WWE week in review – April 27 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

Josh.

WWE week in review – April 20 2018

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

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

Also going to Raw =

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points To Take Home

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

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

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

. Ronda could legit kill Stephanie McMahon

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

Conclusion

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

Josh.

Raw 12/3/18 Review: IT’S HAPPENING!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to Take Home

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

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

. The Ultimate Deletion will be an absolute madness!

. WTF IS GOING ON WITH BRAUN?

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

Conclusion

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

Anything else I’ve missed???

Oh yeah…

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

Josh.

Raw 26/2/18 Review: Monday Night RONDA

So Raw tonight takes place just 24 hours after the Elimination Chamber PPV, as we are now WELL on the road to Wrestlemania! We begin with a recap of the Men’s Chamber match from the previous evening; Braun’s dominance before Reigns triumph. We will apparently have a Lesnar – Reigns face off later tonight and also RONDA ROUSEY will be appearing too!

Now… I must admit I am a UFC fan, and with that a HUGE Ronda fan. There’s every chance I’ll purchase one of her WWE shirts at some point. I watched her defend her UFC Championship multiple times and I watched her crushing defeats. Her Armbar in the octagon was a work of art and her acting isn’t bad either… oh and I think she’s hot as hell… and now she’s here in WWE I could not be happier! This is one of the biggest stars on the planet so I’ll repeat what I said in my review of Elimination Chamber; DO NOT FUCK THIS UP WWE!

There is a recap of Rousey’s contract signing from Elimination Chamber, she of course put Triple H through a table and then got a slap from Stephanie McMahon for her troubles. Let’s see where that goes later shall we…

First out though is (STILL) the Raw Women’s Champion, after winning the Women’s chamber match; Alexa Bliss, and she is accompanied by Mickie James, who it appears is a heel again now (o….k then…). We get a recap of Asuka beating Nia Jax too as Michael Cole says that ‘apparently’ we are getting Alexa Bliss vs Asuka now at Wrestlemania (I’m doubtful…). Alexa cuts a promo bigging herself up, she credits Mickie, and she says Absolution (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) both have bright futures just not whilst she is the champion, she describes Bayley as a “sad situation” and says Sasha Banks has a “massive ego”. And she tells us all that she will go to Wrestlemania and she is going to break Asuka’s streak… and then right on que comes out the undefeated Empress of Tomorrow herself with a purposeful walk to the ring.

Alexa says “are you kidding me?”, crowd chant “Asuka’s gonna kill you”, Alexa reminds Asuka that she can’t be 100% after her attack from Nia after the match last night, says Nia ‘deserves’ to be in the championship match at Wrestlemania (BE CAREFUL what you wish for Miss Bliss…), she then proceeds to take the mickey out of Asuka’s English skills by speaking to her very slowly which was something the crowd did not like at all (I did think it was a bit much personally as I didn’t think Alexa needed to go there but it was a great way to get heat on her mind, something that is always tricky in modern day WWE when a heel is so good at what they do). After this was over Nia Jax made her way to the ring, Asuka strikes first by attacking Alexa and Mickie but Nia is there to give her group the advantage, Asuka gets her armbar in on Nia but Bliss and James are back in the ring now and attack Asuka. The 3 of them then beat her down before Bayley and Sasha comes out to make the save. They are both immediately flattened by Nia, Asuka hits Jax, Alexa hits Asuka and the heels end the segment standing tall. Decent start to the show with this segment, maybe we will get Asuka vs Bliss at Mania after all? But Nia is being made to look really strong for a purpose surely?

We return from the ad break and indeed we have a 6 woman tag pitting Alexa, Nia and Mickie vs Asuka, Sasha and Bayley. James and Bayley begin in the ring, the 2 have a very good exchange, Nia is tagged in and she dominates. She then tags in Alexa and she is too on top until Bayley rams Bliss’ head into the turnbuckle a few times to regain control of the match. There is then a hard, aggressive tag to Sasha that is made (arching to the mini-turn Sasha did at the chamber when she pushed Bayley off the chamber pod). Good back and forth from Banks and Bliss, The Boss does a few attacks on Bliss in the corner with her knees to get a 2 count. Bliss then rolls out of the ring which leads Sasha to kick Mickie and Bliss down, and as Sasha goes outside the ring she runs into Nia who pummels her. Alexa Bliss capitalises on this by placing Sasha back in the ring, only to be able to get a 2 count. Nia Jax is then in the ring with Banks and isolates her enough so she cannot get a tag, Mickie and then Alexa quickly tag in and Bliss even gets in a cheap-shot on Asuka. Banks in desperation then crawls to her corner to make a tag, but with Asuka down she goes to tag in Bayley but The Hugger jumps away and rejects Sasha’s tag attempt! Bayley’s revenge!!!! YES YES YES! Give me more Bayley with a bit about her PLEASE!

