Who will win the Tag Titles tonight?

Catch up on the week of wrestling with our Raw & AEW recaps.

In a time where entertainment news is space or revolving around the ongoing pandemic; where sports events and tv shows have been postponed, there has been one constant. Wrestling.

With wrestling being consistently released every week, despite ongoing circumstances, now seems like a perfect time to go over each match in a short detail and give them a grade. We aren’t the first site to do this, but this will be based entirely on the writer’s opinion.

The show opens in remembrance of the late Howard Finkel, who died this week at the age of 69. The legendary announcer was the voice of many people’s childhoods and will be missed:

A Moment of Bliss…

Matches are immediately announced for tonight’s show, with Daniel Bryan taking on Cesaro and Dana Brooke taking on Naomi, both for spots in their respective Money In The Bank matches.

Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross make their way to the ring to start the show. They bring up the fact that they are now two-time Tag Champions and announce that Braun Strowman is their guest tonight. Strowman comes out and a match is immediately announced on commentary for the Universal Championship, Brau Strowman will defend against Bray Wyatt at MITB.

The three talk about Wyatt, with Alexa calling him, “cunning, he’s brutal, he’s psychotic.” Strowman brings up his past in the Wyatt Family but states that Wyatt didn’t make him and that he does not owe him an apology. He states to Wyatt that, “if you come for me and not the title, the only thing you’re gonna get are these hands.”

Braun spots a gift in the corner, mistaking it as a gift from Alexa. He opens it up but finds his old black sheep mask from his Wyatt Family days. Wyatt’s laugh comes on in the background, while images of Wyatt in the mask appear onscreen before the show goes to a break.

Grade: C+

A decent opening to the show, expanding on the feud between the ex-family members. Next up, Sasha and Bayley make their way to the ring for Banks vs Tamina.

I Wear An Extra Large

Bayley is on commentary for this match, which kicks off with Sasha Banks giving Tamina a Banks shirt as a sign of peace. Tamina complains that the shirt is, “a small, I wear an extra-large,” before attacking Banks and launching the shirt at Bayley.

Tamina is very dominant throughout the match, but the focus here is on Bayley’s commentary, where she attacks fans for losing faith in Sasha Banks, calling them stupid. After a short break, Banks has a small comeback, where she hits a cover, only getting a one-count.

She retains control of the match, performing a dropkick and multiple kicks to the head. Corey Graves and Michael Cole discuss the potential of Sasha Banks becoming the number one contender for Bayley’s title. They ask Bayley for a comment who replies with, “that would be awesome, right.” The tone of her voice and the expression on her face shows her clear discomfort at the comments, but she goes on to state, ” I would love nothing more than to share the ring with my best friend… like we have in the past, it’s magic every single time.”

Banks’ hole on Tamina is finally broken, planting Banks on the mat. Bayley attempts to distract Tamina, to Banks’ advantage, who throws her into the ring post and steel steps. While Bayley attempts to confront Tamina on the floor, Lacey Evans runs out, jumping off the steps and taking out Bayley. Tamina then hits Banks with two super-kicks for the win.

Tamina defeats Sasha Banks via Pinfall – Grade: B

The match was decent, but nothing special. It was elevated from a B- to a B due to my enjoyment of Bayley’s commentary and the great attack by Lacey Evans on the SmackDown Women’s Champion.

There is a short promo involving Jey Uso before his match in the main event for the Tag-Titles before Lacey Evans is interviewed backstage. Evans brings up her hatred for Banks due to their past feud.

Let’s Keep This Quick…

Sheamus is out next to face Denzel Dejournette in what is a squash match. Denzel gets a surprise roll-up on Sheamus, but the Irishman gets mad and hits multiple elbow strikes and knee strikes to the side of the face. He hits the Brogue Kick for the victory.

Sheamus defeats Denzel Dejournette via Pinfall – Grade: C

Sheamus confronts Michael Cole after the match due to him once again talking about Jeff Hardy, instead of Sheamus, a story-line which began last week. Sheamus states that “I will not be disrespected,” seemingly setting up a potential feud between Hardy and Sheamus.

Chapter 2 of the Jeff Hardy documentary airs next, going over his injuries and abuse of pain medication, which led to his arrest in 2009  and a later arrest in 2011 for drinking. Chapter 3 is set to air next week.

A backstage segment is next, with Camella questioning Dana Brooke’s decision to take a MITB qualifying match ahead of their match for the tag titles.

Climbing The Corporate Ladder?

An announcement is made that this year’s MITB will take place at WWE’s corporate HQ, and will involve the wrestlers making their way from the bottom floor, all the way to the roof to win the briefcase, an exciting and unique twist on the MITB formula which could only be done during times like this.

Naomi and Dana Brooke are out next for their qualifying match. Both exchange pinning attempts before Naomi hits a dropkick. Brooke eventually throws Naomi out of the ring, heeling it up by telling the ref to make the count, pointing to the briefcase and stating, “that’s gonna be mine.” Naomi goes for quick pinfall attempts, delivering multiple kicks to the face and going for another cover for a two-count.

Dana then hits a sit-out powerbomb for a two-count. Naomi misses a Rear View attempt but hits one a few seconds later, though Dana kicks out. Naomi misses the Split-Legged Moonsault before Dana rolls her up for the surprise win.

Dana Brooke defeats Naomi via Pinfall – Grade: C+

Dana shows her excitement at the win by running over to commentary and hugging Cole. A recap of Otis and Mandy’s story is up next, ahead of the confrontation between Sonya and Mandy.

You Have No Talent!

Sonya comes out next, asking Mandy to make her way to the ring so that she can make a public explanation. She begs her to come out, talking about their past, from Tough Enough to now.

