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.

Greatest Royal Rumble: Preview & Predictions

(DISCLAIMER: for the sake of this blog, I’m going to not talk about the ‘questionable’ morality and laws of the country of Saudi Arabia, and all the other issues related to the event form that standpoint. I’ll just talk about the event itself in the blog, and temporarily forget all that stuff for the sake of my enjoyment of the event).

So it is finally here. After a 7 hour event just a few weeks ago we are blessed with a mere 6 hour long event emanating from the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, just north of Jeddah in the country of Saudi Arabia. It is FINALLY time for the much talked about, promoted and at times maligned Greatest Royal Rumble (SUPER) show. And my oh my what a show it could well be… I’ll try my best to run through the card and offer my thoughts and predictions ahead of what may possibly be an ever bigger show than Wrestlemania 34!

50 Man ‘Greatest’ Royal Rumble match: Pretty much every male main roster superstar not already on the card, a few legends and possibly some NXT superstars too

This match is going to be madness. FIFTY men in the same match?! Royal Rumbles aren’t usually too bad, but imagine one that is almost double the length of a regular rumble match. It’ll just be crazy, and as it stands the only prize on offer seems to be a trophy that has featured on the advertising for the match, although given how highly they’ve pushed this event you’d presume that whoever they have win the match will either be a megastar already or someone who is going to become one. I’m sure it’ll have all the usual facets of a regular Royal Rumble match; confrontations between former foes or allies, surprise returns, shock eliminations etc. but it’s going to be about an hour and a half long and that’s my main worry with the match that people watching will be so worn out. I’ve absolutely not a clue who they’re going to push, have win or be the star of the match. This match is so unique and unlike anything WWE have ever done before (as is the event as the whole) it’s very difficult to predict it at all. All I can predict with any assurance for this match is that it will be eventful, that is for certain!

Prediction: WHO THE FUCK KNOWS?! (But if I had to pick a name I’d like for Daniel Bryan. Would be poetic after he SHOULD have won the Royal Rumble in 2014 and/or in 2015).

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman v Roman Reigns – Steel Cage Match

So the result of this match will pretty much depend on Brock Lesnar’s contract and just how long his mega-money new deal will last for. Reports have varied from it being 2 years to just 2 matches that would likely take Lesnar up to Summerslam. Some have even speculated that Brock may be being kept on and as champion in order to break the previous title reign record held by CM Punk, who the WWE aren’t too high on these days. WE just don’t know. One thing we do know though is that Roman Reigns is STILL the guy, and even after his traumatic loss in the main event of Wrestlemania it looks increasingly likely that his long-anticipated coronation is still only a matter of time away. Roman surely has to win the title.The addition of a Steel Cage to the equation will only heighten the expected brutality that has become custom to a Brock Lesnar match. If Brock retains… then I really will be at a loss with WWE’s direction for their premier title and their chosen one.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) v Shinsuke Nakamura

The Wrestlemania match between these two was billed as a dream match. The build up was sub-standard, the match underwhelmed. The re-match here has turned into a grudge match. The build-up with the now heel Nakamura has been great, so this match? Could it be great? Very possibly. Certainly now both men have a real purpose going into this one, rather than just wanting to have a great match and win the championship. I’ve absolutely loved Nakamura’s character since his much publicized heel turn, he’s got a real edge to him now and his constant low blows to the uber-popular Styles will only add to his heat. I expect this, if given the chance, to be even better than there mania match. In terms of result, as is the case with the other world championship match in this card, who on earth knows… but as I don’t see both world titles changing on the same show here I’ll go for AJ to retain… but would not be surprised to see Nakamura claim the title in the not so distant future.

Prediction: AJ Styles

John Cena v Triple H

Considering this is a match-up between two of the all time greats, two of the biggest names in the company and two men who have an huge amount of history with one another, there has been absolutely ZERO build up to this showcase match. Obviously given the recent goings-on in Cena’s personal life and the fact Triple H has already been busy in Saudi Arabia promoting the event it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t have time to, and with both being part timers and not featuring on TV since Wrestlemania (when both featured prominently but ultimately lost their respective matches) there’s little context or story that can be applied to it either. It’s simply presumed that a match between John Cena and Triple H can speak for itself to both the local crowd and the worldwide audience, which in all honesty it does.

Prediction: Triple H (just… because…)

The Undertaker v Rusev – Casket Match

Now if Triple H vs John Cena has had zero in the way of a build up, this match has been the total opposite. This has arguably been one of the most talked about matches on the entire card, despite not being spoken about on regular WWE TV in storyline one bit. When first announced this match seemed an odd one indeed, but things got even weirder when after a shoot-looking interview with TMZ and some questionable twitter activity Rusev was replaced in the match with Chris Jericho. And then just as quickly (as all sorts of rumours were abound about Rusev’s future) after a tweet negating on her previous call for her husband to be removed from the Casket match by Lana, the match between Taker and the Bulgarian Brute was then back ON (still keeping up with all this?). So as of writing this is happening, why it is and why it was on then off then on again within a few days is still unclear. But just a few weeks after his last match The Undertaker is in action again and I’m not sure he has had 2 matches this close together for a number of years (not since 2015 has he wrestled 2 matches within a month), and despite more rumours speculating that he may compete more often than in recent years between now and next year’s Wrestlemania I still expect this match to be short, and one sided.

