Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: October 4-October 10

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High Spots: Night Two of the 2021 WWE Draft got underway and, as expected, some major names got brought over to the House of Raw. The most shocking announcement of them all came in the form of 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist Gable Steveson getting drafted to Raw. WWE is really banking on that man morphing into the next Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar combined! The dude is certainly a legit athlete that I’m sure will deliver in the ring. I just hope he has the natural charisma needed to attract the same sort of fanfare WWE’s former Olympic gold medalist had during his rookie year. I’m placing all my chips on Brock Lesnar vs. Gable main-eventing at WrestleMania 39! The version of Shayna Baszler we all know and love came out to obliterate Dana Brooke, which built her up even more for her eventual move to Friday Nights. After Shayna made short work of Dana, Piper Niven shockingly hit the ring to make the save for the defeated lady competitor. So is Piper getting drafted to SmackDown too cause they damn sure teased a future matchup between her and Shayna? I sure hope that’s the case.

Big E may be without his New Day brothers now that they’ve been moved to SmackDown, but he’s ready to defend his WWE Championship and hold his own. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode came out to remind us that Ziggler brought Big E onto the main roster in the first place. Side note - I still crack up at that clip of Big E accidentally swatting AJ Lee with his massive swinging arms during his entrance alongside her and Ziggler. Good time, good times...anyway, we ended up getting a tag match that saw Big E team up with Drew McIntyre against The Dirty Dawgs. And wouldn’t you know it? It got the appropriate time it needed to produce a worthwhile showing from all four men involved! Big E and Drew got the W, of course. And now they’re set to lock horns at Crown Jewel for the WWE Championship. I’m definitely checking for that one!

The ladies got to work their magic in the main event, which was a nice treat. Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair stepped in to replace Randy Orton vs. Omos since it devolved into an all too brief brawl. While we didn’t get a clear winner due to run-ins from Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks near the end, I was still left fulfilled by the in-ring splendor Charlotte and Bianca produced beforehand. It’s hella weird that the WWE Draft results don’t take effect until after Crown Jewel, but them’s the breaks. So I’m fully prepared to see everyone and their grandmother pop up on both shows to ignore the brand split to hype up Crown Jewel before all the big roster changes fall into place.

Botches: I’ve long since stopped caring about anything involving Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair on the mic these days. “The Man” got drafted to Raw and all I could think was “man, I hope Bianca Belair whoops that ass and gets the title off of her ASAP.” So the opening moments of the show that just had Becky and Charlotte jaw-jacking with each other had my finger on the channel changing button until Bianca saved me from doing so. Damian Priest vs. Jeff Hardy just wasn’t hittin’ like I expected it to, sadly. The match never got out of first gear and just felt lifeless, to be honest. It was kinda depressing to hear Austin Theory come out to nothing but crickets to interrupt Jeff afterward, too. Hopefully, that young upstart builds up his credibility and elicits louder reactions over time now that he's exclusive to Raw. Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo vs. Mustafa Ali & Mansoor should have been amazing...but it only got a minute and some change, so it ended up feeling like a huge waste of great match potential. For shame…oh and the 24/7 garbage maintained its trash status. Big surprise there, right?

The Women’s Tag Team Championship match was four minutes of pure apathy, fam. I just don’t have it in me to care about anything the champs and the former titleholders are involved in nowadays. And now that Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox have been drafted to different shows, I no longer have a women’s duo to really root for. So Goldberg is out here continuing to send out death threats towards Bobby Lashley, which led to their SummerSlam rematch officially getting booked for Crown Jewel. Their last match sucked though, so I have a strange feeling that this new match will suck just as bad too. At least it’s not for the WWE Championship this time. But still, anyone with a functioning brain knows ‘Oldberg just has to get a win over Lashley since it makes too much sense storyline-wise. Whatever. The New Day vs. The Hurt Business should have been the match of the night. But guess what? Just like all the other disappointing bouts on this show, it was far too short to truly mean anything. We got three hours for a wrestling show, yet we still can’t find enough time for two of WWE’s best tag teams to wow the crowd for more than 10 minutes? My heart weeps, y’all...

