WWE Monday Night Raw Review – March 11, 2019 – Switching Lanes

By Justin M. Brown

Well, here we are. There’s officially no other PPV’s between now, and WrestleMania, so we’re in the home stretch. Fastlane while a good show, left some questions in the booking department, but that’s why we have Raw. To clean things up a bit, right? Well… we start with the Shield, fresh off of their victory the night before. Roman said his piece quickly, then made his exit with Ambrose. Seth is left, and here comes Heyman for a little back and forth. The most interesting part here, is that Seth noted that Lesnar has trouble with smaller guys, and that bodes well for him. Heyman counters by saying that Lesnar was just unprepared for those particular matches, and you might be able to make a case for that. Before we get to any kind of real conclusion, Shelton Benjamin attacks Seth Rollins from behind. I can’t say I saw that coming, but Shelton and Brock did wrestle at the University of Minnesota, back in the day, and we learn that Heyman paid him for the attack. This leads into a nice little, match, that Seth wins. Not a bad way too kick things off.

This leads into our Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor, defending his title against Bobby Lashley. Lashley is more or less in control of the entire match, when Finn gradually starts to put it together, towards the end. Before he can finish Bobby off, Lio Rush shows up, and starts ringing the bell, and steals the belt. Finn dispatches of him, but Lashely is able to recover and hit a mid-air Spear on a springboarding Finn Balor, for the win, and we have a new champion. I don’t understand why you’d take the belt off of Finn Balor, here. Why give him the title, if you’re just gonna whisk it away in a few weeks? My thinking is that they wanna stretch this to ‘Mania, have Finn do his demon thing on the grand stage, and use this as another launching point for him, but did he have to lose the title, in order for that to happen? Just seems puzzling, but then again what isn’t on Raw, these days?

Next, Raw Women’s Champion is out to explain her actions from Fastlane, and I can’t say it’s anything that you shouldn’t have been expecting. She helped Becky win, because with both Becky and Charlotte in the title match, she can put them both down for good, and show that the division is a sham…..the division that she’s currently at the top of. Look, I know that she’s just working, and she’s just trying to create a response. Hell, they’ve done a fantastic job of that, so I guess I shouldn’t really complain. But seriously, it’s so weird to have a champion completely discredit an entire division, that she’s a part of, because she’s simultaneously discrediting herself, and if she loses does it make her look bad, because she lost to people who can’t really beat her, or does it hurt the division, because we’re constantly being told that none of it is legitimate? Will Becky or Charlotte look better because they were able to best somebody, who could legitimately kill them, in false combat? It’s entertaining, and confusing, and I kinda just want it to be over.

At any rate, this brought out Dana Brooke of all people. She’s sick and tired of listening to Ronda run down the division that she loves, and fights hard to simply be a part of. She’s not a household name, and she’s not gonna put butts in the seats, but she’s still out here, doing everything she can, to simply belong. Dana Brooke stumbled over every third word in her promo, but still managed to deliver is with passion and fire. I know that sounds contradictory, but there’s not really a way to describe it, without seeing it. The important take away was that regardless of how well she got the words out, I think it was clear to everybody that they were in fact her words, and her feelings, and you could believe in that. That goes a much longer way then simply being eloquent, in my book. Dana demands a match with Ronda Rousey, but instead Ronda just gives her the Wolf Fang Fist, and dispatches of Dana with almost no resistance. This just really made me wish that we would see Dana more often. I remember when Emma had gotten hurt a couple of years back, and Dana started to team with Charlotte. She’d treat Dana like crap, and after a few months, Charlotte had finally crossed a line. It would’ve been great to see her team with Emma again or something, to bring Charlotte down, or even just be able to do it on her own, but sadly that never happened. Hopefully, she isn’t cast aside again, and we can continue to see her grow more, because this really made me want to see a Dana Brooke redemption story.

Sadly, the rest of the show really falls apart from here. Don’t get me wrong: a lot of it is perfectly fine, but it’s either of little consequence, or meandering in the worst possible way. Let’s break it down:

  • Ricochet and Aleister Black defeated Bobby Roode, and Chad Gable. Afterward, the Revival attack them.
  • Alexa Bliss announces that she’s the official host of WrestleMania
  • The cast of SNL write a letter to Braun Strowman apologizing for how last week went. They send him a brand new car as a gift. He destroys the car.
  • Triple H and Batista stand roughly 30 yards from each other, shouting. Batista is being very vague about what he wants, and Triple H just wants to fight. They finally settle on a No Holds Barred Match, at WrestleMania.
  • Nia Jax w/Tamina, and Natalya w/Beth Phoenix, no lie, have a match for 28 seconds, before their partners interfere, causing a disqualification. Beth chases Nia and Tamina off, and they are in turn, immediately attacked by Sasha Banks, and Bayley as they enter the backstage area.
  • Kurt Angle announces that he’ll be having his farewell match at WrestleMania, and defeats Apollo Crews in a short, but fun match in front of his home crowd.
  • Elias is interrupted by No Way Jose, so he beats him up.

