Welcome to this week's Slammer Jabber, your look at the past seven days in professional wrestling. This week, we have the usual looks at Raw and Smackdown, some news on next week's Raw, rumors and speculation about the future of one WWE female superstar, and much more. Let's get started with a look at Raw and the vehicle damaging antics of one particular superstar.
With next week's 25th anniversary show coming up you would think WWE might have quite a sedate week on Raw, but they attempted to do plenty. The show long storyline with Braun Strowman going on a tear after being "fired" by Raw GM Kurt Angle, tipping over a production vehicle, attempting to take Raw off the air and attacking Michael Cole before being re-hired by Stephanie McMahon was a nice attempt to make Braun look like an absolute beast, and even though it was nonsensical it was enjoyable. Strowman really gets it, even down to shouting his own name in Kurt Angle's face after tipping over the truck. It's a shame that WWE are so rigidly stuck to Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar as the Wrestlemania main event, because Strowman could and should be in that picture. This did admittedly feel like an exercise in filler content, it kept Braun looking strong, and kept him bust before the go-home show next week so it's hard to complain about it.
The main event between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor was an excellent back and forth match, possibly better than their match at Summerslam in 2016. Balor looks like a new man with Gallows & Anderson by his side and they had a great bout. I liked that they teased that Rollins may not have seen Jason Jordan getting involved in the finish, while The Bar were also out there as well which keeps them involved. The return of the Curb Stomp to Rollins’ arsenal was a very welcome one too. He has seemingly struggled to settle on a definitive finisher since it was banned, and although he seems to have adjusted the move to make it safer it looks great. A very good main event, with plenty of storyline development thrown in.
The rest of the show was eventful, and did plenty to help things chug along towards the Rumble. Asuka vs Nia Jax was a good match, and did plenty for both women. The finish was a little off, but the stoppage gives both women an out with little damage. I do still wonder if we are getting Alexa Bliss vs Asuka next week, rather than having Asuka win the rumble, but we shall see. The Revival squashing a local team was fun, and the post-match promo was great, although I do sorry this ends with them being squashed by some legends next week. I hope not, but that is what WWE seem to do in these situations. Titus Worldwide getting another win over The Bar was well done, and I imagine they will be inserted into the tag title match at the Rumble at this stage. Cedric Alexander vs Tony Nese was fine if unspectacular, "Woken" Matt Hardy vs Heath Slater was basically a squash, while Sonya Deville vs Sasha Banks was surprisingly good, and the outcome with Deville getting the win was unexpected. Finally, Roman Reigns beat The Miz-tourage in a pretty average handicap match.
A decent show, with lots of pieces moving around for the rumble, but I imagine next week's show will be the big set-up for the PPV, and possibly beyond.
I won't spend too much time on this week's Smackdown, simply because it was a pretty uneventful show. The US title semi-finals and final were probably the biggest thing on this show, although it did mean we had to sit through almost 40 minutes of Jinder Mahal matches. His semi against Xavier Woods was basically an extended squash, while Bobby Roode had to go through a surprisingly decent match against Mojo Rawley. The final itself was a very good bout, with Roode doing the heavy lifting, and it was definitely the right decision, even this is inevitably leading to Roode vs Dolph Ziggler in what I assume will be a ladder match. A ladder match that no-one wants to see.
The rest of the show was pretty dull if I'm honest, given the only other match was The Riott Squad vs Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Naomi, which was a decent enough affair although I'm not sold on Liv Morgan, or her wonky-looking finisher.
With no Kevin Owens or Sami Zayn, no AJ Styles, Randy Orton or Shinsuke Nakamura this was an odd show. It felt like a self-contained episode, which has very little bearing on anything else. Odd.
Paige to retire?
There has been much speculation this week surrounding Paige, who has been out of action since late December with a neck injury, and this week it appeared that that might well the end of her active career. Rumours swelled that WWE would not be willing to clear her due to issues similar to those experienced by Adam "Edge" Copeland in 2011. Neither WWE nor Paige have confirmed or denied anything with Paige just being pulled from the women's Royal Rumble match for now. Paige has had a terrible run of luck in the last few years, so hopefully things are not as bad as have been reported. This story will likely develop further in the coming weeks, and we'll have it all here for you.
Ricochet/War Machine/LeRae sign for WWE
WWE have been increasingly motivated in recent years to sign the very best talents on the independent scene, and this week they announced the signing of three of the very best acts outside WWE; Ricochet, Candace LeRae and War Machine (Raymond Roe and Hanson). LeRae will be familiar to anyone who watched the Mae Young Classic, where she was easily one of the stand outs, and has been getting rave reviews for her work on the Indies. Ricochet is a former IWGP junior heavyweight tag champion, who has shone pretty much everywhere he has been, including sterling runs in Dragon Gate, DDT, NJPW and PWG. If you are familiar with Lucha Underground, then you might see a certain resemblance between Ricochet and one Prince Puma, which should give you an idea of what Ricochet is capable of. Finally, we have War Machine who are perhaps one of the most impressive tag teams in recent memory, as two enormous guys who display a huge amount of agility and toughness. I can imagine them having absolute barnburners with Sanity, Authors of Pain, Heavy Machinery and many others in NXT. All three will likely be in NXT in the near future, and I can definitely see them on the main roster eventually. This is another massive coup for WWE, and will definitely be a great injection to the talent pool over the coming months and years.
WWE 25 - more names added
Next week WWE will be celebrating the 25t anniversary of Monday Night Raw, and as detailed last week a host of names from WWE's past including The Undertaker, Eric Bischoff and many other big names. This week WWE announced even more names including Michelle McCool, Trish Stratus, Christian, Molly Holly, and most notably, Chris Jericho. This is especially interesting given Jericho was on the NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 show only two weeks ago, and set up an angle with Tetsuya Naito the following night. The buzz around Jericho has been enormous as of late, and his announcement was quite the surprise. It'll be interesting to see what role he plays and whether this is a one-off or there is something more to this than first expected. Either way, all eyes will be on Jericho which just goes to show how much credibility he has built himself by doing his own thing.
Goldberg in the HOF
It's that time of year again when WWE begins announcing names for the 2018 Hall of Fame. Although many names have been rumoured, one was persistently mentioned, and now Bill Goldberg has been announced as the headline entrant this year. The former multi-time world champion had a great final run in 2016 and 2017 and it seems a perfect time for him to go into the Hall of Fame. Goldberg was never the best worker, or the most dynamic promo, but he had an intensity that has been rarely matched in professional wrestling and he was arguably as big a star as anyone in late-90s WCW. A well-deserved headline entrant, and likely the first of many for this year.
Reigns and Jey Uso in trouble?
It's not been a great week for one half of the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Jey Uso was arrested this past weekend in Texas for driving while intoxicated. Now, obviously WWE frown on this sort of thing, but Uso should escape any major punishment, barring perhaps dropping the tag titles at Royal Rumble (if they weren't already). Roman Reigns may also be in trouble, although his situation is a little less concrete. Reigns has been namechecked by steroid dealer Richard Rodriguez who was arrested last year, and who has also been lined to Hollywood stars Josh Duhamel and Mark Wahlberg as well as numerous NFL and NBA stars. Reigns was namechecked in an expose, although facts are a bit thin on the ground. WWE are yet to comment, and this may end up being a nothing story, but given the previous scandals with Signature Pharmacy in 2007 and the high-profile steroid trial in 1994 it could well be a huge story if further details emerge. Watch this space.
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 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.