Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The SmackDown Files: Welcome To The World Premiere of Rusev's Redemption Song (9-19-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. After Kevin Owens kicked Vince McMahon’s ass last week, did Shane McMahon avenge his father or did he thank Owens for a job well done because the McMahons like to keep their never-ending family feud going like the Energizer Bunny? The answer to this pressing question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Shane McMahon condemned Kevin Owens for attacking his father and vowed that vengeance would be his during their Hell in a Cell match next month.

·        McMahon’s promo was straightforward and to the point. It was a fine way to start the show, but I expect more sizzle and spice from Owens later tonight.

·        Randy Orton defeated Aiden English with an RKO in midair in a solid match. English got in a fair amount of offense, but he tested fate by going to the middle rope only to get dropped with an RKO out of nowhere.

·        As Orton celebrated the win, Rusev came out to complain about losing to him in 9 seconds at SummerSlam last month. The Bulgarian Brute embarrassed his family and vowed to avenge his country by defeating Orton tonight.

·        The referee rang the bell and the match was on. Orton immediately went for the RKO, but Rusev blocked it and shoved Orton into the direction of English who climbed on the ring apron. Orton knocked English to the floor, but the distraction allowed Rusev to nail The Viper with a Superkick for the win.

·        Rusev’s over the top celebration was awesome. He is a national treasure who should be pushed to the moon. Here’s hoping Rusev and Orton have a match that lasts longer than 30 seconds at the Hell in a Cell PPV because both men are capable of stealing the show if they are given the chance to do so.

·        I am not here for the comedic stylings of Jinder Mahal. That is all…

·        AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin for the United States Championship never got underway because Tye Dillinger got in the ring and clipped Corbin’s right ankle. Dillinger continued to beat up Corbin until WWE officials broke things up.

·        Corbin got back in the ring and tried to call off the match, but Styles nailed him with a forearm before making the Lone Wolf tap out to the Calf Crusher for good measure.

·        It appears that Styles, Dillinger, and Corbin are destined to have a Triple Threat Match for the US Title at HIAC next month. Just a hunch…

·        Charlotte returned to thank the fans for offering the thoughts and prayers to Ric Flair during his recovery from emergency surgery. She talked about making each moment with her dad count when Natalya came out to interrupt.

·        Natalya invited Charlotte to stay in the ring as she held the first annual Celebration of Women Spectacular. She championed women such as Florence Nightingale, Oprah Winfrey, and the competitors from the Mae Young Classic. Most importantly, Nattie wanted to put herself over as being one of the all-time greats.

·        Charlotte had enough of Natalya’s Self-Admiration Society and challenged her to match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Tamina wanted a shot as well which led to Daniel Bryan booking a Fatal Four Way Match featuring the four challengers with the winner going on to face Natalya for the Women’s Title at Hell in a Cell.

·        This was a fine segment to set up the main event for later tonight. Most importantly, the ladies wore appropriate footwear just in case things got physical. Very fashion forward.

·        The New Day defeated The Hype Bros when Big E and Kofi Kingston dropped Zack Ryder with The Midnight Hour for the win. The match was fine, but it was nothing special for the most part.

·        Kevin Owens appeared via satellite and apologized for attacking Vince McMahon last week. However, he blamed Shane McMahon for pushing him to do so. When Owens shook Vince’s hand, all he could see was Shane’s face which caused him to go ballistic.

·        KO offered another apology to anyone who planned to watch his Hell in a Cell match against Shane McMahon next month. What happened to Vince pales in comparison to what Owens intended to do Shane-O-Mac inside the demonic structure. He wouldn’t be condemned to hell. Owens planned to go to heaven as ended his promo on an eerie note.

·        Owens comes off as such a sociopath in the best possible way. Keeping Shane and KO away from each other is smart because the most vicious physicality should be saved for the cell.

·        Dolph Ziggler continued to circle the drain as he mocked Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and DX. I hope Ziggler realizes that HHH and Michaels are more than their ring entrances. They got it done in the ring as well. To whitewash that is beyond asinine. That’s more on the scripting than Ziggler himself, but it’s still infuriating to watch.

·        Charlotte will face Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell when she defeated Tamina with a Big Boot in a solid Fatal Four Way Match.

·        The match was a little rough around the edges when Tamina was on offense, but things got better once Becky Lynch and Naomi got involved. The highlight of the match was Charlotte hitting a moonsault on Tamina and Naomi at the same time.

