Don’t Too Sweet Me, bro

RAW 1-29-2018

The weekend was so full of great wrestling with NXT TakeOver and the Royal Rumble that it was hard getting excited for RAW this week. Luckily, WWE didn’t make this week’s show a chore to watch. I was a bit disappointed that there were no call-ups from NXT, but the show delivered like it hasn’t in a while.

Of course, the show starts off with Stephanie telling us how historic the Women’s Royal Rumble was; in case you didn’t pick up on the vibe the night before. Asuka comes out, but doesn’t specify who she’s going to face at Wrestlemania. Sasha comes out to interrupt. The slow Sasha heel turn continues. Honestly, Sasha needs to be off TV for a while. I know it’s the right time for it now with Wrestlemania around the corner, but her shtick is tired. I get it, you’re “The Boss”.

Asuka vs Sasha Banks happened later in the show. Of course, Asuka won in a pretty good match. Both women got a chance to look strong. Sasha nearly killed herself with a botched dive outside the ring. Her legs hit the top rope as she was diving out and she spiked herself on the ground just as Asuka was about to kick her. It could have ended up very badly for Sasha. The only problem I had with this match is that Bayley was nowhere to be found. Sasha eliminates her in the Royal Rumble, but there is no fallout the next day. Bayley should have at least confronted her at some point during the show, or come out to distract Sasha and cost her the match. Just goes to show you how far Bayley has fallen. WWE is doing this angle and Sasha and Bayley are wrestling at Wrestlemania, but they should have started it from this episode of RAW. Lazy booking.

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The Miz beat Roman Reigns in another IC Title match. Good stuff from these guys. WWE is making The Miz look strong. The rumor is that he’ll be feuding with Braun Strowman at Wrestlemania. Speaking of Braun, he again tried to murder Kane. They had a Last Man Standing match as an Elimination Chamber qualifier. Strowman tipped the announcer’s table/stage over on to Kane and the match was over. How many times does Braun have to almost kill someone before the police charge him with attempted murder? The funny thing is that, for some reason, the announcers had to set up a new table near the ring because of what Braun did when someone could have very easily just tipped it back and things would have been fine. Maybe the area was a crime scene that couldn’t be disturbed.

In the two other Elimination Chamber qualifiers, Elias beak Woken Matt when Matt was distracted by Bray Wyatt, and John Cena beat Finn Balor. Two very good matches. WWE is making Elias look strong and I’m curious to see how he’ll do in the chamber. I know people are probably wondering where Woken Matt is headed. It looks like he now has full control of all the Broken Matt related trademarks. Hopefully this is a sign that he is ready to move forward with this gimmick. I see a Bray Wyatt – Woken Matt goofy tag team coming. It could be fun.

RAW closed out with John Cena and Finn Balor. I don’t know why John Cena had to win this? Maybe Finn Balor still finds a way into the chamber match. He deserves to be in it. That being said, this match delivered. Both guys got in some big spots, and the finish was in doubt until the end. Sure, maybe you thought Cena was going over, but it wasn’t a slam dunk. There were a few times when I thought Finn was taking it. Cena heeled it up a bit with his Too Sweet and the fans booed. Finish came from a Super AA from the second rope. Balor lost, but looked good.

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There were some other matches, but they didn’t move anything along. No surprises on this show, no Ronda Rousey, no Seth Rollins, no Jason Jordan, and no 205 Live guys. Speaking of 205 Live, Drake Maverick (Rockstar Spud) was named the new GM on Tuesday night and a new 16-man tournament started. Looks like they’re getting a reboot after the whole Enzo thing. 205 needed it, whether or not Enzo was gone. I like 205 Live, but they haven’t done it any favors by having the same guys on every week for most of the year when they had so many other talented guys (Gran Metalik) sitting around doing nothing.

RAW delivered this week. Let’s hope they can keep this up on the road to Wrestlemania.

