Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: November 29-December 5
High Spots: Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor got the ball rolling on a strong note boy, I tell ya! This episode of Raw started out with your usual long in the tooth promo, but it wasn't insufferable like they usually are since Seth mentioned his big plans for the first WWE PPV of the new year. After announcing his match with Big E on Day 1, Finn ran up on the man that did him dirty the week prior. And what we got out of that all that was a strong test of wills and strength between two men who have no use for rest holds. This match was full of slick Sling Blades from both men and the usual array of graceful maneuvers they pull out when times get desperate. Great match here and a strong win for the flyest man I've ever seen in a red fur coat. At the end of the show, Kevin Owens pushed himself right into the third man slot for the WWE Championship match on Day 1 when he got one over on Big E. Props to those big boys 'cause they had themselves a good match full of the intensity their feud has been amplified by. I was not expecting that SUPER superplex from Owens to Big E! Seth attacked Kevin to end the match and cause a DQ, which had me tight at first...but then I went from mad to glad 'cause it led to Kevin finessing his way into the Day 1 match. WE GOT US A TRIPLE THREAT AS SOON AS 2022 BEGINS, Y'ALL!
RK-Bro took on Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode for the Raw tag team straps. And wouldn't you know it? They had themselves quite the spirited contest! Riddle's hot tag comeback is always a fun time, plus The Dirty Dawgs looked cunning & calculating as always. The finish that saw Randy Orton roll Ziggler behind him with his own tights and proceed to RKO him as soon as turned around was a work of art, fam. So the "Rated R Superstar" Edge is back and on the lookout for someone new to beef with. And it turns out his latest hater is none other than The Miz, who's fresh off his run on Dancing With the Stars. Both men decided to light each other up on the mic here, which was a battle that clearly swung in Edge's favor. My man Edge said, and I quote (Michael Cole voice), "You have people on other shows saying your name just to get a cheap reaction. You live rent-free in a lot of heads." DON DEMARCO! That line was pure flames and deserved a much louder reaction from the live crowd in attendance. The match itself between Edge and The Miz might not turn out all that great, but at least the promos will be memorable when you consider how much of a banger this one was.
That United States title match was okay at best - Damien Priest and Apollo Crews certainly fought hard, but there were a few sloppy moments here and there that brought its overall quality down a bit. But overall, they left me feeling content with what they managed to pack in within the eight minutes and some change they were given.
Botches: I'm not the only one that thought it was super disrespectful to use the recent releases to get heat on the babyfaces, right? Liv Morgan brought it up when she called out Becky Lynch's "big, fat greedy contract" as the reason why her friends (Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan) are gone. Then Edge went ahead and used the whole releases thing during his promo against The Miz when he told him he leaves his partner's (John Morrison) high and dry to get fired. I really wish they didn't use real-life job losses as anything but storyline fodder. It just felt so unnecessary and cheap. Now, lemme get back to that first duel of the mics between Liv and Becky - didn't care for it! "The Man" is annoying as hell and I've stopped being all that invested in Liv at this point. The 10-woman tag that led to Liv finally getting her Raw Women's Championship match wasn't much to write home about, either - even the rapid-fire finisher sequence didn't do much to wake me up as it transpired. That spinebuster from Bianca Belair to Piper Niven was the only highlight, which technically doesn't count all that much since it took place after that weak match came to a close.
The Street Profits and The Alpha Academy match wasn't even long enough to really reach the highs I expected of it, plus it didn't get a ton of focus since AJ Styles' corny "fake being blind" act took most of the attention away from it. I guess the only silver lining I can take away from that whole ordeal is the teased breakup between AJ and Omos (FINALLY!). It pains me oh so much to see Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander be treated like the scrubbiest of scrubs - instead of rebuilding the Hurt Business to its former glory alongside Bobby Lashley and MVP, they're just out here taking random L's to Rey and Dominik Mysterio. I didn't really care for their match since it was way too short for my tastes, plus I'm beyond tired of Dominik on my TV at this point.
