WWE had a weird week. It started with the impromptu final Shield appearance event, and continued through Monday and Tuesday with very uneven episodes of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live. Some of the writing (a lot of it) was so bad that at one point, color commentator Corey Graves actually said “who wrote this?” on mic. Still, WWE airs something like eight or nine hours of wrestling programming a week, and I, your trusted friend Hunktears, combed through most of it to find the seven best, funniest, and generally most notable things.
1. Candice LeRae vs Kay Lee Ray
In a week of WWE television sorely lacking exciting women’s wrestling, the all women episode of Worlds Collide was a major high point. While the main event of Toni Storm (NXT UK) vs. Nikki Cross (Smackdown Live) vs. Bianca Belair (NXT) for the NXT UK Championship was good and absolutely worth checking out, Candice LeRae (NXT) and Kay Lee Ray (NXT UK) put on a banger. They are both tremendous talents whose work on the indies I thoroughly enjoyed, and they didn’t disappoint here. I don’t watch WWE UK so I can’t speak to what Kay Lee Ray has been up to, but this was by far my favorite thing I’ve seen Candice do since signing. Plus Mia Yim (another one of my favorites) was on commentary for the whole episode!
2. AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio vs Samoa Joe
Speaking of good wrestling, you know who’s great at wrestling? These three dudes. This week’s Raw had two triple threat matches to determine the main event to determine who will challenge Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship at next month’s Money in the Bank Pay Per View. You don’t need to watch the other triple threat or the resulting main event. But I mean? AJ Styles and Samoa Joe AND Rey Mysterio? On a not great episode of Raw? Thank you! This slapped.
PS Now that Styles is facing Rollins next month, can we get a Mysterio-Joe rematch? The full one we want and need but probably don’t deserve??? Thanks in advance!
3. Goodbye boys, for real this time ;_;
The actual final final Shield match at the special final final Shield event on Sunday ended when the boys did one final final triple powerbomb and won against the (honestly pretty stale) team of Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley. It was still lovely though? The departing Dean Ambrose cut a promo about following your dreams with such conviction that I started crying. I hope he finds some happiness outside of WWE and very selfishly also hope that he doesn’t stop wrestling. Also: Renee Young had a sweet denim jacket with Dean’s face on it.
4. Shane McMahon has a cool new best friend, and he has a GUITAR
Shane McMahon is really finding his stride as a heel on Smackdown Live thanks in no small part to his cool new buddy Elias. The incredibly potent bratty rich kid and his fuckboy friend energy of this alliance just really, really works. I mean, Elias challenged Roman Reigns to a match at Money in the Bank with a song sung from atop the trunk of Shane’s limousine! And then they got in and drove away! In the first half of the episode! Fantastic.
5. Swamp wizard who? Bray Wyatt is now for the children
The spooky puppet and bird in a box vignettes were finally paid off this week in a children’s show parody segment called the Firefly Fun House. The boxed bird was revealed to be Mercy the Buzzard, and the scary puppet is named Penny the Witch. Wyatt, with his hair bleached blonde and pulled back, wearing a red sweater and khakis, took a chainsaw to a cardboard cutout of his old character while reassuring the canned studio audience of children that he’s not the monster he used to be. This is stupid and overly ambitious, so it absolutely rules. (We’ll probably get sick of it eventually but why not enjoy it while we can?)
6. Kevin Owens turned on his own friend?!?!?
I’m really looking forward to the end of Kevin Owens’ career (in many, many decades) when we can look back on all the storyline betrayals he will have amassed at that point. I don’t really blame WWE for recycling this angle: Kevin Owens flipping the switch between goofy sweetness and cold brutality is always extremely impressive.
At the end of a fun non-title match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Kofi Kingston, Big E’s temporary replacement in the New Day, “Big O,” superkicked Kingston in the face. The ensuing beatdown was what you’d expect from Kevin Owens turning on his friend Kofi Kingston: excessive cruelty from Owens and pure babyface goodness from Kingston.
I’m curious about where this is headed— will we get Kevin Owens challenging Kofi Kingston at Money in the Bank next month, or, since the Universal Championship is already on that show, is this leading to bloodthirsty heel Kevin Owens going for the briefcase itself?
7. Identity crises
Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens weren’t the only ones to make big changes this week. Bobby Roode has also undergone a transformation, shaving his beard and turning heel as “Robert Roode.” There are far too many guys in WWE with long wet hair and far too few guys with beefy mustaches and bad attitudes. Robert Roode is also a hilarious name to say, so I’m into this new vibe for him.
I am crestfallen, however, to have to announce that the Viking Experience shall be experienced no longer. As of this Monday, they are called the Viking Raiders, and their finisher is now the Viking Experience. It’s funny… I’ve been watching them for years under different names, but they will always be the Viking Experience to me, even after just one week. Please fill up your drinking horn and pour one out for all those Viking Experiences we will never get to experience…
Editor’s note: according to a survey sent by WWE, the Viking Raiders have again changed their name to The Viking Warriors. Really.
Honorable mentions: Matt Riddle’s photoshoot poses, Sami Zayn’s Instagram slideshow, Aleister Black’s “tragic character” monologue, Renee Young’s black mesh turtleneck (I sent her an Instagram message about it but she hasn’t replied), Drew Gulak vs Humberto Carrillo