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 a PPV every couple of 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, Seth Rollins took on Rusev, while Roman Reigns went up against Kevin Owens in a steel cage match. Rollins continued to hold to his conspiracy theory that Triple H and either Stephanie or Mick Foley is looking to keep him down. In the women’s division Bayley was added to the triple threat match at Clash of Champions, but fell victim to Charlotte in a tag match on Raw. Also, we saw the debut of the Cruiserweight Division, which should provide some excellent matches on the show going forward.
Over on SmackDown Live, a lot of time went to the midcard players as John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and AJ Styles didn’t show up until the very end of the night. Alexa Bliss went after Becky Lynch in a ferocious way during their contract signing by flipping a table on the champion. So let’s get right to it, starting with the eight awesome moments of the week!
15. Seth Rollins Goes All Out
After returning from injury, Rollins has been in a completely different world of chasing after the WWE title. He’s had numerous opportunities (against Finn Balor, triple threat match, and a fatal four-way) and has come up short every single time. He would say there is a conspiracy against him, that Triple H (and possibly Steph) are tired of him losing and this is his punishment (getting more title shots is weird punishment, but whatever). At Clash of Champions he will get yet another chance at the title going up against Kevin Owens… will he finally get back the title that he never actually lost?
On Raw, he faced Rusev, which ended in a double count-out as both men brawled outside of the ring. Rollins did a crossbody dive off the announce table, almost as a foreshadowing of things to come. At the end of the night, Owens took on Reigns in a steel cage match, which Rusev got involved in. As both men beat up Reigns, Rollins scaled the steel cage and jumped off, crashing down on both men. Anytime a wrestler put their body on the line like that automatically gets a gold star.
14. Jericho’s List
Jericho continued in his evil, yet comical ways as he brought out a clipboard and told the WWE Universe, “I’m gonna make a list of everything Foley has done as General Manager, and when I show him he’s not going to like…it!” The crowd bashed Jericho’s scarf and his response? “This is very trendy in Luxembourg.” How can you not like this guy?
As he continued on with his list at one point he looked to the crowd and said, “What did you say to me? You know what? You just made the list! Brace-face in row 12 is now on the list!” Cass and Enzo interrupted, which led to a giant 10-man tag team match, which wasn’t anything to write home about. Back to Jericho, who is having a heck of a year, going from an out of touch bore, to one of the best bad guys on the roster.
13. The Cruiserweights Shine
If you watched the Cruiserweight Classic, you should be familiar with Gran Metalik, Rich Swann, Brian Kendrick, and Cedric Alexander. All four wrestlers put on some amazing matches throughout the tournament that was shown on the WWE Network. If you happened to miss that, it’s seriously one of the best series WWE has produced this year.
All four men showed off their signature moves, which got plenty of pops from the crowd, even though it was the second to last segment to go on. The winner of this match would go on to face the current Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins and WWE decided to go with the familiar face of Brian Kendrick. You might remember when he worked in a tag team alongside Paul London, but he’s totally different now. His gimmick takes some ideas from pirates (no, he doesn’t actually dress up like one) with the long hair, pirate flag, and his finisher The Captain Hook (grounded reverse chinlock). Hopefully this division will breathe some life into the painful 3-hour long show.
12. Raw Fallout
Much like Talking Smack, some of the best content comes from what you don’t see on TV. Once Raw finishes up there are usually a couple of post-show interviews that are worth checking out on WWE’s YouTube channel. While bullet points are probably given, wrestlers get to think more off the top of their head when it comes to these clips, allowing more of their real personality to shine through.
This week we actually got to see TJ Perkins as he went face-to-face with Kendrick. Gran Metalik did an interview all in Spanish with Andrea D’Marco (who also spoke Spanish) which is a nice wrinkle as other languages are rarely used in interviews. The best one though was Jinder Mahal who is working this “inner peace” gimmick, trying to find himself while working for the WWE. He attempted to give some peace to the very insane Alicia Fox on Monday. After giving her a ton of inspirational tips, she just smiled and said “Are you hitting on me?! Oh my God, Jinder!” Jinder tried to peel away, smiling awkwardly at the camera as Alicia chased after him. So, be sure to hit up YouTube, because there is tons of gold every week that most fans barely ever check out.
11. Contract Signing Gets Violent
To kick off the show, the contract signing for the SmackDown Women’s Championship took place, and for the second time in three weeks the women got the spotlight. Bryan jokingly said “I know how these things can go, but we’re going to keep it civil,” the crowd booed, and in response Bryan said “No, don’t boo that!” Each Superstar came down and instantly started bantering back and forth. Alexa Bliss let Becky know that she was born to be a loser, that she doesn’t fit the mold of a champion, and is a one-hit wonder.
