That’s how I look at this week. First off, some personal news. Sorry I missed everyone last week. Unfortunately, I had a medical situation where I was diagnosed with a minor stroke. Luckily, my wife got me to the hospital in time for the best of care and we are now moving forward. The good news is that it could’ve been a lot of worse and I’m still here, lucky to be back with you this week, giving me great distraction to what’s been a very stressful 7 days.
As for the WWE, that too is a thumbs up good week. The Payback PPV was highlighted by Roman Reigns winning the Universal Championship over The Fiend and Braun Strowman along with Keith Lee’s clean victory over Randy Orton. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax winning the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles with a bizarre double-submission by Baszler surely sent the former tag champs into a spiral.
RAW was solid too but NXT and SmackDown for me was off the charts! From top to bottom on both Wednesday and Friday nights, both NXT and SmackDown had me glued to my seat. Of course, the highlights being the incredible finish to the NXT Championship Iron Man Match as well as Bayley’s turn on best friend Sasha Banks. We’ll get into those in our show recaps. But it wasn’t just those moments, it was show flow, attention to details and adding personality and personal items into the storyline. It makes a HUGE difference.
Finally, Friday night was my first venture into the WWE ThunderDome. Originally, my daughter and I were confirmed to be on the video wall last Friday, but real life got in the way. So, one week later, we were active participants among the over 900 fans in the ThunderDome. How was it, you may ask? Well, I thought it was a great experience. It’s not something I would do every week because being part of a live event is exhausting. But, every once in a while, I would absolutely do it. In addition to being able to be part of the crowd for 205 LIVE and SmackDown, we got special backstage access to WWE Superstars Jeff Hardy, Cesaro and Drew Gulak. It had that old school live event feel just for us. So, that’s a good thing and I hope they continue to tweak it moving forward because all-in-all, it was fun to be a fan again at a wrestling event, even if it was from my own house.
Now, on to the week that was in the WWE.
Star of the Week:
Bayley – No question here as Bayley upstages Roman Reigns and Keith Lee. There’s no more wondering where and when the BFF’s will break up. The SmackDown Women’s Champion has had enough with Sasha Banks and her heinous attack on Banks puts her right atop the heel chain in WWE and we love it!
- WWE Championship #1 Contender’s Qualifying Match: Keith Lee defeated Dolph Ziggler
- Mickie James defeated Lana
- WWE Championship #1 Contender’s Qualifying Match: Randy Orton defeated Kevin Owens
- The Viking Raiders & Cedric Alexander defeated Bobby Lashley, MVP & Shelton Benjamin
- The Riott Squad defeated The IIconics – The IIconics have to split up
- WWE Championship #1 Contender’s Qualifying Match: Seth Rollins defeated Dominik Mysterio
- Tornado Tag Team Match: The Street Profits vs. Andrade & Angel Garza went to a no-contest due to RETRIBUTION interference
- WWE Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins & Keith Lee
Randy Orton – Not only did Orton regain his #1 Contender’s status, but he didn’t it following a loss to Keith Lee at Payback, used Aleister Black to do his bidding and pinned Seth Rollins to get his WWE Championship Match. Orton is not only getting himself over but getting Lee up the ladder as well. The Legend Killer continues to be one of the top performers in the WWE right now.
Asuka – Give me more! In the ring, on the mic, on commentary, she’s entertaining as hell. Sure, we don’t expect her to lose to Mickie James, Natalya or Lana in the near future, but at least she’ll make it exciting. I wonder if we get her alter-ego clown character as some point too! That would be interesting.
Dominik Mysterio – It’s still early in his WWE career, but he continues to impress. Getting a tag team win with his father over Rollins and Buddy Murphy at Payback for his first win was awesome. Then, just 24 hours later, he holds his own in a #1 Contender’s Match with Rollins. Even with Rey injured with a torn triceps, it looks like we’ll be getting a healthy dose of the Mysterio family with Rey’s wife Angie and Dominik’s sister now on with on-camera roles. Good stuff so far. Hope it continues.
The IIconics – Was there a need to split them up? Having Peyton and Billie Kay go their separate ways – maybe against each other after the RAW Underground fiasco – seems a bit forced. Who knows, maybe they will surprise us but a feud between them doesn’t seem that appealing.
No Sasha & Bayley follow-up – They’ve been on almost every show for months yet now, when things are getting intriguing between the besties, we get nothing from them about losing the tag titles to Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax. We needed to hear SOMETHING from them and not let it wait until Friday night. The Women’s Tag Team Championship is on all shows and it deserved a few minutes on Monday night.
RETRIBUTION – Why are they now attacking the tag teams – The Street Profits and Andrade & Angel Garza are this week’s targets after the Mysterios got it last week. Even poor Zelina Vega got beat up too! We need more than a two-minute interruption each week. This club needs some direction, some depth and someone explaining what the hell they are doing there. It’s been over a month now. Also, isn’t it funny how things just go right back to normal after RETRIBUTION attacks? Funny, huh. Finally, how inept is security that they can’t keep 5-10 people out of the building when they run in a pack?
