The Road to Brooklyn Goes Through…..Florida??? – This Week in WWE – 7/30-8/1/2018


Monday Night Raw – Miami, Florida – 7/30/2018

By Jeremy Brunson

Welcome to the land of Pitbull, a place where Will Smith used to sing about, and the TV home of the Golden Girls.  What does the red brand have to give us this week?  Why, it’s the return of the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and his faithful advocate, Paul Heyman.  But before that, let’s talk about everything else:

  • Constable Corbin defeated Finn Bálor in a 3 segment match!  3 segments!  Haven’t we also watched this 18 weeks in a row?  No?  It sure feels like it.  I don’t dislike what they’re doing with Corbin and I love Finn, but they need to figure something else out here for these two guys.
  • Alicia Fox w/ Alexa Bliss defeated Natayla with Ronda Rousey.  We all knew that Ronda was getting involved here.  It’s still weird to me that Nattie had an instant face turn as soon as Ronda came around.  Bliss took a cheap shot on Nattie.  Ronda tried to chase Bliss but Fox took advantage and hit Ronda.  Bliss kept Rousey occupied while Alicia Fox got the pin.  This just sets up a match next week between Ronda and Fox.
  • Elias insulted Miami for being the home of Pittbull’s terrible music.  He also issued a challenge to The Rock, which after the disaster of Skyscraper might actually be answered.  Bobby Lashley showed up to sing terribly.  Elias couldn’t stand it and took him out.
    • Seriously, what’s the point of bringing Bobby Lashley back?  I just don’t believe he has any kind of charisma.
  • Jinder Mahal defeated Barun Strowman via countout when Kevin Owens showed up to steal the MitB briefcase.
  • Sigh.  Apollo Crews defeated Akam of Authors of Pain.  I assume this is what I get for asking Apollo to get some wins months back.
  • Seth Rollins won his match against Drew McIntyre via disqualification when Ziggler interfered.  It seems like they ran out of ideas here too.  A Ziggler/Seth rematch at Summerslam doesn’t interest me much.  I’d love for Ambrose to return to neutralize McIntyre at ringside.
  • The “B” stands for Dream!  The B Team has a short promo which is interrupted by The Deleters of Worlds wanting another rematch for the title.  Who interrupts the interrupters but the Top Guys themselves.  The Revival demand that they be next in line for a shot.  After all, they did beat Roman and Bobby a few weeks back.  They get setup with match with the former tag team champions and win with a Shatter Machine on Bray.
    • The B Team on commentary was so brilliantly dumb.  I could listen to these guys stumble through commentary every week.
  • So the Hug and Boss Connection is a thing.  It seems that Bayley and Sasha are reconciled.  They work together so well and easily take down Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan with a Backstabber/Bayley-to-Belly combo.  It seems weird that everything is ok but I’m kind of fine with it.
    • Abandoning a feud seems to team up seems to guarantee that Evolution is going to debut a Women’s tag team with the Hug and Boss Connection being easy favorites for win.

Finally Figuring It Out

Dammit, Vince finally did it.  They figured out a way to get Roman cheered and everyone on board for Brock to leave.  They’ve been sowing the seeds for weeks.  Kurt’s failed to get Brock to appear week after week and has struggled to even agree to book a match.  Fans have finally started to try to move out of Suplex City into the comfort of the Roman Empire.  But how did we get to a point that led Miami to chant “We Want Roman” by the end of the night?

Roman started off the night by calling Roman a bitch.  Paul Heyman wasn’t happy with it and confronted Roman.  He confirmed that Brock was in the building but wasn’t coming out to the ring.  The whole thing seemed a little awkward.  Paul hoped Brock was close behind to answer the insult.  He wasn’t.  Heyman quickly tried to spin it to just hype how Brock would retain and then go on to win the UFC Championship as well.

Kurt Angle, the General Manager of this TV show, was upset that Brock didn’t appear.  He gave Paul an ultimatum, either Brock appears in the ring by the end of the night or Heyman’s contract with the WWE is terminated.

Brock is too busy reading a huge stack of magazines leading to a glorious collection of memes on twitter.  He couldn’t be bothered.  He’s in the green room and wants his money.  He doesn’t care about Roman’s insult.  He doesn’t care about the WWE Universe.

Throughout the night, Paul tries every method of persuasion to get Brock in the ring.  Finally he levels with him and asks him for a favor as his friend.  Brock finally puts the magazine down to settle one thing: they’re not friends.

This is the start of the moment of brilliance.

