It’s Rumble follow-up week and we got to see the fallout from the PPV and the next steps for the company heading forward. We got both Rumble winner’s picks for Mania and we got the debut of a new title. It’s been a good week for WWE so let’s break down the good, the bad and the weird moments from WWE’s flagship shows.
RAW started and ended with the same thing, Seth Rollin’s choice of opponent for Wrestlemania. He had a choice between Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar to battle on the biggest show of the year. His incredibly emotional opening promo led to HHH coming out to remind him of his deadline and offering his support for Seth. Dean would come out and try to steal the spotlight and set up a match between the two after levelling some insults at HHH.
After that match, it wouldn’t be until the end of the show we would find out that choice. The statement was made in brutal fashion. Brock made an appearance accompanied by Paul Heyman who flat-out told Seth to go for Bryan as Brock would kill him. Seth took this as an insult and goes after Brock but after being knocked down eats a devastating five F-5’s. Seth isn’t giving up though and asks Brock if that’s all he’s got. Brock obliges the masochist and hits a final F-5 to silence Rollins. It’s safe to say we know who Seth is facing now.
Seth Rollins defeats Dean Ambrose via Curb Stomp
Dean got the match he wanted and for the most part it didn’t go the way he wanted. He started strong, throwing in some trash talk and throwing Seth around. Unfortunately it started to spiral out of control as he was hit by Suicide Dives and other moves before resulting in an incredibly comic selling of the Stomp.
Ambrose has revealed he is quitting WWE once his contract expires so it was no surprise to see a lack of energy in the ring from him. He has been marred by bad booking since turning heel and he is finally on his way out after all the “hokey shit.” To make matters worse he was going to drop a heartfelt promo but he couldn’t even get a word out as Nia Jax interrupts and hits him from behind as he leaves the ring. Either way this will be remembered as the week we saw Dean hit the bottom as he lost and gets sucker punched on his way out of the ring without fighting back despite the fact Nia seems game to mix it up with the lads.
The First Teams in the Chamber
Nia Jax & Tamina defeat Mickie James & Alexa Bliss via Samoan Drop
The Riott Squad defeat Natalya & Dana Brooke via Roll Up
Now that we’re on the road to Elimination Chamber, it’s time to set up that Women’s tag title chamber match. RAW was having matches to set up the three teams from the red brand that would represent them. The first team is Nia Jax & Tamina, who used their size and strength and advantage to dominate the smaller team of Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. This was shown fully by Nia executing a double Samoan Drop to finish their match.
The second team is the Riott Squad as they were able to take advantage of the lack of a bond between Natalya and Dana Brooke. Ember Moon was meant to be her partner but she has unfortunately been injured and requires surgery. Brooke didn’t actually look too bad during this match as she got in a lot of offence and tried to prove her worth after months of questionable booking. In the end she tried to stop Ruby Riott ruining a Sharpshooter hold only to be knocked into Natalya by Logan resulting in her partner getting rolled up. Once again the bond is the reason the Riott Squad has claimed a win. Well that and the numbers advantage.
Corbin’s Spree Continues
Baron Corbin defeats Kurt Angle via Deep Six
Who loves seeing Corbin beat people? WWE creative apparently as this is yet another win for the former GM of RAW. This was another match where Corbin beats up a legend and old foe to feel better. Now Angle did get to put some offence in this time and did manage to hit an Olympic Slam and got Corbin trapped in the Ankle Lock but it was not enough to put Corbin down. In the end Angle is put down with a Deep Six and when the crowd jeers Corbin on his way up the ramp, he comes back to the ring and hits Angle with an End of Days. It was another Corbin match that saw him win but that’s about it. Angle seems happy to put him over and I’m happy to see Angle on my screen.
Finn’s Next Challenge
After being destroyed by Brock the night before, Finn was in the ring talking about the match and what’s next when he is interrupted by the All Mighty Bobby Lashley and his athletic mouthpiece Lio Rush. Lio commends Balor’s performance but then also mocks his chances at lasting against Lashley. Finn doesn’t sit well with these insults and instead fires back with a barb at Bobby Lashley’s Royal Rumble time. This sets off Lashley who destroys Finn with three Spine Busters and leaves him broken again. We have our next IC Title feud set up where Finn is hopefully going to get another belt to add to his resume. Plus the match quality should be off the charts as Balor and Bobby should be able to put on a clinic.
The Losing Streak Continues
The Revival defeat Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins via Shatter Machine
After making a show of their grand reunion last week, the former Edge Heads were back together and were facing off against the men responsible for their reunion. The Revival were looking to get back in to title contention (despite the title matches making them look like a joke.) The match was short and sweet with both Zack and Curt getting to look strong for a while but they still fell short to the better oiled team as they hit a Shatter Machine of Hawkins. The Revival are one step closer to being title contenders but something tells me this feud is far from over and it will eventually see Hawkins break that streak of his.
