Hello again my friends. I bring with me the power of positivity as I, once again, tell you all everything I liked about WWE this week. Everyone has finally recovered from Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega’s pro wrestling masterclass. For a while, we probably all thought it would be impossible to enjoy wrestling again, the bar had been set too high, but the taste is finally out of our mouths and we can get on with the seemingly endless hours of content the WWE gives us. So here are the best bits from this week.
Lets get started with everything I liked from Monday Night Raw.
Moving on, Smackdown Live.
The Rise Of Smackdown’s Girls
The pull apart brawl between Natalya and Nikki Bella. This was so cool. Remember when Undertaker and Lesnar had a massive brawl to close out Raw in the wake of The Beast conquering the streak? OK, this probably wasn’t as good as that, but I do love seeing these brawls. I like Natalya, she is a bit of a rubbish heel, but after the bell rings, she is a solid worker. This whole segment was fun. The match itself never got underway, and the girls battled outside the ring and at the bottom of the ramp with a few nasty looking guard rail bumps. Not the sort of stuff you usually see from the girls, especially Nikki Bella, so it was a refreshing change. A group of referees interjected and pulled the girls apart, but Natalya went away with the upper hand, locking on a sharpshooter at ringside.
The women of Raw have set so many milestones. Using the latter half of 2016, they proved that anything the men can do, the women can too. Smackdown is getting off to a great start in building on the groundwork laid by Sasha and Charlotte. The announcement of a steel cage match next week between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss simply reinforces that statement. The girls are here!
Talking Smack, which has been fantastic since day one, this week featured Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss. The 2 girls, whilst avoiding the all-out violence we saw from Nikki and Nattie, had a great back and forth. Alexa’s mic work is so much fun, coming off both cute and evil, while Becky is the tough babyface ready to kick some “lass”. This served well to get us fired up for what should be a great cage match next week.
The Dysfunctional Family, Wyatt
Part of me is pained to see American Alpha’s first main roster title reign being used as nothing more than a spearhead for a separate feud. I believe it was supposed to be The Hype Bros in their place, but Zack Ryder’s unfortunate injury meant Alpha got the rub. While I would love to have seen Jordan and Gable’s title victory met with much more fanfare, I can’t help but enjoy this Wyatt Family feud. I have no idea where this is going. Initially one would have thought this would have built towards a babyface Randy Orton squaring off with a heel Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania. Now it looks like it may be Luke Harper who is going to make the turn and come out face, turning his back on Bray and Randy in the process. Maybe we get Harper vs Orton with Wyatt as special guest referee? Forcing Bray to chose between his 2 brothers. Whatever happens, with the trio’s in ring ability and Bray’s charisma, the story is looking like it will be great.
This week the family got their rematch against American Alpha for the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships. An even match was finally contested when Orton was distracted by Luke Harper, who had just been knocked off the ring by Orton, giving Chad Gable an opportunity to win via rollup. Chad Gable shone in this match, at one point seemingly deadlifting Orton into a beautiful German suplex that Kurt Angle would be proud of. After the match Orton and Harper got in each other’s faces, as Bray tried to separate them. Harper threw the first blow in the way of a superkick, which Orton dodged, catching Bray square in the face. Bray sold the kick to perfection. All three members then left the ring separately, Wyatt storming up the ramp, furious that his family seems to be falling apart. The family are ready to explode. Maybe this is The Viper’s plan all along?
So, as I said before, while part of me is upset that a team like American Alpha is being used to progress a storyline that doesn’t really involve them, I am a huge fan of the Bray Wyatt character and I have wanted to see this push for ages. It breathes new life into Orton, too, who is great in the darker storylines.
Last week I promised myself I wouldn’t just go on about how great 205 live is. It’s become my favourite hour of wrestling each week and I like every single person on the roster. I’d say Tony Nese is my favourite, so far, and his match with Rich Swann was ace. The newly announced match at Royal Rumble between Neville and Swann has got me excited for the end of the month. Jack Gallagher is just pure entertainment. 205 Live is great, but I won’t go on about it!
The big storyline at the moment is the strange love triangle between Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar and Alicia Fox caught in the middle. Dar comes across more as a stalker than a suitor, but his daft charisma makes it work. I am certain this whole storyline came about because somebody in creative heard Noam Dar say Alicia Fox’s name. Dar and Alexander had a match. An OK match that was met with controversy as Alicia, who had first helped Cedric, ended up costing him the victory. This led to Cedric breaking up with Alicia, Alicia had a massive tantrum and screamed lots. I like crazy Alicia, she pulls it off well. She is my favourite one on Total Divas… not that I watch that garbage. Alexander was my favourite competitor on the Cruiserweight Classic, and I saw Dar wrestle a few times on the UK indie circuit before he made the jump to the WWE, so I like this story. It’s stupid!
I also want Noam Dar saying “Alicia Fox” as my message tone.
Tag Teams Rock
I actually watched NXT this week, so I guess I should talk about that?
I could talk at length about Billie Kay and Peyton Royce’s entrance. But I am getting married in 2 month’s time, and my fiancé will probably read this. So, instead I’ll talk about DIY and The Revival, and so I should. It was the best match of the week for WWE programming.
What hasn’t already been said about these 2 fantastic tag teams. The WWE themselves recorded their epic 2 out of 3 falls match from TakeOver: Toronto as their official Match Of The Year, and few would argue. So who wouldn’t want to see them all go at it again, this time on NXT’s weekly show. Again, it was wonderful. Again, I gasped and clapped and laughed with joy. Again, Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano picked up the win.
Sometimes, seeing the same match over and over again gets stale. However, we never tired of Steve Austin vs The Rock, and I can’t see myself getting tired of DIY vs The Revival, because, just like with any lasting relationship, they always find a way to spice things up. This time Johnny Wrestling and Psycho-Killer delivered their running tag team finisher to both Dash and Dawson as they propped each other up in the middle of the ring, allowing both members to be pinned 1, 2, 3 by their counterparts. Great match. I expected nothing less.
A fairly average week for the WWE with a few special moments and a couple of nice matches, progressing some decent looking storylines. I must admit, since starting this column, I am enjoying focusing on the good, rather than the bad, like all us wrestling fans seem to do.
Finally, let’s talk about the Royal Rumble. We’ve had a few howlers over the last few years. This time last year we knew that Roman Reigns or Triple H was winning it. A week or so after that, we knew Triple H was winning it. How much has changed in a year? I have no idea who is winning it. There are 6 very strong contenders, and big names keep adding themselves to the mix. Very intriguing. I excited for the next few weeks as the Rumble steers closer. I’m sure there will be plenty of good bits to talk about.
See you next week.