This Week In Wrestling

ThisWeekInWrestling

 Raw

Screw Royal Rumble winners like Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka and World Champions, Raw opens with the real WrestleMania main event as Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stage a phony press conference, of sorts, to run down Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle one last time. Steph brings everything in her smarmy bitch arsenal to really bring the heat to the boil, so Rousey threatens to yank her arm off. Very eloquent. Triple H decks Angle again and Steph slams Rousey through a table for a bit of payback from Elimination Chamber. The best part was when, after being slammed through the table, Rousey just kind of lay there looking up at Steph with a weird expression on her face that was like, “Am I mad? Am I hurt? What am I?” Hopefully her crisis works itself out enough to have a semi-decent match at WrestleMania.

Bayley took on Sonya Deville one more time, and even scored the win, but got jumped and beaten up by Absolution after the match. Sasha Banks made the save a demanded that Bayley raised her arm in thanks, so Bayley initiated another brawl that Absolution took full advantage of to build some attention for the women’s battle royale.

The WrestleMania match I was asking for once Jason Jordan got injured happened as Seth Rollins took on Finn Balor, with the Miz on commentary. After stealing the show, as I would expect, Rollins teased Powerbombing Balor into the barricade again but he escaped, tried for the Coup de Grâce, and ended up eating the Blackout Stomp. This was a really fantastic match; why the WWE decided to screw Balor over this year I’ll never know as these two guys represent the future of the WWE and need more of this and less burials and short-changing.

Cesaro and Sheamus taunted Braun Strowman (always a good idea) and criticised his chances of a) finding a tag team partner and b) of victory, as he and his partner won’t be “a team” (the fact that the Bar weren’t really “a team” when they first formed apparently slipped their minds). Strowman came out and claimed to have found a partner, his twin brother Brains Strowman – literally, Strowman threw on a shirt and glasses and beat the crap out of Cesaro and Sheamus. That was amazing!

Oh, and Matt Hardy beat Goldust and conversed with the Andre the Giant trophy…moving on, John Cena may as well be talking to an inanimate object as, once again, he popped out to cry about how the Undertaker hasn’t answered his  extremely arrogant and unjustified challenge for WrestleMania. After taunting him some more and tried to will his appearance through the crowd, Cena claimed that the Undertaker had left his balls at home and apparently resolved to attending WrestleMania as a fan.

Elias defeated Heath Slater but, more interestingly, Braun Strowman threw Curt Hawkins through a wall for daring to suggest that he be his partner, and Nia Jax promised to squash Alexa Bliss like a bug. Afterwards, Asuka teamed up with…Dana Brooke…? (that’s….really random…) to take on Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. Obviously, Asuka and Brooke won and, after the match, Nia saved them from a bit of a beat down but…why the hell is Asuka still on Raw when she’s challenging for the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship and, seriously, Dana Brooke!?

In anticipation for what would surely be a blockbuster main event of Paul Heyman jaw-jacking on Brock Lesnar’s behalf with Roman Reigns, whatever jobbers and losers are left over block the aisle way to try and control the oh-so-escalating rivalry between these two. Ooh, that’s some cutting sarcasm. Anyway, Reigns predictably comes out and manages to convince the chumps to stand aside because Reigns=full-timer and Lesnar=part-timer. Brock grabs a chair but Reigns manages to best him with five Superman Punches! Lesnar gets up every single time and every time, Reigns lands another because he knows nothing else, apparently. Then, as he’s posing with the Universal Championship, Lesnar jumps up, completely no-sells the “assault” and plants Reigns’ bitch-ass with an F5 to conclude a lacklustre Raw.

SmackDownLive

Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon make Doctor Shelby proud by hugging it out and putting aside their issues in order to focus on their poorly-conceived tag team match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and WrestleMania. I guess that means they’re back to being united against these guys then.

