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Figure Four Weekly: Winners and losers of the superstar shakeup

Winners and losers of the Superstar Shakeup

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier

While both shows retained some of their core pieces, the rosters for Raw and SmackDown have been transformed since WrestleMania.

The days after WWE's biggest show of the year saw Bobby Lashley, The Authors of Pain, Ember Moon, and No Way Jose join Raw, while Peyton Royce and Billie Kay debuted on SmackDown and Paige was announced as the show's new general manager. And that was just the prelude to this year's Superstar Shakeup, which saw dozens of wrestlers switch brands.

Raw added Jinder Mahal (with Sunil Singh), The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan), Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, Zack Ryder, Breezango, Natalya, Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, Mike Kanellis, The Ascension, Bobby Roode, and Chad Gable.

The Miz's move to SmackDown was announced on Monday, then Jeff Hardy, Absolution (Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville), Samoa Joe, SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain), Big Cass, Asuka, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Cesaro & Sheamus, R-Truth, and Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega joining the show was revealed the next night.

We won't immediately know everyone who benefitted from the roster changes. On last year's Shakeup episode, Mahal coming to SmackDown was announced online before he lost to Rawley -- then Mahal won a number one contender's match the next week and went on to become WWE Champion. But even from the first two nights of the new rosters, some early judgments on how things will fare can already be made.

Here are a few winners and losers of the 2018 Superstar Shakeup:

Winners --

SmackDown: Unless they got completely stripped of talent, SmackDown was always going to come out ahead by changing its roster. The show has suffered a drastic drop in quality since the months after the brand split was reinstituted, and last year's Shakeup contributed to that decline. It disrupted a mix of top stars who were working well together, with Mahal holding the title for most of the year doing nothing to help things.

But with so many exciting wrestlers coming to SmackDown, it seems like WWE was directly responding to the rut the brand has been in. The Miz is coming back to the show and has a ready-made feud with Daniel Bryan. Joe should join AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bryan, and Randy Orton at the top of the card. Cesaro & Sheamus, SAnitY, and Gallows & Anderson are being added to a strong tag team division. And Almas and Vega have the most potential of any of the NXT call-ups from this month.

There are notable losses, but even the most pushed wrestlers who are going to Raw didn't have much left to do on Tuesday nights. Owens and Zayn needed a change in scenery after their feud with Shane McMahon had more than worn out its welcome. And Mahal, Ziggler, Corbin, and Roode would have just continued to be in a mid/upper midcard picture that wasn't compelling at all.

SmackDown being able to recapture what made it special in 2016 is far from certain. Its problems go deeper than the pieces that are available on the roster, and the show's quality will depend on how the new additions end up being used. But with everyone who is coming to the brand, there won't be any excuses if the show doesn't rebound this year.

Big Cass: No one made more of an immediate impact on their new home than Big Cass did. He returned from knee surgery and was put in a program with Bryan right away, insulting him backstage and laying him out with a big boot later.

Cass probably would have had success whether he returned on Raw or SmackDown. WWE is obviously high on him and are giving him every chance to thrive. Facing Bryan, who will be able to cover for Cass' limitations, gives him the best opportunity to succeed that he's gotten in his career.

Natalya: Going from the middle of SmackDown's women's division to sharing the screen with Ronda Rousey is the biggest jump that any woman could make in WWE. Natalya appeared to be turning face last Monday, with Rousey saving her from Absolution after their friendship was established on television.

Whether that on-screen pairing lasts is to be determined. A match against Rousey would be massive for Natalya, but any interaction they have is already enough of a win.

The Miz: If it wasn't for Bryan being cleared, Miz would be in the exact same position regardless of which show he was on. He has a role and excels at it, never moving too far up or down from his spot. A feud with Bryan will make Miz a legitimate main eventer for the time being and give him another chance to prove himself in that role.

Losers --

Raw: While SmackDown could only gain by changing its roster, Raw had a lot to lose in the Shakeup. The show has been close to as good as it's going to get in a three-hour format over the last year. It may not last much longer, but Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship run has been a huge positive for WWE.

The biggest reason to be optimistic about Raw going forward is that the main event picture is still pretty much intact. Lesnar is still with the company for now, with Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, and Finn Balor below him. Joe, Miz, and Asuka are the only irreplaceable wrestlers who left Raw.

But messing with something that was working is never a good idea, and the new arrivals will be taking up a significant portion of Raw's screen time. There's no reason to think wrestlers who were part of SmackDown's problems will make Raw better.

Asuka: She'll probably be fine in the long term, but Asuka's immediate future doesn't look overly promising. After her streak was ended by Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania, she saved Charlotte and Becky Lynch from Carmella, Royce, and Kay last Tuesday. Momentum is vital when someone's character is defined by how dominant they are. Instead of coming out of WrestleMania as an undefeated champion, it looks like she'll be one of Charlotte's sidekicks for now.

Drew McIntyre: You only get one chance at a reintroduction, and McIntyre's return from injury said a lot about how WWE views him. In his first appearance on main roster TV since being released in 2014, McIntyre aligned with Ziggler and attacked Titus Worldwide. It was the antithesis of Big Cass laying out Daniel Bryan the next night.

McIntyre being closer to the middle of the card than the top of it isn't surprising, but it's a bad sign that this was his first appearance back on TV.

SAnitY: It was past time for SAnitY to come up to the main roster. They just would have been better off if it was the entire group debuting. Having Nikki Cross stay in NXT makes plenty of sense -- she's needed down there and may have a better career because of it. But the act is inevitably going to lose something without her. She plays crazy better than Young, Wolfe, or Dain and adds so much to the stable.

Mexico Notes

by Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims

Time to go around the promotions and catch up on where things stand as of the moment in Mexican lucha libre. The past two issues were solely devoted to CMLL's Young Lions Tournament so there's some catching up to do.

CMLL is CMLL. Some things never change. No sooner does one Young Lions Tournament end – La Magia Blanca defeated Flyer to win the Copa de Nuevo Valores – than they announce another one. The annual Gran Alternativa tournament is coming up in a few weeks – they even announced the first eight teams – and this tournament, long past its prime and barely hanging on to usefulness, will nonetheless occupy a solid chunk of three weeks of CMLL Friday night cards. Not that much else is going on. On Friday 4/27, on the 62nd-anniversary-of-Arena-Mexico card, the main is a desultory ladies' hair match in which La Princesa Sugehit will take the hair of La Seductora, a fitting tribute to a division that itself is getting to be a bit geriatric. (I should note that this ladies' hair feud has been getting some heat at Arena Mexico, but I do not expect it to sell tickets.) The Kid's Day shows then come along, and the main one at Arena Mexico will feature some fun and costumes. Dragon Lee re-pulled his hamstring, it appears, last Friday night, and CMLL's most exciting tecnico continues to battle injuries as his career arc seems in danger of stalling at his present level, when he should be this generation's main Mexican superstar worldwide (okay, he or Rey Fenix). Finally, CMLL announced that the 85th Anniversary show would be September 14, 2018, at Arena Mexico. Rush keeps trying to steal L. A. Park away from Triplemania to have Park lose his mask here. I wish Rush luck. He may get Kraneo instead.

AAA is the reverse Titanic. 18 months ago it was everybody overboard. Now those same people, and more, are all back in or headed back in. On their latest television taping, this past Friday night 4/20 in Tijuana, Kevin Kross, Juventud Guerrera, Teddy Hart (sans gateaux), six crazy young opening-match guys, and apparently Konnan (shown on video board but not live) joined Maximo and La Mascara as jumping from THE CRASH to AAA. Konnan's rejoining the troupe in the front office can only be a positive as the office needs much in the way of experience and help. This was the first episode in what should be a four-or-five-TV-taping storyline to introduce their new main-event heel faction (of course they brought in a main event heel faction; those factions always require a manager). It just strikes me that relying on Teddy Hart, Juventud Guerrera, and a man with multiple hip operations to lead the venality side of the ledger may be expecting too much of the wrong people.

