After the amazing Evolution PPV on Sunday, WWE went full steam ahead on promoting Crown Jewel in it’s go home week. Crown Jewel could very well be the WWE’s lowest watched PPV given all the news of boycotts and all the controversy surrounding it. Those threats didn’t stop WWE pushing it this week as it took centre stage over both main shows. The week was dominated by more WWE World Cup pushes and the company scrambling to replace some big names that have pulled out the Saudi super show. Without further ado, let’s see what there was to talk about this week in WWE.
Brock Stands Tall… Again
WWE started RAW off with a tried and true classic for any go home week by having the two title match competitors slug it out. Brock and Heyman were in the ring doing their usual promo about Brock being a beast alongside Baron Corbin. However this promo was more entertaining than usual as Heyman was getting pretty damn meta which was fun to watch. Heyman’s comments bring out Braun who throws down a couple of statements of his own before throwing Baron out of the way to get to Brock. Corbin takes offense and tries to attack Strowman only to be destroyed. He eats multiple Powerslams whilst Braun shouts at Brock this is your future. Brock looks amused and poses with the belt before hitting Strowman with an F5 and standing tall for the segment. This was standard fair for a go home show but it was a solid opener for the show and hyped the crowd a bit. Whilst the future of the Universal Title is up in the air, it’s commendable to see Heyman and Braun do their best to make the title seem worth something. Hopefully we get a decent match between these two at Crown Jewel and not just another bored Brock suplex fest.
You Won’t See Him
Finn Balor defeats Bobby Lashley via DQ
RAW confirmed that John Cena has pulled out of Crown Jewel. After the rumours started flying around the internet, it was only a matter of time before WWE confirmed it. After another match with Finn where once again both competitors are performing incredibly well, Finn goes for the Coup de Gras only to be pushed off by Lio Rush. The match is called off with Finn winning. Lashley decides to attack after the bell, ramming Balor into barricades and the ring before locking him in a Full Nelson whilst Lio Rush verbally abuses him.
Later on, Baron Corbin is in the trainer’s room when Lio and Bobby pay him a visit. Corbin has made Bobby Lashley Cena’s replacement for the WWE world cup. Logically this makes sense as Corbin hates Finn so he would reward the man who punished him. Lashley is a decent replacement for Cena as the two have been tagging together and Lashley should be recognisable enough to the Saudi audience. Hopefully this gives Lashley a bigger spotlight so his new heelish persona can lead to more opportunities.
Face Elias Best Elias?
Elias defeats Jinder Mahal via Drift Away
So Elias can take a face turn and make gold. The troubadour has gone from insulting cities and crowds to insulting the acting GM. He took to the ring to talk about his unfortunate interruption last week by Corbin and told the audience that he had a song for him. Since Corbin had been destroyed by Braun, Elias lamented that he wouldn’t be coming to the ring to see him so Elias went to him. He started performing outside Corbin’s office singing a pretty insulting song that saw him go to call Corbin Stephanie McMahon’s bitch but it was stopped by a door slam. The whole time Elias is trying not to crack up. Once he finishes performing, he is attacked by Jinder Mahal and thrown around the backstage area. This sets up the match that happens next. This is a typical Jinder match with the one notable thing being Elias wrestling as a face. Jinder dominates until Elias gets his comeback and wins with Drift Away. After the boos Elias is used to, it’s nice to see him also lapping up the face reaction he is getting. Elias is one of the best promo men in the company and it’s great he can play both good and bad guys.
Tag Teams are Meaningless
Bobby Roode & Chad Gable defeat AOP and The Ascension via German Suplex/Neckbreaker combo
After a few weeks of tag teams meaning something, we are back to throw away tag matches where the winners mean nothing. We are back to the awkward Roode/Gable stuff and AOP has been relegated to fighting the Ascension. It was a quick match where very little happened and Roode/Gable won with a double team move. This must mean they’re gonna be working as a team more often since they now have a finisher. It didn’t matter as AOP wasted everyone in the match after the bell anyway. They murdered both of the opposing teams and posed over the broken bodies. AOP were in the main event not so long ago and the tag team titles were being contested by two amazing teams. God only knows what’s going to happen now. It probably won’t be good.