Jessamyn Duke – Duke makes her RAW Underground debut, alongside fellow Four Horse Women Marina Shafir’s second bout. I know it’s building to the eventual stable, but will it only be on RU or on RAW as well. Just having them on RU seems like a waste since it’s never been explained other than a side show.
- Street Fight: Breezango & Isaiah “Swerve” Scott defeated Legado del Fantasma
- Candace LeRae defeated Kacy Catanzaro
- Timothy Thatcher defeated Bronson Reed
- Fatal 4-Way 60-Minute Iron Man NXT Championship Match: Adam Cole and Finn Balor tied at 2 pinfalls a piece over Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano – Balor and Cole face-off next week in sudden death match for NXT Championship
The entire show – No fluff. Wrestling in-ring was excellent. I’m sure some will quibble with the tie between Cole and Balor for the title, but I don’t mind it at all. The final few minutes led to a frantic final seconds which is all you can ask for. Now, we get Balor vs. Cole next week for all the marbles and how can you be mad at that?! Personal development with Candace LeRae/Tegan Nox using Kacy Catanzaro/Kayden Carter’s relationship was excellent. Setting up Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez in a steel cage next week was short and sweet, exactly what it needed to be. The 6-man street fight was awesome including a double dive off a forklift by Fandango and Swerve which lead to the ultimate pin by Scott over Escobar. Wonderful stuff. Plus, Reed vs. Thatcher moved things along for Thatcher’s eventual NXT North American Championship Match while pushing Austin Theory back into the physical mix with Reed worked too. All-in-all, a very entertaining two-hours.
Wade Barrett – While we do miss Mauro Ranollo at the NXT announce desk after his mutual parting of ways with WWE, Barrett is a welcome edition with insight and knowledge. Plus, he’s got a few good one-liners to boot.
- Heavy Machinery defeated The Miz & John Morrison
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler defeated Sasha Banks & Bayley to retain titles
- Universal Championship #1 Contender’s Fatal Four-Way Match: Jey Uso defeated Matt Riddle, Sheamus and King Corbin
Roman & Paul – Starting the show with an epic shootlike promo from Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns was perfect! Adding some reality to Heyman being bounced from RAW power to the Reigns storyline, saying it was Roman who brought Paul back in was classic. Dropping the reality line about Corey Graves being Carmella’s last boyfriend was hilarious. It’s stuff like that that brings it home.
Roman & Jey – Adding Jey Uso to the #1 Contender’s Match, thanks to Paul Heyman after Sheamus’ attack on Big E, brings in a family, personal matter to the forefront. It’s the best storyline they could’ve chosen going forward. Do we expect Uso to win, of course not. But having Reigns bad mouth his cousin and then ultimately beat him up at Clash of Champions is pure evil and will add to his badass appeal. Plus, the main event was on point giving me everything I could ask from from Uso, Matt Riddle, Sheamus and King Corbin. Good work all around.
Bayley’s breakup – Want more can we say about this one. We knew it was coming, for months, and yet it was still OMG shocking! The way it played out with Sasha Banks having a knee injury and Bayley seemingly there for her BFF and then beating the holy hell out of her is something we thought Banks could do, but not Bayley. Well played Hugger! Now we can look forward to them beating each other’s brains out for months ahead and that’s good for us!
Who’s that girl – It was only a few seconds but we are intrigued who that leggy, fur-wearing WWE Superstar is. Effective tease to say the least.
Otis & John Morrison – Having Morrison steal the money in the bank briefcase had some intrigue and then having Otis hand him his lunch, literally, in that briefcase was laugh out loud funny. Otis is just lovable and plays it well.
Sami Zayn – The dude is just plain gold on the mic. Love him in the middle of this Intercontinental Title feud with Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles!
Poor Big E – I would love to know how much money a year WWE spends on damaged cars! This time, Big E is the latest victim after a White Noise from Sheamus leaves him hospital-bound and out of the #1 Contender’s Match. There will be a New Day of Vengeance ahead for Sheamus I’m sure whether it be from Big E or the returning Xavier Woods.
If you haven’t watch 205 LIVE, give it a chance. This week’s episode had some quality in-ring performances from Daviri & Mansoor and was climaxed by a Legado del Fantasma attack on Ever-Rise and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. Whether it be on 205 LIVE or NXT, simply loving the old school feel of Legado del Fantasma, led by Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar. They’re getting it done in and out of the ring these days.
Coming up this week:
Drew McIntyre’s response to Randy Orton
Super Tuesday II
NXT Championship Match: Adam Cole vs. Finn Balor
Steel Cage Battle of the Badasses Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez
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