What a mixed week for WWE. Now most weeks are a mix of good and bad but never has that been quite as clear cut as this one. There were some great moments and surprises mixed in with a heavy dose of monotony and predictability. Bands got back together and people finally snapped, let’s see who and what dominated WWE this week.
The Shield Reunion Begins
Elias defeats Dean Ambrose via Drift Away
Roman’s back so I guess it was only a matter of time before we saw the Shield reunion teased. Most would have predicted this was at a PPV but instead we got it here. The show started with another enjoyable Roman promo, he was being his natural himself and talking about taking back his yard. However Seth will be the man standing in the way of reclaiming his yard. The two have a minor confrontation but Roman is here to compliment Seth on holding down the fort and wants to put the band back together. Seth disagrees citing his problems with Dean since Roman had to leave for treatment. Roman convinces Seth to join him and the two are about to bring Dean out. Dean’s at the ramp and he is laid out by Elias with a guitar.
Later in the show Elias and Dean have another match and once again Dean loses but manages to put up a fair fight. His departure plans have been doubted since Roman has returned but he is still eating losses. Anyway he loses the match and is joined again by Roman and Seth. He declines the offer and walks off into the crowd. Baron Corbin and Co come out and rundown Seth and Roman, teasing them with a potential match. Instead they attack and Dean saves the day laying into everyone and helping Seth and Roman to clear the ring. He joins in for the Shield pose after milking the suspense for all it’s worth. The Shield is back again and it will probably be a six man tag match at Fastlane to get Roman back into the swing of things.
Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley defeat Finn Balor, Braun Strowman & Kurt Angle via Spear on Balor
Repetition is annoying in pro-wrestling. Some feuds write themselves and repeat matches aren’t a problem but this magic is rarely achieved. Instead you are left with the same combinations of wrestlers in the same type of matches until a feud can run its course. This was like that only we actually got a fun match out of it. This was chaotic as hell towards the end. Lio Rush ruined the finish for the face team and ended up being chased by Finn. Rush leads him into a Lashley Spinebuster into the ring post and leaves him down. Braun tries to take out Lashley but runs himself and Rush into the barricade taking himself out of the match. The heels capitalise on this and finish Finn off for the win. After the match they wipe out Angle and Finn using the ring steps. Angle is rammed headfirst into the steps and Finn is slammed onto them. The heels once again stand tall despite the faces almost having the match won. Was it original, no, but it was damn sure entertaining.
After the surprise return and devastating attack on Ric Flair by Batista, HHH was pissed. Batista hadn’t showed up for RAW so Hunter decided to throw an impassioned promo Batista’s way to lay down the challenge. This was a Kayfabe breaking promo addressing Dave personally and challenging him to a fight anywhere at any time. He threw away characters and even mentioned Ric Flair’s real name. It was passionate and it did its job in firing up tensions towards the impending HHH/Batista Mania match.
For some reason a large part of the RAW Tag Team scene likes pissing off Otis Dozervic. Heavy Machinery decided to destroy everyone who had mocked them by setting on a gauntlet match. They beat the B Team with the Compactor, then smashed the Ascension with a Vader Bomb and finally finished off Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder with a Pop up Powerslam and the Caterpillar. Heavy Machinery just wiped out three tag teams with relative ease, they must be at least partial contenders for those RAW tag titles now.
Tamina Gets a Win?!
Tamina defeats Sasha Banks via Superkick
So this was a surprise. Tamina got a singles win against Sasha Banks. I can’t say it’s off of her own hard work but hey a win is a win. This match proves that you should never take your eyes off your opponent or bad things happen. Nia interfered in the match to prevent a Bank Statement and ended up scrapping with Bayley. When Sasha took out Nia with a Meteora, Tamina was there to take advantage and threw her back into the ring for a Superkick. It wasn’t the most compelling match but it was enjoyable enough.
Tag Team Pointlessness
The Revival defeat Aleister Black & Ricochet via DQ
What was the point of this exactly? The NXT team had earned a title shot against the RAW Tag Champions and they were in full on game mode going into the match. Unfortunately former champs Roode & Gable appeared at the ramp and the match result was basically given away. The former champs interfered and cost the NXT team the match. They got in the face of the NXT team after attacking the Revival. A brawl ensues, the NXT team clear the ring and pose off looking across at the team that just cost them the belts. This is an intriguing moment as it appears that Roode & Gable have turned heel after going missing for several weeks. Maybe losing their belts has caused them to snap?
On Smackdown they fought the Bar and again and won. The pair can’t celebrate as they are ambushed by Rusev and Nakamura. They lay into Ricochet and Black but are stopped by the Hardyz who come to the rescue. It was a mad sight that could set up a nice partnership between the two teams.
It was only a matter of time before Ronda turned to the dark side. Her popularity has been overtaken by Becky and she is now scorned by the fans. Since Becky had been reinstated she had been brought back in to sign a hold harmless agreement ahead of a Fastlane match. That match was against Charlotte for the newly vacated RAW Women’s title. Instead Ronda came out, was given her title back and the match would instead determine the fate of Becky in the Mania title match. They gave Ronda a very manic promo before she dropped Becky and tried her best to kill her. This brutalisation was watched by Charlotte, who could only look on in glee as her opponent was destroyed by a furious Ronda.
