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Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: July 26-August 1

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WWE

WWE Raw

High Spots: Instead of “RAW is War” being a thing these days, it’s more like “RAW is Chore.” Episodes like these point to that sentiment amongst fans being a sobering reality. The half-decent to somewhat good moments on this airing of Raw were too few and far between. Sheamus vs. Damian Priest was okay, but it felt so wrong to just give this first-time matchup away on free TV instead of pulling the trigger on it for SummerSlam instead. AJ Styles & Omos vs. The Viking Raiders was on par with their shockingly good Money in the Bank contest, so kudos to them for that solid matchup. And Riddle continued to be one of Raw’s rare beacons of quality by delivering an enjoyable encounter with John Morrison. Oh, and before I forget, let’s give a round of applause to Reginald for doing Sin Cara’s entrance better than he ever could. That flip into the ring was damn good, wasn’t it?

Botches: The Raw Women’s division got quite the shakeup due to Nikki A.S.H.’s MITB cash-in last week. And now we’re on the road to a Triple Threat Match at SummerSlam between her and the two women she ran in on to claim the championship. The first piece of that angle advancement was pretty lame, though. Charlotte already got a quick pin over the new champion and made A.S.H. look like quite the chump just one week into her first WWE title reign. Not off to a very strong start, I see! The breakup of The Hurt Business simply confounds me. Breaking them up before they ever got a chance to get the receptive crowd reaction they deserve was a pretty boneheaded decision. And having Bobby Lashley easily dissect his former two stablemates just for the hell of it on this episode was further proof that their dissolution was completely unnecessary. Why WWE, why?

Drew McIntyre deserves so much better than to be anchored by a lame feud with Jinder “I Used to be Drew’s 3MB Buddy” Mahal and his boring bodyguards. This is merely filler at this point and I have no need to watch it unfold. Seems like Natalya got legit injured, which brought an early end to her and Tamina’s tag team match against Eva Marie and Piper Niven (y’all already know how I feel about her stupid ass new name!). The match wasn’t any good before Natalya went down, plus Alexa Bliss and her shitty doll popped up on the screen to ruin things even further.

The mistakes made last week with Keith Lee and Karrion Kross continued here as both men were pitted against each other. Now all of a sudden Kross can make Lee tap out, yet he couldn’t overcome Jeff Hardy and his cheap heel tactics the week before? And Lee continues to be made to look like a bum since returning for some odd reason. The crowd didn’t care cause both guys are practically dead in the water now, which really hurts to say out loud. I like the team of Mustafa Ali and Mansoor, but their match with Mace and T-Bar just felt like a time filler. WWE has the shockingly agile brute known as Dominik Dijakovic on their main roster, yet they have him playing the part of a lost Mad Max extra. Le sigh...

NXT

High Spots: JOE IS GONNA KILL YOU! JOE IS GONNA KILL YOU! The “Samoan Submission Machine” has been reinstated as an active performer and his very first return match is going down at NXT TakeOver 36 against NXT Champion Karrion Kross. I can’t wait to see Joe put that overrated bum’s light out and send him packing to Raw. With this match now official alongside the NXT UK Championship rematch between Walter and Ilja Dragunov, the next NXT TakeOver is shaping up to be a GOAT-tier wrestling event. The opening match between Tomasso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher and Oney Lorcan & Pete Dunne was as hard-hitting and brutal as I expected going into it. The return of the UK’s version of Brock Lesnar (who’s better known as Ridge Holland) was also a nice surprise - here’s hoping he stays healthy enough to do big things on Tuesday nights.

Cameron Grimes’ butler act continues to get a couple of chuckles outta me. Watching him and LA Knight place bets on the golf course was way more entertaining than it had any right to be. We’re totally gonna get a big payoff for this at the next TakeOver and I’m so ready to see Grimes fully embrace his babyface persona. Former EVOLVE star Josh Briggs looked good in his NXT debut against the equally enjoyable Carmelo Hayes. This may have been the best NXT Breakout Tournament match thus far! That sit-down segment with Roderick Strong and Malcolm Bivens finally provided a bit of backstory as to why The Diamond Mine came together, which was cool. I’m not all that excited to watch Strong vs. Bobby Fish, but I still like the concept behind Roddy’s new stable. Question - did Io Shirai always hate Zoey Stark? It just felt like their interaction during training just randomly became a thing. I Stan Queen Io though, so I loved her being like "like friends? No thanks!"

Will Dexter Lumis earn himself a spot in The Way? He has a chance of doing so since he’s gotten booked in a Love Her or Lose Her Match against Johnny Gargano. This feud has been going for a good while now, so here’s hoping they raise the stakes on it by bringing Luis into the fold. Adam Cole and Bronson Reed competed in a solid main event - Cole’s win set up an exit for Reed to the main roster, while Kyle O'Reilly's post-match assault paved the way for the perfect feud-ender between him and Cole at the next TakeOver. What stipulation could they possibly book for them now? Last Man Standing, perhaps? Is that higher on the specialty match scale in comparison to an Unsanctioned Match? Man, who knows at this point...

