Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The SmackDown Files: Year Of The American Dragon - Welcome To Rebirth of Daniel Bryan (3-20-2018)

By: Keila Cash

Date: 3-20-2018
Location: American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. (Night 2 of 2)
The Ultimate Deletion of The Raw Exposé: My apologies for not posting last night’s Raw Review. Severe weather prevented me from finishing it on time, but I’m back to give my fellow readers their Tuesday Night Fix.
Comeback of the Decade: Daniel Bryan. Enough said.

·         SmackDown Live got off to a hot start with Daniel Bryan explaining his amazing return to in-ring competition. Bryan cut a heartfelt promo about how Brie encouraged him to see specialist after specialist in order to get back in the ring. When he was angry or depressed, she pushed him to fight for his dreams.

·         The fans hung on to every word Bryan said as they showered him with “Yes!” chants. Bryan thanked WWE and their medical team for having his best interests at heart by viewing him as a person instead of a wrestler. He thanked Brie for pushing him to chase after a dream he thought was unreachable a couple of years ago. He thanked the fans for always having his back before wrapping up the opening segment by teasing his in-ring return at WrestleMania.

·         This was a great way to kick off the show. Daniel Bryan is one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time and it’s amazing that he gets to do what he loves once again. It’s been a long journey, but the wait has been worth it. Bryan’s authenticity makes him stand out from the pack as one of the most relatable and lovable babyfaces in WWE history. This a major game changer that will shake up the world of professional wrestling in 2018. The dream matches are endless and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

·         Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev with an Inside Cradle in a solid match. The bout was too short for my taste, but the action was good while it lasted. The finishing sequence was especially strong with Rusev ducking several of Nakamura’s kicks until he got caught with a jumping Armbar in a great spot. Rusev tried to counter with a roll-up, but Nakamura countered the counter which set up the finish moments later.

·         After the match was over, Aiden English attacked Nakamura from behind as AJ Styles looked on from ringside. Rusev joined in on the beat down as Styles took his time getting in the ring. However, The Phenomenal One’s services weren’t needed as Nakamura made quick work of Rusev and English.

·         Styles and Nakamura had a funny confrontation backstage as Nakamura told Styles that he shouldn’t lack confidence heading into their WWE Championship match at WrestleMania. The delivery of that line was hilarious as Nakamura reminded Styles that he was going to knee him in the face in three weeks.

·         Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger with End of Days in a short and sloppy match. This was a random bout that was thrown together without any rhyme or reason. The fans didn’t care because both men have been stuck in mid-card hell for months with no sign of escape in sight. It’s sad but true.

·         Natalya defeated Charlotte with a roll-up thanks to a failed Money in the Bank cash-in attempt by Carmella. Charlotte and Natalya were having a really good match that was on the verge of being one of the best television bouts of the year until the controversial finish.

·         Natalya dropped Charlotte with a beautiful Superplex from the top rope. Both ladies were down for the count when Carmella ran down to the ring with another referee in tow. She told the ref that she was ready to cash-in her briefcase. Charles Robinson never rang the bell to make the second match official which allowed Charlotte to nail Carmella with a boot to the face. However, the distraction allowed Natalya to roll-up Charlotte for the win.

·         This seemed like an elaborate ruse by the heels, but I wanted the match to have a more definitive finish because Natalya and Charlotte were putting on a show until things ended on a flat note. Here’s hoping there’s a rematch because Charlotte needs to get her win back heading into her SmackDown Women’s Championship Match against Asuka at WrestleMania.

·         Luke Harper defeated Jimmy Uso with the Discus Clothesline in a decent match. It appeared that Harper was going to eat his first loss after Jey Uso nailed him with a Superkick behind the referee’s back. Jimmy followed things up with a Superkick of his own for a near fall. Jimmy climbed up to the top turnbuckle, but Harper slammed his head into the ring post which set up the aforementioned finish. The Bludgeon Brothers continue to claim victims heading into their presumed Triple Threat Match against The Usos and The New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania.

·         Jinder Mahal, Bobby Roode, and Randy Orton had a pointless conversation about their Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship at WrestleMania. The segment came to a head when Orton dropped Sunil Singh with a Draping DDT before Roode laid Singh out with the Glorious DDT. Roode went after Orton and almost got nailed with an RKO while Mahal looked on at ringside. Mahal reminded both men that he would see them at Mania as the segment came to an end. This feud sucks. The end.

·         Becky Lynch and Naomi defeated Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan when Lynch made Logan tap out the Dis-Arm-Her. The match was fine, but it was nothing to write home about for the most part.