THE CRASH is, well, no, not well. As you can see via the AAA section, talent retention is not doing too well. I hesitate to come to that conclusion when their next show features Penta 0M, Rey Fenix, Flamita, Bandido, Laredo Kid, Garza junior, Daga, Mesias, Caristico-for-a-night, and several good foreign workers. That's some world-class talent there. And yet, the great sense is that the promotion is failing. If there be no giant news elsewhere, that's what we will go over at length in these pages next week. They certainly are not now where they hoped or even expected to be 15 months ago.

LUCHA:UNDERGROUND has finished its tapings for Season 4. It seems that season will start airing in June. Not sure how many people still really care anymore, not too many from what I can tell, but (minor spoiler here) one wonders how the fans who are left and who wait until the show airs to find out things are going to take Jack Swagger as a main-event/top-star luchador. As ever here, the stories and non-wrestling parts of the shows can make for great fun, on their own and adding to the matches, so my fingers are crossed.

Japan Notes

by Bryan Rose (@br26)

Big title matches in New Japan this weekend mean we gotta take an extra look at what's going down.

The last two Road to Wrestling Dontaku shows will air on 4/23 and 4/24 on New Japan World. The first night will have El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru challenge Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI for the IWGP Jr. tag team titles. These belts have been switching hands far too often in the last few months -- Roppongi 3K, who only made their return in November, are already two time champions, just to put it in perspective. I'd like to see Desperado and Kanemaru retain here because it'd be cool if someone can retain these titles at least one time. The champions also compliment each other well; Kanemaru is good in the ring but really bland as a personality. Pairing him with Desperado, who is more well rounded and charismatic makes them a solid team.

4/24 has Jay White defending the IWGP United States title against David Finlay. This doesn't pique my interest much, honestly. White is continuing fto himself in his new role as Switchblade, and I think he's improved in the last few months, but is still unproven at this level. David Finlay is in the same boat -- he's fine in tags, but that's all he's been in.. Much like at Strong Style Evolved, the two really need to go into this match and wow the audience. The good news is that unlike the Walter Pyramid, Korakuen Hall is a great place for a match like this as the crowds are always hot for everything. They need to prove that they can break out of the midcard pack and really stand out as top New Japan talent.

Wrestling Hinokuni on 4/29 has two title matches. Current champs SANADA and EVIL will challenge the Killer Elite Squad in what I think will be a pretty fun bout, since they are second from the top. Question is, who will walk out with the titles? KES can be champions at any time -- neither Archer or Smith are breaking out as singles stars. SANADA and EVIL could spend most of this year teaming, but is that the direction? Both are great as singles wrestlers and can branch out on their own at any time. Looks like we'll get an answer soon.

Minoru Suzuki will face Tetsuya Naito in his first IWGP Intercontinental title defense. I'm not sure who will win this one, as I feel it could go either way. Naito's always involved himself in the IC title scene, and another run wouldn't be too surprising. Suzuki, however, has been presented strong thus far this year, thrashing Tanahashi to win the title in February and presenting himself as someone as a force to be reckoned with. These two have never had a consistent program, so it should be really fun to see how they do against one another.

Before we go, the All Japan Champion Carnival is starting to wind down, with one more week of action to go. Here are current standings as of 4/21:

A Block: Yuji Hino and Kento Miyahara have eight points. Joe Doering and Shingo Takagi have six points. Ryoji Sai has four points and Naoya Nomura and The Bodyguard have two points.

B Block: Suwama, Zeus and Jun Akiyama lead with eight points. Naomichi Marufuji has six points. Yoshitatus, KAI and Dylan James have four points. Yutaka Yoshie trails with just two points.

We'll have full coverage of the finals, which take place on 4/30, in the coming weeks.

Europe Notes

by Oliver Court

Ilja Dragunov and WALTER had another cracker in the main event of wXw's latest major show, True Colors. The build-up heavily hyped the match with footage from their 5-star match in the 16 Carat 2017 Final as well as Dragunov's incredible return at this year's 16 Carat, and this match more than lived up to the legacy that those two matches created. Dragunov is the perfect man to use as a 'never give up' babyface champion, because he can take a beating, look like death, then keep coming back for more in an authentic manner. There was no Super Cena heroics here, just a tough bastard doing things that were sometimes quite difficult to watch. WALTER once again leathered him in this match, reopening the chest wound he had already given to Ilja at Carat for some more sick visuals.

The beauty of this match that separated it from their prior encounters was WALTER heeling it up, being a big bully and kicking Ilja in a condescending manner when he was down, before getting mad at the referee when he couldn't put away Dragunov and knocking him out with a big boot. WALTER acted entitled to a championship victory, referencing his status as a member of the wXw office by grabbing Rainer Ringer (not Tassilo Jung, another office guy who usually refs the main events, but almost certainly didn't start this one for this visual to work) by the shirt collar as if to say 'Don't you know who I am?' This was such a little moment in a major match but it made the story resonate to another level and set up WALTER as a potential major heel for the promotion with Bones out of the picture now.

After WALTER was disqualified for attacking Ringer, Dragunov demanded the match be restarted and eventually picked up the clean win after more punishment. Despite all the ref bumps and stoppages, this match wasn't just great story advancement but delivered as a complete experience in isolation, which is a rare balance to strike. Dragunov and WALTER are the two best main event wrestlers in Europe right now, so there has to be another match with a fully-heel WALTER in the pipeline.

