WWE Royal Rumble 2021: Every Match Ranked

As I said on Saturday, the Royal Rumble this year was an event I was very excited about, and I’m thrilled to say that it didn’t disappoint. Once again, the stage looks set for Wrestlemania with some matchups that I’m looking forward to seeing on the horizon, hopefully with crowds to make it all the better.

Anyway, I just want to get talking about these matches, so here are my rankings.

6 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. Goldberg
(WWE Championship)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that Drew retained, but not in the excited way that I should be, I’m just glad I didn’t have to experience to utter disappointment and anger that would’ve been Goldberg winning the title. I was invested in the match, but not for the right reasons.

As you’d expect, this match was the same as just about every match Goldberg has had since he returned. Both men hit some signature moves, there were a couple of surprising kickouts, then one last signature move put the nail in the coffin. As soon as Drew kicked out of the Jackhammer, I knew he was winning, and I just don’t think it’s all that fun to watch two men hit a bunch of finishers for two minutes before a pin.

As I said, happy for Drew, don’t care about the match.

5 – Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler def. Asuka & Charlotte Flair(c)
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Talk about making Charlotte look strong in defeat…

What was the point in giving these two the titles? No-one’s come out of it looking good. Baszler & Jax won the titles back in the lamest fashion, needing THREE separate interferences to finally put Charlotte away. It perpetuates this idea that the fans have had for years that WWE treats Charlotte far better than the rest of their women’s roster. Meanwhile, Asuka was cast entirely aside to tell this story, despite being Raw’s top champion in the women’s division.

The match was fine, but given that Baszler, Jax & Flair were all going to be heavily featured in the Rumble, it was clear they were saving the bulk of their energy. This whole situation just makes me feel bad for Asuka. She was one of the best things going in the entire company during spring & summer of 2020, and since autumn, she’s been treated like she’s nothing. It boggles my mind, and I can only pray that she gets something better heading into Wrestlemania, and doesn’t have to drop the title to Charlotte beforehand…

4 – Sasha Banks(c) def. Carmella
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

I really don’t have anything to say about this one, it was a decent match with an obvious outcome. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, but given that they had a very similar, and much better match last month, I didn’t really care.

3 – Roman Reigns(c) def. Kevin Owens
(Universal Championship)
(Last Man Standing)

I was cautiously optimistic about this one in my predictions. The feud had been built damn-near perfectly over the past month, and it had all the promise in the world. However, it was also a Last Man Standing match, which are often very slow, sometimes dull affairs. Thankfully, this match mostly avoided that.

The opening section wasn’t super engaging, but there was at least the novelty of seeing the two men fighting between the screens of the Thunderdome, it was a unique visual. The match also didn’t hold off on going for the big spots straight away, and I thought this might’ve been a short one when Reigns threw Owens off the stands into the tables. Thankfully, the match continued to build for there, and I really got into it. Reigns hitting Owens with a golf cart was a shocking moment, and it was framed perfectly so that you didn’t see it coming until the last second.

The whole section backstage was a great section of Owens getting his own back after Reigns schooled him throughout the match’s early section. The forklift spot was another great one and was the second time the match tricked me into thinking it was the finish. As things moved back into the arena, the excitement continued to build, and yet another false-finish with the spear through the barricade kept me gripped into the finish.

The best false-finish was the handcuffs, and I genuinely thought Owens was about to win the title, but the ref bump put paid to that. Then…there was the botch with the handcuffs. A new ref came down as Heyman tried to unlock Reigns’ handcuffs, but Heyman just couldn’t do it, so the new ref got to a count of about 7, but had to stop because Roman was still cuffed and couldn’t get up. It did ruin the finish’s pace, but it was also quite funny, so it didn’t detract from my enjoyment as much as it probably should’ve.

While I was hoping Owens would win, Reigns’ retaining is almost certainly the right move, I quite like how strong they’re presenting his Guillotine chokehold, and given what he’d already gone through, it makes total sense that Owens’ body would give up the ghost by that point. A really good match and a strong retention for the champ.

2 – Edge won the Men’s Royal Rumble

For the past few years, I’ve noticed that the Rumbles don’t have filler entrants anymore, and I think that has increased the overall quality of the matches significantly. You look at Rumbles like 2013 & 2014, and so many of the entrants are people like 3MB, Los Matadores and complete jobbers who have no chance in hell of winning or doing anything of interest. That’s just not the case anymore, WWE’s talent roster is deep that everyone who comes in is a great wrestler who can leave an impact on the match and I think that’s why every Rumble since about 2016/2017 has been a lot of fun to watch (even if we hated the winner).

The match set forth its primary story straight away and it really worked. The heels filling the ring and beating down Edge put the odds against him straight away (as if coming out #1 wasn’t enough), and it made that comeback story feel all the sweeter. The first half of the Rumble wasn’t super eventful after the Edge/Orton stuff died down, but there were enjoyable spots and a healthy dose of surprises as the ring built up with competitors. Carlito is always a welcome sight, and Damian Priest made one hell of an impact, which I hope translates to being featured on the main roster from now on.

The second half was where things really heated up, and there was action all over. Riddle got to last a surprisingly long time in the match and him & Bryan coming to blows every now and then was great fun to watch. Lashley squaring off with Big E was something I got far more into that I was expecting to, and I would quite like to see a full-length match between the two of them now. Christian showing up was absolutely perfect, and nothing will make my heart swell more than Edge & Christian hugging as active wrestlers once again.

I went into this not too keen on Edge winning the thing, as I thought Daniel Bryan winning would’ve been a far better story, but by the time Edge was pointing at the sign, I was all-in on seeing him fight for a title at Mania. I’m not sure which champ he’s going to fight either. Roman would make more sense from a heel/face perspective, but also, there’s not really anyone else on Raw for Drew to fight at Mania. There’s even the remote possibility that Orton somehow gets the title and we get Edge vs Orton 3 at Mania instead.

Either way, this was a thoroughly enjoyable Rumble with a satisfying conclusion, and I am hyped for Wrestlemania this year.

1 – Bianca Belair won the Women’s Royal Rumble

This was one of the best Royal Rumble matches of all time. Not quite the best, there is a small handful I think are better, but not many.

The pacing on this was unbelievably good, almost in spite of itself. For the first 14 entrants (almost half the match) there was only 1 elimination, but it made the first half feel so lively. Bayley, Naomi & Bianca carried the bulk of the action as outstanding wrestlers POURED into the ring like you wouldn’t believe; Toni Storm, Shotzi Blackheart & Shayna Baszler, just to name a few. The first half of this Rumble was so much stronger than the men’s because there was so much more going on in terms of both story & action. While wrestlers like Bianca & Bayley were wrestling like there was no tomorrow, Billie Kay was running around ringside trying to win over anyone and everyone who joined the match. Billie is gifted when it comes to comedy is wrestling as this was a wonderful through-line, that actually continued when she got in the ring with Peyton Royce & The Riott Squad.

Then Rhea & Charlotte got in the ring, and shit got serious. Rhea looked like such a beast from the moment she entered, there was just something about her presentation and the way she kicked the shit out of everyone that screamed star-power. As much as I had picked Belair in my predictions and I was thrilled to see her win, in my heart, I was rooting for Ripley, and she went on a tear. Charlotte did the same, and I know I bitched about Charlotte’s presentation earlier, but I thought it was really good in this match and paid off well.

The 24/7 title stuff was a bit weird, but it suited Alica Fox and didn’t last too long or over bare on the match. The last run of entrants added a lot to the match. Carmella got a good mini-story with Reginald, Alexa Bliss managed to look good despite being eliminated really quickly as everyone mobbed her as soon as she got in. Lana FINALLY got one over on Nia & Shayna in a satisfying moment, and Nia didn’t injure anyone, which is always a plus. Also, Natalya was there, I guess.

What really put this match over the top though, was the final 3, which was utterly flawless. I was genuinely out of my seat as Charlotte, Rhea & Bianca faced off – the same three women who were in each other’s face over the NXT Women’s Championship last year. I wanted both Rhea & Bianca to win, and them ganging up on Charlotte was the most pleasing thing of all. They teased us just enough with the potential of Charlotte shit-canning them both to make it very satisfying when they finally got rid of her.

