After Raw I was really worried about SD. Raw was so bad this week that I was really worried about SD, but it was a really solid show. The WWE stepped up their game with SD this week, and while I don’t think the ratings will show it, this edition of The Royal Flush absolutely will!
We already knew about the Gauntlet Match and who was going to be in it but it was great to start the show with Paige. It’s a bit like Raw starting with Angle, but it worked pretty well for me. Paige is really growing into this role and making it her own. I was a tiny bit worried early on but wanted to give her the time she needed to figure things out and be something completely different. In the short time as GM, she’s grown quite a lot.
Carmella to the ring talking about her own self-esteem issues, and was great, really felt like she was being honest – which she probably was, as we all have times that we don’t feel good about ourselves – and then slammed us down hard. It felt very Bliss to me. This is exactly what Bliss did not that long ago, and Carmella was almost as good as Bliss. Not quite as good, but almost. Ellsworth, not so much, but he does what he does well. He’s so annoying, but he knows how to make his character work for him, and that’s what’s important in the WWE. Think about the fact that he was a jobber to Strowman, and has now been brought back for a second run on SD. Things like that don’t happen to jobbers in this century!
Abysmal is the nicest thing I can say about Billie Kay’s ring work, and her ring work is leaps and bounds better than her mic work. I honestly wish I could turn the volume off when Peyton and she speak but this is my job so I have to listen. Now, we all know I adore Botch but I hate to see him used so many times in a match by one superstar. Ugh, it turns my stomach to call Billie or Peyton superstars because they surely are not, and even if I didn’t dislike them as much as I do, the fans in the arena shared their displeasure in them by not reacting at all other than new bits of negativity. I’m so glad Becky won this because it would have been a travesty if she hadn’t. It’s only for Becky that I gave any crowns at all because she managed to work with that useless woman without getting hurt.
I might catch crap for this one, but I’ve never been a huge Jeff Hardy fan. I understand how great he was in the ring in his prime, and how creative he and his brother truly are, but I just don’t feel for Jeff the way others do. That being said, I love that he’s pulling Nakamura out of his feud with AJ and into a feud with someone who is as equally as creative as him. I’d have loved to have seen them in the ring in Jeff’s prime because that’s something that could have main evented WrestleMania.
Simple and to the point. I know I say this a lot, but the short and simple backstage segments are usually the best, and this right here proved just that. Shadows and laughter, brilliant!
Renee asks Bryan how he’s going to survive the Gauntlet Match. This is Bryan! Hello! I love the way Bryan cut down Miz. It’s another step in their feud. Almost better was his work interviewing Renee. I missed Bryan being this happy.
What a horrible and flat segment from the Usos. It was so blah that Stacy commented on how flat it was, and he was rarely says anything unless it’s wonderful or downright horrid. It’s as if the Usos forgot everything they’ve built over the past year with this evolution of their characters.
I loved seeing Dane, Wolfe, and EY in the ring on SD. It’s well past time, and I’m giddy that I get to write about them. The only issue I have is that they should have brought Nikki up with them, though I know she’s doing well on her own in NXT. The world is their oyster, and all they have to do is shuck it. Actually, they shucked the Usos most completely in their first appearance on SD.
Not a great segment for the Good Brothers, but better than if they’d been able to make this segment more than nothing. It was short, which was good, but they were not really entertaining. Honestly, they must be better than this on mic, but they haven’t proven so by me.
Wow, what a wonderful segment for Nakamura! He’s really killing it as a heel, and I’m hoping this feud is better than his work with AJ. They just didn’t have the chemistry needed to make it into what we all thought it would be. I have a gut feeling that this will be some amazing work, something we will be tuning in to see, even if there’s nothing else holding our interest on SD (with Bryan there that’s not bound to happen), this could be what brings people to watching again.
The Other B Team
Harper has always been fast and agile for his size, but since losing weight he’s almost unstoppable. Rowan also looked great in the ring. These two together as this team have a huge upside. I see big things for both of them, though not sure Rowan will get as close to the top as Harper will.
