Posts tagged Elias
This Week in WWE: Wildcard, bitches
Raw logo.png

Chris Novak: Raw’s supposed to start with Roman Reigns. This has been something that’s been heavily discussed for whatever reason this week. But, whatever. Long as this works out and has a point, it’s okay. And since one of the people he’s been feuding with (read: Shane McMahon) bounces around the shows, then I don’t see why Roman can’t.

Anyways, that’s Vince McMahon’s music. So, Mr. McMahon’s starting the show actually. I would wager this, certainly, has a lot to do with the aforementioned paragraph. Vince says it’ll be a night to remember, because he’s here. Before he can go any further, Roman Reigns comes down to the ring. Last time they shared a ring, of course, Reigns caught him with the Superman Punch.

Robert O’Neill: Vince says he better not think of trying it again, and also he’s on Smackdown so why is he on Raw right now? Roman tells him to check his tone, because he wants to leave Raw better than he found it. Vince and his kids said the fans are the authority now, but that was a lie! Vince goes to respond but DANIEL BRYAN’S MUSIC HITS!

Chris Novak: Well… if you wanted my attention, boy, you got it. Bryan says he’s spent the last month in solitude, and now hoped to have an intellectual conversation. Before he can continue, Kofi Kingston makes his way out here.

Robert O’Neill: After Bryan and Kofi goes back and forth, Vince has an epiphany! He’s instating a “wildcard rule” where three Raw superstars can be on Smackdown and three Smackdown superstars can be on Raw. Neat.

Chris Novak: Don’t hate it as a concept going forward. We’ll see how they utilize it. Don’t really have a strong opinion either way. AJ Styles comes out, and he asks him, basically, what the hell he’s doing. Seth Rollins is now on his way out, so we’re still working here on our opening promo. We learn soon enough that Styles and Rollins are teaming up to face a tag team after the break. Who will it be? I suppose we’ll find out.

Robert O’Neill: Bob Lashley and Baron Corbin! Well, that should have been expected. It’s also fine, the story is between Rollins and Styles here. The two get along for most of the long match, but Styles catches Rollins with an inadvertent Phenomenal Forearm after Corbin ducked, and then Styles left instead of helping Rollins, as he got hit with an End of Days. That told the necessary story.

Miz has pulled up a chair right outside Shane McMahon’s dressing room, as he awaits Shane’s arrival.

Sami Zayn is here! He goes on about how the crowd is dumb and bad (correct) and then he gets interrupted by Braun Strowman, who isn’t pleased with him and decides to chase him around the ring and into the back, where he threw Sami into a dumpster which then got put into a garbage truck.

Lucha House Party got a win over some jobbers. Alrighty!

Ricochet is facing Robert Roode, and Ricochet’s Money in the Bank spot is on the line. Stakes!

Chris Novak: It’s obviously nice that they addressed this. They could’ve done it last week, but oh well. The match was fine and Ricochet got his win back. Not a surprising development in the least.

They showed a recap of last week’s events between Rey Mysterio and Samoa Joe. Announced was a United States Championship Match between the two of them. Once again, not a surprising development. Mysterio and Dominick were shown backstage, and Mysterio went into his locker room while Dominick walked away. Ominously… Samoa Joe was seen walking behind him. Probably not great news for Dom, if any horror movie ever made suggests.

Joe then is seen with him. I enjoyed the air quotes around “Uncle Eddie.” I almost wish he referenced that storyline. Joe runs him down and says that he needs to send his father a message, and that’s that he will enjoy what he’s going to do at Money in the Bank.

Up next is Lacey Evans, who’s competing in a match. Her opponent is a local talent, and she wanted the entire locker room to come down to ringside. Lord knows why.

Robert O’Neill: Lacey beats a jobber and then calls up Becky Lynch, who comes out swinging! Lacey leaves before Becky can lock in the Dis-Arm-Her.

Chris Novak: I didn’t mind this segment at all. For one, the use of a squash to put Lacey over as a legitimate threat is a good one. Secondly, having her warn and threaten the MITB competitors not to pull a fast one on her was also totally fine with me too. In fact, I think it was an effective way of getting everything in the mix. I know there are people that are going to want more out of the division, but… what more can you get out of this division right now? They did Alexa vs. Naomi last week. Any throw together tag match would’ve gotten the same usual complaints that we get.

Robert O’Neill: The Viking Raiders also beat some jobbers. Oh, wait, those were Raw Tag Team Champions Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins. Enough already. You have more than enough good tag teams to get the belt off the comedy act.

Chris Novak: Friend, you need to really calm down. There’s going to be an end to these means. It’s fine. The match was also fine, but obviously dominated by the Raiders, who’ve looked good from the jump. Now that they pinned the champs, I’d expect to see them face off at MITB. Which, hey, I’m okay with it.

Robert O’Neill: This week on Firefly Funhouse, Mercy the Buzzard has something in his box but he’s hiding it from Bray. OH MY GOD HE ATE RAMBLIN’ RABBIT. Bray says it’s okay though. You can be forgiven no matter what happens. In fact, Mercy should be rewarded.

Chris Novak: RIP Ramblin’ Rabbit. Why is this stuff so ridiculous and brilliant each week? I continue to be a huge fan of it all.

Robert O’Neill: Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre are up next in a Wrestlemania rematch. This should be pretty good. I enjoyed their match at Mania quite a bit, aside from the stupid crowd.

Chris Novak: Turns out… it was pretty good! May have been Roman’s best outing since he came back, may have been one of Drew’s best outings in a long time. Really enjoyed this match, well, up until the non-finish at the end (even if it did make sense). Shane McMahon and Elias came down to beat down Reigns. Miz then came by the chase and fend them off. Shane went running, and Miz caught up with him and beat him up with a chair.

All around, very effective stuff here. Hope we get a Miz-Roman tag team match out of this against Shane and Elias. Or something of that ilk.

I have no real comment on the segment between The Usos and The Revival.

Robert O’Neill: I think they could be approaching a feud better between two very good teams but once they finally get in the ring it’ll be fine.

Chris Novak: Lars Sullivan attacked No Way Jose. Why? I don’t know.

Kofi Kingston puts his WWE Championship on the line against Daniel Bryan next. The match was really good. What a surprise, right? There was a pretty tremendous end sequence here, where eventually, Kofi caught him with Trouble in Paradise to retain. This wasn’t quite as great of a match as they had at WrestleMania but, for a lot of reasons, it was never going to eclipse that anyway. Still a very, VERY good match.

Robert O’Neill: That was a really good TV match. Nice to see Bryan back in action.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Weird show, just from a format perspective. Have no idea what to make of this Wildcard stuff but if they don’t go OD with it, it’ll probably be just okay. But aside from that and some of the weird stuff in the 3rd hour, the work rate here was great and both WrestleMania rematches kicked ass. I’ll give this show a B-.

