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Monday Night Raw Rants: The Club Reunites Edition

The Nerd Hub celebrates as The Club reunites this week with our WWE Monday Night Raw rants. We also celebrate the return of anything substantial actually happening on the show for the first time in weeks. Sure, Ricochet held off another challenge from AJ Styles in a repeat main event from last week. However, the big news emanating from American Airlines Center in Dallas involved Big Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and Styles turning heel together.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: AJ TURNS HEEL, REUNITES THE CLUB

WWE threw all kinds of swerves at us in the United States Championship title match main event. First, Styles appeared to have won the belt in the early going. He socked Ricochet with the Phenomenal Forearm and pinned his shoulders for the three count. However, replay and official John Cone informed the other referee that the champ got his foot under the rope. Therefore, the title change got negated and the two wrestled on.

What ensued became a seesaw affair between Ricochet and Styles. Ultimately, Ricochet came out on top as the athleticism of both took center stage during the match.

Enter The Club.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came to ringside, where they gave mock applause to the defending champ. Styles positioned himself in between his old running buddies and The One and Only, seemingly in a protective stance. However, Styles then suckerpunched Ricochet out of nowhere and announced his heel turn. Gallows and Anderson joined in for good, old-fashioned beatdown from The Club.

Don’t look now, but perhaps WWE may actually book guys we like being heel to challenge their babyfaces. You know, NOT Shane McMahon. The Club can band together and put fear into Universal Champ Seth Rollins, WWE Champ Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns, Ricochet or Intercontinental Champ Finn Balor. Literally, any champion (besides Drake Maverick) WWE chooses to throw these guys up against would create a story likely to engage viewers.

 

BEST OF THE REST: BRAUN STROWMAN DESTROYING THINGS

WWE finally decided to end the weird contests between two of its biggest monsters. It let them do what monsters do at the box office each summer – destroy things. Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley ended the silly thread of arm wrestling and tug of war with a Falls Count Anywhere match.

The Almighty took it to The Monster Among Men a good portion of the match. Lashley whipped Strowman into the ring post before spearing him through the timekeeper’s area. Then, they took the action to the crowd. However, the assault on Braun continued as Bob smacked him liberally with a steel chair.

The babyface monster battled back with a huge running shoulder tackle. Then, he lobbed Bob onto the stage where he commenced to spearing him through a video board. It drew sparks from the board and an expletive from Corey Graves at the announce table. It also got a no-contest result as medics had to tend to both men.

You can tell Paul Heyman runs the show now on Monday Night Raw. This show smacked of Heyman if ever any show smacked of the “Paulrus” as The King calls him. Nobody knows how to cater to our inner big kid with violence and destruction more than Heyman.  The only criticism of this extension of the Strowman-Lashley feud I have is that it came out of left field. These guys went from tugging rope to blowing up sets in a week. However, that’s a huge improvement, so I’m not complaining.

 

BIG WINNER: MIKE & MARIA KANELLIS

When I previewed Stomping Grounds, I posited that WWE’s new contract extensions with Mike and Maria Kanellis likely meant an impending Cruiserweight Championship run. Little did I know, the couple would go from a near total non-factor on TV to a feud with the Universal Champ and Raw Women’s Champ.

Welcome back to the big leagues, Mike and Maria Kanellis. They set up a mixed tag match with Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch backstage. So, those of you cringing at WWE exploiting the relationship between Rollins and Lynch for entertainment purposes likely didn’t enjoy this. However, it certainly created an unexpected and entertaining twist to the storylines of the champs. They’ve both had unending rivalries with Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans lately.

However, the drama just began to unfold at the start of the match. When Becky Lynch tagged into the match, Maria dropped to the floor and grabbed a mic. She began berating her husband, Mike. She also claimed she couldn’t compete due to being pregnant. As Maria continued to lambaste her man, The Man made Mike tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in the ring.

This led Maria to continue her rantings, saying that Becky Lynch represented the only man in the ring. Maria added that she’d ask Becky to impregnate her next time. Mike got left speechless as she walked off.

