Welcome to Slammer Jabber, your weekly look at all things professional wrestling from the past seven days. While it has been a relatively quiet week, there is still plenty to get your teeth into, with two action-packed TV shows, some UFC-related news and one WWE superstar landing a role in a Hollywood movie. As usual, we start things off with this week's edition of Monday Night Raw.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing to come out of this week's Raw, was the announcement the Brock Lesnar will leave WWE if he loses the Universal Championship at Summerslam. It certainly is one way to add a bit of extra believability to things, and it makes sense for WWE not to ignore what is happening with Lesnar and the rumours over a return to UFC (more on that later). It certainly puts the cat among the pigeons in terms of Lesnar possibly keeping the belt at Summerslam, and combats the assumptions that the four-way is an excuse to protect Lesnar in defeat. Paul Heyman's assertion of a conspiracy is also interesting, considering what is going on and certainly gives extra credence to the notion that WWE are blurring the lines of reality and fiction (even though they in fact probably aren't). The rest of the build for the main event at Summerslam was well done too, with Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman having a cracking match giving a great preview of the four way in a few weeks. There were some big spots, some great momentum for Reigns, Strowman was protected, and while Joe took the fall he has got two wins over Reigns already so it doesn't really hurt him, and serves to whet everyone's appetite for the big title match in a few weeks. Great work all round.
The other big development this week came in the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose reunion storyline. The backstage bit between the two with Ambrose still reluctant to trust Rollins was a logical explanation of the post-match from last week, while Ambrose attempting to save Rollins from the beat down by Sheamus and Cesaro, only to explain later that he felt he was entrapped into doing so was a nice twist. I still suspect we are getting an Ambrose turn at some stage, especially as Reigns is busy for the foreseeable but for now it looks like we are getting Rollins and Ambrose vying for the tag titles at Summerslam.
The rest of the show was passable, without ever really excelling. The main event with Big Cass and Big Show was an OK big-man match, and seemed to forward the Enzo/Big Cass feud, even if the match ended in a no-contest. Thankfully, Cass has new music, which is better than the previous effort, but only slightly. Elias (who apparently has lost his surname and "The Drifter" nickname for some reason) cut an amusing song/promo on Pittsburgh before having a nice showcase against Kalisto (who is "not garbage", as he reminded us all a few months ago). Bayley got a cheap win against Nia Jax, which I suppose gives her some momentum ahead of her match with Alexa Bliss at Summerslam, perhaps somewhat mitigated by the fact she apparently suffered a shoulder injury during the bout. I can't say I'm loving the build for the women’s title match, but there's still plenty of time until Summerslam to spice things up and possibly get Sasha Banks and Nia Jax more involved. Bray Wyatt cut his usual promo before Finn Balor attacked him, and the cruiserweights had a decent if unremarkable six man tag, while The Hardys had a fun match with Gallows & Anderson before having a big brawl with The Revival. Finally Jason Jordan was on Miz TV in a segment that was presumably designed to get Jordan over as a babyface in his new role as Kurt Angle's son, but it didn’t really cut the mustard if I'm honest.
A decent show this week, but not a blow away affair.
The streak of Raw being the better show than Smackdown has certainly ended this week, thanks in no part to one of the better TV main events in recent memory. John Cena vs Shinsuke Nakamura might have only gone around twelve minutes, but what a twelve minutes it was. His match had a real big fight feel and was easily Nakamura's biggest match, and best showing on the main roster. Cena for his part was great here, putting Nakamura over clean, and while both men did plenty this match also did the best thing the main event of a wrestling TV show can do - build to an eventual rematch on PPV. I was left wanting to see more from these two, much like after the Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar match at Great Balls of Fire a few weeks ago. It was short, but it did its job. The post-match show of respect also solidified Nakamura as a genuine main-eventer ahead of his now-confirmed bout with WWE Champion Jinder Mahal at Summerslam. We’ll obviously have more on the build to that next week as they start it in earnest, but this certainly set up Nakamura as a big deal here. Equally, he would want to watch some of his moves, as he almost killed John Cena with a suplex just before the finish, and the last thing he needs to do is get a reputation as a dangerous worker. Still, it seems like Nakamura is finally getting a proper push, and about time too. As for John Cena, with him having more commitments outside of the company (more on that shortly), they need an opponent for him at Summerslam, which will presumably be Baron Corbin. While not shown on Smackdown, on the WWE Network there was a post-show exclusive which had Cena making the save after the bout when Corbin attacked Nakamura, and Cena putting the "Lone Wolf" through a table. It certainly seems like a smart move if they are gearing up to have Corbin as a main eventer in the coming months, have him work with a genuine first ballot future Hall of Famer and give him the sort of seasoning eh will need, and try and use Cena to "make" Corbin before Cena pops off again to do more filming.