Robert O’Neill: I enjoyed more than I didn'’t enjoy, and that’s good enough for me. They still struggle to fill three hours, but having more hits than misses is good. Wildcard, bitches. B

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Chris Novak: Alright, so we’re continuing on this Wildcard Rule stuff, and AJ Styles is back on Smackdown Live for the moment. I’ll try not to get too frustrated about this or anything. I just hope this doesn’t get too out of hand going forward, is really all that I ask. The good thing, I suppose, is that he’s over like rover. Styles talks for a moment until Sami Zayn arrives. So, Sami’s alive after being thrown in a dumpster last night. Good to know.

Zayn and Styles (which also could double as a reference to The X Factor) banter for a bit, until Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods arrive. Kingston wonders what Styles is doing here, and they get a bit contentious. Woods quotes Ice Cube, telling Styles to check himself before he wrecks himself. Kingston ponders what Styles is going to do about it before Sami intervenes. Sami suggests that Kofi not do this because the people aren’t happy for him. He’s caught in a web and also, that he deserves a WWE Championship opportunity instead of AJ.

Kofi and Xavier roast him for how he smells like garbage. And also, Kofi adds that he considers himself a fighting champion and that he’ll defend the title against EITHER Styles or Zayn. He says it doesn’t matter which it is, because he’ll remain as WWE Champion.

Ali vs. Andrade is next.  

Robert O’Neill: That was an awesome opening segment. I like the wild card rule so far. I’m just wondering how they’re gonna keep it fresh every week, but for now it’s good.

Chris Novak: We’ll get ourselves a Triple Threat Match later out of this segment, so that will be a good deal of fun.

Ali-Andrade was a fun but short match, interrupted by Randy Orton. Orton ate some kicks from them both but then hit Ali with a pop-up RKO. Andrade then leapt at him but Orton dropped HIM with an RKO too. So, decent segment here, although I certainly wish we could’ve gotten more time out of Ali-Andrade.

Robert O’Neill: I would be interested in an Ali-Orton feud if Andrade wins the briefcase like I think he’s going to. I think they would work very well together. I liked this match but was fine with how it ended.

Shane McMahon is here to announce the new tag team champions, but first he has to talk about how he’s not a fan of what The Miz has been up to lately. He’s going to emerge from the steal cage at Money in the Bank in victory yet again.

And now it’s time to announce the new tag team champions. It’s… Daniel Bryan and Rowan! But before Bryan and Rowan can accept, The Usos come out! They said instead of Shane just handing the titles to Bryan and Rowan, they should have a match for them, to which Shane agrees.

Chris Novak: Oh, I am all the way here for this one, baby.

Robert O’Neill: The match is, unsurprisingly, absolutely awesome. The Usos are probably the best tag team in WWE history and Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler on the planet, so it all comes together and is beautiful here. Even Rowan was very good! He got the pin with the Iron Claw to get Bryan and Rowan the tag titles.

Chris Novak: God, that match kicked so much ass. One of the better tags of the entire year so far. Rowan looked great! For once!

Robert O’Neill: Shane McMahon has news about the Money In The Bank ladder matches. Before he can get to the point, Miz comes out and attacks him! But the B-Team come out to save Shane, and while Miz is fighting them off, Shane hits Miz with a chair from behind.

Chris Novak: Well… sure. I mean, sure. I don’t know what exactly he was going to announce, but I suppose that’s not the point here. Miz getting beaten down before his ultimate comeuppance works fine with me, as that’s probably going to be the plan.

Robert O’Neill: Mandy and Sonya face off with Ember Moon and Carmella next. This match was… alright. Mandy and Sonya won as Bayley was supposed to be in the match but was removed without explanation.. Perhaps there’s something more to that. Perhaps not. Who knows.

Chris Novak: Mandy gets a big win. Still wondering what happened with Bayley and Charlotte, but that’ll be a mystery I suppose. Paige came out after and said next week, Mandy and Sonya will face Asuka and Kairi. Okay, cool!

Another Aleister Black vignette aired. I’m still wondering where this is headed, but this has all worked well for me so far.

So, the WWE Championship Triple Threat Match proceeded onwards, and it was a doozy. Kingston retained after pinning Sami Zayn after Trouble in Paradise. Kevin Owens got involved, and for a little while, it was between he and Sami after Styles was out of commission for a bit. The match was fire and was, in my view, the best match all week. A good end to this show.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: I’ll save more of my comments on this whole Wildcard deal on the podcast this week. But we got some great matches out of this thing. That being said, it’s not without its faults. It didn’t disrupt SmackDown Live too much, but I definitely felt like this show needed some more zip. I’ll give it a B and keep it moving.

Robert O’Neill: Bayley and Charlotte disappearing was weird, but I liked more than I disliked, particularly the main event match. B+

This Week in WWE: The Phenomenal One rises again, KO's old habits die hard
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Robert O’Neill: The first Raw after the Superstar Shakeup looks positively loaded, with WWE having announced a pair of triple threat matches to decide the #1 contender for Seth Rollins’ title:

AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (who is on Raw now, more on that in a moment) vs. Rey Mysterio in one, and Miz vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin in the other.

Additionally, Cesaro (who is also on Raw now) will be facing Cedric Alexander and Becky Lynch will face Alicia Fox.

As noted, Samoa Joe and Cesaro are on Raw now. Andrade, Zelina Vega, and Aleister Black are on Smackdown.

Chris Novak: The show, officially, is starting up with Triple H. Not sure what The Game has to say/what’s on his mind, but we’ll soon see. Before he even gets started, Seth Rollins, who’s from iowa in case you didn’t know, comes out. Seth touts up the fact that he’s home, which naturally garners a loud reception. Triple H touts up his victory and points out how the landscape has changed and that he’s now the measuring stick. Rollins says he’s fine with everyone gunning for him though.

Robert O’Neill: Samoa Joe comes out and says that Becky Lynch is onto something with the double champion concept and he would like to be a double champion as well! Then Rey Mysterio comes out and says that he wants to face Seth! Then Drew McIntyre tells them it doesn’t matter what they think or what the people think, and the only reason Seth is champion is because he got to Brock first. Miz says that he’s faced Rollins before, but he’s a different man now and wants to do it again.

Chris Novak: This is pretty much your basic, stock revolving door promo. Baron Corbin comes out and says he’s the most deserving man to challenge Seth. He points out that he retired a legend at WrestleMania. AJ Styles comes on out, last but not least, of course. Styles says, of course, that he intends on winning and showing why SmackDown was the house that AJ Styles built. Seth then says he’s up for the task and will burn it down, yada yada, and now we’re on to our first Triple Threat Match -- AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe.

Robert O’Neill: What a damn match. These three guys are all over 40 and had one of the best TV matches of the year. Samoa Joe did a super double backdrop, and AJ Styles got the win after taking down Joe, then Styles Clashing Mysterio on top of him. That was incredible.

Chris Novak: It certainly was great.

Now we’re getting Naomi vs. Billie Kay. Last week, Naomi got the pin for the win last week in a tag team match featuring new SmackDown superstar, Bayley. Now, Naomi’s on her own. What ever will she do now? Well, for Naomi’s sake, hopefully defeat Billie Kay.

She defeated Billie Kay with a sunset flip. The match was… very short.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah that seems like it could have been a bit longer!

Chris Novak: They ran another Bray Wyatt vignette.

