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.

Raw 26/3/18 Review: DO SOMETHING!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to Take Home

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

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

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

. I hope Braun’s partner doesn’t disappoint

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

Conclusion

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

GONG!

Josh.

Raw 12/2/18 Review: BRAUN STROWMAN SINGS!!!

So Raw this week opened up with Mr Nikki Bella to a big pop (shockingly enough) from the Raw crowd. Raw this evening emanating from San Jose, California – home town of Bayley (more on her later…). Following a brief recap of last weeks triple threat main event, that saw Cena pinned by Elias and then Strowman ending up the dominant force, Cena cut a promo to hype up the build towards Wrestlemania (including one line that he said Wrestlemania has even been known to “bring legends back from the dead… 👀”) saying that he HAD to win the Elimination Chamber match and that if he didn’t he was unsure what or even if his road to Wrestlemania would be. He was clear though that he WILL win the Elimination Chamber match and thus will challenge Brock Lesnar for the a Universal Championship in the grandest stage of them all (*SPOILER ALERT: … he wont*).

The Miz and the Miztourage come out next to interrupt, Miz telling Cena that it’s not 2013 anymore and therefore not time for Cena to main event Mania instead it is 2018: year of The Miz (totally fine with me). Miz then claims he will make history and become the first simultaneous holder of the Universal and his current Intercontinental Championships. He also then reminds us that it is John Cena himself who is a fore-father of Suplex City (Summerslam 2014 main event, if you’re ever feeling down watch that match. Cheers me up everytime).

This being a very good back and forth promo between 2 of the best on the mic in WWE was hardly a surprise. Cena eventually challenges Miz to a match immediately with the stipulation being the loser would enter the Elimination Chamber match 1st! The Miztourage then beat down Cena as Miz wants the match started for an easy win. Raw GM Kurt Angle addresses the situation by announcing said match/stipulation but banning Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel from ringside to try and somewhat even the odds, even if John Cena is by this point stil flat out in the ring.

So the match officially begins and… of course… Cena kicks out at 2. It laterly continues with both of them seeming to sail through the early stages of the contest before it is kicked into life when Cena reverses a potential Skull crushing finale into a potential AA which Miz in turn reverses into a figure 4… which Cena then reverses into an STF before Miz… gets to the bottom rope…. and breathe… The Miz then goes onto the top rope in his efforts to topple the Cenation leader before he is caught by Cena. An AA is then turned into a DDT for a nearfall by The Miz.

The momentum felt by the grand slam champion (1 thing Cena is not btw) is firmly stopped when Cena finally hits an AA. 1,2, 3? No of course not. In 2018 nobody loses to one AA. It’s not 2013 anymore indeed. Some more good back and forth offence exchanges results in Miz on the top rope with Cena, before attempting a ‘super’ Skull crushing finale, but this in turn is countered into a super AA from Cena for the pinfall and the victory. Miz enters the chamber 1st. Good solid show opener from 2 now veterans. Shame Miz didn’t get the win but a defeat won’t hurt either too much at this stage. The fascinating road for both of these stars to the Elimination Chamber… and beyond… continues…

Ads for Bayley vs Sasha and the 4 way chamber qualifier later in the show. The first match will be good. The 2nd? Could be a clusterfuck.

WOKEN Matt Hardy promo; usual stuff from him. But I’m an OG Woken/Broken warrior so I liked it. The line were he said he would render his opponents tonight “obsolete” a particular fave of mine (I miss you Jeff so so much, please comeback soon Brother Nero!).

Gallows & Anderson “Nerd-Ometer” promo now… f/t more terrible and tacky on screen graphics…. really???

Anyway the good brothers approach the ring next for their match but are attacked by their opponents The Revival before the match begins. Lots of emphasis being put on the chop block to Luke Gallows knee. Match begins with Gallows on a tear before his knee is targeted again by both Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson seperatelty. The hot tag is finally made to Karl Anderson who gets some real good looking moves in (severely under-appreciated wrestler btw, seriously watch some of his stuff from New Japan when you can). However with Gallows OOA due to his injuries sustained Anderson is 2v1 for the large part of this match towards the end, eventually succumbing to a Shatter Machine for a win for The Revival. Ok match for 2 great teams, just a shame absolutely nobody in the crowd seemed to care. Always tough with a crowd following John Cena tbf.