Botches: Everyone could practically see Dakota Kai turning on Raquel Gonzalez from a mile away, so it came as no surprise when it finally happened on this episode. I don’t really care all that much about their eventual NXT Women’s Championship match at the next TakeOver though, so their breakup didn’t really hit me in the feels all that much. You guys know any time Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro appear on my screen, I mentally check out. I stayed around to watch their match against Jessi Kamea and Franky Monet and was left feeling bored to tears even though it only lasted about three minutes. Just put Robert Stone on Raw and let him be an advocate for Ricochet or link up with The Miz & John Morrison, I say! (S)Hit Row vs. Imperium was a complete bore...yeah, that’s all there was to it.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: This was quite the eventful edition of Dynamite. A lot of storylines got pushed forward - most in sensible ways and one in a very puzzling manner. Take the big 10-man elimination tag team match at the start of the show, for instance. We got some amazing intros for both squads (Badass Cowboys vs. the Space Jam version of The Elite!), a high spots filled matchup, and a super hot crowd that took everything in. But then the crowd (and me) became completely deflated once the ref counted to three on Adam Page. He...actually lost. I figured “Hangman” would get the win here alongside his Dark Order brethren and set up his AEW World Championship shot against Kenny Omega at All Out. But that just wasn't meant to be...well, yet. I’m in this Page vs. Omega storyline for the long haul, which is why I think AEW’s going to find a different way to make their match official. I trust AEW’s feud continuity and storytelling, so I’m gonna wait and see how this whole thing unfolds.

FTR and Santana & Ortiz was my most anticipated match of the evening. It ended up being good, but not as great as I pictured it being. It became pretty clear that things were a bit off as the ref could be overheard rushing everyone to the finish and Cash Wheeler caught an injury late in the match. Britt Baker seemingly teased another person coming in to take over Rebel’s spot. AEW’s surprises have been amazing thus far, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing who’ll back up “D.M.D.” next. Darby Allin’s final line during his backstage promo and the announcement for AEW Rampage: The First Dance in Chicago has confirmed something in my brain - CM PUNK IS REALLY ON HIS WAY! Those two teases practically confirmed that Punk will make his AEW debut at the United Center to set up a match with Allin for All Out. Count me all the way in for that one!

Lance Archer vs. Hikuleo was pretty decent. My enjoyment during this match mainly came from Haku’s surprise entrance/outside interference and NJPW star Hiroshi Tanahashi challenging the winner of this big man affair. A Tanahashi cameo on Dynamite is all thanks to the “Forbidden Door” getting knocked off of its hinges! Now it looks like we’re getting Archer vs. Tanahashi for the IWGP United States Championship at NJPW Resurgence. Cool by me! The six-man tag team match was a fun bout. Luchasaurus got to run wild, which is always a good time. The Blade caught Christian Cage lackin’ post-match, which set up their meeting for next week. I laughed my ass off when Cody didn’t even get to finish a whole sentence before Malakai Black jumped him outta nowhere. Their brawl was pretty hype (Cody taking a flat back bump to lay in that uppercut was silly, though). The crowd loves Black and can’t wait to see him KO “The American Nightmare.” Black has to win next week and do it in a dominant fashion to send Cody away for a while (to film the Go-Big Show, of course).

Miro only needs two things in life - God and his double-jointed wife. How can you not like this man? Can’t wait to see the AEW TNT Champion lay waste to his next victim. The main event between Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage was pure, unabashed deathmatch insanity. This may be the first time I witnessed light tubes being smashed over people’s heads on a prime-time wrestling show! Jericho is a trooper for putting up with all the damage done to him, plus Gage deserves a pat on the back for his wild performance. Jericho’s next labor will see him compete against “The Juice'' Juventud Guerrera (side note - this will be Juvi’s first appearance on TNT in 15 years!). The only way Jericho can win is by landing a move off the top rope - he’s totally capable of pulling off a simple Senton Splash, right? Here’s hoping Juvi can still land that beautiful 450 Splash of his.

Botches: The crowd was pretty deflated after Page’s loss, which put a damper on Ricky Starks’ FTW Championship celebration. Brian Cage came out to disrupt him by assaulting some poor marching band members while Starks hit the bricks. This segment was just whatever, honestly. Thunder Rosa marked her first official AEW match under contract with the company by squashing Julia Hart. The match itself was kind of a bore, though. I was happy to see Rosa get a win here, but she would have been better off matching up with a more capable opponent. Big Swole should have gotten Hart’s spot here if you ask me.

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: Jay White’s USA trek continued here as he and his newfound bestie Chris Bey stepped up to the Bullet Club OG’s in The Good Brothers. The sight of the “Switchblade” competing in a non-NJPW ring was worth the price of admission alone on this episode of Impact. Luckily, the match itself ended up being a nice watch. Didn’t feel too good about Bey catchin’ an L with White on his side, but I kinda get it since Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows are the tag champs at the moment. Bey’s gotta prove himself worthy of being admitted into White’s current iteration of the BC and I can’t wait to see what that entails (a segment later in the show alluded to what that might be in the near future). Taylor Wilde got embroiled in an intergender match that was pretty cool, too. I remember enjoying her Knockouts Tag Team Championship days alongside Sarita and later Harada, so I have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of the stuff she’s involved in nowadays. 

