The Man takes the spotlight

There is one character in WWE that has been the talk of the industry far and above all others. That we can have a week where Daniel Bryan not only turns heel, but wins the WWE Championship, and that’s barely even in the top five talking points for the week, you know someone is on fire.

To say that Becky Lynch has been on a roll would be a drastic understatement. Sky Sports published an interview with Lynch earlier today where she claimed to be the face of the industry, and as far as WWE is concerned she is absolutely right. She has been so good that the fans didn’t let her turn heel, and ever since she has been getting one of the loudest reactions on the show.

The thing is, this has been a long time coming. Read More

The Live Experience

If you follow WWE at all, you probably know that over the last 10 days they’ve been touring the UK and mainland Europe. And if you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw that I went to three of the shows – Raw in Manchester, SmackDown in Manchester, and a SmackDown house show in Glasgow.

There was a lot to love about all three shows. I got to see some of my all-time favourites for the first time, and some of the matches were great. I saw title changes, main roster debuts, a heel turn and just some great work on the mic and in the ring. Read More

Hell In A Cell 2018 Spotlight: Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton

It’s Spotlight time! I definitely am not so disinterested in WWE’s product right now that I nearly forgot there was a PPV tonight. Definitely not, 100% no. So here we are! And when it came to picking a match to write about, there was one obvious standout: Becky Lynch vs Charlotte. But I also felt like there wasn’t much to say about it that hasn’t already been said since SummerSlam, so I’m looking at Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton instead.

This match is inside the Hell In A Cell structure, which I find interesting. Really, any match on the main card of the show could be argued worthy of taking place inside the four sides of steel. Read More

Fantasy Booking Series: The card for Money In The Bank takes shape

It’s time for my fantasy booking series to return! We’re rounding off the month of May with more of the build to Money In The Bank. Did anybody else remember that there was a six week gap between Backlash and MITB? I didn’t. If you’re wondering where I left things, read the articles for the last PPV (Backlash) and the last article. Anyway, let’s fill out those ladder matches! Read More

In Defence of the Reality of Wrestling

A couple of frustrating conversations I’ve had recently got me thinking about this post that I wrote over two and a half years ago. But in trailing through my archive, I realised I never actually published it on this site (although it did get published in my university’s student newspaper). Purely for the integrity of the original piece, I’m posting it now as I wrote it then, and instead of updating it I’ll add in a few thoughts at the end. Enjoy. Read More

Summerslam 2018 Spotlight: Braun Strowman vs Kevin Owens

I’ve spoken before about how the Money In The Bank contract is one of my favourite gimmicks every year, because of the storytelling options and the unpredictability it can often lead to. Tomorrow night at Summerslam, with the anticipated main event of Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship again, it seems to be a prime opportunity for a cash in.

The fans are not going to like Roman Reigns. If anything is a certainty on this show, that’s about as close to it as you’re going to get. But I don’t think Reigns can lose to Lesnar again. I’ve said it before, but the longer it goes without Reigns getting that ‘W’ the worse it gets. A cash in gives WWE the opportunity to give Reigns his win, but also send the crowd home happy, protect their man and give themselves a new main event feud all in one fell swoop.

But the question is, who will be holding the Money In The Bank contract by the time that match begins? Read More

TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 Spotlight: Tommaso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano

Tomorrow night is NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4. It looks set to be a fantastic show, with all of the matches having so much potential. But as always with my Spotlight columns, I only pick one to look at in depth, and to be honest I’m a little surprised looking back on it that I haven’t written about Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa before.

I think the reason for that may lie in the beauty of this rivalry – it writes itself.

For all the complaints that are strewn across the internet about WWE’s creative team, NXT delivers 90% of the time. Even on those rare instances where it feels like something didn’t quite go the way it should have it tends to be leading to something bigger and better, or when a build feels a bit lackluster the match delivers to make you forget about the weeks gone by in the end. Read More

Fantasy Booking Series: The early build to Money In The Bank

It’s been about a month since I updated for my fantasy booking series, and while it’s coming along I thought I should post a couple of week’s worth of shows to keep it ticking over. Last time round we covered the entire nine days between Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash, so next on the calendar is Money In The Bank. Who’s going to qualify for the ladder matches? The first competitors are revealed here!

