Quite a few stuff going on with both brands as well as the usual cross-brand stuff.
First, here’s some injury updates:
- Jeff Hardy, who took a nasty fall during his HIAC Match with Randy Orton Tweeted he was ok. His message came several minutes after his brother Matt Tweeted an animated Gif of the last time Jeff face-planted through a table several years ago.
- Eric Rowan will be on the shelf for months due injury. His partner Luke Harper recently competed on NXT at a live show. It’s not a bad idea as at least WWE is finding a way to use Harper.
- The latest news on Jason Jordan indicates his injury was more severe than initially thought and in fact it may have been career ending. Jason Jordan suffered a neck injury earlier this year. He has been seen backstage in recent days but is not cleared to wrestle. Apparently, the plan was for him to eventually be reunited with Chad Gable as a Tag Team. Jordan came to RAW last year to be Kurt Angle’s Kayfabe son (For the record, Angle is a father of four girls but has no sons IRL).
- Speaking of Kurt Angle. He’s taking some time off. Angle recently shared a picture of Team Angle–Himself, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas–from back in the day, expressing the desire to team up with them again. Benjamin is currently on Smackdown Live and went solo after Chad Gable went to RAW during the Superstar Shakeup. I would not be surprised if Angle is working to get Benjamin to RAW as well as get Charlie Haas back in WWE while he’s away.
- This was quietly announced the weekend of Hell in a Cell but Matt Hardy has officially retired. It was expected and more so since it was widely known he had been working with a debilitating back condition for some time. It goes without saying he will be a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer. Jeff Hardy is even more banged up but he will keep going for as long as his body will allow. Could TLC be Jeff Hardy’s retirement match?
- It was announced last Tuesday morning that Ember Moon will replace Alexa Bliss in the Season 2 Premiere of the Mixed Match Challenge. Alexa is being pulled out due to injury but she hasn’t been ruled out returning should Strowman/Moon have a deep run.
- Similarly, Sasha Banks has been replaced by Mickie James due to injury. We will have to wait and see if she will return later in the tournament.
I do have one marriage announcement that kinda flew under the radar. Adrienne Reese–Ember Moon in WWE–announced she will be marrying indie wrestler Matthew Palmer “in the near future”. My guess is like the marriage will be planned so she can be put on the card for all but the Male-only Crown Jewel PPV (It will be in Saudi Arabia like The Greatest Royal Rumble earlier this year). I do find it a little weird her marriage was publicly announced in advance as you don’t usually find out until after the fact.
Speaking of marriages. Corey Graves vaguely referenced Renee Young being married to Dean Ambrose during the latter’s match with Drew McIntyre on RAW this week. Anyone who knows their marriage caught the reference but those who didn’t would likely assume she talked to him earlier in the day.
Some rumors and speculation on the Women’s Division and the Evolution PPV:
- The all-female factions and tag teams formed this year on both brands continues to fuel speculation Women’s Tag Team Titles on RAW and Smackdown will be introduced sooner than later. At the very least, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are announced at Evolution. More so since the Mae Young Classic’s finale will take place at Evolution.
- The dirtsheets have been pissed about The Bella Twins being back, fearing they will take away from already underutilized talent on both brands. Have to say I feel the opposite and more so since you need a few established vets to help carry both brands. Brie Bella and Maryse–both of whom gave birth in the last 18 months combined–are involved in their husbands’ feud now. I do know that Bella Twins have “Free Agent” Status, meaning they can compete on either brand. It would make sense for them to have a key role as a tag team.
- It’s fair to say Becky Lynch’s Heel Turn at Summer Slam was long overdue and nicely executed. Her character needed the reset and more so since she was forced into the Midcard so other Superstars can be pushed. Naomi (Twice), Alexa Bliss (Twice), Carmella and Charlotte (twice) have all held the Smackdown Women’s Championship since Becky Lynch became the inaugural Smackdown Champion two years ago. Asuka will likely get a title run in the near future but it can wait until early next year if need be.
- Maryse announced on the September 18 episode of Smackdown she is stepping away to focus on being a mother. It’s not that big of a surprise: Brie considered returning 6 months after giving birth last year be decided to wait longer. There are rumors Brie planned to return at last year’s Survivor Series but waited two months longer to make her surprise return (alongside her sister Nikki) in the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble match.
- Speaking of the Women’s Royal Rumble. The second one will likely have more active superstars than the first and mainly because of the NXT callups who’ve come to the main roster since last year. Charlotte professed a strong desire to participate in the Women’s Royal Rumble next year so it’s unlikely she will have the Smackdown Championship at that time. Lita, Trish Stratus and Beth Phoenix are the most likely to return from last year’s outing and are confirmed for Evolution. We could also see Michelle McCool, Jacqueline, Kelly Kelly and Torrie Wilson return.
- Carmella revealed after Smackdown she decided to change her hair color back to its natural color, Brunette (with some fuchsia mixed in) to “go back to her roots”. I think the real reason was because Smackdown has three blondes in the Women’s Division–Mandy Rose, Charlotte and Lana–and she wanted to stand out from them. WWE is working on changing her hair in online publications so it’s safe to assume the change will likely be permanent as she said. Mostly because of her pairing with R-Truth she has clearly become a babyface as well.
