Monday, August 31, 2020

WWE Payback 2020

By Steve Ward

Just one week after Summerslam, the Quarantine Era continued as WWE returned with Payback from the Thunderdome (aka The Amway Center) in Orlando, Florida. The composure of the card bears a semblance of what WWE wished last weeks event had been and they decided they wanted a do-over. Tonights show featured seven matches with three titles defended. This event also marked the return to in-ring action for Roman Reigns after an extensive layoff due to concerns over COVID-19 and his compromised immune system stemming from his battles with leukemia.

United States Championship Bobby Lashley w/ MVP & Shelton Benjamin vs. Apollo Crews (c) Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

Weeks of feuding between The Hurt Business and Apollo Crews came to a head this evening. After Crews successfully defended his title against MVP last Sunday, he met a more formidable foe tonight in U.S. Army veteran Bobby Lashley. Lashley overcame Apollo in a hard fought contest as he locked in the Full Lashley (his rendition of the Full Nelson) for the submission victory.

Sheamus vs. Big E Winner: Big E via pinfall

In a match described by the commentary team as one to help potentially propel the winner into a future title shot, we were presented with the first card-filler bout of the evening. With virtually no real buildup, Sheamus, who recently concluded his program with Jeff Hardy a few weeks back with a loss in their barroom brawl, was pitted against Big E who has been acclimating to singles competition again with his New Day cohorts on the shelf. Sheamus appeared he was in a prime position for the submission victory as he had Big E locked into a heel hook, however, Big E fought his way out with several strikes to the head. Sheamus proceeded to size up Big E for the Brogue Kick but was welcomed with a power bomb followed by the Big Ending to solidify the victory.

King Corbin vs. Matt Riddle Winner: Matt Riddle via pinfall In the second card-filler bout of the evening, arguably the most hated man in WWE, King Corbin, was pitted against former mixed martial artist Matt Riddle as he continues to acquire his footing following his promotion from NXT to Smackdown. As the match approached it’s conclusion, Corbin executed the Deep Six, however, it wasn’t enough to seal the deal. Riddle was able to turn the tides by first executing the Bro to Sleep (his version of CM Punk’s Go to Sleep) and then the Floating Bro for the upset victory.

Women’s Tag Team Championship Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) Winners: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax via submission

Two women who were conspicuously omitted from the Summerslam card last week were thrown together this week as a rather imposing duo to challenge for the tag team titles. It appeared that Banks and Bayley were going to skate by after Banks executed a frog splash but Jax was able to kick out. In the final moments of the match, The Queen of Spades displayed her submission prowess as she locked up Banks with a Muta Lock and Bayley with the Kirifuda Clutch simultaneously! As Sasha tried to fight her way out, Baszler used Banks’ arm to further choke out her partner leading to the tap out and crowning of new champs.

Randy Orton vs. Keith Lee Winner: Keith Lee via pinfall

This contest pit two men coming off of main event losses last weekend against each other in an interesting encounter. Randy Orton’s meteoric momentum came to a screeching halt last Sunday at Summerslam as he lost his bid at the WWE Championship to Drew McIntyre. On the other hand, Keith Lee suffered defeat and the loss of his NXT Championship last Saturday at NXT Takeover XXX to Karrion Kross which opened the door for his debut this past Monday on RAW where he interrupted the Legend Killer as he addressed the WWE Universe. This interruption lead to a bout between the two that was prematurely ended by a McIntyre interruption bringing us this rematch tonight. This exceedingly physical match concluded in absolutely shocking fashion. Orton’s attempt at an RKO was foiled as Lee reversed it into the Spirit Bomb for the upset victory.

Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy Winners: Rey and Dominik Mysterio via pinfall

The ongoing saga between the Mysterio family and “The Monday Nigh Messiah” Seth Rollins added yet another chapter this evening. Following Dominik’s loss to Rollins in his debut match last Sunday, he teamed with his father tonight to do battle with Rollins and his disciple, Buddy Murphy. After Murphy accidentally struck Rollins in the head, the opening presented itself for the Mysterios to take control. Rey kept Rollins at bay outside the ring as Dominik first executed his father’s patented 619 and then the frog splash for the victory.

WWE Universal Championship “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

After The Fiend defeated Strowman last Sunday for the Universal Championship, Roman Reigns shocked everyone as he emerged to lay waste to both men. This week it was announced that the title would be defended in a triple threat match, however, at the conclusion of Smackdown this past Friday, Roman was found discussing the contract for the match with Paul Heyman - could he be the latest Paul Heyman Guy?? The early moments of the match were absolute carnage as Roman Reigns did not make his appearance in the match while Strowman and The Fiend destroyed each other and the ring - literally. After The Fiend suplexed Strowman off the top rope, the ring literally collapsed. Reigns found this to be his window of opportunity to make his way to the ring with Paul Heyman in tow. Roman was unable to put away The Fiend and could have succumbed to the Mandible Claw if he hadn’t kicked Wyatt in his manhood. Reigns then turned his attention to Strowman who he speared to reclaim his Universal Championship.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