·         The final segment of SD Live featured Daniel Bryan admonishing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for what they did to Shane McMahon last week. Bryan wondered why Owens and Zayn attacked McMahon after he booked them in a match against each other at WrestleMania before taking an indefinite leave of absence as SD Live Commissioner. They won the battle and should’ve been thrilled that arch nemesis was going on sabbatical. Instead, they beat up Shane like a government mule and laughed about it afterward. Bryan noted that this was no laughing matter. After much consideration, Bryan fired KO and Zayn. He told them that they could learn something from this experience and come back someday, but their journey as WWE Superstars was over for now.

·         Bryan tried to end things amicably by shaking Owens and Zayn’s hand. Both men were gracious, but their true colors showed when they ambushed Bryan. For the first time in two years, Bryan fought back and delivered his signature running dropkicks to both men as the crowd popped something fierce. Bryan dropped Zayn with a German Suplex before delivering his classic “Yes!” kicks to Owens. Zayn got back in the ring and attacked Bryan which spelled the end of Bryan’s flurry of offense.

·         Owens held Bryan in the corner as Zayn nailed him with the Helluva Kick. The refs tried to break things up, but it was to no avail as Owens dropped Bryan with a Popup Powerbomb on the ring apron as SD Live came to end with medical personnel putting Bryan on a stretcher while Owens and Zayn pitched a fit on the main stage.

·         This was a tremendous way to end the show. Seeing Daniel Bryan take bumps for the first time in almost three years is an amazing sight to see. His brief flurry of offense was great and I admire him for trying to deliver those dropkicks in tight jeans. That is not an easy feat, but he pulled off with the greatest of ease.

·         Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were pitch perfect as they tried to kiss up to Bryan before he dropped the hammer on them. Owens and Zayn were conflicted, but that didn’t stop them from unleashing holy hell on Bryan. They were textbook heels through and through as the fans chanted “You’re Still Fired” to hilarious effect.

·         Despite what happened, I have a feeling that KO and Zayn’s firing will be overturned because Bryan and Shane McMahon are going to face them in a tag team match at WrestleMania. New Orleans is going to be LIT!

·         Overall, I thought this was the best episode of SmackDown Live this year. Daniel Bryan being medically cleared to wrestle is a dream come true. Bryan’s heartfelt promo set the tone for the evening and his beat down capped off an emotional night that won’t soon be forgotten.

·         The in-ring action was so-so, but Charlotte and Natalya win best match of the night honors despite the shitty finish. Everything else on the show was okay, but WWE is doing a nice job hyping the top matches on the SD Live side of the WrestleMania card.

·         Mania is going to be a stacked show with too many top-flight matches to count on one hand. This could be one the greatest WMs of all time. I don’t know if New Orleans has some magic dust, but they have been blessed with two stellar cards over the past four years. Let’s hope that the show lives up to the hype because it has the potential to be a memorable night for all the right reasons.

·         Next week’s penultimate episode of SD Live emanates from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steel City crowd should have no reason to sit on their hands with Daniel Freaking Bryan back on the active roster. If that’s not a good enough reason to get hyped, those fans should have their wrestling fan cards revoked. Just saying…

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 another installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The SmackDown Files: Welcome to Shane McMahon's Going Away Party From Hell (3-13-2018)

By: Keila Cash

Date: 3-13-2018
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana

·        SmackDown Live kicked off with AJ Styles talking about overcoming the odds in order to walk into WrestleMania WWE Champion. Styles’ road to New Orleans hit some speed bumps, but he managed to navigate the waters to ensure that his dream match against Shinsuke Nakamura came true. The fans started up the always annoying “You Deserve It” chant, but The Phenomenal One said that he earned it which makes him even more likable. He respected Nakamura and admitted that their respective paths to WWE were similar, but the similarities came to an end because Styles was the Champ.

·        Nakamura came out and shared the same sentiment, but vowed to make his dream come true at Mania by kneeing Styles in the face in order to become WWE Champion. Styles and Nakamura went face-to-face, but Rusev and Aiden English made their way to the ring to put the kibosh on any physical confrontation as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a good way to start the show. Styles was the humble babyface thankful for everything he’s earned in order to reach the pinnacle of WWE while Nakamura is ready to knock him off his perch at WrestleMania. This is a lock to be a great match, but there needs to more tension between both men to ensure that this bout lives up to the hype next month. The creative team doesn’t have to do anything batshit crazy, but I expect tempers to boil over sooner or later.

·        AJ Styles defeated Rusev via disqualification when Aiden English saved Rusev from tapping out the Calf Crusher. Before the DQ finish, Styles and Rusev were having a good match that featured hard-hitting action throughout. Rusev has had an impressive week in the ring despite eating a couple of high profile losses. Hopefully, this is leading up to an Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal victory at WrestleMania because Rusev Day is going to be one of the most over things on the PPV. If not, my faith in WWE will take another kick to the gut.

