As Smackdown rebounds from the Royal Rumble, Monday Night Raw begins the push towards Super Showdown in this week’s Red Versus Blue!
It certainly seems as though this year’s “Road to Wrestlemania” was planned out by Bugs Bunny. With the first stop after the Royal Rumble being a colossal “wrong turn at Albuquerque” leading straight towards Saudi Arabia. With last year’s Crown Jewel debacle still relatively fresh in many of our minds, it’s safe to say this latest edition of the Super Showdown may very well be the most-watched Saudi show so far. A realization that apparently Vince and company have come to as well, as names the likes of Sting, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar have already been announced to appear.
WWE is doubling down on the nostalgia factor this time, in what can only be perceived as an attempt to mask the fact that most of their current talent adamantly spoke out against returning to Saudi Arabia after being “abandoned” the last time around. This has led to an interesting dynamic being instituted amongst WWE’s weekly shows as most of the main roster has been put into a sort of “holding pattern”. While the small amount taking part in Super Showdown build hype for the Saudi event.
This week’s Smackdown saw Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin continue a feud most considered finished after the Rumble. While Raw’s main event was a number one contender’s triple threat for a WWE Championship match at Super Showdown. So, as the WWE scamper to establish hype while also trying to keep already established hype, we gather as we do every week to answer the age-old question…. which show was better?
You know the drill, folks. Each and 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. So, with the introduction and explanation expertly handled, it’s time to jump right into this week’s positive highlights!
Kicking off this week’s good moments for the Blue Brand is the number one contender’s four-way tag team match. In my opinion, Smackdown has the best tag division in WWE currently, and matches like this are what drive that point home. Four undeniably talented teams battling it out for a title shot with the in-ring reunion of The Miz and Morrison being the cherry on top of an already delicious tag team sundae?! You just can’t ask for a better booking than that. Sure, we all knew there was no way in hell that Miz and JoMo wouldn’t end up with their hands raised, but the fact that Vince and company used this opportunity to also showcase teams like Heavy Machinery and Lucha House Party makes this an absolute win in my book.
Next up on Smackdown’s good column is the tag match pitting “Fire and Desire” against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. In yet another case of being satisfying despite being predictable, the team of Cross and Bliss quickly defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville with the outcome being heavily implied as more reason for Alexa and Nikki to be the next challengers for the Kabuki Warriors’ Tag Team Championships. Sure, Bliss and Cross facing off with Asuka and Kairi is technically a rubber match and shows the abysmal state of WWE’s female tag division, but at the end of the day, it’s a logical outcome. In a severely lacking division, Alexa and Nikki are the only credible threat to the Kabuki Warriors. Hopefully, this will be the feud that earns the Women’s tag scene some much-needed focus.
Wrapping up the Blue Brand’s positives is the Intercontinental Championship match between Braun Strowman and Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s been a long time coming, but Braun has finally landed himself another title reign. Like the previous two highlights, this was fairly easy to predict the outcome, but once again that made the moment kind of satisfying. Wrestling is an ever-changing beast with decisions sometimes being dictated by unseen factors, so from time to time, it’s nice to have an idea of what the plan is as it’s being played out in front of you. Unfortunately, this could mean the end of any menial push we’ve seen Shinsuke receive recently, but maybe this will be the beginning of the King of Strong Style moving on to bigger and better things.
Switching gears to the Red Brand, first up on Raw’s positive moments has to be Randy Orton’s opening segment. This was, without question, the perfect way to follow last week’s heart wrenching final moments. Randy’s portrayal of a man deeply tormented by the decision he made speaks volumes to why he’s been at the forefront of the WWE as long as he has. Every attempt at an explanation for his actions resulted in Orton being bathed in a sea of boos, emphatically confirming the heat Randy has created going into this feud. I truly don’t know if Orton had a scripted promo and decided to call an audible or if this was all a work, but either way, this spot did exactly what it needed to.
