It would appear WWE were attempting to start another era this week. The former GM was no more, the McMahons were in house to sing the winds of change and we were meant to see things shaken up. The question is though, were they actually going to shake things up? Well it would appear that change is on the horizon, it was not fully shown. Let’s get into the specifics and you’ll see what I mean.
McMahon Family Reunion
WWE’s Addams family were in attendance this week and boy did they want you to know. It started with Vince coming to the ring, then Steph, then HHH and lastly Shane. All four McMahons were in ring talking about how the recent programming wasn’t good enough. They talked about failing to provide the fans with what they want and promised to end the days of absent management (not that they’d really been missed.) They also claimed the WWE Universe was the boss and promised to do more to listen to fans and give them what they wanted. This was about twenty minutes of promises and not a lot else. Whilst it may seem cynical to assume they will not uphold this bargain, it’ll take time to see the actual results.
Completely Destroyed Corbin
Kurt Angle, Roode and Gable and Apollo Crews defeat Baron Corbin via Angle Slam
The biggest thing the McMahons did on RAW was basically end Baron Corbin as GM. He begged for another chance after being demolished at TLC and HHH seemed to be feeling merciful so gave him a chance. All he had to do was beat Kurt Angle. Seems easy enough right? Well firstly it was made a special referee match with Heath Slater as ref. Then when Corbin seemed to be winning, it was made a handicap match. Finally as the last nail in the coffin it was made a no DQ match meaning everyone basically jumped Corbin, smashed him with chairs and assisted Kurt Angle in putting him away with the Angle Slam. It was the last burial of the former GM elect as the McMahons hopefully have their last laugh at his expense as he has been beaten down two nights in a row. He would suffer a further indignity later in the night as he would try to blame Seth Rollins for his loss only to get punched in the head by the former King slayer.
Don’t Provoke a Psychopath
Finn Balor vs Dolph Ziggler ends in no contest
After the unwanted help for Ziggler at TLC, Finn Balor was put in a match against the Show Off as a means of retribution. They were having a pretty good match as the two men clearly have chemistry together and were doing a good job at keeping the match going. As both men were setting up finishes Drew made his first appearance. He was stopped by Dolph and Balor and left as an afterthought for another spell of the match. Drew would not stay forgotten though as Balor set up to finish Dolph he was hit with a Lariat. Drew then attacked both men, hit both with Claymore and walked away victorious having laid out both men that had gotten in his way.
My Feud Will Go On
Everyone should have guessed this feud would continue. When Elias won, only to be laid out by the Almighty and his mouthpiece, it should have been the biggest indicator that more would come. That was confirmed the second the audience was treated to a performance from Lashley and Rush using Elias’ lighting. Bobby once again hit all his usual poses and Lio sang more praises than a choir. The segment ended with the crowd suddenly getting excited as Elias appears behind Lashley and smashes him with a guitar. He doesn’t say anything, just smashes the guitar and leaves the ring to much applause. Whilst some things did change, this feud needs to continue and that doesn’t really phase me as it’s good to keep both men working on TV week after week.
One of the best things to air on RAW was the collection of upcoming and returning talent shown. This included a smorgasbord of NXT talent and the return of a deadly duo who had been written off with injuries. The NXT call ups were EC3, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and the previously announced Lars Sullivan. Now where these stars end up is unknown but we do know these will be the upcoming call ups. Whilst this ruins them being a surprise it does give people names to research so that the more casual WWE audience members can get up to scratch with who is coming. The returning talents are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Zayn was in full on heel mode for his package whereas Owens seemed to ooze pure aggression. Given the circumstances he left the under it will be interesting to see how he is when he comes back. Many people would assume a face turn given he was basically kayfabe injured by Bobby Lashley.
Tag Team Revival?
The Revival defeat AOP, B Team and Lucha House Party via Shatter Machine
So this is the best thing to happen on RAW. Since we have new tag champs in Roode and Gable we need to find them some number one contenders. To do this there was a four-way tag match between the four top teams on RAW. These were the Revival, AOP, The B Team and Lucha House Party. Whilst the match was chaotic, the correct team won. It was fun to watch Scott Dawson and Bo Dallas team up as a means to get rid of AOP. Bo would then try to win with roll ups only for Dawson to keep kicking out and get the tag and finish off Bo. The Revival are the new number one contenders and may finally get a decent match. Also no more Lucha House Party rules matches, thank God. Good riddance to those ridiculous matches.