WWE Summerslam 2020

By Steve Ward                                                                                                                                              

As we approach the end of month six of the “Quarantine Era,” WWE Summerslam emanated this evening from their new temporary home - the WWE Thunderdome (can you say copyright infringement?). The introduction of this new venue came from the boss himself, Mr. McMahon, this past Friday night on Smackdown. For those who are unaware, the Thunderdome is actually the Amway Center in Orlando, the normal home of the Orlando Magic, with large video screens lining the arena seats with the faces of fans watching from home on their webcams - if I’m being honest, I appreciate the effort and it is nice to see a show held in an arena, however, it also reminds me of a ‘90s sci-fi movie set in a dystopian future. Nonetheless, the show which held the tag line “You won’t see it coming” featured a card of seven matches with five titles defended.

Smackdown Women’s Championship Asuka vs. Bayley (c) Winner: Bayley via pinfall

Over the past two weeks, Asuka found herself earning an opportunity at not only one, but both, of the top women’s titles in WWE. First, she defeated Bayley recently on RAW to earn a shot against Sasha Banks for the RAW Women’s Title and then a women’s battle royal on Smackdown to also earn an opportunity at Bayley’s Smackdown Women’s Title. Asuka clearly controlled the tempo of this entire bout, however, the number’s game proved to be the deciding factor. In the closing moments, Bayley was in dire straits hung up on the ropes as Asuka propelled herself at her. At the last second, Banks pushed Bayley out of the way and took the shot for her. This opened the opportunity for Bayley to roll up a distracted Asuka for the pinfall.

RAW Tag Team Championship The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) (c) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza w/ Zelina Vega Winners: The Street Profits via pinfall

Late in the contest Vega climbed to the ring apron to attract the attention of the referee as Ford was propelled into the ropes by Angel Garza knocking her to the floor. This prompted Andrade to attend to Vega leaving his partner high and dry. Garza was overwhelmed by The Street Profits with Ford ascending to the top rope for an impressive splash that solidified their victory.

Loser Leaves WWE Match Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville Winner: Mandy Rose via pinfall

The months of drama between the former Fire & Desire cohorts finally culminated this evening in a Loser Leaves WWE No Disqualification Match. Sadly, the most entertaining part of this match was Mandy Rose’s futile effort to flip a table upright after opening the legs. This bout reached it’s merciful conclusion as Rose drove a running knee into the cranium of Deville allowing her to secure the pinfall victory and sending Deville packing - could she appear in AEW in 90 days???

Street Fight Dominik Mysterio w/ Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins w/ Buddy Murphy Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Over the past few months we’ve witnessed the unfolding of an ugly rivalry between Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins that not only saw Rey “lose his eye” at Extreme Rules but also have his son Dominik drawn into the fold. Following a vicious kendo stick beating at the hands of Rollins and Murphy recently on RAW, this bout came to fruition and also marked the in-ring debut of the young Mysterio. Dominik Mysterio made a solid showing in his debut WWE match including the execution of a frog splash early in the contest, however, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Monday Night Messiah. In the final moments of the bout, another window of opportunity opened for Dominik as Rollins and Murphy became preoccupied with Rey and handcuffed him to the ropes. Dominik proceeded to take down Rollins and scaled to the top turnbuckle for another frog splash attempt. This time Dominik was met with a pair of knees to the midsection followed by a curb stomp that sealed the victory for Rollins.

RAW Women’s Championship Asuka vs. Sasha Banks (c) w/ Bayley Winner: Asuka via submission

After losing her bid at championship gold earlier in the evening, Asuka made her way back out to the ring to square off with Sasha Banks. As we approached the conclusion of this match it appeared the number’s game would again be the determining factor in the contest as Bayley this time saved Banks from Asuka. Banks proceeded to cinch in the Bank Statement, however, Asuka was able to roll through and reverse it into the Asuka Lock for the submission victory.

WWE Championship Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall

Following weeks of revisiting his “Legend Killer” persona with attacks on Christian, The Big Show, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton found himself in the position for a shot at his 14th World Championship against the man who dethroned Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, Drew McIntyre. This hard-hitting contest ended in rather shocking fashion. McIntyre couldn’t land the Claymore Kick, then Orton’s attempt at an RKO was thwarted only to see McIntyre win with an underwhelming backslide pin to retain the title.

WWE Universal Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match Braun Strowman (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt via pinfall

Following the Swamp Fight at Extreme Rules last month, we saw the reemergence of The Fiend and the darker side of Braun Strowman. After weeks of mind games between the two, we arrived to a Falls Count Anywhere Match for the Universal Championship tonight. Braun attempted to pull out an additional stop to put away Wyatt ass he used a box cutter to remove a portion of the ring canvas and padding to expose the wood planks, however, it backfired as he was met with the Sister Abigail as Wyatt regained the title. After the end of the match, Roman Reigns emerged from out of nowhere to lay waste to both Wyatt and Strowman after several months out of action declaring that he was the true owner of the title.

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