The eight-man tag team match was pretty damn hype and thrived thanks to the lively crowd watching it all unfold. All those high spots made for an easy watch (never thought I’d say I enjoyed anything involving No Way Jose in the mix). Kaz made his shocking return to Impact! And of course, he’s got all the smoke in the world for Kenny and his two goons. Now we’re getting the extremely fitting combination of Kaz, Sami Callihan, and Eddie Edwards taking on The Elite next week. Violent by Design is one of my favorite acts in Impact, so I was overjoyed to see them get a match on this episode. While it pained me to see them lose to Rich Swann and Willie Mack, my disappointment levels weren’t too high since the match was worthwhile. And as for the main event, Moose got back on the winning side of things by delivering an L to Chris Sabin. Both men are now one apiece, so now it’s time for them to bring their feud to an end in some sort of specialty match. 

I say make it a Two out of Three Falls Match at Homecoming! Another enjoyable edition of Impact Wrestling here.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly...

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: Aight so John Cena lowkey had a heel turn on this episode of Smackdown. Before I get to that part of the show though, lemme give props to Roman Reigns and Cena’s continued mastery of the mic. Cena dropped this gem of a line to get back at the “Tribal Chief’s “missionary” jab - “If you can find someone who can keep missionary position interesting for two decades, keep them in your life. It’s going to be worth it, I promise.” “Down Bad” Baron Corbin got served with an AA from Cena instead of a donation, which surprisingly got a chuckle outta me. Rey Mysterio and Jey Uso had a solid matchup, which prolonged the tag team feud between their respective camps. 

Seth Rollins got one up on his new mortal enemy Edge and got in some decent verbal shots on his future SummerSlam opponent, which was cool. Sasha Banks finally re-entered the scene and arrived as a returning hero...at first. Once she nabbed herself a tag team victory alongside her WrestleMania 37 foe Bianca Belair, “The Boss” reverted right back to being an egocentric heel by assaulting her one-time partner. And now the expected rematch between those two GOAT ladies is most likely coming our way at SummerSlam! I NEED IT! No extra stipulation is needed for that runback. A regular matchup shall do.

Botches: Okay so lemme see if I got this right - Finn Bálor arrived for a contract signing with Reigns. Corbin disrupts their meeting and gets into it with Bálor. Cena runs in and gets involved in the fray. Then he pulls the ultimate douchebag move by taking the WWE Championship match contract that rightfully belonged to Bálor and slotting himself into the SummerSlam main event (hopefully!) against Reigns. The way that all unfolded was pretty stupid if I’m being honest. Like, WWE couldn’t find a better way to bring Reigns vs. Cena together in a cooler and more sensible manner? Probably not! I gotta admit - the actual level of wrestling featured on this episode of SmackDown was mostly lacking. The six-man tag team match didn’t even get enough time to crescendo into something awesome, the 24/7 Championship match was a complete afterthought, and the so-so women’s tag team main event was mainly used as a vessel to get to Banks turning on Belair.

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: On Saturday, August 14, NJPW Resurgence will emanate from The Torch at LA Coliseum. Besides Hiroshi Tanahashi’s IWGP United States Championship challenge, there’s a newly announced bout that has added some extra fire to the domestic NJPW card. Jon Moxley has issued a challenge of his own against The Good Brothers. To no one’s surprise, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows have accepted. Moxley promised to bring a mystery partner with him to rip the Impact Wrestling Tag Team Champions apart and I have a pretty good feeling as to whom it may be. Is anyone old enough to remember CZW’s Switchblade Conspiracy? I’m placing all my bets on AEW’s Moxley and Impact’s Sami Callihan reuniting to a huge pop at NJPW Resurgence. I can’t wait to see that one go down!

Botches: After years of up & down booking, WWE finally decided to cut bait on one of its most creative talents in recent memory. Bray Wyatt, the immensely entertaining leader of the sadly defunct Wyatt Family and the crazed genius behind “The Fiend” was shockingly released due to what many are saying are “budget cuts.” To say that I was flabbergasted by that news would be a massive understatement. Once Wyatt took that L against John Cena at WrestleMania 30, it was all downhill from there. 

Sure, he had his promising moments here and there - watching him finally claim the WWE Championship and revive his career as “The Fiend” gave me a bit of hope for his career. But constant losses and haphazard booking destroyed a character that had a lot of legs and could have been a major player for years to come in WWE. Here’s hoping that Wyatt thrives elsewhere once his 90-day no-compete clause comes up. And no, I don’t want to see him step in to lead AEW’s The Dark Order. I hope he comes in as a solo act for Tony Khan’s company and puts his immense creativity to use to enact a new horrifying character. Pretty crazy to think that AEW might be adding Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Bray Wyatt to its ranks in 2021.

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