The final PPV before Wrestlemania has gone, we’re onto the final stretch towards Mania. New champions were crowned and rumours that were doing the rounds since the beginning of the year with regards to the expected Mania match card appear to be coming to fruition. I must confess it was another week though where I neglected to watch 205 Live and NXT, but in my defense, Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is now out, and that has taken up pretty much all of my spare time. Welcome to Shoot Talk.
WWE Fastlane Recap: Seeing as we had a PPV, I figure I’d add another section to Shoot Talk to have a little recap on the PPV with a few highlights and thoughts.
Neville vs Gallagher: In my opinion the match of the night. Gallagher looked brilliant here.
Charlotte losing her streak: Well I did not see that happening. It was going to happen eventually I guess, but I hadn’t expected it to happen at this PPV, and I hadn’t expected it to be Bayley that would take that streak away. The fact that it’s resulted in setting up a Sasha vs Bayley vs Charlotte match for Wrestlemania is a good thing though. Shame Becky isn’t with these women as the 4 horsewoman put on some spectacular moments in NXT.
Goldberg squashes Owens: They did it, they really did it. They at least prolonged it a little bit by having Owens exit the ring multiple times, but all of these incidents happened before the bell even rang, so it wasn’t going towards the match clock to make the match seem long. At least the saving grace is that Owen’s can and did rightfully blame Jericho’s interruption for his title loss, so it doesn’t make it seem as bad a squash as Lesnar took, but still. So we’ll likely have Brock Lesnar as universal champion after Mania.
Chris Jericho returns to RAW Man….: And returned to an incredible pop from the Chicago crowd. It’s no secret if you’ve been reading this feature how much I’ve sung Y2J’s praise over the year and last year. His latest stint within WWE has been one of his best and he’s got a great reward for it in picking up the only title that he hadn’t claimed on his impressive resume with the US title. RAW opening up with Jericho’s music blasting resulted in one of the loudest pops of the night on RAW and it was awesome.
The Undertaker also returns: It’s definitely the road to Wrestlemania as one of WWE’s iconic figures returned to RAW in a staredown with Braun and then the big dog Roman Reigns. Every year we know Undertaker is going to feature on the Wrestlemania match card, and for the past few years it’s been kinda asked should Taker feature due to his physical condition and age appearing to catchup with him. But the moment the first gong from his theme hits and the lights go low, those feelings disappear and genuine excitement breaks out. I don’t want to see The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns at Mania, as you already know the result that Reigns is going to win. But seeing him return to RAW, despite knowing what’ll happen at Mania it was still such an awesome moment. He’ll go down as one of WWE’s greatest of all time and deserves every pop and bit of appreciation he gets. Plus it was great to see Braun act intimidated by Taker’s arrival and also great to see Reigns take a choke-slam. This is and always will be Taker’s yard.
Miz & Maryse attack Cena & Nikki: So as mentioned last week, Miz and Cena cut sensational promo’s that somehow have me now invested in this couple’s rivalry. This week on Smackdown after Cena and Nikki dispatched Ellsworth and Carmella, Miz and Maryse made their presence felt with attacks on Cena and Nikki with some more war of words from Maryse to Nikki. Miz and Maryse were also on commentary for the match and even though the actual match was just a squash, it did so much to further intensify this once ridiculous sounding rivalry. I legitimately mean it when I say I’m looking forward to this matchup at Mania and that’s all thanks to Miz and Cena being 2 of the very best in ring and on mic workers that WWE has.
Baron Corbin’s backstage assault of Dean Ambrose: It was a very brief but good segment to throw more fuel onto the IC title rivalry fire with Corbin beating the daylights out of Ambrose backstage with a metal pipe, then the grand finale was to squash him with a forklift truck. Nice to see more of the back stage segments. Smackdown continues to impress with the buildup of their rivalries.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn: Okay it’s not boring, these guys fighting will not get boring due to their incredible backstory from before WWE and then the trigger on their rivalry from NXT. But these matchups between these 2 should in all fairness be treated as big matches due to that intense rivalry. They shouldn’t be last minute Mick Foley created matches just because. Honestly, the way they’ve built these 2 up with the rivalry these fights should be seen as marquee events at big PPV’s like Goldberg vs Lesnar. They could treat this rivalry as their take at UFC type events. If it were announced that they’d compete at Summerslam, in the build up WWE could have their take on press conferences and interviews about each other. Build it up to be a huge clash of rivals.
Goldberg addressing Chicago: This was just a bad bad idea. CM Punk was strongly against having the WWE Championships on part timers, especially in Wrestlemania season. He strongly objected losing the title to Rock only for Rock vs Cena to be the Mania main event. So to have a part time champion in Goldberg, who will inevitably lose the title to another part timer in Lesnar address CM Punk’s home town of Chicago, of course you were going to get boo’s and CM Punk chants. Fair play to Goldberg for acknowledging the crowd, but still a bit of an oversight on WWE there.
The opening of Smackdown: Oh my god, this was so terrible. Bryan and Shane are great, but they were stretching the “AJ or Orton” bit far to much. We know that the end result was going to be Orton vs AJ for a shot at Bray. But this was ridiculous how they stretched out that decision. It just kept going and going and going… On a side note, where’s Harper gone?
