Normally this would be tough to pick and even though I could be positive and focus on Kofi finally officially being declared the #1 contender against Daniel Bryan. We shift focus to Charlotte & Asuka's match from this week's episode of Smackdown as it was a title match. Even though I can understand the logic of not wanting to spend more time to build another title match with such a short time between now and the big event. However, I do think there was a better way to go about it then having Charlotte get the title back especially considering the fact that she will be in the main event for the Raw Women's title.
In my opinion, if they didn't want to have to build a match for Asuka then they could've easily kept the title on her and had her compete in the Women's battle royal. The best part of her being in the battle royal would be that it could be used to create her first post Wrestlemania feud with someone eliminating her from the match. This does however prove that not only is the company struggling booking certain talents, but also the fact that it seems like they didn't have a long term plan going into this years event.
Though at this point it seems like the company will have a plan set in place for next years Mania following this years event which is something that should happen every year. Fact is long term booking does work and it helps make certain feud seem more organic or like they are meant to be happening and not forced. Looking at this years card it is clear that some of these matches seem like they are to thrown together which prevents fans in my opinion from getting excited about every match on the show. This doesn't always happen at Wrestlemania which is an issue, because most of the card is suppose to be worth watching and not something you feel like you can see on any of the normal programming. Either way though we are almost there and let's see what happens in the next couple of weeks.
Recently the booking of the Intercontinental title has done a lot better, but they have been struggling the last few months keeping things interesting and different. It seems like the company can't make up there minds with who should be champion similar to how they booked the United States title last year at this time. It is puzzling to me why they aren't allowing for a longer title reign then the continuous hot shotting of the title they have done.
It leads to start and stop pushes much like we have seen in the tag team division, but with extremely talented singles competitors. Finn, Lashley, and Lio Rush are extremely underrated members of the roster & deserve a bit more consistency in their booking. Lashley has not had any consistency since his return to the company even though his heel turn was a needed change other than bringing Lio Rush to Raw it hasn't done anything positive. Balor's booking is just as frustrating and even though it is seemingly likely that he could walk away with the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania that doesn't change the fact that this could've been better planned out then it has been. It is clear that the company has had issues with booking certain talent, but need to get a clearer picture due to the sudden formation of All Elite Wrestling. Though Balor likely wont leave anytime soon it would be very nice to see both Finn & Lashley receive a strong push following Wrestlemania.
Though this might surprise some fans because of how low he is on the list, but at number six I think it's a fair place for the "Phenomenal One." It is hard to believe that at this point AJ Styles has been a member of WWE for the last three years and nobody could've expected him to have the career he has had. At this point Styles is a two time WWE Champion and two time United States Champion; also Styles is one of only a handful of talent that has held the WWE, IWGP, TNA and NWA World Championships.
Since his arrival Styles has torn down the house with Chris Jericho, John Cena, Samoa Joe, Brock Lesnar, and various others. It is amazing to me that AJ as he has gotten older he hasn't lost a step and really in my opinion has only gotten better with age. For the last few months all we really have heard about AJ was a question if he will resign with the WWE. Now in most cases people would love to see AJ walk away from the company and head to All Elite, but clearly I think it is more likely that Styles will stay put and resign with the company.
With the sudden arrival of a heel Daniel Bryan we have seen AJ slide down from the main event and for the first time in a very long time Styles is out of the title picture. It has seemingly been difficult for the company to not book him in the title picture or book him well enough outside the picture. The real test now will come after his Wrestlemania feud with Randy Orton comes to a close where do they go next. In my opinion they need to find a way to keep him out of the WWE title picture for a little longer and maybe a move to Raw wouldn't be a bad idea. Comparing him to some of his co-workers and his former co-workers it isn't that AJ is bad it's just that a lot of other people have gotten better than him.
