It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes ago we were getting excited for the Royal Rumble with plenty of wild theories about who would or wouldn’t win. The end result however ended up being a bit of let down as despite the line-up of the entrants to the Rumble it didn’t really deliver to the hype. Well we’re on the weekend of Smackdown’s exclusive PPV Elimination Chamber. It’s looking like a fairly decent match card featuring 3 singles women’s matches.
RAW Was Good
For the most part, WWE fans tend to view Smackdown Live as the superior show (Tim who runs GeekOut South-West does not ;o) ). RAW can often deliver a decent show though, and the February 6th episode was one of those occasions where you could justifiably sit through the 3 hour show and not feel hard done by. Perhaps the only slowing point was The New Day vs The Shining stars segment. But even that passed as entertaining purely due to New Day’s involvement. It kicked off with an excellent contract signing which gave the emphasis that Samoa Joe was a big deal. I guess sometimes you might forget that some of the viewing audience of televised WWE on cable networks might never have watched NXT or know who these call-ups are, so despite Joe’s incredible NXT run, he could still be a bit of an anomaly on the main roster. This opening segment did a brilliant job to introduce Joe as a brutal and threatening addition to the RAW roster. His promo was impressive and struck a threatening tone that he would work his way through the locker room. Of course Roman Reigns had to come out and ruin everything, accept on this occasion he didn’t. There is a certain air of intrigue seeing Joe vs Reigns. And in fairness Reigns promo was of decent quality too. I especially enjoyed his little “my yard” dig, a subtle little hint at his potential mania match with The Undertaker?
The whole of RAW felt like a decent and important episode. Enzo and Cass sitting at ringside during the RAW Tag Team Championship match I assume means that they’re involvement with the titles is coming soon. Perhaps they could have made their intentions clear in another way perhaps via promo or passing paths with Gallows and Anderson, but still it’ll be good to see them tangle for the titles.
This episode of RAW also felt like the stepping stone to the Cruiserweight Division’s momentum taking a turn for the better. Akira Tozawa made his RAW debut and got a pretty respectable pop on his entrance. His in ring noises were picked up by the crowd who mimicked the noises thus ensuring the match was not carried out in silence. It’s a simple thing to do, but it genuinely kept the WWE crowd loud and interested. The recent weeks have seen Austin Aries interviewing the Cruiserweights in the ring and this weeks on RAW was particularly good as the more prominent guys in the division all had a chance to gate-crash Aries interview gaining a little mic time and then all put on a spectacular match which did again get the fans going.
And while we’re getting debuts on RAW such as Tozawa and later on Samoa Joe, RAW also kept momentum going with building matches for Fastlane and Mania with legends as Goldberg appeared on RAW. Again unpopular opinion is that WWE relies on older guard to get big viewings around this time of the year in the build-up to Mania. Fortunately this segment was pure gold as Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and Goldberg had another entertaining part of the show. Jericho adding Tom Brady to the list for having the name the G.O.A.T was brilliant. The continual teasing of their friendship coming to an end then brushing it off like it won’t happen. It’s one of the most entertaining things about RAW. Goldberg was great too. Y2J standing up face to face with Goldberg telling him that he’d get a match at Fastlane in what we thought would be a massive swerve wiping the rumours of Owens vs Goldberg away turned out to be the confirmation of Owens and Goldberg as Y2J hilariously accepted Goldbergs Universal title challenge on behalf of Owens.
Perhaps my only sour point to this week’s RAW was the ending. The main event of Reigns and Joe was pretty great. Joe was made out to be an absolute beast with a vicious attack on Reigns before the match even officially started. And he had Reigns number for the most of the match with only a little bit of Reigns regaining the match. For the most part it was a showcase of Joe’s aggression. Then to ruin it, Braun. Braun fucking Strowman came down which distracted Reigns. Joe gets the win by a distracted Reigns. Yes it’s clever in that Reigns takes a loss without but can blame being distracted, but come on, just give Joe the win due him dominating the match and winning 1-2-3 with no distractions or interruptions. It’d make Joe’s debut match much more impactful if he got the Big Dog down in his yard in his first RAW match. Reigns doesn’t need protecting as he’s always going to get pushes. It’s not Braun’s fault either, it was a clever play again by WWE as Braun had earlier in the show demanded a challenge and this was his retribution to demand that challenge. He’ll be facing Reigns at the Fastlane PPV, so going out there and attacking Reigns makes sense. But god damn it’s frustrating how it results in a protected loss for Reigns.
Overall though, RAW was good!
Smackdown Live Was Also Good
As for the superior show (Sorry Tim), Smackdown Live did just what it needed to do on its go home show before Elimination Chamber. The opening 30 minutes of the show were perfect. Each entrant in the Elimination Chamber other than John Cena and Bray Wyatt featured in a highly entertaining opening segment in which they all had sufficient time on the mic to look good and drop digs at each other. All 4 of them were spot on with Miz in particular (what a surprise) owning the mic. His little digs at Bryan were great but Bryan had some good replies. AJ Styles mic work has improved so much since he arrived in WWE, perhaps it’s easier to cut a promo as a heel as his heel promos have been pretty damn good since his turn. With these 4 in the ring Bryan scheduled a fatal 4 way straight away and it was absolutely incredible.
