WWE week in review – April 27 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then FINALLY the main show began:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

Wrestlemania 34 Preview & Predictions

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

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

Cruserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali

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

Prediction: Cedric Alexander.

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

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

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

Prediction: Lars Sullivan (PLEASE).

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

The Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal

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

Prediction: Ember Moon (hopefully).

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

AND NOW THE WRESTLEMANIA MAIN CARD!!!

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

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

Prediction: Braun and his partner win the titles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Alexa Bliss retains. Just.

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

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon V Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

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

Prediction: Daniel Bryan gets a submission win.

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

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

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

Prediction: The Miz

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

WWE Championship: AJ Styles ( C ) V Shinsuke Nakamura

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

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

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

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

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

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

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

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle V Stephanie McMahon & Triple H

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

Prediction: Ronda makes Stephanie tap

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

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

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

Prediction: Asuka

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

John Cena V The Undertaker… maybe… ???

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

Prediction: The Undertaker

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

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

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

Prediction: Roman Reigns

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

Josh… and Dan.

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

Smackdown Wrestlemania go-home show Review: 3/4/18

So this week, like with my review of Raw, I will be formatting my Smackdown review a little different. It’ll all be about the matches that are taking place from the blue brand a little show this Sunday… with that in mind here’s what happened on the Smackdown go-home show for WRESTLEMANIA!!!

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) V Shinsuke Nakamura

What happened on Smackdown? :

They showed separate pre-recorded interviews during the show with both Styles and then Nakamura. In his, AJ accused Nakamura of being emotional as to why he’s playing mind games, but that his emotions are not his weakness but his strength. AJ went on to say Shinsuke was taking him too lightly and they’re ‘a long way from the Tokyo Dome’ (arching back to their previous match in New Japan, which I reviewed in a blog earlier this week if you’re interested).

In Nakamura’s interview later in the show, he admitted to trying to play mind games. He said he came to America for Wrestlemania, and said “I do not take AJ Styles lightly, I know AJ Styles very well… and I know AJ Styles is very emotional. So emotional, he will make a mistake. When he does, I become WWE Champion with a knee to face”.

The main event of the show was AJ & Nakamura teaming up to face Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable. Match was great, but the story here was obviously the dynamic between the two Wrestlemania opponents. At one point Styles offered to be tagged in by Shinsuke and although he obliged he did so simply by patting him on the head. This made AJ get in Nakamura’s face as the crowd lost their mind, but any potential brawl was halted as Gable and Benjamin attacked them. The match was really good, 4 supremely talented guys going all out. The finish came when AJ stared Nakamura down before hitting Chad Gable with the Phenomenal Forearm to give them the win. Great match.

Afterwards AJ got hold of the WWE title and walked up the ramp. As this happened Shelton Benjamin attacked Nakamura from behind, but with AJ watching on Nakamura was though able to fight him off. As this was happening AJ went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but he stopped just before he hit Shinsuke (just as Shinsuke did to AJ last week when he stopped just before hitting him with the Kinshasa). Nakamura then looked up and just grinned, but as Styles patted him on the head he quickly looked annoyed as AJ help up the title belt as Smackdown closed.

CAN WE JUST HAVE THIS MATCH ALREADY?!?! I CANNOT WAIT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

What happened on Smackdown? :

After having to miss last week due to dental surgery, Charlotte returned to TV this week to have her scheduled match with Natalya. Match wasn’t all too long, and as Charlotte was dominating Natalya came back by getting her knees up when Charlotte tried a twisting moonsault. They then knocked each other down and then… CARMELLA came out with her Money in the Bank briefcase and a referee… but before she could try for the 10000th time to cash in, Charlotte kicked the briefcase out of her hands (and this briefcase went FLYING) and then kicked Carmella out the ring too. Natalya then tried to roll the champion up off the distraction, but Charlotte was able to get out of it and lock in the Figure Eight for the victory. Match was fine, and nice to see Charlotte get a win just before Mania. As for Carmella… something tells me this time next week she’ll no longer be Ms MITB…

After the match Asuka made her way to the ring. She grabbed the mic and told Charlotte that “the Queen will bow down to the Empress” … Charlotte then interrupted as Asuka was due to finish talking and asked Asuka if SHE was ready. They had a staredown to end the segment.

I should also point out that later in the evening, in the final of the Mixed Match Challenge, The Miz & ASUKA were victorious over the team of Bobby Roode & CHARLOTTE FLAIR. The finish in that match saw Miz pin Roode, but the tremendous match really helped build towards Asuka vs Charlotte. My heart will be absolutely all over the place during that one for sure!

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

What happened on Smackdown? :

Rusev faced Jinder Mahal with both men’s accomplices at ringside. And indeed before the match Sunil Singh sang a song in a mocking-fashion towards English. Aiden would later respond with a song of his own. Orton was shown backstage watching the match, and Bobby Roode was on guest commentary. This match was far from great (I’ll give you a clue, it wasn’t Rusev’s fault) but fortunately Rusev did get the win after kicking away Sunil Singh after he tried to distract him, he then hit the Machka kick on Mahal for win. As Rusev was in the ring after Randy Orton then came out of nowhere (it looked like he really did this time, crowd cheers aside it was a surprise to us watching at home so it looked really good) and gave Rusev an RKO. Aiden English then came in the ring to avenge his friend, he went to the middle rope to try and jump Orton but was pushed down by Bobby Roode. He then suffered an RKO from Orton. Randy then starred down the Glorious one.

GOD I hope Rusev wins this!!! After all, Wrestlemania this year is on the same day as RUSEV DAY… so he has to win surely???

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

What happened on Smackdown? :

OHHHH BOYYYYYY. Do I have to? Really? OK then… well… the go home build for this WRESTLEMANIA match went like this; New Day were shown goofing around, pulling out different electrical devices from each other’s pants, The Usos came in and said they’d win at Mania… Bludgeon Brothers appeared from behind them, both teams backed off as Harper smashed up a camera with his hammer… and that was the backstage segment done. THAT WAS IT! It absolutely sucked. It’s a shame as this match will be absolutely fantastic I am sure… so let’s forget this bit and just look forward to a great showcase of 3 excellent teams… and the eventual coronation of Harper and Rowan.

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon V Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

What happened on Smackdown? :

Daniel Bryan came out to open the show. He eventually welcomed out Shane McMahon (whom was selling his health issues), he then put Bryan over saying he was a role model and congratulated him on his return to the ring, he said he had his own health issues but said he was medically cleared, Daniel Bryan then said Shane was right about him letting his friendships get in the way, he apologized, Shane said he didn’t need to, he put his arm on Bryan’s shoulder, he admitted he can be a bit hot-headed, which Bryan laughed at. Shane McMahon then said sorry for being a hot-head ever since Kevin Owens head-butted his father and offered to shake his hand, Daniel Bryan then suggested they hug instead and so they did. Bryan said him and Shane being on the same page was bad for Owens & Zayn etc. etc. … This segment began to lose its way towards the end, particularly when Shane appeared to forget his line in the middle of it!

Later in the show; Kevin and Sami came out through the crowd and stood on the announce table. Owens cut a promo saying both Smackdown and Wrestlemania were STILL ‘The Sami & Kevin Show’ despite them being fired. Zayn then came in and mocked the earlier conversation between Bryan and McMahon, and then he apologized to both BRIE BELLA and BIRDIE for what they were going to do to Bryan (whenever anybody brings in a man’s wife and his family I am INTERESTED, so this was great)! They both mocked the advice Bryan eluded to that Brie had given him, Sami declared it was their dream to “obliterate Bryan” before Owens stated it would be THEIR Wrestlemania moment, Sami Zayn said they deserve it and then tried to start a “we deserve it” chant. This was absolutely brilliant heal work here from both men, they’re absolutely smashing it at the moment.

Both Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan then both came out. Bryan then told the fans to take plenty of pictures of both men as it was the last time we would see ‘those two’ on Smackdown. Shane then got the crowd to start the “hey, hey, hey, goodbye” song, and eventually the referees all came out to usher Owens and Zayn away. But this was a great segment from them, I don’t know what they are going to do after Mania (presuming Bryan gets the win) but I hope that they are pushed to the absolute moon once again because both these two are absolutely brilliant at what they do!

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

What happened on Smackdown? :

Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley and Primo Colon beat Tye Dillinger, Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze & Fandango. There was lots of superstars tossing the others ones over the top rope to really preview Sunday’s Battle Royal. Not that it matters but Baron Corbin got the pin after hitting Fandango with the End of Days. Match was about 5 minutes. Great…

Women’s Wrestlemania Battle Royal

What happened on Smackdown? :

NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY ZERO. NO BECKY, NO LANA, NO RIOTT SQUAD, NO NAOMI. Other than Nattie jobbing to Charlotte and Carmella failing a cash in, the women’s roster on Smackdown got no TV time at all. WHAT THE ACTUAL?!

Can we just have Wrestlemania now PLEASE?! That is all.

Josh.

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

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

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

What happened on Raw? :

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

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

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

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

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle V Stephanie McMahon & Triple H

What happened on Raw? :

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

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

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

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

What happened on Raw? :

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

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

What happened on Raw? :

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

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

What happened on Raw? :

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

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

Men’s & Women’s Battle Royal’s…

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

AND FINALLY

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

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

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

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

Josh.

Raw 26/3/18 Review: DO SOMETHING!!!

