After the dumpster fire that was RAW last week, the creative team needed to get their act together. The big question is did they manage it? Kind of. It wasn’t brilliant but it was at least more enjoyable than anything last week’s pathetic attempt puked up. There were some decent things on the show and things to actually enjoy. Smackdown was once again light, breezy and fun with plenty to enjoy even if there wasn’t as much to talk about. Lastly we saw NXT on fire again as it lays out plans for the future and gave us an interesting new debut. Without further delay let’s get on with diving through the mess.
Ronda’s Busy Night
Ronda Rousey & Ember Moon defeat Tamina and Nia Jax via Eclipse/Arm Bar
RAW started off with a bang as it was meant to open with a tag match between the teams of Ronda Rousey and Natalya and Nia Jax and Tamina. What happened instead was the Riott Squad interfering before the match could begin and putting Natalya through a table. That’s no joke, the match was about to begin and the Riott Squad come out bringing a table with them. Jax and Tamina attack whilst they are distracted and Natalya is dragged outside. The Riott Squad work over Natalya whilst Nia and Tamina work at destroying Rousey. The segment ends with Natalya being hit with a Superkick aided Powerbomb through a table. Rousey could only watch on as she had just eaten a Nia Jax Leg Drop.
Rousey was fired up after this and wanted revenge. She accosted Bliss backstage and wants to get her hands on everyone involved in injuring Natalya. The Riott Club have been sent home so she has to make do with Nia and Tamina in another tag match. She decides to accept but goes on to find her own partner. This ends up being Ember Moon. The two worked well together and basically saw Tamina eat the finishes as Nia was too cowardly to fight Ronda. The striking visual of the match saw Ronda throw Tamina into her own corner and demanding she tag in Nia. Tamina obliges but Jax tags back out within seconds. Whether this has any impact on the Tamina and Jax relationship going forth is anyone’s guess but you’d think this puts a strain on their newly established partnership.
The Odd Actions of Alexa Bliss
Sasha Banks and Bayley defeat Alicia Fox and Mickie James via Bayley to Belly
After the “success” of last week’s open forum between Sasha Banks and Bayley, WWE decided to give us another. Please try to reserve your cheering. This one was longer and took more questions. There was some barbs thrown between Alexa and the two faces and some teases of the Women’s tag titles but not much else of note. Once again Mickie, Alicia and Dana Brooke attack but Alexa stops them. She admonishes them for their actions and makes an official tag match between the two teams.
The match itself was fine offering some decent spots and since we’ve seen these teams fight fairly often so there is chemistry between them. The more important thing to note is how Alexa Bliss is acting. She is much quieter and almost more timid since being given power. This seems like such a drastic change of character given her often cocky nature and loud promo skills. Now she seems intimidated because the whole of her roster can turn on her if she messes up. It’s not bad by any means and it’ll be interesting to see how this will play out. If anyone can make this work it has to be Alexa Bliss.
The One Man Power Trip
Baron Corbin is hilarious as the heel authority figure. Whilst his actions are tiring and his dividing of the roster to suit his needs is no doubt damaging RAW, his character is great. He is getting so full of himself now that part way through the show we got a political style propaganda package bigging up Corbin as the GM Elect. This on it’s own was great for the sheer absurdity of it. This was a full on professionally done package purely to recap everything Corbin has done since becoming GM. Corbin is going completely power mad and his actions are getting out of hand. He was changing matches on the fly and seemed set to screw the face superstars. This is going to get incredibly tedious soon but for now I still enjoy Corbin’s awful character.
Enough of This
Lucha House Party defeat Scott Dawson via Senton
Why? Why are we still being subjected to this? Why are the Revival still being subjected to this? All these matches have accomplished so far is make me hate Lucha House Party. If you were turning Lucha House Party heel then this is how you would do it. The Revival were completely justified to call BS on the fact they have been subjected to two weeks of handicap matches. This week Scott Dawson tried to call this out and get a singles match, only for it to then be fought under Lucha House Party rules. One member of the Revival (the heel team) had to fight three members of the face team. That was in no way fair and it sucked to watch. Not to mention the only memorable thing from this segment was the fact that Matt Jackson tweeted about fighting the Revival one day. With matches this poor lined up for them, no one can blame the Revival for jumping ship to fight better competition.
