This Week In The WWE: 3/28-4/3

Are you ready for the busiest week of the year in the WWE? That’s right, it’s time for WrestleMania week where the WWE has something going every single night for the WWE Universe.

On Monday, it’s RAW. On Tuesday, it’s the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. Wednesday and Thursday bring the live NXT TakeOver: Stand & Delivery two-night event. Friday brings a special SmackDown with the return of the Andre Giant Memorial Battle Royale. Finally, on Saturday and Sunday, it’s the extravaganza we know as WrestleMania back in front of live fans at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.

Damn, I’m tired already. So, before we recap the week that got us this far, let’s see where the cards stand as of Saturday morning.

WrestleMania 37 – Updated card:

Night 1:

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

Night 2:

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

Expected to be added:
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. TBD (winner of night 1’s four-way match between TBD)


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 Eliminator Match: Leon Ruff, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis, LA Knight
  • NXT UK Championship Match: WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa
  • KUSHIDA vs. Pete Dunne

Night 2:

  • NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor vs. Karrion Kross
  • Unsanctioned Match: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly
  • NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. TBA
  • NXT Cruiserweight Championship Unification Ladder Match: Jordan Devlin vs. Santos Escobar
  • NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell

For sure, there will be surprises along the way over the next 7 days. If I’m the WWE, I’m starting off the event with something that will make its first live crowd in over a year pop so loud it will feel like a packed crowd instead of about 25,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium. Yup, I’m starting WrestleMania with Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair. They’ll get the night off to an awesome start and set a standard for all those to follow. Now, will the WWE do it or will they save them for the main event? Time will tell, but as those that have fought in the ring say, if you’re not last, you want to be first.

Finally, before we get to the show recaps, let’s talk about Friday’s shocking announcement from the WWE: Chris Jericho is going to be the next guest on Steve Austin’s Broken Skulls Session Podcast Sunday, April 11th immediately after night two of WrestleMania. That’s a jaw dropper my friends. After all, Jericho is currently one of the founding fathers of All Elite Wrestling, the WWE’s main rival these days and he’s been none-too-shy about blasting the WWE at any given chance since leaving the company to embark on his journey through New Japan Pro Wrestling and AEW. It will be fascinating to watch and yes; I applaud Vince McMahon for letting it happen on his watch.


RAW

RESULTS

  • United States Non-Title Championship Match: Sheamus defeated Riddle
  • Braun Strowman defeated Jaxson Ryker
  • WWE Championship Non-Title Match: Bobby Lashley defeated Shelton Benjamin
  • Xavier Woods defeated AJ Styles by DQ
  • Naomi defeated Shayna Baszler
  • Drew McIntyre defeated Ricochet; McIntyre defeated Mustafa Ali

Needless to say, RAW felt a little flat for me with just under two weeks to WrestleMania.

I didn’t quite understand the need to break up The Hurt Business before the PPV. Pitting Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin against WWE Champion Bobby Lashley doesn’t make much sense to me. Who knows, maybe it’s a big rouse by MVP. And speaking of Lashley, if he’s such a badass, why does he need the help of King Corbin, fresh off SmackDown, to beat down Drew McIntyre to end the show. Now, while we’re at it, why would it be Ricochet and Mustafa Ali as the ones to take a shot at McIntyre and not a guy like Braun Strowman, who was just begging for a title shot a few weeks back. A little thing like a match with Shane McMahon shouldn’t sidetrack him.

Want more?

Why have Rhea Ripley and Asuka fighting as a tag team less than a week before their RAW Women’s Championship match? Well, because that’s what the WWE does – put all their challengers in a tag team with each other. Done. Too. Death. Oh yeah, it’s also because the Women’s Tag Team Champs, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler have such little interest, they’ll just throw a bunch of teams in against them with no storyline. YAWN.

Need a US Title Match? Here’s Sheamus to beat Riddle.

Want more? Need to fill a few segments.

Well, here’s The New Day Game Night and a DQ win by Xavier Woods over AJ Styles to whet your appetite. How about seeing Omos actually wrestle ONCE in a ring before WrestleMania? Nah.

The less said about The Miz and John Morrison’s “Hey Hey Hip Hop” music video the better.

The same can be said about McMahon’s report card flashback to make fun of Strowman. Damn, Shane, you can’t even read the words that are on the card to match the screen. It’s amazing that the WWE, with all its anti-bullying messages allows this storyline to go any further.


NXT

RESULTS

  • Cameron Grimes defeated Roderick Strong
  • NXT Cruiserweight Championship Non-title match: Santos Escobar defeated Tyler Breeze
  • Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell defeated Gigi Dolan and Zeda Ramir
  • Raquel Gonzalez defeated Zoey Stark
  • Xia Li defeated Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
  • LA Knight wins NXT North American Championship Gauntlet Eliminator Battle Royale

Needless to say, NXT is the show that I hoped RAW would and could be. Instead of the non-sensical booking and wasteful segments, NXT was all business Wednesday night with the go-home show before the historic two-night NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver event coming up this week.

Cameron Grimes vs. Roderick Strong turned out to be a case of two guys going in opposite directions. Grimes has his money on his mind and distracted Strong just enough with that The Undisputed Era armband to get the victory. Yes, Roddy’s been down lately and it looks like he’s walking away.