Then we had Rhea & Bianca face off in the final two. Two women who both stood a really good chance of winning the match, who told a brilliant story together back in NXT, facing off in a match-within-a-match for about 3-4 minutes. They did a fantastic job of teasing some false-finishes and played with the fact that we genuinely had no idea which one of them was going to win in the best possible way.

When Bianca finally won, it was a tremendous emotional climax and felt so very deserved. Not only because of the great work she’s done week-to-week recently, but because of how damned hard she fought for it in this match. Unlike Edge, who took a backseat here and there in his Rumble, Bianca was always amongst the action, with her & Naomi especially putting on a great show constantly battling.

It’s a masterclass in making a new star, and I can’t wait for her to put on the performance of a lifetime at Wrestlemania against (hopefully) Sasha Banks.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comment below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Saturday where I’ll be covering my favourite Fall Guys levels!

WWE Royal Rumble 2021: Predictions & Analysis

There are very few wrestling events that I get childishly excited about these days, but the Royal Rumble is definitely one of them. It’s been said the world over by now, but it really is true that even a bad Rumble is still a lot of fun while you’re watching it. Having two Rumbles on the same show can be a bit exhausting these days, but also screw it, it’s a lot of fun, and I always have a blast, so I don’t care.

Enough rambling, more rumbling, let’s make predictions.

Asuka & Charlotte Flair(c) vs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

You wouldn’t know it based on how they’ve been booked on TV this past month, but Asuka & Charlotte are actually the women’s tag champs. For some reason, WWE has decided to keep them miles apart from each other this month. Each woman has completely separate stories from each other, and only tangentially got involved with their challengers for this match.

When they won the titles, I think we all knew it was just so they could break up and feud for Wrestlemania, but apparently, until they’re ready to pull the trigger on that, WWE is just going to pretend they’re not even aware of one another. I’d like to be optimistic about this match and say that it has all the right competitors to be a good one, but this match will definitely get cut short. Since the pandemic era, WWE has tried to keep their PPVs to about 3 – 3 & 1/2 hours, we’ve got two Rumbles, which are both an hour-long, then four other title matches to deal with. That means that every title match (except for maybe one) will go short, so I’m not expecting much from this one.

In terms of a winner, I would prefer it if Jax & Baszler took the titles back, but I don’t see it happening until WWE are ready to start building the Charlotte/Asuka feud, which I doubt they are just yet. So I’m going to put Asuka & Charlotte Flair to retain, even if it is a stupid idea.

Sasha Banks(c) vs Carmella
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This was a very odd build. For the first couple of weeks after TLC, it seemed like Banks was done with Carmella, but apparently, WWE realised last-minute that Sasha needed something to do this month, so just kept the feud going while everyone else in the division builds to the Rumble. The stuff with Reginald was pretty good if you ask me, but it didn’t do much to actually hype me up for this match, it was more of just an entertaining, but self-contained oddity.

As with their TLC match, I think this one will be good, but not very long. Banks already dispatched of Carmella with little difficulty last month, and I can’t see Carmella looking much better in this one. All I’m hoping for here is an enjoyable match that lasts about 12 minutes. In an ideal world, I’d like it to go longer, but as I’ve said, the two Rumbles mean that the other matches have got to go short.

As I’ve probably made apparent already, I think Sasha Banks is going to retain. There’s no value in Banks dropping that belt before Wrestlemania, especially not to someone that she’s already beat once before.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Goldberg
(WWE Championship)

Here we are again…

When this match was first announced, along with being disappointed, I also had the cockiness and was thinking there’s NO WAY they’d have Drew drop the title to Goldberg after building him up all year. Then I remembered that was precisely the same thing I thought last year when Goldberg beat The Fiend for the title.

It’s one of those rare cases where, whether or not I think this match is a good idea depends ENTIRELY on the result. If Drew wins, then it will be a great way to lend him some real credibility and bolster his stock even further going into Wrestlemania. However, if Goldberg wins, then it will be a terrible idea that proves that WWE doesn’t listen to its audience and only cares about selling nostalgia rather than creating new stars from the wrestlers we actually like.

I’m picking Drew McIntyre because I have to because I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I picked Goldberg. The worst part is, if Goldberg does in, I know that I’m not even going to have the energy to be pissed off about it, I’m just going to be disappointed.

Roman Reigns(c) vs Kevin Owens
(Universal Championship)
(Last Man Standing)

By far the best built non-Rumble match on this show, I am really quite excited to see this one.

Smackdown as a whole has been bloody great this past month, and this feud at the top of everything has been a massive part of why. The original build with Nakamura going long in the gauntlet match, only for Pearce to be forcefully slotted in the match was a great way to kick things off. In all honesty, I was kind of excited to see Roman vs Pearce, but the way they turned the story around was really well-done. Pearce pulled a fast one on Roman, which brought Owens back into the picture with a hell of a lot of fire.

From there, things have built perfectly. Reigns’ heat only seems to build week on week as he wanders around the place, getting to be cocky, snobbish and hilariously sarcastic to everyone he meets. What’s more, is when the face gets one over on him, it feels like a huge moment, like Reigns is getting put in his place, if only just momentarily. Owens’ promos about his tattoos and what this means to him have been so impassioned and genuine that you just have to cheer for him. I’ve said before about how Owens can talk so genuinely, and Reigns has turned out to be the perfect opponent for him.

This build has been so good that I briefly considered the possibility that Owens could win the title. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t make much sense for Roman to drop the title now, but the story with Owens has been so good, that it’s made me somewhat forget all of that logic. I’ve not gone all of the way off the deep end though, and I’m still picking Roman Reigns to win, I’m saying, if Owens won, I’d be pleased with it.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Now we get to what we’re all here for, the Royal Rumble matches, and genuinely, I’m really struggling to predict a winner for both of these. It seems counter-intuitive given that there are 30 participants in the match, but we usually go into a Rumble match with one or two legit contenders for the win, however this year…there’s so many! As usual with these, I’m going to run down the handful of participants that I think are in with a shout, and explain a bit about why, before making my final pick.

Rhea Ripley- This is the one I’d probably be the most surprised about if it actually happened, but it’s pretty clear that Ripley is done in NXT. Her debut on the main roster seems to be imminent, and what better way to make a splash than winning the Rumble? She could feud with either Sasha or Asuka, and it would be a match I’d be very excited to see, but ultimately, this is the one I’d put the lowest odds on happening.

Bayley – While the match at Hell in a Cell was terrific, I think we were all a bit surprised when the Sasha/Bayley feud ended after just one match. Immediately there was speculation that they might save the rematch for Wrestlemania. While I think it’s a definite possibility, as the months have gone on, I think it’s become less and less likely. I don’t know what else Bayley could do at Wrestlemania, to be fair, but I think WWE will want something fresh for Banks at that show.

Charlotte Flair – This is probably the most straightforward pick out of what we’ve got, but I don’t think it’s the most likely. With Asuka & Charlotte as tag champs, if Charlotte won the Rumble, that would instantly cause the break-up and the feud. The only problem is it would be quite underwhelming. This isn’t a knock on Charlotte, but she won the Rumble last year, I don’t really want to see her win it again, especially when there are far more exciting options on the table.

Alexa Bliss – This has been incredibly weird, and not all that good, but at the same time, I kind of like the direction it’s going in. It’s hard to tell what the end-game is with the Fiend/Bliss relationship. For the most part, she’s just been a pawn in the feud between The Fiend and Orton, but over past few weeks, she’s been challenging Asuka for the title, breaking out on her own. I think it would be a colossal waste if she didn’t at least get to sniff a major title feud here.

