This Week in WWE 4/4 – 4/10
Surprise! I bet you weren’t expecting to see my name as the author of This Week in WWE, but it seems that Mr. John Crowe has decided to move on from The Place to Be Nation, and the powers that be at The Place to Be Nation have decided that I would be the best person to take the torch and carry on the This Week in WWE article. I want to thank John for all the work he did for the site and although I never really talked to him after visiting his website (The Crowe’s Nest | Sports, Entertainment, Politics and more! (wordpress.com)) we have a lot in common such as wrestling, beautiful women, and country music and I hope I can do him proud and not ruin the legacy of This Week in WWE. I also want to thank Andy Atherton and anyone else who made the decision to pick me to follow in his footsteps.
Now with all of that out of the way let’s get to what happened This Week in the WWE, seeing as I just happened to be given the reigns on the biggest week of the year.
- Xavier Woods w/ Kofi Kingston def AJ Styles w/ Omos – **¼
- Braun Strowman def Elias & Jaxson Ryker (2-on-1 Handicap Match) – *¾
- Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler w/ Reginald def Asuka & Rhea Ripley – **½
- Bobby Lashley w/ MVP def Cedric Alexander w/ Shelton Benjamin – **¾
- Riddle def Mustafa Ali – **½
- Drew McIntyre def King Corbin – ***
While this wasn’t the greatest WrestleMania go-home episode of Raw they did do a lot to build up the WWE Championship match as both challenger and champion were booked to look strong as Lashley dominated his former Hurt Business friend Cedric Alexander while Drew stood tall over King Corbin after a hard-fought match.
One person who wasn’t booked to look strong at all was the Raw Women’s Champion Asuka as she was turned on by Rhea Ripley, pinned by Shayna Baszler, and left lying in the ring like a complete afterthought. Do we really need another heel in the Raw Women’s Division especially when Rhea has the potential to be one of the biggest babyfaces for the division on the Raw side of things?
In other women’s news on Raw, we got the announcement of a Women’s Tag Turmoil at WrestleMania Night 1 between the teams of Riott Squad, Natalya & Tamina, Lana & Naomi, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, & perhaps the team of Carmella & Billie Kay. The winning team will go on to Night 2 to challenge for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. After hearing this match announced I have to wonder what the world is coming to when Tamina can have a confirmed match at WrestleMania, but the status of Bayley and Charlotte is up in the air.
Another change made to the WrestleMania card saw the Bad Bunny vs The Miz match become a tag match with Damian Priest and John Morrison joining the match alongside their respective partner, this change happened after Bunny was jumped by Miz and Morrison in the backstage area after they vandalized his Bugatti with paintings of bunny rabbits.
One thing that didn’t happen on Raw was a go-home angle or promo for the Fiend vs Randy Orton match as all we got was a video package, so if you weren’t sold on the match before this week then there is zero chance you would’ve become interested in it after watching Raw.
Other happenings on Raw included Braun Strowman cutting a really good promo while standing inside the steel cage ahead of his match against Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, Xavier Woods beating AJ Styles cleanly, & Riddle cutting a promo full of jokes related to weed and getting high.
NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver Night 1 Results
- Zoey Stark def Toni Storm (Pre Show Match) – **3/4
- Pete Dunne def Kushida – ****
- Bronson Reed wins Gauntlet Eliminator – ***½
- Walter © def Tommaso Ciampa (NXT UK Championship) – ****¾
- MSK def Grizzled Young Veterans & Legado del Fantasma (NXT Tag Team Championship) – ***¾
- Raquel Gonzalez w/ Dakota Kai def Io Shirai © (NXT Women’s Championship) – ***1/2
I am happy to say that after all the smoke and dust had settled on Stand and Deliver Night 1 the fans were left satisfied as all six matches (counting the pre-show) ranged from really good to great and the show overall definitely delivered in every single way.
