This week in pro wrestling, the road to AEW’s Double or Nothing. Also, build up for NXT’s resurrected In your House! An ousted stable member joins the Messiah’s following! Scary spots on Dynamite may leave questions. Will the journey of Drake Maverick continue? The Monster gets a new challenge! Let’s dive in right now!
Smackdown sends top star over to Raw for non-title main event match on 5/18/20.
Raw continues from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL once again this week and there was plenty of action as well as new alliances to wet the appetite.
The “Rated R Superstar” Edge is out to begin the broadcast and after delivering a fiery promo about his return to the ring and victory over Randy orton, this leads the “Viper” out to the ring and as Edge continues his spirited promo, Orton cuts him off, demanding an answer. They will have their match at Backlash.
These two are masters of their craft and its promos like these that remind you why you’re a wrestling fan. Excellent work here by two of the best ever.
Murphy defeats Humberto Carrillo via pin fall with Murphy’s Law.
The athletic Carrillo continues with path to becoming a journeyman by suffering a loss at the hands of the disciple, Murphy. Carrillo needs a gimmick, he is uber-talented but as dull as dish water as a character.
Murphy needed a win coming back to form in recent weeks and he got it here with his signature maneuver, which is excellent to say the least. More on the alliance of Murphy and Rollins later.
Rollins was supposed to have this match with Carrillo for what happened with Rey Mysterio last week, but Murphy laid on his shield and took the match himself.
Charlotte Flair defeats Ruby Riott via submission with the Figure Eight.
Flair getting a win isn’t a surprise. She is always up to the task and will be a player in the main event for years to come. She’s a solid hand, a solid promo and a great champion.
Riott can be that as well. Why she isn’t being given a chance is beyond me. Is it the injury history? Do they want her to prove that she can stay healthy before rewarding her with a major opportunity? We’ll see.
Charlotte wins here and she’ll be continuing her feud with Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai in NXT. Truth be told, if that leads to a triple threat match, I expect Shirai to win the title and Ripley to move to Raw.
We don’t deserve Asuka. The newly crowned Raw Women’s champion and the incomparable Kairi Sane have a celebration which is crashed by Nia Jax. Jax tries to instill fear in the champ and she gets leveled for it. Asuka deserves a lengthy run with the title and hopefully Jax is just a speedbump on the way there.
Bobby Lashley defeats R-Truth via submission with the full nelson.
Was this a two on one match? R-Truth’s “Pretty Ricky” persona was leveled just as quickly as R-Truth was. Lashley has been dominant and it not only looks like they are going full speed ahead with the MVP alliance, but we’re headed to a title match with Drew McIntyre.
I called this weeks ago and it seems like the next great feud for Raw. These will be two prime athletes battling it out and hopefully, Lashley regains the credibility he lost in that awful feud with Rusev and Lana in the process.
Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross defeat the Iiconics by DQ after Peyton Royce refused to listen to the referee’s instructions.
This was expected. The four women involved had a solid bout for the short time given, but it protected the Iiconics by not having them take a pin fall loss upon their return.
The ending wasn’t the story here, it was the slap heard round the world that followed. Billie Kay would slap Peyton Royce across the face backstage later in the evening. She quickly apologized and hugged her bestie. WWE, don’t be stupid here, please don’t break these two up, that would be bad for business as they are perfect together.
The Viking Raiders and The Street Profits engaged in an axe throwing contest throughout the night in various segments. This was actually pretty hysterical and worth the watch. It led to police officers being called and them getting off because the officer thought Ivar was cute.
These two can have a storybook feud for the titles if they have actual fun segments like these that are actually funny. However, let’s get down to brass tax and have some great competition in the ring. These two will be in the title picture for years to come. Let’s add Ricochet/Alexander and other teams into the fold as well.
Shayna Baszler defeats Natalya via submission with the Kirafuda Clutch.
I don’t think anyone was surprised by the result here. The veteran takes a loss, but the story was the follow-up.
They were getting setup for the imminent return of the “Kevin Owens” show and the return of KO himself and Nattie had a temper tantrum after the loss, destroying the set. She’s turned more times than the Big Show.
Okay, that might be embellishing the truth, but maybe it’ll freshen up her character. Asuka needs heel challengers now that she’s a face.
