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WWE Weekly Review (Raw & SmackDown Live): 8/1 – 8/2

Sam BrooksAugust 3rd, 2016Blog, News, The Suplah Reviews1 Comment »

WWE Raw 8/1

WWE Raw (August 1st Edition) – Grade: B+

Raw kicks off with a “Last Week…” video package, which surprised me. Usually, the “Last Week on Raw” festivities are saved for SmackDown. I’m glad that they took initiative with this, although I doubt it’ll be consistent. Sasha Banks and Charlotte open Raw, trading sick burns with each other. Things get weird when Chris Jericho and Enzo Amore appear, leading to a mixed-gender tag match being booked by Mick Foley. As this segment goes, the mic work set the bar for the night, despite the segment dragging on for a bit too long. Kevin Owens comes out for commentary to thunderous applause from Reddit, claiming that he’s there to entertain the audience after the last promo. Dana Brooke comes out and fails to distract Banks, but a slap to Chris Jericho distracts the champ long enough to let Charlotte get the victory. Jericho codebreaks Enzo, and Big Cass makes the save to end this solid opening segment.

Braun Strowman quickly murders a jobber for the second week in a row, whilst Andy complains in the background. I personally think the way WWE executes these segments (and jobbers) is pretty entertaining. With Byron interviewing the jobbers whilst Braun walks to the ring, we get to know why these matches are happening, and I think it’s a great way to build up Strowman whilst he gets better in the ring. Following this, The Golden Truth enter the ring, with R-Truth’s new “Pokemon Go addict” gimmick already wearing thin, for a match with the Shining Stars. The Puerto-Ricans get the win to no reception, and I struggle to care. As a side note, Ellie’s reaction to me telling her about Truth’s new gimmick was, simply, “fuck”.

Cole is in the ring, introducing Finn Balor for an interview. Before anything of note can be said, out comes Seth Rollins to chat some shit and hype their SummerSlam match. Rollins makes a dated reference to the new Ghostbusters movie, and Balor eventually kicks him out of the ring – white-meat babyface Balor is boring, but he’s still quality on the mic. United States Champion Rusev vs Mark Henry is next, wherein Rusev barks at JoJo to be introduced first, leading me to question if Rusev knows how this all works. Henry loses, and Rusev brags on the mic before being interrupted by Roman Reigns. Assuming they have a match at SummerSlam, let’s see what the “Roman Should Face Rusev before Challenging for the World Title” camp says about it, two years later. I’m laughing/crying at the thought of Reigns winning.

“Directionless” Darren Young runs into “Tedious” Titus O’Neil backstage, where O’Neil makes the same joke everyone’s made about Young a thousand times (you know the one, you’ve also made it before, don’t lie), leading to a match between the two. O’Neil picks up the dirty victory by pulling the tights. Later on backstage, we see Backlund yelling at O’Neil, with Young decking him. Looks like these two are on the way to SummerSlam, and I just want Young to pick up the win. An impressive Nia Jax squash match/interview rounds off the second hour.

New Day quickly defeat Gallows and Anderson in a tag match, but the Club members beat them up after the bell, so really… nobody wins here, do they? Sheamus and Cesaro have a match to impress Foley and Steph, booked earlier in the night by the former, which Cesaro wins. But we don’t even CARE about that, because everybody’s favourite forgettable jobber from 2010 returns, as Jinder Mahal re-debuts on Raw alongside the Hottest Free Agent of the Century, Heath Slater. Foley books a match between the two with a contract on the line, which Slater objects to because “the band is strong”. Mahal then kicks the fuck out of Slater’s head to earn himself a Raw contract. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.

Jericho is interviewed backstage, ripping into Enzo and Cass, but not before saying they need to watch out for his “backup” (which totally exists). After being called out on who that is, Jericho utters the name “Jimmin Marvinluder”, the “toughest guy west of Winnipeg”… he’s clearly an up and comer from NXT, right? Kevin Owens walks in and tells him that Marvinluder doesn’t exist, and says he has Jericho’s back. No clue where this is going, but two great promos together can’t be a bad thing. Rollins comes out for the main-event match against Sami Zayn, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. Rollins picks up a clean win, as he should.

The show ends with Brock Lesnar and “the Wise Old Jew” Paul Heyman doing their usual routine that nobody gets tired of. Surprisingly, SmackDown superstar Randy Orton RKO’s Lesnar, and is chased off by security. Now, I’m sure everybody’s already complaining that “this defies the point of the brand split”, but a key thing to note is that they made it a point that Orton was not supposed to be there. It’s not like when the brands merged before and nobody called it out; this time we’re led to believe that it’s a big problem. Also, how else are these guys going to build their SummerSlam match? Raise your hand if you legitimately wanted Lesnar and Orton to feud without ever looking at each other, over the course of 4 weeks. In my eyes, this was an effective finish to a strange edition of Raw.

