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WWEekly: The Top Talking Points of RAW, Smackdown and NXT (9/3 – 9/5)

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WWE have had a lot to live up to this week. Maybe it seem unfair to say that but let’s be real here, All In happened and showed what three men with a vision and the means to put on a show can do. It’s hard not to see that as a labour of love but also a challenge to the biggest company in wrestling. They have had three shows to respond and it’s time to see how well they did. This is the top talking points of WWE’s three flagship shows.

Shielded From Nothing

Braun Strowman defeats Finn Balor via Powerslam

It wasn’t the best RAW for the Shield. They started RAW strong taking part in the typical pull apart brawl against Dolph, Drew and Braun. Braun and his new crew were in the ring running their mouths which brought out the Shield who made their traditional entrance through the crowd. The brawl ensued and the Shield came out looking strong. As the heels tried to retreat they were chased backstage. As they tried to brawl again, they were arrested by local police. They were dragged into a van and taken away.

The show would go on as normal until the main event. Braun was given Finn Balor as the main event and once again whenever you put those two in a ring, the match is amazing. It was another back and forth affair that saw Finn get his offense in but eventually succumb to the unstoppable force that is Braun Strowman. He would try to beatdown Finn after the match with his new stablemates but the attack is interrupted by an all too familiar sounding police siren. A police van backs up along the stage, driven by Roman Reigns. Ambrose and Rollins get out of the back and the trio menacingly make their way towards the stage. They are stopped in their tracks though when almost every heel on the roster and even some from other shows attack them. They are destroyed. Rollins is thrown against the police van, smashing one of the windows. Dean is kicked in by a massive group and Roman is brutalised by Braun with the steel steps. It ends with the Shield dragged together and left knocked out, surrounded by everyone that wanted to destroy them. It was a powerful scene.

Bellas Are Back

Bella Twins defeat Riott Squad via Rack Attack 2.0

So it was announced last week that the Bellas would be back in action this week. Their opponents were the Riott Squad and though the outcome was inevitable, the heels got the chance to shine. Liv Morgan deserves an award for how much she has improved and how impressive her heel work is. She got tormenting statements on both Bella twins and only ate a punch for one of them. The match itself was okay. Brie Bella is clearly suffering from a bit of ring rust and nearly spiked herself when her feet caught the ropes on a Suicide Dive. Nikki Bella definitely fared better and certainly was the more impressive performer showcasing her normal move-set and getting the finish with the Rack Attack 2.0. It wasn’t the smoothest match but it was a great way to introduce them back to the ring and get a win over the current semi-dominant heel group.

An Interesting (if unlikely) Team

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

This is one of the weirdest things I have seen on RAW. It seems to be a random pairing that saw Chad Gable look like the world’s greatest wrestler and Roode as Ascension fodder. Gable looked untouchable throughout the match, hitting suplexes and slams galore. He looked more dominant than ever. It was a great showing for the former American Alpha member but it was confusing to have Roode stand there on the sidelines. Gable has plenty of years left in him; Roode was a megastar in Impact and in NXT so why is he a smiling babyface in a new team. He could be doing so much better. Then again if this is some attempted effort to bolster a failing tag division then I can appreciate it. It’ll get both men on TV more and we’ll get to see more Gable.

Alexa Bliss Hometown Villain

Alexa Bliss defeats Natalya via Armbar

So Elias was trashing Ohio this week. He was doing his regular set when Alexa Bliss and her little gang came out. It started out like Trish’s segment last week, where the hometown star comes out to beat up Elias and defend their home. Alexa started like this but soon turned and started running down the crowd, mocking a chant and calling them all zombies. She would then praise Elias and try to get him to play. She claimed she wanted to walk with Elias, who was all too happy to oblige. However before he can play, we are interrupted by Ronda Rousey and Natalya coming out for a match.

The match itself didn’t last very long and was more an excuse to show off that Alexa Bliss can also pull off an Arm Bar making Natalya tap out and keeping the hold locked in for emphasis. It was another tactic to anger Rousey who came into the ring to try and attack Bliss. She tries to set up a Gutwrench Suplex but Alicia Fox would attack from behind. This would be a big mistake as she is once again rag-dolled by judo throws. She throws Fox out of the ring only to get Chop Blocked. Alexa takes her down, rolls her out and throws her against the ring steps. She rolls Rousey back into the ring and tries to attack further but Rousey fights back with some punches and Bliss flees. This is the first time Bliss has really looked like a threat to Rousey.