To protect the main event of Summerslam, Corbin has Roman escorted out the building to keep him away from Brock.  Roman totally understands and relates to Kurt.  He reminds Angle that he’s been in the exact same position as a superstar as Roman is now.  Roman tells Kurt that he’s a shell of a man and it hurts him to see him like that.  It’s a pep talk that someone should have given Angle months ago.  And for good measure, Roman hits Corbin in the face on the way out.

Dejected, Heyman joins Corbin & Angle in the ring for the closing segment.  He agrees with Angle that Brock is the worst Universal Champion of all time in a desperate move to save face and save his contract.  Brock’s music hits and Paul changes into the smug bastard that we know.  Perhaps Brock is his friend?  Brock shows up tells everyone he doesn’t care and hits Angle with an F5.  Paul is elated.  Not only has Brock showed up to save his job, he attacked the one guy who threatened it.

Brock isn’t done.  He attacks Paul who panics and says that he can’t breathe.  This is when the fans chant for Roman.  Roman isn’t in the building to save the day.  It’s just Brock attacking Paul.

This is the way you do it.  They should have done this leading up to Wrestlemania.

I’m so on board of Summerslam and for Roman winning that Universal Champion.

Sometime Vince is a genius.

Smackdown Live – Tampa, Florida – 7/31/2018

By Matt Dowd

Before we really get into Smackdown, I’ve got to issue an open plead to WWE brass:  We get it.  You’re doing a women’s PPV.  It was a great announcement, and hopefully you’ll put the level of effort into the show that you’ve already put into tooting your own horn for announcing it.  You burnt an extra twenty minutes of Raw by replaying the announcement from last week rather than using the opportunity for, I don’t know, an actual match?  Maybe another women’s match?  But no, you didn’t because you’re more interested in applauding yourselves than showcasing the talent you like to speak so fondly of.  Don’t kick off Smackdown with Becky and Carmella going back and forth about being part of the first ever all women’s PPV.  We know that’s going to happen, pull your head out of your own asses and quit feeling the need to shamelessly plug the fact that you’re attempting to be progressive.

Alright, where were we?  Oh yes, Florida.

  • Becky Lynch opened the show in an interview with Renee.  Carmella interrupted and appeared to be sincere in here wishes of good luck, but Ellsworth’s music hit as a distraction and Carmella bashed the challenger with her title belt.  Charlotte came out to make the save.
  • Carmella attempted to whine to GM Paige about it, but was informed that she’d be facing off against Charlotte tonight, and if Charlotte wins, the match at Summerslam will become a Triple Threat.
  • The Usos with an absolutely bad ass prerecorded promo from deep within the boiler room.
  • The New Day came out to be on commentary during the Usos-Bar tag team tournament match, sitting at a large, orange commentary table covered in pancakes.  Byron seemed completely shocked that the table was there, but dude, it was neon freaking orange.  Byron, normally I like your childlike whimsy, but keep it reasonable.  Nobody believes that table just appeared when the New Day came down the ramp.
  • The Bar defeated The Usos in an absolutely great TV match to move to a match against The New Day next week to determined the next challengers for The Bludgeon Brothers.  It’s a little sad that The Usos didn’t pick up the win after The New Day on commentary informed the audience that The Usos were fighting for their first opportunity in their career to be on the main card at Summerslam.
  • Samoa Joe cut one hell of a promo on AJ Styles, calling him out for putting everything on the back burner in the name of being champion.  Even family.  Joe is a top tier heel and if he’s in a long feud with AJ it’s right where he damn well belongs.  There’s not really any way to make Almas a face, but that belt should be at the center of an orbit that features Styles, Joe, and Almas on Smackdown Live right now.  They’re in a different league than the majority of the current roster.
  • Jeff Hardy was in the building to confront Randy Orton for the second attack on Hardy, which of course had to come with a replay of Orton trying to rip Hardy’s ear open.  This, of course, didn’t go well for him, as he was then attacked by both Orton and Shinsuke.  This would probably make more sense if Matt were on Smackdown, so that it would be building to a tag match, but he’s not, so now I’m confused.  In any event, Hardy would fall victim to both a Kinshasa and Randy Orton stomping relentlessly on the major joints of Hardy’s body, because he’s not going to make you people happy by landing an RKO.  F*** you legend killers.  He then poured water all over him and wiped his face paint mostly off in what ended up being an unreasonably long segment.
  • Zelina Vega defeated Lana in a match that didn’t really work and was sort of a waste of Vega’s wrestling debut on Smackdown.  She’s damn good in the ring, and to put her against the weakest member of the women’s division was not a great way to showcase it.
  • Daniel Bryan yet again spends unnecessary time tooting WWE’s horn about the Women’s PPV.  Seriously, you’re driving me f*cking nuts and it’s only been a week.  Once he was done with that, he cut a pretty fiery promo on The Miz about being a chickenshit and using the fake baby last week to protect himself.
  • The Miz, who wasn’t in the arena because he was on set for his top rated reality series (kayfabe, he was clearly in one of those shitty rooms backstage).  The promos in this feud, even if you discount the shoot promos on Talking Smack, are fantastic.
  • Charlotte Flair defeated Carmella via submission, and will now be added to the Women’s Championship Match at Summerslam.  Don’t think they just ran a squash, this was a pretty good one too.  Charlotte ended up with a busted lip, Carmella was kicking out of Natural Selection and rolling up to avoid the Figure Eight.  This could have been a PPV match in itself, and better than a lot of the PPV matches they’ve had of late.  Becky still better walk out of Brooklyn with that belt.

