Is there a better time to be a wrestling fan? I’ve loved it since the late 80s when I was a young boy and I honestly can’t think of a time where there were more options and different styles and the accessibility is incredible. No longer do we have to search for dodgy tapes via trading or anything like that – although I’m sure some people still do – and instead it’s all at our fingertips. This week alone we’ve had highlights like CM Punk returning on AEW Rampage, Ring of Honor’s Glory By Honor, Impact Wrestling’s Emergence, and now we’ve got WWE’s offerings of SummerSlam on Saturday night followed by NXT Takeover 36 on Sunday. I feel like a kid at Christmas seriously. On a serious note it’ll take a LOT for any company to beat Punk’s return so go and seek that out if you haven’t already – I’m already on my 10th re-watch with tears in my eyes and goosebumps every single time. But back to Vince’s empire and one of Punk’s oldest foes in John Cena. It’s time for some final words between him and Roman Reigns as we take one last visit to SmackDown before the PPV.
He Sees Clearly
After Seth Rollins absolutely crushed Edge verbally last week without reply, this week was Edge’s turn to gain just a little bit of revenge before SummerSlam. You see Edge isn’t one to just sit back and listen to people talk him down, especially now he can get physically involved without worrying too much. There’s still that little doubt in the back of his mind about a curb stomp potentially ending his career but the passion and the fire will undoubtedly pull him through. Rollins may be in a position to threaten him but he’s capable of going to dark places and doing what he needs to do to get the job done – and in this case, it’s eliminating the threat to him, his family and his career.
The crowd were hanging off Edge’s every word and he’s truly one of the most captivating promos out there. He can be the joker or he can seem like he’s willing to rip your head off and it’s always believable. Apparently, Edge is going to burn Seth down and everyone is totally here for it. I must say Rollins has played the unlikeable prick extremely well for this feud to the point where everyone wants to see him get his behind served to him on a plate at SummerSlam. That’s what I love about feuds with a clear face/heel dynamic – none of this tweener stuff. I want the crowd solidly behind Edge on Saturday and I want him to destroy him. But we all know how sneaky Seth can be, so we’ll soon find out who the real ultimate opportunist is.
Rey Mysterio (with Dominik) vs Jey Uso (with Jimmy)
The Rey/Dominik teaching storyline continues, as does the Mysterios feuding with the Usos. It’s funny how the Usos went through a period of feeling like the hottest guys when associated with Roman but they’ve really had to take a back seat to his feud with Cena over the past month or so. Now they don’t feel so hot which is a shame, but it might be down to their never-ending work with the Mysterios. As I’ve ranted about before, the tag division needs a shake-up and some new blood, so let’s see what their plans are post-SummerSlam. For now, we got a pretty decent singles match where Rey always amazes me as to how damn good he is at this point in his career. I wish I could be that fast and athletic at any age, but it never quite happened for me. That’ll be all the chicken nuggets.
A solid back and forth match between the two guys with the other two being sneaky outside the ring as has become commonplace in all their matches. This time Dominik tried to cheat to help his dad win again but Charles Robinson caught him and threw him out, allowing Jey to capitalise on Rey’s distraction and it was a 1-2-3 for the family. The Usos get the momentum going into SummerSlam and the seeds are still being sown for a struggle between Rey and Dominik. Will the young superstar finally crack and have enough of his dad’s advice? Or will he learn to listen and actually gain success? Only time will tell.
Kevin Owens vs Baron Corbin
King Corbin no more, but Money In The Bank Baron Corbin? Maybe just maybe. Depending on how WWE’s legal team is feeling at the moment because he randomly grabbed it off Big E last week and now it’s in his possession and that’s like 9/10ths of the law or something right. Kevin clearly hasn’t given up on smacking some sense into Corbin but I’m not sure it’s going to help. I loved how Baron looked absolutely paranoid when walking out to the ring and cuddling the briefcase tight. To be honest, if I were him I would’ve left it in a safe place but hey what do I know. I’ve never stolen anything in my life.
