Welcome to ThunderDome – WWE style!
Friday night began a new era for the WWE as they continue to find their footage through the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve officially moved out of the Performance Center, where they’ve done fanless shows for the past six months and now taken up residency at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. It’s a return to a big arena set-up and will be surrounded by digital fans who will join RAW, SmackDown and PPV’s from the comforts of their own homes each week.
I thought the look and the feel of it was awesome! The bigness of a WWE event has returned somewhat and now it will be tweaked as they move forward. I did think they might have shown a few more close-up shots of the digital crowd, but it’s something they will surely take a look at it. When it comes to production, the WWE is the leader in the game. Add in the pyros and the longer, familiar entrance and it was a home run for me. Well done!
All this comes at a great time for the WWE as life at the Performance Center got stale and looked a bit too cozy and of course, looked the same each and every show. This weekend sees the WWE with four straight nights of live programming with SmackDown on Friday night, NXT TakeOver:XXX Saturday night, SummerSlam on Sunday night and RAW on Monday night. That’s a lot of folks and the WWE better be at its best to stand out.
Finally, I’m sad to see Renee Young go. She’s reportedly set to leave the WWE after SummerSlam. There’s no question that she was a bright spot from the announce team and even though WWE Backstage was never given a 100% chance to succeed with a late-night spot on FS1, Young, along with CM Punk, make it entertaining. Plus, Young did it all. From the sidelines, hosting and even some play-by-play too, she shined. Now, whether it’s a future with more mainstream gigs like her cookbook, podcast and other projects, another network gig or possible a reunion in AEW with hubby Jon Moxley, Young will do amazing things. She is very good at what she does and we wish her nothing but the best.
SummerSlam PPV – Updated Card:
- WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton
- Universal Championship Match: Braun Strowman vs. The FIend
- RAW Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Asuka
- SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Bayley vs. Asuka
- United States Championship Match: Apollo Crews vs. MVP
- Hair vs. Hair, No DQ, Loser Leaves WWE Match: Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville
- RAW Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits vs. Andrade & Angel Garza
- Street Fight: Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio (Mysterio can bring weapons)
NXT TakeOver: XXX – Updated Card:
- NXT Championship Match: Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross
- NXT Women’s Championship Match: Io Shirai vs. Dakota Kai
- North American Championship Ladder Match: The Velveteen Dream vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest
- Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee
- Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher
- Kickoff Show: NXT Tag Team Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza vs. Breezango vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
- United States Championship Non-Title Match: Apollo Crews defeated Shelton Benjamin
- 24/7 Championship Shelton Benjamin defeated R-Truth to win title
- Angel Garza defeated Ivar
- Natalya defeated Mickie James by count-out
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Non-Title Match: Asuka & Shayna Baszler defeated Sasha Banks & Bayley
- Peyton Royce defeated Ruby Riott
- MVP, Bobby Lashley & Shelton Benjamin defeated Apollo Crews, Mustafa Ali & Ricochet
- 24/7 Championship Match: Cedric Alexander defeated Shelton Benjamin to win title
- 24/7 Championship Match: Cedric Alexander defeated Akira Tozawa to retain title
- 24/7 Championship Match: Shelton Benjamin defeated Cedric Alexander to win title
- Montez Ford defeated Andrade
Revenge for the Mysterios – Giving Seth Rollins a double dose of kendo stick revenge was as physical as it was heartening. Good for Dominik and Rey Mysterio to get their pound of flesh back from the beatings on both father and son. Should be slobber knocker come Sunday at SummerSlam.
A new duo – Putting foes Shayna Baszler & Asuka together is a pair that I like. They’re just crazy enough to fight Sasha Banks & Bayley on their terms and also fight each other at any moment.
HBK – You mean to tell me that Randy Orton’s RKO and punt to the head takes out everyone except Shawn Michaels? It seems a bit farfetched and a mistake IMHO. I mean the RKO to Drew McIntyre was sold beautifully to end the show. I loved the back-and-forth between McIntyre and The Viper but HBK’s performance just didn’t cut it for me and could’ve been done a bit better to sell the upcoming WWE Championship Match.