Prediction: The Undertaker

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (C) v Jinder Mahal with Sunil Singh

Similar to the situation post superstar shake up with the Intercontinental title, the holder and home of the US Championship going forward remains unclear. So who will win this match (and also who wins the title match at Backlash) will surely parallel who is victorious in the IC title matches. So as it stands the champion here is Jeff Hardy of Smackdown, who is facing Jinder Mahal of Raw here, with the champion scheduled to face another former champion Randy Orton (of Smackdown) at Backlash. I like the idea of Jeff Hardy as US Champion, but I see much more value in a Miz v Daniel Bryan feud for the IC belt on the blue brand. BUT given who I have winning the other mid-card belt match, I’ll have Hardy to go over here and retain his title… for the time-being…

Prediction: Jeff Hardy to retain… for now…

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (C) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe – Ladder Match

This is a ladder match. This is involving 4 of the best competitors in WWE. This is going to be fabulous. I doubt they will end the title reign of such a big star like Rollins so soon, however their is the caveat with this and the US title match that they could still switch the 2 mid-card belts to opposing shows. Miz and Samoa Joe are now both on Smackdown so would take the IC title with them to the blue brand should they climb the ladder and retrieve it in this match. It’s also already been announced that Rollins will defend his title against former champion Miz at the upcoming Backlash ppv. But obviously this is wrestling, and nothing is set in stone so that could all change. I predict the match will be great, that I’m certain of. Even with Miz’s ongoing pursuit to become the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time I feel he is destined for a chase of a much bigger prize down the line, and I also feel like as much as it would make sense for Jinder Mahal to be the evil foreigner with America’s Championship and for The Miz to carry on his IC champion glory-train and into his feud with former IC champion Daniel Bryan (who was once forced to vacate the Intercontinental Championship due to injury, so he never actually lost it nor had had a chance to reclaim it) I still think… actually… that all makes way too much sense right? Right? Miz has to take the title to Smackdown, question is does he do it here or at Backlash???

Prediction: Seth Rollins to retain… for now…

Raw Tag Team Championship: WOKEN Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt v ‘The Bar’ (Sheamus & Cesaro)

If the 2 mid-card belts are in doubt result-wise due to who will or wont take what belt to which show, this match is surely in no doubt about who will win. Sheamus & Cesaro, now of SMACKDOWN, are surely not going to take the RAW tag titles to the blue brand right? I’m a huge fan of WOKEN Matt and his alliance with his former foe Bray Wyatt, so will be delighted if/when the two of them claim the gold. Don’t be surprised if we see an AOP run in afterwards to set up the new champions’ first title defense.

Prediction: WOKEN Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: ‘Bludgeon Brothers’ (Harper & Rowan) (C) v ‘The Usos’ (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso)

Despite Jimmy Uso’s win over Rowan on Smackdown to counter Harper’s win over Jey last week, I still am in no doubt about this one. Who knows, maybe Naomi will come out and her neon and flashing lights will distract Rowan again and Naomi can take in the crowd adulation and celebrate with her team in the ring…………….. OH……… OH WAIT……. MAYBE NOT THEN……..

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Cruserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (C) v Kalisto

This as a match will be fine. Sure. Both are good wrestlers. Sure. Is there any story at all with this match (given Kalisto only won the right to be in this match on Tuesday)? None. You can get away with no story for Cena vs Triple H or Taker vs Rusev, as those guys are stars already. This match-up not so much. I’m certain that Murphy (after he failed his 205 weigh in last week) will run in and set up a title match at Backlash and that’ll be the main story here, but hey I suppose you have to get the Cruserweight title on the card, and as I’ve said the match will be fine, but I’d be surprised if this got many headlines after the event has concluded.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander

So there is a hugely stacked card for what promises to be, above all else, a LONG and eventful event. Wrestlemania was equally both of those so lets see what this one brings. It promises to be another amazing event, entertaining in many different ways and infuriating in others. and MAYBE… MAYBE… the coronation at long last of the “face of the company”??? …

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. .

16/4/2018 – What’s on my mind: I’M BACK!!!

Well I’m back!!! And… not much has happened in the world of WWE since I released my previews for Takeover and Mania… it’s been very quiet in fact……

So since I last wrote anything on here we had NXT Takeover: New Orleans, which was… the best WWE show there has EVER been!!! It was a brilliant line up to begin with and the card was sandwiched with 2 of the best WWE matches there has ever been; the show opener was the 6 man ladder match for the new NXT North American Championship that saw EC3 vs Killian Dain vs Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet. It was simply incredible. All 6 men made entrances of stars, and they came out of it as MEGAstars. It would be hard to pick an MVP but I must give special praise to the performances of ‘The One and Only’ Ricochet and of course the eventual winner Adam Cole… BAY BAY!

