This Week in WWE: The last week before a new frontier

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Chris Novak: We’re steadfast approaching new waters here in the Federation. But before we get there, it’s time for Raw. San Francisco is playing host to tonight’s episode, inside the brand new Chase Center. And… welp… Bray Wyatt, er, The Fiend, has hacked the intro! After a recap video, Seth Rollins is out here to start the show. Rollins says he’s seen a lot but has never felt the way he felt last week when The Fiend got into the ring, took Kane out, and then approached him. Seth questions what he has to do, and says he’ll do what he always does, and that’s survive and prevail.

Robert O’Neill: This brings Braun Strowman out, and he’s not happy Seth is talking about him right now, but he can do it to his face. And Seth says they can face off later tonight then! Alrighty. 

Chris Novak: Fine with me. Braun-Seth the first time was very good and I think they’ll do well again in this spot tonight. 

They go down the rundown for the card tonight, which features Nikki Cross vs. Sasha Banks, the Fatal 5-Way to determine who faces Seth next Monday night on Raw, and Baron Corbin vs. Chad Gable again. 

The Viking Raiders are facing The OC in a tag team match. This could wind up being a fun match. Also, the OC have a new theme. It’s okay! The match soon starts and we get to a point where AJ Styles is thrown out from ringside. He goes up the ramp, and is attacked by Cedric Alexander! Weird, thought he was buried. That’s what I was told, at least. 

Robert O’Neill: Hmmmm interesting I was told the same. Also, The OC have new music and I don’t love it! Their old music was so good. 

Chris Novak: Rather fun match here. The VIking Raiders picked up the W. Match had some good drama and some real good action. I hope they keep this rivalry going here a bit longer because they can absolutely do some fun things in the ring. 

Robert O’Neill: Oh yeah. Big fan of the big dudes vs. big dudes match. Get AOP back in the fold when they get back and they got a stew going.

Bobert Roode is interviewed backstage and he says he already beat Seth Rollins once at Clash of Champions, so if he wins the five-way tonight he can beat him again next week for the title! 

Chris Novak: Michael Cole hustled backstage to interview Becky Lynch (this was probably pre-taped but let’s roll with this because he said it) and he brings up how it was her idea to have this match at Hell in a Cell inside Hell in a Cell. She says that she wants Sasha to be on the hot streak that she’s been on, and points out the differences between the Raw and SmackDown women’s divisions after Becky left SD and came to Raw. 

Robert O’Neill: Pretty standard stuff here. Becky’s not afraid of Sasha. She’ll do whatever it takes to retain her title. 

Hey Rusev’s here! He’ll be facing EC3!

Aaaaand that was quick. Rusev gets the win the The Accolade. 

Chris Novak: Rey Mysterio cuts a quick promo about his Fatal 5-Way Match that’s coming up later tonight. He brings up how he was so close to retiring, but how he now is one step away from being one step away from being the Universal Champion. He dedicates the match to Dominick. How nice. 

Sasha Banks vs. Nikki Cross - next! 

Well, that was fun as shit. Sasha and Nikki put together a very, VERY good television match. I liked the added touch of Sasha going after Nikki’s knee after Bayley went after Alexa’s last week. Teamwork! Similar wavelengths! IThese are the things I appreciate when I’m watching wrestling. Things broke down towards the end, as Bayley went up to the apron to try and distract the official. Alexa came over and forearmed the SHIT out of her and threw her into the timekeeper’s area. Unfortunately, this didn’t lead to Nikki getting the W, as Sasha countered a cross body block into the Bank Statement, which she got the submission victory with. She then went after Alexa and got her in with the Bank Statement too. 

That was all very effective in a lot of ways, and nobody got hurt by partaking. 

Robert O’Neill: They got a TON of time. That was kind of awesome. I wonder if Boss N’ Hug might get a tag title match next week on the season premiere of Raw that Becky Lynch could interfere in. Very fun match.

Lacey Evans is here and facing Ember Moon! Sure. 

Chris Novak: Um, okay! Sure! I guess? Ember getting TV time is cool. Lacey getting TV time is cool too I surmise. The women getting more TV time is always great. This match was fun. Lacey got the win with Nattie’s Sharpshooter. This was another fun match.