Bianca Belair – For a while, Belair was the top contender for this match in my mind, and she might still be, I’m honestly not sure. After a bit of a slow start on Raw, she moved over to Smackdown, and it instantly became clear that she was a star in the making. While the finish to the Survivor Series tag match was crap, Belair was clearly the MVP of the whole match, and since she’s been feuding with Bayley, she’s been looking good week in, and week out, they even made that WWE Chronicle on her past, which is something they don’t do for just anyone.

This is a really tough choice. In my head, it’s between Bliss & Belair, and since they’re both on different brands, either one of them could theoretically win, then the other just gets their title match via the Elimination Chamber. I’ve genuinely gone back and forth several times while writing this section, but in the end, I’ve got to go with…Bianca Belair. I’m already second-guessing that decision, but I’ve got to make the pick at some point.

Men’s Royal Rumble

Truth be told, I’m actually thrilled that these Rumbles are so hard to predict because it means I’m going to be all the more invested in the match. Not having any idea what’s going to happen just gets me hyped up all the more, and that goes for the men’s Rumble as much as it does the women’s. Let’s run down the contenders.

Shinsuke Nakamura – Technically possible, because they’ve been pushing him quite hard this past month, but I doubt it’ll actually happen. It feels more to me like this is Smackdown’s way of building up more red-herrings in terms of people who could win the Rumble. They’ve been doing this with Cesaro & Dolph Ziggler too. I’m glad they’re doing it, it’s something that should be done every year, but I don’t think any of them are actually going to win.

Seth Rollins – This does depend on whether he’s ready to return after becoming a father (which is the reason I didn’t consider Becky for the women’s Rumble), but if he does come back, I’d say he has a shot at winning. While we have seen Roman vs Seth before, it was a long time ago, and the situation was quite different. Sure, they’re both heels, but you can change that a bit, since Seth will be coming off of a return, it wouldn’t be that weird to do a character shift.

Edge – I had a feeling Edge was going to be in the Rumble, but I thought they would’ve saved it as a surprise entrant. Either way, I think this is more likely a platform to sow the seeds for his Wrestlemania feud. No idea whether they want to do the third match with Orton, or maybe a marquee feud with someone like Styles, but either way, I don’t think he’ll be the winner of the thing. If he were to win, then I think Roman vs Edge would be the way to go, I just don’t see it happening.

John Cena – While reports from the dirt sheets say that there are no Wrestlemania plans locked in just yet, they are also saying that Cena is almost sure to have a match. So why not have him enter the Rumble and win it? Roman vs Cena would be a money match, even if we’ve already seen it, but I think Drew vs Cena could be one hell of a match too. The story can build around Cena trying to break Ric Flair’s imaginary world title record or something like that.

Big E – Since about Summerslam, Big E has been one of the top contenders to win the Rumble, but in recent months he’s gone down quite significantly in my odds. Now he’s got the Intercontinental Championship under his belt, I’d prefer it if he had a decent length reign with that, fighting a variety of opponents, rather than hot-shotting straight up to the world title. Not to say I’d be upset if he did win the Rumble, far from it, I just think that it’d be better for him to build for a while longer and maybe wait until Summerslam to challenge for the title.

Goldberg – So this was a possibility that I hadn’t considered until I saw it floating around online, and quite frankly, it terrifies me. If you’ve not seen it, people have been speculating that maybe Goldberg could lose to Drew earlier in the night, only to enter and win the Rumble. This would be a disaster, but I can 100% see WWE going through with it, especially with the report a few days ago that WWE is considering a ‘really scary’ finish to the Rumble that might piss off fans.

Daniel Bryan – As much as I can’t make all that solid of case for it, it just feels right. Admittedly, it’d pretty ironic that after being majorly snubbed from two Rumble wins in 2014 & 2015, that the Rumble he finally wins could be one in front of no crowd, but that’s life I suppose. Bryan’s expressed his desire to stop being a full-time wrestler over the next year – a position I think he’s more than deserving of – so I think giving Bryan one last big Mania match would be the best way to go, and a Rumble win is the perfect way to get there. Roman vs Bryan is a match that WWE has planned, but never actually executed over the past couple of years (cave for Fastlane 2015, but those were VERY different times), and they already sowed the seeds of it through November and December, it would seem weird not to commit to it now.

As I said, the case is still a bit shaky, and I’m by no means certain, but Daniel Bryan winning the Rumble just feels right to me, so I’m sticking to my guns and making it my official prediction.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think will happen at the Royal Rumble, either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Monday, where I’ll be writing up my review!

WWE Wrestlemania 36: Predictions & Analysis

Ok…ok. Let’s all just take a second to breathe…

We all nice and calm? Yes? Good. Now WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!

I mean, obviously, we know what’s going with the world as a whole, but as to what WWE are doing with this show…I honestly don’t have the words. First, there was talk of it getting postponed until June, then they announced they were going to do it from the Performance Center with no crowd, then suddenly it was a two-night event and now it turns out it’s technically already happened because they TAPED it last week and NOW there’s a whole bunch of confusion over who actually is and isn’t wrestling on the show. A bunch of reports came out about Asuka, The Miz & Cesaro all refusing to wrestle, but apparently, that might’ve been WWE leaking some fake info to throw people off the scent? I honestly have no idea what going on, but it sure it WILD.

The real kicker is that despite all of this craziness, I can’t help but feel incredibly underwhelmed.

I know, of course, it’s not WWE’s fault. No-one could’ve seen this coming and given the circumstances, there is honestly no “right way” to go about this. Running the show at the PC has its downsides, but rescheduling for June, when we don’t know if the current global crisis will be over by then is arguably just as bad of a decision. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not nearly as excited for this show as I was a month ago and I honestly don’t think it’s going to be as good as it could’ve been. Again, not WWE’s fault in the slightest, but it’s still true.

Still, I’m not going to go in with the mindset of hating it, I’m going to do my best to give it a chance since, on paper, almost all of these matches promise great things. It’s true that the lack of a crowd will take something major away from the matches, but they could still be fun to watch.

So let’s get predicting.

OH and just to clarify, I haven’t seen any spoilers from last week’s tapings of this show because that would defeat the point.

Aleister Black vs Bobby Lashley

Oh goodie, it’s a “we need to fill two nights” kind of match.

It’s hard to be critical of a match like this because we’re all well aware that it wouldn’t be happening if the current situation wasn’t as it is; or at the very least, we would’ve got some build to it if the circumstances were normal.  I think it could be a pretty good match, Lashley can pretty selectively put on surprisingly good matches so if everything comes together between these two we might be spending Monday talking about how we were pleasantly surprised by this one.

Aleister Black has got to win though, for the same reasons he’s had to win every PPV match he’s had over the past year or so. I’m really hoping that this match ends the “match for the sake of giving Black a win” phase of his story and we actually give him something with a bit of meat to it next. Still, as far as high-profile wins go, I think beating Lashley is a good one.

Elias vs King Corbin

Ironically, this is a match I’m pretty certain would’ve happened regardless of the circumstances and yet I care so much less about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Elias and Corbin’s ok, but I’m just not buying the animosity between these two. The upside of Corbin’s character is that all he has to do is say a few mean words and you can understand the other guy wanting him to take him down a few notches, but I really think that both of these guys could’ve been doing something a little more interesting. Then again, we’re not getting another Corbin vs Reigns match, so I guess I should be happy about it.

I’m pretty certain King Corbin is going to win this one. He’s spent the past few months losing to Roman Reigns over and over again and it’s not like WWE have ever cared about building Elias up as a legitimate star. I imagine Elias will use Gronk’s help to get one over on Corbin after the bell, but I’m fully expecting the actual win to go to Corbin.

Otis vs Dolph Ziggler

I really didn’t think this would get this far, but good on everyone involved for making it work.

I’ve made it clear before that I’m not really digging Otis as a personality, I think he falls just on the wrong side of silly for me. That said, I’ve actually been relatively invested in this storyline, I think it’s been well-written for the most part and has served its purpose of building Heavy Machinery up and stopped them from being “just another tag team” which so many pairings are right now.

