Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The SmackDown Files: How Rusev Won Christmas 24 Hours After The Fact (12-26-2017)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. It’s the final live broadcast of 2017 which should give WWE extra incentive to end the year on a high note. Did the company rise to the occasion or did they fall flatter than a flapjack prepared and plated by The New Day? 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 announcing a tournament to determine a new United States Champion after Dolph Ziggler relinquished the title last week.

·        Bryan announced Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode and was about to make another match when Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin interrupted him. Gable and Benjamin wanted a shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. Aiden English and Rusev & The New Day tossed their name in the hat as well which resulted in Bryan setting up a Triple Threat Match to determine the number one contender for the Tag Team Titles which took place immediately due to the first hour being commercial-free.

·        Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated Aiden English and Rusev & The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) when Gable pinned Big E with a Powerbomb/Diving Clothesline combination in a great Triple Threat Match. This bout featured insane action throughout as each team got a chance to shine. Rusev was the most popular wrestler in the match as the fans showered him with “Rusev Day” chants.

·        From Gable dropping Big E and English with a double German Suplex to Rusev nailing everyone with Machka Kicks, there was no shortage of breathtaking spots that popped the crowd something fierce.

·        English had a strong showing as he got a chance to show what he can do in the ring for an extended period of time. His Frog Splash onto Gable was a mirror image of his late father-in-law Eddie Guerrero which put a smile on my face. Viva La Raza!

·        However, the highlight of the match was Rusev putting Gable and Xavier Woods in a double Accolade. Woods was about to tap out when Benjamin broke the hold. From there, Big E was on the brink of winning the match for his team when he set up Benjamin for the Big Ending only for Old Jason Jordan to block it which set up the finish moments later.

·        Gable and Benjamin will face The Usos next week for the Tag Team Titles which should be very good. However, I have a soft spot for Aiden English and Rusev because they are starting to get over as hot babyface act. The Chicago crowd loved Rusev which made my night. WWE has to realize that there is money to be made with The Bulgarian Brute in 2018. He is charismatic and has the in-ring talent to get over as a big-time star. Here’s hoping the Powers That Be read the tea leaves because they should push Rusev and English to the moon next year. Fingers crossed!

·        The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango via disqualification when The Ascension saved Tyler Breeze and Fandango from eating another loss. Their chivalry resulted in Konnor and Viktor putting their “best friends” in another match against Harper and Rowan next week. How sweet…

·        Ruby Riott defeated Naomi with the Riott Kick in a quick match. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan provided the distraction which allowed Riott to pick up the tainted win. The match was pretty nondescript for the most point.

·        The Riott Squad were putting the boots to Naomi until Charlotte made the save. The numbers game caught up to The Queen as the heels laid her out with ease.

·        Natalya, Tamina, Lana, and Carmella confronted The Riott Squad as the heels left the ring when they no longer had the numbers advantage.

·        A brawl broke out at ringside as Natalya & Company beat down The Riott Squad before the trio ran backstage to fight another day.

·        Bobby Roode defeated Baron Corbin with a roll-up to advance to the next round of the United States Championship Tournament. The match was solid as Corbin and Roode worked well together in order to put on a show for the Chicago crowd. This was a nice sampling of what both men can do when they are given a chance to shine. Corbin being pushed out of the mid-card title scene is a little jarring since he beat AJ Styles clean as a sheet a few months ago. It’s curious booking, to say the least.

·        Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger with The Khallas to advance to the next round of the US Championship Tournament. The match was decent and it appears that Mahal is firmly slotted in the mid-card for the foreseeable future. Yippee!

·        Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles with a roll-up thanks to an unlikely assist from Shane McMahon. The Styles-Owens feud from earlier this year has been marred by questionable booking which watered down the quality of their matches. It’s only appropriate that their final match of 2017 ended in similar fashion with McMahon getting involved down the stretch. At least the in-ring action was strong before the shenanigans ensued.  

·        Sami Zayn ran interference on KO’s behalf which led to his best friend picking up a near fall on Styles after he nailed the Phenomenal One with a Superkick.

·        Shane-O-Mac made his way to the ring and told the referee to eject Zayn from the match. The ref acted accordingly, but he missed Styles visually pinning Owens with an inside cradle. Styles confronted the official which led to the aforementioned finish.

·        SmackDown Live went off the air with Owens and Zayn celebrating in the ring while Shane looked on in disgust from the main stage.

