This Week in WWE: Premiere Week!

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Chris Novak: We have reached a new frontier in the world of wrestling, and it kicks off with this episode of Monday Night Raw. We’ve got a new set, PYRO, FIRE, ETC.! It’s all happening! Loaded Raw tonight, and we’re getting it going now. 

Rey Mysterio is here to start the show! We’re not starting off with the title match, but it would appear that we’re beginning with an in-ring promo. So, that’s fun! 

Oh. What’s NOT fun, for Rey at least, is that Brock Lesnar has arrived! And he just F-5’ed Rey Mysterio! Had to figure that someone was going to get after Rey at some point, but obviously the thought was that it was going to be The Fiend. It, however, is Brock instead! And then Brock went after Dominick, Rey’s son, throwing him hard into the post before tossing him down hard on the floor. He then tossed Dominick into the ring, and suplexed the SHIT out of him.

Robert O’Neill: Oh my lord. That was 2003 Lesnar stuff right there. Just demolishing every thing and everyone that gets in his way. What a damn segment. One of the hottest opens to Raw in a while.

And we’re gonna just keep on rolling, as Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks face off RIGHT NOW. Will they work snug? Will people make a big deal about it? Probably! Becky Lynch is also here and on commentary.

Chris Novak: None of the above happened, which I’m sure Stan Twitter is in shambles about. Alexa took a loss via the hook of the trunks by Sasha after she kicked at her (previously injured) knee. Went a little bit short, but if it told an effective story (which it did, within the confines of this match) then I’m cool with it. And, I was! Surprisingly enough. 

Robert O’Neill: I thought it was too short, but also both of them have different things to do this weekend, so like… there’s only so much time you can give a secondary feud for each one. If this even IS a secondary feud. Also Alexa has pyro now. 

Chris Novak: Which is cool! They also got about seven minutes. For a TV match, that’s fine. Not everything has to go long for it to be effective. And it was effective. 

Robert O’Neill: Heavy Machinery is here and they’re facing Bob Roode and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Team Titles! 

Chris Novak: Roode and Ziggler retained after what was a lengthy-ish match. This was alright. As always, Otis stood out amongst the pack because he’s insanely likable and fun to watch. No idea when Dolph and Bobert are going to drop the titles or to whom, but I’m still not super keen on them. Maybe they’ll impress me down the road. 

Robert O’Neill: Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan are on MizTV, unfortunately. We’re not gonna watch this part.

Apparently they’re doing a Team Hogan vs. Team Flair match at Crown Jewel 2 aka Spooky Sands of Time aka the Saudi Arabian Halloween Spooktacular. Seth is Team Hogan, Randy Orton is Team Flair. Alright cool whatever. Didn’t watch this. Won’t watch that show. 

Chris Novak: What he said. 

Rusev, who saved Seth from a worse fate in the previous segment, says Seth owes him one now and challenges him for a Universal Championship Match tonight. Well, that could be fun.

Robert O’Neill: The Viking Raiders, a team named after teams the Chicago Bears will defeat in back to back weeks, faced The OC, and the match was quite fun. I’m on the record of liking both of these teams quite a bit. Vikings win and keep the momentum going.

Chris Novak: Hopefully this all leads to something.

Cesaro and Ricochet have a confrontation backstage. This is leading to a match between them. Alright, can’t find it in myself to complain about that. That’s for sure. This was a fun but short match, which isn’t the worst thing in the world of course. Ricochet picked up the win after hitting a freaking West Coast Pop. 

Firefly Funhouse is next.

Robert O’Neill: It was entertaining as usual. Take a look! 

The US Title is on the line as Cedric Alexander takes on AJ Styles! 

Chris Novak: Styles won to retain the title, which is something I wasn’t quite expecting. But the match was quite good. The best of their series thus far. Cedric looked competitive and competent in defeat. Nevertheless, we keep it moving here. Wondering where Ceddy goes from here but this is total Heyman booking, so it’s not surprising that he continues to get beat up.

Robert O’Neill: Lacey Evans defeated Natalya, in a match that was… certainly a match. Not much more to it.

Chris Novak: Let’s leave that where it is. 

Paul Heyman cut a spirited promo about how he was not to blame for Brock Lesnar’s actions earlier this evening, but rather WWE is for scheduling Brock while he was in fight mode. He closes by saying that Brock is going to beat Kofi on Friday night. 