Triple Threat Match #2 is about to start. Unsurprisingly, this winds up being a pretty great match too. Drew showed out big time, and so did Miz. Corbin played his role pretty well here too. Lot of great near falls towards the end of this one. Corbin won after McIntyre hit the Claymore Kick on Miz. He snuck in, sent Mac flying and got the pin. Honestly, a pretty smartly booked finish. I don’t love the prospect of Corbin-Rollins at all, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Robert O’Neill: Sami Zayn is here! He’s telling everyone the truth about themselves, and accuses everyone of being in denial, then starts showing everyone all the vacations he took over the past 10 months and how happy he was. And now he’s not happy because the WWE structure sucks and the people around him suck and Des Moines sucks. He closes by saying everyone should take a trip… to hell!

Chris Novak: As usual, a legitimately funny promo again from Sami.

Cedric Alexander vs. Cesaro is NEXT!

Turned out to be a pretty solid match, honestly. Cesaro picked up the win after destroying Cedric with an uppercut. Ceddy got some good offense in but, in the end, it was Cesaro who prevailed. Dug this entirely, to be perfectly honest.

Robert O’Neill: The newly-named Viking Raiders demolished Lucha House Party. Alright then!

Becky Lynch is here now. She’s not pleased with Lacey Evans, and was kind of problematic about it. So here’s Lacey now, and she’s naturally not pleased with Becky and wants her to know to be on high alert at Money In The Bank. That was effective but, again, kind of not great on Becky’s end.

Chris Novak: I don’t think you can say “kind of.” She was problematic. Don’t care for the direction here and, quite frankly, don’t care much for the promo battle in general.

Becky’s now facing Alicia Fox. I can give you a few guesses to how this match will go. It actually went… a bit differently than I expected. Even though Becky win, it certainly went longer than I expected it would. Nevertheless, she won, and Lacey Evans came in and hit her with The Women’s Right two times.

Robert O’Neill: That match went a bit long but it worked out in the end.

Ricochet is here now for a match with Robert Roode. He has a mustache now and his name is Robert.

Chris Novak: Hey, it’s a throwback to Robert Roode Inc. He also just has a stache now so he looks like Rick Rude. Is that what they’re trying to play off of? Who’s to really say?

This match went… fine. I guess. I think I’m suddenly remembering why Roode as a singles guy got really old really quickly. It’s not that this is bad. It’s just not very high-energy. The Des Moines crowd doesn’t particularly help matters, either. Also… very surprising result in that Roode beat Ricochet. That’s the… first loss that I can remember Ricochet having in a while.

Robert O’Neill: I enjoyed the match. Bob Roode is the Iowa of wrestlers, so they should have liked it more.

BRAY WYATT IS A CHILDREN’S HOST NOW.

Chris Novak: God damn that vignette was awesome hahaha. Time for Styles-Corbin.

A Moment of Bliss is set to take place next week, in which Alexa will be announcing the Raw side of things. Sure do wonder if she’s going to announce herself as one of the participants (she’s probably going to).

Okay! That was a SURPRISING result (in a good way!). AJ Styles defeated Baron Corbin with the Phenomenal Forearm. Match was pretty solid. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty intrigued

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, they got me I thought Corbin was going to win and everyone online was going to be very mad about it. This was a nice surprise.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Just like every week, I enjoyed Raw and found myself entertained throughout. This is where it gets difficult to assign a letter grade because if you compare it to the fall when the show was actually awful, it’s night and day. Every show obviously isn’t an A+, but when most things hit and I’m not bored or displeased by everything, it deserves an A-

Chris Novak: I’m going to give this show a B. It was not nearly as bad as people thought it was going to be, and helped to set some pieces for future development. I look forward to seeing who’s going to be in MITB next week during AMOB. The in-ring action was pretty good, although the women’s matches… missed the mark for me. So that’s why I’m going to give this a B. A quality show that could’ve definitely been aided by better in-ring work in certain departments.

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Chris Novak: SmackDown Live is beginning with Shane McMahon. I have a hunch that we’ll probably spend the next few minutes hearing Greg Hamilton call him the best in the world. If that sounds a little cynical, I’m sorry, but this has certainly gotten a bit old. Alright, luckily they didn’t do this for too long. Shane says he’s here to talk about Roman Reigns and what he did to Vince last week. He goes over possible options for discipline, but instead just orders that he come out here. So, naturally, here comes Roman to the ring.

Robert O’Neill: He squared up with Shane, but Elias came out from behind and attacked and the Big Dog fell to the numbers. Not ideal!

Chris Novak: Roman is going to need to find some friends. Anyways, Andrade and Finn Balor are about to face off again. The match was fun, although I think their Raw match was better. Finn got the better of him this time around after a misdial by Zelina Vega. I’m digging this feud and don’t really care that they 50-50’d it. This all really worked for me.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah that was fun. I’m here for that continuing as an Intercontinental Title feud

Peyton Royce is facing Kairi Sane as the tag scene continues to be developed. Sane gets the win relatively quickly, as the IIconics look weak for the second straight night.

Chris Novak: “Look weak.” There’s never been another setting for the IIconics, Rob. Never.

Aleister Black had a short vignette where he actually wore a t-shirt. Didn’t speak at length or anything, but I’m intrigued a bit to see where it all goes.

Chad Gable-Jinder Mahal is a match that was supposed to happen, but never did. Why? Lars Sullivan came out, beat up Chad Gable and the Singhs. R-Truth tried to avenge what happened last week, but he too caught a beatdown.

Roman Reigns was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the back. Reigns accepted Elias’ challenge for a match at Money in the Bank. So, that should be fun!

Robert O’Neill: Charlotte is here, and she’s ready to go face to face with Becky Lynch for the first time since Wrestlemania. That’s exciting. She’s not sure why she lost her title since Becky didn’t beat *her*, but Becky reminds Charlotte what winner takes all means.

But then Bayley comes out! And she’s tired of Charlotte getting all the opportunities all the time, and isn’t going to take it anymore!

Chris Novak: Two words: Fuck. Yeah. Bayley also told Becky that she’s never beaten her (Facts! At least on the main roster) before. This sets up a match between Bayley and Charlotte Flair, where the winner will get a future title shot at Becky Lynch.

Bayley and Charlotte’s match was an outstanding one. They did some great limb work with Bayley working through a bum knee that wound up being her undoing. Tremendous fire shown from her though, and great crowd chants in her direction (I’m shocked that everything reversed course here). Bayley didn’t win, as she succumbed to the Figure Eight. But she still looked great in defeat.

Becky doesn’t really have a problem with facing Lacey and/or Charlotte. Will that be her undoing? Time will tell!

Robert O’Neill: Really great match. Seems like they have big summer plans for Bayley, and I’m here for it.

Kofi Kingston vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is next!

Robert O’Neill: It was a very good match before Rusev (in a suit) interfered to cause a disqualification. Woods and Kevin Owens hit the ring to take care of Nakamura and Rusev, but the two get their shots in and it comes down to Kofi and Shinsuke yet again. Kofi takes him out but runs right into a Kevin Owens superkick! Owens spends the final few minutes of the show picking Kofi and Woods apart.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Well, if I gave Raw an A- and enjoyed Smackdown more than Raw, Smackdown gets an A! Fun stuff this week.

