Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The Sami Zayn Is The Nicest Passive-Aggressive Heel of All-Time Edition (10-17-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. The crowd should be hot for their hometown hero and future WWE Hall of Famer Daniel Bryan. After he was in a less than pleasant mood last week, perhaps the Emerald City wound lift his spirits. Or was he thwarted by a certain dastardly duo? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        SD Live kicked off with Daniel Bryan receiving a warm hometown welcome only for Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to rain on his parade. Zayn accused Bryan of being a martyr who sacrificed his body and soul for the people. If he worked smarter instead of working himself to the bone, the American Dragon would still be wrestling today. Zayn called out the fans for not holding up their end of the bargain when it came to cheering for him which would’ve convinced upper management to give him a chance. Due to their abject failure, Zayn no longer cared about them and decided to do things his way in order to get ahead.

·        He admonished Bryan for being a glorified housewife who had to watch the action from the sidelines. Owens came out to rub more salt in the wound by calling Bryan Mr. Bella and accused the Yes Man of becoming the very thing he fought against his entire career: The Authority. Zayn thanked Owens for showing him the light even though it was staring him in the face the whole time. Zayn called Bryan a sellout as the fans showered the heels with boos.

·        Bryan left the ring and booked Owens and Zayn in a tag team match against two mystery opponents who would love to punch them in the face as the opening segment came to end.

·        This was a good way to start the show. Bryan received a hero’s welcome while Zayn is doing great work as a passive-aggressive heel who cuts people deep with his words in the nicest way possible. Owens throwing gasoline on the fire was a nice touch which sets up the tag team main event for later tonight. Bryan could’ve read them the Riot Act, but he maintained his composure. For now…

·        Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi defeated Natalya, Lana, and Tamina when Charlotte made Lana tap out to the Figure Eight in a solid match. The action picked up after the commercial as the bout broke down into a parade of finishes. The babyfaces didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Natalya pulled Charlotte out of the ring and slammed her against the announce table. She grabbed a steel chair, but Charlotte blocked the shot by kicking Nattie in the face before chasing her away.

·        This was a nice showcase for the women as Charlotte continues to her quest towards becoming a five-time champion. Expect her feud with Natalya to culminate at Survivor Series next month.

·        Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will face Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura later tonight. If they are given enough time, it should be a hell of a match.

·        After a one week delay, Pulp Fashion finally debuted on SD Live. It was a little too campy for my taste, but I love The Ascension trying to become best friends with Breezango. The nod to the infamous Uma Thurman overdose scene was great as Tyler Breeze passed out after biting into a hamburger that was gluten-free.

·        From the big ass needle to the marker dot spot on Breeze’s chest, the parody was pure perfection. In the midst of the drama, someone stole the briefcase that featured some important Intel on 2B. The Bludgeon Brothers were hinted at, but did they really ambush Breezango a few months ago? We shall find out soon enough. I think…

·        Sin Cara defeated Baron Corbin via count-out after Corbin failed to make it back into the ring before the count of 10. That is not a typo. Sin Cara had a nice showing in the ring and ran circles around the Lone Wolf which was shocking to see. After Corbin emphatically defeated AJ Styles last week, one would think he would’ve smashed Sin Cara in two minutes or less. Oh well.

·        The Usos got shown up by Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin which adds some much-needed intrigue to their SmackDown Tag Team Championship match which will take place in the near future. Gable trying to step up his rap game was awesome. Why couldn’t he be Kurt Angle’s long lost son instead of Jason Jordan? They would’ve gotten along like peas and carrots. Yes, that was a shout out to Forrest Gump. *Wink, Wink*

·        Jinder Mahal had brass balls to challenge Brock Lesnar to a match at Survivor Series next month. Mahal claimed that there were no worthy challengers that could dethrone him as WWE Champion. Therefore, he wanted to take on The Beast and make the fans kiss his feet once he defeated the Universal Champion.

·        AJ Styles came out and reminded Mahal that he never beat him. Mahal noted that Styles was a loser and was undeserving of a title shot. The modern-day Maharaja tried to re-assert himself as the man on SD Live when Styles blindsided him with a rapid-fire attack which culminated with a Pele Kick.

·        After the commercial break, Mahal confronted Daniel Bryan backstage and booked Sunil Singh in a match against Styles next week. The fans laughed at Mahal for being a punk as Bryan granted his request.

·        Styles being moved into the WWE Championship picture is nice to see. Styles probably won’t get a title shot at Survivor Series, but one can presume that he will face Mahal at Clash of Champions in December since it’s the last SD Live PPV of the year.

