WWE Raw and Smackdown Live Thoughts – June 19th & 20th, 2017
After a garbage week of WWE programming and disappointing Money in the Bank PPV last Sunday, WWE really needed to step up their game. Maybe expectations were really low but I think WWE really delivered this week!
On Raw, Reigns opened the show with a huge heel promo, trolling the haters and announcing he wants to face the winner of the Samoa Joe/Brock Lesnar match at Summerslam because he believes he’s the number one contender. Reigns berated Samoa Joe by calling him “just Joe” and that prompted Samoa Joe to walk down to the ring to confront Reigns. After exchanging words, Joe head-butted Reigns and the two brawled until Joe rolled to the outside after a Superman punch, setting up a match between the two later on in the program.
I really enjoyed the segment. Reigns came across as an asshole and Joe, once again, went down to prove he’s the ultimate badass and not afraid of anyone at any time.
I tell you, the match between the two men on the show was fantastic. I actually thought it was one of Reign’s better matches as well. I would have been satisfied if this match was on a PPV show. The ending came about when an ambulance was shown backing up into the arena and a returning Braun Strowman appeared. Reigns showed disbelief as the announcers touted that Strowman was supposed to be on the shelf for six months. From there, Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Reigns to choke him out for the win. It was great to see WWE booking Samoa Joe strong here. Nothing like getting a win over your top (I mean, forced down people’s throats) guy to build someone like Joe up even more.
Strowman came down to the ring and slammed a daze Reigns and announced he wants to face Reigns in an Ambulance match at the Great Balls of Fire PPV. I’m all good with that and hopefully they add a stipulation that the winner of the match becomes the number one contender for the Universal Championship at Summerslam. I also wanted to see Strowman destroy Reigns so bad he wouldn’t be on TV for a week or two again. If Strowman isn’t finished with Reigns, why wouldn’t he attack him more?
The match between the Hardy Boys and Gallows & Anderson was also another quality match. It’s unfortunate that G&A are nothing more than jobbers now and I really think they should have been moved to Smackdown during the “shake-up.”
The women got a small window of time (what, like five minutes) to cram them all into a huge mess of nothing. Great revolution continuing, huh?
I know this isn’t technically about the show, but the “trailer” for the new WWE video game made absolutely no sense to me. You have a babyface, Seth Rollins, breaking into the WWE archive building, destroying everything and beheading the Andre the Giant statue? WTF?!?!? Who greenlit that? Why do you have your babyface you want over with the fans destroying pieces of WWE history? It doesn’t portray the message of “Be Like No One.” Why didn’t they exactly reveal the link between the tagline and what’s in the game? Awful stuff.
It all led to Rollins coming out to pander to the crowd and show again that he’s the cover star for this year’s game. Does it really matter who is on the cover anymore? The game will do whatever it does nonetheless. From there, Bray Wyatt came out and they both exchange verbal crap about being a god, not being a god, or something. I tell you, I have no interest when Bray Wyatt comes out anymore as it’s all for nothing so this feud (whatever the hell it is about currently) is a tune-out moment.
Speaking of Bray Wyatt, his brother, Bo Dallas, looked damn good being aggressive in the ring and his match with Finn Balor was actually decent. I like this side of Dallas but as soon as he shouted “Bo-lieve” again, I cringed. It has to be dropped. Balor got the win, of course, but it had me thinking about Bo Dallas actually getting recruited by Wyatt and coming up with some story as to why they took different paths or something.
Colour me surprised when The Miz asked Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to be his entourage backstage. The Miz spoke the truth when he said they could flounder in obscurity or join him and become stars (well, at least get some more TV time). As we saw, they took up The Miz’s offer when they helped him take out Dean Ambrose. Yeah, there were more stupid bears and it looks like this feud will continue until the Great Balls of Fire PPV, so I guess we just have to live with it. Good for Bo Dallas and Axel, though. Bo Dallas and Axel should be a fierce tag team on the show seeing how we’ve now lost another team.