Mojo, are you Feeling Okay?
This was an odd little segment. The camera cut backstage to Mojo Rawley shouting at himself in a mirror. He was blaming himself for not being successful, not being in title pictures and for people not knowing who he really is. He was bigging himself up but still berating himself for not getting the job done. There was not a lot to talk about but as promos go, this was pretty good. If this means we get a seriously revamped heel Mojo then I’m all for it. If he can make it work then he deserves the chance to show off.
A Reunion Ruined
Elias is a heel again. After he broke a guitar over Jarrett in the Rumble the night before, he took to the ring in full heel mode, ready to sing a song to himself. Like always though, Elias was interrupted. This time it was by Jeff himself who instantly calls him Slap Nuts and popped the crowd hard.
Jarrett spits some barbs and then brings out Road Dogg. Jarrett and the Roadie duet together and try to get Renee involved but she doesn’t know the words, which Corey finds hilarious. They get to the ring, Road Dogg instantly eats a guitar shot to the back. Jarrett gets into the ring and mixes it up with Elias for a bit but also eats a guitar shot to the back for his troubles. I never thought I’d be so happy to see Jeff Jarrett back in the WWE but this was hilarious. He is a natural foil to Elias and the fact he has been used a tool to turn Elias makes it even better. Plus the guitar is such an underutilised weapon in sports entertainment.
Two on Braun
Braun Strowman defeats Drew McIntyre via DQ
It seems that Braun and Corbin aren’t finished with each other. After a really good match between Braun and Drew that saw Drew working over Braun’s knee we got Baron interference. He came out to save Drew from some ring step revenge at the hands of Braun. Baron attacks Braun with a chair but after a few shots Braun punches it out of Corbin’s hand. He punishes Corbin for his interference by ramming him around ringside and smashing his head against the steps. Drew makes the save with a Claymore and the two finish with a Double team Chokeslam onto the steps. Braun still has a fight against this dastardly duo that should hopefully lead somewhere.
Open Challenge Leads to WrestleMania
Ronda Rousey defeats Bayley via Arm Bar
Ronda Rousey was on a post PPV show so that could only mean one thing, open challenge. She is booed relentlessly by the crowd and often interrupted as she tries to speak. This leads to Bayley coming out and accepting the challenge. The two have a match that seems kind of messed up with miscommunication and some awkward spots. Bayley loses after getting caught in the Arm Bar and everyone thinks that is that. Cue Lynch’s music and the Man limps to the ring to confront Rousey. She lays the verbal Smackdown and tells Ronda she will be challenging her at WrestleMania. She fires up Ronda who threatens to kill her in the ring. Rousey spits all the fire at her whilst Becky just stands there and smirks at her. This was an excellent back and forth between the duo and the confirmation of the match for WrestleMania makes everyone happy.
A Queen Unforgotten
Smackdown opened with another exchange between Becky and Charlotte. Charlotte was trying to take credit for Becky’s accomplishments whilst Becky was having none of it. The Queen tries to talk down to Becky in the ring but Becky doesn’t even verbally respond. Instead she hits her in the face and walks off. Charlotte doesn’t take this and starts a brawl between the two. She goes after the injured knee of Lynch and the two have to be pulled apart multiple times. Neither woman really has an advantage as they both get to trade blows. Becky eventually limps off and is later shown leaving the arena after refusing medical attention. She refuses to be on the shelf any longer and opts to fight through the pain.
What’s Up US Title?
R Truth defeats Shinsuke Nakamura via Roll Up
R Truth defeats Rusev via Roll Up
In a move absolutely no one saw coming, R Truth is your new US champion. He beat both Nakamura and Rusev in matches after being granted a title match because of Nia’s attack on him at the Rumble. He beat both men with a Roll Up with his victory over Nakamura being due to ref incompetence more than the actual move.
After beating Nakamura an oddly heel Rusev comes out to challenge the new champ to a match. He riles up R Truth and the two have a match that Rusev almost instantly loses. R Truth has made fools out of both men so they team up and beat down the new champ. This was weird as hell but I would not turn down a partnership between Nakamura and Rusev. It makes no sense but in this instance I’m willing to ignore logic. Especially since Gallows and Anderson challenged the two to a match backstage after admonishing them for the attack on Truth. Rusev isn’t thrilled at the concept but agrees to it.
History Makes Enemies
After weeks of trying to break up Naomi’s relationship, Mandy Rose decided to finally divulge the real reason she had been going after Naomi. This came after her and Sonya Deville revealed they’d be the first Smackdown team in the Women’s Tag Title Elimination chamber match. Anyway Mandy recalled a time where Naomi had embarrassed Rose on an episode of Tough Enough that saw her relationship of the time ended. This was her motive revenge and the reason she’s gone after Naomi’s relationship so fiercely.