Vinny's TV Reviews

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

Sammartino: The Legend Lives

WWE Network already got this up -- it actually debuted last year -- so we're picking and choosing some stuff... Bruno Sammartino vs. Killer Kowalski (4/29/74). Joined in progress with Kowalski and his amazing hair stomping away at Bruno and tying his arm in the ropes. Vincent Kennedy McMahon was on commentary. Sometimes I forget how old he is. Bruno made a comeback and kicked the leg out of his leg. THE STATE OF KOWALSKI'S HAIR. It was like he shaved the back and sides and was growing out the top, and the hair on the top was just going everywhere. They went down in a mutual gutwrench and grappled for position for a while. Killer hit some more stomps and went up top, but Bruno yanked him down by the arm and hit a bodyslam for two. Kowalski hid in the ropes, and Bruno was too sporting to attack, and then Killer hooked an ABDOMINAL CLAW. He wasn't even pretending to dig into the abs, he was just pinching him. I like that Killer had a lightning bolt on his tights. Because he's all about SPEED. They were trading kicks when suddenly Killer hit a dropkick to the back and Bruno went flying out of the ring. Bruno got knocked out again, this time into the lap of a man with an enormous afro. Sign THAT guy. A very little old woman stepped up to yell at the ref. Kowalski hit a series of punches in the corner and you could actually see the razor blade in Bruno's fingers. Ah, HD. So Bruno was bleeding and Killer kept punching and biting him. Bruno started to fire up and the police had to pull grown women back from the ring. And then Bruno made his comeback and GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY THIS REACTION. And the fire Bruno showed. They were brawling and it was out of control and the ref disqualified both men. The fight continued and you could see some woman hitting Killer with her purse. Other wrestlers hit the ring to separate them and Killer eventually bailed. In 24:15 the match was ruled a DRAW. Crowd did not like that one bit. Eventually Arnold Skaaland raised Bruno's arm and Bruno made his exit. In many ways, this did not hold up in modern eyes, but OH MY LORD the last two minutes. Everyone needs to see this just to watch what Bruno meant to these people and how much they believed in him... Bruno Sammartino vs. Spiros Arion in a GREEK DEATH MATCH (4/14/75). This was submission only, no DQ, no countout, no ref stoppage, no pinfalls. Furious Freddie Blassie was out there in an ascot like Fred from Scooby-Doo. The managers were sent to the back and THE FIGHT WAS ON. It was awesome. Bruno would hit a headshot and Spiros would grab his head. Then Bruno would hit a gutshot and Spiros would grab his gut. So Bruno would go to the head again and they'd just repeat this for like a minute. Just tremendous. Arion got some offense after a low blow. So weird to watch this kind of match. Compared to modern wrestling that is all about MOVES, all over the world, 90 percent of Bruno's offense was punches, kicks, and kneelifts. It's a much safer style obviously, because nobody's taking bumps or falling on their head. He got Spiros in a bearhug. Spiros hit another low blow and Vince called it a FOUL. They brawled back and forth for a while. There was plenty of action. Arion teased a piledriver on the apron. Yes, in 1974. The action just stopped for a while, then Bruno started choking him with a tag rope. Finally Spiros hit an atomic drop, which was like a Canadian destroyer in 1974, but then mised a top rope kneedrop and Bruno began to work the leg. And he hooked a half-crab and Spiros submitted and that was that. Now you know where Lance Storm got his finish. He stole it from Bruno Sammartino. Bruno continued his attack, choking Spiros in the ropes for a while, then made his exit. They said this went almost 15 minutes. It felt longer... Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko in a steel cage (8/9/80). Yes, the Shea Stadium match. They said there were technical difficulties but we saw Larry's introductions. Well, most of them. Bruno hit the cage and immdiately started throwing Larry into the, uh, cage. Over and over again. He was not messing around. After having the dramatic part in his hair and the sideburns throughout the 1970s, Bruno was moving into the 1980s here with his perm. Larry -- yes -- hit a low blow to cut him off. There were no announcers here, because Vince did the ring intros and then, I guess, went home. They ran a scroller saying look, there were no commentators there, this isn't our fault. Bruno went into the cage a bunch. Larry tried to climb out but got yanked down. Bruno hit a tree slam, then more cage shots. Larry went up top and got slammed off again. He tried to jump all the way across the ring and nearly fell on his head. Larry beat Bruno down and started berating him, then posed and taunted the fans. Bruno was bleeding from the arm so Larry started punching it. He tried to walk out the door but Bruno yanked him back in with the good arm. He made a comeback, still cradling his bad arm. He called for the door to be open, saluted Larry, and walked out to win. Doctors immediately started tending to his arm. Larry came out, and his dramatic tumble off the steps may have been the best part in the match. Bruno punched him twice more, then Larry raised Bruno's arm and tumbled away. Well, these were different, that's for sure.

Retro Raw 307 (4/19/99)

A hearse drove into the arena, but it wasn't the Undertaker, it was the Rock. He cut a promo about throwing Austin and the belt off the bridge last week. He announced there would be a funeral for Steve Austin's career tonight, and they had a whole grave set up with dirt and a casket and everything. And that was that... Road Dogg vs. Owen Hart. They came out to wrestle, then Dogg challenged him to put the top contendership to the tag team championship on the line against Debra's puppies. I don't know if that's the first time somebody on Raw said puppies, but Lawler sure enjoyed it. Debra whispered something in Owen's ear and he apparently accepted. They had a fun three-minute match and Dogg won clean with a pumphandle slam. Debra got in the ring and seemed to have no problem disrobing, but Jeff Jarrett ran out to put a stop to it... Taker ordered the Acolytes to take care of the Brood... Rock was backstage rehearsing his eulogy... Edge & Gangrel vs. Acolytes. No stage due to the grave, so the Brood just had to come out and kneel amidst some candles. Suprised they didn't just make this a 3-on-2 match. Heat on Gangrel, who failed to draw much sympathy as a vampire in peril. Edge's hot tag lasted like three moves and then the Acolytes laid him out and hit a tandem powerbomb. Ken Shamrock ran out and laid out Bradshaw with a baseball bat. Apparently one of the vampires pinned Bradshaw but I can't be sure because the camera just showed Shamrock hitting stuff with the bat at ringside. It was a DQ... Taker was pissed off backstage. Paul Bearer tried to reason with him. "It wasn't really their fault. He hit them with a damn bat!" Taker would have none of this... During the break, the Acolytes tried to plead their case. Viscera and Taker laid them out and put the boots to them... Godfather vs. Hardcore Holly. Ref got bumped in a minute. Holly repeatedly waffled Godfather in the head with a cookie sheet and broke a broom over his back. This is not a hardcore match. Holly grabbed a chair but Godfather booted it into his face. Ref recovered and counted two but Goldust yanked Godfather out of the ring. Al Snow showed up and hit Holly with head and Godfather pinned him. Godfather laid out Goldust and Holly chased Al through the crowd. I hated every single solitary second of this segment with every fiber of my being. Everything that sucked about the Attitude Era was on perfect display right here... Undertaker, on the phone, warned Mideon not to fail him or he would face penance at the hands of the Lord of Darkness... A woman was shining Rock's shoes. Rock promised not to hurt Austin tonight, he was going to wait till Backlash... Ken Shamrock vs. Big Bossman. Say one thing, these two fuckers could throw some punches. May have been really clobbering each other but they looked great either way. Shamrock hit a frankensteiner out of nowhere, then the belly-to-belly for the pin. Taker appeared on the screen and said he couldn't believe Shamrock would leave his sister alone in a run-down hotel outside of Lansing, and threatened to knock on Room 223. Shamrock went sprinting to the back... Mankind vs. Triple H. Mean Street Posse were doing commentary, appalled that Mankind had jumped them from behind last week. They did a long, forgettable mid-Raw match. Mankind got knocked outside and Chyna slammed him out there. Mankind made his comeback and went for the sock, but Chyna tripped him and yanked his balls into the post for the DQ. You couldn't have done that five minutes ago? The Corporation and Posse all stomped Mankind. Until Show came out to make the save. Hunter was calling shots for the Corporation, sacrificing Test the rest of them could flee. The chokeslams Show was doing at this point, holding guys up high in the air with their legs sticking into the sky, were always breathtaking. Mankind then cut a promo thanking Show for the assist, but saying they still had a date in six days in the boiler room. Show agreed. What a strange build this is... Rock was at his limo on a cellular phone running down Austin... Billy Gunn vs. Jeff Jarrett. Gunn accused Jeff Jarrett of stopping people from seeing TNA. How ironic. Owen came out and attacked Billy on the floor until Roadie ran out and chased him away. Ref stopped to deal with Dogg and Owen and Jarrett murdered Billy repeatedly. There was constant bullshit with Owen, Debra, and Dogg. Billy was about to make a cover when Debra opened her jacket. Billy responded by mooning her and hitting Jeff with a fame asser and Owen attacking for the DQ. Lawler marking out for Debra's boobs was the most annoying thing ever. So the match was over and Debra was all set to reveal her boobs and Jarrett blocked her and took her to the back... A producer asked Rock if he wanted to do an interview with "dot com." Rock didn't know what that was and called her a skank and told her to go get some food... Big Show vs. Viscera. Show may have actually been the wider man here. His shoulders sure were, though Viscera was a satchel ass and was wider in the lower body. Show hit a beele, which went about as well as it possibly could have. Viscera was moving here, hitting the ropes and everything. Show signaled for the chokeslam when the lights went out, then Taker came out to the ring. Taker and Show brawled. They teased chokeslamming each other when Viscera jumped Show from behind and they double-teamed him. Mankind came running out to make the save. Taker abandoned Viscera to take the beating. Mankind saluted Show and left... They recapped Shane turning on the McMahons last week, then did a live interview with Vince and Stephanie from WWF Studios. At least the dumbass didn't bring his daughter to the show this week. Vince talked about being on the road building a business and missing a lot of Shane growing up, and he had always been proud of Shane until last Monday. Stephanie had a huge smile about how she didn't know her own flesh and blood any more, but her father had always been by her side. Suddenly security appeared and said there was a problem in the parking lot. He went charging into the parking lot, leaving Stephanie in the protective care of Michael Cole. Mideon was outside and Vince kicked his ass, trying to run him over in a car. Mideon dodged, yanked Vince out of the car, and drove away... Val Venis came out for a promo. He made a dick joke and then Sable came out. Val gave her the mic and stepped back. She said his match would have to wait because she had an announcement. In two weeks she would be shooting her second edition of Playboy. "I guess she's going to get naked again," Ross observed. Ivory and D-Lo Brown came storming out for some reason. Ivory went right after Sable and D-Lo started brawling with Val. The dudes brawled into the crowd as Nicole Bass came out to woman-handle Ivory. She tried to do a Big Show chokeslam. Eventually D-Lo pulled Ivory out of the ring and carried her away. Well this was shitty and pointless... Rock came out for Austin's funeral. he badmouthed Austin a bit, then revealed he was still wearing the smoking skulls belt. He promised to bury the belt tonight and then bury Austin at Backlash. At this point Austin arrived in the parking lot in a monster truck. He found the car with "THE ROCK" license plates and put it in position. Announcers were totally clueless as to what would happen next. Morons. So Austin drove over the car in his monster truck. A few times. Then he drove the truck into the building and down the aisle. He drank a beer, then drove the truck over Rock's hearse. And yes, Austin was really driving. Then he climbed out and started brawling with Rock in the aisle. Rock took a hell of a beating here, including going upside down into a guardrail and then sliding down it onto his head. Austin knocked Rock into the grave, retrieved his belt, and poured some beer on Rock. This would all have you thinking that Austin was doomed at the PPV. Just then Shane appeared, breaking a shovel over Austin's head, and holding up the belt. Well, there you go... The finishes on this show were: clean pin but then no payoff on the stips; no-contest after interference with baseball bat, I think; bullshit; clean pin; DQ due to nuts being yanked into post; DQ due to interference; and in the main event, non-finish due to Undertaker.

