Backlash: Preview & Predictions

So as much as some of you may not be aware there is indeed a PROPER WWE ppv this Sunday. And although maybe not as star studded as recent events it is shaping up to be an intriguing one. As mentioned this will be the first regular ppv that is co-branded for some time, so it’ll be interesting to see who they give the big moments and spotlights too. So lets run down the card then…

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins ( C ) v The Miz

Seth Rollins I feel is having the time of his life. He’s probably the 3rd top guy on Raw right now on the good guy side (behind Braun and I guess you have to count Roman), so he’s one of the main players but without the pressure of having to carry the company as world champion as he did do in 2015. He’s producing some of his finest in-ring work to date over the last 6 months or so, ever since The Shield mini-reunion he’s really looked like ‘Monday Night Rollins’. This ongoing feud with The Miz and his former whipping boys is now looking like it will reach it’s end at Backlash (with Miz now on Smackdown), and with Finn Balor and the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin all as potential future IC title challengers the future for both Seth and his championship looks bright indeed.

Prediction: Seth Rollins to retain

Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax ( C ) v Alexa Bliss

The feud before Mania was good, but the storyline and the fat-shaming I was uncomfortable with. I just felt it unnecessary to use that as an issue when they could’ve just used that these two were best friends, Alexa was the champion, Nia wanted to be the champion, and there you have it. But I must say to see Nia win the title at Wrestlemania and her as champion now is GREAT, and the ‘Public Service Announcement’ promos Bliss has run the past two weeks (were she acts as the babyface and gets all emotional whilst recalling stories of when Nia was a bully etc.) have been great also. So still the tone is uncomfortable a little for me, but it is entertaining I must admit. The last match was fine, I can’t see this being much different. As Great as Alexa is (and yes I use a capital G on great for a reason) it is WAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY to early for Nia Jax to lose her title. Nor should she for a long long time. And she shouldn’t ever lose it to anyone that isn’t called Ronda Rousey.

Prediction: Nia Jax to retain

Daniel Bryan v Big Cass

A classic big man versus little man match up. This match will quality wise be all about Big Cass, it’s pretty obvious that Daniel Bryan will be his typical excellent self, and this is probably the biggest match of his career arguably in terms of a singles match for Cass. The build up has been a bit short, and a bit of nothingness at times, but hey lets be happy we have Bryan in a big singles match on a ppv once again, and if Cass performs well it will only speed up the figurative rocket he has behind him at the moment. Wouldn’t be surprised if Cass gets the big win here, but I personally wouldn’t have Daniel Bryan eat a loss for a LONG time yet, or to anyone else that wasn’t the or as part of a WWE Championship match. Hopefully.

Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella ( C ) v Charlotte Flair

Carmella as champion has been exactly as I thought she’d be, sneaky, brash and arrogant. Great stuff. But similar to the dynamic with the Raw Women’s title match on this card, the champion needs to be keeping her title reign going for WAAAAYYYYYY longer than she has up to this point, despite the obvious talents of the challenger. I feel all the big money matches on the Smackdown Women’s side involve Charlotte and not Carmella, and with the first nod being made this past week towards Charlotte being 1 title reign away from tying the great Trish Stratus as a 7 time champion maybe they could spring a surprise here (feels odd to call a win for Charlotte Flair, the greatest WWE female in-ring performer of all time, a surprise)… but I doubt it.

Prediction: Carmella JUST to retain (for now…)

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy ( C ) v Randy Orton

Two of the most universally popular superstars on the roster feuding for the mid-card title of the blue brand says a lot about the quality of the roster of particularly Smackdown at the moment. Jeff and Randy can both still go, and a full decade since they were feuding for the WWE Championship here they both are again squaring off with one another. This incarnation of the feud has seen both men show mutual respect whilst still trying to one-up one another. And of course we had Randy hit Jeff with an RKO on the go-home show this past week. The match will be fine, the feud has been fine, it’ll probably continue and we get one or two more matches between these two with Miz and Shelton getting involved along the way and going forward… result wise, this feud still has plenty of legs in it, and with Orton hitting Jeff with his finisher already I don’t see him doing the same on Sunday.

Prediction: Jeff Hardy to retain

Samoa Joe v Roman Reigns

Everything within me wants Samoa Joe to win this match, but lets look at the facts; in 2018 Roman Reigns didn’t win the Royal Rumble, he DID win the Elimination Chamber but was dominated before and after by Braun Strowman, he lost at Wrestlemania and he just ‘lost’ for a 2nd time to Brock Lesnar. For someone who is “THE guy” that’s not the best of starts to the year. With wrestling logic in mind, that the guy who’s leaving always ‘does the job’ on the way out, I fear it’ll be Joe doing the honours before he starts his time on the Smackdown Live roster. I should also mention that Samoa Joe this past week signified his intention to go after whoever is WWE Champion after Backlash. So MAYBE they will give him a huge win here as a launch pad into a Styles or Nakamura feud…. MAYBE…. maybe not….

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn v Bobby Lashley & Braun Strowman

Not much actual story to this, just two bad guys against 2 good guys. But if the recent weeks’ interactions between these two teams are anything to go by, it should be a tremendously fun and enjoyable match to watch. All 4 men are of between great to good levels of in-ring performers, and are equally as good storytellers too. A definite dark horse for match of the night if it gets the time to be. But there is only one real result surely? The right one to further build the REAL guy… (although I wouldn’t rule out a turn from Lashley to set up a feud with Strowman going forward).

Prediction: Braun Strowman, Running Powerslam, 1-2-3.

WWE Championship: AJ Styles ( C ) v Shinsuke Nakamura – No Disqualifications Match

So now it’s NO DQ this is going to be a tale of who is going to low blow who surely? And will AJ wear a protective guard to fend off any (now signature) low blow strikes from Nakamura? In my opinion this match will follow the build up and be all about the Shinsuke low blow. As for the match itself the first WWE one was ok, the 2nd was better so this 3rd one, with no rules now and (presumably) a main event spot on a ppv and hopefully a lot of time this COULD be spectacular. Nakamura in this heel role is about 10 times as cool as he was before (and even before he was cool still), and now with this added edge to this match rather than 2 respectful peers it should be very physical and very VERY good. Using the logic that Nakamura has dominated the build up, and with Samoa Joe calling out the winner of this match, along with the impending arrival to Smackdown of Andrade Almas, everything for me points to the babyface win. The past 2 encounters have been let down by the finish (one was way too quick and the finish to the second match… just… sucked) and this one will no doubt be judged on its ending once again.