Break Ups Are Never Easy
Dolph Ziggler defeats Drew McIntyre via Superkick
Drew McIntyre appreciation night didn’t really go to plan now did it? After receiving a gold medal for his service to Corbin, Dolph Ziggler interrupted the ceremony to question Drew about his lack of an invitation. Drew tells him he is no longer needed and orders him to shoo. Through the condescending attitude and the blatant disrespect it was no surprise to see Dolph snap and attack Drew. He lays out his former partner and tries to leave ringside. Corbin calls him back and makes a match between the two. The match itself was fine even if it was a bit out of the blue.
The key point in the match came from Finn Balor as he hits Drew with a Shotgun Dropkick into the barricade, knocking Drew loopy and forcing him to beat a ten count. When he dives into the ring, he eats a Superkick and Dolph wins. This is a bigger deal than it may seem as this is Drew’s first pinfall defeat on the main roster. That’s a big accolade for Dolph and adds more heat to the Finn/Drew match as Balor has cost Drew his undefeated streak.
Lio Rush, Meet Guitar
Elias seemed fed up this week. He still delivered his usual promo but it didn’t quite feel as enthusiastic as it normally would be. Just before he could perform a song for the audience he was interrupted by Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley. Lashley gives the audience a flexing session provoking Elias to attack. Rush legs it from the stage and Lashley is eventually overpowered. Just as Lashley was about to get the guitar, he scrambles away. Elias comes to the stage disappointed only for Lio Rush to be thrown up to him. Rush gets a vicious guitar shot to the back and we see it was Finn Balor who presented Elias with the loudmouth manager to smack. The two acknowledge each other and the segment ends.
What is Dead May Never Die
AOP & Drake Maverick defeat Roode & Gable via Super Collider
End this feud. It’s going nowhere and it has already been tainted by the stink of urine and bad booking. Both teams can wrestle and both teams could probably have had a decent feud if not for the pee antic. This match was going to be between Drake Maverick and Bobby Roode. That would have been funny to watch and it would have given Roode some small bit of vengeance for the robe antic. Instead we got Roode dominating for a few second, then a backstage video of Chad Gable getting decimated backstage by AOP and then Baron Corbin making the match a three on two handicap match. Obviously it was mainly Roode vs AOP and then Roode and Gable getting dropped by a Super Collider. Maverick asked to make the pin and his team obliged him. This was another dead match in a dead feud. Just let it die.
Bye Bye Rhyno
Heath Slater defeats Rhyno via Leaping Neckbreaker
This was probably the oddest thing on RAW this week. Heath Slater had to fight his former tag partner in a loser leaves town match per the booking of Baron Corbin. Rhyno was not going to go out without a fight despite Slater’s pleas. He brought it to Slater for about a minute and was then dispatched by a single Neckbreaker. It was a sad match that saw Rhyno forced to retire. This will probably be revoked soon and is meant to show the power trip of Corbin. The other kicker was Heath Slater may have kept his job but has been relegated to referee. It was an odd moment that led to the retirement of one of ECW’s best… for now.
Dean Ambrose Saves RAW
Dean Ambrose may not be the most convincing heels on the roster but goddamn is he entertaining to watch. He came to RAW in a Bane cosplay flanked by a team of SWAT troopers. He cut a promo on the state of where he has had to visit, Seth Rollins and how he is now the moral compass of WWE. It’s odd that he is now a germaphobe but it does provide some comedic moments amongst his more serious jabs at the Shield and Seth Rollins. Dean’s words brought out Rollins who destroyed the SWAT team and fought Dean in the crowd as he tried to flee. Dean regains the upper hand and drops Seth with two Dirty Deeds before calling it quits on the segment.
Finn Balor Pays the Price
Finn Balor defeats Jinder Mahal via Coup De Grace
After saving Dolph and gifting Elias someone to bash in with a guitar, Finn capped off his night by fighting Jinder Mahal. He made relatively easy work of the former WWE champion and we got to see Apollo Crews come to his aid by dealing with the Singh Brothers. The best of the match was the fact that Finn won with the Coup De Gras for once. No roll ups or screwy finishes just a flat out finishing move to get the three count. Unfortunately Finn couldn’t celebrate for too long as he someone came to collect backstage after the match. Drew ambushed Balor as he was about to get interviewed and basically pummelled him into a pulp shouting abuse the whole time. It was a devastating attack that made Drew look totally unhinged and vengeful. It also made sense after Finn cost him the victory against Dolph.
