Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: September 6-September 12


High Spots: So two matches have now been set for Extreme Rules on September 26th – Bobby Lashley will defend his WWE Championship against Randy Orton, while US Champion Damian Priest will clash with his SummerSlam opponent Sheamus for the title once again. That first match doesn’t excite me whatsoever, but that second one does since it turned out to be one of the better matches from WWE’s August spectacular. The opening segment that made the WWE Championship match official was whatever, but it got its point across so at least there’s that. Drew McIntyre and Sheamus had their usual wince-inducing brawl that regularly entertains. Those two UK brutes have developed quite the strong chemistry with each other (they’re best friends, after all!), which is why I’m always checking in whenever they come to blows.

The Tag Team Turmoil gauntlet match took up the majority of this episode and it proved to be a fun watch. While it hurt my heart to see how low The Viking Raiders have fallen on the tag team totem pole, I still got a bit of enjoyment out of watching them and the rest of the field produce an extended session of good in-ring action. The New Day turned out to be the marathon men as they competed for the longest and made every match they competed in worth watching. Shout out to MACE & T-BAR and Mustafa Ali & Mansoor for doing some fine work there, too! In the end, Lashley and MVP eked out the win and set themself up with a future matchup with RK-Bro. WWE wouldn’t have Riddle and Orton drop the straps so soon after winning them just to push the storyline forward for the Extreme Rules match, would they? Ay, you know what? They probably would…

Botches: Charlotte Flair really left Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. to wither away in the doldrums of the women’s tag team division, bruh. Ripley’s NXT cool factor has disappeared completely and it always sounds like a cricket orgy whenever Raw’s resident superhero enters the arena. Their match against Natalya and Tamina was inconsequential and certainly worthy of the dreaded “bathroom break” spot on the show. John Morrison continues to lose and make me care even less about his feud with his former bestie The Miz. Can’t bring myself to be invested in anything Johnny Boy does if he keeps taking L’s on the path towards getting a match with his homie turned rival. What made this loss even worse is the fact that it came at the hands of Karrion Kross, who’s a man that continues to stand out as the most boring and personality stripped NXT callup (they really took his valet away and had him dress up like a Mad Max extra, fam!).

Reggie and Akira Tozawa engaged in some more of your usual 24/7 Championship basura, but what else is new? Drake Maverick seems to be the latest addition to the jobber collective that chases after that worthless title. He sucks anyway, so that spot works just fine for him. Seeing Jeff Hardy join in on all that foolishness irked me to no end, but seeing Ryker participate in it all warmed my cold heart. And one week after Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax clearly had a moment of miscommunication and went “FUCK ALL THIS WRESTLING SHIT!,” they met in the ring once again. And this time, it was for the Raw Women’s Championship. Without the few seconds of both women legit “shooting” on each other missing from this match, their rematch turned out to be a dud as expected. The continued tease of a future PPV matchup between Charlotte and Alexa Bliss makes me break out in a cold sweat due to pure fear. The thought of watching that big bag of bullshit happen on Extreme Rules is complete nightmare fuel!


High Spots: It’s crazy how I can totally stomach NXT’s brand of comedy, but I dry heave every time the main roster tries to get a few giggles out of me. Indi Hartwell’s bachelorette party had some funny zingers and came off pretty well, all things considered. Candice LeRae’s “flip-flopping” line and Indi mouthing the words “well, Dexter’s just gonna have to crack his nut” had me in tears, fam! William Regal set up a Fatal Four-Way match to determine Samoa Joe’s next NXT Championship challenger (it’s obviously going to be Pete Dunne!). That match is gonna fire on all cylinders, no questions asked. Carmelo Hayes looked great against Santos Escobar and showed that he’s destined for bigger things later down the line. Even in defeat, Hayes came off looking better than he already is. The Creed Brothers got the chance to shine during their exhibition for The Diamond Mine. Both guys have strong amateur wrestling credentials, so it’s safe to say that they fit the type of superstar mold Vinnie Mac is looking for. 

The Women’s Tag Team match was fine for what it was – the main reason I cared for it was due to Io Shirai’s inclusion during the whole affair. I still feel like those titles are a bit meaningless, though. Dexter Lumis’ bachelor shindig was just as hilarious as his fiance’s, which came as no surprise. Cameron Grimes’ constant bets, Dexter’s expertise with an ax (wonder where that came from?), and the zombie ref’s reveal of his true place of origin were all comedy gold. And of course, the NXT Tag Team Championship main event between MSK and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch was a barnburner! Putting those four talents in the ring together and giving them 12 minutes to burn the house down was the right move to make. After the match, Dunne and Ridge Holland shockingly severed their ties with Oney & Lorcan! I kinda get it since both men failed to capture the titles and let their fellow countrymen down here. But it’s a bit heartbreaking to see the foursome break up in front of my very eyes (SOMEONE GET PAT MCAFEE ON THE PHONE TO FIX ALL OF THIS!).