We are just THIRTEEN days away from Wrestlemania, and the build up to the Raw side of the card will only heat up further tonight… maybe literally as we will see John Cena take on Kane. Maybe a certain brother of his will make an appearance… or send a message of some form… or a GONG… lets see shall we? …

Raw began with the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman making their way to the ring. Heyman then showed some footage of last week’s attack by Lesnar on his Wrestlemania challenger Roman Reigns from last week, before revealing that Reigns’ suspension had been lifted. He went on to say that that means everyone is waiting for Roman to now come out, but that would not be the case because he wasn’t here tonight (much to the delight of the crowd… for god sake guys, play along please). Heyman continued on, making reference to Reigns being raised by his father Sika and uncle Afa (WWE Hall of Famers ’The Wild Samoans’) to be a ‘badass, to wrestle and to win’ but that it was a shame they didn’t raise Reigns to be a man, because a man would be in Cleveland tonight (to face Lesnar man-to-man). Heyman would continue to berate Roman before the challenger came towards the ring through the crowd, before being halted by a viscous clothesline by Lesnar. Roman was able to fight back by pushing Brock into the ring post and hitting him across the back 3 times, he then went for a Superman Punch by flying off the steps, only to be caught and hit with a belly-to-belly suplex followed by a huge shot to the head with the steel steps, then hit again back in the ring, then hit across the back with the steel chair he had previously bought into play, and then finally after teasing leaving Reigns in a heap he went back and hit a huge F5 onto the steps, before raising his Universal Championship belt high above his head, with his fallen challenger laying beaten beneath him. And for the second week in a row Brock Lesnar had absolutely destroyed Roman Reigns. The pattern during Lesnar’s title run so fart had been that the challenger would look strong going into the match before Lesnar would hit the F5 for the win, perhaps a reverse with this match? Probably.

Next match was Raw Women’s Championship challenger Nia Jax taking on the new accomplice of the champion (Alexa Bliss was at ringside) Mickie James. Relatively straight forward match with Jax getting the win after James came from the top rope only to be picked off, Gorilla Pressed and then Samoan Dropped. Shortly after the match Bliss made her way into the ring and hit Jax across the back to little effect as Nia looked on bemused and then chased Bliss away from the ring, screaming as she did so and even calling her former friend a “Bitch” (I think they tried to bleep this out, but failed and it was clearly heard… I imagine somebody is in big trouble). Simple stuff here but enough to advance the story a little bit more, I imagine Bliss will have another near miss next week before Nia finally gets her hands on the champion in the match itself at Wrestlemania.

There was then a video package showing Triple H and Stephanie McMahon building up and training for their match with Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey at Mania. The 2 spoke well and seemed very real in the things they said, there was also an interview with Joe DeFranco (a famous strength and conditioning coach) where he said that both Stephanie and Triple H train ‘all year round’ mentioning their ‘midnight workouts’ (check their Instagram’s for the videos), he then put over more how hard they were both training. I didn’t mind this as I genuinely believe it. Stephanie then said Rousey looked ‘vulnerable’ last week, footage was shown of Triple H beating Angle a number of times during their original WWE run (99-05), and then Stephanie finished off by saying Rousey doesn’t scare her because she’s ‘a McMahon’ which means she will ‘work for her’ and that she would humble Rousey just the way they’ve ‘humbled every superstar in the WWE’. God I hope this match is at least OK because I feel people are waiting for it to be bad before they castrate it. I don’t think it’ll be bad but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s very good.

Next up was something I really wish I had more to talk about, but the match was less than 5 minutes long so I didn’t really take many notes. The match saw the return of the cruiserweight division of 205 Live to Raw; and with 205 Live General Manger Drake Maverick on commentary to try and further promote the division we were greeted to a tag team match pitting the two men who will contest the Cruiserweight Championship match at Wrestlemania, Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali, against Drew Gulak & TJP. It was a fun enough match with plenty of typical Cruiserweight spots, but the match was sub 5 minutes so that says it all really. You are never going to get this division over if you just showcase them for FIVE MINUTES on a Raw every now and then. Finish saw Ali make a blind tag on Cedric after he had hit his finisher, before Ali hit his 054 (reverse 450) splash for the pin. Ali and Alexander showing some tension between them both afterwards as Cedric was unable to get the pinfall. I hope these two are on the main card at Mania, and I hope they absolutely smash their match out the park, god knows for the sake of 205 Live they need to. I think they will, but I’m nervous for them.

Next was yet another Mix TV segment. The crowd offering Miz “welcome home” chants (Cleveland is where he is originally from), but he was able to stick to his heel persona by reminding them all that “I live in L.A.”. The Miz then went on to bemoan his Miztourage colleagues Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel by telling them that he had been left laying for the past two weeks because they let him down. Dallas responded saying they are doing the best they can before Miz suggested that maybe he should “BO-LIEVE himself back to catering because Dallas would be nothing without him” (I really found this line amusing). Seth Rollins then made his way out, and applauded the Miztourage for hashing out their problems, before asking Miz when the last time he thanked Dallas and Axel? He went on to say if it wasn’t for the Miztourage then Miz wouldn’t be Intercontinental champion. Miz came back by saying they know he is grateful for them, and that they should be thankful for him because he elevated their careers, and that even without them he would still be a huge star. This prompted Bo Dallas to again comment by saying Miz would be “a phony A-lister who can’t fight”. This got a big shocked reaction from the crowd, and was probably the loudest pop Bo Dallas has got for some time. A shocked Miz then demanded Dallas repeat that, but was unable to before Finn Balor made his entrance. Balor then proceeded to add further flames to this developing fire, Dallas went on to indeed repeat what he had said which garnered a positive crowd response and a slap from The Miz which in turn angered Bo so much that Curtis (Hennig, this will become relevant soon) Axel had to hold him back. Miz said he was trying to motivate Dallas because he was 34 days away from becoming the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time, meaning he would be better than ‘Randy Savage, better than Shan Michaels, better than Mr. Perfect (aka Curt Hennig, aka Curtis Axel’s DAD). This was when Axel got mad. Miz tried to calm the situation but Dallas and Curt got in his face and seemed to want a fight, Miz was eventually trapped between Balor & Rollins on one side and Dallas and Axel on the other and just when it seemed as if the IC Champ was in big trouble, Dallas and Axel then attacked Rollins and Balor. Showing it had all been Miz’s plan all along as he smirked. Eventually Finn Balor’s Balor Club allies Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came down to make the save, brawling with Bo and Curtis to the back, leaving Balor and Miz in the ring together. Finn then went for a Slingblade and Rollins for Curb Stomp, but Miz was able to escape. He did leave behind his Championship belt, Rollins took it and held it over Balor whilst looking right at him, before Finn pushed Seth out of the way of the incoming Miz, who was then sent packing. Balor then gave Rollins a strong punch to the face, leaving Rollins down and now Balor hoisted the Intercontinental Championship aloft. This was fine. Not spectacular but like I say week after week, I have no doubt the match will be great fun to watch.

Interview with Kane next backstage, he told his opponent later tonight, John Cena, that “there are demons you should never call out, demons that should Rest In Peace” and that Cena wasn’t going to Wrestlemania because tonight he was “going to hell”. This would’ve been great had it not been for the fact that there is absolutely no chance that Kane is winning tonight.

Next up we had Charlie Caruso do an interview with Jamie Frost, the jobber… sorry, opponent… for Asuka let tonight. Frist said “Asuka likes to say no one is ready for Asuka, but Asuka isn’t ready for me”. Ok then, good luck… Asuka came out, the bell rung, Frost slapped Asuka, Asuka hit an incredible roundhouse kick and pinned her 1, 2, and 3. The match was over in 30 seconds. That was it. Always fun to see Asuka destroy someone but 2 weeks from Wrestlemania I’d have hoped for more, I don’t even know why she isn’t on Smackdown fully building the match up with Charlotte already? I imagine she’ll be there tomorrow but we’ll see…

Michael Cole and Corey Graves then reviewed the Ultimate Deletion from last week (spoiler alert… it was WONDERFUL). WOKEN Matt Hardy then did a promo telling us all he had DELETED Bray Wyatt, and that he was entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. DELIGHTFUL!

Next up was the most noteworthy part of the show. Bayley was in the locker room area when Sasha Banks (her ‘friend’) came to her and said she had received her text. Bayley though began to walk away which led Banks to ask if that was it? Bayley said she was entering the Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal and that was it! Sasha asked if they were going to talk about what happened last week, Bayley said there was nothing to talk about because Banks knows what she did. An angry Sasha said then shouted that ‘was sick of Bayley’s passive-aggressive nonsense’, Bayley responded saying she thought Banks liked it because that was the type of friendship they wanted to have, the one ‘where Banks gets to do whatever she wants because Bayley gets to be right by her side going along with it’. Bayley said she thinks Banks loves it that she puts her first, Banks says she is the boss and makes no apologies for putting her career first, and suggests that maybe Bayley too should do that so that everyone around here ‘doesn’t think Bayley is a complete loser’ (WOW thigs heating up here). A fired-up Bayley then said that the truth is Banks can’t beat her, to which Sasha said she’s a four-time Raw Women’s Champion, in which Bayley then asked her how long she kept it for (referring to the amazing fact that Sasha Banks has never had a successful main roster title defence). The Hugger then began to walk away before Banks grabbed her from behind and threw her into a nearby locker. The 2 then brawled before being separated… FINALLY THIS FEUD IS HAPPENING! We aren’t going to get the Mania one on one match they deserve but going forward it all seems to be ON! EXCELLENT!

The Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro then made their way out, with Sheamus due to take on Braun Strowman. Sheamus demanded to know who Braun’s partner to the tag team title match at Wrestlemania would be. Braun said he would reveal his partner if Sheamus could defeat him. This made the Irishman very angry, as Strowman ensured Sheamus would ‘GET THESE HANDS’! And indeed Sheamus would ‘GET THESE HANDS’ as Braun would obviously get the win. Who do I think the partner is? Hopefully Elias. Should they keep it a secret until the match itself? Absolutely. Will Braun and partner win? I’m not sure, but hopefully.

