WWE Backlash 2020: Every Match Ranked

In the annals of history, when we look back on the year that was 2020, Backlash will undoubtedly be proclaimed to be…a show, that happened.

I don’t know what else to say during this bit, I didn’t enjoy this show. There wasn’t any match that I particularly hated, but I only truly enjoyed one of them, and even that match I’ve got a healthy dose of complaints about. I don’t think it helps that we’ve had three major shows in less than a month, so I’m just quite fatigued when it comes to wrestling. Maybe I would’ve liked this show more if I’d seen it with greater distance from AEW & NXT’s shows, but as it stands, I’m just not interested in main-roster WWE right now.

Still, I watched the show, so I must review it, here are my rankings of the matches.

UNRANKED – The Street Profits & The Viking Raiders go on an adventure

I don’t usually cover this kind of stuff since it wasn’t actually a match. However, given that it was far and away, the best thing on the show…and was MAD…I feel like I have to.

Much like many of WWE’s other pre-taped ‘cinematic’ segments that have aired in recent months, there was far too much going on here to cover it all, but I thought it was a lot of fun. For context, I’ve hated the Raiders/Profits segments on Raw up until this point. I thought they fell onto the wrong side of goofy, made the Raw tag titles look like a joke and wasted some of the best talents currently on Raw. The thing is when you look at this segment, that is all still true, however, looking at it in a bubble, it was a well-written comedy segment that I enjoyed.

The weird flashbacks Ivar kept having, the bowling ball in the nuts, the telekinetic turkey leg…it was so stupid I couldn’t help but laugh and enjoy myself. It even told it’s own little story, where the violence between the two teams just kept escalating to the point where they realised there wasn’t even any point in them fighting anymore. Then they had one of their Japanese wrestlers show up with a bunch of ninjas…which I’ll admit, is a bit problematic, but they overplayed the stereotype so hard that it just about came across as satire.

Personally, I hope the payoff to all this is that they realise they all just really enjoy hanging out and playing games against each other. They never have a tag title match and just become friends who hang out and do stupid stuff.

7 – Asuka(c) vs Nia Jax ended in a Double Countout
(Raw Women’s Championship)

This means we get to see this match again…oh joy…

There was nothing to enjoy here. Asuka getting all over Nia as soon as the bell rung was a nice way to open things, but it quickly lost all momentum once Nia got on offence. I wish I could like Nia as a wrestler, I really do, but nothing she does excites me at all. It’s like someone took the worst parts of Big Show & Kane’s styles and rolled them into a single wrestler.

Unfortunately, Asuka didn’t play well off of Nia either. There was potential in the way that Asuka was constantly locking Nia into holds to try and find some chinks in the armour, but it didn’t last long enough or make enough of an impact to be compelling. As for the finish, I’d love to sit here and be outraged about it, but it’s not the first time WWE has done a finish like this, and it absolutely won’t be the last. All it really does is make me think of the other promotions and how they would handle a situation like this a lot better than WWE always seem to.

6 – Braun Strowman(c) def. The Miz & John Morrison
(Universal Championship)
(2 on 1 Handicap Match)

So, have you ever seen a handicap match before? Because if you have, then you’ve seen this match.

I really don’t have much to add to this, because it really was the most bog-standard, paint-by-numbers handicap match you’ve ever seen. Strowman started out looking strong and shrugging off both guys, then the heels used their numbers advantage to wear Strowman down for a bit. Then Strowman made a comeback and murdered them both, winning the match while barely breaking a sweat.

This whole feud has been so incredibly pointless. It’s horrible that this is the best the writers could come up with for Strowman’s first world title run. It’s not over yet, though, so I hope we can get something more interesting in the coming months.

5 – Apollo Crews(c) def. Andrade
(United States Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

Again, what is there to say? This was a pre-show match that was exactly how you’d expect a pre-show match to go.

It was ok, there was nothing terrible about it, but there wasn’t anything interesting either. On any other show, I’d have ranked this dead-last, but welcome to Backlash.

Owen’s involvement was a bit weird. I find it quite upsetting that Seth Rollins – who lost at Wrestlemania – got a world title shot, while Kevin Owens – who won at Wrestlemania – gets to be the least important person in a US title feud between Andrade & Apollo Crews. It incredibly strange booking, but if the end result is getting that title onto Owens so it can actually be treated like a big deal again, then I’m ok with it.

4 – Sheamus def. Jeff Hardy

Given that the Extreme Rules logo this year is in Jeff Hardy’s colours, I don’t this feud is over.

This was a decent match. It didn’t surpass my expectations, but I still came away from it feeling relatively satisfied by what I saw. I think the way they played the roles in the match was the right way to go about it, with Sheamus controlling the pace, for the most part, forcing Hardy having to play a more reactionary role. It suffered a bit purely because I’m not very interested in the story. Each to their own tastes, but watching a man throw his own pee in another man’s face isn’t exactly the kind of thing I find compelling.

