Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: November 8-November 14


High Spots: The eight-man tag that got this edition of Raw going wasn’t anything overly special, but it served its purpose well as a solid opener. The biggest story coming out of that match was the breakdown in communication and camaraderie between AJ Styles & Omos and The Dirty Dawgs. Based on what happened between them, it’s clear to me and everyone else that those two teams are gonna be at each other’s throats right alongside RK-Bro and The Street Profits. I guess they all gotta find a way to get along before Survivor Series, though – I smell some tag team brand warfare coming our way! Bobby Lashley is the epitome of that one Michael Jordan meme that explains his sentiment about kids (y’all know the one!). First, he put his hands on Goldberg’s son. And here, he manhandled Rey Mysterio’s boy Dominik and took his spot on the Men’s Survivor Series team. Now all is right in the world! Our WWE Champion Big E came out to work magic with one of the most slept on wrestlers in the world, Chad Gable. In a four-minute+ span, I got to see the leader of the Alpha Academy prove his worth again against the equally amazing megastar of Raw. The ending was never in doubt – even still, I loved watching Chad mix it up with WWE’s top champion and look great in the process.

So the main story thread running through this show was the fact that Kevin Owens simply can’t be trusted. I’ve been following this man since his ROH glory days with El Generico, so I kinda feel Rollins and Big E when it comes to doubting Owens’ reliability. Watching Owens plead with Big E while the champ lathered himself up in cocoa butter was way more hilarious than it had any right to be, I swear! And I popped again once Big E smacked the hell out of Austin Theory’s phone when he tried to get a selfie with the champ. I wouldn’t mind a match between those two and it looks like that might be a possibility on the next episode of Raw. As for the main event, Rollins and Owens gelled well as expected and made sure to put forth all their energy for the appreciative audience. Rollins’ count-out victory caused Owens to flip his lid and, in all his frustration, take aim at Big E at ringside. Owens did what I and everyone else expected him to do – get back into prizefighter mode and decimate the WWE Champion. I’m totally here for a triple threat match between Big E, Owens, and Rollins post-Survivor Series.

Botches: Rollins and his Lite Brite raincoat drip were not hittin’. And the same can be said about his uninspired promo at the start of this show that ran on for way too long. Owens really saved me from tappin’ out on this episode of Raw – thank god he came out to make Seth stop talking and haul ass from his main event opponent for the evening. Reggie vs. Drake Maverick? Pure basura, moving on! The sooner WWE kills the 24/7 Championship division, the better. But they won’t, so I still gotta suffer through it for the remainder of my life. So the five ladies set up for Raw’s Women’s Survivor Series team were all put in a multi-women match to hash out their issues before the PPV. And I’ma keep it a stack with you, guys and gals – I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of it. Liv Morgan won, which was a nice change of pace. But I haven’t been feeling anything Becky Lynch has been a part of as of late – a match between “The Man” and Liv doesn’t really inspire me with a lot of confidence in it being any good.

NXT 2.0

High Spots: So there were three good things I have to acknowledge from this super subpar airing of NXT 2.0. And that’s the opening bout, the triple threat, and the main event. I’ll never join the Toxic Attraction fan club, but I’ll give ‘em props when props are due. The three of them had quite the fast-paced and surprisingly compelling matchup against Io Shirai, Kacy Catanzaro, and Kayden Carter. Mandy Rose’s sudden spinebuster to Io Shirai made me pop for anything Mandy has done for the very first time in my life. Good stuff here from the NXT 2.0 women’s division. Solo Sikoa got to keep his mean streak going during a decent triple threat match with Grayson Waller and LA Knight. I always feel some way about Knight taking an L (Sikoa took him out with his signature top-tope splash), but I totally understand why this loss had to happen – Sikoa is on fire and is being built up to become even more of a force on Tuesday nights.

