High Spots: SmackDown got the first stab at doing things in front of a live crowd last week. Now it was Monday Night Raw’s turn. And to be quite honest, it paled in comparison to last week’s Friday night extravaganza. There were some fun highlights worth mentioning here, though. First off, John Cena delivered a pretty strong promo that was all about letting Roman Reigns know he’s gonna pull up on him on SmackDown. He and Riddle had a brief encounter, which was corny as all hell but I still smirked once it happened. The six-man tag team match that followed proved to be one of those barnburners that gave the crowd something substantial to chew on. Mansoor has finally seen the light, it seems! Now he’s going to team up with Ali next week in a match that’s sure to give Mansoor another lesson that will push him further down the dark side. Embrace the hate, Mansoor.
KEITH LEE IS BACK! Man, I was so elated to see the glorious behemoth make his way back to Monday nights. Reality soon set in when he took that disappointing L to Bobby Lashley, however. It was pretty much grand opening, grand closing for the big(ger) guy. Jeff Hardy filled my eyes with tears of nostalgic joy once he came out to his classic 2008 tune “No More Words.” Once those opening chords kicked in, I felt like I was back at that legendary SmackDown WWE Championship celebration he had with all the confetti and fireworks going off. Good times. Oh and he beat Karrion Kross. Which sucks for NXT cause he’s supposed to be their unstoppable killer that reigns supreme as the black and yellow brand’s top champion. Yet he lost in less than three minutes. I can’t stand the guy anyway, so this was a plus in my book.
Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley squared up with each other once again for the Raw Women’s Championship. But at the end of the evening, Nikki A.S.H. swopped in from her secret superhero hideout, cashed in, and ended up holding the big white and red belt once the credits hit the screen. That was a cool way to send off the show. I might hate Nikki’s new gimmick, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the fact that she finally won her first women’s championship in all of WWE.
Botches: And now, the bad. Jaxson Ryker and Elias had a match that had its moments, but it’s so hard to care for either man since they’ve faced each other countless times and haven’t developed anything worth caring about every time. Their hardcore brawl just felt like a halfhearted attempt at filling airtime. The women’s tag was another case of “it’s time to hit the beer and popcorn stands!” Nothing to see here, folks. Poor Reggie caught a mean headbutt from Nia Jax, which looks to be the end of their strange cuckold partnership. Whatever. Sheamus and Humberto Carrilo had yet another matchup, which ended up being average at best and instantly forgettable.
Instead of getting the match everyone called for in Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar, we’re getting a far worse consolation prize in Lashley vs. ‘Oldberg instead. Ay, you know what? I would have been much happier if Lee got the big push here instead and had their match planned for SummerSlam instead of giving it away on this episode. With a proper build, that clash of the titan’s matchup would have proven to be monumental in Las Vegas. But alas, Vince wants his aging veterans to fill the card at one of the biggest shows of the year as always. Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal bores me to tears, so I don’t feel the need to pay any attention to what they’re doing during their feud. Eva Marie and Piper Niven (I refuse to call her by her new nickname!) paid a visit to Alexa’s Playground. And as you probably guessed, I checked all the way out during that complete waste of a segment.
High Spots: So this installment of NXT was nothing to really write home about. I feel like Kross’ embarrassing loss to Jeff Hardy on Raw set a bad tone coming into this one. As always, mediocre wrestling shows have their few bright spots. Samoa Joe got some mic time, which is always a plus. He clearly wants to put Kross to sleep and it looks like he might get the chance to do so at the next TakeOver (which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 22). If they can hold off long enough for that match to build to a fever pitch, then it should make for a hotly contested encounter. William Regal getting laid out by Kross at the end of the show added an extra bit of fuel to the raging fire that is Kross vs. Joe. So The Diamond Mine have already taken a loss! Pretty shocking considering they recently debuted for the black and yellow brand. But hey, at least they were defeated in a good match. Bobby Fish will forever bore me to tears, but I’ll give him credit for putting in the work alongside Kushida to make their opening match pop.
Kyle O’Reilly and Austin Theory put on their working boots as usual. They made sure to fill up the 14 minutes they were given with some intense back and forth action. Seems like Kyle slips into a crazed state of mind now whenever he comes across a set of steel steps. Hopefully, he repays Adam Cole for what he did to him on those same steel steps when the time finally arrives for their rubber match. We got an interesting wrinkle in the ongoing LA Knight/Cameron Grimes storyline. A fluke victory from Drake Maverick led to him catching a severe beating from the Million Dollar Champion – Grimes was forced to get in a quick lick of his own, which obviously pained him to do so. Man the crowd is gonna pop huge once Grimes finally defies Knight and goes the full babyface route! That needs to be a feud ending TakeOver match, don’t you think? Bronson Reed is gonna get his big meaty hands on Adam Cole on the next episode of NXT. He made his violent intentions quite clear during his sit-down interview with Wade Barrett, which I definitely appreciated.