Chris Novak: God this show is so good. Week-to-week. We had a great, GREAT TV match in Bayley-Charlotte, some fun matches elsewhere, and a not-so-surprising heel turn by Kevin Owens to cap off the show. I look forward to KO-Kofi down the road. Give me an A for this show.

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.

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.

nxt takeover chicago.png

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

mitb.gif

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

Ruthless Aggression ep 20 - HBK Returns

Pierce Rob & Chris return to talk about RAW 470 & 471, and Smackdown 145 & 146, featuring the return of Chris Benoit after a year recovery from a neck injury, and after four long years, Shawn Michaels is back in the Federation! Plus, our thoughts on the CM Punk case, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and two really poor programs happening right now on RAW.

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

Rousey puts Trips through a table, Alexa, Roman prevail in Elimination Chamber

Robert O’Neill: It’s Elimination Chamber time! Well, almost. I want to start this off with the excellent Wrestlemania video package WWE showed near the end of the preshow focusing on the seven guys in the men’s chamber match, because it was fantastic.

Chris Novak: Looks like we’re getting a Chamber match to start. The question is, which?

Robert O’Neill: The women! Had to kinda figure, especially since the Rumble main evented and Braun is probably going to do some spots later where he destroys the chamber.

Chris Novak: Alright, so Bayley is starting. Interesting spot for her. Could prove to be intriguing. Could prove to nuke her. Who’s to say?! No, but this should be fun. I like all of these girls’ gear.

Robert O’Neill: Mandy being the first person out of their pod so her and Sonya and team up against Bayley is good storytelling. Bet Sasha is next.

Chris Novak: Well… obviously!

Robert O’Neill: Hey I was right! And now Sasha and Bayley are using their advantage and Sasha eliminated Mandy. And Mickie eliminated Sonya by diving off the pod! That was cool. And Bayley took out Mickie! Chaos! 

Chris Novak: Okay. That was SO GOOD. SO GOOD. Everyone played their parts extremely well. Bayley’s looking like a strong babyface. She got caught after the second-rope B2B, but that’s okay! Alexa’s smart like that. Sasha looked awesome (as always). The top of the pod Twisted Bliss into a Bank Statement was SO COOL.

Oh, wow. Are they babyfacing Alexa? Well, I mean, she’s super popular. She has a lot going for her. And… OH, YOU SNAKE! Alexa’s so good on the mic. So good. THAT is why they didn’t take the title off her.

Robert O’Neill: Alexa and Sasha and Bayley had their best showing in… quite some time. That was the point of this match. Also Sasha and Bayley are gonna have an Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio WM21 match at Mania this year and it’ll be a blast.

Chris Novak: Hey, here comes The Bar and… damn. A cooldown match AGAIN?

Robert O’Neill: I feel bad for The Bar. They’ve been in the cooldown match at like three straight PPVs and while each match has been good, you can tell the crowd hasn’t been into it. This was a fine match where they won to retain, but the tag division needs some direction, and the likely multi-team match at Wrestlemania probably won’t help.

Chris Novak: Nia-Asuka is quite great here. Probably one of Nia’s best performances so far, I’d say.

Robert O’Neill: Holy crap this post-match beatdown from Nia is fierce. She threw Asuka through the barricade!

Chris Novak: Well, they’re heating Nia up for… something.

Robert O’Neill: I’m not talking about Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy. Chris, if you want to, go for it. But I’m out. This is unfathomably stupid.

Chris Novak: At least Hardy salvaged it at the end. Here comes the Rousey contract signing…

WWE

WWE

Robert O’Neill: Trips and Steph are here with Angle? I smell shenanigans!

Chris Novak: And then there were… no shenanigans. Huh.

Robert O’Neill: Alright so, Ronda’s not great on the mic. That’s to be expected, plus nerves could have been a factor. But Angle being an instigating shitheel, Triple H getting put through a table by Ronda, and Stephanie being a full-blown heel and slapping Ronda really saved the segment. It started rough, but certainly recovered.

Chris Novak: Yeah, that got effective late. Ronda has charisma. She just may have had stage fright. Or, she needs to work out the kinks. I’m not surprised that she had trouble speaking publicly. Anyways, here’s the Elimination Chamber match.

WWE

WWE

Robert O’Neill: Alright this has been interesting so far. The pace is much slower than the women’s match, but it started to pick up after Miz’s elimination. It’s just odd that we’re currently right at the 10 PM CT mark and this match is nowhere near ending, but such is life in the WWE Network era. Overrun no longer matters.

Chris Novak: That it doesn’t… as evident by when this PPV ended!

Robert O’Neill: Miz and Elias have both been eliminated by Braun Strowman so far. He’ll probably be in the final two. And now Strowman eliminated Cena. It’s pretty clear how they want Strowman to look. Finn Balor got eliminated by… Braun Strowman! Seth Rollins looked good and also did a frog splash off the top of the pod but got eliminated by Braun Strowman! So we’re down to Roman and Braun, and Roman just threw him through the pod!

Chris Novak: And, unsurprisingly, Roman defeats Braun with two Spears and a few Superman Punches. That was a very good Chamber Match, #AsExpected.

Robert O’Neill: This was a fine show that was highlighted, in my opinion, by the women’s matches. Both were predictable but I liked the stories that were told, and I think both chamber matches themselves were pretty good despite the men’s one being a bit plodding at times. All in all, I’m very interested to see what happens on Raw, which is the point of a PPV.

Quick Results

Alexa Bliss d. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Mickie James, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville to retain the Raw Women’s Championship

The Bar d. Titus Worldwide to retain the Raw Tag Team Championships

Asuka d. Nia Jax

Matt Hardy d. Bray Wyatt

Roman Reigns d. Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, John Cena, Finn Balor, The Miz, and Elias to become the #1 Contender for the WWE Universal Championship

Elimination Chamber predictions
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Gallows and Anderson vs. Miztourage

Robert O'Neill: Gallows and Anderson have had a really nice 2018 so far as they’ve reestablished themselves as friends of Finn Balor, and it’s paid off in droves. They’ll probably be in some sort of multi-team match at Wrestlemania. Miztourage will too! It’ll be fun.

As far as this match… Gallows and Anderson will probably win. Maybe not. I don’t know. I’m picking them. Preshow matches are weird sometimes.

Chris Novak: Going to go with The Club here. They’ve heated them up a bit over the last few weeks, even with their feud against The Revival in mind. I have a… funny feeling that this is going to set up to something further down the line involving the leaders of these groups. Gonna say Gallows and Anderson win though so the crowd starts off happy.

Lincoln Ricketts: Gallows and Anderson needs this win, especially if Balor Club wants to be shown as a legit stable. This match can potentially set up a Miztourage v Balor Club feud heading towards Wrestlemania.

