Fastlane 2019 Review

Good luck everyone…

Once again I was unable to see the pre show but I’m told New Day beat Rusev and Nakamura and they set up the Kofi angle for later in the show and the US title match for later was set up too.

The main show began with Roman Reigns and The reuniting Shield featuring heavily in the opening video package, so it looks like they’re going on last, which is totally fine for many reasons.

The first match of the main show however featured Cleveland’s own The Miz and his partner Shane McMahon and their challenge to regain the Smackdown Tag titles…

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) defeated The Miz & Shane McMahon to retain

Miz got a big pop coming out, he sported a Cleveland top and colors underneath his Miz and Mac tee, it was being so overdone that Miz was in Cleveland his hometown that him getting screwed seemed inevitable. World renowned wrestler Shane McMahon started off dominating The Usos as the challengers worked well together, although this changed when Shane was flattened by an Uso double team move as the champions gained control. The crowd were super in to The Miz and after an above average DDT from Shane he got the hot tag, and then Miz came in like a house on fire and he even did a big dive off the top rope onto The Usos on the outside right in front of his Dad who was sat ringside (he made a point to show off his orange Cleveland t shirt to the crowd beforehand too). There were then lots of nearfalls including a double superkick by The Usos on to The Miz, but Shane jumped in to break up the pin. The Usos then took out Shane but then Miz was able to hit the Skull Crushing Finale and get a cover, but as the ref was tending to a fallen Shane still he had his back to Miz’s pin and by the time he turned around it was long enough for Miz only to be able to get a 2 count. Miz then went for a Figure 4 but was pushed into the ring post, another nearfall, and then with one Uso laying in the corner of the ring Shane went to the top on the other side for his Coast to Coast… but as Miz was down to the other Uso went to the top to set up a Frog Splash…. so both men were set up for their big move and turned out it was The Uso twin who blinked first and the result was Shane catching the flying Uso in mid air with his double dropkick. I was convinced they’d fuck this up but it looked good enough to me. Miz then looked over to his Dad and was instructed to go to the top rope, he obliged and hit a went for a Frog Splash of his won but The other Uso got his knees up, rolled Miz over and got the pin. I liked this finish as it played into the story well. This was a very fun opener and the most I’ve enjoyed a Shane match for sometime. I think because he wasn’t the story here it was The Miz so Shane wasn’t as intolerable in the ring as usual. After The Usos had gone up the ramp Miz and Shane consoled one another, they went over to Miz’s dad and he consoled too, and Miz walked off in front… and then Shane attacked him from behind!!! Shane beatdown on The Miz as Miz’s Dad looked on in disgust. This got a tonne of heat as the crowd were fuming. Miz’s Dad eventually came from his seat to check on his son as officials tended to him. I liked how they did this, and I’m not overly excited about their inevitable Mania match but I think it’ll be very story based rather than them mat-wrestling one another so it’ll be fine I hope…

***

Commentary then recapped the Miz and Shane split. They really put over how disgusting Shane’s actions were.

Drew and the other heels picked up a camera from the floor backstage and cut an old-school Shield-like promo. The crowd booed heavy st the start but shut up when Drew spoke, the booed Corbin and Lashley throughout. I liked this.

Elias did a performance in the ring… he had some funny lines but I don’t know why this was necessary…

They then plugged the Batista – Triple H confrontation for Raw. Should be unmissable TV.

The kick off show was recapped in which The New Day were backstage before their match, Kofi was then told to go to the McMahon’s office. Woods and Big E then beat Nakamura and Rusev in their match. Apparently Kofi is still waiting for The McMahons.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Asuka (C) defeated Mandy Rose with Sonya Deville to retain

Asuka got a decent pop coming out, commentary made reference to Asuka wanting to shut the critics in the WWE universe up as the focus was all on Becky/Ronda/Charlotte right now. I’m glad WWE have noticed they’re forgetting about Asuka… Asuka dominated the match at the start with Rose’s only offences coming after distractions of Asuka by Sonya Deville. Mandy got nearfalls from a knee strike and a suplex, Rose then had a decent looking Abdominal Stretch looked in which was creatively turned into an Octopus hold by Asuka. Sonya was then shown looking under the ring for some reason… Mandy began talking trash to Asuka and got hit with strikes for her troubles, Asuka then hit a series of offensive moves, but did miss a running hip attack which allowed Mandy to hit a big knee for a nearfall. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t won and then went for her finisher but Asuka got out of it and hit a big knee of her own as Deville looked on concerned, Sonya then went under the ring again and retrieved a Kendo Stick, Asuka then whipped Mandy against the ropes but Rose tripped on the ring apron that Deville had left lifted up from when she got the Kendo Stick, as Rose was collecting herself Asuka hit a big kick to her face and pinned her. Deville looked on in horror. This looked like a botch at first but ended up being kind of clever. It does make me think they’re going to split these two up soon which is a shame as I think they help one another greatly. Sonya apologized to Mandy after but Rose was having none of it. The match went about as long as it should have (7/8 minutes) and Asuka won. It was never going to be a classic but was exactly what it should have been. Looking ahead it seems to me like either Asuka will face Sonya and Rose will screw Deville out of it or it’ll be a 3 way at Mania possibly… or Asuka will face someone else… who knows who that could be…

**

Backstage they cut to Big E and Xavier Woods approaching Kofi who was still waiting outside the McMahon’s office. Big E knocked on the door and they went in tired of waiting to find VINCE (who actually got a big pop form the live crowd)! Vince asked them where they had been and he had been waiting, New Day said they’d been waiting for him… Big E and Woods both tried to plead Kofi’s case to Vince, Big E wanted the match tonight to be a triple threat… AND VINCE AGREED AND MADE THE MATCH AND SAID IT WAS HAPPENING NOW! Live crowd went absolutely crazy for this… This IS interesting…

It seems (including pre show) we will have FIVE Smackdown matches in a row to start us off.

Kofi came to the ring to an unsurprisingly big pop. It was announced Woods and E had been banned from ringside (I don’t know when that was made official). As the ring announcer went to talk he and the referee were informed the WWE Championship match wouldn’t be taking place now and that this would in fact be a handicap match between Kofi… and The Bar

The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) defeated Kofi Kingston in a 2 on 1 Handicap Match

The crowd are really not happy. And as expected The Bar just beat up Kofi as people in the crowd voiced their discontent. We even got a “This is Boring” chant at one stage. Woods and Big e did try to make the save but Rusev and Nakamura came out to stop them. The Bar continued to punish Kofi who did comeback at times but the numbers just proved too much each time. Sheamus & Cesaro eventually hit a double White Noise and both put their foot on Kingston for the win. People really aren’t happy. I have a fear this will kill the crowd for the rest of the show as they just fucking buried the top babyface.

*

Charly Caruso interviewed Bayley and Sasha backstage.

Elias was in the ring AGAIN… he did another performance recounting New Day and Miz’s misfortunes and trashing Cleveland. Then the lights dimmed again and that was it… PLEASE tell me this is going somewhere…

They recapped the Miz and Shane stuff again before they cut to Kayla Braxton backstage who was outside The McMahon’s office waiting for Shane. Shane came out, she asked him a question to explain himself, and he just looked at her and went back in the office ans shut the door…

Ricochet’s music then hit… I was wondering how they were going to pick up the crowd again who are justifiably flat and upset now. I guess RICOCHET is a decent way to do that… if anyone can cheer this crowd up it is him! Bit if a tough spot to put him in mind on his and Black’s PPV debut after what they’ve got to follow and the mood of the crowd right now…

Raw Tag Team Championship: The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (C) defeated Bobby Roode & Chad Gable and Aleister Black & Ricochet to retain

Both the NXT guys got big pops coming out which was promising to hear. It seemed to be all about putting the NXT guys over so this match was good. Ricochet and Black did all their big moves, and the other two teams were good also. Lots of nearfalls early as Gable and then both The Revival isolated Ricochet until he was finally able to tag in Black. He took everyone down and got a big reaction during what were some really crisp looking moves in his early part of the match, Black eventually going for the Black Mass but hit Dawson instead and this allowed for Bobby Roode to hit Black with a Spinebuster. There then a tonne of really great sequences and spots highlighted by a spot where Dawson was on the top rope with Ricochet, Ricochet slaps him and then hits him with a Hurricanrana off the top landing on everyone on the outside (both took bumps off the apron as well). Not long after Ricochet dragged Scott Dawson back in to the ring and went to the top rope, but Dawson rolled out the way as on the other side outside Bobby Roode launched Aleister Black in to the barricade. Ricochet then did this crazy leap after running form the other side of the ring he flew over the ring post and onto Bobby Roode which was crazy to see. Chad Gable tagged Ricochet as he flew past him so now he was legal, he hit a crossbody on Dawson but he rolled that over into a nearfall, the both got pin fall attempts in before he hung Gable up on the ropes, and then Wilder came in, they hit the Shatter Machine and got the pin. A fun, fun match that I wished had gone longer but Revival won which is fine by me as if I had my way they’d be Tag Team Champions for the next 10 years. After the bell Bobby Roode jumped Dawson and attacked him, then Aleister Black gave Roode the Black Mass and hit a big knee to Dash Wilder, and eventually Ricochet followed this up hitting his 630 splash. The babyface NXT team stood tall at the end which was probably wise given the booking of the match and this show so far, Crowd needed a pick me up and I think these two guys gave it them. I liked this all very much and my only gripe was I wanted more. But I guess that’s the idea so I watch again and see these guys go at it over and over.

***1/2

They showed Charlotte backstage and people booed. They showed Becky hobbling out the trainers room aided by a crutch and people cheered. The crowd are going to be so into that match it should be great.

Apparently we are getting a fatal 4 way match for the US title… ANOTHER SMACKDOWN MATCH ON THIS DUAL-BRANDED PPV… Ah apparently it was set up on the kick off show…

R Truth and Carmella come out first… followed by Andrade and Zelina… (on the pre show Carmella and Vega argued and Joe came up to them and said he’d be happy to defend his title… so guess that was the set up…)… Rey Mysterio came out after and then Samoa Joe… I’m not unhappy but I am confused as to why this is on the main show of a PPV here… after we had the same match on Smackdown last week…

United States Championship: Samoa Joe (C) defeated Rey Mysterio & R Truth with Carmella & Andrade with Zelina Vega to retain

This match was crazy. There were so many moves in not that long a match. Joe did a tope to everyone on the outside which for a 280 pound-odd guy to do that was crazy to see. Byron Saxton even said on commentary that it was ‘hard to keep track of all this’ and he was absolutely right so apologies. But yes everyone did a lot of moves; highlights being Rey doing a dual-Hurricanrana on Truth and Andrade, Truth telling Andrade to do his running double-knee strike to Joe in the corner and them him doing it and then Truth taking him down with running shoulder tackles, then a Spinebuster to Joe and a backdrop before doing the ‘You Can’t See Me’ and a 5 knuckle shuffle to Joe as Andrade had moved… all in tribute to his ‘hero’ John Cena (whom as commentary pointed out Truth is actually 6 years older than) which was all very funny. Truth then hit a scissors kick to Andrade, Joe hit a senton on Andrade, Truth missed a kick on Joe and Joe threw Truth into the ringpost, Mysterio then set Joe up and hit a 619 but missed the splash after as Joe caught him with the Coquina Clutch and Rey passed out. Joe retains in another surprise match on this show. This was very action-packed and fast paced but definitely very fun to see unfold. And the right person won too. This was actually pretty good whilst it lasted.

***3/4

Beth Phoenix was introduced as guest commentator for the next match.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C) defeated Nia Jax & Tamina to retain

As a match this went pretty much as expected. Bayley and Sasha looked good in all they did and worked their asses off to try and get their opponents over as legitimate monster threats. One notable moment saw Sasha strike Nia who was stood on the apron, Tamina tagging Nia in and then lifting Banks up on to Nia but Jax didn’t seem to catch Banks right and struggled to get her up but eventually hit a Samoan Drop for a nearfall. The crowd seemed a little flat at this point, I think just wanting the big 3 main event matches that are to follow… anyway Bayley who was great in this match combined well with Sasha and Banks went for a crossbody to the outside but was caught by Nia, so to save her partner Bayley hit a Tope to knock everyone down. Sasha did the double knees off the top on to Nia and then Bayley hit the big Elbow Drop, but was stopped mid pin by Tamina pulling her out. Sasha went after Tamina but got knocked down for trying, Bayley then gave Tamina a neckbreaker on the middle ropes before Nia tried to powerbomb Bayley but was rolled over and Bayley pinned Nia to retain the titles for her team. After the bell Tamina and Nia beat up the champions, Nia threw Sasha over the announce desk and this led to Beth Phoenix going face to face with Tamina. They argued and then fought as Nia attacked Phoenix from behind. They got her in the ring and Nia hit her big leg drop on the Hall of Famer. Tamina went up top for her splash but Natalya, Beth’s best friend, ca,me out to try and make the save but got beat up too. Everyone was left laying as Tamina and Jax made their exit to a chorus of boos. I liked the match for what it was. The afters felt a bit forced to me. Jax and Tamina were put over enough to make me think we’re getting a Beth/Natalya v Tamina/Nia match of the’re getting a title rematch…

**

WWE Championship: ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan defeated Mustafa Ali & Kevin Owens to retain

The ring announcer still said it was a triple threat match… Owens made his way out, then Bryan and Rowan, THEN MUSTAFA ALI!!! He gets the shot he would have got before his injury, I like this tying up of loose ends. Don’t think it even matters who gets pinned here… you could aways give the one of Ali/Owens who doesn’t get pinned a singles shot on TV. This should be good… Ali got a mixed reaction I think just because he isn’t Kofi which is harsh in my opinion… “WE WANT KOFI” chants before the bell too… The match itself was really good. Crowd booed heavily as it began but Owens and Ali eventually teamed up on Bryan (should say Owens and Ali looked great working against one another). The story of the match was these 3 guys put on a great match but the crowd throughout were just chanting for Kofi. They stuck at it though and this match was really good despite the crowd’s obvious grievances, everyone did all their big moves and lots of nearfalls each too, highlights for me were when Mustafa was on the top rope and he hit a 450 onto Bryan who was on the apron although he couldn’t get the win as Rowan pulled Bryan to safety. Ali and Owens then superkicked Rowan multiple times to stop him getting in the ring before Ali hit a Hurricanrana on Rowan on the outside to send him into the post, and then Owens came flying over the ripes onto Rowan which the crowd popped for. Also Ali hit chops on Bryan on the top rope, he then looks to floor, and Ali does a moonsault as he was pushed down yet somehow lands on hit feet, Bryan misses the flying knee, but Ali does hit a flying DDT to Bryan on the outside… wow! He was rewarded for that great move by KO hitting him with a Pop up Powerbomb onto the apron! He then got Ali in the ring but was hit with a Rowan spin kick before he could capitalize and Rowan put Bryan in instead and then launched Owens into the timekeepers area. Bryan though was only able to get a 2 count on Ali as he kicked out. The crowd pop for that as Rowan is shocked and Bryan looks furious. The finish came not long after when Daniel Bryan grabbed Ali and repeated slapped him and told him he ‘doesn’t deserve to be here’, Ali eventually fought back and came flying off the top… and flew around right into a big Flying Knee from Daniel Bryan and that was the end. The crowd seemed flat at the heel winning what was a good match. Rowan did his claw grip slam thing on Ali after for good measure. It was obvious to the point commentary referred to it repeatedly that the crowd cared all about Kofi and not this match but it ended up being good enough for them to get into it. I’d presume now Owens goes back heel on Ali blaming him for losing here, and Bryan v Kofi at Mania is one of the hottest matches on that show.

****

They showed an awesome Lesnar v Rollins Wrestlemania advert video.

Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair by DQ

The video package before the match was really great. Charlotte got some woos but more boos when she came out and Becky got a big pop. Lynch threw her crutch away to begin the match, and Charlotte proceeded to mock Becky the whole match and as Lynch showed signs of life Charlotte would go back in various ways to work on and target the injured knee. The crowd chanted for Becky and hated Charlotte as the entire match was just a beatdown with Lynch showing her defiance and occasionally getting some moves in of her own. Lynch even got a nearfall and locked in the Dis-Arm-Her at one point but Charlotte was able to counter it into the Figure Four… and then RONDA came sprinting down, got in the ring and strategically and specifically struck Becky!!! She then stood in the corner as the ref reluctantly rung the bell and told the ring announcer to let everyone know Lynch had won by DQ. Rousey looked on before walking away as if she knew exactly what she was doing. The crowd were happy enough but the finish was kind of flat. Flair looked kind of sad and Becky delighted, they then put the graphic for the 3 way at Mania on screen so FINALLY IT IS OFFICIAL! I guess with this finish it gets Becky in the match without beating Charlotte so it was a means to justify an ends… but it was kind of anti climatic and the crowd didn’t pop half as much as I thought they would… It was kind of just a beatdown and the story was all the injury to Lynch so I don’t know how to rate it to be honest…

*1/4

They showed graphics and promoted Rollins v Lesnar at Mania, and for Raw tomorrow we have Finn Balor defending the Intercontinental Championship against THE ALMIGHTY (apparently he is) Bobby Lashley and of course the Triple H – Batista face-to-face.

Elias was in the ring… AGAIN… he played his guitar, sung about Becky being The Man and he not being a fan which got booed etc. etc. then he sung about the main event and people cheered The Shield reunion. He trashed Cleveland with both points too. He then spoke to the crowd and said this is how it should be with no interruptions for Elias… and so then of course someone came out…. it was LACEY FUCKING EVANS!!! And the people… went absolutely deathly silent for the ‘Sassy Southern Belle’……… she walked down and then walked back… for goodness sake…. AND THENNNNNNNNNNNNN… Just when me and everyone in that arena wanted to just give up RANDY ORTON HIT AN RKO OUT OF NOWHERE AND WE ALL WERE VERY HAPPY! I will never not be happy to see an RKO and whilst logically and storywise it makes absolutely no sense but it popped the crowd. Orton was a heel last time I checked so it was really odd, I was convinced it’d be Braun but ah well, who doesn’t love an RKO right? The crowd certainly did! AND THEN… AJ STYLES was on the apron and hit him with a Phenomenal Forearm!!! So all this was to set up their Mania match!? Erm… OK I GUESS AHAHAHA!!!

They showed the Mania advert again… and yet again I notice The Undertaker is the very first guy featured… I’m TELLING YOU people they would not have him in this advert if he wasn’t going to be there so keep your eyes peeled… and remember who told you he’d be there too!!!

The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) defeated Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre

Of course the pre match video was mainly Roman… but my god that moment with him saying his news was maybe the best in Raw history right? The package was exceptional, among the best I’ve seen for some time and they are always good but this was incredible.

Corbin come out first and got booed. Lashley next and he got booed too (no Lio Rush by the way, commentary said he was not here after being bulldozed by Strowman on Raw, which reminds me I can’t remember when we last had no Braun on a PPV). Drew came out last… AND THEN TO A HUGE POP… Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lema, Delta… SHIELD!!! Out from the crowd, all in OG Shield gear as well with the SWAT-team like outfits. It was just as cool as it always has been. All six men brawled in the ring as The Shield cleared house. Eventually the bell rung and Lashley and Rollins begun. The match was very long but I loved it personally. It was about as chaotic as you’d expect but it was all good fun: the heels took turns to beat on Rollins and then Ambrose early until Roman was tagged in to a pop, the heels were on top for a while cutting off very bit of hope The Shield had, Ambrose went flying off the top rope for an elbow strike to McIntyre, Corbin then got hit by Dean but Lashley then hit a big Spear but Dean rolled outside off the impact, then Roman then Seth got thrown into the barricade and Drew hit a Claymore on Dean to send him out the ring and Ambrose only got back in at 9! The three heels they took turns beating on Dean until Dean was able to do the move where he springs off the ropes and hits a big punch (whatever that’s called) and then he tagged in Roman Reigns to a big pop, Roman took everyone out and was looking like he was loving it and the crowd applauded him for it, he hit Corbin with a Drive-By but Drew broke up the following pin attempt… later with Lashley and McIntyre outside both Rollins and Ambrose dived through the ropes to take them out, Roman tried a dive too but ran into a Deep Six by Corbin and he got a 2 count. Seth then drove Drew in to the timekeepers area, Lashley dumped Rollins over and then Ambrose came running across the announce tables and took everyone out and over. And then for the next few minutes Corbin and Roman fought in the ring and the rest fought in the aisles in between the fan’s seating area. Corbin got some nearfalls in as the rest brawled elsewhere, there brawl ending with Rollins hitting an amazing diving crossbody to take them all out (similar to the one he did in the famous 6 man tag between Evolution and The Shield some years back which was a nice throwback). Roman got a nearfall on Corbin after a Superman Punch as the crowd really got in to the match now, the heels launched Dean and Seth into the barricade and then Roman hit Drew and Lashley with Superman punches but ran into an End of Days by Corbin…1,2 then Dean and Seth made the save to the delight of the crowd. “SHIELD” chants broke out as Corbin went on the attack to Rollins then Ambrose, he then instructed Lashley and McIntyre to clear the Spanish announce table and and they imitated a Shield powerbomb but Dean and Seth made the save, after a brawl Roman hit a Superman Punch to save Rollins going through the table, and then Rollins hit the Stomp on Lashley onto the table, Roman then hit a giant Spear on Corbin on the outside which may have go the biggest pop of the night! They then battered Drew and eventually to the huge noise of the crowd they put him through the announce table with a Shield triple powerbomb! The crowd chanted one more time and soon go their wish… The Shield surrounded Corbin who was in the ring and helpless, ‘This is Awesome’ chants broke out, they entered the ring methodically, Seth hit a superkick then Roman hit the Superman Punch then Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds, the crowd were going wild as Seth Rollins screamed very loudly “Cleveland…. ONE MORE FUCKING TIME” (which if anyone else but a guy in a main event match at Wrestlemania I’d imagine they’d get in trouble for but it did come across as real emotion so I was fine with it)… anyway they set up the big triple Powerbomb and it should be noted that the “OOOOOOO, AHHHHH” from Roman Reigns beforehand was echoed SOOOOOO loud from the crowd (maybe loudest it ever has been) so that was cool, and indeed they hit it and Roman pinned Corbin. Everything in this match went as it should of. They all embraced at the end and it looked very real emotion. Crowd were obviously delighted. It was really heartwarming stuff to watch. Michael Cole was spot on when he said this match was chaos and classic Shield and it was and it should of been just that. They did the fist bump to close the show.

****1/2

This show was weird in parts, underwhelming and irritating in others but we got the things we wanted from the night. It was very much a set up show for Mania but it was always going to be. I had fun watching it and it was generally in my opinion a good show. I’d recommend to my Uncle who always asks that this show isn’t a necessity to buy, but do try and watch the main event.

Josh.

Fastlane 2019 Preview & Predictions

The final stop on what has been a rocky and somewhat odd yet strangely exciting road to WrestleMANia takes us to Cleveland, Ohio for Fastlane. In the past we have left this event knowing our big MANia match, last year we had AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura confirmed and we all rejoiced, before that we’ve had Roman Reigns vs Triple H and then before that we had Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar 1 confirmed and people were… less pleased… so lets see what this years edition serves us, and lets see if we’re taken on many more strange turns (*SPOILER ALERT* we more than likely will be)…

KICK OFF SHOW: Andrade with Zelina Vega V Rey Mysterio

For the gazillionth time these two will face one another. But every single time it has been spectacular so who the heck cares?! Result wise it probably doesn’t matter either long term but if you want a fun, action-packed pre show match then this will be exactly it.

Prediction: Rey Mysterio wins

Raw Tag Team Championship: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable V Aleister Black & Ricochet V ‘The Revival’ (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (C)

Surprised this isn’t a kick off show match, not because of those involved more down to how the Raw tag division has been positioned as firmly in the mid card of the show. It’s a shame Ricochet and Black have their PPV debut in this rather than big singles matches but it is what it is. Given they’ve shot angles for them both on NXT TV already, and with the very recent news and uncertainty around the NXT Championship I’d say it unlikely there’ll be a title change here as I certainly don’t see Roode & Gable winning the belts back. FTR.

Prediction: The Revival retain

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Shane McMahon & The Miz V ‘The Usos’ (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C)

In short (because as funny as Shane and Miz may be and as much as I am SLIGHTLY warming to them as an act I’m still not totally on board with it) I think this match will be similar to their previous encounter, and I think The Usos will win, and I think either here or on Smackdown one of Miz or Shane is going to turn and set up a match for WrestleMANia. Seems inevitable sure, but it’s surely the whole point right? They’ve already lost the titles so at this stage I can’t see anything else. Would be cool if we could have The Usos take them to MANia and maybe lose them to Xavier Woods and Big E of The New Day and we have a New Day party with Kofi Kingston… busy…???