Botches: I’m sure Ember Moon and Kay Lee Ray worked VERY hard during their show opener. But I was completely uninterested in anything they were doing since both women don’t mean a whole lot to me. Ember has an incredible theme song and…well, that’s it. And I always preferred watching Piper Niven, Toni Storm, and Rhea Ripley during their NXT UK runs over anything Ray did during her time spent there. So yeah, I didn’t care about the opening minutes of this episode whatsoever. To no one’s surprise, (S)Hit Row continued to be cringy and trash bag-worthy in every way. Frankie Monet’s future NXT Women’s Championship match with Raquel Gonzalez doesn’t excite me one bit. Oh and the whole Mei Ying squash just made me Kanye Shrug. Her otherworldly powers shtick has been terrible from the very first moment she entered NXT.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: I’ve become quite accustomed to post-PPV editions of a weekly wrestling show being less than stellar. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case here on this edition of Dynamite. We pretty much got everything here – good matches, sensible storyline progression, highlights from All Out, hints at impending feuds, and newly booked bouts. Malakai Black and Dustin Rhodes had a hot opener that was far more brutal than I expected. Dustin got planted through a table and assaulted by stiff kicks to the leg, while Malakai got caught off guard by Dustin’s veteran tactics and shocking agility. While Malakai’s Black Mass kick didn’t look as great as it usually does here, Taz covered for it on commentary quite well. Speaking of Taz, he did a great job in Excalibur’s usual commentary position on this show.

CM Punk came out afterward to speak on all the great moments that took place at All Out and asked the crowd who he should take on next. Taz spoke up right in the middle of Punk’s speech and made it clear that his guys should never come out of Punk’s mouth ever again. Punk made it clear that he wants all the smoke with Taz’s stable of badasses and even used his classic catchphrase to further disrespect him. Powerhouse Hobbs hopped into the ring to mix it up with Dante Martin soon after, which was a nice change of pace since I got treated to two uber-talented African American wrestlers with a whole lot of future star potential. The match was slow in parts, but it ended up being a nice showcase for the two up-and-comers. Dante’s high-flying madness impressed as always and Hobbs pulled off that sick Spinning Spinebuster of his to end Dante’s hot streak.

On the promo front, we got some worthwhile segments throughout the show. Dr. Britt Baker, D..M.D. had the line of the night when she told Ruby Soho to run away back to catering, Santana & Ortiz put the tag team division on notice, Tully Blanchard set up a match between his guy Shawn Spears & Darby Allin, Dan Lambert roasted the AEW roster as always, and Brian Cage & Ricky Starks continued to set up their heated rematch. The hottest promo segment on the entire episode featured The Elite. Adam Cole got to talk his shit and put Tony Schiavone on notice in regards to him being a little too friendly with his girlfriend. Once Kenny Omega got the mic, Bryan Danielson came out to face him and made it clear that he wants to kick the AEW World Champion’s head off. The big brawl that erupted between the babyfaces and heels was hot, plus it set up a match between Adam Cole and Frankie Kazarian for the next Dynamite. So all in all, we got some good forward progression there.

MJF and Wardlow hit the ring, which led to MJF taking a verbal dump on Cincinnati by calling everything about it “mid.” By getting into it with Brian Pillman Jr.’s aunt and sister (that “16 & Pregnant” line had me in tears, fam!), he caused the second-generation wrestler to come out to defend his home city & family. MJF’s verbal stingers caused a physical altercation between the two, plus we also got a tease of Wardlow possibly getting tired of MJF’s shit. I’m pretty excited to finally see the big man abandon his blowhard boss further down the line. The Dark Order is in utter turmoil as evidenced by the miscommunication between them all during their six-man tag against FTR & Spears. I wouldn’t be too mad at them getting broken up at this point, but I’d like to see the tag teams within that stable stick together. They’re just so damn good, plus John Silver has a hell of a crowd following that could make him a possible singles star.

And in the main event, Jon Moxley and Minoru Suzuki beat the ever-loving shit out of each other! I’m quite familiar with their vicious brawls from NJPW, so I knew we were gonna get a bloody encounter here and that’s exactly what transpired. The elbow shots were brutal, the headbutts were gruesome, and the lariats were nasty. While short, Moxley’s homecoming match with his greatest New Japan rival was still a nice piece of work. If Moxley’s current run against New Japan contracted talent continues, I’d love to see him clash with Jay White!