In addition to the Strowman-Lashley destruction content, this proved to me Heyman took charge this week. He’s stated in the past that Maria represents one of the most creative people with whom he’s ever worked. Apparently, he’s so confident in her abilities he didn’t care too much about pulling them from nowhere into this confrontation. Yet, many people tired of endless Lynch-Lacey Evans and Rollins-Baron Corbin content. So, this gave us something different for a change.

 

BIG LOSER: THE UNDERTAKER

Consider it part of my Shane McMahon fatigue. The Undertaker delivered a promo along with Shane-O-Mac and Drew McIntyre. The Dead Man vowed Shane and the Scottish Psychopath would rest in peace at Extreme Rules. In addition, Undertaker brought up their WrestleMania 32 tussle and claimed “The Best in the World” amounts to nothing but another lost soul among many.

Don’t get me wrong. The Undertaker is what he is at this point. He’s a nostalgia act trotted out to grab attention every now and again. However, this promo represents a cut-and-paste of any Undertaker promo you’ve seen for decades. It gets the job done, but it’s hardly unexpected or exciting.

 

HIGH FIVE

Street Profits – The NXT Tag Team Champs appeared on Raw in a meeting with Heyman. As always, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins gave an energetic hype job of their impending main roster debut. These guys bring an electricity and energy to matches in a way that’s kind of lacking in the tag division right now. They will instantly help either show they appear on.

24/7 Championship Race – Drake Maverick outsmarted R-Truth to win his coveted title back as he also tries to save his storyline marriage. The champ came out as part of No Way Jose’s Conga Line. Truth couldn’t resist rubbing it in while Maverick sat ringside with his wife who told him he’d have to choose between her or the title. However, the 205 Live GM got the last laugh by smashing Truth with a briefcase and pinning him during some of the last moments of Raw.

Carmella – The former SmackDown Women’s Champion rarely gets to wrestle on the Blue Brand these days. However, she successfully defeated SmackDown Women’s title contender Alexa Bliss on Raw. Mella did wind up losing to Nikki Cross in an ensuing match. Yet, the Staten Island Princess had to get excited about being involved in something other than being R-Truth’s sidekick.

The Viking Raiders – Erik and Ivar teamed up with Samoa Joe to hand The New Day a beating. Don’t look now, but the former NXT Champs just keep winning. So, they can  make a big impact on Raw going forward. They just need the time and commitment from the WWE creative team to do it.

Cesaro – The Swiss Cyborg ruthlessly beat WWE sparring dummy No Way Jose to a no contest. The character reboot continues for the former member of The Bar. He’s a no-nonsense, physical villain out to smack the teeth out of any babyface. It’s the type of role he’s perfectly suited to pull off. He could easily work into any feuds involving faces the WWE wants to help get over.

 

LOW FIVE

Lacey Evans/Baron Corbin – The Lady of the WWE needed to play the numbers game to beat Natalya. Yes, the same Natalya who has virtually gone into the WWE Superstar Protection Program since Ronda Rousey jetted. Kudos for getting Evans involved with someone other than Lynch. However, she lacks teeth as a credible championship contender. This booking doesn’t exactly convince anyone she’s got the goods to take down The Man.

The Miz – The A-Lister defeated Elias in a Best-of-3 Falls match. He took advantage of The Walking Truth smashing his knee into the ring post with a decisive Figure Four. However, this feud just represents two guys whose career have stalled recently in the wake of Shane McMahon’s heel push. These guys turned in some of the best content for their shows in 2018. Now, they’re involved in a pedestrian, mid-card beef.

Nikki Cross – The WWE seemed to skip ahead in their to-this-point, well-paced storyline with Cross and Bliss. Carmella calling out just how reliant The Goddess is on Cross and then beating her gave us something fantastic. However, they should’ve cut the show for these three there. Instead, they gave us a rushed match to create doubt as to whether it should be Bliss or Cross facing Bayley at Extreme Rules. Sure, we knew we were headed there. However, this seemed like fast-tracking the story a bit too much.

Bray Wyatt – The Firefly Fun House segments grew to become one of the best things on Raw the past few months. So, we notice when Bray or The Fiend goes silent. Hopefully, this carries no significance in the plans for him.