Banks is finally able to tag in Asuka, who then goes on an absolute tear! She attacks Mickie in the ring and Nia on the outside before eventually locking in the Armbar on Mickie and James taps out to give the faces the win. A great few different stories being told in this one, many different avenues they can all go. And nice to see more than one or two females on Raw have an individual story they can follow through now. This match served a few purposes as well; Asuka got the win to look strong (and Mickie can take a loss at this stage), Bayley and Sasha’s story continues to unfold, and Nia looked good as did Bliss also. Good stuff all round to begin the show.

There is then a recap of John Cena’s appearance on Raw talk last night, when he seemed very despondent indeed (see my Elimination Chamber review blog). He will be out next then… and this could be HUGE!!!

So… John Cena comes out, he takes a long look at the Wrestlemania sign, and then says “last night I failed… I was then immediately put in front of a microphone and I felt demoralised, I know where I am at… I spent 5 minutes feeling sorry for myself afterwards… no one else in WWE will be willing to say they failed… when you say you fail you fail alone… you have 2 choices when you fail and I’m stepping up… I’m fired up because I have figured it out and I’m standing in this ring and I’m going to do something I should’ve done a long time ago…….. And that is put out a Wrestlemania challenge………….“ …..

“TO THE UNDERTAKER!!!!!!!!!!!” AND THE CROWD LOSES THEIR FUCKING SHIT (and I nearly fell off my chair ngl)!!!!

Cena continues saying: ‘that is Wrestlemania… and that match is not happening (crowd boo).. I don’t make the matches, and I’ve been told that match is impossible. Now you all know what disappointment feels like.” (Sad times). Cena finishes up saying “My Wrestlemania road will go through Smackdown, and as a free agent I will go to Smackdown Live tomorrow and do whatever it takes to earn a spot at Wrestlemania. See you tomorrow night”. And then he leaves. WOW! One hell of a promo from Cena that, even by his lofty standards. I guess Cena is going to Smackdown for a bit then… Maybe Undertaker won’t happen now…. MAYBE….

Bray Wyatt is out to the ring next up. He will appear to be having a match with Heath Slater next. But Bray then destroys both Slater and his tag team partner Rhyno before the match can even begin. Bray then cuts a promo saying Matt Hardy was the reason he had to do harm to these “innocent men”, the great war is far from over and that they’ll meet again and next time he will make sure Matt’s “WOKEN eyes” stay shut forever, finishing of with “I’m coming for you, RUN”! This story I really want to love ,but am really struggling to, just continues to go on… (Bray Wyatt was WWE CHAMPION going into last year’s Wrestlemania… just putting that out there…).

Next up was something that I really didn’t understand… I’ll explain…

So Miz comes out with The Miztourage, he talks up himself and the role of Intercontinental Champion and that he is one of the all-time great IC Title holders with a really impassioned promo. He says Kurt Angle has told him his opponent tonight MIGHT influence who he will face at Wrestlemania… and so to challenge him tonight out comes… SETH ROLLINS! Seth and Miz have a really, really fun match. Seth Rollins is just on absolute fire at the moment, the finish of this one saw Rollins hit a frog splash were he flew approximately three quarters of the length of the ring to hit The Miz and claim the win. Great stuff, really good, and then as Seth is celebrating out comes Finn Balor… Rollins looks on angrily before walking off in disgust as Balor steals Rollins’ limelight. After the ad break it appears Miz will now face Balor 1 on 1. Eventually after the Miztourage and Gallows and Anderson are sent packing the match is made properly. An OK match eventually ends with Finn getting the win. Seth declares his intentions in an interview with Renee after Finn’s match that he wants the IC Title at Wrestlemania. What annoyed me about all this was if you’re trying to make Miz your despised, cocky, arrogant heel then why oh why would you have the babyface GM pick on him by making him compete twice in a row and belittle him beforehand? That’s going to make people side with The Miz not boo him! And for Finn to come down as your babyface to take on an already tired Miz doesn’t make him anymore of a face either? I just didn’t get the thought process behind all this. Nonetheless if we get a triple threat at Mania and the Demon wins, then happy days.