Kurt Angle then made his way to the ring, he then introduced his Wrestlemania partner Ronda Rousey. Kurt cut a promo saying Wrestlemania was ‘the most intimidating stage for anyone to compete in for the first time’ but after watching Ronda train he knows she is ready. He said Triple H and Stephanie write the rules and make the rules, and that this wasn’t going to be easy. Ronda said it was fine that it wasn’t going to be easy because she wasn’t looking for easy, she said she was here to earn everything that she gets and that Stephanie talks tough, but “she’s trust-fund tough, she’s limousine tough and personal trainer tough” (Best lines from Ronda in WWE so far by a mile).Ronda finished off by again saying she was going to rip Stephanie’s ‘arm from her socket’. Absolution then came out, Paige took the mic and warned Ronda that not having friends will absolutely destroy her, before offering her to be the 4th member of Absolution. Ronda declined, saying Angle had her back, Paige then led Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville towards Ronda ad Angle held the Rowdy one back, Sonya Deville then grabbed Ronda’s shoulder which earnt her a huge clothesline from Rousey. This would be followed up with a Suplex on Rose into Deville (the timing of which was way off as Deville had to run forward to be hit with Rose, it was clear what the spot was supposed to be but it was sloppily executed). Kurt angle then raised Rousey’s arm but Mandy Rose attempted to jump her, she was though seen and Rousey hit a great-looking Judo type throw on Rose before locking her in a potential Armbar position. Angle pleaded with Ronda not to break Rose’s arm and Rousey eventually let her run free. Rousey looks stronger still, so can’t complain.

Gallows and Anderson then beat Dallas and Axel in a bit of a nothing match. 5 minutes was all they got. Gallows got the pin. Fine.

The ever talented, and one of my favourite’s on the entire roster at the moment, Elias came out next looking to give us another of his signature performances. He told the crowd that “in this kingdom of madness, there are those who walk and those who don’t walk yet, but in 13 days at Wrestlemania I will give the greatest performance of my lifetime”. He then said he had ‘sold out Madison Square Garden last week, so coming to Cleveland is a huge disappointment’ (WWE recently did a big live event at MSG, so he’s not technically wrong). He would go on to say he was embarrassed to be here tonight’ but that his friend LeBron James told him the same thing when he returned to Cleveland. He would go on to say that James would be leaving Cleveland soon, just like he would, before then going on to sing another of his hilarious songs. This one including the putdown: ‘Wrestlemania was on the horizon, but I’m stuck in this town. The only thing that would be more embarrassing is being a member of the Cleveland Browns’ which I really liked. Another masterful performance was then interrupted by Rhyno and Heath Slater. A squash match followed with Elias beating Rhyno in no time at all. After the match Elias hit Heath Slater with his finisher too. Always fun to see Elias perform, shame it was against such sub-standard opposition.

We were then told it would be Rollins vs Balor next week, and also there’d be another confrontation between Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Should be good.

And finally it was time for the main event; John Cena taking on… THE UNDERTAKER… ‘s brother Kane… This turned out to be a NO DQ match which added an extra fun element to it. Early on Cena tried to lift Kane for the AA, but simply fell down under the pressure of how heavy Kane was (bit harsh on old Kane imo…). They would go on to brawl around the outside of the ring area with Kane throwing Cena into the steel steps. Cena would later launch a barricade into Kane’s stomach, Kane then suplexed Cena onto the barricade, they returned to the ring where Kane undid one of the turnbuckle covers, before Cena sat up just like The Undertaker typically does. John Cena would continue to mock Kane’s brother by doing his throat-slashing gesture before performing a Chokeslam on Kane (who has been using the move as his finisher for 20 years or so). Cena went under the ring for in search of a table, and then set it up in the ring, but Kane this time sat up in signature fashion. Kane tried to lift Cena, but he was reversed and Cena then attempted to AA Kane through the table. But the Big Red Machine was able to push the table over and knock Cena down. Kane then placed the table in the corner, he then threw Cena but got only two count from the referee. Kane went on to pull out another table and set up for the Chokeslam of his own but the leader of the Cenation was able to get behind Kane and hit him with an AA through the table for the pinfall and the win. Obviously John Cena won, that was never in any doubt. Match itself was fine for a 15 minute no DQ match between two veterans. Again we all await the aftermath now… And so Cena and us all waited and waited for SOMETHING from The Undertaker, but we got nothing. A frustrated Cena said this was a match with no rules, anything can happen and anyone could be here. He even screamed for The Undertaker, the crowd chanted his name, leading Cena to say that The Undertaker wasn’t deaf, ‘he was just a coward’. He said his silence was no longer an answer and that it’s either yes or no, he again reiterated he had no problem going to Wrestlemania as a fan, but he pleaded that The Undertaker “DO SOMETHING” because (talking directly to the camera throughout the later part of this amazing promo) ‘now you only have one week left, one week left that sums up your entire career… you can do something, or you can do nothing… and if you do nothing you will let me down, let Kane down and let everyone down who ever believed in you… I hope for the sake of all that is good inside this ring I see you next week’. Cena then dropped his mic, walked off and that was how Raw ended. An impassioned promo from Cena, I really felt as if he meant very word he said. It has long been a desire of most WWE fans and also a public desire of Cena himself to have this match happen, and he is building up to it tremendously well in my opinion.

And that was Raw. Not the most eventful of shows, not going to be when you have your Mania card all sorted weeks before the show but it had some high point for sure. Some bits I struggled to write anything about too…

Key Points to Take Home

. Roman needs to get SOMETHING over Lesnar going into Mania surely? Or do you just save it for his inevitable victory?

. Nia’s going to squash Alexa at Wrestlemania; or at least she should do

. Asuka deserves so much better of a Wrestlemania build to the one she is getting

. I hope Braun’s partner doesn’t disappoint

. I’m starting to think Cena vs Taker should main event or at least be 2nd last on the card at Wrestlemania

Conclusion

I’ve accused Smackdown of this in recent weeks, so would be unfair if I didn’t criticize the usually eventful Raw for the same thing. Raw seemed to just be stagnant this week. There were extreme highs; Cena’s promo obviously top of that list but Bayley and Sasha FINALLY getting some offence on one another was great to see, the rest was all… just … ok for me. I feel Raw could’ve maybe done without another week to build until Mania. But we have reasons to be hopeful, next week promises to be an epic go home show… and then obviously it could have something else too…

GONG!

Josh.

Smackdown 20/3/2018 Review: YES, YES, YES!!!

So this review may be a little different to normal; mainly because I’ll be watching the show live (subject to how much I can resist falling asleep) and also… because… idk if you heard… BUT DANIEL BRYAN HAS BEEN CLEARED TO RETURN TO THE RING!!! YES, YES, YES!!!

The show itself begins with a video recap of Daniel Bryan’s retirement announcement, a little over 2 years ago now, as well as the news that broke earlier in the day about his clearance to compete again in the ring. This really was news that absolutely exploded earlier in the day, the internet went absolutely crazy over it for a good half an hour it was all people in the wrestling world were talking about. The live crowd begin the inevitable “YES” chants before the man of the moment made his way to the ring, the Smackdown Live General Manager… and I guess now ‘superstar’ too… Daniel Bryan! He then proceeded to cut a very emotional (and that was just me watching at home) and powerful promo; ‘Thank you … last week something horrible happened to Shane McMahon but unfortunately Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are not here yet so Imma have to talk about something else…’. He went on to say that as he was coming to terms with the fact that he had to retire from wrestling he began to ‘focus on being grateful… I have amazing family, amazing friends, the best fans in the world, and I also have an amazing beautiful wife… and when I was depressed… she came to me and she said ‘it’s wonderful that you’re grateful but you need to …fight for your dreams’ … she encouraged me to see specialists…’. Very worthwhile chants of “THANKYOU BRIE” began to ring around the arena from the crowd, the particularly powerful line there was “Fight for your dreams” which if you take anything from all this it is surely that. This isn’t as much a wrestling angle but a real life man achieving something he could only dream of before and overcoming incredible odds and obstacles to do so.

Bryan would continue to say that over the last 2 months I asked WWE to re-look at my case’, he credited them for sending him to all the best appropriate people he needed to go to, and the crowd rejoiced more so when he said that ‘every specialist said the same thing; “you are cleared”’. More “YES” chants from the crowd, I’ve a feeling we may get one or two more in the foreseeable future. Bryan would go on to say ‘thank you to the WWE and their doctors, first and foremost they looked at me as the person and not the wrestler and for that I will be forever grateful to them, I also am grateful that they were willing to give my case a 2nd look… and I wanna say thank you to every single person here, to every single person watching at home cuz you guys have supported me for this entire time and lastly but not leastly I would like to say thank you to Brie (he began to choke up a little here as we all did watching)… I don’t think any of you truly understand how much she’s supported me over the last 2 years… so now… on to the fun stuff right? I don’t know exactly when or where I will get back in this ring’ (he then looks at the Wrestlemania sign, there’s Wrestlemania chants from crowd…. OMFG THIS IS AMAZING!!!) “Does that sound like a good idea?” he asks the crowd. Obviously the crowd goes ape shit with more “YES” chants, he went on… “I don’t know for sure if that’s gonna happen but will Daniel Bryan compete in a WWE ring again?” “YES” chants the crowd as Daniel Bryan did the yes arm raises himself gleefully in the ring before making his exit. And that was the end of the best segment/promo in WWE or anywhere else in the wrestling world since… Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech!!! It was everything we had all hoped for and more. Indescribably positive and joyous. Daniel Bryan was then shown backstage after the ad break with referee Charles Robinson who passed on his best wishes as Bryan was looking for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, he was then greeted by Dolph Ziggler who too congratulated Bryan on his clearance, but said “I can’t wait to beat you”. Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan sounds ok, but there are SOOOOOOOOOO many more matches that are real possibilities now.

