WWE Champions Corner (21-22 May): Money In The Bank Approaches
Brock Lesnar held an open challenge for his Universal Champi--just kidding! That would mean he would actually have to do something.
The champions in WWE are being hunted on the road to Money in the Bank. Some have strengthened their positions, and some have been flat-out humiliated. Time to see which champions walked away with their heads held high.
WWE Raw Championships
The Universal Title
He was name dropped by Roman Reigns in yet another promo where he complains about getting screwed over, which is something.
Hmm. Shall we just move on?
The Intercontinental Title
The IC Champ teamed up with Roman Reigns this week to take on the force of Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal.
The match was put together after Mahal interfered in a one-on-one bout that pitted “The Big Dog” against “The Prize Fighter,” which itself was pretty enjoyable. Seth evened up the odds for Roman, but seeing Seth run down the ramp all but guaranteed that there’d be no IC open challenge this week.
Even without the open challenge, “The Architect” still managed to steal the show from his partner and opponents. Rollins’ hot tag blew the roof off the arena, and he cleared the ring like only he knows how. The match ended when the IC Champ went for a Stomp, missed, and very logically decided to go for it again while Owens was still on his knees.
Overall, it was another excellent showing for the workhorse of Monday nights. Again, it’s a little disappointing that the open challenge didn’t return, but a good match is a good match, and it keeps Rollins’ streak red-hot.
The Raw Women’s Title
Nia Jax offered “Rookie” Ronda Rousey the challenge of a lifetime the other week, by giving her the chance to fight for the Raw Women’s Championship. On this week’s Raw, the two ladies signed the contract to make their match at Money in the Bank official.
For reasons unbeknownst to the world, Stephanie McMahon presided over the signing, and the results made for a very odd segment. Steph can cut a very good promo, much better than Jax and Rousey, but the whole thing played out with “The Billion Dollar Princess” doing all the talking for the wrestlers, with Jax and Rousey chipping in from time to time. Things got even weirder when the signing didn’t end in a fight. Since when do WWE contract signings not end in a good ol’ fashioned scrap? Rousey got the final word saying she’ll take the title and Nia’s arm, and then they stared at each other for what felt like an eternity.
I still don’t get what WWE are doing with Rousey, and even though I’m sure this title match will be as badly handled as these promo segments have been, they’ve got my attention. It’ll be interesting to see if this friendly rivalry turns into a full-blown feud in the next few weeks.
The Raw Tag Team Titles
Guys, I checked all of time and space, but Matt & Bray didn’t appear anywhere in the Woken Universe this week. It was a shame not to see them, but I’m sure they were just tied up with champion business.
On that note, Dallas & Axel are now 2-0 in tag matches since leaving The Miztourage in the dust. Could they be the next team to challenge for the titles? I hope so, it’d be WONDERFUL!
The Cruiserweight Title
The champion has a huge fight in store on the next episode of 205 Live, but given the cool demeanour of his pre-taped interview, he isn’t worried one little bit.
Cedric accepted that Buddy Murphy is going to be a challenge, but he reiterated that pressure is nothing new to him. The title match will be taking place in the champ’s hometown which Cedric believes gives him the advantage, thanks to the support from his family and friends. Vic Joseph did a great job of putting over Buddy Murphy, referring to how he has smashed through everyone in the cruiserweight division, but Alexander held his own and showed no fear.
This was a pretty good interview all in all. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but the champ came across as confident without being cocky, and Murphy himself was given a lot of credibility by Vic. I’m beyond excited for this match; they’ll have plenty of time to put on a fantastic bout, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a five star rating.
WWE SmackDown Live Championsips
The WWE Title
After defeating AJ Styles last week, Shinsuke Nakamura announced on Tuesday’s broadcast what stipulation they’ll be contesting in for the WWE Championship at MitB.
The challenger started by teasing Styles, saying they’ll go one-on-one in a Pillow Fight of all things, but after “The King of Strong Style” tried to cheap-shot AJ, the champ fought back with the brawl spilling to the outside. The two went back and forth, throwing each other into the barricades and swinging chairs around. The Japanese superstar got the better hand when he countered a Phenomenal Forearm with a chair shot and followed it up with a huge Kinshasa. With a grin on his face, Nakamura counted to 10, and announced he and AJ will fight in a Last Man Standing match.
