High Spots: Just a few days before Crown Jewel, WWE presented a pretty mediocre edition of Raw. The show’s top ladies got to shine here tonight as Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair donned their best drip during a fiery opening promo segment. Biana deserves all the credit in the world for pulling off a handstand flip with high heels on and not even buckling just once. The match both women had at the end of this episode was a good time, although the inconclusive finish was a mood killer. It made sense for it to end on a disqualification since Charlotte and Bianca are set for bigger things with Becky Lynch. The finish still sucked, though. Major props to Xavier Woods for getting one step closer to his dream of becoming this year’s King of the Ring. Xavier did God’s work as he managed to have a good match with Jinder “Master of 1,001 Restholds” Mahal and came out at the end of their bout as the winner. I damn near jumped through my roof when Xavier landed that tightrope elbow drop of his FTW!
Thank God the usual 24/7 Championship garbage didn’t happen during the second meeting between Austin Theory and Jeff Hardy. It happened backstage and was an eyesore as usual, though. Austin and Jeff packed in a lot of action into their spirited rematch. Austin got a more satisfying victory this time around, but Jeff got some revenge post-match via his own selfie. Austin gets two W’s over Jeff during his second stint on Raw, while Jeff got a slight bit of revenge to not look too bad while on his way to Friday Nights. Fine by me! The WWE Champion Big E and Drew McIntyre contended with The Dirty Dawgs in a decent matchup that was meant to add a bit more fire to one of Crown Jewel’s biggest bouts. It got its point across and was a decent watch, which was fine I guess. RK-Bro and The Street Profits definitely made the most of the extended match time afforded to them! While watching them work, I couldn’t help but think that a singles match between Riddle and Montez Ford would be incredible. AJ Styles and Omos interfered to bring the good times to an end, but I wasn’t too peeved by that end result ‘cause that three-team feud looks super enticing.
Botches: Mansoor vs. Cedric Alexander was (YOU GUESSED IT!) way too damn short. Is a 10-minute match between two underutilized workers on a three-hour wrestling show too much to ask for? Mansoor won as expected since he’s heading into Crown Jewel to take on his former tag team partner Mustafa Ali. Ali’s post-match promo was pretty weak, to be honest. I just wished they wouldn’t have broken up in the first place – wouldn’t it have been a far better booking decision to have them take on either one of the tag team champs and possibly win the straps in front of a very appreciative crowd? Finn Bálor vs. Mace lasted two minutes and elicited little to no excitement for me since the winner was never in question. I really couldn’t bring myself to care too much about that one. Finn vs. Xavier should have an excellent clash at Crown Jewel, though!
John Morrison continued to search for his inner “chi.” Sigh…the Johnny I fell in love with from Lucha Underground is the one I’d really prefer watching these days. Goldberg and Bobby Lashley spoke angrily at each other to hype up a match that I wish wasn’t happening. Let’s just leave it at that. I’m really a sucker for thinking Piper Niven vs. Shayna Baszler would get the proper time it needed to actually matter as a Queen’s Crown Semifinal match, right? All I got here for my naivety was a two-minute letdown that further painted this tournament as a totally botched endeavor. At least Piper’s gonna win the whole tourney at Crown Jewel, right? RIGHT? Wait, WWE’s totally gonna swerve us all by giving it to Zelina aren’t they? Oh God…
High Spots: I never knew I wanted a Carmello Hayes vs. Johnny Gargano match until this episode of NXT 2.0! At the start of the show, “Johnny Wrestling” interrupted Carmello’s “Melo-bration” and teased a future clash between the two over the NXT North American Championship. Dexter Lumis came out to back up his bestie and scare the hell out of Carmello and his boy Trick Williams, which obviously means we’re due for a tag team match in the near future. Now that should be fun! Santos Escobar is pretty peeved with Carmello as well, so it sounds like we might be due for a singles meeting between those two or even a triple threat if Johnny is still embroiled in his beef with the new champ. Malcolm Bivens is straight jokes, fam! I love him when he’s in serious manager mode, but I just love it, even more, when he drops a one-liner or two from time to time. My man really said that the two things he does best is mind his own damn business and not get his ass molly whopped in the parking lot! Once his promo ended, his Diamond Mine duo of the Creed Brothers squared off with Imperium in a decent bout.