First match of the show was Rusev (with Aiden English) vs Shinsuke Nakamura in a Fastlane re-match with the Men’s Royal Rumble winner’s Wrestlemania opponent, WWE Champion AJ Styles, sat at ringside to take in the match. You may well have heard that AJ is carrying an injury, which apparently he is but the match at Mania is still definitely ON, so don’t worry too much about it. Fun match here, similar to the ppv one, an even contest of Rusev’s power against Nakamura’s technical mastery. Shinsuke got the win via a roll up but was immediately beaten down by English and Rusev after the match was done. Like Nakamura last week AJ Styles very slowly appeared to be preparing to make the save, but before he entered Nakamura was able to fend off his two foes by himself. AJ and Nakamura then starred eachother out to end the segment (with regards to AJ’s injury this segment showed me that AJ is fine but is being protected, so don’t expect any physical stuff from Styles anytime between now and Mania). Next we were shown an Asuka promotional video package which the Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair was shown watching backstage, she was then told by long term rival Natalya that she was ‘scared’ of Asuka and their impending match, to which Flair responded by saying “I’m actually excited” and a brief verbal exchange between the two led to Charlotte vs Natalya being set for later in the show. AJ and Shinsuke then had a brief but very funny exchange backstage, you can tell these 2 have great admiration for one another and they work together so well. Now AJ appears to be all fine medically for the match the excitement for it will only intensify. Next match was Tye Dillinger vs Baron Corbin. This was about 5 minutes long and Corbin won. Not much more too it.

Charlotte vs Natalya was after. This was a decent enough match between two women who have a long history together and so chemistry wasn’t a problem at all here, Charlotte hit a great looking spear on the outside and eventually had Nattie in the Figure 8 submission in the ring. However she would refuse to tap … and then CARMELLA (MS MONEY IN THE BANK) CAME DOWN TO THE RING AND ATTEMPTED A CASH IN! However she was thwarted as she turned around from handing her briefcase over into a huge big boot from the champion Charlotte. This distraction however led to Natalya rolling up Charlotte for the win. I liked the failed cash in, there’s been a few of these teases form Carmella now and I really like how they’re telling her story with the briefcase. Hopeful it has a good and dramatic ending, not so sure how I feel about Natalya pinning the champion before Charlotte has one of the biggest showdowns in women’s wrestling history in a couple of weeks but… Jimmy Uso (with fellow tag team champion, his brother Jey) vs Harper (with his [Bludgeon] brother Rowan supporting him at ringside) was next. This of course coming off the back of Rowan and Harper’s dominance over both The Usos and also The New Day in recent weeks as their ongoing pursuit of the gold has taken more forceful steps. Fun match this between two supremely underrated talents, and after interferences from both tag team partners that were on the outside it was Harper who got the win. Their winning those belts at Wrestlemania, I’m in no doubt about it. There was then a 3 way promo between United States Champion Randy Orton, the former champion Bobby Roode and the challenger Jinder Mahal (that match being made official for Wrestlemania shortly before Smackdown went on the air by the way). Jinder talked himself up, Roode told Mahal he was a hypocrite and that respect was a 2 way street, and Orton told Jinder that he relied heavily on the help of his stooge [Sunil Singh] and this was why he had little respect. They appeared to be about to have a brawl but Jinder would throw his loyal follower Sunil Singh into Roode and Orton before quickly exiting the ring. The two then beat the helpless Singh down before the 3 Wrestlemania opponent starred eachother down. Match will be fine I’m sure but this feud just does nothing for me to be honest. Final match of the show was Becky Lynch & Naomi vs Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan with their Riott Squad leader Ruby watching on from ringside. Bit of a nothing match really, finish came when Becky had Logan in her submission and Naomi stopped the interference from Morgan to give the faces the win. These women will all be in the Women’s Battle Royal at Mania… yeah… whatever…

And finally, of course, the show ended with Daniel Bryan delivering his judgement out to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens regarding their recent actions and their attack on Shane McMahon last week. A clearly disappointed Bryan made clear to Zayn and Owens that ‘you assaulted your boss, I don’t get it… you guys won… you got what you wanted… Shane said he was leaving and gave you a one on one match at Wrestlemania and I was here in your corner to run the show… and you guys still felt the need to assault your boss?’ Bryan goes on to say that he just doesn’t get it (with Owens and Zayn and their recent actions) and he goes on to say that ‘I don’t want to have to do this… you’re fired!’ continuing by saying ‘this doesn’t mean you’re gone forever, just for now… I’m so sorry’. Both Sami and Kevin then shake Daniel Bryan’s hand, and turn away to slowly leave the ring, before turning back to attack the man who just ‘fired’ them. It is a bit of beatdown until the wonderful moment we have all waited 2 years for, Daniel Bryan got some offence in a WWE ring! He eventually has both Zayn and Owens in either corner of the ring, before delivering his signature kicks to Owens in the corner and then a WONDERFUL German Suplex on Zayn which delighted the Dallas crowd. He followed these great moves up with a series of running dropkicks to them both one after the other, with both men prone still against each opposing ring corner. The crowd were then delighted more so when Bryan hit his ‘YES’ kicks to Owens, but was sadly stopped after a takedown by Zayn. Owens and Zayn then hit Daniel Bryan with a superkick and a Helluva kick respectively, and it was KO who finished the assault by hitting a Powerbomb, slamming Bryan against the ring apron. And that was how the show closed… with Owens and Zayn destroying a Smackdown authority figure for the second week in a row… I think the match for Mania now is pretty much wrapped up isn’t it? YES, YES, YES!!!

And that was Smackdown. OK show. Mania soon. DANIEL BRYAN IS BACK!!!

Key Points to Take Home

. YES!

. YES!

. YES!

. YES!

. YES!

Conclusion

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

Josh.

Raw 19/3/2018 Review: The Ultimate DELETION, that Ultimately delivered

So here we are then… RAW is in Dallas, Texas… however the main story of this show will surely come from a long, long way away…. THE HARDY COMPOUND! What promises to be a very ‘unique’ show begins with Raw GM Kurt Angle coming out to the ring. He tells the crowd flat-out that Roman Reigns is still suspended (and so not here tonight), and that Brock Lesnar is not at the arena yet but he has been assured by Mr McMahon that he WILL be here later tonight. Angle then goes on to speak about the situation regarding the tag team battle royal from last week and what he will do to resolve the situation regarding the winner Braun Strowman not having a partner… he is though then interrupted by gasps and screams from the crowd as Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring via the crowd. The two then have a back and forth on the mic with Roman telling him “Brock’s not here… somebody has to be here to represent the MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA …”. Kurt tries to calm Reigns by telling him that ‘in 3 weeks you can get your hands of him, all you have to do is wait until Wrestlemania 34’. This is something in which the challenger for the Universal Championship is far from pleased with; “I understand, I still don’t care… I’m not leaving this ring until I face Brock Lesnar TONIGHT”! . Roman also made reference to the fact that he was in the same place (Dallas, Texas) in which he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H in the main event of Wrestlemania 32 (Roman beating a respected part-timer for the world title in the Mania main event, in which he was booed throughout… no chance of that happening again……… ever…………). OOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!

However he would not have the same success as he had on the aforementioned previous trip to Dallas; as Roman was sat on a chair waiting in the ring the “US Marshalls” came to the ring and arrested him! Roman was initially co-operative but would take exception to one ‘Marshall’ (aka one of the developmental talents WWE had roped in for the role to take bumps) who proceeded to physically restrain him, with Roman clearing the officers out of the ring whilst still in handcuffs. And then… BROCK LESNAR came storming to the ring! With Paul Heyman holding the coveted Universal Championship in his arms, The Beast Incarnate (sporting a brand new t-shirt which looked great by the way) would unleash a fury on his Wrestlemania opponent: Suplex, Steel Chair attack, Suplex, steel chair attack, suplex, chair shots, Suplex… left the ring, got back in the ring, F5, Brock and Heyman leave, Roman is placed on a stretcher and carted out the ring, Brock comes running back out into the ringside area and he proceeds to ram Roman’s Stretcher over! And then mercilessly he finally makes his exit. WOW OH WOW! Statement well and truly made, this match is not going to be for the faint hearted. I urge you all to read my review of their previous Wrestlemania match and you’ll know they put on a very good, hard hitting match before and I’m in no doubt they will again, YYYYYYEEEEEEEEAAAAAAASSSSSSS!

Next up we see a recap of Alexa Bliss & Mickie James Mean Girls stick towards Nia Jax last week, and Nia’s subsequent reaction before the Raw Women’s Champion (along with her lapd… sorry her ‘friend’ Mickie James) makes her way to the ring. She cut a promo which was much more of the same brilliant bitchiness she has been exhibiting recently, before The Empress of Tomorrow Asuka made her way out for their match. It was, unsurprisingly, pretty good to be fair to them. If this had been the Wrestlemania match I wouldn’t have minded too much, but I’m obviously ecstatic with what we do have. The finish of the match came when Mickie James helped Alexa out of the ring and away after Asuka had long had her in an Ankle Lock. Asuka winning by countout. With the 2 heels making their escape, NIA JAX came charging down the rampway, she attacked James and attempted to chase down Bliss but the champion would be able to escape the clutches of Jax via escaping thought the crowd. Jax took her fury out on James who she absolutely destroyed! Nia unleashed a banshee-like scream to show her anger towards her now seemingly former friend and her recent actions. We would next see Alexa Bliss backstage with Kurt Angle, she complained to him about Nia’s actions, with Angle saying he was in fact annoyed with what she Alexa had done in recent weeks, He bemoaned her for being a poor example to young women as the Raw Women’s Champion, and then he announced ALEXA BLISS vs NIA JAX FOR THE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP AT WRESTLEMENIA! HALLELUJAH, FINALLY!!! Great stuff all round here from all involved, and now we officially have the match we all wanted. DELIGHTFUL!

