Goldberg answers a question that no one asked, while Shayna Baszler takes a literal bite out of her competition!
All that, and more in this week’s Red Versus Blue!
It’s safe to say that the upcoming Super Showdown event has created a fairly confusing dynamic within the WWE. With female talent unable to take part in the Saudi show, both Raw and Smackdown’s Women’s divisions have been pushed to the point of disarray. The abundance of women’s title matches either taking place or being announced as upcoming on this week’s programming was enough to make any fan’s head spin. On the other hand, the male competitors who are involved with Super Showdown have been gifted the burden of hyping a glorified house show as if it’s Wrestlemania calibre, while also hyping up Wrestlemania.
Even the fairly sudden appearance of Bill Goldberg only served to contribute more to this noticeable veil of confusion, as it stirred memories of the Hall of Famer’s past Saudi outing. And if all that wasn’t enough to leave most people scratching their heads, now there are rumoured Elimination Chamber leaks being reported! Vince and company are shooting in every conceivable direction, and the resulting gun smoke is getting thicker by the second. Nevertheless, it is still my duty to pierce through that fog in a neverending quest to answer the one question that truly matters… which show was better?
You know the schtick by now, folks! Every week I watch the shows, make the notes, and then deliver unto you fine readers my semi-informed opinion of which show was better overall. So, with the introduction and explanation adequately handled, it’s time to jump right into the positive highlights of the week.
As far as opening segments go, it doesn’t get much better than what the Blue Brand brought to the table this week. It was the return of “The Dirt Sheet” as The Miz and John Morrison took centre stage to brag about their tag team number one contender’s status and to debut a trailer for their upcoming “film”. This was gold from top to bottom! The trailer was the perfect amount of cornball and featured appearances by “Mr Miz”, Lance Storm, and inventor of the cutter; John “Ace” Laurinaitis. As the trailer ended, The New Day became involved in the segment and Big E’s usual comedic shenanigans took things even higher up the enjoyment scale.
By the time the Usos joined in, it was visibly noticeable that everyone taking part in this promo was having a blast. The whole spot even ended nicely with Miz and JoMo utilizing a distraction to cheap shot the New Day, emphasizing their heel personas further. This is the recipe for how you make great wrestling moments. A little comedy, a dash of hype, and a pinch of palpable excitement, then let it all shimmer over some old fashioned heel heat. Delicious!
Up next on Smackdown’s good column is Goldberg asking the same question he’s been asking since the ’90s. Can you believe it’s 2020 and I’m writing about Bill freaking Goldberg?! That earth-shattering epiphany aside, Goldberg’s recent in-ring work has been relegated to mostly squash matches against more than competent talents. Coupling that with his last trip to Saudia Arabia resulting in what was one of the worst matches of his career only made fans roll their eyes even harder when the announcement of his involvement in Super Showdown went public.
Truthfully, this could have easily ended up on Smackdown’s negative column, but the brilliance of Bray Wyatt earned it a place in the positives. Whether it was interrupting Goldberg’s interview with a faux news break, or tweeting about the feud being built on a tattoo Bill inspired him to get, Bray immediately made us care about this match. Sure, it’ll most likely be another squash match full of no-sells, but Goldberg will more than likely end up doing the job in what may be his last match. That alone makes this one worth watching.
Wrapping up the Blue Brand’s positives for the week is the “blink and you’ll miss it” segment centred around Daniel Bryan. After Goldberg declared The Fiend as being “next”, Heath Slater was shown approaching Daniel. Slater openly questioned Goldberg’s decision based off of the recent experiences Bryan had with the Fiend, leading to Daniel challenging Slater. Bryan went on to brutally dismantle Heath quickly, ending the segment bathed in a sea of “yes” chants.
This makes the positive list not only because Daniel seems to be the latest victim of Bray’s “corruption”, but also because it seems Bryan is starting to lean more towards his “American Dragon” persona. A return to the hard-hitting, savagely technical style that Daniel utilized in the independent circuits would jump-start his career in the WWE and build anticipation for dream matches moving forward. Main events with a no-nonsense Bryan facing Styles or Nakamura are exactly what WWE needs to stay relevant.
Switching over to Raw’s positives, the Raw Women’s Championship rematch between Asuka and Becky Lynch absolutely earned a spot on the good column. Now, I know I touched on the women’s division being convoluted during the introduction, but this was one of the few times the division’s uber push paid off. Asuka and Becky are undoubtedly the top tier competitors on the Raw women’s roster, and having them work together only proves that point further. Even if the outcome was all but expected, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this was an amazing match.
The subsequent attack by Shayna Baszler following the match dialled the excitement back up to eleven with the bloody imagery of Baszler biting Lynch’s neck as well as the realization that Baszler may be the one to face Lynch at Wrestlemania. Although the events that followed this moment find themselves on a less auspicious part of this article later, this was an all-around great segment.
Moving along, the Street Profits actually wrestled this week! I truly hate to beat a point to death, but how awesome are these guys when they’re actually doing something?! Yes, the match was over pretty fast, but it showcased Ford and Dawkins better than we’ve seen them in weeks. Even the near nonsensical banter we’ve grown used to hearing from the Profits felt less played out when being directed at an actual opponent. I can easily see Montez and Angelo being the team to dethrone Rollins and Bu…Murphy, so hopefully this is the beginning of the Street Profits working more matches.
