We’re getting closer to WrestleMania and the show starts with the arrival of the condensed Bloodline – Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso and Paul Heyman. Heyman emphasizes the mission tonight – solve the Sami Zayn and the Kevin Owens problem tonight in Boston.
Kevin Owens vs. Solo Sikoa
Owens jumps Sikoa before the bell but Sikoa is game for the action outside the ring. The bell finally rings once both are in the ring and the heat is still on hard.
Sikoa gains the ADV and dominates with some stiff shots to every part of the body. Sikoa gets a low blow with a knee and they work the improv well.
Owens hits back finally but they play the “he just won’t go down” card, the most boring archetype in wrestling history.
Owens continues to hit hard until Jimmy Uso comes out. No actual contact means the match continues and Sikoa takes advantage of the distraction while the crowd begs for Zayn.
Back from break, Sikoa continues to dominate with Uso cheerleading on the outside. Nice Samoan Drop gets two for Sikoa. Owens later evades a charge from Sikoa, takes out Jimmy, and starts a Superkick Party before hitting the Cannonball. Swanton gets two for Owens.
Uso rushes the ring right after and gives KO the DQ victory, which I believe results in Solo’s first singles loss on the main roster.
Winner: Kevin Owens (DQ)
The dismantling of KO continues after the bell, and is set to finish with a Samoan Splash through the announce table until Zayn finally appears. He takes out Jimmy and later Sikoa before grabbing a chair. The Canadian heroes end up in the ring with Owens slumped over in the corner. He refuses Zayn’s help to get up and instead bails out of the ring to walk away under his own power. Nice hot start.
After a SmackDown recap, Bobby Lashley calls out Bray Wyatt backstage.
Elsewhere, Byron Saxton chats with Carmella ahead of her match with Bianca Belair. Chelsea Green shows up to support Carmella. I’ll give these two credit. They really jive together.
Bianca Belair vs. Carmella (Non-Title Match)
This match is just too boring. Carmella gets some offence, Bianca gets some offence, they trade spots, yada yada yada.
Out of the break it looks a bit better but Chelsea Green distracts the ref and it goes back to being boring garbage. Belair deserves better. KOD finishes it after Belair deposits Green in the timekeeper’s area.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Post match, Green attacks and Carmella joins in, which of course draws Asuka out. Empress isn’t wearing her makeup, but blue mists Green.
Backstage, Owens is confronted by Zayn about working together. KO no-sells it and hits back heatedly.
MizTV is up next with a face-off between Logan Paul and Seth Rollins. The crowd keeps singing Rollins song while Miz tries to get the segment going. The crowd just keeps the singing going through the start of Paul’s dialogue. We then get an FU Logan chant which Paul, to his credit, embraces and feeds into. Dude has this game nailed.
Rollins goes off big-time on Paul, and challenges him to fight. Paul says he’s premium and doesn’t fight for free, especially in Boston. Miz interjects and is tossed out. Predictably, Paul and Rollins come to blows, with Miz siding more with former(?) friend Paul, and Paul ultimately getting the better of Rollins.
Good segment that surely will get attention from YouTubers
Omos vs. Dolph Ziggler
I blinked and it was over.
Ziggler is absolutely meaningless now, and this just proves it.
Post match, MVP gets on the stick and sings the praises of Omos.
Backstage, MMM drools over Otis until Baron Corbin comes in and disgusts everyone. Corbin promises to get rid of Chad Gable to free up Otis.
Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano
Before we get to the match, we get a segment between Paul Heyman and Jimmy Uso. Jimmy has until the end of the week to get Jey Uso back into the fold or he’s in trouble.
If it wasn’t for Judgement Day, this would be a dream match.
I also can’t stand Corey Graves’ knocks on Gargano. They’re baseless, meaningless, and stupid.
Technical work to start then the intensity picks up. Nice moves by Gargano leads to a Suicide Dive into the break.
Back from break and the action is more even Steven. Gargano gets a heat sequence. Gargano gets two off the Bam Bam Dive. Punk Knee sets up for a Superkick but Balor gets the Slingblade. Gargano gets a Superkick Party for two.
Back and forth continues with Balor getting a Final Cut for two. Soon after, Gargano gets the rope dropkick and that’s the cue for JD interference. Back in the ring, Balor has recovered and gets his flurry, including the Shotgun Dropkick. He heads up for the Coup de Gras, but Edge’s music plays. Priest heads up the aisle to confront his former friend, but Edge comes out of the crowd, pushes Balor off the top and sets up the opportunity for Gargano to hit the Final Beat for the W. This could have been better, but as is was a good tease for what could come.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
After the match, Lumis takes out Priest and Edge hits a huge Spear on Balor in the ring.
Saxton catches up with Edge backstage, who calls out Balor to meet him in the ring with out JD.
Piper Niven vs. Nikki Cross
Before the match starts, we learn that Candace LeRae was injured last week.