And now let’s get into the awesome main event between Carmelo Hayes and Pete Dunne. It was pretty wild watching the past of NXT clash with the present during this action-packed encounter. Hayes went all the way with the disrespect shown to Johnny Gargano by locking Dunne in the Gargano Escape, but it didn’t help him notch another win. A distraction from “Johnny Wrestling” and Dexter Lumis’ attack on Trick Williams ended up being enough to throw Hayes off his game and result in Dunne ending him with a Bitter End. So is the “Bruiserweight” getting added to this whole North American Championship feud between Hayes and Gargano on account of his victory over the champion? It would seem so…

Botches: NXT 2.0’s overreliance on corny ass skits that belong on an episode of Saturday Night Live reared its ugly head here once again. MSK is pure cringe whenever they speak – I just can’t bring myself to invest in anything they do when it doesn’t involve them flipping and dipping all over the ring. Their ongoing search for the mystery guru is just god-awful stuff. Another tag team that’s been forced to star in hokey segments is the Grizzled Young Veterans, who got engaged in some “urban training” that just made me think “they deserve so much better.” Andre Chase continued to suck the life outta the room with his horrid “Chase University” skits, so nothing new there. Kay Lee Ray will always be the equivalent of watching paint dry, so you can probably guess how I felt about her match with Sarray. And Raquel Gonzalez spoke into a mic, which is never a good thing. The next Wargames got announced without William Regal doing his signature call for it, which honestly took all the excitement out of it.

Tony D’Angelo continued to puzzle me as to why he has a fanbase with another one of his backstage skits where he interrupted some folks via lame humor. Jacket Time vs. The Creed Brothers felt like it was being wrestled underwater to me – it just moved way slower than it should have when you consider Kushida’s inclusion in the match. Joe Gacy vs. Boa ended with some gimmicky bullshit via flashing lights that led to Boa choking Gacy in the ropes and earning himself a DQ. That was supremely stupid. We had a boring squash match that saw Elektra Lopez flatten Erica Yan, plus some post-squash interaction between Legado Del Fantasma and Xyon Quinn that didn’t interest me whatsoever. The same can be said for Cameron Grimes (who I’m slowly losing my favoritism towards) vs. Ru Feng. The post-match announcement of a Poker Showdown between Grimes and Duke Hudson fills me with nothing but dread. And finally, Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner continued to expose the fact that they have 0 chemistry and further convinced me that Kyle is gonna peace out of WWE once his contract expires.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: Now that’s how you do a PPV go-home show! AEW could have easily phoned it in for this edition of Dynamite, but they presented an exceptional show full of captivating matches and compelling promos. First up were Bryan Danielson and one of the hardest working men in the wrestling business, Rocky Romero (the dude walks through the “Forbidden Door” to make some big deals happen and finds time to wrestle in numerous companies all the while). This match was a solid opener that featured some slick submission work that took me back to the early days of both mens’ ROH runs. I’ve enjoyed watching Danielson whip out all types of submissions to finish his opponents lately – it makes his matches a bit unpredictable and that much more interesting. The Inner Circle were supposed to have a quick chat with Tony Schiavone, but The Men of the Year & American Top Team jumped ‘em before they even had a chance to speak. Dan Lambert got to have his “Bully Ray putting Dixie Carter through a table” moment when he did the same to Chris Jericho with the help of Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page. I laughed my ass off when Dan yelled out the true name of the Walls of Jericho and the original master of it while he held Jericho in it. Hot beatdown angle right there.

We got a six-woman tag that saw Tay Conti, Anna Jay, and Thunder Rosa take on Dr. Britt Baker, Rebel, and Jamie Hayter. While the match was a bit sloppy in parts, it still had its good moments here and there – Conti’s spirited comeback and the way that Hayter sold the hell out of Rosa’s flying body splash on the outside were both pretty lit! Conti got the winning pin here and looked strong heading into her match with Baker at Full Gear, so mission accomplished. Anthony Bowens of The Acclaimed is looking more and more like a future singles star in the making! His match with Danielson from the last episode of Rampage and the match he had here with Jungle Boy provided further proof of that statement. Bowens’ apron DDT is sick and I always love watching him drop somebody with it. He did it here, but Jungle Boy and his badass five o’clock shadow ultimately took Bowens down. Afterward, Bobby Fish randomly ran out to kick Jungle Boy’s ass for a bit. It turns out this run-in attack wasn’t so random after all, however – Adam Cole called on his former Undisputed Era stablemate to do some damage before Full Gear. I watched that segment and couldn’t help but think “IT’S TIME TO COME ON HOME, KYLE O’REILLY!” AEW needs reDRagon.