After another incredible performance by Kofi he got so close, but coming up short in the end. For a puzzling reason they chose to send Daniel Bryan out to fight his possible challenger. I mean I sort of understand giving away the match, because it's almost like Daniel's the if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. It does make sense in that case, but the only question in my opinion now is that considering we are 16 days away from Wrestlemania and Kofi isn't fighting Daniel then who is fighting him.
This is one of my problems with Wrestlemania this year as it feels like there is no sense of urgency to build the card. Now I know it's possible Kofi does fight Daniel, but I feel like at this point they would've been better off just booking the match at this point, because Kofi has the emotional support already and they could just strike while the iron is still hot.
The main problem I feel like is that the way the company booking the build up for the match is they might be painting themselves into a corner. I feel like if they let Kofi get the solid win and then ended this week's Smackdown with a face-off between Daniel, Kofi and Vince instead of the way they did then I think it would avoid the backlash of why book Kofi this way if he doesn't win. The one issue with the organic explosion of popularity for Kofi is that they have no time to really stretch out the build for the match. Let's just wait and see where things go from here.
Though there might be a simple replacement in the future but the build up to the announcement was torn down right after the revel. Now I don't have a lot of issues with Baron Corbin based on how incredibly hated he is at the moment, but I still don't understand the choice. If Angle and Corbin had been feuding heading into the event it would've made more sense, because it would have been looked at as the blow-off of their feud but to my knowledge Angle had been feuding with Drew McIntyre prior to Roman's return. This brings up the question as to why the company chose to make the announcement now with such little time to build a proper match or interest for the match at the event it is quite puzzling.
If it was me and I knew in advance that Angle was going to be ending his career at the "Showcase of Immortals" I would have had him make the announcement the night after Royal Rumble and then make the announcement for the match at either Elimination Chamber or Fast Lane instead of the way they did it. In my opinion the build for the match seems either like a last minute decision or just like something they weren't sure about, but then decided to pull the trigger.
I know that someone out there probably thinking that the only likely explanation is that they will replace Corbin with someone else this way they won't have to build up the match and that is possible. My only issue that is why bother doing that and not go the route of just letting the announcement pop the ratings and get fans excited for the one last meet up between two legends. I of course am talking about the John Cena choice for him to face Angle at the big event on April 7 as that is one of the few names I think would be a good choice as you would have no need to build the match as it would hype itself.
Overall I think this is one of the issues with this years Wrestlemania as the company is relying on a lot of unproven commodities to try and sell the show and not spending enough time building. I do believe that things will change following the show when those who have joined the creative team recently get the chance to build a new arch, but this was bad time for that to happen. In simple terms I am saying that my interest in the big event is at a low not because of the length, but due to the fact that it just doesn't seem the like company is giving the effort they normally do at this time to keep your interest.
This week's episode of Raw was a solid show I will admit and there were a few highlights or points that we can discuss. However, there is one moment from the show that absolutely fits this article series perfectly. Even though early on I thought that Ronda's promo was what I would be writing about due to my issues with her character change and constant acknowledgment of the entertainment aspects of wrestling. Either way though there is no doubt that Kurt Angle was and will always be the measuring stick for amateur wrestlers making the transition to wrestling.
As Angle mentioned during the promo it was 23 years ago that he won a gold medal with a broken freakin neck. Following his Olympic win in 1996 he would soon make the move to pro-wrestling signing with the WWE and the rest is history. Angle spent time in both the old Trax warehouse where the company use to train talent, time in Memphis and was actually trained by Dory Funk Jr. Angle is the only pro-wrestler ever to hold the WWE Championship, WWE's World Heavyweight Championship, TNA World Heavyweight Championship, WCW World Heavyweight Championship, and IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. During his career the Hall of Famer has won the King of the Ring and King of the Mountain as well as earning the Triple Crown in both WWE and TNA.