Robert O’Neill: Charly interviews Maria about Rusev, and Maria says Rusev isn’t the father of her child and storms off, then Sasha Banks grabs the mic from Charly and says she’s not scared of Becky and she’ll win the title on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a limo pulls up and we go to commercial. 

Chris Novak: WHO’S IN THE LIMO!??!?!? God I love a good limousine tease. Haven’t had one of those in a while! 

Rusev vs. Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship is next! Corbin and Orton are hanging around after what happened earlier on in the show. 

Robert O’Neill: Well, that was certainly something. The match ended up as a no contest because Bobby Lashley came out with Lana, and they passionately made out, distracting Rusev. Then, The Fiend came for Seth.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Raw was… fine? It didn’t really do much for me after the first hour, but maybe my expectations were unrealistic just because they were billing it as a big show. I would have preferred if they saved the Flair/Hogan stuff for next week and built towards Hell in a Cell (which currently has three matches on the card as of Monday) instead of wasting 30 minutes. Hopefully next week is better. C

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Chris Novak: Welp… let’s kick this off, shall we? Adam Cole is defending his NXT Championship against Matt Riddle to START this show. So, we’re definitely going off and running. And oh my goodness, what a match this was. Cole retained the NXT Championship after dropping Riddle with the Last Shot. This match was totally insane. Full of fun spots and counters without too much outside nonsense. This was terrific in just about every way.

Robert O’Neill: Holy crap what a match. That was everything I wanted it to be and more.Cole is celebrating in the ring when FINN BALOR comes out! And he has a microphone! And he says he’s back in NXT! Wow! 

Chris Novak: Holy shit!!! I was ABSOLUTELY not expecting that one at all. That’s a HEAVY shot that H-Man took, and possibly one of the heaviest they could bust out. Good God, that is a power move.

Robert O’Neill: Velveteen Dream is here, and he wants everyone to know he hasn’t forgotten about Rod Strong, and he’ll be getting his title back soon enough.

Now, Io Shirai is here for a match with Mia Yim. 

Chris Novak: It’s always good to see Io Shirai wrestle. And hey, that match was really fun! Io got the win after hitting her Moonsault on Mia Yim. Mia worked really well against Io here, which was nice to see after her unfortunate poor performance against Shayna at TakeOver last month. Was a big fan of this match. 

Robert O’Neill: Agree there. Was a bit down on Mia after that match in Toronto but this has me back on board.

A Tegan Nox injury return video plays, and then Johnny Gargano’s music hits. He’ll have a match against Shane Thorne. 

Chris Novak: Unsurprisingly, Gargano gets the W. There was never really a doubt about that at all. THis was a fun match though. I’m not Shane Thorne’s biggest fan, but this certainly was a very solid showing for him here. It’s almost impossible to have a bad match with Gargano, granted. But I liked what I saw from him here. Good W for Gargano in his first match since Toronto. 

Robert O’Neill: Time for Shayna vs. Candice. Really looking forward to this one. 

It definitely did not disappoint! Shayna got the win by submission after a back and forth match as the reign continues. Who will beat her? 

Chris Novak: That’s the $1 million question. I really enjoyed that match though. One of Candice’s best showings for sure, and was one of Shayna’s best showings in a couple months, as well. Who knows who’s gonna beat Shayna but… at least that match was really good.

Pete Dunne is out to face Danny Burch. The two Brits have a pretty solid TV matchup, which Dunne wins. Afterwards, he’s attacked by none other than Damian Priest! So Priest and Dunne are likely to feud, which I’m cool with. 

Robert O’Neill: I’m here for that. Big fan of both guys.

It’s time for the main event, and Wale is playing the Street Profits to the ring for their match with Kyle O’Reilly and Bob Fish. 

Chris Novak: Got damn, that match was crazy good. UE retained their championships after KOR and Bobby hit the Hi-Lo on Bobby Fish. Montez looked phenomenal in this one, naturally. Angelo did as well. You have to imagine this was probably their sendoff.

Roddy Strong, who provided an assist in this match, went in to celebrate with Fish and O’Reilly. Adam Cole then came out on the stage and hyped his boys up… … …

And then out came a returning TOMMASO CIAMPA!!

