Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: August 16-August 22


High Spots: You know what I just realized? The RK-Bro and AJ Styles/Omos feud has been single-handedly carrying this show on its back in recent weeks. Riddle’s continued campaign to get Randy Orton to join him as his tag team partner has been fun to watch, AJ Styles’ discovery of the Urban Dictionary’s explanation of “Cap” has been hilarious, and the strong match quality produced by Riddle has made past episodes of Raw slightly more tolerable to get through. That was the exact case here once again as Riddle and Orton had a good opening promo segment, which was followed up by a solid Riddle vs. AJ matchup. Later in the show, Orton tried his hand at taking down the enormous Omos. Their match may have ended in a lame DQ finish, but it played right into the ongoing story. Riddle finally earned Orton’s respect, which caused him to accept his offer to assemble RK-Bro and challenge AJ & Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam. This whole package deal brought a tear to my eye, fam!

Botches: As for the rest of this episode of Raw, it was pure monkey manure. I lost all interest in the Nikki A.S.H./Charlotte Flair/Rhea Ripley weeks ago, so watching A.S.H. continue to be made to look like a loser didn’t even make me budge. Plus the post-match beatdown on Charlotte did little to regain my interest in their match at SummerSlam. The tag team match that happened later on the show with those three women was also a complete eyesore thanks to the unfortunate inclusion of Nia Jax. Someone needs to bring out the Wrap It Up Box on this whole A.S.H. superhero gimmick ASAP – the woman can’t even buy a win, her promos are god awful now, and she’s been made to look like a joke ever since she won the title. Reggie, R-Truth, and Akira Tozawa engaged in some unfunny 24/7 Championship hijinks, so what else is new? And the worst feud in all of WWE just kept on rolling along as Piper Niven went looking for Alexa Bliss’ evil doll. All it got her was two slaps to the face from Eva Marie for her troubles. My UK wrestling queen Niven deserves so much better…

Drew McIntyre’s sleep-inducing beef with Jinder Mahal saw him get involved in a Handicap Match with his two oversized goons. The whole sword being involved in this whole ordeal is lame as all hell and I have no interest in watching Jinder “Rest Hold” Mahal bore the Las Vegas crowd to tears during his SummerSlam match with McIntyre. MizTV…wait excuse me, “Moist TV” (good lord…) saw some dissension between The Miz and John Morrison. Their little quarrel led to a nothing match between The Miz and Damian Priest, which Priest won of course. Then Sheamus came out afterward to hype up their United States Championship match at SummerSlam. WWE has caused me to become less interested in seeing that bout take place since it happened already and has been hampered by a shitty buildup ever since. Mace and Mansoor wrestled for two minutes…didn’t care though, which hurts me to say since I love Mansoor! 

Karrion Kross is still attempting to get his heat back as he tapped out Jeff Hardy in mere seconds. But you guys already know I think Kross is the drizzling shits, so everything he’s involved in is terrible. Elias did a thing at the cemetery, which marks the continuation of a gimmick change that no one could pay to give a shit about. And finally, Goldberg came out to harp on all that tired BS about wanting his son to watch him wrestle at SummerSlam (which doesn’t make a whole lotta sense since his son has seen him wrestle plenty of times already). I’m so ready to watch Bobby Lashley destroy the most boring senior citizen in wrestling with a few Spears in two minutes or less. And to think, the world was clamoring for Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar. And all we got was an underserved WWE Championship opportunity being handed to ‘Oldberg at the biggest summer wrestling card of the summer. For shame, WWE. For shame…


High Spots: The final NXT before the next TakeOver knocked it out of the park as far as hyping up the event and simultaneously delivering an enjoyable night of wrestling. Even (S)Hit Row didn’t annoy me to death this time around since they got embroiled in a parking lot brawl with Legado del Fantasma instead of delivering one of their usual cringeworthy promos. Ilja Dragunov got a bit of his heat back before his big NXT UK Championship match with Walter by having a banger of a match with Roderick Strong. Ilja’s “crimson mask” made this match even better if ya ask me! Is it just me or has the Diamond Mine concept already been relegated to nothing but an afterthought? Two of its members have already taken losses since debuting, which is why I’ve been feeling that way lately.

I always love watching the high production values and story recaps associated with NXT’s Prime Target video packages – thank God we got one for Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole’s upcoming Two-Out-of-Three-Falls Match. So my gut is telling me this will be Cole’s final match in WWE and we’ll see him pull up to “Tony Khan Land” soon enough. LA Knight continued to be a wealthy savage as he tore into his butler Cameron Grimes and Ted Dibiase after Grimes scored a quick win over Josh Briggs. The dude is a natural scumbag and Grimes has morphed into a sympathetic babyface, so the perfect dynamic between both men has worked like a charm from the jump. Io Shirai still ain’t rockin’ with her NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship partner Zoey Stark, but I foresee Shirai coming around to the idea of them being friends soon enough. Ay, shout out Indi Hartwell for the line of the night – “Oh, he loved it. He even had room for pie.” YAS SIS, YASSSSSSSS! I even enjoyed InDex’s little tag-team exhibition and I damn sure cheered my ass off when Indi proposed to her mute lover. THEY’RE ENGAGED, GUYS!

The NXT Breakout Tournament Semifinal between Carmelo Hayes and Duke Hudson was a bit sloppy in parts, but it still ended up being a solid affair once it came to a close. MSK and Imperium had a pretty good match that also heated up the war between Walter and Ilja. Raquel Gonzalez and her former bestie Dakota Kai talked real spicy to each other, which did its job of adding a bit of extra steam to their TakeOver title match. My boy Ridge Holland is back in action and now he wants every piece of Timothy Thatcher, which has me chomping at the bit to watch unfold. And finally, Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross brought this episode to a fiery close as they talked shit to each other and had a legendary brawl that saw Kross spear Joe right through security & a guardrail. As you can clearly tell, I was highly entertained by this airing of NXT!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: A hot crowd can make any wrestling show feel like WrestleMania. That was damn sure the case during this exemplary episode of Dynamite. The Houston, Texas audience in attendance for this show was hot all night and made every segment come off like the biggest moment in the world. Speaking of moments, many blessings and good fortune to Sammy Guevara! He proposed to his boo thang before the show and got a yes, which made him even hotter when he came out to face Shawn Spears. And to my surprise, they had a damn good match! Spears was in fine form here as a major prick as he taunted Sammy’s fiance, brutalized him, and even kicked out of his 630 Senton. Sammy ended up nabbing the win (with a few droplets of blood left on him and his opponent) and immediately showed some love to his future wife.

The opening of this episode was the best part of all, though. While Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston prepared to enter the ring through the crowd, they were assaulted by 2.0 and Daniel Garcia. This sudden beatdown led to Sting and Darby Allin coming out to start their Texas Tornado tag team match much earlier than expected. My jaw dropped when Sting got planted through a table, immediately got up to his feet to beat his chest triumphantly, and KO’d 2.0 with a double Scorpion Death Drop! The double Scorpion Death Lock that followed afterward capped that match off wonderfully. The Young Bucks and Jurassic Express ended up having the MOTN and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The near falls that came into play here really made me think Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus had the titles in their grasp, but plenty of outside distractions killed their title dreams. They have another chance at becoming the #1 contenders again thanks to a new tag team tournament for a shot at All Out in a Steel Cage. But my gut is telling me The Lucha Bros. are the better options for such a hot match.

I tend not to care about anything QT Marshall is involved in, but I genuinely enjoyed all his back and forth shit talking with Paul Wight. I didn’t think I’d see one of Wight’s ass cheeks, but here we are. QT poked the big bear far too much and now he’s set to face him at All Out. I’m definitely down to see Wight squash QT in five minutes or less with a chokeslam or two. Dan Lambert came out to talk some shit of his own again (ay that man is a really strong promo. He retained all that awesome promo work from his Impact Wrestling run, I see!). Never thought I’d ever see former UFC Heavyweight Champions Junior Dos Santos and Andrei Arlovski in a wrestling ring, let alone an AEW ring. Lance Archer came out to face them, but he got jumped by Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page before he could even enter the ring. Seems like Lambert will manage those two in his beef with Archer, which I’m perfectly fine with.