Cross attacks before either Superstar gets their jacket off.
Once the bell rings, Cross gets more wild attacks to counter Niven’s size and strength. Black Hole Slam quickly ends this one though.
Winner: Piper Niven
Backstage, Rick Boogz is talking with a roadie until Elias comes ’round. End result is Elias vs. Bronson Reed next week. Elias, understandably, is mad at Boogz. Not a bad segment, not good either.
Becky G is announced as performing America the Beautiful for Night One of ‘Mania.
John Cena is out now for his 100th return. Mike Rome does the intro and actually does a better job than Justin Roberts.
Before Cena can even say a word, Austin Theory’s music hits and the US Champ strides out and challenges the legend to a United States Championship Match at ‘Mania.
Cena retorts with a no, to the shock of everyone, but he explains that Theory isn’t worthy of a match with him.
Cena then starts to tear into Theory much like he did Roman Reigns a few years ago, only even deeper if that was even possible. Theory looks like a total chump.
Theory starts to retort and does a better job than Reigns did all those years ago, calling Cena out for giving up and having no HLR. Theory isn’t quite at Cena’s level but this was very well done as a pushback. Cena gets his shots back in and again puts Theory in his place.
Cena then polls the crowd and we end up getting the match. Before he exits stage left, Cena introduces Cody Rhodes, for what seems like his only live spot of the night.
Segment of the night so far and with what’s left to come, it’s hard to imagine this will be topped.
Backstage, Cathy Kelley catches up with Sami Zayn. Impassioned words from the Montrealer.
Chad Gable vs. Baron Corbin
Another match to question whether Gable is a face or a heel.
Rollthrough German sets up for the Moonsault attempt but Corbin stands before the hit. Gable, however, lands on his feet but quickly eats a Chokebreaker. Soon after, Gable gets the Ankle Lock to get the tap for ANOTHER short match win. I guess there’s no time for action when you need to establish your WM matches stronger.
Winner: Chad Gable
Becky Lynch and Lita are out next and ultimately bring out Trish Stratus who is out to a remixed version of her theme song. The promo doesn’t go far before Damage Control comes out. End result – the rumoured six-woman tag match will be at ‘Mania.
Sami Zayn vs. Jimmy Uso
Strikes to start while we get the Ole Ole Ole chant from the crowd. Cut way early to commercial to halt the viewer momentum.
Supreme storytelling in the ring when we get back to it. Tornado DDT gets two for Zayn. Top Rope Crossbody also gets two. Uso gets the advantage and Zayn ends up on the outside. Sikoa, who was at ringside, threatens a Samoan Spike and gets tossed by referee Chad Patton. Amid the chaos, Zayn gets a Blue Thunder Bomb and gets two before ANOTHER break.
Back from break, the two battle atop the ropes. Zayn goes for… something… but eats a Superkick coming down. With both men down, Jey Uso hurries down from the crowd to the ring. He hops up on the announce table and seemingly supports Jimmy.
Reversals abound with Zayn ending up on top with a roll-up for the W.
Winner: Sami Zayn
Camera quickly flashes to Jey on the desk who looks conflicted as Jimmy looks bewhildred in the ring. All three wrestlers get some camera time as the night starts to close. Eventually, Jey comes off the table and into the ring to meet his brother. Zayn, perhaps stupidly, is standing in the aisleway.
The twins look at one another with Jey trying to comfort his brother and showing allegiance in his body but disgust on his face. He then walks away, not so subtly brushing his brother off. Jey then approaches Zayn, stares at him, then back to the ring at his brother. Zayn readies for anything then receives a hug from Jey. The two look fully aligned while Jimmy is heartbroken in the ring, knowing the fate that awaits him Friday. The crowd is eating this up, and actually bit before Jey Uso Superkicks the hell out of Zayn.
Zayn is tossed back into the ring and it’s an absolute unholy mugging as Sikoa joins the beatdown.
Cody Rhodes is then out in his suit and tie to save Zayn, and The Bloodline backs down to end the show.
Well, we knew Jey’s realignment with his brother was coming, but damn if this wasn’t as dramatic as we’ve seen from WWE in ages, and yes I count the Rumble turn on Zayn in this breath. This was executed perfectly in every sense, including the not-so-subtle moment of Rhodes coming out, and NOT Kevin Owens. As much as I loved the Cena/Theory moment earlier, the ending blew that segment out of the water.
We were short on action tonight but this may have been the best storytelling we’ve seen from WWE amid what has been a renaissance of late. The two aforementioned segments made the night, while a few others were decent. Only a couple true stinkers, no Wyatt oddness and tremendous ‘Mania build made this a great show. Catch a replay if you missed it the first time.
Until next time, stay classy.
TOP PHOTO: Jey Uso shows his loyalty to the Bloodline. Photo by George Tahinos, https://georgetahinos.smugmug.com