This Week in WWE: One Last Stop Before Extreme Rules

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Chris Novak: Raw is emanating from my home state of New Jersey. No, I’m not there, and neither are my parents. Not sure which one I feel more ashamed of. Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins vs. Andrade and Zelina Vega is happening right out of the gate. Hey, that’s my kind of jam. 

Robert O’Neill: Ya know, that was a fun match. Rollins and Becky won but Seth almost dropped the ball after he was distracted by Andrade making inadvertent contact with Becky. I actually really like that. While I have mixed feelings about the Becky/Seth pairing, I think it’s pretty good way to build this up. Corbin and Lacey attacked from behind after the match. And then Paul Heyman came out! Will Brock Lesnar cash in?

Chris Novak: He will not? But Sunday? I doubt it but Paul Heyman spun a yarn about how Extreme Rules in Philadelphia would be a fitting place. Because, yknow, ECW, Philly, yeah. You get it. 

Robert O’Neill: Heyman says Brock will cash in Sunday! Or maybe not. Maybe he’s lying. Who knows!

We move onto a ⅔ falls 6-man tag between the Miz/Usos and Elias/Revival. IT’s gonna be good but the forced stipulation is stupid. Just have the match during commercials. It was fine for years, it’s fine now.

Chris Novak: It was forced… but once again, like the mixed tag match at the start of the show, the match was really good. The babyfaces picked up the win. Seems to setup the fact The Revival will retain on Sunday, which is a good thing. Oh yeah, that’s happening! Extreme Rules is looking fun.

There will be a Beat The Clock Challenge later between Bayley and Nikki Cross, who’s subbing in tonight for an ill Alexa Bliss. The winner of the challenge picks the stipulation for Sunday. Uh oh.

Robert O’Neill: 24-7 Champion Drake Maverick is here, along with his wife! He’s going to retain his title tonight AND consummate his marriage. Good luck, pal.

Chris Novak: So Rey Mysterio’s out here for his open challenge. Bobby Lashley comes out and answers it, and makes quick work of him. Post-match, he beats him down more and threw him into some officials. Essentially, I guess, this was more a vehicle for Lashley than Mysterio. Which… makes sense, since Rey’s not doing anything at the PPV. 

AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were backstage. Charly Caruso tried to get a word, but he said that he didn’t owe anyone an explanation.

Robert O’Neill: We keep rolling right along as Cesaro faces off with No Way Jose, after their match was unable to get underway last week. CEsaro wins in pretty short order but NWJ got some solid work in. This might be a fine mini-feud? 

The Street Profits are back!

Chris Novak: They cut a fun promo hyping up the Taker-Roman/Shane-Drew match this week. It was very entertaining and very Street Profits in the best way.

Mike and Maria were backstage after the mess that happened last week. Maria said she wanted “ice cream and pickles” at the end of the segment, so off Mike went to get it. 

Now we have a back and forth between Bayley and Nikki Cross before the Beat The Clock Challenge they have later tonight. It was the typical banter. We learned that Bayley will face Sarah Logan and Nikki Cross will face Dana Brooke. Hey, that’s awesome! More people getting burn is NEVER a problem with me.

Robert O’Neill: R-Truth is looking for Drake Maverick and also sings Jeff Jarrett’s 1996 smash hit “With My Baby Tonight” 

What a segment.

The Viking Raiders are in action against Colin and Devin Justin 

Chris Novak: The Viking Raiders promptly squashed them. There was some interjection with the 24/7 gaggle, but nothing came to pass besides the Raiders dropping Hawkins and Ryder. Truth got in, was intimidated and then ran off. 

Ricochet vs. Luke Gallows is next. This was pretty fun! Ricochet got beaten down for much of the match. However, Ricochet wormed his way into victory. Styles then brought Karl Anderson into the fold, as he’ll be facing him after this commercial break! Ricochet won that match also, and then after the match, AJ Styles jumped in the ring and started beating him down. Gallows got in on it as well. Styles hit him with a Brainbuster, and then Anderson and Gallows hit RIcochet with a Magic Killer. Then Styles teased yet another Styles Clash from the second rope, but threw him down on the mat instead.

