This Week In Wrestling

ThisWeekInWrestling

Fastlane

Winners: Big E and Xavier Woods, The Usos, Asuka, The Bar, The Revival, Samoa Joe, The Boss ‘N Hug Connection, Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch, and The Shield.

A couple of extra matches were added to the card at the very (very!) last minute, the first of which pitted Big E and Xavier Woods against Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev, which I guess means that my wish to see Nakamura and Rusev go their separate ways will have to wait about three years or so. Once again, it is always refreshing to see Xavier actually compete as it still feels like he’s left playing cheerleader more often than not; I can’t say that I am a massive fan of his in-ring work but I like variety, especially from three-man stables. Anyway, being on the kickoff show must have been motivating to these four as they had a pretty fun, fast-paced encounter here; everyone got a chance in the ring and to do their thing, which was good. In the end, Xavier fought out of the Accolade while Big E took out Nakamura; Big E then got the tag and they finished things off with the Midnight Hour.

The tag team turmoil continued as the Usos defended the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships against Shane McMahon and the Miz; Shane took control over Jimmy at the beginning and, between him and Miz, they worked him over for a bit. The Usos quickly sole the momentum though and, in a lovely visual, began wearing down Shane with double teams and quick tags. Miz ruined my fun with a hot tag but his momentum was soon cut off when he got nailed with a sweet Samoan Drop; Shane stopped Miz getting pinned following the Double Superkicks but the referee got distracted checking on him and missed Miz’s three count off the Skull-Crushing Finale. In the closing stretch, Shane adjusting in mid-air when going to the Coast-To-Coast to save Miz from being Splashed by Jey; Miz went for the Frog Splash but ate the knees and got rolled up for the three count. Afterwards, Shane attacked the Miz and locked him in some weird triangle choke right in front of his Dad…gotta say I feel that was a mistake as Miz is so much better as a heel but at least a turn actually happened.

Asuka put the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship (remember that?) on the line against Mandy Rose next; Sonya Deville was in Mandy’s corner, which came into play quite a few times as she distracted Asuka and interfered throughout the match. This went quite a while considering Asuka’s former reputation and Mandy’s place in the pecking order, with Mandy working submission holds on Asuka and the champion having to counter and fight out of them constantly. In the end, it just…ended…when Asuka pinned Mandy following a Spin Kick.

Kofi Kingston was forced into a handicap match against Sheamus and Cesaro in the second extra match of the night. As you might expect, the Bar absolutely mauled Kofi right from the start; Kofi tried to fight back a bit but couldn’t do much against the constant barrage. Big E and Xavier Woods tried to help out but got jumped by Rusev and Nakamura; the Bar finally put an end to the squash with a double team White Noise. I guess the idea is to further emphasise that Kofi has the odds stacked heavily against him but the crowd pretty much hated seeing this and I’m sure that there are better ways to put over Kofi as a never-say-die underdog than just having him get the shit kicked out of him for five minutes.

The Raw Tag Team Championship was up for grabs next as the Revival defended against Ricochet and Aleister Black and Bobby Roode and Chad Gable; you know what really makes a proper tag team, in my eyes? A team name! Just because Edge & Christian worked without a team name (though “Edge & Christian” was arguably their team name…) doesn’t mean everyone else will. Anyway, this started off with a big ol’ brawl and Ricochet and Aleister clearing house before it settled down to Ricochet and Gable, two guys who could easily be feuding over the Intercontinental Championship rather than languishing in the tag team division with slapped-together-partners. Ricochet stayed in the ring for a while, getting worked over by first gable and then Scott Dawson when he tagged himself in; he eventually made the tag to Aleister, who faced off with Roode, who quickly overpowered him. Things broke down a bit and, in the chaos, Dawson countered a High Cross from Gable into a roll-up for a near fall and then finished the job with a Shatter Machine.

The final extra match saw the United States Championship make a return to the main pay-per-view card as Samoa Joe defended against Andrade, R-Truth, and Rey Mysterio; so, essentially, a rematch from last week’s SmackDown! Live. Everyone brawled at the start but Joe soon cleared house and singled out Andrade; Andrade and Mysterio actually briefly teamed up to take out Joe but it obviously didn’t last and Mysterio was soon laid out by Andrade’s Back-Spinning Elbow. Joe soon started working over R-Truth but Mysterio wouldn’t stay down, managing to cradle Andrade mid-Three Amigos. R-Truth desperately tried to pin anyone he could and ended up getting kicked in the face by Zelina Vega; he was still able to break up a pin fall after Andrade planted Mysterio with the Hammerlock DDT. In the end, everyone threw all their shit at each other and, after missing the 619 Splash, Joe retained the title by choking Mysterio out with the Coquina Clutch.

The WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship were on the line next as the Boss ‘N Hug Connection defended against Nia Jax and Tamina; Bayley and Sasha Banks tried to kept Tamina isolated in the early going but she soon tagged in Nia, who overpowered the champs and took that idea for herself. Slow, plodding, ground-and-pound action followed from the challengers as they kept Bayley isolated for a while. Sasha made the tag and nearly died when Nia fumbled a Samoan Drop; Sasha fought both women off, though, allowing Bayley to hit a Hurricanrana and roll up Nia for a successful title defence. After the match, Nia and Tamina attacked the champions, Beth Phoenix (who was at ringside), and Natalya (when she tried to make the save), potentially setting up some kind of multi-team championship match at WrestleMania (though I thought Beth was medically unable to wrestle…)

The WWE Championship once again forfeited the main event; despite Vince McMahon claiming to have added Kofi into this match, we ended up with Mustafa Ali surprisingly joining Kevin Owens in challenging Daniel Bryan, which the crowd did not like at all. Chants for Kofi overwhelmed the entirety of this match, though Ali was able to bring the crowd back on to his side by the end with his high-flying acrobatics, including a Reverse Hurricanrana to Owens and a Top-Rope Spanish Fly to Bryan. Owens nearly got the win after dodging the 054 and hitting the Stunner but Bryan broke up the pinfall; Owens then countered Bryan’s Running Knee into the Pop-Up Powerbomb in a sweet spot but it only managed a two count. In the end, Owens murdered Mustafa with the Apron Powerbomb but ended up getting taken out by Rowan, which allowed Bryan to slap Mustafa around and talk shit to him and finally finish him off with a Running Knee.

Becky Lynch and Charlotte were up next, with the stipulation being that, if Becky wins, she gets added to the WrestleMania match for the Raw Women’s Championship. Charlotte weathered Becky’s fury and targeted her injured leg but, right as things were really heating up, Ronda Rousey attacked Becky to cause the disqualification. Obviously, though, that means that Becky won the match by default, though she looked a bit worse for wear in this match after Charlotte basically dominated her the entire time.

Randy Orton flew in and RKO’d Elias out of nowhere as he tried to play a song; he then got taken out by AJ Styles, potentially setting up a WrestleMania match between the two that I would be interested to see, right before the Shield reunited (…again…) to take in Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, and Baron Corbin in the main event (because this is more important than the WWE Championship!) The Shield established dominance pretty quickly before Seth Rollins and Lashley began the match proper; Corbin intervened with some annoying illegal interference but both Rollins and Lashley were able to tag in Dean Ambrose and McIntyre, respectively, without much issue. Reigns soon got involved, as did Lashley, as the quick tags kept coming from both sides; Ambrose laid out McIntyre with that weird second-rope Diving Elbow thing he does and then got murdered by a Spear from Lashley, which incited a brawl. Eventually, everyone brawled into the crowd except Reigns and Corbin, who battled on the top rope for a bit before Reigns planted him with a Powerbomb. The Superman Punch only got a two count as Reigns had only hit it once; the heels ganged up on Reigns and tried to hit a Triple Powerbomb through the announce table but Ambrose made the save. Rollins took out Lashley with THA STOMP ~!! and Reigns Speared Lashley, allowing the Shield to gang up on Corbin with a Superkick, Superman Punch, the Dirty Deeds, and, finally, the Shield’s patented Triple Powerbomb for the decisive win.

Raw

The Shield opened Raw this week to say their goodbyes; apparently, their team-up at Fastlane was their swan song and they each have their own agendas going forwards. Speaking of which, Paul Heyman popped out to talk about Seth Rollins’ WrestleMania match with Brock Lesnar; they traded some banter and then, randomly, Shelton Benjamin attacked Rollins and they ended up in a match. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Shelton involved in high profile matches but…couldn’t he be involved in them on his actual brand? Anyway, these two worked really well together, showcasing how massively underutilised Shelton is, until Rollins was able to nail the Superkick and the Stomp for the win. A good match but, although I get the idea of facing Lesnar’s former running buddy, the exchange between Rollins and Heyman made it seem like it would make more sense for Rollins to face an opponent more Brock’s size…someone like…

Bobby Lashley, who instead got a shot at Finn Balor’s Intercontinental Championship; Lashley attacked immediately, choking Finn out and keeping things grounded throughout. Balor managed to rally back following a Sling Blade but got distracted when Lio Rush rang the bell, which allowed Lashley to capitalise with a Spear and regain the championship. Well, that’s fucking bullshit; could we not have had Finn fight Lio again and then have Lashley and Drew McIntyre come out and beat him up to setup a fatal-four-way at WrestleMania? Now we have to endure another lukewarm reign from Lashley for no reason.

Ronda Rousey came out to cement her heel turn by yelling at the fans and claiming that she interfered in the Becky Lynch/Charlotte Flair Fastlane match simply to humiliate them both at WrestleMania, which is still a weird thing to do but yeah, sure. Dana Brooke, of all people, decided to interrupt her and got her ass kicked for her trouble…strange.

Aleister Black and Ricochet went head-to-head with Chad Gable and Bobby Roode, because the WWE really wants these two NXT guys to be a team, which was a short sprint of a match; Gable and Roode worked the quick tags and double teams before Aleister made the hot tag, allowing Ricochet to run wild and set Aleister up for the Black Mass and the victory. Afterwards, the Revival took out the NXT guys, so I guess this feud will continue on into WrestleMania.