·        Paul Heyman should have a response to Mahal’s challenge over the next couple of weeks. I am not crazy about the matchup because it’s going to be a Brock Lesnar 5-Minute Showcase featuring 10 German Suplexes followed by one F5 for the win. On the plus side, Lesnar destroying the Singh Brothers single- handily would help ease the pain a bit.

·        Dolph Ziggler defeated Bobby Roode with a roll-up by grabbing a fistful of tights for leverage. The match was fine, but it was nothing special. With both men scoring wins via shady tactics, a rubber match should settle the score once and for all. In the land of 50/50 booking, this was always the endgame.

·        Xavier Woods playing Rusev’s theme music on the trombone was awesome. It appears that The New Day will be feuding with Aiden English and Rusev for the foreseeable future. I can dig that.

·        Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura when Zayn nailed Orton with the Helluva Kick for the win. The main event was very good as it featured strong action throughout. The highlight of the match was Orton inadvertently putting Zayn through the announce table when he dropped him with a Belly-to-Back Suplex. Orton has an interesting history when it comes to announce tables not breaking for him when they’re supposed to. I guess the universe returned the favor in the most impromptu way possible.

·        Orton was on the cusp of winning the match for his team when Owens distracted the referee long enough for Zayn to deliver a low blow to Orton which led to the finish moments later.

·        Owens and Zayn taunted Daniel Bryan backstage and wondered what Bryan had in store for them next week. Bryan said that it wasn’t up to him, but he’s sure Shane McMahon had something in mind as he walked away to let duo reflect on his announcement.

·        Instead of selling fear, Owens and Zayn came to celebrate as SD Live went off the air with the best friends embracing on the main stage with Owens telling Zayn to hug him tighter in the most hilarious way possible. 

·        This was a great way to end the show. Shane McMahon coming back to confront Owens and Zayn next week should be very interesting. Will the recently reunited best friends continue to be smart alecks or will McMahon put them in their place? We shall find out next week. In any event, I am enjoying this heel run by Zayn so far. He’s the nicest asshole of all-time.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was very good. This was the best all-around show since the blue brand showed up and showed out in Cleveland a couple of months ago. The in-ring action was solid, but the promos and backstage segments elevated the show in terms of smart comedy that clicked on all levels. It was a well-balanced broadcast that effectively highlighted what the creative team is capable of when they are firing on all cylinders. There is still room for improvement when it comes to consistency, but this was an easy breezy show watch from start to finish. That’s all I can ask for as a wrestling fan.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of the SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Raw Exposé: How Kane Won The Fifth Man of the Year Award During a Mayoral Campaign (10-16-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. The wrestling hotbed of the Pacific Northwest served as the backdrop for the go-home show for TLC which takes places on Sunday. For an appetizer, the never-ending rivalry between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman continued inside a steel cage. Despite both men being locked inside the ominous structure, it’s safe to assume that outside forces came into play down the stretch. Or did they? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Raw kicked off with Kurt Angle welcoming everyone to the show before The Shield quickly interrupted him. Angle gave the trio a chance to speak which elicited a heelish response from Roman Reigns. Reigns stated that he was going to kick his boss’ ass if he didn’t leave the ring accordingly. Seth Rollins tried to lighten the mood, but the mixed reaction to Reigns was telling.

·        Things got better once Ambrose grabbed the mic and challenged Braun Strowman, The Bar, and The Miz to a fight. The heels came out and were ready to throw down, but Angle warned them not to get physical or the double main event of The Bar vs. Rollins & Ambrose for the Raw Tag Team Championship and Strowman vs. Reigns inside a steel cage would be in jeopardy. Both teams managed to keep the peace as the opening segment came to an end.

·        Reigns getting a so-so reaction on the mic was a little surprising. I guess the fans are hip to WWE’s latest round of creative manipulation when it comes to getting him over as a legit babyface. It’s quite the conundrum, to say the least. Here’s hoping the popularity of Ambrose and Rollins rubs off on Reigns because he’s on the verge of becoming the dreaded third wheel during The Shield Reunion Tour.

·        Jason Jordan, Apollo Crews, and Titus O’Neil defeated Elias, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows when Crews pinned Anderson with the Spin-Out Powerbomb in a solid match. They were short on time, but the six-man tag was entertaining while it lasted.

·        Cedric Alexander defeated Jack Gallagher with the Lumbar Check in a solid match. The match had decent crowd heat thanks to WWE showing a video package of Alexander and Gallagher feuding on 205 Live over the past few weeks. It gave fans a reason to care about the match on an emotional level which is refreshing to see for a change. Plus, this was a good way to promote the TLC match featuring Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann vs. The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher. All in all, this was a nice showcase for the purple division who needs some TLC (Tender, Love, and Care) due to the unconfirmed departure of Neville last week.