Next up was the answer I certainly have been waiting for all week… and over the course of the next segment we had it confirmed to us that it will be Braun AND A PARTNER vs The Bar! Let the speculation begin then… Elias? Samoa Joe? Bray Wyatt? Who on earth knows? Anyway; Braun vs Cesaro then, decent match with Cesaro selling his ass off for the star of the show, he would attempt to use his amazing power throughout but was stopped at almost every turn by The Monster Amongst Men. Strowman saw off potential interference from Sheamus on the outside and eventually after Cesaro attempted a crossbody from the top rope he was amply caught and then power-slammed to the mat to give Braun the victory. I predict, but for his neck-related issues I hope not, that Sheamus will suffer a similar fate next week. I would love it if they didn’t reveal Braun’s partner until Mania itself, the pop (if it is a good choice) could be HUGE! Next match was Titus Worldwide vs The Revival… who the fuck cares??? The Revival won thank god, and after cut a promo saying they would become the first tag team ever to win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. So… we WILL get a men’s battle royal then? That’ll be a great chance to bring some more stars to the main roster from NXT and to make it into a huge deal, I hope they don’t waste it! After this a video package was shown confirming that Texas’ own Mark Henry is going into the Hall of Fame. Fantastic, absolutely delighted for him. A long servant of the WWE and such a talented guy. His main event run was so good as was his Sexual Chocolate gimmick. A man of many talents now has his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. WONDERFUL!

Next up was what I thought was a really… hokey… promo exchange between Sasha Banks and Bayley. Sasha followed Bayley out and said that she had been raised to think that she should talk to someone you have a problem with face to face, she told Bayley that she was her best friend and that she wanted to fix whatever was going on between them, she defender her actions (when she attacked Bayley) by saying that ‘at Elimination Chamber it was every woman for themselves… just like I intend to go to Wrestlemania and win the Women’s battle royal’ … (so no Sasha vs Bayley one on one at Mania then… *cry*). Sasha then bemoaned Bayley for rejecting her tag the other week in their match, and also for walking out on her last week, but because “I’m the bigger person, I forgive you”. Bayley responded by saying she was angry then, but that her actions didn’t cost them the match, that she actually helped them both win, and that she took off last week because… she still ‘can’t get over what you did to me at the Elimination Chamber’. Bayley went on to tell a crestfallen and solemn-looking Sasha that it was about how you did it [at Elimination Chamber when Banks kicked Bayley from the top of a pod] but the look on your face after you did it “ate away at my core”. Apparently Sasha “ate away” at Bayley’s core… somebody pass me the sick bucket… Bayley questioned how if Sasha was her best friend then ‘why was it so easy to put me down’? Next we had Bayley and Sasha vs Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, ok match with Bayley & Sasha’s ongoing tensions prevalent throughout with blind-tags and trash talk aplenty. Finish came when the two ‘best friends’ argued allowing Deville to push Bayley into Banks knocking her down, before Sonya hit a sidekick on Bayley for the win. I read rumours that Sasha and Bayley have heat backstage with the creative and some of the higher-ups because neither are happy with their creative direction, and the fact their supposed mania match has be annulled. I saw nothing here to convince me otherwise. It will make sense if they are the final 2 I guess but it’s a shame we won’t get them one on one at Wrestlemania as both deserve, but instead it has been sentenced to DELETION!

Next was our weekly tease of the biggest match in Wrestlemania history… so nothing major… John Cena made his way to the ring; he further ridiculed The Undertaker for his failure to answer his Wrestlemania challenge last week, he said to The Phenom that “for that dude to not get off your ass and give me a yes or a no is damn disrespectful”. “Dude, if you’re retired, say no and be retired and everybody in here understands”… “Dude you sit there and you drown in your own insecurities…” and THEN the DADDY of all lines… “you are not the god that they made you, you are the man you allowed yourself to become” (I absolutely LOVED this line, it was absolutely brilliant imo). He then repeatedly called The Undertaker a ‘COWARD’! And finished by saying that “Undertaker you are not a god and right now you should barely be able to call yourself a man”, he then dropped his mic and shook his head in disgust and began to make his exit… until KANE comes out!!! Cena asked The Undertaker’s brother if it was a ‘yes or a no’ before placing the mic closer to the Big Red Machine. He was not given an answer, verbally anyway. Instead Kane Chokeslammed Cena and walked away. Another great John Cena segment, the involvement of Kane (presumably a match between the 2 will follow) is another intriguing aspect. We await official confirmation of course but at this stage it is being assumed it’s on, and there’s not a chance they’d take it this far if it wasn’t happening. The wait for The Undertaker to actually appear though is now becoming absolutely INTOXICATING!

Next The Miz came out with The Miztourage for a promo. It was decent enough, nothing new from him but good nonetheless. One notable point was him mentioning that “the little nudge will turn into a bug push for TYLER BLACK (SETH ROLLINS name before he came to WWE) and PRINCE NEVITT (Finn Balor was called Prince Devitt outside of WWE so I’m unsure of this was a genuine mistake or if Miz was supposed to get this wrong, either way it matters little to me, the sheer context was enough to get it over for me) when I send them down to the bingo halls so they can too sweet all you little indie fans”. Great line that from Miz. This led to an acceptable match between BALOR CLUB (Finn Balor, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson each sporting some great new tees) vs Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, should also mention Seth Rollins did guest commentary for this one. My notes weren’t too long on this one, my mind had already been diverted towards the main event to be honest. So Finn pinned Miz for the win and Miztourage bet on him and Gallows and Anderson afterwards before Rollins came to make the save. My main takeaway from this was that they have been making The Miz look far too weak recently, which leads me to believe they’ll have him retain the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania. Perhaps the appearance of a Demon could change all that… now that would be ORGASMIC!

We were then shown a great video package on Ronda Rousey. Her SAT DOWN WITH Kurt Angle, him putting her over, more footage of Rousey training as she explained her story. It was really well done to be fair to them, Ronda came across as both a babyface and a legit badass. I was though absolutely ASTONISHED that during this promotional package they actually used credited footage from the UFC! I imagine that didn’t come cheap! Not much too say about this, it more than did its job for me anyway. MAGNIFICENT!

Then… it was time for the main event of the show; The Ultimate Deletion. Now… I know I say this every week but I just sat back and watched and enjoyed this one so didn’t take many notes. And I know I say too often that ‘you just need to go and watch this match’. But this was the most bizzare, entertaining and (I’m absolutely delighted to be able to truthfully say this) BRILLIANT match/segment or whatever the fuck it was! I mean seriously, you try and perform a technical analysis of this! I’d strongly advise you do your homework on this whole story and gimmick with Matt Hardy because there were so many little bits of excellence in this absolute masterpiece. I’ll struggle to list them all but; Matt constructing a mirror image of Bray’s old house (that you may recall Randy Orton burning down around this time last year), Senior Benjamin handing Wyatt a globe so that he really did have ‘the whole world in his hand’, Bray chasing Matt around various structures (the footage of Bray at superspeed) as Matt elicited more WOKEN wisdom had me absolutely wetting myself, BROTHER NERO making a cameo (that’s Jeff Hardy for you OBSELETE mules), I really could go on and on. The ‘finish’ came with a twist of fate from Matt for the pinfall before Bray Wyatt was placed into the nearby water. Matt then instructed his loyal Senior Benjamin to fish him out and place him in the ‘Lake of Reincarnation’. But Hardy was told than Wyatt was not there, with WOKEN Matt then declaring that THE GREAT WAR was now OVAHHHHHH! Matt then announced that Bray Wyatt had finally been DELETED! And that was how Raw went off the air… EXQUISITE!

And that was that… wow… I’m not often speechless about wrestling but I’m so lost for words about the Ultimate Deletion (in a good way I should make clear). SPLENDID!

Key Points To Take Home

. I’m 100% all in on Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar main eventing Wrestlemania

. Nia Jax MUST win at Wrestlemania, else wtf is the point of all this?

. Cena could convince a blind person to buy glasses, his mic work is that good

. Ronda could legit kill Stephanie McMahon

. Matt Hardy’s greatest accomplishment yet could be reviving the career of Bray Wyatt

Conclusion

I’ll keep this short this week. We are all geared towards Wrestlemania so with that in mind, how much did the various angles on the show advance forward and get me hyped for their matches at the event? Well: Lesnar destroying Roman = 10/10; take my 9.99 this month with great approval WWE network, Nia Jax vs Alexa = 10/10; I cannot wait for the brilliant bully to meet her comeuppance, The Revival and Sasha and Bayley being confirmed for the battle royals pretty much = 5/10; gutted they aren’t doing more, but they have a spot at Mania which is obviously something I guess, Cena with Kane = 9/10; loved the inclusion of Kane into this story, makes it more real that someone would be rather annoyed if you repeatedly bad mouthed their brother to the world right?, the IC title stuff = 6/10; not really much… erm… ‘umf’ is this feud but I have no doubt the match will be great, Ronda’s video package = 9/10; very well put together, more than achieved its goal. And then the Ultimate Deletion? Well… idk what else to say about it… YYYYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSS, WONDERFUL, YEEEEEAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS, DELIGHTFUL, YEEEEAAAAASSSSSS, OOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE!!!

