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. .

NXT 21/3/18 Review: BLEEP

NXT returned to Full Sail University for this weeks edition for what should be another amazing hour of wrestling, as the road to Takeover: New Orleans continues.

The show begins with Tommaso Ciampa making his way out to his usual music of boos from the crowd. Once again there are a huge amount of signs with the “Johhny Gargano moji” (thanks Mauro) in the crowd. Ciampa does his usual routine of getting in the ring and methodically putting the mic to his mouth to talk, before being stopped by the volume of boos and chants from the crowd. He eventually does speak this time, saying… well screaming “HE’S GONE, GONE!” and going on to say “newsflash, he’s not walking down that damn aisle, he’s GONE!”. He’s greeted with more chants of “Ciampa sucks” as he leaves the ring. He takes a particular focus on the crowd now and proceeds to grab and tear up 3 separate fan signs (one of those being that from an elderly woman who really got in his face… you go Grandma!)… he then takes one sign from a fan in a mask… who turns out to be… JOHHNY GARGANO!!!

To the delight of the crowd Gargano finally gets to unleash on his former tag team partner, as he jumps the barricade and into the ring before being dragged all the way out of the arena by security. Ciampa couldn’t believe he was back, crowd went ape shit, and it was absolutely tremendous. “LET THEM FIGHT” they chanted… be patient… it’s coming!

Next up Charley Caruso recaps the 1st round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. She also reveals the news that Tyler Bate has a minor knee injury, meaning his team Moustache Mountain will be withdrawing. But whilst it appears the identity of Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan’s opponents later on are unknown RODERICK STRONG has put out a social media message for NXT GM William Regal asking for the vacant spot for him and a partner. This should be interesting… this was followed by a short but very sweet promo by the Undisputed Era. They talked down Roderick Strong and his proposal, and continued to big themselves up with Adam Cole saying his match with his opponent tonight Kassuis Ohno would be ‘a walk in the park’ (this match being made as a result of a twitter exchange between the 2). Cole was so confident he even told his stable mates Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly to stand back. So without the NXT Tag Team Champions by his side will Cole get the job done? Probably but it’ll be great fun to watch 2 FANTASTIC workers go at it.

So then now was time for the tag team match between Lorcan & Burch and Roderick Strong and his partner… PETE DUNNE! You will recall it was Strong who made the save from Dunne’s attack from the Undisputed Era last week, and the ‘fiery’ mutual respect that was shown by the 2 former opponents has resulted in this team being made, and what a real dream-team it is! This was a really hard hitting and physical contest, with Pete Dunne showing the full array of his gloriously pain-enducing arsenal of moves. Strong also demonstrating his superb moveset, tremendous chemistry from these 2. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch too more than doing their bit to make this one a great watch. The finish coming when Strong hit the End of Heartache move on Burch whilst Dunne had Lorcan held on the outside. WOW! The dream team is off to a flyer! These 2 vs Sanity next round, that’ll be incredible!

A promo is shown revealing RICOCHET is coming soon to NXT!!! For those who don’t know he is one of the very best wrestlers on the planet, I’ve seen him live myself too. He is tremendous, trust me he will be one of your favourites!

Next out to the ring is long term NXT female Aliyah for a match against NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon. Big pop for the supremely talented champion. Great mutual respect between these 2, Aliyah too is a babyface with the angle her being Aliyah looking to finally make an assault on the Women’s Championship scene. Part way through the match though the current top contender Shayna Baszler makes her way to the nearby commentary table, and places her feet on the table as she tells them that it is in fact her that runs the NXT Women’s division. And that she can do what she wants simply because nobody can stop her. Moon now well aware that her foe is nearby proceeds to make light work of Aliyah and puts her away with the Eclipse. Moon and Baszler then standing tall and engaging in more trash talk. This match is going to be a real “Slobberknocker” for sure!

Next week we will have both the semi finals of the Dusty Classic. Should be great. Meanwhile rookie Raul Mendoza makes his way out for what seems like a match, but is instead jumped by the NXT Champion Andrade Almas. He then makes his way to the ring accompanied by his business associate Zelina Vega, and expresses to the NXT crowd his fury with his future opponent Aleister Black, and his displeasure at the lack of respect Black showed to Vega last week (you’ll recall the various small jokes). A fired up champion also calls Black a “piece of (bleep)!” … I’ll give you a clue, I’m presuming the bleeped word rhymes with “mit”. WOWSERS, A SWEAR WORD?! This just got REAL! Almas demands Black faces him next week and says he wll pay for his disrespect… well… there’s your headline act for next week then!