The Creed Bros. took the L, which was a genuine surprise since I figured they wouldn’t lose so early in their run thus far. MSK ran out afterward to deliver some comeuppance to Imperium and set up a match for the following episode’s Halloween Havoc special. I don’t really care for Imperium much, so I can’t say that match truly excites me. Ikemen Jiro was definitely wildin’ for interrupting Kushida while he was tryna take a leak! But I couldn’t be too mad at him ‘cause he gifted Kushida with his trusty Back to the Future-inspired jacket. Having those two team up might be more interesting than I initially thought. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza did right by the rest of Legado Del Fantasma by beating Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen. Their match was pretty interesting since it was a clash of styles between speed and power. I wouldn’t mind seeing these two go at it again with an extra 10 minutes attached to it.
LA Knight and Grayson Waller really tried to take each other’s heads off just for the right to host Halloween Havoc! While the gimmick for their match was silly, the match itself was decent for the time it was given. The fact that both men competed at a fast pace helped it retain my interest in the short time span it took place within. It sure is nice to see my man LA get back to his winning ways! Future Halloween Havoc opponents Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker pulled up on the Grizzled Young Veterans for the disrespect shown to the NXT Champion the week before. Both teams easily took home Match of the Night honors thanks to a highly competitive main event that let them go to war with 10+ minutes allocated to them. When Bron pulled off a classic Steiner Recliner, a tear came to my eye! I’m really watching the offspring of Rick Steiner embrace the very best parts of one of the greatest tag teams of all time. So we’re all betting on Bron becoming the NXT Champion at Halloween Havoc, right?
Botches: NXT 2.0 has become the new home for squash matches for anyone who’s a fan of that sort of thing. I consider myself among those fans, but a few of the ones we got on this episode just didn’t grab me like I figured they would. Odyssey Jones is cool and all, but I wanna see him featured in some lengthier and more competitive matches now. Watching him demolish the incredibly unremarkable Andre Chase was kind of a bore, honestly. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner had a bonding moment out in the good old outdoors. I didn’t really care for any of it, to be honest. Whatever shirt Kyle was wearing was pretty fire, though! Joe Gacy and his social media wokeness appeared on my screen once again to dole out his collection of tired buzzwords. Pure snore vibes as always. The second squash of the night came with another case of an odd victory taking place when Cora Jade pulled off an underdog win over Elektra Lopez. It lasted a minute & some change and really wasn’t any good, either.
Man, I hope Jacy Jayne is okay. She took a really nasty landing on her suicide dive and ended up leaving the triple threat match she was a part of with Io Shirai and Perisa Pirotta. Io and Perisa obviously had to improvise in the wake of her absence and did the best they could. You could definitely tell that Io was a bit off as the match wore on. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, all things considered. Our third squash of the night featured Tony D’Angelo getting rid of Re Feng in less than two minutes. I know Wrestling Twitter loves the guy and his throwback gimmick, but I’m still not a believer. He’s passable in the ring and I just can’t find it in me to gravitate towards him quite yet. Duke Hudson is a wrestling gambler, huh? Don’t care. Where’s “The Con-Man” Rob Conway when you need him? Bring him and his corny-ass theme song back to embrace this gambler gimmick, I say!
High Spots: Bound for Glory is almost here, baybee! So of course, we got the go-home show for Impact Wrestling’s marquee event of the year here. And for the most part, it was decent enough. We got a fun tag team match at the start of this episode between the Bullet Club’s Hikuleo & Chris Bey and FinJuice. The match was going well enough until a pretty puzzling ending that saw two refs count a double pin that gave us a victory for both teams. Which was a weird way to set up the triple threat match at BFG for the Impact World Tag Team Championship, but at least we finally got there. I feel like a Bullet Club victory is in the works, folks! Josh Alexander’s road to BFG was explained in full during an emotional promo segment that broke down his history in Impact and his world championship aspirations. The guy can wrestle with the best of ‘em and now we finally got a chance to hear him talk shockingly well. YOU GOT THIS ONE, JOSH!
I gotta give more props to Josh ‘cause he brought even more verbal heat during a face-to-face encounter with Christian Cage. The jaw-jacking here was off the charts – Josh hit the champ right in his soul by stating “as long as you’re cashing a check from a billionaire that owns a different company, you will never be the face of IMPACT Wrestling.” OH MY DAMN! That’s going to be one of the best matches of the year, no doubt. Mickie James came back strong during her Impact comeback match against Savannah Evans. After watching her look that good mere days before her meeting with Deonna Purrazzo, I’m way more excited to see that women’s war go down. That no-contact rule looked as if it had gotten broken, but Deonna’s guy Matthew Rehwoldt was the one who put hands on Mickie so no harm done, right? And just like I figured they would, Trey Miguel and Alex Zayne showed out during their X-Division exhibition. I was none too happy seeing Steve Maclin arrive post-match to beat them both down, but I was overjoyed when El Phantasmo came out to leave Steve laying. EL P FTW!
