Wow, wasn’t this week underwhelming? I hate starting on a negative but considering the expectations for post Mania RAW’s, this felt lacklustre. There were a few surprises but overall it was a mix of business as usual and stalling points as the week went on. There was an Undertaker appearance where he bullied a rapping Elias and some new or returning additions to the rosters. With all that said, let’s get into it.
Winner Takes All, Again
Kofi Kingston & Seth Rollins defeat The Bar via Stomp
RAW opened with an impassioned promo from the new Universal Champion Seth Rollins. He talked about his match but was soon interrupted by Kofi and the New Day who were interested in setting up their own winner takes all match. Seth agreed to it and the match was set for the main event. This would have been a bold move had the Bar not interrupted the match a short while after it had started. From there it became an entertaining tag match but the stakes were gone and the crowd were soured by the Bars interference. The faces worked well together and overcame the Bar with a Stomp but once again it was hard to care since the stakes were so low now.
New Streak Begins
Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder defeat The Revival via Roll Up
Two wins in a row. It’s a new record for Kurt Hawkins as he scrubbed away the losing streak at Mania and started a small winning streak the night after. It wasn’t easy as once again the Revival were at their dominant heel best cutting the ring in half and bullying Zack Ryder. It all came down to Hawkins being a hot tag and managing to snag another lucky roll up pin after the Revival were too busy paying attention to Ryder. It’s not the most satisfying win but considering it’s Hawkins the crowd could not be happier to see a roll up. Since that’s two losses in a row, the Revival should be out of title contention so this could mean we see the Revival head to Smackdown. Now that’s a happy thought.
Bad Luck Angle
If your name is Baron Corbin and you just retired a fan favourite legend at Mania then maybe don’t gloat about it the night after. However that’s just what Corbin did, he had no problems letting the crowd know just what he’d done. His words brought out Angle who faked offering him the best of luck but quickly trapped Corbin in the Ankle Lock and Corbin was forced to retreat. However it was Angle who had the worst of luck as Lars Sullivan’s music hit and the Thanos of NXT finally debuted on the main roster, planting Angle with the Freak Accident and adding insult to injury with a Diving Head butt to the chest. It was a dominant show of force on a much loved and already beaten fan favourite.
Attack Like a Lady
Well we’ve found out who will be the first challenger for Becky Lynch’s new belts. She delivered a promo on RAW celebrating the achievement, her journey and even poked some fun at Charlotte and the fact she’ll probably a shot at more titles to appease her. As Becky was leaving the ring, a familiar entrance music plays and Lacey Evans walks down to the ring. She poses in front of Becky looks to leave and slugs Lynch in the face with the Women’s Right. The two brawl up the ramp and around the stage until Evans escapes the Disarm-Her attempt and leaves.
The same thing happens on Smackdown the next night but Becky does not fight back as she’s too dazed to do anything in retaliation. It would appear that WWE is building Lacey Evans to be the first competitor for the titles and since she has done nothing but walk down the ramp for months it’s nice to finally see her do something. She’ll be a credible first opponent and this feud should give her the chance to showcase her abilities and character.
What’s In the Box?
Now comes the weirdest thing from RAW and Smackdown. A video of a box that featured a weird, deformed Jim Henson style bird puppet that had a coughing laughter fit and didn’t do much else. It was also wearing a Hawaiian shirt so everyone is linking this weird monstrosity to the return of Bray Wyatt. If that is true then I am over the moon as I still believe in Bray Wyatt and that bird thing is creepy as hell. If this is a signifier of what Bray will be like then I’m all the more hopeful he returns and gets the push/booking he is more than capable of.
Dean’s Last Night
One thing that has been questioned since it was announced was the legitimacy of Dean Ambrose’s quitting of the company. This segment and the dark segment after the show conveyed that this is the end and Dean is on the way out. He was meant to have a match with Bobby Lashley but the match never happened as Lashley made a comment about Renee Young and a brawl ensued. They fight around the stage area and it ended with Dean getting slammed onto the announcer’s table. After the show finished Seth, Dean and Roman are all in ring, reminiscing and talking about Dean and the future. It got very candid and quite Kayfabe breaking but also very heartfelt. It’ll be sad to see Dean go if he really is on the way out. Good luck in the future Mr Ambrose. Unless you show up again on Smackdown in a few weeks.
Finn Balor defeats Sami Zayn via Coup de Grace
One of the biggest returns of the night came in the form of Sami Zayn. He had a solid match with Finn Balor that he lost due to missing a Helluva Kick. He loses the IC Title match and gets a mic when Finn is gone. He runs down the crowd and talks about how WWE is a toxic work environment. This was one of the best promos delivered in a while as it was dripping in malice and truly captured the hatred Zayn has for the company. He would pull a similar stunt on Smackdown the next night where he came to the ramp, paused and decided the crowd wasn’t worth talking to. He has come back as a heel and I couldn’t be happy. He was smarmy, self-righteous and just as annoying as he was before he had to take time off. It’ll be fun to have him back and I just hope WWE give him something meaningful to do.
