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Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: August 23-August 29

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WWE

WWE Raw

High Spots: Well, would you look at that? Raw wasn’t completely insufferable for once. The prospect of new feuds and an assortment of decent to good matches helped this episode of Raw not make me wanna catch a nap mid-show. The new United States Champion Damien Priest got into it with the WWE Champion Bobby Lashley, which ended up involving Sheamus and Drew McIntyre early on in the show. That foursome’s opening tag team match was on point, plus it alluded to some new challengers for Lashley’s title that I hope come to fruition soon.

We already got Sheamus vs. Lashley booked for the next episode of Raw, but I’m hoping to see a Fatal Four Way take place between those brutal brutes in September at Extreme Rules. So I’m overjoyed at the fact that Piper Niven finally ended her alliance with Eva Marie. What I’m not happy about is the fact that she kept that horrendous Doudrop nickname and is now feuding with her talentless ex-partner. I love my girl Piper, but I’m not sure she even has the capacity to pull Eva along to a good match. At least Piper’s free now!

Riddle damn near took the “Festival of Friendship” route with his tag team championship celebration alongside Randy Orton! While I still find this version of Riddle to be a bit corny at times, it works surprisingly well when it involves the usual stone-faced & super serious Orton doing his best to put up with it. Their fun segment led right into another banger of a Riddle/AJ Styles match to end the show. WWE’s addiction to rematches is sickening, yes. But I’ll never get tired of watching those two tear it up every time they’re in the ring. It looks like RK-Bro and AJ/Omos will continue to feud for the time being, which is fine by me. Kinda sad when you realize the rest of the tag team scene on Raw is a barren wasteland, however...

Botches: Yo, does somebody in the back have it out for Karrion Kross? You’d think Vince McMahon would cream in his dress pants over a guy with a menacing look like his. But instead, Kross has been made to look insignificant since coming to Raw. And now that he’s without the NXT Championship, he’s been placed into some silly leftover Demolition gear and is still being forced to come out to an uninspired entrance without Scarlett. Sure, he beat Ricochet in just a minute or so. But no one in the crowd gave a shit. Man, this whole “Vince and company hates NXT” narrative rings true every time I see situations like this play out. Was the 24/7 Championship stuff worthy of a “WrestleCrap” rating once again? YOU BET YOUR ASS IT WAS! The same goes for Elias’ tedious vignettes. As if Charlotte Flair as Raw Women’s Champion wasn’t tiresome enough, now we’ll be treated to a feud between her, Alexa Bliss, and that god-awful doll she carries around with her. Just kill me now, bruh…

The audience in attendance took a dump on Paul Logan and so did I. His involvement in that whole “Moist TV” segment may have led to a decent bout between Xavier Woods and John Morrison, but it also resulted in a breakup angle between Morrison and The Miz that didn’t really captivate me that much. I just can’t find it in me to get invested in anything they do nowadays since their whole comedic shtick has been painful to endure these past few months. I’m happy to see Johnny Boy finally go the solo route again, at least. Mansoor vs. Jinder Mahal sucked due in large part to its short runtime, the DQ ending, and Jinder being in the ring. And the women’s tag featured two women that no longer matter to me, one woman that’s damaged beyond repair, and another woman that’s been terrible from the word go (I’m sure you can guess who’s who based on my very fitting descriptions).

NXT

High Spots: TO THE MOON! Cameron Grimes for NXT Babyface of the year, fam! Never thought I’d see that man holding the Million Dollar Championship and celebrating with the original holder of the belt by his side. That money-filled party kicked off a very solid edition of NXT that produced new story threads and continued ongoing ones. My boy Ridge Holland had his best match to date against the snaggle-toothed killer known as Timothy Thatcher. The sky’s the limit for big boy Holland and it’s pretty clear that he’s going to be at the forefront of the major changes coming to the black and yellow brand. InDex have already set their wedding date and I can’t wait to watch Dexter Lumis stare off into the distance in pure silence when it comes time to say his vows. And stop hatin’ on their love, Johnny Gargano!

