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, the focus was on two things: the women’s division and the ever growing main event storyline. Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Dana Brooke went up against each other to finally determine who would take on Charlotte at Clash of Champions. There was also plenty of tension between Dana and Charlotte that ultimately became physical before the night was over. The main event storyline continues to be awesome as Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns orbit around the Universal Champion Kevin Owens, and in the background playing puppet masters are Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H.
Over on SmackDown Live, things began to heat up between newly crowned WWE SmackDown Champion AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, and a returning John Cena. Miz continues to be one of the most intriguing people on the show, the women have an excellent match to determine the next number one contender, and Heath Slater makes his roster spot official.
Now, let’s start off with the eight awesome moments of the week!
15. The Women’s Division Gets Equal Time
Foley welcomed out Charlotte (and Dana), and after some banter Sasha came out to talk about how she will win at the upcoming PPV. This prompted Bayley to join the party and let everyone know she should have a shot because she just beat Charlotte. Charlotte expected an apology from Dana because she lost to Bayley, instead Dana was added to the match between Bayley and Sasha to determine who will face Charlotte. Then Dana finally slapped Charlotte for popping off one too many times.
The bout itself was solid as Sasha sold her back injury for much of the match, making fans think she might not end up making it to Clash of Champions. She was able to pin Bayley in the end and continue on her quest to become champion again. Post-match Dana tried to apologize to Charlotte, and Charlotte told her to shut up and get her bags, so apparently they haven’t broken up quite yet.
14. Sami Meet Chris
Out for Jericho’s “Highlight Reel” segment, Sami got into a lengthy conversation about Kevin Owens with Jericho. Jericho told Sami he was the problem in their relationship and that Sami is just a taker. Sami responded saying that the “Gift of Jericho” sucks and that he’s become nothing more than “Kevin Owens’ B****!” Calmly, Jericho pulled out his phone to show Zayn a text from Owens, smacked him over the head with it, and followed that up with a Codebreaker.
The segment itself was a little stiff, but their matches will no doubt be awesome to watch. Plus, it finally gives Zayn something to do as he had been pretty much directionless since the WWE Draft. It would be surprising to Sami go over in this feud, but getting some time with one of the biggest heels WWE has will only get people cheering Sami that much more.
13. Cesaro Wins Another
Well, we’re at 3-2 as Cesaro continued to work through his back injury that is flaring up more and more as each of these matches progress. With only one more win, he’ll be able to tie things up and force this to a seventh and deciding match. In an interesting wrinkle, Cesaro ended up using the bottom rope as leverage to hold down his pin attempt. No, this wasn’t a heel turn, rather it shows how badly he wants to win the match and will do what’s necessary to get the victory.
While there is still a chance Sheamus could pick up a win in the next match, at this point, it seems like their headed to a seventh to decide a winner. Hopefully, WWE sprinkles these “series” in their programming more often; it’s a great way to make meaningful matches happen during their weekly shows. It’s also about the simplest way to make a storyline for two guys that are without direction.
12. So Many Feuds At The Top
The issues between the main players on Raw is becoming so complicated a chart is going to be needed soon to connect all the dots. To start off, Foley demanded that Rollins stay in the back while Roman Reigns took on Kevin Owens for a chance to be added to the title match at Clash of Champions. After a ton of needling from Owens, Rollins came down anyways and attacked him, which caused a disqualification. Foley was so mad he came out and restarted the match, which was incredibly physical.
Rusev then made a surprise return, distracting Reigns long enough for Owens to get the win. Post-mach, Rusev beat the crap out of Reigns, so it looks like those two are back at it again. While all of this is going on, Rollins still had this conspiracy theory against Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H. Are they all working together or only some of them working together? This story has many paths, trying to guess what will happen makes it that much more enjoyable for fans.
11. Intense Opening Segment
During his promo, Styles was full of jokes last night, yelling out “The champ is here” and “Champ that runs the camp.” He continued on, “Everything I’ve said is the truth and it’s the gospel!” Styles continued to stay smiling and cocky as ever, then suddenly John Cena showed up in the ring he asked for his armband back. Styles threw it back in his face.