Winner: Gallows & Anderson

Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt

Rob: If you read the Raw and Smackdown recap every week you know these are two of my three or four least favorite characters in the whole company. It sucks, because Matt’s gimmick in TNA was so good and revolutionary and then WWE came and ruined it. I guess I’ll give Bray the win here because… he needs it? I guess? Sure.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

Chris Novak:  Thinking Matt Hardy wins here because they’ve talked about how he’s yet to beat Bray. I don’t know what’s to come for either of these two at Mania, which says a lot about what can happen in a year, eh? Bray was in the WWE TITLE MATCH LAST YEAR, and Matt was part of one of the best moments of the show. If not THE best. His brother’s absence has hampered things a little bit for him. But for Bray? Well… uh. Yeah.

Lynx: While this has been an underwhelming feud, I see this feud ending at Wrestlemania creating the WOKEN universe, so expect Bray to win.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

The Bar vs. Titus Worldwide

Rob: It’s kind of weird that they’re doing this match again, as it’s happened on Raw a bunch recently. They’ve all been pretty good matches, though, as these four work well together. The Bar will likely retain and head into Wrestlemania as champions.

Winners: The Bar

Chris: Titus Worldwide has dominated this feud so I think The Bar retain here. The problem I have here is I wonder if it’s gotten a little too stale. It feels like there’s more possibilities for a face team as the champs than a heel team. I won’t be surprised if Titus Worldwide wins, but I’m just going to pick The Bar right now.

Lynx: Sure, Titus Worldwide has had the number of the Raw Tag Team Champions but let’s be serious, The Bar are not losing to Titus Worldwide before Wrestlemania.

Winners: The Bar

Asuka vs. Nia Jax

Rob: If Nia beats Asuka, the match at Wrestlemania where Asuka will face either Charlotte or the winner of the Women’s Elimination Chamber becomes a triple threat. It would be a really weird decision to have Asuka lose her first match in WWE in this fashion, so I’m inclined to believe she’ll win, while making Nia look good in the process.

Winner: Asuka

Chris Novak: It would be SO WWE to not have two singles matches for their Women’s Titles after all this talk over the past few weeks. That being said… Asuka will win here. I don’t get what they’re doing at all with Nia, and frankly, I’m closer to just being over her than I am being intrigued by her. How can you have a monster who doesn’t win against… well, any of the big guns? Give me The Empress of Tomorrow.

Lynx: Logic dedicates that Asuka will win and maintain her undefeated streak…..but this is the WWE and I’m kind of scared because they did this to Charlotte last year against Bayley. I’m determined that the WWE will do the right thing and make Asuka win.

Winner: Asuka

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Women’s Elimination Chamber

Rob: Now we get to the two main events (well, the show’s namesake at least. They probably won’t have the Chamber matches go back to back). This one is far more unpredictable than the men’s iteration in my opinion. Sasha Banks and Bayley have been intertwined, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James and been intertwined, and Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville are obviously intertwined. There’s a lot that could happen here!

But, I’m picking Alexa to retain. I think Sasha and Bayley will be so hellbent on one-upping each other that they cost each other the match, leading to an Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio WM21 type match at Wrestlemania. I think Mickie and Alexa’s partnership lasts long enough to take out the two members of Absolution, and Alexa gets one over on Mickie.

Winner: Alexa Bliss

Lynx: Here’s the thing, Alexa has been in the spotlight of the Women’s Division for so long that she needs to be featured at Wrestlemania. I personally want Sasha to win and face Bayley at Wrestlemania with the title on the line, but knowing WWE, Alexa is going to win in a conniving way (Blame Mickie James).

Winner: Alexa Bliss

Chris: Based on EVERYTHING that’s happened so far… I think Alexa Bliss will walk out as champion. Here’s why: Mandy and Sonya… just got here. It’s too early for each of them. Frankly, I could see an “implosion” happen between the two of them more than I could see either of them winning. Mickie… will be betrayed by Alexa, despite Bliss recruiting her as an ally. Bayley… will pin Sasha Banks, but will get eliminated later on. And Sasha? Well. Um… Bayley… watch your back. That all being said, I have no clue what the HELL they’re going to do at Mania, because part of me thinks that Asuka will go to SmackDown to face Charlotte. But another part… well, I’ll get to that later.

 !!! BONUS PREDICTION !!!

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RONDA ROUSEY WILL GO TO SMACKDOWN! LIVE: That’s right. I’m calling my shot. A lot of this has felt like almost TOO MUCH of a formality. There’s certainly a possibility that they’ll have Ronda and Stephanie have an angle to set up a mixed tag in NOLA. HOWEVER… I would like to point out the fact that besides Stephanie, there were NO RAW women included in the hype video package for her this past Monday night on RAW. Only Charlotte, Naomi and Natalya were. All of those are, of course, a part of SmackDown Live. So, methinks Shane and Bryan, PERHAPS accompanied by Charlotte, will swerve Kurt and Steph and bring Rousey to SDL. Thus, setting up Charlotte vs. Rousey for the title at Mania. That could main event, you know.

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Men’s Elimination Chamber

Rob: This one is far more predictable, despite WWE’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, and that’s fine! Roman Reigns is going to win, but these are probably the seven best male performers in WWE right now (yikes, Smackdown), so the match will inevitably kick ass. Braun Strowman will powerslam someone through a pod, Finn Balor will do a Coup de Grace from the top of a pod. Roman Reigns will spear someone through a pod. Lot of pod-based offense here. Also Seth Rollins will continue to put on big matches and John Cena is John Cena. What’s not to love?

Roman and Brock was one of the best Wrestlemania main events in recent memory. Please don’t attempt to tell me otherwise. It will be great again this year.

Winner: Roman Reigns

Chris: I am torn between two people here, but methinks that Roman Reigns will win. The only other person I could see winning is Seth Rollins, considering how much they heated him up in the Gauntlet Match. Whew, buddy, what a performance that was. But Roman-Brock at Mania seems very, very inevitable. Funny how those three are intertwined again, huh?

Lynx: I’m going to go against the grain here and choose Seth Rollins. Let’s make this unpredictable and create a triple threat match with Roman & Brock as a rematch from WM31. Plus the WWE universe is behind Rollins with his recent performances in the ring

Winner: Seth Rollins

Raw runs the gauntlet, Smackdown surprises this week in WWE

Chris Novak: We are starting off with the Gauntlet! Makes sense, since every major cast member of the show is featured in this matchup. Looking forward to this going like an hour+. No sarcasm. This should rule.

Robert O’Neill: If this does go an hour, I really don’t have any issues. It’s the most important match of the night focusing on the most important match of the next week.

Robert O’Neill: Wow, this is absolutely going an hour+. Roman and Seth were the first two in the ring and didn’t finish until 30 minutes into the show. I’m really interested in seeing what they do here. Neat! It’s John Cena. They went to commercial and come back and Cena is still wrestling in his goofy ass neon shirt and jorts. What is this Raw?

Chris Novak: There’s definitely a different vibe to this Raw. I don’t mind it either.

Robert O’Neill: This match is going to go 90 minutes. This is wild. It's like if David Lynch directed an episode of Raw.

WWE

WWE

Chris Novak: That Seth Rollins performance was absolutely incredible. 65 minutes. Just incredible. And Finn-Elias was really good too! We were all just kinda blown out from Seth’s deal. And here comes Miz sneak attacking Finn.

