I was out of town for the weekend, so today was when I decided to binge this crammed week of wrestling shows I missed. Smackdown was pretty packed this week since the weather prevented whatever the original plans were for Raw. My favorite thing from this show though was Triple H’s opening segment. This was a man who knew the heat he had stepping out, how angry a lot of people were still over the Royal Rumble. The COO worked the crowd perfectly, barely missing a step as he came close to addressing everything, but just brushing on all of the stuff he needed to leave for Raw, and remained entertaining in the process. The rest of the show was not bad, and it ended with a fun casket match that gave Bryan a chance to shine. I also like that we did not see Kane on Raw, making it seem like the match took a lot out of him. Watching this episode of Smackdown and enjoying it reminded me that Raw needs to be two hours again, and I was glad to hear that Triple H agrees with me.
Lucha Underground was great once again, but I really want to know what those watching think of Cage.
NXT has been great the last couple of weeks with the buildup to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, Charlotte defending her title in a fatal four way, and the tournament for the number one contender spot. This has been a classic show of technique for getting the fans invested, and this is still my favorite thing to watch each week (with Arrow coming in a close second). Are we doing a stalker storyline with Tyler Breeze, and is that related to the odd interruption/glitch this past week? The newest one said had the name Solomon, so we may be seeing a debut at next week’s big event. Blake and Murphy’s entrance makes me dizzy, but I saw some good stuff from them and the Lucha Dragons. Congratulations to the new champions. Tyson Kidd and Neville delivered a fantastic match as always, and I was a bit surprised Corbin won as easily as he did. He could have been an interesting element in the tournament, but we are continuing the feud with Bull I suppose—not a bad way to do it though. I am sure you all remember how much I love tournaments, and this one promises to be awesome. Something that really stood out to me though was Emma’s promo where she admits that things did not go well for her on the main roster. It says a lot about how much reality is coming into the storyline and also pushes the idea that some NXT talents cannot cut it on the big show, at least not with certain gimmicks. The loss to Carmella was not a great start, but maybe she will use that anger for something cool. Finally—I do not think I have to say much about Itami versus Bálor. It was pure wrestling goodness with a cool ending. If every match in WWE was like that one we would all be left breathless. It was just damn good.
Raw was good, but a tad chaotic. That first hour felt like there was little direction and honestly some filler, but the final two hours were quite enjoyable. With that said, there were a few nice highlights. I love the team of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, who had an awesome uppercut on Jimmy Uso coming off the top. Also, Kidd’s cheap shot at the end made me want to hate them—but I cannot harbor feelings against The Masters of the Universe. Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler had an amazing match, and Bray needed the win for that interesting promo. I honestly enjoyed the comedy segment with Miz and Mizdown, and am glad creative is taking their time to break the pair up. It should be fun, and I hope Sandow lands on his feet after this all goes down. Paige and the Bellas are luring me into this feud, and I think those two could have a great match given time. Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins closed the show out with an energetic and well-paced main event with some cool spots, and it made no one look weak. With that said, I absolutely hate that Roman Reigns has to defend his title shot at Fast Lane. Not only does it diminish the stance of future Royal Rumble victors, but if WWE believes this will help Reigns be seen as proving himself, I want them to know that this is not the way. I like Reigns. I do not really care about him much in this main event, but his chance should not be stripped like that. That would be bad booking in the long run.
I am happy that Ambrose is going after the IC title against Wade Barrett, and think this would make an excellent feud, with me being indecisive on who I would want to see win overall. I like both of these guys. I like that Cena is going after the US title even more. I have been saying for quite a while that bringing a main event talent to vie for that belt would raise its prestige if done right, and I hope this does it, but I also would hate to see Rusev get squashed.
“I was holding onto that championship before you had pubes, and you had boobs.”
The best part of Raw was just after it, on the network though. These live Austin podcasts are truly gold for multiple reasons, but the big part is the out of character honesty. Between this and the new WWE 24—which was good—fans are getting quite the look behind the curtain. It was a bit odd to hear Triple H say Kayfabe was dead so casually. Although it is dead in reality, I love those wrestlers who still barely break character. I found myself agreeing with a lot of things the COO said, and glad that he was candid when discussing Vince and what makes a superstar, but I think hearing Triple H say that women wrestlers needed more time on the shows was one of the best parts.
The part that sat a bit odd with me was the discussion about Chyna. I have to wonder if there really is no ‘beef’ there, and I agree that the entire discussion seemed a tad hypocritical. I understood HHH’s point though, referencing his eight year old daughter, but are we really that far removed from the company celebrating divas being in Playboy? Her career should be celebrated, and I was happy to see Chyna had a classy response to it all. I think this is an interesting quandary for the company but I also am not a huge fan of holding life choices against former talent. How many times has the company paid the bill for multiple rehab stays for talents, even for someone like Scott Hall, who was recently inducted into the hall of fame? Many will say this is not comparable, but it is certainly worth thinking about. I hope these live podcasts continue with various guests and continue to inspire discussions.
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