·        Tamina recovered and hit Becky Lynch with a frog splash only for Naomi to break up the pin. Lana pulled Naomi out of the ring, but she got nailed with a stiff kick to the head for her efforts.

·        Tamina would avenge her manager by dropping Naomi with a Superkick, but the distraction gave Charlotte enough time to hit the big boot for the win.

·        SD Live went off the air with Charlotte celebrating in the ring while Natalya looked on backstage.

·        Charlotte and Natalya should have a great match at HIAC if they are given enough time to shine. They’ve had good matches on the main roster, but nothing has topped their epic bout that took place at the second NXT Takeover in May 2014. Charlotte has grown by leaps and beyond since then while Natalya is a seasoned vet who has been through the ringer in terms of shitty booking and a stupid farting gimmick that damn near killed her career dead. She deserves a standout match on the main roster and I believe Charlotte is the right woman for the job. Here’s hoping they cut loose and deliver a classic because they have what it takes to steal the show next month. Fingers crossed!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was serviceable. The blue brand just returned from a tour of China which explains why the show was light on in-ring action. The good news is that most of the matches were storyline driven in order to flesh out the Hell in a Cell card over the next couple of weeks.

·        The PPV is coming together nicely as several mid-card matches are starting to take shape. The absence of Bobby Roode is noticeable, but one can presume that Roode is being kept off television until Dolph Ziggler mocks his Glorious Gimmick which should lead to a match at HIAC.

·        The worst part of the show continues to be Jinder Mahal’s over the top comedy act. The fans turned on him and even did a “That’s Too Far” chant when Mahal continued to make lame stereotypical jokes at Shinsuke Nakamura’s expense. It’s not funny and completely tone deaf at this point. I’m glad the Oakland crowd didn’t at play along because it encourages WWE to keep the shtick going. Despite how bad it was last week, they did it again tonight. One can only hope the company got the hint and stop the madness next week. Then again, Ziggler continues to make an ass of himself on live television. Resistance is futile at this point. A girl can dream, though…

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Raw Exposé: The Night Enzo Amore Became A Humanoid (A Tribute To Bobby "The Brain" Heenan)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. It’s the go-home show for No Mercy which takes place this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. With the red brand returning from a recent tour of Australia, did a classic case of jetlag set in six days before the PPV? 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 started off with Kurt Angle trying to make an announcement until The Miz and his Miztourage interrupted him. Miz was miffed that he was left off another PPV. Angle planned to remedy the situation by booking The Hardy Boyz, Elias, and Jason Jordan in a Fatal Four Way match with the winner going on to face Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy.

·        Miz complained that Jordan didn’t deserve a shot at the IC Title and accused Angle of trying to make up for lost time with his son by giving him title opportunities on a whim. Miz suggested that Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel deserved a spot in the match instead. He called Angle and deadbeat which caused Jordan to come out to defend his father.

·        Jordan warned Miz not to say another word about his dad. To eliminate the suggestion of nepotism, Jordan wanted Angle to add Dallas and Axel to the match. Angle agreed and turned the Fatal Four Way into a Six Pack Challenge.

·        Miz scoffed at Jordan for making such a dumb decision and accused of him being incompetent like his father. Jordan attacked Miz as the Miztourage jumped into action. Jordan fought them off as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a fine way to start the show. The Miz was back to being a true heel after ripping Enzo Amore on the mic last week which made him an accidental babyface.

·        Jason Jordan did a solid job during his brief promo and shined a bit more during an emotional backstage conversation with Kurt Angle. It was the first time that their father-son relationship was showcased in a believable way. Angle always manages to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. If Jordan continues to show layers to his character, there might be hope for him yet to get over as a star.

·        Nia Jax defeated Alexa Bliss with a Samoan Drop in a pretty one-sided match. Bliss tried to bail out of the match until Sasha Banks forced her to get back in the ring. Bliss briefly gained the upper hand when Jax slammed her shoulder against the ring post. She nailed her with a stiff punch before grounding her with a pair of dropkicks.

·        Bliss went to the top rope only for Jax to catch her in midflight which led to the finish moments later.

·        Jax didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Banks jumped her from behind. Jax slammed Banks down onto the canvas and was about to finish her off when Bayley came out to make the save.

·        In a surreal moment, Bliss, Bayley, and Banks attacked Jax which left them as the last women standing.

·        Banks and Bayley celebrated in the ring while Bliss became the dreaded third wheel.

·        Both ladies were not having it as Banks kneed her in the face before Bayley laid her out with the Bayley-to-Belly as the segment came to an end with the besties standing tall.