The fans who were most anticipating the Walter vs Ciampa match had to be very satisfied with the match they saw as it was just as stiff and hard-hitting as people expected it to be. By the end of the match, Walter was the one with his chest beet red as Ciampa lit Walter up with chops of his own after he worked over the hand of Walter in order to take away his ability to throw chops with his dominant hand, however, Walter fought through the pain in order to unleash one final chop which was enough to keep Ciampa down and allow Walter’s reign of dominance as NXT UK Champion to continue.
While Walter’s championship reign will continue the same cannot be said for Io Shirai as she lost her championship to Raquel Gonzalez after a hard-fought match which saw Io withstand a lot of punishment at the hands of Raquel. Throughout the match, Io kept fighting (including jumping off the giant skull that was part of the entrance set) and at points, it even looked like she may pull out the win over her much larger challenger but at the end of the day, a huge lariat and a one-armed powerbomb was enough to keep the Genius of the Sky down for the 3 count.
The Gauntlet Eliminator was a lot of fun as it started hot with Isaiah Scott jumping Leon Ruff during his entrance and the match never slowed down after that. Bronson Reed was the third entrant and he had a really good 3 minute run with Scott and Ruff as both men did a really good job of selling for him especially Leon Ruff who was a true gem in this match as the way he would bump around was both amazing and scary at the same time as I thought he was seriously hurt a couple of times. Cameron Grimes is out fourth and we see him give Scott money and that leads to the two of them teaming up for a bit until Scott pins Grimes to eliminate him. Surprisingly, Isaiah Scott ends up lasting to the end with Bronson Reed, but despite his best efforts Scott was not able to put the big Aussie away as Reed hits him with a powerbomb and then finishes him off with the Tsunami splash off the top to pick up the win and earn the right to face Johnny Gargano on night 2.
In the pre-show, we saw Zoey Stark continue to impress everyone as she gained a big victory over former NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm in yet another hard-fought match and it’s clear that Triple H sees something in her and she is going to be a big star in the NXT women’s division for the next several years. On the flipside we see Toni Storm suffering yet another loss which leads many to believe that she could be Raw or SmackDown bound very soon and to that, I say it’s about time as she really didn’t need this pit stop in NXT and should’ve gone straight up from NXT UK. Toni Storm has star written all over and has the potential to be a huge star on the main roster and not only is she very good in the ring, but she has a very marketable look and persona.
The show started with a match to determine the best technical wrestler in NXT as Pete Dunne took on Kushida and after both men traded many submissions as well as some hard strikes we see Pete Dunne put away Kushida with the Bitter End. We also saw MSK outlast Legado del Fantasma and Grizzled Young Veterans to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions in a really good match filled with some fun and creative spots.
Overall I would say that Night 1 was a success as all of the matches delivered and some like the Walter vs Ciampa match over-delivered.
NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver Night 2 Results
- Drake Maverick & Killian Dain def Breezango – **
- Santos Escobar © def Jordan Devlin © (NXT Cruiserweight Championship Unification Ladder Match) – ***
- Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon © def The Way (NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship) – **¾
- Johnny Gargano © w/ Austin Theory def Bronson Reed (NXT North American Championship) – ****
- Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett def Finn Balor © (NXT Championship) – ***
- Kyle O’Reilly def Adam Cole (Unsanctioned Match) – ***¾
I have to be honest and admit that for me Night 2 of Takeover was nowhere near the quality that Night 1 was and I think it has to do with some of the matches going longer than they needed to which seems to be a trend for Takeover shows over the last couple of years.
I thought the opening ladder match was good, but I wasn’t amazed like I expected to be since this was a ladder match and that could be due to the fact that both competitors are heels and neither man is someone I really care that much about. I think Escobar was the right choice to come out of the match as the Undisputed WWE Cruiserweight Champion as there are more challengers on this side of the pond for him to work with than there would be for Devlin over in the UK.
The Women’s Tag Team Championship match was fine but without any real story leading to it there wasn’t much reason to care as it was pretty predictable that Ember & Shotzi were going to retain. I do love the team of Shotzi and Ember as they are really fun and I love the whole post-apocalyptic gimmick they have.