WCW Monday Nitro 188 (4/19/99)

Goldberg arrived at the building and told us he was challenging DDP for the world title tonight... Scott & Steve Armstrong vs. Dean Malenko & Chris Benoit. Best Horsemen match in a while. Armstrongs knew how to do a tag match, and even though they were the babyfaces, they were also geeks, and the fans roared when the Horsemen took over and started cheating like crazy. A massive "GOLDBERG" chant broke out at random. Heat on Steve, then Scott made a big comeback. Steve stopped to brawl with Arn on the floor, but Benoit kicked his ass, and Dean finished Scott off with a butterfly powerbomb and Texas cloverleaf. Well that ruled... Roddy Piper looked over some contracts backstage... Randy Savage arrived, but Doug Dillinger said Ric Flair had barred him from the building. Piper arrived and said he was commissioner, he would take responsibility for letting Savage and Gorgeous George in... Mean Gene brought DDP out for an interview. Page could barely speak over the Goldberg chants. He wished Hulk Hogan well going into surgery and said being world champion had been the greatest week of his life. He said Goldberg wanted to be him, and there's nothing he'd like more than to defend the title tonight, but that wasn't going to happen. This brought Goldberg out. This crowd was just ridiculously hot. "I'M OUTTA HERE!" Gene screamed. Goldberg and Page screamed at each other and Schiavonie somehow determined that Page had accepted Goldberg's challene. Well OK then... Piper met with David Flair, who was drinking Surge. They confirmed the contract covered 72 hours, just for observation, and David signed a contract and laughed... Gene interviewed Page backstage. Page said the title would be on the line, and he had never backed down from a challenge in his life. Gene had them show the footage of Page putting Hogan in a ringpost figure-four at Spring Stampede... Psychosis vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Blitzkrieg. Alex Wright was shown sitting in the crowd as BERLIN. These little bastards went out there and wasted no time in beating the shit out of each other. Just non-stop violence. They largely worked it like a tag match with Rey & Blitzkrieg against Juvy & Psychosis. Dudes continued to kick the fuck out of each other. This went for a long time, going as long as the opening tag and THEN going through a break. Dives aplenty with bodies just going everywhere. Eventually everyone started to run out of gas. This was a goddamn war. There were some boring chants mixed in with the cheers as this thing just refused to end, but I assure you it was never boring. Finally Psychosis dropped Blitzkrieg with an avalanche gourdbuster and Tijuana jam to win the match and the title. This went more than 17 minutes, PLUS the commercial break. And at no point did it feel over-choreographed, it felt like a fight, just a fight with a lot of dives and kicks. This was just awesome, pushing the **** level... Mean Gene brought out Ric Flair for a promo. Flair came out in a Florida Gators t-shirt under his jacket to suck up to the crowd. He promised to buy a drink for everyone who went out with him later. He was ranting about being president when Piper interrupted. Fans loved Flair so they hated Piper. Piper said Flair was out of his mind and signing papers without even reading them. He was Ric's friend, but Ric needed to step down as president. Piper talked about Flair handcuffing himself to the ropes and stripping to his shorts. "I've seen him with his pants off many times," Arn said. "It don't mean anything, it's just Ric." So Ric stripped to his Florida boxers. "I AM RIC FLAIR! THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!" Gene corrected him "WCW!" Piper said he had some papers for Gene to read, and he didn't like it, but he would enforce it. So Gene read a court order that said Roderick Piper and David Flair had Ric Flair declared incompetent. Flair defied this and ordered Piper fired. Piper then announced Flair vs. Kevin Nash for tonight. Wait. Hold on. So a COURT OF LAW has determined that Flair is mentally ill and unfit to run the company, but it's OK to book him in a pro wrestling match where he will be in great physical danger? Flair screamed that Piper was fired and Piper screamed that he wasn't repeatedly. Flair then booked himself against Piper for Slamboree, and if Piper won, he could run this damn company, "you're fired though." That was awesome. This segment was devoid of logic and made absolute negative sense and I don't give a damn, Piper and Flair were amazingly awesome here, and this was just tremendous... The B-Teamers told Konnan that Nash was looking for him. He tried to blow them off so they beat his ass... So here is what Schiavonie explained after the break: "Ric Flair has been now deemed incompetent and is no longer president. But he still fired Roddy Piper. But he said he'll fire him after he fights him at Slamboree when they go one-on-one, which Piper agreed to. But Ric Flair, who is fired, and is no longer president because he's incompetent, but has fired Piper, and they'll wrestle at Slamboree on May 9, will still wrestle tonight against Big Sexy Kevin Nash on this program." THIS IS MY FAVORITE NITRO EVER... Brian Knobbs vs. Hak in a trash can kendo stick match. YES. Chastity was out there with a whole bin full of plunder and she kept throwing things into the ring even as Hak was getting destroyed. And let me tell you, these dudes destroyed each other. Tables and ladders and chairs were used. "A ladder is very important in setting up the ring," Schiavonie noted. Why were there so many milk crates in this match? "A knee in the buttocks," Schiavonie said, though he pronounced it "butt talks." Hak tried a senton through a table but Knobbs dodged and made a cover for a two-count. Chastity tried to take a kendo stick from Knobbs, so he called her a bitch, but then Hak waffled him with a trashcan. The carnage continued but then Bam Bam Bigelow hit Hak with a stick and Hak fell on a ladder and Knobbs dropped a trash can on Hak for the win. I'm going to ignore the long-term repercussions of these headshots and just say this was a fun garbage match... Savage did a backstage promo saying this was the most recent time in his career. Word. He hyped up the Gorgeous George-Charles Robinson match, then brought in Madusa, saying she'd be training George for the match. Madusa said she had always wanted to wrestle a man, and would be proud to help George make a statement... The B-Teamers were hanging out when their dad walked in from the barbecue. Wait, that's Kevin Nash in short-sleeve shirt, jorts, and sandals. He was upset they had given a message to Konnan. Scott Steiner interrupted and said he should get a title shot, not Nash, and it was on Nash to change it. He left, and Stevie Ray said they knew what Nash was doing behind their back. He told them not to mess with him and left. Stevie Ray said they had taken Konnan out tonight, and they'd take out Scott Norton later. I think. I'm not sure. I don't know what's happening... Buff Bagwell came out for a promo and challenged Scott Steiner to a US title match at Slamboree... Buff Bagwell vs. Disco Inferno. They had the most basic, fun match. Like something straight out of the 1980s, with bodyslams and hiptosses and atomic drops, and it was awesome. Buff avoided the stunner, which is now called the last dance, and hit a running blockbuster for the win. Good stuff... Scott Steiner came out with some women. Much hotter than Godfather's women, I should add. He cut a promo on Marcus Alexander Bagwell, saying his ego was so big it was blurring his vision of reality. He said a guy putting on a G-string and being an exotic dancer didn't belong in the nWo, so when he got tired of having a cheerleader and left Buff laying, there was a reason nobody helped him. When Buff was born, his mama wanted a girl but she got Buff. Real men don't wax their eyebrows, and real men aren't Chippendale's dancers. He started calling Boy Bagwell, said he was flaming, and said he'd enjoy beating the hell out of him. Crowd chanted "STEROIDS!" This ruled... Raven vs. Kidman. Short. Raven took virtually the whole thing. Kidman tried a shooting star press but Raven blocked it with a chair and then Benoit and Malenko attacked both