There are two other things of importance that happens on the show. Roman Reigns is stet to have his first one-on-one match, since his return, against Baron Corbin. He makes his entrance, and is awaiting Corbin, when he’s blindsided by Drew McIntyre. McIntyre completely beats him down, and Seth comes out to help his brother to the back. As they get back there, Ambrose sees what’s happened, and demands a No Disqualification, Falls Count Anywhere Match, with McIntyre, from Triple H. Trips makes the match, and best believe it’s on. Some great physical work from both guys, and of course plenty of props get involved, as they even make their way out to the retail area. In the end, McIntryre is able to get the win on the stage, as he nails Ambrose with the Claymore Kick, while Ambrose’s head is sandwiched by a steel railing. Tack on another Claymore for good measure after the bell, and that was all she wrote.

My favorite part of the show, was in the middle though. We got our newest WWE Hall of Fame inductees in, Harlem Heat. If you grew up watching WCW in the 90s, then you know doubt know that Harlem Heat should’ve been inducted ages ago. The ten time WCW Tag Team Champions, were absolutely fundamental in helping to establish not just WCW’s tag team division, but all of tag team wrestling, during the decade. From their awesome black, red, and rarely white attire, to their iconic entrance music (still used by WWE Hall of Famer Booker T, to this day), Harlem Heat was a constant staple of WCW’s weekly programming, and we can’t forget how instrumental their manager, WWE Hall of Famer Sensational Sherri, was to their success. This was a long time coming, and well deserved. Congratulations to Stevie Ray, and Booker T, who will now be in the hall twice. This warmed my heart, and next to nothing could put a damper on the night. Here’s hoping things continue to look up.

Advertisements

WWE Fastlane 2019 Review

By Justin M. Brown

Can good wrestling make up for poor booking? Yes. Was that the case last night? No. Fastlane 2019 was, once again, another example of how bad booking can undermine an otherwise good show. On the night, we saw questionable decision after questionable decision, and one has to wonder, are we doing things for the sake of doing them?

We start the show with the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships on the line, as the Usos defend their titles in a rematch against The Miz, and Shane McMahon. The match was hit or miss at times, with the obvious best spot being a glorified game of Chicken, being played on the top rope by Shane O’Mac, and Jey Uso. The champions were able to retain, but the big story of the match was afterward. Miz reconciles his loss with his father at ringside, and seemingly Shane, but Shane unleashes an attack from behind, and also put hands on Miz’s father. One would assume that there was some frustration from Shane, but this was seemingly out of left field. There were rumors a late last year, that we might see Shane feud with Miz at WrestleMania. Looks like that will be coming to fruition.

In a surprisingly decent match, Asuka successfully defended her title against Mandy Rose. Asuka continues to maintain her reputation of elevating talent, with her performance last night. I don’t think that at any point, the crowd bought into the idea that Mandy would win, but they still managed to tell a competent story. Mandy Rose cannot beat Asuka on her own, and that much has been made clear in the past. Her one victory over her, came courtesy of some outside help from Sonya Deville. Sonya is once again out for some much needed insurance, and spends the match either interfering without getting caught, or at least looking to capitalize on an opportunity. This backfires at the end, as she grabs a kendo stick from underneath the ring, but leaves the ring skirt on the apron. This trips up Mandy Rose, and in the distraction Asuka delivers the next best thing to a Black Mass, for the victory. Good stuff here, no complaints.

Kofi Kingston has been summoned by the McMahon’s for a little chat, but somehow he doesn’t actually get around to this talk until an hour later, after a pep talk from the New Day. They go in, and attempt to get Vince to put Kofi in the WWE Championship match with Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens. Vince decided to make it a Triple Threat Match, and sends Kofi to the ring! The crowd is jacked, and ready only for the rug to pulled out from under everybody. The Triple Threat will happen later. Right now, Kofi will face The Bar in a handicap match, with his teammates barred from ringside. Why did Vince do this? *heavy shrug* The result is predictable, with the New Day finally not being able to sit back any longer, but being cut off by Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev. The Bar pick up the W, and a good amount of the audience is ready to pick up and leave.

The Revival defended their Tag Team Championships against Roode and Gable, and Ricochet, and Aleister Black. A fantastic match, that saw Ricochet dazzle the crowd, like he’s been doing in NXT, and on the indy circuit. In the end, the Revival pick up the win, as their teamwork wins out against the pure talent, and charisma of the NXT call ups. Roode and Gable were honestly, just kinda there, in this match. I miss watching these guys do just about anything of confidence, and I think the crowd has had just about enough of the Glorious One teaming with his Mini Me.

Samoa Joe defended his United States Championship, in a Fatal 4-Way against Andrade, R-Truth, and Rey Mysterio. I can’t speak for everybody for me, the theme of this match seemed to be, if Joe gets on a roll, look out. Everybody gets a decent amount of time to shine, but when Joe had about 3 of those spots in the match. He made the most of each one, and in the end, was able to choke out Rey Mysterio for the victory. Shout out to Rey for not tapping, and instead passing out. Might be a setup for a match, at ‘Mania, and you already know, I’m all about it.

New WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks, and Bayley, defended their championships against Nia Jax and Tamina. If you’ve seen this match in the past, you’ve seen this one. I have an incredible amount of respect for what everybody in this industry does in the ring, and their ability/dedication to putting their bodies on the line, for our entertainment. It’s not something that I think I’d be able to do, if I tried my absolute hardest. That being said, Nia Jax and Tamina, simply aren’t good in the ring. They’re out there with two of the Four Horsewomen, and are just fumbling around all over the place. There’s a point where Tamina is supposed to launch Sasha into Nia, who would catch her on her shoulders, and do a Samoan Drop. Instead what happens is, Tamina lauches Sasha, but Nia is kinda out of position, and has to lean in to grab her, and then she drops to one knee, and…..look, it wasn’t good. Roughly two minutes later Sasha leaps from the top rope to hit Nia and Tamina on the outside. They’re supposed to catch her, so Bayley can do a Suicide Dive, and take them all out, but Tamina can’t really hold Sasha up, and they all fall, but have to keep their hands in place, as they stand to say that they “caught” Sasha. It was all pretty sloppy, and takes you out of it for a moment or two. At the end, Nia and Tamina take the L, and are pissed. They attack the champions on the outside, and Beth Phoenix (who was on commentary, and I think she’s not bad at it), saw enough, came up for the save. She gets beat down though, and this in turn brings out Natalya, to save her best friend. This was also in vain, as the heels wreck her as well. At least I liked that sequential storytelling at the end.

Time for the WWE Championship match, and as promised it is a Triple Threat Match. Daniel Bryan put his title on the line against Kevin Owens, and…….Mustafa Ali. Look, I like Ali as much as the next guy, and we’ve watched him blossom from a well hidden gem on 205 Live, to a potential main event player on SmackDown Live. That being said, the crowd would have absolutely none of it. They were against it from the jump, as thunderous Kofi chants rained down on the match, before, during, and after. Not to say that this wasn’t a good match, but it’s clear who everybody wants to get a title shot, and if things progress like I think they will, Kofi will get his shot at the Grandaddy of ’em All. Overall, this was a good match, and I like that KO keeps doing the Stunner as a bit of an homage to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Daniel Bryan retains his championship, as Mustafa Ali goes for what I can only assume was, a Springboard Cross Body from the corner, but instead ate a Running Knee from Bryan. Add a little extra beat down from Rowan after the match, and that’s all she wrote. Or would it be he wrote, in this case? Whatever.

In the head scratcher of the night, Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair. You might be wondering why this is worrisome, but we’ll get there. Becky is out on a crutch. Her left knee is badly injured, and in a brace. Add to that that she has an injured left arm, thanks to Ronda Rousey, last Monday. She can only fight with half of her body, more or less, and the match reflects this pretty well. Charlotte is more than in control; she’s seemingly toying with Becky. Charlotte is hard enough to beat, if you bring your very best, but in this state, Becky is barely able to do more than fire off a few non-effective shots. If it even remotely looks like Becky might have a chance to swing momentum in her direction, Charlotte is skilled and experienced enough, to stop things, dead. We get to the point where Becky, has managed to finagle her way into locking in the Disarm-her, but Charlotte counters out, locks in the Figure 4, and is nearly able to fully bridge into the Figure 8. A small dot in the background steadily grows closer, and we see Ronda Rousey streaking into the ring, and she…..attacks Becky Lynch? My first thought, is that she’s attacking in a blind rage, but she then stands in the ring, with a sly look on her face, and it’s clear she knows what she’s done. The Man wins via, disqualification, and while Charlotte stands in pure fury, and Ronda exits, Becky Lynch hobbles to the corner, laughing, because she’s gotten what she wants: another shot at the Raw Women’s Championship. I guess the story here is that Ronda really wants a match against Becky, but I don’t know…she supposedly doesn’t care anymore about the best possible match, and just wants to destroy the Earth, or something to that effect. Is that suddenly done, or was Monday just a ruse, to get what she wanted? WWE why you gotta WWE so hard?

Our main event is The Shield vs. Bobby Lashely, Baron Corbin, and Drew McIntyre. The Shield have had a couple of matches now, where they reform, for whatever the bad team of the month is, and they Dempsey Roll them into oblivion. This is no different from the others right down to the “bad guys think they can do the Shield’s signature Triple Powerbomb, but joke’s on them” spot. The main appeal of the match is that Roman Reigns is back from his battle with Leukemia, but with Ambrose on his way out the door after ‘Maina, this is most likely the last time, we’ll see these guys together, at least for a few years. If we never get to see this again, let’s be glad that it happened in the first place. These three men, came to the main roster making as much noise as possible, and they took the audience for a great ride for several years. They’re all gonna be hall of famers one day. Take in the moment, bask in it, and have a good time. That’s why we watch pro wrestling after all.

Oh, one last thing to note: Elias came out, insulted Cleveland. This brought out Lacey Evans who proceeded to walk down the ramp, and walk back up. Orton RKO’d Elias in the process, for…..reasons? Then, AJ Styles appeared on the apron, and delivered a Phenomenal Forearm to Orton, because Orton’s annoying? So yeah. That happened. Which is pretty much how I felt about the show, overall.

