Last night saw the second episode of TNA Impact Wrestling under the new creative direction of Jeff Jarrett. As their YouTube video revealed earlier this week, the show had Alberto El Patron relinquishing his newly won World Heavyweight Championship back to Bobby Lashley. Vacant demands justice!
The show also saw the big return of LAX! The former-TNA faction, not the Los Angeles-based airport. Original founders Konnan – who had the brilliant line “we’re serious, like a late period” – and Homicide returned in the episode’s main event segment, bringing with them new members Diamante, Angel Ortiz and Mike Draztik. They took out Decay to position themselves at the top of the Tag Team Championship picture. The titles are currently up for grabs, being taken off of previous champions the Broken Hardys when they failed to resign with the company. Vacant receives justice!
The viewership figures for this week’s Raw and Smackdown episodes are in, with Monday night having practically no change at 3.23 million average, and Smackdown dropping over 100,000 viewers from last week to a 2.63 million average.
I think we all know the answer to these disappointing Road-to-Wrestlemania season numbers: no Rusev.
The latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter have confirmed that Rusev, after requiring the procedure for some time, underwent shoulder surgery on the 9th March – just several days after his WWE Fastlane match against the Big Show. This is why that match was so one-sided, and why his team with Jinder Mahal broken up so suddenly. He’s scheduled to be out of action for two months, meaning he’ll miss the ultimate thrill-ride Wrestlemania 33. Following Titus O’Neil’s similar squash loss to the Big Show on this week’s Raw, Rusev tweeted:
Maybe @TitusONeilWWE needs surgery as well!
— Rusev on the Roof (@RusevBUL) March 14, 2017
In the meantime, Lana will be heading to the Performance Center to wrestle on NXT shows.
Lana only does what she wants. It's my choice to train, to wrestle, to kick heads off on my days off. When the time is right #LanaCrush ????
— CJ (Lana) Perry (@LanaWWE) March 16, 2017
Despite only being two weeks away, WWE are still going back and forth over one of the feature matches at Wrestlemania 33 – who will fight for Raw’s Women’s Championship.
The original plan, dating back to January this year, was for a Fatal Four Way between Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte and Nia Jax. Back then, Charlotte was the champion. The four way would have been a way to keep her undefeated pay-per-view streak alive while giving Bayley the big Wrestlemania moment title win. Charlotte wouldn’t have to be pinned to lose it.
A lot’s changed since then, with WWE giving Bayley that big Wrestlemania moment title win on an episode of Raw, and giving Charlotte her first pay-per-view defeat at WWE Fastlane. Also, Sasha defeated Jax on that show, suggesting Nia was no longer in Mania’s four-way match.
The current Wrestlemania match is Bayley vs Charlotte vs Banks, but according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, “both Dana Brooke and Nia Jax at different times were talked about or slated to be in the match…It’s changed many times.” That’s possibly why this week’s Raw had Nia Jax beat up Bayley and Dana Brooke stand-up to Charlotte – laying the groundwork for either of them to be added to the Wrestlemania match last-minute.
One thing WWE has definitely decided, though, is who will be inducting Kurt Angle into this year’s Hall of Fame, with their website announcing that John Cena will do the honours. Angle was Cena’s very first opponent in WWE, losing a hard-fought battle to Kurt on the June 27th, 2002 episode of Smackdown.