Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Impact Wrestling #671 Review (25/05/2017)

On 25th May, Impact Wrestling aired their 671st episode, taped at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida on 23rd April. Ethan Carter III, James Storm and Magnus battled to become #1 Contender to the Impact World Heavyweight Championship, KM & Kongo Kong tagged up against Mahabali Shera and Braxton Sutter leading to Rosemary making her presence felt when Sienna and Laurel Van Ness attacked Allie, as well as appearances from Lashley, a returning Scott Steiner, Joseph Park, Davey Richards and Angelina Love. But was it any good? Let's take a look...

  • ICYMI - Low Ki is dominating the X Division (I'm not sure why they included this as there was no X-Division content on the show) and Ethan Carter III attacked Bruce Pritchard after getting told to grow some balls last week.

Prichard, Lashley, EC3, Magnus and Storm Segment

Nothing says hot wrestling TV show in 2017 like starting with a Bruce Prichard promo. Fair play to Prichard for selling his ribs from the Ethan Carter III attack the other week, but there really was no need for him to be in the ring at the start of the show, considering all he really did was introduce World Heavyweight Champion Lashley, whilst Tyrus stood about awkwardly. I feel having Lashley open the show alone in the ring would have been much more effective and given the open a much crisper pace, as with three contenders having to make entrances also the segment was already very stop and start. After Lashley had claimed to be "the man to beat, who can't be beaten", which is a great line by the way, we Ethan Carter III, Magnus and James Storm interrupting each other to lay down their cases for why they'd win the upcoming Triple Threat #1 Contenders bout. Out of the three, I was surprised with the performance of Magnus on the mic, with Brit sounding dynamic and at times irreverent as he referred to his opponents as "ham sandwiches". The segment closed with Prichard telling EC3, Magnus and Storm that if they touched each other before the main event that the bout would be cancelled and they would be suspended indefinitely, whilst also bizarrely making the match No Disqualification despite it being a three way. 

KM & Kong def. Shera & Sutter

A dull opening tag bout here, that did very little for me, but luckily the post-match segment with Rosemary [Courtney Rush] saving Allie [Cherry Bomb] from an attack by Sienna [Allysin Kay] and Laurel Van Ness [Chelsea Green] was much fresher and got a strong reaction out of the crowd. The tag match plodded along with not a whole lot of note. There wasn't much that was actively bad, but there certainly wasn't anything to shout about with even the Braxton Sutter [Pepper Parks] hot tag feeling humdrum. By the time, Kongo Kong hit Mahabali Shera with a headbutt from the apron allowing KM [Kevin Matthews] to get a school boy roll-up victory with a handful of tights, the match had gone at least five minutes too long and I'd be surprised with some of the Impact Zone hadn't fallen asleep. Whilst Sienna and LVN chasing Allie around the ring in the match was probably the worst portion of the bout, their involvement after the blokes had brawled to the back was the saving grace of the segment. The two laying the boots into Allie made them look like massive dicks, with LVN's nutter bride gimmick adding a weird edge, before Rosemary's music hit and the Impact Zone woke up. The Knockout's Champion staring down Sienna and LVN, before spraying green mist in Sienna's eyes and hitting Red Wedding on LVN got a great reaction, with Rosemary looking like the bad ass bitch she is in the process. With the history between Rosemary and Allie on the Canadian indies, I'm very interested in seeing how this storyline plays out and hopefully we get to see them bring their rivalry to Impact Wrestling after a brief partnership. 

VOW def. Bah & Bokara in GFW Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final

A straight-forward tag, but head and shoulders above the previous bout with the Veterans of War shining in their victory, whilst Fallah Bah and Mario Bokara looked more than capable in their roles. I felt like Mayweather [Crimson] in particular looked much better than I remember him being here, hitting a nice series of moves, including a Falcon Arrow, during the face shine as well as showing good timing in the finish as he came crashing into the picture to deliver a big boot to Bah on the outside. The crowd was into VOW, chanting "USA" throughout the heat sequence before the hot tag to Wilcox [Jax Dane] headed straight into the finish, with Veterans of War hitting M.O.A.D. (Fireman's Carry Flapjack and Cutter combination) on Bokara to send them into the Final against current Impact Tag Team Champions LAX (Ortiz [Angel Ortiz] & Santana [Mike Draztik]). After the previous confrontation between the two teams and their juxaposed idealogies should produce an intense match and I'm actually surprised we didn't see LAX head out to at least stare down with Mayweather & Wilcox post-match. 

Mathews, Borash, Park and Steiner Segment 

SCOTT STEINER IS BACK! He may be twenty years past his prime in the ring, but by Jove he's back on Impact Wrestling and heading to Slammiversary. Steiner was revealed as Josh Mathews partner against Jeremy Borash and Joseph Park [Abyss] for the 2nd July PPV. The build to Steiner's appearance was actually rather well done with Mathews initially attempting to apologise to Borash before losing his rag when Park came to ring, leading to Park challenging Josh to a fight and just after the bell rang, Steiner's music hit and the crowd popped. Mathews shone in this segment as his initial grovelling being relatable to everything people hate about no back bone politicians before exploding into his cutting promo on JB and Park, calling them "Tweedle dee and Tweedle Dumbass" before stating "I'm giving you two the rub", which you could tell he had a lot of fun with. The selling of Borash and Park when Steiner came out was ridiculously hammy and camp, whilst having D'Angelo Dinero on commentary describe Steiner as "one of the most feared men in all of professional wrestling" was unnecessarily over-the-top. Mathews kept things interesting by skipping about the place in joy as Steiner chased JB through the crowd, swung at some obvious plants in the crowd and then locking Park in the Steiner Recliner. I would've liked to have seen Mathews heat used to help get a younger talent over and I'm not quite sure of the benefits of this programme for anyone going forward. 

  • A natural promo from Impact  Grand Champion Moose, explaining why the divisions rules play to his advantage and his plans on holding the title going into Slammiversary. 
  • After Eli Drake had goaded Moose into putting the Grand Championship on the line next week, Chris Adonis [Chris Masters] jumped Moose from behind, leading to a two on one beat down. 

