Posts tagged Bobby Lashley
Re-booking TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2018

Normally I wouldn’t do this for a B-show PPV in the middle of December, but the direction that things have been going in for the last couple of months has been pretty poor. In that case, I might as well have some fun with it. Here’s what this Sunday’s TLC PPV would look like if The Barber’s Chair booked it.

Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin - TLC Match

Source: WWE Network

Source: WWE Network

Assuming this match will still take place, the stipulation is as follows: If Strowman wins, he will receive a shot at Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship next month at the Royal Rumble, and Baron Corbin will be stripped of his GM-elect role. If Corbin wins, he will become Raw GM permanently.

What Should Happen: The Baron Corbin authority angle was fun to me in the beginning, even with Kurt Angle being placed on “vacation”. But it’s run its course (as with all authority angles), and this is where it ends. Braun Strowman wins.

What Will Likely Happen: Braun Strowman returns, makes quick work of GM-elect Baron Corbin, and a new GM will be announced on Monday. Hopefully we get a Brock Lesnar appearance as well.

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose - Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Dean Ambrose hasn’t competed on TV since the emotional night when he turned on his Shield brothers and attacked Seth Rollins two months ago. The heat has kind of cooled off on Ambrose since then, but it’s still fresh enough to pick it back up again.

What Should Happen: If the TLC match from this past Monday is indicative of anything, Seth Rollins should lose here due to one final power play from Baron Corbin. It wouldn’t make sense to have Rollins win two ladder matches in six days, but then again what has made sense on this show since October?

What Will Likely Happen: Seth Rollins may likely be considered the unanimous MVP over the course of 2018, and he doesn’t necessarily need the Intercontinental belt at this point. It would be wise to let Dean Ambrose go over in this one as Rollins (hopefully) transitions into Universal title contention over the next few months.

Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship

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Environmentalist Daniel Bryan aka The NEW Daniel Bryan might be the favorite WWE version of the former American Dragon. He also helps solidify my theory that tree-hugging vegans aren’t as nice of people that they think.

Bryan’s heel turn has done wonders to rejuvenate his career, and his WWE title run has been fun sp far. AJ Styles has consistently been one of the best workers in the company, and I can’t really name a bad match that he’s put on since debuting in the Federation three years ago. We all know what these two can bring, and I’d love to see them top the match they had on Smackdown a few weeks ago.

What Should Happen: For someone who was as beloved as Daniel Bryan was for the last five years, if you’re going to make him a villain, you have to go all out with it. To keep AJ Styles strong, have him win by DQ as Daniel Bryan goes crazy with a brutal attack as he further cements himself as the top dog on Tuesday nights.

What Will Likely Happen: I don’t know what’s in store for Daniel Bryan as we merge onto the Road to WrestleMania, but he’ll be WWE Champion for the good portion of that ride.

Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

After legitimately breaking Becky Lynch’s face and taking her out of Survivor Series, WWE’s used the incident to propel Nia Jax towards another battle with Ronda Rousey six months later. This is one of three matches I don’t really care about, but it will have some long term ramifications to it.

What Should Happen: Make no secret that I am Ronda Rousey’s #1 hater, but the honeymoon phase with her has long passed, and I can see myself eventually having some competition if Ronda isn’t booked as someone we should care about. Jax has been positioned similarly to how she was in NXT, albeit this time she’s been given more mic time, which is another factor to me not giving a shit about what goes on in this feud. Six months after their initial battle, Rousey now has a little more experience and should be able to command the battle better this go around. She needs to look good in victory.

What Will Likely Happen: I can honestly see them formulating the matchup the same exact way that it was done at Money in the Bank, this time with Rousey actually getting a chance to close it out. Either way, she’ll be walking into 2019 still the Raw Women’s Champion.

Asuka vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair - Triple Threat TLC Match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

This absolutely NEEDS to main event the show on Sunday night. (The Man) Becky Lynch has been incredible since winning the belt at Hell In A Cell, and her 2019 is already shaping up to be a great one if they book her the right way. Unfortunately, I see her dropping her title this weekend in one of two ways...

What Should Happen: Asuka started off the year strong by winning the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, but a loss to Charlotte at WrestleMania has derailed any momentum she had until just recently. Winning her first main roster championship would help her close out the year strong at a point when it seemed her WWE career was dead in the water.

As for Becky Lynch, this would give her the opportunity to jump ship to Monday nights, as we know that she has some business there waiting for her in the form of Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey. Perhaps a Royal Rumble win is in line?

What Will Likely Happen: Charlotte wins yet again *insert eye roll emoji*. Asuka has still yet to beat Charlotte one-on-one, and it’s likely that a Charlotte victory can build to a rematch in New Jersey this spring.

Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Bálor

This stat may be shocking if you haven’t paid attention, but Finn Bálor is undefeated in PPV singles matches since debuting on the main roster (6-0). Hopefully they play up this fact, as it’s something simple that can help the fans invest into this match even more.

What Should Happen: Can we get a Demon King appearance on this PPV? Drew Mac can surely afford a loss to THAT incarnation of Finn Balor.

What Will Likely Happen: WWE seems to have Bálor be the reliable stepping stone for others at this point in his career (not that that’s a bad thing), and I don’t expect anything different this go around as the Scottish Psychopath continues to run roughshod over the Raw roster. Drew McIntyre has asserted himself as a force on the red brand since his return in April, and now seems primed to reach the heights expected of him in 2009. A win here keeps him strong going into the Royal Rumble, as he can position himself as the favorite to win the annual classic.

The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bar for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

I just want to get one thing off of my chest before proceeding with this match preview: Why the FUCK is this not a TLC match or at least a ladder match?

With that being said, This is a sleeper for match of the night. We already know what The Usos and New Day can bring to the table, and The Bar has slowly crept up to legendary tag team status (I recently realized that they’re in their FIFTH title reign in only two years). Should be a great match that will possibly open the show.

What Should Happen: There hasn’t been a whole lot of heat with this feud, but it isn’t necessary when you have three great teams like this. The Bar have been on a good run here, but I can see WWE wanting The New Day to set a record of title reigns (plus I’m bias), and a win here would bring them that much closer.

What Will Likely Happen: Since The Bar stood tall on the go home show this past week, that usually spells doom come the PPV. The Smackdown Tag Team belts have been playing hot potato a bit this year, so it would be smart to stick with a team and build them into the new year.

Elias vs. Bobby Lashley - Guitar Ladder Match

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Before the main event of every PPV, there’s a moment where I go “Weren’t so and so supposed to wrestle?”, only to find out that match already happened on the pre-show. This is that match and I’ll probably never watch it.

What Should Happen: Bobby Lashley has been EXTREMELY lackluster since coming back to WWE. And while the partnership with Lio Rush had some potential early on, it’s very meh at this point. Have Rush pull a James Ellsworth and help win the match for Lashley, but have him receive his comeuppance post-match.

What Will Likely Happen: A likely pre-show main event, Elias wins to hype the crowd up for the main course.

Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy for the Cruiserweight Championship

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Aside from their boss having an R. Kelly fetish all of a sudden, the 205 Live guys have been getting a lot of shine the past couple months. This past Tuesday, Mustafa Ali had a fantastic match with the WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, and while typically being relegated to the pre-show in the past, the Cruiserweight title has been defended on the main show in two of the last three Network exclusive events. Hopefully that trend continues this Sunday night, and I expect Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander to shut the place down.

What Should Happen: Continuing on with my “Let all the black wrestlers win tonight” narrative, I’m going to choose Cedric Alexander for no other reason.

What Will Likely Happen: It’s awfully soon for Buddy Murphy to drop the title, and I see him continuing his run of dominance over the Cruiserweight division. Time for some new blood to step up and present a new challenge.

Natalya vs. Ruby Riott - Tables Match

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

I don’t typically like when real life deaths are included in a storyline, but I can understand why it’s done, especially when all those involved agree with it. However, I really don’t care about this feud and can’t wait for it to end this weekend.

What Should Happen: I don’t believe crowds are invested enough in these two women enough to have Ruby Riott win. Riott has antagonized Natalya over Jim Neidhart’s death this entire feud, so there’s really only one way to end this and that’s with the Hart family name standing tall.

What Will Likely Happen: Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon aren’t doing anything noteworthy this evening. Let them help Natalya even the odds

Fabulous Truth (R-Truth and Carmella) vs. Mahalicia (Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox) - Mixed Match Challenge Finals

R-Truth and Carmella’s chemistry has been a factor in building momentum for their run through the tournament. And while Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox have slowly but surely gotten on the same page, there are some kinks that still need to be worked out if they want to close strong. It was harder to get invested in this season of the Mixed Match Challenge as injuries and kayfabe write-offs didn’t help at all. At the end of it all, the two healthiest teams from each brand persevered, and now have a shot at coveted #30 position in their respective Royal Rumble matches.

What Should Happen: I always look forward to a surprise #30 entrant each year, but Dolph Ziggler’s overall performance this past year made it a little lackluster. So I guess I can lower my expectations for 2019 since I know neither of the two on the men’s side have a chance of winning. Although, there’s a bit more credibility with Jinder Mahal being a former world champion which you can go off of, rather than R-Truth who has been an amazing comedic act for years.

What Will Happen: We get a Royal Dance Break at #30 as Fabulous Truth comes out of this one victorious. Should be a no-brainer, but I can’t wait to see if Truth tries to enter the Women’s Royal Rumble.

Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton - Chairs Match

Source: WWE

Source: WWE

Sidenote: I was in the 8th grade when these two first feuded on Smackdown in 2005-06. Glad to see they can both haven’t lost a step since.

Rey Mysterio has only been back in WWE for about two months, but it’s like he never left. The chemistry that he and Orton have when working together is amazing, and they won’t disappoint on Sunday.

What Should Happen: Randy Orton has been on a tear since his heel turn at Extreme Rules, and it wouldn’t make much sense to have that randomly stop here. The Viper’s run of dominance should continue on.

What Will Likely Happen: It’s a toss up as to who WILL win this match, as they can go either way with it. However, Rey Mysterio will always be in a great position to recover after a loss (see Jeff Hardy at Hell In A Cell) to where it wouldn’t be an issue.

First Black Champ - Lars is a big dude that throws bricks
First Black Champ - "It's Hobo Shawn Michaels"

Saudi Arabia's relationship with the WWE is in flux, but it’s beyond the current controversy in the Middle East. DX returns… again, and Cam Quotes & JR Bang try to gauge when nostalgia won't work, no matter how much it's marketed, leading to a whole lot of old wrestler talk that bleeds into a conversation about the World Cup. Plus, why Bobby Lashley’s heel turn on RAW is a good thing, and how it should be done to make fans care. All that and more on this week’s #FirstBlackChamp Podcast!

Follow Cam Quotes: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang: @jrbang

First Black Champ: Celebrity Hell in a Cell

We're Back and Entertainment Beef is real! Find out who Cam and Bang want to have a Hell In A Cell match or a Chicago Street Fight anytime anywhere! We also talk our Extreme Rules predictions and come up with a FIRE angle for Bobby Lashley moving forward.

You'll get a lot of passion, prediction and we spark the conversation for inclusion for people of color behind the scenes in the world of Professional Wrestling on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

Follow Cam: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang: @jrbang

This Week in WWE: Top Guys on top and Becky Lynch's hot streak rolls on

Rob and Chris are here to deliver their thoughts on the first Raw and SmackDown episodes of the month of July. 

Robert O’Neill: Roman Reigns is here to open the show! I wonder what’s on his mind.

Chris Novak: Well, he wants to fight “Bob” Lashley. But instead, we get Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Earlier, we learned Dolph is facing Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules in a 30 Minute Ironman Match, which is a HELL of a thing. Dolph and Drew waste little time in putting the boots to Roman, but here comes Seth for the save!

Robert O’Neill: Hey that was fun! I imagine we’re gonna get a Seth/Roman vs. Drew/Dolph match at some point.  

