Welcome to Slammer Jabber, your weekly look at the biggest stories in professional wrestling from the past seven days. This week has been quite the busy period with eventful episodes of Raw and Smackdown, the big All In event coming up this Saturday and a worrying turn of events with a former WWE personality. We'll start as always with this week's TV from WWE's red brand.
With Brock Lesnar firmly in the rear-view mirror, and The Shield having reformed unexpectedly last week it looked like this could be a very hot episode of Raw with lots happening, and yet somehow WWE quickly settled into the half-arsed autumn malaise that has become an unfortunate yearly tradition in record time. The face-off between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman, with Strowman cashing his briefcase in ahead of time, was a genuine babyface move, which made the conclusion of the main event pitting Strowman and Reigns against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. The heel turn from Strowman seems a little silly considering his earlier actions because as a heel he could have just as easily cashed in on Reigns there and then. It doesn't make him look particularly smart, and sacrificing one of the company's most over faces to continue to vainly try and get Reigns cheered is a huge waste. Worse, this means we are getting a further variant of Ziggler vs Seth Rollins in the coming weeks, which is a feud that needs to end, and soon. Presumably, we're getting the inevitable six man on the go-home show for Hell in a Cell or when they head to Australia for the big supershow in October.
Without a doubt, the highlight of this week's Raw was Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens. These two had a long, frenetic encounter with some devastating sequences and hugely believable near-falls especially after Owens hit the stunner. While I understand the decision to keep Rollins as champion, you could just have easily switched the belt on onto Owens here. Interestingly, instead, WWE gave Owens the opportunity to smash it out of the park with his post-match promo before "quitting" the company. This is a hugely interesting development and given some of the huge bumps Owens took while being squashed by Braun Strowman in recent months and his pretty terrible booking it makes sense that he would have had enough, but the crowds are so often behind him that they can refresh him and hopefully bring him back as a babyface in the coming months. Whether that is on Smackdown or elsewhere who knows, but this could be a storyline that is very much worth keeping an eye on as it unfolds.
The rest of the show wasn’t particularly inspiring. The video building The Undertaker vs Triple H at Super Showdown was well put together, and the news that Shawn Michaels will be on hand next week show they are actually investing in the build for this bout. Trish Stratus' return in the segment with Elias was superb and a nice way to bring her back into the fold. Sasha Banks vs Dana Brooke was a glorified squash, but a squash that made for an interesting tease of a breakup within Titus Worldwide. The Revival getting a win over The B Team was a nice touch, and hopefully leads to them getting the belts soon. Natalya vs Alicia Fox was mostly a backdrop for the build to Alexa Bliss challenging Trish Stratus and her continued feud with Ronda Rousey, as well as setting up The Bellas returning to action, with Brie apparently on both brands now somehow. Bobby Lashley vs The Ascension was full-on filler designed to forward Lashley's feud with Constable Corbin, while Corbin himself had a fine, but unspectacular affair with Finn Balor, changing the rules as he went in abuse of his power. Finally, Dean Ambrose had a fine, physical bout with Jinder Mahal. He looks really good since returning and this was another example of that, here's hoping he keeps it up.
All in all, a pretty lopsided Raw. The main event scene got to where it needs to be, but I'm not sure I agree with the heel turn for Braun. However, if they run this story properly and explain it next week it could still be salvaged.
While Raw may have had a difficult week, with some booking difficulties, the blue brand was not immune to such issues. No storyline encapsulates these difficulties like the Becky Lynch situation. With Charlotte successfully defending her Women's title against Carmella, Becky Lynch's post-match attack was presumably intended to be a dastardly action, but once again she was wildly cheered by the crowd. I can see why given Becky is incredibly over and comes across like an utter badass in the new heel persona. In fairness, the real litmus test will be in the next two weeks when Smackdown is not taking place in New York or Toronto, but Detroit and Louisiana, towns that are far more likely to get on board with the intended reactions. If they don't fall in line, WWE may have a real problem and need to rethink how they are booking this feud, especially as Charlotte is starting to garner some negative reactions herself.
There was further build to The Miz and Maryse vs Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella this week, via a confrontation with Andrade "Cien" Almas and Zelina Vega. The interaction made sense and yielded a Bryan-Almas match that would have been something of a dream match a couple of years back while neither were actively wrestling in WWE. The match wasn't super long, but it gave a taste of how these two might gel in the ring given a meaningful match with some time on a big event. Miz and Maryse getting involved and gaining revenge made sense to keep things moving, and added a surprising amount of heat to the upcoming mixed tag match.
