This Week In The WWE: 5/17 – 5/23

As we hit the Memorial Day Weekend, we hit what traditionally is the start of the Summer season around the World. Of course, this year is not your normal year due to the COVID-19 crisis, so instead of looking forward to a bunch of big shows and some outdoor wrestling events, we are left to wonder when the next show with ANY type of crowd will be.

With all 50 states now easing restrictions in some form or fashion, it’s only a matter of time when we will see that first event. Sure, the first will be small and measured in the number of fans that attend. But it will be a start. And of course, when it comes to the WWE, we wonder what will become of SummerSlam. We know by now that government officials in Massachusetts are not going to let a big scale event like that happen in their state with fans, so it’s just a matter of where Vince McMahon will take it. Will it be a replacement for WrestleMania in Tampa, Florida where things are moving faster than most other states? Or maybe it’s just allowing fans in the Performance Center or Full Sail again? Time will tell, but for sure, that time is coming as the public is just inching to get back to some form of normalcy.

Now, having said that, the industry could surely use the shot in the arm. Empty arena shows aren’t the biggest hits with TV viewers no matter what wrestling show you are watching. While it is giving TV time to those who may not have received it due to some talent not wanting to be at the tv tapings due to the on-going health crisis. I just wish that the WWE would acknowledge the reality of what’s going on outside their own four walls. It would help them and give them some needed flexibility. But then again, that’s just one man’s opinion and right now, the only opinion that counts is one Vincent Kennedy McMahon. So, I am guessing we won’t get that change anytime soon.


Backlash PPV

  • WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley
  • Universal Championship Handicap Match: Braun Strowman vs. The Miz & John Morrison
  • The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever: Edge vs. Randy Orton

Star of the Week:

The Undertaker, Part 2 – This is the best thing going right now from WWE! Amazing that after all these years and a storied career, we got self-doubt from The Undertaker after his WrestleMania match with Roman Reigns. It was a wonderful look inside the comeback to face John Cena the following year at WrestleMania, in a match that even UT thought was too short after all the planning.


RAW

RESULTS

  • Murphy defeated Humberto Carrillo
  • Charlotte Flair defeated Ruby Riott
  • Bobby Lashley defeated R-Truth
  • Women’s Tag Team Title Match: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross defeated The Iiconics (DQ) to retain titles
  • Submission Match: Shayna Baszler defeated Natalya
  • Kevin Owens & Apollo Crews defeated Andrade & Angel Garza
  • Aleister Black defeated Murphy (DQ)
  • Non-title WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre defeated King Corbin

What we loved:

Welcome back KO – It was a good sight to see Kevin Owens back in the Monday Night RAW mix this week. Not only did we delight in the one-line quips directed at Natalya wrecking his KO Show set, but we also got some in-ring action in a tag-team win with Apollo Crews. We also like the continued push for Crews.

Bobby Lashley – THIS is the strong, monster-driven Lashley that we’ve wanted for some time. Aligning with MVP is a good thing. Now, I’d like some other superstars to join the stable as well!

Wrestling – From Murphy vs. Carrillo, Murphy vs. Black, Baszler vs. Nattie, the tag matches and the main event of Drew vs. Corbin, it was a solid in-ring presentation. I say that despite the fact I hated that they spent the first 30 minutes of the show with only in-ring promos.

Legends Promo – As normal, anytime Edge and Orton get to go head-to-head on the mic, it’s usually very good. Monday night was no exception. I would’ve liked to see Edge’s acceptance of the match dragged out a bit longer though. Now, what do we have left for the build-up? I’d like each of them to pick a solid “wrestling” opponent for them to face over the next few weeks to keep it interesting. Oh yeah, by the way, I have NO hopes that it remains a complete “wrestling” match throughout.

Meh:

Nattie’s Turn? – So, I guess here comes the frustrated Natalya heel turn after breaking up the KO Show set during her tirade from the tapping out to Shayna Baszler in the submission match. Samoa Joe said it best. It’s no shame to lose. Accept it and move on. This seems like all the turns we’ve seen before. I hope we are wrong.

Charlotte/Ruby – We love Charlotte Flair, but we don’t need to see her every show, do we? The match vs. Ruby Riott didn’t really do much for either, but I do like that The Queen is facing someone new each show. There was also NO WAY she was going to lose before a Champion vs. Champion match against Bayley on SmackDown Friday night.

50/50:

Austin Theory switches teams – In a matter of 30 minutes, Austin Theory gets beat down and thrown out of the Zelina Vega faction with Andrade and Angel Garza to joining Seth Rollins and Murphy (and the Authors of Pain when they come back) as the Monday Night Messiah’s newest minion. Seems a bit forced, but I’ll roll with it. I do like that we have two heel factions now facing off it seems coming up. That, I’ll give a thumbs up too.  Shades of the Attitude Era showing up in 2020.

Didn’t love:

DQ finishes – Having Bliss & Cross and Aleister Black win on another shady DQ finish seems lazy. We’ve seen run-ins all the time without ending the match as well as a superstar not heeding a ref’s warning without a DQ. Why now? Let it continue, especially in the case of the Women’s Tag Team Title Match. I’m sure that’s just to get to a stipulation for the Backlash PPV match. Just not a fan of the DQ finish folks.

Better left unsaid:

The Street Profits vs. The Viking Raiders in an axe-throwing contest to fulfill the “E” part of WWE I guess.