Josh.

Smackdown 13/3/18 Review: It’s happening, but it’s not all happening…

So the road to Wrestlemania has very much begun now, and one the first episode of Smackdown since Fastlane we will surely get more of the route revealed as the blue brand approaches the show of shows. First out is STILL the WWE Champion, AJ Styles. He cuts a promo speaking about how he overcame the odds on Sunday, and how he makes things happen that are ‘unbelievable, not impossible’, he goes on to talk about his dream match that has been set up now between him and Shinsuke Nakamura; he says he has the upmost respect for him but that although they are similar that ends when he steps in the ring because he is phenomenal… and right on queue enters the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble winner himself. As the crowd get chants of “NA-KA-MU-RA” & “A-J-STYLES” echoing around the arena Shinsuke tells his Wrestlemania opponent that he is a champion and that everyone likes him, but that ‘everyone likes me too’. He goes on to say he respects him, and that at Wrestlemania dreams come true, and that ‘my dream… knee to face… and I become champion” (this was a really intense yet respectful segment, and it really captivated the excitement and anticipation of this upcoming match, I cannot wait). To the delight of the crowd next the music of RUSEV hit, he was accompanied by his companion and musical ally Aiden English as it will be the Bulgarian Brute vs the WWE Champion in our opening match of the show. Lovely stuff.

The crowd were well into this match between 2 of their favourites, both men exchanged offence early on, Rusev hitting a really impressive Spinebuster for a 2 count. An ad break was followed Rusev with AJ on the top rope, and after a possible Superplex that AJ wriggles out of he then plants Rusev’s face into the top of the ringpost. AJ did some more strikes in the ring on Rusev, got a nearfall before Rusev would come back with a huge kick to AJ that got a nearfall of his own. AJ hit a Pele kick and a backbreaker, he went for the Styles Clash but Rusev powered out and went to go for the Accolade submission but AJ was able to get out and try to lock in the Cabcrusher. Rusev would hold on to the middle ropes to stop, AJ rolls him to the floor for the move and once Styles eventually locked the it in Aiden English entered the ring and him and Rusev would beat AJ down to bring an end to the match. Sitting at ringside for the match was Shinsuke Nakamura, who (after taking his time) would eventually come in the ring and make the save. He hit a Kinshasa to Rusev as him and English made their escape. AJ & Nakamura stared each other down before Shinsuke walked off to the back. The build up to this one continues, and each day that passes I am more and more excited by the prospect of it. Both are so loved and have so much respect for one another it only promises to be nothing short of absolutely… PHENOMENAL!!!

We then were shown a recap of the Tag Title match from Fastlane and the destruction that The Bludgeon Brothers dished out afterwards. It really was one hell of a job Harper & Rowan did at the ppv, they’ve made this gimmick work and I’m so happy for them as both are underrated particularly Harper. Big E was walking backstage next, he was spoken to by interviewer Dasha Fuentes, E told her he will represent his New Day brothers Kingston and Woods who are not here after the Bludgeon Brothers’ attack. Jimmy Uso then comes in and tells him that when all their teammates are back they will go to battle again but ‘right now, let’s take care of some business’. So we will have E and Jimmy vs Harper & Rowan then. Cool. AJ Styles was then seen backstage with Shinsuke Nakamura, Styles says he didn’t need Shinsukes help, Shinsuke said it ‘looked like you did… but don’t worry I will help every time until Wrestlemania, then… Knee to Face’. Again, good stuff.

So then we have Big E of The New Day teaming with one half of The Usos Jimmy. They have a pretty entertaining match with The Bludgeon Brothers. Both Big E and Jimmy Uso hitting their opponents with some fierce strikes, Big E all night far from his usual happy-go-lucky self and demonstrated his more serious demeanour in this match here. It was very reminiscent of his NXT days and reminded me just how good Big E can be. Harper and Rowan showed off their power-based offence in this match though, in particular Harper hitting a ferocious big boot to Jimmy Uso, as Big E was thrown into the steel steps by Rowan. With Big E out of action Harper & Rowan hit their double team finisher on Jimmy to get the win. They destroy Big E some more after the match as the career renaissance of these 2 continues onto Wrestlemania (where I imagine they will win the Smackdown Tag Team championships). Really enjoyed this.

There’s a recap of Shane McMahon’s involvement in screwing Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens out of the WWE Championship in the main event of Fastlane. Renee Young is then backstage with Sami Zayn; she asked him who he blames for the loss at Fastlane, he says the obvious answer is Shane McMahon but it’s really Kevin Owens, that he is guilty by association with Owens and so that’s why Shane continues to screw him, that although Owens has always been there for him as far as his career goes he is a self-obsessed ego-maniac, that at Fastlane he was mili-seconds from the WWE Championship, and that’s a price “I’ll never pay again”. I like heel, slightly-delusional Sami so much. He’s great.

Next up CHARLOTTE FLAIR comes out to the ring. She tells the crowd that when you’re a champion you’re always a target, and that when Asuka challenged her she was excited and honoured, and that she wanted to be in the ring to meet her woman to woman. AND THEN ASUKA CAME OUT!!! Charlotte welcomes here to Smackdown Live and says ‘well, I guess as they say you better be careful what you wish for’, Asuka says thank you, Charlotte says that she has travelled all over the world and she is told 2 things; congratulations, and what will happen if you face Asuka? She continues saying that ‘iron sharpens iron, that she wanted to face her and got Goosebumps on Sunday when her music hit, and that although ‘I haven’t faced anyone like you before, but you haven’t faced anyone like me, so at Wrestlemania YOU should be careful what YOU wish for, because I’m going to end your streak and cement my legacy… WOOOOOOOO”! This was really, really good stuff from Charlotte, anytime someone says something that you could imagine them saying outside of WWE it’s so much better for the simple reason that it doesn’t come across as forced. Asuka responds by saying ‘I chose you because I like a challenge, you are the Queen but I am The Empress, and Asuka, Asuka bows to no one, because nobody is ready for ASUKA” (again good, believable stuff). As they were face to face then in the ring, Randy Orton’s music hit… and that was the end of the segment for the women… THAT WAS IT! JUST LIKE LAST WEEK THE US TITLE SEGMENT JUST STARTS BEFORE THE WOMEN’S TITLE SEGMENT ENDS, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?????!!!!! I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START WITH THIS, SO I’LL JUST STOP, BUT THIS HAS HAPPENED TWO WEEKS IN A ROW NOW AND MAKES NO SENSE, WHY NOT JUST HAVE A 30 SECOND ADVERT AND THEN HAVE THE US TITLE SEGMENT BEGIN?! WHY BURY THE WOMEN’S SEGMENT, HAVE A NONE-ENDING AND JUST HAVE THE US TITLE SEGMENT START!? It’s not even like the US title scene is exciting right now…

So let’s talk about the United States Championship segment that followed then… actually… let’s not because it was boring as FUCK! I’ll summarise as quickly as possible so we can move on. So: Randy came out and said how happy he was to be a grand slam champion and how much he respected Bobby Roode, but the title is mine now and he’s taking it to Wrestlemania, Roode came out and said he wants his rematch at Mania, Jinder came out and but both men down, Roode and Jinder had their match which ended when a distracted Roode was hit by Jinder with his finisher and Mahal won, Orton who was at ringside for the match came in and RKO’d Mahal, and the 3 way at Mania without being officially announced yet is surely a certainty now. Great… who cares? Kevin Owens was backstage with Renee Young who asked him for his reaction to what Sami Zayn had to say earlier in the night, Owens said it was all down to Shane McMahon and that he should be WWE Champion right now. He says how much Shane loves the spotlight and that if Sami can’t see Shane is to blame for all this then he has no problem teaching him a lesson and to open his eyes to see the truth. Good stuff this from Owens, once again was believable which means it was good. Naomi vs Carmella next. I lost interest with this match as soon as it all became about each woman pulling the others hair. I thought we had left that shit in 2008? Guess not… Carmella won when she pulled on the ring ropes to knock Naomi down and she pulled her to the ring floor hard and then pinned her. Crap all round here, and it’s a shame because Nomi is great and Carmella is excellent (her character work is really good and she’s improving all the time in-ring) but this was shit. Only notable thing here was Carmella openly teasing a cash in of her Money in The Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania… we shall see.

The show closed with Shane McMahon coming to the ring, apparently to make a big Wrestlemania announcement. He tells us all how he has had issues with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in the last few months (OH MY WORD SHANE WE FUCKING KNOW IT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR 3000 YEARS), and that his emotions had not been befitting the conduct of a Smackdown Commissioner, and that after numerous conversations with Daniel Bryan (who will return next week) he will be going it alone as he is taking a ‘leave of absence’ as Smackdown Live Commissioner, but before that he was making one match… KEVIN OWENS VS SAMI ZAYN AT WRESTLEMANIA! Owens comes out and says he finally agrees with a decision from Shane, with his leave, but that he can beat Sami Zayn but doesn’t have to wait till Wrestlemania. Zayn then comes out and says ‘thank god you’re leaving [Shane] etc. etc.’, Shane says he thought they’d be happy as he gave them an opportunity, Owens and Zayn then beat Shane down really aggressively, including one spot where Zayn got a steel chair as Owens held Shane, he set the chair up, they put Shane’s neck into it and rammed the chair against a ring post so that the impact crushed Shane’s throat and neck, there’s no way that doesn’t hurt even a little bit. They then dragged him all the way to the backstage area before Owens powerbombed McMahon onto some racking. Referees and emergency personnel attended to Shane as the show went off the air. I liked this, makes Owens and Zayn look good and Shane does a job of sorts on his way out (however long it is he’s gone for). Be interesting to see if it is just Owens vs Zayn or they do a handicap match involving Shane of some form or if they add any stipulation to it. I hope they do something like that anyway. Just to end this ever-lasting story if nothing else.

