The Post’s Joseph Staszewski brings you around the world of professional wrestling every Tuesday in his weekly column, the Post Match Angle.
Logan Paul’s knee injury means WWE will likely need someone else to lead its Survivor Series plans against The Bloodline — and there is one clear choice.
WWE appeared headed toward a layup for it’s men’s WarGames match in Boston on Nov. 26 as Paul wrestled a stellar match with Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns in the main event of Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Logan’s brother Jake, with his own entrance video and music, also got involved along with the rest of the Paul brothers’ entourage. There was a clear beef between them and The Bloodline, and Logan’s performance and top-rope selfie video generated buzz. It felt like a scene out of “Rocky” as Reigns said, “I don’t want to see him again.” It echoed Apollo Creed saying, “There will be no rematch” after Rocky took him the distance in the iconic film.
Any plans WWE may have had for Reigns and Paul must change now after the YouTube star revealed he tore his meniscus, MCL and maybe his ACL halfway through the match. That’s anywhere from three to nine months on the shelf depending on the severity. So if WWE was planning some sort of Bloodline vs. Team Paul WarGames match at Survivor Series, which feels like the only clear story they were telling right now, it will need to be rejiggered. That is unless Jake Paul has any last-minute interest in defending his brother’s honor, but he probably wouldn’t have enough time to get ready. The Bloodline — which may also need to deal with a potential Jey Uso wrist injury — is on the Survivor Series poster, so there is little wiggle room to not have them in the main-event match.
So who do you turn to? Kevin Owens, of course.
Owens has enough history with Reigns (see the botch in their Last Man Standing Match at the 2021 Royal Rumble that cost him the Universal championship) and with Sami Zayn to craft a story for WarGames and maybe a future world title match with no clear challenger presently for the Tribal Chief. Owens has even participated in a WarGames match in 2019 in NXT.
He will need a five-man team to face The Bloodline. Here’s what I would do, with one team if Jake Paul is in and one if he is not: Kevin Owens, Riddle, Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. Every single one of those guys has history with Reigns or The Bloodline, some recent, some in the past and Riddle could eat the pin since he is currently only in a loose storyline with Elias.
The women’s side keeps getting clearer with the match announce on Monday. You have Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss and Asuka on one side and Bayley, Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai and Nikki Cross on the other. Candice LeRae is an obviously candidate for the babyface team along with Dana Brooke after Cross just beat her for the 24/7 title. That is unless WWE has bigger surprises in store. Maybe a Sonya Deville or a returning Chelsea Green get added into heel team, but there is no clear front runner right now.
WWE just has minor details to fill in on the women’s side, but with Paul out, it needs a whole new story for the men. So The Bloodline’s past should come back to confront it centered around Owens. It’s why you have someone like him on the roster — to break glass in an emergency. And this feels like one worth doing so for.
Ain’t He Great
Jeff Jarrett’s wild year has landed him in AEW and it feels like that’s where he can have the biggest, ahem, impact. In 2022, the Hall of Famer has worked in GCW, WWE and Ric Flair’s Last Match before his stunning debut in AEW on Wednesday, delivering a guitar shot to Darby Allin before putting the whole company on notice. For his on-camera role, the 55-year-old Jarrett proved in Flair’s final match he can still go and get plenty of heat on the mic. He will be a great asset to showcasing young talent such as Allin and getting to tell some great stories with old nemeses such as Sting. (Though I wish AEW hadn’t wasted the Fake Sting ploy with Cole Karter of all people.) His new Last Outlaw gimmick was probably never going to see the light of day in WWE had it kept him around and is much more appealing than continuing to ride Double J there.
Though it is his behind-the-scenes role in AEW where his presence could be more meaningful. Tony Khan announced Jarrett was also hired as director of business development as the company looks to expand its live events calendar. It feels similar to the senior vice president of live events job he departed in August after just three months once Triple H rose to power.
Jarrett joining AEW also comes at a time where some feel Khan would benefit from having a sounding board of someone who’s been a promotor/booker before and the locker room is in need of more veteran leadership. Jarrett can give them both if called upon. Being a wrestling promotor is in his blood and there isn’t much in the business he hasn’t done or seen.
Did I Hear That Right?
Thought Michael Cole and Wade Barrett did an excellent job calling Crown Jewel. Cole being allowed to be more natural and off the cuff has gone a long way. But if you listened closely, it was hard not notice a few unusual things. Cole actually said the words Bullet Club, New Japan and NEVER Openweight champion during The O.C.’s match against The Judgment Day thanks to Finn Balor, A.J. Styles and The Good Brothers. It comes with Wrestle Kingdom two months away and Karl Anderson just having to vacate that title after he was double-booked in Saudi Arabia in what played out publicly like a storyline. It’s worth watching if any WWE talent wrestles for New Japan in the near future or any New Japan performers show up at the Royal Rumble.