The Gorgeous Open Challenge
Dean Ambrose defeats Tyler Breeze via Dirty Deeds
As a way of trying to mess with Seth Rollins, Dean was originally bragging about winning and tried to bring Seth out. When he got no response from Seth he decided to make an open challenge for the IC title. His call was answered by Tyler Breeze. This is the second title match in two weeks that the Prince of Pretty has gotten and I’m really happy to see him get used. He put on a rather strong showing against the champ and managed to get the upper hand on multiple occasions. Dean won by reversing an Unprettier attempt into the Dirty Deeds and got the pin. He tried to mock some more after the match only to get attacked by Seth who had been disguised as a SWAT team member. Dean legs it and Seth gets to have a modicum of payback as he dispatches the SWAT team.
Running the Gauntlet
Natalya finishes the gauntlet
The last part of RAW was dominated by a massive gauntlet match to determine who receives a shot at Ronda’s title after she received too much attention for her open challenge. When the whole division tries to get to the ring, Steph brings them all out and creates a gauntlet match. It started with Alicia Fox vs Bayley. Bayley defeats Fox and then the fresh Dana Brooke. Mickie James enters next and pins Bayley. Ember Moon enters next and is beats James. Next in the gauntlet is Natalya who beats Moon then Ruby Riott and finishes Sasha Banks with the Sharpshooter. This means Natalya will get a shot at Ronda’s title as the two friends have to fight. This was a fun match and it’ll be interesting to see the dynamic between Natalya and Ronda as they’re now title competitors.
McMahons Invade Smackdown
Asuka defeats Naomi via Asuka Lock
Smackdown was not safe from the meddling McMahons as it started with a very bad decision. Paige has been removed as GM as the McMahons have seized full control of both shows. He holds a removal ceremony backstage where they celebrate her work whilst she tries to pretend she doesn’t care about being removed. It sucks that this has happened as her GM work has been pretty damn good and she never really interjected herself into the show like Baron Corbin would. The show will be missing something without her there.
After this we cut to the ring where Becky and Charlotte are obviously unhappy about the ending of the TLC match. Both are jockeying for a rematch and Asuka is there to remind them they both lost. When both of them argue over who should be getting the next shot at the title, Vince’s music hits. He cuts down both women and says that if they want a rematch they have to earn it. Instead Naomi’s music hits and she has been given a title match. Her and Asuka have a relatively good match that features some brutal spots and keeps momentum shifting. It ends with Asuka locking in the Asuka Lock and tapping out her former tag partner. It was a fun little match and a decent way to start of Asuka’s title reign.
Fighting a Demon
Sometimes it’s the little things that have the most impact. Here we saw Jeff Hardy take a shot at Samoa Joe. It wasn’t flashy nor was it long-winded. It was billed as Joe coming out to apologise to Jeff only for Joe to turn and mock Jeff again for his past addictions. Instead of being mocked Jeff gave back, mocking Joe for his lack of titles. Joe is not happy about this and tries to attack only to be hit by a Twist of Fate. It was a small move and only meant to progress a feud but it was fun.
The Miz and Mandy Rose defeat R Truth and Carmella
This angle between the Miz and Shane is so odd at times. To watch the Miz turn from cocky and cunning heel to fawning over teaming with Shane has been incredibly unusual but also annoyingly interesting. It may be total trash in the end but it has been rather fun to watch the drastic change in character. Here we saw Miz trying to get Mr McMahon’s blessing to team with Shane. McMahon wasn’t impressed with Miz’s attempts at sucking up nor did he seem particularly interested in what Miz actually wanted. Vince said he doesn’t give blessings but he would let Miz prove himself if he really wanted to team with Shane. This meant we got a tag match between the Mixed Match Challenge winners and the team of Miz and Mandy Rose.
It was a decent tag match and we got some fun charisma between teams. The finish saw a dance break and Mandy Rose miss a running knee. She is kicked by Carmella and distracts Truth long enough for Miz to hit a Skull Crushing Finale and win. Again it didn’t mean much outside of this story but it was fun to watch and featured wrestling.
Rusev the Hunk/Rusev the Diva
So in this case you pick the title that suits you. Rusev gave a promo on how he’s a hunk and why he would be the perfect US champion. It was a little bit of fun and was very effective at endearing the crowd to Rusev. He is having fun getting to be more comedic and playful in the build to his title match. Nakamura responded to this promo with a clip show of Rusev on Total Divas. These saw him dressed as a clown, mowing his lawn in speedos and even cooking naked. Nakamura’s main point was basically why should he be scared of a clown like Rusev? It was a nice little back and forth where Nakamura got compared to Sonic the Hedgehog.
Gallows and Anderson vs The Usos ends in no contest
Now this was a pleasant surprise. Not only did we get to see Gallows and Anderson back on TV, they were back to fight. They challenged the Usos to a match and dropped a call out promo on the fact they were no longer going to hide in the shadows whilst other teams take the spotlight. The match was great and what was better was that the match was broken up by Sanity who attacked both teams and left the Bar to pick the carcasses. This little match saw the return of two lost teams to WWE TV. Hopefully this shake up means we’ll get to see more of them in the coming weeks.