I’m not surprised that Sheamus won; however, I am surprised that he won clean. I don’t know if they’re going to try to use this to make a point about Hardy’s condition, but if the feud is going to continue (which it really looks like it is), then I’m not sure Sheamus winning clean was the best way to serve that. The problem now is that, if Hardy continues to go after Sheamus, then it just looks like he’s a sore loser, while if Sheamus keeps ragging on Hardy, then it feels hollow because he’s already beaten him, there’s nothing left to prove.

We’ll just have to wait and see, but it was a bit of confusion decision.

3 – Bayley & Sasha Banks(c) def. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross & The IIconics
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

A fun match that ended way too soon.

Why is Kayla so determined to drive a wedge between Bayley & Sasha? Every time the two of them have a match, Kayla comes up to them and asks “Are you two gonna fight yet, or what?” Given that all the other teases that tensions between them have been so subtle, this one is a really odd thing to keep shoving in the audience’s face.

WWE finally decided they’re actually going to do a proper triple threat tag match this time, with one person from each team legal at once; none of this ‘only two legal competitors allowed’ nonsense they’ve been pushing for years. Low and behold, it made for a much better match. It never felt like this match was just ‘going through the motions’, there was always a point every action, and the pace remained consistently exciting throughout.

The only problem, as I mentioned in the opening sentence, it was way too short. Just as I felt like it was about to kick into that higher gear and get really fun, Sasha swooped in and got the win and, just like that, it was over. While I did enjoy what I’d seen up until that point, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get more.

2 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. Bobby Lashley
(WWE Championship)

Well, I’ll be damned, a match that surpassed my expectations. Admittedly, my expectations didn’t start very high, but they were still surpassed.

This was a good culmination of the new brutal attitude that Lashley has gained over the past month and actually did a damn-good job of making both guys look pretty strong. Lashley displayed his new killer-instinct by jumping Drew with the Full-Nelson before the bell, which started the whole thing off with a head full of steam. It did slow down a bit as the match progressed, but there was a decent little story being told of Drew fighting up from underneath and coming out of it looking fantastic.

What drags this match down is the dumb finish. I get that you might want to protect Lashley somewhat after this fresh heel-turn, but the last thing we needed to see here was Lana. She came out and started telling the referee that he cheated…which isn’t how ANYTHING works. Does Lana think the referee is a part of the match? Is that the story they’re trying to tell here? That Lana just doesn’t understand how wrestling works at all?

Hopefully Drew will move on to a new opponent now and he can be separated for the absolute clusterfuck that’s about to go down between Lashley, Lana & MVP.

1 – Randy Orton def. Edge

So…the general consensus online is that this was a fantastic match and has ‘match of the year’ potential and I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. I’ve watched this match twice now to see if there was something I missed the first time. Admittedly, I did like it better the second time, but I still don’t think it was anything special.

I have ranked it as the second-best match on the show, but honestly, that’s more of a statement on how lacklustre Backlash was than anything else. I liked parts of this match, but I have so many problems with it too.

The best bit was easily the opening 15-minutes or so (while we’re on the topic, 45 minutes was too damn long for this thing). There was a semblance of a story being told with Edge having a crisis of confidence and Randy wrestling circles around Edge. It even felt like it was building really nicely to something with how Edge started to make a bit of comeback and was finding his groove.

Then, around the middle of the match, the pace totally died. The two men moved into a bunch of holds that weren’t quite rest-holds but also weren’t overly impressive. I get what they were going for as they were vying for position and trying to get one over on each other, at first I even bought into it and was feeling the rhythm of it. Then it just went on…and on…and on, and by the time they finally started doing moves again, I’d lost interest.

Speaking of moves. Spamming a bunch of finishers isn’t entertaining wrestling, and that’s what the final 10 minutes of this match were (save for the roll-up spot). I know that in places like NJPW and AEW, there is a lot of finishers and a lot of kickouts, but there’s a distinct difference in the way that they do them. Compare the endless finisher kickouts in a match like this, to those in Okada vs Omega (any of them), and you’ll see what I mean. In NJPW, each finisher holds weight and substance, each one has had a mini-build to it within the match, there is a whole bunch of other exciting and impactful moves in between each one. It makes each kickout feel exciting. Then, look at Orton vs Edge, where they would do a big move, kickout of it, lay around selling for a minute and then they moved right on to the next big move.

One of those styles tells a compelling story that keeps the pace of the match ticking over. The other style is boring as piss, kills the pace of a match dead and does nothing to tell a story. Again, I understand what they were going for with them digging into their own personal history and pull out a bunch of those moves…but it wasn’t well-executed.