·        The Miz tried to use Dean Ambrose’s words against him by adding Curtis Axel to the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to make it a five-on-three affair. Kurt Angle came out and shot Miz’s idea down. Miz only wanted to go by what Ambrose said about The Shield fighting four or more men at the same time.

·        To maintain some semblance of fairness, Angle added a special stipulation to the Steel Cage match between Strowman and Reigns. If Strowman wins, a fifth man will be added to Miz’s team. If Reigns wins, Strowman is removed from the match and the original six-man tag is back on. Strowman agreed to the stip, but there was one more caveat that sent Miz reeling. Angle announced that everyone would be banned from ringside to keep things fair and square. A steel cage match without outside interference? Have we entered The Twilight Zone?

·        In all seriousness, this was a cool way to raise the stakes for the main event later tonight. In an unexpected moment, the fans absolutely loved Curtis Axel. Portland is a wrestling hotbed that has produced Hall of Fame talent over the years. Mr. Perfect had quite the career during his run with Pacific Northwest Wrestling which explains why the crowd went crazy for Axel. It was a cool moment and Miz did a great job playing up the surprise pop. The Henning Bloodline remains strong.

·        Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox with the Bank Statement in a quick match. After the match was over, Fox snapped in the ring and attacked Banks backstage after the commercial break. Considering the fact that both ladies had a lukewarm feud over the summer, I am not looking forward to the redux.

·        Enzo Amore hired his own goon crew as Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak, Noam Dar, and Tony Nese attacked Kalisto from behind. Mustafa Ali made the save, but he got quintuple teamed as well. Enzo let his flunkies do his dirty work before nailing Kalisto with Eat Defeat. He ended the segment by asking both men how they were doing in the most sarcastic way possible.

·        The fans are starting to boo Enzo more and more which is good to see. The “We Want Neville” chant wasn’t lost on me either. If WWE is smart, they will make a peace offering to Neville because he can get over as the conquering babyface who saves 205 Live from annoying pest known as Enzo Amore. Only time will tell…

·        Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose defeated Cesaro and Sheamus when Ambrose nailed Cesaro with Dirty Deeds for the win. The match was good while it lasted, but it got sloppy down the stretch which hampered the finishing sequence. Minor quibble aside, this was another strong outing from both teams that featured hard-hitting and fast-paced action throughout.

·        Bálor plans to unleash his inner Demon at TLC which will hopefully end his feud with Bray Wyatt once and for all. One would think that it should’ve happened at SummerSlam or No Mercy, but I digress…

·        Mickie James and Bayley defeated Emma and Alexa Bliss when James nailed Bliss with the Mick Kick for the win. The tag match was solid as Bayley received a warm reception for a change. However, WWE booking suggests that Bliss will retain the Raw Women’s Championship at TLC because she ate the pin six days before a PPV. It’s a tradition that continues to stand the test of time.

·        It’s safe to say that The Shield kicked Curtis Axel’s ass from pillar to post because he was hanging upside down backstage with his midsection bruised and battered. Poor thing…

·        The Miz dropped quite the truth bomb when he told Renee Young that Axel was never going to be the fifth man if Braun Strowman defeated Roman Reigns inside the steel cage. Let the speculation begin!

·        In a moment straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, KANE shocked the world when he appeared from underneath the ring during the Steel Cage Match between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. Reigns was shocked as he stared down the Big Red Machine. Kane proceeded to chokeslam him twice before Strowman laid Reigns out with a Running Powerslam. To add insult to injury, Kane dropped The Big Dog with another chokeslam followed by the Tombstone Piledriver which popped the crowd something fierce. Strowman defeated Reigns by laying him out with a second Running Powerslam as the announcers freaked out over Kane’s shocking return.

·        Miz announced that Kane was the fifth man added to his team at TLC as Raw went off the air with the heels standing tall in the ring.

·        Before the jaw-dropping finish, Strowman and Reigns had another good match. There was an impromptu intermission when Sheamus, Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins ran interference at ringside before taking their fight backstage. Miz was watching the action unfold on guest commentary and disappeared for a moment to close the parking garage door as both teams continued to throw hail makers at each other.

·        Strowman delivered a crazy Superplex to Reigns from the top of the cage in a great spot. Reigns went for the Spear, but Strowman caught him only for Reigns to counter with a Superman Punch for a near fall. Reigns went for his finisher again only for Kane’s music to hit which led to the aforementioned finish.

·        I guess Kane hasn’t forgotten about being on the losing end of those six-man tag team matches against The Shield in 2013. Storyline Continuity For The Win!

