Now that SmackDown has been moved to Tuesday nights, WWE fans are looking at three straight nights of wrestling with Raw on Mondays and NXT on Wednesdays. Then add on a PPV every couple Sundays, and that’s a whole lot of content to watch in a short period of time. To help out with this new flood of shows, each week going forward we will go over both the best and the worst that Raw and SmackDown has to offer the WWE Universe.
On Monday night, we saw Sasha Banks take on Charlotte in a main event that had the WWE Universe buzzing both before and after it was all said and done. Both women put everything they had into the match and delivered big time, you will not believe what Charlotte attempted midway through the match! Also, we find out who will be in the upcoming Hell in a Cell match.
Over on SmackDown Live, we finally have a match booked between Nikki Bella and Carmella after weeks of these two going at with vicious intent. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler put on yet another stellar performance that ended with some old “friends” of Dolph who were invited to the show by Miz. Finally, John Cena, AJ Styles, and Dean Ambrose faced off one last time before their big encounter this Sunday.
Let’s get right to the eight awesome moments of the week!
15. Hell in a Cell
The feud between Roman Reigns and Rusev has been going on since before SummerSlam and amazingly they’ve had only one match that didn’t end in draw or double count-out. That one match was at Clash of Champions when Reigns was able to put down Rusev and take away his beloved U.S. Title. Thanks to Lana laying down a challenge on Monday night, the two men are going to wrestle one more time, but Reigns decided to ramp it up a bit and make it a Hell in a Cell match.
It’s a good feud to put into this type of match as they have had the most physical matches (asides from Cesaro/Sheamus) over the past few weeks. This most likely will be another Reigns showcase as WWE is still trying to build him up as the next big star, dropping the cheesy babyface gimmick and allowing him to be a bit more middle of the road cool, hoping that will work instead.
14. Women Own The Main Event
It wasn’t a sure thing until the day of the match that Sasha Banks would get Charlotte in the main event of Raw, but once it was made official these two left nothing in their respective gas tanks. To give some background, the last time two women had a main event match on Raw, it was back in 2004 when Trish Stratus lost her title to Lita in an absolutely crazy match. Not to be outdone, Sasha busted out a suicide dive right off the start, dropping straight down on Charlotte in emphatic fashion.
The highlight for Charlotte was when she climbed to the top rope and pulled off an incredible corkscrew moonsault down to the floor, on the slow motion replay it was a thing of beauty. Before the match, Bayley took out Dana Brooke, so there were no shenanigans to be had in this one, just a straight up match that eventfully saw Sasha as the victor. Rumor is these two will go at it again in a Hell in a Cell Match, if true, that will be a first for women wrestlers.
13. Best Friends Forever?
Even if you’re not a fan of either of these guys, it can’t be denied their promos are almost always at the top every single week. This week the jokes continued as Chris Jericho added the entire New Day to his “list.” The live crowd tried to join in the fun between both men, but neither would let them cheer, calling the crowd “stupid idiots” and telling them to “shut up.” These two are true heels and want to be booed accordingly.
A moment of awkwardness did come when Jericho wanted to go after the tag titles, Owens said he was just too busy to add anything like that into his schedule and Jericho responded, “Well, it’s not like I’m saying I want a shot at your title.” After a half-second of tension, Owens quickly reserved his stance and said he wanted to tag titles! They ended up losing in the match against New Day, thanks to a Seth Rollins distraction, but it’s pretty clear these best friends are going to be split apart in the near future.
12. One Grumpy Tag Team
Even though it made no sense to make these two a tag team after their best-of-seven series, Sheamus and Cesaro are making the best of it by constantly bickering with each other. We see them pull up to the arena already arguing, Cesaro opened the back to get their bags and chucked Sheamus’ bag to the floor, which just got The Celtic Warrior even more fired up.
After getting yelled at by Mick Foley, they go out for a match; first Sheamus does his entrance which is quickly interrupted by Cesaro. Sheamus’ reaction was perfect, completely annoyed as Cesaro tears away his suit right in front of him. Sheamus then followed Cesaro and kicked pieces of his suit out of the way as they went to the ring. They continued to argue in the ring while still being able to beat the tar out of two local competitors. There have been rumors of Cesaro making his way out of WWE and this story is just a way for him to boost up Sheamus on his way out. Hopefully, that’s not the case and these two get those tag team titles.