Moving on, the sudden main roster call up of Angel Garza is next for Raw’s high spots. In what may have been the most unexpected moment of the night, former NXT Cruiserweight Champion Angel Garza debuted as the newest managerial client of Zelina Vega. Now, this was obviously WWE scrambling to cover Andrade’s recent wellness policy violation, but it’s one of those rare times where they handled an unexpected hiccup expertly well.
Vince and company are doing an absolutely bang-up job when it comes to this current Lucha libre inspired storyline. Bringing Garza into this feud not only adds to the overall heavy focus on Latino talents but also adds to the new level of this family feud. I honestly had no idea Humberto and Angel were related, but I was all ‘in the moment’ when it was mentioned. I can’t say I have a concrete idea of where this is all headed, but I’ll definitely tell you that this is one to keep your eyes on.
Finishing up this week’s positives is the face-off we saw between Charlotte Flair and NXT Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley. It definitely looks like we’ll be seeing Charlotte Flair using her Rumble win to challenge for Rhea’s NXT Championship as last night’s show saw Rhea openly offer Flair the opportunity. In typical fashion, Flair refused to confirm or deny her intentions, instead opting to leave the ring, offering only a “wooo” as she exited.
However, an announcement was made later that Charlotte would be appearing on this week’s NXT to address Rhea’s offer. I know full well I’m not the only one who would rather see this instead of another match between Charlotte and Bayley or Becky. Not only would it be something we haven’t seen before, but it also means there’s a distinct chance we might see Charlotte lose at Mania! Sure it was a bit of a let down seeing Charlotte win the Rumble, but if it means getting an NXT title defence at Wrestlemania, then it was well worth it.
Moving to the negative aspects of the week, first up for Smackdown has to be the addition of the “Super” prefix to this week’s episode. Good lord, FOX wants this whole football and wrestling thing to work so bad! The problem with slapping “super” on a WWE show is the fans are pre-trained to view it as meaning there’s something special about said show. Friday’s Smackdown was nothing out of the ordinary! I understand that this was all done to somehow promote the biggest game in the American Football season more, but it set up Smackdown for failure! Just another reason football and wrestling shouldn’t mix.
The other Blue Brand negative I have to touch on is the…”Loser Eats Dog Food” main event. You’re telling me that two weeks after a legitimately good strap match, the best we can follow it with is a dog food match?! This is on par with that dog kennel fiasco we saw back in the Attitude Era. This entire storyline is beyond played out and the constant addition of dog food in some form or another is only making that more apparent. It’ll be better for everyone involved if this feud ends sooner than later.
After looking over my notes, I’ve realized that all three of my negatives concerning this week’s Raw fall at the feet of just one man…Seth “Freaking” Rollins. Seth legit took part, in some form, in every moment I disliked from last night’s Raw. First, there’s the six-man elimination tag match that we had to be constantly reminded was, in fact, an elimination match because we wrestling fans are notoriously forgetful. Seth’s interference not only isolated Kevin Owens but also secured the win for the former’s team. Then, Seth went on to deliver what can only be described as a dime-store variation of a CM Punk “sermon” before his triple threat main event.
The last nail in Seth’s coffin came when Rollins’ Disciples, Kevin Owens, and The Viking Raiders all suddenly began brawling mid-match during the main event just for everyone to scurry off and the match to continue. There is no point to Seth’s current storyline, and it’s causing everything associated with it to feel just as pointless. Even his new stable feels flat because they’ve created no goal whatsoever for themselves. Seriously, this whole angle makes about as much sense as putting tag titles on the two members of a four-man faction that aren’t an established tag team….wait…
Well, I’m fairly confident that this one is pretty obvious. One show continued it’s above-average quality, while the other seemed doomed from the start. This week’s winner was undoubtedly…
There was no chance that a dog food match was going to hold a candle to that Randy Orton promo, people! Hell, Michael Cole comparing “Super” Smackdown to Halftime Heat was almost enough to damn the Blue Brand this week. So, with Raw continuing their reign as the best show overall, the time has come once again 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.