Nia Jax and Natalya went at it next following their confrontation at Fastlane; Tamina and Beth Phoenix were at ringside, which led to things quickly descending into anarchy and the match ending on a disqualification as they all ended up in a big brawl. Afterwards, Triple H and Batista had a face-to-face….from the ring and the ramp, respectively. Batista aired his grievances and challenged Triple H to a match at WrestleMania, which Triple accepted as long as the match was no hold’s barred.

Following this, Kurt Angle came out and officially announced that his match at WrestleMania will be his retirement match, though he didn’t name his opponent. He then had a match against Apollo Crews, who I almost forget was employed by the WWE; Crews got some stuff in and a chance to look good but, before long, Angle was dodging the Frog Splash and pinning him following a single Angle Slam.

Apparently, the WWE has not interest in my armchair booking for Drew McIntyre and would instead prefer to feed him to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania as Drew attacked Reigns and beat the piss out of him as he came to the ring, which inspired Dean Ambrose to take McIntyre on in a no disqualification match right then and there. It’s difficult to understand Dean’s reasoning as I’m pretty sure that McIntyre has beaten him about ten times at this point and this match was no different; although they brawled on the ramp and through the crowd, though Dean got in a cheeky low blow and McIntyre fought back with chair shots, in the end McIntyre tossed Dean right into the LED banner a couple of times and damn near killed Ambrose with a Claymore for the win.

SmackDownLive

It’s the Shane O’Mac Show this week as Shane McMahon kicked things off with his stupid “Best In The World” trophy and to tell the world that he attacked the Miz because he’s sick of helping others succeed and wants to start showing why he is truly the “Best In The World”. He also officially challenged the Miz to a match at WrestleMania, which was fine however I think this whole opening promo might have been made even better if the Miz had interrupted Shane and been the one to make that challenge and then gotten his ass kicked again but hey, what the hell do I know? I think having Shane in matches is a stupid idea in 2019 but I’m apparently outvoted on that score.

Aleister Black and Ricochet continued to jump between all the brands as they fought against Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura, the Bar, and the Hardy Boyz in a bit of a four-way tag team match. Everyone got a chance to get involved here as each member of each team tagged in and out pretty rapidly; Ricochet was soon isolated and worked over by all the heels, which allowed for a great nostalgia trip when he made the hot tag to Matt Hardy and the Hardyz started running through all their signature moves. Things descended into a complete brawl, however, and the New Day ended up getting involved for a no contest finish.

Randy Orton then turned up to talk about his newfound issues with AJ Styles and his claims to be the man behind SmackDown! Live’s success; AJ arrived and they traded insults about each other’s backgrounds and finishers and, predictably, their little dick measuring contest ended up with them officially challenging each other to a match at WrestleMania.

Asuka and Sonya Deville were up next; Mandy Rose was at ringside, which ended up backfiring for Sonya as Mandy accidentally tripped her at a pivotal moment, which allowed Asuka to take advantage and win with the Asuka Lock. I must have missed that there have been tensions brewing between Mandy and Sonya and this match (which involved the SmackDown! Live Women’s Champion, I might add) simply existed to further that; maybe they’ll break apart and both end up in a title match with Asuka at WrestleMania? Maybe that and it’ll involve Lacey Evans as well! Who knows, or cares, at this point?

Becky Lynch was out next; apparently she doesn’t need a crutch any more and is fit and healthy, I guess. She vows to end Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania, which of course brings out Charlotte Flair for a bit of a face-to-face that ended with them simply trading insults and staring holes through each other, which was quite intense I guess.

R-Truth, Samoa Joe, Andrade, and Rey Mysterio all went at it again but this time there was a twist! Mysterio and R-Truth teamed up against Joe and Andrade, what a swerve! Anyway, Mysterio got isolated by the heels (I guess because nobody buys R-Truth as a “face in peril”?) for a bit before making a hot tag to R-Truth, whose tribute to John Cena got swiftly cut off by Joe. Mysterio was then suddenly able to fight back as he tagged in, took out both his opponents with a 619, and rolled Joe up for a sudden victory. After the match, Joe was so pissed off that he took everyone out; so, is Joe going to defend against all four again at WrestleMania or are we seriously going to see Cena and R-Truth get into a thing leading into the WWE’s big event?

Not to be outdone, Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali then teamed up to face Daniel Bryan and Rowan; it is so weird seeing Owens not only as a babyface but palling around with other faces like he hasn’t been an ass-kicking douchebag his entire career. In case you couldn’t guess, Mustafa ended up being singled out and worked over by Rowan’s “strength” (seriously, this guy is the blandest bodyguard since…I dunno, Luther Reigns?) and Bryan’s technical prowess; Mustafa gutted it out though and made the tag to clear the ring but it didn’t matter much as, once Mustafa got back into the match, Rowan pinned him pretty handily with his Facepalm Chokeslam.

SmackDown! Live started with a McMahon and it ended with a McMahon as Vince McMahon came out to talk about Kofi Kingston; the New Day came out to plead Kofi’s case but Vince wasn’t really having any of it. Kofi also complained about being passed over time and time again so Vince said that he could earn himself a championship opportunity next week if he runs a gauntlet against Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan, Rowan, Sheamus, and Cesaro.

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