WRESTLEMANIA 35 Review

WrestleMania 35 was an odd one. I think it tried so hard to be one of the best WrestleMania shows of all time and if you see the results of the show on paper you may look at it and consider it up there. And for sure it certainly had moments that were of the GOAT level, but there were a few things on this show that just left me with a tad sense of dissatisfaction. Kofi’s win felt huge watching, Seth’s big but the sheer insanity of it being FIRST on the main card I think caught us all off guard… which thinking back now not long after the show finished is a sad ironic thing to say when it comes to the main event. The moment that should have been one of the biggest in all of pro wrestling history was less of a grand finale and incredible moment, and more of a WTF moment. And for the main event of WrestleMania, particularly THIS of all years, to finish with a surprise winning moment did not feel right at all. It didn’t allow for us to explode as everyone wanted to. They dropped the ball on the finish but I guess at least we got the 3 main things I’d say the large majority of the watching fans wanted; Seth then Kofi then Becky ALL winning championships.

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The pre show had your usual mix of the panel talking about the upcoming main show matches, we had so many different people on this panel that changed personnel fairly regularly throughout as well as them cutting to various people around the stadium that talked up various aspects of the show. We also had FOUR matches as opposed to the advertised 3, although given which one the “bumped down” pre show match was it kind of made sense.

Tony Nese defeated Buddy Murphy to win the Cruserweight Championship

The general consensus with the people I was with was that Murphy had no challengers left as he’d beaten everyone else, yet none of us had Nese to win… it was a good match but way shorter than the 205 Live guys usually get, which on of all the shows was most disappointing. Murphy hit his finish but Nese got his leg on the ropes, and Nese won with the running knees to the corner.

***1/2

Carmella won the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal

This had basically everyone from the main roster of the women that wasn’t on the main card aside from Alicia Fox. We also had Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae from NXT. Kairi did have significant moments in the match but you easily could have missed that Candice was a part of it which was a little sad. There was no Lacey Evans in the match either, but there was the return of Ember Moon from injury. People we’re son angry in the arena when Lana of all people got rid of Ember. Dana Brooke also was very over. The finish saw a final 3 of Sonya Deville, Sarah Logan and pre-match favourite Asuka. Eventually and very surprisingly it was Logan who outlasted the others… only for (in what was essentially the repeat finish from last year with Bayley and Naomi) Carmella to reappear having never been eliminated. She eventually super kicked Logan to the floor below for the win. This was… a battle royal…but better than I thought which in all honesty my expectations were very low

**1/4

Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins defeated The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) to win the Raw Tag Team Championship

The match itself was fairly good in parts but as I called in my blog, as a result of them basically missing or forgetting to do the entire build to this match, the match as it was going on didn’t have half as much heat as it could and maybe should have had. The finish did get a decent pop with Hawkins finally ending his long losing streak with a roll up pin. I’d presume they’ll lose the titles fairly soon possibly right back to The Revival on Raw it maybe even a new team from NXT or a team that comes to Raw in the Superstar shake-up next week.

***

Braun Strowman won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

This was decent in ring but just showed how many people WWE have and yet they still can’t fit everyone on a show with a crazy number of matches. Strength in depth maybe? Lack of direction for most? You decide… anyway of course the two SNL guys hid from Braun pretty much right away and for the entire match almost. Until Braun was the last man standing so they both reappeared and tried to throw him out. After plenty of teases that the impossible was going to happen including it seeming to be down to just Braun and Matt and Jeff Hardy as Colin Jost and Michael Che hid, and also one of them introducing to the ring a guy which he claimed was his therapist (which was funny). Braun chucked them both out. I guess it was fairly sound logic the biggest name should win here, but by that logic why didn’t Asuka win the women’s? Good accolade for world-championship shy Braun I suppose…

**1/2

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The main show began with the anthem being sung, a pretty great WrestleMania video package being played before finally our host for the evening Alexa Bliss came out. She finished by saying she could have a WrestleMania moment at the click of her fingers… so she clicked her fingers and out came HULK HOGAN! I’m not a Hogan guy myself but seeing him at Mania again was kind of cool and the live crowd loved him. He made fun at himself for getting the stadium name famously wrong at Mania 30, and did his usual Hogan speech and then posed with Bliss.

As the two were posing out came Paul Heyman marching to the ring (I hear this was a very very very very late change as this next match was not planned to go first until literally the show began…hmm…). He got in and grabbed a mic and basically said if Lesnar wasn’t in the main event he wanted to be out of here fast, and to be able to go to Las Vegas where he is appreciated (Las Vegas is essentially the home of the UFC so I’m sure that wasn’t coincidental). So Lesnar came out followed by Rollins and we had the Universal Championship match IN THE OPENING MATCH of the WrestleMania 35 main show!

Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman to win the Universal Championship

If you could have booked this match however you wanted you probably couldn’t have done it better than this. Brock beat down Seth around the ringside area before the bell had even rung, tossed him in the ring then out again, did a few suplexes as the match properly got underway, the ref took a bump as Lesnar went for an F5, Rollins hit a low blow, a superkick, THREE Stomps and pinned Lesnar in about 2 1/2 minutes. Seth Rollins pinned Brock Lesnar to win the title in the first match on the card. Just let that sink in. Crowd loved all of this. ***** for the booking, but of course the match itself was only a few minutes.

**3/4

AJ Styles defeated Randy Orton

Jerry Lawler came out to join commentary for this one. Styles won clean with a Phenomenal Forearm. It was fine as a match but I was expecting a little better. Both did most their big moves, Orton even hit an RKO but it was not enough to win. Good for AJ to get a big win, be interested to see what both these do going forward. Could see this being the first in a series. This was deliberately wrestled at a slower pace it seemed which makes me think they’ll wrestle each other again.

***1/4

Lacey Evans came out. Then she left again… I don’t know anymore either…

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated Rusev with Lana & Shinsuke Nakamura, The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) and Ricochet & Aleister Black to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

This was pretty good and really fast paced. Was amazingly cool to see Black and Ricochet compete on this stage. Most memorable spot of the match was Cesaro doing his swing on Ricochet for an absurd amount of time whilst Sheamus was hitting everyone else with his forearm smashes he does. A close 2nd was everyone in a big tower of doom when they all were part of a duplex off the top yet Ricochet nearly landed on his feet and it was crazy how he even came close to landing on his feet. Finish came with basically everyone hitting their finish on one another before being thrown out, until finally the Usos did a double splash combo move on Sheamus.

****

They introduced the Hall of Fame class with DX coming out last. This was really cool.

Shane McMahon defeated The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

This was really what you’d expect for better or more so worse. They brawled for the whole match and went right into the crowd area as they did it. Miz’s Dad got in the ring and went at it with Shane at one stage which was… a sight… and also Shane went to do the elbow through the announce table to Miz but George Mizanin got in the way leading to their… erm… fight… The finish came when they were in the crowd area on top of a platform, Miz superplexed Shane off it and they both fell onto the floor (crash pad but shush it’s wrestling). Bizarrely it was Shane who put himself over Miz for the pin fall. Shane’s punches again where beyond belief bad. God knows what they’ll do with Miz or even Shane now…

**1/4

The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) defeated The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C) , Nia Jax & Tamina and Natalya & Beth Phoenix to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Paige did guest commentary. This wasn’t of the level or even close to the men’s 4 way tag match. But this surprised me not one bit. Beth and Natalya came out dressed like the Hart Foundation and Bret even joined them on the stage which for a giant pop. Beth Phoenix looked decent in-ring considering, and the finish saw her hit the Glam Slam on Bayley off the turnbuckle before The IIconics threw her out and Billie Kay got the pin. They were both very emotional at the win. People watching seemed happy enough despite one of the heel teams winning. But this was not good.

**

Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods defeated Daniel Bryan with Rowan to win the WWE Championship

Remember when I said Rollins vs Lesnar was everything we could have wanted in our dreams? This was the same. Kofi was a megastar to everyone watching, Bryan was hated. The match was really really good and by a mile match of the night. Everything has so much heat behind it as you’d expect. The finish was great too, with Kofi escaping from Bryan’s submission and beating him down before hitting Trouble in Paradise for the win. This got the reaction you’d expect… which was extremely loud. New Day unveiled the new title belt after… which was the old title belt before Bryan’s eco friendly one. Kofi had his kids in the ring as they, Big E and Woods celebrated. This really was everything we wanted. A really great match and a proper all-time amazing moment at the end. I don’t want to talk about this but it happened… basically Big E revealed some new t shirts to commemorate Kofi being champion… it turns out WWE were already advertising them online as the match was still going on. So to those who saw it WWE spoiled one of the biggest matches on their biggest show. I personally didn’t see it so if a Tree falls and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound? I’ll leave that with you… nonetheless… Kofi Kingston is the WWE Champion. What a time to be alive. The afters of this match honestly were incredible, and if you watched NXT Takeover you saw an all time great aftermath of a match with the Main event. This will go down in history amongst the best feel good Mania moments of all time. Daniel Bryan was exceptional as always in this match but this was all about Kofi. Superb stuff.

****3/4

The two SNL guys were backstage with Alexa Bliss. Suddenly Kevin Nash and Scott Hall appeared as doctors ready to give them a Prostate check. This was so weird.

Samoa Joe defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the United States Championship

Joe won a complete squash after Rey hit a 619 but Joe caught him off the Senton with the Coquina Clutch and eventually the ref checked Mysterio and called it off. Just under 1 minute. I’d presume Rey wasn’t fully healed after all then? There was nothing to do with Dominic Rey’s son who had appeared on tv recently. Massive boost for Joe mind you given it was his Mania debut. Booker T was guest commentator.

N/A

Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre

This was very underwhelming. McIntyre was played out by a band and Roman had so much fireworks as he came out it was crazy. Drew looked like a monster in the match, Roman didn’t look as good in the ring as he did with The Shield at Fastlane. Drew battered Roman at various points. Roman won after a Superman Punch and a Spear. Crowd was kind of flat and clearly still worn out emotionally from the Kofi stuff. Reigns hid his face after the win and was very emotional. When you think about it this HAD to be the result of this match. Amazing that during a WrestleMania match nobody really cared good or bad for Roman, so much so a Mexican Wave was going on in the upper decks. It wasn’t Roman being booed it was people boing the end of the wave. Christ.

**3/4

Then came one of the best parts of the show. And If I began by saying it was the Elias segment you will be shocked right? So Elias does this thing where he appears on the big screen playing drums, then a second one of him playing base, then he was in the ring for real doing his usual thing. Suddenly a film on Babe Ruth played… he’s the GOAT in baseball so we really if you listened closely to his most recent run you should have known who was coming out… out comes John Cena… with The Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick!!! He was wearing a Number 3 Yankees jersey, which was Babe Ruth’s number. This got probably the biggest reaction he has got in years and certainly the first Universally positive one on this stage for a while. I know where I was we all went absolutely crazy for it. Cena then, as he did all the time in this gimmick, absolutely ripped Elias apart on the mic. He said he felt like he was watching his movies because this whole thing sucks, called Elias a wasted wrestling experiment, said he’s not half a dog but a little piece of shitsu, your face looks like my nuts but you’ve got a hairier bush and finished with saying ‘no AA, but you’re going to get the FU’ and then he hit him with the mic, the 5 knuckle shuffle and then the FU/AA. This was… brilliant!!! Whoever came up with this isn’t paid enough.

Triple H defeated Batista in a No Holds Barred Match with Triple H’s in-ring career on the line

I enjoyed this. Some didn’t as much. It was very long and late in the show and slow paced. But I personally had fun watching. It was a weapons based fight rather than a wrestling match which it should have been so that was good. Both guys particularly Triple H looked in INSANELY good shape. Batista tripped on the ropes as he came into the ring, that was not so good. Triple H had a cool ‘Mad Max’ (shout out to Dan as I’m not cool enough to watch films like that so didn’t get the reference) entrance. One big spot was HHH removing Batista’s nose ring with pliers. Very babyface of him… HHH also speared Batista through an announce table which was a good looking spot. Triple H of course bought a sledgehammer in to it… leading to a finish where Batista had it, only for Ric Flair to come down and hand Triple H a second sledgehammer. Triple H used the steel steps that were in the ring as almost a boost and jumped off then to hit Batista with the sledgehammer. He then hit a Pedigree for the win. Triple H kicked out of the spinebuster, Spear and Batista Bomb. Batista kicked out of the first Pedigree. This earlier on in the show would’ve been so much better received imo. Batista announced his retirement on social media after the show.

***

Baron Corbin defeated Kurt Angle in Kurt Angle’s farewell match

JBL did guest commentary. Yes the match happened. No interference, no funny business. Corbin pinned him clean and then Kurt took in the applause one last time. Crowd was deathly silent when ref counted the 3. Corbin got the win with the End of Days after Angle missed a moonsault. It was what you’d think. Kurt thanked the fans and asked for a “You suck” chants one last time. I think they might put Corbin against Rollins. This was not a fun watch aside from being able to pay tribute to Kurt before and after. In one of the more poetic moments of the show there was a sign in the crowd you could see when Kurt told people to do the You Suck chants. The sign read “you never sucked Kurt”. He was correct, Kurt Angle has never and will never suck.

**

Demon Finn Balor defeated Bobby Lashley with Lio Rush to win the Intercontinental Championship

Again pretty much what you’d expect. The demon entrance was cool, and he won in less than 5 minutes with a powerbomb (yes, Finn Balor did that to Bobby Lashley) and then the Coupe de Grace. Lashley earlier hit a crazy spear through the ropes to the outside and also the spear in the ring that Finn kicked out of. Exactly what it should have been, particularly given how late it was and it was just before the main event.

**1/4

Alexa came out again in her umpteenth different outfit of the show. She announced the absolutely factual attendance of 82,265. Eventually she bought out R Truth and Carmella who did a dance break.

Becky Lynch defeated Ronda Rousey (C) and Charlotte Flair (C) in a winner takes all match to become the new Raw Women’s Champion and the new Smackdown Women’s Champion

Yes they botched the finish or at least aspects of it. Yes it spoilt the match and the moment. Charlotte came to the arena in a helicopter in homage to a previous entrance of her Dad’s. Ronda was played out by Joan Jett which was cool. Becky was cheered by the crowd but I think they were all so exhausted. They were not alone let me tell you. The match itself was actually pretty good. Charlotte has blood coming from her right arm, apparently from when she had Rousey in the Figure 8 and Becky came off the top with a leg drop. Lots of nearfalls and submissions being broken up throughout. Flair screamed at Ronda for calling wrestling fake and slammed her head into a table that had been set up in the corner multiple times (ILY Charlotte). Becky and Ronda teamed up to throw Charlotte into the table in the corner, then they traded strikes, eventually she went for the Piper’s Pit but Lynch rolled her over for the backslide and the pin. Everyone was caught off guard by this so it didn’t get nearly the pop you’d expect. Ronda’s shoulders were definitely not down fully for the whole 3 count. Worked or botched … regardless the finish to me sucked. Ronda was pissed afterwards and left the ring sharpish and appeared to head in the direction of her husband who was in the crowd. The match was good and the crowd were more alive for it than anything since Kofi winning the title. Becky held both belts up to close the show. Ronda broke her hand during the match. And she IS leaving I hear. She COULD be back but as of now she’s done. Why this didn’t end in a submission if there’s no guarantee she’s coming back and it’s the main event of WrestleMania I don’t know? I heard it was originally going to be a submission but they switched it. I don’t know there reason and I don’t get their logic either.

***

I missed out but there was a backstage thing with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel and Alexa Bliss and Ron Simmons came in and ofc he said DAMN (apologies for missing a minute long backstage segment in a 7.5 hour show). Oh and just an FYI: no Undertaker, no Ambrose, no Kevin Owens. As I said before I liked the show, but it was way too long and there were way too many matches. It was once again a WWE PPV more of moments than great matches. It’ll be historic for sure, 8 titles changing hands will do that for sure. Raw will set up Seth’s next opponent and a Ronda promo where she says she quits. And SD we get Bryan and Kofi setting up their next one. Of course we have the superstar shake up next week too so it could all change again. But this was a very long show with amazing moments with a bizzare finish to the main event. But we got our big 3 babyfaces winning. So at least we have that.

And just to clarify… that finish in the main event was supposed to happen. What wasn’t meant to happen was Ronda’s shoulder coming up part way through it. Commentary and the replays after point it out was odd with that in mind. Ronda didn’t shoot. She’s leaving so everyone chill. Thanks.

Josh.

Evolution 2018: Preview and Predictions

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


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

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

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

Prediction: The Riott Squad to win

Mae Young Classic 2018 Final: Toni Storm V Io Shirai

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

Prediction: Io Shirai wins the 2018 Mae Young Classic

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

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

Prediction: Kairi Sane retains the NXT Women’s Championship

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

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

Prediction: Trish Stratus and Lita win

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship

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

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

Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the Raw Women’s Championship

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

Josh.

Hell In A Cell 2018 Review

I must say already within the first 2 minutes it’s abundantly clear that Jonathan Coachman is 10000 times better in a role as a panel main presenter (as he was with former employer ESPN on there big show Sportscentre), than he is as a commentator. He was intolerable on commentary, he seems so much more natural in this role.

