Just realized the blog post was not published. Better late than never. A few quick notes on last week’s shows.
- Raw was fantastic. I groaned at first when Reigns won the second fatal four way despite the hypocrisy of my booking him as the contender to Ambrose’s title but was glad to see Bàlor prevail.
- I like the look of Smackdown from a production stand point. The camera POV is interesting although it made it harder to follow the clusterfuck that is a battle royale. The wrestlers are going to have to be more careful calling their spots with the increased zoom on the action.
- The disparity between the two shows’ talent was made very apparent. Smackdown’s midcard is going to need some serious help.
- Shelton Benjamin’s return (and lesser extent Rhyno) will certainly help with that. Many people seem to be disappointed there weren’t any returns during the draft. It’s apparent creative wanted to keep the emphasis on the current roster and bring in the vets or “free agents” gradually over the next few weeks.
- They will need to address the tag and women’s divisions on Smackdown eventually, but for now I’m fine with there being only a single champion for those divisions.
- JBL is terrible and was dragging commentary down on Raw and now on Smackdown.
On with the blog!
Raw (US Title)
Last week, I proposed an angle where Rusev is dodging Cesaro as the Swiss Superman is not American. I’d still like to visit that story again because Cesaro is a fantastic worker and this is a feud which doesn’t necessarily need a lot of talking to sell. With the brand split, Rusev has a lot of potential to become a main event monster after a decent title reign.
Raw will begin with Rusev and Lana coming to address the crowd, He will rundown the challengers’ he’s beaten the past couple of months and make fun of America. Cesaro will be the first to interrupt, saying he never got a fair on one match for the title. Rusev will refuse because he’s not American. This will bring out Bo Dallas who will say no one Bo-Lieves more in America than he does. Curtis Axel will come out, hopefully a Mr Irrelevant chant will start which he will fuel by demanding the fans stop, and the two bicker. Finally, Darren Young and Backlund come out and demand the pair name the Presidents in order. After they fail, Darren Young successfully recites them. This leads to a brawl initiated by Curtis Axel. Foley will come out and book a triple-threat to determine the next contender for the title. Obviously, Darren Young wins with the cross-face chicken wing after pouncing on Axel following a perfect-plex on Dallas.
A kitsch segment, but appeals to the patriotic sensibilities of the American audience. Besides, I’d love to see the interactions between Lana, Rusev and crazy Backlund. Young failed to win the IC title at Battleground but he did not get pinned. This makes him a decent filler title competitor while stoking the fires for the eventual Cesaro and Rusev feud.
Smackdown (Styles vs Cena)
Styles will begin the show in the ring with a mic. He blames Cena for getting in his way to become #1 contender. He will claim he had Cena dead to rights but Ziggler blindsided him. Cena, not one to back away from a challenge, will come out. AJ will thank Cena for saving him the trouble of having to find him for the weekly #beatupJohnCena. Cena will remind AJ he doesn’t have the Club to back him up as he enters the ring. AJ will throw a fit and attack Cena with a cheap shot with the mic. Styles will hit the Styles Clash on a steel chair and the show will cut to break while medics check on Cena.
Raw (Universal Title)
Unlike Ziggler who gives off a “has been” vibe except without the nostalgia factor of being one of the greats, Bàlor comes in with the new car smell. His presentation as the curtain-jerker ready to make a name for himself can easily be played up with a match against a veteran. A cut away to “earlier today” will depict a confrontation between him and Sheamus. Balor will introduce himself formally to Sheamus, as a fellow Irish wrestler. Before the brand split, Sheamus positioned himself as the guy who hated the “new era”. Sheamus will slap away Bàlor’s offer to shake hands and say Finn had a lucky night but he’s just going to be a flash in the pan, 1 hit wonder. This will set up a match for the top of the 1st hour.
Smackdown (World Title)
After the commercial break, Ziggler will confront AJ backstage which will lead to a war of words and the setup for the main event. Ziggler will be goaded into putting his title shot on the line.
Let’s be honest here. Ziggler didn’t have any momentum before his win last week. Ziggler needs to be rehabilitated to be considered a legitimate threat for the title. This is going to appear like a legitimate shot for Styles to come out on top and delaying the rubber match with Cena at Backlash.
Despite the split of the Wyatt family, I pair them together because their angle would be they are difficult for authority figures to control. While still on the heel side of the fence, they can be worked into an eventual Bray Wyatt solo face run. On Raw, Strowman will be booked for a few weeks in squash matches during the first hour. Each time, he shows off a wider range of power moves and little to no-selling the jobbers’ offense.
