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WWEekly: The Top Talking Points of RAW, Smackdown and NXT (9/10 – 9/12)

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So, it’s go home week. We have Hell in a Cell coming up so it’s time to lay the last story beats before we go into the next PPV. Did WWE do a suitable job of getting audiences hyped for Reigns and Strowman entering the steel structure? Did we get more from Becky and Charlotte before they tear each other apart? And who won between The Bar and Rusev Day. Without further ado let’s answer these questions and more.

A Good Night For The Shield

Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler defeat the B Team via Claymore/Zig Zag

So this is a point in three acts. At the start of the show, Strowman, Drew and Dolph stood tall in the ring surrounded by everyone who had attacked the Shield last week. He referred to them as his Dogs of War and once again laid down the challenge to the Shield. Obviously since they were called out the Shield appeared and started to take it to their attackers from last week. Ambrose had a duffel bag with him that contained one of the oddest weapons seen yet, axe handles. Not the strike and not Jimmy Havoc’s favourite weapon, just literal axe handles. It was a surreal sight and they soon beat down everyone at ringside bar the big three in the ring. They are herded off and told by Corbin to leave the arena or be arrested again. They drop their weapons and leave without the aid of police.

Act two came after the tag team title rematch between Drew and Dolph and the B Team. This was slightly more competitive than their first match as Dolph took a bit of punishment before the heel team took over again and won with their patented finisher. They celebrated in the ring and were suddenly attacked by the Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. I and a lot of other people were hoping for the Revival to show up to demand their match but I’ll take it. Ambrose and Rollins are approached by Corbin who is going to have to have them arrested. The Shield mates are prepared though and had a sheriff ready to arrest Corbin for filing a false police report last week. They get a tag title match and we get comedy as the sheriff appears to have a relation to Dean Ambrose.

Act three saw Braun Strowman take to the ring at the main event slot and call out Roman Reigns. Since Ambrose and Rollins were running around backstage he wanted a piece of Reigns. It should be noted that Braun had been looking for Roman all show and basically tore the arena down trying. Anyway, Roman eventually comes out and the two brawl. The show ends with Roman Reigns hitting a Samoan Drop that drives Braun through the floor. it is a dramatic scene to end the go home and means Braun is going to strive to destroy Reigns come their Hell in a Cell match.

Nikki Bella bests the Riot

Nikki Bella defeats Ruby Riott via Rack Attack 2.0

So this was set up because the Riott Squad had vandalised the Bella’s locker room. Last week the Bellas defeated the Riott Squad in a tag match, this week Nikki Bella took it to the leader of the squad in a singles match. As expected there was interference from the Morgan and Logan but they were dispatched by Brie Bella. The ending saw Ruby Riott held in a Fireman’s Carry for an awkwardly long time before being hit by the Rack Attack 2.0. WWE are booking the Bellas strong at the moment leading me to believe they’re going to have a big match at Evolution.

A Night of Recaps

Why were there so many recaps on this week’s episode of RAW? There were recaps of stuff that happened last week, recaps of recaps and matches that just felt like recaps. It was a very same feeling show that dragged for a while. Why did we need another HHH promo laying out the same information, trying to build up the heat for the Super Show Down match rather than add anything new? It did nothing to build off Shaun Michael’s amazing promo against the Undertaker. HHH can make any promo sound convincing but here it just fell flat as it just felt pointless. On the go home show for Hell in a Cell, maybe just focus on the Hell in a Cell storylines and matches. This was just another call back to the nostalgia era. We even got a recap to a Smackdown feud on RAW. Who doesn’t love a recap heavy RAW?

Some Kind of Reasoning

So Kevin Owens finally laid out some of the reasoning behind leaving and coming back. He had meant to quit but GM Corbin had begged him to stay and offered him the one thing that he truly wanted, free reign. Kevin Owens is no longer held accountable for what he does to his opponents. He is free to do as much damage as he wants to anyone. It is a flimsy reason but it fills a gap for now and basically gives WWE free reign to do whatever they want with KO. If I get to see KO destroy a random opponent every week just because he can then I feel I can enjoy it. He has a semi meaningful TV role and it reminds audiences just how sadistic and brutal he can be. Especially since he now has his sights set on Bobby Lashley after what he did to Sami Zayn.

Rousey Takes a Beating

Ronda Rousey & Natalya defeat Alexa Bliss & Mickie James via Arm Bar

This was relatively clever for WWE. Since Rousey is borderline invincible in a WWE ring they have given her an Achilles heel to exploit in her match at Hell in a Cell. So last week Ronda Rousey took some abuse to her ribs. This week saw the heels carry on that pattern of attacking and we saw Rousey selling rib damage. She could strike as well and both Mickie James and Alexa Bliss would take every opportunity to attack that area. It wasn’t perfect but it gives Bliss a chance at winning Hell in a Cell even if none of us really believe it. There was also another spot where Alexa locked another Arm Bar on Natalya but this time it was reversed and the match continued. The finish saw Rousey tap out James with another brutal Arm Bar.

Bang Bang!

So this was unexpected. I can’t hate it though as Mick Foley is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time and it’s great to see him on TV again. He comes out and interrupts Elias and starts talking about Universal champions and Hell in a Cell and eventually drops the news that he will be the special guest referee for the Roman and Braun match. There seems to be no real logical reason for this placement but it is exciting none the less. It seems to be a case of Mick was in the area and wanted something to do. Considering the story thread is Stephanie wants Braun to win the belt, this is an odd choice of special ref. Mick is a good guy and the only real way to see that happen is if Foley turns on Roman. That would be cool and a very strong jab at the current order of things. If all three members of the Dogs of War hold belts then I would be insanely happy to watch.

This Team is Still Going

Chad Gable & Bobby Roode defeat The Ascension via Rolling German Suplex

So instead of being in the recap, I need to mention one thing about this. How unhappy does Bobby Roode look as part of this team? He seems to be hamming up the fake smile to comical levels now and the blasé attitude he is taking towards Gable upstaging him is very un Roode-like. He shouldn’t be just letting Gable make a mockery of him and I hope that this is addressed at some point. He either needs to make this team work in a more interesting capacity or have him turn on Gable and go into business for himself as a heel. The smile turns to scowls and we see a return to the Bobby Roode of NXT who knew his value and was glorious because of his arrogance, not because it was his entrance music.

Mr. Foley’s Favourite Champ

Finn Balor defeats Elias via Roll Up

So Mick was given the chance to play GM again and he was able to make a match. His choice was to put Elias against his favourite Universal Champion, Finn Balor. It was a fine match and Balor got a win with the roll up after Elias escaped a Coup de Grace. It wasn’t a match of any significance but it was enjoyable enough to watch. I’m glad is always on TV and is getting wins away from Baron Corbin. It isn’t the most compelling set of matches for Balor but it gives him a means to show up.

Hardy fights Nakamura… Again

Jeff Hardy defeats Shinsuke Nakamura via DQ

This had to be opponent fatigue. After Hardy opened the show with another enigmatic and weird promo, he had a match with Nakamura. This was the one demon he needed to exorcize and so the match was made. It was serviceable but it wasn’t very entertaining. Both men are probably sick of facing each other at this point. There were some entertaining spots as there always will be in a Jeff Hardy match and Nakamura will always be a joy to watch. The main point of the match though was to set up more Orton interference. As Hardy was set to beat Nakamura, Orton appears out of nowhere, pushes Hardy off the turnbuckle onto the ropes. They brawl and Hardy beats down Orton with a chair, reverses an RKO, hits Orton with a Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb to finish the segment.