Maybe…Jon Gruden Knows What he is Doing

When we saw the Oakland Raiders sign Jon Gruden to a 10 year, 100 million dollar contract, the general consensus was that Oakland had no idea what they doing. Then with Gruden’s first decision he traded the Raiders best player, pass rushing specialist Khalil Mack to the Bears for 2 1st round picks, a 2nd & a 5th round pick in 2020. A move that looked clueless at the time. However as the 2019-20 season played out the Raiders defense combined ended up with 13 sacks a league low. Whereas Khalil Mack in Chicago had 12.5 sacks on his own only playing 14 games. The Bears became a playoff team and won the NFC North for the first time in 9 years. Oakland went 4-12, also trading along their #1 WR Amari Cooper to Dallas for a 1st round pick and their season became a wash. No centerpieces on defense, a decent offensive line and a good starting QB with no weapons on the outside. Not a good year one for the Gruden era.

Jon Gruden’s moves on the surfaced showed that he was way over his head, considering he has been out of coaching for over a decade. However, when you sign a 10 year deal, you have to play the long game. The Raiders are coming into this off-season with the most chess pieces at their disposal to turn the Silver & Black around. And with Free Agency on the horizon, they made a major splash is acquiring Steelers star WR Antonio Brown for a bargain price of a 3rd and 5th round pick. The deal for them to get Brown made the most sense since 1) The Raiders had over 60 million in cap space going into the off-season, so they had the money to afford Brown’s new deal. 2)Derek Carr didn’t have a #1 WR to throw to for most of the 2019 season and still ended up with over 4000 yards and a 93.9 QB rating despite his numbers not reflecting in the win column. Adding Antonio Brown who has been regarded as the best WR in football and has 6 straight seasons of 100 receptions or more should bring Derek Carr to his 2016 form.

Oakland made a big move without giving up any of their 3 1st round picks, and still having plenty of cap space to make more big moves. With Le’Veon Bell on the market and this being a loaded free agent class for Safeties, the Raiders are in prime position to make a quick turnaround. Football is the only sports besides baseball where you can go from worst to first with one solid off-season. They need to seriously address the defense on all levels. The Raiders had 17 less sacks than the 31st rank Superbowl Champion New England Patriots, and with this draft being set up to be the best defensive drafts of all time, the Raiders are good shapes to retool this defense that Khalil Mack’s departure left a cratering hole.

All the years of him being in the booth and with Mayock joining him with him in the front office after years being on NFL Network scouting NFL rookies, the Raiders turnaround could happen soon. Maybe Gruden knows more than what he shows on the surface and with all the ammo he still has in his war chest there’s no telling what is next for Oakland but with know Antonio Brown now happy and paid this is only the beginning the revival of good Raider football.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review – March 4th, 2019 – True Colors

By Justin M. Brown

Note: I was in attendance for the show, and as usual, I watched a second time, later on, to get both sides of the experience.

Last night’s show was average to good at moments, and somewhat confusing to close things out, in typical Raw fashion. Our two major stories (Shield drama, and the Women’s title picture), really focus on the facade taking a back seat, in favor of our true selves. WWE likes to play this card, every so often, but I think it worked better last night, than it has in recent memory. A part of that is due to it being the “go home show” for FastLane, and I think it laid the groundwork for Sunday night, nicely.

To kick things off, Roman Reigns makes his return to Philly. In the past, he’s been received either with a general mix, or outright hatred, befitting my city’s cynical fans, but it was all love for the Big Dog last night. No amount of perceived unfairness in booking, or pushes, can ever outweigh the sheer joy of knowing that somebody was able to survive a battle with Leukemia, let alone a guy that puts his body on the line every night, for our entertainment. After a lengthy shower of appreciation, he calls out Seth Rollins, as he still has a goal in mind. Seth shows up, and like everybody in attendance, he’s thinking that Roman has made up his mind to challenge for the Universal Title, but we’re all wrong. Roman’s got a different goal, and it won’t be easy: get the Shield back together. Seth is rightfully hesitant, as it means he’ll have to warm back up to Ambrose, but after some poking and prodding, he’s down for the cause. Now, it’s time for Ambrose to come to terms, but before he can, he’s attacked by Elias, as revenge for last week’s interruption.

They have a match later on, and Elias picks up the W, because Ambrose is still having some back problems, from the earlier attack. Reigns and Rollins (Attorneys at Law), show up again for a little heart to heart, but Ambrose bails. That brings out McIntyre, Lashely, and Corbin for a beat down, and Ambrose decides he’s gotta be a man, and can’t let it slide. The Hounds of Justice take out the baddies, formally join fists, and prepare the Triple Powerbomb some heels on Sunday night.

The other side of the coin, lies with the Raw Women’s Championship. So last week, Ronda was fed up with Becky trying to MurderDeathKill her at every pass, and demanded that her suspension be lifted. Steph said “haha no,” and Ronda gave up the title (yes she did, you can’t convince me otherwise, ALL HAIL VACANT). This week, Steph relents and lifts the suspension on Becky Lynch. She also makes a match at FastLane for the now vacated title (see, I told you). So this Sunday, it’ll be Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch. Becks isn’t medically cleared, so she’s in attendance to sign a contract that basically says if she dies, it’s not WWE’s fault.