Each guy shone here and had a strong performance showcasing that any of these 4 guys could well walk away from Elimination Chamber as champion, which was obviously the intention. What was most surprising however is that AJ took the pin with Corbin winning. This brand split has certainly benefitted the Smackdown half of the roster as guys like Baron, The Miz, Bray and even Luke Harper are able to grasp that brass ring and boy are they ever.
Like RAW there was a downside to Smackdown and that is the state of the Tag division. State’s probably the wrong choice of words, if you look at the teams Smackdown have it’s a pretty solid division, they just don’t do anything with them. I know you might think Ascension and Vaudevillians as ‘meh’ teams, but Ascension were so dominant in NXT and Vaudevillians were pretty damn over. 2 Hours for Smackdown is enough time for sure, so maybe try and add a tag match or two to the schedule to get the tag division to showcase the talents more. American Alpha are the champions and Uso’s are also in this division. The names reeled off should make for a heck of a good tag division but they never seem to feature other than a cluttered mass of 12 man tag matches which limit what the individuals in the team can do.
As for the womens division? It’s damn hot right now. Again perhaps thanks to the brand split, but Naomi has improved leaps and bounds and getting legitimate crowd pops at her entrance. The new entrance and style probably has helped a lot, but her performance at the Royal Rumble was noticeably good. Becky and Alexa are enjoying a focus that neither would have had with Sasha, Charlotte and Bayley seemingly being the 3 main women in WWE’s eyes. Nikki and Natalya while their feud seems like something straight out of Total Diva’s, it’s still a feud and still 2 women getting promo and ring time that would have been limited on the combined roster. And even Carmella has made strides. Her feud with Nikki last year was important to ensure she stood out from the likes of Becky, Alexa and Nikki. The downside now is that she’s in some sort of James Ellsworth comedic bit, but oh well. She’s still on TV.
205 Live Was Good Too
I enjoy 2015 Live, so tend to find it good every week. But the episode that followed Smackdown was especially good. Tony Nese had a shoulder injury so couldn’t partake in the main event fatal 5 way for the number one contenders spot. So a match between Mustafa Ali and Davari took place with the winner entering the main event. I’ve been impressed with Ali in previous weeks and had him feature in the highlight reel a few weeks back. He was impressive again here and took his opportunity beating Davari to go to the main event. The main event was incredible with the competitors being the big names from the division. This was the first time that 205 Live’s crowd were actually hot too. The crowd were embracing the main event chanting that it was awesome and popping at the eliminations and eventual winner. Gallagher got the victory which is incredible news. Gallagher vs Neville is a really weird but interesting match for the title. Gallagher the ultimate face and gentleman against a rejuvenated and determined heel Neville. It’ll be an exciting one for sure. Gran Metalik makes his debut next week, with him accompanying the introduction of Tozawa and Aries apparently now clear to return to ring action, the pieces are all in place for this division to take off, It just really needs the fans to get behind it and stay at the end of Smackdown to watch it.
There was a lot of entertaining promos this week across the shows, I couldn’t limit it down, so here’s what stood out for me this week.
Chris Jericho – RAW 06/02/2017 – Chris Jericho goes on to list how he’s Owen’s best friend and the sacrifices he’s made that prove he’s Owen’s best friend. One of those sacrifices was to hang in a shark tank above the ring looking like a “Sexy Pinata”.
Daniel Bryan – SD Live 07/02/2017 – In the opening segments as The Miz is mouthing abuse to Daniel Bryan, Baron Corbin comes to the ring. Corbin begins to threaten Miz and approach him. The Miz insists that Bryan do his job as GM and get Corbin to stop. Daniel Bryan replies in the most sarcastic tone ever with his eyes rolling “Oh no Baron, Please don’t punch Miz”.
AJ Styles – SD Live 07/02/2017 – As AJ Styles makes his way to the ring during the opening segment, his opening line is quite simply and poetically put as “Are you done playing ticklebutt?”
Austin Aries – RAW 06/02/2047 – During his interviews on RAW when 205 live competitors each took their turn to approach the ring as Tony Nese hit’s the ring, Austin Aries in the middle of the ring and on the mic says “Oh and here’s Tony Nese’s abs”.
Book it Vince
And onto the finishing line of season one of Book it Vince. The last Smackdown exclusive PPV before Wrestlemania, Elimination Chamber. It’s an interesting one featuring 3 singles women’s matches. The main event will settle who will be the WWE Champion to face Orton at Mania. Here’s how the scores look so far:
And here’s who we’ve gone for:
So we’re all pretty confident that John Cena’s record tying 16th title win will be a short reign and dropped to Bray Wyatt. And we’re all pretty certain that Alexa retains her title.