Braun Strowman wants that Universal Championship, folks. And I don’t think a measly Tag Team Championship will keep him from going after what he wants.

Seth Rollins made the save this week after the OC made it quite clear that they had no intentions of fighting Strowman fairly. They were putting boots to the Monster when Rollins ran them off and offered Braun his hand. Braun took it, but not without holding the grip when Rollins tried to break away.

Gotta let the man know, you know? After all, Rollins has what he wants.

Rollins knows this, of course, and was quick to try to placate Strowman. “Hey man, I respect you! I hope you get the next Universal Championship match!”

…And that’s where the ol’ “but” comes into play. Rollins wanted help settling his issues with the OC once and for all. And to that end, Rollins got them both a tag team title match to end the show.

Again, Braun took it. But not without a look at the championship he really covets. Rollins’ words of focusing and following his lead fell on deaf ears.

This was extremely interesting to me, because it’s a diversion from how Strowman usually acts. When someone tells him to follow, he has always been quick to establish his dominance in the past. Hell, plenty of his past feuds have revolved around dominance and who has the most testosterone.

This time? He told Rollins off for asking him to follow, but it was all a secondary concern. For once, cares more about the Universal Championship than the out-manning his rivals.

And that, perhaps, will be all the difference. He went on to win the tag team titles with Rollins’s help…and he’s still looking at the Universal Championship. He intentionally raised Rollins’s hand that held the Universal Championship to close the show.

And just like that, they’ve got me. This Strowman vs. Rollins feud has tons of promise.


Dream Killer

I criticized the Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston match at SummerSlam for being too slow and lacking the emotion to really make it memorable. And subsequently I asked for the old, sadistic Randy Orton to make an appearance.

Well, uh…we got that. And it rocked.

The New Day was scheduled for a match with the Revival because they’ve been squabbling in the background of the Kofi/Randy feud. And while it was a pretty fun match, it was all a setup for Orton swooping in to cause a disqualification by hitting Big E with an RKO.

The Revival staggered into the ring laughing like idiots, which makes it feel like this was all planned. The snakeskin boots they were wearing also points to that. And that fact is relevant considering what they did next.

They snapped Xavier Woods’ leg in half while forcing Kingston to watch on helplessly. You know, no big deal.

That’s exactly what this feud needed. It needed a spark of energy from some place, and that generally comes from the antagonist. And with Orton’s reputation, it had to be him. I’m glad he didn’t disappoint whatsoever.

The only thing that I disliked was how quickly this transitioned into an ad for something else on the show. Other than that, it was precisely what the feud needed.


Goaded into Greatness

Sasha Banks returned last week to assault Natalya and Becky Lynch. And on this show, we heard from all three women.

Lynch was first and killed it by setting up this feud. She called Banks the greatest superstar on the roster to never be great and expressed frustration with doing all the heavy lifting, here. The true greats, she claimed, don’t have to be goaded into greatness.

Damn, what a line.

Banks was next, interviewed backstage after Jerry Lawler’s run-in with the Fiend threw off the King’s Court segment that was scheduled. She feigned compassion and a desire to express her feelings before claiming that blue was definitely her color and that she feels even better than she looks.

Michael Cole, the interviewer, was properly agitated by that non-answer. He lectured Banks a bit, actually, before sarcastically saying that he’s thank her for answering his questions. Banks rolled her eyes before leaning forward, snapping back with a “you’re welcome,” and ripping the microphone from her shirt.

Natalya was last, expressing frustration and sadness for what Banks did to her before Banks blindsided her once again. And in true Banks form, she dropped a hell of a one-liner: “Go to hell, Nattie. And tell your dad I said hi.”

Damn. If only Lynch could goad everyone into greatness.


The Rest

Former Kings of the Ring weigh in – I like this! This is a better way to promote a tournament than countless video packages and canned phrases. I mean we still got plenty of those, but still.

This was an ongoing portion of the show to make the King of the Ring tournament feel more significant, and it definitely worked for me. Jerry Lawler and Booker T picked some favorites in the tournament; Drew McIntyre was a popular name.

King of the Ring, Round 1: Samoa Joe def. Cesaro – The fun, physical match that you’d expect from these two. Cesaro couldn’t swing Joe much, but the fact that he could swing him at all is awe-inspiring.

Joe won via the Coquina Clutch.

King of the Ring, Round 1: Cedric Alexander def. Sami Zayn – I wish this had stood out to me more than it did.

The match was fine, but that in itself a bit of a disappointment to be honest. Zayn’s been a punching bag for quite a while now, which is less than ideal. Hopefully he gets something moving forward. As for Cedric, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a run to the semifinals – or perhaps even further.

You cannot escape The Fiend – Hahaha this was awesome.

Jerry Lawler was waxing on about the King of the Ring tournament when the lights started to sputter out. As any intelligent person would, he tried to high-tail it out of the arena…but of course, there’s no escaping The Fiend.

Bray Wyatt cut him off on the ramp and shoved his hand down another victim’s throat.

Roman Reigns def. Dolph Ziggler – This was a great opening match! Ziggler’s been really entertaining with his stuff lately, and using his whining to get close enough to Superkick Reigns was neat. He went back to his “it should have been me” line from the Kingston feud, which makes more sense under the narrative set up in his match with Reigns. Yeah, it COULD be him if he’d ever put his nose to the grindstone and stop moping.

Also, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t a fan of a Reigns segment. That’s pretty wild.

Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross def. Fire and Desire – The champs are out here actually competing in matches! That’s awesome! Fire and Desire looked good here, but the face champions are getting busy tallying a few wins – which, of course, makes sense.

Ricochet and The Miz def. Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin – A nice little preview of two singles matches we’ll get next week. This was set up to make Ricochet look like the star, which makes sense, right? Either he or McIntyre seem like they’ll be making a deep run, and Ricochet looking good before that match helps both of them.

Elias almost got got – C’mon man. You’re the 24/7 Champion, and you’re willingly getting into the ring? We stopped calling Elias The Drifter somewhere along the way, but his brain sure as hell drifted here.

Also, R-Truth getting a ref to dress as stage crew is hilarious.

Dominic begs his father Rey Mysterio not to retire – Man, I’m already booking Mysterio turning heel on his son a year from now in my head.

Rey was pretty awesome during this in terms of showing emotion, but I do find it odd that Rey Mysterio retiring was set up to be some throwaway backstage segment. If he were legitimately retiring, it’d be a massive in-ring thing.

It’s probably due to the straight-forwardness of the segment and to shelter Dominic a bit, though. And to that end, it was probably wise. I could see myself digging this story moving forward.

Angelo Dawkins is the IWC – You had Cesaro going all the way, fam? I feel that, but go ahead and tear that bracket up.

Montez Ford’s sly look when he explained why there isn’t a tag team Kings of the Ring was great, too.


Really good episode. Really, really good episode. The King of the Ring tournament helped to give the whole show structure and the big storylines all delivered. That’s a winning recipe at any time of the year.

Vic Joseph was awesome on commentary, by the way. I want to give him a shout out for doing a great job once Lawler bowed out.

Grade: A

The King of the Ring tournament did wonders for this show, in my estimation. That bodes well of the shows leading to Clash of Champions.

What do you think, Cageside?

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