Anyway the kick off show had Paige (who was delightful and legitimately added to the show with her input). The Smackdown GM also confirmed Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton would open the main show (oh god… be careful Jeff). Booker T and David Otunga interchanging and Pete Rosenburg previewing the ppv. We had 1 match before the main show…

KICK OFF SHOW: Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) (C) defeated Rusev Day (Rusev & Aiden English with Lana) to retain

Unsurprisingly given the quality of those involved, this was far better than your usual pre-show match. One benefit of dual branded ppvs is it puts a quality control on what appears (well… that’s the theory anyway). But this was a very fun match. The main story was they wanted you to think Rusev Day would win, which of course meant they weren’t. The prelude to the match itself saw New Day and English compete in clearing their throat (as Aiden does before his usual musical introductions). Rusev was super over (shock, he has been for about a year now…). The match whilst with elements of comedy was not short of good action, English in particular going all out to impress. Rusev Day, despite some recent differences, seemed on the same page throughout and got a few nearfalls. The finish was really good; after English did an acrobatic dive to the outside (not sure how often he’s done that before) with Rusev and Lana looking on on the outside and the rest of the New Day OOA, English applied Rusev’s finisher The Accolade and the crowd went wild hoping at long last Rusev Day would have their moment. But with his grip lessening and Rusev begging to be tagged in, Aiden persisted and his hold was eventually powered out of. And shortly after Rusev was taken care of, Kofi Kingston hit his Trouble In Paradise kick on English, and much to Rusev and Lana’s clear dismay towards Aiden, and New Day retained. As pre show matches go this was the best for some time, probably the best since New Day themselves last appeared in this spot.

***

MAIN SHOW:

A really cool video package running through all the matches tonight opened the show, it’s this that made me realize just how stacked this card is, fingers crossed it lives up to expectations…

Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy in a Hell In A Cell Match

This was a good, good match with elements of a weird finish, it was what we all expected: Jeff would fuck himself up and lose, but the story they told along the way was more brutal than even I was expecting. There was a few spots in this match I haven’t seen before so credit to them for that, Jeff did not jump off the cell thank god but did the next best or worst thing (depending on your point of view). Commentary made a point of saying as Jeff came to the ring that he’d always wanted to do a Cell match before retirement, and also upon entrance and throughout the match Jeff did the DELETE gesture which I thought a lovely touch given his brother’s recent ‘retirement’. They went back and forth in the early part, with both utilizing both the cell structure and various weapons. Hardy was on top for most the early part which led me to think he was losing, and I also noted that Corey Graves stated that Jeff was in “tremendous physical condition”…. No Corey, it is widely known that in 2018 he is far, far, far from that. The crowd whilst they popped for the big spots seemed to be always waiting for the chaos in this match, but luckily for them they got plenty. Jeff set a ladder upside down outside the ring, only for Orton to launch Jeff onto it (a spot I haven’t seen before), in the ring Orton hit Hardy with a chair and then used the belt of Jeff to attack his already hurt back (Corey this time made a point of saying the belt had steel studs in so would hurt more, which was a far more valid point from Mr Graves). Another unique spot was when Randy placed Jeff in between a smaller ladder and began pressing down on it, but ti was nowhere near as gruesome a visual as when Orton (after searching through a toolbox under the ring) used a SCREWDRIVER, and whilst holding Hardy he placed the screwdriver in his earlobe and began twisting it and removed the earlobe… ‘thing’ in his ear that stretches it, this visually looked horrific. Hardy eventually got his revenge by using his own belt to lash at Orton’s back, the studs leaving terrible cut marks all across Randy’s back. Hardy would eventually escape a possible RKO with a Twist of Fate before putting a chair on top of The viper and hitting a Swanton Bomb, but only got a nearfall. By this point Orton had a horrific looking cut on his leg to that was gushing blood. The match ended after Jeff put up a table, a larger ladder and a smaller ladder all side-by-side-by-side in the ring, he put Orton on the table, scaled the smaller ladder, onto the larger ladder… THEN he was hanging from the roof of the Cell structure and was winging back and forward to gain momentum (the idea being he falls through Orton on the table below)… and of course Orton moved as Jeff came down and he crashed and burned. The referee immediately and frantically called for the Cell to be raised so Jeff could receive treatment, and after briefly arguing the pint with the referee Orton pinned Hardy and demanded the ref make the count which he reluctantly. did. Orton wins as the ref contuses to scream for medical help for Jeff. It was a bit odd the finish but brutal nonetheless, there was a small time until Orton’s music played as Hardy was carried away on a stretcher, if it was anyone else I’d think this was fully kayfabe but with Jeff Hardy who knows.

*** 3/4

Kayla Braxton interviewed AJ Styles about how personal Samoa Joe had gone in recent weeks, with AJ saying how much he can’t wait for this match so he can rip Joe’s heart from his chest and walk away as WWE Champion.

I can see Noelle Foley (Mick’s daughter) sat behind the commentary tables, I still wonder what level of involvement her Dad will have in the main event later… but anyway up next… oh my…

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair (C) to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion

The front few rows of the crowd have small signs that say ‘I boo the woo’ on them. Genius. Right from the introductions it was very much clear that Becky was the more popular with crowd of the two women, with some even booing Charlotte as she was announced. The early part of the match showed me two things, Becky’s facial as a heel are tremendous, and the chemistry the two have as best friends irl is very much evident in the ring when against each other. The mat wrestling and exchanges were so crisp throughout, the highlight being a Becky Armbar which was countered from a potential hold from Charlotte, Lynch transitioned into a Triangle hold until Flair lifted her up and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. Another great sequence among the ruthless Lynch offence was when Charlotte has Becky in a Boston Crab submission until Lynch got the ropes and the momentum switch sent Flair into the bottom turnbuckle. This advantage continued as Lynch locked in the dis-arm-her only for Charlotte to get to the ropes to disappoint a crowd that was begging to see Charlotte tap. The finish came out of nowhere as Charlotte went for her signature Spear only for Becky to catch her and roll her onto the mat (almost how Randy Orton would for his powerslam –like move) and instead of slamming her Becky held Charlotte down and got the Pin. A different but creative way to finish and it doesn’t definitively give Lynch a win so leaves a rematch very much valid. Crowd popped big time for the title change, an interesting call but the right one for me. The roles reversed from Summerslam as a dissapointed Charlotte looked on as Lynch held up her newly won title. Charlotte offered the handshake, but Becky trash-talked and held the title up before walking away leaving Flair left to contemplate what had happened. No double turn just yet then…

****

The Smackdown commentary team inform us that Jeff Hardy has been taken to a local medical facility suffering from severe abdominal pain (amongst a lot more I’m sure). They then recap the Smackdown tag title match form the kick off show. New Day are then shown celebrating backstage, they welcome in ‘bootyworth’ who I think is their butler. Kramer Kingsman (Kofi’s alter-ego) then interviews Woods and Big E, E promotes their title defense in Australia against The Bar and they then shower bootyworth in pancakes. This was…. there…

Raw Tag Team Championship: Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler (C) defeated Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose to retain

This was one of the best WWE main roster tag team matches I’ve seen for some time. The match was good from the vert start, McIntyre was made to look strong throughout, not that the others weren’t but it did seem Drew was protected and made to look as tough as he is which was good to see. There were so many good sequences and moves in this match it’d be impossible to list them all, plenty of well-timed hot tags by both teams, one spot where Rollins and Ziggler both tagged in, Rollins shortly after went for a suicide dive to both opponents on the outside but they caught him, and then Dean did a suicide dive of his own to lay everyone out, with Rollins and Ziggler both re-entering the ring just at the count of nine. Another great sequence was Rollins and Ziggler doing a series of pinfall roll-throughs until Ziggler hit the Zigzag for a nearfall. Not long after that Rollins hit McIntyre with a a kick and then a frog splash off the top onto Drew’s back for a nearfall. Rollins then tired to take out Ziggler on the outside but Dolph moved, with Dean and McIntyre in the ring Drew knocked Dean to the floor and then did the old Shawn Michaels flip-up which from a giant like Drew was some feat. Ziggler tagged in as Dean took out Drew, Rollins would then tag in and hit a great looking superplex on Ziggler but after rolling through for a second Suplex McIntyre re-entered from the outside and hit a Claymore on Rollins which sent him crashing to the mat, giving Dolph the chance to stretch his arm over Seth for the pin. The pace this whole match was phenomenal, I haven’t seen a WWE min roster tag match like this for a while. Drew carried Dolph and the titles over his shoulders at the finish. Really great stuff from all involved.

**** 1/2

The next match being where it is on the card leads me to further think my theory of Miz v Bryan at Mania for the title is happening.

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) defeated Samoa Joe to retain

They replayed Joe’s awesome storybook segment from Smackdown this past week before he came out. Hilarious how the commentators castrate his persona for his sickening he has been with regards to AJ’s family as the crowd loudly chants ‘JOE, JOE, JOE’ as he first walks out. The match began with Styles on offense before Joe took over. Joe hit an amazing-looking flying forearm through the ropes to send Styles on the outside into the announcer’s table. AJ hit a reverse DDT off the top rope for a nearfall, Joe later hit a powerbomb for a 2 count but immediately picked him up and turned it into a Boston Crab then an STF submission but AJ got to the ropes. Joe punished Styles with vicious strikes throughout, AJ came-back with an amazing looking Rackbomb (he had Joe on his shoulders and then slammed him down) for a nearfall then hit a 450 springboard 450 splash to go close again. He would then try the Styles Clash only to be catapulted and then busted open heavily from the mouth after a strong Joe Clothesline. The finish, much like the Women’s title match but even more so, left it open for the next match between the two; AJ set up for the Phenomenal Forearm but Joe would catch him and eventually lock in the Coquina Clutch, then with Joe’s back to the mat AJ flipped over and got the roll-over pin to retain. Immediately after the bell Joe was furiously arguing with the referee, and went over to the announcers too to plead the case that in fact he won the match. At this stage it was confusing what had happened. Joe in the ring held up the championship until AJ kicked him out the ring and staggered to his feet to hold the belt up. eventually we were shown a replay from the other side view that showed AJ tapping out as the referee counted the 2 of the pin. Controversial but clever. Joe stormed to the back looking for Smackdown GM Paige. This was a good match as expected.

****

Ronda is shown shadow boxing whilst given a pep talk by Natalya

Charlie Caruso interview Miz and Maryse backstage. They’re in a very ott white outfits with silver lining with white and black sunglasses, as heels and for their act their ridiculous is appropriate. Miz and Maryse seem fired up. Lets hope the match delivers as good as all involved are.

Maryse & The Miz defeated Brie Bella & Daniel Bryan

I’m not sure there is a more likeable couple in the history of WWE TV than Brie and Bryan, Maryse and Miz are the perfect foils for them to play off. There was a great video package recapping the feud so far before the match. The story of the match was that Brie wanted to fight Maryse but Maryse would always tag out to The Miz. It seemed the goal of Miz and Maryse as shown on Smackdown last week was as much to win this match as it was to keep Maryse out of harms way. As expected the men did most the in-ring stuff, and as expected what Daniel Bryan did was excellent as always. At one point Miz rolled outside away from Bryan and pointed to his head to suggest he was cleverer, Bryan did the same and tagged in Brie, touche! Of course though Maryse immediately tagged out and posed for good measure afterwards. At one point Miz was on top hitting the IT kicks which got plenty of heat.

Just after Daniel Bryan (who had to RETIRE due to a series of concussions due to too many knocks on the head) missed a diving headbutt as Miz rolled out the way. I hope I never ever see Daniel Bryan attempt even, let alone miss a diving headbutt ever again.

Eventually with Miz out of the ring Brie was finally tagged in. Miz quickly got in the way so Brie hit Miz, she then came off the ropes and slid under Miz to hit a baseball slide to Maryse before repeatedly smashing her head on the announcers table (this got the loudest crowd reaction of the match, which in a match involving Miz and Daniel Bryan is great). After Bryan hit a running knee off the apron onto Miz on the outside (Miz who had a natsy cut on his face by this point) Mr and Mrs Danielson put Mr and Mrs Mizanin into the ring and did the double YES kicks spot, but not before Bryan emphatically told Miz “NOBODY TOUCHES MY WIFE” which was really a cool thing to watch. As they go for the last big kick Miz and Maryse roll outside, leading to Brie throwing Maryse into the ring as Bryan and Miz fought outside. Eventually Brie threw Mryse into Miz to send him outside, she rolled Maryse up for a 2 count but Maryse rolled Brie over and held her down for an un-believable finish. I don’t mean unbelievable in that it was shocking, more that the way she held her down it looked unrealistic that’d be enough to pin her. Storytelling wise thought its very clever, now Miz and his wife have both separately pinned Bryan and his wife. The match was fine but more about the angle itself than the in-ring action. Corey Graves talking about how much an athlete Maryse was and an “in-ring technician” was hilarious and tremendous heel commentary.

***

Another Jeff update; apparently Jeff has been throwing up blood. So that’s how they write him off tv then as I expected.

Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Alexa Bliss to retain  

Bliss came out with Alicia Fox and Mickie James, Ronda came out with Natalya. As expected the match was centered around Ronda ribs she injured on Raw. But I’m not sure if they went to ott with it, I guess they had to make this match seem like a genuine contest somehow so having Ronda an carry injury did make sense. Ronda did out wrestle Bliss in the early stages, but Bliss was at most turns helped out by her cronies. Bliss targeted Ronda’s ribs throughout with some pretty stiff looking kicks and attacks, she also has Ronda in an abdominal stretch (the idea Bliss could legit submit, injury or not, Rousey was a little far fetched for me). At one point Ronda and Alexa were perched in the top turnbuckle, Bliss striked her in the injured ribs leaving Ronda hung upside down for Bliss to smash her ribs. This got a nearfall (one of many for both in the match). With the ref’s back turned both Fox and James stretched Ronda around the ringpost onto her ribs, until Natalya made the save laying out Fox. Although this left James to still go after Rousey before Ronda put her away. The finish came with Bliss mocking Ronda thinking she was in control after a double crossbody left Ronda worse off and Bliss followed up with the 100000th (it felt like that) kick to the ribs. But with Bliss cowered over Ronda it was Rousey who took over, she did her mean face (Alexa sold it perfectly to her credit), she did her flurry of quick punches to Bliss in the corner, she picked Bliss up and slammed her. But this was a slight modification on Ronda’s usual slam, this one looked a lot better and more normal so it looked like she has taken advise from people (I’ve seen a few online) so good job to her for that. and just after she put in the Armbar and Bliss tapped immediately. This was fine. I felt the rib stuff was played on too much, Ronda sold a lot which I was unsure about but I understand why they had to. The finish and result was the correct one, but this was far from perfect booking without being completely off.

** 3/4 

They recapped the controversial Joe vs Styles ending. We then cut to Joe backstage with the ref of the match watching the footage back, Joe wants answers from Paige too. Paige tells Joe to calm down and not to interrupt her again. She says the referee’s decision is final but that Joe will get his rematch in 3 weeks at WWE Super Showdown (are we supposed to pretend this match hadn’t already been announced?). Joe says 3 weeks isn’t enough and he wants AJ with no count-outs, no disqualifications and no excuses. Paige says she agrees with Joe and that there has to be a winner, “don’t worry, there will be” he responds.

They then ran through the card for the Australia show.

Universal Championship (with Special Guest Referee Mick Foley): Roman Reigns (C) v Braun Strowman in a Hell In A Cell Match was ruled a No Contest

Mick Foley (looking in his best shape physically and moving wise for a good 15 years or so) came out to a decent reception. They had been heavily promoting the Foley show on the network just after the PPV. Braun got a big pop, Roman got a mixed ovation. Braun grabbed the title belt during the introductions which got a big reaction and then the action commenced. Braun launched Roman into the cell a few times, with him trashtalking Roman as he went. Braun really did dominate the early part of this one, he got a kendo stick from under the ring and decided this wasn’t enough so got a chair and this sufficed. But after this Roman attacked him with the kendo stick and broke this over Braun, but just after Braun snapped it over his knee. Eventually back in the ring Roman hit Braun across the back with the chair, eventually Braun caught the chair and eventually charged Roman but he moved, causing Braun to go shoulder first into the turnbuckle (yes that spot for the 100th time). A DDT onto the chair by Reigns then got a 2 count. Roman then did 2 Superman Punches before Braun caught him on the 3rd for a Chokeslam for a 2 count. Braun accused Foley of being rusty as he did hit the mat a 3rd time, and the commentators said similar which didn’t help. Roman later hit a great 2 count like the Cesaro European uppercut but did it with a Superman punch. It was a cool spot. Roman then got a table from under the ring, but he sees Braun getting back to his feet and runs round to Spear him, instead he runs into steel steps that Braun was holding. Braun followed this up by hitting a downed Roman with the steps for another 2 count. Braun did the running Powerslam for a 2 count which I legitimately thought was the finish. Roman made his comeback with 2 Superman Punches and then he Speared Braun through the table that was set up in the corner. This got another 2 count.

And then… shit got absolutely ridiculous…

So with both men down Drew and Dolph came to ringside, trying to get into the cell with a referee arguing against them. Seth and Dean ran down to even the odds, they chased them down and brawled around the ring as Braun and Roman were still down. Seth and Dean cleared an announce table, Drew made the save, then Dolph and Drew cleared the announce table, Drew and Dean brawled, Ziggler climbed the cell to try and escape the chaos, Rollins climbed after him, Rollins and Ziggler brawled ON TOP OF THE CELL, Dean climbed the cell (with a kendo stick on his back for good measure)… Reigns and Strowman are STILL down by the way… Rollins superkicked Ziggler, Drew made the save, Dean attacked the heels with the kendo stick, and eventually all 4 men were down. Ziggler climbs down, but Seth sees him and catches up with him, they both brawl, and are eventually hanging on the side of the cell, they go back and forth, and then both Ziggler and Rollins fall down through the announce tables below, and my oh my did they fall HARD!… Reigns and Strowman are still down by the way…

And then… Shit got absolutely ridiculous on a whole new level… ABSURDLY RIDICULOUS…

BROCK LESNAR’S MUSIC HIT! And then here he was with Paul Heyman with him. Heyman argued with a ref (there was a lot of sound outs so I presumed he was swearing a lot), Lesnar KICKED THE DOOR DOWN OF THE CELL, he makes his way to the ring with both participants (yes there was STILL A MATCH GOING ON) and whilst this was happening Heyman sprayed Pepper Spray in Mick Foley’s eyes to take him OOA. Lesnar then picked up a part of the broken table that was smashed by the Spear spot and smashed Braun across the back with it, and then he does the same to Roman. Lesnar then F5’d Braun and F5’d Reigns, and then he left. Him and Heyman left. Another ref came in, looked at both men and WAVED THE MATCH OFF. The bell didn’t sound, there was no standing 10 count, he just waved it off. And that was the finish. And that was how the show went off the air.