Prediction: The Usos retain

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Mandy Rose V Asuka (C)

I’m actually not as horrified by this as you may expect. Their match on Smackdown the other week wasn’t actually too bad, and they’ve built Mandy up a little. Yes we all want Asuka to be doing so much more, but with the eyes of the world on the Raw Women’s Championship right now, and the other two top female performers of the blue brand switching their goals to the female prize of the red brand, it’s tricky to give Asuka a big spot right now. Lets juts be happy she is a champion, and lets hope she wins here, and then at MANia…. who knows… I’ve seen what MAY be on the cards and… well…

Prediction: Asuka retains

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Nia Jax & Tamina V ‘The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection’ (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C)

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WWE DO NOT HAVE NIA AND TAMINA WIN THESE TITLES!!!! DO NOT TAKE THEM OFF BAYLEY AND SASHA NOW!!!! MANia you can have any form of huge match you want Bayley & Sasha to have: The Bellas, Trish and Lita, whatever you want, but I see no logical reasoning as to why you’d book anything else but for the champions to retain here. Which inevitably makes me fear Nia and Tamina will win… I BEG YOU WWE DON’T DO IT!!!!

Prediction: Bayley & Sasha retain

WWE Championship: Kevin Owens V ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan

Erm… OK then. What a dream match on the face of it! People are pissed wondering where Kofi is of course, the same people who are pissed that Becky lynch is out of the MANia main event. I tell you people to be patient. It’ll happen trust me. This is a ROAD to MANia, of all years this one isn’t straightforward but that’s all part of the story. I feel for Owens in that he’s in this spot, but I presume it’ll factor in to an inevitable heel turn soon, and hey it’s not like we are going to get anything aside form a great match between Owens and Bryan. Kofi’s time will come, for now lets just enjoy what should be a pretty great WWE Championship match.

Prediction: Bryan retains

Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley with Lio Rush & Drew McIntyre V ‘The Shield’ (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose)

So… they are back! Is Dean still going? Who knows! But THE SHIELD are having a match again, so lets just rejoice at that. They have to win right? I can’t see anything else, MAYBE you could pin Dean but I just can’t see Roman or Seth losing anytime soon so by default I can’t see The Shield losing here. It’s really interesting to see what the heels in this match do going forward to MANia, and we don’t have a clear direction of what they do with Dean and Roman. MAYBE they do a Dean turn here, and then Roman V Dean at MANia? Roman gets a big singles win, Dean does a job on his way out? I really don’t know but I just can’t see The Shield losing…

Prediction: The Shield win

Charlotte Flair V Becky Lynch (If Becky Lynch wins she is added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMANia)

So they are doing it this way then huh… Ronda is a heel shooter, Charlotte is a heel too, Becky is the woMAN of the people… Cool! So Becky has to win here right? Have Charlotte work over Lynch’s various injuries for the whole match and Lynch somehow fights enough to get a win? Or Ronda comes in and somehow gets Charlotte DQ’d? I don’t know how but the plan for so long now had been the three way, so expect it to be sorted here or at very latest the next night on Raw.

Prediction: Becky Lynch wins

Elimination Chamber was an indifferent show with many ups and downs. I feel Fastlane has potential to be better. But of course with that comes the risk they book weird stuff, and lately weird stuff has become the normality in WWE so who on earth knows… fingers crossed…

Josh.

Elimination Chamber 2019 Review

WWE’s first PPV on the road to WrestleMANia sees us step into the chamber twice tonight. One of them should be excellent, one will be historic… possibly not so good. I’ll let you work out which is which. But hey maybe we will be shocked. I’ve a feeling this show is going to be odd, I don’t know why but given recent WWE PPVs it should certainly be eventful. 

I didn’t see the pre show but in the sole match on the kick off part of the PPV Buddy Murphy successfully defended his Cruserweight Championship against Akira Tozawa in what I hear was a fine match typical of previous Cruserweight showcases on the big PPV. 

The main show began with a fun video package before Michael Cole kicked off the main show as we looked upon the Elimination Chamber structure that had already been lowered. it appears a Chamber match will begin the main card (this may have been outlined on the kick off show but I didn’t see that on this occasion and likely wont for Fastlane either). 

‘The Boss N Hug Connection’ (Sasha Banks & Bayley) defeated ‘Fire & Desire’ (Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose), Nia Jax & Tamina, ‘The Riott Squad’ (Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan), ‘The IIconics’ (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay) and ‘Fabulous Glow’ (Naomi & Carmella) in an Elimination Chamber Match to become the first ever WWE Women’s Tag Team champions

The announcement of the match from the ring announcer got a decent pop. Lets see how long that crowd momentum lasts… CARMELLA (OF ALL FUCKING PEOPLE, TRUST ME PUT HER NAME AND COREY GRAVES INTO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SEARCH BOX AND IT’LL MAKE SENSE)… anyway her entrance music hits first and as a babyface she is lightly booed despite her doing her usual act. Nobody on commentary is saying a word… pretty much until Naomi’s music hits. Renee Young speaks next… somebody else on commentary is certainly very silent right now… Seems Graves is going to be business as usual tonight. Expect the internet to pick up on a couple of lines he says about a certain someone in this match… ANYWAY… Where were we? Ah yes, a pretty historic match…. so yes ‘Fabulous Glow’ are out first, followed by Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan of The Riott Squad. Should mention also Beth Phoenix is on commentary I presume just for this match. Why we constantly need 4 people on commentary and why the women need the token ex Female superstar to commentate on every first women’s match I don’t know? Seems a bit too much to me… The IIconics, who if the world is fair as the longest team in this match in terms of time together they should really win, are out next (BREAKING NEWS: PEYTON HAS DYED HER HAIR) followed by Nia Jax and sidekick Tamina who get their usual PPV reaction from the crowd (I will react as bad if not worse than I did when Shane and Miz won the tag belts if these two win this match). Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose and finally Bayley and Sasha Banks (who gets a BIG pop coming out) enter last. Maybe intelligent that those 4 begin the match given they have the experience of being in the first Women’s Elimination Chamber match last year. Everyone in the match is wearing matching gear to their partners, I rate these kind of minor details. Bayley and Sasha brawled with Mandy and Sonya to start us off with neither team getting a clear advantage until the clock ran down whilst Mandy and Sonya were down hurt and Bayley and Sasha were exhausted. Logan & Morgan came in next, Logan smashed Sasha’s hurt shoulder into one of the pods which looked a horrible bump to take. Logan hit a pop-up headbutt on Bayley (as you do) before The Riott Squad turned to Mandy and Sonya. Morgan and Logan and Mandy and Sonya then fought one another in the ring. Some hard looking strikes with Morgan and Deville exchanging, Morgan even knocking down the former MMA fighter at one stage to which Deville immediately got back up and went to hit back, only for Liv to do a bridge but apparently it was a hit but it didn’t look like that. It started well but their selling towards the end looked silly and kind of ruined the exchange. Bayley came in and covered Morgan for a nearfall then hit strikes on everyone. Sasha is still down selling the arm smash by Logan and possibly her running injury from the past few weeks. Michael Cole exclaims how Bayley is ‘fired up’ which of course sees Mandy then hit her with strikes as she was on the top rope. Deville and Rose then hit Bayley with an assisted double superplex and Morgan and Logan helped Rose and Deville on their way down with powerbombs. It fell apart in the middle of the spot but it did leave all the women down which I guess was the end goal. Countdown ends for the next entrants and it’s The IIconics who given all the women are now down it gives the opportunistic heels a potential opening. They run in and go for pin attempts on everyone and everyone kicks out. They moan at the ref which was funny, before going around double teaming everyone. They gave Morgan an ‘alley oop’ and she landed right on her face, they did the same to Logan just after who took it very differently (AKA the right way) and funny enough didn’t hold her face afterwards… They get a nearfall on Bayley which is broken up by Sasha Banks. Sasha fights them off but The IIconics double team her. Their screaming is making me laugh, Billie Kay is hilarious and I don’t think she’s supposed to be. The IIconics then push Bayley and Sasha’s face against the chamber wall to show their more brutal side. The IIconics are really being booked strong so far which surprises me. They get nearfalls on both Bayley and Sasha. Before turning their attention to Rose and Deville and then to Logan and Morgan by throwing them each into the chamber wall. Next in is Naomi and Carmella… They go after the heel teams, The crowd are chanting something I can’t make out but can presume what it’s about… Carmella meanwhile is climbing the chamber wall with Billie behind her as Naomi and Morgan fight in the ring. Billie Kay had Carmella in a powerbomb position but Carmella countered with a hurricanrana to ‘send Billie into the chamber wall’ in what may have been the softest bump of any Chamber match I’ve seen. Carmella superkicks Logan before Naomi does her moonsault to get a nearfall that’s broken up by Morgan. Everyone in the match is getting spots in now in the ring. One would presume until Nia and Tamina come in and clear house… Highlight of that exchange by everyone was Sonya Deville’s Spear which looked awesome. Funny enough everybody is down… and then Nia and Tamina after showing their frustration at not being able to enter sooner are not entered in and the active participants exchange more moves. Then after Naomi and Mandy resumed their storyline; Billie Kay came in and attempted a schoolboy pin on Naomi before Peyton came over the top to hold down Naomi’s feet so she couldn’t kick out and in very creative fashion Naomi is pinned by The IIconics. Presume it was planned beforehand but Carmella’s involvement in the match was minimal. The IIconics celebrate gleefully but are slowly surrounded by everyone else in the match but before a brawl emerges Nia and Tamina enter and chaos ensues. The IIconics have by now locked themselves back in a pod until Nia and Tamina turn around and notice (this was funny). Of course the two monsters surround them and eventually grab them back out of the pod before rag dolling them into the chamber walls. Nia and Tamina then hit Samoan Drops and pin both Billie and Peyton. Immediately after Morgan and Logan go after Tamina and Nia, and kind of looked good doing so. Deville and Rose then come in to try and take the giants down. Bayley and Sasha then go after Rose and Deville. Crowd seemed disinterested although they may just be waiting for the end to see who the last 2 teams are. Sasha is still selling her shoulder. Tamina and Nia Jax re enter the match and flatten Bayley and Banks. Meanwhile Morgan and Logan have climbed on top of one of the pods to try and escape from Jax and Tamina below. Mandy and Sonya try to fight off Tamina and Jax until Morgan and Logan dive off either side of the pod to take the two below down on each side. Crowd liked that spot. Logan gets a nearfall on Deville. Nia chases Morgan and hits a Samoan Drop from the second rope and then Tamina hits the big Splash made famous by her Dad on Logan and Morgan before pinning both. Tamina and Jax, Mandy and Sonya and Bayley and Sasha remain. So would presume one of the heel teams will go out next then? … Bayley and Sasha double team Nia and then Tamina. Jax then drops Sasha onto Rose and Deville on the outside. and then launches Bayley outside too. Jax then waits for Bayley to get to her feet (you can see where this is going… oh god…) and as she does Nia charges Bayley but Bayley moves and Nia runs into the chamber pod smashing the (perspex) glass of the pod door and selling it like she’s knocked out. That didn’t look fun to take at all. Tamina looks on in shock and devastation. Rose, Deville, Bayley and Sasha all team on Tamina. This is really smart booking to protect the two giants if it leads to Tamina getting pinned here (although some would say Nia looks stupid maybe). Indeed Bayley hits her big elbow and all 4 women pile on Tamina to pin her. Crowd have woke up a little now. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville OR Bayley and Sasha Banks will win this match. This I like. Crowd are YES chanting so clearly they agree. Graves just said “I know my daughters are glued to the TV knowing we are going to witness history” … yikes… both teams exchange strikes. Banks hits a backstabber on Sonya into a Bayley to Belly but Mandy breaks up the pin as Sasha can’t believe it. Mandy then climbs the chamber wall as Bayley and Banks chase after her. Eventually Mandy is on a chamber pod as Sasha strikes her on the pod also. It is noted on commentary what happened on that exact same pod in last year’s women’s chamber match when Sasha looked to turn heel on Bayley for the 999th time that turned out to be nothing long term… Sasha helps Bayley up and commentary tease there will be a turn again which of course means there will not be. Instead they look to launch Mandy from the top of the pod to the floor of the ring below, but Sonya Deville climbs up in time for the save. All 4 women are near the top of the pod, until Bayley and Deville are left to brawl below with Mandy and Sasha still on top of the pod. Sasha climbs down to tend to her injured teammate, Banks is then teamed on by both Rose and Deville, Rose hits Tomasso Ciampa’s finisher (which if I’m Triple H I’m putting a stop to her using that move right away) but Banks kicks out at 2. Twice. Deville then goes to spear Sasha put hits Mandy instead. Banks then gets Devile into the Bank Statement but can’t lock it in fully due to her hurt shoulder so Deville forces her way out, but Sasha uses her legs to lock in the hold again instead which looked cool (the moment was a little spoilt by Corey just before stating that Sasha needed to call an audible… and then she did…). Deville then did indeed tap out and the crowd popped. Sasha and Bayley win!!! They hug and cry after which was heart warming. They told a great underdog, hard working babyface story with these two in this match. Hopefully their run as champions now really leads to and means something. This match was fine, sloppy in parts but it was OK. It did feel like it went too long although the finishing stuff was fine. I said in my mind before this that if Sasha and Bayley won and the match was above 2 3/4 stars I’d deem it a success… it was probably around just that. Charley Caruso interviews them both in the ring afterwards, they both seem genuinely overwhelmed as the crowd cheer. Sasha struggles to speak, they were crying a lot and it came across as very genuine what she had to say about their journey and women’s wrestling. So this was cool. Crowd loved it. This was a really nice happy yet emotional way to begin a WWE show. Great formula to begin. It took us a long and at times plodding match to get us to this moment but FIFTY minutes into the main show we have our moment we all wanted. The match was probably just a shade above how good I expected it to be, so guess I can’t have too many complaints other than it dragged at times, but at least the right team won. If it went shorter I’d have probably loved it. I have seen far worse Elimination Chamber matches mind you. Seems people liked this way more than me, it just dragged was my only issue. 

***1/4

Miz and Shane vs Usos video package… They’re building this up as the unlikely, odd-couple vs one of the best tag teams of all time. And when you look at it those billings for The Usos maybe right given their past accomplishments and quality of previous matches. Lets see how they do here… Miz comes out and gets on the mic congratulating Sasha and Bayley and then dedicating the match tonight to his dad, his daughter and his wife. Maryse then makes her way out. Miz then announces that they have a ‘really big announcement’, Maryse then says they are having another baby. That’s nice. Somebody in the crowd says ‘you still got it’ to which Miz says ‘yes I do’ which made me laugh. Fully convinced now The Usos will win.

‘The Usos’ (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) defeated The Miz & Shane McMahon (C) to become the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions 

Miz and Jimmy start. fine stuff. Jimmy tags to Jey. Miz dodges a superkick. Miz tells Shane he’s ok and doesn’t need to tag. Jimmy and Miz exchange moves. Shane tags in to a mini-pop. Shane goes up top looking for his classic dropkick to the corner move, but with the ref seeing Miz holding the Uso down it allows for Jey to distract Shane and eventually  Shane bats him off . Miz tags in as it is noted how well ‘Mac-Miz’ are working together so far in this match… I’m already confused which Uso is which so I’m going to just say Uso from now. Both Usos are on the outside as the champions are in the ring. The Usos gather on the outside as they plot their plan. Miz hits Jey (I think) Uso in the corner with the It Kicks, Jimmy tags in and they double team Miz to gain the advantage. The Usos isolate Miz now… which we all already know is going to lead to a big hot tag from Superman Shane… Jimmy Uso rips off Miz’s tag team shirt and throws it into Shane McMahon’s face before going back to beat up The Miz with one of his own moves. Miz though is able to regroup and knock Uso down, both tags are made. Notably not much of a pop for Shane. Of course he’s all over The Usos, completely misses contact on a big kick but of course its sold as if it did, Shane continues to beat up both The Usos on his own… Shane has The Usos set in opposite corners and then does his double dropkick Coast to Coast to one, and then slowly climbs up to do the other, but is caught with a superkick. Jey climbs up for the big splash, but Miz runs in to break up the pin (at least Shane didn’t kick out I guess). I don’t know if it’s just me but the crowd seem really flat for this show so far. Miz wills Shane to get the tag, Miz climbs in and does a springboard attack followed by a series of strikes until a Samoan drop puts him down. Miz though hits a DDT for a nearfall not long after. On the outside Miz clears an announce table, before dodging a flying Uso that left both Jimmy and Jey down. Oh god I’ve just realised what’s going to happen… Miz directs Shane to the top rope as Miz puts one of The Usos on the announce table… and then… indeed the huge flying elbow off the top through the announce table. Both Shane and Jey Uso are down laying. This leaves Miz and Jimmy to fight in the ring. After a brief exchange Miz is caught with a superkick and a splash but Miz catches him off the splash and rolls him over with a cradle pin for a nearfall. Then they both get to their feet, Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale and gets a nearfall but is then rolled over himself for the win for THE USOS!!!!!!!!!!! I might be the only person not called Uso that is smiling at that result. Surprising though for sure, interested to see where The Miz – Shane story goes now. And anytime The Usos win tag team gold is a good time so can’t complain. For sure though a surprise given all reports going in to the show reported all titles would be retained. So somewhat of a shock. The match was about of the level it would’ve been expected to be. After The Usos had gone to the back and their music stopped, Miz had mouthed “I’m Sorry” to Shane who was sat on the outside, Miz looking horrified and Shane gutted. Miz goes out to Shane and helps him up, Shane shows appreciation for Miz’s helps and efforts as the two walk to the back. No turn then…. just yet… 

***

Paige plugs her movie. 

The ALL-MIGHTY Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush are interviewed backstage. They are asked if we could see a 3rd new champion crowned tonight and if Lio is the weak link is this team. Until WWE come up with better questions for their backstage interviewers to ask I’m no longer going to waste my time on writing about what is said. In short Lio and Bobby seemed defiant on confident. I will say I saw Lio Rush wrestle on a ROH house show in Leicester in a small basketball arena in November 2016. Now he’s on a WWE PPV wrestling in February 2019. That makes me happy. 

Lio Rush and Lashley then come to the ring. Finn gets a big pop coming out. I really, really want him to win. I’ve felt for a long time the Intercontinental Championship was made for Finn Balor to hold forever…. Finn Balor is unbeaten in singles matches on PPV so is this handicap match how they keep that run alive, or is it a way to take the title off Lashley without him getting pinned? 

Finn Balor defeated Lio Rush & ‘The All-Mighty’ Bobby Lashley (C) in a 1 on 2 Handicap Match to become the New Intercontinental Champion 

Rush tags out immediately. Lashley beats on Balor. Balor brief comeback. Finn makes Lashley retreat to the outside and as Bobby and Lio are regrouping Finn holds off from his big dive and Lashley comes back in and takes charge. As Lashley ends up on the outside Lio pulls Finn’s foot to stop him doing his big dive, this sees Finn chase Rush round the ring until Balor runs into Lashley who drives him into the barricade. Lashley having taken down Balor now tags in Lio Rush. A very coal Rush now taunts and beats on Balor, until Finn makes a mini comeback that sees Rush immediately tag out again a soon as their is danger. Lashley gets a nearfall before tagging in Rush again, Lio has Finn in an abdominal stretch until Balor throws him over to escape the hold. Rush eventually acrobatically makes a tag and Lashley immediately charges Balor. Already this match seems very repetitive. Lashley hits a huge chokeslam like move to put Finn down, then as Lashley had his back turned Rush tagged himself in much to Bobby Lashley’s surprise. Rush suggesting to his partner that he could get the job down now Balor was down, Rush is on the top and misses his frog splash as Balor moves out the way (who saw that coming…), Lashley screams to Lio to recover and tag back out, Finn smiles at a shocked Rush knowing he is between him and a tag out. Finn blocks him on a few occasions before pulling him away and then hitting strikes to Rush and Lashley followed by his footstomp to Rush and then a slingblade to the Intercontinental Champion who had entered the ring and then sending Lashley and Rush to the outside and hitting his big dive move to take both men down. Finn wisely wastes no time in rolling Lio Rush back in to the ring, he does the dropkick to Rush into the corner, sets up the Coupe de Grace, HITS IT, goes for the cover and WINS!!!!!!!!!!!! Lashley comes out after but Finn retreats with the belt. Crowd loved that result. Lashley in the ring is furious. He is not happy with a downtrodden Rush, crowd are practically begging for a turn at this point, chanting for Lashley even, Bobby grabs Lio but puts him down. Lashley pulls him up but then indeed slams him down. Crowd get what they wanted.  This match was kind of flat and repetitive but it had Finn Balor being Finn Balor in, and the rush – Lashley dynamic was at times fun to watch unfold. But this match as a whole aside from the big pop for the finish was kind of just… there… 

**1/2

They plug a Mark Henry documentary on the Network which should be excellent. 

They recap Becky Lynch getting suspended on Monday and getting replaced for the Mania match against Ronda with Charlotte by Vince. Michael Cole introduces footage from a Smackdown house show the night before of Becky ‘violating her suspension’ trying to get involved in a match between Charlotte and Asuka (yes Asuka remember her? CLEARLY WWE DON’T RIGHT NOW). It ended with Charlotte “re-injuring” Becky’s knee.  

They then back at Elimination Chamber play Charlotte’s music and she gets a proper entrance… to sit ringside to watch a match… just in case Ruby Riott in this wasn’t already an afterthought… They have ‘FREE BECKY’ sings in the crowd (excellent stuff). Charley is interviewing Charlotte in the ring… everything you would expect and as good as HEEL Charlotte always has been. Crowd do their bit too chanting for Becky. Ronda makes her way out cosplaying Sonya Blade, the character she is voicing in the new Mortal Kombat game. Much I’m sure at long last to everyone’s delight Ronda gets to wrestle in something other than short-shorts she constantly has to pull at, and she has somewhat normal eye make up for once so all the little bitches online can calm their shit for one Ronda Rousey PPV match at least. 

‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Ruby Riott to retain the Raw Women’s Championship

Ruby opens up. Rousey with multiple arm drag takedowns. Ruby to the outside as Ronda talks shit to her. Ruby plays chicken shit heel. We are maybe a minute in and the crowd already are chanting “we want Becky”… Riott comesback with some strikes but Ronda quickly regains the advantage and hits the Piper’s Pit. She then points at the Mania sign, locks in the armbar and Ruby Riott taps. The match went under 2 minutes. RIP Ruby’s credibility although she was an afterthought anyway they gave her zero here.  

N/A 

Rousey poses with the belt looking at Charlotte (sat ringside) as she does so. Charlotte slowly makes her way in to the ring for a staredown as the “Becky” chants re-start. And then guess who appears in the crowd? THE MAN hobbles down on her crutches and hops her way to the ringside area. She makes her way into the ring (even commentary note how ridiculous her suspension is now that nobody in security stops her… yes I know it’s wrestling and we all love Becky… but this suspension from VINCE MCMAHON FFS is an absolute joke. Becky has violated it at every chance ffs). Anyway as Becky throws her crutches and then rolls into the ring, with the crowd chanting for here she gets to her feet with her crutches, Charlotte seems to mock Becky’s state. I believe this to be the first time all 3 women are in the ring at the same time which is cool. Becky then throws a crutch at Charlotte before hitting her with the other one as Ronda stands back. Becky is absolutely battering Charlotte here and the crowd are loving it. Becky is notably not selling her knee at all intentionally or not I presume not… Ronda looks on as if to say that Charlotte is getting what she deserves. Charlotte is doing a great sell job to be fair to her. Rousey then grabs one of the crutches and staresdown Lynch. Becky gives Ronda the chance to hit Charlotte herself with the crutch, Ronda talks shit to Flair, but as her back is turned Ronda gets hit by BECKY! The crowd obviously go wild but for god sake that’s such a heel move from Lynch so I’m confused. Becky is hitting both women with the crutch as the commentary team debate if she’s in the right or not. Eventually a tonne of refs and officials come down as Lynch hits Rousey again. Lynch then rolls out the ring and NOW starts limping again as security drag her out through the crowd. They cut to Ronda looking pissed. SO maybe they have Ronda demand Becky is bought back so she can beat her up. They’ve definitely done that kind of thing before. Although thinking about it Stone Cold used to beat up everyone around him even if they were a babyface as well and nobody cared then. So I guess from that POV of not trusting anyone it makes sense. Becky does want Ronda’s championship after all… we shall see… but I don’t think even WWE are blind enough to make Lynch a heel, more a good guy who just likes beating people up. Austin made a career out of that kind of character and was insanely popular so who cares. I think Ronda got cut on the top of her head. BADLY. Raw on Monday night should be fun. 