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Japanese Invasion

Royal Rumble
1-28-2018

It was a history making night; at least that’s what they kept telling me throughout the Royal Rumble. I witnessed history! Ok, it felt more like I watched a pretty good Royal Rumble. The Men’s Rumble match was pretty awesome, the Women’s Rumble match was good (better than I thought it would be), and the other matched were average.

Let’s talk about the four non-Rumble matches to get them out of the way. Two of these matches had the potential to steal the show and the others should’ve been very good. Not so much! WWE found a way to squander the AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn WWE Title match and the Usos vs Gable & Benjamin Smackdown Tag Team Title match. The Bar vs Rollins & Jordan RAW Tag Team Title match was fine, just as I expected. I’ll talk about the three-way later.

The thought of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens beating AJ Styles and being co-champions sounds like a whole lot of fun. At minimum, if AJ Styles won, it should at least be a great match because of the three participants involved. AJ Styles won by pinning Kevin Owens in an ok match. The big thing here is that Kevin Owens wasn’t the legal man, so AJ pinning him shouldn’t have been allowed to stand. Too bad it did. I thought Daniel Bryan was gonna come out to make things right and restart the match. In doing so, this would allow KO and Sami to win. You know Shane would’ve lost it and his tensions with Daniel Bryan could’ve gone to another level. With Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble, I can see why they kept the belt on AJ, but that doesn’t make it right.

The Smackdown Tag Team Title match was a letdown. You had The Usos, arguably the best tag team around, against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, who aren’t too shabby themselves. Chad Gable is so exciting to watch. He can have a great match with anyone, or anyone can have a great match with him. This was a three falls match. Somehow, for the first time in history, the same team won the first two falls. I didn’t even know that was possible. Usos retained, but this should’ve been so much better.

The RAW Tag Team Title match came on after the men’s Royal Rumble. Bad place to be. The crowd was coming down from the Rumble, so they weren’t too into this match. Jason Jordan sold an injury for most of the match which left Seth Rollins to fend for himself. The Bar wins and take back the title. Without The Shield and with Roman Reigns being groomed to kick out of Brock Lesnar’s F-5, Seth Rollins doesn’t have much to do. I think the Jason Jordan turn will end up in Rollins fighting Jordan at Wrestlemania. Poor Seth!

Brock Lesnar pinned Kane in a three-way with Braun Strowman. Strowman did much of the heavy lifting. This match was quite physical, and maybe it was by accident. Earlier in the match, Lesnar took a knee from Braun. A legit knee but it might have been Lesnar’s fault for not taking it right. He never turned his head. Later, Brock shoot punches Braun in the side of the head. Looked solid. What a jerk! I hope Brock loses the title soon, even to Roman. I’m tired of the Universal Champion being absent most of the time.

The men’s Royal Rumble was third on the card. I was surprised when they started hyping it up. I was sure the women would go first, but Stephanie had to have her night. I’m not going to run down the list of entrants and eliminations. What you need to know is that is was probably one of the best Rumbles in a while.

Rusev came out at #1 and the crowd lost their mind and kept up their love for him throughout his run in the Rumble. A chorus of boos rang out when he was finally eliminated. Baron Corbin was not in the match very long, and I wonder if this is the beginning of the end for him. Dolph Ziggler came in at #30 and nobody cared. Andrade Cien Almas and Adam Cole (bay bay), who shouldn’t have even been able to walk, were the NXT entrants and they both put on a show, especially Almas. The biggest surprise of the night was Rey Mysterio who came in at #27. Rey looked to be in the best shape of his life. No word on if it was a one-time only deal.

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The final four was Finn Balor, Nakamura, Reigns, and John Cena. For a second I thought WWE was actually stupid enough to have Roman Reigns win in Philly again. They might have burned the place down if Reigns had won. The right guy won and an AJ Styles – Shinsuke Nakamura match at Wrestlemania should tear the house down. It should be the main event, but WWE will give Roman Reigns his Wrestlemania moment instead.

The Women’s Royal Rumble closed out the show. While it was better than I expected, Stephanie McMahon on commentary was horrendous. She didn’t seem comfortable, and all she talked about was what a historic night it was for the women in the match and all women in general in the history of time.