I understand that I’m alone in having a negative view of this match and I really tried to appreciate this match for what it was, but this just wasn’t me. It was a style of wrestling that I’ve never liked, and I wasn’t invested enough in the story going in to overlook it and enjoy it for what it was.

…and that was the best match that happened at Backlash.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, feel free to tell me all about my wrong opinions, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here next week, where I’ll be running down some of the best ever competitive Pokemon!

WWE Backlash 2020: Predictions & Analysis

It turns out, the wrestling world’s response to a pandemic was just to do even more wrestling! This is the third major show in only four weeks, and earlier this week, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced they’re going to start to run shows again. There’s just a hell of a lot going on right now. Still, I’m glad we can cap this madness off with what WWE had promised us will be The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever™. More on that later.

In reality, I see very little to get excited about on this show. The build to every match has been generic and boring across both shows. Being realistic, I only see one match here that has any real potential to be amazing…

Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus

…and this isn’t it.

Admittedly, I think if any match is going to surpass my expectations and turn out to be good, it’s this one, but my hopes aren’t very high.

The build to this one has been peculiar. It’s always uncomfortable when WWE plays off of a wrestler’s real-life issues with substance abuse, especially making light of Hardy’s constant relapses. The bit that annoyed most people was Hardy potentially driving under the influence and running Elias down with a car. Ironically, this is the only part I’m okay with because it’s so evident this is a frame-job. All of the witnesses said they just saw “someone wearing all-black” and the rental car papers just happened to be lying out in the open with Hardy’s name on them. To me, it’s incredibly obvious that someone knocked Hardy loopy and poured a bunch of alcohol on him to incriminate him.

What baffles me is why they haven’t been playing this up more. It’s a perfectly packaged whodunit story where half the Smackdown roster had some sort of motivation to do it. Speaking of, I don’t think it was Sheamus that did it. While it would be the most obvious person, it would seem like an odd choice to have this happen just a few weeks out from the match. Not much stands to be gained from it.

This whole situation plays into my prediction for the match. As I think Sheamus will win after the real culprit gets involved and costs Hardy the match. As to who that will be, probably either Corbin or Styles, but who knows? Maybe it’ll be someone weird and interesting. Maybe the Smackdown hacker will get involved, that’d be fun. I also think giving Sheamus the win is fine. It’s not like Hardy needs it, he’s at the point where he’s such a legendary name that no amount of losses will hurt him. Meanwhile, Sheamus has done nothing but lose since his big return at the start of the year, and I think he could really do with a win.

Apollo Crews(c) vs Andrade
(United States Championship)

Despite having a good-length reign with the US title, Andrade managed to do absolutely nothing with it during his time as champion.

This was in-part thanks to poorly timed short-term injuries and suspensions, but I can’t help but feel like even if those things hadn’t happened, the booking never would’ve come around to help him do anything of interest. He barely defended to defend the title at Wrestlemania, remember, even before he got injured. So instead Apollo Crews won the title on a random episode of Raw after losing to Andrade & Garza for a good month, or so…and WWE wonders why no-one gives a shit about their secondary titles anymore. Mind you, at least the United States Championship is being defended on Sunday…

Provided this match gets the time of day, I think we could be in for an unexpected treat. It’s been easy to forget given his booking for the past 3-4 years, but Apollo Crews is a great wrestler, and Andrade is more than capable of putting on exciting matches. My main worry is this match not going longer than 10 minutes. I shall choose to remain optimistic (I’ve got to be excited about SOMETHING about this show) but who knows?

As for a winner, it would seem ill-advised to start hot-shotting the title, thus decreasing interest in it even further. Admittedly, WWE is very close to the “every champion is a face champion” problem that I spoke about with AEW a few weeks ago, but if Apollo Crews doesn’t retain, then it would be a foolish decision.

Bayley & Sasha Banks(c) vs The IIconics vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

No HERE’S a match I can get excited thinking about. It’s a multi-team tag match featuring six of the best women’s wrestlers WWE has to offer right now, what’s not to love?

Between this match and the previous one, it seems like WWE has decided that doing a title change has now become a way to start a feud, instead of end it…which seems backwards. I’ve got no problem with Bayley & Banks winning the tag titles; I think they’ll be good for the belts’ credibility. That said, couldn’t they have saved the title change for the PPV, instead of switching the belts on Smackdown and making the PPV match supremely predictable?

May as well cut to the chase here, I think Bayley & Sasha Banks will retain their titles. The whole ‘dual champion’ thing is perfect for Bayley’s arrogant persona and having to divide her attention between defending both of her titles will be a good pitfall for her to fall into in the coming months. Hopefully, that fact will also help grow the tension between Bayley & Banks, so we can finally get that match we’ve been hoping for all year. I think The IIconics could pick the titles back up, but given how they were treated as a total afterthought last time they held the titles, I doubt it.