Hey, Wardlow’s here! And he powerbombed Wheeler Yuta into oblivion. The crowd was live as hell during all those repeated powerbombs, which made it quite evident that a babyface run for Wardlow could do gangbusters in the near future. The match of the night honors goes to the hyperfast and high-flying combination of Lio Rush and Dante Martin vs. Matt Sydal & Lee Moriarty. All four men moved a mile a minute as they pulled out all the stops to one-up their rivals. Rush is still as fly as he’s ever been and Martin matched his dizzying pace from bell to bell. Moriarty’s technical know-how provided the perfect counter to his opponents’ quicker style, while Sydal did everything in his stop top Rush & Martin’s gameplan. This was so damn good – even my Pops couldn’t take his eyes off the TV while all four men bounced all over the ring! The sky’s the limit for Martin and Moriarty. Miro just keeps on dropping the hottest bars of the year (sorry, Max Caster…). My man Miro really told Danielson to say goodbye to his wife so that Miro can go say hello to his. THIS MAN MIRO IS ON FIRE! Oh, and before I forget – Eddie Kingston running faster than the speed of light while he and CM Punk screamed at each other in the parking lot was hilarious!

Pac and Dax Harwood had themselves a very snug and hard-hitting matchup that provided a nice change of pace from the tag match that moved at hyperspeed minutes beforehand. They started slow with some stiff strikes and eventually grew more intense as they clobbered each other with some nasty chops & devastating suplexes. That top-rope brainbuster from Pac and Harwood’s Rebound Sitdown Powerbomb made me jump outta my seat! Pac pulled off a submission victory, but a post-match brawl took place and brought out Cash Wheeler, Malakai Black, Andrade El Idolo, Cody Rhodes, and the Lucha Brothers. And that was a damn good segment used to set up another match at Full Gear! For the final segment of the evening, Kenny Omega and Adam Page had a contract signing for their AEW World Championship match. Both men delivered very convincing promos that called back to their long history, which has taken place across numerous companies before AEW even came to be. The shocking return of Don Callis, his hidden cameraman reveal, and Page’s blood being used by the champ to sign the contract was the best ways to bring this quality go-home show of Dynamite to an end.

Botches: “Matt Hardy Will Not Die!” Remember that lil’ catchphrase he adopted at one point? Well, you can apply that statement to the seemingly never-ending feud between him and Orange Cassidy. I figured they would move on by now, but Matt’s constant ringside taunts aimed at Cassidy made it abundantly clear that they STILL have unfinished business. Watching Matt plant Orange with a chair-assisted Twist of Fate didn’t do much to get me excited about watching them square off again. I’m completely over it, honestly. Hopefully, the Lumberjack Match between both guys marks the definitive end to a feud that’s long run its course.

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: I GOT MY WISH, GUYS! The Bullet Club crew that consists of El Phantasmo and Chris Bey are now the #1 Contenders for the Impact World Tag Team Championship by virtue of their victory over FinJuice. And that honor came to both men after a pretty badass opener that showed me just how much dope of a tag team Phantasmo and Bey are (I hope NJPW gives ‘em some dates to work once those restrictions in Japan for foreigners are lifted). The Good Brothers don’t really do it for me anymore, so here’s hoping the Bullet Club’s US representatives claim the tag team belts from them at Turning Point. Before he tries to end Josh Alexander’s life, Minoru Suzuki chose to lessen Kaleb with a K’s lifespan in a quick squash match. It felt so good watching Suzuki pull out that Gotch-Style Piledriver and use it to send Kaleb’s ass packing in short order. “Murder Grandpa” and his USA tour have been such a joy to follow this year. 

Heath and his cheese & crackers connoisseur Rhino are together again! And it felt so damn good to hear them take aim at Violent by Design by issuing a challenge for Turning Point. I’m gonna need that encounter to be nothing but a hardcore struggle! Rhino’s gotta Gore Eric Young through a guardrail is all I’m saying. Mercedes Martinez and Madison Rayne had themselves a pretty decent matchup – while the roll-up pin was a weak finish for Mickie James’ future opponent, I was still pleased with her getting any type of win before Turning Point. The Knockouts Champion came out to help her future foe after the match once Rayne jumped on her (James’ Chick Kick looked like dogshit though, not even gon lie). Shout out to Martinez for putting James to sleep with that move Sheamus always does (White Noise, right?).