Roman Reigns came out to the ring next, he cut a BRILLIANT promo that may have been his best ever. He began by saying that everything he says is the truth and that he made good on his claims of winning the chamber and that he will the same at Mania when he wins the Universal Championship, then he APPEARED to shoot as he said ‘I don’t know why I’m covering for this guy’ and then revealed Lesnar wasn’t here tonight (despite being advertised). And that Brock was “an entitled piece of crap who hides behind his contract” before continuing on how Brock was in Vegas as was the ppv last night but that Lesnar was more interested in taking pictures with Dana White and UFC stuff (see Instagram for that picture btw, I do love when real life stuff is used in pro wrestling, does wonders for the story). He also mentioned how he is sick of how he and everyone else was here busting their asses every single week whilst Lesnar shows up when he wants. He says he does not respect him and that “I don’t fear that bitch!” It was really good stuff from Roman and I won’t say too much on it because I URGE you all to just go and watch it for yourselves on WWE’s YouTube. It was FANTASTIC! Well done Mr Reigns! Often criticised but he absolutely smashed it here. (Low Key I am all in now on Roman Reigns, this promo really made me want Roman to beat Lesnar for the title, so job done there then!).

The Bar vs Titus Worldwide for the Raw tag titles in the most pointless 2/3 falls match ever!!!! Sheamus and Cesaro won 2-0. Less said about this the better. POINTLESS! The bar were interviewed after and basically ran down all the teams they had previously beaten and said they may be punished by Kurt Angle for not having any competition and so missing out on Mania due to a lack of challengers… they wouldn’t be too far from the truth at this stage. Maybe an NXT call up or The WOKEN/BROKEN/OBSELETE Hardys perhaps??? Hopefully something…

Next in the ring was Elias. He did more of his usual BRILLIANCE. Naturally he’s interrupted by Braun Strowman. They have a fairly short match that Braun dominates, until Elias retrieves a fire extinguisher from under the ring and sprays it over Strowman for the DQ. The 2 eventually brawl all the way to the back of the arena until Elias makes his escape. “I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU” declares Braun. Indeed this rivalry is not. For what this was it was good, I want both men to have so much more in the future though…

It’s then announced Asuka will face Nia Jax again next week. Would expect Asuka to win again in the grand scheme but who knows?

ANYWAY we finish the show with RONDA!

Stephanie & HHH make their way to the ring; Stephanie goes over last night, and says that although she understands why Ronda got physical she needs to speak to her and remind her of the hierarchy as ,after signing her contract, Ronda Rousey is now owned by WWE. She then calls out Kurt Angle… but instead… a ferocious looking Ronda Rousey comes storming to the ring. Kurt then quickly comes out to try and calm things; Ronda tells Kurt she meant every word she said about ‘wanting this more than anything’. But that she had never been slapped before in her life (as she stares glaringly at Stephanie). Angle goes on to explain to Ronda that she must act within the system, he says “I need this job”, and that all the things he alleged Triple H & Stephanie said about her last night were lies (we’re obviously meant to believe Kurt is again lying here to protect his job).

Stephanie thanks Kurt for his ‘apology’ and tries to move on. But Rousey demands Stephanie apologise to her for the slap, and that if she doesn’t she won’t hesitate to “rip your arm out of your socket” (something the Anaheim crowd seem well up for). McMahon though gets in Rousey’s face and delivers her ‘apology’. As the two authority figures make their exit HHH stops and delivers a right hand to Kurt Angle that knocks the Raw GM to the ring floor. Raw closes with Hunter and Stephanie standing tall as they make their exit and Ronda tending to Angle in the ring. We are 1000% getting Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs Stephanie McMahon & Triple H at Wrestlemania then…

And that was Raw then. Ok show overall, not the best from an in ring standpoint but two of the flag bearers of the company gave two fantastic promos, and the other segments on the show did their job on the whole.

Key points to take home:

– One of Alexa or Nia needs to turn, eventually…

– One of Sasha or Bayley needs to turn, eventually…

– John Cena is still the man on the mic, but Roman Reigns has potential to surpass him

– Raw’s tag team division needs a serious reboot

– WWE needs to decide what they’re doing with Braun Strowman

Conclusion

Clearly the two most intriguing parts of the show were the promos of Cena and Reigns. Questions will continue as to what the status is of The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar respectively. But if there are questions to be answered still it means people will continue to watch WWE tv to find out the answers. We still don’t know if Cena vs Taker is happening, if Lesnar really does care more about UFC than WWE or what on earth is happening in any of the championship divisions on Raw atm. Add Ronda Rousey to that and you have a potentially VERY good product indeed! As the road to Wrestlemania continues the intrigue rises, hopefully Raw’s creative team can keep us interested all the way to the big one in New Orleans… good luck to them!