***3/4

So… he’s back. He’s back because he’s going to wrestle Roman in Saudi Arabia in November. This is going to take place a few days after Evolution. It’s going to be as disgustingly propaganda polluted political advert as last time. I don’t want to talk about it anymore as the whole thing makes me feel sick.

This was a great show, with a terrible finish to the main event. And most shows are remembered by it’s main event historically. So there you go. Match wise it was the best show of the year on the main roster, but the main event finish… wowsers…

Josh.

Hell In A Cell 2018: Preview and Predictions

Off the back of the best WWE PPV of the year it’s been made even more clear in the weeks that have followed since Summerslam that a new era is beginning in WWE. Right now the title holders are probably the most star studded that that groups has been for some time, and the next WWE PPV promises to be more of the same. This on paper should be a really good show, but how many times particularly in 2018 have we said that and the show not quite deliver? Although, as I’ll mention, there are 1 or 2 odd spots in terms of stipulation and booking leading to some of the matches it still promises to be an eventful a show. So lets get right into my preview and predictions of Hell In A Cell 2018…

Jeff Hardy v Randy Orton – Hell In A Cell Match

Why is this match inside Hell In A Cell and (as of yet) Becky vs Charlotte isn’t? Or Joe vs AJ isn’t? I feel like they’re doing their upmost to push a secondary feud as a huge deal. And yes as much as it has been somewhat personal via the promos from both and the simple fact upon his return Orton targeted Hardy immediately. My fear for this match, and the main reason I’m not as excited as I should be for it, is this overriding fear that Jeff is going to do a Swanton off the top of the cell. And that’s where I am with Jeff Hardy now, and it really saddens me that. Seeing Jeff I still am happy, seeing him fly off from up high and inflict further damage on his already battered body I enjoy far less so. I used to get excited when Jeff would climb up high, now I cringe and squirm. Randy Orton is still in decent shape, and can still go fairly close to his peak level. Not that Jeff isn’t but he just doesn’t have to do half the stuff he still does. And as was the case with Shane McMahon last year, this Hell In A Cell Match for everybody watching is just going to be a wait to see what the high spot is. Result wise I see Orton winning, be it as a direct result of a Jeff hardy crash-and-burn spot or not, and then hopefully Jeff can be written out for a bit so he can go home, see Beth and the kids, and REST!

Prediction: Randy Orton

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘Rusev Day’ (Rusev and Aiden English w/Lana) v ‘The New Day’ (C)

They’ve already announced New Day vs The Bar for the show in Australia. They should’ve put the tag titles on Rusev & English NINE MONTHS AGO! They’re going to do the Rusev Day split in the next week or so I’m almost certain of it. And that alone makes me almost completely un-interested in this match, and very very very sad.

Prediction: New Day to retain

WWE Championship: Samoa Joe v AJ Styles (C)

This should be inside the cell. End of. The feud is fast becoming one of the more personal ones of the year, and for me this is the level that the Nakamura-Styles rivalry should’ve got to. It’s the feud that I think people will remember most fondly when we look back at this title reign in years to come. As always Joe, when the spotlight is on him and he has a major program, has absolutely shone as a legit monster, and a proper asshole. And it is that sadistic side of Joe which has light the fire in the AJ Styles character and has further cemented how much you will be able to empathize with him, which for your top guy as the WWE Champion is exactly what you need him to be. So AJ and Joe are a match made in heaven. The last match ended in a DQ, They already have another match lined up for the super-show in Australia, so it is very possible that there is a title change here. But the cynic in me sees that the cover star for the WWE 2K19 video game, which is out at the start of October, is AJ Styles. So they’re not going to have their cover star lose the WWE Championship and take an L on a big PPV in a big-time match up right? So based on all that I’ll say AJ to win, but don’t be surprised if Joe wins the title.

Prediction: AJ to retain

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss v Ronda Rousey (C)

Lock of the night. Not a chance that Alexa is getting the title back here. Match should be short, one sided, maybe some form of interference or shenanigans from Mickie James or Natalya or somebody, but don’t be surprised if this match largely follows the Summerslam match. I really don’t see what they’re going to do much different, and given the stuff with The Bellas still has at least a month and a half to go I wouldn’t think they’d start that at Hell In A Cell, more likely 24 hours later… 90% chance this ends with Ronda retaining. And with it likely to be the last match of this feud I’d be surprised if this wasn’t another clean, Armbar, Ronda win.

Prediction: Rousey to retain

Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella v The Miz and Maryse

I could see this match, of all on the show, going anyway. Miz pinning Bryan I’d actually see as the least likely, and I don’t see them being able to get too much out of a win via Brie and Maryse. Add that to the fact that Maryse and Brie have a singles match on the Smackdown go-home show so they’ll have done their individual ‘thing’ and by default I see Bryan getting the physical win over Miz. Now… I’ve said this in pretty much very preview and review blog I’ve done since this was all first teased shortly after the last superstar shakeup, but it all ends with Miz v Bryan at Mania for the WWE Title. And so whilst it may look like we are going one way, there’s bound to be many, many twist and turns between now and April next year at MetLife Stadium. I could see Miz and Maryse getting a sneaky heel win, and it’d be decent promotion for their TV show too which is getting a 2nd season by the way, but Brie would seem to be moving more towards whatever Nikki Bella and Ronda will be doing, and as such is part of another match at the big show in Australia. As for Miz and Bryan they too have a big match scheduled for the show, a match in which the winner will get a future WWE title shot. And so logic would suggest that Bryan has to get some form of win over Miz some place surely? Miz won at Summerslam, I think he’ll win in Australia (then beat AJ and we eventually get to Miz v Bryan at Mania) so 50-50 modern-day WWE booking leads me to believe that Daniel Bryan and Brie will pick up the win here. Lets just hope we get lots of The Miz v Daniel Bryan, and less of Brie missing a dive and falling on her head (I refer you to her horrific bump on Raw a few weeks back) and Maryse being somewhat passable in the ring. Fingers crossed.

Prediction: Bryan and Brie to win

Raw Tag Team Championship: ‘The Shield’ (Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) v Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre (C)

This’ll be good, really really good. Greta storytelling all round leading into this, everyone involved now comes across as a big star, which particularly for Ziggler is a difference form where they have been. Rollins every week continues to go from strength to strength and for me is doing the best work all-round of his career, as he continues to solidify his spot as superstar of the year so far. Ambrose since his return has slotted straight into his previous spot, but now has an awesome physique and an even more deranged way about him, and yet the possibility of a heel turn down the line remains an exciting possibility. Dolph Ziggler should count his blessing everyday that Drew has rejuvenated his career and made him the most relevant he has been for some time. And to Ziggler’s credit he too has raised his game all round since his partnership with his now fellow tag team champion began shortly after Wrestlemania. And Drew? Well, he’s a star. Just look at him and hear him talk and that’s blatantly obvious. He’ll be facing Roman for the title later down the line I’m almost sure of it. SO what happens here then? A great match as I said, but I presume Roman will go over later in the show, and Rollins already has the IC title so I don’t think they will put all of the titles on The Shield just yet… If they did it’d give everyone involved in the entire Shield vs all the Raw heels story more of a purpose, but I don’t trust they’ll do it in a way that isn’t Shield over-kill, so far so good with The Shield #3 but lets not rush it. Given where they seem to be heading towards Survivor Series with this whole thing this is far from over, Australia Super-Show, Survivor Series and probably way beyond.

Prediction: Dolph and Drew to retain

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

I pray this isn’t going to go the same way as many others have before them. WWE have what should be an EASY home run with a rivalry between these 2 now-former best friends. But WWE have Charlotte as their top female on Smackdown and that’s been clear since she moved brands originally. But Becky has fast become the people’s champion. They maybe should’ve called an audible at Summerslam and had Becky go over, but it appears they want her to chase it for a while. I haven’t seen a female be as over as Becky Lynch is right now since Bayley in NXT 2015-2016 ish. But she’s a heel, a badass one, but a heel. Most heels in WWE are eventually made to look stupid, good GOD I hope they don’t do that to Becky. I hope Charlotte doesn’t get turned on by the sheer fact that she’s opposing Lynch, and in some people’s mind is the only thing stopping Lynch be the champion, and by some people’s mindset she’s wrongly doing so. Given the nature of the confrontations between the two, not to mention the backstory and the on-going story that Lynch is trying to get out of Charlotte’s shadow, but this should be inside the Cell. And Lynch should probably get the title. NOW…. if you still want to do Charlotte v Ronda at Mania you can still do that, and still give the people what they want by putting the Smackdown title on Lynch. You have this feud go a few shows, maybe either side of the 4 horsewomen v 4 horsewomen dream match if you want to do that, and around the turn of the year you make Lynch the champion. You have Charlotte win the Royal Rumble after a comeback story of how she lost to Lynch and her redemption and her only way of getting a title back and getting to Mania by winning the Rumble, and then she does. Charlotte chooses to face Ronda over Lynch, maybe Becky could face maybe Asuka, maybe even Shayna Baszler, but that could be sorted closer to the time no problem. And after all that you have everyone happy, you still get Ronda v Charlotte at Mania, Becky gets the title, and you can keep Charlotte babyface and turn back Becky in-line with what the crowd want her to be. PLEASE WWE TAKE NOTE, PLEASE?!?!?

Prediction: Charlotte to retain

Universal Championship: Braun Strowman v Roman Reigns (C) – Hell In A Cell Match with Special Guest Referee MICK FOLEY

Remember when they spent almost a full year making Braun into the top babyface in the company, had him win and close their big money show holding a made up belt, and had him win a guaranteed championship match, and we all thought he’d be the savior of the Summerslam main event? Yeah all that… and then they turned Braun heel. And everyone who assumed at first Braun was less of a heel and more an opponent of the Universal Champion, who just so happened to be Roman Reigns, as soon as he teamed with the top heel team on the show it was confirmed that after a year they change course. Or maybe this was the plan all along, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. But we shouldn’t moan really, The Shield are back together and all 3 members are over as big time singles stars too. 2/3 have titles, and their in big time main event segments which usually involve a chaotic brawl every single week, and don’t forget the simple fact that Brock Lesnar sin’t the Universal Champion anymore, and that the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP is on our TV every week, as opposed to once every few months on the shoulder of Mr Lesnar. So what of this match then? Well for starters, yes for those of you who may have missed it this is indeed Braun’s Money in the Bank cash-in match. And whilst the logic of putting it into the Cell to keep Ambrose/Rollins/Ziggler/McIntyre from interfering, it does seem a little rushed to put this match in the cell, even given the long history between the two men involved. But I guess it fits the necessity of having a Hell In A Cell PPV where you have to have a big cell match to close the show. And this is the blockbuster match of the show, so it does make sense from that point of view I suppose. I’d be astounded after all the build up if they changed the title so soon, or anytime soon to be honest. I’d feel like, and I think everyone else would too, a sense of ‘oh god, here we go again, another long chase for years to come’ with Roman if he were to drop the title so soon after FINALLY winning it. I hear the Shield 3 way for Mania and even The Rock being banded about as future plans for Roman, and none of those make sense without the Universal Championship draped across the Big Dog’s shoulder.

UPDATE: As of the go-home show of Raw; MICK FOLEY is now the special guest referee for this match. I see no reason, aside from it being 20 year since his famous Cell match against The Undertaker, why this is the case but it’s still and always is cool to see Foley on TV. I don’t think he’s able to take any bumps anymore but I’m sure he’ll give as much attitude as he gets from Braun and Roman during the course of the match, so that’ll be fun to see.

Prediction: Roman Reigns to retain

Hell In A Cell much like almost every WWE PPV in 2018 looks as if it could be an awesome show… but as has been seen they often don’t completely deliver. There is a lot that could be great on this show, but WWE have so often shown now they can screw up the most easiest of things to make good. So lets see shall we. Good luck everybody…

Josh.

Summerslam 2018 Review

Kick off show:

Andrade Cien Almas & Zelina Vega v Rusev & Lana

First of all I should admit Lana has improved in the ring. It was clear to see in this match. Also FYI No Aiden English during the match. He did make a very brief backstage appearance just before in a short segment with Lana and Rusev.

The Barclays Centre is half empty. This makes me sad.

This has been all Almas v Rusev so far. Which is good. With Almas well on top.

During a dual screen with a Lesnar – Roman promotional video Vega pulled down Lana so Rusev couldn’t tag her in.

Rusev using his strength to push Almas off the top.

Lana is in…oh boy… she’s in charge vs Vega, even getting a couple of nearfalls. Until Vega tripped Lana face first into the turnbuckle. Rusev and Almas brawl outside, eventually after Lana slapped Almas, Vega came from behind Lana and pinned her with her feet on the ropes. However as she was so far from the ropes she had to rush to do the spot but thankfully just had her feet on the ropes by the count of 3.

WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT!?!?!

*

Charlie Caruso interviews Paul Heyman backstage… he essentially tells her Brock will get rid of Roman tonight. That he will take down Cormier and beat Roman up too. He was decent on mic as per. Heyman once again claiming to have spoilers. All this promo did was convince me Brock is going to lose.

The 3 gms are backstage. Chatting a whole lot of nothing tbh promoting the show. Zzzzzz……………………….. with Corbin coming in to “banter” with Kurt. Paige and Drake banter him off. Again a whole lot of not much substance tbh.

Cruiserweight Championship: Drew Gulak v Cedric Alexander (C)

Gulak already trying to ‘wrestle’ Alexander to no evail. Cedric using his speed to escape a potential Gu-lock with a dropkick.

Gulak with a hard foot to Cedric before doing a variation of a knee breaker. Gulak in charge now.

Gulak has a rest hold on as they do another dual screen to advertise Joe vs AJ… In the meantime Gulak still in charge.

Crowd, albeit half full, is sooooo dead rn.

Gulak has Cedric in a form of a gorey especiale (I’ve absolutely no idea how to spell what Nigel called it but it was a submission of some form).

Alexander gets in some offence but his neck, still hurting from Gulak’s submission, means he can’t make most of his advantage.

After Cedric goes HAM on Gulak with strikes etc… he flies over the ropes to the outside onto Gulak.

Nigel calls Cedric the very best in the world under 205 pounds… fyi Ricochet is 195… just saying…

Gulak pushes Cedric off the top rope, Gulak has the Gu-lock on Cedric using the ropes for support to damage Cedric’s neck even more. Only a 2 count after mind.

Gulak really has a neck hold locked in but Cedric manages to strike his way out with a big back elbow strike.

Some good chain wrestling from both, lots of nearfalls… eventually after a load of roll up attempts Cedric wins.

I’ve seen a good 20 matches in my time watching 205 live that were way better than that.

**

Samoa Joe does an interview with the panel. And ofc he’s awesome.

Raw Tag Team Championship: ‘The Revival’ v ‘The B Team’ (C)

Revival shatter machine Axel about 20 seconds in. Although he wasn’t the legal guy, Dallas is hurt off a dragon screw. Revival dominating. Good good.

Wider takes out Axel again as he finally goes to get on the apron again. I’ve a terrible feeling he may come in and win the match eventually… Revival still methodically destroy Bo… until he hits a neckbreaker off the rope on Wilder and he eventually finally gets the hot tag to Axel. Dawson is in now too…

Dawson has Axel pinned, but after being hit by Wilder snapping Dallas’ neck on the top rope & he fell backwards into the pin attempt into them and it rolls it over and somehow B team win and retain. FML.

3/4 * (0.75 stars)

Alexa Bliss blows off Caruso who tried to interview her

From the pre show it seems Lesnar vs Roman is going on last. And from what they’re saying I’m so convinced now Roman wins.

MAIN SHOW:

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins w/Dean Ambrose v Dolph Ziggler (C) w/Drew McIntyre

A brilliant show opener. A match that had everything. Superb stuff. Towards the end in particular it was spectacular. Rollins got the fairly suprising win with a superkick followed by the Curb Stomp after Dean Ambrose stopped Drew McIntyre from interfering , giving him a Dirty Deeds on the floor. Seth was busted open at some point towards the end, not sure if it was when he went into a turnbuckle. Highlight of the match though was an Invernted suplex into a sidewalk slam by Seth which was AWESOME. Crowd popped big towards end when Rollins won, although we DID NOT get a heel turn from Dean afterwards.

**** 1/2

The Bella Twins did a backstage interview. They’re teasing being at Evolution… hmm… and also said they’ll be front row for Ronda later …

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘The New Day’ (Big E & Xavier Woods w/Kofi Kingston) v ‘The Bludgeon Brothers’ (Harper & Rowan) (C)

New Day win by DQ. Some great moves throughout this one, including a great lookig elbow frop from Xavier to the outside off the top rope. It looked like New Day would hit their finish until Rowan came in and used the mallet. Harper did the same after the match. A fine match kinda ruined by a lame finish. Sets up a rematch though for sure.

*** 1/2

MITB Briefcase: Kevin Owens v Braun Strowman (H)

Braun squashes KO in a matter of minutes. Ok

N/A

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

In the best match of Carmella’s career the least likely of the 3 to win won.

Becky was super super over. A good good good match. For the finish Becky had Carmella in the dis-armher until Charlotte hit the natural selection on Becky for the win. CHARLOTTE NEW SD WOMEN’S CHAMPION!

*** 3/4

After the match after initially appearing to congratulate her friend Becky then attacks her. Crowd go wild, Charlotte devastated and actually in tears after the attack.

