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Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: May 23-30

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AEW

This is your boy El here trying something new for the wrestling crowd. Every week, I’ll be taking a look at the big goings-on that take place inside and outside the squared circle. The wrestling landscape is always rife with massive triumphs and devastating losses that get chat rooms all across the internet talking. This is why I figured it’d be cool to cover all the madness (shout out to the “Macho Man”) that transpires on all the big shows and even the international ones. I’m here to remind you of (or make you aware of) the memorable high spots and cringe-inducing botches of the week in wrestling.

WWE Raw

High Spots: Let me drop a statement in here that shouldn’t shock a single soul - WWE Raw is a complete chore to sit through and usually takes the “honor” of being the worst wrestling show on a weekly basis. Funny how the one week I tune in to get ready for this wrap-up, I get treated to a halfway decent episode for once. Kofi Kingston vs. Drew McIntyre was a fun time until it got disrupted by run-in shenanigans, Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka was unsurprisingly good, Shelton Benjamin vs. Cedric Alexander was solid, and Matt Riddle vs. Xavier Woods got the extended time it needed to deliver a notable gem.

We’re getting Drew vs. Kofi again next week. And this time it’s going to be for the #1 Contender's spot against WWE Champion Bobby Lashley at Hell in a Cell. If that match is half as good as what we got on this episode of Raw, then we’re in for a special treat. Here’s hoping Kofi ekes out the win and gets another chance to showcase his excellence at the top of the card. Oh, and before I forget, Nikki Cross reappeared and actually got a win! It was because the Beat the Clock Challenge’s time ran out, but still...CRAZY NIKKI IS BACK!

Botches: Is Jaxson Ryker truly capable of putting on a watchable match? I say no since he couldn’t even look halfway decent in a match against the incomparable AJ Styles. AJ can practically have a good match with anyone, but he just can’t get anything out of the walking bore that is Jaxson Ryder. How that man managed to dodge the previous week's round of releases is beyond me.

I really want to enjoy what’s going on between Sheamus and Humberto Carrillo, but their matches haven’t really hit like I figured they would. The match they had on this edition of Raw was super meh and pretty insignificant. As for the Women’s Tag Team Championship main event, you couldn’t pay me to care about any of the four women that were a part of it. And as someone that used to care immensely about Shayna’s NXT Women’s Championship run, that statement pains me to say out loud. Nia Jax is straight NyQuil, plus Tamina & Natalya have been around so long that it’s hard to garner any interest from me whenever they’re involved in anything.

NXT

High Spots: Ay that Franky Monet theme kinda slaps, doesn’t it? She made quite the first impression with her dominant victory over Cora Jade. NXT has the best women’s division in all of wrestling right now and it just got even stronger with the welcome addition of the woman formerly known as Taya Valkyrie. Speaking of the NXT women’s division, props go out to Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Dakota Kai, and Raquel Gonzalez for putting on a spirited tag team contest at the start of the show. Plus I was happy to see Mercedes Martinez maintain her spot as one of the most dangerous members of the NXT roster via her easy win. While I despise Eli Drake’s name change, the prospect of him linking up with Ted DiBiase excites me.

Pete Dunne and Bobby Fish went out of their way to beat the ever-loving you know what out of each other to my delight. And I definitely have to send a shout to Finn Balor and Karrion Kross for ending this episode on a high note with their brutal NXT Championship match. If I’m a betting man, I’m banking on Kyle O’Reilly winning next week’s #1 contender match and getting the chance to square up with Kross at NXT TakeOver: In Your House. Kyle always goes out of his way to put on a banger, so I’m hoping he prevails and pulls up on Kross with pure destruction on his mind. As for who I think will win next week’s NXT Tag Team Championship match, I’m going all-in on MSK. NXT rarely disappoints and that was surely the case here.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly...

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: Kenny Omega and Moose are on a collision course as far as the Impact World Championship is concerned. And judging by both men’s past performances as of late, that match is most likely going to pure heat. It was pretty wild seeing Moose link up with Sami Callihan as they’re the farthest from each other in terms of looks and personality. But it made sense since they decided to enter into their short-lived alliance to clash with the Good Brothers. That was a nice piece of work from everyone involved there. The man formerly known as Big Cass dropped off an impassioned promo, which was cool to see. Rich Swann made sure to stop by and drop off some Sweet Chin Music on the big guy, so they’re obviously beefing for the time being.

Josh Alexander’s X-Division Championship run has been a joy to watch thus far - that trend looks to continue as he’s going to take on TJP in an Iron Man Match for the title next week. The tag match that led to that big contest getting booked was pretty solid in its own right. Shout out to NJPW’s unabashed lover of all things bread and lariats, Satoshi Kojima. My man popped up way earlier than expected to put the fear of God into Violent by Design. Kojima vs. Joe Doering is now official for Against All Odds and I’m totally here for it.