Josh.

NXT 21/2/2018 Review: THANK YOU JOHNNY

NXT tonight begins with a great video package on the evolution of the NXT career of the current NXT Champion, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. This is, of course, ahead of his championship vs NXT career match against Johnny Gargano later in this episode. We certainly have an absolute BLOCKBUSTER NXT ahead of us…

We begin with The Velveteen Dream (you may well be aware but I quite like The Velveteen Dream… A LOT) as he makes his usual provocative, flamboyant entrance, he’s followed by his opponent, another showman, NXT veteran No Way Jose. Should be fun indeed this one. “VEL-VE-TEEN” chants from the crowd as the match begins with The Dream starting with some real hard hitting attacks, he does a dance move where he shakes his hips to mock the moves that No Way Jose usually exhibits. No Way Jose responds with an attack before sending Velveteen over the top rope before flying over to topple his opponent and reclaim control of the match.

Both men are then back in the ring now and Dream hangs Jose on the ropes, hits a neckbreaker and then after going to the top rope he then only runs into a raised foot from his opponent and then a small package that got a 2 count. Dream is hit by multiple shots, he’s slammed down, hit in the corner, slammed down again, tossed into a turnbuckle before he finally comes back with a missile dropkick followed by a rolling Death Valley driver from the Velveteen Dream. He then goes to the top and hits his Purple Rainmaker elbow drop and the Velveteen Dream claims the win. Good little match this, Velveteen’s development continues, he is THE future of NXT and WWE, mark my words! After the match he cuts a promo and (with more “VEL-VE-TEEN” chants from the adoring Atlanta crowd) explains that with all the awards he won at the NXT awards for 2017 that nobody cares about fellow award winners Aleister Black, Asuka or Tyler Bate. And that, acknowledging the crowd chants, that his name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue here tonight and if you can’t see that “I just don’t have time for you”… Velveteen Dream is great. Simple as.

Next Andrade Almas and his associate Zelina Vega are shown in the locker room with Vega giving him a motivational talk. After this NXT GM William Regal announces the return of the ‘Dusty Rhodes Classic’ tag team tournament. This was set up in honour of the NXT founding father that it is named after, and has run twice previously in 2015 and 2016. Regal announces that the winners of the tournament will receive an NXT Tag Team title opportunity at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. I must admit I am surprised they are having the tournament over and done with this quickly BEFORE Takeover, especially given the team I believe will win the Classic have only just arrived in WWE, and therefore I’d be surprised if they got the title opportunity immediately, but saying that I would be PLEASANTLY surprised if that were to be the case.

Random point but I must just comment on how absolutely excellent the NXT commentary team are. Mauro Ranallo may be the best lead announcer in the game, Nigel McGuinness the best colour commentator and Percy Watson has really come into his own in the past few months. Just another reason to watch NXT every week. Anyway on with the rest of the show… Up next is Sanity’s Nikki Cross vs Vanessa Borne (I’ve a feeling I might like this one…). The Mae Young Classic competitor out first followed by one of my absolute favourites, to a big crowd pop; the Glaswegian, twisted sister Nikki Cross. One of the best characters in NXT right now and her commitment to the role is first class, basically she is a psychopath. And her in ring work is sound to say the least (I’d advise watching her last woman standing match with Asuka when you can), and I absolutely love her.

Nikki Cross immediately charges Vanessa Borne and unleashes on her in the corner. The unhinged Cross then climbs the back of Borne before a 360 slam from the former dancer gets her a 2 count. Vanessa hits a strong forearm for another 2 count. She then stomps repeatedly upon Nikki before burying her shin in Cross’ neck following up with a great suplex for another nearfall. Cross tries to get out of a rest hold but Vanessa slams her down to the canvas for yet another 2 count. Nikki Cross, with her signature sadistic smile, is hit repeatedly by Borne, a banshee type scream from Sanity’s leading lady is followed up with a crossbody and a series of forearms from Cross. Cross then finds herself on the top rope and delivers a diving crossbody followed by a swinging neck breaker to give her the win. A typical NXT structure to this match, but it was still good. Nikki got all her stuff in and Vanessa looked good in what she did too. With apologies to Drew McIntyre, Miss Hooley and Amy Macdonald it could well be Nikki Cross who is my favourite person from the Scottish isles. She is really, really, REALLY great!