WWE Championship: Samoa Joe v AJ Styles (C)

An awesome match ends in dq. This was great. Both men executed their A game. Highlights included Joe doing a tope as well as kicking out of a Styles clash. He even teased doing a Muscle Buster! AJ during the Styles Clash seemed to lose control of Joe before locking his 2nd arm before the drop, so instead hit pretty much a 1 armed move which I admired the quick thinking.

Towards the end Joe absolutely launched Styles into the Steel Steps which busted Styles open. AJ’s Wife and Daughter (as Joe referred to on mic at the start of the match and again here) were sat in the crowd. And then Joe got the heat when stood on the announce table, he got the mic again and said “Hey Wendy, I made you a promise, Daddy was coming home. It looks like he’s not but I’ll be your new Daddy!” Crowd popped big for this as AJ snapped;

He tackled Joe off the table and then charged at him through the barricade and eventually Styles was DQd after attacking Joe with a chair. Eventually AJ went into the crowd to see to his wife and daughter, and although after she intially appeared reluctant to see him (as he was bleeding) Styles hugged his daughter and walked off through the crowd with his family. Whrn he marched to the back after Samoa Joe looked very angry indeed! Joe solidified his place as the best talker in the company. And as a proper heel asshole challenger.

This set up the rematch I’m almost certain in Hell In a Cell (next ppv) for sure.

**** 1/2

Elias came out for his “performance”. But after his initial usual stuff he went to play his guitar and it snapped in half! He was angry and messed up his ‘set’. And that was it. No interference, little reference after it by commentary. Why? Elias with an f bomb here too.

Miz backstage with B Team. Claims to them he’ll beat Bryan. B Team say B stands for “Bryan” etc…

The Miz v Daniel Bryan

OKish match. Finish when Maryse (sat in crowd) handed Miz brass nucks… Miz hit him. 123 Miz WINS! This (considering its likely to be the first in a series) was a real fine match story wise. Lots of imitations of Bryan by Miz troughout, fairly even match with Daniel Bryan kicking out of a Skull Crushing Finale also. Although once again Miz seemed to outsmart Bryan and even got some (very low level) cheers at the finish.

*** 1/2

‘Constable’ Baron Corbin v DEMON FINN BALOR

In a complete suprise Finn came out as the Demon (not seen since TLC in October 2017). The live crowd went absolutely wild during the red light flashing of the early part of the entrance as this suggested the Demon. Finn’s paint looked absolutely fantastic. Everyone was losing their mind and Corbin was selling it great (looking terrified). If you were going to return the Demon (as a suprise) then it was the right way to go. Demon Balor won in 86 seconds and suddenly feels like a megastar again (this character certainly does). Hopefully it’s kept up somehow…

N/A

Dbryan and Brie backstage. Bryan is PISSED at losing as Brie tries to pep talk him.

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy v Shinsuke Nakamura (C)

Nakamura wins a fairly short-ish but fun match. Jeff had both a tOFf and also a Swanton. He went for a Swanton on Nakamura on the apron but Shinsuke moved. It was horrific to see. Nakamura eventually hitting a Kinshasa for the win.

** 3/4

After the match Orton comes down, teases attacking Jeff, then walks back. Jeff applauds crowd. I presume Orton will go back face to feud with Nakamura and Jeff will go away to heal.

Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey v Alexa Bliss (C)

After the pre-match video Natalya came out wearing her Dad’s old jacket. She was sat ringside for the match. It was as if she was guest of honour for it. I should also mention that throughout the show a number of superstars (Carmella, Bliss, AJ, Charlotte off the top of my head) wore some form of pink/purple attire in tribute/support of Nattie and her Father which was legitimately a lovely touch.

Bliss and Rousey (who MARCHED to the ring) then came out as The Bellas were indeed at ringside. In the early part of the match Bliss ran away from Ronda, eventually Ronda (who really played up to the crowd here, way more than she has done before) squashed Bliss with the tap out off the armbar after a series of Judo throws and spinning-Fireman’s carries for the win. Once again a match on this show was short but this one needed to be.

After the match Natalya came in and hugged Rousey. Then The Bellas came in (and got booed), they joined in the celebrations, and Ronda also went into the crowd to celebrate with her husband. There was no turn or any hint of future angles here, which given Natalya was involved it was the ethical thing to do. Ronda and Natalya celebrated on the ramp to end with.

Match was perfect for what it was, a short glorified squash match.

N/A

Universal Championship: Roman Reigns v Brock Lesnar (C) w/Paul Heyman

Roman and Lesnar come to the ring (Roman whilst not a huge ovation didn’t get the worst reaction I’ve ever heard him get, Brock’s reaction seemed mixed but more boos than cheers). Heyman does his introduction for Brock, when Braun Strowman comes to the ring and essential outlines that he will stand ringside for the match, then cash in on the winner (he was putting across how he wouldn’t sneak up on someone to cash in, he’d do it face to face instead).

Roman hits a series of Superman Punches and Spears as the bell rings, Brock then took Roman to Suplex City and also countered Roman’s spears with Gullotine holds.

Roman would power up and slam Lesnar each time before Brock sidestepped out the way of a Roman Spear and he went flying into Strowman on the outside with an inadvertently tope suicida.

Brock then comes to the outside but attacks Braun instead of Roman with an F5, before launching Braun’s MITB case to the very top of the entrance ramp. Lesnar I THINK called Braun a “Fucking Son of a Bitch” at one point too. Something was definitely dubbed out and my limited lip reading skills picked up that.

Brock got back in the ring, still holding a chair he had just attacked Braun with… but immediately Roman hits the Spear… 1 2 3!!!

FINALLY!!! ROMAN REIGNS HAS PINNED BROCK LESNAR! ROMAN REIGNS IS THE NEW UNIVERSAL CHAMPION!

Crowd tried at times to shit on this but the action with Lesnar on Strowman quickly stopped that at points.

This was maybe the shortest ppv main event since Goldberg v Lesnar Survivor Series 2016. And before that who knows how long. Also should be noted there was no confetti or anything, the show went off the air unusually soon after the finish. Which tbh may have been for the best.

When Roman won me and those I was watching with all cheered wildly. Mostly out of relief that FINALLY it had happened.

And I’ll whisper this… but I’m actually really pleased for Roman after everything that has gone on before this moment. Whatever happens now he has him pinning Lesnar to win the title forever.

Difficult to grade tbh.

***

Overall this was like Wrestlemania in that it was Eventful and LONG . But where it differed was that the sustained momentum from the beginning of the main show didn’t dramatically die anywhere. There was a lot of crowd pleasing moments, really good matches, wonderful storytelling and BIG historic moments. Many many MANY moments. And whilst some will bemoan this show as SQUASHMATCHSLAM, 3/3 roll up wins on the kick off show, and 2 DQ finishes they all individually made most sense for me.

This was by far the best WWE PPV of the year so far, which given how long it was is impressive.

Josh.

Summerslam 2018: Preview & Predictions

As was the case with Wrestlemania 34 this show is going to be a number of things: dramatic, eventful, thrilling at times, dull at times, terrible at times, and one thing for certain (so feel for us poor souls having to watch this show live)… this show is going to be LONGGGGGGGGGG!!! And whilst there are a few dull matches on the card some of them have a fair bit riding on them; The Money in the Bank briefcase is on the line, the WWE Championship will be contested on a major WWE PPV by two former TNA Impact World Champions, the biggest mainstream star in the company (and I don’t mean Cena) is in a huge title match she’s probably going to win and you’ll be seeing it replayed for years to come, and then there’s the small case of some guy against a cage-fighter for a belt… that is all… So with that said let me try and tell you what I think will go down at the biggest party of the summer (other than my birthday party… there’s no party btw… *cries*… but hey I’m spending the weekend travelling and watching pro-wrestling so I am legit living the dream this weekend). Also I should note that Elias has been advertised for a big performance at some point during the show. And whilst we will all dream of someone like The Rock to interrupt, lets be honest it’ll be Lashley that is the one to come out and end the filler segment of the show by brutalizing (again) Elias. Although Elias’ segment at Wrestlemania where he promised a similar performance ended up teeing up a match between a couple of jobbers called John Cena and The Undertaker, so who knows what Elias will do, and who knows what on earth this 12042934890 hour long show will present us with?

KICK OFF SHOW: Cruserweight Championship: Drew Gulak v Cedric Alexander (C)

Hmm… What will happen in this one? Well I will presume most of you reading this don’t regularly watch or know much about 205 Live, but I’ll explain; Gulak has for a LONG time deserved to be in a big spot like this, his character used to be one that wanted 205 Live to be ‘different’ for the better in his mind and he was in that role terrifically entertaining. Back then some little doofus ran the show so he was held down, but with that little runt gone it’s open season. And now the more vicious grappler Gulak is the challenger on the big stage to the long time star of 205 Live Cedric Alexander. Cedric won the title at Mania from Mustafa Ali, and he’s deserved to be the main man on this show for some time now. But his title reign has seen him coincide with the cruserweights no longer being on Raw or even since Wrestlemania their hasn’t been a cruserweight match on any PPV bar the GRR, which in my mind does not count. Cedric has beaten Buddy Murphy who looked to be the biggest threat to his title, he beat Ali at Mania to win it in the first place, and whilst Lio Rush and Hideo Itami are potential future challengers I think their stories still have more to go before they’re right to fill that spot. So with that in mind, as much as I’d like Gulak to have his moment I can’t see who Gulak faces for the title going forward. With Ali having been beaten recently (although long term I see him as a future champion for sure, I’d argue he’s more of a sympathetic babyface than Cedric even is) and Itami on the rise as a sort-of heel I’ll go for Cedric to retain (a change from what I originally thought). But just.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander retains

KICK OFF SHOW: Lana & Rusev v Zelina Vega & Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

I’ll just quote you a conversation between me and my friend Stefan as I messaged him after this match was announced…

ME: Rusev & Lana vs Andrade Almas & Zelina Vega on Summerslam kick off show

STEFAN: Cant say im buzzing for it haha

ME: They should’ve just had the women fight 3 weeks in a row and done Rusev v almas at Summerslam 1st time ever

STEFAN: spot on

I think that sums this one up. I don’t think WWE are going to give this much attention. So (as much as I adore Rusev, Almas and Vega and like Lana in doses, not when she wrestles though) why should I? I’m sure Aiden English will get involved somehow and maybe they’ll do the big turn here? But other than that side-note the more this is Rusev v Almas and less Lana v Zelina the better it’ll be.

Prediction: Zelina Vega & Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

KICK OFF SHOW: Raw Tag Team Championship: ‘The Revival’ (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) v ‘The B Team’ (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) (C)

At long last the most underutilized and so-far wasted tag team in WWE history The Revival get (potentially) their crowning moment. The B Team are a fun act for sure, but tag team champions… really? As an NXT fan I witnessed Dash and Dawson become 2 time NXT Tag Team Champions (the first and one of only 2 teams to achieve that feat) and they came to the main roster off the back of an incredible run of high quality matches against the likes of D.I.Y (whatever happened to them?…), The Authors of Pain and American Alpha (No really, what did happen to them?). On night one (on the Raw after Wrestlemania no less) they arrived as a surprise to a huge pop and beat The New Day (one of the most over acts in the company at that time). Then a series of injuries to both men has de-railed any potential push, but now perhaps they will get the spotlight they deserve… I hope…

Prediction: The Revival are the new Raw Tag Team Champions (PLEASE?!)

‘Constable’ Baron Corbin v Finn Balor

WHY DO I HAVE TO SEE THIS MATCH AGAIN???????? WHY?!?!?! This whole feud sucks, it’s big man picks on small man and it’s being done so terribly. Finn Balor being the ‘small’ guy of the two yet is way more experienced and successful than Corbin, so from that point of view the whole concept of the booking of this rivalry is silly (to put it lightly). And whilst I am enjoying Corbin in this role I find him wrestling in wannabee Corporate-Kane shirts and trousers just awful to look at. Let’s just say if there is a match on this card I’ll be eyeing up the drinks menu, deciding if I want more food and if I need a toilet stop… as much as I love Finn and like Corbin, this match is an average Raw match, and doesn’t need to be on Summerslam. I see it as an excuse to get Finn Balor (one of the most popular stars) on the big show, why they can’t give him a better creative going into it I have no idea.

Prediction: Finn Balor

Money in the Bank Contract: Kevin Owens v Braun Strowman (H)

So they’ve been doing the thing on Raw recently where Braun has matches with Jinder Mahal (who Owens has employed as his ‘guru’, because Kevin Owens is tremendous) but loses. Not by pin or submission but so far a DQ and a count out loss. The idea being that if Braun were to lose by the same circumstances at Summerslam he would lose the MITB briefcase. So with how much they’ve put this idea out there one would presume that means he is in fact NOT losing the briefcase. And he shouldn’t. As good as Owens is Braun deserves this spot, and if there is one thing worse than losing your cash in, it’s losing the contract and never getting the chance. It’s a match between two awesome talents, it’s a big match that warrants a spot on the show, I trust both guys and the creative to make it fun. But with the fact that there may be another appearance later on in the show by the winner of this one I would not be shocked if either this match is short, or the winner is jumped or attacked in some way after the match, seemingly putting them OOA… we’ll see…

Prediction: Braun Strowman

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘The New Day’ v ‘The Bludgeon Brothers’ (Harper & Rowan) (C)

I love The New Day. We all love The New Day. But other than they are really liked I don’t see why they are in this spot. Maybe it’s as simple as that, the most popular tag team on the show are The New Day hence they’re challenging the monster-heel champions at a big 4 ppv. But creatively I just don’t get it. I’m a Sanity guy so I’d rather have them in, The Bar would be different as it’d be heel v heel, Gallows & Anderson would be tricky having lost clean to The Bludgeon Brothers at MITB, The Usos maybe? I’d be shocked if there is a title change here, but then again The New Day are tremendously entertaining as always, the match itself will surely be good as all involved are great at what they do, and there is this idea that New Day are the modern day Dudleys/Hardys in that they need to have as many tag title reigns as possible so in history they’ll be instantly looked upon as legends (I’m not saying the Dudleys or Hardys aren’t legendary by the way). With all that said though I’ll be shocked if Harper and Rowan lose here, they shouldn’t lose for a long time and not to anyone that isn’t the biggest of babyfaces. Not that New Day aren’t, but they don’t need the titles as much as Harper and Rowan do in my opinion.

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers to retain

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy v Shinsuke Nakamura (C)

As sad as I am that they didn’t pull the trigger on Nakamura as WWE Champion, given how they’ve positioned AJ Styles I can accept it. But what they have done is gone ALL IN on Shinsuke as US Champion, so that’s something. He’s as awesome heel as he’s simply just a DICK (pun intended) and he’s so going over here. Jeff Hardy, as is obvious, is banged up. He needs so many surgeries and has so many niggling injuries it’s scary and surprising he can still go at the level he does. The asterisk next to this one is the involvement of Randy Orton, or lack of. He returned after a few months away and to the shock of everyone attacked Jeff Hardy, rather than Nakamura. And given his promos recently on Smackdown it is clear he has gone back heel. And as much as some people may bemoan someone who turns as often as he does, lets be honest, Randy Orton is awesome. And he is most awesome as a heel, so lets not moan! I did predict that Orton will be in this and it’ll eventually be a 3 way but so far that hasn’t materialized, but I’d still expect Nakamura to retain. How they would manufacture a potential Orton vs Nakamura US title feud (considering both are heels) would be interesting, and lets hope A. it happens and B. it’s good. Oh and after this match don’t be surprised if we don’t see Jeff on TV for a while.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura retains

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins w/Dean Ambrose v Dolph Ziggler (C) w/Drew McIntyre

As with the US Title match I wouldn’t be surprised if this 1 on 1 match was changed in the go home show to include a 3rd participant. In this case it’s Dolph’s… I don’t really know what he is…. ‘heavy’ Drew McIntyre… Drew is the star of this pairing and in the future he’s going to be getting more future big spots than Dolph, I’ve no doubt about it. But for now it’s Rollins v Ziggler, 1 on 1, so lets assess that. Dolph is in the usual Ziggler role of being given ‘something’ to do for a few months before being forgotten about again. And with seemingly endless rumours about Ziggler’s contract status, and one theory being he has been given the move to Raw, the partnership with McIntyre, and now the IC title and subsequent matches with Rollins as a sort of sweetener to ensure he re-signs. Which long term as immoral as that may seem, from WWE’s point of view I get it. If Dolph Ziggler went and did the indies, or went to Impact, then he’d be a star for me. And I feel given that Rollins is the REAL guy right now (sorry Roman, and sorry to Braun who is a close 2nd) I see him moving on from the Intercontinental title soon. I don’t mean that to sound as if I’m shitting on the title, it’s been the premier title on Raw during Lesnar’s reign of terror, but presuming the title is taken from Brock soon-ish I see Seth Rollins as the clear obvious long term Universal Champion. He’s been BY FAR the best performer on Raw in 2018, the amount of sub-standard superstars he has got a good match out of it absurd, and any big stage he’s been put on this year he has shined, and shined bright. Of course we too have to factor in any potential Dean Ambrose or even Jason Jordan return that could factor in here, or what involvement (if not directly placed in the match) that Drew McIntyre will have. This will be a good match I think, I don’t get why you do a iron man match at the previous ppv then do a singles match here, I’d presume it’s to allow for one of the aforementioned stars to be involved in a likely screwy finish. This match will be fun, do not sleep on this one, I will certainly make sure I’m not at the bar or in the toilet when it is on. This match will be great.*

*UPDATE: So on the go home show of Raw Dean Ambrose returned and aligned with Seth to even the odds against Dolph and Drew. Dean looks in amazing shape, and he looks like a heel… but there was no hint of it on TV which I really like. It’s another interesting factor regarding this match, so we will wait and see if Ambrose or how big an influence he has on this match. I could see all outcomes; be it a heel turn mid match or afterwards. On balance it’d make sense for Rollins to win and Dean to get jealous and turn on him, but I see it making much more sense for the eventual Dolph v Drew feud to be for the IC title as I don’t think Rollins v Ambrose needs a title and is a big enough feud in itself.

