The Linus Report: Asuka’s Gonna Kill You (This Week In WWE)

Apologies for the slight lateness of this week’s This Week In WWE – sometimes life gives you lemons and you have to smash those lemons into juicy, bitter pulp and that gets in the way of being able to write snark about professional wrestling. Now where were we..?

Oh, yes, the DEMON KANE had returned, right at the end of Night Of Champions, to fuck with Seth Rollins’s shit. On Raw, Kane appeared to be back to his pleasant, corporate self, all smiles, and making matches like he never went away.

Confronted by Rollins about his actions the night before, Kane denied being at the pay-per-view, and for a moment I hoped they were going all the way with the split personality thing. They didn’t, but it’s still fun to see this unhinged monster. After Disappointed Dad Kane, Jekyll & Hyde Kane is the best Kane.

He jollied his way to putting Rollins up against John Cena, a re-match for the WWE United States title, and Rollins was NOT happy about that. Kane greeted his disappointment with a thumbs up and a hearty “good luck!” Aces.

Rollins stooged him out to The Authority, who seemed unable to prevent Kane doing his utmost to damage their champion (they do a pretty good job of it themselves, anyway) because he’d just signed a new contract. Stephanie was more concerned that Kane’s mask had gone missing and Kane told them that, if that were the case, they had a big problem. Jacobs, for all his faults, is KILLING this role.

Rollins had his re-match with Cena, and lost it clean to an AA – apparently clean finishes to finishers are a thing again now – and threw a post-match tantrum in the ring. Kane then appeared on the TitanTron and told Rollins he should watch out for challengers to his WWE World Heavyweight title because they might come from unexpected places. As he said this, the screen behind him turned red and the DEMON KANE burst up through the ring canvas and dragged Seth Rollins straight to hell…

Smackdown opened with Corporate Kane, happy and smiling and making matches again. Rollins came out to confront him about what he’d done on Raw but Kane nos-old it and made a main event of Rollins versus Dean Ambrose, in a non-title match.

Rollins lost that match, too, because Rollins loses every match now, when Kane ‘s appearance on the TitanTron distracted him enough to allow Ambrose to score a roll-up pin. Rollins ranted again after the match and told Kane he didn’t know who he was messing with. He promised payback was coming to Kane but quite what Rollins can do I don’t know, because Kane has that new contract, doesn’t he?

Someone else with a new contract, signing it in the ring at Full Sail University, is Asuka, which is the new name for joshi asskicker Kana. William Regal did the signing in the ring on the latest episode of NXT, and Asuka (pronounced “ass-kuh”) spoke in broken English to say how happy she was to be in NXT. Her welcome was interrupted by Dana Brooke & Emma, who came out to tell her she wasn’t wanted.

Slightly out of character, Asuka left the ring at their bidding but, as she reached the top of the ramp, she flashed them a look which said, “you do know I’m going to KILL you, right?” Judging from the look on their faces, they know it alright…

That one glance from Asuka said more than a whole “pipe bomb” promo by Paige on Raw, as Team PCB – as I’ve never called them – imploded after just a few weeks together. Paige, upset that she started the #DivasRevolution (I’d be careful about taking credit for that, love) but that Charlotte was the one who defeated Nikki Bella for the title, cut loose on her teammates in one of those, “ooh, is she shooting?” promos that just don’t work when we get to see so much of their “real” personalities anyway.

Paige claimed Charlotte was only where she was because of her dad – who was standing right next to her, for added emphasis – and that Becky Lynch was the least relevant person in the locker room. Well, she got that right, and I could imagine Heath Slater fist-pumping at losing that particular title.

That all led to a match between Charlotte and Brie Bella, where the gulf between the Bellas was exposed as ever-growing, and a telling off backstage for Paige from Natalya, who seems to be their mum now. Natalya told Paige that the only person standing in her way is herself – well, that and a few other things like not sounding like you’re drunk when you talk, not calling your moves so loud that Alan Kilby (ask your granddad) could hear them, and relying on push-up bras to do what Vince will mandate soon, anyway – and then had a match of her own, against Naomi. Which she lost. Welcome back, Natalya!

On Smackdown, Paige gave a faux apology and slapped Natalya, and if anyone knows anything it’s that you should never slap your old mum, so I’m predicting troubles ahead…

There were no such dramas on Total Divas this week, although it’s filmed months ago and totally made up so you can understand that. The girls went to Mexico, for a “holiday”, and the main story was Brie wanting to get drunk rather than embrace her Mexican heritage. Given that there’s a decent chance that the Bellas’ Mexican heritage is more Cortez than Quetzalcoatl, visiting Mayan ruins was probably in poor taste anyway.

While they were out there, they received the news that Dusty Rhodes had died, and for a brief moment the show became utterly compelling and convincingly real. Paige’s tale of being Dusty’s “girl with the dragon tattoo”, and seeing just how much this man meant to these girls, brought a tear to my eye. It was dusty, okay? And it was Dusty.

The one member of the Total Divas cast conspicuous by her absence on the Mexico trip was Eva Marie, and that’s because everybody hates her. They’re not alone, the whole of Full Sail hates her, too, and the clever, clever people at NXT have woven this into an angle whereby she’s getting favours from the referees because, I don’t know, she’s pretty or something.

She fought Carmella again on this week’s show, to chants of “All Botch Everything” and “Super Dragon” from the NXT fans, and was thoroughly rotten once more on her way to another victory. If she’s doing this on purpose, she’s a fucking genius.