Ay, I get it - Austin Theory is next up as WWE's future Superstar and he's on his way thanks to the mentoring of Mr. McMahon himself. But their skits quickly ran their course once the third one rolled around. Vinnie Mac looks so weird these days, plus it's kinda hard to understand a word he's saying. All that mumbling had me confused and it dame sure looked like Austin had a tough time deciphering what the hell his boss was saying at times. This is sadly going to continue, I bet. I would have rather seen some sort of new manager show up to give Austin some words of wisdom instead of being forced to watch the boss babble and slap him around all through the show.
High Spots: That freshly saved, rich as hell country boy Cameron Grimes is back to stompin' fools' chest in instead of getting involved in clown behavior backstage. He put the biggest smile on my face when he put the walking trash bag with a college sweater on known as Andre Chase away in no time at all. I can't wait to see Cameron stomp Duke Hudson's soul out of his charisma-less husk of a body. So we got a debut on this episode for a man by the name of Edris Enofé, who got to deliver a few words about his days spent in the armed forces and going hard to prove his doubters wrong. To see him go from a decent showing on the mic to taking the L when pitted against Solo Sikoa was a strange booking decision, no doubt. But Edris still came out looking good enough to hang with the rest of the NXT 2.0 crew. I'm a bit intrigued by the guy now (his fire attire and slick standing moonsault definitely did a lot for me!). Go figure. Boa's trash ass came in after the match to get the jump on Solo. All I know is this - Solo better beat his irrelevant ass back to the catering area ASAP.
Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner locked horns with Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza and ended up producing a solid showing. Von looked the best he's ever looked thus far, I'll give him that. I hope Kyle & Von have themselves a great tag team war once they finally bump into Imperium at WarGames. Shout out to Von for calling the NXT tag team champs dumbasses just for the hell of it. That Draco Anthony fella put a lil' fear in my heart, I'm not even gon' lie. Man's really looked and sounded like was ready to hold up a random Waffle House and leave with everything! I've met dudes like him back during my college days spent in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is why I'm lowkey excited to see what kinda savage he truly is.
The closer of the evening was a doozy, y'all! Johnny Gargano and Bron Breakker went ahead and clearly had the better ladder match of the evening. It was a great slow-burner that perfectly built up to its big spots - Bron's belly-to-belly suplex to Johnny on the ladder, Johnny's superkicks to Bron while he held the ladder on his head, and Bron's crispy Frankenstiener off the top rope all had me in awe! Watching the old generation of NXT butt heads with the new blood of developmental in this ladder match was such a joy to watch. If this is truly Johnny's last NXT match on Tuesday nights, then I have to salute the man for an amazing run that I'll make sure to mention on Twitter once a week.
Botches: I'm clearly going to be in the minority when I say this, but that opening Ladder Match between Kay Lee Ray and Dakota Kai didn't captivate me whatsoever. I'll give 'em all the kudos in the world for going long and participating in some painful spots, but both women are nowhere near my favorites when the cream of the crop in NXT are brought into the conversation. This goes without saying, but it's really hard for me to get into a match when I have no interest in watching either person that's competing in it. Yo, whoever this mystical shaman is better be able to talk their ass off! 'Cause I'm not tryna hear another word spoken by MSK - I'm officially at my wits end with those two when it comes to speaking 'cause I've been forced to sit through their corny ass skits for the past couple of weeks. MSK finally found their spiritual adviser, but I had to endure another one of their cringe-inducing pothead monologues to finally watch it happen.
Joe Gacy continued being one of the worst parts of the show this week with his horrible segment focused on "inclusivity." His mind-numbingly boring promo and boring squashes almost put me into hibernation - thankfully, Malcolm Bivens came out to liven things up with his highly entertaining shit talk and send Roderick Strong into the ring to put hands on Joe's lame ass. Joe actually got the better of their exchange though, which disappointed me a bit. Here's hoping Roddy kicks Joe's head off into the heavens at WarGames.
We got another boring ass vignette for the incoming "my daddy buys me a new car for Christmas every year!" rich girl Tiffany Stratton. I didn't care about her during her first promo and I damn sure couldn't bring myself to give a shit about her during this one. I'm sure she looks the part and can probably work better than everyone thinks. But her gimmick is already dead in the water with me. And I'm already tired of mopey and super sad Indi Hartwell being too distracted to focus on her damn matches. The tag team affair she was featured in on this show was too short to even be a blip on the radar anyway. Shout out to Stu Bennett for reiterating my exact thoughts about her emotional BS on commentary.
