Welcome back to the WWE Mixed Match Challenge Season 2, a half-hour show featuring a 1o-team round robin mixed tag tournament between Raw and Smackdown. The episodes air live on Facebook Watch at 10 p.m. every Tuesday night, but you can watch the new episode any time you want. Each week, I’ll be taking you through the ins and outs of this compact two-match card.
Last week, Monster Eclipse beat Team Pawz, with Ember Moon hitting Natalya with an Eclipse off of Braun Strowman’s shoulders, and Fenomenal Flair defeated Day One Glow in a match where everybody had a good time. Now, let’s dive into this week’s matches:
Match One (Raw): Country Dominance Versus Mahalicia
The symmetry in this match was striking: Each team has one guy with a body like a He-Man action figure, one underrated female veteran/current Alexa Bliss henchwoman, and one little yelling guy in the manager spot. The key difference, and the only thing that gives this match the slightest hint of a heel/face dynamic, is that Lio Rush (the little yelling guy of Country Dominance) is friends with Mickie James (the Country of Country Dominance). In contrast, Sunil Singh (the little yelling guy of Mahalicia) is filled with palpable annoyance and jealousy toward Alicia Fox (the -alicia of Mahalicia). Bobby Lashley and Jinder Mahal (the Dominance and Mah-, respectively) both mostly come off as blandly affable, but Bobby’s just hanging out with his friends while Jinder’s failing to deal with the drama.
That difference defines the whole match, which is the kind of simple but effective storytelling that the Mixed Match Challenge does perfectly. Look at how Sunil ruins the pushup contest because while Lio’s happy to cheer on Bobby and Mickie, Sunil can’t stand being left out. It’s understandable that a manager like Singh wouldn’t welcome the arrival of a living embodiment of chaos like Alicia Fox, but by attempting to join the pushup pile he reveals that all he really cares about is preserving his spot as Jinder Mahal’s undisputed #2. One begins to wonder if he’ll even still be comfortable sharing the job with his brother Samir when the latter returns from injury.
This match is full of great spots, pushup-related and otherwise. Mickie James gets in some offense against Jinder that’s surprisingly effective. Foxy hits Mickie with her always-perfect Northern Lights Suplex. She also gets to yell “I don’t wanna shanti!” when Jinder and Sunil implore her to calm herself with breathing techniques. Alicia knows who she is, and that high-energy mental and emotional chaos provide the engine that keeps her running in the ring. Calming is the opposite of helpful for her.
The match culminates in a fantastic sequence that begins when Lio Rush kicks Sunil Singh in the face. Jinder chases Lio, who leads him into the waiting arms of Bobby Lashley. Alicia attempts to interfere, but Mickie deftly intercepts her. Then Bobby hits a vertical suplex, during which he noticeably realizes that he’s holding a little too much of Jinder’s skimpy trunks and awkwardly shifts his hand around to avoid exposing his opponent’s junk, and then at last gets the pin.
Match Two (Smackdown): The Fabulous Truth Versus Awe-Suka
This match directly followed from Smackdown, where the Miz and R-Truth had already fought for the right to host their own talk show after Truth and his cohost Carmella interviewed Daniel Bryan on the premiere episode of Truth TV, a take on Miz TV that was superior to the original thanks mostly to the presence of Carmella and the addition of 7-second Dance Breaks.
Carmella and Truth are fantastic together, and I’m glad they’re paired on Smackdown as well as here. I was a little worried because despite Truth’s genuine comedic talent, being put into segments with him isn’t always a sign that your WWE career is going places. For Carmella though, it’s a chance to show off her own comedic talent and dance skills, reminding viewers of why we liked her before her deliberately obnoxious run as Women’s Champion. Also, other than Big E in last year’s MMC (who she never spent time with on the main show), R-Truth is the most legit dude Carmella’s ever been teamed with. She’s been paired with some embarrassing men in her time in WWE (both professionally and personally if we’re honest), and Truth isn’t one of them.
And while I’m tangenting about Carmella, yes, her new burgundy hair looks fantastic. I like it better than the blonde, and I hope she keeps it for a long time. It’s funny that the official line is that she’s returned to her original color, though. Obviously her hair is naturally dark, but despite what you might think looking at photos from the ’90s, nobody’s hair is naturally burgundy.
Of course there’s another dance break during this match, and the best part of it is Asuka joining in. No, actually the best part is Asuka standing at ringside deciding to join in. Her face makes it look like the most dire situation imaginable: First she’s aghast, then she’s desperate, like she has to get in to save her partner, and then she rushes in and starts doing the goofiest dance with the biggest grin on her face. Meanwhile the Miz sells all of this as the most horrific thing he’s ever seen. There’s some strong wrestling in these MMC matches, but it’s the moments like this and the pushup contest that give the show its own flavor and really make it worth watching.
Once Carmella gets caught in an Asuka Lock, the fun is inevitably over. I’m glad this whole tournament won’t be determined by Asuka’s winning streak like last year’s was. I’m hoping they’ll eventually go with the story I initially expected before the they brought the streak into it last year, where Miz costs Asuka matches and she gets angry about it. Let’s be real though, that was never going to happen with Carmella and R-Truth. When Team Awe-Suka face Fenomenal Flair or Day One Glow, on the other hand, all bets are off.
That’s all for this week. Join us next time, when Country Dominance (Mickie James and Bobby Lashley) go up against Team B’n’B (Bayley and Finn Bálor) and Ravishing Rusev Day (Lana and Rusev) face the Fabulous Truth (Carmella and R-Truth).