And that was Smackdown. Plenty to talk about that was on this show, some of it was great, some of it was just… there, and some of it was dreadful. But such is to be expected from a Smackdown show in 2018 I guess.

Key Points to Take Home

. I’m ready now, not sure how I’m going cope waiting until Wrestlemania for AJ vs Nakamura

. The Bludgeon Brothers have made it work

. Charlotte vs Asuka… enough said

. The US title scene STILL needs major help to get me interested

. I really wish the Shane/Owens/Zayn story would just conclude already I’m so over it now

Conclusion

Alexa Bliss on Raw this week referred to Smackdown as the “B show”. This was something that has always been labelled at Smackdown, due to the star power that Raw has always had. But Smackdown could always boast that it was ‘the land of opportunity’ that Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan always proclaim it to be. So as we go to Wrestlemania on Smackdown we have arguably the two most anticipated matches of the entire show with Asuka vs Charlotte and AJ vs Nakamura; all great stuff that I don’t think I need to convince anyone to be excited about. We have the Bludgeon Brothers on their way to the tag titles surely which will be a fun match if it even makes it to Mania, the US title scene despite the talent (and Jinder Mahal) it has the most boring creative and with that the US title match at Wrestlemania looks odds on at the moment to be my ‘bathroom break match’. I hope whatever they decide to do with Owens and Zayn next week with Daniel Bryan back is good, I love both Owens and Zayn but I’m becoming so bored of this whole thing now, hopefully before Mania they can re-ignite my interest.

What I’m trying to say is that going in to Wrestlemania it all seems very lop-sided towards Raw in terms of matches and good stories, and again I will say that there is so much potential on Smackdown to have a really good show start to finish that some of it is being wasted, because of lack of direction or no creative whatsoever. I get that Smackdown is an hour shorter than Raw and that may have a lot to do with it, but you had 5/6 names that were on the card for Fastlane that didn’t even appear on this show! What does that tell you about the ppv we all watched? Well it confirms that it was just a filler before Wrestlemania that’s for sure. I always have hope for Smackdown because of the vast array of very talented performers it has, the creative team I no longer have faith in for Smackdown though. I hope I’m wrong but I’m much more excited to watch Raw in the next few weeks than Smackdown. I don’t really see how anything that will affect Wrestlemania can happen between now and then, I feel as if we could just not have a Smackdown between now and then and nothing would be any different. I hope I’m proved wrong. I’m hopeful, but not expecting. I so want to like you Smackdown, PLEASE I BEG YOU; keep me engaged and interested for 2 hours and not thinking why this and that person and underutilised. It can’t be that difficult… surely..???

Josh.

Raw 12/3/18 Review: IT’S HAPPENING!!!

I don’t even know where to even begin with my review of this week’s Raw. It was an absolutely ridiculous show, not in a bad way just that soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much stuff happened. So I’ll try and summarise it all for you.

Kurt Angle came out to begin the show, he spoke briefly about his match at Wrestlemania before going on to the Universal Championship match. He then announces that Brock Lesnar won’t make it here tonight (the crowd boos, but I really like how this is being told)! As he continues to explain why Lesnar may or may not have not been able to make it tonight Roman Reigns music hits to interrupt him. Roman says he wishes he was surprised but he’s not, that Brock doesn’t respect anyone, and that is there going to be any repercussions for his (Brocks) actions? Roman continues saying Brock is “Vince’s boy” and that Vince McMahon is the real problem! He puts Vince down some more before storming to the back and entering GORILLA POSITION (the backstage area where all the high-ups sit that run the show) and CONFRONTS VINCE MCMAHON!!! Vince (with SHANE MCMAHON stood beside him) tries to calm Roman down, and yells for them to ‘go to commercial’ and he takes Roman to his office. And then they indeed went to commercial. After that Renee Young was outside Vince’s office, Roman came out but walked straight past her, Vince followed soon after and told Renee that Brock is not my boy, I reminded Roman that he should listen to the words of his cousin The Rock and ‘know your role, and shut his mouth’, he says Brock may not like people or respect the WWE universe but he does respect competition, that he’s earned his privileges but sometimes talents take advantage, and he says ‘you have my word’ when asked if Lesnar will appear on Raw next week, and also says that Roman Reigns has been temporarily suspended! … WOW OH WOW WHAT A START TO RAW! HOLY SHIT!!!

Next Absolution were in the ring, and Sasha Banks followed them out (with Bayley alongside her) for her match with Sonya Deville. This was a decent enough match, finish came when Mandy got on the apron to try and distract Sasha but was pulled down by Bayley, Sasha then hit the backstabber and the Banks Statement for the win. Bayley then immediately walks away after the match as Sasha looks on confused. Absolution then surround the ring and attack Sasha (no Bayley save). I liked this, I just hope they blow it off with a match at Mania between the two and not on a Raw… please… Miz TV was next, Miz was out minus Dallas & Axel who were preparing for a match later apparently, before he then welcomes out his guests Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. The Miz then tries to cause friction between the two challengers for his Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania, but the two of them see through it and although they do talk some smack to one another they do eventually attack The Miz. Seth though then hits Balor down to the floor and a match is set up between Balor and Rollins for later in the night. OK segment. Match at Mania should be good. The Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro made their way to the ring next as their ongoing open challenge storyline continues, and before they can compete in their match against The Miztourage both Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel attack The Bar. They brawl and then one after another are joined by The Revival, Gallows & Anderson, Titus Worldwide and Heath Slater & Rhyno whom all beat down on the champions before they retreat. (How weak is Raw’s tag division right now? It saddens me so much).

JOHN CENA made his way to the ring next. He tells the crowd that less than 4 weeks away he has finally found his road to Wrestlemania, he says he’s got no excuses for his failure to get the job done with his previous shots at a Mania spot, and says he’s here tonight to ‘tell you I will not contribute to Wrestlemania this year’. He continues saying that he’s not quitting but instead he’s simply going to Wrestlemania this year as a fan. He goes into the crowd, chants along with them including one part where he tried to get a “LETS GO ROMAN” chant going, which didn’t work (I found this really funny as Cena obviously knew it wouldn’t go well with that one). He also had a sip from the drink of a fan’s beer, which was… different… He got back in the ring and tried to get a “LETS GO CENA” chant started as according to him the fans needed to get it out the way before Wrestlemania as they wouldn’t have the chance to do it there. AND THEN… Cena says he’s going to do something right now he’s ‘not supposed to’ but “what’s the worst that could happen?”… I CHALLENGE THE UNDERTAKER TO A MATCH AT WRESTLEMANIA!!! (CROWD GOES APE SHIT)! Cena continues on repeating his challenge 3 times, his point being that WWE hadn’t turned his mic off, so that it wasn’t the WWE that were making the match not happen, it was THE UNDERTAKER HIMSELF! He tells Undertaker to ‘get over you own ego, … the difference between you and me is when I fail I get back up, when you fail you hide’, ‘you are not too old, washed up and broken down, ‘if you were broken down you wouldn’t post work-out videos on your wife’s Instagram’ (I particularly liked this line), and that the only thing that was stopping this from happening was the fact that The Undertaker is a self-centred, ego-maniac! He asks the crowd if they want to see The Undertaker ‘kick my ass’ at Wrestlemania and then asks if they want to see The Undertaker Tombstone me at Wrestlemania? The crowd obviously responds with delight. Speaking directly to The Undertaker Cena says “they want to see it, I want to see you try it, you will see me at Wrestlemania, I’m either going as a fan or as your opponent”. “The ball is in your court deadman, time to see if you’re still alive” (really liked that line too). “I know what I’d do, I’d want one more match”. He drops his mic and then leaves to the back…………………………………………. WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOOOOOOOOOOOW!!! IT IS HAPPENING!!! Cena absolutely smashed this out of the ballpark, great stuff!

Next up after that is Sheamus and Cesaro backstage with Raw GM Kurt Angle. They moan to him about the attack they suffered earlier, and the fact they have beaten everyone on the Raw tag team roster. They moan further about their treatment on Raw and request a trade to Smackdown to compete against the Bludgeon Brothers, The New Day, The Usos or even Breezango. Angle rejects their request saying they will not be traded, and says they will find out their Wrestlemania opponents tonight in a tag team battle royal! OK then… let’s bear with it for now… We then had a recap of the Symphony of Destruction match last week between Braun Strowman and Elias. Elias is then in the ring, his usual set up (stool, spotlight etc.) but is unable to play his guitar and give his usual performance as his arm is in a sling after his crushing loss to Braun Strowman last week. “This is your fault” he tells the crowd as he then slumps off, very sad and very slow (great stuff this). We cut straight to a Braun promo backstage, he questions how he hasn’t got a match yet at Wrestlemania? He says he’s not going to beg and that he will carve his own path and he guarantees that at Wrestlemania someone is going to “GET THESE HANDS!”… I hope so Braun, I really do.

