It was a big week in WWE! With NXT premiering on the USA Network in preparation for their ratings battle against AEW, and the main roster heading towards SmackDown’s big move to Fox, WWE was really firing on all cylinders. Like, Kevin Owens is suing Shane McMahon, Corey Graves called Mike Kanellis a “beta cuck,” NXT UK Champion WALTER and his faction of tracksuit Europeans faced off against KUSHIDA in the second hour of NXT, R-Truth imagined a basketball team of giant women, and these are the things that didn’t make it onto my list.
1. The Fiend is here
Can you feel it in the air? It’s really fall, and that can only mean that WWE’s spookiest, scariest, most Hell-themed event is on its way. There’s no better time for The Fiend to challenge a major champion.
After Seth Rollins successfully defended the Universal Championship against Braun Strowman on Sunday, Wyatt attacked, much to the delight and “yowie wowie” of the fans.
Where it actually got good though was the next night. Raw opened pretty typically with Seth Rollins talking about the previous night’s PPV and being addressed by his next challenger via video. The Fiend’s eerie supernatural presence, though, affected production, glitching out match announcement graphics at the start of the show and then closing Raw with almost two solid minutes of a distorted, glitched out Firefly Funhouse intro. It was a legitimately cool, surprising, creepy move.
2. Sasha and Becky… are going… to Hell >:)
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks’ match for the Raw Women’s Championship on Sunday’s Clash of Champions was, for my money, match of the night, even if it ended with a disqualification. Banks won, but Lynch still retained, leaving everyone itching for a rematch. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long to see them attack each other with chairs again, even if it was just an impromptu stand off.
Sasha Banks challenged Becky Lynch to a rematch at Hell in a Cell. Becky called Sasha’s bet and raised the stakes to a match inside The Cell Itself. This means we aren’t only getting more of Sasha vs Becky, we’re getting Sasha vs Becky in a cool-ass stipulation match with guaranteed goth graphics. This is the best time of year.
3. Kofi Kingston will defend against Brock Lesnar
Kofi Kingston successfully put away another WWE Championship challenger in Randy Orton on Sunday. I’m thrilled to say that their chapter together seems to be finished for now! On Tuesday’s SmackDown, Brock Lesnar showed up to challenge Kofi, the first interest the Beast Incarnate has shown towards a non-Universal Championship WWE title in years. The match is set for October 4, SmackDown’s first night on Fox.
4. Chad Gable says down with monarchy
Baron Corbin defeated former Olympian Chad Gable in the King of the Ring final on Monday in what ended up being a legitimately pretty good match. Certainly the best Baron Corbin match I’ve ever seen! Say what you will about him, but he is certainly effective as a guy you do not want to see win. Corbin’s victory over Gable felt like an insult to me personally.
The next night on SmackDown, Chad Gable interrupted Corbin’s coronation ceremony to just kind of smash everything. I’ll admit that I was initially excited for a King of the Ring tournament, but Chad Gable’s actions really reminded me that I’m actually adamantly against monarchy. Thank you Chad.
5. Many happy returns
I meant it when I said WWE pulled out all the stops this week. Luke Harper, who requested his release back in April (and was unsuccessful), made a surprise return to WWE on Sunday, coming to the aid of his old brother in bludgeoning Rowan against Roman Reigns. On Monday, Rusev, also absent since the spring, returned with a juicy mustache to beat up Mike Kanellis. (Also he might be the real father of the next Kanellis baby? It’s confusing stuff.)
Finally, on Wednesday’s NXT, Lio Rush made his in-ring return by defeating Oney Lorcan to become the next Cruiserweight Championship challenger. While Luke Harper was the only one of the three to openly request his release from WWE, Rusev and Rush were heavily rumored to be on their way out of the company too. I guess it all got worked out?
6. NXT premiered on USA… with a Candice LeRae victory!
NXT had kind of a soft opening this week, premiering on USA with one hour of a live show two weeks ahead of their soon-to-be competitor, AEW Dynamite. While aspects of production were not up to their usual standards (or even standards that you could confidently call “good”), NXT pandered to me specifically by opening with Io Shirai vs Bianca Belair vs Mia Yim vs Candice LeRae. From what I could tell, my four favorite women in NXT put on a solid match. The whole episode was filmed very, very poorly, but it was tragically the most apparent in this match.
Still, I probably won’t remember shaking my head about camera angles or shot choice in a few years. What I will remember is that Candice LeRae was the first person to win an NXT match on USA. She will challenge Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship on October 2, head to head against AEW Dynamite’s premiere on TNT and the crowning of their first Women’s Champion.
7. Adam Cole’s prophecy came true
While only the first hour of NXT aired on USA, that hour ended with Roderick Strong challenging Velveteen Dream for the North American Championship. Maybe the camera work got a little bit better or maybe I’d just gotten more used to it, but I was able to really enjoy this match in spite of how poorly it was filmed. (I just need to reiterate: very poorly! I don’t know what happened!) With some sneaky assistance from his horrible friends in the Undisputed Era, Roddy Strong picked up his first singles title win in NXT. The Undisputed Era are now, as Adam Cole promised they would be, draped in gold.