Shayna Baszler is your new NXT Women’s Champion after dethroning Ember Moon in a great match. There was NXT Tag Team Championship/Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic winner takes all match that saw AOP vs Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne vs Kyle O’Reilly and the double duty-ing Adam Cole. The match ended in dramatic fashion with Roderick Strong turning heel and handing the win to Cole and O’Reilly as he joined the Undisputed Era. Aleister Black is the new NXT Champion after he beat Andrade Almas, despite the best efforts of Zelina Vega in what was a terrific contest. And in the match that surprisingly at the time but not in hindsight main evented the show (because how on EARTH do you follow this) Tomasso Ciampa faced Johnny Gargano in their Unsanctioned Match… Wow… expectations were high… but many are already calling it the best match in WWE history!!! So yes, Takeover: New Orleans was AMAZING!!!

AND THEN we had Wrestlemania 34.. and what a show it was! Brilliant, weird, bizarre, brutal… the adjectives you could associate with this LONGGGGGGGGG show are about as endless as the show seemed to be. But despite its time span it was possibly the most eventful event WWE has ever put on. I’ll do my best to summarize it:

– WOKEN Matt Hardy won the Andre Battle Royal. With a little help from Bray Wyatt as the 2 embraced after and so began what COULD be a WONDERFUL alliance. The match was a clusterfuck as it was always going to be (30 guys in a ring at once and all) but the finish and the spot this story was given I personally loved. The crowd going mad for it too made it all the more DELIGHTFUL!

– Cedric Alexander beat Mustafa Ali to win the vacant Cruserweight title. Decent match but they’ve done much better work on 205 Live before.

– Naomi won the Women’s Battle royal in another underwhelming clusterfuck.

And then FINALLY the main show began:

– Seth Rollins (cool blue contacts and all) became a grand slam champion as he won the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz, also bettering Finn Balor in what was a super fun Mania show opener.

– in an unsurprisingly brilliant match Charlotte BEAT Asuka to retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship. Shocking, 10 minutes too short maybe but in hindsight, in my opinion (although I was gutted at the time) the right call. Even with Charlotte losing her title 2 days later, this win at Mania only further cements her legacy. Special mention also for her incredible, spell-binding entrance. Charlotte Flair IS Women’s Wrestling.

– it was at this point in the show that John Cena (who indeed stuck to his word and watched Wrestlemania as a fan, and was shown to high hilarity throughout the show sat ringside watching on) was told by a referee something that made him immediately jump from his seat, over the barricade and then sprint to the backstage area. It was never stated what the ref actually told him but it was presumed, certainly from the huge reaction of the crowd, that Cena was being told that THE UNDERTAKER WAS HERE!!!

– next match was the 4 way for the US title; Bobby Roode vs Rusev vs Jinder Mahal vs Randy Orton. Jinder won. Meh…

– following that was the best match of the entire show… no not Aj vs Nakamura but Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey… WOW OH WOW OH WOW!!! The very definition of exceeding expectations. The match was brilliant; it had every conceivable spot you could’ve dreamed of and then some. And above all else, Ronda Rousey was SENSATIONAL! Without question the best debut of anyone in Wrestling history. With all the pressure and spotlight that was on her I was so pleased. This was fantastic start to finish. Ronda tapped out Stephanie for the finish. Great great GREAT!

– Following that was always going to be tough, so spare a thought for the Smackdown Tag title 3 way of The Usos v The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers. Harper and Rowan’s ever-dominant triumph was sadly still in the shadow of the amazing bout before it.

– THEN… we had John Cena come out for a match. He was then told the match wasn’t on … and then the lights went out and… THE…. no, ELIAS came out. He sang a song, wound up Cena, Cena beat him up, and then Cena’s music played as he looked heartbroken at the prospect of his dream match not being on after all. It looked as if our dreams were over… and then… lights out, Taker’s hat and gloves appeared in the ring, a lightning bolt struck them, lights out… UNDERTAKER!!! 3 minutes, an indescribable entrance, 1 Chokeslam and 1 Tombstone Piledriver later and The Undertaker SQUASHED John Cena… and it was PERFECT.

– It was at this point the crowd seemed to die a little, and what had to this point potential to be one of the all time great Manias began to dip slightly…

– next match though saw Daniel Bryan make his long awaited in-ring return. As he and Shane McMahon beat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Match was ok, Dbryan was as good as we all remembered, Yes yes yes!

– Nia Jax won the Raw Women’s Championship from former friend Alexa Bliss. Only real result really given this awfully bad tasting storyline. Finish was a tremendous Samoan Drop from the middle rope.

– AJ Styles RETAINED the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura (whose entrance was spectacular; Alice Cooper’s guitarist and a handful of Violinists and drummers featured). This was an underwhelming (given its incredibly high expectations) but still ok match. The headlines after though were all about Nakamura’s low blow and attack on Styles after the match and his apparent show of respect gone sour. A heel turn for Nakamura was certainly not something I predicted but I’m excited at the prospect of it going forward.

– Then Braun Strowman and a 10 year old boy called Nicholas won the Raw Tag Team Championship from The Bar. As you do… (they gave them up the next night due to Nicholas’ busy schedule… in the 4th grade…).

– and finally after what felt like 3000 hours of an event, it was time for the main event. Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns. Where to start with this one… one thing that was clear is the crowd in New Orleans had decided to absolutely shit all over this match from the beginning. There were a variety of derogatory chants, multiple beach ball appearances in the crowd… yeah this could’ve been a 5 star classic but nobody in the arena would even give it the slightest bit of chance to entertain them at all.