Not a bad episode if you can separate the show itself from the repeated reminders that they’re doing a women’s event.   Two good matches makes a solid Smackdown.  Pair that with that bad ass promo video from The Usos and the Daniel Bryan/Miz exchange and you’ve got a solid couple hours of WWE TV.

205 Live – Still in Tampa – 7/31/2018

By Matt Dowd

Let’s be real, they set the bar pretty high again last week with that Fatal Four Way.  What has DM the GM got for us this week?  Let’s see.

  • Kalisto defeated Tony Nese via the Solida Del Sol because apparently WWE Creative doesn’t seem to know how to get Tony Nese over.  Here’s a tip, let him win and do more close up ab counting shots.  Just a thought.
  • Lio Rush got to win another squash match.  Please just let Buddy Murphy annihilate him already.
  • Cedric Alexander defeated The Brian Kendrick, but the episode ended with Cedric on the receiving end as Gulak came off commentary to distract him as Gallagher came out to hit him with the headbutt.  If you’re a betting man, the controversy over Alexander’s six-year old tweets could cost him the belt at Summerslam, not that Gulak isn’t entirely deserving or anything, because he absolutely is and I desperately want to see his Championship Powerpoint Presentation.

NXT – Full Sail Live, Orlando, Florida – 8/1/2018

By Matt Dowd

  • Heavy Machinery defeated The Mighty with the Street Profits getting some of the credit distracting The Mighty from the crowd.
  • Mustache Mountain got a squash match win, then they announced they will be invoking the rematch clause for a shot at regaining the NXT tag team championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn.
  • EC3 defeated Kona Reeves regardless of the attempted distraction from Velveteen Dream.  They’re building to EC3 vs Velveteen for Brooklyn, and I’m fucking stoked.
  • Shayna Baszler defeated Candice LeRae via submission.  I get the point, you have to continue making Baszler look unbeatable going into Brooklyn but this does more harm than good for the surefire fan favorite in LeRae here just like they’ve managed to consistently do to Dakota Kai.  I guess it’s going to make it all the more meaningful when Kairi beats her again, but damn, you’re destroying the rest of the face side of the women’s division in the process.
  • Regal announced that the Brooklyn card will officially feature an EC3 vs Velveteen Dream match, as well as confirming the Adam Cole North American Title defense against Ricochet.
  • Ciampa comes out to gloat, as Black comes out for the inevitable rematch invoking, Gargano runs past him and attacks Ciampa.  Not to be outdone, Black lays out Gargano with a Black Mass.  Behold how to very, very easily get to a quality Triple Threat Match that doesn’t involve convoluted storylines involving best friends and returns from injury……glaring at you here Smackdown.

In case you’re not paying attention, the NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn card is already outrageously stacked.  A Triple Threat Match between Black-Gargano-Ciampa, Ricochet vs Adam Cole, EC3 vs Velveteen Dream, a rematch of the Mae Young Classic finale with Baszler-Sane.  Oh, and if you weren’t already stoked enough, prepare for next week’s episode of NXT TV, when you will be given your first opportunity to bask in his glory as the man, myth, legend Keith Lee will debut in what will inevitably be a squash match so he won’t have to do much, but just know, this dude is awesome and you’re going to want to keep watch for the foreseeable future.  For a man his size, he does some pretty unbelievable things.

And just for posterity sake, and because I know it will irritate the shit out of Jeremy again, here is your current NXT Champion: #TeamCiampa