This is the second week of the WWE Mixed Match Challenge, a half-hour show featuring a 12-team mixed tag tournament between Raw and Smackdown, in which each team is battling to win $100,000 for their chosen charity.
The episodes air live on Facebook Watch at 10pm every Tuesday night, but you can watch the new episode any time you want. Last week, Finn Bálor and Sasha Banks defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya, in a match that was alternately delightful and brutal, and often both at once. This week’s episode features Carmella and Big E, fighting on behalf of KaBOOM!, in a match against the Miz and Asuka, fighting on behalf of Rescue Dogs Rock.
Now let’s take a quick look at this week’s teams, before we dive into the match itself:
Fabulous Day: Your True Colors Shining Through
Both of this week’s teams match a face with a heel, and I understand why that annoys wrestling purists, but in both of these cases I think it works. With Big E and Carmella, it’s not weird for her to have fun with the New Day, because she’s never been a character who’s opposed to having fun. Similarly, there’s no reason for the New Day to be judgmental of Carmella’s heel tactics, because they’ve never been the cleanest of babyfaces anyway. Plus, Carmella and the New Day are united by a sense of style — an interest, if you will, in being fabulous.
That fabulousness was delightfully on display in this show. Carmella entered first, wearing her usual swimsuit-style gear but in New Day-esque bright blue and green. Then Big E entered with the rest of the New Day, all three in basically identical gear to Carmella’s. It’s an image that I think will stay with all of us for a long time.
The first time we see their dynamic strained is when the match actually starts, which is a great choice. As soon as she sees Asuka across the ring, fun-loving Carmella immediately remembers that she’s actually a cowardly heel, and Big E just looks at her in disappointment, like “Oh yeah, you’re … you.”
Team Awwwwsuka: Intercontinental Egos
This is another heel/face team that works because Asuka knows she’s the very best, and Miz believes that he’s the very best, so they’re natural allies against the other mixed teams that they both view as beneath them. They also both have a love of glamour and pageantry, even if Asuka’s idea of a very fancy coat differs considerably from the Miz’s.
Seeing the Miz learn a little Japanese to impress Asuka is a nice touch. I admit, I was a little bit iffy on the promo after the match, where the Miz says in English that he’s taught Asuka everything she knows about winning and being a champion, while an uncomprehending Asuka doesn’t react to his obvious lies. I don’t like seeing Asuka’s lack of English played for a laugh, but I take comfort in the belief that this is going somewhere. It continues to seem likely that this partnership ends with Asuka kicking the Miz in the face, and her learning what he actually said here could be an important step in that split.
The Match: Run and Catch
This week’s match wasn’t quite as great as last week’s, but still very strong. It started with Big E and Miz in the ring, but when the crowd started chanting “We want Asuka!” the Miz was more than happy to give them that, which just happened to have the added benefit of getting him away from a much stronger opponent who’d already literally spanked his butt by that time.
When Carmella is reluctant to fight Asuka, Big E retrieves a large letter L from under the ring and tells Carmella, “Give her this L. Make her take the L.” It’s an outlandish cartoon sort of choice, but in this weird MMC world, which feels increasingly separate from the rest of WWE’s reality, it works. One major reason the spot works is because of how it ends: Carmella gives Asuka the L like it’s a present; Asuka takes it, seems grateful for a moment, and then tears up the letter and throws it back at her while screaming in Japanese. Carmella’s sprint to tag Big E, and her little “Nope!” headshakes are a perfect character moment.
After that there’s a long stretch of the match where Big E seems to play the face in peril, which almost plays like a parody of the structure of a wrestling match, because we all know it’s not going to lead to Carmella coming in like a house on fire, especially since Big E tagging her would put Asuka in the match too. It does lead to all four briefly being in the ring together, and the Miz and Asuka simultaneously kicking their opponents, which looks like it might be the proudest moment of the Miz’s career.
Carmella manages to get a few moves in against Asuka when they end up back in the ring, but being who she is, Carmella starts showing off and taunting the Empress too much, and inevitably ends up tapping to an armbar. It’s exactly how we knew this match would end, but there was more than enough fun stuff along the way to make it worth the watch.
The Future: Size Difference vs Ethical Difference
Next week, it’s Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss versus Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn. Once again, Becky finds herself the lone face in a world of heels, including her own partner in this case. Sami’s been doing his best to bring Becky around to his way of thinking, even resorting to giving her a magical flat cap that transforms its wearer into a skanking bully. Becky’s too smart and pure of heart for that sort of thing, though.
On the other hand, Alexa and Braun are getting along swimmingly. He’s even become something of a personal enforcer for the Goddess, smashing anyone who disrespects her. Considering their cohesiveness, as well as the fact that they’re undoubtedly the most mutually dominant team in the tournament, these two seem like the most likely winners in next week’s match.
As for this week’s teams, Asuka and the Miz will face Finn Bálor and Sasha Banks on Week 7, which ought to be a really great match. Carmella and Big E are theoretically gone from the tournament, but they seem like very strong contenders to win the fan vote and get a second chance in the semi-finals. After all, who doesn’t want to see more booty-shaking, matching singlets, and pancakes?
That’s all for this week. Join us next time when Team LittleBig faces the Redheaded Stepchildren.