An absolutely brutal match saw Brock hit Roman with a plethora of German Suplexes, FIVE F5’S (including one to the announce table) to which Roman kicked out of each time. Brock then hit Roman with hard elbows to the head ala Randy Orton at Summerslam 2016. And just like Orton did so before, Reigns bled FOR REAL absolutely EVERYWHERE! It was like something from a horror film as Roman’s crimson face then showed his true fury as he went on to hit Lesnar with multiple spears! Lesnar would though then pick Reigns up for a SIXTH F5 and BROCK LESNAR WON! With seemingly everyone convinced otherwise the unthinkable had happened!

A variety of details about Lesnar’s contract and the change to the match finish have since emerged. Far too many for me to explain. but yeah it was… weird. Lets see how it goes down at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia at the end of the month when Lesnar faces Reigns for the title in a steel cage.

This was absolutely bizarre booking to me at the time and it still is now. I’m fascinated to see how it goes for Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar going forward. For once I have absolutely no theory or no idea that I’m willing to get behind enough to believe and that I could use to try and explain why this happened. There’s plenty of possible reasons why maybe but nonetheless it was absolutely astonishing to watch.

And my main emotion upon watching it back was a personal sadness and sympathy for Roman Reigns as a man irl. Imagine turning up at the arena the day of Mania, having for months and months heard every man and his dog claim that you’re the man and this will be your moment… only to be told the plans have changed and this is what’s happening… gutted for him personally. The characters, the storyline not so much but don’t forget that none of this is Roman’s fault. The blame lies solely with the bookers.

So to follow an… eventful… Wrestlemania 34 we had a pretty great Raw. Call ups for Ember Moon, AOP and No Way Jose, returns from injury of Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe, and a huge return to WWE for BOBBY LASHLEY! Smackdown gave us Peyton Royce and Billie Kay making their way to Smackdown Live from NXT and making an immediate impact…

The IIconics attacked Charlotte Flair and left the Smackdown Women’s Champion laying and prone for a Money in the Bank cash in from Carmella and FINALLY Carmella is the new Smackdown Women’s Champion. After her official retirement just 24 hours prior PAIGE was announced as the new General Manager of Smackdown Live after Daniel Bryan had resigned from the role in order to become a full time active roster member once again. Paige’s first act as GM was to make the main event for the evening as Daniel Bryan vs AJ STYLES!!! This dream match was cut short though by an ambush from Shinsuke Nakamura on both men.

A recap episode of NXT featured a win for Kairi Sane and the arrival of the War Raiders tag team (fka War Machine). I feel both will be making a big impression on the NXT Championship scene in the upcoming months.

This Monday and Tuesday we have the annual superstar shake up that will see stars of Raw and Smackdown swapping shows, which is always good fun. Plus we are a few weeks away from the Greatest Royal Rumble event from Saudi Arabia which is looking like it should be one hell of a show! So even though Wrestlemania is behind us now the goings on and drama of the WWE looks set to continue to shock and wow us all for the foreseeable future… And I cannot wait!!!

In terms of what I will be producing as content for my blog my time off has given me time to have a rethink about what I write. So instead of doing individual reviews of Raw, Smackdown and NXT each week I will be releasing a weekly review of all things WWE each Friday. I’ll also be doing previews and reviews of every NXT Takeover and main roster Pay Per view as well as a monthly ‘ranking list’ similar to my previous blog on The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches. On top of all that I will also be doing a weekly post called (as is this one) ‘What’s on my Mind’ (Credit to JR on his podcast before for the name idea). This will just be a random blog based on whatever I have… well… on my mind at the time of writing about whatever is going on WWE related at that time.

I’ll also every now and then be putting out some different types of content whenever I have the time or enough interest to do so. So yeah that’s about all up to date. Once again thanks to everyone for your words and retweets and likes on all my blog posts. I hope you like what I write going forward just as much as I’m sure I’ll have fun writing it.

Josh.

Smackdown 20/3/2018 Review: YES, YES, YES!!!

So this review may be a little different to normal; mainly because I’ll be watching the show live (subject to how much I can resist falling asleep) and also… because… idk if you heard… BUT DANIEL BRYAN HAS BEEN CLEARED TO RETURN TO THE RING!!! YES, YES, YES!!!

The show itself begins with a video recap of Daniel Bryan’s retirement announcement, a little over 2 years ago now, as well as the news that broke earlier in the day about his clearance to compete again in the ring. This really was news that absolutely exploded earlier in the day, the internet went absolutely crazy over it for a good half an hour it was all people in the wrestling world were talking about. The live crowd begin the inevitable “YES” chants before the man of the moment made his way to the ring, the Smackdown Live General Manager… and I guess now ‘superstar’ too… Daniel Bryan! He then proceeded to cut a very emotional (and that was just me watching at home) and powerful promo; ‘Thank you … last week something horrible happened to Shane McMahon but unfortunately Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are not here yet so Imma have to talk about something else…’. He went on to say that as he was coming to terms with the fact that he had to retire from wrestling he began to ‘focus on being grateful… I have amazing family, amazing friends, the best fans in the world, and I also have an amazing beautiful wife… and when I was depressed… she came to me and she said ‘it’s wonderful that you’re grateful but you need to …fight for your dreams’ … she encouraged me to see specialists…’. Very worthwhile chants of “THANKYOU BRIE” began to ring around the arena from the crowd, the particularly powerful line there was “Fight for your dreams” which if you take anything from all this it is surely that. This isn’t as much a wrestling angle but a real life man achieving something he could only dream of before and overcoming incredible odds and obstacles to do so.