The Revival/The Usos – Extreme Rules sits only a few weeks away, but the champs and their big rivals provided nothing further. Maybe WWE just wanted to give Street Profits time on the mic by themselves. However, their appearance possibly could’ve hit another level with involvement from either of these teams. In my opinion, even a staring match as they walk past each other could’ve generated some excitement.

 

RELATED: MONDAY NIGHT RAW RANTS: RICOCHET EDITION

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Monday Night Raw Rants: Ricochet Edition

Welcome to The Nerd Hub where we’re ushering in the Ricochet Era as United States Champ. The One and Only picked a doozy of a first match as champ on Monday Night Raw. He took on AJ Styles in the main event of the Stomping Grounds fallout show in Everett, Washington. Without further ado, let’s go to the no-holds barred review of the show.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: RICOCHET-STYLES I WAS PHENOMENAL

AJ Styles looked every bit the Phenomenal One in his return. He took a few minutes in the early stages of the match to get warmed up. However, he and the new US Champion put on a tremendous show. Styles ducked a 630 Splash and then hit a Phenomenal Forearm to win the non-title match. Yet, this properly showcased Ricochet as a breakout Superstar on the rise.

Furthermore, this whet our appetites for when the two work together on a grander stage. WWE can build a program between the two possibly leading up to SummerSlam. In addition, a feud with a babyface champ would work if WWE turns Styles heel and reunites The Club as rumored.

Most importantly, Ricochet received a major upgrade from working the midcard with Cesaro. His victory over Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds for the title served as a surprise. However, that’s only because WWE hadn’t booked him as a serious title threat going into it. He proved in the indies and at NXT that he’s got all of the talent in the world.

 

BEST OF THE REST: USOS WIN TAG TEAM FEATURE MATCH

The Usos teamed up with New Day to battle both heel champion tag teams in an elimination match. Unfortunately for SmackDown Champs Rowan and Daniel Bryan, Raw Champs Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson took exception with them. Wilder got upset at Bryan and decked him with a stiff right. As a result, Xavier Woods rolled up Bryan for the first elimination. However, The Revival quickly evened the odds by hitting Woods with their Shatter Machine.

Once the SmackDown teams got eliminated, we were left with a showdown of Raw’s best teams. Then, Jey Uso scored the deciding blow. He nailed Dawson with a diving splash off Wilder’s back to get the 1-2-3.

The Usos and The Revival deserve all the time they can get with so many of Raw’s  other acts floundering. These teams work well off each other and have delivered each time they take the ring. In addition, the inclusion of SmackDown’s best teams gave the match a unique feel. This segment served as one of the few times the wild card angle helped the show in recent weeks

 

BIG WINNER: 24/7 CHAMPIONSHIP STORYLINE

WWE finally found some semblance of interesting story for its 24/7 Championship. Following weeks of midcarder mobs chasing R-Truth and Carmella, we received an interesting angle with Drake Maverick. The 205 Live General Manager defeated R-Truth for the title and proudly wore it to his storyline wedding over the weekend. However, R-Truth crashed the nuptials and won his title back.

Then, Maverick used an interview segment with R-Truth and Carmella on Miz TV to demand a rematch. So, WWE announced a rare exception to the 24/7 rules and banned the mob from appearing at ringside. Thus, Maverick got a one-on-one shot with R-Truth. However, Truth quickly hit The Equalizer and defeated the dejected Maverick. As a result, Maverick had to watch “the love of his life” – the 24/7 title belt – leave with Truth.

The scene got chaotic from there. The mob rushed the ring after the decision against Maverick became official and chased Truth. This time, the 24/7 title pursuit interrupted a match between Heath Slater and Mojo Rawley. Slater took advantage by rolling up Truth to win the title. However, Truth quickly won the title back. Then, he ate a Lumbar Check from Cedric Alexander, who then became the champion. Yet, the former Cruiserweight Champ got ambushed by EC3, who then became champ. But Truth won the title back when Carmella distracted EC3 by grabbing the belt from him. As a result, Truth rolled up EC3 to become the nine-time 24/7 Champion.

