Becky Lynch: from WWE’s 4th favourite Horsewoman to the Main Event of WrestleMANia

Rebecca Quin (fka Rebecca Knox aka Becky Lynch) got her start in professional wrestling in June 2002 by training at the school opened in her native Ireland by fellow-Irish wrestlers Paul Tracey and a certain Fergal Devitt… whatever happened to him I wonder… She would make her in-ring debut 5 months later. A run in the independent wrestling scene would follow until in September 2006 Quin sustained a serious injury whilst competing in Germany. She would then only compete or even appear in any capacity on any wrestling show on a minimal number of occasions during what was otherwise a hiatus totaling six years.

In April of 2013 Quin was given the new in-ring name of Becky Lynch upon signing with the WWE to be part of their ‘developmental’ brand NXT. Lynch would make her televised in-ring debut in June 2014 in a win over Summer Rae. One week later she would team with Bayley in a tag team match against Sasha Banks and the then NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte… wonder if those 4 women will cross paths again… Across the next few months Becky Lynch would be booked to lose in championship matches to Charlotte on 3 separate occasions. In October of that year Lynch would turn on Bayley in order to align herself with Sasha Banks. However Lynch’s loyalty to Banks would then be repaid by Sasha then double-crossing her back as Banks cost Becky a match against Bayley. The various permutations and conflicts between the 4 top contenders would culminate in a Fatal 4 Way match at NXT Takeover: RIVAL that would see Sasha Banks come out on top against Lynch, Bayley and former champion Charlotte to win the NXT Women’s title. Lynch would go on to earn an opportunity to challenge Banks by winning a triple threat match against Bayley and Charlotte. This would lead to a match that would see Becky lynch challenge champion Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. The match itself was widely acclaimed as being a good match but it would see Lynch fail in her first title singles match in WWE.

On the 13th July edition of Monday Night Raw Becky Lynch would make her main roster televised debut. She was brought up alongside both Charlotte and Sasha Banks by Stephanie McMahon as part of the ‘Divas Evolution’. Lynch and Charlotte aligned themselves with Paige to create Team PCB. The trio feuded with the teams of Team Bella (Nikki Bella, Brie Bella and Alicia Fox) and Team BAD (Sasha Banks, Naomi and Tamina). This firstly led to a tag team match between Becky Lynch and Paige against Sasha and Naomi on the 20th July Raw. In her first match on the main roster Becky Lynch was on the losing team. Over the next few weeks the 3 trios would be in a series of singles and tag matches against each other that were booked fairly evenly result wise. It would be finally decided which was the most dominant women’s trio in a 3 way tag team elimination match at Summerslam 2015. The match would finish with Lynch pinning Brie Bella to win her match for her team in what was her PPV debut. Meanwhile Lynch was still a part of the NXT roster and would lose to Bayley on the edition of NXT shown on 12th August 2015 in a match to decide who would challenge NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn at the Barclays Center (in what would be the first NXT Takeover to take place away from Full Sail University). Also in a match filmed prior to Takoever: Brooklyn that was then shown as part of the 26th August NXT Lynch would be pinned by Emma in a fatal 4 way match involving Dana Brooke and Charlotte. After the match Charlotte put Dana Brooke in the Figure Eight, while Becky Lynch put Emma in the Dis-arm-her. Nonetheless it would see Lynch lose in what was her final appearance in NXT before she became a part of the main roster full time. Becky Lynch would leave NXT as the only member of group that would go on to be known as the Four Horsewomen to never to be crowned the NXT Women’s Champion and to never be booked to win a match at an NXT Takeover event.

After Charlotte won the Divas Championship Night of Champions 2015, the next night on Raw during her celebrations, Paige turned on both her Team PCB teammates saying Charlotte was only there because of her father and that Lynch was the “least relevant” member of the group. In November Paige pinned Lynch in a fatal 4 way match to earn a shot at Charlotte’s Divas title. Charlotte would retain her title but then on the November 30th Raw she feigned injury to beat her ‘friend’ Lynch. The two would become increasingly at odds and after Becky finally got a win over Charlotte on the January 4th 2016 Raw it was the Divas Champion who attacked The Irishwoman afterwards and finally confirmed her turn on her former friend. Becky Lynch would then get 2 opportunities to challenge Charlotte for the Divas Championship, on an episode of Smackdown and then at the 2016 Royal Rumble PPV. After interference from Charlotte’s father Ric Flair, Lynch was screwed booking wise and therefore lost both of her title challenges.

Following the Royal Rumble PPV in which Sasha Banks made her return to confront champion Charlotte, The Boss teamed with Lynch in a tag team feud with her former teammates Naomi and Tamina. This culminated in a win for Lynch and Banks against the two at the Fastlane 2016 PPV. The following night on Raw a match was set up between Sasha and Becky that ended with a double pin, and a rematch on the following Smackdown was interrupted by Charlotte attacking both, and so a triple threat was made. And so at Wrestlemania 32, in front of 100,000 people in AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas we had Champion Charlotte Vs Sasha Banks Vs Becky Lynch for the newly-created WWE Women’s Championship that was replacing the former Divas Championship. The match itself was excellent, but of course Lynch tapped out to Charlotte. Although for once I can say this was maybe the right finish, as Banks was crazy-over and Charlotte was the one they wanted to be the big star, but once again Lynch was the after-thought in WWE’s eyes anyway.

With Charlotte as champion now and with Dana Brooke now by her side, Natalya was set up as her next challenger. At the Money In The Bank PPV in June 2016 Charlotte and Dana Brooke beat Natalya and Becky in a tag match where Charlotte pinned Natalya. Lynch comforted her beaten partner afterwards, but then Natalya turned on her for seemingly no reason. The two feuded after that ended when Natalya beat Lynch at Battleground the next month and the last PPV before the 2016 draft was bought into effect and Lynch made Smackdown her permanent WWE home. Becky was the first female drafted to Smackdown and started her stay on the blue brand well by beating Natalya in their rematch, but then was on the losing team in a 6 woman’s tag match at Summerslam when a returning Nikki Bella won the match for her team with Alexa Bliss and Natalya against Carmella, Naomi and Lynch. BUT… FINALLY… AT LONG LAST… Becky Lynch got her moment… On September 11th 2016; on the same glorious night that AJ Styles won his first WWE Championship; Becky Lynch won a six-pack elimination challenge to become the first Smackdown Women’s Champion! She then successfully defended the title against Alexa Bliss before she was the final woman eliminated in the Women’s Smackdown vs Raw 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match… because Team Raw’s women had to win… yes, as you might be able to figure out… Becky was a 2nd fiddle again… she was women’s champion yes, but on the B show, meanwhile over on Raw Charlotte and Sasha were feuding for their Women’s title and main eventing PPVs… sigh… ANYWAY Lynch’s glory wouldn’t last long as she lost the title to Alexa Bliss at the TLC ppv at the close of 2016. The finish in the tables match was… well… it was clunky and came out of nowhere. Lynch was champion for 84 days. At this stage Bayley had held championships for a combined 223 days, Sasha for 263 and Charlotte for 639! … just for context…

Becky (who masked herself as ‘La Luchadora’) beat Bliss in a non-title match to earn her rematch which she got on the January 17th Smackdown. In what was a Steel Cage Match Becky Lynch lost after interference from another ‘La Luchadora’ revealed herself as Mickie James. Becky’s next championship opportunity would come on the 22nd February Smackdown where she would face Alexa Bliss after Naomi had to vacate the title. Lynch lost after Bliss pinned her with a serious hold on her tights. Becky went on to take part in the six-pack challenge for the championship at Wrestlemania 33, in which former champion Naomi regained the title. The next month after in May, the superstar shakeup bought Charlotte Flair to Smackdown and this led to Lynch teaming with Flair and Naomi against ‘The Welcoming Committee’: Natalya, Carmella and Tamina. This led to a 6 woman’s tag match at Backlash. Natalya submitted Becky Lynch with the Sharpshooter to win the match for her team. Lynch went on to compete the next month in the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. It was won by Carmella after Lynch looked to be climbing the ladder and retrieve the briefcase but JAMES ELLSWORTH (Carmella’s manager) pushed the ladder down and dropped the briefcase to Carmella to give her the win. After the controversial finish a rematch was ordered, which Carmella won again. At the Battleground PPV there was a fatal five-way elimination match to determine who would face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Summerslam. The match featured Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya and Lana. Lynch scored the first elimination by making Tamina tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her, then did the same to Lana immediately afterwards, but then was pinned by Natalya who rolled Lynch up and held her tights whilst getting the elimination. Becky Lynch then took no part in either the Summerslam or Hell In A Cell PPVs. Towards the end of October Becky won a 5 way match between herself, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Tamina and Carmella to become the Team Captain for the Smackdown women’s team at the upcoming Survivor Series. She also defeated JAMES ELLSWORTH in a match on the Smackdown in the UK to end his first WWE run. She also was a part of the various invasions of Smackdown to Raw as the brand rivalry built towards the PPV… and then in the women’s match… Becky Lynch as team captain was the first competitor eliminated and her team lost. Towards the end of 2017 Lynch was alongside Charlotte and Naomi in combating the newly-debuted ‘Riott Squad’ (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan)… but in 2017 Becky Lynch did A LOT of not winning and where she did win it either A. didn’t mean much of anything long term or B. wasn’t made a big deal of or she had to do the job back not long after. Becky continued to play 2nd fiddle.

Lynch was part of history when she took part in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match in 2018. This also marked the first time women closed a big 4 PPV. Becky entered at Number 2 and lasted over half an hour, eliminating Lita (not a full time superstar) and Vickie Guerrero (one of 4 that eliminated her) before she was eliminated by Ruby Riott. She then had a mixed bag of results on the early Smackdown of the year before she teamed with Naomi to take on Carmella and Natalya in a tag team match at Fastlane. Of course they lost and of course Becky got pinned after she was distracted by Natalya with Mella’s MITB case and then Carmella superkicked her for the pin. She had another mixed bag of results ahead of taking part in the Women’s Battle Royal on the kick off show of Wrestlemania 34. She didn’t win of course, was eliminated by Mickie James and she wasn’t really one of the key player sin the story of the multi-woman match. Meanwhile Bayley and Sasha were in the final 3 and Charlotte got a big singles win on the main show to retain her title. Following Wrestlemania Becky teamed with Asuka in a loss to The IIconics (yes, indeed ASUKA and Becky Lynch lost to THE IICONICS…) , was on the winning team in a 6 woman’s tag, and then… despite having her friend Sonya Deville barred from ringside… Mandy Rose (in her Smackdown singles match debut) pinned Becky in less than 3 minutes… Lynch though kind of recovered by winning a triple threat match against Deville and Rose to qualify for the Women’s MITB Ladder Match. Her momentum continued the next week when she beat Charlotte clean. She helped Charlotte back to her feet after in a sign of mutual respect heading in to the PPV. The next week Becky was on the winning team heading in to the PPV in a 10 woman tag match that saw Asuka, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Lana & Naomi beat the team of Billie Kay, Carmella, Mandy Rose, Peyton Royce & Sonya Deville. It was Alexa Bliss who won the Women’s MITB match in a very entertaining match…

and then… IT ALL BEGAN TO CHANGE!!!

