Cody Rhodes on the origins and future of AEW
All Elite Wrestling has the professional wrestling business buzzing, and Cody Rhodes -- one of the key players in the new Khan family-backed promotion -- has a lot to say about AEW's origins and future plans.
Cody Rhodes on wrestler pay and insurance in All Elite Wrestling.
UK Performance Centre pushes WWE's global expansion forward
With the launch of its second major training facility, the WWE UK Performance Centre in London, the WWE's plans of global expansion took a major step forward.
Triple H: WWE's U.K. trainees are future Wrestlemania headliners
WWE's Triple H says the wrestling talent on display in the U.K. has the potential to main-event Wrestlemania in the future.
This week’s NXT TV main event saw Kassius Ohno defeat Keith Lee by nefarious means. Ohno's shady tactics brought out Matt Riddle, who looked for retribution, but Ohno quickly escaped the ring unscathed. The episode also featured an in-ring confrontation between Bianca Belair and NXT women’s champion Shayna Baszler, who was flanked by Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke. The segment concluded with Belair slapping the champ and bolting before the situation escalated any further. To round out this week’s in-ring action, Johnny Gargano defeated Humberto Carrillo, Dominik Dijakovic beat Adrian Jaoude and, in tag team action, the Street Profits picked up a win over the Metro Brothers. After the Street Profits won their match, they were ambushed by the three members of the Forgotten Sons.
Jaguars owners backing new wrestling venture
The Jaguars ownership group is backing a new wrestling group to compete with the WWE.
All Elite Wresting, the new wrestling promotion funded by the Khan family, the ownership group behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC, made a big splash on Tuesday. In addition to the core members of The Elite (Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks and Hangman Adam Page), the signings of a variety of stars were announced - most notably Chris Jericho and PAC (formerly WWE superstar Neville). Their debut event, Double or Nothing, will happen on May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
WWE breakout stars for 2019
Which wrestlers are poised for a strong push in 2019? Tim Fiorvanti runs down the WWE's options for some key players on the roster.
With less than two weeks to go until the Royal Rumble, Monday Night Raw bore witness to several dramatic changes in Memphis. Braun Strowman opened the show by chasing Baron Corbin around, and he ultimately smashed a window and tore the door off of Vince McMahon's limo in that pursuit. That confrontation ultimately cost Strowman his Universal championship match at the Royal Rumble, and started a mad scramble to find Brock Lesnar's challenger. Corbin, Finn Balor, John Cena and Drew McIntyre all threw their hats into the ring, but McMahon threw shade at Balor because of his size. After defeating Jinder Mahal midway through the night to retain his spot in the match, Balor ultimately pinned Cena in the middle of the ring to earn his shot at the Universal title -- a belt he held for exactly one day at its outset -- at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
While Sasha Banks hasn't been a major factor in the Raw women's championship picture for the better part of the last year-and-a-half, Monday's opening contest offered an opportunity to flash a lot of the swagger that's been missing from her presentation of late. After she and Ronda Rousey defeated Nia Jax and Tamina, Banks took exception to Rousey's post-match comments and pushed the Raw women's champion two weeks out from their title match in Phoenix. Nikki Cross helped her team (along with Natalya and Bayley) defeat the Riott Squad in her first match on Raw, and four of the other five promised debuts (Heavy Machinery, EC3 and Lacey Evans) appeared in a variety of segments throughout the show. Finally, the new WWE women's tag team titles were revealed during "A Moment of Bliss"; the first-ever champions will be crowned inside of the Elimination Chamber at the pay-per-view of the same name in February.
In one of his best performances since his return to WWE, Bobby Lashley won a triple threat match against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to become the Intercontinental champion. During his first run with WWE, Lashley was a two-time ECW champion and a one-time United States champ. Rounding out the night's action, The Revival beat the Lucha House Party in what was, finally, a two-on-two match.