·        The Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match is now a 5-on-3 affair which raises the stakes in terms of batshit craziness. There will be carnage, chaos, and chicanery throughout. Here’s hoping no one seriously gets hurt. Fingers crossed!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was solid. The in-ring action was stronger than usual which made the show easier to watch. The promos hyping TLC were hit or miss, but it thought WWE did a nice job making the final brand exclusive PPV before Survivor Series a must-see event.

·        Each match on the card got television time and the announcers previewed the show from top to bottom which was refreshing to see for a change. The lack of title defenses is a little jarring, but WWE has given each nontitle bout a sense of purpose with varying degrees of success. TLC should be a good show if it’s laid out properly in terms of timing and match placement. 

·        Most importantly, the creative team didn’t add a tables, ladders, chairs, or STAIRS match to water down the main event. The fact that they showed this much restraint is pretty damn remarkable. Kudos to them for a job well done.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Top 5 Takeaways from WWE Hell in a Cell

Top 5 Takeaways from WWE Hell in a Cell
By Anton Ware

Hello Geektified family! It's time for another monthly review as we cover the latest Smackdown brand offering, Hell in a Cell. The Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI played home to the event and it is the 9th edition of the show. RAW headlined the event last year (with Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks as the main event) and now with Smackdown taking its place for 2017, Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens closes out the show. The PPV also features Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship and The New Day vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Titles inside Hell in a Cell. Who rises to the top you ask? Let's get into it!

#5: The Lone Wolf Gets His Prize:

AJ Styles defended his United States Championship against Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger in a triple threat match. The match told the story of Styles and Dillinger trying to overcome the size advantage of Corbin. Since it's also triple threat rules, Styles and Dillinger would also battle each other in an “every man for himself” scenario. In the end, it would be Corbin getting the victory by kicking Styles out of the ring in order to pin an unconscious Dillinger after Styles nailed the Perfect 10 with a Phenomenal Forearm. Baron Corbin wins his first championship in WWE. The Lone Wolf had a disappointing summer as he won the Money in the Bank briefcase only to lose it in embarrassing fashion a few weeks followed by a decisive loss to John Cena at Summerslam. When it seemed like all hope was lost for Corbin, he regained his ruthlessness and is a title holder. What's next for Corbin? Will the title go to his head or will it make him more focused and dangerous? Will he also be able to prove that his win wasn't a fluke and that he’s the real deal? Time will tell, but for now congrats are in order.

#4: The Beginning of The End?

Last night, Rusev and Dolph Ziggler were on the losing end of their respective matches. Rusev was defeated by Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler to Bobby Roode. Both men have been on the losing side of things for quite some time. Gone are the days where Rusev was destroying all the black wrestlers   the entire RAW roster during his US Title reign in 2014 with Lana by his side. Gone are the days where Dolph was main eventing WWE programming against John Cena with AJ Lee and the Money in the Bank briefcase in his possession. Both men now are in a position to help build the next generation of stars (or in Rusev’s case, help current stars stay relevant), but that doesn’t bode well for their own careers.  You can only take so many losses that the WWE hierarchy and crowd no longer view you as a threat and starts to give you less chances to make an impact.  If this continues with both superstars, what would be next for them? Could one or both them wait it out and continue their careers in WWE or will they say enough is enough and exit the door for greener pastures?

#3: The Jinder Mahal Experiment: Failure or Greatness?

In the main title match on the show, Jinder Mahal defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship. He won by his standard tactics: Singh Brothers interference, a distracted referee, and an opportunistic Khallas finisher to keep the title around his waist. This is the second time that he’s beaten Nakamura on PPV which pushes the King of Strong Style out of the title picture. With Mahal retaining the title, many fans are clamoring for him to get bumped from the top of the Smackdown Mountain sooner rather than later. Ever since he won the #1 contendership match for the WWE Title, he has been met with criticism over why he’s been slotted in the main event scene. When he actually won the title, the WWE Universe was shocked that Jinder managed to get as far as he did with the title. Since then, fans have not been welcoming of Mahal’s title reign due to his in-ring work, paint-by-numbers storylines/matches and the overused “evil foreigner who maybe hates America so boo him” character. So that begs the question: Is Jinder Mahal’s title reign lackluster or does it draw the right amount of heel heat? I think some of us in modern day wrestling may forget that heels are supposed to be hated and that the fans should want to see the bad guy lose what he doesn’t deserve. Jinder fits that perfectly. He in no way should be WWE Champion, but the story of his entire reign as champion has been The Singh Brothers always helping him win. He’s nothing without Sunil and Samir and there will be a time when he won’t have his boys to assist him. To me, that's the glue that holds up Jinder Mahal’s title reign and that little detail within his reign makes Jinder’s run as champion one of the more underappreciated acts in all of professional wrestling.