NXT

RESULTS

  • Karrion Kross defeated Liam
  • Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament: El Hijo del Fantasma defeated Akira Tozawa
  • Mia Yim defeated Santana Garrett
  • Roderick Strong defeated Dexter Lumis
  • Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan defeated Ever-Rise
  • Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament: Drake Maverick defeated Kushida
  • Io Shirai defeated Rhea Ripley (DQ)

What we loved:

Opening Bang! – Starting the show with Karrion Kross & Scarlett dominating and then being welcome to NXT by Tommaso Ciampa was exactly what Ciampa deemed Kross & Scarlett – SPECIAL. It had that BIG feel to it, didn’t it?! Can’t wait until In Your House to see these square-off.

Drake gets his due – Kudos to Drake Maverick for doing what few thought he could do – WIN! Not only did Drake upset Kushida to stay alive, but he now has a shot to get into the Cruiserweight Tournament Finals with another victory next week – a three-way dance with Kushida and Jake Atlas.

Brewing:

Lee vs. Gargano – The current North American Champ, Keith Lee has interjected himself into the Mia Yim vs. Candace LeRae squirmish by taking on Johnny Gargano. Will it be a championship match next or some mixed tag-team action? Either way, it should be entertaining.

Shining everywhere:

The Queen – Of course, Charlotte Flair stands tall on her own show as the NXT Women’s Champion takes out Io Shirai in the main event to give Rhea Ripley the loss as a precursor to Friday night’s battle with Bayley on SmackDown. Not a fan of the DQ finish, but it does help the story of the future three-way dance between the trio, which is now officially set for NXT TakeOver: In Your House in June.

Middling:

Lumis vs. Strong – A good match between these two leaves Strong with a sneak victory and brings back The Velveteen Dream into the mix to help Dexter Lumis from a post-match attack from Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish. We can see where this one is going….

Is it me or……

The Undisputed Era – Has some of the luster gone off TUE lately? It seems like the dominance just isn’t there. Adam Cole says there could be a celebration next week as he hits the one-year mark of being the NXT Champion. I just wonder who’s next to face Mr. Bay-Bay for the crown.

The Masked Mafia – I have no clue who they are or when they will be revealed. This week’s target – Akiro Tazawa. Maybe it’s part of Drake Maverick’s grandiose plan to save his job in NXT/WWE?  Or maybe El Hijo del Fantasma.


SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

  • Non-Title Universal Championship Match: Braun Strowman defeated The Miz
  • Intercontinental Championship Tournament First Round Match: AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Champion vs. Champion Match: Bayley defeated Charlotte Flair
  • Sonya Deville & Dolph Ziggler defeated Mandy Rose & Otis
  • Intercontinental Championship Tournament First Round Match: Jeff Hardy defeated Sheamus

Overall this stacked SmackDown was easily the best show of the week! All quality and no fluff. Now, it may not show up in the ratings as it is the Friday night of a long, holiday weekend but it was the a good two-hours from the blue brand, continuing an upward trend the past few weeks.

What we loved:

AJ’s back in blue – Fresh off a trade from RAW for a “superstar to be named later, AJ Styles’ return to SmackDown is a successful one as he takes part in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament. In a rematch from WrestleMania 34, Styles wins the first round match in another really good match between the two. Let’s be honest, these two can’t have a bad match, right?

Champion vs. Champion – Odd that this wasn’t the main event of the show, but nonetheless, it was very, very good. Thankful that they didn’t have a predictable run-in from Sasha Banks to ruin this match. Bayley takes home the victory, with help from the ropes, in a surprising outcome for the battle of heel champions. The storyline is there and getting better. Loved the smack talk and expressions too throughout the match.

Sonya & Dolph – Heels in top form here! Sonya Deville and Dolph Ziggler take out their personal vendetta against Mandy Rose & Otis and it makes me wonder – at what point does Ziggler try to push Otis to put up that MITB case up for grabs against him.

Have we seen this before?:

Braun Strowman’s Championship Handicap Match – Didn’t we just see Strowman lose his Intercontinental Title to Sami Zayn in a 3-on-1 handicap match at Elimination Chamber? Sure we did. Now, we get another championship handicap match at Backlash with Strowman defending the Universal Championship against The Miz and John Morrison. Why? Strowman already pinned Morrison last week in a tag match with Otis and this week, he took out The Miz in a singles affair. There’s got to be a better way to showcase a feud for SmackDown’s top title. Although, it would be interesting seeing how The Miz and John Morrison would co-exist as co-champions. That would be the only good payoff but at the same time further tarnishing Strowman again with a gimmick loss.

Good stuff:

The Dirt Sheet – Despite losing to Braun Strowman in an impromptu singles match, The Miz and John Morrison put together a very entertaining episode of the Dirt Sheet with enough shade to cover both Otis as well as Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins.It made me laugh, as it usually does.

Hardy vs. Sheamus: Jeff Hardy gets the victory in a physical match. I don’t think it’s the last Hardy has seen of Sheamus though as I can see him getting involved in next week’s semi-final match vs. Daniel Bryan.


Parting shots:

Coming up this week:

RAW – Triple Threat #1 Contender’s Match: NXT Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya vs. Nia Jax – Winner to face Asuka at Backlash (someone will have to explain to me how Nattie, who lost to Shayna Baszler for the second time last week and Charlotte Flair are in this match for the RAW Title Shot).

NXT – Cage Match: Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher / Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Group A Triple-Threat Finals: Drake Maverick vs. Kushida vs. Jake Atlas

SmackDown – Intercontinental Championship Tournament Semi-finals: Daniel Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy / AJ Styles vs. Elias


RIP Shad Gaspard. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Gaspard’s body washed ashore in Venice Beach, California after he and his son were pulled in by riptide while they were swimming. Gaspard instructed lifeguards to save his 10-year old son, which they did.


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 and Red Sox fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND!

Author: John Crowe