WWE had to deliver on the first night of the ‘new era Raw’, and that’s exactly what they did. The two big stories coming out of last night’s show were of course Finn Balor becoming the #1 contender for the new Universal title (on his first night on Raw) and Sasha Banks finally winning the Women’s Title in probably the best 1 on 1 main roster women’s match ever. If you thought Trish Stratus and Lita were studs in the ring, go back and watch Sasha and Charlotte blow away any of those matches, including the one that main evented a Raw. Beyond those two matches, we had two fatal four way matches, a new contender step up to New Day, Nia Jax and Braun Strowman assert their dominance and for the first time in a long time, a fresh feeling to a Monday Night Raw. The set was different, the announce table was put up towards the entrance ramp and announcers were in the ring before and after matches getting competitors reactions. I loved everything about last night’s show, and this should only be the beginning.
A couple random thoughts:
Finn Balor might’ve had the best wrestling debut in WWE history. Guys have had more memorable debuts, but as far as showing what you can do in the ring, I can’t remember a guy looking better. On the same night he turned 35, he made his Raw debut and beat Cesaro, Rusev, Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. The last win against Reigns put him in the (Raw) main event at Summerslam where he’ll fight Seth Rollins for the brand new Universal Title. It just doesn’t get better than that. I hope that Stephanie sides with Rollins and HHH returns to side with Balor, and that Balor wins the title and HHH and Rollins go on to duke it out to see who is the true master of the pedigree.
While Balor had an incredible debut, my favorite moment was Banks winning the title. Her and Charlotte had the match of the night, and it’s so much fun watching these women get a chance to pull out all the stops and really deliver. Sasha is ‘the boss’ in every way possible, and Bayley needs to get up here ASAP so they can tear every single arena down.
My new favorite tweet:
— Brazzers (@Brazzers) July 26, 2016
Sasha Banks Getting Emotional Seeing Herself On The WrestleMania Logo Is My Favorite Video From WrestleMania Week
I think my favorite thing about watching all the men and women come up from NXT and be stars is how relatable it is. When I was a kid, I loved wrestling, but a five year old can’t really relate to Hulk Hogan or Shawn Michaels or The Undertaker. They were mesmerizing, sure, but it’s not like I saw myself as an undead zombie biker man. But with people like Kevin Owens or Sasha Banks it’s different. I’m their age, and while I’ll never be a WWE superstar, the feeling of fighting for a dream and accomplishing it is very relatable. That’s why this video is so great. Sasha busted her ass to get to NXT, buster her ass to become the NXT Women’s Champion and THE BOSS, and now she’s in a Diva’s title match at WrestleMania and her face is plastered on the side of AT&T Stadium. I can’t wait for her, Charlotte and Becky to tear the house down, and then the next night on Raw THE BOSS will be the new Women’s Champion.
NXT’s latest live special is back at Full Sail University and should be one of the more emotional nights in NXT history. Not only will the semifinal and finals of the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team tournament take place, but Sasha Banks & Bayley will main event in a 30 minute Iron Man Match. Cody and Dustin Rhodes will also be on hand to present the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Trophy to the winners, so get your Kleenexes ready for one hell of a night.
DRTTT Semifinals: Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson vs. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe
Balor and Joe seem like an impossible team to beat, but you have to imagine that they were put together for one reason: to make Samoa Joe Finn’s next challenger for the NXT title. Kevin Owens is gone, Itami and Zayn are still hurt, so it makes sense to turn Joe (who is a natural heel) and they have to do it here. I think they decided not to have the NXT title defended at TakeOver for two reasons: to put the spotlight on the tag team tournament and the women’s match, and to sub in a title match for a major angle that sets up a title match. NXT does a lot of subtle things that separate them from the main roster, and this is one of them. Instead of rushing through an NXT title angle, they take the slow burn route and team up Joe and Balor. They have them advance to at least the semifinals of the tournament before Joe turns on Finn, which makes it sting just a little bit extra. Wilder & Dawson might be a secondary story in this match, but they are very good tag team wrestlers, and hopefully this match lasts a bit before the turn because you have four top notch athletes going at it.
Prediction: you can see it coming, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be great. Joe turns on Finn, giving us a new NXT title feud and a much needed bump to Wilder and Dawson.
