After all of last week’s excitement and surprises, WWE TV this week was business as usual. Maria and Mike Kanellis have gone from advanced cuckoldry humor to boring pregnancy cravings gags, Bobby Lashley beat up Rey Mysterio and absolutely nothing exploded. Even the audience at Raw sucked enough to yell “WHAT” at Nikki Cross. I guess it’s just a bland time of year. I combed through Raw, Smackdown Live, and NXT to find you these seven moments that are worth checking out. You’re welcome.
1. Io Shirai doesn’t need you
Did anything else happen this week other than Io Shirai walking to the ring in leather pants with cool new music to say no thank you to friendship and fans? Like, honestly? Did it? I feel like the answer is a resounding “no.” She also cut a promo that is for some reason only on the Japanese WWE Twitter that is so cool and so badass that it doesn’t need subtitles. I mean, listen to her voice. Look at her cheekbone highlight. She’s obviously talking a ton of shit in a parking lot while someone is shining different colored lights on her. It’s absolutely the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. A great pro wrestling promo is like a great opera performance in that you don’t need to know what they’re saying to know what they’re saying. Io Shirai was a mean, angry light in the darkness of what was otherwise a pretty boring week.
2. Everything the Street Profits did
Need someone to show up and act as an impromptu Greek chorus to make a Shane McMahon match sound cool? Need someone to put on a great tag team title defense? The Street Profits did both things this week, appearing in a tonally strange but enormously charming sement on Raw and having a killer match against Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch on NXT. Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford are two charismatic, entertaining, talented dudes. I really hope these Raw appearances are leading up to them actually getting in the ring on an episode of Raw.
3. Kevin Owens’ face turn
Last week Kevin Owens, a heel for more or less his entire career in WWE and the indies, stood up to Shane McMahon and attacked Dolph Ziggler. His getting on the mic (or three different mics) on this week’s Smackdown to denounce Shane McMahon being shoehorned onto every TV show and PPV at the expense of other, better talent wasn’t revolutionary or anything, but it was interesting. The decision to make Kevin Owens, the guy who got a sincere “you deserve it” chant when he won the Universal Championship in 2016 as a heel by cheating, a mouthpiece for aggrieved fans is actually a really clever one. He even looks like a hot version of a lot of indie smark fans. I’m very, very curious about where they’re going with this and how long they’ll let it go on.
4. Europeans talking in rooms
I’ve been a pretty outspoken supporter of Aleister Black’s deeply, deeply stupid monologues in dark rooms since they started and this week was no exception. After over a month of waiting for someone to try to fight him, Aleister Black has a challenger. It’s fellow European guy Cesaro! Their match on Sunday will hopefully be pretty cool, but I’m much more concerned with how deliciously dumb this segment was. We don’t watch WWE for good wrestling, right? We watch for nonsense, hoping to get as much good wrestling as we possibly can. The cheesy tension of two dudes essentially Skyping each other in different rooms in the same arena, the way Cesaro takes out and then puts in his mouthguard, the incredibly hammy villain acting— it’s all just so good and so right. Imagine matching this level of camp with an equally intense level of good wrestling. Is this too much to ask for? Do I dare dream of a world where that happens? We’ll see.
5. Drake Maverick and Renee Michelle’s terrible marriage
WWE 24/7 Champion Drake Maverick’s “honeymoon” pictures over the last week have been a real treat. The newlyweds spent the weekend at Universal Studios in Orlando. Orlando, as Renee pointed out, is where they live. Most of the videos they took ended up on Raw, where Maverick hid in a container for most of the show. According to his Twitter and what he said on Raw this week, their marriage is still unconsummated. I really hope to see R-Truth recapture the title soon, but I’m enjoying the hell out of every shenanigan related to this beautiful story.
6. Velveteen Dream gave a press conference in an actual room
I will never not love those NXT “press conferences” that are just a wrestler in a parking lot surrounded by hands holding iPhones. Those are still my favorites. Still, someone with Velveteen Dream’s stature and importance deserves a podium and some air conditioning at the very least. (Should he be giving his press conferences on a fainting couch? Probably.) The Dream talked to what I’m sure was a packed room of reporters to show off his enormous North American Championship and be dismissive of Roderick Strong. Look at him! He looked great. Wow. Someone get this man a better looking set though. And probably a fainting couch. Maybe some jewels? Honestly, if he could do whatever he does next from an exact replica of one of the sets from the 1960s Cleopatra movie? That seems like the right level of opulence.
7. Sasha Banks on excursion
I miss Sasha Banks. I miss Sasha Banks a lot. Don’t you miss her? After quite a few rumors circulated about her potentially leaving WWE, she is back in a wrestling ring! That wrestling ring happens to be in the Sendai Girls school, where she is training with legends like Meiko Satomura and Dick Togo. Check out her Instagram posts and tweets—she just looks really happy. I may miss seeing Sasha Banks wrestle, but this means that the next time we see her wrestle she’ll probably be even better at it. And that’s pretty cool.