I’m not overly invested in the outcome of this one, but I think if they get the level of shenanigans right, then I’ll come away from it having an enjoyable time at the very least. I’ve got to go with Otis on this one though, otherwise, this whole thing will have been for nothing in my view, it’s not like Dolph Ziggler needs the win and after this whole saga, I think we all just want to see the happy ending where the guy gets the girl…and then the girl’s friend starts beating the shit out her.

The Street Profits(c) vs Austin Theory & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

I mean…ok?

I know there have been plenty of weird decisions made in the build to Wrestlemania this year, but this strikes me as one of the weirdest. At least when Andrade was in the match I could say it made some amount of sense and if he got injured then fair enough on finding a replacement but…why Austin Theory?

Don’t get me wrong, I like Theory, I think he’s a great wrestler, but out of everyone on the whole roster they could’ve picked to fill this role…why him? There’s no rationale behind this as far as I can tell and I don’t just mean in storyline, I mean in general. Admittedly, I certainly can’t think of anyone better to put in that spot, but it still feels weird.

Regardless of the strangeness surrounding it, I’m pretty confident this will be a good match. I have very little negative to say about any of these 4 men when it comes to their in-ring work and provided this gets a decent amount of time, this could be the sleeper hit of the weekend. The Street Profits should win this one because Theory & Garza winning would be stupid and they’d probably only hold the belts for about a week.

The Kabuki Warriors(c) vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Alexa Bliss! I remember her.

I don’t mean to poke fun, but it really feels like Alexa has been away from the ring for ages now thanks to various injury scares and it’s almost like I’ve forgotten who she is to some extent. Her character is in this weird limbo where she hasn’t quite found her feet as a face yet outside of being Nikki Cross’ friend because everyone loves Nikki Cross.

Once again, I think the match will probably be a really fun one to watch, but I can’t say I’m all the invested in it. The Kabuki Warriors feel like they’ve been champions forever and I totally forgot that Bliss & Cross are actually who they won the titles from in the first place. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw some form of character surprise here, with someone turning on their partner, although I couldn’t pick who. I don’t have any reason or justification behind that claim other than a gut feeling though, so who knows?

Picking a winner is a bit of dilemma too because I don’t feel like there’s much else for Asuka & Kairi to do with the titles. Which is extra weird when you consider they haven’t been defended for ages because Asuka’s been tied up with Becky and Shayna since January. On the other hand, I also don’t see any value in Bliss & Cross winning the titles back from the women they originally lost them too. I might be overthinking this, but I’m going with Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross to win the titles since Bliss has only recently returned to the ring. In addition to this, I can see Asuka & Kairi getting much more prominent roles as singles competitors to take on Shayna throughout the summer. I also think that Alexa’s already done all there is to do as a single star (at least until there’s a new crop of female talent on Raw & Smackdown), so the tag belts feel like the right move for her & Nikki Cross right now.

The Miz & John Morrison(c) vs The Usos vs The New Day
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Ladder Match)

Now, THIS is the kind of thing that gives me life. Crowd or no crowd, crazy ladder spots always look cool…assuming this match really is happening…

I honestly don’t know what else to say about this match other than it’s got a 99.9% chance of being brilliant. We already know that The Usos & The New Day have some of the greatest in-ring chemistry currently in the WWE, so you pile on top of that ladders upon ladders AND a wonderfully heelish tag team for both of them to be trying to take down and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a brilliant match.

Not only will it be a brilliant watch, but I’m also pretty even when it comes to picking a winner. I don’t think it will be The New Day and they’re the former champions, but between the other two teams, I think it could go either way. On the one hand, Miz & Morrison are still pretty hot as a team right now and they haven’t had a long enough reign to really show their true potential for what they can do with the belts in the modern-day. Then on the other, you have The Usos, who feel like they’ve been inches away from taking back the Tag Titles ever since they returned late last year. In the end, I think I’m going to have to go with The Miz & John Morrison because I’m picking a lot of face wins and a lot of title changes on this show, so this is a nice heelish win (probably achieved through sneaky methods) to balance things out.

Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins

How long has this match been building now? Since about Survivor Series?

I’m not complaining too much, as I actually think Rollins’ heel turn and character change has been very entertaining for the past few months, but this feud has in some way been a part of Raw for so long that it’s going to feel weird without it. Assuming this is their only match…which it almost certainly won’t be, but that’s not important.

This match seems like a sure-fire hit to me. Both of these guys are brilliant wrestlers who seem to know each other quite well and I’m sure they’ll put on something fantastic to watch. I imagine they’ll be shenanigans galore involving AOP, Viking Raiders & Buddy Murphy in one way or another, but I don’t think it’ll take anything away from the match. Ultimately, the only thing that could potentially drag this match down is the same thing that could potentially ruin every match for the next two nights, which is the lack of a crowd.

This is one of the matches I’m least confident about picking a winner for. Both guys haven’t had many major wins recently and both arguably need them. I think Owens has the potential to be one of the biggest babyfaces in recent memory if his rise is booked well enough, but on the other hand, I think WWE are really high on Rollins’ new gimmick right now and I fully expect him to be the first challenger for the WWE title following Wrestlemania. I genuinely went back and forth on this one so much, this is actually the second time I’ve had to rewrite this section this week because of how much I’ve been flip-flopping. I’m going with Kevin Owens, I think he’s got the most to gain from this win and it’s not like it will hurt Seth all that much to lose after the year he’s had. Not to mention, with one member of AOP being out of action again, it seems like his group might be falling apart sooner than expected.

Sami Zayn(c) vs Daniel Bryan

Yes, yes, ALL the way yes, hook this match directly into my veins.

Since I first started watching NXT in late 2014, this is the match I’ve wanted to see. If you’ve ever read any of my wrestling-based posts before then you’ll know how much I adore Daniel Bryan as a competitor and I feel a very similar way about NXT Sami Zayn. Now, admittedly, this isn’t NXT Sami Zayn, but I still think it’s going to be just as great, if not better. I was very much against Zayn winning the title from Strowman last month, but seeing the direction his character has gone in since winning it and how truly insufferable he’s become, I take it all back, this is brilliant.

There’s so many moving parts in this story too. I had no idea that Bryan vs Gulak would lead to them forming this student/mentor relationship, where the veteran Daniel Bryan is the student, but by God is it entertaining. Then there is the additional factor of Nakamura & Cesaro as “The Artist’s Collective” which is as good of a name as I suppose and we’ve got ourselves 5 of the greatest in-ring technicians of this generation involved in this match.

I’m also quite in the air about the winner. Zayn’s barely had a cup of coffee with the belt and given how amazing of a character he’s been, it’d be a shame for him to lose the title so soon. Then again, that’s also what I thought about Strowman’s run with the title and look what happened there. Not to mention Daniel Bryan with the Intercontinental Championship will inevitably lead to another run similar to Seth Rollins’ time with the title a couple of years ago where every match he has with it is amazing. I’ve also realised that Bryan winning the IC title is pretty much the only logical way to progress this story Bryan has going on with Gulak right now. So for all of those reasons, I’m picking Daniel Bryan to win this one.

Bayley(c) vs Sasha Banks vs Lacey Evans vs Tamina vs Naomi
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(Elimination Match)

I’ve not been a fan of how the Smackdown Women’s title has been treated so far this year. This match is just another mark that goes to show how bad of a job WWE has done of building the Smackdown women’s roster to a point where there’s a legitimate contender for Bayley come Wrestlemania; especially when she’s been tearing the house down as a character for well over 6 months now.

If this gets given a good amount of time (and with two nights, it bloody well better) I think this could be a lot of fun. Multi-wrestler matches are always able to keep up a much more frantic pace and the elimination stipulation adds for lots of story potential in order to keep everything ticking over nicely. Four out of five of these women are good-to-great wrestlers and I’m optimistic at what they could put together here given the opportunity.

