Another week has passed on the Road to Wrestlemania, and unless I’ve just gotten to the stage of completely zoning out when it happens, we got less sign-pointing this week. We even got serenaded by Braun Strowman, which even though I’m not writing about was too good of a visual to not use above. But we did get various developments for Elimination Chamber and Fastlane, so it was a good week for storyline progression. What actually happened? Read on for the highlights!
Doubling up on making history
The advertised Raw main event was a second chance fatal-4-way between the men who lost Elimination Chamber qualifying matches – Finn Balor, Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt and Apollo Crews. But in the middle of the show, Seth Rollins made his case to Kurt Angle that he should be added to the match, and he was – making it a fatal-5-way. There was controversy in the finish, as both Finn Balor and Seth Rollins had Wyatt pinned for a three count. Both men won the match, so Kurt Angle announced that at Elimination Chamber, as well as having the first ever women’s Chamber match, for the first time ever there would be seven men competing inside the steel structure!
Despite once again arguably the biggest WWE story this week happening off-screen (bye Enzo!), this week saw Raw25 take place, as well as the final build-up to NXT’s TakeOver: Philadelphia and, of course, the Royal Rumble on Sunday. So what went down? I’ve collated the main happenings from the week, and put them all together in one, easy to manage round-up.
A New Intercontinental Champion? Awesome…
We knew going in to Raw25 that Roman Reigns would be defending the Intercontinental Championship, and really if you’ve been reading online reports at any time in the last 10 months you probably had a fair idea that Roman Reigns would be losing the title on Monday night. And he did. And it was relatively clean too! Sure Miz used an exposed turnbuckle, which was brilliantly set up so subtly earlier in the match, but the Miztourage never got involved. Though, perhaps more accurately, they were never allowed to, as Reigns always struck first. Still, it will be interesting to see if there is a rematch, and how clean the finish will be should it turn out that way. If not, the awesome reign of the most must see champion in WWE history looks like it might be here to stay.
Wrestling is an incredibly dynamic industry where everything can change in a matter of days – if not hours – and 2017 has really typified that in WWE. From wholesale roster changes, to walk outs and injuries, you can never predict what’s going to happen next, not that I won’t keep trying. As the year draws to a close, what better opportunity than to look back and reflect on the memorable moments WWE gave us in 2017?
This is the second part of this look back at 2017, read the first here: January – March
NXT TakeOver: Orlando – The Authors of Pain eliminate the competition
2017 has seen a real resurgence of a tag team division in NXT. American Alpha, The Revival and DIY had been having great feature matches, but there was no real depth to the divisions. There is now. And on Wrestlemania weekend, once again the tag team stars shone bright. The Authors of Pain, The Revival and DIY put on one hell of a match that went for 20 minutes before the first elimination. They told a wonderful story of DIY and The Revival, bitter rivals in 2016, needing to team up to take out the defending champions. This may have been WWE’s match of the weekend, which was no mean feat.
Here we pick up my fantasy booking of the SmackDown men’s division through to Wrestlemania 34. Read part 1 here for the stories so far and the general ground rules underpinning this whole thing, but here’s a brief summary of where we got to:
- Shinsuke Nakamura is WWE Champion, with Baron Corbin owed a rematch
- Kevin Owens is United States Champion, with AJ Styles never getting a US Title match against him again
- Randy Orton has had a poor six months, with questions over whether he can still win a big match, and will address his future on the next SmackDown
- Team SmackDown just lost the Raw vs SD 5on-5 elimination match at Survivor Series
And so we pick up two nights after Survivor Series. Strap in, it’s a long ride!
November 21st, SmackDown
Results: Baron Corbin defeats Sin Cara by pinfall, Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger defeat Jinder Mahal & Rusev by pinfall (Dillinger pins Rusev), AJ Styles defeats Mike Kanellis by pinfall
Promos: – Post-victory, Baron Corbin demands his WWE Title rematch. (Danel Bryan later grants this for the next PPV, Roadblock.)
– Backstage post-victory, AJ Styles says in an interview that the reason Team SmackDown lost at Survivor Series was Baron Corbin. Styles challenges Corbin to a match next week on SmackDown, saying Corbin isn’t the only one who want to be WWE Champion.
– Randy Orton makes his way to the ring for the main event segment. Orton says he knows he let people down at Survivor Series. It was embarrasing, and it was one of the lower points of his career. 2017 started out so well, but it’s turned into a trainwreck. He’s starting to wonder if he’s still cut out to be a player on SmackDown. Continue reading
I’m quite often coming up with booking ideas in my columns – x can work with y, z should turn face/heel. But it’s easy to be an armchair booker like that without giving much thought to the details of the feud, and how it impacts the rest of the roster. So with a couple of ideas in mind, I set myself the challenge of booking SmackDown’s men’s division from now through to Wrestlemania 34 – detailing each week what I would actually do, how I would have storylines progress, giving an idea as to what would be said in promos, that kind of thing. I’m going to set it out by giving the night’s match results plainly, explaining what would be said in promos, then giving further storyline context or justification if I feel it’s warranted. Continue reading
The Money in the Bank briefcase has launched the careers of many a WWE superstar over the years into the stratosphere. It bridged the gap between upper mid-carder and main eventer, and led to greats like Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan winning their first World Championships in WWE. Not every briefcase holder has been a success (Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow), and even two little known wrestlers called Randy Orton and John Cena have won Money in the Bank matches, but since they’re little more than footnotes in history we’ll move on quickly from them. Regardless of the blemishes on the record though, holding the MitB briefcase is a sign that WWE higher ups have faith in you to deliver big as and when required. Tonight, we find out who the latest man to write their name in the history books will be.
This will be the same format as the preview of the women’s match I posted earlier, where I look at how to make each individual the star of the match, and then assess their chances of winning and being able to call themselves Mr Money in the Bank for the foreseeable future. Without further adieu… Continue reading
As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!
WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©
So with it being Wrestlemania week, I thought I’d try and up the ante a bit. Usually I pick one match out of a PPV line-up and talk about the build-up, how it could play out and where it could go from there. But with this being the biggest card in recent memory with potentially 14 matches on the card (I mean so, many, matches), and it being Wrestlemania, I can’t pick just one. So I’m going to try and look at one match a day all week leading up to Wrestlemania. Starting with… Baron Corbin vs Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship!
Is it just me or has this match had the worst build out of them all for this Sunday? It’s just been so… forgettable. They still have one more shot to do something big tomorrow night, but so far that’s the word I’d use. There has been something every week, Corbin getting the upper hand most weeks, until last time round where Ambrose cost Corbin a match against Randy Orton. That wasn’t actually too bad to see, as it protected Corbin in an inevitable loss against the challenger to the WWE Championship at the biggest show of the year. Continue reading