Last week in the first round of Shoot Talk I discussed about how Smackdown Live booking as of late had been top notch, and also predicted the results of the first Smackdown Live only PPV in Backlash. There’s been some amazing things happen in the WWE over the week in that respect with the PPV and the CWC so this week we’ve got a lot to digest. Welcome to Shoot Talk #2.
What a time to be Alive
Especially if you’re a wrestling fan. We’ll jump right here with Backlash results and just say it. AJ Styles is WWE World Champion, Kevin Owens is WWE Universal Champion and Shinsuke Nakamura is NXT Champion. Are we in bizzaro world? Or some fantasy season on 2K16? Nope this is real life. AJ Styles in 8 months has had an early match of the year candidate at WrestleKingdom against Nakamura, an epic debut at Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania appearance, featured in the title picture against the apparent chosen one Roman Reigns and made him look a million bucks, beat the face that runs the place in John Cena and has now taken Smackdown Lives top title. All this while Raw saw Finn Balor Champion for 24 hours followed up by current champion Owens and NXT seeing Samoa Joe as champion followed by Nakamura.
12 months ago that sounded fantasy.
Speaking of what a time to be alive and continuing with Smackdown Lives booking as of late, what a PPV Backlash was. In all honesty I had no idea how they’d be able to make the PPV entertaining. The match card wasn’t overly stacked and while every belt was up for grabs, on paper it didn’t appear the most gripping PPV of the year. But they really pulled it out of the bag. The great thing about this PPV was that due to it not being overly stacked with matches, the ones actually on the card all had sufficient enough time to make each match pretty damned good. Lessons need to be learnt from this, ramming Summerslam card and taking hours upon hours doesn’t always result in a great show. Smackdown Live have taken the approach of lets make what we’ve got work and boy are they doing it well.
The PPV was entertaining from the off with the women’s 6 pack elimination challenge a really fun way to kick things off. Alexa Bliss really had an impressive showing and it’s guaranteed she will be the holder of a women’s title, probably in the not to distant future. Having the final 2 of Carmela and Becky was random but also a nice swerve. Carmela is desperately trying to shake off her association with Enzo and Cass which made her in NXT. Having her heel character and rivalry with Nikki will get her in the view of fans as a solo competitor and having her in the final 2 was also a great plus for her, I’d expected Nikki and Becky to be honest. Becky winning was the right result too. Kind of always felt she would be 2nd fiddle to Sasha, Charlotte and eventually Bailey, so having her on Smackdown away from them where she can be the main woman is good for her.
Heath Slater’s fairytale storyline came to it’s dramatic conclusion and did not disappoint. After the Uso’s win over the Hype Bro’s earlier I had a sudden change of feeling for the final between Uso’s and Heath & Rhyno for the titles. I predicted Heath and Rhyno to win gladly. But something felt off that they’d not let Becky & Heath & Rhyno win in the same night? Giving the fans what they want? That’s not standard WWE protocol. Wouldn’t be surprised if now Heath’s got his contract confirmed that they’ll drop those titles soon to Uso’s to give them more heel heat, and have American Alpha get the eventual win over Uso’s to massive crowd pops. It’s once again Smackdown Live ingenious booking at play.
And I’ll finish off the PPV roundup with Miz vs Ziggler. There was a great vignette building this up and it showcased some of WWE’s finest throughout the years holding the IC title. Absolute legends of the company and how Miz was doing his all to make this title relevant again. Since his draft to Smackdown Live Miz has completely owned the show. He’s genuinely getting that title relevant again. His passionate promos really ignites his rivals too. It also helps that Ziggler’s reinvented himself since the draft too as a more determined roster member with something to prove and not just there to make the numbers up. Once upon a time ago I’d have loved to see Miz drop the belt to Apollo at Summerslam or Ziggler and Backlash, but now he needs to keep it. And winning in heel fashion as he did at Backlash with Maryse spraying Ziggler’s face with mace or something, I’m not even mad. Miz is a heel champion, that was a heel way to win. Get heat, keep those entertaining promos up. Make that title great again.