Next match was Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor (IC Champion The Miz was shown watching this one backstage by the way). Fun match, very even contest between 2 very talented performers. I did feel they both have so much more in the locker than they showed here, but nonetheless it was fine. Really hard hitting match finished when after Balor and Seth brawled on the top rope it was Rollins who got the advantage by hitting Finn with a Superplex. Balor though was able to catch Seth and roll through into an inside cradle to pin Rollins and pick up the win. This was fine as I said but I expected more to be honest. Commentary did note how even these two are, and they were not wrong here. Whilst I speak about the commentators, how AWFUL is Jonathan Coachman!? He’s just so, so bad for a number of reasons. BRING BACK BOOKER T I SAY!!! At least he was fun to listen to and engaging, Coach is just dreadful and sounds so awkward. We then had the announcement of the ‘Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal’ at Wrestlemania. Basically this will be an all women match, over the top rope elimination style, featuring superstars from all THREE brands (so Raw, Smackdown AND NXT). The less said about who this has been named after the better. A legendary name for sure, but just google her past and some of the stuff she has done for more insight… questionable to say the least… but with the actual match I think this is a perfect platform to bring up and showcase some of the female superstars in NXT and just how good they are, and I hope one of the NXT roster actually wins the match on their main roster debut, ala Baron Corbin and the Andre battle royal a few years back.

ASUKA the current WWE lady of my Heart (oh and she won the Women’s Royal Rumble, oh and she’s amazing) comes out next. Charlie Caruso interviews her in the ring and asks her why she challenged Charlotte for Wrestlemania? As Asuka goes to explain her decision she is interrupted by the arrival of the Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss (and her sidekick Mickie James). Bliss (who really once again was superb in terms of her performance of this bitch character she’s playing) basically said that the reason Asuka chose Charlotte for Wrestlemania and not her was that she’s smart and that she wanted to keep her streak, and knew she couldn’t if she faced her at Wrestlemania. Mickie James then mockingly reminded us all that Asuka is the empress of tomorrow and that nobody is ready for Asuka (I found her really annoying and cringey here I don’t know why). Asuka responds to Alexa telling her she was smart for choosing to challenge “the B show’s champion” at Wrestlemania by saying that “I chose Charlotte because to be the women, you’ve got to beat the women… I want to face the best champion in WWE”. YES YES YES Asuka, this was really good dialogue from her, she should always do short, sharp stuff as it helps her character so much, and this here was so effective you really believed everything she said. Bliss would go on to reject Asuka’s challenge of a match right now, instead saying Asuka gets to face ‘this woman’ …. (we all expected Nia Jax to come out at this point but instead we got nobody). Alexa and Mickie then push and then kick Asuka respectively before after the ad break a match between Mickie James and Asuka is made.

Mickie was on top early before Asuka regained control with a series of kicks, James tried to escape through the crowd but Asuka chased her, Asuka then went to kick James against the ringpost but Mickie moved and Asuka hit the ringpost fully to hurt her leg, she would then only make the refs 10 count narrowly at 8 to keep her undefeated streak intact, James targeted the injured leg some more, Asuka almost got the Asuka lock in but James flipped it into a pin attempt that got a 2 count, Asuka went on the offensive with more hard leg and knee strikes, both women went to the top rope which ended with Mickie hitting a Sunset flip Powerbomb on Asuka that got another nearfall. Finish came when James missed her Mick kick, allowing Asuka time to get the Asuka Lock in and James tapped out. Furious at the outcome Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss stormed off. She would eventually confront Nia Jax who was in a backstage dressing room, she asked her “where the hell were you?”, to which Nia responded saying Kurt Angle told her not to go out as she had a match to prepare for, Alexa told her that she did this for her to give her an opportunity to redeem herself after her ‘embarrassing loss’ last week, she told Nia that she loved her, Nia said she loved her too, Bliss then wanted to know if next week when she faces Asuka if she will have her in her corner? To which Jax said that she would be (So Asuka is going to be on Raw and Smackdown for now then…). Indeed next up was Nia’s aforementioned match that she won against a random jobber in less than a minute, after the match was the main segment though…

Alexa Bliss and Mickie James were shown on the titantron backstage talking amongst themselves; James told Bliss some of the stuff she said to Nia she couldn’t believe she said, Bliss said that well, the ‘truth hurts’, Mickie says ‘I almost died when you spoke about how people look at her’, Bliss compared Nia to SHREK and told Mickie that Jax was happy ‘to carry my bags’ and that the truth was the she uses Nia. She went on briefly after this but you get the idea, it’s a cheap way to make this feud a thing yes, using the fat-shaming stuff, but it’s a sure-fire way to get heat on Alexa so there’s that. Charlie Caruso then arrives in the backstage area for her supposed interview with Bliss and James, but reveals to them both that the microphones have been on this whole time and everybody heard all of what they just said. Bliss and James then make a quick exit as Nia Jax makes her way from the ring (firstly upset but then furiously). Nia trashes the dressing room area in a furious rage, screaming at the top of her voice as she does it and genuinely seeming absolutely distraught. I really want Nia to win at Mania in about 30 seconds. I’ve thought Nia should’ve been Women’s Champion or at least in with a shot for some time, but either way once this is made official I’ll be very happy about a Wrestlemania encounter between the two.

Next up we had a video package explaining the whole WOKEN Matt Hardy – Bray Wyatt feud. The upcoming ULTIMATE DELETION match that will emanate from the Hardy Compound was explained in a filmed package by the WOKEN one himself; he reveals that all his assailants from the BROKEN universe of that god-forsaken wasteland known as TNA will feature; Senior Benjamin, Queen Rebecca, King Maxel, Lord Wolfgang and vanguard1 (his miniature flying aircraft)… EVERYTHING from the BROKEN universe will feature, WONDERFUL! All of this in WWE, before it was just a dream of mine but now it’s happening I’m overjoyed (if you have any questions about this then please ask, or google it, because to explain the entire BROKEN/WOKEN storyline I’d need 3 or 4 blogs to tell the whole story, but if you have followed it all the way as I have you’ll be enthralled for this Ultimate Deletion match). Bray did a good little promo after accepting Hardy’s challenge, but finished by saying it would be terrible if something were to happen to his family (and yes IRL the people featured in this segment were Matt’s actual family members; Maxel and Wolfgang are his sons, Rebecca is his wife and Senior Benjamin is Rebecca’s Dad). I’m all for all of this so only positive stuff to say. Can’t wait to see what a match at the Hardy Compound looks like in WWE. After this we had Kurt Angle backstage having to convince one of the referees to officiate the match next week, he wasn’t too keen to say the least… but NEXT WEEK IT IS ALL GOING DOWN!!!! I CANNOT WAIT!!!

AND FINALLY we had the main event. The Bar were on commentary as the participants were already in the ring for this tag team battle royal; The Revival vs Titus Worldwide vs Gallows & Anderson vs Heath Slater & Rhyno and the winners facing the Raw Tag Team Champions at Wrestlemania. Before the match could start though BRAUN STROWMAN came out! He demanded the ref start the match and he did, and of course in 10 minutes or so BRAUN STROWMAN WON! So indeed seemingly now he will face The Bar… yes I’m well aware he is just 1 man and not a tag team… and yes the ref just let him in the match anyway… I’m glad Braun and The Bar will have something at Wrestlemania, if it’s a handicap match (Braun as tag champion by himself seems far too bizarre) or he gets a partner remains to be seen but I’m sure that’ll be sorted in due course. But this match was not just a reminder of how cool Braun is (not that we needed one) but how absolutely dire the Raw Tag division is right now. Apart from The Bar absolutely NONE of these teams have got any form of decent booking for a LONG time. It’s sad because The Revival and Gallows & Anderson in particular are great, just not been given the platform or enough time to be made to look it.

And that was Raw. About as eventful an episode as you’re likely to get. God knows how they fit it all in, but they did and I enjoyed watching it. Wrestlemania is certainly taking shape to be an incredibly stacked card.

Key Points to Take Home

. Whoever is writing this Roman-Brock build deserves a raise

. Alexa Bliss is too good at being a bitch in character, which considering she’s lovely irl is an impressive feat

. The Ultimate Deletion will be an absolute madness!

. WTF IS GOING ON WITH BRAUN?

. JOHN CENA VS UNDERTAKER; IT’S HAPPENING!!!

Conclusion

So on the Raw side of things it seems the Wrestlemania card has taken shape; Roman v Brock (great build so far, I’d absolutely love it if we don’t see Lesnar until Mania that’d do so much for the story they want to tell), Kurt & Ronda (where on earth was she this week?) vs HHH & Stephanie (fine, but please don’t put it on last at Mania WWE as has been rumoured), Miz vs Seth vs Finn which will be a decent match, Nia vs Alexa surely (in slight bad taste this story but it’s effective) and maybe Bayley vs Sasha too (LONG OVERDUE on the main roster, but would like that to step up a gear in the next few weeks before). Add to that whatever Sheamus and Cesaro vs Braun Strowman ends up being and you have a pretty impressive card. We still need to get there of course, and that means a few weeks still of build-up. The way those stories are set right now leaves me in no doubt the next few weeks of tv will be absolutely fascinating and enthralling (this means they will be awful now I’ve said that). Add the small matter of the ULTIMATE DELETION next week and it should be pretty special viewing.

Anything else I’ve missed???

Oh yeah…

IT’S HAPPENING!!! IT’S HAPPENING!!! JOHN CENA VS THE UNDERTAKER IS HAPPENING! When we will actually see The Deadman I’m unsure. Those of you who recall Bray Wyatt’s challenge to The Phenom in 2015 the year after the streak ended will recall that entire build was all Bray, we didn’t actually see The Undertaker himself until that Mania. But nonetheless whatever the case may be I trust those involved to do it well. Cena has been killing it recently even by his lofty standards, so I trust him eternally to do this justice. And let’s all just rejoice one more time… because IT’S HAPPENING!!! IT’S HAPPENING; JOHN CENA VS THE UNDERTAKER AT WRESTLEMANIA 34!!! AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

Josh.