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Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: December 27-January 2

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WWE

WWE Raw

High Spots: AJ STYLES IS RUNNING SOLO DOLO ONCE AGAIN! OH HAPPY DAY! I get it, I get it - he's set to face his former giant bodyguard Omos at some point. But the sooner they get that feud over with, the better. 'Cause AJ's got bigger matches and title opportunities in his far brighter future. AJ ended up running into Apollo Crews on this episode for a little scuffle. And I'm so happy they both got to show off a bit in a pretty dope matchup. AJ got to recover some of the heat he lost via the previous week's Omos beatdown by getting the win and laying out Commander Azeez with a Phenomenal Elbow soon after. This is the sort of match that would kick all the asses if it was given an extra 10 minutes on PPV is all I'm sayin'!

I'M BACK! AND I'M BETTER THAN EVER! Eric Bischoff popped up outta nowhere to do some officiating for The Miz and Maryse's wedding vow renewal ceremony. The man clearly knows a thing or two about overseeing monumental wedding ceremonies - I'm sure y'all remember when he went undercover and brought over 3 Minute Warning to SmackDown to destroy Billy & Chuck! I didn't give two you-know-what's about whatever the hell Miz and Maryse were spewing, honestly. The best moment to take from that show-ending segment was Edge's welcome batch of mind games. Edge took it all the way back to his Brood days once again as he splattered Miz, Maryse, and Bischoff in a big ol' pool of blood. Yeah, so it was really just black paint. But I still got to hear Gangrel's God-level theme song come over the loudspeakers, so it'll do. Now that's how you end a wrestling wedding segment!

Botches: This episode of Raw left me immensely frustrated more than anything else. Following up a corny opening promo segment featuring RK-Bro with nothing matches (that were practically squashes) against two guys that deserve so much more broke my heart. Alpha Academy shouldn't just be relegated to C-Tier talents who only show up to stare up at the lights - Chad Gable and Otis are talented wrestlers that need way more than three or five minutes to really get going. Treating those slept-on members of the Raw roster as nothing more than cannon fodder is such a horrible use of their talents. The 24/7 Ringling Brothers Circus Division came to town to deliver a highly forgettable mixed tag team match...yeah, let's just move on. The Street Profits overcame Rey & Dominik Mysterio in a bid to get a tag team title shot on Day 1. Yet the match they triumphed in was just a bit too awkward in parts due to some obvious bouts of miscommunication and overall sloppiness. Dominik is quickly turning into must-turn-off TV material for me.

I get it - AJ is being brought in once again on NXT the next night to pop a good rating for the show as he faces the future in Grayson Waller. Waller's about as interesting as a ziplock bag full of sand, so it's hard for me to muster a single damn about him. Listening to him speak is excruciating, so his little surprise appearance on Raw to talk smack to AJ lowered my mood even further. The crowd gave Waller the "WHAT?" treatment, which is all you need to know regarding anyone caring about him or not. Based on the recent wrestling dirtsheet reports of some wrestlers coming down with you-know-what, this show did its best to hype up the marquee matches on Day 1 via home lockdown promos. They were inconsequential at best, though - generic promos shot with an iPhone didn't do a whole lot to make me care any more than I already do about the biggest bouts at the New Year's Day PPV.

Kevin Owens had a rare off-night here with an uninspired promo battle with MVP. Having to sit there while Owens treated Cedric Alexander like a Shotgun Saturday Night jobber by beating him in three minutes was just so draining, too. My energy was nearing an all-time low once Owens landed a Stunner on Shelton Benjamin shortly after, by the way - they really stuffed Cedric and Shelton back into the Hurt Business just so they could take all the losses for Bobby Lashley, fam. Both those super-slept on brothas need to shine in another wrestling fed if you ask me.

Damian Priest turned into his usual maniacal, unhinged self once again thanks to some goading from Dolph Ziggler. But here's the thing - having Ziggler push Priest's buttons didn't make a lick of sense, now did it? Why would you knowingly enrage your foe with the knowledge that it could lead to a DQ even though you're competing in a title match? Where's the sense in risking your chances at winning the US Championship by essentially forcing a DQ? That non-sensical storyline completely soured me on the whole thing...