Chris Novak: Rollins and Reigns run into Kurt Angle backstage, and demand they face Dolph and Drew. Angle, looking dumbfounded, says they’ll face them next week, because Roman and Bob Lashley are facing The Revival. However, Angle just snaps and changes the match to happen this week. What the hell is Kurt’s problem? Why is he so incompetent? Somehow I don’t see how this lasts for the rest of the night.

Robert O’Neill: Years of not taking care of his body. That’s how. Anyway, Matt Hardy is here for a match with Curtis Axel, who, along with Bo Dallas did a fantastic parody of Hardy and Bray Wyatt again before the match.

Chris Novak: At the same time, this feud is just… ice cold. And Bray Wyatt getting hurt (Bless him, and best wishes for a speedy recovery for him) doesn’t help matters here either. This match is fine so far, but Lord, we couldn’t do Bo vs. Matt tonight? I feel like I’m watching a rerun. Anyways the match itself was okay. Axel pinned Matt Hardy (again). That’s what this whole feud has been, so guess what’s going to happen at Extreme Rules?

Anyways, after commercial break, we’re getting our first segment of Bayley in counseling. There are many ways that this could go… hopefully it’s one of the successful ones.

Robert O’Neill: Before that though, we discover we’re getting Roman and Bob vs. The Revival and also Roman and Seth vs. Ziggler and McIntyre. How fun!

Chris Novak: Well, the first Bayley-Sasha counseling segment is in the books and… THAT’S DOCTOR SHELBY!!!

Robert O’Neill: My God, they actually did it.

Chris Novak: AOP are facing Titus Worldwide next. Can you guess what’s going to happen next?Robert O’Neill: Pain was authored.

Chris Novak: That’s correct, Rob.

Robert O’Neill: Time for Roman and Seth vs. Dolph and Drew. I’m ready for it.

Chris Novak: Roman is doing some heavy coughing, which is kinda gross to listen to on the ring mic. Anyways, this match has been outstanding so far. Seth, once again, is proving why he’s #1 in WWE this year and there really isn’t anyone close to him right now. They’re putting together so many unique spots and creative ways to try and set up the Roman hot tag. It’s actually wonderful. AND THAT’S THE REVIVAL!

Robert O’Neill: Well holy crap, they appear to be setting The Revival up for success. That’s excellent. Roman ate a Shatter Machine!

Chris Novak: Rob, remember when you thought… never mind, I won’t even rub it in. They looked spectacular here.

Robert O’Neill: Constable Corbin is in the ring and talking about how things went south with Finn Balor last week. Balor comes out and apologies and then they get into a fight. I guess this will be a match at Extreme Rules. That’s fine!

Chris Novak: Have to say again, I’m digging Corbin’s rebrand. They’ve put him in a role where he can succeed at being a gigantic dickhead.

Robert O’Neill: Liv Morgan is out for a match with Ember Moon. This is a cool usage of the two, as both aren’t near the title hunt, but can still have a match together. It was fun, too! Ember got the win, but Liv looked good.

Chris Novak: Liv has been really impressing lately. She’s improving REALLY quickly and I think there’s a lot of potential in her. Really dig her game, and not just cause I’m biased since she’s from New Jersey.

Robert O’Neill: Oh man. Another counseling segment. This time, Bayley and Sasha pretended to be the other one, and it was hilarious. These are great.

Chris Novak: Can I just say: Bayley’s been showing off a lot of comfort while talking lately, and a lot of personality also? Something that I’ve picked up on. I’m liking it a lot. This was funny, and I’m sure there’ll be people complaining about it, but it did its job.

Robert O’Neill: Liv Morgan is out for a match with Ember Moon. This is a cool usage of the two, as both aren’t near the title hunt, but can still have a match together. It was fun, too! Ember got the win, but Liv looked good.

Chris Novak: Liv has been really impressing lately. She’s improving REALLY quickly and I think there’s a lot of potential in her. Really dig her game, and not just cause I’m biased since she’s from New Jersey.

Robert O’Neill: Oh man. Another counseling segment. This time, Bayley and Sasha pretended to be the other one, and it was hilarious. These are great.

Chris Novak: Can I just say: Bayley’s been showing off a lot of comfort while talking lately, and a lot of personality also? Something that I’ve picked up on. I’m liking it a lot. This was funny, and I’m sure there’ll be people complaining about it, but it did its job.

Robert O’Neill: TOP GUYS WATCH! The Revival are out to face Roman Reigns and Bob Lashley! Let’s see how this plays out.

So the match went on, Roman refused to tag Lashley in throughout the night, he got pissed and came in on his own, but then left as The Revival started beating up Roman to the point where they got disqualified and gave him ANOTHER Shatter Machine. They look damn good tonight.  

Chris Novak: This is as good as they’ve looked on the main roster since they debuted and kicked The New Day off the territory. Hope this leads to something.

Robert O’Neill: Nia (with Natalya) beat Mickie (with Alexa). Whatever.

Chris Novak: Feud’s just kinda cold as ice at this point. Get me to Alexa-Ronda, already, please. Thank you.

Robert O’Neill: It’s time for the main event! Braun Strowman is taking on Kevin Owens, who has been trying to get out of the match all night. We know how this is gonna go.

Chris Novak: Did you expect Braun Strowman to put Kevin Owens into a portapotty and then send it barreling off the stage? That’s how it went!

Robert O’Neill: That was amazing. A lot of people didn’t like it, but I’m here for Braun Strowman essentially being a cartoon character, and Kevin Owens is the perfect foil.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Awful lot of Roman Reigns tonight. I’m fine with it, but it we definitely noticable that Raw wanted to focus highly on the Big Dog. Both tag matches were fine, but there wasn’t much else going on aside from the hilarious visual of Kevin Owens stretchered out covered in toilet water. The Bayley/Sasha stuff was good and I’m excited to see where it goes next, but this Raw felt like a holiday week Raw. C

Chris Novak: Do agree that this definitely felt like a holiday Raw. The two tag matches were pretty well done, with the first obviously being better than the second. But Revival looked really, really strong and I think that's as good of a takeaway as you can get. The Bayley-Sasha stuff was fine and inoffensive. Everything else was just kind of there. C

Smackdown.png

Robert O’Neill: It’s July 3 and there should be some fireworks on Smackdown Live! AJ Styles is facing Aiden English, and Jeff Hardy has a US Title open challenge lined up!

We begin the night with Renee Young in the ring, though. She’s going to be interviewing the newly reunited Team Hell No.

Kane is discussing why he came back to help Daniel Bryan, and Bryan is noting how Kane mistreated him in the past. One of my favorite things WWE does is continuity, because they do it so rarely. So when they’re like “hey remember the reason we stopped teaming up five years ago? It was because you turned on me and tried to end my career! You tried to abduct my wife!” That’s really awesome coming from the company that SWORE the first-ever Triple H/Undertaker WrestleMania match was at WrestleMania 27.

Chris Novak: Found the Team Hell No stuff to be pretty good. I legit laughed at Bryan’s comment about Kane burning his brother. While others think that Bryan’s being wasted right now, I’m quite liking this so far two weeks into it. We’ll see how it shakes out heading into the go-home SmackDown next week.

Robert O’Neill: Now the Usos are out here! And they don’t think Team Hell No should get a title shot at Extreme Rules just because they got back together, which leads to a match later tonight. If The Usos win, they’re added to the match at Extreme Rules.

Chris Novak: This should be a fun bout.

Robert O’Neill: It’s time for Jeff Hardy’s Open Challenge! Let’s see who answers the call. It’s The Miz!

Unsurprisingly, it was an awesome match from two of the ten best workers in the company at the moment. Hardy retained with a Swanton Bomb, but they made it look like Miz was going to win via the ropes but the ref caught him before the three count.

Chris Novak: Miz and Jeff Hardy had a pretty great MITB qualifier and this was a stirring matchup, as well. It’s obvious that these two are among the top workers in the company this year. They just keep performing at a high level each year.

Robert O’Neill: Up next, The New Day is out to celebrate America with pancakes! Well this is fun so fa- OH NO SANITY IS HERE. RUN EVERYONE.

Holy crap. SaniTY demolished them.

Chris Novak: Even with them losing last week, this was a good bounce back for them. I’m absolutely here for six-man warfare between these two teams. I have no doubt that what follows this will be very good.

Robert O’Neill: The much-anticipated James Ellsworth vs. Asuka match ended in a double countout after Ellsworth ran away, Asuka chased him, they came back to the ring, and Carmella took Asuka out. Strength in numbers!

Chris Novak: They protected Ellsworth. Amazing.

Robert O’Neill: Becky Lynch took out Peyton Royce, and it’s suddenly _quite_ apparent that they’re doing something with Becky. I just hope Charlotte doesn’t return and ruin it. Give me Becky vs. Carmella or Asuka at SummerSlam, please.

Chris Novak: That’s six consecutive wins for Becky on SmackDown Live… that’s not being done by accident. Nobody just wins that many matches in a row without there being some kind of method behind the madness. I suspect that Becky’s gonna get the title match at SummerSlam.

Robert O’Neill: Finally, we have Team Hell No vs. The Usos. To no surprise, this was a blast. Team Hell No got the win, and Kane did the YES chant, and all is well with our heroes as Smackdown goes off the air.

Chris Novak: That was a pretty good match, as expected. Good win for Team Hell No to establish themselves again against one of the top tag teams on the brand.

Ruthless Aggression EP 24 - Still standing

This week the crew reviews RAW 475 & Smackdown 150, featuring the Ladder Match between Jeff Hardy & The Undertaker for the WWE Undisputed Championship, Brock Lesnar v. Ric Flair, & Hulk Hogan winning the tag titles with Edge! Plus our thoughts on ROH: Best in the World, the controversy between Kenny Omega & his CEO show, PCO calling out The Undertaker, the Bayley-Sasha saga and more!

This Week in WWE: Bayley says Sasha ain't shit, Tell Hell No reunites
Raw.png

Robert O’Neill: Welp. It’s Monday, so that means it’s time for another exciting edition of Monday Night Raw!

Chris Novak: Last week’s show was quite good, so let’s see if they can make it two in a row. Optimism levels are… in the middle, somewhere. The show kicked off with them briefly touching on Vader’s passing.

Robert O’Neill: Kurt Angle is in the ring to lead off the show, along with Baron Corbin’s goofy looking ass, as a graphic announces a Dolph Ziggler/Seth Rollins Intercontinental Title match for later.

Chris Novak: I don’t know about you. But, I am enjoying this Constable Corbin deal. Thought it was funny that he demanded he be introduced as such.

Robert O’Neill: It’s fine! But he’s goofy looking.

Chris Novak: We start going on about contract disputes and Brock Lesnar, but Roman Reigns is here to interrupt things. The announce team went on about how he said Brock, the Universal Champ, isn’t “interested” in facing Reigns or the prospect of facing Reigns again. He tells Kurt he just wants to hear the explanation face-to-face.

Robert O’Neill: And now Bob Lashley is here. Yay. Anyways, there’s no longer gonna be a multi-man match at Extreme Rules because “plans changed” so both Bob and Roman want the title shot given to them OR they want to fight for it! Before that gets resolved, The Revival come out (TOP GUYS WATCH) and want a rematch against Bob and Roman from last week.

Well, holy crap. The Revival won. There was miscommunication between Lashley and Roman and that’s really the main point of this story/match but it’s still pretty neat to see them pick up a victory.

Chris Novak: This was some good stuff and some good layout to this match. Nicely done. Revival pick up a big win, Bob Lashley gets protected and Reigns loses nothing from eating that rollup (with a hook of the pants).

Robert O’Neill: And now we have The Deleter of Worlds heading to the ring as Matt Hardy will take on Curtis Axel.

Chris Novak: Hey, cool. Rey Mysterio is the pre-order bonus for 2K this year. That was a neat commercial.

Robert O’Neill: Really excited for WWE 2K this year. Anyways! Hardy vs. Axel was short, and Axel picked up a win which was a little surprising to me.

