Welcome one and all, to this week's Slammer Jabber, your weekly look at all things pro wrestling. It's been another busy week with WWE Extreme Rules dominating the landscape with a surprise winner of of the match to crown a new number one contender to face Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire. However, Smackdown also had a busy week building to Money in the Bank. There's even been some non-WWE happenings. Lots to get to this week, so let us start with Extreme Rules.
It may not have been the most true to the event title in terms of violence, but there was certainly lots to talk about coming out of WWE Extreme Rules this past Sunday. The biggest news of course came in the five-way main event with Samoa Joe coming out an unlikely winner against Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt. The match was excellent, and although it might not be the best pure wrestling match of 2017 it was certainly an enjoyable, fast-paced tussle between five of the very best in the industry. I liked that no-one came out of this looking bad with everyone kept strong, and several stories told throughout which leaves lots of possible routes moving forward for the people involved. I enjoyed that there was a tease for Balor winning, Rollins and Reigns both had good shots at victory, and Wyatt and Joe formed an uneasy alliance for much of the match, showing Wyatt's ability to get inside his opponents heads when needed. Samoa Joe may be getting the shot now, but there are four other credible challengers now ready to take a shot against Brock Lesnar down the road. For Joe this is a great reward for a string of stellar performances dating back to his debut on NXT in 2015, and I personally cannot wait to see him face off with Brock Lesnar in what should be a great battle, although I'll get onto that a bit more when we talk about Raw.
The rest of the show was very good for the most part. Neville and Austin Aries was probably the second best match of the night, although I'm slightly disappointed that Aries didn’t get the win, given he's now lost three on the bounce to Neville, and you have to assume that feud is done in its current incarnation. Still, Neville looks strong going into his next programme, and presumably Aries will be turning heel in the near future. The Hardys vs Sheamus & Cesaro was another good match, and although the cage match stipulation was poorly explained I enjoyed the bout nonetheless and it certainly seemed a good end point to this feud, save for a rematch on TV in the next few weeks. Alexa Bliss vs Bayley was a quick affair, although it again told a simple story of Bayley being unwilling to go the extremes required to win, while Alexa was able to eke out a victory. I liked that it set up the kendo stick as a killer weapon, and although Bayley suffers a bit for the booking here they can now take her out of the title picture and spend some time rebuilding and rehabbing her ready for a another crack at the title in a few months. She has been booked poorly and hopefully this programme being cut off shows an acknowledgement of the need to give her a reboot of sorts. The Miz vs Dean Ambrose was a fun way to kick off the show, although the referee almost ruined it by hamming up the DQ stipulation somewhat, but it just about worked. Finally we had Sasha Banks and Rich Swann vs Noam Dar and Alicia Fox in what was a surprisingly fun mixed tag, although the less said about Sasha and Swann's dance routine after the match the better. All in all, this was a really good show with plenty of solid matches, lots of blow offs to feuds, plenty of concrete resolutions, and a cracking main event.
Much like Extreme Rules the night before, Raw this week was all about Samoa Joe. The new number one contender for the WWE Universal Championship looked great, and his confrontation and subsequent attack on Paul Heyman was a great way to build heat for Lesnar's return next week. Joe came across like an absolute destroyer, and a complete bad-ass which definitely bodes well for feuding with Lesnar, let's hope the creative team can keep up the good work. Speaking of Joe, his bout with Seth Rollins in the main event was excellent and the two of them had probably their best encounter so far. Speaking of Rollins it looks like he will be spiralling off into a programme with Bray Wyatt, which could be excellent or could be terrible, we shall see. Wyatt's match with Roman Reigns was also very good, although I would happily never see these two face off again after their never-ending feud a couple of years ago. This also didn’t give any solid indication of what is going to happen with Reigns, although given Finn Balor's absence on this show and the lack of any other credible opponent for Reigns I have to assume that is the direction for both going forward, which could be interesting. Certainly all five competitors from the Extreme Rules main event still look strong coming out of Raw, and that can only be a good thing moving forward.
We got a bit more on the two big mysteries from last week's Raw on this week's show. Firstly we had more interaction between Corey Graves and Kurt Angle on the supposedly damaging secret that could ruin Angle, and although we didn’t get any details it certainly seems as though this is leading to a major reveal. We also got a twist in the "Who attacked Enzo?" mystery, with Big Cass being attacked this time and the attacker leaving a clue in the form of a chain left behind. The resulting Enzo team up with Big Show was fun, but seemed more of a vehicle to push the mystery angle, with Cass fingering Show as suspect after the match. For me, I can’t see beyond the attacker being Cass, but I like that they are opening up the scenario to multiple potential suspects.
The Miz's celebration segment is probably one of my favourite moments from Raw in recent memory. The sight of Miz beating down a man in a bear suit was excellent, as well as his stomping on a box containing a grandfather clock. The reveal of Ambrose as the cameraman was a stroke of genius, and worked really well in the climax of the segment. Maryse, Miz and Ambrose were all excellent here too which just goes to show how much a phenomenal performer can do with the right material. Night and day from last week's This is Your Life segment.
The rest of the show was fun, if not hugely consequential. The Dean Ambrose -Elias Samson segment was well done, and presumably signposts the direction for both men moving forward, TJP vs Mustafa Ali was a fun match and the post-match beat down by Neville was well done in the lead up to their match on 205 Live. Sheamus and Cesaro vs Heath Slater and Rhyno was essentially a squash, Kalisto vs Titus O'Neill was a short but fun bout, while Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss was pretty inconclusive with the interference of Mickie James and Dana Brooke, so you have to imagine that feud will be continuing.
A surprisingly solid show, with some good matches, great story development, a couple of killer segments, and nothing too tiresome to sit through. Well done Raw.
