Once again WWE “treated” us to two lackluster episodes of Raw and Smackdown.
If Rupert Murdoch is watching WWE television lately he will surely be regretting his decision to give Vince McMahon almost a billion dollars to broadcast the shows on his network.
Here’s the Top 10 from both shows this week.
10. Nia Jax Def. Natalya.
Okay, this one is just getting ridiculous now.
Seriously, what the hell are the creative team doing? You have the baddest woman on the planet against the unstoppable force, and yet they’ve still managed to mess it up. It beggars belief, it really does. The latest installment of this farce saw Nia Jax take on Ronda Rousey’s best friend Natalya, for the first time ever (I think WWE should copyright that phrase, they use it so often).
In that bout, Natalya was actually protected by the booking. Yep, the same woman who has lost to everyone and their cat over the last few years needed to be protected against Nia Jax, the person you’re meant to be building as this dominant, indestructible force ready to take down Ronda Rousey. It made zero sense. Natalya ran the ropes and hurt herself, leading to Jax nailing her with the Samoan Drop to pick up the win. That was all. Now, if Nia had sadistically continued to punish Natalya, then it would’ve made sense. But she didn’t. Nothing happened. Ronda then played the concerned friend coming out to check on Natalya all the while Nia looked on with a confused expression on her face. All this is meant to be building our anticipation for their MITB bout, but in reality they’ve messed it up so much we just can’t wait for it to be over with.
9. Jimmy Uso & Naomi Def. Aiden English & Lana.
Who’d have thought real-life married couple Jimmy Uso and Naomi would have such great chemistry in the ring, eh? If The Usos weren’t so freaking awesome together I’d definitely suggest making this more of a common thing, but we don’t want to be breaking up the best tag team in WWE.
Lana is still rather clumsy in the ring, but she’s doing her best and that’s all anyone can ask of her. WWE get ridiculed for constantly pushing her despite her clearly not being ready, but the reason they’re doing that is because she’s so over with the WWE Universe. Isn’t that what the fans want WWE to do, to listen to them? They have, so let’s see what happens.
8. Braun Strowman Def. Bobby Roode.
Nothing of note happened here, but I wanted to add it because I needed an excuse to talk about Braun Strowman. Why he isn’t the current Universal Champion is a mystery to me, and many members of the WWE Universe. Why he wasn’t booked to decimate and dethrone Brock Lesnar at No Mercy last year is up there with Jinder Mahal becoming WWE Champion in terms of ridiculous and idiotic booking decisions. The Monster Amongst Men is more over than anyone else on the roster. It’s not even as if Brock gets thunderous ovations when he makes his rare forays back into the world of sports entertainment. He gets no reaction, which is even worse than what Roman Reigns gets.
Braun Strowman is everything Vince McMahon looks for in a top level WWE superstar. But instead of pushing him to the moon, he decided to make him win the Tag Team Titles with a 10-year-old at WrestleMania instead. Despite this shoddy booking, Strowman continues to get the loudest reactions from the crowd on a nightly basis. I don’t think he’s in any danger of losing his popularity anytime soon, but WWE need to do something meaningful with him before they waste one of the best talents they’ve had in a long time.
7. WWE Championship Contract Signing.
This was an unusual way of doing a contract signing but I loved it. It felt more real doing it in a confined area as opposed to the ring. This harkened back to the days of Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant, very nostalgic to say the least. There were some negatives to the segment of course, the main one being that these two didn’t seem like they hated each other. Yes, they traded verbal barbs but nothing out of the ordinary. I was expecting more.
Another thing I noticed was that AJ Styles came across as the heel which was odd. You could see he was riled up by Shinsuke Nakamura to the point of lashing out, but it still came over as a heelish thing to do. You know, slap your opponent then run away. Not something you’d expect from the WWE Champion. Nakamura’s cocky grin afterwards was priceless. I genuinely hope he captures the title at Money In The Bank now. Then hopefully Daniel Bryan will be able to be the only man in WWE apart from Sami Zayn to get a good bout out of Nakamura.
6. The B Team Win #1 Contender’s Battle Royal.
Yeah, I don’t think anyone saw this outcome coming…. I hate it when creative just throws an entire division into one segment in the hope of something sticking. It’s lazy. The tag team division deserves better than that. As I said last week, it’s not the most talented roster we’ve ever seen, but there’s certainly potential there. We all know The Revival are awesome from watching NXT, but Vince McMahon doesn’t seem to agree.
Okay, so they’re a throwback to a bygone era, but that’s what makes them different and unique. It’s what draws people to them because they don’t see superstars like them anymore. Give them a major push, and it may make the younger audience sit up and take notice, maybe check out the Network and watch old school wrestling because of them. Okay, that may not happen, but at least try and do something with The Revival. They shouldn’t be happy about going back to development, as was the case when they made a cameo appearance on NXT. That’s just sad.