Bryan would continue to say that over the last 2 months I asked WWE to re-look at my case’, he credited them for sending him to all the best appropriate people he needed to go to, and the crowd rejoiced more so when he said that ‘every specialist said the same thing; “you are cleared”’. More “YES” chants from the crowd, I’ve a feeling we may get one or two more in the foreseeable future. Bryan would go on to say ‘thank you to the WWE and their doctors, first and foremost they looked at me as the person and not the wrestler and for that I will be forever grateful to them, I also am grateful that they were willing to give my case a 2nd look… and I wanna say thank you to every single person here, to every single person watching at home cuz you guys have supported me for this entire time and lastly but not leastly I would like to say thank you to Brie (he began to choke up a little here as we all did watching)… I don’t think any of you truly understand how much she’s supported me over the last 2 years… so now… on to the fun stuff right? I don’t know exactly when or where I will get back in this ring’ (he then looks at the Wrestlemania sign, there’s Wrestlemania chants from crowd…. OMFG THIS IS AMAZING!!!) “Does that sound like a good idea?” he asks the crowd. Obviously the crowd goes ape shit with more “YES” chants, he went on… “I don’t know for sure if that’s gonna happen but will Daniel Bryan compete in a WWE ring again?” “YES” chants the crowd as Daniel Bryan did the yes arm raises himself gleefully in the ring before making his exit. And that was the end of the best segment/promo in WWE or anywhere else in the wrestling world since… Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech!!! It was everything we had all hoped for and more. Indescribably positive and joyous. Daniel Bryan was then shown backstage after the ad break with referee Charles Robinson who passed on his best wishes as Bryan was looking for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, he was then greeted by Dolph Ziggler who too congratulated Bryan on his clearance, but said “I can’t wait to beat you”. Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan sounds ok, but there are SOOOOOOOOOO many more matches that are real possibilities now.

First match of the show was Rusev (with Aiden English) vs Shinsuke Nakamura in a Fastlane re-match with the Men’s Royal Rumble winner’s Wrestlemania opponent, WWE Champion AJ Styles, sat at ringside to take in the match. You may well have heard that AJ is carrying an injury, which apparently he is but the match at Mania is still definitely ON, so don’t worry too much about it. Fun match here, similar to the ppv one, an even contest of Rusev’s power against Nakamura’s technical mastery. Shinsuke got the win via a roll up but was immediately beaten down by English and Rusev after the match was done. Like Nakamura last week AJ Styles very slowly appeared to be preparing to make the save, but before he entered Nakamura was able to fend off his two foes by himself. AJ and Nakamura then starred eachother out to end the segment (with regards to AJ’s injury this segment showed me that AJ is fine but is being protected, so don’t expect any physical stuff from Styles anytime between now and Mania). Next we were shown an Asuka promotional video package which the Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair was shown watching backstage, she was then told by long term rival Natalya that she was ‘scared’ of Asuka and their impending match, to which Flair responded by saying “I’m actually excited” and a brief verbal exchange between the two led to Charlotte vs Natalya being set for later in the show. AJ and Shinsuke then had a brief but very funny exchange backstage, you can tell these 2 have great admiration for one another and they work together so well. Now AJ appears to be all fine medically for the match the excitement for it will only intensify. Next match was Tye Dillinger vs Baron Corbin. This was about 5 minutes long and Corbin won. Not much more too it.

Charlotte vs Natalya was after. This was a decent enough match between two women who have a long history together and so chemistry wasn’t a problem at all here, Charlotte hit a great looking spear on the outside and eventually had Nattie in the Figure 8 submission in the ring. However she would refuse to tap … and then CARMELLA (MS MONEY IN THE BANK) CAME DOWN TO THE RING AND ATTEMPTED A CASH IN! However she was thwarted as she turned around from handing her briefcase over into a huge big boot from the champion Charlotte. This distraction however led to Natalya rolling up Charlotte for the win. I liked the failed cash in, there’s been a few of these teases form Carmella now and I really like how they’re telling her story with the briefcase. Hopeful it has a good and dramatic ending, not so sure how I feel about Natalya pinning the champion before Charlotte has one of the biggest showdowns in women’s wrestling history in a couple of weeks but… Jimmy Uso (with fellow tag team champion, his brother Jey) vs Harper (with his [Bludgeon] brother Rowan supporting him at ringside) was next. This of course coming off the back of Rowan and Harper’s dominance over both The Usos and also The New Day in recent weeks as their ongoing pursuit of the gold has taken more forceful steps. Fun match this between two supremely underrated talents, and after interferences from both tag team partners that were on the outside it was Harper who got the win. Their winning those belts at Wrestlemania, I’m in no doubt about it. There was then a 3 way promo between United States Champion Randy Orton, the former champion Bobby Roode and the challenger Jinder Mahal (that match being made official for Wrestlemania shortly before Smackdown went on the air by the way). Jinder talked himself up, Roode told Mahal he was a hypocrite and that respect was a 2 way street, and Orton told Jinder that he relied heavily on the help of his stooge [Sunil Singh] and this was why he had little respect. They appeared to be about to have a brawl but Jinder would throw his loyal follower Sunil Singh into Roode and Orton before quickly exiting the ring. The two then beat the helpless Singh down before the 3 Wrestlemania opponent starred eachother down. Match will be fine I’m sure but this feud just does nothing for me to be honest. Final match of the show was Becky Lynch & Naomi vs Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan with their Riott Squad leader Ruby watching on from ringside. Bit of a nothing match really, finish came when Becky had Logan in her submission and Naomi stopped the interference from Morgan to give the faces the win. These women will all be in the Women’s Battle Royal at Mania… yeah… whatever…