High Spots: Cody Rhodes is truly out of his damn mind! In his hometown of Atlanta, he went above and beyond to regain the fans' adoration. And he tried to achieve that goal by taking a ridiculous bump through a flaming table by reverse suplexing Andrade El Idolo right onto it! That spot was the very last thing I was expecting to see on this random episode of Dynamite. The action that took place before all that burning madness was pretty hype, I must say. Cody and Andrade El Idolo clobbered each other with steel chairs, chains, and even laptops. They brawled all over the arena and even their respective managers started throwing hands (Arn Anderson scared the hell outta me when tripped and fell back first off the stage ramp!). Even T-Pain got in on the action by handing Cody a chair to swing right into Andrade's back. I enjoyed this slow-closing garbage brawl very much. The golden shovel spot was super corny, but everything else (especially that crazy-ass ending!) left me satisfied. That might be the first time I watched a man pin someone while they were on fire. CODY'S HARDCORE! CODY'S HARDCORE! CODY'S HARDCORE!
When the show began, we got Bryan Danielson retaining his ass-kicking heeldom by taking on Atlanta's very own Alan Angels. Like he did against Kenny Omega on previous occasions, Alan took the fight to Bryan and looked great while doing so. But it was all for naught as Bryan brutalized him and took out another member of the Dark Order. Afterward, Bryan took some shots at the AEW World Champion and added even more steam to their upcoming title match at Winter is Coming. Since both men were advised to not lay hands on each other, Adam Page and Bryan simply stared each other down on the stage ramp and built their tensions to another high. Bryan's next Dark Order challenge comes from Jon Silver, which I think will be the best matchup from that whole series. Miro's continuing disagreement with his vengeful god got kicked up a notch with a segment that showed him angrily pacing around a white landscape. Once again, we got another great promo from the angriest Bulgarian the wrestling world has ever known. Miro's war with the man above that took away all his gifts has been one of the best feuds of the year...how crazy is that?
CM Punk had a damn good match with Lee Moriarty, who clearly stepped up to the plate tonight and proved he's another future "pillar" of the company. Watching Lee pull off Punk's Pepsi Twist was something I definitely wasn't expecting to see. While both men were doing their thing in the ring, MJF sat in on commentary and shitted on Punk the entire time. That "CM stands for cookin' meth" line had me in tears, fam! Once Punk scored the win after a very cool application of the Go to Sleep, MJF hopped on the mic to get even more verbal digs in on his future opponent. After dropping some hella disrespectful lines about Punk that brought up Britt Baker and the man's precious dog, Punk almost ran down on him and beat him into next year. Wardlow stopped that from happening, of course (Punk went ahead and called MJF a pussy without the live mic in hand, which was hilarious!). Speaking of Wardlow, he powerbombed yet another helpless victim to the delight of the crowd. I can't get enough of that big man destroying random jobbers. I even enjoy Shawn Spears having an orgasm every time he swings a chair at anyone that catches a beatdown from his boy Wardlow. That babyface turn for "Big War" is coming sooner or later, I can feel it!
Sting has done plenty of amazing work in Atlanta. And on this episode, he donned the same face paint as his onscreen son Darby Allin as they clashed with The Gunn Club. While the match format was simple, it was concise and worked to perfection. When Sting got the hot tag, he went nuts and got the biggest pops of the night as he broke out his signature moves to put the beatdown on Billy Gunn and his young seed. Darby came flying like a bat out of hell as he flew through the ropes on two occasions to take out the opposition. The finish that saw Darby land his signature Stunner and segue right into Sting landing his Scorpion Death Drop was dope as hell! Fun stuff there from the face-painted GOATs of AEW. And finally, I also gotta show some love to the TBS Women's Championship tourney match between Ruby Soho and Kris Statlander. It took a while for the crowd to react to it, but they eventually came alive as the match really got going. This was clearly Ruby's best match to date thanks to the fluid action, the energetic crowd during the second half, and some exciting near falls. Ruby got the win, but I was left far more impressed by Kris' spirited performance here. Next up is Ruby vs. Nyla Rose, which is a match I'm fully expecting Ruby to win on her way to taking the whole tournament and becoming the first-ever TBS Women's Champion.
