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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents - 10 Things I Liked in WWE This Week/MITB Predictions
By Dave Fenichel
Jun 16, 2017 - 8:47:41 AM

Hi kids.

I’m back with another edition of “10 Things I liked in WWE This Week”. There was quite a bit to choose from again this week, as both Raw and Smackdown put on solid shows. Money in the Bank is this week, so I’ll wrap up the column by giving you my quick pick predictions. Without further ado, here’s what I liked:

10. The Miz and Dean Ambrose are Thriving.

Once again, Dean and The Miz were given multiple segments over the course of Raw to tell their story, and once again they excelled in doing so. Dean had a very solid match with Elias Samson. I liked that they gave Elias the rub of beating Ambrose after The Miz distraction. It elevates him while continuing the storyline.

I also like the idea of an alliance between Heath Slater and the Miz. The Miz is the best talker in WWE and makes everyone around him better. Heath Slater is an underappreciated talent and would really benefit from being paired with The Miz. Although most likely a one episode storyline arc, I’d like to see them pursue it further. I thought the tag match was fun and the celebrity bear was a good way to continue to fuel the Miz’s paranoia regarding Dean. This has already been one of the best feuds of the year, and it still has plenty of legs.

9. Comedy Segments Work.

5 hours of television programming over the course of two days can be exhausting. Being able to make the audience laugh is key to ensuring that the product doesn’t drag. I really enjoyed the Titus/Tozawa antics this week. Tozawa himself is entertaining and everyone knows how I feel about Titus. I couldn’t help but crack a smile when Titus pulled an uncomfortable Tozawa out of the front row and put him on his shoulders to celebrate post-match.

The dueling backstage vignettes between Goldust and R Truth continue to be stellar. Goldust has really found himself with his new role, and R Truth is entertaining as always. You aren’t supposed to take either character seriously, and that’s ok. Comedic segments are a nice change of pace from the serious nature that the majority of the product tries to convey.

8. Smackdown’s Tag Division Gets a Boost.

The Smackdown tag division got its first major boost a few weeks ago when The New Day returned from Kofi Kingston’s injury. They received their second this week when Zack Ryder showed up to resume his pairing with Mojo Rawley. Mojo has been floundering since he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but this should give his character some much needed direction.

Smackdown needed more depth to their division, and I really like this pairing. Both men are loaded with charisma. I think they could very well be the next feud for The Usos after the New Day Shenanigans is complete. There is also potential to launch either man’s solo career with a heel turn. I’d be particularly intrigued to see Ryder turn heel. I think that he could play a cocky bad guy even better than he plays the goofy good guy. No matter where they decide to go with this storyline, The Smackdown tag division benefits.

7. The Enzo/Cass Storyline Has a Slow Burn.

I was immediately hooked by the “whodunit” nature of the Enzo/Cass storyline. It screamed of a long term angle that if booked properly, can have a major payoff down the road. The WWE took a step back with it this week, having the majority of the storyline take place in the ring. I thought that The Big Show coming down to make the save for Enzo when Cass couldn’t was an interesting piece of storytelling. It further fueled Cass’s resentment of The Big Show.

I liked the “less is more” philosophy this week. I was worried that they would rush this storyline along to satisfy the portion of the fan base that needs instant gratification. Instead, a slower progression in the storyline allows for more interest to be built. I like that we’re heading to a Big Cass v Big Show match. I’d love to see that take place at Great Balls of Fire, with the big storyline reveal being held off until Summerslam. This is looking more and more likely to occur. The slow burn of this angle is the type of booking that the WWE should try to emulate going forward. It benefits everyone involved.

6. Charlotte and Natalya Deliver.

Last week, I gave some love to the Raw women. This week, it’s the women of Smackdown’s turn. Charlotte and Natalya put on the best women’s match in months. I’m particularly excited about this because I think they are going to be the main feud in the division after Money in the Bank.

These two have amazing chemistry together, and it was nice to see a match between the women that wasn’t sloppy. Natalya took the loss, which further fuels my theory on Natalya being the favorite to win the Money in the Bank ladder match.

5. Samoa Joe is Booked as an Equal.

I didn’t love the opening segment to Raw this week. I thought they should have allowed a much crazier brawl than what they gave us. With that said, I love what it stood for. Far too often during his most recent run, Brock Lesnar has been booked to be completely unbeatable. His opponents on the other hand, have been presented in a manner that screams “look at this peasant, he has no chance”. Joe has been presented as a legitimate monster on equal footing.