Mandy makes her way out but states that she hasn’t got anything to say to her. Sonya tries to make an emotional explanation… but it was all a ruse, she calls Mandy, “The most selfish human being I’ve ever met” She goes on to say that Fire & Desire was never about them, she complains that they always came out to Mandy’s music, that Sonya was sometimes blurred out by Mandy’s entrance. She eventually brings Otis and Dolph into this, stating that her deal with Dolph would have helped Fire & Desire. She blames Mandy for ruining that, stating that she has no talent and that she’s going to use every ounce of her being to ruin her life. Sonya states that: “Everyone’s gonna realise who the real champ of Fire & Desire always was, an actual fighter, not some centrefold bitch.” Mandy replies with, “I’m so glad I slapped you at Wrestlemania,” before Dolph Ziggler’s music hits.

Ziggler pleads with Mandy to calm down, claiming that he made a mistake and that they went about this the wrong way, before asking if she feels anything for him. Mandy is then struck by Sonya, much to Ziggler’s dismay. This prompts Otis to come out, going straight for Ziggler. Sonya and Ziggler attempt to run after their attacks are thwarted, but Ziggler runs back in, failing to hit a Superkick and eating a Caterpillar Elbow Drop from Otis, leaving Otis and Mandy to stand tall.

Grade: C+

Michael Cole and Corey Graves discuss the passing of Howard Finkel, before a tribute video package is played.

The Miz also cuts a prom backstage ahead of tonight’s main event, where he shows his annoyance at having to defend, despite Morrison retaining the titles at Wrestlemania. A video package for the Forgotten Sons is played next, showcasing SmackDown’s newest team.

Keep Your Friends Close…

Cesaro takes on Daniel Bryan next, both accompanied by Nakamura and Gulak respectively. Cesaro is driven over the announce table by Bryan after the latter dives outside the ring. The feed, however, begins to glitch, and the hacker appears on screen. He states, ” We have heard all the lies, but when will we hear the truth?” before showing a bunch of tag teams, including, The Usos, The New Day, Miz & Morrison, Alexa & Nikki and Sasha & Bayley. He hints at a possible betrayal with the line, “some keep their friends close, others keep their enemies closer.” This could potentially hint at a feud between Sasha and Bayley for the title, but it could also be anyone from that list, leaving room for speculation.

The match resumes after the break, with Bryan repeatedly trying to wear down the left arm of Cesaro. The pair go back and forth, with Cesaro hitting a scoop slam for a two-count, and Bryan keeping at that arm. Bryan is caught in mid-air and hit with a Back-Breaker, before being placed in the Sharpshooter. Bryan reaches the ropes to break the submission. Later on, Bryan hits the Yes Kicks on Cesaro, covering him after a kick to the head. Cesaro kicks out, driving Bryan’s neck into the turnbuckle before catching him in the face with a knee. He then attempts the Cross Face after a failed cover, but Bryan reverses into a Yes Lock.

Cesaro hits a clothesline and begins attacking with uppercuts after escaping the Yes Lock. Bryan eventually counters once again while in the middle of the ring, getting Cesaro into another Yes Lock. Nakamura attempts to break it up but is foiled by Gulak before Cesaro taps out.

Daniel Bryan defeats Cesaro via Submission – Grade: B

A decent match elevated even more by an interesting hacker angle. Though its placement in the match was a little strange, considering it had nothing to do with the match itself, it was still intriguing.

Big E cuts a promo backstage ahead of the triple-threat. Meanwhile, Elias is attacked by Baron Corbin. Corbin injures the hand of the drifter, in an attack that continues after the break. Corbin states that “You will bow down to the king,” before hitting Elias with his guitar, just like Elias did to him at Wrestlemania.

Matches are announced for next week, including MITB qualifiers for Drew Gulak vs King Corbin and Sasha Banks vs Lacey Evans. Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss vs Carmella and Dan Brooke for the Women’s Tag Titles is also announced.

…AND NEWWWWW!?

Big E vs Jey Uso vs The Miz is up next, with The Miz looking to retain the titles for his team. Big E takes control early on, tossing Miz into the barrier before heading over to the announce table to clear it out. Big E’s remarks to Cole and Graves are excellent here, stating, “you think ya boy playing today?” and asking Cole, “you need this? Too bad.”

Big E is caught by a Superkick via Jey Uso and a kick from Miz, who then work together to put the New Day member through the table. The match continues after the break, with Jey knocking Miz out of the ring, diving outside onto Big E, then running back in to dive outside onto The Miz. He then performs a Crossbody to The Miz, staying in control.

Big E hits a Uranage in the corner on Jey Uso in the corner before The Miz takes back control. Jey hits both with Superkicks and attempts a cover on Big E for a two-count. Miz attempts to roll-up Jey, eventually going for the figure-four, which ends with him being launched into Big E on the apron and rolled up for another two-count.

Miz then hits the Skull-Crushing Finale on Jey, who kicks out. Miz immediately puts on the Figure-Four. Jey attempts to escape but fails, with Big E running in to pick up The Miz and hit the Big Ending, winning the tag titles for The New Day.

Big E defeats The Miz and Jey Uso to win the SmackDown Tag Titles – Grade: B+

Short and sweet, and now just one reign off matching the Dudley Boyz. The New Day are champs once again. Woods and Kofi are shown celebrating their homes as Big E rolls on the floor with the titles to end the show.

Overall Grade: B-

An average edition of SmackDown, but one with some storyline progression and a title change.

Thank you for joining us this week, we may continue this going forward, or do it more sporadically, but stay tuned for more in the future.

By Jimmy Ioannou

Images provided by WWE

 

 

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