NXT 2.0

High Spots: Now that the 2021 WWE Draft has finally wrapped up, a few loose ends need to be attended to. Santos Escobar has his eye on Isaiah "Swerve" Scott’s NXT North American Championship. And now that we know we’re due for a Halloween Havoc edition of NXT 2.0 on October 26th, that seems like the perfect time to make that much-needed title change happen. Von Wagner will always look a bit off to me, plus his promo ability just isn’t strong enough to grab my attention quite yet. But it’s cool to see him develop a fruitful partnership with Kyle O’Reilly, who should bring the big guy along nicely and teach him a few things while they continue to feud with Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland. Makes a whole lotta sense for Wagner to score a major win over Holland before the UK brute makes his way over to SmackDown if ya ask me.

NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker are finally done talking - the match they’ve been teasing since NXT 2.0 came to has finally been confirmed for Halloween Havoc! Both guys engaged in a furious war of words that added an extra bit of hype to a match I’m very much looking forward to. Joe Gacy got some nerve trying to add himself to that match and potentially ruining it. You betta short work of that incel on the next episode, Ciampa! NXT 2.0’s resident skater girl Cora Jade had someone else in mind for her match before Franky Monet destroyed that original opponent and replaced her. It turns out Franky made a mistake as she ended up on the receiving end of a surprise roll-up pin for her troubles. Did we get another short match here? Of course. But we ended up getting a cool moment out of it for the new blood in Jade, so it was inoffensive at least.

A matchup between Pete Dunne and Cameron Grimes during the NXT 1.0 era would have gotten 15+ minutes and the main event slot. But the NXT 2.0 version we got here was five minutes long, sadly. Yet it was still a solid encounter between two of NXT’s old guard representatives. I’m just happy those two are still around to keep NXT 2.0’s match quality at a decent level. The revived rendition of The Diamond Mine is looking pretty damned good these days! Ivy Nile is a brick shithouse that’s gonna smash some heads now that she’s under the tutelage of Malcolm Bivens and the rest of his stable. NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez got some backup now that she’s got issues with Toxic Attraction. I didn’t have much interest in that feud until Io Shirai and Zoey Stark ran out to assist the champ and even the odds against TA. Now I care about this new beef!

The Fatal Four-Way Elimination Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship sure was a slapper, folks! It was hella depressing to watch the Grizzled Young Veterans get booted out since they’re my faves. Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen have some impressive moves, especially that chokeslam/powerbomb finisher of theirs. I’m getting real APA/Cade & Murdoch vibes from them. Even though MSK won the match, they did it by the skin of their teeth. It looks like the two big country boys are inching ever so closer to an eventual NXT Tag Team title win. But in this excellent main event, it was pretty much close but no cigar. Imperium wants another shot at the tag straps though, which doesn’t excite me one bit...

Botches: So Ember Moon and Mandy Rose started the night off on a mid note thanks to their...well, mid match. The result was never in question since Mandy’s being set up as Raquel’s next challenger, which took away from any sense of suspense the opening match could have had. I had high hopes for LA Knight vs. Odyssey Jones, but its painfully short run time kept me from being fully invested. Knight got the win though, so at least there’s a silver lining to it. Joe Gacy got the win over Ikemen Jiro after a wholly unfunny attempt at a comedy match. Plus it was short, so everything about it felt like a complete afterthought. 

Tony D’Angelo finally made his in-ring debut and it was...bleh. The crowd loves him though, so he’s doing good right out of the gate on that end. I’m not a fan of his gimmick that belongs in 1995 WWF, so it’s gonna take a lot for me to change my tune about the guy. It seems the powers that be have officially hit the “Wrap-It Up Box” on Mei Ying’s supernatural hogwash. Indi Hartwell beat her in less than two minutes, which leads me to believe that my former statement has some validity to it. That gimmick sucked from the very start, so I’ll be more than happy to see it go away. The match itself was unimpressive as expected. I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy a “Lashing Out” segment, fam - it’s just another horrible attempt at WWE’s version of humor that’s cringe at best. And now that we know Tony is going to be on the next episode, I’m fully expecting the absolute worst...