Robert O’Neill: Time for Firefly Funhouse!

R-Truth and Carmella are in the ring and Carmella says she’s tired of constantly being on the run trying to protect the 24/7 Title… and then she turns on Truth to win the title! Oh my! But Truth helps her escape anyway. 

Chris Novak: Oh I’m HERE for this! Especially since it appears that the women are now going to get involved since many chased after Mella!

Robert O’Neill: King Corbin is here for his rematch with Chad Gable. Will this be as good as last week? 

Chris Novak: Oh that match BANGED again! Gable won via DQ after Corbin clubbed him with a foreign object. While I think this match was a step below their match last week, it was still an AWESOME encounter. Gable is looking like an absolute star and that’s a credit to Corbin as well for getting the most out of him, even with the skillset that Gable possesses. I could watch these two wrestle all day.

Robert O’Neill: They ran another AOP video and midway through they got up and left the room and beat up Heath Slater and No Way Jose. That was fun! 

Chris Novak: Let’s get this 5-Way going now! 

Okay, that ruled! Rey Mysterio won the match to earn himself a title shot next week against Seth Rollins. This was actually an elimination match, which I did not realize until Ricochet was pinned and the match didn’t end after that. 

Robert O’Neill: I’m really happy for Rey. He likely won’t win the title but his entire second run with WWE has been so good, it’s nice to see him get a title shot. Also Bob Roode making it to the final two shows what Paul Heyman thinks of him. Also Roode and AJ Styles were fighting and the crowd did a TNA chant. Very funny.

Time for the main event. Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman. Will The Fiend show up? 

Chris Novak: He did, in fact, show up! And he’s going after Braun! There goes any thought of him joining The Fiend I guess. He chokes him out with The Mandible Claw, which, once again, such a great addition to his moveset. And that… is how we end Raw!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: I liked this Raw a good deal. There were some down points but nothing felt really bad or anything like that. I was… slightly disappointed (?) that there was no advancement in the Mike/Maria storyline? Other than that? Good show. Really good show, with some really good matches. A high B+ effort for me to be honest. 

Robert O’Neill: It wasn’t quite as good as last week’s Raw, but it was still a very good show. Looking forward to whatever happens next week, as well. Gonna go B+ here too.

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Chris Novak: It’s the FINAL episode of SmackDown Live to EVER take place on a Tuesday. For at least the foreseeable future. Wowzers, the end of an era! Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan are set to come ‘FACE TO FACE’ tonight to clear the air. Also, Boss and Hug are facing Carmella and Charlotte Flair in the aftermath of last week’s happenings. Plus, plenty more I’d reckon. 

The show starts with a recap of the conclusion of last week’s show. Which, of course, saw Erick Rowan and Luke Harper destroy Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns. Which, hey, that was a quality beatdown. Officially starting the show tonight is Rowan, who marches out by himself. 

Robert O’Neill: Interesting that he’s alone, though I’m sure there’s a reason for it. He gets a microphone and says the video of him and Harper beating up Bryan and Roman was a work of art. He says people call him a redwood tree, which makes him less than human, and that’s not fair. He says Bryan knows he’s right, and out comes Bryan.

Chris Novak: Bryan asks him if he feels he’s disrespected and says if he wants respect, he’ll fight him right here and right now! And… it looks like this is going to happen right here and now?! And this match wound up being fire as hell. Bryan played the underdog babyface role well again (I’m sure you’re so shocked to read that) and had the crowd behind him all the way. Rowan wound up winning the match, in no small part to the assist made by Luke Harper. 

After the match concluded, Harper and Rowan went to beat him down, but Roman Reigns came out to make the save! Reigns went down to the ring and went on the attack, but, quickly, the numbers game caught up to him. This ultimately led to Bryan coming by to try and even things up. Bryan then would connect on a running knee on Harper, and Reigns would hit the Spear on Rowan! 

Robert O’Neill: Bryan got on the mic and asked if the crowd wanted to see him and Roman kick their “disrespectful asses” which was met by a YES chant! Fantastic. 

Chris Novak: After a break, and a shot of some of the San Francisco 49ers, we cut to what is an AWESOME video package highlighting Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, of course, will be competing against WWE Champion Kofi Kingston next Friday for the WWE Championship. Speaking of which, Michael Cole is interviewing Kofi now. Kingston says he’s feeling good about everything and that, in essence, is why he accepted the challenge laid down by Heyman and Lesnar last week. That is pretty much the gist of this interview here, and I’m not really mad at it. 

