WWE week in review – April 27 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

Josh.

Raw 26/3/18 Review: DO SOMETHING!!!

We are just THIRTEEN days away from Wrestlemania, and the build up to the Raw side of the card will only heat up further tonight… maybe literally as we will see John Cena take on Kane. Maybe a certain brother of his will make an appearance… or send a message of some form… or a GONG… lets see shall we? …

Raw began with the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman making their way to the ring. Heyman then showed some footage of last week’s attack by Lesnar on his Wrestlemania challenger Roman Reigns from last week, before revealing that Reigns’ suspension had been lifted. He went on to say that that means everyone is waiting for Roman to now come out, but that would not be the case because he wasn’t here tonight (much to the delight of the crowd… for god sake guys, play along please). Heyman continued on, making reference to Reigns being raised by his father Sika and uncle Afa (WWE Hall of Famers ’The Wild Samoans’) to be a ‘badass, to wrestle and to win’ but that it was a shame they didn’t raise Reigns to be a man, because a man would be in Cleveland tonight (to face Lesnar man-to-man). Heyman would continue to berate Roman before the challenger came towards the ring through the crowd, before being halted by a viscous clothesline by Lesnar. Roman was able to fight back by pushing Brock into the ring post and hitting him across the back 3 times, he then went for a Superman Punch by flying off the steps, only to be caught and hit with a belly-to-belly suplex followed by a huge shot to the head with the steel steps, then hit again back in the ring, then hit across the back with the steel chair he had previously bought into play, and then finally after teasing leaving Reigns in a heap he went back and hit a huge F5 onto the steps, before raising his Universal Championship belt high above his head, with his fallen challenger laying beaten beneath him. And for the second week in a row Brock Lesnar had absolutely destroyed Roman Reigns. The pattern during Lesnar’s title run so fart had been that the challenger would look strong going into the match before Lesnar would hit the F5 for the win, perhaps a reverse with this match? Probably.

Next match was Raw Women’s Championship challenger Nia Jax taking on the new accomplice of the champion (Alexa Bliss was at ringside) Mickie James. Relatively straight forward match with Jax getting the win after James came from the top rope only to be picked off, Gorilla Pressed and then Samoan Dropped. Shortly after the match Bliss made her way into the ring and hit Jax across the back to little effect as Nia looked on bemused and then chased Bliss away from the ring, screaming as she did so and even calling her former friend a “Bitch” (I think they tried to bleep this out, but failed and it was clearly heard… I imagine somebody is in big trouble). Simple stuff here but enough to advance the story a little bit more, I imagine Bliss will have another near miss next week before Nia finally gets her hands on the champion in the match itself at Wrestlemania.

There was then a video package showing Triple H and Stephanie McMahon building up and training for their match with Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey at Mania. The 2 spoke well and seemed very real in the things they said, there was also an interview with Joe DeFranco (a famous strength and conditioning coach) where he said that both Stephanie and Triple H train ‘all year round’ mentioning their ‘midnight workouts’ (check their Instagram’s for the videos), he then put over more how hard they were both training. I didn’t mind this as I genuinely believe it. Stephanie then said Rousey looked ‘vulnerable’ last week, footage was shown of Triple H beating Angle a number of times during their original WWE run (99-05), and then Stephanie finished off by saying Rousey doesn’t scare her because she’s ‘a McMahon’ which means she will ‘work for her’ and that she would humble Rousey just the way they’ve ‘humbled every superstar in the WWE’. God I hope this match is at least OK because I feel people are waiting for it to be bad before they castrate it. I don’t think it’ll be bad but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s very good.

Next up was something I really wish I had more to talk about, but the match was less than 5 minutes long so I didn’t really take many notes. The match saw the return of the cruiserweight division of 205 Live to Raw; and with 205 Live General Manger Drake Maverick on commentary to try and further promote the division we were greeted to a tag team match pitting the two men who will contest the Cruiserweight Championship match at Wrestlemania, Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali, against Drew Gulak & TJP. It was a fun enough match with plenty of typical Cruiserweight spots, but the match was sub 5 minutes so that says it all really. You are never going to get this division over if you just showcase them for FIVE MINUTES on a Raw every now and then. Finish saw Ali make a blind tag on Cedric after he had hit his finisher, before Ali hit his 054 (reverse 450) splash for the pin. Ali and Alexander showing some tension between them both afterwards as Cedric was unable to get the pinfall. I hope these two are on the main card at Mania, and I hope they absolutely smash their match out the park, god knows for the sake of 205 Live they need to. I think they will, but I’m nervous for them.