Becky Lynch quietly began to build a winning streak, with Smackdown TV wins over Billie Kay, Sonya Deville, Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose and the then Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella as well as wins in tag team matches alongside Charlotte against The IIconics and then Rose and Deville. This led up to Summerslam where it was supposed to be Lynch one on one with Carmella for the title, but… somehow… Charlotte Flair managed to big-time her way into it and it was suddenly a triple threat match. Going in to the event it seemed the level of support behind Lynch was higher than it ever had been, with the general consensus being that she had earned her time in the spotlight as well as an appreciation for her recent winning run. And so we went to the Barclays Center with ALL the momentum behind Becky Lynch… AND… Charlotte Flair pinned Lynch after a Natural Selection to win the title. And so with Flair now champion she was face-to-face with Becky in the ring… and after initially showing respect for her friend Becky then “turned heel” by attacking the new title holder, reducing her to tears. The crowd went wild for this as they finally got to see the side of Becky they had always wanted. One that didn’t stand for being 2nd best anymore. On the next week’s Smackdown Lynch blamed the crowd and the fans for her position, saying that they weren’t really supporting her the whole time and that she was being denied opportunities which were always being handed to Charlotte Flair. Everyone in the aftermath was confused; we had never not supported Lynch, she had fastly become one of the most popular women on the roster, but unlike previous when WWE would blindly turn a character face/heel regardless of what the fans wanted they very quickly edited the version of Lynch’s promo were she went in on the fans and thus it was never referred to again. She was still a heel (for now) but they’d already after one promo toned it down and changed course slightly. Feeling robbed of her championship opportunity Becky got her singles match with Charlotte at the Hell in a Cell PPV. And for the first time on PPV Becky Lynch pinned Charlotte Flair. Becky Lynch was the new Smackdown Women’s Champion! The crowd were ecstatic, and after the match Lynch defiantly shunned the handshake offered by Charlotte much to the delight of the fans. Lynch continued to stand up for herself in the face of the previously all-conquering Charlotte and managed to keep her title in two title defenses; losing by DQ at the show in Australia and keeping her belt again via a double count-out on the October 9th Smackdown in which the title could’ve changed hands was Lynch to get DQ’d again. And so we then looked towards the first ever all women’s WWE PPV; Evolution. Becky Lynch as the huge crowd favourite by now against Charlotte Flair (who probably got the biggest heel reaction of the show) in a Last Woman Standing Match. Lynch won what was an all-time classic women’s match, widely regarded as being excellent, to retain her title. On a night when all eyes were on the women of WWE… THE MAN was born!

With her moniker of being THE MAN now in full swing, Lynch was the hottest star in the company. THE MAN doesn’t take no for an answer, THE MAN doesn’t take shit from anyone, THE MAN doesn’t try and grab the brass ring, THE MAN rips that brass ring down and beats people up with it. And THE MAN was due to lead the Smackdown Women’s division in to Survivor Series for the now annual set of matches against Raw. Lynch was scheduled as Smackdown Women’s Champion to take on Raw’s Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. The match was being spoken about in such high terms that many even thought it would close the show, such was Rousey and more so actually Lynch’s popularity at the time. On the 12th November episode of Raw, the final one before Survivor Series, Lynch led the Smackdown women’s division in to an invasion and attack on the Raw women’s locker room. Lynch had Rousey in a Dis-Arm-Her as the rest of the women brawled in the ring before Lynch and then Rousey joined in an all out brawl. Lynch and the Smackdown women then retreated and Lynch stood in the stands with the fans with a bloodied yet defiant reaction in what has now become an iconic image. The bloodied face was as the result of a stray punch by Nia Jax during the melee, that actually caused Becky to suffer a broken nose and a concussion. Rumours swirled the internet in the following hours, and then on the next night’s Smackdown it was confirmed Lynch was hurt and would be unable to face Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series. On the eve of the biggest and most hyped match of her career, Lynch was out. Lynch chose Charlotte as her replacement and her and Rousey had a great match that ended with Flair delivering a beatdown to Ronda with a Kendo Stick for the DQ.

People have begun to compare Becky’s current THE MAN run to Stone Cole Steve Austin. Well if Lynch is Stone Cold then this was her Summerslam 1997-Owen Hart-Tombstone-neck injury moment. A blessing in disguise if there ever was one.

THE MAN returned on the 27th November Smackdown and received a thunderous welcome “and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, the man has come back around” Corey Graves on commentary quipped. She was not long after interrupted by Charlotte and after the two went back and forth General Manager Paige later in the show made a Battle Royal to see who would join the two of them in the title match at the next PPV. The Battle Royal was won by Asuka and so the match was set to be a triple threat Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, a first for women in WWE. The next week the three women took part in a contract signing for the match, before being interrupted by Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville that led to Asuka and Charlotte teamming in a tag match against the two with THE MAN watching on from ringside, which after a mix up between the two title challengers led to Deville pinning Charlotte. The animosity continued on the go-home show when after a match between Asuka and Charlotte ended when Flair attacked her opponent with a Kendo Stick and then Becky (who was on commentary) joined in the brawl, concluding with Asuka standing tall after hitting both The Queen and THE MAN with the Kendo Stick multiple times. At the show (Lynch also had a backstage segment where she got one back on Nia by dropping her after Jax had lost her match on the show) the match went on last, as it should have as it was by far the most hyped match going in, and it was excellent. These 3 women tore the house down and brutalized eachother. It reached a krushendo when Lynch and Flair were both a-top a ladder, and then Ronda Rousey (whom of course had beef with them both with Flair’s attack on her following their Survivor Series match and Lynch who had her in the Dis-Arm-her during the Raw invasion) ran out and pushed the ladder down knocking both women off. This then allowed for Asuka to grab the title and become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion, ending Lynch’s 2nd reign at 91 days. Lynch closed the year with a segment on the next Smackdown where she was angry Ronda cost her her title, and then the next week she teamed with John Cena winning against Andrade and Zelina Vega, with Lynch getting one up over Cena in probably the highest pedestal you could get. despite ending the year without a title Becky Lynch probably had her bust full year in WWE so far…

Becky began 2019 by winning a triple threat match against Charlotte and Carmella to earn her re-match against Asuka. This was odd as the match was confirmed previously, but they played it off storyline-wise by having former GM Paige say she tried to make the match before she left her position but it was turned down. In reality it was down to a communication era between different departments in the WWE, nonetheless the match was made and happened anyway. Lynch also tapped out Peyton Royce heading towards the Royal Rumble PPV… And then… the 2019 Royal Rumble happened… Asuka as champion defending against Lynch opened the main show of the PPV. I thought it was a really good match, with the crowd cheering Becky hugely. But in the end Lynch tapped out… in a PPV opener where she was the most popular person on the card, Becky Lynch lost clean in the first match of the show. 

But… BECKY’S NIGHT WAS NOT OVER YET!!!

During the Women’s Royal Rumble Match Lana entered at number 28… but she didn’t. On the kick off show Lana had been hurt during her Husband Rusev’s match and when she came out here she was really hobbling and looked very upset due to the pain. Medics and officials saw to her as the match went on, and then the crowd suddenly exploded… Becky Lynch came marching out demanding to WWE official, and fellow Irishman, Fit Finlay that she be allowed to enter the match as a replacement for the injured Lana. After a back-and-forth Finlay eventually agreed and let Lynch enter as the crowd went crazy. THE MAN was in the Royal Rumble Match! After match had very much… struggled… up to that point Lynch seemed to breathe new life into it as the crowd were near non-stop invested and cheering for Becky. In the end Lynch through out her rival Nia Jax and lastly her former best friend Charlotte Flair to win the 2nd Women’s Royal Rumble Match. WWE finally did it, their fans wanted something to happen and they did it. THE MAN was going to WrestleMANia!!!

Well… she was going, then she wasn’t, now she is again. It was Becky Lynch Vs Ronda Rousey, then it was Charlotte Flair Vs Ronda Rousey, and then now we finally have the match (the match that was always the plan all along by the way regardless of what was happening on TV); THE MAN Becky Lynch Vs The Queen Charlotte Flair Vs the Raw Women’s Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey, in what will be the main event. The road to WrestleMANia has been… interesting if not weird at times. In fact it appears only the two top matches were planned to be on the card any significant time in advance. Yes in 2019 we have the incredible set of circumstances that has seen WRESTLEMANIA be pretty much thrown together you could say. But lets just rejoice that THE MAN is in the match we all wanted… well some people are pissed that Charlotte is involved but not me. Ronda is probably leaving afterwards right? So really it benefits WWE two-fold to be able to say they have TWO women who ere in the first female main event of Wrestlemanai that one right? And you can’t tell me CHARLOTTE FLAIR is going to take down the match’s quality AT ALL, the best female performer in WWE history in my opinion. Of course it’s all good me saying this and that it’ll all be fine, but I hope WWE have learnt form the past how much damage could be done here. We’re at the point now where I think to the live crowd in MetLife Stadium and to everyone watching around the world just waiting to tweet all their hate to WWE; if Becky Lynch doesn’t end Wrestlemania as the Raw Women’s Champion A LOT and probably a huge majority of people will be furious!!! Come one WWE, you buried Becky enough in her first few years in the company up until last summer. Now she’s on the best run any female in your company may ever have had, DO NOT fuck this up now when she is on the verge of immortality. You can only do something for the first time once, so lets make sure the first time is done RIGHT!

WWE; you have been warned! Becky Lynch MUST win the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMANia.

Josh.

WWE week in review – April 27 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

Josh.

WWE week in review – April 20 2018

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

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

Also going to Raw =

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

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

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

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

Smackdown 27/3/2018 Review: KNEE TO FACE

Smackdown this week would see the fallout unfold of the incredibly emotional announcement of Daniel Bryan being cleared to return to in-ring competition, and what will happen after the subsequent attack the Smackdown General Manager suffered at the hands of Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens. We will also see more build up to the WWE Championship dream match, as well as what will happen with the rest of the Smackdown Live roster on the road to Wrestlemania.

Now a couple of disclaimer’s before we start:

  • Shane McMahon is legitimately in hospital at the moment. Having suffered an acute bout of Diverticulitis as well as a Hernia whilst on holiday with family. As you will see later tonight though this WILL NOT affect any potential Wrestlemania plans
  • Charlotte Flair is also not on the show tonight, and was also replaced in the Mixed Match Challenge semi-final later in the evening. She had minor dental surgery last week and so is being rested. She will also NOT miss Wrestlemania (there was a video package shown during the show promoting her match with Asuka so it’s definitely still on, do not worry).