Storytime with Joe and Styles

So, I loved this. The Styles promo was fine; it was in an empty arena so he couldn’t get angry. It was honest, genuine and it ticked the boxes it needed to. Styles is an excellent face and he always feels genuine when he speaks. Joe however was on another level. The storytime segment was so cheesy that it would have failed in the hands of a lesser promo guy. It featured Joe reading a bedtime story to Styles and family. It all rhymed and was an actual physical book. It had illustrations and ended with a picture of Joe with the title and Styles’ family. This feud could have sunk into embarrassing and crude territory but it has somehow been compelling and intense to watch. Though I feel Joe would give you nightmares if he ever read bedtimes stories in that tone.

Sonya Shines in Defeat

Charlotte defeats Sonya Deville via Figure 8

This had to be one of Sonya Deville’s best matches yet. Charlotte may have won but she was taken to some limits by Deville. She was continuously after the champ and would always be ready to take advantage of a situation. She may have lost and tapped out to the Figure Eight but she went down swinging. Unfortunately this effort was overshadowed by what happened after the match as Charlotte was leaving the ring she was attacked by a member of the audience. To no one’s surprise it was Becky Lynch in disguise who wants again went to attacking Charlotte before their match this weekend. It was simple but effective and really shows Becky is abandoning her sense of good to attack Charlotte.

Rusev Day at Hell in a Cell

Rusev Day defeat The Bar via Machka Kick

So this put a smile on my face. It may have surprised no one that they won but it still felt good. They also put on the match of the night. Smackdown’s tag team division seems to be the most consistent in terms of match quality and it always delivers. There was plenty of back and forth between the teams and we even got to see Aiden English fly as part of an assisted suicide Swanton. There was also a part where Aiden ate a Brogue Kick for Rusev allowing Rusev to hit the Machka Kick on Sheamus for the win. So we have New Day vs Rusev Day for the Smackdown Tag Titles at Hell in a Cell. This has me struggling over who to root for as both teams deserve the belts but as readers may know, I am biased in favour of Rusev.

So Carmella is a face now?

Andrade Cien Almas defeats R Truth via Roll Up

The Mixed Match challenge reveals led to at least one interesting story development. The announcement of Carmella teaming with R Truth has led her to start accompanying her to the ring and seems to have turned her face. It’s sudden and jarring but it doesn’t seem to be badly received by the crowd. It’s great to see R Truth being relevant again and even if he lost, he lost against a valuable opponent. He was in a match against Andrade Almas and much like every R Truth match now, he got a surprising amount of offense in. Truth was rolled up after the shared Tranquilo pose between Almas and Vega was interrupted by Carmella. Truth went for a roll up only to have it reversed into another roll up where Almas had a handful of jorts. This new dynamic is fun to watch and it’s going to be entertaining to watch them grow as a team. Though I am just waiting for the moment R Truth pins Carmella and finally gets his title shot.

Miz-ery Business

Brie Bella defeats Maryse via DQ

This was a bit of a mess. So the main event for Smackdown was Maryse vs Brie Bella. The match nearly didn’t start as Maryse tried to forfeit and Brie called her out for it. Miz retorts and they try to leave ringside. Maryse is dragged back to the ring and the match begins. There is some back and forth but it’s mainly set up for the finish. Brie locks in the Yes Lock but is close to the ropes and is dragged out of the ring by the Miz for the DQ. Bryan attacks Miz and the brawling goes around the ring. Both couples fight before the segment ends with Miz eating a punch to the face from Brie Bella.

They’re Back

Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch defeat Cezar Bonini & Adrian Jaoude via Impact DDT

Lorcan and Burch have to be one of the most charming teams in existence. There are no frills to them, they are all business. Stiff strikes, tandem offence and some submissions fill in a match where Burch and Lorcan mainly dominate the two semi jobbers. Bononi looks quite funny now as he is sporting a moustache and looks like he’s having a blast. The heel team got a little offense in but mainly ate offense from the returning team. The finish sees Lorcan hit a comeback with a double Blockbuster and it sets up for the double team DDT. It’ll be interesting to see if these guys go back into the title scene or are left in the division to stew for a bit longer whilst War Raiders pillage the title division.