When the signing is ready to happen, Ronda Rousey shows up, and she is pissed beyond belief. She claims that she should also be in the match because she never vacated the title. Never mind that we’re shown her vacating the title at least 7,000 times throughout the night. No, she was merely giving Stephanie a week to think things over. I’ve never asked my boss to think things over, by giving up my position for a week. Gotta give that one a try. Ronda demands her title back, and Steph gives her the title back???????? Wait, wait, what? Why did she do that? What the deuce is this nonsense? That’s not good enough for Ronda, though. She’s pissed that the fans like Becky, so she goes full heel, and blames the fans. She says that berates Stephanie, and says she can do what she wants, because Steph has to keep her around. We’re apparently now gonna see the real Ronda Rousey. It’s all been an act, and she was just trying to be as respectful as possible, but no more. I mean Ronda becomes a full spoiled brat, and goes on a rampage. She kicks Charlotte into the null void, and lays into Becky. Charlotte thinks about responding, but decided to take this one on the chin, and leave. Wasn’t really a fan of this segment, only because as much as I clamor for Stephanie to not be able to verbally emasculate everybody within a 25ft. radius, she relented entirely too easily, here. Steph got walked on, over, through, whatever you wanna call it. It was jarring to say the least.

Now, what didn’t come through for the audience in attendance, was Stephanie cutting a promo in the back, about how appalled, and disgusted she was with Ronda’s actions. She seemed to be implying that there would be some sort of consequence next week, but again, if you were in attendance you missed that. Also, if you were watching from home, you got to hear one of the camera guys yelling for Ronda to keep holding the title up. Gotta get those good shots for the PPV promo.

Other events in the show are as follows:

  • The Raw Tag Teams are mean to Heavy Machinery, and they hurt Otis (insert last name here) feelings. This culminates in a short Tag Team Gauntlet Match, that sees HM plow through most of the division in victory.
  • Natlaya defeated Ruby Riott, and Lacey Evans wore clothing.
  • “Triple H, the Person” is really angry at “Batista, the Person,” because he hurt Richard Fliehr, aka “Ric Flair, the Person.”
  • Saturday Night Live comedians make fun of my city for having an inferiority complex about New York.
  • Tamina feat. Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks feat. Bayley, because Sasha isn’t allowed to win in Philadelphia
  • And lastly, newcomers Ricochet and Aleister Black lost their unearned Tag Team Championship match against The Revival, via DQ. How did that happen, you ask? Roode and Gable attacked The Revival, because………….*fart sounds* *general discontent* *cultural upheval*

So, that was Monday Night Raw. Overall, the bigger segments were good enough to lift this show up to passable level. Not too bad of a final setup for FastLane, but now they’ve just gotta follow through. We’re almost in the absolute final stretch for WrestleMania, and things are starting to form together nicely. Last year, we were still scratching our heads around this time, as we looked at the possible card for the show, but it was pretty good. This year almost seems like a layup in comparison, to last year’s contested three pointer. Just gotta make sure we get the ball in the basket.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review – February 19, 2019 – Entering New Territory

By Justin M. Brown

When I was a child, my knowledge of the wrestling world, was limited to three areas: WWF, WCW, and ECW. My brother and I, mainly watched WWF and WCW, and our infatuation with it, never waned. Sure, my best friend would often tell me of the wonders he’d seen in ECW, but I didn’t take time to fully appreciate it, until later in life. My focus was squarely on the other two companies. Time passed, and WWF (who would later become WWE) was the only one that remained; however; I’d hear tales from older fans about how options weren’t always so limited. Sure, New Japan was still around, and TNA had been slowly growing from its humble Florida roots, but I couldn’t fully grasp there being a time when the viewing options would be so vast. As of last night, it’s clear that under the WWE umbrella, those times are returning.

A few areas of the show, were a simple rehash of what we’d seen the night before. Strowman faced off with Baron Corbin again, Ronda took on Ruby Riott, once more…if you’ve watched Raw long enough, you know that this isn’t an uncommon occurrence. Lesser pay per views are generally given the “lather, rinse, repeat” cycle, the following night. These are usually time fillers, as it can be difficult to come up with something fresh, and new all the time. I get it, and it’s for that very reason that I begrudgingly, put up with those shenanigans. The rest was something that, although it was subtly hinted at, over the past few months, was still somehow unexpected.Triple H starts the show, with what seems like a generic promo, but he then fully confirmed what it seems like we should’ve already known: NXT isn’t just developmental, but a full blown 3rd global brand. A brand with a following, talented athletes, legitimate champions, and a full identity. An identity that the usual main roster audience was about to be introduced to in full. We got full blown main roster debuts for Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, and Aleister Black! Suddenly, Michael Cole is narrating over their video packages, as everybody is introduced. Each wrestler factored into the show, seamlessly:

  • Ricochet saved new Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor, from a 2-on-1 beat down by the reunited (that was fast) Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush. This led to a fairly competititve tag team match, that saw the faces go over. The One and Only even got a bit of a spotlight interview, backstage, later in the night.
  • Gargano and Ciampa teamed up to take on The Revival. Before the match, we got a fun bit that had Gable and Roode, seemingly confused as to why the semi-reformed DIY, were getting such a coveted opportunity, with interesting banter.
  • Lastly, Aleister Black interrupted Elias, and they had an impromptu match, that saw Elias eat a Black Mass.