DRTTT Semifinals: Jason Jordan & Chad Gable vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin
If you don’t watch NXT and you’re thinking of tuning in tonight, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable are the guys to watch. No offense to anyone else on the show right now, but these guys are on a different level. They’re like version 2.0 of Hass & Benjamin, except a million times better in the ring and entertaining as hell on the microphone. It seems like a foregone conclusion that they’re going to go over Corbin & Rhyno, because come on, who in the hell would book it any other way? The only suspense here is who will they face? As I said before, I think Joe and Balor feud after this show, and as much as turning on Finn in the finals of the tournament would be heelish, I think it’s also important to put over Dash and Wilder too. Plus, Dash and Wilder vs. Jordan and Gable is my jam and I need to see it.
Prediction: Ready, willing, Jordan and Gable.
DRTTT Finals: ? vs. ?
This obviously depends on who wins the semifinals matches, but I want Cody and Dustin to hand the trophy over to Jordan & Gable. They’re the best team by a long shot, and they have a legitimate chance to revitalize the tag team division throughout NXT and the WWE. I know Cody wants to finish out his Stardust gimmick, but I also wouldn’t hate it if he and Dustin teamed up for one last run against Gable & Jordan. And by ‘I wouldn’t mind’ I mean I would absolutely fucking love it.
Prediction: Jordan & Gable.
Tyler Breeze vs. Apollo Crews
This is Tyler Breeze’s biggest match on the NXT roster by a long shot. Crews is going to be a MAJOR player in NXT and on the main roster, but Breeze needs this win bad. NXT has done a great job of not letting us focus too much on wins and losses, but Breeze is at his breaking point. He’s watched all the ‘Indy darlings’ come in and sky rocket to the top, and now he’s even losing matches to ‘one and done’ guys like Jushin Liger. Breeze is so talented, and a win against a guy like Crews would be enormous for his character going forward. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the earlier Crews loses a match the better, because undefeated streaks in wrestling are storylines that never culminate how want them to. Plus, losing to a guy like Breeze who has been in NXT for awhile and knows how Full Sail works wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Prediction: I’m on team Prince Pretty tonight.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke
Oh poor Dana Brooke. Poor, poor Dana Brooke. Asuka is somewhat of a Japanese legend, and if you’ve never seen a Japanese women’s wrestling match, you should definitely brush up on it before tonight. They work stiff, and it’s kind of brutal. Dana Brooke is this legitimate weightlifting champion who’s in phenomenal shape and thus has an ‘I’m better than you’ attitude. While that might work on Billie Kay or Carmella, Asuka is a different animal. Just look at the look Asuka gave Emma & Dana Brooke when they ruined her first appearance in NXT. That was an ‘I’m going to kill you & there’s nothing you can do about it’ look. Dana Brooke the wrestler isn’t quite there yet, but Dana Brooke the character is great, and I have a feeling she’s going to take a very believable beating tonight.
30 Minute Iron Man Match For The NXT Women’s Title: Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks
This is the culmination of the Sasha Banks/Bayley feud and it should be a doozy. I don’t know how they’re going to top their match in Brooklyn, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. As special as Brooklyn was, Full Sail is a different animal, and they LOVE Bayley and Sasha. This is the first time women are in the main event of an NXT special and they couldn’t be more deserving. The NXT Women’s title picture has been the main event for a long time whether they went on last or not, and this match is vindication for a job well done. Bayley will probably win, because she’s the new face of the NXT women’s division, but this match isn’t about a win or a loss. Brooklyn was about the win for Bayley. Tonight is about proving she belongs in the spot she’s in, and Full Sail gets to shower Sasha with love one final time.
The Main Event Of NXT TakeOver In October Will Be Bayley vs. Sasha Banks In A 30 Minute Iron Man Match
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) September 11, 2015
In what might end up being the peak of the NXT Women’s division, NXT Women’s champion Bayley will take on Sasha Banks in a 30 minute Iron Man match in the main event of NXT TakeOver in October. I honestly cannot remember the last time (or if it ever happened) that the women were the main event of a big time show like this, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Guys like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn have the name appeal, but what HHH, Sara Del Rey and all the NXT women have done over the past few years is remarkable. Great matches, great storytelling and most importantly competitors that love and respect pro wrestling and give it their all every time they’re in the ring. I don’t know if they can top their match from TakeOver Brooklyn, but I’m excited to see them try.