Chris Novak: It was very abrupt. After that… the AUTHORS OF PAIN finally showed up. Their Visa issues must’ve finally cleared up. They had an interaction backstage with Apollo Crews and Titus O’Neil, who said they ought to respect the backstage crew (they tossed someone into a wall). I can get behind this as a secondary feud, if you ask me. Now, anyways, they highlight the Bayley and Sasha feud and we learn that, again, they’ll be teaming up, with Ember Moon against The Riott Squad. I don’t know why we have to keep doing this kind of match, but the ends justify the means I guess. Oh, before I forget. CAPTAIN ALICIA FOX IS BACK!

AOP then squashed some jobbers. They beat them down, and then Titus and Apollo made the save.

Robert O’Neill: They still probably need a manager, but it’s fine for now!

Chris Novak: Corbin asks Angle if he enjoys putting combustible elements together for tag matches. What happens next? Well, Finn came in and the two exchanged some barbs. Then, Braun came in and said he wanted to team with… Kevin Owens… to face… Finn and Constable Corbin. It’s a tag team, strange bedfellows kind of night tonight.

Here comes Alexa and Mickie. Lex cuts a promo, running down both Nia AND Ronda. She actually got some pretty legitimate heat from the San Diego crowd here, which is a difference from what we’re used to. Here comes Natalya, who touts her friendship with Ronda before informing Bliss that they’re facing off. BUT… Nattie isn’t coming alone!

Robert O’Neill: I would like to give San Diego credit for actually booing Alexa, which is what you’re supposed to do with heels. It’s a shame that Natalya and Nia came out and ruined everything, but that’s just what they do.

Chris Novak: TO BE ENTIRELY FAIR… Nia’s hometown is San Diego.

Robert O’Neill: Natalya won because Nia tripped Alexa. Cool face move. Real nice.

Chris Novak: Match was fine. Ambivalent on the result, but champs always take losses so it’s nothing that’s unprecedented. Whatever.

Robert O’Neill: Riott Squad are getting into hijinks backstage, so it’s time for their match against Bayley/Sasha/Ember Moon.

Chris Novak: Strong start to this match. Really impressed with Liv in the early moments with Ember.

Robert O’Neill: That entire match was very solid. It ended with a roll-up which normally people would complain about in a women’s match, BUT…

Chris Novak: THINGS TURNED UP RIGHT AWAY!! Bayley jumped in the right and absolutely SNAPPED on Sasha Banks. Lit her up with furious punches. Sasha barely got any offense in. This was a full-throttled beatdown, MONTHS if not YEARS in the making. Bayley made it a point, after she’d sent Sasha into the steel steps more than once, to bring up everything she’s done to her the past two years, including last week. And also dropped a, “YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME, SASHA?” Popped SO hard for this. ALL of it. The crowd ate EVERYTHING up too. This was TREMENDOUS!

Robert O’Neill: No Way Jose was out for a match with Mojo Rawley, but Mojo spent his time bashing a guy dressed like a cheeseburger on the conga line instead. It was more entertaining than it sounds.

Chris Novak: That sentence is very 2018 pro wrestling.

Robert O’Neill: Meanwhile backstage, Kurt Angle is none too pleased with Bayley and tells her she’ll be attending therapy next week!

Chris Novak: Lord knows what Kurt thought he was getting himself into here. As good as Paige is at this GM thing is just as bad as Kurt is.

Robert O’Neill: Time for another tag match. We have Braun Strowman and Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin and Finn Balor! Can these teams get along and co-exist? Probably not. No, no, it’s not looking like they can. Well, Owens and Strowman can! Owens even did the thing Braun does where he runs into someone at full speed with his shoulder. But Corbin and Balor can’t get along and brawl up the ramp to get counted out for the finish.

Chris Novak: This was perfectly fine and ended just about as you’d expect it to. I can get behind the Owens-Strowman stuff, especially when Strowman TIPPED OWENS’ CAR OVER IN THE PARKING LOT. Braun’s hijinx always manage to sell pretty well.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! As we have Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins getting… a really long time for their match. Say what you want about Ziggler’s character (which is bad), but I’m pretty excited to see him and Rollins have a 40 minute match right here.

Chris Novak: This was a legit great main event. It ended with a DQ finish, and a 2-on-1 brawl led to Roman making the save for his former Shield brethren. I have no idea what this means in the grand scheme of things as it pertains to Roman, since he’s obviously tied up with Lashley. But, we’ll see I guess.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: When we look back on this Raw, it’ll be remembered as the one where Bayley and Sasha finally blew up, for that alone I think it deserves a high grade. Looking past that, some of the tag matches were weird and felt like Teddy Long era Smackdown, but they were all well worked and the main event was fun. It loses points for the Alexa/Natalya result and that’s about it. B+

Chris Novak: B+ show for me, too. The tags were a different way of doing things but I’m fine with it, honestly. Changes things up and doesn’t completely give matches away. As you said Rob, the Bayley/Sasha stuff really puts this over the top for me. Huge fan of it all, and hopefully next week doesn’t completely ruin everything.

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Chris Novak: On to SmackDown Live. We’re kicking the show off in style with… The Miz!

Robert O’Neill: And he’s joined here on Miz TV by the Bludgeon Brothers, who helped him defeat Daniel Bryan last week in the gauntlet match.

Chris Novak: Miz is seeking answers as to why they attacked Bryan last week. As expected… they’re pretty mum about it.

Robert O’Neill: Miz is also being his general dickish self when talking to them which seems like a bit of a mistake! But before the Bludgeon Brothers can do anything, Daniel Bryan makes his way out. Anyways! We’re getting Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper tonight which is cool and good.

Chris Novak: Anything involving either of those two is considered good. So, with them together, that works for me, as well.

Robert O’Neill: And now we’re leading off the action with a Rusev/Xavier Woods match which is also perfectly fine with me! It took WWE a long time to realize that Xavier Woods should be in more singles matches, but I’m thrilled that they finally did.

Chris Novak: Rusev won what was a really fun opener here. He then cut a promo on the WWE Champion, AJ Styles, whom he’ll be facing next month at Extreme Rules. He says he’s going to take the title, and will be a great Rusev Day. Hey, that’s all hard to argue. 

Robert O’Neill: Since Shinsuke Nakamura got bit by a police dog at a live event on Monday, he’s not facing Jeff Hardy tonight. So there’s an open challenge for the United States Championship. I wonder who will answer it. HOLY CRAP IT’S ERIC YOUNG!

I like this a lot. It’s a fresh matchup for Hardy, PLUS, it’s with someone he has familiarity with.

Chris Novak: So this turned out to be a match that, as expected, ended with chaos. SaniTY and The Usos all converged to attack each other. Ultimately, this led to a six-man tag team match being made.

Robert O’Neill: Honestly, I’m here for a Hardy/Usos vs. SaniTY feud. Cause this match was a ton of fun, and I think it would do wonders for SaniTY to work with three established guys like that. We move on to Becky Lynch vs. Sonya Deville, which should be a lot of fun as well.

Chris Novak: Becky wins (again!). Removing MITB and WrestleMania from the equation, Becky has won 7 of her last 9 TV matches and her last four on SmackDown Live. She’s gaining a ton of momentum, so I can’t wait to see how they squander it. Too much? Too excessive?

Robert O’Neill: Becky’s problem remains that she’s stuck in Charlotte’s vortex. And I don’t know how she can get out.

Chris Novak: WELL, Rob. Charlotte’s out. Soooooooo… maybe she can now!

Robert O’Neill: Oh hey, it’s Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega! They’re warning the rest of the roster, again. Sure would be nice to see him in an actual match at some point.

Chris Novak: It would, but I’m not mad about it. At least I shouldn’t be. It’s not like he’s completely been forgotten about. Something had to have happened to Sin Cara for them not to be continuing that feud. So, I’m just gonna be realistic and wait on it.

Robert O’Neill: MY GOD. JAMES ELLSWORTH IS FACING ASUKA NEXT WEEK.

Chris Novak: Ellsworth issssss gonna die.

Robert O’Neill: We’ve reached the main event! Daniel Bryan is facing Harper, in what should be one of the best matches in recent memory.

After a really fun match, Bryan gets the win via DQ and the numbers game catches up to him after the match but MY GOD, KANE IS BACK! THAT’S KANE!

Chris Novak: TEAM HELL NO!!!

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Smackdown was pretty good considering they didn’t have Shinsuke Nakamura and had to make a last minute switch to the US TItle match. Aside from that, it’s still refreshing to have Daniel Bryan back and seeing him in these fresh matchups, despite what Wrestling Twitter will tell you about how he’s being used. I’m also glad they finally realized they can use New Day members in singles matches. B+

Chris Novak: Once again, I’ll agree, Rob. B+ show here. Lot of fun stuff and Team Hell No reuniting was a legit fun moment for all involved. Popped me more than I thought it would, and popped the crowd more than I thought it would. Going forward, this should be intriguing to watch. SDLive continues to hit the right notes.

Ruthless Aggression EP 23 - The Debut of John Cena

This week the Ruthless Aggression crew review RAW 474 & Smackdown 149, including the in-ring WWE debuts of John Cena & Batista! We also talk about Bayley's beatdown of Sasha Banks the other night on RAW, what's up with Brock Lesnar & the Universal title, and a whole lot more!

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak

This Week in WWE: Ronda goes Stone Cold on 'em, Bayley and Sasha are DONE, and the GREATEST Rusev Day EVER

Robert O’Neill: After seven good hours of wrestling this weekend, we’re loaded up for five more! It’s time for Raw, and I’m really looking forward to it, honestly. I think Money in the Bank did a good job getting things set up for the road to Summerslam.

Chris Novak: Indeed, you’re right about that, Rob. Let’s hope the first night after continues that trend.

Robert O’Neill: Alright! We’re opening with Kurt Angle. He’s pleased with Raw’s performance at Money in the Bank. And now Alexa is here! She’s getting a YOU DESERVE IT chant, because she does deserve it.

Uh oh, Ronda Rousey is here and she’s none too pleased. But Alexa’s not backing down. She’s telling Ronda how it is. Surely this won’t end poorly for her. Ronda went after Alexa and then Kurt Angle tried to break it up and Ronda took him down! And then Ronda put Alexa through a table. That was one hell of a segment.

Kurt’s not pleased with Ronda backstage. He suspended her for 30 days for attacking him. Let’s see if that sticks!

Chris Novak: Overall, just an extremely well done opening segment. Everyone played their parts well. Alexa was her usual great self on the mic, and will be a great foil for Ronda. She took a huge table bump (so much for those folks who say she’s scared to) and Ronda looked like a total badass.

Robert O’Neill: *grabs large megaphone* BURN IT DOOOOOWWWWNNNNN!

Seth Rollins is here to discuss his match last night, which was quite good. Starting with back to back segments is interesting, but given the length and intensity of the matches last night it might be a light night for actual in-ring stuff.

Chris Novak: And now we get an IC Title Open Challenge. Answering the call is… ugh, Dolph Ziggler.

Robert O’Neill: The storytelling was really good where Rollins continued to sell the fact that his knee got messed up against Elias and he took all he could last night to win, but good lord did they really have to have Ziggler win the Intercontinental Title? Couldn’t it have been McIntyre? I hope this is the start of something bigger and better for Seth.

Chris Novak: Ugh. Like you said, did it REALLY have to be Dolph? Hopefully this really is the start of something bigger and better for Seth. Otherwise… gross.

Robert O’Neill: “You can cry online or write a blog about it, but this is our show now”

Good advice, Dolph. I WILL cry online about it.

Chris Novak: Dolph sucks.

Robert O’Neill: Curt Hawkins is in action against Bob Roode! Maybe this will be the night the losing streak ends! Nope. It was not the night. 203 in a row.

Chris Novak: I am liking that this is now a weekly fixture, honestly. It might actually be a legit good moment when he finally wins, to be honest. Here comes Braun, who’s the “Monster in the Bank” now. He says he’s going to be the next Universal Champion and The Beast is gonna get these hands. Welp, here comes Kevin Owens. Owens is selling like a MF, as usual. KO is here to be man enough to congratulate him. He says he deserves it as well, and he has an incredible opportunity, but he has to be smart and have a strategy. So, essentially, KO is offering his services up for Strowman. Braun… well, he responded as you would expect them to.

