We are officially done with one of the busiest wrestling weekends of the year (dubbed the Wrestling Weekend in a great show of creativity) and a lot went down. This weekend felt like it was Wrestlemania in the summer and that is not a bad thing. As tends to be the case in a weekend like this, I have either overlooked something or not gotten to talk about it enough.
That’s what we’re doing this week, as I am going to look at some of the bigger, or in some cases more interesting, stories from the weekend. In this case that will include Rampage, Summerslam, Takeover 36 and Monday Night Raw, as you have to cut it off somewhere and there is a completely ridiculous amount of wrestling going on at the moment. Some of these stories will be bigger than others, but I limited myself to ten choices for the sake of cutting myself off somewhere. Let’s get to it.
These are in no particular order. Some are positive and some are negative.
Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte Is Coming
We’ll start with a harsh one, as the Raw women’s division rears its horrible head again. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find the Raw women’s division to be possibly the worst thing going in wrestling at the moment and that has not changed coming out of the weekend. At Summerslam, Alexa Bliss defeated Eva Marie in a horrible match, mainly centered around Lillie the doll. Then you had Charlotte win the Raw Women’s Title (I’m out of jokes/rage at this point), leading to Monday Night Raw.
Following Charlotte’s big HAHA I WIN AGAIN celebration on Monday Night Raw, Bliss came out with Lillie, albeit just to say hi. That’s your next title program people. You have Bliss and her doll vs. the eternal champion in Charlotte while Rhea Ripley (who STILL hasn’t pinned Charlotte) is off in a tag team with Nikki Ash (and pinning Shayna Baszler because NIA JAX CAN NEVER GET PINNED EVER). The division has come to a grinding halt and then staggered off a cliff. This is one of the rocks we’re hitting on the way down.
Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov Lived Up To The Hype
What is there to say about the first Dragunov vs. Walter match? It was an absolute battle and one of the best things that I have seen in wrestling in a very, very long time. I loved every second of it, but what the heck were they supposed to do to follow that thing? Well they gave it their best shot on Sunday at Takeover and…..I believe the term is “sweet goodness”.
These two put on another clinic in beating the fire out of each other, with Dragunov playing a nearly perfect Rocky II story as someone who came this close the first time and then was willing to go just a step further than Walter to finally put him away. The match was incredible and is on (if not on top of) the short list for Match of the Year at the moment. I loved this and it deserves all of the credit as Dragunov FINALLY ended Walter’s nearly two and a half year title reign. Go watch this match again, but start cringing now.
CM Punk And The Ice Cream Saga
I’ve been a CM Punk fan for a long time now and that is likely going to be the case even longer now. I don’t think there is anything else that can be said about how great the Rampage debut was, as I don’t think it could have gone much better. Punk was as over as free beer (non alcoholic of course) in a frat house, but there was one last thing that made the whole deal even better.
As you probably remember, Punk told everyone to have a free ice cream bar on their way out of the United Center. It turns out that he paid for the ice cream out of his own pocket, making it all the better. I know he can afford it and all that jazz, but thinking something like that through and paying off an idea from ten years ago just felt cool. That’s the only word I can think of for it, and it set a great precedent for what could be an amazing second act for Punk.
Adam Cole And Karrion Kross Are Gone From NXT
One of the more interesting, and at times scary, wrestling stories of the summer has been the impending changes to NXT. It is pretty clear that everything is going to be changing sooner rather than later and it could get interesting in a hurry. This might be a positive change, but the reality is that the changes have already started. We saw two such changes over the weekend.
Barring a big surprise, Adam Cole and Karrion Kross are gone from NXT and odds are they are not coming back. That is the kind of change that shakes up NXT, not just by taking some stars away but also opening up some big spots on the roster. I’m curious to see how it goes, but NXT lost a pair of its top stars. That might be good in the long run, but it is going to make things very different in the short term.
Becky Lynch Is Back
This very well may have been the biggest story at Summerslam and it is a long time in the making. Lynch was the biggest star in WWE for a time and is the biggest female wrestler ever. Of course WWE is going to be happy she is back, but then things got a bit weird as she defeated Bianca Belair in less than thirty seconds to become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion.