Prediction: AJ Styles to retain

And so Backlash actually has a pretty good card I feel. It could be a real good show, hopefully it is closer to 3 hours than 4 else it could affect some of the later matches on the show heavily, and not well. The first dual branded non big 4 ppv for some years now should be really good, lets hope we have a lot more positives to speak of than negatives because big WWE shows recently haven’t exactly been brilliant overall. And just be grateful because Backlash 2017 ended with JINDER MAHAL winning the WWE Championship, so Backlash 2018 will just by existing be better than last year’s show. The matches on this show have potential to give big moments to some people, who they chose to put the spotlight on is the interesting question. I’ll actually get the chance to watch this show live as it airs, so I’m very much looking forward to watching a WWE show that is less than 5 hours long for once. I am blessed!

Josh.

WWE week in review – May 4 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday – RAW:

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

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

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

SMACKDOWN:

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

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

Tuesday Evening:

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

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

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

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

NXT:

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

 

Thursday:

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

Friday:

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

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

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

WWE week in review – April 27 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

Josh.

Greatest Royal Rumble: Preview & Predictions

(DISCLAIMER: for the sake of this blog, I’m going to not talk about the ‘questionable’ morality and laws of the country of Saudi Arabia, and all the other issues related to the event form that standpoint. I’ll just talk about the event itself in the blog, and temporarily forget all that stuff for the sake of my enjoyment of the event).

So it is finally here. After a 7 hour event just a few weeks ago we are blessed with a mere 6 hour long event emanating from the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, just north of Jeddah in the country of Saudi Arabia. It is FINALLY time for the much talked about, promoted and at times maligned Greatest Royal Rumble (SUPER) show. And my oh my what a show it could well be… I’ll try my best to run through the card and offer my thoughts and predictions ahead of what may possibly be an ever bigger show than Wrestlemania 34!

50 Man ‘Greatest’ Royal Rumble match: Pretty much every male main roster superstar not already on the card, a few legends and possibly some NXT superstars too

This match is going to be madness. FIFTY men in the same match?! Royal Rumbles aren’t usually too bad, but imagine one that is almost double the length of a regular rumble match. It’ll just be crazy, and as it stands the only prize on offer seems to be a trophy that has featured on the advertising for the match, although given how highly they’ve pushed this event you’d presume that whoever they have win the match will either be a megastar already or someone who is going to become one. I’m sure it’ll have all the usual facets of a regular Royal Rumble match; confrontations between former foes or allies, surprise returns, shock eliminations etc. but it’s going to be about an hour and a half long and that’s my main worry with the match that people watching will be so worn out. I’ve absolutely not a clue who they’re going to push, have win or be the star of the match. This match is so unique and unlike anything WWE have ever done before (as is the event as the whole) it’s very difficult to predict it at all. All I can predict with any assurance for this match is that it will be eventful, that is for certain!

Prediction: WHO THE FUCK KNOWS?! (But if I had to pick a name I’d like for Daniel Bryan. Would be poetic after he SHOULD have won the Royal Rumble in 2014 and/or in 2015).

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman v Roman Reigns – Steel Cage Match

So the result of this match will pretty much depend on Brock Lesnar’s contract and just how long his mega-money new deal will last for. Reports have varied from it being 2 years to just 2 matches that would likely take Lesnar up to Summerslam. Some have even speculated that Brock may be being kept on and as champion in order to break the previous title reign record held by CM Punk, who the WWE aren’t too high on these days. WE just don’t know. One thing we do know though is that Roman Reigns is STILL the guy, and even after his traumatic loss in the main event of Wrestlemania it looks increasingly likely that his long-anticipated coronation is still only a matter of time away. Roman surely has to win the title.The addition of a Steel Cage to the equation will only heighten the expected brutality that has become custom to a Brock Lesnar match. If Brock retains… then I really will be at a loss with WWE’s direction for their premier title and their chosen one.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) v Shinsuke Nakamura

The Wrestlemania match between these two was billed as a dream match. The build up was sub-standard, the match underwhelmed. The re-match here has turned into a grudge match. The build-up with the now heel Nakamura has been great, so this match? Could it be great? Very possibly. Certainly now both men have a real purpose going into this one, rather than just wanting to have a great match and win the championship. I’ve absolutely loved Nakamura’s character since his much publicized heel turn, he’s got a real edge to him now and his constant low blows to the uber-popular Styles will only add to his heat. I expect this, if given the chance, to be even better than there mania match. In terms of result, as is the case with the other world championship match in this card, who on earth knows… but as I don’t see both world titles changing on the same show here I’ll go for AJ to retain… but would not be surprised to see Nakamura claim the title in the not so distant future.

Prediction: AJ Styles

John Cena v Triple H

Considering this is a match-up between two of the all time greats, two of the biggest names in the company and two men who have an huge amount of history with one another, there has been absolutely ZERO build up to this showcase match. Obviously given the recent goings-on in Cena’s personal life and the fact Triple H has already been busy in Saudi Arabia promoting the event it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t have time to, and with both being part timers and not featuring on TV since Wrestlemania (when both featured prominently but ultimately lost their respective matches) there’s little context or story that can be applied to it either. It’s simply presumed that a match between John Cena and Triple H can speak for itself to both the local crowd and the worldwide audience, which in all honesty it does.

Prediction: Triple H (just… because…)

The Undertaker v Rusev – Casket Match

Now if Triple H vs John Cena has had zero in the way of a build up, this match has been the total opposite. This has arguably been one of the most talked about matches on the entire card, despite not being spoken about on regular WWE TV in storyline one bit. When first announced this match seemed an odd one indeed, but things got even weirder when after a shoot-looking interview with TMZ and some questionable twitter activity Rusev was replaced in the match with Chris Jericho. And then just as quickly (as all sorts of rumours were abound about Rusev’s future) after a tweet negating on her previous call for her husband to be removed from the Casket match by Lana, the match between Taker and the Bulgarian Brute was then back ON (still keeping up with all this?). So as of writing this is happening, why it is and why it was on then off then on again within a few days is still unclear. But just a few weeks after his last match The Undertaker is in action again and I’m not sure he has had 2 matches this close together for a number of years (not since 2015 has he wrestled 2 matches within a month), and despite more rumours speculating that he may compete more often than in recent years between now and next year’s Wrestlemania I still expect this match to be short, and one sided.

