Posts tagged Jinder Mahal
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.

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Ricochet v. Velveteen Dream

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Velveteen Dream

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Shayna Baszler

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Undisputed Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Aleister Black

Chicago Street Fight - Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Markus Howell: Ahem. Click here
Prediction: Samoa Joe

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

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

Daniel Bryan v. Big Cass

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Big Cass

Roman Reigns v. Jinder Mahal

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Bobby Lashley v. Sami Zayn

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

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

Markus Howell: #FreeElGenerico
Prediction: Sami Zayn

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

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

Prediction: Bobby Lashley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Ronda Rousey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Carmella

Intercontinental Championship - Seth Rollins (c) v. Elias

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Elias

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*checks RAW Tag Team Champions*

Oh. I see. Never mind then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Robert O’Neill: Miz still looks ridiculous though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Novak: And so should Almas.

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

This Week in WWE: El Idolo arrives, Nakamura-Styles have their best match so far in WWE

Robert O’Neill: Time for another edition of Monday Night Raw! This week we have a taped show (which I've never liked, but I obviously understand it since they're in London) and I have bronchitis so we should have ourselves an interesting show!

Chris Novak: Get better, Rob. Anyways, we’re set to “find out” what happened between Nia and Rousey later! ...Just go here, folks. Anyways, now that I’m done plugging my article, here comes Roman Reigns. The reaction seems subdued. Gee, I wonder why. Roman says that if Jinder wants to be “more relevant than he has in his entire career,” then he should come out to his yard right now. Counterpoint: Jinder was WWE Champion more recently than Roman was a champ. Anyhow, Kurt Angle comes out instead.

Robert O'Neill: We really don't need to relive the summer of Jinder and Randy though!

Chris Novak: So we’re doing this Roman vs. Management thing. And, it’s bad! And now Kurt says he got a phone call, and he was essentially reprimanded by “management” (aka Stephanie, it sure sounds). He says tonight, Jinder will be in a match against Elias and Bobby Lashley in a MITB qualifier. Roman wants in, but Kurt says management said no. I mean, yeah. He lost last week. Why would it make sense to give him an opportunity again? So Roman says he gets it, and now he’s going to do what he has to do. Reigns goes in the back, looks around, wants to know where Jinder’s at. And he finds him and a brawl ensues. Jinder getting cheers for this is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Reigns hits him with a Superman Punch on the stage and then walks away. So, there’s your opening segment.

Robert O’Neill: It’s still pretty wild that the way WWE is going to endear Roman to the crowd finally is to have him feud with Jinder. Like… That’s not gonna work.

Chris Novak: Time for Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens for the IC Title. Seth issued another open challenge over the weekend, and Owens responded via social media. So, off we go. Let’s see if Rollins’ heater can continue. So far, so good. Rollins hit a crazy Falcon Arrow onto the apron (#HardestPartOfTheRing) and then hit back-to-back suicide dives on Owens. So, he’s still on his A-game. Later, Owens hits a Fisherman-buster suplex, but then Rollins goes out of the ring. Owens gets him back in, but Seth hits the Stomp! 1-2-3, and Seth retains. Another terrific match for Seth, and another great IC Title Match. They are doing their damnedest to make that title important, and they’re sure succeeding.

Robert O’Neill: All the “fighting champion” stuff with regards to Rollins can’t be a coincidence, right? They’re planning to have him face Lesnar, right?

Chris Novak: You have to hope. Anyways, they showed the Nia-Ronda setup. Is it just me or could Charlotte have come off any lamer in that bit? Also that was very much the friendliest challenge ever.

Robert O’Neill: I’m a big Rousey fan AND have Money in the Bank tickets and even I’m not excited about this match.

Chris Novak: I mean, why should you be? On to the next MITB qualifier, between Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin and No Way Jose. That is certainly a trio.

Robert O’Neill: I talked about this on the Ruthless Aggression Podcast this week, but they’re handling these MITB qualifiers in the stupidest possible way. Like, after this match Raw will have one spot left. There’s a full month until the pay-per-view. What are they gonna do for that time?