Emma has been out of action for months after a back injury put her on the shelf and after being cleared over a month ago, WWE is finally getting her back into the mix. Since the Raw Women’s Division could still use some help, she’s going back to where her former friend Dana Brooke resides. Before getting hurt, Emma had reinvented herself as this dark, sunglasses/half glove wearing, egotistical heel that was just perfectly put together.
It now seems like WWE is going to tweak that gimmick with a name change and most likely a gimmick adjustment, as well. The name itself sucks, but her vignette showed her posing in a bunch of bikinis, so it’s possible she could still have an egotistical vibe, but just wearing less? We don’t know enough either way, but it’s awesome just to know Emma is coming back in a few short weeks…she’s been missed.
10. The Big Man Speaks!
After getting drafted to Raw, Braun has been repackaged as a giant monster, minus the whole Wyatt Family cult-like attitude. For weeks and weeks he’s crushed local talent without any problem at all. He was then given Sin Cara (not a major step-up, but at least he’s on the roster) and again, Braun and little problem putting him down.
This week, after annihilating some poor unfortunate soul, Byron Saxton jumped in the ring to speak with Braun about his competition. Strowman basically said he was tired of getting talent so beneath him and that he demanded that Mick Foley get him a bigger challenge next week or there might not be a next week! Honestly, it wasn’t a bad promo, as he sells the monster heel gimmick well and obviously has the physique to be believable. He still needs a lot of work in the ring, but with how much Vince McMahon loves bigger wrestlers it’s possible he could make his way into some serious mid-card feuds down the road.
9. Surprise: Miz And Dolph Are Awesome
This week on Miz TV, Miz decided to show off his recently created “Dolphumentary” entitled The Success of a Failure. It basically showed off all the low points of Dolph’s career including his debut as a caddie for Kerwin White (a horrible creation that turned Chavo Guerrero into this pompous middle class Caucasian heel), his time with The Spirit Squad, and his extremely short title reign. It was hilarious and is one of the must-see things that WWE put together this week.
After some back and forth, Miz was somehow able to top this by bringing out two members of the Spirit Squad (Kenny and Mikey) to do a bunch of anti-Dolph cheers. Both men then attacked Ziggler, initially getting the upper hand before Dolph was able to clear both men out of the ring. No idea how Miz and Dolph will top their previous matches, but it’s going to be a good one that could actually send Dolph out of the WWE for good.
8. Shots Fired!
It’s always impressive how SmackDown keeps their big stars away from the show until the very end, gives fans something to look forward to and allows them to receive massive pops from the live crowd. Anyways getting to the segment, out first was AJ Styles to talk about how he will beat both guys because he’s done it before. As Styles really got going out came Dean Ambrose who talked about why he’s so mad that Styles took the low road in their match and how Cena just had to interfere in his rematch against Styles.
Then Cena joined the party, but before he could even get a word out, Styles cut him off by telling him to shut up and that he shouldn’t ever compare himself to a legend like Ric Flair. Dean then jumped on him and said Cena has no respect for Ambrose, and that he wouldn’t ever be a kiss a** to Cena, he really went after Cena in this promo. John just basically took all of this until he simply said “Talk is cheap!” He quickly took down Ambrose and full on brawl took place with each man getting a chance to hold up the title before someone else took them out. All of these guys have had great matches with each other, so this triple threat should be just as good.
7. Golden Truth
Goldust and R-Truth seem like really nice guys and are a great presence to have in the backstage area, but at what point is WWE going to pull the plug on these two? Aside from propping up younger talent, there is just no point nor interest in anything that they do.
Now we have R-Truth’s lyrics on the screen with a bouncing Goldust face to help fans sing along, please, stop the pain. After New Day and Cass/Enzo, there is a steep drop off in what the tag division has to offer. WWE can try to pump up Gallows and Anderson but they just got dropped multiple times by the New Day, so you’re not fooling anyone. The division is so bad they have to bring in singles’ wrestlers (Jeri-KO and Sheamus/Cesaro) to help fill in the gaps. It’s clear this division could use a “Revival” since nobody is going to latch onto Golden Truth or The Shining Stars.