An advert is shown revealing the monstrous, unhinged beast Lars Sullivan will return to NXT next week. Shaping up to be one hell of a show next Wednesday!

NXT GM William Regal reveals now that next week he will have a “major” announcement… hmmm…

Main event time then; Kassuis Ohno vs Adam Cole. Those of you with any knowledge of these 2 don’t need me to tell you this match was great. Ohno’s hard striking based moveset vs Cole’s cunning yet physically appeasing style. Finish coming with Ohno dragging a seemingly downed Cole into the ring from the outside, only for Cole to play possum once again and roll Ohno up for a nearfall. Cole then hit a Superkick, a suplex/neckbreaker and then a Shining Wizard (Last Shot) for the win. No problem at all with this result. Adam Cole could be NXT or even WWE Champion and I wouldn’t mind, as for Ohno he can take losses anytime at this stage, and losing to top talents doesn’t hurt him too much.

And that was NXT. The first episode of the final set of tapings before Takeover: New Orleans, and the groundwork of the road their has been firmly set.

Key Points to take home

. Gargano vs Ciampa, street fight, BOOK IT!

. Dunne and Strong maybe my new favourite tag team in WWE! I hope they win the whole thing

. I kinda want Shayna to beat Ember now tbh

. Almas vs Black, potential 5 stars?

. Adam Cole is my man crush. No homo.

Conclusion

NXT is the best. The strength in depth of the roster is ridiculous. You should watch it as much as possible. Simple.

Josh.

Johnny Gargano; aka Mr Wrestling.

Shawn Michaels performances were so consistently excellent at Wrestlemania he became ‘Mr Wrestlemania’, The Rock was once called ‘the Babe Ruth of sports entertainment’ for like Ruth to baseball being so aligned with it’s growth and success. But nobody has ever to my knowledge been so good at something that they are named after it; no Mr Football, Mr Boxing or Mr Science. But there IS that person for professional wrestling, that man is Johnny Gargano aka Johnny Wrestling.

Broadcast on the 3rd August 2016 Johnny Gargano faced Tommaso Ciampa in the 1st round of the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament. And with that the standard of the in-ring product of the company reached a whole new level. The match itself pitted 2 tag team partners facing eachother, and the natural chemistry was clear to see from the opening bell. A classic battle of the technical master vs the aggressive striker. But the emotion that both put into this match and all the build up that saw 2 best friends battle for singles supremacy meant that from the very beginning the match the crowd were in the palms of the oh so skilled hands of the competitors. The intensity between the both of them was incredible. It was truly a masterclass of professional wrestling.

The best commentator in the game rn Mauro Ranallo and one of the all time greats Daniel Bryan (more on him later) calling the action, it could hardly have been a more perfect environment for these 2 to display their talent to the worldwide masses. But as good and as talented as Tommaso Ciampa is/was in this match, the winner of the match and the true star in terms of potential was the ultra babyface of Johnny Wrestling who after a career that has seen him wow crowds in PWG and all over the American independent wrestling scene had finally his “coming out” showcase on the biggest stage of all, Mr Wrestling had arrived in THE wrestling company. (You should match this match).

So off the back of their incredible contest in the CWC the popularity of the newly named ‘DIY’ tag team amongst the NXT audience grew and grew to a point where a climb towards the NXT tag team Championship was inevitable. Unfortunately for them, standing in their way at the time just so happened to be the only 2 time tag team champions in NXT history, Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder aka The Revival.

After a wondeful back and forth feud between the 2 teams (which included a heartbreaking loss for DIY in Brooklyn and then the champions would feign an injury to avoid a rematch between the 2 sides before then helping their replacement defeat DIY anyway) the much anticipated showdown was made for NXT Takeover in Toronto the night before Survivor Series on November 19th 2016. Oh and it was made a 2 out of 3 falls match. Had it not been for a man called Bill doing something which absolutely nobody predicted 24 hours later this match would have dominated the wrestling headlines for weeks after. Those of us lucky enough to watch the event live got to witness an absolute classic contest.

2 of the most over tag teams in NXT there ever has been, 4 absolutely fabulous wrestlers in front of a fanatical Toronto crowd. We all thought it would be good, it was in fact excellent. To put this into context that same night I was attending a Ring Of Honour house show, all I was thinking about was this match, my friend was the same, his brother was the same and at least 10 other people I saw at the show were wearing DIY shirts. In short, and so I can get on with telling you more about Mr Wrestling I’ll just say… watch this match!