After a brief recap of the whole Rollins and Jordan/Reigns/Angle story last week surrounding Jason Jordan’s injury and then costing Rollins and Reigns the tag title match the Raw General Manager and father of Jason Jordan (still baffles me) Kurt Angle is shown making his way from backstage to offer a medical update and breaking news on his Son’s (don’t, just don’t please) ‘injury’ (guess we might find out if Jordan’s wife was telling the truth on Facebook or not *see Update on last week’s Raw review*).

Upon entering the ring Angle says he has mixed emotions; firstly he announces RONDA ROUSEY will sign her WWE contract to appear as part of the Raw roster at the Elimination Chamber ppv (yes yes and more yes). Next he goes on to say that following an MRI and surgery last week, Jason Jordan will MISS Wrestlemania… cue the ‘Yes’ chants from the crowd (fgs guys come on now…) . Kurt responds to the crowd with a realistic promo about as a father that he thinks if any fan takes joy from a superstar being injured they should be ashamed of themselves, that all he wants is for them to wsih his son well…

Seth Rollins then comes out… he says he’s sorry for Jordan, that he can empathise with him, recalling how he missed a Wrestlemania a couple of years back due to injury himself and that he knows how special Wrestlemania moments are. He then asks of Kurt that he needs something for elimination chamber and Wrestlemania. After turning down Angle’s suggestion of yet another new tag team partner Rollins says that he wants to not just be on Raw but BE Raw! He says he wants to be Universal champion and he wants that at Wrestlemania. He says he must win the Elimination Chamber. Eventually it is decided Rollins will enter the final chamber qualifying match later in the evening. That match will now be a 5 way… ok no problem… lets see shall we…

Bray Wyatt promo; again more of the same and good if you like him as I do (he won the wwe title inside an Elimination Chamber 1 year ago btw… *sighs*).

Next up Sasha makes her way to the ring for her match with hometown favourite Bayley (unsurprisingly big pop for her). This should be great… it begins with a plethora of pin attempts from Bayley followed by some clear heel work from Sasha who has really been back to her NXT best recently. I also want to mention the following that came from the commentators;

Coachman: Bayley and Sasha are supposed to be best friends. They said so on a podcast…

Graves: supposed to be best friends?

Coachman: you should know Corey, anything you hear on a podcast MUST be true.

Fabulous.

ANYWAY Sasha Banks takes control of the match now. Aplogies for the lack of notes on this one but as a huge fan of their series of matches in NXT I found myself just sitting back and watching this one. It really was a joy to behold. Bayley attempted a big elbow from the top only for Banks to move out the way, only to then lock in the Banks Statement which was eventually stopped when the Hugger reached the bottom rope.

The finishing part of the match was particularly well done; Bayley threw Banks face first into a middle rope turnbuckle (OUCH), Banks then makes her way to the top rope and pushes Bayley down as she tries to join her, the 2nd try is successful though and Bayley hits the Bayley to Belly from the middle rope for the win. And FINALLY Bayley has a win! Somebody won in their hometown! What a concept! … in all seriousness though this was a real good match. Hopefully it goes somewhere… hopefully…

After the match Nia Jax jumps them both to send a message to her opponent at Elimination Chamber, Asuka. Would’ve preferred a heel turn from Bayley but I’ll accept Nia Jax looking strong.

I’ll run quickly through the next few bits as I really REALLY want to talk about the title segment for this blog, so: Rollins and Reigns vs The bar backstage promo (sets up Roman vs Sheamus for later), recap of Nia’s earlier actions and subsequent interview with Renee Young followed by a really cool video package highlighting Asuka, Renee backstage with Titus Worldwide (less said about these lot the better), Alexa backstage with Mickie basically, as I explained last week, trying to gain Mickie as an ally going into the chamber; her argument being that if either of Absolution win they will just have matches vs eachother all the time, the veteran James doesn’t buy it for a second. Mickie and Alexa vs Mandy and Sonya (with Paige… *sigh*) next. Solid match (Mickie James is really good at wrestling, Bliss is good, Sonya is ok and Mandy has potential but is still very green) Mandy getting the pin on James after Alexa was distracted by Paige and Sonya Deville. Beatdown from Absolution afterwards with Bliss saving Mickie. All fine enough stuff..

