2018 was a marathon of adapting with sudden storyline changes for WWE

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…And much of it has to do with both Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens being off TV. Both are workhorses and both will be off TV due to injury (Owens) and Illness (Reigns) going into 2019. It is likely both will be back in time for the Royal Rumble though.

I mentioned this before but it has had a ripple effect across both RAW and Smackdown. The upside is the product has become far less predictable in some areas but far more predictable in others.

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Braun Stowman’s absence compounds Brock Lesnar being an absentee Champion and of course, Roman Reigns being away due to illness. This leaves RAW without an anchor and it has been showing since Reigns was forced to take a leave of absence after Hell in a Cell.

It looks more and more lilkely that Strowman will not be back in time for TLC so Smackdown will end up carrying that PPV. WWE has had a piss-poor track record of having contingency plans in place for consistent absences of RAW’s top male superstars and it has been showing in recent months. On that note, the word on the still booked match between Baron Corbin and Strowman at TLC is the match will still happen but someone will take Strowman’s place obviously. The Monster Among Men is expected to be back in time for the Royal Rumble and it’s possible The Big Dog will be back by then, too.

Assuming Lesnar competes at the Royal Rumble, WWE would have a few good problems to figure out regarding its top 3 superstatrs (Lesnar, Reigns and Strowman). A good option would be for Lesnar to drop the title to Strowman and have Reigns win the Royal Rumble, then challenge Strowman for the title. Lesnar has his rematch the following month but loses to Strowman. Lesnar is then set up to face Drew McIntyre at Wrestlemania (EPIC match if WWE pulls the trigger on it). Or, WWE could make it a Triple Threat involving Strowman vs. Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre. Lesnar could be set up to fight Bobby Lashley in that case since…Lashley came back specifically to fight Lesnar and has yet to actually do so.

In the Tag Team Division, AOP becoming the Tag Champs was a much-needed change to wake up the division. They hadn’t been used much since coming to the main roster because of the makeshift tag teams (B-Team and Dolph Ziggler + Drew McIntyre) and The Shield dominating since Wrestlemania. Dropping the titles to Bobby Roode + Chad Gable is clearly building towards…SOMETHING at the Royal Rumble. I think, anyway.

The Women’s Division…whew. FOX is very interested in Ronda Rousey being on Smackdown for the network change next year. The RAW Women’s Division was already strong before she came at the end of the 2018 Royal Rumble. She won’t be missed if she is moved to satisfy FOX’s latest demand.

 

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Daniel Bryan replacing AJ Styles as the Blue Brand’s top talent isn’t a surprise. The Heel turn, on the other hand is a stroke of genius. D-Bry has been a Babyface for most of his career in and out of the ring. He was a Heel early on up to his early run as part of Team Hell No.

I mentioned this before but The Undertaker has expressed a strong interest in having a match with D-Bry at Wrestlemania for some time. D-Bry’s Heel turn the week before Survivor Series could be in preparation for D-Bry vs. ‘Taker at Wrestlemania 35. It would make the most sense if WWE goes that route. I’m pretty sure we will have a better idea at the Royal Rumble. If WWE goes the same route they went with Roman Reigns, the setup could be for D-Bry being eliminated by ‘Taker, then calling him out later for a match at Wrestlemania.

If D-Bry retains the title at TLC (and therefore won’t be in the Royal Rumble match), he could either be set up to drop the title at the Royal Rumble, after it or have his match with ‘Taker at Wrestlemania 35 be for the title. That can be done one of two ways and few would complain about because it’s The Undertaker we’re talking about. One option is simply having ‘Taker win the Royal Rumble match. Assuming Lesnar still has the Universal title at that time–it’s the most likely outcome being honest–it could make more sense for a RAW Superstar to win the Royal Rumble this time. In that case, the next PPV would be about figuring out D-Bry’s Wrestlemania opponent. Then, D-Bry flips the script and says he wants The Undertaker at Wrestlemania ala John Cena from last year. It could work.

The Tag Team Division is wide open but obviously far more interesting than RAW’s between just The New Day, The Bar and The USOs. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if The Usos and possibly The New Day are moved to RAW to help kickstart their Tag Team Division. Gallows and Anderson haven’t been used much and neither has SAnity. The Wyatt Family is obviously being brought back together. Assuming it doesn’t include Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt will re-debut on Smackdown with Luke Harper and Eric Rowan (The latter currently out due to injury). Otherwise him returning to RAW would be a hard sell to me.