Botches: Was it just me or could you literally hear an orgy of crickets during that Lio Rush/Taz talking segment? The crowd's energy levels were up and down throughout the evening, but it was especially at level 0 while they watched Lio stumble through his words (which is unusually uncharacteristic of the guy). I do like where this whole "Dante Rush joins Team Taz!" deal is going, but I wasn't all that keen on the segment that took place on this episode to help push it along. And also, I gotta be honest - Chris Jericho beefing with 2Point0 and Daniel Garcia doesn't excite me all that much. Jericho took a nasty chair shot that shut him up though, which was nice.
Adam Cole's entrance is so awesome that he has to do it in full even when he's out to just do some commentary. While that part was fire, his brief little encounter with Orange Cassidy felt a bit cold in my eyes. I'm open to watching a singles match between Adam and Orange at some point (Winter is Coming, perhaps?), but I could have done without the SuperKliq beatdown segment that transpired here. It wasn't terrible by any means, but it just felt like filler more than anything else. What the hell took Orange's Best Friends so long to come help him? All those chairs back there and it took you that long to find some, huh?
High Spots: Moose has the whole world gunning for him and his Impact World Championship, boy! I mean, it makes sense - the man has been talking super spicy ever since he put Josh Alexander down right in front of his family to capture the company's biggest prize. Moose got right in Matt Cardona's face and told him he'll last as long in the ring with him as his Intercontinental Championship runs (damn...that one hurt me a lil' bit, not even gon lie). The static reached an all-time high once W. Morrissey and Eddie Edwards entered the fray and got it poppin' with an intense brawl at the start of the show. And as expected, we got the old-fashioned Teddy Long tag team special once all four men ended up in the main event of the evening. That match ended up being a solid closer that actually saw Cardona get the win over Moose with a quick roll-up. After the match, Morrissey booted Moose's head off into the 10th row. And once I hopped on Twitter, I found out Moose is going to defend his title against both Cardona and Morrissey at Hard to Kill. Sounds good to me!
The main reason I tuned into this episode of Impact was to witness JONAH's in-ring Impact debut. And damn, did he deliver! The new top dog of Impact massacred Jai Videl in no time flat and made sure to talk his shit right after. I'm all the way ready to see JONAH and Josh Alexander go at each other's throats once Hard to Kill comes around at the top of the year. Chris Sabin stepped up to Matthew Rehwoldt in the opener of the evening and it was decent for the time it was given. The bigger story coming out of that match was the nasty brawl between Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo - their war is getting even more intense and I can't wait to see a mixed tag erupt out of that whole segment in the coming weeks. Shout out to Rachael Ellering and Savannah Evans - they had themselves a good match to give us a better look at who might be a part of the first-ever Knockouts Ultimate X match. Tasha Steelz got sent to the heavens above with that sick lariat from Rachael, ain't she? Serves you right for runnin' up in there all willy nilly.
Violent By Design actually took a shocking L on this show when they ran into the combined forces of Rich Swann and Willie Mack. Match was decent, as expected. And seeing as how Heath and Rhino ran in afterwards to even the odds once the rest of VBD ran in, I hope we get Rich/Willie/Rhino vs. VBD sometime soon. Heath can keep watch on the outside or whatever...
Botches: Keep The IInspiration far away from The Influence! The last thing I need is Tenille Dashwood and her stable full of mid disrupting the greatness that my two favorite Australian ladies gift the world on a weekly basis. I'm definitely not tryna see them get all buddied up for too long after their lil' backstage peace session here. Unfortunately, Hernandez and Johnny Swinger showed up to get a match set up between Larry D and Rohit Raju. Bruh, I'm extra EXTRA cool on that...