Prediction: Dolph Ziggler retains

The Miz v Daniel Bryan

A match so many years in the making. It’s happened before sure, but these 2 have been aligned with one another ever since Miz’s now famous promo he cut on the then in-retirement Bryan on Talking Smack almost 2 years ago. It was the promo of Miz’s career, and at long last, what would’ve seemed impossible a year ago is a reality. Who would’ve thought back then that either The Miz or Daniel Bryan for various different reasons would be in a marquee match at a big PPV. Bryan is awesome, Miz is awesome, so this should be absolutely tremendous. Creatively though where they choose to go with it remains to be seen. I have an idea and it’s one I’m so impressed with I struggle to think of anything else to do with these two that would be better. My idea is Miz beats Bryan here (screwy finish or not, in fact the more screwy the better). He goes on and on about in the weeks and months after how be beat Daniel Bryan, he goes on to challenge AJ and beats him, Miz is WWE Champion. Meanwhile Bryan struggles to accept the loss and begins a redemption tale, which is made more painful for him as he witnesses Miz get the title, Bryan wins the Rumble, Miz v Bryan at Mania, career v title maybe… Sounds good right? Well I’m aware there are A LOT of ifs and buts to get to anywhere near to that, but nonetheless I see Miz winning here, based upon how I just can’t see these 2 having the one match, and in the end I see Bryan eventually coming out on top, and a good way to lead into a mini series over the next 9 months or so would be to have Miz go over here, not clean ideally. Imagine the heat from Brooklyn, Miz doing all Bryan’s moves and the YES chants… IMAGINE!?!?

Prediction: The Miz

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

With the Evolution PPV on the arisen both women’s titles are in a sort of state of flux, in the sense that both are sure to change hands in the not so distant future, it’s just a case of if WWE want the new champions to have their big moment here, or in October. And why there is plenty that could go array in the Raw Women’s Championship match, in this one, for me at least, it boils down to this: who will turn on which best, tea-loving friend first… Becky or Charlotte? And why some could reasonably argue that their in-fighting may mean Carmella once again escapes with her title, I see it as a time for the Irish Lasskicker to get her moment to at long last outshine The Queen. The tension, whilst it has not as of writing reached a point where the friends implode, is clearly being written to be there between Lynch and Flair and whilst it could just be a way to build up to the match, when you consider it is SUMMERSLAM and it’s for the title… and with Evolution not long away this is as important a match that Becky Lynch may have ever been in. I really do feel as if it is Becky’s time, which would of course mark the end of what has been a much-maligned yet in my personal opinion thoroughly entertaining title reign for Carmella. It’s been a gradual rise for the once manager of a tag team of douches who have both since been fired whilst Carmella has gone on to super-stardom. And whilst admittedly her matches still aren’t and haven’t been at the level of what a Women’s Champion in 2018 may be expected to have, you cannot argue that as champion Carmella as a character has gone on to new levels and most if not all her mic-segments have been fine at worst, which was NOT the case a year ago for example. Congrats on a good run Carmella, but whereas Charlotte doesn’t need the title at this stage (I’ll explain more later on in the blog) whether it be here or at Evolution it’s Becky’s time to shine.

Prediction: Becky Lynch is the new Smackdown Women’s Champion

WWE Championship: Samoa Joe v AJ Styles (C)

This match will be an absolute MADNESS!!! Believe me I absolutely adore Samoa Joe, if you like pro-wrestling how can you not? But right now AJ Styles is in the middle of one of the best WWE Championship reigns for a number of years, and I see no reason just yet for it to end. And as I’ve explained earlier I don’t see anyone but The Miz ending that, not even Joe. But maybe with all the attention seemingly on the Raw side of things perhaps it will be the Smackdown main event that steals the show? Joe and Styles have both been at their best in the build up to this one, Joe has been obliterating people in-ring left, right and centre, and verbally assaulting Styles on the mic (he may well be the best promo in the company). In response Styles has run with the classic babyface, man of the people gimmick that he really is. Expect a great, great wrestling match that’s star rating will purely be based on how much time it gets. Give them time WWE I beg you, and you will get magic.

Prediction: AJ Styles to retain

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) v Ronda Rousey

I think this should go on last at Summerslam. It wont of course but it should. Ronda Rousey is by a long way the biggest star in WWE, look at social media numbers, ask people on the street, it’s how it is. So simple logic should suggest you have your biggest star in the main event and they win, right? Well yes, but WWE’s biggest star in their heads is a certain Big Dog, but more on that in a little bit. Back to this one… Now, Alexa Bliss is great isn’t she? Her character is played tremendously well, her mic work is great, her in-ring work is passable, and she certainly looks like a champion. But in all those categories she just isn’t Ronda. And OG Ronda fans like myself will tell you about the dangers of simply over-looking current title holders expecting Rousey just to walk over them (Amanda Nunes… cough cough…) but that was very much a different world and time of course. Here I see it as surely obvious? I’m in fact more confident it’ll be this Womens title that they switch here and not wait til Evolution. There’s a few outside influences that may play a factor in the outcome, but the potential of Alicia Fox, Mickie James, Nia Jax, Stephanie McMahon or even Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir (Rousey’s fellow members of the ‘MMA 4 horsewomen’) aside I see this as the first of many crowning moments for WWE 2K19 pre-order bonus character (and YES that does matter, trust me to them it does) ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey. Oh and FYI the end game for EVERYTHING is Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair in the main event of Wrestlemania 35, and that story begins to be told HERE for me.

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

Universal Championship: Roman Reigns v Brock Lesnar (C) w/Paul Heyman

I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DONE with Brock Lesnar as Universal Champion. I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DONE with this Roman Reigns chase of the Universal Championship. I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DONE with this whole story. So I’ll just say this: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PPPPPLLLLLLEEEEEAAAASSSEEEEEEEEE LET ROMAN REIGNS WIN THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER PINNING BROCK LESNAR AT SUMMERSLAM 2018!!! I FUCKING BEG!

Prediction: Roman Reigns is the new Universal Champion

BONUS PREDICTION:

Now… this is as much a prediction as much as a dream. This seems like the obvious yet way too perfect thing to go down. Braun was THE guy about 6 months ago, but then got pinned by Roman Reigns at the Elimination Chamber and missed out on the main event of Wrestlemania. So would this not be the perfect revenge? Too perfect for WWE to book right? Just picture this; Braun vs Owens happens early in the main show, Braun wins and keeps the briefcase, 4 or 5 hours go by and we have all forgotten about him by the time Roman has kicked out of a 7th F5 and is being showered in confetti after delivering a 23rd Spear to Brock Lesnar and pinning him to win the Universal title… and then as the furiously anti-Roman crowd is on the verge of descending into a full scale riot we hear… BRAAAAAAAAUUUUUNNNNNN!!! And as the Brooklyn crowd absolutely erupts Strowman comes marching down to the ring, briefcase in hand, as a bewildered Roman Reigns looks on. Braun cashes in, crowd goes absolutely insane, an exhausted Reigns is immediately flattened by Braun charging towards him. Braun picks him up for the powerslam, Roman gets down, off the ropes, SPEAR! Braun kicks out at 2.9. Roman does the big ‘oooooooo, ahhhhhhhhh’ and goes for another Spear, Braun sidesteps him, picks him up, Running Powerslam. 1,2,3! Brooklyn and every WWE fan over the age of 14 that’s watching goes insane, and BRAUN STROWMAN leaves Summerslam as the NEW Universal Champion.

Now… as I’ve said all that it obviously wont happen. And Brock will beat Roman, and there’ll be no cash in. But now you’ve read my fantasy booking, tell me you don’t think and want all of that to happen? Believe me if Summerslam ends as anything like I’ve outlined above people will talk about it as one of the all time great PPV endings.

BRAUN STROWMAN TO CASH IN ON ROMAN REIGNS AND WIN THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP

As I’ve mentioned I’ll be watching the show live, and I’ll be out watching it so I’ll try to take notes during the show, but I will definitely have some form of review out the day after. Can’t promise it will be a full analysis but I’ll have star ratings, general thoughts on the show and the matches, and what it all means going forward. Because believe me the way they’re building to this show, there’s going to be A LOT of fallout and consequences when this show is FINALLY said and done.

Josh.

Bragging Rights 2009: Review

So before you ask the reason I am reviewing some random B ppv from 2009 was down to the fact that I was at my Grandma’s one evening a few weeks back, and wanted to watch a DVD in the evening before I went to bed. And among my options I found a WWE ppv that I HAD NOT seen (which is a rarity indeed). So I put it on, I looked at the card and as much as the ‘bragging rights’ Raw vs Smackdown bullshit kind of dampened me on the show, I looked at a show that had a 60 minute iron man match for the WWE title and a fatal four way for the world title including four of the biggest names in WWE in the past 15 or so years. It was certainly a show in hindsight that gave me PLENTY to talk about…

(Special shout out to my Uncle Scott, whose DVD I watched. Thanks!)

So as previously mentioned the theme of the show was Raw and Smackdown competing for the ‘Bragging Rights’ Trophy, we had Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary for Raw joined by Smackdown’s Todd Grisham (JR was ill), the pre-show video package was all about the huge 7 v 7 match and there was NO mention of either world championship match which I thought twas interesting, but the show is literally called ‘Bragging Rights’ so I kind of understood it. The show opened with lots of talk about the Bragging Rights trophy (this was referenced throughout the show A LOT) before we had our first match of the show…

United States Champion The Miz (Raw) v Intercontinental Champion John Morrison (Smackdown)

Raw’s United States Champion The Miz facing Smackdown’s Intercontinental Champion John Morrison. This was back when Miz was terrible, and Morrison as the babyface was over with the crowd… man… I miss him in WWE… this was really built as the 2 former friends, tag champions, and slammy award winners, as was mentioned during a really cringey pre-match video package. These two I recall had great chemistry as a team, but them two as opponents was less impressive. The key takeaways from the match for me was that Morrison was really good, and Miz was….. OK…. although Miz does sell well and works heel well to be fair to him. Morrison did hit an awesome looking standing shooting star press for a 2 count, the main spot I picked up from the Miz was an awful looking double axe handle on Morrison off the top rope… The pace in this match was kind of slow at times, although Morrison was really over with the crowd as the babyface, and commentary really put over strong how The Miz had improved in ring since he went to Raw… I mean… if you say so… at that point from what i saw in this match and from memory he wasn’t there yet. In 2018 Miz is fine and with an excellent opponent he can put on a 4-4 1/2 * match but in 2009 he was OK at best. The finish of the match saw Morrison get on the top rope ready for his Starship Pain (a type of moonsault) finisher, but Miz got up and pushed him off the top rope, Morrison fell to the floor, Miz pinned him, 1,2,3… and THAT WAS IT! A really pathetic finish that I hated so much and found so lackluster I deducted a whole * from it’s overall rating. Not the best show opener I’ve seen but it was an OK match (largely down to Morrison) with a terribly lame finish.

**

Next we had more promo for the big 7 on 7 later in the show… This segment saw Cody Rhodes & R Truth backstage going back and forth as both will be on opposing teams later. Cody was awesome even then and R Truth to be fair cut a decent promo on Cody too, Big Show then came in to support his Raw teammate Cody, and whilst he spoke softly it was effective and fine. Simple segment but it was good.

WWE Women’s Champion Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix & Natalya (Smackdown) v WWE Diva’s Champion Melina, Kelly Kelly & Gail Kim (Raw)

From the moment Michelle McCool (yes that’s The Undertaker’s current wife) came out first followed by her Smackdown teammates it was clear who the heels and the babyfaces were, as Diva’s Champion Melina and then the unbelievably pretty yet distinctly average in-ring worker Kelly Kelly got huge pops from the crowd, as did GAIL KIM… yes that’s the same Gail Kim that was a SEVEN TIME TNA Knockouts Champion, TNA Hall of Famer and a woman widely regarded as the best female competitor in Impact Wrestling history. Now I believed Kim was in WWE for a hot second in between spells with Impact, but in fact she was in WWE from 2002-2004 and 2008-2011 although both spells particularly the later of which were not the most enjoyable creatively for Kim, which is a shame given how she was portrayed and performed in a company that was spiraling out of control creatively yet Kim continued to shine in TNA… How good she could’ve been if given the real chance in WWE… Shame. ANYWAY back to this match (as much as I’d rather not)… ALL 3 Smackdown women blind tagged each other as they took charge of the early part of the match, as the commentary team made it clear that if Smackdown lose this match then Raw will win the Bragging Rights Trophy, and with how much they’ve pushed the 7 v 7 it was pretty obvious that Smackdown were going to win this match then, so that immediately made my interest levels wane. My main takeaways from this match was that Gail Kim was really good, obviously… 2017 WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix had her Chyna-like ‘I’M REALLY STRONG’ gimmick on point, and Natalya actually seemed to look a lot better in-ring then that she does in 2018, a lot quicker on her feet too. Kelly Kelly sold a lot during this match as the 3 heels isolated her with frequent tags, Kelly did few moves herself and those she did do… yeah… moving on… It was clearly set up for her to get the hot tag and eventually she did to Melina and the action between the 6 women after whilst brief wasn’t too bad without being particularly memorable. Overall the 3 Smackdown women all looked good to OK in terms of in-ring, Melina was good, Gail Kim was good, Kelly Kelly wasn’t so. The finish saw Beth Phoenix get the win over Melina with a really cool looking finisher (Google tells me it was a ‘Glam Slam’).

** 1/2

Team Raw in the big 7 v 7 match later in the show were in the locker room for a segment. Team captains D-Generation X led a team-talk, they made fun of Jack Swagger, spoke to Mark Henry (both him and DX were really funny in this), Big Show and Kofi Kingston came across as big babyfaces too. My personal highlight here was DX referring to when Kofi used to be Jamaican (REMEMBER THAT?). Hornswoggle had a cameo too and overall this was a nice little bit. Despite that though bless Triple H for trying to convince fool us all into thinking this match matters at all in the long run.

The next match in the show was a small one…

World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker (C) v Batista v Rey Mysterio v CM Punk

Yes, you read that write. A four way between 4 of the most popular superstars of the last 15 years in WWE! The match was preceded by a really good video package voiced over by Taker (he was really being billed as the greatest of all time) as he spoke about his 3 challengers. Judging by this video I’d be astounded if Taker doesn’t win this. All 3 challengers were super over upon their entrance (even Punk as a heel), but the pop to great The Undertaker was mental! As an Undertaker mega-fan this was the later stages of my favourite incarnation of The Phenom. So I loved all of this, even despite the cringe-worthy commentary on Undertaker by ‘The King’ Jerry Lawler. Undertaker just looked great with that big,gold belt… those were the days. For some context Undertaker had beaten CM Punk in a submission match to retain the title on the Smackdown go-home show for this ppv, and he would launch Punk over the top rope in the early stages of this match, closely followed by Rey Mysterio hitting a West Coast Pop to Punk just after. It was a really action packed match, particularly at the start from all 4 men, but it was Undertaker that came off looking the strongest. This match was loads of fun to watch without being an excellent wrestling match, The wrestling was though pretty good and the ever-changing dynamics between the 4 men in the match flowed really well and there was always something going on. Big moves and spots a-plenty: Rey hit a 619 but ran into a Spinebuster by Batista, who in turn ran into a big move from Taker, 1,2 but then Punk would break up the pin attempt. Punk would go on to hit the GTS to Mysterio only for Batista to break up the pin, Undertaker locked in the Hell’s Gate on Batista but Punk again broke it up… pretty much at some point everyone came close to winning the world title. The finish went down when Punk was thrown outside by Batista, Rey was then thrown to the outside onto Punk, The Animal then turned around into a Tombstone Piledriver and The Undertaker pinned his former rival to retain the championship. This was a good match, although that shouldn’t really have been a surprise given who was in it, if only it was longer and it would’ve been a lot better. But nonetheless this was fine.

*** 1/2

That match was in the middle of this show… just let that sink in… So after Taker made his exit we go back to the ring where Josh Matthews (the 2009 Tom Phillips if you didn’t know, in 2018 he’s now lead commentator for Impact Wrestling) attempts to interview a crestfallen Rey Mysterio & Batista, the two are both tired but as friends appear to support and console one another. Rey puts over how hard they both tried and how close they both came to winning, Batista then takes the mic and initially appears to speak as a babyface, before quickly explaining how he’s tired of ‘his bestfriend [Rey] stabbing him in the back’ and then proceeds to attack Mysterio. With hindsight I kind of saw this coming as I know Batista went heel around that time and him and Rey have a fued, But as far as heel turns/betrayals/big heel attacks on small,helpless babyfaces go this was good and really well done. Batista came off as both an asshole and a monster, and yet you were still unsure as to his specific motives, so it really was a good set up for a match.

We were then shown a graphic on screen of the Team Raw v Team Smackdown combined weight and total championships won by each respective team ahead of the 7 v 7, followed by footage pre-recorded of fans outside the venue offering their predictions… and yet I still am not amped up for this match, and I still don’t feel it is a big deal.