The Women’s Division…well, Becky Lynch is the most Over Superstar in all of WWE right now so…yeah. Like I mentioned earlier, FOX is VERY interested in getting Ronda Rousey on Smackdown. Obviously she would need to drop the RAW Women’s Championship first for that to happen. Outside Lynch, there’s also Charlotte (Now a Heel) and Asuka to help anchor Smackdown. The rest of the roster getting screen time can’t hurt either.

 

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The MMC had to deal with alot of changes so the Finals being Fabulous Truth (Carmella and R-Truth) vs. Mahalcia (Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox) should come as no surprise. As a reminder, Roman Reigns and Nia Jax were originally supposed to be in the MMC but that ended up not happening.

Since they’re Over, my money’s on R-Truth and Carmella winning at TLC. For those who don’t know, the winning team of the MMC will enter the Royal Rumble Match last. The winning pair also get an all-expanses paid vacation to wherever they want in the world. It goes without saying whoever wins the MMC likely won’t win their Royal Rumble match but it doesn’t matter. The MMC has proven to be a very good way to showcase a variety of superstars without touching their ongoing storylines on Raw and Smackdown. I look forward to seeing how things go with MMC Season 3 next year!

 

 

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2018 was a marathon of adapting with sudden storyline changes for WWE

My Early 2019 WWE Superstar Shake Up Predictions

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Man oh man is 2018 primed to end with a bang at TLC!

The Road to Wrestlemania 35 begins with the Royal Rumble in January. With all the development going in just the Women’s Division, we must not forget the Superstar Shakeup that has happened annually since the brand split. A handful of superstars will switch brands and a handful more will come up from NXT.

Without further ado, here are my early predictions for Smackdown or NXT to RAW:

  • Becky Lynch: Obvious Four Horsewoman Reunion is obvious. Plus she has unfinished business with “Ronnie”.
  • Charlotte: See above.
  • AJ Styles: I do feel like with D-Bry back on Smackdown, it now makes sense to move The Phenominal One to RAW. There’s nothing left for him to do on Smackdown and RAW needs an established main eventer who will be there consistently (See: Reigns, Lesnar and now Braun Strowman).
  • Shinsuke Nakamura: He’s kinda faded into the background since becoming the US Champion and that’s just not cool. A roster change would be big for him after he drops the US Title.
  • Tye Dillinger: Hasn’t been used much this year. He could get more use on RAW.
  • The Bludgeon Brothers: Let’s not kid ourselves, clearly The Wyatt Family is getting back together and likely as soon as Eric Rowan returns from injury.
  • Lars Sullivan (From NXT): Promos started running this week. It makes the most sense for him to go to RAW to feud with Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns when they return.
  • Johnny Gargano (From NXT): Makes the most sense to me personally and more so with both Finn Balor and Seth Rollins going to Smackdown.
  • Shayna Baszler (From NXT): Four Horsewomen Reunion. ‘Nuff said.
  • Marina Shafir (From NXT): With Baszler.
  • Jessamyn Duke (From NXT): With Bazler.

…Basically, it would be a changing of the guard. Daniel Bryan, who is now a Heel would lead the Blue Brand. He could feud with Rey Mysterio as well as the RAW imports. Becky Lynch would obviously drop the title before goingto RAW with Charlotte. Dropping it to Asuka makes the most sense to me. Asuka could then feud with Zelena Vega, Nikki Cross and the RAW imports.

The Four Horsewomen of MMA–Rousey, Baszler, Duke and Shafir–would do battle with Charlotte, Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley. I do think this is also why Bayley and Sasha Banks have both been kept clear of Rousey so far, too.

Here are my predictions for RAW or NXT to Smackdown:

  • Finn Balor: With AJ Styles going to RAW, it makes the most sense for Finn Balor to go to Smackdown. I do suspect WWE would want them to be on separate brands anyway.
  • Elias: Now that he’s a Face, sending him to Smackdown makes alot of sense as he could help draw ratings.
  • Seth Rollins: After his feud with Dean Ambrose ends, I can see him being moved to break them up. He could be immediately pushed into the title hunt.
  • Kurt Angle: I do see him reuniting with Shelton Benjamin on Smackdown and then reforming Team Angle.
  • Dana Brooke: She’s clearly trying to break out on her own and moving to Smackdown will allow her to be developed more.
  • Nia Jax: I don’t see Nia and Tamina being together for more than a few months since they’re too damned powerful (LOL).
  • The B-Team: Down the line, I see them reuniting with the Miz so…yeah.
  • Aliester Black (From NXT): Smackdown could use someone who can make an impact from NXT off the bat so…yeah.
  • Kairi Sane (From NXT): I do see her being called up to the main roster sooner than later and it makes the most sense for her to go to Smackdown to help offset Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair going to RAW.
  • Nikki Cross (From NXT): She debuted two weeks ago already so…yeah.

