Lesnar, Omega, G1 highlight busy pro wrestling weekend
Brock Lesnar is, once again, the WWE Universal champion, which you knew had to be happening.
Lesnar wasn’t on the card for “Extreme Rules” Sunday night, but his advocate, Paul Heyman, had been hinting for the past couple of weeks that the Beast would cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
The only question, supposedly, was who would be the object of his affections, either Seth Rollins, the Universal champ, or Kofi Kingston, the “Smackdown” champ.
You kind of knew it would be Rollins, because Rollins was advertised for the main event, a tag match with “Raw” women’s champ Becky Lynch against Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans.
No way Lesnar would be cashing in before the main event, right? That was the logic.
It also seemed somewhat logical that WWE would give Corbin roughly 45 seconds with the Universal title with a win over Rollins – the tag match was billed as winner-take-all, meaning Corbin and Evans would win both titles with a team win over Rollins and Lynch – before the Lesnar cash-in.
Poor Corbin, a former MITB winner, who didn’t even get a title run out of being gifted that greatest of all pro wrestling props, and hasn’t had a run with the belt in the time since, despite being given a disproportionately massive push as a top heel for the past year-plus.
Anyway, so, Rollins pinned Corbin, after a brutal beatdown, following a Corbin End of Days on Lynch, a pretty good heat spot, for what it was worth.
Rollins seemed no worse for the wear after the match, making the cash-in a bit nonsensical, but this is WWE, where accepting the nonsensical is the only sense you can make of things.
Bottom line: Lesnar is champ again. Which, given the historically bad ratings for Raw and Smackdown the past few weeks, may not be the worst thing.
Another ‘Raw’ reunion: Ratings grabber?
WWE announced a deep lineup for its hastily-thrown-together July 22 “Raw” reunion, with a who’s who of stars past, including, most notably, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan.
This has nothing to do with the fact that the fiscal quarter ends a week later, and Vince McMahon wants to be able to go into that conference call with investors being able to talk about how WWE has the “Raw” ratings decline turning back in the right direction.
Wink, wink, nod, nod.
What’s up with Kofi?
The Kofi Kington “Smackdown” title reign is not playing well. “Raw” has suffered in the ratings in recent weeks, as noted, and “Smackdown” is down in the tank as well, and it’s not just Kingston, because the ratings have been tanking dating back several months now, but his title reign has not helped things.
The booking for Kingston’s title win over Samoa Joe was as uninspired as you will see, with Joe dominating on offense for the bulk of the match, before a brief flurry at the end from Kingston led to a quick win.
This might be one where giving the fans what they think they wanted isn’t actually what they wanted.
Kingston simply isn’t coming across as credible as a world champ.
This is perhaps a good time to make the push again to have WWE reunify its world titles. The brand split doesn’t make sense heading into the upcoming split of “Raw” and “Smackdown” to two networks – “Raw” sticking with USA, and “Smackdown” moving to Fox, in October.
The same should be done with the women’s titles, if you think through the lack of credible challengers for Lynch, on “Raw,” and Bayley, on “Smackdown.”
While you’re at it, do you really need two sets of tag-team belts?
Another set of questions for another day.
G1 Climax update
Will Ospreay is day-to-day, we hope, after suffering a stinger in his A block win over Sanada.
Ospreay is scheduled to face Kota Ibushi on Thursday.
Through two nights of action in A block, Lance Archer, Kenta and Kazuchika Okada are tied at the top with four points. Ospreay, Sanada, Evil and Bad Luck Fale each have two points.
Ibushi, an early favorite to come out of the block for the final, is at zero, along with Zach Sabre Jr. and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Jon Moxley, Tomohiro Ishii and Juice Robinson are in a three-way tie atop the B block with four points.
Moxley faces Ishii on Friday in B block action. Robinson faces Jeff Cobb, who is among three competitors (with Tetsuya Naito and Jay White) at zero points through the first two nights of competition.
AEW ‘Fight for the Fallen’
The Young Bucks defeated Cody and Dustin Rhodes in the main event at “Fight for the Fallen,” a solid, if unspectacular, show on B/R Live Saturday night.
Kenny Omega defeated CIMA on the undercard.
The other news of note was the Britt Baker concussion, which occurred early in her tag match, which she teamed with Riho against Bea Priestly and Shoko Nakijima.
Baker, noticeably, tried to tag out in the wrong corner, but for some reason was allowed to continue, and finished out the match, which was won by the team of Priestly and Nakajima, with Nakajima pinning Riho for the victory.
Match of the Weekend: Riddle-Gulak
Evolve debuted on the WWE Network Saturday night, and, yes, it was because WWE was trying to bite into the audience for “Fight for the Fallen.”
Solid show, and the highlight was the match between WWE cruiserweight champ Drew Gulak and NXT performer Matt Riddle.
The two know each other from their time in Evolve, and put on a wrestling clinic, which you would expect given the guys, the venue and the promotion.
It’s refreshing to be able to watch a high-quality wrestling match without the need for a backstory – neither had accused the other of hitting on their significant other, stealing their money, taking their spot on the card due to some sort of corporate favoritism.
They just had a match. And it was a good match.
Column by Chris Graham