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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents - 10 Things I Liked in WWE This Week - Complete with GBAF Predictions
By Dave Fenichel
Jul 7, 2017 - 2:39:14 PM

Hi Kids. I’m back with another edition of “10 Things I Liked in the WWE This Week”. Both Raw and Smackdown were fantastic shows. This was an easy week for me, with my biggest issue being which enjoyable matches and/or segments would not make the cut.

We’re only a couple of days away from Great Balls of Fire. I’m beyond excited for this one, despite the historically terrible name. On paper, it looks like the show of the year. I will wrap up by giving you my quick picks for each match.

Question of the Day: What match on the Great Balls of Fire card are you looking forward to the most?

Without further ado, here’s what I liked:

10. Smackdown Leads With its Best Foot Forward.

Smackdown lost the majority of their compelling characters in the roster shake up a couple months back. With such a gaping weakness in that regard, they need to play to their strengths. The biggest strength of the blue brand is the overwhelming in ring wrestling talent that they possess.

Smackdown did a great job of letting that talent do what they do best this week. A.J. Styles is without question the best in-ring worker on the roster. He had an amazing match with Chad Gable. Gable gained more in one match than he did during the rest of his tenure on the Smackdown roster. On top of that, the Battle Royal was simply spectacular. A.J. was the obvious winner, but his performance was unbelievable. Smackdown is a wrestling show and the wrestling was superb this week.

9. A New Wrinkle to the Goldust/R Truth Saga.

The Goldust/R Truth storyline might be the most underrated feud of the entire year. They have done a tremendous job of bringing a high entertainment factor to every backstage vignette that they have been involved in. Without a spot on the Great Balls of Fire card, I was concerned that the angle would be put on the back burner this week.

My fears were unfounded. Goldust debuted his own version of a talk show in the ring this week. I thought this was a nice change of pace from the backstage shenanigans. I liked that R Truth was able to get his heat back by attacking Goldie. There is a real estate issue on Raw. Not only are they not on the Great Balls of Fire card, but it’s hard to imagine that they will earn a spot on the Summerslam card either. Here’s to hoping that this feud gets the blow off that it deserves.

8. A Compelling Angle to End Raw.

I could cut this portion of my column short by saying “Roman Reigns and Braun Strowmann were awesome again this week”. It’s the truth. They have delivered each and every week. Anything that occurs between the two of them is can’t miss television for me. I may sound like a broken record, but it’s because they deserve all of the praise that I am giving to them.

First off, a quick shout out to my dude Titus O’Neill for showing up in the main event of Raw. It’s only a matter of time until he’s headlining Wrestlemania #thetitusbrand. Anyway, the sheer physicality of the Roman/Braun feud has been as intense and as well done as any feud in recent memory. I thought Roman spearing Braun through the boxes was another awesome spot in a feud filled with awesome spots. I’m looking forward to this match as much as any other on the card.

7. Breezango Continues to Provide Comic Relief.

Breezango is successful because they know exactly who they are. They are never going to be a main event act. They are unlikely to be more than surprise short term winners of any tag titles. They are an undercard comedy act and proceed accordingly.

They were stellar again this week on Smackdown. Tyler Breeze really does look like Renee Young. The resemblance is uncanny. Renee is smoking hot, but I’m not sure that being her doppelganger is something that I’d hang my hat on if I was Prince Pretty. Nonetheless, his impression was hilarious and provided me with the laughter I yearn for on a weekly basis. I look forward to everything that Breezango does every week.

6. On the Go-Home Show, Less is More.

The Brock Lesnar/Samoa Joe feud has benefitted tremendously from Lesnar deciding to show up for work every week. This has allowed the WWE to have tremendous physical encounters between the two. Because Brock’s appeal is his physical prowess and because Samoa Joe needed to be booked like the badass that he’s supposed to be, this angle was been incredibly successful as a result.

The WWE has done such a fantastic job of building anticipation of the clash between the two titans. They made an excellent choice this week to pull back a bit. We’re only days away from the showdown, so an interview and a tease of another physical confrontation were just enough to wet my appetite. Make no mistake about it – Brock Lesnar v Samoa Joe is one of the most anticipated matches of the year. I cannot wait for it to go down on Sunday.

5. Heath Slater Shines.

If you had told me in the Summer of 2012 that Heath Slater would be the last man standing from The Nexus, I would have thought you had lost your mind. Nonetheless, here we are. It’s 2017 and Heath Slater has continued to succeed in every role that he’s been given. Seriously, he’s been saddled with some pretty terrible gimmicks, but he’s made it work every single time.

He’s interesting and he’s relatable. I loved that he was given a one on one match with The Miz this week. The match itself was excellent. Heath Slater has more than paid his dues and I’d love to see him get a run as Intercontinental Champion. Perhaps this week was a sign of things to come for him. After all, his kids are counting on him.