As mentioned previously, I’m not a huge fan of this championship angle. However, WWE hit jackpot with the running thread between goofballs. Truth and Maverick actually could’ve received more time for their match. They certainly keep fans invested with their social media content.

 

BIG LOSER: THE MIZ

WWE went for the shock value and had Undertaker appear. The Dead Man provided the cavalry as Roman Reigns got mowed down in a handicap match. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre essentially announced a 2-on-1 free-for-all and lit up The Big Dog. Shane O’Mac hit Reigns with a spear and McIntyre followed up with a Claymore. Then, Shane loaded up for a Coast-to-Coast. However, the gong sounded and Undertaker cleaned house. Everyone at home had to delight at seeing Shane chokeslammed. We love to see an over-pushed McMahon get his just desserts.

Obviously, WWE will use this to build Undertaker and Reigns against McIntyre and McMahon. Presumably, the team up happens as quickly as Extreme Rules. Any Undertaker sighting usually wows some fans. However, he and Goldberg just struggled through a match at Super ShowDown where both could’ve gotten seriously hurt. I know the prevailing sentiment puts the responsibility for much of that on Goldberg. But part-timers in their 50s making several appearances in a short time screams a problem.

Moreover, the history between Reigns and Undertaker made this a head-scratcher. Reigns defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania and dealt him a storyline injury that kept him out of WWE for over a year. If you’re Undertaker, does that sound like a guy you want to help?

In fact, WWE already had a full-time talent that would’ve suited this role much better. Miz still has plenty of heat for Shane McMahon. The A-Lister and Reigns already teamed up in shows prior. It makes far more sense to include Miz in this than Undertaker. As a result of this oversight, Miz once again gets used primarily as a prop for another segment. Creatively, this reeked of bad planning by WWE.

 

HIGH FIVE

Baron Corbin-Lacey Evans – The heel tandem no one wanted at Stomping Grounds opened the show. Much to the angst of fans, they challenged Universal Champ Seth Rollins and Raw Women’s Champ Becky Lynch to a match at Extreme Rules. It didn’t take long for Twitter to light up with fans bemoaning a continuation of these feuds. Lynch and Evans started right after WrestleMania. Rollins and Corbin had plenty of matches going back to 2018. Besides, both Evans and Corbin just lost twice to the champs on pay-per-views. However, WWE added a twist. Corbin said the match would carry a Winners Take All stipulation. Therefore, the heels would win both the red belts with a victory at Extreme Rules. Let’s pray to God that doesn’t happen.

Samoa Joe – The opportunistic former US Champ took his shot at WWE Champ Kofi Kingston on Monday Night Raw. He waited until Kingston wrestled singles matches against both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Then, The Destroyer ambushed Kingston, laying him out with a uranage and the Coquina Clutch. This provided an interesting twist to the Kingston-Owens-Zayn dynamic. We’ll need to stay tuned to see if Joe gets the next shot at the WWE Champion.

Alexa Bliss-Nikki Cross – The execution of the segment came off disjointed. Bliss started off with a singles match victory over Naomi. Bliss commenced with a post-match beatdown of The Glow Queen. Though Cross didn’t rush to join The Goddess, she got involved when Natalya came out to help Naomi. As a result, Cross and Bliss teamed up for another victory. However, the result continued to further their storyline. Cross hit the decisive swinging neckbreaker, but Bliss made a blind tag to get the glory of the pinfall.

Kofi Kingston – The WWE Champ continues the push to the moon. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn picked up a rare victory over New Day at Stomping Grounds. However, each took a turn putting over Kingston on Raw in back-to-back matches.

R-Truth-Drake Maverick – As mentioned above, the two guys gave the 24/7 Championship race an interesting story for the first time. These two continue to make it their mission on social media to drive interest for this gimmick. They deserve more time to work together in the ring.

LOW FIVE

Braun Strowman-Bobby Lashley – WWE booked a tug-of-war contest between its resident behemoths. This came on the heels of an arm-wrestling competition recently. They should book the limbo next. However, it’s hard to imagine things getting lower for either one of these guys.