While Raw was very much focused on Extreme Rules and looking towards Great Balls of Fire, over on the blue brand everything was catered towards Money in the Bank. The opening segment with the women's division and unveiling of the briefcase was well executed and made this match feel like a big deal. Much like the five-way match from Extreme Rules, there is an opportunity to stack up potential challengers for the women's title for months to come if this is handled correctly, and so far Carmella, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Natalya have all been made to look really strong. The re-introduction of Lana was an interesting and unexpected twist, especially as she has been off TV for some time now. She came across well here, and having her instantly clash with Naomi was a good plan. The match between these two at Money in the Bank might not be so good though, as I have definite concerns about Lana's in-ring ability. Lana is a great character actress for sure, but she has had limited opportunities to show what she can do from a physical perspective, so I hope that time working at the Performance centre pays off, or this could be a real stinker of a match. Also, given that Naomi's problem with Lana getting a potential spot in the ladder match was that she hadn't beaten anyone to get a shot at the title, she is now getting a shot at the title? I see something of a logic whole there unless the match between the two is non-title. Anyway, the six woman match that brought about that match (via Lana's interference) was very good, and certainly gives a taster of what we can expect form the ladder match. Based on what we've seen so far, I'm still calling a Becky win and heel turn, or Carmella to be given an extended run with the briefcase.
In terms of the other big Money in the Bank ladder match we got two more previews of that match, via too top draw singles matches. AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler was another fantastic affair, although I'm glad AJ got his win back here. I don’t think it hurts Ziggler, and both still have plenty of momentum going into the ladder match. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens was also very good, although I had slightly higher hopes for this, possibly based on their first confrontation being a PPV main event rather than a random TV match building to a ladder match. However, this was very entertaining, and again neither guy lost anything significant from this bout. I also really enjoyed the Baron Corbin sneak attack after the match, which put some nice heel heat on him going into the match, especially as I am fully expecting him to take the case home. Speaking of Corbin, I also enjoyed his beat down of Sami Zayn (again) as it made him look even more dominant, although I was a bit confused by Zayn's interview about Nakamura. Given Nakamura debuted against Zayn, you would think he would be very well versed in Nakamura's movements and tactics, or are we supposed to pretend their NXT bout never occurred? Another strange, although admittedly not hugely problematic logic hole there. Still, overall the build to the ladder match is providing plenty of momentum for the guys involved and it has certainly piqued my interest, especially as the competitors involved could well make this a match of the year contender if they all perform to their best of their abilities. We shall see.
Elsewhere on this week's show WWE Champion Jinder Mahal squashed Mojo Rawley (who wanted into the Money in the Bank ladder match, so cheers Jinder, no-one wanted to see that). Mahal cut a promo after the match, which was fine for what it was. I get the impression the creative team have run out of ideas for the feud between Mahal and Randy Orton, but they still have a week to go until the PPV. I liked Mahal's new entrance, and this presentation of him certainly makes him seem like a far bigger deal, and a main eventer at least until the bell rings. You can’t fault WWE for trying, and Jinder is certainly taking the ball and trying to run with it, so we'll have to see how it pans out. I'm certainly intrigued as to what they do after this Orton feud ends (providing they don’t put the belt straight back on him to facilitate a cash-in). Finally, The New Day picked up some much needed momentum against The Colons in a good match before The Usos cut a promo which had some great fire and intensity, but made little to no sense. Still it'll be good to see these two teams go at it after an extended break and some major personality shifts for both since they last fought on PPV. Those poor Colon Brothers though, remember when they made their big debut beating up American Alpha, hasn’t quite gone to plan really. I suspect they long for the days of dressing as matadors and chasing a littler person dressed as a bull. Still, it could be worse they could be American Alpha, who seem to have just fallen off the face of the earth by all accounts.
Another good show, everything felt fresh and important, and nothing dragged. A good effort all round, and I'm looking forward to seeing next week's go-home show for Money in the Bank.
In sad news this week, WWE.com reported that former 7-time NWA World Champion, WWE Hall of Famer, and general revered bad-ass Harley Race had a bad fall at home and suffered two broken legs, one in several places. The 74-year-old needed multiple blood transfusions and surgery, but it sounds like he is on the mend now. We certainly wish Race a swift recovery, although given his notorious toughness I expect Race to be back on his feet sooner rather than later.
A 5 star shambles
Earlier this year 5-Star Wrestling had a big show televised on Spike TV here in the UK, featuring a number of high profile stars including John Morrison (Hennigan/Mundo), Rey Mysterio Jr, Drew McIntyre and several others, and for the most part the show was well received. The company then announced an ambitious 128 man tournament held in arenas across the UK. Alarm bells began to ring. Then a few weeks ago they made a grandstand "£1 million offer" to CM Punk to take part (he did not publically respond) which was only ever going to be a publicity stunt to sell more tickets, more alarm bells. Now it seems that the company have postponed the tour until next year, and have allegedly blamed the recent terror attacks as the reason. Now, I can’t say for certain that this is the reason they have used, but if it is that is disgraceful, and given the previously mentioned alarm bells I have to say this company seem like they are descending into farcical territory. I can't see the postponed tour materialising, nor do I see 5 Star Wrestling getting another shot at making an impact on the British wrestling community. It just goes to show that there will still always be companies that try to work the wrong way, rather than respecting and valuing their customers and building up a fan base over time; call it walking before you run if you will. When you see the tireless work put in by the likes of Progress, Rev Pro, ICW and plenty more aside to build a fan base at a grassroots level and expand sensibly and realistically without setting the whole British Wrestling industry back, it shows there definitely seems to be a right way to do things and a wrong way.
Well that is it from me, I'll be back next week with a preview of Money in the Bank, plus of all the happenings from Raw and Smackdown and much more. 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.