Prediction: The Undertaker

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (C) v Jinder Mahal with Sunil Singh

Similar to the situation post superstar shake up with the Intercontinental title, the holder and home of the US Championship going forward remains unclear. So who will win this match (and also who wins the title match at Backlash) will surely parallel who is victorious in the IC title matches. So as it stands the champion here is Jeff Hardy of Smackdown, who is facing Jinder Mahal of Raw here, with the champion scheduled to face another former champion Randy Orton (of Smackdown) at Backlash. I like the idea of Jeff Hardy as US Champion, but I see much more value in a Miz v Daniel Bryan feud for the IC belt on the blue brand. BUT given who I have winning the other mid-card belt match, I’ll have Hardy to go over here and retain his title… for the time-being…

Prediction: Jeff Hardy to retain… for now…

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (C) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe – Ladder Match

This is a ladder match. This is involving 4 of the best competitors in WWE. This is going to be fabulous. I doubt they will end the title reign of such a big star like Rollins so soon, however their is the caveat with this and the US title match that they could still switch the 2 mid-card belts to opposing shows. Miz and Samoa Joe are now both on Smackdown so would take the IC title with them to the blue brand should they climb the ladder and retrieve it in this match. It’s also already been announced that Rollins will defend his title against former champion Miz at the upcoming Backlash ppv. But obviously this is wrestling, and nothing is set in stone so that could all change. I predict the match will be great, that I’m certain of. Even with Miz’s ongoing pursuit to become the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time I feel he is destined for a chase of a much bigger prize down the line, and I also feel like as much as it would make sense for Jinder Mahal to be the evil foreigner with America’s Championship and for The Miz to carry on his IC champion glory-train and into his feud with former IC champion Daniel Bryan (who was once forced to vacate the Intercontinental Championship due to injury, so he never actually lost it nor had had a chance to reclaim it) I still think… actually… that all makes way too much sense right? Right? Miz has to take the title to Smackdown, question is does he do it here or at Backlash???

Prediction: Seth Rollins to retain… for now…

Raw Tag Team Championship: WOKEN Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt v ‘The Bar’ (Sheamus & Cesaro)

If the 2 mid-card belts are in doubt result-wise due to who will or wont take what belt to which show, this match is surely in no doubt about who will win. Sheamus & Cesaro, now of SMACKDOWN, are surely not going to take the RAW tag titles to the blue brand right? I’m a huge fan of WOKEN Matt and his alliance with his former foe Bray Wyatt, so will be delighted if/when the two of them claim the gold. Don’t be surprised if we see an AOP run in afterwards to set up the new champions’ first title defense.

Prediction: WOKEN Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘Bludgeon Brothers’ (Harper & Rowan) (C) v ‘The Usos’ (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso)

Despite Jimmy Uso’s win over Rowan on Smackdown to counter Harper’s win over Jey last week, I still am in no doubt about this one. Who knows, maybe Naomi will come out and her neon and flashing lights will distract Rowan again and Naomi can take in the crowd adulation and celebrate with her team in the ring…………….. OH……… OH WAIT……. MAYBE NOT THEN……..

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Cruserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (C) v Kalisto

This as a match will be fine. Sure. Both are good wrestlers. Sure. Is there any story at all with this match (given Kalisto only won the right to be in this match on Tuesday)? None. You can get away with no story for Cena vs Triple H or Taker vs Rusev, as those guys are stars already. This match-up not so much. I’m certain that Murphy (after he failed his 205 weigh in last week) will run in and set up a title match at Backlash and that’ll be the main story here, but hey I suppose you have to get the Cruserweight title on the card, and as I’ve said the match will be fine, but I’d be surprised if this got many headlines after the event has concluded.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander

So there is a hugely stacked card for what promises to be, above all else, a LONG and eventful event. Wrestlemania was equally both of those so lets see what this one brings. It promises to be another amazing event, entertaining in many different ways and infuriating in others. and MAYBE… MAYBE… the coronation at long last of the “face of the company”??? …

Josh..

23/4/2018 – What’s on my mind: WWE

(listen to Jim Ross’ podcast as that’s where I got the idea for this type of blog from, the title is literally taken from him anyway).

Last night I began watching the best Hell in a Cell matches of all time (ahead of a future blog I am going to write), I tend to watch the Mankind vs Undertaker one (where Mick Foley attempts to self destruct) as one of my many “comfort viewings” when I am emotionally distressed or bored (tends to be more the first one and hardly ever the later these days). Watching the first ever Hell in a Cell match last night made me look at some statistics, and I noticed that there were 16 HIAC matches in the first 11 years or so since the concept was created. Compare that to the 22 in the past 9 or so years, mainly due to the inception of the specific Hell in a Cell ppv, in which there are 2 or 3 each show. Hell in a Cell used to be something that would be called upon when a rivalry had reached the point where they could no longer be contained in a regular match.

Nowadays with the fact there is a PPV each year for the match it is simply whatever rivalry is happening at the time is thrown into a cell and they have a match (Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon for example were still at odds by the time Wrestlemania came about some 6 months later). Before Hell in a Cell was the be all and end all of a rivalry, now it’s just another part. It kind of takes away the magic and allure of the match to me. Less is certainly more with Hell in a Cell matches, having them less often (and only when necessary and the story calls for it) will retain their magic more rather than having a ppv when you are forced to have multiple HIAC matches.

Speaking of less being more, that brings me nicely towards the man who will be making an appearance on Raw this Monday ahead of his Universal Championship defense at the Greatest Royal Rumble on Friday; “BRRRRRROOOCCCKKKKKKK LLLLLEEEESSSSSSNNNNAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!” (Heyman, 2012). The debate will rage on and on as to if it is ethically right that the world champion of WWE only appears on TV every now and then, or any performer for that matter. So here’s what I think: with regards to part-time Brock being a world champion, lets think about this: I like the idea of Brock Lesnar being champion because if this was all ‘real’ and legitimate then I am in no doubt that former UFC (Mixed Martial Arts) Heavyweight Champion and NCAA (college wrestling) Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar would still be holding the championship.