·        Bayley making a surprise return in her hometown was cool. She received a nice ovation, but I’m afraid too much damage has been done to her character in order to salvage her push as a babyface.

·        The Hugger Extraordinaire needs a character overhaul in order to stand out in the Women’s Division. With Asuka making her debut in the coming weeks, being a cookie cutter babyface that’s been booked like shit is a recipe for disaster. Here’s hoping the creative team can right the ship because there is still value in Bayley if they book her properly.

·        Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins & Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows when Sheamus stole the pin from Ambrose after the Lunatic Fringe nailed Anderson with Dirty Deeds. This was a sneaky way for The Bar to gain the upper hand heading into their Raw Tag Team Championship against Ambrose and Rollins at No Mercy on Sunday.

·        The Triple Threat Tag Team Match was very entertaining as all three teams showed up and showed out. The crowd was lukewarm at first, but Rollins and Ambrose hooked them down the stretch when they did double stereo suicide dives from opposite sides of the ring. Rollins especially worked well with Cesaro as they did some innovative moves that popped the fans as well.

·        Anderson and Gallows were slotted in the match to eat the loss, but they had a nice showing as well. Despite being mishandled due to piss poor booking, Gallows is getting his “Nerd” catchphrase over. I still don’t like a grown man calling other grown men nerds, but I can’t knock the hustle if The Good Brothers are getting cheered. If only they were presented better on television to balance things out. Maybe one day…

·        Dustin Rhodes is in the building and he wants to face Bray Wyatt man-to-man. Kurt Angle granted his request and the match was set for later tonight. This was a nice change of pace for the Wrestler Formerly Known as Goldust. At least for tonight.

·        Curt Hawkins’ losing streak continues as Apollo Crews pinned him with a Spinning Sit-Out Powerbomb in a decent match. Hawkins has lost 115 matches in a row. At least he’s still able to draw a check on the regular.

·        The split screen interview between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman was very good. Paul Heyman spoke on Lesnar’s behalf as he painted the narrative that Strowman might be bigger and stronger than The Beast, but he has proven nothing until he beats Lesnar for the Universal Championship at No Mercy. Heyman ran down Lesnar’s impressive resume and was about to go all-in when his client interrupted him.

·        Lesnar wanted to thank Strowman for pushing him into a corner heading into Sunday’s PPV. He loved a good challenge because it made him a better competitor. He closed out the interview by saying, “Suplex City, bitch” as Strowman no sold Lesnar’s comment.

·        Lesnar vs. Strowman for the Universal Championship should be a pure spectacle. Will Suplex City still be in business afterward? We shall find out soon enough.

·        The Fatal Four Way Match for the Raw Women’s Championship has been changed to a Fatal Five Way featuring Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Emma, and Bayley. What an interesting turn of events…

·        Roman Reigns cut his final promo on John Cena by name dropping Alex Riley as a guy that looked like Cena who ended up on the future endeavors list a few years ago. The Riley-Cena drama is well-documented online among hardcore fans, but we still don’t know what the hell happened all those years ago. Reigns’ comment was cute, but it was a little too insider for casual fans who are not in the know about the inner workings of WWE.

·        Reigns tossed to a clip of Cena cutting a scathing promo on The Rock about leaving WWE for the bright lights of Hollywood leading up to their match at WrestleMania XXVIII five years ago. Reigns used this as evidence of Cena being a hypocrite who ended up doing the exact same thing. The Big Dog warned Cena that he would suffer another loss from a Samoan at No Mercy as the segment came to an end.

·        Reigns promo was fine, but it wasn’t anything particularly special. WWE was smart to keep things short and sweet by allowing Cena to do the heavy lifting via archival footage. The Reigns-Cena feud peaked after their stellar verbal confrontation on August 28th. Since then, it’s been a series of diminishing returns, but their match should be very good if they work hard and tell a compelling story in the ring.

·        Bray Wyatt defeated Dustin Rhodes with Sister Abigail in a decent match. Rhodes was in control for the most part, but the outcome was never in doubt.

·        After the match was over, Finn Bálor appeared on the Titantron and told Wyatt a story about him embracing his demon side due to his fascination with Gods, Monsters, and Mythology. Since the demon was a creation of man, who’s more dangerous? That’s a very good question that almost made me care about their match at No Mercy. However, my interest level remains at a 3. The soon this feud ends, the better.