#2: The Tag Title Match Steals The Show...AGAIN!!

After many back and forth battles for the gold, The Usos and The New Day decided to end their rivalry in the war to end all wars, the place where feuds go to die: Hell in a Cell. These two teams have torn the house down every time they’re in the ring together and this outing was no different. Big E and Xavier Woods represented The New Day and were perceived as the underdogs because some fans didn’t believe that the happy-go-lucky team could adapt in such a vicious environment, but the prophets of positivity held their own throughout the contest. They would bring their own weapons including colored trombones, a cowbell, and even trapped Jey Uso in a corner of the cell on the outside with kendo sticks to assault him repeatedly. The Usos wouldn’t hold back either as they got revenge on Xavier Woods by handcuffing him, hanging him on top of the ring post, and beating him repeatedly with kendo sticks. The Usos even managed to perform a doomsday suicide dive on Big E. The New Day would get back on track, but the damage and limited ability to Xavier Woods was too much as Woods fell victim to the double top-rope splash onto a chair from twins for the pin and win. The Usos are now 5-time tag champions. Just a great effort from all four competitors.

#1: Sami Zayn With the Assist

The main headline from this show reads as this: Sami Zayn helps Kevin Owens defeat Shane McMahon during Hell in a Cell. Never thought we’d be saying that. Two weeks before the PPV, Owens nearly ended Zayn’s career (again), only for Shane McMahon to run out to put a stop to Owens’ actions.  For whatever reason, Sami Zayn pulls Owens’ near lifeless body out of the way from being injured by Shane McMahon’s Elbow Drop off the top of the cell. Looking conflicted over his actions, Zayn rolls Owens onto Shane (falls count anywhere stipulation) for the pin and win. Zayn would then go on to explain his actions by saying that even though he and Owens have fought like cats and dogs over the years, he still sees him like a brother and didn’t want his brother getting seriously injured. What will be the fallout from Zayn’s decision? Are he and Owens officially a tag team? Will there be repercussions for Zayn helping Owens win the match? It all remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, Smackdown has definitely been shaken up over these turn of events.

So what did you guys think of the show? Hit or miss? Let me know in the comments section. Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The SmackDown Files: From Hateship to Friendship - The Reconciliation of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn...For Now (10-10-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After much speculation, Sami Zayn turned heel by helping Kevin Owens defeat Shane McMahon during the Falls Count Anywhere Hell in a Cell match.

Zayn saved his former best friend from certain doom by pulling him off the announce table while McMahon was flying in the air to deliver his signature elbow drop. Shane-O-Mac crashed and burned while Owens unknowingly picked the bones thanks to his former arch nemesis. Did Zayn offer a reasonable explanation for his actions or did he give fans the silent treatment instead? The answer to that pressing question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·         SD Live kicked off with The Usos seemingly turning babyface as they offered an olive branch to The New Day. Jimmy and Jey cut a very good promo about how they survived Hell in a Cell and realized that The New Day was the only other team that could feel their pain. Both teams were the class of the tag team division and wanted to call a truce on their epic rivalry.

·         The New Day was about to seal the deal with a handshake when The Hype Bros came out to break up the Mutual Admiration Society. Mojo Rawley was upset that he and Zack Ryder were being looked over while The Usos and New Day hogged the spotlight. Jimmy put Rawley in his place by telling him to sit on the bench like he did for the majority of his NFL career in a great dig that popped the crowd.

·         Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin came out to stake their claim followed by Breezango and The Ascension. The Usos told everyone to get in the back of the line, but The New Day told them to spare Tyler Breeze and Fandango because they were cool. The twins agreed and challenged all four teams to step up to the plate.

·         A less than jovial Daniel Bryan came out and told The Usos and New Day to get out of the ring as the crowd chanted “No!” Bryan added some bass in his voice and reiterated that he meant business which drew even more boos.

·         However, The SD Live GM turned those boos into cheers when he booked The Hype Bros, Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, and The Ascension in a Fatal Four Way match to determine the new number one contender for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship which took place after the commercial break.

·         This was a good way to start the show. The Usos are so awesome on the mic and it’s not surprising that they’re becoming fan favorites. Here’s hoping Jimmy and Jey don’t lose their killer instinct as babyfaces because their bravado makes them stand out for all the right reasons.

·         Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin won the right to the right to face The Usos when they hit Tyler Breeze with The Tech Fall in a solid Fatal Four Way Match. Breezango was the fan favorite, but Gable and Benjamin won them over by showing off their wrestling prowess down the stretch by delivering a series of suplexes and spine busters respectively.