NOW THEN… on with the show!!!

The show itself began with a video package showing the Bryan/Owens/Zayn stuff from last week, with Corey Graves telling us that we would hear from Daniel Bryan tonight about if he would be able to fight through his injuries, following last week’s attack.

The first match of the show was supposed to be a tag match pitting the United States Champion Randy Orton & former champion Bobby Roode vs the other man in the triple threat at Wrestlemania; Jinder Mahal, and his loyal servant Sunil Singh. However Sunil came out with his arm in a sling and his neck in a brace, with Jinder saying Sunil was hurt by Orton & Roode last week. Mahal would then introduce his new partner… RUSEV! This got a huge pop from the crowd (and a little jump for joy from me watching), although Sunil would still get physical in the match only to be batted away by both Orton and Roode. After an ad break the animosity between Orton and Bobby Roode was clear to see and this allowed Rusev to take advantage by hitting Orton with a kick, Roode eventually hit Mahal with a Spinebuster but the cover was broken up by Rusev, who then was ready to stop Orton interfering but Randy chose not to help his tag team partner/Wrestlemania opponent. He would eventually tag himself in, and whilst Mahal was ready to attack Orton from behind… Bobby Roode made the save! The alliance was halted when Mahal shoved Roode into the US Champion, something Randy thought Bobby had done on purpose, and so Orton gave his tag team partner an RKO, which then allowed Rusev to hit the Machka Kick and Rusev got the pinfall for his team. YES you heard me, RUSEV GOT A PINFALL WIN!!! Decent match to open the show, Rusev’s added involvement made what had been a dying feud that little bit better it needed to be. Shortly after Jinder and Sunil Singh were seen celebrating the win backstage, and they then ran into both Rusev and his operatic-ally Aiden English. Mahal invited them both to his US title celebration party after Wrestlemania, but Rusev responded by saying he was about to find Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan and ask that he turn the United States championship match at Wrestlemania into a fatal-4-way match (which given he had just pinned the champion would make sense to be fair)! Aiden English then sang to us all that it would be “RUSEVMANIA”! Jinder was furious and ordered Singh to take of his neck brace, he was not happy, but I most definitely will be if this 4-way is made official!!!

Backstage in the locker room area, the men’s Royal Rumble 2018 winner Shinsuke Nakamura (saying that still makes me so happy) was with the WWE Champion & Wrestlemania opponent AJ Styles. Nakamura asked Styles ‘are you ok?’ to which AJ said he didn’t know what he was talking about. Shinsuke explained that as Styles chose not to help him last week, when he was getting attacked by Rusev and English, and wondered if this was because he had lost confidence him beating him at Mania. Styles quickly came back saying that his confidence ‘is never an issue’. Shinsuke said he wanted to ensure both men were at their best at Mania asked him to be in his corner tonight for his match against Shelton Benjamin. AJ decided that he would even the odds, as Chad Gable would be in his tag team partner Shelton Benjamin’s corner and as he didn’t want to risk their match at Wrestlemania being in jeopardy by either man being hurt (ironic considering AJ is carrying a legit minor injury) he agreed. Liked this little segment, they’re going with the mutual respect thing and the fact both men are so desperate for this match to happen, which is very believable, and whenever anything comes across as real it’s always going to be good. So I’m fine with this.

Next we had a match between Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott, who had her Riott Squad of Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan at ringside. We were supposed to be getting a rematch form last week tonight with Charlotte taking on Natalya, but with Charlotte out it was Becky who was voted in to replace her in the Mixed Match Challenge later in the evening. So I imagine this one had its time cut and was likely a last minute thing so the fact it was only a few minutes long… I guess it had to be this way. Anyway Becky won an ok match (considering its short timespan) with a cradle pinfall. Morgan and Logan tried to jump Lynch after the match, but were both tossed over the top rope in a preview of the Women’s Battle Royal to come at Wrestlemania.

Next we saw Daniel Bryan looking less-than-pleased backstage (sporting a new t-shirt by the way, a sure fire sign that he is BACK). He would then make his way to the ring to huge ‘YES’ and ’DANIEL BRYAN’ chants from the crowd. He cut an extremely impassioned promo whilst stood on the rampway the whole time, he said he had been waiting for last week to come for so long and was thankful for the response he got from the fans. They chanted “You still got it,” but he got serious and actually cut them off, saying he ‘had a job to do’. He would go on to say how Smackdown was the land of opportunity, and he was going to give Owens and Zayn just one more. Bryan then announced Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs Shane McMahon and himself at Wrestlemania. The crowd cheered. IT’S OFFICIAL, YES, YES YES!!! Bryan went on by saying the attack on Shane by Owens & Zayn a few weeks back left him in the hospital, but that he has reason to believe that he’ll be ready for Mania (happy days). He then revealed the permutations for the match, that if Zayn and Owens lose then they will remained fired, but if they win, they’ll be reinstated. He continued by saying ‘people wonder why I keep giving them opportunities’, he spoke about their history together as friends (they wrestled against eachother in Ring of Honor many times), and whenever he needed a place to stay that they were there for him (again this seemed very real so it was great). He explained that even though it was part of his job to give opportunities he has a lot of other duties, like ‘attending meetings, doing paperwork and wearing blazers’ (to which the crowd booed heavily). Bryan said that he was sick of all of those things and threw down his blazer! He said he wanted to wrestle and Owens and Zayn tried to take that away from him, but he’s back and WILL fight at Wrestlemania. A very fired-up Bryan then said that there are things he is not supposed to say as a GM and role model and an underdog, but that this was the Daniel Bryan who was ‘fighting for his dreams and wouldn’t take no for an answer’, that ‘this was the Daniel Bryan who will fight Owens and Zayn at Wrestlemania and kick their ass!’ The crowd cheered wildly. This was great. I’ve missed the WRESTLER Daniel Bryan because not only is he incredibly talented in the ring but his mic work is top class. You can tell how much he just loves to wrestle. Truly great stuff here from him; YES, YES, YES!

It was then made official that the United States Championship match at Wrestlemania will now be a fatal-4-way match pitting the champion Randy Orton vs Bobby Roode vs Jinder Mahal (with Sunil Singh) VS RUSEV (with Aiden English)! Brilliant stuff. I was so uninterested I this whole programme before but the inclusion of the ultra-popular Bulgarian Brute and his singing companion will make the crowd very much enthralled by this match at Mania, even if it is on the pre-show.

Next out we had The New Day cut a promo; Kofi spoke of their road to Wrestlemania, and how it was littered with garbage thanks to the “large, smelly, disgusting, sweaty, hairy, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pieces of trash Bludgeon Brothers”. Xavier Woods picked up saying they made the mistake of leaving The New Day the ability to walk and that they ‘would run through them tonight’ and get back on the road to winning the tag team titles. Harper & Rowan then made their way down to the ring for the match, and took control early on by then attacking Kofi Kingston on the outside. We were only a few minutes in before The Usos came out and attacked the Bludgeon Brothers, causing the referee to call for the bell. A brief brawl concluded with The 3 members of The New Day (Big E included) and Jimmy & Jey Uso standing tall on the aisle of the entrance way staring down the monstrous tandem of Harper and Rowan. All out action here, and it was great fun to see. All very talented guys here so any chance they get to shine is a good watch. Hope we get the Mania 3 way now…

Dolph Ziggler beat Fandango (with Tyler Breeze by his side) in about 2 minutes after. It was fine but… well… it was a 2 minute match… all 3 men will be in the Andre Battle Royal at Mania… great…

We then had official confirmation that it will be The Usos vs The New Day vs Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships at Wrestlemania. Good news. Match will be a lot of fun. I hope The Usos finally get their long-awaited main card Mania match, and that Bludgeon Brothers are crowned champions at the end… that’s what will be the end-result so may as well embrace it.

And then it was time for the main event of the evening. A sort of dream match really between 2 of the most entertaining in-ring performers the WWE has ever had. The not as nimble a she used to be, but nonetheless still accomplished and very much (G)able in between the ropes; Shelton Benjamin versus the… well… I don’t really need to give any introduction to his opponent Shinsuke Nakamura… it’s pretty obvious how good he is. The commentary team did make reference though to the fact that this was the first match between these two in WWE, but not the first ever (they had previously faced one another during their time in New Japan). The match was pretty good, but really got going towards the end: Chad Gable tried to distract Shinsuke but was pulled off the apron by the on-watching Styles, Benjamin then managed to hit a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall, he tried his Pay Dirt move but Nakamura countered it into an armbar and eventually led to a triangle choke, Shelton was able to power out and hit an inziguiri, and finally Nakamura came back with a flying knee strike form the top rope and followed it up with Kinshasa and the 1,2,3. WWE Champion AJ Styles clapped the win, with Shinsuke then grabbing the mic and calling him in to the ring. He thanked Styles for being at ringside, but said that he didn’t need his help and that he only wanted to show AJ how he would beat him at Wrestlemania. AJ accused Nakamura of playing games, Shinsuke said he wasn’t, Styles said that it was a dream match for the fans but that it was a dream match for him too, because outside of himself, Nakamura was regarded as the best and Styles would prove HE was the best by defeating him. Then after Nakamura left, Benjamin and Gable came back in and attacked Styles. The beatdown continued until Nakamura ran in to make the save, but eventually AJ was left in a position that allowed Nakamura to set up for the Kinshasa. He then ran towards Styles but stopped just before hitting him, and simply shouted “KNEE-TO-FACE” and mockingly patted him on the head. This was a hilarious end to a great segment for me. Now we have but behind us any injury concerns about AJ I am so ready for this match now. I would like it if they have a proper brawl next week, or at least AJ gets physical with Shinsuke, because he’s been wound up by the King of Strong Style for weeks now. And if anyone is going to act as more of the heel in this one it’s definitely AJ. Although, providing it does indeed end with a ‘KNEE TO FACE’ I’ll be happy whatever happens in the match. But yes, great, great, GREAT stuff.

And that was Smackdown. Raw didn’t do this so well for me this week but this show was a great improvement on how to build up to THE ppv. This show really got me pumped for Mania and advanced a few of the stories very well. And now of course it is OFFICIAL; DANIEL BRYAN IS BACK; YES, YES, YES!!!

Key Points to Take Home

  • YES,YES,YES!!!
  • RUSEVMANIA!!!
  • BLUDGEON BROTHERS!!!
  • KNEE-TO-FACE!!!
  • WRESTLEMANIA!!!