The Good Brothers – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson got good news this week. They made it on to WWE TV. Unfortunately, they served as a squash match loser to the also infrequently-used Viking Raiders. WWE seems to be sending mixed signals with these guys. Are they trying to get them to stay by reforming The Club with Styles? Or are they pushing them out the door like they did with don’t-call-me Dean Ambrose? This match seemed to point toward the latter.

The Viking Raiders – Sure, they got a win in quick fashion. However, the former NXT Tag Team Champs make such rare appearances that they don’t get the credibility they should from their main roster dominance. They get booked to look impressive in romps. Unfortunately, it’s led them nowhere to this point.

Mojo Rawley – You have to feel for a guy that doesn’t actually get a TV match even when one’s announced. The audience knew to expect a curveball when he and Heather Slater were in the ring. Yet, it must sting for a guy who seemed to be building toward a second-chance push with months of promos to get nothing.

Naomi & Natalya – We received confirmation both of these former women’s champions are alive. That’s a positive. Yet, nothing good happened outside of appearing on TV for the first time in weeks. In fact, Naomi got to eat two L’s for her trouble. Outside of Becky Lynch, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, hardly any Raw women appear on TV. You have to feel both the Glow Queen and the Queen of Harts.

 

RELATED: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND ROLLYNCH RULES: STOMPING GROUNDS 

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The Good, The Bad and Rollynch Rules: Stomping Grounds Edition

Welcome to The Nerd Hub and our celebration of the champion couple Rollynch at WWE Stomping Grounds. Sure, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch retained their titles. However, it’s the style with which they accomplished those championship feats which has the WWE Universe talking. So, let’s review what has everyone talking about from Sunday’s show at the Tacoma Dome.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: ROLLYNCH FOILS CORBIN, EVANS

Looorrrddd, Baron Corbin threw a curveball at us with his special guest referee. Lacey Evans appeared in a Universal Championship match angle after 6 months on the main roster. So, any fans hoping the Lady would fade away got a Woman’s Right to the chops with that booking. Yet, The Man made sure her man, Rollins, kept the Rollynch championship power couple intact at WWE Stomping Grounds.

Evans gave Corbin every advantage in the dirty ref playbook. The Sassy Southern Belle let The Lone Wolf strike Rollins with chair shots before calling for the bell. Then, she frustrated The Beastslayer with slow counts when he worked his way back into the match. Even when Rollins powerbombed Corbin through the announce table, Evans thwarted the champ by declaring its a “No Count Out” match. Corbin responded by whipping Rollins with a chair again. That’s when Evans let us all know the match also had changed to include a “No Disqualification” stipulation.

However, Lynch turned the tables on the heels. She exploded to the ring and leveled Evans with haymakers. In fact, she nearly nailed a Bexploder on Evans through a barricade. Fortunately for our champ, he got enough time to rally from an End of Days. Though Corbin attempted a second EOD, Rollins countered with a superkick and stomp for the victory.

Though some fans cringed at the idea of including a real life relationship in the story, a majority enjoyed Rollynch standing tall. Whether you enjoyed WWE shining a spotlight on their relationship, you have to credit the company for a swerve. Most fans made their mind up to hate Stomping Grounds before the show aired. Admittedly, it featured plenty of rematches. However, some of the surprises and victories by fan favorites provided a better ending than most expected.

In addition, WWE sent a message that Rollins, Lynch, Evans and Corbin figure prominently going forward. Some worried whether one or both members of Rollynch would drop a belt. Yet, they’re still on top. I’d also be surprised if we saw the last of the Evans-Lynch and Rollins-Corbin rivalries.

 

GOOD: GULAK BECOMES CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION

The Cruiserweights got banished back to the pre-show for Stomping Grounds. However, Drew Gulak, Akira Tozawa and defending champ Tony Nese impressed in their triple-threat match.

The match served as a big rollercoaster with near falls for each competitor. The deciding sequence began when The Premier Athlete tried to hit the “Running Nese” on Gulak. Unfortunately for Nese, Gulak countered with a Torture Rack. The heel then dropped Nese on the apron and Tozawa knocked the champ to the floor with a missile dropkick. As a result, Gulak got the opening he needed. He hit a Torture Rack Neckbreaker on Tozawa to become the new Cruiserweight Champion.