Natalya took on Charlotte Flair in a non-title match, despite having a legitimate claim after having pinned Charlotte not that long ago. This was Charlotte’s last competitive match to push her as a fighting, proud champion and she of course took the victory. Afterwards, Asuka pulled double-duty and said what basically amounted to, “I will win!” before Charlotte shot back with, “No, I will win!” Truly, Oscar Wilde is turning in his grave.

So the reunion between Jinder Mahal and Rusev from last week is officially over; as if the punctuate that, Rusev fought against Jinder and got the win after the Machka Kick. Interesting dynamic here as, even though Rusev is getting massive cheers, isn’t he technically still a heel? Immediately afterwards, Randy Orton plants him, and Aiden English, with an RKO and then has a bit of a stare down with Bobby Roode.

I was just about to go into a rant about Dolph Ziggler and how he’s doing nothing and, here he is, randomly teaming with Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley, and…Primo Colon (seriously? What is this, Bizarro World?!) against Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze, Fandango, and Tye Dillinger. So, how stupid does Ziggler look? He turned heel after losing all the time, lost all the time, randomly won the United States Championship, even randomlier vacated the belt, main evented at Fastlane out of nowhere, and now he’s teaming with two nobodies and a guy he had a dull and never-ending feud with? Surely, if he’d kept the United States Championship, he would be, at least, involved in the title match at WrestleMania instead of this nonsense? Also, what was the bloody point of Mojo’s heel turn again? I expected him to get some kind of aggressive push out of it but, instead, he’s done nothing and don’t even get me started on Tye Dillinger! Every one of these guys should be doing more; how bloody hard is it to build feuds around the mid-card title? And…and…where the fuck is Mike Kanellis!? Ugh, well, anyway, the heels won this match to attempt to create some kind of intrigue around the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale.

After Owens and Zayn gatecrash the arena to promise a victory at WrestleMania, and after having each promised a victory in separate sit-down interviews, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura teamed up in the main event against Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. Now, this makes a bit more sense; I’d like to see that this is the reason Shelton and Gable faced these guys separately prior to this match but I just don’t trust the WWE’s long-term booking plans. This was all about how Nakamura and AJ actually work pretty well as a team; the match ended when AJ cheekily hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Gable right next to Nakamura. Afterwards, Gable and Shelton attacked Nakamura so AJ fought them off; then, incredibly, he flew at Nakamura with the Phenomenal Forearm but stopped just short and mockingly patted him on the head as a bit of payback for last week.

WrestleMania
Predictions:

Quick opener: I will be watching WrestleMania live on the WWE Network on Sunday night, offering live tweets and opinions throughout the event. If you want to get involved with me during this, follow me on Twitter or keep an eye on my Facebook page/group.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale: Primo Colon vs. Zack Ryder vs. Rhyno vs. Heath Slater vs. Goldust vs. Matt Hardy vs. Scott Dawson vs. Dash Wilder vs. Tye Dillinger vs. Fandango vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Others
It’s been, I want to say, three…four…?…years since the WWE first brought this clusterfuck of a match to WrestleMania and I still do not see the point of it. Where is the incentive to win when, if anything, winning means less of a push than before? All this is is a poor excuse to throw anyone not doing anything onto the card and it’s a bit of a waste, to be honest. Why can’t the winner be guaranteed a title shot of their choice, or something? At least then we get something out it. Anyway, I kind of expect Bray Wyatt to make a dramatic comeback in this match, maybe with a stable, and attack Matt Hardy but I’m gonna go with….oooh…Tye Dillinger to win and, hopefully, get back on track towards some kind of push or…anything!

Fabulous Moolah Memorial WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royale: Carmella vs. Sonya Deville vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan vs. Sarah Logan vs. Ruby Riott vs. Lana vs. Natalya vs. Others
See above for more details.