Talking of botching, the cursed mantle that is Sin Cara pulled off another classic on Raw this week, and then used it to good storytelling effect, which is the difference between him and your average shitarse. To be fair to him, he botches things that I could never dream of being able to do in the first place, rather than drop toeholds or hip tosses. He teamed with Kalisto & Neville to see off The Ascension & Stardust in a sloppy contest (THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE!), and then they teamed again to take on the New Day on Smackdown.

The New Day are still in a wonderful purple patch, where every segment they grace with their presence is GOLD. On Raw they teamed with Rusev to take on Dolph Ziggler & The Dudley Boyz. On his march to being fed to John Cena, Rusev had crushed all three of The New Day, pre- that gimmick, and they tweeted that he’d had them over for a meal to apologise. Of course they did.

During the match, Xavier Woods played Rusev’s theme on the trombone, and the bad guys – the best guys, though, right? – won and celebrated in the ring. Rusev and Ziggler moved on to intrude on the Kevin Owens/The Ryback feud on Smackdown but The New Day weren’t done. As well as the match against Neville & The Lucha Dragons on Smackdown, they also found time to prank a geek backstage, and announce that they would be defending their WWE World Tag-Team titles against The Dudley Boyz at Madison Square Garden, live on the WWE Network on October 4th. The Prime Time Players also reminded everyone they’re still alive, by telling The Dudley Boyz that when they’re through with The New Day, they’ll be waiting for them. Imagine that.

The tag-team scene is still very much the thing on NXT and that new geek Kyle Edwards did another of his sports desk thingies in bringing us the latest news from the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic. They showed footage from a house show, where Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson upset the NXT Tag-Team champions The Vaudevillains to progress to the semi-finals of the tournament, the thin end of that tiny, tiny brackets graphic. We also got promos from Enzo Amore & Big Cass, and Finn Balor & Samoa Joe, who will face off next week for a place in the semi-finals.

Enzo said a bunch of stuff that I didn’t understand, but said it well, and the Balor/Joe promo was notable for one small moment when Joe slapped Balor on the shoulder and left his hand lingering on Balor’s NXT Heavyweight title belt a little too long. Oooooh!

The Hype Bros (yes!) and Jason Jordan & Chad Gable also cut talkies on each other, and the main event of the show was an NXT Tag-Team titles re-match between The Vaudevillains and Blake & Murphy. The champs retained, but only after Blue Pants made another appearance to run off Alexa Bliss. (Look for an interview with Leva “Blue Pants” Bates in our next issue!– editor’s note).

Some people have suggested that the Blue Pants gimmick has run its course (they’re wrong) but one gimmick that definitely has reached its sell-by-date is Bo Dallas. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of Lardy Bo Action, especially on Superstars & Main Event, his natural home, but you can’t help but feel he’s capable of so much more. He made it to the main shows this week, losing to The Ryback on Raw, and Cesaro on Smackdown, which is progress of a sort but only in the way that slipping on dog shit moves you forward a little.

Kevin Owens joined the announcers on commentary for the Dalls versus The Ryback match, and attacked his nemesis after the match, before The Ryback got the better of things. They clashed again on Smackdown, when Owens teamed with Rusev and The Ryback teamed with Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler & The Ryback (hey, remember when they were a tag-team for about three minutes, complete with matching gear?) won when Owens walked out on Rusev, and this is all apparently sowing the seeds of a four-way at Hell In A Cell. At least the Lana/Summer Rae bullshit took a back seat this week.

So, skipping back a paragraph, you’ll notice that Cesaro beat Bo Dallas on Smackdown, which is only fair because he jobbed again to The Big Show on Raw. They’re on this insane mission to make The Big Show strong and relevant and, well, not shit, before he takes on Brock Lesnar on the WWE Network MSG special, but it’s a pointless and thankless task. We know what The Big Show is and the only reason we’re watching that show is in the hope that we’ll see Lesnar end his career. But they will do what they will do, and he hit Cesaro with the knockout punch and then called Lesnar a “vanilla gorilla”, which sounds like something a Black Power activist would have called “the man” forty years ago.

Remember that Sheamus guy? You know, the Irish fella who won the Money In The Bank briefcase? Stupid hair? Bad everything? Well, he popped up on Raw to remind us all who he was, and beat Mark Henry because, well, I guess they were in Texas and it’s local for Henry. He also wrestled in the main event on Main Event, which is something I suppose, and beat Jack Swagger. This is a man three seconds away from being WWE World Heavyweight champion. Well, assuming he can ever convince a referee to ring the bell, that is, something he seems spectacularly bad at doing.

The man Sheamus beat to the briefcase – and the man who made that possible – continued their (seemingly eternal) feud on both shows this week. Raw opened with a Bray Wyatt talky, which at least makes a difference from a terrible Seth Rollins promo, and that brought out Roman Reigns, who challenged Wyatt to a one-on-one, a “straightener” in the parlance of football hooligans (street, me). Wyatt whispered to his goons and they left, and Wyatt & Reigns had a FIGHT. Not a match, a FIGHT.

Reigns got the upper hand and this was the cue for Luke Harper & Braun Strowman to return, which also brought out Dean Ambrose. The greater numbers told until Randy Orton intervened, and it’s all heading for a six-man at Hell In A Cell, I presume. Before that, though, Reigns and Harper fought on Smackdown, with everyone else banned from ringside (and Orton, who doesn’t work Tuesdays, banned from leaving his sofa), and Reigns got a quick win. Sucks to be a goon.

With Hell In A Cell weeks away, and the WWE Network special a one-match deal at the moment, things are building very, very slowly in WWE right now. But next week should kick things up a gear – and it’s the season finale of Total Divas – with go-home shows for the MSG special and NXT Takeover: Respect, and I might get round to watching Superstars for the first time in a couple of weeks, because God knows I can’t get enough of R-Truth versus Heath Slater.

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