It was a big week for WWE as they revealed the men and women who would be taking part in this year’s MITB ladder matches. This was the only real bit of news as the rest of RAW and Smackdown seemed mostly inconsequential. The shows were fairly easy to watch but felt safe and slightly dull. It wasn’t until NXT where the speed picked up and we got one of the most hotly anticipated debuts of an NXT acquisition in a while. Let’s get into it.
Your MITB Contestants
Braun Strowman & Ricochet defeat Drew McIntryre & Baron Corbin via Shooting Star Press
Finn Balor & Ali defeat Randy Orton & Andrade via 450 Splash
The big news of the week was the announcement of the MITB competitors for both brands and both matches. For the men’s match we had Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin and Ricochet for RAW. The four men all got into a promo war as they were announced and had a tag match that the face team won. For Smackdown they had Ali, Finn Balor, Randy Orton and Andrade. They also had a tag match that also saw the face team win. The Smackdown additions surprised me as they omitted any new arrivals like Lars Sullivan or Buddy Murphy or Aleister Black who could all use the signal boost of the match.
The women’s match will feature Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke, Natalya and Naomi for RAW. They all argued on A Moment of Bliss then Bliss had a shoe malfunction in a match with Naomi. Brooke is an interesting pick for the match as she has never really been given a chance in matches like this. She isn’t exactly known for quality work but she has been improving and could actually get to show off a bit if she makes it to MITB. Smackdown has Bayley, Carmella, Ember Moon and Mandy Rose. Bayley seems like the clear choice from the Smackdown selection as she is on a losing good matches streak. If she wins it’s a shot at redemption and can elevate her further. There were no real matches between the other picks as Ember and Carmella were revealed backstage and Sonya gave up the spot so Mandy Rose could win for Fire and Desire.
Bobby Lashley defeats Miz via Spear
If you’re ever losing to the Miz, just flash up a picture of his father on the screen. Or if that’s not possible get Shane to do it for you. This is what Lashley did to win his match against Miz this week. He ticked off the A Lister during Miz TV then when he was losing his match, Shane came out and basically handed him the win. After the match Miz was interviewed backstage where he demanded Shane in a cage match at MITB. Shane must have accepted as he referenced it on Smackdown the next night.
The Firefly Funhouse continues to be the best thing on RAW as Bray followed its debut with an equally creepy episode about painting. It also introduced another friend of the show, a very cobbled together rabbit puppet called, Rambling Rabbit. The rabbit wants to see the painting and it’s revealed to be the throwback to Bray’s house being burnt down. The noise irks Abby the Witch and Bray has to calm her down. He insinuates that he is a new man again and the “audience” cheers him on. Then the word of the day is sociopath. It was a weird little section but again is doing a great job of balancing the creepy and innocent act that he’s trying to pull with this new angle.
The Club Came Back to Nothing
The Usos defeat Gallows and Anderson via Splash
So Gallows and Anderson are on RAW now. Guess what though; they still can’t win a match apparently. The Usos were fresh off of laughing at the Revival helping each other as a good team should so you’d have thought they may have been too busy giggling to win the match. Instead they put the Club away with relative ease and got on with the show. It’s a shame how badly the Club have treated Gallows and Anderson in recent months. They had so much potential when they were first signed.
We finally had another contract signing that ended with someone going through the table. Seth and AJ made their Universal Title match official by putting each other down as much as possible. In the end words turn to fists and the two brawl. The segment ends with AJ putting Seth through the table with a Phenomenal Forearm. It was nothing new but it was fun to see AJ heel it up and a good old dose of contract chaos.
The big hook for Smackdown this week was Kevin Owens messing with Kofi Kingston after the turn last week. He mocked the injury to Xavier and Big E and ended up accepting Kofi’s challenge at the World Title. Xavier tried to get some payback but ended up eating a Super Kick and causing Owens to flee.
Later in the show, Owens carried on this mocking on the KO Show. Since he had no scheduled guests he instead talked to two wrestling figures. Those were Xavier and Big E, the latter being decorated with a leg cast. He further insulted both men and made jokes about them being injured. Kofi can’t take any more of this and comes out and destroys Owens in a brawl. Owens runs away when things get too much. This will be the big theme going forward as Money in the Bank is fast approaching and the title match is set.
Busy, Busy Becky
Becky Lynch defeats Bayley via Disarm-Her
The best match of the show probably goes to Becky and Bayley. The pair put on an excellent showcase of technical ability and aggression that ended with Bayley eating an unfortunate loss. Smackdown has already done a good job rebuilding Bayley and added an extra level of edge to her. She is slowly getting back over as a singles star and she currently looks the favourite to win MITB. She has already had two excellent matches against Smackdown’s best and should continue to have this chip on her shoulder.