Fire Up Your WWE Network
Greg and GREG celebrate a rare Friday night recording by discussing the week that was and watching The Main Event from February 3 1989. So fire up your WWE Network and enjoy yourself.
On a night in which all of SmackDown's heavy hitters were out in force, the biggest buzz coming out of Tuesday night was all about the match between Rey Mysterio and Andrade (no longer "Cien" Almas). Almas, the former NXT champion, once again showed what he's capable of when up against the best of what WWE has to offer by picking up a victory over Mysterio, a future WWE Hall of Famer, in an incredible display of lucha libre and other hybrid styles. Much of the rest of the show was focused outside of the ring, including a Mustafa Ali-Samoa Joe match that never started because Joe blindsided Ali before the bell ever rang. Additionally, the sloppy soap opera tale of Mandy Rose, Naomi and The Usos carried on and featured a fight inside of a hotel room. Finally, AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan brawled in the concourse of the Legacy Arena at The BJCC and went through a table of hot dogs.
Tuesday was also a night for wrestling in street clothes after impromptu challenges. Becky Lynch opened up SmackDown by out-proteining Otis Dozovic in the parking lot and then faced down SmackDown women's champion Asuka in the ring. The Iiconics interrupted the proceedings and each were subsequently defeated as Becky Lynch beat Peyton Royce and Asuka defeated Billie Kay. The Miz's birthday celebration for Shane McMahon was interrupted by The Bar, and The Miz took on a challenge of a match against Sheamus despite not being dressed for competition. The payoff was a Coast-to-Coast by Shane to Sheamus as The Miz held out a birthday cake over Sheamus' face.
NXT's Humberto Carrillo, AKA Ultimo Ninja in Mexico, answered Buddy Murphy's open challenge on 205 Live (now back on Tuesdays!). While he came up short, he put on a good show and will be part of the main 205 Live roster going forward. Also this week, Lio Rush picked up a win over Lince Dorado, and a triple threat was announced for next week between the challengers for Murphy's title at the Royal Rumble, Kalisto, Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami. (Photo from @WWE205Live)
Honoring 'Mean' Gene Okerlund
The first NXT U.K. TakeOver event, in Blackpool, was filled to the brim with tremendous action. James Drake and Zack Gibson defeated Moustache Mountain to become the first NXT U.K. tag team champions, Toni Storm beat Rhea Ripley to win the NXT U.K. women's championship and, in a lengthy, brutal main event, Pete Dunne outlasted Joe Coffey to retain the WWE U.K. championship and continue his 600-plus day reign with the title. Finn Balor filled in for Travis Banks and defeated his protege, Jordan Devlin, and Dave Mastiff best Eddie Dennis in a No DQ match.
There were also three major debuts for the NXT U.K. brand during Saturday's Takeover special. Mae Young Classic alumni Jazzy Gabert and Kay Lee Ray both appeared in the crowd in between matches, adding some major depth to the women's division. As the show appeared to be going of the air, WALTER -- the reigning PROGRESS champion, and former PWG and wXw champion -- went face-to-face with Pete Dunne. Adding WALTER, the 31-year-old Austrian giant, to the mix is a major coup for WWE.
On tonight’s episode of NXT TV, Johnny Gargano declared his intention to become a champion in 2019 and indicated that the North American championship was on his radar. That brought out the champ, Ricochet, who agreed to give Gargano a title shot. NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa and Aleister Black both interrupted and began to brawl. The distraction allowed Gargano to catch Ricochet with a super kick to the jaw. In the night’s main event, Adam Cole defeated the soon-to-be called up EC3. After the match, Cole’s Undisputed Era comrades ambushed EC3 until the War Raiders emerged to make the save. Also on the show, the duo of Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner beat Stanley Watts and Hector Kunsman while Bianca Belair defeated Nikki Cross, who will also be called up to the main roster in the near future.