men. Saturn and Rey Jr. cleaned house, but then they argued and went at it, and the Horsemen ran back out. Nothing match but a fun angle... Scott Norton vs. Scott Steiner. Steiner came out and shook hands with Bobby Heenan, but threatened Schiavonie. Announcers had no idea why these two nWo dudes were fighting when Konnan was supposed to be out there. So Norton was apparently filling in for Konnan. These two big mean guys had the meanest guy match ever. Deafening "STEROIDS!" chants so Steiner flexed a lot. Norton went for the shoulderbreaker but the ref got bumped in the phoniest manner ever and Steiner hit a low blow and got the win with his feet on the ropes. Fun while it lasted... Kevin Nash came out and threatened to give Flair the beating of his life. He wished well to Hulk Hogan, and promised to break Page's back. He teased a match against Goldberg if Goldberg won the title tonight... Kevin Nash vs. Ric Flair. Exactly what you would expect. Flair got his ass kicked and took a bunch of 7-foot backdrops. Finally Charles Robinson pretended to have something in his eye and Flair and Arn yanked Nash's nuts into the post for the heat. Flair worked the knee a lot. Also, the balls. Nash made a comeback, still selling his knee. Flair was such a great heel that fans cheered for this. He hit the big boot and knocked Arn off the apron, then powerbombed Flair and made a cover. Robinson refused to count, leavinng the ring to check on Arn. Gorgeous George ran down and laid Robinson out, tore off his ref's shirt, and put it on. Nash put his foot on Flair's chest and George made a slow count and Flair remained dead and Nash won. Doctors in white coats ran out with a stretcher. These did not look like your standard EMTs. Arn was screaming at them to be careful as they manhandled him out of the ring and onto the stretcher, then wheeled him out. Piper was there to taunt him, wanting to make sure they still had a match at the next PPV. They loaded him into a van. "Where's all the life support stuff?" Arn asked. They slid Flair into the van. They closed the doors, showing signs reading "CENTRAL FLORIDA MENTAL HOSPITAL." Flair was slapping the windows trying to get out as Piper said they would have basket-weaving and plenty of PG videos for Flair to watch... Goldberg vs. DDP. Dusty Rhodes joined the announce desk. They were jaw-jacking and both shoved the ref down, then bumped knuckles. Crowd loved Goldberg so much that when he hit anything they drowned out the announcers. Goldberg avoided a few diamond cutters and hit a spear but couldn't keep Page down for 3. Goldberg missed a spear and hit the corner and Page hit a diamond cutter, but Goldberg kicked out. Page pulled out a gimmick, but when Goldberg tried a spear Page pulled the ref in the way. Goldberg hit a jackhammer, no ref. Page hit Goldberg with the gimmick, then started attacking the knee with stairs and a chair. Hysterical spot where Page swung a chair and a ref was supposed to grab it, but the ref wasn't there, so Page just froze. He tried again and this time a ref grabbed it and Page yanked him into the guardrail. He went to put Goldberg in the ringpost figure-four but Nash ran out and chased him away. Nash and Goldberg had what I can only call a tender embrace, and Page wacked Nash with the title belt. This was actually the weakest thing on the show, with no finish in the main event and just confusion about who was on who's side. Still a great episode, the best Nitro in a LOOOOOOONG time... The finishes on this show were: clean submission; clean pin; pin in a hardcore match; clean pin; DQ due to interference; pin after low blow with feet on the ropes; clean pin despite a bunch of shenanigans; no finish in the main event.

WWE NXT (4/18/18)

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae came out for a promo. Crowd chanted his name and welcomed him back. He said he had his life back and was back where he belonged. He thanked the fans for chanting his name and waving his signs while he was fired. He took her hand and said the past few months had been hard on them and everyone sarcastically groaned and he laughed. He said they had one last piece of unfinished business, and Candice took the mic and announced she would go one-on-one with Zelina Vega. Johnny casually threw out a challenge to Aleister Black for the NXT championship and that was that... Killian Dain cut a promo in the parking lot, with his music playing. He blamed Lars Sullivan for his loss at TakeOver, and promised to take him out tonight... Ricochet vs. Fabian Aichner. Mauro brought up Fabian's Italian heritage and mentioned Bruno Sammartino with no mention of his passing. That's unfortunate. Obviously this was taped last week. Fabian Aichner got way too much offense here. It looked fine, but Ricochet's making his TV debut here and has hands full with FABIAN AICHNER, who is rarely on TV and never wins. Eventually Ricochet hit the 630 senton for the win. Kayla interviewed him on the ramp. He said it felt great to debut in NXT and rattled off some stars of the past who were on the main roster now... They recapped the WAR RAIDERS debuting last week, running in and killing everyone... EC3 hype video. He's in the top 1 percent... Then Lars Sullivan cut a promo in the parking lot, looking down at the camera like he was looking down the beanstalk. He promised to show Killian Dane why he was a freak of nature. THIS RULED... War Raiders vs. JC & Chris. Not making that up. JC AND CHRIS. Two geeks in black jeans and white t-shirts. I'm not sure about the Raiders' wacky new headgear. They destroyed these geeks and won with the back suplex/legdrop combo, which is still called fallout. This is how Ricochet's match should have gone... Sara Del Rey was giving a speech to the women's roster when Shayna Baszler showed up late and took over. She yanked Ember's name off a locker and put a queen of spades in its place. She told all the women to get in line or leave if they were scared. Some anonymous woman got up to leave and Shayna bullied her. OK, that was funny... Kona Reeves is coming back. He's THE FINEST now. This was indy-riffic... Earlier Today, Pete Dunne said he'd be back in a couple of weeks to get his hands on Roderick Strong, and he was going to rip his head off... Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain in a no-DQ match. Dain hit a tope early, but Sullivan just pushed him into the post and suplexed him on the floor. Lars hit a belly-to-back suplex in the ring, then a clothesline from the top rope to the floor. Killian did about nothing to break his fall and Lars went crashing into the steel. Killian's nose was bleeding. Lars hit a top rope headbutt but Killian kicked out, so Lars threw a bunch of plunder into the ring. Killian made a comeback and brought out a table. It got set up in the corner. Lars tried another diving headbutt but Killian dodged and Lars hit a chair. Dain tried a crossbody, but Lars caught him with a powerslam, but Dain kicked out at 1, then finally hit the crossbody through the table. Lars made a comeback with a chair, then hit a freak accident on top of two chairs for the win. This probably went longer than it needed to but they killed each other a lot, no doubt about that... Candice-Zelina hype video, which was mostly a Johnny-Andrade hype video... Undisputed Era were walking around with their title belts and just being total douchebags. This was great. They promised all four dudes would be on TV next week to explain themselves...Candice LeRae vs. Zelina Vega. Andrade came out and distracted Candice and Zelina yanked her off the top rope and almost right onto her head. Yikes. They went back and forth a bit with some very obvious edits. Candice did a headscissors into what I guess was supposed to be the Gargano escape. Almas hit the ring and Johnny hit him with the same move. Zelina tapped out. Crowd liked all this a lot. Johnny said that was their last piece of unfinished business, and he dramatically challenged Aleister Black. Well this would have been more effective if he hadn't mentioned Aleister earlier. Black came out. Mauro pointed out that Gargano was the only man to have pinned Black in NXT. Aleister accepted Johnny's challenge for next week and that was that. Decent show that introduced some new faces and storylines.

