Next week’s SummerSlam got a cute new subtitle, because “The Horror Show at Extreme Rules” just went over so well. The show is now advertised as “You’ll Never See It Coming” but if you take off the first and last words, I’d guess that’s most wrestling fan’s sentiment about WWE right now. This week, commentary promised us that next week’s shows would emanate live from “somewhere” with “involvement” from the WWE Universe, which is as terrifying a sentence as anything the CDC has told us. Before we all die because somebody was desperate to see King Corbin vs masked Retribution member #3 in person, here’s a rundown of this week’s developments:
Playing with the Big Boys
Dominik Mysterio is looking at the second biggest PPV appearance of his life, following closely behind that time he was a prize in a ladder match. He and the infallible cult leader Seth Rollins completed their contract signing on Monday, overseen by a fired up Samoa Joe. Joe spoke for Dominik here, calling Seth out for being the world’s biggest cry baby and never finding his other glove. Rollins asserted that Dominik didn’t stand a chance next week, and even offered the new superstar the ability to use any weapon he wanted in their match. Right after the signing, Rollins took on Humberto Carrillo in a match that was way too short for my personal taste. I need at least 5 whole minutes of Humberto on my screen to make a Raw episode feel worth it. After putting Carrillo away with the Stomp, Murphy dragged Dominik to the ring and both he and Rollins beat the absolute crap out of him with some kendo sticks. They tied him up in the ropes and took turns wailing on the poor kid who’s just trying to get some good eye insurance for his father. The segment ended with Rollins and Murphy feeling good about their arm workouts, and Mysterio left bruised and beaten. Samoa Joe did absolutely nothing to help his new friend out, despite telling Seth he was a waste of space earlier in the night. A true heel never changes his stripes.
Baszler Hits Up Beatdown Boulevard
Shane McMahon returned with another episode of Boyfights, airing once again from his suburban basement. We saw Arturo Ruas on TV for the first time in ages, but it was a blink and you’ll miss it squash, so I can’t be too excited. While the amateur wrestling style of these fights lets them show off wrestlers who might not be proficient in the “WWE Style” yet, the logistics of the whole underground setup still feels shaky. Does everyone know about this? If Shane’s cornered a section of the PC and decorated it like a serial killers den, everybody under the WWE umbrella must know about it. Does winning in the underground arena mean literally anything for your main roster career? And can you really be “underground” if you’re broadcasting on live cable television? Shane answered none of these questions this week, but he did shout some vague commentary phrases while remaining mic’d during the match, giving us insights such as “night night!” and “count it!” Thanks for everything, Shane.
The story this week was Shayna Baszler besting three local extras at the same time, throwing each woman around with ease. For someone like Shayna, whose whole character revolves around inflicting pain, the Underground admittedly seems like a perfect match. And yet, Baszler’s also a performer who can do very well on the main roster, so it’s not like these segments are giving her the time to shine she’s been denied. I’m not mad about seeing Shayna beat people up, but it’s just kind of reinventing the wheel here. Or the heel, as it were.
Elderly Father Takes a Tumble
Monday’s main event gave us Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens, after the insistence of Ric Flair. The match was good between these two; fairly competitive, with some real fight from Owens, who even imitated Randy’s love for pounding the mat to let his opponents know he’s gonna hit his finisher. Randy blocked the stunner and hit Owens with an RKO to win, but he wasn’t done there. After celebrating his win, Orton called out Flair for making him work tonight at all. With all the tactful malice of a middle school bully he ran down Flair’s ego and faults, claiming that while he could never be mad at the Nature Boy, there were some major issues he needed to work on. Orton went to hug his mentor, only to hit a low blow and a punt to this 70 year old man’s head. I guess Flair didn’t see when Randy did the exact same thing to Edge 6 months ago. McIntyre came out to try to run Orton off, but Charlotte’s dad had already taken a heavy beating for someone who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Karrion Kross and Keith Lee are set to do some big boy things at TakeOver next weekend, but Kross has to beat up some other nice men before he can take on the Limitless One. This week, he faced Danny Burch, but the world’s #2 bald man just couldn’t get it done. He tried to attack Kross right after his entrance, while the smoke was still making the whole place look spooky, but Kross has a lot of experience with Kmart special effects, and still saw him coming. He threw Burch out of the ring and then dragged him back in, only to eat a dropkick from his opponent. Danny got him in the crossface, but Kross powered out to lock in the Kross Jacket and win.
