Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: September 13-September 19

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High Spots: HE DID IT! HE REALLY DID IT! BIG E IS THE NEW WWE CHAMPION! Sure, his championship victory would have hit even harder if it wasn’t announced earlier in the day. But it’s still amazing nonetheless! Bobby Lashley and Randy Orton got into a verbal kerfuffle at the start of this episode, which eventually led to Big E coming out with his briefcase to tease them about his impending cash-in. Lashley and Orton ended up main-eventing and produced a memorable matchup in the process. After a damn good performance, Lashley demolished Riddle and proceeded to re-enter the ring soon after. However, his clearly bad leg sent out a signal to Big E that read “IT’S TIME TO CASH IN!” And that’s exactly what Big E did, which resulted in the lovable big guy dropping Lashley with a Big Ending to claim WWE’s richest prize. I damn near cried when that happened, fam! Here’s hoping he enjoys an eventful title reign in the coming months.

As for the rest of this airing of Raw, the match quality made it come off better than expected. Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baiszler was a pretty good bout, although I could have done without a Baszler loss resulting from a Nia Jax distraction. US Champion Damian Priest continued to be one of the main highlights of Raw by defending his title against a very game Jeff Hardy. Their solid matchup told me two things - Priest is a superstar on the rise and Jeff needs more opportunities to work with the talented midcard instead of being relegated to 24/7 Championship tomfoolery. Based on what happened post-match, we may be due for an Extreme Rules rematch between Priest and Sheamus for the highly coveted strap. Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya was a decent affair, which was a nice surprise. They’re really building towards a potential Women’s Tag Team Championship change at Extreme Rules, huh? I could see it happening! And as for the eight-man tag, it was a fun little piece of chaos. Omos’ mega push continues and I’m actually cool with it. I wouldn’t be too upset if he ended up being the one to bring Priest’s US title run to an end months from now.

Botches: Alexa Bliss has already taken the “honor” of being the very worst part of wrestling as a whole in 2021. She held onto that dubious title by participating in an eye-rolling segment where she gifted Charlotte with a Lily doll meant to look like the Raw Women’s Champion. That whole deal was just the purest, most potent form of WrestleCrap I’ve ever laid eyes on. The six-man tag was also a complete bore that was hampered by a “far too short to mean anything” runtime. At least The Viking Raiders got a win for once. Was the 24/7 Championship stuff finally good for once? Of course not! It was the hottest of visual trash, per usual. And how about Nikki A.S.H. vs. Tamina? Was that any good? *flushes toilet* Surely Eva Marie vs. Piper Nivens delivered, right? *laughs hysterically* OF COURSE, IT DIDN’T! And what the hell was that Karrion Kross backstage promo supposed to be? He really came off like a dollar store rendition of Sean O'Haire’s amazing 2003 persona.

NXT 2.0

High Spots: The black and gold have been left behind. The metal-inspired motif has been abandoned. And a whole lotta new faces have been slotted into WWE’s revived developmental program. The super indie era of NXT is now over - welcome to the lite-brite era of NXT 2.0! And to be quite honest, it’s gonna take me a while to get fully adjusted to it. While I’m cool with the overall look of this retooled rendition of NXT, some of the booking decisions that were made here left me quite puzzled. So at the start of the show, we got dueling promos from the four men that were set to compete in the main event for the evening to crown a new NXT Champion. All of a sudden, Rick Steiner’s son Bronson Rechsteiner came out to challenge LA Knight, who surprisingly accepted. So two things - it was pretty odd watching Knight take an L on the same night he was competing for NXT’s top title, plus the horrendous name change for Bronson was a head-scratcher (Bron Breakker? Really?). Bron looked good out there, though! Can’t wait to see more from the big guy.

We got another debut right after that opener with the tag team of Josh Briggs and Jensen. They looked decent enough in defeat against Imperium, so I’m ready to see what they’re truly capable of during a much longer match. We got some surprise returns on this NXT rebrand from a favorite of mine - US Champion Damian Priest! Oh, and Austin Theory was there, too. Carmelo Hayes got some time to work the mic on this episode. He did pretty well in that regard and introduced us to his swaggy bodyguard Trick. Trick showed he’s pretty damn good on the mic, too! That brother got some bars, doesn’t he? RIP to Duke Hudson, by the way. Man’s got stomped out tremendously!

Ridge Holland brought a huge smile to my face, so shout out to him for that. He obliterated the highly annoying Drake Maverick in about a minute and some change - watching Maverick get manhandled will forever be a highlight in my life. The Creed Brothers came out soon after and got the chance to do some manhandling of their own, which was also fun to watch. The Diamond Mine is in good hands with those two, plus the women’s division addition of Ivy Nile also looks like it’s gonna pay off extremely well. NXT Cruiserweight Champion Kushida made his grand return and set up a match between him and Roderick Strong for the next episode, which I’m very interested in seeing.