Impact Wrestling: Redemption (4/22/18)

OK, let's start with that name: They outright acknowledge that Impact Wrestling, as a brand, is a name that needs to be REDEEMED for all the sins it has committed to the past. Yeah, good luck with that. So the opening video airs and then you hear the producer or whatever counting the crowd down to the opening of the live broadcast because after nearly two decades of existence this is still a low-rent rinky-dink production... Drago vs. Aero Star. All kinds of references and plugs for Lucha Underground, which was weird. Early highlight was Josh mentioning the blinking lights on Aero Star's gear and Dan Callis saying he would throw water on the man and electrocute him. They did some high-level lucha, fast-paced and loaded with flying kicks and dives. They did slow down for a bit about eight minutes in, but just long enough to catch their breath, then Aero Star hit a tope. Drago hit a powerbomb, then Aero did a silly flipping stunner off the ropes, then fucked up a springboard, then it looked like he fucked it up again but was still able to hit a springboard codebreaker for the win. Well this sure would have been better if it had been several minutes shorter. It had already gone too long, then there were the fuckups at the end. Even the announcers were like, he must have had an injured knee, and he didn't get all of that move but Drago was out of gas. (**1/2)... Earlier Today, Josh Matthews took credit for all of Matt Sydal's success and they had a silly discussion about caterpillars and butterflies. Callis buried it...Eli Drake & Scott Steiner vs. LAX. First, LAX were playing dominoes and fucking around when they got a phone call. It was distressing news. Apparently somebody had taken out K-Dogg. Callis said something about how nobody had ever transitioned from tag team wrestler to singles main eventer like Steiner. Um, Shawn Michaels? Bret Hart? Booker T? Plenty have. The video package led me to believe that Steiner was a babyface, but the live crowd hated him and he had no problem with that. I only see one or two Impact shows a year, but I have to say this was the hottest crowd I've seen on one of their shows in a LOOOOONG time. They low-bridged Ortiz for the heat. Scott tagged in, wrestling in a shirt, and everyone booed. He is 55 and, well, wrestles like it. He was able to hit a belly-to-belly, but just barely. Otherwise he was moving real slow. Callis said he should stick to tag matches where he could get lots of rest on the apron. I just watched the Andre the Giant documentary and they said the same thing about him. Though Scott is almost a decade older now than Andre was when he died. Santana tagged in and LAX did a bunch of flips. Scott ran in and was able to hit some overhead throws. Crowd still hated him. He actually hit the top rope Frankensteiner. It looked like he killed himself and he sold it like he was dead. LAX were set up for a double-team, but the dude on the top rope chose to dive onto Steiner on the floor instead of on Drake in the ring. Drake then hit the gravy train for the win. Not a bad little tag match, honestly. (**3/4)... Pentagon Jr. cut a backstage promo on Fenix and Austin Aries in Spanish. He called himself Pentagon Jr, not Penta El Zero M. Short but good... Trevor Lee vs. Dezmond Xavier vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. El Hijo Del Fantasma vs. DJZ vs. Brian Cage. They had El Hijo Del Fantasma's graphic up when Ishimori came out. Because rinky-dink, low-rent, etc. Um, one man does not fit in this match. Cage may weigh as much as the other five dudes put together. All the tiny men did wacky spots as Cage just leaned in the corner, chillin'. DJZ now has an airhorn that goes off whenever he calls for it. The minis kept doing their thing as the crowd demanded Cage. Lee cheap-shotted him a few times. Cage finally tagged in and murdered Lee, then it turned into a giant spotfest with everyone taking turns running wild. A few more guys screwed up springboards, so apparently it wasn't just Aero Star's fault. They kept teasing Fantasma's tope before he hit it. Xavier did a move that was seriously three flips and a kick. It went a little too long and Josh asked how this could possibly end. Then Cage grabbed Xavier and killed him with a Steiner screwdriver for the win. Best thing on the show so far. (***1/4)... Allie did a nervous, awkward backstage promo about Su Yung and somebody she couldn't trust. I don't know, I was getting pizza... Taya Valkyrie vs. Kiera Hogan. Imagine the temerity to break into pro wrestling and use the last name "Hogan." She was an itty-bitty little thing. They did some lucha, but we had already seen lots of good lucha on this show. Tessa Blanchard crashed the announce desk. This was a squash match for Taya with Tessa getting a chance to put herself order. This is basic TV stuff, not mid-PPV content. Also, the match was bad, with the two women falling all over each other. Minutes went by. Bad minutes. They just kept going. Taya finally won with glam slam, which she calls the road to Valhalla. (1/2*)... Petey Williams cut a promo about his odds of winning tonight when Scott Steiner interrupted. OK, this is awesome. Scott said the most success he had in wrestling and the most time he ever made love to his wife was when he looked like Scotty. Petey invited Scotty to Cracker Barrel and Scotty said to bring his wife. Best thing on the show... Petey Williams vs. Matt Sydal. Sydal's new gimmick is talking about his spirit guide and a higher power and his third eye. Oh, fuck this bullshit. They had footage from IWA Mid-South, claiming that Petey's first-ever Canadian destroyer was on Sydal. Sydal kept blabbing about his OPEN THIRD EYE. Oh, FUCK YOU. Oh god Pete came to THAT version of Oh Canada. The one that used to play six times a show. I'm still sick of it. Josh started giving out X Division stats, including the fact there have been sixty-some different reigns. That title is 16 years old. So on average it has changed hands about four times a year. That's pathetic. We got more lucha. Jesus, every match on this show is the same. Crowd felt the same, and was much more quiet now than they had been when the show started. I don't think I've seen Petey since he was fired, but I still recognized all his signature spots -- standing on the guy's nuts i the corner, doing a headscissors into a Russian legsweep. Both guys tried their finishers but couldn't hit them. Sydal made another attempt at the shooting star but Sydal got the knees up, and Petey finally hit the destroyer, but Sydal rolled out of the ring. Petey tried one off the top rope, but Sydal backdropped him free. Sydal missed the shooting star, but hit a pumphandle cradle thing for the win. Yes, this was the story, with the build being that whoever hit their move first would win, and then that's not what