Welcome to Smackdown Mustafa Ali
AJ Styles and Mustafa Ali defeat Andrade Cien Almas via 054
Its official, Mustafa Ali is officially a member of Smackdown Live. The former 205 Live star found himself in the main event teaming with former champ AJ Styles against the heel team of the New Daniel Bryan and the long-lost Andrade Cien Almas. Again this was another fun match that had the surprise finish of Ali pinning the champ. Not only has he debuted at the big leagues, he now has a win over the champion. Things could not be going better for Mustafa Ali right now. It was also a lot of fun to watch the dynamic between Almas as Bryan as they had to work together. Another worthy main event to finish another excellent edition of Smackdown.
Dakota Kai and Io Shirai defeat Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke via Moon Sault
NXT opened up with a tag match between the two warring women’s factions. The team of Io Shirai and Dakota Kai were looking to send a message to the bullying Horsewomen of MMA. Shafir and Duke came to the ring with plenty of swagger and seemed to enjoy grinding down Dakota Kai after using double team tactics to take the advantage. After a few minutes working over Kai, Shafir is hit with a Scorpion Kick and gets the hot tag to Shirai. Shirai then dominates with a bunch of stiff strikes and finishes the match with an Asai Moon Sault. This was a solid win for the face team as they have dispatched two of the Horsewomen in relatively easy fashion. This probably won’t be the last we see of these two teams in the ring but it was certainly an excellent way to draw first blood in this feud.
Feast Your Eyes
Dominik Dijakovic defeats Aaron Mackey via Feast Your Eyes
How do you debut someone like Dominik Dijakovic? You bring in someone much smaller than him and have them get absolutely destroyed. Dijakovic barely broke a sweat as he smashed Mackey with stiff strikes and threw him across the ring with power moves. There was a little bit of posing before Dijakovic introduced the Full Sail crowd to his finisher, a Torture Rack Knee Strike. This was a very bold debut as Mackey got no offense in at all. He was basically a rag doll for Dijakovic to abuse. Not to mention the intensity Dijakovic brought to the ring could intimidate anyone. He will certainly be one to watch during 2019.
Heavy Machinery Crush
Heavy Machinery defeat Jobber team via The Compactor
This was basically meant to be a preview of the Tag Title match next week. Heavy Machinery wanted to make a statement to the Undisputed Era by destroying a local jobber team. Otis started by basically mauling one of the members of the team driving them to the tag and hitting them with an Avalanche on the way out. Tucker was brought in and hit a train of running slams into the turnbuckles. They are then distracted by the Undisputed Era standing on the stage but don’t suffer for it as a jobber team member hits a weak forearm and pays for it. Both members eat a Compactor and then the match is finished with a double Compactor as Otis holds both men. I can hear the cheers of Rob Macauley from here. This was fun and basically made Heavy Machinery look like monsters. It’s just a shame we already know they ain’t getting those titles as they’re getting called up.
When Fury is Caged
Johnny Gargano defeats Aleister Black via Meet in the Middle (DIY)
Goddamn was this a fun main event. This could have easily been a Takeover match. This match was made after Ciampa talked both men into it. Gargano attacked Black during his entrance but was soon on the receiving end of some stiff strikes and eventually thrown into the cage. Both men use the cage to their advantage and trade moves. Gargano tries to escape a couple of times but is dragged back in. He takes control for a while after crotching Black on the top rope. They trade some more as Black gives up an escape attempt to inflict more punishment. This carries on for a while.
We get a trade of signatures and Gargano eats a Black Mass. Both men go down and try to escape, Gargano tries to climb over the cage and Black drags himself to the cage door. Black is about to escape when Ciampa slams the door in his face. He then comes into the cage and unloads on Black. Gargano comes back into the cage and just stares on, clearly conflicted. The crowd screams DIY and Ciampa tries to signal for their old finisher. They hit it on Black and Gargano eventually goes for the pin. He leaves ringside looking conflicted but incredibly happy to have won. This leaves us with two questions, 1) what happens next in this feud and will it see Gargano in the title scene? 2) Are Gargano and Ciampa back on the same page after months of intense hatred? These questions have to be answered soon as the next Takeover looms.
Well, it may not have been quite the shakeup we wanted but there’s no denying that some good has come from this week’s WWE TV. There’s new talent on the horizon, superstars and teams got another shot at relevance and who doesn’t like the idea of Mustafa Ali being on Smackdown Live. Once again it has been enjoyable and next week’s programmes have been previewed and pre-taped so that EVERYONE gets to enjoy their Christmas. It’s been interesting to watch what gets shaken up and what’ll be shaken up next. Let’s hope this yields some good results and doesn’t churn out more boring repetitive content. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’ll remain optimistic.
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