 

WWE SmackDown Live

WWE SmackDown Live (2nd August Edition) – Grade: B

SmackDown immediately starts with a backstage segment; Shane disciplines Orton for his actions on Raw whilst Bryan laughs, and we get a shot of the security guards hired to protect Orton tonight. Orton exits and Miz shows up, demanding “respect”. Bryan books a match between Baron Corbin, Kalisto, and Apollo Creed (yes, Creed) in a number one contender’s triple-threat match for the IC Title. This was a nice, succinct way to kick off SmackDown.

Ambrose and Ziggler exchange heated words in a strong promo, with Dean partially heeling it up, and Ziggler being good on the mic as always. Not that I’m a fan of Ziggler all of a sudden, I’m still not big on him, but I appreciate the establishment of top contenders. The segment ends with Bray Wyatt dropping Ziggler with a Sister Abigail, challenging Ziggler’s claim to the title, setting up a match between them in the main event. Miz is on commentary for the triple-threat match, in which Crews picks up the win after rolling up Kalisto. A weak finish to an otherwise short match, but I can’t complain about Crews picking up a win here. A brawl erupts after the match ends, with Corbin standing tall after hitting Miz with the End of Days… slightly confusing that Crews didn’t end the segment unharmed, being that he just won a shot at a championship.

Becky Lynch and Eva Marie have a match, which never actually starts due to Eva Marie feigning a leg injury. With Eva’s new entrance and this fuckery, it’s a sign that WWE know what to do with Eva after all this time, and it can only mean better things from here on out. Renee Young asks Carmella’s thoughts on this, and Natalya interrupts to set up a match between the two. We later see Carmella make her entrance for this match, only to be attacked by Natalya on the entrance ramp. These segments set up some much-needed depth to the Women’s Division on SmackDown.

American Alpha defeats the Vaudevillains in their SmackDown debut. Whilst the Vaudevillains have tragically fallen to Ascension levels way too fast to even register, it’s good to see one of the best tag teams in recent memory get their momentum going on their first day. AJ Styles and John Cena have a heated promo battle, officially confirming their SummerSlam rematch, and I enthusiastically hope that Cena’s SummerSlam losing streak continues. A one-sided Fandango vs Randy Orton match is interrupted by Brock Lesnar, who jumps over the barricade and F5’s Orton. Shane and Bryan arrive to eject Lesnar. So far so good with the build to this match – it piques my curiosity as to what else they can do to advance this feud.

SmackDown’s security is further made a mockery of when the Hottest Free Agent of the Century, Heath Slater, walks in through the back door. Bryan books Slater in a match for a contract against Rhyno, who appears from nowhere to gore Slater. This is hands down the most entertaining storyline of the New Era thus far. Ambrose is out for the main event between Ziggler and Wyatt, which ends with Ziggler getting the win. Afterwards, he is randomly assaulted by Erick Rowan. Ambrose comes to Ziggler’s aid, but they are both shut down by the Family. If the Wyatt family have reformed, but it only consists of Wyatt and Rowan, I’d rather have no Wyatt family at all.

 

WWE SmackDown Live Ziggler vs Wyatt

Overall Grade: B+

Not quite as strong as last week’s shows, but I feel that the quality still hasn’t dropped off to a noticeably low level. Whilst there are some nitpicks in the structure of SmackDown, I think that it’s a lot easier to watch than Raw (which is a no-brainer, considering the lengths of both shows). NXT still sits atop the mountain as the best show WWE has, on par with the CWC, but overall there aren’t too many major complaints… except for one. The commentary of SmackDown is awful. Something about Ranallo’s forced cultural references, JBL’s existence and Otunga’s lack of anything discernible, it’s a recipe for disappointment each time. Something can be learned from Raw, which has the better commentary team. However, the build to SummerSlam is already looking really good, and it’s only been two weeks. With a large mix of new challengers and exciting matches to come at the PPV, it’s definitely something to be excited for.

What are your thoughts on Raw and SmackDown? Agree or disagree with my opinions? Comment below!

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  • JSN

    Great review Sam. I can honestly say that between Raw and Smackdown, Raw in my opinion is definitely the better of the two brands at the moment. My reasoning for this choice is the simple fact that Stephanie and Mick so far have stayed true to their word that they were going to put more focus on the superstars instead of the management, whilst Bryan and Shane said that they would do the same and so far they have appeared in more backstage segments than Steph and Mick in the past two weeks of this supposed ” new era “. As King Ross from What Culture would say: ” New era, same old shit “. In other news, there’s a rumor floating around that after Smackdown! Live this past Tuesday Daniel Bryan was interviewed on a radio show and he apparently let it slip that Smackdown will be getting its own tag team and women’s titles.

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