D-Bry would clash with Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. With The Miz apparently becoming a Face for the first time in his career (!), a reunion with Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas could be real interesting. Elias now being a Face would make him a draw for Smackdown opposite Randy Orton. Braun Strowman could potentially be moved to Smackdown but only if he doesn’t rejoin the Wyatt Family and presumably after he’s done feuding with Drew McIntyre. As for Kurt Angle moving to Smackdown, he could be set up to lose the GM job to Corbin to write him off the RAW brand.

Nia Jax for Charlotte + Lynch might not feel like an even trade but I do think after all the development she’s gone through this year, she could carry Smackdown like she did RAW before Rousey got Over. Plus, I don’t see Nia and Tamina being together long term for too long. They were on separate brands before for a reason. Just one of them is physically dominant but both? Yeah, that’s just unfair (LOL).

…The status of the Commissioners and GMs could also potentially change. Signs point to Corbin replacing Kurt Angle as the RAW GM full time. There has been talk of Stephanie McMahon potentially working with Charlotte after Wrestlemania so bringing her to RAW would obviously have to happen. Ric Flair could potentially be brought in as the new RAW Commissioner to clash with Steph and Corbin. On Smackdown, Paige is clearly not going anywhere. Shane being paired with The Miz to help him get Over as a Face could be really interesting though.

 

 

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My Early 2019 WWE Superstar Shake Up Predictions

RAW won Surivor Series but Smackdown’s Charlotte Flair won the night

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One week after Becky Lynch invaded RAW and took out Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair DESTROYED Ronda Rousey and turned Heel.

On a night that saw RAW sweep 6-0 (The pre-show match, which Smackdown won wasn’t counted), Rousey vs. Charlotte stole the show. If you thought Daniel Bryan’s Heel turn was crazy, Charlotte’s took it to a whole other level. Even before the Turn, it was one hell of a match.

Charlotte was clearly the better wrestler in terms of skill but Rousey was more than ready to go the distance with her. As a reminder: Charlotte is 5’10”. Rousey is 5’7″. Charlotte was able to use her longer frame to keep Rousey from keeping her down long enough to win the match but Rousey’s stamina frustrated Charlotte to the point she snapped and tee’d off on her opponent.

…It was also a nod to her being on the receiving end of such brutality  a few months earlier from Becky Lynch brought things full circle. On the Smackdown after Survivor Series, Charlotte confirmed she did what she did to send a message to Rousey and more so since Becky Lynch was pulled from the match. The Smackdown Women’s Champion was noticably absent and likely because she is in the concussion protocol. She should be cleared to return next week though.

Paige came out and said although she enjoyed the ass kicking she gave to Rousey, Charlotte Flair will be fined $100,000 for assaulting 5 Referees after the Survivor Series match (Pocket change for Charlotte obviously). Then Charlotte challenged the Iconics in back to back matches just because she can. She destroyed Billie Kay in minutes but the second bout ended in No Contest due to outside interference. Clearly pissed off, Charlotte proceded to destroy both of them at ringside.

On the RAW side of things, WWE went for broke and set the table for two, maybe three massive matches involving Rousey. One with Nia Jax and TLC as well as Charlotte and Becky Lynch down the road, likely at the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania 35. Nevermind the Superstar Shakeup, which appears to be coming before Wrestlemania next year instead of after it. I know it’s early but I’ll speculate potential roster shifts in a separate post.

As of this week, 4 matches are set for next month’s TLC:

 

  • Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the Intercontinental Championship
  • Braun Strowman (or Kurt Angle) vs. Baron Corbin in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match*
  • Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey for the RAW Women’s Championship
  • AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship

It was announced Braun Strowman’s Kayfabe elbow injury the RAW after Survivor Series was planned to write him off TV for a while. In reality, Strowman will undergo elbow surgery for bone spurs in his left elbow (the Kayfabe injury was his right elbow). Apparently it’s been a problem for a while and..yeah. He is listed as “touch and go” for TLC but is expected to be ready for his Royal Rumble match with Lesnar. If Strowman won’t be ready for TLC they could bring back Kurt Angle to face Corbin for the RAW GM job at TLC.