There’s then a brief recap of the Aleister Black – Killian Dain confrontation from last week. I’m all for everything to do with this. Johnny Gargano is then shown with Candice LeRae backstage looking very focussed ahead of his big match tonight. They’re my favourite wresting couple, so much love for them both. A tweet from TM61’s Shane Thorne is then shown in relation to the Dusty Rhodes Classic. TM61 actually got to the final of the last rendition, and it was after that match TM61 were off TV for over a year due to injury. Another brief recap then shows the Ember Moon – Shayna Baszler match from last week and the intervention of Kairi Sane. It’s announced following this that the Queen of Spades will next week go one on one with The Pirate Princess as Baszler will face Sane in a rematch of the Mae Young Classic final (YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!).

Well here we go then; out comes the NXT champion Andrade Almas with Zelina Vega by his side (these two just ooze star power). They are then followed out by Mr AND Mrs Wrestling as Candice LeRae accompanies her husband Johnny Gargano to the ring, Candice sporting a ‘Mrs Johnny Wrestling’ t shirt (this was too many levels of adorable). The match begins with Almas trying to win quickly and failing. Almas then kneeing Gargano, before Gargano hits a step-up inziguiri in the corner, a lariat and a clothesline then sends Almas to the outside, Johnny then goes to perform his signature Tope Suiceda move but instead it is Vega who is stood in Almas’ previous position which causes Gargano to pause. In frustration Candice then chases after Vega to the back of the arena. Finally Almas doesn’t have his trusted aide by his side.

Johnny hits a flurry of punches to Andrade on the outside, he throws him back in the ring but Almas eventually slams him down on the ring apron. Back in the ring and ‘El Idolo’ gets a 2 count. He then delivers a brutal-looking armbar using the ring ropes for leverage, followed up with another flurry of punches. Almas then shows some good foresight with a hammerlock submission move and then driving Gargano’s shoulder into the turnbuckle, the commentary team noting this damage to his shoulder will make it more difficult for Gargano to lock in his Gargano Escape submission later in the match. Another Almas nearfall is greeted with a chorus of “JOHHNY WRESTLING” chants from the crowd, much to the champion’s annoyance although he is well in control now.

Almas then has an armlock locked in, but Gargano counters with knees to Almas’ mid-section, a suplex and a kick from Gargano, he chops away at Almas in the corner, then the same in another corner, a hurricanrana and then a beautiful Slingshot Spear, all of which ONLY gets Gargano a 2 count. Both men exchange strikes, Johnny goes for a superkick but it is countered as Almas powers up and hits a Bucklebomb followed up with his running knees in the corner but Mr Wrestling is somehow able to kick out of the pin attempt (all terrific stuff from Almas whilst on offence here). Almas goes for his finisher but Gargano drives Andrade into the corner, only for that to be reversed and Gargano’s shoulder again taking more damage. With both men on the ring apron they exchange strikes before Gargano, having put Almas back into the ring, attempts a slingshot DDT that is caught and turned into a wonderful-looking Fujiwara armbar from Almas. Gargano only escapes this by rolling Andrade up for a nearfall pin attempt.

Johnny Wrestling himself then goes for a hammerlock ddt of his own that is turned into a small package from Almas, Gargano then does one of his own with both getting 2 counts. Almas then does his double knees in the corner move again for another nearfall. Unsuccessful with this, Andrade then places Gargano on the top ropes, but Gargano responds with headbutts to knock Almas down, Gargano then performs an exquisite Tope Suiceda into a tornado DDT followed by a slingshot DDT on Almas in the ring, but this still only gets a 2 count.

With both men on their knees inside the ring exchanging strikes, this continues when both men return to their feet. Gargano then finds himself on Almas shoulders but escapes, and as Almas charges at him to retaliate he instead charges and knocks down the referee. With the authority figure in the match down Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape looking on the verge of the NXT Championship… but then…

TOMASSO CIAMPA (Gargano’s former tag team partner, see my Johnny Gargano blog for the back story here) is in the ring. He hits Gargano with a crutch before escaping through the crowd. Almas then hits a Hammerlock DDT and with the ref back up, much to the verbal horror of Mauro Ranallo on commentary, Almas wins the match. Johnny Gargano’s NXT career is OVER!