Monday Night Raw, 7th May

Balor v Zayn.jpg

Results: Bobby Lashley defeats Elias by pinfall, Ember Moon defeats Mandy Rose by pinfall, Alexa Bliss defeats Natalya by disqualification, Jimmy Uso defeats Shelton Benjamin by pinfall, Finn Balor defeats Sami Zayn

Promos: – Sasha Banks comes down to the ring to open the show. She says that for a week, WWE have been promoting a tell all speech from her. Banks says that ever since she attacked Bayley, people on Twitter have been asking her why. Banks plays the clip of her attacking Bayley after their match three weeks ago. People have told her that Bayley didn’t deserve that. Banks says it wasn’t about Bayley. Banks plays the clip of her attacking Naomi two weeks ago. Banks says that people told her Naomi didn’t deserve the beating Banks gave her, but it wasn’t about Naomi either. Banks says that people have been demanding that she explains her actions, she says that Kurt Angle didn’t ask her to explain her actions, he told her she would. Banks says she doesn’t have to explain herself to anybody. She pretends to leave, but then goes back to the centre of the ring and says she’s in a good mood, so she’ll throw the WWE Universe a bone. Banks says she’s in a good mood because she reclaimed her own fate. She says that for too long she pandered to the fans and the corporate sponsors and did whatever people wanted her to do, and whatever they asked her to do. Banks says people say she snapped, but she just got real. She says she attacked Bayley because she wanted to. Nothing more, nothing less. Banks says that she is writing her own story again, and now The Boss is back.

– Ronda Rousey and Natalya are backstage in Kurt Angle’s office, with Rousey asking for a title match against Nia Jax. Alexa Bliss walks in with Mickie James asking who Rousey thinks she is – she has only had one match and she is asking for a title shot? Bliss says she is a four-time Women’s Champion, and that means she’s ahead of Rousey in the queue. Rousey responds saying she’s been a champion before herself, and if Bliss doesn’t think she can win she should get in the ring with her. Things threaten to get physical, so Angle interjects saying that tonight there will be a number one contender’s match between Alexa Bliss and… Natalya. Bliss and James leave, and Angle turns to Rousey apologetically, saying that Bliss was right, Rousey has only had one match and he can’t go giving her title shots just like that, even if she was ready.

Angle Rousey Natalya.jpg

– Nia Jax is asked by Renee Young about the number one contender match Kurt Angle set up for later tonight. Jax says that she doesn’t know why Bliss is getting another opportunity after Nia beat her twice, but if Nia has to beat her again she will, with pleasure. Nia puts over Natalya’s experience and ability, saying that being in the ring with someone will make Nia a better performer, but that being in the ring with Nia will make Natalya hurt. Young asks Nia about whether she thinks Rousey should have gotten the opportunity, and Nia looks at her and leaves.

– Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are backstage in their lair. Hardy says that they have now seen off the man with red hair and his partner, because their mortal vessels lost control after the red mist descended upon them. Wyatt says that it doesn’t matter who is next to challenge them, because the expedition of gold will live on. Wyatt says that they will turn any thoughts of taking the red straps from them sour, and teams would be better served by doing one thing… run.

– Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman come down to the ring, with Heyman carrying the Universal Championship. Reigns gets on the mic and laughs at the fans for booing, says that it’s getting old and they should really be more original. He gives the mic to Heyman, who says that in nine days, Roman Reigns beat two of the toughest guys to ever have stepped foot inside the squared circle. Heyman says that last night’s match didn’t have to be for the title, but after a year of the former champion running from challengers at all costs, Roman Reigns stepped up like the big dog he is and put his money where his mouth is. Paul Heyman says his client took an unnecessary risk, and that usually he would advise someone not to do it, but he doesn’t have to worry about Roman Reigns losing the title, because there is nobody who can wrestle the belt from Reigns’ vice-like grip.

