With the Raw and SmackDown go-homes airing this week, there was still a lot to be decided for Survivor Series. Who would face Roman Reigns? Who else will join Team SmackDown? And who genuinely wants to buy merch from a Snoop Dogg/Undertaker collaboration? What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall during those marketing meetings.
Lana and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad 2-4 Months
The Raw women’s team is juggling some big issues, like mutual respect and how to interact with one another without breaking tables. A three on three match saw Asuka, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke take on Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, and Lana. Not really sure why Lana’s agreeing to team with the women who have been literally breaking her back for the past month, but that does seem to be how you get ahead in pro wrestling. I wish that was a joke. Baszler wiped out Rose early on, who managed to get a tag to Asuka. The Empress found herself in The Kirifuda Clutch, until Lana, who had been instructed not to tag herself in, tapped Baszler’s shoulder. She managed little offense before being trapped in the Asuka Lock and tapping, which made Baszler and Jax none too happy. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to be getting out of the Lana and tables saga, other than Jax and Baszler are mean. Who knew?? Backstage, Reckoning attacked Dana Brooke, making both Brooke and Rose unable to compete at Surviver Series. They will be replaced by Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans, no qualifying match required, because there’s a finite number of women available. Reckoning is the only female member of Retribution, and WWE’s hard no on intergender means we haven’t seen any women go against the avenging hackers yet. The artist previously known as Mia Yim might make an appearance on Sunday night, but she can’t really make things worse for Team Raw than they already are.
Pancakes, Friends, Business
The Hurt Business finally got their shot at tag team gold on Monday, as MVP-proclaimed best of the best Benjamin and Alexander went against reigning champs The New Day. Kingston came out strong, driving Benjamin into the corner. He followed some quick hits with a drop kick, but Shelton kicked out. Benjamin used his strength to overpower Woods, slamming him into the mat. Kofi got the tag, but Benjamin caught him in the middle of the Boom Drop and hit a big powerbomb. A double tram with Alexander off the top turnbuckle almost got the pin on Kingston, but Kofi barely kicked out. He managed to hit Benjamin with a DDT and make the tag to Woods, who came in hot. He wiped out both Benjamin with Trouble in Paradise, and set up Alexander for Woods to hit Daybreak to retain. This was a really solid match between the two top teams on Raw; it’s amazing how much The Hurt Business has grown in the past few months. The addition of Alexander has made it possible for them to branch into just about every area, and I certainly wouldn’t hate seeing them get another shot again New Day in the near future.
Average Night for Big Sword
The main event gave us McIntyre and Orton yet again, but this time Drew entered in a kilt and holding a sword, which already made it their best one yet. No contest. Sheamus gave McIntyre these precious family heirlooms backstage earlier in the night, because naturally he was the man holding onto them. While united in their poor representation in BBC period dramas, Scotland and Ireland are of course different countries, but I’m not sure WWE knows that. Anyway, this was another good match between the two men. Early on it became no count out or DQ, after Orton tried to wait out McIntyre’s offensive on the outside. This prompted Randy to go for a chair and test it out on Drew’s back. He followed with a thumb to the eye as McIntyre tried to battle back. Drew hit a DDT and even sent Orton through a commentary table, but the Viper kept kicking out. The two struggled in the ring, until Drew landed the Claymore to win the WWE Championship for a second time. It’s a bit surprising to see Randy lose the belt so quickly, but it felt like a solid choice to put McIntyre back on top. Not only will his bout with Reigns be great, but there’s a lot of fun potential with Mr Money in the Bank and his neon suits lurking in the corner.
After last week’s surprising title change, with Leon Ruff beating Johnny Gargano (following some assistance by Damien Priest), Gargano demanded a rematch for the North American title. Ruff, who deserves everything good in life and should be North American champion maybe forever, was up for the challenge. Gargano attacked the newcomer before the bell, dominating the match early. Ruff mounted a small comeback, but Johnny was ready for the fight this time. He caught Ruff’s DDT and turned it around, able to hit his own One Final Beat. Sensing things going in Johnny’s favor, Priest pulled Ruff to the outside and hit him with a right hand, causing the DQ so Leon would retain. Johnny was outraged, as was Ruff backstage as he confronted Priest about not trusting him to do the job on his own. Leon later interrupted a fight between Priest and Gargano, managing to drop both men before running off with his title. I’m glad to see Ruff getting screen time to shine, especially as he was (momentarily) allowed to best both former champs tonight, but still I’m worried he’ll be treated as little more than a goofy supporting player to Gargano and Priest.
This is Actually Awesome
Io Shirai vs Rhea Ripley was treated as a huge match by commentary all night, and it certainly lived up to the hype. I can’t think of a single boring match Shirai’s had in NXT, and Ripley more than stepped up to the challenge tonight. They started out on the mat, with Shirai targeting Ripley’s left arm. For some reason, we got a Picture in Picture of Finn Balor walking across the parking lot, which is very low on the list of things I care about while Io Shirai is wrestling. Ripley made a little comeback, but Shirai cut her off handily. Ripley barely escaped an arm bar, then avoided a Tiger Feint kick, but ate two sharp rights to the chin. Shirai connected with a second feint kick, but still Ripley kicked out. She rolled out of the way of the moonsault and seemed to get a second wind, almost hitting the Rip arise until Shirai nailed her with a DDT. Shirai powerbombed her challenger through a table, but still Ripley beat the 10 count. Finally, a moonsault put Rhea away for good, ending a very aggressive and physically fantastic match. Afterwords, both women shared a hug, and probably a lot of blood, sweat, and germs. This was the best thing WWE put on all week, and I would highly recommend seeking it out.