Corbin seemed a little distracted this week but still took the fight to Owens who was clearly frustrated having to waste his time with such a bum. Thanks for that one Pat McAfee. The inevitable happened when Big E ran out to try and reclaim his briefcase, causing Baron to win by disqualification so hopefully that means he gets some money now. Just when it looked like Big E was going to get the briefcase back Corbin managed to reverse his fortunes and throw him into the ring post, giving him the opportunity to run away with it again. Oh Baron you sneaky bastard you.
Women’s Tag Title Championship Contenders Match – Shotzi and Nox vs Natalya and Tamina (c)
I feel like Natalya is back quicker than that time John Cena made his surprise Royal Rumble return. You won’t be shocked to hear that her return hasn’t exactly been greeted with quite the excitement that his was though. But hey here we are with a contenders match which is a bit odd because I’m sure Shotzi and Nox have already beaten the champs no? So why are we having this match again? How many do they need to win? It’s all a bit odd and doesn’t really make any sense at all but I guess it’s WWE’s way of dragging this stuff out. I love Shotzi and Nox’s entrance so I would like them to win everything, please.
It’s nice to see two NXT stars look like legitimate threats on the main roster and WWE definitely need to invest more in creating new female stars on their roster. It’s not like they don’t have the talent but they’ve relied on Charlotte and Becky etc for a long time and if they don’t start building the others up then it’ll all fall down around them. I say that but I’ll jump up and down once Becky returns. Anyway, we all know how I feel about Tamina so I’d probably be happy with any team taking the belts off her. Shotzi looked absolutely awesome this week and worked both Tamina and Natalya, taking the load off Nox and even rolling up Natalya for the win. I’m not super excited about a rematch for the titles but hopefully, it’ll go the right way. Shotzi and Nox could really kickstart the division again.
No real drip from Seth Rollins this week as he came out in a smart-looking white suit ready to give his response to Edge. Not sure why he wasn’t around earlier to meet him face to face but maybe he was just too busy in catering. Or it probably just takes him a lot longer to get ready than it does Edge which would be a fair point. After running his mouth a bit, Rollins was greeted by the old Brood theme and some moody lighting.
Sadly Gangrel didn’t turn up and who knows what Christian is doing these days but a huge amount of yucky black liquid was dropped on him humiliating the former champion and completely ruining his suit. That dry cleaning bill is going to be immense. Oh Edge, you’ve made Seth mad. I think their SummerSlam match will be off the charts.
Montez Ford (with Angelo Dawkins) vs Otis (with Chad Gable)
I probably say this every time Montez Ford wrestles but I love him so much. I really do. Everything about him just oozes charisma and talent and that’s one of the guys that they really need to focus on to build the company in the next few years. Him and Big E. Seriously, both are completely different in what they do but they bring the same energy that top stars desperately need. They just get it. Although fair play to a guy like Otis who has had a lot of ups and downs on his main roster journey but certainly tries his best with whatever he’s given.
Ford tried to take it to Otis this week and I like that he has no fear. But sometimes you’ve got to be a bit sensible with what you’re doing and making a guy like Otis angry isn’t the best of moves, especially when he’s clearly miserable 99% of the time anyway. Why would you piss him off? Montez sold each and every move by Otis like it was being hit by a truck and while he tried to use his speed and athletic ability to overcome the beast from the Academy it simply didn’t work out for him in the end. Otis’ big strikes were too much and he won with yet another corner splash. Is that it for this feud? I’d be okay with that. Fingers crossed. Give me Otis vs Roman.
King Nakamura and BOOGS vs Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez
One day I’ll have to show you my dancing to BOOGS and you’ll love it. It’s definitely on a level with Pat McAfee for sure. Not quite as good but getting there. It would appear that Nakamura vs Crews is going to be the new Big E vs Crews so as fun as this match was, I’m sure you’ll see it another 50 times before the end of the year anyway. That’s a feeling you can’t help but have about most matches most weeks on SmackDown which is a shame. They’re usually pretty decent matches but they need to work on maybe not repeating them all over and over. There’s rarely anything must-see on SmackDown because you know you’ll see some form of it next week or the week after.