Tag Team Titles No Longer A Joke

Drew and Dolph defeat the B Team via Claymore/Zig Zag combo

Thank God for Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Thanks to them the RAW Tag Team division has credible champions once again. They tried to get a tag title match from Corbin but he pointed out that the Revival already had the spot. Next, the Revival are being interviewed ahead of their match, only to get blindsided by Drew and Dolph. They obliterate the Top Guys, throwing them against scaffolding and storage crates. The Revival are laid out and Dolph and Drew take over the competitor spot.

Dolph and Drew devastate the B Team. Every time the B Team would try to mount a comeback, it would be squashed. Curtis Axel came close when he was brought in as a hot tag against Ziggler. He hits some strikes, a neckbreaker and a Perfect-Plex but Drew breaks up the pin. He tries to roll up Dolph at another point but eats a Superkick, Dolph tags in Drew and they hit the finisher for the win. Dolph and Drew are new RAW tag champs and won in fairly dominant fashion. They should easily win the title rematch and then go on to feud with the Revival. Then we may finally have a more enjoyable tag title seen.

A Maverick Choice

Authors of Pain defeat Local Enhancement Talent via Super Collider

Second weirdest moment of RAW has to go to Drake Maverick, the 205 Live GM, who is the new manager of AOP. He dropped a short promo declaring who he was and how he planned to make the AOP RAW tag team champs. He kept it short and sweet; probably hoping everyone ignored how dumb the AOP vest looked on him. The match itself was incredibly short. It was a total squash match with neither jobber landing a single hit. They were dispatched with the Super Collider and the show went on.

Dana is Done

Sasha Banks and Bayley defeat Ember Moon and Dana Brooke via Roll Up

Titus Worldwide may be breaking apart. There is the mounting tension between Apollo and Titus and now Dana Brooke has left the group. After her respectable showing against Banks last week, she had a chance at redemption teaming with Ember Moon. She would get tagged in and bombarded with advice by both Titus and Apollo who couldn’t agree on the right advice to give. Dana gets distracted telling them both to shut up and let her fight. She goes for another backflip corner elbow but takes too much time. Sasha counters and rolls Dana up for the win. Dana is furious and shouts I’m done at both Titus and Apollo before storming to the back. If this is what Titus Worldwide does for those in the group, she has done the right thing leaving.

Quitting Didn’t Last

This was slightly disappointing. Last week KO had one of the most dramatic moments of the week by quitting in the middle of the ring. This week he came back to lay out Bobby Lashley. Lashley was in the ring with Jinder Mahal for a meditation after Baron Corbin tells him he has anger issues. Bobby seems to be willing to give it a go. He quite obviously mocks the session but does sit and follow Jinder’s steps. He freaks Sunil Singh at one point before ushering him to sit back down and continue meditating. Bobby is at his most distracted when he is attacked from behind by KO. He is destroyed by KO and eats an Apron Powerbomb. The whole time this is going on KO looks conflicted and angry. Whilst the obvious conclusion is to say KO is gonna feud with Lashley, which could be interesting, let’s consider another option. KO is despondent, lost and unhappy so what if, for the next few weeks, he randomly attacks RAW superstars. He pops up at random intervals and just lays people out as a way to fix his ego after taking so many losses. It may not be fulfilling but it’s better than him quitting one week only to put him in a feud the next week.

The Miz and Bryan Chronicles Continue

Daniel Bryan defeats Andrade Cein Almas via Flying Knee

So this story spanned the whole episode of Smackdown. We start by seeing footage of the Miz and Maryse calling out Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella before the show begins from the middle of an empty arena. Obviously there is no response as no one but the Miz, Maryse and the camera crew were in the arena. They take this as a sign of weakness from Bryan and Bella and mock them. Bryan and Bella use this as a chance to mock them for being cowardly and uses this promo as a chance to rebuff the attack from behind last week. The Miz and Maryse appear on the titantron to announce they aren’t in the building anymore, they have gone for dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant. This promo came off the back of another amazing Daniel Bryan and Andrade Almas match. This time we got a full match that saw Bryan avenge the attack that happened last week. Once again this was a brilliant match and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Brie got a bit of revenge on Zelina Vega too by hitting her with a brutal looking knee against the ropes.