- Nia Jaxx, who recently returned to in-ring action indicated she will likely invoke her rematch clause and challenge Ronda Rousey for the RAW Women’s Championship before the end of the year. Rousey is booked to be in a six-woman match at the Super Show-Down alongside The Bella Twins against The Riott Squad. Nia Jaxx lost the RAW Women’s Championship at the Money in the Bank PPV earlier this year when Alexa Bliss, who won the briefcase cashed it in the same night on her. Nia was pulled to do promotional work while Alexa put Rousey Over. Now that Nia has returned, she and Rousey have some unfinished business so…yeah.
- Everyone already understands this but Evolution being an All-Woman PPV featuring the finale for the Mae Young Classic is mostly to make up for women being excluded from The Greatest Royal Rumble PPV in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. WWE took alot of heat even though the decision to exclude women from The Greatest Royal Rumble and the Crown Jewel PPV wasn’t their call. WWE took alot of criticism for knowingly hosting a PPV in a country that treats women and girls as second class citizens. Triple H pushed back hard against the international criticism and defended WWE’s decision to host the PPV in Saudi Arabia, stating “When you want to do business in a country whose cultures and beliefs are different from yours, you have to play by their rules and bide your time.” That was basically his way of saying if it was his decision, women would’ve been on the card. But, it was completely out of his hands. The Women’s Division did live shows elsewhere at the same time.
- Continuing on. Many saw the Women’s Division being excluded from The Greatest Royal Rumble as a step back after Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss competed in a house show in Morocco. WWE was able to make it happen by honoring the government’s request that female superstars wear not show skin in public and wore custom body suits for their match. Folks need to keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is not Morocco. I do feel that time the will come sooner than later that the Women’s Division will be allowed to perform in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Liv Morgan was legit knocked out by Brie Bella during the six-woman tag team match they were involved in on this week’s episode of RAW. During a (clearly forced) commercial break, Liv Morgan was taken backstage during the break while the rest of the Riott Squad, which won the match continued after the commercial break. Brie reacted to the incident via Twitter and though she didn’t apologize, she said basically said “accidents happened, no malicious intent intended.” This is obviously not the first time Brie recently botched a move but last time, she was the one who was laid out and her husband was involved.
On that last note. The last thing you want is a superstar getting legit hurt during or after a match. When taking a move like the “Yes” Kicks, you are trusting your opponent to not legit try to seriously injure you. You sell it but you don’t become legit seriously injured. Mick Foley, who has taken The Undertaker’s Tombstone more than any other Superstar is pretty candid about how dangerous the move is even when executed correctly. Ask Daniel Bryan, who lost 3 years of his career after taking one from Kane.
Whoever you’re in the ring with, there needs to be mutual trust that one will not legit try to seriously injure the other to the point they can no longer make a living. It’s an unwritten rule in the business even if you don’t legit like each other if you want to work in the business. It’s also the REAL reason we will never see a Hell in a Cell match like the first two ever again. In recently released introspective on the 1998 King of the Ring match involving Foley and The Undertaker, Foley stated after the match Vince told him in no uncertain terms “I don’t want to see anything like that EVER again”.
Of course, the fall he took during his HIAC match with Triple H a few years later was obviously planned. So were the dives Shane McMahon did from the top of a cell on two separate occaisions. It would be more than fair to say both of them shortened his in-ring career. We know for certain he is taking some much needed time off to focus on his health and take some much needed time off. Shane hasn’t been seen since appointing Paige the new Smackdown GM after Wrestlemania 34. The latest rumors see Shane returning for Smackdown’s 1000th Episode next month.
Speaking of October as well as November:
- It has been confirmed Shawn Michaels will make his in-ring return after 8 years at the recently announced Crown Jewel PPV in Saudi Arabia. HBK will be ringside in Triple H’s corner opposite Kane, who will be in The Undertaker’s corner at Super Show-Down in Australia. The details are still being worked out but Kane and HBK being at Super Show-Down is part of the build for the latter’s in-ring return. The latest rumors point to a tag-team match though apparently, WWE is also working on booking HBK in a singles match at TLC in December as well. HBK hasn’t competed since he was retired by The Undertaker back in 2010 at Wrestlemania 26–8 years. HBK has candidly stated since then he has kept himself in shape and can still compete if he wanted to. The biggest clue HBK would be coming out of retirement came a few weeks back when the Phenom confronted HBK on RAW as part of the build for the former’s match with Triple H at Super Show-Down. ‘Taker straight out said “If you came out of retirement, it would only be to come after me”. WWE and HBK confirmed the latter turned down “millions” offered to him to compete in a singles match at The Greatest Royal Rumble earlier this year. Clearly HBK wanted his comeback to be on his terms so…yeah.
- It has been confirmed Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista will join Randy Orton for a reunion of the Evolution faction. The four superstars formed the most dominant faction of the previous decade. Of the four, Ric Flair is retired and Batista is now in Hollywood full time. Triple H is a part-timer while Randy Orton is on Smackdown. Triple H, Orton and Batista reunited in 2014 to separately feud with The Shield and Daniel Bryan. Batista won the Royal Rumble in 2014 while Randy Orton was the WWE Champion at the time going into Wrestlemania 30. It was quite a memorable year that saw the destruction of The Shield.
- It was announced the RAW after Hell in a Cell that Roman Reigns will defend the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat Match at the Crown Jewel PPV on November 2 in Saudi Arabia. It is the only match that has been announced for Crown Jewel so far though it is believed a Tag Team match involving The Undertaker and Kane vs. Triple H and Shawn Michaels is also planned. We’ll have to wait and see.
…I think that’s enough for now. WWE has the TLC PPV planned for December but given there will be two PPVs in October and November each–Survivor Series is the other November PPV–I would not be surprised at all if a second PPV is announced for December like Roadblock.
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