And finally, of course, the show ended with Daniel Bryan delivering his judgement out to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens regarding their recent actions and their attack on Shane McMahon last week. A clearly disappointed Bryan made clear to Zayn and Owens that ‘you assaulted your boss, I don’t get it… you guys won… you got what you wanted… Shane said he was leaving and gave you a one on one match at Wrestlemania and I was here in your corner to run the show… and you guys still felt the need to assault your boss?’ Bryan goes on to say that he just doesn’t get it (with Owens and Zayn and their recent actions) and he goes on to say that ‘I don’t want to have to do this… you’re fired!’ continuing by saying ‘this doesn’t mean you’re gone forever, just for now… I’m so sorry’. Both Sami and Kevin then shake Daniel Bryan’s hand, and turn away to slowly leave the ring, before turning back to attack the man who just ‘fired’ them. It is a bit of beatdown until the wonderful moment we have all waited 2 years for, Daniel Bryan got some offence in a WWE ring! He eventually has both Zayn and Owens in either corner of the ring, before delivering his signature kicks to Owens in the corner and then a WONDERFUL German Suplex on Zayn which delighted the Dallas crowd. He followed these great moves up with a series of running dropkicks to them both one after the other, with both men prone still against each opposing ring corner. The crowd were then delighted more so when Bryan hit his ‘YES’ kicks to Owens, but was sadly stopped after a takedown by Zayn. Owens and Zayn then hit Daniel Bryan with a superkick and a Helluva kick respectively, and it was KO who finished the assault by hitting a Powerbomb, slamming Bryan against the ring apron. And that was how the show closed… with Owens and Zayn destroying a Smackdown authority figure for the second week in a row… I think the match for Mania now is pretty much wrapped up isn’t it? YES, YES, YES!!!

And that was Smackdown. OK show. Mania soon. DANIEL BRYAN IS BACK!!!

Key Points to Take Home

. YES!

. YES!

. YES!

. YES!

. YES!

Conclusion

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to Take Home

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

. The Bludgeon Brothers have made it work

. Charlotte vs Asuka… enough said

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Josh.

Fastlane 11/3/18 PPV Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need to lay down for bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to Take Home

. Nakamura vs AJ… 5 stars? …

. ASUKA VS CHARLOTTE! YES YES YES!

. Jinder is beating Randy at Mania… sigh…

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

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

Conclusion

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

GONG

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points to take Home

. Ruby needs to go solo and split up her squad

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

. Nakamura vs Rusev Day… YES PLEASE!

. Carmella still has that briefcase… just saying…

. Smackdown needs AJ Styles… forever

Conclusion

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

*DONG*

Josh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points to take home:

– John Cena is the top man for a reason

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

– Someone liven up the US Title scene PLEASE

– Nakamura is really good

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

Conclusion

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

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

*GONG*

Josh.

Smackdown 20/2/18 Review: C- , could do better

Renee Young welcomes out the WWE Champion AJ Styles to begin the show (huge “AJ STYLES” chants from the crowd, so much so that Renee can’t begin her interview right away). AJ says he’s in control of his own destiny, he says he can beat anyone and has done his whole life, and then runs through the different permutations that even if he could take care of one of the participants of the fatal 5 way then whilst that is happening someone else could get a pinfall in the meantime (yes AJ we kind of know this already… but thanks…). After running through each of the participants he goes to speak of Baron Corbin before the Lonewolf himself makes his way to the ring.

As the crowd boos Corbin reminds Styles that he beat him last time they met, and that he ‘has his number’ and that ‘you’re an athlete, I’m a fighter!’ Kevin Owens then walks down… he has a back and forth with Corbin, AJ asks if Owens got the “boil” off his back (Sami Zayn) , Owens says he doesn’t need Sami Zayn, and that he let him down last week. After then beginning to moan once again about Shane McMahon before, “YEP” (Zayn, 2018) you guessed it, Shane O’Mac comes out. Shane then makes Corbin vs Styles and Owens vs Ziggler for tonight. The latter of which beginning immediately as Dolph then makes his way to the ring.