Conclusion

I feel this really did its job well as the penultimate show before Mania. All the stories were advanced, the good matches were made more exciting and those that had little interest in them got an added element to get people interested. The Smackdown side of the Mania card, which was previously BY FAR the lesser side of the card, get a massively needed kick up the backside and now, in my opinion anyway, the Smackdown matches for Wrestlemania look fantastic. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura; WWE Championship, Charlotte vs Asuka; Women’s Championship, Usos v New Day v Bludgeon Brothers; Tag titles, Orton vs Roode vs Jinder vs RUSEV; US title and OF COURSE: DANIEL BRYAN (making his return to in–ring action in the same venue that he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania 4 years ago) teaming with Shane McMahon in a tag team match against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. I don’t know about you, but I think that is one hell of a line up! And that’s just the Smackdown side of things. Exciting times ahead, and I cannot wait!

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.

Fastlane 11/3/18 PPV Review

So the final stop on the road to Wrestlemania begins with the only man currently guaranteed a spot at the show of shows; the Men’s Royal Rumble 2018 winner Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s followed out by Aiden English, who raps and sings his way on to introducing his ally Rusev. And with chants of “NA-KA-MU-RA” and “RUSEV DAY” ringing around the arena the match begins. The match is pretty even early on and throughout, Rusev showing off his tremendous power and athleticism (particularly considering his size) and Nakamura demonstrating his full arsenal of technical attacks and knee and leg strikes. Nakamura eventually trying to hit his Kinshasa knee strike to end it but the Bulgarian Brute was able to move out the way of the impending danger, and came back with a tremendous looking Matchka kick that Shinsuke flew into full on, it looked really good. Rusev was only able to get a 2 count much to his dismay. Spurred on by Aiden English at ringside Rusev then decided it was time to ‘CRUSH’ his opponent with is Accolade submission move, but the King of Strong Style was able to wriggle his way out of trouble. He followed up with a vicious knee to the back of Rusev’s neck, and then hit the Kinshasa for the victory. A very much expected result but it was a fun enough match without being spectacular. Decent outing for both participants.

Next match was Bobby Roode defending his United States Championship against Randy Orton. Will The Viper become a grand slam champion? Where will Jinder Mahal factor in? Both men attempt their finisher early on but both roll to the outside to escape. It was a very even match with the crowd not that lively either. Randy Orton was on the top rope with Roode, but it was the Glorious one who got the better with a powerbomb from the top for a nearfall. Roode was then on top again but was knocked down by Orton who followed up with a Superplex for a nearfall of his own. Orton would do his signature set up for his RKO finisher but the US Champion would counter with a beautiful Spinebuster that got a 2 count. Roode would then make his way to the top again and attempt a shoulder tackle but would only fly right into an RKO “OUTTA NOWHERE” and RANDY ORTON IS THE NEW UNITED STATES CHAMPION! He completes the grand slam! His celebrations are cut short by Jinder Mahal, he comes to the ring and attacks Orton but is pulled off by Bobby Roode who gives Mahal a Glorious DDT for his troubles and then gives the same move to Orton too. Roode ends ups standing tall. Surely a triple threat at Mania will follow.

Kevin Owens is in the locker room with Sami Zayn. Owens questions Zayn about his actions on Smackdown (when Zayn pinned Owens in the 5 way match), Sami responded by saying ‘forget last Tuesday, that was different, you can still count on me tonight… tonight I wont…’ and before he could finish Owens walked away. ‘…Let you down’ Zayn would finish saying with a smirk on his face to perhaps indicate he was possibly not being all sincere. I highly expect a turn between these 2 to take place during the match again tonight.

Next match was Naomi & Becky Lynch vs Natalya & Carmella. Not really too much to this one, very back and forth stuff, Carmella looked really up for this match though delivering some very aggressive strikes to Naomi amongst a series of tag ins and nearfalls that didn’t allow this one to get too much of a rhythm for me. The finish came when whilst the referees back was turned Carmella would ask her partner Natalya to hand over her Money in the Bank briefcase but before it could be used against her Becky Lynch knocked Natalya to the floor below. The Irish Lasskicker would then turn around right into a Superkick allowing Carmella to get the win for her team. Good to make Carmella strong if she is cashing in soon, and a pinfall victory on a ppv will certainly help with that.

The Usos as champion’s vs The New Day next for the Smackdown Tag Team gold. Again this is another contest where a 3rd party looms large over this match-up. Where The Bludgeon Brothers will factor in to this one remains to be seen. This was a really fun match, with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods representing their team to ensure this match had a frenetic pace. The chemistry between the two teams was clear to see. The main theme of the match being that after facing off with one another so many times in the past both The Usos and The New Day utilised the signature moves of one another throughout the match. If you have seen any of their previous matches you won’t need me to tell you this one was a good watch, nearfalls and high spots aplenty. The finish of the match came when The New Day were on the outside of the ring AND THEN The Bludgeon Brothers made their way to ringside and proceeded to absolutely demolish all 5 men from both teams. Complete and utter devastation caused. Emergency personnel were on the scene once Harper and Rowan had taken mercy and stopped their attack. Commentary were really selling the chaos that had been caused, and again another 3 way at Wrestlemania seems to beckon. The attack was sold a lot and the participants were still being taken out some time afterwards, amides multiple replays. Make it a guarantee those tag titles are Bludgeon Brother bound.

Renee Young interviewed WWE Champion AJ Styles next backstage. Renee asked AJ that with the odds against him tonight was he worried that his Wrestlemania match with Shinsuke Nakamura was in jeopardy? To which AJ replied saying he was sick of hearing about the odds and that he had overcome obstacles his entire life by making the impossible phenomenal. He was then interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura himself who wished Styles luck in his match and hoped he win, so that he can… and before Nakamura could finish his sentence AJ snapped quickly back saying he will win and at Wrestlemania it’ll be you who gets beat (a few weeks back after the rumble Nakamura repeatedly told AJ he would beat him at Wrestlemania so nice to see AJ fight back…. Let’s pray this isn’t all one big tease and a swerve is ahead…. Not now… please…).

The next match was for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, the champion Charlotte Flair defending against Ruby Riott (interestingly NOT flanked by her Riott Squad allies Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan). It’s been a decent build to a match where we all know the likely outcome, it’ll be the aftermath that is most interesting with this one. Both women were close to hitting their finishing moves very early into the match, something which seems to be a theme this evening. Charlotte was attacking Riott on the outside, but upon placing Ruby back in the ring she would turn around to see Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan in her way. This distraction allowed Ruby to gain control of the match. Riott would quickly hit the Riott Kick but Charlotte kicked out at 2. Ruby would then trick the ref into thinking she had something in her eye, with his attention diverted Morgan & Logan would approach Charlotte but before a likely beatdown could happen both Naomi and Becky Lynch made their way out to the ringside area to ensure the match would remain even. Ruby would put Charlotte back in the ring and the match would continue. A stage dive Senton from Ruby would get a 2 count nearfall as her impressive challenge to the champion would continue. Riott would lock in a strong submission hold on Charlotte to exude more punishment, Charlotte’s back and arms being wrenched in many different ways as Ruby had the hold locked in various forms for some time. Riott would slam The Queen down for a 2 count before the beatdown carried on, Charlotte eventually getting a foothold back into it as a hard neckbreaker put Ruby in position for a Moonsault. Ruby then pushed Charlotte from the top rope to the outside, the champion really selling her efforts and beating in the match so far. A Suicide Dive from Ruby would only see her caught and then launched into the barricade by Charlotte, followed up with a Moonsault from the barricade which earned her a 2 count. Eventually back in the ring a top rope hurricanrana got Riott another near victory. A series of hard chops from both women ended with Riott taking the champion down. Then both Morgan and Logan at ringside teased entering the ring, this prompted both Becky Lynch and Naomi to go into the squared circle to stop any potential interference, however as they were in the ring the ref told Naomi and Becky they must retreat to the back and were no longer allowed at ringside. Smart heel tactics from Morgan and Logan, be interested to see how Charlotte escapes with her title now…

Logan and Morgan beat down on Charlotte with the ref’s attention elsewhere. But this was to no avail as the ref then sent them both to the back as well, much to their and Ruby Riott’s dismay. Charlotte would then hit a big boot and attempt to follow up with the Figure 8 but Riott countered into an inside cradle and almost got the win. Ruby would then be launched into the top turnbuckle and this would be followed up with a huge Spear from Charlotte and then the Figure 8 was locked in and Ruby tapped out. Charlotte retains as we all expected she would but this was a good match. Ruby certainly made an impression on her ppv debut.

THEN… ASUKA THE WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE WINNER CAME OUT TO CONFRONT THE WOMEN’S CHAMPION OF SMACKDOWN AS THE CROWD WENT WILD!!! SHE ACKNOWLEDGED CHARLOTTE AND THE WRESTLEMANIA SIGN AND WITH THAT THE CHALLENGE WAS MADE!!!!!!!!!! I HAVE TEARS IN MY EYES AS I WRITE THIS BECAUSE MY TWO FAVOURITE WOMEN IN WRESTLING ARE GOING TO FACE ONE ANOTHER AT WRESTLEMANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!

I need to lay down for bit.

There was then another recap of The Bludgeon Brothers destruction of the tag title match earlier on, the commentary team saying whilst Kofi Kingston and Big E were being treated backstage the situation was far worse for Xavier Woods. He according to them has a serious spine injury and has been taken to a local medical facility.

And then it was FINALLY time for the main event of the evening; a 6 pack challenge for the WWE Championship with the WWE Champion AJ Styles defending against John Cena, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. With the victorious champion of course going on to Wrestlemania to defend their title against the Men’s Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura. So many different stories and dynamics for all of the participants in this one, the ramifications of the result for all of them will be absolutely HUGE! Shane McMahon (Smackdown’s commissioner, GM Daniel Bryan is away at a “family function” apparently aka his cousin’s wedding if you check his social media) made his way out beforehand and will take in this match from ringside, there is certainly that ‘big fight feel’ around this one as the stakes really couldn’t be any higher!

The match then… I’ve been critical of some of the recent multi-man matches WWE have done, but this one was really really fun. From the very start of the match the chaos that would ensue was clear; Cena giving an Attitude Adjustment to Sami then Kevin then Corbin then Ziggler, leaving AJ and Cena to have a 1 v 1 exchange, ending when AJ and the other participants surrounded Cena, and then they all beat him down. All the participants had really fun and good looking battles between one another, all of it really well done and some good counter moves from all 6. It was great fun at a really fast pace, and the crowd was really into it as well. Other highlights including Corbin chasing Ziggler into the crowd and ramming him threw a Perspex glass barrier in the crowd area, Owens clearing an announce table only to be kicked by AJ, Styles sending Zayn over the barricade, Cena trying to AA Owens through the announce table but KO escaping only for Cena to catching an oncoming AJ styles and the WWE Champion is put through the announce table by Cena. The chaos had only just begun…

Zayn and Owens are in the ring, Sami tells him he’s “a man of my word” before then laying down for his ‘friend’ and Kevin Owens then hesitantly going to pin him before instead picking Zayn up, who then himself hit a small package as Zayn got a nearfall on Owens. Owens and Zayn then brawled which the crowd popped huge for. On the outside of the ring Zayn catches the eye of Shane McMahon at ringside, Zayn talks smack to him and then Owens attempts to superkick Zayn but Sami moves out the way and Owens instead hits Shane! Shortly after Zayn is back in the ring and tries a Helluva Kick on Owens but he runs into a superkick. Dolph Ziggler is back in the ring but fails to hit the ZigZag as Owens hits Dolph with a pop-up Powerbomb! The ref counts 1,2 but before the 3 Shane pulls the ref out of the ring!!!