My favorite match of the night was up next as we saw Johnny Gargano (who was wearing his Iron Man gear) retain his NXT North American Championship against the winner of the previous night’s gauntlet Bronson Reed. I’m a sucker for the big man vs little man matches and I thought both men played their roles perfectly in this match.
The last two matches are when I started to really lose interest in this show as first off we have Balor vs Kross and just like in the opener I am not a fan of either of these guys. I am very hot and cold on Balor but more cold than hot as it takes a lot for me to get interested in him and I still to this day do not get the hype around him, but that is just my opinion. This match didn’t do it for me as I found it to be kind of boring and although the match only lasted around 17 minutes it felt like it went closer to 30. Although I’m not the biggest Kross fan I am interested to see what he does as champion since his first run got cut short, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of big boy matches for the title with Kross going against Walter or Bronson Reed.
The main event Unsanctioned Match between Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole was really good, but the reason it lost me was that it went way way way too long as there is no reason a match should go 40 minutes. Why should a match between two men who absolutely hate each other go 40 minutes shouldn’t the damage they are doing to each other be so brutal that there is no way their opponent should keep fighting for that long?
There was a nasty bump where O’Reilly goes to suplex Cole on the announce table but it doesn’t break and Cole just bounces off of it to the floor. We then got a spot straight from the indies where Cole and O’Reilly are sitting down in chairs in the middle of the ring and start trading forearms voluntarily with neither man trying to block the other. We even got both men going through the entrance ramp and even that wasn’t enough to finish the match as they continue for at least another 10 minutes and by this point, I’m ready for the match to end. After a suplex onto the steps, O’Reilly hitting Cole with the Last Shot, and then finally O’Reilly coming off the top with a knee to the back of Cole’s head while he has a chain wrapped around his knee we see O’Reilly pick up the win.
This match was the poster child for overindulgent which as I said before seems to be a trend for some of the Takeover matches over the past couple of years especially the ones involving Adam Cole, I’m not saying the matches he is in are bad but less is more and this match could’ve definitely benefited from far less.
Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled with this show but if you want to read about two shows I was high on keep reading as the next two shows are a whole lot better.
- Tyler Bate w/ Trent Seven def Noam Dar w/ Sha Samuels (NXT UK Heritage Cup #1 Contender Match – Heritage Cup Rules) – ***¼
- Meiko Satomura & Emilia McKenzie def Kay Lee Ray & Isla Dawn – ***
- Walter © vs Rampage Brown (NXT UK Championship) – ****¼
The show opened with a Heritage Cup rules match between Tyler Bate and Noam Dar where the winner would become the #1 contender to A-Kid’s Heritage Cup.
For those who are unaware of what the Heritage Cup Rules are they are basically the World of Sports British Rounds Rules
- The match is contested in rounds – There are 6 rounds each lasting 3 minutes
- There is a 20-second break between rounds
- The match is contested under ⅔ falls rules – Falls can occur by pinfall, submission, or count-out
- If a knockout or disqualification occurs the match is over immediately.
- When a fall occurs that round is automatically over.
- If all six rounds are complete without either competitor scoring two falls then the one in the lead wins.
Tyler Bate gets the first fall pretty quickly within the first round as he catches Dar with a roll-up by surprise after some nice European-style chain wrestling between Dar and Bate. In the second round, Dar starts to work over the leg of Bate which would continue to bother Bate throughout the rest of the match. Through the fourth round and Bate still has the lead but early in the fifth round, we see Dar go back to the injured leg as he locks in a knee-bar which Bate taps out to and ties the match at 1-1. In the final round, we see the seconds for both men get involved which leads to Bate taking out everyone at ringside with a dive to the outside. Dar sends Bate into the steps and looks to finish him off with the Nova Roller, but Bate counters and hits the Tyler Driver 97 to pick up his second fall to win the match.
This was a really fun match and I have really come to love the Heritage Cup rules as it is completely different than anything else we see in WWE and it brings new psychology to matches and I am so glad they decided to bring these rules into NXT UK. I look forward to the Bate vs A-Kid match in the future.