The most intriguing part of this for my money, was Sasha Banks, and Bayley coming out, for an interesting promo about their title victory. This worked better than the previous night, because they weren’t nearly as overcome with emotion, and could put their feelings, into tangible words, which culminated with an impressive declaration. They’d not only defend their Tag Team Championships on Raw, and SmackDown Live, but also on NXT. Did you catch it? The reason why I’m so geeked about this, and frothing at the mouth, and might be in dire need of medical attention? It’s the return of territories. NXT is a full blown brand, with Gargano and Ciampa as top champions (North American Champion, and NXT Champion, respectively), and they’re balling out of control on the main roster now! Sahsa and Bayley have been called up for years, and now they’re taking a top championship (WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship), to NXT! I thought it was strange that Nikki Cross, EC3, Heavy Machinery, and Lacey Evans (whom it now looks like might be managing Heavy Machinery) haven’t really been assigned to a show yet. Even stranger that with the Women’s Tag Titles, they weren’t going to limit those to a specific show. But with the idea that anybody from any roster could cross over, and face new competition, my wrestling senses have been going crazy. We’ve seen some cross over already in the form of Mustafa Ali, seemingly transitioning from 205 Live to SmackDown Live, without any real explanation. Are we about to witness a throwback to the old days of wrestling where, somebody could work a territory like the south for a few months, then be whisked away to work out in the Midwest? Is it possible that we’d see Finn Balor crossing over into NXT UK, or Pete Dunne ending up bruising his way through the SmackDown roster? It’s all very exciting, and although you couldn’t tell from the crowd last night (dead as a doornail), everybody is speculating, and getting antsy in the wake of a very interesting night.

I know this review really centered on how a few segments have seemingly shaken up the wrestling world, but there really wasn’t much else that was noteworthy. Drew McIntyre wanted to face Seth Rollins for an opportunity to perhaps take his place against Brock Lesnar, but was sidetracked by an intervening Dean Ambrose. This resulted in a short match, that saw the Scottish Terminator, take down Ambrose in routine fashion. Ambrose would then complain later to Seth about how he could’ve used his help, which…… yeah, that was confusing. With Ambrose giving Seth his support last week, I do like the idea of Ambrose secretly distracting incoming opposition for Seth, on his way out. Speaking of Seth, and essentially reiterated that he’s gonna take out Lesnar even if it kills him. Admirable words, but nothing we haven’t heard before. Paul Heyman narrated over a two part video promo, that covered the span of Brock Lesnar’s career. It’s easy to forget that Brock has actually accomplished quite a bit over the course of his two runs with the company, and is a surefire hall of famer, when he finally does hang it up, for good.

So yeah, a few matches that weren’t anything you wouldn’t normally expect, and the rest of the show was an ode to the future, and opened the door for a huge precedent to be set. I’m excited to see how this will all play out. All that I can really ask, is that WWE not play with my emotions, here. Oh, who am I kidding? That’s probably the first order of business for them, today.

WWE Elimination Chamber 2019 Review

By Justin M. Brown

2019’s rendition of Elimination Chamber was, for the most part, about as standard of a show, as WWE’s usual monthly productions tend to be. If you’re a seasoned WWE viewer, you’ve grown accustomed to the experience that you’re in for: solid wrestling, a glimmer of hope from the storytelling department, and at least one odd occurrence. The bookends of the show were the main attention grabbers of the evening, but it’s safe to say that things stayed about as safe as possible, in terms of booking, but the main event did leave me with the aforementioned spark of something brighter in the future.

We started off the evening with the Women’s Elimination Chamber Match, to decide who would be our inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions (if we ignore everything prior to WWF circa 1989). If you had anybody penciled in to win other than Sasha Banks and Bayley, you’re probably thinking too hard about the booking. Solid outing from all of the women, involved, but there were a few spots early on that looked a bit stagnant, for lack of a better word. Just a little too much waiting around for someone to get into place. The IIconics, continue to be my secret favorite pairing of ladies, as they spent a solid 45 seconds trying to cover anyone, and everyone, as they entered the match. Great stuff towards then end, using the top of the chamber pods, and I defy you to not choke back a few tears, listening to Sasha’s voice crack as she speaks on what the moment not only means to her and Bayley, but also the fans, and all of the talented women in the back. Well done.

The Usos reclaim the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, in a decent outing against Miz and Shane McMahon. Not gonna lie, I’ve just about had my fill of Shane McMahon matches to last a lifetime. Especially now that he’s older, and slower. Not to mention the crushing realization that he’s out there specifically to jump off of something, in an attempt to send his opponent to the corner for time out. The belts are back in the hands of an actual tag team pairing, now if we could only remember that Sanity is a thing, give them back Nikki Cross, and add a dash of Naomi, to set up a mixed 6-man tag at ‘Mania, no? +10 points to Maryse for making an appearance, and announcing that her and Miz are expecting a second child. Congratulations to them, and here’s to another healthy child.

We had Finn Not From Adventure Time Balor taking on Bobby Lashley, and Lio Rush, in a match that was literally booked to give away the finish. Handicap match? Fine. Intercontinental Title match? I’m with it. Doing both? Ha ha, no. As soon as this was booked, I’m pretty sure we all knew that Finn was gonna go over, and Lio would be eating the pin. Especially considering that on last week’s episode of Raw, the announce team literally wouldn’t stop burying Lio was the Definitely 1,000% Weak Link Yes He Is Don’t Try To Convince Us Otherwise. Sure enough, the entire match was Bobby Lashley pummeling Balor, Lio tagging himself in, and everything immediately going downhill from there. Finn beats Lio, which protects Bobby Lashley, and but if they champion is going to lose their title, I’d prefer them actually lose the match, themselves. Glad we finally put another title on Finn, but a good match, this was not. Side note, Lashley murdered Rush afterward.

