29/02/2024

Picture: WWE

With Extreme Rules taking place this Sunday, Raw and Smackdown last week not only kept building towards the event, but also showcased past gimmicks potentially making a comeback for two superstars and two returns that no one saw coming.

Welcome to the WWE Weekly Round-up, where The Inner Sanctum will take you through last week’s most pivotal moments on WWE television and preview what shapes to be a huge week ahead.

Candice LeRae makes surprise return on Raw

Following the return of her husband, Johnny Gargano last month, Candice LeRae made her main roster debut on Raw and defeated Nikki A.S.H in quick fashion.

LeRae initially left the company after her previous contract with WWE expired in May, but now she looks to further boost an already-strong women’s division on the red brand.

While the former NXT superstar never obtained the brand’s top prize, she was still a Women’s Tag Team Champion along with Indi Hartwell. This could also mean that the latter’s debut is on the horizon, as the two could potentially challenge Damage CTRL down the line for their titles.

LeRae has already formed a relationship with Bianca Belair, Asuka and Alexa Bliss, as she stood up to Damage CTRL in a backstage confrontation. Compared to Friday Night Smackdown’s women’s division, Raw’s is far superior and has only been enhanced with the return of LeRae.

These two groups should now prominently feature in the women’s WarGames match at Survivor Series against each other, as the concept originally introduced in NXT will now be the centerpiece of this year’s main roster event.

After her loss to LeRae, Nikki A.S.H removed her mask in an indication that she could be set for a gimmick change and return to her former psychopath personality she displayed in NXT.

Bianca Belair vs Bayley set for Extreme Rules

After Bayley made the challenge to face Bianca Belair at Extreme Rules for the Raw Women’s Championship two weeks ago, the two had a war of words on Monday Night Raw before the E.S.T of WWE accepted.

However, the leader of Damage CTRL chose to raise the stakes and opted for a ladder match.

Both competitors threw verbal shots at each other to begin the show, as Bayley claimed that Belair has only succeeded due to her long-term absence and that the Raw Women’s Champion has been gifted multiple opportunities.

The E.S.T then refuted and said that she has earned her way, before referencing the time she beat Bayley in Hell in a Cell last year.

Belair then explained how Bayley needs help to dethrone her, which is why she received the services of IYO SKY and Dakota Kai to form Damage CTRL. Following the altercation, the champion challenged SKY to a match and was victorious.

Edge returns after time off and challenges Finn Balor for Extreme Rules

Following a disappointing loss to Matt Riddle to close Raw, Damien Priest and the Judgment Day were assaulting the Original Bro until Edge made his return, two weeks after having his leg taken out by the group.

Although the return was unexpected, it made sense for the Rated-R Superstar to arrive in his home country of Canada. He was able to fend off the Judgment Day and stated that while the faction has been trying to take him out, he still finds a way to come back.

While it was suspected that Edge would be out for the medium-term, he reappeared just in time for Extreme Rules and issued a challenge to Finn Balor. The Rated-R Superstar asked Balor to compete against him at this week’s Premium Live Event in an “I Quit” match.

This will be the first time Balor and Edge collide one-on-one.

It is a dream match in the eyes of many WWE fans and it will all come to fruition at Extreme Rules, in a clash that should conclude the prolonged rivalry.

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Max Dupri teases LA Knight comeback

Three months after the introduction of Maximum Male Models, Max Dupri abandoned his creation on Friday Night Smackdown after members, ma.cé & månsôör failed to impress him in the ring.

The founder of the group was becoming frustrated with the team’s lack of success and how they were solely focusing on their posing and appearances.

Maximum Male Models was something the old administration devised and the fans knew it was in real danger of collapsing after Triple H took creative control of WWE.

Max Dupri’s character in NXT was under Triple H’s watch and LA Knight was a fan favourite, the latter now looks to be on the horizon to return following his departure from Maximum Male Models.

It can also be said that Smackdown need one more midcard talent, joining a division of people such as Ricochet, Sami Zayn, Sheamus and Madcap Moss.

The LA Knight character in NXT also proved how he can portray both a heel and face, adding some flexibility to potential storylines and matches. If the gimmick were to make a comeback, it would more than likely begin as a babyface since Dupri left a heel group.

Sheamus receives brutal assault before Intercontinental Title rematch this week

On this week’s season premiere of Smackdown, Gunther will be defending his Intercontinental Championship against Sheamus in a rematch from Clash at the Castle. The Ring General and Celtic Warrior will look to replicate their match in Cardiff which was debatably the best of the night.

In the lead-up to the match, Imperium on Smackdown spoke about how Gunther will retain his title this week before all three beat The Brawling Brutes in their good old-fashioned donnybrook match at Extreme Rules. However, Sheamus interrupted and while he was without Ridge Holland and Butch, still wanted to fight his rivals.

Both parties then engaged in a brawl and the Celtic Warrior had the upperhand early, with the assistance of a shillelagh. However, the number’s game caught up with Sheamus as Imperium laid out a three-on-one assault.

They all then returned to the ring after leaving and Gunther hit Sheamus with the shillelagh, when the Celtic Warrior wasn’t too phased by Imperium’s first assault.

The match between the Ring General and Celtic Warrior this should be a classic, with the former most definitely retaining his Intercontinental Championship.

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