The next match saw Meiko Satomura and Emilia McKenzie beat Isla Dawn and the NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray.
This match got a lot more time than I expected it to which I was happy to see as I feel the women’s division in NXT UK needs a little more time devoted to it as it is not quite on the level of NXT proper but it is quickly getting there. I wasn’t that excited about the NXT UK Women’s Division going into this year as I felt like it really took a blow after losing both Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm as it felt like the only real challenger to KLR was Piper Niven, but over the past month the division has really started to build back up with the additions of Emilia McKenzie and the legend Meiko Satomura as well as the resurgence of Aofie Valkyrie and they could soon be joined by the rumored arrival of Bea Priestley.
This was my first time seeing Emilia McKenzie in action after seeing so much about her and I have to say that I was very impressed as she didn’t feel out of place in a match also involving Meiko Satomura and Kay Lee Ray. I also thought Emilia and Meiko worked very well as a team. After the match, we saw Aoife Valkyrie come out on the stage and pull out a feather and lay it on the stage as it seems like we are going to get a Meiko Satomura vs Aoife Valkyrie match in the future.
Before I get to the main event I have to mention a few things that happened in between the matches with the most notable being a video package on Ilja Dragunov who I have quickly become a fan of after his performance in the 5-star classic match against Walter back in October as well as a No DQ match he had with Sam Gradwell a few weeks ago. We also saw Amir Jordan looking for Kenny Williams who turned on him last week but was told by Sid Scala that Williams wasn’t there, but next week it will be Amir Jordan vs Kenny Williams.
The streak of Walter stealing the show continues this week and this time he retained his championship in a hard-hitting match against Rampage Brown who is almost as big and equally as badass as Walter is. This was the definition of a slobber knocker as these two hit each other with everything they had to the point where Walter couldn’t put Rampage down with the Powerbomb and had to resort to the splash off the top. While Rampage didn’t come out successful on this night I do feel he will be the one to finally take the title off of Walter but I think they want to wait until fans are allowed back and do it on an NXT UK Takeover.
This may be a hot take but out of the two shows that happened on Thursday this was by far my favorite of the two as this was a quick 1hr 7min and nothing on the show went longer than it should have which is more than I can say for the 2nd night of Takeover.
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode © def The Mysterios, The Alpha Academy, & The Street Profits (SmackDown Tag Team Championship) – **½
- Tamina w/ Natalya def Nia Jax w/ Shayna Baszler & Reginald via DQ – **
- Jey Uso wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal – **½
This episode of SmackDown was centered around a lot of promos and video packages which makes sense as there aren’t many matches left that would really get people to care just one night before a two-night WrestleMania.
The three main promos of the night came from the three participants in this Sunday’s Universal Championship match as they each gave one last fiery promo as to why they deserve to be in the match and why they will walk out of WrestleMania as the Universal Champion and although all three promos had the same basis they were all completely different as Bryan’s promo was inspirational and got you hyped to see the match, Edge’s promo was one of entitlement and how everyone owes him something and the Reigns promo was about continuing the dominant run he has had since August and how easily he is just going to show up and win on Sunday. All three of these promos were superb and did a fantastic job of selling the importance of the match on Sunday.
They showed a really great video of Big E going around Tampa and talking about how that is his home and that is where Apollo Crews’ journey to become Intercontinental Champion comes to an end.
We saw a video that was made to look like a political attack ad that tears down Cesaro and talks up Seth Rollins.
For the final hype of the Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn match we saw Zayn going to a gym where Logan Paul was training and he was acting like they were best friends but then he ends up getting locked out of the gym. Zayn runs over to the announce table to complain about the video not showing everything but he ends up getting cut off by the entrants to the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and then is attacked by KO until Zayn is able to block a Stunner attempt and run away.
We got a couple of short promos by Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to hype their match but neither promo was that outstanding as it was a lot of the same things we have been hearing for the past couple of weeks.
