Yowie wowie, what a week. We booted and rallied through dozens of hours of wrestling and, somehow, it’s still not over yet. Hell In a Cell is yet to come this Sunday night, but let’s take a look back at some of the moments in WWE this week that made us go “What?” “Why?” and “Oh god, please no, don’t do this to me.”
Brock Lesnar Becomes WWE Champion
We’ll get this one out of the way first. The inaugural Friday Night SmackDown saw everyone’s favorite sentient tomato Lesnar defeat Kofi Kingston in a flat four seconds. Was anyone happy with this decision? No. Was it the right one to make? Guess that’s subjective, but, again, I’m gonna go with no. But it sure did happen, and, like all villains in history films, we just stood there and watched it. Afterwords a big bald man the internet has informed me is named Cain came out with Rey Mysterio and got into it with Lesnar. In addition to being big and bald, Cain is an MMA fighter who had a heated match in UFC with Lesnar nearly a decade ago, which makes for incredibly relevant and interesting professional wrestling, as we all know.
Rusev Has a Rough Time
Onto some lighter fare! Well, lighter for us as the audience, pretty tough for poor Rusev. After dodging questions about why his wife Lana hadn’t been accompanying him since his return, we finally got the answer we were all hoping for— because she’s been banging Bobby Lashley. Lashley interrupted a Universal Title match between Rusev and Seth Rollins to bring out the Ravishing Russian herself, and the two made out on stage while the camera made Rusev watch for an uncomfortably long time. Like it just lingered on him standing there watching his wife over-exaggerate how kissing works. I think it’s time we accept someone on this writing staff just might have a thing for cucking.
There are few things wrestling loves more than bringing out extremely old men and teasing that they might take a few swings at each other. This week’s Raw saw Miz TV guests Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair almost come to blows before remembering their children probably want to spend Christmas with them this year. They instead opted to let younger, less racist men (and Randy Orton) fight their battles for them, each captaining a team in a 10 man tag match set for Crown Jewel.
This felt like it kept teasing Flair didn’t care enough to stick to the script, but it was probably more that he simply couldn’t remember it. If I’m going to get weird, stumbling through lines on Miz TV, I’m gonna need these people to go whole hog and just shoot on each other. Remember the one with the Ball family where the dad just took off his shirt? Think about how much better this segment would have been if Flair had had that energy.
New Year, New Commentary
Both Raw and SmackDown debuted brand spanking new commentary teams this week, and overall this felt like a much needed change. While Jerry Lawler did sound a little out of place on a Raw in 2019 (specifically that time he made a Fat Bastard reference), Dio Madden and Vic Joseph worked well together. SmackDown has become the only duo in commentary with Corey Graves and Michael Cole, both of whom seemed surprisingly restrained last night. I do miss Renee Young in the booth, but it’s nice to hear she’s got her own show again. Overall, this felt like a positive switch up for both shows.
A+ Set Design
I feel like we’ve seen the classic entrance way so consistently for the past few years that it’s actually refreshing to see them mix it up so drastically. Both new stages were very cool, although I have to give SmackDown the nod for the sick vortex effect. The floating graphics felt a little Spy Kids: 3-D, but whatever, they’re fun. Raw looks like someone’s about to do an ollie right off the ramp, so I wouldn’t be surprised if next week Mojo Rawley is repackaged as their answer to Darby Allin.
Oh Man, it’s The Rock!
So before I ever got into wrestling, I knew The Rock as that guy from critically acclaimed film The Game Plan. Of course, now that I am older I am educated and have seen Fast Five, Tooth Fairy, and even Race to Witch Mountain. The man truly never disappoints. But I didn’t grow up watching him on TV, so I understand it’s not quite the same for me when he returns to WWE to call everybody jabronis and ask us to rate his cooking.
Still, this was a great opening segment for SmackDown. Mr. Johnson put over Becky Lynch with his entire heart, riffed on Burger King, and even got Baron Corbin to tell us his testicles are, in fact, perfectly adequate. Becky and People’s Choice Award winner The Rock then beat down Corbin and his average testicles to a huge pop. Couldn’t have imagined this going any better.
Have You Seen This Show?
205 Live seemingly vanished from existence at some point on Friday. Despite advertising matches for that very night, the network aired this weeks NXT in what was originally scheduled as the purple brand’s new time slot. Reportedly it’s still alive (at least, not formally axed) but it does feel like a matter of time before they pull the plug. I am among the six and a half people who will be truly sad to see it go; while I’m sure NXT will feature the cruiserweights, 205 had its own unique style. It’s a shame the show was never given the respect it deserved, because it featured some of the best matches I’ve seen in the past year.
WWE BANGER OF THE WEEK: Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon
Ladder matches are one of those gimmicks where even if the story sucks, even if the wrestlers aren’t even very good, it’s always going to be a fun time. Kevin Owens is one of those wrestlers who can work with almost anybody and make almost anything look good. Shane McMahon has managed to stay an entertaining villain for the past year, and people legitimately hate seeing him on TV. Of course this one popped off.
Featuring plenty of wild bumps and moves that a 49-year-old father of three should definitely not be performing, this was an entertaining way to end this rivalry and write Shane off for a while. Kevin won by powerbombing Shane onto a ladder, then hit him with you’re fired and a stunner. Fun match with the right ending.