So, we got the result we expected with a title change. Gulak beat Tozawa so Nese can say he never really lost his title. Therefore, Gulak and Nese likely find themselves on a collision course for a grudge match at Extreme Rules.

 

BAD: EVANS UNDERWHELMS IN THE RING AGAIN

This rating falls solely on Evans’ shoulders. The booking went off perfectly. The Man absolutely deserved to retain. Obviously, WWE still feels bulllish on Evans, but her in-ring work simply screams she’s not ready yet for the title.

Astute viewers can see Lynch calling out spots for Evans the entire match. In addition, Evans clearly failed to get into position for moves a few times. With that being said, she’s still a highly entertaining character. The potential for her to rise to stardom remains. That’s why WWE continues to push her and will likely to continue to do so. However, they risk alienating potential fans of hers with a too-much-too-soon approach.

As for the match, Evans’ attempt to embarrass Lynch with the handkerchief led to her undoing again. The Man grabbed it and shoved it back into Evans’ mouth. The defending champ’s rally culminated in another Dis-Arm-Her submission victory. So, I know many hoped that successive submission victories at Money in the Bank and Stomping Grounds would end this feud. However, Evans’ inclusion in the business of Rollynch during the main event likely means it will continue.

 

GOOD: KO & ZAYN GET OVER ON NEW DAY

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn needed a win badly. They spent the past few months taking nothing but L’s against WWE Champ Kofi Kingston and New Day. So, this one got booked right as well.

Furthermore, the ring psychology of the match made all the sense in the world. The heels isolated and beat up on Xavier Woods. Meanwhile, they did just enough to fend off Big E to remain victorious. Even when Big E hit a thunderous spear to knock Zayn out of the ring, it played into the hands of the baddies. KO took advantage against Woods, hitting a Stunner for the victory.

Maintaining credibility for Owens and Zayn made a victory a necessity. Meanwhile, New Day suffers nothing from the loss. They will still get a roar from the crowd when they come out next with Kofi.

 

GOOD: RICOCHET WINS THE UNITED STATES TITLE

This provided the first surprise of the night for me. Don’t get me wrong. Ricochet deserves a huge push. However, WWE had me worried when they seemingly had him going nowhere with 50-50 booking against Cesaro. Eventually, he took two of three from the Swiss Cyborg. Yet, neither of those victories compare to his biggest main roster on to date, a win over Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds for the US belt.

Though this one took a bit to get on track, the match soared once it got going. Joe’s overwhelming power dominated a good portion of the match. However, the babyface challenger fought his way back from everything, including a Coquina Clutch. Ricochet appeared to be seconds from losing consciousness. Then, he countered by dropping Joe’s neck on the top rope. He followed up with a knee strike to the face and his trademark 630 Splash for the victory.

In addition to the One and Only’s title win, WWE announced later a meeting with AJ Styles. Ricochet will take on The Phenomenal One in a non-title match on Monday Night Raw. Therefore, WWE clearly had bigger plans for Ricochet than we imagined. Meanwhile, Joe’s run as US Champion ended in underwhelming fashion with a program against Rey Mysterio that fell flat.

 

GOOD: TAG TEAM WRESTLING SIZZLES IN SD TITLE MATCH

Washington native Daniel Bryan and tag team partner Rowan combined with Heavy Machinery to put on a tag team wrestling clinic. Bryan scored the victory with a roll-up on Tucker to keep the belts on the heel champs. However, Otis and Tucker proved they can hang with the heavyweights of the tag team division in a big spot.

Early on, Heavy Machinery’s heft proved too much for the Earth’s Champ. Otis shrugged off Bryan’s arsenal of kicks. Then, he and Tucker hit a double-team suplex to send Bryan reeling. However, the 7-foot Redwood turned the tide on the Steaks & Weights Crew. He slugged it out, toe-to-toe with Otis and Tucker. Yet, the numbers game wore on Rowan. Eventually, Otis won a back-and-forth clothesline contest and hit a massive bodyslam.

As usual, Bryan saved the day. He hit a flying knee from the top rope to thwart Heavy Machinery’s Compactor attempt. Though Tucker got the momentum back with a top-rope splash on Rowan, he ended up falling to Bryan on the roll-up from nowhere.