·        As I mentioned last week, I had a feeling that Enzo Amore lost all credibility as a WWE Superstar after The Miz destroyed him on the mic last week. Enzo received an okay pop, but things quickly went south when he vowed to defeat Neville to become the new Cruiserweight Champion at No Mercy. The fans booed him for making such a bold prediction.

·        Things got worse for Mr. Amore when Braun Strowman body checked him on the entrance ramp before dragging his limp body down to the ring.

·        Strowman chucked Enzo in the ring before dropping him with a Chokeslam followed by a Running Powerslam. The fans chanted “Thank You, Strowman!” which is another sign that Enzo’s stock has fallen in recent weeks.

·        Neville came out to pick the bones by hitting the Red Arrow on Enzo to add insult to injury. Neville grabbed the mic and mocked Enzo’s dance and “How You Doin?” catchphrase as the segment came to an end.

·        Enzo Amore is a chump and nothing more at this point. What a fall from grace…

·        Once again, the WWE production team outdid themselves by putting together a fantastic video package chronicling the life and times of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Heenan is the greatest manager in wrestling history. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Heenan paved the way for so many managers and announcers over the years. Having a bombastic personality with a wicked sense of humor made The Brain an originator who can never be duplicated.

·        Many have tried, but it’s all about carving a niche for oneself in order to stand out. Heenan provided the blueprint for the likes of Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, Paul Heyman, and Jerry Lawler to be ballsy, loud, and hilarious on the mic. Corey Graves is poised to join that illustrious class someday and he owes Heenan a solid for embracing the snarky way of life. May The Brain rest in peace.

·        Neville made Gran Metalik tap out to the Rings of Saturn in a solid match. Unfortunately, they were slotted in the 10:30 Lull Period of Death which has spelled doom for many wrestlers over the past five years. The in-ring action was good while it lasted, though.

·        Jason Jordan defeated Curtis Axel with a neck breaker and will go on to face The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy this Sunday.

·        Jeff Hardy had the match won he laid out Axel with the Swanton Bomb until The Miz broke up the pin. The distraction allowed Jordan to regroup after getting jumped by Miz midway through the match. The crowd wasn’t thrilled with the finish because they were pulling for Jeff, but the post-match antics made sense in the grand scheme of things.

·        Miz tried to sucker punch Jordan, but Jordan dropped him with a pair of Belly-to-Belly Suplexes. The Miztourage double-teamed Jordan which allowed Miz to nail him with the Skull Crushing Finale.

·        Miz grabbed the mic and told Jordan that he would still be champion after their IC Title match on Sunday. Kurt Angle would still be a terrible father while Jordan would still be a bastard. And with that, Raw went off the air with Miz and his crew standing tall as the crowd gave them a tepid reaction.

·        This was an okay way to end the show. The Six Pack Challenge had a few bright spots, but it was light on star power with the exception of The Hardy Boyz. The outcome was never in doubt, but Jordan is not quite ready for the spotlight despite the progress he made during his interactions with Kurt Angle earlier tonight.

·        Miz is the perfect person to make Jordan look sympathetic, but he can only do so much if the fans don’t buy Jordan being Angle’ long lost son. Here’s hoping WWE puts the pieces together because this far-fetched storyline is hanging on by a thread at the moment.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was decent at best. WWE did a nice job hyping the No Mercy PPV by pushing Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship and John Cena vs. Roman Reigns like the double main event of WrestleMania. The former feels hotter than the latter due to its presentation, but I expect both matches to deliver the goods from a wrestling standpoint on Sunday.

·        The rest of the show was fine, but the in-ring action was so-so with the exception of the Triple Threat Tag Team Match and Six-Pack Challenge that closed out the show. Considering the fact that the Raw crew just got back from a grueling tour of Australia, this was a better than average show because jetlag tends to set in which could’ve made tonight’s broadcast tough to watch.

·        No Mercy should be a very good PPV on Sunday. The key matches have been promoted well which should keep the Los Angeles crowd hyped throughout the show. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Bálor and Neville vs. Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Championship look weak on paper, but they should be fine for the most part.