Ziggler interrupting Mojo Rowley: Ziggler has fallen so badly, from the surprise win to become number one contender for the WWE Championship at Summerslam to some terrible attitude change and become so boring and irrelevant. The funny thing is that I’m not a fan of Mojo either (really cannot stand him) but if this is the signs of a rivalry that’s about to begin on Smackdown, I might actually end up liking Mojo due to this.
Austin Aries continuing to self promote: On RAW, Aries as normal joined Corey and Michael Cole on the announcer’s table as they prepared to talk us through the Cruiser weight action. As with previous weeks Aries once again reminded us that he will be making his way to 205 Live soon. This time however he wanted to tell us about his package. “It’s not a good package, it’s not a bad package, it’s the package, it’s my package!” After he delivered this line, it was entertaining to see Corey laughing his head off just before ‘the package’ started.
Enzo’s backstage diss of Cesaro: I’m liking where the RAW tag title picture is heading with Cesaro & Sheamus still sticking around and feuding with both Enzo and Cass and The Club. On RAW Enzo and Cass had a run in with Cesaro and Sheamus and an exchange of words happened of course, but the highlight was Enzo telling Cesaro to “Don’t get your pepperoni slice nipples in a twist Cesaro!”.
Steph shut’s down the Chicago crowd: So as mentioned above, the Chicago crowd were relentless with their CM Punk chants. Steph absolutely shut this down when she appeared in the ring. “That’s right, you’re all like CM Punk, you’re all losers!” The crowd legitimately stopped the chanting straight away.
Rich Swan vs Neville: As to be expected with these 2, an energetic high flying and also aggressive display.
Miz and Maryse on commentary: As mentioned this Miz & Maryse vs Cena and Nikki rivalry somehow is one of the best on Smackdown.
N/A – Did not watch
N/A – Did not watch
AJ Styles deserved better Wrestlemania Spot: So with this week’s Smackdown on the 3rd time of trying since Royal Rumble, we now know that Randy Orton will be Bray Wyatt’s one and only opponent at Wrestlemania thanks to Orton beating Styles. It’d been rumoured for some time that AJ would still be getting a Wrestlemania match, but against Shane McMahon. Each passing week since the Royal Rumble, or even since Survivor Series last year really, there has been a build of tensions between AJ and Shane. With AJ’s loss on Smackdown Live and that confirmation that the title picture is set that all but opens up the door for AJ and Shane to build on their rivalry in the coming weeks with the blowout being at Wrestlemania. This for one really annoys me. 2016 AJ Styles was no doubt the superstar of the year. He’s without a doubt one of the elites of that roster and hit the ground running from his debut at Royal Rumble 2016. For all that AJ has done for WWE since his arrival a match against Shane McMahon is not what he deserves. I like Shane McMahon, I personally don’t think that he should be deserving of valuable match time on Wrestlemania, and I definitely don’t think he should be in a match with one of the most talented and hard working members of the WWE. I know that given how the booking on Smackdown has been there aren’t many options left for AJ at Wrestlemania, but I can’t believe that Shane was even on the shortlist in the first place. I don’t doubt that the match will have entertaining moments, but based on how close Shane was to serious injury in his survivor series match, I question who thought it’d be a good idea to have him wrestle again. AJ is safe though, he’ll carry Shane, he’ll drag a half decent match too, but AJ should be getting some much better competition for Mania as he is a huge draw and attraction.
State of the Cruiserweight Division: It’s most definitely improving. The roster has character now, and these characters are actually starting to get a reaction on RAW now. Rich Swann’s music hits, and the crowd are reacting and dancing along whereas previously they’d just not care. Austin Aries got chants, Akira Tozawa is a superstar and getting over with the crowd. Jack Gallagher’s unique in ring moves get’s reactions from the crowd, and of course Neville is making this division his own. It’s one of my favourite things about WWE right now, and i’m glad that the stacked talent this division has is getting recognition.
Triple H’s new stable: So it’s rumored that HHH is creating a new stable and so far with Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens on board it’s looking pretty damn incredible. But someone who I think would fit in this stable really well would be Neville. He’s an ex NXT champ like Joe and Owens, he’s heel, he’s dominating his division. If he were to be part of this faction it’d also be another way to shine light on the cruiser division.
Last week I made a mistake with the Fastlane predictions, I had the table showing that Mike had joined Matt and I and predicted that Nia was going to beat Sasha. This was incorrect as he last minute changed to Sasha winning before I submitted the predictions, I just forgot to update the table. Turns out it was a good call for him as he now walks into Mania with a 2 point lead over me. Here’s how we did with Fastlane predictions:
So Mike had a very strong PPV, Matt not so much, here’s how we’re looking as we head towards our final PPV of the season:
It’s looking like it’s all but over for Matt, he’ll have to go for some very out there predictions at Mania in the hope catching and overtaking Mike. Pretty tight between myself and Mike though as we get close to the final points available at Mania. There’s alot of matches to score from though, so it could still be anyone’s.