Dolph Ziggler vs Kevin Owens then. Match begins with plenty of strikes from Ziggler as Owens multiple times escapes to the outside of the ring. Back in the ring eventually KO misses a Senton, Dolph hits a suplex, Ziggler goes into a turnbuckle, Owens hits a Cannonball that gets a 2 count, Ziggler then hits a big DDT, Owens gets sent into the post, Ziggler gets a nearfall after a neckbreaker but then misses a superkick then is turned into a gutbuster. Following this Owens goes up top for a possible frog splash only for Dolph to go up top with him, only to be thrown off and as KO then flies off for a Swanton only for Dolph to get his knees up. The show-off follows this up with a Famouser that only gets a 2 count from the referee. This match actually was good by this point as the pace picked up, Ziggler gets a ZigZag in but this only gets a 2 count. Following this Ziggler has Owens in the corner before Sami Zayn’s music hits; Sami runs towards the ring but stops just before entering, allowing for Kevin Owens to hit a superkick to the back of a distracted Ziggler’s head and then Owens claims the win. This was a decent match to be fair, I still care very little about Dolph but his involvement in the 5 way match will be a… different… element. Owens great as always.

Jinder Mahal appears next with a ‘secret’ to expose about Bobby Roode… he begins to tell us all about Bobby Roode’s personal ‘Smackdown Live Top 10 list’, Roode putting himself number 1 etc. … oh do me a favour PLEASE!!!! Roode Eventually come out to try and dispel these rumours from Mahal, he tells Mahal to stop trying to put Randy Orton and him in a fight and to face him himself. Orton eventually makes his way out, there’s a brawl, Roode gives Orton a Glorious DDT before Mahal comes in and delivers his finisher and ends the segment strong. Jinder Mahal on top in a segment with Bobby Roode and Randy Orton for the 2nd week in a row. He’s going to win the US Title isn’t he? FML. Following on from this Shane and Daniel Bryan are shown backstage and eventually Shane over rules Bryan and makes Roode vs Orton for the United States Championship for Fastlane, something Bryan wasn’t in favour of. Shane declares that is the FINAL decision with Bryan responding with a less than satisfied “OK boss!…”… it continues…

A 6 woman tag match follows next; pitting Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Naomi vs The Riott squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan). Flair and Logan start off in ring. Charlotte calls Ruby in the ring, who seems less than keen. Tags are made to Naomi and then to Becky quickly on. Sarah Logan eventually tags out to Ruby Riott but Lynch then is able to avoid a double suplex before Naomi joins her teammate in the ring as both deliver dropkicks to the 2 members of the Riott squad, the other, Liv Morgan, is then tossed into a big clothesline from The Queen Ms. Flair as the faces take control of the match.

Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott in the ring; Lynch focusing her attention on Riott’s arm, she then tags in Naomi who gets a quick 2 count. Ruby then makes a tag to Morgan, the 2 brawl for a while with Naomi’s signature moonsault stopped from getting her the win after Morgan was dragged out of the ring. Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan were then jumped on over the ropes by Naomi for their troubles. Liv Morgan then capitalises by tossing Naomi into the steel steps and then into the side of the ring. This only gets her a 2 count though. Morgan tags in Sarah Logan soon after, who locks in a great looking modified-Anaconda Vice type submission on Naomi, it is though powered out of eventually and at long last Naomi hits Logan with a hurricanrana and makes the tag to Charlotte. Charlotte goes on an absolute tear after this, only to be stopped by 2 chop blocks to the back from Sarah Logan. She is then almost forced to tag in Becky Lynch, Lynch hits Logan with a missile dropkick, Logan tags in Riott, Lynch is able to hit a Bexploder on Ruby, but that in turn is turned into a nearfall for Riott. The Irish Lassskicker is then able to lock in her Dis-Arm-her finisher only for Liv Morgan to stop a likely victory. Charlotte takes out for Morgan for that, Logan comes in and hits a running knee to Naomi, Becky hits Logan with a Bexploder suplex but then turns round and is caught by Ruby Riott, who is the able to hit her Pele kick finishing move and the Riott squad pick up the win! THE RIOTT SQUAD HAVE WON A MATCH! IT IS A MIRCALE!!! And it wasn’t all that bad this match either, action packed but I didn’t see anything that I noted as particularly bad, I had fun watching, so well done all. I expect a challenge by Riott for Charlotte and her title to come soon…

Kevin Owens is in the locker room with Sami Zayn next. And they seem to be on the same page and all fine again. Zayn tells Owens that he owes him for being in the spot he is now, in contention for the WWE Championship, he says he’s got his back and that if it comes to it Zayn will lay down and ‘do the right thing’ for Owens so that KO can win the WWE Championship… Owens seem shocked and almost emotional by Zayn’s verbal show of supreme loyalty to his “friend” … I liked this… really interested to see where it goes, because I’m kind of getting bored of the Owens/Zayn v Shane and Daniel Bryan story, because nothing is really changing… maybe I should wait until Wrestlemania… but that’s a long wait…

The New Day vs Benjamin & Gable now, a number 1 contenders match for the tag titles. Where The Bludgeon Brothers fit in to all this remains to be seen… (There were more of those god awful, tacky, and embarrassing words/graphics on screen during Big E’s intro as well… please stop with all this shit PLEASE). It’ll be Xavier Woods and Big E in the ring for this one for The New Day, always good to see Woods in a match, he is one of the most underutilised and underrated wrestlers in the entire company for me. Gable and Woods begin in ring, great athleticism shown off by both early on, Benjamin makes the tag in and hits Xavier with a huge spinebuster for a nearfall. A bodyslam comes before a Woods comeback but Benjamin puts stop to that with a big knee and a 2 count form the referee. After the ads Shelton Benjamin and Xavier Woods are on the top rope, this ends with Benjamin coming off and Woods hitting him with a missile dropkick.