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: THE MILLENIAL COWBOY FINALLY SHOWED UP FOR WORK! I just knew Adam Page would pop up during the Casino Ladder Match as the Joker entrant and walk away with the chip. When his music hit, I lost my ever-loving shit and rooted for him to get the win. And he did just that after competing in an awesome show closer that featured some insane car crash-esque bumps. We got a Sunset Powerbomb off a ladder, Matt Hardy finishing off Orange Cassidy with a flying leg drop through a table, Jon Moxley brawling with Lance Archer in the crowd, Page planting Pac headfirst through a table, etc. THE WHOLE THING WAS MADNESS! I’m gonna cry tears of joy once Page finally defeats Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship just one year later at the same event that saw Page lose to Omega in the opening match.

Just like how the show closer brought everything to a satisfying conclusion, the show opener got this edition of Dynamite off to a very strong note. Daniel Bryan, Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus squared off with Omega, Adam Cole, and The Young Bucks. And just like you’d expect, it was the epitome of a multi-man PWG matchup. My main takeaways from that match are as follows - Luchasaurus is over like rover, Jungle Boy is amazing at such a young age, that powerbomb spot was botched big time, and everyone in this match still produced a fun opener despite that obvious slip-up. CM Punk came out afterward to chat with the rowdy Philly fans. He got his cheesecakes and cheesesteaks mixed up at one point, which was a nice light-hearted moment. He’s set to lock up with the young upstart Daniel Garcia on the next edition of Rampage, which should be good.

Bobby Fish made his AEW debut to his old ROH reDRagon theme to take on Sammy Guevera for the TNT Championship. And he looked damn good! Fish was his usual MMA/wrestler hybrid self and brought the pain to Sammy, who responded in kind with his usual array of flashy maneuvers. Their match was as well-paced and eventful as I expected it to be. Speaking of eventful, Dan Lambert, The Men of the Year, and American Top Team came out to assault Sammy and send a message to his Inner Circle stablemates. That brought out Chris Jericho and Jake Hager, who engaged in some back and forth trash-talking with Lambert. We’re getting a six-man tag out of this exchange that’s going to feature Junior Dos Santos in his very first wrestling match. I’m...intrigued. Darby Allin explained his reasoning for painting half of his face to Good Ol’ JR, which is quite the emotional tale. He’s set to face MJF real soon, so I get why they featured him in this segment. Hold on, wait a minute...that match might be happening much later than expected since some masked men that were obviously The Pinnacle tore him to shreds in the parking lot.

Hey, Dante Martin actually got some mic time! And he came off very confident while he spoke, which was a pleasant surprise. His moment got cut short by Malakai Black, who surprised him with a face full of mist and a swift Black Mass kick. Dante might wanna take Lio Rush up on the offer of his managerial services and get a bit of assistance if has any hopes of beating the leader of the “House of Black.” So the major announcement that was getting teased across all of my social media channels all week turned out to be a new championship. And this time, it’s a secondary title for the women’s division. Now we have the TBS Championship, which honestly looks better than the AEW Women’s World Championship. I’m fine with this new belt getting introduced and I think Ruby Soho, Thunder Rosa, or Jade Cargill should be the one to claim it first. 

Speaking of the women, Hikaru Shida finally made her Dynamite return to make a valiant attempt at winning her 50th match. Her opponent was the always excellent Serena Deeb, who now has a nickname similar to the one Dean Malenko used to run with. Both ladies had a very good match that showcased how much stronger the women’s division has gotten in recent months. The fact that we saw a plaque for Hikaru’s victory made it seem like the winner wasn’t in question. But to me and the crowd’s surprise, Serena came out on top after a hard-fought affair. After her win, Serena fully stepped into the dark side by smacking Hikaru right upside the head with her plaque. We got a good match, a shocking result, and a welcome heel turn for Miss Deeb. All in all, that was a fine women’s segment.

