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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to Take Home

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

. The Bludgeon Brothers have made it work

. Charlotte vs Asuka… enough said

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Josh.

Fastlane 11/3/18 PPV Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need to lay down for bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to Take Home

. Nakamura vs AJ… 5 stars? …

. ASUKA VS CHARLOTTE! YES YES YES!

. Jinder is beating Randy at Mania… sigh…

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

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

Conclusion

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

GONG

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to take Home

. Ruby needs to go solo and split up her squad

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

. Nakamura vs Rusev Day… YES PLEASE!

. Carmella still has that briefcase… just saying…

. Smackdown needs AJ Styles… forever

Conclusion

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

*DONG*

Josh.

Raw 5/3/2018 Review: STEPHANIE MCMAHON TAKES A BUMP!!!

So we begin Raw this week with Kurt Angle making his way to the ring (they recap for the 1000000th time the Elimination Chamber and last week’s Raw segments involving Ronda Rousey). Angle calls out TRIPLE H following his cheapshot last week, “face me like a man” he says but it is only answered by Stephanie McMahon. She tells Kurt that Triple H isn’t here yet, and advises Kurt that his past achievements don’t pay his bills for his kids and his 2nd wife, but his job as Raw GM does. She tells him that he did provoke Triple H first so he was only getting even, so let’s put all this behind us now. RONDA ROUSEY then comes to the ring; she says she now knows the people who helped her come to the WWE weren’t the people she thought they were, and that they are ‘bully bosses’. Stephanie refutes this claim, gets some heat from the crowd, Ronda thanks her for giving her the opportunity to compete at Wrestlemania, and after having it confirmed for her she can choose her opponent for Mania, Ronda says to Stephanie “YOU”! TRIPLE H then makes his way to the ring to try and calm things saying “NO NO NO, not happening, Kurt stop being tough and do your job, Steph is an executive…” prompting Angle to call Triple H out on Stephanie saying he wasn’t here yet. Angle eventually reveals Stephanie has a second contract, and so does HHH, going on to say that ‘after Survivor Series I told you if you came for me again I was coming for you (to triple h) so at Wrestlemania it’ll be Stephanie McMahon and Triple H vs Ronda Rousey and ME”!!!

Stephanie goes to slap Angle but is blocked by Ronda, Triple H tries to calm things before attempting to cheapshot Angle again but he fights back before trying to get the Ankle lock submission hold in. Stephanie blindsides Ronda, Triple H goes to Pedigree Kurt but is rolled over and Angle does get the Ankle Lock in. Stephanie helps her Husband escape out of the ring but Ronda then grabs Stephanie by the hair and pulls her back into the ring, and delivers a HUGE Samoan Drop to Stephanie McMahon! Eventually she and Triple H are then helped to the back. WOW! WHAT A BLOCKBUSTER START TO THE SHOW! And everyone involved was awesome! Ronda looked absolutely fine (that Samoan Drop was really good), Kurt and Triple H’s dynamic is fantastic to watch and most amazingly of all STEPHANIE MCMAHON TOOK A BUMP OUTSIDE OF A WRESTLEMANIA!!!!! WOW OH WOW OH WOW! Great stuff!

Asuka vs Nia Jax next. Alexa Bliss (w/ Mickie James) was interviewed backstage as the match got underway, I didn’t like this at all as I think they should never take the attention way from the match and an interview with the champion is going to do just that! The match was pretty well put together I thought, the only downfall was this crowd was absolutely DEAD! They only woke up during the finish, maybe this was after what they saw to begin the show and they were coming down from that I don’t know but yeah… they weren’t great. The match itself was the classic tale of Asuka’s striking ability and submission moves versus Nia’s power. Some particularly impressive parts where when Jax Gorilla Press slammed Asuka which really was a sight to behold. Nia couldn’t follow up though with the leg drop missing after Asuka rolled out the way, The Empress of Tomorrow then locked in the Armbar, and despite 3 separate attempts from Jax to lift Asuka up and slam her down again the submission hold was STILL locked in deep! At long last Jax begrudgingly tapped out. I didn’t mind how this went at all, it protects Nia by making her look tough in defeat and obviously Asuka gets the win to build her up going into Mania. After the match Nia was shown selling her arm injury, and the crowd applauded her as she was close to tears as she walked away from the ring. The seeds of a face turn firmly being planted here…