Alisha & Edwards def. Richards & Love 

It looks like this feud is far from over as despite Alisha [Lexxus] getting a roll-up pinfall on Angelina Love, a theatrical post-match attack that saw Eddie Edwards hand-cuffed to the ropes by Davey Richards and Love powerbomb Alisha through a table added more fuel to the fire that has been burning since February. The interaction between Richards and Edwards was the good stuff in the match, as the two laid into each other with various strikes, before Richards took control focussing on Eddie's leg, including a lovely spot in the Figure Four Leg Lock with Love grabbing hold of Davey's hands for extra leverage. Beyond a nice diving crossbody to the outside from Alisha, the Women's portion was mostly cat-fighting, which I think we really should've moved on from in 2017. There are better and more interesting ways to sell the dislike between two women than having them grab at each others hair and roll around. The post-match angle was needed because Richards and Edwards really deserve to have a blow-off singles match, which has the opportunity to be something special, depending on what gimmick it's given. 

EC3 def. Magnus and Storm to become #1 Contender to the Impact World Heavyweight Championship 

This was a high-quality TV main event, with Ethan Carter III, Magnus and James Storm telling a classic triple threat story, with a strong babyface in the shape of Storm. We got to see The Cowboy lay some hard af chops into main rival EC3 early on, but after dishing out a double suplex onto the ramp, the heels controlled the bout, with Storm selling effectively and looking great when fighting from underneath. As someone who remembers Magnus' TNA World title a few years ago, I got a kick out of seeing Magnus and EC3 working together again! The build up towards the inevitable Storm comeback had the Impact Zone invested and was booked superbly as the heels took turns nailing him with a kendo stick. EC3 accidentally hit Magnus and profusely apologised by battering Storm with a couple of brutal shots to our hero, with the spot then being mirrored as Magnus hit EC3 with the stick, but the Brit didn't stop. Having the relationship between the villains break down, allowed for Storm to sell his beating and then come back on fire, hitting a DDT and Neckbreaker combo on the pair, before belting them with a steel chair. The first two thirds of the match managed to be a tonne of fun, but also tell an effective story that made everyone involved look good in their own way. 

The final third of the bout continued Storm's underdog story, but also picked up the pace and featured a number of decent near falls. Highlights including Storm hitting a brutal-looking hangman's DDT onto the apron to Ethan, Magnus' Kings Lynn Cloverleaf on Storm being broken with an EC3 chair shot to the back, a nice tree of woe tower of doom with Magnus German suplexing EC3, but the strongest sequence saw Storm push Carter into a steel chair wedged between the first and second rope, then hit a running neckbreaker, only for the fall to be broken by a Magnus diving elbow drop. The finish completed Storm's valiant fight and then ripped away as Magnus ate a Last Call Super kick, only for EC3 to push the Cowboy out of the ring and steal the pin. This was an astute piece of booking that added to Storm's story as he chases another World title run, showing he has the potential, whilst furthering his feud with Carter. With the commentary repeatedly referring to GFW Global Champion Alberto El Patron [Alberto Del Rio] don't be surprised if we see another twist in the tale between now and Slammiversary.


ATPW Scale Rating - 4.92/10

This show was all about it's main event with the three talent shining in a well-put together contest. However, elsewhere some of the booking and talent positioning still leaves a lot to be desired. There was no need to have Bruce Prichard opening the show, Scott Steiner's return was bizarre and the opener was as dull as dishwater's dishwater. There were flashes of greatness like Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards' portions of the mixed tag, Rosemary saving Allie, the development of the Veterans of War tag team and Josh Mathews joyful performance in his segment and the fact that he and Jeremy Borash never shared the commentary desk. The new regime currently feels like one step forward and then another back, producing as many positives change as there has been negative, hopefully once we get to Slammiversary at the start of July we'll have a product that has found it's feet and ironed out some of the creases.

Wrestling Isn't What It Used to Be...But Why Does That Always Have to Be a Bad Thing?

So, after what has seemed like a lifetime since I found out I would be doing this, it is time for me to write my first piece for Across The Pond Wrestling.

I was deciding for a while what I wanted to write about first, and eventually decided that I wanted to start off by writing something positive, because there doesn't seem to be so much of that out of there.

It's always easier to criticise things. People like to focus on the bad things about pro wrestling these days and don't get me wrong, I'll certainly be doing that regularly in the future but I wanted to start off by doing something a bit different.

This piece is about wrestling not being what it used to be, it is about it not being as popular as in the past but it's also about why that is absolutely okay.

Now, just to add a little bit of context to my views, I'll tell you a bit about my background. I'm 24 years old and I've been a wrestling fan since roughly late 2000, when a school friend introduced me to the crazy world of the World Wrestling Federation. It's been something that bar a couple of short hiatuses, I've had an interest in ever since.

Now, as amazing as it seemed at the time, the main angles during my first year watching wrestling saw Stone Cold Steve Austin turn heel at WrestleMania X-7 as well as the infamous Invasion angle... hindsight kind of proves that I was introduced to wrestling just as its mainstream popularity began to dwindle, which was also around the same time WCW and ECW were about to close their doors.

Since the true competition disappeared, there's been a lot of discussion amongst fans about WWE's lazy approach to storytelling, with many suggesting that they need to push boundaries in order to recapture lightning in a bottle like they did in the eighties and nineties.

I personally think that this is unlikely to happen regardless of what they try to do but that is something I'm fine with, simply because it's not something I blame the industry for.

We do live in a period where pro wrestling doesn't really fit in with society's mainstream culture any more but then what does that really mean in 2017? Pop culture in general is an a perpetual state of nostalgia when it comes to film, television and music. There's very little fresh being brought to the table in any area of entertainment.

In fact, funnily enough, I think whilst the WWE in particular can be very heavy on nostalgia at times, wrestling is actually one of the few artistic pursuits that is beginning to change. For a start, wrestling is now being made for the pure wrestling fan, which means it is catering to the audience that remains. This is a smart business strategy, even if it's not always the most successful one.

Today's wrestling has become purely athletic competition for the most part, and that is a direct result of the new generation of talent. That is never going to bring in the mainstream crowd but is it really that big a deal? Popularity and quality aren't two things that go hand in hand. As long as the industry is still surviving, and it is more than doing that, it will continue to entertain generations for years to come.

People will miss the larger than life characters from the childhood without a doubt, but the pure wrestling fan is absolutely spoilt for choice in terms of content these days if they look hard enough.

You only have to look at the situation here in the UK to see how much better our scene is for this, with the likes of PROGRESS, WCPW and IPW:UK in particular flourishing in a British scene that is hotter than it has been in years. I was used to All-Star Wrestling shows as a kid with the main attractions being WWF tribute acts. It's now the other way around, and WWE are using our wrestlers to enhance their product.

Add in the likes of New Japan, Lucha Underground and NXT across the world and there has never been such a high calibre of in ring talent in the industry.