Chris Novak: And that spot’s being decided later tonight! Anyways, Bob Roode won a pretty fun match here, I’ll say. Corbin was solid in a multi-man match again, and NWJ was good as well. We go backstage now. Kevin Owens wants a rematch. He seems desperate. Kurt won’t give in, so Owens pulls the “I’m going to call Stephanie” card. I guess this has to be used against him constantly after what happened at WrestleMania. Then Kurt goes in and Jinder is hurt. He wants the match postponed, but when Angle says it won’t be, Jinder says he’ll fight through whatever. Awfully sympathetic of them here.

Chris Novak: So the B-Team faces Breezango here next. After a not-so-lengthy match and some decent tag action, they win after a back suplex/neckbreaker combo. Honestly, good for them. They’ve both raised their games recently and they’re both not too bad either! And most of all, they’ve both been hilariously entertaining.

Robert O’Neill: I don’t mind them at all. The Raw tag division is a giant mess anyway, so what does it matter?

Chris Novak: Next up, six-woman tag match. The Riott Squad faces off with Ember, Natalya and Sasha Banks. There wasn’t much to this match, other than it being pretty solid. Nattie won after making Liv Morgan tap out to the Sharpshooter. They’re heating her up here, so I won’t be surprised when she wins her qualifier next week to get into MITB.

Chris Novak: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt beat The Revival in a non-title tag team match. It was what it was. Not much else to say about the tag division except, “Hey, at least they’re getting reps.”

Robert O’Neill: TOP GUYS WATCH!!!! At least they were on Raw? I guess? Sure?

Chris Novak: More than they can say about AOP.

Robert O’Neill: So, Sami Zayn is gonna face Bobby Lashley at some point soon I guess? That’s… fine.

Chris Novak: Somehow I don’t think this ends well.

Robert O’Neill: Alexa Bliss and Mickie James and Bayley are here for their triple threat MITB qualifier, and after a pretty good match, Bliss wins. That makes sense, she’s looking to get the title back and they’ll either have Bayley and Sasha in some last chance thing to continue their underlying feud or they’ll do something else at the event.

Chris Novak: Because God forbid they have Alexa pin Mickie James, who draws the same reactions that you or I would on any given night, right? They just HAD to have Alexa pin Bayley AGAIN, right? Okay, but anyways, Alexa winning is fine. People are complaining about it, but it’s fine. Will be humorous to see how she takes a bump though. I have NO IDEA what they’re doing with Bayley or Sasha at this point. And to be honest, it’s looking likely that neither will be in the MITB match. The next qualifier is going to be Natalya vs. Liv vs. Sarah (who the hell thought that was a good idea to have the same type of match two weeks in a row, with two people as ‘allies’ -- Alexa/Mickie one week, Liv/Sarah another -- against a babyface) and I reckon they’re going to have Nattie win that. Then there’ll be some kind of last chance match, and with two babyfaces accounted for (Ember, Natalya) they’ll pick a heel (likely Ruby). So, I don’t know what either of those two will be doing. I do know that there’ll probably be some complaining about that though. Justified? Perhaps.

Robert O’Neill: Braun Strowman and Finn Balor lost to Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler in a tag match as they continue to make Ziggler actually seem entertaining and captivating. Balor ate the pin as Braun was distracted on the outside. It’s kind of interesting how they’ve had him in so many tag matches of late.

Chris Novak: Apparently them going through the trophy outside wasn’t planned. The more you know.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! Another triple threat as Elias, Lashley, and Owens are battling for Raw’s last MITB spot. After a good back and forth match, Elias stopped to deliver a concert, which was excellent. After that ended, Zayn came down and took out Lashley, allowing Owens to pin Elias for the win!

Chris Novak: Totally fine with this result, to be honest. Not much else to really add. Sami costing Lashley the match was fine. Bummed that Elias has nothing to do again though.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Raw was fine. Like I said, it was taped and I was under the weather, so my interest was always going to be a bit skewed, but I enjoyed the show overall, despite the fact that I’m not pleased that all four men’s MITB spots are already claimed. Regardless. C+

Chris Novak: Yeah, this was a perfectly inoffensive show, but didn’t really do much for me. C+ for me as well.

Robert O’Neill: Well, Raw was… something. Time for Smackdown!

Chris Novak: London is the site again for SD as the European tour is winding down.

Robert O’Neill: Shinsuke and Styles are in the main event in a non-title match to decide the MITB stipulation. That’s fine.

Chris Novak: Totally fine with that.

Robert O’Neill: Daniel Bryan is opening the show. The fans like him. Big surprise!

Chris Novak: And here comes Big Cass. Cass says that he disagrees with Renee that Rusev was his first setback, and that he was instead. That he was the reason he lost to Rusev, and that he’s the reason he keeps losing and will ensure he won’t achieve his dreams and aspirations. Cass says some stuff about how Bryan should’ve stayed retired and how he should be a stay at home dad. Bryan responds by beating the crap out of Cass and putting him in a heel hook. So, Bryan comes off like a badass here. Cass kind of deserves these beatings he’s getting for being that much of a jackass, I suppose.

Robert O’Neill: The Bar and New Day are in the first match here, with a member of the winning team competing in the Money in the Bank match. It was a good match, unsurprisingly.  New Day won, and i have to imagine it’ll be Big E going into the ladder match

Chris Novak: That would be my bet and would definitely be the best bet.

Robert O’Neill: We get a Bludgeon Brothers vignette, which, hey, nice to see them! Followed by Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville mouthing off to Paige and getting a MITB qualifying match out of it. A triple-threat match against Becky Lynch!

Chris Novak: I have my reservations. OK, time to shut up. Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega have arrived on SmackDown Live.

Robert O’Neill: He beat a local wrestler and she cut a scathing promo after. Heroes.

Chris Novak: I will be irrationally angry if these two don’t succeed on the main roster.

Robert O’Neill: Alright. The Royal Mellabration was INCREDIBLE.

Chris Novak: She got a proper introduction, moonwalked in heels and shot on the Royal Family. Is there anything Mella won’t touch on? She continues to excel in these spots. Paige then comes out to a very nice home country pop. She then announces that Carmella will face Asuka at MITB. Well, I guess that will certainly be a match to watch.

Robert O’Neill: The Royal Family is actually bad, so I don’t really blame her for taking that route. Anyways, Becky Lynch won that aforementioned triple threat match which was probably for the best, no disrespect to Sonya or Mandy.

Chris Novak: I can’t believe she actually won. It’s about time that she wins something. Maybe she’l win Money in the… I’m not getting ahead of myself.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are facing off to determine their Money in the Bank stipulation, and this was probably their best match yet! So that’s promising, each match gets better and better. Nakamura gets the victory after faking a low blow, and then hitting a Kinshasa. He didn’t announce the stipulation.

Chris Novak: This was the best Nakamura-Styles match of this series so far. A legit banger. Really enjoyed this one a lot. Thought Nak was going to low blow Styles but they structured that end sequence very well. Wonder what Nak will pick for the stip. Leading candidate is Roshambo.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Much like Raw, Smackdown was fine. At least they aren’t all out of MITB spots yet. Excited for them to get back stateside. B-

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live was considerably better than Raw again. That’s been the theme since Mania, and it’ll probably continue that way next week, too. B for SDLive, boosted by the legit great Nak-Styles match, and no real low points.

WWE Weekly recap

Good

BRRRRRRAAAAAUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN

Without exaggeration, this was one of the most entertaining and iconic things to ever happen on Raw. The show opened with Braun Strowman coming to the ring and talking about how he was going to win the title at Royal Rumble. Eventually Kurt Angle came out, and he was none too pleased considering Strowman literally tried to kill Brock Lesnar and Kane by pulling a wall down on them with a grappling hook last week. This led to Angle removing Strowman from the match at Royal Rumble and firing him.

