This week we stay on the road to Payback in the aftermath of WrestleMania season. The roster has been shuffled up a little and some new faces are plodding around Raw, Smackdown and NXT. Let’s see what this past week brought us, shall we?
RAW (18th April 2016)
- Chris Jericho beat Sami Zayn via pinfall
- Enzo & Cass beat The Dudleys to advance to the finals of the Tag Team Tourney
- Baron Corbin crushed Fandango
- The New Day and Cesaro defeated Sheamus, Rusev, Del Rio & The Miz
- Natalya, Becky Lynch, Paige & Sasha Banks beat Charlotte, Summer Rae, Naomi & Tamina
- The Vaudevillains beat The Usos to advance to the finals of the Tag Team Tourney
- Apollo Crews squashed Heath Slater
- Dean Ambrose beat Kevin Owens
This week’s RAW emanated from the United Kingdom. While not on par with last week’s very good show, this week had some good parts, some bad parts and some “meh” parts too. The crowd ate up pretty much all of it and reacted to everyone in some manner. It’s always a hot crowd when WWE hit the UK.
The Ambrose/Owens and Jericho/Zayn matches were both very good and provided some excellent wrestling moments. Both received chants of appreciation from the fans. The tag tournament matches, while not necessarily exciting in the ring, ended with the right teams heading to the finals. The NXT alumni, Enzo & Big Cass and The Vaudevillains will compete in the finals for the tourney at Payback, with the winners going on to a feud with The New Day for the tag titles. It’s nice to see a fire lit under the tag division.
They teased the possibility of AJ Styles being “in cahoots” with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows after the two former New Japan tag champs attacked Roman Reigns. Styles confronted Reigns to tell him he wasn’t involved in the attack. It’s an unusual storyline given Reigns’ negative response from fans, but it is intriguing.
We got two in-ring talk-show segments, with The Ambrose Asylum and Miz TV. Both were okay but nothing special and were merely there to set up matches. They did their job but not exactly in the most exceptional way.
It was announced that Bret Hart would be in Natalya’s corner at WWE Payback for her match against Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Championship. Charlotte, of course, will have her Dad, Ric Flair, with her. This was done successfully in NXT, so let’s hope it results in a fun match on PPV.
The rest of the show was a mixed bag but felt a little “phoned in”.
NXT (20th April 2016)
- American Alpha beat Enzo & Big Cass
- No Way Jose beat Alexander Wolfe
- Nia Jax beat Deonna Purrazzo
- Samoa Joe defeated Apollo Crews
This was a decent episode of NXT with more matched filmed during WrestleMania weekend. The opening tag match involving American Alpha and Enzo & Cass was a lot of fun and the fans cheered for both teams. Jordan and Gable are possibly the best tag team in WWE right now and I am very excited to see where they go in their careers, both as a team and as solo acts.
No Way Jose debuted and beat Alexander Wolfe. Jose’s whole “thing” is that he danced a lot. It’s hard to say whether this gimmick will take off or not. It was a very short match.
The Drifter was put into a match against Nakamura next week. This should give old Drifty-pants his best match of his career.
Nia Jax did her usual squash-match stuff. I find her boring to watch and it’s a shame we have Nia and Eva Marie on NXT when there are some really talented women being used as enhancement or not even on TV at all.
The Joe/Crews match was okay but nothing to write home about. Joe works much better in the heel role for me though and I’m enjoying his run. I am still waiting for Crews to show more than just the “smiley babyface” thing. He’s gonna need to do more now that he’d moved on to the main roster.
With many NXT acts now having moved up to RAW/Smackdown, it’s time for new blood to debut and people to move up the ladder a bit. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Smackdown (22nd April 2016)
- Ryback beat Kalisto in a non-title match
- AJ Styles beat The Miz in a non-title match
- Paige & Natalya defeated Tamina & Naomi
- R Truth beat Fandango
- Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens beat Dean Ambrose & Sami Zayn
Smackdown has been slowly improving in the last few months and has featured some very good matches in that time. This episode featured some more good stuff, and some not-so-good stuff too.
AJ hyped his match with Roman Reigns at Payback. His match with The Miz later in the night was a fun one but not his best on WWE TV. The match ended when Gallows and Anderson stopped The Miz from walking out of the match, causing him to lose. The Miz complained afterwards.
Enzo & Cass cut a promo but are interrupted by The Vaudevillains. The two teams hype their upcoming match at Payback to determine the number one contenders to the tag titles. This was a fun in ring promo spot.
The Ryback/Kalisto match was more of the same between the two. They have little chemistry and the fans don’t really care. Kalisto needs to work with a cruiserweight so he can show off his skills better, and Ryback needs to… well… do something else. He’s stale. Again.
The main event was very enjoyable. The four men in this match have been the best part of RAW and Smackdown since WrestleMania, and it doesn’t change here. They steal the show in their match that ends this week in WWE.
Wrestler of the Week: Four-way tie: Sami Zayn/Owens/Ambrose/Jericho
Match of the Week: Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho (RAW)
Segment of the Week: The AJ/Bullet Club tease segments throughout the week.
Dud of the Week: Ryback
Strangest Booking Decision of the Week: Champions losing all over the damn place.