It’s the week after WrestleMania and there’s not a beach ball to be seen! Instead of uninspired chants and the constant sound of batting plastic, you can hear all the moaning and groaning of wrestlers as they duke it out in another week of pre-taped, closed set shows. With a proverbial fresh start for the roster, let’s see how WWE is setting up some new stories after Mania.
New Girl in Town
After making her Mania debut attacking Zelina Vega, Bianca Belair was at it again, coming to the aid of Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins once more. After Vega got involved in the tag rematch on Monday night, Belair arrived again to even the score and challenge Zelina to a match as an official member of the Raw roster. After a fight began between the two teams again, we got our third match type within the same segment as it became a 6 person mixed tag. The image of Bianca giving the KOD to Austin Theory is a great one, but we had to settle for seeing her plant Zelina again. As happy as I am to see Belair moving to Raw, it’s completely wild to me that she never held the NXT title. With any luck, we’ll see her vs Lynch sooner rather than later.
No Man is Ever Truly Buried
In events that nobody would have predicted last week, Aleister Black took on Apollo Crews on Monday night. This match went over 25 minutes, and I really wish I was joking. After a series of squashes on Raw over the past month, and Mania’s relatively quick win over Bobby Lashley, it was a shock to see Black get a serious challenge here in Crews. Another legend of the shadow realm that’s been woefully misused, Crews is a fantastic athlete, and it is nice to see him get any kind of a push. Commentary noted he was brought over from SmackDown, where I don’t know if we ever saw him wrestle. That may also mean we could get some more drafts between the brands in the next few weeks. This match really showed off Black’s methodical style, and while the build was a little slower and a lot longer than I may have liked, overall the two worked well together. It’ll be interesting to see what’s next for both of them moving forward; Black was at his best during his feud with Murphy, but the recent squashes and random match with Lashley didn’t do much for him.
Netflix Celeb Appears On Wrestling Show
The star of The Big Show Show was back on Raw in our pre-taped main event, set immediately after WrestleMania went off the air on Sunday night. After McIntyre’s big win, Show came out dragging a ref to the ring to challenge Drew for his newly won title. If I remember correctly, the last time we saw the world’s largest athlete he was teaming with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe to beat up Seth Rollins and co, but I guess we shouldn’t think too hard about that one, because he’s a bad guy again and he’s got a Netflix show to promote. While it was nice to see McIntyre already get a chance to defend the title, Big Show was certainly a random choice for a first challenger. The announcers were going wild on someone having to defend their title immediately after winning it, as if they’d never seen any Money in the Bank cash ins before. The match itself here was fine; Big Show is surprisingly capable considering the years under his belt, and there is something wild in the visual of a man who can make Drew McIntyre look short. Despite being hit with a choke slam, McIntyre managed to kick out and land a Claymore for the win.
Last Time Ever (For Real This Time)
NXT promised a dozen times that this week was the final chapter for Gargano and Ciampa, and we would never again be subject to #DIY chants. That meant this last match, dubbed ‘one final beat’ because apparently no one on the creative team proof-read that slogan, had to cap off a three year long feud that’s had more stops and starts than any college relationship. This match had everything and went everywhere; if you thought Edge and Orton ran long, you’re in for a real surprise with these two. After fighting onto a truck and nailing each other with weapons, Ciampa accidentally knocked out the ref. Candice LeRae, horrifically still relegated to being Johnny’s wife instead of a very good babyface in her own right, told her husband she would get the job done if he couldn’t, and then kicked him in the dick. As Ciampa tried to help him, Candice kicked him in the crotch as well, and Johnny revealed he was wearing a cup all along, so his dick and balls were perfectly fine. He hit the Fairy Tale Ending onto the exposed ring for the win, ending a conflict that’s haunted NXT and my nightmares for the past few years. Hopefully this will allow both men, and poor LeRae, to branch out and explore new stories. If I ever, and I mean ever, have to sit through another Gargano and Ciampa match I will kick myself in the crotch. You have my word.
Co-op Evicts Redneck
Braun Strowman started us off on Friday with a promo about seizing opportunity when one of your coworkers has to choose between pay day and his own health, which is totally a rational decision that a man working for a billion dollar corporation should have to make. Tik tok king Shinsuke Nakamura then came out to knock on Strowman’s door for a Universal title opportunity, as the last time they faced off, Sami Zayn won the Intercontinental Title from Strowman. Cesaro tried to attack Strowman from behind, and the big country boy suffered a Kinshasa to end the segment. Cesaro and Nakamura were left standing tall, and for a brief moment, I could imagine a just world where Sami Zayn, Nakamura, and Cesaro all held gold. It won’t happen, but a girl can dream.
Forgotten All Over Again
WWE honored the release of The Revival, arguably one of the more mismanaged teams in the company’s past few years, by proving to the fans they already had a back up team of flat, angry men in old fashioned coats. NXT’s Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake, Steve Cutler, and Jaxson Ryker) made their SmackDown debut again Lucha House Party. Unlike other surprising moments this week, this debut actually feels right at home in an empty PC, because that’s about the reaction the team got at Full Sail as well. The country punk/vaguely Dixie gimmick never quite landed with the NXT crowd, and I can’t say I see them doing much better on a bigger stage. This was a short match, with Cutler and Blake pinning Metalik after a team finisher. With the SmackDown tag division as stacked as it is, I can’t really imagine the Forgotten Sons playing and significant part in the title scene.
Someone Remembers Women’s Tag Titles Exist
The Kabuki Warriors challenged Bliss and Cross to a rematch for their newly won tag team championships on SmackDown, marking the most attention that’s been paid to the women’s tag titles in months. This was longer than their Mania match, giving both teams time to shine, and making it feel like it might go either way. When the Kabuki Warriors were in control, we were even blessed with Asuka on commentary briefly, before Nikki knocked her off the table. After a Twisted Bliss onto both Kairi and Asuka on the outside, Cross landed a neck breaker on Sane to retain the titles. Cross and Bliss are a fun team, and it’ll be nice to hopefully see the tag championships defended more often. It’s a shame Sane and Asuka weren’t paid more attention as champs, but it could be fun to see them chase the belts for a while.
One Champ Too Many
With Jordan Devlin still in Ireland, NXT is holding a tournament to crown an interim Cruiserweight Champion, finally giving us a second cruiserweight classic, but truly, at what cost. While it is hard to build any kind of a story on 205 without a champion, an interim champ feels like he would hold about the same amount of power as your 12 year old cousin babysitting for the first time. This week we had two matches between guys who will no doubt take place in the tournament: Tony Nese vs Danny Burch, and Jack Gallagher vs Oney Lorcan. I keep forgetting about Jack Gallagher’s tattoos, and then when I see them it’s like the first time all over again, and I’m left with a dozen questions and no answers. Possibly the biggest virgin-to-chad transformation in the history of wrestling. After a win over Burch, Nese came back to watch the main event, before interfering and attacking Gallagher. He almost took out Oney with a chair, but Burch came back to save his partner and let us close out the show with his banging theme song.