In the title scene this week, we had two champions miss their shows, an unexplained heel turn, and two title defences all in the space of two days. What are we waiting for? Let’s get to it.
WWE Raw Champions
The Universal Title
You know the drill by now. There ain’t a thing to report on Lesnar and the Universal Championship. Getting name dropped by other superstars every week doesn’t mean a thing.
On a side note, Roman Reigns didn’t show up for work this week, did he? And he has the cheek to bark about Lesnar not appearing on Raw. Give over, lad.
The Intercontinental Title
“The King Slayer” was celebrating his birthday on Monday, and if there’s a better way to celebrate other than putting your IC Title up for grabs, then I don’t want to know about it. After rudely cutting off an Elias promo, Seth hit the ring to defend his belt against Jinder Mahal.
If you want proof that Seth Rollins is next to godliness right now, then watch this match. It takes serious talent to get a very good one-on-one bout out of “The Modern Day Maharaja,” and that’s just what the champion managed to do. Sunil Singh played his role of the interfering little so-and-so well, making Rollins look even better for having to overcome the odds. “The Architect” eventually snapped though, lashing out at Jinder and Sunil with a chair to lose the match via DQ, but keeping the title in the process. Celebrating his tainted title retention, Rollins was struck from behind by Elias with a guitar, knocking him off the stage. The segment ended with the champ being taken away on a stretcher.
In my opinion, this was a great match with an odd finish that was saved by Elias. As a babyface champion, Seth surely should’ve battled on, regardless of Sunil’s interference. It was out of character to attack Jinder with a chair (especially as he had the upper hand at that point), and to be happy about retaining the title through DQ. But it looks like Seth has a great new opponent in Elias, so expect to see an IC Championship match added to the MitB card over the next few weeks.
The Raw Women’s Title
Oh, WWE. What on earth have you done? Women’s Champ, Nia Jax, hit the ring this week to demonstrate her prowess in the ring over a jobber and not in a match. It was odd, guys. It was just odd.
With Ronda Rousey joining the boys at the announce desk for a “bird’s eye view” (because the desk is apparently up in the rafters), Nia showed off her strength and skill. The poor jobber was powerbombed, she took a Samoan drop, a leg drop, and even a rolling senton, and all the while, Jax goaded Rousey. The champ riled the challenger up enough to get her to come down to the ring, but not before Jax had a chance to belittle the ref, the jobber, and the crowd. With Rousey in the ring, Jax said she wasn’t intimidated. In fact, she found Ronda’s intimidation hilarious. The promo ended with Jax laughing her way to the back.
After so many months of Nia being built up as a positive role model, after the countless times she’s overcome the bullying of others, WWE have made “The Irresistible Force” back into a heel. What a huge waste. We didn’t need this to be a face vs. heel match, but that’s what we’re getting. In the words of Randy Orton, this has all been, ” stupid, stupid, stupid!”
The Raw Tag Team Titles
The tag champs were back in action this week taking on the challenge of Konner & Viktor of The Ascension.
This was a standard match for the champions. In other words, there was no surprise as to who won, but it was a pretty good match on reflection. Konnor looked great throughout, and he even had Matt Hardy reeling for quite a while. In particular, the spot where Hardy took the bigger man out with a back suplex was interesting to watch as Konnor didn’t waste time licking his wounds; he went straight for the headlock to stop Matt picking up momentum. In the end though, the champs were just too good. Viktor took the pinfall after eating a Kiss of Deletion.
I found this match fairly enjoyable as it was nice to see The Ascension given more than two minutes on screen. The champs still look strong, but with Kurt Angle’s news that there will be a match next week to determine the new no.1 contenders, will Matt & Bray be strong enough to stay on top?
The Cruiserweight Title
And so we move on to the highlight of the week. Finally coming to a head, Cedric Alexander put his Cruiserweight Championship on the line against the destructive Buddy Murphy.
This match has been months in the making. The rivalry between the two cruiserweights has been a joy to watch, and their clash in the ring was full of drama, big moves, and excitement. Cedric and Buddy started by showing off their athleticism, countering each others moves with flair. It didn’t take long for the feeling out process to develop into a serious contest, and the two battered each other all around the ring and outside it, too. The pacing between the high-flying and big power moves was well thought out, and my God, Alexander’s spine took a hell of a beating from those penalty kicks. Things kicked into overdrive towards the ending as each man hit a flurry of offence. But in the end, the champ reeled the Aussie with two Neuraliser Kicks followed by a huge Lumbar Check for the victory.
Alexander vs. Murphy was everything it needed to be. It had the drama and the big fight feel, they had plenty of time to do their thing, and most importantly, there was a decisive win. A match of that calibre deserved to have a proper ending, and I’m glad WWE didn’t put in a screwy finish just to prolong the feud. I don’t know what’s next for these two, but I feel sorry for their next opponents, that’s for sure.
WWE SmackDown Live Champions
The WWE Title
The challenger to the WWE Title, Shinsuke Nakamura played mind games with AJ Styles this week. The champ himself went without a match, but he did have a few words for “The King of Strong Style.”
Shinsuke picked up a win against “The Perfect Ten” Tye Dillenger and followed his victory up with a knee to the back of Tye’s head to keep him down for a ten count. Backstage, AJ said in an interview segment that Nakamura is underestimating AJ, just like everyone else has. Despite the Last Man Standing stipulation, the WWE Champ reckons he will still walk away from MITB with the title around his waist.
I didn’t find anything here very exciting, but there are still three more weeks for things to pick up. The main point this week was to make Nakamura look like a dick, and it worked. I’m hoping for a little more on the next episode of SmackDown, but the champ reiterated he’s ready for a fight and the challenger looked strong, so it’s good enough, I guess.
The US Title
It appeared that Mr. Jeffrey Nero Hardy was otherwise disposed this week. Hopefully we’ll see him at the next broadcast.
The SmackDown Women’s Title
Carmella came out to watch her MITB opponent square off against Mandy Rose. Was the presence of the champion enough to throw Asuka off her game?
Long story short; no. Mandy put up a great fight all things considering. She’s definitely getting better in the ring, and an opponent like Asuka can make the other gals up their game. “The Empress of Tomorrow” was just too good though, and Mandy had no choice but to tap out to the Asuka Lock. After the match, Carmella stood face to face with the Japanese superstar whilst the crowd looked on in dead silence. “The Princess of Staten Island” took her leave, moonwalking out of the ring.
Asuka earned her paycheck last night, but it felt like Carmella was having an off-day. Her commentary was getting really repetitive (we get it, you beat Charlotte twice!), and the crowd showed no interest in the staredown between the champion and the challenger. As much as I usually enjoy ‘Mella, this just wasn’t good, and a dead crowd could spell disaster for the champ’s future.
The SmackDown Tag Team Titles
The Good Brothers earned a shot to face The Bludgeon Brothers for the tag belts at MitB the other week, but what did the OG Bullet Club members have to say about their opponents?
Well, they said they would beat Harper & Rowan like a couple of..
We’ll never know! Before Gallows & Anderson could finish their sentence, The Bludgeon Brothers appeared on the monitor. They had a cryptic message for Gallows & Anderson that pretty much meant they were gonna kill them, I think. I don’t know, a lot of the spooky stuff with Harper & Rowan has gotten stale.
I’ve not found any reason to enjoy The Bludgeon Brothers’ promos for a while. I just want them to smash things up. Is that too much to ask? But kudos to Gallows & Anderson; their promo was top notch.
So we are done for another week in the WWE, and the only champions who really made a positive impact were Matt & Bray and Cedric Alexander. Everyone else needs to realise that if they’re a champion, they should act like one.