It’s mid-2019. We’re closer now to 2020 than we are to the distant memories of 2018. It’s 2019 and Drake Maverick, his befuddled new wife and Kevin Owens are the saviors of WWE, which, by my reckoning, is a sentence nobody thought they would read in 2019 (or any year for that matter). We look back at RAW and SmackDown this past week with our newest feature, Platform 3:16. All aboard.
This week is the run-in for Sunday’s Extreme Rules PPV. A PPV which amongst other certain bangers has an internet destroying winner-take-all title match, an actual legitimate could happen couldn’t happen challenge to Kofi’s title, Braun & Bobby’s fun to watch power-move-fest and importantly Aleister Black’s mystery knocker match against…Cesaro?! (please be good. Please be good. Please). So how does the WWE peak our interest? How does Vinny Mac drag us kicking and screaming to the PPV? Well, truthfully, in a word, curiosity.
RAW FIRST CLASS:
Despite its glamorous wrestlers littered throughout the current garbage content, the cringe-inducing 24/7 title chase showcases the lack of actual F’s given now by Vinny Mac for quality content, and in WWE’s lack of gripping storylines he has mistakenly stumbled upon a hidden gem. In between the poop jokes and schoolyard insults we have genuinely funny 24/7 title skits that are now totally self-aware, keeping our attention and investing us in the story.
Just how ridiculous can this get before it’s ruined? Surely Vinny doesn’t see the value in this? Week by week it’s gold. R-Truth losing his mind as best he can – this week carrying a referee on his shoulders after emerging from the box beneath him. Drake’s wife realizing she’s now a feature on TV so decided to spruce herself up to the point that she’s primed and ready for a Total Divas cameo. EC3 absolutely killing it in the 1-second-per-week-opportunity he receives from Vinny (this week running at the very back of the pack and nonchalantly shrugging at the camera as he bimbles past – perfection).
Other key highlights from RAW this week I would like to propose for your consideration– as they are almost never unanimous – are (i) Shane O’ Mac successfully inducing hate in to our veins for the man, and (ii) Cedric Alexander’s quite convincing janitor-turn-flippy-dude performance against Shane O’, aka Gary "The GOAT" Garbutt.
RAW SECOND CLASS:
Ricochet beat 2 out of 3 Club members in a really strong performance. However, this did dent the legitimacy of The Club as 2 members were quite easily taken down one after the other.
Paul Heyman, as annoying as ever but with true threat of the incoming Lesnar - very much reminiscent of the White Walkers in GoF – everyone is a bit worried but just knows they’ve got a good few seasons/PPV’s before it actually happens. Spoiler, SummerSlam.
Rollins & Lynch beat Vega & Andrade, but there are already cracks showing in the weird power couple. A real couple, who are less convincing than any fictional couple on the product. The WrestleMania appeal of both champions I can now confirm is all gone, caput.
RAW THIRD CLASS:
Nikki Cross is not convincing as a threat – almost comical as she portrays a wee-crazy-ladee!
RAW had a weird 1 hour or so where it turned in to Squash City. Viking Raiders, Cesaro & Lashley back-to-back squashed their opponents. Why do we care anymore? Are we really needing these pointless matches a few days out from a PPV event?
RAW WAITING AREA:
Not far behind the sheer class of the 24/7 title mass game of tag, comes the almost absent but ever-present Bray Wyatt. From what was goofy skits-turned-dark which grabbed everybody’s attention have now found their way off-screen and into the backstage area of WWE live TV. The worry of course is that Vinny will pounce on this and destroy any momentum Bray has quite clearly built himself. Soon enough the reformed character will have to stop lurking behind blind wrestlers in the backstage and come out to the ring. Soon enough the production trucks big-budget skits and pre-taped promos will have to stand in the ring and attempt to be as captivating. Soon enough we’ll know whether Bray is a real threat to a top title, of if he’s going to be a flop once we “let him in”. With SummerSlam looming, Bray has just one chance to showcase this character without a having a Shockmaster moment – here’s hoping that the new Heyman/Bischoff regime can truly deliver on one of the most interesting fictional characters to come from the WWE since perhaps, ironically, Bray Wyatt himself!