·         In storyline related news, the slow burn disintegration of The Hype Bros continued when Viktor of The Ascension caused Mojo Rawley to bump heads with Zack Ryder which led to a prickly verbal exchange.

·         Plus, this was a sly way for The Ascension to save Tyler Breeze which might lead to the foursome becoming friends someday. *Sniff*

·         Becky Lynch defeated Carmella with the Dis-Arm-Her in a decent match. The announcers emphasized that the W puts her in back in the Women’s Championship picture. I wonder what Charlotte has to say about that? Hmm…

·         Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have reconciled and are best friends once again as Zayn offered an explanation for his actions at Hell in a Cell.

·         Owens kicked off the second hour by explaining that he saw the light and was floating towards the heavens when Shane McMahon climbed to the top of the cell to deliver his patented elbow drop. KO cut through the lines at the Pearly Gates and had a chat with St. Peter about going back down to Earth because his work wasn’t done. A guardian angel in the form of Sami Zayn came to his rescue which allowed us to bask in the glorious place known as Kevin’s Heaven. Owens introduced Zayn to tell his side of the story.

·         Zayn had a very reasonable explanation for what happened. He was tired of carrying the load of being the virtuous one who never did anything wrong. He was tired of being the moral compass that wallowed in a sea of mediocrity.

·         Zayn thought things would change once he moved to SD Live. He claimed that Shane McMahon assured him that he would find success in the Land of Opportunity. He noted that McMahon never spoke to him again until their confrontation last week which saw Shane-O-Mac blow off Zayn’s advice about Owens being dangerous.

·         Therefore, Zayn had to spring into action when Shane threatened to end Owens’ career. He saved his brother and had an epiphany that being a good guy was seriously overrated. Embracing the dark side is Zayn’s new calling and thanked Owens for opening his eyes.

·         Zayn and Owens shared an embrace as they took turns congratulating each other as the segment came to an end.

·         This was a great segment that explained Zayn’s heel turn in a plausible way. Both men were pitch perfect, but I have feeling that their reconciliation is not long for this world. Expect the implosion to take place just in time for WrestleMania season. Just a hunch.

·         Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Aiden English and Rusev when Nakamura nailed English with the Kinshasa for the win. Based on what happened on Sunday, it appears that Nakamura is out of the WWE Championship picture for now. This was a nice bounce-back win for the King of Strong Style, but his feud with Jinder Mahal did him no favors in terms of getting over as a marquee star which is unfathomable on so many levels.

·         Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are now known as The Bludgeon Brothers. They looked creepy and intimidating which is a positive in my book. It looks like the tag team division is on the come up once again. About damn time!

·         Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler exchanged words to set up a rematch for next week’s show. This was so boring. Zzzzz…

·         Baron Corbin retained the United States Championship when he pinned AJ Styles with End of Days in what has to be considered the most important win of Corbin’s career so far. Corbin silenced his critics by beating the Phenomenal One clean as a sheet.

·         The action was hard-hitting throughout as Corbin nailed Styles with some stiff shots early on. Styles gained the advantage when he dropped the Lone Wolf with the Fireman’s Carry Neckbreaker, but Corbin’s weight landed on Styles’ knee which slowed him down towards the end of the match.

·         Styles tried to shake off the injury by kicking Corbin in the face, but Corbin caught him mid-move and flipped Styles onto the floor in a sick bump which led to the finish moments later.

·         After the match was over, Renee Young interviewed Corbin in the ring. Corbin taunted the crowd and wanted to buy a boat to float in their tears as SD Live went off the air.

·         Styles is now out of the US Title picture after losing in decisive fashion. What’s next for the man that built SD Live from the ground up? A feud with Jinder Mahal over the WWE Champion seems likely. However, a higher calling might steer Styles in a different direction heading into Survivor Series next month. We shall out his fate soon enough.

·         Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The show had a nice beginning, middle, and end in terms of promos and in-ring action. It appears that WWE has formulated a game plan for the blue brand heading towards the end of the year, but it’s not without its flaws.

·         The Tag Team Division is starting to heat up once again with viable teams stepping up to the plate. However, the mid-card scene is still in a state of flux in terms of depth while the WWE Champion was too unbothered to show up for a couple of minutes to brag about his successful title defense at Hell in a Cell.

·         There might be forward momentum heading into Survivor Series, but there is still a level of inconsistency when it comes to the booking of the mid-card and main event scene. The creative team has to find a way to maximize their talent by properly by setting them up for success instead of failure. They have five weeks to figure it out. Let’s hope the Powers That Be can get the job done. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls! 