We Share The Smoke
SmackDown kicked off with The Street Profits telling Big E how they planned on kicking his BFFs a-s-ses, but E surprised them by announcing that Woods and Kingston were already here tonight. Also, he had a sombrero and did The Undertaker bit, and that was pretty fun. Woods and Kingston came out to the ring and kind of glossed over why Raw wrestlers can just show up on SmackDown whenever they want now to talk about The Undertaker. They honored him by taking a brief nap in the ring, on account of the Deadman being 89 or close to it, but were interrupted by Sami Zayn, who was then followed by King Corbin. Roode and Ziggler soon joined in on the fun, and the four heels went after Woods and Kingston, which prompted the Street Profits to come save the day. Eagle eyed viewed may have already guessed where this was heading- an 8 man tag. The faces worked together pretty well, all sharing the same value that it’s not 2011 and I shouldn’t have to see Dolph Ziggler on my screen this much. New Day took care of Ziggler and Roode early on, and Corbin tagged in to take over. Kofi went for a crossbody as Corbin moved, landing on Ford instead. Dawkins, like most babyfaces, was unable to understand how accidents work, but still the team carried on. Corbin landed Deep Six, but Xavier was able to just kick out in time. Sami tagged in to meet Ford, who landed a huge splash for the faces to prevail. After the chemistry tonight, I’m really looking forward to seeing these four go against each other this weekend. There’s not much animosity behind the match, which feels like a refreshing change of pace, even for face vs face. Sometimes it’s fun to just stay friends, WWE.
BOAT Finally Blasts Competition
Adam Pearce, who was quietly become in charge of WWE on screen somehow, announced the newest edition to both SmackDown teams: Otis and Bayley. Otis was congratulated by Chad Gable, while Natalya ripped Pearce a new one for not handing her a place on the team when she was also SmackDown Women’s champ 3 years ago. Pearce allowed Nattie one last chance to earn her spot one-on-one against someone who was almost definitely not going to Survivor Series- Tamina. Bayley joined Bianca and her sick rhinestone sunglasses on commentary, putting herself over as team captain and still the worst version of your aunt asking for the Forever 21 manager. Tamina was able to toss Natalya around early on, but the Queen of Harts fired back with a spinning closeline and the Sharpshooter to get the win. After 3 failed qualifiers, Natalya finally punches her ticket to Survivor Series in a tight two minutes. The two team celebrating in ring after, and it looks stacked; Raw is wilting compared to this line up.
Australian Man Escapes Cult
It’s late November 2020, and Seth Rollins is still involved with the Mysterio family. Just further proof that we’ve all been living the same day since March 13th. Rollins dominated here early, tying Murphy up in the ropes. A distraction from both Rey and Dominick let Murphy free himself, but he ran into a right hand from Seth at ringside. Aaliyah tried to check on him, but slipped in her somewhat impractical ringside heels. Rollins took control again, tossing Murphy into the ring post and laying into him with strikes. Murphy fired back momentarily with a kick and a huge dive to the outside, but Rollins wasn’t deterred. The two traded shots on the apron, until Murphy landed a big knee to knock Rollins on his back. Seth landed the Stomp with Murphy’s head through the ropes, but Buddy got a foot on the bottom rope to break it. A heated Rollins claimed he gave Murphy everything, which is a blatant disregard of his fantastic 10 month Cruiserweight championship reign, but I don’t know what I expected. Feeling the scorn of being the red headed step disciple, Murphy hit a surprise knee and landed Murphy’s Law, scoring a win and officially being adopted by Rey and Angie. Just like Stuart Little, another short king has finally found his perfect family. We can all only hope this is the official end of Rollins and the Mysterios, but at this point, who knows. They’ll probably have Seth try to stab Angie next week or something just to keep this thing rolling into 2021.
Winning “Thee” Match
Ariya Daivari joined commentary to cheer on best pal Tony Nese in the main event, as he went against Ashante “Thee” Adonis. Things started out slow, until Nese went to commentary to add his own thoughts on why his opponent sucks. Adonis followed and landed a big slap right in front of Daivari, who fired back with plenty of colorful insults. This gave Nese a chance to get the upperhand, almost scoring the win with a springboard moonsault. Daivari grabbed his signature chain to help a buddy out, but a quick roll up almost caused him to hit Nese instead. Adonis landed a spinebuster to take out Daivari, then a superkick to pin Nese for the win. This was a quick match up that was really helped by Daivari’s trash talking on the sidelines. Adonis getting a big win is surprising, but it’s nice to see 205 continue to build their new stars.