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NXT: Welcome Four Horsewomen’s Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir

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Mixed martial arts fans who have followed the Four Horsewomen – Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Shayna Baszler – had some good news this week.

WWE announced they had signed Duke and Shafir and they will report to the Performance Center. Fans who have followed Duke and Shafir know their combat sports journeys – “The Gun,” was a castmate on “The Ultimate Fighter 18” and has fought in Invicta Fighting Championship and UFC. Shafir comes from an accomplished judo background and competed in mixed martial arts. 

Both Rousey and Baszler are currently signed to WWE. Rousey made her debut at Wrestlemania, teaming up with Raw General Manager to defeat Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. She is currently on the Raw roster.

Baszler is competing in NXT and currently rules the women’s division as its champion.

As someone who has followed the careers of these four athletes, it’s cool to see all of them in WWE at the same time. The group has a strong fan base and all four women are accomplished athletes in their own right.

Fans and critics have speculated a Four Horsewomen reunion for quite some time, all the way back to when they confronted the Four Horsewomen of NXT during the Mae Young Classic.

The stars point to an eight-woman tag team match between the two groups, which could be a lot of fun, especially in the build up.

That said, fans shouldn’t be upset if WWE doesn’t team them all together right off the bat. If may be some time before the Universe sees all of them competing alongside each other. And before any 4HW fans get upset, the original Four Horsemen didn’t start out together, they were thrown together for a tag team promo because of time constraints.

With Duke and Shafir reporting to the Performance Center, it appears they will go to NXT before they move to the main roster – and contrary to what critics and fans may believe, it is not a demotion and anyone who watches NXT will tell you that.

Although NXT is a developmental territory, it has the best wrestling program on WWE TV – especially given that it has had three five-star matches so far in 2018.

NXT will be a great start for both Duke and Shafir as they will have a lot of time to learn the ropes – pun intended – and develop their craft. There is a mix of veteran and upcoming talent they could face as they work their way up the division.

There are different ways NXT creative could bring them onto the stage.

NXT fans already know Shafir as the future Mrs. Roderick Strong, bhat doesn’t mean she has to be the Elizabeth to his Macho Man. Say the Undisputed Era decides they want to add the NXT Women’s Championship to their trophy case and Strong says he knows this “badass woman who could dominate the division” and in walks in Marina Shafir.

Down the road if fans see Strong vs. Johnny Gargano, they could witness Shafir take on Candice LeRae.

For Duke, she starts out competing in the 2018 Mae Young Classic and works her way to the top. She finds herself in a program against Kairi Sane, saying she’ll actually make something of the Mae Young Classic.  

Eventually both Duke and Shafir challenge for the NXT Women’s Championship – they could potentially face Baszler or each other.

Again, these are only a couple of scenarios and I understand that they have the end game of Shafir or Duke taking on Baszler for the NXT Women’s title. Some fans are thinking “You’re out of your mind, they’ll never fight each other.”

The point is, both Duke and Shafir have the potential to go far in NXT and make it on their own merits.

It will be interesting to see how both Duke and Shafir progress in their new journey.

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Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery

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NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa has undergone successful neck surgery this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, according to WWE.

Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.

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Ricochet to be Featured on RAW and SmackDown for Time Being

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NXT superstar Ricochet made his surprising main roster debut last week during RAW and his debut on SmackDown the following night, and at least until after WrestleMania 35, he will be featured on both shows.

“I will be on RAW and SmackDown going forward,” Ricochet said, according to WPSD Local 6. “At least until after ‘Mania. After ‘Mania it’s gonna be one or the other, I’m assuming, I don’t know. But, that’s what I’m assuming. But yes, going forward, I am now an official member of RAW and/or SmackDown.”

In celebration of his ascension to the main roster, over 60 of his friends and family held a surprise party to commemorate the milestone.

“This [surprise party] was beyond amazing, It was awesome, Ricochet recalled.

“I got to see family, friends, people I haven’t seen in a long time. I was honestly surprised when I walked in, this was great. It just makes you happy to see that many people care. Whether it is close friends you have known since you were three years old, or people maybe you have never met, it is just cool that you can inspire so many people. Doesn’t matter where you are from, you can live your dream.”

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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 18, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, they opened the show by saying that a bunch of NXT superstars will make their debuts on the show. This list included Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, Tomasso Ciampa, and Ricochet. While Gargano, Ciampa, and Ricochet all made their debuts through tag matches, Aleister Black got his singles debut against Elias. It was a solid match which Black won, and helped establish him as a threat for the future.

For Smackdown, we got to see Ricochet’s singles debut and it was great. He defeated Eric Young in a few minutes. His athleticism and high flying ability is entertaining to watch from start to beginning. Hopefully, he makes his way up to the top quickly because he is one the best things going forward for WWE.

The Bad

For Raw, the segment between Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery felt like a waste of time. During an interview with Heavy Machinery, Evans came out, walked up and down the entrance aisle, then made Heavy Machinery do it. They did so and then the segment ended. This literally felt like WWE just threw that in there to kill time for their show.

For Smackdown, while we finally got to see Asuka on Smackdown since the Royal Rumble, we still have yet to see R-Truth for the past few weeks. It really feels like WWE just flat out doesn’t care about the United States Championship at all.

The Final Verdict

With Elimination Chamber done and Fastlane the next PPV up, WWE needed to ramp the focus to that. With the sudden announcement of NXT superstars making their debuts this week, there was some confusion within WWE’s storytelling. For example, Bobby Lashley for some reason helped out Baron Corbin in his match against Braun Strowman at Elimination Chamber. But, when it came to Corbin’s tables match against Strowman to start Raw, he was nowhere to be found. With that said, I will have to say that Smackdown had the better show this week too. We got build up for Fastlane main event as well as other matches on that PPV. While Raw, still is trying to figure out what to do for that show.

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