Robert O’Neill: I had a hunch that might be coming. Whew. He’s back and he wants what’s his. This will be something to follow.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Simply put, NXT was great. It’s quickly becoming the highlight of the weekly wrestling schedule, because every show since moving to NXT has felt like a Takeover. Where do they go from here? I can’t wait to see. A+

Chris Novak: This was a rather fantastic effort. I’ll give this show an A. The wrestling was stupendous from top to bottom. I need more storytelling here though and more angles. The Finn surprise helped provide a one, but that aspect really needs to get going.

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Chris Novak: This is the premiere episode of SmackDown on FOX. This is… every bit as surreal as we could’ve envisioned it from the start. Not sure when this is gonna stop feeling this way but, wow man. Wow. 

Robert O’Neill: Vince and Stephanie come out to introduce, well, the intro. And now we’re off and running with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks. Whew. Well, maybe not. Becky came out and was interrupted by King Corbin, who was promptly interrupted by THE ROCK 

Chris Novak: This was a terrific opening segment. The Rock used his typical wit and Becky threw in some great quips as well. Corbin wound up getting the beatdown, and was hit with the People’s Elbow. The crowd was absolutely absurd throughout this entire segment. All high marks here.

Four Horsewomen Tag is NEXT! 

Robert O’Neill: That was very fun. Everyone looked good, and Charlotte made Bayley tap. Perhaps she’ll get a match out of it for Hell in a Cell!

Chris Novak: That’s probably where this is going and this is probably what was always going to be the case honestly. So… whatever. Not mad about it. Let’s just go to Sunday with this.

Oh and ERIN ANDREWS just interviewed The New Day. Erin… Andrews. Seriously. 

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is next?! Cool! 

Robert O’Neill: Seth comes out first, but we get interrupted by Firefly Funhouse! 

The match ends up being cut short because THE FIEND shows up to scare Seth again. Sunday is going to be interesting.

Chris Novak: Extremely, extremely interesting. 

Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon in their Career vs. Career Ladder Match is next. Owens started the match off by cutting Greg Hamilton’s long-winded intro for Shane by going up the ramp to beat him up. Shane O’ then, later, did his usual deal where he hits an Elbow Drop off the top rope onto Owens, who was on the announce table.

After commercial, KO hit a Frog Splash on Shane through the ladder. Shane got the upper-hand, eventually, and then hit the Coast to Coast on Owens (with the ladder). 

Robert O’Neill: But that didn’t stop Owens! He eventually powerbombed Shane through a ladder and climbed up to retrieve the briefcase. He told Shane he was fired and hit a Stunner! Fun stuff. Smackdown suddenly needs a representative at the draft? Interesting. 

Chris Novak: I really, really enjoyed that match a lot honestly. Glad Shane is off TV for the foreseeable future. 

Robert O’Neill: Braun Strowman is here! And he’s tagging with Heavy Machinery and Miz against Randy Orton/AJ Styles/Bob Roode/Dolph Ziggler.

It gets out of control pretty quickly as everyone starts hitting their finishers right away, and Strowman pins Ziggler.

Chris Novak: But let’s not forget the biggest part here: There was a fease between Braun Strowman and heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury! What a spectacle that could be! 

Robert O’Neill: Roman Reigns is facing Rowan in a match that has become a lumberjack match. Hey, get people on TV! I like it. 

Chris Novak: This turned out to be a pretty fun match. As fun as a lumberjack match could be really. Roman wound up winning after hitting the Spear on Rowan. Bryan and Harper both got involved in the finish. Rather mapped out well and whatnot. Like the fact that they strategically got a lot of people on the show. 

Welp… here comes the pain. 

Robert O’Neill: Oh my god! The bell rang, Kofi ran at Brock, got caught, got hit with an F5, and that was it! New champion! 

But Rey Mysterio is here, and he’s not alone. He brought… CAIN VELASQUEZ with him! Wow. He gets in the ring and takes Brock down and starts punching him, and Lesnar retreats! What an ending. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: What a show. What a week of wrestling. Really loved Smackdown from start to finish. Credit to FOX for making the show feel like a spectacle. The ending was fun, but I’m a big Brock Lesnar fan. I understand why some might not be. Regardless, it’s an A+ here.

Chris Novak: Gonna give this a strong A-. Think everything was placed well but I won’t go A+ here. The decision at the end of the show will be debated for a long while, but let’s see what happens here before we fully make sweeping statements about it. Shall we? We won’t, but I will.