Battle of the Women’s Title Challengers
Absolution defeat Charlotte and Asuka via Asuka aided pinfall
Smackdown started with a recap of the TLC match announcement and opened with a contract signing for the match. All three participants were in the ring accompanied by Paige. It wasn’t long before the verbal barbs started with Charlotte ripping into Becky and claiming she was going to win, Becky was talking about her struggle and how she was going to beat them both down and Asuka warned Becky that she had never faced her before. Asuka and Charlotte started to squabble over previous losses and were then made to tag together against Absolution after Becky signed and walked away. During the tag match, things seemed to be going well with Charlotte and Asuka working well together despite their differences.
The problems started to arise when Mandy Rose attacked Charlotte from behind. Charlotte mistook this for Asuka attacking her and lashed out at her partner. Sonya Deville would try to take advantage with a roll up but Charlotte reversed into a roll up of her own. She would have won too but Asuka kicked her in the face as retaliation and Sonya pins Charlotte off the interference. This was a satisfying result as Absolution gets some form of win and tensions continue to mount between Charlotte and Asuka. It should also be mentioned that as the match went on, the man was watching from commentary.
Tag Team Preview
Jey Uso defeats Xavier Woods and Cesaro via Superkick on Cesaro
Even in triple threat matches, Smackdown Live’s tag division reigns supreme. All three teams were trying to build some momentum ahead of the triple threat tag match at TLC by sending one of their members to war. Once again we had a fun match between these three as the chemistry is always there. Cesaro had the spot of the match though as he pulled of a Cesaro Swing on both Jey Uso and Xavier Woods. The end saw Cesaro eat a Superkick after dispatching of Woods. This is two weeks in a row that the Usos have gotten a win over the Bar in some regard. Is this a hint that they could be taking those belts from the Bar or are WWE just trying to make them more credible before the triple threat?
The US Title Gauntlet is Thrown Down
Rusev just laid down a challenge to Nakamura. In one small backstage segment he managed to make himself seem strong, the US Title seem important and showed a level of passion we haven’t seen from him in a while. It was a simple message to state he was hungry for belts and Nakamura would be the perfect feast. It was simple, effective and may have made me hungry thinking about it. If we do get this match I hope it’s booked properly. Both men are excellent wrestlers and should put on one hell of a match.
Remember Kids Moderation
Randy Orton defeats Jeff Hardy via RKO
What is it with heels being reasonable people lately? We saw Dean Ambrose being vaccinated, Daniel Bryan would go on to talk about the environment and the people who hurt it and here we saw Samoa Joe interrupt Jeff Hardy’s hundredth match against Randy Orton to talk about the powers of moderation. Now he wasn’t just doing this as a PSA but as a means to once again stab at the problems Jeff Hardy has had with addiction in the past. This was enough to distract him from the match and cost him the win as Orton hits him with an RKO. Again it was a simple thing that had a big impact. It took a match we’ve seen multiple times and made it more fun.
Actually to the creative team’s credit, this match was perfectly fine. Considering it was so recently done, another Orton Hardy match was actually entertaining and made sense in the scheme of things. Joe preaches about Hardy’s demons, what better way to make a statement than to cost him a win against one. This promo was just fun and Joe’s delivery was perfect.
Daniel Bryan Best in the World?
AJ Styles defeats Miz via Calf Crusher
So environmentalist heel Daniel Bryan is absolutely amazing. He was the guest on Miz TV and since he came to talk, he was going to make the audience listen. He shut down a “what” chant and demonised everyone in the arena for the waste they produce and even tried to shut down the Miz as he revelled in the fact that Bryan was using his tactics to win. Bryan admitted to kicking people to the groin as a means to win and Miz loved every second of it. This tirade brought out Styles who tried to get some licks in at Bryan but Bryan throws Miz at him and flees.
This led to a match between Miz and Styles that was really fun to watch. Bryan was on commentary for the match and kept laying into Byron. Both Miz and Styles have excellent ability and chemistry in the ring. The match ended with Styles tapping out the Miz then being instantly destroyed by Bryan. Daniel Bryan starts by Chop Blocking Styles then throws him into the ring post and announce table. He locks Styles in the Heel Hook and laps up the crowd’s hatred, calling them all fickle. He stomps on Styles and ends the show by locking on the Heel Hook again. Bryan seems to be in full hate mode and it is amazing to watch.
