SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week in WWE was very strong, highlighted by two fantastic main event matches, while other major angles were furthered. Lets take a closer look at who shined and who missed the mark.
RAW ALL STARS: THE BIG SHOW & BRAUN STROWMAN
My goodness, what a main event we saw on Raw. A year or two ago the prospect of seeing two men of this size in the main event would make most fans roll their eyes but men like Braun Strowman and Big Show have completely changed the narrative. While Big Show is largely used to put over younger stars of larger stature, his new physique and recent performances have helped reestablish himself as a formidable opponent that can still get the job done. The match itself was an absolute spectacle. Seeing these two squaring off in a cage was an amazing visual and neither man held anything back. The offense was laid in with authority and both men sold the toll this contest was taking on their bodies so perfectly that the longer, more drawn out spots throughout were believable and added so much drama. Between the all out brawling, the unbelievable elbow drop from Show and the superplex from Strowman fans were left with their jaws on the floor as the shear athleticism shown by Strowman and Big Show was something to behold. With Braun being the next challenger to Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship it was important to position him as being the most unstoppable force in the company and this match most certainly accomplished that. Braun keeps telling us that he is the monster among men and after he hurled a near-400 pound man through the cage and onto the floor, the gimmick seems much more like real life.
RAW NOTABLE ALL STAR: JASON JORDAN
While Jason Jordan hasn’t exactly blown anyone away with his performances since being revealed as Kurt Angle’s son, his match on Monday could help us forget the first month of this run. We all know that John Cena tends to bring out the best in his opponents and this seemed very much like a test to evaluate how good Jordan could be. The match felt very old school and deliberate. Both men sold the feeling out process very well with the young and determined up-start in Jordan being eager to gain an advantage. Without any real high spots or over the top maneuvers, Jordan slowly started to gain the respect of the live audience as the match progressed which was impressive given who he was up against. This was quite a lengthy contest to open the show and may very well have been Jordan’s best match since being introduced on the main roster. There is much more to be done for Jordan to make a case to be pushed up the card, but this was a fantastic showcase of how good he can be in the ring. His new and improved music helped as well. Great work.
RAW NOTABLE ALL STARS: DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS
For any WWE superstars that find out they are booked to do commentary for a rival’s match they should study the work of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins from this week’s Raw. So little do we ever hear about a wrestler or team’s mission statement and further, what a championship means to them. Seth and Dean covered all of their bases confidently while also putting over the abilities of their challengers, Sheamus & Cesaro. The two men talking about coming together as a team and what it means for the rest of the Raw tag division now that they are on the same page was absolutely perfect given their history and also forces the fans to question who could actually beat them. The chemistry between these two is impeccable and now that they are paired up we are seeing different layers to each of their characters which is fantastic to watch. Their commentary on Monday is one more example of why putting these two back together was absolutely the right move and I hope to see it last much longer than other tag teams have in recent memory.
SMACKDOWN ALL STARS: SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RANDY ORTON
Looking passed the overly scripted/produced opening segments on Tuesday we got one of the better television main event matches on Smackdown in quite some time. Throughout Raw and Smackdown, the showdown between Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton was being built up through graphics and video packages that set the stage for something special. It was established that this match was an important one with the result meaning a ton to both competitors, something we see less and less of these days. With all the hype, both Orton and Nakamura delivered in a big way in what could be described as both men’s most impressive individual performance in quite some time. Both Shinsuke and Randy sold the importance of the match in the way they moved, sold their offense and injuries, as well as in their body language. The crowd was split right down the middle and both wrestlers had them invested from bell to bell. What made this match work so well was the clean finish in the middle of the ring. No one is left wondering who should really be the #1 contender to Jinder Mahal’s WWE World Championship and Nakamura’s stock rises exponentially. Randy is someone who can absolutely absorb a loss, but a more than credible opponent for Nakamura to defeat. Tremendous work from all involved.
SMACKDOWN UNDER PERFORMER: SAMI ZAYN
Make no mistake about it, Sami Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in WWE but for some reason he has been stuck is a terrible rut of losing to lower card performers. From a storyline perspective, Sami had another embarrassing evening on Tuesday losing to Aiden English in just about two minutes. Unfortunately, that is hardly enough time to tell any sort of story in the ring that allows Zayn to save face or even showcase a quarter of his move set. Given his underdog mentality, the ability to endear himself to the fan base and his tremendous ring work it is shocking to see the way he has been booked. Further, he is on a show where the main event scene isn’t exactly crowded, making these creative decisions surrounding Zayn that much more puzzling. Sami is certainly not in the under performers category this week due to his performance, but he is being made out to be much more than an underdog if he continuously loses to what is perceived to be enhancement talent. The 1-2-3 Kid was able to upset Razor Ramon once, but if he beat him 5 or 6 times on television what would we have thought of Razor?
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NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE ALL-STARS & UNDERPERFORMERS: John Cena up against Reigns on the mic, Jeff Hardy, Paul Heyman, Orton, Tamina-Lana