*SPOILER ALERT* DIY won. But sadly their much celebrated title run would be stopped conclusively by the monsters that are The Authors of Pain; Akam & Rezar. But don’t forget about The Revival. They were not done in the NXT tag title scene just yet. And so for NXT Takeover Orlando a triple threat tag team match was made. I’ll just say… yeah you know it… WATCH THIS MATCH (it was a little bit good).

So as it seemed AOP would continue to dominate the NXT tag team division for the foreseeable future DIY were granted one final chance to reclaim the titles…. IN A LADDER MATCH! At NXT Takeover Chicago one of the best NXT events there has ever been was main evented by a classic good vs evil, faces vs heels contest which had everyone grimacing and gasping as Gargano & Ciampa guided their still relatively inexperienced opponents to an epic.

Sadly for the Chi-town crowd AOP won the match. As DIY were left devastated at the result as we all were watching at home. The build up to this match had been dominated by rumours Tomasso Ciampa was hurt and the match would be called off, some even suggested a replacement for Ciampa be placed in the match instead. But the fact Tomasso Ciampa overcame these to take part and risk his body for this match made this result all the more heartbreaking, as was what followed after the match ended.

As both Gargano and Ciampa were stood on the entrance ramp soaking in the standing ovation from the crowd, the WWE logos would appear on the screen as the show appeared to be ending… until to the horror of the crowd Ciampa would launch Gargano into the titantron and eventually through the nearby announce table. In this day and age most “bad guy” stuff is cheered because people think it is cool, this was one of the most depsised heel turns of modern times. The crowd were calling Ciampa an asshole, Gargano looked close to tears and the appropriately nicknamed ‘Psycho Killer’ looked on like a man possessed with not even a minor sense of remorse. It was one of the most well booked heel turns you will ever see.

It would soon be revealed that Ciampa had suffered a very serious legitimate injury which would keep him out of action for 6 months plus. So an anticipated rematch of two former best friends would sadly have to wait. And so Johnny Gargano was left to find his own path in NXT without being able to properly put behind him the betrayal he had suffered. He would go on some what of a plucky, underdog losing streak as he seemed to be still mentally scared by all that he had gone through. After the end of DIY Johnny Gargano was seemingly struggling to… DIY.

He would eventually find himself with an opportunity to face off with another NXT star who was in equally great need for a kickstart to their career, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. The former mexican wrestling megastar had gone from technical, high flying master to somewhat of a party boy. His newfound fondness for a good time would be the given reason for his sudden fall from grace.

That all changed upon the sudden arrival of his ‘associate’ (manager to you and me) the ravishing Zelina Vega. Vega’s goal with Almas was to turn him into a ruthless, unforgiving competitor and so a match with the hard-working technical wizard Johnny Gargano was an easy one to make. And so 2 of NXT’s most naturally gifted talents would open NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 3 (NXT’s equivalent of Wrestlemania).

It was a wise move from WWE putting this on first and my oh MY did it kick (what would turn out to be the best NXT show ever produced) off the show with an almighty bang! The finish of the match was wondeful also, with Gargano looking like he would claim a timely victory on NXT’s grandest stage it was Zelina Vega who would throw a DIY t shirt into Gargano’s face! And before Johhny had time to digest this latest reminder of the painful betrayal he was trying to now put behind him, the cunning Almas would claim the win. Another crushing loss for someone whose crowd reactions were getting to almost ungodly levels of noise and volume.

So Gargano would once again face Almas in a later episode of NXT with the Mexican again coming out on top. El Idolo’s re-birth since the arrival of the elusive Zelina Vega by his side would reach the ultimate high when he shocked the wrestling world when he claimed the NXT Championship in November of 2017 from Drew McIntyre. Meanwhile Gargano was continuing to have fantastic matches agisnt fellow indie darlings such as Pete Dunne and Kassuis Ohno (the later of which was particularly special). The win over Ohno would earn Johhny Wrestling a spot in a fatal 4 way match to crown a number 1 contender for Andrade Almas’ NXT Championship. Oh and just to emphasise how absolutely incredible the roster was becoming he would need to get the better of monsters like Lars Sullivan and Killian Dain as well as the incomparable Aleister Black.

But once again Gargano would wow and delight the NXT universe by sealing victory and an opportunity to once again face Almas, only this time with the stakes raised to the highest possible level. 2 men who opened the show for NXT in August would main event for the championship less than 6 months later. And for the remarkable work from both men in recent months it was overwhelmingly and richly deserved.