The other thing Becky did this week was brawl with Lacey Evans. WWE have done an excellent job of building Lacey as a credible challenger despite anyone outside of NXT has only seen her wrestle two matches and do a whole lot of walking. It was a solid brawl and Becky really had to fight back against the bigger and stronger Evans.
Hardyz Way Out
So this sucked. The Hardy Boyz have just won the Smackdown Tag Titles but due to Jeff being injured, they’ve had to relinquish the titles. Jeff Hardy laid the blame on Lars Sullivan and produced a full on edited video showing all of the destruction Sullivan has caused. Sullivan must have heard his name as he came out and laid out everyone again. The Hardyz tried to lure Sullivan into a trap so R Truth could hit Sullivan with a chair. However the shot didn’t even faze the monster and a second attempt saw Sullivan punch the chair out of the arena. He destroyed everyone with Freak Accidents and ended the segment with another Sit Out Powerbomb. So far Sullivan looks unstoppable. It’s slightly surprising he wasn’t in MITB as he could have received a boost from mixing it up with Strowman.
B Team B Team No No
Roman Reigns defeats The B Team via Spear
This is only here because Shane McMahon seems to be building an army of jobbers and lesser stars to throw at people he doesn’t like. In this case he sent the B Team out to fight Roman and made Elias a special guest enforcer. The match was as dumb as you think it is and ended with Roman Reigns winning a super handicap match. It was nothing special and in fact is a match we’ve seen before.
Forgotten Sons defeat Lorcan, Burch & Humberto Carrillo via Double Reverse DDT/Double Stomp
NXT opened with the continuation of the Forgotten Sons vs everyone story. Ryker nearly killed Carrillo last week forcing Lorcan and Burch to make the save. It started fast and soon slowed down as Ryker obliterated Carillo and ground him down. Burch is the eventual hot tag and does his best to knock out all three of the Forgotten Sons. He is soon bested but Lorcan and Carrillo even the odds. Lorcan nearly knocks himself out with a Cactus Clothesline and Carrillo ends up finishing the job with a badly placed Suicide Dive. Burch is left in a three on one situation where he tries to fight out of it but can’t match the numbers. Carrillo tried to make a save but ended up being a part of a Triple Team finisher instead. This was an amazing opener in terms of energy and aggression whilst also making the Forgotten Sons look like total monsters.
Dijakovic and the American DREAM
Dominik Dijakovic defeats Mansoor via Feast Your Eyes
You see the name Mansoor and expect a squash match right? You’d be forgiven for thinking so considering Dijakovic won his last match with one move and Mansoor is still a new signee to the company. Instead we got a hyper competitive match that had Mansoor use his speed and creativity to overcome the size and strength deficiency he is suffering. He hits some unique kicks and strikes as Dijakovic tried to brutalise him with pure power and aggression. In the end Mansoor almost won with a step up kick off of Dijakovic’s knee but Dijakovic persevered and won with the Feast Your Eyes knee strike.
After the match he is serenaded by Velveteen Dream. Since Dijakovic has shown interest in the Dream’s title, he is the next victim of the Dream’s antics and mind games. Dream sings his own mocking version of the US National Anthem, replacing the words to mock his opponents of the past. It’s a very entertaining segment that followed a surprising match. it’s safe to say Dijakovic did not look impressed.
A Time Splitting Debut
KUSHIDA defeated Kassius Ohno via Hover Board Lock
Talk about a baptism by fire. KUSHIDA made his NXT debut by taking on the gatekeeper of the brand, Kassius Ohno. This was no squash match either as Ohno made KUSHIDA suffer as he worked over the Japanese superstar. Commentary and WWE have indulged the Back to the Future themed character KUSHIDA built overseas and let him keep his hybrid style of offense. Ohno spent a tonne of time on top, punishing KUSHI with strikes that bust him open, a massive Sit-Out Electric Chair Facebuster and plenty of technical holds. KUSHI hit back with technical ability of his own, hard-hitting, limb targeting strikes and a slew of high-flying offense for good measure. This match baby-faced the hell out of KUSHIDA by making him overcome, show off his fighting spirit and endearing him to the crowd by having him face someone the crowd despises (in Kayfabe.) it was an excellent debut and I can’t wait to see what NXT make of one of the best junior wrestlers on the planet.
So there you have it, the big news from WWE TV this week. There were some interesting moments and big reveals but it just didn’t feel that exciting a week. KUSHIDA’s debut and the MITB participants were the most important parts of the week but even they felt overshadowed by the news of Jon Moxley resurfacing. Hopefully we get a better week next week and that WWE give us some interesting build to MITB. If not we could be in for some more mediocre shows.
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