It seems secondary given the quality of the story being told but the match itself was really good. Almas and Vega go to the back as they celebrate, as Candice LeRae returns to the ring to console her despondent husband. Crowd seems in shock. Standing ovation for maybe the finest wrestler we have ever had in NXT. “NO NO NO” chants the crowd as the ring announcer proclaims, per the match stipulation, that Gargano must indeed leave NXT. “THANK YOU JOHNNY” they chant as Gargano and LeRae make their exit. The final shot of the show is of a content looking Ciampa waving his former friend goodbye. What this all means and where it all goes remains to be seen, but this storytelling has been first class.

And that was yet another fantastic episode of NXT.

Key points to take home:

– Velveteen is a Dream

– Nikki Cross would be fine on her own if it came to it, she’s that good

– War Machine… that is all

– What now for Gargano?

– What now for Ciampa?

Conclusion

The people who run and write Smackdown should watch NXT. That’s how you tell compelling stories utilising all your top talents whilst not even having to have them appear on TV every week. NXT does this beautifully. It really does fill me with joy every time I watch it. I’ll always be grateful for you NXT, you’re the best!

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…

Raw 5/2/18 Review: twists and turns on the road to come?

First of all apologies if this is a bit long to read. My first attempt after all at reviewing a full show. Trying to be concise when you have 3 hours of content to talk about isn’t easy. Anyway lets talk about Raw shall we?

Roman vs Bray first then. Winner is in the chamber. For a match where 95% of people knew the finish going in they did OK. Roman isn’t a bad wrestler and neither is Bray… still makes me sad to think a year ago where Bray was mind. Roman won but you knew that before reading this lbh.

Oh and after the match after being shown throughout it watching backstage the WOKEN one attempted to DELETE Bray. I like these 2 greatly, I was one who for a few months actually fought the pain barrier to watch TNA in order to follow the original BROKEN universe. I paid money to see him perform in the flesh too.

I think we are heading towards a gimmick Final Deletion/House of horros mash up at Mania, which considering is likely to last (all in all) around the 7 hour mark, those of us watching it live I’m sure will be very much greatful for some lighter entertainment.

Jason Jordan and hometown boy Seth Rollins doing a backstage promo next. If you knew the full extent of Jason Jordan’s health issues rn you’d understand whilst I really hope Jordan takes ZERO bumps in the match, they lose and he’s then written off tv for the foreseeable…

Gallows and Anderson closely followed by Finn Balor out next to the ring. The match was against The Revival. Yes sadly no Luke Gallows in this one as he had to sit it out. Although there’s not much substace to this Balor club – Revival feud I have always thought it better for someone to be doing ‘something’ on TV than nothing so lets see where it goes… Balor club won. Obviously.

Backstage next with Sasha and Bayley. Sasha again teasing the much awaited main roster heel turn. I’m so ready for this! It’d do wonders for Bayley and Sasha. Because heel/nxt Sasha Banks was awesome. And it’d give Bayley the boost she needs too if Sasha turns on her.

The cruiserweights next. I won’t say too much because tbh I don’t care. I feel something good is coming though. Having Rockstar Spud (another ex TNA star) … sorry Drake Maverick (?) as gm is something I guess and the tournament for the title ending at Mania makes it a big deal. I guess it’ll be on the pre show but still. For the record Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali beat Drew Gulak and Tony Nese with Cedric pinning Gulak. Drake Maverick was a guest on commentary.

Kurt Angle then came out to announce the participants for the Women’s Elimination Chamber match. He stuttered his way through this promo, albeit he had a lot to remember but as the gm he should know his lines better for me. The big shock here was Mickie James is in the match and not Nia Jax. Angle then explains she will instead face Asuka at the ppv and if she wins it’ll be a triple threat at Wrestlemania.

I dont mind Asuka vs Nia. Keeps Nia out the chamber if you don’t want to go that way and the stipulation makes it worthwhile. It does make me change my mania card predictions, seems now maybe Alexa vs Asuka on Raw and maybe Charlotte vs Becky on Smackdown? Still plenty of time to go and things could change but yes a suprise to me.

Alexa Bliss eventually comes out and has a real fun back and forth on the mic with Angle, Bliss basically playing the whiney, heel card and Angle cleverly using the crowd to help back up his points. I enjoyed it. It did it’s job well.

After this was… oh good…another iphone promo, Cena this time… just stop with these PLEASE! ZZZZZzzzzz….

Next up was Bayley vs Asuka. I saw thse 2 have a great series of matches in NXT and this match was pretty good also. Bayley got a lot of offence in and was on top throughout. I should point out btw (if you don’t know already) I ADORE Asuka. She can do no wrong to me.