NXT

High Spots: MSK actually didn't land in the botches section for my NXT highlights, for once! They came out to make my ears bleed with their after-school special humor, sadly. But the main point of MSK's live studio appearance was to reignite their feud with Imperium and send me into a frenzy thanks to the impending return of Walter. Riddle will never be my favorite on the mic - thank the heavens that Walter was right there next to him on the big screen to talk him and his pothead compadres down. The six-man tag we're due to get from this whole argument should be a special one. The thought of Walter and Riddle getting into a chop battle excites me greatly!

So The Brian Kendrick was set to run up on Joe Gacy's mute killer Harland. Kendrick's amazing theme music signaled his arrival, but he surprisingly didn't show up. So trash-ass Andre Chase popped up to answer Harland's challenge instead. And to the shock of no one, Chase and his extra smedium shirt got put in the dirt by the terrifying Harland. Harland's American History X look is still a bit off to me, but I certainly enjoy watching him make short work of nothing individuals like Chase. Smashing a man's head into the mat multiple times is the sort of barbaric finish I can get used to from Gacy's bald and always brutal madman! Chase's student almost got thrown off the top of a building, fam. Harland was really bout to catch a case!

The Championship Unification contract signing between Carmelo Hayes and Roderick Strong was bittersweet - sweet 'cause it featured some fun back and forth quarreling between both champions. Bitter 'cause everyone knows what the end result will be - Hayes is gonna beat Strong, get his hands on the Cruiserweight Championship, and proceed to put it in the grave where WWE clearly wants to relegate it to. Trick Williams a wild boy for talkin' so spicy to the Diamond Mine - man's found himself planted through a table by the Creed Brothers for his immense showing of disrespect. Side note - I damn near fainted from laughter when Malcolm Bivens told Trick "listen brotha, can't we all just get along?"

Solo Sikoa got to go a lot longer than he usually does on this episode as he faced off with Santos Escobar. This match was clearly put in place to test Sikoa's mettle and see if he has what it truly takes to compete for longer than eight minutes. Both men put on a satisfactory match. Sure, there was some outside flirty foolishness between Xyon Quinn and Elekta Lopez. But it wasn't bothersome whatsoever since it smartly played into the finish as Escobar wasted time taking Quinn out. That took his eye off the ball and led him right into a superkick/Superly Splash combo from the victorious Sikoa. These Samoan wrestlers sure are a special breed, aren't they? Some hype packages were put in place on this episode to keep things rolling along for the multi-tag team war, Tommaso Ciampa vs. Bron Breakker NXT Championship match, and Tony D'Angelo vs. Pete Dunne. Nothing to complain about there.

Botches: This new era of NXT wants me to take Grayson Waller seriously so bad! But I promise you, ladies and gents - it will never ever happen. The man just exudes go-away heat with his WCW WorldWide jobber look, annoying frat boy confidence, and lack of any real star power that the powers that be are trying ever so hard to get out of him. His show-opening promo gave me the worst of vibes just mere minutes into the show. The match he went on to have with Odyssey Jones soon after was pretty mid, too. NXT is in for the long haul with this Waller mega push, which means I'm gonna have to suffer through it just like the rest of my fellow Waller haters. Godspeed, you guys...

Big yikes for Tiffany Stratton's in-ring debut! Her whole "my daddy pays for everything!" gimmick already put me off, but I was willing to keep an open mind for her eventual performance within the squared circle. Now that I know that she's still green as goose shit, I have 0 reasons to invest in her now. She looks the part, but that's about it as far as my compliments go. Stratton looked hella basic against Fallon Henley and really did nothing to stand out from the rest of the new blood within the NXT's women's division. One cool little flip off the ropes wasn't enough to convince me of her hyped-up greatness. Stratton's sloppy ass finish brought this completely underwhelming performance of hers to an end. Put her back in the Performance Center for a few more months, I say!

Von Wagner just ain't it for me, dawg. The dude is a charisma vacuum who's not all that interesting once the bell rings, either. He and his lame-ass finisher got him a squash win over Malik Blade, which was just whatever. Edris Enofé rescued Blade from a continued ass whuppin' after the match, which means their feud must continue. Don't. Give. A. Damn! In a rare case of an NXT main event underwhelming greatly, the tag team women's match that brought this show to a close was decidedly average. Io Shirai was the only good competitor among every other mediocre lady in the ring next and across the ring from her. WWE's overreliance on the tried and true "can these awkward partners coexist?" story trope sprung up here, unfortunately. This main event didn't captivate me one bit, bruh. And I just know the triple threat for the NXT Women's Championship at New Year's Evil won't be worth a damn, either. Mandy Rose, Raquel González, and Cora Jade all wrestling against each other at the same time sounds like pure torture, B...