·        This was an interesting way to end the show. Shane McMahon’s overzealousness cost Styles the match which could lead to another ass whopping in the parking lot if McMahon continues to stick his nose in other people’s business.

·        Plus, it gives Daniel Bryan more ammo to use against Shane because he’s afraid that his boss is turning into Mr. McMahon 2.0. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will continue to fuel tension between their superiors as the great Power Struggle of 2018 heats up. Who’s turning on who? We shall find out soon enough.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. This was a nice way to cap off the year as SD Live delivered a late entry for one of the best television matches of the year as the Triple Threat Tag Team Match featuring Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, Aiden English & Rusev, and The New Day stole the show. The tag team division has been on fire for the past six months and this was a great way to put an exclamation point on things.

·        Here’s hoping 2018 is the Year of Rusev because WWE has a true star on their hands if they don’t screw it up. Aiden English also deserves credit for reinventing himself and finding a kindred spirit in Rusev. After a record number of tag team breakups this past year, their unlikely partnership has been a bright spot in a sea of doom and gloom.   

·        Elsewhere, it appears that Kevin Owens is in line for a WWE Championship match after defeating AJ Styles. Let’s hope their presumed title bout isn’t overbooked to death because both men are capable of delivering the goods if they are given the chance to do so. Rosy optimism aside, expect another bullshit finish from the usual suspects because it’s all about the game and how you play it. We can thank noted philosopher Triple H for giving us those words to live by for over twenty years. 

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, December 25, 2017

The Raw Exposé: Have A Holly Jolly Strowmas (12-25-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to the Christmas Edition of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. This is the first time WWE has aired a LIVE show on Christmas night which is quite remarkable, to say the least. Did the company give us something to cheer about this holiday season or did they give us a lump of coal instead? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Since the first hour of Raw was commercial free, here is my random stream of consciousness covering all the yuletide festivities. Enjoy!

·        John Cena is a classic act for giving his t-shirt and hat to a young fan in the audience.

·        Elias saying that WWE stands for Walk With Elias is absolutely genius.

·        Elias serenaded the crowd with a song dissing the city of Chicago. Cena cut him off and told The Drifter to make amends for being a jerk.

·        Elias agreed and remixed the song to make it more fan friendly. Cena joined in by singing the last line from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, but Elias sucker punched Cena as he dissed Chicago and the Christmas holiday for being overrated.

·        Elias challenged Cena to a match which took place after the commercial break moments later.

·        John Cena defeated Elias with the AA in a decent match. Elias dominating 80% of the action got a little tedious down the stretch, but this was a nice spot for him to showcase his stuff against the biggest star in WWE. Elias has grown by leaps and bounds since his main roster call-up, but there is still room for improvement heading into 2018. His future is super bright versus the go away heat he received in NXT.

·        Kurt Angle announced two championship matches set for later tonight as Sheamus and Cesaro defend the Raw Tag Team Titles against the unlikely duo of Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan while Roman Reigns squares off against Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Championship.

·        Hideo Itami defeated The Brian Kendrick with the GTS in a decent match. Kendrick had a few hope spots, but the outcome was never in doubt. Itami should fit in the Cruiserweight Division if he rediscovers the fire that burned so brightly in Japan before the injury bug bit him during his run in NXT.

·        Absolution defeated Bayley, Mickie James, and Sasha Banks when Paige pinned Bayley with the Ram-Page in a good six-woman tag team match. The heels dominated the action early on with the best spot of the match taking place at ringside when Sonya Deville nailed Banks with a sick clothesline. Banks played the babyface in peril until she made the hot tag to Bayley.

·        Bayley and Paige went at it and appeared that Bayley had the match won when she dropped Paige with the Bayley-to-Belly, but Mandy Rose and Deville pulled their leader out of the ring before the referee counted the pinfall.

·        This led to a full-on melee which saw Banks and James take out Rose and Deville which allowed Bayley to take out Paige by herself. However, Paige outsmarted Bayley and pinned her clean as a sheet as the first hour of Raw came to an end.

·        The Chicago crowd cheering on Bayley put a smile on my face because her character has been put through the ringer over the past six months or so. Major market crowds have turned on her, but Chi-Town still showed the Hugger Extraordinaire some love because they can see through the bullshit booking. For that, I give them virtual air kisses and hugs for not being bamboozled.