…It’s safe to assume Brock Lesnar will not appear again until the Royal Rumble when he will defend the Universal Championship against Braun Strowman. Outside special events like Super Show-Down and Crown Jewel, Lesnar only appears at “The Big Four”: Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summer Slam and Survivor Series.

With Braun Strowman joining Roman Reigns on the sidelines, RAW is now without its two best male superstars (excluding Lesnar). It should come as no surprise we will see the Women’s Division doing more to help fill in the gaps but hopefully both Strowman and Reigns return at the Royal Rumble.

Strowman being out also means Ember Moon will have a new Tag Team partner for the rest of the Mixed Match Challenge. In terms of who’s available, my money’s on Titus O’Neil or Apollo Crews replacing Strowman as her partner. Speaking of replacements. Jeff Hardy replacing AJ Styles last week was a one-off but was more than just Kayfabe. AJ Styles is currently negotiating a contract extension with WWE. He is requesting less Live Show appearances as part of the terms of his contract extension and he will likely get it.

Based on his WWE 365, it’s fair to assume Styles will end his wrestling career with WWE. More on that in a separate blog post but a certain dream match AJ Styles asked for could now be possible:

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On a Table for 3 episode earlier this year involving both men and Kevin Nash, AJ Styles asked Shawn Michaels to come out of retirement and have a match with him. Michaels turned him down before he could finish asking but that was before Crown Jewel. HBK proved he’s still main event level despite an 8 year absence from the ring. It also frees up The Undertaker to put someone Over at the same time.

Speaking of. According to a few sources, Daniel Bryan will likely be his opponent and his Heel turn is for that reason. It’s no secret ‘Taker has wanted to get in the ring with D-Bry for some time so…yeah. ‘Taker is 23-2 at Wrestlemania overall, his loses being to Lesnar at WM30 and Reigns at WM33. Plus we could still see Michaels/D-Bry the following year.

 

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RAW won Surivor Series but Smackdown’s Charlotte Flair won the night

I just extended my WWE Network Subscription to May 16, 2019!

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As of yesterday, I have added a 6 months to my WWE Network subscription. My subscription expired two days after Evolution so I missed Crown Jewel. I was able to get two three-month prepaid cards yesterday and now my subscription is good through May 16, 2019.

That means I can watch ALL of the following PPVs:

  • Survivor Series (Tomorrow)
  • TLC (December)
  • Royal Rumble (January)
  • Elimination Chamber (Presumably February)
  • Fastlane (Presumably March)
  • Wrestlemania 35 (April)
  • Backlash (May)

…Of course, this includes everything else WWE Network offers. It also includes PPV events WWE Network will carry outside the US including The Greatest Royal Rumble (Late April presumably) as well as The 2019 WWE Hallf of Fame (Night before Wrestlemania) and more recently the Mixed Match Challenge (Matches are available 3 days later on WWE Network after airing on Facebook Watch after Smackdown).

There is a litany of original programming one can get in addition. My 3 personal faves are Road Trip, Table for 3 and Photoshoot. WWE has recently started adding more Superstar collections as well as updating existing ones. For example the Stone Cold vs. McMahon Collection was updated a few months back to include highlights for the later parts of Austin’s career and his Hall of Fame induction (he was inducted by Vince). There is a collection called Women’s Evolution that covers the major milestones going back to the beginning of WWE to Wrestlemania 34 (presumably it will be updated to include Evolution sooner than later).

There are still a number of Superstar Collections not yet there but should be:

  • Mark Henry
  • Kane
  • Rikishi
  • The Big Show (WCW/NWO and WWE)
  • Kevin Nash (WCW/NWO and WWE)
  • DDP: Diamond Dallas Paige (WCW and WWE)
  • Kofi KIngston: Trouble in Paradise
  • Naomi: Feeling the Glow
  • Lana: Ravishing
  • The Bellas: Twin Magic
  • Carmella: Staten Island Princess
  • 2 Cool: Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay
  • Chyna: The 9th Wonder of the World
  • CM Punk: Best in the World
  • Matt Hardy* (TNA Matches)
  • Jeff Hardy* (TNA Matches)
  • Kurt Angle* (TNA Matches)
  • AJ Styles* (TNA Matches)
  • Samoa Joe* (TNA Matches)

 

* WWE is clearly looking to purchase the rights to carry matches for certain superstars who worked that promotion. Otherwise they wouldn’t advertise a third party streaming service on WWE Network.

