Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: September 20-September 26


High Spots: Can someone remind WWE that they’re having a Draft in a few weeks? To the surprise of no one, they’re just randomly throwing out huge inter-promotional matches and completely voiding the validity of the exclusivity of Raw and SmackDown. They’ve been doing that for years though, so it doesn’t really phase me anymore. The Bloodline paid a visit to Monday Nights to disrupt The New Day’s celebration for Big E, which was going pretty well (the Brodie Lee tribute hit me hard, not even gon lie). We ended up getting a match tailor-made for Survivor Series between the two stables that was as good as I imagined it to be beforehand. After Randy Orton and AJ Styles produced some heat on this episode shortly after, it just made me think “how come we couldn’t get something that good at WrestleMania 35?” Their in-ring chemistry has gotten even better since that disappointing matchup though, so at least there’s that.

Shanya Baszler looked like her old killer NXT self for once as she put Nia Jax’s ass to sleep! And right after that, Baszler went even harder to abuse her former tag team partner by working Jax’s elbow over on the ring steps. As someone that’s been missing the old mean streak Baszler used to show during her black and gold days, this segment gave me a little bit of hope for her immediate future. It’s nice to know that Angel Garza still exists! Haven’t seen that incredibly underutilized dude in a long time, so it was refreshing to watch him and Humberto Carillo pop up to take on Mustafa Ali and Mansoor. It was even crazier to see the Lucha Libre tandem get the W, too! The match itself was building towards something even greater, but the short runtime kept that from happening. Let’s make sure we get a run back on that real soon, WWE!

Jeff Hardy got himself a W over Sheamus and got added to the United States Championship match between Damian Priest and Sheamus at Extreme Rules. I’m not mad at that development whatsoever since Jeff has been looking pretty good as of late. Jeff’s gonna be the one taking the biggest of risks while Priest and Sheamus do most of their big man work to ground him. That match should be a fun one. The final moments from this episode of Raw gave the fans a Triple Threat Match that came outta nowhere – WWE Champion Big E vs. Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley. I couldn’t be too mad at the powers that be booking this out of the blue since it was so awesome! Their main event brawl got close to 20 minutes and it excelled in the overall quality department. Reigns got the W since he doesn’t lose these days (which makes total sense!). And I was quite happy to see Big E get protected from being pinned since he just won the WWE Championship, which leads me to believe that we’re going to see a Champion vs. Champion match between the two kings of Raw and SmackDown at Survivor Series.

Botches: How Eva Marie continues to hold a job is beyond me, fam! How has she not improved even a smidge since 2013? We gotta move Piper Niven onto something worthy of her excellence now and get her away from the pointlessness of this whole feud with Marie. Their match was far too short to even matter and just felt like nothing more than a time filler. Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. won the Women’s Tag Team Championship…big yawn. Rhea continues to fade ever so further from my good graces due to her corny-ass arrangement with the superheroine that gives me heavy “bathroom break” vibes. Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair continued doing their best to win the award for “worst feud of the year” and they did a fine job at it, I must say. Everything they did during that horrid Alexa’s Playground segment had me contemplating switching over to TLC to watch a 90 Day Fiance rerun. And as always, the 24/7 Championship hijinks continued to be absolute headassery.

NXT 2.0

High Spots: The new era of NXT continues with Tomasso Ciampa sitting atop the mountain as the brand’s triumphant champion. And of course, he got interrupted by most of the brand’s stars from the previous era and the new blood ushered in for the 2.0 era. A big brawl ensued between both parties, which left Ciampa and Bron Breakker as the last two brutes standing. Solid opening segment there. We got even more mayhem to bask in as the cameras went backstage to watch the ladies tear into each other, too. This show really moves a mile a minute now, huh? Kushida and Roderick Strong got embroiled in a pretty fun Cruiserweight Championship match. I could have done without The Diamond Mine’s three other representatives jumping on Kushida outside the ring and practically handing the win to Roddy, though. Grayson Waller came out afterward and asked for all the smoke from the new champ, which set up a match for the next episode. Roddy ain’t even get to celebrate properly yet!

So WWE’s first Singaporean signing Dante Chen debuted here and I gotta say – the young man sure has a bright future ahead of him! The dude has the body build that’s needed to be taken seriously and he damn sure is getting a huge push out of the gate thanks to his quick dissection of Trey Baxter. I’m gonna keep my eye on that Chen guy, for sure. I got so much enjoyment from Cameron Grimes’ quick and snappy squash over Joe Gacy – Gacy’s usage of social media buzzwords makes his face so punchable, so count me in for watching him always get his ass whipped on the regular. Elektra Lopez got the type of powerhouse aura I like out of my women’s athletes. She made quick work of Anna Scheer with a nasty Blue Thunder Bomb – I can’t wait to see her land that thing on (S)Hit Row’s B-Fab. Odyssey Jones also didn’t have to work too long to get rid of his two casualties, too – his gear was pretty terrible, but watching him splash two jobbers simultaneously was super lit!