The Revival in the ring now. Apparently on twitter Dash Wilder has responded to The Bar’s claims last week that they had beaten everyone so that was the set up for this match. So the match is happening now and if The Revival win they will get their Raw Tag Team Championship shot at Wrestlemania. Unsurprisingly this match was very physical and hard hitting, both teams had tremendous chemistry together, the crowd though was sooooooooo dead! Bar were on top for most of the match, but a highlight came from a sequence that saw Scott Dawson Superplex Cesaro before Dash Wilder followed that up with a frog splash on the Swiss-man for a 2 count nearfall. Sheamus would hit a Brogue Kick on a distraction, allowing Cesaro to make the most of it by hitting the Neutraliser to give The Bar the win. So… we are NOT having The Bar vs The Revival at Wrestlemania then? So who now then…… seeing The Bar being classified as OBSOLELTE would be the dream, but they seem to be tied up with injury recovery and Deleting stuff at the moment so perhaps an NXT call up? That’d be nice too.

Next out was what turned out to be one of the most BIZZARE segments on Raw for some time. John Cena made his way out and basically spent a whole promo on RAW talking about…. SMACKDOWN?! He reminded us all about the 6 pack challenge for the WWE Championship at Fastlane on Sunday, and exclaimed that he will do something that most people may not like, that he will WIN the WWE Championship for a 17th time! He then implored AJ Styles into ‘when’ this happens that he should use his rematch clause to make it a triple threat at Mania of Cena vs Styles vs Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania. AND THEN… OF ALL PEOPLE… OUT CAME…. THE UNDER…..

Oh no… sorry, out came GOLDUST! Goldust told Cnea that he had always had his dreams taken from him, but now he wanted to share the ‘silver screen’ with someone like Cena at Wrestlemania. He said that ends today, that he was taking control of Cena’s dreams of competing for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania and that tonight John Cena your dreams will be “SHATTERED” before laying out Cena with a strong forearm. Cena and Goldust then had a pretty poor match (John Cena vs Goldust in 2018 is never going to be a classic mind you). Crowd was dead again but to be fair I don’t blame them this time as this was about as obvious an ending to any match I’ve seen for some time. I’m not even going to justify it by explaining it, you know how this ended. This really did seem pointless, Cena was on Raw for the sake of it with really nothing new to say. He could’ve said all this on Smackdown. I get that he’s JOHN CENA and you want to use him whilst you can but really what the hell was the point of all this. And I am an unforgiving Goldust fan, I love the guy. Severely underrated throughout his career, but in 2018 after what seemed like a bit of a push around Summerslam time last year, when it appeared he was going back to as close to Attitude Era Goldust as we’ve seen since, which would’ve been great. This ‘push’ was literally dropped completely for no apparent reason and now even I really don’t see Goldust as adding anything now. Use him if you have a big idea for him, don’t waste a legend on a throwaway job out to John Cena. Doesn’t do anybody any good.

Kurt Angle backstage with Elias. Elias asked Angle if he could cancel his match against Braun Strowman this evening (from what is being said it’ll be some form of gimmick match with musical instruments scattered around as potential weapons, ok then…, should be fun). Kurt says no, the match will be on. Also later in the show will be the 3rd annual “Mizzies” as well as PAUL HEYMAN responding to Roman Reigns’ EXTRAORDINARY (and genuinely quite brilliant) on Brock Lesnar last week. WOWSERS! Bayley is then shown walking backstage for a match and to give her thoughts on her recent differences with her “best friend” Sasha Banks.

So Bayley is in the ring now, there’s a recap of her non-tag on Sasha last week, before Charley Caruso asks Bayley about that and as Bayley is about to explain herself she is interrupted by Absolution. Paige has the mic and congratulates Bayley for ‘growing a backbone’. She follows up by saying she is still a “stupid little kid” and has now pushed away the only person who cares for her (this was pretty good heel work from Paige). So the match itself will be the Golden Goddess (and she really is) Mandy Rose with Sonya Deville and the aforementioned Paige in her corner against Bayley. The usually green Rose actually looked quite good in this one, lots of good moves as she started the match on top getting a nearfall. Bayley was though back on top going into to the ad break as Mandy rolled to the outside and the sanctuary of her teammates support.