…It would be pretty classy of WWE to add Chyna and CM Punk’s collections and especially the latter’s. Most of the list would be folks who have alot of highlight so…yeah.

 

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I just extended my WWE Network Subscription to May 16, 2019!

Confirmed: Becky Lynch’s injury was NOT planned, Nia Jax took backstage heat for injury

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…This is Nia Jaxx’s right hand shortly after she cold-cocked Becky Lynch in the face on RAW, forcing the Smackdown Women’s Champion to miss her Survivor Series match with RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. Nia tweeted the picture after Lynch and Rousey, now unable to have their match because of her took their (Kayfabe) beef to Twitter. Lynch responded, saying she’ll get some payback later.

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…Charlotte’s quip at the end is just priceless.

 

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…Mind you, Lynch and Rousey WILL have their day in the ring. The delay sucks but kudos to WWE for allowing the beef to continue online. That may be a sign the intended match could happen sooner than later. At the very least I am expecting the beef to continue on-screen the RAW after Survivor Series.

As for Nia Jax…whew.

The heat she has been taking since the incident has been intense not just from the wrestling world and fans but backstage, too. More so given this is not the first time she badly injured a superstar just this year. Zelina Vega missed a few weeks after Jax threw her on Tamina at Evolution. Alexa Bliss missed a few weeks after being injured during their match at Wrestlemania 34.

The unfortunate reality is Jax is getting a reputation as a dirty wrestler and that may be one of the reasons for the sudden Heel turn two weeks ago. Of course, no one is calling for her to be fired–and let’s be honest, no way in hell will WWE risk pissing off Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by firing her–but she should and likely will be punished.

Kayfabe having her lose her title opportunity and then being taken out of the title picture until after Wrestlemania 35 makes the most sense to me. She has a feud with her now former friend Ember Moon. She could be forced to put her status as #1 Contender on the line in a match, then lose. She’s then demoted to putting over Midcards in the Women’s Division and let’s be honest, the RAW Women’s Division needs a solo credible Heel (The Riott Squad is a team) and more so with Alexa Bliss on the shelf. Mickie James and Alicia Fox aren’t strong enough so…yeah.

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…This screenshot though.

Becky Lynch doing another invasion SOON needs to happen. If I remember right, Lynch should clear the Concussion Protocol by this time next week (I believe it’s 7 to 10 days). For those who don’t understand why she’s in the protocol, WWE is not taking any chances after what happened to Daniel Bryan (missed 2 and a half years) and Paige (Same injury as Edge in short) and it’s the right call. She’s the biggest superstar in WWE right now. You can be damned sure they learned from how they handled Stone Cold Steve Austin (suffered a career-shortening injury before his mega push during the Attitude Era) to protect superstars even from themselves.

She will be back and back very soon.

 

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Confirmed: Becky Lynch’s injury was NOT planned, Nia Jax took backstage heat for injury

The Ripple Effect from Roman Reigns’ absence extends to Smackdown Live

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…That is the best way to describe the RAW and Smackdown before Survivor Series.

Daniel Bryan’s Heel turn- comes hot on the heels of Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch being removed from the Women’s Champion match with RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series.  The buildup got real personal real quick and after the Smackdown invasion on RAW, the last thing anyone wanted or expected was for there to be a last-minute change.

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..,This shot RIGHT HERE.

The Internet EXPLODED when Lynch pulled a Stone Cold and took on the ENTIRE RAW Women’s Team and this was AFTER she DESTROYED Ronda Rousey backstage:

It is revealed on Smackdown the shot to the face Lynch took from Nia Jaxx put her in the Concussion Protocol and will not be cleared to compete at Survivor Series.

For those who may be wondering, Alexa Bliss is also not cleared to wrestle and that’s why she got out the ring when all hell broke lose. She was injured at a live event just before Evolution and was forced to withdraw from the tag match that also involved Mickie James, Lita and Trish Stratus. Alicia Fox took her place in that match and she was at ringside.

Anywho, I think it’s clear we WILL see Lynch and Rousey clash sooner than later. If not TLC then the Royal Rumble or even Wrestlemania. We did  see a crossbrand match between Charlotte and Asuka, who was on RAW at the time at Wrestlemania 34. In other words, there is a precident and the foundation to build the match is already in place.