Cena wanted to tie Ric Flair’s title reigns and that he’s coming for the title. Ambrose out next, gets right in Styles face, “You made the biggest mistake of your life on Sunday, boy. I’m not goin’ to just take back my title, I’m going to take it, with interest.” This is when the shoots came in with Cena calling out Ambrose and saying “You have no balls, Brah.” No, that is not a typo, Cena called him “Brah.” Ambrose returned fire and called Cena a lazy part-time who can’t go anymore in the ring. Shane McMahon came out and booked AJ Styles against John Cena and Dean Ambrose at No Mercy. Great segment by all three guys, if you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out.
10. Ziggler Won’t Give Up
Miz got on the microphone, “For weeks I’ve been called a coward and yet I’ve held the title longer than Pat Patterson and Triple H.” Eventually, Ziggler came out to tell Miz he’s just trying to sell to himself, because he will never be the top guy or true main eventer. It sounded kind of like Ziggler was talking about himself, but anyways.
Ziggler says to Miz he wants one more shot “One more time to truly prove himself, no Maryse, no ammonia, no stunt doubles, just you and me.” Maryse then grabbed the mic, which brought instant boos from the crowd, Miz took it back yelled, “Shut your mouths, while my wife is talking!” Daniel Bryan came out to let both wrestlers know they will indeed go one-on-one once more, but Miz said no way to the undeserving challenger and walked out through the crowd. Miz continues to be one of the best things going in WWE. If you are still hating on him based on opinions from five years ago – just stop, he’s awesome.
9. A Fiery Women’s Match
After a powerful promo by Becky Lynch, out came the other five women to figure out the next number one contender. Naomi’s entrance is still the best out of the group by a mile with the crowd goes nuts for her. When the match kicked off, Nikki Bella speared Carmella almost instantly, later on hitting her with a nice clothesline off the steps to the floor.
Funny moment came when Natalya slammed Naomi’s head on the steps and yelled “Yeah!” in a long and annoying way. Nikki grabbed Nattie and threw her hard into the barricade, doing the same taunt, which received a loud pop. The finish came when Nikki almost got Alexa into her finisher, superkick by Carmella out of nowhere, Alexa tossed Carmella out of the ring, and picked up the surprise pinfall. Alexa went from first one eliminated at Backlash to number one contender – not a bad 48-hour turnaround. If you haven’t watched NXT, Alexa is the best talking heel in the entire women’s division, maybe tied with Charlotte. The promos between Becky and Alex are going to be straight fire – don’t miss them!
8. Tag Team Main Event
Shane McMahon went all Teddy Long on the fans by booking a tag team main event in the first segment of the show. AJ was given the opportunity to find a partner which didn’t work out so well when Baron Corbin and Kane both turned him down. Daniel then appointed him a partner in the form of James Ellsworth, a jobber that fans went wild for a few weeks back.
Unfortunately for Ellsworth, he didn’t even make it to the ring when Miz came out and absolutely destroyed him on the ramp, then tossed him aside. Miz was not happy that guy was picked to be in the main event, so he took that opportunity himself. The match itself had the usual spots from everyone with Cena getting the pin on Miz in the end. As Cena celebrated, Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on him in response to their confrontation earlier in the night. Not really sure if that was a heel turn for Ambrose, but the Philly crowd (who typically hate Cena) booed Ambrose.
7. Giving Away Matches For Free
As you might remember, last week Gallows and Anderson brought out “The Old Day” in one of the worst segments to occur in recent memory. It was basically a bunch of guys dressed up as old guys for Karl and Luke to make fun of. The New Day came out, scared away their opponents, and beat up The Old Day… it was awful. This week, The New Day totally trashed those guys for putting on a garbage segment (which was funny that WWE admitted to such trash).
That part was fine, the awfulness came when a match was booked between the teams when in two weeks they are going to have a match at Clash of Champions. Sure, they threw in Xavier instead of Big E to change things up, but the PPV is just around the corner, why give away anything? More importantly, this says more to the lack of teams in Raw’s tag division though, it needs a lot of help, and it could use a revival (wink, wink).
6. Shining Stars: Grimey Salesmen
Now they are trying to swindle people into timeshares to Puerto Rico, R-Truth almost gave in, but Goldust quickly pulled Truth away from this nonsense. If WWE thinks having these guys hand out pamphlets is going to get them over, they are sorely mistaken.