Overall there is no doubt that Kurt Angle has had an incredible career within the 24 x 24 squared circle and deserves to go out the biggest stage the company has to offer. The only question there is now is who will be the final man to meet the "Olympic Gold Meadlist" in a WWE ring. Well we will find that out soon enough either way though thank you for everything Kurt, you deserve this one last ride.
WWE Fast Lane:
New Day vs Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura
Andrade vs Rey Mysterio
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship:
(c) Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax & Tamina
This in my opinion is the first test for the Women's tag titles and even though I think that this could've been a Wrestlemania match it would make sense for a Raw & Smackdown team to go for the titles on the big stage. Either way though I would be surprise to see Bayley & Sasha lose the gold tonight after such an emotional win at Elimination Chamber. This will be a solid match, but it will also be a successful tile defense for the current champions.
The Shield vs Drew McIntyre, Lashley, and Baron Corbin
Honestly, I would've liked to have seen either an eight man tag including Finn Balor and Elias or just swapping out Lashley for Elias to include someone new in the match. Next to Braun Strowman's never ending feud with Baron Corbin the association with these three is just something I don't think works and needs to be moved on from because it doesn't help any of them. It feels more like that they are just together to lose to The Shield and I feel like all three of these guys could be doing more. Either way there is little doubt that The Shield will get the win tonight.
Smackdown Live Women's Championship Match:
(c) Asuka vs Mandy Rose
Even though Asuka got a massive win at the Royal Rumble over Becky Lynch she still hasn't been doing much of anything since the Royal Rumble. Based on how things have gone since the Rumble it does make sense why Asuka retained the title, but she should've been able to maintain her momentum rather being kept off television. The main question now what is her plan for Wrestlemania and considering the fact that I am totally unsure about that it is possible they do something random here. Yes that means I think Mandy Rose will get the win to become Smackdown Live Women's Champion.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match:
(c) The Revival vs Aleister Black & Ricochet vs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable
In my opinion this match could steal the show tonight if they given the proper amount of time to show what they are capable of in the ring. There is little doubt that the booking of The Revival has been incredibly questionable since there title victory as they haven't been looking very strong. So even though I expect a good performance from the other two teams I would be very disappointed to see The Revival lose tonight. With that being said The Revival retain tonight.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship:
(c) The Uso's vs Shane McMahon & The Miz
Part of me thinks that we could see a heel turn tonight, but another part of me thinks that Jimmy & Jey might drop the titles back to Miz & Shane. I'm very confused with the booking of this division and can't really pin down expectations especially for Wrestlemania. The one thing that I will go with is that I think this experiment is coming an end with Miz & Shane and they will come up short again tonight. The Uso's will retain the titles tonight.
If Becky wins Wrestlemania becomes a Triple Threat, A loss it's one on one:
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair
It is incredible how well the company has booked out this feud as it's really been building in some form or fashion since November of last year. This type of booking is very uncharacteristic of the main roster as they typically over book & things run their course fairly quickly, instead of letting things simmer and come together over time. Becky has been one of the biggest success stories for the company in years and hopefully they can keep the momentum going for the next month or so as we move into Mania. Even after Monday's attack from Ronda, it will be Becky getting the win tonight.
WWE Championship Match:
(c) Daniel Bryan vs Kevin Owens
At first this was going to be an interesting match against the hottest singles baby face on Smackdown Live. For years Kofi has had the talent to be a top star in the company and finally seems to be getting a massive push by the company. I had a feeling though that once they swap out Kofi it had to do with the reaction he got at the Elimination Chamber and a desire to save the singles match. Either way though this is still somewhat of a dream match, because it is still amazing not only seeing Daniel as WWE champion but as a heel. Kevin is still getting his feet back under him after being on the shelf for a few months and Daniel is a top heel and not ready to drop the title. Unfortunately only one title will switch tonight and it will not be the WWE Title as Daniel Bryan will retain.
