High Spots: Riddle’s attempts at making me crack a smile always fall flat, but the man always knows how to regain my interest every time he enters the ring. He and Dolph Ziggler put on a stirring match that saw Riddle pull off a slick powerslam and devastating RKO just like his tag team championship partner. After the match, Randy Orton made sure to repay the favor by planting Robert Roode with his own version of the Bro Derek. I love the camaraderie between those two unlikely partners – I just hope it doesn’t come to an end on that old tired “partner turns on the other out of nowhere!” storyline WWE loves reverting back to. Now it seems like Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor got issues, which is perfectly fine by me. Those two getting into a new feud will result in nothing but fire matches, so I hope they go at it for a bit before Seth’s WWE Championship title shot comes around. Their brief brawl here was a nice tease of what’s to come between the two in the coming weeks. Seth definitely got the W during he and Finn’s first ringside encounter!
Damien Priest and his anger issues are kinda heat, I’m not gonna lie! The man has developed quite the short fuse lately and has been wildin’ out on a weekly basis. Apollo Crews is seemingly next in line to get a shot at the current United States Champion, as evidenced by his promo against Damien here. Now that’s a match I’m dying to see! Although we didn’t get to see it on this edition of Raw, Damien still got to put in some work by beating the holy hell out of Sami Zayn. I’ve long since stopped caring about the Brand Split (and so has WWE apparently!), so Sami’s appearance here didn’t bother me one bit. SmackDown’s resident conspiracy theory pusher had a decent match with Damien, Damien won, and now I’m ready to see the US Champ tap into his rage to do Apollo extra dirty.
Because of Austin Theory’s perceived ballsiness from Mr. McMahon, Austin found himself in the main event of Raw against Big E for the sport’s richest prize! This first-time matchup provided a fresh encounter that had some fun moments sprinkled throughout it. Could I have done without the distractions from Kevin Owens and Rollins? For sure! I just felt like Big E and Austin’s match would have been much better served without any of those outside influences. The match still ended up being a solid affair, though. The post-match action that took place between Big E, Owens, and Rollins is clearly pointing to all three men battling for the WWE Championship at some point. If Rollins feuds with Finn for a while and Owens steers clear of Big E for a bit longer, then I can see WWE holding off on that big-time Triple Threat Match until the middle or end of December. Maybe it could be the main event of next year’s Day 1 PPV, perhaps? We shall see…
Botches: Fam…fans are still out here hoppin’ the guardrail and tryna attack these wrestlers? That was embarrassing as hell for my city and it was especially scary ‘cause that random attack could have resulted in something far worse happening. I’m just glad Seth is okay. From what I’ve seen and read though, that dumbass fan came out on the worse end of his unexpected run-in. That was hard to watch, fam. Now let’s get into the shitty scripted stuff this episode of Raw forced me to endure. So Riddle went for a funny, hah-ha moment by dressing up like his homie Orton. I sat stone-faced through their entire cringy backstage segment – WWE comedy these days is comparable to modern-day Saturday Night Light. It’s just bad all around.
That egg…that damn egg! Vince McMahon really came back to TV to put a movie prop in the spotlight, make tone-deaf remarks about releasing people, and use that horrid gimmick item to hand out a WWE Championship opportunity to Austin. To make matters even more idiotic, it turns out Austin stole the egg in the first place to take a selfie with it! And instead of punishing the selfie taker, Vince awards him with a match against Big E ‘cause he was impressed with Austin’s boldness. WWE really took up PPV time at Survivor Series and on this showing of Raw to push a stolen egg storyline. Watching all those wrestlers frantically search for the egg backstage just put me in such a sour mood. So Becky Lynch rambled on and on as usual – she shitted on the fans for hating on the Women’s Survivor Series match from the night before (which was boring as all hell and deserved the tepid reaction it got). “The Man” is such a non-factor to me these days, so her promo went in one ear and out the other. Becky vs. Liv Morgan just doesn’t excite me, to be honest. Bianca Belair fought Tamina again for some reason. And just like their previous match, it served no purpose as it was no good and too short to amount to anything. Move Bianca onto something worth her time and energy, please!
