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WWEekly: Top Talking Points from RAW, Smackdown and NXT

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WWE has a lot to watch on a week by week basis. This is your guide to some of the top spots and talking points from the top three WWE shows every week. This week was a particularly strong one for programming so without further ado, let’s begin.

Money in the Bank Updates

There are two new additions to the Money in the Bank ladder match. Sasha Banks won the gauntlet match in RAW’s main event to secure the final spot in the women’s ladder match. She came out last and beat Ruby Riott with the Bank Statement to take her spot. She goes on to join Ember Moon, Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Lana, Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. It’s shaping up to be a very interesting match for the women this year.

The other was Samoa Joe, who punched his ticket for the men’s ladder match. He was put in an impromptu triple threat match after Big Cass was interjected into his match with Daniel Bryan. Samoa Joe won the bout by making Bryan pass out to the Coquina Clutch. With this new addition the line-up for the men’s ladder match is Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Rusev, The Miz, Kevin Owens and a mystery member of the New Day (that this writer hopes is Big E.) Again much like the women’s match, this is looking to be a very strong line-up with plenty of story threads.

Alongside the new additions we have some potential teased story threads as Finn and Braun have their current rivalry as Finn doesn’t like being called a little guy, Kevin Owens is just trying to stir up trouble amongst his MITB opponents and Naomi and Lana are entering a heated rivalry. There were also hints that the best friends of Becky and Charlotte could come to blows as it’s every woman for herself.

IC Interest

It looks like we have a new potential contender for the IC belt. Seth has been a fighting IC champion, taking on the likes of Kevin Owens, Mojo Rawley and now Jinder Mahal. During the course of his match with Jinder, Rollins was bombarded with interference from the Sunil Singh. This kept giving Jinder a chance to recover. Eventually after taking another chair shot from Jinder, Rollins snaps, unleashing a flurry of chair shots on Mahal and getting disqualified.

He would then celebrate by standing on the announcer’s table with chair in hand. This looked like a closing shot to the segment when a guitar obliterates Seth from behind. A vengeful Elias, who Seth interrupted just before fighting Jinder, had just taken out the IC champion. This could mean that we have a new number one contender as the seemingly more emotional driven Rollins will no doubt want revenge against Elias. Both men are supremely over, until Elias opens his mouth, so this could be a very smart choice for an IC feud.

So Nia is a Heel Now?

For the past couple of months, WWE have slowly been building Nia Jax up as a face. After beating her bully Alexa Bliss for the belt, it was possible for WWE to have her be a role model champion. That seems to be changing as this week on RAW she was bullying an enhancement target to send a message to Ronda Rousey. She asked her opponent to put her in an arm bar, then deadlifted her opponent and power bombed her to show it cannot be applied to someone of her strength. Jax then slowly destroyed her opponent with a Samoan drop, a leg drop and a running senton, all the while tormenting Rousey.

Eventually the two would get into it in the ring where Jax continued to trash talk Rousey, calling her cute and no selling the intimidating look of Rousey. This further added to the bully image Nia appears to have adopted as a means to deal with Rousey. It may also be WWE’s way of keeping Rousey as a face and ensuring she gets massive crowd reactions. Unfortunately, it also undermines the work WWE have done to endear Nia Jax to the crowd and the body positive image she was producing.

Comedy Sections Are Back

The B Team are an interesting tandem in WWE. The former Miztourage are slowly building momentum as comedic and almost loveable idiots who are squeaking out wins. This week, they decided they were due a title shot and after being rejected by Kurt Angle, set up a BBQ as a way to bribe the other teams in the division. Later in the show we have an actual BBQ where we see most of the tag teams in the division eating food and having a good time. Titus O Neil gets some quips in and Rhyno gets to enjoy eating sandwiches. All is going well until the B Team open their mouths and turn everyone against them. Before you know it, there’s food flying everywhere. It’s a comedy food fight. It’s fun enough to watch and it does get people on the show. The B Team did partially succeed though as they got an opportunity to become number one contenders.

The other segment mentioned here, isn’t so much a comedy segment but still falls under the non-wrestling segment banner. It is the dance off between Lana and Naomi on this week’s Smackdown. This was basically the same as the New Day, Uso rap battle only it is Uso couple take on Rusev day. It was an entertaining enough segment and both ladies could actually dance. It ended in a scrap so it did progress the story and wasn’t just used as a filler piece. It was a bit of fun and proved that these types of segments can succeed without feeling like attitude era throwbacks.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Shinsuke Nakamura is currently Smackdown’s best heel. The heel turn has energized his character and brought life to the feud with AJ Styles. Since it was revealed that his MITB match with Styles would be a last man standing match, Nakamura has started taunting people with numbers. He was obsessed with knocking out the perfect 10 Tye Dillinger for a 10 count. Again Nakamura is going all in on his current obsession of ruining AJ Styles, though he has transitioned to numbers and ten counts instead of low blows.