Kevin Owens/Apollo Crews defeat Andrade/Angel Garza via pin fall after a tigerbomb by Crews on Garza.
It was great to see the return of both men, and boy, do we have a lot to unpack here.
The match itself was fantastic. KO had explained his absence before the bout, saying that he paid the price for his table spot at Wrestlemania with Seth Rollins, but he’s back and ready to compete now.
Crews also made his return and looked fantastic. Crews has been getting better at promos and he’s always been solid in the ring and he was able to get a victory over Angel Garza with his tigerbomb finish. They continue to tease his forthcoming US title feud with Andrade.
Dissention in the ranks is the real story here. After the heels took the loss, the faces celebrated the win and left. Zelina Vega’s stable has apparently found the weak link and this leads to an all out assault of Austin Theory. The young superstar is devastated and laid to waste by his stablemates as the next match gets underway.
Aleister Black defeats Murphy via DQ after outside interference.
Black was looking for a measure of retribution of the “Monday Night Messiah” by Murphy stepped up once again. This was well controlled by Black, but as he displayed his dominance in the ring, Austin Theory was helped up at ringside.
Theory was extended a helping hand by Seth Rollins just as Murphy was months before. Theory seizes the opportunity and joins Murphy in the ring, laying a beating on Aleister Black that caused the DQ. We have a third man in the fold with Rollins and Murphy now. This was a fantastic choice and it seems universally approved in the community.
Theory can learn from one of the best and this fit makes sense. Theory and Murphy can team up and you have another tag team in the fold. Excellent storytelling here.
Drew McIntyre defeats King Corbin via pin fall with the Claymore Kick.
I doubt this end result was a surprise, but Corbin held his own here. The story that the WWE continues to tell and rightfully so, is that McIntyre is a dominant champion.
The brand to brand invitation is supposed to help bolster ratings and it didn’t this week sadly as Corbin, for all his greatness as a heel, isn’t exactly a “draw” when it comes to staying glued to the tube.
AJ Styles would be officially “traded” to Smackdown later in the week for stars to be named later. Unless we end up with Nakamura, Zayn and Cesaro on Raw, that’s a waste in my opinion.
McIntyre can and should carry the brand for months, and the show ended with his next challenger appearing alongside MVP. Lashley has staked his claim.
Everyone has asked about what happens with Lana and it seems they are teasing aligning her with Nia Jax. Do it. Two of the most hated talents in the company, together? That’s perfect. A solid Raw this week despite what the ratings will tell you. These are strange times, but this was a solid show again this week.
In the go home show for Double or Nothing, Dynamite provided a show full of scary spots. MJF gets a tune up match with Marko Stunt. Kris Statlander and Hikura Shida team up to face Nyla Rose and Dr Britt Baker. Orange Cassidy takes on Rey Fenix! Matt Hardy main events with Sammy Guevara! The final member for the Casino Ladder match are revealed! Let’s get started, because this is DYNAMITE!
Moxley sends a message. Marko won’t go down without a fight. Legends confront for the first time.
Jon Moxley vs 10. Moxley wins via Death Rider Driver pin fall.
The Exalted One arrives with the Dark Order and Jon’s title. Mr Brodie Lee gives a pep talk to his new favorite, 10. Formally Preston Vance, even received a promotion in the Dark Order, now a “High Knight. That all means nothing to Jon Moxley as he pretty much destroyed 10. With Lee stealing Jon’s title, Moxley is now unleashing every brutal attacks he can come up with. While 10 did get a few moves in like a Cutter and Spinebuster, Moxley just ate it and struck back. Hitting a Gotch style piledriver and then a Death Rider Driver (a high elevated Paradigm Shift) for the win.
However, Moxley was not done yet. Jon goes out for a couple of steel chairs and puts 10’s arm between a chair, Brian Pillman style and calls out Brodie. The Exalted One states that Moxley has now made the fight personal and that we have to make sacrifices. Lee then exits the arena with The Dark Order, leaving 10 to be that sacrifice. We all know what Jon will do next, Moxley shrugs his shoulder and destroys 10’s arm. The set up was good, but I am having trouble on believing these two hate each other. This must have been a quick book due to the pandemic flipping the world upside down. With that being said, I am looking forward to these two cut loose in the ring. Even if it will most likely hurt the loser’s stock.
