It’s that time of the year when the roster gets shook up a bit. Did it affect the layout of the championship scenes? Meh, a little bit.
The Universal Title
Jesus Christ, I thought this week’s episode of Raw would be all about starting afresh. If that’s the case, how come Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe cut the exact same promo as last week?
The biggest change between this week’s episode and last week’s was Roman’s garish watch and chain, and if Reigns isn’t going back to his NXT heel days, then quite frankly, he has no need of such tacky accessories. All it’s doing is making the crowd boo even louder in disdain for the bloke.
As much as I love Joe, he’s guilty of copy and pasting his promo, too. He added a bit more movement this week by strolling up and down the ramp a couple of times, but seriously, what the hell was this segment?
And the Universal Champion? I have nothing to report as he was nowhere to be seen. This entire part of the article has been about the No.1 contender and the fella he’s having a tiff with. WWE isn’t half making the Universal Title a difficult one to write about.
The Intercontinental Title
Seth Rollins was in the main event 10-man tag team match on Raw, but you’d be forgiven for not realising he was there. He was on the winning side though, so good for him.
There wasn’t much build up either on Raw or SmackDown, but after Samoa Joe was transferred to the blue brand, he said he’ll be bringing the title to Tuesday nights after he wins the ladder match at the GRR.
That’s about it, unfortunately. Joe definitely isn’t winning the IC title now he’s moved to SmackDown, but it was good to see someone on the roster hadn’t forgotten about the match, given all the buzz surrounding the Shake-up. A very crap week indeed for the IC Championship.
The Raw Women’s Title
Nia Jax wasn’t in a match this week, but she was on commentary during a fantastic bout between Ember Moon and Mickie James.
It was a huge mistake to put Jax on commentary for this match because the in-ring action was much more interesting than what she had to say. Alexa Bliss appeared from backstage to say she wouldn’t be joining the guys at the announcer’s desk as she didn’t want to be near the bully that is Nia Jax. It was kinda funny to see Bliss reverse the roles so much, but it would have been so much better as a post-match backstage interview segment. Anything that took the attention away from Moon and Mickie was certainly not welcomed.
It would have been for the best to lay the angle between the champion and “The Goddess” to rest. There’s nothing more Nia needs to prove, and Alexa has well and truly been thrashed. If this carries on after Backlash, then God help us all.
And if you get a chance to watch Ember’s bout against Mickie, then do so. You’ll see the absolute best Eclipse of all time.
The Raw Tag Team Titles
The tag division on Raw has been feeling stale as of the last few months, but things are definitely looking a lot more interesting.
The Bar now know who their opponents will be at the Greatest Royal Rumble for the straps, and surprise surprise, it’s Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt. Sarcastic remark about the predictability aside, the makeshift team of Hardy & Wyatt has been genuinely entertaining, and the former cult leader feels fresh as hell. WWE might actually have struck gold with this pairing. It’s a shame The Revival have been overlooked yet again, but I’m confident their time will come.
And Sheamus & Cesaro; oh my! They’ve been having a right rotten time as of late. After losing their belts to one man and a child, The Bar were beaten by Breezango this week as well. Tyler Breeze got the shock pin on Cesaro, and yes this definitely counts as a shock because it was Bree-pissing-zango.
With the new teams on Raw making their mark, WWE have decided to move The Bar to SmackDown in the Shake-up. Personally, I felt the time was right to split them up, but there’s no doubt they’ll put on some great matches with the likes of The Bludgeon Brothers, The Usos, and the debuting Sanity. Just a shame we know for sure they won’t be winning the Raw Tag Titles at the GRR.
The Cruiserweight Title
Bit odd this week. The champion, Cedric Alexander wasn’t on 205 Live, and neither was his opponent at the GRR, Buddy Murphy.
However, Murphy’s absence was explained to us by GM Drake Maverick. It seems the Aussie failed to meet the 205 lbs weight limit, clocking in at 207 lbs. With Murphy out, Alexander needs a new challenger for the bout in Saudi Arabia.
Maverick announced that on next week’s episode, there will be a gauntlet match to determine the new No.1 contender to the Cruiserweight Title.
Story-wise, it’s very clever to keep Murphy away from Cedric. The two will put on one hell of a match when they get round to it, and it’s smart for WWE to play the long game on this one. It was just strange the champion wasn’t around to react to the news.