The main event easily took home MOTN honors considering the four big-name talents that competed in it. Ciampa got to look like the killer he always is, Breakker & Ridge Holland had a mid-match strongman war, and Pete Dunne got to work over some limbs like he usually does. I’d pay all the money in the world to see Breakker and Holland lock horns on a future NXT TakeOver (we’re still gonna get those, I hope!). Kyle O’Reilly got to deliver some painful revenge to Holland, which set them up for a banger down the line. Judging by the closing moments of this episode, it looks like Breakker vs. Ciampa is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. Lemme get that match against Holland first, though! And maybe Dunne right after that. A “mathematics” promo from Breakker would also do the young “dog-faced gremlin” some good, too.

Botches: Tony D’Angelo would have been so awesome if he ran with the Full Blooded Italians or The Mamalukes back in the day. Pushing a tired-ass stereotypical character like him in 2021, though? So not awesome. Kay Lee Ray squashed someone and as always, I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything she did. She’s never going to connect with me, fam. Xyon Quinn was all chivalrous for the two ladies he was seen walking with during some super unnecessary segment. It just felt so out of place and didn’t really increase my desire to see any more of the big guy. 

That whole Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen barroom brawl segment didn’t really land for me, either. I liked those segments better when the APA was doing it, to be honest. The Andre Chase University promo really didn’t do it for me, either. Man, all of the little character-building vignettes were ass on this episode! Ikemen Jiro gets destroyed by everyone on the regular, so it’s pointless for NXT to make me care about him now with “inside the life” coverage. Von Wagner’s workout regime segment was also a complete miss for me. And I gotta keep it a stack with y’all once again – the only good thing about Toxic Attraction is their theme song. Their promo abilities as a collective damn sure aren’t convincing me to get behind them as evidenced by their boring title match demands.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: AEW IS NYC! And as someone who got to bask in the exciting atmosphere of the company’s Arthur Ashe Stadium show, I now recognize that sentiment first-hand. The crowd was electric for most of the evening (there were definitely some points where everyone was either a bit quiet or engaging in a spirited “YERRRRRRRR!” chant, though). But overall, I came away completely satisfied with what was on offer here during this Grand Slam installment of Dynamite. The show started with a bang as AEW World Champion Kenny Omega locked up with Daniel Bryan. Watching Omega mouth the words “I don’t give a shit” as the fans came unglued and put a smile on Bryan’s face gave me chills! Both men meshed extremely well with each other and produced a mat classic for the ages. The time limit draw finish was fine to me and sets up a future rematch down the pipeline that I can’t wait to see.

CM Punk came out next to show his undying love for the AEW NYC faithful and build up his Rampage meeting with Powerhouse Hobbs. The last time I saw CM Punk live, it was back at WrestleMania 29. Plus I saw him win back the WWE Championship back at the 2011 Survivor Series. So it was pretty dope watching him live and in-person once again within the tri-state area. MJF came out to a chorus of boos (even his parents came to the show with a sign that said they couldn’t stand him, either!) for his bout with Brian Pillman Jr. Their match was solid and was a nice showcase for AEW’s talented young stallions. It’s official now, folks – Cody Rhodes has left the good graces of the AEW fanbase. It was clearly evident that he’s no longer a lot of fans’ fave due to the huge negative reaction he got in comparison to the very audible cheers showered upon Malakai Black. Brandi Rhodes’ middle finger act was cute and all, but watching Arn Anderson trip off the ring apron really didn’t do Cody’s act any favors here. Malakai winning with the old “black mist to the face” gimmick was cool and kept him in the winner’s circle, so good job on that end.

Sting doesn’t age when it comes to competing in the ring, I swear! The face-painted legend didn’t embarrass himself one bit during his tag team match against FTR alongside his fellow face-painted protege Darby Allin. Their match further convinced me that the “Stinger” is still great after all these years. Major props to Darby for landing that sick Coffin Drop to Cash Wheeler on the ring apron, too. The same goes for Sting pulling out all the stops and using his smarts to outwit Tully Blanchard. The ladies got the main event slot as Britt Baker defended her Women’s World Championship against Ruby Soho. Both ladies went out there and proved they could deliver in the main event slot with a hotly contested bout. While there were some noticeable sloppy moments here and there, their show-closing contest still managed to be a fun watch. GREAT NYC DEBUT, AEW!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: Christopher. F’N. Daniels! If you ever wanna have a conversation about TNA Originals that have attained legendary status, the “Fallen Angel” himself will always be near the top of that list. I damn near shed a tear when his name came across the Impact Wrestling stage screen and ran out to make the save for Christian Cage and Josh Alexander. So we gettin’ Daniels vs. Ace Austin at Bound for Glory, right? I HOPE SO! The one match that has been put in stone for Impact’s most important PPV is Christian Cage defending his Impact World Championship against Alexander, which I can’t wait to see. Impact’s most consistent performer had a damn good match with Ace Austin to close the show and finalize his spot in the main event of the October spectacular. I smell a title change happening that night!