·        English and Rusev double-teamed Styles while Shinsuke Nakamura sat at ringside watching the beat down unfold as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Nakamura stood up, but he still took his time getting in the ring before making the save. He laid out the heels as Styles recovered in the corner. Nakamura bid his Mania opponent adieu as the segment came to an end.

·        As I mentioned earlier, the Mutual Admiration Society between Styles and Nakamura can only last for so long. This was a nice way to build tension between them without going too over the top. Let’s hope WWE keeps it simple because overcomplicating things might water down the hype for this dream match at WM.

·        The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Jimmy Uso and Big E when Rowan pinned Jimmy Uso with the double chokeslam in a solid match. Jimmy and Big E put up a good fight, but Harper and Rowan were too much to handle on this night.

·        Harper added insult to injury when he charged into the barricade while Big E was leaning against it. Rowan did further damage when he laid out E with a cross body before the duo headed backstage with their mallets in tow. This was another impressive performance by two of the baddest men on SD Live. Rowan and Harper are in the thick of the Tag Team Title chase heading into WrestleMania, but the field is crowded as The Usos still want to keep the division on lockdown while The New Day attempts to become five-time Tag Team Champs. I smell a Triple Threat Match in NOLA. Just a hunch…

·        Charlotte and Asuka exchanged words about being the best heading into their SmackDown Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania. It was a nice repartee that wasn’t over scripted in nature. How refreshing!

·        Jinder Mahal defeated Bobby Roode with the Khallas thanks to an assist from Sunil Singh. Singh climbed on the ring apron to distract Roode, but The Glorious One shoved him against the ring post before heading to the top rope. However, the diversion gave Mahal enough time to knock Roode off the turnbuckle which set up the finish moments later.

·        Mahal didn’t get a chance to celebrate the win because Randy Orton laid him out with an RKO. This is another Triple Threat Match in the making because all three men have an outstanding beef over the idiotic SD Live Top Ten List and United States Championship. This is the weakest feud heading into WrestleMania, but the work rate should be fine considering the talent involved.

·        Carmella defeated Naomi with a rollup in a decent match. Carmella channeled her inner Liv Morgan by becoming a windmill dodging Naomi’s kicks until she got kneed in the face. Naomi went for the Springboard Enzuigiri, but Carmella kicked her off the middle rope and yanked her hair first onto the mat to pick up the win. Ms. Money the Bank is on a winning streak heading into the heart of WrestleMania season. Color me pleasantly surprised.

·        Shane McMahon announced that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence as SD Live Commissioner, but he made sure to make a WrestleMania announcement before saying farewell. McMahon booked Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a one-on-one match at WrestleMania as a way to stick it to his long time enemies. Owens was happy to defeat his best friend at the grandest stage of them all, but he could do that at any time. Zayn felt the same way about Owens before focusing his attention on Shane for sucking up to the fans because they wanted to see him and KO rip each other apart at Mania. Zayn decided to give Shane-O-Mac a parting gift by attacking him from behind.

·        Owens joined in on the beat down as they attacked up Shane despite the Commish putting up a good fight. Zayn nailed Shane with the Helluva Kick before Owens finished him off with a Popup Powerbomb.

·        WWE officials tried to break things up, but Owens attacked them as well which should lead to a fine or suspension. Zayn grabbed a steel chair from the timekeeper’s area and wrapped it around Shane’s neck before slamming him into the ring post in a sick spot. KO and Zayn dragged Shane backstage and did even more damage as Owens dropped him with another Powerbomb onto a metal grate as Shane gasped for air.

·        One of the refs managed to shoo Owens and Zayn away as SD Live went off the air with medical personnel tending to Shane.

·        This was a great way to end the show. Shane McMahon got his ass kicked and I expect some crazy ass match at WrestleMania involving him, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. It will be an unorthodox match because it’s two-on-one but it should be very interesting, to say the least.

·        A part of me thinks Daniel Bryan is secretly giddy about his boss getting destroyed by his former Ring of Honor buddies. Bryan’s reaction to what happened should make for some good television next week. Will he be pissed off or elated that he doesn’t have to answer to a McMahon anymore? This storyline has been simmering since late last year. Will the big reveal finally happen with three weeks to go until WrestleMania? We shall find out soon enough.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The shoe was bookended by major segments taking place at the top and bottom of each hour. From that respect, WWE hit a home run promoting the major title matches on the SD Live side of the WrestleMania card. The Shane McMahon-Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn saga is this year’s obligatory blood feud which gives them special billing because their storyline has the most longevity despite things hitting a lull in terms of excitement over the past couple of months.