Anyway we all know how great Nakamura is in the ring and Apollo too and even the Commander isn’t too bad so let’s talk about the fact that BOOGS wrestled this week. Yes, he wasn’t just outside the ring doing his guitar bit and causing a bit of mischief. He was actually a legit competitor and he looked pretty decent! I know he did some work in NXT but this would’ve been the first time a lot of the audience actually got to see him wrestle and he’s got some impressive strength and amateur wrestling skills going for him. He even got some BOOGS chants during the match. And guess what? BOOGS WON. He pinned Apollo. I don’t think Pat McAfee has ever been more excited in his life.
Bianca Belair vs Zelina Vega and vs Carmella
With no Sasha Banks in sight, it was left to her two dastardly puppets to do the dirty work for her. There have been rumours floating around that there are concerns about the Belair and Banks match going ahead at SummerSlam so we’ll see what happens there but for now, we seem to be proceeding as if it is. And what better way to build up your champion than feeding her two heel opponents and make her look especially dominant against them. Now I get it but if you keep beating the same people over and over then it doesn’t help anyone too much. It’s not impressive for the winner and the losers keep looking like losers.
Both matches were kept short. Vega got a very near fall in but really her match was pointless as it was over before it even started as she ate a KOD and lost. I’m sure she’s absolutely loving her return to WWE at the moment. I know she feels like she has unfinished business but that’s certainly not improving week on week right now. Carmella really has her ups and downs, doesn’t she? They seem to invest time in her sometimes and then lose interest and it keeps happening. She had a little more fight in her than Zelina did but really it was all about showcasing Bianca and what she’s capable of. So no surprise a second KOD came and the champ walked out victorious. We’ll just have to wait and see if Banks is the one to be opposite her in the ring on Saturday.
Face To Face – Roman Reigns and John Cena
JOHN CENA SUCKSSSSSSSSSS. JOHN CENA SUCKSSSSSSS. I almost miss those chants. Can’t we do those in the same way we respectfully chanted YOU SUCK at Kurt Angle? I think that’d be fun. Yet another week where Paul Heyman didn’t sing Cena to the ring though. Utter disappointment. We did get another lengthy entrance from Roman though. I feel like I could write an entire review before he gets to the ring sometimes. He’s certainly been trolling people on the media interviews this week and good for him. He believes in himself in the way a top champion should. Roman presents a cocky and confident persona to Cena but John sees vulnerability and all it takes is a single opening and a 1-2-3 and it’s all over.
Cena’s looking to demote Roman and ruin him and take his title and basically hold it hostage until WrestleMania because he’ll be off making films. I’m not sure I really like that idea. Roman Reigns still believes that no one can beat him though and decided to make Cena an offer – either Roman leaves as the Universal Champion or he leaves WWE completely. Not quite sure how I feel about that because I don’t really buy into Roman leaving at this point so it’s a strange stipulation to throw in there but stranger things have happened. I just thought the match was intriguing enough without any added stipulations or references to Cena not being around in the future. Although if Cena did win it really would feel like CM Punk at Money in the Bank all over again and that certainly would be good timing this weekend especially.
The best of SmackDown
- Baron Corbin – not only did he win a match but he even kept his briefcase
- Edge – a passionate promo and making a mess of Seth Rollins
- BOOGS – what a win for the rockstar
- Shotzi and Nox – a huge win for them again on their way to tag gold
The worst of SmackDown
- Rematches – still far too many
- Zelina Vega and Carmella – they were made to look pretty damn useless
- No CM Punk – guess he was busy that night
A solid go-home effort before SummerSlam and I am looking forward to the PPV although I think a fair few matches do look like I might want to skip them. Mostly on the red side of things. Obviously, all the buzz from AEW is making people wonder if WWE will try and outdo them by doing some interesting things at the PPV so it’s probably worth watching for that alone. I’m sure we’ll get Hulk Hogan and Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar. Maybe Vince will get on the phone to Taker or something. Or none of that’ll happen and we’ll probably just get an announcement for another Saudi show. I’d settle for a free ice cream bar.
All images and videos courtesy of WWE