The WWE Title
Understandably, the WWE Champion wants to know why Shinsuke Nakamura keeps punching him in the ball bag. He kicked off the show this week, but was interrupted by the arrival of Rusev Day. After a throw-away “match”, Rusev, English, Styles, and Daniel Bryan were scheduled to face off in a tag match in the main event.
The match was pretty good. Hearing chants for Daniel Bryan will never get old. The ending, however, was as naff as you like. Nakamura came from out of nowhere to hit AJ in the ol’ beanbag, and then the charisma-less nobody that is Big Cass returned from injury to boot Bryan for the DQ.
Seeing Nakamura go for the knackers is funny, but messing up the end of big matches isn’t. At this rate, “The Phenomenal One” and “The King of Strong Style” are gonna have to have a nut-kicking contest to see who deserves to be champion. I hope the creativity of this feud improves, because it won’t take long for this to get boring.
And while we’re on the subject, why Cass? Of all the opponents, all the viable options, we’re getting Daniel Bryan against Big Cass… What the hell, man!
The US Title
Remember when Jinder Mahal won the US Championship at WrestleMania, and it was absolutely terrible? And do you remember when Randy Orton became the No.1 contender last week, and we thought things had gone from bad to worse? Well things are looking a wee bit better now, aren’t they?
Jinder Mahal thought he’d be taking his title with him to Monday Night Raw, but Jeff Hardy beat “The Modern Day Maharaja” to become the new champion. Jindy-pops said in a backstage segment that he’ll invoke his rematch clause in two weeks at the GRR.
And then Hardy made his return to SmackDown. The US Championship is staying with the blue brand after all.
In his debut match for team blue, Hardy beat Shelton Benjamin in a really good contest. Both men are often praised for their work as tag wrestlers, but Hardy and Benjamin are fantastic singles competitors, and it’s great to see that they’re getting more opportunities to show it.
It’s been a busy old week for the US Title, hasn’t it? It didn’t take long for the formerly nefarious Brother Nero to bump up the stock of the belt and the fan’s interest in the upcoming title matches. Good call, WWE, very good call.
The SmackDown Women’s Title
I hate the fact I loved Carmella this week. She’s not the best wrestler in the world and she’s pretty annoying, and yet that’s precisely why her cash-in on the woman to beat was so good. This week, the newly crowned “Princess of SmackDown Live” was having a MellaBration in honour of her victory. She cut her promo flawlessly as well. She really got under my skin and annoyed me, which is fantastic. And then along came the former champion.
Charlotte Flair came out to congratulate Carmella for taking advantage of an opportunity, but just as it looked like “The Queen” was going to start a fight, The IIconics appeared on the stage to mock her. As expected, everything broke down, Becky Lynch made the save, and a match was booked between Flair and Billie Kay.
Kay took the loss via submission. It would’ve been a really nice shock to see Kay win, but Flair has to look good for her rematch for the title. After the bout, “The Princess of Staten Island” took the former champion out, and then ‘Mella and Peyton Royce set to work on Becky Lynch.
Then Asuka came out to join the fun! “The Empress of Tomorrow” cleared the ring, and Carmella escaped without harm to the top of the ramp.
The women’s scene has gotten ridiculously interesting. There’s so much potential for some great feuds now. The only thing that irks me is that next week, there’s definitely going to be another f’ing six-woman tag match. WWE, you have my attention, but please don’t keep doing the same old shit but with different superstars.
The SmackDown Tag Team Titles
It didn’t take long for this to get repetitive, did it? This week saw Jey Uso go up against Harper in what I can only describe as a glorified squash match.
Long story short, Jey lost. Things started to break down towards the end with Rowan and Jimmy get involved from the outside, which gave the former IC champion time to hit a discus clothesline for the W.
After the match, The Bludgeon Brothers started to smash things up, and Naomi ran down the ramp. She put her terrible acting skills to use with a laughable scream of terror to stop Harper & Rowan from decimating her husband with the mallets.
This was horrible for three reasons. Number one: Naomi was just plain bad. Two: it made The Usos look really weak. And three: The Bludgeon Brothers actually walked away. Why on earth didn’t they go for the kill and get some mega crowd heat?
Not a good week for the SmackDown tag belts. But I’m sure the new arrivals – Sanity and The Bar – will make things more interesting in the coming weeks.
The Shake-up has done its job and made the tired old rosters feel a little fresher. SmackDown in particular has gained a lot of star power; only time will tell if they squander it or make it work.