Next was yet another Mix TV segment. The crowd offering Miz “welcome home” chants (Cleveland is where he is originally from), but he was able to stick to his heel persona by reminding them all that “I live in L.A.”. The Miz then went on to bemoan his Miztourage colleagues Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel by telling them that he had been left laying for the past two weeks because they let him down. Dallas responded saying they are doing the best they can before Miz suggested that maybe he should “BO-LIEVE himself back to catering because Dallas would be nothing without him” (I really found this line amusing). Seth Rollins then made his way out, and applauded the Miztourage for hashing out their problems, before asking Miz when the last time he thanked Dallas and Axel? He went on to say if it wasn’t for the Miztourage then Miz wouldn’t be Intercontinental champion. Miz came back by saying they know he is grateful for them, and that they should be thankful for him because he elevated their careers, and that even without them he would still be a huge star. This prompted Bo Dallas to again comment by saying Miz would be “a phony A-lister who can’t fight”. This got a big shocked reaction from the crowd, and was probably the loudest pop Bo Dallas has got for some time. A shocked Miz then demanded Dallas repeat that, but was unable to before Finn Balor made his entrance. Balor then proceeded to add further flames to this developing fire, Dallas went on to indeed repeat what he had said which garnered a positive crowd response and a slap from The Miz which in turn angered Bo so much that Curtis (Hennig, this will become relevant soon) Axel had to hold him back. Miz said he was trying to motivate Dallas because he was 34 days away from becoming the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time, meaning he would be better than ‘Randy Savage, better than Shan Michaels, better than Mr. Perfect (aka Curt Hennig, aka Curtis Axel’s DAD). This was when Axel got mad. Miz tried to calm the situation but Dallas and Curt got in his face and seemed to want a fight, Miz was eventually trapped between Balor & Rollins on one side and Dallas and Axel on the other and just when it seemed as if the IC Champ was in big trouble, Dallas and Axel then attacked Rollins and Balor. Showing it had all been Miz’s plan all along as he smirked. Eventually Finn Balor’s Balor Club allies Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came down to make the save, brawling with Bo and Curtis to the back, leaving Balor and Miz in the ring together. Finn then went for a Slingblade and Rollins for Curb Stomp, but Miz was able to escape. He did leave behind his Championship belt, Rollins took it and held it over Balor whilst looking right at him, before Finn pushed Seth out of the way of the incoming Miz, who was then sent packing. Balor then gave Rollins a strong punch to the face, leaving Rollins down and now Balor hoisted the Intercontinental Championship aloft. This was fine. Not spectacular but like I say week after week, I have no doubt the match will be great fun to watch.

Interview with Kane next backstage, he told his opponent later tonight, John Cena, that “there are demons you should never call out, demons that should Rest In Peace” and that Cena wasn’t going to Wrestlemania because tonight he was “going to hell”. This would’ve been great had it not been for the fact that there is absolutely no chance that Kane is winning tonight.

Next up we had Charlie Caruso do an interview with Jamie Frost, the jobber… sorry, opponent… for Asuka let tonight. Frist said “Asuka likes to say no one is ready for Asuka, but Asuka isn’t ready for me”. Ok then, good luck… Asuka came out, the bell rung, Frost slapped Asuka, Asuka hit an incredible roundhouse kick and pinned her 1, 2, and 3. The match was over in 30 seconds. That was it. Always fun to see Asuka destroy someone but 2 weeks from Wrestlemania I’d have hoped for more, I don’t even know why she isn’t on Smackdown fully building the match up with Charlotte already? I imagine she’ll be there tomorrow but we’ll see…

Michael Cole and Corey Graves then reviewed the Ultimate Deletion from last week (spoiler alert… it was WONDERFUL). WOKEN Matt Hardy then did a promo telling us all he had DELETED Bray Wyatt, and that he was entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. DELIGHTFUL!