Robert O’Neill: Miz/Finn was a banger too! This whole match has been SO GOOD I haven’t even noticed it was two hours in.

Chris Novak: Jesus, what a match. Everything was done right. Everyone looked good. Everyone who needed protection got it. Just awesome stuff all around, here

Robert O’Neill: I feel like there was a way to get the Asuka/Nia match over and established without having Asuka do an interview with Renee Young in the ring. She’s clearly not very comfortable on the mic, and it was kind of weird to watch.

Robert O’Neill: It’s still weird to me that Ronda Rousey is gonna just sign with Raw with no fight put up by Daniel Bryan or Shane McMahon. Think back to the Brock Lesnar/Steve Austin/Scott Steiner free agent periods of 2002, the pursual of them by both GMs made the signings that much bigger.

Chris Novak: Yeah, Rob. BUT… there were no RAW women in that video package. #AskQuestions. Also it looks like they’re going to heat up Titus Worldwide against The Bar. I’m fine with that, to be quite honest with you.

Robert O’Neill: TOP GUYS WA- I’m sorry. That appears to not be applicable tonight. Yeah Titus Worldwide vs. The Bar was fine. Perfectly acceptable mini-feud before the Road to Wrestlemania really heats up.

Chris Novak: You can watch The Revival against Rhyno and Heath Slater on Main Event, Rob. RAW’s tag division is in the dregs as it is. But Titus Worldwide/The Bar is fun stuff.

Robert O’Neill: Jeff Jarrett’s going into the Hall of Fame! Ain’t he great? It’s pretty comical that this is happening considering… everything that’s happened this millenium. They always come back.

Chris Novak: Honestly a true stunner here. More proof that everyone always comes back* considering Jarrett was legitimately fired on TV by Vince on the night of the final Nitro ever. Double J’s speech is going to be… something.

(* = CM Punk. He’s not coming back. Ever. Never. Ever.)

Robert O’Neill: Oh cool. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt cut a promo where they laughed stupidly and said a bunch of nonsense.

Chris Novak: That was… um, a very sloppy six-woman tag main event. I didn’t care much for it. Sasha stood out, as she usually does. I liked the continuity with Mickie saving Alexa after Alexa saved Mickie. So now Bliss goes in with an ally… that is until she probably double crosses her. We shall see!

Robert O’Neill: This was our shortest Raw recap ever but it was a really really good show, obviously highlighted by the gauntlet match. It has me excited for Sunday.

QUICK RESULTS

  • Seth Rollins d. Roman Reigns
  • Seth Rollins d. John Cena
  • Elias d. Seth Rollins
  • Elias d. Finn Balor
  • The Miz d. Elias
  • Braun Strowman d. The Miz
  • Titus Worldwide d. The Bar
  • Sasha Banks/Mickie James/Bayley d. Sonya Deville/Mandy Rose/Alexa Bliss

 

Robert O’Neill: AJ Styles is starting off the night being interviewed by Renee Young about the title match turning into a Fatal Five-Way. He’s not thrilled about it, which makes sense! It’s unfair!

Chris Novak: It would be nice if SDL’s main event scene was, uh, better than it is right now.

Robert O’Neill: It would be better if Smackdown was better than it is right now.

Chris Novak: The tag division is the saving grace, pretty much.

Robert O’Neill: I really have no desire to watch Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler.

Chris Novak: This match is definitely a thing. Okay… in fairness, this has gotten some heat.

Robert O’Neill: Owens almost kicked Ziggler’s head clean off for the win, so I’m here for it.

Robert O’Neill: Jinder is here and still mad about the Smackdown Top 10 list. Alright then!

Chris Novak: At least that segment was compelling. Oh, great. More Bryan-Shane stuff. Remember when everyone was tired of all the shit that happened with Stephanie and Mick Foley? It’s like this again. It would be awesome if, just like on RAW, that Bryan and Shane just got out of the damn way.

Oh, good. Here comes nearly all of the women’s division for a match. At least this match has been good so far.

Robert O’Neill: This is why we don’t do the old review format, by the way. The majority of Raw’s stuff from last night would be in the good section and pretty much this whole should would be in the bad section.

Robert O’Neill: The women’s match was fine, but it felt pretty inconsequential with Ruby pinning Becky instead of pinning Charlotte

Chris Novak: Well, apparently it really WAS INCONSEQUENTIAL. Charlotte challenged Ruby. Ruby said she’s facing Naomi next week and she wants a title match at Fastlane. ????? Couldn’t they have just had Ruby pin Charlotte tonight and then wipe out Becky and Naomi in the ensuing two weeks? God. I hate this stupid division.

Robert O’Neill: Neat. Time for the tag division! The one good thing on this show. Oh look, the New Day! And Gable and Benjamin! This should be fun. Remember when Gable and Benjamin were in the title hunt? They’re probably gonna get back into the mix… nope. Nevermind. They lost in a rather unspectacular match. That’s certainly one way to book them.

Chris Novak: It’s weird. Very weird. Feel like we’ll get more complaining from Gable and Benjamin. Somewhere, The Bludgeon Brothers are going to shoehorn themselves in this. I don’t know, tbh.

Chris Novak: Okay, Styles-Corbin was good. And… I’ll admit… apart from a few bumps in the road, SmackDown was… good tonight. It’s gathering momentum.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, that ended up not being too bad after all. Raw was still better though.

QUICK RESULTS

  • Kevin Owens d. Dolph Ziggler
  • Riott Squad d. Charlotte Flair/Becky Lynch/Naomi
  • New Day d. Benjamin/Gable
  • The Bludgeon Brothers d. Jobbers
  • AJ Styles d. Baron Corbin

MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE

Robert O’Neill: We got a double helping of BOB ROODE and Charlotte Flair on Tuesday night, and that was a lot of fun. Also fun? Apollo bringing the entirety of Titus Worldwide with to support he and Nia Jax, and Nia completely blowing them off. As for the match itself, it was fun (as they’ve all been). There was no chance of Charlotte and Bob losing, so when you go into the match knowing that, they have to do a lot of things to make it good. They’ve done that pretty much every time so far. The second round matchups should all be a ton of fun, too.

First Black Champ Podcast: Are we walking with Elias or Nah?

Elias is getting over on Cena every week! It's great but who's spot is he taking? What does the WWE Smackdown Top 10 really mean and should they keep doing it? We try to make sense of the women's division as it stands right now and we fall for the Booker T-Corey Graves beef like everyone else! You get great hypotheticals though. All that and GuaranDAMNtees from just J.R Bang this week on the #FirstBlackChampPodcast.

This week in WWE
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Chris Novak: Alright, so we start off with Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt as an Elimination Chamber Qualifier. Guess how that went? 

WWE

WWE

Robert O’Neill: It was actually a pretty good match (it was a Roman TV match, duh). Bray got his moves in and reminded me that he’s actually not terrible in the right role. Then Matt Hardy came out and laughed like a moron. Segment ruined.

Chris: I’ve gathered you aren’t much of a fan of The Delete Man. But I know who you are a fan of: The Revival. They got some burn tonight against Finn Balor and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson.

