This is the third 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 10 p.m. every Tuesday night, but you can watch the new episode any time you want. Last week, Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman, who are a delight, defeated Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn, who are quite amusing. This week’s episode features Jimmy Uso and Naomi, fighting on behalf of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, in a match against Goldust and Mandy Rose, fighting on behalf of Hire Heroes USA. Also this week, Daniel Bryan is the Special Referee, for no actual reason except that there was a fan vote and WWE seems to be trying to get more people to watch this thing.
Now let’s take a quick look at this week’s teams, before we dive into the match itself:
Team Most-Stable-Couple-From-Total–Divas: They Love Each Other
In kayfabe, is Naomi’s name actually Naomi Uso? Or did she keep the name Naomi Knight when she got married? Or perhaps, and this is the most intriguing one to me, perhaps in the kayfabe world of WWE you sometimes just lose your last name, and then you really don’t have one. Sometimes, more rarely, it happens the other way around, like when Charlotte suddenly realized that since she’s Ric Flair’s daughter, her name must be Charlotte Flair.
On the subject of real names versus wrestling names, I find it confusing that Jimmy Uso’s name is Jon. I have no trouble with Naomi also being named Trinity, but Jimmy and Jon are just too similar and basic for me to keep straight. Jey Uso’s name is Josh, which would also be confusing except that he’s not on Total Divas so we never hear him called Josh.
I’m talking about names because I don’t have that much to say about this team. I like them on Total Divas — although let’s be honest, their relationship is too solid and loving to be the most entertaining part of that show — but as far as the Mixed Match Challenge, they haven’t done nearly as much to set up their partnership as most of the other teams. As far as I can find, it’s pretty much the Dirty Dancing video above, and a quick bit where they make fun of Team RoseGold.
I guess they know that lots fans already know them from Total Divas, and also when they have five minutes to themselves they’d probably rather do couple stuff than record a video in which Naomi teaches Jimmy her dance moves, and Jimmy teaches Naomi how to yell real loud.
Team RoseGold: They’re Shiny
Goldust and Mandy Rose have also had less buildup than some other teams, but they have the excuse of only having been together for a week. See, Goldust has two primary traits: He’s gold and he’s bizarre. So when his original partner, the bizarre Alicia Fox, was sidelined with a broken tailbone, it was up to the very golden Mandy Rose to step in.
Partnering with Goldust has given Mandy the opportunity to display more personality than we’ve seen so far on Monday Night Raw, where her job outside the ring is to stand next to Sonya Deville while Paige talks. It’s great that she’s getting this little bit of exposure, and the chance to work outside of the Absolution storyline. She’s still green, obviously, but she shows a hell of a lot of promise.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the hints of romance between the two of them. The 22-year age difference is one thing, but Goldust is such a weird cartoonish character at this point (and I say that as a fan of the guy), that all of his relationships are hard to figure out. He started out as a gay stereotype, then he was revealed to be secretly straight (or something like that), then I think he was bi for a while, and now he doesn’t really seem sexual at all. He just wants somebody to like him, whether it’s R-Truth or Mandy Rose. Still, however he identifies, the video above of Mandy teaching him how to pose is, pardon the expression, comedy gold.
The Match: Yes Anding
This is a full-on comedy match on a level we almost never see at WWE. If the men and women were allowed to fight each other, I’d think I was watching Chikara. It’s not just that the two teams perform escalating displays of affection until Jimmy rolls up Goldust as he’s going in for a kiss with Mandy. It’s that special referee Daniel Bryan doesn’t even count the pin and then objects to the attempt, as if there’s a rule in wrestling that says you can’t attempt to pin your opponent during an agreed-upon kissing contest.
I don’t mean to imply that the comedy was bad—it was actually a lot of fun to watch—I was just surprised to see this level of hijinks going on in a WWE ring, even after everything the Mixed Match Challenge has given us so far.
The first thing Mandy does when she gets in the ring is make fun of Naomi’s weave, which is literally the worst thing she could do, and Naomi reacts about like you’d expect (yes, there is kicking involved). I’m not a big fan of the spot where Naomi goes up in the corner and catches Mandy’s neck between her ankles like she’s about to do Ruby Riott’s Deadly Nightshade, but then instead of slamming her face into the turnbuckle Naomi just keeps her there and shakes her butt in Mandy’s face. It was one weird spot in an otherwise very entertaining match though, so I’m not bothered.
I was pleased that Goldust took the pin rather than his rookie partner. Not that anything that happens on Facebook Watch is likely to have real consequences, but that still feels like how it should work.
The Future: Some Singing, Probably.
Something new happened after the match this week, when Rusev and Lana came out to confront the winning team after the match. It’s kind of strange, since they won’t even have a match with Jimmy and Naomi unless both teams make it to the finals, which would involve Jimmy and Naomi beating Braun and Alexa in the meantime. But arguing over who’s the best married couple gives them an angle, and wow, the live crowds these days sure love seeing Rusev.
Next week, Rusev and Lana face (and presumably defeat) Bayley and Elias. My real question is whether Aiden English will be there to to sing Rusev and Lana out, and whether that will lead to a cross-brand encounter with his natural enemy Elias. What if there are dueling songs? After all the hugging and kissing this week, I’m ready to believe anything could happen in the Mixed Match Challenge.
I’m also interested to see Bayley in the ring with Lana, because Bayley can get a good match out of pretty much anybody if given half a chance. I really hope she doesn’t take the pin though. Elias may be more over than her right now, but you can get pinned by Rusev and still respect yourself in the morning. I’m not sure the same thing is true of Lana.
As for this week’s teams, Naomi and Jimmy Uso will be back in Week 8 to face Team LittleBig. Mandy Rose and Goldust, unlikely to win the Second Chance fan vote, will probably just go back to their lives. They did tease the possibility of doing more work together, which is something I’d be entirely in favor of.
That’s all for this week. Join us next time when the Hug and Guitar Express faces Team Ravishing Day.