·        Step one of Rhyno toughening up Heath Slater backfired when Kane defeated Slater with a Chokeslam in a quick match. Rhyno tried to avenge his tag team partner, but he ate Chokeslam as well. Season Beatings!

·        Curtin Hawkins’ losing streak now stands at 0-147 as Finn Bàlor pinned Hawkins with the Coup De Grace in a quick and decisive match.

·        Woken Matt Hardy unleashed his new character in front of a live audience for the first time when he attacked Bray Wyatt from behind. Hardy tried to nail Wyatt with the Twist of Fate, but the Eater of Worlds rolled out of the ring. Hardy grabbed the microphone and laughed manically as he led the crowd in a Delete chant while Wyatt looked on from the main stage. The Great War of 2018 is upon us. Yaaaaaaaassss!!!!

·        Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, and Akira Tozawa defeated Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, and Enzo Amore in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight when Alexander nailed Daivari with the Lumbar Check for the win. Christmas Trees, wrapped presents, candy canes, and cookie trays were used as weapons as the crowd ate up the holiday hijacks. It was a harmless and fun way to set up the Cruiserweight Championship match between Enzo and Alexander which takes place next week from Miami, Florida.

·        Nia Jaz and Enzo Amore were about to share a kiss under the mistletoe until Alexa Bliss cock blocked her best friend. Bah Humbug!

·        Samoa Joe defeated Roman Reigns via disqualification when Reigns kicked too much ass which caused the referee to ring the bell. Until the bullshit finish, Joe and Reigns were having a good match that featured hard-hitting action throughout.

·        Joe putting Reigns in the Coquina Clutch was the highlight of the match as the fans became unglued at the possible tap/pass out. Joe had the hold cinched in, but Reigns grabbed the rope to break the hold.

·        From there, Joe targeted Reigns’ left elbow as he dropped him with a tope which caused Reigns to slam into the barricade.

·        Reigns got back on offense by using his right hand to attacked Joe in the corner which resulted in the DQ moments later.

·        Reigns didn’t let up as he nailed Joe with a Superman Punch before hitting him in the shoulder with the steel steps. He nailed Joe with another Superman Punch at ringside and was about to finish him off by hitting him with a steel chair, but he hit the ring post instead as Joe moved out of the way to avoid certain doom.

·        Reigns wanted to avenge Dean Ambrose and almost succeeded by taking out Joe’s elbow. The Battle of the Badass Samoans will continue because Joe is due a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship after Reigns got intentionally disqualified. It should be a good one if no one gets DQ’d the second time around.

·        Braun Strowman destroyed Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in a Secret Santa match when Strowman pinned Dallas with a Running Powerslam. Axel suffered the same fate as Strowman gave everyone what they wanted 6X over. Have a Holly Jolly Strowmas!

·        Alexa Bliss cut a great promo about wanting credit for the women having the first-ever Royal Rumble match next month in Philly. Asuka came out and announced that she was entering and winning the Rumble because no one was ready for Asuka before kicking Bliss in the head. I guess the message sent and received accordingly.

·        Who says title changes can’t take place on Christmas. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan defeated Sheamus and Cesaro to become the NEW Raw Tag Team Champions when Jordan dropped Cesaro with an Elevated Neckbreaker for the win. This was a very good match that featured fast-paced and hard-hitting action throughout.

·        Rollins played the babyface in peril as The Bar isolated him from Jordan early on. Jordan tried to intervene, but Sheamus slammed him against the barricade which prevented Rollins from making the hot tag.

·        The crowd willed Jordan on his feet as he got back in the ring to attack Sheamus. This allowed Rollins to make the tag as Jordan cleaned house. Jordan was in a couple of near fall situations, but Rollins bailed him out of trouble. Rollins took out Sheamus by slamming him against the steel steps which led to the finish moments later.

·        Raw went off the air with Rollins and Jordan celebrating in the ring while Sheamus and Cesaro sulked on the floor as their 2017 came to a disappointing end.

·        This was an interesting title switch. One can assume that Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were going to win the Tag Team Titles until Ambrose’s elbow injury sidelined him for an unspecified period of time. Jordan being Ambrose’s surrogate should create an interesting dynamic heading into 2018. Jordan had no problem saying that he was better than Ambrose and proved it by winning his biggest match to date. Will he become an honorary Shield member or is he too vanilla to don the SWAT gear?