‘Team Raw’ (Co-Captains ‘D-Generation X: Triple H & Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes and Kofi Kingston) v ‘Team Smackdown’ (Co-Captain Chris Jericho, Co-Captain Kane, Matt Hardy, Finlay, R-Truth, David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd)

DX came out first to a decent pop, followed by the rest of Team Raw. They were followed by Chris Jericho, and then Kane and then the rest of Team Smackdown. 5 v 5s haven’t been too bad down the years, the Men’s one from Survivor Series 2016 comes to mind as a decent one from recent memory. But 7 v 7? I sense a clusterfuck incoming… It was to me at least David Hart Smith (who in 2018 is occupying a decent spot in New Japan Pro Wrestling) and Tyson Kidd who looked particularly good in this match, and yet to the average WWE fan are probably the 2 least known/remembered if all the participants in this match. The biggest pop of the match unsurprisingly was for a hot tag to Triple H, although my personal highlight was Big Show hitting Kane with a Spear, which was one hell of a site to behold. One moment I didn’t like as much was Michael Cole on commentary during the chocs of the match describing the action as “Vintage Bragging Rights” … fyi this was the very first ‘Bragging Rights’ Pay Per View… ffs… The finish of what wasn’t as spectacular a match as the vast array and volume of participants in it may suggest saw Big Show of Raw (who was at the time Tag Team Champion with Smackdown’s Chris Jericho) decided to Chokeslam his Raw teammate Kofi Kingston from the top rope, and then turned around and hit the Knockout Punch to Raw Co-Captain Triple H before walking away from the ring. And amongst the confusion from pretty much everyone watching Chris Jericho crawled over for the cover to claim the win of the match and the apparently ‘illustrious’ Bragging Rights Trophy. To provide some context for this in future WWE TV Big Show would reveal that he helped Team Smackdown win in order to be granted a title shot against Undertaker, and also Jericho would to find himself in the same title match after beating Kane. At the upcoming Survivor Series Taker would win the triple threat after Show and Y2J turned on one another. They would later reconcile and re-embark on a feud with DX over the tag titles, they would go on to lose the series of matches and eventually Jericho would be forced to return to Smackdown thus marking the end of the Jeri-Show tag team. With regards to this match though my overall thoughts were as followed: in a match involving 14 people there was ONE FALL? It wasn’t elimination? Hmm… I also, despite not caring about it myself, WWE put sooooooooo much focus on this ppv being ‘Bragging Rights’ and all the focus was on the Raw v Smackdown element and particularly the 7 v 7… so why wasn’t this the main event match of the show? They clearly wanted to make the match seem as important as possible, yet they chose to sandwich it between to huge world title matches??? Anyway the match was… in one word? … Meh.

** 3/4

John Cena was shown backstage shortly before the main event of the show. And if you look at this next match on paper in 2009 it was probably as blockbuster a match as you could get. WWE really did their upmost to hype this one up, it was described between these two as “maybe the biggest feud in WWE ever” and the ‘final confrontation’ between the two (history would go on to show this would be about as far from the case as you could get, but hey that’s wrestling). The match itself came after an awesome video package that did a great job of summarising the entire history between these two, whilst really putting over the possibility of Cena losing and therefore having to leave Raw, which instantly made me think he was winning. Because… well, that’s just how WWE works!

Oh also before Orton came out we briefly saw Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes bickering backstage about Raw’s loss, this lead to Cody attacking his former teammate.

WWE Championship: Randy Orton (C) v John Cena in a 60 Minute, Anything Goes Iron Man Match. If John Cena loses he must leave Raw.

Randy Orton (who came in as the WWE Champion by the way) came out first, followed by Cena because… he’s John Cena… Commentary again as Orton made his way to the ring REALLY were going IN on ‘John Cena loses, he goes to Smackdown’, this is his last chance at Orton’s WWE title etc. etc. By the way this Randy Orton (shorter hair, full heel, asshole) was by a mile the best Randy Orton. HE WAS AWESOME. Cena came out second as I said, but not before Todd Grisham could say “The Igloo (the nickname given the the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh that the event was being held in) is gonna melt with this reaction [for Cena]” … for fuck sake Todd… sort yourself out! The match will be falls count anywhere too apparently so don’t expect a technical masterclass then. The hour long stipulation lent itself to the obligatory slow, basic start from both men, understandably in this instance. The first fall in the match came at just shy of the 5 minute mark with Cena getting Orton to tap out to the STF, although it should be noted that Orton tapped immediately after the hold was put on, so an interesting tactical decision there. We then had our first 30 second interval that there will be between each fall, which is the least these 2 deserve of they’re going to go for an hour! When the action resumed again there wasn’t too much going on and it was clear they were both pacing themselves for how long was ahead in the match, although the duelling ‘LET’S GO CENA, R-K-O’ chants will have given them the boost they may have needed with 50 minutes of their match still to go. Orton would claim the equalising fall after hitting the RKO as Cena bounced off the ropes in preparation for a 5 Knuckle Shuffle. 1-1. 50.20 left on the clock. Not long after the action restarted Orton hit Cena over the head with a tv monitor but would only get a 2 count nearfall, he would follow that up by hitting Cena again over the skull but this time with a microphone. And for good measure he hit John so hard that he bust him wide open to the extent that the clocked was stopped in order for officials to tend to him. To make things even worse for Cena he then had his head stomped onto steel steps, but still he would not fall behind in the match. Randy seemed to be not far though from taking the lead, and would then do his classic set up for the RKO, only for Cena to do his most signature of set ups for his big move too (3 shoulderblocks, the suplex, the 5 knuckle shuffle… yeah the same thing we’ve all seen hundreds of times over the years……) but in what was to their credit a great sequence; Cena went to hit Orton with the AA, but as he threw him over his shoulders Randy Orton caught John Cena with an RKO on the way down… both men fell to the ground and with both men’s shoulders down the ref counted the 3, and both men got a fall. 2-2, still tied so fairly inconsequential, but as a sequence I thought it was really well done. There at this point was just over 42 minutes still left. Very soon after this it would be John Cena that took a 3-2 lead following an AA from the 2nd rope, but then with around 40 minutes left on the clock Randy Orton’s teammates in Legacy in both Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr would attack Cena during the 30 second interval before dragging their fallen leader and placing him over John Cena for the 1,2,3 to make it 3 falls each. Legacy would then make their retreat after another chair attack. The match after that descended into a real brawl, leading both men towards the stage area with Orton getting the better of it. The sadistic side of the WWE Champion Orton would then be on show for all to see as he discovered where the control panel was that dictated what blasts and explosions of the pyrotechnics that the superstars use during their entrances was located. He then constructed a pan where he would place Cena in the area where the pyro would usually explode, and with Cena laying helpless in harms way Orton ignored the pleas of the nearby technicians to take mercy on his opponent and then hit all the buttons in a fury at them not working immediately , and as a result a series of pyro-led explosions engulfed Cena, “Orton’s nuts” … Indeed Michael Cole he is! We approached the half way point in the match with Cena still lifeless, yet with the inevitable Cena comeback not too far away surely? In his furious state Orton would launch Cena into a lighting rig to eventually claim a 4-3 lead. For the first time it was Randy Orton who was ahead. Orton would follow this up by throwing steel steps at Cena’s head for a nearfall, hitting Cena on the back with a chair for another nearfall, and then as we all expected Cena would roll up Orton for the 3 to take the scores to 4 each. A furious Orton would then attack Cena during the supposed 30 second interval period, and then did his signature sit-out ddt but to the outside floor area before then rolling Cena into the ring for the pin, and Orton was back in front by 5 to 4. After this both the commentary team and the crowd sounded lifeless, really selling that the demonic and sadistic Orton was keeping his title, and the heroic efforts and hopes of John Cena were fading… we shall see… maybe the crowd were tired or bored, maybe they were just ‘selling’ the heel being on top I wasn’t sure… Orton hit Cena with a series of hard punches but Cena still had enough to kick out at 2, Cena then began a comeback but Orton was able to get away. He then took a quick glance at the score on the titantron, and noting he was ahead he decided to make the most out of the ‘falls count anywhere’ stipulation by running away meaning Cena had to groggily chase after him. But once Cena caught up with him Orton would eventually go on the attack commentary began suggesting he would now take his time and ‘play defence’ now… that’ll be fun then… An angry John Cena marches Orton to him in the ring, but then Orton would go on the attack… a draping ddt from Orton would be soon followed by an AA attempt by Cena but Orton would again escape and the two men made their way into the crowd. Cena would chase his opponent into the stands as Randy tried to crawl away, as Cena would launch Randy over the barricade for a nearfall that followed. With both men back at ringside now we had 14 minutes left on the clock, Cena threw Orton into steel steps for a 2 count, he then threw Orton through the barricade at the timekeepers area, with 12 left on the clock Cena then pulled over some steel steps and placed them at the bottom of an announce table, he hit Orton over the head with the steps, and then he lifted Randy up in the fireman’s carry position, walked over and onto the steps, and then John Cena hit Orton with the Attitude Adjustment through the announce table (to which the crowd popped LOUD)… 123…. Cena 5 Orton 5! 9 Minutes to go. Cena went for an immediate 2nd cover but couldn’t get a 3, he did though get a table from underneath the ring and then set it up. John Cena then carried the dead-weight of Orton into the ring and placed him onto the table, and then took the unusual move of going to the top rope, the idea was that he’d leg drop Randy through the table but obviously Cena’s rare trip to the top ropes would be un-productive as Orton moved off the table and Cena crashed and burned (commentary kind of gave this spot away describing it as an “unnecessary risk” before Cena even made the jump, so it was even more obvious that he wasn’t going to hit it). With 5 minutes to go Orton would get another RKO, but at this point the ref was down having took a bump mid brawl, and the other ref ran down but Cena kicked out before the 3 could be counted. Orton in his anger attacked the replacement referee, and with only 2 minutes left Orton wanted to well and truly end Cena with his classic Punt Kick, but Cena had the state of mind to move out the way and eventually get Orton in the STF submission. Both the crowd and commentary team were going absolutely ballistic as the seconds ticked down. and with a matter of seconds left of the match Orton tapped out! John Cena got the win after a gruelling match and won the WWE Championship once again. As long matches go this certainly wasn’t a bad match. Nonetheless as much as I know it’s unfair to compare matches from different decades and ones that are so many years apart, in WWE I can recall watching 2 other 60 minute Iron Man Matches; HBK vs Bret and Triple H v Rock. This match wasn’t as good as either of those, but like I said it was not a bad match in anyway.

*** 3/4

So overall then Bragging Rights 2009 as a show I watched completely by chance one evening was not the best show I’ve seen but I did have plenty of fun watching it. Maybe it was the nostalgic aspects of seeing a show that’s nearly 10 years old, and the interesting points that can be made regarding where the people on the show are at in their wrestling careers in 2018. But as a B ppv it was a really stacked show, and with that in mind it was pretty good, especially when you see some of the offerings from WWE in recent months… I think I’ll do some more random ppv reviews again as reviewing a show from the past I haven’t seen in full before was a lot of fun. And at the end of the day this is why I do my blog, to talk rubbish about my favourite thing, and I’ll do that as much as I have fun with it, and I’ll stop or do less when I don’t have fun. But this review? This was indeed FUN!

Josh.

Extreme Rules 2018: Preview & Predictions

So it’s that time again. Our monthly time when we give away 4 hours of our lives that WWE will take from us and either destroy forever or entertain us for most with a scattering of boredom. So with a very hit and miss run so far in terms of WWE ppvs in 2018 so far lets see what Extreme Rules gives us. It’s not a bad card, but it’s not a Wrestlemania worthy card either so we shall see. Some matches should be fun, others… well… we’ll see… oh and by the way don’t expect this show to be quick; there are TEN MATCHES on the main show alone. For once I shall not be watching this ppv live, and to be honest I am kind of glad…

PRE SHOW= Tables Match: ‘The New Day’ (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) v ‘Sanity’ (Eric Young, Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe)

‘Why is this match on the pre-show?’ a friend of mine said to me. Well… I’d push Sanity to the moon, so would most people, but they haven’t been on weekly Smackdown tv for too long but nonetheless a gimmick match against one of the most popular tag teams for years isn’t really a bad spot. And there are 3 men in New Day as there are in Sanity so the match is an easy one to make. All 6 guys are great and will match up really well, different to your usual pre show matches I think this will be a lot of fun. And as confident as I am it’ll be fun to watch I am equally as such that the only result is for the newcomers to get one over the established main roster act to give them a big win on a ppv pre-show…. surely….???

Prediction: Sanity

Baron Corbin v Finn Balor

Constable Corbin will probably wrestle in his shirt and trousers, whilst maybe the most underutilized superstar in the whole of WWE will do his upmost to make people care during this match. But no matter how hard he tries if this match is above 3 stars I’d be ASTOUNDED. Surely destined for the pre-show it’s yet another sad reminder that approaching TWO YEARS since he had to relinquish the title due to injury, Finn Balor is STILL yet to receive his Universal Championship rematch. And right now I’m not sure he could be any further away.

Prediction: Finn Balor

Raw Tag Team Championship: ‘The Deleteters of Worlds’ (WOKEN Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt) (C) v ‘The B Team’ (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)

I honestly have seen nothing from the Matt Hardy singles matches with Axel and Bo in recent weeks to convince me anymore that this will be an exciting wrestling match, but I think we all know this match is all about the weird stuff of The Deleters of Worlds and the comedy of The B Team. Fun, yes. Great wrestling, maybe not. But for what it is it’ll be fine. I would PRESUME that Hardy and Bray will retain, setting them up for a huge tag title defense at Summerslam but they have made a point of not having ‘The B Team’ lose recently, so a shock isn’t completely off the cards.

Prediction: ‘The Deleters of Worlds’ to retain

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (C) w/ James Ellsworth (trapped above the ring in a shark-cage) v Asuka

Oh boy… right, I will say I ADORE Asuka, I ADORE Carmella. I even don;t mind James Ellsworth, but these 2 women are going to have to work very hard to make this a good match. Asuka has been so terribly written ever since her match with Charlotte at Wrestlemania ended. You have Asuka unbeaten for 2 1/2 years and forever mention her ‘streak’ and yes you had her lose to Charlotte at Mania, totally fine; Charlotte is one of the best female wrestlers in WWE history as well as being a megastar. Fine. But now what is Asuka? She’s just…. another woman. To put it into context for all Asuka’s obvious talents (for those of us lucky to see her in NXT she was about 10 times better than she’s being allowed to be since coming to the main roster), since Wrestlemania 34 in televised matches across Raw and Smackdown and on PPVs Asuka has had 8 matches, winning 6 and losing 2, one to Carmella at MITB and the other in a tag match for absolutely no reason… MOJO RAWLEY in that same time frame has had across Raw, Main Event and network specials has also had 8 matches, he won 5 and lost 3… Not too different a record right (if you discount the GRR it’s pretty much the same for the number of matches they have been in)? That’s MOJO RAWLEY and ASUKA… just putting that out there… Even me as big an Asuka fan as I am/was I’m really not as into her as I was going into Mania. She’s just…. there. Carmella is doing her thing sure. She’s the champion now and I really am entertained by her outside of the ring in her promos and segments, her in-ring work is getting better but not yet good. And with the added gimmick you can bet this will all be centered around Ellsworth. Another match on this show that will be least about the actual wrestling and more about everything else, which on a show as long as this will be might be needed to avoid burnout who knows? I guess that’s “Sports Entertainment” for you… oh and btw I’m calling Becky Lynch vs Carmella for the title at Summerslam.

Prediction: Carmella to retain

Raw Women’s Championship – Extreme Rules Match: Alexa Bliss (C) v Nia Jax

Remember Bayley vs Alexa at Extreme Rules last year and how terrible it was? Remember how… erm… clunky… the first match between these 2 was at Wrestlemania and how terrible their match at Backlash was… yeah I’m not too excited for this match. It’s extreme rules is potential for beatings all round so maybe they can get creative with that, but the result of this one seems like an absolute lock. I’ve always thought that matches suffer when they are not the primary focus, and the main story of this match will be a certain UFC Hall of Fame female sat ringside in the crowd. And that’s the money match isn’t it. Particularly after Money in the Bank and after what led to Rousey getting ‘suspended’. let’s get this rematch for Nia out the way and then go full steam ahead for the mega-match for the Raw Women’s title at Summerslam.

Prediction: Alexa Bliss to retain

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (C) v Shinsuke Nakamura

On the contrary I am really looking forward to this meeting. Jeff even with all his bumps down the years, added to the fact he is carrying a plethora of injuries as we speak, and Nakamura despite his losing feud to Styles is still one of the best workers in the world… when he’s allowed to! I presume this will open the main show and if they give it enough time it could be an absolute cracker. 2 veterans whose styles I think will mix really well, and you know the crowd will be really hot for this match too. Result wise given that Hardy has so many injuries he’s carrying, and that Shinsuke lost his WWE title feud to AJ not long ago, I really hope Nakamura takes the belt here. Maybe a big rematch at Summerslam before Jeff takes time out to heal up, before maybe an NXT call up or perhaps a Daniel Bryan or a returning Randy Orton can battle Nakamura for the belt in the months afterwards. A lot of ifs, buts and maybes there but if it all works out, or something similar, I’ll be very happy indeed.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura is the new United States Champion

Steel Cage Match: Kevin Owens v Braun Strowman

So the logic with Braun here to make him a megastar and to get him over as a babyface is the Stone Cole philosophy; arrive, raise hell, leave. And well people do cheer Braun, maybe not on the level they did a few months back but he’s still a star behind only Rollins and Ronda in terms of popularity on Raw for me. And Owens is being positioned as the cowardly, yet comical heel. On the outlook you would say that this match is set up as surely Owens to be fed to Strowman, I see it slightly different. In history before a big cash in, Money in the Bank briefcase holders don’t tend to be booked so strong so as to throw people of the scent that they may be a new champion in the future; Carmella was thrown out of the Wrestlemania women’s battle royal first and 2 days later was Champion, Seth Rollins ended Wrestlemania 31 as WWE Champion after a cash-in having earlier fell victim to the best RKO of all time. And whilst I don’t think Braun will be outright beat here, the main spot to me will be something that has been done recently in a similar way between Lesnar and Roman, and historically with Austin and the Big Show… I think Braun is going to throw KO into the cage wall, the wall will break, and Owens will escape. A bit of a stretch but I called the finish of the NXT Women’s Championship match from the last NXT Takeover, so this is my latest big tip for a finish. Braun gets mad, Owens runs away and we continue from there…

Prediction: Kevin Owens (by default)

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘The Bludgeon Brothers’ (Harper & Rowan) (C) v ‘Team Hell No’ (Kane & Daniel Bryan)

TEAM HELL NO ARE BACK TOGETHER!!! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!! Sadly though of course Kane is going off to be a Mayor soon so I don’t see the most pushed and protected tag team in the company (and rightfully so as Harper and Rowan in this act are awesome) dropping the belts here. These are 4 guys who have their act and their way of performing down to a tee so I expect a really entertaining contest here, of course the crowd will be super behind a certain bearded fella, and he’ll get to sell his ass off to the two monsters he and Kane are up against, but he’ll get to do some great spots where the crowd will go wild thinking he will get the win, sadly though i just can’t see it happening. I still don’t think they are going to give us Miz vs Bryan so soon, I see that being held til Wrestlemania next year, maybe even for the Championship. Don’t be surprised by a Kane heel turn followed by a farewell match for Kane against his friend Daniel Bryan at Summerslam to come. You know it makes sense. And if anyone is taking those titles from The Bludgeon Brothers it should be Sanity; Team Hell No don’t need to win the tag belts, Sanity really do.

