This Week In The WWE: 1/17-1/23

The WWE is welcoming back fans. And no, they won’t have to go through the WWE ThunderDome to join the fun.

Yes, it will be over a year in the making due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but at this year’s WrestleMania 37 in Tampa, fans will be allowed in to Raymond James Stadium for the special two-night event. There’s been no announcement on how many fans will be allowed to watch it live in person, but I’d expect it to be about 22,000 fans which is the capacity for the Super Bowl in February at Raymond James Stadium. Expect the WWE to wait to see how well the Super Bowl goes for more clarification on guidelines. It will also give them more time to see just where the coronavirus stands with testing and vaccinations. In addition to that announcement, the WWE also let the World know that WrestleMania 38 will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and WrestleMania 39 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. So, if you’re looking for that Roman Reigns vs. The Rock match, Hollywood would make the most sense. 


Star of the Week:

Alexa Bliss – Little Miss Bliss is turning into Monday Night’s version of Friday Night SmackDown’s Roman Reigns. She simply is must see TV. Whether it’s the bubbly, pink, playful soul or the dark, black, fiendish villain, Bliss is hitting on all cylinders. Last week, she’s throwing a fireball at Randy Orton. This week, she’s beating RAW Women’s Champion Asuka with a duplicitous, calculated two-role tandem from the darkside, using The Fiend’s moves to beat the Empress of Tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next.


RAW

RESULTS

  • Charlotte Flair defeated Peyton Royce
  • MACE defeated Xavier Woods
  • Shayna Baszler defeated Mandy Rose
  • AJ Styles defeated Ricochet
  • The Hurt Business defeated The Lucha House Party & Matt Riddle
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Jaxson Ryker by DQ
  • Non-Title RAW Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss defeated Asuka

Let’s start with the good. The really good. Randy Orton absolutely killed it in his opening promo. One week after having his face burned by a fireball thrown by Alexa Bliss, Orton appeared donning a mask to cover what he called his grotesque face. Yet, instead of running, he vowed to win the Royal Rumble! Amazing!

Then, to end the night, Alexa Bliss played both ends of the good and bad spectrum, channeling the evilness of The Fiend to confuse Asuka and pin the RAW Women’s Champion. Not only does it keep the mystery and the wonderfulness that is Bliss, but it also set Little Miss Bliss up as a contender to win the Women’s Royal Rumble and take Asuka’s title. A tremendous bookending of the show IMHO! I know some will hate it for its progression and for making Asuka, who says no one is ready for her, but I think it works since Bliss is so off the charts that it should shake Asuka into confusion.

AJ Styles and Ricochet turned in the match of the night, no surprise, with Styles getting the win with the Styles Clash. I’d love to see these two go at it again with more time though. 15 minutes just wasn’t enough.

Otherwise, RAW gave us more Charlotte Flair vs. her father with Lacey Evans firmly in the middle as both Ric Flair and Evans tried to interfere in the Queen’s match with Peyton Royce, much to no avail.

In what seems like every tag team in the WWE, there’s more dissension in The Hurt Business. There’s more confusion with Elias and Jaxson Ryker. And there’s more non-sense with Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. I see no reason to break up The Hurt Business, but as we’ve said before, the beatdown of Cedric Alexander Four Horsemen style is coming. As for the other two teams, there’s faint interest in the storyline.

So, I guess Xavier Woods is now taking Ricochet’s place for RETRIBUTION’s folly? Seems odd and I guess they’re just giving Woods something to do with Kofi Kingston’s jaw injury.

Gillberg returned along with a knock-off Drew McIntyre. Yes, another edition of MizTV left not talked about.

Overall, a decent show that seemed more filler after a red-hot start and an awesome finish.


NXT

RESULTS

  • Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team First Round: KUSHIDA & Leon Ruff defeated Johnny Gargano & Austin Theory
  • Karrion Kross defeated Ashante “Thee” Adonis 
  • Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team First Round: Lucha House Party defeated Imperium
  • Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic First Round: Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter defeated Toni Storm & Mercedes Martinez
  • Bronson Reed defeated Tyler Rust
  • Fight Pit: Timothy Thatcher defeated Tommaso Ciampa

Tournament time turns into upset Wednesday! We get three Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic matches and in all three, we get a surprising victor. KUSHIDA gets the pinfall over NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano, his second victory over The Way, something I didn’t see coming but did like. It’s only a matter of time before those two face off for the title. But for now, KUSHIDA and Leon Ruff are moving on. The Lucha House Party take out Imperium as well in a battle of styles that came off better than expected. Finally, after vowing to win the tournament, Kacy Catanzaro pulled off a remarkable 450 off the top rope to move Catanzaro & Kayden Carter to round two after dismissing the favored Toni Storm & Mercedes Martinez. Now, we can’t discount NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai taking out Martinez during the match, leaving Storm all alone to face the wrath of Kacy. It’s a good story and I’m guessing we see Catanzaro and Carter in the Royal Rumble Match as well to further things along.

