It’s been a rather good week for WWE hasn’t it? There’s been some excellent matches, exciting new prospects and some drastic changes to events. Every show had a chance to shine and despite some drag here and there, it was way less than previous weeks. With all that hype built let’s begin chipping away at the goings on of WWE’s TV this week. Oh yeah and Kevin Owens comes back in a month. That was probably the second best thing to happen this week. KOmania Four is coming.
Sorry for Nothing
The whole crux of RAW this week centred on Becky and her quest for the Wrestlemania main event. She had been cleared by a doctor to wrestle but a new road block had emerged. She would have to put her pride behind her and apologise for her actions towards the McMahon Family last week. At first Becky outright refused citing that the McMahon family had screwed wrestlers over for decades and would not fall into their trap. Arguments ensued between Becky and Stephanie but HHH calmed things down and gave Becky until the end of the show to think it over. After getting advice from friends and foes alike Becky caved and apologised to save her main event spot. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be enough as the apology placated H and Steph; it did not sit with Vince McMahon. He cited that Becky had no killer instinct and that he thought she wasn’t worth the Wrestlemania main event worthy. He had made the tough decision to replace Becky with Charlotte. She is livid and so is the crowd. Vince has screwed the WWE Universe and Charlotte could not be happier. This all but confirms we’ll be getting a triple threat between Ronda, Becky and Charlotte at Mania as WWE have taken the Daniel Bryan route with Becky. That’s at least how it feels after this week.
Charlotte didn’t stay quiet either as she gloated on social media on the night then gloated on Smackdown the next day. She rubbed the decision in the crowd’s face and even dedicated the win she was going to get to Becky Lynch. As a final detail she revealed she will be front row for Rousey’s Elimination Chamber match so we should probably expect her to get involved somehow be it physically or otherwise.
Nia Jax & Tamina defeat Sasha Banks & Bayley & the Riott Squad via Samoan Drop
It was time to decide which RAW team would be starting in the Elimination Chamber match for the Women’s Tag Titles. We saw all three teams fight it out but in the end it was the Samoan Slaughterhouse winning after Tamina delivered a Super Kick to Bayley, got Nia tagged in and the Hugger being finished with a Samoan Drop. It was a fun match that saw all teams involved show off. Sasha and Bayley have the troublesome position of starting first, especially as Sasha is injured and seems to be getting taken out of matches early. Bayley has been fighting on her own now for the past two tag team matches.
Bad Night For Elias
Who likes an Elias performance? No on the WWE production team apparently. Elias was interrupted three times over the course of his segment. First it was Becky chatting to Finn, then it was a Seth Rollins video package and finally Lucha House Party figured they’d walk with Elias. They were there to support him but ended up upstaging him. The crowd hated his song and Lucha House Party was told to do better. So Kalisto played Elias’s guitar and played it better. Instead of earning the troubadour’s respect, he earned a guitar to the back. There was no real point to this segment and a lot of it was obvious filler but hey, who doesn’t like seeing Kalisto getting smashed with a guitar?
When Feuds Collide
Finn Balor defeats Drew McIntyre via DQ
Finn Balor, Kurt Angle & Braun Strowman defeat Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin via Coup de Grace
What started as an excellent competitive match between Finn and Drew soon descended into a hectic six man brawl after Bobby Lashley got involved. The match was restarted twice and the whole segment lasted almost an hour. Whilst it’s nice to see everyone involved stay relevant this dragged. Finn got two technical wins, one over the IC title but still this didn’t need to be a full hour. Very little was furthered story wise and the only real benefit came to the referees who looked semi competent for once. There were some nice spots and Bobby Lashley can do a nice Yokosuka Cutter but that was not enough to get him the win as a secondary referee saw Finn’s foot on the ropes. He would pay for this by eating the Coup de Grace and losing the match.
Ruby Riott defeats Nikki Cross via Riott Kick
Nikki Cross isn’t having much luck on the main roster. She lost tagging with Alicia Fox and has now lost in a singles bout against Ruby Riott. In her defence, she gave Ruby Riott hell. This wasn’t a one sided fight and Nikki certainly got her spots in, including the ring apron assisted forearms and a Cross Body to the outside. She only lost because of a surprise Riott Kick out of nowhere. It was a fun little match but again why did it have to be Nikki? Any woman could have been used here to make Riott a threat. Nikki has only just been called up, don’t have her lose it all just yet. Then again the best segment her Sanity stablemates have had in recent weeks was a match on Up Up Down Down.