Also I wanted to mention that during this match Jonathan Coachman on commentary made a comment which he basically, in reponse to Cole talking about what the 2 participants did in NXT, said that ‘this is different to NXT. The lights are a little brighter here… etc..’ I just felt in was really unnecessary to go out of his way to belittle NXT. NXT is in fact a far better product all round than Raw and Smackdown. The big shows they do are better than those of the main roster for sure. Not cool Coach, not cool.

Anyhow Asuka eventually overcame a Bayley comeback to lock in the submission (which was an exquisitely executed jumping armbar) for the win. The 2 had a handshake after, 2 faces so it made sense. For where it was in the show it was good stuff all round.

An iPhone promo from The Bar followed… just stop…

Miz vs Apollo Crews. Miz did a typically great heel promo before the match. Apollo accompanied by his Titus Worldwide teammates (… good lord… where do I start…). What you’d expect from this. Above average match, Apollo got some cool looking moves in. Miz won. He’s in the chamber.

So Seth and Jason Jordan are backstage and turns out Jordan isn’t medically fit… no suprise to me (for those of you who don’t know Jordan has really serious neck issues and needs surgery. Similar issues to what Edge had. He had to retire after multiple neck issues.). [SEE END OF BLOG FOR UPDATE]. Seth isn’t happy… but I guess they had to write Jordan out the match somehow and this only adds fuel to the story. Seth now needs a new partner… enter… “THE BIG DOG” (Cole, 2017).

So the match is set then… god how awful are Rollins’ trunks btw? His “Iowa’s down” tee was much better. Good hometown pop for Seth too. Roman doing double duty tonight then, he really is the big dog eh? …

This match was 4 talented guys putting on a decent match. No big suprises in terms of moves and tactics particularly from The Bar but it was entertaining enough. Eventually Roman and Sheamus are down in the ring and Cesaro and Rollins are OOA… out comes Jason Jordan. He helps Seth to his feet allowing Reigns to make the hot tag which naturally gets a big pop.

Jordan eventually trips Cesaro which leads to a near fall for Rollins. The Bar then decide they’ve had enough and attempt to take their belts and take the count out. But Jordan stops them… he then strikes Sheamus who had goaded him into it. Sheamus and Cesaro are delighted they’ve got out of jail again, Roman and Seth look on bemused, Jordan looks devastated at realising the consequences of his actions.

Afterwards Seth is backstage fuming with Jordan. Angle then comes in to try and defend his son (his son… ffs…). This leads to Kurt telling his son to go home til he is medically cleared. So we’ll see Jason Jordan next in 2019 then? I don’t mind all this… intrigued to see where it all leads… if Ambrose isn’t fit in time for Mania I’m half expecting Angle to face Seth or Jordan’s behalf… which as long as Angle can walk (unlike at Survivor Series) I’m sure Seth could carry him to a good outing.

Nia Jax vs Jobber next. No explanation needed. You know how this went. After she did an in-ring interview with Renee… my how god awful is the dialogue Nia Jax is given? No way she actually talks like that. Perfect example of someone who doesn’t need a script for her promos. Just let her speak for short, sharp bursts. Much better for monster heels. Long, drawn out dialogues are not.

Another iphone promo… Braun Strowman… STOP THE IPHONE PROMOS!!! End of.

Next match was Sonya Deville vs Mickie James. Sonya accompanied by her absolution teammates Mandy Rose (wow… just wow…) and Paige (who fyi is as good as retired. WWE just unsure what to do with her and apparently Paige hasn’t taken the news she’s got to retire too well. Another neck issue. Wrestling since you’re 14 taking it’s toll eventually I guess. Sad stuff.).

This was decent for what it was. Crowd didn’t care too much but putting the experienced James in this role makes sense. Although I’d have thought the match would’ve been better for Mandy Rose, saying that Deville has a win over Sasha Banks a few weeks back so they clearly like her a lot. Mickie eventually won with a roll up, which I thought was the wrong result but the Absolution beat down on Mickie afterwards made up for it.

Real suprise that Alexa Bliss then came down to drag Mickie James out of trouble. I presume they will play on this over the next few weeks as Bliss tries to gain allies going in to the chamber.

Main event up next. Commentary selling all night that half the winners of previous Chamber matches have entered last or second last so going hard on the prize for the winner of this match entering last.

