By Matt Straub and Brad Carroll
WWE Super Show-down has several problems. Let’s start with the obvious, which is that show-down shouldn’t have a hyphen. It’s been bothering me for weeks. If punctuation were the only problem with these one-off foreign shows, WWE would be fine. But, as we’ll get to in our first match preview, WWE won’t find a niche for these events until it figures out what they should be. Are they designed to get big names in front of fans who never get to see them, or are they meant as the next chapter in recurring stories? Until we have the answer, these shows will continue to be jumbled cards without a clear purpose.
Even though the design is a mess, there is plenty of good action on this card, so let’s break some of it down in between ripping WWE for its awful booking.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: No match better exemplifies the problems WWE finds itself running into with these overseas events than our main event of the evening. Sure, WWE wants to make sure this thing gets lots of mainstream attention in Australia, which means making sure it has stars. And since WWE doesn’t often go to Australia, it wants to give the Aussies a chance to see legends they might have never been able to watch in person before. That part I get. The tradeoff for doing so, however, is giving us a main event which has zero long-term importance and will be awful in the ring. I know this is sacrilege, but Taker is done as a performer. He can’t move. He looks as bad as Hulk Hogan did in TNA. He never should have come back after he left his hat and coat in the ring. His opponent looked young and spry next to him in recent weeks, but Triple H isn’t exactly going to give us a 5-star match, either. Since he does have some gas left in his tank, however, they should save him for big grudge matches or bouts with stipulations about control of Raw. If you’re going to give us a meaningless match, make it one which will look good. At least we can enjoy it. This is just dreck all the way around. This “rivalry,” wasn’t even among the best for either man. Triple H isn’t in Taker’s top five feuds, and none of the moments which make up Triple H’s in-ring legacy involve Taker. There’s no heat here, and no reason to want to see this. Triple H wins because he needs to be hot going into whatever his next thing is, whereas no one cares if Taker loses anymore. He’s an attraction, his results don’t matter. The only interesting things which have happened during the build are seeing Kane come back despite being a real-life government official now and, shockingly, finding out HBK shaved his head. By the way, if this is building to HBK coming back, I hate it already. He stuck to his guns and made a retirement match mean something for once. I don’t want to see him ruin that. Certainly not to fight anyone in this angle. Last time ever? Thank God. Another big issue? If this is your main event, is anyone on our side of the world waking up early to see it?
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: Straub is really hating on this match, but all I have to respond with is look how the crowd has reacted to it. This is the type of stuff the WWE fans want to see, even if it’s just because most remember the good old days of the Attitude Era and will try and hold on to those memories, and relive them, any way they can. The biggest pops on Monday were for Shawn Michaels, Kane, Undertaker and Triple H. It wasn’t even close. The Shield isn’t in the same universe. So, for someone like myself who got back into wrestling during my college years during the Attitude Era, I’ll take all of this and more. It’s so much better than watching the Shield, or 99 percent of the stuff Raw has to offer weekly. (Which admittedly is getting harder and harder to watch, and probably the only thing saving me as a fan now is DVR and the fast forward button.) Straub, too, is overthinking this. Enjoy the ride, Straub. You can watch this or you can watch another six-person tag team match. Oh boy. Undertaker is going to win because he always wins these type matches, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering he’s one of my all time favorites. They’ve made this a big deal, but Triple H doesn’t need to win these things, just look at the John Cena match at the Greatest Royal Rumble. There will be a tag team match coming up, I can all but guarantee, that will further this, when Taker and Kane take on Triple H and a returning Shawn Michaels. It’s all there for the taking at Crown Jewel. There, most likely, Michaels pins Kane and D-X finally gets to celebrate a win over the Undertaker, sort of.
