Neither Raw or Smackdown were any good this week, which is sadly becoming a running trend.
However, we were still treated some little gems including Braun Strowman’s destruction, Sasha Banks winning a Gauntlet Match, Elias smashing a guitar over Seth Rollins, Ronda Rousey’s intense face, and there was a BBQ for the Raw teams. Yes, really.
Over on Smackdown, Samoa Joe advanced to MITB, Lana and Naomi had a dance off, Asuka took out Mandy Rose, The New Day knocked off The Miz and The Bar, and Shinsuke Nakamura took out The Perfect 10.
Here’s the Top 10 from both shows this week.
10. Shinsuke Nakamura Def. Tye Dillinger.
No AJ Styles this week so it was left to Shinsuke Nakamura to promote their Last Man Standing Match, and who better to face than The Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger? Nakamura completely dominated Dillinger, who is now basically a jobber with a name. I personally don’t rate Dillinger very highly, but he can still be useful. However, if WWE haven’t got anything for him why not let him go? Same goes for a lot of the roster. I can see why they won’t as they have a lot of live events to promote and we all know fans clamour to see Mojo Rawley and The Ascension anytime they’re in town.
Back to the match, and I absolutely loved Nakamura heeling it up once again. He’s been a breath of fresh air since turning at WrestleMania. I really do think now is the time to pull the trigger on a title reign. But I can see WWE balking at the idea once more. Styles is a tremendous Champion but he has a habit of becoming stale when having a long run with the gold. Take the title off him and allow him to mix with the mid-card again, just keep him away from Kevin Owens.
9. Samoa Joe Advances To MITB.
Money In The Bank needs Samoa Joe in it, and thanks to his victory on Smackdown the gimmick bout will get The Samoan Submission Machine. However, how they got there leaves a lot to be desired. It was built as a dream WWE match between Joe and Daniel Bryan who have had classics with each other all over the world in other organizations but this was to be the first occasion the pair were meeting in Vince McMahon’s promotion. Sadly, that didn’t happen as Big Cass made a miraculous recovery from his torn ACL to announce himself in the main event, making it a Triple Threat Match. Cass is a heel, and did his job of making us hate him here, but what exactly is his character? He’s tall, that’s about it. It seems that’s all creative have for him too. Give us a reason to hate the character, not just the wrestler otherwise he’s in danger of becoming this generation’s version of X-Pac.
The three way was lively, but would’ve been so much better had Cass not been involved. Bryan taking the L was to be expected as no one tall can be made to look weak in WWE unless you’re The Big Show. Joe is a dark horse to win MITB, but I really don’t think he needs it. If he wants a title opportunity he will just take it, same goes for Braun Strowman. As for Cass and Bryan, it seems their feud is still ongoing. Such a criminal waste of Bryan’s talents.
8. Nia Jax Turns Heel.
Okay, what the hell was that? Alexa Bliss was proven right – Nia Jax is a bully. None of this made any sense. How did WWE manage to mess this up when it was so simple? The story arc to get Ronda Rousey to the main event of WrestleMania is so easy that anyone with a slight bit of wrestling knowledge and creative skill could write. Don’t believe me? Here’s the bullet points I drafted up this morning:
- Keep Rousey and Jax respecting each other.
- Have Alexa Bliss win MITB.
- Have Bliss attack Rousey before her title match.
- Have Bliss and Mickie James assualt Jax, and attempt a MITB cash-in only for Rousey to make the save.
- Keep the story going and keep Rousey looking strong by having tag bouts. Perhaps even add a third member to Alexa’s team to allow Natalya to join in.
- Give Rousey and Jax the wins of course, setting up another collision between the pair at Survivor Series.
- Have Jax win with a super fast count from the referee. Stephanie McMahon can come out and act confused, as well as Jax. Then have Jax turn on Rousey with a brutal attack. Final visual is Stephanie raising Nia’s hand in victory.
- Nia Jax is now The Authority’s hired muscle. Rousey has an obstacle to overcome. She takes down all comers and every odd put in front of her by Stephanie to earn a title shot at the Royal Rumble
- This is where Ronda Rousey finally defeats Nia Jax and captures the Championship. However, Stephanie orders several wrestlers down to beat up Rousey, allowing Alexa Bliss to cash-in her MITB Contract and steal the title.
- This builds sympathy for Rousey. Later in the same night have Natalya offer her place in the Royal Rumble match to her friend Ronda.
- Rousey wins the Royal Rumble match, defying Stephanie once again.
- Stephanie refuses to give Rousey her title opportunity because she wasn’t even supposed to be in the Rumble. Instead she gives the shot to Natalya, who subsequently loses due to the numbers game and Rousey being banned from ringside. Have Ronda show up after the match to clean house of the bad guys.
- During a gloating session by Bliss, Jax and Stephanie, have Vince McMahon make a return and in one of his famous “in the interest of fairness” speeches book Ronda Rousey against Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship at Elimination Chamber.
- On the night, Rousey is seen laying flat out in the backstage area. Bliss is all smug in the ring until Kurt Angle announces Raw’s newest member, who will be taking Ronda’s place in the match – Charlotte. Sasha Banks or Bayley can go the opposite way. Charlotte wins.
- Charlotte feigns sympathy for Rousey before video evidence reveals The Queen as Ronda’s attacker.
- Ronda can go through Bliss, Jax and anyone else Stephanie puts in her way on the road to WrestleMania and an ultimate showdown with Charlotte.
- The main event of WrestleMania sees Ronda Rousey challenge and defeat Charlotte to become the new Raw Women’s Champion and the standard bearer of the women’s division in WWE.