Robert O’Neill: Oh, man. That was good stuff. The production element feels different tonight, it’s all very cool. I like it.

Chris Novak: We go back inside Chase Center. Chad Gable is going to be in action now. Fun! Against who? Well… we’ll find out after the break. Gable cuts a quick summary promo about what happened between he and Baron Corbin, and … Mike Kanellis comes out! Mike says that he wants to prove that size DOES matter to his wife! And, we’ve got ourselves a match!

Robert O’Neill: Gable hits an overhead suplex and then a rolling German suplex and the match ends in less than a minute. That’s great. Love a good squash. 

Now Elias is here!

He has a new song about Chad Gable being short. Perhaps we’ll get a feud here!

Charlotte runs into Truth backstage, and she’s looking for Carmella. Truth says he has no idea where she is, as he’s protecting her cover. Charlotte gets in the locker room and gives Carmella a pep talk. 

Chris Novak: Let’s have this tag team match now, shall we? Well, this was fun for what it was. Sasha made Carmella tap out and gained some measure of revenge for what happened the week before. There was some nice action in here to be honest. Not the best of matches, but certainly good action. 

Hell breaks loose afterwards. Carmella is whisked away by Truth after she was chased off by the women’s roster for her 24/7 Championship. Charlotte was double-teamed, and then Becky Lynch came out to fend both Bayley and Sasha off. She put Sasha in the Dis-Arm-Her, but Bayley pulled Sasha out of dodge. 

Robert O’Neill: This was fine even though the Bayley and Charlotte pairing was still weird. Becky interfering was a good and smart call.

Chris Novak: Ali faced off with Shinsuke Nakamura. Nak beat Ali after Zayn had some involvement, which caused Ali to get off course. This was a pretty fun TV match, though not too different from anything they’ve put together. 

Robert O’Neill: I still enjoy these sorts of matches though. And I’m a big fan of the Zayn/Nak pairing. 

Chris Novak: We get a quick video package on the proceedings between KO and Shane McMahon. I presume that’s how we’re closing the show tonight. But, we’ll see. 

Robert O’Neill: Big E and Xavier Woods are out here for a match with the B-Team. The New Day get a relatively quick victory of it with a Midnight Hour. And then they go celebrate with George Kittle in the crowd! How nice. 

Chris Novak: The Kabuki Warriors defeated Fire and Desire in a match that I, frankly, did not expect to happen! Nevertheless, it did, and it was fun for what it was. There was teasing by commentary that perhaps they’d challenge Alexa and Nikki for the title down the line, and I wouldn’t be mad at that at all. 

Robert O’Neill: You have to figure it’s coming since they’re the only team Alexa and Nikki have yet to face.

Shane McMahon is heading to the ring to try and work out this Kevin Owens situation.

Chris Novak: Correction, Robert: They did face them and beat them on Raw after SummerSlam.

KO comes out to talk to Shane about these proceedings. Owens tells Shane that he’s stupid and that he wants a match where everything can be on the line. KO agrees to put his career on the line, but also says that if he wins this forthcoming match, Shane must be gone for good. And they are going to do it in a LADDER MATCH! I honestly wasn’t expecting that, thought it would be in HIAC, but I’m fine with that too! 

Becky Lynch is interviewed to end the program, but is brutally attacked by Sasha Banks! She is left lying to end the program. Oh, and also, next week they’re running the 4HW tag again. Fun stuff! 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Thought this was a good, not great show. So I’ll give it a B-. There were some good spots and whatnot, and nothing was outright bad. It just didn’t quite have the zip I was hoping for here. Nonetheless, I was still fine overall with the proceedings.

Robert O’Neill: Smackdown was fine. It got the job done before the next two weeks, when everything will be changing. B from me. 

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Robert O’Neill: Not wasting any time tonight as we get right underway with Dominik Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee. Somewhere, someone is tuning in and seeing Keith Lee for the first time. I envy that person.