Once again, the SmackDown women stole the show as Becky Lynch pinned Carmella to win a No. 1 contender’s triple-threat match that also included Charlotte Flair. While a predictable outcome, all three women had standout moments, and ultimately we’re getting the showdown everyone wants to see at the Royal Rumble. Is the timing right for Becky to reclaim the title? Perhaps not, but it’s almost impossible to see her losing cleanly given her off-the-charts popularity.
Didn’t think it was possible, but Daniel Bryan took his deranged, demented character to new depths Tuesday, notably opening the show by taunting the fans in the atrium of the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for being weak and submissive. Bryan then came into the ringside arena and was abruptly ambushed by R-Truth. The two would face off in the first bout of the night, with Bryan leveling his opponent with a running knee to face to secure a pretty quick win. But Bryan’s celebration would be short-lived, as AJ Styles emerged from the backstage area to attack the champ.
Great tag-team action Tuesday night, highlighted by Samoa Joe and Andrade “Cien” Almas, who beat Rey Mysterio and Mustafa Ali in an action-packed match, while The Bar took out The Usos, thanks to more soap opera tactics from Mandy Rose. But the biggest news came after that battle, when The Bar accepted a challenge from The Miz to face him and Shane McMahon for the SmackDown tag-team championship at the Royal Rumble. That showdown certainly adds intrigue to the first pay-per-view of 2019.
Hulk Hogan made a largely subdued appearance on Raw Monday night, with a few words before and after a touching video tribute to the late "Mean" Gene Okerlund. Hogan was one of several returns promoted on Monday night, as was John Cena. The show opened with a brawl between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley, which cleared out just before Cena put himself into the 2019 men's Royal Rumble match; that fed directly into a six-man tag team match with Cena, Rollins & Finn Balor taking on Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Dean Ambrose. Rollins pinned Ambrose, setting up a Falls Count Anywhere Intercontinental championship match to close the show, but Lashley got the last laugh as he cost Rollins the match and the title.
Ronda Rousey named Sasha Banks her most worthy potential challenger for the Royal Rumble during a rather choppy debut edition of Moment of Bliss, which led to Banks proving herself over Nia Jax in a physical match. Rousey-Banks is now locked in for the Rumble PPV. Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar stared at each other for a while, but Lesnar refused to do so much as step in the ring -- does that even technically qualify as a face-to-face? Running down the rest of Raw, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable beat The Revival in a lumberjack tag title match, although Scott Dawson's foot was clearly under the rope; Baron Corbin defeated Elias; and Ember Moon & Apollo Crews easily handled Alicia Fox & Jinder Mahal.
Rosenberg: Let me tell you something (about) Mean Gene
Peter Rosenberg reflects on the impact "Mean" Gene Okerlund had on his career and the world of professional wrestling.
WWE announced Friday that Hulk Hogan will appear on Monday Night Raw to pay tribute to the late "Mean" Gene Okerlund. Hogan recently returned to WWE airwaves for the first time in over three years to open up the WWE's Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia. Hogan last appeared on Monday Night Raw in March 2015.
WWE interviewer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund, 76, dies
"Mean" Gene Okerlund, one of the voices synonymous with professional wrestling as a host, in-ring announcer and interviewer since the mid-1980s, has died at the age of 76.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kenny Omega in the main event of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 13 show Friday at the Tokyo Dome to become an eight-time IWGP heavyweight champion. It was the final moment in a seismic shift for NJPW at Wrestle Kingdom, as all eight titles on the line changed hands, including Tetsuya Naito defeating Chris Jericho in a No DQ match for the IWGP intercontinental championship. Additionally, Jay White defeated NJPW icon Kazuchika Okada and likely elevated himself as the next man up to challenge for the heavyweight title. Uncertain but exciting times lie ahead for NJPW, with at least a few (and possibly more) departures for the new All Elite Wrestling promotion, as well as the always looming possibility of departures to the WWE. NJPW is in the midst of a major push into the United States, with a co-branded show at Madison Square Garden with Ring of Honor on April 6 and the announcement that they'll kick off their iconic annual G1 tournament at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on July 6, in addition to smaller-scale events in Los Angeles, Charlotte and Nashville over the next few weeks. (Image courtesy of NJPW/TV Asahi)
Rest Easy "Mean" Gene
The boys are back for 2019 to pay tribute to the great Gene Okerlund, talk about All Elite Wrestling, and do a 2018 year end BPR.