Sasha Banks also made her first appearance on WWE TV since her and Naomi walked out on Monday Night Raw in May. She and Naomi were both back in the WWE show open and Cole mentioned Banks by name when talking about her and Bianca Belair’s WrestleMania 38 match, something the EST had even previously avoided doing in interviews. Yet another thing to monitor going forward as Banks posted that she had recently been training with Juventud Guerrera. Banks was then not in the show open for Raw — but Ric Flair’s Whooooo! was back.
The 10 Count
Austin Theory’s failed and nonsensical Money in the Bank cash-in for the United States championship of all things was the single worst booking decision of the Triple H era so far. Please make it all make some sense now outside of undoing Vince McMahon’s poor creative.
Yes, Chris Jericho and AEW went there. A teary-eyed Colt Cabana, a longtime CM Punk nemesis that indirectly was the spark to his wild All Out press conference, was Jericho’s mystery opponent for the Ring of Honor World championship on Dynamite. It was Cabana’s first televised AEW match since Nov. 24, 2021. See it for what you will, but under the circumstance, it’s hard not to see it as a shot at Punk and a way to signal Punk really was keeping Cabana off AEW TV despite saying otherwise.
When you only have one women’s match on Dynamite, it’s really tough listening and watching Nyla Rose and Vikki Guerrero completely talk over Jade Cargill and Marina Shafir, making it impossible even for the live audience to concentrate on what’s going on in the ring. Please don’t do that again.
Ava Raine delivered a very, very impressive promo on NXT this week. She came off as confident and commanding attention, and Vic Joseph’s facials did an excellent job conveying she is someone to be respected. Excellent start for The Rock’s daughter.
Mike Tyson was excellent during his AEW commentary debut on Rampage for Orange Cassidy vs. Katsuyori Shibata. He called it like a true fight, had done his homework and was even calling out moves. A shame we only got him for one match after all AEW did to promote his appearance at Boardwalk Hall. More Mike please.
Considering MJF is likely going be champion, you can’t go wrong with Ricky Starks vs. Eddie Kingston in the final of the No. 1 contenders tournament. If not, I’d do Ethan Page of The Firm vs. Starks. Ricky really needs to win it or come close in the final. AEW needs to reignite his momentum.
Nikki Cross won the 24/7 championship from Dana Brooke then tried to mindlessly throw it in the trash before missing the pail. Pretty much was the perfect way to say goodbye to the failed experiment of a title.
Mia Yim returning to join The O.C. as the equalizer to Rhea Ripley and not Beth Phoenix was well done and a pleasant surprise on Raw. Yim feels like she fits with the group, will get a great rub from them and feels like a worthy foil for Ripley. WWE also teased Ripley vs. Bianca Belair to make sure we don’t forget about that money match in the future.
Nick Aldis and the National Wrestling Alliance have done so much good together, both raising each other’s profiles in the process. It really is a shame their relationship is ending so unceremoniously and in a somewhat bitter way. The former Worlds Heavyweight champion said on a new deleted Instagram video he’s given them his notice over comments NWA president Billy Corgan made about women’s wrestlers and the NWA saying he is suspended.
It took much longer than it needed to, but it was cool to see Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler as a team for the first time this week on SmackDown. A get well soon to Natalya who legitimately had her nose broken by Baszler.
Extra: In the heartwarming moment of the week, WWE’s Omos surprised his family in Nigeria with his first visit in 14 years on his way back from Saudi Arabia.
Wrestler of the Week
Gunther’s match with Rey Mysterio on SmackDown was as good, if not better, than we could have envisioned. They told an excellent big-man, little-man story. WWE has begun calling the Intercontinental championship the “working man’s championship” again and Gunther has completely lived up to that since becoming champion back in June. That’s included SmackDown main events again Shinsuke Nakamura, Sheamus and now Mysterio. Gunther’s matches have become must-watch and this week’s, even taped, was certainly the case.
Match to Watch
The Usos vs. The New Day, WWE Undisputed tag team championships on SmackDown (Friday, Fox, 8 p.m.)
Jimmy and Jey Uso are on the cusp of breaking the record for the longest tag team title reign in WWE history and their longtime rivals and current record-holders at 483 days will get a chance to stand in their way. These four have had unreal chemistry in the ring before and have a great story to tell that they laid out so well during a promo on “Monday Night Raw.”
Around the Ring
- WWE announced during it’s third-quarter earnings call that the investigation into Vince McMahon has concluded, costing $19.4 million.
- WWE said it will hold “The Search for Africa’s Next WWE Superstar.” It will host a multi-day tryout in Lagos, Nigeria in February 2023 open to citizens of any African country.
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling unveiled the IWGP women’s championship on Monday. A match between Mayu Iwatani and KAIRI (previously Kairi Sane from WWE) will determine the inaugural champion at the NJPW x Stardom Historic X-Over show on Nov. 20.
- Bianca Belair and Montez Ford will have a series focused on them coming to Hulu.