Great work by both wrestlers; Nakamura is still killing it as a heel, and even went one whole week without punching the champion in the balls. The only problem I have with what went down was the match stipulation Naks picked. Their last bout ended in a double count-out, and the exact same thing could happen at Money in the Bank. After all we’ve been through, these guys need to put on one great match and end their feud. It’s time for someone new to be in the title scene.
The US Title
Jeff Hardy squared off against Daniel Bryan in the second chance saloon to qualify for a match with Samoa Joe, which in turn will be a qualifying match to compete for the MitB briefcase. It’s odd way to do things, but hey, we got a good bout out of it.
There was a lot of buzz about this match, and not just because of the Money in the Bank ramifications; this was also the first time that “D-Bry” and “The Charismatic Enigma” have gone one-on-one, and it certainly delivered. The two gave it their all to advance, but Jeff Hardy just couldn’t keep Bryan down. After WWE’s biggest Yes Man countered a Twist of Fate into a Dragon Screw, Bryan followed up with a tightly cinched Heel Hook that forced the champ to tap out, definitively ruling him out of the MitB Ladder match.
Just like when Hardy lost to The Miz, I was happy with the decision. One of the things that annoys me most is when a midcard champion is thrown into multi-man matches that have implications on the world titles. Jeff doesn’t have a challenger to his US strap yet, and in the coming weeks, he needs to focus on the belt he does have, as opposed to the belt he wants to have.
The SmackDown Women’s Title
The SmackDown Women’s Champion had her ‘MellaBration ruined last week after finding out she’d be putting her title on the line against Asuka at Money in the Bank, but Carmella seemed like her usual self this week.
In a backstage interview, “The Princess of Staten Island” psyched the WWE Universe by pretending to be scared of losing her title. But Carmella isn’t worried. She said she’s better than Asuka, and proved it by using Scott Steiner-style maths (Charlotte > Asuka, Carmella > Charlotte x2, therefore Carmella = better than Asuka). The champ has a lot of confidence, and she’s out to prove that ‘Mella is money.
‘Mella may or may not actually be money, but she certainly is gold on the mic. She delivered another flawless promo, showing why she is one of the top heels in the women’s division. Carmella hasn’t had a match in quite a while though, and she really needs to get more in-ring exposure if we are to take her seriously against Asuka. Otherwise, we’re in for another Backlash fiasco.
The SmackDown Tag Team Titles
The Bludgeon Brothers were presumably too busy playing with their melted WWE action figures and rubber mallets to cut a promo (or have a match this week), but The Usos and Gallows & Anderson squared off to determine who will be the No.1 contenders to the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.
The Good Brothers started things off on the mic, reminding The Usos that they blew their chance to take the belts from Harper & Rowan. Jimmy & Jey didn’t care for the way they were being talked to, so they reminded their opponents that SmackDown is The Uso Penitentiary. The Usos aren’t wardens though in the eyes of Gallows & Anderson, they’re NERDS!
The teams brawled, spilling to the outside. The ref called for the bell once both teams were back in the ring, and damn, they put on a good match. The offence went back and forth, which was a nice surprise considering how The Good Brothers often got the jobber treatment on Raw. After Karl Anderson knocked Jey off of the top rope, Jimmy got caught from the other end by Luke Gallows. Jimmy fought back, but the former Raw Tag Team Champions proved to be too much. A Superkick followed by Magic Killer put Jimmy down for good, and Gallows & Anderson became the new No.1 contenders.
I love that a new tag team are getting a chance to challenge for the titles. The Usos are rightly taking a step back to give The Bludgeon Brothers and the former Bullet Club members time in the spotlight. Gallows & Anderson were badly treated on Raw, but maybe now they’ll get the respect they deserve.
Money in the Bank is still four weeks away, and there are still so many champions looking for something to do. Who will step up to face Rollins? Which tandem will go after the Raw Tag Team Champions? Will Brock make a special guest appearance at any point? Come back again next week to see if we can find the answers.