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

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

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) V Shinsuke Nakamura

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

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

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

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

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

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

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

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon V Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

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

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

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

Women’s Wrestlemania Battle Royal

What happened on Smackdown? :

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

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

Josh.

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 20/2/18 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.

Smackdown 13/2/18 Review : Five’s a crowd.

So Smackdown then… begins with… DOLPH ZIGGLER… yay… Zzzzzzzz…

Corbin out next for their match it seems. (I should mention that per Shane McMahon this match is now the winner will be in the WWE Championship Match at Fastlane… hmm…)… so we think Corbin is on his way out next but instead we cut to him getting beat up backstage by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. They then come out to do the same to Dolph, Corbin makes his way to the ring and gets beat up some more. Seems no match between these two then (#ThankYouKami for that lbh). This was a nice opening to the show. Good change from a long promo to begin Smackdown as we usually get.

I predicted it’ll be made a 5 way when the announcement was first made but lets see how they work it out. (FYI a while ago a leaked tv advert came out claiming that the arena hosting Fastlane were promoting a 5 way main event for the title; Aj vs Owens vs Zayn vs Orton vs Nakamura. This advert was leaked some time ago and now it’s clear to me for various reasons a 5 way will be where we are going. But obviously no Nakamura as he won the rumble and Orton now seems to be in the US title scene. Corbin and Ziggler in place of Shinsuke and Orton? … Jesus christ… then again we had a 5 way on Raw this week and it was alright, Corbin and Ziggler bore the shit out of me though and a 3 way between Aj and Kami made SOOOO much sense! But hey we know the mania match anyway so…

Riott squad out next, Sarah Logan vs Charlotte Flair to come. Logan is really good at wrestling in her own right so lets see how she compares with The QUEEN. Becky Lynch and Naomi follow out Charlotte to counter any possible interference from the 2 other Riott squad members.

Logan starts off really well and on top, unsurprising to me as I’ve heard Charlotte claim to be a fan of Logan on a podcast before so letting her get plenty of offence in isn’t a surprise to me, Logan gives Charlotte FLAIR a CHOP which is returned with interest! Flair then kicks out of 4 quick nearfalls as Sarah Logan continues to be in charge of the match. This was a very physically aggressive match, Flair eventually getting the expected win via Natural Selection.

Charlotte and friends celebrate in ring afterwards, decent match. Good showing from Flair as usual and really useful outing for Sarah Logan despite eating the pin. When they eventually split the Riott squad Ruby will be fine, Morgan I’m not too sure but as long as they give Sarah Logan good creative to match her wrestling ability I feel she could be fine solo too.

Dbryan backstage next on his phone, Shane comes in and says his usual stuff about KO & Sami… Shane then announces Owens vs Corbin and Zayn vs Ziggler for tonight with Corbin and Ziggler, if they can win, earning a spot in the WWE Championship match. Right so we are doing the 5 way after all presumably? … I fear this may be too may people for it to be a good match… and I don’t care at all at this stage about Ziggler or Corbin. Aj vs Zayn vs Owens would’ve been a perfect match to send Aj to mania and Shinsuke and to continue wherever we are going with Owens and Zayn. This just seems like they are cramming Ziggler and Corbin in here for no apparent reason. It’s TOO MUCH!

Kevin Owens on the way to the ring now with Corbin selling his earlier attack on his way to the ring. A hard hitting match with a lot of striking, Owens playing the weasel heel well throughout whilst targeting the mid section of The Lone Wolf still hurting from the attack that begun the show. He still got his stuff in mind, including a decapitating clothesline to Owens which got a 2 count. Corbin got the win after an End of Days. And BARON CORBIN is going to Fastlane! Hmm… not sure about this…

Smackdown top 10 recap now (see my review of last weeks Smackdown for my thoughts). There was NO Smackdown Top 10 this week. Lets move on…

Up next is Bobby Roode’s US Championship open challenge… he cuts a decent face promo saying he, like John Cena before, wants to be a fighting US Champion and take on all comers. His challenger appears to be Randy Orton… he then is interrupted by the arrival of Jinder Mahal (oh the joys). Jinder cuts a promo on Orton based on him only being 9th in the SD top 10 list last week … I zoned out at this point, this list thing is ridiculous and now they are using it in an angle??? WOW…

In short Roode showed respect to Orton, Jinder tried to stur things up between the two, Orton then RKO’s the remaining Singh brother (the other is out injured) , the 3 men brawl with Jinder ending it on top. So triple threat for the US title on the way then. Ok then… providing Roode goes over I’ll be pleased, unless Roode is going after the WWE Championship I see no reason to take the US title from him. Randy doesn’t need to be a grand slam champion, he can do that any time and as for Jinder… he was a lacklustre WWE Champion so he’d have to do an awful lot to have a successful reign as US Champion. Intrigued to see who they have win that one.

