This week we began with Raw, as per usual, and it's kind of funny because even as I type these things about Raw and think about them, I realize most of them are going to go into my Extreme Rules Predictions as well and this won't even be published before Sunday. So, as I sit here on the Thursday before Extreme Rules typing this I want to say hello to the Monday or Tuesday after Payback- whenever I get around to posting this. I hope Extreme Rules was good!
(I actually went through that whole paragraph the first time saying "Payback" instead of "Extreme Rules". Perhaps WWE is not pushing their PPV titles well enough or something. I don't know-- I just keep thinking "Payback is this Sunday!" even though I somehow know it to be "Extreme Rules")
Raw opened with AJ Styles and Roman Reigns and why not. They talked until Gallows & Anderson came out, but Reigns and The Usos got the jump on Styles and this was all a short burst of action after what felt like way too much talking. I just want this match to be over with so both men can move onto something else, and yet, I'm not sure either of them will.
Sami Zayn was supposed to face Cesaro one on one next, but both Kevin Owens and The Miz were at ringside so you know how that ended. Shane McMahon came out and booked a heels vs. faces tag team match, but then Stephanie came out and said it'd be better if it was Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro/The Miz. Stephanie also said that if Kevin Owens walked out on Sami Zayn then he shouldn't bother showing up Sunday for the Fatal 4 Way. This was a good tag team match for what it was, but putting the four men who will face each other into a match where they have to work together just feels silly this close to the PPV. Sami Zayn ended up getting the pin (which means he won't be winning on Sunday) and then Kevin Owens still took him out after the match. I actually wouldn't mind seeing a Tag Team Title run for Owens/Zayn as the sort of reluctant partners who somehow make it work and keep winning despite not liking each other.
Speaking of tag team, The Shining Stars (Primo & Epico) defeated who WWE.com called Scott Jackson & Brian Kennedy but who I call enhancement talent. My only question with The Shining Stars is how they fit into the Tag Team Title picture right now. New Day have the gold and will be defending it against The Vaudevillains, but you have to believe Enzo & Cass are also in line for a shot. If both teams didn't appear to be heels, a feud with The Dudleys would be good for The Shining Stars until moving into the title picture, but I don't know. Are there really any solid tag teams right now for The Shining Stars to feud with? I suppose if Kalisto loses the US Title to Rusev then Lucha Dragons could be a great feud. Yeah, let's go with that. Also, I'm in favor of whatever brings Carlito back and I do believe this will lead to his eventual return.
Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose set up an Asylum Match for Extreme Rules and boy does that make me wish that Raven was in WWE to feud with Dean Ambrose right now.
Dana Brooke defeated Becky Lynch and Tyler Breeze & Fandango defeated The Golden Truth but those matches were cut out of the Hulu 90 minute replay.
The New Day traveled back in time and it was kind of funny when Kofi Kingston came out and had his old gimmick. I think going back to when Big E was with Dolph Ziggler or Xavier Woods was with R-Truth would have been too weird though. Nice attack by The Vaudevillains though, which makes you think they could win it at Extreme Rules.
The Usos defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and I just want this AJ Styles-Roman Reigns match/feud to be over with already.
Big Cass defeated D-Von Dudley but it was cut from the Hulu 90 minute replay.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Kalisto as Rusev punished Sin Cara in the back and ADR made Kalisto watch it. So... If ADR and Rusev were kind of working together does it mean the League of Nations isn't really broken up in full? And why won't WWE go back to Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara since Hunico became Sin Cara?
Charlotte and Natalya closed the show with their contract signing and when Ric Flair wanted to fight Shane McMahon, Stephanie slapped Ric instead. If this leads to Shane McMahon vs. Ric Flair, Shane needs to get a Geezer Killer gimmick.
There wasn't a lot to be said about Impact this week. DJ Z had a good showing as a tag team partner with Eddie Edwards, taking on HurriHelms' boys. Velvet Sky lost to Sienna and now is fired from TNA, which is actually a good thing. The main event between Drew Galloway and Lashley in a lumberjack match broke down into chaos and, oh yeah, Matt Hardy revealed himself to be the other Willow and so it looks like Matt vs. Jeff is still going. I'll give a shout out to Sienna for ridding us of Velvet Sky and DJ Z for having quite the night but otherwise this show was lacking a lot and felt more like the build to a PPV (such as the week leading up to it, which is what WWE is doing right now) than an actual show which could have conclusions.
It is worth noting that the 5/11/16 edition of ROH TV was a preview for Global Wars, which of course most of us had already watched before it even aired, and after that- the 5/18/16 show- was a tribute to Jay Lethal. So we spent a minimal time watching ROH TV this week.
After our lack of ROH TV was found out we watched last week's episode of WWE Main Event, which featured both Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin, so it was an all right episode but not worth writing too much about. We mainly watched it to catch up and because we were caught up otherwise until that point (Which means we were waiting for new episodes of NXT and Lucha Underground, basically)
NXT opened with Blake & Murphy vs. Austin Aries and a mystery partner. Aries chose Shinsuke Nakamura as his partner and it was an interesting choice. After the match, which Aries & Nakamura won, Aries and Nakamura just kind of celebrated together, though I somewhat expected Aries to attack Nakamura because they both debuted on the same event and Aries could claim that it feels like Nakamura is stealing his thunder. Maybe I just watch too much wrestling but I was waiting for the double cross by Austin Aries. Also, when the match was over and BAMF lost, Alexa Bliss walked out on them. In League of Nations disbanding style, Blake then walked out next. I think. Maybe it was Murphy. I can't tell them apart, and if they're splitting up the team it might be for the best so they can have some individual identity. I get that The Usos are twins so my not being able to tell them apart is okay, but on average I like to be able to tell tag teams apart. American Alpha is easy enough to tell apart because I feel like I've been watching Jason Jordan forever. I'm slowly beginning to tell Dash & Dawson apart, which is good. But Blake and Murphy just look too similar to me and they could be a credible tag team down the line, sure, but having them forge their own identities might be best for a little bit first.