The match should be good, though. There’s plenty of opportunity for chaos and shenanigans that make for an enjoyable time.

Braun Strowman(c) vs The Miz & John Morrison
(Universal Championship)
(2 on 1 Handicap)

Oh…yay…more handicap matches for titles…who thinks they’re entertaining? Seriously, who?

I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about this match if I tried. The build to this has been ridiculous in the worst way possible. Miz & Morrison started with some decent promos, but since then they’ve just become nuisances, doing stupid things like…watching Braun on a monitor and giggling at him like they’re 14-year-old schoolgirls? If that doesn’t get you hype for a world title match then, I don’t know what will. It doesn’t help that Braun has been presented as the world’s most boring and generic champion ever, despite looking like he does. You would think Braun as champion would be the easiest thing to book in the world, but no, he’s just like everyone else. It’s almost like WWE never intended for Braun to win the title…

The match will likely be boring as well. Remember the Braun vs Artist’s Collective handicap match from earlier in the year? I imagine this match will more or less be a copy/paste of that. Miz & Morrison will try some sneaky stuff and beat Braun down early on until Braun eventually makes a comeback and destroys them both. Speaking of, Braun Strowman is going to win, because of course he is. There is absolutely no way either The Miz or John Morrison is going to win a world title, let alone on the most minor show of the whole year.

Asuka (c) vs Nia Jax
(Raw Women’s Championship)

The booking surrounding the Raw Women’s title this month has been bizarre. Despite being the NXT Women’s Champion, Charlotte has seemingly made a point of continuing to show up on Raw every week just to continually remind everyone that she’s better than everyone else on Raw. It sounds like it’s good heel work, but in reality, it’s undercut Asuka’s reign as champion.

Luckily, Asuka was able to avoid looking weak from just being handed the championship, since she did have to win Money in the Bank to get it, but I can’t help but feel like always being in Charlotte’s shadow and losing to her all the time can’t help. All I can say is that I hope this goes somewhere and they play up how Asuka can’t be beat Charlotte. At least then it’ll be a worthwhile story.

Now, you might’ve noticed that I’m on my third paragraph of this section and I’m yet to mention Nia Jax’s name. That’s because she’s been quite the non-factor in this feud. As I’ve said, WWE has done a better job building Asuka vs Charlotte than Asuka vs Jax. To put it bluntly, I’m not a fan of Nia. It’s got nothing to do with the injuries she may or may not have caused (depending on who you ask) I just don’t think she’s even remotely interesting as a performer. Plus, she can’t cut a promo to save her life.

Will she win here? Maybe. The logic dictates that Asuka should win. This is her first major title defence, she got the nod from Becky Lynch, who has dominated the Raw women’s division for the past year and everyone seems to love her. On the other hand, given that it’s unlikely WWE ever actually intended to make Asuka champion before Becky announced her pregnancy, I think they might just want to take the title off of her. I honestly think that having Nia take the title from Becky might’ve been the original plan anyway. It just fits with how they’ve built Nia up as a total monster since she’s returned. I think Becky probably would’ve got the title back from Nia eventually, but Nia winning it in a shock victory sounds like something WWE would do.

I’ve gone back and forth on this a bunch now, and in the end, I’m settling with Asuka, mainly because I think they’ll want to pull the trigger on the Charlotte vs Asuka rematch over the bulk of the summer. Although this is undoubtedly the pick that I’m the least confident about.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Bobby Lashley
(WWE Championship)

Again, I feel like this past month has done a better job of building Drew vs MVP than Drew vs Lashley.

To be fair, MVP has been absolutely killing it with his work building this match. It’s put Drew in a position where he doesn’t have to do much talking. He just has to react to what MVP is saying, and it works. Drew is a great talker anyway, but merely coming in with the odd counterpoint where he threatens violence has made him seem like quite the formidable champion. I’m not the biggest fan of him getting beaten down every week, but he keeps coming back with more and more fire, and it’s a good look for the top guy in the company.

That said, I’m not overly excited about the match. I’ve never bought into Lashley as a wrestler. He’s had a couple of good matches since his return, but nothing that surprised me or blew me away with how good it was. However, maybe Sunday will be the night. I can’t deny that Lashley has seemingly found a new lease of life since pairing with MVP and a big ‘clash of titans’ so to speak might be the perfect match for him to flourish.

While I’m confident that Drew McIntyre is going to retain the title, I’ll admit I think there’s a minuscule chance they could switch it to Lashley. I think it would be a terrible idea, and I hope they don’t do it, but I have this weird feeling in my gut that they might. I’m sticking with Drew because it’s the correct choice, but until the referee’s hand hits three, that tiny little worry is going to sit in the back of my mind.

Edge vs Randy Orton

Fuck this.