Chris Novak: Woo buddy… what a crazy hoss fight this was. These two busted their asses off and pulled off some rather ridiculous moves. I think this wasn’t QUITE as good as the second encounter they had on the Network a few weeks ago, but my God, it was still really good! Keith won after planting Dijavokic to the mat for the 1-2-3. That was sensational.

Robert O’Neill: One of the best matches on WWE TV this year. LOVED this. Can’t wait for the rubber match, whenever that comes. I do have a complaint though. Dijak hit Lee with a second rope Canadian Destroyer, and Lee kicked out. That probably should have been the finish. If Dijak wasn’t going to win (which he didn’t) they could have made it so that spot was used in a different match. It’s just a bummer to see how watered down the Canadian Destroyer has become.

Chris Novak: A Street Profits vignette aired. They promote the fact that they’re facing The Undisputed Era for the NXT Tag Team Championships next week. Short, sweet, to the point, etc. 

Robert O’Neill: DAKOTA KAI IS BACK! She’s facing Taynara. Wonder how much time they’ll get here. 

Chris Novak: The answer was: A decent amount! Dakota won with her “Go To Kick” which went exactly as you would think it would. This was a fun little showcase for Kai in her first match back. You could tell that she was overwhelmed and elated during her entrance, as she was visibly emotional while the fans were cheering for her. I wonder if she wasn’t expecting that reaction? Either way, really cool moment.

It’s now time to get violent. Killian Dain vs. Matt Riddle in a #1 Contender’s Street Fight is now! 

Robert O’Neill: Violent is right! Dain threw a chair at Riddle and sent him through a wall. Riddle splashed him through a table, Dain hit multiple Vader Bombs, Riddle did a running knee onto a chair onto Dain’s head. Eventually Riddle got the win with an armbar, and he’ll face Adam Cole next week for the NXT Title! 

Chris Novak: That was a really fun, violent match. Probably the best in this miniseries they’ve got going on here. Cole-Riddle next week should be absolutely tremendous. Looking forward to it and then some. 

Time to switch over to the WWE Network! What do we have cooked up for this second hour? We’ll find out. Well, while the transition was being made, Adam Cole hit the ring to intimidate Riddle, but Riddle apparently got after Cole and made him tap out. Thanks, Full Sail crowd, for the assist! 

Robert O’Neill: The Network portion of the program will feature Imperium vs. KUSHIDA and two partners. Who will those partners be?!? We’ll see! 

Chris Novak: Starting us off this week is Rhea Ripley. So that’s fun! 

Robert O’Neill: She faced Lacey Lane, now known as Kayden Carter. Fun little match. Both looked good. Rhea got the victory.

Chris Novak: It was emphatic. But, I did like what I saw from TAFKA Lacey Lane. Also, I do dig the name “Kayden Carter.” It works for me. Nothing out of the box here. Just a basic showcase match for Rhea. And that’s plenty okay with me. 

Robert O’Neill: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch are here for tag team action against… EverRise. Formerly known as 3.0. 

Chris Novak: This match was fine. Burch and Lorcan (unsurprisingly) won it. Again, nothing that really wowed me here, but a decent TV match nonetheless.

Cameron Grimes vs. Raul Mendoza is next! Hey, this could be fun. It was! Grimes came away with the win. But this was yet another strong showing for Mendoza here. He continues to be a real fun treat to watch in the ring. 

Robert O’Neill: Having not seen a ton of either guy, I enjoyed that match quite a bit. 

Time for the main event! 

Chris Novak: Joining up with KUSHIDA to face Imperium was… The Fashion Police! AKA Breezango. This proved to be a fun main event. KUSHIDA got the pin for his team but was taken off his feet by WALTER to end the broadcast, so Imperium stood tall despite the loss. Hm, interesting. Seems like the endgame is WALTER-KUSHIDA, which will be fun. Just a matter of when we get to that point. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: This show started off hot but I think it cooled down precipitously as it went on. This obviously wasn’t as great as last week’s show but was still solid overall. I think they really gotta start going towards using promos and building characters very soon. You can’t just have matches on a weekly TV show. I get why this is happening for now, but they gotta get this in gear. It’s not going to change next week, but hopefully soon it will. B- for me.

Robert O’Neill: Another solid week for NXT. Don’t think it was quite as good as last week, but I still enjoyed it and can’t wait for next week. B+