Lapsed WWE fan's 2018 year in review
If you missed any chunk of 2018 as a fan of WWE (or just wish you did), not to worry -- Greg Wyshynski wraps up the highs and lows of the year that was in professional wrestling.
AJ Styles won a Fatal 5-Way main event to earn another shot at Daniel Bryan and the WWE championship at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Phoenix. Styles defeated Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Mustafa Ali and Samoa Joe in that match; Joe defeated Jeff Hardy earlier in the night to earn the final spot in the No. 1 contender's match. Wrapping up the night's action, Sonya Deville defeated Naomi after a distraction from Mandy Rose.
Becky Lynch went toe-to-toe with a returning John Cena, before the pair ultimately teamed up to defeat Zelina Vega and Andrade "Cien" Almas. It was Cena's first match on broadcast TV since March. When offered a handshake post-match by Cena, Lynch smiled and performed Cena's signature "you can't see me" hand gesture.
Who was the 2018 wrestler of the year?
When it comes to professional wrestling in 2018, there was something for everyone. Because opinions about who was No. 1 varied so wildly among our panel, ESPN is recognizing a handful of performers who stood out among the rest.
On this week's episode of NXT TV, Matt Riddle continued his winning ways and picked up a submission victory over Kassius Ohno. After the match, Riddle offered Ohno a truce by way of fist bump. Ohno teased accepting the sign of peace, but responded by tossing Riddle into the ring post, the steel steps and laying him out with a roaring elbow. Ohno then lifted Riddle's limp arm for the fist bump.
In a video released at midnight pacific time via their Being the Elite YouTube channel, The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Cody Rhodes and "Hangman" Adam Page confirmed the existence of a long-rumored "All Elite Wrestling" promotion, as well as a logo for an event called "Double or Nothing" -- a follow-up to their massively successful All In independent event in September 2018. Subsequent social media posts announced an event for Jan. 8 in Jacksonville at TIAA Bank Field -- the stadium in which the Jaguars play. Tony Khan, part of the Khan family that owns both the Jaguars and English Premier League side Fulham FC, was tagged in several of those posts and has been closely tied to recent rumors about the promotion, as well as several trademarks filed in recent months.
Intergender wrestling: Equality for women, or violence against them?
The optics of intergender wrestling can be shocking. But those who participate say pitting women against men in the ring is a step toward equality.
Shawn Michaels continuing to live his dream at WWE Performance Center
WWE icon Shawn Michaels is giving back to the world of professional wrestling in his role with NXT and the WWE Performance Center. Now training the next generation of stars, he loves having a hand in shaping the future of the business.
Wrestling isn't the same for Daniel Bryan in 2018 ... it's better
As expectations for him continue to soar, Daniel Bryan is just thankful to be back in the WWE ring and doing what he loves once again.
No one who missed out on the New Year's Eve edition of Monday Night Raw will be lost come this time next week, but they did miss some compelling wrestling. Drew McIntyre was the big winner of the evening after a tremendous performance inside of a steel cage against Dolph Ziggler. In what felt like the final chapter of their lengthy match, McIntyre won decisively and then went back for seconds and thirds to devastate Ziggler and prove himself as a major player heading into 2019. At worst, McIntyre is a dark horse for the men's Royal Rumble match with a world of opportunity ahead of him in the year to come.
WWE took their second or third big swing with Apollo Crews Monday night on Raw, as he impressed in both the battle royal to determine the No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental championship and the subsequent title match against Dean Ambrose later in the show (although Crews ultimately lost). Seth Rollins was pushed over the edge by the combination of a confrontation with Triple H and Lio Rush's interference in Rollins' match with Bobby Lashley -- a match that ended with Rollins crushing both men with a steel chair. Sasha Banks, Bayley & Ember Moon beat The Riott Squad, The Singh Brothers & Jinder Mahal beat Heath Slater & Rhyno and, in the main event, Ronda Rousey & Natalya defeated Tamina & Nia Jax.