Whenever WWE appears to be close to ‘real’ then it’s so much better because it’s more believable so Lesnar being Universal Champion in that sense is fine with me. The next issue is with him being a “part timer” that is paid per appearance at an extremely high rate for limited dates, despite him being one of the company’s top superstars he only appears a dozen or so times a year and competes even fewer times. Would I like the Universal Champion to be on TV every week, as is WWE Champion AJ Styles, and to defend the title at every ppv rather than a few? Obviously I would. Do I want to see Brock Lesnar on TV every week? Despite his talents and characteristics as a WWE superstar (and Paul Heyman’s amazing promos), in actual fact I’d rather him appear as few times as he does.

Why? Well ‘less is more’ once again; Brock Lesnar (like The Undertaker and even John Cena more and more these days) is a special attraction act. Someone who fans at arenas and watching at home will go out of their way to see. And given the vast array of talent in WWE these days, special attractions acts are a lot tougher to come by. So lets keep Brock as a special attraction act, lets keep his aura and make sure every time he appears it is still a huge deal. Brock instantly elevates anything or anybody he interacts with on TV, and this is down to both his star power and the fact that as he doesn’t appear all that often we know when he does it’s important and it’s for a big purpose.

I absolutely get why people are unhappy with Lesnar’s contract, lack of appearances and the fact him as Universal Champion hardly ever defends the belt of even appears on TV. But honestly I prefer Lesnar in this role as opposed to being on TV every week, he brings with him a lot of eyes and appeal for a big money match with a Roman Reigns or a Braun Strowman for example and he continues to get very, very rich in the process. We get a big star, he gets lots of money, I think overall we get a good deal. And for those who don’t like it I am confident that his reign of part-time terror wont be lasting too much longer…

And another seamless link brings me nicely to the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this Friday. Where indeed an incredibly stacked card will include the aforementioned Brock Lesnar defending his Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match. Now no explanation is need with regards to the questionable morality of WWE holding a huge event in a country where women on their own aren’t allowed to buy tickets for the event, and one where men on their own are only allocated seats in the far back area of the arena. You’re incredibly naive if you don’t get why this is happening.

Why have WWE signed a multi year deal with Saudi Arabia to form a promotional partnership? Why did they hold tryouts for Saudi based athletes this past week? Why is this event as stacked as it is? Put it this way, Brock Lesnar earns a lot of it…. I get that it’s their country and they can obviously make their own rules, and I understand that they are slowly trying to change their public perception, and obviously I’ll still be watching the event and the talent performing will make it terrific I’m sure, but it’s incredibly two-faced to me.

Did someone say ‘Women’s revolution’? Just remind me how many women are on the card for this event? And was it only THIS YEAR that women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive or even be in sports stadiums? … It’s good business, and it’s highly beneficial financially for the WWE sure, and maybe I’m part of the problem in that I’ll still pay my 9.99 a month for the network and I’ll watch the event still, but nonetheless it’s questionable to say the least…. But hey not much we can do to stop it happening, the event will be star-studded and greatly entertaining I’m sure but just bare that in mind.

I’ll try and end on a positive note after all that has kind of hampered my mood right now, and the best way for me to do that I feel is to talk about someone I really like. So allow me to speak briefly about somebody I indeed really like; Samoa Joe. He was, in my opinion, the biggest acquisition of the entire Superstar Shake-up last week. Last year it was undoubtedly Charlotte Flair who took that mantle for Smackdown, and she did rather well in the ensuing 12 months didn’t she? But back to Samoa Joe, this guy is one of the most legitimate and believable heel characters in the entire company, his in-ring work is outstanding (a great move set and more than able to tell a tremendous story along with any form of opponent), and his entire demeanor and character is so well executed that I legitimately believe (despite having seen him in numerous podcasts and TV specials come across as a terrifically engaging and intelligent man) he is an absolute bad-ass MONSTER!

Above all else though, in my humble opinion, Samoa Joe is the best heel promo guy on the active roster. He can shout and scream at a Roman Reigns or a Brock Lesnar or he can softly and deliberately speak one on one to a quavering Paul Heyman. I was left in no doubt of his wonderful mic skills after the previous few weeks that have seen him brutally bury a moaning Roman Reigns for two weeks in a row, and then after a typically well-executed squash match win against Sin Cara on Smackdown he grabbed a microphone and was somehow able to promote 1 huge live event, 1 pay per view, 2 matches, state his claim for 2 separate championships and then run down a handful of potential future opponents, all whilst maintaining his intimidating and fearsome character… all in one promo. This guy is an absolute genius of his craft, and if he has to go through AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura or even Daniel Bryan or even Seth Rollins, The Miz or Finn Balor OR EVEN Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns…. This guy NEEDS to and imo WILL be a champion. And the sooner Samoa Joe wears championship gold once again the better.

Anyway I’ll wrap up now. Sorry to ramble on at the end but wanted to finish on a positive, and with this being just me saying what I want and what comes to mind WWE related at the time I write this, it might come across at times as a bit random and all over the place. But it helps me get my built up WWE stuff off my chest so I can think about more pressing issues (not that ANYTHING is more important than WWE…. obviously…). So yes enjoy the Greatest Royal Rumble, try and put to the back of your mind the laws of the country it is being held in for the duration of the event, and sit back and watch what is arguably a bigger event (match wise) than even Wrestlemania!

Josh.

PS; Happy Birthday to John Cena! He’s done ok for himself hasn’t he? …

WWE week in review – April 20 2018

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

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

Also going to Raw =

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then FINALLY the main show began:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

Wrestlemania 34 Preview & Predictions

So it is almost upon us. With arguably the most STACKED card in wrestling history, Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans looks like it could be an absolutely incredible show. So many different stories in all of the matches, matches we seem to have built to over, some matches we don’t know who is going to be in them yet, and the amazing fact that the (potential) biggest match of them all isn’t officially happening as of this moment!!!

Now predicting sport and things that aren’t pre-determined is difficult, but trying to predict the results before a big WWE show where the fate of an entire storyline and it’s blow-off could be absolutely changed beyond belief if desired, all on the say so of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, is very hard indeed. But i’ll give it a go here. Also featuring in this blog will be my good friend and one of the people I shall be taking in the festivities in with; Dan (aka the only person I could find willing to help me out) who will also be offering his thoughts and predictions going in to each match. Enjoy OUR preview and predictions write up and enjoy Wrestlemania, I know we will!

Cruserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali

This will be an awesome wrestling match, that I’m in no doubt of. You only need to watch 1 previous match of either of these 2 guys to know that, but for sure this will be the match of the whole card that the least amount of the watching audience in the arena and at home will know anything about. And that’s the problem with 205 Live. For those of you who don’t watch the Cruiserweight specific show, it’s been A LOT better since that twat Enzo was dismissed. That has coincided with Triple H apparently taking over the running of the show, and since then it has been less about over-the-top characters and more about the amazing talent that these guys possess. They’ve picked the best 2 guys on the main 205 Live roster in my opinion for this showcase match, so I hope for the sake of the 205 Live show and the entire Cruiserweight division I hope these 2 absolutely kill it! Being on the pre-show isn’t ideal, yes it’ll get the crowd warmed up well but if you look at last year’s Cruiserweight Title match between Austin Aries and Neville, the match was great but the stadium was less than half empty to the lack of atmosphere took the life out of that one and limited any potential it had to be great. So let’s all hope it’s a classic, my prediction for who will win is Cedric. He was supposed to dethrone Enzo at the Royal Rumble but even if Ali wins I won’t be too upset.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander.

Dan: Don’t really know anything about this as I don’t really follow the cruiserweight stuff so pure and simple guess, Cedric Alexander.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Hey, everyone gets a Wrestlemania spot! Who on earth knows who will win this, they’ve shown with ZERO of the four previous winners of this match that it matters at all, but Battle Royals are always good fun to watch. I know they’ve announced a load of mid-carders for this one but I hope they use it as a chance to showcase and give a Mania moment to an upcoming NXT star. They did so with Baron Corbin a few years back and I hope they follow suit here; Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan… someone like that ideally. But they’ll probably give it to someone who they will push… for about 3 weeks… like they always do… I hope I’m wrong but I’m sceptical. Who wins? God knows…

Prediction: Lars Sullivan (PLEASE).

Dan: Can’t really pick for the guys one tbh. I’m trying to see noobs or upper carders who could take it but I’m struggling so I’ll just say dolph because I’m here to show the world 😂

The Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal

Although in similar sense to the men’s in that this is just for everyone who can’t get on the Mania card elsewhere, I feel the women’s Battle Royal in terms of strength in depth could be a lot better. Particularly as it has been eluded to that for sure there will be NXT competitors in this match. I hope one of the actually wins it but more likely it’ll go to a bigger name such as Becky Lynch or Sasha Banks or Bayley in conjunction with Banks and Bayley and their personal storyline. I’m still not over the fact Bayley vs Sasha isn’t a singles match on the card but can’t complain at this Mania card.

Prediction: Ember Moon (hopefully).

Dan: women’s maybe Mandy or Sonya to cement them a bit more? I think Carmella goes out early, has a hissy fit then cashes in after asuka/Charlotte and becomes champion?

AND NOW THE WRESTLEMANIA MAIN CARD!!!

Raw Tag Team Championship: ‘The Bar’ ( C ) V Braun Strowman & a mystery partner

So the fate of this match really does all rest on who Braun’s partner is. Elias? Big Show? Bray Wyatt? Who on earth knows… but they’re keeping it a secret until the show which I absolutely love, it makes a-near-certainty that whoever comes out will get a decent pop. As for the match I trust it to be good, I think it’ll be fairly short but we shall see. This story for me HAS to end with Braun and his partner winning or at least setting up a story, I think Braun should be in the Universal Championship match personally but it’s something at least.

Prediction: Braun and his partner win the titles.

Dan: I think Braun will win and have the titles to himself. But I’m intrigued to see who any partner would be, could be some odd couple type deal though. Although the whatculture madness idea of Alexa as his partner is mad enough to be possible, or perhaps Elias, I don’t think they know what do do with Braun and Elias now so they could be teamed up. So Braun to win this.

United States Championship: Randy Orton ( C ) V Bobby Roode V Jinder Mahal with Sunil Singh V Rusev with Aiden English

IT’S RUSEV DAY, AND IT’S RUSEVMANIA BECAUSE WRESTLEMANIA IS ON RUSEV DAY!!!

This was the match I was looking at as my potential ‘bathroom break’ as despite the fact I like all 3 guys in this one beforehand, the feud and build to it had been so dull it’s absurd. And then… it ALL changed when RUSEV was entered into it!!! AND NOW I CARE… BECAUSE IT’S RUSEV DAY!!! Previously I had Jinder as an absolute lock to win this one, but fuck Jinder because IT’S RUSEV DAY!!!

Prediction: RUSEV. BECAUSE IT’S RUSEV DAY, AND IT’S RUSEVMANIA!!!

Dan: I really think rusev needs pushing again but then roode getting it back would be great! And orton can do whatever and be good and I’m sure jinder will too maybe another feud with orton? I’ll say roode wins and then maybe that leads to a feud with rusev or something down the line. Roode to win.

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss ( C ) V Nia Jax

The match itself I’m absolutely fine with. The story that has led us here? Not so much. I get that it’s a good thing to talk about in 2018 and showing a real-life issue, but ffs really? Could do WWE not think of another way to build to this match than have Alexa Bliss simply repeatedly imply that her former best friend Nia Jax is FAT!??! Like I said I get hey they’ve built to it this way but it strikes me as awfully cheap. If you didn’t know they’re actually best friends in real life so chemistry shouldn’t be an issue. I’m sure therefore the match will be fine, better than the build anyway. Who wins? Really hard to call this one for me as I can see many reasons for both winning, and DO NOT rule out a certain briefcase holder playing a part too…

Prediction: Alexa Bliss retains. Just.

Dan: I think this is a typical case of face beating heel at mania. Nia clearly got moral high ground going in and Alexa with all the heat. )My goddess is gunna lose here I think 😞 😂 ) so I’ll say Nia to win this one.

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon V Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Imagine saying a month ago that DANIEL BRYAN will be in a match at Wrestlemania? It really has seemed like a dream, but he’s back and we will finally get the conclusion to this story we had all hoped for. In the same venue where he won the world title at Wrestlemania 4 years ago I just cannot see Bryan coming back and losing, it’d be a disaster for me if WWE went that way. What will happen with Zayn and Owens, with the stipulation of their jobs at Smackdown Live being on the line, I don’t know… I expect they’ll just end up on Raw shortly after Mania but whatever happens they will be fine I’m sure. Their heel work (particularly Sami having been an ultra babyface before) has been superb, and I hope this match is as good as well hope it will be… YES, YES, YES!!!

Prediction: Daniel Bryan gets a submission win.