Getting to their feud against Big Cass and Enzo, it’s now two weeks in a row where Primo and Epico cheated to get the win over them, this week it was in a singles’ match against Enzo. WWE will do their best to get these two guys over, but it’s just not going to happen. Yes, Cass/Enzo are over and ultimately it won’t matter if they drop a few matches, but when they do when at a PPV (in the match that matters) The Shining Stars will just go right back to the bottom. The only time the Stars won’t make the awful section is when they are released, that will be awesome.
5. The Match Of The Century
Booking Jack Swagger against Jinder Mahal is a great way to let fans take a quick nap during Raw. Is there anyone out there actually interested in seeing these two go at it? On the plus side, Mahal was given a story that he was gone from WWE, because he needed find “inner peace,” but he sounded kind of like a surfer dude in his promo, which made it difficult to take him seriously. Mahal got the “What?” treatment from the Philly crowd for pretty much his whole segment.
To make things worse, Swagger came out and ended up losing the match to Mahal. For Swagger, apparently his contract is running out (which will send him to SmackDown, we’ll go to that in a bit) and post-match, he’s asked about this from Tom Phillips. Swagger responded by breathing heavily into the microphone for ten seconds and then just walked away. Sorry guys, nobody cares… nothing wrong with being talent enhancement.
4. Bo Dallas Has Lost His Smile
Well, this gimmick continues to get weirder as the weeks go by. It looks like Bo has lost his smile, but not his rhyming skills as he grabbed the mic and in a very angry and serious tone proclaiming: “Lending help has got to go, there nothing left for me to show, I should have said this long ago, only I, can “Bo-lieve” in Bo!” Clearly, they have taken his previous gimmick and just made it more menacing – here’s the thing, it’s not believable.
He still kind of looks like his old gimmick, and the whole smiley, thumbs up thing he did before was so much better. The fans were so unimpressed with Bo’s performance they chanted “Let’s go jobber!” which Michael Cole acknowledged during the match. If you have the fans chanting for the local competition, that means something horrible has gone wrong and changes still need to be made to the character.
3. Hype Bros Ain’t So Hyped
Whenever a team doesn’t receive an entrance they almost always lose in the WWE. For this match neither team got one, so it was a toss up for a moment. After falling short of the tag titles in the semi-finals to the Usos, someone thought it was a good idea to put them right back out there again with the same team.
The Usos jumped all over these two and went right back to Ryder’s leg which they “injured” at Backlash, so he was effectively taken out of the match in a hurry. Mojo made his way in but ate a superkick and a Samoan splash for the very quick loss. Clearly, creative wanted to boost the Usos to be contenders, coming at the expense of Mojo and Ryder. With Slater/Rhyno and American Alpha at the top of the division, it seems likely these guys will not go on any winning streaks in the near future.
2. Crews Down And Swagger Appears
Initially meant to be a rematch from Backlash’s pre-show, Corbin decided to just beat up Crews on the outside before the match even got started. Pulling off the End of Days, Crews was taken out, so no match took place. Crews wasn’t doing anything before, but at least he was getting in a match, now he’s not even getting that!
Corbin hopped into the ring to taunt the crowd and from the back walked Jack Swagger, Corbin gave him a look and decided to roll out of the ring. Swagger then cuts a promo, starting out with “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the rolling stone!” The crowd was dead silent for that line (so awkward, please make it stop). He explained how his contract was almost up and he signed with SmackDown, the promo didn’t go over so well, minus the “We the people!” that fans can’t help but chant. SmackDown was fine without him, but honestly he was totally lost on Raw’s roster, so maybe he will find something to do on Tuesday nights.
1. This Is Going To Be Painful
After weeks of vignettes, there was slight hope that this gimmick would just be scratched, but alas it looks like Curt Hawkins will debut next week on SmackDown. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid them, his gimmick seems to be some weird take on Chuck Norris; you know all those “facts” that people made up about him? Yeah, that’s basically what Curt will be doing and not to be negative, but it will bomb.
You’re probably wondering about the picture above, he told one of his “facts” and the camera zoom out to a shot of his a**. Yeah, that should get over just great with fans. Hawkins has previously been with WWE in mostly tag teams with Zack Ryder, Vance Archer, and Tyler Reks. At no point did he ever really get over with the crowd, even when they tried him in singles’ competition towards the end of his first run in 2014. This failed run will most likely continue next week.