·        The rest of the show featured so-so wrestling with AJ Styles vs. Rusev winning match of the night honors despite the disqualification finish. The rest of the in-ring action was middling which watered down the crowd heat in Indianapolis during the second hour. Things got better during the main event segment, but the creative team needs to put together a cohesive two-hour program during the height of WrestleMania season. Every week should be must-see TV. There were glimmers of that tonight, but WWE has to push through the noise and deliver the goods over the next three weeks. Let’s hope they 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 girl! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Raw Exposé: Special Edition - Hey Pretty Girls...The Revolution Is Being Televised (3-12-2018)

By: Keila Cash 

I’ve been blessed to have several platforms to speak my mind as a wrestling fan over the past five years. Whether it’s via my blog or podcast, it’s been an honor to connect with fans all over the world to talk about the craziness of WWE. Normally, I use this space to talk about the highs and lows of Monday Night Raw. However, a segment that aired tonight has some fans on social media pissed off and I wondered if their feelings were justifiable. Did they blow things out of proportion or is there something at work that needs to be addressed on a larger scale?

Before the segment in question took place, Asuka and Mickie James had a match that was pretty good for the most part. The in-ring action was clean and crisp, but the Detroit fans took it upon themselves to chant for Rusev and CM Punk. So much for a Women’s Revolution. Two women kicking ass and they get treated like shit. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the anger? Fans will be fans is what the consensus says. I don’t buy that. Despite the strides that have been made over the past couple of years, we still have a long way to go to ensure that the women are respected on the same level as the men.

Speaking of respect, this brings us to the main event. No, I’m not talking about Braun Strowman winning a Tag Team Battle Royal for no apparent reason. The main course is Nia Jax getting fat-shamed by Alexa Bliss and Mickie James on national television.

At first, I thought nothing of the segment because Bliss and James were using Jax for their own purposes. Bliss compared Jax to Shrek which elicited quite the response from some fans on social media. Once again, watching it unfold in real time didn’t bother me because the tea was being spilled for the world to see from a storyline standpoint.

Charly Caruso had to remind Alexa and Mickie that they were talking into a live boom mic which meant that everyone could hear their not-so-private conversation. Realizing that their hands were caught in the cookie jar, the Mean Girls decided to run for the hills before Jax caught up to them.

Nia stormed into the dressing room and tore shit up as the segment came to an end.

As a fan, I enjoyed the segment because Alexa got exposed for being a fake ass friend. Nia found out that her so-called bestie was a liar which sets up their Raw Women’s Championship Match at WrestleMania next month. Everyone played their part well which should make most fans excited to see Nia get her hands on Alexa next week in Dallas.

Usually, I refrain from reading social media during the show because I don’t want my judgment to be clouded. However, it’s good to test the temperature on the internet streets to see whether a certain segment was a hit or a miss.

The reaction ranged from comedic to dead ass serious. Some viewed it as Nia finally learning the truth to others calling out WWE for fat-shaming one of their stars. Most importantly, the people doing the bullying have been teased in the past about their weight in both the real and fictional sense.

Mickie James was the punchline in one of the most tasteless storylines in WWE history when Michelle McCool and Layla called her Piggie James over and over again during the late 2000s. There were visual graphics and other assorted nonsense that rubbed fans the wrong way. It was hard to watch because making fun of someone’s physical appearance is never cool and it seemed as if some people in upper management were getting their rocks off at James’ expense.

The storyline tainted the end of James’ first run in the company. She had a memorable tenure in TNA and is a future WWE Hall of Famer because she’s an awesome wrestler who rose above the bullshit while staying true to herself.

In Alexa Bliss’ case, she has been very public about her eating disorder over the past several years. Bliss never shied away from the subject which speaks to her bravery and ability to connect with fans that are dealing with their own weight issues. Seeing both ladies take part in a segment that hits a little too close to home is a hard pill to swallow in hindsight.

However, they are playing a role on television. If WWE is in the business of making movies every week, this was simply another scene being played out for the world to see. Is it classless? Is it a good enough reason to boycott the company because they’ve gone too far? If Triple H humping a mannequin didn’t kill my fandom, this storyline barely registers on the Richter scale.

Fat shaming is very common on social media these days. Whether you are famous or not, trolls will pick apart your imperfections because they have nothing better to do. Paige has defended herself against people who called her fat on Twitter and Instagram over the past couple of weeks. Paige has also been very open about her eating disorder over the past few months. Some fans were right to express their concern about her being too skinny. Now that she’s back to her normal weight, she is considered “too fat.” It’s a vicious cycle that never ends, but Paige is proud of her body and is not afraid to give people the middle finger because she is too blessed to be stressed.

Nia Jax was a plus-size model before joining WWE in 2013. Her curves put money in the bank, but she’s been ridiculed for her size as well. Over the past year, she has embraced every inch and curve on her body while enabling others to do the same. Jax has been presented as a badass since her call up to the main roster in 2016. She’s still green as a wrestler, but she has grown by leaps and bounds. Most importantly, the fans are starting to connect with her because she is a force of nature that you don’t want to mess with.