Dan: Yes! And here comes the money vs Team Canadian besties: I think it’s nicely set up for Bryan’s come back and Shane’s revenge if they win. Then KO and Sami get drafted to raw I think after a short break. DB and Shane to win.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz ( C ) V Seth Rollins V Finn Balor

Again, this too could be a fantastic contest. Who will win? I really don’t know for sure. The lack of suggestion that we will see Finn come to Mania as ‘The Demon’ leads me to believe he won’t be winning, as for Seth I’d imagine he’s being kept for a feud with a soon to return Dean Ambrose. And whilst that would be a good IC title feud they have been playing on The Miz being days away from being the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion (in terms of combined days) of all time an awful lot recently. So by default I say the new father retains.

Prediction: The Miz

Dan: Another I’m not sure about on the face though, Miz is a great intercontinental champ but I think they’ll go new directions with him after mania. Then both Rollins and Balor could do with the boost but I’ll say Balor because dean will probably be back and do something with Rollins like challenge whoever ends up dominantly as rag champs when dean comes back. So Balor on this one to win.

WWE Championship: AJ Styles ( C ) V Shinsuke Nakamura

WOW, what needs to be said to build anymore to this one? A match for the ages, an all-time Wrestlemania classic. Already monikers like that are being labelled on this dream match, and indeed it should and will be brilliant. I see Nakamura getting his crowning moment here, but a loss for either men doesn’t hurt them if the match is a good or even close to their match in New Japan a couple of years ago.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Dan: Really not sure yet on this one, I feel like they might give makamura the big one but it is wwe so I think they’ll kill some dreams and AJ will win.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos ( C ) V The New Day V Bludgeon Brothers

This match could be the one that surprises people with how good and how much fun to watch it is. All of the participants are, whilst great together as a team, supremely underrated in the ring. The result of the match seems to be the obvious and inevitable coronation of Harper & Rowan, but that isn’t a massively bad thing for me. Whoever wins this I’ll be happy for them.

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Dan: I’d like to say bludgeon brothers with an upset to change up the game but my head says new day as baby face ish and super popular, plus it’ll change things up and they’ve got the credibility to beat the Isis at mania. So New day to win.

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle V Stephanie McMahon & Triple H

The blockbuster match of the show, designed primarily to bring mainstream eyes on the WWE product. I don’t see this going long, I don’t want it too either to be honest, but seeing Ronda make Stephanie tap to the Armbar will be something that will bring me a lot of joy. And the added involvement of two veterans (and of course this is Angle’s first Wrestlemania match for 12 YEARS) will make it be sound in-ring. Let’s hope Ronda and Stephanie can play fair parts too.

Prediction: Ronda makes Stephanie tap

Dan: Olympians vs authority: Authority love to look good at their annual mania match but obviously Ronda needs a good boost to give her momentum starting in WWE so 3 experiences people with her I think she’s in good company and her and kurt win. Ronda and kurt to win

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair ( C ) V Asuka

If AJ vs Nakamura is being billed as a dream match, then this one is MY dream match! Potential to be one of the best women’s matches of all time sees 2 of the all-time great in-ring female performers square off. My heart will be all over the place during this one for sure, it should be F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S … (don’t forget about that briefcase…)…

Prediction: Asuka

Dan: If anyone will beat the streak it’s Charlotte but I’m not super confident they’re ready to end it. But they can reinvent her character and redeem her if she loses at mania. So it pains me but I think asuka is gunna lose. Charlotte to win this one.

John Cena V The Undertaker… maybe… ???

So we don’t even know if this match is happening… officially anyway… but surely they wouldn’t tease this much for nothing??? So let’s act as if it is happening, somehow… I imagine Taker will come back absolutely livid and beat down Cena. Then I see possibly a year build to rematch and a retirement match NEXT YEAR at Wrestlemania, where Taker will return the favours. Lots of if, buts and maybes there but everything with this one is up in the air at the moment. I cannot wait to see what unfolds… If it happens I see TAKER winning. Purely because I can’t see him showing up after all this time, to then go and lose… surely not???

Prediction: The Undertaker

Dan: Cena vs taker would be a good match and I don’t think they’d get undertaker to lose to cena. I think it’d be a way to see undertaker go out with some grave by showing he still has it and can topple the guy at the top of the company (arguably). I think it gives cena chance to go off and do films and other stuff a while. Then make a come back a bit more loved again. But he’ll obv be be back to big match John status in no time and not go away at all 😂 undertaker to win if it happens.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar ( C ) with Paul Heyman V Roman Reigns

We all know whose winning this, right? The build-up I’ve really enjoyed, and at times it has worked to the desired outcome of getting Roman cheered. It seems more and more likely now that Brock is returning to the UFC, and that only increases the inevitability of the finish. In terms of the match itself; they have been building for pretty much a full year the strength of the F5. Nobody kicks out of the F5… until Sunday… and it has been notable tome that during all their encounters, Roman is yet to hit Brock with the Spear… until Sunday…

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Dan: I think roman is going over here, typical heel loses at mania plus it’s about time and don’t think brick would lose anywhere but mania.

Josh… and Dan.

PS. I’m taking a week off from blogging now. I want to enjoy the incredible week that we have of wrestling ahead of us to the fullest. And I don’t want to be sat with a notepad and pen during the events. So I’ll be back in some form of blog refreshed and ready to go and write some more about WWE. And by then who on earth knows what the landscape will look like! I’d like to finish by saying just how much I’v enjoyed writing and analyzing the WWE product in the last few months, I’ve long needed an outlet for me to “spew the bullshit” (as a certain Texas Rattlesnake has been known to say on his podcast from time to time) about pro-wrestling and this has been a much needed hobby of mine. To everyone who has commented and read my blogs, and liked my tweets on Twitter I’d like to thank you all too as it means an awful lot to me. See you in a couple of weeks!

Raw Wrestlemania go-home show Review: 2/4/18

I had an idea that this week I was going to try and do a review of Raw, Smackdown and NXT as normal but I would cater them very much towards the ‘minor’ set of shows this upcoming weekend. But instead of doing no reviews and just do a Wrestlemania preview I decided against this, in case there were major goings on in the go-home shows. But Raw last night, much similar to last week, seemed to have not much of huge significance going on. The phrase ‘peak to soon’ can be used in many circumstances, and it very much applies here as for the 2nd week in a row Raw seemed to limp towards Wrestlemania. It’ll still be an amazing event with an incredibly stacked card, but let’s be glad it’s this Sunday and we don’t have any more shows to build up to it. So I’ll briefly run through what happened on Raw, but much like what we saw via TV I think we all care about Wrestlemania now. So I’ll write up what happened in relation to the Raw matches set for Mania, the one notable exception that is happening… but isn’t happening and the other more filler-like stuff that was on the final Monday night Raw before Wrestlemania FINALLY happens!

