It’s been one week since the Shake-up, so let’s see if all the switching around has done the champions in WWE a world of good or absolutely nothing.
The Universal Title
Speaking of absolutely nothing, Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, and the Universal Champion (BRRROOOCK LESSSSNAR!) had their billionth pointless segment this week.
There’s nothing of note to cover, so long story short, Heyman said Lesnar will win, and Roman politely disagreed. Yawn.
Lesnar has been the Universal Champion ever since I started this column, and it’s got to the point where there is absolutely nothing else to say. I hope Reigns wins the belt at the Greatest Royal Rumble, because we sure as hell need an active champion and a charismatic challenger to fight for the title. And if the details of Brock’s new contract are to be believed, he got $100,000 for that segment last night. I can’t wrap my head round it.
The Intercontinental Title
Team Slingblade were back in action this week – Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor might as well just become an official team at this point – in a match-up against the leaderless Dallas & Axel. The former Miztourage members failed in reforming The Shield with the IC Champ, and then were unsuccessful in restarting The Bálor Club with, well, Bálor. I guess it isn’t for everyone after all…
Dallas & Axel put up a decent fight, but there was only one way this match was going. Following a Stomp from “Grand Slam Rollins” to Curtis Axel, the IC Champion tagged in “The Demon” to hit Mr. Perfect Jr. with a Coup De Grace for the win.
Seth has picked up some wins since becoming the Intercontinental Champion, but with The Miz gone, Rollins needs to move away from The Miztourage and Bálor and find a new storyline to get involved in. Hopefully, after the GRR, a new challenger will emerge to keep the title scene interesting.
The Raw Women’s Title
I’ve officially found something worse than a six-woman tag match: a 10-woman tag match. But before we get onto that monstrosity, Alexa Bliss had a public service announcement she wanted to share.
Bliss shared a story with us, about how Nia Jax ate a burrito bowl that Bliss selflessly gave to an old homeless woman, because our Raw Women’s Champion is a bully. Alexa told Nia’s team mates not to stand by while “The Irresistible Force” bullies her way through the roster.
Now onto the match which was actually billed as the main event. The champion, Jax, again did very little but that’s not surprising when there’s just so many people crammed into one bout. One cool thing she did was take out everyone by jumping from the apron to floor below. Everything else seemed to revolve round Natalya’s leg, which set up for the obligatory Ronda Rousey appearance. As Mickie James stomped away at Natalya, “The Baddest Woman on the Planet” came to her friend’s aid. Mickie hit Ronda with a baseball slide, so the former UFC Champion retorted by putting her in an armbar.
Corey Graves was shouting about how Rousey continues to impress and dominate, but she actually cost her friends the match, so tell me, Corey, how is that impressive?
This was just a big mess for the title holder to get lost in. If WWE wanted to apologise to the ladies as they ain’t going to the GRR, this was a terrible way to do it.
The Raw Tag Team Titles
On Raw, Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt had a match against The Ascension to fine tune their skills before the Greatest Royal Rumble.
The odd duo continues to entertain, and even though it was obvious they were going to win, Konnor & Viktor got in some pretty good offence. Viktor even got a round of applause from Matt and the audience for his wheel of cart; it was wonderful!
Over on SmackDown, Sheamus & Cesaro cut a promo interrupting The New Day’s pancake party saying that they won’t be on SmackDown for much longer. Once they win the Raw Tag Team Championships at the GRR, they’re jumping back to team red.
Matt & Bray are doing some really good work, and their title victory is all but guaranteed. What intrigues me more though is working out who will be the next No.1 contenders for Backlash.
The Cruiserweight Title
After Buddy Murphy exceeded the 205lb weight limit, Drake Maverick set up a gauntlet match to determine Cedric Alexander’s new opponent for the Greatest Royal Rumble.