We got a lot of storyline developments on this episode that I was a fan of, too – Brain Cage still has Ricky Starks dead in his sights, Pac & Andrade’s match is continuing down its warpath, Arn Anderson’s son has a future match date with Malakai Black, Dante Martin is making big moves, Moxley delivered a passionate promo about his next victi…excuse me, opponent, and Jade Cargill did the same. Thunder Rosa had a pretty solid match with Penelope Ford that featured some slick submission work. Might be time for Rosa and Britt Baker to run it back again at All Out! And finally, the crowd sang Chris Jericho’s song as expected as he made his way to the ring for his final labor against MJF. That super hot crowd was into everything both men did and so was I. It told a logical story of MJF aiming for Jericho’s weakened arm and Jericho doing everything in his power to overcome his most hated foe. MJF got the win after competing in a simple yet concise matchup that delivered the best aspects of both new & old school wrestling.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: In the year of our Lord of Peeps, Christian Cage actually resurfaced in Impact Wrestling. My mind has been blown several times in 2021 thanks to the “Forbidden Door” and it continues to be this way as we reach the colder months of the year. Christian did us all a favor here by retiring the unnecessary TNA World Heavyweight Championship for good. So now he can focus on defending his newly won Impact World Championship against Brian Myers. Funny how Christian is about to compete in a match with one of Edge’s former “Edgeheads”.

At the start of this episode, we witnessed a pretty intense brawl that involved W. Morrissey, Eddie Edwards, and Sami Callihan. Then right after the opening credits rolled, we transitioned into a hot tag team match that included Sami, Chris Sabin, Ace Austin, and Moose. Sami’s post-victory piledriver on Sabin makes me think we’re due for a match between the two real soon, which should be an enjoyable watch. Plus Sami and Eddie’s past issues still have them at odds, which makes all the sense in the world.

The current GCW World Champion Matt Cardona scored himself a win against Shera in a decent outing. And later on in the show, Jake Something continued to keep his mean streak alive as he plowed Kaleb With A K through a table with a devastating spear. I can’t friggin’ wait to see Jake go 15+ minutes with Josh Alexander at Emergence, fam! And to finish this episode off, Doc Gallows and Joe Doering had themselves the type of match that wouldn’t look out of place in a movie filled with raging Kaijus. The biggest moment from that main event saw Gallows plant Doering through the entrance ramp with a sick Sky High (SHOUT OUT TO MY D’LO BROWN, BTW!). Once they got back into the ring and stood on their own two feet, Gallows ended up on the receiving end of a nasty Lariat as he came flying off the top rope. Hell of a finish there, gentleman!

Botches: Johnny Swinger’s resurgence in Impact Wrestling has led to me being stone-faced every time he’s onscreen trying to peddle his shitty attempts at comedy. So you can already imagine how much I hated his presence during Madison Rayne’s backstage talk show segment. As a matter of fact, I didn’t care for the segment as a whole since Rayne and Tenille Dashwood means next to nothing to me at this point in time. I was expecting Melina Perez to come out on this episode and show everyone that she still has it, but I was a bit let down in that regard since her short showcase against Brandi Lauren came off a bit…meh. I just hope she gets back on her A-game when the time comes for her to face Deonna Purrazzo at NWA NWA EmPowerrr.