Honestly, I just don’t care. I hated their Wrestlemania match, and I don’t see how this is going to be any different. The fact that they’re billing it as ‘The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ is utterly ridiculous and turns me off to the match more than it does make me want to watch it. Seriously, who is going to see the marketing for this show and think to themselves: “Oh, well I wasn’t going to buy this unimportant, B-show Pay-Per-View, but if they’ve said this match is going to be the greatest ever…how can I refuse?” Do WWE think that low of their audience. Even Edge thought it was a joke when he first heard about it.

More importantly, there are so many better things Edge could be doing right now. I understand why Orton was chosen for his return. They have loads of history, Orton’s a safe worker, and I imagine the two of them are good friends in real life. Why do another one, though? The storyline justification Orton gave for it is flat-out dumb. They may as well have come out and said: “We think we can milk this feud for a little longer”.

Edge is going to win. Purely because if Orton wins, that means we have to do a tie-break and I just don’t want that to happen. I want Edge to be wrestling with the young guys, all of whom could put on fantastic matches with him. Not to mention, where has it even got to go following this? They’ve already done the hardcore match, and now they’re doing a standard match. Hell in a Cell? Three Stages of Hell? I sure as shit don’t want to see either of them. There is just no reason for Orton to win and I can only hope that Edge goes on to better things following this match.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. What do you think will happen on Sunday? Please, let me know what you think either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time on Monday, where I’ll be reviewing the show by ranking every match!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Every Match Ranked

The final PPV before Wrestlemania (I fucking hope) is finally in the books and…yeah, it was alright, I guess. It pretty much exactly met my expectations, most of the matches that I thought would be good were good and the ones that I thought would be boring were boring and in the end, I think the show came out at about 50/50 in terms of quality and ultimately, I don’t think it was a necessary stop on the way to Wrestlemania.

Let’s look at the matches then.

8 – The Viking Raiders def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
(Kickoff Show)

Remember every pre-show tag team match from the past two years? Yeah, this was one of those only slightly shorter.

It honestly blows my mind who in WWE took a look at the Viking Raiders and thought “yeah, let’s have Hawkins & Ryder get in loads of offence against them”, so what if they’re former Raw Tag Champions? I bet most people didn’t even remember that was a thing until I just said it right then. I don’t want to be that guy who sits around and moans about how Raw & Smackdown “bury” NXT talent, but I think the sheer lack of interest whoever’s running Raw is showing the Viking Raiders is an absolutely huge waste.

Yes, I know, they won the match, but this should’ve been a 2-minute squash at best, but whatever, not like anyone’s going to remember or care about it by the time Raw airs.

7 – Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro def. Braun Strowman(c)
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh…well ok then.

I don’t quite know how to feel about this if I’m honest. I mean, the match was an absolute bore, hence why it’s placed this low but in terms of the result, I can see both sides. On the one hand, it’s a disaster for Strowman, not just the result, but how he looked throughout the match too. This is a man we’ve seen get up from just about anything, he spent months getting beaten down by Roman Reigns and continuously getting back up, for God’s sake, this is the guy who was in the back of an ambulance as it crashed, at speed, into a wall and WALKED AWAY, but apparently, Nakamura stomping him in the corner 2 minutes into the match is enough to keep him down.

I mentioned in my predictions that any result other than Strowman winning would be a massive anti-climax and to a certain extent, I stand by that. The whole match felt so desperately like it was building to Strowman coming back and wiping the floor with all three of them, but that never came to pass. Instead, they did that weird-ass looking suplex/kick to the head that honestly looks so weak and Sami Zayn won the Intercontinental Championship.

Now…

Sami Zayn winning the Intercontinental Championship is a good thing, of course it is. Zayn’s been so undervalued for so long and to see him finally win a title is brilliant. However. I think Strowman retaining would’ve been a better option, especially if the result of this is just going to be Strowman squashing Zayn at Mania, which it probably will be. Maybe I’m wrong and if this turns into a really entertaining heel reign as champion then I’ll hold my hands up and admit it, but I’m not optimistic.

6 – Aleister Black def. AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

It pains me to do this, it really does, but this match sucked.

While I understand the no DQ stipulation was necessary to tell the story they wanted to tell, but it totally screwed the match in terms of quality. I know that these two could put on a fever-pitched classic if they were given the opportunity, but instead, this started slow and got slower as it went on. It wasn’t all boring, I did enjoy the focus on the leg because it makes perfect sense when fighting a guy like Black and it led to a rather tense spot as Styles locked in the Calf Crusher.

This match certainly wasn’t helped by a completely dead crowd. I understand why though. They’d just watched a rather tiring Chamber match and they were waiting for The Undertaker to show up, but it definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the match and likely contributed to the slow pace. Speaking of The Undertaker, although his appearance was predictable, it was still exciting and was absolutely the right move for both the story and the general context of both guy’s strength on the current roster.