Eric Young gave Rhyno an ultimatum for the next episode of Impact, which made it pretty obvious that the “Man-Beast” will deny his request and realign himself with Heath. The crazed duo of Sami Callihan and Eddie Edwards went on a tear here as they practiced their best baseball swings on Moose. They eventually went looking for W. Morrissey with the goal of leaving him with severely damaged legs, but Scott D’Amore stopped that from happening. At least we’re finally getting a Street Fight between the hardcore allies and the giant killers on the next episode. And after weeks and weeks of constant back talking and drag-out brawls, we’re finally getting Deonna Purrazzo vs. Mickie James for the Knockouts Championship at Bound for Glory. I loved each and every minute of the promo seen here that made that match official. Purrazzo got some fire microphone bars, I’ll give her that!

Botches: I was never checking for David Finlay. And I damn sure have never been like “you know who I’m tryna see right now? Hikuleo.” They faced each other on this episode and left me feeling completely apathetic. Just keep El Phantasmo and Juice Robinson, then send the other two back to NJPW USA, please. Rohit Raju vs. Chelsea Green didn’t come off too well. I’ve definitely seen much better intergender matches, that’s for sure. Plus the return of Raj Singh made me and the crowd go mild, which was expected. The match between Rich Swann & Willie Mack vs. Brian Myers & VSK just wasn’t vibing with me, for some reason. It just felt a bit off at a few points throughout. And sadly, Johnny Swinger and Su Yung were in attendance on this show. And they were terrible as usual. Moving on…

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: Montez Ford is going to be a future WWE Champion. Bank on it. WWE clearly sees the star potential in that young king, which is why they tested him out against Roman Reigns during this episode’s main event. Both men had a damn good barnburner as expected (major kudos to Ford for not standing around looking confused when the announce table fell apart under his weight). After Reigns got the W, he was met with a whole lotta chair shots from his Extreme Rules opponent. And I gotta admit – that image of “The Demon” standing on top of one of the ring corners behind The Bloodline was wallpaper worthy! Shinsuke Nakamura defended his Intercontinental Championship against Apollo Crews in a pretty good match. That top rope Kinshasa was a thing of beauty, plus Rick Boogs’ suplex to Commander Azeez on the outside was pure heat! Hope we get some new midcard blood during the Draft to set up some new challengers for Nakamura.

Seth Rollins continued to be an absolute savage as he told Edge to come back and proclaim Rollins as the better man. To my surprise, we found out that Edge is coming back on the next episode of SmackDown to confront his much-hated rival. I’m pretty sure they’re heading to a third and final match at Crown Jewel at this point. And I’m here for it! Happy Corbin came out to follow in the spirit of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper by premiering the very first installment of “Happy Talk.” The big news coming out of that segment was the out of nowhere return of Riddick Moss, who came out to assault Kevin Owens and aid Corbin via a Double Chokeslam. Moss has always been a super slept-on talent to me that has a great look and solid in-ring skills, so I was happy to see him get attached to someone meaningful for his surprising comeback. Naomi got to throw some verbal shade at Sonya Deville and it was way better than I expected it to be. That whole “TikTok your way into obscurity” line from Sonya was heat, by the way! I hope Naomi eventually aligns herself with The Bloodline soon in order to get some solid support behind her and force Sonya to finally acknowledge her (see what I did there?).

Botches: This whole beef between Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair has been super underwhelming. Becky’s promos don’t have that oomph as they used to and I’m still sour over how fast Bianca lost her title at SummerSlam. Their final promo faceoff before Extreme Rules fell completely flat to me. The best part about it was Bianca’s immaculately designed custom jacket, to be honest. Having Liv Morgan lose her match against Zelina Vega mere days before her PPV bout with Carmella at Extreme Rules was…odd. But I don’t care about anything those two ladies do nowadays, so it didn’t really affect me much. And as for Nikki A.S.H. vs Natalya? Too short and too inconsequential to even matter, either. Shotzi and Nox as the next challengers are slightly intriguing, though. Oh and this whole Sami Zayn possibly stepping in to disrupt Rey and Dominik Mysterio’s bond storyline? Don’t care!