4. A Surprise Stipulation for the Tag Division.

The Raw tag division isn’t particularly deep these days. Enzo and Cass are broken up, The Bullet Club are going nowhere fast, and The Revival are just getting healthy again. Lucky for us, we’ve been treated to an amazing title feud between The Hardy Boys and Shesaro. It seems like they have been feuding forever, and I’m ok with that.

The WWE dropped a bomb on us this week when they made their encounter at GBAF a 30 Minute Iron Man match. Listen booger eaters, I don’t want to hear a single word about how Iron Man Matches are supposed to be 60 minutes. I’d rather slit my wrists and watch them bleed out than have to sit through another hour long wrestling match. I can’t remember a tag match of this gimmick taking place before. I’m all about seeing something that I haven’t in the past. This was a nice surprise by the WWE. They added more intrigue to an already unbelievable card.

3. John Cena – Not the Only Surprise Return.

John Cena made his anticipated return to Smackdown this week. He was awesome. This should be a surprise to no one. He’s the best to ever do it. The big surprise for me was that Rusev made his return to kick off a feud with him. I’ve always enjoyed Rusev’s work. As a foreign heel, you’d expect him to be typecast. Instead, he comes off as sarcastic, funny and well rounded. I think there’s a main eventer waiting to happen with him.

The storyline used to bring him back was interesting to me. He’s unhappy that Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon didn’t promote his return the way they promoted Cena’s. A few months back, there were rumors of a match between Rusev and Shane at Summerslam. The rumors seemed crazy then, but I can see it happening now. Rusev is doing the job to Cena. That’s not in question. I could easily see him snapping as a result of his perceived slight, attacking Shane, and kicking off that feud. I think this would be a MASSIVE spot on the second biggest show of the year for Rusev, and a potentially career making storyline.

2. Enzo Won’t Be Marty Jannetty.

The split between Enzo and Cass was inevitable. We all saw it coming. The writing appeared to be on the wall for both men. Big Cass was going to sky rocket to superstardom, and Enzo was going to fade away.

Enzo’s amazing promo this week once again showed that he’s not going anywhere. He’s shattered the previous perception that fans had of him. He is not a one trick comedic pony. He has the mic skills of a main eventer. He has been given an opportunity to shine, and he’s hit it out of the park week after week. Big Cass is going to be a big star. We all know that. Here’s the deal. Enzo Amore is going to be a big star too.

1. “For The Culture”.

Full credit goes to Rich Latta on this one. He wrote an amazing column on The Rap Battle between The Usos and The New Day. It’s posted in the LOP forums and you should absolutely go check it out if you haven’t already done so. He hit the nail on the head. This was not a cheesy John Cena rap battle. This was a rap battle the way rap battles are supposed to occur. The WWE spoke to their African American audience in a way they rarely, if ever, do.

From the realness of the raps to Wale’s amazing commentary, this entire segment was a home run. I applaud the WWE for going out on a limb and finally catering to a portion of their fan base that largely gets ignored. Without question, the Rap Battle between The Usos and the New Day was the best thing on either program this week.

Quick Great Balls of Fire Predictions:

The MIz defeats Dean Ambrose – He’ll get help from The Miztourage and Ambrose will recruit “friends” for a Summerslam 6 man tag.

Big Cass v Enzo Amore ends in a no contest – I expect Cass to injure Enzo and the match to be stopped. We should see a rematch in Brooklyn at Summerslam.

Alexa Bliss defeats Sasha Banks – The money feud is still Alexa Bliss against Nia Jaxx. Sasha is just a placeholder for a month.

Neville defeats Akira Tozawa – I’m loving the storyline here, but Neville is dropping the strap.

Seth Rollins defeats Bray Wyatt – Bray is a jobber to the stars. This feud hasn’t been my thing but I think the WWE will want to keep Rollins looking strong.

Shesaro and The Hardys fight to a draw – The 30 minute Iron Man stipulation is perfect for a non-finish. We’re getting TLC as the blow off for Summerslam. This gets us there.

Roman Reigns defeats Braun Strowmann – I’ve flip-flopped on this one. I think the WWE is pulling the trigger on Reigns v Lesnar at Summerslam, so Reigns has to go over here.

Brock Lesnar defeats Samoa Joe – The feud has been amazing and I think Joe has earned the right for a competitive match here. Who are we kidding though? Lesnar is moving onto bigger and better things.

That’s a wrap kids. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to check out my countdown series where I rank the Summerslam Main Events. I think you’ll enjoy it. I can be reached via Facebook at David Fenichel or on Twitter @FFFightLeague. Sound off below!

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