Owens is obviously furious as Shane has seemingly cost him the title, Owens then runs into a Helluva kick from Sami. The ref counts 1,2 but before the 3 Shane breaks up this pin attempt as well! Zayn is shocked and furious with Shane, he then has to stop Ziggler pinning a prone Owens in the ring. Corbin then went on a tear with the steel steps, hitting Ziggler, Zayn and Owens before Cena got the steps from him. Cena hits Corbin with the steps 3 times and then hits the AA onto the steps, but Ziggler breaks the pin attempt. Cena missed a hit with the steps on Ziggler, allowing Dolph to hit Cena with a superkick but John’s momentum allows him to pick Ziggler up ready for an AA. Kevin Owens though drags Ziggler from Cena’s shoulders, throws Cena aside, then hits the pop-up Powerbomb. Then as Owens turns around, AJ Style comes flying through the air and hits Owens with the Phenomenal Forearm and AJ gets the 1,2,3. AJ STYLES WINS, AJ STYLES VS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP AT WRESTLEMANIA IS CONFIRMED! HAPPY DAYS! The main focus other than AJ was on Cena who was slumped in the corner of the ring, as he pushed away a cameraman and he now seemingly has no road to Wrestlemania…… yeah right…… This match was certainly action packed and a real fun watch. Better than I expected anyway. And above all else we got the result we ALL wanted!

And that was Fastlane. A decent show, action packed and none of the matches were terrible. But some bits did feel like any other Smackdown show, saying that Riott vs Charlotte was good and the main event was spectacular. And obviously we got ASUKA!

Key Points to Take Home

. Nakamura vs AJ… 5 stars? …

. ASUKA VS CHARLOTTE! YES YES YES!

. Jinder is beating Randy at Mania… sigh…

. The Bludgeon Brothers have made the most of their gimmick and are now legit top contenders

. Will this Owens/Zayn/Shane storyline ever end?

Conclusion

It’s always tricky for pre Mania ppv events. We all know where most the stories are going so the results are pretty obvious, and all these were here so it was all down to the participants to get the crowd excited. On the whole I thought they all did a fair job, the main event was great and even though the result ended up being what was expected the way the match was paced made the result in doubt throughout. Fastlane was a good night for a few people in particular and even those who didn’t win their matches made a decent showing of themselves. And the main 2 things we all wanted we got; Styles vs Nakamura and Charlotte vs Asuka set for Wrestlemania. So can we moan too much? I think not. Fine work so far WWE, less than a month to go now so don’t screw this up!!!

GONG

Josh.

Smackdown 6/3/2018 Review: the A(J) show

The Fastlane go-home edition of Smackdown Live begins this week with Dasha Fuentes (Renee Young is at home ill by the way), as she welcomes out both the Smackdown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair and her challenger this Sunday Ruby Riott (accompanied by her Riott Squad teammates Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan). Ruby begins saying it ‘began on the 14th November 2017 when Charlotte Flair won the Smackdown Women’s Championship, her life has been success all along etc. as “I watched as the myth began” ‘and that’s why 2 weeks after I formed the Riott Squad, with 1 sole purpose; destroy the myth’. Decent stuff from Ruby to be fair, convinced me definitely. Charlotte came back by saying that the only myth is that she had been handed anything, that if she fails it is magnified because of who she is and her surname, Riott says that Charlotte is on a pedestal and that at Fastlane she’s coming to take her crown. Morgan and Logan enter the ring to confront the Queen before… NO, NOT Becky Lynch and Naomi but BOBBY ROODE makes his entrance as the lights go out and the Glorious song plays. Charlotte looks on delighted to see her Mixed Match Challenge partner (Roode is apparently on commentary for the next match; Jinder Mahal vs his fellow US Title contender Randy Orton). And that was how the Women’s CHAMPIONSHIP segment ended…. THAT WAS IT?! REALLY!? FUCK ME!? If anyone doubted Ruby Riott’s chances at Fastlane then it’s 200% confirmed now… Becky and Naomi didn’t make the save or anything, the segment just ended… *sigh*.

Anyway Randy Orton comes out next for his match against Jinder Mahal. With US Champion Roode looking on the focus is made on the fact that The Viper needs just the Glorious one’s title to complete his own grand slam. Samir Singh then welcomes out The Modern Day Maharaja and then my attention quivered. I had to endure 3 months of Jinder Mahal vs Randy Orton in spring-summer of 2017 for the WWE Championship, I don’t think me or anyone else wants to see or hear anything more about these two men against one another. So I’ll just say the finish came from Orton launching Mahal into Roode at the commentary table, Roode got on the apron to vent his anger at Randy before Jinder pushed Orton to knock Roode down and Mahal took advantage of the distraction and hit the Khallas to get the win… I absolutely love Bobby Roode, everything about his is magnificent. Randy Orton is a legend and Jinder is… Jinder… but I’m not caring too much at all about this thing at all right now… I trust in Bobby Roode to make it great… because… well, we know what he is…

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are backstage in the locker room; Owens reminds Zayn of him saying that he would ‘lay down’ for Owens if it came to it at Fastlane, Zayn says he meant it, Owens tells Zayn how much of an amazing guy he is etc. (Sami Zayn is SOOOOOOO turning on Owens at some point soon). AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler later tonight too; if anyone can make me care about Ziggler it is AJ so I’ll give it a chance. They then show a video montage recapping The Usos vs The New Day rivalry ahead of their Smackdown Tag Team title match on Sunday, great great great. Shinsuke Nakamura is interviewed backstage next; he was asked if he was worried going into Fastlane if his dream match at Wrestlemania against AJ Styles was in jeopardy, Nakamura said he was worried but hoped AJ wins so he can beat him at Wrestlemania… He was then interrupted by Rusev and Aiden English! English goes to sing but he can’t, ‘apparently’ due to Nakamura’s beating of him in their match last week. Rusev then says to Shinsuke it is like he has “broken the hands of Billy Joel”, to which Nakamura tells English he is not Billy Joel, Rusev says “face me at Fastlane and I’ll break you like you broke my Aiden”. Nakamura responds accepts and says when he does it’ll be ‘NAKAMURA DAY’ (in which he sings). This was HILAROIUS! The crowd during this match at Fastlane will be so loud I cannot wait!

Becky Lynch vs Carmella next. This came from a wwe.com shown confrontation between the two last week, and their ongoing twitter war this week has been highly entertaining. The more Carmella and the more Becky Lynch on Smackdown the better for me. Carmella was on top with an aggressive, trash-talk filled start to the match. Becky tried to get the Dis-Arm-Her in but Carmella was able to wriggle out of it, Carmella had Becky locked in a leg scissors using the ropes for support to put further strain onto Lynch, Naomi is shown backstage watching on, Carmela got a nearfall after a great looking running knee to the Irish Lasskicker. She then got another nearfall after a backdrop on the outside. Carmella then got another nearfall after a sidekick, much to Ms. Money in the Bank’s disbelief. Lynch responds with a Bexploder suplex and then rolls Carmella into her finishing submission move that forces the Princess of Staten Island to tap out. This was fine, 2 decent in ring performers putting on an ok tv match. After the match Naomi and Natalya had a discussion backstage about the match they had just seen, it ended with the match being made for Fastlane of Naomi and Becky lynch vs Natalya and Carmella.

Next up AJ Styles is shown walking to the ring backstage. He’ll be joining us next then (just the best wrestler isn’t he). There’s a recap of John Cena’s promo from Raw where he proclaimed he’d win the WWE Championship for a 17th time on Sunday. AJ then cuts a promo saying ‘not so long ago I only cared about 1 person, but after winning the WWE Championship for the 2nd time I see the world differently now, I’m the WWE Champion, it was grind to get here when I was ‘elsewhere’ trying to get here (I know AJ, it must have been horrid… THERE…)’. He goes on to talk about the 6 pack challenge at Fastlane and how he doesn’t have to get pinned to lose his title, that the odds are against him but he’s gonna fight, how Smackdown Live is the house that ‘AJ STYLES BUILT’ (it is, it really is), He explains how last week John Cena pinned him clean but that although he is world class Cena is also never lost for words, before again a recap is shown of Cena’s Raw promo. AJ comes back after this really fired up, saying to the crowd that ‘you don’t want this either (Cena winning the title on Sunday), I want my Wrestlemania moment… against the best… Shinsuke Nakamura… Who would’ve dreamed of this in WWE (I KNOW RIGHT, AJ really speaking to me today)… so I’m fighting for us (PLEASE do AJ, I want Styles vs Nakamura at Mania so so bad)’.

Dolph Ziggler then comes out and cuts a promo on Styles; he tells him that ‘you’ve changed’ and that ‘you’re not phenomenal anymore, you’re just desperate’. AJ responds by asking Dolph how he can call him desperate when ‘you in WWE have failed to live up to your potential for 13 years in WWE’ (PREACH AJ PREACH). Ziggler goes heel on the crowd… so he’s heel now? I thought he just turned back face again? This fucking guy turns more than pages in a book! It’s a real killer to any character he’s trying to create, his credibility on TV is zero. Anyway AJ then made his match against Dolph to happen immediately. AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler then, as a wrestling match this was pretty good. Both are great athletes and great in the ring (particularly AJ), but with Ziggler’s character the way it is in 2018 it’s going to take an awful lot to make me fully emotionally invested in anything he does these days. I didn’t even care too much even here when he was against the best wrestler on the planet. Both superstars displayed their impressive set of moves, Dolph Ziggler was on the aggressive top throughout, AJ made his comeback, Ziggler raked Styles’ eyes, hit a Famouser for a 2 count, Ziggler then launches Styles into the ringpost on the outside, before Dolph hit a Zigzag on Styles but could only garner a 2 count pinfall.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn then came to the ring and beatdown on Ziggler and the WWE Champion, leading Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon to come out and make the match of Owens vs Zayn vs Styles vs Ziggler vs the man he introduces Baron Corbin. Hmmm… so Cena is having the night off then? He’s on the SMACKDOWN ppv competing for the SMACKDOWN world championship and yet this week he only appears on RAW?! WHY?! So we had a fatal 5 way to end the show and unsurprisingly it was all a bit chaotic. All the participants are involved in separate brawls on the outside of the ring, when the action goes back into the ring it is Corbin who is on top as he strikes everyone else in the match down. Owens and Zayn then beat up Corbin then Ziggler then Styles separately, later in the match then we have AJ & Dolph on the top rope joined by Sami Zayn as Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens slam all of them down to the ring floor and all 5 superstars are down. There was then huge series of different moves from the participants with the main features being how AJ would break up almost every pinfall attempt in the match and how (in my opinion) but Baron Corbin has really improved in between the ropes. The conclusion to the match was really something good; AJ took out Corbin, Ziggler and Zayn (this was really impressive stuff from him), but as Owens and Zayn took all out of the match Owens was in the corner of the ring Sami Zayn hit his ‘FRIEND’ with a huge Helluva Kick (crowd popped hard for this) and SAMI ZAYN WINS! After the match as the other 4 participants looked on in shock Dasha interviewed the victorious Zayn on the rampway and asked him to explain his actions? Zayn replied by saying because he was the “best WWE has”! I really liked this finish, builds up tension amongst Owens and Zayn tremendously going into Fastlane. I’ll be interested to see how they tell this story on Sunday… and onto Wrestlemania…

And THAT was another episode of Smackdown. A fun episode and as a go home for a ppv it built up to Fastlane well I thought.