Ricochet wasn’t quite done though because he got up. Gallows and Anderson got in and held him up, and Styles hit him with the Phenomenal Forearm. 

Effective stuff here with Anderson and Gallows not looking too weak in defeat and still appearing menacing enough to look like a legit threat. 

Robert O’Neill: That was simple and effective. Ricochet will probably retain Sunday, bu he may want to find some friends at some point to counteract these three.

Drake Maverick has escaped the mob and made it back to his wife. They’re ready to go, but Truth pops out of a crate. Carmella pops out of another crate and instructs Truth to attack, and they chase after Drake!

Bayley vs. Sarah Logan is the first Beat The Clock match. Sarah looked pretty good in her first match in a while, but Bayley got the win with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb at 4:32. Nikki Cross vs. Dana Brooke is up immediately after. 

Chris Novak: Dana is dusted in short order by Nikki. She invites Bayley into the ring and informs her that Sunday will now be a Handicap Match for the SmackDown Live Women’s championship. But what was interesting was the dialogue after that announcement. Nikki told her that she doesn’t know what a loyal friend is and that she should go and find a friend. Um… well… y’know… there’s this one girl…

Robert O’Neill: Intrigue!

It’s time for the main events. Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon against Roman Reigns and Gary “The Janitor” Garbutt.

They take Roman out early on and Gary has to come in, and, what do you know, he can work! He hits some nice looking flips and other aerial maneuvers before getting hit with a Claymore and losing the match. As Mike Rome announces Drew and Shane as the winners, Gary unmasks and he’s Cedric Alexander! Hey that was fun. 

Chris Novak: I don’t understand why… you know, he lost, but whatever. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Well, that was a bit of a mess. It’s not that I hated Raw, it was just a downgrade from last week. The main event was weird, and the Mike and Maria stuff is kind of weird and not really for me? Other than that it did its job and got me ready for Extreme Rules, but I’m really just ready for Summerslam. C+

Chris Novak: I will actually be the high man on Raw this week? Surprising. I’m gonna go with a B-. Raw’s in need of some refreshing and the main event was definitely awkward. That being said, while this was a downgrade from last week, it was above middle of the road for me.

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Chris Novak: Last stop on the way to Extreme Rules. SmackDown Live’s in Manchester, New Hampshire. The show begins with Kayla Braxton interviewing Dolph Ziggler in the parking lot earlier today. I actually like them producing this segment this way. KO drives up behind him and honks his horn to effectively interrupt the segment. This eventually spills a bit out of control as the two fight in the parking lot! Dolph is sent inside but, apparently, KO is being sent home! So… that ends that match being a thing. 

Shane says it happened because things spilled out of control backstage. KO was the instigator, so that’s why he’s being sent home. Shane says he has a “few ideas” as to what the main event will be, and he tells Sarah Schreiber that he’ll circle back to her and us when he has to make that decision. 

Commentators run down the card for the night. That card includes Finn/Shinsuke… oh, okay. KO is still here actually. Owens runs Shane and the things he’s done down in what is a hell of a promo. 

Robert O’Neill: This was all in the first five minutes of the show! Wow. Lot going on. Also I’m 100% here for top babyface Kevin Owens. It’s gonna be a hell of a fun summer. 

Chris Novak: Owens basically says that everyone in the back, himself included, feels sick to their stomachs every time that Shane calls himself the “Best in the World.” He name drops quite the roster of people, including Bud Murph, Liv Morgan, Asuka, Kairi Sane and the whole lot. Shane came out to interrupt at one point here, and cut his mic off, but KO used another mic AND the headset. As security went to go after him, Owens hopped the barricade and stormed away. This was an awesome start to the show. 

Robert O’Neill: And now we move right along with Finn Balor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. First match for either guy in quite some time. Excited for this one.

Chris Novak: First match for Finn since Money in the Bank, first SDLive match for him since 5/14 and first singles match since 4/23. Additionally, the first match for Shinsuke in general since 4/23, too. 