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: Goodbye, TNT! The final installment of AEW Dynamite on their original home channel just happened to take place in their home base. The good folks in Jacksonville, Florida got to celebrate with the guys and gals of AEW once again within the lauded Daily's Place. And for the most part, this farewell episode aka "New Year's Smash" was a good show. There were some hiccups here and there (more on that later), but this edition of Dynamite managed to be a fun sendoff for AEW from TNT. First things first - WELCOME BACK, JR! So happy to see that man come back to the commentating booth and be cancer-free!

So this episode of Dynamite kicked off with a huge multi-man tag match between a mix of veterans and tag team tacticians. And as expected, it was full of some insane moments that played out during its final moments. Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix, and Luchasaurus provided the wildest spots of the entire match (Fenix's dive to the outside was quite the jaw-dropper once I actually got to see it during the match replay). It was nice getting to see Private Party get some rare air time on this show, too. The end result of this opener saw Christian Cage blind tag Penta just as he was about to finish Cash Wheeler, which caused them to argue and cause FTR to capitalize on their disagreement for the win. Because of that and the challenge put forth between Jurassic Express and The Lucha Brothers backstage, we're finally getting a tag team title match involving both teams on the first TBS edition of Dynamite. I see AEW is going for an early MOTY candidate there!

Next up was a six-man tag between Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz and 2Point0 & Daniel Garcia. Kingston ran wild at several points as he chopped the hell out of his foes and also made sure to bite the hell out of 'em, too. Santana & Ortiz was another case of a tag team that I don't get to see on Dynamite enough actually getting the chance to do their thing here. Everything was coming along nicely until Jeff Parker randomly rolled up Santana outta nowhere to get the shock win. Afterward, Garcia got his hands on the ring bell and shockingly clocked Santana with it! Then, Santana's faction leader Chris Jericho finally made his return to make the save with his trusty baseball bat in tow. His return was kinda weird, though - not only did Jericho take his sweet ass time hitting the ring to make the save, he seemed more concerned with basking in the crowd singing his theme song instead of checking on his fallen stablemate. This obviously caused Eddie to berate Jericho, which made total sense. Now I await Kingston cussing Jericho out on the mic for his lackadaisical behavior in a fiery promo real soon.

Wardlow's slow-burn towards the role of a mega babyface kept on rolling here. While MJF spoke in the back, Wardlow could be seen stirring in the background and looking quite perturbed with every word that came out of his leader's mouth. MJF's contract gave me bad Birdman Cash Money vibes and I'm sure Wardlow can't wait to break away from it at some point. Wardlow got to release some of that pent-up frustration from his little pep talk with MJF by powerbombing Colin Delaney (HEY, FROM WWECW!) multiple times. And as soon as he was done butchering Delaney, Shawn Spears bashed the man with his beloved steel chair. I can never get tired of this weekly act from Wardlow and Spears. Once Wardlow finally ditches MJF and powerbombs Spears out of his boots, the crowd is going to go wild!

Jade Cargill had her best match to date thanks to Thunder Rosa! But I gotta be honest with you all - the moment-to-moment action on display here was a bit shaky at points. But there were more bright spots than low points, which is why I stayed invested in this TBS Women's Championship semifinal match all the way through. Jade landed a disgusting Pump Kick to Rosa that looked as if it launched her into the new year! The bulk of this match saw Rosa work over Jade's weakened leg and Jade use her scary strength to get the best of Rosa. Madness ensues when a hooded figure ran to the side of the ring and bashed Rosa in the head with a glass of some kind. This led right into Jade finishing Rosa to move onto the final tournament match against Ruby Soho. So who was that hooded figure, you ask? It was none other than the recently released WWE Superstar Mercedes Martinez! Now that she's #AllElite, I'm excited to see her run roughshod over AEW's women's division alongside Jade under the leadership of "Smart" Mark Sterling.