The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Everything about how WWE has handled Dean Ambrose’s future leading into this match has been bad. If they were going to turn him, they should have left it as a surprise. Doing it this way, by teasing it for a month, makes it anticlimactic if it happens. They have managed to leave doubt as to whether he will or not, but if they’re really going to, he shouldn’t have even thought about it publicly until Saturday. Instead, they had him do an odd promo to start Raw Monday by himself, where he seems to be going over the pros and cons of the move out loud. I don’t think he turns. He won’t do it in Australia and 5 a.m. East Coast time. He won’t do it in an event no one in America cares about. He won’t do it while WWE is printing money by putting out new Shield shirts every week. WWE won’t do it when it would provide a distraction before November, when everything will be based around Roman, Braun and Brock. I can’t imagine Dean and Seth fighting with no involvement from Roman, and he’ll be busy. Instead, Dean will do it around the Royal Rumble, which will lead to plenty of options heading into next year’s Wrestlemania. I’m interested in seeing how WWE blows this off, since Braun and Roman are heading into their own thing, but I’m convinced the Shield survives.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: There are so many meaningless multi-person matches on this card I really wanted to write something like “nobody gives a crap” on each. There’s also the fact that all these type matches were made for episodes of Raw and SmackDown, not a PPV that is supposed to intrigue me enough to wake up at 5 a.m. to watch. Note for everyone, I wouldn’t do that even if this event was stacked, but I definitely won’t do it here, and honestly, I might just watch Undertaker-Triple H and the SmackDown trio of singles matches, the only ones on this entire card that mean anything. This six-man tag, well, nobody gives a crap, or I guess I should say, nobody should give a crap. It doesn’t mean a damn thing who wins, although it obviously will be the Shield. This feud has gone on far too long, with not one thing to keep my interest in the top storyline on Raw. Man, Raw is bad. When the Shield aren’t acting like heel a-holes, they just make no sense at all, like Roman Reigns being upset his match with Dolph Ziggler was changed from a Universal title match to non-title. Um, what? Roman, that’s a good thing, you moron. But that’s the idiotic WWE for you. And Straub wonders why everyone wants to see Undertaker and Triple H go at it 20 years past their primes.
WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: This has been so good, so well-done, I’m afraid I can’t do it justice. Everything about this has been tremendous. Usually storylines involving family end up being awful, but this has managed to stay on the good side of the fine line. It has come across as believable. It has been well-acted and well-written. We’re going to sell this short, so if you’ve missed any of it, go back and rewatch the segments. I seem to be in the minority in liking the finish to their last match, which set up this No-DQ finale. A grudge match like this with such a personal angle should have a brawl, and this will be one. Let them hit each other with whatever they want. Since I do think this is near the end of the story, Joe has to win. Sure AJ will get his rematch down the line, but this is the last suspenseful match. It’s now or never for Joe. It’s a shame it’s almost over, however, because this is awesome. Also, Joe is awesome. I promise not to rant like last month, but I had to mention that.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: OK, finally, something WWE is doing completely right. Everything about this has been done perfectly and me and Straub agree completely for once. But I just don’t see WWE pulling a major title change on this show. We thought we would see one at the Greatest Royal Rumble and then we didn’t. This show seems even less important than that one, so I don’t believe Samoa Joe is going to get his title reign just yet. (And I picked him to the win the title in his last go). Styles is going to win by doing something so crazy that it must set up another match between the two. There’s nowhere else for either to go from here, so they should stay together until Joe finally wins the title. So, this feud is going to continue for another two or three months. Let’s enjoy the ride. (Or you could watch Raw and see some non-title matches by Roman Reigns … you decide.)
Ronda Rousey & The Bella Twins vs. The Riott Squad
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: This is solely to get Ronda on the show and introduce her to the overseas crowd in person without using her in a big match they want to do later. Ronda and the Bellas are going to win, so let’s use this time to talk about some ancillary issues. First off, WWE continues to badly misuse Ronda. They make her more like everybody else every week, which is awful for the company. It hurts her brand, which hurts WWE’s ability to make money off her down the line. We all know how quickly WWE can ruin someone’s momentum (ask Asuka), and that point is coming for Ronda. She has gone from monster to barely able to beat Ruby Riott in a few weeks. The Riott Squad is developing nicely, but will lose momentum here with a loss. They’re what they call a “name opponent” in boxing. It’s a good win when you beat them because they’ll make you work hard and people know them, but they’re a safe fight because they aren’t going to actually beat you. Speaking of wrestlers people know, it’s the Bellas! And hey, there was actually something interesting involving one of them recently! No, it wasn’t an angle, it was when Brie nearly killed Liv Morgan by kicking her in the head instead of the shoulder and chest. I actually thought she got too much heat for this, as accidents happen. She also tried to end the match by pinning Liv right away, but Morgan was going purely on instinct and kicked out. No, Brie shouldn’t have dragged her to the corner after, but at least she was trying to get her out of the ring. You can see her talking to Morgan the whole time, trying to convince her to follow Bella and get out of the ring. It’s definitely not Bella’s fault they let Morgan back in the ring later. Someone should get sued over that part. The moral of our story is the usual: The Bellas probably mean well, but just aren’t professional wrestlers. I’ll now hand the mic over to Brad, as bashing the Bellas is his third-favorite sport and he has plenty to work with.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: You know what, I don’t even have it in me anymore to call out the Bellas for being the divas, and not wrestlers, they are. They’ve done more in the ring to make my point then I could ever do writing on this website. Bellas, go back to reality TV, nobody gives a crap about you in the ring. I’m disappointed Straub didn’t recognize Ruby Riott for the incredible talent she is and putting together a strong challenge against Ronda Rousey. Rousey doesn’t have to beat everyone up she faces in a matter of minutes. This ain’t MMA. It’s wrestling. And WWE has to make her at least somewhat believable that she could actually lose. A real loss won’t come until she faces Charlotte or, well, nobody else. But she needs challenges and she needs to be put in the ring with women more talented than she is so she can grow. And remember, too, Rousey lost her last two fights in MMA, and badly. She’s not the baddest woman on the planet, even though it works in WWE to remember the good times. The Rousey team wins, but of course this is another six-person tag that means absolutely nothing.
SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Seriously, when did Smackdown get so good? This has been another fantastic feud, with Becky taking the expression “going full heel” to new heights. Her ambush of Charlotte at the photo shoot should take away any last semblance of her character being a “tweener”. She’s not a heelish-face, she’s a heel. And a great one. I don’t love Charlotte as the damsel in distress victim here. She’s a Flair, and should always act like one. Her father was the master at being a heel and a face at once, and she has shown the ability to pull it off in the past. I wanted more angry, vindictive Charlotte here. Hopefully as this goes on, it will become more of a personal battle. It will never be AJ-Joe, but it could be as good as Miz-Bryan over time. I don’t think this ends anytime soon, which means Charlotte has to win. I think she does so by DQ, giving her another chance down the line without a title change yet.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: Is Becky Lynch not the best thing in wrestling right now? This new persona was the greatest thing to happen to her and the SmackDown brand as a whole. She’s one of, if not the, most popular wrestlers on the roster, all the while doing so as a heel. It’s another case of SmackDown completely schooling Raw in creating rivalries that not only make sense but succeed in every way, from the mic work to the ring work. Becky is going to keep the championship, as there’s no way in hell WWE can ruin her momentum now. The feud with Charlotte is far from over, however, because it simply has to continue and we all want it to. Straub’s not wrong on the finish, but I think it’ll be the opposite, with Becky winning by DQ as Charlotte goes a little too far in trying to get her revenge.
John Cena & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Elias
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: OK, I have a homework assignment for you. If you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing right now and go watch Elias and KO from Monday. You don’t even have to cheat to find it, WWE made a clip of it on its Youtube channel. Elias made a crack about the Sonics leaving Seattle, and it caused the biggest single reaction by a WWE crowd since the Attitude Era. Seriously. The only moment close since 2000 was Punk’s entrance in Chicago against Cena. Elias literally had to stop the bit for awhile at one point. They weren’t fishing for more boos, they really couldn’t go on. It was amazing. Now, WWE got lucky, because the hatred had nothing to do with their stupid storyline here, but it will become an iconic moment for sure. Unfortunately for WWE, the same crowd helped demonstrate the big problem with this angle a few minutes later. Lio Rush came out, and a crowd which was on the verge of rioting seconds earlier fell deathly silent. As Rush began to talk, nothing happened. Then, when he started hyping Lashley, the fans chanted, “Let’s go Sonics.” Elias even tried to get them back on track, but it didn’t work. That building was ready to see someone kill Elias and Owens, but Rush and Lashley are so bad the same crowd suddenly lost all interest. If those people weren’t getting behind the faces there, no one will. Sending Cena to Australia will make those fans happy, but he is as irrelevant to what’s going on today as Taker is. None of this matters at all. WWE’s inability to get Elias, who the fans react to every single week, into something important baffles me as much as his popularity does. I don’t see it, but he gets huge reactions, good or bad, every time he talks. And yet he’s stuck fighting Lashley and a part-timer. The heels win because Cena won’t be around to repay the favor next month. Hopefully Elias and Owens have something better to do by then.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: Straub does a good job of breaking down SonicsGate from Raw this past Monday, so no need to rehash. But check it out if you missed it. The reaction is epic. For the match itself, again, does anyone care? It’s a tag team match with John Cena involved for some reason that makes no sense. Yes, that’s what Raw is. Cena and Bobby Lashley win because the crowd needs to be happy. And, yes, Elias and Kevin Owens are being completely wasted. What else is new?