·        In all seriousness, don’t expect Jordan to change his less than innocent ways based on this title win. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and I expect the other shoe to drop sooner or later because WWE has been dropping hints that Jordan is not exactly the boy next door. The big reveal should be good if everything is executed properly. In the meantime, Angle is the doting father celebrating his son’s biggest win to date. All is right in the world. For now…

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was solid. It was a light and carefree show that featured good wrestling action throughout. WWE didn’t go overboard with the holiday hijinks as they kept the cornball comedy to a minimum. All in all, this was a nice way to spend Christmas night as a diehard wrestling fan.

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. Merry Christmas, boys and girls! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Binge Worthy Review: Marvel's the Defenders

Did you watch Marvel’s the Defenders? I did but unfortunately, not many others tuned in to this small screen superhero team up. For some reason, our small screen heroes have higher ratings in their series than they did together. Seems to be the opposite effect for these heroes on the big screen. Viewership for the next Avengers is sure to blow all the solo movies out of the water. But I’m not sure why seeing the Defenders wasn’t as rewarding for viewers.  So, let's pull this series apart and see where it shined and where it fell short.  From this moment on there will be SPOILERS ahead, and if you haven’t seen this show, maybe this review will persuade you to check it out.

First things first if you think you can jump right in with this show you’d be wrong and incredibly lost. Because I have watched all the series and I was still lost.  This show is very interconnected with each other which is great, but as a viewer that watches countless shows, you tend to forget somethings. Luckily it didn’t ruin the experience for me I just had to recall moments as I was watching the show.  So, if you haven’t watched each Hero’s solo series, I recommend that you do because they’ll all great. No, wait Jessica Jones and Daredevil were great from start to finish. Luke Cage and Iron Fist took a little while, but they’re overall great shows.

When it comes to any superhero show or film, there is always the big bad. And in this series our heroes you up against the hand.  No relation to the foot from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who are also ninjas who have been around for quite a while. 


Alright back to the hand which is a secret and very covert organization who have been around for centuries. And who have found ways to outrun death. So apparently the leader is none other than Sigourney Weaver. She is close to death and has put all her cards and hopes on the Black Sky who is, Elektra. We also see the other members from the hand who have popped up in the other series.  And are now joining together to destroy an entire city. And the only ones around to stop them are some street level heroes known as the Defenders.  So, with that bit of background let’s talk about some of the highlights of the series and what to expect next for these heroes.


The number one thing this series did well was the choreographed group fight scenes. They all highlighted each of the heroes and got better as the series progressed because the heroes started coming together and fighting better as a team. We already know there all bad-ass individuals, but it was refreshing to see them as a bad-ass team. 
My favorite scene with them together would have to be the one in the Chinese restaurant. Jessica Jones kicks it off with ramming into the restaurant with a car and knocking out Elektra. She has been kicking the Defenders asses up to till this point.


I will say that Elektra was one of the standout characters in this series. Each scene she was in was binge-worthy goodness.  She was so unpredictable and kicking ass at every turn. I mean she was in the most shocking moment of the show where she straight up kills the big bad Sigourney Weaver. And then she takes over has the big bad in the show.


Our heroes in the show were great, and I loved the dynamic between Iron Fist and Luke Cage.
The only thing I didn't care for was the way Karen and Foggy were hero shaming Daredevil. What I mean by hero shamming is that the entire time things were going down they didn’t want him to get involved. They wanted him to give up Daredevil and remain Matt Murdock. But what they don’t understand is that the two are one in the same. The beginning of the series shows how miserable he is after no donning the suit for months. Because he shut off a piece of himself and when he puts the suit on again he is complete. His whole demeanor changes and he is pumped to kick some hand ninja ass.

In the end, our heroes defeat the hand but not without some casualties.  Misty losses a hand in the last battle.  And Daredevil and Elektra are presumed dead. But the final credits show Daredevil healing up in some place that will probably be revealed in the next season of Daredevil. Luke Cage will have to battle against Shades and Mariah to protect Harlem. Iron Fist will have to reinvent what it means to be the Iron Fist and what is his new purpose. Jessica Jones will be on a journey to decipher how she got her abilities.  I will say that this show kicked off some interesting things to come in our heroes upcoming series.  Overall, I will give this show a 4 out of 5 stars. I encourage you to go and find out what makes this show binge-worthy.

