RAW Deal: On the road to WrestleMania 34
DES MOINES, IA, USA—RAW’s road to WrestleMania has to stop by the Elimination Chamber, simply because SmackDown Live’s Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble.
The Chamber’s going to determine the new #1 contender to Brock Lesnar’s WWE Universal Championship (and not an actual title defense, as RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss smartly points out in this week’s episode). We’ve already got Braun Strowman, Elias, John Cena, Roman Reigns, and the Miz. Next week on RAW, Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, and Apollo Crews are going to duke it out for one last chance inside the hellacious structure.
Funny thing—notice that Elias, Apollo Crews, and Matt Hardy are among the names involved in the Elimination Chamber. For the WWE Universal Championship, no less. It seems they’re pretty far apart from where the champ is on top of the totem pole, and if you’re wondering why, remember that the decision was to give part-timing Lesnar the title for Reigns to conquer.
As a result, because Lesnar isn’t always around to be involved on RAW every month, the Miz’s Intercontinental Championship has become the top-tier title on RAW, being contested in main events. Reigns has had to hold the title at the top of RAW’s card, leaving the true midcarders of the brand with no clear prize to compete for and a lack of some solid buildup. The actual midcard, which the Intercontinental Championship is supposed to service, becomes skewed toward the top. It also doesn’t help that Seth Rollins, a former WWE Champion, is also involved in the tag team championship scene.
It actually doesn’t hurt as the involvement of these top guys with these scenes help them out and get them to be more prestigious. It just doesn’t really help the lowercard guys who don’t have much, those who need to fend for themselves with meandering angles (if they’ve got anything to do at all).
I personally can’t wait to get the whole Reigns/Lesnar chase over with and have Reigns win already so that RAW can go back to being somewhat on par with SmackDown.
Too many opportunities on SmackDown
Although Shinsuke Nakamura is, as mentioned above, the current Royal Rumble winner going after whoever’s holding the WWE Championship, the Blue Brand finds ways to give opportunities to a bunch of people.
Right now Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are still in the hunt due to things both going and not going their way, and that’s normal. Due to things that have happened on this week’s episode, WWE Champion AJ Styles is defending the title against Zayn and Owens in a triple threat match at Fastlane, the next SmackDown-brand PPV. That’s cool. All three men have proven to be really entertaining in all their matches, so no problem there.
However, as of Wednesday this week, SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon has added a fourth participant: Dolph Ziggler takes on Baron Corbin for a spot in that title match, and it’s all coming from out of nowhere.
It’s apparently the next development in Ziggler’s bizarre storyline, which saw him abdicate the WWE United States Championship after winning it at Clash of Champions, mysteriously returning at #30 in the Royal Rumble match (even though he gets thrown out right away), and not appearing on TV afterward. According to his Twitter, the championship spot is part of a “new contract” that Shane McMahon agreed to. Don’t quite know what’s happening here, even if the promise of this storyline is intriguing, but they better make sure they’re not spending any goodwill just to make it happen.
The (almost) brand-new 205 Live
Two weeks ago, SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan brought out a new leader for the cruiserweight show: Drake Maverick, formerly known as Impact Wrestling’s Rockstar Spud. Because the title was vacated by Enzo Amore’s firing (following a sexual assault allegation), they all decided that the best thing to address it was to hold a tournament for the Cruiserweight Championship, to culminate at WrestleMania.
And honestly, I say “best thing to address it” because there really is no better way to address this. Ever since the tournament was announced, and we got some new faces in 205 Live to help beef it up, everyone’s been wrestling really inspired, something that I haven’t quite seen over the past few months of programming.
That’s because Triple H has reportedly been given the reins of the show in order to help make it better, and as a result it now feels like NXT, but on the main roster. Of course, part of that is because he’s been bringing up NXT and United Kingdom division guys such as former UK Champion Tyler Bate, Roderick Strong, and Mark Andrews next week. It’s about to get really hot again, so if you’re looking for some more quality wrestling under the WWE banner, you could do much worse than to check out the show again. – Rappler.com
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! On this week’s episode, Stan sits down with PWR’s All Out War champion Vlad Sinnsyk for his very first interview on the podcast! Listen to it here! (http://thesgppodcast.buzzsprout.com/25341/635420-ep-202-the-return-of-the-champ)