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman V Roman Reigns

What happened on Raw? :

At different points in the show Raw General Manager Kurt Angle expressed his concerns to both Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns about any potential confrontation tonight. Angle stating that he ‘wanted to make sure his Mania main event stayed intact’. This seemed to me as a very subtle indication/confirmation that Lesnar vs Reigns WILL close the show.

To close the show Brock and Heyman made their way to the ring, and after Angle again made his concerns clear to them both before they came out an immediate swarm of other superstars gathered on the entrance rampway as a human-shield, in order to stop any potential physical confrontation with his challenger for Wrestlemania. Heyman cut a really fun promo; began by saying that the human-shield was “over compensatory behaviour” and that Angle doesn’t have control as that was with the man who holds the Universal Championship, Brock Lesnar. He went on to quote Angle “it’s true, it’s true… I swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help me God… the truth is before the last Wrestlemania that took place in New Orleans, I stood in this ring and vowed that Lesnar would conquer Undertaker’s undefeated streak… it wasn’t a prediction, it was a spoiler, which meant it was the truth. And then Lesnar defeated the Undertaker, and no one laughed at us then.” He’s right to be fair, it was after that were both Lesnar and Heyman as his advocate reached extraordinary levels of being over, and seeming legitimate.

Heyman went on to say that everyone acts like its fate for Reigns to dethrone Lesnar and you can’t help but be impressed by Roman, he said you have to respect Reigns, but that the truth is this Sunday “Lesnar will F5 Reigns and pin him in the centre of the ring 1,2,3… that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler. It’s the truth”. And then we got another subtle but HUGE confirmation which I picked up on, this is pro wrestling of all so what people say should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but Heyman went on to say that “an unfortunate truth in life is that there are accidents in life, and should Lesnar lose on Sunday, this will be the last time you will see me and Lesnar on Raw!” So there it is then; it seems that Brock Lesnar AND Paul Heyman WILL leave WWE should/when Brock loses at Wrestlemania. He went on to say that whilst he will say his goodbyes on social media, Brock Lesnar will be saying hello to everyone from UFC (again this is wrestling, so don’t take this as 100% truth). Heyman was on a roll at this point, and really went in to shoot-work mode at this point; he wanted to dispel something that was out of character for Lesnar by saying that the image that he’s built around Lesnar (that he looks around the locker room and thinks “none of you can shine my boots”, the mystique that Lesnar looks at the fans and thinks he’s worthy of contempt and disdain and disgust and that he chooses who he fights only on his own merit and on his terms)… he said that image is 100% true! He finished by saying that there is not one member of the locker room that can “hold his jock” let alone take his title. Then he REALLY went in on Roman personally: ‘Reigns’ only choice is to accept defeat on Sunday night, because it’s easy to make choices when you have no options… Roman’s choices is like his ass, they’re both owned by Lesnar! … if Reigns thinks he’s going to have a victory party, he’s going to go up to his wife, his kids, his father and his uncles and say he got conquered by Lesnar… he ain’t no ‘Big Dog’, this ain’t no yard and he’s going to be another notch on Lesnar’s title belt… the truth is Reigns is Lesnar’s bitch!’.

And that brutal series of putdowns was enough to make the challenger for the Universal title at Wrestlemania make his appearance. The shield of mid-carders were able to hold him off as Brock mocked Roman from the ring, and then Reigns got a mic and said to those that were blocking him “all you full-time guys are going to protect that part-time bastard. Think about it, boys.” The jobbers talked amongst themselves before letting Roman pass. So they’re still going with the idea that Roman is the man of the people and the rest of the ‘boys’, and that Lesnar is the evil part timer that is holding the world title hostage. He then came to the ring and stared at Brock, Lesnar told him to ‘think about it real hard’ as the crowd began to chant “Let’s go Roman” (so maybe it is working then). Once Roman did get in the ring, a staredown ended when Lesnar but his belt on the floor, they then circled the ring before Brock rolled to the outside as Reigns then picked up the Universal belt, Lesnar picked up a chair as Roman put the title down once Brock got back in the ring, they circled the ring again before Roman hit Lesnar with a Superman Punch, and then another, then another and another. Brock was though still able to get up with the chair still in hand but Roman quickly put him down with another Superman Punch as he then once again grabbed the Universal title and held it up whilst looking towards the Wrestlemania sign. But he was not to end the pre-Mania Raw on top as Brock quickly got up and hit him with an F5. So they’re saving the Spear and the kick out of the F5 until the match itself then. I like that. It seems inevitable at this point but I legitimately think the match will be good. If it’s closing the show, considering how amazing the show is looking it’ll be, it NEEDS to be good.

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle V Stephanie McMahon & Triple H

What happened on Raw? :

They had the world title segment close the show (rightfully so) and the confrontation for this match opened it. It happened in the form of what looked-like it was set up to be as civilised as possible (obviously, this is wrestling, so it won’t be) with 2 tables set up for the teams to sit at as Jonathan Coachman stood at a podium in between to officiate matters. And after both teams came out The Coach said that the WWE Universe has submitted questions for everyone, but as he went to ask the first question he was interrupted by Triple H. He told Angle that it was sad that the roar from the crowd for Ronda Rousey would become a deafening silence after Sunday, and it was his fault. He said Angle had intensity, integrity and intelligence when he first came to WWE, and while he understood Angle had intensity and integrity, he couldn’t believe that people thought the Raw GM still had intelligence. As he implied that Angle was setting Ronda up for failure by making this match, and before Kurt could reply Ronda Rousey spoke instead. She asked Triple H why would he so two faced to sign her with ulterior motives? Stephanie said Rousey was rough around the edges and she didn’t understand the format yet, but they would polish her up after they rebuild her career after they beat her Sunday. Rousey quickly came back by saying she understood the format and wanted an answer. Stephanie came up with a bs answer that Rousey was a star and that people wanted to see her in the ring, but that her attitude was appalling but that bringing her to WWE was “best for business” before going on to say that Angle had already cost Ronda and the company millions of dollars and reminding them they both work for her. She went on to ask Ronda ‘who the hell does she think she is?’ which led Angle to reply with She’s Ronda Freaking Rousey” and that she was going to make McMahon tap out. Triple H eventually said that although Ronda dreamed of coming to WWE her whole life, to Stephanie and him the WWE is their whole lives. He finished by saying that ‘in this ring, they know the rules and Rousey has no idea what’s going to happen… it’s a foregone conclusion, Rousey is going to lose’. Stephanie replied to Coach’s question about how important winning this match as by saying that it was important to show the locker room that when there’s an uprising, the Authority will quickly bite the head off the snake, that they will make quick decision, they will shut you down and everyone else in the locker room will learn to respect authority.