Raw Continued a Plot Point
Prior to Summerslam Roman Reigns was still on his downwards spiral and punishment from his failed drugs test. The US Championship match at Summerslam between Rusev and Reigns never actually materialized as before the fight officially started the 2 brawled outside the ring resulting in Rusev taking a sweet looking spear from Reigns on the ramp writing him out of action for a few weeks (So he could honeymoon it up with Lana). With Rusev away Reigns was thrust straight back into the main event slots and considered a candidate for the Universal Championship. On RAW he was to fight champion Owens to have himself inserted in the Clash of Champions PPV main event, to make it a triple threat for the Universal Championship.
The crowd were pretty hot for this match and the 2 put on a pretty spectacular match. But Rusev made his return to a rapturous crowd and beat on Reigns resulting in Owens winning. Reigns efforts to participate in the Universal Championship main event were shot down by Rusev who was having his name chanted in the arena. It’s good that they kept this fire still burning and can now build some great matches and rivalry between Reigns and Rusev which will reinvigorate the United States Championship again, hopefully elevating to the levels that John Cena got the title to during his incredible run with it. Not bad RAW, not bad.
Cruiser Weight Classic & Cruiser Weight Championship
Last weeks Shoot Talk I made a prediction that Metalik would be winning the CWC tournament. I had no idea that they’d actually crown a Cruiser Weight Champion though. The Semi Final and Final show was genuinely one of the best 2 hours of wrestling I’ve watched in a long long time.
All semi finalists put on absolute classics. It’s honestly the first time in the CWC that I’ve been impressed with Zack Sabre Jnr. And Kota Ibushi is the MVP of the tournament for me as each of his matches were for me stand out match of the shows and he made each opposition look a million bucks. I’m also incredibly surprised that the winner ended up being TJ Perkins. I’d have thought Metalik all the way. The moment seeing Ibushi tap out to TJP I was genuinely swerved and messaged the amigos with my reaction to it. I was watching it a day late and they already knew the results. I’m a little disappointed that the CWC is finished now too. It’s been 10 weeks of some of the best wrestling. I really hope the Cruiser division gets on well on RAW and each of the participants get an opportunity to showcase their individual skill on the main roster to millions more viewers. Please don’t ruin it by making it a 10 minute segment on a 3 hour show. Also looking forward to see if any main roster members make the cut such as Neville and Sin Cara. And lastly I’d love to see a Cruiser Weight Championship match at Clash of Champions. TJP defending in a rematch against Metalik would definitely get the crowd going wild.
Mid Card Titles in Main Event Matches
Not a massive discussion point, but one I thought I’d bring up, that this week’s episodes of Raw and Smackdown both featured their respective mid card titles in the main events. Okay RAW the United States Champion Rusev wasn’t actually in a match, but RAW ended with him playing a role in the main event. Smackdown saw The Miz partnering with AJ Styles in their main event and again okay Miz lost, but still it’s great to see that these guys and their titles can get inter-wound with the main event story-lines now.
Alexa Bliss hits the ground running
I personally think Alexa’s call up to the main roster during the draft was a bit of a surprise honestly. It felt like there could have been more for her to offer in NXT. I was worried that her main roster call up would see her take a back seat to the other ladies already up in the main shows. I’m incredibly happy to see that this is not the case as she’s taken to the main roster incredibly well. Already establishing her self as the number one contender for the Smackdown Live Woman’s championship. Her interactions with Bryan on Talking Smack showing her confidence with on the spot impromptu questions and answers. She’s really hit the ground running and is already well on her way to be one of the standout women of the division on Smackdown. I hope that continues.
Book It Vince
So we’ve tallied up the predictions from Backlash and have started a results table up. Will try to keep it up to date with totals after each PPV. While last week I noted that Mike couldn’t choose a winner for the women’s title. he did actually swing with Becky so we’ve counted a point down for him on this. We’ve all picked up a point for Bray vs Orton as we figure he did technically win by count out. We didn’t count the loss to Kane though as we weren’t ever aware Bray would have 2 fights on the PPV.
Onto the next PPV Clash of Champions in 2 weeks!