Key Points to take Home

. Ruby needs to go solo and split up her squad

. The US title scene STILL needs a rocket up its backside

. Nakamura vs Rusev Day… YES PLEASE!

. Carmella still has that briefcase… just saying…

. Smackdown needs AJ Styles… forever

Conclusion

So on Sunday its Fastlane then, and what have we got as a line up? Well, in my opinion some pretty entertaining match ups. Charlotte defending her title against Ruby Riott; which although the result is pretty obvious going into it the shadows of the Women’s Royal Rumble winner and Ms Money in the Bank loom large over the Smackdown Women’s championship right now which will add that extra element of excitement of this one. United States Champion Bobby Roode defending against Randy Orton. Will Orton get the grand slam? I can’t see why he would or why at this stage he needs to. I’m pretty sure that eventually Jinder will take the title from Roode, allowing the Glorious one to ascend to the WWE title scene (PLEASE) and maybe even turn heel too (SUPER PLEASE). Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rusev with Aiden English; good stuff all round and should be a real fun match to watch, crowd will love it for sure. Usos vs New Day renewing their rivalry over the Smackdown tag titles. Again this will be a great watch but again a rather large shadow hangs over this match (a Bludgeon Brothers sized shadow to be specific). Naomi and Becky Lynch vs Carmella and Natalya too, I’d like to see Carmella get beat here personally as I think it’d further throw everyone off the scent for when she eventually takes her opportunity and becomes Women’s Champion. AND FINALLY of course we have the WWE Championship 6 pack challenge; AJ Styles defending his championship against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (I think they’re heading to a Mania showdown as well), Dolph Ziggler (who cares), Baron Corbin (I care slightly more but still not a great amount) and of course big match John Cena… John Cena… wait… did you hear that?…

*DONG*

Josh.

Smackdown 27/2/18 Review: Super Cena saves the show

So Smackdown this week emanates from the famous Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California. And as such of course John Cena is appearing on the show tonight, as he contuse his search for his road to Wrestlemania (aka The Undertaker is busy for a couple of weeks…) and so has chosen to go through Smackdown live to find it. With Smackdown’s pre-Mania ppv Fastlane a week from Sunday this should be an eventful episode.

And indeed to begin the show John Cena makes his way to the ring. He says: ‘I like everyone else is trying to find my road to Wrestlemania’, and that he wants in on the Fatal 5 way for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. He explains though that he is not here for a hand out and his here to earn his opportunity. And he awaits what he must do to get his place in the match… Shane McMahon makes his way to the ring next, he puts Cena over for his past accomplishments, and reminds us all that if Cena is in the Fastlane match and he wins he will not just go to the main event of Wrestlemania but he will go there as a 17 time world champion! Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan comes out next and tells Cena if he wants in on the WWE title match at Fastlane he must win tonight’s main event… against the WWE CHAMPION AJ STYLES! WOW some announcement that, a renewal of one of the best rivalries of recent years, fabulous!

Sami Zayn makes his way to the ring for the next segment of the show, his ‘friend’ Kevin Owens on commentary for this one by the way, for his match with Baron Corbin (last week it was Corbin who laid out Zayn, Owens and Styles as is recapped here, so this will be continuation of that as we head to the big match at Fastlane). Decent match this, back and forth between the two, Zayn acts really well as a heel, Corbin gets in some really hard hitting offence, Corbin launches Zayn into the table right near Owens at commentary. And as Owens is talking he is superkicked by Dolph Ziggler who comes out, and a distracted Zayn is hit with the End Of Days from Corbin and he gets the win. Before Corbin can celebrate he is hit with a Zigzag by Ziggler. Corbin’s last week and now Dolph gets his week to look strong, so makes sense I guess. Throughout the match by the way Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are shown watching the match backstage, with Shane taking little interest. Bryan also asks McMahon if he can in fact go home as Shane ‘seems to have everything under control’. After the next ad break Owens & Zayn are backstage very angry, and are wound up further by Shane.

The Riott Squad make their way to the ring as we are set for Ruby Riott vs Naomi, ahead of Ruby’s challenge to Charlotte for the SD Women’s title at Fastlane. Becky Lynch and Charlotte make their way to the ring to flank Naomi and even the odds for this match. The match starts evenly as Riott rolls to the outside as the two ‘squads’ face off on the outside of the ring. After the ads Riott has Naomi in a resthold, Naomi makes her comeback, she hits a springboard inziguiri for a 2 count, Naomi goes for her Rear View move but Ruby gets out of it, and Riott hits her Riott kick for the win. Makes a lot of sense as Charlotte has beaten both Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan and now her challenger has pinned her 2 friends, Becky Lynch and now Naomi. Ok enough match mind you this one, did its job.

Next is The Fashion Police backstage. They are with a star of the ‘Unsolved’ TV show that they’ve been advertising for the TV network. They did a real fun little segment that was rather funny, the actor explains to Tyler Breeze and Fandango that their Fashion Files ‘cases’ are not actual ‘cases’. Fandango is baffled by this and says that they have solved one of his own cases (the TV show being plugged here attempts to solve the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G aka Biggie Smalls), Fandango says they have in fact found Biggie and says here is Biggie… and out comes BIG E (GET IT???) and the rest of The New Day, this was actually really funny to me. Big E did a rap, the actor told Breeze and Fandango that he was ‘not a real cop’, something which Fandango was very disappointed at, “I looked up to you” he said. This was funny, pointless but funny.

The New Day then made their way to the ring, they spoke about how the road to Wrestlemania (which included a very exaggerated and long look at the Wrestlemania sign, which made me laugh a great deal). They went on to speak about how they will be renewing their feud with their greatest ever rivals The Usos at Fastlane (which will be tremendous), Usos come out and run down their challengers, they say they used to be like those 3 with their facepaint etc. but that didn’t take them to the next level. They then go on about how for their 9 years they have spent in WWE they are still yet to be on the main card of a Wrestlemania (this part of their promo was particularly effective). The Usos say now is “our time”, that they can adapt and that The New Day have been stuck in the past for the last 5 years whilst “we have evolved”.

Big E responds very passionately; saying they have not been in the past, they hosted Wrestlemania last year whilst ‘you two were stuck in catering’, that they didn’t sit on the sidelines and instead “took what was ours”, he reminds The Usos that The New Day are 5 times tag team champions, it was pretty good stuff from Big E to be fair to him. All 5 men in the ring drop their mics before the lights go out and The Bludgeon Brothers make their way to the ring. The Usos and New Day make their exit as Harper & Rowan stand in the ring looking as monstrous as ever. So… Bludgeon Brothers are beating Usos at Mania then? …

We were then shown an ‘earlier tonight’ segment with Shane McMahon backstage with Aiden English and Rusev. English calls out Shane for Rusev Day not being on tv for the past 2 weeks (AIDEN ENLGISH IS LISTENING TO MY SMACKDOWN REVIEW BLOGS… CLEARLY…), so Shane puts Aiden English (not Rusev) in a match later tonight with… Shinsuke Nakamura (SHANE READS MY SMACKDOWN BLOGS TOO).

Next Bobby Roode had an interview with Renee Young, it was usual stuff before Randy Orton interrupted, and it seemed the two had mutual respect but Orton seemed to have a new found wariness of Roode (maybe Jinder’s suggestions are working…). This is a US title feud between Roode (who could be WWE Champion imo in the next year) and Randy Orton (one of the all-time greats)… and I just do not care about it all that much… very sad.

Rusev and Aiden English are in the ring next. English sings a song on LA and Nakamura, complete with sing-a-long words on screen. Rusev was just acting so funny in the background throughout, overall it was great! So much love for both these guys. These two are so obviously supposed to be heels but absolutely nobody boos them and everyone loves them. For God sake WWE just turn them face and have them win the tag titles! Anyway Nakamura comes out and the two have a real fun enjoyable match, filled with “NA-KA-MU-RA and Rusev Day” chants throughout. I didn’t take too many notes to be honest because I just enjoy watching Nakamura so much, and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the pleasure to do so. English is really good too I should add and shows it here. Nakamura won a fairly short match (obviously). As Nakamura makes his exit he is met head on the rampway by John Cena. Cena mentioned about earlier how Nakamura was the only guy who was guaranteed his spot at Wrestlemania after winning the Royal Rumble (fills me with so much joy to be able to say that; Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble). They have a staredown as both acknowledge the Mania sign. This is followed by the entrance of the current WWE Champion; AJ Styles.

Right here we go then, SO…. John Cena VS AJ Styles. A renewal of an awesome series of matches the two had in 2016 and finishing at the 2017 Royal Rumble with an absolute classic. In this one of course if Cena wins he’s in the title match at Fastlane. Match begins with a collar and elbow tie up as both had finished taking in the crowds reactions (Owens and Zayn are shown watching the match from the backstage area). Cena continues to be well on top early on here, does a series of rest holds, hard attacks and gets a couple of nearfalls. AJ responds with some hard chops to Cena, he throws Cena into a corner, although John responds with some kicks and delivers a great tornado DDT for a 2 count from the resulting pinfall. Good start here, could be another masterclass…

Cena comes back from the ad break with a 5 Knuckle shuffle, but Styles powers out of the following AA attempt and hits a neckbreaker for a nearfall. AJ then tries a Styles Clash but Cena counters by slingshotting Styles into the corner and follows up with a TKO for another nearfall as Baron Corbin is shown watching on from backstage on a monitor. Cena then takes charge again, Ziggler and then ‘Kami’ are shown backstage watching on, Cena tells AJ to get up, big clothesline for a nearfall, Cena charges into AJ but misses, both men are down, both men hit their finishers DURING THE AD BREAK (WTF) for a nearfall a piece, AJ misses a moonsault, Cena locks in the STF but Styles rolls him over for a roll up nearfall, Cena hits his ribs in the corner and AJ takes advantage and hits the Phenomenal Forearm for a 2 count, AJ puts Cena in position for a 450 splash which he then misses allowing Cena to hit an AA. Instead of going for the cover Cena rolls through and attempts a 2nd AA (which is how Cena won their previous encounter at the Rumble last year), only for Styles to escape to the outside. Cena charges Styles but he moves and Cena goes flying into the steel steps.