He Didn’t Say a Word
So one of the biggest moments of last week was Dean turning on Seth and beating him down in very rough fashion. Seth came out this week looking for answers. He tried to rationalise why Dean could have done it and why he chose then to do it but most importantly he wanted the answers from the horse’s mouth. About halfway through Dean appears at the top of the audience stand and just stares at Seth. He looks like he is going to say something but stops and stares again. Seth gets more annoyed and starts trying to answer Dean’s questions for him and makes his way up towards him. As Seth is making his way up, Dean just walks away without a word. We just had an intimidating stare down and Dean left us wanting more. Seth seems outright distraught at Dean’s actions and wanted to blame his own turn years ago as the reason for it. WWE may have had to pull the trigger early on this but they are handling it perfectly. Everyone is waiting to hear what Dean has to say and they have managed to mostly avoid tacky territory.
Best Friends, Better Enemies
Nia Jax defeats Ember Moon via Leg Drop
After talking smack to each other during an interview segment over the end of the Evolution battle royal, Ember Moon and Nia Jax were given a match against each other. This confrontation came over elimination numbers and the fact that Nia won the whole thing. They were talking some friendly-ish, awkward trash to one another before settling it in the ring. The match itself was fine but it was mainly used as a vehicle to set up more tension between Tamina and Nia. Tamina’s music hit and distracted both competitors. Nia eventually uses this to her advantage, slugs Ember with an elbow and hits a Leg Drop to finish the match then stares down Tamina. It looks like WWE may finally be trying to use Tamina after neglecting to use her for much of anything the past couple of years. Her and Nia would make a devastating team or a pretty interesting monster vs monster feud.
All Flips No Fists
Lucha House Party defeats The Revival via Solida Del Sol
The Revival was treated to the next step in the ever growing relationship between RAW and 205 Live as they took on the Lucha House Party. This was probably one of the best matches on RAW as the Revival got to grind down their opponents with their technical prowess whilst the Luchadores were out to hit their high-flying offense. This was a fun enough clash of styles that saw the 205 Live stars get the surprise win with the Solida Del Sol from Kalisto. This was a great starting match to introduce audiences to the new RAW tag team on the scene. Lucha House Party will hopefully breathe some life into the dwindling RAW tag division as it desperately needs it.
Dolph Ziggler defeats Apollo Crews via Superkick
What went wrong here? A couple of weeks ago we had Apollo trying to finally establish himself by interrupting Elias and talking about how he was done waiting in the wings for something to happen. Now he’s just being jobbed out to lose to people. This week it was Dolph Ziggler who was using Apollo Crews as a means to prove he was the best in the world ahead of Crown Jewel. Again the match was fine, if a bit unmemorable but it did its job. It’s annoying that Apollo Crews shows off this interesting offense and has the potential to do anything but is stuck jobbing to other people. This needs to lead to something or else it’ll be a pure waste of talent. Also why did it have to be Crews to eat a loss from Ziggler? Wouldn’t it have been more heelish to have him use a jobber to save himself the challenge? Its great Crews was in a high spot on the card but next time at least have him win in the end. Crews seems to have been a victim of the shuffle since Elias had to turn face.
D Out of Touch Generation X
Why was this a thing? DX and the Brothers of Destruction did not need to be in the main event segment of this show. Not even nostalgia could save this segment as it’s just too obvious how old these guys are now. This was a slow and plodding continuation of the same promos we’ve heard the past few weeks between the two teams. Is it great to see these legends fighting again? Sort of, these were the stars of the Attitude Era and Shawn Michaels will forever be a fan favourite but why were they brought back for such a pointless and cynical show. This match proves that WWE can’t let go of the past. The funniest thing is though, this entire angle is probably happening because the Saudis probably wanted DX and the Brothers of Destruction on their show.
