This Week In The WWE: 3/21-3/27

The Road to WrestleMania is in full force my friends. We’ve got 2 weeks left to an epic week of wrestling as the WWE welcomes fans back for the first time in over a year at Raymond James Stadium. It’s been a year filled with the pandemic and now it’s time for the fans to return.

But, first things first. FastLane gave us a compelling story where Edge snaps and solidifies his main event match for the Universal Championship with Roman Reigns. In doing so, Edge robbed Daniel Bryan of completing his prediction of tapping out Reigns and winning the title. Heading into Friday night SmackDown, I didn’t think it would stay a one-on-one match though as I think with Edge’s attack, Bryan has earned his way into a triple-threat dance to end the two-night event. We’ll get to how that unfolded in our show recaps. I’m all for it as Bryan is truly gold in the ring these days. Edge and Reigns bring the marquee but Bryan could steal the show and will be a great compliment.

Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair can now hone their targets on each other instead of the tag team championship. That’s a good thing. It was merely a sidetrack the whole time. We’re getting ready for an all-time classic my friends. I hope it lives up to the hype.

On the RAW side, Bobby Lashley looks dominant and The Fiend is back! Things are looking up as they always do at the end of March.


WrestleMania 37 – Updated card:

Night 1:

  • WWE Championship Match: Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre
  • Bad Bunny vs. The Miz
  • SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair
  • Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
  • Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon
  • RAW Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day vs. AJ Styles & Omos

Night 2:

  • The Fiend vs. Randy Orton
  • Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
  • Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Apollo Crews
  • RAW Women’s Championship Match: Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley
  • SmackDown Championship Triple-Threat Match: Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan

RAW

RESULTS

  • WWE Championship Non-Title Match: Bobby Lashley defeated Sheamus
  • RAW Women’s Championship Non-Title Match: Asuka defeated Peyton Royce
  • The Miz defeated Jeff Hardy
  • Kofi Kingston defeated AJ Styles
  • 2-on-1 Handicap Match: Drew McIntyre defeated Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin to keep The Hurt Business barred from ringside at WrestleMania
  • WWE Tag Team Championship Non-Title Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler defeated Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
  • Braun Strowman defeated Elias
  • Alexa Bliss defeated Randy Orton

OK, first things first. Holy hell, The Fiend is back and he’s hideous! We all knew he was coming, but still it paid off. The Fiend looks like a guy who was left to burn and now the demonic soul is back to help Alexa Bliss beat Randy Orton. Now, can he get the job done at WrestleMania?

Speaking of the grandest stage of them all, RAW got to work right away setting up their side of the card. WWE Champion Bobby Lashley has Drew McIntyre firmly in sights for night one of the two-night event. Lashley took care of McIntyre’s buddy Sheamus for the second straight week before McIntyre send Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin to banishment for WrestleMania. The champ is none too happy with his teammates after first trying to interfere in his match with Sheamus and then failing to take out his latest rival.

Surprisingly, Bad Bunny is going to go one-on-one with The Miz at WrestleMania. We all thought it would be a tag match with Damian Priest and John Morrison being involved. Who knows, maybe it will get to that but first, it’s an insufferable music video coming on MizTV this week with the debut of Hey Hey Hip Hop.

Kofi Kingston and AJ Styles put on a good match with Kofi getting round one. I loved the back-and-forth with The New Day trying to poke fun at Styles and Omos’ relationship too. Maybe we’ll get a turn and see Omos dancing with Kofi and Xavier Woods someday?

With Charlotte Flair out with COVID-19, a fact the WWE shockingly admitted on live tv (and I like that they did), Rhea Ripley steps up and challenges Asuka for the RAW Women’s Title. If Flair’s cleared, maybe she gets involved in this one too for a triple threat. At least Peyton Royce got her match with Asuka though after a solid promo on RAW Talk.

I think the WWE is dropping the ball by not continuing the build of Shayna Baszler and her frustration with Nia Jax. I thought by now, the boom would’ve been lowered and the champs at each other’s throats. Instead, they played nice this week and get an easy win over Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose.

Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon are still on a collision course at WrestleMania, sadly. I still find it hard to believe that a company that’s built a strong anti-bullying message is having someone related to the owner of the company continually come out and call someone st*p*d. And yes, I truly despise that word.


NXT

RESULTS

  • Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez defeated Io Shirai & Zoey Stark
  • Bronson Reed defeated LA Knight
  • Karrion Kross defeated Oney Lorcan
  • NXT UK Championship Non-Title Match: WALTER defeated Drake Maverick
  • NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart defeated Mercedes Martinez & Aliyah
  • Jordan Devlin defeated KUSHIDA

William Regal is one busy dude these days in NXT! Between announcing matches, new champions and settling disputes between the now defunct The Undisputed Era, Regal is making HUGE moves although it doesn’t look like Johnny Gargano is none too pleased about 12 guys having a shot at his NXT North American Championship. That fun begins with the Gauntlet Eliminator Battle Royale Wednesday night with the final six going head-to-head at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. This week’s NXT was all about building to the two-night event and damn, did they do that in spades.

Ouch! Io Shirai slammed on to the announce table by Raquel Gonzalez and part of a losing team all in one night. That’s one way to put some intrigue into Shirai and Gonzalez for their NXT TakeOver: Stand &  Deliver night one main event match for the NXT Women’s Championship. That was a nice bit of business to start the night as all four women, along with Dakota Kai and Zoey Stark put on a good show. 

I did not see Bronson Reed beating LA Knight coming. But, I don’t hate it. It keeps Reed strong and Knight, who reminds me more and more of The Rock each week on the mic, will rebound quickly. Expect a big win coming at Stand and Deliver.

