Cena challenges Taker, Vince suspends Roman, and Kami takes out Shane this week in WWE

Chris Novak: We’re now less than four weeks to go until WrestleMania. So, let’s see what RAW has to offer! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, of course Brock isn’t there! They’re really running this angle very well. Very, very well. Roman comes out and then calls Brock “Vince’s Boy,” and says he doesn’t want to be disrespected by Vince McMahon. So, what does he do? He confronts Vince in Gorilla. Vince is probably about to take a bump to Roman. I, for one, am pumped. 

Alright, so no bump. But, Vince essentially told Roman to “Know his role and shut his mouth.” He’s rationalizing Brock’s absences and then says that he’ll be here next week. Guess who’s not showing up to RAW next week…? And now Reigns just got suspended temporarily!

Robert O’Neill: What a freaking segment to open the show. If you’re not on Team Roman by the end of this whole thing, there’s no hope for you.

Robert O’Neill: IT’S BOSS TIME! Sasha Banks is in action against Sonya Deville. This should be fun.

Chris Novak: The character work by Bayley in that was p h e n o m e n a l.

Robert O’Neill: Seriously, I can’t wait for their eventual match.

Chris Novak: Bayley did the right thing and Sasha had it coming. Bayley letting her get beat down by Sasha was the right move and proper booking. I love how all of this is coming together.

Robert O’Neill: Kid Rock is getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. What’s your favorite Kid Rock song, Chris?

Chris Novak: I don’t have an answer to this question. But “American Bad Ass” was a good theme for a bit for Undertaker. I guess.

Robert O’Neill: Finn Balor and Seth Rollins are on MizTV! Miz is trying to pit them against each other which is very intelligent! He’s a great heel. The one benefit of a year-long WWE title reign by Brock Lesnar is that the Intercontinental Title has more meaning than I can ever remember, which is also a testament to The Miz.

Chris Novak: Miz remains a very great heel. I actually quite liked how his prophecy about Seth came to fruition. He attacked Balor after lying and waiting for him after they both disposed of Miz. That’s some good stuff. Very effective segment. So far, so good for RAW.

Alright! So it’s now extremely likely that the RAW Tag Team Titles Match at WrestleMania is a multi-tag match. Good way of using the division, I guess! It needs some more juice, but I guess it’s the only way to do it without hastily bringing a team into the mix from NXT.

Robert O’Neill: That’s kind of what I’ve thought all along. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

Chris Novak: Welp, here comes John Cena. And… okay, this really is kind of corny. And now I take that back because Cena just drank someone’s beer.

And we have turned this up all the way to 11. My God. He challenged The Undertaker, and he is deriding him and his ego.

Robert O’Neill: This is gonna be a dumb trainwreck but sure it’s Wrestlemania! Why not!

Chris Novak: Alright then. We’re getting a tag team battle royal later. So it won’t be a multi-tag match. This seems destined for the Kickoff Show anyway though.

Robert O’Neill: Time for Balor v. Rollins. This will be fun!

Chris Novak: Can confirm that was fun! A great flash pin there to end it. Seth was looking for the Superplex into a Falcon Arrow. Finn, instead, locked him up and pulled him into an inside cradle. Very well done, and it was put together very well.

Robert O’Neill: It’s cool that they’re giving the women an equivalent to the Andre Battle Royal at Wrestlemania but naming it after The Fabulous Moolah is problematic.

Chris Novak: Blech. Not a fan of Alexa’s character here. And that was… eh, kinda stupid.

Robert O’Neill: Yeeeeeeah that’s two straight weeks Alexa has been casually racist. I would think it was WWE being satirical of middle and upper class white women, but come on. You know it’s not.

Isaw someone tweet this last week but I don’t remember who. Do you think it’s cooler that Asuka’s streak has long matches that she has to fight to win as opposed to Goldberg’s streak of squashes?

Chris Novak: I do, actually. It makes things more competitive and enticing. Anyways, neat match. The crowd stunk during it. Here comes Nia, who’ll be in action against...somebody! Probably a local talent.

Alright so I am not entirely sure what to think of that segment. BUT… Nia as a babyface will probably own. And own very hard. Lex done screwed up.

Robert O’Neill: So they pretty much did the Triple H/Batista set-up from Wrestlemania 21. Between this feud going this way, and Bayley/Sasha mirroring Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio, someone has been watching their 2005 WWE!

Chris Novak: Stole that concept for a tweet, Rob. Hope it’s OK. Anyways, onto… Ultimate Deletion preview. OKAY THIS MIGHT BE GOOD! They seem to have taken all the fun wrinkles from the Final Deletion. Crying laughing at the referee asking Kurt if he did anything wrong after he requested he go to the Compound.

Robert O’Neill: TOP GUYS WATCH: They’re in the tag team battle royal for a shot at the tag team titles at Wrestlemania! This is exciting and quite frankly I like their cha- OH SHIT BRAUN IS IN THIS BY HIMSELF

Quick Results

  • Sasha Banks d. Sonya Deville
  • Finn Balor d. Seth Rollins
  • Asuka d. Mickie James
  • Nia Jax d. Jobber
  • Braun Strowman d. The Club, The Miztourage, The Revival, Titus Worldwide, and Slater/Rhyno to become the #1 contender for the Raw Tag Team Titles

Final Thoughts

Chris Novak: Another show where, I think, the matches weren’t really standouts. BUT… they did a great job of setting everything up (again). The Roman-Brock stuff was very goo. Braun was fun as all hell in the battle royal. The IC Title stuff was great. And I’m (still) really loving the Sasha-Bayley developments. B+ for me for RAW.