As Flair and Rousey are still selling the attack, Baron Corbin’s music begins for the next match (god I hate when they do that). Someone in the crowd had a sign which read “Boring Corbin”. Accurate. 

Baron Corbin defeated Braun Strowman in a No DQ Match 

Corbin throws his jacket at Braun to try and distract him as the bell rings but Strowman quickly flattens him. Corbin comesback with kendo stick shots. Eventually after failing multiple times to retrieve the kendo stick Corbin is shocked to see Braun grab it instead. The Monster Amongst Men that screams at Corbin “I don’t need a kendo stick to whip your ass”. Correct. Braun then snaps the kendo stick in two over his knees. Braun then does his running charge on the outside on Corbin. He then goes for his full running charge only to be halted by an office chair launched at him by Corbin. Braun just swats it away like it was a fly. Corbin sidesteps as Braun runs into the steel steps. Baron Corbin then smashes Braun with the steps before doing a running charge of his own to hit Strowman with the steps before doing a mockery of Braun’s roar. Corbin beats on Braun in the ring with hard punches as Corbin’s boxing background is noted. Eventually of course Braun takes control back, Strowman gets a table from under the ring, he sets it up in the corner, Corbin rakes the eyes to escape a running powerslam, Corbin goes for a clothesline off the top but is caught, set up for the powerslam again and then driven through the table. The just as Braun goes for the pin the music of Drew McIntyre hits. Braun looks on to see the Scottish Psychopath coming to the ring armed with a steel chair. But as Braun is looking at Drew… Bobby Lashley hits Braun across the back with a chair. Drew and Lashley then destroy Braun with chair shots. Braun fightsback against both men before Lashley downs him with a Spear. Corbin dishes out instructions, Drew and Bobby each bring in steel steps to the ring, then as Braun again can’t cope with the 3 v 1 they get another 2 tables out, they set one up as Drew hits Braun with a Claymore. The other table is set up on top of the previous one in the middle of the ring, Drew and Corbin then lift up Braun as Lashley steps on top of the steel steps… and they then hit a triple powerbomb made famous by The Shield on Braun through both tables. Corbin then gets the pin. Where on earth were any babyfaces to help out Braun? Where were Angle? Balor? Anyone? WWE reverting to type again of the dark period in WWE of November-December 2018… *sighs* … pretty much exactly what I expected/feared match and result wise. 

*3/4

They promoted the special Olympic world games in Abu Dhabi. Then they recapped Miz and Shane losing the tag titles earlier in the show. Shane is then showed getting medical treatment backstage as Miz again apologizes. Miz iz upset with himself as Shane tries to calm him down. He tells Miz to go home and chill and he’ll see him Tuesday. 

OH DEAR GOD… So…….. Lacey Evans’ music hits…. she comes swanning out, walks up and down the ramp one time, and then the camera cuts to black and they cut to a Mania ad… WHAT?! … OK then… 

There were then adverts for a few things WWE related. 

As the chamber again lowered we were again told the rules of the match. 

Big E did the usual New Day entrance monologue as him and Xavier Woods welcomed Kofi Kingston out. ‘Kofi’ chants from the crowd. Jeff Hardy next. Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and finally The New Daniel Bryan accompanied by Rowan followed. Bryan cut a promo and it was awesome. The refs demand Rowan goes to the back. This should be great. Good god it needs to be. 

‘The New’ Daniel Bryan (C) defeated Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe in an Elimination Chamber Match to retain the WWE Championship

Bryan begins trying to stay away from Joe. Joe demands he comes in the ring, taunting him to do so. Bryan continues to wait around the outside of the ring. Bryan kicks Joe in the legs as Joe laughs it off before going for kicks of his own. A knee bar is then locked in by Joe but Bryan escapes before the two exchange moves again. Joe hits Bryan with a series of chops, then a powerbomb for a nearfall followed by a Boston crab and an STF hold, into a crossface, then a form of armbar until Bryan rolled him over for a nearfall and then hit Joe right in his knee. Bryan launches Joe to the outside and then into a chamber pod edge. Bryan then tries to beat on Joe in the ring, but Joe takes a chop and then gives one back of his own to regain control. Samoa Joe rained down strikes including one HUGE chop,  Bryan drop toe hold on Joe into the turnbuckle as he then follows with the kicks to Joe in the corner as the clock counts down. Next to enter is Kofi Kingston who attacks both men right away. Kingston displays some great looking moves on Samoa Joe earning a nearfall, before Daniel Bryan then attacks Kingston for a nearfall of his. Joe then again chops Daniel Bryan and chases him away. Bryan climbs and sits on top of a pod leaving Kofi and Samoa Joe to fight. Genius. As Joe whips Kofi into the corner Kingston then jumps up onto the top rope and then again onto the top of the pod where Daniel Bryan is. This looked really impressive. Kofi then laid in on Bryan who climbed across the cage away, and with Kofi and  Bryan exchanging kicks whilst hanging on the chamber wall Samoa Joe below pulls down Daniel Bryan before Kingston kicks him down, and then Kingston dives on to the two men below and everyone crashed and burned. Crowd are really behind Kingston. Bryan kicked out of the Kingston pin attempt as did Samoa Joe. After exchanges of moves it was Joe who gained advantage hitting a huge Senton on Bryan and then getting a nearfall on Kingston as he took over the  match. 4th to enter was AJ Styles. He goes after each man in the match right away, including a double DDT on Daniel Bryan and Kof Kingston that earned him nearfalls on both. Styles beat on Joe as Bryan climbed up the chamber again. Styles saw him though and hit a Phenomenal Forearm to the back of Bryan’s neck to knock him down. AJ and Kofi had an exchange in the ring, Styles got a nearfall and then turned his attention to Samoa Joe. Joe though eventually tossed Styles back in to the ring and went on the attack, hitting Kingston after absorbing strikes, Joe did get the choke hold in but Kofi pushed with his feet on the turnbuckle and got a pin attempt from it which Joe just kicked out of but kept the hold locked in… Kingston did a form of stunner move to get out of it, and then AJ Styles flew into shot with a Phenomenal Forearm and pinned Joe. That was cool. Jeff Hardy then entered the match and got into it right away with Styles and got a nearfall from it. Hardy then sent Bryan packing with a kick and then went after Kingston. A really fun spot saw Jeff use a downed Kingston to hit Daniel Bryan with the ‘Poetry in Motion’ move made famous by The Hardys. Jeff did the Delete gesture and went after AJ Styles. Styles countered a Twist of Fate attempt with a Pele Kick as Bryan and Kingston brawled on the outside with Bryan ramming Kofi’s head into the Chamber wall. Meanwhile on the other side of the chamber Jeff Hardy was thrown into the upper part of a pod by Styles as Hardy was on the top rope. Bryan continued his attack on Kingston as Jeff and AJ fought on the top rope before both falling (I’m not sure that was planned). Bryan trapped Kofi Kingston’s arm in the chamber wall and pulled on it, as Jeff Hardy got on top of the pod with Aj laying across the top rope below, Jeff then hit a Swanton to the back of Styles before Daniel Bryan came from out of shot with the Running Knee. This is the second time they’ve done that this match so far and we haven’t even had Randy Orton enter yet. Bryan pinned Jeff. Bryan then set Styles upside down in the corner and hit him with a series of strikes before his patterned running attack (a staredown with Orton along the way too). Bryan then put Kofi on the top rope above AJ, Bryan got on the top rope as if for a superplex, AJ got up and grabbed Bryan from behind as if for a German Suplex, and then everyone came down with AJ still stuck in the ropes. And with Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan down and AJ Styles hung in the ropes here comes Randy Orton. He methodically enters the ring before taking down Bryan, then kicking at Styles and then taking down Kingston. Orton launched Kingston into Styles, Bryan went for the sneek attack, Orton missed an RKO attempt at Bryan got a crucifix pin attempt with a backslide. Orton then launched Bryan to the outside. Kingston in the ring now, still “Kofi” chants from the crowd before a nasty back-breaker from Styles. All the men involved started to sell more their efforts so far, and then AJ went for a Phenomenal Forearm on Kingston… but of course Randy Orton came in and yanked Styles down from off the ropes and hit the RKO. Orton pins Styles again. Kingston went for a roll up attempt on Orton but Randy kicked out, and then followed a really fast paced series of moves between two men who have wrestled one another for years and it showed. Everything here looked so crisp. Orton hit his draping DDT on Kofi, then signalled the RKO was near but instead caught Bryan with his powerslam move as the WWE Champion went for another sneak attack. Orton went back to Kingston to try and RKO but was hit with Trouble in Paradise and KOFI KINGSTON PINNED RANDY ORTON! Crowd really behind Kingston now. Bryan and Kingston had a long staredown before eventually going at it. Kofi showed his defiance during the initial striking exchange until being taken down and then Bryan his (YES) Kicks with the crowd chanting ‘NO’ at each hit, but he missed the last kick and eventually Kofi hit the SOS and got a very close nearfall. The crowd really are behind Kofi and seem desperate for the huge upset. Kofi goes face first into the turnbuckle after Bryan moves, before the champion lays in punches. More kicks from Bryan in the corner and hits multiple running kicks. Eventually Kofi charges up and hits a running stomp to Bryan for another nearfall. More crowd chants for Kofi as he waits for Bryan to get back to his feet, but Bryan chooses to roll to the outside of the ring. Kofi goes after him and the two go at it, with Kingston throwing Bryan into the chamber wall many times. Bryan regained advantage though by throwing Kofi against a pod as Kofi was going for a bulldog, he then rolled Kingston back into the ring. Bryan signaled the running knee was on its way, and he hit it big but KOFI KICKED OUT! WOW! Bryan cannot believe it. Neither can I. Bryan then did his big stomps he has begun doing again in recent weeks (he did them all the time years ago when he was in Ring of Honor). He covered Kofi who kicked out. Bryan went for the running knee again but Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise and went for a cover and at 2 Bryan rolled them over and got the pin attempt for himself. Essentially exactly what happened in the Smackdown Tag match. Only this time Kingston kicked out (the camera cut to a guy in the crowd in the middle of this which was odd). Kingston got a couple of strikes in on Bryan who then took him down and went for the Label lock, Kofi roared in pain as Bryan twisted. The crowd cheered for Kofi and he managed to reach the bottom rope to break the hold. Bryan made his way to the top rope but Kingston stepped up and kicked him, Bryan climbed away on top of a pod to try and escape but Kofi went after him. Kingston laid down strikes on Bryan on top of the pod and rammed his head into a perspex part of the chamber wall, he then looked below and then went to suplex both men to the floor below, but Bryan escaped multiple attempts and smashed Kofi’s head into the perspex. The exchange ended when Kofi kicked Bryan down, Kofi went for a big dive, Bryan moved out the way, hit the running knee and got the win. This was far better than the women’s chamber. The action with Bryan and Kofi to finish was great. Crowd seemed utterly deflated by Kingston not winning. They’ve seemed rather flat all show to me, but seemed they turned up to see Kofi Kingston win and then he didn’t. Nonetheless this match was really good. 

****1/4 

Rowan came out to celebrate with Bryan. Kingston was left in the ring to end the show as Xavier Woods and Big E came down to console their teammate. The crowd chanted ‘Thank You Kofi’ as Woods and E got him to his feet. New Day then sat on the chamber steps as their music played. Last shot of the show was New Day stood on the ramp as the crowd chanted for Kofi. 

As ‘B PPVs’ went this was about as expected. Lots of things that need to be answered going into the upcoming TV. The wrestling wasn’t exactly good. It was just ‘ a show’. This will not be one I demand My Uncle to buy when it comes out. An OK show. There was more good than bad. It started well, ended great and middle kind of just was there. So yes that was the show. I’ve no idea what any of the matches will be at Fastlane or what will happen on Raw or Smackdown so I guess from that POV the show did its job. 

Josh. 

 

Elimination Chamber 2019: Preview and Predictions

We are now on the road to Wrestlemania. And history tells us that the PPVs between Rumble and the big one often aren’t much more than filler or stop gap shows that are often predictable in results and finishes. And whilst once again Ruby Riott fills hear yearly spot of fodder for the Women’s Champion to give them something to do before their inevitable huge match (Riott was Charlotte Flair’s challenger last year before Asuka made their Wrestlemania match official), this show does feature a couple of very compelling Elimination Chamber matches that will be historically significant in one case, and potentially superb in-ring wise in the other. So as quote “B” PPV shows go I actually don’t think this line up is that bad. So without further or due here is my preview of the 2019 Elimination Chamber PPV. This marks a significant milestone for me as it is the first time I have covered a show that I did last year, so an anniversary of such.

Cruserweight Championship: Akira Tozawa V Buddy Murphy (C)

I’ve little doubt this will be a good match. The contract signing segment between the two on the go home episode of 205 Live was excellent so they’ve done a decent job in a relatively short time of going into this match hot. Murphy will win of course but expect the in-ring action to be entertaining to say the least with this one.

Prediction: Buddy Murphy retains the Cruserweight Championship

Women’s Tag Team Championship: ‘The Riott Squad’ (Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) V Nia Jax & Tamina V Bayley & Sasha Banks V Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville V Naomi & Carmella V ‘The IIconics’ (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay) – Elimination Chamber Match

I really, really, really hope this is good. But I’m very pessimistic. They might surprise, and of course it has high historical significance as it will crown the first ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. So the match itself may not be great, but I’m more interested to see who they out those belts on. Me personally I’d go for Bayley and Sasha but that seems the obvious pick, there are many pluses and negatives for each potential winner and I’d say this is the hardest match on the show to call result wise. But looking ahead to Wrestlemania I see Bayley and Sasha as champions going in will lead to the biggest women’s tag title match possible on the grandest stage.

Prediction: Bayley & Sasha Banks win the inaugural Women’s Tag Team Championship

Intercontinental Championship: Finn Balor V Bobby Lashley (C) & Lio Rush

A handicap match. Sp a cleaver way to get the title on Finn without pinning Lashley? Or a more allowed way of screwing Balor over? That remains to be seen but I like this dynamic more than a standard singles match just because of the added intrigue we have now. I would like Finn to win of course, but I also want him to have a big Wrestlemania match. Sure it would be a bigger moment if Balor was to win the title at Mania, but who right now would you have challenge an Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor? I have a dream scenario, but it may be just that… Demon Finn Balor defending the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania… against… KEVIN OWENS!!! Keep the dream alive WWE PLEASE?!?!?!?

Prediction: Finn Balor becomes the Intercontinental Champion… if not now then at some stage between now and Wrestlemania…

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘The Usos’ (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) V The Miz & Shane McMahon (C)

As much as it pains me that in 2019 Shane McMahon is a title holder in WWE, I must admit him and The Miz as an act are greatly entertaining. I have trust in The Usos maybe more than any other tag team to make this match work somehow, but whilst it seems the ending of this story is inevitable (with a split and a heel turn form one of the champions) it is a matter of when they pull the trigger. The Usos would make more than worthy title holders, but I just don’t see it happening here.

Prediction: Shane and Miz retain

Baron Corbin v Braun Strowman – No Disqualifications Match

At least now it is No DQ we know to expect interference rather than have it factor in to a bullshit finish. It does seems that the people involved in this are just lost souls at the moment with not much direction, but I’m sure the cream will rise to the top in that sense at we get towards Wrestlemania. As for these two men it will be business as usual, Corbin will be in the Andre Battle Royal and be one of the lats men eliminated. And Braun will once again be the backup plan should anything go wrong with matches higher up the card whilst being in some silly angle or worthless Wrestlemania match. Sadly. But they do to be far like to protect Braun, so expect Corbin to take another L in this match.

Prediction: Braun wins

Raw Women’s Championship: Ruby Riott V Ronda Rousey (C)

This is the absolute lock of the night that Ronda Rousey wins this match and keeps her title. 0.01% chance Ronda loses here. It is still a big occasion for Riott although I’m unsure how the match will go in-ring wise but Ronda almost never dissapoints on PPV so fingers crossed. Everyone will of course waiting for front row ticket holder Charlotte Flair to make her presence known. But equally as likely will be the crowd’s disdain for Rousey’s CURRENT Wrestlemania challenger and their obvious love for a certain MAN…

Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains

WWE Championship: Jeff Hardy V Samoa Joe V Kofi Kingston V Randy Orton V AJ Styles V “The New” Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan – Elimination Chamber Match

This SHOULD be really really good. I recall 2 years ago when Bray Wyatt won the title that that Chamber match was very good. and with all due respect to those men involved in that (Wyatt, Miz, Ambrose, Corbin, Styles and Cena) I would say on paper the quality of in-ring performers is higher in this years match than that of the 2017 event. It is a shame Mustafa Ali had to be replaced but the inclusion of Kofi Kingston in his place us both interesting and exciting. One would presume it’s a straight swap and however Ali was going to be booked now applies to Kingston (this was further backed up by his incredible performance in the epic gauntlet match on Smackdown this past week). But Kingston who has been a predominant tag team star for years now is suddenly in a huge WWE Championship match, and that itself is intriguing. I would strongly expect though that the exceptional Daniel Bryan will keep his eco-friendly championship belt after this one is done. But his Wrestlemania opponent still remains fascinatingly unclear…

Prediction: Bryan retains

So you would be right in thinking there are less matches on this WWE PPV than usual. But also be aware that both chamber matches could go between 30-45 minutes each (I’d recommend the women’s is closer to 20-25 but we’ll see). I recall last years Elimination Chamber PPV seeing me get close to 100% of my predictions correct, so don’t expect too many surprises on this show. An don’t be dissapointed if it just is… a show… rather than as being great. However we do have a great WWE Championship chamber match to look forward to. And a fun fact is that since the inception of Raw’s Universal Championship in Summer 2016 the Smackdown WWE Championship has not yet main evented a DUAL BRANDED PPV… Fingers crossed this show breaks that unfortunate tradition… Shows are often remembered for their main event so I would strongly recommend they put the WWE title match on last.

Josh.

Royal Rumble 2019 Review

I’m not sure if it was the company I had, the venue/amount of people in the venue, the amount of alcohol I drank during the show or the results of the show… but this for me, and I’m pretty sure those I was with, one of the most enjoyable WWE PPVs to watch for some time. Pretty much everything went as I would have wanted, BAR one notable exception but given the story I suppose I could kind of accept it. Nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed this show. Even if the actual wrestling was at SOME times sub-standard… the way it was presented within the context of the matches and the show as a whole made it into, for me anyway, one of the most fun WWE shows for some time. I know afterwards I certainly felt very happy with how it all unfolded. And that for one isn’t something I can 100% say after most PPV events. So without going on too much more here is my review of the 2019 Royal Rumble…

PRE SHOW: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable defeated Scott Dawson & Rezar (with Drake Maverick) 

So this bizarre match-up was made during the earlier part of the pre show. For those who don’t know the other member of the AOP (Akam) is currently out with an injury. We watching it where we were didn’t hear that it was actually not for the Raw tag team titles held by Roode & Gable. It was very much what would be expected from an impromptu match; very basic tag stuff, went maybe a little over 5 minutes (6;54 apparently) and ended when Dawson dropkicked Rezar by accident leading not long after to Roode and Gable hitting a combo neckbraker/moonsault on Scott Dawson for the win. Everyone I was with at least wondered what on earth the point of this match was. Says it all really. 

*3/4

PRE SHOW: Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev (C) (with Lana) to become the new United States Champion 

At the time I thought this match was above the usual standard of pre show matches. These two are good at what they do and played of one another really well here. The match itself had some good stuff without being exceptional; the finish came about when Shinsuke untied one of the turnbuckle pads to leave it exposed, so in her anger Lana came up on the apron and took off her shoes and gestured to the referee saying “HE’S CHEATING” (which those I was with found very funny indeed). Nakamura saw this and the two shouted at one another, this saw Rusev charging towards Nakamura but he in-turn moved out the way and Rusev accidentally hit his wife, knocking her to the floor below to his horror.  A mortified Rusev was then hit with a Kinshasa not long after and for a 2nd time in a month or so Shinsuke Nakamura is the United States Champion. Hopefully this marks something significant for Nakamura because he did pretty much nothing memorable in his first run with the belt. I’m sad they took it off of Rusev after a short reign but lets see what the future holds for both men. Overall this was a good match given its spot. 

***1/2 

It was at this point in the pre show announced that Braun Strowman would replace the absent John Cena in the Men’s Rumble match. 

Shawn Michaels (in his role as part of the pre show panel) announced ‘Half Time Heat’ to take place on the WWE Network during the half time period of next weekend’s Super Bowl. The match, playing off the aftermath of the previous night’s NXT Takeover, will see Ricochet, Velveteen Dream & Aleister Black take on the team of Adam Cole, the new NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano and the NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa. Excellent news. 

PRE SHOW: Buddy Murphy (C) defeated Hideo Itami, Akira Tozawa and Kalisto to retain the Cruserweight Championship

If this was intended to be a showcase match to get people to watch 205 Live then it came across to me and my company as mission accomplished. It was a pretty action-packed match with all 4 guys getting all their spots in and ended with the champion keeping his title. For maybe the first time in a long time the crowd seemed to be into a Cruserweight match on a PPV from the early stages. Very fun to watch. I’m not sure who challenges Murphy next but he’s very much a worthy champion so no problems from me with him keeping his title. 

**** 

Asuka (C) defeated Becky Lynch to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship 

Opening the show with this match turned out to be a great decision. Crowd were very much in to it from the get-go and it was eventful throughout. Shockingly both women were on their A game in the entirety of the match and went pretty 50-50 as it played out. The pure wrestling sequences between the two were really good and the finish was just that.  Lynch hit a Bexploder on Asuka off the top rope, but this only led to Asuka putting Becky’s finisher (the Disarmer) on the challenger, then Becky put the Asuka Lock on the champion. Asuka would fight out and hit a kick, Becky got the Disarmer but Asuka rolled away, and then Asuka applied the Asuka lock and rolled into a bridge with the submission still applied (which really looked impressive) and Becky Lynch tapped out. A very good show opener. I immediately thought of the Summerslam 2018 main show opener as a similarly good match to open a show with and this, perhaps given the magnitude of the participants which of course came in to play later in the show, was of a very high standard. Very good match. Becky looked angry after as Asuka celebrated… foreshadowing… 

****1/2 

Shane McMahon & The Miz defeated ‘The Bar’ (Sheamus & Cesaro) (C) to become the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions 

Despite my personal HATRED of the Shane McMahon character I must concede this was fun for what it was. The story early on was Shane would save his partner from any trouble (Miz by the may was sporting a baseball shirt similar to that Shane wears during matches, emblazoned with ‘Miz and Mac’ across the front). a highlight was when Cesaro did his big swing move on Shane which got a reaction from the crowd, but somehow not long after Shane locked a from of Traingle Choke hold on Cesaro until Sheamus made the save. Eventually the finish saw Sheamus go for his Brogue Kick on Shane but he hit his partner instead, leading to Miz hitting the Skull Crushing Finale and then (and yes what I am about to write really did happen) SHANE MCMAHON, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS OF TRYING, SUCCESSFULLY CONNECTED WITH A SHOOTING STAR PRESS AND PINNED CESARO! The new champions went on to celebrate with Miz’s father who was in the front row. Even I have to admit that at 49 years old seeing Shane do that move was very impressive. I collapsed to the floor in horror at this result but am also interested to see where the story between the new tag champions goes (presumably towards a turn from one of them and a resulting match probably at Wrestlemania). This was about as good as it could have been. 

***

Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Sasha Banks to retain the Raw Women’s Championship 

Some said this match was ‘clunky’ in parts and maybe it was and some said it was the best match of the show (I wouldn’t go that far but it was fine in my opinion), but nonetheless the live crowd and the people I was with enjoyed it. Sasha was the more popular of the two with the crowd. One noteworthy spot was Ronda hitting Sasha with the successive vertical suplexes similar to that of Eddie Guerrero of the past, Sasha Banks’ hero. Ronda did all her usual stuff but Sasha coped with it all, Banks later hit a suicide dive to Rousey on the outside but Ronda caught her and locked in the Armbar which led to Sasha tapping but of course they were outside the ring so it didn’t count. Later back in the ring Sasha had a crossface on Ronda, Rousey got to the ropes though but Sasha moved into an Armbar, but Ronda got out of it. The finish was Ronda Rousey hitting her throw move (called ‘Piper’s Pit’ which is really nice) for the pin. Ronda helped Banks up after the match in a showing of respect, and after Rousey went to celebrate with her Husband ringside and Sasha walked away, the beaten challenger came back to the champion and they shook hands… but then Sasha threw up the 4 fingers… This upon reflection wasn’t the best Ronda match we’ve seen, but was of a similar level. 

