Even with two (or three) brands going, WWE can’t have a PPV every weekend. We’re a couple of weeks removed from SummerSlam and still more than three weeks away from the Raw brand’s No Mercy show on September 24th. It’s another summer lull for WWE fans.
That’s not to say there’s nothing going on in the WWE Universe (see what I did there?). There have been some interesting developments on Raw, SmackDown and NXT over the past week or two. Let’s take a look at what’s going on.
The Professor’s Random Observations for the end of Summer
NXT is getting red hot – You would think that losing both of the top title-holders in NXT, Bobby Roode to SmackDown and Asuka to injury, then likely Raw, NXT would lose its momentum. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the arrival of Adam Cole (Bay Bay) and the emergence of Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly (reDRagons anyone?), there’s new blood. Drew McIntyre is the new men’s champ, and he’s already set for a program with Cole. SAnitY holds the tag belts, and are being stalked by Fish and O’Reilly. SPOILER ALERT – Asuka relinquished the women’s belt to William Regal and announced that she will be off in search of more competition once she heals from a broken collarbone. That means there will have to be some sort of showdown for the women’s belt, too. Things are exciting down in Florida.
Samoa Joe has gone missing – Rumor has it that the Samoan Submission Machine was injured at a WWE live event recently. Maybe that explains his absence on Monday nights for the past couple of weeks. Joe is the only participant in SummerSlam’s Fatal Four-Way for the Universal Title that hasn’t been prominently featured on Raw lately. That’s odd, since he was arguably the hottest of the four going into the event. Here’s hoping that the powers that be have big plans for Joe when he returns.
Bobby Roode is indeed Glorious – Roode, who will apparently visit NXT at least one more time to take care of some unfinished business with Roderick Strong, has been…well, you know, since his arrival on SmackDown. Watching Roode strut down to the ring reminds me of the glory days of the Nature Boy, Ric Flair. In the ring, Roode is old school all the way – reminiscent of all four of the Four Horsemen at once. Roode, a heel in NXT, hasn’t really been portrayed as a heel or a face on SmackDown. This too, is glorious, because it means that WWE can match him up against anyone on the roster.
Some titles switching too much – While Brock Lesnar has had a chokehold on the Universal Championship for what feels like four years, and Jinder Mahal, against all odds (and common sense) continues to hold the WWE Heavyweight title, WWE has been doing some version of hot potato with a couple of the other belts. Akira Tozawa stole the Cruiserweight belt from Neville on the Raw before SummerSlam, only to have Neville take it back again six days later. Sasha Banks won the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam, but lost the belt back to Alexa Bliss last Monday. WWE has to learn the happy medium. If the belt stays on one person too long, it can be boring (see Mahal, Jinder). However, if the belt changes hands on what seems like a weekly basis, the championship loses a lot of luster. The writing team has to figure out a formula that works, and then implement it.
I Hate to Say “I Told You So…But…” – I’ve written about Asuka in several Camel Clutch Blog posts lately, and proposed a scenario in which she relinquished the NXT Women’s Championship without ever losing it. I said it should happen so that the women at Full Sail can have a chance to develop without a mythic champion atop the division, and so that Asuka’s undefeated streak stays intact. Well, it took a broken collarbone, but it looks like my idea is coming to fruition. Expect the Empress of Tomorrow to show up on Monday nights some time just after No Mercy. Hopefully, WWE will make a huge deal out of her dominance, and she’ll become the biggest star in an already-loaded women’s division.
SuperStar Shakeup still on the horizon? – The rumors were hot and heavy for a while that WWE would institute another SuperStar Shakeup after SummerSlam. While it’s still a possibility, it doesn’t look like it will happen until after No Mercy at the earliest. John Cena is set to face off with Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman will match up with Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. Jeff Hardy looks to be headed for a singles push, feuding with Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Nia Jax showed that she’s in line for a title shot against Alexa Bliss, and it looks like Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor are going to tangle again. There’s too much going on on Raw to upset the apple cart right now.
I’ll leave you with a wild prediction. At No Mercy, Enzo Amore will battle Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship. While Amore isn’t the ring technician that Neville is, he has brought some character to a group that was otherwise devoid of personality. (By the way, what ever happened to Jack Gallagher?)
See you next time.