So I’m not exactly a huge fan of Franky Monet, but at least she presents another fresh challenger for the NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez. Those ladies present an interesting dynamic when you compare their in-ring styles, so I’m open to watching them go head to head on the next special episode of NXT at some point. So Samoa Joe has an army of hungry foes nipping at his heels now that he’s the new NXT Champion - his revolving door segment included the likes of LA Knight, Pete Dunne, and Kyle O’Reilly. A big brawl broke out between those individuals and a few more, plus we got an enticing tease for a future bout between Joe and Dunne (LET’S GO!). Carmelo Hayes is your NXT Breakout Tournament 2021 victor, folks! The match between him and Odyssey Jones was a decent contest and I’m happy to see Mr. Hayes continue ascending up the NXT ladder. Salute to that young king! I was pleased to see The Diamond Mine rebuild as they showcased the newcomers Julius and Brutus Creed - Roderick Strong seems to be getting fast-tracked to a Cruiserweight Championship reign real soon, which I can get behind.

Man, it felt so good watching (S)Hit Row lose to Legado del Fantasma! The six-man tag that ended the show was a fun watch and also led to the Lucha Libre contingent acquiring the services of Elektra Lopez. Now both sides are even when it comes to their male and female numbers. This feud looks like it’ll continue based on that new development, which I’m not too excited about since (S)Hit Row will still be on my TV for the foreseeable future. WarGames, perhaps?

Botches: Wait, hold up...Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne have been getting hyped up as the new hot things in NXT since their arrival, right? Now just a few weeks after their arrival, they take a needless L to Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter? Like, what sense does that make? Sticking Dolin and Jayne with Mandy Rose of all people doesn’t exactly fill me with a lot of hope for their futures, either. The booking of that whole ordeal puzzles me to no end. I gotta keep it a stack with y’all, too - Kay Lee Ray has never been a favorite of mine. She just comes off as too basic and unspectacular to me. I was bored to tears during her squash match segment and am dreading her getting a title shot sooner rather than later. And Boa was made to look like he wears clown makeup on the regular as he fell to a simple ass flying forearm from the relatively unknown Xyon Quinn. What a complete waste of time that was...

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: Can’t say I was very enamored with this edition of Dynamite. The matches themselves were all decent at best, but all of them were hampered by some noticeable botches. Take the opener for instance - Darby Allin and Matt Hardy had an okay match, but a flying body press off the top rope ended up busting Matt’s nose wide open. Never thought I’d get color from a throwaway bout between those two. The tag team tournament contest between the Lucha Bros and the Varsity Blondes was also another bout that had its good moments (Rey Fenix’s big Somersault Suicide Dive between the ropes was certainly one of them). But an awkward exchange that led to a super weak Tornado DDT from Penta El Zero M took a bit of steam out of it. I was happy to see the Lucha Bros get the W and pencil themselves in against Jurassic Express for the tournament final, though. That one should be quite the highlight on the next episode of Rampage!

CM Punk came out to yet another rousing ovation as he spent some time hyping up his AEW debut at All Out against Darby Allin. He pretty much confirmed that Daniel Bryan is on his way soon (those “YES! YES! YES!” chants caused him to let a little teaser slip). Punk put over his All Out opponent, spoke on his fears of not being able to be the best he used to be, and made it clear that he’s ready to prove his mettle. So Chris Jericho grabbed the mic to request one more match with his fated rival MJF. While I’m beyond tired of watching those two continue beefing, I at least get a bit of enjoyment out of the constant shit-talking between the two. The threat of Chris Jericho promising to do commentary full-time for AEW should he lose to MJF at All Out has me rooting for “Le Champion” extra hard!

