Mixed Match Challenge – January 16, 2018 (Series Premiere): The Shoulder Pads Give Me Hope

Mixed Match Challenge Episode #1
Date: January 16, 2018
Location: Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, Texas
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Beth Phoenix

This is a new concept for WWE as they’re airing on Facebook for the first time ever. In this case we have a tournament of mixed matches with the winners earning money for a charity. There will be twelve episodes with twelve teams vying for the money with one match a week. I have no idea what to expect here so let’s get to it.

No opening sequence here, which is quite the jarring difference.

Renee Young and Byron Saxton are on the floor as hosts.

We get quick vignettes from both teams, basically saying they’re going to win. They’re definitely assuming you’ve watched WWE before so this definitely isn’t treating the fans like a new audience.

We get some rapid fire vignettes from other teams, including Carmella eating pancakes and Nia Jax being presented with some lucky underwear.

First Round: Finn Balor/Sasha Banks vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/Natalya

Nakamura has an old Jim Neidhart Hart Foundation jacket, complete with the big shoulders. The women start things off and Natalya bails into the corner. It’s quickly off to the men and Phoenix is already coming off as the best analyst WWE has had in years. They fight over a technical sequence and it’s an early standoff as they’re playing this as even. Neither can get much control off an armbar so Nakamura tells him to COME ON.

That means another standoff and Balor throws up the Too Sweet sign. The women come in again and Sasha hits her pose before slapping Natalya in the face. Something like an atomic drop and a basement dropkick give Natalya two but Banks is right back with the double knees in the corner (haven’t seen that one in awhile). Natalya bails to the floor so Sasha dives onto…Nakamura, who calmly puts her back on the apron. The second dive takes Natalya down but Sasha walks into the discus forearm, followed by the chinlock.

Hang on a second though as we need to look at Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch talking about the show. We hit the abdominal stretch with Natalya lifting the foot off the mat for some bonus pressure. Eh she’s a Hart so she should know this stuff. Sasha flips her away without too much effort and brings Balor back in to speed things back up.

Nakamura kicks Balor in the head though and hits the running knee for two. Kinshasa is countered with the Sling Blade but Natalya breaks up the Coup de Grace. Sasha throws Natalya outside but Kinshasa is countered again, this time with Nakamura being sent into the post. Stereo basement dropkicks set up the Bank Statement to make Natalya tap at 12:48.

Rating: C. And that’s the problem: there’s no real animosity here and they’re just having matches for the sake of having a match. It doesn’t help that it’s not exactly a thrilling concept and the match wasn’t anything we haven’t seen done better before. Balor and Banks winning makes sense as they’re a more popular combination, mainly because Banks actually has some charisma.

Next week: Big E./Carmella vs. Asuka/The Miz.

New Day is fired up and Carmella is in a washing machine.

Miz speaks English and Asuka shouts in Japanese before they both speak English (BECAUSE ASUKA CAN FREAKING SPEAK ENGLISH!).

Overall Rating: C. I liked the show well enough, but I’m not sure how long of a shelf life this is going to have. It’s not the most thrilling thing in the world, though there might be some interesting matches going on later in the brackets. The fact that it’s only about twenty five minutes an episode will do it A LOT of favors though as it’s more like something to do on Tuesday instead of something really important. Not bad, but totally skippable.

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  1. Greg says:

    Random tournaments aren’t interesting. No story means it’s literally people doing glorified gymnastics.

  2. Killjoy says:

    I like the concept. It’s free of the usual WWE overproduction and the wrestlers get to show WAY more personality and get to experiment with the odd pairings. It’s not gonna be a mindblowing concept but it’s something that can be short and fun for both casual fans wanting more content and more savvy watchers wanting to get away from the usual Dunnfest Raw, Smackdown & 205 Live are.

    NightShiftLoser Reply:

    Agreed. I just feel like the concept is pointless, since the men and women can’t mix it up. It’s basically two matches for the price of one. A team like Braun and Alexa is infinitely more interesting, if they do some double-teaming.