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: To the surprise of no one, SmackDown’s two biggest SummerSlam matches made one final push towards the big show and both knocked it out of the park. Roman Reigns and John Cena closed the show with another intense promo that was equal parts truth and kayfabe storyline development. Reigns promised he would leave WWE if he loses to Cena, but lord knows that’s never going to happen. Both men have talked fans into the Allegiant Stadium and me onto my couch in front of my TV once they come to blows once again. Side note – I laughed my ass off when Reigns mentioned how Cena said a bunch of dumb stuff the week prior and only had the crowd’s support ‘cause he said it with energy. As for Edge and Seth Rollins, we ended up getting two final promos from the two as they head towards their SummerSlam destination. To top it all off, Edge went full “Brood” mode and doused Rollins in a classic “Broodbath.” I’m a wrestling boomer, so you already know I popped extra hard for that moment!

While I can’t find it in me to care about the tag team division on SmackDown, I had every reason to care about Rey Mysterio getting in the ring to take on Jey Uso. Dem boys have some good chemistry with each other, huh? No clue why they keep teasing a Dominik Mysterio heel turn, but whatever I guess. So Rick Boogs surprised the hell outta me during his tag team match alongside Shinsuke Nakamura against Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez! The dude pulled off some pretty dope suplexes and showed a lotta promise. It was sad to see Crews eat another pin, but I’ve already given up on WWE truly capitalizing on the guy’s immense talent. And finally, Otis continues to be one of my favorite super brutes in WWE. Watching him bully Montez Ford and treat him like a toddler put a smile on my face.

Botches: Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin had the sort of match that was clearly meant to keep a storyline going instead of being a hotly contested contest. I’m really not digging Corbin’s whole “I’m the new Repo Man and stole the MITB briefcase” deal right now, but I always enjoy watching him wallow in his sadness & depleted bank accounts. Get your property back ASAP, Big E! The Women’s Tag Team Championship scene doesn’t interest me one bit, so you can already guess how much I didn’t care for the match between Natalya & Tamina and Shotzi & Nox. The champs got beat by a roll-up pin, so now the challengers have a title shot in their future. Yay…anyways, Bianca Belair easily ran through Zelina Vega and Carmella in an act that showed just how weak the women’s division is on the Blue Brand. Let’s just get to SummerSlam already so Bianca and Sasha Banks can give us that 6-star match we’re all expecting! 

AEW Rampage

High Spots: I sat down in front of my TV for this extra special episode of Rampage expecting the return of Chicago’s favorite son. For weeks and weeks, I feared that all the T-Shirt teases and breadcrumbs left all over Wrestling Twitter would result in nothing but disappointment. Thankfully, Tony Khan and company delivered what the entire wrestling world was anticipating. Ladies and gentlemen, CM Punk…is back. As soon as the show began, the opening guitar riff to “Cult of Personality” kicked in and blew the roof off the United Center. Grown men cried, Punk launched himself into his adoring fans, and the atmosphere was simply electric. Punk’s promo touched on the fact that he left wrestling back in 2005 with ROH, which implied that he entered the world of sports entertainment soon after. But now that he’s with AEW, he’s back in the profession that made him a star. His first challenge is Darby Allin and that match is now set for All Out. What a hell of a PPV debut!

After I came down from my CM Punk high, I watched the rest of Rampage and was quite pleased with what was provided. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus put on quite the tag team banger against Private Party. Both teams took it to the limit and unleashed some insane moves, such as that top-rope Canadian Destroyer and that Springboard Shooting Star Press to the outside (Luchasaurus totally flopped on catching any part of Marq Quen, though). This tag-team tourney for a shot at the tag straps at All Out started out on a strong note and I’m guessing it’s going to continue that way. My tall, dark Amazonian Queen Jade Cargill made short work of Kiera Hogan, which was to be expected. And the same thing occurred when Jon Moxley competed against Daniel Garcia in the main event. But I gotta give it to Mr. “Red Death” – his submission work is smooth as hell and it stands out amongst the rest of the AEW roster. I know he’s slated for some big things in the near future. Would love to see him and Zack Sabre Jr. have one of those Forbidden Door matches at some point. So the show closed with Mox, Eddie Kingston, Sting, and Darby destroying Garcia & 2point0 to send the crowd home even happier. What a time to be alive…