Next up was the most noteworthy part of the show. Bayley was in the locker room area when Sasha Banks (her ‘friend’) came to her and said she had received her text. Bayley though began to walk away which led Banks to ask if that was it? Bayley said she was entering the Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal and that was it! Sasha asked if they were going to talk about what happened last week, Bayley said there was nothing to talk about because Banks knows what she did. An angry Sasha said then shouted that ‘was sick of Bayley’s passive-aggressive nonsense’, Bayley responded saying she thought Banks liked it because that was the type of friendship they wanted to have, the one ‘where Banks gets to do whatever she wants because Bayley gets to be right by her side going along with it’. Bayley said she thinks Banks loves it that she puts her first, Banks says she is the boss and makes no apologies for putting her career first, and suggests that maybe Bayley too should do that so that everyone around here ‘doesn’t think Bayley is a complete loser’ (WOW thigs heating up here). A fired-up Bayley then said that the truth is Banks can’t beat her, to which Sasha said she’s a four-time Raw Women’s Champion, in which Bayley then asked her how long she kept it for (referring to the amazing fact that Sasha Banks has never had a successful main roster title defence). The Hugger then began to walk away before Banks grabbed her from behind and threw her into a nearby locker. The 2 then brawled before being separated… FINALLY THIS FEUD IS HAPPENING! We aren’t going to get the Mania one on one match they deserve but going forward it all seems to be ON! EXCELLENT!

The Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro then made their way out, with Sheamus due to take on Braun Strowman. Sheamus demanded to know who Braun’s partner to the tag team title match at Wrestlemania would be. Braun said he would reveal his partner if Sheamus could defeat him. This made the Irishman very angry, as Strowman ensured Sheamus would ‘GET THESE HANDS’! And indeed Sheamus would ‘GET THESE HANDS’ as Braun would obviously get the win. Who do I think the partner is? Hopefully Elias. Should they keep it a secret until the match itself? Absolutely. Will Braun and partner win? I’m not sure, but hopefully.

Kurt Angle then made his way to the ring, he then introduced his Wrestlemania partner Ronda Rousey. Kurt cut a promo saying Wrestlemania was ‘the most intimidating stage for anyone to compete in for the first time’ but after watching Ronda train he knows she is ready. He said Triple H and Stephanie write the rules and make the rules, and that this wasn’t going to be easy. Ronda said it was fine that it wasn’t going to be easy because she wasn’t looking for easy, she said she was here to earn everything that she gets and that Stephanie talks tough, but “she’s trust-fund tough, she’s limousine tough and personal trainer tough” (Best lines from Ronda in WWE so far by a mile).Ronda finished off by again saying she was going to rip Stephanie’s ‘arm from her socket’. Absolution then came out, Paige took the mic and warned Ronda that not having friends will absolutely destroy her, before offering her to be the 4th member of Absolution. Ronda declined, saying Angle had her back, Paige then led Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville towards Ronda ad Angle held the Rowdy one back, Sonya Deville then grabbed Ronda’s shoulder which earnt her a huge clothesline from Rousey. This would be followed up with a Suplex on Rose into Deville (the timing of which was way off as Deville had to run forward to be hit with Rose, it was clear what the spot was supposed to be but it was sloppily executed). Kurt angle then raised Rousey’s arm but Mandy Rose attempted to jump her, she was though seen and Rousey hit a great-looking Judo type throw on Rose before locking her in a potential Armbar position. Angle pleaded with Ronda not to break Rose’s arm and Rousey eventually let her run free. Rousey looks stronger still, so can’t complain.

Gallows and Anderson then beat Dallas and Axel in a bit of a nothing match. 5 minutes was all they got. Gallows got the pin. Fine.