Robert: *ahem* TOP GUYS WATCH: The Revival came out, scheduled for a singles match against Finn Balor. That was quickly turned into a tag match as Finn picked Karl Anderson as his partner

WWE

WWE

Chris: And… oh, what is this? A Bayley-Sasha interaction on my TV? Hey now, Sasha’s watching her match last week, lamenting in her loss. Bayley attempts to get things out of Sasha, but she says she’s keeping her tricks to herself. Then… oh, baby, then things get SPICY. Sasha, preposterously, asks Bayley if she really thinks she can beat Asuka. So, what does Bayley say in return? “I know I can beat YOU.” !!!!!!

Robert: Have Bayley face Sasha at Mania in the Eddie Guererro/Rey Mysterio WM21 frienimies match and ride the wave all summer.

Chris: That’s all I’ve ever wanted in life. We seem to be on a collision course for that now. Especially with them referencing the Rumble. I suspect Bayley loses this match, maybe with Sasha interfering, and Bayley gets the better of Sasha at Elimination Chamber. Then, Banks snaps.

And hey, look at that, the Cruiserweights had a fun tag match. The crowd got involved. Drake Maverick is a fun guy. I think they might have finally figured this whole division out. What say you?

Robert: I was happy to see Drew Gulak, because he’s a treasure. Cedric Alexander is also fun as hell and probably should be the next Cruiserweight champion.

Kurt Angle encouraging the YOU SUCK chant makes the whole thing really lame.

Chris: It really does, doesn’t it? Hey, Alexa Bliss works here? I had no idea. Anywho, Alexa is mad now that Nia could get added to the match. Hey, what a surprise that Bliss is good on the mic.

Robert: That got kinda weird in a hurry. I get what they were trying to do but… yeah they took it a bit too far.

Chris: Not sure how much I liked the whole “sexist” bit. Poorly contrived there. HOWEVER… they addressed a lot of the complaints that people have had about Alexa (someone should write an article about her treatment on RAW) so, in that sense, I liked it. We’ll see where this takes us. I have no idea why they’re having Nia-Asuka happen, where Nia would get “added” to the match. Asuka never made her decision. Unless they’re pulling our legs, and having Asuka go to SDL after the match, thereby setting up… Alexa vs. Nia? At Mania? Hmmm.

Robert: It wasn’t the best match Bayley and Asuka have ever had, but it was fun. I like this new trend where it looks like there’s at least a chance Asuka might lose the match. Nice refresh from the first couple months of her main roster stint.

Chris: What a surprise that Very Good Professional Wrestler Bayley had a very good match. I, for one, am shocked.

No, I’m not shocked. That was EASILY one of her best matches on the main roster. Her 2017 was injury-riddled and mired in some, um, let’s call it “poor” booking and be nice about it. Yeah. Anywho, I want to see more of this Bayley going forward. The attitude. The SNARK. The aggressiveness in the ring. That was all very good.

Now, let’s shift gears. Looks like The Miz is fighting for his Elimination Chamber spot against Apollo Crews. A SummerSlam 2016 rematch!

Robert: That was fun. Apollo is good. Titus Worldwide is a lot of fun. Miz winning was probably the right decision because he can get involved with someone else in the chamber for an IC title match at Mania.

Chris: Wait, we get TWO Roman matches tonight? What a night. Jordan, injured evidently, couldn’t go, and with Rollins needing a partner… Roman shows up #outtanowhere, and nothing even needed to be said there. If I wasn’t so damn sure that Jordan was being written off TV here because of his reported neck issues (I hope he heals up, because that’s scary shit) I would say he was going to cost Reigns and Rollins this match.

And then what happened? He DID cost them the match.

Robert: Roman and Seth work well together (duh). Sheamus and Cesaro are great (duh.) Jason Jordan is dumb and Kurt Angle banished him from Raw until he “gets medically cleared”

Chris: Wait. Hold on a minute here. We had a Nia squash and an in-ring interview. Then we had Sonya versus Mickie… *does the math* SIX WOMEN’S SEGMENTS? THREE WOMEN’S MATCHES? What in the world is going on? Are they… gasp… actually rolling out with proper booking and presentation of the women? Finally? My word.

Also very intriguing that Alexa saved Mickie. Rob, your thoughts??

Robert: It’s definitely interesting, but I actually really like it. Alexa knows she needs all the help she can get in the elimination chamber, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see her continue to butter up some of her opponents.

QUICK RESULTS:
Roman Reigns def. Bray Wyatt to qualify for the Elimination Chamber
Finn Balor & Karl Anderson def. The Revival
Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali def. Drew Gulak & Tony Nese
Asuka def. Bayley
The Miz def. Apollo Crews to qualify for the Elimination Chamber
The Bar def. Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan to retain the RAW Tag Team Titles
Nia Jax squashed Vanessa Floyd, a jobber
Mickie James def. Sonya Deville
Elias def. John Cena and Braun Strowman. Elias will enter the Elimination Chamber last

Robert: We were in the building for Smackdown this week, so our views may differ, because the live wrestling experience bumps everything up regardless of if it’s actually good. That’s just science.

WWE

WWE

Chris: It’s true. Live wrestling experiences are typically great and much better than watching on TV. The only bad part is the fact that you may have to deal with a bunch of dorky and sometimes uncomfortable fans.

Robert: I really want this Shane/Bryan story to have a satisfying payoff. And I want Bryan to be cleared and have a match, but damn if this isn’t starting to get annoying. It’s just repetitive. And, as I’ve noted, I like Styles/Zayn/Owens a whole bunch, but they don’t work well together.

Chris: I liked this angle a lot when there were layers to it. Now they just seem to be dragging it out unnecessarily. Kill the bait after Fastlane and get one with Nakamura/Styles. Please and thank you.

Robert: Liv and Charlotte worked really well for me. You knew Charlotte was going to win the entire time, but how they tell that story is so important. Liv tried using the numbers game to her advantage until Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan got ejected from ringside, and Charlotte was able to use her size and strength advantage to overpower Liv. You can tell they have high hopes for Liv though.

Chris: I get the sense that Charlotte’s gonna face Ruby at Fastlane. Or perhaps face all three in a Fatal 4-Way of some kind. I don’t particularly know, but it would be fun either way. That said… uh, where was the rest of the women’s division? After the absolutely brilliant usage of the women on RAW, with character developments, multiple matchups (including a very good one with Asuka and Bayley) the fact that SDL had one and only one segment dedicated to the women was incredibly disappointing. Then again, SDL’s women’s division has always either been overrated or thrown together.

Robert: It’s Wednesday evening and the Bludgeon Brothers theme is still stuck in my head. I was kind of curious as to if The Usos could have a good (eventual) match with them given the difference  in size and styles, but The Usos are one of the best tag teams in WWE history, so they’ll be fine. Speaking of The Usos, they cut another banger of a promo.

Chris: That they did. You have to respect what they’ve done over the past year. Reinvented themselves and then some. The Usos-Bludgeon Brothers seems like a fair bet for Fastlane. I don’t know what’s to come after that, but The Usos have more than earned the right to be on the main card of WrestleMania.