Just one night after having a banger with Bryan Danielson in AEW, Rocky Romero popped up here to do the very same thing with Rohit Raju. Raju got past that eye poke from earlier in the match and overcame someone he truly respects in the end. The man’s explosive knees did some fine work there! The main event from this episode was a fun one between Eddie Edwards, W. Morrisey, and Matt Cardona. I was hoping to see Morrisey get the win here ‘cause I really wanted to watch a big boy war between him and Moose at Turning Point. My man “Double E” eked out the win though, which is fine since it gives Moose a great dance partner for his PPV first title defense.

Botches: I could live without seeing any more backstage skits from Brian Myers and his flunkies – they’re just tiresome at this point and have no good matches to show for ‘em. Myers vs. Sam Beale doesn’t sound like it’ll change that troubling trend, sadly. The Decay destroyed some Undead Brides or whatever. I’m just ready to see The IInspiration embarrass ‘em all over again at Turning Point. We got a Steve Maclin promo on this episode, which gave me enough time to get a quick nap in. Trey Miguel woke me up with all his screaming, which didn’t make me too mad ‘cause I was happy to see the X-Division champ shut Maclin’s boring ass up. Johnny Swinger and Hernandez were here, too. And as always, it didn’t mean much and just proved to me that they’re nothing but wasted roster spots in this company…

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: Even though the pre-match brawl between the members of the Women’s Smackdown crew for Survivor Series was really silly, the six-woman tag that took place soon after was pretty good. Aliyah was on fire here and proved that her callup to the big leagues of WWE was the right choice to make. Consider me shocked at that development! Everyone else in the match worked hard to make this show’s opening match come off way better than I expected it to. Major props to the Blue Brand’s leading ladies! Speaking of the SmackDown ladies, Charlotte Flair might have herself a fresh challenger to compete with. After the SmackDown Women’s Champion gave the crowd one of her overly long and drawn-out promos, Toni hit the ring to add some much-needed intrigue to the proceedings. Charlotte completely brushed her off, but it’s quite evident that Toni will eventually find a way to become the #1 contender and make a play for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. I’m just happy to see Toni resurface on this damn show ‘cause she’s sadly been MIA lately.

The main event saw our current King of the Ring Xavier Woods go head to head with the “Head of the Table” Roman Reigns. Both men were on their way to having a great match before The Usos stuck their noses in and stomped a mudhole in the king’s royal ass. It’s pretty wild when you realize King Woods got himself a win over the Universal Champion, even though it came via disqualification. I hope we get to see Woods and Reigns go at it one more time before Survivor Series and get way more time to cook & produce the banger I and everyone else expect from them. I gotta hand it to the “Tribal Chief” – the man looks damn good with that crown on top of his flowing locks.

Botches: This year’s build-up to Survivor Series has to be the most confusing one they’ve ever done thus far. So WWE announced all the Raw and SmackDown team lineups on a random Sunday with no matches put in place beforehand to build up the teams. Now WWE has gone out of its way to muddy the waters by taking random members off of both teams and even having them fight each other. It was just so weird to see Sonya Deville take Aaliyah off of the SmackDown’s Women’s team – wouldn’t it have made more sense for say, Aliyah and Toni Storm fight for the right to be on the team instead of involving Aliyah in that tired ass evil GM feud between Sonya and Naomi? It was even more puzzling when Jeff Hardy beat Sami Zayn in a nothing match that led to Zayn getting booted off of the SmackDown’s Men squad. Just some odd booking decisions there. 

(S)Hit Row and Jinder Mahal & Shanky possibly delivered the cringiest promo of the year – the facepalm-worthy promo from the former NXT 2.0 stable and the shit-tastic “freestyle” & dance routine from Jinder & Shanky were the purest forms of torture. I was a bit let down by the tag team match between Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs and Los Lotharios – considering the talent of all four men involved, it just felt a bit too lethargic and unremarkable for my tastes. What also disappointed me about this match was witnessing Nakamura as the Intercontinental Champion get pinned clean in the middle of the ring. I guess that’s just further proof that the long-running midcard title will continue to be a complete afterthought that’s better off as a paperweight at this point.