She’s powerful. She’s beautiful. She’s brave. She represents me and those who wish to live vicariously through her. WWE decided to go in a direction that is all too real, but it’s a great way to get her over as a star because Nia is going to do something to Alexa that’s long overdue. She is going to shut the Goddess up by unleashing holy hell on her former best friend. It’s a storyline that will make Nia a bigger star. Can she carry the division based on her wrestling alone? Time will tell, but she is going to be a player in the Women’s Division in 2018 because the fans want to cheer for her.

For those fans that think WWE is a classless organization for fat-shaming Jax, it should be noted that she was in a romantic storyline with He Who Shall Remain Nameless and some of the same fans wanted them to make out every time they were on-screen. There were no fat jokes or other snide remarks sprinkled in at her expense. Nia was presented as a desirable woman which should be the case for all women size 2 and up. If this was five years ago, the fat jokes would’ve been nonstop. However, the company has shown some progression which makes tonight’s fat-shaming segment a blimp on the radar compared to the Vickie Guerrero fat jokes that were a regular occurrence during the My Network TV/SYFY era of SmackDown in the early 2010s.

At the end of the day, Nia Jax is going to be the hero in this story. She is going to be the one to empower young men and women to embrace what the Most High gave them. There is a bigger endgame than WWE going the fat joke route for kicks and giggles. They are exposing a real-life issue that happens every day online. To say otherwise would be a lie. Were Alexa Bliss and Mickie James the right messengers to convey this point despite what they went through in reel/real life? They are characters playing a role on television. They are no different from actors and actresses telling similar stories on the small and big screen. While some fans are crying foul about tonight’s segment, I choose to take a different approach because I know what’s behind the third eye.

Lexi Kaufman (Alexa Bliss), Mickie James (Actual Government Name) and Savelina Fenene (Nia Jax) are driving around Detroit laughing their asses off because kayfabe is dead. How’s that for reality, ladies and gentleman.

On that note, I hope you enjoyed this special 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, March 6, 2018

The SmackDown Files: Me, Myself and I - The One Where Sami Zayn Channels His Inner Kevin Owens (3-6-2018)

By: Keila Cash

Date: 3-6-2018
Location: Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Sing Like You Mean It: Shinsuke Nakamura Really Is a Rockstar…

·        SmackDown Live kicked off with Charlotte and Ruby Riott having a verbal confrontation leading up to their Women’s Championship Match at Fastlane on Sunday. Both ladies did fine, but the material they were given was weak. Ruby claiming that Charlotte was the Chosen One is a load of bullshit because Charlotte had an uphill climb to the top based on her last name alone. History has shown us that lineage can be a blessing or a curse depending on one’s ability to get over as a star. Charlotte shattered expectations and became one of the most decorated champions of all-time which is not a myth or fluke.

·        Ruby signaled Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan to get in the ring to help her triple team Charlotte, but Bobby Roode made the save as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was an okay way to start the show. The fans weren’t hot for the segment and there were a few vocal assholes who tried to rattle Charlotte early on, but she managed to maintain her composure. The SmackDown Women’s Title match at Fastlane should be good despite the lack of an emotional hook to push things over the top.

·        Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton with the Khallas thanks to an unlikely assist from Bobby Roode. After Orton almost killed Sunil Singh with a Belly-to-Back Suplex on the announce table, he tossed Mahal into Roode who was doing guest commentary at ringside.

·        Orton nailed Mahal with the Draping DDT and was about to finish him off with an RKO when Roode climbed on the ring apron to confront The Viper.

·        Both men exchanged words which gave Mahal enough time to shove Orton into Roode which set up the finish moments later. I have a feeling that Mahal will be added to the United States Championship Match in order to further tension between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan because Bryan wanted to add him to the match a few weeks ago until McMahon overruled his decision.

·        Rusev is going to avenge the vocal chords of Aiden English by challenging Shinsuke Nakamura to a match at Fastlane. Nakamura agreed and vowed that Sunday would be Nakamura Day as he hit that high note like a boss. Very impressive!

·        Becky Lynch made Carmella tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in a decent match. Carmella dominated the action for the most part, but the outcome was never in doubt because it is an unwritten rule that all Money in the Bank winners must go on a losing streak before cashing in the contract.

·        Another match is set for Fastlane as Natalya and Carmella will team up to face Naomi and Becky Lynch. It’s a random match, but it’s a fine way to get more people on the card since the lineup was paper thin until now.