Riddle gets Knocked Out – The Punishment Due
Matt Riddle defeats Punishment Martinez via Bro-Mission
When NXT opens with Matt Riddle, you know you’re in for a fun show. Riddle came to the ring to take part in the opening match of the show against the newly debuting former ROH star Punishment Martinez. The announce team went out of their way to put over Martinez and the man already screams intimidating giant. He had a slug fest of a match with Riddle and was actually dominant for a large part of the match. He had the power advantage over Riddle and spent a lot of the time beating him down with strikes. Riddle got the comeback and eventually won by locking on the Bro-Mission. It was an excellent little sprint that did an excellent job of introducing the NXT Universe to Punishment Martinez.
After the match Riddle was ambushed by a vengeful Kassius Ohno who knocked him out with a Rolling Elbow. This knocked Riddle off the ramp and showered Ohno in a chorus of boos. He stood over Riddle as referees attended to him. This means that the feud will continue and we’ll hopefully get an amazing blow off match.
Forgotten Sons defeat Mendoza/Carillo via Stomp/Scorpion Death Drop Combo
Once again Mendoza and Carillo shine when placed in a match. The two luchadores wowed audiences with their high-flying, fast paced offense. They once again lost but they did it in style. Forgotten Sons are starting to grow on me as they used their power game to take control of the match and bully their opponents. Whilst they may not be the flashiest team on NXT, they have a clear aesthetic and they are starting to get to show off more of their move set. Blake basically brought the match back by pulling off a rope assisted DDT on Carillo. They won with their double team finisher and take another scalp on their route to whoever their first real feud will be. The one problem with Forgotten Sons is that their most interesting member is usually relegated to the outside during these tag matches.
Dakota Kai: Ultimate Underdog
Shayna Baszler defeats Dakota Kai via Kirifuda Clutch
Dakota Kai may just be the greatest underdog in NXT. She is always easy to root for, genuinely likeable and offers an interesting move-set of kicks and strikes that wow audiences. This match once again proved that as the audience tried to will her on in the fight against Baszler and her henchwomen at ringside. She started off fast but was soon brought down as Baszler threw her into a ring post. She then ground down Dakota Kai with submissions and joint manipulation. Dakota Kai would make several comebacks once with a Scorpion Kick and one with the Face Wash Combo. Her fire was extinguished though once Baszler locked on the Kirifuda Clutch. Kai tapped and the Horsewomen tried to attack her after the match. Io Shirai came out to make the save and the two ended up fending off Baszler, Shafir and Duke.
This is another step in the direction of faction warfare for the NXT women’s division. It probably won’t be long until we see the team of Shirai, Sane and Kai take on the three Horsewomen of MMA on NXT TV.
Absolution in the Cage
Love him or hate him, Tomasso Ciampa knows how to mess with people. He came out to once again proclaim himself the best and gloat over winning at Takeover. He was going to carry on bragging when Aleister Black comes out to invoke his rematch clause at the next Takeover. Black talks about absolving the sins of Johnny Gargano and how he is now going for the original sin himself, Ciampa. All this talk brings out Gargano who is still not happy about losing at Takeover. He wants another shot at Black and Ciampa is happy to sit on the side lines and provoke this. In the end he talks the pair into considering a cage match to solve their issues. Gargano seems happy with the idea and ducks a Black Mass kick. Ciampa tries to gloat from the apron but Black gives him a Black Mass for his trouble. So the takeaway here, we are probably going to get a cage match between Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black. How awesome does that sound?
Well there you have it, everything worth talking about from the three big shows this week. I should also mention that our next NXT Tag Title feud will probably be between Heavy Machinery and the Undisputed Era (I can hear Robert McCauley cheering from here) as it was referenced in a video package about Heavy Machinery and addressed later in the show by the Era themselves. That should be fun to look out for. As next week is the go home week for TLC, I do expect to see a lot of preparation for the PPV and some hopeful last-minute story progression. Smackdown has already announced a rematch for Charlotte and Asuka, which should be amazing, and a rap battle between the three warring tag teams. RAW will do whatever RAW will do. I give up trying to predict if it’ll be good or not. Please be better than this week’s.
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