Kevin Owens defeats Rowan via DQ
If there is anything the WWE audience hates more than Daniel Bryan being a pretentious dick in recent years then I haven’t seen it. He was in this mode as he ran down his upcoming opponent, Kevin Owens. Rather than dig into his environmental sins, he went after his work ethic. Owens came out and retorted Bryan’s remarks by relating to the audience and revelling in his victory over Bryan last week. The promo leads to a match between Owens and Bryan’s “7ft Lackey” Rowan. The match was nothing stellar but Bryan’s guest commentary was hilarious and it resulted in the two fighting. Bryan gets the match thrown out and Bryan and Rowan gang up on Owens. Since Bryan spouted that Owens had no friends it was inevitable that someone would make the save. That someone was Mustafa Ali. He tried to take it to the deadly Earth Warriors but was beaten down by a surprise Knee Plus. Bryan looks like he’s about to lay into Ali with some Danielson stomps but Owens returns the favour by hitting Bryan with a Stunner.
You Can’t See the US Title R Truth
Samoa Joe defeats R Truth, Rey Mysterio & Andrade via Uranage on Andrade
R Truth probably regrets following the footsteps of his hero John Cena. His open challenge brought out three opponents and Truth decided to fight them all. Once again we got some chaotic fun where everyone mixed it up with everyone and we even saw Truth get the better of Samoa Joe. Unfortunately for Truth he wasn’t even the one to eat the loss, he was taken out by Zelina Vega. Vega was then taken out by Carmella and the match broke down. Rey hit Andrade with a 619 and Frog Splash. He went for the pin but Joe crushed both men with a Back Senton and targeted Andrade with an Uranage to finish the match. Joe is your new US champ and as fun as R Truth is, the belt needed someone with some intensity. Joe is a believable fighter and will hopefully bring the belt back up to a higher level.
Empress of Payback
Mandy Rose defeats Naomi via Bed of Roses
Despite their heated feud where Naomi literally wanted to tear Rose’s head off, this was a tepid match. It started tame and never really ramped up. There were some flashy spots but Rose got the win pretty easily and didn’t stick around to celebrate. She headed up the ramp with her partner Sonya Deville and the pair was then attacked from behind by Asuka. She is clearly upset about losing to Rose and wanted a bit of retribution ahead of their title match at Fastlane. It was a small segment but it’s always good to see the Empress of Tomorrow dish out a beat down.
Despite taking a horrific beating at the hands of Ronda Rousey the night before, Becky Lynch appeared on Smackdown at the request of Charlotte. She hobble to the ring, crutch in hand and ran down her Fastlane opponent. She stood there, suffering from injuries and ran down both Charlotte and Ronda as Charlotte just looked on. Instead of retorting Charlotte just went on the attack and tried to further injure Lynch ahead of their match. Unfortunately for Charlotte, Becky still had her crutch and used it to repel the attack. Becky latched onto Charlotte’s arm and locked in the Disarm-Her and refused to let go. It was a powerful image and shows that even though she’s wounded she’s still ready to fight.
Dusty Tag Tournament Begins
Ricochet & Aleister Black defeat Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel via Black Mass
NXT was in full on Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament as the show was dominated by four blistering tag matches. The first was between the rag tag team of Aleister Black and Ricochet taking on the European baddies Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel. If not for the main event this would have been the match of the night as both teams meshed well and never let the pace slow down. It started with Black in control but soon descended into hell for Black and hot tag territory for Ricochet. After the much-needed hot tag it became a back of forth war of power moves and devastating double teams. These included an aided Brainbuster and the Basement Dropkick combination. In the end it was a surprise Black Mass that won the match meaning Black and Ricochet are one step closer to tag team gold. There was no shame in defeat for the European Union as they gave their opponents hell.
Forgotten Sons defeat Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch via Reverse DDT/Double Stomp Combo
This match was more of a standard tag match as Lorcan was quickly picked apart by the Sons. They worked him over until we got into hot tag territory again and much like the previous match, the pace picked up and both teams got more desperate. Once again there was a mix of submissions, strikes and double team moves to carry the match to its finish and kept the tension rising. In the end the Forgotten Sons got the surprise win as Lorcan and Burch seemed odds on favourites to win the match. This was shorter than the previous match and suffered a few pacing problems but was still enjoyable enough.
It should also be noted after this match there was a tease of Matt Riddle vs the Velveteen Dream for the North American Title as the two had a standoff In front of the crowd.
Moustache Mountain defeat Street Profits via Burning Hammer/ Double Stomp Combo
The show plateaued here as this match felt exactly the same as the last match without the surprise finish. Both teams are excellent in the ring but this match added nothing different to the formula of the last one. Street Profits were back in attitude mode and they weren’t going to play nice. There was a lot of slow grinding down of Bate and Seven before the Big Strong Boys could come back and hits some rather vicious moves to enter back into the match. These included a vicious Dragon Suplex on the Apron and the eventual finish where it looked like Seven’s back gave out as he delivered it. I hope this was for storyline purposes and not Seven suffering a legit injury. Much like the last match it picked up towards the end but still suffered for being the third tag match of the night.
DIY defeat Undisputed Era via Meet Me in the Middle
An old alliance and old theme preceded the main event as Gargano and Ciampa revived the DIY brand and music. Once again we got a mix of standard tag match as the Era started to work over Gargano and chaos as the match broke down in the later stages. Both teams showed off a lot of old and new offense to push this match past the standard set by the opening contest. Fish and O’reilly were trying to break down Gargano and keep Ciampa out of the match. This wouldn’t work as Ciampa came in and came in hard, throwing stiff knee strikes and decimating both members. The eventual finish saw the old DIY finisher revived and another potential favourite team knocked out. This is another must watch match from the episode. It looks like the DIY fairy tale has begun again.
Overall it was a mixed week. There were some pleasant surprises and changes but also a lot of the same old same old. Some of the threads WWE are using are threads we’ve seen before and there’s not a lot of hype going into Fastlane bar the Becky Lynch match. It wasn’t all bad as Samoa Joe capturing the US Title was a clear highlight, as was some of the tag bouts featured on NXT. Hopefully the company can get back to full steam after Fastlane is out-of-the-way.
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