As they’re on the outside Cena regains control and delivers a huge AA on AJ Styles through the announce table! Styles only gets back in the ring at a count of 9, John Cena attempts to finish the match with another AA only for Styles to counter it into a Cab Crusher submission! The leader of the Cenation though is able to counter this into a final Attitude Adjustment and John Cena pins the WWE Champion 1,2,3! And the title match at Fastlane becomes a 6 way! … what a fantastic match that was! Doubt you’ll see a better one on a regular Smackdown for some time. After the match Owens, Zayn, Corbin and Ziggler all come to the ring and a mass brawl ensues as the show goes off the air. A preview of the chaos that the title match could descend into…

And that was Smackdown… and that was MUCH BETTER than in recent weeks!

Key points to take home:

– John Cena is the top man for a reason

– The Usos and The New Day should do promo battles every week

– Someone liven up the US Title scene PLEASE

– Nakamura is really good

– Is anybody else in the Smackdown Women’s division on Charlotte’s level?

Conclusion

Well done Smackdown Live. That was a good fun show. I’ve been a little harsh on SD in recent weeks, simply because I haven’t found a show that contains some of my absolute favourites to be very entertaining. I bemoaned the fact that there were 5 men in the WWE Championship match for Fastlane, now there’s 1 more added to that! BUT… BUT… that man is SUPER John Cena, and despite what you may think that man has carried WWE in the past, and apart from some guy from Chicago and a goat-looking fella he was the only thing semi-interesting on WWE tv for a number of years. And before and now after that period he’s STILL the man. Anything he puts his hand to he improves and makes more entertaining and intriguing to see unfold.

Next thing I’ve recently moaned about was the lack of usage of people who the fans actually care about and are entertaining, but this week: we had Nakamura in a match, we had Aiden English singing and Rusev being hilarious, The Usos and The New Day doing great back and forth promos, even Breezango made an appearance with their stuff. AND another of my gripes from recent Smackdown review blogs has also been answered, via an online video that’s been posted following the show, as next week Carmella will be in action against Becky Lynch. And Ms Money in the Bank can show off her briefcase again, just to remind everyone that she can throw a spanner in the works at anytime… Good stuff all round. Smackdown isn’t perfect yet, the US title scene still needs work but Bobby Roode and Randy Orton are so good I trust them to figure it out (just one of you two turn heel, that’d solve it…). But Smackdown Live has in 1 week become a lot closer to the show it should be, and you may not like it but you can put a large part of that down to WWE’s very own Superman. And you can cheer him on or tell him he sucks all you want, fact remains John Cena is still the man. LET’S GO CENA…

*GONG*

Josh.

Smackdown 20/2/18 Review: C- , could do better

Renee Young welcomes out the WWE Champion AJ Styles to begin the show (huge “AJ STYLES” chants from the crowd, so much so that Renee can’t begin her interview right away). AJ says he’s in control of his own destiny, he says he can beat anyone and has done his whole life, and then runs through the different permutations that even if he could take care of one of the participants of the fatal 5 way then whilst that is happening someone else could get a pinfall in the meantime (yes AJ we kind of know this already… but thanks…). After running through each of the participants he goes to speak of Baron Corbin before the Lonewolf himself makes his way to the ring.

As the crowd boos Corbin reminds Styles that he beat him last time they met, and that he ‘has his number’ and that ‘you’re an athlete, I’m a fighter!’ Kevin Owens then walks down… he has a back and forth with Corbin, AJ asks if Owens got the “boil” off his back (Sami Zayn) , Owens says he doesn’t need Sami Zayn, and that he let him down last week. After then beginning to moan once again about Shane McMahon before, “YEP” (Zayn, 2018) you guessed it, Shane O’Mac comes out. Shane then makes Corbin vs Styles and Owens vs Ziggler for tonight. The latter of which beginning immediately as Dolph then makes his way to the ring.

Dolph Ziggler vs Kevin Owens then. Match begins with plenty of strikes from Ziggler as Owens multiple times escapes to the outside of the ring. Back in the ring eventually KO misses a Senton, Dolph hits a suplex, Ziggler goes into a turnbuckle, Owens hits a Cannonball that gets a 2 count, Ziggler then hits a big DDT, Owens gets sent into the post, Ziggler gets a nearfall after a neckbreaker but then misses a superkick then is turned into a gutbuster. Following this Owens goes up top for a possible frog splash only for Dolph to go up top with him, only to be thrown off and as KO then flies off for a Swanton only for Dolph to get his knees up. The show-off follows this up with a Famouser that only gets a 2 count from the referee. This match actually was good by this point as the pace picked up, Ziggler gets a ZigZag in but this only gets a 2 count. Following this Ziggler has Owens in the corner before Sami Zayn’s music hits; Sami runs towards the ring but stops just before entering, allowing for Kevin Owens to hit a superkick to the back of a distracted Ziggler’s head and then Owens claims the win. This was a decent match to be fair, I still care very little about Dolph but his involvement in the 5 way match will be a… different… element. Owens great as always.

Jinder Mahal appears next with a ‘secret’ to expose about Bobby Roode… he begins to tell us all about Bobby Roode’s personal ‘Smackdown Live Top 10 list’, Roode putting himself number 1 etc. … oh do me a favour PLEASE!!!! Roode Eventually come out to try and dispel these rumours from Mahal, he tells Mahal to stop trying to put Randy Orton and him in a fight and to face him himself. Orton eventually makes his way out, there’s a brawl, Roode gives Orton a Glorious DDT before Mahal comes in and delivers his finisher and ends the segment strong. Jinder Mahal on top in a segment with Bobby Roode and Randy Orton for the 2nd week in a row. He’s going to win the US Title isn’t he? FML. Following on from this Shane and Daniel Bryan are shown backstage and eventually Shane over rules Bryan and makes Roode vs Orton for the United States Championship for Fastlane, something Bryan wasn’t in favour of. Shane declares that is the FINAL decision with Bryan responding with a less than satisfied “OK boss!…”… it continues…

A 6 woman tag match follows next; pitting Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Naomi vs The Riott squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan). Flair and Logan start off in ring. Charlotte calls Ruby in the ring, who seems less than keen. Tags are made to Naomi and then to Becky quickly on. Sarah Logan eventually tags out to Ruby Riott but Lynch then is able to avoid a double suplex before Naomi joins her teammate in the ring as both deliver dropkicks to the 2 members of the Riott squad, the other, Liv Morgan, is then tossed into a big clothesline from The Queen Ms. Flair as the faces take control of the match.

Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott in the ring; Lynch focusing her attention on Riott’s arm, she then tags in Naomi who gets a quick 2 count. Ruby then makes a tag to Morgan, the 2 brawl for a while with Naomi’s signature moonsault stopped from getting her the win after Morgan was dragged out of the ring. Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan were then jumped on over the ropes by Naomi for their troubles. Liv Morgan then capitalises by tossing Naomi into the steel steps and then into the side of the ring. This only gets her a 2 count though. Morgan tags in Sarah Logan soon after, who locks in a great looking modified-Anaconda Vice type submission on Naomi, it is though powered out of eventually and at long last Naomi hits Logan with a hurricanrana and makes the tag to Charlotte. Charlotte goes on an absolute tear after this, only to be stopped by 2 chop blocks to the back from Sarah Logan. She is then almost forced to tag in Becky Lynch, Lynch hits Logan with a missile dropkick, Logan tags in Riott, Lynch is able to hit a Bexploder on Ruby, but that in turn is turned into a nearfall for Riott. The Irish Lassskicker is then able to lock in her Dis-Arm-her finisher only for Liv Morgan to stop a likely victory. Charlotte takes out for Morgan for that, Logan comes in and hits a running knee to Naomi, Becky hits Logan with a Bexploder suplex but then turns round and is caught by Ruby Riott, who is the able to hit her Pele kick finishing move and the Riott squad pick up the win! THE RIOTT SQUAD HAVE WON A MATCH! IT IS A MIRCALE!!! And it wasn’t all that bad this match either, action packed but I didn’t see anything that I noted as particularly bad, I had fun watching, so well done all. I expect a challenge by Riott for Charlotte and her title to come soon…

Kevin Owens is in the locker room with Sami Zayn next. And they seem to be on the same page and all fine again. Zayn tells Owens that he owes him for being in the spot he is now, in contention for the WWE Championship, he says he’s got his back and that if it comes to it Zayn will lay down and ‘do the right thing’ for Owens so that KO can win the WWE Championship… Owens seem shocked and almost emotional by Zayn’s verbal show of supreme loyalty to his “friend” … I liked this… really interested to see where it goes, because I’m kind of getting bored of the Owens/Zayn v Shane and Daniel Bryan story, because nothing is really changing… maybe I should wait until Wrestlemania… but that’s a long wait…

The New Day vs Benjamin & Gable now, a number 1 contenders match for the tag titles. Where The Bludgeon Brothers fit in to all this remains to be seen… (There were more of those god awful, tacky, and embarrassing words/graphics on screen during Big E’s intro as well… please stop with all this shit PLEASE). It’ll be Xavier Woods and Big E in the ring for this one for The New Day, always good to see Woods in a match, he is one of the most underutilised and underrated wrestlers in the entire company for me. Gable and Woods begin in ring, great athleticism shown off by both early on, Benjamin makes the tag in and hits Xavier with a huge spinebuster for a nearfall. A bodyslam comes before a Woods comeback but Benjamin puts stop to that with a big knee and a 2 count form the referee. After the ads Shelton Benjamin and Xavier Woods are on the top rope, this ends with Benjamin coming off and Woods hitting him with a missile dropkick.