When looking towards the result, that’s a little more tricky. I think there are two competitors with a pretty good chance and one more with an outside chance, those women being Bayley, Sasha Banks and Naomi respectively. Bayley vs Sasha is something we’ve all been begging to see for literally years, but since her big return last September, Sasha’s got no major wins at all. So here’s how I think the final three will go down:
– We’ll be left with Bayley, Sasha and Naomi
– Bayley & Sasha will try to double team Naomi, but she’ll break through it
– Some sort of situation will happen where Naomi lays Sasha out, but Bayley immediately shit-cans her out of the ring, leaving Bayley and an unconscious Sasha in the ring
– At which point, Bayley will pin Sasha to eliminate her, going on to use some sort of underhanded tactic to defeat Naomi too.

I’m picking Bayley to retain for a couple of reasons. One, because I think she’s doing fantastic as champion and I don’t want to see it end. Two, I’m predicting a lot of title changes on this show, especially with the major men’s and women’s titles and this is the only one I can see not changing hands. Finally, if a Sasha face turn is where this is leading, then I think it makes more sense for Sasha to be chasing the belt for the next couple of months instead of Bayley and Bayley deliberately eliminating Sasha from this match will give her some legitimate beef to build off of.

Rhea Ripley(c) vs Charlotte Flair
(NXT Women’s Championship)

When Charlotte Flair won the Royal Rumble, I (and I think many others) was a little worried that we were going to end up with Charlotte vs Bayley, a match we’ve seen plenty of times by now and don’t need to see again. However, rather uncharacteristically, when faced with two bad options, WWE managed to pick a third option that was better in literally every way and now Rhea Ripley gets to be the absolute star she deserves to be.

As much as I ragged on WWE for mishandling the Smackdown women’s division, the NXT & Raw women’s division have both been on fire for a long time now and that goes double for NXT. Over Survivor Series weekend, Ripley went from a fairly popular babyface to the single most over wrestler on the NXT roster and her title win against Baszler last December is easily one of my favourite WWE moments from last year.

I don’t think Ripley could’ve got a better opponent than Charlotte either. Not only is Charlotte a masterful technical wrestler, but her character and attitude are the polar opposite to everything Rhea Ripley is known for. It creates this perfect underdog story where the rough-around-the-edges personality of Ripley is attempting to prove that she’s on the level of arguably the most successful female wrestler of all time.

I’m picking Rhea Ripley to win here because she just HAS to. Not only is she still incredibly over with the NXT fanbase, but she’s riding such a strong wave of momentum that losing to Charlotte could be catastrophic to her career trajectory. On top of that, how weird would it be if Charlotte was NXT Women’s Champion? I know we’re supposed to see NXT as an equal third brand now, but I just can’t picture Charlotte holding that title and going up against wrestlers like Dakota Kai, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai on a monthly basis, as brilliant as that would probably be.

John Cena vs The Fiend Bray Wyatt
(Firefly Fun House Match)

Well, not a bad consolation prize for Wyatt, admittedly.

In a twist that I don’t think many saw coming, this feud has weirdly benefitted from the lack of a crowd these past few weeks. Wyatt’s always had a much more sinister delivery style, but the total silence of the room he’s in adds so much to that feeling that it genuinely felt extremely creepy. Cena’s done a brilliant job – like he always does – of building up the hype for this match too. He’s playing more into Wyatt’s promo style and presenting himself as a slightly edgier version of himself than normal too. The verbiage Cena’s been using recently as he runs down Wyatt is a little bit of pulling back the curtain, but I think it works for the story that they’re trying to tell.

I honestly don’t know what this match is going to be like, but I feel confident in saying that it’ll be a good one. Wyatt’s brought something unique to the ring every time he’s wrestled as The Fiend and Cena hasn’t put on a bad match since about 2015, so I’m confident they can pull this one-off.

The Fiend Bray Wyatt has to win here. I know I stressed that it was vital for Ripley to win, but I’d argue Wyatt getting the win over Cena is even more important. After being made to look like a total chump against Goldberg at Super ShowDown, The Fiend is on the cusp of going the way of every other unique wrestling character from the past decade. That is to say, absolutely nowhere for the rest of time. If Wyatt loses to Cena, then it’s over, not just for The Fiend but for Wyatt as a whole in the WWE, there’s simply nowhere else for him to go. HOWEVER, a win over Cena will be the perfect way for The Fiend to regain his credibility and it might just be enough for WWE to pull out of this nosedive they’ve taken the character on since February. So this one really needs to happen.

The Undertaker vs AJ Styles
(Boneyard Match)

I’m looking forward to this one, but I’m also a little bit wary of it.

When The Undertaker wrestles a match these days, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s going to be a total shitshow (see Taker vs Goldberg) or surprisingly great (see Taker & Roman vs Drew & Shane) but this is AJ Styles we’re talking about and he can carry just about anyone to a 4-star match. I mean come on, if he can carry Shane McMahon to a surprisingly great Wrestlemania match, he can do the same with The Undertaker, no problem. That said, the idea of a “Boneyard Match” seems a bit weird and one of those situations that’s only happening because of the circumstances. I remain optimistic that it’ll be something unique and interesting, but I’m mostly expecting it to be reminiscent of the House of Horrors; a nice little oddity, but not all that good.

The story for this one’s been a little bit weird as it’s mostly just consisted of Undertaker repeatedly laying AJ out and many people have been criticising this for making people not care about the match, but I wholly disagree, all I ever needed to be fully invested in this match was the sentence: “The Undertaker versus AJ Styles.”

I’d love to say AJ will get the win here, but there’s simply no way that’s happening. There’s no way AJ is going to be getting another world title reign anytime soon and let’s be honest, that’s the only other place to go after you beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker is going to walk away with the win here following what was hopefully a really good 20-minute match.

Edge vs Randy Orton
(Last Man Standing)

Another match taking place on-location and I don’t exactly see how this one is going to work. Are they just going to have a ring in a different place from the PC? Or is this actually going to be taking place in someone’s backyard or something? At least with the Boneyard Match, I can picture the kind of atmosphere they’re going for, but this seems a little odd.

That said, it’s Edge’s big return match, so I’ve got very little to complain about. Just looking at that match graphic still fills me with excitement at Edge finally being able to return to the ring. As I didn’t become a wrestling fan until 2013, Edge was already retired by the time I start watching and it’s exciting to be a part of a brand-new match of his that actually stands a chance of being pretty good, unlike many other returning legend’s matches.

I know, it’s a weapons match, involving Randy Orton, which are usually my two biggest turn-offs when it comes to a big match, but there’s so much intensity between these two and such a brilliant story, that I honestly think this could be one hell of a match. Not to mention, since this is Edge’s big return match, I’d say odds are pretty good he’s going to go all-out to prove he’s still got it, which I’m sure he does. Edge is going to win this one because come on…how could he not?

Goldberg(c) vs Braun Strowman
(Universal Championship)

Welp, there goes everything I’d already written about this match.

Despite the question decisions leading up to it, I was actually quite looking forward to Goldberg vs Roman Reigns. I thought it had some real star power behind it and had an outside chance to be a really fun match, in a car-crash sort of way. However, circumstances change and Roman Reigns pulled out of the match due to health concerns(which is 100% a fair decision and people having a go at him for it are just being arseholes. The man had a leukaemia scare last year you heartless wankers).

So now, with about as much ceremony as you’d expect given the situation, Braun Strowman has been inserted in to fight Goldberg instead and…ok? Maybe if WWE were in a position to give us some build for this then I’d be more excited to see it, but as it stands, just seeing these two guys slapped next to each other and being told to fight doesn’t do anything for me. I could sit here and speculate over whether or not I think this will be a good match, but I don’t think much more effort will go into this than the usual Goldberg affair.

As for a winner, I guess it could be seen as up in the air a bit. Goldberg was very obviously supposed to lose the title here to Roman, so they might just go through with that, plus WWE love to “surprise” us with the last-minute replacement winning (although, since they do it almost every time, it’s not much of a surprise). There’s also the fact that I doubt Goldberg will actually be able to lift Strowman up for a Jackhammer, but they can work around that. Despite all that, I’m still going with Goldberg to retain. Once all this is over, Roman is winning that Universal title one way or another and we’ve already seen Roman vs Braun far too much for it to be exciting. There’s also the fact that WWE has shown zero evidence that it’s ever been willing to get behind Braun as a top guy (even though they should) they’ve had so many opportunities over the past three years and they’ve backed away from it every single time.