·        However, the double main event will tell the true story when it comes to B PPVs being more than a stopgap between the Big Four. Here’s hoping WWE leaves the fans satisfied and wanting more come Sunday. 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! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The Fifty Shades of James Ellsworth Edition (9-12-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin City served as the backdrop for three championship matches featuring AJ Styles vs. Tye Dillinger for the United States Championship, The Usos vs. The New Day facing off in a Sin City Street Fight for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles, and Natalya vs. Naomi battling for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

Also, Vince McMahon would confront Kevin Owens regarding Owens’ pending lawsuit against WWE after Shane McMahon attacked him last week. Did The Boss lay down the law or did Owens clap back in more ways than one? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        The highlight of the opening segment was Dolph Ziggler trolling the audience as he came out to Shane McMahon’s theme music. Ziggler’s attempt at cosplay sucked last week, but it worked tonight. He gets a reprieve. For now…

·        Kevin Owens cut a great promo heeling on the crowd as he vowed to fire Sami Zayn and cancel the Fashion Files. He’s greatest dig was making Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton wear one suit because they sound alike on commentary. Corey Graves’ facial expressions pushed things over the top in terms of hilarity.

·        Daniel Bryan came out and reminded Owens that he was in charge and informed KO that he wouldn’t like what Vince McMahon had to say later tonight. Owens said the feeling would be mutual as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a good way to start the show. Kevin Owens was an excellent prick heel who managed to get under everyone’s skin while WWE played it smart by delaying the appearance of Mr. McMahon until later in the show. Their confrontation should be interesting, to say the least.

·        AJ Styles retained the United States Championship when he made Tye Dillinger tap out to the Calf Crusher in a solid match that was slightly marred by outside interference from Baron Corbin. Styles was about to nail the Perfect 10 with the Phenomenal Forearm when Corbin climbed on the ring apron to cause the distraction. Styles nailed him with the forearm which allowed Dillinger to roll Styles up for a near fall.

·        Styles went for the Styles Clash only for Dillinger to counter with the Tye Breaker for another close fall. Styles managed to regroup and locked in his submission hold for the win.

·        Both men shook hands after the match, but the feel-good moment was ruined when Corbin dragged Styles out of the ring and tossed him over the barricade. Dillinger tried to make the save, but Corbin nailed him with a Clothesline before dropping Styles with the End of Days on the floor.

·        Corbin grabbed the mic and informed an unconscious Styles that he would challenge him for the United States Championship next week as the segment came to an end.

·        Even though Dillinger and Styles were shortchanged on time, the match was good while it lasted. This was a clever way to insert Corbin in the US Title picture, but I still wanted Dillinger and Styles to have a strong television match. I hope they are given another chance in the near future because both men are capable of doing so much more than what we saw tonight.

·        The Good News About Jinder Mahal’s Promo: Mahal showed more personality than ever before on the mic.

·        The Bad News About Jinder Mahal’s Promo: The material he was given sucked for the most part and I’m not a fan of WWE making fun of Shinsuke Nakamura’s facial expressions. The overacting by The Singh Brothers was especially grating which took me out of the segment as well. Plus, the creative team fell into the trap of comparing Nakamura to Michael Jackson in the worst possible way. I hated Dolph’s Ziggler promo from earlier this year when he went on a similar spiel that pissed me off to no end.

·        Furthermore, the Pikachu having a seizure joke was classless. The Singh Brothers doing Nakamura’s mannerisms made it worse. The whole segment irked me even though I somewhat applaud the creative team for giving Mahal a spark of a personality for a change. If he’s given less offensive material, he might actually get over as a pompous heel who draws heat for all the right reasons.

·        The New Day defeated The Usos to become the NEW SmackDown Tag Team Champions when Big E and Kofi Kingston dropped Jimmy Uso with the Midnight Hour for the win. The Sin City Street fight was very good as it featured hard hitting action throughout. If I’m not mistaken, there are no rules in a street fight with the exception of pinning or submitting your opponent. From some strange reason, the referee pulled Kingston away from one of the Usos after hitting him repeatedly with a Kendo Stick. That was weird, but the overall flow of the match wasn’t interrupted for the most part.

·        The Usos nailed Big E with a double Superkick and was about to finish him off with a double splash from the top rope when Kingston shoved Jey Uso off the top rope and sent him crashing into a table that was set up at ringside. It was a sick spot that left Jimmy high and dry. Kingston nailed him with Trouble in Paradise which led to the finish moments later.

·        The title change is a little surprising, but both teams have played hot potato with the belts as of late. One can only presume that their rubber match will take place at Hell in a Cell to blow off this feud once and for all. It should be another barn burner if they are given enough time to shine.

·        Natalya retained the SmackDown Women’s Championship when she made Naomi tap out to the Sharpshooter in a solid match. Both ladies didn’t receive ring entrances which meant the show was running short on time. Nonetheless, both ladies had another competitive match that featured outside interference towards the end.