Only on Rusev Day (and Christmas) would the Bulgarian Brute have his much-awaited moment. After months of drifting in and out of the spotlight -- despite his soaring popularity -- Rusev took down Shinsuke Nakamura to win the United States championship for the third time. If anything, this was some proof the McMahon's edict that they are listening to wishes of WWE Universe has some truth behind the words.
Shane McMahon and The Miz officially joined forces on Christmas night, much to the reluctance of Shane O'Mac, who told his new partner, "You'd better now screw me or else there will be major consequences, but let's give this a try." An unusual dynamic, for sure, but if SmackDown tag-team champions Cesaro and Sheamus can thrive together then anything is possible, no?
On a spirited Christmas edition of SmackDown Live, Gallows & Anderson -- who along with The Usos beat The Bar and SAnitY -- showed they are going to be contenders in 2019, while Jeff Hardy and Daniel Bryan each became unglued for different reasons. But outside of Rusev, this show belonged to Mustafa Ali. The former 205 Live star took care of Andrade "Cien" Almas in a high-flying, fun matchup. Kudos to Ali; it's just too bad his beaten opponent is being used as a stepping stone, when it seems this rivalry should be the payoff for both at a visible event to illustrate how dynamic they are as individuals and how much energy they can instill in the ring together.
Best Interviews Of 2018
As the calendar turns to the last days of 2018 Peter offers a Best Of 2018 show including interviews from Roman Reigns, HHH & Stephanie McMahon (14:00), and Aleister Black (41:00). Enjoy yourself!
The NXT tag team championships were on the line on this week’s episode of NXT TV. The champs, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong of the Undisputed Era, retained their titles against Heavy Machinery. In another match with championship implications, Bianca Belair won a fatal 4-way match against Io Shirai, Mia Yim and Lacey Evans to become the number one contender to the NXT women’s championship. Rounding out the show, Jaxson Ryker of the Forgotten Sons picked up a quick win over Mitch Taverna. On next week’s show, Matt Riddle will take on Kassius Ohno.
While it's natural not to expect much from a pre-taped holiday edition of Monday Night Raw, there was a lot to like from the Christmas Eve edition of the show. Most notably, Vince McMahon announced the creation of women's tag team championships, a long-rumored move that should offer more creative possibilities for increasingly deep women's roster. Additionally, Braun Strowman came out to the ring to confront Paul Heyman and guaranteed he'll be ready for his Royal Rumble Universal championship match against Brock Lesnar.
Running down the night's in-ring action: Elias defeated Bobby Lashley in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight, with Lashley taking a nasty fall onto a pile of Legos and Lio Rush getting dunked in eggnog. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable successfully defended their tag titles against The Revival. Finn Balor beat Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, while Sasha Banks, Bayley & Ember Moon defeated Mickie James, Alicia Fox & Dana Brooke. Ronda Rousey held onto her Raw women's championship via submission over Natalya, Heath Slater beat Jinder Mahal by DQ when Rhyno came back dressed as Santa and Seth Rollins closed out the show by beating Baron Corbin. Next week will feature the return of John Cena and a cage match between Ziggler and McIntyre.
What began as a Shane McMahon pep talk to the SmackDown roster prepping them for change, and then a couple appearances by Chairman Vince McMahon in the early stages of the show, evolved into a episode that exhibited, more than it has in a long time, the depth of its talent. While it’s largely unknown what the change means long term, we did get a sense that stars such as Rusev, Mandy Rose (who teamed with The Miz to beat R-Truth and Carmella in mere moments), Jeff Hardy and SAnitY (among others) will find much-deserved time in the spotlight in the coming weeks and months.