I certainly wouldn’t be upset if Braun won the title, but I’m still leaning towards Goldberg retaining at the right move here.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Shayna Baszler
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Ohhh, it’s so close I can almost taste it and it tasted wonderful.

This is easily the match I’m most excited in seeing on this show, mostly because of how long it’s been rumoured and how long we’ve had to wait to see if it was actually going to happen, but here we are and I’m hyped.

While many people have seen their interesting waning in Becky Lynch recently, I entirely disagree with that viewpoint. After dispatching of Asuka I think she’s taken a really interesting character turn of not taking any threat seriously and I love that. She’s spent a year on top of the Raw women’s division and has beaten literally everybody, why should she take this upstart seriously? If the match leans into this story as well, then I think we could be in for a brilliant story-heavy match, which tend to be the kinds of matches were Baszler really shines. Her heel-work is outstanding and in order for the audience to buy-in to her big time, she needs to let it flow in every way possible.

As you can probably tell from how much I’m gushing, I think this match is going to be great. Both of these women have already proven themselves time and time again to be two of the best women’s wrestlers on the planet – Shayna in NXT and Becky over the past 18 months on Raw & Smackdown – and seeing them clash like this is bound to be something special and is likely to launch the Raw women’s division into a new era.

As you’ve probably guessed, that “new era” entailed Shayna Baszler taking Becky down and walking away with her championship. Not only would a loss here be potentially devastating for Baszler’s career, knocking her down way too soon in the same way Asuka got knocked down at Wrestlemania 34, but also if Becky did retain, where would she go from here? There’s no-one left for her to fight, even if they did a shake-up, the only wrestler from Smackdown on her level that she hasn’t had a high-profile match with yet is Bayley and she’s tied up in a different storyline. We need fresh matchups and fresh faces at the top of the Raw women’s division to prevent it from stagnating this year and having Shayna at the helm will be the perfect way to do that. Not to mention it could lead to an Okada-Esque downward spiral for Becky that could make for a very interesting story.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Drew Mcintyre
(WWE Championship)

I honestly didn’t think we were ever going to see this. For the past year, I’ve felt like WWE were never going to get behind Drew like they should. He kept taking really major losses to guys like Ricochet and Dolph Ziggler when he really needed to be winning on a regular basis. Then suddenly, 2020 began and it’s like something totally switched in the minds of creative and they decided Drew needed to be the biggest badass the world has ever seen. Beating Orton & Styles in a triple threat match, eliminating Lesnar from the Royal Rumble and then winning the damn thing after Roman seemed the sure-fire winner and suddenly he’s the most legit title contender Brock’s had in years.

For the longest time, I’d believed Drew was at his best when he was a heel who could destroy just about anyone, but since he’s turned face I’ve been so much more into him as a character because aside from being a wonderful man in real life, he’s transformed into this tough-guy, good-guy that gets what he wants seemingly through sheer force of will and I’m totally behind him now.

I think this will be a great match too. When Brock’s enjoying working with someone, he will go all-out to put on a good match with them, just look at his matches with Styles, Bryan & Rollins for proof of that and from what I’ve seen between these two interacting on TV and what Drew’s been saying in interviews, it’s clear Brock is loving working with Drew. I’m expecting this to be a mega-hoss fight in the best possible way, we’re going to see these two men try to destroy each other in just about every way possible and I think it’s going to be amazing.

I’m always hesitant to pick against Brock, especially considering Vince can lose interest in his pet-projects at any moment, but I’m sticking to my guns and saying Drew Mcintyre is coming away with the title here. Everything about the build to this match just feels like it’s his moment and I really hope it comes to fruition. I don’t often get patriotic, but if this Wrestlemania gives us the first-ever UK-born WWE Champion, it will have a place in my heart forever.

So there you have it! Those are my predictions for the hot-mess that will likely be Wrestlemania 36! Let me know what you think is going to happen, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. As this event is running over two nights, I’m going to wait until Monday and review both nights as a whole, ranking every match across both nights in one big article. So I hope to see you there!

WWE Super ShowDown 2020: Every Match Ranked

Another Saudi Arabia show is in the bag and…do you know what? I actually thought it was ok. Not great, not by a long way, but I don’t think there was anything particularly bad on the show and overall it was certainly no worse than any other B-show WWE PPV these days. The matches were still plagued with the standard problems that come with having to fly for 14 hours, spend two days running the media circuit and then wrestle in 100 degrees Farenhieght.

Let’s get to breaking down the matches.

9 – Goldberg def. The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c)
(Universal Championship)

Fine, whatever.

8 – Brock Lesnar(c) def. Ricochet
(WWE Championship)

Yup, thought so.

7 – Roman Reigns def. King Corbin
(Steel Cage)

It’s over! It’s finally over! Assuming Michael Cole didn’t lie to us about that…alright so maybe it’s not over.

Probably unsurprisingly, this match didn’t have anything interesting going on with it. What little in-ring chemistry Reigns & Corbin had has since been played out beyond the point of it being entertaining and the addition of the Steel Cage into the mix didn’t help the match quality at all. All it did was mean that every minute or so the action had to stop so one man could very slowly climb the cage only to be thwarted by the other.

Even though these two will technically be facing each other in the Elimination Chamber next Sunday, I’m just glad that we’re finally at a point where we can say we’re done with this feud. If Reigns vs Goldberg really is the plan then I actually think there could be some good stuff there, even if I would’ve preferred Reigns vs The Fiend and quite honestly, I couldn’t give less of a shit about who Corbin fights next.

6 – Mansoor def. Dolph Ziggler

Now we enter the “just fine” portion of the show, where the matches are enjoyable, but nothing noteworthy.

As far as opponents for Mansoor goes, I think Ziggler was a pretty good choice, admittedly, Dolph Ziggler as a heel seems to think that “slow the pace down and only do headlocks for offence” is the only possible way he can do it, which isn’t ideal, but Mansoor spent a pretty good portion of the match on offence and the match didn’t feel too slow.

In terms of Mansoor winning, that’s great, but like I say every time he does one of these shows, there’s no point in doing any of this or giving him these wins if you’re not going to feature him on other shows and try to build him into an actual star. I know that with this show WWE proved to us all that they just don’t want any new stars and would rather have the ones from yesteryear, but if you’re going to treat Mansoor like this big heroic wrestler, then us see him wrestle more than twice a year.

5 – Angel Garza def. Humberto Carrillo

Another match that was just fine.

I thought this match was enjoyable, it held my attention the entire way through and showed off a lot of what these guys have to offer, however, they’ve had better matches together before and they will almost certainly have better matches together in the coming weeks too.

My main problem with this whole feud comes with it’s proximity to Wrestlemania because unfortunately, it’s not a big enough match to get a one-on-one blowoff on that show, so it’ll probably end with one of them eliminating the other in the ARMBAR. I like both Garza & Carrillo, but there’s only a limited amount I feel ok with investing in both of these guys because time and time again, WWE will spend a couple of months building guys like this up, only to suddenly drop them with no explanation. I hope that doesn’t happen here, but I’m remaining cautious.

4 – Bayley(c) def. Naomi
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Wow, Naomi’s entrance looks like crap when she’s not allowed to wear any of the glowing stuff.

Much like many other matches on this list, it was better than I was expecting in the circumstances. I’m sure the two of them could put on a much better match if they weren’t so restricted, but I think they did a good job with the hand they were dealt. The action the match followed was still a fair basic formula, but I thought it was an enjoyable incarnation of that formula, Bayley is really finding what heel style works best for her and she was able to ground and slow the action without resulting to five minutes of boring rest-holds.

Naomi’s comebacks were kind of exciting but again, she didn’t seem to be able to do a lot of her more crowd popping moves (speaking of the crowd, they were dead silent for this one). Even though Bayley won clean, there is the element of a dirty finish in there with Bayley using Naomi’s government-mandated shirt to trap her legs, so there’s room for Naomi to claim a rematch if that’s the route they want to go down, which at this point, I think it probably is.