R-Truth Defeats The Miz via Roll Up

R-Truth was in the main event of Smackdown; just let that sink in for a second. So the reveals for the Mixed Match Challenge 2 were revealed with Carmella being paired up with R-Truth. Truth is looking for Carmella once again to get his title shot and mistakes Maryse for the Princess of Stratton Island. This causes Truth to be put in the main event against the Miz, flanked by Carmella. This was a lot of fun. Truth can still go to a degree and Miz will always put on a good match with anyone. The crux of the match came when Truth was about to eat the Skull Crushing Finale when Bryan’s music hits and Bryan and Brie come out. Miz is distracted and rolled up by Truth. Truth takes his victory and runs. Bryan and Brie attack Miz and Maryse before Almas and Vega try to make a save only to get attacked themselves. They end up getting locked in stereo Yes Locks as Miz and Maryse look on in horror.

A War of Words

Seriously this heel turn was the best things to happen to Becky Lynch. She has got to bring to the spotlight all the talents fans know she has. Her promo skills are off the charts and the intensity levels are overflowing. She has a natural badass aura and feels like a predator hunting prey. This week saw the two in a side by side interview. Charlotte would start off by tearing into Becky for attacking her from behind to make a point when she could have just asked. Becky rebuffed this with a screw you and a sarcastic your majesty. Becky once again stated how fed up she was. The crowd is still firmly behind Becky which should be a problem but it’s kind of justified. Becky just feels like someone who has had enough and has snapped. Becky is vicious and sarcastic and deserves the title for how well she has pulled this new attitude off.

Naomi Finds a Friend

Naomi defeats Peyton Royce via Roll Up

So this was set-up for a match at the Super Show Down. The IIconics now have two wins over Naomi and she wanted payback. She was once again in a match with Peyton Royce which once again tried to turn into a numbers game. Naomi overcame this and won in extra quick fashion with a Roll Up. The IIconics didn’t take this well and started attacking Naomi. Cue Asuka’s music and the Empress of Tomorrow coming to the rescue. She kicks the hell out of Kay and Royce before checking on Naomi’s condition. It’s a surprising turn of events but Asuka making a return to WWE TV is immediately a positive and giving her a strong showing may help in rebuilding her after the Carmellsworth feud.

Joe gets a Beating

When Daddy comments aren’t enough, have AJ get mad and beat down Joe. He tried to give another Wendy promo to fire up Styles. AJ did come to the ring and started on the receiving end of the beat down before turning the tables and kicking Joe around the ring. Things nearly took a trip off the deep end as a conflicted AJ debated using a chair on Joe. He would decide against it and carrying on using strikes. They get to the ramp and AJ is held back by refs with Paige begging AJ not to give into his anger. This was simple but effective and it’s nice to see Styles get a bit of payback on Joe for the repeated attacks on his family.

Rusev Day Triumph

Rusev Day defeat Sanity and The Usos via Machka Kick

So Aiden English has been redeemed hasn’t he? The Drama King now seems pivotal in Rusev succeeding once again. He has made the save on two separate occasions now. He was the reason that Rusev was able to win as Eric Young tried to use a dirty pin on Rusev for the win only for English to break it up. He was not allowing Sanity to cheat and effectively distracted Eric Young. Young would argue with English before eating a Machka Kick and a pinfall. Rusev day get to be in the contendership scene and we got another excellent multi-team match. Much like last week’s triple threat, it was worth watching and showcased how strong the Smackdown tag division is. If they win over the Bar next week, there is a serious case that Rusev Day may just get those Tag Titles. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Finest KO’d

Kassius Ohno defeats Kona Reeves via Rolling Elbow

Kassius Ohno is one of the best guys in NXT. He is seen as the gatekeeper and though his win/loss record is a bit flimsy, the respect is still there. Well at least it was, Ohno himself doesn’t seem to thik so. He made short work of Kona Reeves after Reeves would try and taunt him. Ohno took offense with this and beat down Reeves with some extremely stiff strikes. In the end Reeves would attempt to go for the Hawaiian Drop only to have it countered into a Rolling Elbow that borderline knocked Reeves out. He drops a promo after declaring his tiredness of being overlooked, of being victim to the newest or the freshest and vowing to knock whoever is ahead of him in the title scene to the back of the line.