New Day out next. They’re in the ring with a load of pancakes, they set up a gimmick with Big E attempting to eat them all, Benjamin and Gable come out to end the fun, it leads to the match between the 2 teams. Decent match with New Day winning so guess that’s it for whatever kind of push Benjamin and Gable were getting. Really good wrestlers, absolutely zero character to them (Benjamin and Gable that is) so no suprise the crowd was dead during this one. New Day have that in abundance so they will always be fine whatever they do. I worry for Benjamin and Gable going forward.

Backstage interview with Renee Young speaking with Dolph Ziggler; he bigs himself up, calls Owens and Zayn cowards, says he wants to main event Wrestlemania etc… this was ok but there have been so many false dawns with Dolph Ziggler in the past I’m so past caring at all about him at this point he’d have to actually win the Championship for me to even remotely care about him as a character at this stage. He’s a babyface now then is he? The new Big Show…

Usos backstage promo; set in a dark, eery setting f/t more awful words/graphics on screen, the Bludgeon Brothers then smash a screen the promo it was being shown on… yeah… this was just… there tbh. Not too much to say…

Following this was Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in gorilla; Owens telling his tag partner not to let him down, Zayn gives an edgy reponse and says that it will be ‘every man for himself’ in the championship match. So we are set for 2 very good wrestlers; one who is having the run of his WWE career, one who is for some reason still plying his trade with the company so lets see what happens…

Zayn (like KO before him) plays the whining heel really well in a decent enough match. I know that these 2 have so much more in their locker than they both showed here, and given it was the main event I found the match a tad underwhelming. Ziggler would hit a zig-zag only to get a 2 count. Both men sold really well in this match though, as eas the case in the finishing sequence that saw Ziggler dodge a Helluva kick from Sami, who then turned round into a great looking superkick from Ziggler. 1,2,3 and DOLPH ZIGGLER is now too in the title match at Fastlane. We all saw this a mile off but it is what it is.

And that was Smackdown. An ok enough show but…: no AJ, no Nakamura, no Rusev and English, no Tye Dillinger (who was in the oh-so-sacred Smackdown top 10 list last week btw…………), no (Ms. Money in the Bank) Carmella even! I get you have to take turns and its only a 2 hour show, but apart from the main angle of making the WWE Championship match a 5 way you really wouldn’t be missing a great deal if you didn’t watch this show.

Key points to take home:

– 5 men in a WWE title match is way too many. Would need 5 SUPERstars to pull it off well, we have just 3 in this one.

– The Riott Squad should split up.

– Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are really good at their jobs.

– Bobby Roode needs to be United States champion for a very long time

– Smackdown needs a roster shake up

Conclusion:

Lots of people missing from this Smackdown. But it has always been the show were different people get spotlights so I’ll accept it. But you shouldn’t be leaving your Wrestlemania world title match off of ANY show! This show severely lacked from none of the 3 main crowd favourites, the lacklustre crowd was simply given few reasons to get excited during this show. Hopefully next week is more thrilling… I’m gonna be a pretty sad wrestling blogger if it’s like this weeks…

Josh.

Smackdown 6/2/18 Review: As expected (so far) on the long road.

So my first review of Smackdown live. My Raw review was over 2000 words, but that’s a 3 hour show and this is only 2 so I’m sure you’ll be glad to know this SHOULD be shorter… but lets get into it…

The show begins with OH GOOD… ANOTHER authority promo, yay! … Zzzzzzz… Shane says more of what he has been saying recently before introducing Bryan. Shane accuses Bryan of favoritism towards “Kami”? as AJ Styles has christened them, going on to say ‘the Yes movement changed WWE forever, but the Yep movement is just a cheap immatation’. Shane continues that he knows Daniel would rather be competing against them rather than talking about this match (OK… HERE WE GO…?) and that he is living vicariously through them now. Decent line from Shane that.

AJ Styles comes out next, he puts himself over and says he’s tired of SD live’s management and their obsession with both Zayn and Owens. He tells Shane to stay out of the way of the match tonight and that he doesn’t care who he faces at Fastlane.