Botches: We were treated to two squash matches on this episode. And quite frankly, I mentally checked out when they happened. Franky Monet and Odyssey Jones (the random WWE name generator strikes again!) made quick work of their victims. It worked to solidify them even more, but I wasn’t all that into their pure domination segments. Hit Row sucks the life outta me every time they’re on screen, so I definitely felt depleted of all my energy during their run-in with Legado del Fantasma. I’ve lost all interest in the tag team contingent of Imperium, so I’d be lying if I said I was excited about their teased meeting with MSK. Here’s hoping Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan step up to MSK at some point in the near future. Sucks what happened to Xia Li – Raquel Gonzalez came down hard on that top rope senton and looked to have put Li out of commission for real. The match was going just fine until that injury forced a rushed finish into place. Get well soon, Li!
High Spots: BIG LANCE FTW! For the longest time now, “The Murderhawk Monster” hasn’t really been given something meaningful to get wrapped up in. Seeing someone of his caliber be so aimless these past few months has been upsetting. I was happy that he got booked on this episode for such an important match for the IWGP United States Championship. But I figured Lance Archer was going to just be another warm bod for Jon Moxley to overcome. But lo and behold, the big man shocked me and everyone watching by defeating Moxley and getting his hands back on one of NJPW’s most prestigious titles. Their Texas Death Match was befitting of the main event slot – it had crazy brawling in the crowd, Archer throwin’ a MF’er at another MF’er, plenty of bloodletting, and jaw-dropping moments. At the end of it all, Archer chokeslammed Moxley through a pair of barbed wire tables and became a champion in his hometown. His next challenger in Hikuleo doesn’t excite me one bit, however. All I know is this – Archer better destroy him in a quick fashion to really get his title reign started on a strong note.
So yeah, this episode of Dynamite was another good showing for the company. While it wasn’t as great as the previous week’s airing, I still enjoyed most of what this episode had to offer. Britt Baker and Nyla Rose put on a solid match for the AEW Women’s World Championship that gave D.M.D. her first successful title defense. Orange Cassidy finally overcame The Butcher and proceeded to put him to sleep with a Brass Knuckles-assisted Orange Punch. Earlier in the show, he had a hilarious interaction with Sting during Wheeler Yuta and Darby Allin’s matchup (which was also pretty good, by the way). Even the opening match with Chris Jericho and Shawn Spears ended up being better than expected. The post-match announcement of Jericho’s next trial was bonkers, though. At Fight for the Fallen, Jericho will enter into a hardcore war with NICK F’N GAGE! If you don’t know who that is, just go look up his episode of Dark Side of the Ring and check out some of his CZW & GCW work. The dude is a menace to society that will definitely give Jericho a run for his money.
Kenny Omega and Adam Page are headed for a collision course for the AEW World Championship, which I hope and pray gets saved for All Out. I don’t know if they can hold off until September 5, but I think AEW can find it in themselves to book their first encounter in the company all the way up until that PPV main event. Can’t wait to see Omega’s Elite backup and Page’s Dark Order besties square up real soon. CHAVITO IS IN AEW! And now he’s the newest manager for Andrade El Idolo. Andrade and Vickie Guerrero weren’t a good fit in my opinion, so this union makes far more sense. All signs are pointing to The Death Triangle each getting the chance to impress with Andrade, which are three matches I can’t wait to see (especially him vs. Rey Fenix!). I wouldn’t be mad if Fenix and Penta El Zero M turned on Pac and linked up with their Latino brethren in the end.
Botches: Kaz and Luke Gallows had a nothing match, honestly. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Gallows, so I had a feeling this match wasn’t going to be worth a damn. And sadly, my prediction proved to be true. QT Marshall and his cronies showed up once again and got some more promo time. I didn’t hear a word they said ‘cause I didn’t really care to, honestly.