Robert O’Neill: I’m on the record as loving Owens/Strowman interactions so I’m here for a mini program between the two.

Chris Novak: Hmmmm. Interesting. So, next, they recap what happened last week with the Riott Squad and Bayley. Then we go to the back and Bayley’s now with… Sasha Banks. The two “friends” hash things out and seem to be on the up and up. But how long is this going to last?

Next come the Deleters of Worlds. They face Heath Slater and Rhyno and… oh, here’s the B-Team, and THEY’RE DRESSED UP LIKE THE DELETERS OF WORLDS! HAHAHAHA, BO IS DRESSED UP LIKE HIS BROTHER, BRAY! CURTIS IS DRESSED UP AS WOKEN MATT! This is actually hilarious. They parodied them and parodied them well, honest to God.

Robert O’Neill: That was absolutely hilarious.

Chris Novak: Slater and Rhyno go off on the sneak attack from behind afterwards. Eventually, Deleters of Worlds win. I’ll admit, this was a good segment for the tag division in a comedic way. Let’s get away from these squash matches though. Geez.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah it would be ideal to get something of substance going with the Raw tag team.

Chris Novak: You said it, not me.

Robert O’Neill: Jinder is facing Chad Gable, which is good. The more Chad Gable matches, the better.

Chris Novak: That was pretty fun. Jinder won the match. I think we should see more of Gable on Raw, tbh. And now… now, it’s time for Bayley-Sasha vs. Riott Squad.

Robert O’Neill: Hearing reports that It’s Boss Time.

Chris Novak: So, dissension is the name of the game here. Sasha insists that she’s “fine” after Bayley was concerned for her. Eventually, more miscues led to the Riott Squad winning. Bayley and Sasha had a confrontation in the ring, and that led to Sasha shoving Bayley to the ground and then walking away.

Robert O’Neill: After the commercial break things turned into a pull apart brawl! Neat.

Chris Novak: Bayley hit her with a freaking trashcan lid AND fired the first shot. Unfortunately, she got smoked afterwards. Honestly, people can say whatever they want about this. They devoted THREE segments to this feud. It’s clear that they give a shit about it. I’m expecting this to proceed going forward.

Robert O’Neill: Kurt Angle is back out for a big announcement! He knows who Brock Lesnar is facing at Summerslam. It’ll be the winner of a to be announced multi-man match at Extreme Rules. Roman Reigns would like to be in the match. So would Bob Lashley. In the midst of the bickering The Revival came out, and they have a match against Reigns and Lashley and pull off a stunning vic-

They lost. Of course they lost. They’re The Revival.

Chris Novak: Lashley was just… uh, well, Lashley in that final segment. No idea why they’re dragging out the participants but whew, hopefully someone who isn’t Roman (or Lashley, for that matter) wins that match at Extreme Rules. All I have to say. Anyways, you can be sad all you want Rob. That match was REAL good. Backstage we go. Finn says he’ll do what it takes to be in the multi-man #1 contender’s match. Constable Corbin puts him down, and KO comes in and agrees with him. Naturally… Strowman is RIGHT behind him. So, after a bit of interaction, we now have a tag team main event. Dead at Kurt saying “this is a runaway train” and abruptly leaving. My dude has to get control of this show, hahahahaha.

Robert O’Neill: Hey it’s Mojo Rawley! He took down No Way Jose and then cut a promo afterwards. Neat.

Chris Novak: Sasha is about to leave the arena. But, here’s Bayley again. Sasha reiterates that she’s done with her and done being her friend. Bayley tries to get her before she drives away. Alas… she is unsuccessful. Four segments devoted to this feud tonight. At least we finally got some action out of it.

Robert O’Neill: We got a full song by Elias, and it was an absolute banger.

Chris Novak: Why do we keep getting screwed over, Rob? We’ve been to two shows and Elias performed in neither!

Robert O’Neill: It’s just not right!

Time for the main event! Braun Strowman and Finn Balor are teaming up again to face Constable Corbin and Kevin Owens. It’s pretty cool that Balor and Strowman are kind of a full-time tag team these days. Bet they could fix the Raw tag division. Regardless, Corbin and Owens get the win, and, honestly, it was a bit surprising to me. But I like it.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: WWE’s really good week keeps rolling along. I particularly like the Alexa/Ronda and Bayley/Sasha stuff, and I’ll never complain about a title change on “free TV” even if it’s Dolph Ziggler winning the title. This show tied up all the loose ends from Money in the Bank and got us on the road to Summerslam, which is all you can hope for. A

Chris Novak: I felt like this was a very positive step in the right direction after MITB. Like Rob said, the women’s segments were all very good. Dolph winning wasn’t my cup of tea at all, but everything else was good to very good to great. A for me, as well.

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Chris Novak: SmackDown Live begins with the announcement of a 5-man Gauntlet Match to determine the next #1 Contender for the WWE Title. The participants? Big E, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Rusev and Samoa Joe. Sounds like a certified banger. The show itself begins with the appearance of Women’s Champion, Carmella, who has emerged as the lone member of the old Enzo/Cass/Carmella act after Cass’ release. Pretty extraordinary, no?

Robert O’Neill: Honestly, people joke about it, but Carmella is excellent. She’s kind of like Alexa Bliss in that her excellence on the microphone covers up for her average ring work (which is getting better). And, yeah, I’m thrilled she outlasted those other two goons. Anyways, Carmella’s talking about how great she is, and now Asuka is coming out, but…. It’s not actually Asuka. It’s your boy Jimmy Dream! But then the real Asuka came out and she was none too pleased with JayMella.

Chris Novak: SMH, get your ships right Rob. It’s Carmellsworth. Anyways, wasn’t really a fan of how Alexa and Carmella cut what was essentially the same promo, but it was still effective. On to the next segment: Billie Kay vs. Becky Lynch. The IIconics take the mics when they come out and start mocking Toledo and then Becky.

Robert O’Neill: It seems like people don’t like The IIconics (Twitter people, at least), and I don’t really get why. They’re fine.

Chris Novak: I suppose I can see why (their comedy bits may be a bit forced at times). Can’t please anyone. Anyways, Becky and Billie fought in what was a solid, competitive match. Not too shabby. Becky picks up the win, as she tapped Billie out with the Dis-Arm-Her.

Jeff Hardy cut a promo on Nakamura, as it appears that’s where they’re headed next for these two. Hardy then showed off some 2009-style facepaint, which was white and black, that also had his eyes colored white. It was… terrifying. Oh, hey, cool: SAnitY is here, and they’re going to face The Usos.

Robert O’Neill: Jeff Hardy looks terrifying! So SAnitY vs. The Usos was more just a beatdown by the newcomers, which was actually pretty cool and smart.

Chris Novak:Honestly, much smarter than an actual match. Speaking of tag teams, we’re about to get a Tag Team Titles rematch between The Good Brothers and The Bludgeon Brothers. So, that’s fun.

Robert O’Neill: The Bludgeon Brothers retained, of course. It’s time for the gauntlet match!

Chris Novak: We are starting with… Bryan vs. Big E. Bryan is the #1 entrant, so this should prove interesting.

Robert O’Neill: After 15-20 minutes, Bryan got the upper hand on Big E (who looked good throughout) and then Samoa Joe was next! Bryan got the victory over Joe via countout, which was smart, but the Bludgeon Brothers, who stared Bryan down on his way to the ring, came out and beat him down after Joe left. Miz came out and took advantage and hit Bryan with the Skull Crushing Finale! But Rusev is here to try and take The Miz down, and he does! Miz taps to the Accolade and we have a Happy Rusev Day as the big man will be in his first ever WWE title match at Extreme Rules!

Chris Novak: Stellar showings for just about everyone here. They handled Bryan and Miz’s parts EXTREMELY well. I don’t know where they’re going with Bryan vs. The Bludgeon Bros. and I’m not sure who Bryan’s partner will be in the eventual Tag Team Championships Match. But it’s intriguing nonetheless. Rusev/Styles is going to be great, and it’s awesome that they went with Rusev.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: What a week for WWE. Four straight days of shows that I really enjoyed watching. Obviously, the gauntlet match was always going to be great, but I was a fan of everything on this show and am super intrigued with Jeff Hardy reverting to 2009-10 Jeff Hardy. I think SAnitY being up and wrecking shop is pretty cool too. A

Chris Novak: Another A for me here. SmackDown Live hit every right note possible here. This was an exceptional show.

Money in the Bank guide: previews, predictions for NXT Takeover & MITB

What started as a unique concept for Wrestlemania has turned into the fifth of WWE's new "Big Five" pay per views: Money in the Bank! The big event returns to the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, but this time bringing its indie darling, NXT, along with it for a stacked card on Saturday night. Of course, the main course will be not one, but TWO Money in the Bank ladder matches - one for the men and one for the ladies. The Barber's Chair has your guide to all of the matches this weekend, including who we think will leave Chicagoland victorious.

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Ricochet v. Velveteen Dream

Pierce: This is a Dream match, no pun. Not because I've wanted to see it for years, but because I didn't know I wanted to see it this badly. This should open Takeover, and could attempt to steal the show just like the ladder match did in New Orleans. Dream has his sights set on one of two things: an NXT title or a WWE call-up. A win furthers both objectives.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream

T.C.: I didn't care for Dream's whole schtick when he first debuted, but his match with Aleister Black at War Games completely changed my opinion of him. I think he's an easy choice to face Black in a rematch in Brooklyn, so it'll be smart to keep his momentum going into SummerSlam weekend.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Markus Howell: Let me be the first to tell you that I might be the biggest Velveteen Dream fan just because of everything he represents and how damn good he is. Dude is a MEGASTAR. That being said, this match is a MOTY candidate for sure. Ricochet is proven between those ropes and Dream ain't too bad himself. Dream needs a win here though before he enters "Bray Wyatt" range.            Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Chris Novak: This match really fascinates me. I think it has major steal-the-show potential and will probably end up kicking things off on Saturday night. I get the sense that Velveteen Dream is going to win. Ricochet may have only started a couple months ago, but he's a big star. He can afford the loss, and can afford to put Dream over. You can easily slide Ricochet into a feud with Adam Cole for the NA Championship or even have him in a side feud with Aleister Black on the road to Brooklyn, and nobody would really bat an eye. Speaking of which, I think this Dream win will tee up Dream/Black II in Brooklyn, like T.C. said. 
Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Robert O'Neill: The first of two MOTN candidates, I really can't wait to watch these guys in person. They were the high points of the best multi-man ladder match of all time at Takeover NOLA and there's no reason to believe this match won't be awesome. Dream wins though because I think he's going to be the next #1 contender for the title and this is your start of that.

Prediction: Velveteen Dream

NXT Women's Championship - Shayna Baszler (c) v. Nikki Cross

Pierce: Shayna is mid to me, but they're running with her as long as they can. Nikki Cross belongs up top anyway.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler

T.C.: What the hell happened to SAnitY debuting on the main roster? I'd assume they're holding off until Nikki is done in NXT, but I can see them trying to distance her from the group at this point as she gets a run with the Women's title down in Orlando.
Prediction: Nikki Cross

Markus Howell: Seems like this match was thrown together randomly. But hey, whatever. This has all the components of a filler match until Bianca Belair is done smoking everybody else in the division.   
Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Chris Novak: Haven't minded the build to this. Nikki is crazy as hell and I think her finally getting a 1-on-1 TakeOver opportunity rules. I don't see her winning the belt though. She'll fall to Shayna, but this match should be real good.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Robert O'Neill: It's really hard to get a read on this because Cross is probably overdue for a title shot and Shayna really hasn't done much as champion, but they likely won't have her lose yet. Baszler retains.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler

NXT Tag Team Championship - Undisputed Era (c) v. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan

Pierce: Burch and Lorcan are good hands but they have no business winning the tag titles over Undisputed Era.
Prediction: Undisputed Era

T.C.: Undisputed Era are flaming hot right now, and things are only looking up for the group. Burch and Lorcan have had the Undisputed Era's number the last few weeks, but it's not their time yet.
Prediction: Undisputed Era

Markus Howell: Undisputed Era > nWo. Kyle O'Reilly air guitar with the title > Hollywood Hulk Hogan air guitar with the title. Do I need to say anything else?
Prediction: Undisputed Era

Chris Novak: Markus, I completely agree about KOR's air guitar being better than The Hulkster's. This match is going to surprise a lot of people who may not be familiar with Lorcan and Burch. Then again, if you watch NXT, you probably are anyway.
Prediction: Undisputed Era

Robert O'Neill: While a lot of people were surprised that Lorcan and Burch got the title shot, I think it’s it’s pretty cool. However, I think Undisputed Era retains because they have the numbers in their favor provided Adam Cole goes to the ring with KOR and Roddy Strong.  