Photo Credit: theodysseyonline.com, Den of Geek.com, gizmodo.com.au, My Everyday Lifestyle.com, Comics Verse.com, CinemaBlend.com, Pure Fandom.com

Created by: Jasmine Yard

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The SmackDown Files: Like Sands Through The Hourglass, So Are The Days of Our Rusev (12-12-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s the go-home show for Clash of Champions which takes place this Sunday from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Every championship will be defended along with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s careers being on the line as they face Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton in a tag team match with Shane McMahon serving as the special guest referee.

Daniel Bryan wasn’t thrilled with McMahon inserting himself in the match which might cause Bryan to make some power moves of his own in order to seize control from his boss. Is Bryan on the verge of joining the dark side of the force or will he find his moral compass in the nick of time? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.  

·        Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn wearing “Yep! Yep! Yep!” t-shirts in the style and vein of Daniel Bryan’s vintage “Yes! Yes! Yes!” shirt is awesome.

·        The Singh Brothers offered their professional services to AJ Styles after Jinder Mahal beat them up two weeks ago when they failed to beat Styles in a 2-on-1 handicap match.

·        The Singh Brothers talked about how Mahal mistreated them when it came to subpar flight/hotel accommodations, confusing them for being identical twins by forcing them to wear the same clothes and kissing his smelly feet.

·        Styles did a great job egging them on as he revealed a photo of Singh One and Singh Two still pledging their allegiance to Mahal during a live event in India this past week. He saw through their ruse and proceeded to kick their ass as Mahal looked on from ringside. Styles invited Mahal to get in the ring, but the modern-day Maharajah backed down to check on his minions as the opening segment came to an end with the Phenomenal One standing tall.

·        This was a fun way to start the show. The Singh Brothers were entertaining on the mic while Styles did a great job no-selling their sob story. The creative team taking the comedic route five days before Styles’ WWE Championship title defense against Mahal was an interesting choice, but it was harmless for the most part. Here’s hoping their feud culminates with a Styles win on Sunday because the Mahal Experiment was more miss than hit despite him getting more comfortable as a main eventer in recent months.

·        Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott ended via disqualification after Natalya clotheslined Charlotte at ringside. The Riot Squad continued their attack on Charlotte and was about to slam her face first underneath the steel steps when Naomi made the save. Naomi delivered an insane double dropkick to Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan before going after Riott with a series of sick forearms before laying her out with The Rearview.

·        The Riot Squad tried to escape, but they were greeted with a sneak attack from Carmella, Tamina, and Lana which tips the scales heading into the SmackDown Women’s Championship Lumberjack Match between Charlotte and Natalya at Clash of Champions.

·        Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler ended via disqualification when Bobby Roode dropped Ziggler with a Glorious DDT. Corbin suffered the same fate as this was a nice callback to Ziggler doing the same thing to Roode and Corbin last week. This was an okay way to the hype their Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship at Clash of Champions.

·        The Bludgeon Brothers destroyed the team of Colin Delaney and Joe Monroe when Harper pinned Delaney with the Double Chokeslam. The highlight of the match was Monroe’s outstanding facial expressions and high pitched scream when Harper dropped him with a Powerbomb. I think WWE has found the next James Ellsworth. They need to sign that man to a contract. Stat!

·        Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s Yep Movement paid dividends when Daniel Bryan announced that he would be the second special guest referee in Owen and Zayn’s match against Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton. With Shane McMahon vowing to fire KO and Zayn if they lose, will Bryan tip the scales of power by willing his former buddies to victory? We shall find out soon enough.

·        Aiden English and Rusev defeated The Usos when English pinned Jey Uso with a DDT in a solid match. English and Rusev are riding a wave of momentum heading into Clash of Champions as they face The New Day, Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, and The Usos in a Fatal 4-Way Match for SmackDown Tag Team Titles. This could be a show stealer if everything goes according to plan.

·        Jinder Mahal attacked AJ Styles backstage and warned Styles that he wouldn’t overcome the odds on Sunday. Based on Styles staring at the lights five days before a PPV, booking suggests that he retain the WWE Championship on Sunday. I think…

·        Kevin Owens defeated Shinsuke Nakamura with a Popup Powerbomb in a very good main event match. However, the night ended on a controversial note when Daniel Bryan inserted himself in the match to count the pinfall. Owens inadvertently knocked out the first ref which caused Bryan to intervene down the stretch. Nakamura had Owens pinned for the win, but Bryan took a pregnant pause before getting in the ring to make the count.