***3/4

Becky Lynch won the Women’s Royal Rumble Match 

Although at times the in-ring action wasn’t of the best standard, this was as fan-friendly a booked match as you could have put on. I must add though that the first, perhaps half of this match absolutely sucked wrestling wise but it definitely picked up as it went on. Every watching wanted one outcome, and it happened and everyone was happy after. What a concept! I’ll do my best to summarise all that went on here. The match itself went 1 hour 11: 24. To the delight of our friend Seana who was with us Lacey Evans debuted at number 1 (she cut an in-ring promo too which Seana loved trust me………. although she absolutely stunk wrestling wise). Natalya was number 2. Mandy Rose 3, Liv Morgan 4 but was almost immediately launched out by Natalya for our first elimination. Mickie James, Ember Moon and Billie Kay followed. Billie skated around the ring not wanting to get in it without Peyton with her (something I kind of called in my fantasy booked Rumble so I was happy). Fan favourite Nikki Cross came out next and attacked Billie and then hit a big dive in the ring on all those inside. Shockingly enough… PEYTON ROYCE came out at number 9 and shockingly too she quickly joined her Iconic partner in double-teaming Nikki Cross. Tamina was number 10 and got Mickie James out not long after. NXT’s Xia Li was number 11 which was A a surprise and B cool. Sarah Logan was number 12. Nikki Cross was thrown out by The IIconics which I hope and presume means she is Smackdown bound. Charlotte was number 13. Lacey Evans (whom as I presumed would be was booked fairly strong in this match) threw out both Royce and Kay. Charlotte threw out Xia Li (which as an NXT fan I didn’t mind as being eliminated by a huge name doesn’t do any damage to Li). My favourite wrestler Kairi Sane came out next and was absolutely excellent throughout in all she did (a shock to absolutely nobody who has seen her perform before). Charlotte eliminated Tamina (PRAISE THE LORD). And then a personal dream happened as Charlotte Flair and Kairi Sane exchanged chops. Kairi went on to hit her diving elbow on Sarah Logan and then team with Natalya to eliminate her. Maria Kanellis came out at 15 (she was also not so good shall we say at the ‘rassslin) and quickly surprised Lacey and Charlotte with a double-bulldog. Naomi was at 16 and quickly got out Mandy to carry on their story. Naomi then did her (seems like it will be) yearly spot; this time landing on her hands outside the ring, climbing on the barricade nearby, walking along it and then jumping onto the steel steps next to the ring to a big pop (bravo). Mandy thought pulled her down off the apron to eliminate her which pissed off the crowd after their delight at her feat. Lacey Evans then went out as our pal Seana rejoiced. CANDICE LERAE (aka Mrs “FUCKING PRICK”… check my friend Dan’s Instagram…) was next out which was awesome. She was followed by Alicia Fox who got into a fight with Maria over Fox’s “captain” hat and Fox threw her out. NXT’s Kacy Cantanzaro was number 19 which was wonderful to see. Zelina Vega was 20, Ruby Riott 21 and quickly aligned with her Riott Squad pals Liv and Sarah, leading to them eliminating Alicia Fox and then Candice LeRae (having her eliminated by a few women at once protects her so I was ok with that). Dana Brooke was number 22. Ruby Riott eliminated Kairi Sane (not cool but meh). Zelina Vega took up a spot hiding under the ring (makes sense). IO SHIRAI of NXT was number 23 which was delightful because she’s an exceptional wrestler. She quickly did a moonsault to the outside onto all members of the Riott Squad before she went in to the ring. Former NXT UK Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley was number 24 which I liked a lot. The one time Gymnast extraordinaire Kacy Cantanzaro then seemed to be eliminated, but landed on her hands outside the ring before walking on them back to the ring post and climbing up it (similar t what she does in her entrance to matches usually) to get back in to the ring. But of course she was immediately then caught and then eliminated by Rhea Ripley. For those who may have been unaware of Kacy before this it was certainly a way to make her memorable. Number 25 was Sonya Deville. Ripley eliminated Dana Brooke. And then as Zelina Vega was shown to pop out her head from under the ring and laugh… HORNSWOGGLE appeared! He chased a worried Vega in to the ring, she was then thrown out by Rhea Ripley, and Swoggle continued to chase Vega to the back… ok then… anyway Alexa Bliss made her in-ring return at number 26. She eliminated Sonya Deville. Bayley was 27, she then threw out Ruby Riott and Rhea Ripley (having her eliminated by an established name looks after her somewhat). Lana then came out as the supposed 28th participant in the match, but after the bump she took during the pre show US title match was limping and had her ankle taped up. Everyone I think knew what was coming here… meanwhile Nia Jax was number 29 and clocked Lana on her way to the ring for good measure. Jax then eliminated Io Shirai (again a protective booking of an NXT roster member so that was fine), and not long after got Natalya out too (Natalya entering at number 2 lasted 55 minutes which has to be applauded). Carmella was indeed number 30 to come out. And then the main story we all saw coming and all wanted actually happened. Lana continued to struggle on the entrance way as officials attended to her, Becky Lynch came out and reasoned with fellow with her countryman Fit Finlay who was seeing to Lana that she should replace the injured number 28 in the match. Finlay agreed and Lynch came in to the match and got as much a reaction as you would expect… which was just a tad loud… she immediately went after Nia Jax of course. Charlotte then failed to eliminate the crowd favourite as did Jax after. Alexa Bliss then eliminated Ember Moon (who I had before the match as my iron woman prediction and she did just under 52 and a half minutes). IRL pals Bayley and Carmella teamed to throw out Alexa Bliss. Charlotte Flair then eliminated Carmella leaving a final four of Nia Jax, Bayley, Becky and Charlotte (which considering I predicted the final 4 to be the WWE 4 horsewomen and Sasha wasn’t actually in the match I was pretty close with). Charlotte eliminated Bayley and Lynch eliminated Jax and we all had our dream final 2. Nia though took her anger out on Becky causing her to land on her knee. Charlotte looked on gleefully. Lynch defiantly told worried officials she was good to go and got in the ring. Flair targeted her injured knee right away, and the two had an exchange. It concluded with Becky hitting a Bexploder, Charlotte later going for a big boot to Becky whom ducked it causing Flair to be positioned for Lynch to chuck her out. As you can imagine this pleased pretty much everyone who was in the live crowd and was were I was watching. Becky celebrated for a fair amount of time after to the absolute delight of the crowd. There were no returning legends this year and a lot of NXT appearances which I was delighted with. No Bella twins. General consensus where I was seemed to be that the legends weren’t needed and the modern day talent was sufficient. Having watched back most of the Rumble matches from the last 20 years or so within the last few weeks I thought this one was amongst the most satisfactory to watch. Whilst the in-ring action maybe wasn’t the most thrilling it was still nonetheless booked very well I thought overall. Of course we were all waiting for Becky and naturally it got good when she made her appearance. But overall I thought this as Rumble matches go was terrible first half and good after that, and in my opinion better than the Women’s Rumble last year. Notable stats were that it went 1 hour 12 exactly, Charlotte got 5 eliminations, Natalya (56) Ember Moon (52) Charlotte (50) went longest, Liv Morgan (8 seconds) Naomi (1 minute 28) went shortest time. 

***1/2

Daniel Bryan (C) defeated AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship

It is amazing to think a WWE Championship mach between possibly the two best wrestlers in the company could be in the death spot on the show, but such was the fan rejoice at the result of the previous match I don’t think everyone watching was as in to the quality of wrestling on show from these two as they otherwise would have been. It was pretty much what you would expect from these two throughout; hard hitting at times, great exchanges of mat wrestling at others etc etc. Not long before the finish it got weird. Erick Rowan came out… Bryan went for an Enziguri kick on Styles but hit the ref instead. This allowed for AJ to hit a Styles Clash only to then be Chokeslammed by Rowan and then Bryan got the win. The match was obviously good, but that ending… I’ve no idea where that came from… everyone watching no-sold it… Rowan picked up AJ after the match and Daniel Bryan hit the running knee. This was all surprising to say the least. Weird. Ending for me at least killed what was a good match. 

***3/4 

Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman defeated Finn Balor to retain the Universal Championship

Pretty much as exactly as expected this one. Main story was Finn targeted Lesnar’s stomach as a point of potential weakness. Man Finn (no Demon) fought well but came up short It went under 10 minutes which this far in to the show and still with another Rumble match still to come was probably wise, and it showed by the fact the people watching were much more vocal during this match than the one before. Lesnar did his stuff, Balor did his and it ended with Brock winning with a Kimura after a Balor nearfall from a Coupe de Grace. I’m pretty certain it has been years since Brock won a match with a Kimura lock so that was interesting. Balor got maybe a bit more offence in that expected so that was cool. After it was done Brock hit Finn with a few Germans, his music played, then he went back and gave Balor an F5 which pissed off the live crowd. I can see where they were coming from as it did come across as a bit unnecessary after beating him clean to then attack him after as well. For what it was this was pretty much spot on. 

****1/4 

Seth Rollins won the Men’s Royal Rumble Match 

Elias was number 1. He did his gimmick performance thing. JEFF JARRETT was bizarrely number 2. They had a sing-song together which I think everyone else watching enjoyed way more than I did. It ended when Elias hit Jarrett with an elbow and then over the back with his guitar. Elias then threw Jarrett out. Shinsuke Nakamura (and not ecTHREE sadly) was number 3. Kurt Angle was number 4 which naturally people loved. Big E was 5 but got Angle slammed pretty quick after. Nakamura threw out Angle. Mr “FUCKING PRICK” (again see my friend Dan Winder’s instagram and it’ll make sense) and new NXT North American Champion JOHNNY GARGANO was number 6 which of course people loved. Jinder was 7 and Gargano got rid of him pretty quick (thank GOD). Big E then put pancakes in to Samir Singh’s (one of Jinder’s whipping boys) mouth and hit his finisher on him. Samoa Joe was number 8 and got Big E out not long afterwards. Curt Hawkins was number 9. Rollins was 10. Titus O’Neil came out as number 11, but was careful to approach the ring slowly so as not to slip and then got under the ring anyway which was absolutely hilarious. He then got into the ring but Hawkins threw him out, who himself was then eliminated by Samoa Joe. In his 12th Rumble Kofi Kingston was number 12 in this one. Mustafa Ali was next at number 13 and pretty much right away got new US Champion Nakamura out (so one would presume that’ll be a US title programme soon). Dean Ambrose came out at number 14. Dean tried to get Kofi out but he stayed in it (of course he did…). Dean eliminated Johnny Gargano (again an NXT person eliminated by an established big main roster name after a fair amount of time in the match, so no qualms from me). No Way Jose was number 15 but was eliminated after TWO seconds by Joe… he then seamlessly went back to dancing with his conga line. Drew McIntyre was number 16 and attacked the conga and Jose en route to the ring. He then went on a rampage upon entering, delivering Claymores to Rollins, Dean and Samoa Joe fairly quickly. Xavier Woods entered at number 17 and quickly saved his New Day brother Kingston from going out, but was then (along with Kingston) eliminated by McIntyre not long afterwards. NXT UK Champion Pete Dunne was number 18 which of course me and everyone around me was ecstatic with. He got a big crowd reaction upon attacking Mustafa and Drew. Andrade was 19. Apollo was 20. Number 21 was NXT’s ALEISTER BLACK!!!!!!!!!!! He was though quickly set upon by a combination of Dean, Drew and also by Andrade (which for obvious reasons was funny). An almost forgotten man (one of many on Smackdown) Shelton Benjamin entered at number 22. Mustafa got rid of rival Samoa Joe. Corbin was 23, he got rid of Apollo. Jeff Hardy was number 24. BARON CORBIN ELIMINATED ALEISTER BLACK (WHAT ATROCITY HAVE WE ALL COMMITTED TO WARRANT THAT HAPPENING???? FML). Pete Dunne did his finger-break spot on Corbin (much better) but Drew made the save and threw Dunne out (again I was fine with that totally). Rey Mysterio entered at number 25. Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley was number 26 and pretty much right away was gone courtesy of Rollins. In retaliation Lashley dragged Rollins from the ring and put him threw an announce table. Braun Strowman was number 27. He got out Corbin, Shelton and Jeff Hardy fairly quick. Dolph Ziggler was number 28 and he eliminated tag team partner turned enemy Drew McIntyre (why???? FFS). Royal Rumble match veteran Randy Orton was number 29 this year. He tried to RKO Braun but got the big running Powerslam for his troubles. R Truth did indeed enter in the number 30 spot… but NIA JAX attacked him from behind and made her way to the ring (I’m not making any of what I’m about to type up, it all 100% actually took place. And yes although I had a lot of alcohol in my system at the time I’ve quadruple checked since and turns out it REALLY REALLY happened as I’m about to explain). Nia went after Dolph in the ring, then Andrade, then Rey. Nia Jax then headbutted Mustafa Ali in the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match and proceeded to eliminate him from the match. Orton went for an RKO on Nia from behind but she saw it coming. Ziggler then superkicked Nia, Rey gave her a 619 and Orton hit an RKO on the former Raw Women’s Champion. and then Mysterio and Randy worked together to toss Nia Jax out. Yes all that really happened I’m deadly serious. Trust me I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time and still don’t now but it was obviously notable as the first real time that a woman has received offence from a man in a WWE match for some time (there was the mixed tag at Mania last year of course but this was very very different from that). To me it appears to be possible the beginning of WWE following many smaller promotions and re-introducing the idea of intergender in-ring interactions Anyway back to somewhat normal service… Orton hit an RKO on Rey and got rid of him and then Andrade eliminated Orton (already looking forward to that match happening). We were left with a final 4 of Braun Strowman, Andrade, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler which I guess it pretty fine. The 3 others ganged up on Braun for a time, but Strowman eventually tossed out Andrade and Ziggler separately. As was the case with the Women’s Rumble earlier on the final 2 participants were the two overwhelming favourites to win the match going in, but it was all absolutely fine once again as I’ll explain… They had a back and forth that concluded with Rollins Curb Stomping Strowman on the ring apron which led to his elimination (this was a really cool looking spot). Once again the favourite won the rumble. But once again nobody minded as it was the person we all wanted to win. Overall the action in the Men’s rumble seemed to be better than the Women’s before it. It was equally as fun throughout to watch unfold. Some minor annoyances during it but none sufficient enough to substantially take away from the match itself. Overall a fine Rumble, maybe not as good as last years but regardless it was still of a decent quality. Stats were it went 57 minutes 35 which was shorter than the Women’s Rumble earlier, Drew and Braun each got 4 eliminations, Rollins (43) lasted longest and Jarrett (1:19) Jinder (29 seconds) Titus (5 seconds) No Way Jose (2 seconds) Xavier Woods (3 seconds) Lashley (13 seconds) went shortest time in the ring. 

***3/4

Overall afterwards I think I speak for myself, Dan, Lorraine and Seana who I watched the show with, along with all the people in the sports bar with us and pretty much everyone else who watched live in saying this was a fun show to see. It was mighty long but I think we all knew it would be coming in but from the beginning of the pre show to the closing shot of Seth a shade under SEVEN HOURS had passed which is an obscene amount of time for any event in my opinion. Result wise it went almost exactly as expected but on the whole we got all the stuff we wanted. There was a lot of… weird stuff that happened too (Rowan I’m looking at you) but I guess that will all be explained on TV this coming week and thereafter. I know coming out of the show I personally felt happy. So a fine job WWE. And my Uncle Scott always asks me if he should go on to purchase each WWE PPV on DVD when it’s out. I will certainly be recommending this one to buy! 

Josh. 

 

NXT Takeover Phoenix: Review

Right so new year new blogs. I’m just going to write whatever comes out, and not put any structure to it, just make it as fun as possible for me, and hopefully it reflects in the blogs being more natural and fun for you all to read. So I watched this show with my friends Dan and Lorraine. It was their first Takeover live, so was nice to share that experience with them. I remember mine (Takeover Dallas the night before Wrestlemania in 2016) and I’ve loved NXT ever since, and I love this brand for nights like tonight. So without further or due I will now talk you through our experiences watching NXT Takeover Phoenix.

So the pre show was your standard kind of thing, it featured the announcements of the NXT year end award winners as well. A highlight being Kairi Sane almost being in tears of joy at winning 2 of the prizes, she’s just the cutest thing. Another notable occurrence was pre show panelist Sam Roberts appearing to hesitate a few times in making a point regarding the women’s title match, and then essentially burying the match and Bianca Belair and saying the match wasn’t Takeover worthy… This obviously made a lot of people MAD on social media, but I’m not 100% sure if he wasn’t fed that line as it was reference on commentary later in the show, guess time will tell…

The main show opened with an extraordinary viking, medieval inspired entrance from the War Raiders. This was awesome.

War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) defeated ‘Undisputed Era’ (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (C) to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions

This (shockingly enough) was an excellent show opener. Strong & O’Reilly were there usual great wrestlers but acting like dickhead heels, Rowe was his usual scary yet powerful self, but the star of the show in this match was Hanson. Never have I seen a guy of his size do what he did, Cartwheels and springboards off the middle ropes are not usual actions of a near 300 pound guy but this monster was amazing in this match. The crowd were hot all the way through here past all the nearfalls and crazy spots. War Raiders got the win with their tag team finisher, and it says all you need to know that despite the fact the incredibly popular Undisputed Era lost, War Raiders still got the babyface pop they warranted. Largely I’m sure down to their amazing showing in this match. A classic match up that pitted the power of the War Raiders versus the crafty wrestling skills of Strong and O’Reilly and what certainly is UNDISPUTED is this was an excellent show opener.

**** 1/2

They showed NXT UK Champion Pete Dunne and NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm at ringside. This made the 3 of us very happy.

Matt Riddle defeated Kassuis Ohno

I don’t need to tell you I’m sure, but this was a good match. Matt Riddle is so over it’s a joke. Expect him in a title match Mania weekend for NXT. Lots of hard looking strikes from both men, lots of nasty looking bumps but every bit as good as you’d of hoped for. Finish was very creative in my opinion when you factor in Riddle’s MMA past; Riddle had Ohno on the ground and began hitting him with a flurry of elbow strikes to the head area, so many and with such velocity that Ohno tapped out and Riddle had the win. A sort of finish you may see in the UFC so it came across as a believably legit win for Riddle. The Bro train marches on, full steam ahead! Bro.

****

Johnny Gargano defeated Ricochet (C) to become the new NXT North American Champion

Jesus Christ I don’t even know where to begin reviewing this one. Just imagine a match every bit as good as you’d expect from these 2 exceptional talents… then add some more. This was by far the highlight of the evening, not to say the rest was anything less than great but this match was exquisite from start to finish. Ricochet did Ricochet things, and Johnny Takeover put in a performance worthy of his self-proclaimed moniker. By This point in the show I was a few vodka red bulls in so had a blast watching it, and judging by twitter and the reactions of Dan and Lorraine who were with me everyone else loved it too. If you check mine or Dan’s social media you will see a rather hilarious video filmed by Lorraine of mine and Dan’s reaction to one spot where Gargano suplexed Ricochet to an exposed part of the floor outside the ring… Dan cackling away at the perils faced by the hero Ricochet as the villainous Gargano executes his manoeuvre… me furiously screaming “NOOOO, BAD JOHNNY NO, YOU FUCKING PRICK” … It’s a pretty funny clip…. Anyway… yeah the match itself was brilliant. Loads of cool spots and nearfalls, some pretty incredible storytelling, and then Gargano only went and won the belt didn’t he… Amazing stuff as expected.

*****

Shayna Baszler (C) defeated Bianca Belair to retain the NXT Women’s Championship

I wasn’t sure about this match going in. I like both women but wasn’t sure how their characters or styles would mix on such a big stage. But they did a great job and probably produced as good a match as these two against one another at this stage in their developing careers could have put on. Bianca did a great job of being the underdog but fearless and fighting babyface, Shayna played the asshole, scary heel monster equally as well. Of course Bianca’s hair was a key element in the match, and of course Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir ran in a times but it all happened enough and at times when it made sense for it to do so. At one point as well Belair whipped her long hair so hard it actually caused a visible cut on Baszler’s chest area (this may have been down to the jewellery type things the challenger had wived into it mind) These women were in a super tough spot sandwiched between the two most hyped matches on the show, but they did an admirable job. After Belair fought and fought with all her mite to try and stay in the match, Shayna eventually got the submission win after Belair finally passed out to Baszler’s finishing hold.

*** 3/4

They showed Velveteen Dream sat ringside watching the show, with 2 female friends with him. This was after earlier in the night he was shown arriving backstage with a chauffeur and his said lady friends arriving. I love this guy, he’s the coolest.

Tomasso Ciampa (C) defeated Aleister Black to retain the NXT Championship

Again I don’t think I need to tell you that this match was very very good. If not as good as Ricochet vs Gargano it was only the next level down from. And in some minor similarity to the previous title match on the show it was the babyface challenger fighting valiantly against the asshole Champion whilst carrying an injury that meant they came up just short of the win. But before I get into talking about the action itself I must touch on… at one point in the match as has now become customary Tomasso Ciampa complimented himself saying “I’m so damn good”. This made the 3 of us HOWL laughing, followed by myself and Dan making a series of funny meme-like quotes with the phrase as a punchline. I hope and pray I see some gifs of this tomorrow. So the match then? They traded moves in the early stages, but quickly Ciampa began to target Black’s leg (which is a crucial factor in his offensive kick-based arsenal particularly his Black Mass finisher). After this it was pretty much Ciampa led most of the way aside from a few brief moments of Black offence which got the crowd excited. I don’t know if it was just me but at one stage I thought it was going too long, but then they picked it up and in the end when it wad done I thought it had been a great match. Black at stage despite his injured leg hit the Black Mass kick but as he and the champion fell to the ground Ciampa rolled onto his side so that Aleister couldn’t pin his shoulders to the mat as Black was so exhausted. The finish came when Ciampa hit his finisher (now called ‘Happy Ending’, a sort of sit-out Pedigree for those who haven’t seen it) about 4 times overall, Black kicked out after 3 to the shock of us all, including Ciampa who for maybe the first time as champion looked to doubt himself. Black summoned enough energy and momentum not long after to go for the Black Mass again but his standing leg (the same leg Ciampa had targeted all match) gave way on him, and in his second of weakness it cost him as Ciampa picked him up once again, hit his big move and got the pin to keep hold of his precious ‘Goldie’. An excellent Takeover worthy main event match.

****3/4

The show ended in somewhat of an amazing visual, as Ciampa was on the top of the rampway about to exit, his former tag team partner and best friend turned mortal enemy, now turned… I don’t know what… but Johnny Gargano joined Ciampa on stage. And the two held up their championships side by side to the crowd to close the show. An amazing visual to close a pretty amazing show.

So after the show went off the air it appears Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream along with Black and Ricochet came out, and there was some form of confrontation that saw Dream, Ricochet and Black side against Ciampa, Gargano and Cole that Triple H had to try and control. I don’t know what this will mean in NXT going forward and how all these pieces fit but Triple H talked about it on his post show interview so I’m sure it’ll be addressed once the new tapings occur.

Overall it seems universal across the board this was yet another brilliant NXT Takeover. It certainly seemed that Dan & Lorraine felt as good about the show, maybe more so than I did after my first live viewing of a Takeover show. NXT has a lot of ways it could go now, but all of them are good. The amount of talent on the roster, even if a few find homes of the red or blue variety between now and the Takeover of Wrestlemania weekend, we will still have a number of really interesting storyline avenues we could go down. Firstly after Adam Cole proclaimed weeks ago that his Undisputed Era would be draped in gold in 2019, they now have 0 championships to their name. Who next for Shayna Baszler? Io Shirai perhaps? and what on earth will the NXT universe do now that the former DIY tag team now hold the singles titles of NXT? It all has left NXT in a really exciting position going forward after what , in NXT Takeover: Phoenix was an excellent show.

Josh.