happened. (**1/4)... Eddie Edwards, Moose, and Tommy Dreamer cut a promo together. Moose claimed to have played 3,000 snaps in the NFL. He played 62 games, starting 20. If we assume 60 snaps per start and, I don't know, ten special teams snaps per non-start, that's 1,620 So they probably doubled reality... Eddie Edwards & Moose & Tommy Dreamer vs. OVE & Sami Callihan. This was all set up by Sami legit smashing Eddie in the face with a legit baseball bat. Yes. They had clips of Eddie vs. Sami from WrestleCon. Match was six dudes all dressed in black brawling everywhere. Crowd was brought back to life chanting for Eddie. Moose tried a flip dive and ended up basically sitting down on a ladder that was leaning against the apron. Um, OW. Babyfaces ran wild until Sami hit everyone with a stick and the heels took over. They isolated Eddie, who briefly fought back before being overwhelmed. They did, like, a double doomsday device that turned into a cutter from about 10 feet up. OK, that was really awesome. Moose broke it up and ran wild as Callis called him a former All-Star. At this point Moose will be an NFL Hall of Famer by the end of the match. Regardless, his comeback looked great. Thumbtacks got poured out in the corner of the ring. Like right in the corner, and the Crist tried to sweep them into the ring. He ended up going into the tacks himself. I need stats on how often a wrestler pours out tacks and then goes into them himself. It's got to be in the 90 percent range. Wacky spot where Moose did a splash through a table and a Crist hit him with a cutter in midair. So all three of them went through a table. Not sure how that helped his team. So Sami and Eddie were left alone in the ring. Sami hit his finish, which is called -- seriously -- "get out of here," but Eddie kicked out. Sami grabbed a bat, but Tommy appeared with a barbed wire bat to cut him off. And then Sami low-blowed him and pinned him. Eddie immediately went after Sami afterwards, taking the barbed wire bat to Sami's face. Sami came up bleeding everywhere. Eddie taped Sami's arms to the top rope and started caning him in the legs and head. The ref tried to stop him so Eddie took him out too. Dreamer tried to calm him down. He failed. The Crists attacked and Eddie broke the stick over them. Eddie's wife ran down to plead with him, grabbing his arm from behind, and he swung blindly and took her out. He was despondent. Crowd chanted "WIFEBEATER" at him. That's nice. Doctors, in scrubs, ran out to check on her. Sami, meanwhile, was drooling blood and nobody seemed to care. This went on for a while. They did NOT go to the back. Match was the best thing on the show. (***1/2)... Fenix did a promo Earlier Today, in Spanglish. He said Pentagon was his brother, but that was going out the window, and tonight he would be the world champion. This was really good, actually... Austin Aries did a promo about how he had wrestled Pentagon and Fenix in New Orleans, and they were world-class, but he could take them one-on-one. In a three-way though, he could lose his title without being pinned or submitting, especially if the brothers decided to lie down for each other. He admitted he was worried, but said being in a corner made him dangerous... Allie vs. Su Yung. Apparently this Braxton Sutter person in Su Yung's corner is Allie's ex-boyfriend. So Allie came out to fight an undead zombie and her ex-boyfriend who had humiliated her before the world, but she still came out bouncing and smiling on the stage, and stopped during her offense to high-five fans, who were wearing bunny ears. "What a bunch of idiots," Callis observed. Su Yung put on a bloody rubber glove. Callis noted it was missing two fingers. They tried spots where they ran corner-to-corner repeatedly, which is a bad idea when you're bad at running. Sutter jumped on the apron and Allie slapped him but then turned around into an airplane spin, but then Allie turned that into a sunset flip for the win. She left and Su Yung was about to freak out. Sutter cut a promo saying Su was mad, but he could fix it. He got down on one knee as she spasmed and twitched. He asked her to marry him and she spat red mist in his face, then put him out with a mandible claw. Crowd reacted in silence. This was not very good and I don't understand what the point of any of it was. (1/2*)... Slammiversary promo. Whatever nightclub they were in looked waymore fun than Impact. Oh, they're doing the show there. Well I am intrigued... They showed Austin Aries and Alberto El Patron having a confrontation 16 days ago. And then Alberto walked out of the building, and out of the company. Skip ahead to Aries-Pentagon-Fenix in New Orleans, where Pentagon pinned Fenix to win. If that happens tonight we'll have a new champion. So Austin cut a promo on Alberto for being unprofessional, and challenging the two luchadors for tonight... Austin Aries vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Fenix. Austin came out with all his belts, with the Defy Wrestling belt front and center. There was a definite gravity to the early portions of the match that was lacking from anything else in the show, but it quickly became just another choreographed lucha fest. Cool spot where Aries got thrown outside and turned it into a rana in midair, but then Fenix tried another springboard in that one corner and fell, jumped, fell, and finally hit a dive anyway. This ring needs to be burned to the ground. Josh called Fenix "silky smooth" but he may as well have been talking about the ropes. Pentagon went to break Aries' arm, but Fenix broke it up. Aries ran through his comeback on Fenix, but Pentagon broke up the 450. Pentagon hit a backcracker, but Fenix kicked out. Fenix hit a wacky spinning muscle buster, but Pentagon kicked out. They did some stuff and Pentagon hit his pumphandle driver, but then Aries punted him in the head. They brawled on the floor, and then into the crowd. Aries hit a 450 onto both dudes, driving his knees into Pentagon, but somehow they both kicked out. Aries continued to run wild, but Pentagon hooked Fenix in a gory special, and with him in that hold, hit Aries with a package piledriver. Well that was scary. Pentagon then broke Aries' arm and followed with the pumphandle piledriver to win the match and the title. So is Aries going to sell the broken arm by forfeiting his other five titles? That would be a pretty sweet deal -- you just travel the globe winning belts, and then you conveniently get injured so you never have to lose them. Fenix confronted his brother afterwards, but finally hugged him. If this was Lucha Underground Pentagon would turn on him and break his arm. And people would cheer. Anyway, this was a fine little PPV main event, but not the best thing on the show and nothing you need to go out of your way to see. (***1/4).

Bryan's TV Reviews

by Bryan Alvarez (@BryanAlvarez)

