WWE’s new season is off to a great start with a roster shakeup taking place on the 2 main shows. The shake up is very welcome as it’ll enable new feuds to be built, new story lines to be created and will pit new competitors against each other again. The worry is that certain stars going to RAW might been seen as a bit of a demotion based on how well they’ve improved on Smackdown. You also have the excitement of potential wasted superstars on RAW finally getting the spot light on Smackdown. We have also decided our first available points for Book It Vince Season 2 will be from the superstar shake up. But that’s explained some more later on.
Aside from the shake up in WWE there’s been a controversial headline doing the rounds with regards to JBL as the main perpetrator to Mauro Ranallo’s recent off TV time. It’s believed that JBL has been ‘bullying’ for lack of a better word Mauro and causing him feel depressed. Mauro has been a long time sufferer of depression so the news that JBL’s comments and actions have caused Mauro’s recent health issues is quite sad and horrible to hear. Smackdown Live fans were sure to let JBL know they’re feelings of it all with a chorus of boos and “fire Bradshaw” chants. One WWE Fan was evicted from the stadium due to a sign he was holding in reference to this bullying issue. It seems to have gained mainstream attention away from just WWE fans as Sports Illustrated covered the story too. On the latest episode of Smackdown Live there was a very different style to JBL’s commentary and on occasions where Byron Saxton would say something that would previously be ripped apart from JBL (or Corey on RAW before the shakeup) JBL just let it go without following up on it. So it would appear he’s been told to tone it down a bit. Mauro’s passionate commentary is sorely missed by myself. He made match ups feel alot more exiting thanks to his unique quips and take on the events that were unfolding, and you’d known you’d seem something spectacular when the signature “Mama Mia!” line came out. Apparently Mauro might now be with the WWE after August, I really hope this isn’t true. I wish him well in his recovery.
And away from WWE further shocking news from New Japan Pro Wrestling. In the IGWP Heavyweight Championship between Shibata and Okada at Sakura Genisis. The two of them partook in a incredibly stiff match. Shibata was to the point of his signature clash of heads headbutt that saw blood trickle down his head. The match would eventually be won by Okada to retain, but the event’s after are where the worry lies. Shibata apparently collapsed on the way backstage and would complain about his right side being paralyzed. He was taken to the local medical facility and diagnosed with a subdural hematoma, if like me you don’t know the extent of the seriousness of that, it’s basically blood was gathering between the outer layers of his brain. He has since had surgery and there are legitimate question marks as to if Shibata will wrestle again. Such a shame as he’d been having the run of his life in NJPW as of late. Again here’s hoping that everything goes well for him.
Bray Wyatt targets Finn Balor: During RAW there had to be some elements of business as usual. And that means there had to be some wrestling still on the show as well as the excitement of superstars swapping shows. Finn Balor squared off against the seemingly on the up Jinder Mahaal. This match was stiff, really stiff. I have a bit of respect for Jinder, he has changed his physique (apparently naturally) massively since he was released when 3MB fell apart. His latest heel persona is very good and all around he seems to have improved a lot. But this match was the most brutal he’s been and pinpointed areas he needs to improve. But that’s beside the point. Upon Finn picking up the victory over Jinder, Bray’s signature screen cut happened to a great reaction from the crowd. Bray confirmed that he would still be challenging Randy for the WWE title, but warned Finn that Bray was here on RAW. Bray’s recent paranormal promos have been sensational on Smackdown and his character seemed revitalized on the blue brand. Hopefully this shuffle doesn’t mean Bray loses momentum, but if his first opponent on RAW after Randy is Finn then we’re off to a good start. The eater of worlds vs the Demon King. It could have one of the best, most creepy and psychological build ups in recent memory. Plus they can both work good matches to boot. Looking forward to this one.
New Day leave RAW, Revival take their spot: Last week The Revival made their main roster debuts on RAW to a great reaction from the crowd, which did turn to boo’s once they kept attacking Kofi after the match. Kofi is off now having surgery so it was a clever move to have The Revival “Break” Kofi’s ankle to build up some heat for them. This week The New Day approached the ring on RAW paying homage to their fallen brother with an inflatable Kofi Kingston. The Revival made their way to the ring sporting T-Shirts reminding us of their achievements in week one of their main roster tenure. One T-Shirt saying “We broke Kofi’s ankle” the other displaying a picture of New Days ‘Popcycle’ with the dates 2017-2017. Little things like this can go a long way to ensure Revival remain one of the top heel teams on RAW.