Botches: SLOW DOWN, AEW! This episode of Dynamite was going a mile a minute, wasn’t it? Tony Khan and his production staff gotta get that aspect of the show under control at some point. That and the unexpected commercial breaks put a blemish on an otherwise pleasant show. Oh and I’m usually a huge fan of The Acclaimed and their raps, but the backstage promo they delivered on this episode was definitely one of their rare misses. The Dark Order are finally back together again, which is fine I guess. I think I might be over that collective as a whole, which explains my overall feeling of “meh” during their backstage segment.

“Armed” Anderson’s backyard promo with Cody Rhode was a bit odd, too. I get that Arn was trying to convince Cody that his outside endeavors are too much of a distraction and he should refocus on wrestling. But it just felt a bit off. I was none too happy with the commercial break cutting out the majority of the match between Darby Allin and Nick Comoroto. The dive at the start was awesome, then the commercial break came through to disrupt most of it. Once we came back, it was bing bang boom...DARBY WINS! They could have saved that for Dark: Elevation and let that match breathe a bit. I loved watching Sting plant QT Marshall with a Scorpion Death Drop, though!

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: As we get closer and closer to Bound for Glory, Impact Wrestling makes sure to keep putting on some solid shows in order to hype up the best card possible for the company’s biggest show of the year. Christian Cage and Josh Alexander are set to square off for the Impact World Championship at that major event - they ended up tagging against Ace Austin and Madman Fulton. AND SURPRISE SURPRISE! It was an awesome main event. That Chaos Theory into the Killswitch was pretty sick, I must say. The tensions between the champ and challenger are festering even more, which has me extra hype to finally see them put their respect for each other to the side and clobber each other. At the start of this show, two of the Bullet Club’s finest (and Hikuleo…) clashed with FinJuice and Chris Sabin. That match was also quite enjoyable - I wonder if the BC has some outsiders coming in to face ‘em at Bound for Glory.

Heath is back! And he wants his bestie Rhino to shake off the brainwashing done to him by Violent By Design and fight by his side once again. VBD wasn’t tryna hear none of it, which led to them beating the hell outta Heath. Rhino’s absence was quite telling. The plot thickens, it seems. Black Taurus, Steve Maclin (ugh…), and Petey Williams went balls to the wall during their Triple Threat war to qualify for the X-Division Championship match at Bound for Glory. There were a few slip-ups here and there, but the match was entertaining for the most part. I could have gone for a Black Taurus victory here, but Steve got the win (unfortunately…). Deonna Purazzo and Mickie James’ murder beef is reaching a fever pitch! Scott D’Amore and Gail Kim had to break up their latest brawl and put in a non-contact rule between the two until they get their hands on each other again at Bound for Glory. So at Knockouts Knockdown, Mickie gets to handpick an opponent for Deonna. I just hope we’re getting someone from Mickie’s NWA stomping grounds to pull up on the Impact Knockouts Champion! I’m also excited to watch the Monster's Ball match between the ladies at that Saturday spectacular. Once again, RIP Daffney!

Botches: I can’t really say I enjoyed the six-woman tag that was meant to hype up Knockouts Knockdown. It was cool seeing Mercedes Martinez get a look here, but the match itself just felt a bit off due to the whole “tag partners that don’t get along!” trope. The painfully short tag match between Manny Lemons & Zicky Dice and Willie Mack & Rich Swann just felt like a waste of time and potential. I actually wanted to see more from Zicky since I remember enjoying him from his fun NWA run. And you know the vibes, guys! I turn my head in disgust every time Impact puts “All About Me” and Johnny Swinger on my screen.

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: I WILL FOREVER STAN BIANCA BELAIR! She left me with one of the best moments of the year as she planted Becky Lynch with a Kiss of Death right through Sasha Banks as she laid atop a table. The promo that took place before all that madness ensued was decent and all, but it ended on a high note that has me rooting even harder for Bianca to win the title back at Crown Jewel. The King of the Ring tournament is officially underway and it kicked off with a solid match between Rey Mysterio and Sami Zayn. Both men have worked well with each other on numerous occasions and that was the same case here. Sami got the win after Rey and his son started arguing mid-match - I wished they’d just get to the Dominik heel turn already. They’re taking forever and a day to get to that predictable end result for their tired feud.