I’m more than ready to see AJ Styles move back into singles competition now, especially after seeing him engage in a silly ass match alongside Omos against The Street Profits. To see it build to some big mystery bag reveal and only end up in a fire extinguisher coming out of it was just so deflating & unnecessary. It was a lame match with an even lamer ending. Hey, we got new Women’s Tag Team Champions y’all! *crickets* That was me and plenty of other fans’ reactions to that title change since 1. Those belts are worth their weight in copper and 2. The champs & challengers have been treated as nothing more than complete afterthoughts in an uneventful division. Rhea Ripley’s fall from grace has been legendary on the main roster. It’s kind of impressive how uncool and unimportant she’s become when compared to her incredible run on NXT. The 24/7 Championship made its unwelcome return with a nothing match between Cedric Alexander and Reggie. Cedric ended up winning the match and the garbage title, but then the circus came into town long enough to distract him and cause Dana Brooke to lay him down for the 1-2-3. Now Dana has the belt…and still, nobody cares.
The way they’re stretching out this whole Mysterio father and son drama is beyond annoying at this point. A Dominik Mysterio heel turn on his pops seems like it should have happened already, but suddenly they’ve mended fences in an effort to get back at Bobby Lashley. I’d much rather see Bobby get back into the WWE Championship picture instead of feuding with two guys who are nothing more than annoying pests to him. After watching Bobby tap out Dominik without breaking a sweat, I’m now hoping “The Almighty” puts all this BS behind him so he can tend to some more important duties. I truly never thought I’d be so annoyed by something that Rey Mysterio is involved in but here we are.
High Spots: Ay you know what? I kind of admired Grayson Waller at first. But his super cornball demeanor, cringe promo delivery, and horrible taste in-ring attire as of late have sent me flying off the bandwagon for the guy. But at least I got to see Tomasso Ciampa send him to “Never Never Land” after a highly competitive matchup with the young man. Grayson’s tolerable in the ring, at least – he looked decent in there against the NXT Champion. I’ll certainly give him his credit there. LA Knight still has unfinished business with the guy, though – Grayson jumped Mr. Knight from behind before the man could even have a match with the social media buzzword regurgitator, Joe Gacy. Afterward, The Diamond Mine’s Malcolm Bivens helped set up an NXT Cruiserweight Championship match at WarGames between Roderick Strong and Joe with the greatest line of the night – “Roderick Strong is gonna beat you like a Lil’ Jon track…YEAHHHHHHHHHHH!”
Speaking of The Diamond Mine, their lady representative Ivy Nile cleaned Yulisa Leon’s clock in a fun squash match. Ivy’s exercise reps in between a submission hold are a part of her gimmick that I can definitely get behind! I got a lotta love for her version of the Dragon Sleeper (big shout out to the move’s originator, Ultimo Dragon!). Ivy’s one of the few NXT 2.0 new blood talents that I actually care for. Can’t wait to see where she’s at in a year’s time. Solo Sikoa got to speak menacingly once again as he talked about fighting anyone and everyone. Simple, precise, and concise…nice worth there. CAMERON GRIMES HOLDS IT DOWN! TALK YO SHIT, MONEY MAN! I’ve been following the man since his PWG days and have been a fan of his ever since. It sure was nice watching him get serious for a moment (shout out to Lance Storm) and stop giving dating app advice on this show – Cameron definitely gave his best NXT promo to date. I can’t wait to see him stomp a cavern-sized hold in Duke Hudson’s chest at WarGames. A bald ass Duke sounds good to me!
I didn’t realize how much I missed Santos Escobar until I saw him make his return to active duty on this episode. Malik Blade played the part of his return vict…excuse me, opponent. Malik got a pretty dropkick, I’ll give him that. But that lil’ move of his just wasn’t enough to do any significant damage to the proud leader of Legado del Fantasma. Santos is back to wreak havoc once again and I’m glad he got to turn the tide back in his favor by destroying Malik. Judging by the post-match proceedings, it sounds like Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner will square off against Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza for the right to face Imperium at WarGames. I’m placing all my bets on Kyle and Von coming out as the victors of that one. NXT’s crowded tag-team scene kept on rolling along with a decent little encounter between Josh Briggs & Brooks Jensen and the Grizzled Young Veterans. I like both teams and don’t really enjoy watching either of them take a loss, but I was fine seeing them big ol’ country boys pick up the W since they needed it the most.