Leave it to Karrion Kross to destroy the NXT Tag Team Champs. Last week, he took out Danny Burch with a shoulder injury leaving the champs to vacate the titles this week. Wednesday night, Kross took care of business over Oney Lorcan as well. Up next: Balor’s on the clock. Tick. Tock. Kross on the mic for an extended time for the first time in awhile was very good and you can just feel things getting personal with Balor.

WALTER vs. Drake Maverick. Short work (pun intended). Things won’t be as easy when he takes on Tommaso Ciampa for that NXT UK Title. It took a beatdown from Imperium but Ciampa finally gets his match.

That was a strong first title defense for Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart. Even with Mercedes Martinez subbing for Jessi Kamea, the tag team champions got their defense on to a successful start. Standing in the weeks, a rematch with Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell.

KUSHIDA and Jordan Devlin sure put a ton into just under than 10 minutes. Imagine what they could do with 30-60 minutes! Devlin gets the expected win with a pretty cool finish, rolling up KUSHIDA after KUSHIDA helped Devlin fight out Legado del Fantasma’s attack. Not to be outdone, KUSHIDA then takes out Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde outside the ring leaving Escobar and Devlin to square-off in the ring before a surprise appearance by Shawn Michaels, who was there to add a ladder match stipulation to their match at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.

Speaking of HBK, nice glance walking by old friend Adam Cole.

As for Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, we’re headed for a non-sanctioned match on night 2 of NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. If their contract signing is any indication of how intense that match will be, we’re headed into a heck of a battle for WrestleMania week. I’m sure that Cole’s not too unhappy about knocking Regal down either after the show went off the air.

Well done Mr. Regal!


NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver updated card:

Night 1:

  • NXT Women’s Championship Match: Io Shirai vs. Raquel Gonzalez
  • NXT Tag Team Championship Match: MSK vs. The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado del Fantasma
  • NXT North American Championship #1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match: Final Six Competitors from the Battle Royal

Night 2:

  • NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor vs. Karrion Kross
  • Unsanctioned Match: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly
  • NXT North American Championship Ladder Match: Johnny Gargano vs. TBA

Not assigned yet:

  • NXT Cruiserweight Championship Unification Match: Jordan Devlin vs. Santos Escobar
  • NXT UK Championship Match: WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa

SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

  • Seth Rollins defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Apollo Crews, Otis & Chad Gable defeated Big E & The Street Profits
  • Bianca Belair defeated Natalya
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Dolph Ziggler

Can you blame Daniel Bryan? He just wants what he has earned. Bryan won the Elimination Chamber, beat Jey Uso in a steel cage, tapped out the Universal Champion and got brutally attacked by Edge with a chair and still has nothing to show for it. I thought his two-night idea for the Universal Championship was brilliant. In the end, Adam Pearce’s announcement of the Universal Championship being defended in a triple-threat match at WrestleMania was a big anti-climactic, but we all will win with come Sunday night, April 11th.  Plus, who would’ve thought it would be Edge that would’ve snapped and be booed going into this match? It’s shades of the old Rated-R Superstar and his evil ways coming out in full force.

Needless to say, we’ve been asking for a huge Cesaro push and now we’ve now got it. Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins is officially on for WrestleMania after Rollins rematch win over Shinsuke Nakamura Friday night. The King of Swing granted his acceptance with a another full swing job of Rollins backstage.

You could spot that Apollo Crews pinning Big E in that six-man tag team match a mile away. Despite the obvious, The Street Profits along with Otis and Chad Gable made it an entertaining match. Damn can Montez Ford fly!

I know it’s been done so many times in the past, but Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn in the ring makes me smile. It never disappoints no matter how many times they turn on each other. Needless to say, I could do without Logan Paul for the red carpet premiere for Zayn’s documentary on the final SmackDown before WrestleMania, but it will get a ton of social media publicity for the WWE, so it makes sense.

Bianca Belair may have gotten a win over Natalya and a nice right hand to Sasha Banks’ face, but it was The Boss who left Belair squirming with the Banks statement to end her night. I don’t need any more hype between these two. Just give me 45 minutes and a tremendous match in two weeks!

Looks like we’ll be getting Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode defending the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against The Mysterios at WrestleMania after Rey upset Ziggler Friday night. Sounds like a good feel-good family moment coming, right?


Parting Shots:

Andrade is now a free man after getting his release earlier this week from the WWE. It’s a shame. Think back to one year ago. The pandemic was just starting and the trio of Andrade, Zelina Vega and Angel Garza were on tv every show, sometimes two and three times a show giving us entertaining segments. Now, a year later, Vega and Andrade are gone and Garza is a blip in the mirror. Things move fast my friends. Can’t wait to see where Andrade shows up next, whether it be AEW, Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling or internationally in New Japan or CMLL. Who knows, maybe he’ll do it all in this new wrestling world.

The WWE on Peacock was a win-win for me watching FastLane. Easy to use and no interruptions with a crystal-clear picture. Sure, I know that some folks are upset at the no pause and rewind buttons that they were accustomed to on the WWE Network. That will come with time I’m sure as will the option to watch LIVE or watch from the beginning. All-in-all, I like it plus now I get the WWE and everything on Peacock all for the same price I was paying for the WWE Network for and that’s a quality buy.

Kudos to Kane and The Great Khali, the latest announced inductees to the 2021 WWE Hall of Fame Class.


Coming up this week:

RAW:
Contract signing for Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley
Bobby Lashley looks for help in taking out Drew McIntyre
The Miz & John Morrison music video premiere

NXT:
Gauntlet Eliminator Battle Royale to determine challenger for NXT North American Championship Match

SMACKDOWN:
Sami Zayn Documentary Red Carpet Premiere with Logan Paul


Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at jcrowe567@gmail.com. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND