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High Spots: RK-Bro seems to be back just in time to vie for the Raw Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam! Randy Orton can be all nonchalant about this unlikely pairing all he wants, but he knows a title win is in their near future. I got a kick out of Orton trying to dismiss him and Riddle’s partnership (that “buzz” line was a nice wink and a nod, right?). Plus AJ Styles continues to use the slang term “cap” and explain it, which is hilarious to me since it’s coming from a guy that swears he’s “down.” That funny promo led to a good main event between Orton and Styles, which then resulted in a post-match RKO to Riddle. That certainly came off as Orton trying to teach Riddle a lesson about “keeping one’s eyes on the back of his head at all times,” which will hopefully prepare him when the time comes for him and Orton to head into battle against AJ and Omos.
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Botches: As I sat with my face in my hand throughout the rest of this slog of a Raw, I thought to myself “at least the SmackDown half of SummerSlam is gonna be fire!” Cause man, the Raw portion of that upcoming PPV show has been built up in the most boring way possible and has me fully prepared to tune out during most of its matches. The build to those matches in question continued to be unmemorable, sadly. Bobby Lashley got on the mic to threaten Goldberg and his son, which only made me daydream about how much better off the WWE Champion would be if he was talking down to Brock Lesnar for their dream match instead. Ricochet looked like a complete buffoon after headbutting the very same mask Sheamus wore that hurt him earlier in a match after he punched it. I’ve lost a bit of my excitement for Sheamus vs. Damian Priest at SummerSlam since it a. happened already on free TV and b. Priest’s water-squirting retaliation towards John Morrison killed a bit of his cool factor in my eyes.
Baron Corbin showed up to remind everyone that WWE doesn’t give a shit about the Brand Split. He proceeded to beg for money and get demolished by Drew McIntyre, which did nothing but convince me that McIntyre kinda came off like a douchebag for his antics here. 50/50 booking reared its ugly head again as Karrion Kross finally overcame Jeff Hardy, but it didn’t really do him any favors since he still has the funk of that cheap roll-up loss and his major L to Keith Lee. Alexa Bliss’ stupid ass doll blinked and caused Piper Niven to succumb to an equally stupid ass rollup pin. Mustafa Ali and T-Bar competed in a three-minute waste of time, Reggie’s 24/7 Championship shenanigans made me yawn, and Elias’ promo did nothing for me. Nikki A.S.H. continues to look like an undeserving champion as she only managed to eke out a disqualification victory in her match against Rhea Ripley. Seems like the only one being made to look strong during this three-way feud is Charlotte Flair (no surprise there).
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High Spots: While there may be a lot of uncertainty regarding the future direction of our beloved NXT, this episode kept on rolling to the next TakeOver. Since Ember Moon wasn’t cleared for competition, the relatively new Japanese import Sarray stepped in to take her spot against Dakota Kai. Both women ended up having a pretty good opener. It was a bit strange to see Sarray booked to lose so early in her early NXT run, however. Think they could have found someone else to take the L to Kai if ya ask me. We got a bit of NXT UK action here as Pete Dunne, Ilja Dragunov, and Walter found themselves in each other’s crosshairs. Those three men scare the ever-loving shit outta me, which is why I feel so comfortable watching them tear each other apart on screen. I love, love, LOVED the main event between Dunne and Dragunov! Since Dunne won, he’s totally getting added to the NXT UK Championship match at TakeOver 36…right?
Watching Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis go on their first date warmed my cold little heart. Seeing the manner in which Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae reacted to their young stablemate’s romantic endeavors reminded me of my parents’ reaction to my Junior High School prom attendance. Even though Lumis got planted in the face with some delicious cake, he got an even sweeter smooch at the end of the date. ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR LOVE! LA Knight and Cameron Grimes are now officially booked for the next TakeOver and I’m placing all my bets on Grimes getting the W. This has been one of the few storylines I’ve been super engrossed in during the past few months of NXT’s summer run. Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly are going the Two-Out-of-Three-Falls feud ender route and I’m preparing myself to watch another classic between the two. And depending on the rumors, this may end up being Cole’s final WWE performance. That air of uncertainty surrounding that much-anticipated match has me excited as all hell!
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Botches: What was up with all the squash matches on this episode? It gave me super WWF Superstars of Wrestling vibes. The squashes weren’t bad or anything – they were just unfulfilling and uncharacteristic when you think of your usual match quality on an episode of NXT. And you guys know how much my skin crawls every time (S)Hit Row makes an appearance, so you can already guess how much I hated their little Lucha mask burning stunt.
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/XmTLOHRyfz4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hedAEW Dynamite</code>
High Spots: I’ll have to give this episode of Dynamite one of those lackadaisical thumbs-up gestures that Orange Cassidy always does. Now there was some good sprinkled throughout this show, especially the opener. That six-man tag started off on a decent note, then it added some much-needed fire to the whole affair thanks to the star-making performance by Dante Martin. The youngest active member of the AEW roster rose to the occasion and produced a hot streak full of high-flying moves. Kudos to everyone involved and shout out to Martin for raising his stock here. So we found out two big matches have been booked – Kenny Omega will defend the Impact World Championship against Christian Cage in the opener on the first episode of Rampage (which I’ll be covering in here from now on), plus The Young Bucks will defend the AEW World Tag Team Championship against the Jurassic Express on the next episode of Dynamite. Wonder if we’re getting surprise title changes from those two bouts?
Another match that got announced on this show and it will take place at the All Out PPV – Pac will defend the honor of his Death Triangle brothers by taking on Andrade El Idolo. I’m all the way in for that one! The other trios match on this show was a fun sprint, too. Private Party got to do their thing (which hasn’t happened in a good while), Matt Hardy & Orange Cassidy got into a funny “pocket exchange,” and the action moved at a wild pace (which I actually enjoy more than most). Darby Allin and Daniel Garcia had a pretty competitive match that I also found to be worthwhile. It’s pretty nuts that the team formerly known as Ever-Rise got released by WWE and now find themselves getting booked in a match with Sting just a few weeks later. Quite the upgrade there, huh?
We got a few interesting segments that kept the ball rolling for some ongoing feuds – Malakai Black delivered a killer promo about his destruction of Cody Rhodes, Santana & Ortiz made it clear that they want to run it back with FTR, and Brian Cage & Ricky Starks are set to have another “meeting” real soon. The best promo segment of all came when Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. came out to hype up her match with Red Velvet on Rampage and got a hero’s welcome from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania crowd. Speaking of those two ladies, the women got some good shine on this episode. Kris Statlander got a big win over Nyla Rose in a short yet still pleasing affair. So are we getting Baker vs. Statlander at All Out? I’d be perfectly fine with that match. The Dark Order tandem of Evil Uno & Stu Grayson are awesome and deserve a big win at some point. They worked their asses off against the dreadfully boring Good Brothers, which is a feat unto itself. I wouldn’t mind seeing Uno & Grayson take an AEW hiatus and head over to Impact for a little while.
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Botches: I really wish AEW would stop trying to make QT Marshall a thing. While it was cool seeing Big Show lumber out and deliver one of his signature chokeslams to pop the crowd, I didn’t need to see it happen due to QT continuing his nothing feud with Tony Schiavone. We’re probably gonna get a squash match between QT and Big Show at All Out. Just put that one on the Buy In, Tony! Now I love Wardlow, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of his main event match with Chris Jericho. I started to tune out after the fourth or fifth powerbomb got delivered to Jericho, plus the overall slow pace of the match had me staring down at my phone. Jericho got the expected win and his match with MJF is now taking place…on the next episode of Dynamite? I figured that match was a lock for All Out. Well, I don’t care for it anyway so it doesn’t matter when & where it happens. I think I’m over all the basketball skits with the Young Bucks. Good lord was that backstage exchange with Jurassic Express lame as hell! And while I appreciate the synergy between AEW and NWA, Kamille’s dry-ass promo skills almost put me into a deep slumber.
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High Spots: You might be shocked to hear this, but Josh Alexander is a pretty darn good professional wrestler. He showcased his immense skill set against Daivari in a solid match, then engaged in an intense staredown with Jake Something after he nabbed the W. If there’s one match I foresee taking MOTN honors at Emergence, it’s that one! It was pretty surreal watching former TNA Wrestling GOAT Christian Cage get featured once again in the company that proved how valuable he truly is. Just one night before he and Kenny Omega square off for the Impact World Championship on the first episode of AEW Rampage, Impact showed off some pre-match vignettes to show everyone just how important their match is. Shout out to Melina – she talked a big game during her backstage promo and is slated to compete on the next episode of Impact. Can’t wait to see the master of splits back in action!
We got some NJPW Resurgence event hype via a tag team match between FinJuice and Jay White & Chris Bey. I was locked in for this one and it didn’t disappoint. The DQ ending played right into White and Finlay’s upcoming NEVER Openweight Championship match at the NJPW US show, so I wasn’t that mad at it. I hope to see Bey get booked on that show as well. So we got two major shockers tonight that just so happened to be tied to two dudes who used to go by the name of the Major Brothers. Ya boy’s a living, breathing trove of wrestling trivia! John Skyler scored a shocking victory over Matt Cardona, which totally set him up for a GCW World Championship match in the near future and hopefully a permanent spot on the Impact roster. Then during the show ending battle royal, Brain Myers surprisingly nabbed the win and earned himself a shot at the Impact World Championship. I can’t see Myers sniffing a run with Impact’s top prize, but at least he’ll produce a good match with whoever’s the champion by the time Emergence rolls around (him vs. Omega could be a treat!).
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Botches: I love me some Taylor Wilde, boy! But Tenille Dashwood and the returning Madison Rayne get nothing but yawns from me. Shame my girl Widle had to take an L to those two after such a meh matchup. Kiera Hogan’s beatdown by the demented Su Yung and her new demented disciple in Kimber Lee was of no importance to me, honestly.
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High Spots: Roman Reigns and John Cena may have delivered the promo segment of the year. Reigns roasted Cena about his act being as basic as the “missionary position” and it being the reason why Nikki Bella left his ass. Then Cena responded in kind with some verbal lava of his own and even made a crack that alluded to CM Punk’s escape with the WWE Championship back at Money in the Bank 2011. I was already excited about their SummerSlam matchup, but now I’m even MORE thrilled to see it unfold thanks to that fire opening faceoff. You gotta feel a little bad for Apollo Crews – the man switched up his gimmick to embrace his Nigerian heritage, captured the Intercontinental Championship, and enjoyed a nice couple of months near the start as he feuded with Big E. Then Crews went on to do nothing of note with the title, was barely featured on SmackDown, and ended up losing more than he won even though he was champion. Fast forward to tonight and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Crews for the IC Championship after a pretty good match. Crews’ title reign ultimately flamed out and ended up being a D+ effort. Now let’s see if the “King of Friday Nights” can have a halfway decent title reign.
Seth Rollins and Edge continued to add more fuel to their SummerSlam fire on this episode. We got a pretty cool video package that made a good case for Rollins being a much better version of Edge whose accomplishments are bigger than his. Rollins’ spicy talk and the long history between him & Edge did a fine job of keeping their highly anticipated SummerSlam match at the front of everyone’s minds. “Broke Ass” Baron Corbin locked up with Kevin Owens for a better-than-expected bout. Owens always has his working boots on, plus Corbin can be a pleasure to watch when pitted against certain opponents. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed their match, for sure. And at the end of this show, Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks came outfitted in their finest drip for an intense contract signing. By the looks of it, Banks may have a stable in the works alongside Carmella and Zelina Vega that could prove to be fun. The final image of Banks torturing the WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion with a Banks Statement on top of a table is worthy of being my new wallpaper!
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Botches: The tag team division continues to be as stale as ever. We got the same four teams competing against each other yet again, which made me long for some fresh NXT call-ups in the form of the Grizzled Young Veterans and Legado Del Fantasma’s Joaquín Wilde & Raul Mendoza. I just can’t find it in me to care about anything the Mysterio’s, Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode, The Street Profits, and the Alpha Academy are up to these days. It feels like I’ve watched every combination of those teams wrestle against each other to the point of ad nauseam. And whatever the hell WWE is doing with Corbin’s MITB briefcase theft against Big E already has me groaning in disgust…
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High Spots: You know what I can’t get enough of? One-hour wrestling shows. They get straight to the point by booking three or four big matches, keep things simple as far as storyline progression goes, and usually allow all of the in-ring action to get the time they need to amaze the crowd. The very first episode of Rampage adopted those very same elements and worked them to perfection. Kenny Omega and Christian Cage produced a great opening match that had the crowd in the palm of their hands. The finish was shocking and the end result gave us Christian becoming Impact World Champion. My jaw dropped at the sight of him holding up the title belts from a company he once ruled over during the mid to late 2000s. Now I can’t wait to see Omega & Christian get even more time to deliver an amazing match at All Out!
Fuego Del Sol actually had me rooting for a win against “God’s Favorite Champion” Miro, which is something I never thought I’d do. That TNT Championship sprint was the perfect example of giving the smaller man just enough offense and near falls to pull the crowd in and make them believe an upset is about to happen. Miro destroyed Sol after everything was said and done, but we still got a happy ending – Tony Khan sent Sammy Guevara out to let his best friend know that he’s now #AllElite. And in the main event, the hometown hero Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D successfully defended her AEW Women’s World Championship against a very game Red Velvet. The crowd was hot all night and they especially went crazy for Baker once she got the submission win. Now Baker vs. Kris Statlander looks to be a shoo-in for All Out. And Baker has some much more reliable backup named Jamie Hayter in her corner, so things are getting quite interesting in that regard. GREAT DEBUT EPISODE!
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…
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High Spots: 2021 continues to be the most mind-blowing year in wrestling! So the Lucha Libre giant known as AAA put on their version of WrestleMania. That event (Triplemania XXIX) featured some familiar faces in the form of the Lucha Bros (Fénix and Pentagón Jr.), Deonna Purrazzo, Andrade El Ídolo, and Kenny Omega. And we got some major headlines coming out of that show, of course – the Lucha Bros captured the AAA World Tag Team Championship, Purrazzo became double champion as she won the AAA Reina de Reinas title, and Omega successfully defended his AAA Mega Championship against Andrade. The craziest moment of all came when WWE’s released “Nature Boy” Ric Flair showed up to accompany Andrade to the ring! Plus he actually got to get physical as he chopped the hell out of Omega and locked in his Figure-Four Leg Lock on Konnan! Pure madness this event was.
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Once AAA’s super-sized match card wrapped up, NJPW followed it up soon after with its US Resurgence show. And a lotta crazy shit happened there, too! The match quality was definitely up there, especially due to Tomihiro Ishii and Moose’s MOTY candidate-worthy banger. New Japan Strong got announced for a few live event dates that will occur in the fall, Yuji Nagata tagged up with Jon Moxley, the Guerrillas of Destiny showed up to confront The Good Brothers, and Jay White retained his NEVER Openweight Championship & teased showing up in AEW. I’m sure everyone’s jaws dropped when WILL OSPREAY SHOWED UP! The man called Shingo Takagi a pussy, told the fans that he’d remain in the US for the time being, and made it clear that he’d defend his own IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on NJPW Strong. Wow…just wow. And to end the show, Hiroshi Tanahashi shocked the world as he relinquished Lance Archer of his IWGP United States Championship. All in all, NJPW Resurgence was a show with good to great wrestling and newsworthy moments to boot.
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…