Oli Davis rounds up the biggest professional wrestling news in his daily WrestleTalk column…
With AJ Styles on Smackdown and Finn Balor seemingly set for a lengthy babyface run, the Superstar Shake-Up failed to reunite either with their Bullet Club brethren Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. So if WWE aren’t going to do it, then The Demon King will have to take matters into his own hands. With toys.
After Sportskeeda’s Dirty Sheets podcast revealed Jinder Mahal would become the WWE Championship’s No. 1 contender on Smackdown, they have seemingly broken another story, albeit quite an obvious one.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his main roster debut on the post-Wrestlemania episode of Smackdown interrupting a Miz and Maryse segment. The week after, he squared up to Dolph Ziggler. On the most recent episode, Nakamura only appeared in a promo package.
Sportskeeda are reporting this is because WWE are holding off on the first televised match between Nakamura and Ziggler until Smackdown’s Backlash pay-per-view in Chicago on the 21st May – where the typically passionate crowd will hopefully give him a superstar reaction. With that and AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens on the same card, I wouldn’t like to be Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal in the main event.
Nakamura might not have gotten properly physical on WWE TV, but he has been wrestling Ziggler in the Smackdown dark match main events. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has pointed out this is the old John Cena spot, which is the headlining attraction WWE use to keep fans from leaving during 205 Live – a very promising sign for how the company’s management see Nakamura, which is as one of the brand’s key babyfaces.
The Wrestling Observer is also reporting the two main heel pushes following the roster split: Braun Strowman for Raw and Baron Corbin for Smackdown. The Monster Among Men has been built up terrifically, with the last few weeks of television focusing on him beating up inanimate objects and Roman Reigns, but, strangely, WWE see even more promise in Corbin, and intend to make him a top star on Smackdown by the end of the year.
This is something they’re handling carefully, though, as Randy Orton is booked against Jinder Mahal in May, and The Viper is then expected to transition into a feud with AJ Styles over the summer – i.e. WWE don’t want to rush their Corbin push, and they’re even looking at ways to change up his character, including new music.
Following Strowman’s aforementioned backstage beatdown of Reigns, WWE wrote The Big Dawg off TV, with Roman not appearing on this week’s episode of Raw.
His storyline broken ribs and separated shoulder, however, didn’t prevent him from showing up at last weekend’s Raw live events, where he brawled with Strowman and put him through a table every night. He’s still scheduled to face Braun at Raw’s April 30th Payback show.
F4WOnline are reporting for this weekend’s WWE live events, though, Roman Reigns has been taken off the Raw dates and pulled from the show advertising. It’s not official why he’s been removed, but it’s presumably because his real-life brother and former WWE wrestler Matt ‘Rosey’ Anoa’i passed away on Monday aged 47.
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