MJF vs Marko Stunt. MJF wins via Salt of the Earth submission.
Jeez, poor Marko Stunt can not catch a break! Well, unless you count his bones. This time Stunt faces off against MJF, at least it isn’t a wrestler that is close to seven feet tall. However, what MJF lacks in height, he makes up with shear villainy. Throughout the match MJF slung and battered Stunt and Marko sold every moment of it. However, Marko won’t give up as usual and finally gets moves in. A beautiful top turnbuckle flipping Hurricanrana was landed by Stunt. Followed up by side stepping MJF, making him ram the steel steps. MJF had enough and locked in the Salt of the Earth armbar for the win.
Afterwards, MJF promises reward for Stunt for lasting this long in the match. The reward was a kiss… from MJF’s Dynamite Diamond ring, Jurassic Express runs in for the save and heels retreat. Wardlow slips on the steps while talking trash, this was the start of potentially scary moments that could or did lead to injuries.
First time ever, Arn Anderson and Jake the Snake Roberts engage in the ring.
Well, this looked good on paper. The execution? Left to be more desirable. Jake starts off and honestly goes on a tangent that made about himself and not the man he is representing. Kudos to Arn, as he kept the segment from totally derailing. Even with Jake constantly interrupting Arn, The Enforcer had enough poise to keep it on track. Arn then gives a cheeky line, asking if everyone knows that Jake does DDP Yoga. Anderson states that Jake is going to be limber, as he is going to plant him with a Spinebuster. Jake flips the table and the refs come in before they rumble. The line made not sound good reading it, but Arn’s delivery made it great and it shows the man still has it.
The carnage begins. Tag match leaves one injured. The Main even and a big return!
Rey Fenix vs Orange Cassidy. Fenix wins via Rolling Cutter pin fall.
Oh, boy.. this was something. Let’s start with the match, as it was damn great. Cassidy comes out with his usual slacker ways and Rey tries to take his head off again! This time Freshly Squeezed was… um, ready? Cassidy lazily side steps Rey and Fenix goes flying like a Looney Tunes cartoon. Fenix goes after Cassidy, but it was like fighting smoke as Orange either dodges likes a sloth or counters the move. Fenix had enough and finally catches Cassidy with a double stomp on his head.
This is where the meat and potatoes of the match begins as both men pull off some great spots. For ones that haven’t seen Cassidy in the indys, this match finally shows more of his move set. The duo really go at it, with Tope Suicida’s, Swinging DDT’s, a diving DDT from Cassidy and from the top rope! This was the best match of the night. Kip Sabian then arrives with a ladder to “scout” his opponents. This distracts Cassidy and the ref and allows for Fenix to hit a low blow. Afterwards, Rey follows the strike with a Rolling Cutter for the win and this is were it gets scary.
Did this have to happen?
Basically a go home show is going to have a big brawl in it to promote a match. This was no different from almost any promotions out there. However, this became a high flying spot that looked dangerous. SCU come out and toss Kip of the ladder, and the brawl ensues. With a group outside, Fenix goes for a beautiful springboard maneuver that has big air. Yet, it was the landing that caught anyone who was watching, their attention. Rey legs lands on the guys, but his back, elbow, and head landed hard on the mat. Then Colt Cabana does a flip on the guys, with a hurt Rey laying there and catches Scorpio Sky hard with his foot. Quickly after that, Best Friends launch Cassidy onto them with his own flip.
Look, we all love the high spots and accidents happen. However, this looked like a desperate plan to get people to buy the Double or Nothing PPV. It makes no sense to have so many potential injuries before a big PPV. Alas, here we are, AEW fling bodies in the air like it was some extreme indy show at an Armory. This could’ve been avoided
Nyla Rose/Dr Britt Baker vs Kris Statlander/Hikaru Shida. Rose wins via Beastbomb pin fall.
Another match where some got hurt and maybe could’ve been avoided. Nyla and Kris start the match after a small brawl beforehand. Rose looks to tag in Baker, but the Dr shows her reluctance to get in. After Rose grabs Britt by the neck and threatens her, Baker tags in. Statlander and the Dr go at it and Britt ends up in the corner. Shida and Kris then team up on Rose, getting her in a Double Death Valley Driver move. Hikaru and Statlander then drop Rose onto Baker in the corner and you can she Britt’s pain. Whoever thought it was a good idea to drop Nyla on on the much smaller Baker, thought wrong.