Neither Becky Lynch nor Charlotte Flair walked away from SmackDown Live with any clear direction -- or satisfaction for that matter. Despite airing out their frustration from Ronda Rousey’s interference at TLC, Mr. McMahon told them to suck it up and take action instead of whining. Hard to know exactly how or when Becky and Charlotte -- who were relegated to spectators as Asuka successfully defended her title against Naomi -- will get their hands on the Raw champ, but you have to imagine there will be some kind of showdown next month at the Royal Rumble.
If it’s energy and fresh blood SmackDown was hoping for, that’s exactly what they got in the main event of the night. Teaming with Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, respectively, Andrade “Cien” Almas and Mustafa Ali (who is now officially on the main roster) instilled some serious energy into the show. It ended when Ali perfectly executed an inverted 450 splash on the champ for the win. A really solid ending to what appears to be a new era in the WWE.
John Cena reflects on prospect of WWE retirement
As John Cena's WWE career appears to be starting its wind-down, he reflects on the prospect of retirement and the difficulty of balancing multiple careers.
John Cena talks post-WWE life and Patriots football
John Cena sits down to open up on his transition to acting, his interest in the Patriots and Rob Gronkowski as a wrestler.
In a TakeOver: War Games II rematch, Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano battled in this week’s NXT TV main event, this time inside of a steel cage. With the assistance of NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, who briefly reunited with Gargano to execute their meeting in the middle double-team finisher, Gargano defeated Black. In other action, Dominik Dijakovic defeated Aaron Mackey, the duo of Io Shirai and Dakota Kai claimed victory over Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke and the soon-to-be called up Heavy Machinery made quick work of a couple enhancement talents. Heavy Machinery will take on the Undisputed Era for the NXT tag titles next week.
WWE TLC recap: Asuka wins title after Rousey interference, Bryan and Styles shine
The triple-threat TLC match capped off an impressive night from WWE with a milestone for women's wrestling and the potential for a clear path to a historic WrestleMania main event in 2019.
Monday Night Raw opened, as promised, with Vince McMahon. The major announcement of the night was that he, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon and Triple H would be taking full control of both Raw and SmackDown as a collective authority channeling the wishes of the WWE fans. In terms of a fresh start, the message was a bit mixed; Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable and Apollo Crews repeated their destruction of Baron Corbin, taking away any lingering hope of him being made permanent GM, and the match between Finn Balor and Dolph Ziggler ended when Drew McIntyre got involved. On the positive side, Tyler Breeze answered Dean Ambrose's Intercontinental title open challenge, and The Revival won a four-way tag team match to earn a future Raw tag team title shot.
Most of the last hour of Raw was occupied by a Raw women's championship No. 1 contender's gauntlet match. Natalya entered midway through and eliminated Ember Moon, Ruby Riott and Sasha Banks to earn a shot at Ronda Rousey and the title on the Christmas Eve edition of Raw. Next week will also feature a triple threat between Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin and Elias vs. Bobby Lashley in a street fight. Finally, the coming main roster debuts for EC3, Lars Sullivan, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery were announced, as were the pending returns of both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
Shawn Michaels continuing to live his dream at WWE Performance Center
WWE icon Shawn Michaels is giving back to the world of professional wrestling in his role with NXT and the WWE Performance Center. Now training the next generation of stars, he loves having a hand in shaping the future of the business.
Michaels 'unbelievably attached' to coaching his guys
Shawn Michaels shares what he enjoys most about coaching at the WWE Performance Center.
Any time the cruiserweights of 205 Live have a chance to step up and shock some people, they typically take advantage. Buddy Murphy retained his cruiserweight title against Cedric Alexander as part of the WWE TLC kickoff show, and between all of the stiff strikes and high-impact offense, it was a match not to be missed.
The Seven Year Old
The boys preview TLC, break down the week that was and give Lio Rush a new nickname. Plus, BPR and your mailbag questions.