·        Naomi knocked Natalya out of the ring which led to a confrontation between the champ and Carmella who was sitting in on guest commentary. Nattie shoved Carmella to the floor which allowed lay out Carmella and James Ellsworth with a cross body from the top rope. Natalya took advantage of the situation by slamming Naomi head first into ring post which led to the submission finish.

·        It appears that Naomi is out of the championship picture for now. It should be very interesting to see who's next in line for Natalya’s SmackDown Women’s Title.

·        Remember the reprieve I gave Dolph Ziggler during the beginning of this blog? It’s officially been rescinded. Ziggler came out and imitated Bayley and The Ultimate Warrior in order to show fans that they love a gimmick more than what he can do in the ring. It was a word-for-word replay of what he said last week. Once again, Ziggler’s promo was dumb and pointless. This has to be a setup for a feud with Bobby Roode at Hell in a Cell. Right? Right?!?

·        Chad Gable and Jason Jordan defeated The Hype Bros when Gable and Benjamin dropped Zack Ryder with the Tech Fall. The match was fine, but it was slotted in the 9:30 p.m. Lull Period of Doom and Gloom. Things ended on a newsworthy note when Ryder refused to shake hands with Gable and Jordan. He also gave the cold shoulder to Mojo Rawley which plays into a possible heel turn that has been hinted at in recent months.

·        Vince McMahon told Kevin Owens that it would be in his best interest not to sue WWE because he might end up fired or bankrupt. McMahon informed Owens that he didn’t suspend Shane McMahon because he crossed the line as an authority figure. He suspended him because he didn’t finish the job. Shane would get another chance to avenge the McMahon family when he faces Owens inside Hell in a Cell at the eponymous PPV next month.

·        Owens wanted McMahon’s assurance that he wouldn’t be fired for hurting a McMahon. Vinnie Mac agreed and sealed the deal with a handshake. Owens broke the handshake and head butted Vince in the face moments later. KO stated that The Chairman of the Board gave him permission to beat up a McMahon and he did just that as he kicked Vince’s ass. He kicked him in the ribs before nailing him with a Superkick and Frogsplash from the top rope. Adam Pierce tried to intervene, but he let his boss bite the bullet in an unintentionally hilarious spot.

·        Owens eventually walked away, but Stephanie McMahon confronted him before tending to her father as SD Live went off the air.

·        This was a hot way to end the show. Kevin Owens was a sinister heel as he attacked the man that signed his paycheck every month. Vince McMahon must really like Owens because it’s rare to see him get beat up. McMahon even did a blood job to push the closing segment over the top. I give Vince props for taking bumps at 72. It’s ill-advised, but the boss has the final say.

·        In any event, this adds more heat to the Kevin Owens-Shane McMahon feud leading up to their Hell in a Cell match next month. I am not looking forward to Shane’s Charmin Tissue Paper punches, but Owens should carry him over the finish line by going batshit crazy in the best possible way. It will be quite the spectacle when WWE christens in the new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Michigan next month. “Pizza, Pizza!”

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. The Sin City theme gave the show a sense of purpose, but the in-ring work wasn’t as strong as the Wild Card Finals which took place last December. The SmackDown Tag Team Championship match between The Usos and The New Day was the best thing on the broadcast from a wrestling standpoint. The United States and SmackDown Women’s Title matches were hampered by outside interference, but the in-ring action was solid for the most part.

·        The show will be best remembered for Kevin Owens kicking Vince McMahon’s ass. It was a surprising moment that reminded me of Randy Orton punting Vince in the head 8 years ago. Will Owens become a sociopath who destroys the McMahon Family from the inside out? We shall see how it all plays out, but I like how Owens has become more menacing in recent weeks. He’s not cracking jokes in order to get cheered. KO is a cold-hearted bastard who should be despised from the moon and back.

·        Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, and Randy Orton not being on tonight’s show was a little surprising. Their star power was missed, but should they be back next week as SD Live emanates from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The march towards the Hell in a Cell PPV continues. Here’s hoping the blue brand continues to raise their profile heading into the fall season. 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, September 11, 2017

The Raw Exposé: The Pinocchio Taught Roman Reigns How To Tell Bald-Faced Lies Edition (9-11-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. I want to use this space to remember the lives lost on 9/11 16 years ago and offer my thoughts and prayers to everyone dealing with Hurricane (now Tropical Depression Irma) as she battered the Southeastern United States this past weekend. The images and stories are harrowing and I hope the rebuilding process can heal some of the wounds this storm has left in its wake. Godspeed to you all.