It took some time for the wrestlers to realize that Britt was hurt and the three had to call the match on the fly. That may have explained the ending as it seemed improvised. Shida and Rose go at it and Rose hits a Beastbomb on her for the win. Not a good look for a contender to lose cleanly right before the PPV match, but there it is. Afterwards Rose grabs a table and goes to Powerbomb Shida through it, Kris makes the save. Allowing for ANOTHER scary spot! Shida gets Rose in position for the Frankenstiener and put Rose through the table with it, but narrowly misses her head on the table. Seriously, that could’ve another wrestler injured.. the night is not looking good.
Matt Hardy vs Sammy Guevara. Hardy wins via Twist of Fate pin fall.
This match was a major contender for match of the night. The only reason Fenix vs Cassidy was, because we saw more of Cassidy in that match. For me, this may have been Hardy’s best singles match in a long time. That speaks volume for Sammy as he sold the Twist of Fate, like The Rock sells a Stunner. The two trade strikes, counters, and Hardy goes Twist of Fate crazy! Damascus showed up as well, when Hardy ripped off Sammy’s boot and chewed on his foot. I guess that is a Damascus thing. After two Twist of Fates, Guevara goes for a Shooting Star Press, but Hardy gets the knees up. Hitting a third Twist of Fate, Matt finally puts away Sammy. But wait.. there’s more!
On the big screen, The Inner Circle have Kenny Omega held against the Jacksonville Jaguars field goal post. They beat him down with Floyd, the bat. Matt Hardy races to the adjacent stadium, but it will take time. Who can save the Cleaner? Well, The Young Bucks of course! Matt and Nick are poised on railings at field side, and the Inner Circle run towards them. The brothers dive off the rails and a all out brawl ensues. Inner Circle have the numbers game and are taking it to the Elite.
Just win all hope seems lost, there is a blip on the TV screen. The blip gets larger and larger, until you realize it’s ADAM HANGMAN PAGE!! Page literally ran 50yrd in about 5 seconds and hit a lariat on Hager. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jaguars take a look at that tape. Jokes aside, the brawl ended with The Elite standing tall in the endzone and the show goes off air. Later on it was reported that Matt Jackson may have suffered a rib injury jumping off the rails. The injury count is up to three… for ONE SHOW.
If you couldn’t tell, this afterthoughts is going to be about the injuries that happened in this show. Like I said before, accidents happen. But somebody should have thought about protecting their workers not only before a big PPV, but in general. These tough as nails workers will go on with the show, even if it is not the best decisions. We have seen many times before and the trend is seemingly not stopping. After a quick check as of time of writing the recap, Fenix seems to be cleared for Double or Nothing. Dr Britt Baker on the other hand, may be worse. It is rumored that she may have an ACL injury, but they are waiting on a MRI. Baker’s injury could not only affect her wrestling job, but her other profession as a dentist. Matt Jackson seems to be ok to go for the PPV, but I bet it’s going to affect him.
It’s understandable to have an exciting show before one of your big PPVs. Yet looking at the spots, some, if not all could’ve been avoided. Would fans complain that it fell short and was predictable? Yes, but the wrestlers how are real people, could’ve have been saved from injuries. The world of pro wrestling is far from a perfect world, but a balance of risk and reward should be the goal.-David G.
This week on NXT, the card for TakeOver: In Your House begins to take shape, the Finals for the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament are (almost) set, Dexter Lumis continues to get in the heads of Undisputed Era, and The Queen makes her presence known in the main event. Let’s get right to it!
Killer, Meet Psychopath. Group B Finalist Is Set. “Yim-itless”.
Karrion Kross vs. Liam Gray. Kross wins with the Kross Jacket
Exploder. Northern Lights Suplex. Doomsday Saito. Kross Jacket. Done. That’s literally the entire match, which is expected for a dominant new superstar like Kross. What wasn’t expected was the appearance of Tommaso Ciampa, who Kross took out a number of weeks ago.