Miro continued to be amazing on the mic as he spoke about forgiveness and his desire to take on Eddie Kingston. If that match is getting booked for All Out, then I’m All In (see what I did there? Corny, I know…). Christian Cage got into it with Don Callis and the AEW World Champion Kenny Omega once again - we ended up getting some cool throwback footage of a young Christian, Callis, and even Lance Storm that played up Callis' carny behavior. I can’t front - Omega mentioning the first words you hear during Edge & Christian’s old theme song was pretty hilarious!

So Jon Moxley’s opponent for All Out has been penciled in and it’s the Puroresu legend, Satoshi Kojima! I was expecting Minoru Suzuki to pull up on Moxley to reignite their feud, but I’m not too mad at Kojima being the guy to step up to Moxley instead. Dan Lambert’s masterful mic skills were front and center once again and it looks like he’ll be backing up Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page for the time being. That trio should lead to good things in the near future. And in the main event, Malakai Black kicked Brock Anderson’s head off and caused the crowd to chant “ONE MORE TIME!” soon after. I definitely screamed that phrase at my screen, too. After the match, Black kicked Arn Anderson in the balls and proceeded to lay him out with another Black Mass kick. Lee Johnson came out to stop all the bloodletting, which caused Black to exit the scene. While this segment didn’t exactly send the show out on a strong note, it clearly alluded to a future matchup between Black and Lee (All Out, perhaps?).

Botches: That match between Jamie Hayter and Red Velvet was a big yikes! Both women clearly had no chemistry with each other, plus there were a few instances of Velvet looking a bit sloppy on most of the moves she attempted. Watching her completely miss that Standing Moonsault definitely made me wince in embarrassment. Might be time to leave Velvet on AEW Dark for a while until she steps her game up a bit more. Both the six-man tag matches did nothing for me on this episode, sadly. I love the trio of Darby Allin, Jon Moxley, and Eddie Kingston, but I’d rather not see them team up to destroy the lowly jobber squad known as The Wingmen. The Gunn Club vs. The Factory just didn’t need to happen cause it simply sucked the life out of the crowd (having QT Marshall take a loss before his PPV match also didn’t need to happen). As for the cracks forming in The Dark Order, I’m not too broken up about it. I honestly think it’s about time for AEW to cut the cord on them anyway...

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: I gotta hand it to Impact - they’ve been providing me with some easily digestible content for the past few weeks or so. This episode made sure to keep the good vibes going by featuring some worthwhile bouts that provided a nice follow-up to the Emergence event. Sami Callihan and Chris Sabin had an expectedly enjoyable matchup, plus we got even more smoke from Eddie Edwards towards Callihan post-match. Chris Bey put down David Finlay with relative ease (hearing Bey belt out “WHO’S MAN’S IS THIS? IS THIS YOUR MAN’S?” got a pop from me!). And Rich Swann and Willie Mack earned themselves a future Impact Tag Team Championship shot as they got themselves a W against The Good Brothers in a solid main event. Those three matches stuck out for all the right reasons.

Mickie James continued to promote NWA EmPowerrr and even got herself embroiled in a quick skirmish with Impact Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo. Melina Perez came out with the assist for Mickie and furthered the plot towards her future clash with Deonna. Here’s hoping that Impact books Mickie for a big special event bout against Deonna once we get past NWA’s all-ladies showcase. Christian Cage and Ace Austin engaged in a verbal dustup that hyped up their future Victory Road meeting. The addition of Tommy Dreamer to the proceedings made me audibly yawn out loud and I have no desire to see him vs. Austin on the next episode of Impact, honestly. Fingers crossed that Austin makes quick work of the hardcore veteran and guarantees his match with Christian will remain a one-on-one affair.

Botches: My girl Taylor Wilde is still getting royally disrespected by having to compete with talents that are clearly lesser than her. That Handicap match debacle against The Influence was exactly that - a debacle. Big trash segment right there! And the same goes for that corny ass backstage promo that resulted in Brandi Lauren becoming a victim of those two face-painted dufuses. Impact, I appreciate y’all. But there’s no way you can make me care about anything Su Yung and Kimber Lee does nowadays...