7. Braun Strowman Destruction.
Once again Raw kicked off with a superstar cutting a rather phoned-in promo before being interrupted by someone which led to Kurt Angle setting up the impromptu bout. This week the superstars in question were Braun Strowman and Finn Balor. It was just so tedious to watch. The predictably of Raw has become mind-numbing now. Would it kill the writers to shake it up a bit?
Why can’t WWE simply promote Raw like a real show? Have the line up booked beforehand, and promote it on their website and social media. It would make a lot more sense than having these nonsensical openings every week that make out the GM is just running around hopelessly praying some of his superstars will get into a scuffle so he can book a bout because he hasn’t got a clue what to do otherwise. The match itself was okay, nothing compared to their fun main event seven days prior, however. Kevin Owens causing the DQ was fun, as was seeing Strowman exact his revenge later in the evening by squashing him and subsequently Bobby Roode.
6. Elias Flattens Seth Rollins.
Seth Rollins continues to deliver miracles on a weekly basis. This week he made a Jinder Mahal match watchable. I know, crazy! Seriously, all Rollins has to do now is walk on water and he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ. On a more serious note, the finish was puzzling. Rollins had Mahal beat, why did he need to use a steel chair to get himself disqualified? I know it was done to keep Mahal looking strong for his inevitable flattening at the hands of Roman Reigns, but there were better ways of going about that. I mean, they literally set it up prior to the bout with Rollins interrupting Elias, who is still the most entertaining guy on the roster right now. Why didn’t they just have The Drifter cost Rollins the match by smashing him over the head with a guitar? That’s what they did after the contest, so it makes even less sense as to why they didn’t do it before.
But on a more positive note, an Elias program with Seth Rollins over the IC Title promises to be something very special indeed. Side note, it was nice of Roman Reigns to help out his buddy, wasn’t it? And Vince McMahon wonders why fans “serenade” The Big Dog with boos every week. It’s because his character sucks.
5. The B-Team Have A BBQ.
Well, this was…. Yeah. Vince McMahon really loves his food and toilet humour. Sadly this has come at the expense of the tag team division. I’ve never been a fan of tag team wrestling anyway, well except for the time The Dudleys, Hardys and E&C were killing it in TLC Matches, but I still don’t like to see anything turned into a mockery especially when they have the ingredients to make it so good.
Okay so the Raw tag team division isn’t the most in-depth or talented but there’s still plenty to play around with. I mean, where’s AOP gone? They could be a monster tandem on the main roster. What about Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt? Stop giving them meaningless five minute bouts and start showcasing their wacky characters more with unique vignettes. The B Team are funny, but there’s only so far a plucky underdog duo can go. Titus Worldwide might be beyond saving at this point. The Revival are fantastic old-school wrestlers that deserve more of a spotlight. Just let them do their thing. Give them 20 minutes against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre next week and I guarantee social media will be buzzing. WWE simply need to embrace the division again, not make it the butt of the chairman’s jokes.
4. The New Day defeats The Miz & The Bar.
Whenever you put these six men in the ring together, whatever the combination, you’re going to get a great bout. That’s exactly what happened here. Big E was dominant and clearly the star of the match, which seems to hint at a major singles push for The New Day powerhouse. The Bar are still treading water on Smackdown which is a surprise considering the success they had on Raw. Maybe it’s time they split up and went their separate ways. A Cesaro and AJ Styles summer program sounds good to me.
The Miz continues to be the ultimate antagonist on the blue brand. I truly believe his recent work deserves one more shot at the WWE Championship, and this time don’t overshadow him with The Rock. Him taking the fall in this one could signify a MITB win for The A-Lister. That’s how he won his first WWE Title. Imagine the heat he’d get if he was to cash-in on Daniel Bryan and steal the Championship? It would be awesome, pun intended.
3. Naomi and Lana Dance Off.
I know a lot of fans didn’t enjoy this, and I can’t really blame them as the execution was pretty poor. However, a dance-off between two dancers isn’t a horrible idea, it’s actually playing to the characters strengths so I applaud WWE for this. We need to see more of this actually. Obviously it could’ve been executed better, and not just set up to promote next week’s six-person tag also featuring Rusev Day and The Usos, but at least WWE were trying to stick true to the characters at their disposal.
2. Asuka obliterates Mandy Rose.
Mandy Rose is becoming a heat magnet akin to Eva Marie. I think that’s a good thing. She’s not very talented in the ring, so use what you got to get over. And she’s doing that very well. Putting her in the ring with Asuka was a big ask, but she still managed to get a lot of boos, which shows her character is working. Unlike with Big Cass, we are hating the brash, arrogant character who believes she’s great but is awful, as opposed to the real-life person. There’s a big difference.
Asuka was always going to win, so no surprise there. The staredown afterwards with Carmella was set up to add excitement to their MITB title showdown but it lacked any real drama. Asuka should eat Carmella alive, and anything else will be too unrealistic to believe. Just put The Icconics with Carmella, give her some protection and added popularity.
1. Sasha Banks Wins Gauntlet.
The Boss has headlined a lot of Raw episodes now. In fact, no woman in the history of WWE has main evented WWE’s flagship show more than Sasha Banks. That’s Legit. However, this latest headliner wasn’t her finest hour but you can’t blame her for that. WWE decided to whizz through the gauntlet bout, giving each contest a measly five minutes which is nowhere enough to tell a good story.
If I didn’t know any better I’d say WWE were getting bored of this Women’s Revolution lark. Maybe if Triple H and Stephanie McMahon had all boys instead of girls we wouldn’t be seeing a movement at all, but that could just be me being cynical. Anyway, Sasha won, lastly eliminating the very impressive Ruby Riott to earn a spot in the women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match. I really hope she doesn’t try some insane stunt in that bout because she don’t have to. She’s already the best. All she has to do is be herself, don’t take silly risks, and maybe turn heel.