Ciampa says that part of him respects Kross. He says there’s something special about him, from his aura and his presence, to his entrance. Ciampa gets in the ring and says he is also special, and on June 7th at TakeOver, it’ll be Ciampa vs. Kross, and THAT is special. “Welcome to the Main Event,” Ciampa says with a mic drop. I am so ready for this!
Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match – El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Akira Tozawa. Fantasma wins with the Phantom Driver.
Three matches into his NXT career, and Fantasma has improved leaps and bounds in each one. Fantasma and Tozawa put on a clinic, to the point that calling the winner was almost impossible. Everything about the match was smooth, clean, and precise, with the one exception being the near botch at the end, where Fantasma nearly drops Tozawa on his head while catching him in the Fireman’s Carry.
Tozawa tries to fight out of the hold, locking in the Octopus Stretch to bring Fantasma to his knees. However, the masked luchador recovers and hits the Phantom Driver to pick up the win. As a result, Fantasma and Tozawa are tied at 2-1 in Group B. But with the head-to-head victory, Fantasma takes the tiebreaker and will represent the group in the tournament finals.
Later in the show, Tozawa and Fantasma are talking in the parking lot, showing respect to each other for the great match. The mystery masked men from the past few weeks attack Tozawa, but take off before Fantasma is able to get his hands on them. This is what’s interesting about this story. Every time these masked men try to attack Fantasma, they don’t put up much of a fight. Makes me wonder whether he’s the one behind the attacks…
Mia Yim vs. Santana Garrett. Yim wins with the Protect Ya Neck
Not much to this match, other than Garrett being on the losing side once again. Doesn’t seem like she’ll ever get a break in NXT, which is unfortunate. Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae come out to trash talk Mia, as Candice did last week at dinner. Candice says that Mia dropped the ball against Charlotte Flair, whereas she (Candice) would’ve thrived in that spot. Johnny wants to show what happens when someone gets something they don’t deserve.
Mia knocks Johnny off the apron, but Candice sneaks in and attacks Mia from behind. Keith Lee comes out to make the save and helps Mia chase off Gargano and LeRae. After being name dropped last week, now the rivalries start to take form. My guess is that, with TakeOver being two weeks out, we get a mixed tag on NXT TV, and then at TakeOver, we get the singles matches, with Lee putting the North American Championship on the line against Gargano.
Odd Couple. Redemption In The Making. The Queen Makes An Impact.
Roderick Strong vs. Dexter Lumis. Strong wins with a roll-up pin.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: How great is Dexter Lumis? Everything about the character is perfect: his presence, his demeanor, his aura, all of it is so spot on. Roderick Strong learns that the hard way, as he quickly gets frustrated with the way Lumis behaves during the match. The piercing stare causes Roddy to lash out on multiple occasions, including a spot where Strong has Lumis in a seated Abdominal Stretch, and Lumis turns his head and stares straight into Strong’s eyes.
At first glance, I didn’t like the idea of Lumis taking a loss this early in the character’s career. But the events that unfold after the match change my mind, and make me think that the loss doesn’t hurt him in the slightest. After Strong steals the win, he rolls out of the ring and celebrates. Unfortunately, he’s still within the reach of Lumis, who slithers to the edge of the ring and locks in the Kata Gatame to take Strong down.
Adam Cole and Bobby Fish run out to try and save Strong from the death grasp of Lumis, but can’t get him to release the hold. As Cole lines up for the Last Shot, Velveteen Dream jumps him from behind and takes him over the barricade. In an obviously heavily edited spot, Dream climbs to the top rope and dropos the Purple Rainmake on Cole, who is on the other side of the barricade. Dream gets back to the top and strikes his pose while Lumis continues to caress the lifeless body of Strong.
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Ever-Rise. Lorcan & Burch win with simultaneous submissions.
Not much to say here. Burch and Lorcan dominate the young tag team, beating them down before tapping both out, Lorcan with the single leg Boston Crab, and Lurch with the Crossface. After the match, Burch and Lorcan mockingly strike the Imperium pose, sending a message to the NXT Tag Team Champions.
Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Match – Kushida vs. Drake Maverick. Maverick wins with a roll-up counter pin.
