Welcome to Slammer Jabber, your weekly look at all things professional wrestling. This week has been slightly quieter in terms of news, but there's still plenty to discuss especially from WWE, including a big return and some interesting injury news. However, we'll start this week as we so often do, with this week's episode of Raw.
With Extreme Rules rapidly approaching, we all thought we were ready for the build to continue to a five-man match featuring Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley and three other superstars. Yet the opening segment on Raw seems to have put paid to that. Paul Heyman made some comments online earlier this week regarding a lack of worthy challengers for Brock Lesnar, and this seems to have led to Kurt Angle cancelling the proposed match, leading to Reigns and Lashley having quite the back and forth. Reigns especially shined, with some really natural trash talk. That said, the match with The Revival that resulted from the segment was basically a re-run of the same bout a week ago, only with The Revival getting a win. I don’t expect it to do much for Dash or Dawson, but it was nice to see them actually getting some attention. I’m more interested in Lashley vs Reigns than I was previously, but it’s still hard to see either as an exciting challenger for Lesnar.
One person who could be a challenger for Lesnar is Braun Strowman, who had quite the eventful night. After agreeing to team with Kevin Owens, they had a fun match with Finn Balor and Baron Corbin, doing an odd couple partner type thing. The match was very enjoyable, and I was surprised at how much chemistry Corbin and Balor had, but the real story was the post-match with Strowman pursuing Owens through the backstage area and outside. I really enjoyed the reactions from Owens upon seeing Strowman had flipped his car, and while it may make Strowman seem a bit one dimensional, he’s still red-hot.
The rest of this week’s show was full of very enjoyable moments. The main event between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler was very good, perhaps even better than the match they had last week, although the finish left plenty to be desired. Bayley, Sasha Banks and Ember Moon vs The Riott Squad wasn’t anything particularly impressive until the finish. Bayley snapping and attacking Banks after the match was exactly what it needed to be, and a worthy, if not long overdue pay off to their long-brewing tension. The reveal that the two have to attend anger counselling next week should make for interesting viewing. Natalya vs Alexa Bliss was fun while it lasted, although Nia Jax’s flip back to babyface seems way too abrupt. Having Natalya as a substitute for Ronda Rousey keeps that story fresh while continuing to keep Natalya at the forefront of things for what you would have to assume is an eventual heel turn. It was nice to see The Authors of Pain back on TV squashing enhancement talent, while Mojo Rawley was surprisingly good in his segment with No Way Jose. Finally, Matt Hardy vs Curtis Axel was fine, nothing spectacular, but fine. The post-match celebrations from Axel were excellent as always, however.
Overall, this was another strong week from the red brand. The match quality, especially in the main event and the Strowman/Owens vs Corbin/Balor bouts was high. There was plenty of storyline development too, especially in the women’s division. All in all, an enjoyable show.
Much like Raw, Smackdown seems to have kicked into gear in the past few weeks. Following on from last week’s gauntlet match, we needed an explanation as to why the Bludgeon Brothers got involved with Daniel Bryan. With Harper and Rowan on Miz TV it seemed we might get an answer, but in the end, it was inconclusive. The main event pitting Bryan vs Harper was really well put together, and a timely reminder of just how good Harper is when given the opportunity. Kane making the save, and the Team Hell No reunion was a nice surprise, and with Kane rumoured to be retiring soon (given his political career), this could be a lovely way to send him off. I also liked that this kept the feud between The Miz and Bryan bubbling along while giving both something else to do. A fine end, to a very good main event.
The rest of the show has plenty of exciting moments. Rusev vs Xavier Woods was a basic showcase for Rusev, but it did the job and his post-match promo helped build him up for his title shot against AJ Styles at Extreme Rules. Becky Lynch continued to build momentum this week with a win over Sonya Deville, while Lana and Naomi had a surprisingly entertaining backstage segment with the cast of GLOW, which returns to Netflix this week for their second season. The set up for James Ellsworth vs Asuka for next week was well executed, and Asuka destroying him should be quite the sight. Finally, we got Jeff Hardy offering an open challenge for the US Title, following Shinsuke Nakamura’s injury (more on that shortly), which led to an interesting and physical, if not slightly short contest followed by a pretty entertaining six-man tag pitting Sanity against Hardy and The Usos. While it may not have been the much anticipated Nakamura-Hardy bout, it was certainly worth a watch, and better than your average TV match.
Overall, this was a good episode of Smackdown. Like Raw there was good stuff from an in-ring perspective, and there was plenty of advancement in the top programmes, as well as lots to enjoy on the undercard. What I’m enjoying most about the blue brand is that everyone seems to have a role. Even someone like Becky Lynch, who isn’t in a programme with anyone, has been gaining from racking up wins week-after-week. A well booked well-produced show.
Nakamura dog bite
In an unusual story this week, Shinsuke Nakamura was unable to compete on this week’s Smackdown due to an undisclosed injury, but it has been reported that apparently he was in fact bitten by a police dog, on the leg. Details are sketchy, but it seems like this all happened at a WWE event, and the dog was a trained police bomb detector. This certainly ranks as one of the more bizarre injuries in recent memory, if true. Hopefully, with Japanese house shows looming, Nakamura isn’t kept out of action for long.
Sami Zayn out for rest of the year
While Shinsuke Nakamura may be out temporarily with a dog bite, the news for Sami Zayn is less positive. Zayn disappeared from our screens after Money in the Bank, and it turns out that is due to needing shoulder surgery for two rotator cuff injuries. Unfortunately, this is not the first shoulder injury to Zayn who many may remember injured himself in a freak entrance-way accident before gutting out a whole bout going full pelt with John Cena on Raw, which forced him onto the shelf for around a year. This time Zayn is predicted to miss the whole of 2018, which is a shame considering he has been on terrific form since his heel turn last autumn. That said, some time away and separation from Kevin Owens could be a positive for both men whose careers are so intertwined. Hopefully, Zayn comes back better than ever, maybe even as a surprise Royal Rumble entry if all works out for him.
Kevin Owens- Shania Twain
Finally this week, in perhaps the weirdest story of the week (yes weirder than Nakamura’s dog wound) was Kevin Owens appearing on stage with Shania Twain at her Montreal gig, trying to get her to play a song he likes, to no avail. She did, however, promise to sing it next time if he can beat Braun Strowman, so it’s not looking likely. That said it was a nice bit of banter, and Owens continues to show why he’s so well liked by fans even as a heel.
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.