On a lighter note, let’s brighten the mood by dissecting the craziness that went down on tonight’s show. Enjoy! J

·        After Roman Reigns accused John Cena of losing a step after it took him twenty minutes to beat Jason Jordan last week, Reigns encountered the same situation as he grinded out a tough win against Jordan in a very good match to kick off the show.

·        Reigns roughed up Jordan early on by delivering some stiff punches to the face until Jordan countered with a series of beautiful suplexes. Jordan almost made Reigns tap out twice when he locked in the Crossface, but Reigns managed to grab the bottom rope both times.

·        Jordan showed off his freakish strength by dropping Reigns with his signature back-to-back Northern Lights Suplexes for a near fall. Jordan went for his running charge, but the Big Dog moved out of the way which caused Jordan to slam into the ring post. The Big Dog took advantage by hitting Jordan with The Drive by, Superman Punch, and Spear for the win.

·        After the match was over, Reigns shook Jordan’s hand and praised him for pushing him to the limit. Jordan has had two impressive showings against the two biggest stars in WWE. His stock has risen a bit, but he’s still stuck in no man’s land because no one believes that he’s Kurt Angle’s long lost son. It’s a heat killer that will stunt his growth as a performer if the creative team doesn’t add dimensions to his personality. Here’s hoping Jordan’s recent losing skid results in him growing a thicker skin instead of smiling his way through life.

·        John Cena came out to gloat about Reigns failing to beat Jordan in quick and decisive fashion. Reigns retorted by stating that he has had more great matches in two years than Cena has had in his whole career. Cena acknowledged that Reigns has gifts that any wrestler would love to possess However, his arrogance prevents him from reaching true superstar status.
·        Reigns has never experienced true failure in his career. Cena vowed to change that at No Mercy in a couple of weeks. Cena was about to leave when Reigns told Cena to get his bitch ass back in the ring.

·        Reigns claimed that Cena was riding the wave of his success because WWE business has never been better. The company is making more money than ever before. Tickets are moving at a brisk pace which means that Cena needs WWE more than WWE needs Cena. The E is Cena’s ticket to Hollywood. If he needed a hookup, Reigns knew a guy who could help. That was a very sly and shady reference to The Rock.

·        Instead of Cena going on a long spiel in order to destroy Reigns on the mic. He let this parting shot do the trick: “At No Mercy, consider me like a drug a test homes, you ain’t getting past me.” And with that, Cena dropped the mic and headed backstage while Reigns smirked in the ring.

·        This was another good talking segment, but I had a hard time taking Reigns’ promo seriously because it was filled with lies. The notion that Cena has had no great matches in his career is a complete load of bullshit. Reigns being a revenue driver is true, but he left out some important facts.

·        For those in the know, Cena is still the top merchandise mover in WWE. Also, he moves numbers when it comes to house shows and appearing on Raw and SmackDown Live on a regular basis. Without him, things take a tumble on the money and ratings front. Therefore, Reigns’ promo didn’t pass the sniff test in terms of believability.

·        Cena kept things short and sweet by stating the facts. Playing into Reigns’ drug test failure was a great dig to wrap up the segment. Here’s hoping their verbal shots have a bit more bite during the go-home show next week because this was their “worse” exchange so far.

·        Sasha Banks defeated Emma by making her tap out to the Bank Statement in a solid match. Emma got in a lot of offense, but the outcome was never in doubt.

·        Paul Heyman kicked off the second hour of Raw by asking Braun Strowman if he was better than 2002 Brock Lesnar. Heyman admitted that Strowman was more powerful than Lesnar, but he wondered if Strowman could notch a signature win under his belt by beating John Cena later tonight. In The Beast’s quest towards world domination, he defeated the likes of The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, and The Undertaker. Until Strowman piles up a similar resume, he’s not in Lesnar’s league.

·        Heyman challenged the Monster Among Men to fight his client. Strowman accepted and the fight was on. Lesnar dropped Strowman with a German Suplex, but Strowman popped back up which stunned Lesnar. Strowman laid him out with a chokeslam followed by the Running Powerslam as Heyman looked on in shock at ringside.

·        Strowman grabbed the Universal Championship and raised it high in the air as he placed his foot on Lesnar’s chest. He laid the belt in the same spot moments later and patted it three times to signal the pin count before leaving the ring.

·        This was another great segment. Paul Heyman was the perfect hype man that asked the right questions about Strowman’s badassery, but Strowman continues to make him eat crow by putting The Beast on his ass at every turn. Their match at No Mercy for the Universal Title should be a classic if everything goes according to plan.