The second match on NXT this week saw Carmella defeat Peyton Royce. I recently started buying WWE Topps cards again and Peyton Royce was one of the cards I got in one of my first packs. I feel like there is that shift in NXT right now- with the women- and Peyton Royce being on television, even if she is losing, is good because one day she'll be the one winning and another newer woman will be on the losing end. Corey Graves said at one point that Peyton Royce reminded him of a certain Batman villain, which I assume he was referring to Poison Ivy, but was there a reason why he didn't mention her by name? Is it a copyright thing? In any case, I think Peyton Royce could get herself a fan base soon enough and be on the top of the women's division in NXT. It's just nice to be able to see the shifting within NXT and how the talent- not just women, but everyone- goes from their introduction to what will hopefully one day be them as champion.
In the "Are They or Aren't They?" this week, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa defeated Danny Burch and Rob Ryzin. So... If this tag team is defeating two wrestlers who don't get a lot of television time, then does that mean they're signed with WWE or what? Because I feel like they are, but then they also are doing things outside of WWE still, and so I just don't know. Then again, I'm not even sure whether or not Eric Young and/or Bobby Roode have signed with WWE, but I don't really care when it comes to those two. I just like watching Gargano & Ciampa even if the ring announcer cannot pronounce "Ciampa" properly.
William Regal announced that due to the growing tag team division both in NXT and moving up to the main roster, The Revival would challenge for the tag titles again at the next Take Over event against American Alpha. So, basically, a rematch. It was also announced that Samoa Joe would defend the NXT Championship against Finn Balor inside a steel cage, the first ever steel cage match in NXT history. So that's kind of a rematch but not quite the same and so this card based upon two matches already looks decent because I feel like American Alpha and The Revival could headline every Take Over special for the rest of the year and I'd be fine with it.
The main event of NXT this week saw Nia Jax defeat Bayley. This was interesting if only because everyone wants to know when Bayley is going to ask Asuka for her rematch (I would assume at the next Take Over event, since that seems to be the rematch show of sorts now) and yet I think Bayley is scared, so by Nia Jax getting this win here it should at least put her into consideration for the title picture. Asuka vs. Bayley vs. Nia Jax at Take Over would be a great match. Eventually though, I could even see them doing a Fatal Four Way and adding Carmella in as well. Either way, this at least makes things more interesting for the next Take Over event because it should stand as something more than just a rematch between Asuka and Bayley.
We didn't get to Smack Down! or the newest episode of Main Event before Extreme Rules, so we're likely just going to skip at least Smack Down! from this past week (maybe watch Main Event later if we have time) We also haven't watched a new Lucha Underground from last week yet either, but we'll likely just watch two back-to-back next week because Lucha Underground feels like it is best when watched all at once sometimes, without having to wait a week for answers.
Extreme Rules was really a disaster of a show, from start to finish, with the only bright spot being the return of Seth Rollins. Rusev won the U.S. Title so he can drop it to Cena on Memorial Day, The Miz retained as did New Day-- no surprises there. And even Dana Brooke helped out Charlotte as I thought she might. That Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho match was one of the most boring things I have ever experienced in my life and that includes going to the DMV. If you ever want to torture your enemies have them wait at the DMV while watching that match. They won't last two minutes.
What bothers me about Extreme Rules- though I understand why it has to be done- is that when AJ Styles was going crazy cleaning the ring of the Usos and hitting Roman Reigns at the same time with a chair, he kept hitting them in the back. I know that chair shots to the head cause brain damage and all of that, but I just remember the days of ECW and even WWE where one solid chair shot to the head would have wiped the Usos out of the match. Yet, here we have them getting hit in the back and it just looks kind of silly. Not as silly of course as the fact that Roman Reigns took all those chair shots to the back and then was able to spear AJ Styles to retain the title, but still perhaps we need to do away with chair shots in professional wrestling if this is what they have become.
I'm going to close this week by saying something about Cody Rhodes asking for his WWE release. I never really saw Cody Rhodes as being bad at his job- I always thought he was a good character, whether he was The Dashing One, had a mustache for some reason or even more recently as Stardust. And yet, he's never really been that guy that I've looked at and gone, "Yeah, him... He needs to be WWE Champion". Now, we'll never really know what Cody Rhodes had planned in terms of character ideas and whether those could have taken him to the top or not. Some Stardust/Cody Rhodes split personality idea could have been the thing to carry him to the main event, but then again, Kane was doing that all too recently with The Authority against Seth Rollins. Ten years is a long time to spend in WWE without a shot at the WWE Championship. I'm not one to say whether or not WWE should have given Cody Rhodes a title shot but I do believe that there are those who can have successful careers in WWE without ever being WWE Champion. Recent Hall of Fame inductee The Godfather comes to mind. The fact that I'm neither really outraged by this nor accepting of it just goes to show you the clearest of truths: my indifference is the answer. To be fair, we never bought a Cody Rhodes action figure because he was just kind of someone who was there but we neither really liked nor disliked him. But, we were planning on getting a Stardust figure eventually though now that might not happen since he won't be on television any more.
The difference between Cody Rhodes and other WWE recent releases though is that Cody Rhodes could go anywhere and do anything he wants and he will succeed. He can come back to WWE stronger and better than before. (See: Luke Gallows) But not everyone has that level of talent or opportunity. A name like Ryback comes to mind immediately as being someone who could come back to WWE but only after eating humble pie and not after proving them wrong as I think Cody Rhodes could ultimately do.