Robert O’Neill: They’re doing exactly what they need to be doing with Roman/Brock, and it rightfully trumps everything else that happened in this show. Sure, Braun winning the tag team battle royal without a partner is cool and the Intercontinental Title stuff is exciting, but Roman’s THE GUY, and it continues to show. I also liked all of the storytelling with the women, despite Alexa’s casual racism. Hell, I’m even excited (I guess) for Final Deletion. In all, though, I enjoyed the show a lot. B+

Robert O’Neill: Time for Smackdown! We lead off with an AJ Styles promo, which seems like it’s happened a LOT in the past few weeks.

Chris Novak: So, Nakamura comes out, they do a bit, and it worked for me. I mean, we’re obviously just brewing here. So it’s going to go full throttle at some point later on. Here comes Rusev, who apparently will be facing AJ Styles. Hey, who says SDL is a bad show? This has been a great start.

Okay, so, that was a pretty good start. Rusev gets protection against the WWE Champion. I dug the fact that Nakamura didn’t IMMEDIATELY dart to save Styles. And why should he? He’s his opponent at WrestleMania. He wants the WWE Championship. Apart from doing the “honorable” thing, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t want an edge in the match. So far, so good here.

Robert O’Neill: Rusev is gonna be champion at some point. Maybe he’ll go to Raw and win it, but it’s going to happen.

Chris Novak: I’d settle for another US Title run for Rusev at this point.

Robert O’Neill: The New Day and The Usos have a mutual enemy now in the Bludgeon Brothers, so they’re going to join forces. Neat!

Chris Novak: And it makes a lot of sense too!! The New Day and The Usos had a mutual respect going on. Now, after getting flattened by the Bludgeon Brothers, the next step for them is to obviously pair up and face them. This is really strong stuff, IMO.

So, now Styles goes through the back and says he doesn’t need Nak’s help. Nak claims he did (strong claim) and said he would help him all the way up until WrestleMania. Don’t mind this at all.

Okay, so the usage of these hammers or mallets, whatever you want to call them, is absolutely insane. Really fun match (again). The Bludgeon Brothers (unsurprisingly) get the victory, and it helps to keep them as strong as humanly possible.

Robert O’Neill: Bludgeon Brothers have a badass theme. The hammers are dumb, but it’s alright! As a longtime Luke Harper fan, I’m glad he’s in a prominent role yet again.

Chris Novak: Sami interview. Zayn says he blames Shane McMahon, but he also blames Kevin Owens for what happened as well. He runs down Owens, and says that Shane’s obsession with Owens was the reason he was at ringside, and that KO is at fault here. Woo. Spicy.

Charlotte comes out. Says she’s always ready for a challenge, and now here comes Asuka. Pretty effective stuff here. Nothing too overblown, but it definitely started to sell this match.

Robert O’Neill: Yup. Looking forward to the leadup to this match.

Chris Novak: Now, here comes Orton. Says he’s been called a lot of things, but never US Champion. Also notes that he’s now a Grand Slam Champ, and that the title’s his now. Bob Roode then comes out. He says he’s going to cash in his rematch at WrestleMania! Fun. Here comes Jinder, who is up to his antagonizing ways. He then goes on to face Bob Roode in what was a pretty good match. Jinder then beat Bob Roode but then ate an RKO. All around, pretty effective stuff. Even if it’s not your cup of tea.

Robert O’Neill: It’s not my cup of tea. But yeah it was fine!

Chris Novak: Here comes Owens, who is VERY mad that Sami said it was his fault. Owens says he knows Sami couldn’t get it done on his own, calls him a liar and a manipulator and said if he wasn’t so delusional, then he would see that Owens is the rightful champ. He’s not though, because of Shane.

Here comes Naomi, who’s facing Carmella. Hey, this will be a fine usage of the women.

Robert O’Neill: This is fine. It’s a nice change from the Riott Squad. I like Carmella quite a bit.

Chris Novak: That was certainly just a fine, OK match. Alright, here comes Shane. He’s already out of breath, so we’ve got that going for us. He announces he’s taking an indefinite leave of absence. And he’s also announced Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens for WrestleMania!

And here comes Owens and Zayn and… oh, they’ve set him up! They set Shane up! Holy shit, Shane’s selling was bonkers, and he took two big bumps with his throat getting crushed by a chair and then took a powerbomb on a crate. That was nuts.

Robert O’Neill: Say what you want about Shane McMahon, but he’s certifiably insane. This is just the most recent example of that. Holy crap.

Quick Results

  • AJ Styles d. Rusev (via DQ)
  • Bludgeon Brothers d. Big E/Jimmy Uso
  • Jinder Mahal d. Bobby Roode
  • Carmella d. Naomi

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: As usual, I’m approaching Smackdown with a more optimistic view than most, but I enjoyed it. Styles and Rusev put on a good match, teaming Big E and Jimmy Uso was genius, the US Title stuff continues to have direction, and they took the women in a new direction thanks to the upcoming battle royal. Everything felt fresh. There was still Owens/Zayn/Shane stuff, but even THAT has been taken to an entirely new level. The road to Wrestlemania is off to a good start. B.

Chris Novak: Very much enjoyed SmackDown tonight. There was plenty of great stuff here, and everything seemed to serve a purpose (for once). They seemed to have found their groove again, which is great for everyone involved going forward. Little disappointed that there was no sign of The Riott Squad after what happened on Sunday, but I’ll assume they’ll turn up again next week. Anyways, this was a very good show. Not an A-worthy show yet… but I’ll give them a B+ again.

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