·        AJ Styles’ Road to WrestleMania has been a bumpy ride so far as he’s been put in matches that have put him at a disadvantage due to the numbers game. However, Styles overcame the odds and will jump through one more hurdle in order to face Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship at Mania. Styles scoffed at Cena’s offer to invoke his rematch clause in order to main event WM in a Triple Threat Match because fans have been clamoring to see Styles vs. Nakamura since both men arrived in WWE two years ago.

·        Dolph Ziggler made his way down to the ring to confirm that he was still a heel after straddling the fence over the past couple of weeks. Ziggler claimed that Styles was wasting his time doing things for the fans because they will turn on him the moment he slips up. Ziggler learned that lesson the hard way and promised to do things for himself because he’s the only one that matters.

·        Ziggler has been in WWE for thirteen years, but he’s never had a singles match at WrestleMania. That would change on Sunday when he walks out of Fastlane WWE Champion.

·        Since Ziggler was already in the ring, Styles wanted to get down to business. Ziggler agreed as the match took place after the commercial break.

·        AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler ended via disqualification when Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn ran down to the ring and attacked both men. Styles and Ziggler were having a good match, but it was pretty one-sided as Ziggler dominated the action for the most part. Styles took some crazy bumps which had me fearing for his safety because he does so much in order to put over his opponent’s offense that it looks a little too real at times. That’s why Styles is my favorite wrestler in WWE today. He goes above and beyond in order to get the job done.

·        Shane McMahon appeared on the main stage and booked a Fatal 5-Way match featuring Styles vs. Ziggler vs. Owens vs. Zayn vs. Corbin which took place after the commercial break.

·        In what has to be considered a shocking turn of events, Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens with the Helluva Kick to solidify that it’s every man for himself at Fastlane. Zayn was elated that he beat his best friend while Owens looked on in shock that he got duped by a man that claimed he would lie down for him at the PPV on Sunday.

·        The Fatal 5-Way Match was a total spot fest in the best possible way. The action was fast-paced and frenetic throughout as everyone got a chance to shine. The fans woke up down the stretch as they got a sneak preview of what’s to come during the Six-Pack Challenge once John Cena is added to the mix.

·        For the second week in a row, SD Live ended on a weird note as Zayn was in the middle of cutting a promo when the show went off the air. I don’t know if Billy Kidman is still in charge when it comes to timing out the broadcast, but someone needs to get his or her shit together because WWE doesn’t have the luxury of using an overrun on Tuesday nights. Outside of that, this was a good way to end the show as the march towards WrestleMania continues. Five weeks and counting…

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The second hour saved the show from a wrestling standpoint while the first hour set up a couple of mid-card matches for Fastlane which should boost the overall quality of the PPV.

·        Like Elimination Chamber, Fastlane is going to feature good wrestling action with predictable finishes because WWE already has a game plan in mind for WrestleMania. That’s one of the drawbacks of having a PPV in March because the company isn’t going to deviate from the formula unless something unforeseen happens. After Sunday’s PPV, every episode of SD Live should feel special because we heading into the home stretch of Mania season.

·        The show has been stagnant from a creative standpoint over the past few months. Is the E waiting for the right time to pop the trunk or is the blue brand doomed to wallow in its own self-pity until the next Superstar Shakeup after WM? Here’s hoping the answer is the former because I believe SD Live is still a good show when it’s firing on all cylinders. We shall find out if that’s the case when the broadcast emanates from Indianapolis next week.

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, March 5, 2018

The Raw Exposé: That's My B**** - Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns' Custody Battle Over The Big Red Kryptonite Belt (3-5-2018)

By: Keila Cash

Date: 3-5-2018
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Let’s Get Physical: Welcome to the Ass Whooping Soup De Jour Starring Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon
Tonight’s Blog is Brought To You by the Little B: Bitching Is Fundamental.

·        After weeks of speculation, Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey will face off against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a Mixed Tag Team Match at WrestleMania. Raw kicked off with Angle calling out Triple H for sucker punching him at the end of last week’s show. McMahon came out to talk Angle down by using the family card in order to play on his sympathies.

·        Stephanie claimed that Angle’s decorated career wasn’t paying the bills and needed to keep his job as General Manager in order to pay alimony to his first wife. The crowd booed at her dig as Rousey made her way down to the ring.

·        Ronda stood up for Kurt while calling her new bosses a couple of schoolyard bullies. Stephanie denied the allegation by reminding Ronda that her dream of wrestling at Mania is about to come true. She could pick any opponent as long as they were on the active roster and not a current champion.

·        Ronda picked Stephanie as the crowd started up a loud “Yes!” chant. Triple H’s music hit as he claimed that the match couldn’t happen because Steph was an executive. Angle noted that she had two contracts that laid her out her duties as Commissioner and WWE Superstar. Therefore, the match was on for WM.