While WWE in 2017 might not always be everyone's cup of tea, even their product has suddenly started to resemble an independent promotion these days. I'm not just talking about NXT either, RAW in particular has never been less about storylines and more about in-ring action on a weekly basis than it is today.

Something else that you can look at as a positive is the way women are treated in wrestling these days. Although as a red blooded male there were always some positives to the way women were portrayed in the past, I've also always realised that it was a bit tacky, and there wasn't really any true justification for the industry to be as misogynistic as it was.

It is truly refreshing that the industry has decided to grow up a bit and champion equality. In addition to the huge strides women's wrestling has already taken, we're getting the Mae Young Classic on the WWE Network and the first ever Women's Money In The Bank Ladder match in a few short weeks, so the boundaries are being pushed all the time.

Then, there is the most important thing. The deaths. A wrestler's lifespan has been greatly increased as a result of the changes in the industry over the last few years, and there is no way, shape or form that this can't be considered a good thing.

There was a point where it seemed a weekly occurrence that another wrestler had died young, and it was quite soul destroying. You watch pay-per-views from twenty and thirty years ago now and it's often quite ridiculous how many people on those shows have passed away when you consider how young they were at the time.

It might have taken an absolutely horrific incident in June 2007 to kick start this whole movement, but nobody should ever have to die for their craft and to entertain others, which is something that the younger generation should never have to deal with when it comes to their heroes..

So, as I said at the start of the piece, wrestling isn't what it used to be, but lets not ignore the positives either, both in and out of the ring.

Written by Andy Phillips 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

WWE 205 Live #26 (23/05/2017) Review

On 23rd May, WWE aired the 26th episode of 205 Live from the Huntingdon Center in Toledo, Ohio. The main event saw the culmination of the feud between The Brian Kendrick and Akira Tozawa as the pair went toe to toe in a street fight, whilst Austin Aries, Cruiserweight Champion Neville, Rich Swann and Ariya Daivari were also featured. But was it any good? Lets take a look. 

  • The show opened with a brilliant package with The Brian Kendrick explaining the history of his feud with Akira Tozawa, finishing by promising to teach the final lesson tonight.

Swann def. Daivari

A decent opening match here, as Rich Swann got his opportunity to shine against Ariya Daivari, before getting jumped by Noam Dar during his celebration. The bout was your stand layout as Swann got a face shine with funky dropkick, before Daivari took control after sending Swann into the apron-tron with a hammerlock applied and Swann overcome hitting a Front flip Fameasser and spin kick for a near fall, followed up with a Phoenix Splash for the victory. The former Dragon Gate star sold his arm particularly well after going into the screen, including all the way through the celebration and it makes sense that Daivari would target it because of using the Cobra Clutch and Hammerlock Lariat as finishers in the past. I would've liked to have seen more creative offence from Daivari when targetting the arm, as a couple of unconvincing wear downs lost the crowd a little. The initial attack was brilliant, but without a vicious follow up it's impact drifted. The Dar attack continues the pairs feud around Alicia Fox with Swann taking a nasty bump off the top rope to floor after a push from the Scottish Supernova. 

  •  ICYMI - A video package looking at the history between WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville and Austin Aries ahead of their Submission match at Extreme Rules on 4th June. 

Aries and Neville Interview

Neville has been a revelation since switching heel and becoming the face of the Cruiserweight division and it what started as a split-screen interview conducted by Corey Graves, he excelled in his Geordie condescender role. The King of the Cruiserweights was all over this segment as he pulled some of the most glorious facial expressions, showing disagreement with Austin Aries as the Greatest Man That Ever Lived claimed he deserved his title shot and explained Neville's underhanded tactics in previous bouts. Aries held his own, eating his trademark banana and talking up how his past and submission acumen would help him overcome The Man That Gravity Forgot, but lacked a killer line or barb that would've lifted his promo. These two have done some good work building towards Extreme Rules with two strong PPV matches, lets hope they finally nail it in their submission match. 

  • Cedric Alexander made his return, having been out since February, with a squash match victory over Johnny Boone (not the former WCW enhancement talent). Everything was going swimmingly until Boone sold Alexander's finish, The Lumbar Check, in the weirdest way. 

Tozawa def. Kendrick in a Street Fight

Boy, I loved this match. The feud between The Brian Kendrick and Akira Tozawa has been running for most of the year and has provided some of the most entertaining content of anything from Cruiserweight division with Kendrick attempting to teach Tozawa lessons after The Stamina Monster initially refused to be mentored by the Man with a Plan. This bout took all that months of build, the different lessons that had been taught by both men to each other and wove them into terrifically physical Street Fight. Corey Graves did some of his best work on commentary, making sure that when there was a call-back to the lessons, like Kendrick throwing his jacket to halt a suicide dive because "anything can be used as weapon" or Tozawa attacking Kendrick with his own belt because "you should never leave anything on the ground", w that the audience was fully aware. The two used the gimmick creatively with Kendrick bringing the purple wristtape he's used to tie the Dragon Gate star to the ropes, only to wrap around his opponents mouth and apply the Captain's Hook and then later tying him up around the ring post outside the ring to lay into him with a belt.

The intense physicality was sold superbly by both men, who made it look every inch of the war that it was. By the time the two were battling around ringside, hitting Gordbusters of the steel steps, snap saito suplexes onto the floor and driving heads into the steps, Tozawa looked out on his feet and Kendrick could barely move. The Japanese sold the match all over his body and face, grabbing at his back after it had been whipped and had this beautiful dazed look on his mush. The finish was an utterly ridiculous Diving Senton to the outside through a table, in which Tozawa almost went into orbit before smashing Kendrick to bits in the ultimate final lesson. Yeah, the crowd wasn't as hot as it crowd wasn't as hot as it could have been and Tozawa rolling Kendrick into the ring was a weird end to a street fight, but seeing the pair lying in the ring post-match after Akira had draped himself across the Wizard of Odd for the cover made up for all of that. This match deserved to be seen by a bigger audience and you should watch it if you haven't already.


ATPW Scale Rating - 6.47/10

No conclusion needed, Kendrick v Tozawa was lovely, watch it.

WWE Seth Rollins: Building the Architect Review

WWE Seth Rollins: Building the Architect is out on DVD in the UK now from all reputable outlets as the two time WWE World Heavyweight Champion gets the Home Video treatment. The set takes the form of an interview with Rollins which is spread across the set, around a total of 18 matches, including The Sheild against John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus and then Team Hell No & The Undertaker, a Triple Threat match with Brock Lesnar and Cena, a Ladder match with Dean Ambrose, a title for title match and then a Steel Cage match with Cena, the injury return against Roman Reigns, a triple threat with former Shield stablemates Ambrose and Reigns, the first WWE Universal title match opposite Finn Balor as well as appearances from Triple H, Randy Orton, The Big Show, Kevin Owens and Cody Rhodes. But is it any good? Let's take a look.