Prediction: ‘The Bludgeon Brothers’ to retain

Intercontinental Championship – 30 Minute Iron Man Match: Dolph Ziggler (C) w/Drew McIntyre v Seth Rollins

This is going to be really really really good. I don’t have too much to say about it, two great in-ring performers with guaranteed 30 minutes to be able to tell one hell of a story. Dolph’s career and character has been fully rejuvenated by his alliance with Drew McIntyre (he’s not in this match directly so I wont bang on too much about him, but in short I’ll say Drew is going to be a FUCKING MEGASTAR). Rollins for many months now has been the outstanding performer on the main roster, and I think although he shouldn’t lose and I’ rather him not lose a match where by the nature of it he has to lose multiple times I think he can cope with it and it wont harm him too much if it is told right. And without the IC title it leaves Rollins able to pursue a missing red championship too, and it’s obvious surely that the money match for the future is Dolph doing the job to Drew. This will be fun.

Prediction: Dolph Ziggler to retain

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) v Rusev w/Aiden English

Fun match, yes. Crowd noise, yes. 2 great workers, yes. Result obvious, sadly yes. An before you think I’m an idiot I am not against AJ as Champion AT ALL, but we all know there is absolutely no chance at all that Rusev is winning the WWE Championship here. This does feel like a space holder for AJ ahead of Summerslam and probably Samoa Joe, but lets be grateful that RUSEV is in the WWE Championship match, and lets more so PRAY that they don’t break Rusev and Aiden English up as that would make me, you and everyone very sad indeed.

Prediction: AJ Styles to retain

Roman Reigns v Bobby Lashley

Right… I’m just going to say it; I’m looking forward to this match. The pull-apart brawl between the two on the go home edition of Raw was absolutely fantastic, and I legitimately think the actual match will be good. We all would prefer Lashley to win sure, but if this is an unofficial number one contender’s match for the Universally-absent Championship then Roman is winning… right? And then Braun will cash in and win… right? Well… given what happened at the recent UFC event, and the ongoing reports that Lesnar may or may not be working Summerslam it’s as unclear as ever as to when, who or even IF there will be a world title change for Raw anytime soon. Who knows what on earth is going on. I certainly don’t.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

ALL I am going to say here is good luck to everyone watching this show live (staying awake for it all). It’s going to be a LONG show, and some of it might not be too good. I hope I’m very wrong and some of the card will actually I’m sure be great; Rollins v Ziggler in particular. Big night for WWE and they need to have a good one. Very skeptical though that they will do just that. Let’s hope I am wrong.

Josh.

Ps. As I finish Sin Cara Vs Andrade Almas has just been announced for the kick off show in a rematch from Smackdown this past week. I have no idea why they need to do this again as I’m almost certain Almas will win again. But hey it’ll be great and any reason to see Almas and Zelina Vega is never something I’ll moan about.

Top 10 Most Extreme Matches In WWE History

With the next PPV being Extreme Rules I thought now a good time to revisit some of the most EXTREME encounters that we’ve seen in WWE. For the sake of this list I’ve chosen to discount anything from ECW or any of those crazy Japanese Death Matches I always here about, as I’ve also discounted any WCW or NXT matches (I’m thinking of the NXT War Games match in particular). Before I get into the top 10 I’d like to give some honourable mentions; The Undertaker v Mankind Hell In A Cell match for obvious reasons as we enter 20 YEARS since the all-time classic on June 28th (but this would be number 1 in any list it was on, it’s my favourite WWE match of all time), and also a shout out to all the Money In The Bank Ladder matches that we’ve had previously also (some more than others), and also this top 10 will see the matches ranked on extremity and not match quality, so whilst it may receive 5 stars for it’s extreme nature, it may or may not have been an equally good match (although most of these matches on this list where actually really good to watch). SOOOOOOO… let’s go!!!

10. Brock Lesnar (C) v The Undertaker, WWE Championship; Hell in a Cell match, No Mercy 2002 = 4*

In this bloodbath between the still relatively new to WWE Brock Lesnar and the certified Hall of Famer The Undertaker the story of the match began with Taker using the cast on his arm to attack Lesnar and causing him to bleed A LOT, in fact the main feature was the amount of blood that was on display, from Taker, Lesnar and even Paul Heyman at ringside wasn’t safe as he was pulled against the cell by The Undertaker after attempting to distract him, and Heyman was left bloodied too. Lesnar took advantage of this and would go on to drive Taker against the cell wall and began to work on the injured hand, eventually removing the cast and focusing his attack on Taker’s weakpoint. Lesnar would go on after more brutal back and forth offence exchanges to use nearby Steel Steps to hit the challenger causing him to bleed also… A LOT! Lesnar would eventually get the win after an F-5 to end a really physical match on top of all the blood. I’ve not really done the match justice with that review as it was a 4 1/4 star match but the blood was so overbearing at times it was tough to focus on the actual contest.

9. Brock Lesnar v John Cena, Extreme Rules match, Extreme Rules 2012 = 4*

You’ve all by now seen the absolute ungodly pop Brock Lesnar got upon his return to the WWE in confronting John Cena the Raw after Mania in 2012, well this was the match that came from that initial confrontation. This was before Brock Lesnar matches were: Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, strikes, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, opponent offence, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, opponent offence, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, F5, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, opponent offence, F5, Brock wins. When Brock Lesnar matches felt and looked so unlike anything on a WWE show they were always a must see event. Again the key feature of this match was blood, and a lot of it. Cena bled from some very early elbow strikes from former UFC Champion Lesnar, there were a few very hard looking strikes from Brock to Cena (who took an insane amount of physical punishment), the match only turning towards the end when Cena was able to power Lesnar up and slam him down onto steel steps whilst Lesnar had a Kimura locked in. Cena would go on to hit Lesnar with Cena’s chain that caused Lesnar to bleed too, and Cena would get the win with an AA onto steel steps. BLOODy hell!

8. Kurt Angle v Shane McMahon, Street Fight, King of the Ring 2001 = 4.5*

This rivalry was one of the early beginnings of Shane McMahon’s WCW led invasion, and it just so happened to be Angle’s 3rd match of the night having won his KOTR semi final before then losing the final to Edge the same night, so understandably Kurt was pissed. The majority of this match was very clearly presented as one of the best professional wrestlers we have ever seen, against a complete amateur… I’ll let you work out who is who… but the extremity in this match really turned to a whole new level when both men were at the top of the rampway, before Angle hit Shane with a pair of overhead belly to belly suplexes… the first one sent McMahon into the back-part of the entrance area, but the second one sent Shane THROUGH the glass shattering it everywhere. With both men bleeding extensively from the shards of glass everywhere Angle then hit the same move again from the other side, again shattering a glass panel. Eventually both men would end up back in the ring and Kurt would get the win via an Angle Slam from the top rope. But it has long since been known that on 3 separate occasions during this match, Vince McMahon was on the verge of stopping it after witnessing the punishment that particularity his son received. And had he done so, I don’t think anyone could’ve moaned about it.

7. The Rock v Mankind (C), WWE Championship, ‘I Quit’ match, Royal Rumble 1999 = 4.5*

Whilst many will rightfully argue that Hell in a Cell against Taker may have seriously hampered Mick Foley’s career but this match wont have helped his day to day life forever afterwards surely? The match itself was at the height of the attitude era, and saw 2 of the absolute biggest stars in WWE history fight all over the arena in a true battle of good vs evil. The Rock despite getting some great heel heat and chants of “Rocky SUCKS” from the crowd, he still even then absolute oozed megastar aura in everything he does and this faced against the eternally popular Mankind coming in as champion made for a tremendous story. The finish of this match was a bit irritating, as after receiving a beating (more on that shortly) from The Rock, it appeared Mick Foley indeed said ‘I quit’ but it would later appear (as if it wasn’t clear enough at the time) that a recording of ‘Foley’ saying that he quits was played instead! So The Rock was the new champion, but this was not the main story of this match… Mankind took ELEVEN chair shots to the head during this match, and The Rock was NOT holding back with any of them! Rock had handcuffed Foley before this so he had no defence to any of them, still now it’s really tough to watch… so I cannot imagine how it was for Mick’s wife Colette and his 2 eldest kids Dewey and Noelle (who were SIX and FIVE years old at the time) who were sat ringside. It would take around 10 more years until WWE outlawed Chair shots to the head, but really they should’ve done it immediately after this match.

6. JBL v John Cena (C), WWE Championship, ‘I Quit’ match, Judgement Day 2005 = 4.5*

Believe it or not this was the now 16 time world champion John Cena’s very first title reign, and this was the blow off match in the feud that saw him win that title at that year’s Wrestlemania. JBL came out with the older WWE Championship belt in contrast to the current champion who came out with his new ‘spinner’ belt during his extravagant entrance (he was on the back of a flat-back truck that had a DJ playing a live set to accompany Cena’s entrance music… yes this really happened…). This match when it finally got going went all over the arena, and it was… gruesome! The main spots in this match where when JBL smashed Cena over the head with a chair busting him open, JBL getting thrown into a TV monitor that smashed that and cut JBL open, JBL choking a blood drenched Cena with a cable, and then finally the finish occurred when JBL was sat at the top of the rampway with Cena threatening to hit a battered challenger in the head with an exhaust pipe from JBL’s nearby limo, and under threat and defenseless the former Bradshaw reluctantly says he quits. cena despite being by this point COVERED in blood then hit JBL with the exhaust pipe anyway, sending JBL through the glass panel of the stage area behind him. The PPV would end with Cena stood on the top rope, lifting both the old WWE title belt and his new spinner WWE customized belt, whilst he has blood covering his entire face… to be fair this is a pretty cool visual. This ppv is rated as “TV-MA” on the WWE Network (unsuitable for children under 14) due to the amount of blood in this match, and rightfully so. It’s also funny that this crowd were universally behind Cena throughout the match, ooooooooohhhhhhh how times would soon change!!!

5. “TLC 2” – The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) v Edge & Christian v The Dudley Boyz (D-Von Dudley & Bubba Ray Dudley) (C), WWE Tag Team Championship, Wrestlemania 17 = 4.75*

The Hardys and The Dudleys brawl to begin as Edge and Christian bring in and utilize the first ladder of the match… it would not be the last. Nobody would escape this gripping classic unscathed in the highlight of one of the most universally adored wrestling events in history. Not even Lita, Rhyno and Spike Dudley who each came in to help their respected allies would get out of this match the same and unhurt! I don’t even know where to begin to summarize this match, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it, and I would say if there were 10 WWE matches from history that you MUST see, this would be on that list. Tables smashed, chair shots, falls from ladders, ladders getting smashed… these performers in this match sealed their place in the hall of fame on this night alone in my opinion (to date, of the 6 participants and 3 further accomplices only Christian (a certainty in the future) and Spike Dudley (a MAYBE in the future) are yet to get a HOF ring as well as The Hardys and Rhyno who are still active performers but again are certain to be Hall of Famers upon retirement. To summarize this is the match where Edge spears Jeff from the belts off of a ladder, and for that spot alone you MUST see this match, because that’s only 1 of the extraordinary amount of crazy spots and mayhem in this classic. If you ever need cheering up, watch this match immediately, it’s the best.

4. Triple H v Rikishi v Kurt Angle (C) v The Undertaker v The Rock v Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWE Championship, Hell in a Cell match, Armageddon 2000 = 4.75*

You’ve just read who was in this match, you know it was Hell in a Cell and that it was for the title… so, can you honestly tell me you don’t want to see this match??? Unsurprisingly people got hurt in this one, so rather than analyse I’ll just list for you the injury sheet that each man sustained in this ungodly contest:

  • Austin: thrown into the cell 3x by Taker, head put through a car window by HHH that busted him open
  • Rock: choked with a wire by Rikishi, Pedigree’d onto a car roof by HHH that busted him open, head thrown into the cell wall by Rikishi
  • Rikishi: choked with a wire by Rock, chokeslammed off the top of the cell by Taker onto the back of a truck below, onto a bed of wood clippings by Taker
  • Taker: thrown head first into a car by HHH, smashed over the head with a chair by Kurt Angle to bust him open, hit over the back of the head with a chair and then choked with it by Rikishi
  • Angle: head racked on the cell roof by Taker, hit on the head by Taker and Rikishi with a chair, strangled with part of the turnbuckle by Taker, head put through a car window to bust him open, powerslammed onto a car bonnet by Undertaker, hit on the head and then choked with a microphone by Taker
  • Triple H: Face racked over the cell wall by Austin to cut him open, launched into the cell 6x by Taker, head twice smashed onto the car bonnet by Austin, catapulted onto a car by Austin, hit over the head with a camera by Austin, head smashed onto a barrel by Stone Cold

For the record Kurt Angle won after crawling over to cover The Rock as Austin and HHH had taken each other out. Austin stunned Angle after his win to close the show as all 6 men lay wasted and destroyed. This was exactly as bloody, chaotic and dramatic as you could expect. Beautiful stuff.

3. Cactus Jack v Triple H (C), WWE Championship, Street Fight, Royal Rumble 2000 = 5*

So after Triple H won his maiden WWE title he, with wife Stephanie and the rest of DX, proceeded to torment and mock Mick Foley eventually destroying him ahead of the street fight. This prompted Foley to morph into his darker alter-ego as he prepared for this war with The Game, and one hell of a war it was. For those of you who read my Hell in a Cell match blog you will know that I’m adamant that without Mick Foley in this feud then Triple H wouldn’t have got over here as a top guy, and the punishment both men endured in this and the HIAC match afterwards helped get him there. An awesome pre-match video package set up this classic in Madison Square Garden to a tone where only extreme violence would suffice, and indeed that’s what we got. The ring bell, steel chairs a plenty, a barbed wire bat, handcuffs, a brief interference from The Rock, and of course THUMBTACKS! And it was those dreaded thumbtacks that bought about the finish of this classic, as after Cactus had scattered them across the ring, and with Triple H’s wife Stephanie pleading for mercy, it was Jack who was backdropped onto and then Pedigree’d into the pile of tacks, but this was NOT enough to put him away, much to the disbelief of the champion. A second Pedigree onto the Thumbtacks was enough to end this absolute classic, but it was Triple H who collapsed of pain and exhaustion after the match and despite winning was stretchered to the back… or at least that was until Cactus Jack ran after him and dragged him back to the ring, before unleashing a vile shot with the barbed wire bat that sent Triple H to the ring floor in a heap. And it was Cactus who raised his hand in symbolic victory, despite having tacks sticking out of his arms and back. Astonishing stuff. Has to be seen to be believed… as does…

2. Randy Orton (C) v Cactus Jack, Intercontinental Championship, Hardcore Match, Backlash 2004 = 5*

In this match where Orton’s Evolution teammates were banned from ringside, this was the beginning of Randy’s ‘Legend Killer’ persona as it was another brutal attack beforehand that saw Foley come out for this match as Cactus Jack. Although Orton himself turned up prepared as he bought a trashcan full of weapons to the ring with him. I don’t think anyone was prepared for just how brutal this match would be. Both men used ‘Barbie’ (the poetic yet sadistic name for the barbed wire covered bat Foley was famed for using) with Cactus using it like a meat-cleaver to rip away at the face of Orton so that he bleed profusely, he then used barbie to attack Randy’s… ‘never-regions’ …, Jack would then light barbie with Gasoline but had to stop short of lighting it on fire after Eric Bischoff came out and threatened to stop the entire show immediately if he did so, Jack fortunately repented… and settled for getting a barbed wire covered wood board! Although it was Jack who took the pain from that as after getting flour from Orton in his eyes, and then Randy bodyslammed Cactus onto the board… but ONLY got a 2 count!!! Foley would later place the backboard in the corner of the ring, Orton went and got a bag of THUMBTACKS and spread them over the ring floor, and as Orton set up to RKO his opponent onto the tacks, Cactus reversed it and it was Orton who landed back first onto the pile of tacks to a thunderous noise from what was a pretty incredible crowd. Orton would go on to try and escape from his living nightmare by running to the back, only for Cactus to run after him before throwing Orton off the stage area to the floor below and then DIVING OFF THE STAGE WITH AN ELBOW DROP, THIS WAS INSANE! Jack would get a number of nearfalls shortly after before back in the ring Orton took charge with a number of shots with Barbie, before then running into Mr Socko from Cactus, Orton would escape with a punch and a low blow before getting out of another Socko with an RKO that got a nearfall, before FINALLY this battle ended with Orton hitting Cactus with an RKO ONTO BARBIE for the win! Once again though it was not Foley who suffered the most here as Evolution came down to ringside to drag away their battered youngster at the conclusion of this bloodbath. Do not watch this if your stomach is weak, but if you enjoy your blood and carnage in your wrestling like me then this is the one for you… Apart from…

1. Edge (w/Lita) v Mick Foley, Hardcore Match, Wrestlemania 22 = 5*

SHOCK; Mick Foley helps an upcoming star finally get to that main event level in what was a truly unforgettable hardcore epic, and he did the honours in the process… Mick Foley; Legend! I wouldn’t recommend watching this match with… say your Mum or your Gran unless they like to see blood, pain and FIRE… yes I said FIRE! This match was full of some pretty brutal stuff so I’ll just run through the main highlights… The first big spot in this match saw Edge hit Foley with a Spear, only for Edge to come away writhing in pain… it turned out Foley had wrapped barbed wire around his chest to counter his opponent’s finisher, and this subsequently left The Rated R Superstar with severe lacerations to his arm. After going on to rake Foley’s face with a barbed wire bat and then dropping him face first onto ‘Barbie’ Edge would take it up a notch by getting a bag of thumbtacks and scattering them on the floor of the ring. Edge went on to try and drop Foley onto the tacks but it was countered and instead it was Edge himself who went back-first onto them, selling his agony immediately whilst the tacks were all over his back! Foley would follow this up by getting his signature ‘Mr Socko’ and wrapping that in barbed wire, hitting Edge and then Lita too with it! After further damage and blood was coming from all involved Foley then grabbed some lighter fluid and covered a table that had been set up at ringside with it, Lita then crawled under the ringside area and hit Foley with Barbie, Foley hobbled on the apron on the outer-side of the ring, Lita then added more lighter fluid onto the covered table and then LIT THE TABLE ON FIRE, AND THEN EDGE CAME FLYING THROUGH THE MIDDLE ROPES, SPEARING FOLEY OFF THE APRON AND SENDING BOTH MEN CRASHING THROUGH THE TABLE THAT WAS ON FIRE!!!!! It was one of the most incredible spots I have ever seen and after Edge crawled over for the cover and the win, that spot alone may have been enough to claim the top spot on this list, but this match was about as Hardcore a Hardcore match as you could get.