A security team tried to get Strowman out of the building. It went… poorly. He threw a couple of them into a large garage door and put another one through a table as he made it back into the building to try and find Angle. After going to Angle’s office and not finding him, Strowman trashed it, INCLUDING THROWING AN OFFICE CHAIR THROUGH A TELEVISION. He then made his way to catering and put Curt Hawkins through a table. A short time later, Strowman made his way to the production trucks (they’re worth twelve million dollars!) and threatened to break all the monitors. He didn’t. Instead, he left the truck, unhooked the trailer, AND LITERALLY FLIPPED THE SEMI OVER.

That still wasn’t enough. He went back into the arena and grabbed Michael Cole. By this point, Angle came out and said Strowman could be back in the match as long as he let Cole go. Well… he did. He threw Cole off the stage into the security guards to end his rampage.

A lot has been made about how Strowman is essentially 1996-97 Stone Cold at this point, and it’s tough to disagree. Especially from an “arrive, raise hell, leave” point of view. It’s a matter of if, not when, for his WWE title hopes.  

 

Titus Worldwide!

For the second straight week, Titus Worldwide picked up a win over The Bar. Unlike last week, however, it was thanks to a distraction from Jason Jordan. This match accomplished two things: First, it continues to get Titus Worldwide some credibility. Second, Jordan coming out wasn’t something Seth Rollins was aware of. Rollins came out shortly after the match and expressed his displeasure with it. Eventually, Rollins is gonna tire of Jordan and cut bait, and this helps further that.

Goldberg Being Inducted in the Hall of Fame

Ah, yes. Hall of Fame tickets go on sale this week, so WWE has to announce the headliner. While I would have preferred The Rock (they’ll probably wait until they’re in Miami again for that, right?), there’s no arguing Goldberg belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame. His WCW run stands on its own in terms of unprecedented dominance, his initial WWE debut the night after Wrestlemania 19 is probably the second-best WWE debut ever after Chris Jericho, and his second run proved a lot of people (myself included) wrong as he had a series of memorable matches with Brock Lesnar. The only question now is who will induct Goldberg?

Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

Remember a couple months ago when the big rumor was that Balor had fallen out of sorts with the powers that be in WWE? Well, he main evented Raw for the second straight week.

This match came about because Jason Jordan told Kurt Angle to put Rollins in a match with Balor, so the rift is getting furthered there. As for the actual match, it was exactly what you’d expect. Balor and Rollins are probably two of the five best workers in the company, so we were in for a treat.

Near the end of the match, Seth hit a frog splash and Balor kicked out after a veeeerrrrrry close two count. Near falls don’t generally get me these days because WWE does them all the time, but this one did. A few minutes later, The Bar’s music hit and they came out. Jordan got out of the way and The Bar started brawling with Gallows and Anderson outside. Balor went over the top and took everyone out and got back in the ring to attempt a Coup De Grace. Rollins avoided it and Jordan tripped Balor behind the referee’s back, leading to a CURB STOMP (!!!!!) from Rollins to end the match.

Rollins doesn’t have a defined finisher, so going back to the curb stomp would be a welcome addition.

Bad

Woken Matt Hardy

It’s just not working for me. It was pretty cool and unique a couple times in TNA, and by this point it just feels kind of… not good. All he does is say weird stuff and laugh weirdly. He won a match over Heath Slater and it was a perfectly fine match, but I just don’t like the gimmick.

 

TOP GUYS WATCH

Whew, boy. There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, The Revival had a match on Raw! They won! One of the guys they faced was Aaron Solow, who is married to Bayley! After the match, Charly Caruso interviewed them in the ring and they did a worked shoot about how they aren’t a product of the WWE boardroom and they’re the best tag team in wrestling. Hard agree.

Other Stuff

Asuka defeated Nia Jax: This was a solid match, despite everyone knowing Asuka was going to win. That’s the main problem when you have someone on a big-time streak on one side, it’s always clear how the result is going to be so you have to be as creative as possible in getting to the result. They’re generally good at that with Asuka. Nia used her size and strength to dominate Asuka for most of the match before Asuka kicked Nia in the calf on the stairs and Nia hurt her leg, leading to a referee stoppage.

