Michael Cole raised a very good point while interviewing the new tag team champs: Do these championships derail Cody Rhodes’ ultimate goal?
Defending these championships rather than chasing another is Cody’s responsibility now. He’s part of a team and what happens when/if he lets that team down in favor of some shiny object? Michael raced the stakes when he pointed out that Cody got his one shot and came up short, just like his dad. But before we got that answer or found out how Cody truly felt, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn hit the ring.
I hoped they got to this obvious moment and I’m glad they did it ASAP.
Sami, while happy for his friends, has mixed emotions about them holding championships that he wants. KO feels no conflicting emotions at all; he hates the fact Cody & Jey Uso are champs and wants his titles back.
Why wait? Rather than giving us that match at Crown Jewel, Adam Pearce set it for Raw.
Rather than creating tension between Cody & Jey, especially since he’s part of the reason Cody came up short at WrestleMania, they focused on the “complications” between the four men. Smart decision because they sowed seeds for this a long time ago. This match needed to either continue their issues or bury them.
And from the start, it looked like they might choose the former. On at least three occasions, this match broke down into huge brawl. Interestingly, when the brawl involved KO & Jey, the two cats who truly dislike each other, Sami played peacemaker. At least he did the first time. He joined in the reindeer games the second time, possibly realizing the championships don’t change hand due to benevolence.
Sami’s attitude shift called back to an earlier segment where Jey reminded his friend that while they’re cool, during the match, it’s all about those championships. We never got any beef between KO & Sami either, which feels like a missed opportunity. We know KO took umbrage with Sami having Jey’s back and trusting him. I wanted a little bit of that here, even if it only amounted to KO questioning how much Sami truly wants these championships if he’s not willing to go at his friend with everything in his arsenal. The match didn’t suffer but just a little detail that I’m surprised they didn’t include.
That said, the brawling, plus the actual wrestling created a highly entertaining and effective match. They told a story of two men, Jey & KO, finally burying the rather large hatchet and making nice. After the tag champs retained thanks to their pretty damn good teamwork, Sami shook their hands. KO shook Cody’s hand but rightly hesitated a bit on Jey’s. But he eventually extended his hand and the two ended the night hand-in-hand.
That clears the deck for Cody & Jey’s first big opponents and puts these four men on the same page. Possibly. But there’s always the chance this is an uneasy alliance given the egos involved and the gold on the line.
Ivar’s agility and athleticism astound me. I know Bronson Reed gets the Bam Bam Bigelow comparisons and it’s obvious why, but this cat? He really reminds me of the Beast from the East. Just need him to do a cartwheel every now and then.
He and Kofi Kingston gave us chaos during the Viking Rules match. The best moment came when Ivar climbed the top rope and Kofi flipped him into a table. Oh, and he did it by grabbing Ivar’s beard. Props to both men for pulling that off and trusting each other enough. I don’t know about you, but I don't like someone pulling the hair on my head even a little bit. I can’t imagine someone grabbing my facial hair and launching me. No thank you.
I do wonder about the endgame here. The Viking Raiders seemingly have the New Day’s number. Does an actual tag match change that? Maybe it changes things if they bar Valhalla from ringside but if the goal is for the Raiders to prove they’re superior to New Day, I think it’s mission accomplished already. But hey, I don’t mind being wrong.
Before the match broke down, I quite enjoyed Nia Jax vs. Raquel Rodriguez. They’re truly making Nia dominant and it helps that she’s more technically sound than the last time we saw her. Raquel got her licks in, definitely, but she spent most her time selling Nia’s offense.
And then it all went awry when Rhea Ripley showed up. Rhea tossed out Raquel, earning Nia a DQ win, and then made a beeline for Ms. Jax. Shayna Baszler showed up, also with vengeance on her mind, which put tension between her and Rhea. All in all? Chaos.
The big issue though is everyone wants a piece of Nia and they have no problem tearing through each other to get it. Fatal 4-Way on the horizon? I hope so. And Nia’s return did nothing for me initially. But I like them putting a target on her back while organically creating multiple matches from it. It’s just wild thinking that Nia Jax is a catalyst in the women’s division right now.
In the meantime, we get Rhea and Shayna next week. Why? Because Mami gets what Mami wants.