On Smackdown, Bray and Rowan would be watching replays of Raw with Bray laughing maniacally at how his black sheep was actually a direwolf in disguise. This will be the beginning of a Wyatt family reunion subplot for the Rumble.
Unfortunately, the face Smackdown roster is thin and mostly engaged in feuds (Cena, Ambrose, Ziggler I guess, Orton) leaving Ryder, Kalisto or Benjamin as the only two options for Wyatt to legitimately feud with. Benjamin was only listed as “coming soon” so he’s unlikely to show up this week. From a storyline perspective, the one who makes the most sense here is Ryder. He’s struggled throughout his WWE career with a few bright spots here and there. His association with Mojo Rawley also easily allows for tag matches against Wyatt and Rowan without much fuss.
This will begin with a match between Ryder and Rowan. The Wyatt family member will come up with the win here when the ref fails to notice Ryder had his foot on the ropes. Wyatt will come out admitting there is no justice in the world, except the justice we make for ourselves.
Raw (Universal Title part 2)
Rollins will be in the GM/commissioner office with Stephanie and Foley where Cesaro is expressing his frustration with not being included in the match for the US title shot at Summerslam. Following up on his speech to Byron Saxton after the loss to Bàlor, Reigns is going to interrupt and confront Rollins directly.
With his push stalled but still positioned in the upper midcard, Reigns is a solid worker with the right opponent. He’s been booked to look very strong, regularly kicking out of finishers so either you keep him up or near the top or you play up the fact he got to where he is because of PEDs. The latter is very risky but if done right can either create a monster heel or a proper baby face instead of the face role but heel heat he currently gets. Because I don’t have to deal with the consequences of screwing up, I have the benefit of pursuing the hard part :).By interrupting Cesaro, this gives off the air he doesn’t respect the Swiss superstar which could make for a good program between the two until Summerslam.
Reigns should be mad about Rollins continuously insulting and committing libel during the build up to Battleground.Further, he never got the 1 on 1 re-match after losing the title. He’d also reason he’s the next contender after Summerslam regardless of who wins due to his loss to Balor. Note, I’m positioning Rollins as a heel for now because the main angle will be with Bàlor with Reigns acting as a tweener. The two can put on good matches together, so a “main event” re-match between the two would be great. However, Rollins won’t have none of that, saying Reigns’ suspension should have kept him out of Battleground entirely. Here, Foley will say they are both right but seeing how Bàlor will be in action with Sheamus, Rollins needs to fight as well. Foley also disagreed with Rollins not having to qualify for the title. Rollins, cockily, will say don’t worry about it. He doesn’t need the practice to beat “the rookie”. Foley will disagree and book him to fight Cesaro.
Reigns will be left stewing with Foley giving him “the night off” after he pulled double duty last week. Instead, he’ll have a dark match to keep the kiddies happy. The story here is to push Reigns further way from the title picture until his character “snaps” and either embraces becoming a heel or is humbled and redeems himself.
Smackdown (Women’s division)
Smackdown’s female roster is more shallow than Raw in quantity and perceived quality. Their segment last week felt forced and without aim other than introduce the women. The match between Natalya and Lynch was good though. Outside of the match, the best performance on the stick came from Alexa Bliss while Eva Marie had the most heat. Supposedly Eva Marie is not good but her ability to generate such a strong reaction can serve. Without a title, I think the best strategy is to have Natalya and Lynch as the top women of the heel/face sides. A six-woman tag match works best here to showcase what the women can do before splitting them off into individual feuds. Lynch will captain the face team but due to double teaming will be the babyface in peril until she gets the hot tag to … *flips a coin* Carmella. Alexa Bliss will pick up the win however on a rollup with a handful of tights on Alicia Fox.
Raw (Universal Title part 3)
Balor vs Sheamus should go a solid 8 to 10 minutes or so to showcase Bàlor while allowing Sheamus to get decent offense in before losing cleanly. The finale will come when Sheamus misses with a Brogue Kick and gets hooked up on the ropes. Finn will kick him through the ropes, setting up the Coup de Grâce for the win. I’m holding off a bit on building the confrontation right now as Balor needs to make himself more well-known to the casual audience who don’t follow NXT.
Smackdown (IC Title)
The Miz has been a fantastic heel since winning the belt, I think he deserves to rise higher on the card so it might be time for him to drop the belt. Miz is a solid enough ring performer he can carry his own side of the match. Clearly, Apollo Crews’ was given a big boost with the battle royal win. He also had sequence in the ring against Corbin during last week’s main event.So I’m advocating a #1 contender’s match between Corbin and Crews here.