Forgotten Sons Forgotten No More

Forgotten Sons defeat Street Profits via Knee Drop Reverse DDT

So this was an odd surprise. I had no idea these guys were a tag team but apparently they are a common sight on the house show scene. The Forgotten Sons have a distinctive style and a decent entrance song. This match saw Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake teaming against the Street Profits. They had control over Montez Ford for a lot of the match, grinding him down with submissions and double team moves. Angelo Dawkins got the hot tag and took over the match annihilating both members of Forgotten Sons. The finish saw the Mighty interject to steal the Street Profits cup, distracting Ford so he could be attacked outside and eat a double team finish for the pin. Forgotten Sons get a decent showing but they were basically used to forward an already existing feud. How long before they are forgotten again?

Also thank you Wesley Blake for the name of this segment.

Ahoy There Champion

Kairi Sane defeats Trish Adora via Insane Elbow

Kairi Sane has one of the best champion entrances ever. She retrieves the belt from a treasure chest and showers fake gold on the crowd. It’s a bit corny but so much fun to watch. She was in action for the first time since she won the belt at Takeover. She had a one-sided match against a newly debuting Trish Adora. Adora would try to use her size and power advantage against Sane but would fall victim to speed and strikes as Sane cut off any offense attempt. She would be hit by a backfist, Sliding D and Insane Elbow for the three count.

The match itself was fine but it was what came afterwards that really made things interesting. Shayna Baszler would come to the ramp and originally just seemed to want to trash talk before entering the ring to throw hands. She looked to be getting the better of Sane until Sane showed her serious face and basically knocked Baszler out of the ring with an Interceptor. It would appear, at least for the moment that Sane has Baszler’s number. There will be a rematch but who knows who will be the dominate force going into it.

Champions Want to Fight

So there were two smaller segments that had big implications on NXT. The first is that Ricochet and Pete Dunne are going to have a champion vs champion match which from the sounds of things means we’re going to see one of them hold two belts. There is nothing bad about this, both men are excellent competitors and both would make excellent dual title holders.

The other was a video package from Ciampa revealing he hasn’t been on NXT TV because he has no number one contender to fight. He once again bigged himself up as the real last man standing and only person capable of carrying the belt. This does raise the big question as to who can take the belt from Ciampa. He has no direct challenger as Black is injured and Gargano is out of the running. It’ll be intriguing to see who takes on Ciampa’s challenge and becomes number one contender.

Another Dream Match

Velveteen Dream defeats Johnny Gargano via Dream Valley Driver

Wow. Just wow. This was a PPV calibre match on NXT TV. Dream and Johnny have some amazing chemistry together and the whole dynamic of this match had fans unsure who to cheer for. Dream managed to outwrestle Gargano in the opening stretch but was floored by a forearm for trying to taunt. Gargano was not wrestling in his usual style; he was using more strikes and outside brawling. He would eventually leak in his regular moves but often drifted into a very alien yet familiar style. He was also very conflicted as he was fighting as he would often do rash and heelish things. The match was very unpredictable as both men would take the upper hand.

Gargano’s injured knee came into place as he tried to hit a Sunset Flip bomb but tweaked his knee on landing, giving Dream an opening. Like a shark sensing blood in the water, he threw Gargano into the steps and targeted the knee with strikes and holds. Gargano would lose his temper multiple times with either trash talking from Dream or the match not going his way. This temper would cost him the match as Dream taunted Gargano from the mat and daring “Johnny Failure” to hit him with a running knee. Gargano would try to oblige but get trapped into a Fireman’s Carry then a Dream Valley Driver for a pin. Dream scarpers with a victory and the psychological victory proving he is a much better wrestler since they last met. Gargano is left conflicted and remorseful, still struggling with the darker side festering in him. He finishes the show by walking out of Full Sail muttering, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

In Conclusion

It’s been a mixed week for WWE. RAW was confusing to watch as although it had a lot of good parts and the Shield beatdown at the end was pure gold, there was so much that was either annoying or confusing. The writers of RAW seem lost at the moment as they try to throw things together as a means of getting them on TV. The return of the Undertaker was amazing and I will not deny that promo didn’t give me chills. Shawn Michaels was on fire and the Undertaker was as menacing as ever. Smackdown was fine but there was nothing truly plot progressing. We got reminders of the ongoing feuds and some great matches but nothing really went anywhere. NXT as always makes me bias as it was an excellent and fulfilling show. The main event was amazing and there barely seemed to be a wasted moment. In a week shadowed by the aftermath of All In, it’s nice to see WWE still trying.

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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