Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: August 30-September 5
High Spots: YOOOOOOOO! Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax were with the shits during their match! I usually catch a quick nap anytime those two square up, but I was extra attentive once they went off the script and started throwing hands for real. The rest of the match was whatever, but that shoot fight in the middle of it all caught me completely off guard and actually got me a little excited as soon as everything went off the rails. Crazy to think that may have been the biggest highlight on a so-so edition of Raw.
When this episode of Raw initially got going, Damien Priest got his time in the spotlight as he issued an open challenge for his United States Championship. We got the tired trope of the revolving doors challengers segment, but I didn’t mind it as much since it featured Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, MVP, and even RK-Bro. The ensuing Triple Threat Match between Priest, Sheamus, and McIntyre was a hard-hitting affair that did an incredible job of adding more legitimacy to the US Champ.
So Piper Niven got to torture her former bestie Eva Marie for a couple of seconds. Even though their match never truly got started, I was still supremely impressed by Niven’s short yet sweet destruction of the regularly horrendous Marie. AJ Styles and Xavier Woods went out there and (YOU GUESSED IT!) had a damn fine match. Lately, Woods has been campaigning for the King of the Ring tournament to come back - if he hashtags that dream scenario even more and forces WWE’s hand, then I hope they seriously consider letting him make it far in the revived tourney. ‘Cause the man has been an absolute pleasure to watch in the ring nowadays.
And to bring this ho-hum show to a close, RK-Bro successfully defended their tag team titles against Lashley and MVP. Based on the post-match happenings, it looks like Lashley has multiple contenders on his trail. Could we see a potential Fatal Four Way situation between Lashley, Priest, Randy Orton, and Riddle for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules? If so, take all my money!
Botches: If you told me back in 2019 that I wouldn’t give a shit about a main roster matchup between Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler...I would have totally believed you. And that sad sentiment of mine is based on the spotty track record connected to NXT call ups crashing and burning more often than not on the main roster. That was certainly the case here as two NXT stalwarts that were super hot two years ago competed in a nothing match that ended via a lame finish. And sadly, R-Truth, Akira Tozawa, and Reggie continued to produce bathroom break segments on my TV screen.
I love The Viking Raiders, but years of questionable booking have made them a complete afterthought on Raw. The crowd practically sounded like an army of crickets during their forgettable contest with Jinder Mahal and Veer. Karrion Kross destroyed someone that’s infinitely more entertaining than him in the ring, which has pretty much been the case for his entire NXT/WWE main roster run thus far. And just one week after John Morrisson’s expected split with The Miz, ol’ Johnny Boy ate a quick loss to Omos here. It would have totally made more sense for Morrison to get an easy win over someone expendable to rebuild him for his eventual PPV outing with his former partner, right? RIGHT? Do you know what we need? The super cool and hella likable Johnny Mundo persona from Lucha Underground to make his return.
High Spots: A Samoa Joe promo can take a show from “that was aight...” to “ay, that was pretty good!” The current NXT Champion gave us one of those here and made sure to put the fear of god into his future challengers. Something tells me Joe vs. Pete Dunne is coming a lot sooner than we think! Ilja Dragunov celebrated his NXT UK Championship victory over Walter with a simple yet oh-so-satisfying speech. LOVE LIVE THE CZAR! Cameron Grimes and Carmelo Hayes’ recent triumphs have attracted the attention of The Grizzled Young Veterans & Legado del Fantasma, respectively. I’m very much looking forward to those fresh feuds coming into play!
Duke Hudson got to show even more of his potential in a match with the man that recently vanquished his old Undisputed Era running mate. Kyle O'Reilly looked crisp as always and Hudson wasn’t so bad himself. I hope to see Hudson get even more chances to show just how good he can truly be. Johnny Gargano and LA Knight gifted me with a damn good matchup! And what helped it stand out, even more, was the fact that it was the first-ever meeting between the two. Dexter Lumus tried to mend fences with “Johnny Wrestling” by reaching out to do “The Way” hand grab, but it only led to Gargano being distracted and getting planted by L...A...Knight.
Roderick Strong kept racking up some wins en route to a Cruiserweight Championship shot here by engaging in a decent encounter with Ikemen Jiro. And in the main event slot, Tommaso Ciampa and Ridge Holland beat each other half to death. I was quite delighted by how their match unfolded, but I was kinda puzzled by Holland taking the L so early during his comeback. But hey, I can’t be too mad at that result since the match that led up to that loss was so good.