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: Christian Cage really pulled a Rick Rude! So he showed up live during AEW Rampage and simultaneously wrestled on Impact Wrestling’s Resurgence, which is a taped special event. My man! That show as a whole was pretty strong – Josh Alexander & Jake Something had the MOTN, Christian & Brian Myers delivered a good main event, the three-way for the tag team straps was a fun war, Matt Cardona vs. Rohit Raju was a solid opener, the eight-person tag was surprisingly decent, and my guy Ace Austin emerged as the new #1 contender for the Impact World Championship. The rest of the matches on Emergence ranged from bad to average, though – luckily, the good to great stuff on this show outweighed all its glaring negatives. I can’t wait to see what Christian and Ace give us once Victory Road rolls around on Saturday, September 18th!

SummerSlam 2021 was the very definition of a mixed bag. We ended up getting three good matches out of an 11-match show and two dope-ass surprise comebacks. Sheamus and Damian Priest got enough time to give the crowd a quality midcard match for the US Championship, plus we got a new champion out of it. Edge tapped into his Brood-ish persona for the first part of his entrance, which put a smile on my face. Then he and Seth Rollins matched the high expectations me and everyone else had for their dream match going into it. Roman Reigns and John Cena excelled in the main event and had the crowd in the palm of their hands thanks to some nail-biting near falls. And when it came to shocking appearances, “The Man” Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar are back! But here’s the crazy thing – Becky’s comeback quickly went from awesome to heartbreaking…

The night after SummerSlam came the 36th TakeOver event. And due to a recent interview Ariel Helwani conducted with Nick Khan (which you can check out here), it sounds like the NXT fans love and adore is about to be put out to pasture. And if that’s the case, then NXT TakeOver 36 sent out the indie wrestling boom period of the black and yellow brand with a bang. Samoa Joe became the first three-time NXT Champion, Ilja Dragunov FINALLY vanquished Walter & won the NXT UK Champion, Cameron Grimes claimed the Million Dollar Championship, Raquel Gonzalez successfully defended her NXT Women’s Championship, and Kyle O’Reilly brought his biggest NXT feud to an end by tapping Adam Cole out. NXT TakeOver 36 was an awesome night of wrestling, as expected. But now the question remains – is Adam Cole on his way to the main roster of WWE or should we expect to see him become “All Elite” in the coming months?

Botches: So our “EST” Queen Bianca Belair was still being advertised to face Sasha Banks at SummerSlam even though rumors of “The Boss” not making it to the show were running rampant. Once Bianca entered the ring, the ring announcer dropped the bomb on everyone in attendance and everyone at home by stating that Banks would indeed be missing in action. So instead of being honest about Banks’ status beforehand, WWE simply chose to falsely advertise the match between her and Bianca right up until the champ entered the ring.

So Carmella came out as Bianca’s new opponent to crickets from the crowd, then all of a sudden…BECKY LYNCH RETURNED! I was happy as all hell once it became clear that Becky and Bianca were going to have a match instead…then my happiness quickly switched to anger & sadness once Bianca got Kofi’d. In just a few seconds, Bianca lost to a single Rock Bottom and lost the strap. Instead of giving everyone a hotly contested match (that would have had all the time it needed if SummerSlam’s needless segments got shelved), we got a lame-ass squash match.

Along with that letdown of a match, SummerSlam also had its fair share of weak ass bouts and WWE’s usual horrible attempts at slapstick humor. The only good thing about Bobby Lashley vs. Goldberg was witnessing Bobby destroy ‘Oldberg’s son (he deserved it for dabbing like a douchebag all those years ago). Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie was god awful (as expected!). RK-Bro won the Raw tag team straps, but I didn’t care as much as I thought I would because the match itself was average at best. The Usos vs. Rey & Dominik Mysterio was just…there. Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal belonged on Raw instead of being booked on a major PPV card. Charlotte Flair won the title…again. And at this point, I could care less about anything she does. So much for that Nikki A.S.H. experiment, huh? And how sad is it that Rhea Ripley lost every bit of her cool factor on the main roster? Them’s the breaks, sadly…

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