An ad break is followed by some more good stuff from both Bayley and Mandy Rose, a running knee from Rose that got a nearfall was particularly impressive (should also be noted, for the first time since an injury ruled her out of Summerslam last year, Bayley wore no supportive tape on her shoulder). Eventually Sonya Deville attempted to distract Bayley which led to a Mandy Rose roll up, but this in turn was countered into another roll up and Bayley got the win. Immediately after this Absolution beatdown the victor (well Sonya and Mandy did the beating as Paige barked out orders), this was until Sasha Banks made the save. Banks went to help Bayley up after Absolution had fled, but Bayley then rejected the Legit Boss’ offer of a hug. She pushed her away and left… the build up to a likely Mania showdown continues *smiles alot*.

Next up was a great segment; Alexa Bliss was backstage with Nia Jax who was still visibly upset and sporting an ice pack after her crushing loss earlier in the evening. Alexa would tell her accomplice Mickie James to leave her to it, before repeated;y belittling her ‘friend’ Nia. But she was able to do it in such a condescending way it was truly great ‘bad guy’ stuff to watch she did it really well. I particularly appreciated the lines ‘it must be so embarrassing’, ‘don’t feel like a failure or like you let your family down’, ‘you’ve been an outcast all your life… I’ve seen the way people look at you even now’. Bear in mind Nia Jax is crying her heart out by this point. Alexa made her exit as the tears from Jax continued. If this wasn’t making it blatantly obvious that Jax vs Bliss is the Mania match with Jax as a face I don’t even know, but for what this was supposed to be it did it tremendously well.

It was then made OFFICIAL (aka they showed a graphic with it on) that Ronda & Angle vs Stephanie & HHH was ON for Mania. Braun Iphone promo next, I refuse to even acknowledge these exist from now on. Next up was the aforementioned match between Elias and Strowman. A ‘Symphony of Destruction’ match; No DQ’s, No count outs, Falls Count Anywhere, and there are an array of musical instruments across the entrance rampway. Elias out first and played the PIANO as he did his normal stuff that was obviously superb, then the drums, then the guitar as he plays his song as he walks to the ring; in typical Elias fashion this was hilarious. He then asks for his usual intro from ring announcer JoJo; but as the spotlight goes on the awaiting stool in the ring it appears that Elias has run away to the back of the arena. He runs further through the backstage area and eventually into the carpark area. As he struggles to start his getaway car he turns around to find Braun has lifted his car from the ground to stop it starting. Elias scampers out the car as Braun RUNS (which is really something to behold) after him! They make their way back out into the arena where on the rampway Braun proceeds to chase him back to the ring. He then drags him tout of the ring and towards the announce table, something which Elias escapes from his potential doom again with a rake of the eyes (just like last week).

Braun then proceeds to unleash a series of attacks to Elias utilising the nearby instruments; he throws him into the set of guitars, he once again smashes him over the back with a giant base, and to finish of with Braun traps Elias underneath a Piano. He then plays it aggressively before lifting it up and smashing it back down on the prone Elias. Braun then did his roar to the crowd before taking mercy on his opponent and getting the pin. This one was fun enough and certainly did its job. Given the nature of it mind and that Elias was carried out on a stretcher it appears this is just a feud for TV, which begs the question what now for Braun Strowman
(and Elias also) going into Wrestlemania???

Next up was Rhyno with Heath Slater vs Bray Wyatt. I don’t like to talk too much about my former favourite WWE superstar these days because it just makes me sad. This
one was a win for Bray in around a minute. Bray then did a promo after where he called out Matt Hardy. He was answered by the WOKEN one on the big screen who told him the only place that could contain their next encounter would be the HARDY COMPOUND!!! There was then some signature footage very reminiscent of the footage used in TNA. The suggestion of a ‘ULTIMATE DELETION’ was surely an indication we will indeed get a pre filmed match-thing at Wrestlemania. This got a big roar from the crowd, and unsurprisingly so for me. As this is what Matt did well in TNA so something similar in WWE would be… well… WONDERFUL YEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!