High Spots: It's always nice to get a reminder now and then when it comes to Brock Lesnar's flashes of brilliance on the mic. He stood toe to toe with one of WWE's best talkers in Sami Zayn and held his own by simply being his typical terrifying schoolyard bully self. I never thought I'd see Brock and Sami clash on the mic, but I'm glad it actually took place here. If Brock tells you to do something right then and there, then you'd better damn well do it! I laughed my ass off when Brock said Sami's name and had to double-check just to see if he remembered it correctly! Paranoid Sami was especially in fine comedic form here during this SmackDown opening segment. Roman Reigns is going mad the more things get out of hand, especially considering Paul Heyman's apparent lack of knowledge concerning Brock's presence. And now that Kofi Kingston is back with his boy King Woods, The Bloodline have their hands full once again. I could have done without the short singles match between Jey Uso and Woods that ended in a DQ, though.
"Give me pyro and see what happens! Give me jewelry and see what happens!" Damn, Shayna Baszler! I like the trash talk, forreal! Shayna and Sasha Banks had themselves a pretty good match, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. I'm glad those two got to work their magic without any outside shenanigans to mess it all up. Man, y'all know the deal by now - Xia Li is not to be trifled with and dares anyone to underestimate her. We get it, we get it...JUST LET THE LADY DEBUT ALREADY! I'm more than ready to watch her take on the likes of Toni Storm and Naomi before she steps up to the big leagues to face Charlotte Flair. I loved how Ridge Holland watched the monitor backstage like a normal person instead of the usual strange way his fellow wrestlers do it. Nice touch there. Sheamus and Cesaro had a decent little sprint that I wish went a bit longer. Those two never have a bad match no matter how much or little time they're given though, so it's whatever.
Botches: Good lord, fam. How short was that match between the Viking Raiders and Los Lotharios? Like, it had to be a minute and some change at best. That awkward pause when Angel took forever and a day to help Humberto finish off Erik was awful. Rick Boogs most likely missed his cue, which forced the in-ring action to come to a full stop while he got around to playing his damn guitar. And then, Humberto rolled up Erik with ease and made him look like the ultimate dumbass. Man, where's the NXT version of Erik and Ivar I loved so much? Watching them mosh like absolute clowns with Shinsuke Nakamura and Boogs was excruciatingly bad. "Happy Talk" made its unwelcome return as usual. Happy Corbin was a complete bore on the mic, Madcap Moss threw out even more of his horrible amateur hour jokes, and Drew McIntyre continued to look like an absolute cornball with his sword threats. A feud between those three with Jeff Hardy by Drew's side is the last thing I wanna see. Jeff should be fighting against Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship instead of palling around with Drew to take on C-level Superstars.
The writers are doing an amazing job of making give less than two shits about Charlotte Flair vs. Toni Storm, I must say. Pie-facing antics are the worst way to get me into a match I actually cared about two weeks prior to all this grade-school behavior. Sigh...both the top women's championship feuds on Raw and SmackDown leave me feeling empty right now. At the end of the show, Sami got treated like a Shotgun Saturday Night jobber when he ran into Roman for the Universal Championship. Sami talked, Brock came out to interrupt him, proceeded to beat him within an inch of his life, and left him in a broken enough state to have Roman beat him in seconds. Using Sami as a storyline tool to get us to Roman vs. Brock at Day 1 just felt so wrong. I'm a big Sami fan, so watching that whole thing go down the way it did was super lame...
High Spots: Man, I gotta say this first and foremost - I've really been enjoying Sammy Guevara's TNT Championship reign thus far! He's put on bangers with the likes of Miro, Bobby Fish, and Jay Lethal. And on this edition of Rampage, Sammy added another great showing to his match card with his clash against Tony Nese. Their meeting was a fast-paced test of mettle that saw both men go flying inside and outside the ring on multiple occasions. Sammy's corkscrew tope was pure poetry in motion, plus Tony's over-the-top-rope dive was equally amazing. Tony smartly worked over Sammy's injured ribs, but the TNT champ fought back and fought back hard with his usual blindsiding maneuvers. By the time this one entered its final stages, it got "THIS IIS AWESOME!" chants and deservedly so. Sammy kept the belt around his waist and now I'm eagerly anticipating who he'll face next.