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Raw Exposé: Epilogue To A Shield Reunion - The Fist Bump of Doom (The Postscript)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Circle City has been the epicenter of many memorable moments in WWE over the past few years. The Shield made their debut in Indy almost five years ago. Their subsequent demise took place in the same building three years ago. Are we in store for another Shield moment that will shock the wrestling world to its core? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        After weeks of speculation, The Shield finally reunited as Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins joined forces to take out The Miz and his band of Merry Men as they kicked off the show in epic fashion.

·        Miz held the second annual Mizzie Awards and gave out several cheap trophies to celebrate the destruction of Roman Reigns. The Mizzie Award for Perseverance went to Curtis Axel while Sheamus and Cesaro shared Best Supporting Actor honors.

·        Meanwhile, Miz gave himself an award for being the new Top Dog in WWE because he did something that John Cena, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar have failed to do: Get rid of Reigns.

·        Reigns had something to say about that as he came out to reassure fans that he was alive and well. He was done with the small talk and wanted to get down to business.

·        Miz dared Reigns to bring out Rollins and Ambrose to make the rumored Shield Reunion a reality. The Big Dog did just that as his brothers joined him for battle. They circled the ring and took the fight to the heels as Reigns quickly got rid of Axel by slamming him into the steel steps.

·        Rollins and Ambrose hit Sheamus and Cesaro with their finishers before Reigns nailed them a pair of Superman Punches. Miz was looking on at ringside as he tried to plan his escape. The Shield chased him in the ring as Reigns knocked him out with a Superman Punch before Ambrose dropped Miz with Dirty Deeds for good measure.

·        Realizing that Miz was down for the count, The Shield grabbed him and delivered their signature Triple PowerBomb to seal their reunion. They did their signature fist bump as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a hot way to start the show. The fans popped for The Shield reunion as they laid waste to Miz and his makeshift Miztourage. It was a beautiful moment that peaked at the perfect time since next week is the go-home show for TLC. One can only presume that The Shield vs. The Miz, Cesaro, and Sheamus will headline the show in a Tables, Ladders, and Chair’s match.

(Editor’s Note: Kurt Angle made the match official during a backstage segment with The Miz.)

·        Jason Jordan defeated Karl Anderson with the Elevated Neckbreaker in a solid match. This was a nice bounce-back win for Jordan after he and Matt Hardy lost to Gallows and Anderson last week. Jordan is still not getting over with the crowd because no one believes that he’s Kurt Angle’s long lost son. Throw in Booker T dissing him on commentary for getting preferential treatment due to his DNA and we have the ingredients for a babyface push that is life support.

·        Elias defeated Apollo Crews with the Drift Away in an okay match. I can safely say that Elias is a better musician than Titus O’Neil based on O’Neil’s piss poor banjo strumming and singing. It was pitiful.

·        Enzo Amore had a bone to pick with Kurt Angle after Angle added Kalisto to the Cruiserweight Division during the main event segment last week. Angle came out and stated that he signed Kalisto prior to signing off on Enzo’s No Contact Clause.

·        Enzo accused Angle of hustling him and demanded some respect for being the realest champ in the room. Angle agreed and booked Enzo in a Cruiserweight Championship match against Kalisto later tonight. Enzo was hesitant, but he agreed to the bout under one condition: He wanted the match to take place in the main event spot. Angle shook Enzo’s hand to seal the deal.

·        However, Angle raised the stakes by shelving Enzo’s No Contact clause and making his title defense a Lumberjack Match featuring the entire Cruiserweight Division. Enzo’s big mouth got him in trouble. Surprise, surprise.

·        This was a good segment that continued to illustrate the douchebag tendencies of Enzo while Angle added an authoritative voice to the proceedings. Plus, Enzo didn’t overstay his on the mic which was refreshing to see for a change. The fans are starting to be more vocal when it comes to booing him outright, but he still gets cheered for saying his catchphrase. Until WWE removes the grey area, Enzo’s heel turn will continue to feel half-assed at best.

·        Braun Strowman defeated Matt Hardy with the Running Powerslam in a solid match. Hardy had the fans thinking that the improbable could happen when he nailed Strowman with a Tornado DDT followed by the Twist of Fate for a near fall that ended at the count of one.

·        From there, Strowman dropped him with a pair of chokeslams before hitting his finisher for the win. After the match was over, Strowman carried Hardy over his shoulder and headed up the ramp when The Shield stopped him in his tracks.

·        Strowman charged after Roman Reigns, but Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose came to his rescue as they grabbed Strowman which allowed Reigns to nail him with sick Spear on the main stage.

·        The Hounds of Justice weren’t finished with the Monster Among Men as they Triple PowerBombed him through the announce table to cap off a crazy segment.

·        Strowman getting destroyed makes sense and one can only assume they he will be added to the TLC match as the fourth man on Miz’s team. Just a hunch.