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: The Blue Brand just wasn’t hittin’ like it usually does on this episode, sadly. If we’re gonna talk about positives, there were about four to truly speak of. One of them was the sprint of a match between Cesaro and Chad Gable - even though it felt like it lasted all of a minute and some change, I still enjoyed what I got from them. Looks like Cesaro is gonna need some sort of backup if he has any chance of getting one over on the Alpha Academy. This would have been the perfect time to reunite the Kings of Wrestling with Chris Hero, but WWE released him so...yeah (eternal sadness…). HEY LOOK, IT’S NAOMI! I was wondering where she ran off to. I know everyone and their mother has called for her to link up with The Bloodline already. And to be honest, I’ve done the exact same thing. That stable needs a lady representative and Sister Naomi is the perfect candidate for that position. WWE Creative...GIVE ME WHAT I WANT! *Batista voice* 

Rick Boogs continued to impress as he tagged with Shinsuke Nakamura in a clash with Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode. Boogs power-based offense and likable personality have produced one of the more surprisingly great aspects of WWE’s 2021. Seeing as how the tag team division on SmackDown is as deep as a puddle, I wouldn’t be mad at Nakamura and Boogs capturing the tag team titles from The Usos at some point. And finally, The Bloodline’s issues with Paul Heyman and where his interests lie were definitely intriguing. It’s quite evident that Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar is being saved for Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. But right now, the “Head of the Table” will have to defend his honor and the Universal Championship against Finn Bálor on the next episode of SmackDown. I could totally see Finn getting screwed during his title shot and end up getting booked against Reigns in some sort of specialty match at Extreme Rules!

Botches: I gotta give WWE props. In one night, they made me pop extra hard for Becky Lynch’s return at SummerSlam. And in just a few minutes, they instantly made me hate the ground she walks on due to that bullshit ass match (and I use that term loosely!) she had with Bianca Belair. Becky’s promo at the start of the show did nothing for me since I’ve already mentally checked out of this whole storyline with her and the former SD women’s champ. The cliche “revolving door challengers” moment during that promo was needless since I already knew Bianca was due for a rematch at the next event. And where the hell is Toni Storm? I would have preferred her competing in that Fatal Four-Way in place of either Zelina Vega and Carmella. Anyways, we got the expected result from that waste of a match. Whatever…

“Happy Corbin” is actually a thing now, huh? When I heard WWE was in the process of trademarking that lame name, I had a sinking feeling that it was real. And now, here we are. Broke-Ass Corbin (which I actually enjoyed) is gone and now we have Happy Ass Corbin in his place. What we got from him here was a boring promo segment that centered around him trying to pay off Big E for his MITB briefcase. I just didn’t care, to be honest - watching Big E walk around with his briefcase and doing nothing of importance is pretty shameful if you ask me. Having him beef with someone like Seth Rollins, Otis, or Kevin Owens as he tries to keep his title shot intact would have been far more worthwhile than a corny feud with a smiling (and newly wealthy) Corbin.

Dominik Mysterio vs. Sami Zayn was just there for me, too. It continued to play up Dominik’s turn to the dark side against his father Rey Mysterio, which will provide the most unnecessary heel turn of 2021 once it finally happens. Edge and Seth Rollins’ beef may actually be over after just one match, bruh. Considering how incredible that match was, their feud-ending dueling promos hurt my poor soul...

AEW Rampage

High Spots: It was easy to tell that this episode of Rampage was taped in front of the same crowd that sat through the last episode of Dynamite. Their energy levels were certainly lower than expected, but they came alive for two segments on this short yet sweet installment of Rampage. The tag team opener between Jurassic Express and the Lucha Bros was a barnburner that even got Giannis "The Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo out of his seat! Both teams pulled out all the stops in their bid to face The Young Bucks at All Out in a Steel Cage match. I applauded their efforts and would love to see them clash again in the near future. Those two Mexican Destroyers that popped up here felt that much more impactful since I haven’t seen that move in a good while.