Botches: OOF! Man, prayers up for Mandy Rose. I’m not much of a fan, but I still can’t help but feel sorry for her late match injury during her opener with Sarray. Mandy got planted with a pretty nasty dropkick that made her tumble out of the ring pretty hard. The random count-out finish was clearly used to cut the match early and get her some much-needed medical attention. I Hope Miss Rose recovers in due time. Imperium popped up here once again, but I stopped caring about them months ago. Their squash match against Drake Maverick (who I also can’t stand!) and Gabriel Waller was the cure for my insomnia. Raquel Gonzalez destroyed someone beneath her, too. Didn’t really care for her squash match, either. And Ember Moon challenged Kay Lee Ray to a match that I have no interest in seeing, fam...
High Spots: The go-home show for All Out kept the gears turning for all the storylines heading into that show and also offered a slew of quality matches to boot. The second in-ring clash between FTR and Santana & Ortiz ended up being the best match on the entire show. There was a good bit of storytelling spliced in here as FTR tried to injure their opponents in the same way Cash Wheeler got hurt during their first matchup. The action crescendoed to a satisfying level and the crowd loved every moment of this barn burner of a match. The attire both teams were rocking made this feel extra special, too - FTR’s tribute to Bobby Eaton of the Midnight Express, plus Santana & Ortiz’s Dead Presidents face paint were pretty damn cool. Santana & Ortiz got the W and are now 1-1 with FTR, which could only mean one thing - we’re definitely set for an awesome tie-breaker in the coming weeks. I hope they get to do it with some Street Fight rules applied to it.
We got a lot of promos here on this episode. CM Punk was in the middle of talking to his adoring fans when all of a sudden 2Point0 and Danny Garcia hit the ring to assault him. This brought out Darby Allin and Sting, which led to a memorable moment that saw all three men deliver their finishes in quick succession. The stage is set for Punk’s big in-ring return and Sting will let Darby fight on his own for such a major occasion. MJF and Chris Jericho provided their thoughts on their All Out match - the trash-talking prick made it clear that he’s ready to take Jericho’s highly lauded spot, while “Le Champion” hyped up the crowd and made it his mission to finally put down his eternal rival. Powerhouse Hobbs and Brian Cage had a decent big hoss brawl that resulted in a shocking win for Hobbs. That was a nice surprise! I foresee great things in Hobbs’ future. As for Cage, he may need to recruit some backup if he has any chance at putting a dent in Team Taz.
Tay Conti and Penelope Ford had a decent match that didn’t start off so hot but it ended up improving over time. After Conti got the win, Ford and The Bunny began putting the boots to her. The returning and fully healed Anna Jay from The Dark Order surprisingly hit the ring to save her bestie from further punishment. That was a nice surprise. The Women’s Casino Battle Royale got pushed up to the main PPV show, so those aforementioned ladies and several more should make that match a fun watch. Malakai Black is ready to keep chipping away at The Nightmare Family by targeting Lee Johnson on the next episode of Rampage, which I’m super excited to see. Lee looked great during his match with Miro, so I’m expecting him to look just as strong against Black.
And finally, the eight-man tag team main event was the sort of bout that wouldn’t look out of place on a PWG show. The high spots were insane and the crowd was losing its mind (especially when Rey Fenix was in the ring!) as it went along. The babyface squad was on fire, but they were met with an unfortunate loss at the end of the night. The Elite then engaged in a lengthy post-match beatdown that took place inside the Steel Cage, which was clearly a preview of the AEW Tag Team Championship match at All Out. This ran a bit too long for my tastes, but it pushed the story between The Young Bucks, the Lucha Bros, Kenny Omega, and Christian Cage even more. So we got a good match at the end of this episode, but I just wished the post-match activities didn’t run so long to bring the episode to a close.