The story with Drake Maverick’s road to redemption continues, with Maverick facing off the “odds on favorite” Kushida. Maverick’s heart and resilience are on full display here, as he’s clearly outmatched by Kushida, but just won’t give up. On multiple occasions, Maverick has to tell the referee to not stop the match, even though Kushida is close to ripping his arm off with the Hoverboard Lock and arm breaker submissions.
Towards the end of the match, Maverick is clearly in immense pain, but continues to fight, and knocks Kushida into a seated postion atop the corner turnbuckle. As Drake attempts a top rope bulldog, Kushida transitions into an armbreaker in midair, in a spot that almost looked disastrous. That’s not something I’d like to see him try again, because one wrong turn and someone’s getting badly hurt. Alas, Maverick refuses to tap, and rolls his body weight over onto Kushida, pinning his shoulders to the mat to score the upset.
After the match, Byron Saxton announces that, due to the three way tie between Maverick, Kushida, and Jake Atlas, next week we will have a triple threat match to determine the winner of Group A and the opponent for El Hijo Del Fantasma in the finals of the tournament.
With the amount of publicity that Maverick is getting because of his “story”, I can’t see any way that Drake doesn’t at least get to the finals of the tournament. However, the presence of Jake Atlas, who is showing to be a staunch supporter of Maverick, throws a wrench into that possible scenario. Perhaps Atlas wants Maverick in the triple threat because he knows he can beat him? Who knows? This story is far from over…
Next week on NXT, we’ll get the Group A Triple Threat, plus Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher battle in a Cage Fight, where the only way to win is by knockout or tapout. Also, officially booked for TakeOver: Damian Priest vs. Finn Balor and Karrion Kross vs. Tommaso Ciampa.
Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley. Shirai wins via DQ
The story here is that both women want their revenge against Charlotte Flair. Rhea lost her title to Flair at Wrestlemania, and Io is angry at how Charlotte conned her way out of their match a few weeks back. Rhea came out to attack Charlotte after the match against Io, but Shirai didn’t want any help, which led to them fighting backstage, and now we’re here.
Talking about ring presence, Rhea Ripley has just that. You can liken her in-ring demeanor to someone like late 90’s Undertaker, where she commands the ring, intimidates her opponents and referee, and captivates the viewer. She’s got it all, and it’s that reason that she’s in the position she’s in now. Not to say that Io Shirai is no slouch; Shirai has a renewed focus since returning from injury, and has been impressive. This match is no different, as Ripley and Shirai proceed to beat the daylights out of each other.
Of course, the target of both women’s ire makes her presence, as Charlotte comes to ringside. Shirai hits a head-scissors takedown on Ripley, sending Rhea into Charlotte. Back in the ring, Shirai has the upper hand on Ripley, taking her down with a spike DDT for a near fall. The advantage is short lived, as Charlotte gets in the ring and takes out Io with a big boot to cause the disqualification. Afterwards, Flair spears Ripley, leaving both challengers on the mat as Flair poses with her NXT Women’s Championship to close the show.
This was a decent show this week, with a lot of developing stories that can go several different ways. The in-ring work was above average, and most of the promos were done very well. With two weeks until TakeOver, it’ll be interesting to see how things play out to fill out the rest of the card.
Friday Night SmackDown:
This showing of SmackDown had the semi-finals for the Intercontinental title set! A beloved feud gives way to the heels. John Morrison may have bitten off more than him and the Miz can chew. Can the Role Model defeat the Queen? The Charismatic Enigma returns! Will AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura relive their Wrestle Kingdom match? Let’s dive in and find out to all the questions, this is SmackDown!
The start leads to a a PPV match. The 1st semi-final match confirmed! The Queen not so invincible?
Opening and Braun Strowman vs The Miz. Strowman wins via Running Powerslam pin fall.
The Dirt Sheets open the show, Morrison and Miz insult the Monster Braun Strowman. Braun then makes his way to the duo & admits that they are kind of funny. The Monster wants to talk about the puppets of Bray Wyatt, but is interrupted. Morrison then taunts the Monster and inadvertently gives his pal, the Miz a match with Braun.