Well, what do you know? The Triple Threat Match for the NXT North American Championship was the biggest highlight of the night! The quality trio of Carmelo Hayes, Johnny Gargano, and Pete Dunne was a joy to sit and watch do battle – their match was a warm reminder of the match quality that NXT 1.0 was is still remembered fondly for. The action was fast & furious here thanks to some dope three-man exchanges and plenty of moments that had Johnny pulling off some of his finest signature high spots. Tony D’Angelo’s run-in helped Carmello retain the title, but everything fell into pure chaos during the big multi-man brawl that ended the show. #DIY reunited in the middle of it, which was a tearjerker of a reunion. Now the Men’s WarGames match is set and it’s going to be a war between the Old & New School’s of NXT. NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M HERE FOR!
Botches: Hey, a new NXT lady is about to make her presence felt! And her gimmick is…Beverly Hills rich girl that uses daddy’s money to get what she wants? How original! So yeah, I already don’t give a shit about this incoming Tiffany Stratton individual. The match that took place between Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro and Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta was a humdrum affair – it didn’t last long, the action itself was uninspired, and Indi’s constant ring finger observations annoyed me to death. Big meh energy was felt there. Don’t be surprised when Boa’s name ends up on the next list of “budget cut” releases – without his supernatural adviser by his side, he and his facepalm-worthy “spirit” gimmick is gonna go nowhere fast. That promo of his was highly unconvincing of whatever message he was trying to get across.
Mandy Rose and Cora Jade wrestled, which did absolutely nothing for me. Kay Lee Ray’s silly-ass distraction finish just made me roll my eyes as it led to Cora using her favorite move (THE SHOCK ROLL-UP PIN!) to get the unexpected win. I could care less about this year’s Women’s WarGames match, so all of the segments that were put in place to hype it up on this episode were meaningless to me. MSK…man, y’all already know what type of bullshit they got into again. We don’t have to get into it.
High Spots: Now AEW is most known for kicking off all of its shows with a hard-fought match. But in a very rare move, the latest episode of Dynamite kicked things off with a 20-minute promo battle. And unlike those horrible 20-minute promo segments that bored everyone to tears during The Authority era, the verbal heat exchanged between CM Punk and MJF was pure gold. There were some zingers littered all through that mic battle that it’s so hard to recall each one. The ones that stood out to me were MJF christening his newest rival “PG Punk” and likening his current run to that of John Cena’s. Plus I screamed my head off like a hype man at a URL rap battle when Punk said “You’re too busy talking about the four pillars, you don’t even realize you’ve been replaced by Britt Baker.” That line about MJF being a less popular version of The Miz was a soul taker, too. That was one of the best opening segments in Dynamite history. And to top it all off, not a single punch was thrown. God-tier stuff right there.
Afterward, Punk put on a decent match with QT Marshall. I kinda felt like they gave QT a bit too much offense here, but it makes sense when you consider the whole “Punk is still trying to get back into fighting shape” storyline AEW has been telling all along. I still felt like Punk should have gotten a better opponent, though. The backstage area was hella busy on this pre-Thanksgiving episode – Dante Martin decided to join the ranks of Team Taz (much to Lio Rush’s dismay…), Eddie Kingston almost murdered 2Point0 & Daniel Garcia after he was plastered with a cup of coffee, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish got into it with Best Friends, Dr. Britt Baker learned about her upcoming Rampage match with Riho, and we learned that another tag team title shot is coming Jurassic Express’ way. The Gunn Club vs. Bear Country match was short, which is exactly how I wanted it to be since I’m not all that into Billy Gunn & his boys. Sitting through that entire segment was worth it though ‘cause I got to see Darby Allin run down the ramp like a bat out of hell & clobber Austin Gunn with a vicious tackle that’s going to be replayed for years to come.
In the next match within the TBS Women’s Tournament Championship match, we got to see Thunder Rosa vs. Jamie Hayter. Those two ladies beat the holy hell out of each other with some stiff strikes that had me thinking they had real-life murder beef. There were definitely some sloppy moments here and there (plus the ref distraction was a bit too long for my tastes), but I enjoyed most of the brutal action both women put on display overall. Britt’s errant superkick cost Jamie the match, which makes me think some sort of dissension may come into play within the AEW Women’s World Champion’s camp. Bryan “I HAVE ‘TILL 5!” Danielson continued his war against the AEW World Champion and his buddies in The Dark Order. This time, Bryan locked up with Colt Cabana in a short yet effective matchup. Colt got to shine a few times in front of his hometown crowd, but the “American Dragon” ultimately got the upper hand and even knocked a tooth out of Colt’s mouth. After his victory, Bryan stood face to face with Adam Page. The shit-talking between both men was extra heated once again, plus the brief brawl between them was a nice tease of their upcoming title match. Great stuff here!