AEW Rampage

High Spots: Jungle Boy and that fresh batch of badass facial hair are doing wonders for the young wrestling prodigy these days! He came out to get some much-needed revenge on Bobby Fish and did just that, but he damn sure had to work for it. Fish worked over his arm and almost ripped it out of its damn socket, plus he made sure to mix in some stiff strikes and suplexes to keep him grounded. Jungle Boy fought back valiantly though and put the man to sleep with his patented Snare Trap submission. After that solid opener came to a close, Adam Cole ran out to get his licks in on Jungle Boy. That plan almost came to fruition before Christian Cage and Junglesaurus hit the ring to make the save. Fish caught himself a nasty Unprettier for his troubles as The SuperKliq looked on in disgust. That was a nice way to build up one of my most anticipated matches for Full Gear. Backstage, Adam Page came through with some heated words for his former Elite buddies, The Young Bucks. “If you so much as lay a hand on me, I will end you.” I just love a good threat! Matt and Nick Jackson better not go anywhere near the Full Gear main event is all I know.

Queen Jade Cargill kept on racking up some wins here as she got rid of Santana Garrett in just a few seconds. The biggest development from that whole segment was Cargill’s increasingly hostile relationship with Red Velvet. Red Velvet made sure to ruin Cargill’s one-year anniversary in the company by smashing her manager’s face in some cake and scrapping with her for a bit. Those two hotheads are gonna have quite the quality matchup when they meet once again during the TBS Women’s Championship tournament. Afterward, a hometown battle between Minnesota’s very own Dante Martin and Ariya Daivari ensued. It was pretty cool seeing Daivari get some AEW work here after his 205 Live venture spent in WWE. This match was what I expected it to be – a fast-paced, high-flying spectacle. Martin pulled away with the win, of course. And just a few moments after securing the victory, Team Taz went into recruit mode as they made a contract offer to Martin. I guess now we’re going to see Martin eventually reject that offer and force him and Lio Rush into a feud with Taz’s crew. And that excites me ‘cause I’m dyin’ to Martin vs. “Absolute” Ricky Starks. 

The main event of the evening saw Orange Cassidy finalize his seemingly never-ending grudge with “Big Money” Matt Hardy in a Lumberjack Match. It started out on a pretty tame note as Matt continuously threw Orange outside of the ring to get assaulted by the heels. But during the match’s second half, it livened up a lot more as Orange and his Best Friends went flying over the top rope onto Matt and all of his paid-for cronies. I definitely livened up a bit myself as everyone inside and outside the ring started producing total chaos with all their wild brawling. I was shocked to see Matt actually walk away with the pin that signified the end of this feud. The match itself was surprisingly decent, which is a sentiment I didn’t think I’d feel going into it. I’m just happy AEW is finally moving on from this one…

Botches: Matt Hardy clearly made 0 contact with that final elbow drop of his…

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: A whole bunch of non-WWE feds put on some major shows over the weekend – House of Glory Wrestling gave its fans Amazing Red vs. Will Ospreay, Game Changer Wrestling came through with its Evil Deeds show, and New Japan Pro Wrestling presented one of its US specials in the form of the Battle in the Valley. But the most important show of the entire weekend was undoubtedly All Elite Wrestling’s Full Gear. Even though it featured its fair share of strange finishes and a long runtime that seemed to tire out the crowd at several intervals, this year’s Full Gear still pushed out an amazing night of professional wrestling. 

MJF/Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston/CM Punk, and the main event between Kenny Omega/Adam Page were the clear-cut highlights when the topic of best matches come to mind. The visual of the “Hangman” finally holding up that AEW World Championship while the Dark Order celebrated with him brought a tear to my eye. And now that I know that former ROH star Jay Lethal and NJPW’s “Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii are gonna be doing some AEW work real soon, I’m even more excited about AEW’s future. What a damned good weekend of professional wrestling!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

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