The ending of the match will have Corbin miss Crews on a punch outside the ring and hitting the ring post “fracturing his hand”. Crews will thus earn a shot at Summerslam and Corbin can go on with a temporary cast gimmick, knocking out people left and right until a feud between him and Crews over the title can be set up once Corbin has “healed up”.
Raw (Sasha vs Charlotte)
Sasha will be asked by Renee Young backstage on her thoughts on Charlotte calling in her re-match stipulation for Summerslam. She will of course accept the challenge, saying she doesn’t need to hide behind others to fight her battles.
With Charlotte reportedly asking for time off, the build here is Charlotte returns to training for her re-match. There will be a package of her working out with Dana Brooke pushing her to the extreme lengths to get ready. This will help sell Brooke as a serious gym rat and power house while building up the re-match as potentially better than their great title bout on Raw.
Smackdown (World Title part 2)
Ambrose will confront Ziggler in his locker room. He’ll compliment Ziggler for standing up for himself against a guy with the credentials of AJ Styles and being willing to put his money where his mouth is. He informs Ziggler he’ll be at ringside to watch. Ambrose giving respect to Ziggler helps elevate the challenger. Further, Ambrose is entertaining at commentary. He’s no Kevin Owens, but he’s fun to listen to and his banter with JBL makes the Texan more tolerable.
Brock vs Orton
On the RAW side, it was announced Lesnar will be on the show. I’ll repeat the part of the build from my previous post for his end of the build for the match.
On Smackdown, I like the story of Orton’s shoulder being a liability and how the RKO can be an equalizer. JBL talked up Lesnar’s Kimura Lock last week. Daniel Bryan and Orton will be in the trainer’s room discussing the Viper’s shoulder. Orton will be “honest” and say it’s still a bit tight after his bout with the Miz but he is certain it will be ready for Summerslam. Daniel will express concern for Orton facing Brock but will mention it just so happens the Smackdown roster has a heel with a submission targeting the arm: Alberto Del Rio. He will set up next week’s main event between the two grapplers.
Unfortunately, my original vision for this feud would’ve seen the return of Kurt Angle acting as Orton’s trainer as a big surprise, leading to Angle throwing in the towel at Summerslam on Orton’s behalf once trapped in the Kimura lock. Angle would have reasoned he did what he felt was best for Orton. It was one fight, and Orton still has many more matches left in him so long as he remains healthy. This would’ve lead to a feud between the pair down the road.
Raw (Women’s division)
Regardless of the result of Charlotte vs Sasha re-match, WWE is going to have to build up a secondary feud in preparation for the blow off. On the heel side of the roster, Nia Jax should follow up with another squash match if only to showcase her size and power. Once she and Dana Brooke are more comfortable in the ring, I think there is some value in pitting the two against one another down the road as “the unstoppable force vs the immovable object”.
On the face side, I’d build up Paige. However, unlike Nia, she will face a “one time” attraction from the NXT roster getting a try out for Raw who isn’t ready to make the jump yet. Paige will prevail and demonstrate there is a gap between NXT and the main roster. This plants a seed down the road for a return match later when that women is finally ready to get promoted.
Raw (Tag Team division)
While the New Day appears to be on a collision with the Club. However, I think a little detour is in order. The segment begins with the New Day hawking their Booty Os and ignoring the attacks from last week. Enzo and Cass will come out and an exchange between the two teams takes place for a title shot. These are the two hottest tag teams so seeing them face off will be a huge draw for fans. Enzo and Cass beat the club at Battleground so they have a solid argument for their position as challengers. Just as the New Day accepts they are interrupted…
The Shining Stars demand a re-match because of the Golden Truth’s interference distracting them last week on Raw. New Day joins Enzo and Cass in verbally taking down the Puerto Ricans in dueling insults. Eventually, Primo and Epico can’t take anymore of this and rush the ring for a fight. The New Day just stand back and watch as Cole exclaims “It’s the Shining Stars vs Enzo and Cass, after the break!” The Certified Gs will score an easy win without any shenanigans or outside interference. After the match, the Club will come out and leave Enzo and Cass laying. This prompts the New Day to come in to get some revenge after the beat down last week. The Shining Stars then come in and turn the tides in favour of the heels before being turned on by Gallows and Anderson.
Smackdown (Mexican Pride)
In preparation for next week’s main event, Alberto Del Rio will be facing Kalisto. However, Kalisto will be attacked backstage by Rhyno. Kalisto, still feeling the effects of a Gore, will be unable to mount much of a defense and end up tapping out to the aristocrat in a very short match.
