What a week for WWE! If you work in their PR department it was probably more of a nightmare, but I kind of imagine that’s the norm. Now that all planes are working again and no one’s stuck in a foreign country for an indefinite amount of time, we can look back and decide what was good, what was bad, and what’s going to keep me up at night.
Lana Machka Babies
Is this Rusev/Lana/Lashley storyline good? No. Is it producing entertaining television? I mean, yeah, definitely. Raw concluded on Monday night with Jerry Lawler hosting a mock divorce court for Lana and Rusev, and definitely foreshadowing some unfortunate developments for anyone attending this event as a date. Lana proclaimed all Rusev ever wanted from her was sex (I guess she’s never met another male wrestler before) and that he was a sex addict because of it. The whole segment might as well have happened in an empty arena, because no one there could care less that true love was imploding right in front of their eyes. This whole story has been a wild, unnecessarily horny ride from start to finish, but we found out Rusev wants to do it at the doctor’s office, so it feels kind of worth it. Lashley attacked Rusev, then made out with his wife over his prone body, because that’s professional wrestling in 2019.
Hot Men Have Rights
After taking on Seth Rollins last week, Humberto Carrillo sought to face another man with a terrible haircut in AJ Styles. It’s great to see Carrillo get some significant matches on Raw, after previous cruiserweight call ups have seemed to flounder for much of their main roster run. He’s young, extremely talented, and he’s got dimples for days. This match was solid; as much as everything else about him seems to suck, Styles rarely puts on a bad wrestling match. Carrillo got some good offense in, showing off his incredible high flying, but ultimately tapped to the calf crusher. After the match, Styles faked Carrillo out with a handshake, only to fake him out at the last second. Humberto, angry at being a victim of a third grade joke and having to look at some of the worst face paint he’s ever seen on Luke Gallows, attacked Styles, but The OC had the advantage, until The Street Profits came out to save Humberto. Handsome legends flock together!
No Managers, No Kings
Since winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Hell in a Cell, the Kabuki Warriors have been on fire. From the killer black gear to their Japanese promos that prove making fun of someone’s specific insecurity truly has no language barrier, Kairi Sane and Asuka are an incredibly entertaining team. This week on Raw, the two proved they don’t need a mouthpiece and they definitely don’t need Paige’s questionable tweets, turning on their former manager when Asuka spit green mist right in her face. This move makes sense, as Kairi and Asuka work great on their own, and as a heel team they don’t really fit with Paige either. WWE has a tendency to give their foreign talent someone to speak for them, but I don’t need to know exactly what these women are saying to know they’re intimidating as hell, and I would like to see them drop a makeup tutorial for that sweet green eyes look.
NXT Is Coming from Inside the House
We knew Friday Night Smackdown was going to be a bit of a scramble, as a good chunk of WWE’s roster was treated to a lengthier than anticipated stay in Saudi Arabia, a phrase which definitely shouldn’t frighten you at all. Luckily WWE is stocked with talent they don’t use, as well as a whole women’s division who weren’t allowed to come to Crown Jewel in the first place. It was impressive to see them turn out one of the better shows in recent months as a result the setbacks, using the opportunity to showcase NXT talent and start the build to Survivor Series, since NXT will be a part of the PPV this year.
Shayna Baszler, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox, Bianca Belair, Tommaso Ciampa, and Adam Cole all made their debuts calling out SmackDown wrestlers. The black and gold brand is on USA now and they’re ready to play with the big boys. The show ended with Triple H and the NXT wrestlers in the ring, posing for a family holiday card, while Trips talked about family and blood, and how he was going to murder Raw and Smackdown.
Brock Lesnar Takes Fridays Off
Just like me in college, Lesnar is trying to schedule around his Thirsty Thursday hangover. After being attacked by Rey Mysterio at Crown Jewel, Heyman announced Lesnar had had enough of his four week run on SmackDown, and was going to Raw to ruin Mysterio’s family some more. This means the WWE Championship and the Universal Title, now in The Fiend’s fingerless gloves, are brand swapping. This marks the first time since it’s creation 3 years ago that the big red belt won’t be on Raw, which makes me really hope The Fiend turns up next week with it dyed blue, because he understands how branding works and has a keen eye for decorating.
Brand of the Hour
As always, 205 Live had the hardest job this week: keeping anyone’s attention at 10:20 pm on Friday night. Xavier Woods’ favorite wrestler Jack Gallagher gave a good attempt with his trusty oversized velvet bathrobe, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott and Ariya Daivari put on an engaging first match, but it was the main event that really delivered. Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush faced Raul Mendoza in a top 5 banger of the week contender, and I’m not just saying that as the patron saint of short kings. The crowd started relatively uninterested, even chanting for Aiden English at one point— which, yes, I get it— but these guys still won them over. Both men are incredibly quick. Mendoza has really been able to shine on 205 in the past few weeks, and Rush has delivered fantastic matches since his return last month. The crowd grew more and more behind Lio, finally applauding both men as they fist bumped like true bros after the match.
WWE Banger of the Week: Daniel Bryan vs Adam Cole
A match that I don’t know if I ever expected to see closed out SmackDown last night, and it was incredible. Backstage, Triple H introduced Bryan to his BayBay, and the world’s angriest vegan accepted a challenge for the NXT title. Roderick Strong showed up to support his BFF, while Cole’s two dads (Michaels and Mr. HHH) stood ringside. This match was fantastic, you could feel the intensity behind both men in everything they did. Bryan used a lot of submission moves early on, including a surfboard on Cole while he made direct eye contact with Triple H, for reasons that maybe weren’t exclusively sexual. Cole pulled out his little knee and a huge Panama Sunrise, and I popped huge for both. Bryan nearly won with the Labell Lock a few times, but Adam’s wiry legs helped him get to the ropes. He finally got the win with the Last Shot, giving NXT a clean sweep for the whole night.