Asuka won the whole thing which was exactly the right decision. To be honest, I thought Nikki Bella or Stephanie McMahon were going to win. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that. There was sloppy action in the ring, but I think lots of people expected it. This match was full of nostalgia. Except for Asuka, the stars of yesteryear got the most pops. The crowd went nuts for Lita, Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly, and Vickie Guerrero. If they don’t bring back the older stars, how are they gonna have a 30-women Royal Rumble in the future?

The match came down to Nikkie Bella vs Asuka. Of course, Nikki took Asuka to the limit like no ever has in the WWE because she’s Nikki Bella. What a joke. Asuka wins and while she was basking in the glow of being the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble champion, Ronda Rousey comes out to make her WWE debut. Great job, WWE. Way to ruin the moment. Rousey comes out and stinks up the joint with her bad acting and inability to naturally point at the Wrestlemania sign. Reports are that she signed a full-time deal with WWE. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Match of the night: Men’s Royal Rumble
  • Pop of the night: Rey Mysterio
  • No reaction of the night: Tamina and her white jeans and white jean jacket

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Physical X 1000

NXT TakeOver Philly
1-27-2018

Fact, there has never been a bad TakeOver. NXT TakeOver Philly didn’t disappoint. I was sad when this ended. What a physical PPV!

The Tag Team Titles start off the show. I liked this match, but I didn’t love it. The tag titles are usually at the top of the list of best matches for TakeOver shows. This one, not so much. Good back and forth, both sides get a chance to show off, but where was the big spot? The Undisputed Era wins with a roll-up. This match and the titles deserved better than a typical roll-up we see on RAW and Smackdown every week.

Velveteen Dream is probably one of the best NXT stars right now. He has a huge upside. He’s got the look, the attitude, and he can deliver in the ring. Please WWE, don’t mess this up. Dream guaranteed that he’d beat Kassius Ohno in thirty seconds. He didn’t, but he did win. This was a fun match. These guys beat the hell out of each other. So many big shots from both men. Huge top rope elbow from Velveteen Dream for the win.

I don’t know where Kassius Ohno is headed. He has no momentum. He looks destined to be an NXT lifer, and that would be a shame. He’s great a putting people over. Maybe that’s his role.

Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler next. Baszler didn’t need to win this match, but she didn’t need to get pinned either. A DQ loss does her no damage while a pin makes her look weak because she lost both big matches she’s been in. Of course Ember Moon pins Baszler in the middle of the ring. They couldn’t help themselves. The match was mostly Shayna Baszler doing MMA things to Moon. Baszler took a great Eclipse from Moon. I thought she had her there. The last few minutes were Baszler trying to break Ember Moon’s arm, but the champ persevered and reversed it into a roll-up. Moon is still your NXT Women’s champ. Post-match, Shayna Baszler choked out Moon several times on the ramp while not one other women’s wrestler came out to help. Hello!!!! Where is everyone?

Aleister Black and Adam Cole spent the next match trying to mame and murder each other. An Extreme Rules stipulation is exactly what this match and PPV needed. Great spots by both men. The used everything they could find; chairs, kendo sticks, trash cans, ladders, tables, and the announcer’s table. How Adam Cole didn’t break his back on a sick double chair spot is beyond me. I winced in pain when Black delivered it. Like Velveteen Dream and Kassius Ohno, these guys beat the hell out of each other and it was great. Undisputed Era came out to save Cole, but Sanity took care of them. Black won, as he should have.

Aleister Black is so money. The sky’s the limit for this guy on the main roster if WWE doesn’t mess it up. Can you imagine Black vs Nakamura, Black vs Balor, Black vs Owens, Black vs AJ Styles, Black vs Rollins????? All of those, yes please.

Can’t believe the NXT Title match had to follow that, but that’s life. Another physical battle. Andrade Cien Almas and Johnny Gargano put on a hell of a show. So many near falls. Often, WWE does one near fall too many, but here they all worked. Zelina Vega tried to get involved only to have Johnny Wrestling’s real-life wife, Candice LeRae beat the crap out of her and have her running for the hills. Almas pinned Gargano and all the air went out of the crowd. Gargano went through a lot and the crowd went along with him. Johnny Gargano needs to eventually win this title.

As the show went off the air, Tommaso Ciampa attacked Gargano at the top of the ramp. It was expected. Although, I thought Ciampa would cost Gargano the title. I hope a Ciampa-Gargano feud doesn’t take Johnny Wrestling away from the NXT Title picture. He deserves to win gold. That being said, Gargano and Ciampa should have a fantastic feud.

  • Match of the night: Cien Almas vs Johnny Gargano
  • Pop of the night: War Machine, Ricochet and EC3 in the crowd.
  • No reaction of the night: AOP, might be time to move these guys up.

Sami Zayn + Kevin Owens = Gold

Smackdown 1-23-2018

I sure hope the rumors are true and Shinsuke Nakamura wins the Royal Rumble because Smackdown could use some excitement. Smackdown isn’t a bad show. They have great talent and interesting storylines, but there’s something missing.

This episode was way better than last week’s and did what it was supposed to do as a go home show, advance storylines and make me want to get the PPV. To be honest, I was gonna watch the Royal Rumble anyway. Too bad RAW had to pack in so much nostalgia instead of actually working on getting people excited about the PPV.

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are the best thing on WWE TV right now. Snarky Sami Zayn is the best Sami Zayn. I love AJ Styles, but the idea of WWE co-champions KO and Sami sounds like pure gold. How would that even work? That’s what’s great about it, not to mention the eventual turn and match between these two. Go back and watch their feud on the WWE Network; it’s fantastic.

AJ takes the bait from Sami and KO and accepted their challenge to fight them both in one night. Daniel Bryan continues to give the illusion that he’s stacking the deck against AJ. I somehow think this storyline ends with a big swerve. There’s no way the fans want to boo Daniel Bryan. I see Shane McMahon somehow joining KO and Sami. A heel Shane is easy to boo, especially if he starts to morph into a milder version of Mr. McMahon. If Daniel Bryan does get cleared to wrestle, a Shane O Mac – Daniel Bryan feud could be interesting.

AJ beats Owens, but loses to Sami Zayn. Both matches delivered, and Shane tried to even the odds by trying to make sure AJ only had to worry about one competitor at at time. Great stuff and two storylines advanced at the same time. What a concept! Who knew WWE had it in them? There’s no way RAW and Smackdown have the same writers.

Chad Gable and Jey Uso had a great back and forth match. Gable can do so many things in the ring. I wonder if he’ll get a chance as a singles competitor because he deserves to do more than just be part of a tag team. Gable wins. I wonder if WWE would put the titles on Gable and Benjamin at the Royal Rumble? The Usos are probably the best tag team on the planet right now, but Jey Uso getting a DUI recently might give them a reason to switch the titles.

The rest of the show also delivered. Shinsuke Nakamura beat Baron Corbin by DQ when Randy Orton decided to show up and RKO everyone. Good, physical match prior to that. Earlier, Nakamura gave a backstage interview without his mouthpiece in. Finally! His English isn’t the greatest and that mouthpiece wasn’t helping. It made a huge difference.

Naomi beat Liv Morgan in a singles match that ended with all the Smackdown women in the ring after the match. Liv Morgan had some nice moves and looks to be improving in the ring. She certainly has life after the Riott Squad. Nice tension at the end of this segment when Becky Lynch went after Naomi and tried to put her over the top rope. Every woman for themself.

Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Bobby Roode vs Rudev Day and Jinder Mahal. Pretty good match. Everyone had a chance to look strong, especially Bobby Roode. Woods pins English, and the crowd is happy. Rusev did his thing here, but they need to do more with him. The fans love Rusev Day and this could go far if WWE let it. Rusev should be going for the US Title next. Jinder is done. Let Rusev chase, it’ll be a lot of fun.