Royal Rumble weekend 2019 Preview (Including NXT Takeover: Phoenix)

So a new year and a new style and format of previews ahead of big WWE shows for me. I love doing the reviews as I really get a buzz from reviewing a show that just took place, whereas I often find the previews somewhat of a chore. So my reviews and my previews may be in different formats throughout the year as I really want to make the most of my freedom and just do what I enjoy the most the way I want to do it. So any feedback on anything style wise or anything content related that you read in my blogs and likes/dislikes I’d appreciate any feedback. ANYWAY on with why you’re here. The 2019 Royal Rumble weekend is set up to be absolutely excellent. The NXT Takeover show is stacked as always and the Royal Rumble seems like it should be a good show (Shane McMahon aside), if not good certainly dramatic as the road to Wrestlemania begins. You would think coming out the show the main matches at Wrestlemania will be made more clear, so for that reason alone it’s a pretty big weekend for WWE. So let’s do this chronologically and begin with the traditional Saturday night show (my personal highlight of the weekend) and looked ahead to NXT Takeover: Phoenix and the 5 matches scheduled for that show:

NXT Takeover: Phoenix

NXT Tag Team Championship: ‘War Raiders’ (Rowe & Hanson) v ‘Undisputed Era’ (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (C) with Bobby Fish

If you’re after a great professional wrestling tag team match this weekend then this is the match for you. War Raiders have been one of the best tag teams on the planet for a few years now combining their power with, when you take their size into account, some pretty incredible athleticism that make the vikings a formidable force. Not Much I need to say about the champions other than they are excellent asshole heels that are both exceptional in the ring. This should be a lot of fun. I can’t see Undisputed Era staying in NXT past Wrestlemania as their popularity continues to grow and grow to the point they’re probably the most over act in NXT right now, but I don’t think it’s time for them to drop the titles JUST YET… My prediction for their match at the pre-Mania show may be very different

Prediction: Undisputed Era retain… for now…

NXT Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair v Shayna Baszler (C) with Marina Shafir & Jessamyn Duke

I really don’t know how this will go as a match. They’re not two women I’d instantly put together given both run best as heels, both have styles which only really works if they look the strong in their matches, and both are usually put with someone that has more experience than them and more often than not guides them to a decent outing. And that’s not to say either of Shayna and Bianca aren’t very good on their own merit, but together one on one in a big Takeover singles match? I don’t know… One would presume this is just a sort of holding match until Shayna has her big programme leading to the Women’s match at the Takeover before Wrestlemania. It’s notable that Io Shirai in particular hasn’t been close to the title scene aside from her involvement in the shenanigans that took place during the Sane v Baszler 2/3 falls match at Takeover: War Games 2018. But who knows maybe they want Shayna on the main roster now to do something with Ronda? But I can’t see it. Bianca Belair is a future main roster women’s champion by the way, I’ve no doubt about it.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler retains

NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano v Ricochet (C)

Need I say anything more? JOHNNY GARGANO against RICOCHET?! This is going to be incredible. Could go either way result wise, but regardless I’ve no doubt whatsoever they’re storytelling will be great as will the match. Be interesting to see how this result impacts on the main event…

Prediction: Ricochet retains

Matt Riddle v Kassius Ohno

This is just going to be great isn’t it? Interesting that Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole amongst others are not on this card in favour of a 3rd clash between these two greats. And they really are great; Ohno albeit a jobber to the stars almost in recent times in NXT is one of the soundest in-ring workers on the roster. And Matt Riddle is a superstar with beyond belief levels of potential. It’s absolutely the right call to get this man on the Takeover card, he’s a star and with the more exposure his superstar status will only grow and grow. The first match was a squash intended to make Riddle a star in WWE, the second was a great match on NXT TV but was followed by Ohno attacking Riddle to get his heat back, so lord only knows what these two could put together with time and a Takeover stage. Riddle is the star,he’s very quickly in the rise.

Prediction: Matt Riddle wins

NXT Championship: Aleister Black v Tomasso Ciampa (C)

Need I say anything more? ALEISTER BLACK against TOMASSO CIAMPA?! This is ALSO going to be incredible. This one I really can NOT see going either way though. They’re keeping it going it just seems like destiny that one day, presumably in the main event of the Takeover show the night before Wresltemania; Johnny Gargano is going to defeat Tomasso Ciampa for the NXT Championship. Given how Gargano is being booked creatively at the moment it’s really unclear which way he’s going long term (face or heel) but they just wont get away from it. And that really makes me think that’ where we are heading. Nonetheless I think there’s an outside chance this is the end for Aleister Black in NXT. I don’t know what else you do with him unless it’s in the title picture at this stage, but they may wait until after Wrestlemania… if only there was a big main roster event and match where there’s lots of surprises that he could be a part of…

Prediction: Tomasso Ciampa retains

Royal Rumble 2019

So of course given the name, this is basically a one (or nowadays two) match show. Don’t expect many title changes elsewhere on the card, it pains me as much as it possibly could to say it, but it seems the most likely new champions are Shane McMahon and The Miz to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship… good god… So just to go through the under-card for you:

  • Buddy Murphy defends the Cruserweight title against Akira Tozawa, Kalisto and Hideo Itami – He’ll likely retain
  • The Bar (say a prayer for them because within the same 12 month cycle they lost the tag titles of Raw to Braun Strowman and a fucking CHILD) defend the Smackdown Tag titles against The Miz and SHANE MCMAHON – Either Miz and Shane are winning or this is the start of their feud angle going in to a likely Mania match… good god…
  • Rusev defends the US title against Shinsuke Nakamura… imagine 12 months ago these two being in a singles match that IS NOT for the WWE title, and more baffling nobody care about it one bit… terribly sad…
  • Asuka defends the Smackdown Women’s title against Becky lynch and Ronda defends her championship against Sasha Banks. I presume both champions retain but all depends on booking and how they want to go with the women’s Rumble. Both matches will be absolutely fascinating to see unfold for sure.
  • AJ Styles challenges WWE Champion Daniel Bryan… Need I say more… And finally FINN BALOR challenges Brock for the Universal title… Need I say more!!!

And of course we will have the Men’s and Women’s 2019 Royal Rumble Match. Which as you all know will see 30 participants in each compete for the right to challenge for a world title at Wrestlemania. Now… after much deliberation I have decided to experiment and instead of writing a bog-standard preview of both rumbles matches I will instead fantasy book each match in FULL. Now I’d like to point out a few things: this is not what I think will happen nor what I want to happen but somewhere in between, the timings of eliminations and entrants etc. are based upon if everyone really did come out at exactly 90 second intervals (most of you I’m sure are aware the real time intervals are more 1-3 minutes depending on what they need to do in between creative and story-wise, go back and watch an old Rumble and see for yourself) so the numbers I’ve listed for how long people last and when certain things happen may not be completely realistic but sticking with the 90 second rule made my life very much easier. if anyone has any questions on how anyone has been ‘booked’ in my fantasy Rumble matches feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to justify. Also if you read and like this sort of thing I may do it in the future and fantasy book future WWE PPVs instead of your typical preview and prediction blogs you see 10000 times in the weeks before by various sources. So without further or due let me tell you all my ideas for the 2019 Men’s and Women’s Royal Rumbles Matches.

2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match

(FYI Whenever I put ” * ” that star symbol means someone had a part to play in an elimination (didn’t get an elimination on their own) and did so with someone else.)

Winner: Seth Rollins

Ric Flair: Seth Rollins (32 minutes), EC3 (27 minutes, 45 seconds), Drew McIntyre (26 minutes)

Santino Marella: Jinder Mahal (30 seconds), Xavier Woods (30 seconds), Drake Maverick (35 seconds), Elias (40 seconds)

Kane: Drew McIntyre (8 +* eliminations)

Suprises: EC3, Kurt Angle, Drake Maverick, Kevin Owens, Bray Wyatt, Sami Zayn, Lars Sullivan

Entrances & Eliminations:

dddfb

00.00 = 1. Mustafa Ali enters to a big pop

00.00 = 2. Apollo Crews – start with 2 talented mid-carders to begin the match hot

01.30 = 3. EC3 – at number THREE it has to be him. Big pop as he starts on fire taking both men down.

03.00 = 4. Big E – staredown with EC3 as he enters

04.30 = 5. Samoa Joe – big crowd reaction (‘Joe, Joe, Joe’ chants), typical Joe angry face as he takes everyone down straight away

05.40 = Apollo Crews eliminated by Samoa Joe – crowd boos, Joe poses

06.00 = 6. Jeff Hardy – sprints to ring and brawls with Joe immediately to a big pop

07.30 = 7. Baron Corbin – loud boos, he does his cocky smirk as he walks to the ring. Immediately he targets Mustafa Ali (the smallest man in the ring)

08.00 = Mustafa Ali eliminated by Baron Corbin – Crowd boos a lot as Corbin smiles (apologies Mustafa but you’re the sacrificial lamb to get the heat on Corbin, but don’t worry fans, I’ll make it up to you shortly…)

09.00 = 8. Kurt Angle – HUGE pop and ‘you suck’ chants. Immediately charges at Corbin

10.00 = Baron Corbin eliminated by Kurt Angle – 🙂

10.30 = 9. Drake Maverick – crowd are shocked. He comes out in AOP gear, he’s got his angry, tough face on, everyone in the ring stops in shock and bemusement…

11.05 = Drake Maverick eliminated by EC3 – (IRL these two are best friends and worked together in TNA in the past, so this is one purely for those ITK…) , EC3 looks on in disgust as he shakes his head at Maverick… normal service then resumes…

12.00 = 10. Kevin Owens – GIANT pop, biggest of the match so far by a long way. It is supposed to be Tye Dillinger as always at Number 10 but he was mysteriously attacked during the kick off show and 2 men were seen running away from the scene… or something like that that explains to everyone beforehand that it wont by Tye at number 10 but a surprise… it was Owens and Zayn as well who stopped Tye from entering at number 10 last year.

12.50 = Big E eliminated by Kevin Owens

13.30 = 11. Dolph Ziggler

15.00 = 3v3 KA/JH/DZ v SJ/KO/EC3 … then 12. Jinder Mahal – he tries his ‘shanti’ stuff on everyone to calm everything down…

15.30 = Jinder Mahal eliminated by EC3/Jeff Hardy/Dolph Ziggler/Kurt Angle/Samoa Joe

16.30 = … lights out then 13. Bray Wyatt – Bray appears in the ring, huge pop, runs wild on everyone.

18.00 = 14. Kofi Kingston

19.30 = 15. Sami Zayn – Absolutely MASSIVE pop as crowd sings along to theme song as Zayn soaks it all in and does his obnoxious heel stuff to lap up crowd … Sami approaches KO and hugs him to the delight of the crowd, they then target Kurt Angle… meanwhile Kofi Kingston nearly goes out, but Sami and Kevin help him stay in, KOfi is wary as they explain to him that he can’t go out yet as he hasn’t done his ‘thing’ this year yet, (Kofi every year does a crazy spot to avoid elimination) so a confused Kofi says ok, they shake hands, Sami walks back to beat up Angle and Kevin walks away, waits until Kofi’s back is turned, and then…

20.40 = Kofi Kingston eliminated by Kevin Owens (Kofi’s increasingly far fetched rumble spots come to an end this year, for the best particularly as Naomi has adopted the pattern in the women’s rumble from last year)

20.45 = Kurt Angle eliminated by Sami Zayn – Angle goes to jump Owens but is dumped out by Zayn instead

21.00 = 16. Seth Rollins – huge ‘burn it down’ from the crowd, Rollins runs wild on Owens and Zayn with help from Ziggler … meanwhile Jeff Hardy and Bray Wyatt staredown which sends the crowd in to loud ‘DELETE’ chants, as Jeff does the delete gesture and Bray does his usual arms out laughing pose…

22.15 – Bray Wyatt and Jeff Hardy eliminated by Samoa Joe – after EC3 squares off with Samoa Joe, this gets ‘TNA’ chants from the crowd

22.30 = 17. Andrade

24.00 = 18. Kalisto

25.30 = 19. Randy Orton – ofc a HUGE crowd reaction

26.15 = Samoa Joe eliminated by Randy Orton

26.25 = Andrade eliminated by Randy Orton … EC3 attacks Orton which gets a crowd pop

27.00 = 20. Drew McIntyre – big pop. Staredown with Orton until Kalisto attacks him from behind…

27.25 = Kalisto eliminated by Drew McIntyre – then Drew and EC3 look at one another and smirk before teaming up on Randy Orton (another TNA link)

28.30 = 21. Rusev

29.15 = EC3 charges at Orton but he dodges and EC3 is eliminated by Randy Orton then from behind…

29.20 = Randy Orton eliminated by Drew McIntyre – huge pop

29.45 = Drew turns around and storms towards Ziggler, hitting him with a massive Claymore as Ziggler went for him at the same time … Dolph Ziggler is eliminated by Drew McIntyre

30.00 = 22. Dean Ambrose. His music starts as everyone looks around waiting for him, but he comes through the crowd with a chair and attacks Rollins. He smashes Rusev with the chair for trying to interfere. …. Owens and Zayn try to double team Drew but he repels them… Dean puts Rollins through the announce table on the outside of the ring, standing over him before slowly making his way into the ring leaving Rollins laid out ringside…

31.30 = 23. Shinsuke Nakamura

33.00 = 24. Rey Mysterio – gets a big pop and runs wild on everyone, until Drew hits him with a headbutt…

34.00 = Rey Mysterio is eliminated by Drew McIntyre (sorry Rey but needs must) … Owens and Zayn try to cheerlead all the heels to stick together, eventually we see Owens and Zayn, Drew, Nakamura and Dean vs Rusev (huge ‘Rusev Day’ chants) as the camera makes a point of showing Rollins is still down ringside… until… Drew turns on Owens and Zayn and…

34.20 = Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn eliminated by Drew McIntyre

34.30 = 25. John Cena. – usual huge reaction and ‘John Cena SUUUUUUUCKS’ chants, he runs into the ring and immediately squares off with Drew until Nakamura attacks Cena form behind, but Cena fights-back, lifts him up for an AA to the outside over the top rope and…

35.10 = Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated by John Cena – staredown with Drew then they fight

36.00 = 26. Elias – immediately runs into a Claymore

36.40 = Elias eliminated by Drew McIntyre

37.30 = 27. Bobby Lashley – Lashley and Ambrose go to fight eachother but Rollins re enters the action to a big pop and attacks them both with a chair, Lashley is able to escape as Rollins focuses on Ambrose, throwing the chair away, taking him down and hitting him on the ground

38.10 = Rusev eliminated by Bobby Lashley – crowd are pissed. Lashley then joins in with Ambrose beating on Rollins, meanwhile Drew and Cena fight

39.00 = 28. Xavier Woods – Claymore…

39.30 = Xavier Woods eliminated by Drew McIntyre

40.30 = 29. Lars Sullivan – everyone in the ring stops and stares at the monster. 1 by 1 they charge at him, 1 by 1 he squats them down.

42.00 = 30. R Truth

43.00 = R Truth eliminated by Lars Sullivan

45.00 = Bobby Lashley eliminated by John Cena – (I was thinking of how I could get Lashley out without beginning a feud and to kind of protect him. So I went with Cena.)

46.30 = Dean Ambrose eliminated by Seth Rollins (big crowd pop, Seth gets his revenge on Dean)

Final 4 of: Seth Rollins, John Cena, Drew McIntyre and Lars Sullivan. I see this a good mix of old and new stars, heels and babyfaces, and of course they’re all big stars with semi (at least) realistic chances of winning.

48.00 = John Cena eliminated by Lars Sullivan – this is how Lars’ monster push begins. BIG crowd pop and Lars poses.

50.30 = Lars Sullivan eliminated by Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins – this is what I came up with to protect Lars.

Final 2 of: Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins. Smaller good guy against bigger bad guy. Classic stuff.

53.00 = Really good exchanges, false finishes etc and the crowd is going wild desperate for Seth to win, although some cheer when Drew nearly wins (given how over he is)… until

SETH ROLLINS ELIMINATES DREW MCINTYRE TO WIN THE 2019 MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

Seth vs Lesnar at Mania. Has to happen. Should happen. WILL happen.

2019 Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Winner: Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair

Sasha Banks: Ember Moon (41 minutes, 10 seconds), Bayley (33 minutes), Charlotte Flair (30 minutes, 45 seconds)

Vickie Guerrero: Zelina Vega (45 seconds), Mandy Rose (50 seconds)

Michelle McCool: Nia Jax (5 eliminations)

Suprises: Lita, Trish Stratus, Toni Storm, Kairi Sane, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch

Entrances & Eliminations:

wrr

00.00 = 1. Ember Moon

00.00 = 2. Naomi – 2 solid workers to start the match off hot. –

01.30 = 3. Nia Jax – BOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! – Tries to throw Naomi out but Naomi does whatever her yearly spot to stay is going to be and the crowd cheer (as much for the spot than against Nia)

03.00 = 4. Sarah Logan – Logan tries to help Naomi and Ember eliminate Nia but Jax fights all 3 off

04.30 = 5. Nikki Cross – big pop. Runs wild on everyone in the ring.

05.10 = Sarah Logan eliminated by Nikki Cross … Nikki staredown with Ember Moon “nxt” chants

06.00 = 6. Billie Kay – she doesn’t enter the ring as she’s scared of Cross. Instead she wonders around the ring wary of the crazed Scotswoman in the ring…

07.30 = 7. Peyton Royce – Billie looks relieved. They discuss together how to get rid of Cross, then they enter from alternative sides as Cross looks (crazed) on, they slowly enter and are immediately jumped by everyone else in the match…

08.40 = Billie Kay eliminated by Ember Moon & Naomi

08.55 = Peyton Royce eliminated by Nia Jax – after this Cross v Jax and Naomi v Ember are mini matches

09.00 = 8. Sonya Deville

10.30 = 9. Alicia Fox

12.00 = 10. Bayley – she runs in and goes wild. gets a decent pop as she gets the crowd worked up

12.50 = Alicia Fox eliminated by Bayley ; B v SD, NJ v EM, N v NC

13.30 = 11. Lita – Big pop. Runs wild on everyone until she runs into Nia Jax…

14.50 = Lita eliminated by Nia Jax – lots of boos

15.00 = 12. Liv Morgan

16.30 = 13. Mickie James

18.00 = 14. Trish Stratus – v Mickie James

19.30 = 15. Toni Storm – POP!!!

19.55 = Naomi eliminated by Toni Storm – crowd pop out of surprise

20.30 = Liv Morgan eliminated by Toni Storm

21.00 = 16. Zelina Vega

21.45 = Zelina Vega eliminated by Toni Storm

21.50 = Nia Jax attacks Toni from behind and then… Toni Storm eliminated by Nia Jax … she chats shit to her as the crowd boo ferociously

22.30 = 17. Natalya – charges at Nia

23.40 = Trish Stratus eliminated by Nia Jax – boos

23.50 = Nikki Cross eliminated by Nia Jax – a lot more boos, Nia then puts everyone else left in the match down and stands and poses as the boos ring down more so

24.00 = 18. Kairi Sane – HUGE pop. goes face to face with Nia and does all her pirate poses and stuff, she gets some offence in but goes for a springboard clothesline and Nia flattens her and poses. More boos

25.30 = 19. Charlotte Flair – she storms towards Nia. Bayley tries to help but Nia throws her away, Charlotte hits a big boot with Nia laying against the ropes…

26.20 = Nia Jax eliminated by Charlotte Flair – she throws her over and is then hit from behind by Sonya Deville…

26.45 = Sonya Deville eliminated by Charlotte Flair

27.00 = 20. Lana

28.30 = 21. Lacey Evans – takes everyone in the ring down. and then a women’s right to Lana…

29.10 = Lana eliminated by Lacey Evans

29.40 = Natalya eliminated by Lacey Evans

30.00 = 22. Brie Bella

31.30 = 23. Ruby Riott

33.00 = 24. Tamina

33.35 = Kairi Sane eliminated by Tamina – BOOOOOOOOOOO … 4 v 4 heels v faces scrap

34.40 = 25. Nikki Bella – mixed reaction from crowd

35.20 = Tamina eliminated by Nikki Bella & Brie Bella – leads to Bellas vs Bayley and Charlotte – crowd get excited

35.40 = Mickie James eliminated by Lacey Evans

36.00 = 26. Dana Brooke

37.30 = 27. Sasha Banks – HUGE pop … the first “we want Becky” chants

38.30 = Ruby Riott eliminated by Sasha Banks

39.00 = 28. Mandy Rose

39.20 = Dana Brooke eliminated by Mandy Rose – Mandy poses… Naomi comes out to taunt her – Sonya Deville comes back out to attack Naomi as Mandy talks trash at Naomi as she’s getting beat up…

39.50 = Mandy Rose eliminated by Ember Moon (I thought this would keep Mandy a star by not having her wrestle much… sorry Mandy but now is about getting your gimmick over more than your wrestling)

40.30 = 29. Alexa Bliss – big pop but subsides as people realise we aint getting Becky, hence some light boos and they turn into loud ‘we want Becky’ chants

41.10 = Ember attacks Lacey Evans… until… Ember Moon eliminated by Alexa Bliss – pop

41.25 = Lacey and Alexa appear to become pals Lacey looks happy but when her back is turned… Lacey Evans is eliminated by Alexa Bliss – crowd love it … we end up with Bayley, Charlotte and Sasha v The Bellas and Alexa tries to buddy up with The Bellas…

41.45 = Alexa Bliss eliminated by Nikki Bella and Brie Bella … we are left with Nikki & Brie vs 3/4 horsewomen… very loud “Becky, Becky, Becky” chants as the staredown happens

42.00 = Carmella’s music plays but she doesn’t come out. We cut to the back where Mella has been laid out and has officials around her, Vince McMahon comes out and asks what’s happened? He looks towards someone off camera, and yells “you want this? go and get it, you’re the number 30, GO, GO GET OUT THERE GO!” … crowd are by now losing their fucking minds… there’s a brief pause and then the music hits 30. Becky Lynch – crowd lose their mind, one of the biggest pops for a long time; Becky chants, yes chants everything. … Becky comes marching to the ring, goes nose to nose with Charlotte and looks towards Bayley then Sasha, she walks towards the Bellas, nods at them both and appears to make friends with them, turns back to the WWE horsewomen, but quickly turns back towards Nikki Bella and whacks her in the face and knocks her down, Brie goes to attack Becky but Lynch takes her down too, then Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha all join in a 4 on 2 beatdown on the Bellas as the crowd continue to absolutely lose their shizzle!!!!!!

43.00 = Brie Bella eliminated by Bayley & Sasha Banks

43.10 = Nikki Bella eliminated by Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch

Final 4 of: Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch

the 4 horsewomen stare off from opposite corners, the crowd chant “yes, yes, yes”; Bayley and Sasha shake hands, Bayley and Charlotte shake hands, Charlotte and Sasha… just… shake hands

Becky looks on disgusted and then thumps Bayley in the face and kicks away Charlotte

45.00 = Bayley eliminated by Becky Lynch … Sasha attacks her from behind but…

45.15 = Sasha Banks eliminated by Becky Lynch

Final 2 of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch

Becky and Charlotte staredown, both talk trash to one another and point to the Wrestlemania sign and then they FIGHT

Eventually both brawl and go through the MIDDLE ropes to the outside, Charlotte gets ‘Ken’ (the kendo stick) but misses hitting Becky with it, Becky gets the stick instead and whacks Charlotte with it and hold sit up in the air as the crowd cheers. Becky rolls Charlotte back in to the ring…

then RONDA comes out via the crowd and then launches Becky into the steel steps (Ronda is wearing her ‘angry face’ today), she then puts Becky into the ring again (crowd is absolutely amazed by all of this)…

Ronda herself goes into the ring and is face to face with Charlotte (who is also wearing her angry face)… and then they FIGHT!!! Eventually Becky comes back and whacks Ronda on the back with the kendo stick and proceeds to destroy her with it until Ronda rolls out the ring…

Charlotte attacks Becky from behind but Becky grabs her and goes for a Bexploder over the ropes, but Charlotte grabs the ropes, she then pulls Becky over the ropes so that both women are stood on the ring apron to the outside… they brawl and kick eachother to the floor at the same time…

55.15 = Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair eliminate one another at the same time.

Both women go back in the ring as the bell rings. They show loads of replays as both women argue that they are the winner, they show the replays on the big screen, referees hold both women’s arms up in the air, the ring announcer says that both women have won the Royal Rumble Match. Charlotte and Becky stare eachother in the ring, they then look to the side of the ring where Ronda is still laying and she looks back at them as they look at her and then to the Wrestlemania sign again. There is a shot of Ronda stood ringside looking into the ring whilst Becky and Charlotte are face to face but look back at her, as the show goes off the air.

