This Week in WWE: The fallout from Evolution, and the road to Crown Jewel

In the aftermath of Evolution, and with Crown Jewel ahead of us, Rob and Chris recap the week that was in WWE.

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Rob O’Neill: Well, that was a fun opening segment. Corbin playing a great heel and saying he hopes when Roman comes back it isn’t to Raw because he likes the title and then Brock Lesnar immediately coming out was fun. Paul Heyman cutting the same promo as usual was whatever, Braun cutting the same promo as usual was whatever, but ending on a Brock F5 to Braun was good. I really don’t know who will win the title on Friday.

Chris Novak: Enjoyed that opening segment quite a bit. Good stuff from Heyman, equal parts good stuff from Strowman. Brock being a hoss doesn’t get old, even if I don’t think he should be near the Universal Title. Nevertheless, off to a solid start.

Finn Balor then came out to face Bobby Lashley. Lio Rush sounding like Meatwad won’t ever not be funny, honestly. Lashley and Finn were having an okay match before Lio Rush got involved. Rush pushed Finn off the top rope and then Lashley beat him up and beat him down.

Rob O’Neill: I don’t really know why we needed Balor vs. Lashley again other than because it’s Raw and it’s the rematch show. It was fine I guess. After the match, Corbin told Lashley he was replacing John Cena in the WWE World Cup on Friday

Chris Novak: Indeed. We found out after the break that Baron Corbin has replaced John Cena with Lashley in the WWE World Cup Tournament, essentially because Corbin was glad he took out Finn, whom he’s been feuding with. I guess that’s how they’re writing Cena out of Crown Jewel. Fine with me.

TEN-WOMAN TAG TIME! The team of The Riott Squad, Alicia Fox and Mickie James takes on the team of… Bayley… Natalya… Sasha Banks… AND Trish Stratus and Lita! This should be an absolute hoot. And what do you know? It was. Riott Squad got a heavy advantage before the tide turned. Lita and Bayley hit twin Twists of Fate. Bayley hit an Elbow, then Lita hit a Moonsault, and then Nattie made Alicia tap out via the Sharpshooter. Honestly a super-duper fun 10-woman tag.

Rob O’Neill: That 10-woman tag match was a ton of fun! It was a total house show match where they just kinda went out there for 10 or 15 minutes, the faces hit all their moves at the end, and then got the win. Simple stuff, but excellently executed

Ember and Nia had a segment backstage. Kayla Braxton was stirring the pot talking about how Nia eliminated four women and won, while Ember eliminated five. This led to Ember challenging Nia to a match later tonight. Cool!

Elias comes out next.

Rob O’Neill: He then left the ring to go find Baron Corbin after last week’s unfinished business,

Chris Novak: Before he left, he said Ric Flair enjoyed what he did to Baron Corbin last week (they’re in Charlotte, classic pandering) so he goes and shows what happened again. He then heads to the back to sing to Corbin, which rattles him.

Rob O’Neill: But after knocking on the door to Corbin’s office, Jinder Mahal ambushed Elias!

Chris Novak: Corbin then informs Elias he’ll be wrestling him… NEXT! Elias and Jinder compete in a decent match, and Elias winds up getting the win. This is the start of a babyface push for him so it’s nice to see him get a W off the bat.

The teams of The Ascension, AOP and Bobby Roode & Chad Gable fought in a triple threat tag match. Roode and Gable wound up winning, but were attacked by AOP. Considering that neither Akam nor Rezar were pinned, I’d imagine I know where this is heading.

Rob O’Neill: That triple threat tag match was certainly a thing. AOP probably should have won, but at least they got the upper hand at the end? I’m not super into the Raw tag division at the moment.

Chris Novak: I will disagree, only from the perspective that we’re likely getting a face team versus The Bar, and Roode & Gable fit that bill since Rollins and Ambrose aren’t a thing anymore.

They played a really sweet and sad video of pediatric cancer patients wishing good vibes to Roman Reigns. Tear-jerking stuff here.

We’re about to get Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose within the same vicinity at the same time. So, business is gonna pick up. Seth says that Dean turned his back on everyone, and wants answers from him.

But Dean is the kind of guy who if he doesn’t wanna be found, he won’t let himself be. Seth adds, though, that he wants him to come out and explain himself. Dean’s music hits but he doesn’t come out. Yet, that is, as he then shows up in the crowd. Seth wants him to come down to the ring, but Dean doesn’t bother to.

Seth lays into him, but Dean just waaaaaaaaalks away.

Rob O’Neill: I liked that a lot. Dean doesn’t have to say anything yet. Let this play out.

Chris Novak: Nia vs. Ember is next. The match was pretty good, albeit short. Tamina came out and provided a bit of a distraction, which led to Nia beating Ember. I’m… possibly intrigued at the fact that the two of them could link up to try and take down Ronda Rousey? I don’t actually know quite yet. But… possibly interesting?

Rob O’Neill: Whoa, that was really good. I think this is a very good mini-feud before Nia eventually switches her sights to Ronda Rousey, and Ember showed out. Tamina interfering made sense within the context of Evolution’s battle royal match, and both Nia and Ember looked good

Chris Novak: THE LUCHA HOUSE PARTY HAVE GOTTEN OFF THE 205 LIVE ISLAND! Kalisto and Lince Dorado were in tag action against The Revival. If that sounds good, it’s because it turned out to be good. Kalisto got the win via the Salida del Sol.

