We are quickly approaching WWE Payback, and this week will be the “final sell” before the PPV. Let’s see what WWE can offer to get us to watch their annual May event.
RAW (25th April 2016)
- AJ Styles pinned Sheamus
- Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows beat The Uso’s in their RAW debut
- Sami Zayn beat Rusev
- Apollo Crews defeated Stardust
- Natalya beat Emma
- Baron Corbin and Damien Sandow went to a no-contest
- Roman Reigns defeated Alberto Del Rio
After some solid shows recently, RAW seems to be in a transitional stage, like something bigger is planned and they are waiting it out. This episode of RAW wasn’t as solid in the ring compared to some recent episodes, and the promos didn’t really make any real explosions to sell Payback, but there is enough going on to make things interesting as we head into the PPV on Sunday.
We get the continuation of the feud between Reigns and Styles, with Reigns believing that AJ is in cahoots with Anderson and Gallows regardless of his refusal. This has made the feud much more interesting that it might have otherwise been and it leaves lots of paths for WWE to go down at Payback in the main event. There are rumours which could really spark off some interesting post-Payback television.
Stephanie McMahon Levesque Helmsley returned to RAW in the opening of the show and had a face-off with her big brother Shane O-Mac. The two of them are entertaining together. It is announced that at Payback Vince McMahon will announce who will be “running” RAW from now on. The story continues.
The New Day cut a promo and we get a face to face between the Tag Team Tournament finalists Enzo & Cass and The Vaudevillains. The two teams will go head(s) to head(s) at Payback to determine the number one contenders to New Day’s Tag Team Titles. The Tag division in WWE is better than it has been in a long while. Huzzah!
Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho kept up their feud as we head to Payback too. They argued before Ambrose ended up in the lion tamer on the announce table at ringside. Let’s just hope Ambrose goes over at the PPV.
It was a decent episode of RAW but it felt like it was lacking the “oomph” that used to exist with the “go-home” shows (shows that lead to a PPV or special event). I’d say it was on-par with last week.
NXT (27th April 2016)
- The Revival beat Jeff Parker & Matt Lee
- Asuka defeated Eva Marie
- The Hype Bros beat Blake & Murphy
- Carmella defeated Aliyah
- Shinsuke Nakamura beat Elias Samson
Another fun episode of NXT from footage filmed during WrestleMania week in Texas. This featured some good stuff but not on par with what NXT was producing a couple of months ago. NXT are at a period where new signings will be making waves soon and taking over from talents who have gone to RAW and Smackdown in recent weeks.
Most of the matches were just there. None really existed to promote any storylines or anything, outside of The Revival cutting a promo and attacking The Hype Bros after their match.
Eva Marie is still awful. It’s a popular stance to take as a WWE fan, sure, but it is hard to look at it any other way. She cannot wrestle. She can’t cut a good promo. She doesn’t have charisma. The heat she gets from the crowd is due to all of this, not because she plays a good “villain”. It’s not good considering the waves women have made in WWE in recent years to change the ways they are seen by fans and the company. With talent like Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Natalya, Emma and Asuka on the roster, and the likes of Carmella, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Liv Morgan and Dana Brooke trying their damndest to improve, it’s sad that WWE insist on pushing Eva Marie and have these other women drag her around the ring. I try not to be too harsh, but she offers nothing to the product and she’s had plenty of time to learn. Ok. Rant over. Her match with Asuka wasn’t good, but at least the right woman won.
Nakamura is just such a fantastic worker. His unique style has always made him stand-out, and the fans have already embraced him. The match with Samson was notable for Nakamuras offence and the reaction from the crowd. He is going to go places so long as WWE don’t alter his style and let him shine.
I’m excited to see what NXT has to offer in the coming months.
Smackdown (29th April 2016)
- Kalisto, Sami Zayn & Cesaro beat Sheamus, Rusev & Del Rio
- Baron Corbin beat Damien Sandow
- Enzo & Cass beat Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
- Apollo Crews beat Stardust
- Roman Reigns beat The Miz
Another solid episode of Smackdown from an in-ring standpoint. The opening six-man tag match was entertaining and featured some good back and forth action. Rusev and Del Rio walked out on Sheamus during the match, perhaps putting an end to “The League of Nations”. (Phew)
Corbin continued his feud with The Dolphbreak Zig. I imagine we will see Dolph sell like a mad-man for Corbin at Payback and put the new kid over. There was a cringeworthy segment with Dean Ambrose interviewing Charlotte and Natalya ahead of their match at Payback. The segment was edited due to a moment where Ric Flair, in one of his not-out-of-character insane-rants, told Nattie to “kill herself”. Oh dear.
The Miz played up his heel-ness well in the main event and had an okay match with Reigns. The show ended with The Usos and Reigns brawling with Styles, Anderson and Gallows.
Wrestler of the Week: Sami Zayn
Match of the Week: Sami Zayn vs. Rusev (RAW)
Dud of the Week: Eva Marie
The “Take This Person Off Television Now” Award: TIE – Eva Marie/Ric Flair