BECKY LYNCH AND CHARLOTTE FLAIR ARE THE CO-WINNERS OF THE 2019 WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

^ This is what I came up with to get us to the 3 way WrestleMania match. You could even do a Charlotte vs Becky match at the PPV for the right to face Rousey at Mania and have that end in a funny way somehow. But yes I see a 3 way as a far bigger match than a singles match involving any 2 of the women. Especially if it’s going to be the Wrestlemania main event.

SOOOOOOO…. That was that, It’s all a bit of fun but any feedback I’d appreciate, and hey if any of it actually happens I get to say I told you so. Regardless I think the whole weekend is going to be spectacular. I know I’m certainly looking forward to it!!!

Josh.

WWE in 2018: A Year in Review

Wow, what a year in WWE 2018 has been. I’m not sure there has ever been a more up and down year for the company, and as a fan it has been thrilling, wonderful, excruciating and heartbreaking, and sometimes all in the same show. So I’ve been unsure for some time how to structure this blog, one that I’ve very much enjoyed putting together and hopefully that’ll be replicated in how good it turns out (of course I’ll be still faced with my eternal issue of the formatting messing up on the mobile version of my blog so it looks poorer, nonetheless hopefully the content makes up for it). I eventually settled on a structure that will take us through the following:

  • Honorable Mention: In this section I was going to talk about my personal highs in WWE of 2018 (the best show I ever saw; NXT Takeover: New Orleans, the greatness of NXT as a whole but instead there was only 1 thing I felt compelled to talk about), instead I made a choice here to talk briefly about Roman Reigns.

 

  • Match of the Year: Pretty simple here; I count down my personal top 20 matches of the year from across the various WWE brands and shows. Believe me this was a tough list to make deciding which one was better than the other. And hopefully it’ll give you all some matches to watch on the network.

 

  • Moment of the Year: These were the 10 times in 2018 WWE that really touched me emotionally the most. It could be a surprise, a result, an entrance or a segment. The number 1 on this list was obvious to me from the start but the others are fairly subjective to me, but hopefully you agree generally. (and before EVERYONE moans there’s no Becky Lynch bloody face thing, because I don’t like Nia Jax as a performer and I don’t like seeing people get legit hurt). 

 

  • Superstar of the Year: The big one! Who will take the ‘coveted’ (please, humour me…) honour of being crowned my WWE Superstar of the Year for 2018. I combine Men, Women and Tag Teams into one list and decide who I felt was the all round best in WWE in 2018 (that’s in-ring ability, promo skills, character and the simplest quality… being good). Adam Cole was top in my mid-term report blog in June, who makes my top 20 and who ends 2018 on top?

 

  • In Summary: I’ll probably put over those who topped my previous lists, talk about some personal WWE memories of 2018 for me, and also look ahead to what we could see it 2019 in WWE. But much like with most of my blogs, who knows what it will entail.

 

So without banging on too much more (because believe me there is A LOT to get in to) I will begin my End of Year Review Blog for WWE in the year 2018!!!

Honorable Mention

Roman Reigns

On the Monday Night Raw of October 22nd 2018 Roman Reigns opened the show as he so often does. He walked out to a typical chorus of cheers drowned out by boos, but he was dressed not in his wrestling gear, instead he had the Universal Championship draped over his shoulder of a black sweatshirt, black bottoms and his gold chain around his neck, he was in ‘casual gear’ some might say. He got into the ring and cut a promo. He told us all about how he said he would be a fighting champion, how he said he’d be here every week, but instead he said that was a lie. He said the reality is that his name is Joe, and that he had been fighting Leukemia for 11 years. And suddenly the course of WWE changed forever. In one incredibly brave admission in front of the world, Roman Reigns became the most popular guy in the company with the fans, certainly the one we all suddenly felt most emotionally for. Those fans that had vehemently booed his character suddenly sympathized and applauded a man called Joe. The Universal title was vacated, but not in a retirement speech, he vowed to be back. The tears of Rollins were echoed by us all, me included I’m not afraid to say. It was a terribly sad moment, but one that showed the togetherness of the WWE and the entire wrestling world. The outpouring of support for Roman was heartwarming. I said a lot more on Roman before my blog that previewed the Evolution PPV, but simply put this man has been the centre-piece of all our WWE fandom of recent years, so many incredible moments in WWE’s recent past have come as a direct result of Roman Reigns. He’s never going to be booed ever again, he shouldn’t be either, this guy is tougher than any of us ever knew. He will be back, he will beat this, and my oh my could we not have one of the most incredible moments in WWE or anywhere’s history IF/WHEN the Big Dog returns, BELIEVE THAT!

Match of the Year

This was the part of the blog I debated and pondered over the most. There have been some absolutely exceptional matches in WWE in 2018. And yes although the greatest match of all time did take place this year and it not be in WWE, AND as much as most weeks the matches on WWE TV aren’t exactly great; there have been some great PPV matches and some out of this world NXT Takeover matches (yes, there are A LOT of NXT matches on this list). A special mention before this list to the 205 Live roster (particularly Buddy Murphy, Cedric Alexander and the now Smackdown Live superstar Mustafa Ali). Due to the quality of the better WWE matches of the year any match rated lower than 4 3/4 stars isn’t able to make the list. And without checking back I can think of at least 5 or 6 matches from the all-Cruserweight show that have only just failed to make my top 20. But most weeks you’re unlucky not to get at least 1 good match. So better luck next year to that roster. Anyway here is (after much self-deliberation) my top 20 ranked matches in WWE of the year. Watch them all, NOW!!!

20. WWE Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura V AJ Styles (C) – Last Man Standing Match; Money in the Bank= ****3/4

HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH we finally got a great Styles vs Nakamura match in WWE… only took them what, 3,4 attempts?! But hey it was a great match to end maybe the most underwhelming feud of the year given the near-impossible to beat expectations going in. The finishing spot as well given the theme of Nakamura and his fondness for low blows was superbly told. Good work gentlemen.

19. ‘Undisputed Era’ (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) V ‘War Raiders’ (Rowe & Hanson), Ricochet & Pete Dunne – War Games Match; NXT Takeover: War Games 2018 = ****3/4

I don’t even know where to begin with reviewing this match in a short form. I did my best to review it in my blog on a match that went more than 45 minutes and concluded what was an incredible Takeover show overall as always. 8 great performers all had their chances to shine, all 8 were excellent, but that’s not a shock is it?

18. Daniel Bryan V Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman; Survivor Series = ****3/4

At around the halfway point in this match I had this match rated at about one star, it was every other Lesnar match we’d seen (Suplex, Suplex, Suplex, Lesnar poses, Supex, Suplex…), and then Daniel Bryan fought back, and then it got very good, very quickly. Bryan was the star here throughout but it was such a joy to see Lesnar at his best. He reminded us all when he really wants it he can be great to watch. This was the best Brock match for a long time, even better than the AJ match from a year ago. Aside from his many accomplishments in 2018 I think being enough of a seemingly worthy opponent for Lesnar (in Brock’s own mind at least it seemed) for him to feel motivated enough to put on a great match, this match maybe Bryan’s biggest accomplishment of 2018!

17. Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (C) V Asuka; Wrestlemania = ****3/4

At the time and first time round I think I was too caught up in how emotionally invested I was in a match between two of my absolute favourites in WWE (male or female) to truly realise how good this match was. Upon a 2nd, 3rd and many more viewings I saw I had witnessed a match just as good as I had hoped. I shouldn’t have been at all surprised really. The in-ring chemistry between these 2 was unreal, everything they did looked seamless, every hold and counter made sense and it resulted in excellence befitting of the build and the hype.

16. NXT North American Championship: Ricochet V Adam Cole (C); NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 = ****3/4

Another match that had pretty high expectations going in, considering the calibre of participants. But it did, 100%. 2 of the most popular guys on the whole show gave the rowdy Brooklyn crowd a spot-fest for the ages. And aside from the obvious high spots the storytelling of the match was really fun; could the cocky and self-assured Cole keep the adventurous and hardworking challenger away from his championship? … Also for those of you who recall HBK’s insane superkick to Shelton Benjamin after he springboard off the ropes, look out for a similarly breathtaking spot in this classic too.

15. NXT Tag Team Championship: ‘Moustache Mountain’ (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) V ‘Undisputed Era’ (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (C); WWE UK Championship Tournament Night 2 = ****3/4

24 hours after these 4 men were involved in another classic they put on one of the finest WWE matches on British soil all year. A Tag Team match for the ages that without spoiling concludes with one of the loudest crowd reactions EVER in WWE. Without one major talking point in the match it was absolutely fantastic from start to finish, hardly a shock given who was in it but this match was simply a joy.

14. ‘Undisputed Era’ (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) V ‘British Strong Style’ (Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate & Trent Seven); WWE UK Championship Tournament Night 1 = ****3/4

As a fan of independent and British wrestling, this match taking place in WWE was a bit of a dream match for me. And it was everything we could have ever wanted. Non-stop, action packed for the entirety of the contest, and of course the crowd in the Royal Albert hall lapped it all up. 6 of the very best in-ring workers in the company putting on a masterclass, and each individual had their chance to shine. Little did we know the next night we’d have an even more amazing moment, but this match was simply excellent.

13. NXT Championship: Tomasso Ciampa V Aleister Black (C); NXT 25th July 2018 = ****3/4

Legitimately this was one of the best matches their has ever been on regular, weekly NXT Television. Ciampa had beaten the number one contender in waiting, and now set his sights on the gold. He kept telling us all that he needed just ‘one moment, one opportunity’ , and so the match was set for Ciampa to challenge the champion, whom up to then was undefeated in singles competition in WWE. You know the rest… This match in-ring was as great as I had hoped, and as always seems to be the case with Ciampa especially, the story told in the match was really good also. Gargano was expected to be involved and he was, but I’m not sure any of us really thought what happened may actually come true. The finish alone led to one of the most unique reactions I’ve seen form a WWE crowd, one of utter horror, as if the bad guy had beaten the good guy in the movie, or something like that.

12. Smackdown Women’s Championship: Asuka V Charlotte Flair V Becky Lynch (C) – TLC Match; TLC = ****3/4

3 really over women, who were allowed to go out there and each look like a badass. And they were. And it was awesome. All the spots you could want in a TLC match, everybody stood out as a star and everyone was absolutely brilliant (which isn’t often the case in multi person ladder matches). This was far from a turning point in women’s wrestling, we are well on that road already, but it was perhaps the first time we were given a PPV main event that was the women that there was no question it was the main event match of the show. And it lived up to all the incredible amount of hype, and then some. Bravo.

11. WWE Championship: AJ Styles V Daniel Bryan (C); TLC = ****3/4

In terms of pure wrestling this was the finest WWE match of the year, which given it was between the two best in-ring performers of their generation it’s not a shock. What was more of a pleasant shock is that they got almost 25 minutes on a PPV and they went out and had a simply incredible match. Great story, back and forth throughout, everything was crisp but stiff-looking and it went 23 minutes that absolutely flew by. Tremendous.

10. Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair V Becky Lynch (C) – Last Woman Standing Match; Evolution= ****3/4

What an absolutely outstanding match. Just had everything fans love; good wrestling, crazy weapon spots, brutality throughout and best of all: the one the fans wanted to win won. Probably the best main roster match of 2018 in many people’s opinion. I certainly wouldn’t argue… too much… maybe…

9. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon V Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey; Wrestlemania 34 = ****3/4

Imagine saying before Wrestlemania a match made up of a guy that hadn’t had a Wrestlemania match in 12 years, the guy who runs the company, a woman in her VERY FIRST MATCH and STEPHANIE MCMAHON would somehow have the best match on a card that included AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura… But the mixed tag match at Wrestlemania was EVERYTHING we wanted it to be, and so much more. Ronda Rousey produced the most breathtaking debut performance in WWE history, we had inter-gender spots in WWE which I thought we may not ever see again, and the crowd and everyone watching thought the match was exceptional for what it was and surpassed all expectations. I lost my voice watching it from screaming so loud, so that’s a sign of how good it was surely?

8. NXT Championship: Tomasso Ciampa (C) V Johnny Gargano – Last Man Standing Match: NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4 = *****

I loved this match at the time but even more so in hindsight. For 2 reasons; the match itself was absolutely chaotic as expected, but also the story told throughout was exquisite if you had followed their rivalry from the start. Not only all the call backs to spots in their first 2 NXT matches, but the over ridding tale of how Gargano’s anger at Ciampa inadvertently gave him the NXT Title, and of course over the course of the match leading right up to the finish it was Gargano’s Spiderman – Venom (the 3rd Toby Maguire movie) inspired attire and social media posts leading up to the event that foreshadowed that it would indeed be Gargano’s own anger towards Ciampa that would cost him his ultimate dream. And on top of all that it’s 2 of the best in the business going at it in yet ANOTHER classic. In recent WWE history this has been by far the best rivalry and series of matches I’ve seen… at least it appeared to be the end of their rivalry…

7. Johnny Gargano V Tomasso Ciampa – Chicago Street Fight: NXT Takeover: Chicago 2 = *****

How do you follow a match between 2 men that was crazy as much as it was excellent and a match of the year contender? Well, with another! Ciampa was out for revenge, he’d taken the animosity between the two men to new levels in the weeks that followed their match in New Orleans, and so a street fight was made. If it was at all possible this match was even more brutal than their previous, the finish is as heartbreaking as it was brilliant. The words ‘classic’ and ‘match’ are mentioned a lot these days, but with these 2 men it’s no shock, and this was no exception.

6. NXT Tag Team Championship: ‘Undisputed Era’ (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) V ‘Moustache Mountain’ (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) (C); NXT TV July 11th = *****

The best tag team match I’ve ever seen in WWE, and aside from 2 notable exceptions from New Japan this year the best tag match I’ve seen period. You will struggle to find a match that better embodied everything a good professional wrestling match should include than this one. Storytelling so good that every twist and turn was so serious and consequential, the crowd at Full Sail whilst split at the start with dueling chants, by middle and conclusion were so desperate and behind the babyface British team. The standard of NXT TV main events in 2018 has been extraordinary, and this was the best one of a very, very good bunch.

5. Johnny Gargano V Aleister Black: NXT Takeover: War Games 2018 = *****

These two managed to quickly establish one of the most personal and intense feuds of the year. 2 of the best feuds, and an array of the better matches of 2018 from both these men, so it should’ve been no surprise their match was exceptional. A striking battle for the ages, intertwined perfectly with storytelling. Sometimes I read my reviews back and am unsure if I accurately portrayed what I saw and thought, but this match a mere hours after it took place I believe I gave it a very appropriate analogy, “A simply stunning professional wrestling match”. Yes indeed it was.

4. NXT Championship: Velveteen Dream V Tomasso Ciampa (C); NXT Takeover: War Games 2018 = *****

You couldn’t find 2 more opposite performers in terms of characters, background, and where their career had taken them up to this point. But somehow the two put on an absolute classic. From the moment Dream came out in Hulk Hogan NWO inspired attire you knew it was going to be special and unique. Coming immediately after another classic in Black vs Gargano was always going to be tough but somehow this match kept the momentum of another amazing Takeover show. Takeover: War Games 2017 Velveteen Dream announced himself to the world, 2018’s edition was his masterpiece performance. And Ciampa? Well, he was normal Ciampa… which is absolutely excellent.

3. NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano V Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (C) with Zelina Vega; NXT Takeover: Philadelphia = *****

In terms of pure in-ring wrestling quality this was without question the best match in WWE I saw in 2018. Just simply 2 great wrestlers going out with a good story going in and putting on a classic. And yes of course we all were desperate to see Gargano win, but we got an incredible match so we were certainly compensated somewhat.

2. NXT North American Championship: EC3 V Killian Dain V Adam Cole V Velveteen Dream V Lars Sullivan V Ricochet – Ladder Match; NXT Takeover: New Orleans = *****

This is the match I show people who don’t know NXT or don’t watch all that much wrestling. I show this because it contains absolutely everything you could want in one match. As a match it was excellent, as a ladder match it was the best I’ve ever seen, as a show OPENER it was probably the best opening match of any show I’ve seen. It set the tone for the best Takeover of all time with about as many spots as you could get in a match. Beforehand I was excited for it, given it’s a ladder match and they’re always fun, it had 6 guys who I like and are all very good and it was to crown a new champion. But I had no idea what it’d be like, it surpassed every expectation anyone could’ve had. WATCH THIS MATCH NOW!

1. Tomasso Ciampa V Johnny Gargano – Unsanctioned Match; NXT Takeover: New Orleans = *****

Renowned wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer said this was one of the best matches in WWE history. He’s not wrong. If you watch this match on it’s own without knowing the backstory it’s excellent. If you watch NXT regularly, have some knowledge of both men’s work pre-WWE and everything they’ve done in WWE since then this was truly an exceptional wrestling match. So many great spots, some incredible storytelling, and in the main event match of NXT’s Wrestlemania this was a true showing of the highest order from 2 of the absolute best. My 2018 WWE Match of the Year. 

Moment of the Year

‘Moments’ are the things that get us all most excited as wrestling fans. People can vaguely recall great matches sure, but nobody will ever forget the more iconic moments from the past. WWE in 2018, it has seemed more than any year, has been fixated on creating more of those memorable moments. And to be fair to them the crowd at PPVs seem to be sat waiting for something big to happen, be it a heel turn (and there has certainly been plenty of those to look back on in 2018), a shock result or anything that will have people talking. So I’ll now countdown the top moments of the year; based upon a surprise factor, how well is was executed and more importantly how excited it made me feel personally as a fan.

Special mentions go to Kairi Sane finally winning the NXT Women’s title from Shayna Baszler at Takeover: Brooklyn 4 (which on my birthday was about as good a pro-wrestling present as I could’ve asked for), Charlotte beating Asuka at Wrestlemania to end her undefeated streak, the thunderous ovations both Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn received when Raw was in Montreal, Ronda Rousey affirming her spot at the top of the company by winning the Raw Women’s Championship at Summerslam, and later her interference in the women’s TLC 3 way that then led to Asuka finally claiming a main roster title, Johnny Gargano’s standing ovation from the NXT crowd in his first appearance at Full Sail after his amazing win over Tomasso Ciampa at Takeover: New Orleans and finally Daniel Bryan turning heel and winning the WWE Championship.

10. Roman FINALLY beats Brock – Summerslam

Of course given what has happened since this moment has taken on so much more of an importance and emotional feel. But at the time despite the audible and very obvious disdain from the majority of the fan-base towards this match and everything to do with it, you can’t deny that the sight of Roman Reigns conquering the Beast Brock Lesnar and claiming the Universal Championship as his own was a pretty cool thing to witness. You can think about a few things to back up why this moment was special, aside from the obvious. It was set up to be the end of the story that should’ve ended at Wrestlemania and one that had been told pretty much since Roman first faced Brock in 2015, It was a moment for Roman the man after all these years of being the top guy and the uncrowned champion, and after he had his moment at Mania taken from him, now he had it and it was his forever. The live crowd quickly turned on it of course, but nonetheless in pro-wrestling as Ric Flair so often said “to be the man, you gotta beat the man” … HBK beat Flair, Taker beat HBK, Lesnar beat Taker, Goldberg beat Lesnar, Lesnar beat Goldberg, and at Summerslam Roman beat Brock. Lets hope and pray now Roman is able to come back and claim back from Lesnar what is rightfully his, and we get a moment even more incredible than Reigns winning the red belt first time around. Believe That!

9. THE SHIELD REUNION – Raw 20th August

24 hours after Reigns won the title, he was defending it in the main event of Raw against Finn Balor. It wasn’t long though before the then Money in the Bank holder Braun Strowman made his presence known, Reigns was though able to overcome the distraction to pin Balor and keep his title. Strowman seized his chance to punt Roman and try to cash in his title opportunity, and with JoJo making the announcement and us all thinking we were going to get a 2nd Universal title change in 24 hours having seen the champion before that hold the belt for over 500 days… then we heard that oh-so-familiar sound of ‘Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta… SHIELD’! The crowd went wild as Seth Rollins and his fellow, recently returned Shield Brother Dean Ambrose came marching down to the ring donning their black vests of old, and Raw ended with the 3 Hounds of Justice delivering the big triple powerbomb to Strowman through the announce table. Unfortunately as we now know this wouldn’t be the start of a long reunion, but as a stand alone moment it was pretty cool to see, anyone who doesn’t think The Shield are cool are liars.

8. Tomasso Ciampa’s Takeover of NXT – NXT 25th July

I’ll be talking a lot more about this guy in different parts of the blog, but the moment when Tomasso Ciampa won the NXT Championship from Aleister Black on a regular weekly edition of the show was pretty incredible. The crowd reacted in utter horror, Gargano (who was at that stage the top babyface) had just inadvertently helped his enemy claim the title he himself wanted so desperately, the title reign of Aleister Black which seemed that it would be one that would perhaps rival the reign of Finn Balor in terms of length was over less than 5 months in, and add to that the incredible commentary of Mauro Ranallo, Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness and you had a fantastic crescendo of pro-wrestling storytelling. As I’ve said you should watch this match back in full, everything surrounding it was NXT at its absolute best.

7. THE DEMON COMETH – Summerslam

Those were the words of Michael Cole on a increasingly rare occasion for him of brilliant commentary. The call perfectly encapsulated a moment that caught us all by surprise, and made us all feel like excited kids again. Some people bemoan the irregularity of Finn Balor appearing in his war paint, some were equally as unhappy that he then only had a less than 2 minute match in his win over Baron Corbin at Summerslam. But all these things are what keep The Demon as a special attraction, and one that will continue to wow us all for many years to come.

6. Rey Mysterio returns – Royal Rumble

You know a moment is special when you can audibly hear the exact moment the entire audience realize what is happening. The countdown clock to the number 27th entrant into the men’s Royal Rumble match hit 0, “who’s next?” wonders Jerry Lawler on commentary, and then the music hits, there is a second pause as reality sets in, and then we all lost our minds. It is very rare in wrestling in 2018 with the height and reach of the internet wrestling media and fandom that anything isn’t known beforehand nowadays. But I’m not sure anyone outside of WWE knew Rey Mysterio was going to be in that match. It was an amazing moment, particularly because Rey was a star across the decades that the large majority of the current audience of wrestling fans will have seen on top at some stage. The 90s, 00s, 10s all saw Mysterio feature prominently at the top of the business, and what a joy it was to see him looking in perhaps life best shape, and moving as well as ever. He’s since enjoyed brief runs in New Japan, an appearance at the big ALL IN event and now he is full time back with the WWE on Smackdown. But it’s a wonder if without that Royal Rumble showing and ovation if he’d be back in the WWE at all now?

5. Paige’s retirement Speech – Raw after Wrestlemania

I made the decision not to include Roman Reigns speech about his illness on this list, because I just couldn’t categorise it in terms of how good a promo it was. But it cannot be a coincidence that two of the best promos of recent times have both been speeches to announce the end of an in-ring career. And Paige certainly made a valiant attempt to follow Daniel Bryan’s masterpiece from a few years back. As she alluded to herself, and I’m included in those that very much knew this was coming, many knew Paige had wrestled her last match before she announced herself that her wrestling career was over. It was only made sadder given that she just missed out on the women’s Royal Rumble match, or the fact that she was retiring far younger than most have to given how young she was when she began wrestling. The crowd more than played their part and showed their appreciation for someone who really was a key, perhaps the key player, of the final transitional period between the divas era and the current incarnation of women in WWE we see today. A true pioneer and one who got spotlight she more than deserves in her role as General Manager of Smackdown and will continue to do so in the upcoming movie about her life.

4. Moustache TOP THE Mountain – WWE UK Championship Night 2

The Royal Albert Hall in London England. England’s own Tyler Bate and Trent Seven. They challenge NXT tag champions Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly of the Undisputed Era to open the second night of the UK tournament show. And to the surprise of absolutely everyone, and to (I’m not kidding) one of the single loudest pops in recent WWE history, they shocked the entire world and won the NXT Tag Team Championship. It was an excellent match. People were crying. It was incredible. Enough said.