6. Kendrick Beats The Champ
The Cruiserweights are having a tough enough time getting over with crowds as is, so to have their champion already lose in a non-title match, makes absolutely no sense at all. At the moment the only real feud in the division is Brian Kendrick and T.J. Perkins, while everyone else is basically a guy fighting another guy. At this point, WWE needs to develop some kind of stories (even simple ones) to get fans invested in what they are watching.
On Raw, Kendrick got another shot at Perkins and was able to come through winning via his Captain Hook submission. Even though it was non-title and will probably lead to another championship match between the two wrestlers, you just can’t have the new champion (who has a new title) lose that quickly. Even if Perkins wins their next match, WWE needed to establish a shred of prestige first before being able to book matches like they did on Monday night.
5. Can A Winner, Be A Loser?
It’s a good thing Titus is great with media appearances, because they really have tried everything with him when it comes to working in the ring. He’s been in both singles and tag competition, face/heel, serious/funny, and nothing has really grabbed the audience. After an abysmal feud against Darren Young now they are trying this “Make it a win” gimmick. The only problem is he went out against Sami Zayn and lost clean, so that’s kind of counter to what his gimmick is all about, right?
WWE can’t put that kind of gimmick on a guy who isn’t actually going to win much, unless he’s going to just be a comedy routine, which is possible after his one-man press conference after Raw. Titus hasn’t quite reached “Get off my TV” status, but at 39, it seems like he’s reached his ceiling with the company – he’ll have a few good segments and a lot more bad segments.
4. Orton Traps A Wyatt
To kick off the show, SmackDown decided to go with a Kane vs. Bray Wyatt rematch that exactly nobody was interested in seeing. Luckily, Randy Orton got on the TitanTron just after the match started, and he was upside down (weird). Attempting to be stranger than Bray, Orton taunted him away from the ring, which resulted in a count-out win for Kane.
In the grand scheme of their feud, this match doesn’t matter, but it just made Bray look stupid to just walk away from his match, like he couldn’t finish up first and then go find Orton. They basically did the reverse of last week, with Bray hunting down Randy, but it just wasn’t quite as good. Orton was able to locked him in a storage unit, not remembering that Bray can just teleport wherever he wants. Which is what he eventually did when Randy came back to check on him. In a feud that has done well enough without a ton of actual wrestling, this was a swing and a miss.
3. Bottom Of The Barrel
Touted as the better show, this week’s SmackDown wasn’t the greatest, especially in the first hour. The low point came when The Hype Bros took on The Vaudevillians (who didn’t get an entrance, so you know how this one went) in a match that the live crowd really didn’t get hyped for. Zack and Mojo get some pops here and there, but Mojo is just such a clown, doing some stranger hammer dance that made social media scream in horror.
To make matters worse, The Ascension out to the ramp to check out the action in the ring. They literally just stood there the entire time until the Hype Bros won, gave them some disdainful look, and that was that. Yes, everyone needs to get some TV time to stay relevant, but this was a throwaway segment that just capped off a weak first hour.
2. The End Is Near
“When Curt Hawkins goes swimming, sharks beach themselves!” Yes, Hawkins received yet another vignette, but this time it came with an actual announcement, which was his big debut would be at No Mercy, when he finally steps into the ring. Most likely, it will be against some local talent so he can actually get a win to kick off this amazing gimmick.
Seriously though, even with a weaker episode of SmackDown, Curt still manages to find his way into the awful section. With some gimmicks maybe there’s a glimmer of hope, some way that it won’t absolutely die out in the ring, but there’s just nothing to grab hold of with this one. He’ll beat up some local competitors, probably get on the mic and say a few one-liners that won’t go over well, and he’ll be losing to Apollo Crews in about a month.
1. SmackDown’s Missing Talent
Part of the blame for this week’s sub-par show might be on who wasn’t booked that night. Apollo Crews was nowhere to be found, which might be a way to let fans forget about his losing ways and give his character a breather. It also allows fans to simply forget about him, since he hasn’t done anything notable in weeks; at least give him a quick squash match to start some kind of rebuilding process.
Naomi doesn’t have an actual feud yet, but that entrance of hers should be on the show every single week – it was truly missed. Same goes for Eva Marie who’s suspension ended two weeks ago, and yet she’s nowhere to be found after having such a hot start. Here’s a thought, have Naomi come out and part-way through her entrance have Eva Marie interrupt it. The live crowd would surely boo her out of the building for not feeling the glow.