SMACKDOWN FIRST CLASS:
Kevin Owens opened up Smackdown with what had a CM Punk feel to it, shooting on the WWE (less about Vinny, more about Shane O’ for storyline). To be fair to Owens, I agreed with everything he said, the crowd agreed, and I am sure all the talent agreed. A hot angle, which hopefully ends with an Owens victory. If you want to get a Superstar over as a babyface in this, the “social media era”, the easiest way to do it is to have them repeat the same frustrations fans are expressing. Owens nailed it.
As for the overall show – SmackDown delivered as a true go-home show before the PPV. Yes, there was some repetition with what happened on RAW, but the cogs were turning here and successfully bought us in to the idea of some of Sunday’s matches.
SMACKDOWN SECOND CLASS:
Nakamura beat the current IC Champ Finn Balor…clean. This match is about 2 years too late as Nakamura has become a leather clad angry chap who loves a low blow and Balor has become a smiley man from Ireland instead of the man we once saw as the Universal champion.
Samoa Joe is a true threat to Kofi. Should he win? Yes. Will he win? No. I saw this because Extreme Rules is no place for grown men to cry as Kofi’s title run comes to an end. That is a moment for SummerSlam.
The Iconics are hilarious. That is all.
Daniel Bryan is keeping the SmackDown Tag Titles alive. He takes it seriously. He doesn’t throw pancakes. It’s a shame he’s partnered with a banter-less Rowan, but I guess it adds to the tag title scene for a moment that there’s a bloke who can literally chuck everyone around and almost requires tag-team moves to take him out.
Otis is a quirky large man, and I for one love it. On the mic, in the ring, he’s fantastic. He makes no sense, and a man that large shouldn’t be able to do a perfect worm (caterpillar) let alone be as flexible. But he is.
SMACKDOWN THIRD CLASS:
Dolph Ziggler is really annoying, not in a good way – who’s with me?
Where I gave some credit to Shane O’ for his RAW antics – twice a week, as heavily as he’s on TV, it gets too much. Just mere months ago, we had the entire McMahon family in the ring telling us all that things are going to change, and wrestlers are going to be given chances and the product is going in a new direction and we must all tune in! Fast forward to now, and we have a McMahon (Shane) literally in every single hour of WWE TV. It’s exhausting, it’s not what we asked for or wanted, and it must change soon with ratings ever-dropping.
See above… Nikki Cross is not convincing and shouldn’t be on TV.
Bayley is the worst on the microphone, just, the worst.
I promise I’m not hating on ALL the women’s division, but this Smackdown wasn’t the best (Iiconics excluded). Paige is awful too. The Kabuki Warriors are stale before they’ve even been delivered, and Paige is a strange, very strange, woman with far too much makeup on with vocal chords indecisive about where in the world she comes from.
Yeah, about what I said above…Ember Moon with her silly red contact lenses scares absolutely nobody and is also not convincing. Poor showing.
SMACKDOWN WAITING AREA:
There’s nothing too much outside of the product I can see incoming. Where we have the looming Bray Wyatt threat more apparent on RAW, we don’t truly have something aside from the PPV to look forward to on SmackDown. Which is not a bad thing. They’ve wrapped up storylines into nice chunks awaiting the payoff on Sunday, and the rumors that Bischoff will begin to run the show from next week in some capacity certainly has out attention.
RAW (Monday 8th July 2019)
- Lynch and Rollins def. Vega and Andrade by submission and pinfall with back-to-back eliminations (in a stupid elimination match that made no sense).
- Paul Heyman threatens a cash-in.
- The Usos and Miz def. The Revival and Elias by pinfall in a 2 out of 3 match.
- Lashley def. Mysterio by pinfall in 56 seconds.
- Cesaro def. No Way Jose by submission.
- Viking Raiders def. local competitors by pinfall.
- Ricochet def. Gallows by pinfall; Ricochet def. Anderson by pinfall.
- Bayley def. Logan by pinfall in 4:32; Nikki Cross def. Brooke by pinfall in 3:20 to beat the clock.
- McIntyre and Shane O’ def. Reigns and Janitor/Alexander by pinfall.
SMACKDOWN (Tuesday 9th July 2019)
- Kevin Owens drop a pipe bomb.
- Nakamura def. Balor (clean) in a non-title match.
- Nikki Cross & Bayley contract signing.
- Nikki Cross def. Carmella
- Tag Team Summit (whatever that meant) featuring Heavy Machinery, New Day, and Daniel Bryan and Rowan.
- Otis def. Bryan and Woods in a triple threat.
- Reigns defeated Ziggler.
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