CM Punk finally made his Daily's Place debut! And while sporting a new haircut to boot. He still has smoke with MJF, but he knows the cocky sumbitch will continue to duck him. Punk made it quite evident that he's gonna keep getting wins and eventually bump into MJF once again on their road to the #1 Contendership position for the AEW World Championship. Punk also showed Jim Ross & Brodie Lee (RIP) some love, took a dump on Twitter trolls, and also sent a stray at Tim Tebow! Nice promo segment there.

How wild is it that AEW does story continuity with WWE storylines better than the actual company itself? The last time wrestling fans saw Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly across the ring from each other, they were basically trying to murder each other back when the NXT brand was still black & gold. During a backstage vignette, both men actually acknowledged their past beef and teased some ongoing tension between themselves. Kudos to AEW for not treating its fans like idiots with the memory span of a housefly. During the main event, Cole, O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish reunited to do battle with Best Friends. And man, what an awesome way that was to bring the TNT era of AEW to a close! This six-man tag featured plenty of hot spots - Trent's hot comeback sequence, reDRagon's familiar moveset, Orange Cassidy's sudden bursts of energy, and the wild action that transpired on the outside made this main event a definite barnburner. As the match came to a close, O'Reilly accidentally clocked Cole with an errant Yakuza Kick! The Young Bucks came out soon after to superkick Trent and Chuck Taylor right into reDRagon's Chasing the Dragon finish for the win.

Now the seeds of distrust are beginning to take shape between Cole and his "undisputed" fam now. It was clear that the SuperKliq were experiencing some trouble in paradise themselves, but Matt & Nick Jackson's assistance to Cole has muddied the waters even more between both stables. I love where this storyline is going and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. Will Cole stick close to the Bucks or will he manage to patch things up with O'Reilly & reunite with him for good? We shall see...

Botches: Ooh boy - let's have a chat about that Dan Lambert/Brandi Rhodes segment. So it had some decent zingers from Lambert that took aim at Cody Rhodes' strange neck tattoo and the legit hate the AEW fans have for the current TNT Champion. And Brandi's little Paul Heyman dig at Lambert was pretty clever, too. But Brandi just had to muck it all up with one of the cringiest lines I've heard all year - "Oh, so you're a black belt? Well, I'm a black bitch!" C'mon now, sis! I just wished Brandi would have run that line past Tony Khan so he could've omitted it and given her something far better to use during this promo. I was tripped out by Dustin Rhodes coming out to help his sister-in-law instead of Brandi's actual husband, which was really weird. This segment had a couple of bright spots, but way too many embarrassing moments that forced my face right into my hands.

Brian Pillman Jr. certainly tried his best, but his in-ring promo just didn't compel me all that much. It was a good effort, no doubt. But his promo just came off as bland and him screaming at some points didn't really help it get any better. Malakai Black did look cool as hell appearing out of the darkness at the front of the ramp, but I died laughing when you could clearly see him walking out the side of the tunnel once the lights came back on. The cameras lingered on that shot a bit too long, clearly.

AEW Rampage

High Spots: Max Caster dropped some pretty Dylan "Hot Fiya" bars before Anthony Bowens' match against Darby Allin on this episode of Rampage. Kudos to him! The more I see of Bowens, the more I'm convinced that he's a singles star in the making. He's got the look, he's got the charisma, and he's definitely got the god-given in-ring ability needed to keep the fans invested in him once he gets that solo push. Bowens got a substantial amount of time to work wonders with Darby Allin in a very fun opener. They worked a good pace that crescendoed as time wore on, plus the outside presence of Sting and Max added even more to the contest at hand. Allin got the win, but The Acclaimed eventually got the last laugh as they tore up Darby and Sting after a shocking post-match celebration interruption from Andrade El Idolo. So are we set for an Andrade vs. Darby feud as the new year begins? I'm here for it!

It warms my heart to listen to Taz sing his son's praises like the proud father he is. Taz offered a visual/verbal breakdown of Hook's signature suplexes and submissions and I couldn't help but think "Shout out to Papa Taz!" the whole way through. That was such a heartwarming segment. So I hopped on Twitter right after the last episode of Dynamite went off the air and a lotta folks that sat through the Rampage tapings said the women's Street Fight was pure heat! And after watching it for myself, those people were speaking nothing but facts. Tay Conti & Anna Jay vs. The Bunny & Penelope Ford had the sort of match you'd see on a random GCW show - we got a moonsault through a table (THAT DIDN'T BREAK, I MIGHT ADD!), plenty of blood leakage, some brutal chair spots, thumbtack brutality, and a sick looking barbed wire-assisted chokehold for the finish. AEW has a habit of producing feuds that tend to overstay their welcome or not be all that appealing whatsoever. But when they end them, they tend to end them on a high note. Weird how that works...