Cedric Alexander defeated Tony Nese: Alexander is facing Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Championship at Royal Rumble, so he faced Nese, who was with Enzo again instead of the much more entertaining Drew Gulak.

Elias: Elias introduced The Miz, yet again. He continues to be one of the most entertaining acts on Raw, if not in the history of Raw at this point.

Sonya Deville defeated Sasha Banks: This was a pretty short match, but Sonya’s physicality and MMA roots were on display. If the reports are to be believe and Paige is unable to compete again in WWE, making the rest of Absolution look strong is a necessity. This is a good start

Roman Reigns defeated The Miztourage: It was a perfectly good Reigns match. Miztourage used the numbers game in their favor, as you should in a handicap match, and Reigns ultimately overcame when attempted distractions by the Miz ended up working against his team. Really wise heel booking, even if it’s been overdone in the majority of tag team matches.

 

Quick Results:
Titus Worldwide d. The Bar
Cedric Alexander d. Tony Nese
Asuka d. Nia Jax
The Revival d. Aaron Solow & Ricky Starks
Roman Reigns d. The Miztourage
Sonya Deville d. Sasha Banks
Matt Hardy d. Heath Slater
Seth Rollins d. Finn Balor

Good

GLORIOUS!

While it’s admittedly a bit weird to start these recaps with the show’s main event, Bobby Roode defeating Jinder Mahal for the United States Championship was easily the most important thing to happen on Smackdown. Heading into the evening, the semifinals of Mahal vs. Xavier Woods and Roode vs. Mojo Rawley were the only things scheduled, with the finals presumably next week. However, after Roode’s victory over Rawley, the Singh Brothers came out and attacked him, leading to Mahal saying he wanted Roode to think about the attack for a full week. Daniel Bryan then came out and moved the finals from next week to this week’s main event!

Bryan and Shane McMahon came out for the main event and the Singh Brothers were banned from ringside as a result of the attack earlier in the night. Roode and Mahal went at it for about 15 minutes, which was impressive given each had already wrestled a match earlier. After a back and forth bout, Roode hit a Glorious DDT to capture his first main roster championship.

If I had to guess, I would imagine Dolph Ziggler shows up next week and goes on about how he never technically lost the title and Roode faces him at Royal Rumble, but we’ll have to wait and see.

It was a pretty weird night for Smackdown, because of the four matches, three were part of the US Title tournament. So, aside from this stuff, nothing really happened.

A-Squad vs. Riott Squad

While no one has actually taken to calling Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Naomi the “A-Squad”, they’re clearly the three best women on Smackdown, and if they’re gonna go against the Riott Squad, the nickname is right there for the taking. This is actually the first installment of this match we’ve seen, unlike Raw which ran Sasha/Bayley/Mickie vs. Absolution like 25 times in a month. It was a nice long match that saw everyone get some solid work in and Liv Morgan took down Naomi for the finish.

It’s going to be interesting to see how these factions work in the Royal Rumble, and what the plans for them are after the Royal Rumble, because it doesn’t seem like a long-lasting idea given they’ve done pretty much everything there is to do at this point.

Regardless of that, I liked this.

Bad/Other Stuff

It’s hard to really say anything “bad” happened, because I liked all four matches and have a hard time calling interviews or backstage stuff “bad” because it’s ultimately just filler. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens weren’t on the show, which was a weird decision (Owens is apparently dealing with a “nagging injury” according to The Observer) but AJ Styles talked up the handicap match in an interview with Renee Young.

Dasha Fuentes tried to interview The Usos about their 2 of 3 falls match with Gable and Benjamin, but Gable and Benjamin attacked them from behind and had to be pulled apart by officials.

Quick Results

Jinder Mahal d. Xavier Woods (US Title Semifinal)
Bobby Roode d. Mojo Rawley (US Title Semifinal)
Riott Squad d. Lynch/Charlotte/Naomi
Bobby Roode d. Jinder Mahal (US Title Final)