While I would’ve liked Black to win without any assists, it wasn’t feasible when Styles had to be kept strong for The Undertaker. I’d rather they hadn’t booked this match at all, but since they did, I think this was the best way to get out of it. Doesn’t make it interesting to watch though.

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

I’ll be honest, I was quite disappointed with how this one turned out.

After their entertaining showing at Super ShowDown, I was expecting this match to build off of that and put on a really fun tag match, but instead, I don’t think it ever quite got going. Things were nice and fast out of the gate and I thought that everyone involved here had a strong sense of character and it made all of the story beats – including Viking Raiders showing up to deal with AOP – quite entertaining and I continue to become more and more involved in this story as a whole.

After Rollins & Murphy took control towards the middle, I thought we were building to somewhat of an explosive final 5 minutes once Ford got the hot-tag, but it just didn’t happen. There were hints of it in there, but I didn’t find any of the action all the engaging and then Kevin Owens showed up (with some top-notch acting to be fair) and the whole match just sort of stopped to focus on that instead. The finish that came immediately after it felt quite sudden too and I was left feeling quite deflated by the end of it all.

4 – Shayna Baszler def. Sarah Logan & Ruby Riott & Natalya & Liv Morgan & Asuka
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)

Ok, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, they didn’t fuck it up.

Probably the only thing on this show to actually matter, this match did everything we wanted it to do for Shayna Baszler. She wiped the floor with absolutely everyone and looked like a monster in the process, a lot of the offence she got in looked absolutely brutal and I’m not entirely sure Liv Morgan is ever going to be able to walk again after Baszler damn near caved her head in at certain points.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most entertaining match to watch. Riott & Natalya started off well enough, but everything they were doing is stuff we’ve seen in Elimination Chamber matches seemingly hundreds of times before and I can’t say I was all that engaged by it. Then, once Baszler got in and had dispatched of everyone, we just had to watch her shouting at the people in the pod for what felt like forever and I just lost interest. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotta have a bit of that to help Baszler look great, but it dragged on for way too long and it’s not like anyone would care if the clock ran down a little faster. I was hoping we’d get a little bit more between Baszler & Asuka at the end, but I’m ok with it going shorter than it could’ve because you don’t want to give that away right now when it could be a big match later down the line.

Although I have my complaints, I’m happy with how this all turned out. It’s a rare case with WWE, where I’m fine with forgiving something not quite as good right now because I’m confident it’s going to lead to something really great in a month or so.

3 – Andrade(c) def. Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

You know, it’s only just dawned on me exactly how long this feud has been going on. No wonder they’re putting on matches like this after so much time together.

After many months of not quite understanding who Carrillo is, the stuff with Garza has helped Carrillo grow a bit of an edge to him as a character and I think it’s helped his in-ring style too. He felt a lot more hard-hitting here and I’m finally getting behind him more as a character than I have been in previous encounters.

This lead to what I thought was quite an entertaining match. It started out fast and furious and it really got the crowd involved for the length of the match. Things slowed in the middle but I think it kept the action fresh for when things eventually began to accelerate again. The finish was a little weird, but I do have a soft spot for spots with constant roll-ups and it’s a rare treat that one of them actually gets the win. I perhaps would’ve preferred a clean finish, but this gives Carrillo a decent enough excuse to get himself in on whatever multi-man affair happens around Mania, so I think it’s fair enough.

2 – The Miz & John Morrison(c) def. Lucha House Party & Heavy Machinery & Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode & The New Day & The Usos
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

Once again, this was about as good as I was expecting it to be, which is pretty nice.

Usos vs New Day was easily the best choice to start things out and it kept the action going for long enough until the ring started to fill up. Each subsequent team that entered each added something new to the action, I was surprised that Lucha House Party looked as good as they did and once Miz & Morrison got involved, it added a lot of great heel work into the action. Heavy Machinery are also on an absolute tear right now. I’m still not entirely behind them as characters, but as wrestlers, I totally get it now.

There were downsides though. For one thing, I don’t think there was enough good use of the time between entrants. There seemed to be a big spot when a team first enters and just before the next team enters, but a lot of the time in between was spent milling around or with some rather boring action, it would’ve been nice to see some actual interesting wrestling while waiting for more entrants.

When I say “interesting wrestling” I don’t mean more dives off the top of the pod because, by my count, there were five of these in this match (six if you count Ziggler being thrown off by Tucker) and it’s just not an impactful spot anymore. Speaking of, Dorado’s Moonsault from the top of the chamber looked cool, although the setup was a bit weird as all of the wrestlers were watching him climb around and we all just had to pretend not to notice until he was in position.

Once things got down to the final three business really picked up and I had a lot of fun watching the action. Miz & Morrison did exactly what they needed to do, picking their spots to get the eliminations at the perfect moments and the final battle between them and The Usos was a magnificent little sequence that whetted my appetite for more of it in the weeks and months to come.

