As usual, this was a mixed week for WWE. They released several NXT talents on Wednesday and Thursday, some more understandable than others. Among the more surprising releases are Alexander Wolfe, who has been a part of Imperium for some time now, Jessamyn Duke, of the Four Horsewomen, and Brandi Lauren, who made a single appearance in a hot tub party alongside Damien Priest. Let’s hope they all find bookings in the near future—Wuertz and Dream excluded. Still, the show rolls on, and the show this week gave us new champions, flowers in the mouth, and some brutal family gaslighting.
Aggressive Kiss from a Rose
Angel Garza has been on TV for the past three weeks, I’m assuming because WWE saw just how badly I needed a win. Two weeks ago he shoved a rose in Drew Gulak’s pants and kicked it up his ass (genuinely, that’s what happened). This week, he continued his quest to place roses inside his coworkers when he once again took on Gulak. As an avid cruiserweight wrestling supporter, I like both these guys, and seeing Gulak wrestle on TV is always a good time. You know, the 2.5 times throughout the year that we get it. But this offered nothing that their first match hadn’t already accomplished two weeks ago; it made Garza look good and showed off his fade haircut, which is old news by this point. Gulak got some brief submissions in to start, but Garza fought out to hit a back breaker and the Wing Clipper to finish things off. After the match, Garza shoved a rose into Gulak’s mouth. Again, this didn’t serve much purpose, but I’m happy to see these two on TV at all, so I watched the whole three minute match twice.
Hot Out There For a Sommelier
Alexa Bliss and Lilly hosted Tamina and Natalya on the playground, and whoever came up with putting Tamina and the creepy teeth doll in the same segment deserves a raise. Incredible side eye at work here. Alexa asked the new champs their favorite color, and we got a solid 10 seconds of silence before Nattie settled on pink, while Tamina chose black and blue. The same colors she’d like to make Alexa’s face, turns out. Bliss said some more weird stuff, and the tag champs decided to call it a night to prepare for their upcoming rematch against Baszler and Jax. Alexa promised to keep an eye on everything from the safety of her portable playground.
Reggie accompanied Jax and Baszler again, in his matching blazer and fanboy t-shirt. Jax wiped out Nattie and brought in Shayna to work on her arm. Natalya hit the discus clothesline and tagged Tamina, who landed a superkick to knock Jax off the ropes. Alexa and Lilly came out to watch just as Shayna got Tamina in the Kirifuda Clutch, and a burst of fire came out of the ring post, knocking poor Reggie on his ass. They certainly didn’t prep him for that on the sommelier test. Tamina and Nattie took advantage with the Hart Attack to Shayna to retain, while Nia checked on a blinded Reginald. Alexa and Lilly giggled at Reggie’s immense pain, and we faded to black. I guess my biggest question here is: if Alexa could shoot fire in the ring, why did she go for leg possession last week? Just seems far less effective. Tamina and Nattie looked good here, Shayna’s going to feud with a doll, and I have absolutely no idea where Reginald goes from here. Maybe back to the five star kitchen Carmella plucked him from.
Trombone Plays the Blues
Lashley and MVP and a group of hot women kicked off Raw this week. MVP talked about how exhausted Lashley was after beating Strowman and McIntyre the previous night. But, like a true champ, he was still going to issue an open challenge for Raw. Drew Mac interrupted to volunteer himself, but MVP quickly let him know that he and Strowman were exempt. Later in the night, Kofi Kingston answered the open challenge for the WWE Championship, before MVP took a page from Sheamus’ book and refused to put the title on the line. This left the challenge simply for the glory of looking at Bobby’s muscles up close, which is still a great prize. Commentary repeatedly reminded us that Kingston had already faced Randy Orton earlier in the night, but facing RK-Bro level Orton feels akin to me having to take the stairs when the elevator is out. It’s annoying, but I can probably recover after a tight 20 minutes.
Kofi took it right to the champ, but got hit with a huge spinebuster. A couple of dropkicks and a trust fall rocked Lashley, but Bobby had taken over again by the time we got back from a series of Cena Mountain Dew commercials. A stalling suplex earned a very close two count on Kingston, and Kofi couldn’t seem to get the ball rolling. Woods played a delightful trombone tune to distract Lashley, letting Kofi drop him on the apron. Lashley bounced Kingston off the ring post and looked to do it again, but Xavier saved his friend and got ejected from ringside for his efforts. MVP wound up to nail Kofi with the cane, but Drew McIntyre snatched it and hit Bobby in the throat, letting Kofi roll him up for the win. New Day and McIntyre celebrated on the ramp; Drew, unfortunately, did not possess the hip skills of Big E. We’ll surely see him and Lashley inside the cell next month, and if there’s one thing red chain link cells are made for, it’s 600+ pounds of dudes duking it out.
Two and a Half Men in a Steel Cage
Last week, Bronson Reed defeated Austin Theory to earn another North American Championship opportunity inside a steel cage. All The Way shenanigans in the world couldn’t save Johnny Wrestling from the Aussie’s wrath. Gargano tried to flee straight away, but Reed caught him and rammed him into the cage wall. He bounced Johnny off the steel like a basketball, then tossed him headfirst into the wall again. Gargano was able to roll out of the way of a splash and land a DDT to keep himself in the game. Some interference from Theory on the outside helped Johnny catch Reed between the legs on the ropes, then kicked him where the sun don’t shine to really drive it home. Theory continued to be a factor throughout the match until he tried to hold the door shut to keep Reed from escaping. The Colossus powered it open, slamming Theory into the cage and wiping him out cold. Gargano managed a poisonrana and tried to go for One Final Beat, but Reed caught him again and chucked him into the wall. Reed crawled to the door, but again, Theory beat him to it. Johnny landed One Final Beat for a close two count and climbed all the way to the top, only to find himself in a huge power bomb from Reed. A splash and a Tsunami off the top turnbuckle finally finished things off for Johnny, crowning Reed our new NA champion.