Finishing off this week’s positives is another highlight from the women’s division. NXT Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley faced Sarah Logan after the latter confronted the former during a backstage interview. Truth be told, the match was an uneventful squash, with Logan eating a loss. However, the match succeeded in building hype for the eventual feud between Ripley and Charlotte Flair. The Women’s Royal Rumble winner opted to spectate from the entrance ramp during Rhea’s match, resulting in the two having words after the fact. Ripley questioned Flair’s presence, with Charlotte’s response pertaining to whether or not Rhea will still be champion after the upcoming Takeover event. This could be considered a throwaway moment, but I honestly like the questions it created. Will Charlotte challenge Ripley at Mania? Will Ripley retain at Takeover? And probably the most intriguing question, will Charlotte be at Takeover?
Kicking off the negatives is the continuation of the painfully played out Baron Corbin and Roman Reigns’ feud. Now, I know that this angle will probably be over after Super Showdown and it’s all but inevitable that Reigns will earn a Universal Title shot at Elimination Chamber, but I’m still going to complain until it’s over!
It’s like you think it can’t get worse, and every week they prove us wrong. This week saw Corbin go on a rampage that ranged from an almost unprovoked attack on a member of the production staff to pouring water over the head of an audience plant wearing a Roman shirt. Corbin called out Reigns throughout the course of these events, only to be taken completely off guard when Roman eventually showed up. The point of this entire debacle became blindingly obvious when Roman finally grabbed a microphone and challenged Corbin to a cage match at Super Showdown. I know I’ve avoided mentioning AEW through this article, but I have to say this definitely feels like WWE trying to play catch up. Both companies promoting cage matches at the same time is completely serendipitous, but that doesn’t explain why Smackdown featured clips from The Fiend’s Royal Rumble strap match two nights after Cody got lashed on Dynamite.
Next up on the Blue Brand’s bad column is the general disinterest that the current Braun Strowman and Shinsuke Nakamura angle is exuding. Nothing about this storyline is being received well. Shinsuke seems like he couldn’t care less, Cesaro basically fills a role, and Strowman has been so over pushed that holding the Intercontinental Championship at this point seems kind of meaningless. If this was the heel version of Shin that formed Chaos and reigned over New Japan defiantly chopping down the giant face champion, it would be the most watchable thing in professional wrestling. Instead, we get a Nakamura that’s helpless without outside intervention. Unless things improve, I won’t be shocked to see Shinsuke return to Japan once his contract is up.
Smackdown’s final negative for the week comes from the lacklustre finish of the women’s Fatal Four-Way main event. Since the creation of the “PG” era, the WWE has become increasingly predictable. With that in mind, when the fans are presented with Alexa Bliss touting her accomplishments before the match and Naomi planting seeds with Bayley during the match, most of us watching assume one of those two will win. So, when the end of the match sees Carmela with her hand raised, the majority of us are left wondering what the hell happened! I get that this prolongs the build to Naomi eventually facing Bayley, but it makes zero sense to throw away a title match for the sake of longevity. Instead of being set up for an inevitable loss, Carmela could be teamed up with Liv Morgan to bolster the Women’s tag division. Just another example of WWE booking focusing on purpose instead of the process.
The Red Brand started the night with an addition to their bad column as the “Monday Night Messiah” and his disciples opened the show. I’ve said it before, so I’m not going deep on this one. Zero purpose, zero direction, zero point. These guys are effectively doing nothing week in and week out. If this group had a goal or even a name, it would be a step towards the faction actually being something. Oh, and it’s pretty bad when you’re so sudden about talent name changes that even Michael Cole gets tripped up!
Finishing this week’s negatives is the conclusion of the Becky Lynch biting incident. See, it would’ve been perfectly acceptable if this segment ended with Becky being helped backstage by paramedics while verbally assuring everyone of her well being, but that was far from the end. Apparently, “The Man” is such a badass that she elected to fight off medical personnel, steal an ambulance, drive herself to the medical facility, just to drive back to the arena in time to cut an impassioned in-ring promo! Seriously?! Where does this gimmick end? Lynch is legit starting to become so arrogant that it’s making her seem more heel than a face.
Are we supposed to assume she’s going heel soon? I get how this could be perceived as a mirrored version of what Steve Austin would’ve done during the Attitude Era, but in present-day it comes across as reckless and stupid. It would’ve made just as much sense to have Becky fight off paramedics after getting bandaged backstage leading to her promo, but apparently it takes a real tough cookie to drive themself to get medical attention. A positive honourable mention does have to be awarded to Lynch for throwing out a “flesh wound” Monty Python reference before things got too out of hand.
As we inch closer towards Super Showdown, it’s rapidly starting to look more like a pothole on the road to Wrestlemania rather than the first stop. But before we reach beautiful Riyadh, we still have a question to answer! So, as for which show was better, I have to say this week goes to…
The Red Brand continues to dominate yet another week in a row! Normally I’m not one to preach the need for more wrestling, but it’s really starting to feel like Raw accomplishes more in three hours than Smackdown can in two. Maybe next week will prove otherwise, but for now, it’s time for me to bid you fine readers farewell the only way I know how.
Until next week, may all your kicks be super and every frog splash five stars.
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading.