Week one of the 12-week Facebook Watch exclusive WWE ‘Mixed Match Challenge’ series hit the internet last night and we’re here to give you our recap of what went down after SmackDown Live went off the air. As a matter of fact, we’ll be here every single week to recap these episodes so make sure to bookmark us to keep up if you like what we do.
The first episode gave us a match between the team of Monday Night RAW’s Finn Balor and Sasha Banks (The Boss Club) and SmackDown Live’s Natalya and Shinsuke Nakamura. Every match will be contested under mixed match rules, so only members of the same gender will be deemed legal at the same time. Each team will be wrestling for a charity in this single elimination tournament with the winning team donating $100,000 in their names to a charity and each losing team donating $10,000. The team of Balor and Banks are wrestling for the Special Olympics while the team of Natalya and Nakamura will be wrestling for Make-A-Wish.
Finn Balor is out first while Renee Young and Byron Saxton stand ringside talking over each entrance. Various social media intros also play during the entrances so the viewers are kept very busy. Banks is out second to join her partner followed by Natalya and then Nakamura, who comes out last. We then join Michael Cole (who seems to have recovered from the being manhandled by Braun Strowman the previous night) Corey Graves and Beth Phoenix behind the announce table.
Natalya and Banks kick things off but the veteran Hart Dungeon grad decides to play some mind games with her opponent and tags in Nakamura. In comes Balor.
There was nothing too crazy here from these two; some grappling, fighting for position and some rest holds. Nonetheless, the fans are buying into the moment—we’re witnessing two international superstars that really have quite the storied history.
Nakamura lands a good knee off a taunt and decides to go for Good Vibrations; Balor has it well scouted and reverses. Natalya tags in and we can see, judging by Nakamura’s reaction, that these two aren’t quite on the same page. This isn’t the case for Banks and Balor, who really play off one another quite well from the onset all the way up until the final bell and beyond. Both of their personalities really shine all throughout the show. Nattie taunts Sasha—
awkwardly—in only ways Nattie can and we get our weekly reminder from Michael Cole, “It’s Boss Time.”
We get some really solid work here from both women, Nattie gets her offense in then Sasha gets hers. Natalya decides that she needs a breather outside where she’s met by Nakamura. They talk things over and out of nowhere, a suicide diving Sasha is caught by Nakamura out of mid-air. Sasha yells at Nakamura to put her down. Nakamura complies, setting her down on the apron and proceeds to inch away as he holds his hands up. Nakamura then taunts Sasha—Cole calls it putting a spell on her. Sasha responds with a “Are you kidding me?” and dives at him off the apron but Nakamura is able to move out-of-the-way which causes her to take Natalya out. Sasha proceeds to mock Nakamura.
Sasha rolls back into the ring where she’s met with a vicious discus clothesline from Natalya. The ‘Queen of Harts’ applies a sleeper hold to Sasha and we are shown the team of Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch backstage in what is being called the Mixed Match Challenge ‘Chat Room’.
The crowd is all the way behind Sasha, we get a hot tag tease to Balor but Nattie hits a beautiful slam to keep her away. She stretches Sasha out but ‘The Boss’ is able to eventually hit an Enziguri and tag Finn. Now, all hell breaks loose.
Balor and Nakamura are working at a much faster pace now as the match is entering its closing segment. Finn runs wild; he hits an Enziuguri of his own, applies a headlock and drops an elbow into the chest of Nakamura. Shinsuke is able to get his licks in but a Kinshasha is countered with a Sling Blade from Balor. Finn lays Shinsuke out with a running front dropkick and goes up top for the Coup de Grace, where he’s met by Natalya. The crafty Neidhart shakes the ropes and Finn is left clutching his nether regions. This allows Shinsuke to hit the Kinshasha and nearly get the pinfall but Sasha makes the save. Natalya jumps in and attempts to throw Sasha out of the ring but Banks reverses and yells at Nattie to “Stay Out!” Shinsuke begins tuning up another Kinshasha but he gives Finn too much time to gather himself and gets thrown into the post shoulder first. Finn makes the tag.
Sasha hits double flying knees on Natalya on the outside. ‘The Boss’ is animated—she’s all sorts of fired up. Sasha tosses Nattie back into the ring and we get a lovely “Too Sweet” moment between Finn and Sasha before they hit double team running front drop kicks on their downed opponents. Sasha locks in the ‘Bank Statement’ and Natalya is forced to tap.
Finn Balor and Sasha Banks are your winners via submission.
Reno’s Thoughts: What’s not to like about a little 20 minute well produced WWE show with top talents that actually seem to enjoy what they’re doing. I thought there were some really cool interactions here and the mixed tag dynamic was properly used in certain spots. While we never may get intergender wrestling in WWE (recent signee Candice LeRae is proof that it can work) this is a fun step in that direction. Facebook is paying WWE to do these episodes so they really have nothing to lose here other than putting out their product on a new medium and doing something great for multiple charities. With all of the content that WWE has out there on a weekly basis, I’d actually recommend checking this episode out. It may not be for everyone, but I feel like you’ll enjoy it if you’re really into the characters themselves.
Come back and join us next week when RAW’s Asuka and The Miz take on SmackDown Live’s Big E and Carmella.
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