Botches: I can’t say I was a huge fan of the three-way mixed tag. It just felt like a jumbled mess, plus I’m never all that enthusiastic about watching Tenille Dashwood, Crazy Steve, or Fallah Bahh in the ring. It was kinda weird not seeing Rhino finally give Heath a definitive answer for their tag team grudge match against Violent by Design. Heath pleaded to the big guy in a heartfelt promo, yet it still wasn’t enough to convince him to come back to the good side. It would have been great to finally witness Rhino ditch his VBD clan members and fend off the vicious stable as a cool setup for BFG. Having Rhino walk out on Heath and leaving him alone to be assaulted by VBD was a strange path to go down before the PPV, I must say. And finally, the latest episode of “Brian Myers Presents: How to be a Professional” was kind of a bust to me – I’m just ready to see Zicky Dice move on from all the corny backstage humor and show & prove in the ring now.
High Spots: Sami Zayn got new theme music! And it’s not half bad, either. It’s just too bad that Sami’s brand new entrance tune debut came on the same night that he got bodied by Drew McIntyre. Drew established himself as one of the newest pillars of SmackDown thanks to his impressive domination of his post-WWE Draft opponent. Nice work establishing Drew on his new home here. ALL HAIL, KING WOODS! Xavier Woods made good on his promise of winning this year’s King of the Ring and made sure to bask in his regal awesomeness during his official coronation as wrestling royalty. It was so dope watching Kofi Kingston bestow Woods with his kingly gear and do it all in front of a very appreciative crowd. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that no one came out to interrupt all the good tidings for King Woods, too! I hope to see The New Day member go on to even bigger and better things in the coming months.
Mansoor and Mustafa Ali had an immediate rematch on this episode of SmackDown just 24 hours after their Crown Jewel war. This match was a fun sprint that showcased Mansoor’s immense potential once again. The short runtime for this rematch was a bit of a letdown, but both men filled all that time with enough exciting action to keep me entertained from start to finish. The strong chemistry between Shinsuke Nakamura and Happy Corban has to be one of the biggest in-ring surprises of the year. I usually tune out during any Corbin match, but that’s never the case whenever he’s in the ring with Shinsuke. The match they had here was pretty good, plus Rick Boogs’ guitar upliftment for Shinsuke was an entertaining gimmick.
Botches: The first time Brock Lesnar got “suspended indefinitely,” it was pretty exciting since it came as a genuine shock when he assaulted non-wrestlers. When he did it on this episode of SmackDown, I saw it coming from a mile away. Which in turn made me not as hype for all the damage “The Beast” did this time around. Watching Roman Reigns goad him into coming out was cool and all, but the destruction Brock caused when he finally came out didn’t really land with me. Watching Michael Cole catch an F5 from the rampaging monster was much better than watching him do the same to Adam Pearce is all I’m saying. (S)Hit Row’s era of mediocrity sadly began here with a super corny pre-match promo that made my skin crawl. I can watch Isaiah “Swerve” Scott wrestle all day. Top Dollah, though? Not feeling him whatsoever.
I thought it was lame when the tag team titles for both Raw and SmackDown were simply swapped during last year’s draft, so you can probably guess how I felt about the idiotic women’s title exchange that took place between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch here. Simply relinquishing one’s belt just so you can grab the other one as you take over the new brand’s division is just so underwhelming to me. The constant childish games between the two ladies were annoying as hell, too. I’m really burnt out on different combinations of the Four Horsewomen feuding, so I’m not at all excited about yet another Banks vs. Charlotte feud.
High Spots: If Tony Khan asked me to empty out my savings account just so I could get constant rematches between Andrade El Idolo and Pac, I’d pay up immediately! This episode saw the second meeting between the two and it was even better than that awesome encounter they had on a previous episode of Rampage. It started out hot with Pac getting the better of Andrade, then it evolved into Andrade brutalizing his opponent with stiff kicks and a death-defying apron DDT. Pac responded in kind with some vicious kicks of his own and a devastating Sheerdrop Brainbuster off of the top rope! The ending for this 2021 MOTYC came as a shock as Pac rolled up Andrade out of nowhere for the win.
Then suddenly, the lights went dark and came back on to reveal Malakai Black brooding in the ring. Seemingly as a favor to Andrade, Malakai blasted Pac with his trademark black mist and began kicking him while he was down. Andrade and his new associate almost did far worse to Pac, but then Arn Anderson emerged to distract them with his terrifying “Armed Anderson” finger pistol. This resulted in Cody Rhodes (who actually got cheered this time!) coming out to assault both men and build up some excitement for his third match with Malakai. This episode’s main event and post-match angle were some damn good wrestling TV!