Rollins Interview

Overall the interview goes just over half an hour as Rollins sitting down to talk about each match or moment which gives a good insight and sometimes a new spin. The interview is extremely candid, included moments like Seth discussing almost signing with TNA, demanding to be the first NXT Champion, disagreeing with splitting The Shield, as well as not wanting to do The Shield triple threat at Battleground. Rollins comes across confident, yet humble, putting over a number of his opponents and seems to have a real connection with the audience and an understanding of how a crowd will react and what the die-hards want to see.

The Matches 

The first match sees Rollins in the Finals of the Jack Brisco Classic facing up off with a masked Hunico [Sin Cara] (FCW TV, Feb '11) in a 15 Minute Iron Man Match, a bout that doesn't really get going until the later stages. The sudden death period with the pair trading near falls and throwing out big moves wakes the crowd up and we even get appearances from Steve Keirn and Gerald Brisco, although the medal the winner receives is ridiculously lame compared to pretty much every other wrestling prize in history. Another 15 minute Iron Man bout is next and is a much better use of the gimmick, in the form of the first of what is currently 63 matches with Dean Ambrose (FCW TV, Aug '11). The match builds well to it's conclusion, with the pair working at much higher pace and creating a couple of crisp back and forth sequence with the door left wide open for a rematch. Rollins' FCW Florida Heavyweight title win against Leo Kruger [Adam Rose] (FCW TV, Mar '12) takes a little while to find it's groove and a sequence where Kruger gets dragged back to the ring after trying to leave is completely cringe-worthy. However, the last five minutes as the two trade false finishes amidst a number of really good reversal sequences, manage to turn things around with the finish being particularly strong. 

Rollins dropping the NXT title to Big E. Langston  in a No DQ (NXT, Jan '13) tells an effective story and got a good reaction out of the early Full Sail crowd. The Shield (Rollins alongside Ambrose & Roman Reigns) battling John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback (Elimination Chamber, Feb '13) is a good example of how well the trio were booked over the first few months of their WWE run, as they look magnificent when working as team. The bout is part wild brawl, part classic tag team bout, featuring a marvellous Ryback hot tag and concluding with a slick momentum swinging sequence. The trios match with Sheamus, Randy Orton and The Big Show (WrestleMania XIXX, Apr '13) is a step down, but still has a couple of cool moments. The bout is much more focused on the relationship of the opposing team, but as Rollins' first WrestleMania match it deserved to be on the set.

A rare TV appearance from The Undertaker sees the Deadman tag with Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) against The Shield (Monday Night RAW, Apr '13) in a good six man tag from London. Part of the excitement of 'Taker appearing on RAW is gone on rewatching, but there's still a lot of strong action including Bryan and 'Taker hot tags and a great angle at the start with Undertaker having to go it alone. The drama is turned up to 11 when Rollins tags with Reigns against Cody Rhodes & Goldust (Battleground, Oct '13) as the opponents battle for their WWE careers . The finish as Dusty Rhodes gets involved with Ambrose gets
nuts. The break-up of The Shield with Rollins turning on Reigns and Ambrose, to side with Triple H and Randy Orton (Monday Night RAW, Jun '14) is one of the most iconic moments in The Architect's career, it's dramatic and at times uncomfortable as we see Rollins and then Orton brutalise the former Shield brothers. 

A triple threat over the WWE World Heavyweight title with John Cena and Brock Lesnar (Royal Rumble, Jan '15) features a star-making performance from Rollins in what is still his best match as a singles competitor in WWE. Alongside two bonafide megastars the then Money in the Bank contract holder more than holds his own in a thrilling near 25 minute epic that is full of dramatic near falls and awe-inspiring highspots. There's almost always something brilliant going on, but the stretch Rollins' has with Cena before the finish is particularly special and a big part of what makes this the best triple threat match of the decade. Randy Orton provides Rollins' first WrestleMania singles match (WrestleMania 31, Mar' 15) and it's a bloody good wrestling match to boot. The two put on a crisp bout, full of twists and turns and with the help of J&J Security, a shit load of RKO's out of nowhere. From the same show, the history making moment of Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and interjecting himself into the Lesnar v Roman Reigns main event is one of the most shocking conclusions the Show of Shows has ever seen. 

Arguably the best match of Rollins' 221 day title reign is a Ladder match with Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank, Jun '15) that see's the two mix cute storytelling with huge creative highspots. It's a lengthy at over 35 minutes, but fills it's time well, starting as a slower paced traditional wrestling match before incorporating the toys. When the narrative of Ambrose injuring his leg comes into play, the bout gains depth as Rollins effectively hams it up as the bouts antagonist, targeting in on the body part and drive the second half of the match. The finish is a little disappointing after such a long match, but this is still an epic match. Rollins' open challenge (with brilliant specific regulations laid down post-match) getting accepted by Neville (Monday Night RAW, Aug '15) produces a very good TV bout with two of the best near falls Monday Night RAW ever seen, as well as some lovely crisp and pacy wrestling. 

 The winner take all bout with Rollins' putting his World Heavyweight Championship up against John Cena's United States Championship (SummerSlam, Aug '15) is a belter of contest, as the two use the work rate template that made Cena's US title run. The big moves, near falls and glossy reversals are complimented by a number of story threads and a lively Brooklyn crowd. The finish leaves the bout without the satisfying finish that it deserves, but Jon Stewart's interference got a sizable pop and earned mainstream attention. A Steel Cage rematch with Cena (Live at MSG: Lesnar v Big Show, Oct '15) over the United States title didn't exactly jump to my mind when I was considering bouts that might be on this DVD, in all honesty I remember not enjoying the bout all that much when it aired on the WWE Network. However on a rewatch (when it's not silly o'clock) this match is much better than I had originally considering, as the two get creative with the cage, making some nice spots and incorporating the escape rule to produce some fun near "falls". The conclusion with Kane is a little lame, but considering this was essentially a televised house show it more than surpasses what it needed to be and both men deserve credit for that.

Rollins' return from injury against Roman Reigns over the World Heavyweight Championship (Money in the Bank, Jun '16) is a strong WWE-main event style bout with finisher kick-outs, ref bumps and outside brawling. At points the sequences feel a little contrived and the decision to keep Rollins heel despite the crowd desperately wanting to support him was questionable, but Rollins and his doctors deserve a tonne of credit for how he was able to step back into a match of this quality straight away. The crowd reaction throughout is loudly behind Seth and at points it looks like Reigns might heel it up as he picks on the leg injury, but this isn't fully realised leaving what could have been an interesting story on the table. The booking of Rollins' initial comeback was almost completely fumbled and Dean Ambrose cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase post-match is a big part of that, even if the crowd pops for it. 

