Welcome to Slammer Jabber, your weekly look at all things professional wrestling from the past seven days. It's been a relatively quiet week after the madness of the past few. However, we still has two huge TV shows, the start of a much anticipated tournament , and much more. Let's kick things off with a look at this past week's episode of Raw.
There really isn’t anywhere else to start with Raw than the blistering segment between John Cena and Roman Reigns. The two traded barbs after their match at No Mercy was announced, getting into real meta-shoot territory. No obviously this was all scripted and cleared ahead of time, but it goes to show that WWE are certainly aware of some of the bigger criticisms of Reigns, and the fan reaction to him. The idea of him not being on Cena's level, and Cena having to stick around as a part timer because Reigns isn’t able to carry the company on his own is a surprisingly honest appraisal of affairs as they stand currently. Cena was fantastic in this segment, almost burying Reigns in the process, although just about managing to make it seem as though he was airing legitimate grievances. This was certainly reminiscent of Cena's programme with The Rock a few years back where both gave the impression of not liking the other in order to give the rivalry a little something extra. A great segment. However, WWE undid much of that great work by having Gallows & Anderson come out and threaten to beat up both men, and then it turning into a Teddy Long-esque Smackdown 2008 tag team match (playa). It seemed like a damp squib after the confrontation, and the logic of the two cooperating after their exchange seems a bit off. The match was fine, but it just took some of the momentum out of what was a really good segment for me.
The main event of Raw was an odd one this week, with Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks having a match for the Raw women's championship that was very enjoyable, but with a much unexpected outcome. Bliss regaining the belt was a very strange choice, especially after the idea of Sasha being unable to ever successfully defend her title was floated, only for her to then fail to do so once again. I like Bliss on top of the division, but it's an odd way to book Banks. The post-match with Nia Jax was very well done, and this looks to be the start of some sort of semi-face turn for Jax (or Bliss depending how you look at it), or at least the start of a three-way programme for Bliss, Jax and Banks. Perhaps this is a placeholder until Bayley has recovered from her injury, and the match itself was very good, even if the booking seemed a little odd.
The rest of the show, was a so-so affair. Jeff Hardy winning the battle royal to face The Miz for the Intercontinental Title next week was a nice surprise, although the battle royal did mean a number of guys had to work double duty. I also could have done without seeing the Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt feud continue, but that seems to be the direction they are going in. Hardy looked good here, and with Matt Hardy spinning off into a programme with Gallows & Anderson, it was interesting to see Jeff getting the singles push in the short term at least. Elias' segment with "Impressive" Pelvis Wesley (AKA Heath Slater) from Southpaw Regional Wrestling was lots of fun, and hopefully not the last crossover we see. Cesaro vs Seth Rollins and Sheamus vs Dean Ambrose were fine matches for what they were and continued the build to the tag title rematch at No Mercy. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman cut a fine promo hyping the match with Braun Strowman at No Mercy, and pushing Strowman as a huge threat, which worked really well. Obviously Strowman wasn’t on this show, but he really didn’t need to be, and I hope they keep the two apart until nearer the event. Finally Emma and Mickie James had a nothing match, while Enzo Amore made his official debut in the cruiserweight division in a quick match with Noam Dar. Enzo may not be the most popular guy backstage, nor the greatest in-ring technician but he certainly has way more personality than most in the division so it certainly seems like a good move all round.
A decent Raw this week, but certainly a show that had the handbrake firmly on, and rightfully so with plenty of time until No Mercy. It was enjoyable, and moved plenty of storylines along without going overboard.
The blue brand opened up the show this week in familiar fashion as Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers came to the ring and cut a promo. This act feels really tired, and the anti-American "evil foreigner" gimmick is wearing a little thin at this point. Shinsuke Nakamura coming out to break things up was a relief, and the addition of Rusev and Randy Orton to this segment helped to liven things up. The resultant main event was very good, and a more than adequate match for a TV main event. I am surprised we are getting Nakamura vs Orton next week, as it seems like a big match to throw out on free tv, especially as the result seems a foregone conclusion - no-one wants to see Orton vs Mahal for a fifth time. Still, a bice RKO from Orton to close the show, and some good build for what should be a cracking main event next week.
The confrontation between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon was very well executed, and I'm actually weirdly looking forward to seeing where this feud goes. Owens was again great on the mic here, as well as on commentary. Owen's getting involved and screwing Sami Zayn as a guest referee was phenomenally petulant, and really quite enjoyable. Speaking of Owens, the man who beat him last week AJ Styles was involved an odd situation this week. I enjoyed the return of the US Championship Open Challenge, but having Tye Dillinger in that role seemed an odd choice, especially when it was a device to start a feud proper between AJ Styles and Baron Corbin. I appreciate it's just a case of shifting things round to get to the next PPV, but it all seemed a bit clunky.
Elsewhere on the show this week, Shelton Benjamin made his in-ring return alongside Chad Gable and they looked very good in defeating The Ascension, Bobby Roode squashed Mike Kanellis as they continue to build Roode's profile on the main roster, while The New Day and The Usos had another really fun match. I often worry I might tire of seeing these two teams, but no such bad luck just yet. Tamina Snuka squashed a local enhancement talent, which there is little to really say about. Breezango debuted The Fashion Files Season 2 premiere which was entertaining as always. Finally, Dolph Ziggler returned again to cut a promo that was basically the same as last week claiming that the fans would now have to wait until next week for his big reveal. At his stage they might be better cutting Ziggler loose, or repackaging him, because it's clearly not working and he's very much h9it a ceiling in his current incarnation.
This was a fairly average show overall. Nothing outstanding or hugely noteworthy, although not especially bad either. A sold, if unspectacular episode.
Mae Young Classic
The first four episodes of the Mae Young classic have officially dropped on the WWE network this week and the overwhelming response has been very positive. Form a personal point of view, I not only really enjoyed the matches thus far, but also the format. Much like last summer's cruiserweight classic this is a knockout tournament, meaning the matches always have stakes and this really helps ramp up the tension. WWE have managed to get some great performers on these shows and I fully expect a number of them to end up in WWE in the coming months. This is also the first time WWE have done a mass release of a show in this fashion, trying their hand at the binge watching concept, and for me it worked really well, and encouraged me to not only continue watching but to highly anticipate the next drop on Monday.
Rosemary-Sexy Star controversy
In an unusual story this week, emanating from AAA's Triplemania card, there was a very controversial incident involving Rosemary from GFW (formerly TNA) and Sexy Star (who you may have seen in Lucha Underground) with Star apparently shooting on Rosemary and legitimately injuring her on purpose with an arm bar in a multi-woman tag match. Star has been widely condemned for this, and rightly so, given she allegedly has form for this sort of behaviour. For my money, we obviously don’t know the full story and there’s always the possibility it's a work to build to future match between the two. However, given the other two competitors in the match (Ayako Hamada and Lady Shanni) have had noted issues with Star too, and with communication issues present in this match, it seems this was a genuine incident. It's highly unprofessional and it looks like it is going to result in Star being blacklisted from various promotions for the near future, and rightly so. We'll have more on this if or when it develops further.
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, as well as 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.