The Ciampa Is Here

Ciampa has new entrance music and it’s really damn good. When he first came to the ring I assumed it would be to help set up the next title feud but this was more him just rubbing his victory in the audiences face and claiming his innocence in the attack on Aleister Black. He drops the promo and leaves the ring unhindered.

Later in the show, there is a video from Heavy Machinery in the parking lot of Full Sail. They are determined to assist Regal in the investigation of Black’s attack and are talking into a camera. Otis is talking about Ciampa when he just so happens to appear behind them. He gets in Otis’ face and the two look ready to square off when Regal interjects to drag Ciampa off to his office. A match is teased between the two even if no one necessarily asked for it. Heavy Machinery are comedy gold but I don’t know if I need Otis in the title scene.

Shayna Sends A Message

Shayna Baszler defeats Violet Payne via Kirifuda Clutch

This was a squash match with some added fury. Violet Payne was probably in pain for most of the match and never got the chance to dish out any of her own. Shayna was vicious, she hit Violet with ground and pound, locked in some arm based submissions, hit the arm breaker then locked in the Kirifuda clutch to tap out her opponent. She wouldn’t stop there though as she locked in the Clutch multiple times more as a means of sending a message to Kairi Sane. Shayna seemed more determined to hurt than ever and must be trying to rebuild her ego after Sane was able to go toe to toe with her last week. If this is the case I can see Shayna becoming even deadlier as we build to Takeover.

Lars Sullivan defeats Raul Mendoza via Freak Accident

So Lars Sullivan was given a match against the guy he beat down on his return, Raul Mendoza. Sullivan came out to his usual intimidating entrance and seemed overconfident going in. Mendoza seemed nervous but was able to use his speed to land some early offense, running circles around the big man and hitting some stiff kicks. This would soon be stopped as Sullivan throws him back into the ring from the apron and hits a series of Biel throws. He keeps beating down Mendoza and locks in a Neck Vice. The crowd brings back Mendoza and he mounts some more offense before being cut down and eating the Freak Accident for the three count. It was a simple match but perfect for reminding audiences of just how destructive Lars Sullivan is.

Belair can’t Stop Cross

Match goes to a double count out

This week’s NXT was main evented by Bianca Belair taking on Nikki Cross. It was a competitive affair with Nikki Cross using her crazy aura to take advantage early on and confuse Belair. She would give her the run around and hit some offense before Belair would turn to the power game and land some offense of her own. The match wasn’t given too much time but both women made the most of it. The finish saw Cross go for a Cross Body block but Belair would roll to the apron. Cross comes down from the turnbuckle and traps Belair in the ring canvas and hits some forearms. The two brawl on the outside with Cross locking in a Sleeper Hold. Bianca crashes the two into the steel ramp and the two are knocked out for the ten count. The two are unhappy with the result and brawl into the arena. Nikki Cross ends the segment by leaping onto a crowd of Belair and referees from the announce table. Everyone is wiped out and the show ends.

In Conclusion

It’s been a fairly mixed week for WWE. Since it’s go home week you’d expect the big shows to be pushing full steam ahead toward the PPV but it felt more like we were only running on half capacity. The over reliance on recaps and the lack of any meaningful story progression made RAW seem like the show wasn’t wholly worth watching. Smackdown wasn’t perfect but we got some excellent matches and a lot of content was packed into it’s two hours. NXT was NXT so you can already guess what I thought of that. There was progress on the CSI NXT case and matches teased for next week as well as a reminder that we get the insane champion vs champion match between Dunne and Ricochet. That being said let’s look forward to Hell in a Cell and hope it delivers.

John is a UK based wrestling obsessive who still wants to believe the Bullet Club is fine. He is always tearing the business apart and first realised wrestling was for him when he saw Mankind fall from the top of the cell at King of the Ring 1998.

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