Karrion Kross crushed Ashante “Thee” Adonis in strong fashion. When will the take-out of Finn Balor occur?

Good background piece on MSK. I really hope they get to show their stuff in this tournament.

Bronson Reed squashing Tyler Rust was what it was.

Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly partners? Oh yes! Next week, they get the tag team champs!

Who would’ve thought – Timothy Thatcher is the King of the Fight Pit! He’s now 2-0 after making Tommaso Ciampa submit in the corner of the cage. I really thought it would be Ciampa teaching the lesson in this one, but after a very physical and methodical main event, Thatcher goes home with the win. You have to wonder what’s next for Ciampa. He’s called out the NXT locker room and has failed to prove his point. Maybe a call-up for the Rumble is in order? Or, maybe these two win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic after their first round win on 205 Live Friday night.


SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

  • Non-Title Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Charlotte Flair & Asuka defeated The Riott Squad
  • Cesaro defeated Dolph Ziggler
  • Sasha Banks defeated Reginald
  • Intercontinental Championship Match: Apollo Crews defeated Big E by DQ
  • King Corbin defeated Dominik Mysterio
  • Paul Heyman/Roman Reigns vs. Adam Pearce went to a no-contest

Strange thy name is SmackDown! To say that this week’s show was a bit sublime would be an understatement. How else could you explain Sasha Banks vs. Reginald? Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro. An obstacle course challenge. Sami Zayn protesting. And of course, Adam Pearce vs. Paul Heyman

Off the top, I love that they’re giving Cesaro a nice run here heading into the Rumble. Back-to-back wins over former World Champions Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler are making him into a legitimate contender to win next Sunday. After months of floating, Cesaro has purpose!

If you wanted some high flying action, Sasha Banks and Reginald gave it to you. Damn, Reggie has some moves! But, in the end, it’s Boss Time with the Banks Statement as we head towards Banks against Carmella for the SmackDown Championship at the Royal Rumble.

The Sami Zayn protest was a bit underwhelming for the first hour as they never really gave him time to talk on camera. At least the signs were funny. But then, of course, Zayn ends the protest to interfere in the Intercontinental Championship Match between Big E and Apollo Crews. I’ll be honest, after seeing Crews with Roman Reigns last week, getting a DQ win thanks to Zayn was a real disappointment.

Kevin Owens, supposedly off-site, adding to the drama for his Last Man Standing Match with Roman Reigns with some family business of his own was a nice touch.

As hokey as the Obstacle Course Challenge between Bayley and Bianca Belair was, and yes, it was very hokey, it worked for me. Of course Bayley tried to stack the odds against Bianca only to see her overcome them quite easily before getting beatdown for her victory. What didn’t make any sense was Chad Gable and Otis being out there to help Bayley. Aren’t they positive good guys? Strange.

In the “main event,” you just knew the “card subject to change” was going to come back and bite Adam Pearce in the butt. No, it wasn’t Paul Heyman taking on Pearce, it was Reigns taking his place after Heyman couldn’t go once “tripped” on the ring steps. Yes, it was a true massacre as Michael Cole called it until Owens returned to the ThunderDome. One stunner and a powerbomb through a table later and KO left the Universal Champion laying flat on his back to end the night. One week until the Rumble and the fight is on between these two.

Othewise, let’s hope Charlotte Flair and Asuka have put an end to Billie Kay in the Riott Squad.

King Corbin gets a solid victory over Dominik Mysterio. YAWN.


Royal Rumble PPV – Updated Card

  • WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg
  • Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
  • Royal Rumble Men’s Match
  • Royal Rumble Women’s Match
  • SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella

Parting Shots:

Welcome back WWE Backstage! The night before the Royal Rumble, FOX is bringing back Renee Young (Paquette), Booker T and Paige on FS1 at 8pm to preview the first PPV of the year. It’ll be Young’s first appearance since she left the WWE last month as her FOX contract continues on.


Coming up this week:

RAW:
Drew McIntyre confronts Goldberg

NXT:
NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match: Santos Escobar vs. Curt Stallion
Non-Title NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Finn Balor & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Second Round: Killian Dain & Drake Maverick vs. MSK
Men’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Second Round: Grizzled Young Veterans vs. KUSHIDA & Leon Ruff

SMACKDOWN:
Final Show before Royal Rumble


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