The eight-man tag match that brought this extremely pleasing edition of Rampage to an end was certainly eventful. Cody Rhodes and The Death Triangle engaged in an awesome matchup with FTR, Andrade El Idolo, and Malakai Black. Rey Fenix bumped around the ring like a madman with his high-flying offense, which got me to pop outta my seat on several occasions. Everyone else did their part in adding to the match with their exciting offense – even “Armed” Anderson and Tully Blanchard got in on some of the fun by knocking out Andrade’s handler! The big story of the match was Cody’s misplaced superkick to Pac, which cost their team the win. The big moves that came before that moment were super hype and built up perfectly to that mistimed maneuver. The Chicago crowd was hot for this match and were especially passionate about their hate for Cody. After Cody threw his weight belt into the crowd, they threw it right back and almost clipped my queen Aubrey Edwards! This hate for Cody is next level and I’m guessing Pac is gonna get cheered like a hero once he targets Cody for revenge after what happened here.
Botches: So Chris Jericho roasted Matt Lee about his square-shaped head, which left me stone-faced ‘cause that horrible attempt at a joke reminded me of how old Jericho is getting. That segment of his gave me nothing but “corny dad at Thanksgiving trying to get his drunk humor over at the dinner table” vibes. A rare comedy miss from “Le Champion” here…
High Spots: NOT A DAMN THING WAS GOOD ON THIS SHOW!
Botches: I despise Wrestle House – none of the material is funny, the matches are inconsequential, and the whole concept is the perfect embodiment of cringe. This year’s edition was just more of the same and gave me way more Johnny Swinger and Hernandez than I was asking for. This atrocious gimmick episode made me yearn for the days of the Turkey Suit Challenge, which lets you know just how desperate I was for some sort of half-decent wrestling on Thanksgiving. Without Jeremy Borash holding it down on the production side of things anymore, Impact Wrestling’s more comedic segments are incredibly weak and a waste of everyone’s time.
High Spots: On this post-Thanksgiving episode of Smackdown, everyone’s favorite “Tribal Chief” hit the ring to remind us all to be thankful for his glorious presence on Friday nights. He let it be known that Brock Lesnar is a scrub, he’s practically lapped the entire roster already, and the whole world will finally acknowledge him once his career comes to an end. Solid promo here from SmackDown’s resident world-beater and dominating Universal Champion. It’s going to be pretty wild once Brock Lesnar pops back up to make Roman eat those words, as evidenced by his suspension finally getting lifted. Paul Heyman’s paranoia is always great to see since it always results in Kayla Braxton getting roasted by one of his heated promos.
Drew McIntyre & Jeff Hardy vs. Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss was a perfectly serviceable matchup – I only cared about it because North Carolina’s favorite son Jeff Hardy got to shine in front of his hometown followers and actually get the win. WWE loves shitting on their talents in their hometown, but they chose to switch it up for once and allow Jeff to walk away with the big victory. Jeff will get cheered even when he hits his 60s and does his famous dance with a walker close by. The man is wrestling royalty and shall forever be treated as such. I got my wish on this episode – Ridge Holland and Cesaro went extra hard against each other in their first-ever matchup. There was an awkward pin done on behalf of Ridge at one point, plus the way Cesaro got the win over Ridge fell flat to me. But overall, I enjoyed the short piece of work they provided here.
Now were all the ringside servings for the Thanksgiving Leftovers Throwdown a bit much? Yeah, but I’m so used to these silly holiday-themed matches WWE does on an annual basis. It didn’t bother me much since Rick Boogs and Angel had themselves a pretty decent affair. Sitting through it was all worth it just to see Shinsuke Nakamura sweep Humberto and cause him to fall right through the table he was shredding Boogs’ guitar on. Angel ended up getting the win amidst all the chaos, which was fine by me. The buildup to Xia Li’s eventual SmackDown debut continued here with another comic book stylized vignette that provided some more personal backstory. Simply put, she hates individuals that she deems “vultures” and will always take the opportunity to put them out of their misery. I can’t wait to see Xia finally make her presence felt on Friday nights once she starts roundhouse kicking everybody’s heads off. Sasha Banks & Naomi vs. Shayna Baszler & Natalya was perfectly acceptable for what it was – I’m completely over this whole Naomi vs. Sonya Deville garbage, though.