Match of the night: AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn
Pop of the night: AJ Styles. The guy is money.
No reaction of the night: Naomi. Yes she glows in the dark, but I don’t feel any excitement when she comes out. Fans aren’t really feeling the glow.

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RAW Twenty-Meh!

RAW 1-22-2018

RAW25 had so much promise. There were so many big names announced and it was the go home show before the Royal Rumble. Easy, right? Somehow, with so much to work with, WWE found a way to make this show underwhelming.

The show was coming from two separate locations, the Barclays Center and the Manhattan Center (where RAW was born). The show peaked in the open. Shane O Mac and Stephanie introduced Vince McMahon and he heeled it up for the crowd like we would expect from Mr. McMahon. Glass breaks and the crowd loses it’s mind. Surprisingly, Stone Cold didn’t say a word during this segment, but words weren’t needed. The fans only wanted one thing and Austin delivered. First, Mr. McMahon sacrificed Shane to Stone Cold to take a stunner the way only Shane O Mac can. Vince thought he was safe, but of course he got a stunner. The fans lose their minds even more. Shane gets one more stunner before Austin drank/bathed in several beers. Perfect open. Too bad the writers forget their creativity for the rest of the show.

The rest of the RAW25 portions of the show felt like any other special edition of RAW when they bring back the old-timers/former stars. You had APA playing cards, The Dudleys doing their thing to an unsuspecting mid-carder, DX doing their shtick, and various stars in situations backstage. The DX thing was cooler than normal because HHH, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, X-Pac, The New Age Outlaws, and The Balor Club shared a Too Sweet moment after Gallows and Anderson dispatched of The Revival. Poor Revival, they lost their match with the Good Brothers and then got hit with everyone’s finisher.

The Undertaker cut a promo at the Manhattan Center. It was confusing. I was expecting something big; he would officially announce his retirement or he would call out Cena for a Wrestlemania match. Neither happened. At least, I couldn’t tell if either happened. He said something about his opponents finally being able to rest in peace. Then he left. WTF was that? I’ll give Taker this, he looked to be in good shape.

The fans at the Manhattan Center got screwed. They paid minimum $250 to watch RAW on a screen, a couple of 205 Live matches, The Undertaker, and the DX segment. How do they not have Rob Van Dam show up there? He was only Mr. Monday Night. The fans were getting restless throughout the night. I was worried a riot would break out.

Woken Matt Hardy vs Bray Wyatt also happened at the Manhattan Center. Why would you have these two guys fight before the Royal Rumble? WWE, that’s why? Of course, Wyatt beats Matt with Sister Abigail. Why? WWE, that’s why. This location and this crowd was perfect for Woken Matt to take it to the next level. Why not introduce Vanguard 1, Senior Benjamin, Brother Nero? Why WWE, why???? Opportunity missed.

As for the Royal Rumble build part of the show, there wasn’t much to it. The Miz beat Roam Reigns for the IC Title with a smooth exposed center turnbuckle move. I guess this opens the door for Roman Reigns to win the Royal Rumble in Philly? WWE wouldn’t do that, would they?

Osuka showed her dominance ahead of the Royal Rumble by clearing the ring of her tag partners after winning the match against the four heels. Jason Jordan pissed off The Bar and Seth Rollins. Elias had a great night. First he got to interact with Jericho, who called him a stupid idiot and put him on the list. Elias was able to anger the Brooklyn crowd with one of his songs. John Cena comes out and eats a guitar shot across his back for his troubles. The shot looked strong. Jeff Jarrett could learn a thing or two from Elias. The final segment of Braun Strowman putting Brock Lesnar through a table seemed a bit rushed.

I kept waiting for a big thing to happen on RAW25, but it never did. Where was The Rock? Where was Mick Foley? How can you have Steve Austin and not The Rock and Mick Foley? I get that The Rock is some big movie and TV star, but you could’ve at least had a taped segment or something. Are we going to have to wait until RAW30?

The WWE missed a big opportunity with this show. There were probably some fans watching who tuned out long ago and this was the best WWE could do? They had an opportunity to wow some long ago fans and they blew it. Way to play it safe WWE.

