This Week in WWE: El Idolo arrives, Nakamura-Styles have their best match so far in WWE
Robert O’Neill: Time for another edition of Monday Night Raw! This week we have a taped show (which I've never liked, but I obviously understand it since they're in London) and I have bronchitis so we should have ourselves an interesting show!
Chris Novak: Get better, Rob. Anyways, we’re set to “find out” what happened between Nia and Rousey later! ...Just go here, folks. Anyways, now that I’m done plugging my article, here comes Roman Reigns. The reaction seems subdued. Gee, I wonder why. Roman says that if Jinder wants to be “more relevant than he has in his entire career,” then he should come out to his yard right now. Counterpoint: Jinder was WWE Champion more recently than Roman was a champ. Anyhow, Kurt Angle comes out instead.
Robert O'Neill: We really don't need to relive the summer of Jinder and Randy though!
Chris Novak: So we’re doing this Roman vs. Management thing. And, it’s bad! And now Kurt says he got a phone call, and he was essentially reprimanded by “management” (aka Stephanie, it sure sounds). He says tonight, Jinder will be in a match against Elias and Bobby Lashley in a MITB qualifier. Roman wants in, but Kurt says management said no. I mean, yeah. He lost last week. Why would it make sense to give him an opportunity again? So Roman says he gets it, and now he’s going to do what he has to do. Reigns goes in the back, looks around, wants to know where Jinder’s at. And he finds him and a brawl ensues. Jinder getting cheers for this is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Reigns hits him with a Superman Punch on the stage and then walks away. So, there’s your opening segment.
Robert O’Neill: It’s still pretty wild that the way WWE is going to endear Roman to the crowd finally is to have him feud with Jinder. Like… That’s not gonna work.
Chris Novak: Time for Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens for the IC Title. Seth issued another open challenge over the weekend, and Owens responded via social media. So, off we go. Let’s see if Rollins’ heater can continue. So far, so good. Rollins hit a crazy Falcon Arrow onto the apron (#HardestPartOfTheRing) and then hit back-to-back suicide dives on Owens. So, he’s still on his A-game. Later, Owens hits a Fisherman-buster suplex, but then Rollins goes out of the ring. Owens gets him back in, but Seth hits the Stomp! 1-2-3, and Seth retains. Another terrific match for Seth, and another great IC Title Match. They are doing their damnedest to make that title important, and they’re sure succeeding.
Robert O’Neill: All the “fighting champion” stuff with regards to Rollins can’t be a coincidence, right? They’re planning to have him face Lesnar, right?
Chris Novak: You have to hope. Anyways, they showed the Nia-Ronda setup. Is it just me or could Charlotte have come off any lamer in that bit? Also that was very much the friendliest challenge ever.
Robert O’Neill: I’m a big Rousey fan AND have Money in the Bank tickets and even I’m not excited about this match.
Chris Novak: I mean, why should you be? On to the next MITB qualifier, between Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin and No Way Jose. That is certainly a trio.
Robert O’Neill: I talked about this on the Ruthless Aggression Podcast this week, but they’re handling these MITB qualifiers in the stupidest possible way. Like, after this match Raw will have one spot left. There’s a full month until the pay-per-view. What are they gonna do for that time?
Chris Novak: And that spot’s being decided later tonight! Anyways, Bob Roode won a pretty fun match here, I’ll say. Corbin was solid in a multi-man match again, and NWJ was good as well. We go backstage now. Kevin Owens wants a rematch. He seems desperate. Kurt won’t give in, so Owens pulls the “I’m going to call Stephanie” card. I guess this has to be used against him constantly after what happened at WrestleMania. Then Kurt goes in and Jinder is hurt. He wants the match postponed, but when Angle says it won’t be, Jinder says he’ll fight through whatever. Awfully sympathetic of them here.
Chris Novak: So the B-Team faces Breezango here next. After a not-so-lengthy match and some decent tag action, they win after a back suplex/neckbreaker combo. Honestly, good for them. They’ve both raised their games recently and they’re both not too bad either! And most of all, they’ve both been hilariously entertaining.
Robert O’Neill: I don’t mind them at all. The Raw tag division is a giant mess anyway, so what does it matter?
Chris Novak: Next up, six-woman tag match. The Riott Squad faces off with Ember, Natalya and Sasha Banks. There wasn’t much to this match, other than it being pretty solid. Nattie won after making Liv Morgan tap out to the Sharpshooter. They’re heating her up here, so I won’t be surprised when she wins her qualifier next week to get into MITB.
Chris Novak: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt beat The Revival in a non-title tag team match. It was what it was. Not much else to say about the tag division except, “Hey, at least they’re getting reps.”
Robert O’Neill: TOP GUYS WATCH!!!! At least they were on Raw? I guess? Sure?
Chris Novak: More than they can say about AOP.
Robert O’Neill: So, Sami Zayn is gonna face Bobby Lashley at some point soon I guess? That’s… fine.
Chris Novak: Somehow I don’t think this ends well.
Robert O’Neill: Alexa Bliss and Mickie James and Bayley are here for their triple threat MITB qualifier, and after a pretty good match, Bliss wins. That makes sense, she’s looking to get the title back and they’ll either have Bayley and Sasha in some last chance thing to continue their underlying feud or they’ll do something else at the event.