Oh, wait, there’s more to talk about? Okay, how about the exquisite hilarity of naming this pointless attempt at bringing equality after a woman seeped in controversy when you must have know that it would piss people off and how about the fact that there’s even less reason to care about this match as all of these women are interchangeable and have been completely lost in a sea of multi-person matches over the last year? Also, all that effort in building a rivalry between Sasha Banks and Bayley and they just end up getting tossed in here like it’s nothing? I guess the WWE is planning on paying that off at a less grandiose event. I expect this one to be a dangerous mess of bodies and for, let’s say, Becky Lynch to win, move to Raw, and get a renewed push towards the red version of the championship.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Mustafa Ali vs. Cedric Alexander
Neville and Austin Aries must be shaking their heads in disappointment somewhere as, once again, the cruiserweights get bumped to the pre-show and this is their only real representation at WrestleMania, as well. Anyway, the belt is obviously vacant after that entire debacle with Enzo Amore so this is the culmination of the tournament that, as I understand, has been revitalising 205 Live. I don’t recall either of these guys having won the belt before but, as part of me things Cedric may have, I’m going to pick Mustafa Ali to win.

SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
I heard a rumour the other week that this would be a TLC match but, apparently, that’s not the case as of this writing. There hasn’t been the greatest build around this match as the focus has been solely on the tried and tested rivalry between the Usos and the New Day, with Harper and Rowan squashing guys, sucking all of the heat from Breezango, and suddenly getting involved over the last few weeks. Both tag divisions need some serious shaking up and what better way to do that than by having the Bludgeon Brothers take the titles and go on a dominant run until the Ascension, or some NXT call-up team, knock them from their pedestal at, say, Summerslam?

Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Braun Strowman and a Mystery Partner
This match is one of the reasons I do not trust the WWE’s long-term booking; they have had the perfect opportunity to take full advantage of one of the best tag teams on their roster, the Revival, and one of the biggest teams from Japan, the Club, and do a series of hard-hitting, exciting matches with the Bar for the belts but, instead, none of them get the shot and Strowman has randomly and quite abruptly course-corrected from the main event scene towards the Tag Team Championships. There are so many rumours floating around for Braun’s partner (Big Show, Lars Sullivan, Bray Wyatt, and others); I have no idea who it will be, I just hope that it is someone as Strowman single-handedly winning the titles would be the death-knell for these belts, surely? Therefore, I am hoping against hope that the Bar retain the titles and go on to drop them at Raw’s next pay-per-view after a decent rivalry with a real tag team and then go their separate ways during the Superstar Shake-Up.

Raw Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
It’s not often that my ranting gets listened to but, clearly, someone on the WWE’s booking committee saw my desperate pleas for a dominating Nia Jax push and lazily wrote Asuka away from the Raw Women’s Championship and rushed Nia into that slot. Great news for Nia, but the build has been a bit suspect and mostly revolved around Alexa fat-shaming Nia. I’d like to see Nia Jax win the title, turn back to being a heel, and have a bit of a dominating run squashing birds left, right, and centre.

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
If Owens and Zayn win, they’re back on SmackDown! Live; if they don’t, they’re “fired”. Christ, where to start? First of all, for the last time, Shane McMahon does not belong in matches in 2018! Seriously, all of you people who hate on Stephanie McMahon but praise Shane need to rethink your life philosophies as Shane is even more of a glory hound than his sister, if not more so! When I heard that he needed surgery, I was legitimately hoping that he would not make it to WrestleMania but, instead, here we are; Shane McMahon has a match but Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, the Revival, the Club, etc. etc, etc don’t. I really hope that Bryan slows his style down and doesn’t get too carried away because, even if he has been medically cleared, he’s still fragile and needs to watch himself. I also have no idea what’s going on with this storyline: will Shane to turn heel, maybe because his injury means he can’t do much, and form a partnership with Owens and Zayn or will Owens and Zayn lose and head to Raw and 205 Live, respectively? I think Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will win, but hopefully be separated after the Superstar Shake-Up, and spark a feud between Owens and Bryan going forward.

SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka
Man, there are a lot of women’s matches this year; I guess the women’s revolution really has worked, after all. Similar to the other championship match, this has been an odd build; Asuka took so long to pick her match that I thought she had as she kept going after Alexa Bliss and has had to pull double-duty on Raw and SmackDown! Live even after picking Charlotte. Also, I love how both championship matches involve nobody from either of those massively over-hyped and ineffectual women’s stables we got over the last year. Apparently, the plan is for Asuka to win and go undefeated until next year’s WrestleMania…so I’m picking Carmella to cash in and win over Charlotte similar to Seth Rollins a while back so that the WWE can drag Charlotte and Asuka out for a bit longer.

WWE United States Championship Fatal-Four Way Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev
Man, this match! I had such high hopes for the United States Championship division with Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin, Shelton Benjamin, Mike Kanellis, Chad Gable and the rest. If anyone should be drifting towards tag team wrestling it should be Orton; maybe he and Ziggler should have formed a team or something? I thought we were getting back on track once Roode won the belt but his reign was kind of shite, to be honest, though I still question dropping it to Orton just to make him a Grand Slam Champion. Anyway, the WWE needs to do a complete reboot and give the belt to Rusev and actually take advantage of a superstar’s natural popularity for once!

WWE Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat Match: The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
The real question is: will we see the Demon King at WrestleMania? I bloody well hope so. I admit that I was hoping to see Rollins and Balor feud into WrestleMania but I never imagined the WWE world loop them into the Intercontinental Championship scene. I’m quite excited for this match and think it’ll steal the show, easily. Given that the Miz has just had a baby, and his reign has been a bit overplayed (he needs to move up the card a bit rather than spinning his wheels), I don’t expect him to win and, because I want to see the WWE finally do something with one of their hottest talents, I’m picking Finn Balor to win and enter into a hopefully fantastic feud with Rollins for the belt where they both blur the lines between face and heel.

Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Thank God Rousey is in there with Steph and not an actual female talent because I will be legitimately surprised if Rousey can make it through this match without injuring herself or someone else. I suppose I should be glad that she’s not been handed a title match, and to see Angle back on the big stage, but it bugs me that the build for this match has only really happened in the last few weeks. I’m guessing that, as he’s not facing Mr. WCW (Sting), Triple H feels no inclination to win so Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey will get the victory, maybe with Angle and Triple H facing off again later down the line.

The Undertaker vs. John Cena
Still not an official match, you have to believe that something will happen. Given Cena’s increasing desperation and shady antics as of late, I am actually hoping that the Undertaker simply shows up, hits all his signature moves, and walks away, sparking a turn for Cena. Given how I expect the main event to go, the idea of a far more heelish Cena against Roman Reigns actually has some weight and appeal to it. Honestly, though, just let the Undertaker retire, already!

WWE Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) with Paul Heyman vs. Roman Reigns
This is it, people.

Two years (or whatever) in the making.

The match that everyone wants to see.

The WWE have forced Brock Lesnar down our throats as an unconquerable, unstoppable beast; nobody has kicked out of the F5 for an entire year and he has beaten everyone he has faced. Meanwhile, the WWE have forced Roman Reigns down our throats as a smug, self-entitled, move-spamming bastard; they’ve barely mentioned that he also defeated the Undertaker at WrestleMania, had him beaten up and lose matches all year long, and neutered his signature and finishing manoeuvres by having everyone and their mother kick out of the Superman Punch and Spear (or Spears). I like Reigns, I really do, but his flaws have been really glaring this year; he should have been pushed as equally unconquerable and protected but, instead, in a stupid attempt to get people to cheer him as a sympathetic babyface, the WWE have castrated what should have been a bad-ass, ass-kicking challenger. Ironically, they’ve managed to succeed with Braun Strowman in this regard; why they can’t just transplant that booking onto Reigns is beyond me. Anyway, if you think Reigns isn’t winning then you’re a fall; Roman Reigns will win and, hopefully, the chorus of deafening boos will finally convince Vince McMahon to turn him heel and make him a truly insufferable corporate champion ripe for the dethroning by a plucky, super popular babyface.

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