The rest of the show was very enjoyable. The New Day's title celebration with surprise guest Booker T was all kinds of fun, while the three-way tag match with The Bar, The Colons and Gallows & Anderson to pick one half of the number one contenders match for the tag titles was a very good TV bout, and it was good to see The Bar involved in something meaningful again. Sanity vs Rusev Day vs The Usos next week should be just as good I suspect. The segment with Samoa Joe trying to get under the skin of AJ Styles was a rare miss in this feud, it wasn't bad but not up to the standards of their recent interactions. Billie Kay vs Naomi was a fine encounter, presumably building towards Naomi recruiting a partner to help her, maybe Asuka, given she's doing nothing else currently. Finally, Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton's confrontation and the reveal of their upcoming Hell in a Cell match was a logical progression. Hardy has frequently spoken about wanting to have a cell match, and more worryingly to perform a Swanton off the top, this could be a very interesting development. Hopefully, he doesn't for his own sake.
A very decent episode of Smackdown with lots of storyline developments, some very good in-ring action especially from the tag division and the Bryan-Almas feud. WWE still have a major headache with the Becky Lynch storyline, but hopefully, they'll get that in order one-way or another in the next few weeks.
In a worrying development from Monday, Jason Sensation who previously appeared for WWE in the memorable Degeneration X/Nation of Domination parody in 1998 mocking Owen Hart, sent out a hugely concerning tweet claiming he has snuck a gun through security at Raw in Toronto and was planning on shooting himself in the head live on television. Of course, this set off a flurry of reports to the local police, and speculation on whether he was genuinely at the Scotia Bank Centre. Luckily, Police investigated and found he was at home and the tweet was intended as a joke, something that was confirmed by Vince Russo of all people, who reached out to Sensation to ensure his safety. Obviously, this was a hugely inappropriate tweet and the panic caused could easily have been avoided. Whether Sensation was looking for attention, has genuine mental health issues and whether he will face prosecution for his tweet all remain to be seen. One thing that is for sure, is this was a very worrying incident that was thankfully dealt with quickly by the Toronto police thanks to the actions of the online wrestling community.
Earlier this week the news broke that former WWE Cruiserweight champion Neville was no longer under contract to WWE, and was free and clear to join whatever promotion he sees fit. Neville is arguably one of the best junior heavyweights on the planet and there are multiple promotions who would love to book him. I could potentially see him turning up at All In, just given the timing, and the natural match to make is definitely against fellow British superstar Will Ospreay. I'd even be up for seeing Neville make a surprise appearance for Progress on their Wembley show next month, although the relationship between Progress and WWE could just as easily scupper that. Neville, probably under the Pac name he used previously could easily turn up in NJPW, ROH, or anywhere else he feels like wrestling. He also has a long-standing relationship with Dragon Gate, so that could be an option too. There is of course, always the possibility he goes back to WWE as well. When the news broke of his contract being up, he had apparently been spotted in Pittsburgh, which is coincidentally where WWE do their medical testing. I have no doubt we'll see this story develop in the next few weeks and Neville to make his long-awaited return very soon.
All In preview
Outside of WWE and NJPW, perhaps the biggest event on the wrestling calendar in 2018 is All In, which will be taking place this Saturday from the Sears Centre just outside Chicago in front of 10000 fans. Now, of course, this is a huge achievement for Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks who put this together themselves, which is just incredible. However, the card itself, for me, doesn't quite live up to those expectations. The main event of The Bucks and Kota Ibushi vs Fenix, Rey Mysterio and Bandito should be a crazy high-flying affair. Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll is a NJPW upper mid-card match currently, with Scurll not quite at Okada's level despite being an excellent junior heavyweight for NJPW. Cody vs Nick Aldis for the NWA Title feels like a big deal, which it should be, while Pentagon Jr vs Kenny Omega is a bit of a dream match on paper, but could easily be an overblown spot fest as much as an instant classic. Beyond that, the rest of the card seems like what you might find on your average ROH show and doesn't offer much to get excited about. If everything goes well, this should be an enjoyable show but anyone expecting the hottest show of the year (especially given the snarky crowd that could potentially be in attendance, hopefully not) may well b
Well, that is it from me for this week. I will be back at the same time next week with all the news from Raw and Smackdown, and All In as well as touching on any major stories that might 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.