Chris Novak: Because God forbid they have Alexa pin Mickie James, who draws the same reactions that you or I would on any given night, right? They just HAD to have Alexa pin Bayley AGAIN, right? Okay, but anyways, Alexa winning is fine. People are complaining about it, but it’s fine. Will be humorous to see how she takes a bump though. I have NO IDEA what they’re doing with Bayley or Sasha at this point. And to be honest, it’s looking likely that neither will be in the MITB match. The next qualifier is going to be Natalya vs. Liv vs. Sarah (who the hell thought that was a good idea to have the same type of match two weeks in a row, with two people as ‘allies’ -- Alexa/Mickie one week, Liv/Sarah another -- against a babyface) and I reckon they’re going to have Nattie win that. Then there’ll be some kind of last chance match, and with two babyfaces accounted for (Ember, Natalya) they’ll pick a heel (likely Ruby). So, I don’t know what either of those two will be doing. I do know that there’ll probably be some complaining about that though. Justified? Perhaps.
Robert O’Neill: Braun Strowman and Finn Balor lost to Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler in a tag match as they continue to make Ziggler actually seem entertaining and captivating. Balor ate the pin as Braun was distracted on the outside. It’s kind of interesting how they’ve had him in so many tag matches of late.
Chris Novak: Apparently them going through the trophy outside wasn’t planned. The more you know.
Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! Another triple threat as Elias, Lashley, and Owens are battling for Raw’s last MITB spot. After a good back and forth match, Elias stopped to deliver a concert, which was excellent. After that ended, Zayn came down and took out Lashley, allowing Owens to pin Elias for the win!
Chris Novak: Totally fine with this result, to be honest. Not much else to really add. Sami costing Lashley the match was fine. Bummed that Elias has nothing to do again though.
Robert O’Neill: Raw was fine. Like I said, it was taped and I was under the weather, so my interest was always going to be a bit skewed, but I enjoyed the show overall, despite the fact that I’m not pleased that all four men’s MITB spots are already claimed. Regardless. C+
Chris Novak: Yeah, this was a perfectly inoffensive show, but didn’t really do much for me. C+ for me as well.
Robert O’Neill: Well, Raw was… something. Time for Smackdown!
Chris Novak: London is the site again for SD as the European tour is winding down.
Robert O’Neill: Shinsuke and Styles are in the main event in a non-title match to decide the MITB stipulation. That’s fine.
Chris Novak: Totally fine with that.
Robert O’Neill: Daniel Bryan is opening the show. The fans like him. Big surprise!
Chris Novak: And here comes Big Cass. Cass says that he disagrees with Renee that Rusev was his first setback, and that he was instead. That he was the reason he lost to Rusev, and that he’s the reason he keeps losing and will ensure he won’t achieve his dreams and aspirations. Cass says some stuff about how Bryan should’ve stayed retired and how he should be a stay at home dad. Bryan responds by beating the crap out of Cass and putting him in a heel hook. So, Bryan comes off like a badass here. Cass kind of deserves these beatings he’s getting for being that much of a jackass, I suppose.
Robert O’Neill: The Bar and New Day are in the first match here, with a member of the winning team competing in the Money in the Bank match. It was a good match, unsurprisingly. New Day won, and i have to imagine it’ll be Big E going into the ladder match
Chris Novak: That would be my bet and would definitely be the best bet.
Robert O’Neill: We get a Bludgeon Brothers vignette, which, hey, nice to see them! Followed by Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville mouthing off to Paige and getting a MITB qualifying match out of it. A triple-threat match against Becky Lynch!
Chris Novak: I have my reservations. OK, time to shut up. Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega have arrived on SmackDown Live.
Robert O’Neill: He beat a local wrestler and she cut a scathing promo after. Heroes.
Chris Novak: I will be irrationally angry if these two don’t succeed on the main roster.
Robert O’Neill: Alright. The Royal Mellabration was INCREDIBLE.
Chris Novak: She got a proper introduction, moonwalked in heels and shot on the Royal Family. Is there anything Mella won’t touch on? She continues to excel in these spots. Paige then comes out to a very nice home country pop. She then announces that Carmella will face Asuka at MITB. Well, I guess that will certainly be a match to watch.
Robert O’Neill: The Royal Family is actually bad, so I don’t really blame her for taking that route. Anyways, Becky Lynch won that aforementioned triple threat match which was probably for the best, no disrespect to Sonya or Mandy.
Chris Novak: I can’t believe she actually won. It’s about time that she wins something. Maybe she’l win Money in the… I’m not getting ahead of myself.
Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are facing off to determine their Money in the Bank stipulation, and this was probably their best match yet! So that’s promising, each match gets better and better. Nakamura gets the victory after faking a low blow, and then hitting a Kinshasa. He didn’t announce the stipulation.
Chris Novak: This was the best Nakamura-Styles match of this series so far. A legit banger. Really enjoyed this one a lot. Thought Nak was going to low blow Styles but they structured that end sequence very well. Wonder what Nak will pick for the stip. Leading candidate is Roshambo.
Robert O’Neill: Much like Raw, Smackdown was fine. At least they aren’t all out of MITB spots yet. Excited for them to get back stateside. B-
Chris Novak: SmackDown Live was considerably better than Raw again. That’s been the theme since Mania, and it’ll probably continue that way next week, too. B for SDLive, boosted by the legit great Nak-Styles match, and no real low points.