Looking beyond Survivor Series now. We already know Nia Jaxx has first dibs on the RAW Women’s Champion. On Smackdown, it’s not as clear. Becky Lynch is technically a babyface Heel but her new badass “I am THE MAN” persona has the WWE Universe in love with her since she Turned. She is NOT losing the Smackdown Women’s title anytime soon. As for potential feuds, there is some potential with Sonya DeVille (seems to turning into a Face), Mandy Rose (Seems to be getting a Push) and Lana (To help get her Over). I don’t think Charlotte will be in the title picture again until the buildup to Wrestlemania personally.

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…Getting back to the NEW WWE Champion. Clearly AJ Styles will get his rematch, likely at the TLC PPV. D-Bry’s Heel turn inevitable for two reasons: His wife’s Heel turn last month and more directly, AJ Styles being a babyface. Smackdown has been without a credible top Heel not named The Miz or Randy Orton prettymuch all year. D-Bry’s Heel turn changes that and more so now that the feud between him and Styles is personal.

As for the Universal Championship, obviously Lesnar is just holding it until Roman Reigns returns or he drops it to Braun Strowman, whichever happens first.

 

 

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The Ripple Effect from Roman Reigns’ absence extends to Smackdown Live

Developing Story: John Cena and Daniel Bryan refuse to work Crown Jewel PPV

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The story apparently broke sometime Thursday.

Sources within WWE confirmed Friday morning both John Cena and Daniel Bryan are refusing to travel to Saudi Arabia in reaction to the murder of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The journalist was brutally murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The crown prince denies responsability for the murder and has promised to investigate the journalist’s murder personally.

If the name sounds familiar, he was the deciding factor in both The Greatest Royal Rumble and Crown Jewel taking place in Saudi Arabia. The timing sucks hard for WWE in the aftermath of Roman Reigns being forced to step away from WWE due to his Lukemia coming back. This is on top of Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe both being out due to injury as well as Bobby Lashley reportedly having a separated shoulder.

On RAW, Baron Corbin appointed Bobby Lashley as John Cena’s replacement at Crown Jewel, indirectly referencing the situation by stating he is replacing someone who never earned their spot.

The following night on Smackdown, AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan opened the night with their match originally meant for Crown Jewel. AJ Styles retained after a match that lasted 30 minutes. Samoa Joe, who was reportedly out with an injury for a few weeks attacked Styles and D-Bry after their match. Later that night, AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the title at Crown Jewel was set.

Kudos to WWE for responding quickly while also not taking the WWE Championship match off the card. Obviously D-Bry would be booked to lose the match on Smackdown since he wouldn’t be going to Saudi Arabia (and I suspect he was booked to lose at Crown Jewel originally too). Plus it was the perfect excuse to reintroduce Shane McMahon as the Smackdown GM. Paige held it down at Evolution so I wouldn’t be surprised if she was just given the night off.

Back on topic and in closing though. Cena and D-Bry will obviously not be punished for refusing to work Crown Jewel. There’s only a handful of Active superstars who can basically back out at the last minute like they did despite the matches they’re involved in being built up for almost a month straight. Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, Triple H (though he wouldn’t obviously), The Undertaker (same as Triple H), Rey Mysterio, The Miz and Brock Lesnar all come to mind. Everyone else would be severely punished. Folks need to be mindful Baron Corbin’s botched cash-in last year was punishment for arguing with a guest speaker backstage in front of the Smackdown roster. So…yeah.

Anywho, the show will go on. Shane McMahon promising to fire the Smackdown Superstar who loses tells me a Smackdown superstar will win Best in the World Tournament at the Crown Jewel PPV. My money’s on Randy Orton or Rey Mysterio winning personally. The Blue Brand can’t afford to lose Orton (second best Heel on the roster) or the Miz (best Heel on the roster).

Mysterio being cut from the Smackdown Roster to compete on 205 Live would give the Cruiserweight Division the badly needed star power they were hoping for when Enzo Amore was brought in from RAW. You can believe folks would tune in just to watch him perform if he loses in the final round.

From the RAW side, I do see Bobby Lashley or Kurt Angle winning in the end. Ziggler doesn’t make sense given he’s clearly about to split from Drew McIntyre sooner than later. Rollins is booked to defend the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose at TLC so…yeah.

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Developing Story: John Cena and Daniel Bryan refuse to work Crown Jewel PPV