WWE

WWE

Robert: Rusev and BOB ROODE had a fantastic match that made me believe more than once that Rusev may pull off the victory. Rusev is incredibly over with the live crowd, and it seems like just a matter of time before he gets a title, either US or WWE. Not to mention, Aiden English has put his heart and soul into the singing gimmick and made it incredible. Randy Orton coming out and RKOing everyone at the end was dumb because Randy Orton sucks.

Chris: I’m going to disagree here. I actually like the prospect of Orton-Roode going forward. Orton’s chasing after the one championship he’s never gotten (he’s basically gotten everything except for the old WWE Tag Team Titles from SmackDown and the current RAW Tag Team Titles). Even though this would be a feud where you have two guys who work better as heels than faces. I don’t know, I’ll wait until the jury’s out here.

Robert: I can’t help but to feel like they could be doing more with Gable and Benjamin, especially considering how they booked them the last two months. Being the heel jock tag team is good, I guess, but they’re very good and probably should get more action.

Chris: The rest of the tag division could certainly be booked a lot better, because these two are terrific characters right now.

Robert: Despite being beyond tired of Zayn/Owens at this point, this match worked for me. You can tell these guys have been fighting each other for most of the past two decades, and whenever Sami does the spot where he dives through the gap between the turnbuckle and the ringpost, I go crazy for it. The ending was… whatever. I would have rather seen Sami win just to get some fresh blood in the match, but Styles is winning anyway so it really doesn’t matter who they have him face. This is why having a PPV between the Rumble and Mania is dumb.

Chris: There’s always been PPVs before the Rumble tho, Rob. They gotta maketheir money somehow. Being predictable isn’t necessarily a wrong thing either. That said… God, like I said before, please just end this stuff.

Robert: The Mixed Match Challenge remains a ton of fun. The fact that Goldust is still working in 2018 is pretty amazing to me, and his laugh during the “you still got it” chant was excellent. Mandy Rose continues to be better in the ring than people give her credit for, and Naomi and Jim Uso unsurprisingly worked well together. Daniel Bryan as the guest ref was a cool touch too, even though he Pebbles Flintstone’d his hair for whatever reason.

Chris: Honestly crying at the Pebbles Flintstone comparison. Because it’s totally true. This was a fun one, but I’m still annoyed that we missed out on Elias and Bayley by a week. Cannot wait to see those two in the ring with a guitar next week. Going to be EPIC. EPIC I tell you. EPIC.

QUICK RESULTS
Charlotte def. Liv Morgan in a non-title match
The Bludgeon Brothers squashed two jobbers
Bob Roode def. Rusev to retain the United States Championship
Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable def. The Ascension
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fought to a no contest

WWE Mixed Match Challenge preview

One of the coolest WWE things of the past few years has been the rise of unexpected tournaments. In 2017, we saw the United Kingdom Championship Tournament and Mae Young Classic. Both came after the success of 2016’s Cruiserweight Classic.

2018’s tournament is perhaps the most ambitious installment to date: The Mixed Match Challenge. Twelve teams containing one male and one female superstar will battle it out over the next three months for the prize of $100,000 to a charity of their choice. One match a week will air on Facebook Live following Smackdown every week.

 

Finn Balor and Sasha Banks

Off the bat, we have one of my favorite teams in the entire MMC. Banks and Balor have similar styles and should develop chemistry fairly easy, not to mention watching Balor square off with Shinsuke Nakamura will be a blast in the first round. Bonus points for this team if Banks does demon paint or Balor wears stunner shades as part of the entrance. While this team is fine, I probably would have put Banks with Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns and save Balor for someone I’ll touch on below.

Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya

This team misses the mark for me, if only because I don’t really care for Natalya. I wish there was a way she could have teamed with Cesaro, despite the show difference, as a callback to Cesaro’s tag team with Natayla’s husband, Tyson Kidd. As noted above, watching Nakamura and Balor go at it will be fun, and Banks is good enough that Natalya won’t bore me as much as usual.

The Miz and Asuka

As you can see from the bracket, most real-life couples in WWE are teaming up for this. However, with Maryse being pregnant, Miz was left without a partner. He ended up with a good one. Miz is one of the most underrated workers in the company and everyone knows how great Asuka is. This is a team that could go far.

Big E and Carmella

Carmella has been misused ever since James Ellsworth got released so I didn’t care much about this pairing, but then New Day released a Rocky-style training montage complete with pancakes and music and I’m 100% on board now.

Big E can handle Miz but, uh, Carmella is probably a bit overmatched against Asuka.

Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman

My personal favorite team in this entire tournament. Just the visual of the two of them standing next to each other will be amazing, but I also really enjoy watching both of them work, and will especially like watching them each rehash old rivalries in the first-round tilt against Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn. It’s tough to bet against any team with BRRRRRAAAAAUUUUUNNNNN in a tournament like this, so they may very well end up being my pick to take the whole thing.

Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn

I really wish they didn’t face Braun and Alexa in the first round, because this is probably my second-favorite team in the tournament. Becky and Sami work well together because they’re both weird and it’s embraced and fantastic. I’m pretty sure the losing team between these two will be back in with the fans’ choice vote later in the tournament.

Goldust and Alicia Fox

Speaking of weird, how about these two? Goldust remains the same weird character he was 20 years ago (except PG, but it still works) and Fox is coming off one of her most fun runs in a while after Survivor Series. She’s cooled off a little since then, but I think the comedy between these two will be top notch.

Jimmy Uso and Naomi

We’ve finally gotten to one of the real-life couples! This will be a ton of fun. Jimmy Uso is one of the best tag team wrestlers in WWE history and Naomi has been one of the highlights of the women’s division since reinventing herself to the Feel The Glow persona. Like with Banks and Balor, I’m interested in seeing how they handle the entrance.

Elias and Bayley

Elias is a fun act that everyone really enjoys. Bayley is a fun act that everyone really enjoys. And yet… WWE dropped the ball here. Putting Balor and Bayley together was an absolute layup, and WWE blew it.

Again, Elias and Bayley will be fine and probably lead to some fun pre-match concert stuff, but the entire time I’ll be thinking about the big time missed opportunity, and that’s unfortunate.

Rusev and Lana

Real life couple, again. It’s fine. Lana’s not very good but Rusev is excellent in and out of the ring and if there’s any good in the world, Aiden English will still be the one to announce their entrance

Apollo Crews and Nia Jax

Nia wanted to team with Enzo Amore but he got sick and was ruled out of the MMC, so she ended up with Apollo Crews. That’ll be fun. They have similar styles and their first round match against Bobby Roode and Charlotte should click well.

Bobby Roode and Charlotte

Another dark horse team brought together by their love of nice robes. Roode and Charlotte are two of the most decorated NXT stars of all time and the success has translated to the main roster. It definitely wouldn’t be a surprise to see them in the finals.

Prediction

It’s really tough to predict something like this because it’s never happened before and we don’t know how the teams are going to gel. If I had to pick right now, though, I would take Braun and Alexa over Roode and Charlotte in the finals.

All photos courtesy of WWE