Robert O’Neill: Unsurprisingly, it was pretty good! Shinsuke got the win after hitting multiple Kinshasas and looking very good. Perhaps these two will meet again Sunday? 

Chris Novak: Nak looked like a total beast in that match. I won’t be surprised if Finn-Nak gets added to the Extreme Rules card by the end of the week. 

We are going to have a contract signing for the SDLive Women’s Championship Match this Sunday. Hey! That’s pretty fun, right?

A video package highlighting the Kofi Kingston-Samoa Joe feud plays. It’s predictably very good. Joe then comes on screen afterwards and talks some shit. So, pretty much, what you’d expect. 

Robert O’Neill: Nikki Cross is here for a contract signing with Bayley for their match on Sunday. Alexa isn’t around because she’s sick. 

Chris Novak: These two pretty much hit all the proper notes here. Bayley talked about her early years in NXT and how she was often manipulated but eventually grew into her own. Nikki says she’s tired of Bayley trying to drive a wedge between the two of them, and claims they’ll be co-champions if they win on Sunday. Somehow… I don’t see that in the cards. But alas, it’s time for Nikki Cross to face Carmella. 

Robert O’Neill: Nikki gets the victory with the swinging neckbreaker after a good back and forth match and then stares down Bayley. This is a really good story they’re telling. 

The Kabuki Warriors and Paige run into The IIconics backstage, and the Kabuki Warriors want the title shot they’re owed. Billie and Peyton say it can’t do tonight though because Billie has MadCowBirdFlu. Hilarious. 

Chris Novak: Hey, look at that. Advancement for the Women’s Tag Team Champions feud. I mean, hey, it’s better than nothing right? I liked this tease though and, obviously, Billie’s “disease” was hilarious.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the Tag Team Summit!

Chris Novak: This all eventually bellowed into a Triple Threat Match between Bryan, Otis and Xavier. And it absolutely ruled. Otis picked up the win after hitting a Pop-Up Slam on Woods. They teased the fact that if that happens on Sunday, then Bryan and Rowan will lose the title. Elementary stuff here, and it all really worked. The match was just outstanding. 

Robert O’Neill: Wow. This match was so good. Something about Smackdown multi-man matches, man. Really excited for the tag match on Sunday!

Chris Novak: Mandy and Sonya bullied Ember Moon in the back again. They seemed to challenge Ember to go find a tag team partner so that she could face them both. I KNOW SOMEONE WHO SHE COULD PICK! 

Another really great Ali vignette aired. I’m a big fan of these and this one was another real good one.

Aleister Black’s opponent has been revealed and it is… Cesaro! So this match should totally fucking rock on Sunday. It’s also #WWETop25 approved. Wink, wink. 

Robert O’Neill: The main event has arrived! Roman Reigns is taking on Dolph Ziggler. 

Chris Novak: This should be pretty decent, if both bring their working boots. And so they did. There was a real hot finish here. Everyone got involved at ringside. Reigns went way over the top rope for a dive on everyone. He was then superkicked by Ziggler. Shane got into the ring to talk some trash, but Kevin Owens reappeared and hit him with a Stunner. Reigns and Dolph got back into the ring, and Roman hit him with a Spear to win the matchup at the horn.

Robert O’Neill: *Clears throat* OWENS GOT MCMAHON! OWENS GOT MCMAHON!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: This show ruled. There was very good action, good storyline advancement and no low points. This was the best SmackDown in some time, which admittedly has been a low bar to clear. But everything flowed really well here. Maybe they realized how stupid the Elimination and ⅔ Falls Matches are, maybe I’ll regret saying that in a week. Whatever the case, this was a great show to tee up Extreme Rules. A-

Robert O’Neill: I didn’t love Smackdown last week, but they definitely bounced back this week. I loved this from wall to wall, and it has me really excited for Extreme Rules. It was nice seeing Roman Reigns back in action, and Aleister Black vs. Cesaro should be a ton of fun. A- here as well.