3. CHARLOTTE GOES CRAZY – Survivor Series

I wont lie, I screamed along with 2 of my friends SOOOOOO loud when this happened. I didn’t think I’d get over or anything would happen that would make better the disappointment I and everyone else felt that we were denied, via the ineptitude of one Raw female, a match between Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. And whilst Ronda vs Charlotte was turning into an absolutely excellent match (exceptional even given the lack of preparation time they had) it wasn’t Becky Lynch vs Ronda so I was still somewhat sad. And then Charlotte was recovering on the outside of the ring and taking a breather, Ronda goes outside to get her, runs around the ring, and then… well an absolute MADNESS happened. I’m sure you’ve all seen the absolute barrage of kendo stick shots and chair attack Charlotte Flair unleashed on Ronda Rousey but the whole event took us all by such surprise, and I’m almost certain every non-Rousey fan went wild watching it. It really was one of the best post-match beat-downs in recent history mainly because it was so vicious and because it was the top star in the company right now on the receiving end. The crowd cheered the attacker and booed and mocked the victim, but that’s hardly a surprise in 2018 WWE. Crowds love to see any big moments, and this was about as big as you could get, but not quite.

2. THE DEADMAN HAS RISEN – Wrestlemania

The culmination of, in my opinion, a collection of the finest work in the illustrious career of John Cena. He began a campaign to get a spot at Wrestlemania (yes because for one second it was even-imaginable that John Cena would miss out on a Mania spot)… but anyway… After 2 failed attempts to be in the world championship matches on the grandest stage of them all, Cena went route one and decided to call out The Undertaker and try and make one of the biggest dream matches you could’ve made. Of course the story was each week Cena would have a match and do his thing, and then after he’d cut a promo calling out The Undertaker, he wouldn’t answer, and Cena would go in hard on him. And it was great. Cena really put across how much he wanted this match. He acted so well, even down to the look of utter disappointment when they played his music again at Wrestlemania and it appeared Taker wasn’t showing after all. And of course they teased and teased he wasn’t going to show, he always was going to obviously, but they played it really well. And then The Undertaker showed up, and everyone went wild. And it was great. People were made the match went less than 3 minutes but that didn’t bother me personally too much. Start to finish I thought the whole story was excellent, and we got the big moment deep down we all wanted, The Undertaker returning at Wresltemania. Perfect stuff.

1. Fight For Your Dreams – Smackdown 20th March

This moment is absolutely the best WWE moment of 2018 not just because of what it was and how cool it was, but it really transcends professional wrestling when you think about it. This guy was told he had to retire from doing what he loved because his body and his brain couldn’t take it anymore. He worked his ass off ever since doing so many tests and treatments and working on everything he could possibly do. And then he got what he wanted. He got cleared. Seeing the news on social media that Daniel Bryan had been cleared to return to in-ring action in WWE made me so happy I was smiling for basically that whole evening after I saw the news. I watched Smackdown on TV live, Bryan came out to open the show, HUGE pop as you can imagine, I had tears in my eyes, the whole crowd is doing the YES chants, Bryan cuts this absolutely incredible promo (one of the best of the year, maybe the best) and later in the show we got to see him do his moves. Regardless of what has happened with Daniel Bryan since, we had that moment and that night and it was one I’ll never forget. And since then he got to have a match at Wresltemania, he got to do a tag match with his wife, he’s now the WWE Champion, and he got to have his dream match he always wanted and was twice denied in the past (once by injury and once more by bullshit booking) against Brock Lesnar. And it was great. So 2018 has been pretty good for Daniel Bryan, and even above winning the title it was this moment that was the absolute best moment.

Superstar of the Year

If you had asked me to predict this list 12 months ago, or even in June when I did my list at the half way point, it certainly wouldn’t have looked like it does now. I don’t really like to discuss any negatives in this blog, as I see it as a chance to rejoice, recall and celebrate the better things in WWE in 2018, but of course some people who were right up there at various stages of the year have fallen away, whilst others have taken their chance and ran with it (one in particular stands out as a surprise inclusion from this time a year ago). I felt it unfair to include Roman Reigns on this list given how his 2018 ended, but a runner up spot in the Royal Rumble, main eventing Wrestlemania and beating Brock Lesnar clean at Summerslam to begin a 2 month run as Universal Champion. Along with reuniting The Shield and legitimately putting in some of the finest promo and in-ring work of his much maligned at times career so far up until his illness stopped him. It has been a great year also for the top end acts on 205 Live with Buddy Murphy, Cedric Alexander and Smackdown’s Mustafa Ali all putting in some exceptional performances in a long list of good matches that maybe didn’t get the exposure they needed. Hopefully in 2019 all 3 and the division as a whole will continue to grow, flourish and be exposed the a much wider part of the WWE audience. The British Strong Style group made up of Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) and Pete Dunne didn’t appear enough consistently for me to warrant a place in the top 20, but whilst they have been on WWE TV they have been outstanding in terms of character work and in-ring… my oh my some of their matches have been incredible (as you will have seen from my Match Of The Year section). With NXT UK now a thing, more regular appearances on the WWE Network for all 3 can only help their careers go form strength to strength. And finally I must talk about one of the most underutilized members of the WWE roster, Asuka. A very much up and down year for the Empress, she won the Royal Rumble in January, was in a huge Wrestlemania match but lost her undefeated streak, and then she kind of did nothing for about 6 months (which included a diabolical title challenge against then champion Carmella at Money In The Bank). However she did finish the year winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship match at TLC alongside 2 possible Wrestlemania main eventers so perhaps things are looking up once again for Asuka going into 2019.

20. Alexa Bliss

Good at pretty much everything a WWE superstar should be. Outstanding talker, very passable in-ring worker (and dramatically better than she was when she first came to the main roster, unlike the woman she lost to at Wrestlemania). Was the main focus of the Raw Women’s division for most of 2018, only falling to the star-power of Ronda Rousey, which isn’t really something she could’ve done anything about. Everything you want a heel to be, her MITB cash in was excellent, her selling to Ronda has been great, and she’s just continued to get better and better and finds herself as one of the main players of the entire women’s division in the company.

19. Samoa Joe

If Alexa is everything you want a heel woman to be, Samoa Joe is the epitome of a heel male performer in WWE. A monster in the ring and the best on the mic maybe in the company, and whilst his feud with AJ Styles may have been less than satisfactory in places, the matches in-ring were consistently good. And his ‘I’ll be your Daddy’ line to Wendy and Anney Styles at Summerslam was out of this world levels of brilliance.

18. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

He began the year as NXT Champion and had a classic 5 star match with Johnny Gargano, quickly followed by an appearance in the Royal Rumble match. He would lose his title to Aleister Black in another great match not long before he and his ultra-talented associate Zelina Vega made their way up to Smackdown. And whilst he may not have done too much in terms of memorable storylines since his call-up, he has had some great matches with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles and has been protected in most parts from anything that may damage his reputation as a character, so that’s promising for his future prospects for sure. Hopefully 2019 sees EL IDOLO make his way to the main event scene and the WWE Championship picture.

17. Kairi Sane

Not going to lie, but many of my friends know that The Pirate Princess is possibly my favourite WWE superstar. The fact she won the NXT Women’s Championship in what was an excellent match against Shayna Baszler at Takeover: Brooklyn 4 (ON MY BIRTHDAY) was a treat. A great babyface all-round, and at times they have used her lack of English almost to her advantage as her promo style comes across as very genuine and ultra positive/fierce when necessary and her mic work is always effective. Add to that she’s an absolutely amazing wrestler, which helps too. Her rivalry with Baszler over the NXT women’s title has been so great this year, the ultimate heel vs babyface dynamic has been perfect storytelling with both complimenting one another perfectly.

16. Shinsuke Nakamura

3 months into the year and it looked a lock Nakamura would win superstar of the year; he’d won the Royal Rumble match and had his dream Wrestlemania match against AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. But he lost (fine), turned heel (fine) and somehow had an underwhelming feud with Styles (baffling and not fine). Yes he’s been given the US title but he’s really done nothing memorable with that title. I don’t lay the blame with Shinsuke, I just think they don’t know what to do with him. I’m always in the mindset you shouldn’t beat someone after a big turn, as it kills the credibility of the turn. And then they beat him, again, and again and Styles just wouldn’t lose to him. That sealed Nakamura’s fate in terms of ruling him out of the top end of this list. But nonetheless still he’s an amazing performer and has done his best given the hand he’s been dealt.

15. Drew McIntyre (& Dolph Ziggler)

So I debated and asked for a few people’s opinions on if I should include Drew on his own, or in a tag team with Dolph, for his listing. You could say that although Ziggler was the one with the big IC title matches, it was clear (and more so now they’ve just done the split) that McIntyre was the star. I knew that way before he showed up a few weeks after Wrestlemania, but he has shone as bright as you can and is now a mainstay of Raw and the entire WWE. He has EVERYTHING you could want a top guy to be. Awesome promos, good in-ring, got his character on point as a badass and ruthless machine. And he’s cool, which helps. 2019 will clearly be the year he really gets his massive push after a protected push with Ziggler by his side. I’d say it pretty much a lock that Drew is minimum in a world title programme in 2019, and likely to that he becomes the first ever WWE British world champion (how amazing is it we are still waiting on that by the way!).

14. Shayna Baszler

What if I told you the best professional wrestler in the MMA 4 horsewomen wasn’t Ronda??? In between the ropes Shayna has way more experience and it has shown as she has matched Kairi Sane and Toni Storm in matches in 2018. She comes across as real, which as a tough MMA fighter doing a gimmick in which she is… a tough MMA fighter, I guess makes sense. Shayna is an example of how obvious things can be if you give them a chance to be great. It’s her character work in the matches themselves that impresses me the most about Baszler, watch back the finish of the match between her and Kairi Sane from Takeover: Brooklyn 4; she gets the knees up to block Kairi’s elbow drop, she screams (with mouth-guard in, which is a badass visual), puts in the choke-hold, gets rolled over, loses, looks utterly bemused by her own mistake. And then in the aftermath how she kept saying she lost, rather than Sane beat her and it was her mistake and she would make up for it next time. And then she did. Perfect. This is not rocket science people!

13. Daniel Bryan

Has Daniel Bryan had the most bizarre 2018 of anyone in WWE? Let me just list for you all the stuff that’s happened to him this year (I don’t think I need to tell anyone just how good he is at his job, that’s obvious to anyone that watches him, he excels in all areas, and none more so than since his heel turn. He’d be way higher on my list had it not been for his feud with Big Cass and his tad underwhelming feud with The Miz). Anyway… Daniel Bryan’s 2018 went as follows: January – March he is the GM of Smackdown, March 20th on Smackdown he comes out a cuts an incredible promo after the news he had been cleared to return to in-ring action and later in the night has a brawl with Zayn & Owens, Wrestlemania he has a tag team match with Shane McMahon against KO and Sami, he resigns as GM of Smackdown, he is in a feud with Big Cass which was… not good… despite this guy doing absolutely everything someone could do to make the other guy look good, he gets the long awaited feud with The Miz (including a mixed tag match with his wife Brie against Miz & Maryse), he refuses (as he’s a good human being) to work the Crown Jewel show so loses his WWE title shot clean to AJ Styles on the Smackdown prior, then on a later Smackdown he turns heel and beats AJ Styles to win the WWE Championship, and then a few days later he faces the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar in the main event of Survivor Series and the two have one of the most amazing matches of the year, then he finishes 2018 with another match of the year candidate against Styles at TLC! Yeah, 2018 for Bryan Danielson in WWE was wild!!!

12. Charlotte Flair

It’s not unusual that Charlotte Flair had a big year in WWE and featured prominently for pretty much all of 2018 in the Women’s title picture, had it not been for her losing her championship to Carmella and the few months that followed after that where she was on the losing end of her title rematch, unsuccessful in the women’s MITB ladder match and had some time off to heal an injury before Summerslam so was inactive, she could well have been higher on this list. But nonetheless a year that saw her accomplish so much has to be considered a good one. In 2018 alone she put an end the undefeated streak of Asuka at Wrestlemania, had an excellent and long awaited feud with her former best friend Becky Lynch, and then caused absolute chaos in her beatdown of Ronda Rousey after their match at Survivor Series before starring in the TLC triple threat match. It has certainly been another stellar year for the Queen of WWE. Expect 2019 to be the biggest year for her or maybe any other female in WWE history. 

11. Velveteen Dream

Another excellent year for the future of the WWE at aged just 23 years old (a fine age might I add). A mixed bag of Takeover matches in terms of quality, but at every one he was being talked about afterwards as much as anyone else on the card; for either his attire, his character work, and I’d say 3/5 Match of the Year candidates certainly isn’t a bad ratio is it?! He encapsulates everything a modern megastar is and needs to be. He’s this good now, imagine him in the years to come… a beyond belief amount of potential.

10. Ricochet

The One and Only of NXT has proven to be just that in his debut year in WWE. Those of us blessed enough to have witnessed his incredible array of talents before he joined the NXT roster knew of his abilities and what he could do, I don’t think any of us expected him to be given this sort of platform and position to be all he is. Immediately from the minute he got the big superstar entrance at Takeover: New Orleans we were off to the races. Since then an array of great matches against a variety of opponents, so many memories of amazing feats of athleticism from a truly once in a lifetime performer. Expect him to continue to go from strength to strength in NXT in 2019, and perhaps trade-in his current burgundy belt for a gold one with a big X on…

9. Braun Strowman

It was presumed this would be the year Braun became a world champion. And yet on at least 2 maybe 3 occasions it seemed almost certain Braun would get his moment, circumstances (and/or booking that’s… questionable…) has denied him. But Braun remains one of the most sure fire attractions of Raw. It’s no coincidence the show tends to be less exciting when he’s not around causing carnage. In ring he’s as good a near 400 pound monster probably can be, his character and gimmick has some interesting elements for sure, not completely perfect but as WWE’s booking of big men monsters is very often questionable over time, they’ve done perhaps acceptably well with Braun up to now. MAYBE he’ll FINALLY become Universal Champion in 2019. Or… probably not… maybe…

8. Aleister Black

All but one of the former NXT Champion’s Takeover matches this year have been good, great or incredible so that would be enough alone to be considered a good year. But when you consider that Black has more than showed his amazing variety of offensive moves, grown as a character and showed new sides to himself that have only helped his stardom and intrigue grow (he even cracked a smile when he won the NXT Championship in New Orleans). An all-rounder in WWE if ever there was one it is perhaps a surprise that he has stayed in NXT for as long as he has. But he seems destined to finally get his title rematch at the pre-Royal Rumble Takeover event in January so whilst the start of the next year could herald the end of one of the finest NXT run’s anyone has ever had, it could also spark the beginning of (hopefully) a main roster megastar’s run in the making.

7. AJ Styles

Never before has a wrestler’s moniker been more appropriate than ‘The Phenomenal One’ for a man known in his normal life as Allen Neal Jones. It would be easy anyway to put a man on this list who had spent 317/365 days of 2018 as the WWE Champion, but along the way AJ whilst some parts of his title reign underwhelmed some (his feud with Nakamura comes to mind immediately) that’s only down to the incredibly high standard that people expect of Styles as the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime performer he really is. Although 2019 looks as if it will see Styles take a much less regular work schedule that will likely make everyone more grateful when we do get to see him perform. And after all he did have at least 2 match of the year contenders on PPV and countless more good-great TV matches on Smackdown.

6. Ronda Rousey

Surely 2018 has to be considered the greatest rookie year in the history of professional wrestling for the Rowdy One? Yes of course Ronda is no normal newcomer, but the former UFC Champion had without doubt the best match at Wrestlemania this year, is undefeated in her WWE career, and is the current Raw Women’s Champion. She excels in pretty much every area of being a WWE superstar, and yes critics will say her big matches are planned out and practised well in advance, but aren’t everyone’s? Apologies if you see a wrestling match that is choreographed in great detail? What an amazing concept… (hopefully my sarcasm comes through here). What has impressed me most about Rousey in 2018 though is she has somehow managed to have her two personal-best performances against her 2 weakest opponents (in terms of in-ring ability at least) in Stephanie McMahon and later Nia Jax. No doubt Ronda will continue to be one of if not THE biggest star in the company in 2019, and almost as likely is a main event spot at Wrestlemania 35…

5. Seth Rollins

Probably the most consistent in-ring performer on Raw this past year. At one stage it seemed Rollins was a major candidate to top this list, but a somewhat underwhelming feud with former Shield ally Dean Ambrose has cost him a realistic shot at top spot in recent weeks. Nonetheless Seth has no doubt had more good matches in 2018 than anyone else on the main roster, and like Ronda Rousey it’s just as impressive that he has had good matches against… well Mojo Rawley and Elias for example… he’s great at promos, great in the ring, and when he’s in top gear he really is quite the performer. His match that opened Summerslam against Dolph Ziggler sticks out as the perfect showing of everything that he is. Do not be surprised at all if in 2019 Seth Rollins is a champion once again, or if he causes a RUMBLE that leads him to a certain BEAST…

4. Johnny Gargano

This was without doubt the positioning on this list, and probably in this entire blog, that I felt most harsh on. People reading this will say how on earth can someone have 4/5 serious match of the year candidates, countless other good matches, be one of the most endearing babyfaces WWE has seen for some time, then turn into an absolute hated, asshole heel and be awesome in that role too, and only be the fourth best superstar of 2018? Let me point out that 4th is no way a bad ranking, Johnny Gargano could well be number 1 and if anyone said their superstar of 2018 was Mr Wrestling I would not argue too much. An absolutely outstanding wrestler, one of the world’s best for sure. And I couldn’t write in anyway about Johnny Gargano in 2018 and not talk about the ying to his yang. The Ciampa – Gargano trilogy and feud in 2018 will go down in wrestling history as an all-time great rivalry, and the most exciting thing going into the new year? It’s clear to me that the Gargano-Ciampa story is FAR from over just yet!

3. Becky Lynch

Right, OK, BEFORE you all get mad I’m going to say this: Becky Lynch August – end of 2018: Superstar of the Year and it’s not even close. Becky Lynch for the first two thirds of the year; she was good sure, but not superstar of the year calibre. End of. I wasn’t sure we’d see the Daniel Bryan 2014 story repeated again, I didn’t think the fans would demand so much that one WWE superstar be pushed so universally, but slowly but surely the support for Becky grew and grew to the point that before Summerslam everyone felt it was her time. And ever since she hit Charlotte Flair in the face after her former friend won the women’s title, Lynch has gone on to truly become THE MAN! She’s great because she’s always been good but now she’s getting the chance to be the best. And she’s probably the clearest personification of someone grabbing those figurative ‘brass rings’ that Vince McMahon always speaks of that we’ve seen for some time. As we head towards the Royal Rumble (the same event that YES-o-Mania reached fever pitch, to the point that the volume of the fan revolt against the fact that their favourite wasn’t even in the match itself, and again a year later when they fiercely rejected the match’s winner, not just because they didn’t like the winner, but a lot because it wasn’t the winner they wanted in Daniel Bryan). The point I’m trying to make is that it seems the fan support towards Lynch has seemingly forced WWE’s hand to the point where we are faced with this; say Becky isn’t in or doesn’t win the Women’s Royal Rumble match then I really could see whoever is the winner being booed on the levels that Batista and Roman Reigns suffered in the past. Be very very careful WWE, because if you don’t let Lynch-o-Mania run wild and have her win the Women’s Royal Rumble Match, then be prepared for the crowd in Phoenix to make it perfectly clear what they think of your alternative winner of choice. You have been warned.

2. Undisputed Era

I just couldn’t separate these 4 guys and rank them individually. They’re so aligned with one another and they’re all individually so incredible at their jobs. Adam Cole is one of the most talented all-rounders in the company on his own, Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly together have formed one of the best tag teams in NXT history (2 amazing wrestlers as a team are hardly shocking choice to give that moniker too) and Bobby Fish has returned from injury and showed us all that’s he’s just as talented as his stablemates with some great mic work and in-ring beatdowns of the likes of EC3 and his key role in the War Games match. The Undisputed Era are one of the best stables in WWE history. Just watch one of their backstage group promo segments they regularly do on NXT TV when they’re equally as cool as they are asshole cocky heels. These 4 guys are GREAT. Simple as. Adam Cole recently said that the Undisputed Era would be draped in gold in 2019… fingers crossed.

1. Tomasso Ciampa

The current NXT Champion has had an absolutely unbelievable year. January he made his long anticipated return to once again attack his former tag team partner Johnny Gargano, he went on to have a near-perfect trilogy of amazing matches with his one-time best friend, before shockingly winning the NXT Championship from Aleister Black and going on to defend it in another classic against the Velveteen Dream. All along the way cutting amazing promo after amazing promo, displaying the most awesome heel characteristics and mannerisms as he goes, and just doing everything he can to be the most despicable bastard a pro wrestler could possibly be. Just listen to the reception he got as he made his way to the ring for his main event match against Gargano in New Orleans. I should also mention that match was his first after a month short of a YEAR out with injury! He’s great-exceptional at everything. I find no faults in Tomasso Ciampa as a WWE superstar. And his entrance music is awesome. In my blog I did to summarise the first half of the year I wrote the following on Tomasso Ciampa: “If he is as good for the next 6 months as he has been during the last month or so of NXT then he wont just be in the top 10, he’ll be number ONE!” … Well, I guess he proved me right!

So there you have it boys and girls; my WWE superstar of the year for 2018 is Tomasso Ciampa.

In Summary

So yes I think that sums up the better parts of WWE in 2018. You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned anything of the more negative parts of the year (Saudi Arabia, Enzo Amore, Big Cass all come to mind). I made a conscious choice before writing this blog that I wanted it to be a celebration of the good in WWE, because as much as we all slag off Raw each week and other questionable decisions the company makes we can’t say they don’t give us an awful lot of great stuff too!!!

So let’s now look to the year ahead. As we go into 2019 we could see women main event Wrestlemania. We could see The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels retire, again. We could even see John Cena become champion of the world for a 17th time. But I see it as a year even more new stars will be made. 5 immediately come to mind: Matt Riddle, Kacy Cantanzaro, Mustafa Ali, WALTER and Io Shirai. I wont say too much about them, I’ll let you discover them yourselves. Just look out for those names to do big things in 2019.

Finally I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this or any of my other blogs in 2018. As much as I enjoy making them it is at times a chore, so I can’t say for definite I’ll continue them for the entirety of 2019, I’ll perhaps focus on PPV reviews more than previews as they seem for me better blogs. But who knows, having a full time job can sometimes get in the way of writing about WWE… So here’s to 2019 and another weird and wonderful year of WWE!

Josh.

PS. 9964 WORDS. DON’T @ ME 🙂 

TLC 2018 Review

I didn’t see the pre show but I’m reliably informed that Buddy Murphy retained the Cruserweight title against Cedric Alexander, and Elias beat Lashley (but Lashley beat him up with the Guitar afterwards). Remember when Lashley was coming in and his rumoured first program was going to be Brock Lesnar? And when he bear Roman clean on PPV, only to lose a BS contenders match to him on Raw 2 weeks later? And how there was real talk of Lashley being in some form of match for the Universal Championship at Summerslam? Talk about a fall from grace… Oh and also apparently Daniel Bryan cut an awesome promo.

ANYWAY the main show began with Becky starting the voiceover for a pretty good video package to hype up the show. I’d presume this mean’s the women are main eventing which is good.

Carmella and R Truth defeated Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal with The Singh Brothers to win the Mixed Match Challenge Final (as well as all expenses paid for vacation and the number 30 spot in their respective Royal Rumble Matches)

Truth got a decent pop when he came out. My thought on this opening the show was I guess it’s bets to get it out the way, but when you think for example they had Rollins v Ziggler in an excellent match open Summerslam, and Daniel Bryan open Money in the Bank… the match was exactly what was expected. Truth was the best by far in-ring, they had a Dance break about a minute in as both Singhs joined in before R Truth threw them out the ring. I noted that Renee spoke about Alicia Fox’s “veteran status” which I guess given her tenure in the WWE is kind of true, but she still remains one of the lesser able female workers on the roster… just saying… Fox did have a funny spot with R Truth until Carmella came in with a kick for a nearfall broke up by Jinder. Everyone else found their way somehow to the outside, and then out of seemingly nowhere Carmella had the Code of Silence submission on Alicia Fox and with the tamest tap I’ve seen she submitted. After the match in their interview in the ring with Kayla, Truth said he’d already booked their holiday… to WWE’s Headquarters in Connecticut… (I guess we will get some fun segments on Smackdown). This was exactly as expected and about as good as most stuff on the MMC has been, which isn’t very. Crowd was flat.

*1/2

They played an advert for the Royal Rumble PPV. This made me smile because the Rumble is the best.