This was a decent show opener. Couple of points where it could’ve exploded but there is still a LONG way til this concludes at (presumably) Wrestlemania. Something will happen; who and what, how and where, is anyone’s guess.

As AJ leaves we cut backstage to The New Day with Kofi using fingerpuppets of a horse to ride on pancakes (obviously) as Big E asks Woods and Kingston (via a twitter # they are running through the show) “Do you think Corey Graves has a better jab or left hook?”. I LOVED this! I laughed a lot. If you don’t know what this meant I’d advise you Google “Corey Graves Booker T” …

After a short ad break Styles is shown backstage, he stops, turns and then on comes Shinsuke Nakamura. He smiles and in his broken English simply says “I’m gonna beat you, at Wrestlemania”. Then he walked off. Simple. Effective. It comes as no coincidence to me that Asuka and Nakamura come off as both hugely genuine and engaging in their promos when neither speak English as their first language. Therefore neither can be handed a script for a promo from a writer. Figures.

Up next is THE QUEEN (Mine, yours, the world’s) vs Carmel… sorry Liv Morgan… of the Riott squad. It starts with a heavy beatdown from Charlotte, as her receipt to Morgan for the attack last week. Both Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan seem reluctant to get involved but Riott does manage to distract Flair enough to get Morgan a nearfall. Some decent moves are then exchanged, Morgan repeats her move from last week where she stomps on Charlotte from the middle rope but only gets a 2 count.

More offence exchanged, Flair hits a spear for anoher nearfall, Sarah Logan gets on the apron and eats another spear as Riott drags Morgan out of harms way. This was the last straw for the ref who sends The bootleg Paige and Sonya Deville (and I’m a huge NXT and Women’s wrestling fan as well as the indivuals involved, particularly Ruby, saying this) to the back. Flair then finishes off bootleg Mandy Rose with a big boot/figure 8 combo for the win.

This was a decent enough opening contest, with one ppv before Mania and with Charlotte telling the commentary table that it’s “1 down, 2 to go” of the Riott squad you’d think it’ll be Ruby Riott vs Flair for the title at Fastlane. What the rest of Smackdown’s womens division does I don’t know. There’s still a nice, shiny briefcase floating around as well don’t forget…

Renee Young next with Kevin Owens backstage. Owens says him and Sami will still be friends after tonight providing Sami can handle losing to him. Simple and effective enough stuff.

Next on the way to the ring is The Bludgeon Brothers… oh boy… their opponents will be 2 jobbers I presume, such is the case. I don’t feel a long description is needed here, if I tell you its 2 monster booked heels with a combined near 600 pound weight you know the rest… I want to be entertained by Harper and Rowan in this form but I just don’t care, and I’m a huge fan of particularly Harper as well.

Anyway as they both are walking to the back The Usos music hits. Instead of a brawl we get The Usos walking past them as the two monsters then pick up their war-hammers (good god…) and walk to the back. When they eventually take the belts from The Usos I’ll be lot more sad for The Usos (who are the best tag team in WWE and have been ever since Jimmy and Jey wiped off their final bit of facepaint) than I will be pleased for The Bludgeon Brothers. The champs then cut a decent, typical Uso self promo full of Prison references and street slang. It was typical of them but good stuff for their characters.

Next is Daniel Bryan presenting the “Smackdown Live Top 10 list”. This was announced last week as a list voted for by the superstars of Smackdown on who they thought was the best on the roster/most deserving of opportunities etc. (I’m not buying for 1 second this is real voting. Tye Dillinger was number 10 for christ sake! Nobody has stated what this actually means but they had all the entrants tweeting about their placing so they’re pushing it for some reason). Anyway for note the list was as follows: 10. Tye Dillinger , 9. Randy Orton , 8. Becky Lynch, 7. The Usos, 6. New Day, 5. Bobby Roode, 4. Naomi, 3. Nakamura, 2. Charlotte, 1. AJ.

Another backstage New Day segment; Big E saying “6? (Their top 10 spot) that’s the chances I’ll give Corey Graves in a street fight!”. Love it.

Another iphone promo. English with Rusev. The content was good. The concept SUCKS!

On a happier note it is now “RUSEV DAYYYY” as Aiden English proclaims with his operatic singing to welcome his charge. Rusev is a little bit popular isn’t he? This next match SHOULD be absolutely… GLORIOUS! Hopefully it lives up. I don’t mind who wins, I love both guys, but I do know the crowd will go absolutely ape shit if Rusev wins the US title here. I’m hoping for a double turn too, Rusev is practically a face now and Roode currently ok as a smiley, happy good guy but the heel, self-righteous Bobby Roode from NXT was fabulous.