The match was really quick, as Strowman dominated Miz. Poor A-Lister, as he was tossed around like a unwanted catfish. Although Miz got in a few moves and Morrison tried to interfere, it was all Strowman. The Monster ended the match with a Running Powerslam for the win. Afterwards, Morrison challenges Braun to a two-on-one match for the title and Braun accepts. This was a fun start and I see the build for Strowman. However, we all know that he is holding the title until the pandemic allows fans back. Hopefully his reign will be fun.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura. AJ wins vis Phenomenal Forearm pin fall.
Wanted a classic New Japan match? Sorry, this is the WWE. However, for a non PPV, free on TV match, this was pretty good. The winner will face Elias, after his win last week. The two men went straight to work and attemot to replicate their NJPW days. Like I said this was probably the best “free” match between the two in WWE. NOt much to out there and the in ring story was solid. The closing minutes had Nak charging up for a Kinshasa, but AJ ducks the strong style move and eventually hits the Phenomenal Forearm. Allowing Styles to advance to the semi-finals. Great match, but could’ve been better. I say this because the duo has had some the best matches in ALL of pro wrestling history.
Bayley vs Charlotte Flair. Bayley wins via roll up pinfall.
Probably the match of the night. Not a big statement, nor a little one. We get a nostalgic viewing of the way NXT built these two ladies. This was no quick 10 minute match, oh no.. this lasted most of SmackDown and we all enjoyed it. Bayley tells Banks that she has to fight Flair on her own and Sasha is a bit taken aback from it. Yet, the Role Model faces off against the Queen one on one. Flair is in control in at the start of the fight, with big family chops.
The beginning of the match was dominated by Charlotte, yet Bayley will always find a way to fight back. With every counter, Flair seemed to have Bayley’s number. The ego of Charlotte lead to her calling out Sasha Banks to the ring. However, the Boss does not give in and Bayley fights her own fight. The two ladies really duke it out, all leading to Bayley pinning Flair without Banks help. Adding a new wrinkle into the complicated relationship of the two. Great match as always between the duo. However, this could’ve been a PPV match, not a free on TV match. Hopefully we will get that.
Everyone’s favorite couple vs everyone’s most hated couple. Jeff Hardy returns!
Sonya Deville/Dolph Ziggler vs Mady Rose/Otis. Deville wins via Knee Strike pin fall on Rose.
Wanting a classic Tour De France wrestling match? Well , this was more of the guilty pleasure of the Masked Singer. Newly outfitted Mandy takes the stage with he lovable man, Otis. Sonya and Rose start off the match and the two go at it with heated results. Next up is Otis and Dolph, with lesser heat. this was a quick match with the story of Dolph and Sonya bonding. While Sonya and Mandy brawl it out, a fight between Otis and Ziggler happen outside the ring. After blocking a Double Underhook, Sonya hits a vicious knee strike to Rose and gets the win. All the while Dolph holding back Otis. The big goes to check on his girlfriend, Mandy and is rewarded with a SuperKick by Dolph. THe match was really good, showcasing Sonya and Mandy’s skill sets. I am actually enjoying this prolonged feud.
Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus. Jeff wins via roll up pin fall.
If you enjoy one of your beloved characters getting beaten to a pulp, this is the match for you. Sheamus totally dominated the older charismatic enigma and even planted Jeff in the announcer’s table. It took a commercial break and the last two minutes for Jeff to fight back. I get it, WWE wants and needs an underdog story for SmackDown. However, this was a “cut and paste” match. Sheamus the tyrant lays waste to the fan favorite. Then the crowd goes wild and strengthens the hero, just kidding there is no crowd.
Yet, this is a point to realize that somethings works better with a crowd, no matter what it the size is. *cough-cough AEW*. Jeff fights back, but the Celtic Warrior is too powerful. The White Lighting’s ego is what becomes his undoing. As Jeff counters a Brogue Kick and rolls up Sheamus for the win. Advancing to the semi-finals for the Intercontinental title. We all saw this happening, but it was a good match to have Sheamus look like a beast.
SmackDoown was actually really good. The Bayley vs Flair match was fantastic, as well as AJ vs Shin. The Strowman announcement was a tad dry, so was the Otis/Mandy vs Sonya/Dolph match The two true winners were Sheamus and Jeff Hardy. Even though Sheamus lost, he looked fantastic in the match. Jeff proved that he can sell, and make an in-ring story work. This is a nice beginning to Backlash, hopefully In your House gives ideas for Backlash.-David G.
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