We did get some in-ring action on this special WrestleMania edition of SmackDown as Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler retained their tag titles in a four-way against The Alpha Academy, The Street Profits, & The Mysterios which was a bit surprising as most were expecting them to drop the title to the Mysterios, but I guess they are waiting to do that for when we have live crowds in attendance.
We saw a battle of the titans as Tamina picked up a DQ win over her cousin Nia Jax when Shayna Baszler interfered in the match and this would lead to all of the teams in the gauntlet match getting into a brawl in the back with Natalya and Tamina standing tall.
The last match of the night was the Andre the Giant Battle Royal which saw Jey Uso last eliminate Shinsuke Nakamura to pick up the win. Out of all the Andre Battle Royals they have had this one felt like it had the thinnest number of possible winners as it was really only Uso, Nakamura, Corbin, Ali, and maybe Ricochet that felt like they had a chance to win.
Overall I really enjoyed this show and I think more go-home episodes should end like this as it did a great job of giving WrestleMania that final push for people who may be on the fence as to whether they want to watch it or not and I think if I were someone on the fence I would want to watch after watching this episode of SmackDown.
Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame was a much easier watch this year and even though it clocked in at 3 hours it never felt like it dragged, in fact, there were some speeches I wish were allowed to go longer as we didn’t get anywhere near enough content from some of the inductees. Due to the shortened length of the speeches, there were no moments that really stood out like in years prior as they were all pretty much got to the part where they thanked everyone right away and didn’t tell any fun stories. Another reason why this show felt like it flew by was that there were four inductees who had pretaped speeches that aired over the tron and those were two minutes each. WWE should take note from this year’s ceremony and change how they pace the shows in the future as I think it was clear by the end of this show that we don’t need inductors giving speeches which can sometimes go just as long if not longer than the speech the inductee gives, the video packages do a great job of giving the history of the inductee and explaining why they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
The first half of the show which focussed on the 2020 class was hosted by Jerry Lawler while the second part focussing on the 2021 class was hosted by Kayla Braxton & Corey Graves.
This year there were no wrestlers out in the arena like in years past, but throughout the night we got superstars interviewed about their thoughts on certain inductees while they were on the red carpet dressed to impress.
While they weren’t announced prior to the show we did see WWE acknowledge and honor ten more legends (five for each year) in the Legacy part of the Hall of Fame and those legends were:
“The Crippler” Ray Stevens
Dr. Death Steve Williams
Baron Michelle Leon
Dick the Bruiser
“Pistol” Pez Whatley
“Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer
Hours before SmackDown came on the air on Friday there were two very important tweets posted in regards to the first night of WrestleMania.
The first tweet was sent out by WWE and it confirmed that for the first time in history two African-American women will be in the main event a WrestleMania as Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair will be headlining that first night.
The second tweet was sent out by Becky Lynch and is shows her working out and in the caption, it says “Nothing Is Guaranteed Here Tonight Only Now Eternally which has led people to speculate that perhaps “The Man” is looking to make a comeback this Saturday evening and perhaps she is the reason why Bayley doesn’t have a match as she is scheduled to be in a segment involving Becky.
Coming up this week:
The fallout of WrestleMania 37
The fallout of NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver
The debut of Franky Monet (Taya Valkyrie)
Amir Jordan vs Kenny Williams
Nathan Frazer vs Saxon Huxley
Super Nove Sessions with Gallus
The fallout of WrestleMania 37
I hope you enjoyed my first week as the author of This Week in WWE and while it may not be exactly what you’re used to reading from John I hope you enjoyed it. If for some reason you didn’t enjoy it then I ask you to please be patient because I will learn from my mistakes and improve over time and hopefully within a few weeks or months I will have this article back to the caliber you were used to reading when John was over it. I ask you to please send any feedback you may have to my Twitter @MTW3589 whether it is positive or critical because without your feedback I won’t know what I need to improve on or change completely.
That’s all for this week, but I’ll be back next week with my reactions to both nights of WrestleMania as well as all of the fallout that will be felt throughout all four brands that are under the WWE umbrella.