The hype vid for CM Punk vs. Darby Allin got its point across well. I've already placed my money on the table for the All Out PPV, so AEW doesn't have to worry about talking me into watching that show. “The Redeemer” Miro continued to be amazing as he tortured Fuego Del Sol during his walk down the entrance ramp. Then he went even further by ripping off Sol’s mask and knocking him into next year with his signature kick. Eddie Kingston made sure to finally answer Miro’s open challenge, which resulted in a heated brawl that led to their first-time matchup getting booked for All Out. That match has the potential to be a banger if it’s given the appropriate time to fulfill the high expectations for it.

Botches: No one cared about the women’s match and neither did I. Which hurts me to say ‘cause I’m a pretty huge fan of Tay Conti, but I just couldn’t will myself into caring about anything her and The Bunny were doing. So I guess Penelope Ford has entered into an alliance with The Bunny before the big Casino Battle Royale, huh? Cool, I guess. And the main event was just...eh. It played up the continued beef between Kenny Omega and Christian Cage, which was fine enough. But I would have much rather have seen Omega compete in a one-on-one match with Kazarian instead of having to sit through Brandon Cutler’s tired antics. Christian’s double-mounted 10-punch on both Omega and Cutler was the one highlight I popped for, though.

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: THEM FIRE PWG HIGHLIGHTS VIDS HAVE FINALLY RETURNED! Mystery Vortex 7 was an amazing return to form for the SoCal super indie as it showcased a wide range of high flyers, luchadors, technicians, and charismatic favorites. And you can always count on a shocking Super Dragon appearance to truly pop the PWG crowd. The card for PWG Threemendous VI looks like it’ll produce another crowd-pleaser, which you can check out below:

- PWG Championship Match: Davey Richards vs. Bandido

- Brody King & Malakai Black vs. Flamita & Black Taurus

- Rey Horus and Aramis vs. Dragon Lee and Laredo Kid

- Evil Uno vs. Tony Deppen

- AJ Gray vs. JD Drake vs. Lee Moriarty

- Jack Cartwheel, Dante Martin & Alex Zayne vs. Jake Atlas, Tre Miguel & Myron Reed

- Alex Shelley vs. Jonathon Gresham

I wasn't planning on shedding a few tears last Saturday night, yet Awesome Kong's public retirement and her reuniting with Gail Kim hit me right in the feels. NWA EmPowerrr was a damn good all-ladies PPV that properly showcased the past, present, and future of women's wrestling. The Hex (Allysin Kay and Marti Belle) are the NWA World Women's Tag Team Championship, Deonna Purrazzo successfully defended his Impact Knockouts Championship against Melina Perez, and Kamille did the same against Leyla Hirsch for her NWA World Women's Championship. Then to cap off such an enjoyable show, Chelsea Green emerged as the victor of the NWA Women's Invitational Cup Gauntlet. Like WWE Evolution before it, NWA EmPowerrr was a defining statement regarding the excellence of women's wrestling.

NWA 73 took place the very next evening. It was decent at best - the main highlights were Ric Flair's amazing promo that showed love to his past suitors & best friends and Trevor Murdoch shocking the world by capturing the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship from Nick Aldis.

Botches: Welp, let’s wave goodbye to the black and gold era of NXT. Wale hopped on Twitter to reveal the new color-splashed logo change for the developmental brand, which just so happens to be backed by his latest song “Down South.” Rumors have been running rampant about the incoming changes for NXT and it certainly worried fans of Triple H’s baby. And with the reports of WWE now seeking out non-wrestling athletes and making an effort to move away from signing indie stars, it’s unsurprising that a lot of NXT loyalists are fearing what may be coming next. My love for NXT has waned a bit ever since it made the move to USA and expanded to two hours. This concentrated rebranding could be better than expected, yes. But it still hurts to see NXT abandon its metal music-inspired motif...

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