Botches: Fam, they really couldn’t find a better way to add some more heat to Charlotte Flair and Toni Storm’s future clash? The bookers behind their segment really went for slapstick humor with two pie face splashes to Toni, which was highly disappointing to watch. How is anyone supposed to invest in Toni when we just saw her get treated like one of the Three Stooges and back down while Charlotte simply walked away without getting her comeuppance? That was such an atrocious way to build a match I’m actually looking forward to. Toni’s main roster run thus far has seen way more downs than ups thus far…
So the show-closing Black Friday Invitational Battle Royal was completely uninspired and kind of a bore – it did nothing to set itself apart from every other battle royal I’ve seen in recent memory, plus it left us with the wrong winner. But we all know Sami Zayn’s gonna end up losing his title opportunity to Jeff at some point ‘cause WWE knows no one gives a shit about Sami vs. Roman. AND I LIKE SAMI! But let’s keep it a buck, y’all – that’s not a match anyone wants to see while Jeff is sitting right there waiting to finally step into the ring with Universal Champion.
High Spots: My man Orange Cassidy was in extra lazy mode here! And I loved each and every moment of his lackadaisical nature during the fun tag team opener on this episode of Rampage. He & Wheeler Yuta (still don’t understand what that name is supposed to even mean…) butted heads, elbows, and knees with Adam Cole & Bobby Fish. Orange’s hilarious antics played really well into Adam’s crowd popping shtick at the beginning of this bout, which made me chuckle a few times. Then as the match got a bit more serious, both teams worked fast and hit hard with some nice tandem work and cool kickouts. Bobby actually finished someone with that top rope Falcon Arrow of his for once, which was a nice surprise. Good stuff here, for sure. Can’t wait for the day when Kyle O’Reilly dips from NXT 2.0 and leaves Von Wagner behind to reunite with his “Undisputed” family once again. Tony Nese threw down the gauntlet for a TNT Championship challenge to Sammy Guevarra on Rampage, which is the sort of match that I know will impress. Another exciting match got set up right after – the next episode of Rampage is going to give us The Lucha Brothers vs. FTR in a Two Out of Three Falls Match!
RIHO’S BACK! Been a minute since I’ve seen her in action. She got herself a future Women’s World Championship Match against Britt Baker after scoring a shocking upset. The match itself moved a bit slow in parts, but the action proceeded well enough and led to some big spots here and there. Hopefully, the next meeting between those two ladies is a bit better than this one. Since Andrade El Idolo spiked Cody Rhodes’ head into the concrete (which the crowd adored, by the way!), those two are gonna go to war in an Atlanta Street Fight on the next airing of Dynamite. I’m happy to see Andrade get a better footing on his AEW career now, so I’m very much looking forward to how he performs in singles action against arguably the most hated man in the company.
And in the main event, Eddie Kingston and Daniel Garcia practically had a back alley brawl filled with nasty slaps, slick submission work, and some crowd popping suplexes. That’s what I love about Eddie and Daniel – their offense looks as real as possible because, in a way, it is! This was a nice slow burner of a match that grew in intensity the longer it went. After Eddie scored the win, 2Point0 jumped on him to regain the honor of their young boy. All of a sudden, Chris Jericho left the commentary booth to give Eddie some much-needed aid. So I’m guessing Eddie and Chris are gonna square up with 2Point0 at some point, which is a match I never imagined I’d see in my wildest dreams.
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…
High Spots: Game Changer Wrestling really just made history! The up-and-coming deathmatch wrestling fed has officially sold out its Hammerstein Ballroom debut and will feature the largest crowd to have ever witnessed wrestling inside that building’s hallowed halls. As someone that’s been there countless times for ROH and TNA shows, this latest bit of news is mind-blowing to me. On Sunday, January 23, 2022, I’m gonna go out of my way to watch this whole deal on Fite TV since I effed up by not buying a ticket ahead of time. I have to give GCW another shout-out for its inaugural Indie Wrestling Hall of Fame event, which is taking place the night before its ballroom extravaganza. The indie legends getting inducted thus far include Jerry Lynn, Homicide, Ruckus, and Dave Prazak. Here’s hoping The Briscoes, Amazing Red, Super Dragon, and Christoper Daniels make it in next!
Botches: None to speak of, honestly…