A great, physical match for both guys, with the right ending. Reed deserves the win here, and he should have a very solid run as NA champ. Gargano and The Way remain fun enough to keep him relevant without the title- although with the way they’re finally cleaning house, one of the next releases might be Austin Theory.
Been There, Seen That
If you were missing Shayna Baszler as the backbone of WWE, fear not—we got two brand appearances for the former tag champ. After their rematch with Tamina and Natalya on Monday, Nia and Shayna again faced the new champs on Friday in a six woman tag match, along with Bianca Belair and Bayley. This came about after Bayley got mad she wasn’t included in the champions circle at the top of the show, although all she really missed was the same news we all read on Twitter like five hours earlier. Bianca called her out before getting jumped by Jax and Baszler, who were met by Tamina and Natalya, and we had ourselves our only women’s division action all night.
After a hot start, Bianca seemed to hurt her knee on a crossbody on the outside, and Bayley tagged in to work it over. Tamina and Natalya traded quick tags, ending with a double team to Bayley that nearly got the win, until the Role Model grabbed the ropes. Some commotion between both teams ending with a Bayley to Belly to Bianca, and Baszler tagged in to get Nattie in the Kirifuda clutch, forcing the champ to tap. Commentary later announced that this means Jax and Baszler get another rematch for the titles on Raw, and I guess we’ll all pretend we haven’t now seen this same match 3 times in 8 days.
Local Man Lies to Loved One
SmackDown kicked off with all the champions on the ramp as Sonya Deville announced WWE’s return to live shows this summer, but one big dog was missing. Paul Heyman told us that Reigns wasn’t into the whole sharing the stage business, and he’d make an appearance on his own. Later, Reigns, alongside Jey Uso, Heyman, and a prestige tracksuit, came out to slow talk his way into some more family drama. He requested James Uso join them in the ring, since Jimmy had taken it upon himself to book a match between the Usos and the Street Profits for next week.
It was Cesaro who interrupted to challenge Reigns to another match at Hell in a Cell. The Swiss Superman had on an arm sling after being attacked by Seth Rollins at Backlash, but he assured Reigns that he could wrestle him with zero arms. Roman didn’t seem interested, and before he could respond, Seth jumped Cesaro from behind. He beat him down and delivered two stomps, all without wrinkling his rainbow skull blazer. The man has gotta drop the name of his tailor. Backstage, Seth claimed he had blacked out during the attacked, then yelled at an injured Cesaro on a stretcher that this was all “his fault.” Seth’s going off the deep end! I’m here for whatever the Messiah’s doing, as long as he keeps coming out in these fits.
Later in the show, Roman reminded Jey that he was there for him when Jimmy wasn’t, and that “we” was their family—him and Jey. Roman is really thriving on that next level manipulation here. This is setting up a couple different threads, between the Usos, Cesaro, and Rollins, with Roman in the center of them all. And I am absolutely loving it.
Interrupting Dark Father
SmackDown finished the week in chaotic fashion as Apollo Crews was forced to lay his IC title on the line again in a fatal four-way against Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Big E. We started out with Owens going right after Zayn, leaving Crews and E in the ring. There are a lot of times that WWE drives feuds into the ground, but I could genuinely watch Sami and Kevin fight forever. E hit a splash on the apron to both Crews and Zayn, then got taken out with a dive from Owens. Apollo took over in the ring and bounced Owens off the steps, then landed a standing moonsault to E on the outside. Commander Azeez gave his best look of stoic concern as KO broke up a pin from Crews to E. Huge moves from all four guys ended with a spear through the ropes from Big E to Owens. Sami evaded a Pop Up Powerbomb, but still got hit with a slam for a two count.
Azeez helped Crews to his feet as Zayn and Owens went back and forth in the ring. Zayn eliminated Owens on the outside, then ran into an erinagi from E. Big E hit the Big Ending on Crews, but was pulled out of the cover by Azeez. E shoved the commander into the ring post to take him out, and a bright light sort of halfway filled the Thunder Dome. Like turning on your phone’s flashlight when you already have an overhead on. Aleister Black emerged from the light to deliver Black Mass to E and let Apollo get the roll up. This was a fast-paced fourway with good moments for all the men involved. We knew ahead of time that Apollo was going to retain, but Black assisting Crews is unexpected. I wouldn’t hate seeing him join Apollo’s little squad, especially if this leads to him and E one on one.
Extremely Cool for the Summer
This week’s 205 Live proved what we’ve long suspected; the inclusion of Ikemen Jiro makes any show an instant 10. Jiro and his partner Grey took on the Bollywood Boys, and there was plenty of blazer action. Grey and Samir started off, going back and forth on the mat with headholds until Sunil and Jiro tagged in. An angelic moonsault earned a one count on Sunil, and August came back in. Samir pulled his brother out of the way in time to send Grey running into the turnbuckle, and Jiro returned the favor by saving his partner from a double team. Some jacket strikes to Sunil and he took out Samir on the apron for good measure. A huricanrana and a knee scored the win for the handsomest man in wrestling, and all was well. I hope Jiro has a nice weekend.