Not burying the lede here: Bronson Reed vs. GUNTHER next week. Whew, hold on to your butts. Shoutout to Samuel L. Jackson.
Bronson earned that title shot though a very fun triple threat match with him, Ricochet, and Chad Gable. The match started with an angle: Shinsuke Nakamura brawling with Ricochet. It started in the back and continued during Mr. O’Shea’s entrance. Besides letting me know off top that he wasn’t winning, it helped further establish how much these two despise each other. It also gave Ricochet some added juice as he has a legitimate argument that Shinsuke possibly cost him yet again.
Chad looked great, as always, and did a great job putting Bronson over. Oh, and he suplexed the big man in an amazing show of strength. It wasn’t the smoothest suplex by any means and it almost went tits up (shoutout to Toni Storm), but they got through it.
But my favorite moment came in the ending where Bronson looked incredible stacking move on top of move. Actually, that’s a nice reference to GUNTHER and shows that Bronson might be on the Ring General’s level. Chad hit Ricochet with Chaos Theory. Bronson grabbed Ricochet and slammed him on top of Chad, then hit both men with a Senton, then hit Ricochet with a Tsunami. Really dope sequence but poor Ricochet.
And next week for his troubles? Ricochet gets Shinsuke in a falls count anywhere match. After the war with Seth, Shinsuke might need a hospital bed. Or at least a really big heating pad.
Few things here so follow me for a bit.
Drew McIntyre challenged Seth Rollins to a title match at Crown Jewel. Seth accepted and as Drew exited the ring, Damian Priest showed up. He put the boots to Seth and a cash-in seemed imminent. But in a rather stupid turn of events, Dirty Dom had the briefcase, not Damian. So when Dom walked to the ring with briefcase in hand and referee in tow, Drew stopped it. My issue isn’t with Drew stopping it because he explained that Judgment Day holding the World Heavyweight championship reminds him of the Bloodline holding the other championship. And after three years of that, he has no desire for a rerun on Monday nights. Cool, I got that and I’m with it.
But Drew walking to the ring without the briefcase that he always had by his side? That part strained credulity for me and really felt convoluted.
I digress. Drew getting into Judgment Day business means Judgment Day put a hit on him the way Al Capone put a hit on Elliot Ness. And the man behind the hit? JD McDonagh. Simple instructions: defeat Drew and you’re in the crew.
Yeah, well, he didn’t. That said, I liked them finally referencing JD’s psychotic persona from NXT. The guy obsessed with the human anatomy and passionate about destroying it. He went after Drew’s knee and tried dissecting the big man in a typical JD way. Showing that he’s dangerous even without a chair in hand goes a long way in making this endgame with Judgment Day effective.
But what of Drew? Judgment Day doesn’t just let things go. Rhea told Damian she had a plan and later in the show, she and Drew talked shop in the background of an interview. Let’s hope we find out next week what they said to each other.
Tegan Nox did well for herself this week. Her match with Becky Lynch had a couple hiccups, like Becky kinda missing a top rope dropkick, but it did the job. Tegan showed she can work from behind and that she has enough aggression to lead a match also.
I enjoyed the psychology with Becky’s elbow. It took a minute before Tegan thought about attacking it but once she did, she rarely relented. That played into the finish too because Becky tried hitting the Manhandle Slam at least twice. But Tegan kept slipping out of it thanks to all the punishment she dealt. That meant the only way for Becky to get the W was the Dis Arm Her. She got there but Tegan made it difficult for her. And even before we got there, Tegan smartly slapped her own version of the Dis Arm Her on the champ. But alas, Tegan eventually tapped.
Like I said, a fine match but needed some work around the edges. They told a nice story though and it hopefully puts Tegan on a good path.
Remember DIY’s reunion last week? Well, we got a sit-down interview with one of NXT’s greatest tag teams, officially ushering in their Raw debut. But IMPERIUM broke it up violently. I mean as in Johnny Gargano got kicked out of the camera’s focus and into two weeks from now.
IMPERIUM vs. DIY? Yeah, I like that.
Very dope show that moved along several stories with awesome matches. I mean, what else do you want?
What say you, Cagesiders? You want more?