Rob O’Neill: Well, the cruiserweights being on Raw is a good thing. The Revival getting a jobber entrance and losing to the crusierweights is a less good thing. I like Kalisto though, so it’s nice to see him back on Raw even at the expense of my favorite tag team.

Chris Novak: You’re feeding into way too much negativity here, Rob.

I thought that should’ve main evented instead of doing Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews. No disrespect to either of those two but… yeah. Ziggler cut a standard pre-World Cup promo beforehand. This match was unannounced, by the way, until it happened. Ziggler won via Superkick. McIntyre stomped on Crews on his way into the ring. That was about it. The match was just fine.

Rob O’Neill: Ziggler won but Crews looked good. Maybe since Titus Worldwide broke up (They did break up, right?) Crews can get some more singles burn on Raw. That would be good.

Chris Novak: They did, in fact, break up Rob.

DX and The Brothers of Destruction had a segment. Shawn Michaels kicked Undertaker in the face. Taker sat up. What. Ever.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Weird show. I didn’t hate it, there were parts that I loved… and there just felt like a whole lot of filler. We’ve got six shows to go until Survivor Series and most of this show was spent building towards Crown Jewel, naturally. Which makes the show that much more confounding. So since we’ve got one show tomorrow that’s going to be building towards CJ, we’ve got four shows to build towards one of the biggest shows of the year. Kind of unfortunate, but whatever. I’ll give this show a solid B. The first hour was awesome enough.

Rob O’Neill: That was a fine Raw. It kept me entertained for three hours, which is all I ask. It didn’t have the emotional highs and lows of last week, but it was a perfectly serviceable show. B

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Rob O’Neill: AJ Styles is in the ring to start the night. He’s looking forward to his match with Daniel Bryan at Crown Jewel but has something he wants to tell Bryan first, so Bryan comes to the ring. AJ apologizes for their miscommunications last week, but Bryan really doesn’t care! he only cares about the title, but THEN Styles says that the Pele Kick he said was an accident wasn’t actually an accident. Bryan knew it was on purpose though, and he wants to hit Styles. AJ says that sounds like a fine idea and they should have their match right now instead of on Friday! Shane McMahon says that’s a good idea, and it’s on. What a great opening segment

Chris Novak: So THAT’S how they’re writing off Bryan for Crown Jewel. That adds up.

Rob O’Neill: I’m pretty curious as to how many times a throughout history WWE Title match has been the first match on Smackdown. It can’t be too often. That’s what happened here though, and whew was this match good. it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Bryan and Styles are two of the best wrestlers on the planet but to let them just go do their thing for 20 minutes is awesome. Samoa Joe attacking Styles after the match is pretty great, as well. I’m fine with that feud picking back up.

Chris Novak: So naturally, Joe-Styles will be the Crown Jewel match now. I guess if they had to pick somebody, it would be Joe that makes the most sense. Really dug this match a whole lot.

Rob O’Neill: We come back with Charlotte in Paige’s office, and Paige offers to make her the captain of the Smackdown Live team at Survivor Series, and she… declines? Huh.

Chris Novak: I’ll give them this. That’s some solid character development there from Charlotte.

Rob O’Neill: This match was a trick-or-street fight, and the New Day came out dressed like The Brood, which was incredible. They didn’t do the bloodbath though. Big E got the win after a fun match featuring Kofi and Xavier Woods spitting red mist at the Big Show. These Halloween or Thanksgiving matches will never not be fun.

Chris Novak: Agree, Rob. They were staples of the old editions of SmackDown and I’m glad they still tend to do them.

Rob O’Neill: Shane McMahon is with the four Smackdown participants in the WWE World Cup and says if one gets to the finals and loses to Stephanie McMahon’s Raw superstar, they’re fired. Stakes!

Chris Novak: Yeah, that’s some serious pressure there. Has me… very much intrigued.

Rob O’Neill: AJ Styles tells Paige he wants to face Samoa Joe at Crown Jewel. She obliges. That makes sense

I didn’t know how much I needed R-Truth-Shinsuke (again) until it happened. it’s pretty wild that Truth has been in the business for 20 years and this is his most entertaining work to date. Truth and Carmella had a DANCE BREAK in the middle of the match, of course. Nakamura got the win.

Becky Lynch is here. She stood tall at Evolution and now she’s ready to take on Ronda Rousey and she isn’t scared like Ronda’s past opponents were. This was short and to the point and worked.

Chris Novak: Becky remains the hottest act in the company right now. Maybe the entire planet.

Rob O’Neill:Hardy and Mysterio get the victory over Orton and Miz in the main event tag match. Orton and Miz beat them down after. It was fine, but it’s weird that the WWE Title match didn’t main event this show.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Rob O’Neill: This was a perfectly fine Smackdown highlighted by Styles/Bryan, the tag division, and Becky Lynch. They know the formula they need to use and they continue to follow it. A-

Chris Novak: Have to concur. Bryan-Styles was a treat and everything else hit the right notes. A- for me, too.