I love that the Good Brothers have beaten the Bludgeon Brothers. They are sneaky in how they do it, which gives them more clout than winning through sheer force. They continue to validate themselves as a strong team until they open their mouths.
No question that this was a most beautiful main event. Between the ring work, the stories that were told, the shocking moments, and the unexpected winner, this was exactly how a #1 Contender Match should be. So much greatness in that ring.
It was a bummer that Big E had to lose first, but the work he did in that ring with Bryan was downright beautiful. I had said in the SD DD that I didn’t think Big E was ready to fight for the WWE Championship and I caught a bunch of guff for it, but this match did exactly what I think Big E needs to fight for the WWE Championship. Big E is great in tag matches, but he needs more singles matches to prove to the casual fans that he can be WWE Champion, something I’ve seen in him for years. Big E kept up with Bryan and helped make this first part of this match into something beautiful, and very special. This proved that Big E is absolutely ready to be WWE or Universal Champion at any point.
Joe and Bryan in the ring together were delicious. As with before, so much greatness in that ring. This a feud we all wanted to see, but were afraid wouldn’t happen because of Bryan’s health. Joe’s slam on Bryan made us all cringe, but I’ve heard nothing about it causing Bryan any damage. They left it all out there for us and left me wanting that much more from them together. Fingers crossed that we will get more of this after Bryan and Miz finish their slow burn.
I loved the way the Bludgeon Bros looked at Bryan on their way from the ring. They left us with so many questions, some of which were answered before Miz came to the ring. They’re doing great things with Bryan by bringing back old feuds since his return. I find it humorous that the WWE thinks that we, as fans, have no memory for most things, but then know we will remember when Bryan was briefly part of The Wyatt Family. I wish they would pull their heads out and realize that wrestling fans are as smart as, or smarter than they treat us.
Then there’s Miz. He’s going to crow about beating Bryan as often as people will listen, for as long as they will listen. Makes me wonder if the SD B Team will replace the Raw B Team as Miz’s lackeys. I’m all good with that happening, as long as Harper and Rowan don’t get lost in the mix.
At this part in the match we all figured Miz would win. It was just so obvious. The chain of thought went from Bryan winning, to maybe Joe winning, back to Bryan winning, then knowing Miz would win. While people had hoped Big E or Rusev would win this, no one really expected it to happen. Heck, a couple people even predicted Rusev winning the MITBLM. He’s been on the cusp of being pushed to the top for a while now, but after seeing how Ziggler gets the raw deal, I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen for Rusev, yet here we are.
The look on Rusev’s face. The way the Wrestle Royalty Community reacted to Rusev winning shows just how much fans want to see Rusev at the top. I’m giddy for Rusev and hope that this isn’t just a one-time thing. This man deserves to be a top guy, has worked hard for it in the ring and as a character, and has proven that you don’t need to be a great talker if you have the ability to emote, and have the right people around you.
Don’t Dis AJ!
I loved the sportsmanship between AJ and Rusev. I also loved the dis from English and how AJ quickly dropped him for it. Lastly, I loved how pissed Rusev was at English. I don’t want them to split up, but it would give them an out at Extreme Rules if they don’t want Rusev to win the strap just yet. They could be setting up for English to turn on Rusev and cost him the strap. Just throwing it out there.
It’s interesting how nothing was lost in Cass not being on SD. Carmella was on point, Bryan made one casual comment and moved on. Without Cass, there wasn’t that horrible lull of him boring us to tears on mic. I’d hoped for greatness from him, and he didn’t live up to the hype. I’m glad they didn’t brush his issues under the ring and continued to employ him because of his size. Hopefully he grows up, but he has to want to do it, and if he’s as obnoxious as I’ve heard, his ego is too big for him to look in the mirror and see his flaws and work on them. I hope he doesn’t go the way of too many young superstars before him who couldn’t control their impulses.