Becky comes back with some inspirational babyface stuff before Alexa slaps her in the face with the contract, signs it, throws the pen, and flips the table onto her! Initially, Becky stayed down, but she got up and charged out of the ring to get a piece of Alexa, who quickly ran away from the champion. For being relatively new to the main roster, Alexa is showing off just how good she is on the microphone.
10. The Miz And Bryan Banter On
Miz had a problem with his Intercontinental title match against (yet again) Dolph Ziggler. Bryan let him know, if he didn’t want to have the match, that’s fine, it’s just his newly negotiated contract will be cancelled, you know, fine print and all.
Miz went out and gave it everything he had to put down Ziggler for (maybe) the last time. Miz threw Ziggler into the ring post multiple times to slow him down as “Croward!” chants rang out from the live crowd. Miz continued to use Bryan’s moves doing the multiple drop kicks in the corner along with the “Yes” chant. Maryse tried to spray Ziggler again and got caught by the referee; she was then thrown out of the match. The finish came when Miz brought the title in the ring to distracted the referee and then sprayed Ziggler with that bottle of (according to Ziggler) ammonia. Miz remained the champ, although it seems like one more match might come into play since he got a cheap win, expect Bryan to figure it out next week.
9. The Usos Get The Big Win
The winner of this match would go on to No Mercy to face Heath Slater and Rhyno for the Tag titles. After targeting Chad Gable’s still injured knee, the Usos were able to separate American Alpha for much of the match. Initially, Gable got destroyed, but was able to get Jordan involved, while Gable was on the apron Jimmy took out his knee, yet again. The Usos were able to double superkick Jordan and get the big splash for the victory. It’s great storytelling as it makes American Alpha really work for that title, while giving the Usos some more credibility after turning heel.
Right after the match, Jimmy and Jey headed backstage and talked some smack to Slater and Rhyno, letting them know they only lost last time because they had two matches in one night. As Rhyno stared on, they continued: “I’m knock those damn crackers out your hand.” They looked over at Heath and called out those “26 raggedy-a** kids of yours,” and that’s when Rhyno had enough and crunched his entire plate of crackers – look out!
8. Naomi Getting More Love
Later in the night, Carmella and Natalya had a tag match against Nikki Bella and Naomi. When we came back from commercial three of the women were already in the ring and Naomi was able to get a full entrance on the show over Nikki Bella! This clearly shows that not only does she have an amazing entrance, but WWE has acknowledged this by not cutting her entrance in a segment that was clearly cut short. The tag match ended before it started with Carmella and Nikki’s feud causing a strange disqualification.
Getting back to Naomi, she gets the usual love from her fans, but even Sami Zayn tweeted out that entrance takes a ton of commitment to do. Lance Storm retweeted Sami and said he would be “blown up” (tired) by the end of that entrance. Naomi is certainly feeling the glow, but she yet to feel a title reign. Hopefully this gimmick will finally get her to the top of the mountain and make that summit glow.
7. Bo’s Downfall
Here we go again, “The tide has turned, and I slowly learned, that all of our bridges need to burn. As lovers come and go, friends turned to foe, I’ve come to know, that only I, can believe in Bo.” Yep, Bo went for another rhyme and all you could hear was crickets in the live crowd. The match wasn’t any better as “Let’s go jobber!” continued on for a second week in a row. If that’s’ the response he’s getting each week, they might not want to give him local competition going further.
The ending came when Bo shouted out “Bo-lieve!” with a long pause as he struggled to get his opponent into position, “In Bo!” After the win, he took up his sign and walked proudly around the ring. At least before he was getting laughs out of the crowd, now there’s just nothing from them. It’s going to take some time to retrain the fans to take Bo seriously, not sure if that’s going to be possible.
6. No TJ Perkins?
The Cruiserweight match itself was amazing, but there were some missteps in how the division was introduced to the fans. For starters, the WWE didn’t bring out the newly crowned champion to show off to the fans. It’s possible they felt too many new faces would hurt his debut, but it makes zero sense to at least show off the guy who’s at the top of the division. Whether it’s a backstage interview or just have him come out to the stage once Kendrick won his match.