Overall, it won’t go down as one of the best chamber matches ever, but for what it was I really enjoyed it, especially towards the end when the pace accelerated exponentially until the finish.

1 – Daniel Bryan def. Drew Gualk

Oh, so we’re treating Gulak like a real wrestler now? Took you long enough.

This was such an interesting match to watch because it’s not the kind of style we see very often in WWE anymore. This mat-based style of wrestling walks such a fine line between being tense & interesting and slow & boring, luckily, this landed on the better side of that line. It was never a match that was never going to pop a modern American crowd, but I still think it did wonders for Gulak’s credibility.

I really got into the story being told here and I just loved how Gulak seemed to have just about everything in Bryan’s arsenal scouted. It gives the impression of him being the thinking man’s heel, winning matches through actually being smart, rather than cheating. Bryan filled his role here perfectly too, being surprised by Gulak’s competence early on but slowly feeling him out and adapting to his style, eventually getting to the point where Bryan could also counter whatever Gulak was throwing his way.

The finish was brilliant too because it didn’t make Gulak look weak, despite the fact he tapped. The way Bryan so smoothly slipped into the LeBelle lock gives me in the impression that Bryan learnt Gulak’s game and adapted, while Gulak stuck to his gameplan and couldn’t quite out-think Bryan once he started innovating. I’m not sure where this will lead, but I just hope it’s somewhere, I think WWE have stumbled upon a really interesting story here and they shouldn’t let it slip through their fingers.

And there you have it! Those are my thoughts on Elimination Chamber 2020. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and please let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Saturday where I’ll be running down my favourite Virtual Reality games!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Predictions & Analysis

No rest for the wicked and this is WWE so…

Once again, the Saudi Arabia shows have a weird knock-on effect, because despite the fact that this happens EVERY TIME and we end up building to two PPVs right next to one another, WWE never learn their lesson and schedule their shows just a little bit further apart for once, do they?

As it stands, this is looking up to be a pretty inconsequential show. The only match that promises to have a direct effect on the Wrestlemania card is arguably the easiest to predict on the whole show and everything else is just wheel spinning. At the very least, I’m confident that at least a few of the matches will be good ones to watch, so at least it might not be a total waste of time.

Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gualk

Well, if it gets Gulak on Pay-Per-View, I suppose I can’t argue.

I’m not entirely certain what the point of this story is. Are we finally trying to get Gulak over as a serious competitor, or are we just reminding everyone that Daniel Bryan exists ahead of Wrestlemania? I know Bryan has reportedly been pushing for some of the guys lower down the totem pole to get some feature matches, so is this a part of that?

Regardless of the motivation behind it, the match should be brilliant, even if it only lasts 10 minutes or so. I stand firm in the belief that Gulak is the best technical wrestler WWE’s revived Cruiserweight division ever saw and I’ve made my feelings about Daniel Bryan very clear of the years, so these two technical masters meeting in the ring should be a real treat.

Given that it’s a fresh storyline, there’s a chance that some shenanigans will happen here in order to set something up for Wrestlemania, but I’m leaning more towards this being a stop-gap for something bigger that WWE has in store for Bryan, maybe an Intercontinental title match? Please? Either way, I’m pretty confident that Daniel Bryan is going to come away with the win on this one.

Aleister Black vs AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

This is a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore both of these wrestlers and I’m sure that given the chance they could put on a match of the year contender, but this is just such a bad time to have them clash like this and I really don’t see a positive outcome here. Styles has a match with The Undertaker on the horizon and needs to look good, but Black has barely had room to breathe on Raw and a loss here could totally destroy his credibility and start a long descent into Cedric Alexander territory.

I’m not even sure they’ll be given all that much of an opportunity to show their stuff in this match either. The no DQ stipulation likely means Black will be fighting off Gallows & Anderson the whole time and the match will be generally much slower than it needs to be in order to play to the strengths of these two.

For a winner, I’m picking Aleister Black, but it’s not going to be clean. I think the most likely scenario is that The Undertaker gets involved somehow, maybe physically, but it’s more likely that towards the end of the match, a gong will go off, which will distract Styles and let Black get the win. This whole thing isn’t an ideal scenario, but I think that’s the circumstance that lets both men get away with as little damage to their credibility as possible.

Andrade(c) vs Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

Want a United States title opportunity? It’s easy! Just lose a match on Pay-Per-View and it’s yours!

I like Humberto Carrillo, I honestly do, but I really think it’d be a mistake to have him win the title here. Not only has Carrillo already lost to Andrade at Royal Rumble, but he also lost just over a week ago to Angel Garza, a wrestler who is much more deserving of this opportunity at the present time.