3 – The Undertaker won the Turwaiq Trophy Gauntlet Match

Well, the in-ring action wasn’t anything interesting, but the storytelling was pretty compelling.

To be entirely honest, when I saw R-Truth starting off against Bobby Lashley, I thought we were in for 3 or 4 matches of Lashley running through people until Mysterio came out, but the way they turned it around and had R-Truth picking up a bunch of surprising victories over some fairly imposing heels was a lot of fun. Going through the 24/7 Championship stuff over the past year has led us all the slightly forget that Truth is actually a very capable wrestler when he wants to be and I found myself rooting for him with each victory in this match.

Then there’s the stuff with The Undertaker, which to be entirely honest with you, I thought was goofy and cheesy, but absolutely brilliant. The way the scene was set up with The OC beating down on Rey Mysterio only for that to suddenly be turned around to the OC getting beaten up. I particularly loved the way those black boots & coat stepped into frame, it was a nice variation on revealing The Undertaker outside of the usual gong hitting. It built this hype towards the entrance because we all knew it was The Undertaker, but first, they wanted to make us really want to see The Undertaker.

I doubt we’ll ever see the trophy again and it’s certainly not going to be mentioned in The Undertaker’s eventual Hall of Fame induction, but the story told throughout the phases of this match was well-done and quite enjoyable.

2 – The Miz & John Morrison def. The New Day(c)
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

Don’t worry everyone, the tag teams will save the day with good matches!

This is the first time since his return that I’ve actually been glad that he’s back. The stuff he’s been doing in the build to this has been fun and all, but this is the first time that I’ve been able to see the value in him returning as an active competitor in the company. It’s no secret that for the majority of 2018, The Miz was floundering as a face and once his short feud with Bray Wyatt was over, it was entirely possible that he was going to go right back to that formula, happily, his reuniting with Morrison has made The Miz as a face and interesting character again and I’m very glad they’ve won the titles.

Once again, this match was slightly slower than it probably would’ve been under normal circumstances, but I still thought it was a very enjoyable watch. Big E felt like the MVP of the match to me as he seemed to be able to keep the pace going just enough throughout the moments where it seemed like the action was dropping. Although the chair shot was a little “blink and you miss it” it’s entirely in-keeping with Miz & Morrison as characters and gives The New Day plenty of reason to get back on their feet and keep this feud rolling into Wrestlemania, where hopefully, they’ll get a chance to tear the house down.

1 – Seth Rollins & Murphy(c) def. The Street Profits
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

I really don’t understand why people seem to be down on Rollins & Murphy as tag champs, it seems to me like they’re exactly what the Raw tag division needed to become interesting again.

As I mentioned in my predictions, Rollins has slid so naturally back into a heel role and this new Farcry 5 esque spin on his heel persona has been such great fun to watch in recent weeks. Thankfully, this also extends to the matches, where I think all four guys involved got a chance to feature themselves and keep the fun rolling the whole way through the match. Rollins seems to be learning his lessons from his last heel run and is able to make himself look beatable in the ring, without looking like a total chump. This extends to Murphy too, who I’m very glad is still being treated like a competent wrestler, rather than a bumbling sidekick.

Given how little build The Street Profits had for this match, I’m very glad they weren’t just cast aside like they were no threat to the champions at all and that Rollins & Murphy had to resort to slightly underhanded tactics to win the match. I’m not entirely confident that any of the credibility gained in this match will carry over for very long into the coming weeks and months, but for this moment at least, I think this match was nothing but beneficial to everyone involved AND it was a lot of fun to watch.

So there you have it! Those are my thoughts on WWE Super ShowDown, thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what your thoughts on the show are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back this way next Saturday as WWE give us little time to breathe, and I’ll be covering Elimination Chamber!

WWE Summerslam 2019: Predictions & Analysis

So, after a couple of months of spinning our wheels, this is the show we were spinning them for and well…I’m actually quite optimistic about this show. There are a couple of matches that I’m not particularly excited for, but for the most part, I think this is going to be an entertaining show.

Not only that, but I think the winner of a good number of these matches are up in the air a bit. Be it for good or bad reasons, WWE has managed to do a pretty good job of keeping us guessing when it comes to who’s going to be winning on Sunday. Still, let’s give it a go, here are my predictions for Summerslam 2019.

Drew Gulak(c) vs Oney Lorcan
(Cruiserweight Championship)

Match of the night incoming right here.

Drew has been absolutely fantastic as cruiserweight champion so far. Both of his PPV matches for the title this year so far have been show-stealers and his character work week to week is unparalleled. Then you’ve got a guy like Oney Lorcan, who is absolutely stellar in the ring but isn’t the most convincing of characters. He has an over the top-levels of intensity that I’ve never been able to buy from wrestlers, but like I said, he’s got a really great wrestling style that is also fairly unique compared to the rest of the cruiserweight division.

I’m struggling to pick a winner with this one though. I’ve felt for a long time now that Lorcan was going to end up with the Cruiserweight Championship at some point this year but I didn’t expect him to be in this position quite so soon. More importantly, Drew’s only just sunk his teeth into this title reign and it also feels like his story is something a bit more long term, so it doesn’t make a great deal of sense for him to lose the title just yet.

Ultimately guys like Mustafa Ali have proved that you can be a big star in the Cruiserweight division without ever winning the title and I could potentially see Oney Lorcan becoming one of those guys, so I’m going with Drew Gulak to retain here.

Goldberg vs Dolph Ziggler

Oh…Dolph didn’t go away after losing to Kofi? Alright then. Oh…he’s entering another feud with The Miz? Alright then. Oh…he’s actually facing Goldberg instead? Alright then.

I don’t really think there’s much to say about this match, losing out on Miz vs Ziggler isn’t much of a loss and it’ll hopefully be nice to see Goldberg looking a lot better than he did in June. Of course, like any Goldberg match, it needs to be short and sweet, with Ziggler bumping his ass off like he always does and Goldberg is most definitely going to win.

Finn Balor vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

I could sit here and complain about how shitty Balor’s been treated since Wrerstelmania, but instead, let’s talk about how awesome Bray Wyatt’s return has been so far.

The Firefly Funhouse stuff was a stroke of absolute genius. It let Wyatt really flex those creative muscles we all knew he had and it got the fans invested in a major way. Then since showing up in person, it’s been really well done, the way the lights and music came down before Wyatt attacked Balor made for a great atmosphere and the way the lights flicked around The Fiend’s face as he appeared was over the top and cheesy in just the right way. On top of that, the promo’s Bray’s been cutting from the funhouse talking about The Feind has made it so much more creepy and creates such an interesting dynamics between the two sides of Wyatt’s personality.

Personally, I’d like to see The Demon, although I doubt we will just yet as I think they might be saving it for the eventual rematch, but either way I think the match is going to be something special to watch and it’s such a great feeling to be excited about Bray Wyatt again for the first time in a long time.

Of course, Bray Wyatt is definitely winning this; I’d call it an absolute lock. Not only is this Wyatt’s much-hyped return match, but all of the rumours are pointing to Balor taking a couple of months off following Summerslam, so there’d be nothing to gain and everything to lose by Balor picking up a shock win.

Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon
(If Shane wins, Owens will quit WWE)

You know, Shane McMahon became a fulltime wrestler so gradually I didn’t even notice.

Honestly, this really feels like what Shane’s heel turn has been leading to ever since his original feud with Owens in 2017. We all shouted and bitched back then about how Shane was being a totally unreasonable arsehole despite being a face and we were expected to boo Owens. Now we’re two years down the line and the face/heel roles are finally the right way around. So far, Owens’ face turn has been pretty well this time around, but it’s important that they keep their foot on the accelerator over the next few months, otherwise, it will pretty quickly peter out.