Josh.

Money In The Bank 2018: Review

HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH, A WWE PPV THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOOD. WHAT AN AMAZING CONCEPT…..

Yes to the joy of all us poor souls who watched the event live, Money In The Bank 2018 was one of the best wwe shows of 2018, although I don’t think that’s saying too much but nonetheless as this stage, and given the more recent main roster shows we should be more than grateful for the fun, and generally good show we were treated to. SOOOOOOOOOO lets get into it…

KICK OFF SHOW: Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) beat Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson to retain the Smackdown Tag Team championship.

Crowd were on fire from the get go of this show, and even for the kick off show match for the crowd to be this hot this early was a good sign for what was to come. Gallows and Anderson were on top early, Harper sold his knee, Harper and Rowan got back into it, they focused on Karl Anderson, Anderson responded with a great looking Spinebuster to Harper before making the hot tag to Gallows, Gallows and Anderson set up for a Magic Killer before Rowan put a stop to it, and then the Bludgeon Brothers hit an assisted Powerbomb to Gallows to retain. Yeah this was a pre-show match so it was never going to be a classic, but for what it was it was perfectly fine.

***

Daniel Bryan beat Big Cass

This was the best match I’ve seen Big Cass have for a LONG time, maybe ever. Daniel Bryan worked SO FUCKING HARD to try and get this guy over, and to a certain extent he did. I adore Daniel Bryan as anyone who has ever watched pro wrestling even a little bit should do, but the fact he is trying to go out of his way to drag this big lump to a good match just says so much about him as a world class performer. Bryan came out first to a HUGE ovation of YES chants from the crowd, Cass alternatively got a lot of boos which I guess as a heel is a good thing… Bryan tried to get the Heel hook locked in early on and quickly targetted Cass’ hamstrings with multiple kicks, Cass would send Bryan into the barricade and continued to get the heat for a little time, Bryan hit a drop toe hold that led to a yes lock, Cass crawled his way to the ropes to break the hold, Bryan flew on Cass on the outside which looked awesome, Cass got more heat, Bryan got loads of Yes kicks in, they had a back and forth which was sort of good, and then Bryan hit the big Running Knee, Heel Hook, Cass taps. A fine fine show opener featuring one of the most over wrestlers in WWE for some time working his ass off to get his substandard opponent over, and the result was a ok to good match. Now let Bryan move on and leave Cass behind so we never see this match again. Please.

***3/4

There was a real fun backstage segment with Kevin Owens and the New Day in which Owens would continue on with his theme of recent weeks in trying to get people to side with him to try and take out Braun Strowman. New Day declined saying they were not cheaters, Owens pissed them off by stating his distain for PANCAKES and that there cereal sucked too. New Day were all upset. I’ve not done this justice with my notes but for what this was, a simple backstage segment that was really funny. These segments are so often nothing and are just there, this was pretty funny.

Bobby Lashley beat Sami Zayn

Urghhhhh. The Low point of the show for me. Sami played the chicken shit heel and stayed away from Lashley as much as he could to start off with (Sami was really overr with the Chicago crowd), Sami got some offence in but essentially as expected Lashley obliterated Zayn. 3 Delayed Vertical Suplexes from Lashley gave him a win in just over 6 minutes.

**

They then showed Nia backstage ahead of her match later, as they did with her challenger Ronda Rousey, whom had her ‘friend’ Natalya beside her.

Elias was then in the ring, and as always got a big pop. He cut a promo on Rollins, did all his usual stuff, but stopped short of playing a song, saying Chicago didn’t deserve it. This was funny as per.

Seth Rollins beat Elias to retain the Intercontinental Championship

This match was simply Rollins at his high level, and Elias raising his a tad, and the end result was a good match. They went back and forth for most of the match, Rollins went for a big frog splash but Elias got his knees up and uses the tights to get a 2 count. Elias then unusually made his way to the top rope, Rollins hobbled his way to the corner (still selling an earlier attack on his knee), both went on the top rope until Elias pushed him down, but Seth quickly made his way back up and hit a Superplex into a Falcon Arrow, this only got a 2 count, Elias rolled out of the ring to escape a Stomp by Seth, Seth went for a suicide dive but Elias caught him and launched him into different parts of the barricade many times, Elias then went to the top rope back in the ring and hit a big elbow drop but only got a 2 count, Elias beat on Seth cutting a frustrated figure, eventually… Elias went for the Drift Away but Rollins countered into a roll up, Elias countered that into a roll up and then Seth countered that roll up nearfall with a roll up of his own, but interestingly held the tights of Elias to get the win. An interesting finish that surely sets up a rematch (fine) and why the face Rollins used the classic heel move on the bad guy remains to be seen. But it was a good match that helped both on their pass. Elias surely will be a babyface long term and is a fantastic character, and Rollins continues to have good matches with anyone.

****

Alexa Bliss beat Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Lana, Naomi, Ember Moon, Natalya & Sasha Banks to win the Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match

I am so incredibly happy to be able to say this was a good, good match. The women involved all had the weekend off the live circuit in order to go to Orlando to practice and choreograph this match, and it showed. Nobody looked out of place, everyone did their spots and looked good to fine. Everyone was over on their entrances, and there were soooooooooooooooooo many spots in this I couldn’t list them all. But this was a fun match that flowed really well, so I’ll just list some of my more favourite spots; Lana hitting a really good X factor on Ember onto a ladder, a really cool exchange between Naomi and Ember Moon which everyone coming out wished we get this again on the future, Charlotte powerbombing Ember onto a ladder in the corner, just about everyone climbing the ladder and getting pulled down by another participant, Lana hitting a Matchka kick on Alexa Bliss followed by the Accolade, Charlotte hitting the spear on Ember jumping through a ladder in the process, a cool moment where old rivals Sasha and Charlotte had a staredown, and then Natalya climbing up looking for the briefcase and getting booed in the process, Ember kicking her down, Charlotte then spearing Moon to a ladder, Charlotte spears Becky, Becky comesback with the Bexploder, she climbs the ladder, until she’s eventually caught up and knocked down by the women who would retrieve the briefcase, Alexa Bliss. This match was great. Well done to all involved.

****1/2

We had a backstage segment with Raw GM Kurt Angle and Smackdown GM Paige, they chatted about nothing with real substance, Corbin came in and warned Kurt about how Stephanie McMahon would be upset with Kurt if a Raw superstar didn’t win the men’s ladder match later, Paige mugged him off reminding him of his failed cash in last year… meh…

Roman Reigns beat Jinder Mahal

Sunil Singh did his intro for Mahal in a wheelchair and was all beat up after Reigns attack last week on Raw, he also would take a Spear from Roman during the match after miraculously recovering and attacking Roman. This match was ok at best but the main story here was this crowd. From what seemed like it began from the very first second of this match this crowd SHAT all over this one, to a scale not even the main event of Wrestlemania this year was as bad as. They chanted all sorts of random things and showed a complete lack of interest in this one. Ther last 5 minutes or so of this one were actually not too bad, Roman won obviously. The crowd during this: chants of CM Punk, Boring, NXT, This is awful, Johnny Wrestling, ole ole (Sami Zayn chant), Asshole, Delete, lets go beachball following multiple beachballs in the crowd, you suck, there was a Mexican Wave, Rusev Day, Velveteen, Y2J, TNA, We want Ambrose, end this match, this match sucks. Not cool Chicago, understandable sure, but not cool.

* = (due to the crowd, would be a zero but for Sunil Singh and the final 5 minutes making a half star each)

Carmella beat Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship

The thing with this match was Carmella was on top for most and Asuka did a lot of selling, something which in my opinion she shouldn’t be doing too much of. Asuka as always though when on offence looked awesome, one particularly noteworthy sequence was when Asuka flew through the ropes but was caught by a Carmella kick, and then Carmella went and hit a TOPE of her own! Can’t recall Carmella ever before doing that so that was cool to see, she then got multiple nearfalls on Asuka, screaming furiously after each failed pin attempt, and shortly after Asuka hit the champion with a kick as she looked to claim the title… and then we had THE talking point… a figure dressed in Asuka’s entrance gear and mask approached the ring and stood on the apron, to which Asuka was almost frozen out of fear and confusion, after the distraction Carmella rolled Asuka up but only got a nearfall, and was eventually put down by another Asuka kick. And then as Asuka looked in her fearsome awe at the mystery figure, the person took off the mask… and it was JAMES ELLSWORTH!!! Asuka turned around, Carmella gave her the kick and pinned her. Carmella retains, beats Asuka, Ellsworth is back… yeah… that happened. I knew this was coming tbh as it was widely tipped online in the week, but nonetheless the crowd loved it and it was nice to see him back in WWE I guess and it’ll be fun to see where it goes, but Asuka… deary me… what now then???

**3/4

AJ Styles beat Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship in a Last Man Standing Match

This was great. It was pretty even throughout, and many close calls as both men came close to not answering the 10 count on many occasions. Again another match where A LOT went on so I’ll give you my key moments; Shinsuke went for a big Low Blow once again but AJ moved out the way, and Nakamura’s facial reaction after was a sight to behold as he looked as if somebody had just ran over a pet of his, it was a beautiful piece of brilliance that heel Nakamura has shown in recent weeks. Nakamura would later clear all 3 announce tables, and then run over them and launch a monstrous Kinshasa to Aj who was laying prone at the far end of the set of announce tables, to which Styles only came to his feet at 9, Nakamura then went to grab a table and placed Styles on top of it, he then dropped AJ not on to the middle of the table as is traditional but onto the side of the table which I can’t imagine was pleasant for Styles, but I’m sure being thrown shortly after threw the same table that by then had been set against the corner of the ring by Nakamura was too good either. Styles got to his feet at 9 to which Shinsuke produced another hilarious facial reaction. Nakamura then would expose the steel turnbuckle in the corner, only for he himself to suffer from it as a knee strike meant for Styles would collide with the steel, AJ kicked the injured knee and applied to Calf Crusher submission causing Nakamura to tap but obviously in this match didn’t see the end and the end didn’t come either as Nakamura got up at the count of 7. AJ targeted the knee again with chair shots, as Nakamura begged for mercy until he finally hit his patterned low blow. AJ got up at 9, he hit a Kinshasa and AJ got up at 9, whilst on the announce table AJ pushed Nakamura into the steel steps followed by a Phenomenal Forearm and then a Styles Clash to the outside floor/steel steps. To which Nakamura got up at approximately the count of 9.9 (it was incredibly well judged), and then the finish was absolutely wonderfully done. Nakamura after just making the count did his “COME ONNNNNNN” taunt, to which AJ responded with a fucking brutal low blow punt which I was in pain watching to I can’t imagine how Shinsuke felt taking it! And with Nakmura sprawled out over the announce table AJ got into the ring, stood on the inside of the apron and leapt over the perform a PHENOMENAL Phenomenal Forearm to Nakamura on the outside that sent him through the announce table. And we finally had a finish to an AJ V Nakamura match as AJ got the win with Nakamura unable to answer the 10 count. Styles retains in a great match, what now for both remains to be seen, but I kind of hope this is it for their feud. Finally we got the AJ V Nakamura great WWE match we all wanted. So lets leave this one on a positive.

****3/4

Nia Jax defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey ended in a DQ when Alexa Bliss interfered. Alexa Bliss then cashes in her Money In The Bank contract on Nia Jax successfully to win the Raw Women’s Championship.

Nia used her power at the start to lift Ronda into the corner and take charge early on, but then ran attempting to charge into Rousey but Ronda moved and unleashed a series of really hard strikes to the champion, Jax cameback with a headbutt in a good nod to their promo on Raw this past week, Nia squashed Ronda in the corner, she went for a Samoan Drop, Ronda countered into an Armbar attempt but that was turned round with Jax giving a really hard slam to Rousey which sent her to the outside, Jax followed her out and slammed her into the barricade. Back in the ring this got a 2 count, as Ronda landed more hard strikes shortly after, Jax hit a gorilla slam, Ronda locked in a guillotine, Nia slammed Ronda down repeatedly, Nia locked in a bearhug and not long after hit a big Samoan Drop to which Rousey only just kicked out in time. Rousey would go on to use the ropes as leverage during a submission on Nia, before making her way to the top rope for a cross body only to then be caught and thrown by Nia. This was when Rousey went into beast mode; she hit strong punches and some great knee strikes followed by a crazy judo throw, a few nearfalls, a Rock Bottom-type move from Ronda which looked awesome, and then she went for the Armbar, Nia though was able to keep her hands grasped so the move wasn’t in fully, but one by one her fingers lost grip. And then just as it seemed as if the full Armbar was not far away… ALEXA BLISS came in the ring and hit Rousey across the back with her recently acquired MITB briefcase for the DQ. She then hit Nia with the case, then Rousey again and again… teased a cash in… then hit Ronda with the case again for good measure. Before we go on I must say that Ronda vs Nia was way better than I feared it may be, and Ronda Rousey is the best. Then… indeed ALEXA BLISS CASHED IN! DDT to Nia, slammed her injured arm to the floor, to the top rope, Twisted Bliss, 123, ALEXA BLISS IS THE NEW RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPION!!!! FUCKING EXCELLENT STUFF!

****

Braun Strowman beat Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, The Miz, Rusev and Kofi Kingston to win the Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match

Aiden English came out sporting a Chicago themed jacket (he’s a Chicago guy) and did a funny rap to introduce Rusev, Kofi was revealed as The New Day member in the match as they entered (not much was made about this as to why, I thought whatever they’d do having built up the mystery about who it was would be something more than a standard reveal but oh well). The story of this match was it was for large parts a 7 vs 1 handicap match against Braun; everyone else from the opening bell beat on Strowman, including one point where they buried him at the top of the rampway under a pile of ladders. There were a lot of really good and well done ladder spots by the others whilst Braun was out, but this was really the Strowman show. and the pop for his return told you as much as he took everyone out after coming up from underneath the ladders he had been under. One of the highlights of the match came when Owens was on a giant ladder at the top of the rampway (think near the side where the announcers sit on Raw), with Braun being held on a table below the idea was that Owens would frog splash off the giant ladder onto Strowman below, but Braun got up and climbed up after Owens who was pleading for mercy to no avail. Strowman flung Owens off this Ladder that was higher than any ladder I have seen before in WWE and KO went crashing down below. Another crazy spot (again Braun was the guy here) was when Braun physically ran through a ladder snapping it in half and suffering no damage, this guy is the greatest!!! This terrified The Miz who quickly tried to retrieve the briefcase but could not as Braun went after him. Rusev later had Roode, Kingston and The Miz in a triple Accolade submission which as a visual was something else! Later we had Finn atop a ladder on the outside of the ring, and he flew off hitting a Coupe de Grace to Roode who was laying inside the ring, that looked awesome too. And then finally we had Finn climbing the ladder on one side, Braun chasing after on the other, Kofi come flying in and hanging on Strowman’s back until he was flung to the floor and followed by Balor, and BRAUN STROWMAN SNATCHED THE BRIEFCASE TO WIN A GREAT MATCH! I was soooooooooo happy, Braun is and should be THE guy and this case is his key to the kingdom. Brock Lesnar (or likely Roman Reigns lbh), you are fucked.

****1/2

Overall MITB 2018 was the WWE PPV of the year so far, not saying much that but still… more of the same please WWE. And don’t even think about not making Braun champion after his cash in! Other notes from the show: Nakamura is now 0-6 in WWE title matches (ffs), Ronda Rousey is really good at pro wrestling, and Jonathan Coachman is the worst WWE commentator of all time (I aint even wasting my time writing his crimes during this show, he’s just the fucking worst put it that way). Anyway this was a good good show. Well done WWE.

Josh.