  • Match of the night: The Miz vs Roman Reigns
  • Pop of the night: Stone Cold Steve Austin
  • No reaction of the night: Michelle McCool when they brought out the divas….errrr…..women

Too Sweet 5

The Tournament Begins

Mixed Match Challenge 1-16-18

The Mixed Match Challenge is something I’ve been excited about. WWE has done a great job with the videos and promotion for this tournament, but it makes me wonder why they can’t treat their other shows with the same enthusiasm. The concept of a Facebook only show is very interesting, and I don’t think this will be a one-time deal. Having shows on different platforms is the future. There’s no way this company is going to evolve by just sticking to one television channel and their own network. This tournament will be a good gauge of interest in their product outside of the traditional mediums.

The first matchup of the tournament was Finn Balor and Sasha Banks vs Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya Neidhart. I was kinda bummed that Nakamura was paired with Natalya, but they won me over with the promo videos with Nakamura acting like a cat. The match itself was very enjoyable. There was some good action between Balor and Nakamura, and Nattie and Sasha. There was also some good comedy stuff in between. At one point, Sasha was about to dive to the outside to take out Nattie, but Nakamura caught her and put back on the ring apron. She then proceeded to jump over him and take out Nattie like originally planned. That’s exactly what this tournament should be, good action with a mix of comedy. In WWE, you usually get one or the other. They try not to mix them unless Heath Slater and Rhyno are in the ring, or it unintentionally happens when Braun Strowman is going on a rampage backstage.

The match goes back and forth until Sasha pinned Natalya with the Bank Statement. Crowd popped and everyone went home happy. Actually they didn’t go home yet because 205 Live took place immediately after the match. Nice way to start the tournament. I hope they can keep it up. Next week, Asuka and The Miz vs Carmella and Big E. Asuka and The Miz are my favorites to with the whole thing.

  • Match of the night: Duh!
  • Pop of the night: When Finn Balor Too Sweet’d Nakamura after a set of back and forth holds
  • No reaction of the night: None. Crowd was hot for this.

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New US Champion

Smackdown 01-17-18

I look forward to Smackdown every week. It’s kinda my show, but it’s getting hard to get through the shows lately. KO, Sami Zayn, Daniel Bryan, and Shane usually are enough to make it an enjoyable show. This week, no KO and Sami in the ring, no furthering of the Shane-Daniel Bryan tension, and no AJ Styles in the ring. Instead, we got Jinder Mahal wrestling twice on a show that only had four matches.

For some reason, WWE changed the US Title finale from the Royal Rumble to Next week to tonight. Jinder Mahal beat a very game Xavier Woods in the first semi-final and Bobby Roode beat Mojo Rawley in the second semi-final. Both matches were decent, nothing special. I want to like Mojo Rawley, I really do, but if he were gone tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t notice.

The same six girls, but different from the same six girls on RAW, fought in a 6-man match that was won by the Riott Squad. This looked like a showcase for Liv Morgan. She looked the most impressive in this match. I hope they call up more women because it’s hard to get excited about these matchups week after week.

The show closes with Jinder Mahal vs Bobby Roode for the US Title. I’ll be honest, I thought Jinder was getting over her because WWE wanted to build him back up for possibly another WWE title run. Well, Bobby Roode beat Jinder to become the new US Champion. Where does Jinder go from here? Is WWE admitting that their experiment didn’t work? Is Jinder gonna start sliding down the mid-card? What’s gonna happen to the Bollywood Boys? Personally, I’d move the Bollywood Boys to 205 Live. They can work, and 205 Live needs new blood, so we don’t have to see the same people every week.

Some other stuff happened with AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, and Randy Orton, but it wasn’t that memorable. Most of the night was spent hyping the Mixed Match challenge. Overall, this episode was a miss.

  • Match of the night: Roode vs Mahal
  • Pop of the night: AJ Styles during an interview segment
  • No reaction of the night: Mojo Rawley (what’s the point?)

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