The Destroyer Replaces Bryan
AJ Styles defeats Daniel Bryan via Calf Crusher
The award for the best cover up of a star pulling out of Crown Jewel goes to Smackdown. Daniel Bryan was the other name to be rumoured in the Crown Jewel pull out. He too had to be replaced and was done so in much better fashion than RAW dealt with Cena. AJ and Bryan started the show for an in ring promo talking about their tag team failings. As time went on tempers got heated and the two wanted their title match there and then. Shane comes out, makes the match official and the two fight. This was an excellent opening match and it was a lot of fun to watch. Bryan injures his knee on a Suicide Dive which becomes the focus of the match and becomes the eventual finish of the match. Styles hits a Styles Clash and rolls through into a Calf Crusher forcing Bryan to tap out. There is a mutual show of respect from the two competitors and all seems to be well until Joe attacks. He wipes out Styles, choking him out with the Coquina Clutch and does the same to Bryan when he tries to make the save. Joe has been made Bryan’s replacement for Crown Jewel meaning we will be getting another chapter to the Styles and Joe feud. It’s a nice compromise and should provide another enjoyable match between the two.
A Brood Bath
Big E defeats Cesaro via Big Ending
Normally gimmick street fights are pretty bad. They are normally excuses for wrestlers to have a dud match where they throw themed objects at each other or waste time on a themed show. This time we got a continuation of the Bar and New Day feud that gave audiences a lot of fun. The highlight had to be The New Day dressed as the Brood though. They went all in on their Edge, Christian and Gangrel costumes. These costumes even played a part in the finish of the match. As the Bar tried to play the numbers game and Big Show tried to attack both Xavier and Kofi, the red mist was used to stop him. There was also spots including tables, coloured kendo sticks and jack o lanterns as the trick or street fight continued. The red mist also helped Big E beat Cesaro as he hit him with the mist as he went for the Gotch Neutraliser. Big E then hit a Big Ending and got the win after Sheamus and Cesaro got taken out. As gimmick fights go this was a lot of fun and actually made some sense since it was New Day taking part in it.
R Truth takes it to Shinsuke
Shinsuke Nakamura defeats R Truth via Kinshasa
I love R Truth. He seems to be enjoying a resurgence in his twilight years and is loving every second of it. He was a stand in opponent for Shinsuke Nakamura after Tye Dillinger was announced as injured. This was another fun match that had Nakamura on the card and featured plenty of moves between both wrestlers. Truth had a dance break mid match with Carmella and was having quite a strong showing until Nakamura took advantage and beat down Truth for the win. It wasn’t anything special but it was fun and it gave Truth more TV time. If every week has a bit of R Truth I wouldn’t complain as the guy is a riot.
The Lass Kicker’s Message to the Baddest Woman on the Planet
Survivor Series is on the horizon and that means it’s time to start preparing for brand warfare. The first champion vs champion match has been set and it’s Becky vs Ronda. It’ll be the battle of the Arm Bars as the Baddest Woman on the Planet will take on the Relent Lass Lynch. Becky dropped a promo gloating over her win at Evolution, being the best woman in WWE and showing no fear towards Rousey. She threatened the RAW women’s champ over how dangerous she was and how Rousey had faced no one like her. It was short, sweet and was perfectly delivered by the best woman in WWE, Becky Lynch.
Effective Crown Jewel Build
Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy defeat Miz and Orton via Swanton Bomb
Smackdown was full of promos and barbs about Crown Jewel’s World Cup. Shane McMahon laid down an ultimatum wherein if a Smackdown superstar loses to a RAW roster member in the finals they will be fired from Smackdown. This added an extra level of intensity to the World Cup and gave the Smackdown stars another thing to fear. This led to the stars making promos and eventually taking part in a tag team match for the main event. The tag match itself was a lot of fun and gave Jeff Hardy a nice little win ahead of losing in the World Cup. There was some great chemistry between Hardy and Rey leading to an excellent combo finish of the 619 and the Swanton Bomb. Miz eats the pin and Randy hits everyone with RKO’s reminding everyone he has no friends and is still the owner of the most surprising finisher in WWE.
Crossing Out Mercedes
Nikki Cross defeats Mercedes Martinez via The Purge
Mercedes Martinez is an amazing wrestler. She opened the show in a match against NXT’s twisted sister Nikki Cross. They had a competitive match that showcased the brutal and technical offense of Martinez whilst reminding audiences that Cross can still do some technical wrestling and still do the chaotic and resilient style she is known for. It was an exciting opener for NXT and delivered some great moments to hype up the crowd. Cross won after mounting a comeback and reversing the Fisherman’s Buster. After the match there was a Cross style showing of respect to Martinez. Candice LeRae then came to the ring to confront Nikki about her antics. Nikki played it off and tried to leave the stage but was stared down by Aleister Black. He walks up to Candice demanding to know where Gargano is and warning her of her husband’s future.