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Can someone explain to me how WWE managed to suck the life out of this feud? We’ve talked about this a lot so I won’t rehash all of it, but this one of the more ready-made angles in a long time, and WWE dropped the ball big time. This match is a referendum on Bryan’s future. If he loses again, he’s done as a title contender for the foreseeable future. Then again, if he wins, what becomes of Miz? WWE tends to treat its guys it knows are going to be over anytime they want badly because they know those wrestlers can have their pushes rebuilt quickly. It’s the reason Seth Rollins can lose the opener of a show and then fight for the title the next week and no one would blink an eye. Still, while Miz can certainly come back from any loss, it’s a shame he has to lose to Bryan, who should be in the performance center teaching his wife how to throw a kick without nearly ending someone’s career.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: Honestly, on paper, there is no reason why The Miz should have to continue fighting Daniel Bryan. He’s 2-0 against him. Typically, there’s no more that needs to be said or done when that’s the case. But WWE knows they have yet another SDLive feud that makes sense and people want to see, so here we are. The winner of this match also gets a WWE championship title shot, giving it stakes that give this match even more meaning. I believe the best case scenario here is for Miz to win this match, probably through underhanded means, and then go on to win the WWE championship. Then, at WrestleMania, Bryan will get his due and beat Miz for the title. That makes a lot of sense to me, and would elevate this feud to an epic conclusion. Even though Bryan has become boring and stale and has zero momentum, WWE has to pay off his return in some big way. This makes the most sense. But this is WWE, so Bryan probably wins and never feuds with The Miz again. But I'm still going with The Miz getting the win.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. The Bar
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: You guys have made it this far, you deserve a good Brad rant. I won’t talk about how wrong I was about the Jets starting 3-0, since it will upset me as well. Instead, I’ll tee him up with this: The Bar did nothing to earn this title shot and doesn’t deserve it. New Day is going to win and move on to something else . Cesaro remains wildly overrated. In all seriousness, however, I do think Brad needs one of those Bar soccer jerseys. He’d look spiffy. I was going to continue and make reference to his soccer team also struggling, but he knows where I live.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: I feel like I’m failing Straub here, as he’s setting me up for some epic rants when I just don’t have them teed up and ready to go. It's probably the card that's making me so rant-less. Straub is wrong, as usual, though, in saying The Bar don’t deserve this title shot. Of course they do. They carried Raw for months last year and are finally getting their due on SmackDown. It should end with Sheamus and Cesaro winning the titles, too, because the New Day don’t need them, not to mention the fact I’ve been over them for months now. The Bar winning sets up New Day rematches and battles with the Usos and more. The Bar wins, Straub cries, which won’t be the first time as his Red Sox team is about to have one epic failure on their resume soon. And, by the way, Straub moved and never gave me a forwarding address, I'll try not to be insulted.
Asuka & Naomi vs. The IIconics
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: WWE is trying to make Asuka move back to Japan. I’m convinced of it. I understand you can’t have someone in the title picture every month for years and years (unless it’s Roman or Cena), but this is the best they can do for Asuka? At least Charlotte loses good matches. Asuka deserves so much more than this. It’s really a shame. Even worse, they’re going to lose to the heels here because they’re Australian. “We’re from around here and Peyton is insanely pretty” is not a good enough reason to have Asuka lose here, but it’s going to happen.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: Even with the home field advantage, I still believe Asuka gets the win for her team. The crowd should be super pumped for the IIconics, but then again, might treat them as the heels they are. The only way to know what an Australian crowd will do is to watch it all unfold. And, yes, Asuka has been completely destroyed as a character. I really can't believe they screwed this up so badly. Oh wait, yes I can, it's WWE.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Murphy, another hometown wrestler, wins. This would be a good opener to get the crowd going, but it’s an awful end for a preview, since it’s so uninteresting. So I’ll finish my half with more exciting picks: Red Sox in 4, Jets will still win 7-8 games, the Celtics and Capitals will win their titles this year, making Brad and I both happy, and by next year WWE realizes these overseas shows are more harm than good for their product. Go Sonics.
Brad’s Breakdown and Prediction: Straub points on Murphy is another hometown guy, which I had no idea, because I had no idea the cruiserweight title was still a thing. But this will be the one title change on the card. Murphy wins, celebrate Australia. As for Straub's other picks ... Yankees in 4 ... Suck it, Straub.