The presentation is working. People are excited about this match. A large portion of our community is advocating for Joe to win and a rematch to headline Summerslam. I’m not sure that I’m willing to go that far with it, but I’m excited as well. This feels like a big time match, and Samoa Joe feels like a big time superstar as a result.

4. An Awesome Tag Team Main Event.

The Hardy Boys and Shesaro tore down the house to close out Raw this week. I loved everything about this match. It was Pay Per View quality. In fact, this was a better match than any of their previous two on two Pay Per View encounters.

I am a big fan of 2 out of 3 falls matches in general, and this was no exception. I thought the booking was clever. I don’t think I’ve seen a double count out end a match of this stipulation before. It was a creative way to deliver a top notch TV main event while building more interest in the upcoming PPV match between the two teams. I still think we’re getting a TLC match in the not so distant future. It could be match of the year caliber.

3. Unpredictability in the Male MITB Match.

Earlier in the week, I did a column where I ranked the MITB participants in order of their likelihood to win. Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura were far and away the three that I think have the best chance to win. Sure enough, all three were booked incredibly strong on Smackdown. Sami Zayn got the pin for his team, Corbin cleared the ring post-match, and Nakamura eventually stood tall with the briefcase in hand. As a general rule of thumb, the MITB winner doesn’t look strong on the go-home show.

So where does that leave us? I have no idea. Kevin Owens has been doing a lot of jobs as of late. I am starting to re-think my original rationale on why he wasn’t a favorite to win. While he doesn’t need the briefcase, it’d be an easy path back to the main event for him. I could see him being incredibly entertaining as the holder of the briefcase as well. No matter what, the uncertainty surrounding who will win adds to the intrigue of the match. I’m looking forward to this one.

2. Jinder Eats an RKO.

Orton and Jinder finally got physical this week on Smackdown. After several weeks of Jinder promos where he ran down Orton and America, Orton struck back and dropped him with an RKO. As someone that believes Jinder as world champion is a massive step in the right direction, I couldn’t be happier.

Jinder taking an RKO on the go-home edition of Smackdown all but ensures that he will retain the title this Sunday. He is being booked weak to ultimately look strong. Randy Orton as champion is a completely dead issue. Jinder as champion opens the door for feuds with the likes of AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura and John Cena. He’s the no brainer choice to remain champion, and I’m glad that the WWE seems to agree.

1. Roman Reigns’ Summerslam Announcement.

It’s not a secret that I am a huge fan of Roman Reigns. I’m interested in everything that he does, big or small. The fact that he will be making a “massive Summerslam announcement” on Raw has me particularly excited. I’ve been feeling like he could be the odd man out of a big match at Summerslam, but it appears that I’m wrong. My gut tells me that he’ll attempt to announce his intention to challenge the winner of Brock Lesnar v Samoa Joe at Summerslam, only to be interrupted by a returning Braun Strowmann. This will set up a #1 contender’s match between the two for Great Balls of Fire, a match surely to be won by Strowmann.

So why does this have me so excited as a fan of Roman Reigns? I’ve been doing some thinking. John Cena is not being called a “free agent” just by chance. The only reason to call him a free agent is to set up a Summerslam match against a Raw superstar. Reigns v Cena makes all the sense in the world. It’s a dream match, a Wrestlemania main event worthy encounter. The WWE has Brock v Reigns inked as the Wrestlemania 34 main event. They are looking to strike while the iron is hot and this showdown would still matter. As someone who will be in attendance at Summerslam, I couldn’t be more stoked about a double main event of Lesnar v Strowmann and Reigns v Cena. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Quick Picks for MITB:

Women’s MITB Ladder Match – Natalya wins. A heel has to win and she’s the only viable heel of the three in the match.

Naomi v Lana – Naomi wins by DQ. Lana isn’t going to be jobbing in her first match, but I don’t see her winning the title either. I think she’ll beat Naomi down, leading to Natalya cashing in her briefcase on the same night she wins it.

The Usos v The New Day – This is a tough one to call. I’m leaning towards The Usos. I think they are just starting to find their footing with their new characters. It would be better for the New Day to chase the belts for a little while, and there are more options for face teams to feud with the Usos than heel teams to feud with The New Day.

Male MITB Ladder Match – I could flip a coin on this one. I’m actually going to change my pick from my previous column and go with Baron Corbin. I think he’ll hold the briefcase for a while and continue to be built up in the meantime. I’m not certain that it’s the right decision, but I think it’s the likely one.
Jinder Mahal v Randy Orton – INDIA NUMBER ONE! INDIA NUMBER ONE! #donthinderJinder

That’s a wrap. What did you like in wrestling this week? What on my list did you hate? What are your MITB predictions? Sound off below!

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