The ever talented, and one of my favourite’s on the entire roster at the moment, Elias came out next looking to give us another of his signature performances. He told the crowd that “in this kingdom of madness, there are those who walk and those who don’t walk yet, but in 13 days at Wrestlemania I will give the greatest performance of my lifetime”. He then said he had ‘sold out Madison Square Garden last week, so coming to Cleveland is a huge disappointment’ (WWE recently did a big live event at MSG, so he’s not technically wrong). He would go on to say he was embarrassed to be here tonight’ but that his friend LeBron James told him the same thing when he returned to Cleveland. He would go on to say that James would be leaving Cleveland soon, just like he would, before then going on to sing another of his hilarious songs. This one including the putdown: ‘Wrestlemania was on the horizon, but I’m stuck in this town. The only thing that would be more embarrassing is being a member of the Cleveland Browns’ which I really liked. Another masterful performance was then interrupted by Rhyno and Heath Slater. A squash match followed with Elias beating Rhyno in no time at all. After the match Elias hit Heath Slater with his finisher too. Always fun to see Elias perform, shame it was against such sub-standard opposition.

We were then told it would be Rollins vs Balor next week, and also there’d be another confrontation between Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Should be good.

And finally it was time for the main event; John Cena taking on… THE UNDERTAKER… ‘s brother Kane… This turned out to be a NO DQ match which added an extra fun element to it. Early on Cena tried to lift Kane for the AA, but simply fell down under the pressure of how heavy Kane was (bit harsh on old Kane imo…). They would go on to brawl around the outside of the ring area with Kane throwing Cena into the steel steps. Cena would later launch a barricade into Kane’s stomach, Kane then suplexed Cena onto the barricade, they returned to the ring where Kane undid one of the turnbuckle covers, before Cena sat up just like The Undertaker typically does. John Cena would continue to mock Kane’s brother by doing his throat-slashing gesture before performing a Chokeslam on Kane (who has been using the move as his finisher for 20 years or so). Cena went under the ring for in search of a table, and then set it up in the ring, but Kane this time sat up in signature fashion. Kane tried to lift Cena, but he was reversed and Cena then attempted to AA Kane through the table. But the Big Red Machine was able to push the table over and knock Cena down. Kane then placed the table in the corner, he then threw Cena but got only two count from the referee. Kane went on to pull out another table and set up for the Chokeslam of his own but the leader of the Cenation was able to get behind Kane and hit him with an AA through the table for the pinfall and the win. Obviously John Cena won, that was never in any doubt. Match itself was fine for a 15 minute no DQ match between two veterans. Again we all await the aftermath now… And so Cena and us all waited and waited for SOMETHING from The Undertaker, but we got nothing. A frustrated Cena said this was a match with no rules, anything can happen and anyone could be here. He even screamed for The Undertaker, the crowd chanted his name, leading Cena to say that The Undertaker wasn’t deaf, ‘he was just a coward’. He said his silence was no longer an answer and that it’s either yes or no, he again reiterated he had no problem going to Wrestlemania as a fan, but he pleaded that The Undertaker “DO SOMETHING” because (talking directly to the camera throughout the later part of this amazing promo) ‘now you only have one week left, one week left that sums up your entire career… you can do something, or you can do nothing… and if you do nothing you will let me down, let Kane down and let everyone down who ever believed in you… I hope for the sake of all that is good inside this ring I see you next week’. Cena then dropped his mic, walked off and that was how Raw ended. An impassioned promo from Cena, I really felt as if he meant very word he said. It has long been a desire of most WWE fans and also a public desire of Cena himself to have this match happen, and he is building up to it tremendously well in my opinion.

And that was Raw. Not the most eventful of shows, not going to be when you have your Mania card all sorted weeks before the show but it had some high point for sure. Some bits I struggled to write anything about too…

Key Points to Take Home

. Roman needs to get SOMETHING over Lesnar going into Mania surely? Or do you just save it for his inevitable victory?

. Nia’s going to squash Alexa at Wrestlemania; or at least she should do

. Asuka deserves so much better of a Wrestlemania build to the one she is getting

. I hope Braun’s partner doesn’t disappoint

. I’m starting to think Cena vs Taker should main event or at least be 2nd last on the card at Wrestlemania

Conclusion

I’ve accused Smackdown of this in recent weeks, so would be unfair if I didn’t criticize the usually eventful Raw for the same thing. Raw seemed to just be stagnant this week. There were extreme highs; Cena’s promo obviously top of that list but Bayley and Sasha FINALLY getting some offence on one another was great to see, the rest was all… just … ok for me. I feel Raw could’ve maybe done without another week to build until Mania. But we have reasons to be hopeful, next week promises to be an epic go home show… and then obviously it could have something else too…

GONG!

Josh.