Hopefully, the match will be pretty good as long as it doesn’t get dumped on the pre-show. These two have proved before that they can work extremely well together and I have every faith in them that they’ll make the most of whatever time they get to put on a compelling contest. I’m not too sure on the winner, but Andrade retaining feels right to me, especially going into Wrestlemania, where I think it’s likely we’ll have some sort of multi-man affair, hopefully in ladder form.

The Street Profits(c) vs Seth Rollins & Murphy
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Oh…I’ll be honest, I thought the Rollins & Murphy thing was going somewhere.

WWE have really done their job of compressing this feud into basically no time at all. I thought it was likely that we’d see this match again on this show, but I certainly didn’t expect The Street Profits to be walking in as champions. It’s nice that they’ve won the titles, but I’m not entirely sure it was the right move for the story, especially if they’re just going to drop the titles right back again.

As much as I think The Street Profits are great, the story and the momentum is with Rollins & Murphy right now. I know that he’s likely going to finally get his big singles match with Owens going into Wrestlemania, but I thought it would’ve been cool with Rollins & Murphy still had the titles during that time.

If Rollins weren’t about to be fighting Owens, then I’d pick him & Murphy to win, however, I think The Street Profits are going to slip away with the titles in this one. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the belts and I have a horrible feeling that the titles are going to return to their status as the least important belts in the entire company, but at least this match will probably be a good one.

Braun Strowman(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn & Cesaro
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh boy, time to make three of the best wrestlers on the planet look totally worthless.

From a story standpoint, I’ve mostly enjoyed this stuff with Nakamura & Zayn. It’s a bit weird how Cesaro had been thrown in with little explanation, but Zayn is easily one of the best managers we’ve seen in WWE for a long time and as for Nakamura, it’s just nice to see him on TV regularly for a change.

In terms of quality, I’m not sure which way this match will go. If it’s a bit of a clusterfuck with Cesaro, Zayn & Nakamura constantly moving in for the kill while Strowman desperately tries to fend them off from all angles, it could actually be a lot of fun and something we don’t see very often. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be that interesting. I think what’s more likely is the trio use the numbers advantage to pummel Strowman for a while until he makes a comeback, destroys all three of them before probably pinning them all at once.

Speaking of, Braun Strowman is absolutely retaining his title here, not only has he not had any chance to do anything with the title yet, but it’s one of those situations where the odds have been stacked SO heavily against him if he didn’t win it’d seem like a gigantic anti-climax. While I’m not happy about having Nakamura, Zayn & Cesaro treated like chumps, if this is what we have to go through in order to get Strowman into a credible position for a great Wrestlemania match (hopefully against Daniel Bryan), then I think I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

The Miz & John Morrison(c) vs The New Day vs The Usos vs Heavy Machinery vs Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode vs Lucha House Party
(Smackdown Tag Tema Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

I always think these tag team chamber matches are going to be confusing messes, but then they never are.

I’m actually quite excited to see how this one plays out, New Day, Usos and Niz & Morrison are all great in-ring tag teams and the other three teams are certainly nothing to turn your nose up at either. There are a nice few interlinking stories going into this one too. The Usos have been trying to get up in The New Day’s grill the past couple of weeks, while New Day seek revenge for Miz & Morrison stealing their titles. Add on top of that the surprisingly compelling stuff between Otis & Ziggler and we’ve got a recipe for a very entertaining match ahead of us. Oh, and Lucha House Party are also there I guess.

As entertaining as this should be, I don’t think there’s much argument to be made about the winner. The Miz & John Morrison only won the titles 9 days ago and they’ve still got so much that they can do with the belts going into Wrestlemania. It would make no sense if they lost the titles this soon, so I think they’re going to find a way to sneak of the chamber still champions.

Asuka vs Shayna Baszler vs Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott vs Natalya vs Sarah Logan
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)
(Elimination Chamber)

Look, I know it was always going to be obvious, but it would’ve been nice if WWE had at least pretended someone other than Shayna stands a chance of winning this.

I don’t think many people will disagree with me when I say that this match’s only purpose is to show off how much of a beast Shayna Baszler is ahead of her Wrestlemania match with Becky. Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit of action between the three former Riott Squad members, but the spotlight here should be firmly on Shayna as she rips everyone apart.

In case you hadn’t already worked it out I think Shayna Baszler is going to win this one. As much as I love them, Riott, Morgan & logan just haven’t been built even nearly enough to have a featured Wrestlemania spot against WWE’s most popular star. Natalya & Asuka would both be legitimate contenders, however, they’ve already had big matches with Becky over the past year, so they’re out. Baszler is white-hot, has already started talking to Becky like she’s got the match and still had outstanding beef with Becky from Survivor Series, everything points to her and nothing will convince me otherwise.

So there you have! Thank you very much for taking the time to read these predictions, please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back on Monday, where I’ll be recapping the show!

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!