Kudos to Santos Escobar and Tyler Breeze for continuing to raise the bar in the cruiserweight division. Breeze proved more than just a warm-up match in Escobar’s Open Challenge before his unification match against Jordan Devlin at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed by someone losing three matches than Zoey Stark. In dropping decisions to Io Shirai, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez the past three weeks, Stark has looked up to the task and the moment’s not too big for her against some of the best in NXT. There are good times (and wins!) ahead for Stark.

Xia Li continues to be a badass, that’s for sure. But, what’s also evil is Tian Sha and the stronghold she put on Kayden Carter before blowing that mysterious mist into Carter’s face. Whatever that force is between the two, I’m ALL IN! Li gets the win in the ring over a returning Kacy Catanzaro while her friend gets taken out on the ramp. This story gets better and better each week.

The third time definitely was not the charm for Io Shirai. All night long, the NXT Women’s Champion tried to attack Gonzalez heading into their NXT TakeOver match, but all three times, she got the worst of it including finally being thrown through a wall to seemingly end her night. Yet, still we get Shirai in the ring to end the show, flying off the top rope to take out Gonzalez and most of the women’s locker room as well. Beware of the female giant Gonzalez, my friend. She’s coming for your NXT Title!

How about that Battle Royale? Can we make Austin Theory look any sillier with that elimination of himself? Dexter Lumis made it to the final six by standing in the corner like a statue. Heck, he didn’t move until the final 3. It’s a shame that KUSHIDA and Pete Dunne eliminated each other to miss the final six. But at least we’ll get a solid match added to NXT TakeOver night 1 between them. I like LA Knight getting the win, taking out Lumis after going through the middle ropes instead of over-the-top rope like Lumis did. Now, it’ll be Lumis and Knight starting off the gauntlet match Wednesday night to see who fights Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship on Thursday night.  And oh yeah, is Roderick Strong really leaving? He didn’t even make it into the battle royale as expected.

That Prime Target setting up Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly was intense! It’s definitely worth a watch if you missed it and a second look if you saw it live.  

What’s up with the dog? Well, it’s the debut of Taya Valkyrie folks! Or should we same Franky Monet?


SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

  • Otis, Chad Gable, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode defeated The Street Profits & The Mysterios
  • Natalya defeated Shayna Baszler
  • Bianca Belair defeated Carmella
  • Street Fight: Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso

I’ll be honest, when I saw them previewing yet another Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso match, I was like again, really? But a street fight with one week to go before WrestleMania isn’t a terrible idea. It lends itself to an anything can happen atmosphere. Granted, it wasn’t as brutal as it could’ve been but it left no doubt that it lifted the stock of Bryan. First, he gets the win over Uso by making him tap out. Then, he knocks some sense into Edge, banging his head into the ring post before taking aim at the Universal Champion himself by putting Roman Reigns into the YES lock to end the night. They’re doing a really good job at building this triple threat match into one that we have no idea who’s the favorite going in and coming out of Tampa.

Good job by the tag teams to start the night. Otis got the flying bulldozer on Montez Ford to get the win for his team of Chad Gable, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode over The Street Profits and The Mysterios. They made me believe that anyone can walk out as champions when they face off in a fatal four-way on the night before WrestleMania.

What’s the point of having a 30-second match between Shayna Baszler and Natalya when you know it’s only there to set up the post-match melee between all the women tag teams? There’s got to be a better way. Speaking of a better way, how do Carmella and Bayley NOT have a match at WrestleMania? At the very least, put them together to win the titles.

Good to see Cesaro given a bit of mic time in the middle of the ring against Seth Rollins. Here’s hoping the push continues even after next weekend.

Justice for Sami? More like Stunner for Sami! That Red Carpet Premiere with Logan Ryan didn’t exactly go how Mr. Zayn planned did it? Either way, we’ll have Ryan at WrestleMania in the middle of the Kevin Owens/Zayn match.

Can Corey Graves drool over Carmella any more on the mic? Just admit they’re a couple off camera already! In the ring, Carmella held her own but couldn’t avoid being pinned by Bianca Belair, who then shielded off a surprise attack from Sasha Banks. At this point, there’s nothing more to be done between these two, let’s get to the match.

What exactly is a Nigerian Drum Fight? Looks like we’ll find out when Apollo Crews takes on Big E for the Intercontinental Championship.


Parting shots:

So long Charly Caruso, we’re going to miss you! With Caruso’s WWE contract expiring and a full-time move to ESPN announced, it’s the end of the line to Caruso’s time in wrestling. It’s a shame that Angel Garza and Charly never got to take things a bit further than their backstage flirtation. Now, she gets more time to hang out with Stephen A. Smith and the gang at First Take.


Coming up this week:

RAW:
WWE Women’s Tag Team Non-title Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka & Rhea Ripley
Drew McIntyre vs. King Corbin
WWE Championship Non-title Match: Bobby Lashley vs. Cedric Alexander

NXT:
NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Nights 1 & 2 (Wednesday and Thursday)

SMACKDOWN:
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs. Chad Gable & Otis vs. The Street Profits vs. The Mysterios


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