Prediction: Undisputed Era

NXT Championship - Aleister Black (c) v. Lars Sullivan

Pierce: Ion really fuck with Lars.
Prediction: Aleister Black

T.C.: Aleister Black hasn't really had a chance to show off as champion since winning the belt back during WrestleMania weekend, and I can't see him losing here. Lars Sullivan has laid the champion out multiple weeks now, and looks stronger than ever heading into Chicago, but Black will finally overcome the thorn in his side.
Prediction: Aleister Black

Markus Howell: This match here has seemingly gotten overshadowed with the Ricochet/Dream and Gargano/Ciampa feuds. LARS (Yes we capitalize that man name around here) has looked great in the past few months. Black has been relatively quiet waiting on this new challenger to appear and boy has LARS appeared. It's a bit too early for Black to drop the title though so look for him to hold on the strap a while longer.
Prediction: Aleister Black

Chris Novak: I'm not surprised that this match has gotten a second- or third-billing deal. This feels like Roode/Itami from last year in Chicago, in that it's a transition feud where the challenger doesn't stand much a chance. I like Lars a lot but putting Black over is the easiest choice of the night. 
Prediction: Aleister Black

Robert O'Neill: The NXT Title match is the third most hyped match on a five match card, which is odd, but also perfectly fine. This will be a good match that a lot of people will sleep on. Black retains.

Prediction: Aleister Black

Chicago Street Fight - Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa

Pierce: This rivalry is destined to end in Brooklyn, so it's only right Tommaso wins, probably through some fuckery involving Candice Lerae. These two put on the match of Wrestlemania weekend and could do the same in Chicago.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

T.C.: Usually when someone's wife or girlfriend gets injured in a personal storyline, that's a red alert to me that they'll be turning on their partner down the line. Ciampa wins after interference from Candice LeRae, setting up a Hell in a Cell battle in Brooklyn.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

Markus Howell.: Ciampa is the best heel in the business and possibly the best heel we have seen in YEARS. Everything about this man just oozes evil and he does not care one bit. Using simple wrestling logic here though, it says he will pull out the win in a brutal, yet satisfying match and set up the final installment in this epic rivalry at Brooklyn.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa      

Chris Novak: Ciampa wins because Candice LeRae incidentally costs her husband, Johnny Gargano, the victory. No heel turn here, but she'll try to save Gargano from himself and he'll pay for it. Hell in a Cell cometh in Brooklyn.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

Robert O'Neill: How poetic. It all comes back to Rosemont, where Ciampa turned on Gargano in the first place. It kills me to say it, but I think Ciampa wins and sets up a rubber match with all the stakes in Brooklyn.

Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

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Women's Money in the Bank
Charlotte v. Sasha Banks v. Natalya v. Ember Moon v. Becky Lynch v. Alexa Bliss v. Naomi v. Lana

Pierce: Booking history tells me Natalya wins & probably cashes in on Ronda, but the superstar who needs the briefcase the most is Becky. She talked on Smackdown about falling to the back of the pack since being the first SDL Women's Champion. She needs something to reinvigorate her character, so give her the briefcase and let her have fun with it.
Prediction: Becky Lynch

T.C.: If Natalya doesn't win this, then I don't see the point in them making her a focal point with the biggest star in the division the past few weeks.
Prediction: Natalya

Markus Howell.: Okay so look, I think everybody knows I'm not a fan of this person but I'd be hard pressed to find someone who is a more "That's so WWE" pick to win this match than Ember Moon. Yes, they are setting Natalya up for another turn (she's like the female Big Show when it comes to that I swear), but Ember just screams "safe pick".                                                                Prediction: Ember Moon

Chris Novak: Have to agree with T.C. here. The obvious choice based on EVERYTHING they have put out there is Natalya, as terrible a wrestler and performer that I find her. Alexa and Charlotte have no business winning this, and neither does Lana. Ember hasn't been here long enough. And while Becky, Sasha and/or Naomi would be great choices because of the kinds of performers they are, well... it wouldn't be the first time or the last time they overlooked ability.
Prediction: Natalya

Robert O'Neill: This one certainly has me more hyped than last year’s version. I really want to see Sasha or Becky win, but it will likely be Natalya which will be dumb.  

Men's Money in the Bank
Braun Strowman v. The Miz v. Finn Balor v. Samoa Joe v. Kevin Owens v. Rusev v. Bobby Roode v. Big E/Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods

Pierce: All of these guys would make for a great winner besides Bobby Roode, but the Awesome one has killed it the last two years and will get his long-deserved second run with the belt in due time.
Prediction: The Miz

T.C.: My head says Samoa Joe, but I'm selecting my choice with full stan mode enabled: The Miz wins. 
Prediction: The Miz

Markus Howell: Ahem. Click here
Prediction: Samoa Joe

Chris Novak: Mike "The Miz" Mizanin wins MITB for the second time in his career. I would say that he'd cash in later in the night, but this match will probably main event the show. 
Prediction: The Miz

Robert O'Neill: This is probably the hardest match of the night to pick because I could see any of the eight men winning. If I had to pick one, it would be The Miz, and I'm not even super sold/confident on that.  

Daniel Bryan v. Big Cass

Pierce: Daniel doesn't need a win here. He made Cass submit last month. I hate even steven booking but if Daniel wins here, what am I supposed to make of Cass?
Prediction: Big Cass

T.C.: Part of me wants to think they'll give Daniel Bryan the win again (especially if there's still some backstage heat on Cass as reported a few weeks back), but I'm gonna assume there's a swerve in the making with Cass evening the score against his tiny foe.
Prediction: Big Cass

Markus Howell: Outside of not giving two shits about this feud.......yeah that's all I got man. It's a warmup feud for the both of them returning from their respective injuries so whatever. Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Chris Novak: I didn't think Bryan needed the win over Cass at Backlash. But they gave him it in emphatic fashion. I don't think he needs the win here at MTIB either. But Cass has been written as kind of a dickheaded goof. So maybe Bryan will make him tap out anyway. I gave Cass a chance, and he hasn't exactly been great. Just put Bryan over again.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Robert O'Neill: I guess Cass could use a win over Bryan, but I'm also not sure Cass can be saved at this point. He just doesn't have "it". Whatever happens, I hope this is the last match these two have.

Prediction: Big Cass

Roman Reigns v. Jinder Mahal

Pierce: Is it fine to say I just don't care where they go with Roman anymore?
Prediction: Roman Reigns

T.C.: Contrary to public opinion of these two, I actually think they're really good workers. But the chemistry between the two isn't working for me as a fan. Hope this is a one and done and they both move on to something else next month. 
Prediction: Roman Reigns

Markus Howell: NOW THIS IS WHY IM HERE BABY. CONTENT. THE MAHARAJA HIVE IS HERE. DON'T HINDER JINDER. I DON'T GET WHY PEOPLE HATE JINDER. THE MAN HAS DONE NOTHING BUT WORK HIS ASS OFF TO GET BETTER AND PEOPLE HATE HIM. The Maharaja ain't losing to no dude who wear Brett Favre wranglers in his downtime man. Hell no. Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Chris Novak: This will be a better match than the crowd gives it a chance to be. I will side with Markus here and say that the Maharajah is successful.
Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Robert O'Neill: Contrary to what the likely crowd reactions will lead you to believe, this should be a perfectly fine match. Each man cost the other a spot in the MITB match, so the motivation for this match is clear and smart. I think Jinder wins with underhanded tactics and Roman gets him back at Extreme Rules.

Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Bobby Lashley v. Sami Zayn

Pierce: This is my piss break.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley

T.C.: Absolutely pointless and terrible feud. Hopefully this doesn't go more than 7 minutes.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley

Markus Howell: #FreeElGenerico
Prediction: Sami Zayn

Chris Novak: God, this feud sucks.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley

Robert O'Neill: Lashley wins and we never have to think about this feud again.

Prediction: Bobby Lashley

Smackdown Tag Team Championship - The Bludgeon Brothers (c) v. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows

Pierce: The Bludgeon Brothers finally got some competition in Anderson and Gallows, and while I think the Good Brothers will get the strap eventually, now's not the time.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

T.C.: Harper and Rowan have been built up as THE guys in the Smackdown Tag Team title division (rightfully so, they're the champs), and it doesn't seem like the Good Brothers have enough momentum right now to start another reign right now.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

Markus Howell.: The Good Brothers and The Bludgeon Brothers. The Brothers against The Brothers. Which sounds better? Good or Bludgeon? Cool hand gestures and a dude with a nickname like Machine Gun or dudes with fake ass mallets and horrible ring gear? Yeah, exactly. Prediction: Anderson and Gallows

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live's tag division is not nearly as dead as Raw's is, but for a division that has Bludgeon Brothers, Good Brothers, The Usos, The New Day AND The Bar as well as Rusev Day, this should be a hell of a lot better than it is. I digress. The Bludgeon Brothers will likely win on the kickoff show.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

Robert O'Neill: There's been a surprising lack of build to this match, but it should be pretty solid provided you enjoy watching four big dudes beat each other up. If you don't, well, it's not for you. Bludgeon Brothers retain.

Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

RAW Women's Championship - Nia Jax (c) v. Ronda Rousey

Pierce: I was back and forth on this until Ronda's UFC Hall of Fame induction was announced. WWE would be smart to flex her as their champion at the event.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey

T.C.: I'm sure WWE caught some early rumblings about Ronda Rousey getting inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame next month, and decided to hot shot her into the title picture ahead of the time they wanted to. Always thirsty for mainstream attention, they'll slap the belt on Ronda, get some press the following Monday, and then have Natalya cash in the following night.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Markus Howell: This match gonna be trash. Nia, as fine as she is, aint that good in the ring and Ronda just too green in the ring. Ronda can legitimately beat Nia ass so idk man. Having Ronda win is a real slap in the face. To who? Take your pick. Also kinda dumb how they just randomly made Nia a heel in this feud. Also dumb how much Rousey smiles and taps hands with the fans. It's annoying. Idk who wins here but for kicks and giggles.......
Prediction: Nia Jax

Chris Novak: I still don't understand why this match is happening so early but, like T.C. said, this probably has a lot to do with fishing for mainstream press. Ronda wins, but I don't think she makes it out of Rosemont with the championship. Nattie's going to cash in and win it, meaning Natalya vs. Ronda Rousey will be the summer women's program. God help us all.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Robert O'Neill:  Well, Ronda certainly isn't going to lose her first singles match. The big thing to watch is if there's a cash in after.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Smackdown Women's Championship - Carmella (c) v. Asuka

Pierce: Carmella has no business losing the belt two months in, no matter how good Asuka is.
Prediction: Carmella

T.C.: I have no idea what is going to happen here. When Carmella had the MITB briefcase, I always looked at her as a transitional champion and nothing more than that. However, she's GOLD as a character, and the belt only enhances that. I'll be safe here and say Asuka comes out with the W.
Prediction: Asuka

Markus Howell: I. Love. Carmella. As. Champ. There I said it. She's been looking better. Her mic skills are gold. Her character has improved. And her in ring skills....well......she don't need to show them because of her heel work. I love it. Asuka has lost her aura since losing at Mania and I just don't get what the payoff was for that. Not sure what's gonna happen here but Asuka aint winning.
Prediction: Carmella

Chris Novak: Carmella wins because James Ellsworth is going to return and help her get the W.
Prediction: Carmella

Robert O'Neill: Carmella’s run has been delightful and I think it continues either by countout, DQ, or underhanded tactics

Prediction: Carmella

Intercontinental Championship - Seth Rollins (c) v. Elias

Pierce: The Walk With Elias Intercontinental Title Tour is about to heat up all summer '18! Elias is crazy over... some times gimmicks don't click in NXT but they work in the Federation, and Elias has made the most of his time up. Rollins is a great guy to take the belt off, and it doesn't hurt him to lose; it only propels him to that inevitable championship match with Brock.
Prediction: Elias

T.C.: I've been huge on Rollins' run as IC Champ thus far, and a huge fan Elias' whole run on the main roster. I feel like it's time for Seth to move on to bigger and better things, but with Extreme Rules a month away, I can see them dragging this feud out until then.
Prediction: Seth Rollins by DQ

Markus Howell: It's Elias' time. Seth doesn't need the title anymore and I'm sure Elias can continue to elevate the IC title. Also, the IC title > Universal title. But anyway, this match should be a great one. I wouldn't be surprised to see Elias win clean, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see a DQ. Prediction: Elias

Chris Novak: It's time for everyone to walk with Intercontinental Champion Elias. Seth won't lose anything by dropping the belt to him. Depending on what you read into with the rumors about Brock, this could free him up for a feud at SummerSlam with him. If not, then we get a summer feud between these two. Either option is OK with me.
Prediction: Elias

Robert O'Neill: If they're going to do Seth/Brock at Summerslam, which seems to be the natural plan, why not have Elias get the win here? He has the fanbase and ability. I would like to see it

Prediction: Elias

Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship
AJ Styles (c) v. Shinsuke Nakamura

Pierce: Well we know the prediction below won't happen because the men's ladder match will reportedly end the show, but it's Nakamura's time. He's waited long enough, and the heel turn set in motion at Wrestlemania has done well in turning him from one of the most beloved babyfaces to one of the most interesting heels to watch in the company. He'll watch out of Chicago with the championship.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

T.C.: This feud hasn't been nearly half as interesting as I thought it would be, but it's picked up a bit in the past few weeks. Please, no more. AJ Styles gets the W in a hard fought battle, but gets booked in an impromptu match with The Miz. Both MITB briefcase holders cash in within 24 hours, as WWE tries to freshen up the gimmick a bit.
Prediction: AJ Styles, The Miz cashes in and walks out champion

Markus Howell: I'm tired of seeing this. Leave it to WWE to take something good and ruin it. I don't know how they do it but dammit they are talented. Shinsuke should've been champ months ago yet they turned him into a dick punching japanese dude who picks and chooses when to speak english. I hate this company sometimes.
Prediction: Shinsuke after he hits a super kinshasa on AJ's family jewels

Chris Novak: I don't have a clue about this one. I'll say Shinsuke because they've given him enough chances over the last year to win the WWE Title and he hasn't. If not, I have no idea what they do.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Robert O'Neill: I think Shinsuke has to win eventually, so why not this one? He picked the stipulation so it would make sense for him to get the win.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

This Week in WWE: An all-time bad segment on RAW, while Bryan-Joe looms on SmackDown

Chris Novak: We’ve begun a big episode of RAW on a big day for WWE! We’re getting a contract signing between Nia & Ronda and, apparently, Sami Zayn interviewing Bobby Lashley’s sisters. One of those things sounds more appealing than the other. Can you guess which one it is? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the second of the two. Here’s Kurt Angle, who teased “big announcements” for the start of RAW on Twitter. He says Ronda is in the house (duh, that was just announced no less than two minutes ago.) so it sounds like he’s just parroting those announcements.

There’s gonna be a F4W qualifier between… oh, no. That’s Stephanie McMahon’s music. Steph is back. Steph says that everything that happened at WM is now “water under the bridge” and she’ll always do “what’s best for business.” She responds to the “You Tapped Out!” chants by saying she, in fact, did, and she’s forgiving everything. Steph says he’s done a phenomenal job and she wants to see growth. Steph says that instead of Kurt presiding over the contract signing, it will be her. That certainly won’t spur any narratives about what THAT match could turn out to be. And… now here’s Roman Reigns for… um, some reason. Roman says that he wants Steph to say whatever he wants to him to his face. Steph says she doesn’t understand his temper or his attitude lately, and says that if he can’t help it, then he should find a new line of work. Roman responds by saying he’ll just go out and destroy “her favorite superstars.”

So then, Roman says that he thinks they don’t want him near the Universal Title. Steph responds by saying he lost his qualifying match and that he should take it up with Jinder. Roman snarkily responds that he did… and here comes Kevin Owens. Owens says he’s indebted to Roman now after he took out Mahal last week. He says he actually really likes Roman. He tries to get a “Thank You Roman!” chant up but it doesn’t work TOO well in Albany tonight. KO says that Steph doesn’t play favorites, bringing up his history with her brother and her father. Really funny moment with Owens leaning on Steph’s shoulder as he said, “She knows talent when she sees it.” Steph then makes a match pitting Roman against Owens. I get the sense that this will be quite good!

Robert O’Neill: It was a fantastic match (Roman is good. The in-ring stuff is hardly the problem). Jinder Mahal interfered and he and Owens beat Roman down before Seth Rollins came out to even the odds and set up a *extreme teddy long voice* TAG TEAM MATCH. That match was good too! Rollins got the win over Jinder because he is The Guy.

Chris Novak: On to… the Bobby Lashley/Sami Zayn segment.

Robert O’Neill: What the fuck is this? I’m not gonna talk about the Lashley segment. Watch the video. It’s bad.

Chris Novak: We’re going to spend exactly that amount of time talking about this. Okay! Onto Ember Moon vs. Alexa Bliss! Bliss gets interviewed by Renee Young, and is asked if she’s worried after what happened in Ember’s debut. Bliss brings up what happened with the Romans back in 410 AD. I’m actually laughing. That was hysterical. Anyways, onto the match. It was really fun! Alexa held her own in the ring and Ember did her thing as well. It ended after Ember hit the Eclipse on Bliss, getting the 1-2-3 after Mickie was thrown out of the ringside area.

Robert O’Neill: Alexa/Ember is a fresh-feeling matchup. I would really like to see more of that from the women’s division instead of recycling the same matches over and over.

Robert O’Neill: The B-Team faced Breezango and won. At some point WWE will have to go away from comedy tag teams and get us back to good tag team wrestling, right?

*checks RAW Tag Team Champions*

Oh. I see. Never mind then.

It’s not that I DISLIKE Breezango or Axel and Dallas, it’s just that they aren’t as good as Authors of Pain or Revival.

Chris Novak: My counterpoint to that, Rob, is that they just had The Shield (Seth & Dean) and The Bar trade victories and tag titles for much of the year. I get what you’re saying, but the B-Team is working. Let’s calm down a peg.

Chris Novak: Onto our “final” qualifying match (we’ll probably get a Last Chance Match next week) between Natalya, Dana, Liv and Sarah. I’m not certain what the thought process was while they were constructing these matches but the end result is this, and woof. Naturally, Natalya won and seemed to tease the idea of her and Ronda, her “training partner” being champ and MITB holder. This is going to result into a feud and it’s going to be insufferable.

Robert O’Neill: Hey, another Chad Gable singles match! Neat. Sure, it’s against Dolph Ziggler, but I still appreciate any and all Gable singles matches. Ziggler got the victory in pretty quick time and then Drew McIntyre hit the ring to double team Gable. Hmmmmmm. If only there were someone returning soon that could help Gable even the odds.

Chris Novak: Are you suggesting that Gable needs an… “Alpha” at his side?  No. No. Not THAT Alpha. He’s facing Naito in New Japan. The other one. An American Alpha.

Robert O’Neill: Elias came out and took credit for the TV deals and stock price and then beat Bob Roode (again). What a night!

Chris Novak: They really need to do a double-turn here because it’s obvious that 1) Elias is over as hell and 2) Roode needs some kind of switch flipped.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! Finn Balor and Braun Strowman are gonna duke it out in the ring after their tag team experiment last week. Unsurprisingly, it was an excellent match. It’s pretty clear where both of these guys stand in the company, and eventually they’ll both have title runs. Braun won with the powerslam and then picked Balor up after instead of hitting him with more powerslams, which I thought was a nice touch.

Chris Novak: That was a really excellent match. They did a lot considering the fact that both Balor and Strowman are, obviously, different sizes. They made it work though. And made it work REALLY well. Came away very impressed with this match and these two.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: I think all good things on this Raw were overshadowed by that Bobby Lashley segment. And I think that segment has added importance on the day that it gets out that you have billion-dollar TV deals in the works. There’s a non-zero chance that people heard that news, decided to tune in, and saw… that. There’s not a great time for an all-time bad segment, but even if they did it on Memorial Day it probably would have been less of a lead balloon.

And it sucks, because there was a lot of good on this Raw (Alexa/Ember, Nia/Ronda, Strowman/Balor), but I think everyone was left with a sour taste in their mouth at best after that segment that lingered throughout the night. D

Chris Novak: I don’t know if I’m going to be as harsh as Rob here is. This RAW was pretty good. It featured an all-time bad segment, but with some great matches here, I’m going to give this a B-. I don’t think we’ve differed this much here, but to me, one REALLY REALLY bad segment doesn’t kill the whole show for me. RAW needs some obvious enhancements, but for this week, they did well.

Robert O’Neill: MizTV is opening the billion dollar program. All Hail.

Chris Novak: And already, this segment between Miz and New Day has been outstanding.

Robert O’Neill: Miz still looks ridiculous though.

Chris Novak: Of course he does. That’s the thing about him though. Anyways, Miz tries to get an answer out of The New Day and seemingly tried to pit them against each other. But, The New Day don’t give Miz the answer he wanted for the interview. Miz says that he could beat any of them any day of the week, and so they say that Big E is “the guy.” But… not the guy for MITB, but instead the guy to face Miz. He tries getting out of it, so New Day pelts him with pancakes. Miz then sprints away, but runs into Paige, who says that the match must proceed.

Robert O’Neill: And the match was pretty good! It was the first time Miz and Big E ever faced off, so that was cool. The high point of the match was how it spiraled into chaos at the end when The Bar came down to mess with New Day and Kofi JUMPED OFF CESARO INTO SHEAMUS. Meanwhile in the ring, Miz took advantage of the distraction and hit Big E with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win.

Chris Novak: Daniel Bryan is interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. Bryan talks about getting second chances, which fits his bill pretty well, to say the least. He then talks about how surreal it is that he’s facing Jeff Hardy in 2018. He calls him a legend and an innovator and a very tough hill to climb. But, he also says he loves a good challenge and intends on making a legend tap out.

Lana then faced Billie Kay and won within about 2 minutes. Please send The IIconics back to NXT. What is the point, at this point?

Robert O’Neill: This is so stupid. The Women’s MITB match is going to be trash.

Chris Novak: Finishing your sentence… again. Because it’s not like the two editions last year were good. Anyways, Andrade “Cien” Almas kicked a dude’s ass and won. That was academic.

Robert O’Neill: You know who should win Money in the Bank? Zelina Vega.

Chris Novak: And so should Almas.

Robert O’Neill: Well! We know the stipulation of the AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura match at Money in the Bank. It’ll be a Last Man Standing match, so that’s neat.

Chris Novak: That’s one way to call it “Roshambo.”

Robert O’Neill: Up next, The Usos face The Club for the right to face The Bludgeon Brothers at Money in the Bank. I think the best part of this match was it made me remember how much I enjoy The Club. They’re quite good in the ring, and after picking up the win, I’m pretty interested in how they’ll fare against the Bludgeon Brothers.