Andrade Isn’t Done With You
Instead of taking part in a scheduled match this week, Andrade decided to just murder Rey instead. Rey is in ring ready to fight Samoa Joe when Zelina Vega takes to the stage to verbally berate Rey for being distracted by her. Ironically this is all a distraction so Andrade can batter Rey in the back and stomp him down. Rey tried to come back and has the 619 set up but Andrade reverses and flattens Rey with the Hammerlock DDT. It was a short segment that once again continues the rivalry between the two men with either man taking a loss. Rey is being made more of an underdog with each exchange they have.
Tag Team Turmoil
The Usos defeat The Bar, Heavy Machinery & The New Day via Uso Splash on Bar
So now that the Best Team in the World have the tag titles, they need some competition. To decide this there was a four corner elimination tag match between three stalwarts of Smackdown’s tag division and a new called up team. The first elimination saw Heavy Machinery eliminate the New Day with the Compacter. Second was Heavy Machinery eliminated with a Brogue Kick. This leaves the Usos and the Bar to fight it out. Both teams have an exchange but the Usos go over with a Splash to Sheamus. The Usos will no doubt be the first victims of the Best Team in the World but they won the opportunity in a fun match that was probably the standout match of this week’s episode.
Dad of the Year
Speaking of the Best Team in the World they held a celebration this week that amounted to Shane McMahon bringing Miz’s dad to the ring to talk about how proud he was of his son. Miz’s dad was probably the most over man on the show that night. It was a light, heartfelt moment that showed the team’s bond but it’s odd to think that Miz’s dad wouldn’t be proud of his son holding the WWE title all those years ago.
A New Eco Friendly Belt
The real highlight of the show came from Eric Rowan stood next to Daniel Bryan in an Alestorm shirt as Bryan revealed his new Eco Friendly WWE Heavyweight title made of hemp, naturally fallen Oak Wood and pebbles. It was a really good-looking belt actually. It fits Bryan’s character perfectly and he now has his eco clout to back up his message. Anyway his reveal brings out not one challenger but five challengers who all want a shot at that belt.
There is AJ, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton and Mustafa Ali in the ring all trying to make a claim as the next challenger. When Joe comes out he verbally destroys everyone, throwing insults and threats at everyone. Bryan is stood outside the ring watching the chaos and promising that none of them will get a shot at his title. HHH appears on the Titan-Tron to correct Bryan and gives us the men’s elimination Chamber Match. Bryan is shocked and the show ends.
Horsewomen Turned Into Glue
Sky Pirates (Sane & Shirai) defeat Marina Shafir & Jessamyn Duke via Insane Elbow
NXT started with an exciting tag match between the newly dubbed Skye Pirates and the Horsewomen of MMA. It was a basic but fun match that saw Io and Sane show up the Horsewomen until Shafir causes a distraction and both women start working over Io. She is beaten up with a variety of offence before making the hot tag that sees Sane basically destroy. She hits multiple strikes, an interceptor, a sliding D and then Io helps with an assisted Elbow Drop. Io dives to the outside and Sane finishes the match with the Insane Elbow. Io and Sane have amazing chemistry together and their shared style suits them perfectly. The Horsewomen are getting a lot better and the crowd are already railing against them.
Forgotten Until Ryker Interferes
Forgotten Sons defeat Street Profits via Inverted DDT/Foot Stomp Combo
The main event saw a grudge match between The Street Profits and The Forgotten Sons. The match quickly descends into a brawl that sees the Profits start out strong but Montez Ford is targeted quickly and worked over. He is victim to double team moves and struggles through until making a hot tag to a fired up Angelo Dawkins. Angelo cleans house and is setting up for a finish when the 360 Stinger Splash is blocked. The Profits stay on top with Ford hitting what was probably the world’s highest Tope Con Hilo until Ford is Low Bridged and attacked by Ryker that stirs the ire of Dawkins. The two look set to brawl when Blake hits a Suicide Dive and throws Dawkins back into the ring for the double team finisher. The sons get the win with the assistance of their third man. It’s a shame we don’t see Ryker fight more often as he is probably the most interesting and intimidating man in the group. This will not be the last of this feud as Profits will have to get a win eventually.
So overall it’s been a mostly good week of TV that has been marred by constant barrages of bad news. We have heard of two releases, those being Hideo Itami and Dean Ambrose that paints a bad picture for the company. The TV product was strong though as all three shows were fun for what they were. It appears to be full steam ahead towards Elimination Chamber and Mania. This should keep things interesting and moving forward instead of dragging the product back into boring territory.