Botches: Okay so I rock with Taurus. But I could care less about the rest of the Decay lineup. Johnny Swinger’s act is pure cornball material and Hernandez hasn’t mattered to me since his short run in Lucha Underground. So you can probably tell I was bored to tears during the tag team match those four men had in the middle of the show (you looked good as always though, Taurus!). The Knockouts Division is loaded, for sure. But I really only care about Jordynne Grace and...well damn, that’s about it! So I definitely sat on my hands during that multi-women ten-women tag. My complete apathy for a few of the Impact Wrestling’s roster members really hurts my enjoyment of the show most of the time...

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: The Uso Penitentiary has officially reopened! Jimmy and Jey Uso commemorated that special occasion by having a pretty solid comeback match with the Street Profits. I never knew I wanted to see that match until now. Hoping to see it go down again at some point. Seth Rollins’ promo didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I continue to be one of the few people that appreciate his eccentric choices in fashion. 

Shinsuke Nakamura entering the ring to Rick Boogs’ custom theme song rendition is something I can totally get down with. And watching Nakamura engage in a quick sprint with Chad Gable was pretty cool, too. The main event was buns, but we got a tease for The Usos locking up with the Mysterio clan at some point. And you know what? That definitely excites me. And finally, Roman Reigns offered another one of his weekly “Tribal Chief” sermons, which is always a plus.

Botches: WWE is still trying to make Natalya and Tamina a thing. And frankly, I’m just not buying any of it. They’ve been around forever and amount to nothing more than old hat at this point. I would have loved to have seen The Riott Squad trip them up for the Women’s Tag Team titles, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Bianca Belair’s my girl, but I’m really not tryna see her have any more matches with Carmella. And based on what we got from the SmackDown Women’s Champion and Bayley at last month’s PPV, I feel the exact same way about the rematch between them that was teased on this episode. 

Apollo Crews vs. Kevin Owens being related to nothing more than some short angle advancement was quite lame. And the main event between Dominik Mysterio and the Dirty Dawgs was pretty lackluster - turning the original tag team contest it was supposed to be into a Handicap match and having it end on a dumb distraction finish was just...ugh.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: Friday Night Dynamite was totally a thing last week (it’s also going to happen this week too due to the NBA taking over its Wednesday time slot once again). And man was it nice to see and hear a full crowd of wrestling fans in the house! The fans in attendance came alive for the usual suspects - Darby Allin, Sting, a bloodied Adam Page, the Dark Order, and Britt Baker got the best reactions of the night. The match quality on this show got an extra jolt in the arm thanks to the rabid crowd (they especially added a lot of life to Miro’s destruction of Dante Martin).

Three cheers for Hikaru Shida looking luxurious, the unveiling of the new AEW Women’s Championship, and Britt Baker’s powerful promo. The Dark Order looked pretty damn good against Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page. And I damn sure got a good laugh out of Sting pulling off his old gimmick of wearing his own mask just to surprise his opponent by revealing it’s him underneath it. Closing the show with some strong words from the Inner Circle, a Dean Malenko kidnapping, and dual piledrivers through tables on a football field was pretty hype.

Botches: Yo that weigh-in segment was completely unnecessary and didn’t really amount to much. The same can be said about the feud between Cody Rhodes and Anthony Ogogo, to be quite honest. And what was up with all the technical errors on this episode? A commercial break skipped an excellent Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston promo (which was thankfully shown in full when the show came back from break), Miro’s mic didn’t work at first, Paul Wight took forever and a day to pull off a weigh-in, and Tony Schiavone looked like he had some difficulty getting that women’s belt around Shida. TIGHTEN UP, AEW!

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: You know what shocked the hell outta me? That Dark Side of the Ring episode about the Ultimate Warrior. It wasn’t the total hit piece I figured it would be. That episode definitely delved into some of the more negative aspects of the big guy, but it also showcased the more positive moments he shared with his wife and detailed his heartfelt comeback to WWE in 2014. Great episode as always. That whole WWE/NJPW working relationship rumor is wild, isn’t it? If that deal ever comes to pass, I’d pay top dollar to watch Roman Reigns test his luck against Tomohiro Ishii and R-Truth do his best to out-funny Toru Yano.

AEW Double or Nothing 2021 was a damn good show, by the way. Stadium Stampede was a fun thrill ride, the Three-Way Match for the AEW World Championship had me on the edge of my seat, Britt Baker finally won the Women’s title, and Jungle Boy surprisingly prevailed during the Casino Battle Royale. Plus we got surprise appearances from Lio Rush and Mark Henry. The live crowd added so much life to the show and damn did it feel good to see them have a ball for close to four hours.

Botches: Tom Phillips getting released sucks. And by the looks and sounds of it, a whole lot of other WWE personnel got their walking papers right alongside him. Good luck to Tom and everyone else that lost their jobs last week.

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