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.

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 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.

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.