this time, but in this case his dance partner was not Shawn Michaels, but a certain somebody who would cement his legacy and Hall of Fame career all in one particular (and for him very nearly fateful) night in Pittsburgh…

1. Mankind v Undertaker; King of the Ring 1998 = UNLIMITED*!

I don’t think I need to go into any great detail about this match, one of the most famous in WWE history. It’s my favourite match of all time, for as much as I love pure wrestling and storytelling I would watch this match over and over again if I could, every single time I do it astounds me. The Undertaker (who, you may have noticed by reading this list, is quite the performer in Hell in a Cell matches) was the victor in this one, but this night did and will forever belong to one man, no not Kane who won his maiden WWE Championship later in the evening and not Undertaker after his win, but June 28th 1998 will always be the day of Michael Francis Foley.

If Mick Foley had retired 1 second before he made his way out for this match he had, up to that point, a hall of fame worthy career to look back on. If Mick Foley had of made his wrestling debut the night after this match took place he will have been more than worthy of being in the Hall of Fame. He had to wait until April 6th 2013 but they should have given him the accolade (along with a Knighthood, a Nobel Prize, the freedom of the city of Pittsburgh and every single other possible reward) immediately after the bell mercifully ended this match. With a full technical analysis unnecessary I will just tell you to seek out the footage of this match IMMEDIATELY. And in fact I will simply write for you the notes I took whilst watching this match (for around the 200th time in my life). This is what I got down,word-for-word, and as summary’s go I think this does the job pretty well:

Mankind off the Cell

Mankind through the Cell

Mankind onto thumbtacks… TWICE!

CARNAGE… INCREDIBLE… THE BEST!

Josh..