What happened on Raw, SmackDown and NXT this week? If you missed the show and want to know the key points, or just want to know what the main things to take note of going forward are, this is for you. I’ve summarised the main talking points in this article and included clips for you too, so you don’t have to do the legwork yourself.
Balor Club goes over
Last week I wrote about how it was good to see Finn Balor, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows back together, and this week it became clear that as a unit they’re here to stay. There was a backstage segment to remind everyone of their history, and in Raw’s main event they beat the golden trio of Jason Jordan, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. For one, it was just a straight up big win for the Club over two of Raw’s top stars and Jason Jordan. But for two, getting that win is a sign that the Balor Club are going to be booked strongly in the future, possibly making Balor a contender in the Royal Rumble and for a top championship thereafter.
More legends confirmed for Raw’s 25th Anniversary
When WWE first announced plans for a special Raw on the 22nd January, they announced The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash would be making appearances. This week a whole host of names got added to the mix, the most notable of which came on Raw, including: D-Generation X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels), Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, The Dudley Boyz, Ric Flair, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, The Bella Twins, New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn), The APA (JBL and Ron Simmons), and the biggest name of the lot – Stone Cold Steve Austin. It will be Austin’s first appearance on WWE television since Wrestlemania 32 I believe, and his first appearance on Raw since October 2015. The Rattlesnake absolutely should be there, and it will be awesome to see him back. More names were announced on SmackDown too, probably the most notable of which were the Godfather and Brother Love – just because it’s been so long since the latter was on WWE TV.
Braun Strowman attempts more murder
For years, the mantle of producing completely unrealistic and crazy yet somehow awesome stunts fell to The Undertaker. Now Braun Strowman seems to be the designated mad giant. In 2017 Braun Strowman was thrown into (and supposedly churned up by) a garbage truck, caused the ring to collapse and walked away, and backed into a production truck while locked in the back of an ambulance – and walked away again. Strowman was also the aggressor in throwing a dumpster with Kalisto locked inside off the Raw stage, tipping an ambulance on its side when Roman Reigns was locked inside, and actually just general carnage whenever he was around Reigns and an ambulance. This week was the latest installment of “Attempted Murder Featuring Braun Strowman”, as he pulled down part of the set on top of Kane and Brock Lesnar using a grappling hook. No, really, see for yourself.
Gable and Benjamin can talk
There wasn’t really anything of major note to take away from SmackDown this week, but I thought it was good to see Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin finally get some mic time. It was the first time they’ve really had a significant chance to talk since forming the team, and I think they did well. It’s difficult for them to stand out on the mic in a division also featuring The New Day, The Usos and Aiden English & Rusev, but they did just fine. Much like what I said about the Balor Club before, hopefully this is a sign they’ll be used more prominently going forward, because they are so good in the ring.
Kassius Ohno vs Raul Mendoza
Ok, so this match was good. Nothing more, just good. But it occurred to me when watching NXT this week that I can’t remember seeing a bad Kassius Ohno match. That’ll be nothing new to anyone who has followed his career, but considering Ohno hasn’t received any sort of sustained push since returning to NXT last year he always puts in solid performances. Whether he’s winning or losing, he always seems to make his opponent look good, regardless of their style, size or standing. That’s a really valuable asset to have, and I just wanted to write a quick note to credit Ohno for that.
Aleister Black is a superstar
I don’t mean in the “employed by WWE” way. Everything about him and his production screams money. He made his entrance this week by interrupting Roderick Strong and William Regal, and with Black just walking on to the stage and staring at the Undisputed Era in the ring the place was reacting to him. That’s a rare level of charisma to have. His offence is so crisp it’s difficult not to react to everything he does, and the fans treat him like the bona fide star he undoubtedly is. It looks like they’re going with Black vs Adam Cole for TakeOver: Philadelphia, which has all the makings of a show stealer, which would be two in a row for Black after his incredible match against Velveteen Dream (who returned to NXT this week) in November. I really don’t know how much longer they can hold off putting the NXT Title on him, if he doesn’t just go straight up to the main roster.
And that’s WWE’s week! Things are building momentum as we get closer to Raw’s 25th Anniversary show and, of course, Royal Rumble weekend. And from there we’re on the road to Wrestlemania!