Roman Reigns kicked things off again this week, however it wasn’t what you think. He came out decked out in street clothes and apologised for not being a fighting champion, then announced that his leukaemia has come back and, as a result, he has to relinquish the Universal Championship to get treatment. In an interesting turn of hypocrisy but overwhelming show of support, the crowd final started cheering for him and showered him with “thank you” chants. He promised to be back as soon as possible and hugged Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins on his way out. This was pretty shocking news to me as I missed any wrestling news last night and I didn’t even realise Roman had struggled with leukaemia in the past. If his treatment is successful, though, and he makes a comeback, he may actually get the hero’s reception and return that the WWE have been striving for the last few years. I mean, it sucks but good luck to him.
The show continued regardless, however, with Bobby Lashey taking on Finn Balor. Lio Rush was back to bouncing around on the outside, yelling into the mic and bringing the hate to Lashley, who dominated but made a fatal error that may be the downfall of this entire heel run: he now stops to pose when he’s in control. As a result, Balor made a comeback and stole a win from a roll-up. I guess we’ll be treated to another inane series of big man/little man contests between these two for the foreseeable future.
Ruby Riott and Sasha Banks were up next, with all of their mates at ringside because Evolution is just around the corner and they’ll all be in involved in a six-woman tag team match. When things broke down on the outside, Sasha decided that she didn’t want Natalya and Bayley to get all the glory and actually tried to join in, which allowed Ruby to get in there with the Riott Kick and pick up a big win. This was great news for Ruby, whose recent momentum was squashed by Ronda Rousey, but I suspect that it won’t amount to much once Evolution rolls around.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels were back in the ring afterwards to continue the hype for their match against Kane and the Undertaker. This week, they were all about emphasising how they aren’t afraid or running for mayor or worried about getting old because they’re dominating modern-day WWE. I mean…you can’t deny that considering how much air time this feud has gotten. Anyway, ‘Taker and Kane interrupted via satellite to show the freshly dug graves they have for DX, which was considerate of them. Afterwards, Paul Heyman tried to get some air time to big up Brock Lesnar but Braun Strowman interrupted him; what we got from this, though, is that Strowman and Lesnar will face each other for the vacant Universal Championship at Crown Jewel, which I guess makes sense. Drew McIntyre showed up out of nowhere to lay Braun out with a Claymore again so maybe…maybe the WWE will not only add him to the match but put the belt on him and turn Braun back to face…that could be good.
Apollo Crews and Elias were at it next in quite the plodding, mind-numbing contest. Apollo worked the power game and looked to have it won but then Elias just hit the Drift Away and that was it. Baron Corbin then randomly came down the ramp and started talking shit to Elias, so Elias smashed his guitar over Baron’s head and, apparently, turned face; weren’t these two on the same page the other week? Man, this Roman thing has sent the WWE into a vortex!
Michael Cole officiated the contract signing between Ronda Rpusey and Nikki Bella; considering Ronda’s MMA background, couldn’t they have mixed this up with a press conference instead? This was every contract signing you’ve ever seen; they traded insults, Nikki slapped Ronda, Ronda vowed to end Nikki. Okay, maybe it was a little different as nobody got smashed through a table…Nia Jax and Dana Brooke teamed up against Tamina and Ember Moon, which was weird until you realise that the mixed up teams are to hype up the incredibly nonsensical battle royal that’s happening at Evolution; Ember and Tamina won after Ember hit the Eclipse onto Nia.
Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre put the Raw Tag Team Championships on the line against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, who earlier vowed to win the belts for Roman; this appeared to motivate them sufficiently to dominate in the early going. However, once Drew got involved and tagged in, the tide turned against the Shield. Rollins desperately tried to tag out but Dolph jerked Ambrose off…the apron and kept him busy for a bit so that things could kick into another gear when he did make the tag. Eventually, it broke down a bit and signatures and finishers started flying everywhere; the referee took a hit and Braun ran down to attack Drew, which allowed Rollins to hit the Blackout on Dolph and win the belts back. Instead of celebrating, Ambrose hit Rollins with Dirty Deeds and then proceeded to beat the piss out of him, ending with another Dirty Deeds on the exposed concrete outside the ring! Interesting that they chose this moment, when they’d just won the tag titles, to turn Ambrose heel but, like I say, this Roman deal has sent things haywire. In the confusion, it’s also easy to forget that Rollins once again is a dual title holder but I am assuming that they will relinquish the tag belts to start feuding properly, though it is admittedly hard to predict at this point.
The New Day opened the show this week because they lost the tag titles last week and aren’t too happy with the Big Show getting involved in their business. To emphasise this, the first match of the night pitted Kofi Kingston against the former Giant, which almost immediately descended into a massive brawl. With the Big Show’s weight behind them, though, the Bar were easily able to dominate the former champions, which is a good look for them but again I would have rather seen SAnitY get this kind of dominating presentation.
AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan teamed up against the Usos once again in a bit of a rematch from last week; once again, this was a pretty great little match, with AJ and Bryan starting strong and then Bryan being isolated in the middle portion. I have to say, though, I’m a little worried about how often Bryan is on the receiving end of beatdowns and isolation spots; I know he’s been cleared but it’s no reason to tempt fate. Anyway, Bryan eventually made the tag and AJ got to run wild; so wild that he accidentally clocked Bryan with a Pele Kick (kind of a weird move to “accidentally” hit someone with…) and then got splashed to give the Usos the win. Afterwards, AJ protests that it was an accident but Bryan isn’t having it; I like that the Usos got the win again because experience, career tag teams should probably always win, even over big main event names and former World Champions. It looks like they’re sowing the seeds for an AJ heel turn, which might actually be a good thing; he could turn, re-form the Club with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (remember them!?), and jump to Raw while Finn Balor and…I dunno, the Revival…jump to SmackDown! Live.
Rusev defeated Aiden English in just over a minute; iw ish I could say that disappointing dud of a match was the end of their issues but I’m sure it isn’t, because it’s just like the WWE to have one guy totally squash the other and then drag out rematches for months on end. Anyway, the Miz had a bit of a chat with Rey Mysterio afterwards; Miz talked a bunch of shit and then attacked Rey after he challenged him to a match. This, naturally, led to…a match…right then and there, which Miz appeared to have full control of but he didn’t account for Rey’s comeback momentum, which was enough to get him the win. It’s great to see Rey back in the ring and back on top form; that time away was clearly good for him and he seems motivated and enthusiastic; I’m sure that the Miz will bounce back from the loss as well but it’s probably time to start attempting to push him towards an actual goal instead of just being the go-to dastardly heel for others to beat.
Naomi and Asuka were set to team up against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville but all the women interrupted the match to talk about the battle royal that’s going down at Evolution, which led to a brawl that Asuka came out on top of. That would be fine except for two things: Asuke won the Royal Rumble! and Asuka should be in a real match at the “first-ever” all-women’s pay-per-view!
Shane McMahon showed up to plug Crown Jewel…which was definitely something that happened…and then the show ended with Randy Orton facing Jeff Hardy once again. This was pretty much all Orton, who once again showed his malicious side, while Jeff desperately tried to mount some kind of offense. In the end, Jeff missed a Swanton Bomb from the apron and got planted with the RKO to put an end to things.
Battle Royal for a Championship match: Torrie Wilson vs. Asuka vs. Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville vs. Lana vs. Carmella vs. Naomi vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce vs. Ember Moon vs. Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke vs. Alicia Fox vs. Tamina vs. Beth Phoenix vs. Michelle McCool vs. Ivory vs. Molly Holly vs. Madusa vs. Maria vs. Kelly Kelly vs. and others
What a slap in the face this match is! This is the most asinine, lazy, insulting thing the WWE could put on this show, in my opinion. All this talk and hype about the “women’s revolution” and how things have progressed and are all inclusive and all that shit and they just toss a bunch of their top female stars, some divas from a past that they constantly claim to be moving away from, and a bunch of has-beens into a clusterfuck and hope for the best! I mean, come on, this event should transcend the brand split and we should be seeing matches like Asuka vs. Ember Moon, and you’re seriously telling that there wasn’t something, anything, better for Nia, Mandy, Sonya, Peyton, and SDana, at the very least, to be doing? Okay, it’s for a title shot, but still! Anyway…I dunno…let’s give it to Ember Moon because God knows she needs a push!
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
See, this is what I’m talking about; I’m all for Trish and Lita getting back in the ring but they should be in the battle royal as nostalgia acts, not taking up a spot on the card from current stars. The only positive thing about this is that it’ll help get Alexa and Mickie over some more but…they’re already pretty over, or at least Alexa is, so what’s the point again? Anyway, hopefully they’ll do the right thing and we’ll see Alexa and Mickie get the win here.
2018 Mae Young Classic Finals: Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai
Oh…um…I haven’t been following this so…Toni Storm to win, I guess?
The Riott Squad vs. Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya
Poor Ruby; the only good thing to happen to her recently is that she didn’t get chucked into that battle royal and has a chance here to regain some momentum. Unfortunately, given that her team won this week on Raw and considering I expect Alexa and Mickie to win that other match, I guess Sasha, Bayley, and Natalya are going over here but, hopefully, we can get back on track with Ruby regardless and push her towards a title shot.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
Again, I don’t really follow NXT that closely and didn’t even realise Kairi had won the belt. However, with that in mind, I doubt she’ll drop it any time soon and it might be time for Sayna to move up to the main roster and head towards Ronda Rousey, so I’ll give this to Kairi.
SmackDown! Live Last Woman Standing Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte
History is being made at the historic first-ever all-women’s pay-per-view with this never-before-seen match! Okay, so, this feud hasn’t gone exactly as the WWE expected and their stubborn refusal to change tactics and go with the crowd reactions has made this frustrating to follow and to watch but these two do have good chemistry and good matches and this should be an effective end to their issues. I still think the smart money is on Becky Lynch to retain as she has so much momentum behind her they’d be crazy to switch back to Charlotte, who people just don’t want to see with the belt.
Raw Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella
And here we are, the second worst decision about this show. You’re seriously, seriously, telling me that this couldn’t have been a cross-brand match between Ronda and Charlotte, or Becky, or Asuka? You’re seriously telling me that Ronda couldn’t have defended against Ember, or Ruby, or be in a fatal-four-way while Nikki and Bella take up spots in the battle royal where they belong? How does defeating someone like Nikki make Ronda look good? She’s hardly the pinnacle of the women’s division! Whatever, Ronda Rousey to retain and hopefully, finally, move on to a more credibly opponent afterwards.