Paul Heyman’s loyalty is to one man and one man only - the “Tribal Chief” who loves to be acknowledged, Roman Reigns. We got a quality promo segment from the two that saw Paul E. shower his client with even more compliments and cut down his former client. Roman’s verbal dig at “Suplex City” by speaking on the “Island of Relevancy” was big heat! I just might need that on a shirt at some point. In the second KOTR match of the evening, Finn Bálor and Cesaro went head-to-head. And to the surprise of no one, they gelled quite well together. While it hurt me a bit to see Cesaro lose and continue to flounder, I wasn’t too mad since Finn was the one to defeat him this time around. Sami vs. Finn should be just as good, if not better, than that match.

Sonya Deville is gonna take off her suit and put on some MMA gloves for the next episode of SmackDown! She and Naomi are finally gonna hash out their issues in a match, which I’m highkey interested in watching. Seth Rollins’ home invasion really pushed Edge...well, over the edge! Their blood feud continued here as Edge came out at the end of the show and beat Seth within an inch of his life. And then we learned about the next logical (and possibly final) step in their long-running beef - at Crown Jewel, Edge vs. Seth Rollins will take place inside the Hell in a Cell! This has to be one of the few HIAC matches that make total sense as a feud ender and not just something being booked for the sake of filling up the annual HIAC PPV card.

Botches: So the inaugural Queen’s Crown tournament got underway here, which I was certainly interested in watching unfold. But to my dismay, this tourney started off with painfully short matches and odd booking decisions. We got two super short matches between Zelina Vega & Toni Storm and Liv Morgan & Carmella. Not only were those matches worthless, but we got some odd winners out of them. Zelina and Carmella are going further in the tournament over the vastly superior Toni and Liv? That didn’t make any sense whatsoever. As for that “Happy Talk” segment, it sucked for the most part. Watching Kevin Owens continue to die inside as he continues to get belittled and beaten up by Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss is soul-crushingly bad...

AEW Rampage

High Spots: Rampage is starting to become the CM Punk show, isn’t it? And that’s completely fine by me! Chicago’s favorite son showed up with his long tights once again and squared off with the young submission specialist Daniel Garcia. Daniel impressed me like he always does - the young man knows how to work over a body part and make it look as excruciatingly painful as possible. Punk did his part by selling the hell out of his injured leg, but he eventually made a spirited comeback that saw him fly through the air to the outside and pull out a Springboard Clothesline. He even whipped out his old Pepsi Twist for old times sake! Punk got the win, of course. It would be pretty wild if he ever pulled out the Pepsi Plunge one night!

So Lio Rush’s promo clearly got Dante Martin’s attention ‘cause we saw them together on this episode. Matt Sydal thinks Lio is nothing more than a snake-oil salesman, but Lio lets him know he can make things happen. And one of those things is getting Matt a match with Punk on the next episode of Rampage. I faintly remember them wrestling against each other on a random episode of Raw way back when and it was good albeit short. So I’m hoping they go for much longer and produce something even better. The Lucha Bros. defended their AEW World Tag Team titles against The Acclaimed. That match moved at a fast, fluid, and furious pace that was fun to watch unfold. This is the best The Acclaimed has ever looked, to be honest. They held their own, but it was all for naught as Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix made short work of their latest championship challengers. 

The ladies came to compete as Jade Cargill came to blows with Skye Blue. The ebony goddess wrecked her without breaking a sweat and made sure to get in some more shots even after the bell rang for her victory. That post-match beatdown brought out Thunder Rosa, who wants all the smoke with Jade. Those two ladies better be the ones I see going to war in the Finals for the TBS Championship! The main event for this episode of Rampage saw Ricky Starks defend his FTW Championship against Brian Cage in a Philly Street Fight. Both men clobbered each other with a steel chair, a trash can lid, the actual trash can, and even a pool cue! All the extra interference from Powerhouse Hobbs and Hook was a bit much, but I still enjoyed the match as a whole. Ricky got the win with a crimson mask and continues to fulfill everyone’s high expectations of him.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly...