In the main event slot, we were treated to a fire Fatal Four Way for the NXT Championship. Due to an earlier assault on Kyle O'Reilly earlier in the evening, Von Wager was put in his place to compete with Knight, Pete Dunne, and Tommaso Ciampa. And on the whole, Wagner looked pretty good all things considered. I was pulling for the “Bruiserweight” to claim his first NXT Championship, but Tommaso Ciampa ended up being the one to claim the title in the end. That was clearly the best match of the night when you take into account all the squashes we were treated to beforehand. And to bring this colorful (literally) show to an end, the InDex wedding came through to make me shed a few tears and burst out laughing on a few occasions. “We’re in a ring, silly!” was an amazing dad joke (I LOVE THOSE!), Dexter Lumis showing off his ax even had me shook, and the fact that Lumis spoke for the first time ever popped the hell outta me! It’s such a rare and wonderful sight to watch a wrestling wedding go off without a hitch. You gotta love it...

Botches: New NXT, same old trash ass (S)Hit Row. You just can’t get rid of those guys, can ya? They were pure cringe as always, so there’s that. And as you’ve probably already guessed, I was bored to tears while watching B-Fab (ugh, that name…) squash Katrina Cortez. I never thought I’d be cheering so hard for Legado Del Fantasma to destroy (S)Hit Row, but stranger things have happened in my life as a wrestling fan. YOU GOT THIS, ELEKTRA LOPEZ! The women’s tag team match and the six-woman bout that came up right after it were both Mandy Rose looked hella awkward in the ring, which came as no surprise. As for her new look...another eh in that regard. And Tony D'Angelo? Bruh, I’m so cool on that lame-ass gimmick that looks/sounds like it came straight out of the New Generation Era...

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: AEW wrestlers sure love using the word “shit,” huh? I heard it a lot more than usual during this episode. But honestly, I was perfectly okay with it cause it added a lot of heat to the biggest promo of the evening. So this episode was better paced than the last one and left a lot of room for everything to work with the appropriate time it needed. Adam Cole kicked off the night in some slick new attire and put on a solid match with the in-ring vet that still has “it,” Frankie Kazarian. After he got the W, Cole set his sights on Jungle Boy and put out a huge six-man challenge for the NYC Arthur Ashe show that I can’t wait to see (side note - I’m gonna be there live, which should be fun!). MJF came out next to talk real spicy about the good folks in New Jersey and throw a few jabs at Brian Pillman Jr’s deceased father. That led to the second-generation star in the making hitting the ring to send MJF and Wardlow packing. Moments later, Pillman delivered the promo of his life during a taped segment with Good Ol’ JR. AEW actually has me super invested in an MJF vs. Pillman Jr. feud - ya love to see it!

Dante Martin got to go sky-high in front of an appreciative crowd once again during his tag team match alongside Matt Sydal and FTR. Everyone looked great during that bout, of course. Martin put in all the work to go airborne and leave everyone’s jaws on the floor, which is something I hope to see every week from this point forward. FTR ended up defeating the high-flying duo and continued to show everyone that they’re still considered one of the best teams in wrestling. The ladies got the time to impress here as well - the real-life Amazonian Jade Cargill and the short yet mighty Leyla Hirsch had a decent matchup. Cargill still looks a bit green at points, but she’s steadily improving the more and more she competes in longer matches. Shawn Spears (haven’t seen that dude in a while!) had a rare Dynamite sighting during his clash with Darby Allin. I loved Spears’ previous match with Sammy Guevara and I also got a kick out of this one. That Suicide Dive through the ropes while Spears sat on the steel steps was so ill!

After Allin got the win, FTR entered the ring to get into a post-match brawl with the face-painted faves. Sting took a nasty assisted piledriver that definitely shocked the shit (there goes that word again!) outta me. We’re getting a tag team match in NYC out of that jaw-dropping moment, so count me all the way in for that! As far as some of the other promo and non-wrestling segments went, all of them were pretty hype. Fuego Del Sol put up his newly acquired car against Miro for the TNT Championship, which resulted in “The Redeemer” serving up one of his amazing proclamations of destruction. Bryan Danielson helped Kenny Omega find his gonads and accept his challenge for a dream match that’s coming a lot sooner than I expected. Malakai Black surprisingly ended up on the receiving end of a chokehold from actress Rosario Dawson, which brought out Cody Rhodes for a big brawl in the middle of an enlivened crowd. And Dan Lambert’s verbal shutdown of AEW as a whole moved Chris Jericho and Jake Hager to pull up on him to challenge his boys Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky to a match.