·        Bray Wyatt defeated Goldust with Sister Abigail in a decent match. Goldust had a nice showing, but the outcome was never in doubt. See Emma vs. Sasha Banks as a prime example.

·        However, things took a dark turn when Wyatt wiped away Goldust’s face paint which was perceived as a sign of sacrilege amongst fans. Wyatt wanted to prove that Goldust was just a man without special abilities when Finn Bálor ran down to the ring to make the save.

·        Wyatt drawing legit heel heat for a change was refreshing to see, but I still don’t care about his match against Bálor at No Mercy next Sunday.

·        Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows vs. Sheamus and Cesaro never got underway because Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins brawled with their No Mercy opponents until Anderson and Gallows turned things into a six-way brawl. Tensions are boiling over in the tag team division.

·        Asuka is coming to Monday Night Raw. Something Wicked This Way Comes in the best possible way.

·        Elias defeated Kalisto with a Swinging Neckbreaker in an okay match. It went a bit too long despite the inevitability of Kalisto losing clean.
·        John Cena defeated Braun Strowman via disqualification after Strowman dropped him with a Running Powerslam on the steel steps. The match was fine, but it was a one-sided affair with Cena getting his ass kicked for 95% of the match.

·        It was a great showcase for Strowman while protecting Cena at the same time because he didn’t eat the pin. Hopefully, this match will be revisited in the future because I feel that both men can do more if the booking gives them more freedom to go all out in the ring.

·        Congrats to The Miz and Maryse on becoming first-time parents in the very near future. Miz’s quip on being there for his baby unlike Kurt Angle was great.

·        Miz TV was very newsworthy as Miz read Enzo Amore for filth regarding his behind the scenes antics as of late. The burn was so epic that Enzo couldn’t even clap back with a good response that would win the crowd over. They were surprisingly pro-Miz because he spoke the absolute truth. This might be the moment when Enzo’s star faded to dust because Miz demolished him on the mic and came off like a total babyface.

·        Enzo challenged Miz to a match which pretty much breaks the 205 Live rule of Cruiserweights not wrestling against heavyweights, but I digress.

·        Enzo Amore defeated The Miz via disqualification after The Miztourage attacked him at ringside. Both men traded insults on the mic while their match was in progress. The action was pretty bland, but the crowd was still pro Miz for the most part. I don’t think that was the intended effect, but it suited him well.

·        Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & The Hardy Boyz defeated Sheamus, Cesaro Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows when Ambrose nailed Anderson with Dirty Deeds for the win. The match was solid as Ambrose played the babyface in peril throughout. There was a slight hiccup when Matt Hardy came into the ring to break up a pin attempt after Ambrose kicked out at two. Corey Graves did an excellent job covering for Matt by saying the referee saw him out of the corner of his eye which resulted in the pin being broken up. It was a bit far-fetched, but it was better than saying nothing at all.

·        Things got back on track when Ambrose made the hot tag to Rollins which quickened the pace of the match. Sensing trouble, Sheamus and Cesaro bailed on Anderson and Gallows during the closing moments of the match which led to the aforementioned finish. The show ended with the babyfaces standing tall while Graves proclaimed that he was heading to Sin City in the most enthusiastic way possible.

·        This was a fine way to end the show. The crowd wasn’t super-hot, but they popped for the key spots which ended things on a high note. The Raw Tag Team Championship match should be a good one if both teams bring something fresh to the table. Based on what happened tonight, don’t be surprised to see Anderson and Gallows play a role in the finish. Just saying…

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. The in-ring action was so-so with the exception of the opening match between Roman Reigns and Jason Jordan and the Eight-Man Tag Team match that closed the show.

·        Braun Strowman dominating Brock Lesnar was fun, but the latest Roman Reigns-John Cena promo exchange left a lot to be desired. With next week’s go-home show taking place in San Jose, the double main event for No Mercy need to be on equal footing. Here’s hoping the creative team gets the job done.

·        The rest of the No Mercy Card looks good. It was wise of WWE to plan out the PPV well in advance. However, they failed to do the same thing for Raw this week. The return of Monday Night Football should’ve given the company added incentive to load up tonight’s show. Instead, they relied on social media to generate buzz which can be hit or miss at best. With SmackDown Live having a loaded show tomorrow night, it would’ve been nice to see that same synergy on the red brand. It’s a missed opportunity that might result in SD Live beating their red counterpart in the ratings this week. If that’s the case, Go, Blue Brand, Go!

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!