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: Major props to Major League Wrestling! They put their best foot forward with their “Fightland” special, which aired on Vice right after the latest episode of Dark Side of the Ring came to an end. I’m not a dedicated viewer of the MLW product, but I’ve seen some impressive clips of Jacob Fatu here and there. He just happened to be a part of the Title vs. Title main event, which was an awesome hard-hitting encounter. Fatu and Alexander Hammerstone got into some strong-style violence as they battered each other with some super impactful maneuvers inside & outside the ring. 

Hammerstone took hella abuse, but he fought through it all and landed a TKO on Fatu to relinquish the Samoan juggernaut of his MLW World Championship. That was a damn good main event and now Hammerstone is at the top of the MLW mountain as its World & National Openweight Champion. Oh, and before I forget, big props go out to the Japanese legend Tajiri! The man managed to keep up with the young high flyers Myron Reed, Arez, and Aramis during a match that felt like it was on fast forward from start to finish. Tajiri can still land that Backspring Elbow and pull off that signature Tarantula submission of his, which was super dope. Plus he won the MLW Middleweight Championship in the process! MLW Fightland may have earned itself a regular viewer from ya boy from this point forward.

AY, THIS MAN ROCKY GOT BARS! So I actually took a quick listen to Tech N9ne’s new joint “Face Off” ‘cause I heard the “Great One” spit a hot 16 on it. And to my surprise, it wasn’t outright trash like I expected it to be. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can do no wrong in my eyes. He’s a world-class athlete, a blockbuster movie star, a genuine human being, and now your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. I kid, I kid. But seriously though, Rocky sounded pretty good on Tech N9ne’s newest posse track and I can’t wait to hear the “Brahma Bull” deliver some more furious poetry in the near future.

To say that this past weekend of wrestling was newsworthy would be an understatement. Impact Wrestling put on a solid all-Knockouts show called Knockouts Knockdown, Game Changer Wrestling made headlines with its Fight Club event in Atlantic City, AAA delivered its Heroes Inmortales XIV showcase, NJPW Strong Autumn Attack took place, and Pro Wrestling NOAH Grand Square also transpired. The biggest news from Knockouts Knockdown is as follows - Mercedes Martinez won a tournament to be crowned #1 Contender for the Knockouts championship, Amazing Kong is finally going into the Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame, the recently departed Daffney got a well-deserved 10 bell-salute, and Deonna Purrazzo & Masha Slamovich had a damn good match. And at Bound for Glory, The IInspiration (formerly known as the IIconics) will make its debut! As for GCW Fight Club, Jon Moxley successfully defended his GCW World Championship against Nick Gage, Chelsea Green popped up to help her boyfriend Matt Cardona win back the Internet Championship, ROH’s Briscoe Brothers made a surprise appearance, and GCW is heading to the Hammerstein Ballroom on January 23, 2022.

Botches: Before the latest episode of Dark Side of the Ring came on, I had no clue who Johnny K9 was or what he did. After I got through a summary of all his illegal exploits, I was floored! How did I not hear about this guy beforehand? So the dude was a journeyman wrestler who got his start as a WWF jobber and eventually plied his trade in Ohio Valley Wrestling & other independent promotions. And from hearing how his peers described him, Johnny was a super nice guy. But then I learned about his biker gang activities and his alleged double murder charge - Johnny got caught up in a whole lotta shifty and sinister activities that are too damming to overlook. Blowing up a police station was just a sample of the wild stuff Johnny got caught up in! Check out his episode on DSOTR when you get a chance - it’s a wild one, that’s for sure.

I gotta send a Rest in Power to the gamed championship belt collector, Reggie Parks. Reggie lost his battle with COVID-19 and passed away at the age of 87. Reggie’s proudest accomplishment as a belt maker is his creation of the “Winged Eagle” WWF Championship. Plus he’s produced plenty of gorgeous titles for the AWA, WCW, the UFC, SHIMMER, and various boxing promotions. RIP, Mr. Parks...

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