The Mighty Taken to the Streets
Street Profits defeat The Mighty via Frog Splash
It feels like the Street Profits and the Mighty have been fighting forever. If either team is on the show they are usually fighting each other. This was another fun match between the two and it finally saw the face team go over after weathering the storm. The Profits started strong and finished strong after Montez Ford was saved by Dawkins. Ford hit another amazing Frog Splash to win the match and hopefully put the feud to bed. The Profits also got their cup and chains back after they had been stolen by the Mighty in a previous match. The Street Profits have had a good week this week as they also won the tag titles in another promotion that I will not spoil.
War Games takes Shape
William Regal made three big announcements regarding Takeover War Games on NXT. The first is that the current NXT Title match is Velveteen Dream vs Tomasso Ciampa, though this could change as Lars Sullivan was not happy. The second match was that Aleister Black will get the chance to go one on one with his attacker, Johnny Gargano. These are two big matches for Takeover and give Velveteen the spotlight he has craved since entering NXT. There was a third announcement but that came later in the show after another chaotic clash between two groups.
Welcome to NXT Bro
Matt Riddle defeats Luke Menzies via Bro-mission
Matt Riddle made his heavily anticipated debut in NXT by kicking the crap out of Luke Menzies. Riddle showcased his fun, laid back nature on the way to the ring but quickly turned up the intensity once he got into the match. Menzies tried to mount some offense but was shut down quickly by Riddle. Matt a bunch of different strikes and managed to pull off a Monkey Flip style move into an Arm Bar. Riddle also mauled Menzies with stiff knee, kicks and finished him off with his own unique submission the Bro-mission.
There was another tease on the WWE YouTube channel too as it showed a backstage segment where Keith Lee and Matt Riddle were celebrating backstage when Kassius Ohno interrupts them and once again makes reference to a potentially impending feud between the two. Whether this happens or not, Matt Riddle had an amazing debut and was instantly over with the fans when he made his big entrance. It’s gonna be a lot of fun to see what he does next in the yellow brand.
The Styles Clash
Lorcan & Burch defeat Mendoza & Carrillo via Implant DDT
The stars of this match weren’t the winners but the team that lost. Mendoza and Carrillo are two of the best luchadores on NXT and putting them together seems like an excellent idea and they looked really good in defeat against NXT’s resident bruisers, Lorcan and Burch. It was a short but packed match that put the losers over more than the winners. This could be a team we see more of in the future as they would bring a style to the tag team division that has been missing.
Putting the War in War Games
There’s only one word to describe this segment, chaos. This was a total brawl where the War Raiders lived up to their name. This started with the Undisputed Era doing one of their backstage promos when they were attacked from behind by the War Raiders and thrown against every solid object backstage. They took it outside where the Raiders appeared to be in control until Roderick Strong used a trash can as an equaliser. The Era take control until Ricochet joins the fray to even the numbers. Again they take control and the brawl makes its way to the ring. Once they start fighting in ring, the Era once again takes advantage and continues beating down the faces. The crowd chants for EC3 but instead Pete Dunne comes out chair in hand and beats down the Era alongside Ricochet and the War Raiders. William Regal eventually comes out to break up the fighting and announces that these two teams will be fighting in a war games match. The show ends with the faces standing strong in the ring and Pete Dunne couldn’t look happier.
It’s been an odd week for WWE. NXT has its own separate universe where it doesn’t have to worry about the controversial Crown Jewel PPV so it was free to do it’s own thing. RAW and Smackdown were marred down by promoting the Saudi show and as such suffered because of it. RAW was a plodding mess peppered with a few good moments but no solid stand out match and too much filler. Smackdown was an excellent show but still was clogged with promos and a main event all about Crown Jewel. WWE need to promote it as it’s a PPV so I can’t hate this too much but it did affect show quality and needs to be talked about. It’ll be interesting to see how RAW and Smackdown are after Crown Jewel when a new Universal champion is crowned and this World Cup nonsense is over and done with. Let’s just hope something good comes out of this controversial mess WWE have got themselves into.
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