The match itself then; ‘Rusev Day’ chants at the beginning, not much action in the early stages before Rusev goes on the power-charge. Typcially great selling from Roode, the crowd begin to chant for both superstars now as Bobby begins the comeback, Roode goes on the top, knocks Rusev down, English distracts Roode causing him to walk into a superkick that garners a 2 count only. Rusev has another dominant period but can’t put Roode away. An exchange of signature moves follows, English gets on the apron again which leads to a small package from Rusev for another 2 count. A machka kick follows, Rusev goes for the Accolade, can’t lock it in, they exchange roll up near falls, and the quick exchange concludes with Roode hitting the glorious DDT for the win. Roode retains.

Good match. Roode celebrates but as the spotlight comes on him and he does his glorious pose… suddenly… “outta knowhere” Randy Orton gives the US champion an RKO. An on looking Aiden English eats an RKO and then so does Rusev. Orton stands tall. So are we about to see a multi-time world champion finally attempt to complete the grand slam? A fall from grace from this time last year but at this point… well… he’s Randy Orton for christ sake. That’s all that needs saying really. And if he’s going in to any type of feud that involves Rusev, English and/or Roode and the US title then that’s good for them, good for the belt and good for him too.

Benjamin and Gable iphone promo next. They set up a match with The Ascension. Great…

The match itself… lets be honest; I don’t care about this, you don’t care about this either really do you? Benjamin and Gable won. Let’s move on asap.

Another New Day backstage segment putting eachother over. I love these guys, individually great and together fantastic.

Sami Zayn is in Gorilla next being interviewed by Mrs Ambrose. He says he’s finally ready to step out of Owens’ shadow. Again like with Owens earlier this was simple but did what it needed to do well.

Oh next week it’s Dolph Ziggler (making his 100th attempt at a return to make people care about him again) vs Baron Corbin. I already can’t wait to write all about that match…

With AJ Styles on guest commentary it is time for the main event. Beginning of the match and neither looked pleased with the situation, a series of basic offences with a small tease of real animosity thrown in. It then picks up a gear as Sami lands a takedown on Kevin followed by a series of punches. Owens repeatedly telling his OPPONENT to “calm down” was amusing indeed.

Watching this match it is so clear just how well they know eachother. The chemistry in the ring is off the scale, it all just looks so effortless. Owens goes on the attack setting Sami up in the corner for a Cannonball, only for Zayn to turn it into an exploder suplex and would follow up with a top rope DDT for a nearfall.

KO later goes for a frog splash but Zayn gets his knees up and later as both men are on the outside Zayn goes flying through the middle rope near a turnbuckle and delivers a beautiful looking tornado DDT to Owens on the outside. Back in the ring after Sami sets Kevin up for a Helluva kick but runs into a superkick which is followed up by a frog splash. 2 count only. Another good exchange ends with Zayn delivering a blue thunder bomb but only a 2 count. So both guys have hit their secondary moves now, one would assume the finish isn’t far away.

Owens rolls to the outside, allowing Zayn time to talk smack to WWE Champion Styles whose ringside doing commentary don’t forget. He really gets in AJ’s face, Styles retaliates pushing Zayn into Owens before AJ hits out at them both. Match is waved off, no proper finish (who saw that coming…).

AJ continues his attack on “Kami” before Daniel Bryan comes out to presumably announce what the Fastlane match will be. And indeed as expected a triple threat is made, AJ VS Owens VS Zayn. What I saw happening a mile off but it’s the right way to keep this story going before we go full steam towards (presumably) Styles vs Nakamura. Expect one of Zayn/Owens to cost the other one way or another the match and the title.

And that was Smackdown. Some really good, exciting bits mixed in with some I couldn’t care less about. But with a WWE show in 2018 it’s to be expected.

Key points to take home:

– The THREE women in the Riott squad are not a real threat to Charlotte are they really, let’s be honest

– Please WWE, just let Daniel Bryan wrestle for you

– The Smackdown tag team division is in a rut again

– Roode needs to go over Orton

Conclusion:

We are slowly creeping towards Wrestlemania on Smackdown. Still 1 ppv and A LOT of tv between now and then so we may have to endure some weeks that not much of any substance or consequence happens in. But we’re moving along for sure. Other than AJ vs Nakamura, where are we heading to match up wise? Your guess is as good as mine.

Josh.