By losing another team, I am talking about the splitting of Enzo and Cass in the last segment of the show. While I think a program with Dash and Dawson would have been good for the longer term (as we only have the Hardys as the main babyface tag team and barely any teams at all), I guess it is what it is. I think Big Cass will work well as a heel as they try and elevate him but Enzo will now be left to mid-card merch-pushing obscurity. The merchandise train for these two has now come to a halt (now if they can only break up The New Day, I’d be very happy).
I do understand Cass’ rationale about why he’s splitting with Enzo, so it’s hard to feel bad for Enzo in a way. I think it was on Prowrestling.net’s page where I read Jason Powell’s thoughts about Enzo being a good mouthpiece for a heel Cass and I agree with that. Instead WWE is going this route.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon both tweeted their displeasure with what happened in the Money in the Bank match on Sunday, so why was Daniel Bryan so conflicted throughout most of the show and needed to hear everyone’s concerns? He already knew the wrestler’s concerns as well as the fans. If this was a huge issue, where was Shane? I know it was supposed to make for dramatic TV and to keep fans engaged over the duration of the program, though.
I have to applaud Carmella and James Ellsworth for their performance at the beginning of the show. Carmella and Ellsworth were great on the mic and the heat they both generated from the crowd is exactly what they and WWE wanted.
Throughout the show, the women involved in the Money in the Bank match voiced their concerns to Daniel Bryan about why what happened was wrong, like we all didn’t know. One of the last encounters Bryan had was with Becky Lynch who delivered one of the best passionate promos she’s ever given. It really was authentic and hit the nail on the head regarding how wrong the whole situation was.
Bryan called all the ladies to the ring, including Carmella, to announce a) Carmella would be stripped of the Money in the Bank briefcase and b) there would another Money in the Bank ladder match on next week’s Smackdown show. That was huge news. For WWE to give away another Money in the Bank match on TV means they had this planned all along to troll fans, get the attention they wanted through any means necessary, and have the rematch on TV to get the ratings. Perhaps they realized they royally screwed up and are fixing the wrong. Who knows? All I have to say is that next week’s show is DEFINITELY can’t miss.
In addition to that huge match, we’re getting another Lana vs. Naomi match for the Smackdown women’s championship although I don’t understand how Naomi is the one deciding when she gets to defend the belt and to whom. Isn’t that the GM’s job? Could Rusev show up next week, too?
If that wasn’t enough, we’ll be getting The Hype Bros vs. The Usos. If the Hype Bros win, they will get their shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Funny thing is, The New Day are currently vying for those titles which means I smell a heel turn coming from some in the Hype Bros to split up the team. Could it be Ryder? Could it be Rawley? I could see both being heels.
I suppose it’s possible for The New Day to interfere, allowing the Hype Bros to win and get a championship match, have The Hype Bros win the match to have them get their shot at the next PPV, and let it lead to a three team triple threat match for the belts at Summerslam.
Where were Mike and Maria Kanellis? Let’s hope after their horrible debut with that lovey-dovey gimmick, someone in the back put the breaks on everything and second guessed it. We’ll have to see!
Sucks to say but it looks like Orton vs. Mahal is continuing until Cena returns like I predicted in my Money in the Bank thoughts feature. You had to laugh at Orton’s promo where he said he’d go to India and RKO Mahal’s family, including his grandmother. Yeah, I’m sure violence against the elderly is good babyface propaganda.
Luke Harper facing Mahal at the end of the night was a bore. No one explained where Harper has been for over a month and with Orton still in the title picture, you knew nothing would be happening here except the inevitable run-in/ambush at the end of the show. I have no idea how they’ll be fitting in Orton and Mahal next week with such a packed show.
The only thing that I may gripe about before next week’s huge main event is how this should be one of those matches WWE pays the money for it to be broadcasted without commercial interruptions like they have with a few matches before on Raw. If this match is going to be given the time it needs, it will be interrupted by AT LEAST two commercial breaks and then we you’re watching the clock and see there is 5 min left in the show; you know the end of the match is coming. I know on PPV, for the most part, the end of the last match on the card is coming around 15 minutes to the hour (usually for me in the Eastern time zone, it’s 10:45 when PPVs go off the air), so it’s expected that at 20 to the hour, the ending will go down. It will take a little bit of the suspense away from the match that a win could happen at any time.