There was a lot to cover so I’ll keep it brief. Mustafa Ali beat TJP to kick things off, then Ali and Tony Nese were put out to pasture by Drew Gulak, the MVP of the night, before Kalisto got the pin on the absolutely knackered Gulak. Whilst celebrating with his House Party team mates, the champion himself came out to applaud the Lucha star’s victory.
I’ve not done the gauntlet match much justice, but find time to go and watch it. Gulak was absolutely sensational, and I’m surprised he didn’t go all the way. Kalisto winning seemed like an odd choice, but the man has great talent so we should still be in for a treat at the Rumble.
The WWE Title
Days before their clash at the Greatest Royal Rumble, WWE Champion, AJ Styles, teamed up with his Club brethren to take on Shinsuke Nakamura – rocking a new heel theme – and Rusev Day.
It was great to see The Club back together; AJ, Gallows and Anderson have great chemistry and you can tell they enjoy being part of a team. However, I thought it was strange that Rusev and Aiden English thought nothing of joining up with Nakamura, who was kicking their arses for fun throughout Mania season. The Japanese superstar picked up the win by walloping Gallows with a Kinshasa to the back of his head.
After the match, the champion lunged at the challenger, only to be taken out with, you guessed it, a smack in the bollyboos. With AJ clutching his balls yet again, Nakamura went to hit his foe with a Kinshasa, but Anderson dived in harm’s way and took the bullet for his friend. Nakamura hit Anderson with another finisher while Styles was forced to look on.
I’m glad to see an AJ match not end in DQ this week, and the match was pretty good too. Nakamura has played the heel role so well and so naturally that I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked into SmackDown next week as the WWE Champion.
The US Title
The US Champion wasn’t in action this week, but he had a ringside seat for a match between Randy Orton and Shelton Benjamin.
Like last week, Shelton proved he can go toe-to-toe with anyone in WWE. He put on a very good match against “The Viper”, and I’m pretty sure he’s the only man in history to actually roll away from Orton when he starts pounding the mat for the RKO.
Following a distraction by Sunil Singh – who ate an RKO for chop-blocking Jeff Hardy – Shelton hit Paydirt on the 13-time world champion to get the win.
Hardy didn’t have much to do this week, but it’s interesting to see Shelton Benjamin move properly into the midcard scene. He’d be a great No.1 contender for the US Title after Backlash, that’s for sure.
The SmackDown Women’s Title
The champion and challenger signed the contract this week to make their match at Backlash official. I only have one word for this segment: WOOOO!
Just kidding, I have a few more words.
Carmella is playing her role as an annoying, entitled, brat incredibly well. She got all wound up for being introduced first by Renee Young, she played her MellaBration highlight reel again for the crowd, and the way she mocked and gloated in the face of such a calm and collected Charlotte was gold.
The former champion got a small measure of revenge by slamming Carmella’s face into the table and then pushing it on top of her. Charlotte walked away looking very cool, leaving Carmella rattled.
I was unsure about how “The Princess of Staten Island” would do as the champion, and even though we haven’t seen her in a match since she won, Carmella has been acting the part perfectly. If her match against “The Queen” is even half as good as these promos, I’ll be a happy (well, happy enough) man.
The SmackDown Tag Team Titles
Prior to his match with Rowan, Jimmy asked his wife Naomi to stay in the back. I, for one, thought that was a fabulous idea because the woman can’t act for shit, and I didn’t want to hear screams of “terror” again.
Thankfully, we didn’t get her screaming. Towards the end of the match, Naomi came out to her full entrance, but it served as a distraction. Harper was blindsided by Jey on the outside, and this caused enough ruckus for Jimmy to hit a superkick on Rowan for the roll-up victory.
This all went down quite well, mostly because I was expecting it to be a rehash of last week and it wasn’t. The Usos got a small measure of payback on their GRR opponents, but it looks like all they did was anger The Bludgeon Brothers. Don’t expect a title change anytime soon.
And that’s that for another week. There were the usual ups and downs, but the show in Saudi Arabia is looking absolutely killer, and I can’t wait to see the fall out from the Greatest Royal Rumble next week.