·        Hunter had similar language in his contracts which meant that his dance card was open for WM as well. Kurt volunteered to team up with Ronda to take on HHH and Steph as the crowd roared in approval.

·        Steph tried to slap Kurt, but Ronda grabbed her arm and was about to break it in half until Hunter intervened.

·        Steph and Hunter were about to leave the ring, but HHH changed his mind and went after Angle. Stephanie attacked Ronda from behind, but she ran for the hills when Ronda got up.

·        HHH tried to Pedigree Kurt, but Kurt put him in the ankle lock instead. Hunter was flopping in the ring like a fish until Stephanie pulled him out of the ring.

·        WWE officials checked on Triple H which allowed Ronda to grab Stephanie by the hair and yank her back in the ring. Ronda laid out Steph with the Samoan Drop as the opening segment came to an end with Angle and Rousey standing tall on the main stage while Triple H and Stephanie were trying to gather their bearings in the ring.

·        This was a hot way to start the show. Ronda Rousey was very over with the crowd as they loved everything she said and did. This was her smoothest performance so far as she embraced the role of being a badass with a heart of gold.

·        Kurt Angle reclaiming his manhood is the cherry on top as he finally stood to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. It was a long time coming which should lead to some interesting television over the next few weeks because he’s no longer afraid to speak his mind. Most importantly, Stephanie was put on her ass on a show not called WrestleMania for the first time in YEARS! It’s a miracle!

·        Asuka defeated Nia Jax when she made Jax tap out to the armbar in a solid match. Jax dominated the action for the most part, but Asuka managed to wear her down by putting her in the armbar before transitioning to the Triangle Choke. Jax tried to break the hold by power slamming Asuka to the mat, but Asuka held on for dear life. Jax tried a second time, but it was to no avail as well.

·        She tried to break the hold by slamming Asuka against the turnbuckle, but the Empress of Tomorrow wouldn’t let go which led to the tap out finish moments later.

·        Backstage, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James shared a pensive glance as they realized that Asuka was coming for Bliss’ Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Or is she? Hmm…

·        Sheamus and Cesaro defeated The Revival when Cesaro pinned Scott Dawson with the Neutralizer in a solid match. The crowd heat was tepid because both teams were heels which watered down the bout from an emotional standpoint. The Revival losing the match means that they will not face The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania next month. That sucks, but I am guessing that WWE has a bigger tag team match in mind for Sheamus and Cesaro.

·        John Cena came out to cut a promo he knew wouldn’t be able to say on SmackDown Live because Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles would interrupt him. Therefore, Cena asked Kurt Angle to give him the platform to speak his mind because this would probably be the last time fans would see him on Raw after he breaks Ric Flair’s record by becoming a 17-time World Champion at Fastlane.

·        Cena noted that Styles might feel like his WrestleMania hopes and dreams will be dashed when he loses the WWE Title on Sunday. However, The Phenomenal One can still have his Mania moment by invoking his rematch clause and making the WWE Title match a Triple Threat featuring Cena, Styles, and Nakamura.

·        In a strange twist, Goldust made his way down to the ring to spout some Hollywood cinema mumbo jumbo that dragged on forever before vowing to ruin Cena’s path to WrestleMania. Before Cena could respond, Goldust sucker punched him which led to a match which took place after the commercial break.

·        John Cena defeated Goldust with the AA in a serviceable match. Goldust dominated the action for the most despite the outcome being evitable.

·        The premise of the match was stupid and the fans didn’t care until the finish. Goldust usually cuts good promos, but the material he was given was weak and made no sense. There was no gravitas to what he was saying which made the segment and subsequent bout a waste of time which shouldn’t be the case heading into the heart of WrestleMania season.

·        Bayley defeated Mandy Rose with the Gator Roll in a decent match, but she didn’t get a chance to celebrate the win when Rose and Sonya Deville attacked her in the ring. Sasha Banks made the save, but it wasn’t enough to patch things up between the two besties. When Bayley turns down a HUG, hell has officially frozen over.

·        Alexa Bliss channeling her inner Oprah backfired when she tried to give a pep talk to Nia Jax. I will give Jax credit for being able to cry on command. It’s not an easy thing to do unless your name is The Big Show.

·        Braun Strowman defeated Elias when he dropped a piano on top of The Drifter for the win. This was hopefully the first and last Symphony of Destruction match because it was pretty uneventful until Strowman smashed the upright bass over Elias’ back which was a nice callback to what happened a few weeks ago when Strowman channeled his inner Yo-Yo Ma.

·        Outside of that, this was your usual run-of-the-mill garbage match with a lot of smoke and mirrors to protect both men. It wasn’t bad, but it left a lot to be desired in terms of execution.

·        Bray Wyatt defeated Rhyno with Sister Abigail in quick and decisive fashion.