Coachman then asked both Angle & Rousey: “How do you feel about teaming with Rousey at Wrestlemania?” to which he said whether it’s a ring, a cage or an octagon Rousey is ‘the baddest woman on the planet, and this Sunday she would prove it by making Stephanie tap out… Yes Kurt, we are well aware… both gave final thoughts with Stephanie telling Ronda that her first match in the WWE would be a loss to her, and the whole world knows how Rousey handles losses (if you followed Ronda’s UFC career you’ll know she doesn’t take defeat well, so I really appreciated this line). An un-deterred Ronda then asked her Mania opponent if she was left or right handed. Stephanie said right, and then Rousey explained she was curious because she still wanted Stephanie to sign her cheques when she rips her arm off. The officiating Jonathan Coachman then tried to organise a picture of the two teams, stating it wouldn’t get out of hand “like the UFC weigh-ins”… and then so OBVIOUSLY it did. After a stare down, a rejected handshake and some more trash talk Stephanie began to leave the ring but was stopped by Ronda, and then Kurt turned away but was hit by Triple H with a microphone. A furious Ronda then grabbed Triple H by the throat as Stephanie then suplexed Rousey through the nearby table. An angry looking Rousey could only watch on as Triple H and Stephanie stood tall.

I really like this. It did what it needed to do. And actually seeing Stephanie perform a move herself on someone was nice to see again. I think the match itself will be better than expected, although I would hope it is short. Maybe 10 minutes or so maximum, would protect all involved and make the match be seen as good or even better than a longer version would be viewed as.

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) V Nia Jax

What happened on Raw? :

Bliss and her friend Mickie James lost to Asuka & DANA BROOKE in a tag match. Afterwards James and Bliss attacked Asuka as Dana Brooke came to make the save, but instead was hit with a double ddt (because… she’s Dana Brooke FFS… you’ve got ASUKA being helped by DANA BROOKE?!?! DO ME A FAVOUR?!). Nia Jax then made her way out and grabbed Alexa’s hair but once again it was Mickie James who helped Bliss escape. She hit Nia, Nia hit her with the Samoan Drop as Bliss ran away (same thing we have seen for the past 456789 weeks basically). Yep… that was all they got… at least Nia and also Alexa and Mickie cut a promos in interviews with Renee Young during in the show, but it was really nothing new…

Raw Tag Team Championship: Sheamus & Cesaro (C) V Braun Strowman & ?

What happened on Raw? :

The Bar came out. Sheamus said he does not care about who Braun’s tag team partner will be, as as strong as Strowman is, it’s still a tag team match. Cesaro also made the point about how Strowman will need to tag in at some point and that he’ll never wear the tag team championships. Braun came out to a big crowd response, he said he did have a partner and that he was in fact just talking to them in the back. Sheamus asked for him to come out, Braun agreed if he got a match against one of The Bar tonight, Sheamus said he wouldn’t pass up that opportunity. Strowman went to get him… and then… Braun Strowman’s music played and… out came Braun Strowman… wearing a white shirt and Bubba Ray Dudley like-glasses. He said he was Braun Strowman’s brother “Brains” and that he was coming down to ‘knock theirs out of their head’. I usually find Braun’s stuff great, I was not arsed about this at all. Braun beat them both up but much like me watching the live crowd seemed dead after the non-reveal of his mystery partner. Let’s hope after all this it doesn’t disappoint… they had Braun beat up Curt Hawkins backstage too (Curt wearing a ‘Pick Me Braun’ t-shirt). So let’s see…

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz ( C ) with Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel V Seth Rollins V Finn Balor

What happened on Raw? :

The Instagram post from The Miz last week was shown that announced his Wife Maryse giving birth to their daughter. Lovely.

Seth then faced Finn with Miz doing guest commentary. Miz spoke a lot about his experiences in the early days of being a father. He came over quite genuine… but on tv he’s a heel…. So not sure how I felt about this… The match itself was a little over 20 minutes… and it was really, really good. These two went all out an equalled their classic from Summerslam 2 years ago. Not much to say other than it was a great match, Rollins winning with a reversal being turned into a schoolboy cradle which he then released to hit the Curb Stomp for the win. Excellent match, the build has been hit and miss for me but I maintain the match itself will be great I’m sure.

Men’s & Women’s Battle Royal’s…

It was announced earlier on Monday that both battle royals and the match for the vacant Cruiserweight Championship will be on the Wrestlemania pre show. So with WWE showing they don’t really care about these 2 matches, I won’t go on too much about them too. So on Raw we had: Bayley beat Sonya Deville, then brawled with Sasha after before they both were beat up by Absolution, Goldust and Matt Hardy both did promos and had a short match after that Matt won, Elias beat Heath Slater after a short promo … that was about all…

AND FINALLY

We had John Cena come out. He once again called out The Undertaker. He got nothing. So as far as he is concerned he’s going to Mania as a fan.

I don’t mean to spoil anything for Sunday… but I would be absolutely astonished if John Cena isn’t in that ring at some point during the show…. And surprised too if this match doesn’t happen. It’s an interesting way of doing it, but could pave the way for one of the all-time great Mania moments if Taker does indeed make surprise/non-surprise appearance and the match does take place.

And MAYBE… MAYBE… Cena is being absolutely genuine… MAYBE it’s not happening… we see Cena in the crowd or even he comes in to the ring and he does a segment or even has a match against someone else… but SURELY WWE wouldn’t give this as much time as they have for it to turn out to be nothing…

So that was essentially all that took place on Raw. As go home shows go it was kind of weak, but let’s be grateful Mania is around the corner shall we. My Smackdown and NXT previews will be similar structure-wise to this one (building up to the weekend) and I will also have specific previews of both Wrestlemania and NXT Takeover out later in the week too. So stay tuned…

Josh.