Botches: I think I’m about done with all this Best Friends vs. Hardy Family Office business. The match between Orange Cassidy and Jack Evans wasn’t too bad, but the way it ended during a picture-in-picture commercial break was a head-scratcher. It seems like this feud may finally come to an end based on the match that was booked for it on All Out. I just hope that’s truly the case. So we didn’t get another random-ass Paul Wight heel turn for once. The only problem is we got a random ass Billy Gunn heel turn here, which came out of nowhere and didn’t really move me to care too much. That left turn in the storyline between QT Marshall and Wight still hasn’t made me care all that much about it and I fear that it may go longer than I initially thought. All I want is a single chokeslam to QT to put a smile on everyone’s faces. With Gunn’s unexpected heel turn in play now, I feel like he’ll play a big part in that match and extend its runtime a bit longer than it really needs to be.
High Spots: So Impact Wrestling’s resident giants have decided to link up and target Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan. Consider me intrigued! As far as tag team feuds go, this one is certainly on my radar. After that vicious assault Eddie took from W. Morrissey and Moose here, I’m very much looking forward to him laying in some stiff kendo stick shots alongside Callihan in the near future. Josh Alexander (who’s now a full-time wrestler ever since he left behind his construction insulator job!) put out an open challenge for his X-Division Championship. And to everyone’s surprise, Jake Crist of OVE (Ohio Versus Everything!) fame answered it and looked as good as I remembered him being. I hope Impact brings him back full-time for another extended run with the company that put him on the map during his previous tag team/stable run. I also can’t wait to see Alexander and Chris Sabin clash at Victory Road!
Former NWA World Television Champion “Outlandish” Zicky Dice made his Impact debut on this episode during a segment with Brian Myers, which was another cool surprise. Dice will certainly make a solid addition to the Impact roster and I’m sure he’ll be given every opportunity to show his worth in the coming months. The Good Brothers got into it with their next challengers Rich Swann & Willie Mack, which set up a Bunkhouse Brawl between Karl Anderson and Swann on the next episode of Impact. And I’m sure those two teams will go head to head at Victory Road for the tag straps, which I definitely approve of. And finally, Ace Austin saved us all from having to watch Tommy Dreamer compete in a world title match on PPV by defeating him in the main event. The match was good in parts, but I was mostly there to watch Dreamer get taken out by one of wrestling’s most slept-on talents in the form of the high-flying trickster known as Ace.
Botches: The show opener left me with my arms crossed and none too entertained, to be honest. The “comedy” put on display here had me all the way stone-faced through it from start to finish. I usually check out whenever Madison Rayne and Tenille Dashwood pop up during a segment or match, so I already knew I wasn’t gonna enjoy the first few minutes of this episode. The tag team match that followed it between the Decay and Fallah Bah & No Way also left me feeling unsatisfied. I will forever be puzzled by Impact Wrestling’s decision to hand a contract to the man formerly known as No Way Jose - he’s always been super mid between the ropes and his party man gimmick stopped being relevant several years ago. He and Bahh have zero chemistry as a tandem and it clearly showed here.
The tag team match with Rohit Raju & Shera vs. Matt Cardona & Chelsea Green was also a short, inconsequential watch. Then we got a yawn-inducing promo soon after that focused on the supernatural cornball bullshit that Su Yung and Kimber Lee have been doing on a weekly basis. 2021 has been painful in parts thanks to the horrid Halloween horseshit Alexa Bliss and those two ladies have been putting me and my wrestling fans through lately...
High Spots: Well, would you look at that? Edge and Seth Rollins aren’t done beefing! BRING ON THE REMATCH! Both guys set up their SummerSlam runback for the Madison Square Garden episode of SmackDown via Rollins’ brutal imitation of Edge’s savagery towards Cesaro. Plus Edge made sure to deliver another one of his teeth-grindingly angry promos towards Rollins, which I never get tired of. Ya gotta feel for Dolph Ziggler, fam. The man went from getting the biggest crowd pop back when he cashed in to win the World Heavyweight Championship in 2013 to entering the arena to pure apathy from the fans in 2021. He got treated like your average WWF 90s jobber here as he got bodied by Rick Boogs in a short span of time. I like Boogs though, so I wasn’t too mad at that result.
The main event between Roman Reigns and Finn Bálor was a damn good finish to the show! Even though I felt like it could have been properly built up even more and set up for a bigger stage, I was quite pleased with what both men delivered here. The “Tribal Chief” put Balor to sleep, but it came after an assault from The Usos during Balor’s entrance and a low blow from the champ that hampered him before that final submission. So it became clearly evident that Balor will get a rematch against Reigns at Extreme Rules, especially since we got a tease of Balor’s “Demon King” persona once the show ended. Last Man Standing match between Reigns and Balor’s body painted alter-ego on PPV, perhaps? I CAN SEE IT!