Rhyno can coast on nostalgia for 1-2 losses but if he is to legitimately put over talent, he is going to need to win or brutalize people. I liked the matches Kalisto had with Rusev and I think they can replicate some of the magic here. Sadly, Kalisto should have been drafted to Raw but I understand wanting to add variety to Smackdown. Long term, being the best high flyer (outside of Styles anyways) will give him more room to breathe and establish himself. This is a very easy program to lead to Backlash. Rhyno could be a backstage wrecking ball. A hired muscle to take out people. Say … on behalf of a certain wealthy aristocratic Mexican? ADR’s motivation is he’s still mad about losing the US title to Kalisto earlier this year. So once Kalisto overcomes Rhyno, he can learn ADR was behind the attacks, leading to a feud between the two post-backlash.
Raw (Sign Heath Slater)
Like on Smackdown, Heath will show up on Raw, interrupting a match between Titus O-Neil and recently signed Jinder Mahal, with chair shots. Obviously cross about the betrayal of his former stablemate getting signed ahead of him. Foley will come out and address Heath long enough for Titus and Jinder to regain their senses and double team him.
Smackdown (American Alpha)
Unfortunately, there aren’t any solid established teams on the roster apart from the Usos. Now, I won’t advocate a squash match of the main guys on the roster, but American Alpha should have a short bout to promote their signature moves. The Ascension is going nowhere fast and the horrible performance during the battle royale shows they aren’t trying. They’ll be the first victims. The story here, will have Alpha gradually go through every single team on the current roster to get to the top of the mountain. With the weakness of the teams on Smackdown, I’m of the mind they should not introduce a title until there are more teams in the division or some of the lower card guys make an impact. For now, the focus should be on building Alpha as the premiere tag team for inclusion in the inevitable Raw vs Smackdown Survivor Series elimination match. And perhaps a challenge between Alpha and the Raw champs at the Rumble.
Raw (Cruiserweight Division part 1)
Still awaiting the results of the CWC, I’d build up Sin Cara and Neville as the main roster talent to face the winner. Sin Cara starts out with a match against one of the guys who WWE decided not to retain, billed as tryouts. This gives the guys more exposure to a wide audience and an extra payday. The match would time in the 3-5 minute range to put over the WWE star.
Smackdown (Main event)
Ambrose will be the first one out to not overshadow the competitors as he makes his way to the commentators’ booth. AJ Styles will come out next, trash talking Ambrose from the ring before Ziggler comes out after a commercial break. The match will have AJ dictate the pace. The offense should be split 70-30 in favour of Styles until he begins to cheat.
This of course leads to Cena coming out, sporting bandages on his face, and costing AJ the match. Ziggler manages to score the win. After the match, Cena jumps in and begins wailing on Styles. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Ambrose leaves commentary and takes out first Ziggler, then Cena, allowing Styles to retreat out of the ring, furious at all three babyfaces. They could then have a dark match of Cena & Ambrose vs Ziggler and Styles for the fans in attendance.
Last week, the pair did not get the opportunity to address the situation following their great match at Battleground, I’d book their reactions back to back during Raw. Owens in an interview segment with Renee Young will talk about how he had a moment of weakness and it cost him. That won’t happen again. KO is my favourite heel right now and giving him a bit of a killer edge will seemingly make for a transition to the top of the card despite the loss as he will go on to crush main midcard roster opponents in more brutal fashion.
For Zayn, he’ll be on the Highlight Reel. Jericho will applaud him for how he viciously delivered a 2nd helluva kick. He showed he had no remorse, no conscience, etc. Zayn will interrupt and explain it was difficult but he feels at peace with what he had to do to win. The 2nd helluva kick was the closure he needed. Normally, I’d like to position him for a run at the US title but the logic against Cesaro also applies to Zayn who is Canadian. Instead, I want for a Jericho and Zayn program here with Jericho continuously complimenting Zayn in a facetiously until finally Zayn has heard enough and storms off.
Raw (Cruiserweight Division part 2)
Neville’s turn to show off his repertoire against a CWC first round elimination.
Raw (Universal Title part 4)
Rollins vs Cesaro will headline the main event WWE seems keen on putting the main title feuds (at least under Reigns) at the 2 hour mark. However, I am still of the mind the main event should have the top guys.
Rollins and Cesaro should have a good back and forth. Rollins has to score the win here, but it can be with some controversy as a heel and also build up matches in the lead up to Summerslam. Reigns, unhappy to have been given the “night off”, will come out to distract Rollins. Cesaro will gain the advantage but not score the pin. Reigns, frustrated his attempt at revenge failed, will try to spear Rollins but the Architect sidesteps and Cesaro falls victim instead. Rollins scores the win and we have a perfect setup for Balor, Reigns, Rollins and Cesaro in various match ups.