These two teams didn’t disappoint. After the match, Bryan hyped tag team wrestling on social media. It sounds like WWE remains committed to bringing more respectability to that division. If this match provided any indication, expect more good things to come from Bryan & Rowan against Heavy Machinery on Tuesdays.

 

GOOD: BAYLEY RETAINS, BLISS-CROSS STORY GAINS

The SmackDown Women’s Championship match also checked all the boxes as great booking continued. Bayley scored the victory to keep her momentum growing as one of the best babyface champs on either roster. Meanwhile, WWE continued to develop the twisted friendship angle between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Furthermore, Bliss proved quite a bit in her first spotlight singles title match since SummerSlam last August. Health concerns caused her to miss a lot of time and stay out of the ring at first upon her return. However, she looks like she’s all the way back now.

The ring story clicked on all cylinders. Bliss exploited her friend several times to gain an advantage The Hugger. However, Bayley once again outsmarted the heels as they unraveled. Ultimately, the unhinged nature of Cross ending up costing The Goddess another reign with the blue belt.

Bayley’s clinching push started when she fought her way back from Bliss targeting her arm. The Hugger hit a Sunset Flip Bomb that sent Bliss’ head smacking into a turnbuckle. The Goddess rolled to the outside and then used Cross as a human shield on Bayley’s Suicide Dive. However, this infuriated Cross and that hot-headed temper ended up costing Bliss. The Scot stormed into the ring and threw a fit at the ref while Bayley got her knees up on a Twisted Bliss attempt. The champ then hit her patented Bayley-to-Belly for the 1-2-3.

In summation, we got the right winner, a tremendous ring story and great performances from all three women. This one likely exceeded expectations anyone had going into the match.

 

BAD: REIGNS-MCINTYRE ALL ABOUT MCMAHON AGAIN

WWE had a nice slugfest between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre brewing. Sure, it’s a WrestleMania 35 rematch. However, these guys could easily collide for a Universal Championship title in the future.

Unfortunately, the end of the match got bogged down with Shane McMahon interference. The “Best in the World” broke up a pinfall attempt, assaulted an official and hit a Coast-to-Coast on Reigns. Yet, Reigns overcame all the odds this time, unlike his Super ShowDown loss to McMahon. He rallied and nailed McIntyre with a spear to collect a victory in his rematch with McIntyre.

As a result of the booking, WWE failed to make the Scottish Psychopath look like anything more than McMahon’s minion. Reigns and McIntyre engaged in a physical, hotly contested match that could’ve done more to elevate Drew. However, the priority once again became Shane-O-Mac. Obviously, this did nothing more than serve as a commercial for an Extreme Rules gimmick match with Reigns and Shane.

 

GOOD: WWE GAVE KOFI AND ZIGGLER TIME TO WORK

The WWE Championship match built slowly, but turned into a drama-filled classic. These two veterans relished the Stomping Grounds spotlight after toiling in the midcard most of their careers. In addition, it served as a perfect setup for the drama to come in the main event between Rollynch and Corbin and Evans.

Ziggler teased making a break for it out of the steel cage early on twice. Kingston also tried to escape once in the early going. Then, the two settled in and had a hell of a match. The Hollywood Heel used the cage as his torture instrument. He had the champ reeling with a pair of leg locks and a Zig Zag. Then, he took aim for the belt with the cage door open. Though mere inches separated him from victory, Kingston stole the win with a head-first dive through the open door. As a result, Kingston hit the floor first before Ziggler could make his escape. WWE.com called it one of the most “spectacular conclusions to a Steel Cage Match in WWE history.”

Critics railed against Ziggler at Super ShowDown, alleging he looked flat quite a bit. He must’ve taken that to heart because the rematch had passion and energy. Though he ate two L’s from Kingston just week apart, Ziggler came off looking strong. Meanwhile, Kofi continues to turn in classic in-ring work almost every time he works a pay-per-view show. He keeps finding ways to excel above anyone’s expectations.

 

RELATED: WHO BOOKED THIS CRAP: STOMPING GROUNDS EDITION

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