A lot to digest:
RAW Underground – There was a ton going on at RAW Underground this week. Almost, a bit too much. Between Dolph Ziggler and The Viking Raiders going at it or the debut of the Marina Shafir fighting with fellow Four Horse Women Jessamyn Duke by her side to Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler going at it to the ending (why?) to the Riddick Moss fight that didn’t need to be stopped, it was a lot to take in. We still need some details as to why their fighting, what do they get to fight, is there a point to them fighting and just what do you have to do to win other than Shane McMahon saying it’s over? I love the grit of it, it just needs some more details explained. I don’t want complete structure, but maybe a title or maybe just some explanations here or there will do it for me.
24/7 Championship – Do we really need four matches with three title changes? I think not.
MVP and crew vs. Apollo Crews and crew – I think we’ve all but exhausted all the possibilities but I think we’ll get 100 more matches between these 6 over the next month.
The Smoke – We not only find out that Zelina Vega did indeed poison Montez Ford a few weeks back, as expected, but we also get Ford back in person to entertain. A welcome sight for our Monday night eyes!
Mickie James – Seriously, a count out? I expected much more from Natalya and the returning former WWE Divas Champion. That’s some seriously bad booking there my friends.
Better left unsaid:
RETRIBUTION – But we’ll say it anyway! What a waste. You mean to tell me that RETRIBUTION takes over the TV production truck but then allows them to do a three-hour show without interruption. Non-sense! Complete rubbish.
- North American Title Ladder Match Qualifying Match: Johnny Gargano defeated Ridge Holland
- Dakota Kai defeated Jessi Kamea
- Legado del Fantasma defeated Isiaah “Swerve” Scott & Breezango
- Rhea Ripley & Shotzi Blackheart defeated Mercedes Martinez & Aliyah
- North American Title Ladder Match Qualifying Match: The Velveteen Dream defeated Finn Balor
Cole vs. McAfee – Hands down, Pat McAfee and Adam Cole served up the personal side to the match up on a silver platter. Awesome job on the mic (or lack of one in Cole’s case) to not only explain McAfee’s purpose in all this but also to make us want to see Cole kick his ass as well. I’m hoping for an all-out brawl between these two. It’ll be short, but unique.
Lee vs. Kross – Anytime you add in Metallica to a WWE production piece, you know it’s going to be good. Four minutes of pure “make me want to see it” and that’s all you can ask for heading into a PPV.
What a CF:
Balor vs. Dream – I understand wanting to make us believe in the other four participants for the North American Ladder Match at TakeOver:XXX, but it seems like Balor vs. Dream was just an ordinary match due to the interference of Cameron Grimes, Damian Priest, Bronson Reed, Johnny Gargano and then TImothy Thatcher that ultimately cost Finn Balor the match. I was disappointed and wanted to see TVD and The Prince tear down the house and what we got was many levels below it. Do I really need to see Thatcher vs. Balor?
Tag teams – Good, solid matches from Rhea Ripley & Shotzi Blackheart (a fun pairing if you will) along with the cruiserweights in the six-man tag keeps NXT at its traditional roots in the ring. Week in and week out, it’s the best “wrestling” performances on WWE programming. You rarely get a sticker from the effort in the squared circle. That’s never an issue. It’s only a matter of time before we get Ripley vs. Martinez one-on-one too.
Women’s NXT Championship Match – The return of Raquel Gonzalez gives us a glimpse into what Dakota Kai could have in store for Io Shirai and their title match Saturday night. If you didn’t think Kai had a chance, you have to rethink it now.
- Big E defeated Sheamus
- SmackDown Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Lucha House Party
- Beat the Clock Challenge: Sasha Banks defeated Naomi in 3:39
- Beat the Clock Challenge: Naomi defeated Bayley 1:50 – Bayley will face Asuka first at SummerSlam
- Intercontinental Championship Match: Jeff Hardy defeated AJ Styles to win title
ThunderDome – Loved the new look as we said above. Great start to a new era in the WWE.