The Miz and the Miztourage presented the ‘Mizzies’ next. He gave out awards such as ‘Best at patting yourself on the back’ and ‘Worst decision by a Raw GM’ to put
down Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Kurt Angle. He was eventually interrupted by Seth and Finn before a 3 on 2 handicap was made.Balor and Rollins vs Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Balor and Seth won. Angle came out and made a triple threat for the IC Title at Mania. I like all these guys but this whole bit of the show kind of sucked. Nothing to it at all. We all knew where it was heading and the content was dire. Shame really.

Final part of the show was Paul Heyman heading to the ring WITH the Universal Championship belt. He did his usual introduction before saying he was here to deliver a message on behalf of his client (Brock Lesnar); he layed down the Universal Championship belt and made a reference to that in the future the UFC Championship may also be layed down by the Beast. He said Roman Reigns had a lot to say last week and he was responding (and boy was he ever). He reminded everyone that Roman had the biggest win of his career last year when he defeated The Undertaker in the main event of Wrestlemania last year. He asked if anyone had mentioned that Undertaker only wrestled 1 time last year? “No, because if they did that statement would be BULLSHIT”! ‘THE UNDERTAKER IS THE UNDERTAKER 365 DAYS A YEAR, BROCK LESNAR IS BROCK LESNAR 365 DAYS A YEAR”! He went on to say “AFA Wrestlemania you can SEEKA new title to challenge for as this (raising the Universal Championship belt) one belongs to Brock Lesnar”. If you don’t get the relevance of AFA and SEEKA just google who Roman Reigns Dad and Uncle are.

Heyman would continue: ‘You know last week when you called Brock Lesnar a bitch, this (the Universal Title) is Brock Lesnar’s bitch. and Roman Reigns you can’t have her,
… You want to be Universal Champion because your family’s bloodline is in this business… when you’re Universal Champion THIS is your bloodline, … You want to be
Universal Champion? On the Saturday before Wrestlemania if you get a phone call saying something has happened to your father, really really bad and you need to come home, you can’t. Why? Because this title needs you more… Next week my client will be here… but don’t shoot on the mic with Paul Heyman, and don’t shoot in the ring with Brock Lesnar’. I’ve condensed what was said a fair bit there but it was all really good stuff from Heyman as per, really passionate in defence of his client.

As Heyman goes to leave Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring. The challenger questions why Lesnar has sent Heyman, before saying that Brock “really is a bitch”, and that all he and the fans ask is that he shows up and the fans have their champion come to work, we want him to want to be here; “I’ll put it real simple for you, you said Brock is in Detroit next week for Raw, tell Brock he can say whatever he wants to my face, but tell him not to dress for a promo but to dress for a fight”! Paul Heyman then leaves the ring as Roman has laid his challenge…. WOWSERS that was intense. It is going to be a real spectical next week when Lesnar and Reigns actually go face to face. Literally ANYTHING could happen! Cannot wait!

And that was Raw. Decent show, all parts of the show built towards a Wrestlemania story and some of the stories really got a good progression tonight.

 

Key Points to Take Home:

– Kurt Angle can move again, and Ronda can go in the ring too! HHH and Stephanie seem well into this feud as well (Mrs HHH took a BUMP fgs)! The Mania match will be fine.

– Bayley is on her way back

– Nia is on her way to being the top female babyface in the company

– Braun NEEDS something at Mania. He deserves something HUGE

– I’m legitimately worried Lesnar may kill Roman next week

 

Conclusion

Wrestlemania is 4 weeks from Sunday and this was a great build up to the show of shows. Everyone on this show had a purpose or a story going into Mania (with Goldust and Slater & Rhyno used as cannon fodder to further other stories) but this Raw was a really good example of lots of different stories being told in one show without
it all feeling a bit convoluted and glued together. I’m really excited to see how all the stories on Raw are told as we head on to Mania. The real A show in WWE is excelling creatively at the minute, I just hope the momentum continues over the next few weeks and we get some great finales to these fascinating tales. Please do it
good… PLEASE!?

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points to take home:

– John Cena is the top man for a reason

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

– Someone liven up the US Title scene PLEASE

– Nakamura is really good

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

Conclusion

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

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

*GONG*

Josh.

Smackdown 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.