·        The Hardy Compound! The Ultimate Deletion! It’s the only way to redeem the shit fest that is the Matt Hardy-Bray Wyatt feud. Will there be cameos from Seňor Benjamin, Queen Rebecca, King Maxel, Brother Nero, and Vanguard 1? Most importantly, will Jeremey Borash have a hand in the production because he was an integral part of House Hardy over the past couple of years? If WWE keeps their involvement to a minimum, this could be great.

·        The 3rd annual Mizzie Awards took place as The Miz handed out trophies to Seth Rollins and Finn Bàlor for patting themselves on the back while Kurt Angle won the award for Worst Decision Maker. The segment was dragging until Rollins and Bàlor interrupted the proceedings. Miz shaded both men for the inadequacies when it comes to winning big matches as of late. Balor received the brunt of Miz’s tirade as the Intercontinental Champion called him out for not being over and using the Too Sweet hand gesture that doesn’t belong to him.

·        Miz challenged Rollins and Bàlor to face him and The Miztourage in a 2-on-3 Handicap Match which took place after the commercial break.

·        Seth Rollins and Finn Bàlor defeated The Miz and The Miztourage when Rollins nailed Miz with the Curbstomp for the win. Rollins and Bàlor had a friendly game of one-upmanship as they traded aggressive tags down the stretch which set up the aforementioned finish.

·        Kurt Angle appeared on the main stage and announced that Miz will defend the IC Title against Rollins and Bàlor in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania. Miz is the annoying pest stuck in the middle of a much more compelling rivalry between Rollins and Bàlor heading into Mania. He’s the dreaded third wheel in his own championship match. What a shame…

·        Paul Heyman closed the show by cutting an excellent promo about why Brock Lesnar isn’t like everyone else. Heyman mentioned that Roman Reigns became the second man to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania last year. No one complained that was the only time Undertaker wrestled in 2017. No one called Taker a sellout or a bitch for having such an easy work schedule. If anyone said otherwise, it would be a bunch of bullshit.

·        Heyman wanted Reigns to understand that The Universal Title was Lesnar’s bitch. She would stay on his shoulder until someone put The Beast down for good. He couldn’t be a shell of himself when it happened. Lesnar had to go down swinging on his own two feet in order for anyone to claim what was his.

·        Reigns needed to know that the title is something that goes beyond family. It will consume his very essence because he needs the belt in order to survive. The man and the championship are connected as if they are one. It symbolizes greatness. It means that you are the best in the world. You are untouchable. Unstoppable. Simply put, winning the richest prize in professional wrestling makes you better than everyone else.

·        If Reigns is willing to sell his soul in order to get the job done, Heyman was more than willing to bring Lesnar to Detroit next week so The Big Dog could shoot on The Beast.

·        Reigns made his way down to the ring and called Lesnar a bitch for making Heyman do his dirty work. That wouldn’t be the case next week because Reigns wanted Lesnar dressed for a fight as Raw went off the air with Reigns standing tall in the ring.

·        This was a great way to end the show. Paul Heyman was on fire as he tried to milk the Lesnar-Reigns feud for all its worth. Heyman was at his best as he spoke the truth while sneaking in some colorful language for good measure. Reigns held his own, but he’s not in Heyman’s league when it comes to throwing shade while spitting facts at the same time. Hopefully, Reigns gets to cut loose when he goes face-to-face with Lesnar next week. For real this time…

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was a two-segment show that got the job done in terms of WrestleMania hype while the middle portion of the broadcast was undercooked with so-so matches and a bizarre John Cena-Goldust segment that boggled my mind to no end.

·        Every show is not going to be a home run, but the second and third hour was a chore to get through until the main event segment. Several secondary feuds are starting to take shape which should bolster the quality of the program over the next few weeks.

·        Nia Jax turning babyface thanks to a condescending Alexa Bliss will do Jax a world of good because the fans want to cheer for her. She’s a badass who can get over by using her brute force in order to assert her dominance over the women’s division. As long as Asuka is no longer on the receiving end of the ass whopping, it’s all good.

·        Sasha Banks and Bayley’s friendship is still stuck in purgatory as they continue to give each other the cold shoulder. Who’s turning on who? We shall find out soon enough.

·        Meanwhile, the world premiere of The Ultimate Deletion is upon us. It should be a cinematic masterpiece of epic proportions if Matt Hardy has creative autonomy over his baby. If not, this could be an absolute disaster which might cause The Woken Universe to fall apart at the seams.

·        With these storylines bubbling beneath the surface, the next few weeks of televisions have the potential to be very good if everything goes according to plan. Here’s hoping next week’s show in Detroit is the first of four slam dunks on the Road to WrestleMania. 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!