It looks like the Lucha Bros. vs FTR for the AEW World Tag Team Championship is definitely a go for Full Gear! The brief segment that happened between the two teams made that abundantly clear as Tully Blanchard clobbered Penta El Zero M’s manager and even left the masked one laying. Based on their previous contests, I can’t wait to see those two tandems run it back on PPV. And lemme give some props to Anna Jay – I might not be a huge fan of hers, but she proved she could go with the best of ‘em during her clash with Britt Baker. Their match saw unique counter grappling, stiff elbow shots, and some surprisingly good back & forth offense. That was clearly Anna’s best AEW match to date and it pointed to someone that could be even better as the years go on.
Botches: As soon as I read the full bracket for the World Title Eliminator tournament, I just knew Orange Cassidy would find a way to get past the much larger Powerhouse Hobbs. I wished Hobbs would have gotten pitted against someone else so he had a higher chance of winning and moving on in the tourney, but that sadly wasn’t the case. Orange got the unsurprising win thanks to a huge screw-up on Hobbs’ part, which made sense considering the hot-headedness of Taz’s big boy. But the match itself was practically a squash before the disappointing “slip on a banana peel” finish. That entire opening segment just didn’t sit right with me, honestly…
High Spots: Man, these Saturday Night Dynamite episodes be hitttin’! We started off this edition of the weekend series with a highly competitive matchup between Daniel Bryan and Dustin Rhodes, which is the sort of encounter I never knew I even wanted until it finally took place. Dustin hasn’t lost a step at his old age – it was awesome watching him keep up with Daniel and take it to him with a sick superplex. I loved what I saw from both men and hope to see Dustin continue showing these AEW young bucks (no pun intended) how it’s done. Kenny Omega delivered a fire line during his backstage promo that needs to be a T-Shirt ASAP – “Coward Shit.” And shout out to FTR and Penta El Zero M for delivering another heated promo against each other – I hope and pray that The Lucha Bros and FTR get 20 minutes to produce absolute in-ring perfection at Full Gear. Tony Nese got the “incoming talent in the front row at NXT” crowd treatment, which leads me to believe that he’s already #AllElite.
MJF continued to be incredibly out of pocket as he verbally accosted Florida and brought up Sting’s best buddy, Lex Luger. Sting put hands all over MJF once he entered the ring, but Shawn Spears and Wardlow ran out to put that beatdown to a quick end. Sting got put down via some vicious chair shots, which led to MJF continuing his campaign to mentally break down Darby Allin even more. Man when Darby pops back up, the live audience is going to lose its shit! And so will I. MJF vs. Darby is clearly going down at Full Gear with some sort of specialty attached to it – I can’t wait! Side note – Wardlow having an “Accountability Buddy” in Spears is actually pretty hilarious. The ladies division shined tonight thanks to a strong promo from Britt Baker that hyped up her Full Gear meeting with Tay Conti (that should be an exciting matchup!) and a surprisingly solid TBS Championship tournament bout between Penelope Ford & Ruby Soho. There were some obvious slip-ups here and there, but both women looked equally strong throughout the majority of their clash. The rest of the TBS Championship tourney looks like it’s gonna be a fun one.
Bobby Fish is out here prospering as a brutal heel that loves kicking out people’s legs out from under their legs (shout out to Owen Hart for that wonderful promo botch!). He squashed Anthony Greene with ease and even landed some extra stiff shots on the poor guy post-match. This brought out CM Punk, who clearly has Bobby in his sights and doesn’t appreciate his unsportsmanlike conduct. I’m definitely getting ROH circa early to mid-2000s vibes from a match between those two indy greats. Lio “The King of PPP Loan Scams” Rush got him and Dante Martin booked for a pretty dope exhibition on the next episode of Rampage against The Sydal Brothers. I’m watching that one just to see Lio in his new Power Rangers-inspired getup. Man, I feel so bad for Lance Archer. He and Eddie Kingston were having a damn good match until Lance landed on his head during a moonsault attempt. I appreciate both men for going straight to a quick finish just so Lance could get to the back and get checked out. I love the big lug, so here’s hoping he’s okay and comes back to wreak more havoc on random ringside “fans” real soon.
I was pretty damned happy to see Ethan Page get a lot of promo time here – he’s always been one of the more underrated mic men in wrestling. Sammy Guevara came out to deliver some verbal bars of his own against him and the manager with the most heat in modern-day wrestling, Dan Lambert. We got a TNT Championship match booked between Sammy and Ethan for the Wednesday night return of Dynamite out of that promo exchange, so fine work from everyone involved there. Jon Moxley provided the promo of the night when he spoke on the one thing he cares about over everything else – his daughter. He’s doing everything he can to win the World Title Eliminator tourney in a bid to support his family. A Moxley that’s out to do damage in order to keep the food on the table for his family and his first child is a very scary man indeed. Seeing Adam Page reunite with The Dark Order was so wholesome – I’m dying to know what Halloween costumes they’ll wear during their six-man tag against The Elite!