Botches: Tony Khan! Listen good and listen well – don’t you ever IN LIFE cut Suzuki’s theme song short every again! It’s downright criminal to bring an end to that slapper of a wrestling theme before it gets to the crowd participation part. AEW can remedy this just by playing “Kazi Ni Nare” for the first 30 minutes on the next episode of Dynamite. And Moxley, that shitty Paradigm Shift you did at the end of your match was nothing more than a Double Arm Suplex. Do better next time, my guy!

There was a clear issue with proper timing on this episode, too – the short run-time for the main event was clear evidence of that. That’s an issue that’s plagued AEW since its inception, so here’s hoping they get a handle on that soon. The women’s match between Ruby Soho and Jamie Hayter wasn’t terrible, mind you. But there was a clear botch in the middle of the bout that led to an awkward hurricanrana faceplant landing for Soho. The clumsiness on display there was just too hard to overlook.

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: Impact Wrestling as a whole was pretty solid from start to finish this time around. There was nothing overly bad or mind-numbing to complain about here – even the regularly bland WWE castoff Steve Maclin had a respectable matchup with Petey Williams! Since that’s the only guy Maclin has been having good matches with, that doesn’t really bode well for anyone else he decides to feud with next. The main story thread that ran through this episode was Christian Cage and Ace Austin’s attempts at putting together viable teams for their upcoming 10-man tag team match. The future Victory Road opponents found their allies and, based on the lineups, that 10-man affair will be just as good as I envision it.

The Knockouts got to shine as soon as this episode got underway. Tasha Steelz and Rosemary engaged in an enjoyable affair that offered some more buildup towards the upcoming Knockouts Tag Team Championship match. Steelz and her new ally Savannah Evans are looking like quite the formidable force these days, which is why my gut is telling me that they’ll overcome Havok and Rosemary at Victory Road. Rich Swann and Karl Anderson tried their hand at the throwback Bunkhouse Brawl stipulation and took full advantage of it. Swann took the L here, which leads me to believe that he and Willie Mack will come back at Victory Road to claim the Impact World Tag Team Championship once that bout is booked. You know how wrestling logic works – the babyfaces get demolished beforehand, only for them to come back at the big show and eventually triumph.

Chris Bey and David Finlay got into some cool Impact vs. New Japan Forbidden Door festivities. Finlay’s another guy I’ve never cared for, but I gotta admit that his performance here was admirable. The final bout of the evening was clearly the best of them all as Eddie Edwards clashed with Moose. Edwards took the L here, which led to Moose and his newest ally W. Morrissey jumping on him post-match. That, in turn, led to the big show-closing brawl between the competing 10-man teams, which sent the show off on a high note. This is a hell of a final lineup if I do say so myself – Ace Austin, Brian Myers, Madman Fulton, Moose, and W. Morrissey vs. Christian Cage, Josh Alexander, Chris Sabin, Sami Callihan, and Eddie Edwards.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: YERRRRRRRR! Ya boy El hails from South Ozone Park, Queens, so you already know I was super excited to watch my NYC hometown crowd get extra lit in Madison Square Garden. We got a damn good edition of SmackDown in the “Big Apple” here. It honored the memory of the fallen on the evening before 9/11, so big respect on that end. Roman Reigns came out first to talk about owning MSG and telling everyone in attendance to “acknowledge him.” Eventually, Brock Lesnar and his Goro ponytail came out to challenge the “Tribal Chief,” which I’m expecting to see take place at Crown Jewel. Before the 10-man tag match got underway, Sami Zayn delivered the ultimate form of disrespect by wearing a NY Knicks jersey and having the gall to bring out the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young. YOU AIN’T SHIT FOR THAT, SAMI!

As for the match itself, it was fun while it lasted (which wasn’t that long, unfortunately…). For once, I didn’t mentallycheck out of a Bianca Belair/Becky Lynch segment. Lynch’s drip-worthy fur coat and oversized sunglasses made her look cool as all hell. Plus “The EST” looked immaculate as always. The Smackdown Women’s Championship match is booked for Extreme Rules and I’m just hoping it lasts minutes instead of seconds. Edge and Seth Rollins had the MOTN, bruh bruh! They managed to surpass their excellent SummerSlam bout by going a bit longer, adding some new moves & smart counters to their work, and providing a satisfying ending that left Edge a broken man. I’m betting on an Edge return next month that will see the two lock horns for the final time at Crown Jewel.