High Spots: Now that crowds are back in the Impact Zone, the mood has definitely changed for the better and everything feels a bit more eventful post-Slammiversary. Every one of the matches that were shown on this episode clearly had that extra bit of energy to it thanks to the loud response from those in attendance. Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju, the six-man tag, the Parking Lot Brawl between Eddie Edwards & W. Morrissey, the tag team match that took place later in the show, and even the Knockouts Tag Team Championship bout ended up being lively contests. News already came out about Kiera Hogan taking her leave from Impact, so it made sense for her to compete alongside her Fire n’ Flava partner Tasha Steelz and wrestle her final match in the main event slot. Hope to see the fiery young queen make the move over to NXT in the near future.
Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo kept the inter-promotional hype going with their strong promo segment. Purrazzo is headed to NWA Empowerr and I hope she ends up getting booked against James herself or possibly Melina! I’m super excited to see who gets booked on that all-women’s show from Impact, ROH, and the rest of the indies as we get closer to the event. The Bullet Club vs. The Elite war continued here as Jay White exuded all the confidence in the world as he spoke down on his former stablemates. White certainly knows his way around the mic, which was clearly evident during his segment. Chris Bey may have just earned himself a spot on White’s BC clique due to his aid, which points to the X-Division star getting booked in New Japan in the coming months. This episode of Impact had a lot of life to it and I can’t wait to see the company maintain its momentum in the coming weeks.
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…
High Spots: This episode of SmackDown was a show of two halves. Let’s talk about the better half first. The opening promo exchange between John Cena and Paul Heyman was great. I’m gonna need Heyman to do his own renditions of everyone else’s theme songs from now on cause his version of Cena’s tune was super tough! That tongue roll was masterful sir! Whoa…that sounded kinda crazy. Excuse me for that. The closing promo that saw Roman Reigns deliver a scathing line about Cena’s act being comparable to that boring old missionary position was also damn good! So we’re getting Finn Bálor vs. the “Tribal Chief” for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam? Probably not – I feel like that match will go down on a random episode of SmackDown in the coming weeks. Reigns vs. Cena is pretty much a lock for the August spectacular, in my opinion.
Edge vs. Seth Rollins is pretty much a done deal for SummerSlam now. The intensity levels for their segment were off the charts and the longstanding hate-filled history between the two made for an interesting faceoff that sets their grudge match up perfectly. If I’m WWE, I’d go ahead and book their SummerSlam war with a Street Fight stipulation put in place. Side note – Rollins doesn’t run out of suits, does he? I need to holla at that man’s wardrobe maestro ‘cause I gotta get like him! SmackDown’s midcard is in a great state since it’s filled with a wealth of quality talent. I’m excited to see who ends up getting a shot at Apollo and his Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. Cesaro should be that guy is all I’m saying!
Botches: And now let’s get into the worse half of this episode. So WWE decided to film two of its matches for the evening in front of the crowd at Rolling Loud Miami. From listening to both matches, you could tell the people there didn’t give a single you-know-what about what was transpiring. Which is an indictment on WWE’s lack of star-making ability since barely anyone reacted to the who was wrestling in front of them. If I were in charge of booking matches for this festival, I’d have pitted Rey Mysterio vs. Jeff Hardy and Edge vs. Randy Orton. Most of the crowd at Rolling Loud Miami recognize those names since they signify hot periods in wrestling where the casuals tuned in, so at least those performances would have gotten a pop. So yeah, the Rolling Loud Miami experiment was a total bust.
The match quality as a whole on this episode was severely lacking as a matter of fact. None of them stood out or really offered anything all too entertaining. Bálor vs. Sami Zayn was meh, Toni Storm vs. Zelina Vega was a boring squash, and there was an obvious botch during the Jimmy Uso vs. Dominik Mysterio match. Oh and the down bad Baron Corbin segment we got on this episode didn’t really land with me as much as his GoFundMe bit from the previous episode of SmackDown.
High Spots: So check this out – on January 1, 2022, WWE is going to Atlanta to put on a Peacock PPV event at the State Farm Arena. Like, how wild is that? On the first day of the New Year, we’re getting a major wrestling card? It usually takes forever to get to the Royal Rumble that month, so setting up this new event for the first month of 2022 should keep everyone satisfied ‘till the big 30 man/woman battle royal. Oh and shout out to the new king of hardcore, Matt Cardona! He walked into GCW Homecoming like Cena did during ECW Extreme Rules 2006, weathered the storm from the hardcore fed’s rabid fanbase, and managed to defeat Nick Gage to capture the company’s top championship. WHAT IS WRESTLING IN 2021, BRUH? I spoke on all the CM Punk and Daniel Bryan going to AEW rumors in an extensive article, by the way. Go ahead and check that one out when ya can!
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…