The Raw Women’s Championship was on the line as Ronda Rousey (cosplaying as Sonya Blade….sorta…..kinda……no……I’m sorry) squared off with Ruby Riott, as Charlotte Flair watched from ringside, as promised. After roughly a few moments, Ronda remembered that the Armbar was a thing, slapped it on, and that was that. Charlotte got in the ring, and we also got an appearance from Becky Lynch with crutches. She gets in the ring, and because nobody at all was interested in a suspended superstar showing up, she was able to attack Charlotte with her crutches. I mean, she really lays into her here, while Ronda Rousey watches, semi-interested? I don’t know, she was just kinda taking it all in, but when all was said and done, she readied herself for an attack from Becky. I know that the crowd sides with Becky Lynch over everybody else, but it’s hard to say if she’s supposed to be a heel here, or a face. I bring this up because she’s able to persuade Ronda to at least advance on Charlotte, and the distraction is enough to allow Becky to launch an attack on her. Why did Ronda follow up on Becky’s suggestion? Is she a face or not? She was always talking about how she doesn’t take shortcuts, and attack from behind, but here’s a defenseless Charlotte Flair in front of her, and Ronda feels like she should just start laying into her? After several blows (that Ronda refused to sell more than bouncing up from one knee), Becky is taken off by security, but not in handcuffs, even though they have her arms behind her….so, yeah. That happened.

In what was by far the least interesting thing to happen on the night, Baron Corbin went over Braun Strowman, with some help from Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley. There’s not much of note that happens here. It’s your standard Corbin/Strowman match, then the baddies show up, and Triple Powerbomb Strowman through a couple of tables. Very ho-hum affair, and felt like something you’d see on an average episode of Raw.

In what was easily the most absurd thing to happen on the night, Lacey Evans came out, walked to the end of the ramp, then reversed the process. I wish that I could give more detail, as to what happened, but honestly, that was it. Why did it happen? I don’t know. The show is going along, then a wild Lacey Evans appeared. No words, no pose, no taunting, no…. anything. -20 points for doing nothing at all.

Finally, we reach our main event, which was by far the best match of the evening. The Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship, featured Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Randall Keith Orton, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston, and of course Daniel Bryan, who was told that he couldn’t have Rowan at ringside with him….not that it would’ve mattered, because he had no way inside of the cage, but yeah. Let’s go with it. I think it’s easy for the crowd to expect a lot of intricate spots with the chamber itself to occur, but all you ever really need for a solid match, is good storytelling. That was most definitely the case, for this match as it progressed, as a seemingly bland elimination match. Where things really picked up, was at the point that we’re reduced to our final to competitors: Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. Kofi was able to last over an hour, after being inserted into a Gauntlet Match on last week’s SmackDown Live, as a replacement for the injured Mustafa Ali (really a shame, as this would’ve been a great launching point for him). It’s hard to imagine, because he’s been in the game for so long, but the crowd really needed that reminder of how incredible a talent Kofi really is. This really gave him a boost with the audience in the Chamber match as well, so to see him in the final 2, brought everybody to the edge of their seats. A number of false finished on both sides, helped build the tension, before finally, the vegan villain was able to come out on top. He exited quickly, and the rest of The New Day, came out to help their partner to his feet, and let him know he’s more than deserving of all of the praise coming his way. My hope for this moment is that we go 1 of 2 directions. Either we’re thrown full force into a Bryan/Kingston feud, that will see him go over at WrestleMania. Or maybe…just maybe, Daniel Bryan gets a little too full of himself, on Tuesday. Maybe he’s starting to laud how his more conservative lifestyle is what pushed him over the edge, and allowed him to defeat the member of the overly marketed New Day. Then we run full on into a feud where Bryan faces Xavier Woods at FastLane, picks up the win, but then has to face Big E at ‘Mania. Either way, I’d definitely in the camp, of positioning Daniel Bryan against The New Day. Anybody else seeing dollar signs, or do I need my eyes checked?

5 New Teams Nick Foles could play for in 2019

By Kris Thomas

Nick Foles will be remember as the more beloved Philadelphia athletes of all time. From being the 88th overall pick in the loaded QB draft class in 2012(and being the consolation prize after the Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson) to his 27 TD 2 INT season under Chip, to getting traded and bench in at the time St. Louis, to Andy Reid talking him out of retirement, and his 2nd stint in Philly which carved his legacy. The story of Nick Foles doesn’t make sense when you try to explain it or even watching it every week, but after a tough loss to Drew Brees & the Saints in the Superdome, Nick Foles will head to the offseason just turning 30. With a pro bowl, pro bowl MVP, Superbowl MVP and a 4-1 postseason record, Foles will head yo the offseason with plenty of suitors in place. Whether it’s to be a bridge QB or a team needing him to get them over the top, Foles watch is underway. Here are 5 teams that could be in the running for the SB 52 MVP:

5) Cincinatti Bengals

With Marvin Lewis gone & the signs pointing to Rams QB coach Zac Taylor to be their new HC, why not? The Bengals can save 16 million by cutting Andy Dalton which will put the Bengals close to 70 million in cap room. Before all the injures the Bengals were in the thick of things in things in the playoff picture. Adding a steady vet like Nick Foles who’s had playoff sucess and a great record in primetime games( Bengals have lost 9 of their last 10 primetime games), It would be a great way to change the culture of the team. The Bengals have a unique roster of young talent and vets who have been in the playoffs. Foles with an offense with Joe Mixon going into his 3rd season, Tyler Boyd, Aj Green and Eifert if he can ever stay healthy. With adding Foles you can spend the rest of your money continuing to build the defense which was dead last in passing yards allowed 27th in passing TDs allowed and tied for 5th worst for sacks.

4) Washington Redskins

To be blunt no other team has a more glaring need for QB than the Redskins this offseason. With the gruesome injury to Alex Smith, Colt McCoy breaking his fibula, they are left with Josh Johnson who until this year didn’t start a game since 2013.

The Redskins were the frontrunners of the NFC East before the injury to Smith. You would think adding a healthy and capable QB like Nick Foles to an offense that has Derrius Guice coming back from an ACL tear. Jordan Reed who played the most games since his breakout season 3 years ago. Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and a good 3rd down back in Chris Thompson. The Skins were the 4th worse in football last year and took a massove nose dive after the Alex Smith injury. A QB like Foles can utilize the most from this young offensive unit. However with only 21 million in cap space, Washington needs to make some magic happen with their salary cap situation.

3. Denver Broncos

The Broncos were in the playoff hunt but they were never at any point a true threat to take a wildcard spot. Last offseason John Elway made the decision to sign Case Keenum on the heels of his sucessful season in Minnesota which was capped off with the Stefon Diggs walk off TD that has been regarded as the Minnesota miracle. Keenum’s production wasn’t bad, just not what Denver needed to get back to the playoffs for the first time since they won the SB in 2015. With longtime DC Vic Fangio taking the reigns as HC, the defense with Von Miller Bradley Chubb & Chris Harris is in good hands to get back to top tier status. That isn’t the issue however.

Ever since Manning retired, Elway has botched finding a suitable replacement. From Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and now Case Keenum have all flopped. So what makes Nick Foles different than the other misfits Denver rolled with at QB? For one Nick Foles’ calling card was making the big 3rd down completions. The Broncos ranked 28th in that department last year. In a division where you have a constable gunslinger in Rivers & the future 23 year old MVP Patrick Mahomes you have to keep your offense on the field. In 3 season after Manning left the offense ranked 27th, 27th and 24th. Foles will have a reliable vet in Emmanuel Sanders and a young slot WR in Courtland Sutton to work and a reliable stable of running backs in Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker if he can stay on the field. The Broncos will have 45 in the cap to retool the team. If they wanted to bring in Foles they have the money to do so.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Nothing really needs to be said about this. This makes sense in every conceivable aspect. Let’s be real: Blake Bortles is awful. He is. I normally would like to use stats to state my reasons and claim but for Bortles it isn’t needed. When Fournette went down he was unable to keep the ship afloat. When the Jaguars had the Patriots on the ropes in Foxbrough, they loss because they were scared to get aggressive because Blake Bortles isn’t the QB to step on defenses necks.

The Jaguars have a Superbowl caliber defense and enough weapons on offense to contender for a title…just not with Blake Bortles at QB. Out of all the QBs who started in the 2018 season the only QBs I would take Bortles over is Nathan Peterman Colt McCoy Jeff Driskel and Josh Johnson….yeah he’s that much of an eye sore to watch. Swap out Bortles for Foles the Jaguars are back not only in Playoff contention but Superbowl Contention. The Jaguars have a decent offensive line, a bell cow at RB when he’s on the field in Fournette and even though they’re young, Keelan Cole, DJ Shark, Dontr Moncrief and Dede Westbrook is a respectable WR unit. Jacksonville stop trying to convince yourself on Blake Bortles and give Foles the pitch of the lifetime to make him a resident of Duval. Also an important nugget: The Jaguars just sign John Deflippo as their new offensive coordinator. Maybe a sign?

1. New England Patriots

Eagles fans put down the torch and pitchforks. Think about it: This is the most Belichick thing for him to do. Belichick was irate when Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco because he knew Brady’s time was drawing to a close. Belichick always know when to move on from a player & if Robert Kraft didn’t step in Brady was going to be on that long list.

Let’s say in 3 weeks Brady goes back in the Superbowl and wins title #6 and decides to call it a career. Belichick is left with only Brain Hoyer. With the last pick of the first round in a weak QB class there isn’t many options to choose from for the Patriots. What if Belichick decides to pull a fast one and get the 30 year Nick Foles as a bridge so Belichick can not only continue his conquest on the NFL but get time to find a new heir apparent for the throne? It sounds crazy but if the scenario of Brady leaving after this year is true then that should be in the back of everyone’s mind. Belichick always gets the last laugh on his rivals and snagging Nick Foles would be the even worse than the Superbowl 39 loss they took 14 years ago.

Where do you think Nick Foles will end up in 2019?