It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s the Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, out to hop about the place while Paul Heyman yells about how unbeatable, unstoppable, and unconquerable the champion is. Roman Reigns, however, shows up and fires back by saying he’ll be leaving with the belt after the Greatest Royal Rumble. I mean, sure, sick burn, bro.
Bobby Roode, still playing the awkward face role, goes head-to-head to Raw’s newest top heel, Elias, and loses. Not just loses, though; Elias kind of…I dunno, smacks him off the top and middle ropes a bit while he’s on the apron and then rolls him up with a handful of tights. That was a very odd and awkward finish to the match; I guess it’s okay because Elias obviously cheated (or, at least, took the easy way out) to win but I don’t exactly expect this feud to set the world on fire.
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt cement their newfound partnership some more in what, in my world (/WWE 2K18 Universe Mode), would have been a massive, over-the-top, ongoing feud involving weapons, then cages, maybe even a TLC match but, instead, is just yet another nail in the coffin that is the Ascension’s main roster career. I guess that the move to Raw isn’t going to be the big restart to their career after all. Also, I know last week I criticised the Sister Abigail-into-the-Twist of Fate finish but Bray simply holding the opponent by the midsection while Matt hits his finisher is also kinda lame, too.
Skipping over Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn replacing Miz TV because not a lot really happened, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre looked to cement their newfound partnership by taking out Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. Didn’t Titus Worldwide fill this role just last week with Matt and Bray? I mean, sure, they shouldn’t be pushed much beyond being jobbers to other teams but couldn’t we have gotten some local talent in for this? Also, though, the Claymore into the Zig-Zag is a pretty explosive tandem finisher.
Now that he’s on Raw, Chad Gable’s brief flirtation with being a heel is apparently over and he got a match against Jinder Mahal to emphasise that. Remember when I pegged Gable as a real contender for the United States Championship? Yeah, how did that work out? Interestingly, Gable managed to win by cartwheeling up the turnbuckle to counter the Khallas and tie Jinder up in a pin fall. I say “interestingly” because the announcers treated it like it was a major upset and a huge win for gable; I mean, I guess that is true because Mahal is still a former WWE Champion and United States Champion but…still, it’s Jinder Mahal!
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn get welcomed to Raw in the worst way next, taking on Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. Oh, look, Lashley can be Strowman’s partner after all. So, basically, this was an excuse for the two big guys to power through some opponents, which they did with glorious pleasure. I have to say, though, that I really dislike the Lashley is apparently using a Delayed Vertical Suplex as his finisher. It’s not like Reigns has the monopoly on the Spear, and Lashley does his much differently/better, but why can’t Lashley use the Dominator again?
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor (also, I’m happy to see, teaming up with pleasing regularity) then made short work of the now leaderless remnants of the Miz-tourage, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, helping to remind everyone that those two bozos will never be taken seriously.
Wow, there sure were a lot of tag team matches on this week’s show, and that continues with the main event, which pits Bayley, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, and Natalya taking on Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Ruby Riott, Alexa Bliss, and Mickie James. So this match is apparently the WWE’s attempt at compensation for the women not being allowed at the Greatest Royal Rumble due to it being held in Saudi Arabia. The match went to a disqualification, though, when Ronda Rousey came out to defend Natalya and ended up clamping Mickie in the Arm Bar. Apparently, the WWE is planning to debut a Tag Team Championship for the women soon, which may help to give some rhyme and reason to all of these multi-woman tag team matches we’ve been inundated with over the last year or so but can the WWE’s disparate brands really support two sets of Women’s Tag Team titles when they struggle to support the men’s?
The Miz brings Miz TV to SmackDown! Live to address the elephant in the room: his issues with Daniel Bryan. Instead of Bryan, though, Big Cass comes out in a spiffy coat to talk shit about Bryan and how he’s nothing but a vanilla midget. Cass was really channelling Edge here with his inflections and really showed that he is pretty impressive on the mic. Now, if only he would drop the “Big” from his name, get slightly different in-ring gear and music, he could be a big star in the way that Test should have been.
Asuka and Becky Lynch went up against Billie Kay and Peyton Royce next, which led to a win for the Iconics after Peyton rolls up Becky. This was a pretty strong debut match for the Iconics, who are being showcased as a legitimate threat so far but doesn’t this count as another loss for Asuka?
Jimmy Uso finally manages to earn some retribution on the Bludgeon Brothers when, after Naomi causes a bit of a slutty distraction, he gets a win over Rowan. Afterwards, once Charlotte and Carmella have signed their rematch contract and done the obligatory contract scuffle, Randy Orton took on Shelton Benjamin in a match that, unfortunately, did not see Shelton eat a massive RKO after some kind of springboard move. Instead, Sunil Singh ran out in a mash and attacked Jeff Hardy (didn’t I mention that he was doing guest commentary?), distracting Orton long enough for Shelton to his the Pay Dirt and get the win. Now that was a big win over a former established competitor!
Finally, we see the uniting of the AJ Styles version of Bullet Club as Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson team up against Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, and Aiden English, now, I don’t necessarily really like this; just because Nakamura is a heel now (with a suitably heelish remix of his theme music), that doesn’t mean he should be pally-pally with other heels. If anything, Nakamura should have gone into business for himself and not taken par tin any tags or anything. Anyway, Nakamura gets the win for his team after landing the Kinshasa on Gallows and, afterwards, once again hits Styles in the dick and then kicks the shit out of Anderson with two Kinshasas.
