Another week, another huge red flag from WWE- who reportedly told talent to stop using “third party platforms,” such as Twitch or Cameo, this week. As many wrestlers have made a killing from wishing the nephew you don’t really know but think he mentioned wrestling a few times a happy birthday, this is a huge blow. Provided nobody was on Cameo dropping the access code to Triple H’s house, there’s no real reason the company should limit what talent is doing in their free time, especially if it’s to supplement a suboptimal wage from the multi million dollar company they work for.
Still, no rest for the wicked, a word which here refers to anyone still following this company and their storylines; see also, yours truly. When all else (Vince McMahon) fails, at least we can count on Sasha and Bayley to turn out some bangers. There is still some good in this world.
Six Men Enter, One Snake Leaves
Drew McIntyre has popped his neck back in place after being punted 3 times last week, and now he’s looking for a new challenger. Michael Cole announced three matches to take place Monday night, culminating in a Triple Threat for a challenger to McIntyre’s title. First, we got Keith Lee vs Dolph Ziggler, and you can already guess which way this went. Ziggler put up a fight, but it’s 2020, and I simply can not buy him as a main title challenger. Lee won with the Spirit Bomb, and Dolph went back to the underground or UCB or whatever he’s doing these days. In the second bout, we saw new Photoshop master Randy Orton vs Junior the cat’s dad Kevin Owens. Before the match, Orton left Aleister Black’s super dark emo bedroom, but it didn’t seem like they were discussing the new Mandalorian season 2 release date. Black attacked Owens on his way to the ring, landing a Black Mass that left Kevin wiped out. The match was over quickly, as Owens’ Dutch-weakened offense was no match for the RKO. This worked for both face and heel; Randy moving on towards McIntyre again, while Owens was unjustly cut out of the title scene. In the third qualifying match, Seth Rollins once again butted heads with Dominik Mysterio. In the same match I feel like I’ve just seen back to back, Mysterio gave a great effort and a good display for himself, but was bested by the Messiah’s stomp. At least Rey brought Dominik’s sister to watch this time- maybe Seth can beat her up next week too.
Our triple threat main event was really solid; with Lee, Orton, and Rollins, it’s hard to imagine the match being bad. Orton and Rollins had to team up to get rid of Lee, running him into the steps and through the commentary table. Still, the universe’s father figure fought back and managed to counter the Stomp, hitting Rollins with a Spirit Bomb. Orton slithered back in to land an RKO on Lee, but pinned Rollins to get the win. Orton and McIntyre part 2 should be great, but didn’t Randy just take Drew’s head off for offering him a rematch last week? He could have gotten here without being thrown into a barricade by a 280 lb man. I guess this is a storyline about the fragile male ego.
Less Than Iconic Fairwell
Proving that they read my reviews and respond to criticism from me only, WWE upped the stakes in the IIconics/Riott Squad rematch on Raw. The winning team would earn a shot at the tag titles, while the losing team would be “no more.” Given the way that Morgan and Riott were booked as singles competitors, and the lack of attention the IIconics have gotten recently even as a team, this was a dramatic stipulation. This was as short as their Payback Kickoff match, but felt far less disjointed. Early on, the IIconics tried to double team Riott, but she got to Morgan for the tag. Liv almost got a win with a big drop kick, but Peyton kicked out. Ruby was back in and scored the quick roll up as Liv blocked Billie from interfering. Royce and Kay cried and stomped their little feet all the way to the back. I can’t imagine they’ll actually break the duo up- what is there for them to do as singles stars? Meanwhile, the Riott Squad doesn’t stand much of a chance against Baszler and Jax, but it’ll be nice to see them get the spotlight anyway.
An Empress, a Milf, a Canadian, and a Former Russian
Mickie James vs Asuka is (probably) going to happen soon, and it’s gonna slap harder than your date finding out you actively watch professional wrestling. Raw decided to build to this current legend vs past legend in classic WWE women’s division style; by throwing all the women out there at once and calling it storytelling. This started with Asuka interrupting a couples dispute between Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax to ask for a challenger. Mickie came out, but was then interrupted herself by the duo of Lana and Natalya. They’re still a weird pairing, but I guess they’re both blonde, so maybe they’re bonding over that. Lana asserted that Natalya deserves a title shot, presumably due to the popularity of her YouTube show where she and her sister slap each other in the boobs. We got a very short Mickie and Lana match that featured a surprising amount of offense from the Tik Tok star, but was ultimately won with the Mick Kick from James. James returned to WWE several years ago to challenge Asuka for the NXT title, so there’s certainly history here if Raw feels like bringing it up. Or we could get more of Lana and Natalya offering seventh grade disses. Both seem equally compelling to creative here.
Iron Man 4 (straight to DVD)
With Karrion Kross out of action for some time, NXT is hitting the retro button and giving us a four way between former champions. Since this involved Descendants fan Johnny Gargano, it was also forced to include his BFF-turned-enemy-turned-BFF-turned-secret-enemy Tommaso Ciampa. I will never be free of this storyline for as long as I live. Adam Cole and Finn Balor rounded out the match, because this is the home of short kings. This was a classic NXT main event; huge spots, brief unlikely alliances, Gargano and Ciampa breathing heavily st each other, and Adam Cole’s knee. So boney. So exposed. All four guys really put in the effort and the chemistry was there between everyone, but it was a whole sixty minutes, and I have trouble sitting through three minute YouTube videos. As an Iron Man match, this ran the second hour of NXT, which is insane considering we didn’t even get a finish. After 60 sweaty minutes, two men had equal scores of 2 pins each- Balor and Cole, who had also managed to pin each other. What a tangled web we weave. Regal announced a one on one match next week to determine a conclusive winner, while Gargano and Ciampa were left to think up new ways to betray each other. They’re really running out of options. Cole and Balor should be great together, and my moneys on Balor taking the title.