I get the idea of pushing Lynch, though I’m really not sure how this is going to go for Belair. We are past the point where Belair’s title win looked like a fluke and she feels like a player in the division, but pairing her with Lynch seems like throwing her into the very deep end of the pool in a hurry. I’m curious to see how this goes, but I’m more than a bit skeptical about the whole thing.
Beating The Champions Isn’t What It Used To Be
I’m really not a fan of having champions lose in non-title matches to set up a future title match. Therefore, the idea of Championship Contenders matches made things even worse. I have no idea why WWE thinks this is the best way to set up a title challenger, but then it got even worse in a recent situation involving what is already the weakest division in the company.
Last Friday on SmackDown, Nox and Shotzi (because they’re called NOX AND SHOTZI) defeated Natalya and Tamina in their third straight non-title match. Oh but wait. This one was different, because it was a CONTENDERS match. Yes somehow this match is different because they slapped a fancy title onto it, making the previous two times that a random team defeated the champs mean absolutely nothing. That’s how life works in WWE these days: it isn’t about what happens in the ring, but rather what WWE tells you to think.
Ted DiBiase/Cameron Grimes And Randy Orton/Riddle Were Really Good
This continues to be the annoying part about WWE: they know how to tell stories. The payoffs for both of these stories were quite good and I liked everything that happened n the big finales. That’s what makes WWE all the more frustrating, as they have stories which either never end or feel so uninteresting or so uninspired that there is no reason to want to care about them.
These stories were different, as they played in to basic emotions and made the fans care about what was going on. That is a heck of an accomplishment for WWE these days, as they seem so obsessed with using big words and getting to whatever goal they have in mind without putting in the effort to get there that it doesn’t matter. It was so nice to see some exceptions to the norm and the results were good as a result.
The Baron Hits Vegas
Believe it or not, one of the best things going in WWE at the moment involves Baron Corbin. The story of Corbin losing everything he has and falling apart has been one of the most entertaining stories WWE has had for several months now and I really want to see where it goes. It turns out that it has gone somewhere over the last few days, but in a series of YouTube videos.
The videos have shown Corbin gain a bunch of money gambling. It was such a windfall that he was able to book a Presidential suite at a hotel, have a nice meal and buy A NEW SHIRT. Then he wound wasting most of it, but this seems like the kind of thing that could make for an interesting twist and I want to see where it goes next. Who would have guessed that would be the case with a CORBIN story?
Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley Is Still Going
As I was getting ready for Summerslam on Saturday, I was kind of relieved that we were going to be done with Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley and get to move on to ANYTHING else. Lashley has suffered enough against Goldberg in this latest inane story but it was finally going to be over. Then, in a hold my whatever Vince McMahon drinks moment, it was time to set up a rematch.
Summerslam saw Lashley retain the title, but OF COURSE it set up a rematch, which you can probably bet on for Crown Jewel in October, where Goldberg very well may get the title. I’m so thrilled that we are somehow getting a story involving Goldberg’s son, because that’s what you want to see from Goldberg: family based stories based around the perils of fatherhood. Granted given how bad the spear has looked lately, that might not be a terrible trade off. Just move on though, please.
Brock Lesnar Is Back
What else could I close with? This was the big surprise to end the show, as Brock Lesnar made his return after a year and a half away to set up one more showdown with Roman Reigns over the Universal Title. Lesnar closed the show, seemingly as a face for the first time in…..eighteen years or so? That alone is going to take some getting used to, but there is one more factor that is going to make this even better.
This would of course be the Paul Heyman factor, and the image of him cowering in the corner when Lesnar came back should tell you everything you need to know about where this story is going. I want to see how they play this out, though I can’t imagine Lesnar getting the title back. Then again, Saudi Arabia claimed Braun Strowman’s career in a similar fashion so you never can tell.
I think you can see just how busy of a weekend it was and that is not a bad thing. There is something so nice about having that special feeling back again and that was in full swing over the Wrestling Weekend. There was a little something for everyone, which is exactly the point of something like this. Now just find ways to follow up on everything and we should be in for a great few weeks. Or until the next episode of Monday Night Raw.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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