Benjamin and Woods both then get tags. Big E delivers 2 belly –to-belly suplexes, Gable then responds with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Big E of his own for a nearfall (if only Chad Gable was made in to the empathetic ultra babyface he was in American Alpha or at least had some form of character worthy of his supreme ability in the ring he could be a superstar). Gable then is unable to hit a moonsault and eventually is hit with a huge Big Ending slam from Big E that gets a 2 count. The finish of the match came from Kofi Kingston distracting the ref whilst Benjamin and Gable hit their tag team finisher, and as a result their delay in getting their pin counted gave Xavier Woods enough time to break it up. Woods makes the tag, throws Gable to the outside and hits a shining wizard on Benjamin to give New Day the win. Decent match I won’t lie, without being spectacular. As Big E tosses pancakes to the crowd as New Day make their exit, the lights dim and we are greeted with the arrival of the aforementioned Bludgeon Brothers. They walk towards the ring, stop to take off their cloaks and as Rowan goes to approach The New Day he is held back and told to go to the ring by Harper (a Charlotte iPhone promo was on in between this, calling out Ruby Riott and showed willing to put her title on the line too, as predicted). This was followed by a match between The Bludgeon Brothers vs 2 jobbers. You don’t need me to tell you how this one went… although I will say I am beginning to buy-in to the presentation and what they are aiming to do with them, let’s see how it goes…

Separate IPhone promos from first Ruby Riott (responding in kind to Charlotte’s earlier message) and Baron Corbin, hyping his match with AJ later. I am still so un-entertained by this new concept of promos. I just find them so unnecessary and cheap-looking, but that’s just my opinion. They then showed a video package for Shinsuke Nakamura (nice of you to acknowledge his existence again Smackdown Live, but WHERE THE FUCK IS HE?????? GET HIM ON TV!!!!!!).

And finally we have your main event of AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin. AJ was on top early on, until Corbin delivered a huge punch as Dolph Ziggler was shown watching the match backstage. A Corbin knee to the mid-section, AJ fought back but was thrown to the outside, he then flies over the ropes but there’s no flip pin to follow. Corbin takes some hits from AJ who then sends him to the outside, AJ again comes over the ropes only to be caught by Baron into a slamdown onto his knees on the outside. Baron Corbin nearfall, Corbin gets launched into the ring post, AJ hits a knee to Corbin on the outside, Corbin throws Styles over the announce table but AJ uses his momentum to quickly bounce back over and comes over the ropes with a Phenomenal Forearm he didn’t quite get in fully, hence it only keeps Corbin down for a 2 count.

AJ hits plenty of strikes to Corbin then, only to be hit himself for a 2 count. Corbin then puts Styles on the top rope only to be knocked off, only for Styles to come flying off and straight into a great looking Deep Six from Corbin for a nearfall. The WWE Champion then reverses a potential End of Days into a Cab-Crusher submission, which The Lonewolf gets out of by slamming Styles head to the ring floor. AJ then has enough time after to fully hit The Phenomenal Forearm to pin Corbin for the win. AJ not really out of 2nd gear in this one but still decent of course, and a good showing for Corbin as well. He has certainly improved from the past, but still I don’t see him at the level where he’ll be matching AJ on a regular basis. After the match Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came out to attack both men, but Corbin responded with an End of Days to both and BARON CORBIN ended Smackdown standing tall.

And that was Smackdown. An OK show overall, but again too many good people are not on the show each week; WHERE was Ms Money In The Bank Carmella? WHERE were Rusev and Aiden English? WHERE were the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS? I get it’s only a 2 hour show but talent that good, it would be a huge shame for it to be forgotten about. I guess The Usos are the champions and Carmella has the briefcase so there is always that, but behind AJ and Nakamura and Charlotte it is Rusev who is the most over act on the whole show, so he should be being used ALL the time surely?

Key points to take home:

  • I hope they have something BIG planned for Charlotte and her title at Wrestlemania…
  • Ziggler is still good in-ring, his character is so lacklustre it’s a joke though
  • BORE OFF with this Top 10 list thing Jinder, I DON’T CARE!
  • The Bludgeon Brothers are getting there
  • Can we skip to AJ vs Nakamura build now please?

Conclusion

Fastlane is being built up to be a decent show, but it does very much feel like this is all filler until Wrestlemania. On the Raw side of things there seems to be much excitement whereas Smackdown seems to just exist right now. The Shane/Bryan/Owens/Zayn tension/feud/whatever it is continues to dominate the show for the 3000th week with seemingly no end. Smackdown; I really want to like you a lot, and with the abundance of talent you have it should be easy, but you’re losing me just lately. Let’s hope as Fastlane and, more importantly, Wrestlemania draws closer they can pick it up. We can only hope.

Josh.

Wrestlemania Flashback 2: 32 – Charlotte vs Sasha vs Becky

At the Royal Rumble ppv this year we had the winner of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match Asuka, Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, oh… and we had Ronda Rousey…, oh and we had Stephanie McMahon. All in or around the ring at the same time to close the show. Women’s Wrestling has officially gone big time.

People will often use buzz phrases; “Divas revolution” this “Women’s evolution” that, but yes when I first watched Women’s wrestling it was essentially bra and panties matches and glorified hair pulling contests contested by glamour models. It has certainly come a long, LONG way, to a point now where I could very comfortably say that I am an avid fan of women’s wrestling and the general quality of the product amongst the array of top female wrestling talent there is in WWE and NXT.

And yes I know… young male liking Women’s wrestling isn’t exactly a shock, but I can genuinely say the physical and aesthetic qualities of the performers wouldn’t interest me to watch their matches in the slightest if the actual match itself wasn’t up to a decent enough standard. And at times women’s wrestling has even stolen the show from the previously untouchable grasp of the men. Take for example the “biggest Wrestlemania of all time”, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, in front of 100,000* people, the Women’s Championship match was the best match on the entire show!

It was the latest step for Women in WWE, as the old butterfly ridden Divas Championship was retired in favour of a revitalised WWE Women’s Championship. It would be competed for by 3 of WWE’s finest female talents we had seen in many years (one in particular may just be the best we’ve ever seen…).

*Before I begin telling you all about the match, if you’re not aware of them already, please enter “the 4 horsewomen of NXT” into your preferred search engine… Thanks… now let’s talk about this match…*

Becky Lynch enters first. One of the most underrated in ring perfomers in the entire WWE man or woman. Sasha Banks out next, her entrance music performed by her COUSIN Snoop Dogg!!! A massive pop for the Legit Boss, the crowd favourite here for sure. And finally the champ Charlotte accompanied by her Dad… who just so happens to be a 16x world champ and the only 2 time WWE Hall of Famer… Genetically Superior indeed…

The match begins with the 3 participants exchanging a series of moves and pinfall attempts, Charlotte then hitting a great looking big boot to Becky before Sasha hit Charlotte with a Hurricanrana ala her hero Eddie Guerrero. Upon Lynch re-entering the match she disposes of the champion before focusing an attack on the Legit Boss. A focus on Sasha’s arm in preparation of her finisher later down the line maybe?

The exchange between Banks and Lynch is ended when Charlotte drags Sasha to the outside and slams her against the ropes. She’s then thwarted by Becky Lynch whom jumps from the apron to take down the final ever Divas champion. Becky’s momentum continues back in the ring with a DDT on Charlotte that garners a 2 count. Becky is then on the top rope when Charlotte hits a rude awakening for a 2 count of her own. Charlotte, now on top herself, attempts a Figure 4 leg lock on the Irish Lasskicker but it is countered out of. Sasha gets back involved with Charlotte in the corner of the ring, but this is stopped when Lynch launches Sasha to the outside.

Lynch then focuses her attention on Charlotte herself, but to no avail. Charlotte then rolls into a pin attempt but it is reversed by Becky Lynch into an attempted Dis-arm-her submission move. With Lynch seemingly on the verge of the win Ric Flair then jumps on the ring apron to try and distract her but the submission is laterly broken up by Sasha Banks.

As the match draws on Charlotte gets a Figure 4 on Becky, but this is stopped by Sasha Banks as she comes flying down from the top rope with a beautiful frog splash onto them both. She gets a nearfall after a pin attempt on the champion. The Legit Boss then hits a double knees for another 2 count. Is it Sasha’s time to claim the gold?

Becky Lynch then goes for a pin after a great looking pumphandle slam/rock bottom like move on Charlotte that Sasha breaks up. Sasha and Becky then have a really nice exchange of varying types of offensive moves before Lynch performs a tope suicida on Charlotte to the outside. And then with Charlotte and Sasha on the outside of the ring, Becky Lynch delights the Dallas crowd by diving off the top rope onto the ringside Nature Boy after Ric had had a ‘wooooo-off’ with Sasha.

Sasha then throws Charlotte back into the ring but is stopped from going after her by Lynch… and then… Charlotte makes her way to the top rope… and delivers… one of the most beautiful moves I have ever seen… she perfectly executes a moonsault onto her two opponents on the outside of the ring (THIS WAS A BREATHTAKING MOVE)!!!

Glowing in confidence now “my title” screams the champion Charlotte as she then performs a DOUBLE Natural Selection. However she is unsuccessful in 2 pin attempts on both her opponents, much to her frustration. She launches Becky Lynch into the ring post and while attempting a powerbomb type move on Sasha Banks she then finds herself the victim of a dropkick from Lynch off the top rope that ended in an electric chair – dropkick combo that led to a 2 count only for Becky. A Dis-arm-her is stopped by an incoming Banks, who immediately locks in her own submission the Bank Statement. Charlotte enters the fray with a Figure 4 to Sasha, Banks then reverses the pressure of the move until Becky breaks it up…. and breathe…

With all 3 women physically exhausted by their efforts Charlotte unleashes a series of chops to both Banks and Lynch, before Charlotte is beaten on by both for her troubles. Sasha hits a strong forearm to Lynch but then turns into an typically-awesome looking spear from Charlotte. Charlotte is driven into the corner and worked on by Becky, who then finds herself on the top rope with Sasha. Charlotte joins them. All 3 women now in a precarious position. It ends with Sasha strung up as Lynch delivers a Bexploder suplex on Charlotte from the top rope.

Sasha Banks is then able to put the Bank Statement on Becky Lynch before Charlotte throws the Legit Boss to the outside. She then finally locks in her signature finishing move, the exquisite looking Figure 8 submission on a downed Lynch. As Sasha tries to re-enter the ring she is stopped by Ric Flair at ringside who aids his daughter by stopping the only potential stop to her crowning moment,and such Becky’s tap out gives the QUEEN the win. And Charlotte becomes the first holder of the newly established WWE Women’s Championship.

And that was the match. A 15 minute showcase of just some of the strongest array of female WRESTLING talent the WWE has ever seen. And as you all know Women’s wrestling has only gone from strength to strength since then. As Wrestlemania approaches we have a situation where the biggest star in the company is a women, it’s now very possible we have 2 maybe 3 Women’s singles matches on the card of the biggest event on the calendar. None of these meaningless tag matches or gimmick heavy battle royals for the women in WWE at Mania anymore. The road to Wrestlemania is well underway, and the Women’s division will certainly have a big part to play in how it all shapes up. And the aforementioned match at Wrestlemania 32 was where, for this avid fan of women’s wrestling at least, it REALLY all started.

Josh.