Chris Novak: I’m fine with it, as it allows for some fresh blood here. Anyways, Naomi then went and defeated Sonya Deville in a MITB qualifier. It was a very good match. Naomi has improved tenfold, but we all already know that.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! It’s kind of wild that Daniel Bryan and Jeff Hardy have a combined 20 years of WWE experience between them and this was the first time they’ve ever squared off, but it’s also pretty awesome. This was always the big dream for a potential Bryan return. He can now have matches with guys he’s never faced (Hardy), or guys he had previously faced in non-WWE promotions (Samoa Joe, AJ Styles). It opens up new and fresh matchups. Bryan beat Hardy to advance to face Joe next week for Smackdown’s final MITB spot, in a match that will surely whip ass.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: While Smackdown didn’t have an all-time bad segment, they DID have Lana qualify for the MITB match. Unlike the Lashley thing, I guess I can look past it. Pretty much every match on this show worked for me and felt important, which is the major benefit of a two hour show. The main event was great, and Miz/Big E set up a Miz & The Bar vs. The New Day six-man tag that will be absolutely awesome next week. B.

Chris Novak: A B+ show for me. This featured an awesome Bryan-Hardy match, a very good Miz-Big E match and a really good Sonya-Naomi match. SDLive keeps hitting ALLLLL the right notes since ‘Mania. It’s back to being tops and it’s looking like it will stay that way too.

First Black Champ podcast - Dick, Companionship and a World Title

This week on #FirstBlackChamp podcast we take a look at the potential "Mothers of the WWE" both good and bad and ask the question, Who is "The Gal" in the WWE right now? Cam gives his theory on "Sniper Cena" and why he's not trying to make ANY WOMAN a mom. Then for you hip-hop heads, we kick off the show with Weststide Gunn's thoughts on his claim to making wrestling look cool to hip-hop.

All that and us wanting better for Bobby Lashley on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

WWE Backlash recap

Robert O’Neill: For the third time in four weeks, we have a WWE PPV to write about! Welcome to Backlash!

Chris Novak: After 45 minutes of preshow talk, it’s time to get to action. Bayley gets a big pop on her way to the ring. Thank you, New Jersey, for proving to me that you’re still a great state. Ruby Riott comes on out next with the rest of the Riott Squad. So, we’re doing the 3-on-1 deal. Bayley tried to get Sasha to come out with her earlier, extend an olive branch and be the better person. But Banks was having nothing of it. Typical.

So, Bayley and Ruby have what was a… decent match. Bayley looked a little off her game, and I hope she’s alright. She was grabbing her head and neck area a bit and while it could be selling, it definitely looked like it took her out of it. Ruby wins with the Riott Kick. She’s now beaten both Bayley and Sasha Banks in the last six days. Guessing that after Nia takes care of Alexa tonight, she and the Riott Squad will pursue Nia’s title while Bayley and Banks and others pursue MITB.

Robert O’Neill: That was a fine match. Bayley looked out of it. Ruby has wins over Sasha and Bayley this week, so they’re certainly using her correctly.

Chris Novak: And away… we… go!

WWE

WWE

Robert O’Neill: The Miz and Seth Rollins are opening the show. This should be awesome.

Chris Novak: Both Miz AND Seth get great reactions right out of the gate. This New Jersey crowd is going to be hot tonight. Oh dear Lord, that match was amazing. Seth’s knee selling after hitting a high knee on the ringpost was excellent. His knee gave out, which led to a Skull-Crushing Finale near fall. Then he went for his Superplex→Falcon Arrow combo, but Miz countered THAT and hit a Skull-Crushing Finale AGAIN. But AGAIN, Seth kicked out. Seth went for the Stomp off the second rope, which led to another exchange, but Seth hit the Stomp on Miz after a reversal of a roll-up to retain. What a way to start the show.

Robert O’Neill: Holy crap that was awesome. I’ll keep saying it, Rollins needs to be the guy to beat Brock Lesnar.

Chris Novak: Seth is on a heater right now. He’s the best in the company at the moment and I don’t think there’s any arguing that right now.

Robert O’Neill: Alexa and Nia are next up. This match should be shorter than their Mania match, I would imagine.

Well. It hasn’t been.

Chris Novak: I have no clue what this matchwasis to be honest. I was sour on their WM match being long, but it was better than this. They just don’t seem to blend well this time around. Nia will move on to probably work with Ruby and the Riott Squad while Alexa likely barrels towards MITB. Probably best for both parties here. But this didn’t work for me.

Woof. And then Nia got booed afterwards for cutting what was a corny, PR-type promo. That was a bad sequence for both ladies, which stinks. But it’s not surprising that they booed it either. They’ll always boo that stuff, right or wrong.

Robert O’Neill: I think they need to move Alexa away from the title. Nia/Ruby would be fine.

Chris Novak: Alright, so here we are for the US Title Match. Jeff won with a Swanton Bomb. This was about what you’d expect from these two at this point. Nothing offensive about it, but a match that was good, not great. Curious to see what’s next for thee two. They’ll be prime contenders for the MITB match. I figure since they’ve been involving him, Shelton Benjamin may be next in line for a title shot with Jeff, which would be fun. OR Andrade Almas, which would be even more fun.

Robert O’Neill: Randy Orton is bad, so this match was good to me.

Chris Novak: Here comes Elias, the greatest performer of our lifetime. He says he’s talked to NJ icon Bruce Springsteen, and wants to perform a song for him. He goes to, but then says he wants to leave then. He has a few indecisive moments before going down to play again. “Bruce needs to hear this!”

And here comes… The New Day! They say they want to have a dual-brand concert and walk with Elias. Elias says he’s a solo act, however. New Day starts playing with their instruments (cymbals, Francesca, and a big ol’ drum). Elias says there’s something there and maybe they can open for Elias. Then he goes to perform and… MY GOD, THAT’S THE SOUND OF AIDEN ENGLISH’S HARMONIC VOICE! Rusev says there’s only one person who can celebrate a day in their honor. Not “Bootleg Bob Dylan” or “The Booty Boys.” It’s him! Elias again goes to perform… and HERE COMES NO WAY JOSE!! New Jersey let out a big pop for Jose, and him and his conga line went on down to the ring. Elias wants NO MORE interruptions… and goes to perform again…

And here comes Bobby Roode! Roode hits the Glorious DDT and drops Elias to another big pop. Hilarious and fun segment here.

Robert O’Neill: I’m pretty sure Elias and The New Day are the two most entertaining acts in all of WWE, so when you put them together and add Rusev Day and BOB ROODE, you’re in for some fun. This show has been mostly entertaining so far. I can’t complain.

Chris Novak: Time now for Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass. So, Bryan bumped like crazy for Cass and made him tap out rather emphatically. Surprising way of going about things, but the ends justify the means. Cass gets in a very good beatdown of Bryan after the match and got “YOU TAPPED OUT!” and “ASSHOLE!” chants. When that happens, you can’t really call any of this a failure. So, this worked and was effective.

Robert O’Neill: I don’t like the finish, because Cass needed a win more than Bryan, but I think the post match stuff makes up for it.

Chris Novak: On to Charlotte-Carmella, which I was not high on going into. And as it turns out, unfortunately, my preconceived notions were on the money. Carmella still has a lot to work on, but Charlotte did not help that match at all, either. Charlotte went for a Moonsault at the end of it, and landed on her feet after Carmella moved out of the way. She ‘tweaked’ her knee, Carmella kicked her in the leg and pinned her. That was definitely a wrestling match.

WWE

WWE

Styles-Nakamura III time. If AJ isn’t wearing a cup, he deserves what he gets. Welp, these two fought for a while. And then they punched each other in the nuts. And then they kicked each other in the nuts. And the match went to a double countout. Welp.

Robert O’Neill: It was a really good match up until then! I guess I get it, but I would have rather seen Nakamura win given the stipulation.

Chris Novak: Alright, it’s on to a tag match that we’ve seen… multiple times these past few weeks.

WWE

WWE

Robert O’Neill: Owens/Zayn vs. Braun/Lashley was weird because the faces won and they also kind of did the exact finish they did when this match was on Raw two weeks ago, but I guess there’s tension between Owens and Zayn now?

Chris Novak: I don’t know what to make of any of this. Even Braun couldn’t rescue this crowd at this point.

Robert O’Neill: Well, Roman Reigns beat Samoa Joe after eating a ton of Joe’s moves but ultimately got the upper hand with a spear. Sound familiar? Yup. They keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result which is an interesting strategy.

Chris Novak: Yuck, that was bad.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Backlash was always going to be a bit of a throwaway PPV, and that’s pretty much what it was. With the exception of Miz/Rollins, which was a match of the year candidate, and the Elias segment, this felt like an episode of Raw at best. Nothing that happened really matter, and despite the best Styles/Nakamura match we’ve seen so far, the ending soured me. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe was one of the worst matches of the year, all things considered. I’m glad this Mania-Shakeup-GRR-Backlash stretch is over and there isn’t another show for six weeks. It gives them a much-needed chance to hit the reset button. C-

Chris Novak: This wasn’t the worst show ever. That being said, it was still a bad show. Even with the epic Rollins-Miz match in mind. The women’s matches were nothing special at all, with Carmella-Charlotte being positively awful. The WWE Title Match was fine, with an ending that assures this feud will continue… even though we’re nearing ad nauseum with it at this point. And they haven’t had the hit match that everyone expected them to have. The main event sucked, and they’re still doing this Roman thing in the worst possible way. This stretch from Mania to now has been dreadful, and hopefully they dig themselves out of the hole they created for themselves. C- for me as well.

WWE Backlash Predictions

Ruby Riott vs. Bayley

Rob: It’s cool that they’re continuing this feud between the Riott Squad and Bayley and Sasha. I still have fairly high hopes for the Riott Squad, but I really think WWE needs to pull the trigger on a full-blown Bayley/Sasha feud. Prediction: Ruby Riott

Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Miz

TC: There’s been a lot of clusterfuck booking over the past month, hopefully this signals the end of it. As much of a fan of Mr. Mizanin that I am, it’s kind of a given that he’ll lose his single’s rematch. Prediction: Seth Rollins

Robert: This is where we run into problems with this show. This match is for the Intercontinental Title, a Raw championship. Miz is on Smackdown. The United States title is the midcard title on Smackdown. The United States title match features two Smackdown wrestlers. Prediction: Seth Rollins

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy(c) vs. Randy Orton

TC: These two had a really good program about 10.5 years ago on Raw. While I don’t expect this one to equal up to that, I’m sure they can get a decent match going to hype the crowd up (I’m sure it will be the opener). Going out on a limb here and I’ll say that Jeff Hardy retains by DQ after an Orton heel turn. Prediction: Jeff Hardy by DQ

Robert: It would be really dumb for Randy Orton to win given the fact that Hardy just won the title a couple weeks ago. Prediction: Jeff Hardy

RAW Women's Championship: Nia Jax (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

TC: Not much I look forward to on Monday nights other than Alexa Bliss segments, she’s been really amazing since losing her championship at WrestleMania. Surprisingly, they had a really good match at WrestleMania, and here’s to another “clinic” this weekend. Prediction: Nia Jax

Robert: It would be really dumb for Alexa to win given how they’ve booked Nia the past couple months. Prediction: Nia Jax

Smackdown Women's Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Charlotte Flair

TC: Charlotte held the Raw Women’s title four separate times in the first 8 months of that championship’s existence, with each gap being less than four weeks long. It’ll be just under four weeks since losing to Carmella after WrestleMania, so they have to do something different here. Since it’s not Sasha Banks, it’s almost a given that Charlotte will lose here, with some assistance from The IIconics. Prediction: Carmella

Robert: It would be really dumb for Charlotte to win given how they’ve booked everything since Carmella’s cash-in. Prediction: Carmella

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

TC: There’s literally no reason to burn a Daniel Bryan vs. Miz matchup this early on, so I don’t understand the bickering fans on the internet (I never do). They’ll be complaining again after Sunday when Big Cass goes over Daniel Bryan, which is necessary for his character to build some momentum going into the summer. Prediction: Big Cass

Robert: See, this is actually kind of intriguing! I think the smart thing to do would be to give Cass the win cause Bryan is a top guy who has been made to look awesome since Wrestlemania, and Cass never really got the full push they were looking for before his injury last year. Prediction: Big Cass

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

TC: Bobby Lashley couldn’t be any less interesting right now upon his return to WWE. A partnership (hopefully turned rivalry) with Braun Strowman is a good way to build him up going forward. Apparently, Lashley was gold as a heel in iMPACT, and they’d be smart to let him do his thing against the most popular guy on the Raw roster at the moment. For the time being though, they’ll get a win here to lead up to that. Prediction: Braun and Lashley

Robert: I’m really trying hard to be optimistic about this PPV but… we literally saw this match two weeks ago on Raw! Why are they running it again?!? I would really like to see miscommunication between Strowman and Lashley lead to a KO/Zayn win and a mini-feud between the big guys. Let’s go with that. Prediction: Owens/Zayn

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe

TC: Joe’s been on one with pulling Roman’s card for the last few weeks (all facts btw). Roman on the other hand has been on a bit of a losing streak since WrestleMania. Roman gets the win here which leads to a frustrated Joe getting himself involved in the main event. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Robert: WWE wants Reigns to be the guy but never wants him to actually win, so I’ll take Samoa Joe. Prediction: Samoa Joe

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

TC: With SmackDown Live GM Paige announcing this past week that this is now a No DQ match, I suspect we’ll get some funky outcome in this match. Look for ol’ Joey Samoey to get involved here and assert himself into the WWE title picture going forward.