For those who missed the tournament, Perkins was basically the underdog in all of his matches, going up against Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann, Kota Ibushi, and Gran Metalik. Less so in the finals, but fans were consistently surprised when he was able to defeat each of those guys who either already signed contracts with WWE (Gargano/Swann) or had more promotion time (Ibushi). He’s a fun mix of technical skills and entertainment (hope you like “dabbing”), with a smoothness that not a lot of wrestlers possess. At 31 years old, he already has 18 years of experience, thanks to his early start in wrestling.
5. Foley Fumbles
It’s too bad because of the brand split, Daniel Bryan or Mauro Ranallo couldn’t have introduced the Cruiserweights, even Triple H would have been an acceptable replacement. Unfortunately, out came Mick Foley, who honestly tried his best to put these guys over, but it just came off weird. First he stumbled over “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” then he put over the Cruiserweights in the most generic way.
Pushing them as full of heart and grit, reminding fans they are smaller, but can do big things! It’s typical stuff from a McMahon-owned company that fawns itself over the bodybuilder types going all the way back to the 1980s. When it came time to announce each of the guys, Foley pulled out a small card to read off each name and where they’re from. I get Foley wanted that so he wouldn’t mess up, but that just gives it the vibe that these guys aren’t worth committing to memory.
4. Please Stop Talking
David Otunga has been left alone for the past couple weeks, but he is easily the worst commentator WWE has at the moment. Last night he name dropped Adam Sandler while giving his amazing insight about the Usos. He then attempted to sing the hook to Drake’s “Summer Sixteen” and sounded like goat in the process. Everything he says sounds disingenuous, even if he’s actually trying, it comes off like that to the fans.
For weeks, when they cut to a commercial after serious segments, he kills the mood by sounding way too happy and too obvious about whatever he’s reading in front of him. There’s no chemistry between anyone on this three-man team and it’s definitely one of the weaker parts of SmackDown that won’t be changed anytime soon. Is it possible WWE could build a feature to mute certain announcers? Listening to just Mauro would be more than sufficient.
3. Jack Swagger Hurts Ears
Yep, we are going to continue to rip on commentary, because for whatever reason, they thought it would be a solid idea to bring Swagger to the commentary table. If you don’t remember, he’s never been a great talker (forget the lisp, he just isn’t dynamic at all), and needed the aid of Zeb Colter to speak for him in the past. Specific quotes would go here from last night, but he barely talked and when he did it wasn’t worth remembering.
Swagger came out during Baron Corbin/Apollo Crews and is clearly being booked towards a feud with Corbin. The silver lining in all of this will be when Corbin stomps out Swagger as WWE is very high Baron, you’ll remember he was drafted somewhat early by SmackDown. After the match, Corbin came over to commentary for a stare down, Swagger stood up, but didn’t do anything, like, not even a change in facial expression. Corbin pointed at him, said something, and walked to the back. Jack then took a few steps forward and stared out into the distance, possibly longing for his ECW Championship.
2. Apollo Lose
Unlike Swagger and Otunga, Crews is actually great; it’s just his booking continues to keep him at the bottom of the totem pole. Last night he finally came out to the ring with a serious demeanor, not a smile in sight. It didn’t matter as Corbin completely destroyed Crews for the third time in a row. Seriously though, how many times are they going to feed Crews to this guy?
Apollo actually cursed mid-match when he was getting smashed against the ring post, which got bleeped out. Not a huge deal, but someone backstage will probably ask him not to do that in the future. The match really didn’t matter at all, it was just meant for Baron to startup his next feud against Jack. No idea what is next for Apollo, he has to build his wins back up to get any kind of credibility. For now, he’s just out there to make others look better.
1. So Much Talking
Keep in mind, this complaint is ignoring all of the true reasons this feud has fallen a bit flat. Obviously their match at Backlash wouldn’t have been cancelled had Brock Lesnar not gone full ground and pound on Randy Orton’s skull. Thanks to that, Orton has been relegated to getting jumped backstage and talking on a microphone for most of this feud.
On SmackDown, Orton had a match against Erick Rowan, funny moment came when Orton strolled down to the ring, the camera cut to Erick Rowan, who was just standing in the ring with his very colorful mask on. You had to see it, but Rowan is such a giant goofball. Anyways, as expected, Orton put Rowan down in a hurry and then we get yet another backstage promo from Bray Wyatt. He said the usual stuff, Orton stood and stared, and that was about it. The amount of talking has heavily outweighed the amount of actual wrestling between these two, hurting the intensity just a bit. Just realized three out of the four awful SmackDown moments had to do with too much conversation, no lips, just fists!