Dean Ambrose defeats EC3 via Roll Up
Speaking of call ups and losses, what the hell was this? After an excellent back and forth between Paul Heyman and Seth Rollins that took the average Heyman promo and spun it towards Seth being a martyr, we got this. The match was inexplicably short, a feeling out process and incredibly anticlimactic. Dean won with a Roll Up after a short exchange of basic moves and very little else. Dean is on the way out, we get that but still give him something credible. He could easily have a nice little programme with EC3 if they wanted to do more with it. Both men have charisma, both men can wrestle, let them do that. 50/50 booking is a common problem in WWE and yes it extends feuds but two roll up wins in a row, one a piece is just dull. Do more with these wrestlers WWE.
Forever The Revival
The Revival defeat Roode & Gable via Shatter Machine
Finally, something to be happy about. RAW’s tag division may finally start to be elevated as another top team is holding their belts. The Revival finally won the Tag Titles in an amazing tag match that beat everything else on RAW. It went from standard tag match to some extreme feats of tag team tactics and athleticism. Chad Gable is an amazing athlete and deserves more credit than he gets. There were so many amazing moves and near finishes in this match. It almost felt like an NXT throwback at times and was all the better for it. After months of wonky finishes and forced conspiracies it seems like the Revival may finally be back on track. Everything about this was excellent and part of me hopes that Roode and Gable stick around to bolster the tag division as their chemistry has improved and they are always going to be credible opponents for the Revival.
Naomi Gets Some Payback
Naomi & Carmella defeat Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville & The IIconics via Split Legged Moon Sault
Much like the RAW women did the night before, the Smackdown women’s teams had a three-way tag match to decide who would be first in the chamber. Whereas the RAW match was chaotic and all were involved, this match mainly served as a vehicle for Naomi to kick the crap out of Naomi whilst the IIconics watched on. This time instead of eating the finisher, Naomi got the finish by hitting a Moon Sault on Rose. She and Sonya Deville will start the chamber match against Sasha Banks and Bayley. After the match, the IIconics made sure they were remembered by destroying Naomi and Carmella. Carmella ate the Bulldog into the knee and then threw her into the ring post. This may be the best moment the IIconics have had in a while as they’ve been jobbed out and forgotten. For this brief moment they genuinely seemed like a threat again.
Kofi Kingston: Man of an Hour
Randy Orton defeats AJ Styles via RKO
AJ Styles defeats Kofi Kingston via Calf Crusher
Kofi Kingston defeats Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy & Samoa Joe
So most of Smackdown was dominated by a single match, well set of matches. Since Mustafa Ali is currently out with an injury, his spot in the Elimination Chamber was given to someone else, Kofi Kingston. He was the member of the new day who replaced Ali and lasted over an hour with three victories over his upcoming opponents. He suffered a lot of brutality at the hands of Daniel Bryan and Rowan for 25 minutes, winning by pulling out a Trouble in Paradise for the win. Second he went to war with Jeff Hardy and narrowly avoided the Swanton Bomb and won with SOS. Lastly he was battling to escape the Coquina Clutch at the hands of Samoa Joe.
After being exhausted through two matches, it looked like the end of Kofi but he managed to reverse the clutch into a pin and got the win over Joe. All this earned Kofi was more punishment as Joe attacked after the bell and it took the efforts of Kofi’s next opponent AJ Styles to stop him. Styles was after a fair fight and after some leg damage to his now three match down opponent, toppled Kofi with the Calf Crusher. Styles was now the last man standing and only had one opponent left, Randy Orton. His music hit but there were no signs of Orton. AJ gets more and more frustrated the RKO OUTTA NOWHERE. Orton covers Styles and gets to look like the big winner. He will also be the last entrant in the Elimination Chamber. That’s a dangerous man to come in last.
Feast Your Eyes Part III
Dominik Dijakovic defeats Shane Thorne via Feast Your Eyes Knee Strike
NXT started with a short, stiff match between the upcoming monster Dominik Dijakovic and the newly made singles competitor Shane Thorne. It was a battle of strength vs smarts as Thorne went for the legs an arm of Dijakovic as a means to bring down and weaken the big man. This seemed to have some effect as Dijakovic absorbed way more damage than normal in the form of stiff kicks to the back and side and a bunch of arm focused attacks. This wouldn’t keep him down permanently though as Dijakovic would hit a Corkscrew Plancha to Thorne and finish him off with the Feast Your Eyes Knee Strike. Thorne got to look strong but audiences have now had their first taste of the feats of athleticism Dijakovic is capable of.