Also next week there will be a 2nd chance match to enter the Elimination Chamber. Balor vs Wyatt vs Hardy vs Crews. Has to be Finn surely? Interesting to note that no mention of Kane who also lost a chamber qualifying match, I’d presume Glenn Jacobs is back doing politics for a bit now. Rollins was also scheduled to be in this match so I’d expect his absence to tie into whatever he does going into Wrestlemania. He missed the Royal Rumble match last year as a by-product of his Mania story so not unusual for him.

Should be a fun one this triple threat, 3 great talents. Elias does his usual thing with the crowd; Spotlight, playing a guitar, sat on his stool. Man… he’s soooooo over! Such a big surprise just how well he has done on Raw. Particularly to those of us who saw him in NXT. Triple H himself has previously said Elias all along in NXT was simply perfecting his gimmick in preparation for the main roster. A complete reverse in his fortunes really as usually a gimmick that is hugely over in NXT often for one reason or another falls flat on the main roster (Tyler Breeze, Bo Dallas, The Ascension come to mind).

Back to Elias. Typically loud response from the crowd. Always delights me how Elias sticks to the heel character by responding to crowd cheers by slagging off the crowd/town he is in. Great stuff.

Cena out next. Usual reaction for him for the last decade. “Doo doo doo doo… JOHN CENA SUCKS… etc. Etc.”. And then the star of the show… BRAAAAAAUUUUUNNNNN!!!

Anyone who has watched Raw for the last 18 months or so, and has no knowledge of any reports outside of what is shown on TV, would assume that the main man in WWE is Braun Strowman. You’d assume it is he who will win the Elimination Chamber. He who will face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Right? Well… we know that wont happen but it should! Definitely! His transformation from Wyatt family enforcer who was as green as garden peas to being the star of the flagship show has been extraordinary. All credit to him.

The match itself wasn’t the longest, 2 ad breaks during it didn’t help. Elias begun doing the classic heel tactic of shying away from Braun as much as he can. Cena tried to use his power on Braun but to no evail. I really like the dynamic between these 3. A good mix. Eventually Cena and Elias worked together to try and take out Braun; Cena used steel steps (yes, JOHN CENA used steel steps on a fellow good guy!) on Braun, Elias smashed his guitar over him and then Cena did the AA to Strowman onto the steps. So Braun was taken out… but obviously he’ll be back… this is WWE after all…

So Cena and Elias exchange offence in the ring with Strowman laid out on the outside. Eventually in culminates in Cena going for a 5 knuckle shuffle but he runs into a Braun running powerslam (who saw that coming… not me… not at all…). Braun goes to do the same to Elias but he manages to make Braun fall to the outside and with Cena still down Elias capitalises to pin the downed Cena for the win. Yes indeed ELIAS PINNED JOHN CENA! Immediately afterwards Braun deliveres his slam to Elias. Then one to Cena, then one to Elias. Then another to Elias.

I don’t mind this at all. Neither Cena nor Braun needed this win or (as commentary would have you believe it) the ‘coveted’ final entrant spot. Elias needed this a great deal more and it more than gives him worth of a spot in the chamber. And Braun ending the segment strong solidifies him as the ‘favourite’ going into the match. Or at least WWE want you to think Braun is the favourite, we all know he’s not in reality sadly. Braun ends the show standing tall.

And that was Raw. Good show. No huge suprises but an entertaining enough show. Lots of time still to build to Elimination Chamber. Fascinated now more by the Women’s Chamber than the men’s. The dynamics in the men’s should be fun but the likely result of the big dog earning his 4th consecutive Mania main event makes it already fighting a tough battle to be a good and compelling match. We shall see.

Key points to take home:

– Roman is getting a push… apparently……

– The cruiserweights still don’t fill me with any excitement

– The Women’s Elimination Chamber match is wide open now result wise. You’d presume Bliss retains but should be fun

– The IC champion going after the world title is something which I don’t like. But The Miz is world title level so I’ll accept it… for now…

– Raw is still the Braun show. And needs to be forever and ever.

Conclusion:

Lets see what the build to Elimination Chamber in the coming weeks brings. Lots of interesting potential results for a few different storylines, lets hope WWE do them justice. We can only hope.

Josh.

UPDATE: Early this evening UK time (Tuesday 6th February) reports have circulated that Jason Jordan’s wife has put a Facebook status out stating his injury isn’t as serious as some are saying, and that he will be out only for a short period of time. Remains to be seen if this is genuinely from his wife and also if it’s true. Only time will tell.