Within the span of 48 hours we crowned two new United States Champions with Shinsuke Nakamura winning the title from Rusev and then losing the title to R-Truth on the following edition of Smackdown Live. It was shocking in of itself that R-Truth won the United States title for the second time mostly as a thank you to Truth for his service to the company. In my opinion Truth was a solid champion and really gave a foundation to a poorly booked championship. Right now after this edition of the blue brand though it is hopefully a sign of things to come for the formerly respected championship.
On this edition of Smackdown Live we saw another United States title match and a major victory for a very well deserved champion. Since his arrival of on the main roster it isn't matter of if but when Samoa Joe would become a champion in the WWE and this could be his ceiling for one reason or another but it also might not be. It is clear that Joe has been somewhat injury prone since his arrival on the main roster which has slowed down his progression up the card and in many ways he was replaced by Daniel Bryan. I do hope though that Samoa Joe will have a more than solid reign as the champion, because it would be not only deserved but also earned for a long time veteran in the world of wrestling.
Now heading into Wrestlemania and the question being centered around the match in the cards for John Cena and it seems possible that his opponent will be the new United States champion. Again from the start of his run on the main roster there has been lots of rumors around when or if Samoa Joe & John Cena will be able to have full feud with on another. For those who may not be aware Samoa Joe & John Cena were trained together at Ultimate Pro-Wrestling in California. Overall this would be a perfect start for Samoa Joe in the main event with the booking of Joe being even better to help him seem like a credible threat to John Cena. Even though some fans would question if Samoa Joe would find easy victory against Cena due to John's lacking schedule with the company. This match will be determined by the type of schedule we can expect to see from John Cena in 2019.
This was a tough choice this week due to the company having another segment worth noting between Charlotte, Becky and Ronda. Finally we saw the much desired heel turn for the current Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey. After the golden segment from last week to end the episode of Raw it was hard not to go back to to continuation of the only nostalgia act set for Wrestlemania. Though this feud has happened before not many of Triple H's big matches nowadays have some sort of added stipulation to protect the age veteran and I'm sure this won't be any different.
On this episode of Raw we saw serious Triple H which is the one that brings that extra bit of emotion and tension into his feud. Even though I remember a promo or two like this from him during his feud with Undertaker last fall but the interest level in the feud wasn't as high as this one currently still is. The end of last week's episode was by far the most unexpected ending of Raw in the last few years and I don't even think most fans even thought that Batista would return when he did or certainly in the manner he did.
Though I don't like it when they use certain verbiage in promos as I don't feel like they need to use certain words and poke the beast as far as letting the fans who still want to suspend disbelief. Some people just watch for the entertainment and ignore treating the profession as something more then just a side show act. In my opinion this is right up there with the women's feud as probably the hottest feuds in the company right now and this helps considering it allows more space for the match build.
The second show under the new regime and they really did keep the Smackdown momentum rolling as it was another solid edition of the blue brands show. Shockingly I feel things are also further along on the blue brand for Fast Lane then they are on the red brand which shows how messed up things are on Raw right now. Either way though much like with Raw we had things we could focus on like Charlotte's great heel promo which did a beautiful job of pushing that feud, or the questionable booking of the recent NXT call ups. That's right nothing everything is a positive when it comes to this series.
For the last month or so we have seen the sudden rise of Kofi Kingston who after an amazing performance in the gauntlet match a few weeks ago is finally getting the main event push he rightfully deserves. Even though part of me wants to question if Kofi is in this position just due Ali getting injured I won't be that guy and instead I'll be happy that Kofi is getting a very well deserved opportunity. Well he was until Kevin Owens made his return and took that spot over slotting into face Daniel Bryan at Fast Lane. I for one would love to see Kofi and Bryan tussle one on one especially after how much chemistry they showed during the gauntlet match it will be very interesting to see Daniel in the ring with Kevin Owens. One door is still open though is that they could be saving a Kofi title match for the big stage because they saw the reaction it was getting at Elimination Chamber... Imagine that!!!
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present