Samoa Joe Raw mic

That brings out Samoe Joe. Joe says that he wants another shot at Reigns. Reigns grabs the mic from Heyman to ask if he wanted another match just so that he could say he lost to Roman twice? Joe says he doesn’t even care about winning or losing anymore. Joe says that last week, Reigns and Heyman treated Joe like he was nothing. Joe says that nearly 20 years of wrestling all around the world is not nothing. Joe says that he’s accomplished more than most of the chumps in the back can ever dream of. Reigns says that Joe can only dream of getting a win over him, and that last night all of Joe’s years of experience counted for nothing.

Bobby Lashley then comes out. Lashley says that he thinks the Universal Championship picture needs some fresh blood. If only there was someone who has been on such a roll that they haven’t lost since coming back to WWE. Oh wait, there is, and he’s standing right here on stage. Reigns says that Lashley has been beating nobodies since he came back because he’s been scared of getting too close to Reigns. Reigns says that he’ll gladly put that first loss on Lashley’s record, but he needs to beat somebody that has a reputation first. Kurt Angle comes out, and says that Reigns can disrespect everyone around him, but they need to find the next challenger for the Universal Championship. So next week, Bobby Lashley will face Samoa Joe, with the winner facing Roman Reigns at Money In The Bank.

Storyline: – It is announced that there will be qualifiers for both the men’s and women’s money in the bank ladder matches over the next few weeks on Raw and SmackDown, starting tonight with Finn Balor vs Sami Zayn and Ember Moon vs Mandy Rose.

– Mickie James and Ronda Rousey each interfere in the Bliss vs Natalya match, but the referee only catches Rousey and so disqualifies Natalya.

– Braun Strowman vs Kevin Owens and Sasha Banks vs Sonya Deville are announced as next week’s Money In The Bank qualifying matches, as is AJ Styles’ return to Raw.

SmackDown Live, 8th May

Jeff Hardy

Results: Bayley defeats Sarah Logan by pinfall, Sanity squash local talent, Seth Rollins defeats Mike Kanellis to retain the Intercontinental Championship, Jeff Hardy wins a battle royal

Promos: – Shinsuke Nakamura saunters down to the ring to open the show. He makes a point of standing at every corner holding up the WWE Championship. Nakamura says that AJ Styles got a knee to the face. Daniel Bryan got a knee to the face. And now Nakamura is the WWE Champion. Nakamura says AJ Styles doesn’t matter, Daniel Bryan doesn’t matter, he is the best. Daniel Bryan then comes out to the stage with a mic of his own. Bryan says that Nakamura didn’t pin him two nights ago at Backlash. Bryan says that people told him he was making a mistake by using his title shot from the Greatest Royal Rumble in a triple threat match, but he felt it was a risk worth taking. Bryan says things didn’t go his way, but he was never pinned. Bryan says he thinks that entitles him to another shot at the WWE Championship, and asks if the fans would like to see Daniel Bryan vs Shinsuke Nakamura to get them chanting yes. When the crowd dies down Nakamura tells Bryan that he doesn’t deserve it. Bryan says that he and Nakamura go way back, but he didn’t fight to be able to resume his in-ring career for two years to sit back and wait for chances to come to him, and he wants to be WWE Champion. Paige comes out and joins Bryan on the stage, and tells him that she understands where he’s coming from. But she reminds him that while he was battling to get medically cleared for two years, he was GM of SmackDown, and he always used to tell people that they had to earn their opportunities in the ring. Paige said that with AJ Styles permanently on Raw, there is no obvious candidate to be Nakamura’s next challenger. So in tonight’s main event, there will be a battle royal, and the winner will face Nakamura at Money In The Bank.