·        Randy Orton and Sami Zayn brawled inside the ring as Bryan gave them leeway to fight it out. Zayn poked Orton in the eyes at ringside and tried to distract Nakamura when he had Owens in position for the Kinshasa. Nakamura pushed Zayn off the ring apron, but the diversion gave Owens enough time to hit his finisher for the 1-2-3.

·        SD Live went off the air with Owens and Zayn celebrating on the main stage while Byron Saxton proclaimed that the fix was in heading into the PPV on Sunday with Bryan in KO and Zayn’s back pocket.

·        Saxton was pushing the narrative that Bryan was stepping on Shane McMahon’s toes by naming himself with second special guest referee without talking to his superior first. Bryan downplayed the issue by noting that WWE is in the business of doing the unexpected and vowed to work with McMahon during the week to determine how they’re going to officiate the tag team match on Sunday.

·        Saxton was relentless towards Bryan on commentary which means only one thing…Swerve Alert! When WWE tries to hammer an angle to the point that the outcome is damn near academic, expect the opposite to happen. Bryan has been hinting at joining the dark side of the force in recent weeks. With Saxton accusing Bryan of being corrupt based on his actions during the main event, one can assume that Bryan is poised to turn heel at Clash of Champions.

·        However, WWE history suggests that it’s usually the other around when it comes to heel turns. Shane McMahon has been power hungry as of late. His thirst for revenge might ring true, but he’s a McMahon which makes inherently evil by default. Is there a greater scheme at play? Will Saxton’s conspiracy theory about Bryan come to fruition? The answers to these questions can be found on the WWE Network this Sunday. It should be an interesting night, to say the least. Get your popcorn ready!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode was middling at best. The go-home show for Clash of Champions featured good hype for the key matches, but it didn’t make me more excited for the PPV on Sunday. The in-ring quality was so-so with two matches ending via disqualification in consecutive segments. It made sense from a storyline standpoint, but it lacked creativity in the grand scheme of things.

·        The main event salvaged saved the show which makes me excited for the tag team match featuring Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan serving as special guest referees. I highly doubt that Owens and Zayn are going to be fired from WWE which means one of the special refs is going rogue. Based on what happened tonight, my money’s on Shane-O-Mac to do the honors. We shall see how it all plays out, but expect a jaw-dropping conclusion that will leave the wrestling world buzzing.

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, December 11, 2017

The Raw Exposé: WWE Presents - Monster Mash III Starring Kane, Braun Strowman, and Brock Lesnar (AKA The Threequel From Hell)

By: Keila Cash

Location: Quicken Loans Arena (The Q)
State and City: Cleveland, Ohio (AKA: LeBron James Country)

·        Samoa Joe kicked off Raw by calling out Roman Reigns. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were watching Joe’s promo from backstage as Ambrose ran off to find Reigns.

·        Joe continued to goad Reigns into a fight as he bragged about costing Ambrose and Rollins the Raw Tag Team Championship last week. He ruined The Shield’s chance of becoming a dominant force that holds all the gold in WWE. Reigns joined his Shield brothers backstage and told them that he would handle Joe on his own.

·        Reigns came down to the ring to fight Joe as the crowd popped for the confrontation. Reigns had things under control until Cesaro and Sheamus jumped him from behind. The ambush allowed Joe to lock Reigns in the Coquina Clutch as Rollins and Ambrose ran down to make the save.

·        The numbers game got the best of them as Sheamus and Cesaro laid Rollins out with the White Noise/Diving Neckbreaker before Joe dropped Ambrose with an Urnage as the opening segment came to an end with the heels standing tall in the ring.

·        This was a hot way to start the show. Samoa Joe cut a great promo explaining why he wasn’t intimidated by The Shield. Joe’s confidence was valid because he injured Seth Rollins’ knee the night after the Royal Rumble while Dean Ambrose was too scared to fight him like a man.

·        Joe put Roman Reigns to sleep more times than he could count which demonstrated his dominance on the main roster this year.

·        Therefore. The Black Sheep didn’t need backup in order get ahead. *cough* Bullshit… *cough*

·        Heels lie, but Joe still looked strong as he laid out The Shield thanks to an assist from The Bar. This was a nice way to set up the trio of matches set for later tonight featuring Joe vs. Ambrose, Rollins vs. Sheamus, and Reigns vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Championship.