Botches: The one thing about this show that irked me was the fact that most of its matches were set up to further angles instead of being actual quality bouts. The Usos vs. the Street Profits is the type of match that could thrive with 15+ minutes attached to it, but it got cut short to set up a future meeting in the coming weeks. I would have just preferred both teams go all the way and wrestle their asses off here to produce a definitive finish. Dah well! Dominik Mysterio experienced one of those old "slip on the banana peel" finishes as he got distracted by his Pops and took a sick Helluva Kick from Sami Zayn for the L. And that was another angle advancer instead of an actual match.
Bianca Belair actually got some halfway decent character advancement for once during her verbal clash with Becky Lynch. The only problem is I really don’t care about their big Extreme Rules title match, so I completely checked out of their whole segment. Anytime Logan Paul gets added to a WWE segment, pure disinterest from my end is sure to follow. He got thrown into the Happy Corbin vs. Kevin Owens feud, which you couldn’t pay me to care about. And finally, Naomi’s move to SmackDown is seemingly setting her up with a match against Sonya Deville. I’ve always thought Deville was pretty terrible in the ring, so I have no desire to watch Naomi struggle to eke a halfway decent matchup out of her.
High Spots: Man, this installment of Rampage was hittin'! From start to finish, I was all the way locked in for everything this episode delivered and all of it was damn good entertainment. Malakai Black and Lee Johnson got this show underway with an opener that saw Black practically play with his prey before he kicked its head off. After the match, Dustin Rhodes pulled up to defend the honor of The Nightmare Family and challenged Black to a match on the next episode of Dynamite. That could be something special if given a good amount of in-ring time. All praises due to Miro! He actually hit the ring this time to talk down on his All Out opponent, which forced Eddie Kingston to come out and talk down on the TNT Champion’s religious foundation. Kingston actually got the upper hand by planting Miro with a DDT, which set him up nicely for his PPV bout.
I figured the handicap match between Kris Statlander and Rebel (Not Reba) & Jamie Hayter would be nothing to write home about. But boy, was I wrong! AEW’s resident alien put her shocking power into action and pulled off a sick spot with a dual Electric Chair Drop/Falling Powerslam combo. THAT SHIT WAS SO DOPE! Statlander was a beast here and I’m convinced she’s gonna put on a banger with Britt Baker at All Out. And in the main event, CM Punk came out to do commentary for it. I damn sure got a good chuckle out of the dude in the audience that tried to hand Punk a drink (HE’S STRAIGHT EDGE, YOU IDIOT!). Darby Allin and Daniel Garcia produced a banger of a show closer thanks to some hard-hitting offense, reckless top rope maneuvers, and the outside shenanigans of Sting & 2Point0. Then Punk and Allin stared each other down to end the show and add that extra bit of hype to All Out. RAMPAGE FTW!
Botches: Nothing to speak of, honestly...
Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle
High Spots: Excuse my French and cover your ears for this one...AEW ALL OUT 2021 GAVE ME FUCKING LIFE! Not only was that one of the best wrestling PPVs I’ve seen this year, but it was also one of the greatest PPVs of all time. This show was filled with some awesome surprises that saw NJPW’s Minor Suzuki, Ruby Soho (formerly known as WWE’s Ruby Riott), Adam Cole, and Daniel Bryan! Then you have to factor in the overall match quality of the entire event, which was extra high. The Steel Cage tag team championship match was the obvious MOTN, but everything else on the card either matched or exceeded my expectations (the women’s title match was way better than I thought it would be). AEW’s roster is the strongest it’s ever been and its future is blindingly bright! All Out 2021 made me so happy to be a wrestling fan.
Botches: It really pained me and everyone else to see what former WCW/TNA star Daffney was going through on her IG Live. Everyone took notice of her disturbing behavior and made sure to call for help as soon as it came across their timeline. But sadly, she ended up taking her own life at the age of 46. I adored her run as the crazed goth chick that was always willing to put her body on the line during her storied hardcore brawls. Prayers up for her, her family, and her friends during these trying times.