·        Quick side note: The WWE Marketing Department whipped up brand new Shield T-Shirts in record time. It’s as if they knew ahead of time that a reunion was imminent. Hmm…

·        Mickie James and Alexa Bliss had another entertaining exchange as Bliss continued to poke fun at James’ age. James wasn’t having it and asked Bliss to get her biscuit butt in the ring. That phrase caught fire with the crowd as they chanted it at Bliss nonstop. Bliss pretended to charge down to the ring only to walk away.

·        James chased her down and threw her in the ring. She was about to nailed Little Miss Bliss with the Mick Kick, but the Champ rolled out of the ring to avoid getting punked out for the third week in a row.

·        Their match for the Raw Women’s Championship should be good if both ladies have enough time to shine in the ring.

·        Kurt Angle booked Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, and Emma in a Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match with the winner earning the right to get killed by face Asuka at TLC in two weeks. What a prize…

·        The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher defeated Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali when Kendrick pinned Ali with Sliced Bread #2. The match was fine, but the crowd was dead for the most part.

·        And just like that, Braun Strowman is The Miz’s fourth man at TLC after Miz took Ambrose’s comment about The Shield fighting four or more men at once seriously. To quote Jim Ross, “Business has just picked up.”

·        So Bray Wyatt's master plan is to act like someone from the Witness Protection Program in order to scare Finn Bálor? To quote Cameron from Total Divas: "Boy Bye!" Wyatt using a voice distorter was even more insulting. I’m surprised Bálor didn’t laugh his ass off during this stupid segment. Talk about a steaming pile of horseshit. The sooner this feud ends, the better.

·        Emma defeated Sasha Banks with a roll-up and has earned the right to get killed by will move on to face Asuka at TLC in a couple of weeks. The Fatal 5-Way Elimination match featuring Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, and Emma was very sloppy in spots. Things got better down the stretch, but it was hard to watch early on. Here’s hoping Asuka’s debut elevates the women’s division to new heights because it’s been in a state of stagnation since the end of WrestleMania season.

·        The next chapter of the Roman Reigns-Braun Strowman saga will take place inside a steel cage next week. Considering the fact that Hell in a Cell took place last night, WWE is overdoing it a bit by having another match contested inside a steel structure for the third time in eight days. Reigns and Strowman will probably have another great match, but the cage gimmick feels a bit trite at this point.

·        Kalisto defeated Enzo Amore to become the NEW Cruiserweight Champion when he pinned him with a Salina Del Sol from the top rope.

·        The title bout was pretty blasé until Kalisto dropped Enzo with Superplex which sent both men crashing unto the cruiserweights at ringside which popped the fans something fierce. It was a great spot that kept them hooked for the rest of the match.

·        Both men managed to get back in the ring as Kalisto tried to hit his finisher. Enzo blocked it and hit his variation of Eat Defeat only for Mustafa Ali to break up the pin by pulling Enzo out of the ring.

·        Enzo and Ali exchanged words which resulted in Enzo laying Ali out with a clothesline. He got back in the ring to finish off Kalisto, but it was too late as Kalisto had him in position to hit the SDS for the win moments later.

·        This marks the third consecutive week that the Cruiserweight Division has been spotlighted in the main event. It’s a bold move by WWE, but the division has been damaged due to poor booking and lack of character development which can’t be repaired overnight. Enzo provided a much-needed spark, but his wrestling leaves a lot be desired which stunts the division’s growth long-term. Kalisto is a very good wrestler, but he’s not the answer unless he’s handled properly.

·        The entire concept of 205 Live needs to be revamped from the roots up. From the show being shifted from a live to taped format to moving the entire crew to Full Sail University in order to get a fair shot in front of a more passionate fan base, there are ways to save this niche product from falling into the abyss. Will the company right the ship or will it take 10 years to get things right a la the Women’s Revolution? We shall see.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. If it wasn’t for The Shield reunion and the carnage that followed, this show would’ve been a chore to get through. The in-ring action left a lot to be desired which made matters worse in terms of excitement.

·        The TLC PPV is starting to take shape, but the card is paper thin with five matches announced for the show so far. It appears that WWE is not going to overwhelm fans with gimmick-based stipulations such as the “legendary” Chairs, Tables, or STAIRS matches from years past. They still have a week to go, but the creative team has shown amazing restraint so far.

·        The go-home show in Portland, Oregon should be good as Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman face off inside a steel cage. It’s safe to assume that Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, The Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro will get involved down the stretch. Once TLC is in the books, the march towards Survivor Series begins. Let’s hope the Road to Houston is filled with twists and turns for all the right reasons. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of the SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!