Becky Lynch appreciates fans always having her back
WWE star Becky Lynch joins Ariel Helwani to share how fans appreciate that they can relate to her.
If the goal was to hype their triple-threat match at TLC, mission accomplished. Charlotte Flair -- just like she did at Survivor Series -- was disqualified for using a Kendo Stick in a high-profile match. This time, Charlotte beat down Asuka with the foreign object, before Becky Lynch, who was sitting at the announcer’s table, got her hands on one and did the same to Flair. But it was Asuka who would get the last laugh, pummeling both with the Kendo Stick as the show came to a close. No doubt their clash Sunday will be equally, and likely more, violent than Tuesday’s fisticuffs.
Really solid go-home show Tuesday on SmackDown Live, highlighted by a rap battle, an impromptu tag-team match between The Miz and Shane McMahon versus the Vegas Boys, and Rey Mysterio attacking Randy Orton ahead of their TLC match. But perhaps the most intriguing battle came when Jeff Hardy and Rusev teamed up to beat Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, with the Bulgarian Brute landing a Machka Kick on the United Stated champ for the win. Here’s hoping this is a precursor for Rusev, who deserves bigger and better things in 2019.
Hard to believe Daniel Bryan could be so effective as a heel as quickly as he has become. But his tree-hugging rhetoric has really gotten under the skin of fans, as he showed again Tuesday on SmackDown. And if his words weren’t enough, Bryan beat 205 Live star Mustafa Ali, then attacked him afterward. The stuff of a big-time bad guy.
SCU carries both momentum and uncertainty into Ring of Honor Final Battle 2018
Few could have expected SoCal Uncensored to become as popular as it has in the world of Ring of Honor, and yet its success and status encompass the uncertainty ROH faces heading into (and following) Final Battle 2018.
This week’s episode of NXT TV featured a surprise appearance when, for the first time in over three years, Tyler Breeze performed on a televised NXT event. He was revealed as Ricochet’s mystery opponent. Ricochet won the match and retained his North American championship. In other action, EC3 defeated Bobby Fish. The Undisputed Era ambushed EC3 after the match, but Heavy Machinery emerged and made the save. Mia Yim continued her winning ways when she claimed victory over Reina Gonzalez. The win qualified her for a Fatal 4-Way match, which will take place in two weeks, to determine a new number one contender to the NXT women’s championship. Bianca Belair and Lacey Evans have qualified for that match as well. Finally, in tag team action, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch defeated The Mighty. On next week’s show, Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano will do battle in a steel cage while Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke will take on Io Shirai and Dakota Kai.
This week's 205 Live was solely focused on previewing Sunday's Cruiserweight Championship match between Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander. Both won lengthy matches (over Gran Metallik and Tony Nese) that allowed them to showcase themselves and had a brief in-ring encounter to close the show. However, it seemed like there was a missed opportunity to showcase Mustafa Ali, who made his SmackDown Live debut the night before. His match was mentioned once, as motivation for Alexander, but a video package or backstage segment would've done more to highlight Ali, who is on the rise.
Stars in development: Life at the WWE Performance Center
The WWE stars of tomorrow train at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. So who's next, and how are they going to get to the top?
Matt Bloom, the head coach at the WWE Performance Center, talks about the depth and versatility of the staff tasked with training the next generation of stars.
Robbie Brookside, a coach at the WWE Performance Center with nearly four decades of wrestling experience, describes the harsh conditions under which he learned his trade during his teenage years.
In a 2-on-3 handicap match against AoP and Drake Maverick, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable - sporting new matching gear - won the Raw tag team championships by rolling up an overconfident Maverick in the blink of an eye. Any change is likely a move in the right direction for the previously listless (but talent-rich) Raw tag team division, but this is a tough moment for AoP. For all we know, however, this could be a title flip-flop set up for TLC. Time will tell.