Charlotte Renee Young

– Charlotte is with Renee Young backstage. Renee asks her how it feels to be SmackDown Women’s Champion again, and Charlotte says it feels right, because she belongs at the top of the mountain. Renee asks about the prospect of another Money In The Bank contract holder coming after her saying potentially it could be Charlotte’s friend Bayley. Charlotte says that when there’s a contract holder around, you always have to have eyes in the back of your head. She notes that Bayley just qualified for the match, and she has faith that Becky Lynch will join her next week. Charlotte says that she knows first hand how MITB works, but that knowing Becky and Bayley they would want her at her best. Carmella interrupts them to ask if Charlotte is already looking past her, because she still has a title rematch, and she’s going to take it at Money In The Bank. Charlotte responds by saying she’s surprised Carmella would want another shot, knowing that she’s not in Charlotte’s league. Charlotte says she assumed Carmella would try to worm her way into the MITB ladder match so that she could carry a contract around for another 300 days. Carmella says that she always has a trick up her sleeve, and leaves.

– Eric Young gets on the mic after Sanity’s win. He introduces the rest of the group – Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain and Nikki Cross. He says that they are a force like no other in WWE. He says that most people try to stay away from destruction, but they embrace it. He says that the Bludgeon Brothers walk around with their hammers trying to strike fear into everybody, but they are the true creators of chaos.

Sanity

Storyline: – Becky Lynch is in Bayley’s corner, and the Riott Squad are in Logan’s corner for their Money In The Bank qualifying match

– Before the battle royal, Baron Corbin attacks Daniel Bryan on Bryan’s way to the ring. He throws Bryan into the barricade and steel steps, and then dumps him over the top rope first when the bell rings. Jinder Mahal eliminates Seth Rollins, but the final two are Bobby Roode and Jeff Hardy.

– Becky Lynch vs Billie Kay and Daniel Bryan vs Andrade “Cien” Almas are announced as the Money In The Bank qualifying matches for next week.

Monday Night Raw, 14th May

Braun Strowman Kevin Owens.jpg

Results: Braun Strowman defeats Kevin Owens by pinfall, Jey Uso defeats Chad Gable by pinfall, Sasha Banks defeats Sonya Deville by submission, Tye Dillinger defeats Goldust by pinfall, Nia Jax squashes a local talent, Bobby Lashley defeats Samoa Joe

Promos: – The Deleters of Worlds are in their supernatural room looking up at a light. They talk about the duality of white light. They said it can mean a genesis or a finality. It can mean clarity, or a clouded fog of mystery. They say that in the present, the next challengers for their championships are unclear. But mysteries always have a way of finding a resolution, and whoever attempt to wrestle the titles away from then will be facing an obsolete task.

– Alexa Bliss and Mickie James come down to the ring. James conducts a mock interview with the number one contender. James asks Bliss how she feels about her win last week – Bliss answers by saying that she doesn’t know why anybody would have doubted her. She says that she calls herself a goddess for a reason, she’s just that much better than anyone else on the roster. Bliss says that Nia Jax has clearly gotten lucky against her twice, and that at Money In The Bank she will finally regain her title. James asks Bliss about Ronda Rousey wanting to be in the match last week, and Bliss laughs. Bliss says that Rousey must have been dreaming if she thought she could jump ahead of Bliss in the line. Bliss says that she may have gotten fights based on her reputation in UFC, but that’s not going to cut it in WWE. Bliss says she worked for years through NXT, SmackDown and Raw to get to where she is, and Rousey is not about to get the same opportunities without putting in the same amount of work. Bliss calls her a rookie, and says that even Rousey was in the match last week, it would still have been Alexa Bliss standing here as your number one contender. That brings Ronda out, and she storms down to the ring. Bliss throws James in front of her, and Rousey takes her out. Rousey then chases down Bliss who tries to run away, and lays her out too.