Busy Busy Bar
The New Day defeat The Bar & Drew McIntyre via Trouble in Paradise
The Bar were on full cock blocking duty this week as they made another unwanted appearance in a New Day segment. They gate crashed the New Day’s opening Smackdown celebration by claiming Kofi would have lost the belt had they not interfered and challenged the group to a six man tag match. Big E calls them out for their incorrect math but the Bar assures them they have a friend. Drew’s music hits and the trio is completed. They have their match in the main event spot and it’s plenty of fun. Drew adds a new dynamic as he hasn’t fought the New Day in his new heel form and loves trash talking as the match goes on. He even launches Xavier into the announcer’s table with an Inverted Alabama Slam. However after that he seemed to be gone from the match. In the end Sheamus eats the Trouble in Paradise and the show ends on a happy ending. If Drew is sent to Smackdown then the faces of the main event division better prepare themselves.
Braun was surprisingly absent from most of the post Mania shows. He came out to attack Joe after Joe interrupted a promo from R Truth and Carmella. Truth had brawled with Joe for a bit but was quickly choked out and Joe demanded a mic. He drops a short promo warning everyone who comes for his title that they will be dispatched in just as quick a time as Rey was at Mania. His words bring out Braun and the two have a short brawl than ends with Joe bailing after escaping the Running Powerslam. This was another big tease of a possible shake up but I’m not sure I’d enjoy seeing Braun take the US Title from Joe.
The IIconics defeat The Brooklyn Belles via Double Team Knee
The IIconics really do know how to take a win and capitalise on it. They aped the sentiments of Sasha and Bayley by claiming they would be fighting champions and would defend against anyone, anywhere. They even had some opponents to fight tonight, the 45-0 undefeated Brooklyn Belles. They were of course jobbers and got squashed as such but the dramatics were hilarious and the IIconics won with another double team knee strike. It was light, funny and plays to the strengths of the IIconics.
Uso’s Learn the Hardy Way
The Hardyz defeat The Usos via Swanton Bomb
Unexpected moment of the week goes to this match as no one saw the Hardyz winning in this day and age. It’s not that they still can’t go or anything but The Usos have appeared dominant in their defences and manages to outlast three teams the night before. This was a fine match that saw Jeff kick out of the Splash and Matt saved Jeff from the Double Uce. They won with a Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb combo and looked to celebrate with their new titles. Instead they too fell victim to the Sullivan Express and were flattened by the NXT big man. He flattened Jeff with the Freak Accident, dropped Matt with a Powerslam then ended it with a Diving Headbutt.
Heel Shane is Best Shane
BEST IN THE WORLD. BEST IN THE WORLD. BEST IN THE WORLD. BEST IN THE WORLD. BEST IN THE WORLD. BEST IN THE WORLD. BEST IN THE WORLD. Do you get it yet?
Don’t Slap Candice LeRae
Candice LeRae defeated Aliyah via Cabrada
NXT opened with a women’s match between Mrs Gargano and one half of the new heel union between Aliyah and Vanessa Borne. The two had gotten into a heated exchange last week so a match was made for this week. Aliyah dominated a surprising amount of this match as she used distractions and stiff strikes to keep LeRae grounded. LeRae came back after Aliyah got too big for her boots and slapped her. This fired up LeRae and she ended up winning with a springboard Moonsault to Aliyah. It was a fun match but I still struggle to take Aliyah seriously as a threat especially against someone as famously tough as Candice LeRae.
Return to Ryker’s Island
Jaxson Ryker defeats Danny Burch via Widowmaker
I feel NXT creative have read my mind as I often feel Jaxson Ryker is underutilised despite being the powerhouse of the group. Now he has been used twice in recent weeks. Both times he has destroyed the members of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. This match was pretty much like the last one where Ryker bullied his opponent with power moves and strikes before Burch was able to mount some offense and delivered some overhand chops to Ryker. It was another big showcase for Ryker and the fact the Forgotten Sons continued the attack after the match seems to indicate that they may be being built as the next big heel team. They’ve certainly paid their dues and are slowly racking up wins and audience attention. I am oddly intrigued to see what will happen when they face War Raiders.
To the Streets
Street Profits defeat Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel via Electric Chair Blockbuster
So weirdly the main event for this week’s NXT was an 8 minute or so borderline squash match where Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel bullied the Street Profits then lost to one move near enough. This was not a strong showing for the Street Profits as they basically stole the victory and ate most of the offense from the whole match. It was an excellent showing for Barthel and Aichner but not for their opponents. It was an odd match that felt more of a mid-card match than main event. Decent enough to watch but nothing too captivating. I am a massive fan of Barthel and Aichner but it did nothing to really benefit them in the long run.
It’s been a rather dull week considering it was post Mania week. It may have been dampened by the impending Superstar Shake Up since that is going to have the big surprises. However taking away surprise returns, very little really happened. It was tag match central on Smackdown and RAW was a drag with the odd good moment. I’m happy Sullivan is finally on the scene, the return of Zayn is a massive up and Paige has a big team announcement for next week. Plus Buddy Murphy is returning to NXT to batter the Velveteen Dream. Next week should be a lot more enjoyable than this week. I hope…
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