Benjamin and Woods both then get tags. Big E delivers 2 belly –to-belly suplexes, Gable then responds with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Big E of his own for a nearfall (if only Chad Gable was made in to the empathetic ultra babyface he was in American Alpha or at least had some form of character worthy of his supreme ability in the ring he could be a superstar). Gable then is unable to hit a moonsault and eventually is hit with a huge Big Ending slam from Big E that gets a 2 count. The finish of the match came from Kofi Kingston distracting the ref whilst Benjamin and Gable hit their tag team finisher, and as a result their delay in getting their pin counted gave Xavier Woods enough time to break it up. Woods makes the tag, throws Gable to the outside and hits a shining wizard on Benjamin to give New Day the win. Decent match I won’t lie, without being spectacular. As Big E tosses pancakes to the crowd as New Day make their exit, the lights dim and we are greeted with the arrival of the aforementioned Bludgeon Brothers. They walk towards the ring, stop to take off their cloaks and as Rowan goes to approach The New Day he is held back and told to go to the ring by Harper (a Charlotte iPhone promo was on in between this, calling out Ruby Riott and showed willing to put her title on the line too, as predicted). This was followed by a match between The Bludgeon Brothers vs 2 jobbers. You don’t need me to tell you how this one went… although I will say I am beginning to buy-in to the presentation and what they are aiming to do with them, let’s see how it goes…

Separate IPhone promos from first Ruby Riott (responding in kind to Charlotte’s earlier message) and Baron Corbin, hyping his match with AJ later. I am still so un-entertained by this new concept of promos. I just find them so unnecessary and cheap-looking, but that’s just my opinion. They then showed a video package for Shinsuke Nakamura (nice of you to acknowledge his existence again Smackdown Live, but WHERE THE FUCK IS HE?????? GET HIM ON TV!!!!!!).

And finally we have your main event of AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin. AJ was on top early on, until Corbin delivered a huge punch as Dolph Ziggler was shown watching the match backstage. A Corbin knee to the mid-section, AJ fought back but was thrown to the outside, he then flies over the ropes but there’s no flip pin to follow. Corbin takes some hits from AJ who then sends him to the outside, AJ again comes over the ropes only to be caught by Baron into a slamdown onto his knees on the outside. Baron Corbin nearfall, Corbin gets launched into the ring post, AJ hits a knee to Corbin on the outside, Corbin throws Styles over the announce table but AJ uses his momentum to quickly bounce back over and comes over the ropes with a Phenomenal Forearm he didn’t quite get in fully, hence it only keeps Corbin down for a 2 count.

AJ hits plenty of strikes to Corbin then, only to be hit himself for a 2 count. Corbin then puts Styles on the top rope only to be knocked off, only for Styles to come flying off and straight into a great looking Deep Six from Corbin for a nearfall. The WWE Champion then reverses a potential End of Days into a Cab-Crusher submission, which The Lonewolf gets out of by slamming Styles head to the ring floor. AJ then has enough time after to fully hit The Phenomenal Forearm to pin Corbin for the win. AJ not really out of 2nd gear in this one but still decent of course, and a good showing for Corbin as well. He has certainly improved from the past, but still I don’t see him at the level where he’ll be matching AJ on a regular basis. After the match Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came out to attack both men, but Corbin responded with an End of Days to both and BARON CORBIN ended Smackdown standing tall.

And that was Smackdown. An OK show overall, but again too many good people are not on the show each week; WHERE was Ms Money In The Bank Carmella? WHERE were Rusev and Aiden English? WHERE were the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS? I get it’s only a 2 hour show but talent that good, it would be a huge shame for it to be forgotten about. I guess The Usos are the champions and Carmella has the briefcase so there is always that, but behind AJ and Nakamura and Charlotte it is Rusev who is the most over act on the whole show, so he should be being used ALL the time surely?

Key points to take home:

  • I hope they have something BIG planned for Charlotte and her title at Wrestlemania…
  • Ziggler is still good in-ring, his character is so lacklustre it’s a joke though
  • BORE OFF with this Top 10 list thing Jinder, I DON’T CARE!
  • The Bludgeon Brothers are getting there
  • Can we skip to AJ vs Nakamura build now please?

Conclusion

Fastlane is being built up to be a decent show, but it does very much feel like this is all filler until Wrestlemania. On the Raw side of things there seems to be much excitement whereas Smackdown seems to just exist right now. The Shane/Bryan/Owens/Zayn tension/feud/whatever it is continues to dominate the show for the 3000th week with seemingly no end. Smackdown; I really want to like you a lot, and with the abundance of talent you have it should be easy, but you’re losing me just lately. Let’s hope as Fastlane and, more importantly, Wrestlemania draws closer they can pick it up. We can only hope.

Josh.