Alexa Bliss to RAW: This was indeed Awesome. The women’s division is incredibly strong, it’s quite possible people can be forgotten in this talent pool WWE women are in right now. Alexa has done wonders for her career on Smackdown Live and is legitimately in the top 5 of the company male or female in terms of microphone and promo work. As Sasha and Bayley are exchanging pleasantries to each other, Alexa’s music hits and like many of the ex Smackdown roster members, received a great reaction. I was very pleased to hear this as I’ve become very fond of her over on Smackdown. It’s all about the 4 horsewoman of NXT and to break into the WWE’s division after that is seen as a challenge. Alexa has broken that barrier down to be considered one of the top women of the division. I look forward to her dominating RAW, especially as Charlotte who is without a doubt the greatest performer in the woman’s division now headed to Smackdown.
Smackdown Lives Opening: What a way to start off Smackdown after the Superstar Shakeup. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn moved over to the blue brand and AJ Styles remained on the blue brand. It was incredible seeing these 3 guys (and Corbin was there too) in the ring together, and better yet, then in there giving a shit about the United States Championship. That’s some serious players in the fray for the title. It’ll be good to have the belt build some prestige again. Throw into the mix that Rusev will also be on Smackdown, and their roster looks pretty damn good with Nakamura, Ziggler & Tye Dillinger too.
RAW’s actual wrestling: This week’s RAW will most likely be able to fill up an entire episode of botchamania to itself. There were some absolutely shocking performances from a lot of the roster. And it pains me to say it that even The Revival have to take a look back at their tag match with New Day as they almost broke Xavier Woods neck. Nia Jax is looking the most likely candidate to be the next woman’s champion on RAW with week after week of standing and looking strong at the end of segments, but her match against Charlotte really exposed how far away she is in terms of competing at that level. On plenty of occasions I had to wince when watching as it looked like Nia was trying to murder Charlotte. And as mentioned previously, Jinder who seemed to be on an slow upward trajectory put on his stiffest performance as of yet to leave Finn Balor suffering a concussion and out for 2-4 weeks.
Curt Hawkins to RAW: Not a lot to say here but why? He had nothing to do and contributed nothing of value to Smackdown, so his WWE career seems like it’ll be all but over on RAW. Unless he’s here to be the legitimate squash match victim to the likes of Brock, Braun, Roman & Bigshow.
Apollo Crews to RAW: Why… Why why why. Poor Apollo. Smackdown is the land of opportunities and now with their roster appears to be the show of indie darlings that Daniel Bryan wants. Apollo should be on this show. Him squaring off with Zayn, KO, Rusev for potential US title shots. Now he’s likely to be in the same level of use as Hawkins. Unless they potentially pair him up with his long time friend and ex tag team partner Akira Tozawa from the cruiserweight division. I’d be very happy with that possibility.
Dean Ambrose congratulates John Cena & Nikki Bella – RAW – 10/04/2017: Miz has been absolutely killing the John Cena impressions as of late, and took his impersonation to RAW on Monday night with his wife Maryse. Dean Ambrose another SD mover to RAW came out to congratulate who he believed was Cena and Nikki on their engagement and played the stupidness of it perfectly. Amrbose then laid into Miz and Maryse while still under the assumption he was sharing the ring with Cena and Nikki. Once Miz revealed it was him all along, Dean’s shocked face was priceless, he’s not been overly entertaining as a wrestler as of late, but you cannot fault his commitment to this clueless lunatic character. With that he laid The Miz out with the dirty deeds. I’m okay to see Miz and Ambrose feud for the Intercontinental title.
New Day introduce Kofi’s temporary replacement – RAW – 10/04/2017: As mentioned The New Day brought down an inflatable Kofi Kingston to ensure Kofi would be with them in spirit. When on the mic Big E would address the crowd and wanted to confirm they were all aware that this wasn’t the real Kofi Kingston. “This may come as a surprise to you, but this is not actually our brother Kofi!”
The House that AJ Styles built – Smackdown – 11/04/2017: During the buildup to the triple threat match, and the new SD stars making their introductions to the show, AJ Styles came out and gave everyone a reminder just why Smackdown is so good right now. “This is not the Kevin Owens show, this is Smackdown Live!, It’s not about the Underdog from the Underground, it’s definitely not about the lone wolf, this is about me, the house that AJ Styles built, and I’m still here!”
Drew McIntyre NXT is the place for him – NXT – 12/04/2017: After his impressive main event match, Drew was interviewed on the ramp and mentioned about how he’d built his stock up over 2 years. He then mentioned he had offers to sign all over the place, “I’ve got the RAW talent, I can put the Smackdown on anyone, but I want to be right here in NXT”. Nice little digs at the main shows.
Brauns backstage attack of Roman: Seriously, some of the best of RAW for a long time. Braun was relentless in punishing Reigns. And what made this all the better was the crowds chanting. Telling Roman that he deserved it when put in the stretcher, the crowd chanting yes in approval as Braun appeared from nowhere to hijack the stretcher and push it off a ramp. And the pure sillyness of Braun picking up and tipping over an ambulance. It was superb.
AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn vs Baron Corbin: These 3 put on a great main event to determine the number one contender for the United States Championship. Pretty incredible to have these guys battle it out to be contender for that championship, but I guess this is due to the WWE Championship still locked in a Bray & Randy feud for one more PPV.
Jack Gallagher vs TJ Perkins: This was a perfect showcase of what the cruiser division can be. High flying, technical and physical. TJ Perkins heel change is very welcome and can reinvigorate him. The match was a glowing example of the division and did both these guys wonders in raising their stock. The suplex from the top rope was spectacular and every brutal headbutt was sold well. The numerous submissions were all equally impressive too.
All of NXT: Seriously, it’s hard to pin point one specific highlight, it was a very strong episode of NXT all through. The start with Alister Black squashing a jobber. DIY’s tag match was great and made an unknown of Dillion Miley look very good. The women’s match featuring new signing Ruby and Nikki Cross gate crashing. Plus the reminder of Ember Moon’s loss. Drew McIntyre looking in incredible form in a very strong main event display from both himself and Oney. And of course the goodbye to Nakamura. When the entire roster made it to the ramp to say bye, the quality of the stars NXT has is now in the same level ability wise as the ‘golden’ generation of Zayn, KO, Itami, Finn and Joe. A very strong episode of NXT that gets me excited about how the show is getting stronger and stronger despite the frequent raids of talent for the main shows.
TJ Perkins Character change: During RAW TJ Perkins had a rapid change of character from the guy that dabs and gives fans sunglasses, to the guy that dabs and embraces boos. He seemed very smug and cocky (exactly what they should have been doing with Roman) and it just worked. TJ had a tough start to his WWE cruiser career with fans not overly happy with him from the off. So this change as a heel character is a welcome change. It can keep him involved in many feuds with other faces in 205 live now and help push the faces on the show over more too. TJP cheating to pick up a win over Mustafa Ali? Or have him break Gallaghers umbrella over his back? It writes itself. Look how reinvigorated Neville is now as King of the cruisers. I’d be happy to see a heel off with TJP and Neville down the line too, which based on the end of 205 could be in the cards. A nice double cross storyline potentially on the cards?
Kalisto to RAW: And staying with the cruiser weights. Kalisto is finally on the show in which the cruisers are relevant. This is about time and adds yet more prestige to the division in a big and popular name within the WWE. A former US champion renowned for his high flying matches and daredevil antics is a perfect addition to the increasingly impressive roster. Now just start integrating the cruisers a little more backstage with the main roster personal, so their presence is more seen and we could be onto something.
Aiden English: On Smackdown Aiden English was fed to the incredibly over Tye Dillinger. But what was pretty decent was that Aiden was given mic time and even to acknowledge that he was now flying solo. It appeared to tease the start of his singles gimmick demanding the spotlight on himself and then bursting out into song. Okay, I didn’t say it was a good gimmick, but it’s good to see he hasn’t been completely neglected, especially given how badly the Vaudvillians fell from grace on the main show.
Nakamura Reactions: Since Nakamura has been on Smackdown Live, he’s said fewer then 10 words, he’s not laid a single punch on anyone, in fact the most physical thing he’s done on Smackdown is dancing his way to the ring in his usual style. But he doesn’t need to do anything and the fans eat it up. Once his music hit both weeks since Mania, the crowds have been nuclear levels of loud for him. Chanting his name, singing his entrance song long after it’s gone. In his latest ring encounter with Ziggler he didn’t need a long and complicated or passionate retort to Ziggler asking who he was? He just repeated the question, “Who am I?” to which the sold out arena chanted Nakamura insanely loud. It feels like it’s been a long time since a WWE superstar got these levels of reactions, perhaps Daniel Bryan was the last time. So hopefully WWE doesn’t let a good thing get buried. Smackdown featuring AJ Styles & Nakamura in their current levels of popularity is a real catch for the show. Hopefully good story lines continue in the show and these guys as well as the exciting roster continue to elevate Smackdown Live.
Season 2 is off, and we’ve started the 2nd season of Book it Vince based on the superstar shake up. What we decided to do was pick 5 stars we thought would move from RAW to Smackdown, and 5 stars that we thought would go the other way. We decided points wise that whoever had the most correct guesses would get 2 points, second place 1 point and 0 points for last place. Well here’s who we picked.
So to explain we listed which superstar was going to which show, Matt and I got 4 from 10 correct, Mike got 5 from 10 correct. So he takes the 2 points for first place. As Matt and I tied, we got a point each. So we’re all off with at least a point before the first PPV of the new season Payback.