A triple threat against former Shield buddies Ambrose and Reigns over the WWE World Heavyweight title (Battleground, Jul '16) might not have been as massive as it could have been, but all three guys bring it in a pacy main event in front of a loud Washington crowd. There's plenty of call-backs to their time in the Shield and various matches together that make the match as the rich history the three share pays dividends. It's a shame that WWE didn't hold off to do the bout at a WrestleMania because the broad strokes and little touches would've worked perfectly in a gigantic stadium full of die-hards. The first ever WWE Universal Championship match with Finn Balor (SummerSlam, Aug '16) displays Rollins ability to help showcase new stars as he offers up a giving performance that makes Balor look incredible. It's a shame that the Brooklyn crowd became fixated on the new title belt for the first five minutes or so as it then takes them another ten to get into the action in front of them, which is of a high standard. The bout is made even more spectacular and at times uncomfortable, with the knowledge of the damage that Balor does to his shoulder after taking a powerbomb into the barricade very early on in the match. 

The final match is a No Disqualification match with Kevin Owens for the Universal title (Monday Night RAW, Nov '16) which features some fun plunder based offence, as well as one significant spot out in the crowd. The bout is a good watch, but doesn't have the same impact as some of their PPV bouts, whereas Rollins' bout with Triple H at this year's WrestleMania would've been offered a much better conclusion so it's strange that WWE didn't hold off this release to include that match. 


ATPW Scale Rating - 7.22/10

Building the Architect is a very good DVD and obviously a must-buy for anyone Seth Rollins fans. The interview portion gives the match extra depth and offers a number of nice tidbits of info on the backstage goings on, as well as how Rollins was feeling at that point in his life. There could have been more focus on how Rollins broke into the business, but with no footage available of clashes with the likes Davey Richards, Nigel McGuinness or Bryan Danielson in ROH, it's understandable that it's quickly skimmed over. The match quality is strong, especially when focusing on The Architect's singles run with bouts like the Royal Rumble triple threat with John Cena and Brock Lesnar, the Ladder match with Dean Ambrose and the title for title bout with Cena all standing out as great examples of the The Man's work. Rollins' time in FCW and The Shield is perhaps under-served in the bouts chosen with better matches against Dean Ambrose and The Wyatt Family (amongst others) not being included. However, that doesn't stop this being a stellar effort in presenting a look at Rollins career to date, which will make any Seth fan very happy for hours and hours.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

WWE SmackDown Live #927 (23/05/2017) Review

On 23rd May, WWE aired the 927th episode of SmackDown Live from the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio. The show saw Shane McMahon announce the competitors in the Money in the Bank Ladder match and Shinsuke Nakamura team up with AJ Styles to face Dolph Ziggler and United States Champion Kevin Owens in the main event, with Natalya, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi and Fandango all making appearances. But was it any good. Let's take a look.

  • ICYMI - Jinder Mahal is the new WWE Champion after defeating Randy Orton at Backlash on 21st May. 
  • Mahal and the Singh Brothers arrive backstage with a police escourt, with Jinder pulling pantomime villain-esque facial expressions as the crowd chant "USA". 

Shane McMahon Announced the Participants in This Year's Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Coming out of Backlash, SmackDown didn't waste anytime in setting out it's shop for Money in the Bank on 18th June. The opening segment had Commissioner Shane McMahon making a pair of matches for the event, firstly a rematch between Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton over the WWE Championship and then the Money in the Bank Ladder match competitors. It's a pretty straightforward line-up with the competitors from the three big non-WWE title bouts from Backlash, AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, United States Champion Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura getting the nod for WWE's annual high-spot spectacular. Certainly not a shabby line-up, but you've gotta feel for Luke Harper and Tye Dillinger who actually won their matches at Backlash! However, these six lads have the potential to put on a special contest at MITB, with a good mixture of powerhouses, work horses and guys willing to pull off the big memorable spots that the match is known for. 

The segment itself was fun stuff, with everyone getting a little bit of mic-time, as faces and heels took shots at each other and set up a pair of matches for later in the show. Styles and Nakamura stood out here for me, with Styles getting a pop for a South Park reference and generally just bringing some energy to his promo, whilst Nakkers is just Nakkers and fascinates me every time he speaks words out of his beautiful mouth. It wasn't all roses though as Owens initially not being part of the bout would have been a nice development, but Shane McMahon gave into his demands so easily that I'm not quite sure why they even bothered with that direction. Corbin demanding the briefcase be lowered and he be declared winner, just two days after staring at the lights against Zayn was a head scratcher also. 

Lynch & Flair def. Natalya & Carmella

A decent tag bout here, that was arguably more entertaining than the six man tag from Backlash two days earlier. After a sloppy start between Carmella and Becky Lynch, that played out in front of a dead crowd, the bout managed to turn things around after the ad break with Lynch's hot tag to Charlotte Flair getting a big reaction. The match actually stayed on the screen during the break, but it was difficult to focus on the action with various fast-food adverts blaring away at the same time, so I'm not quite sure what got the crowd so invested, although considering this was the opener it perhaps took Toledo a few minutes to get warmed up. The finish was done well with lots going as Naomi, Tamina and James Ellsworth got involved at ringside, Natalya threw Flair across the ring with a German suplex and eventually Lynch got Carmella to submit with the Dis-armer to bring a frenetic few minutes to a close. Flair, Lynch and Naomi all celebrated their victory together with no turns, so who knows where the SmackDown Women's division is heading right now.

  • Sami Zayn got a flash win over Baron Corbin in a matter of seconds, but then got brutalised by Corbin post-match. The vicious nature of Corbin's attack and the fact that it took place mostly in the crowd made The Lone Wolf look like a real scary dude, helped by the fact he kept yelling at the referees and crowd.
  • AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura touched on their history in Japan in the locker room, with Nakamura threatening to turn AJ's house into his playground. 
  • Shane McMahon made his debut on the Fashion Files, with Breezango continuing to make the most of every second their on the screen, as McMahon convinced them not to hang up their water pistols. 