Jungle Boy made short work of Brandon Cutler and proceeded to cut a pretty decent promo against The Elite. Adam Cole came out to lambast him and caught a stiff elbow shot for his troubles, which resulted in The Young Bucks running out to superkick the hell out of Jungle Boy. At the end of that segment, Jungle Boy got viciously thrown off the stage and right through two nearby tables. It’s looking like Christian Cage will soon make his return to gain revenge for that despicable (yet wholly entertaining!) act. If you would have told me that Miro would be one of the best promos of 2021, I would have told you to seek professional mental health assistance. Miro’s post-TNT Championship run has seen him produce some passionate diatribes about his God forsaking him and forcing him to be even more destructive than ever before. HIS BLOOD IS ON YOUR HAND, MIRO’S GOD!
And in the main event, Malakai Black and Cody Rhodes had an insane third meeting that came off like a TNA Jeff Jarrett PPV main event. But this example of that sort of match was one of the good ones. The crowd’s excitement levels were through the roof for this one as they booed Cody relentlessly, cheered Malakai every time he got on offense, and chanted “GET THE GLOCK!” when Arn Anderson hopped into the ring. This match also featured a classic “Double A” spinebuster, Pac & Andrade El Idolo brawling on the ramp, and a ringside table Cross Roads bump. This match was pure madness, yet I enjoyed every minute of it. Cody finally got one over on the leader of the “House of Black,” which I’m sure infuriated a ton of people. I’m not even gon lie – I really thought Cody was gonna end Malakai with a Pedigree! He ended up finishing Malakai off with a nasty Underhook Piledriver instead. Another wild ending to another great episode of Dynamite!
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…
High Spots: If you’ve been watching WWE’s Saudi Arabia specials since the very beginning, then you know they’re usually forgettable events that are filled with underwhelming matches. But to my surprise, this year’s Crown Jewel easily surpassed all those past events and ended up being a great show overall. Every match (AND I MEAN, EVERY MATCH!) ranged in quality from shockingly good to expectedly great. I figured Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley and Zalina Vega vs. Piper Niven wouldn’t amount to much of anything, but they ended up being far better than they had any right to be.
Edge vs. Seth Rollins in Hell in a Cell was amazing, Mansoor vs. Mustafa Ali was a great showing for the hometown star, Xavier Woods finally realized his dream of becoming King of the Ring, Big E successfully defended his WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre in a damn good match, and the triple threat for the SmackDown Women’s Championship was pure poetry in motion. And in the main event, we actually got a much better rendition of that corny-ass title belt tug of war from 2015 between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman’s loyalty was definitely in question. But in the end, Roman’s advocate stood by him and helped him leave Crown Jewel with his Universal Championship intact. Crown Jewel 2021 has to be considered as one of the best shows of the year.
MOOSE! MOOSE! MOOSE! Mere moments after Josh Alexander claimed the Impact World Championship from Christian Cage, Moose cashed in his “Call Your Shot” opportunity for a title shot and captured the belt after landing a devastating Spear FTW! And Moose did all of this right in front of Josh’s family! That was a hell of an ending to a pretty good Bound For Glory PPV. Jordynne Grace became the first-ever Digital Media Champion, The IInspiration made their debut & captured the Knockouts Tag Team Championship, Trey Miguel won his first-ever X-Division Championship, and Mickie James claimed the Knockouts Championship. The main event between Josh and Christian was a strong showcase of two Canadian greats, plus we got a hell of a post-match shocking ending to bring the show to a shocking close. And hey, we also got to see WCW’s “The Demon” show up just for the hell of it!
Botches: I had no clue how much of a madman Rob Black was during his run as the owner of Xtreme Pro Wrestling back in the day. I certainly found out about his wild nature during the latest episode of Dark Side of the Ring. It focused on the rise and fall of XPW – I got a deeper insight into the company’s rivalry with Paul Heyman & ECW, Rob’s porno empire, the shocking affair between Lizzie Borden & Messiah, and the brutal attack brought upon Messiah by two nameless thugs. XPW was one of those companies I didn’t follow too much during my younger days, so this episode of DSOTR made me fully aware of just how tumultuous its run turned out to be. It really sucks how Messiah lost his thumb and the sacrifices a lot of XPW’s talent took during their over-the-top hardcore bouts.