Steaks, Weights, and Trading Lunch Boxes
Remember Otis and that new toy that gives him the ability to challenge for whatever title he wants at any given moment? It’s kind of hard to do that when he hasn’t been given any storyline aside from “likes Mandy Rose” since Money in the Bank. This week, Otis and Tucker feat briefcase faced The Miz and John Morrison, who have also been primarily sitting around with a whole lot of nothing going on lately. At least the Miz has like 50 other side projects happening at any given time- the man knows how to secure a bag. This was a fun little tag match that let Heavy Machinery do their big boy spots to the imaginary crowd pops as Miz and Morrison displayed some great panicked expressions. The faces were dominate for much of this, but Miz and Morrison isolated Otis and kept him grounded for a minute, before he hulked out and overpowered both men. He hit the Caterpillar on Miz, then a Vader Bomb from the second rope to win. This makes Heavy Machinery #1 contender’s to Shinsuke and Cesaro’s tag titles; the working men versus the high fashion legends. This could go either way. Post match, Morrison stole the MITB briefcase, only to later find that it contained Otis’ lunch instead of his title contract. In the landscape and social opinion of WWE today, the food may have been the more valuable prize. Depends on the protein, I guess.
Top 5 Anime Betrayals
Friday night saw Bayley and Sasha challenge Shayna and Nia for their recently won Women’s Tag Titles. This match was similar to the one we got at Payback, with Baszler and Jax dominating a good portion. Banks and Bayley were able to achieve a little offense after powerbombing Jax on the apron, evening things up until Sasha turned her knee into goo by going full speed into the turnbuckle. She managed to come back with a Bank Statement on Baszler, but it was broken up by Jax. After the Golden Role Models focused on taking down Shayna, Nia came off the top turnbuckle to hit them both with a crossbody and score a double pin. Understandably, Bayley and Sasha were both pretty bummed about this outcome. Sasha dealt with her grief by refusing medical attention and forcing herself to be alone with her thoughts. Bayley decided to beat the hell out of her best friend. She suddenly attacked Sasha, going after the injured knee and tossing her around outside the ring. The role model gave a great display of how to absolutely brutalize someone who has stuck by you even through some questionable makeup choices, as she ended the attack with a huge diving stomp to Sasha’s neck. Sasha had to be stretchered out, while the SmackDown Women’s Champ stood tall. WWE has teased the Bayley/Sasha feud about a dozen times now, but it never fails to feel like a gut punch. Banks bumps like every bone in her body is breaking, so the attack felt especially brutal here. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this leaves both women moving forward.
No Cake, Just Cousins
Big E was expecting to have a nice birthday cake in honor of Xavier Woods tonight, but his attempts to celebrate genuine friendship were crushed by Sheamus. Instead of meeting his friend, E was ambushed, forced to drop the handmade cake, and thrown through the windshield of somebody’s rental car by a man who apparently hasn’t changed his clothes at all for the past month. As a result, he was unable to compete in the main event fourway alongside Sheamus, Baron Corbin, and Matt Riddle, but Adam Pearce promised a “suitable replacement.” This turned out to be Jey Uso, which was a very pleasant surprise. He and Roman had reunited earlier in the night, with Reigns encouraging his cousin for the match, but like most children of Irish Catholics, I can smell family drama from several miles away. This match delivered, despite the fact that it involved a man who really shouldn’t be employed with the company any longer. The heels teamed up briefly to go after Jey, but their alliance didn’t last long. Some big spots on the outside, including Uso leaping over the top rope to take out both Corbin and Riddle. In the end, everybody hit their finishers rapid fire, with an End of Days attempt that lead Corbin right into a Brogue Kick, only for Sheamus to get picked up for the Bro to Sleep. Riddle hit a Floating Bro on Corbin, but Jey has been on wrestling Twitter sometime in the past three months and knew he couldn’t stand for that, so he landed a huge splash to get the win. Cousin versus cousin; a tale as old as time. Jey and Roman at Clash of Champions should be really great, and it’s nice to see Uso get this opportunity outside of his tag team.
See No Wrestling, Speak No Wrestling
Tehuti Miles can rock a fanny pack like nobody’s business, so I guess he’s my favorite babyface right now. He went one on one with Ariya Daivari to open 205 Live on Friday, but unfortunately while he may have more fashion sense than the rest of the roster, he can’t quite seem to catch up to them in wins. Daivari beat him for the second week in a row with the hammerlock lariat, and now Miles is gonna have to do some hardcore online shopping to make his ego feel better. Daivari offered him a handshake after the match, only to pull away and shout “sike!” I love 1997. Our main event was Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch facing large adult frat boys EverRise. The faces were on a hot streak, with Burch giving Parker a huge headbutt to knock him down. Lorcan was tagged in to end the show, when Legado del Fantasma came out. They attacked Lorcan and Burch first, causing a DQ, then went after Ever-Rise in the ring. Wilde and Mendoza beat down the duo, then duct taped over Martel’s mouth and Parker’s eyes. Fantasma’s heel antics are clicking here, but I’d like to see them actually get stuff done in the ring as well. They ate another loss to Breezango and Swerve this week on NXT, despite their sweet street fight gear.