Mahal Held a Punjabi Celebration

JINDER MAHAL IS WWE CHAMPION AND HE IS FROM INDIA! That was this segment in a nutshell as WWE came out all guns blazing with a Punjabi Celebration for the Maharajah, with lads playing the dhol drums and dancing and what have you, the Singh Brothers mugging about, shit loads of pyro. Just like the assertion that the entire of India was watching and losing their minds for Mahal and having JBL throw out ridiculous comparisons to Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa, the whole segment was about making Jinder look like a big deal and the segment definitely hit that aim. Mahal's promo wasn't anything special and wasn't helped by the champ losing his voice, but it got over his character and his issues with the audience and then talking in Punjabi managed to conjure a "USA" chant. Whilst I'm pretty sure WWE did the exact same angle when The Great Khali won the World Heavyweight title in 2007, the segment had it's own charm and I doubt most of WWE's audience remember Khali's run almost ten years ago.

Breeze def. Jey Uso 

Fandango def. Jimmy Uso

The Usos def. Breezango to retain SmackDown Tag Team Championships

A brilliant piece of booking here, that had Toledo completely invested in Breezango as first Tyler Breeze got a quick roll-up victory on Jey Uso, before Fandango took advantage of Jimmy being distracted by Breeze's out of the ring antics to do the same on the other brother. Breezango asked for a title shot and with a masterstroke of having the referee get on a headset to confirm things with Shane O'Mac we had a SmackDown Tag Team title bout there and then. The Usos controlled most of the bout, but the reactions for two near falls for Fandango were something special. The first came off the hot tag as The Ballroom Brawler hit a tornado DDT and simultaneously kicked out at the other Uso, before the second topped it as Deputy Dango got his knees up to block a Samoan Splash that came after a barrage of super kicks. The finish featured some lovely ideas as Fandango hit Beauty in Motion and then got caught with a Samoan Splash (Uso #2 had sneakily tagged in moments earlier). The camera work and timing could have been better, but that didn't stop this from being a strong finish to a terrifically entertaining tag bout. I'm hoping against hope that this isn't the end of Breezango's push as both lads deserve a reward for their stellar work over the last month or so. 

  • Natalya, Carmella (and James Ellsworth), Becky Lynch, Tamina and Charlotte Flair went to Shane to ask for a title shot, with the Commish making a Five-Way Elimination match to decide a #1 Contender, next week. 

Nakamura & Styles def. Ziggler & Owens 

This match had more than a few similarities with the RAW main event (Samoa Joe & Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) the previous night, mostly in the general feel of having four top level since stars in a tag bout for the reason that they needed a main event. I preferred the RAW match, mainly because the storytelling was much stronger, as parts of the booking here didn't quite work. Having Nakamura as the initial face in peril was questionable choice, because it exposed more than was necessary on his TV debut, yet the crowd was into it and began chanting for Styles. Also Styles not selling the leg injury that was major part of the storyline of his match with Owens the previous night was a real waste, as having him hit Ushigoroshi as part of his hot tag, only to have his knee give out and the momentum switch would have helped drive the later half of this 25 minute plus contest. The bout did have some cool moments though, like Ziggler counting along with an Owens pin with his back to the ring and Owens assault on Styles with a Senton on the floor and then running football kick to the spine that knocked AJ off the apron. 

After the second hot tag the match really came to life as we got Nakamura cleaning house, finally beginning to look like the bad ass he's been pushed as on SmackDown, before a great sequence involving all four guys. After Nakamura hit the inverted exploder on Ziggler, Owens blocked the Kinshasa to the Show-Off, Styles hit a Pele Kick on the New Face of America, Ziggler blocking a Styles Clash to Owens with a superkick before taking a running single leg dropkick from Nakkers, who then finished off Owens with a Kinshasa to pin the United States Champion. The last stretch was a great advertisement for Money in the Bank as it showed what the four could do in a spot-based environment, it was just a shame that it took so long to get to. Owens taking the pin, whilst being United States Champion, especially after only getting a countout win on the PPV, was a strange decision, but I suppose the thinking was that Owens is more than capable of covering for it on the mic and Ziggler was guy in the MITB that most needs building up.

  • Renee Young and Shane McMahon opened the show, talking a little bit about the Money in the Bank competitors, including Shane giving the most boring description of how someone could cash the brief case in. 

The New Day Interview 

It was so good to see Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods on my TV screen again! After over a month and a half away, their words felt as fresh as a big bowl of Booty-os. The boys chatted about what they'd been up to away from WWE, with Big E talking about performing a marriage ceremony, Kingston talking about healing up his ankle and Woods talking about his new baby. The stuff they were talking about was hardly ground-breaking but the chemistry and relaxed nature of the interaction gave it a certain charm with a couple of laugh out loud quips along the way. The chat about actually being on SmackDown and the tag team division was overall pretty generic, although a throw-away line about JBL calling the Usos "the greatest team of the last half-decade" did provide an interesting potential storyline for their full-time return.

  • Young and McMahon discussed the Punjabi Celebration, with all the dancing and the drums and such. McMahon also got a chance to talk about Mahal's title victory, being careful not to call Mahal's victory "lucky" as he hyped up the rematch at Money in the Bank. 

Naomi Interview 

I like how understated Naomi is on the mic, she sounds confident, but not in an over-the-top or exaggerated way, she feels real and that makes it easy to connect to her story. The SmackDown Women's Champion turned up to discuss next week's #1 Contender bout, talking about the possibility of facing Carmella, who has pinned her twice recently, using her history to explain why she will never underestimate an opponent. The chat moved into Naomi's outside life and her journey to become a professional wrestler, a story that I knew very little about. It's the fleshing out of backstories and creating a rounded picture of performers lives that Talking Smack really excels. It wasn't must see, like some of the previous interviews, but I think it will add an extra dimension to Naomi's bouts for anyone who did see it.


ATPW Scale Rating - 5.46/10 

A solid episode of SmackDown heading out of the PPV, setting up the direction for the next few weeks as we move towards Money in the Bank next month. The main event under delivered, but I feel like almost every other segment on the show over performed. Breezango and The Usos was entertaining as fuck and had the crowd believing Tyler Breeze and Fandango could take the tag titles, whilst Jinder Mahal's Punjabi Celebration felt fresh and benefitted from know run in from Randy Orton. This show did it's job in shifting stories along and setting up two marquee bouts for the next PPV and remained a comfortable watch across the hour and half.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

WWE Monday Night RAW #1252 (22nd May 2017) Review

On 22nd May, WWE aired the 1252nd episode of Monday Night RAW live from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns getting Teddy Longed into Wyatt & Samoa Joe vs. Reigns & Seth Rollins and Matt Hardy taking on Sheamus with the opportunity to choose the RAW Tag Team Championship match stipulation for Extreme Rules on the line, as well as appearances from The Miz, Kurt Angle, WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, Paul Heyman and Sasha Banks. But was it any good? Let's take a look.