Cody Rhodes is really out here getting the "LET'S GO CENA, CENA SUCKS!" treatment from the crowd now! Say what you will about the man's less than endearing character work - Cody never disappoints in the ring. Cody put his newly captured TNT Championship on the line against a very game "All Ego" Ethan Page. Cody's repeated assault on Ethan's weakened leg played into every part of the match as Cody locked on submissions while Ethan sold them like hell all the while. Tony Khan's gotta feature Page more often 'cause the guy offered a nice reminder of just how crisp he is here. Cody got the win of course, but Page came out of this match looking as good as he's ever been. Shout to Dustin Rhodes for coming out to slap box with Scorpio Sky and shout out to Cody & Page's managers for getting into all the hijinks themselves. The final televised wrestling show of 2021 was certainly a fun one, folks!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly...

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: So let's talk WWE Day 1! It was...decent at best. The Usos vs. The New Day easily took home MOTN honors and it was the damn opening match, which was pretty wild. The rest of the card mainly featured okay bouts, but I wasn't all that invested in many of them due to some less-than-inspired storytelling going into each match. Edge did his Brood thing again plus Beth Phoenix waited a hilariously long time for her music cue to hit before she stormed down to the ring, which was kinda awesome.

And due to Roman Reigns' positive COVD-19 diagnosis, Brock Lesnar got shoved into the WWE Championship main event to make it a Fatal Five-Way. So in a very roundabout way, I finally got to see Bobby Lashley and Brock go at each other like the raging bulls they are. I damn near Swanton Bomb'd out of my chair when Bobby speared Brock through the ringside barrier! In the end, Big E's WWE Championship reign (which has been kinda mid, not gonna lie...) came to an end at the usage of a single F5. But hey, at least we're probably gonna get Brock vs. Bobby for the big strap at the Royal Rumble! But still, poor Big E...

Game Changer Wrestling is 'effing bonkers, my god! Every time I scroll through Wrestling Twitter on a random Saturday night, I end up coming across some mind-boggling clips from the latest GCW show taking place that very same evening. Imagine my shock and awe during my time spent watching WWE Day 1 when I peeped JEFF FREAKIN' JARRETT POPPING UP AT GCW DIE 4 THIS? The fact that he hit the ring lookin' like The Undertaker and pulled off his signature guitar smash spot over the head is just insane. And the new year just started! I also gotta hand it to Scotty 2 Hotty - from the clips I peeped of his match with Joey Janela, the former Too Cool member looked physically amazing and it seemed as if he was having the time of his life in front of GCW's rabid fans. GCW is gonna have a very strong 2022!

Botches: Got drafted to SmackDown. Stayed in catering for far too long. Debuted in a victory against Zelina Vega. Didn't do much of anything soon after. Proceeded to lose to Vega months later. Entered a horrible feud with Charlotte Flair. And now, she's gone. Toni Storm's main roster booking is just another sobering example of the ongoing mistreatment most NXT stars are saddled with once they get called up to Raw or SmackDown. Judging by all the updates that came out about Toni's release, it sounds just like she just up and quit. And can you really blame her based on the lackluster run she had on SmackDown? Tony Khan, you know what to do!

Speaking of Tony, that man dropped a nuclear bomb on Twitter that had my timeline going insane! So Big Swole, who recently got let go by AEW, spoke on her issues with the company regarding its lack of diversity in her eyes. Then Tony, the petty bossman he is, hit her with a response tweet that shaded her pretty hard. Now I totally get wanting to get at the person that got at you.

But when you're a multi-million dollar wrestling promotion owner, it's always best to just keep things cordial and leave the problematic tweets in your drafts at all times. Lio Rush was none too pleased with Tony's callout, but Lio's made it clear that he's ready to remedy those issues Swole spoke about in the near future with Tony himself. Here's hoping Tony issues an apology to Swole real soon and makes sure his company's diversity and black representation problems become non-existent as 2022 rolls on.

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