Triple H vs. John Cena
So this match is out of nowhere and with absolutely no build, which is the story for quite a few matches on this card. Coming off his humiliating defeat at the hands of the Undertaker, I guess it would make sense for Cena to get the win here as what possible benefit could there be to Triple H winning? Neither men really have anything happening at the moment though, but only one of them tends to stick to at least a part-time in-ring schedule so, yeah, I’ll pick John Cena for this one.
WWE United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
Another theme for this event is the settling of the dust from the Superstar Shake-Up, meaning we get “co-branded” matches like this one. I’m not massively convinced that Jinder should have dropped the belt in his debut match on Raw as a title change here would, at least, have established him with a bit of a run. Instead, I don’t see Jeff losing the belt here as he seems to be at the beginning of his next big singles push (before he screws it up with an injury or some kind of run in with the law) so I’ll hedge my bets on Jeff Hardy to retain.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Kalisto
One of the drawbacks to not really following/caring about 205 Live and the cruiserweights apparently banned from Raw these days is that I had no idea that Kalisto was back in the title hunt. Seems kind of a step back considering all the fresh, hungry talent available; with that in mind, I’m guessing that Cedric Alexander will hold on to the belt here.
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt
So, apparently, this is what all of the feuding between Matt and Bray was leading to: not a full-on war between the Broken Hardys and the Wyatt family, but a random team up of two crazy guys. Bray as a face seems really odd to me and the way they did it seems even weirder but it’s getting him back on the radar, I guess…unfortunately, the once WWE Champion is now reduced to the tag team ranks when he should really be dominating the main event as the sadistic, depraved leader of a brainwashed cult. Anyway, with the Bar now on SmackDown! Live, it seems all but obvious that Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt will win the titles here.
WWE SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The Usos
I’m still really happy to see the belts on a different team for once; Harper and Rowan definitely needed to win them to justify and capitalise on their dominant new run as a team. I’m hoping that this will be the last time we see the Usos challenging for the belts for a while (and no, I don’t want to see the fucking New Day replace them!) I’d like to see the Bludgeon Brothers keep the belts for a while longer and enter into a no-nonsense, kick-ass feud with the Club and/or SAnitY.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Samoa Joe
It’s so weird seeing Miz and Joe still be in the running for a Raw championship but that’s the bullshit nature of the Superstar Shake-Up, I guess. I expect this to be the show-stealer of the night, with some wild, crazy spots but, in the end, I suspect that a proper, big time feud between Balor and Rollins over the belt is coming so my money is on Seth Rollins.
Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Rusev
Well, I assume it’ll be against Rusev, unless the WWE changes their minds again. This another of those weird, random, pointless matches with no build or reason behind it. I guess Rusev is supposed to appear to be a big deal just for being in this match but a squash is a squash and a burial is still a burial, remember that when the Undertaker stands triumphant.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
So the “dream match” from WrestleMania wasn’t all that, in the end, but now, retroactively, could have been just the first step in a bigger picture. Now that Nakamura has turned full-blown heel, it kind of seems like the WWE needs to capitalise on that new-found attitude or else it’ll all be for nothing and no one will take Nakamura seriously. I’m thinking Shinsuke Nakamura will win and we’ll get a massive rubber match at Backlash, possibly with some kind of gimmick.
WWE Universal Championship Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
And here we are again! Apparently, in this day and age, you can summarily and quite decisively get your bitch-ass handed to you with no question at all and still get an automatic rematch. Seriously, Roman really should have earned his rematch by winning some kind of four-way match or something. He could have pre-emptively attacked Lesnar and provoked him into accepting a rematch, but of course that would actually require Lesnar to turn up to work! I’m not sure how close Lesnar is to breaking CM Punk’s championship reign but surely the WWE has to pull the trigger on Reigns here, after all this bullshit? I’m going to say yes; have Roman Reigns win, get the belt off Lesnar, and at least then it’s a hell of a lot easier to get the belt off of Reigns if need be than it is your super rare special attraction.
Fifty-Man Greatest Royal Rumble Match: Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Braun Strowman vs. The Big Show vs. Kurt Angle vs. Elias vs. Baron Corbin vs. Big E vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Xavier Woods vs. Apollo Crews vs. Titus O’Neil vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chad Gable vs. Sin Cara vs. Goldust vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry vs. The Great Khali vs. Others
Okay, the first question I have is: why the fuck is Shane McMahon in this fucking match for fuck’s bloody fucking sake!? Seriously! Get the hell over it, the man does not belong in the ring! Secondly, is this really the “Greatest Royal Rumble”? Haven’t we seen a fifty man Rumble before? And, finally, what does the winner get? A trophy? So it’s more a glorified Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale than an actual Royal Rumble? The winner doesn’t even get some kind of title shot? Ugh, well, I don’t know who could possibly win this one so I’m going pick either Braun Strowman or Bobby Lashley and hope that they, or whoever wins, will actually be first in line to challenge for some kind of belt.