  • The show began with a recap of Kurt Angle making a Fatal Five-Way bout with Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor for Extreme Rules. 

Reigns def. Wyatt via Disqualification 

After a cool moment of Bray Wyatt's signature effect breaking through the recap package and moving straight into Wyatt's entrance at the Van Andel Arena, Wyatt provided our first promo of the night. You can always rely on Bray to bring complete commitment and tonnes of energy to his work on the mic, so it makes sense to utilise him at the top of the show to grab the live crowd and draw the home audience in. I could give or take the content of the promo, which saw Wyatt addressing Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, claiming that the crowd were slaves of the beast and it was Wyatt who would set them free. A Wyatt v Lesnar programme has potential and I guess all five Fatal Five-Way competitors have to set something up with Lesnar "in case they win" at Extreme Rules, but without Lesnar present it's difficult to get particularly into anyone's words at the moment. When Wyatt shifted onto old rival Roman Reigns things got more interesting and the word painting more vivid with Bray professing "What is one silly little yard mean to a man who owns the world?". Reigns quickly answered Wyatt's words and after a short dialogue, RAW General Manager Kurt Angle arrived to book the match to happen next.
The bout didn't last long at all, before Samoa Joe attacked Reigns leading to the disqualification. The few minutes of wrestling was relatively stereotypical fare for the two, featuring plenty of clubbering and big lad strikes. The five minute bout could very well have been a portion of any match the two had during their feud during the second half of 2015 and as someone who enjoyed their matches, I appreciated watching these two chuck each other about for a little while. The DQ finish with Joe walking down the ramp and then locking Reigns in the Coquina Clutch was a little lame, but we've got a Five Way to push so was to be expected. To push the unpredictability (and ironically in quite a predicable fashion) Joe also locked Wyatt in his submission. The crowd was pretty hot for Seth Rollins making the save and getting into it with Joe and we close with Rollins and Reigns looking awkward with each other in the ring as Joe and Wyatt retreated. 

  • Kurt Angle did a delayed Teddy Long, telling Reigns and Rollins backstage that they'd face Wyatt & Joe later on tonight in a TAG TEAM MATCH, before putting Elias Samson in a match with Dean Ambrose after The Drifter did some drifting.
  • Akira Tozawa picked up a swift victory of Ariya Daivari with a stunning diving senton. They did strange thing of having Michael Cole interview The Brian Kendrick mid-match, with Kendrick staying backstage instead of joining the commentary team.
  • Alicia Fox and Noam Dar interrupted Sasha Banks during an interview with Charly Caruso.

Samson def. Ambrose via Disqualification 

After Elias Samson had manged to get a decent bit of heat with his guitar playing hipster act, his debut match with WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose was a tepid affair. Samson controlled most the match, with brawling offence and wear-down holds, leaving very little to get excited about. A knee on the apron and Ambrose diving off the top rope into a jumping knee from Samson were the highlights and even those didn't look particularly impressive. The bouts strongest assets were Ambrose's selling, as he looked good when scrapping from underneath against the newcomer, as well as part of The Miz's commentary when he wasn't getting verbally bumped into by Michael Cole. This was the second high profile bout in a row with a DQ finish as Miz came down to the ring after an awkward Lunatic Lariat spot and put the boots to Samson. I'm not behind the gimmick for Miz v Ambrose at Extreme Rules, which will see Ambrose lose the title if he's DQ, so seeing them build it like this (especially after the early DQ) made me groan. It terms of quality this wasn't a great debut match from Samson, but he was booked strong, dominating the Intercontinental Champion and then jumping him from behind post-match.

  • Big Cass found Enzo Amore unconscious backstage, before Kurt Angle promised that he'd "get to the bottom of this" as Amore was carried away by paramedic. 

Heyman Confronted Balor 

Moments before Finn Balor's bout with Karl Anderson, Balor found himself face to face with Paul Heyman in a curious segment. Heyman initially interrupted a promo from Balor, by listing the four other members of the Extreme Rules main event and listing the ways in which Brock Lesnar would make them his victim. It was a deliberately placed promo as Heyman slowly walked to the ring, whilst Balor stood listening inside it, holding the interest because I couldn't work out exactly where it was heading or why it was happening. That was until Heyman began to heavily put over Balor and I mean put over as Paul laid it on thick calling Balor "the best in-ring talent in WWE today". It was certainly an interesting way of putting Balor over and having Heyman push him as the only potential threat to Lesnar's title will do the Irishmen no harm. The live crowd seemed to lap it up, especially at any mentions of the "Balor Club", but for me the segment felt a little ham-fisted as it hit us over the head with it's aims and more or less signposted that Finn won't be winning at Extreme Rules.

Balor def. Anderson 

If Heyman's promo was all about pushing Finn Balor, this bout was the physical continuation of that promo. The bout wasn't exactly a squash, as Anderson looked competitive and got a decent near fall off a Spinebuster, but it was clear that with The Club not really doing anything at the moment that this bout was all about making Balor look great. In that aim alone the bout did it's job, as the final flurry with Finn nailing a tope conhilo onto Anderson and Luke Gallows, a slingblade, running front dropkick and Coup de Grace, made Balor look like a world beater, especially because Anderson had previously been presented so strongly. The rest of the bout featured a couple of slick back and forth sequences that showed the pairs familiarity (alongside their BULLET CLUB days, they've also had a run together on the recent European tour) and I got the feeling that under different circumstances Balor and Anderson could've put together something special. There's a parallels to be drawn between this bout and how The Club's mini-feud with Roman Reigns back in February was handled, with this style of match being much more effective in making someone look exceptional, as opposed to the Two-on-One Handicap bouts with DQ endings that the Big Dog got.

Banks def. Fox

It appeared that Sasha Banks had the difficulty set to "Easy" as she managed to defeat Alicia Fox using a signature move in minutes. The match was going fine up until the point Banks won with her diving double knee drop with Fox trapped in the turnbuckle, with The Boss opening things off hot as she locked in the Banks Statement. Noam Dar providing the distraction for Fox to take control looked like it could drive the rest of the bout and we might finally get to see these women go longer than three minutes, but then it was done. The post-match angle with Banks slapping Dar before Fox attacked her rival, finishing up with an Ax Kick would've felt cooler if we hadn't already seen the pair wrestle sub-three minute bouts three weeks in a row on TV. Fox and Dar kissing over a broken Banks (who sold the Ax Kick like a gun-shot) was a nice moment and with the right treatment, there's potential for Fox and Dar to get over huge as more than just a cult thing.

