WWE is two weeks away from Extreme Rules on July 19 and the climb toward the pay-per-view continued last week on Raw and SmackDown on FOX.
SmackDown women’s champion and women’s tag team champions Bayley and Sasha Banks continued their ascension on both brands and each have a title match against Nikki Cross and Raw women’s champion, Asuka, on July 19. The two friends are arguably the most dominant superstars in WWE currently.
Here are some of the other headlines from last week’s shows.
Champions versus challengers match main event Raw
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre and Raw Women’s Champion Asuka held a double contract signing with their challengers Dolph Ziggler and Sasha Banks. Raw opened with Banks and Asuka already fighting and Samoa Joe attempting to settle the two. The chaos in the opening segment resulted in a mixed tag team match where the two champions took on their challengers in the main event. Asuka held Banks in the Asuka Lock, but Banks turned it into a pin and earned the challengers a shocking victory over arguably the two leaders of the red brand.
Matt Riddle is on the rise
The “Original King of Bros” was interviewed by Michael Cole in the opening segment of SmackDown on FOX. Riddle, who knocked off Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles in his debut match on the blue brand two weeks ago, told the story of why he wrestled barefoot. King Corbin sort of crashed the interview and avenged Riddle attacking him post-match in the week prior by bringing out John Morrison to contest the rookie. Riddle and Morrison displayed great ring chemistry, and although Corbin distracted Riddle near the end, the Bro pinned Morrison to win. Riddle was attacked by Styles post-match, which seems to point to a future feud with The Phenomenal One.
Andrade and Garza appear to be next tag team contenders as they have a run-in with Big Show
Big Show interrupted Zelina Vega, Andrade, and Angel Garza’s backstage interview to let them know he would be taking the ring following the contract signing. Big Show took to the ring to call out Randy Orton, and Andrade and Garza intervened. The Viking Raiders entered the arena to turn it into a tag team match. Garza hit a Wing Clipper to defeat The Viking Raiders and raise their names on the Raw Tag Team Championship contenders rankings. Later in the show, Big Show took on Andrade and Garza in a two-on-one handicap match where The Giant emerged victorious by chokeslamming Andrade after Garza walked away from the ring. There is tension between Andrade and Garza but the two have shown they can put it together if they put their egos aside. Perhaps when the pair do get a title shot, their egos may cost them and the duo split.
Dolph Ziggler to choose stipulation for match with Drew McIntyre
McIntyre and Ziggler signed their contract, and The Showoff pestered the champion with reasons as to why Ziggler propped up McIntyre’s WWE career. As the feud between the two has built in recent weeks, Ziggler has staked the claim that without his efforts, McIntyre would not be in his current position. The WWE champion answered Ziggler by allowing his challenger to pick the stipulation for their match at Extreme Rules on July 19. Ziggler did not reveal his choice during Raw, and it will be interesting to see how long he holds out his decision.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro enter tag team title conversation
Nakamura and Cesaro have formed a duo of talented wrestlers who haven’t seen much opportunity since Sami Zayn vacated the IC title. Kofi Kingston and Nakamura fought in a singles match and traded near falls, but Nakamura hit the Kinshasa to defeat one-half of the SmackDown Tag Team champions. Nakamura has proven over the last several years that he is a talented competitor, winning the 2018 Royal Rumble and carrying a feud with Styles for the WWE Championship. The New Day need to compete more in singles matches to remind the locker room of Kingston and Big E’s talent instead of subjecting them strictly to other tag teams where match finishes can be anticlimactic, to say the least. Nakamura and Cesaro provide a somewhat fresh team in the fray of SmackDown tag teams.
R-Truth wins 24/7 title (again)
Akira Tozawa has taken a new persona as the leader of the group of ninjas that burst into WWE around Backlash. Tozawa even boosted his stock by defeating R-Truth to become 24/7 Champion not too long ago. This title change could have resulted in the title taking a different spotlight than it has after Rob Gronkowski held the belt for several months. However, R-Truth rolled up Tozawa in order to recapture the 24/7 Championship once again.
Sheamus toasts Jeff Hardy on SmackDown
Jeff Hardy has closed the show for the last two weeks as he defeated King Corbin in a tribute to The Undertaker and then in a segment with Sheamus, who honestly has had Hardy’s number as of late. The Celtic Warrior hosted a toast to Hardy’s lifestyle. Bottles of alcohol and drinks filled a table and Hardy was offered a glass but instead poured it on the barista and hit a Swanton Bomb. As Hardy builds momentum to likely another match with Sheamus, The Celtic Warrior still holds the advantage as he defeated Hardy at Backlash. WWE has two more weeks to build this feud and provide an interesting stipulation to a match at Extreme Rules.