‘The Bar’ defeated ‘The New Day’ and ‘The Usos’ to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

David Otunga is replacing an ill Byron Saxton for the night. Oh joy… the wrestling from all 6 men involved was good throughout (hardly a shock), and fun to see Xavier Woods (the lesser used of the 3) represent the New Day in this match. Otunga said he knew The Usos dad, to which Tom Phillips said that he mentions it every time he is on commentary. This made me laugh. The Bar isolated Woods from getting a tag as Woods sold really well. Jimmy Uso eventually got a blind tag and performed a crossbody on Kofi from the top as Cesaro held him up in a vertical suplex position in a cool spot. Jey Uso not long after hit everyone with superkicks, then Usos did a spot that ended with a Samoan Drop that got a nearfall on Kingston. There was then an Uso splash on Kofi but before the splash Cesaro had tagged himself in, so he launched the Uso into the ringpost and went for the pin himself but this was kicked out of. Cesaro then punished Kingston with the Cesaro Swing followed by a Sharpshooter, but as Big E played cheerleader Xavier Woods came in and hit a DDT on Cesaro, then followed a series of inter-team interactions and sequences that concluded with Kingston diving to the outside to take out a member of the other 2 teams. This left Woods and Sheamus in the ring, Woods was on the outside of the apron but was momentatirly distracted by Cesaro who ate a kick for his troubles, Woods made his way into the ring but immediately was hit with a Brogue Kick and Sheamus got the 1,2,3. The Bar retain. In-ring this was really good as expected, notable that The Usos were not pinned and were kept out the match for the majority of it (as was noted on commentary). So that would lead me to think The Usos will be the next feud for the champions, which I’d be absolutely fine with.

***

They played an advert for Vince McMahon being on Raw this week.

They replayed the attack suffered by Braun Strowman by the heels of Raw from a few weeks back. Heath Slater was shown in ring as the referee as Jojo announced the permutations of the next match.

Braun Strowman defeated Baron Corbin (in what was apparently a TLC Match)

Corbin came out to light boos. During the pre-show he had Jojo in his office practicing her announcing of him as the winner and permanent Raw GM (so he’s losing then). Cole really went in on Corbin on commentary, Renee concurred, Corey Graves defended Corbin. Baron cut a promo that basically told everyone it was too bad they didn’t like him as GM and that they should get used to it (he’s losing this match if you hadn’t guessed by now). The bell rung, Slater began the count, he got to 7 and Strowman’s music hit as the crowd suddenly woke up. Braun came out with his arm in a sling, and cut his promo to loud ‘Get These Hands’ chants, he told Corbin that a TLC match means No DQ and therefore if someone wanted to help him they could. One by one Apollo Crews, Gable and Rood and Finn Balor appeared at different sides of the ring carrying Steel Chairs, Slater took of his ref’s shirt and striked Corbin to a big pop. And the babyfaces all got in the ring and hit Corbin with their chairs one after the other. Corbin rolled to the outside and went to leave up the ramp, only for Kurt Angle to come out to a big pop, he backed Corbin back towards the ring as he attacked him with a chair. With Baron back in the ring the babyfaces each hit a move on him, including Angle with an Angle slam, and then Braun came in and put his foot over Corbin as Slater counted the pin. So it appears the Corbin era is over, and it’s Braun v Brock at the rumble. This wasn’t any form of match, but I think everyone knew that going in that it would be exactly this. It must though be the very first TLC match in history to have no involvement of Ladders or Tables.

N/A

Natalya defeated Ruby Riott with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan in a Tables Match

The Riott Squad carried out the table with Jim Neidhart on and stacked it up so that the picture of Jim was facing the ring. Liv Morgan was on the apron and took a spear from Natalya after Ruby moved, she took an almighty bump through a table to take her out. Not long after Natalya powerslammed Sarah Logan through a table too. Ruby and Nattie both talked trash throughout, they both teased table spots, Natalya bought form under the ring a table with Ruby Riott on. She also put on her Dad’s jacket. Finish came when after Ruby had teased putting Natalya through the table with Ruby on (after a Riott Kick whilst Natalya was on the top rope), Natalya was able to hold on to Riott after she went to Hurracinrana her through the table set up below. Natalya though lifted Ruby up and Powerbombed her through the table that was set up below. The Riott Squad were completely buried hereto the point I think Natalya might face Rousey (presuming she beats Jax) at some point soon. But I guess they had to have the bullies get their comeuppance. Natalya held up the half broken table with the picture of Ruby Riott on up to celebrate with it as a trophy. This match wasn’t the longest but still felt like it dragged, that is what you’ll get at the end of a terribly bad feud.

**1/2

Lars Sullivan video package. This made me happy.

Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre

This was a solid match throughout between 2 very good wrestlers. McIntyre started off overpowering and punishing Finn for the majority of the early stages, Finn’s chest was red from the chops he suffered. Finn would occasionally mount offense and wherever he did it looked crisp. Highlights being a really good looking spinning DDT by Finn, and Finn using the ring apron to trap Drew allowing him to ;and a series of strikes. With both men on the outside Drew hit a ferocious headbutt and then did the 2sweet hand gesture to get the crowd worked up. McIntyre then put Balor back in the ring as the crowd cheered as Dolph Ziggler came into show and Superkicked his former tag team partner whilst the ref was tending to Finn. Ziggler grabbed a chair but had it kicked into his own face by Drew. Drew threw Dolph into the ring and took the chair as well, only for Finn to kick it back into McIntyre’s face. Finn then went up top for the Coupe de Grace for the win. I was totally surprised at this result and I don’t really know what it means for both men going forward. Anyway it was good in-ring stuff throughout, Drew played the bully heel really well combining brutal attacks with good trash talk, and Balor played the babyface in peril well. Fun to watch and perfectly acceptable for where it was on the card. I think this may have been one of Drew’s first singles PPV matches since his return, and I also can’t recall other than Summerslam Finn winning on PPV in 2018. So both of those in mind with this result are notable for sure. I don’t think either guys trajectory will change mind (Drew as a top guy, Finn as a… guy…)

***1/2

Rey Mysterio defeated Randy Orton in a Chairs Match

There were chairs absolutely everywhere at ringside. This was a fun match that was pretty even throughout, but with Orton slowing the pace down emphasizing his sadistic nature and thought process of how he could use the chairs to punish Mysterio, although I even heard Vince was unhappy at the slow pace in this one. Which for Vince to be upset with 2 top top guys is a shock. Some inventive spots included Rey using a chair as surfboard to slide out the ring and onto Orton who was laying on the floor below, Rey running off the apron hoping to hit Orton (who was sat on a chair) with a senton but Orton moved and Rey went flying into the chair, and the finish which I think we were meant to think Orton would RKO Mysetrio onto 4 chairs that Randy had set up next to another in a line in the ring, and he did tease it but Mysterio countered into placing Orton sat on one of the chairs, before Rey took a run up on the chairs and rolled Orton over with a hurricanrana into a Victory Roll for the pinfall and the win. Orton was pissed after the loss. The match overall was fine, slow paced in parts but as I said that was purposeful to show Orton’s persona.

**

Finn was interviewed backstage until it was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler who wanted thanks for the assist in Balor’s win over McIntyre. Dolph threw Finn into some nearby storage boxes, I’d presume the two will have a match on Raw.

Another advert for Vince being on Raw. This is going to be something big surely.

Ronda Rousey retained the Raw Women’s Championship against Nia Jax with Tamina

THANK GOD! To be fair this was a fine match between giant monster heel and valiant but tough babyface, Ronda looked fine and did her best. Nia was Nia. Ronda did a step up knee and a step up punch at one stage that looked great, crowd popped big for a Ronda powerbomb off the middle rope on Jax that got a nearfall. Finish came when Nia teased her big punch, but Rousey blocked it and flipped her over to put her in position for the Armbar, she then looked at Tamina and said “this is for you” before kissing Nia’s fist and locking in the submission for the immediate win. Jax was led away by Tamina as a delighted looking Ronda Rousey celebrated. This was very clearly practiced a lot and it was fine, but I’ve little to no interest in Nia Jax matches as she infuriates me how bad she is at her job sometimes. Ronda Rousey did her best and looked fine given her opponent. 2 1/2 of these stars are for Ronda.

**3/4

Nia is seen backstage selling her arm. She’s confronted by Becky Lynch who unsurprisingly gets a huge pop. Becky asks Nia “remember when you broke my face?” before attacking her and sending her to the ground. Tamina then came to see if she was ok. This was great.

Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship

Bryan didn’t Yes chant once during his entrance. He was also announced as “the new Daniel Bryan”. This makes me happy, it’s the smaller details I appreciate. This match was absolutely fantastic. Crisp wrestling, brutal looking striking, simply excellent stuff from both men. I struggled to make notes I was just so in awe of seeing the 2 best in-ring workers in WWE of this era go absolutely all out. The story was eventually Bryan’s bad leg vs AJ’s bad ribs, it seemed a game of chess inside the ring as at different points either man had a counter for what the other was going to do (you’d think they rehearse these sort of things and go over them beforehand or something…). Bryan played up to the chicken-shit heel he’s become but also maintained his vicious nature. AJ meanwhile was equally calculated but wanted to take out his frustration. There was a couple of times AJ went to fly down to attack Bryan, and Bryan just kicked AJ in the ribs in mid air, it looked great. It was good throughout but towards the end it was exceptional. I also liked the continuity shown with AJ targeting Bryan’s leg (he chopped blocked it at one stage) and so when Bryan stomped AJ in the corner he couldn’t do it as hard as normal as his leg was hurt. AJ would later follow up with a half Boston Crab to the injured leg, Bryan would though roll through eventually into his Lebell lock submission (formerly the Yes lock) and even added in some elbow strikes to allow him to lock it in deeper. After this AJ was able to roll Bryan over for a nearfall and Bryan would roll over for one of his own, they then exchanged kicks each to send them both down. Eventually Bryan would go for his running knee strike but AJ hit him with a dropkick that looked great, he then headed to the apron and hit a springboard 450 splash despite his injured ribs that he sold, and with both men hurt Aj got a nearfall. A tired Bryan charged AJ into the corner but would eventually fall into a Calf Crusher (again going at Bryan’s injured leg), after coming very close seemingly to tapping Bryan was able to roll the both of them over so he could reach the ropes to break the hold. Bryan would be rolled in the ring by Styles but he just rolled out the other side, and as Aj went after him Daniel Bryan kicked him in the chest and sent him into the timekeepers area, before Styles came flying back with a Phenomenal Forearm off the barrier. He then sent Bryan back into the ring and went for a Phenomenal Forearm again, but as he came down Bryan moved out the way and Styles had to stop himself from flying into the referee. Styles turned around and Bryan went for the Running Knee but this time it was Styles he moved out the way. He then surprised Bryan with an inside cradle, but Daniel Bryan turned that over into a cradle of his own for the 3 count. Daniel Bryan retained as Styles looked at him celebrate with the belt at the top of the ramp, AJ was in disbelief. This was an absolutely excellent match and a late challenger to be on my top 20 WWE matches of 2018 list. Unlike a WWE match in a good way.

****3/4

Ronda and Natalya were backstage celebrating their wins tonight. Charly Caruso came up wanting to speak to Rousey and Natalya left. She was asked about Charlotte Flair and Ronda replied saying ‘Payback’s a bitch, and I’m the baddest woman on the planet’ … OH MY WORD IT’S HAPPENING GUYS!!!

Another Royal Rumble PPV ad.

Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins to win the Intercontinental Championship

Fine match but it went too long. Crowd were bored in parts in the middle (even gave them the “this is boring” chants) I think they all just wanted to see the main event at this stage. Both men were stiff throughout, they told a good story though and got across how personal it all was. They told the story that Rollins had a bad knee in the middle part too which they sold well. Commentary and the whole thing with Renee being the more babyface commentator but of course being married to the heel in this story made it a bit confusing and for parts of the match early on it kind of took away from the action they were discussing it so much. The match changed towards the end when Seth went to finish Dean but Ambrose put out his fist wanting to do the Shield fist bump, the crowd reacted to this and seemed interested for the later part. Rollins thought about it but then attacked Dean with a much more satanic look on his face than normal. Eventually with both men on the outside Rollins did the bucklebomb to the barricade spot on Dean (the one that injured Finn Balor at Summerslam 2016), Rollins got Ambrose back in the ring and after a verbal tirade that sounded very personal Seth went for the Curb Stomp but Dean hit him with the Dirty Deeds and DEAN AMBROSE IS THE NEW INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION. Crowd were flat at this point, but not boredom more they were in shock the heel had won. As I said fine match but went too long and that stopped it being great, cut out the middle bit and it was great. Rollins looked visibly upset at the result. Maybe this sets Rollins up to be free to win the rumble? This was like a normal match, not a grudge match and yes they were in a tough spot, but it underwhelmed massively.

**1/2

Asuka defeated Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a TLC match to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship

All 3 were super over from start to finish. All 3 looked badass throughout. all 3 got their moments to reek havoc. SOOOOOOOOOOOO much stuff happened in this match it was impossible to write about it all. Becky set up a ladder and put Charlotte through the announce table with a leg drop just after Asuka had moved out the way. Charlotte dove from the top and put Becky through a table on the outside. Charlotte speared Asuka through the barricade near the timekeepers area. I can only apologize because this is a terrible review of what was an exceptionally well done match but I’m very very excited right now… ok so the finish… Charlotte was in the ring climbing a ladder, Asuka came back and climbed up to her and the two brawled (Flair even touched the title belt), Becky set up a ladder next to them and once Asuka was down Charlotte lent over to brawl with Lynch on her ladder, THEN RONDA ROUSEY CAME OUT AND PUSHED THE LADDER WITH FLAIR AND LYNCH ON AND THEN SHE LEFT. WITH THEM BOTH DOWN ASUKA CLIMBED UP THE ORIGINAL LADDER AND ASUKA GRABBED THE TITLE!!!!!!! ASUKA IS THE NEW SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION. THAT’S A GRETA THING BUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF RONDA BASICALLY CONFIRMS WE ARE GETTING SOME FORM OF RONDA/BECKY/CHARLOTTE MATCH AT WRESTLEMANIA SURELY!? WOW OH WOW. Somehow Asuka got a massive pop taking everyone’s favourite Becky Lynch’s title.

****3/4

An OK show, with an amazing main event and finish. And I always say shows are remembered for their main events, so maybe people will remember this show for better than it actually was. It was an average show with a great great main event.

Josh.

TLC 2018: Preview & Predictions

The thing with this show is this; when it was first being built to the first few matches announced were amazing and proper PPV worthy, massive contests. The women’s 3 way TLC is a proper dream match, but there’s at least half of the matches on this card that you wouldn’t be surprised if they were on any random episode of Raw or Smackdown. Any time that’s the case it just reminds me of the dark days of some of those Smackdown only PPV shows from 2016-17 ish. They just came across at times as a more wrestling version of the weekly TV show rather than a big event. And yes admittedly some of these matches have a lot riding on them, but there’s only honestly the women’s 3 way that I’d go out of my way to watch. But who knows perhaps the lack of expectation will help the show over-achieve. We shall see…

Cruserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander V Buddy Murphy (C) 

This will be a good match for sure. 2 great wrestlers, and it’ll be as good as time it gets. Hopefully it’s on the main show but I’m doubtful. Hopefully the crowd are into it from the start but again I’m skeptical. I’m not quite sure why they did the Ali match at Survivor Series and not do Cedric’s rematch until around 2 months after he initially lost the belt in Australia. Perhaps they wanted the match with Mustafa Ali to be on a big show like Survivor Series as opposed to a title match we had seen before. And to be fair it was on the main show and it was great. I can only see this match being good. I’m not sure who is the guy to dethrone Murphy is, but I still don’t think you should end his title run anytime soon. Maybe this is Cedric’s last hurrah before he goes heel, that’d be tremendous.

Prediction: Murphy retains 

Natalya V Ruby Riott – Tables Match

Case and point in my theory that this is just a jumped-up version of Raw/Smackdown is this one. I don’t know in whose world this is a PPV worthy match, even with the Tables Match stipulation. And as much as they’ve tried their best to make us all think this is a really personal and deep rivalry I just haven’t felt as enthralled by that aspect of it as I think they’re intending for people to do. I’m sure it’ll be fine in-ring, not very long though I hope. I honestly couldn’t call the winner of this one with any certainty, I’d say the result will depend on where it falls on the card but not that WWE ever think of that type of logic.

UPDATE: Ruby said she’d put Nattie through a table and bought one out with Jim Neidhart on the front. Natalya in her promo referred to the Montreal Screwjob and Bret punching Vince in the mouth being an obstacle for her she had to overcome to get to where she is in WWE.

The Montreal Screwjob was in 1997. Bret Hart was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Natalya signed her WWE contract in 2007 (TEN YEARS after the Screwjob). Bret Hart beat Vince at Wrestlemania in 2010 and The Hart Family beat on him and stood tall afterwards. Natalya (from all accounts a very intelligent woman so I’m presuming she was fed this dialogue to say) was on Monday trying to convince us all something that happened TWENTY ONE YEARS AGO is a factor in her progress in her WWE career.

Fuck off with your bullshit please. Worst feud in 2018 (and that’s saying something).

Prediction: IDK… IDC… 

Jinder Mahal with The Singh Brothers & Alicia Fox V R Truth & Carmella – Mixed Match Challenge Final (The winning team will be the number 30 entrants in the Royal Rumble Matches) 

Yes you did read that correctly, JINDER MAHAL AND ALICIA FUCKING FOX ARE A TAG TEAM FOR A MATCH ON A PPV WHERE THE WINNERS WILL BE THE NUMBER 30 ENTRANTS IN THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH… Truth and Carmella should win and I dear god hope they will, but with this company at the minute I don’t know what they’re going to do next. That can be a great thing at times, given the WWE’s recent main roster track record I’m very much programmed to expect them to book pretty much everything terribly.

Prediction: Truth and Carmella win… or else… I don’t even know what I’ll do…

Elias V Bobby Lashley (with Lio Rush) – Ladder Match

Another TV match that’s on a PPV. I cared a SMALL amount before, then they made it a FUCKING LADDER MATCH AND A FUCKING GUITAR IS HANGING ABOVE THE RING. I’M SO DONE.

Prediction: IDC anymore 

Randy Orton V Rey Mysterio – Chairs Match 

FUCK OFF with your stupid Chairs match (I don’t even care if they’ve been utilizing chairs throughout the feud). FUCK OFF with the 10 billion-th match to have been announced for this show (I don’t even care it’s between 2 of the finest workers we’ve had in WWE in the modern era for their styles).

Prediction: Orton doesn’t lose nowadays so I’ll say him I guess 

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘The New Day’ V ‘The Usos’ (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) V ‘The Bar’ (Sheamus & Cesaro) (C) 

This is also arguably a TV match that’s on a PPV, but given the vast in-ring abilities of all those involved and the 3 way aspect I’ll give it a pass. Admittedly they have wrestled some form of these 3 teams a huge amount of times, but I can’t remember the last less than good Usos vs New Day match, and Cesaro and to a slightly lesser extent Sheamus more often than not have good matches. This is a tough one to call, they’re clearly trying to make The New Day go down as one of the most decorated tag teams so I’d never be shocked to see them hold titles again, The Usos might be the best true tag team in the company and shine always given any form of spotlight. And The Bar are great heel champions, so any of these 3 teams as the Smackdown Tag Champions would be totally fine.

Prediction: The Bar to retain 

Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose V Seth Rollins (C)

Of course this match will be good. The build up for a few reasons has been questionable, morally I’m uncomfortable with how much they’ve used Roman and his illness, some of Dean’s promos and segments have had questionable content, and for some reason it just doesn’t feel as personal as it did just after the turn. But as I said I’ve no doubt this will be a great match. I see Dean winning, mainly because I see Rollins doing awfully well in the Rumble (particularly after he was presented as the star of the show and the savior of the locker room on the Raw go-home show), maybe even winning it.

PS: STOP MENTIONING ROMAN REIGNS PLEASE. IT’S JUST NOT NECESSARY.

Prediction: Dean Ambrose wins the Intercontinental Championship 

Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax (with Tamina) V Ronda Rousey (C) 

I refuse to talk at any length about any Nia Jax match because she’s intolerably bad at her job.

Prediction: Ronda Retains… obviously

Finn Balor V Drew McIntyre 

If this match was anyone else but Drew and Finn I’d again be moaning that it’s just a TV match shoved on a PPV. It’s Finn Balor vs Drew McIntyre though, so I’m less annoyed. Although it means much less now than it maybe could’ve done, given for some bizarre reason they had Ziggler beat Drew on Raw the other week. Had you had Drew still unbeaten since he arrived on the red brand you could’ve told such a more captivating story in the match of how the heroic Balor was looking to conquer to undefeated Scottish behemoth. But no, we can’t have nice storylines in main roster WWE and definitely not on Raw. Finn could do wonders off the back of a big win like this I’m sure, boy does he need it, but you shouldn’t have anyone outside of maybe Rollins or Strowman or obviously Lesnar beat Drew in a big match. So Finn’s big moment will have to wait… again…

Prediction: Drew wins 

WWE Championship: AJ Styles V Daniel Bryan (C) 

Great match for sure. Daniel Bryan has been doing some of the finest work of his entire career with his recent heel, pro-vegan character. It’s all the smaller things he has done since the initial turn that altogether have just been sensational to watch. And AJ is AJ so this match should be a slam dunk in terms of being a great one. I fear though that the placement of this match on the card might hamper it in terms of crowd reaction. It’s a very sad state of affairs that a WWE Championship match between the 2 best in-ring performers of this generation to have appeared in the company could be half way down the card of a PPV. But it it what it is, and I’ve no doubt even a tired and worn out crowd will be hyped up to see Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles. Regarding the result it seems to me very obvious that Bryan will retain as I don;t think they’d have changed him so dramatically only for him to lose the title so soon. As for the long term plans I see both men featuring prominently with the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania in mind, but I think their paths will go in different directions after this match. Exciting times ahead for both win or lose I think.

Prediction: Bryan retains 

Baron Corbin V Braun Strowman – Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match (If Strowman wins Corbin will no longer be GM of Raw and Strowman will face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. If Corbin wins he will become the full-time GM of Raw). 

This whole match (given Braun’s recent elbow surgery) seems to hinge on the idea that Corbin will go to the ring, perhaps cut a promo, and the ref will ring the bell and begin a 10 count. Then either Braun or a replacement (I’d presume Braun given how much is riding on the match it’d be tricky to figure stuff out if he couldn’t do the match) comes down and wins. So I see the ref get to the later half of his count, Braun comes out, running powerslam, 123 and Braun gets his win. That way Braun gets the win they need him to get to build to the Lesnar match, and they can do whatever they have planned for the Corbin GM role etc. If Braun isn’t even cleared to do one move given he had surgery just a few weeks ago, then a replacement seems the way to go (how they’d book the replacement maybe winning for Braun remains to be seen). Potential replacements could be maybe Bray Wyatt, or perhaps Kurt Angle (who would make a lot of sense logistically if he came-back and won, given his recent past with Corbin). But we will see, don’t expect this match regardless of who Corbin faces to go long. What they have planned for Corbin’s GM role going forward I’ve no idea.

Prediction: Corbin loses… PLEASE!!! 

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Asuka V Charlotte V Becky Lynch (C) – Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match 

Ladies PLEASE I FUCKING BEG put on a classic. This match is now THE only reason I plan on reviewing this show. 3 of the best workers and all-round performers in the company (male or female) altogether in a match that absolutely has to close the show else I’m so done. Result wise I think you have to base this on what you (in this case I) think will happen going forward and onto the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania… I PERSONALLY see Becky dropping the title here particularly in this match (given it’s a TLC Match she wouldn’t need to be pinned or to tap out, and in nay rematch she could get rolled up or not get the title by some means that wouldn’t weaken her in anyway). I’ve gone with Charlotte to win because I see her as their female default (not that that would be a bad choice because she’s absolutely excellent at being a pro-wrestling megastar). Therefore I see going forward Charlotte and Ronda being the 2 women’s champions, Becky winning the Royal Rumble match, somewhere in between in some way Ronda beating Charlotte, Becky V Ronda at Mania. That’s my theory anyway. Could be totally wrong, perhaps they have Asuka win here which I’d also applaud greatly, who knows? …

Prediction: Charlotte wins the title 

If the women’s 3 way is anything but good, this show could be terrible. PLEASE WWE pull it out the bag. I’m not sure how much more of this bullshit I can take, since Survivor Series good god it’s been awful particularly on Raw. Smackdown has been fine, but Raw… my oh my… TLC needs to be good else this terrible creative on Raw is going to start infecting the build to the next PPV, which just so happens to be the Royal Rumble, which is going to be one of the biggest shows of the year in terms of determining the long term plans for the company. So no pressure.

Josh.