·        Paige and Mandy Rose defeated Mickie James and Bayley when Rose pinned James after Paige kicked her in the head behind the referee’s back. The match was solid as Paige’s offense was crisper versus her so-so outing against Sasha Banks last week.

·        Absolution continues to dominate the women’s division, but the scripting of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville needs to be overhauled ASAP. Paige needs to be the spokeswoman for the group. She has the charisma and presence to pull off WWE Speak than the NXT upstarts who have little experience in that department outside of their various promo classes at the Performance Center. They will get better in time, but they should stick to kicking ass instead of talking trash because it leaves the audience cold.

·        WOKEN Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are raging a war that will see Woken Matt face off against the pilot embodying the spirit of Sister Abigail. Hardy mooing like a cow while cackling at the same time made me laugh to no end. Week two of the WOKEN Experiment is a success!

·        Finn Bàlor defeated Curtis Axel with the Coup De Grace in a quick match. Axel and Bo Dallas double teamed Bàlor before the bell rang, but Bàlor overcame the odds and pulled out the win. Who knew beating The Miztourage was such hard work? *Insert Sarcasm Here*

·        Seth Rollins defeated Sheamus with the King’s Landing/Ripcord Knee in a gritty match. Sheamus targeted Rollins left knee which caused Rollins to work with one leg midway through the bout.

·        Rollins sold the knee beautifully as he dropped Sheamus with a Superplex from the top rope followed by the Falcon’s Arrow while favoring the left knee at the same time. He tried to make the cover, but he couldn’t get the three-count because he was clutching his knee to numb the pain.

·        Sheamus got back on offense and was about to win the match with the Brogue Kick when Rollins countered with a Superkick followed by the Running Knee Strike for the win.

·        This was a strong match that the fans got into towards the end. Kudos to both men for a job well done.

·        The Second Chance Fatal Four Way match featuring Cedric Alexander, Tony Nese, Mustafa Ali, and Ariya Daivari ended with Alexander pinning Daivari with the Lumbar Check in a good match. Alexander will face Drew Gulak next week to determine the number one contender for Enzo Amore’s Cruiserweight Championship.

·        The match was fast-paced and hard-hitting throughout, but it lacked crowd heat. The audience has no reason to care about Alexander and Ali going at it unless they watch 205 Live on a regular basis. The standing Spanish Fly into a Lumber Check was the hottest spot of the match, but it still didn’t get the crowd on its feet. Until the wrestlers develop fleshed out personalities that grabs the audience’s on an emotional level, the apathy towards the Cruiserweight Division will continue which sucks considering the world-class talent involved.

·        However, an honorary mention goes to Drew Gulak for deflecting Michael Cole’s questions about beating Enzo for the Cruiserweight Title. Gulak dodged the issue like Neo from The Matrix. His sharp wit is refreshing which makes him stand out from the pack. He is a star on the rise who can get over if he’s given the chance to do so.

·        The burgeoning romance between Nia Jax and Enzo Amore continues. Drew Gulak being a part of the zaniness is the cherry on top.

·        Roman Reigns defeated Cesaro with the Spear to retain the Intercontinental Championship in a very good match. This was another bout where the heel targeted a body part as Cesaro went after Reigns’ right arm. Cesaro locked him in various armbars in order to gain the advantage.

·        Reigns powered through and got back on offense when he dropped Cesaro with a Powerbomb. He went for the Superman Punch, but Cesaro blocked him by targeting his arm. He nailed him with a sick European Uppercut for a near fall, but it wasn’t enough to put away Reigns.

·        Cesaro let his emotions get the best of him when he drilled Reigns with a series of uppercuts in the corner. The referee had to break things up which led to the finish moments later.

·        The Roman Reigns Intercontinental Championship Invitational rolls on with The Big Dog still holding the gold. For now…

·        Here’s my match tracker ranking Reigns’ IC Title defenses so far:

·        Reigns vs. Jordan > Reigns vs. Elias < Reigns vs. Cesaro.

·        Asuka’s match against Alicia Fox never took place because Absolution attacked Fox backstage.

·        After giving Asuka a pass over the past couple of weeks, Paige gave Asuka the chance to step aside or get pushed aside by Absolution. The Empress of Tomorrow stood her ground and was kicking Absolution’s ass until the numbers game caught up with her.

·        Paige was about to drop Asuka with the Ram Paige when Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, and Alexa Bliss ran out to make the save.

