Welcome to somewhat truncated edition of Slammer Jabber this week. With a busy period happening in the “real world” for yours truly, I am eschewing our usual format to have a look at the two big events coming up this week, WWE Super Showdown on Thursday, and AEW Revolution this weekend. While this week’s television provided some great matches and last minute build to both shows, it feels more prudent to focus on those big events rather than the television that aired in the run up to each.
Super Showdown preview
WWE’s trips to Saudi Arabia are never without controversy. There will always be an underlying sense of outrage and discomfort in large swathes of the fan base every time one of these events takes place. However, they are incredibly lucrative for WWE, and they have a lengthy contract with KSA, meaning we have to get used to these twice-yearly supershows playing out in front of a largely bemused, sometimes silent audience in a country whose government’s activities have frequently come under intense scrutiny. These shows are going to keep happening, so we will continue to cover them, but with the knowledge that there is an underlying controversy
With something of a disclaimer out of the way, we turn our attention to perhaps the most intriguing bout on this card. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs Bill Goldberg seems like an odd, oil and water mix, or at least on paper that is the way it should be given the highly divergent nature of the two characters. Wyatt’s is incredibly gimmick-driven and heavy on aesthetics, while Goldberg is a hyper realistic tough guy. Yet this contrast of two polar opposite ends of the wrestling spectrum offers a ludicrously interesting collision. The match itself should be short and impactful, and presumably either ends with Wyatt using some trickery, Goldberg winning by DQ, or maybe, just maybe Goldberg winning the title. It would feel like a massive swerve and a huge deal for Goldberg to win the belt and it would set up an unpredictable main event for Wrestlemania with Goldberg facing off against (presumably) Roman Reigns. Now that would be a huge statement match and a massively interesting bout for the biggest show of the year. Wyatt could easily be spun off into a different programme, and arguably he doesn’t need the title at this stage, so it could be a hugely beneficial move for everyone. Sadly, I think it’s unlikely that Wyatt drops the belt here, but it would make for a memorable move if WWE opt for such a radical departure from the predictable.
From the potentially unpredictable, we move on to a match that has minimal hype, and an air of inevitability surrounding it. Ricochet was made to look like an absolute geek against Brock Lesnar before the Royal Rumble, but he got some measure of revenge by having a minor hand in the elimination of the WWE Champion from the Rumble match by Drew McIntyre. So it felt inevitable that Ricochet would have some interaction to wrap up his mini-feud with Lesnar before Wrestlemania and we’re getting that in Saudi Arabia. For me, the biggest question is how long does the match go? Will Lesnar squash Ricochet in seconds like he did Kofi Kingston in October, or will we get a proper match? I fear it will be the former, with Lesnar making short work of his smaller opponent and getting out of the country within hours. However, if Lesnar has his working boots on, which he frequently does when facing off against smaller, more agile opponents (see his bouts with Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Rey Mysterio etc. over the past few years) this could be a cracker. Ricochet has a 0% chance of leaving with the belt, and that is beyond doubt. However, he could gain a hell of a lot in defeat if Brock decides to give him a proper match. Here’s hoping, because this could be a cracker if Lesnar is in the mood for it.
At Crown Jewel in October WWE hosted the first ever women’s wrestling match (well they called it that, I have not researched it and it’s possible others have managed it on smaller shows etc.) between Natalya and Lacey Evans. Now, it would appear that WWE plan to have Bayley defend her Smackdown Women’s title against Naomi. On paper, that sounds like a great match, but as we saw last year there are some pretty major caveats to this match happening which I feel will hamper proceedings greatly. If both women are required to wear baggy, ill-fitting clothing and not to wear make-up it will be a fairly drastic drop for both characters while also possibly preventing either women from going full pelt with their usual in-ring arsenal, something that was evident when Evans and Natalya faced off. That match had the feel of something very sanitised and I expect the same here. Hopefully I’m wrong and we get a great match, however I suspect that we may not simply due to the circumstances, which will do both women a major disservice.
With The Street Profits being inserted into the ongoing programme with Seth Rollins and co against the makeshift babyface alliance of The Viking Raiders, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe, it would have been rational to believe that Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford were being lined up for a big Wrestlemania tag match against Rollins and Murphy for the Raw tag titles. However, we are getting that match here after only two weeks of build and minimal fanfare. Given the competitors involved, it is pretty unthinkable that this won’t be a contender for match of the night. Rollins has been excellent in his new “Monday Night Messiah” persona, and Murphy has greatly benefitted by association. The Street Profits have had contrasting fortunes in recent months, largely relegated to backstage segments and minor matches, so it’s great to see them in a high profile bout as despite their recent lack of a sustained push. Dawkins and Ford are over huge with the audience and I expect will eventually go on to be a major force within the company. While a win here wouldn’t be a shock, I suspect Rollins and Murphy will retain.
The gauntlet match that features a number of mid-card talents has the potential on paper to be very good. Andrade returning from his suspension is well timed and I could see this match being used to set up a fresh challenger for his US title, or to reignite his feud with Rey Mysterio (who is substituting for the injured Rusev). Bobby Lashley will likely have a strong showing, but I can’t see this doing a great deal for him, and Erick Rowan will surely have an even less memorable tenure. R-Truth is here for a few comedy spots and possibly a 24/7 title bit, but little more. AJ Styles seems the most likely candidate to pick up the victory here, especially if the rumours are true that he will be facing The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Could “The Deadman” make an appearance here? I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, and it could provide a great way to kick off the feud between “The Phenom” and “The Phenomenal One”.
Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin appear to have been feuding for approximately 17 years, but finally it would appear that this programme is coming to an end. While there have been multiple opportunities to mercifully put this feud to bed, the steel cage stipulation suggests this is the blow-off. Reigns for win in a match that I cannot muster much enthusiasm for. Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza going at it again can only be a good thing and will surely spawn another excellent encounter. Mansoor vs Dolph Ziggler is basically just on this show for the hometown pop.
Finally, The New Day vs The Miz and John Morrison rounds out the line-up for Super Showdown. John Morrison’s return may not have been quite as spectacular as some had hoped for, but it has breathed new life into The Miz who has a renewed purpose now he has been slotted into the tag team title picture. From an in-ring perspective I would imagine this should be a stellar contest, with both teams putting in a strong effort. The Miz and John Morrison probably need the win more than Kofi Kingston and Big E and you sense that we’re steering towards a multi-team affair at Mania; so that all works out if that is the direction the company plans to go.
Super Showdown looks to be a solid, if unspectacular show from WWE. It lacks some of the star power of previous Saudi events (although Hulk Hogan iss rumoured to be appearing on this show) but with Smackdown on Friday night coming just over 24 hours after this event, that is understandable. While the event will be steeped in controversy, from a purely in-ring perspective Super Showdown should deliver at least a middling-to-good event.
Since the turn of the year that has been a notable upswing in the quality of AEW television. The in-ring action had been stellar for some time, but the booking feels like it has mostly caught up, which is great because Revolution happens this weekend and I am keen to see if they can carry that positive momentum forward into the PPV.
The main event of this show (providing it does actually go on last, which I feel it will) features Chris Jericho defending his AEW World Championship against Jon Moxley. Over the past few weeks Moxley has been presented as a total badass, while Jericho has all the muscle from The Inner Circle. Moxley has overcome every obstacle put in front of him, including the eye injury inflicted by Jericho. The eye patch looks incredible and actually adds quite a lot to Moxley’s character and look. I am hyped to see Jericho and Moxley, which is a miracle considering their past feud in WWE was something I really did not enjoy. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Moxley take the title at this stage given his momentum, but I hope they keep it on Jericho for now as I feel Moxley doesn’t really need the championship, and the big title change should be saved for someone who can really be benefit from knocking Jericho off his perch and becoming a made man in the process. Still it should be a wild main event.
The only other bout that could possible headline Revolution features Cody Rhodes taking on MJF. This feud is probably the most heated combination in the company’s short history with MJF having turned on Cody at Full Gear and in the since time having forced him go through his stipulations which included not being able to touch MJF, having to take ten lashes from a belt on national television in one of the most memorable angles of recent times. Then there was the very physical cage match against Wardlow last week. Cody has struggled through against the odds and finally gets his hands on his former protégé. You have to imagine this will be bloody, physical and ultimately very personal. However, given this is their first meeting I can only see MJF somehow getting the win, because Cody getting revenge doesn’t achieve much while a win over Cody makes MJF a real player in AEW. I expect shenanigans, maybe a turn or underhand tactics and eventually MJF getting the unlikely win despite Cody dominating the match.
One of the more multi-layered storylines on AEW Dynamite has been the growing rift within The Elite, with dissension between Hangman Page and The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega playing peacemaker. With Page and Omega having to defend their titles against The Bucks, this should all come to a head, and either The Elite come back together (perhaps against The Dark Order, with the reveal of their “Exalted One” imminent, or Page and/or Omega do a proper heel turn and the fracture in The Elite is confirmed. The match will, obviously, be excellent. All four men are superb in the squared circle and have great chemistry. Page has bags of potential and his recent character work seemed to initially suggest an imminent turn but now his popularity has grown I’m not so sure. Whatever happens we should have some major story development coming out of this bout.
The rest of the show looks pretty good. Jake Hagar making his AEW debut, finally, should be very good and his match with Dustin Rhodes will be a nice change of pace from the rest of the show. SoCal Uncensored vs The Dark Order will either be a middling tag match, or an interference-filled segment that is more angle than match, although it could also play into The Bucks vs Omega/Page. Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara are both rising stars within the company and have upside so it certainly makes sense to see them feuding here, especially given the polar opposite nature of their personas. Guevara is flashy and brash, while Allin is brooding and dark. Both have the skills to put on a great match but it’ll be good to see how far both men have come. This is a lower card match here, but in five years’ time it could be a main event combination within this company.
PAC vs Orange Cassidy is a late edition, and I'm not sure whether to expect PAC squashing Cassidy to get his heat back after losing to Kenny Omega on Dynamite, or if OC picks up the upset win. Either way it should be fun. Finally, Nyla Rose will take on Kris Statlander as Rose looks to defend her recently won women’s title. As someone who was unimpressed with this division for much of the Dynamite run thus far, things have definitely improved in recent weeks. I’m not sure I totally “get” the Kris Statlander character, but this already feels like a step in the right direction, even if Rose winning is not even slightly in doubt.
Revolution has the potential to be a very strong show from AEW. The quality of the wrestling has been nothing short of excellent since the company launched, but the quality of the booking has not quite lived up to that standard. Hopefully, Revolution shows that the last few weeks have been more indicative of a massive improvement on that front rather than a blip on the radar.
That is it from me for this week. I will be back at the same time next week with a look at Raw, Smackdown, NXT and AEW Dynamite as well as reviews of Super Showdown and Revolution, plus anything else that breaks in the next seven days. Until then, 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.
Images courtesy of WWE/AEW