I’m really not sure what this match will be like since Shane McMahon’s matches this over the past couple of years have been quite hit and miss, although this year specifically it’s been mostly hit. There’s a lot of heat behind this one too, given how everyone’s sick and tired of Shane eating up so much TV time and Owens has been a house on fire, but I could just as easily see it being a shocking squash.

Either way, I think it’s a given that Kevin Owens is going to win. If the quitting stipulation wasn’t there then I think it’d be a bit more up in the air, but when you consider that there’s no way Owens is leaving or taking time off for the foreseeable future AND he’s just starting this role as a face, it would be an incredibly stupid decision for Shane to beat him now.

Trish Stratus vs Charlotte Flair

Well, this was a nice surprise.

I know there’s a bit of trepidation towards this match and I can understand the argument that Charlotte doesn’t really have a lot to gain from beating Trish considering everything she’s already done. However, we’ve seen in recent years that Trish can still go so the match will most likely be a fun watch and considering the alternative was likely Charlotte inserting herself into ANOTHER big 4 title match, I’m quite happy with having this match instead.

As I touched on above, I think this will be a great match to watch. Trish’s small appearances in the women’s Royal Rumble have shown she’s still got the athleticism to do everything she used to and her match at Evolution showed that as long as she’s got the right opponent to help her out, then she can carry a longer match and Charlotte is absolutely the right opponent.

Of course, with any legend vs current star match, the result is pretty easy to pick, especially when the current star in question is one of the most heavily pushed women in WWE history. Charlotte Flair will come out on top in this one and we’ll likely get a sweet hug and show of respect after the match to top it all off nicely.

AJ Styles(c) vs Ricochet
(United States Championship)

I don’t think anyone’s going to complain about seeing these two wrestle again. Admittedly they’ve had quite a few matches together in recent months, but there are some combinations of wrestlers that you can just never get tired of, like Ricochet & Will Ospreay, or Ricochet & Adam Cole, or Ricochet & AJ Sty-you know I think there might be a common thread here.

Hopefully, this will pay off the wonky finish we got at Extreme Rules, although even if it doesn’t I’m sure this match will still be great as long as we don’t get the same finish again. I’ve sung the praises of Styles as a heel for a while now, but I’m not entirely convinced this run has brought anything new to the table yet. I suppose it’s a bit too early to judge, but I’m not sure a lengthy US Title reign is something that he’d benefit from, at least not as much as Ricochet.

As it stands, I’m struggling to pick a winner. Ricochet only lost his title thanks to heel shenanigans and it wouldn’t be a good look for him to be shut out of the scene after such a short reign. Then again, Styles is still fairly fresh off of a heel turn and a second clean loss to Ricochet might not be the best move. Ultimately, I think both men stand to suffer fairly equally from a loss so I’m going to look at the other side of the coin and judge who I think would benefit more from the win, which I think is Ricochet.

Bayley(c) vs Ember Moon
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

While I’m glad it’s not Charlotte Flair, what exactly has Ember Moon done (in kayfabe) to earn this title shot? She lost in pretty quick fashion to Sonya Deville not a month ago and yet she gets the title shot because Bayley said she fancied a fight with her? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we get to see this match, but it’s a little confusing.

The main problem I’ve had with Bayley’s title reign so far is that, apart from when she won it, she’s been a background character in all of her stories as champion so far. When she was fighting Alexa & Nikki the focus was almost entirely on those two and their friendship and aside from one promo the week of Stomping Grounds, it could’ve been anyone in the champion role and the story would’ve been exactly the same. This story with Ember so far is going a little way to resolving that problem, but I still don’t feel like Bayley as a character is getting a chance to shine through. I’m not sure who’s feet the blame should lay at for this (probably a little of all parties) but the fact still remains that Bayley just doesn’t feel like anyone special on TV right now.

With any luck, this match will have some good character moments in it (as well as having brilliant action) which will help out both women immensely but as much as I’d like to say otherwise, I can’t see Ember walking out of this one with the title. For one thing, creative has not invested nearly enough time or energy into her as a character or a wrestler to warrant a title win. On top of that, another Charlotte Flair title challenge seems just around the corner with a win over Trish Stratus coming like a freight train and at the end of the day, Bayley can recover from a loss to Charlotte a lot better than Ember ever could.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Natalya
(Raw Women’s Championship)
(Submission)

I’ll level with y’all, I really can’t stand Natalya as a wrestler.

All of her movements in the ring seem so clunky & unnatural and the way she talks makes her sound like a robot with the most threadbare understand of emotions and voice patterns. Then you consider the fact that the only reason she’s even got this title match in the first place is the fact that the show’s taking place in Canada AND pile on a stipulation that forces the match to focus heavily on smooth technical movements and you can imagine how unhappy I am about this.

I’m not going to instantly right it off though, Becky was able to get some half-decent matches out of the green as goose shit Lacey Evans after all, so she could do wonders with someone more experienced like Natalya, I’m just not optimistic about it is all.

Oh and Becky Lynch is going to win or I’m going to tear my hair out.

Kofi Kingston(c) vs Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)

Well, it’s 10 years later than we all wanted to see this, but it’s finally here.

I’m normally very much anti-Randy Orton, I think he’s quite a boring wrestlers and an even more boring champion, but in this instance, I’m totally down for this match. The story wrote itself and creatively executed it as well as we wanted them to, it’s been common knowledge for years that Orton killed Kofi’s initial push in 2009 so this match essentially brings Kofi’s entire WWE career up until this point full circle.

I’m not entirely sure about how good the match is actually going to be though, all of Kofi’s title defences have been ok, but not great and most of them were against opponents I enjoy watching, which as I mentioned before, Orton isn’t. That said, this match has the right kind of heat behind it and when Orton’s into a story he tends to put on some pretty good performances (just look at his match with AJ from Wrestlemania this year) so there is some hope.

Last month I said that Samoa Joe was the first opponent where it actually felt like Kofi might lose the title, but in hindsight that was a stupid thing to say and this is where Kofi’s title reign could realistically end. Orton’s always been a guy who could win the WWE Championship at any moment and with Smackdown’s move to FOX just around the corner WWE might want someone more widely recognised like Orton as champion. That said, this whole story has been about Orton holding Kofi down and saying he’s not ready, so I feel like WWE would be shooting themselves in the foot a bit if Orton wins. It’s a risky move, but I’m going to pick Kofi Kingston to retain this time.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Seth Rollins
(Universal Championship)

Talk about missing an open goal.

This seemed like such an easy story for WWE to write. NO-ONE wants Lesnar to be champion anymore and Seth Rollins is one of the best wrestlers in all of WWE right now, so surely it would be so easy to get the fans behind Seth right? Well apparently not, because damn near everyone is hoping he’ll lose on Sunday, despite the alternative being Brock Lesnar disappearing with the title for another 6 months.

I get what they were trying to do on Monday with having being beaten down again and cutting that downbeat promo, but it was far too late and all you have to do is listen to the crowd’s reaction to see how flat it fell. All that said, hopefully, this match will be really good. Lesnar’s matches with the smaller guys are always brilliant and Seth Rollins is able to work a David & Goliath story with the best of them. The main reservation I have that’s stopping me getting too excited for it is Seth’s kayfabe injury, it makes me wonder if they’re going to lean too heavily on it for the story of the match because 15 minutes of Seth selling his ribs before a sudden comeback will be really boring.

If you’d have asked me who was going to win this match the night after Extreme Rules I would’ve said Seth without even thinking about it. Since his 2 minute win over Lesnar at Wrestlemania, I was confident this was where we were headed and I’d always known Seth was going to win, but now it’s really hard to judge. WWE is “desperately” trying to make Rollins cool and that says to me that they’re going to continue to push him as the face of the company, which would imply he wins here, but it’s hard to bet against Brock Lesnar retaining.

I’m sticking to my guns and picking Seth Rollins to win here and hopefully going into the autumn Rollins can have a whole bunch of great matches like his match against Styles earlier in the year to remind us exactly why we all got behind him in the first place.

So there are my predictions! Thank you very much for reading, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Make sure you check back here over the weekend as I’ll be posting my reviews of both Summerslam and NXT Takeover!