This week on Raw saw the entire tag team division meet in a battle royal to determine the new number one contenders to Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy’s Titles. Apart from the sensational performance by Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre in particular, the rest of the bout was dire. The B Team winning was okay, and will make for some good dynamics when real-life brothers Wyatt and Bo Dallas collide. I’d like them to join together in a faction before being run down by McIntyre and Ziggler. Also, the sooner McIntyre moves into the main event scene the better. He has everything you could desire.
5. Asuka Def. Sonya Deville And Mandy Rose In A Handicap Match.
Carmella kicked off Smackdown to discuss her MITB title defense and basically ridicule Asuka, claiming she’s not the same since she lost her undefeated streak. That might be true, but she’s still portrayed as the most dangerous female performer on either roster, minus perhaps Ronda Rousey. Carmella on the microphone has definitely improved also, and her interactions with the fans while doing her promos is helping things from feeling stale.
Having Asuka challenge both Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose at the same time was great booking, and the win helped boost Asuka’s momentum and remind everyone why she should be feared. Carmella standing tall afterwards was also the right thing to do as it adds heat to the upcoming PPV match. I’m just waiting for WWE to do something meaningful with Deville. If you follow her on Twitter you know what an inspiration she is to many people around the world. She could easily portray that on WWE television, and with her talent and look become a household name.
4. Elias & Jinder Mahal Def. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns.
Another Raw, another 20-minute promo to set up a match that could’ve easily been advertised online hours in advance. It’s as if WWE have forgotten how to write wrestling TV. It’s all there on the Network. Go check out what worked, mainly when they had to be innovative in the face of WCW. Let’s face it, since WCW went bust, so did Vince McMahon’s imagination. How and why Fox have spent so much to show WWE on their network is a surprise to say the least. But I live in hope that this is the motivation Vince needs to make WWE TV must see again, instead of must not watch.
This week, Seth Rollins and Elias opened the show to ramble about what happened seven days earlier. Then Jinder Mahal arrived on the scene before Roman Reigns returned to even the odds for his former Shield brother. As this brawl was taking place, Kurt Angle made his entrance, and you’ll never guess what happened next. He only went and booked an impromptu tag team bout. Shocking, I know. For anyone keeping score, Elias and Mahal picked up the win in a rather forgettable contest. I miss Vince Russo TV. Never thought I’d say it, but I do. At least that guy wrote entertaining stuff, most of the time.
3. The New Day Def. The Miz, Rusev and Samoa Joe.
I don’t know about you but I laughed at the backstage segment between The New Day and The Miz to half-heartedly set up this Smackdown main event. Okay, the actual “joke” wasn’t exactly funny, but The New Day’s reactions, in particular Big E, is what got me tickled. He’s a superstar in the making. As for the match, it was lively and energetic. Miscommunication led to Samoa Joe and Rusev bailing on their partner leaving The A-Lister to suffer three-on-one before falling to the longest-reigning WWE Tag Team Champions in history.
We still don’t know which member of The New Day will be participating in the Money In The Bank Ladder Match, which is definitely adding intrigue. Smart money is on Big E but WWE could throw us a curve ball and throw Xavier Woods in there. As for the actual winner? I think he was in this match, and I think when he wins it’s going to be Awesome.
2. Finn Balor Def. Kevin Owens Via Disqualification.
Raw’s main event was good for what it was. Owens is exceptionally over right now, and it always baffles me as to how Raw get the best out of him when their roster is so deep while Smackdown struggled to get him anywhere near the main event level when their roster was a lot thinner. Finn Balor, meanwhile, is crying out for change. A heel turn would be perfect for him. He’s got a following, there’s no denying that, but ever since returning from injury WWE have seemingly been hell-bent on smashing down his aura.
The disqualification outcome was a little forced to say the least. Who gets DQ’d for not listening to the referee these days? I’m so glad they don’t do that in football. But because of what happened afterwards, I can just about forgive the shoddy finish which could’ve been fixed with Owens simply shoving the referee to cause the DQ. Balor scaled a ladder and delivered a picture-perfect Coup De Grace. It really was stunning. I don’t expect either to win Money In The Bank though which is why it’s so important WWE do something productive with both men. Have Owens form a proper partnership with Sami Zayn and take over the tag team division, and have Balor turn heel and go after the IC Championship. At least do something with him.
1. Becky Lynch Def. Charlotte.
This was very good, and my personal favourite match of the entire week. Okay, they were clearly holding back for something bigger down the road but what they delivered on Smackdown was still pretty good. Becky Lynch is so talented yet so wasted at the same time that it’s scary. Hopefully this is the start of a sustained push for The Irish Lass Kicker. She certainly deserves it.
I like her current desperate character who is willing to risk and do anything to get the win she needs. This could be leading to a proper heel turn, but time will tell on that front. It was surprising to see Charlotte lose, and lose clean once again. Maybe WWE have had second thoughts about putting her against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania after all. Although with WWE, they all think we have goldfish memories and nothing that’s happened in the last twelve months will mean anything come next April.