Robert: This is the most intriguing match of the night. If logic prevails (which is rare in WWE), Nakamura should win. It’s a no-DQ match and Nak’s big thing has been the low blow, which Styles hasn’t shown any ability to stop. Plus, having Nakamura lose for a third time in a month would kind of ruin this feud. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

The fallout from Wrestlemania plays out as superstars debut, return this week in WWE

Robert O’Neill: We’re off and rolling with the post-Mania Raw! Stephanie McMahon is out putting herself over and has invited Ronda Rousey to the ring. Business is about to pick up.

Chris Novak: Andddddd Steph’s arm was ripped off again! This crowd chanting “You Deserve It!” and the “Na Na Na Na (Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye)” sing-songing is just outrageous. Away we go!

Robert O’Neill: Nia is in a tag match with… someone! Facing Alexa and Mickie. I think I know what’s coming here.

Chris Novak: EMBERRRRRRR! Ember Moon is on RAW! Heck of an addition to the division. Good little showcase here. She dropped Alexa Bliss with the Eclipse and pinned the former RAW Women’s Champ. Nice debut for her. A very nice debut.

Robert O’Neill: We now cut to Kurt Angle who… is on the phone. That’s new and refreshing. Anyway, Braun and NICHOLAS are here and they’re giving up the tag titles, because NICHOLAS has a scheduling conflict. Because he’s a child. And still in school.

Chris Novak: That’s No Way Jose! A good squash to debut him with. So, Cesaro and Sheamus are facing the winner of the “Tag Team Eliminator” in Saudi Arabia. Two matches tonight, one next week. Hmmm…

Robert O’Neill: Ahem. TOP GUYS WATCH! They’re facing The Club, which will be a hoot. They’ve had a lot of fun matches this year.

Chris Novak: The Top Guys *won* the match, no less, with a Shatter Machine on Karl Anderson. Solid win for them. Alignment of this match though says their luck might run out next week. Alas. Anyways, here’s the new Intercontinental Champion, Seth Rollins!

Robert O’Neill: BURN IT DOOOOOWWWWWWWNNNNNN. Remember how dumb that was?

Chris Novak: And now everyone loves it!

Robert O’Neill: So after like 10 minutes of great back and forth banter between Seth and Miz, Miz challenged Balor and Rollins to a 3 on 2 match against the Miztourage and Jeff Hardy came out to defend Balor and Rollins! Miztourage retreated, but I’m here for this.

Chris Novak: It’s always great to see Jeff Hardy. I’m glad he’s back. The Raw midcard is pretty awesome.

Robert O’Neill: Alright we’re gonna just keep rolling right along. Mandy vs. Sasha. Mandy’s out with Absolution. Sasha is out alone. Here we go… oh. Bayley’s coming out. Alright then.

Chris Novak: And then Bayley knocks Sasha down!

Robert O’Neill: Have we considered that Bayley is the bad friend?

Chris Novak: I’m not getting into this.

Robert O’Neill: After the match, Paige got on the mic and announced her retirement. These promos are always gut-wrenching to watch. That one was right up there with Edge’s. I hope WWE finds something for Paige in another role.

Chris Novak: Just tragic for her. She started four years ago in NOLA and now has to retire in NOLA. What a sad story, man.

Robert O’Neill: Elias performed a nice song for the fans and got interrupted by BOBBY LASHLEY! That was certainly unexpected.

Chris Novak: Lashley looks like an absolute tank. My goodness. Hopefully this turns out to be pretty great.

Robert O’Neill: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were in Kurt Angle’s office posturing for a job. Kurt told them TNA was hiring. I’m not even making that up. It was amazing. Anyways, they’re facing each other later and the winner gets a Raw contract!

Chris Novak: That TNA rib was the hardest I’ve ever laughed about anything in wrestling in a long time. Maybe ever. It was just so out of nowhere and delivered so well that it was freaking incredible.

Robert O’Neill: Heath Slater and Rhyno are out for a tag match and MY GOD. THAT’S THE AUTHORS OF PAIN. AOP wins it fairly easily and symbolically dump Paul Ellering. This was the right move. Paul wasn’t going to go on the road with them, and he did more than anyone could have ever dreamed for them. They’re in good hands now.

Chris Novak: It’s great that the big boys are finally on the main roster.

Robert O’Neill: Roman’s out to cut a promo. It’s kind of the same promo he’s been cutting the past few weeks about how Brock Lesnar isn’t there, because he wasn’t there. A short time later, SAMOA JOE comes out, and this is apparently going to be your feud of the spring, and I’m here for it. Joe is excellent on the mic and I can’t wait to see him get back in the ring.

Chris Novak: Samoa Joe cut an absolutely money promo. As always.

Robert O’Neill: Titus Worldwide has a tag team eliminator match against… Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt! That’s new and exciting, I guess. Hardy and Wyatt win and will face The Revival next week.

Chris Novak: I’m willing to give Hardy and Bray a chance here. So far, so good, honestly.

Robert O’Neill: Time for Owens vs. Zayn. The winner gets a Raw contract! They had a good match, as the previous five hundred matches between them have been, and it ended in a double countout, so neither one gets a contract!

Chris Novak: Kind of a silly and expected way to do it. I imagine we’ll keep seeing these types of matches happen as time progresses. We’ll see, though.

Robert O’Neill: We cut backstage to see Seth and Finn and Jeff Hardy coming to the ring, and they come across Matt and Bray, which leads to a very entertaining segment. My god. Am I gonna get sucked back into Bray Wyatt?

Chris Novak: That was an extremely entertaining segment! I might be getting sucked back in too...

Robert O’Neill: The faces pick up the victory in the main event, and it seems safe to say that Miz is either going to Smackdown or taking some time off to spend time with his new daughter given the amount of finishers he and the Miztourage ate following the match.

Chris Novak: My guess is paternity leave. But we’ll see! Fun Raw.

Quick Results

Ember Moon and Nia Jax d. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
No Way Jose d. John Skyler
The Revival d. Balor Club
Mandy Rose d. Sasha Banks
Authors of Pain d. Heath Slater and Rhyno
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt d. Titus Worldwide
Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and Jeff Hardy d. Miztourage

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: The Raw after Wrestlemania seldom disappoints, and this was no different. I really enjoyed everything they did, and the call-ups and returns mixed with next week’s shakeup are going to make for even more new and exciting matchups. Rollins will continue making the mid-card title feel important, and I have to imagine Reigns wins the title and brings it back to the fold at some point in the near future, right? A-

Chris Novak: God, what you said. That was a fun episode of Raw. Wegot call-ups, returns, surprises, etc. Some really good wrestling, too. Owens-Zayn was, as always, quite good. The six-man was entertaining. Looking forward to seeing what the Raw brand has dished out going forward. A-

Chris Novak: Time for the fallout of WrestleMania, SmackDown! Live edition! Daniel Bryan’s now a full-time superstar, per the Commissioner, Shane McMahon. He reveals the new GM and it’s… PAIGE!!! Outstanding. Very glad that she’s gonna be sticking around here. Her talking skills can’t really be denied, and she definitely has a very strong presence on the mic. This is a home run choice.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah this is awesome. Everyone was expecting Hogan or Jarrett, so this was kind of out of nowhere. It’s awesome to see her still being utilized.

Chris Novak: Paige says she wants to give the fans a night they won’t ever forget. So she announces that Daniel Bryan will compete for the first time on TV in three years… AGAINST AJ STYLES! Oh my God, I need a cigarette already.

Robert O’Neill: New Day/Usos #234728937 is a go! I’m not complaining, either. These two should fight forever. They’re two of the 10 best tag teams in WWE history.

Chris Novak: Two things could happen here… a call-up interferes, or The New Day win and essentially write The Usos off of SDL. Time will tell to see how this plays out. Anyhow, The Usos wound up winning. Them and New Day delivered yet again, as if that’s a surprise. Bludgeon Brothers came out and pointed their mallets at The Usos. INTIMIDATION~!!!!~!~!

Chris Novak: Nattie and Naomi had a verbal spat backstage earlier today, so now they’re going to be in a match. Hoping this is more than passable.

Robert O’Neill: It won’t be. Natalya sucks.

Chris Novak: Hahahahahaha, that Nakamura interview was just TREMENDOUS!

Robert O’Neill: Anyways, here’s Charlotte! She’s talkin’ about her match and what not and OH MY GOD IT’S THE ICONIC DUO

Chris Novak: Peyton and Billie cut a promo, running Charlotte down. They knocked that out of the park and then some. Then they proceed to beat the absolute hell out of Charlotte and leave her laying in the ring… AND THAT’S CARMELLA’S MUSIC!! She cashed in and kicked Charlotte in the head, and got the pin fall! Carmella’s the new SmackDown Live Women’s Champion!

Robert O’Neill: For as much shit as they got for seemingly not having a plan for Carmella’s eventual cash-in, that was excellent.

Chris Novak: Extremely happy for Carmella, who seems like a genuinely good person.

Robert O’Neill: Wow, Smackdown is taking place on Rusev Day. What are the odds?

Chris Novak: So, Rusev, Bobby Roode and Randy Orton are facing off to see who faces Jinder Mahal at Backlash for the United States Championship. This match is, pretty much, going as expected. And Randy Orton wins. They’ve managed to bungle this not once, but twice in three days!

Robert O’Neill: I generally don’t criticize booking, but yeah they’re being really stupid with Rusev.

Chris Novak: AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan are, really, for real, wrestling on TV. In 2018. First-run. This is incredible stuff.

Robert O’Neill: Good lord that was awesome to watch. And Nakamura interfering to make it a no-contest was awesome. I’m gonna like heel Nak,

Chris Novak: Heel Nakamura already looks awesome. This is exciting stuff!

Quick Results

Usos d. New Day
Naomi d. Natalya
Carmella d. Charlotte to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Randy Orton d. Bob Roode and Rusev
Daniel Bryan d. AJ Styles (DQ)

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: I’ll be honest, I thought I wasn’t going to like Smackdown this week. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. I had just watched like 25 hours of wrestling content in the past week and was worried about burnout. It didn’t come though. Smackdown delivered and then some. Sure, Natalya having a match was stupid, and I’m not at all looking forward to Jinder/Orton #238579, but there was more good than bad here. Heel Nak, Iconic Duo, Paige as GM, Bryan/Styles, it all worked for me. I’m interested in seeing what happens next week in the shakeup. A-

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live hit it out of the park, besides the whole Jinder/Orton screwup. Everything about this show hit the right notes. The Iconic Duo look like absolute STARS on their first night and Carmella’s moment was fun. Bryan/Styles was better than Nakamura/Styles from the weekend, and even after three years, Bryan looks like the best wrestler in the world again. What a time to be alive. A-