Once we got a reveal for the supremely loaded Dynamite/Rampage show at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main event came through with Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston vs. 2Point0. It was decent for what it was and gave Moxley and Kingston the type of victory everyone expected. And with some good time to spare, Minoru Suzuki hit the ramp and had his iconic theme song play out long enough for the crowd to belt out “KAZI NI NARE!” Since there was even more time left over, Lance Archer helped his Suzuki-Gun stablemate put the boots to their future tag team opponents. Now that the “Suzuki Incident” is behind us, we can now prepare for the four-hour spectacular at Arthur Ashe Stadium! I gotta make sure I have a few Red Bulls on me for that one.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly...

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: CHRISTIAN’S COALITION FTW! In a star-studded main event, 10 of the very best wrestlers in Impact Wrestling clashed and put on one hell of a show-closing performance. It’s starting to become quite evident that Impact has even bigger plans set in stone for Jake Alexander in the near future as he ended up nabbing the winning pinfall for his babyface team. I’m tellin’ y’all - Jake is going to be the one to cash in his “Option C” title shot at some point and be the one to defeat Christian for the Impact World Championship! So Violent by Design is now down one member due to Rhino’s violent exclusion from the crazed stable. While watching that unfold, all I could think was “Heath must be on his way back to reunite with Rhino and get him some revenge, right?” That has to be a sure bet at Victory Road or maybe later down the line during Bound for Glory.

Petey Williams and TJP also locked horns on this episode and pulled off some pretty slick technical wrestling for all the appreciative fans in attendance. The finish was a little abrupt for my tastes cause I obviously wanted to see more from those two. Steve “Create-A-Wrestler #349” Maclin came out to attack both men afterward, which you already know did absolutely nothing for me. The match was still good, though. John Skyler and Laredo Kid had a damn good match that pointed to Impact’s bright future with those two young talents on full display. Laredo got the first W, Skyler nabbed the second one, and now I’m expecting a heated tiebreaker between the two that will easily surpass the quality of their last two matches. I CAN’T WAIT! 

Matthew Rehwoldt and Trey Miguel had a surprisingly dope match that made the former Aiden English look the best he’s ever looked in Impact thus far. Even though Trey left their encounter as the victor, my attention was mostly set on Matthew and his star-making performance. A lot of big-time encounters were booked for Victory Road during this edition of Impact - that special event is shaping up to be a worthwhile watch thanks to matches such as Christian Cage vs. Ace Austin, Josh Alexander vs. Chris Sabin, and Moose & W. Morrissey vs. Sami Callihan & Eddie Edwards. THAT SHOW SHOULD BE A FUN ONE, FOLKS!

Botches: Anytime we get another installment of “It’s All About Me,” I place my head in my hand and prepare myself for a cringeworthy segment that’s guaranteed to bore me into an early bedtime. While I loved the three ladies that paid a visit to this edition of the trashy talk show, I just couldn’t bring myself to care all that much since they were stuck in a segment with Tenille Dashwood and Madison Rayne. Big miss for me right there...

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: That opening segment was something quite special, wasn’t it? The new WWE Champion Big E stood across the ring from the Universal Champion Roman Reigns and stared him down to tease the cross-brand six-man tag that’s happening on the next episode of Raw. Before that cool visual took place, Reigns spoke on “The Demon” and “The Beast” that he’s set to square up with next. The “Tribal Chief” never disappoints on the mic these days, I tell ya! Big E & Finn Bálor vs. The Usos was full of star power and ended up being a fun matchup once the dust finally settled. That simultaneous Big Ending/Coup de Grâce was simply a thing of beauty. So Reigns still doubts Paul Heyman’s truthfulness (as he should!) regarding Brock Lesnar’s shocking appearance at SummerSlam. Reigns better take a look at Survivor Series 2002 to get a hint regarding Heyman’s true colors is all I’m sayin’...

My boy Rick Boogs made short work of Robert Roode with some crisp suplexes and a devastating Pumphandle Powerslam. After Boogs’ win, Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez beat the hell out of Shinsuke Nakamura and Boogs. Crews is getting another shot at the Intercontinental Championship, which is a match I can definitely get behind. “Happy Ass” Corbin got the jump on Kevin Owens later in the evening and stopped their match from officially starting, so it looks like they’re heading for a meeting at Extreme Rules. Let’s just hope that match actually gets some extreme rules attached to it. Seth Rollins blamed the WWE Universe for what he did to Edge during their second encounter - while his promo ran a little too long, it got its point across well and left the door open for one more match between the two (Crown Jewel, perhaps?). Bálor’s promo was pretty good and reiterated on “The Demon” coming to Extreme Rules to try and claim the Universal Championship. Even though I know Reigns isn’t dropping the strap anytime soon, I’m still chomping at the bit to watch another epic matchup between those two young studs.