Alexa Bliss Ronda Rousey

– AJ Styles comes down to the ring to discuss losing the WWE Championship at Backlash. He says that he’s pissed off. Styles says that Kurt Angle gave him last week off because he was scared of how Styles would react, but he’s still not happy about how things went down at Backlash. Styles said he knew he could beat Shinsuke Nakamura. All he wanted was one last opportunity to prove it fair and square. But Daniel Bryan changed the game. Styles says he respects Daniel Bryan, and he doesn’t blame him for taking the opportunity to try and win the WWE Championship, but if it weren’t for his presence Styles would still be standing here as your WWE Champion. Styles says that the match was made with the promise that it would be the last time AJ Styles would face Shinsuke Nakamura with the WWE Championship on the line, and he’s going to honour that. He still wants to be able to call himself a champion, so now that he won’t get a rematch for the WWE Championship, he’s coming for the Universal Title. Styles says he’s not expecting to walk straight into a championship match, but there is a PPV called Money In The Bank coming up. Styles says he has a qualifier next week, and he is going to win that, cash in and become your next Universal Champion.

– Nia Jax is stopped by Renee Young just behind the curtain as she heads to the ring for her match. Renee asks her about Bliss’ comments earlier. Jax says she said it last week and she’ll say it again, it didn’t matter who won last week because Jax isn’t giving the title up anytime soon. Young asks about what Rousey did, but Jax’s music plays and she excuses herself for the match.

Miztourage backstage

– The Miz is in his dressing room with The Miztourage. He tells them that it was a disgrace that Kurt Angle couldn’t find a place for him on the show last week. Miz says he may not have regained the Intercontinental Championship that is rightfully his, but he is still the biggest star on Raw. Miz then turns his attention to AJ Styles, saying you wouldn’t know it because Styles never mentioned him, but it’s AJ Styles vs The Miz next week in a MITB qualifier. Miz says that Styles has never respected him, but that suits him just fine. Miz says that he has been proving people wrong his entire career, and next week he will beat AJ Styles and go on to grab the MITB contract.

Storyline: – Naomi vs Mickie James and The Miz vs AJ Styles are announced as next week’s Money In The Bank qualifying matches

SmackDown Live 15th May

Almas Vega

Results: Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Big Cass by pinfall, Becky Lynch defeats Billie Kay by submission, Seth Rollins defeats Baron Corbin by pinfall to retain the Intercontinental Championship, Heath Slater & Rhyno defeat The New Day, Andrade “Cien” Almas defeats Daniel Bryan

Promos: – Carmella approaches The IIconics backstage, and asks if she can count on their help at Money In The Bank against Charlotte. Kay asks why they would do that, since she can’t offer them anything. Royce says that while she was champion, it was good for their image to be seen with her, but they have their own ambitions and Carmella has already shown that she can’t beat Charlotte. Kay tells her that they’re focusing on the MITB ladder match, and when the contract becomes iconic, they are going to take Carmella’s spot.

– Jinder Mahal appears on stage after Seth Rollins’ victory. Mahal says that he was the last man to beat Rollins, and he eliminated him from the battle royal last week. Mahal says that he is the better man, and he will take the Intercontinental Championship from Rollins. Mahal says that he is already a champion to the people of India, and at Money In The Bank the Maharaja will wear gold again.

Jinder Mahal

– Renee Young catches Seth Rollins backstage after his match, where he accepts Jinder Mahal’s challenge for MITB.

Storyline: – The Revival’s music hits during The New Day vs Slater & Rhyno, distracting New Day and costing them the match.

– Zelina Vega distracts the referee during Almas vs Bryan, allowing Baron Corbin to attack Bryan with a chair leading to Almas getting the win.

– Peyton Royce vs Liv Morgan and Drew McIntyre vs Baron Corbin are announced as the MITB qualifying matches for next week.

And I’m going to leave it there for now. That’s two weeks of Raw and SmackDown covered, but it’s a lot of words to get through. My hope is that I can get to the stage where I’ve caught up to real time and I can do Raw and SmackDown as separate articles each week, going back to the format I used with the Superstar Shake-Up. But until then, I’m going to be putting up a couple of weeks at a time as often as I can.

I do want to make a point of saying though, I have the whole thing broadly planned out through to Wrestlemania. It’s just a case of filling in specifics for each show, which is actually quite time-consuming, at least at this stage. I just want this to be clear, because I’ve noticed some pairings or things being hinted at on actual Raw and SmackDown that I’ve already planned, so I don’t want any confusion over whether I’m just copying what’s actually happening, which would then defeat the point of me doing this.