Post-match, Lee came out to call Kross a little bitch. He said he promised Regal that he wouldn’t fight Kross until their match at TakeOver, since Kross has been too much of a coward to face him before. Lee demanded Kross sign his “bitch ass name” on the contract, a line I will absolutely be using in my own life. Scarlett transported the contract to Kross and back to the ring, but when Lee opened it he got a face full of flames. The ol’ fire in the contract trick! Poor Lee rolled on the floor in pain, like when you read a terrible take on the internet and can’t get it out of your head, while Kross stood tall. Looking forward to more party tricks from Scarlett and Kross at their TakeOver match.
Empress of Two Title Matches
SmackDown pulled out one of their old favorites this week by using 97% of their women’s roster in the ring at once for a battle royale, with the winner facing Bayley at SummerSlam. The Golden Role Models were our gleeful announcers for this one after kicking Greg Hamilton to the curb. They received a big surprise when Asuka came out, and then attacked Bayley and Sasha to clear them from the ring. The rest of the women ran down to the ring, which is a big of a bummer because we didn’t even hear Naomi’s themes. We got some continuation of other feuds, as Ruby Riott took the hit from the IIconics to help Liv Morgan stay in. Morgan was unfortunately still eliminated soon after by the IIconics anyway, who had already been thrown out themselves. Naomi vs Lacey Evans continued with Evans knocking off Naomi, because WWE can’t handle a single feud without 50-50 booking. Even one where the entire internet is clamoring for the one wrestler. Bianca Belair looked great throughout, hitting a huge spear on Tamina and eliminating her, but ultimately getting taken out by Tegan Nox. Baszler and Asuka were the final two, and Asuka was tossed over the ropes but managed to land right on Bayley and Banks, saving her from being eliminated. Baszler locked in the Kirifuda Clutch over the ropes, but Asuka used these leverage to pull Shayna out and win, much to Bayley’s disappointment. For a battle royale this was fun and chaotic, with a surprising victor, as Baszler would have easily been the favorite. Two separate Asuka matches at SummerSlam is as enticing an offer as WWE’s come up with lately, although I worry they’ll take the easy way out and make the whole thing a triple threat.
Twitch Streamer Demands Less Interaction
AJ Styles came out to talk about statistics and label himself a hot nerd like this was some 2006 ABC Family movie. He ragged on fans for pulling out their “statistical wrestling knowledge” on his Twitch streams, which I have to assume are usually reserved for explaining how NASA doctors photos from space. With the assistance of Christopher Parks (the former Abyss) Styles revealed his Phenomenal Intercontinental Statistics System (Haha get it? Get it?) to analyze his next opponent, which told him that no one was worthy of facing him. Jeff Hardy came out to interrupt, cutting a promo about how much the IC title means to him, and how excited he would be to face Styles. Styles pretended to be interested before refusing outright, so Jeff just attacked him. Would that my workplace problems were solved the same way. Hardy went and wrote his name on the white board, promising us that mid-00s TNA will truly never die. After the break, AJ agreed to a match with Hardy, promising that “when you mess with AJ Styles, you get erased.” He tried to wipe Hardy’s name from the whiteboard, but the marker didn’t come off. I don’t know if my bar for WWE humor is genuinely low, but I actually laughed at that.
Man Becomes Monster (But, like, a Bad One)
Braun Strowman went for a dip in the Florida waters and emerged a bad, bad boy indeed. Friday night’s episode ended with Alexa Bliss asking Braun what had gotten into him lately, after he got on TV last week and said he didn’t care about her being kidnapped and choked by the show’s biggest villain. Honestly, neither did anyone else on the roster, including her BFF Nikki Cross, so I’m not so sure why she’s picking on Braun here. Strowman talked about how interacting with the Fiend changes you, claiming that Alexa was different now because she kind of touched his face that one time. Bliss went so far as to slap Strowman, telling him to snap out of it, but the monster retaliated by attempting to launch her into the air. He was really gunning to just toss her up like pizza, but the lights went down and then the Fiend was out, with Bliss collapsed on the floor. Strowman appeared on the tron to give his best maniacal laugh to end the show. I guess this means Strowman’s a heel now, and if the woman he tagged with like a year and a half ago can’t get through to him, then he’s lost forever.. Can’t say I’m overly excited to see the Fiend and Strowman go at it again, but their swamp match was entertaining.
Even More Eye Stuff
After Ariya Daivari returned to 205 Live last week to carve out Oney Lorcan’s eye, he had his first match in 6 months against Jake Atlas last night. I’ve been a huge fan of Atlas, for a while; I’d love to see him vs Escobar sometime soon, but, unfortunately, he hasn’t been too successful in the CW division yet. He put in a good effort against Daivari in the main event, showing off some speed with a cartwheel to evade a strike, and later landing an enziguri that almost got him the win. Daivari was vicious, bouncing Atlas’ head off the commentary table and attempting to expose the turnbuckle for more damage. After being caught by the ref Daivari raked the eyes quickly, and hit his hammerlock lariat to win.