From Bayley cashing in at Sunday’s Money in the Bank PPV to Io Shirai destroying a kendo stick wailing on Shayna Baszler on NXT, it’s been an exciting week in WWE. We got a new Smackdown Women’s Champion, a brand new championship, several wrestlers returning from hiatus, all kinds of tomfoolery with WWE’s next Saudi propaganda show, and it looks like Beth Phoenix is officially part of the NXT commentary team now! It was a fun week. Everything felt a little bit more fresh, even the stale stuff, which makes sense because…
1. It’s a new era in WWE: the era of the 24/7 Championship
Obviously the most important news this week in WWE was the introduction of a new 24/7 Championship— a championship that can be won any time and anywhere as long as a referee is present to count a pinfall. (It’s a concept that you might be familiar with either from WWE’s old Hardcore Championship or DDT’s infamous Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship.) So far, we have had three champions: Titus O’Neill, the inaugural champ, Robert Roode, and finally, our current reigning champion: R-Truth, who pinned Roode in a parking lot after hiding him in his trunk.
If R-Truth and Drake Maverick’s recent Twitter videos haven’t yet convinced you that this is a great idea, allow me to. WWE has so many people and uses so few. The existence of a championship that isn’t bound by the normal rules of booking and pushes and backstage politics (or at least one that’s less bound by those rules) could provide opportunities for some of the incredible talent they have to show off what they can do and try out weird, silly ideas. R-Truth is the perfect person to set the tone for what this title is about.
2. Becky and Bayley teamed up!
WWE’s program for the women’s division is probably a little bit on hold until after the Super ShowDown (their upcoming PPV in Saudia Arabia, where women are barred from performing, which Fanbyte will not be covering outside of mentioning it and saying that it shouldn’t be happening.) That said, if they are buying time, they could do a lot worse than having Becky Lynch team up with the new Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley. Even if they were just taking on Lacey Evans and Charlotte Flair again. Storyline wise, it’s pretty weak, but especially after the last couple of weeks, I was just grateful to see some good women’s wrestling on Smackdown. (Becky teamed up with Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross on Raw, which was also pretty good.) They did tease the possibility of a match between the two women’s champs, which would be very cool.
3. Brock Lesnar, Dolph Ziggler & Big E returned
We saw Brock Lesnar return at Money in the Bank, where he came in and grabbed the briefcase in the main event at the last minute, which, I’ve decided that I hate? Maybe. I did enjoy him pretending the briefcase was a boombox on Raw, though. Dolph Ziggler attacked Kofi Kingston from behind on Smackdown, returning after almost a four month hiatus from WWE. He and Kingston are set for a title match at that event I won’t be watching. He did a teary-eyed promo about how Kofi’s opportunities should have been his. It was… very monologuey. Still, if there’s anyone he can work well with, it’s Kofi Kingston, as they proved time and time again early in their WWE tenures.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Big E is back on TV! WWE presumably made this decision to keep him off of Twitter, where in the short time he’s been away, he has already professed his love to Becky Lynch’s (married) mom, opened his DMs for a few hours, and posted excerpts from a fantasy novel he once tried to write. We’ll all miss him on Twitter, but it’s great to see him back with the New Day, even if he probably can’t wrestle yet.
4. Tyler Breeze went back to NXT
Speaking of people returning places: this week’s episode of NXT included Tyler Breeze coming back to Full Sail to challenge Velveteen Dream for the NXT North American Championship! Tyler Breeze was a force to be reckoned with in his time at NXT. He balanced the silliness of his fashion model gimmick with incredible in-ring skill. As fun as the Fashion Police were on the main roster, it’s exciting to see him being treated like a serious contender again. Breeze cut a promo about inspiration that was way more moving than anyone in that much neon faux fur has any right to be. Which honestly… as much as I love the fun fur, maybe Tyler Breeze should consider stepping up his sartorial game if he’s going to do an angle with Velveteen Dream. We’ll have to wait and see!
5. The Usos and The Revival actually got to have a match
Remember that wish I made for a feud between the Usos and the Revival? And then we got punished with all that hokey prank stuff? This week on Raw they gave us exactly what I had pictured when I made that wish— a match that was explosive, athletic, angry and fast-paced. Were all the Ucey Hot shenanigans necessary for two teams this good to get their chemistry together? Probably not. But watch this match and tell me you’d go back in time and change the cringey events that led to something this good happening in a non-title match in the middle of Raw. Outstanding.
6. Great use of parking lots
Sorry to harp on the 24/7 Championship, aka the best thing to happen in pro wrestling all week? All month? All year? Who can say, really? But I have to say that WWE weekly TV really nailed it with their use of parking lots this week. First we had R-Truth tricking Robert Roode into trusting him and then winning the 24/7 Championship off of him. Beautiful. Then, we had R-Truth running away from the rest of the locker room dressed up as Carmella, with Carmella, in a cheap Daenerys Targaryen wig (the kind that comes in a bag that says “Dragon Queen” on it) to safety. THEN we had Roman Reigns showing up to Smackdown an hour into the show and Elias SITTING ON TOP OF A TRUCK SINGING TO HIM ABOUT HOW MUCH HE SUCKS. That’s what I’m talking about you guys, that’s how you use Elias. That’s how you use a parking lot. Beautiful stuff.
7. Guys in skinny jeans tussled
The Undisputed Era are a boyband of sneering sadistic dipshits. They are the personification of a liquor store parking lot on a hot summer weeknight. They are four beautiful bad decisions who come prepackaged with a dumb hand gesture and goofy song, and I love them.
I love all kinds of wrestling, but sometimes I just want to see a bunch of dudes in skinny jeans who are 5’9” but say they’re 6’ on dating apps rolling around being mad at each other. And that’s how NXT opened this week: with Johnny Gargano and Matt Riddle going after the Undisputed Era. (Matt Riddle is over 6’ tall, but let me have this? Let me have this!)
All four of my awful sons have big matches at the upcoming Takeover. First, Adam Cole challenges Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly (the two best ones) will take part in a ladder match for the open NXT Tag Team Championship. Finally, Roderick Strong will have to answer to Matt Riddle for beating him up and taking his sandal. This is great news. It was also great news that O’Reilly and Fish faced off against Riddle and Gargano in an awesome main event of this week’s NXT. I just can’t get enough of these dirtbags.
Honorable mentions: Io Shirai breaking a damn kendo stick defending Candice Lerae from Shayna Baszler, Alexa Bliss drinking coffee and refusing to participate in her tag match on Raw, Velveteen Dream’s outfit, Sami Zayn speaking into two microphones.