Queen Jade Cargill doesn't get paid by the hour, does she? That badass lady kicker she took on looked cool as hell and I was hoping to see her lay in a few strikes. But Jade wiped her out with that merciless pump kick of hers and finished her off with that Glam Slam I've come to be a big fan of. Since Jade got to putting feet and hands on her fallen foe after the bell, Thunder Rosa hit the ring to get the jump on her future TBS Women's Championship tournament adversary. I love me a good pull-apart brawl and that's exactly what happened here. Can't wait to see how those two mix it up in the ring. As far as backstage segments go, Christian Cage continued to use his tag team smarts to continue pushing Jurassic Express to the top. And the SuperKliq sent out a Dynamite tag team challenge on behalf of the Young Bucks to Best Friends. Don Callis passed 'em by in the background, which lets me know that his influence will be felt in a major way once again even though Kenny Omega is on injury leave. Eddie Kingston let 2Point0 & Daniel Garcia know they messed with the wrong man...PAHTNA! And we got a nice promo package hyping up the upcoming Long Island showdown between Jon Silver and Bryan Danielson.
WHAT A HELL OF A MAIN EVENT! FTR continued their streak of tag team classics during a crowd-pleasing war with Pac & Penta El Zero M. There were early moments of miscommunication here and there, but both teams eventually smoothed things out and put on the best match of the evening. In what was the longest attempt to see someone make a hot tag I've ever seen, Pac fought for his life as FTR picked him apart before he finally tagged in Penta. From that point forward, this tag team struggle went into overdrive as both teams pulled out all the stops to nab the win. FTR's sick combination moves, Penta's hot comeback sequence, and Pac's bone-crunching strikes all had the crowd on the edge of their seat. In the end, a face full of mist on behalf of a sneaky Malakai Black put Pac down long enough to take the losing pin. FTR wins, they'll probably get another AEW World Tag Team Championship shot, and Malakai will most likely feud with Pac for the time being.
Botches: None to speak of, honestly...
Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle
High Spots: Mexican wrestling company AAA presented its TripleMania Regia event over the weekend and it featured a nice mix of homegrown talent and some fresh faces from AEW & Impact Wrestling. The most newsworthy events that went down at this Lucha Libre showcase are as follows - Hijo del Vikingo captured the vacant AAA Mega Championship, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez made his return to the ring & looked great while doing it, FTR defeated the Lucha Bros in a ladder match to retain the AAA Tag Team Championship, Taya Valkyrie appeared in a video package to make her intentions of returning to AAA known. All in all, TripleMania Regia put on a fun show that you may want to go out of your way to see (you can catch the replay on FITE TV, by the way).
NWA Hard Times 2 also went down over the weekend and offered some solid squared circle festivities and some shocking surprises to boot. Homicide & Austin Aries won their respective matches in order to qualify for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament, the newly named Dirty Dango (formerly known as WWE's Fandango) showed up alongside JTG to challenge for the NWA World Tag Team Championship, and Matt Cardona (who's arguably having the best year in wrestling thus far!) blew everyone's minds when he appeared at the end of the show to hold up the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship over the fallen body of Trevor Murdoch.
This year's NXT WarGames didn't quite measure up to the TakeOver versions of the signature event. But it still managed to excel in three areas - the Men's and Women's WarGames bouts, plus the NXT Tag Team Championship match. Cora Jade finally gave me something to pop for when she landed a sick Diving Senton from the top of the cage onto Jacy Jayne through a table. She landed in a really bad way though, which forced Io Shirai to pop her dislocated shoulder back in through some unconventional means. That was pretty badass though, I gotta say!
Fabian Achner ended up being the clear MVP of the tag team title match as he showed up and showed out to my genuine surprise. After the match, Von Wagner tried to turn on his new bestie Kyle O'Reilly. But Kyle saw it coming from a mile away and sent his big caveman-lookin' ass to dreamland. The image of Kyle throwing up the old Undisputed Era hand signal and the announcement of a cage match between him & Von on the next episode of NXT 2.0 all add up to a final farewell for the guy, if you ask me. The same can be said for Johnny Gargano, who showed up in some cool gear that combined parts of his previous TakeOver attires and participated in some beautiful throwback moments with his former DIY partner Tomasso Ciampa.
Botches: None to speak of, honestly...