Botches: That tag team women’s match went over like...wait, how does Jim Ross describe it? Oh yeah! Like a fart in Church. The match was no good and Carmella’s horrible job at selling a broken nose led to it ending via a lame count-out. I still don’t care about Naomi vs. Sonya Deville, so there’s that. And I’m super burnt out on Dominik Mysterio at this point. The overexposure of the second-generation wrestler has been getting to me a bit lately, which is why I couldn’t bring myself to stay engaged during his match with Sami Zayn. And finally, Bianca Belair’s Homecoming Celebration just didn’t come off all that well to me. Becky Lynch’s drip was immaculate, of course. But the overall corny feel of that segment and WWE’s horrible tendency of making the hometown hero look like a fool hampered the closing moments of this episode of SmackDown.

AEW Rampage

High Spots: Boy, you can really tell the crowd was tired as hell during the post-Dynamite taping for this airing of Rampage. Even during the opener where the Lucha Bros. and The Butcher & The Blade went balls to the wall, the fans were pretty much sitting on their hands. I totally understand them, though - taping portions of Dynamite, Dark: Elevation, and Rampage can definitely take a lot out of the fans watching it. This edition of Rampage was okay at best. The aforementioned tag team opener had some cool moments and featured a unique finish, but it noticeably fell off at points. The post-match beatdown by the HFO brought out Santana & Ortiz, which leads me to believe that we’re set for a big eight-man tag at Arthur Ashe Stadium. We got some follow-ups to two major bouts that are set to go down at that same stadium in good ol’ NYC - Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson sent some verbal darts at each other regarding their upcoming dream match, plus Powerhouse Hobbs got to show off a bit more of his character to hype up his match with CM Punk. Good stuff on both ends.

The best promo segment of the night was easily the one that took place between Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. and Ruby Soho. Both women were super confident on the mic here - I never even knew Soho had it in her to be on Britt’s level when it comes to sparring on the mic. Britt came at Ruby’s neck when she congratulated her for finally getting some TV time (that was clearly a jab at her non-presence on WWE TV before her release), but Ruby cut real deep with her line about Britt’s backstage relationship with a certain “BAY BAY.” I was excited about their match beforehand, but now I’m even more hype to see them lock up for the first time. And in the main event, Fuego Del Sol put up his newly acquired car to get another shot at Miro’s TNT Championship. Their match was decent at best and could have been better if it weren't for some sloppy exchanges throughout. The main takeaway from that match was the fact that Miro is still TNT Champion and possibly has a date with destiny against Sammy Guevara.

Botches: I’m really not feeling The Bunny or Anna Jay. They had a bunch of sloppy moments here and there that put me off of everything they were trying to do during their match. I feel like Anna has more upside than The Bunny when it comes to future potential being realized - I just hope she improves a lot sooner rather than later. Matt Hardy’s tired feud with Orange Cassidy continued here and used the old “fan in the crowd that’s actually an indie wrestler” trope to get some heat on the money manager. It was hilarious watching Orange Cassidy take his sweet time getting to the ring to save that “fan” from Hardy & Jack Evans’ assault. I guess we’re getting a hair vs. hair match between Cassidy and Hardy sometime soon, but honestly? I could care less about it...

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: I TOLD Y’ALL! I TOLD Y’ALL! Josh Alexander’s mega push would eventually push him towards “Option C” at Bound for Glory. Moose for Christian Cage would have made for a fitting main event at Impact’s October spectacular, but Josh’s strong body of work over the past couple of months set him up as a far more credible opponent. As for the rest of Victory Road, it was a cool lil’ show. The matches I looked forward to (the Impact World Championship, the X-Division Championship, and five-man scramble bouts) were good and the rest of the card delivered some solid matchups as well. Now we look ahead to Bound for Glory, which is sure to be a great cross-promotional mega event.

Botches: Maaaaaaaaan...Tommy Dreamer and Ric Flair are in the deepest of shit, bruh! Dark Side of the Ring returned on Vice and it came in hard by covering “The Plane Ride From Hell.” And everyone who watched it came away with the very same thoughts - Dreamer ain’t shit and Flair MOST DEFINITELY ain’t shit! Defending sexual assault and chalking it all up to “boys will be boys” is not it, ladies and gentlemen. Impact Wrestling has reportedly suspended Dreamer indefinitely, plus Flair is said to have had his Carshield commercials put on hold per further investigation. Now the prospect of Flair coming in to be Andrade’s manager went from super likely to never gonna happen. And as someone who read Chris Kanyon’s (RIP) autobiography, his Dark Side of the Ring episode is probably gonna get a lot of folks in trouble too.

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