AJ Styles defence of his US Title against Kevin Owens was a much better match than their previous affairs, and while it didn’t light the world on fire, it was a decent enough bout. The finish with referee Mike Chioda having his vision impaired and there beings some controversy allowing Styles to retain made sense, but the execution wasn’t great. I did enjoy Owens going off on one backstage afterwards, and the involvement of Shane McMahon as the guest referee for their final match at Summerslam is a great idea. There has been plenty of teasing of a feud between Shane and Owens since Wrestlemania 32 (most notably on Raw before last year's draft happened), and of course Styles and Shane have an uneasy truce after having a match at Mania this year. It sets up a nice dynamic, and with the right build this could be a really good mid-card match for Summerslam.
Elsewhere on this show, we had an amazing Twin Peaks-inspired Fashion Files that needs to be seen to be believed (especially the little moment from The Ascension, which was downright bizarre). The Usos cut another cracking promo (as you'd expect, they have been great recently); Aiden English beat Sami Zayn cleanly in something of an upset, and then he was mocked by Maria and Mike Kanellis in a pointless segment; Naomi and Becky Lynch had a great TV match with Carmella and Natalya, even though Becky is really just making up the numbers as Naomi is feuding with Natalya and Carmella has the briefcase. Finally Rusev beat Chad Gable in a cracking match. It's good to see Gable isn’t just being given nothing to do now that Jason Jordan has gone to Raw, and Gable looked great here. Rusev needed the win for momentum, and the post-match with Randy Orton was fine for what was, setting up the two to face-off at Summerslam, which should be a fine card-filler for that show and keeps both busy in a high-profile feud.
Overall a very good show, far superior to Raw, and with some really good development for Summerslam. Excellent work.
Brock Lesnar vs Jon Jones?
As I reported last week, there have been rumours abound that Brock Lesnar would be returning to UFC in the near future for a possible bout with Jon Jones. Well, we got a bit more development on that this week as Jon Jones called out "The Beast" after he regained his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship from Daniel Cormier on Saturday at UFC 214. Lesnar responded simply with "Be Careful what you wish for". Now, as it stands Lesnar has still between four and five months to run on his USADA suspension, and has yet to actually enter the testing pool again, which I believe means it will be the end of year show, or even the Superbowl weekend at the earliest that this could really happen, and even then it's more likely to be later than that. Now obviously, it's not quite that simple as Lesnar is under contract to WWE and is the current Universal Champion, but given what happened on Raw, and the tease of Lesnar and Heyman leaving it's hard to say what WWE are currently thinking. It's not impossible for a percentage of the PPV revenue, or for some sort of talent exchange (Conor McGregor to appear at Wrestlemania anyone?) it's not beyond the realm of possibility that they would let Lesnar go off and compete for UFC. This is going to be a developing story over the coming months, and I will certainly update as time goes on, as more information is available. However, for now, it certainly looks like there may actually be something to this story in offing.
John Cena - Robot in Disguise
Earlier this week the news broke that John Cena would be taking up a starring role in the first spin-off film from the successful (if not critically maligned) Transformers series, Bumblebee. Starring alongside Hailee Steinfield among others, and directed by Travis Knight, this is very much an A-list affair and a big break for Cena. He has of course had successful supporting turns in Trainwreck alongside Amy Schumer and Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poelher, but this will be his first high profile role as one of the main stars in a Hollywood film. It's certainly well-deserved and in some ways Cena being a non-permanent presence may not be the worst thing for his career, as he is much fresher as a special attraction rather than a weekly performer and it will likely prolong his career for several years more than if he was working night in and night out. Additionally, WWE loves this sort of publicity, so expect to see lots of Cena-based publicity around this in the coming months, in the meantime let the barrage of "Cena-bot" jokes begin.
Well that is it from me for this week. I will be back at the same time next week with the continued build for Summerslam, all the news from Raw and Smackdown, an update on the NJPW G-1 Climax and whatever other stories break in the next week. In the meantime, keep it locked here at Screenjabber for all the best movie, Blu-ray, DVD and video game reviews, as well as all the latest news, podcasts and more. Until next time, so long folks.