And… THEN… Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls… what followed next was one of THE most entertaining, hilarious and satisfying Raw or any WWE show segments for a VERY long time…

So… Elias is shown backstage, apparently he’s on his way to sing “Elimination Chamber Blues”… when we return from the ad break Elias is indeed in the ring, with his guitar, with a spotlight on him, sat on his stool. He did his usual stuff, and as usual the crowd go wild for him, and as usual Elias expertly retains his heel character by turning on the crowd and city he is in. He then claims he will win the Elimination Chamber. And then he gets on with his song… (at this point I am wondering if WWE pipe in the boos during his performances, cuz he’s friggin great). Then the crowd begin to cheer something , as the lights are out in the arena in order to accomadate the spotlight on Elias we at home are left… well … in the dark.

And then Jojo announces as she does Elias … “Ladies and gentlemen; Braun Strowman”.

BRAUN STROWMAN?! WTF IS THIS!?

And then indeed Braun is shown on the entrance rampway, sat on a stool, with a spotlight on him, complete and utterly ala Elias! Braun then pulls out a giant Bass, he attempts to play it like a guitar but breaks the strings in the process. And then… THEN…

BRAUN STROWMAN SINGS A SONG TO ELIAS!!!

This song, I cannot explain how funny it was. Of everything I have recommended to watch so far in my blogs, make this your absolute priority!!!

Elias looked on perplexed, and then following a brawl between the two which of course Braun dominated, Strowman would end the segment by adhering to the crowd’s wishes by using the giant Bass and absolutely smashing it over Elias’ back. Elias was left flat out and being attended to by referees, Braun did his siganture ROAR to please the fans. And that was that.

This was AMAZING! One of the best WWE segments for a LONG time! Would highly recommend you watch this!

The rest of the show now then…

Finn Balor iphone promo next… nope!

Roman Reigns vs Sheamus w/Cesaro now. This was a real physical match between 2 fierce strikers. Cesaro playing the role of coach to Sheamus throughout. Should also note for someone with real bad neck issues Sheamus sure does dish out some really hard hitting moves; the rolling senton to the outside in particular I cannot fathom how WWE allow someone with spinal issues to do moves like that?! Anyway that match was pretty much as expected, it was good don’t get me wrong but nothing about it surprised me. The ending was definitely noteworthy though; with Sheamus on the top rope he dives down only to be caught with a not so sweetly connected Spear from Roman for the victory (look up Reigns’ spear to Shane McMahon at Survivor Series 2016 for a better connected one). So yeah Roman Reigns wins. Who saw that coming…

Ivory was then confirmed as the next inductee into the Hall of Fame for this year. Lovely.

The main event was next. Finn vs Bray vs WOKEN Matt vs Apollo vs Seth Rollins. Winner enters the men’s Elimination Chamber match. I thought a fatal 4 way would be tough to take notes on, a 5 way was nearly impossible! Lots of exchanges between all the various combinations of the participants in the match (after the match begun during an ad break, NOT COOL). All 5 in this match got cool stuff in. It was a bit of a clusterfuck at times but that’s bound to be the case given 5 participants were all involved against one another. Apollo Crews in particular suprised me how good his stuff looked. It was clear throughout though that either Finn Balor or Seth Rollins were winning this one. The conclusion of the match will certainly be a talking point…

After Bray Wyatt had given Woken Matt a Sister Abigail on the outside of the ring to take him out the match Bray then sought after Apollo Crews who was perched on the top rope. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins then teamed up to perform a combo superplex/powerbomb onto the 2 of them from the top rope before Finn and Seth BOTH pinned Bray. So… they both won?! Apparently… no music plays or anything, everyone is just stood about confused… and then Raw just ends… with no answer at all.

And yeah that was Raw. Despite the lack of answers at the end of the main event a really fun show. Bayley vs Sasha was excellent, the segments and other matches throughout the show were decent enough too but this Raw will always be remembered as the night Braun Strowman SANG!

Key points to take home:

– Cena is gonna do something HUGE at Wrestlemania…

– Sasha Banks and Bayley are number 5 and 6 best female workers in the entire WWE. SO GOOD!

– I want to walk with Elias

– I love Braun Strowman

– Why the lack of answers at the end?

Conclusion:

Raw was slightly more eventful this week than last. A good show overall, go home show for Elimination Chamber next week so should be eventful still. Hopefully by then we will have more answers about whom will fill the last spot in Men’s chamber match… *

Josh

*UPDATE: It has been announced that BOTH Seth Rollins & Finn Balor will be in the Men’s Elimination Chamber match. 7 MEN IN THE CHAMBER! Not sure how I feel about that tbh… seems a bit cheap. Ah well…

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.