The NXT Contestant

NXT was packed this week. The show was packed with story highlights, new matches and two new number one contenders. The show started with Aleister Black coming out to question his next opponent for Takeover Chicago. Just as he starts the promo, he is interrupted by Lars Sullivan, who is standing tall after his victory over Ricochet and the Velveteen Dream last week. It is revealed that he will be Black’s opponent for Takeover. Black seems unfazed by Sullivan’s attempts at intimidation so Lars attacks. Black goes for the Black Mass and is caught and planted with the Freak Accident. Lars stands tall and we now know who Black will have to conquer next to keep his belt.

This is excellent, as a Lars Sullivan fan, it is good to see him getting another opportunity at a belt. He is a menacing character that will pair well as the towering challenge for Black at Chicago. It is unlikely that he’ll win but he is definitely going to put on a show. Black is good at acting the underdog despite being one of the top strikers in the company.

War Raiders Keep on Conquering

Despite still adjusting to the new name, the former War Machine are killing it in NXT. They had another dominant match this week, crushing another two enhancement talents in a long drawn out mauling. This was longer than their usual matches and showcased even more of their moves. They are also really over with the crowd too.

The talking point here though is, when are they going to enter a proper programme? They have been on NXT TV a few times now and as a former indie tag team, they should soon be capitalised on. They are a very unique tag team amongst the NXT division and should soon be on the receiving end of some kind of push.

It’s Happening Again

Gargano v Ciampa 2 has been confirmed. This is the best news to come out of the show in terms of match standard. The announcement was made during EC3 vs Fabian Aichner, when Gargano stormed through the crowd, contract in hand, and made his way to the announcer’s desk. EC3 and Aichner were both stood on the outside flabbergasted as Gargano stormed past, stole a headset and announced that he would be fighting Ciampa in a street fight at Chicago. There may be some repercussions to Gargano’s actions as EC3 looked incredibly annoyed that his moment had been interrupted so we may see him lash out at Gargano in the near future.

This is great news for NXT fans as anyone who watched Takeover New Orleans is aware of the quality of match these two can put on. Plus the feud has been burning strong since their first match and another match is needed to finally douse the flames of this feud. Much like the first one this is an almost rule-free match meaning the levels of brutality and violence could explode. This will be another personal anger driven bout as Gargano looks to get revenge for all Ciampa has done to him and his wife over the past few weeks.

A Dream Match is Set

Ricochet and the Velveteen Dream already have some amazing chemistry. Both are experts in what they do and both are capable of putting on amazing matches. Now they will be fighting each other at Chicago. This came after Ricochet defeated the debuting Chris Dijak in an amazing match and called the Dream out. Ricochet ripped into the Dream by calling him a punk and attacking his flaws. This brought out the Dream who told Ricochet they would have a match at Takeover.

Both men brought the intensity with Dream being his smug self, putting down Ricochet and Ricochet genuinely scaring Dream by coming at him. Both men have a score to settle and both men are already top stars in NXT. This is another excellent match set for what is building up to another stacked NXT Takeover. The way both men interact with each other works so well too, Dream is trying and seemingly failing to mess with Ricochet. This looks to be a fight set up over who is really the best in NXT.

Nikki Cross, New Women’s Champion?

Dakota Kai finally got her title match on this week’s NXT. It was the main event of the show and despite being short it was an excellent example of a dominant heel bullying a timid face. For most of the match Shayna was basically bullying Kai and attacking her legs. Kai was too scared to mount any offense, until finally snapping and levelling Shayna with an enziguri. She then mounted a comeback and tried to finish Shayna but was caught out of it and put into the Kirifuda Clutch for the win.

The really interesting stuff happened after the match as Shayna got angry and reapplied the clutch to Kai. As it seems all is lost, Nikki Cross runs out and saves the day. In true Nikki fashion, she goes after Shayna, stealing the belt and frantically challenging for the belt. She then tried to make a match right there and then, making Dakota the referee and hitting Shayna with the Purge. Kai counts for three and then Nikki celebrates as if she has actually won the belt. Despite it not being an actual match, the crowd went nuts. So it is a safe bet to make that since Nikki left with the belt, she will be the challenger for Shayna’s title.

In Conclusion

It’s been a strong week for WWE programming. All three shows had plenty to offer and a lot of stuff to take away from them. NXT has set up a lot of the ground work for Takeover Chicago, Money in the Bank is one step closer to being finalised and Nakamura and Styles is still burning strong. This has been a guide to some of your weekly WWE programming. Hopefully next week is just as good with as much to talk about.

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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