  • Kalisto and Apollo Crews had an awkward chat backstage, before Titus O'Neil turned up and booked a match between the two, because he has those powers now.
  • Goldust cut a funky promo about lights and gold, after his attack on R-Truth last week, although some of the impact was lessened by WWE having Goldie's theme playing throughout the whole thing. 
  • Alexa Bliss continued her hot streak of promos during an interview with Charly Caruso, refusing to feel bad for her Kendo Stick attack to Bayley a week earlier, seemingly relishing in describing the moment.
  • A replay of Roman Reigns attacking Braun Strowman two weeks ago, supposedly to keep Strowman in the fans minds until he returns. 
  • Kalisto defeated Apollo Crews after Crews' got distracted by Titus O'Neil hamming it up at ringside. The bout did very little for anyone, as The Titus Brand thing continues to feel directionless, although the finish was sweet as Kalisto was able to hit Salida del Sol from a seated position.

Matt Hardy def. Sheamus to choose the stipulation for the RAW Tag Team Title Match at Extreme Rules

After taking a while to get going, Matt Hardy's victory over Sheamus became a decent TV bout, as The Hardy Boyz remained undefeated since their return. The two seemed to struggle to finding their footing early doors, looking to be half a step or so off the pace needed, but were received well, most likely because this was Hardy's first bout in Grand Rapids for seven years. The pair built a simple story of Hardy looking to hit the Twist of Fate multiple times, only for Sheamus to escape, meaning that when Sheamus walked into the move after being distracted by Jeff Hardy jumping off the apron onto Cesaro, it was satisfying for the viewer at home and got a big reaction from the crowd. Whether having The Hardy Boyz almost constantly getting one over Sheamus & Cesaro has been a questionable choice, but if the Extreme Rules bout is handled correctly then it could pay off. Talking of that match, Matt chose a Steel Cage bout for the PPV, which Sheamus & Cesaro sold like it was the end of the world. These four men in a cage has a lot of potential, for both storytelling and highspots, with memories of the Hardyz stepping into the cage with Edge & Christian (Unforgiven 2000) and the Dudley Boyz (Survivor Series 2001) coming to mind.

  • ICYMI - The conclusion of Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns was replayed. 

Aries def. Nese 

On it's own, Austin Aries victory over Tony Nese wasn't much, nothing technically wrong, but not a whole lot to show about either. However, when taken as part of the wider story being told between Aries and Cruiserweight Champion Neville, it featured some nice narrative advancement, which can be few and far between when a rivalry has gone as deep as this one. The story of the bout with Aries looking to overcome the knee injury inflicted by Neville last week, initially struggling to lock in the Last Chancery, didn't get fleshed out too much, but it did what it needed to do and laid some building blocks for the Submission match between Aries and the champion at Extreme Rules. I got a kick out of the finish with Aries quickly transitioning from a guillotine choke into a Last Chancery, as after Nese lasted for sometime in the choke, he tapped almost immediately in the chancery. Neville jumping Nese post-match and locking in the Rings of Saturn added more fuel to the fire, as both champion and challenger continued to build momentum towards their blow off match. 

Bliss def. James

A quick victory for Bliss here, in front of a crowd that didn't seem all that interested in what the ladies had to offer. The pair killed the audience from the beginning doing a weird exchange of waist locks that was utterly unconvincing. From then until the finish there was very little to get into, with James' characterisation being all over the place. A forearm and a snap DDT got Bliss the win in the best action of the match. The post-match angle did manage to rouse the crowd as Bayley came out to make the save after Bliss nailed James with a kendo stick. Bayley still being unable to get any revenge on the attack from Bliss last week is a nice thread for the women to pull through to their Kendo Stick on a Pole match at Extreme Rules. I'm still not sure why it has to be on a pole, but it is.

Wyatt & Joe def. Rollins & Reigns 

After a lacklustre show, the main event provided a much needed boost as four top tier talents put on a bloody good tag bout to close the show. The foursome stuck to your basic tag team structure, with a Rollins face shine, Reigns slotting into the Big Dog in peril role, with Wyatt and Joe grounding him and being big bruising bastards, into a wicked hot tag sequence to Rollins, before some miscommunication allowed Joe to lock in the Coquina Clutch and send the Kingslayer to sleep. There was nothing groundbreaking, but all four guys knew what story they were telling and told it bloody well. The narrative of The Destroyers of Worlds (my new cute name for Joe & Wyatt) being able to put their differences aside and work as a team, whilst Reigns and Rollins competed as two separate entities was made clear from the start as Rollins refused to let Reigns start the match to scrap with Wyatt, whilst the heels attacking as a pack was the start of all their periods of dominance. 

The finish riffed off the bouts story, with Joe dodging a Superman Punch leading to Reigns clattering into Rollins and whilst the former WWE Tag Team Champions argued, Wyatt pulled Reigns to the outside, with Joe stalking Rollins before locking in the victory clinching Coquina Clutch. It wasn't clever or flashy, it was just the logical conclusion. The victory gives Joe & Wyatt some momentum that they needed heading into Extreme Rules, whilst Reigns and Rollins have their miscommunication and mutual dislike as a get out clause for the loss. It'll be interesting to see if Wyatt and Joe's partnership is used in the Five-Way as the two joining forces to kick some arse for a bit, before throwing bombs at each other, has the potential to drive such a match. The show closed with Kurt Angle watching at an angle and interruption from Finn Balor resulting in Balor getting a triple threat with Joe and Wyatt next week, as well as a Reigns v Rollins match getting booked. Can't complain with those two bouts on the go-home show for Extreme Rules! 


ATPW Scale Rating - 4.31/10 

There seems to be a lot going on RAW at the moment, but the majority of it isn't getting the time to breath and that was the main problem with this episode for me. The opening segment, Matt Hardy v Sheamus and the main event were the only portions of the show that grabbed me and it's not surprise that these were the three longest segments on the episode. Both Women's matches were poor, with both feeling rushed, whilst Elias Samson v Dean Ambrose didn't do a whole lot for me either. Almost every story that isn't the Extreme Rules main event feels samey, under supported and has a general feel that there's a lack of effort, mainly from creative but from some of the talent also. The Braun Strowman injury has obviously caused issues with creative plans and cannibalising two feuds in Balor v Wyatt and Joe v Rollins to give Reigns something to do (despite those segments being the strongest on the show) has left RAW lacking depth as the post-WrestleMania holding pattern has well and truly taken hold.