Current Money In The Bank card:

Roman Reigns (C) vs Bobby Lashley for the Universal Championship

Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs Jeff Hardy for the WWE Championship

Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match – Finn Balor vs Braun Strowman vs Andrade “Cien” Almas vs ? vs ? vs ? vs ? vs ?

Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match – Ember Moon vs Bayley vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch vs ? vs ? vs ? vs ?

Seth Rollins (C) vs Jinder Mahal for the Intercontinental Championship

Nia Jax (C) vs Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship

Charlotte (C) vs Carmella for the SmackDown Women’s Championship

Bludgeon Brothers (C) vs Sanity for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships

Extreme Rules 2018 Spotlight: 30-Minute Iron Man Match for the Intercontinental Championship

Quite often when I put together these PPV Spotlights I talk about a match that I think will prove to be a quality show. Usually it’s a pairing that on paper looks like the competitors will mesh really well, sometimes it’s the passion within the story that could bring something special out of the bell to bell action. It can even be a match that I think has flown under the radar and could surprise people. But it’s rare that I can talk about the potential of a match and have as much concrete evidence to support that as I can this time round.

That’s because I’m writing about the always-reliable Dolph Ziggler defending his Intercontinental Championship against WWE’s MVP of 2018 so far, Seth Rollins.

The roll that Rollins has been on is incredible by WWE’s standards. He has almost single-handedly proven that if WWE lets their talent shine in the ring, they can prove their worth to everyone watching. He hasn’t been involved in these intricate stories, it’s pure and simply been about competing for a championship. Read More

Fantasy Booking Series: Backlash

Here’s the next installment of my fantasy booking series! The last edition covered the week from the Superstar Shake-Up to the Greatest Royal Rumble, and now it’s time to cover the fallout from Jeddah to Backlash. There are quite a few title rematches here which booked themselves on the card, but the big story is that in Saudi Arabia Roman Reigns aligned himself with Paul Heyman. Why? The answers are here…

Read More

Fantasy Booking Series: Greatest Royal Rumble

This has been long overdue. I finally sat down and worked out where I wanted to go with the fantasy booking I started way back at the Superstar Shake-Up, and I’m going to be working on it from now on. I’m going back to my original format of posts for the time being, and hopefully once I catch up with the real life timeline I’ll go back to the Shake-Up format of post.

As a reminder, I didn’t set myself any rules before – I have full control of NXT call-ups, heel/face turns, and the formation or break-up of tag teams. But since writing in the return of Big Cass and his subsequent departure from the company, I’m going to say that if someone genuinely leaves or joins the company, I must adhere to that timing. For example, I’m not going to bring Neville back, and not just because I’m not dealing with the Cruiserweight division. Equally I’m not suddenly going to have Kenny Omega in WWE, unless he actually does sign in real life. Similarly, the matches WWE already announced for Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash have mostly been kept the same.

This post only covers a week of programming, one Raw, one SmackDown and the Greatest Royal Rumble. It’s not a huge amount, but I think it’s a good way to ease back into these articles. So now that this is back (the link to the Shake-Up is at the top of the article if you want a refresher), let’s get back into it! Read More

Tempering NXT UK Expectations

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a UK wrestling fan. Major moves are being made behind the scenes in the UK market, and that has resulted in the official announcement of NXT UK – as well as the first four sets of tapings.

WWE seem to be creating their own tiered feeder system, and this is the first step towards creating a new tier. You’re going to have Raw and SmackDown at the top, NXT next, then the regional promotions like NXT UK that are starting up, and below them the companies WWE have working relationships with, like Progress and ICW in the UK. It could completely revolutionise the wrestling industry.

But it’s early days, and there are still questions over where and when the new NXT UK show will actually be aired, but even these happenings are so encouraging after a year of nothing really moving. The likes of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate have stolen shows in that time, but it’s great to see others finally get the recognition that a WWE stage will undoubtedly lead to. Read More