Hardy’s hurt and a champ – Jeff Hardy using his knee brace to beat AJ Styles and win the Intercontinental Title after Styles sneak attack at the top of the show during the RETRIBUTION chaos was ironic. Good to see Hardy a champ again and yes, we’ll see a rematch very, very soon I’m sure.
The Fiend – First, he starts his night stalking the chairman of the board, Vince McMahon. Then, he avoids the RETRIBUTION attack. Finally, after his alter ego Bray Wyatt gets attacked by Braun Strowman to end the show, The Fiend comes out of the ambulance unscathed. He’s impervious to anything and that’s a good thing heading into SummerSlam. Suspend your reality for The Fiend and enjoy the ride. And yes, we’ll have more to say about that ambulance and Bray Wyatt below.
Sonya ups the ante – After an olive branch by Mandy Rose was thrown out there to set their differences aside, not only does Sonya Deville reject it, but trumps it. Deville not only wants the Hair vs. Hair match Sunday at SummerSlam, but she wants it to be a No DQ, Loser Leaves WWE match to boot! Now, we all know about the real-life news about Deville and her stalker/kidnapping attempt this week. That’s very real. But I wonder if there’s a reason there to take her off TV for awhile and maybe she returns at a later date or maybe as part of RAW Underground? Either way, our thoughts and prayers are with Sonya in this difficult time.
Lucha House Party, 3’s a crowd? – It seems like the returning Kalisto is none too happy with his LHP mates, especially Gran Metalik, after their tag team title loss Friday night. Expect a high-flying feud coming soon to a Friday night near you.
The Miz – Did anyone else notice that The Miz was the last one to the dance during the RETRIBUTION attack to start the show? Me thinks that was not a coincidence and bears watching!
Sasha & Bayley – The tension continues to ride high heading into SummerSlam and the double duty defense for the BFF’s against Asuka. Kudos to Naomi (and Corey Graves) for upping the ante with the Beat the Clock Challenge to allow Sasha to secure a second slot spot against Asuka as Naomi’s win leaves Bayley up first to take on the Emperess Sunday.
Worst paramedics ever:
Bray Wyatt – After being pummeled by Braun Strowman and thrown off a loading dock, the paramedics taking care of Wyatt just manhandle him on to a stretcher, no checking of the neck, back or even putting a brace on him. Yikes! At least, try to make it look real guys!
It’s time for predictions for this weekend’s two PPV’s – in quick fashion. Remember, with Payback just one week later after SummerSlam, I expect some surprises that need immediate attention. Plus, with the only match announced for Payback being Sasha Banks & Bayley defending their Women’s Tag Team Titles, there’s sure to be some tension caused to be at a premium for that match. Maybe Asuka will walk away with ALL the gold!
SummerSlam PPV – Updated Card:
- WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton defeats Drew McIntyre
- Universal Championship Match: The Fiend defeats Braun Strowman (with help from Alexa Bliss)
- RAW Women’s Championship Match: Asuka defeats Sasha Banks
- SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Asuka defeats Bayley
- United States Championship Match: Apollo Crews defeats MVP
- Hair vs. Hair, No DQ, Loser Leaves WWE Match: Mandy Rose defeats Sonya Deville (maybe Sonya shows up on RAW Underground?)
- RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Andrade & Angel Garza defeat The Street Profits
- Street Fight: Seth Rollins defeats Dominik Mysterio
NXT TakeOver: XXX – Updated Card:
- NXT Championship Match: Karrion Kross defeats Keith Lee
- NXT Women’s Championship Match: Io Shirai defeats Dakota Kai
- North American Championship Ladder Match: The Velveteen Dream defeats Cameron Grimes, Bronson Reed, Johnny Gargano, Damian Priest
- Adam Cole defeats Pat McAfee
- Finn Balor defeats Timothy Thatcher
- Kickoff Show: NXT Tag Team Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza defeat Breezango and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Coming up this week:
ThunderDome / SummerSlam aftermath
ThunderDome / SummerSlam aftermath
Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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