Ohno Out, Edgier Street Profits In, WAR
Street Profits defeat Humberto Carillo & Stacey Ervin Jr via Super Blockbuster
Next we present a three act tragedy as we see the team of Humberto Carillo and Stacey Ervin Jr in the ring ready to fight when Kassius Ohno suddenly comes out with a mic. He is there to address the Full Sail crowd and reveals he will be leaving NXT to go somewhere he will be appreciated. This speech is interrupted by a strike in the back from Keith Lee. He says his ambush could have been worse and wishes Ohno good riddance.
Next we get the tag match as the Street Profits come out and Montez Ford drops to dance with the fallen body of Ohno. What follows is an exciting back and forth tag match that sees Ford and Carillo trade fast paced offence and show off their speed whilst Dawkins and Ervin play to the power game. The Street Profits have a new edge to them and use a heelish strategy to attack their opponents. The face team can’t be kept down as Ervin manages to hit a gravity defying Tsunami Sault after suffering a vicious Backdrop Suplex from Ford. The pin is broken up and the Profits soon win with a Super Blockbuster. This was a new Finisher for the team and they looked intense after the win.
After that, the Street Profits threw down a challenge for the NXT Tag Titles. They are cut off by Aichner and Barthel, who stake their own claim, but are then cut off by Lorcan and Birch. They all face off in the ring when the War Raiders basically tell them to come at them. They head for the ring but are ambushed by the Undisputed Era and have to fight off everyone. In the end the War Raiders beat everyone and stand tall amongst the carnage. The hunt for a new number one contender starts now as four teams have come forth.
Aliyah Borne Again?
Aliyah defeats Taynara Conti via Total Aliyah-nation
So this happened I guess? This match had no real purpose or reason, it kind of just happened. Taynara is now a face it would seem and lost to a new submission finisher from Aliyah after some interference from Vanessa Borne. There were no real highlights in the match nor was the crowd really into it. There is some minor intrigue around this new partnership but the crowd didn’t really pop until Shayna and the Horsewomen came out and destroyed all three of them.
Speaking of Shayna, we got a backstage segment earlier in the show where Io Shirai is celebrating her win over Shayna and talking about how she will be going after the NXT Women’s Title. Kairi Sane is there encouraging her but the pair are interrupted by Bianca Belair who says she will not be ignored and wrongly says she is still undefeated. It would look like we’re going to be getting a Belair vs Shirai match to decide who will be next for the NXT Women’s title. Hopefully it is Shirai as she will put on the more exciting match.
The North American Grudge Match
Ricochet defeats Adam Cole via Vertigo
Lastly we got an amazing main event between the two former North American Champions. It’s no secret that Adam Cole and Ricochet don’t like each other. Both men have cost the other the title in the past and the clash of styles couldn’t be more prevalent. This was a match that saw Cole do everything they could to destroy Ricochet’s left leg after it got caught in the turnbuckle. This would be the focus of most of the match as Ricochet would have to adapt his offense to still fly without having the extra footing. He did so by pulling of a one-legged Springboard 450 to the legs of Cole. He had also survived two Ushigoroshi’s and a bunch of Super Kicks.
In the end, he was able to come back, hit a flurry of offence and ended it with Vertigo. He sold the hell out of the leg and the final burst seemed like the product of adrenaline. It was just enough to get him the win. He couldn’t celebrate because he was instantly ambushed by the rest of the Era. Aleister Black tries to save him but is hit by the End of Heartache and laid out alongside Ricochet. It would appear Black’s next big feud will be Roderick Strong.
Once again we got a mostly solid week of wrestling. Every show had something to offer and the crowning of the Revival as Tag Champs has been a long time going. It may have taken them threatening to leave to give their division a shot in the arm, but it’s worked. The tag division feels like it could finally be taken seriously again. Smackdown reminded everyone why Kofi Kingston is a legend of the business and that his popularity has not waned over the years. Based on the reception to him alone, he is more of a legitimate title contender than half the people in the chamber. That gauntlet match provided an hour of pure, top quality wrestling. As always NXT was NXT so nothing else needs to be said. Elimination Chamber is this Sunday and although the card looks rushed and lacking it should still provide some fun. We’ll find out come Sunday.