Everything is set to come to a head at TLC, but for at least one more week, Baron Corbin's ironclad grip on Monday Night Raw was felt throughout the night. There were only six matches over the course of the night; in addition to the Raw tag team title change, Ember Moon took care of Tamina with Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax in opposite corners, and Bayley got the best of Alicia Fox with help from Sasha Banks and Apollo Crews. Corbin's hand was directly involved in the rest of the night's action. Drew McIntyre wrestled a predictably entertaining match against Dolph Ziggler, which ultimately led to several crazy near-falls and an excellently set up Claymore kick from out of nowhere for the McIntyre win. Post-match, McIntyre continued his attack with a second Claymore on the outside that looked like it could have taken Ziggler's head clean off.
After Seth Rollins opened the night with an impassioned promo that blamed all of Raw's problems -- in storyline and in real life -- on Baron Corbin, a TLC match was set for Monday night's main event. Corbin manipulated newly-minted referee Heath Slater throughout the night, first putting Slater in a spot to help Lio Rush get a win over Elias despite blatant interference from Bobby Lashley. Once the main event rolled around, Slater was once again in position to try to help Corbin; Slater was used throughout the match to help Corbin, and he even pushed the ladder open when Rollins appeared ready to win the match, but Rollins eventually overcame the odds and walked out with championship intact. Corbin will eventually have to pay for these sins, and whether it's Sunday night against Braun Strowman or sometime down the line, despite everything else that may be tough to swallow, Corbin has undeniably benefited on an individual basis from his time as GM.
The "New" Daniel Bryan
The boys break down the "new" Daniel Bryan and say farewell to the Dynamite Kid.
Aleister Black interrupted NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa's promo on this week's episode of NXT TV and invoked his NXT championship rematch clause for TakeOver: Phoenix. Johnny Gargano interrupted and insisted he and Black weren't finished. After a Ciampa recommendation, Gargano and Black will finish their story inside of a steel cage in two weeks. Gargano escaped a Black Mass kick, but Ciampa wasn't so lucky. NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler defeated Dakota Kai. As Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir continued the post match assault, Io Shirai made the save. In other action, the Forgotten Sons beat Raul Mendoza and Humberto Carrillo while Matt Riddle defeated the debuting Punishment Martinez. Following the win, Kassius Ohno blindsided Riddle with a spinning elbow.
The Lucha House Party picked up a win over TJP/Mike Kanellis in a pinata-heavy 205 Live main event (trust me). We've come a long way from thumbtacks in the ring. The Brian Kendrick also picked up a DQ win over Drew Gulak, but Gulak and Gentleman Jack Gallagher got the best of Kendrick and Akira Tozawa. Next week, the champ and number 1 contender get warm-up matches, as Buddy Murphy takes on Noam Dar, and Cedric Alexander tries for vengeance on Tony Nese. (Photo from @WWE205Live)
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It was an all-around solid two hours of SmackDown Live, thanks to some hostile rhetoric, including Samoa Joe, who from inside a bar, taunted Jeff Hardy during his match against Randy Orton (leading to The Viper’s win) and superior action, including Jey Uso’s triple-threat win versus Xavier Woods and Cesaro. And once again, we were given the best seven seconds of WWE television a week, when R-Truth and Carmella made their way from the backstage area for a much-needed dance break.
Daniel Bryan played the heel card brilliantly Tuesday on Miz TV by continuously disparaging the crowd. “If you want to count sins, I kicked one man in groin one time and these people commit countless atrocities to the earth every single day, every single week, every single month.” Bryan and Miz even worked together to take out AJ Styles, who had rushed the ring to get his hands on Bryan. Later, in the main event, Styles defeated Miz before a brutal assault from Bryan on Styles. No question heel Daniel Bryan is more intriguing than the beloved version.
Solid opening promo by Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka, who will compete for the SmackDown women’s championship at TLC in a couple of weeks. But I was even more impressed by the ensuing tag-team match between Charlotte/Asuka and Sonya Deville/Mandy Rose, with the latter two coming out on top. How huge would it be for the women’s division if they could finally elevate themselves to main-event material?
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