AEW Rampage

High Spots: 2021 is the wrestling year that just keeps on giving when it comes to mind-blowing events. CM Punk made his return a few months back and now we finally got to see him have his first TV match in over seven years! And it took place against a man that I have a lotta high hopes for, Powerhouse Hobbs. Aside from that scary-ass top-rope Frankenstiener bump from Hobbs, this match was a good opener. It did its job of continuing Punk’s string of good matches and placed Hobbs in the spotlight to highlight the future of AEW. Side note – it’s pretty wild how the legend of Hook has taken on a life of its own. The dude was getting a massive amount of cheers when I was up in the stands watching him pace around at ringside. THE SUPER KLIQ PARTY IS BACK, BAY BAY! They high-key had the best match of the night during their fast-paced barnburner with Jurassic Express and Christian Cage. Everyone in that match was on fire, especially Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus. The way Adam Cole & The Young Bucks finally put down the big, green-tongued giant was pretty hype, too. Can’t wait to see Cole and Jungle Boy tangle real soon!

The Men of the Year got one over on Chris Jericho and Jake Hager, which was a welcome surprise. Sky looked great in his 2019 AEW World Championship challenge against Jericho, so it was cool locking up with the “Demo God” once again. Hager had an extra bit of fire in him, which was due in part to the lively NY faithful. The post-match events are definitely gonna end up on the front page of several MMA sites, I’m sure. Jorge Masvidal stuck the same flying knee that put Ben Askren to sleep right into Jericho’s face, which was quite the shocker. So when are we getting’ this Inner Circle vs. American Top Team Blood & Guts match? Shout out to the hometown boys Santana & Ortiz! They got a much-deserved hero’s welcome. The Latin pride was heavy during that wild eight-man tag. Even Orange Cassidy hit the ramp to deliver some justice to HFO’s Jack Evans, which popped the hell out of the crowd. I got heavy PWG vibes from the non-stop action on display during this multi-man affair. And that finish? Fire! I hope we get the Lucha Brothers vs. Santana & Ortiz at Full Gear.

I knew it! I just knew it! Sammy Guevarra vs. Miro for the TNT Championship has finally been locked in. I love how “The Redeemer” came from behind like a horror movie villain and beat the ever-loving shit out of Fuego Del Sol and Sammy. Hell of a table bump you took there, young Fuego. As for the main event of Rampage, I loved it! Eddie Kingston mentally reverted back to his back-alley brawl days as he and Jon Moxley engaged in a Light Out brawl with Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki. Moxley was definitely getting his ass handed to him for most of the match. But the shocking run-in from HOMICIDE (!!!) saved the day and got Moxley & Kingston back into the fight. Gotta hand it to AEW for actually pushing the storyline forward for that GCW match between Suzuki and Homicide. Archer took a hell of a kendo stick assault while he was trapped under that damn trash can. What a fun ending to a wild night of AEW wrestling in the Big Apple!

Botches: Anna Jay and Penelope Ford just wasn’t it, fam. The whole brass knucks gimmick from The Bunny pales in comparison to the good old days when William Regal embraced the “Power of the Punch.” Tay Conti shouldn’t be involved in such a heat-less feud right now and would be better served working with some better talent in the women’s division. I’d much rather see Conti test herself against Thunder Rosa or Krit Statlander.

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: Sheamus is a KING for pulling off Jeff Hardy’s top rope taunts at Extreme Rules! As far as amazing 2021 memes go, that moment is a great late edition when it comes to our wrestling fandom. This year’s Extreme Rules (which oddly had two matches that could classify under that ruleset) was a shockingly great PPV. Everything ranged from good to great, with Liv Morgan vs. Carmella exceeding my expectations by a country mile! The main event (sans the iffy finish and that silly ass “heartbeat/arena lights revival” moment) was the best way to close the show, plus the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match slapped tremendously. You gotta hand it to the WWE roster as a whole cause they’ll deal with weeks of shitty writing and usually manage to deliver in the ring once the PPV finally arrives. So we’re getting Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks at Crown Jewel or nah?

Botches: Man, that last episode of Dark Side of the Ring was a hell of a downer. As a massive Chris Kanyon fan, it hurt to hear about his struggles dealing with being a closeted homosexual for most of his life and being bipolar. The Howard Stern clips were especially frustrating to revisit. Kanyon was and always will be one of the most entertaining and innovative wrestlers the business has ever seen. WHO BETTA THAN KANYON! No one, my friend. No one. RIP to the master of the “Kanyon Cutter” and cheers to his closest loved ones for speaking highly of him on DSOR. Side note – a match between Kanyon and Nova (Simon Dean from WWE) would have ruled!

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