By JP Abcede
IN this week's recap in the world of pro wrestling, let us briefly recount NJPW's New Year Dash and look ahead into WWE's Mixed Match Challenge.
Jericho targets Naito
Chris Jericho is not yet done at NJPW as he appeared at New Year Dash to attack crowd favorite Naito Tetsuya to cap the show. This means he is in Japan for a longer haul and was not there for a one-off as speculated.
Although the Bullet Club won their respective matches in the event, friction within the faction emerged as Kenny Omega and Cody had a minor scuffle on the ring. Meanwhile, Jay White, who defeated Katsuya Kitamura in the first of their best-of-seven series, spurned joining the stable.
WWE MMC is an interesting concept
Looking to reach a wider audience (as well as to beta test a new social media feature), the WWE would be having the Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook Watch immediately after SmackDown Live. Basically a program for charity, Raw mixed tag teams would go up against the SD pairs as the winner of the tournament would have US$100,000 donated to the charity of their choice.
Here are the six pairings per brand:
Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss
Finn Bálor and Sasha Banks
Apollo Crews and Nia Jax
Goldust and Alicia Fox
The Miz and Asuka
Elias and Bayley
Bobby Roode and Charlotte Flair
Rusev and Lana
Naomi and Jimmy Uso
Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch
Nakamura Shinsuke and Natalya
Big E and Carmella
Based on the snippets involving the talents, as well as the odd partnerships, the MMC looks to showcase the Superstars in a different light. Color me intrigued.
The Miz returns to Raw with a bang
After a hot start to the new year, this week's Raw was relatively tame as this episode emphasized on several feuds that would culminate later this month. The Miz challenged Roman Reigns for the intercontinental championship on Raw's 25th anniversary, while The Bar, albeit eating a surprise loss to Titus Worldwide that night, will take on Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan for the Raw tag team belts.
The only title match for the evening was between Cedric Alexander and Enzo Amore for the WWE cruiserweight top prize. Alexander won via countout, which lets Amore keep the strap. I am not sure if that was the finish they had in mind as Enzo was bleeding profusely above his eye after he got hit by Alexander with an elbow followed by a springboard to the face and required medical attention. Nevertheless, it was another injury, a twisted ankle, that was emphasized when the two crossed paths on 205 Live.
As for other developments, the Bálor Club are on a hot streak after beating the de facto Shield composed of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Jason Jordan. As much as the main thread is on how Rollins (and Reigns) would rein in the entitled Jordan, thus giving an opening for the Miztourage to attack Reigns, I would like to point out here that members of the Bullet Club, both current and former, are making waves in their respective, dare I say, yards.
SD Live looks ahead to the Royal Rumble
It was pretty much uneventful over at the blue brand as the storylines and matches continue to set up this year's Royal Rumble. Demanding justice, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin was able to book a two-out-of-three falls match against The Usos for the tag team championship to be held in WWE's first major event of the year.
Mojo Rawley also advances to the next round of the US championship tournament to face Bobby Roode after the former Hype Bro beat then tag team partner Zach Ryder. In the main bout, the Yep Movement of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn found themselves outnumbered in a two-versus-three handicap match loss against AJ Styles, Randy Orton, and Nakamura Shinsuke.