I wont go into great detail about the match itself, I’ll just say it was the best match I’ve seen in NXT history, the best I’ve seen in WWE for many, many years and only the 6th match in WWE history to receive Dave Meltzer’s illustrious 5 star rating. (Main event of NXT Takeover: Phildelphia, if you’re going to watch 1 match today choose this one). The crowd and everyone watching at home were on the edge of their seat throughout as Gargano tried with all the heart and willing of a true-ultra babyface crowd favourite. As the incredible contest drew to a close the NXT Champion Andrade Almas appeared to be struggling with the never say die attitude of the challenger, enter Zelina Vega in to the match. With attentions diverted elsewhere Vega delivered a Hurricanrana to Gargano and laterly followed that up by attempting to confront him again. What followed was one of those moments where if you know the backstory of those involved you lose your mind. I did.

Shown before the match and also sat ringside just so happened to be someone who before recently signing a WWE contract was one of the most popular acts in all of wrestling outside of the big time, oh and SHE also happens to be one of the most talented and entertaining characters and in-ring performers you will ever see…

Oh and she also happens to be Johhny Gargano’s wife…

So with Vega approaching Gargano to give him a piece of her mind, jumping over the barricade to deliver her some much-deserved come-up-pence was Mrs Wrestling herself, Candice LeRae (When you get some time next put her into your preferred search engine and watch any of her past work in PWG or any other promotion that has been lucky enough to have her perform for them, you will be wowed trust me).

To the joy of the Philly crowd (and myself who at this point was jumping up and down at the prospect of a feud between Candice and Zelina, TAKE ALL MY MONEY NOW WWE) LeRae’s beatdown of Vega led them both to the inner parts of the arena leaving the two fighting warriors to settle this amazing contest once and for all. They did this by exhibiting one of the finest examples of back and forth exchanges of moves and nearfalls I have ever seen. Nobody had any idea the result of this epic until the finish. Which saw El Idolo finally put away the spirited Gargano to retain his gold. But in the immediate aftermath of the match it was clear to see the night was not a total loss for Mr Wrestling, and as Candice consoled her husband the Phildelphia crowd gave him the reception their crestfallen hero so richly deserved.

We had just witnessed one of the best wrestling matches in WWE history. The heroic Gargano was soaking in the crowd but still visibly upset he was unable to capture the prestigious championship title. And as the show-closing graphic appeared on the screen Gargano would once again be hit where it hurts… his heart. One shot to the back with a supportive crutch and Gargano’s former ally Tommaso Ciampa had made his return, picking up where he left off.

This was something which was widely anticipated to happen in some form leading up to the event but giving we were all recovering still mentally from the epic we had just seen, it still caught me at least by suprise. In one night Gargano has lost a match for the NXT Championship and then whilst having his rightly deserved time to soak in the adulation for his efforts , his former tag team partner ruined his moment. One of the most anticipated showdowns and personal stories in WWE and NXT history had re started.

So that there was the rundown of the recent story of the career of Johhny Gargano. You know the story and now I’ll explain why it’s main character is such a blessing to modern wrestling and to WWE and NXT. I could tell you about his incredible in-ring style of hard hitting techincal offences with high flying athleticism mixed in for days and days, but I hope I’ll be forgiven for using someone else to illustrate my points.

Daniel Bryan. Someone who made his name outisde of WWE, a man whose popularity with the audience once he arrived simply grew and grew, someone who had to overcome so many obstacles to reach the top, someone with an incredible mix of technical and high flying offences, and someone who was simply very good at what they did…… remind you of anyone????? I haven’t seen anyone like Daniel Bryan in WWE until Johhny Wrestling made it his home. His popularity with the hardest parts of the audience to please is unlimited. Daniel Bryan’s popularity and determination and above all else his talent led him to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania. Often people say that ‘the sky is the limit’, in WWE Daniel Bryan touched the sky and Johhny Gargano’s potential can reach similar heights.

I’ll conclude with a very personal message to Johhny Gargano himself;

In 2013/2014 the story of Daniel Bryan in WWE made me fall in love with wrestling again and since Bryan sadly retired I have been looking for a new beacon of light and hope to follow. Johhny Gargano is that. Thank you for your incredible in ring style, your never say die attitude and amazing commitment to thrill everyone watching you every time you step into a ring. I don’t know where this amazing story will go or end up but what I do know is this NXT fanboy will be watching every step of the way!

Keep up the good work Mr Wrestling and thank you.

“JOHNNY WRESTLING, *CLAP,CLAP,CLAP,CLAP,CLAP* JOHHNY WRESTLING…” (Repeat as loudly and for as long as humanly possible)

Josh.