RAW

Kurt Angle opens up the show. Says the Superstar Shakeup begins tonight and runs through Smackdown tomorrow. Fans chant RUSEV DAY! Out comes Jinder instead. He's the first pick in the Shakeup. Cuts a promo saying Kurt should be thankful to have him and complaining that he didn't get limo service. Jinder says you brought me here fully knowing my expectations. Says he was better than everyone on Smackdown and he's already better than any of the superstars on Raw. He wants the same perks that Kurt has given Brock Lesnar. Kurt asks them to email him his demands. Kurt tells him no frikken way, then demands Jinder defend his title right now. Jeff Hardy accepts the challenge... Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal. This was an incredible match. A guy who totally turned his physique around and got rewarded with the WWE Title as a result lost the US Title here to a guy who just got busted for a DWI. Jeff made a comeback and hit the whisper in the wind. Crowd was super hot. Sunil tried to interfere but got bumped off the apron. They traded nearfalls. Tons of "HARDY!" chants. Jinder tried to kill him with a boot to the face. Jeff finally hit the twist of fate and went up top for the senton and the title. Jeff Hardy is still a hell of a worker because he got a really fun TV match out of Jinder Mahal... Jinder rants and raves backstage. Says he wasn't ready to compete tonight and wasn't even warmed up. Keep in mind he came out in his gear. Vowed to win the title back in two weeks at the Greatest Royal Rumble. He's busy ranting when he's interrupted by No Way Jose's music and his Rosebuds. No Way tells him to wipe that smile off his face. Tells him when life tries to get him down he says NO WAY! Dances off with Rene... Bayley vs. Sasha. So for those keeping track, they had issues, then they had a wild locker room brawl, then the next week Bayley was out to watch Sasha's back, and now they're having a match. They claimed last week Bayley came out to steal Bayley's spotlight, which was not, in fact, what I saw watching it. Bayley literally can't catch a break, first thing that happened in the match is she botched a springboard and fell down. So after all this time and build, the match really wasn't very good. Was just sort of a match. Fans weren't much into it until they got into a hockey fight after Sasha started screaming at and slapping her. Sasha finally got her in the Banks statement and was about to get the pin when the Riott Squad hit the ring and beat up both girls. For some reason they've given Liv Morgan George the Animal Steele's green tongue gimmick which is about the most preposterous thing I've ever seen... AOP vs. Slater & Rhyno. They have, in fact, dumped Paul Ellering. I wouldn't say they had a competitive match but it wasn't a total squash as Rhyno did get a short comeback. But they killed both guys, including throwing Slater over the top and splatting him on the floor, then they hit their finish on Rhino for the pin. A fine showcase match... Miz out for MizTV. His guests -- KEVIN OWENS AND SAMI ZAYN. Cole notes they are unemployed so how can they be drafted in the shakeup? Both Byron and Corey note they're free agents so they can be signed. Miz says the five of them are like the new NWO, WWE's version of the Avengers. Kurt comes out. Says Miz doesn't have any control around here but he does. Says Kevin and Sami had their opportunity last week but they both lost. Kevin says yah, that happened, but an email was sent moments ago and let's just say, PLANS CHANGED. So Sami reads the email. It says Kurt has been overruled, that it would be foolish to let them go after their performance last week. It's signed by Stephanie McMahon. You know, the daughter of the guy that Kevin Owens tried to kill on Smackdown last year? So Kurt says cool, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are on Raw. Congratulations. But say goodbye to Miz. Says Daniel Bryan was adamant about getting Miz on Smackdown and he still wields some pull over there. Miz cuts this promo about how they're going to go to Smackdown and make it the most must-watch show in all of WWE. But Kurt says no, they're not going, you're going and they're staying here. But hey, we're gonna have a ten-man tag tonight that will also include a superstar who will be making this Raw debut tonight. Miz is sad... Bray & Matt Hardy vs. Revival with Sheamus and Cesaro doing commentary. Bray as a babyface is an improvement over heel Bray. Heat on Matt for awhile, then Bray got the hot tag and they got the pin using a combo twist of fate. "What was that?" asked Sheamus and Cesaro. Cole spent the entire match burying the Woken storyline, which makes no sense because Bray and Matt are more over right now than either of them have been in forever, all because Bray got thrown in a lake... Sheamus and Cesaro are backstage when Fashion Police show up. They threaten to lock them up for, among things, wearing dresses. But they issue citations instead. Cesaro and Sheamus are irrationally angry about this... They announce various new Raw arrivals... Kurt meets with Ronda backstage. He introduces her to Nattie. Ronda is so happy to see her. Ronda says they train together. Looks like she's a babyface now. Says she wants to prove she's the best there is, best there was an best there ever will be. But then stops and says, well, maybe second best... Ember Moon vs. Mickie James with Nia and Alexa on commentary. Well, Alexa is supposed to be there but she's not. She appears on the screen and says nobody told her Nia would be there. She's not sitting out there with that bully. Nia knows how much it hurt her losing the title and like all bullies she'll just rub it in her face. She refuses to give that bully the satisfaction. Mickie worked her over for a long time. Lots of chinlock and not a lot of heat. Ember then makes her comeback and hits the eclipse and Mickie James seriously took the best bump for the eclipse ever. Was just an awesome flip bump off it... Kevin and Sami arguing backstage about being put in this ten-man. Miz shows up, wants to know what Miz is like these days. "THE WORST!" Sami says. Miz says I know how he treated you, but how is he gonna treat me? Sami tells him to focus on their ten man tonight. Or focus on the Miztourage. Miz tells them to MOURN TOMORROW AND FOCUS TODAY. Miz says let's remember what's important. This is MY Raw finale and we need to make it MUST SEE! They all think he's an idiot... Dolph debuts. Says he's back on RAW. He steals the show everywhere he goes and he's still the best superstar to ever walk that aisle. Interrupted by Titus Worldwide. They try to recruit him. He reveals that the one thing that has changed is he did not come back alone. Drew McIntyre hits the ring and the two of them destroy Titus Worldwide. Crowd totally went nuts for McIntyre. Their finish is a combo zigzag/Claymore kick, which is actually awesome. They leave together. Well, at least they figured out something to give Ziggler life, hope it doesn't end up dragging down Drew... Roman out to thunderous boos. He's in a tank top this week, no flak jacket. Says once again he's here and Brock isn't. Says he's going to face him again, and it won't go down like WrestleMania because this time they're going to be in a cage. What does a cage have to do with anything, Brock beat him clean with zero outside interference. Says he's going to go to Saudi Arabia and come back as your full-time WWE Champion. Out comes Joe. Cuts another promo noting that Brock has beaten Roman not once, not twice, but every time he's gotten into the ring with him. Says he should feel sorry for Roman for losing over and over and over again and never learning anything. Says when Brock is done massacring him he'll be waiting at Backlash to put the big dog to sleep once and for all. He's got footage of Brock practically killing him the last few times they've faced. Roman says yeah, that's what Brock has done, but why don't you come down here and we'll see what your lazy fat ass can do. Joe starts heading down but then changes his mind and leaves... Mandy Rose vs. Natalya. So she is a babyface. She won quickly with the sharpshooter. Wasn't bad but had no time to become really anything. Sonya hit the ring afterwards and they double-teamed Nattie until Ronda marched to the ring to make the save. The heels fled but then Mandy send Sonya into the ring. Ronda kicked her ass and left her for dead. Wasn't the smoothest but Sonya isn't exactly the ideal opponent for Ronda... Baron Corbin is coming to Raw... Fashion Police vs. Sheamus & Cesaro. Cesaro killed Tyler with a popup uppercut for the heat. Cesaro goes to make a tag but Fandango yanks Sheamus off the apron and Tyler rolls up Cesaro for the pin. Hey, they won in their debut. A win... Elias promo with Renee. He says he doesn't play in low-rent venues anymore. Says if Bobby Lashley ever tries to interfere with one of his performances again, he'll find out why WWE stands for WALK WITH ELIAS. Says he's not going to play for the people but he'll play for Renee. Tells her to silence her cellphone and -- -- and she cuts him off and says we have no time for this right now. He starts playing anyway but she sends it back to the announcers and THE CROWD BOOS RENEE... Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn & Miztourage vs. Braun & Seth & Lashley & Finn & the debuting Bobby Roode. Match was good but it was a mistake to put Strowman in there because he was the only one fans wanted in the ring and so it hurt the reaction of all the other babyfaces when they got tags. Heat on Finn for awhile. He finally avoids a charge and tags in Lashley. Gets hardly any reaction because the fans only want to see Strowman in there. He runs wild on everyone, including hitting his delayed suplex on Sami and a press slam on Miz over the top. He couldn't get Miz all the way up. After commercial, Owens is working over Seth. Fans want Strowman but he tags in Roode. Crowd didn't care about him either. Strowman finally got the hot tag and went after Miz. Was just running people over left and right. Seth did a dive and everyone hit a big move on everyone else. Finally came down to Miz and Strowman. Miz hit his dropkicks in the corner but then Braun dropkicked him. Miz went to tag the Miztourage but they both dropped off the apron. They walked out on him and then Braun grabbed Miz and powerslammed him for the pin.