·        Paige & Company are formidable as a trio, but they couldn’t withstand a seven-on-three beat down. For one night, the women’s locker room joined forces for the greater good. Don’t expect the warm and fuzzies to last long because egos will inevitably get in the way of keeping the peace long-term.

·        Samoa Joe made Dean Ambrose pass out to the Coquina Clutch thanks to an unlikely assist from Jason Jordan. Jordan was watching the match from ringside and decided to get an up-close look at the action as he made his way down ringside.

·        The action spilled to the outside as Jordan tossed Ambrose back in the ring to help him pick up the win via count out.

·        Joe put Jordan in the Coquina Clutch, but Ambrose broke things up with a dive through the ropes which took out both men.

·        Ambrose tossed Joe back in the ring and laid him out with an elbow from the top rope. Ambrose had the match won, but Jordan distracted the referee which gave Joe enough time to kick out at two (or seven).

·        Ambrose rolled out of the ring to confront Jordan. Jordan was about to drop the Lunatic Fringe with a Suplex until Joe laid out both men with a dive of his own before putting Ambrose to sleep for the win.

·        Samoa Joe’s plan wasn’t a total fail as he managed to save the night by taking care of Ambrose. Jordan continues to straddle the fence when it comes to his good intentions, but his true motive remains suspect as he cost Ambrose the match by “accident.”

·        After last week’s shaky performance, Jordan is starting to click as a quasi-heel that gets under the crowd’s skin for all the right reasons while Kurt Angle remains oblivious to his son’s less than noble actions as of late.

·        Braun Strowman vs. Kane ended via double count-out after both men failed to get back in the ring before the count of ten. Strowman and Kane were having a decent match that spilled into the crowd while the referee was counting.

·        Strowman slammed Kane through the barricade which led to the disappointing finish. The fans booed, but both monsters won them over when they continued the fight at ringside.

·        There was a steel steeps duel which saw Kane suffer the brunt of the hit. Strowman introduced a table to the proceedings as the crowd popped something fierce.

·        He set up the table, but Kane nailed him with a chair shot to the knee before nailing him several chair shots to the back.

·        Strowman fought back which resulted in both men taking a breather. Kane sat up first, but Strowman channeled his inner Undertaker by sitting up moments later as the Big Red Machine looked on in shock.

·        Kane tried to chokeslam Strowman, but the Monster Among Men countered as he put Kane through the table with a Running Powerslam.

·        Raw went off the air with Strowman standing tall while Corey Graves wondered who will face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble next month.

·        Based on the finish, I expect Kurt Angle to book a Triple Threat Match between Kane, Strowman, and Lesnar for the Universal Title. It makes sense despite Strowman and Lesnar having a less than stellar match at the No Mercy PPV a few months ago. Kane is a wild card, but I don’t expect this match to set the world on fire outside of a few power spots.

·        Finn Bàlor was sacrificed at the altar for this smorgasbord of ridiculata. Considering Joe’s dominating performance at Great Balls of Fire earlier this year, he’s more deserving of a rematch than the two resident monsters of WWE. Unless an 11th-hour decision is made next week, Monster Mash III is going down at the Royal Rumble next month. Oh, joy! *Insert Sarcasm Here*

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. The in-ring action was strong throughout the night which had a better flow from start to finish versus last week’s show. Every segment had a purpose which forwarded several storylines heading into the end of the year.

·        WWE is delaying Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Championship which is smart since they have a lot of time between now and the Royal Rumble. Jason Jordan continues to stick his nose in their business which adds an extra wrinkle to their feud.

·        Meanwhile, Woken Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt continue to entertain which should lead to the Great War of 2018 if everything goes according to plan.

·        Sheamus and Cesaro & Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins will eventually settle their score while a certain duo waits in the wings to strike. No Flips, Just Fists…

·        Absolution got a dose of their own medicine when the numbers game caught up to them, but don’t expect the rest of the women’s locker room to play nice for long because the heel to face ratio is still unbalanced.

·        These moving parts are keeping Raw afloat as the march towards the 25th Anniversary special rolls on. I’m not a huge fan of Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Championship against Kane or Braun Strowman at the Royal Rumble, but it shouldn’t be too bad if it makes sense from a booking standpoint. Finn Bàlor deserves the shot more, but that ship has sailed because he’s not OVER enough. Le sigh!

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!