And in the main event, The Street Profits and The Usos had a barnburner of a bout that got the appropriate time it needed to keep the crowd alive. When it looked like the Profits had the titles within their grasp, Reigns interrupted the match’s proceedings and got it thrown out. That led to Reigns finally accepting Brock’s challenge and setting his sights on Finn Bálor. All of a sudden, the lights got low and a familiar heartbeat came over the loudspeaker. “The Demon” emerged and came out in all of his face/body painted glory to confront the WWE Universal Champion. So it looks like we’re getting a rematch between the two at Extreme Rules! AND I’M DEFINITELY WIT IT!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

AEW Rampage

High Spots: After some travel complications that got Andrade El Idolo and Pac’s match at All Out postponed, we finally got it here. And my lord was it amazing! Both men slowly built to their big moments and each one came off better because of it. The Split-Legged Moonsault, the Asai Moonsault, the Springboard 450 Splash…all of that awesome offense left an indelible mark on the crowd and left them (AND ME!) wanting more. Based on the shitty finish, we’re clearly going to get this again. And it looks like Chavo Guerrero’s services will no longer be needed by Andrade. Could a certain “Nature Boy” be on his way to becoming Andrade’s new manager? I SURE HOPE SO! 

Sting and Tully Blanchard sent some verbal darts at each other to hype up the impending matchup between their young stallions. Shawn Spears got the drop on Allin with a nasty Death Valley Driver on the outside. I was a huge fan of Spears’ recent match with Sammy Guevara, so count me in for his upcoming bout with young Allin. The six-woman tag match was a lot better than the women’s match we got on the last Dynamite. Jamie Hayter looked way more badass than usual, Kris Statlander & Riho gelled super well as a duo, and Ruby Soho got another chance to look good in front of the AEW faithful. Adam Cole and Daniel Bryan got some time to speak – Cole was his cool cocky self as always, while Bryan made it abundantly clear that he wants Kenny Omega and he wants him now.

In the main event slot, the Cincinnati hometown hero Brian Pillman Jr. got to mix it up with Max Caster of The Acclaimed. The match was solid at best, but I was more than happy to see the second-generation wrestler get a big win in front of his family and hometown fans. After the match, we got even more Cincinnati goodness as Jon Moxley came out to fend off Anthony Bowens while Pillman Jr. took out Caster. After watching years of WWE constantly having the hometown guy/gal lose, it’s nice to see AEW do things differently in that regard.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: The annual Pro Wrestling 500 listing of the best wrestlers in the world has been finalized! And the top 10 members of that illustrious list have been revealed. A lot of hoopla surrounding the two wrestlers at the top of that ranking caused my timeline to be filled with some angry ass WWE and AEW fanboys debating the proper placement of Roman Reigns and Kenny Omega. 

A case can definitely be made for either guy getting the #1 spot. But when you really look at it from a kayfabe perspective, it’s easy to recognize that Omega deserves his high placement. Roman has reigned as the WWE Universal Champion since August 30, 2020. But Omega has captured multiple top titles across AEW, Impact Wrestling, and AAA. Someone that captures numerous belts over a guy that’s only won one makes sense as the bigger pick for PWI’s annual listing.

Check out the rest of the top nine superstars that made it to the most revered positions for this year’s PWI 500:

2. Roman Reigns

3. Bobby Lashley

4. Drew McIntyre

5. Kota Ibushi

6. Jon Moxley

7. Will Ospreay

8. Finn Bálor

9. Shingo Takagi

10. Rich Swann

Just in case you missed it, ROH put on a strong PPV via Death Before Dishonor XVIII in Philly’s 2300 Arena. We got some major title changes to celebrate (John Woods claimed the ROH Pure Championship and Rok-C became the inaugural ROH World Women’s Champion, Alex Zayne won himself a ROH World title shot, and Taylor Rust & Jake Atlas competed in a solid post-WWE release matchup. The Four-Way Elimination match delivered big time in the main event and kept Bandido’s mean streak intact as he continues to reign as ROH’s top champion. With an established women’s division, a bunch of new faces, and the company’s usual suspects in place, ROH may just prosper late into the year.

Botches: Sigh…Samoa Joe has gone down with an injury once again. I’m one of the biggest fans of the “Samoan Submission Machine” out there, so it always pains me to hear about him enduring yet another injury that cuts right into a hot push of his or an ongoing title run. In this care, Joe was forced to relinquish the NXT Championship. That whole “injury-prone” label he’s gotten during his WWE run has been disheartening, but it certainly has some validity to it now. If that’s the case, then I guess I’d just have to accept Joe switching to a backstage producer role. Man, this sucks…

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