JINDER FAKES US OUT…
Recap: Before the match began, Jinder Mahal accused Roman Reigns of his failures clouding his judgment. Reigns disagreed and was eager to begin the match. Before the match could begin, however, Jinder informed Roman that he never specified that he would be the one wrestling tonight. He instead said that Reigns would be facing “the Great [pause to imply Khali]…. Sunil Singh.”
Singh was surprised but Jinder psyched him up. Reigns defeated him quickly.
After the bell, Jinder surprised Roman and hit the Khallas.
Evaluation: Considering Roman is facing Jinder in only 6 days at the pay per view, these shenanigans were not unexpected. WWE wasn’t going to give away a pay per view matchup like that.
Jinder’s actions were cowardly, and resulted in the substitution of a hyped match for an inferior one. In that respect, it at least got some heat for Jinder.
Forecast: Reigns wins on Sunday. Even with the past six weeks of work put into rehabbing Roman’s image, I would still expect the Chicago crowd to reject both Roman and Jinder. Jinder did everything he could tonight, but nothing moved the needle enough to change the outcome.
MORE CRANKY RONDA…
Recap: Jonathan Coachman hosted a face-to-face between Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax in the ring. Nia admitted to pushing Ronda’s buttons over the past few weeks. She went through a list of maneuvers that are banned in UFC but allowed in WWE. [Notably she included hair pulling, which is in fact banned in WWE, at least according to the referees who always break it up.]
Nia reminded Ronda that her victory was over a “businesswoman”, and that she wasn’t ready for the title.
Ronda replied that she has been told she wasn’t ready at every level: Olympics, Strikeforce, and UFC. She succeeded at each one. She screamed that she was “born ready.”
The two then tangled. Ronda grabbed Nia’s arm, but Nia hit her with a headbutt. Nia attempted to grab her, but Ronda flipped her into an armbar. Nia resisted for some time, and almost powered out, but eventually tapped out.
Evaluation: Ronda Rousey just isn’t likeable. That’s not even a bad thing; WWE could harness it into creating a heel persona for her. But as a face, it’s not working.
Best female fighter of all time or not, I also just can’t buy Bantamweight Ronda Rousey being able grapple on the ground with the Super Heavyweight (if the weight WWE announces is correct) Nia Jax. We’re supposed to believe that they’re both highly trained fighters, and in that regard tonight’s confrontation looked silly to me with Ronda overpowering Nia in the armbar. It’s different than when Alexa Bliss fought Nia, as Alexa was a heel and could use underhanded tactics to at least semi-believably gain the upper hand.
We have size mismatches with the men all the time, and I get that it’s a part of modern pro wrestling, but we never have a size mismatch this large with the men.
Forecast: There is really no good outcome for this match. Presumably WWE doesn’t want Ronda to lose her first WWE match. On the other hand, Ronda seems wrong as a face right now. The best possible thing they could do is have Ronda do something underhanded during the match to win, turning her heel at the pay per view.
BRAUN BEATS FOUR MEN…
Recap: Throughout the evening, Kevin Owens approached Bobby Roode and Finn Balor backstage in an attempt to create an alliance for their Fatal Four Way match with Braun Strowman. While not trusting Owens, they seemed to reluctantly admit it was their best option.
Early on, Strowman was able to handle all three opponents. Eventually, they were able to incapacitate him on the announce table. Owens then hit a frog splash onto him from a ladder, knocking Owens and Strowman both out of the match for some time.
Eventually Strowman and Owens re-entered the match and it again became 3-on-1. Cooperation broke down when Owens tried a schoolboy on Roode while Roode attempted a Glorious DDT.
After some unsuccessful covers, Owens grabbed a ladder and hit Strowman with it. Strowman grabbed the ladder from Owens and gave him a chokeslam followed by a powerslam onto the ladder for the pin.
Evaluation: It was a fun match that the crowd enjoyed. It served its purpose in setting up everyone teaming up on Strowman on Sunday.
Forecast: Even WWE probably doesn’t know who is winning on Sunday, but it appears a big part of the match will be Braun overcoming being teamed up against.
Baron Corbin looks 1000x better without the stringy long hair….
The announcers constant talk of Ruby Riott making her own opportunities did her no favors in getting over as a heel, and did Bayley no favors in getting over as a face….
The women’s match that opened the show was probably the best wrestling segment of the night. Ember Moon in particular looked really good….
Tonight’s opening promo with all the competitors on top of ladders looked especially fake and scripted after watching NJPW Dominion this weekend. As bizarre as the Dominion opening video package with Harold Meij was, at least during the events themselves NJPW avoids such patently scripted stuff….
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 6/4: More Roman & Jinder, Ronda Seems Heelish, More Sasha & Bayley